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Barricade (Oneshot)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by canisaries, Mar 11, 2019.

  1. canisaries

    canisaries sometimes i get a deadache, yeah

    A month or so over the deadline, here I am with my first successful story for the Genre Gambles event over at Bulbagarden Forums. Essentially, you're given a randomized combination of as a prompt, and then you write. Simple!

    Here was my prompt:
    Category: Alternate
    Genre: Tragedy
    Protagonist: Pokémon
    Setting: Orre

    Length is about 3k words, and rating is teen for violence, strong language and death. Maybe also themes of mental illness? I don't know if it matches any specific mental illness, but it certainly isn't mental wellness. Either way, if you believe a bump up to mature is deserved, let me know.

    Enjoy!

    ---

    Barricade

    Synopsis: A Shadow Aggron tells his story.

    ---​

    Humans cannot be trusted. Mon cannot be trusted. The only one I can trust is myself.

    I used to trust someone. When my new life began. I was scared of all the wires and metal and lights and humans in white coats. They put me in a cage and I roared and thrashed about. But after the first restless night, someone showed up.

    She wasn't wearing a white coat, but tight black clothes and a red scarf. She said her name was Lena and that she was going to be my trainer. Despite the warnings the white coats gave her, she opened my cage. I didn't attack her, half because I feared consequences, but my other half actually considered that she wasn't going to hurt me. And that other half was right. I spent the next night at her place and, while still restless, actually got an hour or two of sleep.

    She'd asked me if I had a name, and if I did in my old life, I didn't remember. She said I should have a name that fit me. She thought I was sturdy, even for a lairon, and so my name should be something strong. She suggested Barricade. I liked it.

    We had missions. She usually did the sneaking and I waited in a ball in case something went awry and they needed power. Sometimes we threw the whole stealth element out the window and busted right in, flash cannons blaring. Sometimes she went on missions alone and I stayed back at the base.

    We saw different kinds of people and mon. We captured a bunch of the latter. They never liked it, but they didn't understand. Not until they got their new lives, too. Then they knew the truth - that if you trust the world, you're only going to get trampled.

    If only I'd realized it fully myself. So far, I'd allowed the humans around me to do as they pleased. I gave them the benefit of the doubt because Lena asked me to, and I trusted Lena.

    But then, one night, Lena didn't come back to the base.

    One of the other humans told me the cops had busted her team's attempt. Because they didn’t go quietly, the cops started shooting, and a bullet went right through her brain.

    I didn't trust the other humans that much, so at first, I didn't believe the guy. I thought it was just some sick joke. I rammed him into the wall for having such a shit sense of humor. I broke his legs, but he didn't take what he said back. I realized he wasn't kidding.

    The humans panicked because of my reaction and immediately tried to get my ball. But I didn't want to go back in. I'd never be released by Lena again. They'd give me to someone else. Or probably crush me while I was still in there because I was too berserk. So before anyone else got it, I broke my ball. They all freaked out and tried to throw new balls at me, but I got out of them all. I just wasn't going back in anymore. I was a wild mon now, because if Lena couldn't have me, no one could.

    During all that commotion, an energy I’d felt pent up inside me finally burst free. I stood up on my hind legs as my instinct instructed, and an unbearable wave of sorrow submerged me.

    She really, really wanted to see me evolve.

    At that point, I’d had enough of the place. I wanted to get out and never see it again. So I did. With my newfound strength, I tore through the walls themselves and ran into the desert. I was clumsy, unfamiliar with an aggron’s gait, but I kept running. The people chased after me with vehicles and weapons and other mon, but I defeated them all. Somehow, I just could, despite all the earthquakes and focus punches they bombarded me with. I heard them say I was a monster. Beyond anything they’d ever created.

    Eventually, they left me alone. I stayed in the desert. And it’s where I remain to this day.

    I start my daily trek through the sands, veiled by a sandstorm of my own creation. It’s quite effective in hiding me and scaring off humans, but I still have to halt it whenever I plan to approach any grazing areas. I don’t want to kill my food sources, they’re scarce as is.

    I arrive at one of those grazing zones - a small but beautiful oasis with prickly grass, brittlebush and a few hanging trees providing shade. So far, I haven’t spotted any humans. Good. I don’t have to waste any strength getting rid of them.

    After munching on enough greens to fill my belly and slurping a bit of water to go with it, I lie in the shade to cool my shell down. After roughly an hour, I bid the oasis farewell and set out for the next.

    It’s not an exciting life, but excitement is not something I want. I just want to live in peace, knowing no treachery from anyone who’d pretend to be a friend. It’d be nice if I could do so in a place less monotonous as the desert, but any place more accommodating would come with more people and mon.

    I stomp onwards. My tail drags in the sand, leaving a trail which I keep covering with a sort of miniature sandstorm. I study my claws to pass the time. They used to shine like gems, being steel and all, but the sands have worn their glamour out. By the reflection I see in the ponds, I know the same goes for the rest of my armor.

    Speaking of shining… did I just see something there in the distance? On top of that dune?

    It could’ve just been the sunlight reflecting off an especially reflective grain of sand… but I can’t seem to reproduce the glint by moving my head around. Maybe it was hot air bending the light? Even still, I haven’t survived this long by shrugging off suspicious events, so I’d better put up a sandstorm, just in case…

    I focus on the sand around me, preparing to whip them up to a twister, but a sudden gust brings interference. Gusts like these don’t happen here. This must be an attack!

    I look to the gust’s direction and catch a glimpse of a shadowy form above dashing past. A flying type? No flyer preys on aggron, none is that stupid. Does it have some kind of --

    What’s touching my legs?

    I pull my feet free, meeting moderate resistance, and stomp a few steps onward. Only then do I sacrifice a second or two to see what’s attempted to ensnare me. They felt slightly plantlike, but now… looking at those white, rubbery stalks and the tiny caps at their ends… aren’t those mushrooms? Is there a flying type with those powers?

    My eyes widen. Fungi carry spores. This distance might not be enough.

    I speed up to a run, as well as anyone with my frame can, but I sense another gust arising. It's coming from behind, where the mushrooms were. It carries little yellow specks I'm not naive enough to mistake for grains of sand.

    I hold my breath and keep my eyes tightly shut as the spores shoot past. A quick little sandstorm of mine enhances the wind, carrying the spores even further away.

    I can't outrun this thing, it seems - I need to defeat it. I turn around and focus on the fluttering shadow afar. By its deep blue, white and crimson color, I identify it as a swellow. A flying type, as I suspected. One rock type strike would likely knock it down for good, but how could I hit it?

    I've got it. As proven before, grains of sand are way too light and can be easily blown away by a wind attack. But if I made a storm of something far heavier, far deadlier…

    Tapping into the earthly energy beneath me, I search for something solid. My search brings me deeper and deeper under the sand, until I hit what I need. I grab it with invisible arms and tug as hard as I can.

    With a great rumble, the surface of the sand bulges and a boulder of sandstone rises to the top. That will do. Just need to… strike it!

    My claws drive into the stone, shattering it into dozens of pieces. The swellow in the distance turns tail and flies a few meters further away. It must know what I'm planning.

    I seize control of the pieces, lifting them with an orange glow. As they form a sparse hemisphere around me, I drag my right hand forwards and left arm backwards, sending the barrier into a spinning motion. Being so heavy, they stay in motion rather well, seeming to need new pushes only now and then. Perfect - all I have to do now is catch that bird in this formation.

    I shove the stones outward, expanding my range. They need more speed again, but I have strength to spare. They’re approaching the swellow, who is now trying to fly away. Go ahead! If you leave, that’s still a victory.

    But wait. Swellow don’t have fungus-related powers. Someone else must be here, someone with those mushrooms and their spores. This barrier isn’t easy to get through for a mon, but for their powers…

    Speak of the sneasel - more white stalks erupt from the sand below. They attempt to coil around me feet like before, though I think their caps look a bit different this time… but who cares, the stalks rae as flimsy as before and I rip myself free with little --

    Gahh!

    Spores? Yes, spores, and they’re in my eyes and even in my mouth, gross, where did they… oh, the damn thing exploded! That’s why it looked different!

    I blink and spit furiously, but it seems that part of their toxins have already entered my system. This is bad. I can already feel my mind getting lazier. The stones I’ve held in air wobble, then lower and plop down to the sand.

    But I can’t give up now. I don’t know why these mon are here, why they’re after me, but it can’t be anything good. I want to keep living free. I want to keep living, period.

    Where is this second mon, though? I spin around - which makes me dizzy - but I can’t spot it. Maybe it’s faster and just always moving out of my sight. Wouldn't be surprised, aggron aren’t the fastest. Or have the best hearing… but we’re not stupid.

    I seize the stones that have dropped behind my back and fling them at each other, hoping to catch the mystery mon in the crossfire. And I feel them hit something! I turn around, but the mon slips out of my vision right as I spot it. Looked greenish, bipedal. A grass type? Fungi are associated with grass. For whatever reason.

    It’s probably a breloom. Those can be pretty fast, which explains this one’s quickness… ugh. I’m reaching my limit. I don’t think I can even keep my head up for much longer. But I can’t… let them take me. I have to… fight… back…

    “He’s down!” yells someone. My body falls limp, tumbling on the... ground. No…

    “Quick, come get… before...”

    “...up on th...”

    “...”

    ---​

    ...Ngh.

    I’m awake. But this isn’t my nest. I can tell that even with my eyes still closed. I’m not lying on sand, but something softer. It feels artificial. And then there’s something on top of my body, traveling horizontally over my back and limbs like stripes. It’s a bit tight, and I fear that it’s…

    I nudge my body, and my guess is confirmed. It’s very securely fastened. I may not be able to break these… but I’ll only know for sure when my strength has returned. For now, I shouldn’t strain myself.

    I open my eyes. Dozens of lamps stare back beyond the ceiling grid. Some wires and odd machinery on my level. It’s definitely an artificial environment. It reminds me… it reminds me of that fuzzy last memory I had of my old life. Before I was reborn.

    But this can’t be that again. Can it? Or have they discovered something even beyond my current life during the time I was gone? Are they doing me a favor?

    No. These could be any kinds of people. They could be trying to turn me into lotad for all I know. I’m not a fool anymore - I know not to trust. And so I need to get out of here. Listen to nothing they tell me. But I may need to play along at first… I still need time to gather more energy.

    A door opens. Someone walks in from behind a machine. White clothing. But it’s not the same clothing from the last time. But they could’ve changed it, too. Regardless, it’s a human, someone that’s not me, and it can’t be trusted.

    I growl at the approaching human, a red haired woman. It quakes the entire platform I’m on.

    “It’s okay,” she says, palms raised. Plastic gloves. “We’re here to help. No one’s going to hurt you.”

    I almost snicker. As if I’d fall for your lies. At least you’ve hidden whatever you plan to use on me in that bag you carry. What’s in it, huh? Syringes? Scalpels? Chisels to get the armor off?

    I’m running out of time, aren’t I. If only my strength could recharge faster…

    The human stops before me and reaches in her bag. I stare at it as intensely as my eyes can allow. Go ahead, show me what you've got. I'll need to know just how screwed I am.

    A jar? It’s filled with something yellowish. Waxy, I think. What is that?

    The human takes a step towards me, and I give another growl.

    “This is massage oil,” she says in a clear, patient tone, though stress can be heard leaking through it. “I’m going to open this and it’s going to smell funny, but don’t be alarmed, it’s harmless.”

    She twists open the lid. Seconds later its fragrance reaches my nostrils. Strong. Not exactly unpleasant. But it’s not smell I’m worried about, it’s the effects. Is this going to put me to sleep? Force me to only tell the truth? Is this a toxin they’ll only give the cure for if I tell them what I know? In that last case, it may already be too late. And everyone knows they kill you in the end anyway to plug any leaks. Let’s hope it’s a truth serum - I have nothing to hide, and talking buys me time.

    She moves past me, out of sight. I growl more.

    “It’s alright, it’s alright...” she just keeps saying.

    I flinch as I feel a touch on my back. What’s she doing now?

    “I’m going to massage you a little bit,” she says. “It’s not going to hurt, don’t worry.” I feel a stickier touch. Is that the oil? What will seep in through my skin?

    “Everything’s fine, no one’s going to hurt you, just relax...”

    Her palms push lightly into my skin. It doesn’t hurt - in fact, it feels kind of nice - but I’m not an idiot. They want to give me a false sense of security. Well! I’ll give them one, too. Play meek and weak. Make them think whatever poison they may have given me has already taken effect, then strike when they get too confident. But I still need a bit more time to gather my strength… perhaps relaxing like she suggested would help. But I won’t relax too much. I’ll still be alert in case they try to pull anything.

    I release the tension from my back, allowing the rubbing hands of the woman to work with less strain.

    “Good, thank you… doesn’t that feel nice?” She’s really committed to this act, but so am I to mine.

    Huh… it seems this massage is quite effective in bringing back my energy now that I'm cooperating. Great, but why would they do that for me…?

    Maybe it's an unwanted side effect. Or maybe they're really going strong with this false sense of security thing. Or maybe they… actually want to…

    ...help me?

    A few minutes pass with the masseuse giving similar treatment to other body parts as well. I keep up my relaxed facade - though it at times comes dangerously close to becoming authentic. I luckily manage to set myself straight every time. Years of experience and knowledge stemming from it doesn’t disappear with just a little rubbing.

    The woman speaks some more every now and then, but it’s about always just her telling me where she’ll move on to next or when she’ll add some more oil. I stay quiet, but my heartbeat’s still quite fast.

    A door opens nearby.

    “Jackson, are you close to being finished?” whispers a male voice.

    “He sees pretty calm,” the masseuse whispers back. “I think he’s ready. But we should still be careful, take it slow.”

    I almost tense up, but miraculously manage to suppress the response.

    “Alright,” replies the voice. “Let’s begin the purification.”

    Purification? What does that mean? It’s a pretty word, but it’s a bit too pretty, sounds like it’s got something to hide!

    My strength… I do believe it’s reached its peak. Now all that’s left is to wait for the right moment. But when would that be? I still know so little.

    Steps. A man, also in white, walks to view. He’s holding something, something technical looking and weird, I don’t like it at all. This is the best time I’m gonna get!

    I draw in a deep breath.

    Time to raise hell.

    I jerk upward with great force against the straps holding me down. The woman screams in startlement, and the man runs back behind the machinery. Something breaks, but I'm not free yet - I have to keep thrashing.

    “What are you --” she continues, reaching to touch me but then recoiling. “No, it’s okay!”

    Shut up! I’m done with your lies! I’m going to break free and get the hell outta here!

    Thrash, thrash, why aren’t they breaking? I’m a full grown aggron! I’m at the peak of my strength! Please… please break! Something broke the first time, why isn’t anything else breaking?

    “I'm getting the sedative!” shouts the man, then runs out of the room by the sound of his steps.

    No…! I can't fail! If I don't get out now, I never will! Come on, come on! Just break!

    I-it's starting to get heavier… no, please, I need to get away…! M-maybe I need to lie still for just three seconds?

    I stop my convulsing. Oh Gods, the strain is hitting me, I’m definitely not gonna get any more power from this, I should've just kept going…

    I feel my face heat up, eyes moisten. No, is my body already accepting defeat? It's the most primal part of me, so that means… that means I really have lost...

    On just a passing glance, my eyes meet the woman's. She's terrified - no, pretending to be terrified.

    Five wavering words escape her hand-covered mouth.

    “Who hurt you like this…?”

    Who hurt me…?

    ...You did. You did!

    It all wells up within me. My fear, my frustration. My hatred of this world, the snakes slithering on its earth. The hell I'm forced to exist in. The lies all around me, the mind games. The voice deep inside that wants me to trust again, wants to see me hurt again so it can laugh at my agony!

    “GRRROOAAAAHHHH!”

    My roar shakes the entire building. My skin feels hotter than ever, my own armor sizzling against it.

    Everything dims, until I realize everything's stayed the same but I'm the one changing. Glowing, burning with white-hot energy. Is this… am I…

    But aggron can't do that…! It's a thing for something like electrode or weezing, not aggron…

    The light, the energy, it dims, but it's not going away, no - I still feel it… it's heavy… and getting even hotter… it's black, but shining somehow…?

    “Oh Gods!” screams the woman, whom I can no longer see. “Pearson, forget the sedative, he's gonna --”

    Her voice is muffled by my ears locking from a sudden intense pressure. It feels like it's gonna crack my skull…! And now it's everywhere else, too…!

    ...It's clear to me now, this is the end. This is death. This is the way out of this rotten, rotten world…

    I'm scared. But yet… knowing my death will destroy this whole place… all of these evil people…

    I guess that's something to smile about.

    Beyond the ever-growing pressure, the searing heat and the ringing in my ears, I still manage to find the corners of my mouth - and I lift them.

    I'm coming, Lena.

    ---​
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2019
  2. kacklord

    kacklord 私はただ悲しかった

    i love this! the aggron is a compelling character... it's hard to tell whether Lena's death broke his mind, or whether there was always something a bit wrong... seeing the way he's sort of hardened himself into a distrustful cynic, believing himself to be the only one who understands the world as it truly is, in contrast with the genuine but inscrutable goodwill of the scientists was really interesting. overall, i really enjoyed the way the story was told through his warped view of the world, while still clearly conveying the true and (ostensibly) non-manipulative intentions of the scientists he was convinced were playing games with his mind. it would've been nice for his backstory to be a bit more of an active story rather than a fairly told-not-shown exposition sequence— perhaps through a flashback?— but even as is i enjoyed this story quite a lot, good work! :0
     
    canisaries likes this.
  3. NebulaDreams

    NebulaDreams A Dense Irritating Miniature Beast of Burden

    Thought I'd comment on this, since I'm a fan of your work and love your writing style, so I thought this would make for a good read.

    As usual, your writing style is top notch. You're fantastic at getting into the heads of your characters, and this one is no exception. Well, it is sort of an exception in that it's from the perspective of an Aggron in a human world, which I haven't seen before in your work from what I've seen so far, but found it interesting nonetheless. Interesting in that it's from the POV of a Pokemon who has intelligence, but is clearly burdened by his upbringing, and the element of disitrust that shows through his POV makes for some really emotionally engaging stuff.

    As for the story, it's fine for a prompt, but on its own, I get the feeling that it could've been expanded a bit more. There's only so much you can do with a word count like this, and in places, like his past with Lena, I felt could've slowed down to give more insight into what she was like before she died. That probably would've made for a more hard hitting ending when Barricade presumably explodes. I just got the feeling she was more important since you placed so much emphasis on her in the last line.

    Still, this was an entertaining read. Thanks, and I'll see you around.
     
    canisaries likes this.
  4. Namohysip

    Namohysip Dragon Enthusiast

    Short and sweet! Overall, I thought this was a pretty well done tragedy oneshot (though I do have a few issues that I'll cover later) but in terms of the prose and the voice, you've once again shown how good you are at getting into the head of a single character. though, I will remark it does sound very similar to Red's from HH, at least of what I read of your original prologue--though less serene and more aggressive. Still, similar bits of madness. Is Red a Shadow Human?


    Okay enough jokes.



    I'm glad you put this line here, because I wasn't 100% sure if Barricade was someone on the Shadow syndicate side or not. I had an inkling, but with so few words to go by, I was glad that this was explicitly stated, even if Barry didn't quite understand what was going on.


    The transition from that to the rest of the story made me think this was going to be a hurt/comfort story, and it very easily could have gone in that direction if it wasn't for the genre gamble. And that's actually something that I feel detracted somewhat from the story, if only because I found myself scratching my head at a few of the ending details when things went off the rails.


    So, he's struggling, they clearly have him secured and fastened, but they didn't think to secure any of his potential attacks that wouldn't require movement? Aggron can learn blizzard, and he's already demonstrated Sandstorm. And since they're dealing with a Shadow Pokemon, you'd think they'd have more precautions for if they enter what I'm assuming is hyper / rage mode, and then what I think is Shadow Boom that I had suggested on the discord a while ago, since Aggron can't normally learn explosion or selfdestruct, though could they have known that? And if so, why not have a Damp Pokemon nearby to prevent it? That one's a stretch, but it's just one of those questions when dealing with a group that is clearly experienced with the matter.


    I found myself scratching my head mostly because of how many things had to go wrong, despite the clear experience demonstrated by the purifiers, for the tragic end to happen in the first place. With what information had been provided via Barry's eyes, it didn't fully add up.


    Still, regardless of how the ending could have happened, I thought that the dramatic irony of Barry not realizing himself is pretty much a textbook tragic ending, assuming he actually explodes at the end and everything actually did somehow go wrong. While it requires some meta awareness from the reader having played the Orre games to know what's going on, that knowledge certainly adds to the tragedy flavor.
     
  5. canisaries

    canisaries sometimes i get a deadache, yeah

    Oh crap, I actually totally forgot such moves existed for the duration of that scene, lol. Well, I guess I had Sandstorm mentally covered in the sense that I thought of Sandstorm needing sand around to be used (Barricade did need to dig down for stones for his rock-flinging move), but Blizzard I didn't even realize was in Aggron's movepool... should've taken a closer look at that, and all the other possible ranged moves. I also failed to go through all the Shadow moves because... I don't know why, actually, I really should've.

    Regarding the Shadowsplosion: in the original version, Barricade was set to do a kind of Shadow version of Mega Evolution and used the power he gained with that to break out and destroy the room and then die during debris falling or with a fatal shock from some machine, but to be completely honest, I was so burnt out on this fic at that point that I just wanted to be done with it and I thought, "hey, this energy building up may as well be Shadowy Self-Destruct" and went with it without much thinking.

    Anyway, I'm glad the purification aspect was apparent enough and I did the right call by leaving out a final scene that really would've driven in the point in an anvilicious albeit heart-wrenching way.

    Not completely sure if I'll try to fix this move plot hole as my passion for this story is pretty waned out by now. I think I'll do it if I can think of a good catch-all solution, but otherwise, I'd rather use the effort on a project I have interest in.

    Either way, thanks for reading and replying!
     
  6. Chibi Pika

    Chibi Pika Stay positive

    ok this combination practically writes itself, I love it. (what does "alternate" category mean though?)

    I gotta say, the first thing that struck me about this was how... lucid your portrayal of a shadow Pokemon was! I actually had the chance to write a shadow Pokemon for the first time recently and I went the total opposite route, with the shadowfication turning a Pokemon feral and neurotic and mindlessly aggressive and full of self-destructive tics. Barricade, on the other hand, is... contemplative. A bit paranoid, perhaps. But the shadowfication is a subtle thing here. Almost like a way to push a Pokemon's mental state down the path of a mind broken by abuse, all in one fell swoop, rather than having to wait years to break them naturally. It's interesting.

    I do agree with Nebula in that I would've liked to see more in-the-moment scenes with Lena, as having him relay that info after the fact kind of lessened the emotional impact somewhat. Of course, it would've taken too long to show all of it (heck that'd probably make for a full-fledged fic on its own) but maybe just a few snippets of scenes here and there. But I can tell your focus as a writer was on the second half.

    I definitely think the strongest part of this overall is how well you captured the tragedy aspect. It's not just that there's a sad ending, it's the irony that really drives it home. Barricade gets captured by the heroes of the story, ready to start what is essentially shadow Pokemon therapy, given an actual chance to heal from what's happened... and is inherently predisposed to distrust it by his very nature as a shadow mon. The happy ending is right there and he destroys it himself because he doesn't believe it could be real. I especially like how you have him come so close to putting it together, and realizing that their actions don't quite make sense, even if they're trying to trick him. But no, he tears himself away from that conclusion. And not only does he self-sabotage himself, but those trying to help him pay the price for it as well. If that's not tragedy, I don't know what is.

    ~Chibi~
     
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