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Earth, Air, Water, Fire

Bulba the Great!

We Do Not Sow
Now that's the sorta feedback I'm talking bout!

That sentence felt weird to me. Especially the 'he' and 'she' portion. I'm not sure how to explain other than it seemed somewhat impersonal and it didn't really flow well. It's odd, I can see why it didn't work in my mind, but its difficult for me to type up. Hmm, weird. Take from that what you will.

Hm, I see what you mean. That's some cliche writing going on, anyway - not particularly coming from any personal need to write it that way.

Too many commas in my opinion. Try running the different thoughts together at least once to cut down on the breaks. When you come across moments where commas are required, trying reading the passage out loud and pay attention to the pauses as it can really shed light where you should take a break and when you shouldn't. You dig?

Thanks for bringing this up, I've begun to notice sentence structure is a bit of a recurring problem for me anyway. That actually really helps, a lot.

I feel like it would read better if you put, 'Logan's heart was beating so fast that it felt like it would leap right out of her chest.'

Your version sounds odd to me for some reason

Hm, yeah...dunno what I was thinking when I first wrote that.

I was able to picture that quite clearly and you displayed the situation quite wonderfully. Nicely done

Theenks!

That's the kind of description I want to see. Very nicely done. Excellent wordplay and great visuals. Kudos!

Aw, shucks.

I liked that bit as well. I liked how you tied his sweat into the emotional feelings. Tis a very hard thing to do and can come off very weird if not done correctly but you did an awesome job. When you think of fear, or concern, or anger, there are physical symptoms that go along with those physical states. I'm glad you paid attention to that

This is where it helps me to be involved in theatre while writing dialogue/actions - I try to picture the characters living the scenario. I'm glad it worked for you :)

That seems almost unbelievable. Really, grabbed a tablecloth before leaving? He doesn't seem eccentric enough for that to work. Actually, he seems so level headed that it doesn't seem likely that that's something he would grab before he left. It's one thing if he picks one up along the way, but to make that something he actively sought to grab just felt a little odd to me

What an interesting and dead-on observation about Tracey. I had to go back and reference some of my old writing for this flashback - this one actually takes place right before a scene that is part of "Destined", and therefore is influenced by my older perceptions of characters. My original conception for Tracey back in "One of Many (my first story, of which he was the lead) was actually a lot more similar to Alec - he ran away from home, and a lot of the stuff he took with him was nicked from his parents. So technically, Tracey would have stolen the tablecloth - this is an inconsistency with how the characters developed. I'm really glad you picked up on that, though.

That bothered me a little bit. If you're making eggs (or anything really), unless you add an ingredient to combat certain parts of it, it doesn't change the amount of cholesterol. It doesn't matter if he's making them Sunny or Scrambled, the amount of cholesterol stays the same

Wow, my bad. This was a wording error - what was meant by that sentence was, Preston was making eggs for everyone, except himself. Hahaha I don't think there's some secret art to cooking eggs without cholesterol! Geez, major screw-up on my part. My apologies.

Aww, that was sweet. I liked that. Very genuine and believable

I'm really glad you liked that. I was trying to find a sort of 'key phrase' to characterize Logan's perceptions of situations, and I honed in on this idea that for her, everything wraps up nice and neat, and people stay together 'forever and always.' This causes some delusion on her part, but it's also a very sweet sentiment I think. I really like writing for Logan. Which is funny because when Tracey was around, Logan really tended to be a drag to write about.

If I recall, that's not part of the games or the anime. I'm excited for you to take this because you have a chance for pure creation there. Which could end up being a lot of fun if you do it the right way. I love it when writers take an established region and add in little twists. I'll be watching the evolution of this. Stoked

Yeah, this is completely new. The geography of Johto is something that I've always had kind of figured out in my head, based off the in-game map but extending geographically beyond the set barriers in-game. You can go surfing to the right of the lighthouse in the game, but the standard 'map limitation' rocks block you from going much further. I picture the shore extending into a vast mountainscape, which leads up Northeast to Ecruteak. You'll see in the next chapter, which will be posted very soon!
Thanks, Sidewinder. You rock!
 

Bulba the Great!

We Do Not Sow
And lo and behold, Chapter Eight is complete!

Earth, Air, Water, Fire

Chapter Eight

“I think we’ve gone far enough,” Chase said, throwing his bag to the ground and staring defiantly at the backs of Logan and Preston’s heads. At least those two had stopped; Alec, who was about a half mile ahead on the rocky mountain trail, was either too far to hear or too stubborn to listen. Two hours of climbing seemed to be more than enough for Chase; he was definitely the worst for wear of the travelers, having slipped and fallen more than once.

Preston had rushed the group across the bulk of Olivine’s landscape by sticking to the waterline - by staying on the beach, they reached the rocky cliffs to the east of the city by mid-afternoon without major incident, although here had been one minor scuffle with an extremely territorial Kingler (“He was BEGGING me to attack,” Alec would later claim in defense of his choice to sic Machop on it). Soon, however, the coarse sand gave way to smooth purple-and-green jetties, slick and slippery with seaweed.

“I’ve tripped, fallen, bruised, and scratched myself enough for one day. Let’s make camp,” Chase insisted. Logan looked to Preston for a response. The older man glanced at the sky, back towards the immense stretch of viridian sea where they had come from, and ahead to the treacherous stretch of great black rocks, which they had only begun climbing.

“How much longer til we reach the caves?” Logan asked. Preston had described a beautiful cavern of immense size and comfort nestled in among the rocks, although Chase very much doubted such a place existed and had said as much. Preston shielded his eyes.

“Judging by the size of the lighthouse from here…” Preston trailed off, doing some mental calculations. Logan glanced around at the expanse of city stretched below them to the left. Olivine had seemed so big down among the cobbled streets; from here, it looked quite unremarkable. A long stretch of shops ran along the Main Street and the harbor, but otherwise, it seemed the majority of the population had migrated south to the cottages along the sea on Route 40, similar to Preston’s house. “At least another five hours. Let’s rest,” Preston called, loud enough for Logan and Chase, but again Alec’s rapidly shrinking silhouette seemed deaf.

“Alec!” Logan called. No response. Preston shook his head, producing a Poké Ball and pulling it back. He froze, then lowered his arm again.

“Ah, he’ll figure it out. Come on, help me set up camp.” Preston pulled his heavy bag from his back, letting it fall to the ground with a thud. He massaged his shoulder blades, wincing at the knots embedded in his muscles. Chase caught up with Logan and the broad-shouldered man. He did, indeed, look the worse for wear, scrapes and tears coating his face and pale arms. Logan walked to him, reaching for his left arm, which sported an angry purple bruise ringed with yellow.

“Do you want first aid?” Preston asked, glancing up from his rucksack. Chase shook his head, closing his eyes and sighing. Logan gently touched each of his wounds, kissing the bigger ones tenderly.

“There. That’s better, right?” she said. Preston looked away from this very personal moment, busying himself with crackers, apples and other snacks he had packed in the rush to leave.

“We’re going to need to find some way to replenish after tomorrow. I packed enough supplies for the climb, but not the entire journey,” he said, privately admonishing himself for this oversight. Logan and Chase knelt down to help with the unpacking process.

Alec seemed to realize he was not being followed eventually, and his dark-haired figure reappeared on the stony landscape after ten minutes of near silence in the group. “Somebody could have told me!” he exclaimed, hopping nimbly from a boulder and dropping his olive satchel by Logan’s pearly white one. Preston coughed in a rather exaggerated manner, exchanging an amused expression with Logan. Alec took a seat on the makeshift picnic setting Chase, Logan, and Preston had produced, Preston’s laugh not lost on him.

“Which do you prefer, ham or turkey?” Preston asked. Alec shook his head politely.

“I don’t eat white bread. It’s fine, I brought my own food.” He produced a RAGE candy bar and a powdered protein mix, which he proceeded to dump into a thermos of MooMoo Milk. Chase watched with an amused expression, Logan and Preston with polite interest. Alec looked up. “What?”

“Why are you so particular about what you eat?” Logan asked. Alec shrugged, averting his eyes.

“None of your business,” he said quietly. Chase rolled his eyes. Preston had produced a book, what appeared to be a journal of some kind, and was peering through it with a slight frown.

“What’s that?” Logan asked, trying to read over Preston’s shoulder.

“A journal I kept the last time I hiked through these mountains. That was a long time ago, though. Before I even became gym leader. I was just a gym trainer under Eddard at the time.” He turned a page. Alec leaned forward eagerly, taking a large bite out of his power bar.

“How did you become gym leader? I’ve always been fascinated. I know how to become a member of the Elite Four, you need to beat the League Championships of at least three different regions, and then -”

“Four,” Chase interrupted. Alec looked at him, nonplussed.

“Hm?”

“Four league championships. You need to beat at least four region’s tourneys, plus face off against the already existing Elite Four and champion.” He seemed slightly bitter as he said this, a scowl darkening his fair features.

“Chase was very close to achieving this status,” Logan said softly, “he’s won three championships and fought two of the current Elite Four.”

“And then I began my failing streak,” Chase said. He stood up, walking away about six yards and staring out at the sea. Alec stared, jaw slightly dropped. Logan crossed to her friend, rubbing his shoulders consolingly and whispering to him quietly.

“To become a gym leader,” Preston began, attempting to patch up the sudden wound in conversation, “You just have to beat one league championship and then you express interest in training. The training is the most important part. It’s all very well to have the raw talent of a trainer, but what a gym leader must also be capable of is intelligence, ability to assess an opponent’s exact skill level, and be willing to act as the head of the respective city he is assigned.” Alec was enraptured.

“What’s training like?” Preston grinned at his thirst for knowledge.

“Apprenticeship first,” he said, “You become an apprentice of a current gym leader, preferably of the type you’re interested in focusing on. Then you’re put through some endurance tests. And -”

“Can I battle you?” Alec blurted out. Preston blinked, taken aback.

“I’m sorry…?” he said. Alec had a hungry look in his eyes, a spark of ambition and determination that reminded Preston forcibly of himself at Alec’s age.

“I just...well, I came here to challenge the Olivine Gym. Before anything happened, that’s why I came to the city. I can’t battle Jasmine while she’s recovering, so…” He stood up. “You’re the next best thing, right? Preston, I challenge you to a battle!” Preston let out a bark of a laugh, which took Alec by surprise. He stood up as well, highlighting the physical disparity between the two, rather like an Alakazam looking down at a Kadabra, flaunting its experience.

“I stepped down from the mantle for a reason. A man can become weary of endless battling, among other things. But I don’t see the harm in a seaside evaluation of strength. Now, you can of course battle me, but you understand an ex-gym leader is no different from any other traveling trainer?” Alec nodded, fists balling together in excitement, clenching and unclenching. Preston smiled, taking his brown rawhide coat off, revealing his once-great figure framed by a deep green button-up shirt. “Well then, Alec. Mr. Gideon. I accept your challenge happily.”

….....................................................................................

-2004-

The cottage door slammed, signaling the end of J.T.’s workday. “Is that you, Joe?” called a female voice from the bedroom. J.T. strode through the living room, observing the drawn cream-colored curtain and lightly touching his trophies upon the mantle.

“Does somebody else have the key that I don’t know about?” he mused, drawing a chuckle from his wife. He looked in the mirror set above the table in the corner, rubbing his stubbled cheek and noticing the bags around his eyes. I need to get more sleep, he thought, slapping his cheeks a few times to rouse himself. Carrie appeared, radiant as ever, at the door to their bedroom. She had changed into her nightclothes, soft silk emerald material covering her petite body quite modestly. J.T. met her halfway, kissing her by the open entrance to the kitchen. She had to stand on tip-toe to reach his lips.

“Any good challengers today?” she asked. J.T. turned to hang his rawhide coat on the hook next to the mirror in the corner, letting out a release of pent-up frustration in response.

“There was one somewhat-competent trainer. Young guy, he was dressed quite oddly. He had blue hair!” He went into the kitchen, Carrie trailing behind him, a smile spreading across her face. “He was a mono-type trainer, only used Flying types. His father’s Emerson, the leader in Violet City.” He reached into the fridge, searching for the half-gallon skim milk he always kept near the back (‘for maximum refrigeration’ he said).

“Who won?” Carrie asked, leaning coyly back against the kitchen island.

“Who do you think?” he replied, shutting the fridge and going to the corner cabinet to pull out a glass. His eyes caught Carrie’s bright blue ones and he paused. “What do you need to tell me?” he said, putting the milk down and crossing to her, concerned.

“Joe...I’m pregnant.” Tears came immediately to his eyes, and the tall man pulled his wife into his arms, hugging as much of her small body as he could.

“How?” he asked, gasping this through a sob. He pulled back, looking into a face full of joy, relief, and excitement inches from his own. She shook her head, blonde curls washing across her shining face.

“I don’t know, Joe. I...I really don’t know.” J.T. was not content towering over her wife; he knelt down, level with her stomach, and kissed it, overjoyed.

“Doctor Shephard said…” he began, but she interrupted immediately.

“He doesn’t understand either. He said it didn’t make any medical sense, biologically I’m not capable, it just...I don’t know, Joe, but it’s true Joseph, it’s coming, a baby IS coming…” she choked out, her small mouth stretched into a wide grin, tears spilling freely down her round cheeks. J.T. stood again, grabbing her waist and lacing his fingers with hers, pulling her into a loose, exuberant dance around the kitchen, kissing her mouth, her cheeks, her forehead.

“I love you. Arceus’ Plates, I love you so much Carrie Preston.” She squeezed his hand, beaming. The Prestons spun around the room for another ten minutes before retiring to the bedroom, where they would stay up all night discussing baby names. J.T.’s choices were radically different from Carrie’s; he wanted ‘Scott’ or ‘Meghan’, she preferred ‘Alec’ or ‘Emily’. The argument, they decided, would be revisited in five months, when it might be possible to determine the child’s gender.

Team Skye took Carrie three months later. Her husband would never meet the miraculous, beautifully impossible child.

….....................................................................................

-2009-

The great mahogany tree that held the majority of the planks making up Team Skye’s daily meeting place shook ever so slightly as a large tawny creature landed gracefully. Mandibuzz had returned from its hunt, a message clutched in its beak. Although most trainers communicated by Poké Gear these days, Gabriel insisted his team members rely solely on their Pokémon to relay messages to one another.

A new practice introduced during Gabriel’s regime was the construction of tree-dwellings, portable, dependable, and easy to relocate day to day. “It brings us closer to the heavens,” he would muse as the boards were placed and secured carefully. This newest one was located just outside Ecruteak City, quite close to the clearing where Gabriel had first come into verbal contact with Alec Gideon.

“Gabriel, Natalia’s sent word!” called an older man, pulling the paper from Mandibuzz’s mandible and examining it. August was a seasoned member of Team Skye whose experience with the group dated back to the days of Skylar. His white beard and crinkled eyes were misleading; the man had the youth and vigor of a man much younger. His beady brown eyes stared greedily at the paper, aching to read the words written by Natalia (he was quite fond of her), but the paper was immediately snatched up by an elegantly clad arm. Gabriel was notoriously quick to respond to a summons.

“Thank you, August.” The leader patted the elder on the back and walked to the Mandibuzz, stroking his bird’s soft feathers without a word as he read the message from his subordinate.

“What’s it say, Phoenix?” August whispered reverently, eyes averted. On occasion, usually when he was angry, Gabriel insisted he be referred to as ‘The Phoenix’. The lean man shook his head, crumpling the message and looking out over the grassy plain, lost in thought. His eyes were shards of glass, cold, sharp and unwelcoming. Presumably the message had not been a good one.

“It’s all very well. This just proves what I should have realized long ago. When you want something done, do it yourself.” Gabriel paced, not betraying to his teammate that he was not quite as comfortable with the twenty foot altitude as he pretended. Other members of Team Skye emerged from the simple cabin constructed at the back of the platform. Gabriel observed them with casual indifference, the most important action being the wheels turning in his head. He opened his mouth to speak, then paused.

“What?” August encouraged. Gabriel spread his arms to the heavens.

“The clouds part,” intoned the eight members of his gang. He smiled slightly at this, and addressed his team as a whole.

“Your fellow teammate, Natalia, has yet again failed to do what is asked of her. Let this be a lesson to all of you. Luckily, her part was very small and quite insignificant to our larger goal. We can proceed without her.”

“But sir, isn’t the Rainbow Wing part of the ritual?” said a female voice. Gabriel glared at Isabel, who never seemed to know when it was appropriate to speak.

“Eventually, yes, we will need it. When that time comes I will retrieve it myself. But there are other pieces of the puzzle that must be brought together. Angelica is at this moment investigating the legend of the beasts of the Burnt Tower. As soon as we receive her message, we will move operations into the city.” A hand shot up from the group. Brodie, who had been sitting lazily in the shade of the cabin, stood up, a message in his hand.

“My apologies, Gabriel, sir. This came from Angie earlier. I meant to give it to you, but no offense, I didn’t want to disturb your studies.” Gabriel had been spending the day researching, peering over ancient tomes and whispering to himself in his private quarters. The magenta-haired man’s nostrils flared, but he did not attack Brodie.

“Give it here, then,” he whispered, beckoning. Brodie stood up, eyes glued to Gabriel’s bright blue ones. He placed the message in his leader’s hand, his own shaking very slightly. Gabriel gave him a steely smile. “Thank you, Brodie.” The younger man sighed. It appeared the Phoenix was in a good mood today. Just as he turned his back, Gabriel glanced at the note and whistled. Mandibuzz swooped down from its perch above them, grabbing Brodie by the leg and pulling him into the air. The poor youth, startled, let out a shriek, limbs flailing. The remaining members of the team fell silent, staring.

“Make no mistake. This is what happens when I don’t get what I want, when I want it,” Gabriel said. He advanced on Brodie, who was hanging upside down a body’s length above the already elevated platform.

“G-Gabriel...please…” the young man stammered. Gabriel’s right hand struck Brodie’s cheek with incredible speed, leaving an angry red patch. He turned to survey the rest of his team with agitation.

“Angelica has discovered the key to our success. Pack up camp, quickly. Ecruteak will be ours before nightfall.” Mandibuzz dropped Brodie, and as he stood, wiping himself, stammering apologies, Gabriel turned to look out on the just-setting sun. “Oh, and remember.” He reached out his arm for Mandibuzz, not looking back. “Not a soul gets hurt.”

….....................................................................................


The rules decided on for the match between Alec and Preston were very simple: Three Pokémon apiece, Alec was allowed substitutions while Preston was not. “If I were a gym leader, I would assess the level of experience you have and adjust my Pokémon’s levels accordingly, but, well, I’m stuck with what I have,” Preston had apologized, allowing Alec to choose the three that he would be facing. After a small debate Chase agreed to referee.

“Are the rules clear?” he asked both trainers. Alec nodded, Preston grunted. He had a hardened look, and suddenly years had stripped off his body; echoes of the powerful man Alec had seen in old pictures were now evident. “Oldest chooses first,” Chase stated, looking to Preston. The aged man presented a Great Ball and tossed it nimbly onto the rocky terrain that Alec had chosen for the battle. In an explosion of red energy, a great hulking form appeared - exactly Preston’s height, entire body coated in short cocoa fur, Ursaring landed on the battlefield. She extended her gigantic paws, each white claw five inches in length, and let out a guttural snarl.

“And now, the less experienced trainer,” Chase continued. Alec shot an angry glance his way; he should have asked specifically for Logan to monitor. He had chosen the Normal-type specifically for his first challenge; if he could beat Whitney, he could beat an Ursaring.

“Machop, don’t let me down!” he cried, throwing Machop’s Poké Ball. The small gray humanoid appeared, getting a good look at Ursaring and allowing one split second of terror to flit across his simple face and large red eyes before fixing it into a look of grim determination.

“Round one, begin!” Chase called, taking a seat on the rock behind him.

“Ursaring, Swords Dance!” Preston said immediately. The massive bear raised her long claws, extending them and slashing the air, sliding them nimbly across one another, sharpening them and honing her attack power.

“Machop, Low Kick like we’ve worked on!” Alec yelled almost immediately, hoping to make Ursaring lose her bearings before the battle began proper. Machop maneuvered his way towards the figure three times his size, his face fixed in a frown of concentration. About a yard from the bear he dove, feet-first, letting out a cry.

“Protect!” Preston said, calmly observing Machop’s form and demeanor without taking his hands from his pockets. Ursaring swept her bulky arms in front of her and growled, a low, sonorous noise that filled the entire battle area. A jade shield enveloped her body, seconds before Machop could attack her stumpy legs with all his might. Instead, the small figure crashed into the bubble, yelping and flying in the opposite direction, Ursaring quite unscathed.

“Aerial Ace,” Preston said, not allowing Alec reaction time to his last move. Ursaring sprang into the air, lifting her right arm and extending her claws for a downward swipe. Alec bit his lip, quickly flashing through all of Machop’s preventative strategies. If Aerial Ace hit, he didn’t think his small companion could survive the Flying-type move; he had been so focused on raising Machop’s muscular strength he had forgotten to worry about defense.

“Karate Chop!” he commanded, hoping perhaps he could meet Ursaring blow-for-blow. Machop, still on the ground and clutching his left knee, pulled his arm back and tightened his muscles when CRASH, Ursaring slammed into him. Gravel flew from the immediate impact site, causing Alec to flinch and Preston shielded his eyes with his arm.

“Machop is unable to battle,” Chase said almost immediately. Alec yelled out involuntarily. He knew Chase had called correctly, though; Machop was definitely out of the game. His limbs were splayed in angles at odds with the alignment of his prone body, eyes shut in a grimace. Ursaring stood over him, staring down at her fallen opponent with little sign of fatigue. Alec produced Machop’s Poké Ball and pulled his newest team member back with a beam of scarlet light. “That’s Preston one, Alec zero,” Chase reminded everyone.

“That wasn’t necessary,” Alec said through gritted teeth. Preston raised Ursaring’s capsule.

“Return,” he said. The bear disappeared instantly, causing Alec to frown.

“You don’t have to do that!” he uttered, looking at the ex-gym leader angrily.

“Ursaring is my oldest Pokémon, Alec. I’ve had her for twenty years. I think maybe it might be a little better to use some of my slightly less experienced teammates on you. No offense meant,” Preston said, and he meant it. Alec shrugged.

“Whatever.”

“Can we continue, please?” Chase asked, arms folded. Alec nodded.

“What’s next?” the boy called to Preston. The man produced a regular Poké Ball and tossed it into the air. An elegant four-legged Pokémon appeared, unfamiliar to Alec up until Preston had shown it to him: Sawsbuck, native to Unova, apparently. Right, Grass-type, he thought, recalling Preston’s quick description of all of his Pokémon and their types. He assessed the stag’s long, fuchsia-leaved antlers and clean brown fur.

“Go, Magby! Let’s hustle!” Magby appeared ten feet away from Sawsbuck, lying fast asleep on his back. Alec groaned; of course he would be taking his afternoon nap right now. The tiny red creature figured out the situation quickly enough. He opened his droopy black eyes and let out a squeal, hopping up and waving his arms, apologizing profusely to his trainer.

“Round two, go!” Chase announced impatiently.

“Sawsbuck, Nature Power!” Preston reacted immediately; his reflexes were impressive in battle, Alec realized. His mind was blank, and he tried frantically to snap himself into the same energy the older man was emanating.

“Magby, Flame Burst!” was the boy’s answer. Sawsbuck had glowed a bright pearly white, shaking its head and kicking the ground with a hard black hoof. Nature Power was a move unfamiliar to Alec, but he suspected it was a grass move. Much to his displeasure, just as Magby finally released a searing wave of fire from his tiny body, gigantic rocks flew in every direction into the small bobble-headed creature.

“Nature Power is a rock move?” he said aloud, frustrated.

“It transforms, based on the Pokémon’s surroundings,” Preston explained. Magby was buried, the rocks covering him at least twice his size and weight. Sawsbuck had been singed by Flame Burst and was recovering on its own time as the trainers spoke. It pawed the ground restlessly, eyeing the pile of rocks Magby was trapped under.

“Inactivity from a Pokémon for more than a minute is considered forfeit,” Chase called. Preston shot him a look, knowing completely that this was not a rule.

“Magby, break free! Fire Punch your way out!” Alec called. There was a rumbling sound under the rocks, and a bright orange light emanated from the core of the pile. Logan came up behind Chase while the battle raged, putting a hand on his shoulder.

“Be nice to him, Chase. He’s clearly not an Elite Four member, but he’s developing. Let him learn,” she said.

“I’m being completely impartial, honestly.” The young man’s soft brown eyes met hers and she saw truth. “I don’t particularly care who wins,” he muttered, “the old guy’s just better.”

“Horn Leech!” Preston ordered. Sawsbuck charged at Magby, now freed, lowering its magnificent head and pointing its long red plant-covered antlers right at its target, Magby’s creamy dew-drop shaped belly. A green energy pulsed between the horns, and Magby’s eyes widened.

“Fire Punch!” Alec called, biting his lip and wishing he’d worked with Magby on his speed much more than he had. The little fingers clasped, the fist pulled back and ignited, but Magby never even got a chance to swing at his opponent; Sawsbuck picked the Live Coal Pokémon up and tossed it, the green light enveloping Magby and extending in long coils back towards the stag, absorbing hit points rapidly. The diminutive figure hit the ground, knocked cold by the attack.

“Round two goes to Preston, to everyone’s surprise,” Chase announced. Alec kicked a small rock at his feet, sending it flying, and grabbed Magby’s Poké Ball. This is impossible, he thought, looking at Preston incredulously. The man was petting his Sawsbuck calmly on the head; he wasn’t even breaking a sweat. For years of inactivity, he was incredible.

“Who are you?” he said, very quietly. Preston locked eyes with him across the field, smiling with his eyes and returning Sawsbuck to its red-and-white home.

“I wonder what his final Pokémon will be,” Chase said, leaning back and looking up at Logan. “He used to be a Normal-Type leader, right?”

Logan shook her head, unsure. “I hope he uses his Manaphy,” she said, staring intently at the final Poké Ball in the tall man’s hand.

Chase’s eyes widened. “Say that again?”

“He had a Manaphy, or at least he did during that battle on Main Street,” Logan told her friend, taking a seat next to him. Chase’s mouth fell open, and he looked at Preston in a whole new light.

“How does a man like him get a legendary?” he wondered aloud.

….....................................................................................

-2008-

“How about you, anything new and exciting happening over in Ghost Town?” Preston asked, chuckling. He had his Poké Gear extended in front of him, the face of Morty the Ecruteak Gym Leader illuminated on the screen. Morty allowed a small smile, shaking his head.

“No, I can’t say we’re having any luck on the reconstruction effort with the Burnt Tower, and somebody’s been snooping around the new one, somehow they’re getting past the sages guarding the area.” The gym leader sighed, and Preston appreciated the bags that had formed under his already tired-looking eyes. “I wish you’d come back to the force, J.T. We could really use you in the reconstruction effort.” The war had not affected Johto nearly as much as the neighboring region where it had begun, but there was still much to be done to restore everything to peace after Ho-oh’s Sacred Fire had purged the land of evil.

“I’m doing everything I can, Morty. I just...well, you know,” he said. “If you’d like, I’ll come to visit next week. After the anniversary.” Morty nodded.

“That would be very helpful. I send all my love to the family. Tell Carrie’s mother she’s still missed by everybody who knew her in Ecruteak.” A beeping noise interrupted them. “Is that you?” Preston checked his home screen.

“No, I think you’re getting a call, Morty,” the older man said. Morty glanced downward.

“So I am. Ech. Alright, well, I’d better take this. Talk soon, J.T.” There was a click, and Morty’s face disappeared, leaving Preston sitting alone in his very empty house. He sighed, staring down at the blank device and tossing it lightly between his large hands. It had been four years since Carrie died, and as autumn crept over Olivine City he felt more than the seasonal chill; this weekend would be the exact date of her passing.

He stood up; now would be a great time for a walk, he mused, glancing out at the darkening sky. If he did a lap around the beach, it would give him his daily exercise and allow himself to release the tension that had been building in his body all week. This would also be an excellent opportunity to do some grocery shopping. He turned on the spot, taking in the living area as the fading sun cast long shadows across the rich hardwood floor and lumpy couch he would have replaced long ago if it hadn’t been Carrie’s favorite. Not an inch of this room had changed since her passing, not even the oil painting of an elegant Dewgong leaping out of the sea, flecks of seafoam and crystal water droplets frozen in time. Preston had always hated the painting, but now that she was gone it was the most beautiful thing in the world to him.

He left the cabin dark and deserted for his run, a ritual he had only begun last year. It helped unburden his mind of dark thoughts that sometimes threatened to overwhelm him. He passed by the Gideon’s cottage; it, too, was empty. I really must call Pippa and see what she’s up to, he reflected, turning his eyes out again to the horizon, where the sun was just touching the water. Ruby red drifted into salmon pink, crossfading with the hazy blue sky that then became dark, velvety indigo. The stars were going to be quite visible tonight, he could tell. The older man’s eyes tracked inland, observing stray pieces of driftwood and Tentacool heads bobbing in the water, coming to rest on an oddity he had not seen before, stuck in the sand with water licking its rounded end.

It seemed to be an egg of some kind, but it was nothing like Preston had ever seen before. The exterior was translucent and crystal-blue, with flecks of gold lurking closer to the core of the object. The core was a warm red, pulsing intermittently, the orb wriggling very subtly with every pulse. It looked almost like a fire captured in a solid casing of freshwater, and Preston found he couldn’t take his eyes off it. He walked to the water’s edge and turned his head in all directions, checking to see if he was alone.

“What are you?” he asked softly, crouching down and reaching his hand out. The egg seemed to sense his calloused hand, lurching and rolling into the sea again. He grabbed it, rescuing the object from being whisked into open water. The orb was warm to the touch, which was odd because the evening was rather chilly. Preston stood up, looking around for some explanation of what this egg contained and how it had ended up on the edge of Route 40.

“Let’s take you home,” he said, clutching the warm round sphere to his brown jacket and shielding it from the cold.

….....................................................................................

-2009-

Contrary to Logan’s prediction, Preston had released his Braviary for the final round. Alec, glad that Preston had allowed him to request the Pokémon he would be facing, had thrown Larvitar into the arena, confident that she at least would prove a somewhat even match for the experienced trainer.

“Rock Slide!” he yelled, eager to prove that he could turn the tides of this battle. Larvitar narrowed her eyes, frowning in concentration and digging her stubby green feet into the ground, launching herself at a large boulder by her side. The boulder shattered into piece, which she hurled at the large red-and-blue eagle.

“Double Team,” Preston said, not missing a beat. Braviary flapped its wings and shrieked, blurring and suddenly sending shadowy blue images in either direction. The Pokémon became a wide blur that spread for fourteen feet in the air; Larvitar had lost her target. The rocks spun uselessly back to earth, not connecting with the Flying type. “Superpower,” Preston continued. He considered taking this back; it would certainly end the battle, and he felt slightly guilty steamrolling all of Alec’s Pokémon so quickly. The boy could not help the disparity in their experience levels.
This doubt was hampered by the impact of Braviary’s feathered body with Larvitar’s hardened rocky shell. The bird had dive-bombed into the Rock type with wild abandon; Larvitar screamed, her body plowing into the earth. Braviary coasted back into the air, screeching victory. “Larvitar!” Alec shouted, panicked. The small creature was prone, eyes shut in pain.

“Round three also goes to Preston. Larvitar is unable to battle. What a surprise,” Chase said, tacking the last part on for his own amusement. Alec glared at him, wanting nothing more than to punch his smug face into a pulp. Chase’s face was not smug, though; in fact, his expression was more surprised than anything. His eyes were fixated on Larvitar’s damaged body, which Alec turned his own eyes back to. Larvitar had stood up again; her olive-green body was glowing. Beams of light shot out from the jagged holes in her stomach and chest, and her mouth opened, letting out a noise of disbelief.

“Looks like your Larvitar’s evolving, Alec!” Preston announced, smiling with his eyes at the young man. Alec stared with confusion at his Pokémon’s body, now white and morphing. It seemed the ex-gym leader was right: Larvitar was well on its way to transforming into a Pupitar.

Alec let out a groan. “Does she have to?” he asked.

Preston frowned, confused. “I beg your pardon?” Chase and Logan had stood up and were coming closer to behold the magnificent metamorphosis that was evolution. Everyone seemed happy for Larvitar except Alec, whose face was twisted in disgust.

“This is the worst day of my life.”
 
Last edited:

Bulba the Great!

We Do Not Sow
I would like to stress that the questions I asked a little ways above this chapter would really help me a whole lot in the writing of future chapters. If nothing else, those questions I would like considered.
 

Glover

Pain in Rocket side
... You summoned me, oh Great and Leafy one? *Snicker*

Well, anyway, here I are. Let's se what I can pick apart to pieces and dash hopes and dreams. Mwa. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.

“You’re sure it’s him?” The girl nodded. “I see. Where is he?”
Need a couple of line breaks there, or so I was taught, since you're showing the words of Person A and the action of Person B

“We have every exit carefully monitored, sir.” The man returned his gaze to the expanse in front of them, his electric blue eyes seeing further than the disappearing sun.

“Return to your post, Natalia. And alert me when he arrives. I’ll be in the lighthouse, likely. Waiting.” The girl saluted, a gesture he did not return, and turned to her partner.
Here as well, it should be grouped more like

“We have every exit carefully monitored, sir.”

The man returned his gaze to the expanse in front of them, his electric blue eyes seeing further than the disappearing sun. “Return to your post, Natalia. And alert me when he arrives. I’ll be in the lighthouse, likely. Waiting.”

The girl saluted, a gesture he did not return, and turned to her partner.


Person B's speech and action, Person A's Speech and actions, and then Person B's actions again.

Also, props for usage of a Crobat in the opening scene. I liek Crobats, you see.

Gabriel, but in her three seconds of distraction, the man had vanished without a sound.
Don't you hate those kind of people?

“The point of the Macho Brace is to make you work, Machop! It’s supposed to increase your muscle mass by at least ten percent! And until you show better results than that dismal failure against Happiny, you’re keeping that on. Now here...” He produced a zippered green bag and pulled out a Super Potion. “Drink this. We’ll take a break, but don’t think you’re getting out of push-ups every half hour. Got it?” Machop nodded wearily, propping himself into a sitting position and taking the medicine with shaking hands.
I'm beginnign to think I'm not gonna like this Alec's training styles. I do like your usage of the MAcho Brace as an anchor weight, though.

And Whitney... you know, I never had any trouble with her, in any of the games. Although my sadly unfinished attempt at writing did involve a trainer getting punked by the Clefairy, probably something along the lines of a battle story I saw on Facebook (for a laugh look up the Level 35 Clefairy, it involves Cute Charm, Minimize, Ingrain ((via Metronome)), a Full Restore, and Stored Power) but I digress... got milk?

Alec Gideon hated to lose, because it was simply not an option in his family.
Yes, I think I'm gonna really not like this guy.

Also, I think it makes more sense as Alec Gideon hated to lose; it was simply not an option in his family.

Alec dropped out and left his house a disgrace, with nothing more than the clothes on his back and his family’s most precious heirloom, stolen and now hidden in the deepest pocket of his rucksack.
The poor, disgraced, unloved little... prick.

A baby Rattata, its amethyst fur just sprouting and its front teeth barely protruding from its lips, crawled nervously across the path to its mother.
Oh, please tell me he's not going to order Machop to...

Machop reduced to a thin beam of glowing reddish light, pulled into his container with a gentle click.
*Whew*

“This is the person that gave us your number!
Not so sure about the excamation mark, either.


No, only ordinary people needed their assistance.
Well that certainly says a lot about Alec's ego. Namely, that its approximately 350% of the size of an obese Wailord

“Ladies and gentlemen, the S.S. Helen will dock in Olivine Harbor by nightfall. Please be sure your luggage is together for departure. We hope you have had a pleasant voyage and that you enjoy the rest of your time on board. Thank you.” A click was heard, and then a short series of beeps. “Lord, this has been a long trip. I’m getting too old for this, Terry. I can’t even stand half the people on this boat. It’s hard enough smiling at them at meal time, let alone making small talk about their absolutely captivating adventures through the wondrous and magical land of Unova. Give me some of that. What is it, Fuchsia’s Best?” Evidently, the captain had not pressed the correct button.
Honesty: 1
Customer Appreciation: 0

“He didn’t help Tracey much in the end, did he? And I will never forgive him for what he did to Sceptile. Never.”
Has me piqued. Me thinks that if I'd read the other two, I might have a better clue as to what the heck they;re talking about, but I don't know that for sure. If I'm right, you'e still left enough of a hook for me as a new reader without ruining the suspense of information. So good for you. Just don't drag it out too long, or I;ll have to dribble my Ditto on your face. Kay?

The miniature cherry-colored creature was curled in the fetal position, its beak-like mouth wide open and emitting wisps of smoke. Alec rolled his eyes. He had a strong suspicion Magby slept only when out of the confines of his Poké Ball, and wasted his precious free time in the sphere running and exerting all of his energy on pointless activity. Any time he was actually needed, he was exhausted.
Interesting insight to the Pokeball, be curious to read more into your headcanon on them. And I think I'm going to like your magby... yep yep.

Team Skye is gathering strength again,
and the antagonists have a name now. Let's see what these people are up to. Nothing good, I suspect.

excepting Larvitar’s brutal pummeling of a sleeping Farfetch’d in an effort to defend her trainer.
Cute.

----
For anybody curious, I write characters with celebrities in mind. I constantly picture Diana Aggron as Logan, Hunter Parrish as Chase and Logan Lerman as Alec.
I have no idea who any of those people are... does that make me a bad person? Cause really hope it does!

“Arceus’ plates...t
That's a new one to me. But I kinda like it.
perched against the Inn wall. A shadow swept out of the graffitied container and flew
ove the usage of perched and a flying type. Nice unrelated parallellism.

“Larvitar can be so stubborn, can’t they? My boyfriend lives right near a colony of them. The trick is finding their soft spot. Does she have a nickname?” Alec shook his head. “Well, I suppose I’ll just have to tell Jasmine you’re not interested.
Non sequiter... how'd we go from Larvitar to the battle, I thought this was just a tour?

... A Crobat in the opener and a steel type gym... I wonder...

Henri Perrineau, because all communication out of the city was completely cut off to the citizens. He continued denouncing the team, however, perhaps because there wasn’t much else to be done.
Intriguing name, but not sure the However should be there since the perhaps is right next to it.

Also, what happened to a good old fashioned Pidgeotto with a hastily scrawled note?

We’ve got Pokémon same as you! Go, Barboach, Skiploom, Baltoy!”
Its Discipline you lack, I suspect

“Jasmine will not be joining us.” Alec turned, curious. The girl was wearing an odd smirk and was reaching for her belt. “It’s just us, Alec. Why don’t you hand that bag over and be a good boy?”
As I suspected, how about a heck of a battle right here?

And where is Jasmine in al of this?

“Yes! I feel so trapped on the sea. I’m not a water person,” he laughed, seating himself gingerly between Logan and the large pile of bags spilling to the floor. A loud hiss told him he had sat on a Glameow, who promptly tore into his exposed skin with delight. Chase yelped, throwing the cat a good fifteen feet away from him. It landed delicately, turning its intelligent gray face to him and turning its nose up, swaggering away to find its trainer. Chase sat, wincing and letting out a cry.
Poor Galmeow. but if it ever evolves, please feel free to squash the thing...

“We’ve got to heat this pole up, Magby. We need to get this whole room hot. Aim as high as you can on the pole and use Heat Wave. And don’t let up, whatever you do.”
He's going for the sprinklers, maybe? Good boy!

“And what would they be?” The blue creature in his arms stirred, glowing brilliantly and turning to face the loud female voice. Preston lifted it slowly, all attention drawing to the blinding new source of light. It was a Manaphy.
Let's see how you write the legendaries then.

---
Alright, so to ease your pain a little, here's a complete comprehensive of things you need to know in order to continue reading without your brains hurting.

First, a character list of important players.

*Snip*
First off, speaking as someone who's made this mistake, info dumps between chapters, not the most preferred method. Sure, lots of books and oublished authors have done it, but a good many of them don't... because they're supposed to be announcing the characters in the story.

And the problem, at least for me, wasn't so much the introduction of the characters themselves, its that they're not sticking and they're not memorable, yet. Lotsa words, no actions, and the dialogue isn't exactly clear as to who's doing what. I don't like the "he said She Said He replied They did" stuff either, its sounds an awful lot like " She sells seashells by the seashore" but you need it here, we're getting lost in who's doing what.

Part of the problem is where you introduced them; into a setting where there's nothing they CAN do, other than sit on a Glameow, and there's really nothing you can do to change that until you get them off the ship. Right away, I connected (and disliked...) Alec and his PKMN team. I pretty much pegged Natalia in the gym, though more as a hunch than relatability but these two on the cruise ship, its like throwing puddy at a wall, its not sticking to the wall. Best suggestion, when they get off the ship, get them and their Pokemon doing something defining for each of them (if you haven't already, I'm writing this as I go) and do an almost re-introduction. You don't need to repeat the backstory you've told so far about Tracey being dead, and how Logan doesn't want to give him up, and how the other guy (See? I can't even remember his name.) would rather Dialga just remove that part of the timeline altogether, but get them doing something the way you started Alec.

Also, I still don't know who any of those real-life people are, but she's cute. Rowr.
“Could you come help me turn this thing off? It’s gonna bug me ‘til I figure it out.” But of course.
Needs a line break in there before but, I feel.

Six rounds of artillery flew into the portly young man, stopping him cold.
I'm assuming that Jesse is the portly young man, but the last gun mentioned was his so the reader is kinda waiting for him to be the first to shoot. Also, and this is just a cultural thing, but you've done this a couple of times with gender neutral names (Logan...) "Jesse" I've met people of both genders by that name. But "Jess", at least around me, is only used to abbreviate the feminine form. Possibly, because around me he ratio of male to female is 1 to 12, but something to keep in mind when you're writing in a forum where a people form any state or country is going to potentially read it.

“Gabriel, I didn’t mean - he shot, and I...” Gabriel ignored her, cradling the blonde head of the fallen guard. When reinforcements arrived, the other thieves were long gone, but their leader was still on his knees, unmoving and stone-faced, unable to forgive himself for his brother’s death.

…................................................. ...........................................

Two years later, Gabriel Pahria could be barely recognized as his former self. The figure standing in the center of the weathered lighthouse was still lean, but his shoulder were broader, his stature straight, composed. His hair had changed from thick chestnut to reedy, damaged crimson. His eyes, though still a piercing blue, were hard, unyielding. His back, visible upon removal of his fitted gray jacket, was covered with scarlet flames, black smoke billowing to either shoulder blade and a magnificent golden phoenix erupting from the center, climbing his spine to the base of his neck. Gabriel stared silently at his struggling guest.
I love it, the whole section is very well writtem, great insight to Gabriel. Not sure the front of the chapter is the best place for it?



trapping and brutal murder of Lance, the former Champion.
Well, that certainyl tells us what we need to know for the story, but you might want to go back over THAT little detail, since you're killing off (have killed off) one of the more prominent Gen1 characters.

Also, most code systems actually have two codes: the "I need help" code, and the "I need help but you're probably gonna need the really big stick" code. Especially since putting in a code o sommon someone to a trap is going to defeat the purpose of a code...

A click and release of a loud, screeching whistle told Alec that the woman’s orders had come too late - the fire alarm had been triggered by the intense heat emanating from the pillar.
smart man.
“They’re all five blocks down, dealing with complications.
Well, here's a complication for you...

Alex Gideon
...wha?
She kicked her now useless Poké Gear ten yards
... Are these things not Wrist phones? Doesn't Alec have one that... you know... your BOSS called him on? Surely the redhead can remember SOMEONE's phone number?

“I’ve sentenced us to death.”
Doubtful, if you could; you know, swim...

She was within earshot, but her ears were now ringing, and she was resorting to acting purely on impulse and sight. To her left, an older man with grey hair was lying prone on the ground, a miniature aqua-blue creature standing between him and a very tall woman, a Swellow and Staraptor circling their prey. The little blue imp had projected an orb around itself and its master, but the repeated attacks were wearing it down - Logan could see its tiny body heaving with the effort.
Sweet, a not ovewrpowered Legendary doing, well, normal things. I could kiss you, but, well, that would be weird, and require matter dissplacing teleportation and well... [/sarcasm]

“How hard is it to break one Protect?
...You've ever had the pleasure of battling a wild Meditite in a video game, have you?

“It’s Will! Champion Will has arrived!” Nearly all fighting ceased, foe and friend alike awed by the beautiful wide wings of Lugia spread above them.
And let's see how this one plays out...

Gabriel was clinging onto his Gliscor for dear life, still not completely at ease with flying. It was curious that the leader of a group so taken with the skies be afraid of heights, but he never said a word to his teammates, and nobody ever asked.
i find it ironic that the man afraid of heights is clinging to a Pokemon reonowned for NOT ACTUALLY BEING ABLE TO "FLY"

On the ground, efforts had redoubled on both sides - Team Skye seemed determined that as little opposition remain as possible when Will joined the fight.
, That's probably a good idea, when one is knowingly about to face a LUGIA.

Also, enjoying the slight sleight of hand here, I'm betting Skye is slightly more interested in a Lugia than what Alec has to offer, unless his prized possession is a Silver Wing...

Chase was down four Pokémon, depending entirely on his Nidoking and Torkoal to defend him
Wait, the Nidoking was his? I didn't get that impression, though it was the old guy's. The way the story read, i"finishing what its trainer started" almost makes it sound like Nidoking was doing what the guy behind Chase (So that
s his name!) was attempting to do, but that didn't make sense either.

Not fifty feet above the wounded, increasingly few moving shapes loomed the two wide-winged beasts Lugia and Gliscor
... Gliscor aren'tt hat big. Not that an RC plane couldn't take down an F16, but that would probably require said RC plane going through an air intake...


And that sentance structure doesn't make much sense. I think there should be a comma after shapes.

You know what I'm wondering? This is a steel type town, right? Pewter city is full of trainers with Geodude, right? Ghost types abound in Ecruteak, no? So where are all the Magnemite? Magneton? Flying Pokemon who can learn DISCHARGE?

the doors to the gym broke open.
That took longer than expected. Fire Alarms even in a gym where you don't want them dousing someone's beoved Charizard, should override the any lockouts almost immediately unless someone's stuffed a desk in front of the door.

---
Will, Champion of the Johto Region, leapt from the long neck of his trusted companion. Lugia roared, flaring its wings and staring longingly at the shrinking figure in the dark sky. Gabriel had chosen to retreat, giving the cowardly order to his teammates before turning in mid-battle and fleeing. The remnants of Team Skye were now left leaderless and confused, and the dark figures were running in every direction.
Okay, so maybe I was wrong, or is Gabriel simply changing the field of battle?

“I’m glad to see this city still has somebody to help in a time of crisis,” Will muttered, “It helps these days. Team Skye isn’t the only group poisoning Johto right now.” Preston nodded, glancing about the ruined streets before replying.
interesting...

“Gabriel gets more lethal by the day, though, Will. He’s after something new. I’m not entirely sure what. But I think it has to do with Ho-oh.” Will sighed.

“When does it not? He needs to be headed off, and soon. Where was Jasmine in all of this?” Preston shook his head.
Okay, wrong bird.

I'm familiar with that being speled Wretching, but I looked it up to be sure. Thanks for teaching me!

No further details about the situation, why two people had chosen to take a swim in the Olivine City Gym.
clever

Gabriel twofold: One, for not capturing the boy or his possession, and two, for allowing herself to question whether she was right in following the man to begin with.
If it makes you feel any better, Toots, you're now a lot closer to that backpack than you think you are... Lots of things go missing in Hospitals, you know...

“Rainbow wing.” Both men stopped short at Alec’s uttered words.

“I beg your pardon?” Alec sat up, much to the displeasure of Dr. Sonclair, and stared with urgency into Will’s eyes.

“They were after my bag. I know why...I own a Rainbow Wing.”
Welp, right concept, worng bird...

a good two thirds of the cruised
cruise

“I was at the top of my game before I met your guys. Traveling with you was incredible, life-changing. We’ve been through so much, we’ve been through a war, love, loss, all that. But we’re past that now. And when I travel with you, it’s like these...ghosts just prevent me from doing anything worthwhile. Nothing earth-shattering.”

“But Chase, we have to keep together, Tracey said so, you’re -”

“I know, I know, I’m destined to...” Their argument was interrupted by the sliding door of the hospital wing. Will and Preston emerged, both faces set.
Oh dear, that "D" word... Destiny. So often abused in Pokemon fic. You've done so well with Manaphy, Lugia didn't really do anything but be a large bird, so don't blow it now. Phht!

“But why not just like...keep him here? Or I dunno, put him in disguise or something?” Will shook his head.
Realizing you won't have read my first comment yet, but Will's action shoulkd not be coupled to whichever person is saying this.

it’s the three that stand here before you.”
There's four people in the room. One of them is talking to Alec, the other is Alec, so who's the thrid person Will's referring to? or are they being haunted by Tracey's ghost?

Natalia ran a clean twelve miles outside the radius of Goldenrod before pausing
If that girl can run from Olivine to Goldenrod, what the farfigneuton'd heck is she doing in Skye? The girl should be running cirlces around Mr. Bolt!
---
And because I read comments (Although I think Sidey coverede everything I'd have said)

I like the scene with Natalia waking up. Very nice and well-detailed. But I don't like the "luminous" burns. That makes it sound like they're glowing. Heh.
There's a reason they glow...that will be addressed shortly
Scorched, by a Ho-Oh, the feather of which is in Alec's backpack...

The explanation for both of these questions can be found in my previous fanfics - but basically, in a nutshell, in Destined, Chase challenged Will to a Pokemon battle - thus both winning his respect, as well as discovering he had a psychic connection with his Pokemon, which gave him a huge advantage in battle.
This, bad thing. COver it in the story. I felt confident enough in Will's speech and theirs about "The War" And "I trust my life" scenes, but others disagree, so details in the story, please.

---
“This is guesswork, Chase. Will and I believe Gabriel, their leader, has a personal need to connect with Ho-Oh, beyond the need of the team. He has been ruthless in his search for the deity, and owning an item that would allow such a connection to it...well, it would certainly give him power unheard of.”
Hmm, Ho-Oh are not know for being Recreationists, although it did give new life for the DOgs, so what if ELijah is stuffed and mounted somewhere?

“Well that’s why we’re here, Alec. We’re going to protect you from him.” Chase grunted. “It’s very important that we do,” Preston said, locking his eyes onto the white-haired trainer and frowning.
Seperate paragraphs between Ches and Preston's lines

“Alec said as much to Will earlier. It’s not our place to take a family heirloom from Alec, and honestly, Chase, I’m disappointed in your response to this situation.” Chase looked bewildered.
Why? Not knowing its an eirloom, The top two places I can think fo putting it is Indigo Plateu and the vault under Mt. Silver... there is a vault under Mt. Silver, isn't there?

“You might want to work on your public image a bit, Chase. People expect you to act more like a hero.”
No, actually, I'm kinda expecting him to act like a prick.

Logan's gonna have to wake up soon, she can't keep relying on other people claiming how epic she is. Even if her head is in the clouds, she must've fought pretty well in Olivine if Will recognized them.

“It was not ‘dumb’, Alec. Three years ago, Karen, now-deceased member of the Elite Four, opened a portal that had been closed a long time in our world. A portal, between our world and a world that never should have existed. A world where humans lived without knowledge of Pokémon. And with assistance from a gang of loyal followers, Karen led an invasion of this world. An invasion that was soon responded to.” Alec’s eyebrows knotted together.
Ooh! Cool concept. Not sure I'd read it, but I love the concept.

Although we've now crossed into a realm of "Logan and Chase being mega super awesome heroes. Be careful where you tread...


...Poor Natalia...

“As the senior member of the group, I would like to propose traveling to Mahogany Town.” Alec’s body tensed.
Well, that's sorta on the way.

He looked to Logan for support.

“I think we should go to Mahogany Town, Chase.” Chase looked stunned and betrayed. Before he or Alec could speak, Preston cut in.
You need to respace your lines here, too. I count three seperate lines He looked, "I think" and :Chase looked"

And personal taste, but I wouldn't be against your finding a way to mark flashback as flashbacks, its kindajarring to get halfway intoa scene and find a dead guy still has a house... Although the first tip-off was Logan being coy.

“Thank you, sir.” The screen went blank, Professor Hume’s face gone. Chase ran his fingers through his hair, heading back into the bathroom to finish his shave. He didn’t know how to continue putting on a game face to Logan when the truth would need to be revealed eventually. That Tracey Morgan had been dead for three months seemed to have gone completely over her head.
Okay, now I'm confused. She seemed to be aware of this on the cruise ship, so if this is a flashback, we REALLY need to find a beter place for it...

“Your mother’s very busy, Alec. The Poké Gear is causing excitement, all over, people are excited, and -” Her speech was interrupted by shattering glass from the room they had just vacated. Juliet shrieked and threw the door open, looking into the library. The window had been destroyed, and in the center of the foyer was a dark rock, surrounded by shards of glass. Alec made to pick it up and Juliet stopped him cold.

“What is it?” he asked, incredulous.

“Don’t touch it. Someone just threw that rock.”
That seems rather unplausible, I don't think Alexznder Grahm Bell was stoned for the telephone... and the Apple guy certainyl was nto stoned for improving it... that's allt eh Poke Gear is, a smartphone.

Poké Ball-shaped coaster on the coffee table.
I'mma gonna be a amartaft, but how well does setting your drink on something round actually work?

Magby sneezed, singeing Preston’s plain cream-colored curtains. Alec looked over at the sleeping nineteen-year-old.
And that would be why I named one of my Magby Plasthmatic

“Lar, tar!” Larvitar was impatient, running small circles in preparation for their exercise.

“Alright, alright, let’s go!”
Well, alright, I'kll give Alec some credit, if his Pokemon do enjoy the training session, despite his nearly killing his Machop

Forty five minutes of intense cardio had proved too difficult for Magby, who was now being carried in Alec’s arms as the jog through the docks of Olivine Harbor continued.
I thought Magby had a free pass, or have we skipped a day? Or did Alec count that day he spent in the Hospital as the skip day? The prick.

“Dude, nobody’s coming for me
Of course they're not coming, they're already here.

---
trusts

The Bellsprout was snaking closer, its wide pink mouth opening, revealing tiny but sharp black teeth.
I'm pretty sure they're pearly silver, but anyway, since it ts attached to her leg, why isn't Logan using Low Kick, or Stomp? Use the other foot!

"Let's play with a Fearow! That sounds liek fun! yeah!

“It’s not something I want from you. I want a chance to explain my actions, I feel that you deserve that. Gabriel doesn’t even know I’m here, if he knew...Alec, he doesn’t want to hurt you. He only wants to see Elijah again, if he -”
And I like being me sometimes.

“Larvitar!” Alec cried in a mixture of shock and gratification. This certainly solved a lot of problems. Larvitar dropped the slab of rock, pacing back to her owner and crossing her miniscule arms, expecting praise.
I want that Larvitar. but tell me, how did it reach Natalia's head? It doesn't come up to her shins?

“You’re not going anywhere, Alec. I’m never losing you again. It’s gonna be the four of us, for now, and it’s going to be that way for a long time. You hear me?”
well, at least she's not attached to "foreve and always"

-Who is your favorite character?
-Who is the most intriguing character?
-Whose story do you think this is?
-What do you predict happening from here?
-Do you feel Pokemon are being utilized heavily enough?
-Haven't got one yet, but Alec's Pokemon are all in the running.
-Potentially one of two, Poor Logan's coping has me intriguedm because I've been in similar loss, bu also see 3)
-Gonna go on a limb here, and say its still Natalia's to tell. We've told about everyone's so far except hers. And while you you have most of my predictions to date up in my review, the only thing left I see is figuring out why a Ho-Oh singed her, and finding both her closure (probably in/through Alec) and Gabriel's own closure.

But don't change the pace of the story for them, and don't close them up in flashbacks, the way you have the others. Don't let me influence the story, or anyone else. let's jsut keep going and see if I'm right?

-Pokemon should not HAVE to carry a Pokemon story. If anything, they should be characters, and you've doen pretty well at that. I might like to see more than snippets of Chase and Logan's teams, but they realyl aren't main characters.

Team Skye took Carrie three months later. Her husband would never meet the miraculous, beautifully impossible child.
quick Math, Preston stepped down how many yaears ago? and how old are the current characters... probably not one of them...

“Oldest chooses first,”
“And now, the less experienced trainer,”
Ouch...




---
“Do you want first aid?”
That's an odd way to phrase it.

I seemd to have read throguh CH8 without stopping much, so I'll go back and read it again, but I'm gonna post this now so you have it to work from.

Again, don't let us dictate the story, unless that's your intention. We can Mad Lib all we want, but this is your story, and it wouldn't be fair to you, or to the characters if we started dictating the story for you. If that makes sense.

One other one, I really don't think you needed to tell us right aqway how the Manaphy came to him. IIs not an integral part of the story as a Pokemon, and the backstory doesn't show any sign of plugging in usefully. So leave it a mystery to us, and call it a day.
 
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Bulba the Great!

We Do Not Sow
Glover, you are a god among mere mortals. That was an incredible catch-up marathon read that you just accomplished.

I shall humbly take most of what you say without comment, and answer a few of your (remarkably thorough) critiques!

Let's se what I can pick apart to pieces and dash hopes and dreams. Mwa. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.

All my hopes and dreams have indeed been ruined. I'm never writing again. :p

Need a couple of line breaks there, or so I was taught, since you're showing the words of Person A and the action of Person B

Yes! Thank you for addressing this. Ironically, this is a lesson I've finally learned the hard way in my creative writing course this semester. All these years WASTED writing dialogue/actions the incorrect way.

Also, props for usage of a Crobat in the opening scene. I liek Crobats, you see.

Me too! LeafGreen was my first experience using one and I loved it. Vastly misunderstood creatures, Crobat.

Yes, I think I'm gonna really not like this guy.

I'm iffy on Alec. I am trying so hard not to make him a generic Ash Ketchum wannabe but I also don't want people to HATE him. But I'm glad you find him interesting, at least.

Well that certainly says a lot about Alec's ego. Namely, that its approximately 350% of the size of an obese Wailord

Quote of the day.

Has me piqued. Me thinks that if I'd read the other two, I might have a better clue as to what the heck they;re talking about, but I don't know that for sure. If I'm right, you'e still left enough of a hook for me as a new reader without ruining the suspense of information. So good for you. Just don't drag it out too long, or I;ll have to dribble my Ditto on your face. Kay?

K.

... A Crobat in the opener and a steel type gym... I wonder...

Hm?

Also, what happened to a good old fashioned Pidgeotto with a hastily scrawled note?

Lolz. Carrier Pidgey are long forgotten today.

Poor Galmeow. but if it ever evolves, please feel free to squash the thing...

Preaching to the choir, here.

First off, speaking as someone who's made this mistake, info dumps between chapters, not the most preferred method. Sure, lots of books and oublished authors have done it, but a good many of them don't... because they're supposed to be announcing the characters in the story.

And the problem, at least for me, wasn't so much the introduction of the characters themselves, its that they're not sticking and they're not memorable, yet. Lotsa words, no actions, and the dialogue isn't exactly clear as to who's doing what. I don't like the "he said She Said He replied They did" stuff either, its sounds an awful lot like " She sells seashells by the seashore" but you need it here, we're getting lost in who's doing what.

Part of the problem is where you introduced them; into a setting where there's nothing they CAN do, other than sit on a Glameow, and there's really nothing you can do to change that until you get them off the ship. Right away, I connected (and disliked...) Alec and his PKMN team. I pretty much pegged Natalia in the gym, though more as a hunch than relatability but these two on the cruise ship, its like throwing puddy at a wall, its not sticking to the wall. Best suggestion, when they get off the ship, get them and their Pokemon doing something defining for each of them (if you haven't already, I'm writing this as I go) and do an almost re-introduction. You don't need to repeat the backstory you've told so far about Tracey being dead, and how Logan doesn't want to give him up, and how the other guy (See? I can't even remember his name.) would rather Dialga just remove that part of the timeline altogether, but get them doing something the way you started Alec.

Yeah, I wasn't trying to just pass this information between chapters, it just hadn't worked its way into the story yet. As I said, all the relevant background information about characters WILL be revealed through the coming chapters. It's a lot of baggage to sort through.

Also, I still don't know who any of those real-life people are, but she's cute. Rowr.

Don't I know it. Look her up; her name's Britt Robinson. Gorgeous girl.

I'm assuming that Jesse is the portly young man, but the last gun mentioned was his so the reader is kinda waiting for him to be the first to shoot. Also, and this is just a cultural thing, but you've done this a couple of times with gender neutral names (Logan...) "Jesse" I've met people of both genders by that name. But "Jess", at least around me, is only used to abbreviate the feminine form. Possibly, because around me he ratio of male to female is 1 to 12, but something to keep in mind when you're writing in a forum where a people form any state or country is going to potentially read it.

Hmm, fair point. Jesse was almost verbatim described/conceived due to my love of Bruno Kirby's character in "When Harry Met Sally", so I guess it never struck me as odd that a man be named Jesse, or "Jess"

I love it, the whole section is very well writtem, great insight to Gabriel. Not sure the front of the chapter is the best place for it?

Hmmm, interesting. I guess I could change the placement...

Well, that certainyl tells us what we need to know for the story, but you might want to go back over THAT little detail, since you're killing off (have killed off) one of the more prominent Gen1 characters.

I kinda wanted it this way; certainly I can go into more detail about the power changes in the Elite Four/Gym Leaders, but I kinda found it irrelevant as it's casualties from a war. Maybe I could clear this up? Idk.

Well, here's a complication for you...

Welp, the 'x' vs. 'c' key fiasco strikes again.

Sweet, a not ovewrpowered Legendary doing, well, normal things. I could kiss you, but, well, that would be weird, and require matter dissplacing teleportation and well... [/sarcasm]

Ahaha, the words are enough.

...You've ever had the pleasure of battling a wild Meditite in a video game, have you?

OH TRUST ME, I have. The little blue bastards...

i find it ironic that the man afraid of heights is clinging to a Pokemon reonowned for NOT ACTUALLY BEING ABLE TO "FLY"

Yes, well.

Also, enjoying the slight sleight of hand here, I'm betting Skye is slightly more interested in a Lugia than what Alec has to offer, unless his prized possession is a Silver Wing...

SO close, but so wrong.

... Gliscor aren'tt hat big. Not that an RC plane couldn't take down an F16, but that would probably require said RC plane going through an air intake...

Very valid point.

You know what I'm wondering? This is a steel type town, right? Pewter city is full of trainers with Geodude, right? Ghost types abound in Ecruteak, no? So where are all the Magnemite? Magneton? Flying Pokemon who can learn DISCHARGE?

Jasmine has them. But where's Jasmine...out of the equation :/

I'm familiar with that being speled Wretching, but I looked it up to be sure. Thanks for teaching me!

;)

Oh dear, that "D" word... Destiny. So often abused in Pokemon fic. You've done so well with Manaphy, Lugia didn't really do anything but be a large bird, so don't blow it now. Phht!

Cut me a break, the last story I wrote was entitled "Destined"! Trust me, it's not a whole bunch of weird prophecy chosen one prophecy stuff. Just...just...okay?

Scorched, by a Ho-Oh, the feather of which is in Alec's backpack...

You are a very smart person.

Hmm, Ho-Oh are not know for being Recreationists, although it did give new life for the DOgs, so what if ELijah is stuffed and mounted somewhere?

Well, not quite. In this canon, Ho-oh is THE GUY. Like, the almighty one. This will become abundantly clear in good time.

No, actually, I'm kinda expecting him to act like a prick.

I'm so glad this expectation had been created.

Although we've now crossed into a realm of "Logan and Chase being mega super awesome heroes. Be careful where you tread...

What they did will be shown. And they aren't superheroes.

...Poor Natalia...

RIGHT that's what I'm sayin!

And personal taste, but I wouldn't be against your finding a way to mark flashback as flashbacks, its kindajarring to get halfway intoa scene and find a dead guy still has a house... Although the first tip-off was Logan being coy.

Yeah, I'm thinking about going back and at least indicating "Flashback", at least as a placeholder until I figure out the precise timeline beyond 'pre-war, post-war, pre-death'

Okay, now I'm confused. She seemed to be aware of this on the cruise ship, so if this is a flashback, we REALLY need to find a beter place for it...

Yeah, it's definitely flashback.

I'mma gonna be a amartaft, but how well does setting your drink on something round actually work?

AHAHA meaning the coaster is round and has a Poke Ball design...wording failure at its finest.

And that would be why I named one of my Magby Plasthmatic

Clever.

I'm pretty sure they're pearly silver, but anyway, since it ts attached to her leg, why isn't Logan using Low Kick, or Stomp? Use the other foot!

I was taking a slight artistic liberty to make Bellsprout more sinister. And yeah, Logan using Low Kick would CERTAINLY dispel the superhero worry.

I want that Larvitar. but tell me, how did it reach Natalia's head? It doesn't come up to her shins?

Very strong thighs.

-Haven't got one yet, but Alec's Pokemon are all in the running. Okay, I can get behind that.
-Potentially one of two, Poor Logan's coping has me intriguedm because I've been in similar loss, bu also see 3)
-Gonna go on a limb here, and say its still Natalia's to tell. We've told about everyone's so far except hers. And while you you have most of my predictions to date up in my review, the only thing left I see is figuring out why a Ho-Oh singed her, and finding both her closure (probably in/through Alec) and Gabriel's own closure.

But don't change the pace of the story for them, and don't close them up in flashbacks, the way you have the others. Don't let me influence the story, or anyone else. let's jsut keep going and see if I'm right?

See, I already have a Gabriel flashback story set, so you may hate me in a few chapters. I'm so glad you like Natalia though. She's awesome. One of my two favorites to write for.

quick Math, Preston stepped down how many yaears ago? and how old are the current characters... probably not one of them...

There is NOT going to be an "No, Luke, I am your father" twist. Preston and Carrie were married fourteen years in the past, five years she's been dead, putting the 'impossible child' at five, even if it lived.

I seemd to have read throguh CH8 without stopping much, so I'll go back and read it again, but I'm gonna post this now so you have it to work from.

Thank you for posting! I would like to know more of your thoughts on this chapter, if you ever have time, but this has been...more than adequate, haha!

One other one, I really don't think you needed to tell us right aqway how the Manaphy came to him. IIs not an integral part of the story as a Pokemon, and the backstory doesn't show any sign of plugging in usefully. So leave it a mystery to us, and call it a day.

The importance in that flashback was more to set up precisely what was happening in Ecruteak, which will be important later. Plus, Preston post-Carrie.
 

Bulba the Great!

We Do Not Sow
Well then, here we are. Any and all thoughts are appreciated!

Earth, Air, Water, Fire

Chapter Nine

-2005-

“Didn’t I tell you it was beautiful here?” Chase said, stretching his legs out in front of him, shutting his eyes peacefully and allowing a sigh of relief.

The war between NeoEarth and their own world had escalated to extreme levels of chaos, with entire cities being decimated - Saffron City had been razed to the ground, the Steward murdered and many other horrifying details that were piling so quickly that each new piece of news was just another grain of salt in the open wound. The Elite Four and Gym Leaders of Kanto and Johto were rallying an army to fight back against the militia of tanks and helicopters and other awful pieces of war equipment the people of NeoEarth were using, and a draft had been issued - Chase’s name included. This was all too painful and frightening for the fifteen-year-old, and with his Sceptile weakening every day he finally got Tracey, Logan and his girlfriend Kira to agree Kanto was no longer safe. Earlier in the month the four youths had stolen away from the entire continent, traveling southwest to Chase’s home country, Hoenn.

“I can’t help feeling like they need us back there…that we’re deserting,” Logan had said hesitantly when they had climbed onto the S.S. Charlize to set sail. Now, however, the young blonde-haired girl was blissfully unaware of war and pain, lying on a beach towel between Chase and Tracey on the sprawling beach outside Slateport City. She nodded in agreement with Chase’s statement, eyes closed in a beautiful world between sleep and consciousness. Kira had gone to purchase some Soda Pop from the sporting goods store further inland.

“If there’s one thing Hoenn’s known for, it’s the scenery.” Chase was allowing himself to tan again, as he had gotten frightfully pale during his time in Kanto. The sun felt amazing on his skin, and he let out another breath of relief. “I really missed this view,” he continued, opening his left eye very slightly to check on his Pokémon playing up on the tall dunes between the beach and the harbor city beyond. Absol was digging with his wide furry paws for some treasure or other. Nidorino was attempting to prod Sceptile into a sparring match, but Sceptile seemed beyond the ability to play - his eyes were jaundiced and saggy, his jade skin papery and hanging off his dreadfully thin frame. Tracey followed Chase’s gaze, staring at Sceptile and sitting up very quickly.

“Chase,” he began, but Chase didn’t need to be alerted; he had already noticed that his first Pokémon was staggering, falling before any of its teammates could help; Absol tried to catch him but Sceptile was rolling head over tail down the dune, crashing into the sandy base with a giant cloud of grit and dust.

“Sceptile!” Chase cried, jumping up from the towel, fearing the worst. The doctors had diagnosed his companion with a year to live almost exactly fourteen months ago; Chase had felt his luck wearing thin for a long time. Sceptile was lying prone in the sand, his once-muscular and sleek body now bent at odd angles, his long neck outstretched and his tongue hanging loosely from his open pink gums. He was emitting a high screeching sound of absolute agony.

Kira was found and the medics summoned, and Sceptile was pulled in the Emergency Care Ward in the Slateport Pokémon Center as quickly as possible, oxygen administered and many other tubes and wires hooked onto the Grass Pokémon. Only Chase was allowed in the room with his Pokémon, leaving Tracey, Logan, and Kira to wait outside, Kira pacing with her hands on her face.

“I wish I could help him,” the tall brunette girl said, staring through the single window at her boyfriend and biting her bottom lip so hard it drew blood. Tracey had his arm around Logan, who had her eyes shut, trying and failing to close the pain out. He stroked her long blonde hair numbly, his dark blue eyes staring but not truly taking in the world around him.

Chase spent a half hour in the room with Nurse Joy. The time stretched so slowly that when the white-haired youth emerged, Tracey was startled to register that it was barely dinner time. “How is he?” he asked, looking warily at Chase’s haggard expression.

Chase shook his head numbly. “He’s dead.” Kira rushed to the trainer’s side, grabbing at his arm and taking his head on her shoulder. Tracey and Logan leapt up, horrified.

“Oh, Chase…” Logan said, reaching out to take his hand and stroke it. Chase pulled away from everyone, choosing to stand alone at the window into the ward, his forehead attached to the glass.

“This is all his fault,” Chase said. His voice was level, devoid of emotion. Tracey and Logan exchanged glances. They knew he was talking about Vincent, the last trainer Sceptile had been used in battle against. “If he didn’t exist, Sceptile would be alive right now.” Kira went to wrap her arms around his waist, but he shrugged her off again, walking further away from his friends.

This was a true statement; Vincent, who had set off from Pallet Town at the same time as Logan and Tracey, had challenged Chase to a battle fourteen months ago. It culminated in a battle between the two boys’ starting Pokémon, Sceptile and a Charizard. Sceptile had put up a good fight, but eventually passed out...only to stand back up, going into what was referred to later as ‘Adrenaline Rush’, a rare condition a Pokémon occasionally passed into during battle. Essentially, Sceptile drained at its remaining years of life in an attempt to win the battle for his trainer. “Don’t get hung up over him, Chase,” Tracey advised, looking at the floor. “Sceptile wouldn’t want you to.” Chase was silent, his back to them.

“Chase? Can we get you something?” Kira asked. Chase again did not answer, his shoulders shaking through his jacket. Tracey registered that the boy was crying, sobs wracking his body, and chose to pointedly look anywhere but at his friend.

“Don’t forget, there’s still Snivy,” Logan said quietly, who unlike the others was staring straight at Chase, moving slowly toward him. Sceptile had been encouraged to mate before passing away, and Chase brought him to a breeding center, where the lizard met a very gentle Serperior he had taken a liking to. An egg had emerged a month later, soon hatching into a male Snivy, bearing little resemblance to his father, although Chase insisted he had Sceptile’s eyes. Chase turned around, eyes wide, cheeks stained and rosy.

“Snivy?! Do you think,” he said, his voice quivering, “that I could EVER look at that snake as anything other than a cheap knockoff of his dad?” Chase’s voice rose with emotion, and he clutched at his face, letting out a yell of anguish. He collapsed, rocking back and forth, all control forsaken for pure emotion. “I can’t, I can’t, how can I go on?” he asked, looking up at his friends with red eyes; they were all looking at him now. “How can I keep going without him? Sceptile was my baby, he was my best friend, he was my everything,” he said, words tumbling out now. He was cut off by Logan, who pulled his head to her chest and held him, rocking slowly with him. Tracey and Kira joined on, and the four trainers huddled in a single mass, not another word spoken.

….....................................................................................

-2009-

Chase stood with his arms crossed, apart from Preston, Alec and Logan. He had to respect the way Alec conceded defeat to Preston; after his shock at Larvitar’s post-loss evolution, Chase had expected protests that Pupitar could continue the battle. Instead, Alec quietly returned the Pokémon and bowed his head slightly at Preston, accepting the ex-gym leader’s superior skill.

“Aren’t you happy for Pupitar?” Logan prompted, startled at the level of apathy Alec was exhibiting.

He nodded, his eyes on the ground, and kicked a small rock so that it skipped, ricocheting down the inclined slope the group had made camp on. “I’m just worried,” he said after a while. Preston had begun packing their equipment back into his large bag, and Chase stood torn between helping the older man and speaking with Logan and Alec.

“Worried? Why?” the blonde girl asked gently.

“Larvitar has been working toward evolution for ages. She was so sick and tired of being smaller than her opponents, she wanted to feel more on their level. But...this middle stage is so frustrating.” He kicked another rock. “Pupitar is so...limited. It can’t move! Not properly.”

Logan nodded in understanding. “I know that feeling. I had a Weedle, once. When it evolved, I felt so trapped using a Kakuna. It didn’t have any of the mobility or offensive power of its first form. But I just had to...play to his strengths. You know?” She had noticed Chase standing at a distance and turned to him for support.

“Pupitar will be great,” was all the young trainer could muster.

Preston stood up, hoisting his traveling bag over his broad shoulders and calling out to the three youths. “We should keep moving. At least get to the first cave of the tunnels by nightfall.” Logan and Alec nodded, but Chase frowned. “Do you have a problem with this plan, Chase?” Preston asked, nonplussed.

“Can’t we enjoy the seascape one last time before shutting ourselves in a cave for three days? We never even got to see Cape Peridot, I hear it’s gorgeous.” Chase looked to Logan for support on this; he was annoyed to find her looking at Alec.

“Is it safe to spend any more time out in the open? Especially as it gets dark, Chase, with those people out looking for Alec,” she said.

Preston stared at the Olivine sea in the distance, thinking. “Alec, do you particularly feel like going to the cape?” he asked. Alec shook his head, and Preston nodded. “Me neither. Chase, if you and Logan want to go swimming, you may. I’ll take Mr. Gideon to the Purpleheart caves. If you have trouble finding your way back tonight, call my Poké Gear.” Chase looked for approval from his friend, but Logan looked torn.

“Will you be okay?” she asked Alec.

Alec looked at Preston. “I’ll be fine. Seriously. Why’s everyone so worried about me?”

“We were assigned to keep you safe, Alec. You are our priority,” Logan said.

“He’s fine, Logan, he just said so. Come on, let’s go before the sun sets,” Chase said impatiently. He stepped away from the mountains, looking expectantly at Logan.

“There’s a shortcut to the water further east. If you go left, far left,” Preston said, pointed emphatically, “you’ll find the water comes in from the cliffs where the lighthouse sits.” Logan looked at Alec one last time.

“I’m fine,” he said. Logan nodded, turning and finally moving toward Chase.

“We won’t be too long,” Chase said, beginning to walk in the direction Preston had motioned, “Just enough time to...sort things out.” He turned, looking to Logan and beginning the descent.

“You’re not worried for them?” Alec asked Preston as they watched the fair-haired teenagers fade like shadows into the surrounding dark rocks.

“No,” Preston said simply. “Now let’s get moving. The sun’s going down. Is the Rainbow Wing safe?” Alec nodded. “Good. After you, sir.”

….....................................................................................

-2006-

“We have to go back to Kanto,” Chase said, watching Kira’s face carefully. The two were out to dinner for the first time in a month, and Chase had dressed up to commemorate this occasion; he was wearing a well-tailored corduroy jacket, hunter green button-up and black bowtie, with suspenders to boot. The same could not be said for Kira, who still looked nice but had hardly dressed up; she hadn’t even broken out her signature carmine purse that accompanied her for all occasions. This news didn’t seem to surprise her. She was drumming her fingers and twitching her left leg restlessly, and merely nodded at Chase’s announcement. “Okay, Kira, what’s wrong,” he said finally, voicing the question that had been building up for the past two weeks. Since the two had settled down together in a nice apartment in the Lavaridge Springs community, she had been growing increasingly cold.

“Why do you have to go back this time? Is it destiny related?” she asked, avoiding his question.

“Tracey had a dream -”

“Oh, of COURSE he had a dream. And dreams mean everything, don’t they?” She uncrossed her legs, looking fiercely at Chase, who was bewildered at her response.

“Bad things are happening in Kanto, very bad things. You know that, it’s why we left. But Logan and Tracey both have roots there, Logan’s family is still there, and well, yes, Tracey had a dream. But it was a special dream.”

“Oh, yes, a special dream, well I guess that is reason to throw ourselves back into the fire.”

“In this dream,” Chase continued, “Arceus came to visit him. He said it spoke to him, Arceus’ voice was inside his head, and he told Tracey we’ve run away, we’re meant to go back to Kanto and we will end the war.” Kira snorted. “It told Tracey he had to die,” Chase said, and the mood shifted slightly. Kira stopped looking derisive, at least. “Why would he make that up?” he asked finally.

“I’m not saying he made anything up, Chase. I had a dream last night that I adopted a Growlithe. That doesn’t mean I will.” Chase made to respond, but she cut him off. “Look, Chase, you can go if you want. Really. It’s your choice. But me? I have a life here, now. A good job. A reliable network. And I’m not giving that up.”

Chase opened his mouth, and shut it again. He played with the napkin in his lap and stared at the ziti in front of him. Silence stretched until he finally said, quietly, “What changed, Kira?”

“What?”

“We had a really good thing going. For like a year, I really loved you. I didn’t care why we broke up the first time, I was just...happy. You left Kanto behind for this, for us. What’s changed that you won’t go back?”

Kira sighed, looking long and hard at Chase before responding. “That’s the first time you’ve said the word ‘love’ to me in a month, Chase. To me, specifically. You say it all the time to Tracey, to...Logan.” There was special emphasis on the female’s name. “But sometime last month, you stopped saying it to me.” Chase shifted his weight uncomfortably in his chair. She knew, she had caught on finally. “You don’t want me to come back with you guys,” she said, inferring the unsaid wish Chase had made.

“That’s not true,” Chase said, but they both knew he was lying.

“I think you should go to Kanto, Chase. Go with your friends. Okay? I’m giving you permission.”

“Kira…”

“But Chase, Logan doesn’t love you. She likes you, a whole lot. But her heart belongs to Tracey. So please do me a favor, and choose someone else to devote yourself to. Because some girl out there deserves you. You’re a wonderful guy,” she said, and her voice was many things at once, but it was not sad. Chase felt as though he’d been slapped in the face repeatedly, and met her words with silence. He stood up, eventually.

“I have to go to the bathroom,” he said, and Kira smiled.

“Many things have changed, but your small bladder never will,” she said, and for some reason, this of all things brought tears to her eyes. “You don’t have to come back, Chase. I can pay for myself.” Chase took Kira’s hands, and got down on his knees in front of her, kissing both hands.

“You’ll always be my first love,” he said, and he meant it. Kira nodded.

“But not your last,” she said. Chase stood up, and buttoned the top button of his jacket. “Call me sometime, will you?” she continued, as he made to leave. Chase turned, nodding and smiling gently at Kira.

“The moment we get back.”

….....................................................................................

-2009-

Peridot Cape was gorgeous, and strangely empty. For being such a well-known tourist attraction, Chase supposed the recent scare in the city was keeping people from visiting the surrounding areas as well. The beach seemed to extend for miles on either side, shooting straight out to his right and curving gently northward to his left.

Logan and Chase stood for a long while, just staring out at the water, until Logan spoke. “What are you thinking?” she asked, looking at Chase’s face, framed by the fading day’s light.

“I’m thinking we should have stayed in Hoenn,” he said, staring in the approximate direction he knew his homeland was located.

“What makes you say that?”

“There was a lot we left behind when we came back to fight in the war,” Chase said. “Tracey died because of us. If we had stayed home...well, he’d be alive. Kira might not hate me.”

Logan reached out, taking his hand and squeezing it. “Kira doesn’t hate you, Chase. And as for Tracey...well, I think he knew he was going to die.” Chase was afraid she might start crying, but she didn’t. He wondered what had changed; even the slightest mention of Tracey would have reduced her to tears two days ago. “And Chase, if we hadn’t come back, Kanto wouldn’t exist. I don’t think any of our world would. Johto would probably be gone at this point, too. Maybe even Hoenn,” she continued, staring out at the point Chase had been staring. “We had to come back. And that’s that.”

“And you don’t hate me for bringing us to Johto? I know you were enjoying Unova, and I know you hate being dragged around while I do my thing,” he said, looking at her. She looked so different from when he had first met her; her hair was still its beautiful flaxen color, her eyes still swimming pools of turquoise, but there was distance in her eyes now.

“I don’t hate you, Chase. I could never hate you,” she almost whispered, holding his hand tighter.

“Well, then. That settles it. There’s only one way to move forward from here,” Chase said solemnly.

Logan moved closer to him. “What’s that?” she asked gently.

“Race you to the beach!” he cried, pushing her into the sand and bolting forward, causing Logan to sit, dumbfounded, staring in disbelief at her friend before she started laughing, her face flushing. He turned back, picking up a pile of sand and throwing it in her direction, his face lighting up in a smile that Logan hadn’t seen for more than a year, and then he turned and ran, arms flailing, toward the sea.

“No fair, you got a head start!” she shrieked, pushing herself up, feeling sand everywhere, on her jeans, her sweater, grits between her soft hands, and launching herself, pounding her feet against the coarse sand, but Chase was already at the waterline, throwing his jacket off and looking back at his friend, his mouth split into a wide smile.

“No way the water’s warm enough to swim in,” he said as Logan joined him in the shallow depths of the beach. Logan could feel the chill of the cooling autumn seawater on her bare feet, and she nodded agreement.

“We’ll just have to surf,” she said, grinning at him. The two stood in the water together for a second, breathing the salt air and just looking at each other, until Chase bolted back up the beach to their small pile of bags and shoes, pulling a Poké Ball from his bag and one from Logan’s, jogging back to the water’s edge and handing her the red-and-white sphere.

“After you, m’lady,” he said, indicating out to the expansive sea. Logan threw her orb, releasing her Blastoise right into the water. The large turtle Pokémon seemed momentarily disoriented, but then it let out a deep growl of approval and dove into the swells, paddling through its home environment with a deep smile of contentment on its face.

Logan turned to Chase. “And you, Mr. Tang,” she said, her eyes bright. He let out Starmie, its cerulean body and pink plating a departure from the traditional purple the starshape Pokémon was known to possess; a ‘shiny’, Preston had called it. The two trainers climbed onto their Pokémon and began a leisurely swim that would extend into the night.

….....................................................................................

Alec and Preston reached the entrance to the tunnels by nightfall; the last light of the day was dancing on the surface of the far-off sea. The way in was hidden; Preston had to show Alec the way the opening was cleverly concealed behind a sparse crop of brush (“Limber pine”, Preston called it) that grew specifically in mountain ranges; stunted, mostly branches with little green. Nevertheless, the bushes were positioned in a way that from even ten feet away, the gaping hole in the side of the mountain couldn’t be seen.

“You first,” Preston said, glancing around to make sure they were quite alone. Alec climbed around the bristly plants uncomfortably, cutting himself more than once and grunting a few times, but he disappeared swiftly and totally into the Purpleheart Tunnel, as Preston had named it. The older man followed, the last rays of sunlight catching in his light hair, illuminating more than ever the flecks of gray. He adjusted the plants behind him so that the tunnel was thrown into complete darkness.

“Do we have a flashlight, or something?” Alec asked, pulling out his Poké Gear and using the small light embedded in the top to look at Preston.

“Oh, we have better than a flashlight.” He released an Electivire, a great golden tiger-like creature that stood at eye level with his trainer. “Electivire, give us some light.” The Pokémon growled, rubbing his two black cable-like tails together, producing a shower of sparks that crackled and spit. Eventually a low humming resounded steadily through the tunnel, and Electivire glowed, illuminating the entire cavern.

For it was a cavern. Alec had been expecting some small, dingy, winding tunnel that had lots of dirt and unpleasant things. Instead, his jaw dropped at the majesty of the place, high-ceilinged and quite clean, the walls shining and reflecting Electivire’s light almost like glass. Deep veins of tyrian purple ran through the cobalt walls, and if Alec squinted he could make out faint traces of gold in the floor.

Preston stepped up beside him. “Nice, isn’t it?” he said, his deep, quiet voice resonating nicely in the wide space.

“This is amazing,” Alec said, turning on the spot in wonder. Preston smiled, looking up, and something about the way the light hit him revealed a man ten years younger.

“Well, this is as far as we said we’d go until Chase and Logan return. Let’s get a little further in, and we can set up sleeping bags and the like.” Alec nodded in agreement, still astounded by his surroundings. The two set up camp, Electivire lighting the area for them until Preston could send his Ursaring to fetch some branches of limber pine, which Alec then had Magby ignite, the orange embers spreading into a deep red fire. Preston pulled some loose smooth boulders from the cavern into some semblance of a circle around the fire and set a pot over it. “Now watch this,” he said, his eyes crinkling in a smile. The gray-haired man produced a Manaphy, the tiny blue imp filling the pot to the rim with crystal-clear pure water.

“Where did you get a Manaphy?” Alec asked, stunned. Preston merely smiled, shaking his head slightly. “Seriously, isn’t Manaphy super rare?” Before Alec could push the topic any further, Manaphy was back inside her Premier Ball, and Preston had moved the conversation away from the mystery.

“Logan was right on point back there, Alec.” The boy blinked, not quite sure what Preston meant. “Part of being a successful trainer is learning to play a Pokémon’s strengths, and how to cover for their weaknesses. The type match-up is only the first of many parts. Pupitar is going to be a completely different creature from Larvitar, but that doesn’t mean it’s useless.”

“I know that,” Alec said, slightly frustrated, “I’m not a toddler. I HAVE learned things, you know.”

Preston raised his eyebrows. “You have? Then you know that Pupitar will absolutely be able to sense you lack of faith in her ability.” Alec lowered his gaze. “And won’t that work wonders for her strength.” The boy nodded in glum response. “I’m not trying to tell you off, Alec. I just thought maybe the words of a retired gym leader might be -”

“No, this is helpful,” Alec said, his voice meek. “I never considered that Pupitar might feel she’s let me down somehow.”

Preston shifted so that his hands could stretch closer to the fire, rubbing the rough skin together. “You remind me a lot of me at your age, Alec.” Alec look surprised. “Oh, you’re certainly more headstrong. A little more reckless. But your eagerness, your commitment, your spirit...very similar.” Preston scratched at a spot on his leg, staring at the fire.

“I don’t have your skill,” Alec said.

“No,” Preston agreed, smiling. Alec’s face fell slightly; he’d hoped Preston would deny this statement immediately. “But nobody does until they’ve been a gym leader, seen and learned from so many different faces and battles.”

“I see,” Alec said. He rummaged through his bag, pulling out a water bottle and taking a prolonged sip.

“You know, Alec, I felt my heart skip a beat when Will first told me your name.”

Alec swallowed the water, considering this. “Why?” he asked finally, perplexed.

“Carrie wanted to name our child Alec, if it was a boy,” Preston answered softly.

“Was Carrie your wife?” Alec asked, knowing the answer already; Preston nodded. The boy looked the man full in the face for the first time, taking in the haggard stubbled cheeks, the bags under the eyes, the thick eyebrows and strong jaw; the eyes that only lived when they smiled. It was a face full of sadness, but also warmth, kindness.

“You said...IF it was a boy...did the baby turn out to be a girl?”

Preston smiled with his mouth, but his eyes remained gray and reserved. “I never met our child. Team Skye got to her first.” Alec did not know what to say to this; he reached hesitantly to pat Preston’s arm, but thought better of it. “You also grew up for a while right down the street from me,” Preston said. “Your grandmother used to borrow Teddiursa from me so you could have your fun with a Pokémon before you could legally own one.

Alec let out a noise of understanding and recognition. “Ursaring! THAT’S the Teddiursa from the beach?” Many things clicked for the young man at this moment. “You’re the tall guy with the pretty wife!” Preston smiled, nodding.

“She was beautiful.” The two sat a while by the fire in mostly silence, Alec reeling over the revelation. A falling stalactite and the scuttling of a Paras by the northern fork of the tunnel broke the energy of unspoken words swimming between the two; suddenly, Alec stood up.

“It’s been so long. Where are Chase and Logan?”

Preston reached into his bag, looking for his Poké Gear. “Here, call them,” he said, handing Alec the device. The boy took it, considering for a moment, before handing it back.

“I don’t want to interrupt...whatever they’re doing.” Preston raised his eyebrows again. “Treat others the way you want to be treated, I guess,” he continued. This elicited an impressed nod from the older man, who put the gear back in his bag. “So, you’ve seen some interesting things, huh?” Preston nodded, smiling and leaning back against the luminous boulder behind him. “Tell me the top five best battles you’ve ever had.”

Preston chuckled, running his right hand through his graying hair. “Where to begin?”

….....................................................................................

-2006-

Air was rushing by Chase’s stubbled face; he was falling, falling, forever falling, the ground far below yet immediately in front of him. He was going to crash! Wait a minute, he said, reason catching up with him, I don’t have stubble, I’m sixteen, I can’t GROW sexy old man stubble. “This is all a dream!” he yelled. A red-haired man sped past him, mounted on a six-winged fiery beast.

“If this were a dream, you’d be waking up right around...now!” the man said in a high, cold voice. Chase didn’t wake up; he kept falling in his old man body. The ground sped up at him, and then impact was made; except the ground wasn’t solid, in fact it was water. He was in the water! But I don’t have any way to stay afloat, he realized, Where’s Logan when you need her? Right on cue, the blonde-haired girl surfed up beside him. Chase realized neither he nor Logan were soaked; in fact, the water didn’t seem to be made of water at all.

“Can I catch a ride?” he shouted through gulps of water that wasn’t wet. Logan nodded, extending a beautiful pale arm and pulling him on her floatation device. Chase realized with a relief his body wasn’t old anymore, but he still had a beard. He and Logan floated along the dry sea wordlessly, although he had many things he wanted to say to her.

“Kira says you don’t love me,” he said, looking at his friend. Her eyes were larger than he remembered. Logan shook her head, her hair suddenly much shorter.

“I don’t love you. I love Tracey.” Chase’s heart skipped a beat. It skipped several beats, actually. In fact, his heart stopped beating altogether.

“You can’t love Tracey,” he complained, pointing to a motionless body floating just beyond his reach, “Tracey’s dead.”

Logan shook her head again, her expression not changing. “You were never supposed to come back to Kanto, Chase. You’ve killed us all.” Her hair grew long again, but suddenly it was deep ruby red, and her face sagged and grew agitated, as if a fire had ravaged it.

“We don’t deserve to be loved,” the girl with the burnt face said in a hollow voice, reaching out and grabbing Chase, pulling him towards her; he thought they were going to kiss, but suddenly he was passing through her body, burning with her, the flames excruciating.

The boy woke up still screaming and sweating, as if on fire. Logan was lying next to him, wide awake, watching him anxiously. “Chase? Chase? Are you alright?” Chase sat up, leaning over and throwing up on the bit of floor Logan wasn’t occupying. His face was drenched; he grabbed it immediately.

“No beard,” he said with a relief. His next thought was of Tracey, and he jumped up, looking around the tent wildly. Tracey was a small distance from him, curled up with Bulby and Quilber (his Quilava) wrapped in his arms. Logan placed a hand on Chase’s shoulder, brow furrowed in concern.

“Were you having another nightmare?” she asked, turning him to look at her, feeling his forehead. “Your fever’s breaking, thank goodness.” Chase shook his head wildly. Tracey stirred, disturbed by all the noise that was atypical of three a.m. in the deep south of Fuchsia City, the only area of Kanto completely removed from war. The three travelers had arrived in Kanto yesterday not via ferry, but by a small private biplane rented under Kira’s name.

“Chase? What’s wrong?” Tracey asked, rubbing his eyes. Chase was breathing slower, but his eyes jumped and he yelped at the sound of Tracey’s voice.

“Oh, thank god, you’re alive,” he said, kneeling down by his younger friend’s side and hugging him. Bulby coughed, rolling over and continuing his peaceful slumber.

“Of course I’m alive, why shouldn’t I be?” Tracey asked, alarmed. Logan was frowning at Chase.

“No reason, no reason. Sorry for waking you guys,” Chase muttered. He looked at the pile of vomit that had just recently parted with his stomach. “Do you want me to clean that up?” he asked guiltily.

“Chase...what happened in the dream?” Logan asked, her arms crossed and her eyes clouded, confused and afraid. This was so unlike Chase, who had been a complete wreck the past two days. Chase shook his head, going into his bag for some cleaning equipment. Logan bent down next to him, and Tracey crawled across the floor, so both trainers were looking Chase in the eye.

“Is it about Kira?” Tracey asked gently, not pushing. Chase shook his head, averting his eyes and going to scrub the floor.

“Why were you worried Tracey was dead?” Logan prompted.

Chase sighed, leaning back so that he was sitting on his heels. “It was a really bizarre dream, guys, I don’t think it meant anything. But...Tracey was floating. We were in the water, Logan, and Tracey was kind of...dead, facedown, hair swimming all around him, just beyond our reach.” Logan put her hands to her mouth. “It was lame,” Chase added, not looking Tracey in the eye. All three of them knew that Tracey held a great deal of store by dreams ever since his visit from Arceus.

“Did anything else happen, in this dream?” Tracey said, ignoring the detail about himself. Logan shot him a cryptic look.

Chase shook his head. “No, not really. Well. You told me we shouldn’t have come back,” he said, looking at Logan. “You said we were all going to die.” Tracey and Logan were silent. “Like I said...it was just a dream.” He couldn’t help feeling he had just borne witness to some sort of vision of the future, and the next morning did nothing to assuage his fear.

The three awoke to screams, flames, and the whirring of motors. Shells lit up the sky behind the Safari Zone. Fuchsia City had officially entered the war.

….....................................................................................

-2009-

Logan was a little ways ahead of Chase on the water, her Blastoise leaving Chase and his Starmie in its wake. The sky was almost too dark to see, save the many stars that were out, gems set in a velvety blue display, blazing forever in the endless night. Quite a bit of time had passed since leaving Preston and Alec; neither of them thought anything of it.

“Keep up!” she called back to Chase, who let out a moan.

“I can’t, Starmie’s tired!” he said, his voice breaking slightly.

“Yeah, yeah...Starmie,” Logan muttered, smiling in amusement and squeezing Blastoise’s shell gently with her legs, whispering “Slow down a little, bud,” in his ear. Chase’s wet mess of light hair soon floated up behind her, and soon they were side-by-side.

“YOU have the luxury of sitting on Blastoise’s back,” Chase said, spitting out a stream of seawater.

“Well, come on, then,” Logan said, shifting over. “There’s room for two.”

“Coulda said that a while ago,” Chase grumbled, grabbing onto the turtle’s shell and hoisting himself up. He shivered in the cool night, wringing his shirt out in chunks, dripping water everywhere. The young man motioned to Starmie that it could go swim on its own for a while. “It’s FREEZING!” he said, shaking his head and spraying water all over Logan, who cringed, laughing.

“Stop!” she cried. Chase obeyed, after one final flourish.

“We’re a long way from shore,” he said once he was satisfactorily dry. “We should probably go back soon.” The two did not show any indication of following this suggestion.

“Chase?” Logan asked after a while. The boy turned his stubbled face, which had been focused on the lighthouse, to his friend.

“What’s up?” he asked.

“Yesterday, you said you wanted to stop traveling with me. That I’m too caught up in the past. Is that...did you mean it?” Her blue eyes pierced, searching for the truth.

“I...I don’t know...if it’s the best idea,” Chase said, choosing his words carefully. “I think at this point you know how I feel for you. And I don’t think you’re ever going to move past Tracey.” Logan made to defend herself. “Don’t. I feel like things are just moving in circles with us, like a song on repeat. I love you, you love someone else, they’re unavailable...you settle for me.” Silence.

“Chase…”

“I don’t mind being second best. I could live with that, Logan, I could live my whole life with you knowing I wasn’t your first choice. But I don’t think...you could. I think you need to find somebody you love as much as...somebody you love,” he finished. Logan’s eyes were wet.

“That’s unfair, Chase. You’re...you’re putting a lot on me.” Her hand moved to touch his, but he pulled away. More silence passed. Chase heard a gentle sloshing sound that signaled Starmie’s return.

“We should head back,” he said, dipping his toe into the water to test the temperature again, making to swim back to Starmie. “Starmie, over here!” he called. No response. The lapping sound was closer, now, and there was definitely a form in the water with them, bobbing closer very fast.

Chase suddenly recalled a dream he had experienced vividly two-and-a-half years beforehand. He reached up to touch his bearded face in horror, and looked at Logan, then back at the water. There was a dark shape floating toward them, a body. Dirty-blonde hair spread from the skull, the clothing loose, the skin clammy. Chase felt a chill go down his spine that was quite unrelated to the night air.

“Tracey?” he whispered, petrified.
 
Last edited:

Glover

Pain in Rocket side
Glover, you are a god among mere mortals. That was an incredible catch-up marathon read that you just accomplished.
Well, I suppose a magician should never reveal his secrets, but aside from keeping odd hours of the night, this is what my laptop screen looks like. View attachment 10983

And yes, my laptop does have a seperate VGA port, think what I could do with SIX windows!!!

---
“I’ve tripped, fallen, bruised, and scratched myself enough for one day
That's what YOU think...

“How much longer til we reach the caves?”
I'm gonna go out on a limb and say "too long"

“Somebody could have told me!”
They did, you're a chump.

“I don’t eat white bread. It’s fine, I brought my own food.” He produced a RAGE candy bar and a powdered protein mix, which he proceeded to dump into a thermos of MooMoo Milk.
I'm not sure that qualifies as "food", but hey, some people need their sawdust...

“How did you become gym leader? I’ve always been fascinated. I know how to become a member of the Elite Four, you need to beat the League Championships of at least three different regions, and then -”

“Four,” Chase interrupted. Alec looked at him, nonplussed.

“Hm?”

“Four league championships. You need to beat at least four region’s tourneys, plus face off against the already existing Elite Four and champion.” He seemed slightly bitter as he said this, a scowl darkening his fair features.

“Chase was very close to achieving this status,” Logan said softly, “he’s won three championships and fought two of the current Elite Four.”
Intriguinging. You and I had similar theores on League admittance.

“Can I battle you?” Alec blurted out. Preston blinked, taken aback.
Very "Ash Ketchy" moment there. prepare to be polishing rocks with your face...

“It’s all very well. This just proves what I should have realized long ago. When you want something done, do it yourself.”
Welp, she's written off...

Not literLLY, but looks like she's no longer his most trusted agent...

Gabriel turned to look out on the just-setting sun. “Oh, and remember.” He reached out his arm for Mandibuzz, not looking back. “Not a soul gets hurt.”
Interesting that you'd say this, considering that you tried to drop a guy form a mandibuzz two minutes ago.

he had been so focused on raising Machop’s muscular strength he had forgotten to worry about defense
This seems aout right,

“Machop is unable to battle,” Chase said almost immediately.
... and so does that.

Nature Power was a move unfamiliar to Alec
Me too.

---
I approve

but Sceptile seemed beyond the ability to play - his eyes were jaundiced and saggy, his jade skin papery and hanging off his dreadfully thin frame. Tracey followed Chase’s gaze, staring at Sceptile and sitting up very quickly.
Poor thing,

Kira was found and the medics summoned,
Who's Kira?

“Snivy?! Do you think,” he said, his voice quivering, “that I could EVER look at that snake as anything other than a cheap knockoff of his dad?”
OUCH. But probably.

But...this middle stage is so frustrating.” He kicked another rock.
Proving once again he;s a short-sighted rainer. One, Pupitar have a much needed Defense in his team. Two, the fact that they levitate means speed. Three, I've always seent he little leg protrusions as foot pedals... not unlike those of a motorccle. They lean, forawards, and there's enough mask to grab onto...

And at least in the anime, Pupitar can be very fast. A good defense is never ale to actually be hit by anything.

Look at me, rambling like Alec can even hear me.

But I just had to...play to his strengths. You know?”
Which is, what exactly? Spin the Bottle, Perhaps?

“We won’t be too long,” Chase said, beginning to walk in the direction Preston had motioned, “Just enough time to...sort things out.” He turned, looking to Logan and beginning the descent.
Gee, I seem to remember Alec saying that... and then he was Introduced to Natalia, and a pair of gentlemen by the names of "Smith" and "Wesson".

“Tracey had a dream -”
...the tailor Mottel Kamzoil

“Oh, yes, a special dream, well I guess that is reason to throw ourselves back into the fire.”
I'm with the new girl on this one.

“You’ll always be my first love,” he said, and he meant it. Kira nodded.

“But not your last,” she said. Chase stood up, and buttoned the top button of his jacket. “Call me sometime, will you?” she continued, as he made to leave. Chase turned, nodding and smiling gently at Kira.

“The moment we get back.”
Love this scene, touching and well written. But even if his body touches soil, he'll never be back.

“And you don’t hate me for bringing us to Johto? I know you were enjoying Unova, and I know you hate being dragged around while I do my thing,” he said, looking at her. She looked so different from when he had first met her;
Really enjoying this look into relationships on the road in a Pokemon world. We don't get that much.

Logan threw her orb, releasing her Blastoise right into the water. The large turtle Pokémon seemed momentarily disoriented
News article, the Olivine Times "Blastoise drowns in sea."
In all seriusness though, with as attentive as you are aout Pokemon being new to their surroundings, drowning seems like a valid concern,

“Do we have a flashlight, or something?” Alec asked, pulling out his Poké Gear and using the small light embedded in the top to look at Preston.
What could be better than a flashlight?

. “Electivire, give us some light.” The Pokémon growled, rubbing his two black cable-like tails together, producing a shower of sparks that crackled and spit. Eventually a low humming resounded steadily through the tunnel, and Electivire glowed, illuminating the entire cavern.
Clever detailing, but I aska gain, what's better than a flashlight? For one, you can club Zubats with it.

And doesn't Magby know Flash?

“I know that,” Alec said, slightly frustrated, “I’m not a toddler. I HAVE learned things, you know.”

Preston raised his eyebrows. “You have? Then you know that Pupitar will absolutely be able to sense you lack of faith in her ability.”
Voice of reason

Preston smiled with his mouth, but his eyes remained gray and reserved. “I never met our child. Team Skye got to her first.” Alec did not know what to say to this; he reached hesitantly to pat Preston’s arm, but thought better of it. “You also grew up for a while right down the street from me,” Preston said. “Your grandmother used to borrow Teddiursa from me so you could have your fun with a Pokémon before you could legally own one.
Its a small world, after all...

“We don’t deserve to be loved,” the girl with the burnt face said in a hollow voice, reaching out and grabbing Chase, pulling him towards her; he thought they were going to kiss, but suddenly he was passing through her body, burning with her, the flames excruciating.
that'll be Natalia. I'm enjoying the cross stitch you've got going between the characters

“I don’t mind being second best. I could live with that, Logan, I could live my whole life with you knowing I wasn’t your first choice. But I don’t think...you could. I think you need to find somebody you love as much as...somebody you love,” he finished. Logan’s eyes were wet.
If only you knew what he'd done for you,

and he's still dreaming...
 

Bulba the Great!

We Do Not Sow
I'm not sure that qualifies as "food", but hey, some people need their sawdust...

Surprisingly, some people do live this way. *coughmysixthgradehistoryteachercough*

Intriguinging. You and I had similar theores on League admittance.

I just figured it was time somebody lay out the formal rules of league acceptance. Glad we see eye-to-eye!

Who's Kira?

Hmm, perhaps I should have set her up better? I did introduce her with the descriptor of "Chase's girlfriend", but I do suppose she seems to come from a bit left-field for those who have only read this story. She's a carry-over from Destined. I just didn't want to BORED anyone with too much exposition!

Proving once again he;s a short-sighted rainer. One, Pupitar have a much needed Defense in his team. Two, the fact that they levitate means speed. Three, I've always seent he little leg protrusions as foot pedals... not unlike those of a motorccle. They lean, forawards, and there's enough mask to grab onto...

Ahahaha a use sure to come in handy, that motorcycle idea.

Which is, what exactly? Spin the Bottle, Perhaps?

Oh my god I'm laughing so hard.

Gee, I seem to remember Alec saying that... and then he was Introduced to Natalia, and a pair of gentlemen by the names of "Smith" and "Wesson".

Nothing good ever happens when you wander off in this world.

...the tailor Mottel Kamzoil

I could kiss you.

Love this scene, touching and well written. But even if his body touches soil, he'll never be back.

Quite perceptive. Tis very true.

Really enjoying this look into relationships on the road in a Pokemon world. We don't get that much.

I'm glad you find them interesting; I certainly do.

News article, the Olivine Times "Blastoise drowns in sea."
In all seriusness though, with as attentive as you are aout Pokemon being new to their surroundings, drowning seems like a valid concern,

I'm not writing that out of the realm of possibility...

Clever detailing, but I aska gain, what's better than a flashlight? For one, you can club Zubats with it.

VERY valid point.

And doesn't Magby know Flash?

Will-o-Wisp; surprisingly can't learn Flash.

that'll be Natalia. I'm enjoying the cross stitch you've got going between the characters

So glad you picked up on that. Dreams can be telling...

and he's still dreaming...

Not exactly.
Thanks for the time, Glover!
 

Bulba the Great!

We Do Not Sow
Earth, Air, Water, Fire

Chapter Ten

Purpleheart Tunnel’s first antechamber echoed with ritualistic grunts and shouts, quite alien to the usually silent cavern. Alec was in full-blown workout mode; Preston watched with amusement as the trainer pumped out set after set of push-ups, squats, crunches and planks, Machop keeping pace next to him. The small gray Pokémon was again locked into the Macho Brace, crying out every now and again. Preston couldn’t help pitying him slightly; the tears gathering in his wide eyes, the sweat pooling around the creases in his forehead and between the ridges that protruded from his otherwise bare skull, all to please his trainer seemed excessive to the more experienced trainer. He kept his mouth shut, though.

Preston was writing in his journal, making new notes and observations about the landscape, when a ringing interrupted the sounds of Alec and Machop’s routine. Alec stopped mid-squat, blinking at Preston, disoriented.

“Is that you?” Preston asked, referring to the two bags lying by the fire. Another ring cut through the cave, and Preston swiftly crossed to the bags, Alec wiping his forehead and allowing himself a long swig of water from the bottle Machop held up for him. The trainer let out a long exhale and handed the bottle back, allowing his Pokémon a grateful sip as well.

“Who is it?” the young man asked.

Preston shook his head, digging fruitlessly through Alec’s bag. “Where do you keep your Poké Gear?” he asked.

“That’s not mine that’s ringing,” Alec said, still catching his breath, “someone must be calling you.”

Preston paused, a shadow crossing his tired face. “Who would be calling at this hour?” he wondered, shifting his attention to his own large rucksack. He produced his Poké Gear, a slightly older model than Alec’s, and looked at it, frowning. “Oh, it’s Logan.” He hit a button, allowing the video screen to light up. Alec, whose face lit up at the mention of Logan’s name, crossed so he could see the screen as well. The pale face and piercing blue eyes were unmistakable; however, her expression was quite foreign, a mixture of terror and disgust.

“Preston?” she asked. Her voice came out unnaturally high.

“Logan, is everything okay? Do you need help finding the tunnel’s entrance?” Preston looked quite alarmed at the haunted expression on the girl’s face.

“No...no, um...Preston, Alec, I think...I think you need to come to the cape,” she said, looking to her right; Chase’s voice could be heard in the background. Logan muttered something to her friend offscreen and nodded, passing the Poké Gear to him. The young man’s bearded face was haggard, his eyes dead.

“Preston, we were out swimming, and...well, we found something by the lighthouse.”

The lines on Preston’s forehead deepened in concern at this statement. “What did you find, Chase?” The camera shook, the picture blurring in a jerky, disorienting manner as Chase turned it downward. Alec caught a brief glimpse of pale pink beach, dark water lapping at a jetty that extended into the sea, and the Olivine Lighthouse in the top right corner, until finally the image focused again on its new target. Preston glanced warily at Alec, whose expression changed from mild curiosity to absolute shock.

Stretched out on a jet-black rock, limp, swollen and soggy, was Amber Janson’s body. Her skin was mottled and clammy, her lips blue, her eyes open, empty. She was unmistakably dead.

It took half an hour to sprint from the tunnels to the halfway point Chase and Logan agreed to meet at. This window of time seemed both freakishly quick and nightmarishly long to Alec. Images kept flashing through his head of his years of tech school with Amber. These were mixed with a ghastly composite image he had created in his mind; the last time he had seen her, alive and bound on the floor of the Olivine Lighthouse, but soaking and pale, her eyes empty, already dead, her soul long gone. Preston jogged at a safe distance behind the young man, allowing him space to absorb the loss of his childhood friend.

Chase and Logan’s silhouettes were barely visible in the dusk, but it was near impossible to miss them amidst the slate-and-ebony rocks they had come to rest on. Alec slowed down when he caught sight of them, and for one brief, hopeful moment, it seemed the only bodies present were their living ones. As he drew closer, his eyes caught on the prone, waxy figure lying on a flat ledge behind them; it seemed they had carried Amber from the beach.

“Alec!” Logan jumped up, her eyes trained warily on the boy. He certainly did seem younger; the death of his childhood friend seemed to have caused a temporary digression in maturity - his eyes were wide, unsure, lost-looking. Logan ran to him, pulling him into a gentle embrace, patting his back. Chase walked to meet Preston, who had stopped a respectful distance from the body. The two turned away from the scene; a sob broke the silence behind them.

“Where exactly did you find her?” Preston muttered, his voice level.

Chase stole a glance back at the embracing pair and shuddered. “Her body was floating face down about a half mile off the cliff-face where the lighthouse is. I didn’t know who or what I was seeing at first...we pulled her body onto Logan’s Blastoise and checked for signs of life. And...well, obviously…” He trailed off.

Preston ran his fingers through his hair. “Do you think she was murdered? If I’m not mistaken, this was that girl Gabriel had tied up in the lighthouse during the raid…”

“She must have been. Her neck is bent in a really weird way, it looks like it’s been broken. And there are bruises all over her arms. Honestly, I’m surprised she held together so well...her body, I mean.” Alec and Logan had moved to join them; Alec appeared to have calmed down. His face was pulled into a sort of grimace, but there was no sign of tears.

“We went to school together,” Alec said, although he was fairly certain he had mentioned this to every person in the group at some point. Logan rubbed his back, Preston gripped his shoulder, and Chase attempted to appear sorry, only somewhat successful.

After a moment of silence for the deceased girl, Preston looked to his right, toward Olivine.

“Somebody’s going to have to take her body back to the city. I hate to delay our journey any longer but...it’s really the only decent thing to do.”

“I’ll go,” Alec said immediately.

Preston looked sharply at the youth. “No you will not. You need to be kept away from major cities as long as possible. Shake Gabriel off your scent.” Alec frowned at this, but Preston had turned his eyes to Chase. “I think it’s clear who it needs to be.”

Chase immediately protested. “Why me? Why not…” But the dots had all connected in his head; Logan wouldn’t leave Alec alone, not with her ‘Forever and Always’ policy. “Fine, okay. I’ll take the body. But I won’t like it.”

Preston nodded, giving Chase an appraising look. “Very good. I think I’d better go with you, though,” he said cautiously, looking at Logan and Alec, wheels turning in the older man’s head. “Yes, I’ll have to. They’ll want a figure of authority to explain the situation.”

“I’m a legally grown man, you know, I’m turning twenty in May,” Chase said dryly, but Preston ignored him, crossing instead so he stood in front of Alec, who was staring with morbid fascination at Amber’s soggy pale body.

“Alec,” he said, again taking the young man’s shoulder, “listen to me. The man who brutally murdered this girl is after you. I’m so sorry for your loss...trust me, we’ll take care that she is well taken care of. But, listen to me, are you listening? You have to hide. You and Logan, and that item in your bag...take Logan to the Purpleheart tunnels, and stay in there until we return. Okay? Promise me.”

Alec still stared silently at the body, but he nodded his head. His normally sea-green eyes had muddied, clouded over so they seemed to be a deep brown, almost black. Preston squeezed his shoulder and turned to Logan, but found she and Chase were talking softly a safe distance away. Preston cleared his throat and Logan jerked, looking guiltily at him.

“You two had your time to talk at the cape. We need to get moving, and now, while we at least have the cover of dark. This business shouldn’t take half a day. Chase...” He beckoned to the young man, who looked at Logan before crossing to stand with Preston. Logan quietly aligned herself with Alec. “Good. I suppose...yes, I’ll carry the body.” Preston said this quietly and delicately as possible, glancing at Alec, who made a point to stare at the mountains in the distance.

Preston scooped Amber’s body up in his strong arms, quickly and cleanly, and began walking toward Olivine City, Chase in tow. “We’ll be back by morning,” the older man promised, turning back to look at Alec and Logan. “Logan?” The blonde’s weary gaze met his. “Keep him safe,” he said, and Logan was surprised to hear a slight quaver in his voice, as of fear. This, more than anything, scared her. The tall man turned back, his powerful silhouette loping towards the city, strangely lopsided with Amber in his arms. Chase waved grimly at his friends before following a good ten yards behind.

If he or Preston had been more observant, they would have noticed the shadowy figure dodging out of sight just as they reached her hiding spot. Natalia watched the two walk by from behind a large stone formation, eyes wide. Gabriel had not told her about Amber Janson’s death. His words echoed through her head: “Deception is an art, only to be used sparingly as a means to an end.” She had been confused at this, so he clarified, “Don’t lie to somebody if you want their undying trust and devotion. Lie, if you must, to get what you want. But also do not be so foolish as to ever truly trust somebody other than yourself. Trust is weak. Lying is cheap. Simple enough for you?”

This withholding of truth, that he had murdered an innocent girl, was the first time he’d ever deceived her...or was it? Did he not trust her with the truth? He shouldn’t, she thought bitterly. I don’t even trust myself with it.

….....................................................................................

-2000-

Natalia glanced at her watch before stealing into the house; she was an hour later than she had intended. Fortunately, her parents seemed to have retired to bed early; there hadn’t been any lights on upstairs, even in the guest room, in which her grandmother had taken permanent residence. She padded across the foyer light as a Skitty, her senses alight as they always were recently; ever since her father had taken ill her paranoia had escalated to extreme heights. She placed her coat on the rack in the small welcome room and entered the main house, the door clicking ever so slightly as she turned the greasy knob.

She was met at front landing by the family’s Poochyena, Shadow, who yipped twice. “Shh, shh, hi Shadow, hey there,” she said, bending down to pet her, placing her hand on the dog’s muzzle and stroking her grizzled coat of grey-and-black fur, causing the Pokémon to close her yellow eyes and kick her back leg involuntarily, satisfied.

“Talia?” croaked a male voice. Natalia froze, panic shooting through her entire body. The hall lamp switched on, throwing warm orange light across the sickly face of her father, who had apparently been waiting in the kitchen for her. She stood up, her palms clammy and her heart racing. Shadow pawed at her leg for more attention; Natalia ignored this.

“Hey, dad. Sorry I’m late, I -” Her words were cut short as he pulled her into a tight embrace.

“I missed you today. It was a bad one,” he said, and she could hear it in his voice; it was thick with phlegm and disease. She also caught a whiff of something strong on his breath: cough syrup or alcohol, or (as it was likely), both.

“I missed you, too, Dad,” she said, reaching her thin hands up to take his beefy arms and pull back, looking critically at his sagging face. “You look fine to me,” she lied.

“Did you get your paycheck today?” he asked, turning the kitchen light on and leading his fifteen-year-old daughter to the kitchen island.

Natalia paused, hesitant to answer. “No, um, Jacob paid me in cash again,” she said, producing a large wad of money. Her father tried to whistle; his chapped lips couldn’t produce the noise, so he clucked his tongue instead.

“My little Nat-ta-ta, making all the money! And under the counter, now that’s smart,” he said, touching his nose and crinkling his eyes conspiratorially, “you’ve always been too smart for me, Talia. I suppose that’s why you’re working in a lab and I’m not.” He sighed, placing the money on the counter and counting the bills. Natalia watched his face carefully. “This really is a lot of money, Arceus’ Plates! All this for opening Tympoles up?” His small eyes looked at her.

“Yeah, Jacob pays good,” she said quietly.

“Well, I’ll owe him a big old favor when I get my strength back,” her father said, his mouth cracking into a smile, his fat cheeks forming the two wonderful dimples that usually filled Natalia with warmth; now they made her feel nothing but misery. “Bad day for you, too?” he asked gently.

Natalia’s eyes were shiny with tears. “Yeah, just...probably the weather or something. I don’t know,” she said, eyes focused on the patterned floor.

“I know what you need.” Her father crossed to the cabinet by the sink, producing two mugs. “Some hot cider with cinnamon.” Natalia’s face broke into a grateful smile, and she nodded. Her father always seemed to know how to cheer her up. He pulled some cider from the fridge while Natalia found the cinnamon in the back corner of the spices rack, and the two converged again at the counter.

“Hey, dad?” she said, her voice shaky.

“That’s my name,” he said, smiling broadly, his eyes sparkling.

“I love you,” she said, burying her head in his shoulder. He rubbed her back gently.

“Hey, hey, let it out,” he said soothingly. Her small body shook, her long ruby-red hair getting caught in her mouth as she cried. “What’s wrong, honey?” he asked, frowning slightly. She looked into his warm brown eyes and swallowed a lump in her throat. She took off her glasses to rub her eyes dry, silent. “Is it a boy? I know you don’t like talking about boy stuff with us,” he said, teasing.

“It’s nothing,” Natalia said, adding another lie to the growing pile of deceptions she’d used in the past two months. But she didn’t have the heart to tell her father the truth, that she had been caught stealing from Jacob, that she’d been unemployed the past month, that she’d needed to continue stealing for her father’s welfare. She looked him in the eye, the look of genuine concern and affection on his face making her sick.

He can’t ever know the truth, she thought. She took a sip of her cider.

….....................................................................................

-2009-

“Do you really want to go back to the caves?” Alec asked, stumbling slightly on a loose patch of gravel. “I don’t. They’re nice to look at and all, but they’re so stuffy.”

Logan sighed but did not answer. She looked at him for a long time, studying his face as they continued climbing uphill. “How are you dealing? With...Amber, it is?” Alec nodded. “Amber’s death. When Tracey died...I was an absolute MESS.”

Alec’s ears perked up at this; Logan had seemed uncomfortable discussing the subject of Tracey earlier. He supposed the death of his old friend had opened a new window of opportunity as far as dead people were concerned. “How did you deal with the pain?” he asked.

Logan shook her head. “I honestly don’t remember much from those months. Something snapped, I think, for a long time. Chase hasn’t really been helpful at filling in the blanks,” she said, shrugging. “Talk to me, Alec. I care about you, I want you to feel like you can trust me.”

Alec tugged at his jacket sleeve. “I do...trust you,” he said hesitantly. “I just...don’t want to think about it, I guess? Death is weird for me. It’s like, she’s dead. We were friends, once, and then we weren’t. And I mean...I don’t know. Tell me a story.” Logan looked quizzically at him. “Not a sad one. A fun story,” he added, and Logan suddenly marvelled at his understanding that dwelling on grief does nothing more than dig a grave of depression deeper and deeper, until the outside world becomes unreachable.

“Okay...okay, well. Hm. Well,” she said, smiling a little, “I’ll tell you one about Tracey. Chase is in it, too! See, we travelled through Kanto mostly, before the war. Chase had just begun his first real attempt at growing a beard.” She laughed. “He was dating a girl named Kira at the time and she hated the ‘beard’. She also didn’t like travelling, so Chase would have to return to Celadon City once every week, as well as nightly video dates on his Poké Gear. Kira got on Tracey’s nerves. So, one night, as a prank, Tracey made sure Chase was distracted...he asked Chase to cook dinner for once, and Chase…” She shook her head, beaming now. “Chase could not cook. Arceus’ Plates he was awful. Anyway, so while Chase was doing that, Tracey and I stole his Poké Gear and brought it into our tent. Kira called; it rang three times before Tracey decided to pick up. And he said, ‘Oh, Chase is busy. He’s shaving his beard because he knows you hate it.’” Logan’s smile was infectious, her eyes alive with excitement. “Well, Chase heard our voices and came in, fuming that we stole the Gear from him. And Kira saw he still had that stupid patch of hairs and began yelling, and they both began screaming about the most...mundane things. Chase was red in the face,” she said, giggling.

Alec smiled. “And?”

“And?” Logan looked nonplussed. “Well...and it was really funny!”

Alec laughed charitably, although Logan could tell he had not actually found the story amusing. The two had reached Purpleheart’s entrance, still hidden by brush and the added dark shadows of night.

“Here we are,” Alec said, pulling a branch aside to reveal the entrance. His eyes shot to the right suddenly. “Did you hear that?”

“What?” Logan asked, looking around. Alec continued staring at a spot beyond sight. “Come on, Alec, let’s go! Preston said -”

“I know. Alright, let’s go.” Alec’s Poké Gear rang. They both stared at his bag for a long moment, allowing it to ring. Alec pulled the phone out, frowning. “It’s...it’s not a video call.” He put the device to his ear, eyes narrowed. “Hello?”

“Who is it?” Logan asked immediately. Alec waved her off, plugging his left ear and listening.

“I miss you, too,” he said loudly, turning and walking a few steps away from the entrance. “It’s my mom,” he whispered to Logan. “Go on in and set up your stuff. The fire should still be functional.” Logan looked concerned, but Alec took another few steps away. “Yeah, yeah, I’m fine,” he said, looking at Logan and gesturing impatiently for her to go inside.

“Five minutes,” Logan said, and she didn’t move until Alec nodded begrudgingly. Appeased, the blonde girl climbed inside, her own Poké Gear outstretched, its flashlight application switched on. Alec watched her enter the tunnel completely before sprinting away from the entrance, out of hearing range.

“What do YOU want?” he asked.

“I hear you discovered your friend (Amber, was it?) washed up on the beach, dead.” Gabriel’s musical voice floated from the Poké Gear. “I want you to know, that was not me. As we continue to negotiate -”

“I’m not ever negotiating with you,” Alec said firmly.

“...the ownership of the Rainbow Wing,” Gabriel continued, unperturbed, “I want you to feel you can trust I won’t kill anyone.” The special care he took to say ‘kill’ made Alec uneasy.

“Who told you about Amber?” Alec asked.

There was an amused sigh on the other end. “Alec, you ask all the wrong questions. Why not ask, ‘what next?’ ‘What do you want from me?’ ‘What’s your master plan?’” The man’s voice laughed, and what was unsettling was how normal it sounded; he didn’t sound unhinged or crazy in the least. Alec heard another noise come from the same area as earlier.

“You sent someone to get me,” Alec said, peering around carefully.

“No, Alec, I did not. I don’t even know where you are right now,” Gabriel said innocently. He sounded honest...Alec paused. There was definitely a crunching sound coming from his right.

“I don’t know what you wan -” Alec’s question was cut short by a streak of purple as a Crobat shot by him, grabbing his Poké Gear, swooping around in a circle and returning to its red-haired owner. Natalia stood, eyes focused on Alec, a look of complete empathy on her face, hands held up, empty.

….....................................................................................

-2002-

Natalia’s father was dying; that much had been clear to her since the beginning of the year. It did not come as any less of a shock when it was announced he had twelve hours to live at the hospital. The seventeen-year-old girl was led into his ward at the Blackthorn Hospital by his nurse, her stepmother at her side. Claudia was Hector Solos’ third and final wife, a woman with curly orange hair and too much make-up. Natalia had never liked her much, and the lack of support the woman provided for her father had sealed the deal; she had made the decision upon the announcement of his imminent death. Natalia was going to run away.

“Nat-ta-ta, is that you?” His voice was almost a whisper. His skin was yellowed, his eyes unfocused.

“It’s me, dad, and Claudia’s here too,” Natalia said. She hung back; she did not enjoy seeing her father in this state. Her stepmother rushed to his side, reaching out and grabbing at his now-thin hands. Hector had lost upward of eighty pounds in the past year, another side-effect of his illness. His skin hung in great folds around the neck and arms.

“How are you, boo?” Claudia hugged his head to her chest.

“I’ve been fatter,” he replied, his eyes locked on his daughter, a hint of the old sparkle in his small black eyes. He shook his wife’s clawing hands off his and reached out for his daughter. “C’mere, Talia, don’t hang in the shadows like that.”

Natalia took a hesitant step forward. “Did you get my card?” she asked quietly, taking her glasses off and wiping her eyes. Her father nodded, smiling weakly and indicating his powder-blue pillow.

“Wouldn’t be able to sleep without it,” he chuckled, the chuckle erupting into a round of coughs, his chest heaving and his head shooting off the pillow. He clutched at the surgically white blankets and writhed in pain.

Claudia shot an angry look at Natalia and looked back at her husband. “Take it easy, now, honey,” she said, but he shook his head.

“Claudia, leave me with Natalia, please.” Both women’s ears perked at this; it was the first time he had used Natalia’s proper name in a very long time. Claudia stood stiffly, reaching out and stroking his balding head before walking out of the room, throwing a look over her shoulder at Natalia. “Come closer, dear,” he said, his voice a whisper.

Natalia came to his side, bending down so that their eyes were level. “So...you read everything in there?” she asked hesitantly.

Her father nodded. “That was very brave of you to tell me, Talia. And I have to say, I have never been prouder of you.” His chapped lips split into a genuine smile.

“You aren’t angry at me? I stole from a lot of people, dad, isn’t that bad?”

The fading man shook his dead, eyes staring at the ceiling. “Way I see it, Laurie, there’s too much bad in the world to live a purely good life.” Natalia quietly ignored the fact that he had called her by his first wife’s name and grabbed his right hand, just the gentlest of touches. “It was noble of you to do that for me, focus on the good in your actions, Ana.” The name of his second wife.

“I’m just worried, dad, I’m so worried, I’ve been stealing all this for you, it’s become a habit, what if it doesn’t stop? What if -” she stopped to swallow, choking back tears, “...what if, this is just step one? When you’re gone…” She steeled herself. “When you’re gone, what if I keep stealing, get worse?”

Hector Solos coughed again. A dribble of saliva was caught under his lower lip and dripping down his chin; Natalia reached for a tissue, dabbing at it gently, wondering if he was still hearing her.

“Talia, I know you.” This was nothing more than the barest of breaths, his lips hardly moving. He reached and held her face in his hand; she closed her eyes, burying her face in his shrunken grip. His next words were very clear. “You’re a good person.”

“Am I?” she asked quietly.

He had fallen asleep; he would never wake up to answer that question.

….....................................................................................

-2009-

The Olivine police station was still experiencing a rather high amount of cleanup activity, dealing with the aftermath of the Team Skye siege a few days beforehands. When J.T. Preston, the city’s former gym leader, walked in the front entrance with a wet, pale corpse and a white-haired youth in tow, there was a general outcry by the officers on duty, as well as from the people milling about the damages counter.

A report was filed and Amber’s body was rushed to the coroner immediately. After making certain the homicide had not, in fact, been committed by Preston or Chase, Officer Reinhart informed them Amber’s death was officially the police’s business, and that the two were free to go.

“Do you really think it could’ve been anyone other than Gabriel, Reinhart?” Preston asked.

The officer shook his head. “It’s hard to say. Official record is that the girl was held captive in the lighthouse, and that when the building was investigated after Team Skye’s attack, Gabriel and the girl were missing. Jasmine was unconscious, tied up and bruised. She has no recollection of anything occurring after a certain point in time, at which point Gabriel and Amber were both still present.” Reinhart sighed, stroking his dark goatee and adjusting his cap, looking at the two men apologetically and shrugging. “We’ll let you know if we find anything out.”

And so Chase and Preston began the trek back to the Olivine mountains, Preston insisting they keep a brisk pace.

“It’s such a shame, about Amber. That poor girl,” Preston said, shaking his head, keeping his gray eyes focused on the dark cliffs in the distance.

Chase nodded, burying his hands in his pockets. “I feel bad for Alec,” he said. Preston raised his eyebrows. “What?” Chase asked.

“I think that’s the biggest show of compassion I’ve heard from you so far, Chase.”

Chase looked at his feet. “Yeah, well.”

The two made good time to the base of the rocky slopes, mostly in silence. Preston kept glancing at Chase, who seemed determined to avoid the older man’s gaze.

“Chase, do you mind if I say something?”

Chase shrugged. “I can’t stop you.” He kept walking, his muddy white trainers pounding on the crumbling rocks with unnecessary force.

“Why the act? You insist on keeping this facade of anger and irritation and heard-headedness towards everyone. What are you guarding?” Chase didn’t answer. “Nobody human is as hard as you’re being toward Alec, and frankly you haven’t been too kind to me, either.”

Chase stopped walking. Preston followed suit, studying the younger man’s blank face. “Is it Logan? You two seemed to have a lot to talk about when you left for the cape,” he said, again waiting for any response from the trainer.

The mention of Logan’s name seemed to trigger something; Chase’s jaw clenched, cheekbones drawn and nostrils flaring. “I don’t have to tell you anything,” he said.

“No, you don’t,” Preston said simply.

“Okay, it’s just, Logan. Logan,” the young man said, her name carrying ten emotions at once. “We’ve been travelling together for almost five years now. And I’ve been there for her through everything. We watched the entire war, we survived it together. We’ve been to Kanto, Hoenn, Unova, and now Johto. We’ve dated, we’ve...you know...kissed, more than kissed, SUPER kissed,” he said, adding a gesture for emphasis, eliciting a chuckle from Preston, “and after all that, it always comes back to Tracey. She loved him, in a way I don’t think she’ll ever love me. And he died, and, well, that was very sad, but some small part of me, some evil part of me thought, “Well, now he’s out of the picture.” And everything should’ve been great. But then she started pining for him. And then we found you guys,” he said, pointing to Preston, “and now, oh of course, now it’s all about Alec. ‘Let’s protect Alec, what does Alec think, are you okay with this, Alec?’ And, well…” he trailed off, looking guilty, but setting his face and saying it, “When do I get my turn?”

Preston’s face had softened during the story, and Chase avoided eye contact, afraid to see pity etched into the man’s lined face. But when he looked up finally, all he saw was a face full of understanding. “Chase, when was the last time you hugged someone?”

This was not the response Chase had expected at all. “Um...I don’t know? What?”

“I figured as much.” Preston reached out, taking Chase’s shoulder with his broad hand, and much to Chase’s astonishment, pulled him into a hug. Chase did not reciprocate, too surprised at this uncalled-for embrace.

“Chase,” the older man said gruffly, “I know how you feel.” He stepped back, smiling, his eyes flickering with warmth. “You know, they say that to be happy, the average person needs to have real human contact a minimum of five times a day. It lets you know that you’re not alone.” This struck Chase as very deep and very unnecessary. “You are a young boy -”

“Man,” Chase corrected immediately.

“...sorry, man, a young man in love. And that can be quite difficult.” Preston’s eyes crinkled. “Because girls can be real *****es sometimes.”

….....................................................................................

Natalia had not done a thing to Alec this time; no guns, no threats of attack. She merely stood, her hands up, Crobat hovering next to her, and requested that Alec follow her a safe distance from the Purpleheart Tunnels. Alec obliged, more curious than anything. Something seemed to have changed about her, almost imperceptibly; she seemed stronger, more in control of her actions. She was also no longer wearing a Team Skye jumpsuit; this had been discarded in favor of a very pretty, if plain, white sun dress, which seemed out of place in the autumn air, but as Alec reasoned, I’m not a girl, what do I know?

The young woman stopped near a small lake embedded in the rocky slopes, a pool collected from rainwater and high tide that seemed to siphon into the sea eventually. A lone Remoraid swam circles in the pool, its pale blue scales shimmering, oblivious to the humans standing a few yards away. Moonlight refracted off the water in a very pretty way, causing Alec the smallest of half smiles before he looked back at Natalia; her cocoa-brown eyes staring at him steadily. She really was very pretty, although he knew her face was a constructed mask of make-up; he remembered what he had seen underneath.

“How’s your head?” he asked, suddenly remembering the brutal pummeling his now-Pupitar had given her. She reached up, touching her flaming ruby hair and patting the scalp area.

“Gabriel healed it up,” she said.

Alec froze at mention of his name. “Your wonderful leader killed my only friend from school. Is killing kids a thing for you guys? Just some casual pastime?”

Natalia shook her head very fast at this. “No, Alec, and it’s very important you know this; he did NOT kill Amber. He left her to join the fight in the city.”

Alec cocked his head, confused. “Well then how did she…?”

“I think she killed herself, Alec. Jumped from the lighthouse, or something. Just speculation.” Natalia seemed quite sure of her answer, so Alec allowed this to pass, figuring he would come back to it later.

“Gabriel said he hadn’t sent anyone to find me.” His hand went to his belt, gently tracing his Machop’s Poké Ball.

“Well, no, he didn’t. He was telling the truth, Alec.” It still felt odd to the young man to hear his name from her lips; villains don’t say your name so kindly, he thought. “I came on my own. I’ve been trying to talk to you for some time, Alec, because I need to warn you. This is me talking; Gabriel does not want me personally interacting with you, he calls me ‘too sympathetic’. Ever since I failed to get the Rainbow Wing from you at the gym, he’s been hesitant to trust me with anything. He made me swear not to meddle, actually.”

Alec narrowed his eyes. “Why?”

Natalia shook her head. “I don’t know. But Alec, I have limited time. He thinks I’m stealing fresh supplies from Ecruteak; he’ll get suspicious if I’m gone more than a certain number of hours.”

Alec still was not sure if he trusted this woman. But she didn’t seem to be armed…

“Prove you don’t have any weapons,” he said, his grip on the Poké Ball tightening. Maybe he would just sic Machop on her anyway. Natalia spun, showing there were no concealed pockets on her sun dress, keeping her hands up. “Okay. What do you need to tell me?”

“Alec, it’s something you need to tell me. Is there anybody in the world that you would put your absolute faith in, hands down?”

Alec’s answered immediately, without hesitation: “Myself.”

Natalia nodded, choosing to look at the small lake other than at the young man. The stars blinked gently in the ripples caused by Remoraid, burning intensely in the velvet black sky. The moon was partially covered by some clouds; in its weak light, Natalia could see herself reflected dimly in the pool. She looked away; she hated her reflection.

“That’s not enough, Alec. Gabriel’s influence is wrapped around the entire region. People fear him, and fear is what drives every single human motivation. Nobody is a hero, when given the chance; we all have a little coward in us. There’s too much bad in the world to live a purely good life,” she said, her hand twitching involuntarily. “Only a true friend and ally will fight to defend you. And you will need someone to fight with you, Alec, when the time comes.” A ripple of fear crossed her own face, although of what Alec could not be sure.

He took her words to heart. Do I know anyone I could trust completely? His mind jumped to his travelling companions; immediately it was swarmed with images of Chase’s snappy attitude and bitter glances when it came to Alec. Chase was strong-willed but selfish. If presented with the chance, Alec didn’t think Chase would fight the better opportunity. Preston certainly seemed concerned for Alec’s well-being, but what had Alec done for the old man? He had felt perfectly fine leaving Alec to go back to the city; there was no doubt to the boy that Preston had higher concerns than a fourteen-year-old. Logan...her beautiful blonde hair swam through his mind, so like Juliet’s...she seemed genuinely invested in his well-being, staying with him when the others didn’t. She was frail, yes, but…

“Yes. There is one.”

Natalia nodded, her eyes darting around nervously, her light skin looking especially peaky in the moonlight.

“Good. As you continue to Mahogany Town, or wherever you’re going, stick close to this person. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, of course, that would be unwise, but...also remember to keep your chosen ally in the know. Gabriel can be very persuasive. He has a strong following in Ecruteak, especially in the local areas. Don’t trust anyone you don’t have to.” Her Crobat beat its violet wings, clicking and narrowing its bloodshot yellowed eyes.

“How can I trust you, then? That you’re not going to sell me out? You were totally all about Gabriel the first time we met.” Natalia’s eyes filled with tears. She said nothing, only extending her left arm up and wiping her face with the back of her hand. The careful make-up was wiped away, revealing the ugly, charred mess of glowing flesh coating one side of her skull. Alec fought every impulse not to cringe, but his disgust was evident all the same.

“Gabriel is an angry person. Once, early in our time together, I failed to carry out his orders word for word. He shouted and screamed for what felt like forever, and then...it was dark out, and we were at a large camp with a fire. He…” She choked back a sob; Alec saw her face twist in anger, frustration, revulsion. She looked miserable, as if she hated herself for saying this to the boy. “He shoved my face into the fire. You don’t want to trust me? I understand. But if you think, for a second, that I enjoy working for him…”

A shout rang across the rocky landscape. “Alec?” Preston’s voice rang clear, a half-octave higher than normal; it seemed he was very worried. Manaphy’s glowing body could be seen from a half-mile away. Apparently Preston and Chase had returned from their journey into the city. Natalia’s eyes widened and Crobat’s wings flared.

“Remember what I said. Trust no one,” she said. She was gone before Alec could speak a word.

“Logan, he’s over here!” A female voice, shrill and concerned, shrieked Alec’s name in response. Crashing and spouts of fire could be seen near Manaphy; it seemed Houndoom had helped in the search for the missing boy. Alec looked at the spot Natalia had last stood, hugged himself against the chill of the night, and stepped onto a high rock by the lake. He shouted out for Logan, waving his arms.

After a stern telling off by Preston, which Alec had expected, Logan suggested the group finally enter the tunnels as one unit, which Chase rolled his eyes at. The four set off, Alec making sure to stand close to Logan, reflecting on Natalia’s words. Her soft hand reached out, grabbing his and squeezing as they walked. She smiled at him, a smile he partially reciprocated, his eyes glancing at Chase, who was staring determinedly forward. Alec smiled fully at Logan; he was certain he had chosen right.

….....................................................................................

Crobat landed on a ledge high above the entrance to Purpleheart Tunnel, clear out of sight and sound to any in Alec’s party. Natalia crawled to the nearest tree, her chest still heaving from the emotion of her meeting with Alec, eyes darting around wildly, before she let out a high, specific whistle. A rope ladder was let down silently and immediately, and a man with reedy crimson hair descended from the treetops.

“Natalia,” Gabriel said, his voice almost a purr. “I hope the meeting went well.”

The young woman ignored this, producing a mirror and looking into it, angling her face so that the luminous burns were in focus. She began the careful and tedious task of concealing this great scar to the outside world. Gabriel waited a full minute before growing impatient and slapping the mirror from her hand, causing her to grab his wrist, hissing. She immediately regretted this impulse. Gabriel shook free, very still for a long moment.

“I take it he believed you, then, that you were there on your own free will?” he said, choosing to ignore this outburst of aggression. Natalia looked at her hand in horror, not sure where her sudden surge of anger came from.

“Yes, he did,” she answered softly.

“And the bit about the scars? I liked that bit, myself,” he said, smirking slightly. Natalia merely nodded. “So you have his trust?”

“As much as he’ll trust anyone. He certainly seems like he will be opening up to his friends a little more after my warning. He looked frightened. I think he really does fear you, Gabriel.” We all do, you bastard, she thought silently.

“Then we can soon target the three he’s travelling with. I need you to do some sleuthing for me, Natalia. None of the other members of our team can know; they all think I’m punishing you. Find what each of that group has lost, and then the game gets really fun,” he said. His face was aglow with excitement at this prospect. “You’ve done well, Natalia.” He took her face in his hand, stroking the burned area; she flinched. “We really ought to get those burns fixed, they don’t do you any favors,” he said critically.

“Am I allowed in the shelter tonight?” Natalia asked despondently.

Gabriel shook his head. “That would let the team know I had already chosen to forgive you, Natalia. What kind of respectable leader does THAT so easily?” He shook his head, smiling at her naivete. “I’m sure you’ll find somewhere to make camp,” he said, gripping the rope ladder. He chuckled. “That poor kid. Alec Gideon really thought you were helping him. I wish I could’ve seen his face.” And with that, he disappeared to the night.

You’re a good person, she heard her father say, his words ringing through her head. She stared in the direction of Purpleheart Tunnels for a long time before pulling out her mirror and make-up, rebuilding her broken face.

But who will rebuild me?
 
Last edited:

FlamingRuby

The magic of Pokemon
I'm a bit confused by your first scene--what year is that heartbreaking scene supposed to take place in? And which of all these years is considered the present? Jumping around between all those times made it a bit hard to follow the action.
 

Bulba the Great!

We Do Not Sow
I'm a bit confused by your first scene--what year is that heartbreaking scene supposed to take place in? And which of all these years is considered the present? Jumping around between all those times made it a bit hard to follow the action.
Hm, yes, I'm not sure which chapter you're referring to that has the heartbreaking scene, but this is something that I may go back and rectify today - upon Glover's request, I have begun giving distinct timeframe hints between the past and present. The present timeline is 2009. Generally speaking, anything referring to Tracey and Logan and Chase is '05. I will edit the chapters today with timeframe indicators.
 

Glover

Pain in Rocket side
the creases in his forehead and between the ridges that protruded from his otherwise bare skull, all to please his trainer seemed excessive to the more experienced trainer. He kept his mouth shut, though.
I feel like this doesn't read as well as it should. Makes sense to me, but I find mysrlf trpping across it as i read it. Either

the creases in his forehead and between the ridges that protruded from his otherwise bare skull, all to please his trainer. This seemed excessive to the more experienced trainer. He kept his mouth shut, though.


or

the creases in his forehead and between the ridges that protruded from his otherwise bare skull, all of thisto please his trainer seemed excessive to the more experienced trainer. He kept his mouth shut, though.


And in either case, "trainer" is a bit repetetive. A different noun for Preston might help to further distinguish Preston.

And I say again... that poor Machop. I wonder though is when he evovles into a Machampo, is that beltgonna be what hangs from his waist? a badge of honor, an "I Told you so" something too weak to slow him downany more?


Alec wiping his forehead and allowing himself a long swig of water from the bottle Machop held up for him.
Needs to be wiped, not wiping. "Wiping" is good in cases where there's multiple actions following, but in that case, "Wiping his forhead and allowing himsel..." would be set apart in commas. Otherwise, it just needs to be in past tense like the rest of the story.

Preston paused, a shadow crossing his tired face. “Who would be calling at this hour?” he wondered, shifting his attention to his own large rucksack. He produced his Poké Gear, a slightly older model than Alec’s, and looked at it, frowning. “Oh, it’s Logan.” He hit a button, allowing the video screen to light up. Alec, whose face lit up at the mention of Logan’s name, crossed so he could see the screen as well. The pale face and piercing blue eyes were unmistakable; however, her expression was quite foreign, a mixture of terror and disgust.
And I kinda feel like the part about Alec should be a seperate paragraph, but I'm not sold on that notion. Others want to chime in?

Anyone?

Bueller?

tretched out on a jet-black rock, limp, swollen and soggy, was Amber Janson’s body. Her skin was mottled and clammy, her lips blue, her eyes open, empty. She was unmistakably dead.
Ah. Yes. I forgot about her, glad to see you wrapped that little plot point up.

the death of his childhood friend seemed to have caused a temporary digression in maturity
say wha? badly worded, but death usually has the opposite effect in a person...

Chase immediately protested. “Why me? Why not…” But the dots had all connected in his head; Logan wouldn’t leave Alec alone, not with her ‘Forever and Always’ policy.
Ah,but technically, she said "For a very long time" not "Forever and always." See my last review, I thought that was kinda telling, but maybe it was just a goof...

“This really is a lot of money, Arceus’ Plates! All this for opening Tympoles up?”
...doing what to Tympoles? Dissection? I'm not up on the wolrd o biology, what in the world could they want to be dissecting an army of Tympoles for?

“I miss you, too,” he said loudly, turning and walking a few steps away from the entrance. “It’s my mom,” he whispered to Logan.
...don't fasll for it... don't.. Logan, no... don't you...

“Five minutes,” Logan said, and she didn’t move until Alec nodded begrudgingly. Appeased, the blonde girl climbed inside, her own Poké Gear outstretched,
... she fell for it...

“I hear you discovered your friend (Amber, was it?) washed up on the beach, dead.” Gabriel’s musical voice floated from the Poké Gear. “I want you to know, that was not me. As we continue to negotiate -”
"Amber, was it?" should be in commas, not parentheses as an aside of his main speech. I can totally hear Gabrial saying that to Alec as a touch of humanity or "See, I am your friend" but if ihe's saying it aloud, then commas. And if he's not saying it, then there's no need to mention it aat all.

Getting odd signals from Gabe.On the one hand, I can see him lying about things, but on the other, he could've and didn't kill the Sky agent by thowing him off the treehouse, and he felt (feels?) remorse that his own brother was caught in the crossfire. So even though I cans ee him lying about killing someone, I'm not sure I can see him killing Natalia. But if he didn't, then who did?

heard-headedness
hard-headed

Team Skye jumpsuit; this had been discarded in favor of a very pretty, if plain, white sun dress, which seemed out of place in the autumn air, but as Alec reasoned, I’m not a girl, what do I know?
Nothing. But as a trainer white sundresses, as a rule, are not something one goes hiking in.

Alec still was not sure if he trusted this woman. But she didn’t seem to be armed…
says the man fingering a Pokeball...

Nobody is a hero, when given the chance; we all have a little coward in us.
... what are you setting up for?
 

Bulba the Great!

We Do Not Sow
I feel like this doesn't read as well as it should. Makes sense to me, but I find mysrlf trpping across it as i read it. Either

the creases in his forehead and between the ridges that protruded from his otherwise bare skull, all to please his trainer. This seemed excessive to the more experienced trainer. He kept his mouth shut, though.


or

the creases in his forehead and between the ridges that protruded from his otherwise bare skull, all of thisto please his trainer seemed excessive to the more experienced trainer. He kept his mouth shut, though.


And in either case, "trainer" is a bit repetetive. A different noun for Preston might help to further distinguish Preston.

Note duly taken. Must've had a massive brain fart on that sentence, haha

And I say again... that poor Machop. I wonder though is when he evovles into a Machampo, is that beltgonna be what hangs from his waist? a badge of honor, an "I Told you so" something too weak to slow him downany more?

Assuming he evolves all the way...

Ah. Yes. I forgot about her, glad to see you wrapped that little plot point up.

Glad you remembered her! I was afraid she would be forgotten, all the way back from Chapter One.

say wha? badly worded, but death usually has the opposite effect in a person...

Well, NOT ON ALEC. :D

Ah,but technically, she said "For a very long time" not "Forever and always." See my last review, I thought that was kinda telling, but maybe it was just a goof...

Well, she's certainly learned her lesson in the current timeline, but that doesn't mean she hasn't said it a myriad of times in the past.

...don't fasll for it... don't.. Logan, no... don't you...

... she fell for it...

Dammit, Logan.

"Amber, was it?" should be in commas, not parentheses as an aside of his main speech. I can totally hear Gabrial saying that to Alec as a touch of humanity or "See, I am your friend" but if ihe's saying it aloud, then commas. And if he's not saying it, then there's no need to mention it aat all.

It was meant to be spoken, so yes, it should be commas. Good point.

Getting odd signals from Gabe.On the one hand, I can see him lying about things, but on the other, he could've and didn't kill the Sky agent by thowing him off the treehouse, and he felt (feels?) remorse that his own brother was caught in the crossfire. So even though I cans ee him lying about killing someone, I'm not sure I can see him killing Natalia. But if he didn't, then who did?

I'm glad he's intriguing you so much :)

Nothing. But as a trainer white sundresses, as a rule, are not something one goes hiking in.

Well, it's not a PERMANENT change!

... what are you setting up for?

Mwahahahahaha
Thanks for reviewing, Glover!
 

Bulba the Great!

We Do Not Sow
Earth, Air, Water, Fire

Chapter 11

-July 27, 2007-

Another shell sounded in the distance, debris careening in every direction from Viridian City, followed by the roar of hundreds of wounded Pokémon, angry, pained, desperate. Logan was shielding her eyes, her body curled up as small as possible in Tracey’s arms. The two were sitting on a shelf of slate that towered high above the Indigo Plateau, where the Seventh Major Collision was taking place.

The war had been raging near on two years now. On one side, NeoEarth had trained its soldiers in all forms of hand weapons - machine guns, grenades, an awful deadly gas that turned the body white as bone before death. War planes and helicopters sped through the sky, muddy tanks plowed across the torn, burnt Kanto soil, destroying everything in their wake.

On the good side, Pokémon were the strongest assets. Soldiers on the Pokémon world had a rudimentary understanding of weaponry, but nothing as advanced or lethal as NeoEarth’s methods of killing. Still, the war effort was strong in Kanto. A battalion of men and women soared through the air on Pidgeot, Fearow, Salamence, Flygon - anything with wings. Will had mobilized a fleet, led by his own magnificent mount. Lugia served as a constant beacon of hope wherever it appeared, its great off-white body and soothing cry causing cheers to erupt whenever it was close.

On ground, Bruno and Koga were leading their own forces - Bruno with a great mass of Steelix, Onix, Rhyperior, Golem, and other massive walls of defense and brute strength. Koga chose quicker creatures of stealth - Arbok and Venomoth, Drapion, Scolipede and Seviper. Koga was also in charge of chemical warfare, utilizing all of his Poison Pokémon’s strengths. A special unit of Vileplume and Weezing were used to pour poison gases and powders across enemy lines. Lance, the Elite Four’s Champion, had gone missing, which was worrisome on top of the news that Karen had in fact been working against her own world for years. She had last been spotted flying in an enemy helicopter above Saffron City a full six months back. Rumors were abundant that she had personally murdered the Steward herself.

The death count showed no signs of slowing. Chase had joined the fight as Will’s personal Lieutenant. From her seat, Logan could see Lugia’s form darting about in the distance; she felt a tightness in her chest, knowing Chase was sitting beside Will on the great white creature, that any second he could be thrown off, or shattered into a million pieces with a grenade, or...she had lost count of the predicted deaths she had imagined Chase falling to. Try as she might to prevent them, these were the gruesome images that pervaded her thoughts, awake and asleep. She shivered, although the plateau was quite warm; it was midsummer.

“Look,” Tracey said suddenly, pointing towards Lugia’s large figure. It appeared to be moving toward the two friends; its shadow was speeding across the silvery mountainscape of Victory Road, away from the ashen battlefield. A helicopter flew over Tracey and Logan’s heads and they both ducked automatically. This had become second nature to the trainers. It kept moving, though, another machine of war to tear their world apart. Lugia took the machine down with a precisely-aimed Hyper Beam and continued on its trajectory towards the cliff.

“I think Will’s coming our way!” Logan exclaimed. She let out a cheer, as anyone in this war did when Will brought his attention to him or her; this also meant a glimpse of Chase, so rare these days. This excitement was quickly destroyed as she realized the implication of Will’s sudden leave from battle. One look at Tracey’s grim face confirmed her fears, his eyes clouded and his face steely. She gripped the arm of her sixteen-year-old friend and felt her heart pounding so hard it might break through her chest or explode. “He’s not coming...for you, is he? Not now, not today?” Tracey kept his eyes locked on the winged Pokémon, not answering.

Two nights ago, Tracey had been visited in his dreams by Arceus again, this time with the most ominous news yet: His life was now to be counted in days. Tracey had recounted the dream word-for-word to Logan, Chase, and Will:

“It was pure white, empty, just as it always is. Just me and Arceus, everything glowing and echoing. Arceus’ voice came to me, in my head, same as last time. ‘Tracey, the time has come for this war to end. This world has been scarred beyond reckoning, almost beyond salvation. Only one creature can save it now.’” Tracey looked at Will, who nodded, his scarlet eyes wide but understanding. Logan was pale, clutching Tracey’s arm. “He told me I have to climb Mt. Silver. At the very top is the altar where it was done last time.”

Legend had it in the ancient lore of Kanto that the first war, the Great Dividing Day, had been ended with a sacrifice made to Ho-oh. Only with the blood of an innocent upon the altar did Ho-oh descend from the heavens and light the Sacred Fire, the one that purged the impure from the land and left only those who would live harmoniously with Pokémon. Those who were corrupted but not beyond redemption were left with great burns and sent into a separate world, one without Pokémon, where they could live greedily but apart from the creatures they had abused.

“Arceus wants you...it wants you to be the One?” Will asked slowly. He had been kneeling beside Logan, still dressed for battle, his right arm still bleeding profusely from a bullet wound.

Tracey nodded, his eyes distant, his voice hollow in response. “This is what I was brought here for. This is what I was meant to do. ‘When the battle is lost...you must win it.’ That’s what Arceus said.”

Logan still heard these words echoing through her head, they were always ringing in her ears, and she spoke them aloud now, taking Tracey’s hand in hers and squeezing tight. She put her head on his shoulder. Lugia had arrived, landing as gracefully as was possible on the ledge; its right wing was damaged.

Chase leapt off first, staring at Tracey but not saying a word. War had not been good to him; it had hardened him almost beyond recognition. His head was shaven, several wounds pouring fresh blood from his scalp. His eyes, usually soft and welcoming, had become glassy copper-colored marbles. He had lost a bit of his left earlobe, something that could be fixed eventually but for now made his head appear lopsided.

Will followed, dressed in full riding gear and sweating profusely, his usually well-pampered violet hair hanging lankily around his ears. He strode toward Tracey gravely, afraid to be the one to speak the words.

“It’s time,” Tracey said, the only one able to articulate it. Will hesitated, but nodded very slowly, eyes lowered. Logan whimpered, but stood strong, squeezing Tracey’s hand.

Will swallowed and looked Tracey in the eye sadly. “There’s really no other way, at this point, Tracey. Without Ho-oh to restore the equilibrium...Kanto will be gone. Everyone and everything you know will be gone.” His voice shook with emotion. “I’m so sorry it has to be you, Tracey. I’ve told you before, I will gladly sacrifice myself…”

“Arceus said it had to be me, Will. It’s okay. I’ve accepted it.” Tracey’s hand twitched slightly, but his face betrayed nothing.

Chase remained silent, but walked slowly so that for the first time in months, he was standing side-by-side with his old companions. A siren rose out of the valley, and the Pokémon League building suddenly collapsed under its own weight below, causing a tremor to pass through the entire plateau.

Will cleared his throat, steadying himself before continuing. “Do you know the way to the summit of Mt. Silver?” Tracey nodded, and Logan stepped closer to him, eyes welling up. “Lugia and I will take you as far as we can, Tracey, but the legend says the Noble One walked the last part of his journey alone.”

“We’re going with you,” Chase said, finally speaking. Logan nodded emphatically, clenching her jaw and inhaling deeply, reaching her hand out for Chase’s. He joined the two, and they stood hand-in-hand, staring at Will and Lugia, and beyond them, at the great clouds of smoke issuing from the broken plateau. Another grenade shredded through the earth, causing more pungent smells and billows of that foul mixture of dirt and blood.

Tracey did not argue with his friends. He had been very calm about his ultimate fate up to this point; he seemed to finally be on the verge of collapse at this gesture from them. His deep-blue eyes locked with Chase’s amber ones, then with Logan’s sky-blue gaze, and the young man blinked rapidly, contorting his face in a way that might restrain tears. He gasped for air, which was enough to make Logan pull the two young men in for a long embrace that lasted until the next massive explosion. A Skarmory flew into an outcrop of rock not too far from them, dented, smoking, its eyes lifeless.

This seemed to ignite a new urgency in Will. He spoke, his voice hesitant but hurried. “We have limited time. Is there...well, is there anything you’d like to do, before...? One last moment with us,” he said quietly. Tracey looked at the Elite Four Member for a long time, thinking.

“Let me see my parents,” he said. This was too much for Logan, who began shaking hysterically. Chase, however, seemed strengthened by this request.

“You heard what he said,” the white-haired youth said quickly to Will, who seemed confused at this statement. “Let’s go.” The man nodded, beckoning to the three to join him on Lugia’s broad plate-covered back.

….....................................................................................

-2009-

Preston was still furious at Alec for wandering off.

“I can’t seem to leave you alone for five minutes without you disappearing,” the older man said, his voice edged with tired frustration. He had spent a good half hour patrolling for the young trainer.

“Look, I don’t care if it was Will or Ho-oh or Arceus itself who told you I need you to look after me. I can manage on my own! Look!” Alec said, indicating his unblemished body. “I am FINE, okay?” The oddly assorted group had finally entered the Purpleheart Tunnels, and much to Chase’s irritation, Preston insisted they begin the long trek through the tunnels immediately, without rest.

“I don’t know why we couldn’t just sit down for five minutes,” Chase said darkly for the fourth time. Preston moaned in frustration, choosing to stare straight ahead as he continued leading the group forward.

“If I recall, this tunnel leads downhill for another three miles, before it begins twisting in a spiral that eventually leads out right beyond the National Park, and from that exit we can sneak through Ecruteak virtually undetected,” Preston said, trying to force calm back upon the group. He glanced down at his hand-drawn map of the tunnels, thankfully legible in the light Electivire was providing.

Logan was walking next to Alec, stealing glances back at Chase on occasion, as he was trailing very far behind the rest of the group. “What did your mom have to say that was so urgent, Alec?” she asked gently, trying to create civil conversation. Preston thanked her privately, as his own tolerance was very low. He had not slept for running on fifty-seven hours now.

“Oh, she was just checking in, you know…” Alec said evasively. He had decided not to mention Natalia’s warning to anyone except Logan, and he could only do that in private. Logan seemed to sense the deception, but even as she frowned and opened her mouth, Chase let out a cry behind him.

“What’s happened?” Preston asked quickly, looking around. Electivire stopped walking in front of him, the light bouncing quietly between his two black cables of a tail.

Chase seemed to have slipped on the smooth floor that had emerged in the last half-mile; the beautiful crystal cavern at the cave’s entrance had given way to an earthier, less jagged trail after a while. The young man was lying on his side in the fetal position, clutching at his knee. He was letting out a wonderfully colorful string of words in his pain.

Preston pushed past Logan and Alec, kneeling next to Chase. “Let’s have a look,” he said gently, reaching out. Chase shook his head stubbornly.

“Show him your knee, for Ho-oh’s sake!” Alec said bitterly. Preston did not look good; his face was haggard, collapsing from fatigue, the bags under his eyes more pronounced and his skin a distinct gray color. That he was being as patient as he was with Chase was astonishing to the fourteen-year-old boy, whose own temper was very short.

“I don’t have to show it to him, I’m fine,” Chase said, moving to get up.

“Well then why did you make such a SHOW out of it?” Alec asked, his fuse burning ever closer to explosion.

“I’m sorry we’re not all as hardy as you, you ignorant prick!” Chase barked. Logan inched closer to Alec, trying to stand between the two boys. “No, don’t shield him! What’s the matter with you, Logan? Why defend him? All he has done,” Chase said, pushing Preston out of the way to get closer to the auburn-haired youth, “is cause trouble! Why didn’t HE have to drag a dead body all the way down to that bleeding city?” he asked loudly to Preston, although his eyes were still trained on Alec like a hungry Mightyena.

“Please, Chase,” Logan said rationally, reaching an arm out, but Chase snarled. “You’re tired, everyone’s tired, please…” she pleaded.

“We’re tired because of him! Why are we doing all this? Because he’s got this stupid Rainbow Wing, why can’t he just give it up? Why’s it so valuable you can’t give it to somebody who can actually protect himself?” Chase asked, pacing dangerously close to Alec. He looked quite frightening at this proximity.

“I didn’t ask for this!” Alec said, shaking free of Logan’s trembling grasp. “If anyone’s to blame, it’s Will! He threw us together!”

Preston had closed the distance between himself and the group again, arms out. “Look, Chase, Alec, we can take a break, just lower your voices, please.”

It was too late; Chase had launched himself at Alec, pushing Logan out of the way, toward Preston. The two began punching and kicking each other; they were surprisingly an even match. Chase’s extra height was evened out by Alec’s hours put in on push-ups. Logan shrieked and Preston shouted, but neither of them could get close to the fighting boys.

“Chase!” Logan yelled. Chase had grabbed Alec, slamming him into the wall. The ceiling trembled; it seemed the area they were in was not quite as stable as Preston had promised. A few rocks fell from the low tunnel overhang.

“That’s enough,” Preston said in a forced calm, motioning to Electivire to break the fight apart. The large tiger-like creature roared, causing an unfortunate side-effect; its sonorous voice seemed to hit a sour note with the loose rocks surrounding the group, and suddenly a great cascade of boulders collapsed from all around, the ground crumbling as well. It seemed the tunnel also had a hidden basement; the floor was now giving way.

All was chaos for one awful moment, bodies clutching and voices screaming frantically. When the dust settled finally, the quaking dying out, there was a giant hole in the tunnel floor. Alec and Chase were on the original level, peering around, disoriented. Logan and Preston were nowhere to be found.

“Logan?” Chase called, peering into the dark pit. It was very hard to see; Electivire seemed to have fallen with the other two. There was no response. “Great! This is just GREAT. Who knows how far down that pit goes?” Chase said, his face red.

Alec stumbled on something in the dark. He reached down clumsily, groping for a few seconds in the dark before standing again. “This is useless,” he said, reaching for his belt and producing Magby’s Poké Ball. “We need light.”

“I’ll do it,” Chase said automatically, but Alec had already released his awkward bleary-eyed Pokémon.

“Magby, give us some light,” he said, and Magby bleated feebly; it seemed he had been having quite a good nap. After a slight delay, his small body glowed translucently, and the familiar purple candles of Will-o-Wisp ignited, floating eerily just beyond his tiny crimson form. The light, though not nearly as bright as Electivire’s, showed Alec what he had stumbled upon: of all things to be left behind in the split-up, Preston’s journal with all his sketches seemed to have parted ways with its owner.

“That’s convenient,” Chase muttered, crossing so that he could peer at the dog-eared pages with Alec. Alec was tempted to hoard the journal to himself, but hesitantly left his arms outstretched, hoping that perhaps this small form of peace offering might dissuade Chase from further outbursts.

“I think he had a map of the tunnel system in here,” Alec said, leafing through the intricately detailed notes in Preston’s handwriting. A picture fell from the front of the journal.

Chase caught it before it could hit the ground. “I think this is his wife,” he said, peering at the faded photograph. “She definitely looks familiar.” He held it up so Alec could see. Certainly the woman in the photograph had curly blonde hair, although she looked a little older than in the picture on Preston’s wall. There was no mistaking her, though; Preston was in the photograph as well, his gray eyes alive with laughter, his arms wrapped around his wife’s waist. Chase felt a twinge of sadness for Preston, running his fingers over the picture before tucking it back into the pages of the book in Alec’s hands.

“We need to find them,” Alec said, which Chase agreed with instantly.

The older of the two peered down into the deep hole that had recently opened and shouted Logan’s name once more. It was a long time before his echo returned, quite alone. Chase looked at Alec grimly, and Alec in response peered at the journal.

“I think there’s actually a way down to that level,” he said suddenly. He pointed forward, into the unknown, causing Magby to gulp.

Chase looked down to where he hope very much Logan was lying and nodded. “Let’s go,” he said.

….....................................................................................

-July 27, 2007-


Will, Tracey, Chase, and Logan landed in the small cemetery just outside Pallet Town after twenty minutes of flying. Tracey leapt off Lugia’s back before the Pokémon even reached ground, racing to the plot where his parents had been laid. His face was pale and his azure eyes wide, but he seemed emboldened at the sight of his parents’ final resting place. The cemetery itself was quite peaceful, a stark contrast to the deafening destruction and gray devastation existing just miles from the area. Somehow Pallet Town had remained safe from the raids; it seemed the town was too small and quaint to be considered worthy of attack.

Will and Chase hung back by Lugia, but Logan stepped forward to join Tracey. She had known his parents quite well, almost as well as her own, and she stood a respectful yard’s length back from Tracey with her head bowed. Amidst the headstones and grave markers, standing side by side were two engraved monuments to Mark and Bethany Morgan. Tracey had chosen the inscription himself.

Mark Morgan, 6/2/1962 - 8/6/2005
Bethany Elinore Morgan, 5/14/1965- 8/6/2005

You were brave, and strong, and true.


The graves were adorned with flowers and vines, and below the inscription was a symbol similar to the one he wore around his neck every day since their passing: A crude flame, out of which rose a simple ‘V’. Tracey had never explained the significance of this symbol, but he clutched the necklace around his neck now, speaking softly. Logan had one eye open, peeking at her best friend, completely lost for words.

Will’s Poké Gear rang abruptly, and Will stared down at it, silencing it quickly. He cleared his throat. “Tracey, um...well, I think we really ought to go.” Chase shot him a nasty look, but Will shook his head, holding the phone up him. Chase’s eyes widened. “Tracey?” Will asked, slightly louder. Logan stepped forward, lightly touching the long-haired boy’s shoulder. He started, looking around at his childhood friend, his vision blurred.

“It’s time,” she whispered.

As Lugia began the long journey to the peak of Mt. Silver, Logan looked at Tracey. He was glancing back at Pallet Town, the place he had known as home for sixteen years. The rolling green hills surrounding it, the flower beds, the simple tile-roof houses...he searched out and found what had once been his house, still just a few doors down from the Clements’ residence, pointing it out to Logan.

“Somebody else has lived there for two years,” he said flatly. Logan nodded sympathetically. “Logan, when I die...just make sure whatever’s left of me goes with my parents. Please.”

“Of course,” she said hoarsely. Pallet Town shrunk down to the size of a postage stamp, and Tracey looked away.

Chase and Will were further forward on Lugia’s wide back, staring straight ahead. Will’s eyes were glowing a pale crimson, his mind synced with Lugia’s through psychic energy.

Chase was very pale. “So we might have some company on the mountain?” he asked in a would-be-calm voice. Will nodded slowly. The Poké Gear had borne a startling message from a number unknown to Chase: Karen has been spotted with some accomplices near the summit of the mountain. Be very careful. “Who sent that message?”

“A very good friend of mine, used to be gym leader at Olivine City. He’s been leading a recon mission through the tunnels of Mt. Silver, keeping it safe for the moment. With any luck, he’ll be able to track down and obstruct Karen before we get there.” Will did not sound confident in this notion. Chase swallowed, looking back at Tracey. The trainer seemed to have retreated into himself, barely moving and staring aimlessly to his right.

“We’re almost there,” he called back to his friend, but Tracey did not respond. Logan took his hand, squeezing it. She locked eyes with Chase, who looked away uneasily. The two had not spoken in a long time.

“Get ready,” Will muttered, tightening his focus on Lugia and leaning forward, sending the Pokémon into a shallow dive. Mt. Silver loomed ahead, its majestic purple peak capped with snow. Logan had never seen a place she feared more.

….....................................................................................

-2009-

Logan opened her eyes, coughing. Everything was dark, and very warm. She was partially buried under rocks; only her feet and right arm were uncovered. She blinked several times, but could not see through the cold stones pressing in on her face, which felt broken.

“Tracey?” she called deliriously, before correcting herself. “Alec? Chase?” There was no response. She tried feebly to move her other limbs; only the uncovered arm was able to budge. “Help,” she said, not able to raise her voice. She inhaled quite a large amount of dirt and coughed again, beginning to panic.

“Logan?” a hoarse voice called. It was Preston. She attempted to respond, but her voice seemed to have given up. She passed out for a time.

Eventually she felt herself being lifted from her rocky tomb by a pair of strong arms, and a warm liquid was poured into her mouth, sensation beginning to spread throughout her body again. She tried to sit herself up, but the same strong arms held her down.

“Just relax, Logan,” came Preston’s calm voice, and she obeyed. A wet but very soothing towel was pressed to her forehead, and after a time she felt she trusted her senses enough to open her eyes. She had to blink several times to convince herself she wasn’t blind. Preston’s lined face swam in front of her. He smiled gently.

“Welcome back,” he said. Wherever they were, there was a very bright light source closeby. It took another few blinks to realize it was Electivire, who seemed quite unscathed from the fall. Preston, however, looked terrible; his face was coated in dirt, a wound was pouring blood liberally on his left cheek, and it seemed something had happened to his right leg; he was sitting on it rather awkwardly.

“What happened?” she asked groggily. Preston smiled, although this one did not reach his eyes; he pulled the towel back out from the bowl next to him and placed it on Logan’s forehead.

“We fell,” he said simply, which made Logan frown. “I neglected to tell you three about the basement level of the tunnel, that there are some areas that are susceptible for cave-ins.” He shook his head apologetically. “That ridiculous fight Chase started with Alec...it was enough, I guess. We fell about thirty-five feet, by my estimation, so honestly we’re quite lucky to be as well-off as we are. Unscathed.” Something about the way he said this made Logan uncomfortable; she tried to get a better look at his leg, which he strategically shifted underneath himself. “Unfortunately, the fall seems to not be as kind to technology,” he said, producing a pile of splintered circuits and glass, all that was left of his Poké Gear.

Logan looked down at herself; she suppressed a cry when she saw the state of her beautiful sapphire-blue cardigan, ripped in several places. “Where are Alec and Chase?” she asked.

Preston shook his head slowly, looking up. “They didn’t come with us. Neither did my journal with all the maps, so there goes our chance at finding the straightest path back to them. If they’re smart, they won’t go searching for us, because we could be walking circles in these tunnels for weeks. If they follow the maps, and you and I follow a general bearing of northeast, we should actually make pretty good time to the exit.” Preston sighed. “But I don’t trust that either of them will know to do that. Knowing Chase, he’ll insist on trying to find you.” He smiled again at Logan, who closed her eyes, knowing he had made an eerily accurate estimate of Chase’s personality.

“Am I okay to walk?” Logan asked after a time. She opened her eyes; Preston was rummaging through his big bag, looking for something. His gray eyes looked her up and down critically.

“I think you would be, quite okay, yes,” he said softly. He pulled a long plank and multiple bandages from the rucksack. “Myself, on the other hand…” he muttered, finally extending his right leg. Logan gasped; his leg was shattered, the shin too flat and bleeding in many places. In one such spot, she thought faintly, it seemed bone had broken through the skin.

“Preston!” she exclaimed. He poked at it glumly, wincing and blinking several times, breathing evenly.

“I’ve had worse,” he muttered, beginning to bandage the lower leg. Logan felt a sudden surge of affection for the man; he had made sure she was fully awake and well before tending to himself. She struggled up to help with the bandaging process.

After splinting his leg and testing it gingerly, Logan helped Preston stand up, shouldering most of his weight, his strong arm draped around her shoulder. She stumbled a little, and Preston pulled away quickly, leaning instead on the wall.

“You can’t hold my weight,” he said, and Logan frowned.

“You’re not walking -” she began, but he shook his head, smiling.

“Have you forgotten we have Pokémon?” he asked, his eyes crinkling. He released his Sawsbuck, who shook his long antlers and pawed at the rocky ground uneasily. “C’mere, boy,” he said, pulling himself over to the stag and throwing an arm over his chestnut back. “Help me get on, and then we’ll just go at a nice, easy pace,” Preston said to Logan. He looked guilty. “I would offer you a ride, too, but...I don’t think Sawsbuck is THAT strong.” The Pokémon snorted indignantly. but Logan shook her head.

“It’s fine,” she said, cupping her hands and, with Electivire on the other side, helping Preston climb onto the deer’s back, his right leg hanging lamely over the side.

“Now we just have to figure out where northeast is,” Preston said, but Logan’s head jerked up quite suddenly.

“Do you hear something?” she asked, looking around, curious. The two trainers and Pokémon stood in the cavern for a moment, listening.

“It’s coming from down there,” Preston said, pointing to the left and frowning.

“Could it be Alec and Chase?” Logan asked hopefully, but Preston shook his head.

“It sounds female,” he said, his brow furrowing further. “Well, I don’t suppose we can resist the temptation to investigate,” he said, smiling wryly at Logan, who returned the gesture. He whispered for a moment in Sawsbuck’s ear, patting his soft head, and then turned to Logan. “Well, miss, you lead. Let’s go!”

One floor up, Alec and Chase continued walking along the path Preston had drawn out for himself in his notes. There was very little conversation; the two seemed to agree on one thing, that neither had much to say.

Magby stumbled a little bit, his stumpy legs growing tired from the extended walk over uneven terrain; he had never liked exercise much.

“Maaaag,” he complained, looking at Alec with droopy, exhausted eyes.

“Not much farther,” Alec said, although he himself had no idea whether the passage to the basement was three feet or three miles away.

“So, you have a Magby, Machop, and Pupitar,” Chase said, finally deciding to attempt civil conversation. “Where’s your starter Pokémon?” Alec blinked, not seeming to understand the question. “You know, your starter? The first Pokémon a trainer gets at the start of his journey? You must have gone to Professor Elm,” Chase said, attempting to prompt response.

“I never got a starter. I never even got League Certification,” Alec said. Chase looked stunned.

“How? What? ...why?” the white-haired boy asked.

“My parents...did not want me to be a trainer,” Alec said tersely. “I had to make my own money to buy my first Poké Balls myself, after...after I left home,” he continued carefully. “And nobody ever gave me a Pokémon. I had to wrestle with Larv...Pupitar myself, it was not too fun,” he said, grimacing at the memory.

“Oh...well, I’m sorry,” Chase said, looking forward and continuing to walk. Alec and he exchanged glances several times, Magby standing between them, squealing unhappily.

“What was your first?” Alec asked. This seemed to strike a bad chord with Chase, who frowned.

“I...um, well I come from Hoenn. I was given a Treecko. Here, look,” he said, rummaging through his pockets for a picture. He produced an old, ripped polaroid, which Alec took, squinting to see in the light.

“That’s adorable,” he said, his eyes running over the little ten-year-old Chase and his lime-green lizard Pokémon, the Treecko’s big yellow eyes sparkling and its red mouth opened in a toothy grin. “What happened to it?” Chase remained silent. “Wait a second…” Alec peered closer at the photograph. “Chase, um...your hair…” Alec looked back and forth between the photo and the nineteen-year-old version of Chase, confused.

Chase snatched the picture back from him. “Let’s keep walking,” he said.

“Sorry…” Why was Chase’s hair in the picture jet-black? Alec wondered silently, staring intently at the back of Chase’s head, covered in snow-white thin hair. “That’s not natural,” he muttered, only loud enough that Magby could hear next to him.

Thirty feet below, Preston and Logan had pressed eagerly in the opposite direction towards the echoing voices. The tunnel walls glowed in this section with some phosphorous plant; it was really quite arresting.

“There’s more than one,” Logan whispered as the voices became clearer.

“All female,” Preston observed. After a moment: “Actually, no. One male.” There seemed to be an opening in the wall to their left ten yards ahead; Electivire’s light certainly stopped quite suddenly at a certain point.

“Who could it -” Logan began, but Preston held up his hand, listening. He motioned forward silently, touching a finger to his lips to indicated silence. They crawled forward softly, Sawsbuck doing his best to be silent on the rocky floor.

“...would seriously let us down like that, really,” said an alto voice, silky and calm.

“I was only doing what Gabriel asked,” said another, this one younger sounding. Frustration was quite apparent in her voice.

“Gabriel told us everything, how you turned against him, how you offered to HELP THE BOY protect the Wing?” Here was the one male voice Preston had heard. The ex-gym leader exchanged eager glances with Logan; she made to move forward, but he shot his hand out, scaring Sawsbuck, who let out a whinny.

“Dammit, Sawsbuck,” Preston hissed. He and Logan froze, but so had the voices in the other room.

“What...was that?” asked the lower female voice. “Go and check for me, Brodie.” Silence, and then a sandy-haired wiry figure emerged cautiously, staring around, eyes drawn immediately to Logan, Preston, Sawsbuck, and Electivire, frozen like a Deerling in headlights.

“Hey, uh...Amy, we have a problem,” he said, his voice quiet.

“What is it?”

“Two trainers, an Electivire, and a Sawsbuck. One of ‘em’s old and crippled, and the other looks ready to cry,” he said, not in a mean way.

“Well then,” came the low voice. “That’s easily fixed.” Preston looked at Logan, eyes wide. “Invite our neighbors in, why don’t you?” it said sweetly.

….....................................................................................

-July 27, 2007-

The wind whistled across the snowy trail that led treacherously to the shrine atop Mt. Silver. Will had landed two miles back, making a small camp, waiting cautiously with Lugia, insisting he should hang back just in case of ambush. His friend (Preston, he had been called) had apparently managed to apprehend Karen’s company, although Karen herself was notably absent from the group he had intercepted. “Just keep your eyes open,” he reiterated before shaking hands with Tracey.

The boy marched forward, pulling his blue cardigan tighter to his body and squinting his eyes against the repeated agonizing knifes of air being shot his way. Logan and Chase were right behind him, both gravely silent, watching their friend carry on. Tracey was surrounded by his Pokémon: Bulby, Rikelec, Quilber, Skar, and his unnamed Trapinch. Skar he was carrying; the Skarmory was blind and had never been given the proper medical attention needed to fix the retinal damage.

Logan gasped; the gigantic wooden shrine had finally emerged ahead of them, still a half-mile up, but definitely too close for Chase and herself to follow anymore. The legend had clearly dictated the final steps were taken by one person only. “Tracey…” she said softly. The boy had stopped walking, his back to his friends.

“I guess this is it,” he said, turning around. His face was flushed, determined. It seemed he was beyond remorse at this point, ready to finish the journey. He stepped toward Chase, gently placing Skar on the ground and extending his hand to the young man. “Chase, I’m so glad our paths crossed. Whether we were actually ever meant to travel together or not, I know we met for a reason. Here,” he said, reaching up and unclasping the necklace with the symbol on it. “Old family heirloom. Do me a favor and wear it every once in a while.” He smiled, a crooked, unsteady gesture, but a genuine one.

Chase reached out slowly, taking the necklace wordlessly. He looked at Tracey for a long time before pulling him into a hug. “Thank you,” he said. Logan watched, biting her lip, awaiting the inevitable.

Tracey crossed to Bulby and the rest of his Pokémon next. He knelt down and took Skar’s head in his right hand and Trapinch’s sturdy shell in the other. “I’m gonna miss you guys,” he said in an unnaturally high voice. He passed over Quilber, who would be making the final ascent with him. Manectric was next; the quadruped Pokémon observed him, stony-faced as ever, glaring at his trainer, as if chastising his decision. “Don’t give me that look, bud. You know it’s meant to be.” Rikelec was unconvinced, but allowed Tracey to pull his blue-and-yellow body into a long hug. Finally, Tracey turned to Bulby. “You and me, pal, to the end,” he croaked, his voice suddenly broken, finished. Bulby’s large green eyes were full of confusion.

“Shar?” he asked, pawing at Tracey’s arm. Tracey kissed the Pokémon’s forehead and pulled himself away, standing and looking at Logan.

“I don’t have anything to give you,” he said blankly. The boy had very few personal possessions, Logan knew. With one fluid movement, he produced the solution: he pulled his blue cardigan from his thin body, draping it instead around his best and oldest friend. “Take care of everyone, won’t you?” he asked, pulling back and looking her in the eyes.

Logan nodded, not trusting herself to speak. Tracey pulled her into a hug, which lasted for an eternity, the two clutching tighter and tighter. It was the kind of embrace that transcended spoken words; there were none that could adequately sum up the years they had spent together. Logan couldn’t let him go, so instead she looked him in the face and leaned forward, truly kissing him for the first and only time, fully, deeply. Chase looked away.

“Thanks,” Tracey said finally, when the kiss broke. Logan smiled, and then began laughing, long and hard, until Tracey joined in. The two embraced again, and then they stopped. The boy pulled away, smiling, and his eyes flooded at last. “Hey. It doesn’t end here. We’re friends forever...” he started, and Logan finished.

“...forever and always.” She blinked, wiping away the tears.

Tracey stepped away from his friends and Pokémon, staring up at the shrine. “Well, here goes nothing,” he said, shrugging. “Ready, pal?” he asked his Quilava. The lithe fire creature nodded, padding to stand by his trainer. “Then let’s end this war,” he said. And he began walking. Bulby tried to run after him, crying out, but Logan grabbed him, pulling the frog into her arms. The boy walked, stumbling once or twice, but keeping a steady pace to the top of the mountain.

A shadow stirred behind the shrine, and Logan’s jaw dropped in terror. Karen was awaiting Tracey calmly atop the peeling wooden structure. She must have doubled around the mountain away from the rest of her team, and now she awaited the boy with folded arms, long silver hair flying in the wind.

“Tracey!” Logan called, unable to restrain herself. She began to run forward, but it was Chase who restrained her this time.

“We can’t do anything for him now,” Chase said, his voice determinedly calm. Tracey had stepped onto the shrine, Quilber right behind him, the flames on the Pokémon’s back throwing the old shrine into sharp relief. Karen was standing in full view of the trainer, and Logan and Chase could hear her cold voice speaking to Tracey in snatches over the cold winds.

“We need to help him, Chase” Logan said urgently, reaching for her belt. Chase grabbed her hand, shaking his head.

“Legend says the One HAS to be alone,” he said, but Logan stepped on his foot.

“Screw the legend, dammit, Tracey needs his friends,” she said firmly. She jerked forward, beginning to run up the hill, Bulby still cradled in her arms. Tracey was yelling something, although she couldn’t hear what.

Everything was suddenly very hot. Quilber had unleashed his strongest move, Eruption, raining flame and destruction upon the shrine and the surrounding rock formations. Karen shrieked, and then everything went silent. Nothing moved except the yellow fire for one long moment, and then the flames exploded, creating a blinding white light around the shrine. A single piercing cry rose above everything, horrible and beautiful at the same time, and Logan backed away, her heart stopping.

...this phoenix rises up from the ground, and all these wars are over…” Chase uttered reverently behind her.

And from the pyre, Ho-oh emerged, resplendent in all the colors of the rainbow, gold sparks shooting in every direction. The bird was massive, at least Lugia’s size, and twice as magnificent, twice as terrible. With a single act from one sixteen-year-old boy, Ho-oh flew for the first time on earth in thousands of years, crying out. The mountain was trembling. The deity looked down upon the bruised and broken world it had come to restore, spreading its wings, rising into the sky.

And Ho-oh opened its eyes just as Tracey Morgan closed his for the last time.
 

Bulba the Great!

We Do Not Sow
http://i41.*******.com/2vvmi9u.jpg

If anybody is curious, this is a rendering of the symbol I talk about in Chapter Eleven - Tracey's necklace.
 
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Pink Harzard

So majestic
You asked me to take a look at your story, so here I am.
First thing I would like to say. Your discriptions, they are wonderfull. It's a huge flaw im my writing so I have the feeling I learn a lot upon reading your story.
The story overall is pretty interesting and realistic as well.

I don't have a good review about the chapters that have been reviewed. So I will start with the most recent one.

(BTW, I'm Dutch so the change is higher that I miss grammar mistakes)



Earth, Air, Water, Fire

Chapter 11

-July 27, 2007-
Nice to give the exact day when it happens.

Another shell sounded in the distance, debris careening in every direction from Viridian City, followed by the roar of hundreds of wounded Pokémon, angry, pained, desperate. Logan was shielding her eyes, her body curled up as small as possible in Tracey’s arms. The two were sitting on a shelf of slate that towered high above the Indigo Plateau, where the Seventh Major Collision was taking place.
This realy gives me the feeling that the reader is in a warzone. Nicely done.

Lance, the Elite Four’s Champion, had gone missing, which was worrisome on top of the news that Karen had in fact been working against her own world for years. She had last been spotted flying in an enemy helicopter above Saffron City a full six months back. Rumors were abundant that she had personally murdered the Steward herself.
You mean with the Steward the guy at the gate who is always thirsty?

A helicopter flew over Tracey and Logan’s heads and they both ducked automatically. This had become second nature to the trainers. It kept moving, though, another machine of war to tear their world apart. Lugia took the machine down with a precisely-aimed Hyper Beam and continued on its trajectory towards the cliff.
So the helicopter kind of ignored Lugia and flew further? Good that Lugia blasts it down. What could the goal of the helicopter have been?

Two nights ago, Tracey had been visited in his dreams by Arceus again, this time with the most ominous news yet: His life was now to be counted in days. Tracey had recounted the dream word-for-word to Logan, Chase, and Will:

“It was pure white, empty, just as it always is. Just me and Arceus, everything glowing and echoing. Arceus’ voice came to me, in my head, same as last time. ‘Tracey, the time has come for this war to end. This world has been scarred beyond reckoning, almost beyond salvation. Only one creature can save it now.’” Tracey looked at Will, who nodded, his scarlet eyes wide but understanding. Logan was pale, clutching Tracey’s arm. “He told me I have to climb Mt. Silver. At the very top is the altar where it was done last time.”
Arceus who appears in your dreams? That is like getting a mission from God. Nice to show the explanation of Tracy's dream in a flashback.

Legend had it in the ancient lore of Kanto that the first war, the Great Dividing Day, had been ended with a sacrifice made to Ho-oh. Only with the blood of an innocent upon the altar did Ho-oh descend from the heavens and light the Sacred Fire, the one that purged the impure from the land and left only those who would live harmoniously with Pokémon. Those who were corrupted but not beyond redemption were left with great burns and sent into a separate world, one without Pokémon, where they could live greedily but apart from the creatures they had abused.
I love mythologie and this one is pretty cool. One little thing. I suspect that Natalia's weird glowing burn wounds are from Ho-oh's fire. But the myth says that the ones who got burned end up in a another world.

“Arceus wants you...it wants you to be the One?” Will asked slowly. He had been kneeling beside Logan, still dressed for battle, his right arm still bleeding profusely from a bullet wound.

Tracey nodded, his eyes distant, his voice hollow in response. “This is what I was brought here for. This is what I was meant to do. ‘When the battle is lost...you must win it.’ That’s what Arceus said.”
I still don't get why Tracey is the one. Aren't his friends good enough as a sacrifice?

Lugia had arrived, landing as gracefully as was possible on the ledge; its right wing was damaged.
No need for gracefulness Lugia, its war.

Chase leapt off first, staring at Tracey but not saying a word. War had not been good to him; it had hardened him almost beyond recognition. His head was shaven, several wounds pouring fresh blood from his scalp. His eyes, usually soft and welcoming, had become glassy copper-colored marbles. He had lost a bit of his left earlobe, something that could be fixed eventually but for now made his head appear lopsided.
Good way to tell how war changes a person in character and looks.


“If I recall, this tunnel leads downhill for another three miles, before it begins twisting in a spiral that eventually leads out right beyond the National Park, and from that exit we can sneak through Ecruteak virtually undetected,” Preston said.
I often have the feeling that the places in the games are too limited. Good to see you've added new places.

Logan was walking next to Alec, stealing glances back at Chase on occasion, as he was trailing very far behind the rest of the group. “What did your mom have to say that was so urgent, Alec?” she asked gently, trying to create civil conversation.
Alec needs to trust someone but meanwhile he is lying to the same person. Good going kid -_-

“Oh, she was just checking in, you know…” Alec said evasively. He had decided not to mention Natalia’s warning to anyone except Logan, and he could only do that in private.
So he is planning to tell her. He will better do it fast, before it is to late.

He was letting out a wonderfully colorful string of words in his pain.
What a way to tell he is swearing.
I would use colourful instead of colorful. But I think you write American English while I do Brittish English.
O, and maybe put a comma between wonderfully and colourful. So it will be:

He was letting out a wonderfully, colourful string of words in his pain.

“Well then why did you make such a SHOW out of it?” Alec asked, his fuse burning ever closer to explosion.
Watch you temper kid.

“I’m sorry we’re not all as hardy as you, you ignorant prick!” Chase barked. Logan inched closer to Alec, trying to stand between the two boys. “No, don’t shield him! What’s the matter with you, Logan? Why defend him? All he has done,” Chase said, pushing Preston out of the way to get closer to the auburn-haired youth, “is cause trouble! Why didn’t HE have to drag a dead body all the way down to that bleeding city?” he asked loudly to Preston, although his eyes were still trained on Alec like a hungry Mightyena.
O great. The group members are realy loving eachother.

“Chase!” Logan yelled. Chase had grabbed Alec, slamming him into the wall. The ceiling trembled; it seemed the area they were in was not quite as stable as Preston had promised. A few rocks fell from the low tunnel overhang.
Better watch out. What if the cave collapses?

“That’s enough,” Preston said in a forced calm, motioning to Electivire to break the fight apart. The large tiger-like creature roared, causing an unfortunate side-effect; its sonorous voice seemed to hit a sour note with the loose rocks surrounding the group, and suddenly a great cascade of boulders collapsed from all around, the ground crumbling as well. It seemed the tunnel also had a hidden basement; the floor was now giving way.
I warned you.

The older of the two peered down into the deep hole that had recently opened and shouted Logan’s name once more. It was a long time before his echo returned, quite alone. Chase looked at Alec grimly, and Alec in response peered at the journal.
A good way to start to accept eachother. Getting stuck in a situation and work together to solve it.

Mark Morgan, 6/2/1962 - 8/6/2005
Bethany Elinore Morgan, 5/14/1965- 8/6/2005

You were brave, and strong, and true.
Maybe the gravestone tekst flows better if it is like this:

You were brave, strong and true.

Will’s eyes were glowing a pale crimson, his mind synced with Lugia’s through psychic energy.
That is pretty impressive. Looking in those eyes sounds kind of scary to me.

We fell about thirty-five feet,
How much is that in meters?

“Unfortunately, the fall seems to not be as kind to technology,” he said, producing a pile of splintered circuits and glass, all that was left of his Poké Gear.
Not good.

“I think you would be, quite okay, yes,” he said softly. He pulled a long plank and multiple bandages from the rucksack. “Myself, on the other hand…” he muttered, finally extending his right leg. Logan gasped; his leg was shattered, the shin too flat and bleeding in many places. In one such spot, she thought faintly, it seemed bone had broken through the skin.
That looks very bad. He must be in a lot of pain.

“I’ve had worse,” he muttered, beginning to bandage the lower leg. Logan felt a sudden surge of affection for the man; he had made sure she was fully awake and well before tending to himself. She struggled up to help with the bandaging process.
I realy like this man.

Magby stumbled a little bit, his stumpy legs growing tired from the extended walk over uneven terrain; he had never liked exercise much.
That poor thing is being captured by the wrong trainer.

“Wait a second…” Alec peered closer at the photograph. “Chase, um...your hair…” Alec looked back and forth between the photo and the nineteen-year-old version of Chase, confused.

Chase snatched the picture back from him. “Let’s keep walking,” he said.

“Sorry…” Why was Chase’s hair in the picture jet-black? Alec wondered silently, staring intently at the back of Chase’s head, covered in snow-white thin hair. “That’s not natural,” he muttered, only loud enough that Magby could hear next to him.
I've heard once that your hair can become white because of extreme stress. If that's true, could that be the case?

“What...was that?” asked the lower female voice. “Go and check for me, Brodie.” Silence, and then a sandy-haired wiry figure emerged cautiously, staring around, eyes drawn immediately to Logan, Preston, Sawsbuck, and Electivire, frozen like a Deerling in headlights.
If you think it could't getting worse...


“I don’t have anything to give you,” he said blankly. The boy had very few personal possessions, Logan knew. With one fluid movement, he produced the solution: he pulled his blue cardigan from his thin body, draping it instead around his best and oldest friend. “Take care of everyone, won’t you?” he asked, pulling back and looking her in the eyes.
But that's the same one that got heavely damaged when Logan fell down with Preston.

A shadow stirred behind the shrine, and Logan’s jaw dropped in terror. Karen was awaiting Tracey calmly atop the peeling wooden structure. She must have doubled around the mountain away from the rest of her team, and now she awaited the boy with folded arms, long silver hair flying in the wind.
Of course she had to stop him at the last moment.

Everything was suddenly very hot. Quilber had unleashed his strongest move, Eruption, raining flame and destruction upon the shrine and the surrounding rock formations. Karen shrieked, and then everything went silent. Nothing moved except the yellow fire for one long moment, and then the flames exploded, creating a blinding white light around the shrine. A single piercing cry rose above everything, horrible and beautiful at the same time, and Logan backed away, her heart stopping.
Kill yourself and your enemy in a Eruption to make the sacrifice succeed. Clever.

...this phoenix rises up from the ground, and all these wars are over…” Chase uttered reverently behind her.

And from the pyre, Ho-oh emerged, resplendent in all the colors of the rainbow, gold sparks shooting in every direction. The bird was massive, at least Lugia’s size, and twice as magnificent, twice as terrible. With a single act from one sixteen-year-old boy, Ho-oh flew for the first time on earth in thousands of years, crying out. The mountain was trembling. The deity looked down upon the bruised and broken world it had come to restore, spreading its wings, rising into the sky.

And Ho-oh opened its eyes just as Tracey Morgan closed his for the last time.
That was impressive. Very impressive.

I realy enjoyed your story. Please keep it up.
And I hope you can do something with my review.

~Pink Harzard
 

Sidewinder

Ours is the Fury
Sorry it took me so long buddy

Chapter 8

Soon, however, the coarse sand gave way to smooth purple-and-green jetties, slick and slippery with seaweed
I liked that sentence. It was easily to visualize and painted a pleasant picture. Nicely done

“Do you want first aid?” Preston asked, glancing up from his rucksack
That sounded a bit too out of place and official for me. I feel like it would work better if you put something along the lines of 'Want me to take a look at that?', or something along those lines. I just think it would read better

He stood up as well, highlighting the physical disparity between the two, rather like an Alakazam looking down at a Kadabra, flaunting its experience.
That made me laugh. Cute

“Does somebody else have the key that I don’t know about?” he mused, drawing a chuckle from his wife
I've literally said almost the exact same thing when I've come home to my wife lol. Very realistic and funny touch

“I love you. Arceus’ Plates, I love you so much Carrie Preston.”
I have a little bit of a problem with that. Obviously the two of them are close, and earth shaking news like this would draw them even closer together, so when he says her full name it almost became kind of impersonal in a way. I feel like it would work alot better if you used something like, 'Sweetheart', 'Baby', or something along those lines. It goes even further to show their closeness. You dig?

“Whatever.”

“Can we continue, please?” Chase asked, arms folded. Alec nodded
Whatever? omg what a child lol

“How does a man like him get a legendary?” he wondered aloud.
Hmm, I wonder too!

seemed happy for Larvitar except Alec, whose face was twisted in disgust.
Does he think that Larvitar's personality will change somehow perhaps? Or does he just hate its evolutions? Hmm

Chapter nine

I'll go ahead and tell you now that the time shifts are really getting to me. I'm beginning to get confused and a little disoriented with the characters. I know why you're doing them and obviously its important to show past events to explain the actions of the characters now, but if you do it in such a way that it confuses the readers, it works against you. I might reccomend dropping flashbacks in instead of breaking story and focusing on a specific year. Even doing that intermittently will help with not having to keep up with randomly occuring years. I say this because unlike a book that you read quickly or all at once, when you have to wait for updates for sometimes weeks, you start to forget when the events happen and you focus so much on the date that as a reader I forget what you're writing entirely. Flashbacks triggered by words or objects though are much easier to keep track of and remember. Make sense?

‘Adrenaline Rush’, a rare condition a Pokémon occasionally passed into during battle.
Very cool idea, I like it. I hope to see more of this

Sceptile was my baby, he was my best friend, he was my everything,”
That was actually surprisingly and believably emotional. Kudos!

“Pupitar is so...limited. It can’t move! Not properly.
That makes sense as to why he was disappointed now. Though it is surprisingly shallow of him

The beach seemed to extend for miles on either side, shooting straight out to his right and curving gently northward to his left.
Excellent description there, but I stumbled on 'seemed'. If he can see it going for miles, then it goes for miles. I'd take that word out

The way in was hidden; Preston had to show Alec the way the opening was cleverly concealed behind a sparse crop of brush (“Limber pine”, Preston called it) that grew specifically in mountain ranges; stunted, mostly branches with little green. Nevertheless, the bushes were positioned in a way that from even ten feet away, the gaping hole in the side of the mountain couldn’t be seen.
I know I'm harping on it but your description is actually improving wonderfully from chapter to chapter. Be proud of that sir

Chase, pulling him towards her; he thought they were going to kiss, but suddenly he was passing through her body, burning with her, the flames excruciating.
The dream sequence felt a little hasty but it was very well written and showed me more of the inner workings of Chase, which I liked a great deal. He's more complex than I originally thought. Not that I thought he was a blockhead or anything, but I liked the emotion of the sequence. Good job

Chapter Ten

The small gray Pokémon was again locked into the Macho Brace, crying out every now and again. Preston couldn’t help pitying him slightly; the tears gathering in his wide eyes, the sweat pooling around the creases in his forehead and between the ridges that protruded from his otherwise bare skull, all to please his trainer seemed excessive to the more experienced trainer
I liked how you intermingled the description with the actions of why he was going through it. A nice roundabout way for description and one that's lost on a lot of people. Great job!

Stretched out on a jet-black rock, limp, swollen and soggy, was Amber Janson’s body. Her skin was mottled and clammy, her lips blue, her eyes open, empty. She was unmistakably dead.
You may consider cutting out the last sentence. Obviously she's dead. It's almost like you're trying to make sure we're following you

o you will not. You need to be kept away from major cities as long as possible. Shake Gabriel off your scent.” Alec frowned at this, but Preston had turned his eyes to Chase. “I think it’s clear who it needs to be.”
I'm starting to feel like Preston may be the only one with any brains. The rest of them just bumble around a bit much and rely more on emotion than cleverness. Which isn't a bad thing at all, as emotion can lead you to where you need to get, all I'm saying its nice to see Preston using his noggin

This withholding of truth, that he had murdered an innocent girl, was the first time he’d ever deceived her...or was it? Did he not trust her with the truth? He shouldn’t, she thought bitterly. I don’t even trust myself with it.
That was a really honest thought. I have more respect for him after that, even given the circumstances

“It’s my mom,” he whispered to Logan.
LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE

kissed, more than kissed, SUPER kissed,
Betrayed her age there. I love how true to life you've made them. I remember the point in my life where I thought of kissing and SUPER-kissing. Lmao that was awesome buddy

Because girls can be real *****es sometimes.
Once again like I told you before. If you're against putting swear words in entirely, then just dont use them at all. Swearing is a really good way to emphasize points and get a message across, but when they're censored like this it really causes me to stumble and break the mood I get into while reading the story. Pay attention to that

But if you think, for a second, that I enjoy working for him…”
For stuff like this I would put the word 'second' in italics instead of underlining it. Looks kinda odd when you underline it

Gabriel shook his head. “That would let the team know I had already chosen to forgive you, Natalia. What kind of respectable leader does THAT so easily?”
That seemed a bit too comically grandiose for my taste. I felt like Gabriel is a bit more stern and serious than that

Chapter Eleven

an awful deadly gas that turned the body white as bone before death
Done some reading on Sarin gas, have you? Hussein used it on the Kurds during the Desert Storm era. Awful, nasty stuff.

On ground, Bruno and Koga were leading their own forces - Bruno with a great mass of Steelix, Onix, Rhyperior, Golem, and other massive walls of defense and brute strength. Koga chose quicker creatures of stealth - Arbok and Venomoth, Drapion, Scolipede and Seviper. Koga was also in charge of chemical warfare, utilizing all of his Poison Pokémon’s strengths. A special unit of Vileplume and Weezing were used to pour poison gases and powders across enemy lines. Lance, the Elite Four’s Champion, had gone missing, which was worrisome on top of the news that Karen had in fact been working against her own world for years. She had last been spotted flying in an enemy helicopter above Saffron City a full six months back. Rumors were abundant that she had personally murdered the Steward herself.
Brilliant description and just plain awesome. I loved how you used the well known characters and played to their strengths. I hope you go into more of these battle scenes later as they are incredibly interesting. War and fighting (as you know from my fic), are extremely entertaining to me

or shattered into a million pieces with a grenade
I see what you're going for here but it was a little too exaggerated

“Show him your knee, for Ho-oh’s sake!”
You mention Ho-Oh and 'Arecus's Plates' quite a bit as a metaphor for us using God. I'd love to see more eventually about the different religious belief systems and their doctrines later on. You work it in so casually that it sounds really good. Just be careful not to go overboard

“Get ready,” Will muttered, tightening his focus on Lugia and leaning forward, sending the Pokémon into a shallow dive. Mt. Silver loomed ahead, its majestic purple peak capped with snow. Logan had never seen a place she feared more.
That was an extremely gripping portion. It called forth an almost morbidly hopeful excitement in me. I loved it

We fell about thirty-five feet, by my estimation, so honestly we’re quite lucky to be as well-off as we are. Unscathed.”
35 Feet? That's taller than the ceilings of most department stores. It's too unbelievable that they would come out as they did because a fall from twenty feet can seriously injure, if not kill

I had to wrestle with Larv...Pupitar myself, it was not too fun,” he said, grimacing at the memory.
I'd love to hear that full story lol. Sounds fun

And Ho-oh opened its eyes just as Tracey Morgan closed his for the last time.
That was sad lol. Ouch! I'm surprised by how emotionally tearing that was
 

Bulba the Great!

We Do Not Sow
You asked me to take a look at your story, so here I am.
First thing I would like to say. Your discriptions, they are wonderfull. It's a huge flaw im my writing so I have the feeling I learn a lot upon reading your story.
The story overall is pretty interesting and realistic as well.

You're awesome. Thank you!

You mean with the Steward the guy at the gate who is always thirsty?

Ahahahahaha that made me laugh so hard. No, I wish I meant him. It's a throwaway comment - I guess I should have established this, the 'President' in the Pokemon world is the Steward. Kinda like Denethor in LOTR. Not a huge deal but I should have clarified, nonetheless.

So the helicopter kind of ignored Lugia and flew further? Good that Lugia blasts it down. What could the goal of the helicopter have been?

To join the battle of course! Big war machines = bad to Lugia.

Arceus who appears in your dreams? That is like getting a mission from God. Nice to show the explanation of Tracy's dream in a flashback.

Yeah I don't mean to be TOO overtly religious. I'm not a religious guy. But...yes. Arceus...is God.

I love mythologie and this one is pretty cool. One little thing. I suspect that Natalia's weird glowing burn wounds are from Ho-oh's fire. But the myth says that the ones who got burned end up in a another world.

Mmmm not necessarily. That's what happened to the burned people...the FIRST time...

I still don't get why Tracey is the one. Aren't his friends good enough as a sacrifice?

Arceus' demands must be met!

I often have the feeling that the places in the games are too limited. Good to see you've added new places.

I'm glad you aren't crucifying me for departing from canon :p

Alec needs to trust someone but meanwhile he is lying to the same person. Good going kid -_-

Well...yeah...

So he is planning to tell her. He will better do it fast, before it is to late.

Indeed, he really should!

What a way to tell he is swearing.
I would use colourful instead of colorful. But I think you write American English while I do Brittish English.
O, and maybe put a comma between wonderfully and colourful. So it will be:

He was letting out a wonderfully, colourful string of words in his pain.

Hmm I don't think that's a grammatical rule. And I'm American, (WISH I was British), so yeah in America it's spelt 'colorful'

O great. The group members are realy loving eachother.

Right? Best friends.

Better watch out. What if the cave collapses?

I warned you.

Ahaha you should travel with them!

Maybe the gravestone tekst flows better if it is like this:

You were brave, strong and true.

Hmm, you're right that would flow better. Story time: That is a very personal inscription for me. A good friend of mine, whom I acted with for a long time, passed away last year. The theatre we used to work together at had a 'theme song' of sorts, where we requested that we be granted the ability to be brave, and strong, and true. So those were the words used for him: To be brave and strong and true. The commas I put were used because that's how it's laid out in the song. BUT It's a grammatical error. My b.

How much is that in meters?

Very much. As Sidewinder pointed out...perhaps too much?

I realy like this man.

Me TOO!

That poor thing is being captured by the wrong trainer.

Indeed, Alec is very active. Magby is more like me :p

I've heard once that your hair can become white because of extreme stress. If that's true, could that be the case?

(Read Chapter Twelve)

But that's the same one that got heavely damaged when Logan fell down with Preston.

Yeah :/

That was impressive. Very impressive.

I realy enjoyed your story. Please keep it up.
And I hope you can do something with my review.

~Pink Harzard
Seriously, this means so much. Thanks, Harzard!

Sorry it took me so long buddy

Hey, it's good to have you back!

Chapter 8

I liked that sentence. It was easily to visualize and painted a pleasant picture. Nicely done

Thanks :]

I've literally said almost the exact same thing when I've come home to my wife lol. Very realistic and funny touch

Oh thank god. I am merely conjecturing about married life with Preston and Carrie...I'm glad to hear it's at least somewhat realistic.

I have a little bit of a problem with that. Obviously the two of them are close, and earth shaking news like this would draw them even closer together, so when he says her full name it almost became kind of impersonal in a way. I feel like it would work alot better if you used something like, 'Sweetheart', 'Baby', or something along those lines. It goes even further to show their closeness. You dig?

Hm, good point. I mean, it's meant to be something kinda cute, like appreciating the entire existence of someone by stating their full name. But come to think of it, I don't know how often that happens in real life. Good catch.

Whatever? omg what a child lol

Yeah he's rather petulant.

I'll go ahead and tell you now that the time shifts are really getting to me. I'm beginning to get confused and a little disoriented with the characters. I know why you're doing them and obviously its important to show past events to explain the actions of the characters now, but if you do it in such a way that it confuses the readers, it works against you. I might reccomend dropping flashbacks in instead of breaking story and focusing on a specific year. Even doing that intermittently will help with not having to keep up with randomly occuring years. I say this because unlike a book that you read quickly or all at once, when you have to wait for updates for sometimes weeks, you start to forget when the events happen and you focus so much on the date that as a reader I forget what you're writing entirely. Flashbacks triggered by words or objects though are much easier to keep track of and remember. Make sense?

Hm, duly noted. I'm trying to keep them all focused around one focal point with each chapter - 6, the story was Alec and Juliet. 7, Logan and her 'forever and always'. 8, Preston and Carrie. 9, Chase and his departure from and eventual return to the war. 10, Natalia's father. 11, The day of judgment, as it were. But I'm sorry if you're finding it jarring. ...you probably won't love my next chapter.

That was actually surprisingly and believably emotional. Kudos!

Oh thank god. Otherwise it just comes off as maudlin.

That makes sense as to why he was disappointed now. Though it is surprisingly shallow of him

Well, Alec is fourteen...he's got some growing up to do.

Excellent description there, but I stumbled on 'seemed'. If he can see it going for miles, then it goes for miles. I'd take that word out

Ah, yes, thank you. Very good point.

I know I'm harping on it but your description is actually improving wonderfully from chapter to chapter. Be proud of that sir

You're too kind :]

The dream sequence felt a little hasty but it was very well written and showed me more of the inner workings of Chase, which I liked a great deal. He's more complex than I originally thought. Not that I thought he was a blockhead or anything, but I liked the emotion of the sequence. Good job

I realized Chase was coming across too surface, and it was actually totally my aim to 'deepen' him with these flashbacks, so I'm glad you felt so. Dream sequences I always try to make feel...jarring? Because dreams ARE disjointed and quick and skip right to the good bits.

I liked how you intermingled the description with the actions of why he was going through it. A nice roundabout way for description and one that's lost on a lot of people. Great job!

Thanks again!!!

You may consider cutting out the last sentence. Obviously she's dead. It's almost like you're trying to make sure we're following you

Bahaha note taken.

I'm starting to feel like Preston may be the only one with any brains. The rest of them just bumble around a bit much and rely more on emotion than cleverness. Which isn't a bad thing at all, as emotion can lead you to where you need to get, all I'm saying its nice to see Preston using his noggin

Preston is absolutely the most practical and learned. Imagine if these young adults were traveling on their own...they'd walk around crying and bumping into walls all the time.

That was a really honest thought. I have more respect for him after that, even given the circumstances

I'm glad you enjoy Gabriel so much. Really, because I'm constantly worried about making him too...not likable.

Betrayed her age there. I love how true to life you've made them. I remember the point in my life where I thought of kissing and SUPER-kissing. Lmao that was awesome buddy

Haha yeah Chase tries to act so grown up but he's almost as lost as Alec, and it shows through sometimes.

Once again like I told you before. If you're against putting swear words in entirely, then just dont use them at all. Swearing is a really good way to emphasize points and get a message across, but when they're censored like this it really causes me to stumble and break the mood I get into while reading the story. Pay attention to that

I totally get that. Ironically, this was NOT intentional censoring. I FORGOT until the chapter was published that Serebii auto-sensors. The full word exists still in the draft. I could show you if you'd like. Which is a shame, because that word made such a nice punchline.

That seemed a bit too comically grandiose for my taste. I felt like Gabriel is a bit more stern and serious than that

Hmm...he DOES have a grim sense of humor. But perhaps not that much?

Done some reading on Sarin gas, have you? Hussein used it on the Kurds during the Desert Storm era. Awful, nasty stuff.

History class IS good for something! Haha it really is awful.

Brilliant description and just plain awesome. I loved how you used the well known characters and played to their strengths. I hope you go into more of these battle scenes later as they are incredibly interesting. War and fighting (as you know from my fic), are extremely entertaining to me

And so DIFFICULT to write though. Ironically, this is the reason the story has taken so long to be told...because writing battles and wars are so difficult.

You mention Ho-Oh and 'Arecus's Plates' quite a bit as a metaphor for us using God. I'd love to see more eventually about the different religious belief systems and their doctrines later on. You work it in so casually that it sounds really good. Just be careful not to go overboard

I will tread carefully.

That was an extremely gripping portion. It called forth an almost morbidly hopeful excitement in me. I loved it

I'm glad it moved you!

35 Feet? That's taller than the ceilings of most department stores. It's too unbelievable that they would come out as they did because a fall from twenty feet can seriously injure, if not kill

Well, Preston DID say it was miraculous...maybe I'll check out the physics of falling and not dying again.

I'd love to hear that full story lol. Sounds fun

It's possible you might...we haven't heard from Alec's past in a while. I thought you hated flashbacks :p

That was sad lol. Ouch! I'm surprised by how emotionally tearing that was
Thanks so much, Sidewinder! Seriously so nice to have you back.
 

Bulba the Great!

We Do Not Sow
Earth, Air, Water, Fire

Chapter Twelve


-1991-

“It just all seems so trite to me, it leads nowhere. It’s an interesting concept, but the ending doesn’t match up,” said Emerson, adjusting his tiny spectacles in agitation. J.T. rolled his eyes; he knew the older man only wore the glasses during these regular book club meetings so that he might seem more academic. The powerfully-built man was sitting across the room from Emerson in a circle of comfortable chairs in a very nicely furnished, warmly lit room.

The Violet City gym leader had a great affinity for reading, and after several conversations with his close network of friends, began an open book club held every other week in the Violet City Meeting House. J.T. had been attending regularly for a half year upon invitation from his friend Will, who was perhaps the youngest member in attendance.

“Maybe dystopian novels just aren’t your cup of tea,” J.T. mused, the corners of his mouth twitching. This elicited chuckles from several other members of the group. Emerson frowned, but kept his tongue, instead allowing others to lead the conversation about the book that had been suggested at the last meeting by Desmond.

“But what about that beautiful sentence, right at the end? When that poor man falls eight stories…what is it…? Ah, here: ‘And as breath left his lips, he felt his body broken, and one final thought crossed Kieran’s mind: I don’t understand.’ How does that not move you?” Desmond asked, and several others nodded sympathetically, J.T. among them.

“Well, that’s just the thing, isn’t it? It seems manipulative, it’s just so...so maudlin!” Emerson began, quite irritated now, his glasses flashing, but he was interrupted. The door behind him cracked open, and a woman with a small face and plump cheeks framed by tightly curled blonde hair and a high-necked black sweater sidled into the room apologetically. Emerson seemed quite disconcerted. “But who are you?” he asked, his thin eyebrows knitting together in confusion.

The woman smiled warmly, and J.T. felt his heart stop. “I’m sorry, I’m new. This IS Emerson’s Book Club, right? Reading Broken Things by Huswell?” Emerson nodded once, still nonplussed. “Hi, everyone. I’m Carrie, Carrie Phelps. I’m a friend of Jamie’s?” There was a general murmur of consent; Desmond stood, going to take Carrie’s coat. She thanked him, looking around the room and taking in its occupants.

“Well...um, well, welcome, Carrie…” Emerson said, quite flustered. It was perfectly clear he disapproved of the interruption. “Why don’t you take a seat...there’s an empty one between Will and J.T. over there,” he said, pointing across the room. Carrie’s eyes flashed to J.T., who smiled at her, his gray eyes alight.

“Will?” she asked, crossing to J.T. and taking his hand.

“No, no, I’m Joseph. J.T., if you like,” he said, standing to offer his own seat, forgetting there was an empty one beside him.

“I’m fine right here, Joseph,” she said, chuckling and sitting down beside Will, who was also smiling. J.T. returned to his seat, slightly embarrassed, beaming nevertheless.

“Well, I’m glad everybody is so happy,” Emerson said agitatedly, clearly ready to continue his rant about the flaws inherent in the book being discussed. “Can we continue, please?”

“Yes, sir,” Carrie said, feigning rapt attention. J.T. stifled a laugh. Carrie winked at him, leaning forward and appropriating a very somber expression.

Emerson adjusted his spectacles and crossed his legs. “Well then, where was I?”

“He hates all aspects of this book,” J.T. whispered to Carrie, anxious to keep her attention on him. Her eyes flashed his way and she leaned very slightly toward his armchair.

“To be honest, I haven’t read it. I came to suggest a book for next week,” Carrie said, and J.T. noted she was very good at talking out of the side of her mouth while keeping her head forward. He leaned closer to her.

“Really?” he muttered, “What book?” He felt Will staring at him in amusement, but he kept his attention to the blonde woman.

“Ever read Water-type Down?” J.T.’s eyes widened in excitement and he nodded rapidly. “It’s good, isn’t it?”

“The best!” He did not want to seem overeager, but she had just named his absolute favorite book, which very few people seemed to know even existed.

She smiled and looked at him, her pale blue eyes meeting his gray ones. “Why don’t you take me for coffee and we can rave about it together?”

J.T.’s heart skipped a beat. He could see Will’s face vaguely beyond Carrie’s; the psychic winked at him, pointing at Carrie and flashing the thumbs up. Go for it, he mouthed, nodding in encouragement.

“I...I would like that very much,” J.T. stammered.

Could we?” Emerson asked. He was frowning over his glasses at J.T. with the sourest of expressions, visibly unimpressed.

“Yes, sir,” J.T. said. Carrie snickered and he felt his heart leap.

….....................................................................................

-2009-

With Preston’s injury, escape had not occurred to either him or Logan as a viable option; instead, the two had allowed the gray-clad wiry man confiscate their Pokémon and escort them into the smaller pocket of the tunnel he had come from. It was dimly lit by warm red lamplight, but after his eyes adjusted, Preston could make out the dimensions of the chamber well enough.

There were three other figures in the room, two women and a Crobat, clearly unconscious, its wings draped sadly around its violet body in the corner of the stony recess. Preston started at the sight of the younger of the girls. It was the same ruby-haired Skye member who had been pulled out of the Olivine Gym with Alec, who had held the boy at gunpoint by the harbor. She was sitting with her knees pulled protectively to her chest, her eyes wide and her face bloodless. She alone was not dressed in gray-blue uniform; instead a stained white dress hung limply around her thin limbs.

“You,” Preston said, disoriented by the look of distress on her face; she was in company of teammates, after all. She didn’t look to be on the best of terms with them at the moment.

“Where’s Alec?” she asked immediately, and Preston was surprised to hear genuine concern in her voice. Before he could answer, the other female voice cut through the dim cave.

“You’re NOT in a position to be asking questions, Natalia.” Standing over Natalia was the woman Preston attributed the deeper voice to; Amy, her partner had called her. She was impossibly tall, at least six-and-a-half feet by Preston’s estimation, and as such her figure seemed stretched disproportionately. Her face was long and angular, her complexion dark. She had applied bright ice-blue lipstick to her thick lips, which contrasted garishly with the precisely cut black bangs that ended at her eyebrows. Her eyes were black and sharp, calculating.

“But of course,” she said, sweeping Preston over quickly with her cold eyes, lingering a moment on his splinted leg, “Will would assign Joe Preston to Alec’s protection. It’s been a long time since I’ve laid eyes on you, Joe.”

The familiarity of the way she addressed him made Preston uneasy. Her male partner seemed confused as well. “How do you know this guy, Amy?”

The woman smiled, and it wasn’t a kind gesture. “Well, Brodie, I was surveillance on this guy back during the hunt we were doing for Skylar. In ‘04.” Preston felt his blood go cold. “I helped capture his poor wife. I was there to witness the beautiful descent into madness as we tortured her for information.”

Preston lunged and fell to the ground for his effort; his leg was not capable of holding his weight. Logan ran to his side immediately, but he refused her help. He was heaving, his gaunt face pale. His bandage was beginning to bleed through. He regained his composure, pushing himself to an upright position and glaring at Amy, a vein pulsing in his temple. “Did you do it?” he asked levelly after a time.

“Do what?” Amy asked innocently.

“Were you the one,” Preston began quietly, “who branded the Skye logo onto her back. The one who ripped her hair out, kicked her ribs in? Did you drive the chutes up her fingernails personally? Did you -” He stopped here, shaking with suppressed rage. Brodie looked just as shocked as Logan at this information, his jaw dropped. All eyes fell on Amy, who was smiling calmly.

“Now Joe,” she said coyly, “Do I look like a woman capable of that kind of violent behavior?” Preston continued staring at her, his breathing ragged. Logan realized in horror that he was very close to passing out. Amy turned to Brodie. “You did take their Pokémon, correct?” Brodie nodded, indicating the bundle of Poké Balls in his arms. “Good. But just to do the job perfectly,” She pulled out a gun, pointing it at Preston, its silver barrel catching the light of the lamp lit at her feet. “Gabriel would want them out of the way for the next stage of his plan.”

Brodie stammered. “Would The Phoenix like that? I thought he said that nobody gets hurt-”

“These two...quite dangerous people, I’m sure, at some point,” Amy started, shaking her head at the injured old man and the scared blonde girl, her blue lips curling upward, “are part of Alec Gideon’s pathetic ‘guard’. He must be in the cave somewhere. If we removed the opposition and delivered the Wing to Gabriel, do you really think he would care if a few people died?” Logan was inching toward Preston, whose forehead was dripping, his eyes trained warily on the gun.

“Look at her hands,” he muttered to Logan, who seemed to find this an odd request. She looked all the same.

The hand holding the gun was like the rest of Amy’s body, slender and dark. But the other hand was gloved in sleek forest-green leather. Logan frowned, looking at Preston, more than a little worried about his sanity in his present state. “Why does that matter -” she began, but she was interrupted.

“Oh, shut UP,” Amy said, her eyes rolling. The bare hand cocked the gun trained on Preston’s forehead. “If you must know, I only watched your wife’s torture. A shame, really. I would’ve liked to say I took part in the removal of both Prestons from our world.” She smiled at this prospect, finger tightening.

Logan shouted, “NO!” but not before the woman pulled the trigger. Logan slammed her eyes shut just in time, the last image burned in her brain Preston’s weary face frozen in disbelief. She heard the body hit the ground with a sickening crash.

….....................................................................................

-1995-

Will was helping J.T. into his newly-purchased tuxedo; the thirty-five-year-old man had never worn such fine clothing and was unfamiliar with the feel of a form-fitting vest and coat. The two were in the small groom’s suite that had been rented at the Victory Inn in Violet City, along with Morty and J.T.’s childhood friend Jesse.

“You feeling up to this? Not gonna back out?” Jesse asked, stroking his grand black mustache and chuckling heartily. He had been hitting J.T. with quips like this all weekend, poking fun at the fact that he had been a bachelor for thirty-five years. J.T. did not answer, but then again speaking would be quite difficult at this moment; Will was working furiously at the burgundy-colored bowtie around his neck, constraining the air allowed into his lungs.

“He’s gonna be fine,” Morty said, his cool fuchsia-colored eyes trained calmly on the setting sun outside; the wedding was to take place at sundown. The decorations were all in order on the lake. Will had arranged everything exactly as his friend had requested: a wedding on the water, a smooth glass deck erected over the small body of water surrounding the Sprout Tower. There were a large amount of canopies and arches laced with delicate cream-colored flowers: white chocolate roses, whipped-butter Jaboca berries, patience ivory tulips. Lights and lanterns were erected everywhere, poised to be lit at the arrival of dusk.

“Of course he’ll be fine,” Will said, still attacking the ribbon around J.T.’s neck. Finally he succeeded at tying the bow, letting out a cry of victory and patting down the gym leader’s lapels. “There,” he announced, and stepped back to admire his handiwork. J.T. did look very pale, but otherwise quite becoming. His long, dark brown hair was brushed and neatly party back so the curls were not quite as prominent; the product covered up the gray hairs that were beginning to creep in at the roots. His strong jaw was covered with the faintest of stubble which only served to highlight his strongest features, throwing shadow on his high cheekbones and smoothing out the slight lines that were beginning to form around his mouth. His jacket fit his broad form quite well.

“Feeling good,” J.T. said, putting his hands in his pockets and looking himself over in the mirror, shaking his head slightly and adjusting his position to a more confident stance. “How does that look?” he asked, patting his hair on the right side. His groomsmen burst out laughing.

“Sexy as ever,” Jesse said, his thick belly shaking with mirth. J.T. allowed himself a grin as well, realizing how ridiculous he was being.

“Carrie’s going to love it,” Will said, smiling fondly at his friend. J.T. sighed, nodding and checking the clock on the mantle.

“Almost time,” he said. “Is there anything we haven’t done yet? One final, wild thing we need to do before I’m committed forever?” The four exchanged glances, frowning and giving this great thought.

“Haven’t gone skinny dipping with Carrie,” Jesse said hopefully. J.T. shot him a dirty look and his youngest friend smiled apologetically. He had an often-articulated soft spot for the gentle blonde from the book club, the one that his good friend happened to be marrying in half an hour.

“Know what we need to do?” Morty said, his voice so different from the other men’s, soft, never more than a silky whisper.

“What’s that?” Will asked eagerly.

Morty smiled mischievously. “Burn the bachelor pants.” J.T. blushed; it was common knowledge that the man owned a set of ridiculous Horsea-covered flannel pants that he wore at every available opportunity when alone in his apartment. The others laughed again and lunged at the groom’s suitcase, digging for the horrid pants. J.T. grudgingly allowed Jesse to torch the pants with his Growlithe, the final step of acceptance that he would never be alone again.

Night fell, and the lamps were lit. The lake glowed with gorgeous golden light, the lanterns glowing exquisitely and illuminating the glassy still water. A thistled arch stood in the middle of the clear extension off the waterfront, a live band comprise entirely of string instruments to the right. The waterside echoed with excited voices, every seat on the transparent deck filled. The body count for the wedding was relatively small; J.T. and Carrie had mutually agreed to limit the wedding to family and very close friends. “And everyone from the book club,” Carrie had insisted, pointing at the name she had pencilled onto the very small list.

“Fine,” J.T. had muttered, rolling his eyes and adding Emerson to the queue of people to invite. Emerson was sitting near the back now, his spectacles flashing in the lamplight, peering back at the tent which contained the bride, groom, and the wedding party.

J.T. and Carrie were very careful not to look at each other. J.T. was near the front of the enclosed space, peering out, Will over his shoulder. Carrie lingered toward the back with the bridesmaids and her parents, and although the groom had made sure to shield his eyes when his fiancé entered the tent, Jesse immediately assured him she looked radiant in her vermillion dress.

“I think it’s time,” Will whispered, slapping his back. “Good luck, kiddo.” He extended his arm, indicating J.T. stand behind him. The flower girl, Carrie’s little cousin Laura, was hopping up and down anxiously in the back, spilling purple petals everywhere. J.T. took a deep breath and resisted the urge to look back at Carrie, remembering their promise that neither would lock eyes until the wedding.

“Let’s go,” said Lance brightly behind them. It was traditional that a wedding be officiated by a Pokémon League member, usually the city’s gym leader, but in special cases like this, when an actual League Official was being married, the Champion himself was summoned for the ceremony. Emerson had been very bitter at his exclusion.

Jesse and Morty walked out first, followed closely by Will, who winked at J.T. before exiting. J.T. clenched his fists, took a deep breath, and emerged from the tent, smiling nervously at the crowd and singling out his parents in the front row, his father leaning heavily on his cane and waving merrily, his mother tearing up. He made his way across the glass deck, feeling each step reverberate off the water. He took his place next to Will slightly to the left of center, awaiting the bride with mounting excitement.

Carrie was led in by her parents, Kevin and Michelle. She had been quite insistent that both walk her down the aisle, atypical to the traditional wedding in Johto, where the mother alone traveled with the bride. J.T. felt his heart skip a beat when he finally laid eyes on his fiancé. She looked resplendent, her figure covered in scarlets and crimsons like a…

“Like a phoenix,” Will said, grinning, reading his best friend’s mind.

“This is a dream,” J.T. muttered back to him, still awestruck. Will laughed and patted his back.

“Til the end?” he asked.

J.T. smiled. “Til the end.”

The ceremony was supremely quick, a heartbeat, perhaps the one that had been skipped over moments before. Lance did most of the talking, but Carrie and Will had agreed they would write out their vows.

“Joseph Thomas Preston,” Carrie said, her eyes sparkling, clasping his calloused hands and squeezing, a familiar squeeze that set J.T. at ease. “Everyone who knows me knows that my life has been all over the place. No stability, no rhythm, no...structure. I was a wild child,” she said, grinning, and the Phelps guests especially tittered in amusement at this, “that is, until I met you. You are my rock, Joseph, you are the gravity that keeps me from floating into outer space. You are kind, you are charming, you are smart, Arceus’ Plates you don’t know how rare that quality is.” Another laugh from the guests. “And above all, Joseph, you are good.” She smiled, her voice breaking and her eyes sparkling for an entirely different reason. “Thank you for marrying me.” A sigh from the audience.

J.T. squeezed her hands, sensing his time had come. “Caroline Scarlett Phelps,” he began, reaching into his breast pocket to pull out his carefully written vows, his hands trembling. He realized his reading glasses had been left in the groom’s suite, and he felt panic overtake him. “I left my glasses in my room,” he whispered, squinting at the card.

“Can you remember what it says?” Carrie asked gently. J.T.’s heart was pounding and he stared blankly at the paper, looking back at Will for support. Will only shook his head, raising his eyebrows over his horn-rimmed glasses and looking expectantly at his friend.

“Screw it,” J.T. muttered after a moment, Carrie’s eyes trained on his. “Okay, so, this is from the heart,” he said aloud, addressing the audience, throwing the card over the side of the deck and retaking Carrie’s hands. “Carrie. My life up to this point has been full of wonderful friends, family, and Pokémon. But...but that’s it! I was alone, for thirty years I was alone, and I was fine with that. ‘When’s J.T. getting married,’ I was asked this every holiday. But I was fine with it. Until the day I laid eyes on you. When you walked into that book club, I suddenly realized how truly alone I was, because you weren’t part of my life. Carrie, you…” He trailed off, his own voice shaking with emotion. Carrie gave his hands another squeeze. “You are my everything. You give me purpose, a reason to wake up every day. I look in your beautiful eyes and I see the man I can be, not the one I am. You are the reason I will never be alone again.” He beamed, his gray eyes lighting up in a rare fully-engaged smile. “Thank you for marrying me.”

….....................................................................................

-2009-

“Did you hear that?” Alec asked quickly. The path he and Chase were traveling along had been gently sloping downward for the past ten minutes, and according to Preston’s map, at the next turn there would be a way into the lower tunnel. A great cracking sound had echoed from that general direction, and it made Alec’s blood chill; he knew a gunshot when he heard one.

Chase had gone very white. “That’s not one of our weapons,” he said.

Alec frowned. “Well, I hope not, unless you think Preston was secretly hiding a gun in his coat...that wouldn’t surprise me, come to think of it,” he said after a moment of consideration.

“No, that’s not what I meant,” Chase said quickly. Alec shook his head, still confused. Chase’s lips had dried; he wet them slightly before speaking again. “During the war, I heard more guns firing than I would ever wish on anyone. I think you know this, guns weren’t really a thing before the war. Our side’s weapons were...kinda lame, really. If we didn’t have Pokémon NeoEarth would have creamed us in two days. And, well, during the war...our side got ahold of some of their weapons, learned how to use them. How anyone could want to use machinery designed to kill is beyond me.” He shuddered although the cave had not changed temperature.

“So, what…” Alec prompted after some time.

Chase shook his head, his voice soft.“So that was the sound of one of THEIR guns. NeoEarth’s guns. It just doesn’t sit right in our world.”

Alec considered this, then: “Well, still! It’s a gun! Somebody just freaking shot a gun in the same cave as us!” He and Chase looked ahead in silence, waiting to hear more noise.

“Do you think we should...check it out?” Chase asked after a while. Before Alec could answer, the ground underneath them began to shake.

“Oh, for Ho-oh’s sake, is it another cave-in?” Alec cried, but he was saved a verbal answer by a practical one. A group of several Lairon were storming from the direction of the gunshot, icy blue eyes wild and solid silver armor flashing in outrage.

“Lovely,” Chase said, and he reached for his belt.

“What are you doing?” Alec asked. He had already scooped Magby’s small warm body up into his arms, ready to run, the duck-footed creature shaking his arms in excitement.

“Were you actually going to run away?” Chase asked, astonished. He had Torkoal and Nidoking’s Poké Balls in his right hand, Heracross’s in his left.

“Were YOU going to fight them?” Alec yelped, staring at the furious rampaging creatures, clearly shaken up by the foreign sound in their tunnels. Chase scoffed, throwing his own Pokémon into play and standing his ground. Alec took a deep, calming breath and put Magby down, not about to be one-upped by the older trainer.

“Machop, Magby, let’s do this,” he said, producing Machop’s Poké Ball. There was an enormous roar, and the cave wall up ahead exploded. In the cloud of dust and rubble that billowed out from the breaking point, another dozen Lairon and Aggron swarmed out. Chase looked at Alec, wishing he had a slightly more experienced trainer fighting by his side. If there was one thing he missed from the war days, it was having Will fighting by his side in perfect synchronization.

“You take the left, I’ll take the right?” he asked, understanding it was basically his fight to win. Alec glared at him.

“I’LL take the right,” he said, being difficult for difficulty’s sake. Chase gritted his teeth but complied, not needing petty arguments at a moment like this; the first group of Lairon were seconds away.

“Torkoal, Overheat! Nidoking, Earth Power, Heracross -” he began, and Alec interrupted him.

“Magby, Smokescreen!” The miniscule red creature puffed his cheeks, producing great clouds of black smoke. In seconds, Chase couldn’t see three feet ahead of him.

“GREAT, Alec, just perfect!” he yelled, biting his lower lip to avoid yelling. He had no idea what was happening now; they were fighting blind. An ominous crashing and roaring announced the arrival of more stampeding cave-dwellers.

“I’m sorry!” Alec called out bitterly. He and Chase stood, united but separate in the darkness, and steeled themselves, waiting for the wave to hit.

….....................................................................................

Logan screamed, squeezing her eyes tighter and covering her face, sobbing uncontrollably. That poor man, she thought, Preston’s frightened face still burned into her memory. She prepared herself for her own fate, her body tense and her breathing restricted, expecting the second shot to be as agonizing as the first had sounded. She whispered Tracey’s name and waited.

Moments passed and all she could hear was grunting and angry growls. She allowed herself the tiniest of glimpses at the area directly in front of her. Amy was wrestling with the ruby-haired girl who Logan had completely forgotten about. Brodie lay unconscious on the ground by the exit to the tunnels, and suddenly Logan realized whose body she had actually heard.

“Natalia, let GO of me!” Amy roared, twisting the other girl’s arms so that she was bent into submission in front of the tall figure, who had not relinquished her gun. Natalia cried out and there was an ugly cracking sound - it seemed her shoulder had been dislocated. Logan’s heart pounded and she looked to her left. Preston was lying prone, but she saw no signs of a bullet wound.

“Preston,” she said, taking his shoulder and shaking. He moaned, his eyes fluttering and a shadow crossing his lines face. “Preston!” she said, her voice shrill, relief spreading through her body. A scream echoed through the cave and Amy’s gun flew across Logan’s blurred vision; it seemed the woman had been disarmed.

“Logan,” Preston said firmly, his eyes snapping open, “get the Pokémon.” He pulled himself up, wincing in pain at his leg. Logan hesitated, looking at the continued wrestling between the Skye members. Natalia now seemed to have the upper hand; she had Amy in a headlock. Preston nudged Logan urgently and Logan started her way, slowly and quietly, away from her companion and toward Brodie’s motionless body.

“Come ON!” Natalia shouted, kicking Amy’s long legs out from under her. Amy fell, her limbs flying, and let out a snarl. Logan chose each step carefully, trying not to draw attention to herself. Brodie’s lanky body was strewn face-down across a jagged rock, blood seeping gently from his temple. Logan checked his pulse; he was still alive, the beat steady. Stealing furtive glances back at the fighting, she kneeled down, scooping up her own Poké Balls along with Preston’s.

Amy screamed; Natalia had stepped on her gloved hand. Tears filled the uniformed woman’s eyes, and she uttered one final curse before falling unconscious. Silence pervaded the room.

“Clever, targeting the wounded hand,” Preston said finally. Natalia had fallen to her knees, long flaming-red hair falling over her face. She was clutching her dislocated shoulder, trembling. Preston had pulled himself into a sitting position. Logan stood up and crossed to him, handing him his own Pokémon. “Thank you,” he said. “Can I see your shoulder?” he asked, reaching toward his bag, which was just beyond his reach. Logan grabbed it for the older man, surprised at its weight, dragging it to his side and crouching beside him, eyes trained warily on the Skye girl’s shivering figure. “Natalia, is it?” Preston said kindly. Natalia was proving unresponsive, holding herself and looking down.

“Maybe we should knock her out, to be safe,” Logan said uncertainly. She had no reason to believe the girl was worth helping; at this point, it seemed more worthwhile to return to the main tunnels and renew the search for Alec and Chase.

Preston looked the injured girl over for a long time before speaking. “We can’t just leave her without taking care of the shoulder. She saved us from a pretty certain death; the least we can do is return the favor. And healing is the only way I know how,” he said, reaching into his bag for the remainder of his supplies. “Does it hurt?” he asked conversationally, heaving himself up to a sitting position and looking inquisitively at the girl who was quite possibly lethal.

Natalia nodded slowly, her deep brown eyes lifting and looking incredulously at Preston. “You know who I am,” she said blankly, shooting a swift glance at Logan before refocusing her gaze on the man’s kind face.

“I do,” he said, pushing himself up and shouting in pain. “Logan, help me move,” he said, reaching out. Logan took his arm, helping the tall man stumble over to the area Natalia was crouching in. The girl showed signs of discomfort, but did not move.

“Why aren’t you leaving me?” she asked in astonishment. Preston shook his head, reaching out and grasping her shoulder gingerly. She shouted immediately; Preston recoiled, putting his hands up in a gesture of goodwill.

“You must not have many decent people on your Team if you think I would just leave you like this,” Preston said, reaching toward her shoulder again. Logan seemed just as confused as Natalia.

“Preston,” she said, not bothering to keep her voice down, “She’ll be fine, let’s go.” Preston ignored her, kneeling down with difficulty and looking Natalia in the face. The girl’s attempt to remain stone-faced crumbled; the pain was too much.

“Do you trust me?” Preston asked steadily.

“I don’t have any reason to trust you,” she said slowly. “I don’t trust anyone.”

Preston smiled slightly. “Well, that’s certainly one way to lead your life.” Logan failed to see the humor in the situation. “This might hurt a little,” he said, and he turned to Logan. “Can you give me that loaf of soda bread we packed in the blue container?” Logan obeyed hesitantly, handing the cold bread to the older man. “You look like you need this,” he said. He broke off a small piece, offering it to Natalia, who did not accept.

“Do you think I’m an idiot?” she asked derisively.

Preston shook his head. “No.” He offered the bread again. She reached out slowly with her good arm, staring at the doughy gift and frowning. “You eat it,” he said helpfully. Natalia did so, her eyes fixed sharply on Preston, as if searching for betrayal in his calm gray eyes.

“Thank you,” she said stiffly.

Preston handed her the rest of the loaf. “Now, bite down on this but don’t chew. We don’t want you biting your tongue off. That would bite,” he said, smiling in apology at his own small pun. Natalia did as he said.

“Preston,” Logan began, but in one fluid movement, the man had grabbed hold of the girl’s shoulder at the collarbone with one hand and pulled at her injured arm with another. In one great, resounding snap, Natalia’s shoulder was popped back into place. She let out a muffled scream through the soda bread, her eyes widening in shock.

“There,” Preston said, clasping his hands together. “Now you can eat the rest,” he said, looking Natalia over for further injuries. The girl ate hungrily, although her eyes never ceased darting between Preston and Logan.

“Could you help my Crobat? He was banged up pretty badly by Brodie,” the girl said after a time. Preston looked at the violet bat’s motionless form and nodded, reaching into his bag for medication.

“Preston!” The man turned his head to Logan, who looked positively livid. “What are we doing?” She was looking in disgust at the ruby-haired girl, taking in the tattered sundress and badly made-up face.

“We’re helping a girl who helped us,” he said simply.

“She said you know her,” Logan said, not backing down.

“I do, in a manner of speaking. This is that girl from Team Skye who keeps tracking Alec for Gabriel.”

Logan gasped, now positively repulsed. “How could you? What are you doing, associating with someone who’s been trying to hurt Alec?”

Preston shrugged. “I’m helping a girl who helped us,” he repeated.

Natalia stood up, drawing all focus back to her. She was scuffed and bruised, but it seemed she had sustained no other serious injury. “It’s true, I worked for Gabriel,” she said shakily, clasping her right hand with her left demurely. “But that part of my life is over. He betrayed me, he threw me out and left me to fend for myself in the harsh elements. I’m...I’m deeply sorry for everything I’ve done, for all the pain I’ve caused Alec,” she said. Preston heard absolute sincerity in her quiet voice.

“That’s actually the worst lie I’ve ever heard,” Logan said impatiently, looking to Preston for backup. He seemed interested in hearing the rest of Natalia’s defense.

“Look, I haven’t led a wonderful life. I’ve fallen in with the wrong people, made wrong choices at least a hundred times, but...well, Gabriel always said, to everything there is a balance. My choices kept me alive. And...well, I think now is the time for me to change. To begin repenting,” she said softly, shivering and hugging herself.

“Repenting?” Preston asked.

“I want to do what I can to help. I have information, I know Gabriel. I can protect you from him, I can help protect Alec. I only want the best for him.” Again, Preston recognized truth in the girl’s voice.

“You were burned, back at the gym,” Preston said. Logan let out an ugly noise which he ignored. “Were they able to fix it, at the hospital?”

“My face has been like this for a long time,” Natalia said, touching the left side of her face involuntarily. “Gabriel pushed me into a fire once. It’s just a fact of life, by now. I do what I can not to draw attention to it.”

A shadow crossed Preston’s face. Although she had made all the right inflections, kept her eyes evenly on his and touched her cheek in the correct, sad way, the ex-gym leader knew a bald-faced lie when he heard one.

….....................................................................................

-2004-

Chase was still on a high from his date with Kira; the two had gone ice skating at the Vermilion City Skatium, and after walking her home he had decided to venture into the Diglett’s Cave, perhaps do a little training with his Pokémon. He was whistling, his spirits lifted. The whole world seemed brighter, the boy felt invincible, and very little could change his mood. Grovyle strode beside him, his short green legs trotting at twice the speed his trainer’s did in order to match pace.

“This girl’s pretty special,” Chase said, winking at Grovyle, who merely shook his head, having seen Chase flip for girls twice as pretty as Kira and grow bored with them a week later. The fourteen-year-old ran his fingers through his black hair, humming and staring at the darkening sky. The clouds were a little thicker than he would have liked; perhaps it was going to rain. “You don’t believe me, do you?” Chase asked, his face falling slightly.

“Grooove,” Grovyle said, ignoring his trainer’s question and indicating the entrance to the Diglett’s Cave, eager to begin a fast-paced session of training. Chase held up his hand suddenly, shaking his head slightly and listening.

“Do you hear that?” There was a scream, a piercing, sustained one, coming from the rocky area just beyond the cave entrance. Chase looked at Grovyle in distress, and in unspoken agreement the two began running towards the source of the noise. They made their way around the gigantic boulders and walls that separated Diglett’s Cave from the rest of the grassy route beyond, halting when they reached company.

The sight was dreadful; a blonde woman was being accosted five-on-one by men in blue uniforms bearing a big ‘S’-shaped insignia. They had her pinned to the grassless ground, arms behind her small back. “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” she shrieked, kicking one of them wildly.

“You know exactly what we’re talking about. But no matter,” said one of them calmly, a red-faced man with blunt features, “We have ways of making you talk.”

“Leave that woman alone!” Chase yelled, throwing caution to the wind. Grovyle sighed, understanding there was no turning back and calling the police now. The blunt-faced man turned slowly, rigidly, to face the young black-haired boy.

“No! No, leave, get away from here!” the woman yelled, clutching her stomach and locking eyes with Chase, shaking her head frantically. Chase took a hesitant step forward, unsure of what to do. “You don’t know me, don’t do anything stupid for me!” she shouted. She received a blow to the head, effectively silencing her. The man with the flat red face looked Chase over critically.

“Tie him up, too,” he said in an ugly, steely voice. Before Chase knew what was happening, he was knocked over the head from behind; apparently there had been more than five gang members. He blacked out.

When Chase came to, he was tied to a jagged stone, his arms wrapped far behind his back, his mouth gagged. A great group of blue-uniformed men and women were surrounding the woman from earlier, who was not attached to anything but bound all the same. The sky was dark, and a fire had been lit in the center of the mass of bodies. A red-haired man was standing over the woman, apart from the rest of the group. The flames lit him so that he looked positively demonic. Chase struggled, but could not move his body even an inch; out of his periphery he saw that his bag and Poké Balls were lying abandoned by another black rock with a bunch of other assorted goods.

The woman looked positively dreadful. Her emerald dress had been ripped open in the back; her flesh was charred and raw, a crude ‘S’ pulsing in the angry welts across her shoulder blades. Her curly blonde hair was partially gone, entire sections of her scalp bare. Her face was pale, empty, her eyes blank.

“So only Will knows how to harness the power of the legendary birds, that’s what you’re saying,” the man said slowly, smoothly. He had an icy-blue stare that seemed to penetrate the woman’s very white skin.

“Yes,” she said, her voice hollow.

“You MUST know, your husband and Will are so inseparable, the man practically sleeps with the psychic. Preston MUST have been told the secret at least once! How do we capture the birds?” The woman remained silent. The mention of her husband seemed to have rattled her.

“That’s all we’re going to get from the girl, Gabriel,” belched a deep voice from the mass of gang members.

“Oh, we’re just getting started.” The man nodded to a reedy, thin man with nervously clasping hands at his right shoulder. “Get the chutes,” he said, leering. The man nodded, his bulging eyes sparking with sudden energy. “Amy, bring the boy here,” he said, his eyes stabbing into Chase as he glanced the boy’s way. A dark, impossibly tall woman towered over Chase, bending down and untying his hands, shoving him roughly forward, so that he was mere feet away from the fire.

“Not the boy!” the woman shouted. This alone seemed to motivate her. She placed her hand on her stomach, and Chase noticed in horror that there was a gentle bulge beneath her hand. This woman was nearly a mother.

“Here they are, Gabriel,” said the reedy man, his voice quite anxious. Chase locked eyes with the woman, who looked positively terrified now that she understood what the next step of the torturing process was. Chase watched numbly as they kicked the woman, tore at her, as Gabriel drove the bamboo chutes up her fingers...the woman was a ghost, nothing more, and Chase could do nothing, still bound and gagged, lying powerless not two yards away.

“Maybe we should torture the boy, too, maybe that will loosen her tongue,” Gabriel said quietly.

“No, Gabriel, the boy doesn’t matter,” said a rational voice behind him.

“Do you want to find the birds, Skylar?” the red-haired man said impatiently.

“Yes…” The level voice again.

“Then let me do things my way,” Gabriel growled. He looked down at Chase, smiling, a very nice smile which terrified Chase more than anything else so far. He reached delicately for Chase’s bound hands, smiling still more broadly. He bent down to the boy, looking him in the face.

“I don’t mean to cause pain when it isn’t necessary,” he said somberly, “but in this case...it absolutely is.” He fingered the chutes delicately, his icy blue eyes fixed on Chase’s hands. The next two hours were beyond pain; they were insanity, all spots and red flashes, splinters and screams and searing hot pain.

The next thing Chase Tang remembered was awakening in a cool white room, a man in a lab coat sitting across from him.

“How are you today, Chase?” He had a very welcoming voice. Chase flinched at the sound of it.

“Where...where am I?” he asked, trembling.

“This is the Vermilion Psychiatric Hospital, Mr. Tang. You’ve been here for a month. Don’t you remember?” Chase noticed his hands were shaking. He looked down at them; they were quite as he remembered, not a blemish or scar to be seen. “I’m Dr. Hume,” said the man, looking expectantly at Chase. “We’ve had regular sessions together for two weeks. Surely you remember…”

Chase had lifted himself from the couch he had been sitting in, crossing to the single mirror hanging above the minty-green potted plant in the corner. “Chase,” Dr. Hume said quietly. But Chase merely gasped, staring in awe at his reflection. His face had remained quite intact; still roguishly handsome, with a soft chin and long nose, soft brown eyes. But his hair was what caught his eye.

It was pure white.

….....................................................................................

-2009-

“Leaf Tornado, Servine!” Chase called in a last-ditch effort. Despite the best efforts of both boys, the flux of Pokémon that continued attacking had reached insane heights, forcing both trainers down to one Pokémon: Chase, his Servine, and Alec, Pupitar. The horde was thinning, though: it seemed at least that the Lairon were retreating, many turning from the fight and burrowing back into the dark recesses of the tunnels. Servine glowed his signature jade color, releasing a frenzied storm of thin, jagged leaves from the collar around his neck at the silver-backed opponents.

“Pupitar, Chip Away!” Alec said half-heartedly. His worst fears had been confirmed: Pupitar was slower than her previous form, and this was royally messing with the boy’s battle tactics. Pupitar seemed overwhelmed, her large white eyes watering slightly and her diamond-shaped gray body wilting under stress.

“Use Roar,” said a familiar voice. Alec raised his eyes in disbelief. Standing on the other side of the remaining Lairon and Aggron were five figures, two of which were Pokémon. The taller of the creatures, Electivire, pumped his large meaty fists together and released a cry that was less deafening than the one that had caused the cave-in, although apparently far more lethal. Immediately the wild Pokémon scattered, all thoughts of attack put out of mind in desperation to escape the screeching noise emerging from the big yellow tiger-like form. When the room was still again, all sounds of battle dissipated, Chase and Alec looked at each other. “Seriously, neither of you thought to use Roar?” Preston’s soft voice sounded weary. “How long have you been a trainer, again, Chase?” The two boys ignored the older man.

“We made it,” Alec muttered in a small voice, looking from Chase to Pupitar, who seemed relieved and slightly frightened of her trainer.

“Yeah, we did,” Chase said, kneeling down next to his reptilian companion. “Thanks,” he whispered to Servine, and then, looking up: “You too.” He stood and crossed to Alec, reaching out a hesitant hand. After a brief, awkward handshake, the two turned their eyes to the figures on the other side of the room.

“You survived,” Alec said bleakly. Logan seemed fine, although Preston looked like he needed immediate attention: the man was pale, dust filling the lines on his face. His right leg was in a rough cast, and he was leaning on his Sawsbuck for support. Alec exhaled, his heart rate slowing in relief from the battle, before his eyes landed on the third person in their group. “You,” he said, his eyes narrowing. Natalia was standing behind Logan and Preston, still dressed in her sundress from the encounter outside the tunnels. It seemed she was working very hard to go unnoticed, lurking in the shadows.

“Alec, I was so worried!” Logan cried, stepping forward and then sprinting to close the distance between herself and the boys. She pulled Alec into a deep hug, her eyes falling on Chase behind the boy and smiling weakly at him. “Hey,” she said softly, pulling back, her robin’s-egg eyes looking Alec over for injury. Chase returned Servine to his Poké Ball.

“Alec, Chase, it’s good to see you found your way,” Preston said, his tired voice breaking from the effort. Chase held up the small journal he and Alec had been taking turns interpreting. “Ah, yes, I’m glad you figured that out,” he continued, his eyes falling on the book. Upon Chase’s look of confusion and Alec’s of rage, he followed their eyes to Natalia and nodded. “Alec, I believe you know Natalia already. Chase, Natalia, Natalia, Chase,” he said, indicating the two should meet. Chase did not move. “Natalia’s going to come with us out of the caves.”

“This is a joke, right?” Alec said, looking to Logan for confirmation.

“No, he’s gone mad,” Logan whispered, shaking her head and glaring at the ruby-haired girl. Natalia pulled at her dress and locked eyes with Alec, her fierce gaze too much for him. He looked back at Preston, incredulous.

“I think he has,” Alec replied, shaking his head indignantly.

“I’m confused,” Chase said slowly. Preston urged Sawsbuck to move forward, reaching a hand back for the Team Skye girl.

“Chase, this is Natalia. She has tried to kill me twice, she’s the one from the gym who works for Team Skye. For Gabriel.” Alec’s voice shook. “Seriously, Preston, you aren’t serious, right?”

Preston shook his head. “Alec, she’s told me she’s sorry, and I believe her. She wants to help us. To help you.”

Alec hesitated, looking at Logan, who had taken his hand. “Help me what?”

Natalia cleared her throat. “I can speak for myself,” she said softly to Preston, stepping forward. Alec, Chase, and Logan stared. “Um, hi. Alec, I know you have no reason to trust me. Nobody ever has any reason to trust anyone, right? But...well, I do want to help you. I’ve wanted to for a long time now. Gabriel has a plan, Alec, one that you can’t stop. Or at least, you couldn’t.” She took a deep breath. “You don’t have to trust in me. But trust in this: I want Gabriel dead just as much as you do.”
 
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Scaldaver

Limitless
Earth, Air, Water, Fire

The lighthouse stood in solitary opposition to the blood red sun setting on the wide horizon. A harbor bell rang from across the sea, hollow and without echo. Sitting alone on the battered, weathered dock, a lean figure tossed a stone over the water and watched it break the magnificent streams of color reflected from the sun.

His hair was a brilliant shade of magenta, a striking departure from the rest of his appearance. He was clad in a suit coated with intricate patterns of murky blues and grays, which blended easily with the jetty in the fading light.
...Wow. I've never been one for description because it's rarely used so well, but this... wow you're articulate. I can envisage what you're saying perfectly, showing you are a true wordsmith who's obviously devoted much time to this. This juxtaposes my story so well, considering I never describe the characters at all.

opalescent
Words Scaldaver needs to look up to understand count: 1

A barely audible rustle to his left was enough to cause his gloved hand to shift adroitly to the side of his belt containing not the gun, but the spheres. He removed one, allowing it to enlarge in his hand, an unseen energy pulsing from it.
Nicely described, and would be a shock to any non-Pokemon fans!

Words Scaldaver needs to look up to understand count: 2

“Show yourself.” Out of the shadows stepped a second figure, this one female. She was adorned in the same cloudy colors as the man, although her outfit was clearly a mass-produced uniform. A shape half her size skulked behind her, hovering about a foot off the ground, its four wings beating furiously but silently.

“Gabriel, the boy has been spotted.” The man stood at once, stepping to the same level as his subordinate. The ball remained ready in his hand.
My only gripe here is that it's uncertain who's talking or being referenced: Either the woman or original man could have said 'Show yourself', and I've no clue what man is talked about, or where he stands from, where he was, etc...

You’re sure it’s him?” The girl nodded. “I see. Where is he?”

“He’s heading this way, as you predicted. The city has been set for his imminent arrival. Once he’s passed through the second gates, he’s ours.” The man nodded, a hungry look in his eyes.
This is slightly clearer than before, though I'm not 100% upon first reading whether the girl was talking originally.

“Good. I’m trusting you’ve secured the western perimeter as well. The last thing we need is for him to escape into the Battle Frontier, where his potential allies will be dense.”

“We have every exit carefully monitored, sir.” The man returned his gaze to the expanse in front of them, his electric blue eyes seeing further than the disappearing sun.

“Return to your post, Natalia. And alert me when he arrives. I’ll be in the lighthouse, likely. Waiting.” The girl saluted, a gesture he did not return, and turned to her partner.

“Come on, Crobat.” The winged creature flared up, opening its wide mouth to reveal deadly-looking yellowed fangs. It puffed its body, the rubbery purple skin expanding. She grabbed one of its stubby, half-formed feet and turned to say a parting sentence to Gabriel, but in her three seconds of distraction, the man had vanished without a sound. She frowned, used to his enigmatic ways but still disappointed. “Let’s go.” She tugged at her Pokémon and the misshapen silhouette of the two rose twenty feet in the air and glided slowly toward the city overlooking the water.
I'm reviewing this as I read through, and I currently like the effect of not describing how the people say things, though I think for the sake of knowing who's talking it may have been helpful. That said, it does add delightfully to the air of mystery.

“Low kick, now! Now, now, now!” Alec Gideon was impatient. His Machop’s reflexes were far too slow, and it was for that precise reason he’d lost against Whitney, he just knew it. The short, ash-colored creature was sweating profusely, trying to obey his trainer’s orders under the weight of the brace that was pulling at every one of his tiny muscles.
I don't know why, but I think it would flow better if the speech was a line above 'Alec Gideon was impatient', if anything to not indicate the speech and that phrase are completely, directly linked (whereas 'Alec shouted impatiently' etc would have been better). I'm also finding it hard to visualise this brace: Machop is both under its weight but the weight is pulling at its muscles...

As a side note, not really a problem per se, but I thought Machop to be more green than ash-grey.


“Machop...Ma...” it panted, dropping to the ground and extending its leg in a feeble attempt at an attack. Alec groaned, yanking his rucksack from the ground and closing the distance between him and his shuddering Pokémon.

“The point of the Macho Brace is to make you work, Machop! It’s supposed to increase your muscle mass by at least ten percent! And until you show better results than that dismal failure against Happiny, you’re keeping that on. Now here...” He produced a zippered green bag and pulled out a Super Potion. “Drink this. We’ll take a break, but don’t think you’re getting out of push-ups every half hour. Got it?” Machop nodded wearily, propping himself into a sitting position and taking the medicine with shaking hands.
Woooow I hate this guy. He better either turn around or get brutally mauled by that Machop: either way I'm good. Okay, kidding, that's a bit over the top, but if you're intending to make this guy sound stern to the point of annoying, you've done well.

Alec Gideon hated to lose, because it was simply not an option in his family. For generations his fathers had made significant advances in the history of the Johto region, and each son the Gideons produced was always followed by the question, “Will he live up to his father?” Because of this, Alec had every moment of his life mapped out for him, to the point where it had all become too much for him. After three years of technical school, Alec dropped out and left his house a disgrace, with nothing more than the clothes on his back and his family’s most precious heirloom, stolen and now hidden in the deepest pocket of his rucksack.
Okay, so now he has a reason to be a bit mean, but let's hope he gets over that. The only problem here is that it sounds like Alec has a great deal many individual fathers: 'For generations his fathers had made' - I think this could easily be re-worded, though.


“Now according to the map...Olivine City is still eleven miles from here. We’ll make it by nightfall if we factor in dinner and training. You done yet?” Machop was not finished with his drink, but he nodded just the same, crushing the orange container and tossing it aside. Alec scanned around. Route 28, though showing signs of population with its scrubbed picket fences and neatly laid gravel road, was currently deserted. A baby Rattata, its amethyst fur just sprouting and its front teeth barely protruding from its lips, crawled nervously across the path to its mother. The Raticate locked eyes with Alec and bared her massive incisors, stamping her three-toed feet and snarling. The trainer merely grunted. He threw his bag back over his denim-clad shoulder and produced Machop’s Poké Ball. “Off we go.” Machop reduced to a thin beam of glowing reddish light, pulled into his container with a gentle click. The trainer took a deep breath and began again on his long trek from Ecruteak City.
I like the detail of the Rattata and its mother, but I'm noticing how there hasn't been a single descriptor of speech anywhere I can remember... I suppose, however, that this does add to the feeling of the main character being quick and efficient.

He knew he wasn’t an advanced enough trainer to even attempt challenging Morty, the Ecruteak Gym Leader renowned for his symbiotic relationship with Ghost types. If his luck had run out against the Normal-type Leader Whitney, he felt the only other gym his Pokémon might fare well at was the Olivine Gym, its owner specializing in the Steel type. The journey straight from the city of Goldenrod to Olivine was long, though; he and his Pokémon had been walking without stop for five days straight, only pausing for brief two-hour naps.
I'm not sure 'symbiotic' is the best word here: unless Morty actually lives off his ghost Pokemon, that is. Perhaps you mean symbolic? Apart from that, this was a good way to fill us in on the way Alec is and fill in the past.

The boy had taken no more than a dozen paces when his Poké Gear began vibrating, ringing at a high intensity that could only mean a phone call. Rolling his eyes, he unhooked the device from his belt loop, expecting another pointless update on the adventures of his friend Tim and his Geodude.
Is his Geodude in the top percentage of Geodude?


“Who...is this?” Alec was not in the mood to be played with, not having eaten since eleven.
The ellipse indicates he is highly scared/curious, and shouldn't be there if he's just annoyed. Also, without knowing the current time, 'since eleven' is meaningless

“My identity is of no importance.” Of course not. “You have something I greatly desire, and it is my wish that you surrender it without a fight. However, I know your family and I know the blood that runs through your veins. Cooperation from you is unlikely. So do me a small favor? Take care of yourself.” Alec was utterly bewildered. He had very low tolerance for mind games.
The way this guy talks seems to jump about a bit - the rhetorical question seems out of place.

“This is the person that gave us your number! Be sure to thank her, if you ever meet up with her again.” The figure shook and let out a noise that seemed somewhere between a croak and a shrill scream. Alec recognized it, his heart skipping a beat. It was his best friend from grade school, Amber Janson. She had called him yesterday after years of silence, and Alec hadn’t picked up. It had seemed random and uncalled for at the time, but Alec was fast to make the connections in his head.
The first exclamation mark is a bit out of place - it either makes the man sound overly joyous or bitterly frustrated. Also, it would be nice if we had a passing remark as to why he didn't pick up, but I'm sure this absence is indicative of inviting mystery, so I'll stay reserved on that one.

“When? Where? Where are you??” He didn’t know whether to be more frightened of encountering this man or...not. He didn’t want to think what would happen to Amber if she was left to the mercy of the man armed with both Pokémon and, it seemed, a gun. Should he go to the police? No, only ordinary people needed their assistance. This was his problem and he would handle it his way. He produced three Poké Balls, his hands still trembling ever so slightly. The spheres opened, and three small, humanoid figures materialized slowly from the plasma-like energy the balls produced.
Okay, this is either highly dumb or stupidly egotistical - if you intend to show this then well done, but if this is just a way of getting Alec to save the day, there would have been other ways (ie, the man on the phone saying he'll kill her if he rings the police). The ellipse makes him seem sophisticated and cunning, yet his previous speech juxtaposes this.


“Ladies and gentlemen, the S.S. Helen will dock in Olivine Harbor by nightfall. Please be sure your luggage is together for departure. We hope you have had a pleasant voyage and that you enjoy the rest of your time on board. Thank you.” A click was heard, and then a short series of beeps. “Lord, this has been a long trip. I’m getting too old for this, Terry. I can’t even stand half the people on this boat. It’s hard enough smiling at them at meal time, let alone making small talk about their absolutely captivating adventures through the wondrous and magical land of Unova. Give me some of that. What is it, Fuchsia’s Best?” Evidently, the captain had not pressed the correct button.
Comedic explanation of events juxtaposed by the seriousness and brutality of what we just read, making it seem unlikely this would really happen, making this sound rather forced.

Chase Tang sighed and beat his forehead three times, attempting to clear his head. He couldn’t help agreeing with the captain. This had been the voyage from hell. Aside from seasickness, which he had gotten over after vomiting into the small sink in his cabin three times, the trip had simply lasted too long - nine days now. He had become so jaded by his time at sea he had resorted to frequenting the casino with his companion. The trainers aboard had all proven far too inexperienced to pique Chase’s interest in battle, and Logan was more than happy to relax the vigorous training style her friend lived by for a day or two.
I like this passage - it gives decent insight into recent events and explains Chase's psyche pretty well.

Chase was a handsome young man, going on twenty and growing into manhood well, sporting a dark eleven-o-clock shadow on his otherwise fair features. His off-white hair hung loosely about his face, and his eyes burned with an intensity that more than enough females found alluring. There were secrets there that few could guess at.

In the four years since starting her journey, Logan Clements had become almost unrecognizable from the carefree girl with flowing blond hair and soft, forgiving features. Her hair was cut short to her shoulders now, and although still attractive, her face had a hardened, world-weary expression, her robin’s-egg eyes distant and veiled.

“I’m telling you, it’s the third from the top right!” Chase ignored his partner’s advice and went with his instinct, flipping the card second from the left. His instincts sucked. With a sinking feeling, Chase stared at the glowing miniature Voltorb under the card and nodded, bracing himself. The red-and-white globe was pulsing angrily, letting out angry metallic screeches and bulging dangerously.

“You were right, I should’ve picked the--” Chase’s lamenting was cut off by a blinding light and a series of explosions as the game self-destructed. All eyes turned to Chase and Logan’s station. Although the conceit of the game was to detonate when the challenger lost, it was still highly embarrassing to admit defeat in such a manner (and to wear the loss in the form of slightly singed eyebrows). The pair didn’t say a word, but it was agreed that the game was finished. Logan wanted to finish packing and Chase had lost the majority of his savings. Before going back to their room, they decided to allow their Pokémon one final venture around the ship’s luxurious promenade deck.
Again, I like this for the information is presents, in a detailed yet entertaining way. Although the idea of an exploding game seems a tad far-fetched, so does letting ten-year-olds battle with godly animals, so whatevs.

As they exited the room, smoke followed them into the hallway. Logan looked down both directions of the corridor before beginning the thought she’d been biting back since breakfast.

“You know that today--”

“I know what day it is. Trust me, I know.” Chase didn’t seem terribly interested in discussing the significance of the date, which Logan seemed to find rude.

“I know you never liked him, Chase, but in the end...well, he didn’t turn out to be awful--” Logan’s voice shook a little bit.

“Actions speak louder than words. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to relive--”

“But we got to! Chase, he didn’t mean for it to happen! There’s no denying that, you just can’t! Think of what he did for Tra...” But Logan grew silent. Chase seemed incensed by her final sentence, walking slightly faster down the richly-panelled hallway.

“He didn’t help Tracey much in the end, did he? And I will never forgive him for what he did to Sceptile. Never.” Logan’s eyes were watering, but this sign of weakness seemed to irritate her companion even more.

“He was still an honest and brave person, and that needs to be honored, Chase.” They had reached the elaborate mahogany door that led out to the large, open space between the ship’s funnels, specifically designated for trainer battles and recreation.

“Logan, you don’t celebrate someone’s death. Especially not someone who...you know.” Chase reached down to his belt and produced six Poké Balls, prompting Logan to do the same. Begrudgingly she released her party alongside his, not satisfied with the tactless ending to their argument. Chase solved all his problems by turning to his Pokémon. He was kneeling down next to his smallest team member. It was lime-green and serpentine, with intelligent bright-red eyes and a pure white underbelly. It stood on tiny hind legs, but it was clear without the support of its long tail it would collapse.

“Do you know how hard it is, looking in his eyes sometimes? All I see is his father.” Chase gently stroked his Servine’s smooth head and stood, facing his other teammates. “Alright, guys, we’ve got til nightfall. Let’s let loose!”
I think this foreshadowing is well-presented and adds a truck-load of mystery to this couple. I like how you didn't specify what was being said at all times, like a proper discussion, for the sake of the audience - this adds to the realism.


“Last one to the pool’s a rotted Slowpoke tail!”
...What? Where did that come from? If it came from Chase or Logan, a bit of pre-preemptive evidence for this out-of-place statement would have been helpful. For example, saying how Chase's features changed as he tried to take Logan's mind off topic before he says this would have worked, etc.


The miniature cherry-colored creature was curled in the fetal position, its beak-like mouth wide open and emitting wisps of smoke. Alec rolled his eyes. He had a strong suspicion Magby slept only when out of the confines of his Poké Ball, and wasted his precious free time in the sphere running and exerting all of his energy on pointless activity. Any time he was actually needed, he was exhausted.
It'll be interesting to hear what this world's inner Pokeball is like, if you care to elaborate.

“Magby, Mag maa,” he apologized frantically.
This is the first descriptor of speech to stick out to me (ie, that I've noticed). Just sayin'.

“I just need to check that we’re not lost. Can you use Will-o-wisp to light up this sign?” The trainer’s voice was not unkind, but direct and anxious.
I like that little detail there, just telling the readers that this guy isn't as heartless as we've been lead to believe.

They hovered just above Alec’s head, blue and purple streaks of excruciating heat to the touch that somehow chilled the surrounding air, making Alec draw his coat a little tighter to his body as he peered at the peeling sign, leaning forward to read it.
There's a lot of information in this sentence and sounds a little drawn out and difficult to read - especially: 'blue and purple streaks of excruciating heat to the touch that somehow chilled the surrounding air'. I reckon that needs a tad of reworking.

“There’s something weird going on. The light was useful, Magby. You can put it out. Well, we’re gonna have to pick up the pace, that’s all. Push-ups!” He and his Pokémon dropped to the ground instantly, mechanically pumping their arms to get blood flowing freely. Machop finished last, the Macho Brace tugging against his slender muscles. Alec sprang to his feet, pulling his denim jacket straight and giving each of his partners a piece of RAGE candy bar, devouring his portion. “Alright, let’s jog the next mile! We’re making good time, but it could be better.” He took off, leaving his partners to follow in his wake.
At the beginning of the paragraph I was going to comment on how nice Alec was appearing, then how odd it seemed he said get a move on and began exercise, then that he's nice for sharing candy, then how hench he is for outspeeding Pokemon. In short, I quite like this paragraph as, once again, you display information very well!

Also...
It trains by lifting rocks in the mountains. It can even pick up a Graveler with ease.
Though small in stature, it is powerful enough to easily heft and throw a number of Geodude at once.
It hefts a Graveler repeatedly to strengthen its entire body. It uses every type of martial arts.
All of these are Pokedex entries for Machop. In short:
JUST HOW HEAVY IS THIS BRACE?!

patriarch
Words Scaldaver needs to look up to understand count: 3

“Just promise me you’ll treat your Pokémon slightly easier, Mr. Gideon. That poor Machop was nearly buckling from that dreadful brace.” A smile split his scrubby gray beard, revealing several decaying teeth. “Now I’m sure they’ll have an opening at the Inn, I’m friendly with the owners. Drop my name if you want a discount. Now you just take care, young man.” Alec turned to leave, but before he could take his first step he felt Mr. Redding’s hand on his shoulder, calloused and firm. “Be on alert, too. That call you mentioned...sounds to me like you should enter that city on your guard. Rumor is, Team Skye is gathering strength again, worse than before, and if that was them...just keep your friends close. Goodnight!” He laughed jovially and the cabin door swung shut. Alec stood in the thick night, listening to the gentle hum of a Ledyba nearby.
Although this guy sounds fairly awesome, he's insanely irresponsible for doing nothing much when hearing a little girl is being tortured and that an evil group may want to capture a similarly aged boy except for expertly saying 'Watch out... Something might be up...'

Impulsively, he grabbed a Poké Ball from his belt. He released an olive-green, horned Pokémon, who shivered slightly from the cold but stared up at her trainer intently. Her horn was the same size as her rocky, sleek body, and peering out from sunken, scarred sockets, her eyes dilated, adjusting to the dark.

“Seems Team Skye is the likely culprit for that call earlier. I want you to keep me company to Olivine. Just you and me, Larvitar, just like old times. You in?” The lizard-like creature nodded, puffing her chest in importance.
Although I couldn't ID the Pokemon off the bat, well done for mentioning who it was later: some writers assume everyone will know, confusing some readers.

“Let’s take a look around, then. Even with a blackout, things are too peaceful.” Trainer and Pokémon stepped into the unknown, oblivious to the eyes watching their every move.
Firstly, Alec makes himself sound like James Bond. Second, despite him expecting to be rushed etc, he's still oblivious to being watched. It just seems off to me.

“The plan nears completion.” His Pokémon screeched hungrily.
Good job on bringing back the fact that his Pokemon was there, or this may have come off as cliched!

To be continued...
Speaking of cliched...

Look, all the errors I nit-picked were pretty minor - you're a brilliant writer who expresses yourself expertly: I like all the characters and their potential elements to the story, I like the way all the Pokemon have obvious personalities and differences, and I think the only way you could go wrong is to
a) make the plot too cliched, or
b) make some of your characters, namely the man on the phone and Alec, too unbelievable or change their outgoing personalities too often. If you want to make them sound spontaneous, try and establish a pattern early on.

Keep up the good work!
 
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