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Shooting the Breeze (one-shot)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Ysavvryl, Jan 1, 2015.

  1. Ysavvryl

    Ysavvryl Pokedex Researcher

    Written for The Teller in the Yuletide Fic Exchange. Rate PG-13 for some potentially suggestive dialogue, although there's no shipping here. Other comments spoilered below.

    Shooting the Breeze

    As Giratina sees... there is a world where a young Trainer went to Sunyshore Gym after defeating Maylene at Veilstone Gym. Volkner wasn't one who knew how to hold back and the young Trainer grew discouraged after several resounding defeats. However, the Trainer had been on a path to stop Team Galactic from their plan to create a world without spirit. When the Trainer decided to give up at Sunyshore, the world ended. That could not be.

    Instead, this is what happened.

    “AAAARRRRGGGHHHH!!!” A flicker of electricity preceded the aggravated scream; a crashing clamor of metal on a concrete floor followed it. A few small children playing near the gym in Sunyshore noticed these signs from the basement window. Curious, they peered down into the window only to be met with a serpent of brown smoke coming through the screen. This did not seem to be good, so they hurried away to play somewhere else.

    Down in the basement, an Electivire tugged at the leader's shirt and pointed out the small fire that had been sparked in this latest attempt. Volkner bit his tongue on a curse and ran to grab one of the fire extinguishers. Making sure the symbols indicated it was the one for electrical fires, he blasted the burning wires in order to make sure it didn't last. This seemed like it should work perfectly in his head, but problem after problem kept cropping up. Maybe he needed higher grade wires.

    “What have I got wrong, Tron?” Volkner asked, setting the extinguisher down once there seemed to be no more fire.

    The Electivire gave a worried buzz, tugging at his hand in a way that usually indicated he wanted to go outside for a walk. Volkner took a deep breath, not wanting to give up on this quite yet. But then he coughed at the mixture of smoke, melted wires, and extinguisher spray. Maybe going out for some fresh air and allowing the basement to clear up would help.

    “All right, let's take a break,” he said, going to pick up the metal wrench to put back before he left. And open up the rest of the windows; this place needed some good circulation now.

    Elsewhere, someone gave a sigh of dissatisfaction. Cyrus paused in his work, mentally reviewing himself to find out why he'd sighed like that. There really wasn't a reason to be unsatisfied with progress. All encountered problems had been expected and planned for months ago. While there were many things to be accomplished yet, there was little actual work from him at this point. He had to wait on the plans he'd sown to bear fruit. Everything was coming together smoothly.

    A little too smoothly. This stage was far too easy. When he had been planning and preparing his grand work, he expected to encounter problems along the way that he would have to solve. He had even gathered a notebook of what might happen and what he could do to counter it. Cyrus had been looking forward to putting that notebook to use. Or even being forced to come up with a novel solution to a problem he had not anticipated. That kind of puzzle solving made him feel alive. But, there was no puzzle. There were no problems.

    Perhaps he could make a problem. He nearly discounted the idea right off, as there were too many ways that could become counterproductive. However, his mind was just restless enough that Cyrus felt it worth considering. He made sure things would be okay and then left the Veilstone headquarters in order to take a walk. That was one of the best ways to think.

    In the meadow outside of a tourist resort, Volkner and his Electivire Tron came to a stop while the former was mentally reviewing the plans for the gym renovation. “Okay, I will need better wires in that area,” he said aloud, crossing his arms over his chest. “What’s there should be sufficient for day to day usage, but for the initial start-up as well as any heavy traffic days, it will need to provide a heavier energy flow.”

    “Hmm hmm,” Tron echoed, crossing his striped arms over his chest and lowering his head once his Trainer did so while thinking.

    “Once I get to the point where I can add the challenge units, they'll have their own power supply but it wouldn't hurt to think of how to recharge them regularly,” Volkner said. “Oh, but then the others are going to be bothering me again about moderating the gym's challenge level based on the challenger's badge level. But what's the point of that?” He threw his arms out and paced around in annoyance.

    “Gzzrah?” Tron echoed, doing the same out of playfulness.

    Volkner hardly noticed because he was caught up in his thoughts. “Right, it's not a real challenge to the people coming to you if you're purposely fighting below your true potential. It's bad enough that they've got team size limits on us lower than six when the challengers can have up to the max limit. But even with that, there's absolutely no challenge in it for us! It's all easy wins unless the challenger is using some gimmicky boring team that make me want to yawn. There's no thrill in it anymore.”

    The Electivire turned to make sure he could see in spite of the pacing, then threw his arms up and shook his head as Volkneer did so. Then he put his hands on his hips and sighed, although Tron added a swish of the tail. This game was always fun.

    “It's nothing like those days when we were fighting our way to the top tooth and nail for respect and recognition,” Volkner said, then realized something. He slapped his forehead. “Geez, I must sound crazy. I loved the days when we were losing and barely winning, and hate these days when we're winning and barely losing. We lost something in settling for the gym. Maybe we should go ahead and automate it so we can move on to more challenging grounds.” He put his hand on his chin and looked over at Tron.

    Of course, he was doing the same. Volkner raised an eyebrow at the sight, getting a mirrored expression on the face of his Electivire. He frowned and Tron did the same. This lead to a smirk and putting his hands back on his hips, leaning forward. While mirroring him, Tron purred and curled his tail in delight. Volkner couldn't do that. But he could put his hands on his ears and waggle them, then pull his lips apart in a goofy grin and stick his tongue out with crossed eyes. When the Electivire did the same, he couldn't help but laugh, then go over and hug his Pokemon. Tron took it one step further and bowled him over with a hug, leading them to wrestle for a couple minutes on the ground until the Pokemon pinned Volkner on his back.

    “Okay, okay, I surrender to your mastery,” Volkner said, then burst into laughter as Tron seemed happy with that. But then the bright Pokemon looked over at someone approaching, letting him go and sitting up to examine this person curiously. Remaining on the ground, Volkner saw a man in a uniform that wouldn't have looked out of place on the set of a cheesy science fiction movie.

    Cyrus had come across the scene when the pair had started wrestling. At first, he had wondered if this was some random mauling of an idiot by a sick Pokemon, but then it became apparent that it was a worthless waste of energy in playing. There was no point to that kind of activity, although a dangerous edge in making the Pokemon think it was okay to randomly wrestle humans. Looking down at the man who seemed rather like a sloppily dressed college undergrad, Cyrus couldn't help but comment, “Have you no shame in such a ridiculous display in public?”

    Volkner thought for a moment, then his eyes sparkled. “None whatsoever,” he replied, not even bothering to sit up yet. He did grab Tron's paw. “This fellow is my best buddy in man or beast. If he wants to play, we'll play.”

    Showing understanding, the Electivire purred and sparked a bit at the tail to agree. This kind of thing was mystifying to Cyrus. Many of his observations showed that Pokemon were nowhere near humankind in mind or development. They only understood simple orders and acted on simple instincts. But every now and then, there was this kind of moment that was outside of his understanding. What did it take to get that kind of bond with a Pokemon? Or with any other being? That was a worthless tangent to go down, so Cyrus dismissed it and just shook his head.

    Volkner sat up and turned around to face the stranger. “Aw, I’m sure you know that in training Pokemon. You want a battle? I'll be more than you're expecting, I’m sure.”

    Cyrus frowned. “No. Asking to have a Pokemon battle with someone you've just met is a completely barbaric practice that really should be discarded.”

    Hearing that, Volkner felt that this guy was far too serious for his own good. Then again, serious people were fun to tease and he could use that kind of entertainment. “It’s not like we're a society full of crazies who are overjoyed with a win or loss just as long as there's a fight,” he said. “Although I can see where people might think that.”

    “That’s just one of the many symptoms this perverse world is displaying,” Cyrus said, crossing his arms over his chest.

    Tron immediately did the same, even mimicking the really sour serious look on the stranger's face. Volkner grinned. “Well if you don't like it, why don't you just make your own world with your own rules?”

    “Don’t think I haven't considered it,” he said, neglecting to mention that he'd more than just considered it.

    “Or go along and enjoy the ride,” Volkner said, petting Tron. “Although sometimes even that gets boring when you get to the point where you can tell in three seconds if you'll win or lose a fight.”

    “I doubt anyone could do that without being fatalistic,” Cyrus said, wondering why he was continuing this conversation. Still, he was looking for a way to distract himself and this was rather distracting.

    He finally got up off the ground and dusted off his black pants. “Nah, it's common when you get good. And I’m good enough to be the gym leader in the next town over.”

    Cyrus raised an eyebrow. “Really?”

    “Really,” he said, offering to shake his hand. “I'm Volkner, from Sunyshore.”

    He looked at him skeptically for a moment, then took the handshake as if it was something he had to think about doing. “Cyrus. From Veilstone, although I’ve been in Sunyshore before.”

    That was good, a point to start from. “Really? How long's it been since you've been there? Because it's changed a lot in the past few years, mostly due to me getting bored.” He laughed.

    “Been some time,” he said, willing himself not to think of those childhood days. It was a small relief to know that it wouldn't be the same place. “I read an article about them getting a solar panel array that functioned as walkways in spite of how the solar panels should be too warm for such use.”

    “Yeah, that's my doing!” Volkner said, proud of it. “We were relying on Veilstone's power plant, but between the distance and the rough shoreline, it wasn't always reliable. Now we're putting out enough power to support this resort here as well. Sometimes I consider doing more work on it so that we can supply power to the entire eastern half of Sinnoh.”

    “Yes, but how do you make it comfortable to walk on but not so much that it freezes over in winter?” Cyrus asked, a problem that had perplexed and annoyed him as the article was written for laymen.

    Feeling excited to explain, Volkner waved him towards Sunyshore. “Well you really should see for yourself if you're curious. Easier to explain that way. But heat is simply a form of energy, so all I had to do was find a way to capture it within the panel array and convert it into further electrical power.”

    Cyrus hadn't wanted to go far from Veilstone in case he was needed back at headquarters, but the lure of an engineering solution was too much for him to resist. He walked over to Sunyshore with the gym leader and his Pokemon, talking the whole way about ways to generate power and transform it into a usable form. While he had to restrain himself on revealing the scientific principles that made his big plans work, he was able to learn some interesting things and teach some to Volkner.

    They spent a good hour looking over the solar walkways and the machinery that managed the energy distribution. Naturally, talking about the walkways and power led Volkner to mention his gym renovation and the problems he was having in making them work. Cyrus was amazed, partly at his genius and partly at his idiocy, that he'd not drawn up the plans at all. They ended up back in the basement of the gym to look over the problems and see what could be done to address them. While it still smelled a bit of melted wire down here, neither of them cared about that.

    “The whole thing is based on clockwork puzzles,” Volkner said, indicating the giant metal gears overhead. “They work fine enough on small scale, but the energy required to work on this large scale is problematic even on Sunyshore's generators. So I thought, why not add in an extra generator for the town in here to help support it? Some of the gears will always be moving, mostly the decorative ones in the walls. Then there's powering the electrical barriers on the doorways, which stay until the challenger correctly aligns the gears and completes the room challenge to remove them. The generator in here will work with the ocean waves, but it needs to pull energy from the solar array to start up and support heavy activity in here. But if the gym is quiet, this generator will be able to add power to the solar array, so it's a give and take that should remain even overall.”

    “It sounds good, but the practicality of such an arrangement remains to be seen,” Cyrus said, ideas about this arrangement already running through his analytical mind.

    “It will work!” he insisted, getting an echo of support from Tron. “Besides replacing the wires here that burned earlier today, I’m having some issues with the clockwork puzzle in trying to link them all up to the generator while making sure all of the rooms will operate independently. We don't want someone moving gears in the first room to be affecting the gears in the second room.”

    “True, but what of the trainers in each room giving battles to the challengers?” Cyrus asked. He knew from experience that a plan could be completely undone if the human element involved balked at the rest.

    “They’re used to madcap plots from me, as the older ones say,” Volkner said, not concerned about that. “Besides, they'll be on stationary platform of suitable size for Pokemon battles. It's totally safe. And I want to eventually automate the whole gym in time. There've been robots built that can provide a suitable challenge to Pokemon, so I just need to adapt some to function as replacements for electric Pokemon.”

    That intrigued Cyrus. “Completely remove the human and Pokemon elements? That would make this gym very efficient.”

    “Except in terms of power,” Volkner said, still puzzling over his arrangement of generators and gears. “Once I do that, Tron and I will be free to go find something bigger to challenge ourselves with. We're really stuck in a rut here. People already respect us as the most challenging gym, but that just isn't enough. We could rise up a lot higher out on the road again, but I don't want to leave Sunyshore without a prestigious gym.”

    “But you need the stage set first,” Cyrus said, looking back over the generator. A spark ignited in him at the prospect of this new puzzle. It had nothing to do whatsoever with his big plans and would eventually end up negated. Still, his mind was racing and a thrill he loved to chase had come back to him. “How exactly should the gear puzzles work out?”

    On finding someone as enthusiastic about the idea as he was, Volkner's mood brightened greatly and he started explaining how the solutions should be reached. It wasn't long before the two of them started working together, replacing the burnt wires and resetting the gear arrangements. Volkner had to shoo off some challengers saying that they were too busy renovating and Cyrus eventually shut off his cell phone rather than continue to ignore the calls and messages. In that, the whole system came together more smoothly and they even found some adjustments to the wave-driven generator so that it would work more efficiently.

    It was late at night by the time the two of them were done and ready to test the system. Tron had gone to take a nap, but was now awake and bouncing around at the eagerness the two humans showed in getting this renovation done. Cyrus even found himself smiling as he mentally could see how the gears should move once started. “You’re going to be talked about a lot once people recognize how great this is.”

    “That’s fine, but I want them talking even more when I beat the elites and become leader and champion,” Volkner said, a huge grin on his face. He ran his hand over the control box that was just itching to be started up. Unable to resist any longer, he flipped switches to start up the wave generator and the clockwork gears.

    The generator came to life with a soft roar, making the lights dim than grow brighter. There were slow clicks all around as the gears set themselves into motion. Laughing in delight, Volkner started up the electrical barriers, turned on all of the gym's lights inside and out, set the heater to run, and caused the puzzle gears to turn in their resetting program so that they could run upstairs to test solve them all. The gym stirred into mechanical life.

    However, it was too much. The wave generator whined and rumbled as it pulled more strongly on the solar generator network to support all the systems starting. The sky was dark and the solar walkway's batteries were low due to all the power Volkner had used in trying to get the gym working. The solar walkway pulled on the distant power plant east of Veilstone which was being strained as well in Team Galactic's activities and various celebrations throughout the town. Trying to keep running, the Veilstone power plant tried to pull power from the west Sinnoh plant only to fail to do so. Safety systems on all of the generators became alarmed and shut down trying to avoid damage to the equipment. But as none of the systems were running, the entire eastern half of Sinnoh went dark without any power available.

    In the darkness of the Sunyshore Gym basement, Tron yelped and crouched in a ball on the floor, causing an electrical glow around himself to provide some light. Volkner and Cyrus looked at each other, stunned at the results. “Oops.”

    While most of eastern Sinnoh was able to regain power by morning, Sunyshore's systems were most stressed in the incident and remained without power for many days. The young Trainer found progress in that area blocked by electrical engineers trying to get the system working again. Heading on, the Trainer happened upon Team Galactic as they worked towards their goal. Unable to stop them then, the Trainer grew stronger, determined to stop Galactic's ambitious plan. Galactic was stopped and Volkner eventually found the spark he'd lost in battling the much stronger Trainer who eventually faced him on the path to becoming Sinnoh's League Champion.

    A chance encounter setting the world on the path it should be on... it is good as Giratina sees.

    The prompt for this was quite open, giving me some characters to work with and the angle of humorous or heart-warming. It was fun to think up ideas for. I was quick to decide on using Volkner; interesting personality to work with in his character role, what with the dissatisfaction in an honorable position. While thinking over the characters that'd be good to work with him, I considered Shauntal (she refers to him in-game) and Marlon (because his chill personality would be funny playing off Volkner). But in the end, I went with Cyrus because he doesn't fit nicely into humorous or heartwarming. That seemed most fun.

    And since I didn't have to come up with some reason for taking Volkner out of Sinnoh or bringing non-Sinnoh charaacters in, it readily suggested the somewhat flimsy broken bridge meant to keep you from getting to Sunyshore early. Stopped because of an electrical blackout? I admit it's not the silliest broken bridge in the series; the Pokémon Center probably uses a lot of power, making it a good idea for a traveling trainer to avoid the town while its power is out. It's still a broken bridge and players who like exploring (me included) don't like it for stopping progress.

    The frame with Giratina is there, well, because a snapshot-like fic like this looks a lot better with a frame. At least I think so.
  2. Ysa! You're posting Pokemon things again! (I would say "you're alive" except I follow you on ff.net)

    This... Aside from maybe how silly Volkner acts with Tron (He always struck me as more serious than you've portrayed him, even after getting over his burnout) it's probably one of the best short fics I've read... I'm not going to say this year (That would have constituted all three that qualify) but in the past six months at least.

    In other words, yet another stellar work.

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