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After Plasma [one-shot]

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Dramatic Melody, Feb 11, 2019.

  1. [This has some mild swearing so I'm rating this PG.]​

    After Plasma


    “C’mon! Let’s have fun stealing Pokémon together, like we did before!”

    He looked tired, even moreso than two years ago. I couldn’t find that same passion in his eyes anymore—it was replaced by regret and helplessness.

    But I knew he still had it in him, that fire. He wouldn’t be talking to me if he didn’t.

    “I can’t,” he said, his tone as pathetic as I expected. “I’ve learned the hard way that stealing from others is wrong...”

    “Don’t be silly,” I replied. “Wasn’t it right here where you helped Zinzolin and the rest of us steal from Driftveil tourists? That was amazing, right? Seeing all those Pokémon from faraway regions, and calling them our own… We would’ve gotten away with it if those kids didn’t come in and disrupt our plans!”

    I swore I saw a glint in his eyes. I knew he remembered those memories as fondly as I did. Fred and I had set up operations inside the Cold Storage with the rest of our unit, much to Zinzolin’s dismay, and we would stalk unaware tourists at night and get their Poké Balls when they least expect it. He was one of the best—he’d get those Poké Balls so stealthily that those knuckleheads wouldn’t know what hit ‘em until it was too late.

    “But we didn’t get away with it,” he said, his head hung low and his hands in his pockets. “And we ultimately lost. The liberation of Pokémon… it was all just Ghetsis’s way of taking over Unova. He lied to us, just like how he lied to all the trainers he hurt...”

    “Hah! Now you sound just like all those losers we stole from,” I snapped back. “Pathetic! You think you can act all goody-two-shoes now, after all you’ve done?”

    I knew that stung him. He was still donning our old uniform, a ridiculous gray-and-white overall that made us look like knights. We ditched that when we decided to reform, and all that old uniform meant was failure.

    “And you think raising all those stolen Pokémon is gonna fix anything?” I continued. “Hah! Nothing’s gonna change what you’ve done, so you might as well just finish what you started and help us take over the world!”

    I’d been tasked to scout Driftveil City and looked for openings to bring it down, and that included scouting the base of my old teammates where they started caring for some of the Pokémon we stole, as if that’s gonna change anything. So I’ve been trying to knock some sense into their heads.

    This guy, Fred, we always spent guard shifts together, so we were close—were. Close enough to join me for a chat next to Driftveil Bridge, but not close enough to listen to what I have to say. Not anymore.

    “It’s true, nothing can change what happened,” he said, his eyes now meeting mine. “But that doesn’t give us any excuse to bring terror to Unova. We should be striving to make it a better place in our own little ways. That’s what Lord N would want…”

    I hate that name. I don’t know what N stood for, but after what happened, all it stood for me was negativity, nuisance, nutjob.

    “Ugh, N? After all this time you still care about what that crazy dude thinks?” I taunted. “N’s nothing but a traitor! Who in the right mind would think a person can talk to Pokémon?”

    “You believed him, too,” he replied. “We all did. We were all under their mercy. But for you, nothing’s changed, since you’re still under Ghetsis’s control—”

    “Don’t you dare say anything bad about Lord Ghetsis!” I shouted. “He’ll lead us all to victory! Team Plasma will take over Unova, and if you don’t want to join us, then consider yourself an enemy!”

    “You already treat me like an enemy,” he said suddenly. “As if all those years we spent together meant nothing.”

    That wasn’t true. Of course that meant something. I wouldn’t be trying to convince him if all that meant nothing. Who does he think he is?

    “If you’re gonna be like that, why don’t we just settle it in a battle?” I challenged as I took out Scraggy’s Poké Ball. “Oh, that’s right, you don’t wanna battle with those orphaned Pokémon! You’re just as weak as you were before—”

    “HEY!”

    Suddenly, a teenage kid came running toward us and pushed me back. I don’t remember much about him, except that his hair looked like a Qwilfish. And he was really, really angry.

    “Start talking, you Team Plasma trash!” he shouted at me.

    Not wanting to cause any trouble, I bolted out of the scene. Doesn’t matter if I can’t change Fred’s mind—there’s more where he came from.


    ---


    “C’mon! Let’s have fun stealing Pokémon together, like we did before!”

    It sure beats being an incense merchant, I almost added. But I didn’t want Pete to say no immediately. I did want to get at least one yes from this.

    “Will you quit it?” he said impatiently. “You’re driving out my potential customers.”

    “I haven’t seen you sell anything since I got here!” I clapped back. Dozens of customers lined up for other merchants selling food, milk, medicine, and other battle items around the market, but Pete’s stall didn’t have anyone go beyond stopping, looking at his bottles, and leaving.

    “Why do you think that is?” he said as he replaced the samples in his hand with others.

    “I dunno, maybe because you’re selling fucking incense?”

    He didn’t reply to that. Instead, he once again shouted a phrase I’ve heard over a dozen times since I got here: “Incense! Get your fresh incense here!”

    He had a spot at the center of Driftveil Market, probably one of the best locations in the area. His stall had various incenses—of all things, incenses!—displayed, all in brightly colored containers and arranged in neat rows. Even weirder was how he was getting away with wearing the old uniform while doing it all.

    How he managed to end up in that situation, I’ll never know. But I sure knew it wasn’t what he wanted to do.

    “So you’re telling me that selling those smoky bottles is more fun than going around the world and stealing Pokémon?” I teased.

    “Hey, ma’am!” he called out, his hands raising a few bottles of incense for nobody to see. “Don’t you want some fresh incense for your home?”

    “You’re telling me that kissing up to total strangers is worth your time, but doing what you love to do isn’t?”

    “Sir! Sir! A tourist, huh? Why not bring some incense back home?”

    “You’re telling me that spending your day being fucked over by all these people is better than you fucking them over—”

    “What the fuck do you want?” he finally said, glaring at me.

    “There he is,” I said, laughing. “I knew you couldn’t be that soft.”

    “I’ll beat you up right now if you don’t stop,” he said in a threatening tone, which only excited me more.

    “Wouldn’t you rather beat up all these customers ignoring you?” I taunted. “And take over the world with us?”

    “Nah, I’d rather beat you up,” he replied. “And I’d rather—Oh, hi! You’re a trainer, right? These incenses can help you in your journey!”

    “How?” the trainer who somehow crept beside me asked. She was probably 10, 11 years old. She only had one Poké Ball clipped to her belt, a starter I could’ve easily stolen. He could’ve stolen it too, really, if he wasn’t so hell-bent on selling goddamn incenses.

    “Well, a lot of them make your Pokémon’s moves more powerful,” he said. “And others disrupt your opponent’s Pokémon!”

    “Oh, wow, that sounds great!” the trainer said. “I’ll take one of—“

    “Patricia! What are you doing?” a woman, probably in her late 30s, suddenly shouted behind me.

    “Mom, I was just buying something incense—“

    “Don’t ever talk to men in those outfits!” the mother continued as she dragged the child away from us. “Those men are thieves! They’ll steal your Pokémon away from you!”

    “But Mom, the incense—“

    “No buts” was the last thing I heard as they blended back into the crowd.

    His face was burning. It was the same expression he had when anyone beat him in battle. But this one was different. It was less angry and more… sad?

    “Again, what the fuck do you want?” he said without looking at me as he returned the unsold incense into the pile.

    “My old teammate back.”

    I watched him contemplate those words. Whether he liked it or not, Pete and I were part of the same unit with Fred. And for a second, I saw him, my old teammate. One of the most ruthless and determined people I’ve ever met. One of the grunts who showed potential in becoming an admin. One of my best friends.

    But then he said, “Sorry, that’s not available at the moment. Would you like anything else?”


    ---


    “C’mon! Let’s have fun stealing Pokémon together, like we did before!”

    “Takes huge balls to come here and do what you’re doing,” she said.

    “Just the way you liked ‘em.”

    I saw her roll her eyes. Trish and I, we go way back, even before Plasma. We were both surprised when we saw each other in one of the rallies wearing the same outfit and having the same orange hair. But we were more surprised when we ended up in opposing sides two years later.

    She was now one of those delusional old members who put up a Pokémon orphanage in Driftveil and cared for some of the Pokémon we stole. Because that was definitely going to fix everything.

    “Where’s your black uniform?” she asked. “You know, the one you keep saying is cooler than this one?”

    “Everything’s cooler than that stupid outfit,” I snapped back. “I changed so that I could see you here and not get kicked out after five seconds. Had to wear a cap to hide my hair, too.”

    “Poor you,” she said as she started petting a Herdier that was playing with her shoe. A few townspeople, mostly elderly ladies, were walking around the orphanage and looking at the stolen Pokémon, while other old Plasma grunts were playing with them.

    “Do you remember how we stole this Herdier?” she suddenly asked me.

    “Of course not,” I replied, almost dumbfounded by the question. How could she expect me to keep a tally of the hundreds of Pokémon we stole?

    “I do,” she said while rubbing its paws, prompting a low growl from the Pokémon. “It was right here in Driftveil, during one of our rallies. Fred was tasked to swipe any Poké Ball he could from the attendees, and this Herdier was one of the three he was able to steal, back when it was still a Lillipup.”

    “Yeah, Fred’s a natural,” I said. “But when I talked to him this morning, it was like he was a whole other person—”

    “I went out that night, to get some food,” she continued, as if she didn’t hear anything I just said. “And I saw this boy who was crying in the middle of the street, shouting ‘Percy! Percy!’ over and over again. His parents were talking to some officers, and I overheard them saying how their son had lost his Lillipup earlier that day.”

    I knew where this was going. She always had a way with words. If our roles were reversed, she would convince me to join Neo Plasma so easily.

    “It didn’t take me long to put two and two together,” she said, her petting becoming less frequent. “At first, I didn’t think anything of it. That wasn’t my problem to solve, right? And I was even deluded enough to think that we were doing that kid a favor by liberating his Pokémon early. But we weren’t.”

    “So what?” I said, stealing her gaze from the Pokémon. “That kid had it coming! He didn’t agree to our cause back then, and he won’t agree to our cause now—”

    “Your cause,” she interrupted, almost as if she was offended. “Your cause now.”

    “Whatever,” I said. “Life’s all about the strong winning and the weak losing.”

    “And you’re strong because…” she began.

    “Because I’m on the winning team!” I completed. “And you should, too! We could use someone as witty as you.”

    Trish gave the Herdier one last pat before telling it to wander around the safehouse. She then turned to me with the coldest eyes I’ve ever seen.

    “Listen to me,” she said, her voice reminding me of one of the higher-up grunts. “No one is ever going to make me hurt people like that little boy again. Not you, not the sages, and especially not Ghetsis.”

    “And what exactly do you want to achieve with this orphanage of yours?” I snapped back. “You think caring for a dozen stolen Pokémon would fix anything?”

    “You think stealing Pokémon without the charade would fix anything?” she said, her voice starting to become louder. “You think causing chaos and mass panic would fix anything? You think listening to a lying, manipulative, maniacal boss would fix any fucking thing?”

    “Don’t you dare talk about Lord Ghetsis that way!”

    “Or what? You’re gonna hurt me?” she said, her face becoming red and her eyes becoming watery. “Well you already did that by siding with the fucking Neos!”

    “Hey, hey, Trish,” I heard someone from behind her ask, another one of the old members. “You okay? Is this guy hurting you?”

    “I’m fine,” she replied, wiping her cheeks with her hand. “I can take care of this.”

    She then turned to me and said, “Get out, before I tell them who you are.” And that was that.


    ---


    “C’mon! Let’s have fun stealing Pokémon together, like we did before!”

    “Really? That’s what you started with?” she said, laughing. “No wonder they all said no!”

    “What’s wrong with that?”

    “It’s too optimistic,” she said. “Do you really think they want to be part of something they already left?”

    No, I said to myself, afraid to admit it. I had joined my new groupmate on her smoking break to tell her about the day, how three former grunts from my old unit all said no to my offer. I came back to my base with a bunch of I-told-you-so’s from her.

    “It was worth a shot,” I said as she put out her first stick with her foot and lit another. “At least I got to see my old buddies again.”

    “You’re telling me you’re happy with spending a day getting rejected thrice and feeling bitter about all those burned bridges?”

    “What’s your problem?” I said. “They were your old teammates too, you know.”

    “And they’ll keep being my old teammates,” she said as she threw her second stick into the sea. All I saw in front of me were the reflection of the half-moon and the shadow of the Plasma Frigate. “That’s something I’ve accepted. Maybe you should, too.”

    She lit her third cigarette before continuing. “Look, I had this old teammate, his name’s Al. We were in the same unit, like you and Trish and, uhh, the two others. But after what happened in the League, he changed into a completely different person, just like your old buddies. You know what he’s doing now?”

    “What?”

    “He’s an Accel driver.”

    I couldn’t hold back my laughter. The thought of a Plasma grunt, even old ones, having one of the most goody-two-shoes jobs out there was so stupid. Accel and Escab were Unova’s new ride-hailing services that worked just like taxis but were double the price, so a grunt trying to blend in with all those rich folks was more hilarious than sad.

    “Hah, he even beats Pete!” I said in between laughs. “Imagine one of the toughest guys in your unit becoming an incense merchant?”

    “I don’t know, dude,” she said with a grin. “Selling incense sounds much worse than driving for Accel.”

    That went on for a while, exchanging ridiculous stories of how the teammates we shared units with turned out. One of her old groupmates became a clerk in the Battle Subway, while one of mine became the operator of the ferris wheel in Nimbasa. Another one of her old buddies flew to another region to start a journey—”if she even could,” she said—while one of mine said he’d become a gym trainer, as if he’d even be accepted by a gym leader.

    “But you know what all of them have in common?” she suddenly said after a while. She’d already emptied her box of 12 sticks by then, having settled for ripping the box to shreds and tossing pieces out to the sea.

    “They all left the team?” I said with a shrug.

    “They all gave up,” she said. “The moment things got difficult for Plasma, all those scums couldn’t handle the heat and left. And if they didn’t believe in the cause as strongly as we did, then we’re better off without them.”

    As she threw the last bit of the cigarette box, she turned to me and said, “Look, I know you wanna be with your old buddies again. But they already chose their battles, just like we chose ours. And every battle has a winner and a loser. If they wanna be on the losing side, that’s their fault.”

    She then walked past me, and without looking back she continued, “But I know you. You’re stubborn as fuck. So if you wanna keep chasing those traitors and keep trying to recruit them, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Just don’t let Zinzolin catch you slacking off.”

    As she headed back into the Frigate, I took out a crumpled piece of paper from my pocket and unfolded it. In it were a few dozen names, a few of which had Xs beside them. I then drew an X beside Fred’s, Pete’s, and Trish’s names and decided on who I’ll be talking to tomorrow.

    “Sounds like a plan.”
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
    FlygontheRavager and S. Lee like this.
  2. Chibi Pika

    Chibi Pika Stay positive

    Ooh, as someone who never got to finish Black 2, I'm all for this look at the divide between those who left Plasma behind, and those who got wrapped up in Neo Plasma. We've got this narrator who's so... disdainful toward the grunts who are trying to move on with their life, as if their chosen paths aren't good enough, or can't measure up to what they used to be. But then at the end of the day... the narrator is the one facing rejection here. Their offer is the one that's not good enough, the life path that's been discarded. And they can pretend that it doesn't hurt, pretend that it makes them better than everyone else. But in the end, the others are the ones who've moved on and found a better path.

    I quite liked how every scene had the same opening line! Made for a fun parallel with the fact that our narrator is still stuck in the past, but all of their former comrades give them the same rejection.

    One thing that did jump out at me was that the first scene had quiiiite a lot of "as you know bob" dialogue. I know you have to give the reader context for what happened on Plasma and what their role in it was, and how it affected them, ect, but it still stuck out a bit (for comparison, the following scenes didn't give that feeling at all.) But that's really the only bit of criticism I have.

    Also Accel and Escab are excellent Unova-style Uber brands, I love them.

    ~Chibi~
     
    FlygontheRavager likes this.
  3. bobandbill

    bobandbill Winning Smile Staff Member Super Mod

    Interesting take - going from the side of the bad guys. I like how he consistently felt sure about how he was in the right and on the winning side. Curious as to why he was so dedicated still to Ghetsis, but not too surprised given his swap in the games over so many people, especially B2W2 despite what happened in the end of BW.

    Favourite section was for me the conversation with Trish. You conveyed the emotion well there, and I could really feel her frustration/sadness/anger at the end there.
    Not far from being an outright Scooby-Doo reference there...
    Unsure but maybe a comma could be inserted there in the quote?
    Nitpick - I don't think they had admins in Team Plasma, exactly? There were Sages and whatnot, but no Admins, but I guess it's feasible they did and we just didn't meet any in the games.
    First quotation mark is around the wrong way.

    As usual, nice enjoyable one shot, DM!
     

  4. Thank you! IMO the Team Plasma rift is one of the best conflicts that the games have ever come up with, and there's a lot to expand on from what was touched on in the games. And I love how you describe where the narrator is now because that's what I was going for, so it's awesome that you got that reading! Disdainful is probably one of the best words to describe his situation!

    And heh, I had that line in the first scene since it's an actual line that the narrator uses in the games, and I figured that I'd just carry it over to the other segments since it's a convenient way to start them! Hahaha.

    Ah, thanks for pointing that out! I admit I didn't realize it until you mentioned it, so that's definitely something I'll consider in revising this!

    Heh, I admit I gave myself a pat in the back for thinking of those names. And I'm definitely gonna use them again somehow. Thanks for the review, Chibi Pika!


    Thank you! You bring up an interesting point on conveying his beliefs towards Ghetsis - I feel like I could've explored it more with his dialogue (or maybe even his internal monologue), but it might've detracted a bit from the events of the story. It's something I'll keep in mind though!

    And thanks for the comments on Trish! I knew I needed to write a character from the old faction who had a deeper connection with someone from the new faction, so glad that segment worked well for you!


    It was definitely on my mind while writing that ahahaha.

    Huh, you're right! I think I can reword it just to mean that they're a higher-up grunt rather than an admin, since I imagine that the levels of authority won't be as simple as Ghetsis-Sages-Grunts (with the Shadow Triad probably in the same level as the sages). Thanks for bringing it up.

    Thanks as well for the grammar notes and the review, bobandbill!
     

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