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Destiny

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Dizzy Beacon, Jul 22, 2018.

  1. Dizzy Beacon

    Dizzy Beacon [redacted]

    DESTINY

    Kanto Saga – Chapter 1 – Home at First
    And that’s a heavy blow to the Weavile! He really had bad luck on the draw here, didn’t he?

    There’s no denying that. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned about Lazlo Levitt, is it’s not over ‘til it’s over.

    This is a critical moment. We really are a few moves away from history. Can this trainer be the first in almost a thousand years of history to win the Blackthorn Tournament twice?

    ‘Torment,’ said Lazlo, with authority and without looking up.

    Torment! An interesting choice, and yes—the Hariyama has stalled! He’s bought himself another turn, but what can he possibly be hoping to do with it?

    Hariyama’s got to be three or four attacks away from being beaten. Remember, Hariyama resists both of Weavile’s strongest attacks, and can take an absolute pile of physical attacks regardless. Even with that Snatched Bulk Up, I’d be amazed if that Weavile could take more than one or two more blows. I’m not sure what Levitt hopes to gain with this play.

    ‘Nasty Plot,’ said Lazlo. He looked up this time. Was he smiling?

    Did he say Nasty Plot?

    He did, and sure enough, that’s what it’s done.

    Well one things for sure, he thinks he can take another—and yep, there we are, Weavile is hanging on for dear life, but he took that Cross Chop with barely strength to spare.

    I think I know what—Hyper Beam! An unusual move in first class play, but in this —

    I’ll be damned, he’s got him!

    He has. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a sight to behold. Lazlo Levitt is the first ever two-time winner here at Blackthorn, and what a win that was.

    It’s exactly what we’ve come to expect from him. When all the odds are against him, he pulls out these creative plays and catches his opponents—catches everyone—by surprise. What a day, here in the Meadows Stadium, and one which will live in the memory of this university, of Pokémon training as an institution, for years to come.

    ---

    Lazlo left the podium almost at a run, glancing at his watch. The fans hadn’t started leaving yet, so he was safe, but he still needed to get out of there fast.

    Examination Schools were just five minutes away, a short walk from the meadows back into the city. But there would be a massive horde of undergrads by the entrance, and he needed to find Donnie before it was too late.

    He caught sight of him at the near corner, waved, and dashed toward him.

    ‘I got mud all over me,’ said Lazlo, ‘I’m going to need everything. Thanks, by the way.’

    ‘Did you win?’ asked Donnie.

    ‘Yeah,’ said Lazlo, pulling down his trousers, and replacing them with his suit pair. The crowd of exam students seemed too distracted to notice, though a couple of them (with a shrug) did.

    ‘Nice,’ said Donnie, referring to the victory. He’d been told not to congratulate him yet.

    ‘Have you got everything?’

    ‘I have. Your mortarboard, your notes, your suit, your gown. And a bottle of champagne for after.’

    ‘Have you got a mirror?’

    ‘What?’

    ‘For the bow tie—have you got a mirror?’

    ‘Have I—no? Do you not use a clip on?’

    ‘It’s classier.’

    ‘Not if it’s wonky it’s not. Hang on…’ Donnie rooted around in his pockets for his phone. ‘This’ll have to do. Your gown’s on backwards.’

    ‘Crap,’ said Lazlo, pulling his arms out, and spinning it round. He stuck his bow tie under his collar, and tied it quickly with the camera reflection. Finally, he grabbed the mortarboard and slammed it on, making sure the tassel dangled on the right.

    ‘Okay, here we go,’ said Lazlo.

    ‘Good luck!’ said Donnie, but Lazlo had already darted off.

    Exam Schools was a bit of a maze, and Lazlo hadn’t been to this exact room before, but he found it fairly quickly. Dashing around, he was red-faced and sweating by the time he reached the door, with not thirty seconds to spare. He knocked, and his own PhD supervisor answered with ‘Come in.’

    It was one of the smaller exam halls, though no less ornate, with twenty-or-so desks lined up facing a projector screen. His supervisor, and the external examiner—Professor Nanakamado of Sinnoh, the leading scholar in Lazlo’s field, though representing a very different viewpoint—were sitting behind the proctor’s desk at the front.

    They each offered him a hand to shake. Wiping the sweat from his palm onto his gown, Lazlo took them up, before wiping his forehead.

    ‘Are you alright?’ asked Professor Nanakamado, watching Lazlo pant.

    ‘I ran here very fast,’ explained Lazlo.

    Professor Nanakamado frowned. His supervisor leaned in to the professor, and explained, ‘Lazlo has come here directly from the final of the Blackthorn Tournament. He was competing to be the first student to win the tournament in two consecutive years in the university’s history.’

    Professor Nanakamado’s expression of grim disapproval barely flickered.

    ‘I won, by the way,’ offered Lazlo, sitting down.

    ‘Congratulations,’ said his supervisor.

    ‘Shall we begin?’ said Professor Nanakamado, disinterestedly.

    His supervisor nodded—not entirely without deference to the Professor himself—and looked down at his notes. ‘Very well. To formally introduce proceedings—this is Lazlo Levitt, applying for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the subject of Applied Philosophy and Archaeology. His thesis, which is by publication, is titled “Aristotelian Awareness in Late Second Age Mythical Pokémon Sculpture and Relief—a Cross-Regional Evaluation”. I’ll let Lazlo introduce the subject matter in more detail…’

    Lazlo, who hadn’t really got his breath back yet, but, wide-eyed, began, ‘Okay, sure. Well, first of all, thank you for coming all this way, Professor.’

    Professor Nanakamado said nothing.

    ‘Right, so this is a collection of papers I’ve written on the subject of evidence for the Aristotelian theory of Pokémon origination across… well, that part is in the title. By the Aristotelian theory I’m essentially using the conventional definition, which I would state simply as that Pokémon originate from our ideas about the world, rather than our ideas about the world originating from Pokémon. I know that this is a view, Professor, that you yourself vehemently disagree with, but there is striking evidence among late second age sculpture—a time, of course, in which mythical Pokémon were a subject of intense study in the visual arts—for an awareness of and a belief in this view, far more than has typically been attributed to the period. I begin with a study of various artefacts from the Cave of Origin in Sootopolis…’

    ‘Can I interrupt you there?’ said Nanakamado. ‘At the top of this viva, I just want to say I’ve been extremely impressed on reading your thesis with the quality of work you’ve done in this area. You’ve given me a great deal of food for thought, and I don’t immediately know how to answer many of the points you have raised in your various papers. I do have various questions about some of the specific studies, but I wanted to let you know immediately that the overall effect of your work has been extremely impressive, and I look forward to working with you one day…’

    ---

    Back in college, Lazlo knocked on Donnie’s door, trying to keep a straight face.

    ‘Can I say congratulations yet?’ he asked.

    Lazlo immediately broke into a grin, unable to contain it any longer. ‘You can. No corrections, it went great.’

    ’Yes!’ exclaimed Donnie. ‘Congratulations, Doctor Levitt! Am I the first one to call you that?’

    Professor Nanakamado had at the end. ‘Yep,’ said Lazlo anyway. ‘It sounds great! Thank you, Doctor Fuji.’ Donnie had passed his viva the week before.

    ‘Where’s the champagne?’ said Donnie. ‘I’ve got it somewhere, there we go.’ He grabbed a couple of glasses, and had a go at opening it.

    ‘We should make a proper night of this,’ said Lazlo. ‘Our last big chance.’

    ‘Yeah, alright.’ said Donnie, pouring out the drinks. ‘I dunno which to ask about first, the battle or the viva.’

    ‘The battle was great. Hell of a challenge, actually. I got screwed on the random Pokémon draw. I had a Weavile, he had a Hariyama.’

    ‘That’s bad, right?’

    Lazlo snorted. ‘Yeah, that’s bad. I still don’t know how you’ve got to 25 with a PhD in Pocket physics and know so little about this.’

    ‘If I needed to know it, I’d know it.’

    ‘I suppose. Yes, it’s bad. Hariyama resists both Dark and Ice type attacks by virtue of its type and its ability, and is doubly super effective with its own Fighting type attacks. Plus the particular one they have in the rental pool is ridiculously highly trained in physical defense, and it knows Bulk Up to boost it. So Weavile didn’t have a hope in hell of winning with a conventional strategy. So I Snatched his Bulk Up so I could ride it out a bit better, and in the end hit him with special attacks instead. Weavile is terrible on the special side, but I boosted up and caught him off guard.’

    ‘Is that clever?’ Lazlo hated these sorts of questions, and Donnie knew it.

    ‘It’s… I dunno, I guess. People always say I’m a very creative player; these things always strike me as obvious…’

    ‘I just wanted to see you squirm.’ He raised his glass. ‘Well, you made history. Here’s to the first Pokémon trainer to win the Blackthorn Tournament twice.’

    ‘I’m still not technically a trainer,’ said Lazlo, clinking. ‘I don’t have my own Pokémon.’

    ‘You have two badges already,’ said Donnie. ‘Oh, yeah, it’s still on your shirt from before.’ He tossed Lazlo his clothes back. ‘Let’s see ‘em.’

    ‘The other one’s in my room,’ said Lazlo, fixing the new one to his lapel. ‘And anyway, I checked the rules. It’s quite an unusual situation but I’m pretty sure it only counts as one. Two of the same badge doesn’t count, even this one. And anyway, I’m going to do all the Kanto gyms regardless. I want to do the proper Pokémon journey, like everyone else.’

    The Blackthorn Tournament badge—an open book on a maroon shield, like the University’s coat of arms—counted towards any Pokémon League Challenge in the world, giving the holder the opportunity to skip a gym. As a process for getting a badge it was virtually unique in the world, and wasn’t even the only badge available in town. (Blackthorn had a conventional Pokémon gym attached to the Dragon Clan; Lazlo was fairly sure he’d seen the leader, Claire, in the audience today.) The Blackthorn University tournament was, unsurprisingly, the most academic Pokémon competition in the world, with participants using a different, random rental Pokémon in each round. The winner needed an extraordinary depth of knowledge about Pokémon battling, and the ability to improvise with that knowledge in battle. Most holders of the badge went on to be Masters, and more than a few alumni had served as a Champion over the centuries.

    ‘Did you tell Nanakamado or your supervisor you’re not continuing in academia?’ asked Donnie.

    ‘No, I didn’t. Anyway, I might be, after I’ve done the trainer thing. It’s not like nobody ever takes a year out for the League Challenge. Oh, yeah, the viva. It went great, no corrections. Nanakamado grilled me pretty hard but in the end everything went okay. He said he would like to work with me someday, which is cool. His excavations in Celestic Town are the stuff dreams are made of for an archaeologist… But it’ll have to wait. I’ve wanted to be a Pokémon Master since I was two.’

    Donnie smiled.

    ‘You start at Silph next week, right?’ asked Lazlo.

    ‘Yeah, I’m heading back home tomorrow. I’ll get my own place in Saffron eventually, but the commute from Lavender’s not too bad for a while.’

    ‘Well, I’ll let you know when I’m in the neighbourhood,’ said Lazlo, sadly. ‘It’s all happened so fast at the end, I dunno what to say. I will miss you.’

    ‘We’ll keep in touch!’ insisted Donnie.

    ---

    The ferry from New Bark Town to Cinnabar only travelled once a week, and was seldom used. Lazlo had nearly missed it. It was six hours long, and the company wasn’t great: he had been hoping, given it was graduation season, he might see a familiar face on the journey, but there was noone he knew growing up around. Every time he came back to Cinnabar, there were fewer and fewer familiar faces…

    In the end, with nobody to talk to on the ferry, he’d settled in on the bow of the ship, overlooking the view in front. The familiar peak of the volcano had appeared over the horizon and was now clearly visible.

    Cinnabar was a place on the map, to be sure, but even as a centre of scientific work in Kanto it had been eclipsed by Saffron in recent years, as Silph centralised more of its operations in the city. Increasingly it felt like the sort of place younger people moved away from. It was a shame, he liked Cinnabar a lot. The beauty of the place, so familiar to him growing up, had started striking him more and more now he spent most of his time away from home.

    Even he wasn’t planning to stay long. A week or so to catch up with his grandmother, before ferrying back to Pallet and registering as an official trainer with Professor Oak, who would help him catch his first Pokémon.

    He wanted a Slowpoke. An unusual choice, of course, but Slowking had been his favourite Pokémon since he was a boy. It was one of the few Pokémon that could talk, and in the traditional Pokédex had always represented wisdom, which was the virtue he most admired. As he learned more about Pokémon battling as he got older, he’d also been impressed by its versatility: defensively robust, able to boost a wide range of stats, attack both physically and specially with a wide range of attacks, heal itself, as well as inflict sleep, poison and paralysis. Having a lot of type weaknesses was the tradeoff, but he knew how to handle that. It was the perfect Pokémon partner for his style: emphasising creativity and adaptability over raw power.

    As the ferry drew into port, he’d sunk deep into fantasies from his childhood about how it would feel when he took this step, and all the ways his journey could go. The Pokémon League fanfare was stuck in his head.

    This was going to be a good day…

    His grandmother waved for him enthusiastically as he exited the terminal.

    ‘Lazlo!’ she said, ‘Over here!’

    He waved back, casually, and with a glint in his eye and a small smile, they hugged.

    ‘Congratulations!’ she said. ‘Doctor Levitt. You’ll have to forgive me if I accidentally open some of your mail.’ Lazlo’s grandmother, also called Doctor Levitt, was a research geneticist working in a laboratory on the island. Their work focused on reviving extinct Pokémon from fossils, and, amazingly, was looking very promising.

    ‘How’ve you been?’ asked Lazlo.

    ‘Keeping busy,’ she said. In the Levitt family, this meant ‘happy’.

    ‘Yeah, me too,’ said Lazlo, smiling. ‘I feel like I could sleep for a week.’

    ‘Nonsense,’ said his grandmother. ‘I have too many surprises to give you! Let’s get back and have a cup of tea, and I’ll show you the first one.’

    ---

    The family home was too big and had too many rooms. Built in a very archaic Kanto style, half-clad and stone on the ground level, on the first floor you could almost shake hands with someone in the house opposite by reaching out the window. It extended a long way back from the street, and the entrance was by way of a flagstone courtyard accessed by a carriage-wide alleyway under the upper level.

    Unexpectedly, Lazlo’s grandmother shouted, ‘we’re back!’ when she opened the door.

    Turning to Lazlo, she added, ‘This is your first surprise,’ with a glint in her eye.

    Dropping his bags on the scullery floor, Lazlo looked up, curiously. A familiar, kindly, old face bounded into the room. Like most of the important people in Lazlo’s life he wore a lab coat. His grandmother called him Sam, but to the rest of the world, he was known as Professor Oak.

    ‘Welcome home, Lazlo,’ said Oak, extending his hand. ‘I hear double congratulations are in order.’

    ‘Thanks,’ said Lazlo, blushing. ‘And thanks for being here, I mean, wow.’

    ‘Not at all,’ said Oak.

    ‘Tea, Sam? Lazlo?’ asked Lazlo’s grandmother, boiling the kettle. She always had a glint in her eye with Oak that Lazlo had never dared investigate too closely. They both agreed to tea—a dash of milk, no sugar, in both cases—and were implored to take a seat in the drawing room while Lazlo’s grandmother did her customary bustle in the scullery.

    Oak, despite his formidable academic standing, couldn’t resist asking about the Blackthorn tournament first. Lazlo was flattered to discover Oak had been watching on TV, but still wanted a blow-by-blow account of the final battle. Embarrassed at first, Lazlo quickly got caught up in the description, and for a while they were just two seasoned battlers telling war stories. The fact that Lazlo was talking Pokémon with a former Champion wasn’t something he could quite put out of his mind, but Lazlo, with some pride, felt he was able to hold his own, in conversation at least.

    ‘Thank you, Laura,’ said Oak eventually, when Lazlo’s grandmother returned with the tea.

    ‘Have you told him why you’re here, or have you both been caught up in your tales?’ she asked

    ‘Not yet,’ said Oak, smiling. ‘Your grandmother invited me here so I could set you off on catching your first Pokémon. Not strictly necessary for someone like you, I know, but I’m told you enjoy traditions, and I brought an Abra, so I can at least help out with the travel.’

    Lazlo beamed. ‘That’s awesome, thanks so much! There’s not much need to travel, though. I have my heart set on a Cinnabar Pokémon to start with. Slowpoke.’

    ‘Really?’ said Oak. Lazlo nodded, then Oak replied, ‘Huh. Interesting.’

    ‘They’re quite rare here—a few drift over from the Seafoam Islands, but you definitely do see them.’ said Lazlo, flushing slightly to be telling this to the world’s leading zoologist, who certainly already knew, ‘so maybe a fishing trip tomorrow, if you have the time? I dunno if you have the gear with you?’

    ‘I do, as a matter of fact,’ said Oak. ‘I came prepared! A fishing trip tomorrow it is.’

    Over the course of the evening, the conversation drifted in a more academic direction, with each of them talking through the latest developments in their research. Since both his grandmother and Oak were biologists, Lazlo had a hard time keeping up in places, but he’d picked up enough over the years to be able to ask pertinent questions, and both of the older researchers were kind enough to explain, and to accept challenges to their theories graciously. As usually happens when a bunch of academics get in a room together, conversation drifted away from their actual area of study very quickly, and soon all three were venturing into wild (but informed) speculation on broader matters. Even in such august company, Lazlo had a way of centralising conversation on his field of interest. He’d never had the opportunity to discuss Origination with Oak, and he was honestly fascinated to get his views.

    ‘Well, really I’m just a descriptive biologist,’ said Oak, ‘and it’s difficult to get a handle on these questions purely from a biological point of view. I’ll be honest. I know you’re a fan of the folk tales on origination, Lazlo, but as a scientist I find myself too sceptical to lend them much credence, even in the face of the evidence for a distinct origin of Pokémon and other life, which I don’t necessarily challenge. But there are innumerable ways in which Pokémon could have come into this world without any relationship to human concepts. So I’m with Nanakamado on this, I’m afraid…’

    They argued the point late into the night…

    ---

    When Oak said he had fishing gear with him, he wasn’t kidding. He came down to breakfast the next morning in a floppy hat and a khaki gillet, with the latest Silph ‘Super Rod’ carried in one arm, resting it on the scullery wall to eat. Lazlo, feeling it apt, had dressed in what he intended to be his travelling clothes for his Pokémon journey: an off-white Mareep wool cable-knit jumper in the traditional Johto style, and a pair of navy blue cargo trousers. They headed down to the pier as soon as they had finished eating; Lazlo’s grandmother had already left for work.

    All morning they saw nothing but Staryu and Krabby on the end of the rod, which Oak dispatched easily with his famous Venusaur. The conversation had a much more personal flavour than their fireside academic discussion from the previous evening. By the time they were tucking into their lunch sandwiches, they had got as far as talking about Oak’s grandchildren.

    ‘Blue seems to be doing well at the Viridian gym,’ he said, ‘though honestly, he hasn’t been the same since Red went off on his travels. I don’t think Red even told him where exactly it was he was going. He’s inscrutable, that one, but he and Blue were very close, once Blue had made his peace with what happened with the Championship. Lately, Blue had almost been as quiet as Red used to be. He’s done a lot of growing up, but… well, I was going to say, if you get the chance to see much of him on your journey, I think he could do with a friend like you. I know you weren’t exactly close as kids—I suppose the age gap was just too big—but as men I think you would get along well. If he’s at the gym, pop in to see him, would you?’

    ‘Sure,’ said Lazlo, not entirely un-starstruck by finding one former Champion imploring him to be friends with another, even if he did know the family. With the Oaks living in Pallet Town, they hadn’t exactly seen each other frequently, and Blue was almost ten years older than him, so they hadn’t exactly bonded as children.

    Oak had stared into the middle distance for a while after that admission, but then obviously decided to change the subject.

    ‘So what about you?’ he asked. ‘What’s the long term plan? Pokémon or academia?’

    Lazlo smiled, but gave the diplomatic answer. ‘I’m just going to see how it all…’

    Oak stopped him. ‘Now come on, you’ve had an incredible career for your age in both fields. I don’t believe you could have done everything you have without some serious hubris. What’s the real plan?’

    Lazlo frowned, looking Oak straight in the face, trying to figure out how he would react.

    ‘Alright. Honestly, both. You did it, after all. Champion then Pokémon Professor. Quite a career. I wouldn’t mind that one myself.’

    Oak chuckled. ‘I knew it. I was exactly the same at your age. The trick, I suppose, is being ready for it to go wrong. There were probably thousands of others just like me when I started out, just as there will be thousands now. The same ambitions, the same drive and determination. Of course, my ability to cope with failure was never really tested. Hehehe… But honestly, it was probably just luck that I succeeded where others failed. To think any other way would just be vanity. A very common sin among the young, Lazlo; I’m sure you have a touch of it yourself. But remember, the scale of your ambition will not always match the scale of your success. The world is just not that neatly arranged.’

    Lazlo sat silently, looking at his feet. He took the words of the old man very seriously. Seeing this, Oak immediately tried to cheer him up.

    ‘Oh, don’t listen to me! These are just the smug reflections of an old man. You’re not supposed to think like that when you’re young.’ He thought for a moment. ‘You know, formally speaking, there’s an oath I’m supposed to get you to recite when you set off on your journey. Nowadays it’s more honoured in the breach than the observance, but…’

    Lazlo knew it well, and began: ‘I want to be the very best: like noone ever was. To catch them is my real test; to train them is my cause. I will travel across the land, searching far and wide: each Pokémon to understand the power that’s inside. This I swear by my Pokémon and all Pokémon to come.’

    Oak smiled. ‘There it is. I never thought much of the poetry of it, but it probably sounded good back in time immemorial. But I guess what it’s saying is trainers aren’t supposed to be realistic. Dreaming big is how everyone starts. That’s the journey. And tradition blesses you to try.’

    Looking up at the horizon, Oak frowned. ‘Goodness, what time have we got to?’

    Lazlo checked his phone. ‘It’s only 1pm, why?’

    ‘Can you not see that there on the horizon?’ asked Oak. ‘I could have sworn it was the evening star, but…’

    ‘I see it,’ said Lazlo. ‘It’s getting brighter.’

    As the light approached, it took on a pinkish tint. It looked almost like a soap bubble, but it was moving at an incredible pace. And when it got very near, there was certainly something inside.

    ‘My God,’ said Oak. ‘It can’t be…’

    ‘Mew!’ it said, by way of confirmation.

    It passed by them for just a fleeting moment, but long enough for neither to be in any doubt about what they were seeing.

    Stunned into silence, they were almost too late to notice they had a bite on the fishing rod. Too shocked to process what had happened immediately, Lazlo reeled it in.

    It was a Slowpoke. Oak regained his wits for a moment, then hit it with a Sleep Powder and a gentle attack to weaken it for capture. Lazlo caught it on the first try. All this happened in total silence, save for Oak’s commands to his Venusaur.

    Mew had, until that moment, had been accepted by an enormous consensus of scholars as a purely mythical Pokémon. Lazlo, the expert in legendary Pokémon, and Oak, who literally wrote the book on Pokémon taxonomy, were lost for minutes in silent contemplation, both having had their worlds turned totally upside down.

    Eventually Oak looked at Lazlo, then his new Pokéball, and became the first to speak.

    ‘Forget everything I just said,’ he said. ‘I think there might be such a thing as destiny after all…’
     
  2. Cutlerine

    Cutlerine a lonesome harp guitar

    Well, this is certainly an impressive start! There's a lot about this that I really like, right from the opening. You capture the sports commentator tone very well, I think; it's exactly the right mixture of excitement and pointless obviousness. And the tournament itself is so … studenty. Like, it's exactly the kind of cerebral, theory-heavy cleverness-above-all stuff that I'd expect of people whose chief leisure activity consists of debating the precise relationship of pokémon to the concepts they embody (of which more in a moment). More than that, the whole thing – rushing out of the tournament, climbing into his clothes halfway across, the mazelike hall and the debate that rewards a certain kind of appraoch – feels very real; it's a great university setting.

    Which is a sentiment that you can extrapolate to cover your Kanto in general, I think. It's a good one, with a strong sense of history; there are architectural traditions here, and ideological ones, too. Speaking of, the idea that pokémon are some kind of living allegorical function of the universe is one of my favourite things to have come out of the series, and one that I really don't see developed in fic as often as I'd like; it's great to see it fleshed out here and placed in the context of the major currents in philosophy as it has developed in this world. Because, you know, in a world as dramatically different to ours as this one, where partnership with pokémon seems to be a core part of society, people are going to have come up with ways of conceptualising this stuff.

    Lazlo is an interesting character to follow, too. His approach to battling is very technical and theory-heavy; the strategies we see him employ are things you could come up with in isolation based solely on datasets without ever actually working with a real pokémon, you know? And his approach to picking his partner very much comes from that mindset. I don't doubt that he'll make an excellent trainer, but I think that it'll definitely be interesting to see him adapt to the practicalities involved. Especially since he appears to be very focused on what his partner will eventually evolve into, without thinking much about the fact that before it evolves into a potential conversation partner, it's probably not going not be the sharpest tool in the shed, and might well be somewhat difficult to actually teach to do the things he wants to do.

    Or maybe it won't, actually – it's hard to tell, and I think that's my only real point of critique here: that the pokémon themselves feel a bit … disconnected from the world. Oak's venusaur, for instance, is meant to be there in the boat with them while they fish (unless he's sending it out every single time, which seems like it would be a great way of getting the boat to overturn), but it's only mentioned twice, and only really in its capacity as an instrument wielded by Oak – you even write that Oak hits the slowpoke with Sleep Powder, which pushes the venusaur still further into the background. And the way that the fishing process is represented pretty much as it is in the games kind of furthers this – an endless string of one-punch battles in which neither combatant emerges as like a credible presence. With the characters and settings as vivid as they are, that the pokémon themselves aren't so vivid kinda strikes me as odd.

    Finally, here's a couple of typos and minor weirdnesses:

    That's not quite grammatical; that 'is' should be 'it's', except of course that would leave you with 'it's it's', which would be kind of bad, so maybe 'it's that it's' would be best.

    That should be 'centring' rather than 'centralising', I think.

    Two instances of this same 'they hadn't exactly' structure in the same sentence reads a bit weirdly.

    'Hubris' usually comes with fairly strong negative connotations; it seems like an odd choice of word for Oak in this situation, given that he means this positively.

    Anyway, that aside, this is an excellent start. I'll definitely have to check out where you take this from here – it's a great foundation, and it'll be cool to see what exactly you plan to build on it. Nice work!
     
    Dizzy Beacon likes this.
  3. Dizzy Beacon

    Dizzy Beacon [redacted]

    Thanks, Cutlerine! It had been such a while before someone replied I was worried this had fallen on deaf ears. Great to have such positive feedback too. Next chapter is below; I'm hoping to drop them fortnightly, and I've written a few in advance so I should be able to hold myself to that!

    Chapter 2 – The Top Percentage

    For lack of any other course of action, the two of them had proceeded immediately to Laura’s lab. Situated prominently on a clifftop at the mouth of the river bisecting Cinnabar village, the lab had an excellent view across the whole bay, and an aspect on the whole island, with a view to the still-active Cinnabar volcano, where the local Leader Blaine maintained his gym.

    The lab itself was a gleaming white oddity in such a traditional village. Of medium size, it was a joint venture between Silph and the University of Pewter: a respectable institution and the best regarded in Kanto, if not quite enjoying the global preeminence of Blackthorn. Being an igneous island, Cinnabar was not an obvious place to locate a facility dedicated to the study of Pokémon fossils, but by historical accident here it was. Laura did not direct the lab, preferring to avoid the administrative burdens of leading a department. But she was a well-respected member of the team and responsible for a number of key breakthroughs on the cloning project.

    With word having got around that Professor Oak was visiting, by the time they had settled in the break room, almost the whole staff had turned up to listen to the story. Had Lazlo not been so caught up in the day’s events himself, he might have noticed a certain discomfort among the research staff; a level of surprise not quite apt to the astonishing nature of this news among some members of the team, including the Director. His name, in an awkward coincidence for this story, was Doctor Fuji: he was no relation of Lazlo’s friend Donnie, who hailed from Lavender Town.

    ‘And there it was, clear as day,’ Oak had finished. ‘Mew. I couldn’t believe my eyes.’

    It was Laura who spoke up. ‘And if it were anyone else saying so, I wouldn’t believe it. It’s a shame you didn’t get a photo, but there could scarcely be better witnesses in the whole world than the two of you.’

    ‘That doesn’t seem like a coincidence,’ said Doctor Fuji. ‘It seems Mew is keen to make her presence known to the trainers of the world…’

    Laura addressed her grandson directly. ‘Lazlo, is there anything in the legends about this? I don’t suppose we have anything better to go on about such an ancient Pokémon’s behaviour.’

    Lazlo knew the material well. ‘Well, in the traditional histories, Mew is the original Pokémon. The very first, from which all others emerged, except for the four transcendentals. It’s said that she represents the human spirit in some holistic sense, whereas other legendary Pokémon associated with the First Age tend to be connected to specific pairs of fundamental human drives, like change and preservation, truth and beauty, or freedom and order. She appears as a sort of last line of defence in the myths, almost as a deus ex machina when all other options have been explored. Typically, she will reveal herself to a particular hero. This is usually some mythic heroic archetype of a young man or woman, who ends up being the main protagonist of the particular legend.’

    The implications of this last statement hit Lazlo significantly later than they did anyone else.

    ‘Huh,’ was all he could manage, after everyone started staring at him. ‘I didn’t think of that…’ he added, feebly.

    This left the room quiet for a good long time.

    Eventually, Laura spoke up again. ‘You didn’t catch your first Pokémon then, I take it?’

    ‘Oh, no, I did,’ said Lazlo. ‘As a matter of fact, a Slowpoke caught on the line almost exactly when…’ at this point, all he could manage was a weak gurgle.

    Oak finished for him. ‘Almost exactly when Mew passed overhead.’ Thinking for a second, he added, ‘I don’t suppose you have an IV Calculator somewhere in the building?’

    Doctor Fuji nodded. ‘In lab three. Laura, Lazlo, James, come with us?’

    They headed upstairs to lab three. James, who presumably was the specialist in this particular piece of equipment, took Lazlo’s Pokéball and placed it what looked like a standard computer interface.

    Lazlo knew what an IV Calculator was, but Doctor Fuji, pompously, explained anyway. ‘This machine assesses the inherent potential of a particular Pokémon relative to other members of its species. Offensive capabilities in and endurance of both physical and special attacks, as well as speed and overall health. We haven’t had much use out of it yet, but when our cloning experiments start succeeding we hope to use it as one measure of success.’

    ‘The results will take a few minutes,’ added James.

    Nobody said anything. Lazlo, with some time to think, suddenly found himself terrified. He was expecting this day to be exciting: the beginning of his Pokémon journey; something he had been looking forward to all his life. But now it was like he’d found himself inside one of the legends he’d spent a sizeable fraction of his life to date studying. People talk about living double lives, but Lazlo lived at least three: his academic work, his Pokémon battling, and then everything else. He sort of compartmentalised them, and felt he was a slightly different person in each case. Now it felt they had all been slammed together into one big everything-Lazlo. It felt like he’d had his identity sucked out, and what was being poured in instead he didn’t quite recognise, with words like ‘hero’ and ‘destiny’ being big parts of it. These were words from books, and suddenly they were a part of his everyday life. It felt extremely oppressive, and he found himself needing to sit down.

    ‘The results are in,’ said James. ‘Oh, wow…’

    ‘What is it?’ asked Oak.

    ‘This thing is off the charts in absolutely every respect,’ replied James. ‘Top percentage in each specific metric. All told, the analysis predicts that only one Pokémon in every eight-hundred-and-eighty-seven-million, five-hundred-and-three-thousand, six-hundred-and-eighty-one would be this good. We shouldn’t take that number too seriously because there’s simply not the data at such a high extreme, but if someone described this as a billion-to-one Pokémon, I would not accuse them of hyperbole. Definitely no Pokémon anything like this good has ever been put in an IV Calculator before.’

    The others were now looking at Lazlo like he had spontaneously learned to walk through walls. Lazlo wished he had.

    ‘Are you sure that thing is working?’ asked Doctor Fuji, which deflated the tension a little.

    ‘Quite sure,’ said James. ‘It’s been working fine in all our previous tests. All the same, with an anomaly like this you obviously want to try to replicate the results.’

    ‘I have one back at my lab,’ said Oak. Turning to Lazlo, he added, ‘Presumably Pallet Town is your first stop anyway? It would be great if you could swing by, so we could get some additional data.’

    Lazlo shrugged affirmatively, not present enough to speak.

    ‘So let me get this straight,’ said Laura. ‘Here we are, in a laboratory I might add, and our working theory of today’s events is that a Pokémon previously thought to be a myth has suddenly popped back into existence, designated my grandson as a predestined legendary hero, and shown that to us by—of all things—giving him a Slowpoke with superpowers?’

    ‘Seems to be…’ said Oak, quite as dumbfounded.

    Laura sighed. ‘Well, if I’m going to update my entire picture of the universe this afternoon, I’m not doing it in the office. How does everyone feel about a trip to the pub?’

    ---

    Although he’d planned to stay a full week, the events of the last couple of days had spurred Lazlo into action, so the very next morning—with a bit of a sore head—he resolved to leave immediately to begin his journey. With a sweet farewell to his grandmother, he boarded the ferry for Pallet Town alone, Oak having returned by Teleport the previous evening.

    Once on deck, it occurred to him that he hadn’t even properly met his new super-Slowpoke yet. Finding a quiet spot, he released him from his Pokéball.

    The pink, little Pokémon appeared in a flash of red light on the deck, and immediately yawned.

    Feeling a little silly, Lazlo said, ‘Hi Slowpoke, I’m Lazlo. I’m your trainer, so we’re going to get to know each other very well. We’ll be spending our lives together. So, um, nice to meet you.’

    The Slowpoke cocked its head, and blinked. And then yawned again.

    Lazlo smiled. ‘They tell me you’re very special. Personally, I just want to say that I don’t give a damn. You’re my first Pokémon, and I’ve wanted to meet you all my life. So I just want to say, you hear things nowadays about the way some people treat their Pokémon. Like they’re just tools of war or something. I did something called the Blackthorn tournament… don’t get me wrong, it’s the best way to learn about how to be a good battler that anyone could imagine. But I don’t think we treated those Pokémon well. But you and I, we’re going to be the best of friends. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you.’

    After this little speech, Slowpoke rested his head on the deck and immediately fell asleep.

    Lazlo sighed. ‘Well, when you learn to talk, hopefully you’ll be able to tell me how much you appreciate that…’

    ---

    Pallet Town was a beautiful little village set on a gigantic cliff-edge hill. The architecture was not dissimilar to what he knew from Cinnabar, but somehow Cinnabar looked like a lived-in place, whereas Pallet looked like the cover of a chocolate box. Most of the people in Cinnabar were locals; in Pallet most of them seemed to be tourists.

    For Pokémon training, though, Pallet had a reputation of astonishing gravity. In the last ten years, this tiny village had produced two Champions of the Kanto region, as well as being the permanent home of another, who also happened to be the world’s most prominent Pokémon researcher. Looking around, he saw very little sign of it: somehow, he had expected the atmosphere of the place to be filled with energy, crackling with some kind of electricity…

    ‘PI-KAA-CHUUU!!!’ screamed a Pikachu. The beach was suddenly alight with bright bolts of lightning. Lazlo’s thick black hair, normally hanging just below his ears, was suddenly standing straight on end. One of the bolts had barely missed him.

    ‘Sorry! I’m so sorry! Pikachu, aren’t you ever going to listen to me?’ The speaker was a boy, 10 years old if he was a day, clearly having trouble with a brand-new Pokémon. Sniffing at the kid, Lazlo wandered off, wondering what irresponsible parent would let someone that age have a Pokémon of his own.

    Despite being on friendly terms with a number of Pallet residents, Lazlo hadn’t actually visited very often, and it took him a while to get his bearings and remember where Oak’s lab actually was. After having climbed the hill up from the beach once, he realised it was in fact at the bottom, but set back from the main road. Grumbling, he trudged down the cobbled path again, cursing himself for not having asked someone for help first.

    Oak welcomed him with a cup of tea, and ushered him immediately into his main lab to use the IV Calculator. It replicated the results of the Cinnabar lab precisely, which didn’t particularly shock either of them. Lazlo didn’t plan to stay long—he was eager to get on the road—but Oak had other plans.

    ‘In terms of announcing our discovery,’ Oak said, ‘you’ll obviously be a named co-author of the paper, but I’m happy to do the heavy lifting on that. I’ve arranged for Professor Kukui from Alola to take independent witness statements from each of us, for the sake of injecting a little objectivity.

    ‘I imagine you’ve been giving a lot of thought to the implications of this discovery to origination theory,’ he continued. In fact, Lazlo was slightly ashamed to say it hadn’t even crossed his mind. Oak went on, ‘but my view would be the original paper should be very factual and straightforward. Probably quite short, actually. You can certainly give thought to following up with an implications paper of your own. I realise you don’t have an institutional affiliation right now, but I’m sure I can pull some strings at a relevant journal. I could even notionally put you on the payroll as an assistant here.’

    Lazlo was mostly nodding his way through this. He certainly didn’t want to abandon his academic career, but he hadn’t at all expected it to follow him around on his Pokémon journey. Actually, after having just completed his PhD, he had been looking forward to a good long break. But he supposed Professor Oak was right, and he had a responsibility not just to himself, but also to his subject, to make the most of something like this. Making a mental note to buy a pen and paper before he left town, he resolved to begin work in the evenings, when he was done walking for the day.

    ‘So if it’s alright, it would be great if you could stay in Pallet at least another day, so Professor Kukui can conduct his interviews. He’s teleporting over as soon as he can find a chain.’

    Most people had teleporting or at least flying Pokémon of their own, but the normal way to traverse long distances was a teleport chain. Pokémon could only teleport to places they had already been, so for an awkward journey like Iki Town to Pallet Town, it was usually necessary to track down a chain of good-spirited strangers who could complete the whole journey between them. Recently, a series of mobile apps had sprung up which simplified this process dramatically.

    Lazlo agreed to stay for the interview, and booked a guest room at the Pokémon Centre for the night. Free to Pokémon trainers, these facilities were respite in every major town, and maintained by the Pokémon League. Pokéballs and Potions didn’t come free, to say nothing of food and camping equipment, but the system was set up so that any trainer moving at a half-decent pace could expect to get by on prize money from the Pokémon Gyms long enough to complete their journey. A year to make the whole journey was considered respectable; most people didn’t make it all the way. The whole thing, nowadays, was financed by ticket sales and broadcast rights for the Gyms and the League itself, with a small government grant to support the state functions of the Champion.

    He had decided not to cart a laptop around with him to every corner of the Kanto region, but he did have a projecting keyboard for his phone, which he got out on the desk in his room. He set about reading, reminding himself of a few key papers on the Mew legend and any work that had been done on it in relation to origination. Although Mew was thought to be apocryphal, the consensus seemed to be that if true, the Mew legend would strongly support Aristotelian origination, as it implied that Pokémon had come into being gradually alongside human society, rather than before it. If that were true, then it would imply that new Pokémon emerged as human beings created more and more ideas about the world they lived in. Previously unknown Pokémon still appeared occasionally—Porygon, Trubbish and Charjabug were notable recent discoveries in support of the Aristotelian view—but there were just as many new finds which had nothing to do with modern technology. Platonists held that the similarities with modern technology were largely coincidental, in what were after all just a few isolated cases.

    And of course, just because Mew turned out to be real didn’t mean all the legends were true. Though, he thought, biting his lip, she did pick herself a hero…

    Shaking his head, and holding back a wave of feeling, he decided he wasn’t going to accept that.

    Sighing, he realised he was unlikely to be able to maintain academic distance from this one. He’d keep reading, and maybe his feelings would settle down after a while, but there was no way he could put pen to paper on a paper just yet.

    It was early yet. He wondered if Pallet was big enough to have a Trainer Bar. A quick search online revealed it wasn’t. Probably a bit too much for even a super-Slowpoke in a first battle, anyway.

    A first battle?! How had he not thought of that before?

    Quickly tying on his boots, he headed straight to the beach.

    The cove which housed Pallet faced south, and in July, the sun set behind one of the promontories, so it was not particularly warm by this time of the evening. Thankfully, the kid with the Pikachu had gone. Glancing around, he wondered if he would be able to find something suitably portentous.

    Instead, a Krabby crawled out from behind a rock. Actually shrugging, he shouted with as much gusto as he could muster, ‘Go! Slowpoke!’

    Seeing an opponent, Slowpoke was more lively than he had been before. His tail was curled over his body, scorpion-like, and he scratched at the sand with his hind legs. Lazlo himself was scarcely less poised. Summoning all of his strategic knowledge of Pokémon battling, he swiftly determined the best way to utilise his juvenile Slowpoke’s meagre techniques.

    ‘Curse!’ shouted Lazlo, as the Krabby lunged in for a Vice Grip.

    Having bolstered its defences, Slowpoke seemed hardly fazed by the attack.

    ‘Okay, now Yawn!’ he shouted, tempting the Krabby into sleep. It succeeded in one more Vice Grip, before dropping off to sleep.

    ‘Now we have him! Let’s start with a Headbutt!’ shouted Lazlo.

    Slowpoke obliged, with some gusto. The blow hit the Krabby very hard, and it flew some distance across the beach. In one hit, it was too dazed to continue battling.

    ‘Huh,’ said Lazlo, very disappointed. ‘That was much too easy.’

    Not one for giving up so easily, he kept combing the beach, and Slowpoke made short work of more Krabby, a few Staryu, and one or two Rattata. He even spotted a Tangela in a patch of long grass on the side of the cliff. That one was almost a challenge—it managed to get a Stun Spore in—but was swiftly dispatched by a couple of Confusions. At that point, Lazlo decided to turn in, before the Pidgeys turned to Hoothoots.

    Healing Slowpoke in the Centre downstairs, Lazlo headed back to his room, and fell swiftly to sleep.

    ---

    Professor Kukui was an overtly friendly man—too friendly, really, to endear himself to native Kantones—but Lazlo had met all sorts in his time at Blackthorn and had reciprocated as best he could manage. When it came down to the formal interviews, he used at least as much rigour as Lazlo would have himself, and he was very impressed. Having heard the whole story and concluded his procedures, he was most eager to see Slowpoke, and wanted it run through the IV calculator again, just so he could see it for himself. Having seen the readings, he speculated that Slowpoke may over time learn moves which could normally only be accessed by the species after selective breeding, and he asked Lazlo to try a few commands, just in case. But, apart from exceptional Krabby-tossing, it seemed Slowpoke hadn’t demonstrated any particularly unusual abilities yet.

    With a not-too-final goodbye to Professor Oak, Lazlo set off on his way. Reaching the top of the Pallet cliffs, he tried not to think about the fact that Viridian City was a good fifty miles away, and more than that to Pewter afterwards. Only then would he be getting his first badge.

    The Pallet to Viridian journey, while the indisputable beginning of the traditional Kanto trainer’s path, was quite inauspicious. Lazlo found himself craving a little pomp and ceremony, then remembered the business with Mew, and decided he’d had quite enough of that already. With the exception of a few pleasant valleys and the occasional intervening village, the trek was almost entirely across exposed moorland. July had been pleasant so far, but there was a stiff wind on the moor top, and Lazlo was glad of his jumper. Route 1, as the path was known, scarcely showed any more exciting Pokémon than a Pidgey or Rattata, which Slowpoke didn’t struggle with. All the battling was slowing them down, and Lazlo already began to understand why the journey took so long—hiking around Blackthorn, as he had from time to time, he had managed thirty miles in a day sometimes over rough ground—but with wild Pidgey stopping you every ten minutes, it was hard to make that kind of progress. He wasn’t looking forward to Mount Moon; the Zubat were notoriously bothersome.

    Perhaps five miles in and it was already heading towards evening. In all that time Lazlo hadn’t seen another soul. He still had plenty of energy, but he knew you should never walk yourself to exhaustion on a multi-day journey, and started looking for a place to make camp and cook up a quick mushroom risotto.

    He found a sheltered spot under a small overhang, which seemed to have been used as a camp not too long before. He set about making a fire—the wood was wet, and for a good ten minutes he wished he had picked Charmander—but he eventually got it going.

    About an hour later, just as he’d got his onions frying on a good bit of charcoal, some guy jumped out at him unannounced. Lazlo jumped a mile, but all the kid had to say for himself was, ‘You look weak! C’mon, let’s battle!’
     
  4. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    I've enjoyed reading this! It seems relatively rare for us to get straight-up trainerfics these days, but they've always been some of my favorites. It's also interesting to be working with a more academically-minded protagonist; for a story dealing with myths and legends, that would seem like a real advantage, but it's very rare to actually see someone write it.

    I also like that you're able to show how smart Lazlo is, and how good at battling, rather than having those things be informed attributes. Overall he has a kind of quiet, level-headed personality--nothing flashy--but you do a good job of getting it across in the first couple chapters and having him own his achievements. His strategy in the weavile vs hariyama battle was legit clever and an interesting approach, which makes me hopeful for some cool battles later on in the story!

    It took me a little while to pick up on when this story is set. When Lazlo addressed Donnie as "Dr. Fuji," I definitely thought it was foreshadowing that the story would have something to do with Mewtwo, and Lazlo coming from Cinnabar Island himself only tilted things more in that direction, but if we're around a decade after Red/Blue we at least won't be talking about the clone's creation, eh? If Mew is still unknown to science, though, that implies that either Mewtwo never happened at all, or at least that it hasn't been discovered yet... which could either be super relevant to the plot or not even a little important! It'll be interesting to see how things have changed in your version of Kanto, and of course what the threat Mew's presence implies turns out to be.

    I appreciate the effort you've put into the worldbuilding here, especially in terms of how the characters in the story understand pokémon and their relationship with humans. It's neat to see things done with areas of the pokémon world we don't see in most journeys that start out with preteen protagonists: the concerns of actual scientists and philosphers in the pokémon world. The little asides about apps to help people find teleporters and how the badge system work add nice color and depth to the world, too.

    There was maybe a little too much worldbuilding for me in the second chapter, though, or exposition in general. It definitely makes sense that people would be super curious about Mew and the slowpoke and researchers besides Oak would want to get in on and try to confirm those findings, but ~70% percent of the chapter being fallout from that scene plus stuff like how IV's work was a little much for me. Overall this story has a more sedate pace than most trainer fics, which I think is fine for what you're going for, but the second chapter in particular dragged a little for me. Probably this will be less of an issue now that Lazlo's on the road, though!

    All in all your prose and mechanics are pretty good, but you do have a small tendency to put commas where they don't belong:

    There should be no comma before the "and" here. A comma together with a conjunction should join two complete sentences, and since "spinning it round" doesn't stand on its own as a sentence, you want just the "and" here, no comma.

    Same deal here. "Blinked" can't stand alone as a sentence, so you don't want to be using a comma.

    Here you want no comma before "and" for the same reason as the above, but you also don't want the comma between "pink" and "little." When commas are used to separate adjectives (as in, "the cold, biting wind"), they're standing in for the word "and." Since you'd normally say "pink little pokémon" and not "pink and little pokémon," you don't want a comma there.

    Unrelated to everything above, I'm just confused about how you're using "aspect" in this sentence. What's "an aspect on the whole island?"

    Overall, though, these are small things. This is definitely a solid start, and I look forward to seeing where it goes. Welcome to the forums! If you're interested in checking out some of the other fics here, you might enjoy Love and Other Nightmares or The Child of Thorns, both of which are trainer fics. There's also a recently-announced writing contest with a Kanto theme, if you'd enjoy a little competition!
     
    Dizzy Beacon likes this.
  5. Dizzy Beacon

    Dizzy Beacon [redacted]

    Thanks for the feedback, guys! I swore I wasn't going to be one of those fanfic writers who replied to every review, but you guys' generosity makes that feel rude now I'm faced with it.

    I'm glad you like Lazlo - I was worried that (in the early chapters, at least) he might come off a bit Mary Sue, as his biggest flaws only start to cause him serious problems when the stakes get high, but I'm trying to gently sow the seeds of them here, and keep his positive attributes three-dimensional as well. What you guys think of him so far is more-or-less exactly what I think of who he is at the start, so that's a good sign I guess.

    Negrek, the Fuji coincidence is not something I realised until quite late in planning the story, unfortunately! Donnie, if I haven't lampshaded this enough yet, is a relative of Mr. Fuji in Lavender Town, and that's obviously not just for the hell of it. Neither is the Mewtwo stuff, though the precise way I'm doing that isn't really following either the games or the anime canon. As it happens, the fact that Slowking can talk and the name Dr. Fuji are about the sum total of the anime borrowings in this story, except for a connection between two characters which becomes relevant much later in Kanto, and which I don't want to spoil.

    I will say now, as I think this will enhance enjoyment of the fic rather than detract from it, that the personal histories of Red, Blue and other game-derived characters are quite different to game canon, and Lazlo has more of the role of the Gen 1 protagonist than they did. But most of the plot is nowhere near any established canon, and departs more and more from canon the further Lazlo gets through his journey.

    Thanks for the tips on the balance of plot and worldbuilding content as well. I'm trying to stay around two chapters ahead of what I'm publishing so I can comfortably post regularly, and I'll bear that in mind when I inevitably redraft what I've done already. Chapter 3 is very character-driven, anyway, so this is less of an issue - there's a new guy coming in I hope you will like!

    [Oh, by the way, being new here I want to check this. The new character in chapter 3, in the end he just didn't feel authentic if I didn't let him swear. As I understand the rules, that's fine as long as I put a warning at the top of the chapter post, right?]
     
  6. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Ah, I did notice the part where Lazlo made reference to his starter learning to talk but completely forgot to comment on it. I guess that answers my question about whether that's something all pokémon can do in this story, or if it's just some of them (just slowking, I guess). Poor Lazlo, being all excited to finally have the chance to talk with his first companion, only to have Slowking complain about his lack of pants...

    I think you'd only need a warning if you want to include the cursing uncensored. The board has an automatic censor that will asterisk out most curse words. If you'd rather have the word appear uncensored, then yeah, you should be fine with a note at the beginning of any relevant chapter (or a blanket warning at the start of the story). You can get around the board censor by wrapping one of the letters in the word in "size=4" tags, like so: f[size=4]u[/size]ck

    It'll show up normally in the final post.

    Anyway, it definitely sounds like you've got interesting plans for where you'll be taking this story! I look forward to seeing where you take things as you start to move away from the usual canon plot.

    Unrelated, but Wanderer above the Sea of Fog is pretty much my favorite painting, so I'm happy to see it there in your sig.
     
  7. Cutlerine

    Cutlerine a lonesome harp guitar

    I love that app for facilitating chain teleportation! That's some superb meshing of the real and pokémon worlds, right there. It's details like that which really give some solidity to a story's world, I think. I also like how excited all these academics get about IVs, to the extent where they completely neglect to, y'know, actually take the slowpoke out of his ball, acclimate him to his new situation, that kind of thing. Even Lazlo only seems to remember that he's actually now responsible for a living, breathing creature as an afterthought, en route to Pallet, which has the effect of undercutting his speech about liking the slowpoke as a partner rather nicely; fortunately, it seems his new partner is pretty easygoing about that kind of thing. And everything else.

    I have to say, I'm a little surprised that Lazlo doesn't try a little harder to deny the fact that he's been chosen as a hero; of course, the fact that he saw Mew and then immediately caught a special slowpoke is suggestive, sure, but hardly conclusive, and people who don't want to believe things are really good at denying them. I'd sort of expect him to go “no, it's just a legend, it doesn't mean this” a bit more than he does. Perhaps there's a part of him that's drawn to this idea, even as he rejects it.

    It's interesting that the slowpoke seems to immediately and intuitively know how to interpret Lazlo's commands; I'm always intrigued to see how people handle the trainer/pokémon relationship, and how far pokémon actually need to learn what people mean when they say things like curse! or confusion! This is clearly one of those settings where there's some intrinsic connection that allows meaning to be conveyed, perhaps as a consequence of the way that pokémon seem to issue from the conceptual forces that make up the human world.

    Less interesting is the battle itself. While it's a great example of Lazlo over-egging the pudding, so to speak – bringing his technical battle game to a match against a small crab – it's rather minimal, and quite hard to visualise; sure, I know that the krabby and the slowpoke perform moves at each other, but like, just saying that the krabby lunged forward to use vice grip, or the slowpoke boosted his defences using curse doesn't give the reader's imagination much fodder. What does curse even look like in a fictional setting? In-game, it looks like glowing, but that's just a representational device; what's actually happening here? Is there a sound, a smell, a force of some kind that kicks up sand from the beach? What about the impact of the slowpoke's head on the krabby's shell? Where does the pincer close on his body – head? Tail? A limb? I know Lazlo sees battles as a set of interlocking moves and abilities, but like, what they actually are, in a setting like this, is two bodies in an arena, physically colliding with and reacting to one another. That doesn't come across here at all.

    Finally, here are a few small nitpicks:

    'Apt' reads a bit oddly here; 'appropriate' seems more, well, appropriate.

    This narratorial aside is a bit weird, I think, particularly as up till this point you haven't really given any indication that the narrator is a character. To go from that to this just for this one sentence is just distracting, honestly.

    You'd want 'might' rather than 'may' here, I think – 'may' would only be appropriate in the present tense.

    You've been consistently referring to the slowpoke as 'he' up till now, but here you call him 'it'.

    And that's that! Nice chapter, all things considered. I look forward to more!
     
  8. Firaga Metagross

    Firaga Metagross Auferstanden Aus Ruinen

    We're definitely kindred spirits in terms of focus; you've definitely strong on the details and general ideas of the world. I feel like I can really understand your interests in philosophy, mythology, and academia through how you frame the story.

    This block of text is exemplary of your interest as I can feel your enthusiasm for the subject spill forth. I hope you write more these, and tie them into the plot, because they're definitely the most stand-out parts of your work.

    However, I think that the story and character are relatively lacking compared to your world building. The heroes' journey element definitely works, but this chapter in particular lacks plot momentum, as not much really happens in it, or at least not much feels like it's happened. Not every chapter needs to be a plot heavy, but this one felt quite slow. Perhaps tying the your world building/philosophy more directly into the plot would be a good idea?

    Furthermore, I'm interested in seeing Lazlo interact with people outside of the academic-types. Seeing other aspects of his personality and how his book-ish personality clashes with other people would be a welcome addition. Having him gush over his interests to others could work as a good world/character building setup that wouldn't feel forced.
     

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