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Monsters Among Friends (AU, PG-13)

GingerDixie

Hopes and Dreams
Heyo, Ginger here!

So...here's a little bit of explanation where it's due. I've kind of been in the process of rewriting my Monsters Among Us fic. Felt I'd break up the massive story I had planned, clean it up, plan it out a little bit more rather than just slapping it on paper and being done with it. I kind of...have a tendency to do that.

Anyway, first things first...MAU is now a series, and this is going to be one of the (much shorter) first installments in said series. (20 or so chapters is better than 40 plus, right? Right?) Each new story will have a new protagonist, and be set in a new region...hopefully, this setup will be a bit easier to follow than what I had set up before...and the new limiting perspective should keep me from not spoiling everything from the get go.

Without further ado, I present the first story of the new Monsters Among Us saga: Monsters among friends!



Monsters Among Friends
by GingerDixie​



Prologue: Flight to the South

My name is Coba, and we are on the run again.

The worst part about being tied to a human is that you have to do whatever they do. That’s the life that my mother leads, and that’s the law of the land here in the region of Unova; in any other region of the world, really. My teachers tell me that we’ve come a long way, far from the days when humans did nothing but keep Pokemon crammed inside easy-to-carry capsules, made them fight in gladiator-esque battles, and laughed and bartered about it all the while—but such words meant little to me when I am constantly reminded of how our family’s particular arrangement of a “balanced human-and-Pokemon” relationship means that I have never lived in a place long enough to have a true home, my parents are unable to be happy together again, and that everyone on our side is miserable for it.

The funny thing is, if my father hadn't warned us, Earl might have caught us this time. It had pained my mother’s sponsor to do so, but my father's presence at the door last night could only mean that her ex-husband was in the vicinity...clearly violating the terms of the restraining order against him and probably in one of his moods, if my father's pale face was any indication. He was afraid. Very afraid. And as I watched my parents coil around each other for comfort, I listened to Lindsey patch through a desperate call to the Humiliau police department, explaining everything they needed to know while my mother stood, as usual, stoically above it all (it was our nature to look regal with practically everything we did).

She did not cry until we were pulling away in the van, our belongings and my dad behind as red and blue lights descended on the house that I had known for all of five months, and it slowly began to sink in that we were now, once again, uprooted and blowing in the breeze like a Jumpluff.

***

I wake up the next morning to find ourselves still in the van, the sun warming my back and my mother and her sponsor talking about nothing among themselves to pass the time. Every now and then, the van would bounce a little bit as my mother shifted in her seat, the leaves of her collar pressing into the ceiling as she arched her neck to do so and a few hisses and grumbles escaping her lips. Even built to large Pokemon specifications, my mother constantly laments how no car can ever be built to fit Serperiors like her. Couple that with the fact that she was quite late-term with my younger sibling, her discomfort was clearly evident.

“Are you alright, Virginia?” Lindsey finally says, taking one hand off the wheel and placing it against my mother’s scales. “Do you need me to stop? We can pull over up here so you can get out, stretch and bask for a little bit if you need…”

“The further we are from Humiliau, the longer it’s going to take for him to catch up again. So no. Keep driving. I will ask to stop when I cannot take it any longer,” Mom retorts shortly, finally settling in her seat as Lindsey falls silent. I feel bad for my mother’s sponsor. She knows my mother isn't mad at her, just the situation...but I know it doesn't make Mom’s tone any less sharp, nor the tension in the car any less. Lindsey had been driving nonstop since around 2 in the morning, and I could tell from the way she looked in the rearview mirror...she was tired too.

“Oh! Coba...you’re awake,” Lindsey finally said, making me jump. I hadn’t realized her eyes had met mine. “Good, that’s good...we can probably stop soon then...or at least pull off into a back road so we can stop somewhere to eat. I want to get as hidden as we can, obscure our tracks in case Earl is let out on a technicality...again.” She lets out a sigh, pulling her eyes off of mine and completely back to the road.

There’s a tense silence after that, and I take the opportunity to sit up in my seat, my tail flexing a bit from the effort...that’s when I notice the portion of Mom’s
tail that had wrapped behind her seat was coiled around mine. I blushed a little bit and let my tail fall. Mom hasn't held me like that since I was little…

“So what did the board say, Lindsey? Did you explain to the director why we’re having to transfer again?” My mom extends a vine and fiddles with the air vents in the car, and I feel a short burst of cold air against my scales. Lindsey takes that as a hint to turn the air conditioning down a little. Sponsoring a reptilian has made her quite privy to the compromises she had to make to keep her partner comfortable. “I would hate to stop in our next location, only to find out the department has gotten sick of our bouncing around Unova.”

“Virginia, they've understood before. And if they don't understand, they can talk to our lawyer.” Lindsey replies, flicking on the right hand blinker and merging over into an exit lane. Thick, bold, white letters spell out “Nimbasa City” on a green sign as we pass; a long time ago, I would have been excited to see it. A trip to Nimbasa meant the theme park, a whirlwind of sweets and clowns and merriment...and my parents, together and enjoying it beside me.

That wasn't a memory I wanted now.

“The director told me that they might have a position open in some of the bigger cities...perhaps even in Castelia. It's easy to get lost there. More policemen out on patrol...if Earl gets out again, it'll be harder for him to track us down, much less get up to our apartment.”

I frowned, noticing my mother’s snout dropping to the floor...thankfully, it seems Lindsey sees it too. “... Ginny, you know I don't mean it like that. I know it's hard. Hakim, if anything, has been the most supportive during this whole ordeal. But it's out of our hands. Earl is his sponsor, so he's not allowed to be near us either.” She presses two fingers lightly to her temple. “Of course, Earl chose the opportune time to force my hand for divorce. Right when you and Hakim were just starting to let your family grow.”

“Can we please just stop talking about it?” Mom finally replies, taking a deep breath. “Please. Let's just find a hotel, find a place to eat...and just stop rehashing the events of last night, shall we?”

Another awkward pause, another sign flashing by...this one advertising the theme park. Leader Burgh and his Leavanny partner, Lorenzo, leaned out of either side of a cabin on the Ferris wheel, opposite arms splayed out in welcome on a sunny backdrop. If only the mood in here was that cheerful.

“Alright...I'm sorry, Virginia. I'll stop. Coba would probably like to have us move on to a happier topic as well.”

However, when the silence only continued, my mother's sponsor wordlessly turned on the radio, and soon the dead air in the car was filled with the sounds of the morning news.

***

Later that day, once we had settled into a hotel pending arrangements with the government department my mother and Lindsey worked for, my mother came to me in private. Even though she had had adequate time to rest and recharge since the drive, I had to admit...her look worried me. Here, in private, she dropped the airs that Serperiors normally put on in public, and I could see that everything about her had taken on a dull pallor. Her leaves sagged a bit, her body was slightly pale and her scales were dull, giving her a rather sorry appearance. But, despite all of that...I still saw the Pokemon my father had fallen for in college...the female who still managed to make being gravid and stressed look graceful.

“Coba? You're still awake, right?”

I perk my head up, nod once, and suddenly the bed around me as my mother hoists herself onto it. I flinch a little bit; I'm only a Servine and therefore much smaller than my mother, and while I know she wouldn't hurt me by getting too close, some dormant, feral part of me still sent a twinge of fear down my side when her comparatively enormous body settles next to mine.

Mom then brings her tail up and pushes me close to her, nestling me close to her chest— in between the place where the point of her collar reaches its apex and the the swell of her heavy belly starts. She hasn't held me like this in a long time...but for once, I don't wriggle away. I feel like she needs me...and even though I hate to admit it, I probably need her.

“What a crazy damn life it's been, yes dear?” She whispers to me in the Pokemon tongue, making me perk up a bit. My mother hardly ever talks feral...it's so heavily discouraged in Unova that I wouldn't have been surprised if she had forgotten how to completely. But, I suppose it would make sense why she still knows it, given her occupation. “You never asked for this, for any of this. But here you are, stuck in the middle of it all again.”

“It's not your fault either, mom.” I reply softly, meeting my mother’s eyes. “Yes, it's a crazy life, and I didn't ask for it...but I don't want to blame you. I know it’s not you.”

Another pause. These long, tense silences were starting to become more and more commonplace, that much was certain.

“It...it’s not your fault, right mom?” I ask, a bit of hopefulness in my voice. The fact that she didn’t confirm or deny my statement from before was a bit worrisome, but I didn’t think much on it. I know it was part of her job to keep a lot of things confidential, even from her family members. I had grown used to feeling like stuff was being hidden from me, even before our family was torn in two.

“All I can promise you is that this time, you’re not going to have to pack up and move again within a few months.” My mother replies, looking down at the rest of her lengthy body. “Neither you, nor your little brother or sister will have to live in constant fear of being uprooted, bouncing from one side of Unova to the other. This time, this move is final. Lindsey and I aren’t going to let Earl find us again.”

“What about dad?”

Again, silence. Though this time, my mother briefly loses her poise for a moment, and I see a tear run down her cheek. Immediately, I regret saying such a thing, and I reach up with one of my own vines to wipe it off her face, which does work a small smile from her stony features.

“Such is life, I suppose, Coba. Your father, unfortunately, is no longer with us. I love him dearly...but it is clear we can no longer be with each other, no matter how badly either of us want it.”

My mother takes a deep breath, her tail coiling tighter around me and my unborn sibling before she continues. “I suppose my only comfort will be that he left me with two wonderful children who are a part of him, so I’ll never have to be completely alone. And I will do my best to raise you both well, so that if I ever meet him again, he’ll be glad that you have grown up into fine examples of society, paired to sponsors who will see to it that you work together so that your lives are mutually in agreement.”

I nodded. I know it had only been by blind luck that my parents had even had a chance to stay together given how Unova assigned sponsors, but that was beside the point. I know she could only hope for the best for me, and that was what counted. That was all that mattered at this point.

My name is Coba, and now that I have been moved again, I am not entirely sure what's going to happen to me.
 

diamondpearl876

Well-Known Member
So I ended up reading this real quick on my phone this morning since the opening sentence caught my eye. XD I may argue that it would be best to leave out the "My name is Coba" part and just make it more impactful/dramatic with "we are on the run again", or put something different before the comma, but yeah. It still hooked me in.

So this looks like a glimpse into the future of the pokemon world as we know it now. There doesn't seem to be regular pokemon trainers, but instead sponsors (I'm not sure that Lindsey is human or not - I may have missed an obvious indicator, though). Anddd it looks like you're portraying your own take on the witness protection program as well as what kind of government the pokemon world might have. All of this, I have to say, is interesting. There's not much in the first chapter at the moment, but I'm sure more information will come in time. There were more pressing matters in this chapter, namely the re-location of Coba and his mother. I think my favorite passage was the one where she holds him tightly, and he reflects on her rarely ever doing that. Him being hesitant and wary of her hurting him was most interesting, and I'm wondering if that thought was really reflexive or a sort of foreshadowing. With the kind of job his mother seems to have and the limited characterization we've seen, anything is possible at this point.

My main criticism about this fic at this point is that, well, I'm not sure what tense this fic is supposed to be in. There's constant switching between present and past tense. You may want a beta reader before posting if you're not sure how to consistently write in one or the other right now.

I nodded. I know it had only been by blind luck that my parents had even had a chance to stay together given how Unova assigned sponsors, but that was beside the point. I know she could only hope for the best for me, and that was what counted. That was all that mattered at this point.

"nodded" is past tense, "know" is present. This is the closest example I can find, and I would gladly point out more of these instances if you'd like.

Anyway, am looking forward to more. I didn't read the original, so you know, so I may not be able to compare the two, but... I'll leave what comments I can!
 

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Yessssss, hell yes, was hoping to see something from you again. :D

So far so good on the new focus. Coba's family's already been through quite a lot, and I can say I'm already sufficiently invested in them. Right now it seems like they're hitting a relatively stable patch in their lives, but I don't dare assume it. Especially with an unborn kid in the mix. Coba could have some happy and/or peaceful family time on the horizon--or things could take a decidedly sadder turn. Very interested in seeing where this goes.

Also +points for snakey characters, because snakes. <3
 
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