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Thread: The Age of Harmony (12+)

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    Default The Age of Harmony (12+)

    Welcome to ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, readers new and old.

    I've been sitting on this idea for several months and started to envision it as a way to get back to my roots a bit as a writer of Pokemon fanfiction. Just to get one thing out of the way for those of you that have read my works before, I've made an effort to keep the chapters long enough but not novellas in and of themselves, like I've sometimes been known to do.

    And now for the disclaimers.

    DISCLAIMER 1: Pokemon and all trademarks and copyrights therein are the property of... actually, in a legal sense, I have no idea. I just know that it's not me. This is a fan-created work that is inspired by, but not a part of, the Pokemon "Generation V" video game canon.

    DISCLAIMER 2: This work contains instances of language, violence, and other content in the area of the American "PG-13" MPAA rating. It is recommended for readers 12 and up.

    *Yawn* That was a bit boring, honestly. I'm not sure if it had to be done, but since it could potentially save me a lot of irritation later, I just went ahead and did it. Now we can get to the story itself. Fun, right?

    I certainly hope so. After all, if I'm not enjoying writing and you're not enjoying reading, then we're all sort of wasting our time, aren't we?

    Enough talking. On to the story!!


    Saeculum Harmonia
    The Age of Harmony


    CHAPTER LIST:

    Chapter 1: The Upheaval
    Chapter 2: Aftershock
    Chapter 3: The Day the World Crumbled
    Chapter 4: A Grave New World
    Chapter 5: The Decision
    Chapter 6: A Free-Fall Education
    Chapter 7: The Unbound

    ~~~ *** ~~~ *** ~~~

    1. The Upheaval


    “Reshiram, forge our path to truth!”

    “Zekrom, watch out!”

    The snarling of the two massive dragons – one black and one white – filled the skies as they trained their attacks on each other. Zekrom evaded a massive fireball shot forth from the other dragon and launched an attack of its own – a huge lightning bolt that tore through the sky and struck Reshiram dead center in the chest. The white dragon let out an enormous cry of pain as it flapped its wings furiously in order to stay aloft. It failed, but did manage to land on the ground without further damage.

    Two tall, cap-wearing young men were commanding the dragons. One of them was standing to the left. His short, chocolate-brown locks flapped in the swirling winds under his cap as he clenched his fist and pointed to the other dragon. “Attack, Zekrom! Finish him!”

    “NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”

    A shriek had come from somewhere to the outside. The brown-haired boy pulled up short. His counterpart, a strange-looking young man with wild-looking lime green hair down to his back, staggered back a step.

    “Whit, what the hell’s wrong with you?!” the brown-haired boy yelled at a girl that looked rather like a feminine version of him. She was tall, and had rather long hair the exact same shade of brown. She had interposed herself between the two boys and their dragons.

    “I’m sorry, brother, I just…I can’t,” she answered, shaking her head quickly. Tears leaked into the air from her tightly shut eyes.

    “What do you mean, ‘you can’t’?” the girl’s brother snarled, gesturing with his hand. “You know this has to be done, Whit!”

    “No, it doesn’t!!” the girl cried. She turned her head for a moment toward green-haired young man, whose pale face had gone even paler with shock. “He’s a human being, Blake!”

    “Maybe you’re right…” the boy said, clenching his fist. “But he… he’s set himself against everything we stand for!”

    “What do we stand for anymore?” the sister asked tearfully, backing toward the green-haired young man. “You weren’t always this bloodthirsty, Blake. You were sweet… then we started this journey, and now… now you’re willing to kill for the sake of your lifestyle? Maybe Pokémon aren’t as good for us as we thought…”

    “Have you lost it?!” Blake snapped back. Zekrom roared in reaction. “All those years we spent in Nuvema talking about how great our Pokémon journeys would be? And you’re just willing to throw all of that away? Why?!”

    “Because I love him!!”

    The eyes of both young men widened. Swirling winds filled the silence between the siblings. The white-clad, green-haired youth’s jaw came unhinged for a moment.

    “W-what?” the brother of the girl whispered breathlessly.

    “I… I love him,” Whit repeated, her voice shaking terribly.

    “You love him,” Blake repeated, his voice flat with incredulity. “You took a ride on a ferris wheel together. I’m your brother, Whitlea.”

    “You don’t believe me?” the girl uttered.

    “Do I believe you know what you’re doing? Hell, no,” Blake spat. “He’s brainwashed you somehow. But it’ll be fine. Once he’s gone, you’ll be back to norm—”

    “YOU’RE A FOOL!” Whitlea screamed. “You really think I’m that weak-willed to let anyone brainwash me? This was my decision!”

    “And this is my decision,” Blake replied harshly. “Team Plasma is a monster that must be stopped – and the quickest way to kill a monster…”

    He gazed at N, his young face now etched with a look of revulsion and hatred.

    “…is to cut off its head.”

    Whit blanched. Tears started forming at the corners of her eyes. “Fine, then. Go ahead and attack with Zekrom. Destroy N. Destroy Reshiram… destroy me, too.”

    And she planted herself right in front of the tall, green-haired young man and his white dragon.

    “Whitlea… no…” Blake murmured.

    The youth named ‘N’ stepped back. “What should I do?”

    He looked to his side, at an ornately dressed man that looked somewhat like an older version of him. The red patch on the man’s eye glowed in a sinister fashion. “Hmm. This was unforeseen. Such fickle and wild things, human emotions. Nevertheless… it has no bearing on what we came here to do.”

    Almost instantly, ‘N’ stepped up and put a hand on the girl’s shoulders. “W-Whitlea… you shouldn’t have come here.”

    “I had to,” the girl whispered tearfully. “I knew what Blake was planning to do.”

    The older, robed man sneered, switching his gaze between the two boys.

    “Touching… but this melodrama has grown tiresome. You two see yourselves as some great heroes. In reality, you are not great. The truly great understand that sacrifices must be made in order to ensure the survival of those who deserve it. Hopefully…”

    He turned and cast a meaningful eye at ‘N’, who instinctively put his arms around the brown-haired girl. The older, robed male allowed himself a smile.

    “…when you rule, you will understand that much better than you do now.”

    Whitlea paused for a moment –

    She let out a sudden scream, trying to struggle away from ‘N’, who held her even more tightly, to the point where all she could do is stretch out her hand and yell, “NO!!!!”

    ‘N’ finally spoke. “Don’t! This isn’t necessary!”

    “That’s where I disagree with you,” the older man said curtly, turning his attention away from them and toward the brown-haired boy. “Reshiram, destroy them! Use Blue Flare!!”

    The tail of the white dragon glowed crimson, then erupted into brilliant red and golden flames. Reshiram released a keening cry to the heavens before inhaling. More flames burst from the creature’s mouth, these of an otherworldly shade of blue, aimed directly at Blake and Zekrom.

    But Blake and Zekrom were no longer there.

    Their forms had been replaced – replaced by that of a little, black-haired girl, no older than seven or eight. She could only give a hopeless whimper as her huge, blue eyes stared at the incoming assault in an expression of abject terror…


    “NOOOOOOOO!”

    Long arms and legs flailed as a young man awoke abruptly from his slumber. He fell to the floor with a loud series of thuds, taking the sheets and blanket with him. He lay there, feeling sweat drip down his brow and yet shivering at the same time.

    Damn… He swore mentally. Bet that woke her up…

    Sure enough, a matter of seconds later, there were three loud knocks at his door. He sat up, looking around. He was in a small, ordinary-looking room. White-walled and slightly austere, its only bit of personality came in the form of the cluster of clothes that lay in a corner of his floor, next to the small closet.

    “Dalton?” a high but somewhat creaky voice queried. “Dalton, are you alright?”

    “Yeah!” the young man yelled back. His throat hurt from trying to talk so loudly, so soon after waking up. He jumped out of his bundle of sheets and ran to the door, opening it.

    A thin, old, bespectacled woman with somewhat long, snow-white hair was staring back at him. She was wearing a nightgown. Her brow was creased in an expression of concern.

    “Dear lord, boy,” she creaked, her voice incredulous. “You could wake all the dead in Azalea City with that screaming…and you’re all sweaty too! You look terrible. Maybe you should take today off.”

    The young man sighed. “No, Ms. Lucy, I’m fine…”

    The old woman turned her wrist. A small, gold watch was there. She peered at it intently. Dalton had no idea why she insisted on using a watch she couldn’t really see to attempt to tell time. “Well, in that case, you’d better get moving. Doesn’t your first class start at half-past-nine?”

    “What time is it?” Dalton asked, his face falling.

    “Eight-fifty…” she paused for a moment. Dalton’s heart instantly jumped into overdrive. “…six.”

    The young man had already bitten his lip to let off a horrible swear in reaction to this news. Instead, he controlled himself and settled for a loud groan. “Thanks.”

    “Of cour—” she started…but Dalton closed the door in her face. She smiled warmly. She knew he wasn’t trying to be rude…he was just in a hurry.

    Meanwhile, Dalton had dove into his closet. He emerged almost impossibly quickly from it, sending more clothes flying onto the increasingly cluttered floor. Adjacent to his room was a small bathroom barely big enough for the sink, toilet, and shower it contained. He quickly turned both knobs on his faucet, thinking to himself that it was a very good thing that he usually showered at night, because he definitely didn’t have time now. After furiously brushing his teeth, he leaned down toward the sink. Catching a handful of the rushing torrent of water into his cupped hands, he slung it back onto his face and looked up into the mirror.

    A young man in his late teens stared back. His hair was black and fell in neat, somewhat boring bangs down to his eyebrows. Two bluish-gray eyes stared back at him from underneath the curtain of hair. At the moment, these eyes were tired and were sagging a bit at the bottom lids. A white button-down shirt wrapped around his black graphic tee. Brushing his hair down with his hand, he checked his appearance for one final time before darting out of the bathroom and then out of his bedroom, grunting as he picked up a backpack near the door and slung it around his shoulder on the way.

    He looked left briefly. This was a small apartment; the kitchen, dining area, and living room were all sort of melded together into one. The old lady was sitting on the couch, watching the news and apparently working a couple of knitting needles. Dalton had never asked her how old she was exactly. He’d always thought it rude.

    “Ms. Lucy…” he tried to get her attention. For being probably around seventy, most of her senses were still as sharp as ever. She turned around almost immediately. “I’m going.”

    “With no breakfast?” she lowered her knitting needles and ball of yarn and glanced at Dalton a bit sadly – but he was already moving toward the door.

    “No time,” he uttered – but Lucy stopped him.

    “Dalton!” she shouted. Dalton had the door open and one foot out of it, but he turned around. “Do you think you could pick up some milk on the way back?”

    “…Sure,” Dalton answered. Lucy smiled apologetically.

    “You know I wouldn’t normally ask something like that…” she said. “But if the DEPA auditors decide to come calling, it needs to look like you’re helping me out at least once in a while.”

    “I get it,” Dalton sighed.

    “You have a good day,” Lucy said, giving Dalton a warm smile.

    “You, too,” Dalton answered before closing the door behind him. He locked it with a key he’d had clipped around the belt of his blue jeans, then set off down the stairs at a slight trot. He frowned as he approached the outdoors and noticed the relative lack of light for this time of the year. “Don’t tell me…”

    He opened the small front door to the apartment building and instantly heard the pitter-patter of rain falling onto the pavement. He looked up into the wall of gray clouds, muttering “…Seriously?”

    As he made the short walk to the college, Dalton made a mental note of Lucy’s last instructions. Gotta get some milk on the way back…

    Lucy was a very proud, independent, old lady. But the Union Party didn’t know or care. They simply saw an old woman of about seventy and assumed she needed all the help she could get. Normally, Lucy would venture out and grab the groceries herself – or Dalton would at least go with her – but word on the street was that the DEPA was coming in a few weeks to do their end-of-term audits.

    Why was this so important to Dalton? Dalton was at the city college under the Service Scholarship program created by the Department of Education and Personal Advancement – DEPA, for short. As the program’s name implied, it covered costs for a student’s education in return for their service to a person or people that the government had classified as ‘special needs.’ In most cases, like Dalton, a student was housed with an elderly or disabled citizen and under government mandate to help them in any way they requested. Dalton was fortunate in a sense; he’d heard quite a few horror stories about the Service Scholarship program. Most of the hosts weren’t nearly as kind as Lucy. In fact, he’d heard some of them were downright nasty, subjecting their caretakers to humiliating and demeaning tasks. What was worse was that the students had to do them without complaint; or else, the host would run off and tell DEPA, who would then revoke the student’s scholarship – and, in most cases, that student’s chance at receiving a higher education.

    Unlike a lot of the Union Party’s ideas…the Service Scholarship program wasn’t that bad in theory. Hell, it was how Dalton himself was going to school with no family to help him, so he could only complain about it so much. Still, though… Dalton wasn’t very trusting of the Union Party.

    He lived in what was geographically known as the Johto region. Politically, however, it fell under the People’s Federated Union of Harmonia. There were no political parties in Harmonia…just one party. The Party. The Union Party. They were the ones that made the laws and enforced them. It sounded simple… yet, like most things in politics, it was simply very complicated.

    Harmonia operated under a strange constitutional monarchy-republic… thing. The chief lawmakers were at the Council of Eight. The way Dalton understood it from his government class, four of them were elected by the people, and four were chosen by Harmonia’s hereditary monarch. But Dalton, being the skeptic he was, thought there was more to it than that. First off, the voters for the four elected positions came almost exclusively from Harmonia’s central region – that is, the land once known as Unova. Most people in Johto weren’t afforded their own votes, but instead voted as cities. The thinking was that Johto’s common man was too far removed geographically and (although nobody came out and said it) educationally from the central hub in Unova to make an informed decision on who Harmonia’s leaders should be.

    In fact, Harmonia seemed to be thinking along the lines that every child in Johto was somewhat lacking between the ears. When they annexed Johto to the Union, they made sweeping changes in the education laws. Dalton had heard of a time long ago in Johto where compulsory education only went up to the age of ten. Any remaining necessary skills were often learned on an individual basis at home or at a trade school of some sort. Under Harmonian rule, however, children started mandatory education at the age of four and continued for twelve full years before being considered for a two- or three-year trade school or a five-year college program. Dalton had wondered for a while about the early start time for schooling. He didn’t feel like four-year-olds (or their parents, for that matter) should have had to worry about homework. But the Union Party maintained that the sooner a child entered a structured, uniform education program, the more likely it was that they would unlock the full potential of their intelligence…

    …or some drabble like that. When Dalton thought of the twelve-year program – when he visualized innocent, little four-year-olds being herded into a classroom before a state-appointed and Party-approved teacher, only one word came readily to mind: indoctrination.

    But Dalton’s ideas weren’t mainstream. Most people around him loved Harmonia and loved the Party… or, at least, they had few to no complaints about it. Dalton could give the Party one thing to its credit: it was efficient – sometimes ruthlessly so. And it was that efficiency that perhaps bothered Dalton the most. It was the way that, every time Dalton heard on the news about a law being passed, the decision was always “unanimous” – and if not the first time, then certainly the second time. If a law had been shot down twice in a row by the Council, Dalton had never heard about it. It was fishy to him. Eight people wasn’t a lot, but it was far too many for everyone to agree on everything all the time…

    As Dalton looked up at the pillared entrance of the main hall of the college, he heard a long chime-line tone ring and echo throughout the campus. Flipping his wrist and looking at his watch as he accelerated up the stairs a few moments later, he saw 9:22 and breathed a sigh of relief. I’ve still got some time, he thought as he entered the hall to the sight of many students conversing and interacting.

    Right inside the main door, he came upon a classroom’s open door in front of him and to his left. A young man, probably about his age, walked out, and on the other side of the main hallway stood a blonde girl that was about a head shorter. With nearly no regard for Dalton’s existence or presence, she cut in front of him and jumped into the boy’s arms. Dalton hoped they would move to one side or the other, but they didn’t – they began locking lips like there was no tomorrow, right in front of him. After about ten seconds of this, Dalton couldn’t take anymore. He cleared his throat loudly. The boy and girl looked straight at him, arms still wrapped tightly around each other. They shuffled over to one side, eyeing him suspiciously.

    Dalton noticed about three or four steps later and looked over at them. “Oh… sorry. Carry on.”

    And, on cue, they resumed their make-out session near the wall. Dalton allowed himself a bit of a smirk, rolled his eyes, and walked away. He supposed it was a bit much to ask for a boy and a girl in their late teens to have grown past the phase where they couldn’t keep their hands (and lips) off each other. With a heavy sigh, Dalton reasoned that it could have been worse. After all, the people of Harmonia were still allowed to date, court, and marry whomever they wished – for now. He supposed that was an effect of the way the original king and queen of Harmonia had wed.

    Dalton scoffed to himself as he entered his classroom, Room 117. On the other hand, he thought, maybe if Harmonia did arrange marriages I’d have a little bit better shot.

    Dalton wasn’t ugly by any stretch of the imagination. He was, however, skinny, quiet, and very bookish. Those tended not to be qualities that girls in their mid-to-late teens valued in male love interests. That didn’t matter much to Dalton, though.

    Dalton, you see, had a plan. He was going to become a Royal Historian for Harmonia. In order to do that, though, he needed top marks – especially in his history and his writing courses. After all, one couldn’t be trusted to help write and edit Harmonia’s history books without a firm grasp on the language…

    The classrooms were set up in a rather interesting manner in his creative writing elective course, which was the first of the day. Of course, by now, most things in the school operated off computers. There were a couple of large tables, each with about a dozen or so small cubicles with chairs in front of them. Here, one could plug in his or her computer and do their work without worrying about feeling the temptation to copy anyone else – or vice versa. In a sense, he was around a bunch of people, but he was also alone when he needed to be.

    Fortunately for Dalton, his earliest class of the morning was also his favorite: creative writing, taught by Professor Everett McCourt. For many reasons, Dr. Everett McCourt stood out among the professors of the College of Azalea City. Most of the professors were older, preferred a clean-cut appearance, wore dark suits and ties, and insisted on being called by their surname and title.

    But when a kid decided to walk into the classroom and shout, “Hey, E-Mac! How’s life treating you?” (like a guy had just done on his way to his cubicle), this relatively young professor, still in his thirties, would smile good-naturedly and give the kid a nod in return. His eyes were a twinkling blue, his hair blonde, long, and slicked back, and he never looked quite clean-shaven. The few occasions for which he ever did shave (commencement and other equally high-toned events) took another full ten years off his appearance, to the point where he could almost pass for an older student.

    He usually preferred a sport coat, shirt opened to the second button, and a pair of khakis, and today was no different. (When he was feeling particularly adventurous, though, he would teach class in jeans.)

    It was still anyone’s guess how Everett McCourt managed to become a professor with such an informal bearing and casual demeanor about him. Dalton’s guess was that McCourt simply taught a lower-level course that a lot of majors didn’t take seriously – and that he happened to be pretty good at it.

    Dalton sat down at his cubicle. He put his head down as he went into his bag. Then he felt someone tap him on the shoulder. He jumped horribly, banging his knee hard against the underside of the table and choking out a swear through his gritted teeth as he felt his lower leg start to go numb.

    “Whoa, whoa…” he heard a voice chuckle. “You’re really edgy this morning.”

    Dalton looked to his left. A tan-skinned boy with a light brown, curly mop of hair was settling into the seat right next to him. Dalton could just barely make out the striped v-neck shirt under the teenager’s black hoodie. Unmistakable, however, was the long, wooden deck of a skateboard stowed underneath the other youth’s cubicle.

    “I’m guessing you woke up on time and skated to school today, Evan?” Dalton muttered. Evan Stanfeld was, for all intents and purposes, the only real friend of Dalton’s own age that the latter had. Dalton wasn’t a very popular young man around school, nor did he have any desire to be. People often mistook his dry wit for snark (on the rare occasions that it wasn’t), and the fact that his worldview was a bit…out there didn’t help matters. But Evan Stanfeld was too easygoing to care about any of that stuff – and without him, both college life and life in general would have been infinitely more boring. “Well, I woke up late… and ran.”

    “You’re oversleeping a lot lately, dude,” Evan commented. Usually, Dalton didn’t know whether to take him seriously, but the unusually solemn tone in Evan’s voice indicated that the latter seemed genuinely concerned. “What’s going on?”

    “It’s these… dreams I’ve been having…” Dalton murmured, almost under his breath. He didn’t really want to tell Evan, who was one of the few people that didn’t think he was slightly crazy. Right then, he heard a scraping behind him. Evan’s expression changed.

    “Hey, Dalton…” a familiar feminine voice cut into the conversation and kept him from explaining the content of these dreams. Dalton whirled around. Right in front of him was a girl, straddling the next chair. Pale, freckly-faced, blonde, blue-eyed, and bespectacled, she somehow managed to skirt the line between plain and stunningly attractive. It was almost as if whoever or whatever created her had started out with the face of a goddess, then toned her beauty down in a few deliberate spots to make her more relatable to mere mortals. Dalton tried not to look at her legs, but did notice that she was wearing a blouse, a short skirt, and some quite long socks.

    “Loretta…?” Dalton muttered in confusion. She was…well, Dalton didn’t know what Loretta was to him. Sometimes acquaintance, sometimes professional rival (if there was such a thing in college), Loretta Burgess’s mood and disposition, toward Dalton in particular, changed moreso than most women – and that was saying a lot.

    “Dalton…?” Loretta imitated him, tilting her head in a similar fashion.

    “What do you want?” Dalton asked casually. Loretta frowned, then bit her lip without meeting the boy’s eye.

    “You have a free block right after this, right?”

    Dalton raised an eyebrow. Since when had Loretta cared about his schedule…? “Yeah, I guess…”

    “Can you stay after?” she asked. “I want to talk to you.”

    Dalton saw the opportunity and couldn’t help it. “What’s up? Need help with a homework assignment?”

    Both he and Loretta were near the top of the class. Who was number one and who was number two changed with the week. Loretta smirked as she jumped up off the chair and to her feet.

    “That’s okay. I already finished everything on the syllabus for the rest of the semester,” she said offhandedly. Then, her voice and demeanor changed; she didn’t look quite as confident. “Just… I dunno, stay here after…”

    And with that, she yanked up her bag and left, only to be replaced by another female student – a brunette that didn’t look nearly as happy with the seating arrangement and made a point to pull her chair as far as she could away from Dalton without moving out of the cubicle.

    Dalton whirled around to Evan, who had a visible smirk on his face. “So, it’s those kinds of dreams, huh? Don’t worry about it. They’re perfectly normal. Hell, I started having them when I was about thirteen.”

    Dalton let out a strangled grunt. “No, it’s not…”

    “I keep telling you, man,” Evan intoned, slapping him on the shoulder. “Make love, not war. Seriously. You should hook up with her and have a bunch of super-smart babies. You guys could take over the world!”

    “Better not let anybody from the Party catch you talking like that,” Dalton chuckled ironically.

    “They’re a buzzkill. I had no problem with ‘em ‘til they tore down the one good skate spot in town to build a primary school…” replied Evan in his normal nonchalant tone of voice. “Just for the record, though, I dated a cheerleader and a nerdy girl in Year Eleven. Cheerleaders have the reputation, but they have nothing on nerds. I’m dead serious.”

    “Wha—?” uttered Dalton a bit dimly. He could feel his face growing hot.

    “You think I’m joking,” Evan said. He’d pulled his computer up right then. “I think it’s ‘cause they’re way more repressed or something…”

    “Why are we even having this conversation?” Dalton asked, a bit exasperated. “Loretta comes over to talk to me, and the first thing you assume is that she wants me in a closet somewhere.”

    It was right when Evan’s smirk grew that Dalton figured out that he’d simply given the boy more ammunition to use against him. “Closet, huh? Don’t go to the one on this floor – it’ll be occupied. Unless, of course, you’re into that sort of thing…”

    Dalton rolled his eyes and was about to respond, but he was rescued from that conversation by a loud declaration of, “All right, ladies and gentlemen, let’s get started!”

    His creative writing class went rather uneventfully that day. Dalton stayed behind as everyone began to leave the room, which wouldn’t be used for the next hour. Other students filed out, most in a hurry to get to other classes, some in a hurry to get home. Dr. McCourt was third to last to leave, jokingly asking Dalton if he needed help on an assignment. Evan, who stayed as long as possible, left next, insisting that Dalton give him a “blow-by-blow” of everything that happened with Loretta later, then leaving and snickering as if privy to the punch line of a joke that no one else heard.

    Then there was Dalton.

    It took him a couple of seconds of looking around for him to figure out that Loretta had left with everyone else.

    Typical… probably her idea of a prank…

    He was right about to leave as well, but he noticed that someone had left some of their things at a cubicle at the other table. A computer was open and a rather girly screen saver featuring bursting heart-shaped balloons was on display. Glittery writing appeared word-by-word in the middle of the popping hearts. Frowning, Dalton slowly walked over to the computer, thinking that maybe this screen saver or something else on the computer would give an indication of its owner.

    Small heart bubbles burst into view, grew, and popped all over the screen. In the middle, an invisible hand with an invisible pen seemed to be writing on the screen in very flowery, almost calligraphy-like script:

    “Mrs…” Dalton repeated as the abbreviation slowly came into view. His heart jumped as he saw the next word. “Lor… Loretta…”

    So this was Loretta’s computer. She was married? Dalton didn’t know that. Never mind the fact that it was rare (although nonetheless legal) for someone less than a year out of secondary school to be married…but he’d never seen her with a wedding or engagement ring.

    “Mrs… Loretta…” Dalton repeated. The first letter of the last word, being written slowly at the bottom of the screen, was a fancy uppercase ‘G’. An ‘r’ followed it very soon afterward. “Mrs. Loretta Gr—OUCH!”

    For a real hand had appeared out of nowhere and snapped the laptop shut. His finger was nipped, but Dalton managed to get most of his hand out of the way. He staggered backward, flailing his hand, then he looked up…

    Only to come face-to-face with Loretta Burgess.

    “Uh… hi… Loretta,” Dalton said awkwardly, not meeting her eye. She still had her hand on the computer and looked flustered. Her normally pale face was also very pink.

    “You’ve already seen it, so I guess I might as well cut to the chase,” she said breathlessly. Then, she inhaled very deeply and attempted to look Dalton straight in the eyes. “I know we haven’t always gotten along, sometimes we disagree in discussions and that kind of stuff… not to mention we’ve been trying to outdo each other in class all semester, but…”

    She shook her head, looked down, and gave a smile.

    “The truth is, I don’t think you’re all that bad,” she said. “I actually kinda… sorta… really… like you…… a lot.”

    Dalton’s brain was scrambled. Aside from their interactions in class (which were competitive if not antagonistic, but certainly not friendly), they were virtual strangers. He’d been so focused on making sure his grades were in order that he hadn’t really focused on romance at all – except when Lucy would ask him every so often if he had a girlfriend. As for Loretta herself, he’d gone almost this whole first year of college under the impression she saw him as a rival and an obstacle – if she didn’t entirely hate his guts.

    “I… I don’t know what to say,” he uttered. There were a lot of things that had blindsided him all at the same time – the fact that he was having a girl, and a pretty good-looking one at that, confess her feelings for him, first off. Then there was the fact that it was Loretta, of all people. “I…”

    “Shh…” Loretta put her finger on his lips and then removed it. He’d never really seen it from the firsthand perspective, but there was no mistaking the hazy look in her eyes, the angle of her head, and the strange, pouty motion of her lips. She was leaning in to kiss him – and it took a second or two for him to realize, equally unmistakably, that he had no intention of backing off.

    He could practically feel her breath in his mouth. Then, a strange ringing sound made him jump and then step back. “Wait…”

    Loretta pulled back as well, looking surprised and disappointed. She watched as Dalton pulled out his cellphone and put it to his ear.

    “Hello? This is Dalton Gregg,” he queried, before hearing a voice on the other end.

    “Yes, this is Calven Tesla,” it said, sounding a bit rushed and panicky. Dalton’s expression quickly changed to one of confusion. Tesla was his building’s landlord, and he only ever called to discuss a rent payment. Dalton had taken the check down to him just a few days before, so he knew they weren’t behind. “You’re at school, right…? You’d… you’d better get back to the apartment quick. It’s Lucille.”

    It took every bit of Dalton’s grip not to drop the phone as he disconnected the call. Through his worry-numbed brain, he barely perceived a pair of arms on his shoulder. “Dalton… what’s wrong?”

    “I… I gotta go,” Dalton replied breathlessly, tearing himself away from her, grabbing his already packed bag, and rushing from the room. Loretta seemed stuck for a moment, then decided to blurt after him:

    “743-1997!”


    With the rain having slowed and nothing impeding him, Dalton went back home in a near-dead sprint. To his horror, he arrived near his building to find it being flashed upon by the unmistakable spinning red light of a city ambulance. He darted up the one flight of stairs and found the door to his apartment open. His heart pounded within him as he entered the apartment, and nearly burst out of his chest when he looked upon the scene.

    Two men, both wearing the dark uniform associated with the city’s ambulance staff, were knelt and huddled around a body that was covered partially by the couch. A white-coated, glasses-wearing man stood nearby. One of the paramedics shook his head. The man in white took a deep breath.

    “Call it.”

    Dalton rushed forward. The coat-wearing gentleman, who had apparently just noticed Dalton’s presence, tried to hold him back. His hands were quickly swatted away by the teenager. “I’m not a child, damn it!”

    He arrived on the other side of the couch to see the body. Deep down, he already knew, but seeing her limp, fallen form with his own two eyes made it final, irrefutable –

    Lucy was dead.

    END

    ~~~ *** ~~~ *** ~~~


    So what did you think? I know it's a bit early to get a feel for where the story is going, but if you see some things you did(n't) like, feel free to comment! I always respond to every review I get, and I try to do so in a timely manner. I don't bite, either - figuratively or literally. Heck, if you've got a question about the fic you think would be strange in the public forum, PM me. Or if you're writing a story yourself and would like me to review it. I probably don't review as much as I should, but I always do one if the writer specifically asks me, so I won't blow you off.

    Anyway, hope you enjoyed reading this first chapter. I already have several written, so I should be back with the next one before too long. (And for those of you that know me, you also know that I'm good for that kind of thing. ^_^)

    Later!

    - EM1
    Last edited by EonMaster One; 12th December 2012 at 3:25 AM.

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  2. #2
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    First post?

    First post. ^_^

    I'm ALL over this one!

    Ineresting intro... very interesting intro. Quite the range of questions running through my mind, but other than what could happen to Dalton now that Lucy has passed on (bless her fictional soul), I get the feeling you'll reveal that rather later than sooner.

    Also from the sneak preview you threw at us earlier, I can guess the evil writer in you is baying for more than a sweet old lady's blood.

    One thing that struck me as odd was the Council of Eight thing. As far as their dominon over the planet goes, that I can figure. But unless that council doesn't count the supreme overlord dude, it'll be a tad problematic making "democratic" decisions. I settled for "If a tie occurs, then it doesn't get voted on" for now, but I get the feeling more will be revealed.

    Head of the pack heading out now...

    L@er!
    Last edited by Air Dragon; 5th September 2012 at 1:11 PM.
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  3. #3

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    Ah, so nice to see this up.

    Gotta say, it took me a while to grasp what the hell was going on in that dream sequence, and you might already know how I feel about those in general. Still, it was a masterful move not to explain any of the surroundings or scenery, instead focusing completely on the people and Pokémon - which makes sense for a dream sequence.

    As soon as you started writing about how Lucy was exceptionally nice and that was uncommon for most of the DEPA hosts, I knew something was off, so the ending didn't throw me completely. I sense Dalton won't be getting a new host that's nearly as nice as that sweet old lady. As for Dalton himself, well... you do like writing these snarky, above-intelligent youths with little care for society's norms, don't you? He's still written well, but we really have yet to see his actual personality - what lays underneath his dry quips. The dynamic between him and Evan reminds me a lot of Lucas and Wil from Maverick Heart.

    The looming question for me is - where are the Pokémon? Then again, seeing as how this story revolves around Team Plasma and the Harmonia business, I can imagine that in this world, Team Plasma's plan from the Generation V games... worked? Definitely looking forward to reading that. I was actually thinking of writing something with a similar thematic a year ago, but dropped it.

    Overall, looking forward to the next installment.

  4. #4
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    Well, I'm hoping by now that everyone's had ample time to digest that first chapter. Judging by the number of views, it's certainly been read - or at least skimmed. :-)


    Air Dragon:

    First post?

    First post. ^_^
    Early bird catches the Wurmple. ^_^


    Ineresting intro... very interesting intro. Quite the range of questions running through my mind, but other than what could happen to Dalton now that Lucy has passed on (bless her fictional soul), I get the feeling you'll reveal that rather later than sooner.

    Also from the sneak preview you threw at us earlier, I can guess the evil writer in you is baying for more than a sweet old lady's blood.
    Hey, it could have been worse. At least I didn't have her brutally gunned down like - ah, never mind. That'd be spoiling too much. ;-)


    One thing that struck me as odd was the Council of Eight thing. As far as their dominon over the planet goes, that I can figure. But unless that council doesn't count the supreme overlord dude, it'll be a tad problematic making "democratic" decisions. I settled for "If a tie occurs, then it doesn't get voted on" for now, but I get the feeling more will be revealed.
    (Actually, some of the regions are still independent. Kanto and Johto, however, have been taken over.)

    No, the Council doesn't count the monarch. The monarch would carry the deciding vote in the case of a tie - but the Council is just a facade to carry the illusion of democracy. Note that I mentioned that most dissenters within the council (which doesn't happen often, as one has to trumpet Party ideals to stay alive, let alone make any political headway.). At the end of the day, the monarch is the one who makes the decisions. But the inner workings of the Harmonian government will cease to matter much in very short order. Just know that at its core, it's a dictatorship. And if every mention of "the Party" reminds you of Orwellian literature (1984, to be precise), that's completely intentional.


    zen_master_dude:

    Gotta say, it took me a while to grasp what the hell was going on in that dream sequence, and you might already know how I feel about those in general. Still, it was a masterful move not to explain any of the surroundings or scenery, instead focusing completely on the people and Pokémon - which makes sense for a dream sequence.
    Much has been made of my dream sequences lately... I don't quite know what to think of it.


    As soon as you started writing about how Lucy was exceptionally nice and that was uncommon for most of the DEPA hosts, I knew something was off, so the ending didn't throw me completely. I sense Dalton won't be getting a new host that's nearly as nice as that sweet old lady. As for Dalton himself, well... you do like writing these snarky, above-intelligent youths with little care for society's norms, don't you? He's still written well, but we really have yet to see his actual personality - what lays underneath his dry quips. The dynamic between him and Evan reminds me a lot of Lucas and Wil from Maverick Heart.
    I do have a penchant for snarky, above-intelligent youths with little care for society's norms, don't I? It's probably because I went through that phase myself for a few years in my mid-teens. And because I think they're freaking hilarious protagonists. As for Evan... well, he was supposed to be a Shiro Expy, but I guess he's got a Wil-like bent for slightly dirty jokes. But... well, things probably won't go like you're thinking they'll go.


    The looming question for me is - where are the Pokémon? Then again, seeing as how this story revolves around Team Plasma and the Harmonia business, I can imagine that in this world, Team Plasma's plan from the Generation V games... worked? Definitely looking forward to reading that. I was actually thinking of writing something with a similar thematic a year ago, but dropped it.
    The dream sequence had a partial but essential basis in the history of this particular universe. :-) That's about as un-spoily as I can say it.


    Thanks again to everyone who read and reviewed this chapter. I hope I made a good first impression. :-)

    In this next chapter, you'll find out a bit more about some of the essential characters, and Dalton may happen upon another life-altering event. Enjoy!!!


    ~~~ *** ~~~ *** ~~~
    2. Aftershock


    “I know this seems like a self-centered question, but…what happens to me?”

    “That’s not a self-centered question – it’s very valid, given your situation. Since it’s already April, I suppose we can be gracious and allow you to stay at your current residence for the remainder of the school year. Mr. Tesla certainly says you are welcome to do so. Then you’ll be returning to your family for the break.”

    “I don’t have a family. I thought you guys would know that.”

    “…That’s very unfortunate… but I wouldn’t worry about it right now if I were you. My recommendation is that you take another couple of days off to deal with this. That’s not an order – just a suggestion.”

    “I can’t… not with exams starting soon…”

    “Like I said, just a suggestion – and I’m sure your professors would understand. In any case, you can meet with DEPA after the semester has ended and we can discuss your options then.”


    It had been four days since Lucy’s sudden heart attack and death. Dalton Gregg still felt like he was walking around in a haze. A lot of people would have said that he was being a bit dramatic about the death of a host. Then again, a lot of those same people would have seen the deaths of their own hosts as cause for celebration… not like Dalton could blame them. A lot of the Service Scholarship hosts were jerks.

    But Lucy was different.

    The last four days had been four days of grief, confusion, apprehension, and yes, even a tear or a dozen. The people around him didn’t understand. After all, they usually stayed with their hosts for as long as they were in school, then went back to their families. Dalton had no family to whom he could return. He’d been bounced around between cities and between foster homes since the age of eleven. For three years this went on, until Lucy, for whatever reason, took the boy in and allowed him to finish his secondary schooling (at this point he had two years left) in a stable environment.

    Dalton had never known any of his grandparents, either. His father’s parents had died when Dalton was very young, and his mother’s parents weren’t in the picture because they hadn’t approved of her marriage.

    Then there was his sister, whom he hadn’t seen for going on seven years now.

    So, in many senses, Lucy was the closest thing to family that Dalton had left.

    And now she was gone.

    Thus, it was in a fog of grief and shock that Dalton walked back into his 9:30 Creative Writing course on Friday. He’d only missed Wednesday’s class. Still, people noticed when he walked in at 9:28. (First off, he was usually much earlier than that.) He saw that Evan was already there, trying to give him a weak smile. (Evan, as his only friend, was naturally the first to know what had happened after Dalton himself did.) The brunette that normally sat in the cubicle to Dalton’s right had been displaced by a blonde – a blonde who was jumping up to her feet. She threw her arms around Dalton, who staggered, unprepared. He was torn between a mix of shock, embarrassment, and apprehension. He’d gotten over it in the last two years or so, but he was still a bit uncomfortable with people touching him. Some of his caretakers (mainly his biological dad and his first set of foster parents) were a bit physical with him during their angrier moments. Not to mention he was a target for bullies for a good portion of his school days. But he’d never been physically scarred, and once Lucy had taken him in, even the mental wounds had begun to heal a bit…

    He instantly felt his eyes start swimming before he could even think to stop it. This was embarrassing on so many levels. Here he was, standing at the classroom door with everyone else seated, about to break down in tears. He had half a mind to turn around and run back home…

    He blinked hard. He couldn’t do it. Not with exams coming up. So much rode on his next couple of weeks. He had to show DEPA that he was deserving of their aid. Maybe he could get another host here in town to continue his schooling. He was going to do whatever it took – and that meant staying, no matter how much he wanted to crawl back in bed, pull the covers over his head, and wish the world away.

    “Oh, Dalton…” the girl whispered, drawing her face back. Dalton heard the voice and saw the blue eyes (which seemed to be a bit watery). Then, something clicked – something that he hadn’t had time to process at all this past week. Loretta Burgess was...well, Dalton still didn’t know. In fact, he knew even less now than he did four days ago. But she did have a gentle hand on his somewhat surprised face. “Evan told me what happened. I’m so sorry.”

    “Loretta…” Dalton muttered. His voice was scratchy and tired, as if he hadn’t used it in a day or two. He didn’t know what to make of Loretta suddenly being so concerned about him. Was she under the impression that they were going out now? He hadn’t found the time to make a decision one way or another. Either way, though, he appreciated her sympathy in that moment. He gave her a short hug in return and then let her sort of lead him to his seat by the arm. Soon after he sat down and started to get his things out of his bag, a shadow appeared over him. Both Loretta and Evan looked up and behind them before Dalton reacted.

    “Mr. Gregg?”

    Dalton finally turned around. He was looking up at Dr. Everett McCourt, who was not extremely tall, but nonetheless towered over Dalton as the latter was sitting down. He was offering an attempt at a smile – almost as if he wanted to smile, but not look too happy.

    “Hi, professor,” Dalton muttered.

    “How are you holding up?” McCourt asked. Dalton didn’t bother asking the professor how he knew.

    “As well as I can right now,” the young student replied heavily.

    McCourt nodded solemnly, satisfied with the answer. Then he took off toward the podium, where he loudly gave his customary greeting. “All right, ladies and gentlemen, let’s get started!”

    All eyes and ears were trained on Dr. McCourt as he started his discourse.

    “For those of you that bothered to look at the syllabus this semester, you’ll see that today is an important day for us,” his voice chimed over the audience. His blue eyes glinted as he added, “For those of you that didn’t bother looking at the syllabus… well, today’s still important.”

    A brief smattering of chuckles broke out across the class of twenty or so students. Dalton didn’t join in.

    “This entire semester, I’ve been giving you various objects or scenes and asking you to paint pictures with words,” the professor intoned to the class, who was hanging on his every word. Dalton tried to cut through the haze in his brain to pay attention. “Today, that picture is…you! That’s right – I want you to spend the next twenty minutes writing about yourself. Unfiltered, unfettered, and, yes, even uncensored – you as the author, you as the subject. And… go!”

    Dalton stared blankly at the emptiness at the word processor program on his laptop for a few moments. Then, slowly, as if bidden by some voice outside of him dictating the words, he started to type.

    “My name is Dalton Gregg. I am seventeen years old. My dream is to become a Harmonia Royal Historian – to join the Society in Castelia City of the Unova Region. Why?

    I have questions. Questions about myself, questions about my family, and questions about Pokémo—”


    He jumped – as soon as he’d struck the ‘n’ key, the entire word had been replaced by a string of ‘X’. He stared at the computer bewilderedly for a moment.

    You can’t type ‘Pokémon’ in a computer?

    There was something about this that made him angry – maybe it was his realization of just how intent the Union Party was on snuffing XXXXXXX out of the lives of Harmonia’s inhabitants. Maybe it was anger that bled over from the fact that he was now, for all intents and purposes, alone in the world. Whatever the cause was for it, it boiled over within him. He shut his laptop with a frustrated snap.

    “Dr. McCourt!” he shouted. Everyone jumped. Judging by the mixture of muttered swears, several people in the room (Evan included) had smacked their knees on the undersides of the tables.

    The professor tilted his head and turned toward Dalton, asking what the latter thought was a maddeningly obvious question: “Something bothering you, Mr. Gregg?”

    “I’m not able to follow your instructions, sir.” Dalton tried to calm himself and remember that none of this was McCourt’s fault. McCourt simply smiled.

    “Sure, you can. If anyone can do what I’ve asked, it’s you.”

    “I’m sorry, professor, but…I can’t,” he muttered. “See…you wanted ‘unfiltered, unfettered, and uncensored.’ Those were your words, right?”

    “Yes. Yes, they were,” McCourt answered.

    “Well, my computer is censoring me,” Dalton said simply. “So I can’t do it.”

    McCourt tilted his head again. “You wouldn’t mind sharing what you wrote – or attempted to write – with the rest of the class, would you?”

    Dalton didn’t even need to open his laptop again. He’d memorized what he’d written down to the letter. It had become something of a mantra for him in the last year or two when life became difficult.

    As such, he’d repeated it probably about a hundred times in the last four days.

    “My name is Dalton Gregg,” he recited. “I am seventeen years old. My dream is to become a Harmonia Royal Historian – to join the Society in Castelia City of the Unova Region. Why? I have questions – questions about myself, questions about my family, and questions about…”

    He paused before the last word, almost as if he already knew the impact it would cause.

    “Pokémon.”

    Most of the class gasped audibly. McCourt rolled his eyes.

    “What are you guys, seven?” he laughed. “And I’m guessing the word that was censored was… right. I’m not surprised. So, these questions…”

    For some reason, Dalton’s grief- and anger-addled brain took this short utterance by his professor as an invitation to fire away.

    “Why did ‘Pokémon’ –” Half the class gasped again. “—become such a dirty word? It’s not like we don’t know that they exist – they live right outside of our walls! And why does the city even have walls in the first place? Is it to keep Pokémon out – or to keep us in? Or maybe, it’s a little bit of both…”

    McCourt sighed heavily. “That’s Harmonia’s law, Mr. Gregg. We don’t ask questions.”

    “‘We don’t ask questions.’ You mean, you don’t ask questions,” Dalton replied, and he was shaking now. His voice clenched within him and his eyes watered, as memories of his horrible childhood came flooding to the surface like a river overflowing its banks. “That’s probably because you grew up pretty stable, huh? Your family wasn’t split apart for reasons you don’t understand. You didn’t have to watch your little sister taken from you and shipped off to a home in Unova for…‘re-education’ – all because of Pokémon!!

    “Dalton.” McCourt was deadly serious now, all traces of his previous frivolity gone. On top of that, it was the first time he had ever used Dalton’s first name. At the moment, he sounded less like a professor and more like a father talking to a misbehaving child. “You’ve suffered a loss recently, and I can completely understand that. However, I must insist that you calm down.”

    “But—”

    “That’s enough, Dalton.” McCourt’s glinting eyes had turned somewhat cold. “See me after class. We need to talk.”

    His rage finally having broken, Dalton collapsed into his chair and stared blankly at his cubicle. He heard nothing for the remainder of the period. Not even Evan or Loretta could get through to him. He wasn’t even sure Loretta had tried, and honestly, he didn’t care either way anymore. When it occurred to him that he was the only one left, McCourt’s last words to him rang in his head. Blankly, he stood up and walked over to McCourt’s podium. A paralyzing thought started to enter his mind. Had that rant possibly landed him out of the professor’s good graces – maybe even gotten him expelled? Nervously, he approached the podium, where McCourt was standing rather straight – probably not a good sign.

    “That outburst wasn’t like you, Dalton,” McCourt said seriously. “Are you entirely sure you didn’t come back from your bereavement leave too soon?”

    Dalton shook his head solemnly. “I can’t just…stop. I have to keep going. Otherwise, I won’t ever…”

    He trailed off.

    “I agree that you have to go on living, but…” McCourt heaved a heavy sigh. “You can’t just plow on through life pretending you haven’t suffered. It’s not healthy. And maybe I’ve got you all wrong, but it seems like… it seems like you’ve been doing just that for a matter of years and not days.”

    Dalton scowled and turned his head from McCourt. Tears were intruding at the corners of his eyes, trying to escape and fall.

    “These eyes see more than you think, Mr. Gregg,” McCourt seemed to have resumed his jovial nature. “You don’t realize it, but you have very good friends. Mr. Stanfeld? I only wish he was as dedicated to his work as he is to goofing off with you. And then there’s Ms. Burgess as well… hm?”

    The twinkle in his eyes had clearly returned as he looked at Dalton knowingly.

    But the black-haired young man shook his head. “I… we can’t. Evan doesn’t care one way or another… that’s why he’s so great to have around. But Loretta? She wouldn’t get it.”

    “Do you really plan on pursuing a position in the Royal Historian Society for those reasons?” McCourt asked, his smile now gone and replaced by an apologetic expression. “You’ll never get in. You know that… and it’s not because of your lack of aptitude – you’re more than intelligent enough. But your loyalty to Harmonia and the Party is not as it should be…”

    Dalton frowned.

    “In fact…” the teacher continued, accompanying his comment with a sigh. “A more… I guess, ‘patriotic’ individual could have easily understood your little rant as an act of sedition.”

    Dalton’s heart sank horribly.

    “I’ve never considered myself much of a ‘patriot’, though,” McCourt reassured him with a wry laugh.

    “So does this mean you’re not going to report me to the Dean?” Dalton asked.

    “That’s not worth the headache… but I do need you to come with me,” McCourt said. Dalton went to gather his things, but McCourt said after him rather loudly, “There’s no class in here next hour. They’ll still be there if we get back.”

    “‘If’ we get back?” Dalton repeated, uncertain that he’d heard the professor correctly.

    When we get back, I mean…” chuckled the blond-haired professor.

    So, leaving his things behind, he followed Dr. McCourt as the latter left the classroom…then left the hall…then left the campus entirely. As teacher and student walked through the city streets – a couple of college students recognized McCourt and waved at him – Dalton’s sense of curiosity began to grow.

    “Dr. McCourt?” he finally asked after about twenty minutes of walking.

    McCourt, in the lead, immediately answered, “Save that for the classroom – we’re both grown men, aren’t we? Outside, Everett’s fine.”

    “So… Everett,” Dalton said experimentally. As informal as the professor often was, it still felt…weird. “Where… exactly… are we going?”

    “Can’t talk about it here,” McCourt said as briskly as he was walking. “You’ll see when we get there – unless you want to back out and go back to campus. You’re more than welcome.”

    “No,” muttered Dalton. He never thought he’d find himself thinking this, but…school was the last place he wanted to be at the moment. It was probably getting around the halls already, how the goth kid (which he wasn’t, but most people saw the black hair and moody, quiet disposition and assumed as much) in Creative Writing had gone on a tirade and made a huge fool of himself.

    As Dalton had mentioned in his rant, Azalea City was surrounded on all four sides by a thick and rather high wall. Although built with modern attachments, like scary-looking machine gun turrets, its construction somewhat recalled an outer wall on the stone fortresses of an age long past. It was at one of these walls – the western wall, if Dalton had oriented himself correctly (the sun, though high in the sky, was vaguely behind them) – that McCourt’s pace began to slow, as if he was close to arriving at his destination. McCourt seemed to have taken to a very slow, stealthy sort of ambling as he slid along the wall. Dalton’s heart was positively pounding now. The Union soldiers tended to be a bit jumpy and paranoid about anything or anyone coming too close to the walls. Actually, Dalton was a bit surprised that they hadn’t been shot at…or just plain shot, for that matter.

    “They don’t see us down here?” he finally asked McCourt, his voice barely above a whisper.

    “They’re convinced that no one can escape from inside. It’s a sheer fifty-foot climb up and drop back down with nothing to grab onto, so I don’t really blame them,” McCourt answered. “The turrets face outside toward the Forest.”

    The Ilex Forest lay just to the northwest of Azalea City, nestled between it and the neighboring Goldenrod City. Over the years, expansion from both ends had caused the forest to shrink so that only a fraction of the original woods remained.

    McCourt reached a corner of the wall, seemingly muttering something to himself. Dalton, meanwhile, was glancing up furtively. The inside corners of the walls were the blind spot in the defense. Since Azalea was considered a fringe outpost, the guardsman force atop the walls wasn’t all that large. Thus, the guards weren’t posted in the corners, most of which featured the turrets. They trusted the guns to handle whatever unlikely threat did approach the walls. But because of the fear of an accident (and somewhat, Dalton guessed, to keep the populace at ease) the gun turrets were pointed exclusively away from the city itself.

    In short, here under the inside corner of the wall, they were out of range of the turrets, and out of sight of the guardsmen.

    “Seventeen paces…” McCourt muttered, walking alongside the wall. Dalton hugged the inside of the stone wall and followed the professor’s lead, counting off steps in his head up until McCourt started murmuring audibly. “Fourteen…fifteen…sixteen…”

    McCourt stopped.

    Dalton looked down underneath his feet, and immediately noticed that the ground here was packed a bit differently. McCourt crouched, putting his hand to the ground almost as if feeling for something.

    “Dr. McCourt?” questioned Dalton. “…Everett?”

    McCourt looked up and swiftly shushed him, going back to his work of searching for... whatever it was. He stuck his hand in the dirt and seemed to scoop out a handful.

    Dalton’s heart leapt into his throat as he heard the professor grunt, “Got it.”

    In the next instant, McCourt literally pulled a square chunk of ground out of the Earth itself. At least, that’s what Dalton’s astonished mind thought until he saw the ground’s underside. It was constructed of wood and slightly rusted metal…clearly a manmade invention. Furthermore, a square hole a few feet across appeared to descend into utter blackness. Dalton looked from the chasm up into the professor’s glinting, blue eyes.

    “Mr. Gregg…” the professor said. There was a different look about him now. “Feeling up for an adventure?”

    Dalton tried to speak, but the words got lost somewhere between his brain and his mouth, leaving his lips and face to move silently and awkwardly for a couple of seconds. When he finally found his voice, he uttered, “W-we’re not going down there, are we?”

    “You’re a smart kid,” McCourt answered with a smirk on his face. “You answer that question.”

    With that (and a slight grunt of effort) McCourt turned around and dangled his feet into the chasm. For a brief, horrible second, Dalton thought the professor was going to jump and be lost to the seemingly infinite blackness, but his fear never came to pass. McCourt was slowly and steadily descending, limb by limb, couple of inches by couple of inches. At that point it occurred to Dalton that McCourt was using something – probably a ladder of some sort – to climb down.

    Dalton looked around furtively. Was no one really going to come and try to stop them?

    “If you’re looking for soldiers, you won’t find them,” McCourt’s voice grunted up to Dalton from the darkness. “I’ve greased a few palms in exchange for this spot being left alone this time of the morning.”

    “You mean… bribery?” Dalton uttered, not knowing whether to be impressed, confused, or horrified.

    “If you’re going to get all legal on me, I guess so,” McCourt answered snippily, his voice fading. “Can you go ahead and come down now? I’m straining my voice trying to yell up there!”

    Dalton gulped. Everything reasonable in his head was telling him that this was a bad idea. But another voice was telling him not that he should go, but that he had to go. It was almost like he was taking advice from the proverbial angel and devil on his shoulders…except these two voices weren’t so morally absolute. It was more like one voice was giving him all the reasons why he should go…

    McCourt’s a bit out there… but he obviously knows what he’s doing. He’s trying to help somehow… maybe he even has an answer or two for all the questions I have.

    Besides, McCourt’s obviously come here himself a bunch of times without ever getting caught… so why would that change now that I’m with him?


    But no, the other voice told him, you have so many reasons not to take this risk. What about your future in the Society? You’re going to go to Unova – you’re going to live in Castelia City, and maybe even find Kallen…

    Forget that – what about now? You haven’t even given Loretta a solid answer yet.


    “Loretta?” muttered Dalton audibly. “What does Loretta have to do with any of this?”

    What are the chances that Kallen’s actually alive after all these years? How would I even find her in the first place? She was eight the last time I saw her, and that was over seven years ago. I probably wouldn’t even recognize her anymore. Not to mention she probably hates me. It was my fault…

    “Dalton?” McCourt called after him.

    Dalton swallowed hard. How much was he leaving behind, really?

    Nothing and nobody that can’t survive without me for an hour or two.

    His last thought was all at once emboldening and slightly depressing. He turned himself around and dangled over the edge, much like McCourt himself had done. As he’d almost predicted, his feet soon found what felt like rungs to a ladder. Once he could grab one with his hand, he started the slow climb downward.

    Just when he started to get the feeling that the ladder would never end, it did. He jumped down onto (by the sound of it) an iron-wrought walkway. The dripping sound of liquid filled his ears, and a horrible smell filled his nostrils. It was by the scent (which was somewhere midway between garbage and the contents of a recently-used toilet) that Dalton figured out…

    “We’re in the sewers… if you’re wondering about the smell,” McCourt muttered nonetheless.

    Dalton’s feet clanked along behind those of the professor, who still seemed to have a destination in mind.

    “So, that… erm… let’s call it a ‘monologue’, shall we? It was… eye-opening, to say the least,” McCourt started as he walked and Dalton followed. With a somewhat apologetic tone to his voice, he added, “I can’t say that I’m extremely surprised. You’re a very good writer, and as I’m sure you know by now, most good writers in history had lives fraught with tragedy and hardship.”

    Dalton thought of something in this statement that made him frown. Loretta Burgess was every bit as skilled in that class as Dalton himself was, if not a bit better. What did that mean about her…? Dalton never got the chance to bring it up, as McCourt seemed singularly determined to reach this new destination. Dalton took very little note of his surroundings. Even as he and the professor moved through the sewers, it was not long before everything started to look the same.

    Finally, Dalton and McCourt reached an upward column of metal bars, similar to the ones they had descended to enter the sewers. Dalton wondered for a second if they had somehow gone in a circle – but as McCourt latched himself onto the ladder and began climbing, Dalton was compelled to follow. He wasn’t exactly wild about the few seconds where he looked up to see the professor’s clothed backside hanging feet above him, but he figured it would be over soon. When McCourt managed to push the roof above him open, light flooded into the space, causing Dalton to squint. Strange sounds – sounds Dalton had never heard before – were mingling in with the song of dripping sewage. Finally, Dalton himself reached the top and climbed out.

    It took everything the young student had not to fall right to his backside on the spot.

    The area around him was extremely colorful, but decidedly… green. It was not as if Dalton had never seen grass before; the college campus had plenty of lawns that were kept freshly manicured in the spring to beautify the grounds. But this grass was vibrant, uneven, and so wild – it leapt halfway up to his knees half of the time. Bushes with red and blue flowers dotted his line of sight. Trees were a canopy overhead, growing long, tall, broad, unfettered. The sound in his ears was cacophonous but vaguely musical. He smelled the grass, and even caught what he supposed to be a trace of the nearby flowers on the air. It certainly beat raw sewage – or the polluted atmosphere of the city, for that matter.

    Dalton could not help but gaze in wonderment, his bluish-gray eyes permanently wide at the sights in front of him.

    “This is nature,” McCourt explained. “Unfiltered, unfettered…”

    “…Uncensored,” Dalton finished, almost in a trance as his eyes tried to drink in all three hundred and sixty degrees of the scene around him. “Where are we? Is this…”

    “…The Ilex Forest,” McCourt answered. “One of the few parts of it that hasn’t been raped and spoiled by the advance of man. There is value to be found in city life – community, civilization, the diversity of people. That in itself is often the stuff of great stories. As for me, though… my muse is in seeing the world the way I believe it was meant to be seen. So I come here often, looking for inspiration.”

    “Dr. McCourt?” Dalton couldn’t get into the habit of calling his teacher by his first name – especially now, when McCourt seemed more like a mentor than anything. “What good will this do me? I’m trying to become a historian.”

    “Don’t you see? This is history at its basest level,” answered McCourt with a smile. “We built upon the world, but we did not build this world ourselves. It was here long before us. The trees, the sky, the grass, the flowers, and…”

    He paused and drew in a shuddering breath.

    Pokémon.

    He said the last word with a reverent whisper. His jaw even went a bit slack, from what Dalton could see from the side of his head. Wearing an expression somewhere between shock and utter rapture, he slowly raised his arm and pointed at a spot in the grass.

    Dalton followed the path of Dr. McCourt’s long arm and half-raised finger.

    Dalton stared at the spot and blinked once… twice. He shook his head, not able, not daring to believe his eyes.

    Something – something not human – was sniffing the grass curiously, staring up at him.

    “No way… I can’t believe it…” Dalton whispered in breathless amazement. “…It’s a Pokémon.”

    END


    - EM1

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  5. #5
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    Aaaaaand... he's back!

    Normally I'd R&R this at leisure, but one can only have too much tim on his hands... :P

    Getting this done... NOW!

    Y'know, for a XXXXXXX fic, Dalton and McCourt are a bit surprised to see one. If this was the world Ghetsis and Plasma fought for and made, there has to be a lot to not only make it "worth" it, but make everyone forgo/forget the world they left behind. Well, almost everybody.

    As much a part of my world as bribery is, I can't exactly declare it a good idea. Methinks this will come back to bite Everett. Hard.

    I didn't see any errors of note, so give yourself a healthy pat on the back. For now. I get the feeling someone else will succeed where I've flunked.

    Great chapter, mate, although Dalton's inner conscince/demon poses a valid question: what DID Loretta have to do with the inner debate? Guess the plot will thicken before it thins...

    L@er!
    Last edited by Air Dragon; 15th September 2012 at 6:41 PM.
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  6. #6

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    Hello, hello, baby, you called? I can't hear a thing. I have got no service in the club, you see, you see.

    You know, from the very first lines of this chapter, I was smiling because I was assured this story will be every bit as good as Maverick Heart. Surely, the death of someone so close would be tragic to Dalton, but it's only human nature for him to worry about his own future. It's an extremely realistic touch, and the reason I harp on about the dream sequences is just that: your stories feel very real and tangible, rooted in the real world rather than the fantastic one. So, whenever an ethereal, abstract and spacey dream comes along, it breaks that realism. It's not a bad thing, but that's the reason I bring the dreams up so much. I should stop that, probably.

    Moving on. Personally, I like the way you've set up the segregation of people and Pokémon. Moreover, the Harmonia regime is functional; it seems like it would work. After all, it's not like humans have any particular reason to reintegrate Pokémon into their society, especially newer generations that have been raised without the ideal of becoming the very best (like no one ever was). The totalitarian party works in this pseudo-dystopia you've created, unlike in many of the newer dystopian fiction series. I'm looking at you, Hunger Games.

    Possibly the only complaint I have so far is... Loretta, honestly. I know it's too early to tell, but I just really don't want her to be a semi-Tsundere: a smart girl who has a soft spot for Dalton and melts in his arms. I have enough trust in you as a writer, but in the future, seeing more of Loretta as a person instead of Loretta as a person in relation to Dalton would be nice.

    But back to the story! I totally ship Dalton/Everett. Just from a writer's point of view, your illustration of the Ilex Forest is... pretty damn close to flawless. And honestly, when Dalton spots that Pokémon in the end, I gasped with him.

    Honestly, this is just a really well-written chapter, and continues to elaborate on the workings of the world you've created without it being detrimental to the story and its pacing in any way. Keep on keeping on. I think there was another point about this chapter I was going to make, but I can't recall now. I might edit this post later and include it, if I remember it.
    Last edited by zen_master_dude; 16th September 2012 at 9:46 PM.

  7. #7
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    Default RR - Chapter 2

    Just you two?

    *insert 'okay' meme face here*

    Let's get to work!!

    Air Dragon:

    Y'know, for a XXXXXXX fic, Dalton and McCourt are a bit surprised to see one. If this was the world Ghetsis and Plasma fought for and made, there has to be a lot to not only make it "worth" it, but make everyone forgo/forget the world they left behind. Well, almost everybody.
    They simply don't appear in towns anymore. Note what I said in chapter 2 about the walls. And you forgot the other option for Ghetsis - to make humans and Pokemon scared to go near each other. >.>


    As much a part of my world as bribery is, I can't exactly declare it a good idea. Methinks this will come back to bite Everett. Hard.
    Maybe, maybe not...


    I didn't see any errors of note, so give yourself a healthy pat on the back. For now. I get the feeling someone else will succeed where I've flunked.

    Great chapter, mate, although Dalton's inner conscince/demon poses a valid question: what DID Loretta have to do with the inner debate? Guess the plot will thicken before it thins...
    Or maybe I didn't make an utter and complete arse of myself in terms of syntax, for once. ^^ And to answer your question, Dalton is trying to figure out whether Loretta is worth keeping himself safe for.


    zen_master_dude:

    Hello, hello, baby, you called? I can't hear a thing. I have got no service in the club, you see, you see.
    Hmm? I feel like that was a reference to something. But I just didn't get it. :-\


    You know, from the very first lines of this chapter, I was smiling because I was assured this story will be every bit as good as Maverick Heart. Surely, the death of someone so close would be tragic to Dalton, but it's only human nature for him to worry about his own future. It's an extremely realistic touch, and the reason I harp on about the dream sequences is just that: your stories feel very real and tangible, rooted in the real world rather than the fantastic one. So, whenever an ethereal, abstract and spacey dream comes along, it breaks that realism. It's not a bad thing, but that's the reason I bring the dreams up so much. I should stop that, probably.
    It's somewhat supposed to break the realism. I feel like dreaming is perhaps the most interesting thing the brain does. A lot of our dreams are rooted in reality, and yet are fantastical to the point of being quite bizarre - things that we certainly couldn't think up off the top of our heads if we were 'daydreaming' and trying to manufacture them with our conscious brains. Our unconscious is a weird place. I just had a dream last night... it started when a friend of mine (that doesn't have the game) started texting me about Skyrim (which I haven't played in several weeks) and then my aunt and grandmother took off for a vacation in the mountains, leaving me at home - which looked like every place I've ever lived and yet like nowhere I've ever lived. But then a neighbor's three little daughters showed up at the door and told me that I'd been volunteered to babysit them for the same span of time. (I've never had a neighbor with three daughters.) Then they all came in and just went to sleep. Then I got a phone call from a friend who was in the middle of a televised swordfight with some local ronin - katanas and all - that had somehow ended up on the news. This was one dream. This is the kind of crazy **** your brain can put together when you're sleeping.

    My point is the dream sequences I write almost always have something to do with something. They provide some insight into the plot or a character. So they shouldn't be discounted.


    Moving on. Personally, I like the way you've set up the segregation of people and Pokémon. Moreover, the Harmonia regime is functional; it seems like it would work. After all, it's not like humans have any particular reason to reintegrate Pokémon into their society, especially newer generations that have been raised without the ideal of becoming the very best (like no one ever was). The totalitarian party works in this pseudo-dystopia you've created, unlike in many of the newer dystopian fiction series. I'm looking at you, Hunger Games.
    Hey... I happened to like Hunger Games (and I modeled McCourt's look after Woody Harrelson's portrayal of Haymitch) but that's beside the point. It's as AD said, though - quite a bit of work would have to go into creating this dystopia.


    Possibly the only complaint I have so far is... Loretta, honestly. I know it's too early to tell, but I just really don't want her to be a semi-Tsundere: a smart girl who has a soft spot for Dalton and melts in his arms. I have enough trust in you as a writer, but in the future, seeing more of Loretta as a person instead of Loretta as a person in relation to Dalton would be nice.

    But back to the story!
    I totally ship Dalton/Everett.
    Just from a writer's point of view, your illustration of the Ilex Forest is... pretty damn close to flawless. And honestly, when Dalton spots that Pokémon in the end, I gasped with him.
    You won't have to worry about Loretta very long. :-)

    As for my description of the Ilex Forest, I appreciate that. I feel like my description of locales and the world around the characters has been suffering in recent years, and I've been trying to work it back into my writing style.


    For more Age of Harmony and more Ilex Forest, direct your attention to the chapter below!!!

    - EM1

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  8. #8
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    ~~~ *** ~~~ *** ~~~
    3. The Day the World Crumbled


    “…It’s a Pokémon.”

    Dalton Gregg still couldn’t believe his eyes. Staring at them from a corner of this forest clearing was a creature clearly not of human origin.

    It was not the first time Dalton had ever seen a Pokémon. He’d glimpsed a few in an old storybook several years ago – an action he later came to regret terribly. Also, he’d always had a feeling that the birds that occasionally flapped in and out around Azalea City were Pokémon, too. It was just that no one called them that. The small, brown-and-cream creatures that sometimes appeared were called ‘day-birds’, as they appeared in the daytime. Every now and again, Dalton caught a peek of a ‘night-bird’ – a round, brown thing with huge eyes that was usually long gone by sunrise.

    This creature was not either of those – nor was it any creature that Dalton recognized from that old storybook…or any creature that Dalton recognized, period. If it looked like anything at all, Dalton would have said that it looked a bit like a rodent. But this was unlike any other rat that Dalton had seen. First off, it was a very dainty color somewhere in the neighborhood of lilac, save for a few darker splotches scattered around its body. A pair of quite large buck teeth protruded from its open mouth. Its ears were also quite large and a bit jagged. Whiskers protruded from its cheeks, and blunt but obvious spines ran down its back. Lastly, on its forehead between the two red eyes, there was a short horn.

    It was tiny, maybe standing a couple of feet off the ground, if that. Also, it seemed to be walking a bit unevenly. One of its four legs was ginger against the grass, almost like it pained the creature to put any weight on it.

    Dalton frowned. “Professor, I think it’s hurt.”

    McCourt looked at Dalton, almost astonished. “How do you know?”

    Dalton pointed at it. “Look at the way it’s walking… and the expression on its face.”

    McCourt silently stared at the bluish, rodent-like creature for a couple of moments, then stroked the stubble on his chin. “Yes, you’re right… it appears to have some sort of problem with its leg or foot. That’s a shame.”

    Dalton looked at McCourt. “A shame?”

    McCourt nodded. “I’d have to say its days are numbered. It’s got no shot of escaping any potential predators with an injury like that. Not to mention it’s obviously tired.”

    Dalton bit his lip. “We can’t just leave it here…”

    Professor McCourt’s blond locks undulated back and forth as he shook his head. “What can we do for it, Dalton? Mother Nature is beautiful, but she is also harsh at times. She chooses which individuals under her domain will survive.”

    Dalton stood there and thought for a second. The creature limped toward them, seemingly torn between apprehension and curiosity.

    “N-n-nih…” it squeaked. As it came down on its foot again, its eyes closed and its face contorted in a way that, even on a Pokémon, Dalton couldn’t take to mean anything but pain and distress. He took a deep breath as a plan forged itself in his brain.

    “With Lucy gone…” Dalton muttered. Part of his mind still wasn’t willing to accept it. “I’m living by myself now. If I could get it back into the city somehow, maybe I could nurse it back to health.”

    “It’s not worth it,” McCourt said seriously. “Don’t you realize that we’re breaking the law just by being out here? If you came back into the city with a Pokémon… not getting into the Royal Historian Society would be the least of your worries. Being caught in possession of a Pokémon is a capital crime.

    “Not worth it, huh?” repeated Dalton, and for the first time, he was a bit angry at McCourt. “If I don’t help it, who will?”

    “Something will,” McCourt sighed with resignation. “Eventually, whatever’s higher up on the food chain – or maybe just protecting its territory – will come along, put the poor thing out of its misery. And you know what? It’s probably easier that way.”

    “Law of the jungle, huh?” Dalton snapped bitterly, looking down and clenching his fists. “Yeah, I know all about it. Everybody gave up on me, too – probably thought I should just go ahead and die… ‘cause it’d be ‘easier that way.’ Then Ms. Lucy came along. She saw me and decided that I deserved a chance…”

    An invisible hand choked him around the throat and he could speak no more.

    “That’s a different situation, Dalton,” McCourt answered firmly. “…And you know it.”

    “Isn’t this Pokémon a living creature?” Dalton retorted, shaking his head and trying to blink back the tears that were forming at the corners of his eyes. “If so, it deserves a chance to live.

    McCourt exhaled sharply. He seemed to be trying to hide a small smile. “You’re a hero and a fool, Dalton Gregg. I hope you’re aware of that.”

    Dalton knelt down in front of the rodent-like monster, who backed away one painful step out of surprise. Its trembling, red eyes stared at Dalton, who put his hands down toward it.

    “Come on,” he whispered in the most gentle voice he could muster. “I’m not gonna hurt you.”

    But the rodent creature, bad leg and all, backed up again, punctuating its motion with a refusing cry of “Wrrraaaahhhhnnnnnggg!”

    “You see? It won’t even accept your help,” McCourt sighed. “I’d be surprised if it’s even seen a human being before.”

    “Maybe it has seen a human being before…” Dalton muttered darkly. “Maybe that’s how it got hurt.”

    “That’d be just perfect,” McCourt scoffed. Dalton gave him a weird look for a second, before realizing that the professor was being sarcastic. “It would just give the Party more credence to its argument. They believe that the human world and the Pokémon world should be kept as separate as possible, because they are too different. As different as black and white, you could say…”

    “That’s a naďve way of looking at things,” Dalton grunted.

    “I agree,” replied McCourt, sadly observing the injured creature. “But shades of gray are messy… complicated. No one’s around any longer that’s got the balls to deal with a world like that.”

    “…What should I do?” asked Dalton finally.

    “Why ask me? You’ve already decided,” McCourt answered simply. “I think the real question is… are you prepared to deal with the consequences of your decisions?”

    “Consequences?” Dalton repeated.

    The answer to his question could not have been more prompt – or more violent.

    A loud crack split the air. Several screeches and cries came from the trees, and winged creatures flapped wildly in their attempts to escape the sudden disturbance. Dalton stared at McCourt. The professor had a blank, vacant, almost shocked look in his eyes. The twinkle that had been there was now completely gone. One of his hands found its way to his stomach, where, to Dalton’s great horror, rivulets of red began to run over the professor’s fingers, spreading outward from near the middle of his white shirt.

    It was only then that Dalton understood what had happened. “Professor? PROFESSOR!”

    Everett McCourt, already sinking to the ground, could only utter one more word in a strained whisper:

    “Run.”

    Dalton’s heart kicked into overdrive as he looked around himself. His eyes fell on the rodent creature, who was looking back and forth from McCourt to Dalton, but was otherwise not moving – frozen with fear. Dalton dove toward the bluish Pokémon, hands outstretched. It put up little resistance at being grabbed, but when Dalton finally got his hands around it, he immediately felt a horrible pain in its forearm.

    The Pokémon had sunk its two large teeth right into Dalton’s skin. But that was the least of Dalton’s problems now; only one thought, only one course of action spurred his every individual movement: Run.

    With the Pokémon in his arms, he took off through the trees, dodging and weaving as fast as his relatively nonathletic body would allow him. He could already feel the stitch forming in his chest. His lungs, suddenly at a loss for oxygen, screamed in protest at each stride. But he had to keep going. Just when his fatigue began to get the better of him, another loud crack split the air. Dalton quickened his pace in a hurry, barely perceiving a high-pitched zooming sound near his ear. Splinters fell from a nearby tree as he ducked.

    “Nih…” he heard the creature whimper.

    “Don’t…worry…” Dalton panted, continuing to run. “It’ll be…fine…I’ll get you…”

    Another shot rang through the air. Dalton felt a horrible sting in his left shoulder, let out a brief scream, and staggered. Still clutching the Pokémon in his arms, he lost balance and stumbled to the ground.

    “Nih-doh!” the small rodent monster screeched fearfully.

    Meanwhile, Dalton tried, through his haze of senses, to come to terms with this new pain in his shoulder and side. He grit his teeth and snarled.

    “Nih-ihhh…~” the Pokémon in his arms moaned tremulously. He looked down at it. A trickle of red was dripping down its face as its own red eyes looked up at him. For a panicked moment, Dalton thought that the Pokémon was bleeding…however, as he felt a strange warmth pooling around his shoulder, the reality hit him that the blood on the Pokémon’s face was his own.

    “What’s… going on…?” he murmured to himself, trying to gather his thoughts, and found something in them quite horrible. He was hoping that whoever had attacked them had been humane enough to finish McCourt off quickly, instead of leaving him to bleed to death on the grass. It certainly seemed, though, like their assailant had abandoned McCourt to chase Dalton and the Pokémon through the woods. Dalton laid face-down and still, his body still covering the small Pokémon. There had been no more sounds of gunfire, and after a while, Dalton guessed that his pursuer had called off the chase.

    He probably thinks I’m dead, the young man thought. He was having a hard time catching his breath. He may not be that far off, either…

    He was right about to rise to his feet when he heard the voices.

    “Did you get him?!”

    It was barely audible and somewhat muffled – almost as if it was echoing from somewhere very far away. Dalton closed his eyes, simultaneously too scared to move, and yet not very keen on sticking around. His shoulder continued to throb with the fresh wound and he knew that he was losing blood. Obviously the shot had not hit any major arteries; if it had, he’d be dead already.

    “Yeah! Yeah, I think I did!” a much closer voice yelled in reply.

    “The Pokémon, too?” the further voice asked.

    “Can’t find it!” the closer voice replied. “Should we go in after it?”

    Dalton grimaced.

    “No!” he heard the other voice yell. “We’re already too far into the forest as is. Come on. We gotta get back and report this.”

    “Right,” the closer, louder voice answered. Dalton let out a sigh of relief. He wasn’t about to look up and see who it was that shot him…but whoever they were, they were leaving…

    BANG.

    All of the desire in the world to stay silent amounts to nothing when a bullet pierces the human body. Dalton cried out – it felt as if his right leg was about to explode.

    “Ran-ran!!!” the Pokémon underneath him cried. Dalton looked down at it, squinting through his wounded haze, and knew he could do no more to help it.

    “Go…” he choked. “Go on. I’m… I’m done…”

    The Pokémon looked up at him with a confused expression.

    “Please go…” moaned Dalton a second time. “Save yourself… if you can…”

    The creature wriggled free of his grip. Dalton was close enough to the ground to hear its quick footsteps against the grass. He heaved a deep breath… then another. The sounds of violence had ended utterly, and all that was left was the peaceful, serene quiet of the forest itself. Dalton rose to a knee. With his left shoulder and right thigh mangled by gunshot wounds, his ability to move was low – and, he knew, his chances of survival were even lower. He looked up. There was a strange structure there, overgrown with weeds and moss. It was strangely shaped like…

    “…Birdhouse?” Dalton crawled toward it. Whatever it was, it was clearly manmade.

    Dalton flopped over onto his back right under the strange structure. He stared up into the treetops and, for a brief moment, his thoughts turned to home – or, at least, the place he had called ‘home’ for the last several years. He had never quite felt at home there. Then again, maybe he’d be missed after all…just a bit. Evan would probably be put out for a while, but he had a lot of friends. He’d find a way to get over it.

    Then there was Loretta. Five days ago, it wouldn’t have mattered. Loretta wouldn’t have been on his mind at the moment. But that breathless confession she made changed everything. Speaking of breathless, even as he saw his chest rising and falling, he was finding it difficult to take in air.

    There was something in the way that she threw her arms around him without hesitation that morning… something that made Dalton wonder if they could have had something in another world.

    Shapeless, white light filtered in through the lattice of leaves. Barely over the sound of his own heavy breathing, he could hear cries, squawks, buzzes. He wondered what creatures were making them. His thoughts of Azalea City faded into a part of his brain that seemed to be shutting down on him. Next, the image of a girl – black-haired like himself, with eyes closer to blue than gray – swam before his blurring eyes. As much as he’d spent the last seven years hoping against all hope that she was alive, somewhere, in Unova… a growing part of him started to wonder if he would be joining her in mere moments.

    “Kallen…” he murmured the girl’s name…the name of his sister. His vision started to leave him. Colors started to leave him, the scene above his head melting into black and white. the sounds of nature became a mush of noise in his ear – muddled, muffled, but still somehow pleasant and peaceful.

    He could have sworn he heard the pitter-patter of tiny footfalls, but his senses – or what was left of them – were most likely tricking him. Still, though, he found that he didn’t mind.

    If this is where I’m gonna die… I guess it could be way worse.

    Everything went blindingly white…

    He felt himself floating. Once he got over the shock that he could sense anything at all, he figured that this sensation was that of his spirit having left his body, on its way to… wherever it was meant to go. Everything around him was white. Even he had somehow blended in with the stark whiteness of the world around him. He tried to squint and found that he could not.

    That’s right… he thought. I’m probably like a ghost or something… no body…

    A form appeared in front of him, however, and it was quite corporeal. It stood out against the whiteness of everything else. It looked… a bit like a person.

    Dalton found himself wishing that he could move closer and investigate. As soon as the thought crossed his brain, he felt himself drawing closer to it – or was it drawing closer to him?

    Not long after, he and the figure were face-to-face – or at least face-to-wherever Dalton’s face would have been.

    This figure, dressed in a very thin, tea-green gown, was a girl, and quite a small girl – no older than ten. She had black hair and blue eyes. Very blue eyes. The pupils were blue, too… how strange. Here was this girl, clearly looking very human… but humans didn’t have blue pupils, did they?

    “What… who… are you?” Dalton asked…or at least he tried to. Given the fact that he had no mouth, he was prepared to bet that the girl didn’t hear. If it hadn’t been Dalton’s question that caused her to frown and pout, however, something was making the girl visibly upset. Her ethereal, blue eyes filled with tears.

    “Don’t you recognize me?”

    Dalton’s heart would have stopped when he heard the voice… but it was a bit late for that.

    “Oh, my—” he started, but stopped immediately when it registered with him where he (probably) was. “Kallen?”

    The girl smiled warmly and moved closer. She spread her small arms as she floated toward. Dalton was about to warn her how fruitless this was when she wrapped them around his location…and he felt them. He looked down. He couldn’t see or use his body, but apparently he still had one as he could feel all four of the girl’s limbs around his back and waist.

    “Kallen…” Dalton repeated dimly. He wished he could throw his arms around her. A moment later…

    “Too hard…it hurts,” she groaned.

    I don’t want to hurt her…

    She took a deep breath and laid her forehead against him. He felt the warm contact of her skin against him, and that’s when it occurred to him that his shirt hadn’t come with him into the Beyond.

    But that didn’t bother him. This was his sister, his long-lost sister… she could be as close to him as she wanted.

    “Where are we?” he finally dared to ask. This must have been what those still in the living world sometimes called ‘Heaven.’ After all… she was here.

    She looked up at him, leaning her chin against his belly. “In between,” she said.

    “In between?” repeated Dalton. “In between what… and what?”

    Surely not between death and life, he thought. He was definitely already dead.

    “You need to find answers, don’t you…?” she asked.

    “…I don’t care anymore,” Dalton muttered, his throat tightening horribly as he looked down at her. “It doesn’t matter.”

    “Of course you care,” she said, drawing back from her embrace but keeping hold of his hands. “You would have gone on otherwise.”

    Dalton was starting to become suspicious. Kallen, much like Dalton, had always been intelligent and curious, but… she simply didn’t talk like this. There was something too direct, too declarative…

    …She knew something that he didn’t.

    “Gone on?” he repeated. “Haven’t we already gone on?”

    The girl’s dark locks flew as she shook her head. “Like I said… we’re ‘in between.’ And…”

    Her smile faded.

    “You’ll have to go back.”

    Dalton heard himself gasp. “Wh…back? To life? To Azalea City? I… I don’t want to. Don’t you know I spent seven years wondering where you were? I don’t want to leave you again… not to go back there.”

    “Me? I’m not all that important,” she said demurely.

    “You’re important to me!” Dalton found himself yelling. He couldn’t help it. “You’re my sister! And if I go back…”

    He thought for a moment about the illegal actions that had resulted in him being shot. He thought about the professor, who was also dead, and the fact that, no matter what story he attempted to conjure up, the thought would be that Dalton had something to do with it. He had no way of knowing how much time had passed in the land of the living… but he was prepared to bet that whatever length of time he had been there, had done no favors for his reputation.

    “If I go back, I’ll be alone again!”

    The girl embraced him again.

    “You will not be alone,” she said very clearly – almost authoritatively, almost as if she had the power to make it so. “I promise… you’re going someplace where you’ll be needed. I believe your friends are already waiting for you there.”

    Dalton had been mildly annoyed at his sister at points. At some points, he had been very annoyed with her. But he had never felt a desire to rage, to put a violent hand toward her… not like this. It was just that… well, she was lying to him. He had few friends, and certainly no friends that needed him. If he were to take a guess, he’d say that the two ‘friends’ he’d left behind in Azalea City – not to mention the world at large – were doing just fine without him.

    They’re probably better off, he thought to himself.

    “Does it have to be that way?” Dalton asked pleadingly. “We can… go on… together.”

    She shook her head. “You have to go back. You’ve been chosen.”

    “Chosen? To do what?!” Dalton snapped… but the little girl’s serenity did not waver. She floated upward, somehow, until Dalton was looking her right in the eyes.

    “You’ll understand. In time.”

    Then, the little girl did something very strange. She leaned forward, and touched her lips to his. It was as chaste and innocent as a kiss could be, but this was not Kallen behaving as Dalton remembered her. Or maybe it was. Kallen was always an affectionate little girl, but Dalton started to reject her smooches and clinginess right before they were separated. His friends at school had been teasing him about it.

    When she drew back, he glimpsed something strange. Her hair was no longer the jet-black she shared with her brother. It had changed drastically, a light green matching her gown as she threw her hands back. Her eyes glowed bluer than ever…

    Dalton had no time to react. The girl punched him in the chest with both hands, and in an instant, he felt himself flying backward impossibly fast. The white around him melted into a kaleidoscope of color – reds, yellows, blues, greens, whites, blacks, and everything in between. He thought he was going to be sick. Finally, the whirl of color became too much for his senses…

    …and everything went white… then black.

    ~~~ *** ~~~ *** ~~~

    She observed herself in a bathroom mirror. She fiddled with a black, fingerless glove on one hand, trying to fit it perfectly around her palm. A short, hunter-green jacket covered a white top that left her pale midriff exposed. She also wore a hunter-green skirt that was rather short – albeit with short tights underneath to protect her from the elements and wandering eyes. She took a deep breath as she stared at herself in the mirror.

    “I’m going today. You know I have to do this. I have to find out…” the teenage girl said to the mirror, imagining that it was someone else. Her face fell as it stared back at her. That’s not strong enough. She took another deep breath.

    “Breakfast is ready, hon!” a distant yell caused the teenage girl to start.

    “Coming, Mom!” she yelled back.


    When she trekked downstairs and into the kitchen of her small home, she found that a full breakfast of sausage, eggs, and toast was indeed sitting on the table. The girl sat down, taking in the smell of the food before she grabbed hold of the fork and knife.

    “Mom…?” she asked. This breakfast was very large – suspiciously so. “What’s with all the food?”

    An auburn-haired woman was standing near the sink, wearing an apron over her a white sweatshirt and jeans. Now well into her thirties, she was neither quite as young nor quite as trim as she used to be. Her face was a bit careworn as well, but one could still see traces of the beauty that she had obviously passed down to her daughter.

    “I’ve been thinking lately…” the older woman answered in a very insistent voice. “You’re a bit thin, aren’t you?”

    “I’m active,” the girl said after swallowing. “Of course I’m thin.”

    “In my day,” the woman said. Her daughter resisted the urge to roll her eyes. In her opinion, her mother wasn’t nearly old enough to be talking like that. “There wasn’t all this… crap about thin being the only way to go. Men liked their women with a little meat on their bones.”

    The girl’s face went red. “What does that have to do with… anything?”

    Her mother smiled knowingly. “Well, you’re getting to be that age now, hon. Actually, you’ve been that age the past year or two… but you turn seventeen soon. The boys’ll be knocking at your door in no time at all.”

    The girl’s face went redder. Although she and her mother, having lived alone together throughout most of her teenage years, were very close, she never thought to talk to her mother about her boy problems. That was mainly because she didn’t have nearly enough boy problems to warrant conversation.

    But the girl smiled. “So you’re finally admitting to yourself that I’m not a child anymore?”

    “You know you’ll always be my baby. It’s a mom thing,” her mother said warmly. “You’ll understand one day, when you have your own children. To do that, though, you’re going to have to find a man willing to settle down with you. That means being a proper woman – no more of this Pokémon nonsense.”

    The girl’s face tightened. She had gotten to her mother’s true motives. At fourteen she would have snapped; at fifteen, probably pouted, muttered something into her bowl of cereal, and been sore at her mother for the rest of the day. But two-plus years of arguing over this one particular subject had made her rather good at it. “I had no idea a woman could be so… anti-women.”

    Her mother raised one dark-reddish eyebrow. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

    “I’m just saying,” the girl said casually, eating another bite of egg, “who says a woman can’t be good with Pokémon? The gym leader in Mistralton… she’s barely older than I am. And then there’s Elesa…”

    “I’m not saying girls can’t be good Trainers. Sinnoh has a female Champion, after all…” her mother replied. The girl grimaced. Her mother had gotten better at these arguments, too. “But, if you notice, what do all of those young women have in common? They’re all extremely beautiful… and they’re all single, too.”

    “You don’t know that,” the girl retorted flatly.

    “I never hear anything about their husbands or boyfriends,” her mother replied in a bit of a simpering tone, as if this one remark had won her the argument.

    “Well, just because they’re not broadcasting their love lives to the rest of the world—” she started – but her mother had finally lost her patience.

    Honestly,” the middle-aged, auburn-haired woman groaned. “I know it’s hard for you, but you need to see things from a mother’s point of view. I mean, look at you. I’m not just saying this because I’m your mom – you’re a beautiful young lady. And then there’s the way you dress. I went through that phase, too, so I try not to be so hard on you about it, but… if you went out into the wilderness looking like that… well, Pokémon wouldn’t be the only things trying to prey on you.”

    Mom!” the girl cried, not liking where this conversation was going. “You act like I don’t know how to take care of myself. I wouldn’t be going alone, anyway. Sionna’d go with me. I don’t even know if I want to be a career Trainer. I just want to go to Castelia to see about Dad…”

    “You honestly think your father’s in Castelia?” her mother was starting to raise her voice. Talking about that man was a surefire way to get the woman’s blood simmering, if not boiling outright. “After all this time? If that’s the case – if he’s been hanging around in Castelia City for three years without so much as a word – I don’t even want him back in this house!”

    “Maybe not, but don’t you think I have a right to try to find out what happened to him?” the daughter replied hotly. “That’s all I want to do. I don’t want to battle Gyms, I don’t want to be the next Cynthia… I just want to do some traveling and try to find my dad! This is stupid! How old do I have to be before you let me do anything?”

    “You watch yourself, young lady,” her mother’s voice had gone from slightly above normal conversation level, to low and cold. “You’re not a baby anymore – I’ll give you that. But I’m still your mother. This is still my house, and as long as you’re living here—”

    CLANG. Bits of egg and toast crumbs flew up into the air as the girl spiked her fork into the plate, where it bounced and then fell to the floor with a loud clatter. The teenage girl was now on her feet.

    “What’s wrong with you?!” her mother snapped as she watched the girl stand. “I’m trying to protect you! I’m doing this for your own good.”

    “You’re trying to protect yourself!” the daughter yelled, all reason forgotten. “This was never about me or what might happen to me…you just don’t want to be here alone! Maybe if you weren’t so … so… so controlling, Dad would still—”

    SMACK.

    The girl held her face. The tears were already starting to flow. Her mother took a step back and seemed to realize that she had crossed a line – but the damage was already done.

    “Wait, I’m…” the older woman gasped, trying to reach for her daughter, who promptly knocked her hands away.

    “F-fine,” the young girl choked out coldly through her tears. “I… I just won’t live here anymore.”

    And, without another word, she took off for the front door.


    The girl’s tear-stained wanderings took her to the town square. She ended up in a crowd of people that had gathered. She had no idea why they were there. Hell, she had no idea why she was there. There was somebody speaking to all of them… something about liberation. He had green hair and was wearing a strange outfit, and stood at the head of a whole bunch of other guys with strange outfits. She didn’t pay attention – it was probably a bunch of traveling performers or something like that. Eventually, she grew tired of it and just left.

    Her walk took her to the south and out of town. Once the paved streets and tall buildings had given way to woods and dirt paths, she figured it was safe for Sionna to make an appearance.

    She pulled a red-and-white sphere from the pocket of her jacket. Luckily, she had thought to put it there before she left. It would be awkward at best trying to retrieve anything from her former home at this point. She tried her best to fake a smile, then casually let the sphere roll to the ground.

    It clinked against the dirt path and then split open in the middle. The girl shielded her eyes to protect them from the assault of blindingly white light that soon followed. After a second or two, this light shrank and formed into a definite shape about two feet tall. When the light finally faded, a creature was left in its wake. More like a fox than anything else, it had a pair of big brown eyes that sat like jewels in their sockets. Six long, curled, reddish-orange tails spread out like a fan from its seated rump. Its mouth was rounded in an expression of apparent confusion for a moment… then it gave an unmistakable smile.

    “Hi,” the girl said simply, trying to keep a brave face for the creature. But this foxlike being was not easily fooled; its expression quickly fell once it realized that not all was right in the world of its caretaker.

    “Vooool?” it tilted his head.

    “I don’t want to talk about it…” the girl said, nonetheless wiping her eyes. Forcing another smile, she added, “But it looks like we’ll be able to travel after all.”

    The fox creature cooed delightedly, dancing around the girl’s ankles. She couldn’t help but chuckle a bit. As badly as she had felt for herself, she’d felt even worse for Sionna, who had to spend more time in her ball than either of them would have liked.

    Sionna was a Vulpix – and a rather rambunctious one at that. The problem with her roaming free in the house was that rambunctious Vulpix tended to set things on fire.

    There was a rustling in some nearby bushes. Sionna, who was in the middle of a sort of jig, turned toward the disturbance immediately.

    The girl also looked in that direction as well, her blue eyes staring at the bush intently.

    “Be on your guard, Sionna,” she said. “It’s probably a Patrat.”

    Patrat was a rodent-like species that lived just south of the girl’s home. It was brown, stood about a foot or so off the ground, and had beady, little black eyes inside yellow-striped red sclera. She’d always thought Patrat’s eyes were creepy…

    The creature leapt out of the bushes and revealed itself. It looked like a rodent, for sure – but not like any other one she had seen up close. This one was decidedly bluer and had more spines, not to mention its ears were almost as big as its body.

    “Wha…?”

    “Vool-vool!!” Sionna shouted. The rodent creature jumped and looked at the Vulpix fearfully, just in time to see a few dozen tiny bolts of flame coming at it. The blue, mousy beast jumped backward, and let out a terrified screech before turning tail and bolting down the dirt road. Sionna’s vulpine face twisted into an impish grin, and before the girl could call her off, she gave chase.

    “Hey!” the girl shouted. “W-wait!”

    As the new, strange, blue creature led its pursuers on a high-speed chase down the wooded path, the girl brought up the rear and tried very hard not to enjoy herself. The memory of her mother slapping her in the face was still fresh in her mind. At the same time, though… this was what she had always wanted – a chance to move freely, to come and go as she pleased…

    She watched as the bluish creature suddenly darted off the path and took a turn into some tall grass. Sionna followed her. The girl frowned, and continued to give chase. As she waded through the knee-high grass and brush, she barely kept sight of her Vulpix. Rather hilariously, a small, ratty-looking dog creature went flying high into the air several paces ahead.

    She emerged into a clearing with shorter grass, where Sionna had pulled up short.

    The girl let out a gasp as the blue rodent approached what looked like a body, splayed out under a tree.

    A dead body? the girl thought, putting her hands to her mouth in horror. With a mixture of relief and fright, she found her assumption to be false – the body had begun to stir. No, he’s alive…

    In spite of her desire to turn away, she watched as the person – a boy or young man by the body build – rose to a kneeling, semi-prone position. He appeared to be looking down at his hands, oblivious to anything or anyone else watching him. He stared at his hands for a couple of moments…

    …Then he clenched them into fists, banged them into the ground repeatedly, and slumped to his face, letting out a piteous wail.

    END

    - EM1

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  9. #9
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    Chapter Three? Aww, you shouldn't have... XD

    Enough flattery, let's get down to the R&R-down!

    And... we're done. I tell you, I' glad I read this when I did. Things may have ended differently otherwise. But doing so did alert me to an error, and it is facepalm-worthy:

    the sounds of nature became a mush of noise in his ear
    The. Capitalization. On the other hand, I've read grammatically worse. Much grammatically worse. I think I'm losing touch with syntax...

    So Dalton gets shot what, twice? Plus if he meets Kallen "in between", does this mean...? Dang, I'm getting shivers. Is it even Kallen though? Too many questions.

    And now we meet Sionna and her Trainer, the latter of whom's interactions with her mother prompt a Katrina/Nicholette deja vu moment (the slap and line crossing part). You also get a bit of Liza Flynn's mother in her as well, although the reasons here are not as well known. These observations aren't to make you guilty of recycling old ideas (Your past works are so vastly diverse it's hard to be original. I even doubt an original concept exists anymore) I'm just making a point.

    Well, now that Sionna's Trainer's (need a name here, this is getting tiring. ) found a wounded (?) and distraught Dalton on Route 1, and she's "officially" left the roost, what will she do? Not like she can take him home, especially considering the last conversation she shared with her mother. :P Guess we'll wait and see.

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  10. #10
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    Would you believe me if I said I would have posted earlier, but I forgot?

    No?

    Okay... well, moving on, then... :-\


    Air Dragon:

    The. Capitalization. On the other hand, I've read grammatically worse. Much grammatically worse. I think I'm losing touch with syntax...
    Aaaaaand we'll leave it at that.


    So Dalton gets shot what, twice? Plus if he meets Kallen "in between", does this mean...? Dang, I'm getting shivers. Is it even Kallen though? Too many questions.
    My lips are sealed. :| But, yes, Dalton does get shot twice. Unlucky sod, isn't he? :-\


    And now we meet Sionna and her Trainer, the latter of whom's interactions with her mother prompt a Katrina/Nicholette deja vu moment (the slap and line crossing part). You also get a bit of Liza Flynn's mother in her as well, although the reasons here are not as well known. These observations aren't to make you guilty of recycling old ideas (Your past works are so vastly diverse it's hard to be original. I even doubt an original concept exists anymore) I'm just making a point.
    Except Nicholette got very swift and painful comeuppance, but on the subject of present stories... yes, it does become difficult after about eight years. You start to feel like everything you've written, you've written once before. Or maybe twice. Thankfully, this girl's mother is essentially a bit player at best. She probably won't even turn up again.


    Well, now that Sionna's Trainer's (need a name here, this is getting tiring.) found a wounded (?) and distraught Dalton on Route 1, and she's "officially" left the roost, what will she do? Not like she can take him home, especially considering the last conversation she shared with her mother. :P Guess we'll wait and see.
    Oh, sure, and even if they had a great relationship, I'm sure it'd go over real well with her mom when she brought a strange dude into the house. [/SNARK] You'll find out in the next chapter why that really wouldn't have been an idea. You'll also get to find out the name of the girl so you won't have to keep doing descriptive gymnastics around that. ^_^

    Actually, speaking of that next chapter, lemme just go ahead and post it.

    - EM1

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  11. #11
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    ~~~ *** ~~~ *** ~~~
    4. A Grave New World


    Dalton opened his eyes. The first time he did it, everything was a blur. His ears were still ringing from that hard impact. Exactly what had he done to deserve being punched that hard by his own sister?

    Since when was his sister able or even inclined to punch that hard?

    Was that even his sister?

    Of course it was. He was with his sister in the beyond, reunited, never again to be separated.

    Then he opened his eyes.

    He expected to find a mass of white. Instead, he was lying in something soft, like a carpet. He saw green.

    He went to stand, but found that he had no strength to do so. So he knelt there, hunched over, feeling the tickle of this strange carpet on his face and elbows. He raised his head, and looked down. Two somewhat pale hands and arms were before him.

    Hands… arms…?

    “No…” he muttered, gritting his teeth. He heard his heart beating.

    …heart?

    “No, no, no…” he looked down at his hands once again. They were unmistakably there. It was almost as if…

    …almost as if he was alive again.

    A wave of emotions overcame him in that moment – none of them good. He did not know how he’d ended up here – or even where ‘here’ was. All that was true to him in that moment of terrible realization was that he was in a place other than where he wanted to be. Tears began to flow almost instantly. He slammed his fists into the grassy ground before him.

    “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” His own shrieking filled his ears. He screamed as loudly as his lungs would allow, repeating the only things that made sense for him to say in that terrible moment… his sister’s name, and then curse after curse…

    Over and over.

    “Dammit, why?!” he screamed. He had no idea who he was questioning – or if there was even anyone there to question. “Why do you hate me so much?! What did I do?!”

    Maybe his screaming would attract the gunman… maybe he’d be shot again. At least, that’s what he hoped.

    “…E…Excuse me? Sir?” a nervous-sounding, female voice uttered. Dalton let out a scream, flailed around to a sitting position, and then backed up against a tree.

    Standing there was a girl, probably in her teens. The first thing that stuck out to him was her hair, which was long and an almost iridescent reddish-orange. She was wearing a hunter-green jacket over a white crop top. Around her waist was a short, green-and-white skirt. Her belly was exposed, and it was trim, but not bony. She was obviously very fit – probably fitter than he was. He couldn’t get a look at her eyes – they were turned away. She seemed not to want to look directly at him.

    It was at that point that his senses took note of something strange. Several of his body parts were touching the grass – and a few of them Dalton knew for a fact, had no business touching grass, unless…

    With a short squeal, he realized what had happened. His legs snapped shut and his hands went to cover the offending parts. Then he scrambled to his feet and ran behind the tree, looking out at the girl from around it.

    “Wha…” he whimpered, his eyes filling with tears again. “What the hell’s going on?”

    The girl was finally willing to look at him, and when she did, it was an almost scolding expression. “You’re drunk, aren’t you?”

    “Drunk?” Dalton repeated dimly. “Where are my clothes? Where am I?”

    The girl let out a sigh. “You’re on Route 1.”

    “Wait… no, that’s not possible…” Dalton shook his head. “There’s no such thing as a Route 1 in Johto…”

    “Johto?” The girl sounded confused. “No… we’re between Nuvema and Accumula Town.”

    “Accumula Town? What’s…” Dalton asked breathlessly.

    “Unova,” the girl repeated. “We’re in Unova. U-no-va.”

    “Wh-what the…” Dalton finished his exclamation with a very dirty word indeed. “No… no. I was in Ilex Forest, and I’d gotten shot. There was a…”

    His eyes found a brownish fox creature standing at the girl’s ankles.

    “Oh, my god…” he whimpered again. “It’s a Pokémon. Is it yours?”

    “Oh… oh, this is Sionna,” the girl answered with an alarming nonchalance, as if being in possession of one of the creatures was perfectly normal. “Say hi, Sionna.”

    The fox-like creature tilted its head. “Vool-vool…”

    “Hey!” the girl snapped at the creature. “That’s not nice. Can’t you see he’s obviously under a lot of stress?”

    “I don’t know what the hell’s going on,” Dalton cut in, his eyes darting. “But you need to leave. If the Union Party catches you with a Pokémon, you’ll be put to death…and that’s if you’re lucky.”

    “Union Party?” Now it was the girl’s turn to be confused, and Dalton’s to be annoyed. She tried not to laugh at him as he attempted to assume this expression of annoyance, while simultaneously looking absolutely terrified.

    “The Federated Union of Harmonia?” the boy uttered. “You live in the Unova region and you don’t know the name of your own country?”

    “Harmonia? Never heard of it,” she answered. “Are you sure you’re not dr—”

    No!” groaned Dalton. He wasn’t sure how he could get her to understand. “I swear to God… my professor took me into Ilex Forest… he got gunned down. Then I got shot, trying to help this Pokémon escape. It… it was blue… had big ears…”

    “Ni?” a creature had just appeared in front of him. It was blue. It had big ears.

    “It was… you? What are you doing here – I thought I told you to leave!” he exclaimed. The bluish rodent Pokémon backed down and whimpered.

    “Hey, don’t treat it like that!” the girl yelled, seeing the rodent Pokémon turn its head toward her. “It… you never wanted to fight, did you? You found him and you were looking for help – is that it?”

    The spiny rodent turned its head in the direction of the girl and then looked up at Dalton again.

    “You’re obviously better…” Dalton murmured, remembering that it was his desire to help the injured Pokémon that had been the start of all this trouble. “So why don’t you go?”

    Rather vehemently, the rodent Pokémon shook its head.

    “Are you hurt?” the girl asked.

    Dalton looked down at his shoulder. It had just occurred to him that the bullet wounds in his left shoulder and right thigh were no longer there. In fact, it was as if the wounds never happened. His body was whole, and he’d never felt better… well, except for the fact that he was hiding behind a tree naked, he’d just lost his sister again, and he was apparently on a completely different continent than the one where he’d started.

    “I…” Dalton uttered. “Evan… can you get in touch with Evan? Evan Stanfeld? Tell him to bring me some clothes.”

    “Who’s Evan?” the girl asked. “Never mind that. I guess you do need clothes before you do anything… you think you can stay here? I know where I can get you some… Let’s go, Sionna!”

    “Vool!” Dalton heard the creature at the girl’s side squeal. A moment later, Dalton craned his head around the tree. They were gone.

    He slid limply down the tree’s trunk, feeling the wood chips scrape against his bare back.

    This was overwhelming…this was too much…

    He buried his face in his hands, attempting to keep his composure – trying not to cry.

    ~~~ *** ~~~ *** ~~~

    It was an eleven-year-old Dalton Gregg – still black-haired and gray-eyed, but much shorter and even skinnier – that watched from the doorway of an apartment building in Goldenrod City as two adults walked away from him, not even turning back to give him a second glance.

    Those two adults were his parents. According to his father, they were “going on a little trip.” They hadn’t explained much. They’d just moved him and a few of his outfits to a friend of the family. For a ‘friend of the family’, the boy thought, it had sure been a while since any of the family had seen this person. A little over a year, in fact…

    A door slammed in front of him, hiding his parents from view. Dalton turned around and looked up. A tall, middle-aged woman with brown hair drawn back in a bun stood behind him, looking down at him coldly as he stood there with his suitcase. With a gaze like that bearing down on him, even if Dalton felt like smiling at the moment (he rarely did lately), he wouldn’t have dared.

    “We need to have a couple of things straight,” the woman said. “First of all, I don’t like you.”

    Dalton frowned. At least she was honest – not like his parents, who seemed to dislike him but never had the guts to actually say it to his face. “…Then why am I here?”

    “Because it would be too much of a burden on my conscience to kick you out into the street,” the woman answered. “As soon as I get ahold of Social Services, you won’t be my problem anymore. The government will handle you, like they should have done in the first place.”

    “The government?” Dalton asked, his expression rising in spite of himself. As precious little as he knew about the world, he knew that the ‘government’ had taken his little sister away about a year previous for ‘re-education’ in Unova. Naturally, Dalton thought Kallen had been sent to some special school. “Maybe they’ll take me to where Kallen is.”

    “Stupid boy,” the woman spat. “You’re never going to see Kallen again… on this side or any other side. When you die – and I hope it’s soon – you’re going straight to hell. And Kallen’s not going to be there. She was a good girl… before you tried to corrupt her. You were a bad influence. That’s why the government took her away. It’s all because you showed her that bad book you found.”

    “But…” the boy whimpered. “I didn’t even know it was bad. It was just an old coloring book full of Pok—”

    SMACK. Dalton went reeling, the victim of a strong slap across the face.

    Don’t you dare say that filthy word in front of me!” the woman snapped. “Now you listen to me. You will speak only when you’re spoken to. You will not be seen unless I want to see you. And, above all else…”

    She leaned in toward him, her face growing colder and angrier.

    “…You will not speak to my children – much less about… that,” she said. He knew the woman had two children – a girl and a boy that were respectively two and four years younger than him. They were conspicuous at the moment by their absence. “And if you do… well, you don’t want to know. I loved babysitting that girl. She was friends with my daughter. How could you… how dare you? Just… get out of my sight.”

    She stormed off, leaving Dalton, who was simply too bemused to feel the full painful impact of the woman’s harsh words.

    “But why?” he whimpered, barely audible, to no one in particular. “All I did was show her a book…”

    ~~~ *** ~~~ *** ~~~

    Dalton’s seventeen-year-old, present self could no longer stem the flow of his ears. They ran freely from his eyes, running through the cracks between his fingers like small streams. He curled up into a ball behind the tree. Nothing, nothing at all – was comfortable.

    “Dammit…” he swore tearfully. “Why can’t I just die?”

    He had tried to live on. That first host family had shut him in their smallest bedroom. He was never allowed to eat meals at the table unless the children were elsewhere. They would slide a plate of food into his room during mealtime and let him out to use the bathroom only when the children were gone or already put to bed. She had been as good (or as bad) as her word. He only saw those children in fleeting glimpses – but it got worse. From what he could gather from inside the room, the little girl had snuck to the door to try to talk to him, and had been yelled at rather severely for her trouble.

    Thankfully, he was only there a couple of weeks during the summer. By the time fall started, he had been placed with another foster family and was able to start school. They decided they’d had enough of him about halfway through the school year, when he was suspended for fighting another student. It was one of the few fist fights he had ever started or ended – and one of the few times he stood up for himself to a bully. Thus started his yearly house-hopping ritual… until Lucy came along.

    And just when it seemed like his life had attained some semblance of stability… the carpet was pulled from under his feet again. It was as if neither Life nor Death would allow him to settle anywhere.

    What else was there to do? Curled up in a ball, naked, tears flowing from his eyes… he was once again a newborn, breaching water and falling into a frightening new world for the first time.

    That is, if all of this was real. Maybe he was dreaming a very bad dream. Maybe he would wake up from this nightmare, safe and warm in his bed back in Azalea City. Maybe he was still in Johto, and Lucy was still alive…

    Of course, that probably meant that Loretta Burgess wasn’t in love with him, either, but he would have traded that in a heartbeat if it meant that nothing in the last four or five days had actually happened.

    “Ni…”

    Dalton stopped crying, and looked to his left. The rodent-like Pokémon there was still sniffing at him. His first thought was that he wanted the troublesome beast as far away from him as possible. After all, no one in their right mind would want to sit and chat with someone or something that had basically caused them to be shot and die in one world only to wake up in another. Besides… the Party would be back soon. If it weren’t for the fact that the girl who had found him seemed to have a Pokémon herself, he wouldn’t have put it past her to have gone back to town and alerted them.

    “Ni-doh…”

    “Don’t you have anything better to do?” murmured Dalton morosely.

    “Neeeehhhhh…”

    Dalton felt something on his side. He looked down in slight surprise. The Pokémon was touching its head to his body. If it was supposed to be some sort of attack, the Pokémon sure wasn’t doing a good job of it. He’d heard that even weak ones were able to cause a fully-grown human a solid injury with one strike. But this touch seemed gentle, almost… affectionate.

    “Stop it…” murmured Dalton, shifting slightly. “This is weird…”

    Dalton wasn’t used to being shown affection. On top of that, he was completely in the buff, which made it more awkward…

    “Ni-doh-nee…” The Pokémon backed down. Dalton turned to look at it and, to his surprise, saw that its red eyes were watering. It was attempting to stand there and look tough, but tears were leaking down its mouse-like face. Dalton didn’t even know Pokémon could cry… not in a physical sense, and certainly not in an emotional sense.

    Then it occurred to Dalton. This Pokémon had been in the Forest with him and now, for some reason, was also in this new location with him.

    “You must be scared out of your mind,” the young man said tremulously. “Just like... just like me…”

    A rather loud flump sounded somewhere behind him. The Pokémon jumped backward in surprise. Dalton turned his head around and, directly to his right, saw some clothes.

    “Put those on,” the voice of the girl he had seen before rang. “They might not fit perfectly, but it’s better than walking around in your birthday suit.”

    Dalton dressed in about thirty seconds. It was bad enough that he was in this strange new place – he certainly didn’t want to be naked a second longer. The Pokémon watched him the entire time. He really wanted it to go away. But it would probably do no good, he thought, to explain the concept of a nudity taboo to a creature that probably didn’t have one.

    About two seconds after he was finally clothed (in a pair of cargo shorts, cheap-looking flip-flops, and a black shirt that was probably a size too big for his thin frame), he heard the voice call again: “Come on out. I’m not gonna bite.”

    Dalton looked over his shoulder and around the tree. He was shy at the best of times… and this was clearly not the best of times. It might have been that, though – the fact that there was simply no one else – that spurred him to motion. He emerged from behind the tree, trying and failing to wipe his tear-stained face on the way. He got another look at the red-haired girl, and finally got a good look at her blue eyes. He had been far too much of a nervous wreck to notice before, but she was quite pretty, although maybe a bit pale.

    “What’s your name?” she asked. Almost as if driven by impulse, Dalton replied in an almost robotic murmur:

    “My name is Dalton Gregg. I am seventeen years old. My dream is to become a Harmonia Royal Historian – to join the Society in Castelia City of the Unova Region.”

    The girl tilted her head. “Okay… so I have no idea what Harmonia is, or what Society you’re talking about…but I did hear ‘Castelia City.’ Is that where you’re trying to go?”

    “Am I really in Unova?” Dalton asked after a while. The redheaded girl huffed.

    Yes, you’re in Unova. What reason would I have to lie to you?” she asked. Dalton hid his face in one of his hands, and to her great surprise (and maybe horror) started talking to himself.

    “Not much of a plan…but it’s better than nothing…” he muttered, swearing a couple of times at the end. Then he looked up at her. “I guess that’s all I’ve got right now…but how…”

    “What’s wrong?” the girl asked.

    “I don’t have any money…” he muttered.

    The girl smiled wryly. “Lemme guess… your wallet’s in your other pants?”

    The corner of Dalton’s lip twitched for a moment. Then his face went stony again. “I’ve got no food, no place to stay…”

    “Pokémon Center,” the girl answered, as if Dalton should have known this already.

    The young man’s bluish-gray eyes widened. “They have… centers… for Pokémon?”

    The girl tilted her red head in confusion. “What? They don’t have Pokémon Centers in J—I mean, where you come from?”

    Dalton frowned. Clearly the girl didn’t believe his story… which, he supposed, shouldn’t have been such a shock. He wasn’t sure he believed his story right now. “Pokémon are illegal where I come from. You can be put to death for having one.”

    The girl made a face, somewhere between alarm and disgust. “Must be one hell of a place… you’ve lived there all your life?”

    “What?” he asked initially. Then, he nodded. “Yeah. It’s been that way since Harmonia took over Johto. But you’re telling me there’s no such thing as Harmonia in Unova? That doesn’t make sense. Unova is Harmonia’s central region. The royal family has a castle here…”

    The girl frowned, then stepped very close to Dalton. She was, thankfully (as he was about six feet tall himself) several inches shorter than he was. He began to back away nervously.

    “What are you doing?” he asked. The girl stepped back.

    “No alcohol on your breath…” she murmured. “Could use a mint, though.”

    “I’m telling you – I haven’t been drinking!” Dalton exclaimed, getting tired of this accusation. “But if you’ve got something to solve that problem, I’ll sure as hell take it…. because this…. this is messed up!”

    …Except he used another term for ‘messed up’… a much stronger and dirtier one.

    “You mean to tell me…” Dalton asked, looking at her intently. “Pokémon are legal here in Unova? There’s no Federated Union of Harmonia? Pokémon-human interaction isn’t a capital crime?”

    “You think me and Sionna would be walking around with our asses in the air if it was?” the girl asked incredulously. “Sure, I have a little bit of a rebel in me, but I’m not an idiot.”

    Dalton frowned.

    “So Pokémon and humans interact here… and it’s perfectly legal?” He was still having a hard time getting his head around this.

    “Interact? Are you kidding? Sionna’s, like, my best friend,” the girl said, picking up her brown-and-orange Pokémon, who let out a yelp of surprise for a second but certainly seemed to have no problem at all being held and cuddled. The girl’s expression fell for a moment. “Actually… she’s sorta my only friend. But, sure, Pokémon and people interact. I see it all the time. I just walked by a Pokémon battle on my way up to grab your clothes.”

    “Battle?” repeated Dalton, his head spinning.

    The girl rolled her eyes and muttered something inaudible. “Yes. Some people catch Pokémon and battle with them. You’ve never heard of a Pokémon Trainer?”

    “Sure, I have…” Dalton muttered. “But there haven’t been any around in more than a cen—”

    He stopped mid-sentence as the realization hit him like a brick to the face.

    “What year is this…?” he asked blankly. “Is this the year 147 in The Age of Harmony?”

    The girl gave him another confused look. “Age of Harmony?”

    “Our current calendar – the Age of Harmony,” Dalton repeated. “AH for short. In 1 AH, King N the First and Queen Hilda first took the throne of Harmonia.”

    “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she replied. “But our current calendar is the Common Era. 2022, to be exact.”

    “Common Era?” repeated Dalton, his mouth quickly going dry. “That was the timeline they used before AH… all the way up to 2024.”

    He looked down at his sandaled feet.

    “So, not only was I thrown across continents, but… but… no way. This isn’t possible…”

    “Hold on…” the girl tilted her head, looking very skeptical. “Are you saying… are you saying you’re from the future?”

    I’ve been sent back in time, Dalton thought. He stared blankly at the ground. How was he to explain that to this girl – or anyone else, for that matter? How had it happened? Had Kallen – or that strange, quasi-angelic girl in the white world that happened to look a lot like Kallen – had something to do with it? And what now?

    “I don’t know,” Dalton murmured. The girl gave him an apologetic smile.

    “I don’t know how you got here, but… it sure sounds like here’s a happier place than the one you left,” she said. “Or am I wrong? Were you happy in this… Harmonia Johto… place?”

    Dalton thought about it for a brief moment, then shook his head. “But still… I don’t belong here, do I?”

    “Maybe you do,” she answered significantly. Eyeing him with a look of concern, she added, “It’s probably best if you don’t think too hard about it right now. Right now, you need food and rest, right?”

    The young man sighed heavily. “Y-you’re right, but… and I don’t know about Pokémon Centers, but I don’t have any money, like I said…”

    “Pokémon Centers are free,” she explained. “Well, except for the shop where you’d buy supplies – but the Center itself doesn’t cost anything. All you need is to have a Pokémon.”

    Dalton’s expression became morose. “…Yeah, about that… I don’t have a Pokémon.”

    “That Pokémon isn’t yours?” the teenage girl asked. Dalton looked down at the spiny rodent near his ankle, who was looking up at him.

    “I found it in the wild,” he muttered.

    “It obviously likes you,” she answered with a smile. “Maybe it wants to come along.”

    Dalton looked down at the Pokémon, who had started jumping up and down. “Ran! Ran!” There was almost a pleading tone in its voice.

    “Is that it? Do you want to come with me?” Dalton asked. “I guess… since we’re both lost, we’d better stick together.”

    “You could try capturing it,” the girl remarked. Dalton looked up to see that she had thrown something in his direction. “Here.”

    Dalton went to catch it, but since he wasn’t very coordinated, it hit him in the hands and then fell to the ground. He knelt to pick it up and pored it over. It appeared to be red and white. Dalton quickly turned his head to look at the red-haired girl. “What? Try to put it in this? How’s that gonna work? I know the Pokémon’s small…but this thing’s the size of a marble!”

    “Hit the button in the middle,” the girl instructed. Dalton felt around the tiny sphere and indeed found a button, which he pressed. Instantly (and with a bit of a strange blip-bloop sort of sound) the sphere in his hand swelled, roughly to the size of a softball. It was a bit better, but, looking between sphere and creature, Dalton still didn’t see any earthly way how the latter could fit into the former.

    “Is this as big as it goes?” he asked. He stared past the ball and then at the little rodent creature, who seemed to be eyeing him with a bemused air. “I don’t think…”

    “It’ll work,” the girl interrupted. “Unless that one’s a dud for some reason…”

    What am I supposed to do – open the ball and stuff it in there? Dalton thought, but he only asked aloud, “Won’t that hurt it?”

    “No…” she replied. “Just touch it with the ball.”

    “Touch it?” Dalton murmured, walking toward the Pokémon with the sphere. The creature stared at the ball with its big, red eyes. As gingerly and as gently as possible, Dalton tapped the Pokémon on the forehead with the red-and-white ball. Instantly, it opened. The Pokémon’s form melted into a mess of red light. Dalton jumped back – “HOLY SH—” – dropping the sphere, which nonetheless seemed to hover as all of the red light was drawn into it. Then the ball snapped shut and hit the ground.

    It trembled once, very briefly, before white sparks of light issued forth from it and it went completely still. The girl gasped.

    “Only once?” she said. “Wow, it didn’t even fight you…”

    “It’s probably never seen one of those before,” Dalton muttered mournfully, picking up the ball. “I sure haven’t.”

    “…Or maybe it wants to stay with you,” the girl walked around and into his line of sight. Dalton stared at the ball and couldn’t help but scoff cynically.

    “Yeah, right…”

    “You saved its life, didn’t you?” she asked. Dalton grimaced, but the girl was right.

    “I also got it stranded miles away from home, apparently,” he murmured.

    “…Which is better than not being alive at all,” she reasoned in reply.

    “Voool!” the small fox creature exclaimed in affirmation.

    Dalton ruminated on that statement for a moment. Initially, he wouldn’t have minded staying – or being – dead. (Now, he had no idea whether he’d actually died or not.) Now that he was clearly alive, though…

    His gray eyes darted around him for a moment. He half expected Harmonian security forces to come swooping down on him and this mysterious girl at any moment.

    I have questions about myself, questions about my family, and questions about…Pokémon.

    Questions about Pokémon. Just maybe, he thought, this was his chance to find some answers.

    “How does it feel?” the girl asked, smiling. “To have your first Pokémon?”

    Dalton stared at the ball in his hand blankly. “I don’t know. Shouldn’t they be free – left alone? I was always taught that the laws were made because Pokémon and humans were both better off if we were separated…”

    “Whoever said that to you doesn’t get it,” the girl said a bit harshly. Dalton watched as the brief moment of aggression fell from her face and turned into a smile. “Why don’t you come with me to the Pokémon Center? Then you’ll see what I mean.”

    Dalton thought on it for a moment and realized he didn’t have a better plan. “I… yeah, maybe that’s best. I, um…”

    For the girl had already started walking, Sionna in tow. She looked over her shoulder. “Hm?”

    “I appreciate it, you… you helping me and all,” Dalton said, nearly at a murmur. “But… I never got your name.”

    She stopped dead and didn’t respond immediately. The shadow of the smile that was on her face faded for a second, but came back.

    “Call me Fox.”

    END
    Last edited by EonMaster One; 11th October 2012 at 4:55 AM.

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  12. #12
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    Ah, a new day, a new chapter! Must get down to the nitty gritty of this as soon as possible!

    First things first.. place your marker, and... GO!

    Before we get to the analysis, let's get a slight grammar issue out of the way:

    A wave of emotions overcame him i+n that moment
    I think you see what happened here.

    “Call me Fox.”
    Must... resist... Firefox... gag... >.<

    So Dalton's arrived in this whole new world and has no way to figure out what has happened. We're mostly all in the dark either way, so I guess we can enjoy the ride for now.

    I liked Fox's interactions with Dalton, especially the parts where she tried to get him tested for inebriation. One could almost expect an "I'm a minor" comeback there.

    Also obtaining a Pokemon seemed a bit easier than one would think. But if you've been dumped halfway across the globe and a century and a half out of time, I suppose that's quite the bone thrown to a starving dog. Hopefully, said bone is not rubber.

    There would be more to say, but I guess I'll leave the rest to the closet audience. Good read, mate!

    L@er!
    Last edited by Air Dragon; 7th October 2012 at 8:39 AM.
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  13. #13
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    *whistle whistle*

    Oh? Look at that, it's been two weeks.



    Air Dragon:

    I think you see what happened here.
    No, I really don't. What the eff are you talking about? What's wrong with it?

    [/sarcasm]

    I'm still trying to figure out how the hell that happened. At what point have I ever, ever used a plus sign? My fingers don't even go up there usually. So weird. Kinda Twilight Zone-y.


    Must... resist... Firefox... gag... >.<
    Don't do it. I swear I'll bop you over the head.


    So Dalton's arrived in this whole new world and has no way to figure out what has happened. We're mostly all in the dark either way, so I guess we can enjoy the ride for now.
    Yeah, that pretty much says it all. :-)


    I liked Fox's interactions with Dalton, especially the parts where she tried to get him tested for inebriation. One could almost expect an "I'm a minor" comeback there.
    A minor, huh? That's not indicative of much. Especially when your best friend's a guy like Evan Stanfeld. >.> There's nothing to say that Dalton has never been drunk before.


    Also obtaining a Pokemon seemed a bit easier than one would think. But if you've been dumped halfway across the globe and a century and a half out of time, I suppose that's quite the bone thrown to a starving dog. Hopefully, said bone is not rubber.
    So I wasn't painfully obvious that the Nidoran was going to belong to Dalton from the jump? That's interesting to know.


    There would be more to say, but I guess I'll leave the rest to the closet audience. Good read, mate!
    Closet audience? There's a closet audience? Why doesn't anyone come -

    Never mind. That was about to come out wrong. Should we just move on and post the next chapter? Yeah, I think that's a good idea.


    - EM1

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  14. #14
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    ~~~ *** ~~~ *** ~~~
    5. The Decision

    Dalton Gregg was beside himself.

    His bluish-gray eyes, wide with a mixture of nervousness, excitement, and awe, sprinted from corner to corner in their sockets as they tried to take in as much as possible. Even with that, though, he was at a loss for eyes to see every sight, coming up short for ears to hear every conversation.

    And what interesting conversations they were! In this quite large building near the center of what his new companion told him was called Accumula Town, he had already taken in a healthy measure of mind-scrambling information. First off, he spoke with a young woman at the central desk called Joy, who explained to him that the primary purpose for a Pokémon Center was as a hospital for sick and injured Pokémon. A counter toward the front of the building sold all sorts of supplies related to Pokémon, including the red-and-white spheres that were used to hold them – appropriately called Pokéballs.

    He’d seen a pair of boys, both several years younger than himself, going on about “teams” of Pokémon and comparing how many each of them had caught. There were not only people in this world that owned Pokémon, but some people owned more than one. He was sure the entire Union Party, wherever (and whenever) they were, would collectively die of shock if they ever saw this place.

    Dalton observed it all from a seat up toward the top of the Center’s main floor. Socially awkward at the best of times, he still dared not throw himself into a world about which he knew next to nothing… much less with his only acquaintance not present. The red-haired girl called ‘Fox’ had gone off somewhere – she hadn’t said where, either. On top of that, both of their Pokémon – Dalton still couldn’t believe he actually had one – were being checked in the Pokémon hospital… wherever that was. Apparently, the immense pink blobs that were often seen reporting to Joy had something to do with that part of this place.

    Dalton’s first question was regarding those pink blobs. A couple of feet tall and bearing egg-carrying pouches in their rotund bellies, they couldn’t have possibly been human. So, naturally, Dalton asked Joy if the cute but corpulent creatures were Pokémon. Joy, for a brief second, had given Dalton a nearly appalled look unsuited for her kind, pretty facial features. Nonetheless, she had explained that they were, indeed, Pokémon – a particular species of Pokémon called Chansey, to be exact.

    Dalton didn’t know how much about Pokémon, but even he figured out that Pokémon must have had different species. After all, the Pokémon belonging to Fox and the one he had recently caught looked nothing alike. He was still trying to get his head around it all…

    FLUMP. A girl sat down rather heavily on the chair right next to him.

    “We’ve got a problem,” she said huffily. It took a couple of seconds for the voice to register, but the ginger hair was a dead giveaway.

    “What?” murmured Dalton. He wasn’t sure his brain could deal with any more ‘problems’ for about the next year or two. The red-haired girl let out another sigh.

    “It’s that time of year,” she muttered.

    “What time of year?” Dalton asked, a bit irritated because he was sure she knew that he’d have no idea what the hell he was talking about. “Fox… what are you talking about?”

    “Spring,” she sighed. “Or… late spring, really. It’s the time of year when new Pokémon Trainers traditionally leave for their journeys. Problem with that is… there are about three or four Trainers that came from the next town over just this afternoon – and they’re staying the night.”

    Dalton tilted his head. “What’s that got to do with us?”

    Fox rolled her eyes, as if Dalton should have been able to figure this out. As much as he appreciated her for helping him, that habit of hers was already starting to get on his nerves. “There’s only one room left.”

    “Well… that’s perfect, isn’t it?” he uttered. As soon as he’d started talking, he got the feeling that he’d missed something; but, against his better judgment, he went on anyway. “Didn’t you say this was your hometown? You can just go back—”

    The look on her face – a look of mournful blankness, almost as if she’d just seen someone die in front of her – very clearly indicated to Dalton that he shouldn’t speak a further word on the subject.

    “Fortunately, it’s a double,” she went on. Then, almost as if she’d forgotten something, she added, “Two beds.”

    “I know,” Dalton murmured – then his heart sank horribly when he realized what she was trying to say.

    “…And I’m know if I’m wild about the idea of spending a night in a room with a guy,” Fox confessed, giving Dalton an askance gaze. “…Let alone one that’s… well…”

    “Yes, I know, you probably think I’m crazy,” Dalton groaned wearily. “I’m not really in a position to make an argument either way, am I? I mean, I don’t have anywhere else to go.”

    “You don’t have a family?” Fox asked.

    “Don’t think they’d be around here,” Dalton answered, hoping Fox caught his drift. “And even if they were…”

    He trailed off, shaking his head.

    “…Don’t get along with ‘em either, huh?” she intoned.

    “We’re not on speaking terms,” Dalton answered a bit ironically.

    “I guess…” Fox sighed. “Maybe we could make it work… at least I don’t have to be afraid of seeing you naked. We already got over that little hurdle.”

    Dalton felt his face go hot. Of all the weirdness that had happened to him that day, the fact that he had awoken completely in the nude was still at the top of the ‘weird’ list.

    “That’s not something I’d want to repeat, though,” she reasoned. “And I definitely don’t want you trying to take a peek at me just because I saw you.”

    Dalton was thinking that Fox’s outfit didn’t exactly leave a whole lot to the imagination anyway, but he had far too much sense to say this aloud.

    “Don’t worry, though,” Fox said casually. “You haven’t scarred me for life or anything. I’m old enough that I’ve seen everything before.”

    Dalton wasn’t sure whether to feel comforted about her honesty or not. “So how old are you then?”

    “Sixteen,” she answered. “I’ll be seventeen in a month or so. And actually, I’ve known about that sort of stuff since I was about six.”

    Dalton was torn between curiosity and alarm. “Six…?”

    She bobbed her head and grimaced distractedly. “I… might have… played Doctor with a neighbor boy once or twice – oh, come on, don’t tell me you never did that as a kid.”

    Dalton hadn’t. Even in early childhood (also known as that one happy sliver of his life before everything went straight to Hell) he hadn’t had many friends that were girls, and certainly none that were that adventurous. Kallen had wanted to do it once when she was four and he was six. Dalton, of course, had refused. Comically enough, it wasn’t for the reason it probably should have been – protecting his little sister’s innocence – but for another reason entirely. Dalton, ever the precocious and inquisitive little boy, had made the connection between doctors and surgeries – and he’d had no desire at all to let his little sister experiment with cutting him open.

    “Neither of our parents ever knew about it.” Fox smiled wryly, as if success in keeping this secret was a matter of pride. “He took that secret with him all the way to Icirrus City.”

    Dalton didn’t bother asking where Icirrus City was. His brain already had enough new information to try to process.

    “Aaaaaaanyway,” she drawled, standing. “If we’re gonna go, we’d better do it before somebody yanks the last room up.”

    He sighed and stood as well.

    Several minutes later, Fox was unlocking the door and the two were stepping into a small room with a table, dresser, an adjoining room that Dalton guessed was the bathroom, and a paired bunk bed—

    “I call top bunk,” Fox said breathlessly, furthering her point by climbing up the rungs at the foot of the bed and flopping onto it about five feet in the air. Dalton just looked at her, bemused.

    “Glad to see one of us is having fun,” Dalton murmured, sitting in a chair and putting his feet on the table. This resulted in a silence – long, awkward… not to mention long and awkward. The young man let out a sigh.

    “What’s wrong?” Fox asked distractedly, still looking straight up at the ceiling.

    Dalton’s mouth set in a firm line. “Well…” he replied, and he hoped Fox understood the ‘I-can’t-believe-you’re-asking-such-a-stupid-question’ intonation he tried to put into his voice. “Let’s see… today, I had a horrible hour at school, saw my favorite teacher die in front of me, got shot – twice – ended up in some sort of Limbo, and now I’m someplace and maybe even some time completely freaking different from where I was when I woke up this morning. Yeah. It’s been a hell of a day.”

    “You seem to be handling it pretty well,” commented Fox. Dalton could only groan at this.

    “Well, what the else can I do?” he remarked hopelessly. “Now, I guess… I need to get back.”

    “Where? To Johto?” Fox asked. “I’m not saying I believe you… at all… but if your theory’s true – if you’ve, you know, somehow… traveled through time – what good would going to Johto do? It wouldn’t look anything like you remembered it.”

    “But the Ilex Forest would still be there,” Dalton remarked thoughtfully. “Maybe that weird birdhouse thing would still be there, too…”

    Fox sighed. “What if there’s no way back? What then?”

    Dalton looked down at the table blankly. As little as he liked it back home, it was home. He didn’t belong here. He shook his head. “I just… I guess I’d just check out.”

    “Are you joking?” Fox had sat bolt upright. Somehow, he hadn’t expected her reaction to be that…strong. Surely, she’d understand that a man out of his own time was better off not existing. “How… what’s wrong with you?”

    “What do you care?” Dalton asked languidly, staring up at the ceiling. “I’m just some stranger to you. Probably your random act of kindness for the week. Not that I’m not thankful, but still…”

    “You had one friend. I think you said his name was… Evan?” Fox asked, calming down. Dalton nodded. He wondered what Evan was being told about what had happened to him. “Weren’t you strangers at one point?”

    This seemed to be a rather obvious question from Dalton’s point of view. Of course, he and Evan had been strangers at one point. They met in Year Twelve of school – not long before they started college together.

    “Everyone’s been a stranger at one point,” Dalton shook his head, muttering.

    “Right.” Fox nodded. “But if you fear the unknown, you’re never going to know much of anything.”

    From what little he knew of Fox, this seemed strangely sagely; he looked up at her. A mild smile crossed her face, and she suddenly looked years younger than her age.

    “It was something my dad always said to me,” she explained. “He used to travel all over the place – so he’d know.”

    “So you’re close with your dad?” Dalton asked.

    “I was…” Fox’s reply was short and morose. “He left one day about three years ago and never came back.”

    “Oh.” Dalton was going through the motions of sympathy, but was having a hard time seeing how her father’s abandonment measured up against his being unceremoniously dumped by both his parents and then bouncing through a series of unstable homes. “I’m… sorry.”

    “Don’t treat me like he’s dead – because he’s not,” Fox said suddenly, looking down at Dalton, her blue eyes shining with defiance. “He’s out there, alive, somewhere… and I’m going to find him.”

    They exchanged glances for a while. Dalton frowned and then turned away.

    “Never mind…”

    Fox sighed. “Do you like your home that much?”

    Dalton scoffed. “No. It sucks. Except, maybe, for Loretta…”

    “Loretta?” A tone of curiosity tinged Fox’s voice. “Your girlfriend?”

    That, Dalton thought, was a very good question.

    “She probably would have been…” he murmured. “…if things hadn’t gone completely nuts.”

    “Don’t take this the wrong way, but…” Fox said tentatively. She couldn’t see Dalton’s face, but he was rolling his eyes again. Usually, when someone preceded any statement with that, it was going to be something the hearer wasn’t going to like. “…I can’t picture a guy like you having a girlfriend.”

    Dalton grimaced nonchalantly. “Yeah… I was just as surprised as you are.”

    “So she’s the main reason?” Fox asked. “The reason you want to go back?”

    “I don’t know,” Dalton groaned, standing up and starting to pace the room.

    Fox spoke again. “But isn’t it against the law to have a Pokémon where you come from? You have a Pokémon now.”

    “I’ll just let it go.” Dalton shrugged its shoulders.

    “…She won’t like that very much,” Fox said after a couple of seconds.

    Dalton turned his head to look up at Fox. “Why not? She’d get to go home ag—wait a second. How do you know my Pokémon’s a ‘she’?”

    “It’s a Nidoran,” Fox explained. “I asked Nurse Joy – I’d never seen one before. They’re not native to Unova. It just happens that Nidoran’s one of the easiest Pokémon to tell… its gender, I mean. The males look completely different. They’re purple, their ears are bigger, and their horns are long and sharp. But the females are bluish, just like yours.”

    “Your Pokémon’s not a… Nidoran, then?” he asked.

    Fox shook her head. “Her species is called Vulpix. They’re not native to Unova, either.”

    “Really?” Dalton asked. “Where’d you get it—her?”

    “A few years ago, my dad sent her back to me from a business trip he’d taken to Goldenrod City.” There she went again, expecting Dalton to know the unsaid information and fill in the blanks. This time, however, he was perfectly capable of doing it. Goldenrod City was the huge metropolis that was right across the forest from Azalea – and apparently that held true here as much as it did at home.

    “Do you… battle with her?” Dalton remembered the vulpine creature’s appearance. Sionna had been so – well, so cute. He couldn’t picture something like that having any inclination to fight, let alone actually fighting.

    “Sometimes,” Fox answered. “Sionna needs to blow off steam every once in a while.”

    Dalton was starting to put something together. “So, did you give her the name Sionna?”

    Fox nodded. “Sure did. A lot of people that own Pokémon name them. It gets sort of impersonal calling them by their species name all the time. Not to mention, it’s easy to screw up and call them by the wrong name once they evolve…”

    “Evolve?” he repeated bemusedly.

    “Yeah, sure,” Fox explained. “Sometimes, Pokémon change form and become a different species within the same family.”

    “How?” Dalton asked. Fox, for a brief second, had a look on her face that suggested that she had been hoping Dalton didn’t ask that question.

    “Lots of different ways,” she sighed. “Some, after you battle enough with them. A few, like my Vulpix, evolve when they’re exposed to certain rare stones. There are even a few that can only evolve when they’re cared for by a Trainer they love very much.”

    “Love?” Dalton repeated uncertainly. “Pokémon can… love?”

    “Love, hate, everything in between,” Fox answered, nodding. “Just about anything you could feel as a human being, a Pokémon can feel, too.”

    “But how do we know that?” asked Dalton impatiently. “It’s not like we can communicate with them. They don’t… well, they don’t speak our language. Do they? Can you understand what your, er… your Vul-pit says?”

    “First off, it’s Vulpix,” Fox corrected him. “And… yeah. I can understand everything she says.”

    Dalton slumped back in his chair. “That just doesn’t seem possible.”

    “I’m sure it doesn’t where you come from,” Fox said.

    There was a long silence after that. Dalton stared straight ahead at the opposite wall. “Humans… and Pokémon…”

    To Fox’s surprise, Dalton stood up a moment later.

    “Where are you—?”

    “I need some air,” he muttered, darting to the door and closing it behind himself.

    In his more curious moments, Dalton Gregg had always questioned exactly why it was that Pokémon and humans were not allowed to have contact with each other in his society. His sudden transport to this new world, where everything was flipped on his ear, had done nothing to answer these questions. In fact, it had made him question the state of his home world even more. He had no idea where he was walking in this somewhat large town. When he reached the town square, though, he somehow knew he had arrived at his destination – or at least, at a destination.

    In the middle of this town square was a very small but very green park. It was lined with verdant bushes around its edges, and as a shrine to nature, it stood out in the town of paved roads and contemporary buildings of every shape and size – all monuments to man’s advancement. Dalton felt a small pang of pain as he took a seat on a nearby bench. McCourt would have liked a place like this.

    His quiet time with his thoughts did not last long. The relative silence of the park (there were people around, but none of them seemed to be making much noise) was broken when a rather loud conversation started heading his way.

    “I can’t believe he didn’t even stay the night,” mused a high and likely feminine voice that sounded very morose.

    “Well, that’s Blake for ya,” a boy’s voice answered as if unconcerned. “He moves with purpose.”

    “That’s really tactful of you, Cher,” another girl’s voice – more vivacious and perhaps more aggressive than the other – laughed. “I’d just say he has absolutely no patience – a little like someone else I know, huh?”

    “First of all, never call me that,” the boy answered irritably. “And second, I have patience – just not for people that are late all the time.”

    “Hey! Why are you looking at me?” the first girl moaned. It wasn’t long before the presumptive owners of the three voice emerged into view on the left of Dalton’s bench. They were all kids – or perhaps teenagers, judging by their heights, demeanors, and somewhat semi-developed forms. The first one to catch Dalton’s attention was a pale-skinned girl. Her hair was flaxen and, Dalton thought, rather unfortunately styled; if not for the green hat on her head, she might have looked somewhat like a golden mushroom. She was conservatively dressed, almost to the point of absurdity. How could anyone travel in an orange-and-white dress? She’d even bothered to match her handbag with her hat. She was looking at a boy, her face screwed up in indignation.

    The boy, who followed a step or two behind, had his hands in the pockets of his blue jacket. Much like Dalton himself, he was tall, dark-haired, and almost painfully thin, and the outfit he had chosen did not help matters. Under his blue jacket was a white shirt that appeared to have a large red “Y” in the middle, the main beam of which fell right down the middle of his skinny midsection. His black pants seemed to be form-fitting, highlighting his long, stick-like legs. His black hair limply framed his bespectacled face, save for a cowlick that curled straight up into the air in gravity-defying fashion.

    “Weren’t you late when Professor Juniper sent us the package?” this boy asked. “Seriously – how does that happen? You live next door to Whit’s house, Bianca.

    “I had to sneak out when my dad wasn’t looking, Cheren – you know that!” Bianca explained bracingly. Just after, her face turned to one of paranoia as she looked over her shoulder.

    “He’s not here, Bee-Bee. Don’t worry.” The girl with the vivacious voice strode into view. She was tall, but not as tall as Cheren. She had piercing, blue eyes, and long, wild, brown hair that seemed to be bunched up into her white cap. A black vest and white tank top covered her top half. Sliver-like short shorts on her bottom half left just enough to the imagination, while showing off nearly every inch of her long, pale legs. It was a bit of a wonder to Dalton how parents could let a girl her age out of the house while dressed like that, to be completely honest.

    Her provocative clothing aside, though… she did look vaguely familiar.

    “Besides,” the brown-haired girl laughed. “How long do you think it’d take your dad to catch up if he wanted to chase us all the way out here? He’s kinda… well… out of shape.”

    “Whitlea!” moaned the blonde. “That’s not very nice, you know.”

    “Well, the truth hurts sometimes,” Whitlea snickered.

    “It’s probably a good thing, though… that he didn’t come up this way, I mean,” Cheren murmured, his face still very serious as he stroked his chin. “What with all that weirdness with those guys gathered around here earlier…”

    “You’re right…” muttered Bianca. “That was strange.”

    “They had absolutely no fashion sense,” Whitlea commented, her hands on her hips. “I mean… those outfits looked like something from a few hundred years ago.”

    “Is that all you girls pay attention to?” Cheren piped up suddenly, sounding irritated. “Don’t you find it strange, what that guy was saying? ‘Pokémon liberation’? ‘The Age of Harmony’? What the hell was all that about?”

    Dalton’s ears perked up.

    “What do you mean?” asked Whitlea.

    “Whit wasn’t paying attention,” sang Bianca, a knowing smile crossing her face. “She was too busy trying to get that green-haired boy to look at her. I mean… I guess he was kinda cute, but…”

    Cheren groaned audibly and buried his face in one of his hands. Bianca appeared to have ignored him.

    “…Don’t you think he was a little bit… old for you?” Bianca asked.

    “What?” Whitlea uttered defensively. “I don’t mind older guys. Besides… you couldn’t tell if he was old. He was just tall. Cheren’s tall, too, and he’s our age.”

    “What does this have to do with me?” Cheren groaned.

    “I’m just making a comparison,” Whitlea answered. “Anyway, he did give Rikki and me a great battle. Erm…what was his name again?”

    “Did he give us one?” Cheren asked. “He just said he was called ‘N’ or something… what a weirdo…”

    “What?” Dalton blurted out before he could stop himself. The three teenagers turned to look at him. They had evidently just noticed that he was sitting there. Whitlea tilted her head and approached Dalton.

    “Were you talking to us?” she asked, a demure smile on her face. If Dalton hadn’t known any better, he would have thought this little girl was trying to flirt with him.

    “Did you say the guy called himself ‘N’?” he asked again, starting to feel hot around the face.

    “Uh… yeah,” Whitlea answered. Dalton shook his head.

    “Idiot’s gonna get himself killed,” he murmured. “N’s the name of Harmonia’s monarch. He keeps going on like that, he’ll end up in front of the Party in court.”

    “Wh… what?” Whitlea uttered, looking at Dalton as if he’d spoken in a foreign language.

    “Leave him, Whit.” Cheren’s voice came insistently from the background. “You know how these guys are… life on the streets makes them all…”

    “Hey!” Dalton shouted. He was on his feet. Whitlea jumped back in fright, even though Dalton’s eyes and extended finger were trained on the black-haired boy several feet away from the both of them. “I don’t need that from you right now, kid – okay?”

    Cheren looked Dalton over for a second. He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. Apparently, that must have been a bad sign, because the blonde walked over and grabbed hold of his arm. “Cheren, don’t…”

    “It’s rude to point,” Cheren simply said matter-of-factly. “Didn’t your mother ever teach you manners?”

    “My parents weren’t the teaching type,” Dalton said brusquely, his temper rising. “Did your parents teach you never to make assumptions?”

    Cheren’s face tightened. “You leave my parents out of this. C’mon, Bianca, Whitlea…let’s get outta here.”

    The two girls began to follow him. The brunette was much less eager. There was something familiar about that name…

    What was it?

    Dalton’s eyes widened—

    “Whitlea!” he had blurted out before he could stop himself. The young girl’s wild, brown hair swung behind her in a wide arc as she whirled around. Her eyes had grown wide and curious, and she looked like she was blushing a bit.

    “Y-yeah?” she stammered, not sounding at all like her normal, confident self.

    “You’re named Whitlea, right?” Dalton asked.

    “That’s what you just called me, isn’t it?” She seemed to get some of her swagger back, and was now eyeing him suspiciously.

    “Yeah, but some people go by their middle names,” Dalton said dismissively. “What’s your real name?”

    Whitlea was now looking at him very suspiciously. “Why should I tell you?”

    “You don’t need to, just let me have one guess,” Dalton answered quickly. “It’s not…Hilda, is it?”

    Whitlea’s jaw unhinged for a second. She started to mouth silently. “What the f—”

    Oh, my god… I was right, Dalton thought to himself. His mind was racing. The dates line up. She knows a guy named ‘N’… she looks like she’s about the right age… she’s got long, brown hair…

    “Why are you staring at me like that?” Whitlea asked uncomfortably.

    “Uh-err…” Dalton stammered. What was he supposed to tell her? He wasn’t even sure if his guess was completely correct. Maybe it was a very long string of coincidences… “Sorry… you’re pretty.”

    He wanted to crawl in a hole and hide as soon as the words came out of his mouth – and yet, he hadn’t been completely lying. She was good-looking for her age. Apparently, though, she wasn’t used to being complimented, because she went very pink and giggly. “You… you think so?”

    “I mean…” Dalton groaned to himself. “Uh… Hilda’s not a bad name. Why don’t you like it?”

    Apparently the random compliment Dalton had given her had put her into a talking mood. Nevertheless, she looked down at her shoes. “It sounds stupid and old-fashioned. My mom said it sounds regal. As if I’d ever be a queen or anything like that…”

    “Well,” Dalton murmured, “you never know…”

    Whitlea gave him another stuck look.

    “Whit!” Cheren’s voice exclaimed from a distance. “Stop flirting and let’s go!

    “Don’t mind him – he’s just jealous,” Whitlea said casually. “I guess I’ll see you around, uh…yeah.”

    And she turned on her heel and jogged away, leaving Dalton more or less alone again.

    “Maybe I had you all wrong,” a familiar voice prompted Dalton to turn his head. The ginger-haired girl that had helped him earlier was striding toward him, Sionna the Vulpix skipping along happily at her heels. “…Although I’d probably start a little older if I were you. Maybe you’ve heard the saying, ‘Fifteen will get you twenty’?”

    “Wh—” Dalton was stuck for a moment until he figured out what Fox meant. “No, it wasn’t like that. We were just… talking.”

    “Just talking, huh?” Fox came up to stand alongside him. “So, who was she?”

    Dalton took a deep breath.

    “I’m not sure,” he admitted. “And even if I was… you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

    ~~~ *** ~~~ *** ~~~

    They returned to the Pokémon Center. Dalton retrieved his new Nidoran on the way and got confirmation from Nurse Joy that she was indeed female. From there, he and Fox went up to their room. He heard familiar, giggly voices from the room next door and quickly realized that the three teenagers he had met – or, at least the two girls – must have been staying here as well.

    They soon resumed their previous positions, with a couple of deliberate differences. Nidoran was pacing around the room, sniffing at the carpet whilst Dalton sat at the table. Fox had taken up her spot on the top bunk again, with Sionna curled up on her belly after apparently promising not to set anything on fire. They sat in awkward silence again as Dalton listened to the muffled laughing and giggling on the other side of the wall. With a pang of panic, he wondered whether the rather animated girl talk going on in the other room had anything to do with him. Fox obviously heard it, too.

    “Sounds like your little girlfriend’s over in the room next door,” Fox said. “Why don’t you visit her?”

    “It’s not like that,” Dalton groaned impatiently, burying his forehead into his hand. “Besides… she’s already taken.”

    “You know that for sure?” Fox asked.

    Dalton didn’t know how to explain his theory to Fox without it sounding completely insane. So he answered, “…It’s complicated.”

    “Of course it is,” replied Fox, her voice a bit deadpan. “Hey, Dalton, your Nidoran…”

    He turned to look at the rodent creature and, to his great chagrin, found that she had sunk her large teeth into the carpet and begun to gnaw. The young man grimaced as he murmured uncertainly. “Hey, uh… Nidoran, stop that.”

    The rodent creature looked up at Dalton. Her red eyes were downcast as she ambled over to Dalton’s chair with her head down, looking very much like a child that had just been scolded. She began sniffing at his leg and then reared up onto her hind legs –

    “Ow!” the boy groaned, wincing as he felt small but sharp claws digging into his leg. Nidoran backed away and then turned away from him, looking furious with herself. It occurred to Dalton what Fox had said earlier to him that day – Pokémon could feel just about any emotion felt by a human. As Dalton observed Nidoran, he realized that they often even showed their emotions in a similar manner, too. He guessed she was only trying to apologize… or something like that… and obviously felt terribly about hurting him. “Don’t be like that. It’s okay…”

    He reached down to pick her up from the ground, careful not to cut his hands on any of her spines. As she felt her feet leave the floor, she let out a surprised squeak of “Ni—?!”

    Sincerely hoping and praying that her claws didn’t become overexcited, Dalton placed the Pokémon on his knees. She somehow seemed to realize the significance of this, as she looked up at him surprised for a moment, and then curled up there, looking quite comfortable and content.

    “I hope you realize how lucky you are,” Fox commented.

    “What, to have a Pokémon?” Dalton asked, rather distractedly stroking Nidoran’s flank.

    “To have one that likes you so much right off the bat,” Fox corrected him. “Usually, they put up a fight for the first few days, but this Nidoran… it was like you two were made for each other.”

    “Mmm…” Dalton murmured. Nidoran did indeed look very happy lying on Dalton’s lap. As much as Dalton hated to toot his own horn about anything, he wondered whether it had anything to do with the fact that he had saved her life.

    “You should give her a name,” Fox suggested.

    “You think so?” Dalton glanced at the small rodent Pokémon curled up in his lap, and then up at Fox. He frowned. “But I’m no good at that kind of thing…”

    He stared down at the Nidoran for a few moments.

    “How about… Nina?”

    “Ni?” The Nidoran lifted her head up, her ears twitching attentively.

    “Nina,” Dalton repeated. She stared up at him with her big, red eyes.

    “I’ve heard way worse,” Fox remarked. “Like in the lobby earlier. This one girl named her Lillipup ‘Mr. Fluffles.’”

    “Mr. Fluffles?” repeated Dalton, fighting an urge to burst into laughter.

    “Well, she looked like she was about seven – but still…” Fox snickered. “Can you imagine being in a Gym battle and giving orders to a Mr. Fluffles?”

    “Hmm,” Dalton uttered noncommittally, nonetheless allowing a smirk to cross his face. “So… what are Gym battles?”

    “You serious?” Fox asked quickly.

    “I’m dead serious,” he answered.

    “I… Oy…” Fox buried her face in her hands in exasperation. “Unova has several official Gyms. Each of them specializes in a certain type of Pokémon. There are… um… how many was it? Damn, I could have sworn I read it somew—seventeen! There are seventeen types of Pokémon. A type is… well, it’s almost like the kind of energy that fuels a Pokémon’s essence.”

    Dalton was right there with her until she started explaining types – or attempting to explain them, probably presuming that Dalton would ask. “Sounds complicated.”

    “Not as much as you’d think,” Fox explained. “For example…”

    She sat up, drawing Sionna closer to her. “Sionna is a Vulpix. Vulpix are the Fire-type. Your Nidoran – Nina… she’s… I think, a Poison-type.”

    Dalton went white for a moment as he looked at the creature curled up on his lap. “P-poison?”

    “Don’t worry, I don’t think she has any interest in trying to poison you,” Fox reassured him. “Anyway, these Gym Leaders each specialize in a certain type of Pokémon, and they battle challengers to test their strength. If you win, you get a badge as proof of your victory. And if you get eight of those, you can go to the Pokémon League and challenge the Elite Four and the League Champion.”

    “That’s what a Trainer does, huh?” he asked after Fox was finally done with her explanation. She nodded. “So that’s probably what that girl’s gonna do?”

    A grimace crossed Fox’s face. “I don’t know how it works wherever you are, but here, it’s not normal for a guy your age to be asking so many questions about a girl her age.”

    “I don’t know how old she was,” Dalton answered, sounding irritated. “Maybe fourteen, if I had to guess…”

    “And you’re, what? Twenty?” Fox asked nonchalantly. The ‘what the hell’ expression Dalton gave her in response was utterly spectacular.

    “I’m seventeen,” he droned. “I thought I mentioned that.”

    “Oh… okay. Well, it’s still weird – but not as weird,” Fox commented. “So, do you always have a thing for younger girls, or is she just special?”

    “Never mind… I have a theory. Don’t ask me to explain it. You’ll think I’m crazy,” Dalton said quickly, still absentmindedly stroking Nina while he looked up at the girl and her Vulpix, who both returned his gaze curiously.

    “News flash? I already think you’re crazy,” Fox scoffed. “I found you naked under a tree, screaming and babbling on about countries and timelines that don’t exist. How can you possibly shock me any more than that?”

    As somewhat brusque as Fox was being, Dalton couldn’t help feeling a bit comforted. She was right. He knew that if the roles had been reversed, he wouldn’t have found much she did or said surprising after that point.

    He didn’t know if he was making the right decision. He didn’t know if there was a ‘right’ decision for this situation. After all, if everything Dalton had seen and heard today was real, he was in territory uncharted by human beings. Not to mention, he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was here – in Unova and apparently about a century and a half in the past – for a very particular reason.

    And if it wasn’t real… at least he’d have the chance to live out something he never would have been able to do at home. If this was a dream, he could at least afford to be a bit more adventurous for as long as it lasted. He looked down at Nina.

    Above all, now was the chance to see if he was right to question the Harmonian way.

    “I want to become a Pokémon Trainer.”

    END

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  15. #15
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    Default

    Well, well, well... this just got interesting... Dalton meeting Hilda "Whit" Whitlea like that. I found Cheren's remark about homeless people a bit (okay, a lot) funny too. Is that wrong?

    So, Dalton's giving this "Trainer" thing a try... and as Fox said, he's actually lucky to be starting with a likable character like Nina. Bless her heart. As long as he doesn't stand out too much (bit late for that) he just might make it and keep his sanity. :P

    Actually, it's not strictly an error, just something that seems a bit... I dunno, weird:

    and now I’m someplace and maybe even some time completely freaking different from where I was when I woke up this morning. Yeah. It’s been a hell of a day.”
    I'd actually thought that would be two words, but it doesn't seem so...

    Well, let's see what Dalton Gregg will learn along the way. And maybe he'll one day save the world... Or not. With you, who can tell?

    OK, I'm out for now. L@er!
    The Corei Quest's latest chapter: Chapter Forty Seven: Tricks of the Trade (24 April 2014)
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    (Still waiting on the excellent Saffire Persian for another awesome TCQ banner!)

  16. #16

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    Sorry for not visiting for so long - school's been hella hectic recently.

    About halfway through that entire Limbo thing I was getting the feel that maybe Dalton would be flung back in time, and I was right! Ha-ha! Despite that, though, it wasn't predictable, and it definitely raises a lot of questions.

    I'm liking Dalton as a character. He's a bit less volatile than Lucas, which I prefer. Not that I didn't like Luc, but Dalton's different in a lot of ways that make his character interesting to read. And Fox, well, Fox is just great. I hope she can reconcile with her mother by the end of the story, though.

    One of the things I find very interesting about this story is how you're introducing the world of Pokémon steadily through Dalton's eyes. A person who doesn't know much about Pokémon probably isn't visiting serebii in the first place can delve right into this without worries of getting lost in it. I find that particularly refreshing.

    The other interesting thing is how you incorporate the characters and storyline of Black/White into your own world and your own original characters - kind of like the Blackthorn clan in Maverick Heart, except here, the "canon" ties into the overarching story and the characters much deeper. It's not an easy thing to pull off, and you do it.

    Overall, really happy with this, and definitely looking forward to reading more.

    EDIT: Right, I knew I wanted to add something! Namely, this has irked me from way back when I was reading Maverick Heart, and has persisted in The Age of Harmony: How in the f does your work not have more readers?! Seriously, your stories are among the best-written on the site.
    Last edited by zen_master_dude; 18th November 2012 at 1:49 PM.

  17. #17
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    Default Review Responses - Chapter 5

    Okay, first of all, I'm still alive.

    Actually, no, I'm not. My ghost is typing this.

    Just kidding. I'm very much alive.

    Sorry for the long wait. I've been really busy. Writing other things, first off. I'm not sure I'm allowed to plug here, so PM me if you want more details. Suffice it to say that it's not here at SPPf (or else you would have seen it already.)

    Also, I got a new computer just recently. Love Black Friday sales. Hate the lines, but love the sales...

    No, I didn't lose all my data. I took extra special care to make sure that didn't happen. But getting everything transferred from my old laptop to my new one did take some doing. And then I spent a bit of time on that other project.

    But, finally, I'm back, ready to respond to your reviews and answer questions as necessary. :-)

    Air Dragon:

    Well, well, well... this just got interesting... Dalton meeting Hilda "Whit" Whitlea like that. I found Cheren's remark about homeless people a bit (okay, a lot) funny too. Is that wrong?
    Nope. I've always thought that, if you stuck Cheren in one of the first few games (otherwise known as "that time before the Pokemon world got wussified and they made all of the 'rivals' be buddy-buddy with the protagonist"), he would have been... well, a real a--hole. I dunno why I thought that, but he comes off that way. Just like Bianca comes off as a naive, dumb blonde. Then again, that was probably the actual intended characterization of Bianca as opposed to my interpretation of it.


    zen_master_dude:

    I'm liking Dalton as a character. He's a bit less volatile than Lucas, which I prefer. Not that I didn't like Luc, but Dalton's different in a lot of ways that make his character interesting to read. And Fox, well, Fox is just great. I hope she can reconcile with her mother by the end of the story, though.
    Lucas often came off as one of those spoiled rich kids that gets into the "emo" subculture just because... as in he didn't really have much going wrong in his life (well, except for a legit fear that someone would show up to kill everyone he loved) and a lot of his problems were in his own head. Dalton, not so much. He's older, first off, and his last several years have pretty much sucked. He's actually gone through a bunch of crap.

    And if that's not bad enough, he's aware that the world in which he lives (or lived) is more dystopian than utopian. If you've ever read The Giver or Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (whose protagonist I roughly based Dalton upon), both of those stories will give you an idea of how screwed up it is to be the one guy burdened by that awareness. Dalton feels like the one sane guy in a world gone mad, but the world treats him like he's the crazy guy whereas everyone else is normal. But now that he's been dropped into a new world, he is
    that crazy dude around the normal bunch.... possibly. His only decision is to dive in headfirst and see where that takes him, which leads to his decision at the end of the previous chapter.

    Whew.

    And as for Fox... I wonder if I have a problem sometimes. There seems to be a theme of characters having broken relationships (at least at points) with their mothers. Except me and my mother (God rest her soul) were very close. Y'know what? I'd better not try to psychoanalyze my own writing. I'll just wind up giving myself a massive headache.


    One of the things I find very interesting about this story is how you're introducing the world of Pokémon steadily through Dalton's eyes. A person who doesn't know much about Pokémon ... can delve right into this without worries of getting lost in it. I find that particularly refreshing.
    I sort of billed this work as a 'return to basics' for me and my writing style. What I wanted from the beginning of this series wasn't so much for the person that knows nothing about Pokemon to have a light switch flip on (although that would be a very fortunate side effect), but people that have been into Pokemon for 10 or 15 years to get back a piece of that first-time nostalgia. If any of you have watched the VERY FIRST Harry Potter movie (Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone) and remember the scenes right as Harry is coming into the wizard world for the very first time, I'm going for that same sense of awe and wonderment. Whether I hit that mark is another thing entirely - but I'm certainly aiming for it.


    The other interesting thing is how you incorporate the characters and storyline of Black/White into your own world and your own original characters - kind of like the Blackthorn clan in Maverick Heart, except here, the "canon" ties into the overarching story and the characters much deeper. It's not an easy thing to pull off, and you do it.
    It's a tightrope. I didn't want to go for a straight novelization of the games. (Then I would have been competing with stories like Chronicles of Unova and I'd have gotten my **** handed to me.) I wanted some degree of originality. But I also wanted to frame it in something slightly familiar (at least to those who have played the game already). I've been guilty of my fics turning into large-scale messes with *Vegeta voice* "OVER NINE THOUSAAAAAAAND!" *smashes Scouter* cast members. (If you ever read Advent Phoenix, the list of characters and POVs associated with that fic might put A Song of Ice and Fire to shame, and that's saying something.)

    Just like with all tightropes, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. You can fall off to the left, or to the right... or you can slip straight down on the tightrope and land right on your hombres a hundred feet in the air.


    EDIT: Right, I knew I wanted to add something! Namely, this has irked me from way back when I was reading Maverick Heart, and has persisted in The Age of Harmony: How in the f does your work not have more readers?! Seriously, your stories are among the best-written on the site.
    Oh, God. Don't get me started. I could go on a rant about how fics that are borderline closure fodder seem to get much more attention from quality reviewers than the hard work I've been putting in for the better part of a decade, but I doubt many people would read that, either. I seriously considered shutting it down, and that's not a joke. After about 8 years at this, I felt people cared so little that I've been on the verge of not caring, either. That's part of the reason I took some time off to work on some other things - and more importantly, post them other places. I am thankful for the handful that do respect my work, though, and it's not my style to leave those people hanging. Thus, another chapter.

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  18. #18
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    ~~~ *** ~~~ *** ~~~
    6. A Free-Fall Education


    “I want to become a Pokémon trainer.”


    A very pregnant silence filled the air shortly after Dalton’s announcement, broken only by the two teenage girls giggling on the other side of the wall. The red-haired girl known as Fox stared down at him from atop her bunk bed, a somewhat stuck look on her face.

    “…What?”

    “I said, I want to become a Pokémon trainer,” Dalton repeated, exasperated.

    “…And this all has to do with your so-called ‘theory’ about that brunette?” Fox asked. An almost ironic smirk crossed her face. “That must have been one hell of a conversation.”

    “It’s got nothing to do with that,” Dalton snapped defensively. “Well… maybe a bit. But… it’s just this thing of… you know, you’re telling me that Pokémon and humans live together and can form bonds with each other. All my life, I’ve heard that Pokémon were never meant to have contact with human beings.”

    “Like I said, whoever said that to you doesn’t know what they’re talking about,” Fox interrupted sharply, almost as if she would love to find the culprit and give the person a huge piece of her mind. “There are things Pokémon can only do with the aid of a good trainer.”

    “But the whole battling thing seems…” Dalton admitted. “I dunno, cruel. I couldn’t…”

    He looked down at Nina, his Nidoran, who was returning his gaze with her big, red eyes.

    Fox sighed. “Pokémon are used to fighting. Even when they’re not battling for their own survival, I think a lot of them have this, you know… I wouldn’t call it ‘blood thirst.’ More like a competitive streak. They enjoy matching their strength against each other… most of them, anyway.”

    Dalton remained silent as he pondered this information. The more he talked about it, the more it confused him.

    “So… do you have a job?” Fox asked. “Or… did you have one?”

    “No,” Dalton answered, shaking his head. “I’m… I was… still in school. First year in college.”

    “College?” Fox sat up. “At your age?”

    “They don’t go to college at sixteen around here, I’m guessing?” Dalton sighed. After everything else he’d heard, this didn’t even come close to shocking him. “Well, where I’m from, they start mandatory education right after you turn four. It’s twelve years of that, then five of college if you choose to go.”

    “Strange system,” remarked Fox. “So… what were you studying?”

    “I was planning on history – print journalism minor,” Dalton said. “I wanted to join the Royal Historian Society in Castelia because I wanted to find out what things were like before the Age of Harmony began. But that’s always been classified information, reserved only for the eyes and ears of the Society’s highest-ranking members.”

    “There you go again,” Fox sighed. “Has it occurred to you that I might not believe a word you’re saying?”

    “Of course it has… and, to be honest, I don’t care,” Dalton replied flatly. “I’m leaving tomorrow, by myself… what does it matter if you believe me or not?”

    But this comment put Fox out to such a level that she didn’t talk to him for the rest of the evening. Even as night fell, and the two slipped into their beds (both with their clothes still on as they had brought nothing else), not so much as a greeting was exchanged. Nina had curled up right next to the bed, as Fox hadn’t put her own Pokémon in the ball, and had neglected to tell Dalton how to do so. Dalton got the feeling, though, that Nina didn’t particularly like being cooped up. He sure wouldn’t have liked it. So Dalton lay awake for what must have been hours, staring at the underside of Fox’s bed and trying to piece together everything that had happened to him that day.

    He was a bit surprised at himself, honestly. He looked deep inside himself, trying to find the anguish that should have been there, but simply wasn’t. It was almost as if, once he’d gotten over the initial shock, he was left numb, with no emotion but grim resignation.

    Maybe that was because nothing surprised him anymore. For as long as he had remembered, his life had been a tiny skiff, tossed mercilessly to and fro on the waves of Fate… yet unbroken. He was used to being uprooted, having no stability. Moving from place to place and starting over had become a way of life. And as his luck would have it, it was always right about the time where he began to grow comfortable in his surroundings that they were ripped away from him.

    This was just another item on a list.

    Either that, or it was a dream that would be completely pointless tomorrow when he awoke.

    He might have dozed off at last – he didn’t know. What he did know was that the next thing to get his attention was an opening of the front door and a sudden flood of light from the outer hallway. A shadow from outside filled the suddenly lit space and then turned around to shut them inside again. Moving quickly in the renewed darkness, it sprang up the ladder at the foot of the bed and, from the sound, flopped on it rather languidly. A few seconds later, Dalton’s ears caught a muffled, but sharp intake of breath…then another. It took a moment for it to Dalton to realize that the source of the noise was Fox – and she was crying. Dalton didn’t dare ask why. It certainly wasn’t any of his business, and probably wasn’t even his problem.

    He attempted to close his eyes. When he next opened them, it would all be over… or it would all begin.

    ~~~ *** ~~~ *** ~~~


    Dalton’s eyes snapped open, and he instantly wished they hadn’t.

    He’d found himself in a familiar, blinding blankness. At this center of this nothing stood a lone figure.

    Dalton hesitated, gazing at it suspiciously. Wearing a pink dress this time, was another black-haired girl. She was a tiny thing, no older than seven or eight – and she looked even tinier at the distance Dalton was standing. The girl seemed desperate, afraid. Then she turned to Dalton –

    “D-daddy?”

    “Wh—” Dalton stopped dead, eyeing the girl suspiciously. He wasn’t sure where his sister was, but he knew he didn’t have a daughter. After all, he still… well, suffice it to say he’d never gone through the appropriate channels to have a child. Still, as he drew closer to the girl, he couldn’t help but notice how much she looked like him.

    “Daddy!” the girl screamed. She seemed to want to break into a sprint, but instead teetered forward onto her face. It was at that point that Dalton noticed something horrible. Someone – a very cruel someone – had put this girl in shackles. Chain links held her hands fast, while a matching pair was secured around her ankles, keeping her from moving freely. She was on the ground at this point, crying very loudly. She screamed again. “Daddy! Daddy, help!”

    “KALLEN!” another child yelled. The young man’s heart jolted several times over – not only had he heard the name of his sister, but another boy had appeared right under him. In fact, if Dalton didn’t know any better, he would have thought that the boy had come right through him. He was small, but not as small as the girl, and skinny as a twig. His hair was black as well, and styled in a way that looked alarmingly familiar…

    “YOU GET BACK!” another voice roared. “YOU STAY AWAY FROM HER!!”

    He hadn’t physically felt it, but he knew the next figure had phased right through him. He was a man with dark blond hair, tall and with a thin build. Dalton saw the man’s blue eyes flash violently before, in one swift and violent motion, he knocked the young boy to the ground. Another figure passed through Dalton’s form – this one a crying woman with long, jet black hair. She walked over to the downed boy and tried to help him up.

    “Please, Floyd, stop it!” she cried.

    Dalton’s face tightened as he realized what he was watching. The boy got to his feet and hid behind the woman. His head turned…

    And Dalton stared right into the eyes of his ten-year-old self.

    The man named Floyd was snarling toward the little Dalton. “You… I’ll deal with you later.”

    Floyd turned to the girl, who had managed to get herself to her feet. Also, seemingly out of thin air, two men in white uniforms had appeared to flank her, putting a hand on each of her shoulders. Floyd ran there and knelt in front of her.

    “Daddy…” she squeaked, her voice having gone past fear and into quiet desperation.

    “Be brave, Kallen,” Floyd said quickly, tears now running down his own face as he tried to wipe them from hers. “Be brave. We’ll come and find you one day.”

    Dalton knew this was a lie – a merciful lie, but a lie. Floyd probably knew full well at that moment that he and his daughter would never see each other again. But he wanted to give her hope – something she could hold onto.

    But Dalton was no longer ten years old… so he no longer had to sit and watch.

    “BASTARDS!” he roared. Briefly registering the complete lack of reaction by anyone else in the white room, he charged at one of the white-uniformed men and threw his best punch.

    He hit nothing – except the ground, shortly after overbalancing. He scrambled to his feet, and failed to see the girl. He whirled around.

    Kallen and her two companions – or, rather, her two captors – were now little more than pinpricks in the distance, standing impossibly far away…


    “KALLEN!”

    He sat straight up, as if awakened by an electric shock. The world around him was no longer white; in fact, it was very dark, and hard to see anything. He could feel that his face was wet. He slumped back onto his bed for a moment, trying to calm himself down.

    Okay…it’s early. I’m going to open my eyes, turn the lights on, and I’ll be in my room in Azalea City. Then I’m gonna try to steal another hour or two of sleep. My first class isn’t until after ten today.

    He opened his eyes again. He knew something was wrong when he tried to roll to his right – the side he usually exited the bed – and hit a wall instead. He snarled out a profanity as both of his knees throbbed in stereo.

    Going to his left this time, he rolled out of the bed and…

    “NIIIIIII!!!”

    Dalton jumped horribly and scrambled to where he thought the door was. Fumbling around on the walls near the door, he found something with his hand that felt like a light switch. He flicked it…

    …and as the lights in the ceiling switched on to reveal the same room where he’d last fallen asleep, he felt the unique sensation somewhere between reluctant excitement and abject terror. Meanwhile, a blue rodent was shivering near the foot of the bunk bed. Dalton approached it slowly, sinking down into a crawl to get closer to its eye level.

    “Did I land on you?” As tenderly as he could, he asked the rodent creature, who had a hard but tearful gaze fixed on Dalton’s face. She seemed to be both frightened and in pain, but was obviously trying to will herself not to cry. “Sorry… I didn’t mean to do that…”

    Nina turned her head and grunted, “Ni…”

    Dalton reached forward and patted the Nidoran on top of her head (making sure to avoid her short horn). He murmured in wonderment, “Wow… you really are real…”

    “Ni-nih…” the Nidoran moaned in reply, her disposition seeming to warm at his touch.

    Dalton drew himself up to a standing position again. He took a deep breath – or tried. It was like someone had knocked all the wind out of him. His heart was beating so fast he thought it would explode right out of his chest. Nina’s big, crimson eyes gazed at him curiously.

    “Okay,” Dalton muttered to himself. “Uh, Nido-I mean… Nina… where’s Fox?”

    He pointed up at the top bunk, hoping the Nidoran would understand him. She looked up in that direction and then back at Dalton.

    “Ni-doh,” she whimpered, very obviously shaking her head. Dalton smiled, almost ironically.

    “Story of my life,” he murmured. “People are there, and then, in the blink of an eye, they’re gone…”

    He had no time to mourn Fox’s departure. There was a huge, new world about which he knew nothing. He straightened.

    “So…” he said almost stoically, staring down at Nina. “Feeling up for an adventure?”

    ~~~ *** ~~~ *** ~~~

    Dalton Gregg may have been completely green as far as Unova itself was concerned, but he was no fool. He took notice of things as they happened – like the fact that the Pokémon Center in Accumula Town seemed to be something of a hub for exchanging Pokémon-related information. Naturally, then, his first move was to go down and ask someone about what it took to be a Pokémon trainer. It just so happened that the first people he asked were the owners of the supply store toward the front. (His heart sank as he realized that he had no money for supplies.)

    “You mean you want to register for the Unova Pokémon League?” one of the vendors asked him.

    “Is that what the Gyms are called?” was Dalton’s response. The vendor gave him a quizzical look.

    “You not from here?” he asked.

    Dalton’s face twisted into a strange sort of grimacing smirk as he was once again reminded of his apparent situation. “Not even a little bit.”

    The vendor tilted his head slightly and a smile crossed his face. Dalton knew what the guy was thinking; probably that Dalton was a complete moron for not knowing information this basic. However, the revelation that Dalton wasn’t from Unova had softened the vendor’s view slightly. “You’ll probably be wanting to talk to Nurse Joy. You, uh… do know who Nurse Joy is, don’t you? Cute, pink-haired…”

    “Yeah, we’ve met,” Dalton interrupted briskly, starting to walk in that direction. “Thanks.”

    “Tell her my offer for Saturday still stands!” the vendor yelled after Dalton as he crossed the Pokémon Center’s huge central room and went toward the nurse’s desk. There, he found the pink-haired young lady busying herself with a computer at the front of the desk. After a moment, she looked up at him.

    “Oh, hello,” she said brightly, in a way that indicated that she remembered his face. “Leaving us so soon?”

    Dalton grunted noncommittally. “I was wondering where you would sign up for the Unova League.”

    “Oh!” Nurse Joy’s mouth rounded as her bright eyes widened. “Well… let’s see. Prospective participants in the Unova Pokémon League may register for the league at any officially recognized Pokémon Center in Unova.”

    “So… I can do it here, then,” Dalton said. Joy nodded.

    “Yes. I just need to… one moment…” she murmured, doing some typing and clicking on her nearby computer. “There we go! Name, please?”

    “Dalton Gregg,” the young man said a bit robotically.

    “Height and weight?” she asked.

    Dalton paused for a moment. He hadn’t weighed himself in a while. “Six feet, one-forty-five…ish.”

    Joy looked up at him and gave him a once-over with her eyes. She frowned. “That sounds about right. But if you’re planning on journeying, you probably want to eat a bit more.”

    Dalton rolled his eyes. He’d probably heard about a hundred times and in about a hundred different ways that he was too skinny for a young man his height and age. He blamed genetics. His dad had been tall and lanky, too.

    “Age?” she asked.

    “Seventeen,” he replied. Joy looked up at him.

    “Forgive me for prying, but it’s…” she said, looking Dalton over. She appeared to be trying to find the right way to say what she was about to say. “…It’s rather uncommon for someone your age to be starting as a rookie trainer.”

    Dalton’s heart sank. “So you’re saying I’m too old or something?”

    “Of course not,” Nurse Joy replied, shaking her head. “There’s no official maximum age limit as far as I know. But most trainers I’ve seen starting out are closer to thirteen or fourteen years old. That seems to be the common age… but it depends on the home, I suppose…”

    “Well, that’s sort of a moot point, because I’m not from here,” Dalton answered.

    “Oh, okay… yes, we were just getting to that… where’s your hometown? Or you can simply say the region if it’s not here in Unova,” Joy explained.

    “Johto. I’m from Johto,” Dalton replied.

    “You’ve traveled pretty far,” Nurse Joy commented. Dalton gave a short laugh at this.

    “Yeah, I’ll say.”

    “And your Pokémon? Just the one, correct? The female Nidoran you brought to me yesterday?” Joy asked, peering over the desk and seeing the small rodent creature, who had been following Dalton the entire time.

    “Ni!” she squeaked proudly.

    “Yes, just her,” Dalton answered. “Sorry, but… why do you have to keep information about my Pokémon?”

    “It’s for identification purposes – mainly if you, well…” Joy seemed hesitant. She then gave Dalton an apologetic look and explained, “If you’re ever connected with any criminal activity. Not that you would be, of course. You seem much too… sweet and gentle for that sort of thing.”

    Dalton frowned. He didn’t know if Nurse Joy was complimenting him, or trying to find a roundabout way to say that he didn’t look tough. As if he needed reminding of that…

    “There! You’re all registered,” Joy said. “One moment… could you stand directly in front of the computer, please?”

    Dalton did as told. This was beginning to remind him suspiciously of the day he’d gotten his learner’s permit. (He never did get around to learning how to drive, either.) He put on his most businesslike facial expression, while trying to keep it somewhat friendly. He supposed that Joy was taking his picture. A faint clicking sound and flash a second later told him that he’d supposed correctly. As he stepped back toward the desk, he saw Joy duck out of sight for a moment. She emerged holding a card. Even before she handed it to Dalton to take, he saw himself staring back at him from the face of the plastic card, along with some of the information he had given to her, arranged neatly on the card’s right side. He also noticed that his sex (denoted by a large capital M) was on the card.

    “Hold on to that card,” Joy advised him. “You’ll need it to participate in Gym matches.”

    “Thanks,” Dalton muttered, pocketing it, but making a mental note to find somewhere better to stow it at some point. “About the gyms…”

    “First one’s in Striaton City, to the west,” Nurse Joy answered immediately. Dalton supposed she must have gotten that question a lot. “They specialize in… well, they don’t, really. Just be ready for anything.”

    Dalton didn’t find this very helpful, but he nodded nonetheless. “Thanks.”

    And, not wanting to stay stationary a second longer, he bolted from the Pokémon Center. With Accumula Town not being particularly large, Dalton could see the road leading out of the town almost immediately. He ran in that direction. It was not long before the paved roads and buildings of Accumula Town were replaced by trees, broken dirt paths, and tall, wild grass. Dalton could have sworn he’d heard something about the tall grass that was worth remembering. He just couldn’t remember it.

    He strayed from the path into the grass, very gingerly…

    A loud cacophony of barks startled him, and forced him back out of the grass so quickly that he tripped going backwards and landed right on his hindquarters.

    “Oww…” he grunted, scrambling to his feet. Two nearly identical, quite small, but quite angry-looking creatures were now standing in front of the patch of grass, growling at him. They were brown, appeared to be about a foot off the ground, with large eyes and faces hidden by quite a large quantity of straw-colored fur. “Ah… erm…”

    Dalton scanned the two creatures with his eyes. They didn’t appear to have any intention of backing down.

    “Ni!!” a small yell came from several feet away. Nina, who (Dalton realized with a pang of regret) had been left behind in the wake of her new trainer’s haste, was bounding down the dirt road. She leapt in front of Dalton, placing herself between him and the two small creatures. The two identical Pokémon looked at each other briefly, almost as if deciding what they wanted to do. Then they looked back at Nina and took a step forward in stereo.

    “Ni-ni-ni!” Nina shouted – and there was some urgency in her squeaky voice.

    “Are we… do we have to fight them?” uttered Dalton. “I mean – do you…?”

    “Ni.” Nina nodded. “Ran-raaaaaaaaaan…”

    Dalton had no idea what Nina had said, but it was clear that the two furry, brown creatures had understood her – and neither one of them seemed to like what she was saying. Aggressive looks seized their faces. One of them charged.

    “Nina, move!” Dalton cried in a panic. Nina bounded to the left. One of the aggressive furballs landed hard and rather painfully on the ground, right where Nina had been a moment before. She had to roll out of the way to avoid the second Pokémon, who came flying in just as she landed. As soon as she sprang to her feet again, she saw the first furry creature coming hard and fast… “NINA!”

    The Nidoran skidded backward as her attacker slammed into her. Her eyes shut tight in a familiar wincing expression and, when she recovered her balance, she looked winded. “Nih…”

    The two creatures began to converge on her, their eyes narrowing dangerously. Their huge irises and pupils disappeared behind a veil of vaguely golden light as the creatures’ eyes began to glow. Whatever they were doing, it was having an effect on Nina, who backed away a step, suddenly not looking quite as brave as she had been about a minute before.

    Both of the small, furry creatures were crouching – starting to pounce. Dalton was at a loss. He had no idea what to do.

    They both went to charge, but stopped abruptly, and for good reason. Some sort of sparks had come from out of nowhere, and had hit the short grass right in front of their feet, setting it ablaze. Both creatures yelped and leapt backward. An orange, fox-like creature bounded up toward Nina. It puffed out its chest for a moment. “Vul…”

    And then it let out a sound that was, frankly, a bit frightening for something of its size and docile appearance. The noise even unsettled Dalton and Nina a bit – both winced in tandem. The two brown, furry creatures, however, were scared out of their wits, and they immediately turned tail and ran down the road, whimpering as they went.

    The fox creature greeted the Nidoran warmly. “Voool…pix?”

    “Ni…” Nina’s head and ears drooped sadly. Dalton caught sight of six tails waving back and forth behind the small creature that had rescued Nina.

    “A Vulpix,” the young man muttered. “Sionna?”

    Damn, you’re hopeless,” a groan came from somewhere above him. A bewildered expression etched on his face, Dalton looked up. It was not long before he found a tree that had a visitor. A red-haired girl wearing a short dress was a few feet above him, sitting on an outstretched tree limb. She leaned back and, for one panicked moment, Dalton thought she was going to fall out of the tree and onto her head. But she hung for a moment by the inner crooks of her knees, before flipping head over heels and out of the tree. She landed in a perfect three-point squat and drew herself up to her feet.

    “Fox,” Dalton murmured blankly. She was walking toward him, massaging her forehead with one of her palms.

    “You have no idea what you’re doing, do you?” she asked. Dalton frowned.

    “I’m going to Striaton City,” he said impatiently. “That’s where the first Gym is. So—”

    “Wow, Dalton… just… wow,” she uttered flatly. Taking her face out of her hand at last, she straightened, inhaled and said, “Okay… first of all, you’re nowhere the hell near Striaton City. You don’t recognize this road at all?”

    “Wh—no. Why should I?” asked Dalton.

    “This is Route 1 – going back toward Nuvema Town,” she groaned. “You left Accumula going the wrong way… but it’s probably a good thing you did. Sionna and I wouldn’t have been able to save your hide otherwise. You clearly have no idea how to handle your Pokémon.”

    “What do you mean, ‘handle’?” Dalton asked. “I just watch her fight and make sure she doesn’t get hurt, right?”

    “If you just watch her fight, she will get hurt. And I don’t see you with a bag of supplies, either,” Fox added.

    “That’s not my fault,” Dalton snapped back. “I told you I don’t have any money.”

    Fox just let out a long sigh. She looked up at Dalton with an almost pitiful expression in her blue eyes. “You claim you want to be a Pokémon trainer… but you don’t know the first thing about Pokémon Training.”

    “Oh, and you do?” Dalton retorted, finally having lost his temper. “Why aren’t you doing it, then?”

    “That’s not any of your business,” Fox said, her tone suddenly becoming harsh. Clearly, Dalton had touched a nerve. The red-haired girl swallowed hard and started blinking a lot. She muttered in a tremulous voice, “Y’know what? Fine. I was just trying to help. If you’re gonna be such a jerk about it, though…”

    She folded her arms across herself and, head down, started back up the road, making sure to ram her shoulder into Dalton on the way. Looking uncertainly at Nina and then at Dalton, Sionna followed her. As he watched her back for about three seconds, a bunch of thoughts ran through Dalton’s head. He wasn’t sure which one prompted him to reach out, grab hold of Fox’s shoulder, and shout “WAIT!!” … but he had done it nonetheless. Fox froze dead in her tracks. A bit awkwardly, Dalton lowered his arm.

    “Wait…” he repeated. “It’s not like I don’t appreciate all you’ve done for me the last couple of days. I really do. It’s just that… well… imagine being in my shoes. Everything is new to me right now. I don’t even know what those things were that attacked us just now—”

    “Lillipup,” Fox answered a bit flatly. “…And something had them worked up. I hardly ever see them that aggressive.”

    “You see?” moaned Dalton. “You’ve got all this stuff down to a science, and I…”

    He swallowed hard. It had never been this way. He had always been near the top of his class, figuring it was the one thing that he had on everyone else around him. But now…

    “I… I don’t know anything.”

    Fox kept her back turned to him for a moment and didn’t move. “Well,” she finally said seriously, “you’d better listen hard… because I don’t like repeating myself.”

    Dalton had heard this from so many professors and teachers, he couldn’t keep it from bringing a slight smile to his face. “Yeah. Of course.”

    “And you have to address me with the proper respect,” Fox said. “‘Teacher’ or ‘Miss Fox’ or ‘Sensei’ will do.”

    Dalton frowned for a moment… up until he saw her put her hands to her mouth. She looked over her shoulder and turned around.

    “I was just kidding about that last part – why are you looking at me like that?” she asked. “You need a sense of humor. Anyway, we’re going back to Accumula. I’ve got just enough money to grab us some basic supplies, but we’ll have to ration until we get some more cash.”

    “Hold on – ‘we?’” Dalton uttered.

    “I’m coming with you, of course. Neither of us have Pidove, so it’s not like we can make this a correspondence course,” Fox gave herself a small, scoff-like chuckle. “Not like that’d help a whole lot.”

    “What’s a Pidove?” Dalton queried.

    Fox popped her eyebrows upward. “My point exactly. Besides… we’ll both be going through Castelia City eventually, so we might as well stick together until then. Makes sense for you, anyway. You wouldn’t last an hour out here the way you are now.”

    Dalton frowned. An hour, he thought, was quite a bleak view of his survival chances. Fox already had her heading – she was going the way Dalton had come, back toward Accumula Town. Sionna skipped in her wake, until Fox looked over her shoulder.

    “We might even catch up with your new friend if we hurry,” she snickered. Dalton frowned and slid his hands into the pockets of the cargo shorts that Fox had bought him. He trusted her; she had only ever been helpful, and as much as he hated to admit it, he needed as much help right now as he could possibly get.

    “C’mon, Nina,” he murmured. “Let’s go.”

    “Ni!” she squeaked enthusiastically, bounding after her new trainer.

    He may have made the decision on a whim, and may have known precious little about this new world, but for the first time since he arrived, Dalton saw a future – a potential destination. He looked up and around himself – being around this much nature was still somewhat new to him.

    Meanwhile, Fox walked in front, determined not to look back at Dalton. Four short legs fell into step with her two long ones.

    “Vool-vool, voool….”

    Fox scoffed. “Don’t be ridiculous, Sionna.”

    The fox Pokémon closed her eyes and kept talking. “Vool, voo-ooool, vool?”

    Fox finally relented and looked over her shoulder. Dalton was trudging behind her, Nina right at his heels. She turned forward.

    “Maybe… but he doesn’t smile enough,” she said.

    “Vul-pix, vool?” Sionna commented, nudging her leg. Fox scoffed again in response.

    “I doubt it,” she answered.

    But it was with a smile and slightly lifted spirits that she led her new companion back to Accumula Town.

    END

    ~~~ *** ~~~ *** ~~~


    - EM1
    Last edited by EonMaster One; 12th December 2012 at 3:09 AM. Reason: Correcting errors...

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  19. #19
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    'He doesn't smile enough", hunh? Ooh, someone likey likeys! Wonder why she thinks Dalton likes Whit at all... after that final note, jealous, much?

    So, Dalton and Fox are travelling together. Guess that's kinda legit for the journeyfic genre. Journeys are more fun in company, after all... :P

    I must have forgotten my Grammar Nazi lenses. Either that, or it's been a while because I not only don't feel like correcting errors, but I found none to boot. Up high!

    Well, I think I've been lazy enough... gotta run!

    L@er!
    The Corei Quest's latest chapter: Chapter Forty Seven: Tricks of the Trade (24 April 2014)
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  20. #20
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    But it was with a smile and slightly lifted spirits that she led her new companion back to Accumula Town.
    Shouldn't it be like this?
    Liking the story so far by the way. (Also, do you have any clue how long the Maverick Heart hiatus will be?)

  21. #21
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    So I figured I'd get to everyone's reviews some time before 2013... :P

    Air Dragon:

    'He doesn't smile enough", hunh? Ooh, someone likey likeys! Wonder why she thinks Dalton likes Whit at all... after that final note, jealous, much?

    So, Dalton and Fox are travelling together. Guess that's kinda legit for the journeyfic genre. Journeys are more fun in company, after all... :P

    I must have forgotten my Grammar Nazi lenses. Either that, or it's been a while because I not only don't feel like correcting errors, but I found none to boot. Up high!

    Well, I think I've been lazy enough... gotta run!
    Does she think Dalton likes Whit, or is she just giving him grief for Whit being so much younger (the would-be game trio are all in the 14-15 range in this story, while Dalton's 17 going on 18 and Fox is a year younger). I'll never tell.

    Let's be honest, though, about Dalton. For obvious reasons, he actually needs traveling companions more than would your average journeyfic protagonist. (Read: He wouldn't last very long trying to travel on his own if he didn't have some help.)


    Emeraldfan:

    To answer your first question: Yes. O.O

    To answer your second question: Not sure. I can tell you this much, though: I won't be running Maverick Heart and this story simultaneously, so as long as this one's getting updates, Maverick Heart's on hiatus. But if I update Maverick Heart, that likely means I've made the decision to put Age of Harmony on hiatus for a while. In all honesty, I've already got this fic, Maverick Heart on hold for the time being, and a Harry Potter fanfiction that I've put a lot of my time and effort into in the last couple of months. For as much as I write, running two fics at once in different locations is ambitious. Three would be a teensy bit much.

    - EM1

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  22. #22
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    ~~~ *** ~~~ *** ~~~
    7. The Unbound

    “Hurry up, Dalton! What’s taking you so long?!”

    A girl’s call echoed slightly into the warm, midday air. The many trees provided some shade from the sun, which had begun to grow hot. A rather wide swath had been cut through them, and it was this area that served as the pathway between Accumula Town and the neighboring Striaton City.

    A rustling nearby prompted the girl to turn in that direction. Her vibrant, orange hair flew out behind her. Meanwhile, from a thicket of knee-high grass and weeds, a tall, spindly young man emerged, hands on his knees, panting desperately.

    “Are you tired already?” the girl asked, bouncing up to him with a backpack smacking against her back. “We’ve barely been traveling for an hour!”

    Dalton’s lips pursed as he gave Fox a dirty look from his slumped-over position.

    “You’re athletic and you don’t get tired. I get it,” he said. “You try walking this or any path in cheap sandals.”

    Fox frowned and folded her arms. “You could be a bit more grateful. I got you those sandals out of my own pocket.”

    Dalton groaned in response. “That’s great… but they weren’t made for heavy traveling.”

    “Well, sorry that I didn’t have a crystal ball to predict that you’d want to just go running off on a Pokémon journey the day after I got you those clothes!” Fox exclaimed huffily, her flaming orange hair flying around her as she tossed her head and whirled around. Sionna the Vulpix, who was standing nearby watching all of this, glanced at Dalton for a moment, and then turned to Fox as she started muttering. “Should have let you parade right into Accumula Town in your birthday suit. That woulda served you right…”

    “Voool?” Sionna mewled inquisitively.

    “No. He’s being an ***,” Fox snapped – a bit childishly, Dalton thought.

    “I’m being an ***? Because I’m tired?” he retorted. He shook his head. “You know what? This was a horrible idea.”

    He started to walk off—

    You stay where you are!

    Dalton stopped dead in his tracks, not so much because of what Fox had said, but because of how she had said it – or rather, how she had screamed it. The noise was so loud that it disturbed a couple of birds (or, as Dalton had to remind himself again, probably bird Pokémon) in the nearby trees. A smattering of black shadows had taken to the air with a cacophony of twittering.

    “Don’t be an idiot,” Fox said. Suddenly she, too, was panting as if she had run a mile. “What if a Pokémon attacks you while you’re worn out?”

    Dalton glanced askance at Fox. “Then I’ll just have Nina fight it off, right?”

    Fox took a couple of deep, weary breaths. To Dalton’s surprise, her face contorted into a smile. “Look at that. You’ve actually learned something. Still, though…”

    She stepped forward. Dalton noticed that she was at the edge of a ridge. He observed her rather nervously. He had seen that same ridge from below on the way up here. It was his height at the very least, and sheer to the point that if one fell or jumped down, they could not come back except by the way he had come – down the path and up the hill through the tall grass.

    “…This seems as good a place to rest as any,” Fox commented. “We’ll stay put here for… let’s say thirty minutes. In fact…”

    She set her bag down on the ground and began to rummage through it. Dalton and Sionna both approached her, peering over her to see what she was doing. Moments later, she produced a bowl and a couple of sandwiches in plastic bags. She handed one to Dalton. It had been mashed slightly by the weight of whatever else was in her bag. Dalton had no idea what kind of meat was on it, either, but he supposed – or at least hoped – it was edible.

    She sat down cross-legged, continuing to fumble with her bag. Next, the rucksack birthed a smaller bag made of plastic, full of pellets of a dark brown color. Dalton raised an eyebrow.

    “What in—”

    “Pokémon food,” Fox answered quickly, opening the bag. It had been Dalton’s second guess, given the context. As for his first – well, that was better left unsaid. Suffice it to say that it wouldn’t have been something anyone in their right mind would have wanted to carry around in a plastic bag. Fox emptied some of the contents of this bag into the small, blue bowl. Her slowness nearly cost her a hand, as Sionna stuck her face into the bowl and began munching away with gusto. Fox grimaced. “Easy, easyhey!!

    Sionna stopped and looked up. Her muzzle was adorably dotted with fragments of her newest meal. “Vool?”

    “Slow down,” Fox said almost scoldingly. “That’s not all for you. Dalton.”

    Dalton, who had become rather distracted staring at a grayish bird creature in a nearby tree, looked at Fox with a start. “Hmm?”

    “Let Nina out of her ball,” Fox suggested. “I’m sure she could use a bite to eat, too. You, uh… you do remember how—”

    “Yeah, I got it,” Dalton interrupted, pulling the small sphere from a clip near the waist of his cargo shorts. Pushing the center button, he caused the ball to expand. “Nina, c’mon out.”

    The ball split open in the middle, spewing forth a flood of white light. This light spilled over to the ground and faded to reveal a bluish creature with large teeth and even larger ears.

    “Ni?” she seemed confused for a moment as she looked around.

    “Vool-vool!!” The intonation in Sionna’s voice was friendly and excited. A smile crossed the Nidoran’s rodentlike face, and she bounded over to join her new companion at the bowl.

    “Looks like those two have become fast friends,” Fox said, smiling at the sight of the two small Pokémon eating together before turning back to Dalton.

    “Yeah…” Dalton murmured noncommittally, still staring into the forested horizon. He shut his eyes tightly, once again trying to make sense of everything that had happened over the last couple of days. Just like the last few times he had tried it, though, he failed miserably.

    “So…” Fox intoned. “Uh… what else is interesting about you? I mean, besides the fact that you think you’re from the future?”

    Dalton sighed. This question was exasperating for a number of reasons, the first of which being rather obvious.

    “I mean…” Dalton murmured. “Interesting? Not much, I guess. I’m left-handed.”

    …And he’d only thought of that because of the fact that his sandwich was now outside the bag and in his left hand, ready for him to eat.

    “Yeah… yeah, I noticed that,” Fox commented. “You’re lucky… back about a thousand years ago, there was a time when being left-handed could get you burned at the stake.”

    Dalton nearly dropped his sandwich in horror. “Wha—why?”

    “Oh… it was thought to be a sign of a witch – or a warlock in your case. Actually,” Fox said with the air of one talking about the weather. “You’d really be screwed. They were suspicious of black-haired people back then, too. Them and… well, gingers.”

    Dalton heard Fox snicker.

    “I’m sure you’ve heard the jokes. ‘Gingers have no souls’ and that kinda crap,” Fox muttered. Smiling ironically, she commented, “People actually believed that at one point. Now, thankfully, it’s just jokes.”

    Dalton frowned. Without looking at her, he asked before he could think, “Did they make fun of you?”

    “All the time,” she sighed. “School was hell.”

    Things went silent again, mainly because Dalton didn’t know how to respond. He couldn’t tell if she was exaggerating or just being candid.

    “Something bothers me about your whole story,” Fox finally said a bit urgently.

    “And what’s that?” Dalton knew Fox didn’t believe him. The fact that she had to remind him of that every couple of hours was starting to tweak his nerves.

    “I mean, you had that little… episode when I found you yesterday,” she murmured, almost as if ashamed to bring it up. Dalton knew what she was referencing. “But, other than that, you don’t seem very bothered by the fact that you’re… according to you… on another continent over a century in the past.”

    “Well…” Dalton uttered, cutting himself short for a moment. “No, I’d be lying if I said I saw this coming… either that, or I’d be a hell of a psychic. But… I guess, after you move away for the third time and have to start all over again… you sorta start to get used to it.”

    Fox frowned. “Military brat?”

    Dalton raised an eyebrow. “Hm?”

    “No, it’s just, my one friend…” she slowed down. “That’s why he moved out to Icirrus City. His dad got reassigned. I bet he moved around a lot. There’s no telling where he is now…”

    “You mean the one that saw—” Dalton started. He had a few words in mind to finish the question. He was sure none of them would have been a good idea. “—saw you?”

    Fox let out a breathy chuckle at Dalton’s attempt to beat around the bush. “That’s a funny way of putting it. Yeah, him.”

    “I mean… but why does he matter so much?” Dalton wondered aloud. “You haven’t seen him in years, right?”

    Fox’s face fell. “Well… he was the last friend my age I had.”

    Dalton remained silent, pondering whose life had been worse up to that point. Was it better to be the one who was always moving, or the one that stayed stable and watched everyone else move on? Granted, most kids hadn’t grown up like either of them. Most kids had friends from their childhood.

    “You weren’t…” Dalton didn’t know how to phrase his next question. “I mean… there weren’t any other girls your age that you hung out with growing up?”

    “Hung out with? Sure,” Fox answered. “A few. But Accumula’s a small town – and none of them have ever been my friends – especially after we became teenagers. They sorta turned into idiots after that.”

    The last part of Fox’s statement was so disdainful, Dalton had to ask. “So you were a loner by choice?”

    “Of course not. I can’t help being different,” she snapped, now sounding very defensive. “So I wanted to talk about something other than boys or clothes – or hair care products. Just what the hell’s wrong with that? My mom was…”

    She trailed off suddenly, and Dalton frowned and lowered his half-eaten sandwich from his mouth as he suddenly realized the reason he’d caught Fox crying herself to sleep the night before.

    “She was the same way,” she said in a quiet, strangled, hollow sort of voice. “She’d always wanted a daughter. She was so happy… then she realized that I wasn’t turning into the traditional ‘girly-girl.’ But my dad didn’t care. I could be myself around my dad.”

    “Is that why you’re looking for him?” Dalton asked a bit quietly. Fox had never said this outright, but Dalton had figured it out. “To bring him back home?”

    “He’s been gone almost three years. It’s too late for us to be a proper family again,” she answered distractedly. Her sandwich gone, she was now tracing circles on the dirt with one finger. “But… I mean… he’s my dad. Of course I’d want to know if he’s still alive. Wouldn’t you look for your parents?”

    Dalton smiled mordantly. “I haven’t seen my parents in seven years. And if I never see ‘em again, it’ll be too soon.”

    Fox frowned. “Seven years? Who took care of you during that time?”

    “Nobody… and everybody,” scoffed Dalton. “I bounced around between foster parents up until I was about fourteen. Then a nice, old lady named Lucille gave me a home. But… she died. Right before – right before I came out here.”

    Even in his own head, “right before I got myself shot and traveled backwards in time” was starting to sound nuts.

    “Your parents just abandoned you?” Fox asked, her voice a completely different type of ginger than her hair.

    Dalton sighed heavily. “Yep. Left me with a family friend and just took off. I guess I sorta… semi-deserved it…”

    “No.”

    Dalton turned his head and looked at Fox. She was staring down at the ground, a hard but somewhat blank look in her blue eyes.

    “No child deserves for their parents to just disappear like that,” she said – firmly in spirit, although her voice shook horribly as if she could break down into tears at any second. “You were, what, ten? There shouldn’t be anything you do at that age that makes you deserve for your parents to just dump you like that. Nothing.”

    She shook her head vehemently.

    Dalton grimaced. “Even getting your eight-year-old sister hauled away by government officials… possibly to torture and death?”

    Fox blinked blankly as she continued staring at the ground.

    “How…?”

    “It’s like I said… the government in my time really doesn’t like Pokémon and humans mingling together,” Dalton said. “I was a big reader when I was a kid… still am. I found a coloring book in one of my library books. I wasn’t big on coloring… my sister was, so I gave it to her. Turns out it was a Pokémon coloring book. When she took it to school, the teacher saw it and turned her in to the Party. The next day, Party security forces took her away to… well, to here. At least that’s what they said. They said they were going to… to re-educate her…”

    Dalton was almost surprised at himself for getting through the entire story without the inevitable lump growing in his throat, but it finally did, and he went silent.

    “Dalton…” Fox whimpered.

    Dalton swallowed hard. “Don’t do that.”

    “Hm?” she asked, still much too tenderly. “Do what?”

    “The pity thing,” Dalton muttered, shaking his head. “I’ve seen it a million times. It’s old. It won’t make anything any better. Maybe if I could have gotten into the Society, I could have found out the truth, maybe even gotten some revenge, but… that probably won’t ever happen now.”

    Fox took a deep, staggering breath. Dalton didn’t dare look. “You could stop it.”

    “Stop it?” he repeated.

    “I mean… based on your theory,” she said, “you’ve come back in time to right before The Age of Harmony started. And since Unova was – becomes – Harmonia’s central region, then maybe it’s possible that the people who started Harmonia are in Unova right now. Maybe you could stop them?”

    “That’s a nice dream,” Dalton murmured. “But unless you know a guy named Ghetsis, there’s no chance in hell of it actually happening.”

    “Ghetsis?” repeated Fox. “Who’s –”

    “He was a regent of Harmonia. Not a king,” Dalton explained. “His son was the first king. But Ghetsis apparently thought his son was an inept ruler, so he had his son and daughter-in-law executed. Left just his infant grandson. Ghetsis ruled Harmonia with an iron fist while the true king was trying to learn how to walk. Sounds like a hell of a guy, right? He and my dad would have gotten along great.”

    “So, why Ghetsis… and not the king?” Fox asked.

    “He’s called ‘Ghetsis the Great’ where I’m from,” the black-haired youth explained. “Most of the anti-Pokémon laws… the ones that made Harmonia what it is – were passed under his regency.”

    Fox frowned. “Makes sense,” she said quietly.

    “Hey, did you say ‘Ghetsis’?”

    The shock of a third person joining the conversation startled Dalton to his feet. He whirled around. The speaker was a young boy, maybe in his preteen years. His outfit was rather normal for a kid his age. His sleeveless shirt and cap were a matching, loud orange. Black shorts covered his legs down to his knobbly knees, one of which appeared to bear a small bandage.

    Dalton frowned. “You shouldn’t butt into people’s conversations, kid.”

    “If you don’t want people to hear, you shouldn’t talk so loud,” said the boy almost snootily. “I was just walking by and heard you talking. I thought I heard you say ‘Ghetsis’, and I’ve seen a guy named ‘Ghetsis’. But since I’m ‘butting in’, I guess I’ll just leave.”

    He gave a short shrug and started to walk away, heading toward the path Dalton and Fox had taken to reach the top of the small hill.

    Dalton groaned to himself, wondering if he was going to regret his next action.

    “Hey, kid – wait a sec!”

    The boy stopped and slowly turned around toward Dalton.

    “What’s up?” he asked casually.

    “You said you’ve seen Ghetsis?” Dalton asked.

    The young boy’s face contorted in uncertainty. “I think the guy called himself Ghetsis. He was in Accumula Town just yester…wait a sec – Talia? What are you doing here?”

    Dalton did a full three-sixty, wondering what the kid meant. Fox, who had been sitting and observing the conversation, had stood up and come to Dalton’s side.

    “I could ask you the same question, Jimmy,” she answered.

    “What’s it look like I’m doing?” Jimmy, having seen an acquaintance, seemed to grow brattier by the second. “I’m up here training my Patrat. Or I was, until this brown-haired girl showed up. I tried to challenge her to a battle, and I got my *** kicked.”

    “Wow, Jimmy. You always talk like that outta your mom’s earshot?” the ginger-haired girl asked flatly.

    “Mind your business,” Jimmy snapped, fumbling with his cap and taking it off, exposing his wild, dark hat hair for a second before the cap went back on his head. “What about you? I thought your mom wouldn’t let you leave town, and now you’re out here – with your boyfriend? She’s gonna freak.”

    “First off, Dalton’s not my boyfriend,” she shot back, her ears turning pink. “Second, I don’t really care anymore. I can go wherever I want.”

    “Okay, wait, back up…” Dalton said calmly. He had ended up standing roughly between them, watching this exchange, which had left him with far more questions than answers. He turned to the boy. “Okay, so your name is Jimmy and you say you saw a guy named Ghetsis.”

    “Yep,” Jimmy said. Dalton rounded on ‘Fox’.

    “And your name isn’t really Fox, it’s Talia,” he stated. The ginger-haired girl, with an almost remorseful sigh, gave a nod. “Okay… how do you two even know each other?”

    “We’re from the same hometown, idiot,” Jimmy scoffed. “She used to go to school with my sister.”

    “Like I’m supposed to know everyone’s family histories,” Dalton snarked, finally losing his patience. “I’m not even from here.”

    Jimmy raised his eyebrows in a “that’s not my problem” facial expression.

    “Where are you from, then?” Jimmy asked. “And how do you know Talia if you’re not from Accumula?”

    “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you – okay, now back to Ghetsis,” Dalton said, all in one breath. Talia gave him a bewildered look for a moment. “What do you know about Ghetsis?”

    “I don’t feel like telling you,” Jimmy said, folding his arms.

    Dalton frowned. “Fine, then. Be that way.”

    A scampering sound of fast footfalls followed, and the rodent-like Nidoran was at her trainer’s ankle.

    “What’s that?” Jimmy asked.

    “It’s a Pokémon,” Dalton said flatly. He tried very hard not to be annoyed – after all, he’d been asking the same question the day before – but this little boy’s snotty rudeness was making it very difficult. Jimmy’s eyebrows furrowed and met in the center of his forehead.

    “Are you challenging me to a battle?” he shouted.

    “That’s exactly what I’m doing,” Dalton blurted out before thinking. Talia could tell this was spur of the moment, too.

    “What?” she uttered quickly, turning her head to look at Dalton, whose desperate brain was firing off ideas faster than he could filter them with any sort of reason.

    “And here’s the deal,” Dalton added breathlessly, as Jimmy backpedaled a couple of steps and removed a Pokéball from his belt. “If I win, you tell me everything you know about Ghetsis.”

    “And if I win?” Jimmy said, sounding maddeningly sure of himself. Dalton hesitated for a moment. He hadn’t thought of that. “How about… my info against your cash?”

    “What? Hell, no. Dalton’s not gonna go for that!” Talia exclaimed indignantly. After a few seconds of Dalton being silent, her face fell. “…Are you?”

    “How much do we have?” he finally asked deliberately.

    “About five hundred,” Talia asked, looking a bit panicked. “But that’s beside the p—”

    “Okay. Five hundred silvernotes to you if you win,” Dalton asked. Both Talia and Jimmy froze.

    “What the hell is a silvernote?” he asked slowly. “If you mean Pokémon dollar…”

    “What’s a –” Dalton stopped himself. He should have known. Pokémon dollars must have been the currency in this time of Unova. “Yeah. Five hundred Pokémon dollars.”

    “Dalton, are you nuts? That’s all the money we have left!” cried Talia. “Not to mention you’ve nev—”

    “Dude, that’s, like, more than a month’s allowance!” Jimmy’s eyes brightened with greed, as if Christmas had come early. “You’ve got yourself a deal!”

    “Thought you’d see things my way,” Dalton replied. Nina bounded up in front of him, apparently aware that a battle was about to start. Her red eyes were gleaming with unmistakable excitement. She’d been on edge the entire time they’d been walking. They’d happened upon a wild Pokémon once or twice, but Talia had always (much to Nina’s chagrin) advised them to run away, or handled it herself with Sionna. However, Dalton had been watching very intently and in doing so had picked up a few of the theories of Pokémon battling. As regret at his own rashness began to set in, he hoped that it would be enough. Otherwise, not only would he not get the information he wanted… but he and Talia would be broke.

    “C’mon out, Patrat!” Jimmy yelled, throwing his Pokéball in the air with all the strength his skinny arms could muster, which wasn’t much. Dalton watched it travel in a somewhat weak arc before bouncing against the hard dirt and exploding. The white light it spilled onto the ground formed into a creature almost more rodent-like than Nina. Two huge teeth protruded from its mouth as well. This creature, though, was brown, with striped eyes that looked almost hypnotic if one stared into them too long. Fortunately for Dalton, this was the same species of Pokémon he’d seen Talia and Sionna battle less than an hour before.

    At least I’m not going in completely blind, he thought to himself.

    “Pat…rat!” the opposing creature squeaked menacingly at Nina, who looked thoroughly unimpressed.

    “Patrat, use Tackle!” cried Jimmy. The brown rodent creature, who had been standing bipedally, went to all fours as it galloped toward Nina’s position, head lowered in a single-minded charge toward its target.

    Dalton had figured out, among other things, that certain words activated a Pokémon’s battle capabilities – almost like keys to a lock. He tried to remember some of the ones Talia had used for Sionna…

    “Amber…ember? Nina! Ember!!” he shouted.

    Nina just looked at him quizzically.

    “Ohhh, my g–” muttered Talia, burying her forehead into her palm for a moment. “Dalton, Nina doesn’t know Ember!”

    What little emotion was on Dalton’s face quickly melted off it. He swore flatly to himself. “Nina, move! Dodge! Get outta there!!”

    He grimaced for a second, hoping against all hope that Nina had at least understood the urgency in his voice, if not the words. Patrat left its feet and launched itself through the air at the Nidoran, who seemed to take forever to move from Dalton’s point of view. The muscles in her short, stubby legs uncoiled themselves in an instant as she leapt off to the side, barely avoiding Patrat. A flicker in the latter’s eyes registered the lack of impact, just a moment before the Patrat went for a painful-looking, shoulder-first crash landing into the dirt. It rolled over onto its belly and then staggered to its feet, staring at Nina mutinously.

    “Tackle it—!” Dalton yelled, not sounding as certain. Nina shook her head, moments before Patrat came flying in for a second time. This time, the brown beast hit its mark, throwing its full body weight into Nina.

    “Niiii!” the Nidoran screeched as the power of the attack drove her backward.

    “NINA!” Dalton yelled in a panic. He looked down, and heard another nasty sound of impact – no doubt Patrat had hit her again. His eyes found a couple of welts on his lower leg. He remembered vaguely what had happened the night before…

    “Patrat!” Jimmy exclaimed, his childish confidence growing with each passing second. “Use—”

    “Nina, retreat! Come back!!” Dalton interrupted him. He didn’t know exactly what Patrat had tried to do next, only that it didn’t work; the chipmunk-like Pokémon had leapt and tried to pin Nina down under itself. Nina, though, had escaped, scampering over to a spot a couple of feet in front of Dalton before turning on a dime to face their opponents.

    “Stop running away!” Jimmy snapped. “Patrat, Tackle!!”

    “Nina, use your claws!” Dalton shouted. “Scratch it with your claws!”

    Dalton figured he must have said something right, because Nina immediately darted forward. Patrat charged ahead, but missed horribly as Nina leapt straight up, raking her sharp claws across its back as it passed underneath her. Patrat let out a grating screech of pain as it landed on its face right in front of Dalton. Nina, meanwhile, landed gracefully on her feet and whirled around to face it.

    “Nii-nii!” she sang cutely, obviously taunting Patrat. The brown Pokémon snarled horribly as it sprang to its feet and charged without orders.

    “No, Patrat, no!” Jimmy yelled warningly – but his beastly companion, blinded by rage and frustration, was also deaf to his cries. Dalton froze. Patrat was advancing too fast. Nina wouldn’t have time to dodge again…

    She seemed to crumple as Patrat reached her, teetering onto her back.

    Then a violent sound of impact rang through the forest, frightening the few local bird Pokémon from their treetop nests. Patrat let out a clipped squeak as it went flying through the air. It slammed into the ground in front of Jimmy, bouncing as limply as a ragdoll, before hitting the dirt again and going completely motionless.

    Nina rolled to her feet again, facing Patrat to observe her handiwork.

    The other rodent-like creature was staggering to its feet. From this distance, Dalton could barely make out a marking on its belly that had not been there before. It looked vaguely like a pair of footprints…

    Patrat slumped forward, sinking to the ground in a dead faint.

    A convenient breeze punctuated the silence that followed. Talia’s red hair blew out to the side of her like a shroud as she looked on in shock.

    Patrat!” Jimmy cried loudly, sinking to his knees in front of the creature. He rolled the chipmunk-like monster onto its back, looked down at it for a moment, and then swore – loudly and with ear-tingling intensity. He jumped up to his feet, holding his knocked-out companion. “This isn’t fair! Everyone’s got all these rare Pokémon I’ve never seen before! How am I supposed to win a battle like this?”

    Dalton didn’t have time to feel any sympathy for Jimmy. There was business to be handled.

    “What about our deal?” he asked.

    Jimmy looked down tearfully at his Patrat and appeared to have half a mind to go back on his word. Nevertheless, he looked up, tried to keep his upper lip as stiff as possible, and began.

    “Yeah, I saw a guy named Ghetsis in Accumula yesterday,” he said. “He was a whole new kinda weird, too. He had this weird eyepatch… and a robe or something. Looked like some sorta supervillain out of a video game.”

    “Hmm. Yeah, how about that?” Dalton muttered. The Harmonian royal family didn’t appear in person often (and never in an outlying region like Johto) but when they did, their outfits were always extremely gaudy and elaborate.

    “He had a bunch of people with him. All dressed up as… I dunno what they were supposed to be. Knights or something?” Jimmy murmured. “They were carrying a flag that had a huge ‘P’ on it. Or something that looked like a ‘P’, anyways…”

    “That’s Harmonia’s flag…” Dalton whispered to himself. Talia looked at him.

    “So this Ghetsis guy introduced himself and started talking,” Jimmy answered. “It was the craziest thing I’d ever heard. He said that Pokémon were suffering because of us humans… and that we should all release our Pokémon back into the wild.”

    “You didn’t, right?” asked Talia.

    “Of course not!” Jimmy responded rather defensively. “Patrat and me are friends.”

    “You mean, ‘Patrat and I’, right?” Dalton, unable to help himself, asked.

    “You know what I meant!” snapped Jimmy. “Why should we just do what some random, creepy old geezer says, anyway? What makes him think he can just come into our town giving orders? I wish I’d chucked that rock at his head. That woulda shut him up…”

    Dalton didn’t know whether to admire the boy’s cheek or be slightly alarmed at his penchant for violence.

    “Do you know where he went after that?” he asked the younger boy.

    “No idea,” Jimmy replied. “But there’s only two places they could’ve gone, right? Either this way or back toward Nuvema Town.”

    There was a long, encroaching silence. Apparently, Jimmy had run out of things to say. He held out Patrat’s Pokéball toward the fallen creature, which was absorbed into a stream of red light and then back into the ball. He looked up at Dalton and Talia, his expression a bit grouchy.

    “Can I go now?” he asked with reluctant deference.

    “Yeah, sure,” Talia answered. “But listen… if you run across my mom, you never saw me. Got it?”

    Jimmy grimaced. Dalton couldn’t tell if Jimmy was acknowledging or ignoring her. The young boy trudged to the edge of the ridge that Dalton and Talia had been using as a picnic area, peered over it for a moment, then leapt. Dalton’s jaw dropped. He let out a clipped “Hey—”

    “He’s fine,” Talia murmured, almost dismissively. “You can jump down those… you just can’t come back up.”

    Dalton, who had nothing to add to this, simply uttered, “…Oh.”

    They stood there in silence for several somewhat awkward moments. Then Dalton whirled around, frowning. Talia’s face tensed, almost as if she knew what he was about to say before he’d started talking.

    “‘Fox’, huh?” he uttered.

    Apparently, she already had a rebuttal cocked and loaded as well. “Well… if you saw me in the forest naked and babbling nonsense, would you give me your real – never mind. Don’t answer that question.”

    For she had seen a flaw in her analogy about midway through the sentence. Dalton felt a slight temptation to smirk, but couldn’t go through with it. A very Evan-like joke had crossed his mind in that moment, but it only served to remind him of what he’d left behind. Instead, he swallowed hard. “Talia is your real name, right?”

    “Talia Renard,” she answered. Then, dispassionately, she added, “But, legally, it’s Talia Ellsburen. My mom had it changed. Ellsburen’s my mom’s maiden name, and after my dad disappeared…”

    “Oh, wow. At least she wasn’t bitter at all,” Dalton snarked.

    “I’m still Talia Renard as far as I’m concerned,” she answered. “And, once I turn seventeen in a few weeks, I’ll be able to change it back. I don’t know what the hell she thought the point of that was…”

    “So seventeen’s the age of majority here?” Dalton asked. Talia gave him a quizzical look.

    “Majority?”

    “I mean – when you legally become an adult,” Dalton explained, a bit surprised that Talia didn’t understand.

    “Oh. That majority. Yeah,” she answered.

    “It’s sixteen where I come from,” he murmured. “Then again, you also have to start school the fall after you turn four, so…”

    “Wish it was sixteen around here,” Talia sighed. “I’d have been gone almost a year ago.”

    “You don’t get along with your mom much?” asked Dalton casually. At this, Talia drew in a long breath and let it out just as slowly. She shook her head repeatedly, as if trying to ward something from her mind.

    “…You wouldn’t get it.”

    Dalton frowned. “You’d be surprised.”

    There was a long silence after Dalton made this statement – during which Dalton decided that he would move the conversation away from their family troubles. Talia, though, beat him to it:

    “You know… that was really stupid,” she said, drawing each word out and savoring the sentence as if she’d been waiting several minutes to say it.

    “Probably,” admitted Dalton flatly. “But I won, didn’t I?”

    “Yeah…” conceded Talia with a sigh. “Better lucky than good, I guess.”

    “I’m ‘lucky’?” The young man’s eyebrows climbed up toward the top of his forehead as he gave a short scoff. “Could’ve fooled me.”

    Dalton observed their picnicking spot… if it could truly be called that. It was more like they had just sat down near the edge of the ridge and started munching away at their sandwiches. He and Talia began to clean up what needed to be cleaned. Nina walked over to the bowl she’d been sharing with Sionna to find it empty. Sionna gave Nina a guilty, sheepish grin, her muzzle coated with crumbs.

    “So…” Talia uttered as they began to set off again, both Pokémon now in tow, “are you serious about this? This Pokémon training thing? I mean…”

    “What do you mean?” asked Dalton, a bit more irritably than he’d intended. His feet felt like Hell itself atop sandals that were never made for long treks between cities.

    “I just… it’s weird,” Talia remarked. She was walking astride Dalton and looking at him out of the corner of her eyes. “Usually, when someone wants to be a trainer, they dream about it for years and years…”

    “Yeah, well… usually, people don’t just drop in from a different century,” deadpanned Dalton. Talia responded to this comment with a loud huff.

    “I wish you’d stop saying that.”

    “What am I supposed to do?” questioned Dalton grumpily, his hands now in the pockets of his too-large cargo shorts. “It’s what happened.”

    “Is that what you’re gonna tell everyone who asks?” she replied, sounding a bit exasperated now. “…They’re gonna look at you like you’re some sort of freak.”

    “That’s nothing new. A lot of people have done that to me,” answered Dalton. “Hell… you’re doing it right now.”

    “I… that’s beside the point,” Talia breathed, sounding flustered. “Why did you just decide so suddenly that you wanted to be a Pokémon trainer?”

    It was a good question – one that caused Dalton to pause. He stopped walking and gazed into the bluish horizon far ahead on the path, set like a tunnel between walls of trees and foliage. He contemplated for a moment, and then he at last answered:

    “I want to know if they were telling the truth.”

    ‘They’, meaning…” Talia murmured uncertainly.

    “The Party – or… Ghetsis. I’m not even sure if it’s the same Ghetsis, but they sure have the same message,” explained Dalton. “‘Liberation.’ ‘Pokémon and humans are better off separated from each other.’”

    “They’re not!” cried Talia. She had her fists clenched and looked to be at the very apex of frustration. “Pokémon and humans are meant to live together in harmony!”

    “Who told you that?” asked Dalton simply.

    Talia dropped her head. “My… my dad.”

    “How do you know he was right?” asked Dalton. Talia’s head snapped up.

    “Of course he was right,” was her impatient reply. “How do you know he wasn’t?”

    “That’s what I want to find out,” Dalton answered seriously.

    “And what will you do when—if…” Talia asked. “…if you realize that everything you’ve been told was wrong?”

    This was an easy one. It had been one of the several thoughts consuming Dalton’s mind since he had realized what had happened to him.

    “I’d find a way to put a stop to it.”

    END

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  23. #23
    Join Date
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    Default

    Dalton figured he must have said something right, because Nina immediately darted forward. Patrat charged ahead, but missed horribly as Nina leapt straight up, raking her sharp claws across its back as it passed underneath her. Patrat let out a grating screech of pain as it landed on its face right in front of Dalton. Nina, meanwhile, landed gracefully on her feet and whirled around to face it.

    “Nii-nii!” she sang cutely, obviously taunting Patrat. The brown Pokémon snarled horribly as it sprang to its feet and charged without orders.
    Nina, Nina, Nina... :P (Cookies if you get it...)

    “Patrat!” Jimmy cried loudly, sinking to his knees in front of the creature. He rolled the chipmunk-like monster onto its back, looked down at it for a moment, and then swore – loudly and with ear-tingling intensity. He jumped up to his feet, holding his knocked-out companion. “This isn’t fair! Everyone’s got all these rare Pokémon I’ve never seen before! How am I supposed to win a battle like this?”
    LOL, You mad, son? XD

    So the truth is out, and Talia/Fox just made the jollies for the week:

    Apparently, she already had a rebuttal cocked and loaded as well. “Well… if you saw me in the forest naked and babbling nonsense, would you give me your real – never mind. Don’t answer that question.”

    For she had seen a flaw in her analogy about midway through the sentence. Dalton felt a slight temptation to smirk, but couldn’t go through with it. A very Evan-like joke had crossed his mind in that moment, but it only served to remind him of what he’d left behind. Instead, he swallowed hard. “Talia is your real name, right?”
    Boys will be boys...

    So now, Dalton's gotten a lead on Ghetsis and is on his trail. As much as he trounced Jimmy, Talia/Fox is right. He does need to get his act together and soon. Luck can only take him so far...

    Definitely a good place to call a break. Now to see what comes next...

    L@er!
    The Corei Quest's latest chapter: Chapter Forty Seven: Tricks of the Trade (24 April 2014)
    PROJECT C-SQUARE STATUS = 100.00% Complete (11-12-2010, ca. 2:40pm GMT)
    HEART OF SEVEN STONES IS ON INDEFINITE HIATUS (REAPED) UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
    Butt-ugly Banner by Me
    (Still waiting on the excellent Saffire Persian for another awesome TCQ banner!)

  24. #24

    Default

    Dang, missed a review. I didn't think you'd have a new chapter up this soon!

    The promise of making the world of Pokémon look fresh and magical is really being fulfilled, and there's several examples I'd bring up of it being used exceptionally. One would be the ledges and jumping off of them, but not being able to climb back up - I thought that was brilliant. Introducing a seemingly inane mechanic from the games and having it make sense brings a smile to my face. And you're doing it in a trainer fic, no less. The other thing was the pragmatic battling - Dalton has to notice things like Nina's claws and infer she can scratch, instead of using Scratch. Those were the best examples I can remember right now.

    Wow, Dalton's kind of a hothead. I was almost thinking that you'd go and make him lose the battle and the money, so he has to earn it back. More info on Fox! Or, well, Talia. The fact that she adopted a cool nickname is a nice touch, and shows how she's able to make use of the fact that she's basically a runaway now.

    Uh, I think that was about it for now. In case you don't show up before 2013 comes knocking, Happy New Year! I look forward to reading more of this story, and hopefully even Maverick Heart. Oh, just one more thing.

    “Of course not!” Jimmy responded rather defensively. “Patrat and me are friends.”

    “You mean, ‘Patrat and I’, right?” Dalton, unable to help himself, asked.
    Characterization and writing 101. Kids, take notes.

  25. #25
    Join Date
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    Default I'm baaaaaack....

    Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. Well... if there were any reports to begin with. You're probably laughing, but I've seen things...

    Air Dragon:

    Nina, Nina, Nina... :P (Cookies if you get it...)
    Nope. Didn't get it. No cookies for me.


    LOL, You mad, son? XD
    Yep. Yep, I think he mad, son.

    In all honesty, though, the life of a NPC Pokemon Trainer in the games has gotta suck.


    Boys will be boys...

    So now, Dalton's gotten a lead on Ghetsis and is on his trail. As much as he trounced Jimmy, Talia/Fox is right. He does need to get his act together and soon. Luck can only take him so far...

    Definitely a good place to call a break. Now to see what comes next...

    L@er!
    Dalton may be socially awkward and borderline neurotic, but he's still a 17-year-old guy, after all. Just because he doesn't make a habit of telling dirty jokes doesn't mean that they all go over his head. And Dalton didn't so much trounce Jimmy as that Nina's battling instincts kicked in - quite literally. He's gonna have to get his act together, and fast.



    zen_master_dude:

    Dang, missed a review. I didn't think you'd have a new chapter up this soon!
    Was this fast? I'm usually good for a chapter every 2-4 weeks. Oh well.


    The promise of making the world of Pokémon look fresh and magical is really being fulfilled, and there's several examples I'd bring up of it being used exceptionally. One would be the ledges and jumping off of them, but not being able to climb back up - I thought that was brilliant. Introducing a seemingly inane mechanic from the games and having it make sense brings a smile to my face. And you're doing it in a trainer fic, no less. The other thing was the pragmatic battling - Dalton has to notice things like Nina's claws and infer she can scratch, instead of using Scratch. Those were the best examples I can remember right now.
    I'm glad you're enjoying the setting. Even almost 9 years into fic writing, it's something I'm still trying to fine-tune. When to give readers the full description monty and when to back off the throttle a little bit and allow their own imaginations to work. If you've read any of my earlier work, you'll know that I fell toward the former end of the scale, and it made my chapters LOOOOOOOOOONG. Say, anywhere from 25 to 70+ pages. Yes, 70+ pages. I actually wrote a chapter that was 70+ pages. Took up a full 4 posts on this forum. Granted, it was a series finale featuring a full 6-on-6 battle, but that's just ridiculous on every level.

    And Dalton's battling by instinct/inference? Well, the limits are pretty obvious to that, aren't they? (Read: Most of what a Pokemon can do isn't indicated in their physical attributes.) He'll have to shape up and battle the orthodox way sooner or later. But keep in mind the fact that he wasn't originally 'trained' in the "orthodox" way... it may enable him to think outside the box later. :-)


    Wow, Dalton's kind of a hothead. I was almost thinking that you'd go and make him lose the battle and the money, so he has to earn it back. More info on Fox! Or, well, Talia. The fact that she adopted a cool nickname is a nice touch, and shows how she's able to make use of the fact that she's basically a runaway now.

    Uh, I think that was about it for now. In case you don't show up before 2013 comes knocking, Happy New Year! I look forward to reading more of this story, and hopefully even Maverick Heart.
    Talia's actually got a decision to make. Her father's particularly well known, so his name - a name that he passed on to her - may carry weight in some circles. For her, I think it'll depend on the situation. It's also, as Talia alluded to, a question of trust.

    And as for Dalton losing and earning the money back... c'mon, I had to throw him a bone at some point, right? Seeing as the last several chapters have largely consisted of the cosmos taking an enormous steaming crap all over his existence. I can be cruel, but I'm not that cruel. Heh.


    - EM1
    Last edited by EonMaster One; 12th January 2013 at 4:22 AM.

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




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