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

  1. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    So, sort of on the same line as my other reviews, I'm just going to tackle the most recent chapter because I'd probably be here forever if I tackled every single one. Also, this is going to be more of a general/reaction-to-plot review than a nitpicking review. In general, your grammar is pretty clean, so there's not really that much to worry about in terms of that anyway.

    In any case, let's get started, shall we?
    Oh boy, the most nerve-wracking time is here XD;

    Just kidding.

    One of the things I've noticed about your writing is the wordiness at times. I know it's very difficult to keep this kind of thing from happening, but try to avoid awkward wording whenever possible. If you're not reading your chapters aloud, it might help to do so.
    I do do that sometimes, but I'm not sure I'm completely seeing what you mean in this part specifically, unless you mean the two uses of "buildings" in the same sentence which is something I just caught myself.

    In this case, for example, you've got a misplaced modifier; on a first read-through, a reader might think you're saying that the coastline was larger than New Bark but smaller than many of the other metropolis-size cities. Remember that a dependent clause following a comma is often attached to the first noun before the aforementioned comma.
    I had to read the line several times to see what you meant, and I do see it now. I think it does hold true either way (whether you're referring to the coastline only or the entire city) but I don't think I can honestly promise to do all that much about it. The sentence sounded perfectly fine to me until I reread it several times times and finally spotted the poor wording, so I don't know how easy it will be for me to catch it next time. I'd like to, but I can't promise it.

    The second sentence, meanwhile, is plagued by the question of "plenty of what?" It might help to think of it like this: your readers are going into your story with a blank slate, so you'll need to describe as much as possible to get your ideas across. Likewise, be very careful with how you word things as well to avoid any awkward phrasing that seems vaguer than you intended.
    This one, however, is something I can clearly see now. That sentence is a muddled mess. I can completely see it and I'm not sure how that happened. That is completely fixable and avoidable, which I'll do my best to do.

    Going to have to agree with what's already been said about making Pierce Tenganist. It adds a lot of depth to his character, particularly given the fact that the anime doesn't give us much in the way of characterization for him.
    Thank you!

    I've got more in store for him. Developing it was something I enjoyed quite a bit, and I think it should work out to make him interesting enough. He has his place in everything.

    In general, I love that you're using canon characters. A lot of people these days scoff at the thought of doing that, but if it's pulled off well, then it becomes a showcase of the author's talent – especially if they're writing in the anime universe. I mean, the anime does a poor job of providing backstory and personalities for characters, so to do so and to do it in a way that makes sense for what we see of the characters shows that a writer can be flexible and competent with characterization all in one go.
    Coming from you, with the great care you put into expanding the characters of Bill and Lanette (for example), I do take that as quite a compliment. Perhaps it's because I enjoy fitting existing characters that lack much specific characterization into a larger plot that allows them to shine more, but taking existing characters and expanding their roles is just something I like doing.

    Perhaps I should clarify here though that this is not strictly anime universe, it's an AU that takes elements of the anime and the games together. I'm doing this because I feel both have strengths that I can combine for greater effect than simply using one or the other alone.

    That and it appeals to the fangirl side of certain folks (like yours truly). On that note, I have to say I'm really excited about seeing the actual Jessie, James, and Meowth in this fic. Not too many people include them (and most people include badly done rip-offs of them), so it'll be fun to read an actual fic with them as main characters – preferably in-character… which they are so far, by the by. (I also have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the scene where they were recruited from their flower shop. It was really cute to see them actually having a legit lifestyle – as in, attempting to make an honest living – before they were dragged right back into Rocket shenanigans. They would live like that, and besides that, that scene gave them a lot of depth for moments like this, where Jessie just wants to get it over with, James is nervous, and Meowth is completely okay with being a part of the Rockets' plan.)
    You literally cannot understand how much of a relief it is to hear this in such detail. Seriously.

    I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to properly balance out some humor with their abilities from Best Wishes!. Especially with the riots this generation over how the trio should be depicted, with the possibility being raised of going back to the (in my opinion) repetitive and unfunny DP versions. I wanted so badly to try to show a way to depict them that doesn't fall into either extreme.

    I wouldn't necessarily categorize them as "main characters," as a few of the other remaining Rockets will appear later; one angle from BW I'm trying to play up is the "team" in "Team Rocket." But yes, there won't be Expys of them in Polaris or anything. The "Jessie, James and Meowth" role here will be filled by Jessie, James and Meowth and no one else.

    I'm glad you liked that scene, too. I'm not sure what I can say about it, but it's something that I hoped people would like.

    Okay, I might have to be blunt for a bit here, and I'm really sorry to say this. I just don't really feel all that attached to Olivia. Back when we were first introduced to her in the XD series, it just felt like she was a stereotypical little kid, a kind of Scrappy Doo for the cast. She didn't really have much development past the whole cute thing.
    I'm not really bothered by you saying that, because quite honestly, I can see exactly why you wouldn't necessarily connect with her yet. I think she has to hit rock bottom before these things can begin to get better; the illusion has to be shattered before progress can be made, and I can tell you, it's coming.

    Now, we're on the Operation GEAR series, and I have to say she does have more depth, but I don't really know what to feel about her. There are times when she curses out Matt or mimics Nekou's vulgarity, and at those times, I'm on the fence. On the one hand, a teenager would try to emulate something she thinks is cool; on the other, it's sometimes tiring to read two characters with basically the same personality.
    Understandable, already putting some work into it.

    Not to mention there's also the discipline issue. Olivia's still a kid, but people are completely okay with her mouthing off at her parental figure. But the parental figure bit is also a bit weird because no one's told her that her dad's dead. I'll admit I've lost track of exactly how old she is at this point, but wouldn't someone have told her, "Oh, well, your dad isn't coming back because he's sort of dead"? Her entire goal is focused on not only finding Rich but also getting his attention or at least doing the equivalent of *****slapping him. Sure, it was mentioned earlier that this gives her fuel to live, but… she's surrounded by people who care about her. She's a trainer. A professor has recruited her to help in her research. Heck, even the subjects she's studying would give her some sense of passion. The point is, she's got plenty to live for, so letting her spend a lot of effort tracking down someone who's dead (someone she's meant to love and respect, given that he's her father and a hero) seems crueler than just saying, "I'm really sorry, Olivia, but he's dead. But it's okay because he would have wanted you to live a fulfilling life, and we care about you." Also, there's the fact that she's old enough to comprehend what death is, so it's almost an insult to her intelligence that they're keeping that from her and letting her continue to work towards that particular goal.
    I want to preface this by saying that I do agree with you.

    What I want to say as a larger point, though, is that to a degree this is how I wanted it to go this early. I wanted this because I wanted to emphasize how terrible a situation Olivia is in without even really being aware and also emphasize just how much Matt failed to really do what had to be done when he was given a responsibility he couldn't handle. He didn't want to feel responsible for disillusioning her (or whatever he feared would happen) so he made the worse choice and kicked the can down the road. That's something I really wanted to put focus on immediately - these aren't flawless characters. They've made major mistakes and caused others serious harm through them. That's a huge part of why Matt is so downcast on himself, because he's aware he screwed up but finds himself trapped in a (seemingly) impossible situation.

    Things have to be broken here before they can be fixed, I think. This isn't where the characters should be at the end, obviously. But I think that starting off on such a broken base is a gamble I'm willing to take. I'm willing to take the risk because I think the payoff will be better in the end.

    But the reason why I'm pulling this particular quote is because she just seems so defeatist and negative. She basically threw a temper tantrum over the fact that she wasn't able to get a Totodile, for starters. For another, when she fell and broke her leg, she was crying because she was defeated, not because, well, breaking your bones hurts like a mother. At this point, she's just berating herself. Yet all that's happened is she got an unexpected starter and nearly got killed. It was the first adventure she's had, and she made it out alive. I mean, Ash pretty much had the same situation happen to him. He got an unexpected starter and nearly got killed. Multiple times, in fact, including one instance where he had to come to terms that he was a selfish idiot (because he nearly had his Metapod killed in the process due to his stupidity). Yet, he still got up and walked onward. I'm not saying that you should have a carbon copy of Ash. (In fact, I encourage you to avoid that.) I'm just wondering why Olivia is acting like it's the end of the world and the end of her journey for her when, well, it just began. She's been through a lot already, so why does this break her? I just feel like not everyone should break down over every negative experience. Certainly, some people would, but it tends to happen a little more frequently than usual with your cast. (It certainly happened a lot with the XD series. It hasn't happened quite as often with the Operation GEAR casts, although Matt has a tendency to do it too. And, well, there's also Anabel, but anyway.)

    On the other hand, I wonder if you're trying to say something about her – like she's trying to represent someone who's not exactly typical. But that's a side thought.
    Well, as far as to why she was reacting in such an ... exaggerated? ... manner, she's banking so much on succeeding at this quest that for it to not go exactly as she intended throws off her entire balance. It's something she's going to have to grow out of, and I can tell you that I do have such a thing already in the works.

    As for when she was lying at the bottom of the cliff, she was most likely delusional and so near blacking out that she didn't even consciously feel the pain.

    Although, I think you might have started to catch onto something by the end of your thought here. For example, she's probably at least guessed at some point that Rich is dead, but she so violently wants to reject that idea that she shut off the part of herself that thought of it. tl;dr of it, she's not exactly well.

    And I love you.
    Aw, thanks! XD;

    One of your stronger storytelling points is your worldbuilding abilities, definitely, and this is one of them. I like reading what people have to say about the way the Pokémon world works, and it's interesting that you're tackling the one thing pretty much no one talks about – how Pokémon centers work in terms of funding and the billing system. It's very interesting that the service is free to trainers with a 'dex and a starter. The explanation fits canon perfectly, and it's completely believable from what we've seen of the main game characters.
    Well, like I've said, in every game you start right away by getting a starter and a Pokedex from the professor (or in the case of the Johto games, professors) while the most notable exceptions - the Orre games - can be handwaved due to how lawless the region is.

    I'm glad you liked it, because it will act as a step into more thematic elements later.

    There's just one little question, though, and that's, "How often do trainers get Pokédexes?" Some of the lines of dialogue in the games (especially in Gen I and FRLG) imply that the 'dex is actually a rare item, and in the animeverse, only people who met with a professor to start a journey received one. The problem lies in the fact that not everyone started their journey by meeting a professor, so you have people like Misty and Brock who might not have had a 'dex. It'd be interesting if this part would be expanded just a bit or at least if the idea could address who can receive a 'dex, who gives out 'dexes, and so forth.
    An excellent question, actually.

    I'm operating under the assumption that Pokedex/starter distribution is indeed a rarity. It is something important to provide background for later elements. You raise an excellent point about characters such as Brock and Misty, to which I guess I can only say that Gym Leaders get special permissions.

    The rest of the questions have answers or answers that are being developed (your raising some of these questions is helping me frame my planning of them) but there's not much I can say right now about them. I don't want to give away too much, but I can say that they are relevant subjects to think about.

    I see what you did there.
    Not the first time you're going to see it.

    I keep going back and forth between moments like these. You do this often enough when introducing characters: you either stop the narration to describe their looks or stop the narration to describe facts like these. The information you bring up is important to know for the most part (although probably not so much if Nando isn't going to be a major character in this story), so in that sense, I'm somewhat more okay with the fact that it's brought up. On the other, I'm also not completely comfortable with the transitions. It's very difficult to pull off an info drop (that is, stopping the narration to talk about something or feed a reader information) because of the fact that you're disrupting the flow of the chapter to do so. It's usually better to integrate information like this into the story, usually whenever appropriate. (In this case, perhaps having a character bring up Nando's Pokémon preferences themselves would do it.) Otherwise, it just sticks out like a nail in the floorboards.

    That and in general, the transition could be smoothed out a bit. You go from talking about his preferences in team members to Matt's line, so there's very little to help ease the reader from topic to topic there.
    This subject has been covered several times by other reviewers, so I'm afraid I haven't much more to say about it. I fully acknowledge that this habit is my weakness, and I'm trying to break myself of it. That's all I've really got to say.

    The transitions point is taken into account, however. I'll work on it.

    This is what I meant by pausing the action to describe a person, by the by. Considering this is a very action-oriented scene (given that it's a battle), it would be better if you linked descriptions of the character to her actions. For example, instead of simply telling us that she was a tall, thin woman and so forth, you could say something along the lines of:

    The tall, lithe woman leaned back as a smirk crossed her thin, tanned face. One of her hands slipped up the leg of her tight-fitting jeans until it rested on the curve of her hip as the other pulled a black tendril of her hair out of her golden eyes. The rest of her dark hair writhed around her as she moved, brushing across the taut, yellow cotton of her top and the swarthy flesh of her midriff with each tiny shift of her body. In all ways, she looked like a snake – all to catch her opponent off-guard.

    Sure, that still pauses the action a little, but these are easier to break apart. As in, you don't have to describe her in one go. Instead, you can take one sentence of this and use it in her introduction. Then, maybe further down the line, you'll be able to use the sentence that describes her hair writhing around her when it feels more appropriate for her to move in a way that would cause it to do that. Maybe at another point, she puts her hands on her hips in frustration, which allows you to use the line about her hips. Or you could keep the paragraph intact, and it would still be a little less obvious that you're describing her because she's still doing something – as in, you're not really stopping the action just to describe her.
    I can't say that that kind of language style is necessarily something I'd feel all that comfortable using myself, but that's really not the point here. If I'm interpreting what you're saying correctly, I think what I could do is simply split the description up completely and slip in bits and pieces of it during the battle instead. I'll have to remember to do that.

    The key in this case is to make it less and less obvious that you're launching into a detailed description. The more you tie each detail with an action, the more subtle it becomes until it turns into just another fragment of the story, if that makes sense.



    This is more of an example of how description is best done, actually. It's integrated with action so that the story doesn't stop just to describe Nando.
    Oh, it makes perfect sense. I think I have just the idea I need to have to get this right, I just need to put it into practice.

    One of the many things I have to give you credit for is the way you get across creativity in battle. Not too many people remember that battles aren't just a couple of people duking it out on a generic field wherein nothing but attacks can be used to one's advantage. I know that there was an instance in the last chapter where Olivia took advantage of the layout of the field (i.e., the fact that Zorua was using Dig) to attack, and in this instance, you have Nando make a move that isn't just another attack. It makes battles more interesting because it's no longer possible to predict exactly what characters are going to do. They could very well attack directly, or they could manipulate the field or put themselves into a new strategic position or a million other different things.

    In short, battles aren't predictable or repetitive in this fic, and that's something I appreciate because not a lot of people know how to keep battles from being predictable or repetitive. It's very refreshing to see a match be something other than Pokémon A uses Move B on Pokémon C over and over again, and it keeps things suspenseful and exciting to read.

    (See, kids? Battles can be interesting to write about and read, even if they're not climactic battles. You just have to do them correctly.)
    Now here's something I took vast inspiration from the anime for. A good battle can be exciting enough in the games, but when you have the freedom that a more open medium grants you, you would be foolish to not take advantage of it, I think. You just have so many options at your disposal for battles here.

    One battle I hold up as a gold standard for this is the Nando VS. Zoey battle from episode 176 of Diamond and Pearl, which puts Nando's Kricketune and Lopunny against Zoey's Mismagius and Leafeon. On paper it's just a Double Battle between four UU-at-best Pokemon, but in practice it turns into a very exciting match in which both sides use each others' moves to build their own, and the outcome is not clear until the very end.

    I think you're going to be very pleased with what you see next chapter.

    …But shame on you for tilde abuse.
    I know I shouldn't be defending myself here, but I couldn't figure out another way to indicate Nando's sing-song voice in a line like that.

    However, I do have to comment about pacing here. I know that Trick Room is in effect, but at the same time, it seems a bit off that Nando would have time to meditate and think about what was going on while Zapdos is launching an attack. Attacks are still fairly quick unless there happened to be a lot of distance between Zapdos and Leavanny, so I'm having some difficulty picturing exactly what's going on here.

    Just remember that it's okay to fudge game mechanics a little. That includes the turn-based system.
    While your larger point is correct, in this case, Zapdos was quite far above Leavanny when it started its attack, and the adapted effect of Trick Room drastically slowed down its movements. In order to make a move like Trick Room function more realistically, I changed it from just blatantly reversing the order of who attacks when and made it so the more speed a Pokemon has before Trick Room is initiated determines how dramatically slowed down that Pokemon becomes. In this case, Zapdos is normally very fast, so it was slowed by a great amount.

    Also, we were talking privately about how you might trim a chapter, and if you're still interested, this may be a good example. See, chapters should only contain enough information to drive the story forward. While Nando's battle with Dahlia does convince Matt that he needs to train, it might not have been necessary to show all of the battle. Sure, the attacks were beautifully described and the strategies were fascinating to read, but it also seemed out-of-place, considering Nando doesn't immediately have anything to do with the rest of the cast. As in, the only thing that affects Matt and company in this scene is Nando's victory; even if Matt had only seen Exploud versus Zapdos instead of Leavanny's matches, the outcome would have been the same because a sample of Nando's talent is still encapsulated in the very last match of the battle. So, you could actually distill the battle down to just the last part (Exploud vs. Zapdos) and still have it inspire Matt. That makes whatever came before it rather superfluous, and superfluous information just adds to your page count while serving as a distraction from the main point.

    Of course, if you want to keep that part of the battle in, it can probably also be left in without making the chapter feel like it's dragging on, but it's definitely an option when it comes to trimming things down.
    I want to go for something that doesn't compress around the main cast to a claustrophobic degree in this story, which I hope to get by giving other characters some focus of their own once in a while to increase the scale of the plot. That, and the battle also served to introduce Dahlia as the major driving force of this two-chapter arc, setting up her strength and fighting style so not only Matt but the reader themselves should feel prepared for the formal battle with her next chapter. The entire events of these two chapters revolve in some way around Dahlia or at least tangentially involve her, so I wanted to give her more screentime as well.

    It's not like she's spilled her entire bag of tricks yet, either.

    Be careful. Don't fall into the trap of telling instead of showing, and this is actually one case of it. Instead of showing us Feraligatr struggling to move, maybe wincing and hunching over as he steadied himself (or something along those lines to show that Feraligatr is struggling after the Double-Edge), you simply tell us that he's hesitating because of the attack. That's one thing I've noticed now and then: you say "due to" and then launch into an explanation, and that's something that you may want to phase out of your writing because it makes it easier for you to tell instead of show.
    Yeah, I'm not sure how I let that happen. I'm going to have to fix it.

    I also have to appreciate the fact that you realize a battle needs to be drawn out. Tying in with the idea that your battles aren't just Pokémon A uses Move B against Pokémon C, Pokémon don't just knock each other out with a couple of hits. That makes battles all the more exciting because it's just not something that happens in fanfiction for some reason. Maybe it's because people just don't want to spend that much time on battles, or maybe it's just because people are eager to get to the end because they already know the outcome. Either way, it's different to see a battle that's drawn out over a messload of pages, and while I had a feeling Matt would win, it was still a satisfying read.
    I was actually afraid that some of the battles were too short.

    But anyway, I'm glad once again that you liked the battles. I'm shooting to give the reader some great visuals when I write battles, which I think is something that acts as a major hook into the scenes. Of course, they also have to be well-written, so I take great care in doing research on the Pokemon in each battle to determine their moves, an adaptation of their game actions, tactics and so on. I like going out of the box, which is why I gave Gengar the Toxic/Venoshock combo and Metronome, which could only be obtained as a Move Tutor move in FRLG.

    Now, okay, I have to say that I knew Matt would win, and it's because of something I told you in private about the XD series a long time ago. Namely, there's a definite lean towards the protagonist. As in, I think it's pretty rare to have one of your main characters lose, and when it happens, it's devastating. For example, one of the first battles we've seen in this particular fic had Olivia winning despite using low-leveled (for the most part) Pokémon. The only time she lost a fight of some kind was when she had to be given a reason to beat herself up (i.e., the fight against the Bisharp army). More recently, Nando wins against a legendary owned by a Frontier Brain – which, okay, is something Ash has been known to do, but still. Before that, I can't really think of any moments where the main characters have actually lost a battle except for one instance in XD^3.

    It's really just something I noticed, and it could just be me (as in, maybe I'm forgetting instances everywhere wherein a main protagonist loses a match). If it's not just me, though, let me just say that the story is still enjoyable either way, but it would be cool to get some variety so that it's a little bit harder to predict. That and it might be more satisfying to read about moments when a character nets a victory if their win-loss ratio was a bit more even.
    It's a little hard for me to answer this one without giving away too much. I am aware of what you're saying.

    You may get your wish at some point. That's all I can say. I'm sure you understand.

    Another thing I noticed? I thought it was unusual that you were going for game portrayals of moves instead of anime portrayals (like in the case of Venoshock), but that's really just your preference. It does strike me as curious either way, though, so… there's that.
    Well, in the case of Venoshock for example, it's just a recolored Sludge Bomb in the anime. I want moves to look unique, so I adapted the game portrayal and modified it to make it a literal "shock" of "venom."

    Overall, it's really not a bad story. The pacing is well done (even though you could cut some material out if you wanted to), and the premise is pretty riveting. Not only that, but you have a knack for taking canon characters and making them deep and interesting while still being spot-on. Not to mention your battles are frequently well-described and exciting – not at all turn-based or game-like. In that sense, this is actually a pretty good fic.
    Thanks again!

    It's just that there's some bits centering around the characters that could be worked out. For example, there's the tendency to stop all narration to describe a character. For another, there's the fact that the protagonists have an inordinately high chance of winning a battle, which tends to make the fight scenes slightly predictable.

    But more than that, I have to say I'm undecided about a lot of your OCs. There are times when I really like what you do with them. (For example, Matt is one of my favorite characters right now because he feels like such an underdog despite the fact that he's pretty competent. Satsukoro was one of my favorites in the XD series because of his complex backstory.) On the other, some of your characters are also difficult for me to like. (I'm not fond of Nekou because I don't see her as badass as much as immature – like a teenage boy trying to convince me that he's awesome, and I'm not fond of Olivia because of how she used to be a childlike stereotype and is now prone to tantrums and teenage angst.) I'm not quite sure how to feel about your villains either (because almost all of them turn out to be psychotic and violent). I'm not quite sure what you can take away from this comment or how you might be able to improve on your weaker characters, given that it's pretty late in the series for all of them; I just wanted to get it out there that basically the only thing that might be affecting the quality of your fic are some of the OCs' personalities.
    Hmmm. Well, first off, I'm glad that you like Matt. You've definitely got the right idea on him - he doesn't do a bad job, all things considered, but no matter how hard he tries he just keeps getting more in over his head when bigger obstacles come up.

    re; Nekou and Olivia: I think my big problem here is that I overplayed my hand with them too soon. I've already begun taking measures to scale it back while writing the next chapter. I want to portray Olivia as a bit more clearly troubled for more understandable reasons while Nekou gets more dimension to her character. I only ask that you give them some more time, because they haven't come into their own fully yet.

    Also, it's not relevant right now but there is a reason Nekou is the way she is.

    re; Villains: I'd chalk this up mainly to circumstances. In the previous stories, Colonel Nixon was a corrupt military official during a more warlike time, so violence from him would be expected. Meanwhile, Liam Everton had to be the spiritual successor to Grings Kodai, the antagonist of the Zoroark movie, so he had to take everything Kodai did up to the proverbial eleven.

    As for right now, Ghetsis is Ghetsis, there's not much more that can be said about him. Rest assured that not all of the rest of Polaris is like him - he's only the useful one to use as an introductory villain since he's a known quantity already. I think I've assembled a decent cast of villain types for the Sacred Helix, which should come out more once the others get more time.

    Of course, this is literally the only thing. Shrugging off the typos, you've done some impressive work with canon characters, battles, and descriptions in general (and not just of characters), and that much is what a lot of writers fail to do. That's where the strong points of your fic lie, and I honestly think your story still works because in the end, that list embodies basically most of the spirit of Operation GEAR. You can still work with the OCs you've got. (And to be fair, they're a lot deeper than a number of other OCs out there; they just hit my "these kinds of people annoy the **** out of me" button. …Which may actually be a good thing because I'm annoyed because of their personalities, not because they're flat characters.) That's because in the end, you still have a story that stands up on its own.

    So in that sense, this story isn't that bad. I'll definitely keep an eye on it.
    Thank you for your extremely kind words and generous review.

    I can't promise that all these things will be immediately addressed in the next chapter (for one, it's almost half done already) but I'll shoot for that "isn't that bad" to become "is pretty good" or something. Hey, goals motivate, right?

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  2. #52
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    It should be noted that there’ll be some dark stuff discussed later in this chapter, such as a discussion of a genocide against a certain group of people. None of it is depicted though.

    Hopefully you’ll still enjoy!

    -:-

    CHAPTER 5: Reaching for the Arcade Star (Part 2)

    -:-

    A blazing orange crept over the land as the sun rose the next morning, spreading peals of warm light over the autumn trees of the Tohjo Continent. Cherrygrove City glittered in the shine; for as depressing a place as the city could be, the first minutes of daylight brought even Cherrygrove’s dull streets to life.

    Just outside the city, in the thicker woods off the road north, Jessie, James and Meowth stood speaking to Pierce.

    “…that is what you need to know about what’s going on,” Pierce finished, running a hand through his shoulder-length, dark blue hair before putting his hat back on over it. He had just finished explaining a truncated version of his work from the past twenty-four hours. “I am going to return to the base to meet with Dr. Zager and Ariana regarding this. That means you three are in charge of maintaining the mission here in the field until I return.”

    “But what are we supposed to do if things go bad? You were our extraction!”

    “You know, James has got a point here,” Meowth concurred with his human companion. “Say we go after that chunk of space rock and Polaris shows up. Then what?”

    With her hand on her hip, Jessie stepped up to face the others. “Do you two even hear yourselves? The boss didn’t put us on this mission for nothing. If we play our cards carefully we’re going to be just fine. We don’t have to have our hands held for everything we do!”

    “You’re both right,” Pierce intervened. “I will return to aid you once more when my business at the base is finished. It will not be that long. For now, this is your assignment – continue monitoring the group involving Matt Chiaki, Olivia Mistbloom, Bunny Spruce and Dante Fantomos. The old man is in possession of the Meteonite fragment, so if you get a chance to take it with little risk, do it. If not, remember that a contingency plan is already uploaded into your R-Pad.”

    “Ah, fine,” James said, gritting his teeth. “Make it back safely.”

    “Very well. I wish you luck.”

    Pierce turned and walked away, the tails of his coat fluttering behind him from the force of his sharp movements. Once he was far enough from the trio, Jessie let out an annoyed sigh.

    “This is going to be a lot harder than it has to be if you don’t put some effort into it, James!” she yelled, straightening her back to give herself a height advantage over her partner.

    “Oh, come on, Jessie, you know I’m not throwing it in that easily. I just don’t like taking orders from Pierce.”

    “I agree with that,” Meowth chimed in. “The boss is the only one who’s worthy of giving us orders!”

    “We’ll listen to Pierce but the boss is the one we really work hard for.”

    Considering what her teammates had to say, Jessie realized they had a good point and backed down. “Finally, something we can all agree on. Let’s get a move on and see if we can track down that group in Cherrygrove!”

    -:-

    “So this is it, then…” Matt softly said while lifting the front of his hat, enabling himself to see further upward without raising his head.

    Nestled in a cluster of tall buildings near Cherrygrove City’s shoreline stood a wide structure with four spires reaching up to the sky, each one ending in a diamond-patterned onion dome. The early afternoon sun glittered on the façade, casting a glare over the street where Matt, Nekou, Olivia, Bunny and Dante all stood. Several red flags trimmed with gold borders hung around the building’s entrance, each bearing the stylized Poké Ball surrounded by seven stars that served as the Frontier Society’s logo.

    “Yeah, you’re right,” Bunny concurred, “this is it, the Battle Arcade.”

    “Then what are we waiting for? Let’s go!”

    Nekou’s remark spurred Matt into action, and without another word he approached the double doors of the Battle Arcade, which slid open to allow him inside. Dante immediately followed, while Nekou at first hesitated. Once she saw that Bunny was helping Olivia walk, though, she also went through the entrance, with the injured girl and the archeologist bringing up the rear.

    None of them noticed Jessie, James, Meowth and Wobbuffet – all disguised in their trenchcoats – slip in right behind them.

    The lobby that awaited beyond the threshold was a dimly-lit place, with neon lights on the walls and ceiling largely substituting for normal sources of illumination. An orange carpet lined with golden diamonds stretched from the doors to a desk across the room, while nearby, a small cluster of tables framed by floor lamps offered other visitors a place of rest.

    Not wishing to waste any time, Matt immediately and briskly walked to the desk, where a woman in a green business suit and beret was waiting.

    “Welcome to the Battle Arcade!” the receptionist greeted him, using a warm voice. “Are you here for a challenge?” When Matt nodded, the woman continued, “You’re in luck. There are no challengers signed up ahead of you for the day, so you’ll be going right in. Is this your first visit to a Frontier Society facility?”

    “Yeah, why?”

    “May I have your name?”

    “Matt Chiaki. What is this about?

    “Just give me a second to register you in our database…” Turning to the computer on her desk, the receptionist typed for a moment, then looked up again. “All done. Pretty quick, huh? You’ll be needing these two things...”

    The woman pushed two objects into Matt’s hands. The first was an identification card bearing Matt’s name and picture, colored red and gold like the Frontier Society’s flag, while the other was a small box with seven indentations inside.

    “Your Frontier Pass and Medal Box,” she explained. “The Frontier Pass will get you into the Frontier Society’s facilities and services, while the Medal Box is to store the awards you’ll get from defeating Frontier Brains. Speaking of which, are you ready to begin?”

    “Yes.”

    “Then the next thing I’m going to need are the three Pokémon you intend to enter. Please allow me to check them.”

    “I’ll be going with my Aggron, Rotom and Seismitoad,” he answered as he stored the documents and handed over the Poké Ball, Ultra Ball and Dive Ball containing his chosen Pokémon.

    Using a handheld scanner, the receptionist inspected the three spheres, downloading images of their respective Pokémon into her computer. She then returned them to their owner, saying, “Your entry is fully processed. Are you ready to go in?”

    “I am,” Matt replied, placing the orbs into his bag. Before walking away, though, he turned around to the others, who had since arrived behind him. “You guys are going to the audience area, right?” he asked, gesturing to a doorway a short distance away marked ‘Audience Seating’ in neon letters.

    “I guess so,” Nekou answered. She puffed up her cheeks and exaggerated her facial expression to act like she was frustrated at being told to go somewhere, even though she fully knew this was normal and to be expected. “Don’t **** it up out there, or there’ll be hell to pay. I’ll see to that.”

    “Somehow I’m not sure that’s actually encouraging,” Matt sighed, grimacing.

    “Now, I think she has a point.” Surprisingly, it was Dante coming to Nekou’s defense. “Maybe she worded her encouragement poorly, but she is right in that you cannot progress if you are stuck here.”

    “If you put it that way, I guess I understand. I wouldn’t want to hold up Olivia from reaching Violet City and getting her badge either. Anyway, wish me luck out there.”

    “You can beat her,” Bunny gently said, setting her hand on Matt’s shoulder. “Just leave everything out here to me.”

    “Thanks. See you guys later, then.”

    With that, the group split in two. While Matt followed the receptionist into one of the nearby doors, the others went for the seating area. Bunny assisted Olivia in balancing on her crutches, while Nekou ate from a bag of potato chips she’d gotten from somewhere. Dante, finally, remained distant from the three young women, walking stiffly with his cane in one hand and the briefcase containing the Meteonite fragment in the other.

    On the other side of the lobby, Jessie, James and Meowth waited, watching them. The trio of agents blended into the casino-like atmosphere of the Battle Arcade rather well in their trenchcoats, hats and sunglasses. Wobbuffet was with them, too, wearing a similar disguise of his own.

    “There they go,” James observed while standing with his arms crossed. “How should we do this?”

    “Attacking the old man in a public place like this would only go wrong for us,” commented Jessie. “I say we just go in there and watch what happens for now.”

    Meowth gave a nod of approval, then added, “We got five pairs of eyes on that old man and the space rock. They ain’t going anywhere.”

    Finding themselves all on the same page, the members of Team Rocket entered the audience area themselves.

    -:-

    The receptionist had led Matt down a long, narrow hallway before stopping abruptly near a closed green curtain. Because the hallway was just as dark as the lobby had been, Matt nearly crashed into her.

    “Oh! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…”

    “Please, don’t worry about it. Now, you need to wait here for a moment.” The woman bowed slightly in a show of courtesy toward Matt.

    “What? Why?”

    Matt’s question was answered almost immediately, when the announcer’s voice came blaring through the curtains into the hallway, accompanied by an eruption of audience cheering. “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Battle Arcade! A day full of high-energy battling is about to get underway!”

    Thunderous applause filtered through the curtain into the hallway, leading Matt to realize quickly exactly what he would be facing once he stepped through. Never feeling all that comfortable in front of a crowd in a closed setting, he started breathing deeply and pacing in an attempt to ward off the attack of nerves that he felt coming on.

    “I can tell you’re all fired up, so let’s move ahead and get started with the first show of the day! Coming in first is a challenger who is making his debut on our young Frontier Society circuit! Going for his first medal here at the Battle Arcade, please welcome Matt from Snowpoint City!”

    Matt found that all the attempts he’d made to tame his nerves amounted to nothing when the curtain in front of him whisked open, leaving him nearly completely locked up. Barely able to breathe, he shuffled out a short distance onto the black runway leading to the battlefield before nervously eyeing the audience.

    Spotting Nekou, Bunny, Olivia and Dante sitting in the front row along with Marie and Olivia’s Minccino gave him a burst of energy, especially when he saw Olivia with her mind seemingly off her broken leg. Feeling revitalized, he picked up his pace and reached his box on the battlefield, where he stopped. A rotund man wearing a pair of dark sunglasses was already there, waiting in a space just off to the side of the field’s middle.

    Immediately upon his arrival, the tall, thin screen on Matt’s side of the arena illuminated to display icons of the three Pokémon he’d selected, Aggron, Rotom and Seismitoad.

    “Our challenger is now set!” the announcer declared while Matt simply stood there, still feeling some nerves from the relatively small space and the crowd. The lights dimmed and multicolored disco lights started to flow around the stadium, leading the audience to cheer more loudly than ever. “Yes, everyone, you know what that means! You know what time it is! Now, allow me to introduce once more the woman of the hour! The one you’ve all been waiting for! The one, the only… Arcade Star Dahlia!!”

    Simultaneously, the lights in the stadium came back up and the audience erupted in the loudest round of cheering yet. All of this was over the caped figure that appeared in a burst of confetti at the opposite end of the battlefield.

    With fluid movements that almost made her body look as if it was made of water, Dahlia moved down her runway, waving to the crowd all the while. Once she reached her destination, she stopped and waved one last time before turning toward Matt. Her screen, meanwhile, displayed her Pokémon in the same order as the day before – Togekiss, Ludicolo and Zapdos.

    “Welcome, challenger!” Dahlia cheerfully said in greeting, striking a sharp pose with her hand on her hip. “Welcome to my Battle Arcade! How are you feeling today? Lucky?”

    “Let’s just say I’ll be feeling more lucky once we get this battle going,” he replied straightforwardly. This wasn’t a lie, as the anticipation of the battle was intimidating him more than the battle itself. Unfortunately, he was unable to mask it well.

    “Are you nervous or just eager to get this show on the road? Either way, let’s give you exactly what it is you want!” A thin pedestal with a red button on it rose out of the floor in front of Matt, visibly startling him. Picking up on this, Dahlia spoke, “Surprised? What we’re gonna do before battling is test just how lucky you really are! Bring up the game board!”

    On Dahlia’s cue, the central video screen displayed a grid of sixteen squares, arranged in four rows of four. Each space had a different symbol on it, apparently signifying something different in each box.

    “This big game board will determine the conditions we battle under,” Dahlia explained. “Anything could come from it. You could trigger a rainstorm, or maybe some sunlight or relentless hail... we could battle in a Trick Room or with our Pokémon asleep… we could even trade teams before we battle! Truly, the possibilities are endless!” Having worked herself into a frenzy, Dahlia threw her arms into the air before finishing her speech. “Hit the button to stop the board, okay? Now… set it in motion! Let’s go!”

    An orange frame lit up around the upper-left corner space on the grid and began cycling past each of the board’s sixteen squares. Overwhelmed by the sudden pressure he felt from the correct realization that the outcome of this could decide the battle before it even started, Matt tried to push aside thoughts of the crowd and focus in on the game board.

    From his quick inspections, he picked out the weather effect tiles, plus the Trick Room space that he’d seen Nando battling under the previous day. He also concluded that a tile with two opposite arrows was the aforementioned team-trading space, and that a lightning bolt space would inflict paralysis on his Pokémon. Running through some ideas in his head, he devised a quick plan and zeroed in on the space he wanted.

    “Now!” he shouted, slamming down on the button.

    “The battle condition has been decided!” blared the announcer. “This battle will be conducted under a steady rainfall!”

    Crystal generators similar to those in the Trainer House glowed to life in a ring around the ceiling of the stadium, and mere moments later, clouds gathered and rain started to fall over the battlefield. The space the frame had stopped on – a tile displaying a water drop – now filled the entire central screen.

    “So it’s rain, huh? Once again, the board delivers a turn on the road of life... luck is not just what twists and turns that road throws at us, but also how we deal with them and thus make our own luck. Is that something you’re good at?”

    “I get the feeling you’re going to answer for me,” Matt deadpanned in response. “The answer is how this battle turns out, isn’t it?”

    “You’re pretty smart. Since you know how things are going to go here, let’s waste not a single moment more!” Tearing off her cape and throwing it aside, an action that revealed her familiar outfit from the day before, Dahlia posed dramatically, yelling, “Show me your luck! No, show me if you can conquer it and make luck your own!!”

    “If that’s what you want me to do...” Matt took out his Poké Ball, but hesitated slightly because of the crowd cheering once again. “…I…I’ll show you what you want! Tony, make your mark!”

    “Dance, Togekiss!” Dahlia immediately called back, rolling a Poké Ball of her own down her outstretched arm before popping it open.

    Materializing on Matt’s side of the field, Tony straightened to his full height and roared, then locked eyes with the Togekiss that emerged from Dahlia’s Poké Ball. The Normal-and-Flying-type Togekiss showed no fear in her eyes, even as she was confronted by the mighty Aggron.

    “The battle between the challenger, Matt, and the Arcade Star, Dahlia, will now begin!” The referee raised his arm upward before bringing it down in a chopping motion. “Go!”

    “Tony, start strong!” Matt exclaimed, stretching out his arm to point at Togekiss. “Head Smash, now!”

    Undeterred by the echoing roar Tony sent ringing through the Battle Arcade’s stadium prior to his charge, Dahlia shook herself in another of her fluid dance moves as she directed, “Togekiss, move aside and use Water Pulse.”

    Well before Tony could collide with her, Togekiss glided off to the side of the field, leaving the Aggron to hit nothing but thin air. She then began to spin, forming an upright circle with the tips of her wings. This circle soon became physical upon being traced in a stream of water from Togekiss’s wings, and it flowed straight into Tony, pushing the growling Steel-and-Rock-type back. The attack was strengthened in intensity by the rainfall, which added water to the ring to increase its size.

    While Tony nursed the burn-like wound that the Water Pulse had left on his hide, Matt was left to reassess his opponent in a silent panic. Dahlia’s overwhelming confidence could be seen in footage of her battles, but he realized that seeing was only one part of it. Standing across a battlefield from Dahlia was another thing entirely, as her spirit burned powerfully enough to almost be physically felt. Looking at her standing there with her hand on her hip and her gaze fixed on the Pokémon, Matt very quickly found himself feeling in over his head.

    “Togekiss, use Water Pulse again!”

    Snapping back to attention, Matt saw the second ring of water flying toward Tony and immediately blurted out, “Dodge it!”

    If the Battle Arcade was a facility of luck, Matt wasn’t having much of it, as even though Tony bent back in an attempt to let the Water Pulse sail over him, it still caught the edge of his steel horns and pulled him back until he fell over completely.

    “Aggron goes down, but it’s not out yet! Will Matt be able to turn this around somehow, or will the Arcade Star take the lead in a decisive motion?”

    “He’s embarrassing himself out there,” Nekou said monotonously, resting her head on one hand in a fit of exaggerated boredom as she took a handful of chips from her bag with the other. “Dahlia’s making a fool out of him… he can’t touch her in the least.”

    “It’s only just started,” commented Bunny, “so don’t give up yet.”

    “If I was giving up I would have left already.”

    “Come on, Matt, pull yourself together!”

    Olivia’s plea managed to restore some of Matt’s confidence, but before he could even calculate a new approach, Dahlia was on the attack again.

    “Togekiss, get ready to finish this!” she shrilled while her Pokémon took up a position right over Tony. “Water Pulse, straight down!”

    “I see it!” An idea suddenly came to Matt, and he wasted no time in putting it into motion. “Tony, Head Smash! If Togekiss is aiming down, you aim up!”

    Because of her spinning, Togekiss did not see Tony using his tail as a spring to throw himself into the air toward her. It was this blind spot that allowed Tony to finally land a hit, headbutting Togekiss hard enough to cause her half-formed Water Pulse to explode, throwing both Pokémon in opposite directions – Tony fell downward and crashed into the ground, while Togekiss flew back violently and somersaulted through the air.

    “So you’ve got some fight in you, huh?” A light giggle escaped Dahlia’s lips while she shifted her weight from one leg to the other. “Looks like I’m going to have to step up my game a little. Togekiss, use Psychic on the rain!”

    “Head Smash once more!” Matt reflexively answered, not realizing what Dahlia was doing even when individual drops of rain began getting caught in the purple light of Togekiss’s power.

    Tony charged, but soon found his movement impeded by something weighing down his left leg. Both he and his trainer realized in horror what it was all too late – a cluster of raindrops had been forcefully congealed around that limb, rendering it useless. Before Matt could figure out any way out of this trap, and before Tony could lash the surprisingly heavy water off of himself, Togekiss used Psychic to pin down his other leg and both arms before completely encasing him in a tight cocoon of water.

    “Like that one?” Dahlia casually said to Matt, who simply stood there stunned by his Aggron’s ordeal. “That’s actually one of my favorite Contest moves. I see you look surprised… did you actually think I’d leave everything up to luck? Like I said, the best kind of luck is the kind you make for yourself. This Battle Arcade and everything inside it is my home, and in here, everything happens according to my luck. You’re clearly relying on something different… chance. Chance is when you throw all caution to the wind and let things happen as they will… now let me show you what the true meaning of luck is. Togekiss, the grand finale!” Throwing her arms wide, Dahlia called out into the air, “Water Pulse!!”

    Flying to just above where Tony was bound in place, Togekiss started spinning again, drawing water upward from the trapped Aggron. The two Pokémon became surrounded by the same fluctuating stream of water, but a brief moment later, a bright glow radiated from Togekiss’s half of the fluid structure, and the entire thing exploded in a spectacular and violent burst of shining water and wind.

    Matt had to shield his face from the surf-like spray thrown on him as well as the harsh gust, which hurt his eye. The sustained force of the blast Togekiss trigged blew his hair and coat for several seconds; meanwhile, Dahlia was facing the same conditions, but she simply stood there as if none of it fazed her, her wild black hair flying in all directions.

    Finally, the force radiating from the center of the stage abated, revealing the almost painfully obvious results – a winded but otherwise fairly healthy Togekiss flapping her wings cheerfully over the prone form of her defeated Steel-and-Rock-type opponent.

    The referee raised his arm toward Dahlia and announced, “Aggron is unable to battle! The winner is Togekiss!”

    “Down goes Aggron, marking the fall of a dangerous enemy for Dahlia’s Togekiss! With only Rotom and Seismitoad left, is it already too late for Matt?”

    Even from the stands, Bunny could see that the question posed by the announcer was evidently already on Matt’s mind. She watched him silently call Tony back to his Poké Ball, recognizing the same sudden soullessness she’d seen on her archeological projects with him when something went terribly wrong.

    “Is he going to be okay?”

    Snapping out of her bubble, Bunny turned to see Olivia pulling on Nekou’s arm. What truly surprised her wasn’t the fact that Olivia was turning to Nekou for alleviation of her doubts, as she’d already recognized how the two seemed to connect. It was instead how deadly serious Nekou seemed to be treating the whole matter.

    “You don’t worry, Olivia,” the dark-haired woman reassured. “Even if he can’t come through for himself, he’ll do it for you. The amount of strength one can gain just by knowing their actions mean something to someone else is unbelievable.”

    “Right.” Olivia nodded, smiled weakly, then turned back to the battle and screamed out as loud as she could, “Come on, you! Don’t you let me down!!”

    His face blank, Matt slowly turned to the stands, completely oblivious to the rest of the crowd cheering for Dahlia’s decisive actions. He saw Olivia, and with something in his mind clicking, he shook his head and snapped back to attention.

    “There you go,” Nekou thought with a smile. “I knew you wouldn’t **** up when it came to helping her out.”

    “Got yourself together yet?” Dahlia called out across the battlefield. “Togekiss and I want to see which of your Pokémon we’re up against next!”

    “I know exactly what I’m doing now,” Matt replied after a brief hesitation. Readying the Ultra Ball in his hand, he yelled as he threw it, “Nikola, make your mark!”

    “Matt calls upon his Frost Forme Rotom as his second Pokémon!” exclaimed the announcer, putting words to the image of Nikola taking shape in the stadium.

    “Ah, now that’s something I don’t see every day! I’m pleasantly surprised at you, but that doesn’t mean I’ll go easy. Togekiss, start this off with a bang! Hyper Beam!”

    “Block it with Thunderbolt!”

    Acting swiftly, Togekiss hummed serenely while charging up energy in the form of a red sphere in front of her face. Nikola took aim and fired a horizontal bolt of lightning just in time to intercept the pulsating beam that burst from Togekiss’s mouth. It failed to stop the Hyper Beam completely, but Thunderbolt did serve some function, as the beam was split up and only a fraction of it struck its target.

    “Rotom, tom,” Nikola said, shaking off the weaker but still forceful blow it had received. A dark patch on its midsection was one of the few signs left of the hit.

    Togekiss, meanwhile, did not escape scot-free either. Having expended much of her energy to create and fire the Hyper Beam, she could now only float before Dahlia, breathing heavily as she waited for her strength to return.

    “Dahlia, do you remember what you said earlier about luck, chance and this Battle Arcade?”

    “Yeah?” Dahlia inquisitively answered, scrunching her face. “What about it?”

    “I think two people can have the same luck. Chance has given me a shot of demonstrating that. Nikola, use Blizzard up into the clouds!”

    Both Dahlia and the collective audience gasped in surprise at Matt’s improvised strategy. Almost immediately upon Nikola beginning to shoot gusts of frosty wind up into the rainclouds, the rain itself changed temporarily into hail. The icy stones crashed loudly against the battlefield, but Dahlia was paying that no heed. Instead, she was staring at and gesturing frantically to her Togekiss while attempting to give it commands. As she was caught in the sudden storm, Togekiss could only suffer under repeated strikes until she gave in and fell to the ground.

    “Dahlia’s Togekiss goes down,” declared the commentator, over a deafening roar from the crowd, “but is it out? We know how the Arcade Star is in situations like this!”

    “That’s right, when your luck runs out, you improvise… that’s what you just did, isn’t it?” As Dahlia spoke, the rain returned, blocking out the false Hail.

    “You talked about this Battle Arcade being a place where you control all the luck in the facility as your own. Well, I think it’s time I took some of that luck myself. Nikola, finish it off with Thunderbolt!”

    A single jagged bolt of lightning flashed out from Nikola’s plasma body, which had turned from blue to yellow as static built up in it. Pinned to the ground by chunks of ice, Togekiss could not escape from this counterattack. She was left helpless to avoid being struck down, and her body went limp after the initial shock of Thunderbolt wore off.

    “Togekiss is unable to battle! The winner is Rotom!”

    “Score one for the challenger in a decisive blow! We’re now even, with one Pokémon down on each side! Now, let’s see what the Arcade Star’s next course of action is!”

    “See, I told you he’d pull through for you,” Nekou said to Olivia.

    “You were right, but let’s see if he can actually win this battle completely.”

    While Nekou and Olivia were exchanging comments on Matt, Bunny happened to glance over to her other side. She spotted Dante sitting rigidly in the next seat, staring intently at the battle as if he was intending to memorize every single detail of it. At first disturbed by this, she quickly brushed it off and decided to pay it no mind.

    “You did very well, my dear Togekiss,” Dahlia whispered to the Poké Ball she’d recalled her beloved Pokémon to. “I think I underestimated you, Matt.”

    “Don’t be so sure. How can you say that I didn’t just get lucky?”

    “Luck only goes so far. I’ve got a knack for telling when I’m up against someone who can give me a challenge, and right now, whether you realize it or not, I’m getting that feeling. Now let’s see what you can really do. Dance, Ludicolo!”

    Dahlia threw her Net Ball next, which released the green, pineapple-shaped Pokémon within. Ludicolo began dancing cheerfully almost immediately, taking great pleasure in the rain.

    “A Water-and-Grass-type,” Matt observed, trying to carefully examine Ludicolo to the best of his ability. He was however unable to glean much from simply seeing it standing and dancing, and he didn’t have that much available to him as a result of seeing Nando fight her, so he decided to use a straightforward approach. “Let’s just attack and see what happens, Nikola. Signal Beam, go!”

    A bright light flashed out of the spike on the top of Nikola’s refrigerator body, followed by a rainbow-colored beam of energy. Ludicolo, seeing the ray approaching her, stopped dancing and stood still.

    “Now, Ludicolo! Drain Punch!”

    In the blink of an eye, Ludicolo disappeared into thin air, visibly astounding both Matt and Nikola. Just as quickly, however, she materialized again right in front of the floating Electric-and-Ice-type, with just enough space to pull her arm back and deliver a powerful, glowing punch that slammed Nikola downward.

    “Fueled by Swift Swim, Dahlia’s Ludicolo lands a devastating blow! Let’s see how the challenger manages to deal with this development… or will he even be able to?”

    “That’s right, do you like it?” Dahlia asked of her surprised, stunned opponent. “Rain is perfect for my Ludicolo and her Swift Swim ability. Will you be able to keep up with our speed, or are you already left in the dust?”

    “There’s got to be a way out of this,” Matt thought, even going as far as shutting his eyes to try to focus. “Come on, think of something!”

    “What’s the matter, Ludicolo got your tongue?” Dahlia was clearly taunting Matt, trying to goad him into attacking while continuing to stand with her hands on her hips. “Let me loosen it up then. Energy Ball!”

    This time opting to not use Swift Swim to get close, Ludicolo remained in her position and instead threw a sparking sphere of green energy at Nikola.

    Matt snapped his eyes open and he pushed both of his arms forward. “Get away if you can, Nikola! After that, use Signal Beam!”

    There was barely enough time for Nikola to get out of the way of Energy Ball after recovering from the bruising injury Drain Punch dealt out, but it managed to do so. Afterward, it aimed another Signal Beam down at the aggressive Ludicolo, hoping as hard as it could that this time, the attack would not fail.

    “How troublesome,” Dahlia uttered, rolling her head back slightly so she’d have to look downward at an angle to see Matt. “Ludicolo, move in and go for Hyper Voice!”

    Falling back into her original tactic, Ludicolo evaded Signal Beam by evaporating into the driving rain, then warping into the space right in front of Nikola. This time, though, she retaliated against her foe by screaming in a loud voice, forming circular shockwaves that visibly rattled Matt’s Pokémon.

    “That’s it!” Thinking carefully, Matt recalled something he’d seen during Nando’s battle the previous day – namely, how Exploud’s Hyper Voice could be fused with other moves to create intensely powerful techniques useful for both Contests and standard battling. Framing this within some of the things he’d observed about Ludicolo’s patterns, he knew he had a solid idea toward stopping her. “Nikola, Signal Beam one more time, please.”

    “You’ll go nowhere with that old trick! Ludicolo, Drain Punch!”

    Though its Signal Beam once again missed as a result of Ludicolo’s Swift Swim speed fueling her escape, Nikola had her right where Matt wanted.

    Grinning ever so slightly, he called out, “Thunderbolt! Just release it into the air!”

    Snickering, Nikola quickly shot a lightning bolt in a random direction and sustained the charge for several seconds. The electricity caught onto the raindrops at an exponential rate, and soon, the entire field was flooded by electrical energy.

    Within the depths of the storm, the lightning even caught up to Ludicolo, who was shocked out of midair during her Swift Swim-powered rush. Feeling increasingly frustrated at how difficult this fight was becoming, Dahlia pushed her hands through her hair.

    “Fine! If you want things to go this way, be my guest! If we can’t get up close, we’ll go from a distance! Ludicolo, Energy Ball!”

    “Give me another skyward Blizzard!” Matt raised his arm and pointed upward for emphasis after
    giving this command.

    Nikola ignored Ludicolo even as she was giving shape to her next Energy Ball, instead opting to focus on blowing another gust of cold air into the clouds overhead. Dahlia’s Pokémon barely managed to launch her attack before chunks of ice rained down on her in much the same way as Togekiss. While Ludicolo crumpled under the harsh blows leveled out by the falling ice, Nikola had left itself open and winced when the glowing sphere struck it in the face.

    “Try Signal Beam one more time, Nikola!”

    “I see what you’re doing, and you won’t get away with it! Ludicolo, Hyper Voice!”

    Dahlia was so absorbed in the battle that she failed to notice Matt smile slightly when she gave the go-ahead for Hyper Voice. Both trainers just watched as Ludicolo avoided Signal Beam by merely stepping back before screaming and forming a sonic energy ring heading back in Nikola’s direction.

    “Now that’s what I was waiting for!” Matt exclaimed, running his hands down the sides of his face before pointing forward. “Go, Nikola! Thunderbolt!”

    Nikola shocked the wave manifested by Ludicolo’s Hyper Voice, and the circular wave itself became electrified, thus spreading lightning through the air. Dahlia gasped when she realized that she could not direct Ludicolo to move or attack because of how thickly occupied by electricity the space was, a sentiment visibly shared by Ludicolo. The Water-and-Grass-type Pokémon muttered nervously and adjusted her sombrero while waiting for the air to clear.

    Matt, however, had other plans. “Shadow Ball!”

    Aiming right for the center of the electrical field, Nikola dropped in an energy sphere of its own, this one glowing with black light. The Shadow Ball reacted with all of the lightning, causing a bright, sparkling explosion that blinded all everyone and everything within the arena.

    As soon as his vision started to return by even a small bit, Matt shouted, “Now, Nikola! Go through and finish this with Signal Beam!”

    Dahlia’s Ludicolo recovered from the shock of Matt’s previous combination move in just enough time to see Nikola lunging through the lingering smoke, a Signal Beam taking shape on the spike atop its head. Mentally, she wanted to jump away, but the results of several harsh hits had left her body in an unresponsive state. Swift Swim couldn’t save her, so she had to simply wait for the inevitable to come as the rainbow-colored beam struck her down.

    “Ludicolo is unable to battle!” the referee called before the eyes of the enthralled audience. “The winner is Rotom!”

    “Ludicolo goes down as Rotom racks up a second consecutive win! The Arcade Star now only has one Pokémon left, but the outcome is far from certain. Will she fall in defeat at our challenger’s hands, or will she rally to overcome this disadvantage?!”

    “Nikola, good job! That was exactly what I needed!” Though Matt’s praise of his Rotom was expressed in a confident-sounding voice, Matt was anything but confident at that point.

    Nekou, Bunny and Olivia all shared the same doubts he had, as they all knew that the biggest problem was about to happen. Without one move being made it was already realized that the next Pokémon would be easily a more grueling challenge than Togekiss and Ludicolo.

    “You made me proud out there, Ludicolo. There’s nothing more I need from you.” Returning the Net Ball to her belt, Dahlia kept her hand at her waist while turning a suddenly fiery glare at Matt. “As for you, I’ve gone easy on you until this point. Do you understand what that means? That means you must step up your efforts even further if you think you’re going to win this, because now I’m going to get serious.” Tearing the Master Ball from her belt, Dahlia threw it and shrilled the words Matt knew he’d have to face even though he didn’t want to, “Show yourself on the dance floor, Zapdos!!”

    Erupting from the Master Ball in a spectacular flash of light, Zapdos slowly unfolded its jagged-edged wings and looked down on Nikola. It wasn’t just a matter of positioning – Zapdos clearly held itself in much higher esteem than the allegedly lesser Electric-and-Ice-type Pokémon before its eyes.

    “Yes, it’s what you’ve been waiting for! Arcade Star Dahlia’s Zapdos has entered the battle! Hold on to your seats, because now you know we’re in for a ride!”

    “They’re in for a ride?” Matt quietly growled through his gritted teeth, attempting to grasp the sheer magnitude of the task before him. “How about the ride I’m in for?”

    “I see you talking to yourself over there, so how’s about I give you something to talk about?!” Seemingly as soon as she sent Zapdos into the intense battle, Dahlia became a different person. Her stance became stiffer, and her movements went from being fluid to sharp and abrupt. Thrusting both of her arms forward, she cried, “Zapdos, Heat Wave!”

    “Not good…” Desperate to avoid being defeated by the intimidating Legendary Pokémon, Matt chose the first decision that jumped into his head. “Quickly, Nikola, use Blizzard!”

    Instead of aiming for the clouds this time, Nikola simply locked straight ahead to target Zapdos directly. Its gust of freezing air was met by the tide of fire that Zapdos had pushed forth, however, and Heat Wave won out. With its attack nullified completely, Nikola was left trapped to weather a painfully effective blow.

    “Finish it off now, Zapdos! Give it a Drill Peck right to the chest!”

    At this point completely overwhelmed by the stunning power and speed he was up against, Matt flinched and couldn’t manage to give a command. Nikola acted on its own, shooting a Thunderbolt at Zapdos as the Electric-and-Flying-type barreled toward it, but Zapdos shrugged the last-ditch counterattack off with little effect before viciously colliding with Nikola.

    “N-Nikola!” Matt screamed out, though it was completely in vain.

    “Rotom is unable to battle! The winner is Zapdos!”

    “Down goes Rotom! He never had a chance to touch Zapdos! Now, the challenger only has one Pokémon left as well!”

    Not content to simply defeat the Rotom, Zapdos pinned its victim under one of its talons while cawing loudly, all to show off its dominance over the battlefield.

    “Now that’s just overkill,” Bunny reacted with disgust.

    “You should have expected something like this,” Nekou said with a hint of sarcasm. “You can tell she isn’t the type to be subtle about anything. This is her stage, and when she’s on it, she’s going to absolutely play it to the ****ing hilt.”

    “Come on, don’t you blow this now!” Olivia called out with her hands cupped around her mouth. “If Nando could do it, so can you!”

    “So it comes down to this…” Having recalled Nikola, Matt stood rigidly in a way that caused his eye to be obscured by the shadow of his hat’s brim. “I’ve got to pin all my hopes on this last one after all… out of these three, he’s my newest Pokémon, but I’m not going to just let this go…” Whipping his head up, he sharply added, “I’m not letting this go because those who run cannot find the truth! Patrick, make your mark!!”

    In a blindingly fast motion Matt got the Dive Ball out of his bag and threw it with a flick of his wrist, releasing the bulky-bodied Seismitoad within to face Dahlia’s savage Zapdos. Patrick slowly turned his lazy-looking eyes upward to face Zapdos directly, who by this time was staring back with a look of sheer annoyance.

    “It’s the final showdown, folks! Everything’s on the line! Matt’s Seismitoad versus Dahlia’s Zapdos… only one will walk away from this with the spoils of victory, but who will it be?!”

    “A Water-and-Ground-type Pokémon?” Dahlia uttered while standing with her hands on her hips. “What a bother, Zapdos’s electrical attacks won’t work… but that just means this will be all the more fun! Get started with Drill Peck, Zapdos!”

    As soon as Zapdos started spinning in Patrick’s direction, Matt growled to himself and shouted, “Stop it with Scald!”

    The rainfall lent Patrick’s Scald some additional power, turning it into an almost beam-like blast of burning water instead of just a spray. Zapdos didn’t care about this power upgrade, though; it simply twisted around the boiling jet in midair to avoid being hit, then drilled straight into Patrick’s stomach, throwing him back as he croaked painfully.

    “Patrick, no...” Matt whispered in shock, while he watched Patrick slump against a nearby wall.

    “Is it too much?” taunted Dahlia, leaning forward while waving her right hand’s pointer finger in the air. “Tell me when you’ve had enough. I’ll stop whenever…”

    Suddenly, a loud, guttural voice echoed through the stadium, interrupting Dahlia mid-sentence. Patrick, now standing again, raised both of his arms and let out an earsplitting battle cry before lunging at the grounded Zapdos.

    Taking advantage of this turn, Matt directed, “Hit it with Drain Punch!”

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    As it did not suspect Patrick to be capable of striking so quickly, Zapdos was caught off guard and took a forceful blow squarely to the chest. The wound left behind quickly transformed into light that flowed into Patrick, restoring some of his stamina.

    “Hit my Zapdos in such a way? I think not! Zapdos, take to the air and use Ominous Wind!”

    Just as Zapdos began to lift itself into the air, Patrick jumped up and swung out with his hand, managing to grab onto the Electric-and-Flying-type’s leg. The feeling of Patrick’s weight immediately caused Zapdos to panic, and it forced itself upward in a frenzied attempt to get free.

    “Good thinking, Patrick!” Matt called out in compliment, a wide smile coming across his face. “It has nowhere to run, so use Scald!”


    “Toss that thing now!” Dahlia tore back in response.

    Despite Zapdos’s valiant efforts to flip Patrick over its head, the Seismitoad managed to pull it back. While still holding on to keep Zapdos in place, Patrick assaulted it with another jet of steaming water, this one connecting straight to the Legendary Pokémon’s chin.

    Zapdos finally lashed free of Patrick’s grip after taking the Scald directly, but it wasn’t yet out of trouble. This was evidenced by the sudden shudder that wracked its body as a red aura overtook it.

    “That’s a burn, the secondary effect of Scald! Zapdos is on the clock now!”

    In her mind, Dahlia saw her range of options narrowing. For a moment she squinted and stared at the two Pokémon, then she threw her hands up in the air and screamed to the ceiling, “Zapdos, ascend!”

    While still visibly suffering from the burn’s effects, Zapdos managed to follow its trainer’s directions by moving upward until it was just skimming the underside of the clouds. At that point, it started to glide around in wide circles over the battlefield.

    “If that’s what you’re going to do, then I have little choice in how to answer.” Pointing upward at the avian Pokémon, Matt sharply instructed, “Patrick, aim as best as you can and use Scald!”

    Another jet of heated water shot into the air, but Zapdos evaded this one by twisting around and flying above the clouds. In frustration, Patrick blindly spat out yet another Scald with no orders, missing Zapdos by a figurative mile.

    “Zapdos, it’s time for us to take the lead!” Compared to her earlier difficulties, Dahlia appeared to be getting her hyper, cheerful edge back. “Ominous Wind!”

    Dahlia’s Zapdos dipped just below the cloud cover before forcefully flapping its wings, pushing a gust of glowing purple wind over Patrick. The Water-and-Ground-type Pokémon crossed his arms to act as a sort of defense, and to a degree, it did work. Aside from small cuts spreading over a number of places on his body, Patrick wasn’t hurt much at all, prompting Dahlia to clench her teeth.

    Adding to her frustration, Dahlia could see Zapdos still being afflicted by the red aura of the burn left earlier. She realized that if she continued to approach the battle with a casual pace, she’d lose, not because of Patrick knocking Zapdos out but because of the burn simply wearing Zapdos out.

    Knowing that she was in a situation worse than she’d initially thought, Dahlia took charge by quickly and directly ordering, “Drill Peck!”

    “Patrick, hit it right in the face with Drain Punch!” Matt reflexively said to counter Dahlia. As he did so, he repositioned himself so that he was standing with his legs somewhat further apart while leaning forward very slightly.

    Even when Zapdos hadn’t yet dove to strike, Patrick was getting ready to hit back. He clenched his fist and pulled back, but unlike before, this time a strange purple glow surrounded his arm. Though he did swing and connect with Zapdos’s face as the Legendary Pokémon drilled toward him, Patrick failed to affect it in any significant way, being thrown back forcefully but not nearly as hard as before. Zapdos, meanwhile, flipped back and returned to circling the battlefield from near the clouds.

    “Looks like you don’t have complete luck yet after all,” Dahlia commented in a much more serious tone than the one in which she usually spoke. “Far too late for that to come into play.”

    “What are you talking about?” Matt skeptically asked, noting to himself that engaging Dahlia in a discussion would afford Patrick a chance to rest momentarily.

    “Did you see that purple glow? Your Seismitoad’s ability must be Poison Touch, which means that that Drain Punch would have poisoned Zapdos if it wasn’t already burned. Unfortunate for you, isn’t it?”

    “But fortunate for me,” she quickly thought as an amendment to her original sentence. “I’m in enough trouble trying to win with Zapdos being burned…”

    “It’s good to know that, but at this point, it doesn’t matter.” Turning his head upward so he could see Zapdos circling, Matt spread his arms and called out, “Patrick, cut it down with another Scald!”

    “Get away!” Dahlia countered, gesturing in a sweeping motion. “Drill Peck into the clouds!”

    Matt had been hoping for a decisive blow to end the fight, but those hopes disappeared when Patrick’s boiling water stream sailed just below Zapdos’s talons as it spun upward and out of sight. For his part, Matt clenched his fists and stared and the spot where Zapdos had been mere moments before, but Patrick became even angrier. Ignoring the fact that he could not aim at all, Patrick began randomly shooting blasts of steaming water up into the clouds, each one apparently missing Zapdos by a wide margin.

    However, after only two rounds of these blind attempts, Patrick suddenly started gasping when he tried to use Scald again, no longer able to draw upon its power.

    “Patrick, what’s wrong?” Matt desperately shouted, having become alarmed by the rapidly escalating appearance of frustration and panic on his Seismitoad’s part.

    Sighing in relief, Dahlia wiped her forehead, which had become damp with sweat, and said, “I almost was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to last this long to let Pressure work!”

    “Pressure…” With his breath becoming slower and shallower, Matt took a slow, shaky step back. “Zapdos’s ability… I never even took it into account…”

    “Since you know what it’s called, then you must at least have an idea of what it does. You’ll run out of steam for your moves one by one at double the rate! That means, since you can’t use Scald anymore, you can’t hurt Zapdos!”

    Dahlia’s claims not only affected Matt – who became visibly more tense as he tried to grapple with the meaning of his situation – but the spectators in the stands as well. Panicked, Olivia hurriedly turned to Nekou and Bunny in a bid to gain better understanding of what was going on.

    “Is that actually true?! It can’t be over like that!”

    “Nothing in this world is that simple,” Nekou explained in a seemingly flippant manner, not really paying much attention to her own words. “It’s something you’d benefit from remembering. When something seems like it has an obvious answer or outcome… it usually doesn’t.”

    “It’s true that of Seismitoad’s remaining moves, one won’t work at all and the other would only cause slight damage,” Bunny added. “But, Zapdos isn’t exactly in great shape either. If it can’t stay out of Seismitoad’s reach, this could still turn around.”

    “Now, Zapdos,” Dahlia called out to her airborne Pokémon, “use Ominous Wind!”

    With seemingly no options available to him, Patrick simply crossed his arms in front of his face as a feeble defense against the glowing purple wind sent blowing down onto him. He wasn’t moved far by it, though.

    Zapdos dropped out of the cloud cover, and its ravaged, weakened body and uneven breathing made clear that the burn’s effect was doing what Matt’s attacks were failing to do. Dahlia looked up with wide eyes at her Pokémon, trying to accept the reality brought on by the red glow consuming it and what this light meant.

    “Zapdos… you’re not going to last much longer, are you?” Already knowing the answer to this question, Dahlia turned her head back down and stared at Matt. Her gaze was intense enough to make him uncomfortable; to him, her eyes were like two spears piercing into his own. “Fine!” she boomed, pointing her finger at him. “Matt Chiaki, you’ve put on a good show for us here today, so as a sign of respect, I will show you my special finishing move! Zapdos, use Heat Wave! Follow it with Drill Peck! Then, finish this with Thunderbolt!”

    “Impossible,” Nekou said in disbelief. “What is she even trying to do? Heat Wave will barely affect him, and Thunderbolt…”

    “She’s just trying to use the attack’s impact strength!” Bunny exclaimed, having arrived abruptly at the answer. “After all of this talk about luck, it’s come down to brute force!”

    By this point, Zapdos had already used Heat Wave to create a curtain of fire in the air, and it was now using Drill Peck to spin through said curtain and gather its energy. During all of this, Matt and Patrick could only sit and watch.

    “Get ready, Patrick.”

    The Seismitoad grunted and nodded to his trainer in affirmation. They both knew that what Dahlia was planning was likely to spell the end for them, but one thing both Matt and Patrick had resolved to was to go down fighting.

    “It ends NOW!” Dahlia screamed out, her excitement and energy finally boiling completely over. Flinging her arms up into the air before bringing them sharply back down, she roared, “Zapdos, GO!!”

    All of the remaining fire in the air convened around Zapdos as it twisted around and began shooting electricity from all over its body. Locking onto Patrick, Zapdos started to descend rapidly, taking on the form and power of a spinning rocket powered by the dual forces of fire and electricity.

    “This is it! Dahlia’s final move! Is this truly going to be the end?!”

    “Now, Patrick!” Matt shut his eyes as he held up his arm. He did not want to see what was about to happen. “Hit it head-on with Drain Punch!”

    Showing more courage than his trainer, Patrick fearlessly faced the raging inferno that bore down on him. He didn’t expect to inflict much harm either, but he intended to come out having done something to help. With perfect timing, he swung his fist just perfectly to connect with Zapdos’s beak.

    Zapdos’s frenzied attack was the one that won out, easily overwhelming Patrick. His Drain Punch, however, caused the Drill Peck/Heat Wave/Thunderbolt combination to go off target, and it instead mowed the Seismitoad down at his feet and pushed him down onto the Legendary Pokémon’s back.

    A combination of Zapdos’s pained, frustrated squawks and the explosion of noise from the audience forced Matt to open his eyes and see what was going on – Zapdos flittering around the arena in a panic, trying to get Patrick off of its back.

    “Now I’ve seen ****ing everything…” he thought, unable to form words for a minute due to the sheer shock of what had happened and what he’d seen.

    “WHAT?!!” Dahlia was rapidly approaching a point where if she became any more high-strung, she might scratch her own skin off. Her voice was thin and high-pitched, and her once-tanned-and-smooth skin had become clammy with sweat. “How could you not only survive my finishing move, but even turn it against me?”

    “I guess it just boiled down to pure luck,” Matt said with a quick shrug.

    Taken aback by how simple the entire thing actually was, Dahlia grunted and abruptly turned upward, staring straight at Zapdos as it glided around in the air with Patrick holding onto its back. “Throw that thing off! Drill Peck!”

    “Patrick, keep your grip by any…” When he saw that Zapdos did not even have enough strength left in its burn-ravaged body to even use Drill Peck, Matt cut off his direction. He realized that the only thing remaining was to finally put an end to the battle once and for all. “Patrick, hit Zapdos square in the back with Drain Punch.”

    While struggling to keep his hold on the Legendary Pokémon using only his left hand, Patrick raised up his right hand in a clenched fist. After holding it back for a short time to channel strength into it, he brought it down on the center of Zapdos’s back with great force.

    Ordinarily, a Fighting-type move would do little against a Flying-type like Zapdos. However, because of the significant weakness left in Zapdos’s body by the burn plus Patrick’s precise aim, the expectation held by most of the spectators was defied. Zapdos plummeted from the sky and crashed into the floor with such speed that Patrick actually didn’t start falling until a split second later, allowing Matt the time to quickly plan his final move.

    “Now, Patrick come down right on top of it with Earthquake!”

    Before the stunned eyes of Dahlia along with Nekou, Olivia, Bunny and the rest of the crowd, Patrick clasped his hands together and flipped forward, delivering a devastating double punch to Zapdos’s body in a spot not far from where he’d just hit moments earlier. A seismic shockwave erupted from the impact, forcing Matt, Dahlia and the referee to brace themselves.

    Though his body was violently shuddering, with every muscle wanting to give out, Patrick stood triumphant when he emerged from the final exchange. Zapdos lay nearby, sprawled out and crushed into a hole in the battlefield.

    “Zapdos is unable to battle! The winner is Seismitoad, and the victor is Matt of Snowpoint City!”

    “I don’t believe it!” exclaimed the announcer, though he was barely audible over the cheering erupting from the crowd. “What a show! At the end of this no-holds-barred clash of titans at the Battle Arcade, the challenger comes out on top, defeating Arcade Star Dahlia!!”

    “Patrick, thank you!” Matt rushed forward when he saw Patrick, who was trying to walk to him, start to collapse. He managed to catch his Pokémon in his arms, and in response, Patrick weakly croaked and smiled in exhausted contentment. “Patrick, don’t worry anymore, you can rest now. That was amazing for one of your first battles with me.”

    Dahlia, meanwhile, held up her Master Ball, bringing Zapdos back within it. “Another good show, my friend,” she said to it, putting the ball back on her belt. “Two losses in a row, but you can be blamed for neither. That’s just how the wheel spins and how the dice roll.”

    Great amounts of chatter had already broken out amongst the audience members about what they had just witnessed. In the back of the seating area, lurking out of the active areas but having watched all along, Jessie, James and Meowth took advantage of this activity to cover their own actions with Wobbuffet standing alongside them.

    “That’s that, then,” Jessie sighed, looking back down to the battlefield. “He could be a valuable ally to the cause if we play our cards right, don’t you think?”

    “Right, Jessie, but what’s with all the people we’ve run into lately? Our hands were tied like a Tangrowth because that old man was strong, and obviously we can’t make Matt mad at us. You can see why.”

    “That don’t really matter one way or the other in the end,” Meowth interjected. “The boss has got someone working on working him over. We ain’t got nothing to worry about with him. What still gets me, though, is what we’re gonna be doing to fix our little mess with the Meteonite piece.”

    “We’ll lay low,” suggested James. “Come on, let’s leave. This certainly isn’t the place to have this talk.”

    “Wobbuffet!” the blue Psychic-type Pokémon cheerfully shouted, waddling after his trainer and her friends as they left the arena.

    -:-

    “That was great! I loved it!”

    Though she could not hug Matt as he came back out into the Battle Arcade’s lobby like she wanted, Olivia still greeted him with as much enthusiasm as she could muster from her crutches. Beside her stood Nekou, Bunny and Dante, all of whom were smiling, even the elderly doctor.

    “Well, I wouldn’t want to disappoint my fans,” Matt chuckled, scratching the back of his head. “It looks like you’re feeling lively again, Olivia. That’s good.”

    “Watching you battle helped me remember what I want to do,” the girl explained. “I know I can do it. You inspired me to keep trying to make my dream come true!”

    Briefly hesitating when he was forced to consider just what Olivia’s dream was, Matt slowly turned to the others. “And what did you three think?”

    “Even I have to admit when you do something right.” Nekou spoke with a huff in her voice, but in reality, she was simply trying to annoy Matt by being sarcastic. “The tactics you used were actually kind of impressive.”

    “Especially how you defeated Zapdos,” Bunny quickly chimed in.

    “In that battle, the Pokémon and their trainers worked together very well, which brought out the best of their abilities.” The others turned their heads in Dante’s direction while he continued musing, “My theory is that it came down to who could improvise better, and Matt, you flying blind that whole time may just have saved you. Dahlia had all her strategies planned out so well in advance that when you made things up, it put her out of her comfort zone.”

    “What are you saying about me, old man?!”

    When Dahlia came bounding out of the arena doorway, speaking playfully and far too loudly for the situation, she made the group of four jump in surprise. In fact, Matt almost landed right in Nekou’s arms because of how far he stumbled.

    “What?” Even Dante, as calculating as he was, couldn’t completely process Dahlia’s sudden arrival.

    “Oh, relax, I’m just playing with you. You’re not too far from the truth, really…” Turning to Matt, who had managed to compose himself, Dahlia continued, “Matt, your ability to go in with a rough framework of a plan and retool it on the fly is something that will serve you well going forward, but do realize that the rest of the Frontier Brains are tougher than me.”

    “Sure, that sounds like a good thing…” he said in sarcastic response.

    “Relax, you’ll be fine. So what will you do now?”

    “Well…” Matt hesitated as he spoke; he was unsure if discussing the subject was a good idea. Ultimately deciding that explaining his motives could prove helpful, he said, “I’m looking to find Reshiram, actually. I want to see the truths its fire burns to reveal.”

    “Well, you sure picked a hell of a region to do it in! That’s Unova, not Johto!” Matt and Bunny could only stare with stunned expressions at Dahlia, as her airy, casual tone completely mismatched against how serious he was being. “Sorry, though, in all seriousness, I don’t really know anything about that. You might want to talk to the Factory Head, the Frontier Brain of the Battle Factory in Goldenrod City, though. He’s more into the details of legends than I am.”

    “Goldenrod City,” Bunny repeated. “That’s pretty far from here.”

    “I guess we’ll be waiting a while, then…” The dejected tone in Matt’s voice could not be missed. His disappointment at losing a potential lead came right out to the surface.

    “The Factory Head knows a lot of things, that’s why he got put in charge of a facility specializing in knowledge itself. Anyway, check this out. It’s what you earned by defeating me.” Reaching into a pocket inside her shirt, Dahlia withdrew a golden coin and flipped it to Matt, who caught it with his right hand. Printed on it was an image of one of the Battle Arcade’s onion domes. “It’s the medal for winning here at my Battle Arcade. With it, you can go on the Frontier Society’s website and get an additional prize.”

    “Thanks, I’ll have to remember to do that. Thank you for the great battle, too.”

    “Think nothing of it. Anyway, I gotta get back in there to see some more challengers, so I’ll see you around. Good luck out there!”

    “Bye!” Olivia called out to Dahlia, who had turned and begun swaggering back to the arena.

    “She is… certainly someone I’m not going to forget meeting anytime soon,” Bunny sighed.

    “Mister Chiaki?”

    An unfamiliar voice coming from behind prompted Matt to turn around. Standing there, clutching a black briefcase and gasping for air, was a well-groomed man in a brown suit.

    “Yeah, that’s me, Matt Chiaki. Who are you?”

    “Sorry, please forgive me. I’m just glad I managed to catch up with you.” Straightening up, the man smoothed out his suit and straightened his yellow tie, giving himself a much more professional look. He offered his hand to Matt, saying, “That was rude of me. Please allow me to introduce myself. The name’s Dominic.”

    “Well met, then.” Seeing no reason to turn down the courtesy Dominic was showing him, Matt took the man’s hand for a firm handshake.

    “That’s quite the handshake,” Dominic immediately pointed out. Noticing the confused looks that greeted this rather odd proclamation, he hurried to explain, “I’m a salesman for the Angel Corporation, you see, so in my line of work a good handshake goes a long way. Anyway, I hope I’m not intruding too much, but when I saw you here, Mr. Chiaki, I had to give approaching and asking you a shot.”

    “Ask me what?” Matt found himself less bothered by Dominic’s presence than his seeming inability to actually get to the point. Nekou was standing just behind him and giving Dominic an exaggerated death stare, but Matt was completely unaware of this.

    “Will you be going to Violet City?”

    “Wait, that’s it?” The sheer simplicity of the question caught Matt completely off guard, and he did not have an answer ready.

    “Of course!” Olivia immediately cut in. “That’s where my first Gym is!”

    “But why would you want to know?” A hint of suspicion flavored Nekou’s inquiry. Harboring a dislike for not knowing what was happening, she felt uncomfortably on edge.

    “I said I was a salesman, well, I’m actually a traveling salesman. I’m asking about Violet City because my son and two daughters are attending Earl’s Pokémon Academy there for a while, and after seeing you battle, I’d really appreciate it if you could meet them.”

    “I don’t think I see any reason why I should say no,” Matt answered with a shrug. “It’s not out of the way…”

    “Good choice, I wanted to go!” In a complete departure from her previous feelings, Nekou now loudly supported the proposal. “A school would have one of my favorite things in it!”

    “I swear,” Matt sighed, “if you say free food…”

    “No, that’s number two.” Ignoring the look of exasperation plastered on Matt’s face, she continued, “I’m talking about books, the one thing that goes well with absolutely anything. I’ll read as much as I want there.”

    “And you never know,” Bunny added, “we could find a clue about Reshiram there.”

    “Good point. What about you, Olivia? What do you think?”

    “I say we go. I could warm up for the Gym there.”

    Turning back to Dominic, Matt shrugged again and said, “There you have it, we’ll go.”

    “Thank you, Mr. Chiaki, thank you very much!” Seizing up Matt’s hand once more, Dominic smiled broadly as he spoke. “I’m sure my kids will appreciate meeting you very much. Now, please excuse me. I’ll have to be taking my leave now so I can get back to them.”

    -:-

    Pierce barely had a chance to step through the door of Dr. Zager’s run-down laboratory before the doctor was upon him. Even though the scientist was visibly angry, Pierce managed to remain completely stone-faced.

    “Is it correct to assume that you received my report, Dr. Zager?”

    “Oh, I received it, Pierce, and I’m not very happy with what I saw in it!” Zager threw his hands up in the air in frustration and walked a few steps away from Pierce before quickly returning. “You cannot simply spill Team Rocket’s plans to people you run into on the street!” he hissed through teeth masked by his mustache. “Any of them could be members of Polaris! All it takes is one slip up for us all to be destroyed!”

    “I just ask that you pass on the information I supplied to Giovanni,” Pierce flatly said. “I am confident that he will judge what I did as correct.”

    “And what if you’re wrong?”

    “You boys ought to stop fighting,” Ariana suggested, walking up to Zager’s computer console. She was playful at first but quickly turned serious. “I’ve already passed the information on.”

    “And I have already received it.”

    The stern, powerful voice of the man on the screen brought both Zager and Pierce into line nearly instantly. Both the younger agent and the older scientist dropped down onto one knee and set their right hands over their hearts while Ariana stood by.

    “Hail Giovanni!” both declared in unison.

    “Dispense with the formalities,” Giovanni ordered, waving his hand to dismiss their actions. Before speaking further, the Team Rocket leader adjusted the lapel of his suit – a black article with red pinstripes – and pushed up his blood-red necktie. “Pierce, you have had interactions with a representative of the Tenganist people?”

    “That is correct, sir,” Pierce rigidly replied. “She informed me that their surviving numbers are planning to rebel against Polaris, so I marshaled her into an agreement, the details of which you can see in my report.”

    “Yes, we arm them and in return they will cooperate with our efforts to destroy Polaris. I see it here.”

    “With all due respect, sir,” Zager interrupted, “this plan is very risky. We do not know if the Tenganists have been infiltrated by Polaris in the first place.”

    “Dr. Zager, this goes far deeper than simple alliances. There has been a systematic campaign to eradicate the Tenganist people going on in secret. Many of their settlements have been destroyed, Michina Town being the first we know of, and the chief suspect we’ve identified as being behind this genocide is Ghetsis Harmonia. His hatred of the Tenganists is a poorly kept secret that Team Rocket’s intelligence forces picked up in Unova.”

    “And as Ghetsis is now the public spokesman of Polaris in the Tohjo Continent,” Pierce continued, using Giovanni’s line of thought, “there is an obvious connection between the cleansing of the Tenganist people and Polaris. Also…” Pierce’s face darkened, and his normally forceful voice became much weaker. “My sister and I had our mother taken from us by Ghetsis and Polaris. Yes, I am one of them.”

    “Stacia is as well, Dr. Zager.”

    Under the intense eyes of Giovanni, Pierce and Ariana, Zager slowly stepped back and leaned against the nearby lab table. “This is getting worse and worse… fine. I agree to the plan to arm the Tenganists, but I want the supplies I send to be carefully observed.”

    “I will take the responsibility of escorting the shipment of goods to their designated point,” Pierce volunteered without hesitation. “They are my people, even if I am not as devout as them.”

    “I’m going out, too,” Ariana announced, stepping forward with her hand on her hip.

    “I can’t say I think that’s a good idea. I recommend you stay here, Ariana.”

    Sighing at Zager, Ariana shot back, “And because that’s one dumb-*** suggestion, I’m going to ignore it. You’ve got agents in the field who could be in way over their heads right now.”

    “You’re both wrong,” Giovanni intervened. “Jessie, James and Meowth failed me more times than I can remember. But, they have proven their worth through their actions during our operations in Unova. They are some of Team Rocket’s top operatives and I have full confidence in their ability to get the mission done. That said, however, I do not object to dispatching an Executive to assist them. Ariana, do what you must to accomplish the mission.”

    “You got it, boss!”

    -:-

    Sitting in his ornate, finely-furnished office, Giovanni pressed a key on the videophone device on his desk to close the call to Dr. Zager’s laboratory. Just then, the sound of his door creaking open caught his attention.

    A young woman, bearing back-length purple hair and cold green eyes framed by glasses, carefully worked her way into the room, holding a cup of coffee on a saucer. She slowly and deliberately walked forward toward Giovanni’s desk, taking great care not to let her shaky hands spill the coffee on the red-and-purple material of her military-style dress. Eventually managing to reach her boss safely, she set the cup down before him.

    “Mister Giovanni… the coffee you asked for…”

    “Thank you, Stacia,” he answered, showing a rare moment of gratitude before slipping back into the dour mood that was already consuming him.

    As his loyal secretary and someone who would willingly kill or die for him at the drop of a hat, however, Stacia knew more than enough to be able to read Giovanni’s face without a struggle. “Is something wrong, sir?”

    Giovanni did not reply at first. Instead, he turned his chair around, giving himself a view through the huge window positioned behind his desk. His faithful Pokémon, Persian, walked up to his side and meowed, so Giovanni scratched the large, cream-colored cat under the chin, prompting him to purr contentedly.

    “Stacia, when did we end up as the ones who must hold up the world? Polaris cannot be allowed to continue with what they are planning. A world ruled by the warped beliefs of Polaris can never move forward, and that would destroy Team Rocket as well.”

    -:-

    Once again, Ghetsis was standing outside the electronic prison in which he had placed Concordia and Anthea, listening to their findings.

    “We have only translated one passage fully so far, Lord Ghetsis,” Concordia explained, detached from the situation despite the high chance of Ghetsis going into an explosive rage over it.

    “It speaks of the two heroes in Unova legend, the White Hero of Truth and Black Hero of Ideals. We have not found anything more yet, only that this legend is involved.”

    “I’m keeping you two alive and this is what you repay me with?!!” Of course, Ghetsis actually did end up exploding. Slamming his cane into the ground over and over, he fumed, “I won’t be able to keep ahead of those small-minded, imperfect fools on the Sacred Helix at this rate! I must! I am a perfect being, the perfect ruler for a world that shall be shaped into perfection!”

    “Lord Ghetsis, come in,” a voice coming from a device in Ghetsis’s ear said. “This is Shadow Triad leader Darkness.”

    “Report!” Ghetsis snapped.

    “We have extensively searched Ecruteak City and Route 36 for your son and the Tenganist prophet. No results. What are your orders, my lord?”

    Ghetsis closed his eyes and stood still, trying to calm his mind so he could process the information being supplied to him. Concordia and Anthea sat by and watched through the translucent walls of their prison as several tense seconds slowly passed by.

    “Split up,” Ghetsis spoke once he finally reopened his eyes. “Darkness, you and Pestilence go to the west, toward Goldenrod City. Send Chaos off to the east, in the direction of Violet City and Cherrygrove City. Find those two freaks no matter the cost!”

    “Your orders are our command!”

    Taking his hand off his ear, Ghetsis slowly pivoted on his cane to face the two women in his cage, who were watching him with empty stares. “Prepare to bear witness to the rise of the man born to rule this broken planet! It’s been so many long years in the making…”

    As he walked toward the room’s exit, Ghetsis began laughing to himself, smug in the confidence he held in his plans.

    -:-

    That night, the group was once again staying in the Pokémon Center’s hotel. Matt decided to go to sleep earlier than Olivia and Bunny, who were watching television together in the lobby, while Nekou was nowhere to be seen. After bidding them good night, he headed for the room the four of them were staying in.

    As he entered the room, he reached for the wall next to the door, looking for the light switch he needed to trip to illuminate the darkness. The one thing he didn’t expect, though, was to have his hand held down on the switch by the hand of someone that was already there.

    “Aah! Who’s there?!”

    Whoever was attacking Matt pinned him against the door, which they slammed shut with their leg. Now blind in the dark room, he thought of defending himself but lacked the willpower to do so.

    “Marie, turn on the lamp.”

    “Snea!”

    Nekou’s Sneasel turned on the lamp sitting on the nearby table, allowing Matt enough light to see that his so-called assailant was really nobody more than Nekou herself. Sighing, he tried to push her away, but she only released his left arm, the one that had been reaching for the light switch in the first place.

    “I’m not in the mood for this. Let me go to bed.”

    “What’s Olivia doing?” There was a strange intensity in Nekou’s eyes as she asked this question, one that showed she wasn’t joking around as Matt thought she was.

    “You can go out there and see for yourself.”

    “Answer the question.”

    Matt sighed once again. “Fine. She’s out there watching a Pokémon Baccer game with Bunny.”

    “Alright.” With that, Nekou released Matt and started to walk away, but before long she turned right back to him. “You did really well at the Battle Arcade today.”

    “I just did what a lot of others have done,” he answered in a bland voice.

    “Don’t sell yourself short. Olivia really looks up to you, more than you seem like you even know.”

    “You two really have hit it off, haven’t you? You haven’t even known each other for very long.” The uncharacteristic seriousness of Nekou’s attitude was beginning to make Matt feel uncomfortable. By this point he was trying to find a way to get out of the conversation.

    “Olivia and I do get along very well, that’s right,” she concurred. “From what she’s told me, she really likes you, even if she doesn’t outwardly show it.”

    “Get to the point, please.”

    “She needs you more than ever right now,” Nekou explained, closing her eyes and breathing deeply to alleviate the tension from what she was saying. “You have to tell her the truth about what happened to Rich before she goes too far down the rabbit hole to be saved.”

    “How can I do something like that?” This was the last thing Matt wanted to talk about. Feeling crushed both physically and mentally, he began to just simply talk without thinking. “I can’t break her like that, I just can’t. It’s my job to make sure she keeps going. How can trash like me even think to…”

    He suddenly stopped when he felt Nekou put her hand on his cheek. She was staring right at him, but while her usual sarcastic tone returned, something about what she said still sounded strangely sincere.

    “Trash? **** no, stop tearing yourself down like that. We’re all… I mean, Olivia and I are relying on you, and do you know why that is? Because we trust you.”

    “Thanks, I, uh… guess.” It took a moment but something in what Nekou said caught in Matt’s mind as odd. “Wait, why are you relying on me too? For what?”

    “That’s not important. Just promise me you’ll tell Olivia the truth.”

    Matt found Nekou’s argument oddly compelling, and after some thought, he decided to go along with it. “Fine, after Olivia wins her first Badge, I’ll tell her what happened. I want to wait until then so she’ll have something to be confident in.”

    “Now that’s the Matt I knew was in there.” Nekou moved over to the bed she was sleeping in and reached into the rumpled sheets, pulling out two cans of beer; she tossed one to Matt then opened the other. “That’s for you. Let’s celebrate a little, alright?”




    END of CHAPTER 5

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  4. #54

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    I'll try and cover everything in this. There's so much I liked about this chapter though so I'm not sure where to start.

    A blazing orange crept over the land as the sun rose the next morning, spreading peals of warm light over the autumn trees of the Tohjo Continent. Cherrygrove City glittered in the shine; for as depressing a place as the city could be, the first minutes of daylight brought even Cherrygrove’s dull streets to life.
    Excellent use of imagery there. I really love how vivid your description always is in your writing.


    Just outside the city, in the thicker woods off the road north, Jessie, James and Meowth stood speaking to Pierce.

    “…that is what you need to know about what’s going on,” Pierce finished, running a hand through his shoulder-length, dark blue hair before putting his hat back on over it. He had just finished explaining a truncated version of his work from the past twenty-four hours. “I am going to return to the base to meet with Dr. Zager and Ariana regarding this. That means you three are in charge of maintaining the mission here in the field until I return.”

    “But what are we supposed to do if things go bad? You were our extraction!”

    “You know, James has got a point here,” Meowth concurred with his human companion. “Say we go after that chunk of space rock and Polaris shows up. Then what?”

    With her hand on her hip, Jessie stepped up to face the others. “Do you two even hear yourselves? The boss didn’t put us on this mission for nothing. If we play our cards carefully we’re going to be just fine. We don’t have to have our hands held for everything we do!”

    “You’re both right,” Pierce intervened. “I will return to aid you once more when my business at the base is finished. It will not be that long. For now, this is your assignment – continue monitoring the group involving Matt Chiaki, Olivia Mistbloom, Bunny Spruce and Dante Fantomos. The old man is in possession of the Meteonite fragment, so if you get a chance to take it with little risk, do it. If not, remember that a contingency plan is already uploaded into your R-Pad.”
    Pierce makes everything better always. Good work making Jessie the badass lady in charge she should be.

    “This is going to be a lot harder than it has to be if you don’t put some effort into it, James!” she yelled, straightening her back to give herself a height advantage over her partner.

    “Oh, come on, Jessie, you know I’m not throwing it in that easily. I just don’t like taking orders from Pierce.”

    “I agree with that,” Meowth chimed in. “The boss is the only one who’s worthy of giving us orders!”

    “We’ll listen to Pierce but the boss is the one we really work hard for.”
    This was a really cute scene and I think you have their priorities perfect as far as the three of them go. I get the impression they don't really like listening to anyone they're not used to working for and you showed this perfectly. You also did a really good job showing James and Meowth as bros to each other who have each other's backs.

    Nestled in a cluster of tall buildings near Cherrygrove City’s shoreline stood a wide structure with four spires reaching up to the sky, each one ending in a diamond-patterned onion dome. The early afternoon sun glittered on the façade, casting a glare over the street where Matt, Nekou, Olivia, Bunny and Dante all stood. Several red flags trimmed with gold borders hung around the building’s entrance, each bearing the stylized Poké Ball surrounded by seven stars that served as the Frontier Society’s logo.
    Beautiful use of description there.

    None of them noticed Jessie, James, Meowth and Wobbuffet – all disguised in their trenchcoats – slip in right behind them.
    WOBBUFFET IN A TRENCHCOAT. That will not be obvious at all nothing can ever go wrong with this.


    “I guess so,” Nekou answered. She puffed up her cheeks and exaggerated her facial expression to act like she was frustrated at being told to go somewhere, even though she fully knew this was normal and to be expected. “Don’t **** it up out there, or there’ll be hell to pay. I’ll see to that.”
    haha never change, Nekou.

    “I can tell you’re all fired up, so let’s move ahead and get started with the first show of the day! Coming in first is a challenger who is making his debut on our young Frontier Society circuit! Going for his first medal here at the Battle Arcade, please welcome Matt from Snowpoint City!”
    I really enjoyed reading the announcer in this chapter and the vast amount of enthusiasm he has. His announcing during the big battle against Dahlia really did well to keep me in the action of the battle and make me feel like I was actually in a stadium full of cheering spectators, and he's very believable as an announcer.

    “Our challenger is now set!” the announcer declared while Matt simply stood there, still feeling some nerves from the relatively small space and the crowd. The lights dimmed and multicolored disco lights started to flow around the stadium, leading the audience to cheer more loudly than ever. “Yes, everyone, you know what that means! You know what time it is! Now, allow me to introduce once more the woman of the hour! The one you’ve all been waiting for! The one, the only… Arcade Star Dahlia!!”
    Made me want to dance. Dahlia's definitely got the most thrilling introduction.

    “Welcome, challenger!” Dahlia cheerfully said in greeting, striking a sharp pose with her hand on her hip. “Welcome to my Battle Arcade! How are you feeling today? Lucky?”
    I get the feeling Dahlia's going to give him more than he bargained for.

    “Let’s just say I’ll be feeling more lucky once we get this battle going,” he replied straightforwardly. This wasn’t a lie, as the anticipation of the battle was intimidating him more than the battle itself. Unfortunately, he was unable to mask it well.
    I think this is an important part of Matt's personality and you show it well. He's not the best with crowds as you've shown before and that's a major challenge he has to overcome in this battle. I think the fact that Pokemon battles are about the trainer is often forgotten and there are definitely factors that can make a battle easier or harder for the trainer in question.

    “This big game board will determine the conditions we battle under,” Dahlia explained. “Anything could come from it. You could trigger a rainstorm, or maybe some sunlight or relentless hail... we could battle in a Trick Room or with our Pokémon asleep… we could even trade teams before we battle! Truly, the possibilities are endless!” Having worked herself into a frenzy, Dahlia threw her arms into the air before finishing her speech. “Hit the button to stop the board, okay? Now… set it in motion! Let’s go!”
    Dahlia's enthusiasm just makes me smile so much.




    There was a lot I liked about the actual battle but pulling out and quoting all of it would take forever so I'll just pull out examples of what I liked most and comment on those.


    “Like that one?” Dahlia casually said to Matt, who simply stood there stunned by his Aggron’s ordeal. “That’s actually one of my favorite Contest moves. I see you look surprised… did you actually think I’d leave everything up to luck? Like I said, the best kind of luck is the kind you make for yourself. This Battle Arcade and everything inside it is my home, and in here, everything happens according to my luck. You’re clearly relying on something different… chance. Chance is when you throw all caution to the wind and let things happen as they will… now let me show you what the true meaning of luck is. Togekiss, the grand finale!” Throwing her arms wide, Dahlia called out into the air, “Water Pulse!!”
    Dahlia's motif of luck that she uses in all her speeches was something I really enjoyed, the difference between luck and chance with luck being something you make for yourself as opposed to chance. It really sets the tone for one of the major themes of this whole battle. I also really love how she uses her contest moves in battle because it makes an important point about how knowledge is important to a trainer.


    “Is he going to be okay?”

    Snapping out of her bubble, Bunny turned to see Olivia pulling on Nekou’s arm. What truly surprised her wasn’t the fact that Olivia was turning to Nekou for alleviation of her doubts, as she’d already recognized how the two seemed to connect. It was instead how deadly serious Nekou seemed to be treating the whole matter.

    “You don’t worry, Olivia,” the dark-haired woman reassured. “Even if he can’t come through for himself, he’ll do it for you. The amount of strength one can gain just by knowing their actions mean something to someone else is unbelievable.”
    Showing Olivia's reactions throughout the battle was a VERY important detail to show, because it not only shows how important Matt is to her but that Matt's not just battling for his own glory, he's doing this for those who trust him too. And I really love how both Matt and Olivia rely on each other to keep going. It's a really good dynamic to show in a situation like this.


    “I think two people can have the same luck. Chance has given me a shot of demonstrating that. Nikola, use Blizzard up into the clouds!”

    Both Dahlia and the collective audience gasped in surprise at Matt’s improvised strategy. Almost immediately upon Nikola beginning to shoot gusts of frosty wind up into the rainclouds, the rain itself changed temporarily into hail. The icy stones crashed loudly against the battlefield, but Dahlia was paying that no heed. Instead, she was staring at and gesturing frantically to her Togekiss while attempting to give it commands. As she was caught in the sudden storm, Togekiss could only suffer under repeated strikes until she gave in and fell to the ground.
    The way Matt exploits the weather conditions in this battle was really my favorite part. It's a strategy you don't normally see and the way he was able to take things he watched and translate them to help him out was really clever and enjoyable to see.


    Snickering, Nikola quickly shot a lightning bolt in a random direction and sustained the charge for several seconds. The electricity caught onto the raindrops at an exponential rate, and soon, the entire field was flooded by electrical energy.
    The mental image of a snickering Rotom is adorable. Also, electrified raindrops is the greatest thing in ever.

    “Yes, it’s what you’ve been waiting for! Arcade Star Dahlia’s Zapdos has entered the battle! Hold on to your seats, because now you know we’re in for a ride!”

    “They’re in for a ride?” Matt quietly growled through his gritted teeth, attempting to grasp the sheer magnitude of the task before him. “How about the ride I’m in for?”
    ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh ****.

    “That’s a burn, the secondary effect of Scald! Zapdos is on the clock now!”
    An important detail to note- in a way, Scald greatly equalized the playing field, so to speak. Dahlia had to finish her plans quickly because burning isn't a joke and any time Zapdos could have been wiped out completely.

    “Zapdos, it’s time for us to take the lead!” Compared to her earlier difficulties, Dahlia appeared to be getting her hyper, cheerful edge back. “Ominous Wind!”
    **** Ominous Wind. Seriously that move caused me so much grief in the games and when it comes out I assume bad things are about to go down.


    The tension in this Zapdos battle scene was really well-handled, I think. Like the rest of the battle, I was constantly left guessing what would happen next, but this had the added tension of being the final round so it was even more important and anything could cause a sudden loss on either side.


    “Zapdos… you’re not going to last much longer, are you?” Already knowing the answer to this question, Dahlia turned her head back down and stared at Matt. Her gaze was intense enough to make him uncomfortable; to him, her eyes were like two spears piercing into his own. “Fine!” she boomed, pointing her finger at him. “Matt Chiaki, you’ve put on a good show for us here today, so as a sign of respect, I will show you my special finishing move! Zapdos, use Heat Wave! Follow it with Drill Peck! Then, finish this with Thunderbolt!”
    This is a really rough sequence of attacks and I kind of cringed when I realized there was a reason she was that specific.

    “Now I’ve seen ****ing everything…” he thought, unable to form words for a minute due to the sheer shock of what had happened and what he’d seen.
    That makes two of us.


    Matt's finishing combo of moves (Drain Punch+Earthquake) was really brutal and satisfying to see because of all the hurt Dahlia had put on him in the match, and overall I really enjoyed how action-packed and unpredictable this battle ended up being.


    “Wobbuffet!” the blue Psychic-type Pokémon cheerfully shouted, waddling after his trainer and her friends as they left the arena.
    Wobbuffet closing TR's scene at the end of this battle really made it for me. You did really well capturing the spirit of them in the show with that bit.

    Though she could not hug Matt as he came back out into the Battle Arcade’s lobby like she wanted, Olivia still greeted him with as much enthusiasm as she could muster from her crutches. Beside her stood Nekou, Bunny and Dante, all of whom were smiling, even the elderly doctor.

    “Well, I wouldn’t want to disappoint my fans,” Matt chuckled, scratching the back of his head. “It looks like you’re feeling lively again, Olivia. That’s good.”
    SO CUTE.


    “What are you saying about me, old man?!”
    haha, I love how sassy Dahlia is.

    “Oh, relax, I’m just playing with you. You’re not too far from the truth, really…” Turning to Matt, who had managed to compose himself, Dahlia continued, “Matt, your ability to go in with a rough framework of a plan and retool it on the fly is something that will serve you well going forward, but do realize that the rest of the Frontier Brains are tougher than me.”
    I think this is an important warning for Matt and also a wake-up call of sorts- he's going to be in really deep when he challenges more of the frontier.

    “Good choice, I wanted to go!” In a complete departure from her previous feelings, Nekou now loudly supported the proposal. “A school would have one of my favorite things in it!”

    “I swear,” Matt sighed, “if you say free food…”

    “No, that’s number two.” Ignoring the look of exasperation plastered on Matt’s face, she continued, “I’m talking about books, the one thing that goes well with absolutely anything. I’ll read as much as I want there.”
    Nekou has her priorities in order.

    “You boys ought to stop fighting,” Ariana suggested, walking up to Zager’s computer console. She was playful at first but quickly turned serious. “I’ve already passed the information on.”

    “And I have already received it.”

    The stern, powerful voice of the man on the screen brought both Zager and Pierce into line nearly instantly. Both the younger agent and the older scientist dropped down onto one knee and set their right hands over their hearts while Ariana stood by.

    “Hail Giovanni!” both declared in unison.

    “Dispense with the formalities,” Giovanni ordered, waving his hand to dismiss their actions. Before speaking further, the Team Rocket leader adjusted the lapel of his suit – a black article with red pinstripes – and pushed up his blood-red necktie. “Pierce, you have had interactions with a representative of the Tenganist people?”
    I really enjoyed this bit in particular because it nicely captures what I love about a lot of the interactions between Giovanni and other Rockets, especially from earlier in the show, where everything is very official and foreboding and atmospheric, and the way you captured that interesting type of tension was very cool. I also love how Pierce and Zager are super official and formal and Ariana's just standing there.

    “Dr. Zager, this goes far deeper than simple alliances. There has been a systematic campaign to eradicate the Tenganist people going on in secret. Many of their settlements have been destroyed, Michina Town being the first we know of, and the chief suspect we’ve identified as being behind this genocide is Ghetsis Harmonia. His hatred of the Tenganists is a poorly kept secret that Team Rocket’s intelligence forces picked up in Unova.”
    More of that showing Gio as a thinker that I love oh so much.

    Sighing at Zager, Ariana shot back, “And because that’s one dumb-*** suggestion, I’m going to ignore it. You’ve got agents in the field who could be in way over their heads right now.”
    to quote the same source material, "I understand that reference." Nice shout-out there.

    “You’re both wrong,” Giovanni intervened. “Jessie, James and Meowth failed me more times than I can remember. But, they have proven their worth through their actions during our operations in Unova. They are some of Team Rocket’s top operatives and I have full confidence in their ability to get the mission done. That said, however, I do not object to dispatching an Executive to assist them. Ariana, do what you must to accomplish the mission.”
    PERFECT I wish there were more portrayals of him like this with regards to how he views his subordinates instead of just "generic misanthrope."

    A young woman, bearing back-length purple hair and cold green eyes framed by glasses, carefully worked her way into the room, holding a cup of coffee on a saucer. She slowly and deliberately walked forward toward Giovanni’s desk, taking great care not to let her shaky hands spill the coffee on the red-and-purple material of her military-style dress. Eventually managing to reach her boss safely, she set the cup down before him.
    Everything that is awesome about Matori's character in one gorgeously detailed paragraph.

    Instead, he turned his chair around, giving himself a view through the huge window positioned behind his desk. His faithful Pokémon, Persian, walked up to his side and meowed, so Giovanni scratched the large, cream-colored cat under the chin, prompting him to purr contentedly.
    Gotta have Persian in there somewhere.


    “I’m keeping you two alive and this is what you repay me with?!!” Of course, Ghetsis actually did end up exploding. Slamming his cane into the ground over and over, he fumed, “I won’t be able to keep ahead of those small-minded, imperfect fools on the Sacred Helix at this rate! I must! I am a perfect being, the perfect ruler for a world that shall be shaped into perfection!”
    Ghetsis's entire scene gave me chills but particularly this part. I can't imagine what Concordia and Anthea must be feeling in that cell.

    “Split up,” Ghetsis spoke once he finally reopened his eyes. “Darkness, you and Pestilence go to the west, toward Goldenrod City. Send Chaos off to the east, in the direction of Violet City and Cherrygrove City. Find those two freaks no matter the cost!”
    Clever naming.


    The final scene between Nekou and Matt makes her even more mysterious- it's clear this is a lady who gets what she wants and looks out for those she cares for, and it's very clear she's very invested in Olivia. I think you added a great deal to her with that closing scene of your chapter, and added equal amounts to the stakes Matt faces. I think he's starting to realize that he eventually needs to let Olivia know exactly what's going on or he's going to really have her trust in him shaken in the end if she hears it from someone who's not him, or at least that's how I see it. I think Nekou's discussion with him was an important one to have and Matt is incredibly lucky to have received it because he really DOES need to check himself.

    Also, I really love that you had her hiding two beers under the sheets, because of course she would.

    Great work all around. I'm totally looking forward to your next chapter now.

    "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."
    -Stephen King

    I write odd slice of life stories about Team Rocket. If that's your thing, give them a look:

    Alpha Male- behind every friendship is a story. Perspective contest fourth place winner.
    Secretary- A short and cynical tale of paperwork and sadism
    Survival- A novella about the unbreakable bonds between one man and his feline friend. 2011 Pokemon Big Bang story.


  5. #55
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    The first part I want to say real quick I like Jessie’s comment over them not needing to be held hands all the time. Nice moment for her there.

    Over the battle, yay a rainfall one! XD I love Dahlia use of Psychic during the rainfall, though I predicted Matt will use it to make temporary hail.

    “There’s got to be a way out of this,” Matt thought, even going as far as shutting his eyes to try to focus. “Come on, think of something!”
    Not sure if you’re having Matt saying his thoughts aloud here, but going to assume so as you’re using quotation marks there. If that’s the case, already mention your repetition of having characters say their thoughts aloud too many times. :x Otherwise you can just italicize his thoughts.

    Snickering, Nikola quickly shot a lightning bolt in a random direction and sustained the charge for several seconds. The electricity caught onto the raindrops at an exponential rate, and soon, the entire field was flooded by electrical energy.
    Love the image of Nikola snickering. XD

    The Water-and-Grass-type Pokémon muttered nervously and adjusted her sombrero while waiting for the air to clear.
    And don’t know why, but thought that’s an adorable image, heh.

    “Nikola, good job! That was exactly what I needed!” Though Matt’s praise of his Rotom was expressed in a confident-sounding voice, Matt was anything but confident at that point.
    Minor, but the repetition of Matt’s name sounds a bit awkward. Replace the second Matt with “he” will easily fix that.

    “So it comes down to this…” Having recalled Nikola, Matt stood rigidly in a way that caused his eye to be obscured by the shadow of his hat’s brim. “I’ve got to pin all my hopes on this last one after all… out of these three, he’s my newest Pokémon, but I’m not going to just let this go…” Whipping his head up, he sharply added, “I’m not letting this go because those who run cannot find the truth! Patrick, make your mark!!”
    Er, yeah, have to point out Matt talking his thoughts aloud again (even Dahlia notices that, heh). :x

    Onto the end of the battle, nice use of Pressure. Predicted Matt would win, but I admit to liking the idea of Patrick on Zapdos’ back, haha. Overall a fun and entertaining battle.

    “You’re both wrong,” Giovanni intervened. “Jessie, James and Meowth failed me more times than I can remember. But, they have proven their worth through their actions during our operations in Unova. They are some of Team Rocket’s top operatives and I have full confidence in their ability to get the mission done. That said, however, I do not object to dispatching an Executive to assist them. Ariana, do what you must to accomplish the mission.”
    Yay for continuity from the anime!

    Like Nekusagi, I too like the conversation between Neku and Matt. Not surprised Neku relies on Matt just as much as Olivia does (meant it in a good way!)

    Another enjoyable chapter there! Looking forward to more.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Matori View Post
    Excellent use of imagery there. I really love how vivid your description always is in your writing.
    Thank you. I wanted to give a sort of painting-like image for that opening scene.

    Pierce makes everything better always. Good work making Jessie the badass lady in charge she should be.
    I'm starting to feel really comfortable writing them, finally. I think I found my groove with them.

    This was a really cute scene and I think you have their priorities perfect as far as the three of them go. I get the impression they don't really like listening to anyone they're not used to working for and you showed this perfectly. You also did a really good job showing James and Meowth as bros to each other who have each other's backs.
    'Cute' wasn't really what I was going for with the scene, but I won't fault you for taking that away. The fact that the three of them are sort of like their own little family in a way is an especially important part of who they are as characters, I think, so I wanted to get that across.

    As for them not liking taking orders from Pierce, it just seemed like something that would work, so I did it.

    Beautiful use of description there.
    Does what it has to do, I think.

    WOBBUFFET IN A TRENCHCOAT. That will not be obvious at all nothing can ever go wrong with this.
    THERE IS NO WAY ANYTHING ABOUT THIS COULD POSSIBLY BE WRONG.

    haha never change, Nekou.
    She probably never will. XD;

    I really enjoyed reading the announcer in this chapter and the vast amount of enthusiasm he has. His announcing during the big battle against Dahlia really did well to keep me in the action of the battle and make me feel like I was actually in a stadium full of cheering spectators, and he's very believable as an announcer.
    I think having that little extra bit of in-universe narration definitely helps to move along the action and also to draw in the reader's interest a bit more.

    Made me want to dance. Dahlia's definitely got the most thrilling introduction.
    What I was going for there was to give Dahlia a completely over-the-top introduction to emphasize the showiness of the whole thing. Looks like I succeeded.

    I get the feeling Dahlia's going to give him more than he bargained for.
    Oh definitely.

    I think this is an important part of Matt's personality and you show it well. He's not the best with crowds as you've shown before and that's a major challenge he has to overcome in this battle. I think the fact that Pokemon battles are about the trainer is often forgotten and there are definitely factors that can make a battle easier or harder for the trainer in question.
    I actually almost forgot about this element until I remembered how I used it in The Victory Star of Fate. Now, I think I will keep working on it, now that it seems to be an element of his character that is going over well.

    Dahlia's enthusiasm just makes me smile so much.
    I really wanted to capture that essence, her character of being so excitable and intense yet confident.

    Dahlia's motif of luck that she uses in all her speeches was something I really enjoyed, the difference between luck and chance with luck being something you make for yourself as opposed to chance. It really sets the tone for one of the major themes of this whole battle. I also really love how she uses her contest moves in battle because it makes an important point about how knowledge is important to a trainer.
    And that ties into what I just said, about depicting Dahlia as knowledgeable and confident. She really knows the meaning of her facility well, and her intention is to impress that meaning into the challengers that she faces. I think that's something important that someone like a Frontier Brain should be doing.

    Showing Olivia's reactions throughout the battle was a VERY important detail to show, because it not only shows how important Matt is to her but that Matt's not just battling for his own glory, he's doing this for those who trust him too. And I really love how both Matt and Olivia rely on each other to keep going. It's a really good dynamic to show in a situation like this.
    Yes, you got that exactly right. That's exactly what those scenes were going for.

    The way Matt exploits the weather conditions in this battle was really my favorite part. It's a strategy you don't normally see and the way he was able to take things he watched and translate them to help him out was really clever and enjoyable to see.
    I think you'll like his battles, then. That's what he does - he thinks about things and tries to use what's available to him creatively.

    I also thought it was important to show him taking advantage of what the battle condition offered him, because Dahlia is obviously not the only one able to use it.

    The mental image of a snickering Rotom is adorable. Also, electrified raindrops is the greatest thing in ever.
    Heh, yeah. Rotom is a troublemaker.

    ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh ****.
    Exactly the feeling you should have had there.

    An important detail to note- in a way, Scald greatly equalized the playing field, so to speak. Dahlia had to finish her plans quickly because burning isn't a joke and any time Zapdos could have been wiped out completely.
    Precisely. It was definitely the equalizer.

    **** Ominous Wind. Seriously that move caused me so much grief in the games and when it comes out I assume bad things are about to go down.
    And I didn't even have its secondary effect - boosting all stats - take effect!

    The tension in this Zapdos battle scene was really well-handled, I think. Like the rest of the battle, I was constantly left guessing what would happen next, but this had the added tension of being the final round so it was even more important and anything could cause a sudden loss on either side.
    That's a good analysis. I hadn't thought about the ramifications of it being the final match.

    This is a really rough sequence of attacks and I kind of cringed when I realized there was a reason she was that specific.
    I think that it could have been predicted - this technique was foreshadowed in the previous chapter by Dahlia using similar combinations while fighting Nando.

    Matt's finishing combo of moves (Drain Punch+Earthquake) was really brutal and satisfying to see because of all the hurt Dahlia had put on him in the match, and overall I really enjoyed how action-packed and unpredictable this battle ended up being.
    That's what it was going to come down to from the start, most likely - who could deliver the most forceful push over the line of defeat.

    Wobbuffet closing TR's scene at the end of this battle really made it for me. You did really well capturing the spirit of them in the show with that bit.
    I knew people would like the part with Wobbuffet. Myself, I like how well he still fits into their scenes even though their role is more serious here.

    SO CUTE.
    Get it while you can.

    haha, I love how sassy Dahlia is.
    I think it suits her.

    I think this is an important warning for Matt and also a wake-up call of sorts- he's going to be in really deep when he challenges more of the frontier.
    It makes for a good "oh ****" moment - after everything he had to do to defeat Dahlia, the other six are even stronger.

    Nekou has her priorities in order.
    Books and food. You bet she does.

    I really enjoyed this bit in particular because it nicely captures what I love about a lot of the interactions between Giovanni and other Rockets, especially from earlier in the show, where everything is very official and foreboding and atmospheric, and the way you captured that interesting type of tension was very cool. I also love how Pierce and Zager are super official and formal and Ariana's just standing there.



    More of that showing Gio as a thinker that I love oh so much.
    I don't want to get preachy, but this is what I think Team Rocket really should be. They can work in humor, but the organization is still a major crime syndicate that is involved in some very deep things. Each one has their own defined role - Giovanni is almost like a businessman/CEO type who has to run Team Rocket like a corrupt corporation, Zager is someone who takes periodically weird science seriously, and Pierce is just a straight-laced secret agent.

    Ariana, meanwhile, is pretty much the contrast to them. She's actually superior in rank to all of them but Giovanni, yet, she is the one who has the most casual attitude going about her job. Obviously I can't explain everything going on with every character now, but she has some more things coming that should give her more dimension, too.

    to quote the same source material, "I understand that reference." Nice shout-out there.
    I told you I'd do it. XD;

    PERFECT I wish there were more portrayals of him like this with regards to how he views his subordinates instead of just "generic misanthrope."
    Well, on one hand he does use his subordinates to advance his own agenda, but then again his agenda is Team Rocket's agenda too. I just think he appreciates the ones who are loyal and do a good job for him anyway.

    Everything that is awesome about Matori's character in one gorgeously detailed paragraph.



    Gotta have Persian in there somewhere.
    Two things I can pretty much only say "yes" to.

    Ghetsis's entire scene gave me chills but particularly this part. I can't imagine what Concordia and Anthea must be feeling in that cell.
    That's if they can feel anything.

    Clever naming.
    I already told you, but for everyone else, explanation of the Shadow Triad's names.

        Spoiler:- spoiler:



    The final scene between Nekou and Matt makes her even more mysterious- it's clear this is a lady who gets what she wants and looks out for those she cares for, and it's very clear she's very invested in Olivia. I think you added a great deal to her with that closing scene of your chapter, and added equal amounts to the stakes Matt faces. I think he's starting to realize that he eventually needs to let Olivia know exactly what's going on or he's going to really have her trust in him shaken in the end if she hears it from someone who's not him, or at least that's how I see it. I think Nekou's discussion with him was an important one to have and Matt is incredibly lucky to have received it because he really DOES need to check himself.

    Also, I really love that you had her hiding two beers under the sheets, because of course she would.
    I see. I wanted that scene to be a deceptively-simple-but-surprisingly-complex look at her from several angles. She's completely violating his personal space, but she doesn't care, and she has a serious point she has to make with it. She's a character of seemingly conflicting traits and I wanted to capture some of that.

    As for the beer cans... it's about easy access.

    Great work all around. I'm totally looking forward to your next chapter now.
    Thank you!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bay View Post
    The first part I want to say real quick I like Jessie’s comment over them not needing to be held hands all the time. Nice moment for her there.
    I wanted to capture some of their defiant attitude and overly-confident approach to things, and I think Jessie was the best to use to establish that.

    Over the battle, yay a rainfall one! XD I love Dahlia use of Psychic during the rainfall, though I predicted Matt will use it to make temporary hail.
    Good prediction skills, then. Both sides using the rain to their own advantage at times was another thing I felt important to show.

    Not sure if you’re having Matt saying his thoughts aloud here, but going to assume so as you’re using quotation marks there. If that’s the case, already mention your repetition of having characters say their thoughts aloud too many times. :x Otherwise you can just italicize his thoughts.
    It's internal dialogue he's thinking to himself, hence the quotation marks and italics together.

    Love the image of Nikola snickering. XD
    I think I may need to use this more often. XD;

    And don’t know why, but thought that’s an adorable image, heh.
    I took it from Ludicolo's animation in Colosseum and XD, actually. If you look closely, Ludicolo adjusts its hat as part of its animation after getting damaged.

    Minor, but the repetition of Matt’s name sounds a bit awkward. Replace the second Matt with “he” will easily fix that.
    You're right about that.

    Er, yeah, have to point out Matt talking his thoughts aloud again (even Dahlia notices that, heh). :x
    This time he actually was talking out loud to himself, but I'm not sure I totally understand what's wrong with that. Could you explain it more, please?

    Onto the end of the battle, nice use of Pressure. Predicted Matt would win, but I admit to liking the idea of Patrick on Zapdos’ back, haha. Overall a fun and entertaining battle.
    I decided to use Pressure because I wanted to use something that you don't see very often in battles within fics. I personally haven't seen much of abilities being used in such a way, so it was fun to do.

    Yeah, sorry the outcome was a little predictable. I don't think I could have really helped it at this point.

    Glad you liked the battle overall. I wanted it to be enjoyable and memorable.

    Yay for continuity from the anime!
    It's the best way to maintain the Trio's credibility, I think.

    Like Nekusagi, I too like the conversation between Neku and Matt. Not surprised Neku relies on Matt just as much as Olivia does (meant it in a good way!)
    Nekou meant it in more ways than one. There's a lot more to that scene than you might think...

    Another enjoyable chapter there! Looking forward to more.
    Thanks! You can bet there's going to be more.



    I should put a note to everyone now, though: the next chapter is probably going to be quite long. It needs to cover a lot of material that can't easily be broken into two parts.
    Last edited by The Great Butler; 19th October 2012 at 10:18 AM.

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    This time he actually was talking out loud to himself, but I'm not sure I totally understand what's wrong with that. Could you explain it more, please?
    My last review I already explained how you have the characters say aloud their thoughts and plans during the battle and not through narration. I know the anime does that several times, but if I were in a Pokemon battle in real life I wouldn't say my every feelings and such aloud. You should take advantage of the emotions more through narrative to make it more show and not tell. That's probably just me though. Hope this makes sense. D:
    Last edited by Bay; 20th October 2012 at 3:41 AM.


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    Have to say, this was a pretty decent chapter.

    Matt VS Dahlia, being the meat of the chapter, was handled pretty well, having a good amount of action and interesting tactics. The group's interactions are just as fun as ever, including Dante. Speaking of which...

    While Nekou and Olivia were exchanging comments on Matt, Bunny happened to glance over to her other side. She spotted Dante sitting rigidly in the next seat, staring intently at the battle as if he was intending to memorize every single detail of it. At first disturbed by this, she quickly brushed it off and decided to pay it no mind.
    Not a good idea, Bunny. Not a good idea in the least...

    Anyway...

    Gee, why am I not surprised that Ghetsis is plotting world domination AGAIN? Some people just don't learn, I guess. I do eagerly anticipate N's arrival on the scene, however.

    And now, some obligatory quotations:

    “Now, Patrick!” Matt shut his eyes as he held up his arm. He did not want to see what was about to happen. “Hit it head-on with Drain Punch!”

    Showing more courage than his trainer, Patrick fearlessly faced the raging inferno that bore down on him. He didn’t expect to inflict much harm either, but he intended to come out having done something to help. With perfect timing, he swung his fist just perfectly to connect with Zapdos’s beak.

    Zapdos’s frenzied attack was the one that won out, easily overwhelming Patrick. His Drain Punch, however, caused the Drill Peck/Heat Wave/Thunderbolt combination to go off target, and it instead mowed the Seismitoad down at his feet and pushed him down onto the Legendary Pokémon’s back.

    A combination of Zapdos’s pained, frustrated squawks and the explosion of noise from the audience forced Matt to open his eyes and see what was going on – Zapdos flittering around the arena in a panic, trying to get Patrick off of its back.

    “Now I’ve seen ****ing everything…” he thought, unable to form words for a minute due to the sheer shock of what had happened and what he’d seen.
    Patrick is awesome. Enough said.

    “Sorry, please forgive me. I’m just glad I managed to catch up with you.” Straightening up, the man smoothed out his suit and straightened his yellow tie, giving himself a much more professional look. He offered his hand to Matt, saying, “That was rude of me. Please allow me to introduce myself. The name’s Dominic.”

    “Well met, then.” Seeing no reason to turn down the courtesy Dominic was showing him, Matt took the man’s hand for a firm handshake.

    “That’s quite the handshake,” Dominic immediately pointed out. Noticing the confused looks that greeted this rather odd proclamation, he hurried to explain, “I’m a salesman for the Angel Corporation, you see, so in my line of work a good handshake goes a long way. Anyway, I hope I’m not intruding too much, but when I saw you here, Mr. Chiaki, I had to give approaching and asking you a shot.”

    “Ask me what?” Matt found himself less bothered by Dominic’s presence than his seeming inability to actually get to the point. Nekou was standing just behind him and giving Dominic an exaggerated death stare, but Matt was completely unaware of this.

    “Will you be going to Violet City?”

    “Wait, that’s it?” The sheer simplicity of the question caught Matt completely off guard, and he did not have an answer ready.

    “Of course!” Olivia immediately cut in. “That’s where my first Gym is!”

    “But why would you want to know?” A hint of suspicion flavored Nekou’s inquiry. Harboring a dislike for not knowing what was happening, she felt uncomfortably on edge.

    “I said I was a salesman, well, I’m actually a traveling salesman. I’m asking about Violet City because my son and two daughters are attending Earl’s Pokémon Academy there for a while, and after seeing you battle, I’d really appreciate it if you could meet them.”
    I think I'm going to end up being suspicious of just about everyone who walks up to Matt and co., Dominic included. Especially if they, like him, are connected in some way to Angel Corp/Polaris.

    “Split up,” Ghetsis spoke once he finally reopened his eyes. “Darkness, you and Pestilence go to the west, toward Goldenrod City. Send Chaos off to the east, in the direction of Violet City and Cherrygrove City. Find those two freaks no matter the cost!”
    I know you've already explained your reasoning for the naming convention of the Shadow Triad, but I still find it interesting (and fitting) that their names are like the kind used by the Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

    “Now that’s the Matt I knew was in there.” Nekou moved over to the bed she was sleeping in and reached into the rumpled sheets, pulling out two cans of beer; she tossed one to Matt then opened the other. “That’s for you. Let’s celebrate a little, alright?”
    I suppose it was only a matter of time before this happened...


    Everyone--Team Rocket and Polaris--is setting up for their plans down the road. Olivia's going to be challenging the Violet City Gym. Ghetsis is being a piece of crap. Everything comes together to form an awesome package.

    Can't wait to see how this all unfolds.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morpher01 View Post
    Have to say, this was a pretty decent chapter.
    Thank you!

    Matt VS Dahlia, being the meat of the chapter, was handled pretty well, having a good amount of action and interesting tactics.
    I hope to have more battles like it going forward. But, on the other hand, there has to be a diversity in how the battles go out, so I'll have to live up to the challenge of having a lot of different ideas up my sleeve.

    The group's interactions are just as fun as ever, including Dante. Speaking of which...

    Not a good idea, Bunny. Not a good idea in the least...
    Hey, he just really gets into watching battles. Nothing wrong with that, right?

    I'm satisfied to see that you still like the group dynamic at play here. Now that the first major battle plot has passed, I'd like to bring group relations more into focus again for a while.

    Anyway...

    Gee, why am I not surprised that Ghetsis is plotting world domination AGAIN? Some people just don't learn, I guess. I do eagerly anticipate N's arrival on the scene, however.
    It's a little more complicated than that, but as for what it is he wants... we'll have to wait and see.

    And now, some obligatory quotations:

    Patrick is awesome. Enough said.
    A lot of that turn of events was luck, in accordance with the theme of the fight, but yeah, he is pretty awesome. I wanted to give a Seismitoad a chance to shine.

    I think I'm going to end up being suspicious of just about everyone who walks up to Matt and co., Dominic included. Especially if they, like him, are connected in some way to Angel Corp/Polaris.
    That's something you're going to have to look at future events to decide.

    I know you've already explained your reasoning for the naming convention of the Shadow Triad, but I still find it interesting (and fitting) that their names are like the kind used by the Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
    To be honest, that part of it actually slipped my mind until it was pointed out to me.

    I suppose it was only a matter of time before this happened...
    I think I know where your mind is going, and the next chapter is going to show you it didn't go there.

    Everyone--Team Rocket and Polaris--is setting up for their plans down the road. Olivia's going to be challenging the Violet City Gym. Ghetsis is being a piece of crap. Everything comes together to form an awesome package.

    Can't wait to see how this all unfolds.
    Thanks for all of your points. I'm very happy that you're enjoying the story so far.

    Oh, here's something I'll toss out there: something is going to happen involving Team Rocket in the next chapter. They're not going to be on the sidelines anymore.

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    There’s going to be some violent content in this chapter. Nothing too intense, but I’d rather be more cautious than I have to be instead of not cautious enough. Also, language.

    -:-

    CHAPTER 6: Transcending Humanity

    -:-

    Matt and Nekou had spent a small amount of time talking over the beer she shared with him the previous night. Somehow, it was actually a worthwhile discussion – they spoke of Olivia’s well-being for a while, then started talking about books they liked. The alcohol took its toll on Matt, though, and he soon felt tired. It was not long after that that he simply fell asleep.

    On the upside, though, he slept well and felt completely reinvigorated the next day. As he had finished eating well before the others had even all gotten up, he separated from them and left the Pokémon Center to await them at the gateway to Route 30. The bright morning sun cast golden light over the flowing grass stretching out beyond the borders of Cherrygrove City; it also warmed the earthy red leaves of the autumn trees surrounding the route.

    He had a wait of about forty minutes before Nekou arrived with Olivia, Bunny and Dante in tow. Even when he knew they were behind him, however, he did not immediately turn around.

    “Matt, I think you better see this…” Judging from her voice, something had clearly disturbed Bunny.

    “What happened?” he wondered, taking his time to turn around.

    The answer didn’t come immediately to him. He glanced over the four of them; the flamboyant young woman, his conservatively-dressed friend and her outlandish counterpart, and the elderly scientist wearing a brown coat and holding a briefcase in his hand. All of them merely stood before Matt and stared back as he tried to figure out what was wrong.

    It didn’t take long for the truth to hit him like a speeding truck.

    Olivia was standing there like the others.

    “Olivia, your leg!” Matt exclaimed, adjusting his glasses in disbelief. “How are you standing there like that without your crutches?”

    “I guess it just got better during the night,” Olivia answered with a shrug. “It was feeling a little better yesterday, and when I got up this morning, I could walk again.”

    “It is atypical for someone to recover from an injury that quickly,” Dante stated. He hesitated briefly before adding, “But I’m sure you already knew that. The Pokémon Center nurse and I took her cast off before we came out here. I’m not sure why she recovered so quickly, but I’m sure there must be a reason.”

    “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, I say. Maybe she wasn’t injured as badly as we all thought. What do you think of that?”

    Olivia smiled when Nekou patted her on the head, and in response to the question Nekou posed, she said, “You might be right, I guess. I’m not concerned about it.”

    Though he wanted to accept Olivia’s decision, second thoughts clouded Matt’s mind. He stood still, unable to rid himself of a lingering concern that something just couldn’t possibly be right about Olivia’s miraculous recovery. To force it out of his head, he finally turned back around to face what he had been looking at.

    “And I’ve got something to show you,” he declared, spreading his arms wide. “Take a look at this!”

    Sitting just off the road, a robotic vehicle the size of a large truck greeted the eyes of Matt’s companions. Sleek in both its aerodynamic shape and primarily black coloration, it cut the figure of something out of a science fiction movie.

    Nekou drew in a stunned breath, clearly impressed by what she was seeing. “That’s... you built this?”

    “That is not the same one you had when we worked together years ago,” Bunny swiftly pointed out. “What happened to the old one?”

    “For those of you who don’t already know,” Matt answered, “this is the HR-E second version, or HR-E 2 for short. The original HR-E was destroyed five years ago when its electronics got fried by an EMP and then it got blown up.”

    “What… what is it, exactly?”

    Matt nodded to acknowledge Dante’s question, as he clearly recognized the confusion present in the old man’s mind. “To put it simply, it’s a mobile home and a laboratory at the same time. I designed the original version using everything my robotics teacher taught me so I could use it to travel around and do field research. For this new version, I simply streamlined the old plans for the original. So what do you think? It can serve as a place to stay if we ever need such a thing, and I can call it to me no matter where we are!”

    “I’m in.” As she responded almost instantly upon Matt finishing, Olivia was the first to get in her thoughts. “The old one that my dad, my mom and I stayed in was great, and the new build is even better.”

    “I’ve got to agree,” Bunny concurred. “I don’t mind fieldwork, obviously, but if I have somewhere comfortable to sleep, I’ll take it.”

    “I have to,” Dante added with a quick cough. “These old bones aren’t getting any younger.”

    “We’re all on the same page then.” Smiling, Matt pointed directly down the road. “Route 30 awaits us, and beyond that Violet City, so let’s get going.”

    -:-

    At that same time, somewhere far away, Finansielle was meeting with Jeunes and Getriebe. The video screen displaying her armor-covered shoulders, head and face was so outsized that it allowed her to lord over the sterile, metallic laboratory where the two male Polaris members were.

    “The correct solution is just eluding us, Finansielle,” Getriebe explained in a bored-sounding, monotonous voice. “We haven’t been able to find the genetic key that will make the Pokérus take the form we want.”

    “But everything else is going exactly according to plan,” Jeunes made sure to hastily add, all while pushing up his Mewtwo mask to push up the glasses held underneath. “The gathering of battle data has gone smoothly. We’re tracking the Meteonite right now, and we have several teams ready to go to secure it, which I intend to personally lead. Getting back to the Pokérus for a moment, though, we have managed to find the way to trigger a transformation in its genetic makeup. We just don’t know how to get it to mutate into what we want yet.”

    “I’m rather disappointed that I put so much investment into your research only for the most important answer to remain elusive.” Finansielle’s stinging criticism of their work prompted Getriebe – who was younger and wearing a helix-patterned suit along with his Electivire-themed helmet and mask – to shift his weight uncomfortably from one leg to the other. “It’s not that we don’t have a use for you any longer, though. Jeunes, what you should be doing is overseeing the collection of the Meteonite.”

    “It will get done, I swear it. The final stage of our search is not far off.”

    “Good. And Getriebe, your role is to continue gathering the battle data necessary for when we have the modified Pokérus and the equipment to harness it ready.”

    “Of course, Finansielle,” Getriebe said while leaning forward into a seemingly forced bow. “My Purine Base serves that exact purpose…”

    “Very well. I’m confident you’ll have good news for us all at the next meeting of the Sacred Helix. As for me, I am currently heading to the Adenosine Base. I’m calling in an expert on Pokémon strength to analyze the existing research and help fill in the missing gaps. He’s arriving there via helicopter sometime soon and I’m on my way to greet him. We’re now one step closer to our promised world…”

    -:-

    “Drowzee, use Pound!”

    Further up the lightly wooded road of Route 30, Renzo and his Drowzee were engaged in a battle against a wild Pokémon while three younger children watched from the sidelines. The Pokémon – a fluffy, round, white ball of cotton – used a pair of green leaf-like appendages to flutter out of Drowzee’s grasp, making it hard for the Psychic-type to land a hit.

    After escaping several times, the Pokémon flicked her arms to toss several sharp-edged leaves as a counterattack. Much to Renzo’s annoyance, Drowzee was too slow to escape from the wild Pokémon’s Razor Leaf, leaving his body riddled with cuts. Behind his mouth-obscuring scarf, Renzo clenched his teeth.

    “I will not fail to capture you, Cottonee! Drowzee, take a ranged approach this time. Psycho Cut!”

    Jumping back, Drowzee quickly slashed the air in front of himself using his right arm, flinging a purple-hued blade of psychic energy directly into his opponent. The Cottonee crumpled beneath the crushing force Drowzee’s Psycho Cut carried, the wide gash across her face still faintly glowing from the residue of what created it.

    “You’re mine now! Go, Poké Ball!”

    Renzo pulled a red-and-white sphere from the inner part of his tattered poncho and threw it at the Pokémon he’d just finished fighting. The Poké Ball cracked open upon hitting Cottonee’s body, allowing its inner technology to convert the Pokémon into energy before pulling her in. It then sealed up and fell to the ground, where before the eyes of Renzo and his Psychic-type, it rocked and shuddered.

    “Come on...” the ragged trainer thought to himself. “I can’t afford any more Poké Balls…”

    He didn’t need to worry, however, as almost immediately after he finished that thought, the Poké Ball became still and gave off a pinging sound, indicating a successful capture. Renzo’s attitude quickly changed; he excitedly ran over to where the Poké Ball lay on the ground and picked it up, while the more lethargic Drowzee simply ambled up alongside his trainer.

    “Wow, great job!” called one of the children, a bright-eyed girl whose brown hair hung in a side-tied ponytail.

    “Yes, thank you…” Renzo replied, before cracking the Poké Ball in his hand open once more. The Cottonee, her body visibly bruised in several places, materialized from its confines and almost immediately shrank back upon seeing Renzo and his Drowzee. “Now, now, you don’t have to be afraid, Cottonee. We’re not going to hurt you. Please, forgive us for doing what we had to.”

    Lowering himself so he wound not appear as intimidating to the small Pokémon, Renzo extended a hand and waited as Cottonee nervously examined it. It took a bit of time, but Renzo’s newly-caught Pokémon did eventually decide that the situation was safe, at which point she hopped up into his hand and allowed him to hold her.

    “There you go,” he said in an attempt to further comfort her, “nothing to be afraid of.”

    “Mister Renzo, outsiders!” one of the two male children suddenly cried.

    “Hmph. I would wager that I can guess who.” Slowly turning around, Renzo came to face Matt, Olivia, Nekou, Bunny and Dante, who had arrived in the pass just after Cottonee was captured. His guess having evidently been right, he sighed and said, “So the usurper and her followers return, with a new addition, no less. Listen, I will not be persuaded away from my goals, no matter how large your group becomes!”

    “We’re not interested in you,” Matt attempted to argue while adjusting his glasses in exasperation. “We just want to go to Violet City.”

    “That Pokémon in your arms,” Olivia observed, pointing straight at Cottonee. “I’ve never seen it before.”

    “Cottonee, the Cotton Puff Pokémon,” her Pokédex stated once she took it out. “Perhaps because they feel more at ease in a group, they stick to others they find. They end up looking like a cloud.”

    “I would say that your little invader is plenty interested in me, thank you very much. Actually, come to think of it, we have a bit of a score to settle from New Bark Town, do we not? Olivia, I challenge you!”

    “Bring it on!” Olivia immediately shot back, without even taking a moment to think. “I beat you once and I’ll do it again!”

    “You go for it, Olivia!” Nekou encouraged. “Put him in his place!”

    “Ha! Fat chance!” The boy from earlier, who was clothed in a red t-shirt and denim shorts, was starting to walk over in Renzo’s direction. “Renzo beat all three of us without breaking a sweat. He’ll make quick work of you, too!”

    “Please, do not interfere.” Renzo’s request prompted the bold-tempered boy to stand down. “This is a burden I must bear alone, teaching this undeserving swine her place in the world.”

    “Don’t you think that’s a little cruel?” By the scowl on her face, Bunny was clearly bothered by Renzo’s names for Olivia. “The way you talk, you make it sound like Olivia killed your mother or something.”

    Renzo flinched, but quickly recovered. “Olivia, I will not be using this Cottonee against you. I just captured it, and it is not in prime health for battling. Neither will I be using my Drowzee, who is tired from battling Cottonee. I have prepared a Pokémon specifically for my next meeting with you, and now it is time for you to meet that Pokémon.”

    “Like I said, bring it on! I’m not afraid of you!”

    “You should be.” With Cottonee, Drowzee and the three children looking on, Renzo drew out another Poké Ball from his poncho and silently threw it.

    From that Poké Ball emerged a muscular Pokémon whose gray body was covered in pink veins bursting from his skin. His lumpy head, round red nose and the iron beam he held alongside himself offered Olivia the only hints to his identity.

    “That must be…” she gasped, quickly taking out her Pokédex once more.

    “Gurdurr, the Muscular Pokémon. Evolved form of Timburr. With strengthened bodies, they skillfully wield steel beams to take down buildings.”

    “So you evolved it, big deal.” Though Olivia was putting up a tough front, she had an increasing feeling of dread developing in her mind. Gurdurr was much more intimidating in appearance than Timburr was, and she knew that evolution would bring the Pokémon even more strength than he had before. “I won’t be afraid. Oshawott, let’s play!”

    Olivia’s Water-type Pokémon appeared on the path in a burst of bright light. He did not notice his soon-to-be-foe right away; instead, he started playing with the shell on his stomach by turning it to different angles. Once he finally did notice Gurdurr standing over him, though, he quickly became serious. Like his trainer, he was nervous to be facing the menacing Gurdurr, but he had resolved to prove his worth to Olivia.

    “Are you going to try to take a stand here?” Renzo taunted, extending his right arm and gesturing to dare Olivia to attack. “Throw everything you’ve got at me! This time is going to be different!”

    “You’re going to regret saying that! Oshawott, Water Gun!”

    “That’s it? Gurdurr!”

    Drawing in a deep breath, Oshawott spit a stream of water from his mouth, aimed squarely at his opponent’s chest.

    Gurdurr remained unfazed, however. He picked up his metal beam with dexterity that betrayed how thick and unwieldy his arms were, then began spinning it in circles in front of himself, creating a shield. Oshawott’s Water Gun bounced harmlessly off the beam, accomplishing nothing.

    “Evolution really made that Gurdurr stronger,” Matt commented, a cold feeling running down his spine.

    “It’s a natural trait of the evolution family of Timburr,” Dante explained. “As it goes through its evolutionary stages, a Timburr gains more and more skill in using its chosen weapons. This Gurdurr’s shield technique, though… it’s impressive.”

    “Alright, now give her a taste of what you can do offensively, Gurdurr. Drain Punch!”

    In order to give himself more mobility, after he was finished using the iron beam as a shield Gurdurr stuck it firmly into the ground. He then lunged at Oshawott with his right fist pulled back and enveloped in a red glow.

    Oshawott held up his shell in a feeble attempt to shield himself from the terrifying Fighting-type Pokémon bearing down on him, but it made no difference. The shell was no match for the force of Gurdurr’s fist, which shattered it into pieces before striking Oshawott directly in the stomach, sending him rolling back through the dirt. Oshawott was hit so hard that he dug a trail into the path as he skidded to a stop.

    “Oh no, Oshawott!” Olivia cried out, her earlier feelings of dread now manifesting as sadness and fear for Oshawott’s safety. She was planning to call him back, and even had taken out his Poké Ball, but he struggled to his feet.

    “Osha! Osha!” Though his voice was shaky, Oshawott’s message was clear – he wanted to continue, no matter the cost.

    Unfortunately, Olivia and her supporters were not the only ones who understood this message. Renzo picked it up, too, and he nodded his head slowly. “Your Pokémon is a foolhardy one who knows not when to quit... kind of like you, usurper. Gurdurr, teach it a lesson. Mach Punch!”

    In a flash, Gurdurr was towering over Oshawott once more, and without facing any resistance, he used a blazingly fast punch to slam Oshawott into the ground.

    This time, when Gurdurr pulled his fist back, Oshawott did not rise again. He lay unconscious in the hole smashed open by the sheer force of the blow.

    “No!”

    “Olivia, send Oshawott back!” Bunny shouted with her hands cupped around her mouth, unable to bear seeing Olivia’s Pokémon suffer. “This isn’t worth it!”

    Silently, Olivia followed Bunny’s advice, calling Oshawott back to the safety of his Poké Ball. Instead of backing down, however, she armed herself with another sphere. “I won’t be afraid…” she said out loud, seemingly addressing her own nerves. “Minccino, let’s play!”

    Once he saw Minccino emerge from Olivia’s second Poké Ball, Renzo scoffed. “You bank your hopes on the power of love? That’s all you’ve got with that weak little thing against Gurdurr. Well, let me tell you right now, the power of love is a lie! I’ll prove it to you right now! Gurdurr, attack with Drain Punch!”

    “Minccino, counter that using Aqua Tail!”

    Both Minccino and Gurdurr let out battle cries and jumped at each other, Minccino somersaulting through the air and Gurdurr with his fist pulled back. Minccino’s tail, which had taken on a blue glow, met Gurdurr’s fist with explosive results; the blast threw both Pokémon onto their backs.

    “Don’t let up, Minccino! Keep the pressure on it! Tail Slap!”

    Olivia had already honed in on one of Gurdurr’s weaknesses – outside of Mach Punch, he was not very swift. This weakness affected his recovery from the collision of Aqua Tail and Drain Punch, as he was struggling to stand back up. Taking advantage of this, Minccino rushed in and spun, enabling her to use her tail as a whip, striking Gurdurr’s body four times. Each hit elicited a low, pained groan from the thick-bodied Fighting-type.

    From the sidelines, Matt smiled. He was proud to see Olivia taking charge as much as she was.

    “That will not get you what you want. Wake-Up Slap, now!”

    Minccino was not out of Gurdurr’s reach just yet, and he took full advantage of that to strike back with a vengeance. He swept his arm across the space before him, smacking Minccino with a sharp slap.

    “Ciiiinooo!!” cried the tiny Normal-type. By the time she landed at her trainer’s feet, Minccino was completely unconscious as a result of Gurdurr’s extremely effective hit.

    “Minccino…” Olivia was beginning to become numb. Watching Oshawott fall in defeat quickly was hard enough for her to accept, but to watch the same fate befall her beloved Minccino affected her on a deeper level. She no longer could clearly visualize her surroundings beyond the battle, nor could she even hear Nekou yelling to her. She simply recalled Minccino and got the next Poké Ball ready. “Roselia, let’s play!”

    Gurdurr immediately locked eyes with Olivia’s Roselia when she was freed from her ball, and Roselia returned the gesture. Memories of New Bark Town flashed between them. Back then it had been Roselia that defeated Gurdurr, when he was still a Timburr prior to his evolution. He’d never let go of that defeat, and seeing Roselia again sent rage flowing through every bit of his body. It took all the restraint he could muster to remain in control and stop himself from attacking without orders.

    “Roselia, Sludge Bomb! Let’s try to get in a good hit!”

    “Gurdurr, you know what you must do.”

    The bursts of slime Roselia fired from her flowers never reached their target, as once again, Gurdurr spun his metal beam to shield himself. Once the poison dispersed in clouds of smoke, Gurdurr tensed his muscles in preparation for his next command.

    “Now, Gurdurr, Rock Slide!” To give his order some force, Renzo thrust his arm straight up, briefly tossing his ragged poncho open.

    Once again, Gurdurr planted his beam in the ground, but this time he climbed atop it. From his perch, he focused all the rage he felt toward Roselia and raised his arms into the air, roaring a battle cry across the field. His power caused an energy field to open over Roselia and drop large rocks onto her, crushing the leaves on her body.

    By this point, Olivia had long since realized that this battle was a lost cause, but something in her refused to allow her to quit. Taking what few openings she had left, she yelled, “Quick, Energy Ball!”

    “Rock Slide, once more!”

    The sparking green orb Roselia produced using what nature-based power she could draw upon while partially buried missed hitting Gurdurr, but it did cut down the iron beam, leaving the metal’s owner to fall to the ground. However, before he hit the dirt, Gurdurr triggered another Rock Slide, adding enough pressure on top of Roselia to force her to faint.

    “**** this!” Nekou screeched, still trying to get through to Olivia. “Olivia, there’s no shame in throwing in the towel! This isn’t worth it anymore!”

    “You stay out of this!” Renzo angrily shouted over her. “This battle is between me and Olivia! This is my score to settle and I will not let you interrupt it!”

    Ignoring Renzo’s ranting, Matt loudly said, “I agree with Nekou. There’s no need to go further!”

    All of it was in vain. Olivia was too broken by watching Oshawott, Minccino and Roselia go down easily, and she could not just let the battle go. She’d already called Roselia back and sent out Lillipup, who shrank before the intimidating gaze of Gurdurr.

    “Is that all you’ve got left?” Renzo furthered his grandstanding by throwing his head back and spreading his arms. “Don’t bother lying, I can tell you don’t have any more Pokémon. I can see it in your face. That look of sheer despair when there’s no option left but to give up… it’s something I’m too familiar with, so I’ve learned to tell when I’m looking at it. So… shall we get on with finishing this once and for all, usurper? Gurdurr, Drain Punch!”

    Olivia couldn’t even give Lillipup a direction with how numb she was. He was left with no other choice but to watch in terror as the slow moving but immensely powerful Gurdurr bore down on him.

    “Enough. Kangaskhan, Sucker Punch.”

    Suddenly, Gurdurr’s path to Lillipup was cut off by a Kangaskhan appearing between them. She swung and punched the Fighting-type, not hurting him much but knocking him back and stopping him from attacking Lillipup.

    “What?!” Renzo stomped his foot into the ground in rage over having been interrupted. “Who did that? Was it you, *****?!” he screamed as he pointed at Nekou.

    “You would know if it was me, kid. And ‘*****?’ You wish that was the worst name I’ve been called.”

    “It was I.”

    To the surprise of all the people gathered on the road, a tall, lithe young man jumped from the bushes to stand in the middle of the battle. His windbreaker jacket – designed with a checkerboard pattern over half-black, half-white coloring – fit loosely on his thin frame, while his long green hair flowed into a ponytail against his back from beneath his similarly-colored baseball cap.

    “And who are you, freak?!” Knowing the intruder’s face didn’t placate Renzo’s rage at all. In fact, it made him even more angry.

    “Fighting so brutally against Pokémon weaker than your own… it isn’t right…” As he spoke, the young man made strange gestures with his hands, as if he were manipulating something in the air before him. “Kangaskhan, Mega Punch.”

    “It’s just a Normal-type, Gurdurr! Get that thing out of my way! Drain Punch!”

    Gurdurr and the mysterious trainer’s Kangaskhan each swung their respective right fists toward each other, but when the two met, Gurdurr’s effort was easily overpowered. Kangaskhan managed to land a bruising blow directly on Gurdurr’s body, injuring him critically. Unable to believe what he was seeing, Renzo could do nothing but watch as his Pokémon crumpled to the ground before its mighty new foe.

    Kangaskhan kept growling at Gurdurr, but she stopped when her trainer put his hand on her side as an indication to stand down. The trainer then walked over to Gurdurr and lowered himself onto his knees.

    “What are you doing?!” Renzo raged as the young man placed his hands upon Gurdurr’s body. “Get off of my Pokémon!”

    Ignoring Renzo, the trainer closed his eyes and said quietly, “Transcend the confines of time and space...”

    Matt’s group, the three children and Renzo all looked on in varying degrees of surprise. They were watching a soft green light envelop Gurdurr and seemingly heal the visible wound he’d received. None of the observers to this was more shocked than Matt, though.

    “He’s using that power, I know it!” Matt thought, his eyes wide. “It’s almost the same as hers!”

    A moment later, the light faded, leaving the fully healed Gurdurr completely visible. Both the Pokémon and the trainer who healed him rose to their full heights, with the trainer walking back in Olivia’s direction while Gurdurr retreated to Renzo’s side.

    “Just who are you?” Renzo demanded. “Who the hell do you think you are?!”

    “So ungrateful, but I forgive you…” The strange young trainer continued gesturing strangely as he spoke, moving his hands and arms in wide, sweeping gestures. “My name is Nikolai, and I am a trainer… well, that’s not quite right. I am searching… for trainers and Pokémon who get along as equals. Where will you go from our meeting?”

    “Not that I owe you any answer,” Renzo replied with a scoff, “but I am going to traverse Dark Cave and the mountains of Route 45 beyond. My goal is Blackthorn City, where I will get a Dratini no matter what I must do.”

    “Why Dratini?” Bunny questioned. “I get that it’s rare, but you seem like you have a deeper reason.”

    “Dragonite was her favorite…”

    Without saying anything further, Renzo wandered off with his Pokémon. heading north on the road. The others who remained had little time to ponder his bizarre behavior, as Nikolai next approached Olivia.

    “Please allow me to see your Pokémon…”

    “Um…”

    “We’re here, Olivia,” Matt said in an attempt to reassure her, not noticing that Dante and Nekou both had stepped back to coldly observe things. “I… I think he’s trustworthy. He did protect you from Gurdurr…”

    “You’re right.”

    Her concerns soothed, Olivia quickly released her severely weakened Minccino, Roselia and Oshawott once more. They joined Lillipup, who had been hiding behind Olivia’s legs for some time, only coming out once the other Pokémon were present.

    “Thank you,” Nikolai spoke in a voice that was almost whispering, as he once again knelt down. “You have a fine collection of Pokémon… Now, transcend the confines of time and space…”

    Nikolai spread his hands over Olivia’s four Pokémon, and the same green light that healed Renzo’s Gurdurr engulfed them. Before anyone knew it, Oshawott, Roselia and Minccino were completely healed. Several stunned pairs of eyes rested squarely on Nikolai as he stood back up.

    “Your Pokémon spoke to me, Olivia... Oshawott says he wants to impress you and make you proud of him… Roselia and Minccino love being with you... Lillipup is scared of the big Pokémon but wants to get stronger…”

    “Wait, just what is it you’re saying?” Dante questioned, abruptly dropping back into the exchange. “You can talk to Pokémon?”

    “It’s the power of Transcendence,” Matt explained, earning a nod of agreement from Bunny, who was the only other one that knew what he was talking about.

    “How do you know about my power…?” Nikolai’s gaze was strangely pitched, as if he was looking over Matt’s shoulder to some object far away.

    “Because I used to know someone who had that power.” Reaching into his coat, Matt took out a pocke****ch, which he opened. Inside was a second cover, and on that second cover was a painting. It depicted a young woman, wearing white priestess clothing and her brown hair styled into three buns, whose face was distinguished by thick eyebrows above a pair of fierce, powerful blue eyes. Matt spent a moment looking at the painting, allowing himself the memories and regrets it brought to mind, before he spoke again. “Sheena was her name. She had the power of Transcendence like you, except she could only link with the hearts of people and Pokémon, not heal them like you do.”

    “I see… there aren’t many others like me. I want to use my power to… encourage humans and Pokémon to live together in harmony. This is all I can think of… please allow me to meet the Pokémon each of you possess.”

    “Why would you want to do that?” Nekou interrogated, her voice carrying more than a hint of suspicion over Nikolai’s motives.

    When Nikolai answered not by speaking but by merely staring at the ground, Matt decided to pick up the slack for him. “He healed both that Gurdurr and all of Olivia’s Pokémon when he didn’t have to, and quite honestly, I don’t think someone with powers like Sheena’s can be all that bad. I’ll go first.”

    While Matt took care in sending out each of his six Pokémon one at a time, there was more going on than any of them were aware of. Hiding in the woods and still following Matt’s group, Jessie, James and Meowth had been spying on the entire scene with their equipment and turned to each other in a panic.

    “What is he doing here?” Jessie demanded of the others. “We already knew about Ghetsis but this is something nobody said anything about!”

    “Team Plasma is more connected with this than we were ever told,” James said in agreement.

    “And if those crazy knights are mixed up with what’s going down with Polaris, things might be about to get really bad.” After seizing the R-Pad from James, Meowth touched an icon on its screen that allowed access to videos. “That contingency plan Ariana and the doctor came up with might be just what we need now.”

    Out on the road, Nikolai seemed to have a childlike sense of wonder as he examined Matt’s six Pokémon, the light of his power emanating from his outstretched hands all the while. He had quickly gravitated towards Matt’s Heatran, as he was aware of the kind of stories told about the stout-bodied Fire-and-Steel-type. Next, he moved on to Matt’s Sigilyph and Golurk, and the brightly-colored, three-eyed bird and towering golem both appeared more than happy to interact with him. The same could also be said about his Salamence and Beartic, but his final Pokémon – an eel whose blue body had three yellow dots on each side – visibly vexed him.

    Meanwhile, while Nikolai was carrying on his conversations with Matt’s Pokémon, the third of the children approached Olivia. Unlike the first two, who were rather excitable, the bowl-cut-wearing boy conducted himself very timidly as he looked up at her with wide, green eyes.

    “Um... you have an Oshawott, and a Pokédex…”

    “So?” Whatever the boy was trying to get at, Olivia wasn’t understanding it. “Besides it being Oshawott instead of Chikorita, Cyndaquil or Totodile, what’s the big deal?”

    “That scary guy on the television keeps telling us that trainers who have starter Pokémon and Pokédexes are the reason why trainers like my friends and I never get anywhere…”

    “Do you mean Ghetsis?” Nekou interrupted. When the boy nodded, she asked him, “What do you mean when you say that you and your friends never get anywhere?”

    “None of us have starter Pokémon. I just have my Taillow, while Julia has her Sandshrew and Ronald has his Marill. The three of us have been trying to make it to Violet City for weeks, but stronger trainers keep coming and beating us, and we don’t have enough money for medicine or the Pokémon Center…”

    Having listened intently to the boy’s story, Nekou decided to give them help. She immediately looked up and called, “Matt!”

    “What?” He had been watching Nikolai with his Pokémon, and as a result he was not paying attention to Olivia or the children.

    “Call HR-E here. These kids are in desperate need of some supplies.”

    “Hm?” Nekou’s request was so sudden that it took Matt several seconds to fully process exactly what it was she wanted. Once he fully grasped it, though, he reached up to his mask and pressed a tiny button located just under the eyepiece. “It’ll be here in a little while. What’d I miss?”

    “Ghetsis has been giving speeches claiming that trainers with starter Pokémon and Pokédexes keep trainers without those things from succeeding. I think this might be a little more serious than just the typical dime a dozen television snake oil salesman.”

    “Isn’t Pokémon training supposed to be about making it your own way, no matter which way you choose?” Olivia wondered out loud. “The idea of one group of trainers making it harder for another group of trainers to succeed doesn’t make sense to me.”

    Though she claimed to not find any sense in the story, however, the idea behind it did bother Olivia. She truly believed that Pokémon trainers on the most basic level helped each other, yet standing before her was someone who seemed like he might actually buy into the concept of a simple yet fundamental difference between groups of trainers hurting one of those groups.

    “Please explain something to me…” Matt’s attention was pulled back to its original location when Nikolai suddenly spoke up after having approached moments before. “Your Pokémon all seem at least relatively happy to be with you, as they’ve told me stories of some of your adventures… but why is your Eelektrik not responding in the same way?”

    “I haven’t really used her at all yet, to be truthful. I was hoping to get in some training with her soon...”

    Suddenly becoming angry, Nikolai moved in a single abrupt motion to get right in Matt’s face. “You must treat your Pokémon better! When I spoke to your Eelektrik, it told me that it feels forgotten. Simply capturing a Pokémon in one of those awful Poké Balls is not enough! You must spend time allowing that Pokémon to be free, as well!”

    “Geez, go easy on him, he only caught Eelektrik recently!” Bunny interjected as a defense for Matt. “Also, you say Poké Balls are awful, but don’t you use them as well?”

    Backing down from his anger somewhat, Nikolai admitted, “I do, but I do not take pleasure in doing so. I do not believe in confining Pokémon in situations where it is completely unnecessary… but in this society, it is difficult to travel with a party of Pokémon. I prefer to allow my Pokémon to live in the wild in various places until I need them, when possible...”

    “If I need to spend more time with Charlotte, then, how about you and I practice a bit?”

    “I dislike battling, except when one of my Pokémon wishes to engage in one...” Nikolai briefly closed his eyes and said after reopening them, “I can feel that I do have a Pokémon with me that desires a battle. Stantler, come alongside me, my friend.”

    Just as Nikolai sent out his Stantler from his ball, the HR-E 2 came gliding up, making a quiet, clean run just off the main path. As it settled into place, Matt looked back over his shoulder to Nekou, Bunny and Olivia.

    “Would you three go in there and get the medicine and supplies for the kids? It’s not hard to find.”

    “Do I have to do it?” Olivia sighed. “I want to train too!”

    Before Matt could say anything in response, Bunny said to him, “It’s okay, Nekou and I can do it ourselves, no problem.”

    “Alright, if you say so.”

    Nekou was uncharacteristically quiet and cooperative as she followed Bunny up to and past the entrance door into the HR-E 2. Calling back his other Pokémon, Matt brought Charlotte, his Eelektrik, to the forefront to face Nikolai’s Stantler.

    “Lillipup, Oshawott, I want to focus on training you guys specifically. Come on over here.”

    All four of Olivia’s Pokémon heeded her call despite her only requesting Lillipup and Oshawott; Roselia and Minccino stood beside her while the two she wished to battle waited in the front.

    “You want to battle against us?” Ronald took Olivia’s actions as a challenge, so he dragged his timid, soft-spoken friend alongside himself to face her. “Fine, let’s have a battle where you use two Pokémon and we’ll each use one! I’m fired up!”

    “If that’s what you want,” Olivia answered with a shrug, feigning a sort of surprise at how badly contrasting the personalities of the two boys were.

    -:-

    Off somewhere deeper in the woods, further away from the road than before, Jessie, James and Meowth were gathered around the R-Pad, which James was holding.

    “Are we far enough away?” he wondered.

    “They won’t hear us here,” Jessie sharply said. “Play the video.”

    “And go!”

    Meowth reached under James’s arm and pressed his paw against the R-Pad’s screen, triggering a pre-recorded video of Dr. Zager sitting in front of a camera.

    “Welcome. If you’re watching this video, something has gone wrong with the mission to capture the Meteonite from Route 29, and therefore you require the pre-prepared contingency plan. On Route 30 is the home of a man known as Mr. Pokémon, who collects and researches rare treasures. It is highly likely that he possesses information on the Meteonite. You are to remotely hack into his servers and download any data you can find, then forward it on to me.”

    “It’s all working out in pitch-perfect shape,” Meowth realized out loud. “That old guy’s got the Meteonite and is taking it to Mr. Pokémon. All we gotta do is keep following him until they meet up, and then we swoop in for the score!”

    “Let’s move, then,” Jessie directed. “What we can’t afford is to fall behind.”

    -:-

    Some time later, Matt, Nekou, Olivia, Bunny, Dante and Nikolai were once again walking on the road, having reached the northern part of Route 30. Dante and Matt were leading the pack, with Olivia, Bunny and Nekou clustered in the middle and Nikolai bringing up the rear.

    “I’ve got to tell you, Olivia, you did really well back there,” Matt said over his shoulder. “Even for a training battle, that was good work.”

    “Thanks!” the girl beamed, smiling broadly for the compliment. “Harold and his Taillow were stronger than I expected… I thought Ronald’s Marill would be tougher, but I was wrong. Lillipup and Oshawott really came through for me, though.”

    “And what about you and Nikolai?” Bunny chimed in. “You two had a pretty nice sparring match yourselves.”

    “I guess he was right about Charlotte wanting to have some time out doing things. She really responded to getting a chance to battle. Nikolai, thanks for that.”

    “I’m only doing what I think is right…” By now, Nikolai’s anger from earlier had fully subsided. He lurked behind the others and watched them carefully as they walked, not bothering to socialize but also not bothering to detach himself from the group.

    “Mr. Pokémon’s home is right through here.” Gesturing to an offshoot of the path that briefly crossed into the forest, Dante led the others in the direction he indicated.

    At the end of the path was something none of them were expecting.

    The house, a modest, two-story building made of wood, was being attacked by a Pokémon. They had to look carefully to see it, but there was a blue rock Pokémon shooting energy blasts from its yellow core at the structure.

    “What is that Pokémon?”

    Even before Matt finished asking his question, Olivia had her Pokédex out and was already in the process of scanning the Pokémon.

    “Roggenrola, the Mantle Pokémon. The hexagonal-shaped hole is its ear. It has a tendency to walk in the direction the sound is coming from.”

    “Why is that Roggenrola attacking Mr. Pokémon’s home?” Dante lamented aloud.

    The owner of the house was nowhere to be seen; Matt assumed, or at least hoped, that he was still safely inside. Roggenrola didn’t seem to notice the group and remained fixated on firing Rock Blast attacks at the building.

    “Let me find out,” Nikolai declared, showing an unexpected assertiveness as he stepped forth and extended his hands. “Transcend the confines of time and space!”

    Roggenrola didn’t even become aware of the group when Nikolai activated his power, but the glow from his hands enthralled Matt, Olivia and Bunny. As he probed into the mind of the small Rock-type Pokémon, Nikolai started to sweat, as accessing the innermost of Roggenrola’s thoughts was proving harder even than healing Olivia’s injured Pokémon.

    “Why is he having trouble?” Olivia asked Matt out of worry.

    “Sheena told me once that when a Pokémon is enraged, it becomes harder to reach that Pokémon’s heart. He’s trying to break through.”

    “I’ve… aah!” Nikolai’s eyes whipped open and he stumbled back, prompting Matt and Bunny to run to hold him up. “Th-thank you. That Roggenrola… it’s gone into a feral state and is trying to get food from in the house, because he’s been feeding the wild Pokémon in the area…”

    “Well, if that Pokémon is feral, maybe capturing it would be a good idea? We could civilize it.”

    Unsure of Matt’s proposal, Nikolai pulled his hat down and said, “I disagree on principle, but your Pokémon were fairly happy to be with you…”

    “I don’t see any other way to calm it down, and I think I might be able to get some training out of this, too. Charlotte, make your mark!”

    This was actually the idea that had jumped into Matt’s head almost immediately upon seeing the wild Roggenrola. Ever since learning that Charlotte was unhappy with her current situation, he’d been hoping for a chance to let her have a real battle. The sparring with Nikolai’s Stantler was a start, but he wanted something a bit less controlled.

    Charlotte balanced her long body on the ground so she could stand up and sent electricity flowing through her muscles, lighting up the spots on her sides.

    “Take the first attack, Charlotte! Charge Beam!”

    Some sparks shot out of Charlotte’s open mouth, followed by a concentrated blast of electricity. Roggenrola had finally taken notice and turned around when she heard Matt give his command, but she was nowhere near agile enough to avoid being swept up in the electric flow.

    Leaping out from the vortex, Roggenrola aimed the opening on her body at Charlotte, which then began to glow as it gathered power. Four energized rocks shot out of the opening and smashed into Charlotte, leaving purple bruises across her skin.

    “That first attack was quite effective, Matt.” After announcing her assessment, Bunny thought quickly and added, “I don’t think you need more than one more. Be very careful not to knock it out!”

    “Well, it’s a Rock-type, right? Then a Poison-type move should weaken it just enough. Acid Spray!”

    Charlotte cut off the flow of electricity to her mouth, then spat out a blob of green acid. Though the acid washed over Roggenrola’s body and broke down her defenses, however, it did not add significant injury to the already-hurt Pokémon. She could be seen breathing deeply, most likely drawing in air through the opening on the front of her body.

    “Ro-genn!” she cried, rushing forward on her tiny brown feet. She threw herself at Charlotte, but the Eelektrik weaved away, allowing the failed Headbutt attack to sail harmlessly past. Roggenrola ended up sliding into the dirt just beyond where Charlotte stood.

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  11. #61
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    “Now, the truth shall reveal itself! Go, Poké Ball!”

    Having taken an empty Poké Ball from his bag, Matt threw it in a sweeping motion at the Roggenrola, who was struggling to pull herself up from the dirt. When the capsule hit the Rock-type Pokémon’s body, it split open and absorbed Roggenrola in a flash of light before closing and falling to the ground.

    “I cannot say I approve of dealing with this situation in such a way…” Nikolai uttered in a severe tone while the others all watched the ball shake.

    To the surprise of even him, though, shortly thereafter the Poké Ball shattered. Now freed and growling in rage, Roggenrola turned to face Matt and Charlotte.

    “Looks like you pissed it off,” Nekou slyly said, fully knowing that Matt was perfectly aware of this already.

    “Don’t give me that now!”

    “Matt, watch out!” Olivia hastily cried.

    Roggenrola was charging again, this time squarely at Matt. He hadn’t noticed because he’d turned his head to address Nekou.

    Grunting, he covered his mouth with his arm and shouted, “Charlotte, Thunder Wave!”

    Despite having tiny feet, Roggenrola was able to build up enough force to jump directly at Matt. Charlotte got in the way, though, and intercepted Roggenrola. She was releasing electricity from her body when they collided, causing paralysis to overcome Roggenrola while she was flung back herself. Matt barely avoided getting knocked down by his own Pokémon.

    “I think that ought to do it,” he said to Bunny, Olivia and Nikolai, who were the only ones still paying attention to what was going on; Dante was already walking to the door of Mr. Pokémon’s home, while Nekou was spending her time looking at the trees surrounding the road. Sighing, Matt took out another Poké Ball and wordlessly threw it at Roggenrola. This time, the Pokémon put up little resistance and was successfully captured.

    “I hope you will treat that Roggenrola properly…”

    “You don’t have anything to worry about,” Matt said, dismissing Nikolai’s incessant concern while he picked up the Poké Ball that now contained his Roggenrola. Turning his head, he asked, “Nekou, what are you doing?”

    “I love how the trees look in autumn…”

    “I guess she’s just being herself again,” he conceded, sighing.

    Meanwhile, Dante had long since stopped being concerned about what the younger members of his traveling group were doing. He was standing in front of Mr. Pokémon’s front door, waiting after having rung the bell.

    “Come on, I know you’re home!” he called, his voice clearly conveying the irritation he felt.

    “The Pokémon want to come in here and eat all the food I’ve got!” someone shouted back from behind the door.

    “Oy, not this again… there’s no Pokémon out here that want your food, at least anymore anyway. And if you’d stop feeding them, they’ll stop coming!”

    There was a hesitation, as if the owner of the voice was considering what Dante had said. The sound of many locks being undone followed, coupled with more muttering from inside the house.

    “You can never be too sure in this day and age, Dante. Blasted Team Rocket taking all our money from the banks and all… this world ain’t what it used to be.”

    The door was opened slowly from the inside, and the house’s owner shuffled out. Mr. Pokémon was a man about Dante’s age, however, he appeared much older due to his rumpled clothing and unkempt white hair and beard.

    “You brought the thing?” he requested, shielding his tired-looking eyes from the late afternoon sun with his arm.

    “Right here,” Dante replied, holding up the briefcase with the Meteonite inside.

    “Good, good. Tobias and Gabriella have been riding my *** about this, and you just made it in time. They’re coming tonight.” Peering out further, Mr. Pokémon spied Matt’s group and Nikolai standing around and talking nearby. “Look at that. Look what the feminists caused, that wench over there with her body hanging out everywhere.”

    “I heard thaaaat,” Nekou interrupted, speaking in a loud, sing-song voice. “So **** you, because I don’t care!”

    “And now you see what I’ve been traveling with the last couple days,” Dante chuckled. “They’re good people, though. I’ve enjoyed my company with them.”

    “Mr. Pokémon, I presume?” Having walked up alongside Dante, Matt addressed the strange old man himself.

    “Who are you?” Mr. Pokémon fumbled a pair of glasses out of the breast pocket of his brown suit, put them on, and squinted at Matt. “Is it already happening?”

    “Okaaay…” Matt took a step back before continuing. “It might be. You see, we came from New Bark Town, and Professor Juniper told us that Professor Elm had gone to visit you. Is he here?”

    “Professor Elm was here, yes, but he left with as much haste as he came. Said he was going to the Ruins of Alph, if I’m not mistaken.”

    Matt shrugged in response to this news. Granted, finding Elm wasn’t number one on his list of priorities, but he still would have liked to have located the professor.

    “Matt, please give my farewells to Olivia, Bunny and Nekou,” said the doctor. “I must stay here tonight to present my Meteonite research to Mr. Pokémon’s guests. I have enjoyed traveling with you and your friends.”

    “And it’s been an honor to get to know you, Doctor. Hopefully we’ll meet again.”

    Dante extended his hand, so Matt took up the offer of a handshake with no hesitation. The magnitude his mind assigned to shaking the hand of such an important scientist was not lost on him. After that, Dante sharply turned on his heel and entered the house, then Mr. Pokémon slammed the door shut.

    “Well then…”

    “So what are we doing now?”

    The feeling of Nekou’s hand on his shoulder made Matt turn abruptly. She, along with the others, had come up behind him while he was speaking with Dante.

    “I don’t know. Finished looking at leaves?”

    “I’ll remember that, smartass.” The way Nekou was smiling gave away that she was saying this in a good-natured way, for a change. “What’s going on with Dr. Fantomos?”

    “He’s staying here to present his Meteonite research. He didn’t ask me to stay behind and wait for him, so I assume that we can go ahead to Violet City.”

    “It’s not far from here,” Bunny piped up. She had a map unrolled in her hands and was studying their location on it. “Yeah, we only have a little way longer to go now.”

    “Then let’s hit the road!” Olivia cheered, pumping her fist into the air. “Violet City and Badge number one, here we come!”

    “Always so much energy… I have to admit, Olivia, sometimes you keep me going.”

    With Violet City awaiting them to the northwest, the group – now minus Dante, but with Nikolai in tow – set out. The trees, their leaves cloaked in the earthy autumn colors that so enraptured Nekou, provided a warm framing for their trip down the dirt road that led the way.

    “Stop.”

    They didn’t even get twenty feet away from Mr. Pokémon’s home before more trouble arrived.

    “What? Who said that?”

    Nekou thrust her right arm out in front of Olivia and pulled her switchblade from her blouse with the left. “Someone’s here. They’re watching us…”

    “I am…”

    A sound like a gust of wind tore through the clearing, and one of the members of the Shadow Triad appeared, seemingly materializing from thin air. The color drained from Nekou’s face as she stood ready to fight him, while Matt, Olivia, Bunny and Nikolai all just stared at the strange young man.

    “What’s going on here?” Bunny demanded. “Who are you?”

    “I am… the unbreakable steel of Chaos… I do not have any orders to harm any of you unless you get in my way. Lord N, you are coming with me.”

    “N? What kind of name is that?” Olivia wondered out loud.

    “Tough luck, none of us is named N,” Matt harshly added. “Leave us alone.”

    “I am looking at you right now, Lord N…” Chaos announced, leveling his finger straight at Nikolai. “Cease these foolish games… Lord Ghetsis has grown impatient.”

    “I don’t know who you are!” Nikolai cried out. “I am just a simple trainer. Surely I am not the person you speak of!”

    The striking sincerity of Nikolai’s words gave Chaos pause. In his hesitation, he left Nekou a chance to slip into the exchange.

    “So Ghetsis is still controlling your Shadow Triad?” she quizzed the ninja.

    Apparently having not perceived Nekou’s presence earlier, Chaos smirked beneath the mesh covering his mouth. “Well, well, well, seeing you is certainly a surprise, Black Cat. It must have slipped your mind that we, the Shadow Triad, live only to serve Lord Ghetsis and his whims.”

    “Black Cat? What is this guy talking about?

    Nekou went even paler at Matt’s line of questioning, but otherwise held her cool. “He’s trying to psych you and I out. Don’t listen to him.”

    “You’re lucky I do not have the time to deal with you. Lord N… if you cannot remember your place in this world, I will force you to remember! Liepard! Bisharp! Banette!”

    Chaos reached to his waist and threw three Poké Balls in a single motion that was so swift it nearly could not be seen. His three Pokémon appeared before him, one of which – a lithe-bodied, feline creature covered in purple-and-yellow fur – Matt noted he hadn’t seen before.

    “Go forth! Bisharp, Assurance! Liepard, Aerial Ace! Banette, Will-O-Wisp!”

    With Nikolai fixated in their eyes, all three of Chaos’s Pokémon lunged forward; blue light surrounded Liepard’s front claws, while Banette crossed his arms and threw flares of blue fire and a black glow surrounded both of Bisharp’s hands.

    “No you don’t! Tanya, make your mark!”

    “Right alongside you! Kayla, come out!”

    Blocking the path of the three Pokémon with their bodies, Matt and Bunny sent out their Heatran and Mienshao respectively to provide some additional cover. Tanya’s large, bulky body was, in fact, enough to deflect the attempted attacks of the trio by itself.

    “You’re going to protect him? Your loss… not even a Pokémon like Heatran will make me stand down… Liepard, Snarl!”

    A single fallen leaf crunched under Liepard’s careful steps forward. He opened his mouth as widely as possible and let out a horrific screech, filling the air with shrill noise. Matt, Olivia and Bunny all had to hold their ears to protect themselves from the terrible sound. Tanya and Kayla cringed as well, but strangely, it appeared to have no effect on Nekou and Nikolai, as they simply stood still.

    “Do... do you think… that’ll actually work?!” It was a struggle for Matt to speak under the influence of Liepard’s well-practiced Snarl, but he managed to force himself through it. “T-Tanya… Flash Cannon!”

    One downside of Chaos’s honed attack was that Liepard was left vulnerable to a counterattack, which came when Tanya fired a large shot of silvery light from her mouth at him. As soon as it hit Liepard, the blast exploded, cutting off Snarl from continuing. Bisharp immediately picked up his teammate’s slack, jumping in and swinging his arms to dispel the smoke. Liepard arched his back from behind Bisharp, his coat discolored from Flash Cannon’s heat.

    “I am one of Lord Ghetsis’s chosen hands!” Chaos appeared to be losing his composure, slipping into behavior more suitable of his name as he clenched his fists. “I will not fail him!!”

    “It’ll be hard to please him when you’re in pieces.”

    Out of nowhere, Nekou was right next to Chaos, swinging her knife down with his shoulder as her target. He was forced to defend himself by swiftly pulling a dagger from his belt to block the strike.

    “You’re out of luck, Black Cat!” Chaos growled. “Bisharp! Lead Banette and Liepard while I take care of this one!”

    A sharp grunt and a smile indicated that Bisharp gladly accepted the responsibility Chaos delegated to him. Banette and Liepard rallied to his side, and much like a trainer, he pointed his right arm forward at their enemies and spoke in his own language to give orders, which Banette and Liepard seemingly understood.

    While Banette hung back, Liepard lunged forward once more, again attempting to land an Aerial Ace. Banette backed up his ally by waving his arms back and forth to generate a gust of chilled air. However, also in much the same way as the first exchange of attacks, Tanya used her body and her natural Fire-and-Steel typing to block and absorb the Aerial Ace and Icy Wind.

    “I think it’s time we fought back. Kayla, use Drain Punch on Liepard!”

    Moving with great speed, Kayla immediately closed the gap between herself and Chaos’s Liepard. Before the Dark-type Pokémon could react, she threw back the long, purple-tipped fur on her arm and punched Liepard squarely in the face using the fist underneath. The welt left behind quickly transformed into light, which was absorbed into Kayla’s body.

    Crying out his name in an ear-splitting hiss, Bisharp leapt over the stunned Liepard, his hands glowing black in preparation for Assurance again. His target was Nikolai, but Olivia was standing close enough to also be threatened. Seeing Bisharp coming down toward her caused Olivia to cringe in fear; she’d already had one near-death experience with a Bisharp and had no desire to go through another.

    “Magma Storm!”

    The tornado of fire that swirled from Tanya’s mouth failed to directly connect, but it flew closely enough to blow Bisharp back with its sheer force. Once she was out of danger, Olivia ran to Bunny, but Nikolai simply remained still.

    “This is not right…” he thought. Tears were welling up in his eyes, hidden from the others due to the shadow of his hat. “ Pokémon and humans fighting each other like this…”

    As the Pokémon exchanged blows, Nekou and Chaos were doing the same. Sparks flew every time the metal of Nekou’s switchblade and Chaos’s dagger clashed, but neither of them could make much headway against the other, as the rapid pace of Nekou’s attack forced Chaos to defend himself instead of fighting back.

    “Let’s see how you like this!” Chaos abruptly roared.

    Deciding to take a risk, the Shadow Triad member dropped his defensive techniques and attempted to directly hit Nekou. The mesh covering over his mouth ended up getting cut off, but in exchange for that battle damage, he managed to slash a long gash into Nekou’s left shoulder.

    Stumbling back and looking down at the red ooze slowly trickling out of her skin, Nekou spat, “****, you got me! Well, actually, you only got my clothes… I guess Ghetsis didn’t prepare you for facing me?” Nekou lightly ran her hand over the bloody wound, then raised that same hand to her mouth and licked the liquid off. Immediately, her mind began to race. “Mmm… yeah, they didn’t tell you, so I will. You might have cut me, but the thing is… a wounded animal is the most vicious!”

    When she jerked her head back up, Nekou’s eyes were filled with a bright yellow glow. She screamed loudly enough to cause her voice to crack and lunged at Chaos, assaulting him in such a bloodthirsty frenzy that he couldn’t keep up. Her switchblade first claimed his gloves, which fell to the ground in pieces, then began nicking small cuts into his exposed hands and arms.

    “You’re mine now, you little ****! All I have to do is beat you before that happens now!”

    Chaos knew he was in trouble against Nekou if she was going to press him so relentlessly. Becoming consumed by desperation, he began to reach for a small pouch attached to his belt.

    Before any of this chaotic scene could be sorted out, however, a new element entered the fray to decide the outcome. A Haxorus came crashing through the battle with her Dual Chop move, using the first swing of her tusks to fell Banette and Liepard and the second to separate Nekou and Chaos.

    “That Pokémon,” Olivia gasped, genuinely surprised. “It’s…”

    “You should not be using Pokémon to cause harm to those who have not harmed you,” Dante lectured Chaos as he stepped back into the clearing. “I come out here to see what all the racket is, and what do I find? Nothing more than some white-haired ninja scoundrel making trouble for some innocents. It’s rightly disappointing.”

    “Stay out of this, old man!” Chaos sneered.

    “Matt, Nekou, Olivia, Bunny, take Nikolai and go to Violet City as you intended. I’m sporting enough to stay behind and deal with this common thug of a villain.”

    “You heard the man!” Wasting no time in agreeing with Dante’s proposal, Matt rallied his friends to evacuate Route 30 right away by recalling his Pokémon, a move mimicked by Bunny. “Let’s move!”

    “Oh no you don’t! Not with Lord N!”

    Of course, Chaos was completely unwilling to let his prey escape capture. Capable of going to any length to accomplish Ghetsis’s orders, he reached into the pouch on his belt, swiftly withdrawing and flinging a dart. The dart hit Nikolai in the center of his chest, and almost immediately, he started going into convulsions.

    “Nikolai?” Bunny whispered, suddenly feeling terrified unlike anything else she’d felt that day.

    “Listen to me, you’re going to be okay!” Matt rushed over to support Nikolai just as the green-haired young man vomited into the grass. Though he was not an expert in the field of their study, Matt knew enough about toxins to realize quite swiftly that Chaos’s dart was surely poisoned.

    “Now will you be a good prince and return on your king’s decree?” demanded the shady ninja bodyguard. “That genetic suppressant ought to be working wonders on your freak body right now.”

    His suspicions of a poison dart confirmed, Matt made a motion as if he was preparing to battle Chaos directly, but all the ninja’s threat earned him was a swift, high kick in the throat from a very angry Nekou.

    “If you’re gonna fight dirty, do it against me, ****er!” she screamed at Chaos as he fell backward.

    “Nekou, not now!” Matt shouted over to her. He and Bunny were supporting Nikolai, who could no longer stand on his own and was suffering more violent convulsions. “Look at this… whatever he had that dart spiked with really messed Nikolai up!”

    “Hurry, get him out of here! Go to Violet City’s Pokémon Center. He should be able to get treatment there!”

    “You heard the man, Nekou!” Bunny called out, intending to follow Dante’s orders. “Let’s go!”

    It took every ounce of Nekou’s remaining restraint, but she managed to tear herself away from her fight with Chaos, even though she hadn’t yet worked through the rush she still felt. Blinking repeatedly, she forced down her aggression, and the yellow glow disappeared from her eyes. Matt and Bunny assisted Nikolai in escaping into the woods to the west, and Nekou escorted Olivia in following them.

    Stumbling to his feet, Chaos yelled after the five, “Stop! You are going nowhere!”

    “No, you are the one who won’t be going anywhere,” Dante offered as a correction while his Haxorus stood in Chaos’s way. “I will dispose of you myself.”

    “Hmph, like there’s anything an old man like you can do! Bisharp, Liepard, Banette, attack!”

    Summoning what strength they had left, Chaos’s three Pokémon all lunged at Haxorus. Both she and Dante remained calm, however. Neither of them saw the opposing trio of Pokémon or their trainer as a threat in the least.

    “Haxorus,” Dante coolly directed, even closing his eyes as he spoke, “Dual Chop.”

    Just like when they’d arrived earlier, Haxorus swiftly charged forward and cut Liepard down using her right tusk, then slashed Banette with the left. Both Pokémon crumpled to the ground as a result of everything they’d taken.

    “Bisharp, Iron Head!!”

    “It is over. Haxorus, use Counter!”

    An orange light outlined Haxorus’s body, and when Bisharp’s metallic headbutt struck her, she immediately punched him squarely in the face. Because Haxorus’s attack was twice as strong as the move she had been hit with, Bisharp was defeated just as his allies were.

    “Is that it?” Dante taunted the dumbfounded Shadow Triad member. “You were not even a slight challenge for me. Be on your way if you don’t want this to get any worse for yourself.”

    “Ugh… I swear on my honor, I will avenge this loss in the name of Lord Ghetsis! Harmonia shall rise!”

    Chaos quickly recalled his three fallen Pokémon, then disappeared using one of his ninja techniques, leaving Dante alone in the clearing with Haxorus.

    Turning to her trainer, the golden-bodied dragon questioningly growled, “Haro?”

    “He will present no more disobedience, so it is not worth pursuing him further. You did well, so rest awhile.”

    -:-

    A few hours later, after the sun had set over Johto, a helicopter rested outside of Mr. Pokémon’s home. It was colored black with gold trim around the doors, and barely fit in the clearing.

    The inside of Mr. Pokémon’s house was as much of a disorganized mess as he was himself. Towering computer hard drives and bookshelves lined the walls, while his tables were covered by sloppy stacks of papers, magazines and foreign coins. On the far side of the darkened room was a red couch, on which his guests were sitting. One was a man in a gray uniform and a short red cape, who was sitting with his arms crossed; the other was a bright-eyed woman dressed in a smart black business suit and tie. Both of them had long, flowing hair that covered the left side of their faces; the man’s was shoulder-length and blue, while the woman’s golden hair stretched all the way down to her thighs.

    “Governor Tobias, President Gabriella, is there anything I can get either of you fine folks?” Mr. Pokémon was standing hunchbacked next to the couch and held his hands together as he tried to be polite to his guests.

    “Have you got any coffee? I’d really like some, especially if you could throw a lot of sugar in!”

    “I’ll just take a bottle of Fresh Water, if you would.”

    The difference between the two couldn’t have been more pronounced. Gabriella was outgoing and very upbeat, while Tobias conducted himself in a serious and straightforward manner.

    Mr. Pokémon disappeared into the kitchen of his cluttered bungalow to fetch the refreshments that had been ordered. Standing across the room, next to a table on which he’d placed his briefcase, Dante stepped forth to begin his presentation.

    “Thank you for coming out, Tobias, Gabriella.” Before speaking further, he leaned his weight on his cane and bowed slightly, then opened his briefcase to reveal the Meteonite piece. “I merely have a small amount of research to present to you regarding the Meteonite, as I described.”

    “I’m all ears,” Tobias said.

    “You see, the Meteonite…” Dante was briefly interrupted when Mr. Pokémon returned to hand Tobias his water and Gabriella her coffee, but he quickly picked up again. “The Meteonite is composed of an element that does not exist on Earth. This alone warrants further study, for it is clearly not anything that is currently included on the periodic table. This element, therefore, should also be called Meteonite, unless a new name is decided upon later.”

    “That’s fascinating, Dr. Fantomos, but tell me… does it actually do anything?”

    “Yeah, you know, Tobias is right. A glittery rock is nice and all, but if you can’t do anything with it, it’s only good for looking at. And that’s really kind of boring, right?”

    “I’m getting to that. One property this element appears to have is responsiveness to itself. As in, if you use a quantity of it to search, it will react when a second quantity is nearby. It appears to interfere with electronics when it is activated, as if it is generating an electromagnetic pulse.”

    “Could it possibly have a medicinal use?”

    Dante coughed before answering Gabriella’s question; the air in Mr. Pokémon’s house was rather dusty. “I suppose it is possible that the electrical pulses released by Meteonite can have a stimulating effect on living tissue.”

    “Excellent! I wish to acquire some of this magic rock of yours right away, then, Dante. I’ll send it right off to my R&D department at the Angel Corporation, and we might discover some new medical treatments!”

    “Surely this element is useful for more than just regenerative medicine?” Tobias remarked.

    “I was getting to that. During my experiments with the Meteonite in my possession, I discovered a potential use for it that was unlike anything else.”

    “Which is?”

    “While I was experimenting with applying electrical pulses of differing frequencies to the Meteonite, it reacted and created energy pulses. Nearby, a pack of Pawniard and a Bisharp went wild after being exposed to that energy. I believe that this element may be capable of influencing Pokémon behavior when certain electrical pulses are applied to it. I tested several different frequencies, and it would appear that the Pawniard and Bisharp only responded to that frequency, so I theorize that different frequencies affect different families of Pokémon.”

    “To think a simple rock from space could be so amazing…” said an awed Gabriella.

    “It all makes sense. I will have to direct the Tohjo Continent officials to draw up emergency plans for if more Meteonite lands on Earth after the Ruins of Alph strike.” Rising to his feet, Tobias extended his hand to Dante. “Dr. Fantomos, I know Gabriella will have the Angel Corporation’s R&D do what they can, but your mind is very important for us to have on this study. You may be the only man who can truly understand how Meteonite affects living things.”

    “I’ll be honored to continue working with you, Governor,” Dante responded, accepting Tobias’s handshake. “Anything I’m able to do to help the people of this country, don’t hesitate to let me know.”

    “Dante, you know, I have to thank you for all the help you’re giving us, for real. Since those things started falling from the sky, weird stuff has been happening. I appreciate that someone with a big brain like you is giving us a hand figuring it all out.”

    “You’re very welcome, Gabriella.” Dante shook Gabriella’s hand after releasing Tobias’s. “I’ll arrange the transfer of the Meteonite to your building in Viridian City right away. Be safe on your way back.”

    -:-

    Tobias and Gabriella left Mr. Pokémon’s house and Route 30 at the conclusion of the meeting, departing together in the helicopter that they arrived in. Dante, on the other hand, stayed at his friend’s home; the two spent quite some time discussing the most recent magazines from foreign nations to be added to Mr. Pokémon’s collection over some beer. Eventually, Dante decided to turn in for the night, but Mr. Pokémon remained up, working on his computers.

    Outside in the bushes, beneath the moon and stars filling the clear night sky, James and Meowth were working with the R-Pad while Jessie and Wobbuffet observed Mr. Pokémon’s house using binoculars.

    “Look at this data, it’s incredible!” James exclaimed, though he quickly tried to check the volume of his voice. “Maybe this is how we should have gone about it this way last time, stealing the data after letting Team Plasma take the Meteonite.”

    “Oh, come on.” Meowth looked up from the charts of data steadily streaming in from Mr. Pokémon’s hacked servers and hissed, “You know that’s not helping!”

    “Sorry, sorry.” As the download of the Meteonite data completed, James deactivated the computer and picked it up. Turning his head, he quietly called to his teammate, “Jessie, see anything?”

    “It’s a house at night, James. Of course I haven’t seen anything.” Jessie sighed and slumped over. The job of keeping watch over the building for signs of any danger was an incredibly boring one to her; in fact, she found a lot of their current mission dull. Ever since she, James and Meowth had been dragged out of retirement by Pierce on behalf of Team Rocket, she had been hoping that it would at least be for an entertaining reason. Simply sitting around watching houses didn’t sate her appetite for action.

    “Wobbuffet! Wobba!!”

    Wobbuffet frantically tugging on her arm meant that just perhaps, action had found them in the end.

    “What do you want?” she sharply demanded of her Pokémon.

    “Wobba!”

    Following Wobbuffet’s wild gestures, Jessie looked back through her binoculars at the house. What she saw made her gasp.

    “James, Meowth, be quiet and get over here. Something’s happening.”

    The door of the building had opened, and Mr. Pokémon had stepped out. In his hand was the briefcase containing the Meteonite, the same one that Dante had delivered to him.

    “Where are they?” the disheveled old man wondered aloud. “They’re late.”

    “Sorry to keep you waiting. We are here.”

    From the westbound road, a woman wearing a plush coat of brown fur emerged, followed by four men in khaki uniforms. The woman’s most distinguishing feature, however, was the mask covering her face, which was designed to incorporate the beak and red-white-and-blue feathers of Braviary.

    “So you finally showed up, Mercury?!” Mr. Pokémon growled. “It took you long enough. Getting this thing was hard enough!”

    “Oh, cool it, we’re not that late. Séduire and I were making some preparations for the next stage. I trust that knowledge of the Meteonite’s purpose has been contained?”

    “There’s nothing to worry about,” he assured Mercury with a smirk, which quickly vanished. “Your son and that girl he was taking care of were sniffing around here, though. I don’t have any reason to think they know anything beyond the word Meteonite.”

    Mercury slouched; this wasn’t news she was hoping to hear. “I really would have liked that to not be the case, but it’s not your fault.”

    Over in the bushes, Jessie, James, Meowth and Wobbuffet were watching this scene with awe.

    “Would you look at that,” Meowth uttered in sheer amazement, “Mr. Pokémon is in with Polaris!”

    “This is big… we have to tell someone. It’s worse than we thought.”

    Nodding in agreement with James’s comment, Jessie added, “Dr. Zager and the boss need to know that nobody can be trusted.”

    “Nobody needs to know anything!”

    Out of nowhere, Chaos warped into the area the trio were using for their hideout. The sudden appearance of the Shadow Triad member startled them so badly that they stumbled out into the open, blowing their cover. Mercury seemed unsurprised by their presence, but her followers and Mr. Pokémon all jumped, shocked by the sudden interruption.

    “Intruders!” Mr. Pokémon shouted before seeing the ‘R’ logo on the uniforms they wore under their trenchcoats. “Team Rocket! They’re here! It’s happening!!”

    “What is it you want, Team Rocket?” Mercury questioned them in a severe tone, having secured the Meteonite’s briefcase for herself.

    “They were spying on your meeting,” Chaos explained as he walked from the bushes. “They know about the Meteonite.”

    “Well that is not any surprise, not after how relentlessly Team Rocket pursued the Meteonite in Unova.”

    “Shall we dispose of them?” one of the men in Mercury’s team asked her.

    “No,” she replied, looking down on the Team Rocket trio, who were in complete disarray. “Let me do it. Electivire, go!”

    The Electric-type Pokémon, whose bulky, muscular body was covered in yellow fur and black stripes, materialized alongside his masked trainer. They both took a single step forward, meaning to intimidate the Team Rocket trio.

    To a degree, it worked. Surrounded by Mercury, her men and her growling Electivire on one side and Chaos on the other, they constricted closer and closer to each other, searching for a way out.

    “Jessie, James, you know, now would be a really good time for one of you to come up with a plan!!”

    “We’re sitting ducks here,” James concurred with Meowth. “What should we do?”

    “There’s no way out of this one,” Jessie quickly concluded, taking another Poké Ball from the pocket of her coat, “so the only right thing to do is go down fighting!”

    “That’s my kind of talk.”

    Jessie and James each opened a single Poké Ball simultaneously. Jessie’s ball released a plump bat Pokémon with a heart-shaped nose and a midsection covered in white fur, while James’s gave rise to a golden coffin cloaked in a shadow that formed four long arms and hands. These two Pokémon, immediately becoming aware of the threat they faced, moved to shield their trainers with their bodies.

    “How quaint!” Mercury blew her opposition off. “Two agents of a dying crime group trying to stand up against me.”

    “You be quiet!” James shot back, his emotions finally boiling over. “We don’t know what Polaris is planning, but I’ll tell you that Team Rocket will prevent you from doing it so we can rule the world!”

    “If that’s what you believe in, defeat me.” Shedding her lighthearted cockiness, Mercury steeled her stance and became serious.

    “So what are you two mooks waiting for?!” Meowth loudly griped at his teammates.

    “Nothing! Swoobat, use Heart Stamp!”

    “Cofagrigus, combine your Will-O-Wisp with that!”

    Cofagrigus’s red eyes, which were peering out from an opening in the upper part of his coffin, flashed brightly. He then made a flicking motion with each of his four hands, forming a ring of blue fireballs. When Swoobat started to glide toward Electivire, these fireballs surrounded her, complementing her glowing, heart-shaped nose.

    “I’ll give you credit for having the courage to attack head-on. Foolhardy, but courageous. Electivire, take all that out with Electroweb!”

    Electivire thrust his right arm forward, directly at the oncoming attacks aimed his way. From each of his fingers, strings of electrically charged webbing lashed out, washing over and knocking down Swoobat while dispelling the Will-O-Wisp flames.

    Once Swoobat was down, Electivire released a second, more intense shock through the web, causing the bat Pokémon to cry out in pain.

    “Swoobat!” exclaimed a dismayed Jessie. “Don’t worry, we’ll get you out of there. Right, James?”

    “I’ll try! Cofagrigus, use Will-O-Wisp to burn the webbing!”

    “Electroweb!”

    Cofagrigus started to form more wisps of fire around himself, but Mercury’s Electivire cut him off. The Electric-type Pokémon now thrust up his left hand and released an even larger amount of web, now creating a massive net that held down both Cofagrigus and Swoobat.

    “Now it’s time for this to end. Electivire, shock them.”

    With both hands now controlling the wide net he’d cast, Electivire sent a massive surge of electricity flowing through it. The web ultimately burned away, but not before acting as the conductor for enough energy to leave Swoobat and Cofagrigus as twitching wrecks on the ground.

    “Finish them off! Wild Charge!” Mercury wasn’t paying attention to the Team Rocket members, but if she was, she would have seen that they smirked slightly when she gave this command.

    A shroud of yellow electricity completely enveloped Electivire’s body, and by using his powerful legs to propel himself, he lunged for Swoobat and Cofagrigus.

    “Now!” Jessie screamed. “Wobbuffet, Destiny Bond!”

    To protect his trainer, her friends and her Pokémon, Wobbuffet jumped in between them and the charging Electivire. Just before Wild Charge struck him, his entire body flashed with purple light.

    Left with a wide swath of his skin seared by Electivire’s power, Wobbuffet crumpled to the ground. Electivire backed up to survey his work, only to be suddenly overcome by the purple light. Despite his best efforts to tear out of its influence, Electivire was unable to escape, and ultimately ended up falling as well.

    “Well played!” Mercury said while sending Electivire back to his Great Ball, genuinely impressed at Team Rocket’s tactics.

    “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

    Meowth charged forward, setting his sights on the briefcase containing the Meteonite shard, which Mercury had set down on the ground when the battle had begun. As soon as they realized what was happening, Mercury’s men all drew Poké Balls of their own, but it was once again Mercury herself who threw her Net Ball. Just as Meowth secured the case, a Pelipper appeared and impeded him.

    “Outta my way, you lug!”

    “Not with our Meteonite, Meowth. Pelipper, use Soak!”

    Before Meowth could escape, Pelipper opened her large bill and sprayed a shower of water over Meowth. He wasn’t hurt by the attack, but he hated being covered in water and tried as hard as he could to shake it off.

    “What do you think you’re doing?!”

    “Taking back what rightfully belongs to Polaris. Seed Bomb!”

    Pelipper opened her bill again, but what came out this time was a barrage of round seeds. Meowth tried to run, but no matter which direction he took the case, he couldn’t escape. He found himself trapped within a field of small explosions that wracked his body like that of a rag doll.

    However, something else happened in addition – the explosions threw the briefcase into the air, and while it reached the peak of its flight, it slipped open and the Meteonite shard fell out.

    “That’s the Meteonite!” Jessie exclaimed, having recalled all her Pokémon along with James.

    “Meowth, get it!”

    “I’ve got this!” Meowth lunged for the rock with his arms outstretched, and surprisingly enough, he safely got under the falling Meteonite with little effort.

    The Meteonite landed squarely in Meowth’s grasp, prompting him to smile in relief once he realized he had it. That happiness would not last long – sparks suddenly started flying from the glowing Meteonite, followed by a radiant energy blast that blinded everyone in the clearing, including Mercury and her followers.

    At the center of it all, Meowth felt like his mind was being torn apart. Horrifying images of death and despair flashed rapidly through his imagination, and he could feel his soul warping with every vision.

    When the light faded and both opposing factions recovered their sight, they found Meowth standing at the epicenter of the event, eyes closed and holding the Meteonite in his arms.

    “The Meteonite became unstable again…” James immediately observed.

    “Wait, what’s wrong with Meowth?” wondered Jessie.

    On the other side of the clearing, Mercury knew exactly what was going on. “Meowth, come over here. Be a good boy and give us the Meteonite piece back.”

    “Yes, as you wish…” the feline Pokémon mumbled. He turned and shuffled to Mercury to hand over the Meteonite, and it was not until then that he finally opened his eyes.

    Meowth’s eyes were filled with red.

    “What have you done to him?” James angrily demanded, stomping his foot into the ground hard enough to leave a relatively deep footprint.

    “Isn’t it obvious? The Meteonite can control the minds of Pokémon! You know that! Your Meowth just exposed himself directly to its power as it became unstable, so it has changed him. He is now one of us!”

    “That’s a lie! Meowth, you’d never betray me, right?”

    The silence that Jessie was met with told her everything she needed to know. Something really had happened to force Meowth to switch sides.

    “Well, I would call this a successful meeting. We’ve got the Meteonite and Team Rocket’s Meowth is now a Polaris member. I’d say it’s time for us to call it a day. Pelipper, Gunk Sh…”

    Mercury’s final command was cut off by the sound of a speeding car. A short, black limousine came tearing into the clearing, spinning to a stop near Jessie and James, and the flash of a Poké Ball from inside released an Arbok.

    “Arbok, Thunder Fang!” Ariana commanded from inside the car. Arbok immediately went off lunging at Pelipper, so Ariana then called to Jessie and James, “Hurry unless you want to get captured or killed!”

    “But they got Meowth!” James yelled back.

    Ariana let out an exasperated, exaggerated sigh. “Then I’ll have to just pick you up on my own. Arbok, Poison Tail!”

    Pelipper was already stunned by the time Arbok brought his tail down on her. Smashed into the ground and unconscious, Pelipper would no longer be a problem for Team Rocket’s goals.

    However, before they could do anything, Jessie and James had their path to Mercury and Meowth blocked by a Gastrodon, a Porygon2, a Sandslash and a Weavile. The four Pokémon under the ownership of Mercury’s henchmen glared menacingly at the now helpless Team Rocket members.

    “Jessie, what do we do? We’ve got to get to him!”

    “I-I don’t know!” Admitting helplessness was something Jessie hated doing, but the situation gave her no other choice. “Meowth, snap out of it!”

    “If that’s the best you can do,” Mercury taunted them, “give up now. You’re in over your heads.”

    Jessie and James both opened their mouths to respond, but before they could, Ariana’s Arbok slithered and coiled around them, then dragged them into Ariana’s car.

    “Hurry, stop them!” Mercury ordered her subordinates.

    Before the four Pokémon still under her squad’s command could launch any kind of attack, a weapon installed in Ariana’s car discharged a thick smokescreen. With their sight impaired, the Pokémon were powerless to prevent Team Rocket’s escape.

    Inside the plush interior of the car, however, there was no feeling of victory. Both Jessie and James, while still trying to maintain some air of respect for their superior, felt completely outraged at what they’d been forced to do.

    “How can you make us leave Meowth behind? They brainwashed him!”

    “You and Dr. Zager didn’t tell us everything we needed to know!” James added. “Team Plasma? Mr. Pokémon being a Polaris member? We weren’t prepared to deal with this!”

    Ariana kept her gaze fixed straight ahead and continued driving as she responded to them. “There are things even we didn’t know. We thought Ghetsis was the only Team Plasma member involved in this, and we had no intelligence to indicate that Mr. Pokémon was one of them. I’m sorry about Meowth, but there’s nothing we could have done back there. I’m taking you two back to Dr. Zager and we’ll talk to the boss.”

    “Well, make it quick, because James and I are going to get him back.”

    “We’ll make them sorry they messed with us. It’s personal now.”







    END of CHAPTER 6

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  12. #62

    Default

    This was an exciting chapter. It was shorter than some of your others, but you really worked a lot of great stuff into it.

    Matt and Nekou had spent a small amount of time talking over the beer she shared with him the previous night. Somehow, it was actually a worthwhile discussion – they spoke of Olivia’s well-being for a while, then started talking about books they liked. The alcohol took its toll on Matt, though, and he soon felt tired. It was not long after that that he simply fell asleep.
    This is really really cute. I love the idea of two friends just chilling with beer and talking about stuff.

    The answer didn’t come immediately to him. He glanced over the four of them; the flamboyant young woman, his conservatively-dressed friend and her outlandish counterpart, and the elderly scientist wearing a brown coat and holding a briefcase in his hand. All of them merely stood before Matt and stared back as he tried to figure out what was wrong.
    This really gives an idea of how much of a group of misfits they are.

    On the upside, though, he slept well and felt completely reinvigorated the next day. As he had finished eating well before the others had even all gotten up, he separated from them and left the Pokémon Center to await them at the gateway to Route 30. The bright morning sun cast golden light over the flowing grass stretching out beyond the borders of Cherrygrove City; it also warmed the earthy red leaves of the autumn trees surrounding the route.
    Excellent, gorgeous imagery.

    At that same time, somewhere far away, Finansielle was meeting with Jeunes and Getriebe. The video screen displaying her armor-covered shoulders, head and face was so outsized that it allowed her to lord over the sterile, metallic laboratory where the two male Polaris members were.
    Polaris sure isn't subtle, are they?

    “But everything else is going exactly according to plan,” Jeunes made sure to hastily add, all while pushing up his Mewtwo mask to push up the glasses held underneath. “The gathering of battle data has gone smoothly. We’re tracking the Meteonite right now, and we have several teams ready to go to secure it, which I intend to personally lead. Getting back to the Pokérus for a moment, though, we have managed to find the way to trigger a transformation in its genetic makeup. We just don’t know how to get it to mutate into what we want yet.”
    uh-oh.


    Further up the lightly wooded road of Route 30, Renzo and his Drowzee were engaged in a battle against a wild Pokémon while three younger children watched from the sidelines. The Pokémon – a fluffy, round, white ball of cotton – used a pair of green leaf-like appendages to flutter out of Drowzee’s grasp, making it hard for the Psychic-type to land a hit.
    General Renzo thoughts: I really love how you've characterized him, especially his speech patterns, and his admirers are really cute too. He's a jerk but he's sort of adorable in his own way.

    “Bring it on!” Olivia immediately shot back, without even taking a moment to think. “I beat you once and I’ll do it again!”
    aww, Olivia. I love how badass she is, and confident.

    “Don’t you think that’s a little cruel?” By the scowl on her face, Bunny was clearly bothered by Renzo’s names for Olivia. “The way you talk, you make it sound like Olivia killed your mother or something.”
    Love Bunny sticking up for Olivia.

    The battle between Renzo and Olivia flows excellently, I think. The way you show how brutal a battler Gurdurr is and how loyal Olivia's Pokemon are really makes a good contrast between the two rivals- Renzo is merciless, but Olivia's Pokemon are more than willing to fight through for her even if it's futile. Watching Olivia slowly lose confidence was heartbreaking, though.

    “**** this!” Nekou screeched, still trying to get through to Olivia. “Olivia, there’s no shame in throwing in the towel! This isn’t worth it anymore!”
    I think this is a really important scene for Nekou because it shows even though she's supportive and a sis of sorts to Olivia, she also knows when to tell Olivia hard things and protect her.

    “You would know if it was me, kid. And ‘*****?’ You wish that was the worst name I’ve been called.”
    Never change, Nekou.

    To the surprise of all the people gathered on the road, a tall, lithe young man jumped from the bushes to stand in the middle of the battle. His windbreaker jacket – designed with a checkerboard pattern over half-black, half-white coloring – fit loosely on his thin frame, while his long green hair flowed into a ponytail against his back from beneath his similarly-colored baseball cap.
    I WONDER WHO THIS COULD BE.

    I love the little detail on his jacket, nice shoutout there.

    “So ungrateful, but I forgive you…” The strange young trainer continued gesturing strangely as he spoke, moving his hands and arms in wide, sweeping gestures. “My name is Nikolai, and I am a trainer… well, that’s not quite right. I am searching… for trainers and Pokémon who get along as equals. Where will you go from our meeting?”
    I adore how you've characterized him so far. It matches his character perfectly, and it really makes him stand out. His speech style is also something I think you got right, I really adore it.

    “Because I used to know someone who had that power.” Reaching into his coat, Matt took out a pocke****ch, which he opened. Inside was a second cover, and on that second cover was a painting. It depicted a young woman, wearing white priestess clothing and her brown hair styled into three buns, whose face was distinguished by thick eyebrows above a pair of fierce, powerful blue eyes. Matt spent a moment looking at the painting, allowing himself the memories and regrets it brought to mind, before he spoke again. “Sheena was her name. She had the power of Transcendence like you, except she could only link with the hearts of people and Pokémon, not heal them like you do.”
    aww, Sheena. The pocke****ch detail is really sweet. I love how Nikolai also has that ability, it makes perfect sense with the talking to Pokemon thing.

    Out on the road, Nikolai seemed to have a childlike sense of wonder as he examined Matt’s six Pokémon, the light of his power emanating from his outstretched hands all the while. He had quickly gravitated towards Matt’s Heatran, as he was aware of the kind of stories told about the stout-bodied Fire-and-Steel-type. Next, he moved on to Matt’s Sigilyph and Golurk, and the brightly-colored, three-eyed bird and towering golem both appeared more than happy to interact with him. The same could also be said about his Salamence and Beartic, but his final Pokémon – an eel whose blue body had three yellow dots on each side – visibly vexed him.
    This is also really cute. You really got his childlike nature perfect, but in a way that's not insulting or degrading to him. It's more on the "innocent and curious" side than the "stupid" side.

    “That scary guy on the television keeps telling us that trainers who have starter Pokémon and Pokédexes are the reason why trainers like my friends and I never get anywhere…”

    “Do you mean Ghetsis?” Nekou interrupted. When the boy nodded, she asked him, “What do you mean when you say that you and your friends never get anywhere?”

    “None of us have starter Pokémon. I just have my Taillow, while Julia has her Sandshrew and Ronald has his Marill. The three of us have been trying to make it to Violet City for weeks, but stronger trainers keep coming and beating us, and we don’t have enough money for medicine or the Pokémon Center…”

    Having listened intently to the boy’s story, Nekou decided to give them help. She immediately looked up and called, “Matt!”

    “What?” He had been watching Nikolai with his Pokémon, and as a result he was not paying attention to Olivia or the children.

    “Call HR-E here. These kids are in desperate need of some supplies.”

    “Hm?” Nekou’s request was so sudden that it took Matt several seconds to fully process exactly what it was she wanted. Once he fully grasped it, though, he reached up to his mask and pressed a tiny button located just under the eyepiece. “It’ll be here in a little while. What’d I miss?”

    “Ghetsis has been giving speeches claiming that trainers with starter Pokémon and Pokédexes keep trainers without those things from succeeding. I think this might be a little more serious than just the typical dime a dozen television snake oil salesman.”

    “Isn’t Pokémon training supposed to be about making it your own way, no matter which way you choose?” Olivia wondered out loud. “The idea of one group of trainers making it harder for another group of trainers to succeed doesn’t make sense to me.”
    This scene really hits on something a lot of stories don't cover, mainly the differences in class that must be lurking under the surface in the Pokemon universe, the implications of prize money in battles, and the power of the media.

    Meowth reached under James’s arm and pressed his paw against the R-Pad’s screen, triggering a pre-recorded video of Dr. Zager sitting in front of a camera.

    “Welcome. If you’re watching this video, something has gone wrong with the mission to capture the Meteonite from Route 29, and therefore you require the pre-prepared contingency plan. On Route 30 is the home of a man known as Mr. Pokémon, who collects and researches rare treasures. It is highly likely that he possesses information on the Meteonite. You are to remotely hack into his servers and download any data you can find, then forward it on to me.”
    I love the idea of pre-recorded backup plan videos.

    The house, a modest, two-story building made of wood, was being attacked by a Pokémon. They had to look carefully to see it, but there was a blue rock Pokémon shooting energy blasts from its yellow core at the structure.

    “What is that Pokémon?”

    Even before Matt finished asking his question, Olivia had her Pokédex out and was already in the process of scanning the Pokémon.

    “Roggenrola, the Mantle Pokémon. The hexagonal-shaped hole is its ear. It has a tendency to walk in the direction the sound is coming from.”
    Roggenrola are really, really weird. The image is hilariously awkward.

    “Ro-genn!” she cried, rushing forward on her tiny brown feet. She threw herself at Charlotte, but the Eelektrik weaved away, allowing the failed Headbutt attack to sail harmlessly past. Roggenrola ended up sliding into the dirt just beyond where Charlotte stood.
    DEAD.

    “I think that ought to do it,” he said to Bunny, Olivia and Nikolai, who were the only ones still paying attention to what was going on; Dante was already walking to the door of Mr. Pokémon’s home, while Nekou was spending her time looking at the trees surrounding the road. Sighing, Matt took out another Poké Ball and wordlessly threw it at Roggenrola. This time, the Pokémon put up little resistance and was successfully captured.

    “I hope you will treat that Roggenrola properly…”

    “You don’t have anything to worry about,” Matt said, dismissing Nikolai’s incessant concern while he picked up the Poké Ball that now contained his Roggenrola. Turning his head, he asked, “Nekou, what are you doing?”

    “I love how the trees look in autumn…”

    “I guess she’s just being herself again,” he conceded, sighing.
    haha Nekou.


    I LOVE MR. POKEMON. I love how he's a conspiracy nut and some kind of Alex Jones fanboy type who's also a woman-hater on top of all that, and I love how Nekou has absolutely zero ****s to be given when he calls her a wench.

    “I don’t know. Finished looking at leaves?”

    “I’ll remember that, smartass.” The way Nekou was smiling gave away that she was saying this in a good-natured way, for a change. “What’s going on with Dr. Fantomos?”
    hahaha

    Apparently having not perceived Nekou’s presence earlier, Chaos smirked beneath the mesh covering his mouth. “Well, well, well, seeing you is certainly a surprise, Black Cat. It must have slipped your mind that we, the Shadow Triad, live only to serve Lord Ghetsis and his whims.”
    >Black Cat
    I see what you did there.

    “It’ll be hard to please him when you’re in pieces.”
    most badass one-liner ever.

    The battle against the Shadow Triad was nicely brutal, I think you made it very clear how ruthless they are.


    Stumbling back and looking down at the red ooze slowly trickling out of her skin, Nekou spat, “****, you got me! Well, actually, you only got my clothes… I guess Ghetsis didn’t prepare you for facing me?” Nekou lightly ran her hand over the bloody wound, then raised that same hand to her mouth and licked the liquid off. Immediately, her mind began to race. “Mmm… yeah, they didn’t tell you, so I will. You might have cut me, but the thing is… a wounded animal is the most vicious!”

    When she jerked her head back up, Nekou’s eyes were filled with a bright yellow glow. She screamed loudly enough to cause her voice to crack and lunged at Chaos, assaulting him in such a bloodthirsty frenzy that he couldn’t keep up. Her switchblade first claimed his gloves, which fell to the ground in pieces, then began nicking small cuts into his exposed hands and arms.

    “You’re mine now, you little ****! All I have to do is beat you before that happens now!”
    This is incredibly badass, and I really love how she doesn't even seem to care she's bleeding. I'm wondering if her eyes lighting up means something... I can't wait to learn more about this.

    Nekou having to fight to get herself to stop attacking Chaos really shows how she knows somehow that she can turn dangerous for whatever reason and that she's apparently prepared herself. That aspect of her is important I think- that she seems to be aware she could present a danger to herself or others and deals with it accordingly.

    “It’s a house at night, James. Of course I haven’t seen anything.” Jessie sighed and slumped over.
    Haha, Jessie.


    “Wobbuffet! Wobba!!”

    Wobbuffet frantically tugging on her arm meant that just perhaps, action had found them in the end.

    “What do you want?” she sharply demanded of her Pokémon.

    “Wobba!”

    Following Wobbuffet’s wild gestures, Jessie looked back through her binoculars at the house. What she saw made her gasp.
    WOBBUFFET

    To a degree, it worked. Surrounded by Mercury, her men and her growling Electivire on one side and Chaos on the other, they constricted closer and closer to each other, searching for a way out.
    I was able to picture this perfectly in my head.


    Jessie and James each opened a single Poké Ball simultaneously. Jessie’s ball released a plump bat Pokémon with a heart-shaped nose and a midsection covered in white fur, while James’s gave rise to a golden coffin cloaked in a shadow that formed four long arms and hands. These two Pokémon, immediately becoming aware of the threat they faced, moved to shield their trainers with their bodies.
    YES

    SWOOBAT AND COFAGRIGUS

    Wobbuffet using Destiny Bond was something I wasn't expecting. I really actually like seeing Jessie knowing how to take advantage of Wobbuffet's awesome power in the story because I think Wobbuffet was really wasted in the show a lot.

    At the center of it all, Meowth felt like his mind was being torn apart. Horrifying images of death and despair flashed rapidly through his imagination, and he could feel his soul warping with every vision.

    When the light faded and both opposing factions recovered their sight, they found Meowth standing at the epicenter of the event, eyes closed and holding the Meteonite in his arms.

    “The Meteonite became unstable again…” James immediately observed.

    “Wait, what’s wrong with Meowth?” wondered Jessie.

    On the other side of the clearing, Mercury knew exactly what was going on. “Meowth, come over here. Be a good boy and give us the Meteonite piece back.”

    “Yes, as you wish…” the feline Pokémon mumbled. He turned and shuffled to Mercury to hand over the Meteonite, and it was not until then that he finally opened his eyes.

    Meowth’s eyes were filled with red.

    “What have you done to him?” James angrily demanded, stomping his foot into the ground hard enough to leave a relatively deep footprint.

    “Isn’t it obvious? The Meteonite can control the minds of Pokémon! You know that! Your Meowth just exposed himself directly to its power as it became unstable, so it has changed him. He is now one of us!”
    Poor Meowth.

    I really like how you're showing TR's love for Meowth, I think a lot of fans forget that Meowth is basically their best friend and one of the things that's kept them together so long and they're not the same without him.

    Excellent, exciting chapter that raised questions I can't wait to see answered. Keep up the excellent work!

    "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."
    -Stephen King

    I write odd slice of life stories about Team Rocket. If that's your thing, give them a look:

    Alpha Male- behind every friendship is a story. Perspective contest fourth place winner.
    Secretary- A short and cynical tale of paperwork and sadism
    Survival- A novella about the unbreakable bonds between one man and his feline friend. 2011 Pokemon Big Bang story.


  13. #63
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    Would have posted this earlier, but internet wasn't working the last couple days. >.>; Now that everything is running again, on to the review!

    First part I want to say yay new version of Matt’s HR-E! XD

    As much as I enjoy Olivia developing as a trainer, she does need to learn when to throw in the towel to prevent anything worse from happening. Lucky Nikolai stopped the battle just in time. Upon Nikolai’s appearance, I knew he must be N (I’m assuming he gave himself that name so that his real name isn’t known) due to his comments on Pokemon and humans must work together and his thoughts on battling. Like your take on him so far and it’s good he helped Matt out with Charlotte.

    “Come on, I know you’re home!” he called, his voice clearly conveying the irritation he felt.

    “The Pokémon want to come in here and eat all the food I’ve got!” someone shouted back from behind the door.

    “Oy, not this again… there’s no Pokémon out here that want your food, at least anymore anyway. And if you’d stop feeding them, they’ll stop coming!”
    Bwhahahaha, you showed this to me and Dawn a few days ago, so it’s great to see this bit again.

    Am curious over Nekou’s Black Cat title. Fits her very well, though! I’m actually reminded of the manga Black Cat, which is about a bounty hunter who used to be an assassin. I can tell you more about the manga if you like. XD Other thoughts while reading the confrontation with the Shadow Triad scene are ouch over Nikolai being poisoned. D: And nice Dante has Haxrous. I like that for some reason. XD

    The part with Team Rocket versus Mercury is nicely done. Love Jessie and James able to come up with some battling techniques there. Also woot for Ariana’s appearance! Hope Jessie and James get Meowth soon. :<

    Overall some pretty awesome stuff happening this chapter. Looking forward to more!


    Tumblr | FFnet | Author's Profile| Archive of Our Own | Banner: Umi Mizuno
    I'm still writing, but probably not much Pokemon stuff at the moment. HAM!


  14. #64
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    You know, I think that this is probably my favorite chapter thus far (though I anticipate that I may find a new favorite down the line).

    Let's take a closer look:

    Though he wanted to accept Olivia’s decision, second thoughts clouded Matt’s mind. He stood still, unable to rid himself of a lingering concern that something just couldn’t possibly be right about Olivia’s miraculous recovery. To force it out of his head, he finally turned back around to face what he had been looking at.
    I believe the trope was called "Chekov's Gun"? Matt probably wouldn't be thinking so hard about Olivia's sudden recovery if there wasn't something unnatural surrounding it.

    Renzo pulled a red-and-white sphere from the inner part of his tattered poncho and threw it at the Pokémon he’d just finished fighting. The Poké Ball cracked open upon hitting Cottonee’s body, allowing its inner technology to convert the Pokémon into energy before pulling her in. It then sealed up and fell to the ground, where before the eyes of Renzo and his Psychic-type, it rocked and shuddered.

    “Come on...” the ragged trainer thought to himself. “I can’t afford any more Poké Balls…”

    He didn’t need to worry, however, as almost immediately after he finished that thought, the Poké Ball became still and gave off a pinging sound, indicating a successful capture. Renzo’s attitude quickly changed; he excitedly ran over to where the Poké Ball lay on the ground and picked it up, while the more lethargic Drowzee simply ambled up alongside his trainer.

    “Wow, great job!” called one of the children, a bright-eyed girl whose brown hair hung in a side-tied ponytail.

    “Yes, thank you…” Renzo replied, before cracking the Poké Ball in his hand open once more. The Cottonee, her body visibly bruised in several places, materialized from its confines and almost immediately shrank back upon seeing Renzo and his Drowzee. “Now, now, you don’t have to be afraid, Cottonee. We’re not going to hurt you. Please, forgive us for doing what we had to.”

    Lowering himself so he wound not appear as intimidating to the small Pokémon, Renzo extended a hand and waited as Cottonee nervously examined it. It took a bit of time, but Renzo’s newly-caught Pokémon did eventually decide that the situation was safe, at which point she hopped up into his hand and allowed him to hold her.

    “There you go,” he said in an attempt to further comfort her, “nothing to be afraid of.”
    I REALLY like this passage. It shows Renzo as being more of a three-dimensional character instead of a rival who does nothing but foam at the mouth and go "GRAH MUST BEAT HER RAAGH". I also like how he got some kids to idolize him, as well as how he told Olivia that he would be using Gurdurr to battle instead of Drowzee or Cottonee. He's clearly not a complete villain, but he's more of a grey area, and I like that.

    Oshawott held up his shell in a feeble attempt to shield himself from the terrifying Fighting-type Pokémon bearing down on him, but it made no difference. The shell was no match for the force of Gurdurr’s fist, which shattered it into pieces before striking Oshawott directly in the stomach, sending him rolling back through the dirt. Oshawott was hit so hard that he dug a trail into the path as he skidded to a stop.
    Something tells me that's going to be brought up later...

    Also, Renzo's Gurdurr is a BEAST. It reminds me of my first Driftveil Tournament challenge, when my Krokorok completely slaughtered Colress' entire team. It was AWESOME. XD

    “It was I.”

    To the surprise of all the people gathered on the road, a tall, lithe young man jumped from the bushes to stand in the middle of the battle. His windbreaker jacket – designed with a checkerboard pattern over half-black, half-white coloring – fit loosely on his thin frame, while his long green hair flowed into a ponytail against his back from beneath his similarly-colored baseball cap.
    Ah, now here's what I wanted (but will obviously never get) from Best Wishes: an adaptation of this guy, who happens to be one of the Pokemon franchise's most interesting characters. Maybe if we're lucky we'll get a Plasma arc post-Unova League, but knowing the anime all we'll probably be getting is more TR.

    I was playing N's encounter music from BW while I read his dialogue. I have to say that his actions here match very well with the eerie, almost circus-like music theme he had in the original BW.

    “Not that I owe you any answer,” Renzo replied with a scoff, “but I am going to traverse Dark Cave and the mountains of Route 45 beyond. My goal is Blackthorn City, where I will get a Dratini no matter what I must do.”
    Hmm...have to wonder if we'll be seeing Renzo for a while, assuming he gets through Dark Cave successfully.

    “Why Dratini?” Bunny questioned. “I get that it’s rare, but you seem like you have a deeper reason.”

    “Dragonite was her favorite…”

    Without saying anything further, Renzo wandered off with his Pokémon. heading north on the road. The others who remained had little time to ponder his bizarre behavior, as Nikolai next approached Olivia.
    Gee, I wonder who he could be referring to...?

    “Please explain something to me…” Matt’s attention was pulled back to its original location when Nikolai suddenly spoke up after having approached moments before. “Your Pokémon all seem at least relatively happy to be with you, as they’ve told me stories of some of your adventures… but why is your Eelektrik not responding in the same way?”

    “I haven’t really used her at all yet, to be truthful. I was hoping to get in some training with her soon...”

    Suddenly becoming angry, Nikolai moved in a single abrupt motion to get right in Matt’s face. “You must treat your Pokémon better! When I spoke to your Eelektrik, it told me that it feels forgotten. Simply capturing a Pokémon in one of those awful Poké Balls is not enough! You must spend time allowing that Pokémon to be free, as well!”
    Why couldn't we have had this in the anime? Having Ash on the recieving end of this would have been a thousand times better than watching Jessie and James act out the James Bond movies!

    On a more positive note, Nekou's responses to Mr. Pokemon's treatment of her were quite fun. Olivia's wondering at N's name was amusing, as well.

    “You’re out of luck, Black Cat!” Chaos growled. “Bisharp! Lead Banette and Liepard while I take care of this one!”

    A sharp grunt and a smile indicated that Bisharp gladly accepted the responsibility Chaos delegated to him. Banette and Liepard rallied to his side, and much like a trainer, he pointed his right arm forward at their enemies and spoke in his own language to give orders, which Banette and Liepard seemingly understood.
    I can easily picture a Bisharp doing this, even if it isn't with a group of Pawniard.

    “Hmph, like there’s anything an old man like you can do! Bisharp, Liepard, Banette, attack!”

    Summoning what strength they had left, Chaos’s three Pokémon all lunged at Haxorus. Both she and Dante remained calm, however. Neither of them saw the opposing trio of Pokémon or their trainer as a threat in the least.

    “Haxorus,” Dante coolly directed, even closing his eyes as he spoke, “Dual Chop.”

    Just like when they’d arrived earlier, Haxorus swiftly charged forward and cut Liepard down using her right tusk, then slashed Banette with the left. Both Pokémon crumpled to the ground as a result of everything they’d taken.

    “Bisharp, Iron Head!!”

    “It is over. Haxorus, use Counter!”

    An orange light outlined Haxorus’s body, and when Bisharp’s metallic headbutt struck her, she immediately punched him squarely in the face. Because Haxorus’s attack was twice as strong as the move she had been hit with, Bisharp was defeated just as his allies were.

    “Is that it?” Dante taunted the dumbfounded Shadow Triad member. “You were not even a slight challenge for me. Be on your way if you don’t want this to get any worse for yourself.”
    Dang...Chaos was giving Matt and co. so much trouble, and yet Dante just wipes the floor with him. Have to wonder what other secrets he's hiding...


    The Rocket VS Polaris scene was actually pretty good. After a long time of seeing the trio as goofs, it was refreshing to see them acting comptetantly. Kudos to Jessie for the Destiny Bond trick, although Meowth being mind-controlled is something of a problem. Might be a while before that gets resolved...

    Well, with "Nikolai" poisoned and with the team in disarray, the action is definitely starting to pick up. Can't wait to see what happens next!
    Current fanfics:


    Proving Grounds

    How far will one boy go to prove something?

  15. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matori View Post
    This was an exciting chapter. It was shorter than some of your others, but you really worked a lot of great stuff into it.
    I was concerned that this chapter would end up excessively long, with how much I had to put into it.


    This is really really cute. I love the idea of two friends just chilling with beer and talking about stuff.
    It was probably a lot less intimate than you're making it sound, but on the other hand, they certainly weren't hostile towards each other.


    This really gives an idea of how much of a group of misfits they are.
    As if there was any question. XD

    Excellent, gorgeous imagery.
    Thank you!

    Polaris sure isn't subtle, are they?
    If you think this is non-subtle, you haven't seen anything from them yet.

    uh-oh.
    Yeah, things are about to get serious.

    General Renzo thoughts: I really love how you've characterized him, especially his speech patterns, and his admirers are really cute too. He's a jerk but he's sort of adorable in his own way.
    Yeah, I think you're going to have some... complex feelings about him by the end.

    aww, Olivia. I love how badass she is, and confident.
    Yeah, if there's one thing she's not putting up with right now, it's Renzo's nonsense.

    Love Bunny sticking up for Olivia.
    Good. I wanted to add Bunny in a bit too.

    The battle between Renzo and Olivia flows excellently, I think. The way you show how brutal a battler Gurdurr is and how loyal Olivia's Pokemon are really makes a good contrast between the two rivals- Renzo is merciless, but Olivia's Pokemon are more than willing to fight through for her even if it's futile. Watching Olivia slowly lose confidence was heartbreaking, though.
    That contrast is definite, but I think there are some parallels between them, too.

    I think this is a really important scene for Nekou because it shows even though she's supportive and a sis of sorts to Olivia, she also knows when to tell Olivia hard things and protect her.
    Nekou was always more complex than she initially appears on the surface. You'll see a lot more of this going forward.

    Never change, Nekou.
    Don't worry, she won't. XD;

    I WONDER WHO THIS COULD BE.

    I love the little detail on his jacket, nice shoutout there.
    The jacket actually went through a couple of revisions along with other parts of his design. Originally, he was going to simply get a black trench coat and hat, then the jacket was half-black/half-white while the hat stayed the same. After that, the checkered pattern was added to the jacket, and he otherwise maintained his original design, which is what you see here.

    I adore how you've characterized him so far. It matches his character perfectly, and it really makes him stand out. His speech style is also something I think you got right, I really adore it.
    Thanks!

    It was hard to get his portrayal right. His character in the games has a lot of circumstance behind it, so to get a handle on just how he should act isn't easy.

    aww, Sheena. The pocke****ch detail is really sweet. I love how Nikolai also has that ability, it makes perfect sense with the talking to Pokemon thing.
    This actually isn't the pocke****ch's first appearance - it was in The Firestorm Rebellion too. Matt talked about it with Nekou and Agenta in the deepest part of the temple.

    It made perfect sense to me for Nikolai to have the same power as Sheena, or at least a close variant of it. That power is something that'll come up again, too.

    This is also really cute. You really got his childlike nature perfect, but in a way that's not insulting or degrading to him. It's more on the "innocent and curious" side than the "stupid" side.
    His childlike nature was never born from stupidity in the first place. He is profoundly smart, but he is naive - he has plenty of literal knowledge but no practical skills or experiences to apply it, so he still acts childlike.

    This scene really hits on something a lot of stories don't cover, mainly the differences in class that must be lurking under the surface in the Pokemon universe, the implications of prize money in battles, and the power of the media.
    Well then prepare yourself, because we're just getting started on this.

    I love the idea of pre-recorded backup plan videos.
    It was foreshadowed a few chapters ago, although, back then I had planned for Ariana to appear in the video as well in some regard.

    Also, since the new R-Pad is based on a Wii U controller, I've devised some new ideas for ways the plans can be communicated the next time such a need arises.

    Roggenrola are really, really weird. The image is hilariously awkward.



    DEAD.
    This is exactly why I decided to use Roggenrola for that scene instead of Boldore - because of how ridiculously awkward Roggenrola is.

    haha Nekou.
    Yeah, that's her alright.


    I LOVE MR. POKEMON. I love how he's a conspiracy nut and some kind of Alex Jones fanboy type who's also a woman-hater on top of all that, and I love how Nekou has absolutely zero ****s to be given when he calls her a wench.
    And this is why I enjoy using obscure game characters like Mr. Pokemon and the Guide Gent; I get to expand on their characters, which is something that doesn't happen regularly. In the case of Mr. Pokemon, since he is a character who is built up to be very important but only plays a tiny role based around his collecting things, I eventually decided to incorporate elements of the Doom Paul meme into his character. Meanwhile, the crack at Nekou he makes is a gag reference to Kenji from Katawa Shoujo.

    hahaha
    She probably will remember it, too.

    >Black Cat
    I see what you did there.
    Do you now?

    most badass one-liner ever.
    It wasn't really said to be badass, though. She said it coldly, not screaming like usual.

    The battle against the Shadow Triad was nicely brutal, I think you made it very clear how ruthless they are.
    Well, here it was just Chaos, not the entire Shadow Triad. But your impression is true nevertheless - they've shed their identities to become ninja spies working for Ghetsis and are fully aware of what kind of person he is. 'Ruthless' is something that went out the window a long time ago.

    This is incredibly badass, and I really love how she doesn't even seem to care she's bleeding. I'm wondering if her eyes lighting up means something... I can't wait to learn more about this.
    It's not that she doesn't care that she's bleeding, it's that in a fight, a cut like that that draws a little blood is something she likes. It causes her to loosen up while focusing her mind, and it gives her a rush too.

    Yeah, if you haven't figured it out yet, she's crazy.

    Nekou having to fight to get herself to stop attacking Chaos really shows how she knows somehow that she can turn dangerous for whatever reason and that she's apparently prepared herself. That aspect of her is important I think- that she seems to be aware she could present a danger to herself or others and deals with it accordingly.
    I'm not going to say anything here out of risk of spoiling something.

    Haha, Jessie.
    To me, that seemed like a thing Jessie would say.

    WOBBUFFET
    And that seemed like something Wobbuffet would do.

    I was able to picture this perfectly in my head.
    Good. It was a visual scene.

    YES

    SWOOBAT AND COFAGRIGUS
    They finally get some love!

    Wobbuffet using Destiny Bond was something I wasn't expecting. I really actually like seeing Jessie knowing how to take advantage of Wobbuffet's awesome power in the story because I think Wobbuffet was really wasted in the show a lot.
    He was wasted, that's for sure. That's part of why I brought him back, but his having a role to play in this fight just kind of happened as I was writing it, to be honest.

    Poor Meowth.

    I really like how you're showing TR's love for Meowth, I think a lot of fans forget that Meowth is basically their best friend and one of the things that's kept them together so long and they're not the same without him.
    Definitely. They survived for a long time with nothing to rely on but each other, so I see them having each others' backs above all else.

    Meowth's forced betrayal isn't only going to be a plot device to motivate Jessie and James, though. It does have a purpose.

    Excellent, exciting chapter that raised questions I can't wait to see answered. Keep up the excellent work!
    Thank you! I'm happy you enjoyed it!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bay View Post
    Would have posted this earlier, but internet wasn't working the last couple days. >.>; Now that everything is running again, on to the review!
    Glad you worked everything out!

    First part I want to say yay new version of Matt’s HR-E! XD
    This was actually meant to be foreshadowed back in XD^3's final battle. The original HR-E was blown up by one of Arceus's Judgment attacks, and I had it envisioned but simply never put it into the actual story. Though it took place off-screen, it did still happen, however.

    As much as I enjoy Olivia developing as a trainer, she does need to learn when to throw in the towel to prevent anything worse from happening. Lucky Nikolai stopped the battle just in time.
    That's definitely a lesson she's going to have to learn.

    Upon Nikolai’s appearance, I knew he must be N (I’m assuming he gave himself that name so that his real name isn’t known) due to his comments on Pokemon and humans must work together and his thoughts on battling. Like your take on him so far and it’s good he helped Matt out with Charlotte.
    Right, the fact that he is N is not the surprise here. The mystery is why he does not remember Ghetsis, the Shadow Triad, Team Plasma or seemingly anything else.

    Bwhahahaha, you showed this to me and Dawn a few days ago, so it’s great to see this bit again.
    There was some great comic potential with the two of them. XD;

    Am curious over Nekou’s Black Cat title. Fits her very well, though! I’m actually reminded of the manga Black Cat, which is about a bounty hunter who used to be an assassin. I can tell you more about the manga if you like. XD
    That's what that manga is about? I've seen it many times but I've never actually investigated it. If you'd like you could tell me more.

    Nekou's nickname is something that does have plot importance, which you'll see sometime later. It is important.

    Other thoughts while reading the confrontation with the Shadow Triad scene are ouch over Nikolai being poisoned. D: And nice Dante has Haxrous. I like that for some reason. XD
    Dante's Haxorus actually debuted in the chapter in which he debuted himself, in fact. She was walking with him when he found Olivia injured.

    The part with Team Rocket versus Mercury is nicely done. Love Jessie and James able to come up with some battling techniques there. Also woot for Ariana’s appearance! Hope Jessie and James get Meowth soon. :<
    It's going to be quite a ride with them... I bet you've guessed already that it's hit the fan when it comes to Team Rocket now.

    Overall some pretty awesome stuff happening this chapter. Looking forward to more!
    Thank you, and let me say, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morpher01 View Post
    You know, I think that this is probably my favorite chapter thus far (though I anticipate that I may find a new favorite down the line).
    Really? I'm kind of surprised, pleasantly so. I was worried about this chapter and I didn't have a lot of faith in it going in, owing to it being sandwiched between major arcs and having to deal with a lot of different content at once.

    Let's take a closer look:



    I believe the trope was called "Chekov's Gun"? Matt probably wouldn't be thinking so hard about Olivia's sudden recovery if there wasn't something unnatural surrounding it.
    If I point out that it's a Chekhov's Gun, then it doesn't really qualify as one anymore, but...

    Think of it this way: this is the second time something like this has happened.

    I REALLY like this passage. It shows Renzo as being more of a three-dimensional character instead of a rival who does nothing but foam at the mouth and go "GRAH MUST BEAT HER RAAGH". I also like how he got some kids to idolize him, as well as how he told Olivia that he would be using Gurdurr to battle instead of Drowzee or Cottonee. He's clearly not a complete villain, but he's more of a grey area, and I like that.
    This is exactly what I want to do with him. He's not a bad person, in fact, he might very well be decent. There's just something with Olivia that gets him really, really upset and sends him off the deep end.

    He cares for his Pokemon, too, even if he's harsh on them and works them hard. That's born of his circumstances, though - at this point, you should be able to piece together a good explanation for why he must be so self-reliant and keep his Pokemon strong without overworking them.

    Something tells me that's going to be brought up later...
    It kind of has to.

    Also, Renzo's Gurdurr is a BEAST. It reminds me of my first Driftveil Tournament challenge, when my Krokorok completely slaughtered Colress' entire team. It was AWESOME. XD
    Just imagine the terror when it evolves into Conkeldurr. I don't even have to worry about spoilers when I say that this is not the last time that thing is going to be a threat.

    Ah, now here's what I wanted (but will obviously never get) from Best Wishes: an adaptation of this guy, who happens to be one of the Pokemon franchise's most interesting characters. Maybe if we're lucky we'll get a Plasma arc post-Unova League, but knowing the anime all we'll probably be getting is more TR.

    I was playing N's encounter music from BW while I read his dialogue. I have to say that his actions here match very well with the eerie, almost circus-like music theme he had in the original BW.
    I personally think an adaptation of B2W2 Team Plasma is coming to fill in the rest of the space in Unova, but that's neither here nor there. It'll at least give us Insane Ghetsis.

    You know, I should have tried that. Now that you mention it, his theme song does match up with this all pretty well. I guess that means I did him right?

    Hmm...have to wonder if we'll be seeing Renzo for a while, assuming he gets through Dark Cave successfully.
    His current subplot is only just getting started. Olivia may not see him for a while, but that doesn't mean that you won't see him.

    Gee, I wonder who he could be referring to...?
    Not saying anything.

    Why couldn't we have had this in the anime? Having Ash on the recieving end of this would have been a thousand times better than watching Jessie and James act out the James Bond movies!
    I prefer Bond Rockets, if only for the simple fact that I trust myself to handle N more than I trust the anime's writers to handle him.

    But anyway, you've got it now with this cast of characters instead, so I hope it's a fair substitute. I'm also able to take him in directions no canon material ever could, as you've already seen.

    On a more positive note, Nekou's responses to Mr. Pokemon's treatment of her were quite fun. Olivia's wondering at N's name was amusing, as well.
    When you have Olivia and Nekou snarking things, I don't see how you can go wrong.

    Seems like Mr. Pokemon was quite a popular character despite his minor role. Maybe I'll use him again.

    I can easily picture a Bisharp doing this, even if it isn't with a group of Pawniard.
    I... didn't even do this deliberately, believe it or not. I only had it assume the leadership role because Bisharp is the signature Pokemon of the collective Shadow Triad (by the last time they're fought, there is a total of six Bisharp between them, two for each one.) I never even realized that I was essentially showing a Bisharp adapted from the leadership role seen earlier with the Pawniard into a role leading other Pokemon.

    Dang...Chaos was giving Matt and co. so much trouble, and yet Dante just wipes the floor with him. Have to wonder what other secrets he's hiding...
    Well, he did also catch Chaos completely off-guard, just as Chaos had himself caught Matt's group earlier. Dante had a chance to see exactly how he wanted his attack to play out before he made his move.

    Also, if Haxorus didn't have Counter, he would have been stopped cold by Bisharp.

    The Rocket VS Polaris scene was actually pretty good. After a long time of seeing the trio as goofs, it was refreshing to see them acting comptetantly. Kudos to Jessie for the Destiny Bond trick, although Meowth being mind-controlled is something of a problem. Might be a while before that gets resolved...
    It was refreshing to write them as humorous but competent, too. I really feel like my concept of how they should be depicted came into its own in this chapter.

    As for the fight itself, once again, one side really had no chance because they were not prepared for the confrontation. If Chaos hadn't forced their hand, they probably never would have gotten involved with Mercury in the first place. Once they were put against Mercury they were in a hopeless situation, because as you saw, she was carrying reserves to back up Electivire.

    Meowth, on the other hand, pretty much had his mind turned inside out by the Meteonite's power through no direct fault of anyone. Of course, that's not going to stop Mercury from taking advantage of his reversed mentality to get him to change sides. And yeah, this isn't going to be resolved immediately.

    Well, with "Nikolai" poisoned and with the team in disarray, the action is definitely starting to pick up. Can't wait to see what happens next!
    Yeah, things are going to really pick up from here. You should be in for quite the ride.

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  16. #66
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    Well, you asked for me to review and to review I shall. However, it must only be brief as my studying is really hot on my tails.

    So far I've finished chapter three, and, just by the stories told by Matt, it's clear there's a much more in-depth world to which I have just seen. Encounters with a golden city, Heatran, Dialga, a split personality named Janus, presumably after the Greek God of choice with two heads. Oh, and the main character is Cybernetic. Looks like you've got the whole shebang here!

    My favourite bit of this chapter is the emotionally and action-charged bit with the Pawniard - they make the Beedrill that plagued ash throughout Kanto look tame! Seriously, surely there should be some for of global pest-control about these guys. Sheesh.

    The moment with Olivia falling off the cliff is absolutely masterful - you manage to completely sop the pace and literally slow everything down. It was a joy to read.

    Just a quick question from a chemistry nerd - this new Element - Meteonite. It seems to play a large part of the story, so what I want to know is this: any more elements in the periodic table would have extremely short half-lives, so how does it stay working. Of course, the radiation given off a new element such as this would be phenomenal - a great source of energy indeed! Are you going to implement some sort of quality to the element to make it seem more likely to stay around forever (Poke/Magic stuff or whatever)? Of course I'm probably looking waaaay too much into this and you are free to ignore me ^^

    Oh, and just something I noted from chapter 2:

    “Stalking that boy you’re infatuated with on the Internet does not count as ‘busy,’ Séduire,”
    'busy', - the comma and apostrophe are the wrong way round.

    I must say, I also enjoy your battles - they seems very in-depth and thoughtful. The ways moves are used are described brilliantly and are very creative.
    Every story has an ending. Nothing lasts forever. Not any more.
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        Spoiler:- Thanks to DeadlyBraviary!:

  17. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scaldaver View Post
    Well, you asked for me to review and to review I shall. However, it must only be brief as my studying is really hot on my tails.
    That's okay. I'm glad you shared even a bit of time with me.

    So far I've finished chapter three, and, just by the stories told by Matt, it's clear there's a much more in-depth world to which I have just seen. Encounters with a golden city, Heatran, Dialga, a split personality named Janus, presumably after the Greek God of choice with two heads. Oh, and the main character is Cybernetic. Looks like you've got the whole shebang here!
    Yes, there certainly is quite a bit of backstory, isn't there? I hope I conveyed it all effectively.

    I want to create a world on a bigger scale than just the basic adventure the four main characters are going on, in which events are bigger than them. I think you'll see this take shape going forward.

    My favourite bit of this chapter is the emotionally and action-charged bit with the Pawniard - they make the Beedrill that plagued ash throughout Kanto look tame! Seriously, surely there should be some for of global pest-control about these guys. Sheesh.
    What you raise gives me an interesting thought: what would happen if the Beedrill, who are indigenous to Johto and Kanto, fought the Pawniard that were migrated from Unova, who would win? I might actually decide to do something with this...

    There's a little more to the Pawniard and their Bisharp leader than what you see now.

    The moment with Olivia falling off the cliff is absolutely masterful - you manage to completely sop the pace and literally slow everything down. It was a joy to read.
    That was something vital for that scene - in order for the full impact of the events to hit the reader, you have to put them in the shoes of someone in the scene, and I would imagine that for Matt, time would feel like it stopped as he watched her go over the cliff. Doing that also helped me play into the next event, where he snaps and goes all out to defeat Bisharp immediately, because the whiplash between a fast-paced confrontation, a slow event and back to fast-paced helps make it exciting.

    Just a quick question from a chemistry nerd - this new Element - Meteonite. It seems to play a large part of the story, so what I want to know is this: any more elements in the periodic table would have extremely short half-lives, so how does it stay working. Of course, the radiation given off a new element such as this would be phenomenal - a great source of energy indeed! Are you going to implement some sort of quality to the element to make it seem more likely to stay around forever (Poke/Magic stuff or whatever)? Of course I'm probably looking waaaay too much into this and you are free to ignore me ^^
    I wouldn't think of ignoring anyone, especially someone who takes enough care to give thoughts like this. ^^

    Honestly, many of those details are mostly just going to be handwaved as "lol, Pokemon world physics." Although, if you wish to have some explanation, I suppose I can offer the detail that Meteonite reacts to itself; essentially, having some of it can "activate" larger dormant amounts once the two become in proximity to each other, almost like recharging a battery. However. it's unstable and needs to be handled carefully, which is something you'll see in a more recent chapter.

    Oh, and just something I noted from chapter 2:



    'busy', - the comma and apostrophe are the wrong way round.
    Noted.

    I must say, I also enjoy your battles - they seems very in-depth and thoughtful. The ways moves are used are described brilliantly and are very creative.
    Thank you for this. My aim here is to take the mechanics the games are capable of and display them in a "visual" style like the anime.

    Thank you for your kind review, and I certainly do hope to see you again soon!

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  18. #68
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    Okay, good news, bad news time.

    The good news is that the chapter is nearing completion and will likely be done within this week.

    The bad news is something that is beyond my control.

    I plan out my chapters before I begin writing them now, therefore, the plan for this has been on paper for some time. Yesterday's horrific school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut has rendered me unable to release the chapter with a clear conscience right away. This is because the chapter was planned from the start to feature a vital scene at Earl's Pokemon Academy that involves the students being threatened; because of the terrible real-life circumstances going on right now, I cannot feel that it is appropriate to release this chapter at this time.

    Currently, my plan is to hold the chapter back and release it as a double-bill with the chapter after it. This will give me a few weeks to a month of buffer space, at which point I feel it will be acceptable to put the chapter out.

    In order to tide everyone over until then, I'm going to go ahead and post a brief summary and character list for the chapter under a spoiler. Please feel free to speculate in any way you wish using this information; in fact, I encourage it. This is under a spoiler because there is, in fact, previously never-before-known information and characters in it.

        Spoiler:- Chapter 7 summary + character list:

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  19. #69
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    Well, here it is. This is the chapter that had to be delayed because of the Connecticut school shooting. As I’ve alluded to, this chapter contains a scene of conflict at a school with students in danger, which may in these difficult times be triggering to some people. I've decided after talking to some of my readers that enough time has passed, so I'm releasing it now. Please try to enjoy the chapter despite the terrible circumstances marring it.

    Jacob Alexison appears from Nothing, Everything by Bay, with the original author’s permission.

    -:-

    CHAPTER 7: Flying to an Unseeable Future

    -:-

    The low hum of his many machines provided a constant source of quiet sound in Dr. Zager’s laboratory. Having used many such devices for decades, he found that he had grown to be comforted by their soft noises. His mind was soothed by the unceasing din.

    While Galvantula sat nearby gorging herself on a plate of berries Zager had given her, the doctor himself sat at his computer console, casually clicking through a message board website sporting blue message bubbles against a black background. The red script at the site’s top identified it as ‘RChannel.’

    “How dull,” Zager said to himself as he absentmindedly scanned past multiple post threads. Many threads on RChannel talked about Pokémon training and collecting, but there were a vast number that focused on other things, ranging from discussion of television programs to bizarre posts such as a recently popular urban legend about an Aerodactyl in a graveyard.

    However, the RChannel website had another purpose. While available to the general public as a message board, the site was actually created and run by Team Rocket; its creator had used the ridiculous but somehow correct logic that an uncontrolled forum would be the perfect cover for exchanging information and intelligence between members via the Internet. That was what Zager was scanning the site for – intelligence – and soon, he finally found it.

    The thread’s first post, instead of being in a blue bubble, was contained within a red one; this was due to it being posted by “Admin,” the creator of RChannel.

    “There is something I do not understand,” the post read. “Ghetsis Harmonia is a member of Polaris. That is something that anyone who watches television knows. But, he is not the only one from Team Plasma to be connected to Polaris. I saw a member of the Shadow Triad on Route 30 today. Not only that, King N of Team Plasma was there too. So what is going on? What is the true connection between Team Plasma and Polaris?”

    “Holy ****, it’s Admin!” the next post, by ‘Slowpoke Tail,’ said. “And she’s got another crazy conspiracy theory!”

    “Posting in epic mod thread,” added an anonymous poster.

    “Hey Admin, Asuka or Rei?”

    The fourth reply was by the username ‘Sam’ – Pierce’s alias – and was the first to take the topic seriously. “That is an excellent question, Admin. I do not know all of the details of Team Plasma’s relationship with Polaris, but I’ve determined that Ghetsis was likely always working on behalf of Polaris. If he was ever loyal is another question entirely. I’ll do more studying and get back to you.”

    “That’s a good idea,” Zager spoke out loud to the screen, as if he were speaking directly to Pierce. “To defeat an enemy, you must first understand them.”

    -:-

    A somber tone hung over the group’s rented room at Violet City’s Pokémon Center. Bunny and Olivia sat and listlessly stared at the television in the room, which was playing a news report on several recent Pokémon Contests, while Nekou sat on her bed and quietly worked on her laptop with the headphones for her music player planted firmly in her ears.

    The heavy, aged wooden door of the room produced a loud creak as Matt slowly entered. Almost immediately, Bunny began asking him questions.

    “Well?” She wanted to address the subject that was weighing on all of their minds right away. “How is he?”

    Feeling utterly exhausted, Matt took his hat off and threw it onto one of the beds, then ran his hand through his hair. “He’ll live, but he got messed up pretty bad. The dart that that ninja hit him with was tipped with a poison that caused his body to go into shock.”

    “That guy was scary,” Olivia mumbled into the pillow she was embracing, which muffled her voice. “We’re going to be dealing with a lot like him, aren’t we?”

    “We’ll beat them, I’m sure,” Matt immediately answered, though he was forced to quietly add, “but you’re right, there probably will be…”

    “In other news, we will now go to a new address delivered by the spokesman for the Polaris organization.”

    The pending speech seemed to be timed perfectly to match up with what Matt said, and as they focused on the television, their nerves each tightened to the breaking point. By the time Ghetsis appeared on the screen, Nekou had even taken out her headphones and folded the screen of her laptop down, turning it into a tablet computer.

    “People of the Tohjo Continent, I bid you good evening. Tonight I am here to speak to you about traditions. What exactly is tradition, would you say? It is called a tradition for children to be sent out into the world and compete against each other for supremacy. With how long that tradition has stood, should we accept it?” Despite delivering the first part of his address calmly, Ghetsis was soon overcome by his characteristic intensity. “No! We should not accept such a thing! We are a species capable of building a civilized society! Or, at least I thought we were. That we call the practice of sending young people into a lifestyle offering most of them no future just so we can watch their suffering a ‘tradition’ speaks to how far we have to go to truly reach civilization. That is why I call upon you all, people of this nation! Polaris shall perform a miracle to prove the validity of our drive toward true civilization! Please, support us in our endeavor! With your help, a hopeful future is ensured! Thank you for your time tonight.”

    “Do you think he even knows how much of a madman he sounds like?” Bunny wondered of Ghetsis.

    “That’s not even a question. Ghetsis is a man who is fully aware of his own actions, and he delights in what he does to others.”

    Nekou’s words didn’t soothe Olivia, who was further shaken after listening to the thundering speech. “What if he has a point, though?” she grumbled into her pillow. “Look what happened to Nikolai, and all he did was help us. Not only him, either. What about Renzo? There really might be something to what he says... I’m scared…”

    “Olivia, you can’t think like that.” Matt tried to put on a strong face, masking his own unsettled emotions over the recent events. “Look, tomorrow you’re going for your first Badge, right? Focus on that. You finally made it to your first Gym.”

    “Matt’s saying something smart this time,” Nekou added, putting some sarcasm in her words to lighten things up a bit. “I can tell you that Ghetsis is not a man worth listening to. I disgust myself even using the word ‘man’ to refer to a piece of **** like him.”

    Olivia sighed and rolled over onto her side. “Maybe I’m just tired, then. Thanks for talking to me, but I want to go to bed.”

    -:-

    By the next day, things had brightened considerably for the group. A good night’s sleep turned out to do wonders for easing their minds after the previous day’s confrontations. They felt especially better when, once they’d all awoken, Matt went to check on Nikolai only to learn that he was rapidly recovering.

    “That sure is a relief to know,” Matt said to his companions as they made their way into the lobby of the Pokémon Center. “After how bad a shape he was in last night, to see that he’s recovering quickly is great news.”

    “I wonder what that toxin actually was…” Because she was mumbling to herself, Nekou’s musing went unheard.

    “So what are we waiting for? Next stop, Violet Gym! It’s time for that first Badge!”

    However, Olivia’s loud declaration attracted the attention of the Pokémon Center nurse, who had been standing nearby at her desk. She stepped over to the group and interrupted, “I’m sorry, but I overheard that you want to go to Violet Gym?”

    “Yeah, why?” Olivia questioned.

    “With our luck, she’s about to say it’s…”

    “Sorry, but the Gym is closed right now. Nobody can get to it.”

    “…I ****ing knew it,” Nekou finished her thought.

    With Olivia unable to speak further due to a mix of surprise and extreme disappointment, Matt instead asked the question on their minds. “But why? Has something happened?”

    “Come with me, I’ll show you.”

    The nurse stepped out from behind her desk and beckoned the four to follow her, which they did. Together, they went across the lobby, stopping at the lounge area. Once again, many people were gathered around the television there, which Matt quietly noted to himself was becoming a regular occurrence.

    On the screen, someone was being interviewed. Both the person taking the interview and the reporter conducting it were standing in front of a large, gray building on a stone road. Around them, a large group of people were gathered, some holding signs.

    “So what prompted you to come out today and join the group picketing your hometown Gym?” the reporter asked. Once he was done speaking, he held his microphone up to his female subject.

    “Well, the speeches by Polaris have really opened my eyes. I never really considered before just how many people have it bad, even though we all work hard for everything we have. There are those who have it too easy if you ask me, getting Pokémon and medical care for free while others pay for it. I want Falkner to come out here and tell us how he can participate in this. That’s why I’m here.”

    Immediately upon the young woman finishing speaking, the screen shifted back to the news anchor at his desk. “We do not yet have a statement from Violet City Gym Leader Falkner addressing the protests currently taking place outside of his Gym. However, for safety purposes, the Gym has been closed until the tension dissipates.”

    “Well that just sucks.”

    “Now, Olivia, look at the silver lining,” Bunny encouraged her, “at least this gives you more time to prepare for the battle.”

    “Eh… I suppose that’s true.”

    “Mister Chiaki? Mister Chiaki, you came to Violet City after all!”

    Having just entered the Pokémon Center, Dominic had spotted Matt and his group almost immediately, and now rushed over to meet them with his suitcase still in his hand.

    “Oh?” Matt failed to register immediately who he was being approached by, but seeing Dominic’s rumpled suit and tie again quickly rang the bell in his mind. “That’s right, Dominic was it? Sorry I sort of forgot...”

    “Oh, don’t worry about it. I’m just glad you actually came to Violet City like we arranged!”

    Dominic’s overflowing gratitude was a little off-putting to Matt, and even though he didn’t know it, Nekou and Olivia were a little nervous themselves. Bunny was the only one who saw him right away as the overly eager but kindhearted man he truly was.

    “You do remember, right? I asked you to meet my kids at Earl’s Pokémon Academy?”

    As soon as the memories of his speaking to Dominic in Cherrygrove City resurfaced in full, Matt brought his hand to his forehead in disbelief. He couldn’t understand how he’d forgotten such a simple thing.

    “That’s right, I do remember now. Olivia, if I might say… with the Gym closed, going to the Academy might be a productive way to spend the day.”

    “It’s better than nothing,” replied the girl, her facial features becoming hardened with determination. “Let’s do it!”

    “And don’t forget me,” Nekou chimed in, tossing herself over Matt’s shoulders, much to his visible discomfort. “Remember what I get there. Books. One of my six basic food groups.”

    “And what are the other five?”

    “Bacon, hamburgers, potato chips, chocolate and beer.”

    Matt sighed, quickly realizing that asking Nekou such a question was probably a mistake.

    “I’m glad that you’re all on board, then,” Dominic said with a smile. “I think you’ll all enjoy visiting there.”

    -:-

    “Now this is truly a surprise!” Stepping away from one of the glass-surfaced tables in the laboratory, the mustachioed scientist spread his arms as he welcomed his guests. “To think Father sent us not one but two of the Sacred Helix’s Chromosomes. Today must be an especially important day!”

    “Father still hasn’t come back, actually,” Mercury corrected him. “Right now Finansielle is giving directions, and Archer is holding down Father’s seat on the Sacred Helix.”

    “I see. Well then, let’s have a look at that stone you brought.”

    Standing next to Mercury, Séduire – the Entei-masked Chromosome who wore a school-themed uniform with a skirt and bow tie – wordlessly presented the scientist with the briefcase passed on from Mr. Pokémon. He eagerly accepted it and took it over to one of the tables, where he opened it.

    “Be careful with handling the Meteonite,” Mercury warned. “If it destabilizes, you might end up like this.” As she finished speaking, she gestured down to Meowth, who was listlessly standing next to her.

    The scientist took a magnifying lens out of the pocket of his brown suit and leaned in to look at the Meteonite. “This is the real deal, alright. It’s beautiful!” Sitting back up, he questioned, “So what’s the next step?”

    “That small Meteonite is going to lead us to the large one that crashed here several weeks ago. For that, we’re going to need your maps of the Ruins so we can navigate to the point it shows us.”

    “Yeah, that’s going to be a problem,” the scientist responded, frowning. “Something strange has gone on since the Meteonite landed here. It agitated all the Unown, and they used their reality-warping powers to change the structure of the Ruins of Alph. All the maps we had are obsolete now.”

    “I guess we’ll be going in blindly, then. Thankfully Meteonite will react to itself, so we can use the small amount we have to track down the payload. We’ve got just the equipment for the job, too.”

    “What’s my assignment in all of this?” Séduire piped up for the first time. “Should I stop Matt from bothering you, Mercury?”

    “No, I need you and your henchmen with my team. The Ruins of Alph are a lot more vast than one would expect, and they hold untold dangers, especially now that the Unown rearranged everything. You’ll get a chance to see him soon enough.”

    “Promise me that. Mercury, promise me I’ll see Matt again soon… I have to save him…”

    “Focus on the task at hand, Séduire. Remember that one day we’ll all be saved.”

    -:-

    Dominic led the way, guiding Matt, Nekou, Olivia and Bunny into the lobby of Earl’s Pokémon Academy. The lobby was cluttered with cases containing medals and photographs belonging to graduates of the school, many of whom had gone on to high-profile careers as trainers.

    “This is the premiere facility for Pokémon training education in the Tohjo Continent,” the salesman explained. He gestured to the wall, guiding the others’ eyes to the awards lining it. “You can’t beat this place as a school.”

    “I’d beg to differ,” Matt contradicted him. “I spent some time working at the Rustboro School with a very generous research grant.”

    “I wasn’t meaning to offend you at all, please forgive me.”

    “Is that good old Dominic I hear?” The voice echoing down the hall was loud and rich, giving itself such strength that it shook the walls. A large man in a blue suit came bounding out into the lobby with heavy steps; his boisterous demeanor surprised all of Dominic’s guests. “Welcome back, my dear Dominic! I see you’ve brought guests, just as you said earlier!”

    “Well, um… yes, Mr. Dervish, sir. Please…” Dominic turned to the others as he continued, “…allow me to introduce you. This is Matt Chiaki, and…”

    “Oh!!” The rotund man charged right past Dominic, effectively silencing him, and got right in Matt’s face. Matt started sweating and his nerves only frayed further when he realized that his hands were being grasped. “Sutter’s grandson! Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Earl Dervish, and I’m in charge of this Pokémon academy. It is truly an honor to have the grandson of the world’s most legendary archeologist in my school!”

    “It would be nice to get credit for some of the things I’ve done myself once in a while,” Matt nervously chuckled in an awkward attempt to inject humor into the situation.

    “But of course.” Turning his attention to Olivia, Nekou and Bunny, who were all standing by in varying degrees of shock and bemusement, Earl asked, “And who might these three be?”

    “This is Olivia. She’s my friend’s daughter, and I’m mentoring her. That’s Bunny, my old colleague, and this is my… well, somehow she ended up being my bodyguard, and her name is Nekou.”

    “Talk about a spectacle,” Nekou mumbled under her breath.

    “Well met, Olivia, Bunny, Nekou. Now, please, all of you, come with me! Dominic, your kids are already waiting for us in my office. They ought to be glad to see your friends. And Matt, fate’s brought you quite a surprise today, too!”

    “What are you talking about?”

    “You will see, my friend! Onward!”

    -:-

    Concordia and Anthea screamed as Chaos’s limp body crashed into the forcefield wall of their prison. They’d been snapped out of their usual blank states by the fury Ghetsis had worked himself into.

    “You had him right in front of you and YOU LET HIM GO?!” Ghetsis picked Chaos up by the neck again, much like how he had done before throwing him, and slammed him into the barrier a second time. “That warped boy is key to my rise!”

    “P-please forgive me, L-Lord Ghetsis…” It was a struggle for Chaos to speak with Ghetsis’s hand around his neck. “I was… ambushed. It would have taken all three of us…”

    “I’ll have none of it!”

    Whipping around, Ghetsis flung Chaos across the floor, leaving him in a crumpled heap. He then lurched over to the ninja and pinned the white-haired man’s head under the end of his cane.

    “Matt Chiaki and his friends… that woman is not natural… I almost had to use the genetic suppressant on her to get her off me…”

    “Finally, you say something actually useful,” fumed Ghetsis as he removed his cane from Chaos’s cheek. Moving toward the door, he said out loud without looking over his shoulder, “I’ll have Matt Chiaki dealt with before he ever becomes a problem to me.” He then turned the very top of his cane’s handle to trigger a mechanism inside, and held the knob up near his mouth. “Zinzolin!”

    “Lord Ghetsis!” responded a rough, ragged voice from the other end of the communicator.

    “Give me an update on the status of the protest.”

    “It’s progressing nicely. The people of Violet City have taken your words to heart and are demanding answers from Gym Leader Falkner. He hasn’t come out yet, in fact, his only response has been to shut down the Gym for the day.”

    “We’ll worry about him later. Listen, I’ve got a new mission for you. It turns out that our little prince is in the Pokémon Center in Violet City. Before you collect him, though, I want you to find Matt Chiaki and take him out. Do what you must to complete the mission.”

    “Consider it done, Lord Ghetsis.”

    -:-

    Much like the lobby of his school, Earl’s office was a cluttered place. Books and folders were scattered about the office, while still more award certificates lined the walls.

    The door of the office groaned heavily as Earl pushed it open to allow himself and his guests inside. Almost immediately, the three students waiting within jumped up, greeting the group as they came in; one of the two girls in the trio had a significantly delayed reaction, as if she failed to notice anything until the others had risen.

    “Welcome back, Dad!” the girl who had gotten up immediately exclaimed. “Did you get what you promised us?”

    “I always keep my promises, Avril,” Dominic cheerfully replied. “I promised a surprise, and here
    he is!”

    Realizing after a brief moment that Dominic was referring to him as the surprise, Matt shrugged and sighed, “So you promised them you’d convince me to come here, eh?”

    “You all get caught up.” Earl clapped one of his large hands on Matt’s shoulder and the other on Dominic’s, then lumbered over to his desk, which was just as messy as the rest of his office. He pressed the button on the desk’s intercom system and said into it, “Would the teacher of Class 2-A come to my office, please?”

    “So these are your kids, then, Dominic?”

    “Indeed, Matt, they are. Please, meet Avril, my youngest…” Dominic gestured first to the girl who had verbally greeted him. Like the others, she was wearing a blue-and-black school uniform, and despite being the youngest of Dominic’s three children, she physically looked at least two years older than Olivia.

    “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” she said to Matt, her voice carrying an innate sound of confidence bordering on arrogance. “Your battle at the Battle Arcade was very entertaining to watch.”

    “And this is Monroe, the middle of the three…”

    The boy was much more timid in nature than his sister. He made little of an attempt to directly engage Matt or anyone else, merely saying in a shaky voice, “H-Hello.”

    “And finally, my oldest, Helena.”

    The eldest of the three, Helena, towered over her siblings. She stood calmly by, running her hand through her red hair, not speaking at first.

    It was then that Matt finally realized that Monroe was signing rapidly to her, communicating everything going on in a flurry of masterful hand motions.

    “She’s deaf?” Bunny spoke, putting words to the feeling of surprise the group of four shared.

    “Since birth.”

    Each of Helena’s steps was slow and measured, carrying a dignified air. She directly approached Matt and extended a hand to him.

    “I am honored to meet you, sir.”

    The mere fact that Helena was able to speak was enough shock Matt still, but beyond that, her voice was surprisingly smooth and refined, capturing her ladylike demeanor perfectly. Matt eventually did manage to shake her hand, but his surprise didn’t wear off, and he directed a puzzled gaze over toward Dominic.

    Understanding immediately what Matt was confused by, Dominic beckoned him over and quietly explained, “She didn’t want to let her disability stop her from speaking normally, so I got some Psychic-type Pokémon to help me teach her how. It wasn’t easy, and either Avril or Monroe signs for her when they can, but I’m very proud of her and all the work she did to overcome it.”

    Meanwhile, while Matt and Dominic were talking, Helena had turned her attention to Nekou. “I like your necklace,” she said, pointing at the piece of jewelry around Nekou’s neck.

    “What? Oh, this.” Nekou briefly flinched, but she quickly recovered and lifted the pendant from her chest to show it off. Its gem was in the shape of an eight-pointed star whose upper diagonal points were colored red, lower diagonal points shaded light blue and four straight points hued in dark purple. “It’s very precious to me. I got it in Whitegold City.”

    Monroe quickly signed to interpret Nekou’s words for Helena, and once she understood what was said, she smiled warmly. “It’s a Victory Star, then. It’s very pretty.”

    Just then, the sound of something tapping against the office’s door interrupted the conversation. Whatever caused the mysterious noise persistently tapped against the door for a few seconds, before abruptly stopping. The handle turned, and the door opened to allow a woman inside. The source of the tapping turned out to be her walking stick, which provided her with the sense of her surroundings that her cloudy eyes could not give her. She had striking blue hair that curled down her back like clouds, and an Arcanine was walking closely by her side for additional support.

    “You called me, Earl?”

    “Amanda!” Matt instantly gasped, having been overcome by pleasant surprise.

    “Big brother!” Amanda’s emotions rose in a very similar fashion. She first sharply turned her head in the direction of Matt’s voice, then rushed in his direction, crashing into him in a reckless attempt at an embrace.

    “See? I told you I had a surprise for you!” Earl said jovially. “A reunion of brother and sister!”

    “Miss Chiaki is the little sister of Matt Chiaki after all,” Avril said out loud. “Now I believe it.”

    “Amanda, you’re a teacher here now?” This question was the only coherent thing that came to Matt’s mind right away. He was so internally consumed by emotions – joy in seeing his sister for the first time in a while, pride in the accomplishments she’d been implied to have made, sadness that she still struggled with her blindness – that he couldn’t put many words to those thoughts.

    Separating herself from her brother, Amanda gently shook her head. “Not permanently. I’m just taking some time to do something on my own for a while.”

    “But you didn’t tell your students you’re Matt’s sister?” Olivia suddenly piped up.

    “Huh?” Amanda turned her head in confusion, trying to perceive where the voice was coming from. “Olivia?”

    “Yeah, it’s me. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”

    “Several years now,” Amanda replied with a smile. “Anyway, I didn’t tell Avril and my other students about my brother because I didn’t want to live in his shadow. I wanted them to look up to me because they wanted to, not because of who my brother is.”

    “Aw, come on, Amanda, don’t give me that much credit,” Matt chuckled in an attempt to sound humble. “All of us know you’re far more skilled as a trainer than I am.”

    “You know what would be inspiring to my students? Let’s you and I show them a battle between the two of us! You really are better than you give yourself credit for!”

    “That’s a great idea!” Earl quickly interrupted. “I’ll run ahead and get everything set in the outdoor battlefield!”

    Bounding across the office, Earl was gone in a flash, leaving a mass of exasperation in his wake. Even Dominic found himself a bit stunned at the headmaster’s enthusiasm.

    “I guess my answer is yes,” Matt sighed. “It doesn’t matter, though. I was going to say yes anyway.”

    “Matt, you don’t stand a chance. Not even my dad could beat Amanda, remember?”

    Closing his eyes, Matt thought back to five years earlier. Back then, Amanda had been the champion of a regional competition, and Olivia’s father Rich earned the chance to battle her. He failed completely against Amanda, however, at least in no small part because of her tactics throwing him off. She had in her team of Pokémon a Zoroark, a Pokémon with powers of illusion. Those powers made it possible for her to disguise the Dark-type Zoroark as a Hariyama, which drew Rich into attempting repeatedly to damage what he believed was a Fighting-type Pokémon. Amanda ended up winning the match without losing a single one of her Pokémon.

    “Well, at least this time I know she has Zoroark,” he finally said, slowly reopening his eyes. “Rich had no idea what he was up against.”

    “Wait, before we go…” Dominic spoke up, “would you be willing to see the Pokémon my kids have as well?”

    “I would like to,” answered Olivia. “Matt, hold up.”

    “I see someone hasn’t changed much,” Amanda said, smiling once again. “Avril, Monroe and Helena have some interesting Pokémon. I think you’ll like them.”

    “May I go first?” Helena volunteered, having stayed fully updated on the situation through Monroe’s signing. “Klink, come out!”

    Helena took the single Poké Ball she possessed from her waist and opened it, producing a burst of energy. The Pokémon it turned into had the form of two interlocking silver gears with six teeth and a simple face on each gear.

    “It looks familiar, but not exactly like what I remember…” Olivia commented as she took out her Pokédex.

    “Klink, the Gear Pokémon. Type is Steel. Two bodies comprise a fixed pair. They spin around each other to generate energy.”

    “I know, it’s a previous evolution of Klinklang,” Bunny guessed.

    “That’s correct!” Helena confirmed once she was aware of what Bunny had said. “Do you like my Klink? It’s been my friend for a long time now.”

    “It’s cute, and it should be strong once it evolves. I’d like to battle you later on.”

    “I’ll look forward to that day, Olivia.”

    “I… guess I’m next.” Monroe’s manner continued to be as timid as ever, even as he opened up his own Poké Ball. “Vanillite, I ask you to come out.”

    Whereas Klink was fairly straightforward in appearance, Monroe’s Vanillite was more unusual, appearing to be a small ice cream cone with a wide-eyed, smiling face on top of a body made of ice and snow.

    “Vanillite, the Fresh Snow Pokémon. Type is Ice. Theoretically, this Pokémon formed from icicles bathed in energy from the morning sun. Their breath is -58° F.”

    Another difference between Vanillite and Klink was that Vanillite was a lot more outgoing, floating right up to Olivia and laughing.

    “Aren’t you a cute one?” she said to the Ice-type, laughing along with her. “I just love you!”

    “Thank you…”

    Avril scoffed at the praise Olivia was heaping upon her brother. “If you think that thing is a good Pokémon, wait until you put your eyes on what I’ve got. Servine, go!”

    Much like his trainer, the green, vaguely serpentine Pokémon that emerged from Avril’s Poké Ball had a haughty, arrogant air about himself. Balancing on tiny legs, he stretched his body to its full height and cast a scornful look downward upon Klink and Vanillite.

    “Servine, the Grass Snake Pokémon. Type is Grass. Evolved form of Snivy, When it gets dirty, its leaves can't be used in photosynthesis, so it always keeps itself clean.”

    “Wait a minute…” Remembering something, Olivia hesitated. “Snivy was one of the three Pokémon Professor Juniper said she could offer me, but it specifically was missing. Are you the one who got Snivy?”

    “The one and only.” Putting her hands on her hips, Avril leaned forward and smugly asked, “Did you get stuck with one of those inferior ones that were left?”

    “He is not inferior!”

    “Then let’s see him.”

    Without a second thought, Olivia pressed the button to open Oshawott’s Poké Ball. He materialized looking sleepy and still missing his shell, prompting both Avril and her Servine to laugh.

    “Wow, you didn’t even take the good one,” she taunted, “but then again, someone who’s childish in both body and spirit taking a childish Pokémon makes sense!”

    “Avril!” Dominic snapped, showing a seriousness that he hadn’t before. “Behave yourself!”

    “Fine, fine. But let me ask one thing. What happened to its shell?”

    “It got broken in a battle with a Gurdurr yesterday.”

    Avril managed to suppress another outburst of laughing into little more than a snicker, and she walked toward the door with Servine. “You better pay attention outside and learn something, because you’re gonna need it.”

    With that, Avril and Servine left Earl’s office, letting the door slam behind them as they departed. Their sudden exit left Olivia seething in silence over the flood of condescending insults she’d just faced.

    “Please, accept my apologies,” Dominic hurriedly said as he too went for the door. “I’ll deal with her.”

    “Is she always like this?” Matt questioned once Dominic was out the door.

    “It wouldn’t be proper of me to discuss that in front of so many people,” Amanda replied.

    “Oh, well, I understand. Let’s just go meet up with Earl then.”

    As the remaining group headed out, Monroe approached Olivia. “I’m sorry about my sister. She gets really mean a lot.”

    “Yeah, I figured.” Though she initially didn’t look at him, Olivia did eventually turn to Monroe. “Thanks for that.”

    -:-

    Outside, next to the school building, there was a small battlefield, flanked by a three-tiered bleacher structure. The children comprising Amanda’s class filled said bleachers; Avril, Helena and Monroe were all sitting together in the front row, with Klink, Vanillite and Servine nearby, while Olivia, Nekou and Bunny were nearby.

    Matt and Amanda, meanwhile, each stood in squares on opposing sides of a battlefield etched in white paint on the grass. Having taken on the role of referee for the match, Dominic positioned himself at a point near the middle of the battleground, while Earl stood, arms crossed, next to the students in the stands.

    “This battle will be between Pokémon Academy instructor Amanda and her challenger, Matt!” Dominic announced to the onlookers. “It will be a full six-on-six Double Battle that ends when all of one side’s Pokémon have fainted. Begin!”

    “I’ll take the lead!” Amanda forcefully declared, shedding her quiet demeanor from earlier. “Big brother, see if you can keep up with me! Hariyama, Arcanine, come into the light!”

    Amanda, despite her inability to see, had no difficulty taking two Poké Balls from the waist of her gray suit and throwing them. Two large-bodied Pokémon, Hariyama and Arcanine, appeared from them and landed, crashing their immense weight into the ground. Hariyama growled and struck a pose to show off his readiness for battle, and Arcanine simply howled. Both had an air of great discipline.

    “Boy, Amanda, you sure aren’t going easy on me, are you?”

    “Of course not, so don’t you go easy on me either!”

    Matt took a step back. In the very back of his head, behind how much he admired Amanda’s courageous attitude, he actually felt somewhat intimidated by having to face her.

    “F-fine, I won’t go easy at all!” he sputtered, throwing out a regular Poké Ball alongside a Dusk Ball. “Hethna and Tanya, make your mark!”

    Two more large, heavy Pokémon – Matt’s Golurk and Heatran – entered the battle to oppose Amanda’s pair. Both of them appreciated their opponents on equal footing with themselves, although Hethna – whom Matt had only recently captured, and thus did not know Amanda or her Pokémon – immediately was overcome with an instinct to defend its trainer and allies from what it perceived as threats.

    The students in the stands started cheering and talking excitedly over the Pokémon they were seeing, especially Heatran, a minor Legendary Pokémon. From his vantage point next to the bleachers, Earl found himself lost in thought.

    “If he were still with us, Sutter would be proud. His grandkids are sure putting on a hell of a show for these kids.”

    “Arcanine, Close Combat!”

    Before Matt could react, Amanda’s Arcanine was on top of Tanya, striking her with a flurry of vicious blows. Each hit was fueled by the powerful muscles in Arcanine’s legs, lending the assault enough strength to not only shove the nearly half-ton Heatran back significantly, but to also break chips out of her steel armor. All of this came at the price of leaving Arcanine worn out and panting for air, his body weakened against any potential counterattacks.

    “Tanya, hold steady!” Having his Heatran put on the defensive so quickly was not the scenario Matt had envisioned at the start of the battle.

    “Are you already beaten, big brother?” Amanda taunted him, albeit in her usual endearing way. “Don’t tell me it’s over already!”

    “It’s nowhere near over, Amanda. Try this on for size! Tanya, target Arcanine with Earth Power! Hethna, get Hariyama with Shadow Punch!”

    “Hurry, Hariyama, use Role Play on Hethna!”

    Orange light radiated from Tanya’s feet, indicative of the energy that soon surged through the ground and exploded beneath Arcanine, cracking the earth and pitching the imposing Fire-type onto his side.

    Amanda could perceive her Pokémon’s injury even without seeing it by the howl of pain he let out. “Arcanine, hold firm...” she whispered.

    Meanwhile, Hariyama extended one of his arms in Hethna’s direction and briefly became enveloped in a Golurk-shaped shadow. The real Golurk struck Hariyama cleanly in the stomach with a blast of shadow shaped like a clenched fist that came from its own arm.

    “Hm,” Matt grunted, calculating exactly what Amanda was planning. As soon as he realized what she had just done, his mind and heart began to race. “Hurry, both of you!” he called out, gesturing wildly all the while. “Stop Hariyama with Flash Cannon and Shadow Punch!”

    “Big brother, don’t underestimate me for even a moment!” Amanda shouted while tightening her grip on her walking stick. “Arcanine, strike Hethna with Flare Blitz! Hariyama, take Tanya head-on with DynamicPunch!”

    All four Pokémon made their moves nearly simultaneously as chaos broke out on the battlefield. Amanda’s Arcanine was the first to land a blow, roaring through the clash in a veil of fire to collide with Hethna, knocking the Golurk onto its back and inadvertently dissipating its Shadow Punch.

    While Arcanine collapsed onto Hethna, Tanya managed to take aim at Hariyama and launch a wide beam of bright, shining silver light. Hariyama was undeterred by any possible danger this presented, however, and simply charged right into it with his right arm pulled back. Slowly but surely, he pushed through the continuing assault of Tanya’s Flash Cannon, and once she was within his reach, he swung with all his might.

    The resulting collision of Hariyama’s fist with Tanya’s face caused a loud, echoing metallic sound to ring through the area. Despite her immense weight, Tanya ended up getting flung through the air like a ragdoll, ultimately crashing into and crushing a nearby tree. She slumped down onto the ground and stopped moving.

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  20. #70
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    “Heatran is unable to continue battling!” Dominic announced, his voice somewhat drowned out by the excited chatter of the students behind him.

    “Amanda just tossed aside a Legendary Pokémon like that...” Bunny said in awe. “She really is strong…”

    “I wonder how she got to be so much more powerful than Matt is,” Nekou scoffed, taking a bite out of the frosted croissant in her hand.

    “Well, I do think he’s doing a little better than my dad did against her,” Olivia offered in Matt’s defense.

    “Tanya, return!” As Matt sent Tanya back inside her Dusk Ball and returned the sphere to his bag, Hethna rose back to its feet, its chest covered with a large burn mark. “Amanda, that was… really something. You figured out that Hethna’s ability is Iron Fist?”

    “I had a hunch. I knew that if I copied Hethna’s ability and it turned out to be Iron Fist, defeating Tanya would be no big deal at all.”

    “I shouldn’t have put it past you,” he said, smiling. Having come to view Amanda as a true opponent and not just his sister, Matt narrowed his focus off of the spectators and resolved to at least give her a challenge.

    Before he could throw the Poké Ball he’d selected, Matt found himself overcome by a sudden blast of cold air. His body immediately began to spasm.

    “Wh...what…”

    “What’s goi…”

    Running with only her sight, Helena had already traced the source of the disruption. She pointed into the air and unwittingly interrupted Bunny by yelling, “Up there!”

    “****!” Nekou spat once she saw the blue blur in the sky above Matt. “Get out of there!”

    As Matt was unable to move due to the cold, Nekou sprinted in and dragged him off to the bleachers, where Bunny and Olivia immediately clustered around him. Dominic, meanwhile, climbed to shield his three children in the stands themselves.

    Amanda, meanwhile, was lost. Without her ability to see what was going on, she was completely in the dark, as all she could hear was the increasingly loud confusion of her students. “Big brother!” she called out, “what’s going on? Earl?!”

    “Amanda, shield yourself!” was all Earl could shout back.

    The blur had since stopped spinning, revealing itself as a hexagonal snowflake Pokémon with a body of reflective blue ice. Two glowing eyes peered out from inside its body, and chains of ice crystals hung from its mouth.

    “Cryo-gonal!” it cried in a voice that sounded as if it were electronically distorted. Setting its eyes on Amanda, the Cryogonal took a deep breath and expelled another gust of icy air. However, Arcanine, Hariyama and Hethna all jumped into action, leaping between Amanda and Cryogonal to protect her from the Frost Breath attack.

    Once she appeared safe, Earl hurried to Amanda’s side. The students in the stands by this point had all seen Cryogonal and were rapidly becoming more and more unsettled.

    “What…?” Matt groaned as he gradually came to. “Where’d that cold air come from?”

    “That Cryogonal,” Olivia pointed out, breaking from the circle surrounding Matt so she could point to the floating Ice-type Pokémon. “It looks different than the one we saw before, though…”

    “What’s a wild Cryogonal doing here?” Monroe asked Avril, before signing the same question to Helena.

    “I don’t think that’s a wild Cryogonal,” Avril replied almost immediately, pointing off in the direction where the Cryogonal had seemingly come from.

    Having breached the fence on the edge of the school’s property, the crowd of protesters who had been picketing Violet Gym earlier in the day advanced toward the battlefield. Leading them was a stout, elderly man wrapped in a thick purple coat whose heavy boots left deep footprints behind in the ground. At his side walked a Jynx and a Weavile, and Cryogonal soon joined them.

    “Zinzolin…” Nekou quietly seethed, her voice not rising above a whisper.

    “H-huh?” Matt’s shivering was slowly subsiding, but he was still far from well.

    “He’s another of Ghetsis’s goons.” Standing, Nekou stared at Zinzolin and angrily added, “These ****ing guys keep coming, and they’re clearly involved with Polaris...”

    Zinzolin stopped his advance once he was nearly on the battlefield and turned around. In his thickly-gloved hand, he had a megaphone that he raised to his mouth. “Halt!”

    The somewhat-civil mob of protesters following him heeded his order and stopped as well. They continued making a significant amount of noise with their attempts to shout over each other, but they remained more or less in line.

    “Before you stands a symbol of the system that has so corrupted our way of life,” Zinzolin explained to the protesters through his megaphone. “Earl’s Pokémon Academy… it is merely a factory to which we supply the raw materials of our children and they are manufactured into the next generation of believers in the ideal of becoming Pokémon masters! Consider how many of them fall by the wayside, forever struggling in the wilderness if they’re even lucky enough to survive... that a place like this would even exist to introduce our children into such a system is preposterous!”

    While he was not quite as eloquent as Ghetsis, Zinzolin more than held his own as a speaker. His words held the attention of the protesters, whose internal discussion grew in volume as Zinzolin turned slowly to face Matt and the others.

    “And look who is pushing these ideas into innocent young minds… two people who have so little regard for the divine grace of life that they have fouled their bodies using modifications of modern technology. Indeed, Matt and Amanda Chiaki have straddled the boundary of life and death!”

    “Silence yourself!” At long last, Amanda shot something back at Zinzolin. Even though she wasn’t directing her blank eyes directly at him, she clearly had a basic idea of where he was standing. “What you say is false! Because big brother and I have suffered and used what we could to recover does not make us bad people. Ask any of my students, who until you ruined it were having quite a pleasurable class today!”

    “I see you have some fighting spirit in you. How curious. But, what good would asking any of your students accomplish? Their minds are already poisoned by your lies.”

    “We will battle, then…” Amanda growled at the strangely-clothed old man, “…and when I defeat you, you will leave.”

    “Don’t count your Torchic before they hatch, girl.” Zinzolin had begun plucking more of his Poké Balls from the black bands wrapping around his coat. “I am not the right hand of Polaris’s spokesman for nothing!”

    With that, Zinzolin threw the three remaining Poké Balls. One of them was a blue-and-red Great Ball, which released a Glalie. The two others were regular Poké Balls, one containing an Empoleon and the other letting out a Pokémon that looked like a bigger Vanillite.

    “He has Vanillish, Miss Chiaki!” Monroe called to Amanda. “Vanillite’s evolved form!”

    “Those Torchic aren’t just already hatched,” Amanda sternly reproached her adversary, “they hatched, matured and laid eggs of their own. Take this!”

    Amanda called forth her remaining four Pokémon to join Hariyama and Arcanine. A Snorlax appeared, as did a Gothitelle, who was a feminine, humanoid creature who appeared to be wearing a black dress with many conical sections and white bows. She also possessed a Pokémon very similar to Vanillite and Vanillish but with two heads, with a straw-like protrusion coming from one. Her final Pokémon was her Zoroark, who was a fox Pokémon with a lean black body and a thick black-and-red mane.

    “We of Polaris stand for the people,” Zinzolin declared. “Bring your worst!”

    “Gladly! I’ll make you regret asking for it! Zoroark, use Flamethrower, and Arcanine, use Wild Charge!”

    “Cryogonal, bring in Hail! Glalie, follow with Blizzard!”

    Amanda’s Arcanine shrouded himself in sparking yellow electricity and forcefully tackled Empoleon, who made no effort to dodge. This was to buy time for Cryogonal, who was flying overhead, to cry out to the sky. That cry caused dark clouds to gather, which in turn soon gave rise to a steady hailstorm.

    These conditions made it ideal for Glalie’s move, as the hailstorm gave greater range to his icy blast. Zoroark dropped her budding Flamethrower and instead formed a shield of glowing hexagons of light in front of herself. Despite this, Amanda’s other Pokémon still were subject to the harsh attack, but they all weathered it well, at least on an immediately apparent level.

    Meanwhile, Nekou, Bunny and Olivia clustered even more tightly around Matt, who was shivering and beginning to lapse out of consciousness from the persistent cold.

    “Don’t you black out on me!” Nekou yelled at him. “You can’t just let a little ****ing cold stop you!”

    “Zoroark, stay over by big brother and use Protect to keep him from getting colder,” Amanda said, having heard Nekou’s shouting. Zoroark immediately followed this direction, freeing up Amanda’s attention so she could once again focus on the battle. “Snorlax, Heavy Slam! Vanilluxe, Signal Beam!”

    “Don’t get overconfident! Jynx, use Sweet Kiss!”

    A glowing light in the shape of a pair of lips emerged from Jynx’s face and washed over Amanda’s Snorlax as he stood, leaving him wobbling in confusion. He overcame it, though, and managed to leap high into the air. Alongside him, Amanda’s ice cream-like Vanilluxe gathered energy at the tip of her straw and fired a rainbow-colored beam from it.

    Seeing these two attacks barreling toward his Pokémon, Zinzolin hastily ordered, “Weavile and Empoleon, block those with Blizzard and Drill Peck!”

    Weavile opened her mouth and exhaled an icy gale right into the Signal Beam heading her way, while Empoleon leapt into the air while spinning rapidly, hoping to deflect Snorlax away from Jynx. Neither counter worked, however, and both Weavile and Empoleon were struck down. Snorlax then landed squarely on Jynx, crushing her under his immense weight. His weight, combined with the fact that Heavy Slam was a Steel-type move and thus super-effective on the partially Ice-type Jynx, left her completely unconscious when Snorlax rolled over off of her.

    Zinzolin grunted, then recalled Jynx while Amanda called Snorlax back herself. “Well played, curious trainer. But, this is not yet over. It’s about time I showed you the true power Polar…”

    “Gothitelle, attack Empoleon with Thunderbolt!” Amanda called out, interrupting Zinzolin’s attempt at a lecture.

    “Goth-ii!” Gothitelle shrilled in her deep, womanly voice. Lightning shot out from her body and arced through the air, ultimately making contact with and electrocuting Empoleon. Due to the accidental damage Empoleon had suffered during his attempt at stopping Snorlax, he couldn’t weather Thunderbolt, and he collapsed.

    “You were saying?” Amanda taunted a moment later.

    “You will not stand in the way of progress, abomination!” fumed Zinzolin as he recalled a Pokémon for the second time in less than a minute. “It’s time I opened up another front in this battle,” he stated, turning his head to Amanda herself. “Cryogonal, Flash Cannon. Weavile, Glalie, use Blizzard. Vanillish, Ice Beam. All of you, target that monster brainwashing these children!”

    Amanda immediately gasped in horror; this was what it took to finally cause her to panic. “You won’t hurt my students!!” she screamed, apparently misunderstanding Zinzolin’s intentions and not realizing that he was targeting her. “Arcanine, Hariyama, Gothitelle, Vanilluxe, stop them!”

    Amanda’s Pokémon, however, were too slow to respond. Zinzolin’s four remaining Pokémon all powered up and released their attacks simultaneously in the blink of an eye.

    Seeing the combined strength of two Blizzards, a Flash Cannon and an Ice Beam going towards their teacher, some of the students began fleeing while screaming in fear, while others froze up and didn’t know what to do. Dominic pulled Avril, Helena and Monroe close, intending to shield them himself if he had to.

    Thankfully, it never came to that. Hethna lurched in between Amanda and Zinzolin’s assault, taking all the power infused in the four attacks itself. Hethna couldn’t stand up any longer after taking so many powerful hits at once, and wobbled back and forth briefly before falling forward, its front completely covered in ice.

    Amanda’s Pokémon charged forward at their enemies, who were now left wide open. Hariyama attacked first by sending a barrage of jagged stones at Weavile. He then played a second use when Arcanine leaped off his head to gain the altitude necessary to hit Cryogonal with the blazing body slam of Flare Blitz. Glalie ended up the target of both Gothitelle and Vanilluxe, who double-teamed him using Psyshock and a red, pulsing Hyper Beam.

    “H-How dare you!” Zinzolin sputtered in indignation, having to recall his fainted Glalie, Weavile and Cryogonal all at once. “I will defeat you! I still have Vanillish!”

    “It’s over now. Zoroark!”

    All too suddenly, Zinzolin realized the critical error he’d made – he had written off Zoroark for participation in the battle even though she was standing on the sidelines, ready to go at a moment’s notice. He could only watch as Zoroark landed right in front of Vanillish and hit him with a point-blank Flamethrower, rendering him fainted as well.

    “I…I…” For a brief moment, Zinzolin had visibly lost his nerve. His hands were shaking, and he bent over as if he were about to fall. He quickly recovered his composure, though, and took a deep breath before recalling Vanillish. “I have failed, and Lord Ghetsis will not be pleased with me. But do not let it be said that I am not a man of my word.”

    Turning back to the now-stunned protesters, Zinzolin once again raised his megaphone to his mouth.

    “Today’s protest is now concluded. Please, return to your homes and your ordinary lives. Polaris will speak to you again soon.”

    The protesters briefly became paralyzed by a collective sense of confusion as they attempted to understand what had just happened. “What about Falkner?” a man in the crowd called out.

    “It may be true that we have not yet obtained a statement from a Gym Leader addressing our concerns,” Zinzolin replied, “but we have effectively put our ideals upon a national stage. Be proud of what you accomplished today.”

    With their concerns largely soothed by Zinzolin’s explanation, the protesters slowly dispersed, heading back into the city one by one.

    Coming around to a sense of satisfaction with his work, Zinzolin started to leave as well. He was forced to stop, however, when he felt a hand grasping the back of his head.

    “You’re not going anywhere,” Nekou whispered to the old sage, digging her fingernails into his scalp ever so slightly. “At least, not until you tell me what’s going on.”

    “What makes you think I’d ever tell one of you people anything?” Zinzolin didn’t even seem slightly afraid. In fact, he looked relaxed. “You people are just common criminals with no larger sense of purpose beyond personal gain. We stand for justice in society.”

    “We have ways of making life very painful for you if you don’t give us the intel we want. Oh, and don’t lecture me about taking things for personal gain. The way I live is none of your ****ing business.” Tightening her grip on his head, she sneered, “Now talk.”

    “Hah! The suffering that comes through life is what makes me feel alive in the first place. There’s nothing one of you street thugs could do that would make me talk. I’d lay down my life in the service of Lord Ghetsis before I would ever help one of you.”

    “Have it your way.”

    “I know you haven’t got it in you to voluntarily kill me,” he said, even while feeling Nekou scratching his head even further, “so let me go now and let’s end this farce.”

    “Nekou, just let him go. He’s useless to us anyway.”

    Matt had approached Nekou without notice, and she struggled with what he said. Finally, she accepted that he was right about Zinzolin’s uselessness and released the elderly Polaris member from her grasp.

    “I don’t know if you’re one of them too or not,” Zinzolin stated without turning around, “but in our eyes, you are all the same. You best prepare yourself, because this idyllic world you live in will soon be turned inside out.”

    While Zinzolin walked off, rubbing the back of his head in an attempt to alleviate the pain caused by Nekou’s attack, Nekou herself immediately shot her attention to Matt.

    “Why’d you make me release him?! He could have given us valuable intelligence!”

    “There’s an even better source of potential information compared to an old man in a winter coat, and it’s right under our noses.” Matt nodded as he spoke. “Let’s make sure all of the students and everyone else are okay, then we’ll go to the Academy’s library.”

    -:-

    Several hours later, the sun had almost completely set over Johto, leaving Violet City covered by the soft glow of early moonlight and street lamps.

    A path on the northern end of the city, consisting of two bridges over a lake, led to a tall pagoda surrounded by trees. Olivia and Avril, who were approaching the structure, stopped on the small island halfway down the path to observe it from the light of the lanterns dotting the road.

    “So this is the Sprout Tower?” Olivia asked out loud. “It looks nice, but why bring me here exactly?”

    “I shouldn’t have expected a kid like you to know,” Avril scoffed. “They won’t let you challenge the Violet Gym in the first place unless you get approval from the Elder here.”

    “And I suppose that’s why you’re here, because you already got permission?” Olivia’s sarcastic taunt was said with full realization that Avril actually hadn’t done so either.

    Briefly at a loss for words, Avril hissed back, “I’m more than you’ll ever be, wait and watch. Have your laughs while you can.”

    “Oh, whatever. Let’s go.”

    Without speaking another word to each other, Olivia and Avril walked the rest of the way to the tower and entered, finding themselves inside an aged chamber constructed nearly entirely of wood. Statues of the Pokémon Bellsprout dotted the room, and a thick, swaying pillar stood at the center, piercing the ceiling to reach into the upper floors.

    “Greetings,” a bald-headed monk wearing a black robe said to the two young women as they entered the pagoda. “Welcome to Sprout Tower. Please state your purpose.”

    “I want permission to battle Falkner!” Avril demanded.

    “Hey, me too!” Olivia added.

    “Very well. If you wish to earn our Elder’s permission to battle Falkner, you must reach him on the third floor of our temple. Each of you, take one of the flights of stairs in the back of this chamber. On the above floor you will find a series of chambers where the monks here will test your worthiness for an audience with the Elder. May the gentle luck of the Bellsprout be with you both.”

    “I’m going to get up there and win before you even come close,” Avril boasted, putting her hands on her hips.

    “As if! I’ll leave you in the dust!”

    “You’re on, washboard!”

    -:-

    The many large wooden bookshelves in the school’s library made the room rather cramped and difficult to move around in. Bunny and Amanda were sitting together at a table on the far side of the library near a window; they weren’t alone for long, as Matt soon returned carrying a thick, heavy book that he dropped on the wooden surface.

    “This is the book you mentioned, Amanda,” Matt said as he sat down. “The one with information on Reshiram in it.”

    “Yes, big brother. If you’re looking for that Pokémon, there should be a hint in that book, based on what Earl’s told me.”

    “I thought Amanda couldn’t walk,” Bunny questioned Matt. “Did something change? What did that old man from Polaris mean about ‘modifying your bodies’ and ‘straddling the boundary of life and death?’”

    “Well, you see…” Taking a deep breath, Matt looked down at the table. His thoughts were difficult to process into words. “Like how my body was repaired with machinery to restore my mobility, Amanda has a pair of artificial legs now, so she doesn’t need her wheelchair anymore. My hope is to one day make a workable cybernetic eye so her sight can also be restored.”

    “I don’t think those Polaris people like it when humans modify themselves with machines,” Amanda observed.

    “No, it’s more than that. Bunny, do you remember what they said in Whitegold City? I don’t think it’s just humans… they oppose the blending of machinery and DNA, period. It’s all organic life.”

    “That’s right!” Bunny exclaimed. “The object of their worship is DNA itself, then.”

    “Based on what I recall, that would be correct. Something doesn’t add up, though… why would they be campaigning against the Pokémon League system, then?”

    “It’s all very frightening…” Amanda listlessly commented.

    “I agree,” Bunny concurred.

    “There is only one way to cut through all the mystery surrounding everything, and that’s to find Reshiram.” Opening the oversized volume, Matt quickly flipped through the pages until he found one displaying his target, a majestic, blue-eyed dragon with grand plumage on its white body.

    “There it is!”

    Nodding to Bunny in acknowledgment of her exclamation, Matt began reading out loud.

    “The Vast White Fire of Truth, Reshiram.

    Legend states that this creature was wielded by a hero centuries ago in Unova. It was once part of a single Pokémon along with Zekrom, and when they were split up, Kyurem was created. But what is the meaning of this? What brought about the splitting of this single Pokémon into three and how can such a thing even be possible? Modern science is unable to provide a certain answer, but theories exist.

    Research by Professor Lenora Hawes, director of the museum of archeology in Nacrene City, Unova, suggests that Reshiram, like Zekrom, does not have normal biology in terms humans ordinarily consider. Professor Hawes’s hypothesis states that Reshiram’s body is formed from the flames of truth it controls. This amorphous nature grants Reshiram the ability to alter its body structure, which is most well documented when it takes on the dormant form of the Light Stone. However, research on the last known Light Stone led Professor Hawes to a startling hypothesis regarding Reshiram’s origin – it may be impossible to locate Reshiram or the Light Stone in the traditional sense. Instead, Reshiram may be drawn to individuals who seek the truth with their entire being, hence why the essences of Reshiram and Zekrom were removed from the original Pokémon they once collectively were.”

    “It doesn’t have a fixed location? Is that possible?”

    “No, no, I won’t accept this!” Matt slammed his fist on the table, not even bothering to pay attention to Bunny’s question. “Reshiram has to be somewhere! I’m no hero, so the idea of finding it by matching the ancient hero’s drive for the truth… I can’t pull that off!”

    “Matt, think back to what Dante said!” Bunny pleaded, unwilling to simply sit by and watch Matt destroy himself with doubt. “Remember what you told me he said to you back on Route 29? ‘the Light Stone only appears before an individual who has put in overwhelming effort into finding the truth.’ That’s consistent with what it says here. We have to keep searching.”

    Nekou was watching Matt, Amanda and Bunny verbally spar over the Light Stone and Reshiram from a vantage point that mostly obscured her behind a bookcase. She was waiting for when she felt comfortable that they would not notice what she was doing.

    Several minutes passed before that feeling finally came. Nekou slid into the narrow aisle defined by the bookcases and removed her glasses, tossing them into a nearby garbage bin with a sharp flick of her wrist. She then took out a new pair that was more rectangular in shape with frames that didn’t cover the tops of the lenses, put them on, and tapped the left-hand stem. This activated a computer built into the glasses, and she used them to scan the shelves.

    “Where are you…” she uttered to herself. There was one particular book she wanted to find, and all of her attention was focused on locating it. After covering several rows of books, a signal on her computer glasses flashed. “Well, that wasn’t so hard.”

    Nekou switched off her glasses and pulled the book from its place on the shelf. It was not particularly thick, but she knew that it was nevertheless important despite its size.

    “A Documentation of Ancient Cultures and Peoples,” she read off the book’s heavy brown cover, “by Sutter Chiaki and Jacob Alexison.”

    Opening the book, Nekou skimmed the first page, which revealed that the tome was a collection of writings by Sutter and his then-young assistant, Jacob, centered around the study of its titular subjects. After peering around the bookcase again to confirm that Matt, Bunny and Amanda were still discussing Reshiram and thus not paying attention to her, Nekou thumbed through the book, bypassing several sections until she found the material she sought.

    “September 8, 1952 – Jacob and I have begun what we hope will be our most exciting study yet. We wish to find the holy land of the Tenganist people, which may be key to understanding how our world began, as it is said that the Tenganists of this era are descended from the first humans to live on Earth. Most notably, the people of this culture possess a power, Transcendence, with which they can harness powers similar to those of Pokémon. It is documented that they discovered a way to create an object called the Jewel of Life using the elemental Plates occasionally unearthed by archeologists. If we could discover this secret, we may be able to learn ways to help impoverished areas of the world. This is the purpose of our quest.

    October 12, 1952 – The original homeland of the Tenganists was near Mt. Coronet in Sinnoh, where our world took shape. However, they fanned out across the world. What we seek is the place where the most direct descendants of those original people now live. This is the holy land of the Tenganists and where the truth must lie. Our search will focus first on places in Sinnoh near Mt. Coronet.

    December 31, 1952 - We are spending New Years’ in Snowpoint City. Spent Christmas here too. This isn’t the place we’re looking for, although there are plenty of Tenganists here. It’s not Eterna or Oreburgh either.

    January 4, 1953 - We learned from the shrine maiden guarding Snowpoint Temple that we might be able to learn something in Celestic Town. As soon as this snow ends, we’ll be able to make it there.

    January 22, 1953 - A breakthrough? The people of Celestic Town seemed to know where what we seek is. We must go south, into the borderlands between Sinnoh and the Tohjo Continent. This may be the last entry for a while.

    September 5, 1953 – One year into our quest to find the Tenganist holy land, and we’ve had our biggest breakthrough yet! While visiting a Tenganist village in the borderland region, we met a young woman named Saeko Oryo. She is an oracle living in another village, whose Transcendence power is to see the past and future. Our previous research has indicated that the powers of prophecy – actual seeing, not merely premonition – are difficult to achieve by anyone other than the most pure-blooded Tenganists. When we asked her to take us to her home, she agreed. Has our work finally paid off?

    October 3, 1953 – Here in the snowy wasteland between Sinnoh and the Tohjo Continent, Jacob and I have found the Tenganist holy land! With the help of Saeko Oryo, of course. Without her, we would never have had the big breakthrough we did. This village is literally a time capsule… it’s like time doesn’t even pass here.

    October 31, 1953 – Neither of us wants to leave. We enjoy the company of Miss Oryo and the other Tenganists far too much, and this village is a lovely place, even if it is cold. –Jacob

    November 11, 1953 – Something strange is going on. I was spending some time with Saeko and she used her power. I think she saw something unusual in her vision.

    November 12, 1953 – The other people of the village are acting strangely around Jacob and I, and Saeko seems to have withdrawn. Something is definitely strange.”


    When her eyes glanced down to the last entry, Nekou’s blood ran cold. It was written in a different style than the others, coming across as panicked and terrified.

    “December 8, 1953 – It’s a disaster… the village elders decided to exile Jacob and I, and Saeko was sentenced to burn at the stake as a witch. But it’s not that simple. She tried to run. She ran, and in her desperation, she swallowed that little stone they hid away in the village, and now it’s burning and everyone is dead. Should anyone read this in the future, let it be a warning to you. Stay away from that accursed thing… that Jewel of Life… all it brings is despair! It is cursed! We should never have searched for it in the first place!”

    Rattled, Nekou closed the book, tucked it under her arm, and quietly headed to leave the library. “This changes things,” she thought to herself. “I have to find out more about what this means...”

    -:-

    “Ha! I made it here before you!”

    “Be quiet, you bottom feeder. I obviously set foot on this floor well before you!”

    For all of Olivia’s bragging and Avril’s insults, their race was too close to call. Both of them had reached the top floor of Sprout Tower at nearly the exact same time.

    “I see you have passed the tests posed by my followers.”

    Olivia and Avril turned themselves in the direction of the ragged voice. It belonged to an old, bald-headed man dressed in purple and gold robes, who was approaching them from his place of meditation in front of a Bellsprout mosaic.

    “Are you the Elder?” Olivia questioned.

    “I am. My name is Li, and I welcome you to the Sprout Tower! What have you learned from your training here? I would like the two of you to reflect on that. Since you came here, you must wish to challenge Falkner. I’m the final test before Violet Gym for the two of you. Which one of you will go first?”

    “I will!” Avril loudly declared, pushing Olivia aside.

    “You’re clearly very eager. What is your name, girl?”

    “Avril! And I’m going to be the Champion!”

    Li smiled under his thick white moustache. “Very well, Avril, I accept your challenge. Go, Bellsprout!”

    As soon as the Bellsprout emerged from Li’s Poké Ball, Avril took out and threw her own, a variant with a green top. The Nest Ball burst open, revealing a small, dinosaur-like Pokémon with a stout blue body and black fur growing on its neck and head.

    “That Pokémon is so cute!” Olivia squealed as she scanned the growling creature.

    “Deino, the Irate Pokémon. Type is Dark/Dragon. Lacking sight, it's unaware of its surroundings, so it bumps into things and eats anything that moves.”

    “Yeah, none of your Pokémon can measure up to her,” Avril snidely boasted regarding Deino. “Deino, open strong. Use Work Up!”

    “A wise tactic. I think I shall copy it. Bellsprout, Growth!”

    -:-

    Dr. Zager was working intently on collecting intelligence from RChannel when he heard the door of his laboratory open. Before he knew it, Jessie was towering over him, holding him up by the collar.

    “Why didn’t you tell us everything?!” she cried out. Zager needed a moment before he noticed a tear in the corner of her eye.

    “What are you talking about?” Dr. Zager was genuinely naďve of what Jessie was so upset over. He tried to pry her hands off of his collar, but failed.

    “You didn’t warn us about what the Meteonite could really do,” James explained as he entered alongside Ariana. “Because of that… Polaris brainwashed Meowth into joining them!”

    “What?!”

    When Zager started coughing, Ariana ordered, “Jessie, put him down now or I’ll have you written up for insubordination.”

    “Fine.”

    Jessie didn’t let go of Zager as much as she simply dropped him, and he came close to falling down once he landed. She then fumed back over to rejoin James and Ariana. Meanwhile, Galvantula was hiding under the laboratory table.

    “Explain what you’re saying,” the doctor demanded.

    “The Team Plasma members who are in Polaris attacked us and we got into a fight with them. During the battle the Meteonite became destabilized, and when Meowth touched it, it changed him. Ariana came to take Jessie and I to you before things got any worse.”

    “So help us, Doctor!” Jessie added.

    “I’m…” It was difficult for Zager to accept what he was being told. Beneath his occasionally gruff demeanor, he did genuinely care about those under his command, so he felt a strong desire to get Meowth back as well. On the other hand, though, he knew far more than Jessie, James or even Ariana just how hard defeating Polaris would be. “I’m afraid I can’t do anything right now but contact the boss for help. Do you have the R-Pad?”

    “Right here,” Jessie said as she held the computer up.

    “Then we shall get to the data analysis right away.” Zager narrowed his eyes, and his face became darker. “What could Polaris actually be planning?”

    -:-

    Polaris’s Adenosine Base stood in the Johto ocean like a massive iron monolith supported by legs on four small islands. The brisk sea breeze blew over the structure as it sat under the bright moonlight.

    On one of the four islands, a vast landing area was set up. Several scientists were there, as was Finansielle, the winds blowing the sheer cape running down from her armor to cover the nightgown she wore underneath.

    Soon, a large, military-grade helicopter came from over the surface of the sea and settled into hovering over the ring of lights on the landing pad. Its pilot carefully guided the craft downward, landing with little fuss.

    A staircase emerged from the side of the chopper and descended in front of Finansielle and the scientists. The cabin door opened, and a blonde, bespectacled man in a flowing white lab coat stepped out. He walked calmly down the stairs and only stopped once he was face-to-face with Finansielle.

    “Dr. Colress Antimony, as I live and breathe,” Polaris’s financier greeted him. “Welcome to the Adenosine Base. We shall help you finish your work on Pokémon strength here.”

    “So you’re Finansielle, then?” Colress asked, twirling his finger through the long curl of blue hair that wrapped around his head. “I’m looking forward to getting to work. The key of the latent potential of Pokémon…”

    “Did you bring those objects I requested?”

    “Yes, I did.” Upon Finansielle’s request, Colress held up the briefcase he’d been carrying and opened it, revealing two sharp pins colored in stripes of blue, black and white preserved in orange fluid.

    Immediately upon seeing them, Finansielle breathed heavily. “The DNA Splicers… finally, after so long, the key to Polaris’s promised world is finally in our possession…”

    “I’ll be more than happy to help you reach that world, too. My expertise will be necessary to create the perfect DNA that we both seek.”





    END of CHAPTER 7

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  21. #71
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    Since I can't go blow by blow with these reviews, since my memory isn't as nearly as fresh with the material as before and in an effort to catch up, I'll point out key things.

    Chapter 1

    *Professor Zager's characterization and normal behaviors were pretty spot-on for some of his character.
    *Kiss of Death, killer. I wonder if this is foreshadowing an encounter or if it was simple throwaway dialogue.
    *The dynasty-ish group of Pokemon-masked people has me interested. Wonder what's up with them.
    *Your characterization for Team Rocket was pretty spot-on.
    *Professor Juniper being in place for Professor Elm, seemed a tad weird.
    *Seems like the Unova Dragons will be playing a part in this story as well.

    Chapter 2

    *The Battle was decently written, so Renzo is the rival for Olivia? :O Seems a bit upper crust and overbearing.
    *Olivia certainly did get on my nerves a bit with her constant whining over Totodile. How old is she again? She was so ungrateful.
    *Nice throwback to the anime where Juniper and Fennel were college roommates.
    *Didn't quite understand why Olivia was in need of a starter Pokemon, she has a Minccino and Roselia.
    *Oshawott's personality gave me the vibes of a toned down anime Oshawott, it was cute.
    *I thought Zager's spider was pretty cute, cool expansion right there.
    *So, Olivia is aiming for Gym Badges and Contest, reminds me of Nando in a way. Though it's a fun goal since I really enjoy both of those.
    *Nekou's bad bitch personality was fun no doubt.
    *The fact Olivia does what she does in an attempt to bring back her father seems interesting, though I can't help but wonder about her with her age and all and how long Matt has been keeping this a secret from her. It almost seems cruel to let her walk this path without letting her know sincerely her father is dead and not coming back. It almost seems pretty insulting toward her intelligence that they would continue to deceive her with the false notions her father is living.

  22. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doryuzu View Post
    Since I can't go blow by blow with these reviews, since my memory isn't as nearly as fresh with the material as before and in an effort to catch up, I'll point out key things.
    That's perfectly okay.

    Chapter 1

    *Professor Zager's characterization and normal behaviors were pretty spot-on for some of his character.
    Thank you. He's someone I wanted to get in.

    *Kiss of Death, killer. I wonder if this is foreshadowing an encounter or if it was simple throwaway dialogue.
    Always assume everything means something.

    *The dynasty-ish group of Pokemon-masked people has me interested. Wonder what's up with them.
    They're the leaders of the Polaris organization, so in other words, they're very important.

    *Your characterization for Team Rocket was pretty spot-on.
    I continue to be surprised by how well-received they are. Of all the characters, they were the ones I was worried about writing the most.

    *Professor Juniper being in place for Professor Elm, seemed a tad weird.
    I wanted to give a slight spin to the usual "trainer gets starter Pokemon from the regional professor" device, and it will come back to be relevant again later, too.

    *Seems like the Unova Dragons will be playing a part in this story as well.
    Yes.

    Chapter 2

    *The Battle was decently written, so Renzo is the rival for Olivia? :O Seems a bit upper crust and overbearing.
    I think you'll find him to be a bit more than he initially seems right now.

    *Olivia certainly did get on my nerves a bit with her constant whining over Totodile. How old is she again? She was so ungrateful.
    14.

    I didn't want the characters, particularly Olivia since she is the 'trainer' of the group, to be too perfect or likable. I wanted to make them characters who you'd grow to like over time instead of simply loving them immediately.

    *Nice throwback to the anime where Juniper and Fennel were college roommates.
    Thanks. I might do more with it.

    *Didn't quite understand why Olivia was in need of a starter Pokemon, she has a Minccino and Roselia.
    It's a sort of rite of passage/formality, though it's a little difficult to really say that much about this without giving spoilers.

    *Oshawott's personality gave me the vibes of a toned down anime Oshawott, it was cute.
    I think the big difference is that where Ash's Oshawott is cocky and then cowardly, Olivia's Oshawott is very eager to please her.

    *I thought Zager's spider was pretty cute, cool expansion right there.
    Galvantula is meant to provide a humanizing force in Zager's sphere of influence. Her presence gives him something to show affection toward, and considering that I'm portraying him as fueled by regret, having something like that gives added dimension to his character.

    *Nekou's bad bitch personality was fun no doubt.
    Heh, well, there's certainly going to be more where that came from. But at the same time, like Renzo, there's going to be more to her than just this.

    *The fact Olivia does what she does in an attempt to bring back her father seems interesting, though I can't help but wonder about her with her age and all and how long Matt has been keeping this a secret from her. It almost seems cruel to let her walk this path without letting her know sincerely her father is dead and not coming back. It almost seems pretty insulting toward her intelligence that they would continue to deceive her with the false notions her father is living.
    Now this, this is the big one. I agree with everything you've pointed out. That said, I wanted to show Matt making the massive mistake you see here - he's pretty spineless when it comes to difficult, personal issues like this, and while it might have started as a simple "don't explain what happened to Olivia right now" thing several years ago, it got out of control and he only found it harder and harder to do.

    Thank you for the review so far!

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  23. #73

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    Okay, let's do this.

    While Galvantula sat nearby gorging herself on a plate of berries Zager had given her, the doctor himself sat at his computer console, casually clicking through a message board website sporting blue message bubbles against a black background. The red script at the site’s top identified it as ‘RChannel.’
    Too cute. Galvantulas are great.


    “How dull,” Zager said to himself as he absentmindedly scanned past multiple post threads. Many threads on RChannel talked about Pokémon training and collecting, but there were a vast number that focused on other things, ranging from discussion of television programs to bizarre posts such as a recently popular urban legend about an Aerodactyl in a graveyard.
    ..oh dear. Poor Zager, the Internet must be too much for him.

    “There is something I do not understand,” the post read. “Ghetsis Harmonia is a member of Polaris. That is something that anyone who watches television knows. But, he is not the only one from Team Plasma to be connected to Polaris. I saw a member of the Shadow Triad on Route 30 today. Not only that, King N of Team Plasma was there too. So what is going on? What is the true connection between Team Plasma and Polaris?”

    “Holy ****, it’s Admin!” the next post, by ‘Slowpoke Tail,’ said. “And she’s got another crazy conspiracy theory!”

    “Posting in epic mod thread,” added an anonymous poster.

    “Hey Admin, Asuka or Rei?”
    It's like I'm really on /a/!

    The fourth reply was by the username ‘Sam’ – Pierce’s alias – and was the first to take the topic seriously. “That is an excellent question, Admin. I do not know all of the details of Team Plasma’s relationship with Polaris, but I’ve determined that Ghetsis was likely always working on behalf of Polaris. If he was ever loyal is another question entirely. I’ll do more studying and get back to you.”
    Pierce, I'm not sure you understand how imageboards work.

    A somber tone hung over the group’s rented room at Violet City’s Pokémon Center. Bunny and Olivia sat and listlessly stared at the television in the room, which was playing a news report on several recent Pokémon Contests, while Nekou sat on her bed and quietly worked on her laptop with the headphones for her music player planted firmly in her ears.
    Nekou seems to have the right idea here, I gotta say.

    “That guy was scary,” Olivia mumbled into the pillow she was embracing, which muffled her voice. “We’re going to be dealing with a lot like him, aren’t we?”
    Poor Olivia. I can only imagine how she must be feeling realizing she and her friends will probably be in danger for a while now.

    “In other news, we will now go to a new address delivered by the spokesman for the Polaris organization.”

    The pending speech seemed to be timed perfectly to match up with what Matt said, and as they focused on the television, their nerves each tightened to the breaking point. By the time Ghetsis appeared on the screen, Nekou had even taken out her headphones and folded the screen of her laptop down, turning it into a tablet computer.

    “People of the Tohjo Continent, I bid you good evening. Tonight I am here to speak to you about traditions. What exactly is tradition, would you say? It is called a tradition for children to be sent out into the world and compete against each other for supremacy. With how long that tradition has stood, should we accept it?” Despite delivering the first part of his address calmly, Ghetsis was soon overcome by his characteristic intensity. “No! We should not accept such a thing! We are a species capable of building a civilized society! Or, at least I thought we were. That we call the practice of sending young people into a lifestyle offering most of them no future just so we can watch their suffering a ‘tradition’ speaks to how far we have to go to truly reach civilization. That is why I call upon you all, people of this nation! Polaris shall perform a miracle to prove the validity of our drive toward true civilization! Please, support us in our endeavor! With your help, a hopeful future is ensured! Thank you for your time tonight.”
    This speech is as chilling as the previous speeches Ghetsis has given, but reading it, I realized something made me really angry about the universe in your story- that the media is broadcasting his speeches and giving him the outlet and attention he wants for his cause. It made me think of the equally repulsive people in the real world the media gives a pulpit to, and I love just how much your work seems to sometimes mirror real-world issues.

    “That’s not even a question. Ghetsis is a man who is fully aware of his own actions, and he delights in what he does to others.”

    Nekou’s words didn’t soothe Olivia, who was further shaken after listening to the thundering speech. “What if he has a point, though?” she grumbled into her pillow. “Look what happened to Nikolai, and all he did was help us. Not only him, either. What about Renzo? There really might be something to what he says... I’m scared…”
    Poor Olivia.

    “Olivia, you can’t think like that.” Matt tried to put on a strong face, masking his own unsettled emotions over the recent events. “Look, tomorrow you’re going for your first Badge, right? Focus on that. You finally made it to your first Gym.”

    “Matt’s saying something smart this time,” Nekou added, putting some sarcasm in her words to lighten things up a bit. “I can tell you that Ghetsis is not a man worth listening to. I disgust myself even using the word ‘man’ to refer to a piece of **** like him.”

    Olivia sighed and rolled over onto her side. “Maybe I’m just tired, then. Thanks for talking to me, but I want to go to bed.”
    I love everyone's responses here. Matt is awesome to Olivia as always, Nekou is being herself and trolling, and she's right about Ghetsis IMO, and Olivia's reply is perfect considering after all she'd gone through, I'd do the same.


    However, Olivia’s loud declaration attracted the attention of the Pokémon Center nurse, who had been standing nearby at her desk. She stepped over to the group and interrupted, “I’m sorry, but I overheard that you want to go to Violet Gym?”

    “Yeah, why?” Olivia questioned.

    “With our luck, she’s about to say it’s…”

    “Sorry, but the Gym is closed right now. Nobody can get to it.”

    “…I ****ing knew it,” Nekou finished her thought.
    Olivia just can't catch a break, can she? I feel sorry for her, it seems like nothing is going right so far.

    “So what prompted you to come out today and join the group picketing your hometown Gym?” the reporter asked. Once he was done speaking, he held his microphone up to his female subject.

    “Well, the speeches by Polaris have really opened my eyes. I never really considered before just how many people have it bad, even though we all work hard for everything we have. There are those who have it too easy if you ask me, getting Pokémon and medical care for free while others pay for it. I want Falkner to come out here and tell us how he can participate in this. That’s why I’m here.”

    Immediately upon the young woman finishing speaking, the screen shifted back to the news anchor at his desk. “We do not yet have a statement from Violet City Gym Leader Falkner addressing the protests currently taking place outside of his Gym. However, for safety purposes, the Gym has been closed until the tension dissipates.”
    Remember what I said earlier about Ghetsis getting a pulpit he didn't deserve from the media? This is why I said it.

    “Mister Chiaki? Mister Chiaki, you came to Violet City after all!”

    Having just entered the Pokémon Center, Dominic had spotted Matt and his group almost immediately, and now rushed over to meet them with his suitcase still in his hand.

    “Oh?” Matt failed to register immediately who he was being approached by, but seeing Dominic’s rumpled suit and tie again quickly rang the bell in his mind. “That’s right, Dominic was it? Sorry I sort of forgot...”

    “Oh, don’t worry about it. I’m just glad you actually came to Violet City like we arranged!”

    Dominic’s overflowing gratitude was a little off-putting to Matt, and even though he didn’t know it, Nekou and Olivia were a little nervous themselves. Bunny was the only one who saw him right away as the overly eager but kindhearted man he truly was.
    Dominic is awesome. I love how enthusiastic he always is.

    “That’s right, I do remember now. Olivia, if I might say… with the Gym closed, going to the Academy might be a productive way to spend the day.”

    “It’s better than nothing,” replied the girl, her facial features becoming hardened with determination. “Let’s do it!”
    At least Olivia is being more optimistic now. Good to see her feeling better.

    “And don’t forget me,” Nekou chimed in, tossing herself over Matt’s shoulders, much to his visible discomfort. “Remember what I get there. Books. One of my six basic food groups.”

    “And what are the other five?”

    “Bacon, hamburgers, potato chips, chocolate and beer.”
    oh u Nekou

    “Be careful with handling the Meteonite,” Mercury warned. “If it destabilizes, you might end up like this.” As she finished speaking, she gestured down to Meowth, who was listlessly standing next to her.
    I feel so bad for Meowth right now.

    “Yeah, that’s going to be a problem,” the scientist responded, frowning. “Something strange has gone on since the Meteonite landed here. It agitated all the Unown, and they used their reality-warping powers to change the structure of the Ruins of Alph. All the maps we had are obsolete now.”
    I hate when the Unown render my maps obsolete.

    “I guess we’ll be going in blindly, then. Thankfully Meteonite will react to itself, so we can use the small amount we have to track down the payload. We’ve got just the equipment for the job, too.”
    I really like how you've created science for Meteonite. It's the little touches and bits of research like this that make the story so fun to read.

    “What’s my assignment in all of this?” Séduire piped up for the first time. “Should I stop Matt from bothering you, Mercury?”

    “No, I need you and your henchmen with my team. The Ruins of Alph are a lot more vast than one would expect, and they hold untold dangers, especially now that the Unown rearranged everything. You’ll get a chance to see him soon enough.”

    “Promise me that. Mercury, promise me I’ll see Matt again soon… I have to save him…”

    “Focus on the task at hand, Séduire. Remember that one day we’ll all be saved.”
    Seduire terrifies me, and that's why I love her. Mercury's last line is really creepy, as well.

    “Is that good old Dominic I hear?” The voice echoing down the hall was loud and rich, giving itself such strength that it shook the walls. A large man in a blue suit came bounding out into the lobby with heavy steps; his boisterous demeanor surprised all of Dominic’s guests. “Welcome back, my dear Dominic! I see you’ve brought guests, just as you said earlier!”

    “Well, um… yes, Mr. Dervish, sir. Please…” Dominic turned to the others as he continued, “…allow me to introduce you. This is Matt Chiaki, and…”

    “Oh!!” The rotund man charged right past Dominic, effectively silencing him, and got right in Matt’s face. Matt started sweating and his nerves only frayed further when he realized that his hands were being grasped. “Sutter’s grandson! Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Earl Dervish, and I’m in charge of this Pokémon academy. It is truly an honor to have the grandson of the world’s most legendary archeologist in my school!”
    Hahaha, I love Earl already. He's quite the character.

    “It would be nice to get credit for some of the things I’ve done myself once in a while,” Matt nervously chuckled in an awkward attempt to inject humor into the situation.
    I always imagined it must be awkward for poor Matt to have to grow up in the shadow of his grandfather.

    “Talk about a spectacle,” Nekou mumbled under her breath.
    Haha, Nekou, never change.

    Concordia and Anthea screamed as Chaos’s limp body crashed into the forcefield wall of their prison. They’d been snapped out of their usual blank states by the fury Ghetsis had worked himself into.

    “You had him right in front of you and YOU LET HIM GO?!” Ghetsis picked Chaos up by the neck again, much like how he had done before throwing him, and slammed him into the barrier a second time. “That warped boy is key to my rise!”

    “P-please forgive me, L-Lord Ghetsis…” It was a struggle for Chaos to speak with Ghetsis’s hand around his neck. “I was… ambushed. It would have taken all three of us…”

    “I’ll have none of it!”

    Whipping around, Ghetsis flung Chaos across the floor, leaving him in a crumpled heap. He then lurched over to the ninja and pinned the white-haired man’s head under the end of his cane.
    This whole scene caught me completely offguard and terrified me, and I love it for that. You really showed once again just how brutal and merciless Ghetsis is.

    “Finally, you say something actually useful,” fumed Ghetsis as he removed his cane from Chaos’s cheek. Moving toward the door, he said out loud without looking over his shoulder, “I’ll have Matt Chiaki dealt with before he ever becomes a problem to me.” He then turned the very top of his cane’s handle to trigger a mechanism inside, and held the knob up near his mouth. “Zinzolin!”
    I love the idea of Ghetsis' cane as hiding a microphone.

    “It’s progressing nicely. The people of Violet City have taken your words to heart and are demanding answers from Gym Leader Falkner. He hasn’t come out yet, in fact, his only response has been to shut down the Gym for the day.”
    Once again, you show just how much Ghetsis is affecting the rest of the world very effectively.

    “Welcome back, Dad!” the girl who had gotten up immediately exclaimed. “Did you get what you promised us?”

    “I always keep my promises, Avril,” Dominic cheerfully replied. “I promised a surprise, and here
    he is!”
    Dominic really is an awesome dad. He's just adorable.


    “Indeed, Matt, they are. Please, meet Avril, my youngest…” Dominic gestured first to the girl who had verbally greeted him. Like the others, she was wearing a blue-and-black school uniform, and despite being the youngest of Dominic’s three children, she physically looked at least two years older than Olivia.

    “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” she said to Matt, her voice carrying an innate sound of confidence bordering on arrogance. “Your battle at the Battle Arcade was very entertaining to watch.”

    “And this is Monroe, the middle of the three…”

    The boy was much more timid in nature than his sister. He made little of an attempt to directly engage Matt or anyone else, merely saying in a shaky voice, “H-Hello.”

    “And finally, my oldest, Helena.”

    The eldest of the three, Helena, towered over her siblings. She stood calmly by, running her hand through her red hair, not speaking at first.
    Perfect description and characterization in this passage. You really do present a complete picture of each of Dominic's kids.


    The mere fact that Helena was able to speak was enough shock Matt still, but beyond that, her voice was surprisingly smooth and refined, capturing her ladylike demeanor perfectly. Matt eventually did manage to shake her hand, but his surprise didn’t wear off, and he directed a puzzled gaze over toward Dominic.

    Understanding immediately what Matt was confused by, Dominic beckoned him over and quietly explained, “She didn’t want to let her disability stop her from speaking normally, so I got some Psychic-type Pokémon to help me teach her how. It wasn’t easy, and either Avril or Monroe signs for her when they can, but I’m very proud of her and all the work she did to overcome it.”
    I am absolutely loving Helena. Disability representation in the Pokemon fandom is sadly very lacking, and you managed to portray Helena perfectly, showing her as empowered and in control of her life. You're doing a great job with her, and I'm happy to see a writer include disabled people in their work.
    “Amanda!” Matt instantly gasped, having been overcome by pleasant surprise.

    “Big brother!” Amanda’s emotions rose in a very similar fashion. She first sharply turned her head in the direction of Matt’s voice, then rushed in his direction, crashing into him in a reckless attempt at an embrace.
    AWW

    “Amanda, you’re a teacher here now?” This question was the only coherent thing that came to Matt’s mind right away. He was so internally consumed by emotions – joy in seeing his sister for the first time in a while, pride in the accomplishments she’d been implied to have made, sadness that she still struggled with her blindness – that he couldn’t put many words to those thoughts.
    More awesome portrayals of disabled people- women, no less. I love it. Thanks for writing a story where disabled people are able to do things everyone else can do. There need to be more stories like that.

    “Several years now,” Amanda replied with a smile. “Anyway, I didn’t tell Avril and my other students about my brother because I didn’t want to live in his shadow. I wanted them to look up to me because they wanted to, not because of who my brother is.”

    “Aw, come on, Amanda, don’t give me that much credit,” Matt chuckled in an attempt to sound humble. “All of us know you’re far more skilled as a trainer than I am.”
    Amanda keeps getting more badass.


    Closing his eyes, Matt thought back to five years earlier. Back then, Amanda had been the champion of a regional competition, and Olivia’s father Rich earned the chance to battle her. He failed completely against Amanda, however, at least in no small part because of her tactics throwing him off. She had in her team of Pokémon a Zoroark, a Pokémon with powers of illusion. Those powers made it possible for her to disguise the Dark-type Zoroark as a Hariyama, which drew Rich into attempting repeatedly to damage what he believed was a Fighting-type Pokémon. Amanda ended up winning the match without losing a single one of her Pokémon.
    Nice flashbacks to your earlier work. Excellent way filling readers in.

    “Wait a minute…” Remembering something, Olivia hesitated. “Snivy was one of the three Pokémon Professor Juniper said she could offer me, but it specifically was missing. Are you the one who got Snivy?”

    “The one and only.” Putting her hands on her hips, Avril leaned forward and smugly asked, “Did you get stuck with one of those inferior ones that were left?”

    “He is not inferior!”

    “Then let’s see him.”

    Without a second thought, Olivia pressed the button to open Oshawott’s Poké Ball. He materialized looking sleepy and still missing his shell, prompting both Avril and her Servine to laugh.

    “Wow, you didn’t even take the good one,” she taunted, “but then again, someone who’s childish in both body and spirit taking a childish Pokémon makes sense!”
    Yes, I can tell already Olivia and Avril are going to get along great. Snivy is a perfect match for Avril, too.

    “Avril!” Dominic snapped, showing a seriousness that he hadn’t before. “Behave yourself!”
    Dominic really has a handful on his hands with Avril.

    “Is she always like this?” Matt questioned once Dominic was out the door.

    “It wouldn’t be proper of me to discuss that in front of so many people,” Amanda replied.
    I really love how professional Amanda is, really. Even to her brother she won't discuss her matters as a teacher.

    The Matt vs Amanda battle is EXCELLENT. I really enjoyed the action and the descriptions, and you definitely threw me a curveball there with Hariyama's use of Role Play and the results of said move.

    Before he could throw the Poké Ball he’d selected, Matt found himself overcome by a sudden blast of cold air. His body immediately began to spasm.
    ohhhhh crap. I didn't expect this coming at all, either. Things really took a turn for the worse.

    Having breached the fence on the edge of the school’s property, the crowd of protesters who had been picketing Violet Gym earlier in the day advanced toward the battlefield. Leading them was a stout, elderly man wrapped in a thick purple coat whose heavy boots left deep footprints behind in the ground. At his side walked a Jynx and a Weavile, and Cryogonal soon joined them.
    OH ****. I did not expect this in the least. Good job.

    The somewhat-civil mob of protesters following him heeded his order and stopped as well. They continued making a significant amount of noise with their attempts to shout over each other, but they remained more or less in line.
    It's chilling how they'll listen to Zinzolin.

    “Before you stands a symbol of the system that has so corrupted our way of life,” Zinzolin explained to the protesters through his megaphone. “Earl’s Pokémon Academy… it is merely a factory to which we supply the raw materials of our children and they are manufactured into the next generation of believers in the ideal of becoming Pokémon masters! Consider how many of them fall by the wayside, forever struggling in the wilderness if they’re even lucky enough to survive... that a place like this would even exist to introduce our children into such a system is preposterous!”
    As insane as Zinzolin's rants are, like Ghetsis, you can really see why people might latch on to them.

    “And look who is pushing these ideas into innocent young minds… two people who have so little regard for the divine grace of life that they have fouled their bodies using modifications of modern technology. Indeed, Matt and Amanda Chiaki have straddled the boundary of life and death!”

    “Silence yourself!” At long last, Amanda shot something back at Zinzolin. Even though she wasn’t directing her blank eyes directly at him, she clearly had a basic idea of where he was standing. “What you say is false! Because big brother and I have suffered and used what we could to recover does not make us bad people. Ask any of my students, who until you ruined it were having quite a pleasurable class today!”

    “I see you have some fighting spirit in you. How curious. But, what good would asking any of your students accomplish? Their minds are already poisoned by your lies.”

    “We will battle, then…” Amanda growled at the strangely-clothed old man, “…and when I defeat you, you will leave.”

    “Don’t count your Torchic before they hatch, girl.” Zinzolin had begun plucking more of his Poké Balls from the black bands wrapping around his coat. “I am not the right hand of Polaris’s spokesman for nothing!”

    With that, Zinzolin threw the three remaining Poké Balls. One of them was a blue-and-red Great Ball, which released a Glalie. The two others were regular Poké Balls, one containing an Empoleon and the other letting out a Pokémon that looked like a bigger Vanillite.

    “He has Vanillish, Miss Chiaki!” Monroe called to Amanda. “Vanillite’s evolved form!”

    “Those Torchic aren’t just already hatched,” Amanda sternly reproached her adversary, “they hatched, matured and laid eggs of their own. Take this!”
    HELL YEAH. Amanda is a freakin' badass.

    “Zoroark, stay over by big brother and use Protect to keep him from getting colder,” Amanda said, having heard Nekou’s shouting. Zoroark immediately followed this direction, freeing up Amanda’s attention so she could once again focus on the battle. “Snorlax, Heavy Slam! Vanilluxe, Signal Beam!”
    Amanda is also the world's most awesome sister.

    Zinzolin grunted, then recalled Jynx while Amanda called Snorlax back herself. “Well played, curious trainer. But, this is not yet over. It’s about time I showed you the true power Polar…”

    “Gothitelle, attack Empoleon with Thunderbolt!” Amanda called out, interrupting Zinzolin’s attempt at a lecture.

    “Goth-ii!” Gothitelle shrilled in her deep, womanly voice. Lightning shot out from her body and arced through the air, ultimately making contact with and electrocuting Empoleon. Due to the accidental damage Empoleon had suffered during his attempt at stopping Snorlax, he couldn’t weather Thunderbolt, and he collapsed.

    “You were saying?” Amanda taunted a moment later.
    oh snap

    “You will not stand in the way of progress, abomination!” fumed Zinzolin as he recalled a Pokémon for the second time in less than a minute. “It’s time I opened up another front in this battle,” he stated, turning his head to Amanda herself. “Cryogonal, Flash Cannon. Weavile, Glalie, use Blizzard. Vanillish, Ice Beam. All of you, target that monster brainwashing these children!”

    Amanda immediately gasped in horror; this was what it took to finally cause her to panic. “You won’t hurt my students!!” she screamed, apparently misunderstanding Zinzolin’s intentions and not realizing that he was targeting her. “Arcanine, Hariyama, Gothitelle, Vanilluxe, stop them!”
    Zinzolin, you are a horrible person. Seriously, Zinzolin is terrifying just because he willingly goes after a teacher in front of her students in the name of his demented cause. Your villains in this are all pretty chilling as a whole, but then you get to people like Ghetsis and Zinzolin who just keep getting worse.

    Thankfully, it never came to that. Hethna lurched in between Amanda and Zinzolin’s assault, taking all the power infused in the four attacks itself. Hethna couldn’t stand up any longer after taking so many powerful hits at once, and wobbled back and forth briefly before falling forward, its front completely covered in ice.
    Hethna confirmed for sis-tier Heatran. I love how loyal Hethna is to do that to protect Amanda.

    “I…I…” For a brief moment, Zinzolin had visibly lost his nerve. His hands were shaking, and he bent over as if he were about to fall. He quickly recovered his composure, though, and took a deep breath before recalling Vanillish. “I have failed, and Lord Ghetsis will not be pleased with me. But do not let it be said that I am not a man of my word.”
    You can tell how frightened Zinzolin is from his reaction to losing. After what happened to Chaos earlier, I can't blame him.

    The protesters briefly became paralyzed by a collective sense of confusion as they attempted to understand what had just happened. “What about Falkner?” a man in the crowd called out.

    “It may be true that we have not yet obtained a statement from a Gym Leader addressing our concerns,” Zinzolin replied, “but we have effectively put our ideals upon a national stage. Be proud of what you accomplished today.”

    With their concerns largely soothed by Zinzolin’s explanation, the protesters slowly dispersed, heading back into the city one by one.
    urgh, they never give up, do they?

    “You’re not going anywhere,” Nekou whispered to the old sage, digging her fingernails into his scalp ever so slightly. “At least, not until you tell me what’s going on.”
    I'm happy Nekou stepped in at this point. She's scary enough to try and get what she wants.

    “We have ways of making life very painful for you if you don’t give us the intel we want. Oh, and don’t lecture me about taking things for personal gain. The way I live is none of your ****ing business.” Tightening her grip on his head, she sneered, “Now talk.”
    Badass. Man, this chapter's just full of badass ladies doing badass things, and I love it.

    “Hah! The suffering that comes through life is what makes me feel alive in the first place. There’s nothing one of you street thugs could do that would make me talk. I’d lay down my life in the service of Lord Ghetsis before I would ever help one of you.”
    This didn't make Zinzolin any less terrifying.


    “Nekou, just let him go. He’s useless to us anyway.”

    Matt had approached Nekou without notice, and she struggled with what he said. Finally, she accepted that he was right about Zinzolin’s uselessness and released the elderly Polaris member from her grasp.
    I actually appreciate that Matt has to call off Nekou sometimes. I think it shows he can tell when it's best not to get into too much trouble and also in some ways that he's looking out for her at this point and doesn't want her wasting energy or starting trouble when it's not worth it.

    “I shouldn’t have expected a kid like you to know,” Avril scoffed. “They won’t let you challenge the Violet Gym in the first place unless you get approval from the Elder here.”

    “And I suppose that’s why you’re here, because you already got permission?” Olivia’s sarcastic taunt was said with full realization that Avril actually hadn’t done so either.

    Briefly at a loss for words, Avril hissed back, “I’m more than you’ll ever be, wait and watch. Have your laughs while you can.”

    “Oh, whatever. Let’s go.”
    Avril and Olivia's fighting is adorable and endearing in a way. I really like how dynamic their relationship is.


    “Very well. If you wish to earn our Elder’s permission to battle Falkner, you must reach him on the third floor of our temple. Each of you, take one of the flights of stairs in the back of this chamber. On the above floor you will find a series of chambers where the monks here will test your worthiness for an audience with the Elder. May the gentle luck of the Bellsprout be with you both.”

    “I’m going to get up there and win before you even come close,” Avril boasted, putting her hands on her hips.

    “As if! I’ll leave you in the dust!”

    “You’re on, washboard!”
    The monk is endearing, in an odd way. I really love him. And Olivia and Avril trash talking each other is more cute.

    “I thought Amanda couldn’t walk,” Bunny questioned Matt. “Did something change? What did that old man from Polaris mean about ‘modifying your bodies’ and ‘straddling the boundary of life and death?’”

    “Well, you see…” Taking a deep breath, Matt looked down at the table. His thoughts were difficult to process into words. “Like how my body was repaired with machinery to restore my mobility, Amanda has a pair of artificial legs now, so she doesn’t need her wheelchair anymore. My hope is to one day make a workable cybernetic eye so her sight can also be restored.”

    “I don’t think those Polaris people like it when humans modify themselves with machines,” Amanda observed.

    “No, it’s more than that. Bunny, do you remember what they said in Whitegold City? I don’t think it’s just humans… they oppose the blending of machinery and DNA, period. It’s all organic life.”

    “That’s right!” Bunny exclaimed. “The object of their worship is DNA itself, then.”

    “Based on what I recall, that would be correct. Something doesn’t add up, though… why would they be campaigning against the Pokémon League system, then?”

    “It’s all very frightening…” Amanda listlessly commented.
    Another fantastic recap, and it feels very natural.

    “No, no, I won’t accept this!” Matt slammed his fist on the table, not even bothering to pay attention to Bunny’s question. “Reshiram has to be somewhere! I’m no hero, so the idea of finding it by matching the ancient hero’s drive for the truth… I can’t pull that off!”
    Poor Matt. I can really understand why he's having this breakdown- Reshiram is all he really wants to find, and even the suggestion it might be harder than it looks must really tear him up.

    The scene of Nekou reading the journals is perfectly-handled horror. The final entry sent chills down my spine. Things sound average, even cheerful, until the **** really hits the fan. The backstory about the Tenganists was also fantastic and answered some questions while asking more.

    “Ha! I made it here before you!”

    “Be quiet, you bottom feeder. I obviously set foot on this floor well before you!”
    I love them so much.

    As soon as the Bellsprout emerged from Li’s Poké Ball, Avril took out and threw her own, a variant with a green top. The Nest Ball burst open, revealing a small, dinosaur-like Pokémon with a stout blue body and black fur growing on its neck and head.

    “That Pokémon is so cute!” Olivia squealed as she scanned the growling creature.
    I agree, Olivia.

    Dr. Zager was working intently on collecting intelligence from RChannel when he heard the door of his laboratory open. Before he knew it, Jessie was towering over him, holding him up by the collar.

    “Why didn’t you tell us everything?!” she cried out. Zager needed a moment before he noticed a tear in the corner of her eye.

    “What are you talking about?” Dr. Zager was genuinely naďve of what Jessie was so upset over. He tried to pry her hands off of his collar, but failed.

    “You didn’t warn us about what the Meteonite could really do,” James explained as he entered alongside Ariana. “Because of that… Polaris brainwashed Meowth into joining them!”

    “What?!”

    When Zager started coughing, Ariana ordered, “Jessie, put him down now or I’ll have you written up for insubordination.”

    “Fine.”
    Okay, I can totally see Jessie reacting this way. I think a lot of people forget she's very assertive and protective of those she cares about, and when her friends are in trouble she'll do whatever it takes to help them. Ariana having to call Jessie off is a nice touch- poor Zager didn't know what hit him.

    Jessie didn’t let go of Zager as much as she simply dropped him, and he came close to falling down once he landed. She then fumed back over to rejoin James and Ariana. Meanwhile, Galvantula was hiding under the laboratory table.
    Poor, nervous Galvantula.

    “I’m…” It was difficult for Zager to accept what he was being told. Beneath his occasionally gruff demeanor, he did genuinely care about those under his command, so he felt a strong desire to get Meowth back as well. On the other hand, though, he knew far more than Jessie, James or even Ariana just how hard defeating Polaris would be. “I’m afraid I can’t do anything right now but contact the boss for help. Do you have the R-Pad?”
    I agree that Zager is definitely the kind who looks out for those he works with. He's the cool science grandpa, after all, and I'm happy you pointed this out.

    Polaris’s Adenosine Base stood in the Johto ocean like a massive iron monolith supported by legs on four small islands. The brisk sea breeze blew over the structure as it sat under the bright moonlight.

    On one of the four islands, a vast landing area was set up. Several scientists were there, as was Finansielle, the winds blowing the sheer cape running down from her armor to cover the nightgown she wore underneath.

    Soon, a large, military-grade helicopter came from over the surface of the sea and settled into hovering over the ring of lights on the landing pad. Its pilot carefully guided the craft downward, landing with little fuss.
    Excellent imagery here. I love how atmospheric this scene is.

    A staircase emerged from the side of the chopper and descended in front of Finansielle and the scientists. The cabin door opened, and a blonde, bespectacled man in a flowing white lab coat stepped out. He walked calmly down the stairs and only stopped once he was face-to-face with Finansielle.
    Oh crap, could it be?

    “Dr. Colress Antimony, as I live and breathe,” Polaris’s financier greeted him. “Welcome to the Adenosine Base. We shall help you finish your work on Pokémon strength here.”
    IT IS! Nice last name, it works perfectly.

    “So you’re Finansielle, then?” Colress asked, twirling his finger through the long curl of blue hair that wrapped around his head. “I’m looking forward to getting to work. The key of the latent potential of Pokémon…”
    I don't think I've ever hnnghed so hard reading a fanfic. That mental image is just too much for me. >




    Fantastic chapter. The battles were all exciting and well-written, with excellent description of the attacks and their effects, the characters were all really well written as well, and this was definitely a thrilling chapter. Once again, keep up the excellent work.

    "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."
    -Stephen King

    I write odd slice of life stories about Team Rocket. If that's your thing, give them a look:

    Alpha Male- behind every friendship is a story. Perspective contest fourth place winner.
    Secretary- A short and cynical tale of paperwork and sadism
    Survival- A novella about the unbreakable bonds between one man and his feline friend. 2011 Pokemon Big Bang story.


  24. #74
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    Like the RChannel scene, thought it’s pretty neat Team Rocket created it. Heh some of the messages are fun.

    Moving the review ahead to the school scenes since this is where most of the plot in this chapter will be focused on (I think this is handled fine IMO by the way). Heh, totally forgot about Amanda’s appearance back in Pokemon XD^3 until it’s briefly mentioned. It’s great to see her again, though. Thought it’s interest psychic Pokemon helped Helena able to speak normally while still deaf. Really shaking my head at Avril’s rudeness to Olivia there.

    “You will not stand in the way of progress, abomination!” fumed Zinzolin as he recalled a Pokémon for the second time in less than a minute. “It’s time I opened up another front in this battle,” he stated, turning his head to Amanda herself. “Cryogonal, Flash Cannon. Weavile, Glalie, use Blizzard. Vanillish, Ice Beam. All of you, target that monster brainwashing these children!”

    Amanda immediately gasped in horror; this was what it took to finally cause her to panic. “You won’t hurt my students!!” she screamed, apparently misunderstanding Zinzolin’s intentions and not realizing that he was targeting her. “Arcanine, Hariyama, Gothitelle, Vanilluxe, stop them!”
    To be honest, I’m scratching my head as to why Amanda would misunderstand the “target that monster brainwashing these children” unless she didn’t catch Zinzolin saying “that monster”, which she should.

    Other than that, the battle between Amanda and Zinzolin is enjoyable. Her Pokemon are forces not to be reckon with for sure, heh. Also good thing Matt’s Golurk saved her.

    Sutter and Jacob’s entries I like a lot. Like Dawn said at first everything seems calm and peaceful until the last entry. Woah on the burning village. D:

    “I’m…” It was difficult for Zager to accept what he was being told. Beneath his occasionally gruff demeanor, he did genuinely care about those under his command, so he felt a strong desire to get Meowth back as well. On the other hand, though, he knew far more than Jessie, James or even Ariana just how hard defeating Polaris would be. “I’m afraid I can’t do anything right now but contact the boss for help. Do you have the R-Pad?”
    Favorite part of the part with Zager and TR since this shows a different take on him I like a lot.

    Hi Colress! XD His line at the very end of the chapter…oh my. :P

    Overall another satisfactory chapter there! Looking forward to the next one!
    Last edited by Bay; 1st January 2013 at 3:03 AM.


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    I'm still writing, but probably not much Pokemon stuff at the moment. HAM!


  25. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matori View Post
    Too cute. Galvantulas are great.
    Yes, yes they are.

    ..oh dear. Poor Zager, the Internet must be too much for him.
    I don't think he knew what he was in for when he helped RChannel's creator create it.

    It's like I'm really on /a/!
    Only if Admin answered Asuka.     Spoiler:- spoiler:


    Pierce, I'm not sure you understand how imageboards work.
    This isn't your average imageboard.

    Nekou seems to have the right idea here, I gotta say.
    Isn't that always the right idea?

    Poor Olivia. I can only imagine how she must be feeling realizing she and her friends will probably be in danger for a while now.
    Yeah, she is not in a good situation, and it only gets worse from here.

    This speech is as chilling as the previous speeches Ghetsis has given, but reading it, I realized something made me really angry about the universe in your story- that the media is broadcasting his speeches and giving him the outlet and attention he wants for his cause. It made me think of the equally repulsive people in the real world the media gives a pulpit to, and I love just how much your work seems to sometimes mirror real-world issues.
    Good; I encourage you to continue thinking about things in this way, because I want to get people thinking with this story.

    But consider this: you know Ghetsis is a terrible person and is most likely using these ideals for a more self-centered end, but put yourself in the position of someone who lives in-universe and doesn't know all these things. I think how these speeches would affect you would be different.

    Poor Olivia.
    Can you blame her?

    I love everyone's responses here. Matt is awesome to Olivia as always, Nekou is being herself and trolling, and she's right about Ghetsis IMO, and Olivia's reply is perfect considering after all she'd gone through, I'd do the same.
    I enjoyed writing that part.

    Olivia just can't catch a break, can she? I feel sorry for her, it seems like nothing is going right so far.
    And you KNOW it's only going to get worse.

    Remember what I said earlier about Ghetsis getting a pulpit he didn't deserve from the media? This is why I said it.
    Just keep in mind what I mentioned, too. These people do not know the truth about Ghetsis as you and I do, so their minds are more open to the points he has to raise.

    Regardless of that, though, if the media didn't afford him the chance to get Polaris's word out, Ghetsis would do it on foot like he does in the first BW games.

    Dominic is awesome. I love how enthusiastic he always is.
    He's basically an older Barry, I'd say.

    At least Olivia is being more optimistic now. Good to see her feeling better.
    She really was out of it because she was tired.

    oh u Nekou
    Matt walked right into that.

    I feel so bad for Meowth right now.
    If it helps at all, he doesn't even know anything is happening. He's essentially asleep.

    I hate when the Unown render my maps obsolete.
    Aren't they annoying enough when you actually know where you're going?

    I really like how you've created science for Meteonite. It's the little touches and bits of research like this that make the story so fun to read.
    Thank you.

    Seduire terrifies me, and that's why I love her. Mercury's last line is really creepy, as well.
    Both of them were being remarkably genuine in that scene. Everything they said they truly meant.

    Hahaha, I love Earl already. He's quite the character.
    I tried to keep him accurate to his game character, but I had to drop his verbal tic. If I didn't, he would have sounded exactly like Looker.

    I always imagined it must be awkward for poor Matt to have to grow up in the shadow of his grandfather.
    He actually doesn't mind it all that much, since he respects Sutter greatly.

    Haha, Nekou, never change.
    She won't. for now anyway

    This whole scene caught me completely offguard and terrified me, and I love it for that. You really showed once again just how brutal and merciless Ghetsis is.
    Exactly.

    I love the idea of Ghetsis' cane as hiding a microphone.
    It's capable of doing a lot of things, actually. You can tell from the games (when he uses it as an EMP signal jammer of some kind to block use of Poké Balls) that it has a lot of uses.

    Once again, you show just how much Ghetsis is affecting the rest of the world very effectively.
    Well, that one was just building on what was shown earlier, but thanks nevertheless.

    Dominic really is an awesome dad. He's just adorable.
    He'll do anything for his kids.

    Perfect description and characterization in this passage. You really do present a complete picture of each of Dominic's kids.
    I really wanted to make them each very distinct characters, instead of being simply different age/gender versions of the same character.

    I am absolutely loving Helena. Disability representation in the Pokemon fandom is sadly very lacking, and you managed to portray Helena perfectly, showing her as empowered and in control of her life. You're doing a great job with her, and I'm happy to see a writer include disabled people in their work.
    That lack of representation is something I wanted to address. And if you like Helena now, I assure you you'll like her even more later.

    AWW
    Amanda's just like that. I'm looking to work in some backstory about how Matt practically had to raise her even when he was young himself, so with that in account you really can understand why she loves him so much.

    More awesome portrayals of disabled people- women, no less. I love it. Thanks for writing a story where disabled people are able to do things everyone else can do. There need to be more stories like that.
    You're welcome. The Pokemon world finally started addressing the existence of different racial backgrounds this generation, but disabilities still haven't been seen. Like I alluded to earlier, that was something I wanted to incorporate into the story as a result.

    Amanda keeps getting more badass.
    And I'm not stopping there!

    Nice flashbacks to your earlier work. Excellent way filling readers in.
    That flashback was necessary to establish Amanda's character. Originally, as I mentioned before, there was going to be more backstory for her and Matt in this chapter but I couldn't fit it in.

    Yes, I can tell already Olivia and Avril are going to get along great. Snivy is a perfect match for Avril, too.
    With that kind of attitude, you bet a Pokemon like Snivy/Servine fits Avril.

    Dominic really has a handful on his hands with Avril.
    Yes, yes he does.

    I really love how professional Amanda is, really. Even to her brother she won't discuss her matters as a teacher.
    I wanted her to stand more as her own character separate from Matt than she had before.

    The Matt vs Amanda battle is EXCELLENT. I really enjoyed the action and the descriptions, and you definitely threw me a curveball there with Hariyama's use of Role Play and the results of said move.
    Thank you. As always, I try to make my battles as unique as I can.

    ohhhhh crap. I didn't expect this coming at all, either. Things really took a turn for the worse.
    Yes, yes they did.

    OH ****. I did not expect this in the least. Good job.



    It's chilling how they'll listen to Zinzolin.
    He's the one who was leading the protest the whole time. Really, until now, he was just providing the spark to start the fire and not really guiding it.

    As insane as Zinzolin's rants are, like Ghetsis, you can really see why people might latch on to them.
    It's still Ghetsis's theme, Zinzolin is just spreading it around.

    HELL YEAH. Amanda is a freakin' badass.
    You bet she is.

    Amanda is also the world's most awesome sister.
    After everything Matt has done for her, of course she would be.

    oh snap
    Zinzolin status: told

    Zinzolin, you are a horrible person. Seriously, Zinzolin is terrifying just because he willingly goes after a teacher in front of her students in the name of his demented cause. Your villains in this are all pretty chilling as a whole, but then you get to people like Ghetsis and Zinzolin who just keep getting worse.
    The thing is, it's not his cause at all. It's Ghetsis's and Polaris's. What you're seeing is someone who has willingly given up his free will out of devotion to something so much that he's willing to actually do this.

    Hethna confirmed for sis-tier Heatran. I love how loyal Hethna is to do that to protect Amanda.
    Minor correction: Hethna is Golurk, while Tanya is Heatran.

    You can tell how frightened Zinzolin is from his reaction to losing. After what happened to Chaos earlier, I can't blame him.
    Here's the terrifying part: he doesn't know about what happened to Chaos. This time.

    urgh, they never give up, do they?
    Well, really, the march on the school wasn't the point of the protest originally anyway.


    I'm happy Nekou stepped in at this point. She's scary enough to try and get what she wants.
    Oh, you better believe it. Notice how serious she got.

    Badass. Man, this chapter's just full of badass ladies doing badass things, and I love it.
    And every word she spoke was the truth.

    This didn't make Zinzolin any less terrifying.
    And all of his words were the truth, too.

    I actually appreciate that Matt has to call off Nekou sometimes. I think it shows he can tell when it's best not to get into too much trouble and also in some ways that he's looking out for her at this point and doesn't want her wasting energy or starting trouble when it's not worth it.
    That's accurate. It goes to show that she isn't always the dominant one in the group.

    Avril and Olivia's fighting is adorable and endearing in a way. I really like how dynamic their relationship is.
    I'm glad you like it.

    The monk is endearing, in an odd way. I really love him. And Olivia and Avril trash talking each other is more cute.
    Fun fact: At one point two of the Seven Sages were going to appear having moved into Sprout Tower.

    Another fantastic recap, and it feels very natural.
    Not really all that much of a recap, though, unless you mean the mention of why Amanda can walk now. The point of that part really essentially was "okay, we just encountered these people [Polaris] directly, what do we know about them?"

    Poor Matt. I can really understand why he's having this breakdown- Reshiram is all he really wants to find, and even the suggestion it might be harder than it looks must really tear him up.
    His entire life, he's learned that things you look for usually are located somewhere. The idea of something not having a fixed location, but instead depending upon the resolve of the person seeking it, does not fit at all with what he knows.

    The scene of Nekou reading the journals is perfectly-handled horror. The final entry sent chills down my spine. Things sound average, even cheerful, until the **** really hits the fan. The backstory about the Tenganists was also fantastic and answered some questions while asking more.
    I'm glad withholding details was a good idea. I had considered spelling out what happened to Saeko Oryo and revealing all the details, but that wouldn't be any fun.

    I love them so much.
    Olivia needed her Georgia - meaning, someone who is so much like her that they interact like two trains speeding into each other.

    I agree, Olivia.
    I don't think many don't agree.

    Okay, I can totally see Jessie reacting this way. I think a lot of people forget she's very assertive and protective of those she cares about, and when her friends are in trouble she'll do whatever it takes to help them. Ariana having to call Jessie off is a nice touch- poor Zager didn't know what hit him.
    Yeah, I really just thought that everyone was perfectly in character in this scene.

    Poor, nervous Galvantula.
    She doesn't like her peace getting disrupted.

    I agree that Zager is definitely the kind who looks out for those he works with. He's the cool science grandpa, after all, and I'm happy you pointed this out.
    Even if he doesn't personally like the people he's assigned to work with, I think he would watch out for them anyway if for no other reason than they're important assets.

    Excellent imagery here. I love how atmospheric this scene is.
    I bet you could visualize it perfectly, right?

    [quoted]Oh crap, could it be?



    IT IS! Nice last name, it works perfectly.[/quote]

    Hinted at in an earlier chapter when Finansielle mentioned she was calling in an expert on Pokemon strength.

    last name is there for a reason

    I don't think I've ever hnnghed so hard reading a fanfic. That mental image is just too much for me. >
    What better way for Colress to be smug than to use what he naturally has?

    Fantastic chapter. The battles were all exciting and well-written, with excellent description of the attacks and their effects, the characters were all really well written as well, and this was definitely a thrilling chapter. Once again, keep up the excellent work.
    Thank you!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bay View Post
    Like the RChannel scene, thought it’s pretty neat Team Rocket created it. Heh some of the messages are fun.
    There's more to it than just that, of course.

    Moving the review ahead to the school scenes since this is where most of the plot in this chapter will be focused on (I think this is handled fine IMO by the way).
    I'm glad to hear that. I was very worried about the whole thing coming completely off the rails after the issues it presented.

    Heh, totally forgot about Amanda’s appearance back in Pokemon XD^3 until it’s briefly mentioned. It’s great to see her again, though.
    Well, it's good I reminded you then, isn't it?

    Thought it’s interest psychic Pokemon helped Helena able to speak normally while still deaf. Really shaking my head at Avril’s rudeness to Olivia there.
    It was a way for Helena to maintain some semblance of dignity and independence despite her disability, as Dominic indicated.

    As for Avril, she's the Alpha ***** of the school, and she just doesn't take kindly to someone showing up to steal her thunder (in her mind).

    To be honest, I’m scratching my head as to why Amanda would misunderstand the “target that monster brainwashing these children” unless she didn’t catch Zinzolin saying “that monster”, which she should.
    I have to be honest here: at first, the scene was written with Zinzolin actually attacking the students. After I wrote it, I realized that it didn't make any sense in the story for that to happen, since Polaris advocates freeing children from the system. I reworked everything I could from the scene, but that one part I just couldn't figure out how to fix. The best explanation I can give in-universe is that Amanda was overwhelmed with all the noise around her and simply couldn't process everything.

    Other than that, the battle between Amanda and Zinzolin is enjoyable. Her Pokemon are forces not to be reckon with for sure, heh. Also good thing Matt’s Golurk saved her.
    Let's just say that Zinzolin was way, way out of his league.

    Sutter and Jacob’s entries I like a lot. Like Dawn said at first everything seems calm and peaceful until the last entry. Woah on the burning village. D:
    You can probably guess that that book will come up again.

    Favorite part of the part with Zager and TR since this shows a different take on him I like a lot.
    Yeah, he's not in control there, which is a position that is unusual for him.

    Hi Colress! XD His line at the very end of the chapter…oh my. :P
    He definitely brought some serious stuff with him, that's for sure.

    Overall another satisfactory chapter there! Looking forward to the next one!
    Thank you! Hopefully the next chapter will not take as long to come out.

    (Banner by Matori)
    Beyond all ideals, the truth shall set you free...
    Most Recent: 18: Winter of Discontent
    Next: The Weight of the World (Part 1)

    The steps on the road to the truth.
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