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Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by DeliriousAbsol, Sep 13, 2018.

  1. DeliriousAbsol

    DeliriousAbsol Call me Del

    A/N - Welcome to my side project! First, I'd like to say I'm still working on this. I wanted to have it finished before I began to post it, but I really felt like introducing you all to it today. Plus, it might spur me on to actually make some headway if I feel pressured to post updates.

    Secondly, this premise is a rather odd one. It was an idea I originally had for a contest a couple years back where Pokemon meets the real world. Okay, so it's not the 'real world' as we all know it. This is a cyberpunk noir setting, using characters for an original series I one day plan to work on. There's also a fair bit of world building already thought up, which I've tried to brush over a bit in narrative so you can get a feel for the setting. This story an experiment for myself to get used to writing these characters and see their personalities develop and grow. Regardless, I hope you enjoy it =D If there's anything you'd like more detail on, please feel free to ask.

    This isn't being posted to FFNet, so I am having to format the text manually. If there are any mistakes, please let me know.

    Blurb - Welcome to Pokemon:Life, UTEIC's biggest and most popular gaming experience. Suitable for ages seven and up. Engage in a world filled with *crackle... splutter*

    Pokemon:Life is one of, if not the biggest, game the world has ever known. That's why the virus ransacking it, plunging players into comas, is such a big deal. But freelance detective Frost and his partner Wire are struggling to get to the bottom of it. Then one night, things change, when they realise the clues to the virus' creator might not actually be in the real world...

    1 - Virtual Life, Virtual Death
    2 - The Unlockers

    Chapter One - Virtual Life, Virtual Death​

    Midnight was usually the only time Frost could get any serious thinking done. Tonight, however, was proving to not be one of those nights.

    The detective flicked through his case notes, each click of the mouse bringing up a file he’d mulled over a billion times already. The computer screen’s glare tired his sore eyes, providing little light alongside London’s streetlights and neon billboards. The latter tinted his dark office in an array of garish colours that were a vast improvement on the worn wallpaper and stained carpet.

    Sirens wailed outside, followed by loud shouts and footsteps, but it didn’t draw his attention away from his screen.

    A fuzzy head looked up from the other side of his desk and fixed upon the window with large, yellow eyes.

    “I wish this city would sleep sometimes.” The deep voice didn’t quite suit the creature it belonged to.

    The bush baby yawned and stretched then slumped back down on the desk, burying his face in his slender arms.

    “You could always take a vacation?” Frost suggested. “Find a nice, quiet spot by a lake.”

    “I don’t think many hotels are accepting enhanced fuzzbutts just yet,” said Wire. “They’re too worried about fleas.”

    “You don’t have fleas.”

    Wire reached a long back leg behind his ear and scratched intently, fixing his eyes on Frost’s. The detective stared back at him, trying to work out if the bush baby was serious and he’d need to flea bomb his office. A smirk spread across Wire’s muzzle and Frost rolled his eyes as he returned to his work.

    “Are you making any headway?” Wire asked.

    “No,” said Frost. “I’m about as stuck as I was this morning. Nothing obvious is showing up at all.” He paused and ran his fingers through his shaggy brown hair. “It’s all starting to look the same.”

    He sighed and leant back in his chair, continuing to stare at the colourful image on his screen as he tapped his pen against his bottom lip. Various words stood out to him - ‘coma’, ‘virus’, ‘dangerous game’. But it infuriated him how there was no clear source to the problem.

    Somehow, at some point, someone had unleashed a virus into the world’s most popular life simulator ‘Pokemon:Life’. People would hook themselves up to the virtual game, sometimes for days on end. Despite the fact that those hooked up to the game would receive nutrients from a drip, it wasn’t enough. There was too much risk that people would spend every single hour of their life wired up to the addictive game. To avoid any danger coming to them, the creators had to implement measures to prevent people from just wasting away, and this came in the form of an automatic boot. After two whole days had passed, anyone still logged in would be booted from the game and locked out of the game for twenty four hours.

    The virus had been named ‘Boot-Block’. Its sole purpose was to override the automatic boot, keeping players locked in the game. When it hit, the players affected couldn’t even choose to log out of the game. Even friends and family members couldn’t force them out. A force disconnect would cause serious brain damage even without the virus. They were trapped, and after a week had passed, all affected players slipped into comas. Whether or not the coma was related to the virus was yet to be discovered. People were starting to panic. There was speculation that too much time wired up to a VR machine damaged the brain, despite it being debunked decades ago. It was a logical assumption. Spending too long in front of a screen was bad for your eyes, but they’d checked safety measures for VR over and over, and it was proven perfectly safe long before they introduced Life.

    Nevertheless, there was a mass panic. And peoples’ worries were either about to be solved, or worsened. The virus wasn’t just a one-time event. It had been released again. Reports of players struggling to log out were rising. If Frost had done his maths right, more people would be slipping into comas in four days.

    He brushed his hair back from his eyes then reached for his eye drops.

    “Maybe you need a break?” said Wire. “Give yourself some space before it drives you nuts.”

    “It might be too late for that.” The detective closed his eyes and massaged the bridge of his nose. “What I’d really love is a change of pace for a while. Even some stunts from Tenacious Tanuki would be welcomed, but that little thief seems to have vanished off the face of London.”

    “Probably got himself caught after that jewel heist.” Wire frowned up at him. “Besides, I wasn’t talkin’ about a new case. I was saying you should get some sleep!”

    “You’re right.” Frost yawned and motioned to turn off his computer. “A good night’s sleep might clear my head.”

    “Or you’ll just lie awake thinking about it.”

    Frost stared down at the bush baby. “Why do you say things like this, Wire? Why?”

    The experiment shrugged and hopped from the table.

    “Anyway,” he said as he shuffled to the door. “I’m gonna hit Larry’s before I head home. I’ll try not to wake you up.”

    “I might join you.” Frost grabbed his card key and trench coat from the hook beside the door. “Only for a half, then I’m gonna call it a night.”

    “Join me?” Wire fixed him with a raised eyebrow. “I thought you were tired.”

    “I am, but if I try to sleep now I’ll just be too strung up on this case.” He opened the door then frowned down at the bush baby. “I’ll just be lying awake all night thinking about it.”

    Wire let out a loud, raucous laugh and strutted from the office.

    “So you wanna wind down a bit, I gotcha.” He bounded down the stairs and looked up at Frost from the front door. “I tell you what. Since you bought the last round, this one’s on me.”

    Frost gave the bush baby a wink and strolled out through the front door, letting it shut on its automatic lock behind them. He turned from it with a flourish, his grey trench coat billowing out behind him as he strutted down the busy street after his friend.

    Above them, LED headlights lit up the walk way as hover cars zipped along over head on the sky roads, leaving the ground safe and free for pedestrians. However, Frost often thought the pedestrians were more dangerous than the hover cars.

    He tried to tune out the shouts and jeers from the alleys and caught up with Wire. The bush baby had his eyes fixed on the road ahead, seemingly oblivious to the surrounding noise. An ultraviolet light from a night club’s doorway reflected off his white fur, highlighting the neon pink streaks that ran along his body. As his fur became momentarily transparent, Frost picked out the number ‘2’ tattooed on his left shoulder.

    Sirens cut through the air and Frost glanced back as a group of police hoverboards surrounded a group of teenagers. Two of the teens were cuffed, their shouts of protest rising over the thumping music from the surrounding bars. One of the teens shoved an officer off his hoverboard and took off on it, zipping past the two detectives. Frost briefly considered giving chase, but there was no chance he’d catch up with the criminal. Before he’d even finished processing the idea, the hoverboard fleet shot past him, leaving behind the robbed police officer and his partner to deal with the arrested teens.

    “This city is the reason I stopped being nocturnal,” Wire hissed through gritted teeth.

    Frost gave a dry chuckle. “And you’re the one who wants to go for a drink.”

    “Larry’s ain’t no night club.” Wire nodded towards the alley on their right. “Come on. Before we get caught up in some dumb chaos.”

    Frost followed Wire into the alley, but despite being a narrower street lined with trash cans, it sported its own share of entertainment facilities. Neon signs lit up the walls and floor, and above them flashed an LCD screen broadcasting a cartoon girl with bright blue hair. The pokeball motif on her clothes was intended to draw any budding fan as she playfully advertised an upcoming event in Pokemon:Life. It wouldn’t seem so dark if it weren’t for the threat of the virus. Frost wondered how many fans would be partaking in it.

    The familiar neon sign for Larry’s Diner appeared on their right, although the ‘diner’ part was irrelevant. It hadn’t been a diner in years. Frost pushed the door open, triggering a little tinkle from an electronic alarm. The scent of stale alcohol assaulted his senses the instant he strode inside. The bearded face of Larry looked up from behind the bar as he wiped down a glass. His eyes widened at the sight of the two detectives, and he watched Wire leap up onto one of the bar stools. The bartender’s face lit up with a beaming smile.

    “Wire! How’s my favorite freak?”

    Wire narrowed his eyes at the bartender and adjusted himself in his seat. “My usual, please, Larry.”

    Larry turned to the back of the bar and poured out a glass of apple juice. The glass found itself stuffed into Wire’s outstretched paws. Despite the vast modifications to his intelligence and physical strength, the experiment’s body was not designed to filter out alcohol.

    Frost gave Larry a nod as he pulled up a stool beside Wire and quickly ordered a gin and lemonade.

    “You look tired,” Larry said as he gave Frost his order. “Still none the wiser on that case?”

    “Nope. I’m just coming up dry.” Frost took a sip of his drink and leant one arm on the sticky bar.

    “Well, let’s see if I can help shed some light, eh?” Larry returned to wiping the glasses. “What is it you're stuck on exactly?”

    “All of it,” said Frost. “My client’s kid has had no contact with any hackers, no evidence of hacking themselves. And if their account or VR machine has been tampered with, there’s no evidence to prove it.”

    “Well, I’ve been having a think about this myself. As you know, my granddaughter plays Life. I’m worried sick, so it’s often on my mind. Fortunately she’s avoided the second wave of this virus. Nontheless, it makes me wonder if you’re looking in the right place.”

    “What are you getting at?”

    “You ever thought the criminal might actually be inside the game?”

    Wire looked up from his apple juice and snorted. “In the game? I know it’s a virtual life and all that, but surely you can’t manufacture a virus inside a flippin’ game.”

    Larry wagged his finger at the primate. “You underestimate this game, my fuzzy friend.” He picked the glass back up, wiping it out of habit. “My granddaughter has a degree in computer and video game technology. Got an aspiring career with UTEIC itself, although she’s yet to climb the ladder.” He’d pronounced the initials as a word - ‘Yoo-tey-yik’.

    Frost sipped his drink as he took in the bartender’s words. UTEIC was the biggest company behind the entertainment district. The initials stood for Ultimate Technology in Entertainment and Information Communications. Not everyone sided with them, however, and your allegiance showed in how you pronounced it. Those who hated it pronounced it ‘Yoo-Tek’ and given a literal spelling - UTEK - often spray painted on London’s elaborate bridge by ‘anarchists’. It meant something. ‘Ultimate Tyrants in Entertainment Killing.’ No one had seen the face behind UTEIC. To land a job inside it was a massive accomplishment in itself.

    “She tells me that in this game, you can form alliances,” Larry went on. “There’s no direct ‘A to B’. Yes, there’s a plot, but no solid rules. It’s a virtual life, like you said. There is so much freedom. But despite the securities set in place, it would be wrong to assume that someone wouldn’t have found a way around it.”

    Frost leant his head on his hand and swirled the contents around in his glass. So they may very well be dealing with a cyber criminal. And one who lurked inside the data, not from the outside. Surely it wasn’t a UTEIC employee? Maybe someone who was rogue, wanting to frame either UTEIC itself or the company behind Life? A spark went off in his mind and he sipped at his drink. Why hadn’t he put the numbers together before?

    “Frost?” Wire asked warily. “You got that look in yer eye.”

    “That’s because I think I might have a lead.” He set his glass down and fixed his tired eyes on the bartender. “Thanks for that, Larry. You really opened my eyes.”

    Larry blinked a couple of times. “What to?”

    “There’s one suspect I thought would be too big to mess with a mere game played predominantly by kids.” Frost slipped from his stool and stuffed his hands in his pockets as he turned towards the door. “Come on, Wire. I guess that good night’s sleep isn’t happening anymore.”

    “Where are we goin’?” Wire hopped down and beat him to the door, fixing him with a quizzical expression.
    Frost tugged the door open and stepped out into the cold night air. “To pay my brother a visit.”


    The huge, white lair towered over Frost and Wire. The tower lay at an odd angle reminiscent of a crashed satellite. They stared up at it, Frost with his hands in his pockets, and Wire with a raised eyebrow. Scrawled above the door in vibrant, green letters was the word ‘Vile’.

    “Not very secret, is it?” said Wire.

    “It wouldn’t be intimidating if it were secret.” Frost lifted a fist to the door and knocked. A deep echoing boom came from beyond it with each tap.

    They stood there, silent, staring at the door.

    “I don’t think he’s in,” said Wire.

    “He’s in. His car is in the garage.” Frost knocked again, louder this time. “Come on, Evander! Open up!”
    Another beat of silence. Then a loud click came from the lock. The door creaked open inward, and a tiny rat face peered out at them.

    “What do you want?” she asked.

    “One!” Wire flashed a canine at her. “I think you know-”

    Frost silenced him with a wave of his hand and crouched down before the rat. “I’m here to see Evander. If you’d let me in-”

    “He doesn’t like being called that,” she spat. “You know full well he changed his name.”

    “I know, but I refuse to call my brother ‘Vile’. It’s cruel.”

    “He likes it!”

    Frost shrugged and rose to his feet. “Nevertheless. I need to see him.”

    He pushed the door open, bowling One nose over tail. She lay sprawled against the skirting board, her muzzle creased in a sneer.

    “Where can I find him?” Frost asked as he strolled past her. “Living room? Bedroom? Lair of Inevitable Doom?”

    “Okay, okay!” One skittered across the floor, waving her tiny arms. She stopped before the detectives, her arms spread at either side. “Okay, just stop. Okay?”

    “Okay,” Wire mocked.

    One snarled at him then looked back up at Frost. “He’s… he’s not available right now.”

    “Because he’s up to something?” Frost puffed air out of his nose and glanced away from her. “I thought something smelled funny. What is it this time? Although… I have a pretty good guess.”

    One wound her long tail in her paws and glanced away, clearing her throat. “I erm… I wouldn’t say he’s up to anything. If I’m honest.”

    “You’re pretty bad at this ‘secret’ thing,” said Wire. “It’s a wonder he keeps you around.”

    Frost made to stride over her head, but she bolted ahead of him and stuck her arms out again. “Okay! I’ll tell you. Just please… don’t tell him I told you.”

    “Really bad at this ‘secret’ thing,” Wire scoffed.

    “He needs help!” One squeaked. “I… I can’t wake him.”

    Frost felt his heart shoot through his stomach. He closed his eyes briefly and followed the nervous rat up the winding stairs. She paused beside an airlock door and pushed a button. It hissed open, revealing an oddly tidy bedroom. Everything had been polished to within an inch of its life. Movies and music disks were shelved alphabetically, first by band name or producer and then by title. The bed was still made, not a crease in sight. The only anomaly was a spattering of cat hair on the polished floor.

    Frost feared he might slip on the tiles if he stepped over the doorway. He trod carefully, his eyes scanning the room. They fell on a pod in the far right corner, and beside it stood a worried pallas’ cat. He knew her by the number Four. Like the rat, she’d not chosen a name. She looked up, fixing them with an emerald look of confusion and revulsion. Her eyes fell on One and she hissed.

    “You let him in here?”

    One cowered back out of the room with a whimper and scurried back to the stairs. She paused at the top and followed Frost with her eyes.

    “You can help him, right?” she asked.

    Four tutted and stood aside, folding her arms across her chest. “You’re not to touch this.”

    “Then I’ll keep my hands in my pockets,” said Frost.

    He leant over the pod, peering through the glass dome at a sleeping face that resembled his in every way. Wires attached to his head, linked up to the sides of the pod.

    “Good grief, Evander,” Frost muttered. “How long have you been like this?”

    “Three days,” said Four.

    “Three days?” Frost jolted to look down at her.

    “Mmm-hmm.” The cat nodded. “Now let me guess. I’m as good at deducing things as you are. And I reckon you’re here suspecting he’s responsible for the boot-block virus?”

    Frost turned back to the pod, a wave of guilt washing over him. “Well… I won’t deny it crossed my mind.”
    “Well, let me ask you somthin’.” Four stood as tall as she could, but her nose never passed Frost’s hip. “Why would he release a virus that would lock himself in the game?”

    Frost stuffed his hands back into his pockets and looked back at the pod, a mixture of confusion filling his mind. So he’d lost his lead. Once again, he was at a loss. He turned with a flourish and strolled from the room, passing One in the doorway.

    Wire scuttled after him, taking two steps at a time. Once they were outside, Frost paused at the edge of the road and slumped against a street lamp. He ran his fingers through his hair and groaned.

    “You sure it ain’t him and they’re just covering it up?” Wire asked him.

    Frost ran a hand over his face and let it linger over his mouth as he stared out over London. “Yes… I’m sure.” He sighed and let his arm drop back to his pocket, taking a step down the hill towards the city. “After all the run-ins we’ve had with Team Vile, I think I know a panicked rat when I see one.”

    Wire tutted and kept pace at his side. “I suppose I gotta give you that one.”

    “I guess we’re back to square one,” said Frost. “Where do we go next?”

    Wire made a thoughtful noise and inclined his head on one side. “Don’t hate me for saying this. But… Why don’t we go into the game?”

    Frost looked down at him with a start. “You’re not serious?”

    “Oh, I’m serious.” Wire returned his look with one that cemented his statement. “We’re detectives, right? So aren’t we meant to investigate the scene of the crime?”


    “And where is this crime scene?”

    Frost looked away and let out a small sigh. “It’s in Pokemon:Life.”


    “Okay then.” Frost gave the bush baby a wink. “I guess we’re gonna have to speak to the devs. Because I don’t think they’ve catered to designing an avatar for a bush baby.”


    Frost let out a frustrated growl as the head office of Pokemon:Life hung up on him for the third time. Their words never changed. ‘No,’ they said. ‘We already have professionals looking into it.’ Then the laughter when he mentioned taking an animal companion into the game. The accusations of ‘trolling’. ‘Wasting time.’ Threats to get ‘disciplinary’ involved.

    He rubbed his temples and slumped onto his desk. There was no way he could go into the game as a mere player. If the criminal did indeed turn out to be someone familiar with him, alarms would go off and he’d either find himself locked in for good with the boot-block virus, or booted from the game.

    Wire shoved his wet nose between Frost’s eyes to get his attention. “Giving up?”

    Frost stared blankly ahead. “I never give up.”

    “I find that hard to believe,” said Wire with a tut. He fell onto his haunches and stared down at him. “Didn’t you just give up last month trying to find that ice cream thief?”

    “For one, it was only ice cream. I was trying to help cheer up a child.” Frost fixed one eye on him. “Secondly, we traced it to Tenacious Tanuki. So I managed to solve it. I just decided not to punish that silly fuzzbut. Are we done?”

    Wire shrugged and reached into the desk drawer. “S’pose so.”

    “What are you doing?” Frost sat up as he watched the bush baby scrawl over his hidden page with a pen much too big for him.

    “Amending my diary entry.”

    “Anyway.” Frost brushed him off with a wave. “I guess the next best thing is to find someone who can help us.”

    “Like a hacker?”

    Frost scratched his head with a finger and gazed across the room. “You think someone could hack us into the game?”

    “Not exactly. It’s a piece of cake getting you into it.” Wire looked up from his diary. “I’m talkin’ about me. If you want my help, I’ll need to be… I dunno… spliced in somehow. Do they even make Arrow VRs in my size?”

    “The smallest would be for a seven year old,” said Frost. “Given that’s the earliest age they allow. Something to do with eye and brain development.”

    “Still a bit too big.”

    “You never know. Someone might be working on one for pets, but I highly doubt it.”

    Wire stuffed his diary, and the pen, back into the desk drawer. “Then I guess we’d best get asking around then, hadn’t we?”

    Frost dragged his computer monitor closer to him and flicked it on. “So it’s back to scouring the dark underbelly of the interweb.”

    “Good.” Wire curled up into a tight ball and yawned, showing two rows of tiny, sharp teeth. “Once you’ve filtered out all the conspiracies, wake me up.”

    Frost said nothing as he brought up the web, leaving the bush baby to doze on his desk. Site after site passed before him, revealing nothing more than government conspiracies, mostly aimed at ‘UTEK’. Some of the websites he’d been more familiar with had received a lockdown from UTEIC. The familiar notice scrawled across the home page - ‘Due to complaints and illegal operations, this website has been closed. Your friends at Ultimate Technology in Entertainment and Information Communications only care about your safety.’
    Finally, Frost found the website he’d been searching for. Arrow VR Modifications titled the website, and below it displayed the pods in various colours and shapes. The wording didn’t seem ominous at first glance, but hackers knew how to avoid being detected. One thing they offered was ‘cloaking technology’. A way of removing your signature from the game, allowing you to progress undetected. That was something only the development team was able to use, to track down hackers without arousing suspicion.

    He picked up his phone and dialed the number. An encrypted code crackled down his ear. Likely checking for every single number UTEIC would use. That would have cost a pretty penny, not to mention the maintenance and updates to stay on top of it all. Then a voice answered;

    “Arrow VR Modifications. How may we help you?” The voice was male.

    “Hello, I’m wondering if you can help my friend and I access Pokemon:Life,” said Frost. “I understand you use cloaking technology?”

    “May I ask why, exactly, you wish to use cloaking technology?”

    “It’s probably better if we speak in person,” said Frost.

    “I can assure you there is no one tapping into your line,” the man said. “I’ve checked. Thoroughly.”
    Frost let out a sigh and brushed his hair back from his face. “I want to investigate this boot-block virus. I’ve been hired to do so, but the bigwigs at Pokemon:Life won’t allow myself or my friend their private access to the game. Not to mention my friend is… well, he’s not human.”

    “Got one of them genetic experiments, eh?”

    Frost jolted slightly and stared at his phone before putting it back to his ear. “How do you know about that?”

    “Let’s just say I’m not a billion miles away. And news travels fast.” There was a pause. “All right. I can fix you up. You got a pen handy?”

    Frost reached for his pen pot and grabbed one. Red. It would have to do. “Go on.”

    “Make sure you shred it afterwards,” the voice told him. “I don’t usually help detectives, and I don’t want anyone gettin’ wind of my little business.”


    It certainly didn’t look like a business. It looked more like a garage. Two garages, side by side. And on the right of them stood a squat, run-down building with shutters adorned with graffiti. One of them sported a bright green ‘down with UTEK’ sprayed at an angle.

    Frost knocked on the shutter three times just like he was asked. But deep down he wondered if he’d actually been set up.

    The shutter rattled up half way and a young man stooped to peer out at them. A bright purple mohawk perched atop his head like a bird’s crest. His clothes were black, trimmed with neon green and studded with silver spikes. Another spike stuck out of his bottom lip.

    “Hi, I’m Frost. And this is Wire.” Frost nodded at the bush baby on his shoulder. “I spoke to you on the phone?”

    “Aye, the guy investigatin’ the boot-block virus?” The punk nodded. “Name’s Ash. Come inside.”
    He vanished into the garage, and Frost ducked beneath the shutter to follow him. It rattled shut automatically behind him, plunging them into darkness. But it didn’t last long. The garage flooded with a dim light, revealing computers and pods neatly arranged. A door stood to his left in the brick wall, slightly ajar.

    “I’ve been makin’ these things for years,” Ash explained. “But no one’s asked me for a tiny one before.”

    “Do you think you can get one put together today?” Frost asked.

    “You’re kiddin’ right?” Ash snorted. “That’d take me at least a week. Gotta build the pod, fill it with wires and a nutrient drip. Check it works ‘n’ all that jazz. Nah, best I can do if you want it quick is modify the smallest one I’ve got.”

    “And that would be…?”

    Ash nodded to the corner and led them towards it. There stood the smallest Arrow VR pod Frost had ever seen. A seven year old would have been too big, yet it was still too large for Wire. If Frost were to hazard a guess, it would have fit a five year old at most.

    “Why do you have one this small?” Frost asked, hoping his voice masked any suspicion or accusation.
    Ash leered at him out of the corner of his eye. “Some seven year olds are pretty diddy yanno. Not to mention, some younger kids get jealous of their siblings.”

    “But I thought the VR effected eye and brain development?”

    “It ain’t none of my business if parents let their little ‘uns play these games, is it? I give them the warnin’, that’s my part done.” He frowned at the bush baby. “You want me to fix this up for your pet, or not?”

    “Oi!” Wire barked. “I’m not a pet.”

    “Po-ta-to, po-tah-to. You’ve got fur.” Ash sighed and pulled a cigarette from his baggy trouser pocket. “You want it?”

    Frost silenced Wire by putting a hand over his muzzle. “Yes, we’ll take it. Can you hack him in?”

    “Yeh, but I dunno how great his avatar will be. Never programmed a tail.”

    “That’s fine. I doubt we’ll be in there long enough for it to matter.”

    “I like my tail,” Wire muttered.

    Ash waved them towards the door. “Go and sit down for a bit. I shouldn’t be long. Kettle’s already boiled.”
    Frost obeyed, strolling through the ajar door. It led into the other half of the garage. Boxes of wires and other bits and pieces littered the far wall, but the rest of it was rather tidy. A desk sported another computer wired up to an Arrow VR. Along the wall was a sofa facing an old flat-screen television. Frost sank into the sofa, not expecting it to sink quite so low. He let out a squeak, and Wire flew from his shoulder to land on the arm. He fixed wide, yellow eyes on him, his tail flicking from side to side.

    “What was that?” the bush baby squealed.

    “I… I thought the sofa was gonna swallow me up.” Frost chuckled and pushed himself up so he was sat against the back cushion. “I think the springs are worn out.”

    “Gave me a flippin’ heart attack.” Wire shook his head and sank onto his tummy. “I think I could use a cup of tea, but I daren’t let you get back up.”

    “Are you offering?”

    “Suppose so.” The bush baby skipped across the garage to the kettle. “Thankfully the cups are small enough for me to handle.”


    Two cups of tea and two hours of daytime television later, Ash poked his head into the room.

    “It’s ready,” he grunted.

    Frost dragged himself out of the sofa and followed the punk back into the workshop. The small Arrow VR had been relocated to sit beside a larger one. Ash looked down at it with what Frost guessed was admiration.

    “Should work,” he said. “I’ll have to monitor it.”

    “So we need to use them here?” Wire asked.

    “I’d prefer it,” said Ash. “Like I said to your mate, I don’t usually help out detectives.”

    “Then what made you want to help me?” Frost asked.

    “One of my Arrow VR systems got hit with the boot-block,” Ash explained. “My sister’s been in a coma for almost a month. Can’t help her.”

    “Have you reported it?” Frost asked.

    “I have now. Told you.” Ash stuffed his hands into his pockets and fixed Frost with icy eyes. “If I told any other officials about this, they’d close me down. I’m not meant to be makin’ these machines. They hack people in and keep ‘em off UTEK’s radar. They’re meant to be safe against viruses, since they’re normally designed to affect official machines. Now I’m not sure they’re even targeting machines.”

    Frost frowned. “No one knows how this virus works. But we’ll do our best to find out. Once we have, everyone, including your sister, will be saved.” He paused and looked back down at the VRs. “How much do I owe you?”

    “Nothin’,” said Ash. “Just get to the root of all this, and once my sister is up and bein’ her annoyin’ self again, we’ll call it even.”

    A warm smile spread across Frost’s face. “So what do we do?”

    “Climb in and wire yourselves up,” said Ash. “I’ll load up the game and monitor from my computer. Wanna make sure Wire’s avatar works.”

    “Can we stay in touch during all this?”

    “Certainly. I’ll send you PMs, all you gotta do is reply.” Ash moved over to the desk and sat behind his computer. “Climb in.”

    Frost opened the smaller pod for Wire, and once the bush baby was lay on his back, he pulled the dome back over. Wire shimmied about getting the mask over his face before fastening the drip band to the back of his right paw. Once Frost was happy Wire was secure, he climbed into his own pod.

    No sooner was the mask on his face, reality began to warp. The pod disappeared, and Frost found himself standing in a bustling square with hundreds of other people. Light, tinkly and joyful music played somewhere in the background, only adding to the quaint little town that surrounded him.

    Before his eyes, a visor flashed to life, taking him by surprise. But he didn’t focus on it yet, he had other priorities. He spun around, searching the crowd for a familiar face. But there wasn’t an animal in sight. At least… not any animal he knew. Had Ash programmed Wire in as a pokemon? All the ones he could see didn’t remotely resemble a bush baby. An orange salamander with a flaming tail scurried after a little girl. A man not much shorter than him strolled past with a black and blue lynx, its tail ending in a yellow star.

    ‘Are you in?’ The neon text flashed across the screen.

    Frost snapped back to it and tried to figure out a way to reply. As he thought through what to say, text appeared in the reply box. He quickly backtracked and managed to reply;

    ‘I’m in. Just looking for Wire.’

    ‘He should be fine,’ was Ash’s reply. ‘You’re both stable, and your avatars are… more or less true to yourselves. You shouldn’t miss him.’

    A tug at his trousers made him look down. Standing beside him was a young boy who’s head didn’t come any higher than his hip. The first thing that struck him as odd was his shape. His head was round and chubby, and about a third the size of his dumpy body. Silver-grey hair hung over his huge, yellow eyes and flopped down to his shoulders. Behind him was the biggest giveaway. A white tail that looked like a terrible render. It flicked side to side erratically, strobing as it vanished and reappeared in a different position in the blink of an eye. It appeared to be on a loop, and unlike the rest of the avatar’s body, it didn’t cast a shadow.

    “Wire?” Frost stuttered.

    He sent a quick confirmation to Ash, only to receive an ‘lol’ in return.

    “Yeh.” The boy’s voice was still oddly deep. “Do I look okay?”

    Frost wanted to reply with ‘Have you not seen yourself?’ but instead he went with a friendly, “Sure.”

    Wire snorted and looked behind him. “Tail looks dumb.”

    “Is that why you’re flicking it about?”

    “No!” Wire fixed his yellow, livid eyes on him. “It’s doin’ that entirely on its own! It won’t stop!” He paused and flashed his teeth in a sneer. “Doesn’t help I can’t even feel the flippin’ thing.”

    “Well.” Frost stuffed his hands into his trench coat pocket. “We hopefully won’t be here for long. Let’s get the game rolling. This here says…” He squinted at the text in front of his eyes. ‘Head to Professor Yew’s lab. He has a request for you.’”

    “Who’s Professor Yew when he’s at home?” Wire asked.

    “He isn’t at home, he’s in his lab.” Frost smirked as he checked their position blinking on his map.

    “Well, look at you makin’ jokes.” Wire crossed his stubby arms. “What if he lives there, huh? Who’s laughin’ then?”

    “Me.” Frost ushered his friend on. “Come on, it’s this way.”

    The lab wasn’t far from their starting point. It stood tall and proud in the middle of what the map called Poetico Town. Just inside the lab stood a tall, greying man. His wild, long, grey hair was what made him stand out from the rest of the lab coats. The other NPCs all looked identical and paid Frost and Wire no heed. Professor Yew, however, beamed upon seeing them.

    “Welcome to the Aria Region!” he said. “The world of Pokemon:Life awaits!”

    “Are we seriously gonna have to chug through a load of pre-recorded text?” Wire muttered.

    Professor Yew broke from his monologue to frown down at Wire. “Rude little individual, aren’t you?”
    Wire’s eyes almost bugged from his head. “Whoa! AI has come in leaps and bounds! Isn’t science amazing?”
    Frost nudged him with a foot then turned back to the professor. “Please forgive my friend. He’s a little grumpy his tail hasn’t been coded correctly.”

    “Hmm, we don’t often get trainers with tails,” the professor replied. “But a trainer is a trainer. Allow me to introduce you to your first pokemon. You have many to choose from.”

    He waved a hand towards rows of tables filled with red and white balls. As Frost approached each one, a holographic picture appeared above it. The orange salamander he’d seen was one of them. It looked a little too weak for the job. He kept looking, but all were rather cutesy. Then he stumbled across a blue and white otter with the species name ‘oshawott’ and a silly smile spread across his face. He picked up the ball and turned to Wire.

    “Chosen yet?” he asked.

    “Gimme a sec, I’m still thinking.” Wire stroked his chin and paced up and down the rows of tables. Finally he reached up for the first ball and frowned at Frost. “I’ll take this thing.”

    “Bulbasaur and oshawott,” said the professor. “Excellent choices! They’re both very energetic pokemon. Would you wish to nickname them?”

    Before Frost could reply, a text box appeared before him next to a pixelated picture of the oshawott. Apparently it was male.

    He quickly gave it the name Jester and the box went away. Wire, however, appeared more thoughtful.

    “I think I’ll name it Tomato,” he said, then his visor vanished back behind his ear.

    “Wonderful nicknames!” said the professor. “Now, take your new partners and explore Aria!”

    “Actually, wait.” Frost raised a hand, dragging the professor’s attention back to him. “I don’t know if you can help me or not, but we’re here under rather… special circumstances. We were hoping for a stronger pokemon to aid us.”

    “Oh?” The professor raised an eyebrow. “And what ‘special circumstances’ would those be?”

    “We’re investigating the boot-block virus,” explained Frost. “If it’s being created inside the game, the people we may find ourselves facing off against would likely be very advanced. Much too advanced for these cute fellows. Level five? Am I right in assuming the maximum level is one hundred?”

    “That is correct,” said Professor Yew. “But every trainer starts off with a baby pokemon. You grow alongside each other. You bond, meet new pokemon and trainers as you travel and overcome difficulties.”

    “Yes, but we only have four days to get to the bottom of this.”

    The professor let out a sigh, then cast a glance towards the door. Other trainers stood around him, their visors in place. He moved over to Frost and Wire and lowered his voice.

    “I’m not meant to tell you this,” he said. “But in A-Capella Town you will find a group of trainers who have banded together to fight this virus.”

    Frost took a step back. “How do you know this? I thought you were an NPC.”

    “I am an NPC,” Yew explained. “But I’ve been hacked with this information, and given a sub routine that allows me to contact and scout for trainers who show potential. I can access the Arrow VRs logs to see how long a new trainer has spent playing games. A casual player wouldn’t have the gall to assist this team in overthrowing the boot-block. Very few new trainers get sent to this group. I’m usually contacting those who’ve long surpassed the difficulties of the Aria Region. Anyway, you will be looking for the UnLockers. One of their bases is in A-Capella town, just north of here. They can help you more than I can.”

    Fifteen pokeballs registered in Frost’s visor.

    “UnLockers?” Wire scoffed. “What kinda cheesy-ass name is that?”

    Frost gave him another nudge with his foot, then thanked Professor Yew. The professor ran a pre-programmed monologue to bid them farewell, and they traipsed out into the open world.

    “So A-Capella Town then, eh?” Wire looked up at him and tossed his pokeball from hand to hand. “Map says it’s the next town after the forest.”

    Frost checked his own map. There was indeed a forest leading on from Poetico Town. It’s name was Allegro Forest.

    “I’m sensing a musical theme in this game,” he said.

    Wire didn’t appear to be listening. He turned his pokeball around in his small hands. “Apparently these guys can follow you.”

    “Oh? You mean like this?” Frost pushed the button on his own pokeball, and the oshawott materialized at his feet. It let out a little trill.


    Wire’s nose crinkled and he tutted. “Show off.”

    He called out his own pokemon, and the green dinosaur materialized in the same fashion. It’s large mouth turned into a smile and it closed its eyes, letting out a cheerful growl.


    Wire’s jaw dropped in dismay.

    “It’s the wrong freakin’ colour!” he roared. “What’s with the awful, lime green? Is it sick? It’s hacked, ain’t it? I demand a refund!”

    Tomato’s face fell and he looked down at himself, muttering in his own language.

    Frost scrolled through his visor, looking for the bulbasaur. Its entry popped up in his pokedex and he chuckled.

    “It’s a rare occurrence,” he said, “but apparently your bulbasaur is what they call a ‘shiny pokemon’. Very rare, people collect them.”

    Wire put his hands on his hips. “How rare?”

    “Try one in eight thousand one hundred and ninety two.”

    Wire’s jaw dropped again, but this time it wasn’t out of dismay. “So I’ve got a treasure?”

    “Apparently so.” Frost crossed his arms and looked down at Jester. “But what difference it makes, I’ve no idea.”

    “I think you’re jealous.” Wire chuckled and turned back to his bulbasaur. “All right, Tomato. Let’s get a move on. We’ve got trainin’ to do.”


    Wire and his pokemon moved on ahead of Frost towards the grass. Frost scooped Jester up onto his shoulder and followed after his friend. Even if it was only a tiny step, it was one step closer to stopping the boot-block virus.


    There you have it! The first chapter. Thank you if you made it this far. For those wondering why Wire got a shiny, it's very important to the plot ;) Wire is no Gary Stu.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2018 at 10:34 AM
  2. The Walrein

    The Walrein Active Member

    This seems like a promising start to the story. Wire is a cute character, and having pokemon be a virtual reality MMO is an interesting way of using the canon; it allows for some 'meta' elements without actually breaking the fourth wall.

    The story is very lighthearted for something in the 'cyberpunk/noir' genre what with the talking animals, cheesy villains like the ice-cream stealing Tenacious Tanuki and a man who literally changed his name to 'Vile'. There's also details like the hovercars and skyroads being described as "leaving the ground safe and free for pedestrians." - emphasizing the positive aspects of the technology, while standard cyberpunk would probably use hover cars as symbolism of the upper class literally raising themselves above the lower classes, insulated from their problems in the sky while the poor are forced to trod the dirty surface etcetera. Although it's nice to see cyberpunk with a bit of a different tone to it, this does lead into what I think this chapter's biggest weakness is: the lack of conflict.

    Almost every named character (Larry, One, Ash, Professor Yew) is willing to help Frost and Wire (One puts up token resistance, but capitulates quickly) which feels somewhat unearned in the latter two cases. It's really convenient that Ash is willing to help the pair without any further reward besides them doing what they were already planning on doing in the first place, and it seems like Yew is really quick to tell the two about the UnLockers as soon as they mention they want to stop the boot-block virus. I'd assume that the bit about Yew having been hacked is something the people who did so would want to keep concealed; given that a large portion of the game's playerbase consists of children, many of whom would likely fancy themselves heroic virus-stoppers, I'd think that something more would be required to get Yew's trust.

    A few random comments:

    The way you pronounce UTEIC's name being a sort of shibboleth for how you view them is a neat little detail. It seems like something people might do in reality.

    I'm not sure why Frost is only coming to this conclusion now. Isn't someone who creates harmful viruses a cyber criminal by definition?

    Wow, Frost is really rude to One in this scene, physically bowling her over and then insulting her.

    Hmm, I'm definitely still suspicious of Vile here. It's perfectly possible that he's doing something shady inside Pokemon Life, using some variant of the boot-block virus to bypass the two day limit, and just never telling One about his plan, knowing she can't keep a secret.

    For someone who was worried that he might have been set-up, Frost seems very trusting of Ash later, letting himself and Wire become completely helpless to him by entering the VR pods in his own house, after having already been told self-incriminating information by him.

    Given that this is a majorly popular (and presumably incredibly well-funded) game, and that this is one of the areas that almost all new players would see, I would expect that all the NPCs in the lab would at least have unique appearances.

    Hmm, I'm not sure if having high-leveled pokemon would be an unalloyed good here. It seems likely to me that if the masterminds behind the virus can hack the game to that extent, no level of game-intended power would be helpful in fighting them, if they can just use the hax. Toting low-leveled pokemon might actually be preferable, letting them stay under the radar and making their foes underestimate them. On the other hand, having more powerful pokemon might help Frost and Wire access areas within the game they might not have been able to otherwise, and earn more respect from other players, letting them find contacts and information easier.

    Some minor corrections:

    Is this supposed to be 'fixed upon'? It reads oddly with just 'fixed'.

    Missing a space after the comma.

    Missing a 't' in 'fuzzbutt'.

    Should be "you're".

    Despite all my complaints, I did enjoy reading this, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens now that Wire and Frost are in the digital world.
  3. Namohysip

    Namohysip Well-Known Member

    Well, this is unorthodox, just from the premise! I’m a bit curious. The chapter seems longer than what I’m used to, but I’ll take a look anyway to see what this is like.

    Huh, interesting approach. I'm not usually one for Sci-Fi, but it's something I can still get into if it's not too hardcore. Let's see what happens.

    So... SAO, more or less?

    First thing: This opening line is weak. You establish the setting well by giving us a time of day—uh, night—and for some reason, just given being a night owl in general, I get the impression of a modern setting, or, as you put it in the premise, steampunk-noir. However, the sentence itself feels too calm. The two sentences could be combined into one. I feel like what makes the opening sentences weak is the last part—“proving to not be one of those nights,” is too wordy. Maybe tighten it up—something like, “Midnight was the only time Frost could get serious thinking done, but not tonight.” But that sounds a bit awkward with “night” at both the beginning and end of the sentence, but you see what I mean. If you aren’t going to start with action—which is fine!—at least make those first few sentences nice and tight to get the reader right over Frost’s shoulder.

    You could’ve stopped right there. The two sentences that follow are almost completely redundant, because the name alone was enough of an explanation. “The virus had been named ‘the boot-block virus. Even friends and family members wouldn’t be able to force afflicted users out. . . “

    When it comes to exposition, I'd definitely advocate for being as tight as possible.

    Ooh, nice. You set up a little timeframe for when some big event would happen, or something to count down toward, either implying the endgame, or the turn of a new arc. I like that!

    Huh, you know, there was a huge exposition dump before this line of dialogue brought me back into the action, but I didn’t actually realize it. I’m not quite sure why, but good work on making that information dump engaging enough that I didn’t realize it was an information dump!

    I don’t know about you, but I feel like you could have gone without the middle sentence in this quote. I was already thinking, ‘Well, that’s dark,” without the need of that sentence to point it out. You could have just said the last sentence, ‘Frost wondered how many fans would be partaking in it,’ and perhaps something about thinking it darkly, or something?

    Wow, I didn’t think you’d actually point this out. So often animal-people are just assumed to have all the subtleties of human internal anatomy. It’s the easy way out, after all. Not here; there are still a few differences to be conscious of. Good on you!

    Oh. Okay. I don’t really know how someone so prominent could be so hidden, but I’ll roll with it.

    Okay, fine, this got a smirk out of me.

    I haven’t read ahead. Wire’s going to become a Pokémon, isn’t he?

    I’m only slightly mad.

    You know, there’s something really real about this line. I can’t quite place it. It’s cliché and an obvious, easy response, but despite how little I know of Ash, it fits really well.

    Aw, I’m slightly disappointed he didn’t become a ‘mon. Oh well! The two are in. Let’s see how this goes.

    This is cool. I’m not typically a fan of scifi, but there’s something about a modded, dynamic AI just for this sort of problem. I can’t quite phrase it, but I like this small bit of exposition, and it makes me curious how the other AI have been modified and how they may behave differently—good or bad—when confronting Frost and Wire.

    Hmm, gives me pause. But hey, I’m not one to really put much judgement on if a shiny Pokémon is present in the story or not for a main protagonist. It’s whatever! I’m actually pretty interested in this story.


    So, from what I’ve gathered, this premise is more or less Sword Art Online’s beginning season, but with two major differences, aside from the Pokémon premise. The first is that we don’t know who is causing people to be unable to log out. The second is that rather than being one of the bystanders who got trapped, the protagonists intentionally went in to investigate what happened as a professional detective. These two small twists give it a slightly different flavor to what I’ve seen of SAO, and for that, I’ll consider it to be unique! I’m curious on what awaits.

    Thanks for the read!

    Oh. Huh. Well, at least you addressed it. But I’ll wait until you deliver on that promise! If anything, maybe you could have had a remark of foreshadowing or some kind that it seemed 'a little too convenient' that he got a shiny, if only to foreshadow the oddity being significant. As of now, it's just a random flair that gives a red flag to some readers, seeing as you had to point it out as an author's note.
  4. DeliriousAbsol

    DeliriousAbsol Call me Del

    Man I'm stoked to see two replies already! Thanks! =D

    I don't ordinarily reply to reviews before I update (to avoid me double posting) but I am so pumped and feel I have a lot to reply to/address!

    I do like my lighthearted stories, but I do try to create a grungy setting for it (outside of Life, of course!) My main inspirations for this are Sonic the Hedgehog, Guardians of the Galaxy and... ahem... Portal. All of which are relatively light-hearted.

    Thanks so much for pointing this out. Would you mind if I borrowed that premise for my original series? Like I said in my opening paragraph, Pokemon:Life is basically a practice-run for writing it. I tried to write the first in the series a couple years back and kinda... hit a snag. I'm back in the running now with more ideas, a more fleshed out world, and a bundle of fun characters.

    UTEIC vs UTEK and the underbelly create a massive amount of conflict, but tying with your previous comment on the hovercards, I could really amend that.

    I hadn't considered this. Yew kinda checks peoples' Arrow VRs. Maybe I could incorporate something Ash did to direct that in Frost and Wire's favor?

    It might be a very loose way of wording it, as my thought of a cyber criminal was someone working outside of reality in this premise. But yes, a cyber criminal is someone who works with a computer/hacking etc. I'll try to think of another way to word this.

    A lot of history...

    They don't really have much choice. Plus Ash has made it pretty clear he's not working for UTEIC, all the way down to his super cautious phone set up. UTEIC wouldn't stand for hacked VR systems.

    I was playing on the limited design of NPCs in the real Pokemon games XD

    I guess I have been inspired a lot by SAO, even if I've only watched like 2 episodes of it before giving up... XD

    Ah, yes. It does just get called 'boot-block' later on, so I could probably amend that. Thank you.

    I'm really glad, as I was kinda worried about my information dumps, particularly those that give background flavour to my wacky world ='D

    To avoid spoiling my entire original series, I can't really answer this safely.

    Yes! It's one of my favourite quotes so far, thank you,

    Thank you, I'm glad you think so, given how little we know of Ash at this point.

    Sorry, I couldn't 'mon Wire, I luff him. But I do have a lot of fun with his tail.

    Thanks! Totally, unashamedly inspired by Star Trek Voyager's hologram Doctor character here, not gonna lie.

    I really hope I don't disappoint =)

    I am super nervous about Wire getting a shiny off the bat without people knowing there's a reason. I added it in a spoiler tag so people could avoid looking at it if they just want to be surprised. Hopefully from the next chapter people will notice something is off? Nevertheless, it's very important to the plot and that's all I can really say without throwing spoilers left, right and center.

    Thanks so much for reviewing, guys =D I appreciate the typos pointed out. I'll try and amend them before my next update (although I am pretty hopeless in this regard...) I'll hopefully remember to do so!
  5. RocketKnight66

    RocketKnight66 404: Consistent Schedule not Found

    Well, I'm not typically into trainer fics, but this one is too good an idea for me to ignore. I'm definitely getting some serious .hack vibes with the premise, especially with the thing about a virus messing with the game and putting players into comas. That's very reminiscent of that series, and I absolutely love it.

    I like that the future depicted isn't all grimdark, the prose talking about the hovercars definitely puts that into perspective for one. There's certainly some small little details that I find pretty neat, the biggest of which being how people spell UTEIC as either that or UTEK depending on their views, and with the second name taking on a meaning of it's own.

    We've certainly got an interesting cast of characters so far, and they come in all sorts of forms. The thing is talking animals is a bit silly, but I find it pretty amusing. I mean, I did get a bit confused in the beginning, but that's just because I had no idea what a Bush Baby was. The dynamic between Frost and Wire was entertaining, and I'll be looking forward to seeing more of them.

    I see there's a group of trainers fighting the virus... noticing an amusing similarity to G.U. there.

    It's intriguing that Wire got a shiny Pokémon... I wonder just how that may come into play in the future. Meanwhile, Frost picking Oshawott? Nice. I see he is a man of culture as well. xD

    Anyway, I enjoyed the first chapter and I'll be looking forward to more.


    ...Is that referencing what I think it is?
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2018 at 12:33 AM
  6. canisaries

    canisaries *blocks your path*

    Took a look at the first chapter, here are my thoughts.

    Yeah I'm gonna be unable to imagine Wire without him looking like Horatio 2.0 from The Nutshack, aren't it.

    Certainly a premise similar to Sword Art Online, hopefully turns out better than what the internet is making that out to be :U Either way, it's a rather big chunk of exposition that I feel like could maybe be spread out a bit for it to come more naturally. Right now, it kind of stops the story and mostly removes the characters to dump this backstory on the reader.

    On the virus, at first I didn't realize it was all instantaneous, so the mention of it being released "again" initially confused me. Maybe referring to "waves" of the virus would be slightly clearer?

    For some technical stuff: there seems to be a missing space in "boot,keeping" in the second paragraph. Also, it seems that throughout the chapter there are missing line breaks, such as the one between the last and second last sentence in this quote. You mentioned something about possible formatting errors, so this seems to be one, unless it drives some purpose that missed me. Fortunately, they're pretty easy to find by just skimming through as they stick out from the normal paragraphs, at least to me they did.


    Bush baby, pallas' cat... the rat makes sense, but besides that, whoever did these experiments sure picked oddly obscure animals.

    Hah! Nice nod to the 3DS.

    I do feel like, though, that the main problem with compatibility wouldn't be size but hooking a bush baby up to equipment meant for humans. I don't know how much the experiment changed Wire's brain to be more human-like, but I imagine there'd still be a bunch of oddities, for example motor functions - to operate a tail, the brain needs to have sections for handling that, and humans being sad bare butts, we wouldn't have those.

    Now, I'm not gonna sit here and complain how the technology in a scifi fic with talking animals is unrealistic, but I will say that this aspect feels oddly unaddressed, especially when the size difference is still given so much focus.


    I don't really get why the tail or a custom avatar is even necessary if they're purely visual. Feels like poor time management to focus on something like that when racing against the clock to prevent more people from going comatose.

    They can generate an incredibly advanced VR system, but they can't be arsed to make a quick random NPC face generating algorithm? Companies, man.

    Hey, I was just about to comment on that! Nice.

    uh oh here comes the dinosaur-or-toad debate


    General Comments

    While it feels a bit fast for the pacing, I am glad that the two main characters got to enter the virtual world already, as that seems to be the focus of this fic. I also hope, though, that the characters spend a bit more time in the real world, as otherwise the inclusion of the cyberpunk element would feel kind of extraneous.

    One thing I'm not totally sure on is just how powerful UTEIC actually is. We have all this information given to us:

    It's hard to tell if UTEIC is only a giant in the entertainment industry or if it has actual power over society. The first quote refers to "fans", which oppressive systems usually don't have, at least in the way Pokémon has fans. It's also hard to believe something that may land you comatose and caused mass panic would have really anyone playing it except the people stuck in it or heavily addicted.

    "UTEK" mentions "entertainment killing", which makes me think it's only a monopoly hurting free competition in the entertainment industry, but it having control over what's being published on the internet and being part of government conspiracies makes it sound a lot more malicious and raises questions of why only some 'anarchists' would oppose it instead of the majority, if censorship wasn't that strictly enforced (mass panic allowed). The police, typically the most powerful part of society after the military, seems unaffiliated with UTEIC given Frost is allowed to investigate the virus yet not be given access to UTEIC inside information. If UTEIC wanted no one to acknowledge or worry about the virus and had a lot of influence, it'd make sense for them to shut down anyone poking around in matters related to it. But if UTEIC wanted to get rid of the virus as much as the general public - which would make sense if they were only a company, as usually having your game endanger players (with no gain for the company from it) is very bad for business - they'd likely want all the professional help they could get.

    I guess what I'm saying is that it's hard to grasp how exactly this society works and what UTEIC's role in it is from this chapter, which may be something to worry about, especially for the first chapter.

    Aside from the odd worldbuilding, there's not much to fault here. The characters and dialogue so far are pretty believable and the prose flows without trouble. I wish you luck with this project! Feel free to ask any questions or for elaboration on any of the points in these comments.
  7. DeliriousAbsol

    DeliriousAbsol Call me Del

    If you think it's referencing the guy in every starting town commenting on science being amazing since Generation 1, then yes!

    Of course! Oshawott is best water starter!

    I've had to look that up. Must research thing...

    They did have to code in a tail for him.

    Necessity becomes a fun joke, though =3

    Of course not. Although, this is a nod towards there being very limited NPC generation in the real games.

    It's difficult to give too much information out, especially as it's an experimental mash-up with a world of my own creating. The main focus is the Pokemon:Life game and its epidemic, but UTEIC are behind all technology including games, social media etc. and it will come up in later chapters, even if we don't see UTEIC's face. 'Fans' refers to fans of the game, not fans of UTEIC.

    Thanks for all reviews, guys! I'm pretty glad I posted when I did, as some comments have helped spark inspiration for later chapters. I can't comfortably let everyone know without throwing out spoilers, so I'll try to remember to point out in those updates when I post them =)

    On to the next chapter! =D


    Chapter Two - The UnLockers​

    Allegro Forest was filled with music, interspersed with the occasional pokemon cry from deep within the grass. If the developers had wanted to create an atmospheric ambiance, they’d succeeded. New trainers filled the forest, foraging for pokemon and helpful items, making friends and engaging one another in friendly battles.

    Wire scurried along ahead of Frost, Tomato the bulbasaur at his side. The bush baby had insisted on checking the long grass for ‘potential pokemon to recruit to the cause’. Despite Frost’s protests that they should just go straight to A-Capella Town.

    Wire came to a halt and raised a chubby hand. “Wait there, Frost. I found somethin’.”

    Frost sighed and exchanged glances with Jester, still perched on his shoulder. The oshawott looked quite content, taking in the surroundings. Occasionally a phrase would pop up on Frost’s visor. ‘Jester is sniffing the air’, or ‘Jester wants to play’. At that moment, Jester was apparently watching the shadows curiously.

    “Go on, Tomato! Smack it with… I dunno… tackle!”

    Frost looked back at Wire, his eyes widening as the bulbasaur shot through the grass. His claws tore up the ground, sending dirt and stalks of grass into the air. He launched a full body tackle into something that resembled a black worm. It let out a squeal of pain as it rolled backwards only to vanish into the long grass. Wire took off after it, pulling out one of his fifteen pokeballs. He tossed one straight at it, then poked his large head out of the grass to fix Frost with a grin.

    “I caught it!” Wire stood up and stared at the pokeball. “Think I’m gonna call this one Cucumber.”

    Frost strolled to his side, careful not to trip over Tomato. “What is it?”

    “Pokedex calls it a scatterbug,” said Wire. “Had a mean look in its eye, so I thought it might be helpful.”

    The bush baby called back his bulbasaur in favor of the scatterbug. It manifested before them in a beam of light and looked up at them quizzically. Its body trembled and silver dust rose up off its body in a jagged cloud.

    “It… it doesn’t look very mean,” said Frost.

    “Well it did a moment ago!” Wire put his hands on his hips and sighed. “Stop being scared, you timid little worm! You’re a detective now!”

    Cucumber squealed and cowered behind a dandelion.

    Wire sighed and pushed a button on his visor, squinting at the faint light before his eyes.

    “You can read up on these things,” he said. “Apparently… this critter’s timid yet proud of her power.” He aimed a glare at the scatterbug. “You outright trolled me!”

    Another squeal and Cucumber almost vanished beneath the plant’s massive leaf.

    “Argh, it’s so cute!” A young girl, probably not older than ten, crouched beside the scatterbug. “Look at it’s fuzzy little head!”

    “Really? You like it?” Wire asked her. “I’ll trade it for that charmander of yours.”
    The girl looked positively mortified. She clutched her new pokemon in both arms and shook her head. “No way!”

    With that, she vanished into the forest.

    Wire frowned down at Cucumber, who seemed intent on finding the young girl.

    “I think you need to be a little more gentle with your new buggy friend,” said Frost. “Remember how scared you were when you showed up in my office?”

    Wire stared up at the detective and said nothing, calling back the scatterbug. Once Tomato was back at his side, he turned on his heel and continued through the grass, this time with a new purpose.

    “Let’s get this place behind us,” he said. “Before I get distracted by any more nervous bugs.”

    Frost followed him through a crowd of excited new players, giving two of them an apologetic nod as he sidestepped their battle.

    He noted a wooden sign indicating the end of Allegro Forest, leading into A-Capella town. He could see the town from where he stood, just beyond the trees. An NPC stood on the other side, walking back and forth with a net over his shoulder.

    Wire faltered at the exit, looking between the sign and the door. He exchanged glances with Tomato, and the bulbasaur let out a soft growl as if understanding Wire’s unspoken words.

    “Well, what are we waiting for?” Frost gave Wire a nudge.

    “Hey, this thing just got a whole lot more real.” Wire shot him a glare. “Once we’re in this town, we’re in deep. Let’s find these UnLockers before I change my mind.”

    Frost nodded and led his friend into the town. A rustle from the trees stopped him in his tracks and he glanced up at the canopy.

    “You heard it too, huh?” Wire scratched his nose. “I thought it were just emulating some tree dwelling pokemon.”

    “Maybe.” Frost put a hand on the tree. Sturdy. “But I wouldn’t be surprised if this game was deep enough that players could climb these trees.”

    “Yeh, imagine what pokemon you’d find up there?”

    “Yes, or what secret bases?”

    “You’re over-thinking this.” Wire tugged his coat. “Come on. Before Ash wonders what we’re playing at.”
    Frost gave the canopy one last glance and followed after him.

    The NPC looked up as they drew closer, and he lowered his net.

    “Hey,” he said. “Do you two know about ledges?”

    Frost was prompted to answer either ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Beyond the NPC was a ledge that looked rather high. Much too high to climb back up it.

    He decided to go with, “No.”

    Wire grumbled about wasting time and stood beside the ledge to wait for him.

    “They’re pretty scary,” the NPC said. “You can jump down them, but you won’t be able to get back up once you have. Choose carefully, otherwise you’ll need to wait until you’ve reached Bellicoso Town before you can visit Allegro Forest again.”

    Frost ‘hmm’d’ as he looked over at the ledge. He’d seen no such sign for Bellicoso Town. He checked his map, and sure enough adjoining the forest was a small town named Bellicoso. How had they missed that?

    “Can you get to Bellicoso Town from the forest?” he asked the NPC.

    The boy shook his head. “Not without the ability to cut down small trees.”

    “Need an axe then?” said Wire.

    “Well, we can either go back and find out,” said Frost, “or head into A-Capella Town and worry about it later. We have our destination anyway.”

    He bit the bullet and clambered over the ledge. It came up to his chest. Certainly not an easy obstacle to climb back over. With a shrug, he turned towards the small town. Standing out amongst the buildings was a bright red roof, and over the door was a pokeball symbol. Beside the building stood a sign that said ‘Pokemon Center - Here to Heal Your Team’.

    Frost’s visor flared to life. ‘The Pokemon Center is a convenient location to heal up your pokemon. If they are low on HP or PP, the Pokemon Center can heal them right up for free! You can also meet other players here, rest and enjoy a drink in our friendly cafe. The Pokemon Center is a hot spot for information. Find out what is going on in the Aria Region, catch up on events, and make some friends!’

    “Convenient,” he said.

    “I’ll say!” Wire shut off his visor. “Given Yew didn’t tell us where abouts this group is, I’d bet my tail that we’ll find out there.”

    “Your glitchy tail?”

    “Well I ain’t betting my real tail. I plan on having that for life. But if I’m wrong, I’ll happily have this thing recoded right off my ass.”

    Frost chuckled and made for the Pokemon Center, Wire at his side. Jester trilled and pointed a paw behind them. Frost looked back and more rustling reached his ears.

    “I’m beginning to think someone is following us,” he said.

    “I’m kinda hoping it’s just some kid messing about in the trees,” said Wire.

    Frost grunted his agreement, but he still wasn’t convinced. He kept one eye over his shoulder and followed Wire into the Pokemon Center. New trainers were flocking inside, and Tomato stood out from the host of other bulbasaur. Some trainers cast admiring or envious looks in Wire’s direction. Frost was surprised to see that no other trainers seemed to possess a shiny starting pokemon. At least not among this current group.

    “Who on earth do we ask?” said Wire.

    Frost shrugged. “I’m at a loss. The nurse?”

    Wire approached the nurse and pulled himself up so his chin was above the top of the counter.

    “Welcome to the Pokemon Center!” she said. “How may I help you today?”

    “We’re looking for a group called the UnLockers,” said Wire.

    The nurse blinked, then said again, “Welcome to the Pokemon Center. How may I help you today?”
    Frost leant over Wire’s head and gave the NPC a warm smile. “I believe this is where we can get information?”

    “Yes. What information are you requiring?” she asked.

    “We’re looking for the UnLockers,” he said. “Do you know where they are?”

    She blinked again. “Welcome to the Pokemon Center. How may I help you today?”

    “Well this is about as much use as the ‘g’ in ‘lasagna’.” Wire clambered down from the counter and looked around the room. “Erm… Frost?”

    Frost turned from the nurse and a chill went through him. Several of the trainers were watching them, their expressions blank. He placed a hand on Wire’s shoulder and steered him towards the door.

    “We should go. Ask somewhere else,” he said.

    The trainers turned their heads to watch them go, their faces remaining expressionless.

    “Well this is just darn creepy,” said Wire.

    “You’re telling m-” Frost froze as something pressed into his back.

    “Come with me.” The husky voice sent even more chills down Frost’s spine.

    He ventured a glance back, but all he saw was a black coat. Whatever was in his spine jabbed him some more until he was forced to move forwards. He marched ahead of his captor, noting Wire was in a similar situation. He caught a glimpse of what was up against his friend’s back.

    A gun? In a kid’s game?

    He clenched his teeth together and focused on moving out of the Pokemon Center. Once they were outside, their captors steered them around the side of the building and into a narrow alley. Finally, the gun was removed and Frost was spun around to face the trainer.

    A man almost his height, dressed in a black leather jacket, frowned at him. His hair was mousy brown, the fringe combed over one eye. The remaining copper eye traced over Frost’s body. Wire’s captor was a woman with long blue hair, but Frost didn’t feel comfortable taking his eyes off his own captor given the gun was still aimed at him. He became increasingly aware of their two pokemon, both canines, snarling at them from behind their trainers. One resembled a tiger, the other a blue and yellow wolf. The latter sparked with electricity.

    “So what are a couple of new trainers doing looking for the UnLockers?” the man asked him.

    “We were sent this way by Professor Yew,” said Frost.

    The man tutted. “I find that hard to believe. He hasn’t sent any new trainers our way since week one.”

    “Well I’ve been hired in the real world,” Frost explained. “Wire and I were asked to help out a young lady who’s fifteen year old daughter has been locked into the game by the boot-block virus.”

    “How long ago?”

    “A week ago,” said Frost. “Given the police were having no joy whatsoever, she turned to me.”

    “What’s the name of this girl?”

    “I can’t say. It’s confidential.”

    The man cocked his gun, knocking off the safety. Frost felt his throat tighten.

    Just a game. Just a game. The gun couldn’t hurt him… Could it?

    “Her virtual name is Kestrel,” said Frost.

    The man exchanged glances with his partner and lowered his gun.

    “That’s enough proof for me,” he said.

    Frost and Wire let out simultaneous sighs of relief.

    “Be glad you had that proof,” said the woman. “These guns would have removed you from Life for good.”

    “That sounds way more sinister than it should,” said Wire.

    “All a bullet would have done is remove your digital signature.” The man twirled his gun around his finger. “Not all that damaging given you’ve hardly even started.” He eyed Wire curiously and raised an eyebrow. “What’s with the tail?”

    “I don’t wanna talk about it,” said Wire.

    “Very well. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised you’ve clearly been hacked in?” The man’s eyes went to the two starter pokemon, and widened when they spotted the bulbasaur. “Got yourself a shiny, huh?”

    “Yeh.” Wire wagged a finger at him. “No touchy.”

    The man lifted his hands then holstered his gun. “Anyway. My name’s Riot. This is Marine.”

    The woman nodded and Frost gave her a smile. She didn’t take it well. A frown creased her features and she folded her arms, fixing him in an icy blue glare.

    “We can take you to our base,” said Riot. “You won’t get very far tracking down the culprits with weak level five pokemon like that.”

    The two pokemon leapt before him and flashed their canines.



    Riot chuckled and pushed past them down the alley. “Come on. We haven’t got all day.”


    The UnLocker’s base was situated beneath a library. They entered the normal way, but rather than head through the shelves of books, they took a turn into the basement. A panel reminiscent of a fingerprint reader was mounted beside the door, and worked in a similar fashion.

    Riot gave Frost a sideways glance when he raised his eyebrow at it. “Reads your digital signature.”

    Frost merely nodded and followed the two trainers into the base. He froze and did a double-take. The room looked like nothing more than a sitting room. Two threadbare sofas sat in an L-shape around a low, black coffee table. Against the far wall was another table, a little taller, with a coffee machine perched on it. Some dirty cups accompanied it, one of which was holding teaspoons.

    Only a handful of people occupied the room. Three trainers - two girls and a man - sat on the sofas and watched the two detectives curiously. A frown twisted the man’s face and he placed his hand on the back of a black, scruffy dog pokemon. The large hyena-like creature snarled, flashing two sharp canines. The two girls looked much more friendly, although cautious. Frost realised they were identical twins, but with two different pokemon. One was a fluffy elf-like creature, while the other was an anthropomorphic flower with leaves for arms.

    “New recruits?” the man asked from the sofa. There was as much distaste in his voice as his face indicated.

    “Yes, Frost and Wire,” said Riot. “Ran into them asking about us in the Pokemon Center.”

    “What are you going to do with them?” one of the twins asked.

    “They seem legit,” said Marine. “Yew sent them our way.”

    “That’s a first,” the man snorted. “He’s not sent any our way since the squirts.”

    He nodded to the twins, receiving a glare from both them and their pokemon.

    “That seems an unfair statement given this virus is only three weeks old,” said Frost.

    “Hardly,” the man scoffed. He turned to Wire and frowned. “What’s with the goofy tail? Didn’t think they were doing furry customizations yet.”

    Wire rolled his eyes and let his arms fall to his sides. “Would you guys just lay off the tail?”

    The black dog pokemon let out a low growl. It’s trainer tutted and combed his fingers through the it’s fur. It calmed down, lowering its head onto its paws. But it kept both yellow eyes fixed on Frost and Wire.

    “Anyway, about that virus,” said Wire. “You implied it’s been goin’ on for longer than three weeks. How long have you been going then?”

    “Since we first got wind of the boot-block virus, months ago,” said Riot. “Long before it was unleashed. We’d wanted to get on top of it, stop it getting out at all. But we never found the culprits in time.”

    “In time?” Wire looked up at him. “You mean you’ve found them?”

    “We’re close,” said Marine. “We can fill you both in later. First thing’s first.” She folded her arms and nodded to the other three trainers. “The twins are Elk and Gazelle. Their pokemon are Whimsicott and Lilligant. Unlike most trainers, they chose not to nickname them. The man we’ve been chatting to-”

    “Name’s Cuthbert,” said the man. “Laugh and I’ll skin your hides. Or I’ll get Lance to do it.” He nodded to the huge dog.

    Frost loaded up his visor and fixed it on the dog. The pokedex told him it was a mightyena. It growled again and flattened its ears back on its head. Going off it’s entry, that didn’t bode well. Frost looked away from it and switched his visor off, before turning back to Marine and Riot.

    “This way.” Riot nodded towards a door at the back of the sitting room. “We’ll get you kitted out with some proper pokemon.”

    “Osha! Wott!” Jester smacked Riot in the leg with his scalchop shell.

    The trainer hopped to the side and snarled at the small pokemon. “You little… Full of fight, aren’t ya?”

    Frost scooped the oshawott up and popped him on his shoulder. “I’m sorry. But maybe you should avoid offending him?”

    Jester flashed a canine. “Shaa…”

    Riot rolled his eyes and limped through the door. “Tiny otter with a Napoleon complex.”

    The scalchop bounced off the back of his head. He staggered through the door with an ‘oomph!’ A loud laugh came from Cuthbert and he smacked his leg as he tried to regain himself. Marine sighed and pushed the two detectives ahead of her, then slammed the door, trapping Frost between herself and Riot’s arcanine. He could feel its hot breath on his back. The game hadn’t missed a single detail. Marine fixed Frost with an icy leer and stood on tiptoes until they were almost nose to nose.

    “Get that oshawott in check!” she growled. “At this rate, you’ll never be able to handle a fully evolved pokemon!”

    Frost shrugged and rubbed Jester’s head. “Hey, he’s his own individual.”

    “He’s a pile of pixels!” Marine snapped. “And you’ve had it for what… an hour?”

    “Hour and a half,” said Frost.

    Marine tutted and turned on her heel, marching down the corridor with her manectric in tow. Riot looked after her, rubbing the back of his head, then turned back to Frost and Wire.

    Wire looked between them then nodded at Marine’s retreating back. “Buzzkill, ain’t she?”

    “Aye,” said Riot. “That’s what happens when you let officials into the game. They couldn’t care less, it’s just another case to them. Guess you guys aren’t like that?”

    “I dunno, I thought we would be.” Wire exchanged glances with Tomato. “But then the game like… makes you care for them.”

    “Unless they’re timid bugs,” said Frost.

    Wire shushed him then swiveled his belt to hide the second pokeball behind his back.

    If Riot noticed he didn’t show it. He ushered them on after Marine, leading them into a corridor filled with metal cages. It was like some kind of animal shelter. Various colourful pokemon looked out at them, each one different from the last. Giant reptiles, bears, birds, creepy crawlies. Finally, they reached Marine, and she nodded at the cage before her. A huge, bipedal creature stared out at them. It resembled some kind of sheep/giraffe hybrid. Its fur was a rich yellow, and it fixed its eyes on Frost.

    “This guy is probably the most accessible,” she said. “Pretty docile. He only evolved two days ago. I’d recommend you take him.”

    Frost examined him with his visor. Level thirty eight. Name - Amphoros. Rather jolly, but a little quick tempered.

    “Okay,” he said. “I’ll take your recommendation.”

    “Good.” Marine opened the door and retracted the ampharos into its pokeball. “You gonna name it?”

    When he received the ball, the option popped up on his visor. So he had to come up with another name?

    “It used to be mine,” said Marine. “But I don’t bother with that whole nicknaming thing. Only one I’ve bothered naming is Sparky, and that’s only because my sister insisted on it.” She nodded to the manectric. “Call that ampharos whatever you want.”

    “All right.” Frost scratched his nose and stared at the ball. “I guess I’ll call him Ace.”

    “And I’m gonna call this guy Chives!” Wire called from three cages down. He waved towards Marine and Riot. “Oi! I want this guy! He’s like family!”

    The two trainers and Frost strolled over to him. Behind the bars was a giant, shaggy white monkey with a pig’s nose. Its bare, muscular limbs flailed as it bashed against the walls of its confines. Its high pitched shrieks filled the corridor, and it paused only to throw the remnants of berries at the bars of its cage.

    “Are you sure?” Riot asked. “A primeape?”

    “Yeah.” Wire didn’t take his eyes off it. “Gimme that monkey.”

    Marine glanced down at him and twirled a blue lock of hair around her fingers. “But you can barely handle that bulbasaur. What makes you think you can handle a pokemon as wild as a primeape?”

    “Tomato is fine!” Wire waved a hand. “Now hand me my primeape!”

    The bush baby started jumping up and down, waving his arms in a tantrum. Frost took a step back, his jaw going slack. Jester trembled on his shoulder, removing his scalchop perchance he needed to use it.

    “All right, all right!” Marine removed her keys and went to unlock the door. “I can’t be dealing with two rampaging apes in here! Just take it!”

    Wire stopped jumping around and fired a grin at Frost. Frost shook his head and sighed.

    “Really?” he mouthed.

    Wire shrugged. “I was showin’ my new friend we’re alike.”

    “What?” Marine stuffed the pokeball into Wire’s hands. “That you’re both immature buffoons?”

    “Exactly.” Wire most likely hadn’t heard her.

    He fired up his visor to nickname his new partner and froze. His eyes widened like huge, yellow disks and his jaw dropped.

    “Is there a problem?” Riot asked. “Just found out the primeape has pokerus, on top of being handed a shiny starter?”

    “It doesn’t have pokerus,” Marine spat.

    “Erm, guys?” Wire glanced up at them then turned his head to Frost. “I’ve just got an advanced notice.”

    “Eh?” Riot raised an eyebrow.

    Frost ignored him and stood behind Wire’s back, straining to read his visor. It was no easy task.

    “What does it say?” he asked.

    “It says ‘This evening, at seven PM, I will be visiting A-Capella Library to steal your shiny bulbasaur. TT.’ It even has his dumb raccoon dog tail on here.” Wire retracted his visor and scowled. “What on earth is Tenacious Tanuki doing in Pokemon:Life?!”

    “I think that’s quite an easy answer.” Frost stood up and folded his arms, meeting Tomato’s eyes. “He’s stealing shiny pokemon.”

    “What? You know this Tenacious guy?” Riot asked.

    “Oh, rather well.” Frost rubbed his head and sighed. “Too well, actually. How well do you know him?”

    “Only his name,” said Riot. “Never seen his face.”

    “He ain’t behind this virus is he?” Wire asked the room.

    The two trainer’s shrugged, and Frost shook his head.

    “If I were to hazard a guess,” said Frost, “I’d say our little phantom thief friend is flying solo.”

    “Huh,” said Wire. “Thought it sounded out of character. I mean, what would he gain from it unless there’s treasure at the end?” He fixed livid eyes on the two trainers. “Is there treasure at the end?!”

    “Calm down, Wire. We’ll get to the bottom of this.” Frost scratched his nose and gazed down at Tomato.
    “Trust you to grab us phantom thief bait on day one.”


    “Hey!” Wire snapped. “I didn’t ask for a freakin’ shiny! That’s all RNG!”

    “Well.” Riot folded his arms and leant back against Chives’ empty cage. “I guess if you’re gonna keep that TT guy off your bulbasaur, you’re gonna need to get a lot stronger and fast.”
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2018 at 10:33 AM

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