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Roots // PG-13

Mrs. Lovett

Rolling writer
Its not to say that both of these chapters weren't good, they were. It's not that the plot wasn't good, as it was. I throughly enjoyed them both, but they were too short. Let's focus on chapter four.

You depicted the death of Michael's father and the ensuing emotional strife and turmoil it caused. I think you captured that emotion of that disaster perfectly, and for that you should be commended.

I also like the fact that Michael ran away and kept the Stunky. I just would have preferred that both chapters were longer, that way we would have had some better description of Sinnoh back in the day, and perhaps advance further in Rowan's journey.

Keep up the good work, but maybe tweak your length and description a bit. I want to see a little more of your Sinnoh.
All right, I understand what you mean. It's just that these two cover a time when Michael is stationary, and all he really sees is his house and the places closest to it. The next chapter will see him in the city, so I'll have more things to work with.

So, thanks for the honesty, and I'll definitely try to do more in the chapters to come. See you next time!
 

Horizon

Fufufufufu...
So Micheal ran away... because he wanted to follow in his brother's footsteps. I didn't think Micheal would do something like that, especially for that reason. Nice twist.

I like how in the rush with the Stunky escaping, caused him to bring his pokemon with him during his run-away. Also how the Turtwig helped him corner the Stunky shows that even though how cruel Micheal acts towards pokemon Turtwig will respect him. Maybe Stunky will too someday?

As for Patricia... I don't feel bad for her. She should've learn from Richard that she can't force her children to do things in her own interests and neglect theirs. I'm not saying that Micheal should keep hating pokemon, but she shouldn't force him to do things that aren't his interests all the time.

And there's my opinion so far. If anything it would be nice if you made the chapters longer. But besides that, keep up the good work!
 

Mrs. Lovett

Rolling writer
So Micheal ran away... because he wanted to follow in his brother's footsteps. I didn't think Micheal would do something like that, especially for that reason. Nice twist.

I like how in the rush with the Stunky escaping, caused him to bring his pokemon with him during his run-away. Also how the Turtwig helped him corner the Stunky shows that even though how cruel Micheal acts towards pokemon Turtwig will respect him. Maybe Stunky will too someday?

As for Patricia... I don't feel bad for her. She should've learn from Richard that she can't force her children to do things in her own interests and neglect theirs. I'm not saying that Micheal should keep hating pokemon, but she shouldn't force him to do things that aren't his interests all the time.

And there's my opinion so far. If anything it would be nice if you made the chapters longer. But besides that, keep up the good work!
Funny, because I was just editing chapter five...

Like I said before, from here on the story will start lengthening. It's just that I had to get past this period in Michael's life where he was waiting to move on to better things. There will be more to show in the upcoming chapters, anyway, so I do hope it'll be better for everyone.

Originally, Michael's escape went very differently, and then I came up with a better idea. I'm glad I did too :p

Thanks for the review!
 

LudicoloGuy

ludiludiludiludiludi
PM list plz


Also, this fic is awesome. I never thought that a story going in depth to Rowan's background could be so entertaining. I wonder what character change he goes through that makes him become a Professor? It would also be a bit interesting if he met some of his older brothers that ran away, like he meets one and they team up, but he finds out that the other one died or something?

Anyway, keep it up. Looking forward to chapter 5.
 

Paddypower

Well-Known Member
I saw it coming that Micko would run away, but still, you handled it great. I enjoyed the little delve into his family's past which sort of shows why his mother is so protective of him. I'm curious to see what he'll be doing now, if he hates Pokémon he can hardly go off on a journey without some brilliant reason can he? But he can't really hang around Jubilife without getting recognised or found by the police soon enough. Your move, Michael.
 

Mrs. Lovett

Rolling writer
PM list plz


Also, this fic is awesome. I never thought that a story going in depth to Rowan's background could be so entertaining. I wonder what character change he goes through that makes him become a Professor? It would also be a bit interesting if he met some of his older brothers that ran away, like he meets one and they team up, but he finds out that the other one died or something?

Anyway, keep it up. Looking forward to chapter 5.
PM list updated. Thanks so much! As for his brothers, it won quite happen that way but don't worry, you'll get to find out what happens to everyone.


I saw it coming that Micko would run away, but still, you handled it great. I enjoyed the little delve into his family's past which sort of shows why his mother is so protective of him. I'm curious to see what he'll be doing now, if he hates Pokémon he can hardly go off on a journey without some brilliant reason can he? But he can't really hang around Jubilife without getting recognised or found by the police soon enough. Your move, Michael.
Yeah he's in a bit of a pickle now, isn't he? Hehe. Don't worry, he'll get what's coming to him... Not saying anything else, though.

Glad you all enjoyed this, and see you next chapter.
 

Mrs. Lovett

Rolling writer
All right, this little chapter sees Michael in the big city. I posted it a day early because I won't be on tomorrow.

This chapter's been through the grinder and back; that's all I have to say. Hope you like it!

A big part of this was inspired by this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HTdn0q90Wg&feature=related

If you've seen Shrek2 before, it's the song that plays when they enter Far Far Away. The song was released in 1980 and the story takes place in 1963, so there's a bit of an inconsistency there. Still, I find the mood appropriate for the first chunk of the chapter. You don't have to listen to it as you read, (I, for one, find music distracting) but if you're interested, you can take a look after you're done. Just a little "extra", courtesy of the author ;)


0.5

Jubilife City appeared in stages.

First came the famous ledge, the natural hill that the city stood upon. It raised the downtown above everything else, like a princely estate among cornfields, and as Michael followed the upward slope, he soon found himself a good few meters higher than the land behind him. The structures here were small and plain, things like family-owned businesses and gas stations. The houses were all propped up on stilts that made sure they stood horizontally, but the effect was a drab, rickety look that made it seem like they could collapse at any moment. Few cars lingered here, and the ones that did reflected the washed-out state of everything else. Michael watched as a rusty Oldsmobile passed by, spewing brown exhaust from its tailpipe.

No show, no go... he thought with a snicker.

As he continued farther up, the city grew cleaner, and the roadways smooth. Now he saw billboards with smiling people and pokémon, warmly welcoming him to the downtown and urging him to stop and get a cool haircut. The sidewalk widened, making room for dozens of little stands and booths, where street vendors displayed racks of souvenirs, food, and novelties. The items were all horribly overpriced, yet people gathered around in droves to buy them.

Michael had spent his fair share of time in the downtown, from weekend outings to forced shopping journeys, and countless adventures with his friends. He knew West Jubilife like the back of his hand, but the farther east he went, the more his sense of direction faltered, and the more the buildings and crowds seemed to compress together, forming rivers of congestion.

Most of the people around him were high-school students going wild on their summer break, strolling about the streets while the night was still young. They walked in cliques amid puffs of cigarette smoke and clinking glasses, crowding out the businesspeople to the sides of walkways. Across the street, Michael caught sight of a tall blonde in a knee-length miniskirt. Her arm was draped over the shoulder of an older, muscular guy, but it was safe to look from a distance. She was prettier than most of the girls at his school, who preferred to keep their hair tied and their faces unpainted, or did their makeup to such an extent that their faces seemed like porcelain masks. But this girl was the perfect middle boundary. He could detect a bit of eyeshadow and lipstick, but other than that, she was a natural beauty. Michael's gaze lingered on her as the couple walked, finally turning to enter a pub.

Nice, he thought with a smile. Just ditch Big Nose over there and you'll be swell.

A few minutes later, Michael’s gaze found a different girl — a brunette with unbelievably curly hair standing in front of an opened doorway. She was somewhat bigger than the blonde and wore thick-rimmed glasses. He wasn’t the type to judge a girl on the fact that she wore glasses (his previous girlfriend had worn them and looked mighty fine) so at first the brunette seemed all right, until he was close enough to read the sign she was holding: "Join the National Science League! Donations accepted inside!"

Michael was instantly reminded of school, and quickened his pace. From then on, he kept his wandering eyes fixed ahead. The cool kids drove cars, anyway.

As he progressed, the cars on the road became shinier and more exquisite, to the point where Michael had to stop to admire them. They glimmered in the light like candy wrappers, their bumpers bearing names like 'Chevrolet' and 'Pontiac'. He must have looked pretty idiotic, standing there with his lips parted, but Michael didn't care.

I'll have one of those someday. The best car there is, and I'll have it.

He made his pledge while eying a red Ford Galaxie. The model was a tribute to the Team Galactic rocket of the same name, and featured a bulky frame with shiny stripes along the side. A man was sitting in the driver's seat, his eyes hidden behind sunglasses and one arm carelessly dangling out over the door. For a moment, Michael imagined himself in his place. It felt good, even though he knew he might never get that much.

No one around him seemed to care that he was carrying a Stunky with him, though on one occasion he thought he heard someone coo, "Aw, look at the cute little trainer!" Michael couldn't see the face behind the voice, so he kept going, his cheeks stinging. The Stunky, meanwhile, was exploring the city in its own mammalian way. It scurried around, eyes blinking, probably also transfixed by the city's beauty. For a brief moment, Michael wondered what it must feel like to be a pokémon, to leave your home and be surrounded by so many unfamiliar things. From inside the cage, the world must have seemed bigger than life. In that sense, they were alike.

After a few more minutes of walking, Michael reached the heart of Central Jubilife. He knew it when he saw the fountain — a magnificent bowl that stood in an open square, shooting out tall plumes of water. The lights around it flashed all sorts of colors, dyeing the streams green, blue, red, and everything else imaginable. The fountain was surrounded by a garden, with vines that reached up to embrace the stone bowl. People sat in benches around it, talking, playfully rocking their feet.

For a moment, Michael listened to the rushing streams.

So this is what freedom feels like. He inhaled, and could almost taste the water through the air. What would Cory and Brendan say?

He stood on the sidewalk for a long while, then gathered his thoughts and pressed on. He crossed another street, keeping himself occupied by glancing at the windows he passed. Among the hair salons, candy shops, and clothing boutiques, his eyes found a bookstore. Its door was bright and new, to his almost comic observation, as if not many people had used it. The store was called Fran's Books. For some reason or another, he saw himself enter.

Inside, the store was clean and quiet, with walls of shelves that reached all the way up to the ceiling. Once the door closed behind him, the sounds of the city vanished, replaced by the buzzing of ceiling lamps.

The only person there was a female clerk, who sat behind a semicircular counter, reading a newspaper. Her area was a little island of light, while in the back room, the bookcases were masked in shadow. When the woman saw Michael, her eyebrows perked in greeting. Her name tag read, simply, 'Fran'.

"Hello," she said. "Sorry, I wasn't expecting anyone this late. I try to save energy this time of year, since not a lot of people come in." She flipped a light switch behind her, and the other room lit up.

"Why not?" asked Michael.

The woman shrugged. "I don't know. Summer, I guess. Everyone's out having fun, going to dances, and I'm the only one sitting inside reading."

"I like books," Michael said. It was true, actually. When he was younger, he sometimes stole Brian's books to keep himself entertained during boring class sessions. But for some reason, his interest had dwindled over the years. Stepping into a bookstore was like stepping back into childhood.

Meanwhile, the clerk smiled. "Good for you. You know, I've been noticing that people who read are less likely to get into trouble."

Michael stifled a laugh. Well that can't be true.

"And they also end up leading better lives," she continued. "These young people... all they care about is self-indulgence. Most of my friends wouldn't take a book into their hands if they were forced to. It's a choice you have to make early on, you know. Pay now, play later, or play now and pay later." She chuckled.

Michael didn’t know what to say, so he just nodded.

"Sorry, I'm rambling," the woman said. "I work by myself most of the time, so my mind tends to run." She leaned back and took the newspaper back into her hands. "So you wanna have a look around?"

"I guess," Michael said.

The clerk nodded. Her eyes went to the cage. "But be careful with that Stunky of yours. Some of these books are really old."

"Okay."

"Just holler if you need me."

Michael went to the back room and began to pace around, reading the titles that surrounded him. Most of the spines were tattered, their text faded. It occurred to him that this might have been secondhand shop.

Beside him, he felt the Stunky shift around. Michael picked a book from the shelf and turned it over to read the cover. It was a history book of some sort, and its binding was worn from years of being passed along. On the back, Michael saw the price tag — ten P. His eyes bulged. Even in school book fairs, he had never seen one more expensive than four.

"That's a really old book," said the woman from up front. "It's about ancient pokémon."

"It's expensive," Michael said.

"Like I said, it's old! And it's a special edition that is rarely reprinted nowadays. I actually got it off a—" Her sentence was cut short by a loud rrip. By the time Michael realized what it was, it was too late.

He had lowered his arm without realizing it, letting the bottom corner of the book dip into the cage. The Stunky had locked its jaws around it, soaking the pages with saliva.

"No, no! Bad Stunky!" Michael tried to yank the book loose, but the Stunky's grip was iron. The clerk nearly fell out of her chair. She was at Michael's side in seconds.

"It'll ruin the binding!" she screeched. "Get it off, quick!"

"I'm trying, I'm trying!" Michael shook the cage violently, bumping it against his knee and the shelves, causing two books to fall to the floor. But the harder he tugged, the stronger the Stunky held.

"Get it off, get it off!" The woman’s voice reached a hysterical high. Her hands moved frantically around the cage, fingers poking through the gaps in the bars. Somehow, she managed to reach inside with her thumb and gripped the Stunky’s tail.

"No, don’t!" Michael began, but before he could finish, a jet of green gas shot out at the woman's face. She let out a yelp and fell backwards, arms flying up. The cloud of stink rose and spread, and Michael backed away with a cringe, eyes watering.

The woman slid down against the shelf and plopped to the floor. Her cheeks were wet with tears, and her mouth was hanging open.

"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry!" With one final exertion, Michael pulled the book out of the Stunky's mouth. He held it up to inspect it, but the damage had already been done. The entire bottom half was in ruins, and a page jutted out like a hanging tongue. Teeth marks stood out from where the Stunky had been holding.

The store was silent for a few moments.

"Oh no..." The woman rose slowly to her feet. A muscle beneath her left eye twitched.

In his mind, Michael kicked himself. He hadn't been in the store for five minutes, and already something had gone wrong.

"I'm sorry! It was an accident!" he said. "Here, take your book." He placed it in her shaking hands.

"This... do you know how much this meant to me? Ten entire dollars, wasted..." The woman’s eyes were bloodshot from the chemical reaction made by the musk.

"It was the Stunky's fault, not mine!" Michael said.

The clerk cleared her throat and ran her fingers through her hair. "It's okay, I guess it's not your fault. That book was about to fall apart anyway." To his surprise, she began laughing. "Heh! It's sure gonna need some repair."

She opened her mouth to say something else, but whatever it was didn't come out. Instead, her eyes fell on the cage. Her expression softened a little as she kneeled down beside it.

"Oh, you poor thing. You're probably hungry. Is that why you bit my book? Huh, little fella?" The woman placed a hand on the cage, and the Stunky shrank back from it. All of a sudden, she seemed to forget that her favorite book was in ruins and that she smelled like vomit.

"Uh... so, do I have to pay for the book?" Michael asked.

The woman looked back up at him, arching her eyebrows. "Your pokémon looks awfully hungry, kid."

"I... well, yeah, I know, but that's not the—”

The woman rose to her full height, her face towering well above his. "That thing is all skin and bones. Are you sure it's okay?"

Michael nodded. "It's fine."

"It doesn't look too good. Were you gonna take it to a vet?"

Michael shook his head. "No, it's fine, really. So do you want me to pay? I mean, I can if you want me to, whatever."

The woman didn't seem to be hearing him. She looked at the Stunky, frowning.

"Look, I can pay for the book! If you want me to." Michael repeated. The intensity of her gaze was unsettling him.

"Why are you keeping it in a cage like this? Most people just let their pokémon walk on a leash."

Michael exhaled. Why did she keep switching the subject? "I don't know. Okay? This is all I have."

"Where did you get it anyway? Are you a trainer?"

"It's none of your business! And no, I'm not a trainer!" Michael retorted. "If you don't want me to pay, then I'll go." He began to back away, but the woman advanced towards him.

"You know, trainers are the only minors permitted to carry pokémon with them. So if you don't have a trainer card, having that Stunky with you is illegal. Plus, it doesn't appear to be in very good health."

"It's perfectly fine!"

The woman shook her head. "You know, if you're not a trainer and you're not with an adult, I can assume that it's not yours and you're abusing it. That poor pokémon is shaking. Look at it! Does that mean anything to you?"

Michael took a quick peek at the Stunky. Yes it was shaking, but he always thought it was from fright, not hunger. Didn't he feed it earlier? What more could it want?

"I don't care! I mean, just..." Michael groaned, but for some reason the words weren’t coming out the way he wanted them to.

The woman's eyes widened. "You don't care?"

Michael pressed his palm to his forehead. "I can pay for the book," he said. "Then I'll leave, okay? I know I'm not a trainer, but I swear, this is my Stunky. I caught him myself and I put him in the cage because if I don't, he’ll run away! Okay?"

The woman didn’t answer. Her expression was clouded, and she looked down at Michael as if he were some sort of maniac.

"No... just get out of my store," she said slowly.

Michael raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure? Because—"

"Just get out! You little monster." The woman stepped past him and went back to her desk. Then she did something that surprised him. She threw the book into the trash can, letting it fall into the scrap like a worthless piece of paper.

Michael narrowed his eyes. "Fine," he murmured. "Buy another one."

By the time he left the store and resumed his walk, the Stunky was growing restless. Michael could feel the vibrations it made as it circled around, and he shook the cage up and down to make it stop.

"Shut up, shut up!" Michael said. "It's all your fault anyway, Skanky. You should be happy if I decide to feed you by next week." The Stunky made no reply. Michael continued down the sidewalk, dodging anyone who got in his way. His mind was churning.

What a moron... How am I a monster? She was the one who tried to butt into my business. Now she can spend her own money to buy another book. What do I care?

But for some reason, he did. What the clerk said had displaced something within him. And no matter how he turned the conversation in his mind, he could wring no other meaning from of her words. Her intention had been very clear — you, Michael Rowan, are a monster for starving the Stunky.

He had been called worse before. So why did this accusation bother him?

Michael kept replaying the previous few minutes in his mind as he walked. He had stopped reading the street signs, and was now wandering aimlessly, with no idea where he even was. He drove himself to such extent that the sounds of the city began echoing strangely in his ears, and some of the signs became blurry to him. On top of it all, he was feeling a painful rumbling at the pit of his stomach. The candy bar from earlier had done nothing to chase away his hunger.

I need some real food... Michael pursed his lips thoughtfully. Looking around, he saw that there were a few restaurants around him, but they were all bars and nightclubs that looked as if they'd offer him a fight before they'd offer him food. He kept walking, till he came across a sign that read 'Joe's Supreme Sandwiches'. Without hesitation, Michael went inside.

The store consisted of a single room, furnished with a few round tables and a row of booths along the walls. The wallpaper was a dingy yellow, and elevator music crackled over the chatter of seated customers. A glass display beside the front counter showed rows of colorful sandwiches, piled with meat, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, and countless other things. Michael's stomach rumbled again.

He approached the counter, where a man stood, assembling a sub with gloved hands. When Michael stopped by the register, he looked up.

"No pokémon allowed in the restaurant.”

Michael tore his eyes from the display and looked down at the Stunky. It was still a bit shaky from the bookstore, and looked ready to pounce. "Sorry. I can't really get rid of it right now."

The clerk sighed. "Whatever. As long as that thing doesn't urinate on my floor. If it does, you're cleaning it up. Understood?"

Michael nodded.

"All right. What will you be having?"

"Can I have the sandwich you're making?"

The clerk shook his head. "Nope. This one's for me. My genius of a manager doesn't give me much time for lunch breaks." He bit off a corner of the sandwich and began to chew. "Don't tell anyone I said that."

"Okay... how much is a beef?”

"Fifty cents."

Michael nodded and dropped his backpack to the floor. He squatted down and began a very long, very awkward search for his money. The clerk didn’t complain. He waited for Michael to hand him a dollar bill, then reached into the display to pull out a large sandwich. He slapped it onto a tray and pushed it towards Michael, along with his change.

"Anything to drink?"

"Water."

Michael handed over his change in return for a water bottle, and went to look for an empty table. The café was considerably full for its size. He looked around the room, then suddenly, his eyes locked on a single face, and he recognized the blonde girl he had seen before. She was sitting alone at a booth, absently stirring a cup of tea. Their gazes met for a moment. Before he pulled away, Michael noticed that her eyes were a deep amber.

He turned in the opposite direction and found an empty booth, and slid into the corner until he was well out of sight. He placed the Stunky beneath the table and took a long drink of water. But just as he lifted the sandwich to his mouth, he heard a loud peep from beneath the table.

Some people turned their heads. Michael quickly looked down, and saw that the Stunky had begun to pace around again. He glared at it for a few moments. It gave another squeal. Feeling sorry for it, Michael tore off a bit of his sandwich and tossed it into the cage. The Stunky threw itself upon it, and backed away with it into the darkness. Quiet at last.

He finished his sandwich without any further interruptions, and left the café with a satisfied stomach. He strolled up the sidewalk at a leisurely pace, looking around at the buildings with renewed interest. A large slip of the sky was visible overhead, completely black against the glare of light.

Michael was watching the cars go by when he felt a tap on his shoulder.

"Excuse me," said a mellow voice. Female.

He turned, and at first he couldn't believe his eyes. The blonde was standing three feet away from him. He could see her features in detail now — thin waist, long nose, pink lips. Freckles. She was definitely older than him, probably by about four years. The oldest girl he had flirted with was one grade above him, but that was nothing compared to this.

The blonde's eyes were narrowed, and she seemed to be in deep thought.

"Uh... hello," Michael said. Oh God, do I have crumbs on my mouth? He casually reached up and wiped it with the back of his hand. It was a stupid move, something a class nerd would have done, but the girl didn't seem to notice.

"Do I know you from somewhere?" she said. "I'm sorry, but you look really familiar."

"I saw you... walk into a pub earlier today."

Whatever she was about to say she bit back, giggling. "Uh, no. I don't mean that. From a distance, you looked exactly like someone I know. What's your name?"

"Michael."

The girl’s face lit up for a moment, but then the smile vanished. "No, no, I made a mistake. Sorry about that. For a second, you two looked really similar..."

"Who's the guy?"

The girl shook her head dismissively. "Just a friend from Slateport."

"Oh, so you're not from here?"

"No. I live in Hoenn. I'm visiting my cousin for the summer." She crossed her arms. "But he's more interested in the beer quality than the landmarks. He didn't even give me a map."

"Do you need directions or anything?" Michael said immediately. "I'm pretty familiar with this place, so..."

"Oh no, you don't have to do that. I'll only slow you down." Her eyes fell on the cage. "And it looks like you have enough to carry already."

In his mind, Michael winced. "It's okay, I mean, it's not really that heavy."

But the girl shook her head. "It's okay. Honestly, I'll be fine. At any rate, I should be getting back to the pub. My cousin's probably wondering where I am." She gave a smile, and waved. "It was nice meeting you, Michael."

"Nice meeting you too," he began, but stopped. He hadn't even gotten the girl's name. All he could do was watch as her form grew smaller and smaller in the distance, till it was finally swallowed by the crowd.

Michael swallowed. Well don't I have the best luck in the world. He could almost picture his friends laughing at him for passing up such an opportunity.

He continued up the sidewalk sourly, no longer paying attention to where he was going. As the Stunky began to move about again, he felt spite bubble up inside of him.

This thing has cost me my summer, it’s cost me my friends, it’s cost me my freedom, and now it’s cost me a chick. Shit, I hate pokémon!

Michael crossed a few more streets, rounded a few more corners. By the time he reached East Jubilife, his legs were aching and he had to stop at a bench to rest. He heaved himself and his backpack onto the seat and took several deep breaths.

The city had long lost its magic. The lights were giving him a headache, and the car horns blared painfully in his ears. It felt like he had walked a hundred miles. Looking out, Michael could see nothing but buildings, roads, and cars. The city was endless. He would be trapped in here forever, doomed to an eternity of walking, walking, and getting nowhere. He would starve, and his carcass would wash away into the gutters.

Michael took his head into his hands. I'm crazy. I've completely wigged out.

He leaned back into the bench and took a look around. Maybe I can find a hotel or something... I can beg them to let me stay for free... I don't know how, but I'll do it.

Beside him, the Stunky shifted. Michael frowned. I wonder how much someone would pay for a wild Stunky...

The pokémon cocked its head, probably not even aware of its own nose. Michael rolled his eyes.

He could see nothing around him that indicated an inn or hotel of any kind. All he could see were shops, stands, and diners that now seemed to serve no purpose other than taking up space.

He was about to close his eyes in resignation when, at the edge of his vision, he saw something flash. A sign. It was covered in black letters that spelled out something, but he couldn't tell what.

Michael sat up and turned his head around towards the building. It was tall and square, with a giant satellite dish perched on top. The flashing board hung right above the entrance, the text illuminated by a backlight, with dozens of tiny bulbs flashing along its perimeter:

"WELCOME TO THE CITY OF DREAMS! JUBILIFE TELEVISION STATION IS YOUR NUMBER ONE SOURCE FOR ALL THINGS NEW AND CURRENT! TUNE IN EVERY DAY AT 12:00 TO RECEIVE THE LATEST UPDATES ON YOUR FAVORITES... JUKEBOX, THE SPACE RACE, AND MORE!"

Beneath the sign, crowds were pouring in and out of three rotating doors, revealing brief slips of a thriving lobby.

The TV Station! Michael’s heart fluttered. I can catch up on The Space Race! Yes!

Without a second to spare, he gathered his things and scrambled to his feet.

"Excuse me, excuse me!" He dodged the passersby and ran up to the street. Taking a brief look both ways, Michael ran across it, eliciting a chorus of angry beeps. Still without stopping, he pushed through one of the doors and stumbled into the lobby.

Inside was a world of noise and lights. The entering crowd trailed off in separate directions, attaching itself to various groups that gathered along the walls, watching stacks of flashing televisions, examining racks of newspapers, or displays of the latest radio models. At the center of the room was a tall, round counter, where three clerks jabbered into telephones. At the very back was a row of elevators, and two staircases that spiraled up to the higher floors.

Michael paused to look around with every step he took, eyes widened, wanting to take as much of it in as possible. His gaze lingered on the TV screens, which came in various sizes, and seemed to be positioned at every corner of the room. They were all showing different channels, but over the cloud of noise the programs were indecipherable. He didn’t know which one to go to first.

He searched in earnest for a few moments, before his gaze locked on the biggest group in the entire lobby. It wasn’t gathered around a television, however, but in front of a billboard. Michael couldn’t see what the people were looking at, but as he approached, he caught bits of their conversation:

"... knew this would happen one day..."

"... Rockets are getting us good, that's for sure..."

Michael stopped short. He tried to wheedle his way through, but before he could get to the billboard, his view became blocked by a man’s head.

"Excuse me.” Michael tapped his shoulder. "I can't see."

The man turned around and scowled. "What's there to see? Haven't you been watching the news?"

"Not really," Michael snapped. "That's why I want to see what this is!"

"Have a good look at it then." The man walked off, shoving his hands in the pockets of his jacket.

Michael stepped in to take his space, and the crowd closed in around him. The billboard was covered with newspapers and city announcements, but one issue was positioned in the center, the square page unfurled to its full size. Its heading was bigger than all the others, and its ink shone with pride as it boldly declared:


ROCKETS TELL ALL ABOUT NEW SPACE POKÉMON!

Earlier last month, Hoenn's Team Rocket launched an expedition to the moon. And on May 22nd, pictures were released of a new pokémon said to reside in space. It was first discovered in flight around the planet. The pokémon as been named 'Deoxys' by the scientists and, since its discovery, has undergone intensive testing. The Sinnoh Inquirer now brings you the updates directly from Team Rocket's laboratories at the Mossdeep Space Center.

"It's structure is different from anything we've ever seen before," says a spokesperson for Team Rocket. "We don't know a lot about it yet, but if we can find out then it might hold wonders for us."

Deoxys is equipped with many special adaptations that allow it to survive in the harsh environment of space. Current data has shown that it is capable of living entirely without oxygen, instead getting its energy from outside sources, among them cosmic radiation. Deoxys's unique body structure appears to mimic the mechanics of a spacecraft, enabling it to propel itself and change its course of flight. Where exactly this pokémon originated, and whether indeed space is its primary place of dwelling, are questions that still remain to be answered. More pictures will be released during the course of the next few weeks.


The rest of the page was taken up by articles and commentaries on the same topic, and at the bottom was a black-and-white image of the pokémon. Its body was thin and sleek. One of its arms was missing, and instead, two long wires protruded from its shoulder. Its face was round, and two knobs grew on either side of its head.

Michael reeled forward, pressing his hands to the surface of the billboard. "That's it?"

"Hey, move it kid! We can't see!" said someone from behind.

But Michael was too angry to pay attention. He had missed one week of updates, only to see that Sinnoh was behind. And not only behind, but trampled in the dirt. His heart began to pound.

"It's just a stupid pokémon!" he blurted. "It's not that hard to discover; why didn't Team Galactic do it first?"

"They're lazy, that's why!" said a teenage girl beside him. "I swear if, they make us lose..."

"This sucks," Michael said. He let his hands slip from the paper and stepped back.

All around him, the people wore similar bleak expressions. They had likely known for days. Still, some of them were reading the text, their disappointment burnt out and replaced by a resigned sort of interest. But for Michael, the former was just kicking in.

“I can’t believe this,” said another boy. “The Rockets were always the ones who said that nothing could survive outside the atmosphere. But they made the discovery. If the President said we’d be investigating space, then why are we watching other people do it?”

The girl from before shook her head. “Team Galactic is just full of itself. They’re all secretive and glamorous, but apparently they see it as an excuse to sit there and do nothing. If you ask me, we need a company that can keep its promises.” With that, she walked away, arms crossed. A few other people broke off from the group, and eventually, Michael did the same.

He walked to the exit in a stupor, gaze lowered to the floor.

Freaking dipsticks... all of them.

He barely noticed when he stepped out onto the street, and when the path ahead of him began to slope downwards. But he saw the buildings become sparser and lower, and the roadways veer off into highway exits, gradually separating the cars from the pedestrians. Soon the swarm of billboards returned, this time with mouths turned down and headings that read: 'LEAVING SO SOON?'.

But to Michael, it was all too easy to ignore. His mind was buzzing.

Team Rocket's a bunch of know-it-alls... Team Galactic sucks. Can’t believe I ever rooted for them…

His footsteps were hollow and heavy. As the sounds of the city grew fainter, an iron fence in the distance grew bigger.

Behind it, Route 203 lay in darkness. Michael wondered how comfortable a tree would be. He cringed at the thought, but realized that there was no other choice. Until he found a way to make more money, it would have to do.



//////



There was no guard or gate at the city limit, just a wide, dirt path leading into the wilderness. For a city like Jubilife, such an abrupt exit was both silly and unsettling. But Michael didn’t care to ponder it. He stepped through, passing the route sign, letting the lights and sounds fade for the silence.

His field of vision was covered in splotches from where the lights had been, and it took a while to adjust to the darkness. Now that the sky was no longer blocked by skyscrapers, it suddenly unraveled and rolled off into the infinity, laying out a carpet of stars.

As he walked, Michael stared up at them, lost in thought.

Deoxys is out there somewhere ... and God knows what else.

Stupid Team Rocket... gonna beat Sinnoh...

You're a monster, Michael. Monster...


The trees and shrubs around him formed pockets of shadows, and stood out like ghosts on either side of the path. Michael walked for a few minutes, battling his exhaustion, till it grew so strong that it started to weigh down his limbs. He abandoned all reserve, forgetting that he had never set foot in Route 203 and had no idea what lived there, or how big it even was.

Michael veered from the path and sank into the softest-looking grass he saw, right beside a tree. He lowered the cage and backpack beside him and curled up into a comfortable position. Gradually, the lights and sounds rushed away from his memory, the sea of faces blurred, and the sting of his disappointments faded as sleep overtook him.
 
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Col. Torterra

IV breeder
Good chapter. Seems Michael is on his way to becoming a bit less of a delinquent.
Can you add me to the pm list?
 

Umbreon Ruler

Swim for your life.
Sorry for not reviewing for a while. I won’t do a grammar check (I don’t think I saw anything) to save space.

Chapter 0.3

Not much happening besides a little development between Michael and Patricia’s bond but that’s alright. I genuinely do feel bad for his mother since (it seems) she’s trying very hard to get through to her son and getting nowhere. I was secretly hoping you’d give her the win in the argument just to put a smile on her face. :p And it hurt to read that the bond Michael had broken “would never mend again.” I have no hope for their shared happiness now. XD

Poor Stunky. I’m writing this directly after reading Chapter 3 so I still don’t know exactly where he’s going to end up but he seems to be getting a pretty bad deal so far. And plant fertilizer? I thought Rowan would be smarter than that. :mad:

And oh my. I wonder how that poor three years-trapped Pokémon is doing. And nice touch with the Rocket-Galactic Space Race. I enjoyed that.

Chapter 0.4

I know I said I wouldn’t do grammar checks but this was bothering me and I figured you’d want to know:

"Get back, you cretins!"
I added the comma. Ah, screw it, I found another one. XP

Michael made his way down the street casually, eyeing the rows of houses and trees as he passed them.
Another step in Michael’s journey. It could have been a little longer but I like these non-actiony chapters so I won’t complain. I’m going to make my preference for Patricia’s side official now. I got a sick feeling in my stomach when I imagined her realizing that she’s really all alone now and in a way, it’s all her fault (even though Michael did plenty of wrongs too). I’m afraid she’s going to end up a character that I’m told is evil and gets what she deserves but I always sympathize with anyway.

Really not much to comment on that hasn’t been said already. A good jumping off point, I suppose, but I still wish it would’ve had just a little more.

Chapter 0.5

Haha, I’m afraid I didn’t have Funky Town in my library (that is the song, right? I don’t load videos well with dial-up ;_;) but I always listen to the Gaslight Anthem when I read this fic anyway. They’ve got sort of an old-fashioned sound that I thought went well with the setting.

I’m loving the classic feel you’re giving Jubilife. Michael thinking “swell” was just icing on the cake. :) (Also, “Nice.” seems to be becoming his catch phrase of sorts.)

I’m a little surprised he didn’t ask Cory and Brendan to come along. I’m assuming they have starter Pokémon (at least one of them does) and they don’t seem like the types to be bound to their homes.

Michael’s feeling guilty about his Stunky? Haha, go Fran. I also found it kind of funny that as soon as Michael finishes telling the blonde how he knows the area pretty well he realizes he doesn’t know where a hotel is. XD

The reaction to the Deoxys discovery bothers me a little bit. I mean, this is an alien they’ve found and everyone seems more upset that they were beaten. Plus, those must be some highly intelligent scientists to find out what they did about the creature with the technology (I assume) they had during that time in the Pokémon world.



Sorry if this sounded like rambling. I was writing my thoughts as I read so it’s probably not totally organized or anything. I’m liking this story more and more so kudos on that. Can’t wait for the next chapter. :)

EDIT: I put the comma in the wrong place. I know you said you didn't need it but I felt stupid with the comma where it was. XD
 
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Mrs. Lovett

Rolling writer
Umbreon Ruler! Welcome back.

Not much happening besides a little development between Michael and Patricia’s bond but that’s alright. I genuinely do feel bad for his mother since (it seems) she’s trying very hard to get through to her son and getting nowhere. I was secretly hoping you’d give her the win in the argument just to put a smile on her face. :p And it hurt to read that the bond Michael had broken “would never mend again.” I have no hope for their shared happiness now. XD
Yeah, I did a pretty good job of messing up their relationship... But Patricia's story won't end here, just so you know. There will be more to say about the two of them.

And "Michael made his was down the street casually"? Haha, thanks for pointing that out. I disagree with the comma one, because Michael is supposed to say it all in one breath. But whatever, I guess.

I have to say, I'm glad to have someone on Patricia's side. (As the writer I try to be unbiased, but since I'm writing in Michael's point of view, naturally, he sees himself as the victim.) I'll be getting more on their relationship later in the story, but I think you'll like how it'll turn out.

Yes, Funky Town is the song. I downloaded it just so I wouldn't have to go on Youtube every time I wanted to listen to it. I've never listened to Gaslight Anthem before, but I'll Google it in my free time. Only two or three songs in my library fit the mood of this story, and listening to music helps motivate me.

I also found it kind of funny that as soon as Michael finishes telling the blonde how he knows the area pretty well he realizes he doesn’t know where a hotel is. XD
Yeah, that's one of the pitfalls of flirting :p Very fun to write.

The reaction to the Deoxys discovery bothers me a little bit. I mean, this is an alien they’ve found and everyone seems more upset that they were beaten. Plus, those must be some highly intelligent scientists to find out what they did about the creature with the technology (I assume) they had during that time in the Pokémon world.
I was hoping someone would notice that. The brief explanation would be that some groups of people (like Michael and his friends) watch the Space Race for the sake of competition. They don't really care about the science of it all, just keeping score. I did this on purpose, since this will be a big part of Michael's character development.

As for the technology, science was pretty advanced back then. It's just that most of their stuff wasn't available to the general public. (Like the computer, for example. They did all sorts of things with it, even began to use it to build automobiles, but didn't build the desktop until around 1970.) They even had atomic clocks.

The best part about writing a story like this is researching the time period, the technology, and the way of life in general. I try to implement all these things into the story to make it more realistic.

So, thanks a bunch for the review! See you next chapter.
 

Isosceles

Aspiring Poliwhirl
Wow, life isn't so easy for Michael now, is it?


Just wanted to say I liked the chapter, I've never been good at reviewing >.> Thanks for taking the time to answer my question, too. Yaaaaay.
 

Super_Nerd

Writer of Stuff
I was hoping someone would notice that. The brief explanation would be that some groups of people (like Michael and his friends) watch the Space Race for the sake of competition. They don't really care about the science of it all, just keeping score..
... which really isn't so far-fetched at all.

Thinking back to 'our' space race, I'm pretty sure that if, say, the Soviet Union discovered life on Mars before the U.S. did, lots of people over here would care very little about the discovery in itself--only the fact that we 'lost' and didn't find the little green men first.

Granted, I don't know if Hoenn and Shinnoh have /that/ tense a rivalry, but this is the sort of thing that's keeping the story interesting!
 

Mrs. Lovett

Rolling writer
Isosceles: That's all right. It's enough for me if you just stop by and say hello :)

Super_Nerd: Yeah, that's all too true. Story-wise, I wouldn't say that the countries themselves are at an all out (undeclared) war; it's just that the people are.

Thank you both for reading and commenting!
 

Mrs. Lovett

Rolling writer
A/N: This chapter is personally my favorite. I tried something new with spacing in the beginning to better convey how Michael wakes up. Plus, you get to find out who the other boy in the banner is :)


(P.S. This is where things start getting tricky real-life. Since school's almost started for me, I'm gonna simmer down a bit on the writing. I have a lot of things to get together before I go. I'll still try to post once a week, though I may be inactive. I'll let you know of course if there's going to be a horrendously long delay in a chapter or otherwise.)


0.6


When Michael eased back into consciousness, the first thing he became aware of was a dull throbbing in his leg. He was leaning against something hard and uneven and... yes, he was sure it was making his back ache. Beneath him, the ground felt shifty and lumpy.

Where am I?

A few patches of light separated themselves from the darkness.

Was it all a dream? Am I back in my room?

His mother's angry face appeared before him, suspended in the oblivion. He had started a fight with her. She had said something to him... and then his anger got the better of him and he replied. She had left his room, and she had been so angry, but then again, hurt.

Ha ha.

He started to clean his room. But his backpack was there too; it was telling him to go.

Ha ha.

His room began to blink with color, and suddenly, it transformed into the Jubilife skyline. He had trudged across an entire city in a single night... and now a fresh jolt of pain squeezed his leg to remind him. He had decided to run away, with nothing but a backpack and a cage carried along with him.

The girl. Now her face popped into view, that slight frown and amber eyes. She had looked at the cage, and said that it was too heavy a burden. She had laughed. Probably should be getting back to her cousin now, yes, he drank too much and would need a ride home. Stupid Stunky. Always there to ruin the day.

Ruined his day. Team Rocket had ruined his day. No more Space Race... Deoxys was watching from up above. Laughing at him. Didn't want to sleep outside, but what choice did he have?

Then, a frozen image of the night sky. He had fallen asleep and the image vanished, replaced by a blank backdrop. The reel had ended.

But the laughter continued.

It had started out as a vague peal, but now it was slowly rising out... like something more than a memory.

Slowly and slowly, the patches of light took form, first into a canopy of trees. Tall, high off the ground. A blend of color became shrubbery, wild and overgrown. No one had stopped to maintain this route in months.

Next came the fence. White, picket maybe. It was broken and in some places the paint was chipped off.

A dirt path somewhere ahead, clean, but covered in footprints that previous travelers had left behind. On it stood three figures.

First, a bulky frame which became a boy. He wore a baseball cap, and a burnt cigarette dangled in between his lips. The second, a girl. Not pretty, but confident. Red hair. A nasty look in her eyes. The third, a scrawny boy. Michael couldn't see his face; it was hidden beneath a sunhat.

They were all laughing.


At him.


Michael sat up and opened his eyes all the way.

"Took you long enough, Tree Man!" hooted the boy with the cigarette.

"Did Mommy kick you out of the house or somethin'?" the redhead said, her hands poised on her hips.

"Who are you?" Michael said loudly. He struggled to stand, but his hand slipped on the tree bark and he fell back down. More laughter.

"We were just watching you sleep like a baby." The redhead made a horrible pouty face. "Poor wittle homeless baby has nowhere to go!"

"He's like one of those bums on the street! Wait 'till he grows a beard!" Once again, the pair tossed back their heads in loud, chest-heaving laughter. Somewhere underneath the noise, Michael heard the short boy's soft voice.

"I think he's one of those cave people," he said, hiding his smile behind his palm.

All of a sudden, the laughter stopped. The boy's companions turned to give him a strange look.

"What are you talking about?" the redhead said. "Cave people live in caves. This guy lives by a tree."

"Yeah, he climbs trees like an Aipom! What with those huge hands of his. He probably has a tail too, but he hides it in his pants," Cigarette Boy said. "Well, Tree Man? Do you climb trees or what?"

Michael didn't answer, still not sure what to make of this. He had fallen asleep in an empty route, and had woken up to find three people standing in front of him. People he didn't even know. They were laughing so carelessly, so mercilessly, just like the so-called bullies at his school did. Only now did it occur to Michael how dorky he must have looked, sitting under a tree like he had nowhere else to go. Like he was a wimp.

Heat rushed to his face. No one laughed at him. Not at Michael Rowan.

Cigarette Boy yawned. "I asked you a question, Tree Man. Do I look like someone you wanna mess with?"

"No," Michael said sharply, voicing the first thing that came to mind. "You look more like a Bidoof to me. What, with your buck teeth and your fat ass. You probably think you're just so cool right now, waving it in my face like a flag."

At first, his statement cast off into silence. No one reacted. Then Michael heard a strange squealing sound, and the short boy erupted in giggles. He doubled over, and his knees sank into the leaves. The redhead rolled her eyes.

Cigarette Boy, however, had flushed a deep red. "Well well well! Looks like we've got us a smartass! Hey Tree Man, didn't your mommy ever teach you about respect?"

"Didn't yours ever teach you not to shove your pimply nose into other people's business?" Michael retorted.

The small boy's laughs increased, but this time they were ignored. Both Cigarette Boy and the redhead were looking at Michael now, their fists clenched. Man, he really knew how to turn the tables.

"I've had enough of your cheek," Cigarette Boy said. "We go to this route every day to practice and we've been doin' it for years. We don't like smartasses, but we take 'em down just as easy. Now look me in the eye, Tree Man, and tell me if you wanna be starting something." He crossed his arms, and waited.

Michael looked at him for a few moments, already beginning to map out a plan of action. Cigarette Boy was leaning slightly to the right, and his arms were slightly lopsided. Uneven weight distribution. One hand curled into a fist, and the other hung limp, as if it belonged to someone else. With the right angle, Michael could probably manage to knock him down. Sure the kid had muscles, but Michael had enough experience to know that size did not always mean strength.

Feeling braver than usual, he rose and cracked his knuckles. "Bring it on."

They seemed surprised by this, but Cigarette Boy's sneer held a hint of satisfaction. He stepped forward and the sunlight caught his arm, underscoring the ripples in his muscles. Michael braced himself against the tree, ready to run, ready to kick, ready for anything...




But to his surprise, the boy reached into his pocket and pulled out a pokéball.

"Go!" he said, and a flash of white light illuminated the forest. An Azumarill sprang from the capsule, landing on all fours. Michael was bewildered.

Am I supposed to fight that thing?

He stood there for a few moments, unsure of what to do.

"I'm waiting, Tree Man. Or did all your pokémon run away already?"

A pokémon fight? Michael turned back to his tree. The Stunky was still there, watching curiously through the bars. Its ribcage was showing slightly through its skin. The Azumarill could pin it down in seconds. So the only thing left was... Turtwig.

Michael's heart sank as he went over to his backpack and fingered the pokéball nestled in the pocket. He twisted the knob and watched the Turtwig materialize before him. In the daylight, its blue-green skin seemed even brighter.

On cue, the others began laughing.

"Whoa! What's with its skin?" the redhead exclaimed, her hands pressed to her mouth. "Is it like diseased or something?"

"Doesn't matter," the bulky boy said, crossing his arms. "It's going down! Jaws, use Tackle!"

What am I supposed to do now? Michael thought, resisting the urge to bite his lip.

Several yards away, the Azumarill was preparing for a full-blown attack. It sprinted forward, and a cloud of dirt was raised as it gained speed. Beside him, the Turtwig stood absolutely still.

"Move out of the way!" Michael urged. "Go left! Play chicken! Do something!" The Turtwig turned its head to look at him.

"No! Don't look at me, look at -" But before he could finish his sentence, the Azumarill had collided with the Turtwig, eliciting an audible wham. Their combined momentum left deep skid marks in the dirt. The Azumarill wrestled Turtwig to the ground, where it lay flat on the back of its shell. Its legs moved back and forth, like a dying insect's.

Michael gritted his teeth. "Get up!"

The Turtwig began to rock back and forth, but it remained where it was. Finally, Michael bent down and flipped it over onto its feet. The pokémon shook, but held firm. On the other side of the battlefield, the three teenagers were laughing and jeering. Cigarette Boy pumped his fist in the air.

"Finish it off! Use Water Gun!"

Michael slapped his forehead. I lost. I don't even know what I'm supposed to do, and now I lost to them. He took one last look at his Turtwig. The sprout on its head was bent, making the leaves jut out at awkward angles. As he looked at it, he felt something click in his brain.

Grass! Michael drew himself up. Of course! Water can't hurt plants! It can only help them!

He turned back to the Turtwig, his eyes gleaming. "Use a grass attack! Water Gun can't hurt you, you're based on grass!" Michael felt a little silly saying this to a pokémon, but for some odd reason, he could tell that the Turtwig understood.

It threw its head back a little, far enough so a few leaves dislodged from the sprout. At first, Michael didn't know what it was doing. But then, with a single flick, the leaves were sent tearing through the air like razors. Azumarill didn't even have time to move. The leaves seemed to stick to its body, leaving behind traces of red where they touched. The pokémon gave a single cry, then toppled. A tiny cloud of dust billowed around its body.

Michael was dumbstruck.

"What? NO!" Cigarette Boy snarled. His knuckles were white as he raised the pokéball to the Azumarill's body. After its outline faded away, he looked back up at Michael. "You'll be sorry, punk!"

From behind him, the second boy smiled eagerly. "My turn?" Just as he was about to step forward, the redhead shoved him aside.

"No, Henry. It's mine." She withdrew a pokéball of her own. It was covered in stickers. "I'll teach you some manners. Go Timmy!" A lean orange pokémon emerged from her hands, landing in the spot Azumarill had just vacated. Michael immediately recognized it as a Buizel - one of those annoying companions that the school swimming team practiced with. He had always thought that the yellow sacs around their necks looked like shock collars.

The Buizel's tails flicked back and forth as it steadily lowered itself into a crouch. It looked ready to break into a sprint.

"Again! Do the leaf thing again!" Michael said to the Turtwig. For a minute, he thought he saw it smile. Again the Turtwig threw its head back, and sent another series of leaves rushing towards the Buizel. But before they could make contact, the pokémon disappeared in a blur, letting them pass harmlessly to its side. The blur ran in a zigzag, and collided full-force into the Turtwig. The attack raised a cloud of dirt, making Michael cough. When it cleared, he saw that the two pokémon were still wrangling, rolling over and kicking at each other.

"No!" Michael shouted. "Don't be a wimp! Use your surroundings! Knock it off balance!"

"All right! Timmy, use Hydro Pump!" the redhead shouted, her brow furrowed in determination.

Michael closed his eyes for a moment. Hydro... like water! Water again! He looked over to his Turtwig. It was lying on its side, its body bruised and dirty.

"Get up, get up!" Michael bent down and lifted the pokémon to its feet. He looked it in the eye. "I will not lose this! I don't care if it kills you, tear that Buizel's head from its shoulders!"

The Turtwig narrowed its eyes. "Turtur!" it screeched. It threw its head back again, but in the meantime, Buizel was preparing for an attack of its own. Its mouth was wide open, and some sort of liquid was bubbling in its throat. For a minute, Michael wondered if it was about to vomit. But instead, it lifted its face just as a wide jet of water sprayed out of its mouth, like some sort of fire hose.

The water accumulated, then swept the Turtwig away in a torrent. The stream carried it off somewhere behind the bushes. Michael let out a growl. He spun around on his heel, ready to kick the Buizel down himself, but was immediately surprised to find it twitching on the ground with tiny cuts sprinkled along its body.

What the...?

The redhead seemed equally surprised. The corners of her lips were twitching as she slowly approached her pokémon. She maintained silence as she bent down over by the Buizel and returned it back into its pokéball. Then she went over to Michael, reached into her pocket, and pulled out a thin stack of bills. She slapped the money into his hands.

"Ugh. Whatever. Freak." With that, she stormed off towards the open trail. Cigarette Boy was next. He went over to Michael, withdrew a single dollar, and let it fall to the ground.

"Oops." He turned abruptly and went after the redhead. Michael was left standing alone with a bemused expression, a handful of money, and absolutely no idea what had just happened.

For a minute, it was quiet. A Starly screeched from somewhere overhead.

"Wow..."

The voice nearly made him jump. Michael turned, and saw that the short boy was still there. He had come out from behind a bush, and was looking at Michael with reverence. "I've never seen anyone win against them before. How'd you do it?"

Michael scowled. "You're with them. So beat it, before I kick your ass too!"

The boy shook his head sadly. "They're not really my friends. All they do is take advantage of me. They treat me like dirt."

Michael snorted. I wonder why.

"To tell you the truth," the boy continued, "I'm no good at battling. I always lose. But you're, well... you're amazing."

"Hardly." Michael eyed the bills in his hands. "What's the deal with them giving me money? Did they lose a bet or something?"

The boy eyed him curiously. "What do you mean? That's what all trainers do. It's the code of honor. You lose, you pay money. It's respect."

Michael paused for a moment. "So I can get money for beating people?"

The boy nodded.

A smile spread across Michael's face. "Neat. Well, I gotta go. I'm gonna find my Turtwig and get into some more battles. Later." He turned in the direction of the stream. It was already beginning to dry, but the initial path was still discernable. Turtwig must have landed somewhere in the bushes, if it was even strong enough to hold on.

"Wait." The boy's voice cut him off, just as he took his first step. Michael turned back.

"What?"

"You're going to Oreburgh, right?"

"I don't know. Sure?"

"Can I come with you? I just need to get back to my hotel room." The boy's face reddened. "I don't know a lot of people here and I, well, I don't want to hang around Chester and Veronica anymore. So, if it's okay with you, I mean... the town's really big, and I'm afraid I'll get lost."

Michael stopped for a moment, wondering if he was actually serious. This kid was the furthest thing from cool that he had ever seen. He was almost positive that after only a single day at his school, that boy would be running home in tears. He was probably a kiss up in class, bringing apples to the teachers and actually appreciating them. His mother probably bought him those cargo shorts, saying that they looked 'absolutely precious' on him. His hat made him look like a tour guide, or some sort of zookeeper.

Michael was seconds away from saying all of this, but reason stopped him. It would only be for a few hours. Plus, his arm was tired from carrying the Stunky around.

"Fine," he said. "But you're holding this." Michael went over to the cage and handed it to the boy, who smiled gratefully.

"Thanks! I'm Henry, by the way." He hoisted the cage on his arm like a handbag.

"Michael."

Henry peered inside the cage, tapping it with his finger. The Stunky shrank back. "Where did you get this guy anyway?"

"I caught it, obviously."

"Like... with a pokéball?"

"No, with my hands."

Henry's eyes widened. "Coooool."

Michael turned to face the stream. "I have to find my Turtwig."

"Is that it right there?" Henry pointed. Sure enough, behind a nearby bush, Michael's Turtwig lay in a heap, its front legs gripping a loose branch. Its tongue was hanging out from between its lips and its eyes were closed.

Michael scowled as he approached it. "Come on, get up!" he said. "You can't battle if you're lying around. Lazy." The Turtwig did not move. Michael nudged it with his foot, but it gave no response. He exhaled sharply. "What's with you? Are you dead or something?"

Henry squatted beside the Turtwig. "It's probably just tired. You have to give it a few days to rest."

Michael groaned.

"But," Henry lifted a finger. "There is a faster way."

"And that would be?"

"Just take it to a Pokémon Center."

"A what now?"

"A Pokémon Center. It's like a mini hospital for pokémon. They put your pokéball inside this special heating chamber, and the therapy supposedly makes your pokémon recover from anything."

Michael nodded. "Okay. Where do we find one of those?"

"There's one in Oreburgh City. It's not too far away from here. And -" Henry leaned in closer. "- they have a Gym!"

Judging by his tone, Michael guessed he was supposed to be excited by this. But all he could manage was a blank look. "What's that?"

Henry's mouth gaped, as if it were the dumbest question in the world. He fought for words for a moment, then finally managed to say, "You're not a trainer, are you?"

Michael froze. "No," he said firmly. "And if you have a problem with that, you can leave."

"So... you're pretending to be a trainer when you're actually not?" Henry's expression was neutral. Michael braced himself.

"What if I am?" he snapped. "Do you want to tell me what's right and what's wrong?"

"No... it's just really... cool. How you don't care or anything." Henry fumbled for words. "I won't tell anyone," he added quickly.

"Whatever."

Henry's face fell. "Well, this stinks. Even non-trainers are better battlers than I am."

"No one sucks that bad, kid."

"Well, I do. I really do. I mean, pokémon won't listen to me, and they're all really slow for some reason..."

"Good luck with that," Michael said. "So how far is Oreburgh?"

"About three miles."

"Then you can lead me there. After that, I'll leave you alone, and you can go back to your hotel room."

"Okay."

"Cool. Let's go." Michael gathered his things and started forward.

For the first time in his life, he heard a beat of footsteps behind him.



//////



He and Henry walked through the remainder of Route 203, neither of them saying much along the way. Through it all, Michael was absorbed in visions of money.

If I could beat everyone in town... I could become the most powerful battler in the world! I'd be rich!

Henry, on the other hand, seemed more interested in the route itself. His eyes never left the tree canopies, and his mouth formed an 'O' whenever he saw a brightly-colored pokémon flick between the branches.

"I wonder how many kinds of pokémon there are..." he said at some point, eyes sparkling.

Michael didn't reply, however. He was too busy mentally constructing the pool in his future home.

When they finally decided to stop and rest, the sun was high overhead and leaves were drooping from the heat. They chose a shady spot underneath an oak tree, where they sat watching the clouds. Michael reached into his backpack and zipped open his snack compartment. He withdrew a chocolate bar and began chewing with closed eyes, savoring the flavor.

"Do you have anything else to eat?"

Michael opened his eyes. Henry was eyeing the bar enviously.

"Uh, do you want some?" He broke off a piece and offered it to him.

Henry shrugged. "I can't. Mom says chocolate's bad for your stomach if you eat it too much."

Michael frowned. "Is your mother here now?"

"No."

"Then take it. Don't be a wimp, she's not gonna come out from behind a tree and spank you." He held up the piece again. Henry laughed a bit, but still didn't take it. "Whatever," Michael popped it into his own mouth.

He threw the remaining wrapper into a separate pocket. Then he took out his notebook and opened it up to a clean page.

Dear Cory and/or Brendan,
Sorry I didn't give you guys any sign that I was running away. It was kind of a last-minute decision. I just want you to know that I'm fine, and I'm about to go to Oreburgh City.


Michael frowned, then scribbled over his lines. What if his mother or someone else got to the letter first? He started again.

To whom it may concern,
DO NOT READ THIS LETTER! FOR MY FRIENDS' EYES ONLY!


Michael crossed it out again, then slumped back against the tree. It would be impossible to write a letter without the possibility of interception. He stopped to think for a minute, when he realized that Henry was peering over his shoulder.

"What'cha writing?" he asked.

Michael shook his head. "Nothing." He tore off the page and threw it into his backpack. He could always start again when Henry wasn't looking.

"Okay." Henry reached into his own tote bag and pulled out a small canister. "Pokémon food," he said to Michael. "Here, I'll give some to your Stunky. It looks awfully hungry." Henry sprinkled some of the contents into the cage, and the Stunky squealed gratefully.

Henry giggled. "You should really let this Stunky out of its cage. It looks like it could be a lot of fun to play with."

"It'll run away," Michael said.

For a minute, he absently watched the Stunky eat. It was eyeing Henry gratefully, and prancing around in circles. Michael's pencil dropped back down onto the paper and began to sketch the spiky outline of its fur. As the pokémon turned, Michael observed the curvature of its cheeks and the shape of its eyes. He did some shading, and added a grassy background. He was no artist, but the final result left him satisfied. He gazed down at it for a few moments, and ended up adding a sun and some clouds.

"Can I ask you something?" Henry said after a while. Michael looked up, and saw that Henry was watching him draw.

"What?"

"Why is your Turtwig differently colored than normal?" Henry pulled on a blade of grass. "Sorry if it's a personal question or something, but I was just curious."

Michael didn't answer. His gaze returned to the paper, and he doodled a quick tree in the landscape.

"It's not the first time I've seen it," Henry said softly.

At this, Michael looked up. "You've seen it before?"

Henry nodded. "My friend had a Zubat that was green. She took it to a bunch of specialists to have it checked out, but they didn't know what was wrong with it. They ran all these tests and drew all kinds of graphs. They wouldn't give it back to her, though, even after she asked. And there were no more like it, so she couldn't get another one."

"That's weird..." Michael said. "Did it ever change color or anything?'

Henry shook his head. "Nope. I was wondering if you knew about it, since you have one of those weird ones."

Michael slapped the page with his palm. "It's stupid how no one knows about any of this. When I asked that Emerson dude about my Turtwig, he just kicked us out. And he's supposed to be the authority on pokémon."

"Wow, that was really mean of him to do that."

"He's probably just too lazy to do his homework. I bet that the answer is sitting right there in one of his books, but he can't be bothered to look because he's too busy trying to quit smoking." Michael spat, and shoved his notebook back into his backpack. "Anyway, I'm not just gonna sit here all day. You ready to go?"

"All right." Henry stood, and began to gather his things.

Michael urged his heavy limbs to move back onto the path. Up ahead, he could see the beginnings of a strange rock formation. Branches obscured his view, but he was fairly certain that there was a sign hanging over it.

"There's Oreburgh Gate," Henry explained. "It's the only public entrance to the city."

Beyond that, Michael could see the hazy outline of the Coronet mountain range. Its jagged pattern stretched across the horizon, from the region's southern shores to its snowy northern valleys. The sun rested atop a blunt peak, illuminating the land on the other side. He exhaled slowly. For the first time, the world seemed like such a big place.

"Well, we're not gonna get there by just looking at it," Michael said after a while. "Let's go." Michael started forward. From behind, he heard the beat of Henry's footsteps as he rushed to keep up.

The Oreburgh Gate didn't have any doors. Its floor wasn't paved, and flickering ceiling lamps served as the lighting. The air inside was hot and thin. There were a few people here as well, cooing to wailing children and using pay phones. The lamps casted unnatural shadows on their faces, making them look demented.

"My gosh, it's like a cave in here," Michael shuddered.

Henry let out a dry cough. "Yeah. I hope the city isn't this bad."

It wasn't. The first thing Michael noticed when they stepped out into the light was how brown everything was. The roads, the buildings, and even people's clothes had that same dusty shade. Unlike Jubilife, there were no flashing lights or advertisements to be seen. The closest thing to technology was the complex system of pulleys that circulated the town, transporting rocks of various sizes. Michael's eyes traced the maze and quickly found its starting point - a large opening in the ground on the far side of the city. Like Jubilife, it was buzzing with activity. But this town was like a tiny ant colony - small, but hardworking. Everyone here seemed like family, instead of just a bunch of strangers gathered in one spot.

"I always liked this place," Henry finally said, inhaling.

"So where's the Pokémon Center?"

"It's a bit further in. I'll show you."

Henry led him in a winding path, crossing intersections and sharply rounding corners. During a span of five minutes, Michael went through at least seven different visualizations of what the building might look like. Would there be a line? Would it cost him money? Would it be like one of those fancy clubs that never let anybody inside?

Just when Michael thought his head would explode, Henry stopped and pointed. "Look!"

In front of them was an ordinary-looking building, with shining windows and a bright red roof. A pokéball was painted on its door, but apart from that, it was nothing special.

On the inside, Pokémon Center resembled a laundromat. The walls and floor were white, and were lined with strange machines. Michael watched as a woman placed three pokéballs onto a metal tray and closed the lid. Her machine glowed red for about a minute, then she withdrew the pokéballs and put them back into her purse.

"Here, I'll show you how to use it." Henry pulled him over to an unoccupied machine and repeated the process. It hummed, displaying a constant temperature of 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Minutes later, Turtwig's pokéball came back out. It felt warm in Michael's hands.

"That's it?"

Henry smiled. "Yup. Turtwig's as good as new."

Michael found it hard to believe that, but decided to take Henry's word for it. "Well, okay. Thanks, I guess." There was a pause. Henry began to rock back and forth, eyes drifting towards the ceiling.

"So... are there any good places to battle, or is everything just lumped together here?" Michael asked.

Henry clicked his tongue. "Well, there's a park at the center of town. I can show you that too. A lot of trainers come there to practice, but..."

"But what?"

"The people there are really mean." Henry looked down at his shoes. "They... they like to make fun of people, let's just say."

Michael let out a groan. What was this kid, six? "I think I'll be fine."

Henry shook his head. "No it's not a good idea! Trust me. They'll pick on you, just like Chester and Veronica did."

Michael laughed. "You actually think I was afraid of your little dweeb friends? Let me clue you in on something. I was the coolest guy in my school. No one picked on me, because they all respected me. So I'm the last person you should be worrying about when it comes to those sissies."

"But those kids are all bad!" Henry persisted. "They smoke and stuff!"

"Just because someone smokes doesn't mean they're bad. My brother... he smoked, and he was the best person I ever knew." He looked at Henry again. "So are you gonna take me there, or am I gonna have to find my own way?"

"Well... okay. But we can't stay long, okay?" Henry pleaded. Michael rolled his eyes.

"Yeah sure whatever. Let's go."

They left the Pokémon Center. Henry led him through several more streets, until they came across a large square clearing. The entire city ran around it, branching off into a bunch of little dirt paths that led to the park. Some kids were here already, sitting on benches and under trees. And although he searched, Michael saw only one boy who was smoking.

"Well, here we are!" Henry said. "Who do you want to battle first?"

Michael took a look around. He saw one girl sitting on a swing set stroking a Piplup, and a boy by the fence playing with his Machop. Neither of them looked like they could take a hit, much less pay a good amount. He walked past them. The other kids either didn't have pokémon with them, or turned away when he approached.

Michael continued through the park, and stopped when he reached a tall white fence. A group of five boys was leaning against it, talking slowly and casually.

"They look like a good group," Michael said. "What if I beat them five to one? How cool would that be?"

Henry, however, was shaking. "Oh no..." He reached up to bite his nail.

"What?"

"You see those boys over there?" He pointed to the group. Someone had told a joke, and now they were all laughing heartily. Michael instantly thought of his friends, and felt a pang of guilt.

"They're the ones who make fun of me," Henry said, keeping his voice low.

"And what am I supposed to do about it? You have to stick up for yourself."

"Yeah, but -"

"Yo, it's Henry!"

Michael looked up. One of the boys had noticed them, and was slowly coming their way. The gang trailed behind in a semicircle of grins. Henry seemed to shrink in their presence.

"So who's your friend?" said the first boy. He looked over to Michael, giving him a quick once-over. Michael did the same. He noticed that the kid was wearing a Team Galactic shirt.

"You got a name?"

"Michael. Michael Rowan," he said simply, hands in his pockets. The boy nodded.

"What you doing hanging around a wimp like him for?" He jerked his thumb in Henry's direction.

"He's showing me around town." Michael nodded towards his shirt. "Been watching the Space Race lately?"

The boy grinned. "Yeah. Team Galactic is boss, man."

"Did you see those shots of Deoxys?"

"Yeah yeah, nothing special. If you ask me, the Rockets are just desperate for an excuse to beat us."

"Agreed," Michael said. "It's pathetic, really."

"Yeah and for all we know, they could've faked it. Why, we could take a picture of Henry's face and say it's an alien species."

Michael began to laugh.

"What do you want from us, Mack?" Henry finally said.

The boy turned back to Henry, his smile fading. "Not feeling too brave without those friends of yours covering your ass, are you? Is that why you brought Michael along? Think you can scare us away?" The rest of the gang began to chuckle.

"It's... it's not like that..." Henry looked down again, and began drawing circles in the dirt.

"You need to learn respect, little punk. Don't think I'll forget what you tried to do to us."

When Henry lifted his face again, his cheeks were red. "Let's leave, Michael."

"Mike can do whatever he wants, right? He's a cool head."

Henry tapped Michael on the shoulder. "Come on, let's go!"

"Hey, why don't you leave the kid alone and let him do what he wants?" The boy turned again to Michael. "You can hang out here if you want, Michael. You can help us maintain order in the park. Too many wimps like him, if you ask me. How about it?" The boy extended a hand. His arm was covered in dirt, leaves, and bruises.

But before Michael could reply, he felt something jerk his arm forward. All at once, the gang groaned. It took a few seconds to realize what was happening. Henry had grabbed him by the arm and was stomping down the path, like a mother would do to her child. Michael felt his face redden as he struggled to pry his fingers off.

"Shit! Henry, let go! What the hell are you doing?"

"Those kids are mean, and I don't want to be around them."

"So?" Michael looked back over his shoulder. The gang was shouting something over to them, but he couldn't hear what it was. They were already nearing the exit. "Man, why do you have to be such a -"

"Wimp? Dweeb? Nerd?" Henry sighed and dropped his hand. "Everyone's so mean to me here!" His voice cracked, and his eyes filled with tears. Pretty soon, they were spilling down his cheeks.

Michael gritted his teeth. "Stop crying. It's embarrassing."

"I don't care!" he shouted, voice hoarse. "I'm sick of everyone treating me like this! It's not fair! Everyone does it! It's everywhere I go, and I don't know why!" He was seconds away from stomping his foot, but before he could, Michael grabbed his shoulders.

"Listen to me, people are only gonna laugh harder when they see you cry! So shut up!" Michael shook him a little, and Henry quieted down.

"I'm sorry!" He sniffed and wiped his eyes. "Those kids just annoy me so much! They're the reason I hate coming here."

"Fine. Is there another place I can go to battle without having you scream in my face?"

"T-the Gym, but..."

"Now what?"

"I'm not good for that either!"

"Hang on, hang on. What is a Gym, exactly? Tell me."

Henry sniffed again. "Not... not a lot of trainers want to do it. It's for the topest of the top. They say it's hard like crazy."

"Do they give money?"

"Yeah..."

"Then let's check it out."

"Wait, I don't want to go there either," Henry said.

"Ugh. Why not?"

"Because I always lose!" A fresh stream of tears fell from his eyes. "I'm not good at anything!"

Michael sighed. "Give it another shot, okay? We'll go together."

"No! I won't!"

"You're acting like a little kid."

"But I know I'll lose!"

"Then you'll really lose! But if you're certain that you're gonna win, then you'll win."

"But it doesn't work like that for me! You don't know what it's like to have every single person you talk to laugh at you! You don't know what it's like!"

"Oh God, I am so sick of your sob stories! You're so damn soft!" Michael gave him a sharp punch in the shoulder. Henry staggered back, wincing with pain. "There's always gonna be some kid out there who has it worse than you do. But that kid isn't crying about it. He's fighting the world and making something out of himself. I'm giving you a choice. Today. Are you gonna be a closet wimp, or are you gonna do your own thinking?"

Henry pondered this for a moment, wiping his nose of his sleeve. "Okay... Fine."

"Good."

Henry looked up at Michael with watery eyes, and smiled. "Thanks for that."

"For what?"

"For calming me down. You're a good friend."

This caught Michael off guard. He stepped back a little, and looked at Henry curiously. "Okay. Uh... thanks."

They left the park in silence. Michael's mind was churning. First his teacher had put him down. Then his mother had left him, dropping off the face of the Earth. Then a bookstore clerk had called him a monster. Then a pair of kids had laughed at him for sleeping under a tree.

Then out of the blue came Henry, the kid who wore a sunhat, almost a foot shorter than him, the epitome of middle-school nerdiness, and the first kid who had ever called Michael Rowan a good friend.
 
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~Platinum~

<- Caught it!
A very interesting story and a very original idea! I'm liking this story very much so far! Keep up all the great work!

You've done a great job with character developement, thrown in some interesting twists, and added a good amount of humor considering how serious the story can get at some points. :D

Chapter 6 was very entertaining, I can see why it's your favorite! As for errors, I could only spot one:

"There's one in Oreburgh Town. It's not too far away from here. And -" Henry leaned in closer. "- they have a Gym!"
Dear Cory and/or Brendan,
Sorry I didn't give you guys any sign that I was running away. It was kind of a last-minute decision. I just want you to know that I'm fine, and I'm about to go to Oreburgh City.
At one point, you refer to Oreburgh City as Oreburgh Town, and then later call it Oreburgh City.

Anyways, it's a great story! Would you mind adding me to the PM List?
 

Umbreon Ruler

Swim for your life.
On the other side of the battlefield, the three teenagers were laughing and jeering.
Alright, one problem I have with the battle: Michael is too good. You said that the three trainers “practiced” every day, which I assume means they train, yet Michael beats them with very little difficulty. Not to mention the fact that Azumarill is an evolved Pokémon. I dunno, it just seems like battling comes a little too easy to him (which could be a part of his character for all I know, but I think the point still stands). However, the discovery of a cash payout was a good way to get Michael motivated to actually participate in training and battling. XD

Henry should make an interesting (temporary?) traveling partner. His wide-eyed nature is a good contrast to Michael’s greedy, cynical attitude. And since I’m assuming that Michael has never had a “friend” quite like Henry, it could also lead to some interesting changes in both of them.

Paha, I thought the park would be a good chance for Michael to defend Henry but instead it seems he was about to make new friends. :p Although the “good friend” comment was nice. If they stay together, they could definitely help each other out (in completely different ways, of course).

A lot happened in this chapter but it seemed to flow well so good work on that. I'm wondering if Michael's drawing might be foreshadowing something but (based on Professor Rowan's Bulbapedia article) I can't imagine what. Maybe it was just a one time occurrence. *shrugs* And I couldn't help but think that maybe Stunky will be given to Henry (we still don't know what Pokémon he has, I guess).

I believe that's all. Good chapter. :)
 

PsychicChampion

Well-Known Member
Very intruging, good job.
 

Mrs. Lovett

Rolling writer
All right, time to answer some reviews!

~Platinum~: I can't remember for the life of me if Oreburgh was a town or a city... (Thank goodness for the D/P Game Strategy Guide and Google!) I'm pretty sure it's a city, so I'll just refer to it as that from now on. PM list updated!

Umbreon Ruler:

Alright, one problem I have with the battle: Michael is too good. You said that the three trainers “practiced” every day, which I assume means they train, yet Michael beats them with very little difficulty. Not to mention the fact that Azumarill is an evolved Pokémon. I dunno, it just seems like battling comes a little too easy to him (which could be a part of his character for all I know, but I think the point still stands).
I guess I should clear this up a little, but I won't do it too much since the answers will come with the story: Michael uses type advantages to win, whereas trainers of that time don't fully understand them yet. Kind of like the thing with the shinies. There's just so much that still has to be discovered. I get your point, though. Michael will lose his fair share, but I have to carefully time both outcomes.

Yeah, Henry's the reason I love this chapter. There isn't another person more unlike Michael, and here they are now traveling together. Henry will be sticking around for a while. He'll be an important character later on. As for the drawing, I try to go by the Bulbapedia article and all the confirmed info on Rowan. So yes, he'll be interested in evolution, but I'll develop it in my way. The drawing won't directly influence that, but it'll influence something else. I'll let you use your imagination until I actually explain it :p

Thanks for the review!

Psychic Champion: Thanks for reading! Glad you liked it.



See you next chapter.
 

Noheart

The Abysswalker
Ohoho, so now Michael's gonna be battling for money huh? Niice.

I can why this was your favorite chapter, Mrs. Lovett. Really good work, each one of your chapters sucks me in right away. ;)

Be seeing you next week :)
 
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