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Solar System (4th place Villainous Intent contest)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Blackjack Gabbiani, Dec 17, 2015.

  1. Blackjack Gabbiani

    Blackjack Gabbiani Clearly we're great!

    Solar System is set in the Diamond and Pearl Adventure! series, where the majority of named Galactic members are set on the path to redemption. The chapters get their names from Gustav Holt's The Planets, which is how the three primary commanders are refered to in Platinum version. As both Mitsumi and B-2 lack planetary names, I gave them Mercury and Uranus, and as Cyrus represents the Sun, I called him The Center. Pluto/Charon has always lacked an official suite, although a Holst scholar, Colin Matthews, wrote one called The Renewer. The suites are presented out of order for better flow, although they mainly exist independent. I'll post a chapter at a time!

    1--Bringer of Wars

    It was a year since Boss Cyrus had signed the deal with the International Police to dissolve Team Galactic in exchange for clemency for most of its agents. Charon had been arrested, and nobody deserved it more than him.

    I was supposed to go back to being a normal girl. But I've never had any idea what that meant.

    "Mars," I said to myself, "You're going to go out there and be normal. You're not going to go back to your old ways."

    Maybe it was me, but my mirror reflection always seemed to be a lot more sarcastic than me, like she was mocking every vow I made.

    I was dressing nice, like the girls in magazines and in Jubilife did. Maybe it was a bit younger than my age. I'm not a teenager any more! But help me, I couldn't stand the dowdy and neutral colors that women my age were supposed to wear.

    That was already a strike against me ever being normal.

    I guess normal girls can look at the world passively. Normal girls don't have to resist the urge to hurt people that harm the world. Normal girls don't have body counts to their names.

    Mitsumi would feel bad. I mean, she already tried to kill herself out of guilt, Jupiter said. Heck, Jupiter would feel bad. Saturn doesn't seem to regret what we did, but he still tries to fix it.

    But I feel like I have to hold myself back. I CAN'T get involved. What we were doing was the right thing, no matter what we had to do to accomplish it.

    Of course, not what Cyrus was really after. Wiping out all existence wasn't the answer. He was crazy. But if his revelation hadn't shocked me so much...

    ...Well, if I'd been able to do anything other than sit there and cry, I might have done something awful to him. And I would have regretted that, even if he /was/ actively trying to kill us.

    I still respect him. But I guess he's in the same boat I am. Neither of us can get out there and change the world or else we'll just find ourselves back where we started.

    Jupiter was more of an enforcer. Seeing her change into something more docile was weird. Seeing Cyrus become quiet and withdrawn was shocking. He was always pensive and introspective, of course, but he could talk people into doing anything, and he did it often.

    If he had told us in advance what he planned to do...I can't really say for sure that I wouldn't have gone along with it.

    Whatever. It didn't matter now. We were all different people.

    Jubilife is a great city for starting over. It's huge, and nobody knows you exist unless you want them to. And it's amazing how many employers don't do background checks, even when you go by what was originally a code name. Mars is my name now. That's all there is to it.

    It was a nice day. A nice day to be alive, I think, although of course it would be much better under Boss Cyrus's rule.

    Just as I thought that, I heard a yelp. It had come from a side street, one with apartments up and down it, and I ran towards it just in time to see someone run around the corner. "That man has my purse!" someone yelled. I didn't even see who it was, because I took off running after the man almost on impulse.

    No, it was impulse. I was doing what I believed in.

    The training I got in Team Galactic hadn't focused much on running, but it had focused on pokémon. I called out Golbat, a lot faster than me, who immediately shouted out at the man with Supersonic. He fell over, clutching his ears and the purse dropping from his grip.

    I slowed down, approaching him almost gently. "In this world, we have to take what we need. But at the same time, justice must be enforced. Tell me, do you really need that purse?"

    He probably couldn't hear me. Supersonic is a hell of an attack when used on a human.

    I kicked the purse out of the way, and I'm pretty sure the woman picked it up. Someone was nearby anyway, watching me.

    "So, you really need this purse? I don't think you do. I think you're an idiot. You didn't take what you needed." I knelt down to him and grabbed his collar. "You took because you could. That's not justice. That's not anything to believe in."

    Pulling my fist back was another impulse. I hadn't felt like this in ages. It was awesome!

    Some people count how many times they punch someone. Sometimes I did, but not then. A hundred. A thousand. A million! And all I could think about was that we would rid the world of all that wasn't needed. I wanted him gone.

    Something got in the way of my volley though. Why would Golbat want to stop me? We were supposed to be a team, working towards bringing justice to the world. But its feet hung onto my arm, stronger than they looked.

    "What are you doing? Get off me!" But a hand joined it; some woman. Probably the one who had her purse stolen.

    "Stop it! I've already called the police! You don't need to do this!"

    Yeah I did. That was what I did. But it wasn't worth fighting over. I got up and recalled Golbat, and walked off.

    I was always going to be a Galactic. I couldn't be a normal girl.

    But I'd always be me. Mars.
  2. [Imaginative]:[Clockwork]

    [Imaginative]:[Clockwork] X-treme trainer

    Even though I have no familiarity with DPA (other than the summaries I read for the purpose of reading this), I really love character studies, especially ones that examine the aftereffects of canon. I think this one was great, since Mars's morals fall in the very interesting zone of ends justifying the means and brutal justice. I especially thought the purse snatching scene was excellent, since you set it up as Mars transforming into a sort of crime fighter (for a second I even thought her post-Galactic career was going to involve her becoming a superhero of sorts) and then immediately yank that away by having her reliance of violence taking over. It was surprising, and I think by dangling a kind of expected outcome in front of us before revealing what she actually did helped enforce her characterization.

    On that note, I do wish we had gotten a little more here. I understand this isn't the entire one-shot, and space-wise it might not be reasonable to devote a ton of time to one character. However, I really just wanted to get more of her thoughts on Galactic's whole run and the way it ended. I think part of that is because a little less than half of this is devoted to what she thinks about other characters. And that's great, and I would think it's odd if you didn't do that, but considering the short length of the whole thing, it left me feeling like Mars didn't get as much focus as she should have considering the section is devoted to her. Still, it may be a difficult problem to solve. You might not want to add any more length to it, considering the one-shot itself is presumably pretty long already, and I wouldn't want you cutting out her thoughts on her teammates. My impression was just that Mars was very interesting, to the point where I wanted more.

    I think if wanting more is my main criticism, it means you did a really good job. Even without knowing much about DPA, I thoroughly enjoyed this, and I look forward to the other characters.
  3. Blackjack Gabbiani

    Blackjack Gabbiani Clearly we're great!

    4--Bringer of Contentment

    I was going to stay by his side. I'd sworn myself to Master Cyrus and after his breakdown on the Spear Pillar and his imprisonment by that traitor, I told him I never wanted to leave him.

    Ugh. He always said that emotions only cause pain. Now I'm waiting around like some sort of faithful pet.

    Better than nothing, I guess.

    Sometimes I see Mitsumi. I don't know why she wants to see me so much. I'd tried to kill her before and she acts like we're all buddy-buddy now. Every so often I'll hear that annoying voice going "JUUUUUUPITER!" and my back jolts in the way it does when someone has a knife to it.

    But she was concerned with some sort of contest so I wouldn't see her for a while.

    It'd been a year since the team ended. I wondered where Cyrus was, because it had to be weighing on his mind.

    Skuntank brushed against my leg and I knelt down to pet it. "Let's go for a walk," I decided.

    Tangrowth and Crobat were already outside, hanging around the garden. They made a nice pair out there, with Tangrowth taking care of the vegetables and Crobat hunting whatever tried to invade.

    "Come on." I didn't really have to say anything. They were so well trained that they'd come with a nod of my head.

    Hareta didn't even have to gesture. His pokémon seemed to instinctively know what he wanted. It's no wonder that Master Cyrus took an interest to him. I wish I could have that sort of connection...

    Sigh. I was doing it again.

    "It's a nice day, isn't it? Sun is shining, Starly are singing..." That was stupid. "Disgusting..." I couldn't really fool myself. "Today's a bad day. Just...just a bad day." I kept walking, and from the looks of it I was going faster and faster, without any sort of destination in mind.

    I wanted to run to him. He needed me. But his order had been to be my own person and I didn't know how to do that.

    Mitsumi is a jerk. How could she be one of us and then go and be normal? I hate her so much, I hate her I hate her I hate her.

    I'd stopped by then, and stood there with my thoughts racing.

    Emotions only cause pain. It was as true now as it was then.

    "Come on, kids." My pokémon had caught up with me by then. "Let's go to Hearthome and see a contest."
  4. Blackjack Gabbiani

    Blackjack Gabbiani Clearly we're great!

    3--The Winged Messenger

    "Coming up after the break, the Master Rank contest! Please stick around for top-level excitement!"

    At least I think that's what it said. I admit, I wasn't really paying attention. Applying eyeliner is harder than it looks!

    I was halfway through, only one eye finished, when I heard sniffling. Emotions usually run high during contest preparation, so it isn't unusual. What was weird, though, was that she came over to me.

    "Excuse me, miss Mitsumi?" I wasn't surprised that she knew my name.

    I just had to twist my hips to swing the chair in her direction. She seemed a little older than me, and very unsure of herself. Her shoulders were shaking and her sloppy makeup was already starting to leak, coming dangerously close to the neckline of her sundress. "Are you ok?"

    "No..." Before I could ask anything else, she threw her arms around me and started sobbing. "I'm sorry! I'm so sorry! I just can't ask anyone else for help!"

    "Aaah, ok..." In the back of my mind, it occurred to me that it was good I hadn't gotten my dress on yet, but how selfish was that? "Do you want to go somewhere private and talk?"

    She nodded against my neck. "Thank you for listening..." It took her a moment to back away from me so that I could stand up. "Gyah, I'm sorry, I'm such a mess today..."

    "It's ok. We're all nervous." I patted her on the arm and took her out to the service hallway. Nobody was around, thank goodness, since all the hall staff were busy with changing the stage set. "Now, what's wrong?"

    "I...I need to tell you something first," she sniffed, wiping her nose with her arm.

    I smiled. "It's ok. You can tell me anything."

    "This is so stupid...I made some big mistakes with my life. I shouldn't be here..."

    "No no!" I hoped I was coming off as compassionate as I felt. "You earned it!"

    "That's not it..." Another sniffle, another wipe, and she looked at me directly. "I...used to be in Team Galactic. And I know you were too."

    That took me a moment. "I uh..." was all I could get out.

    "I want to be here. I really do," she cried, "but I shouldn't be. I did so many awful things. So help me!" By this point, she was visibly shaking. "How do you deal with it? How do you go out there and be so happy when we're all horrible?"

    It felt like the floor dropped out, taking my stomach with it, and I felt more than a little sick. I knew I was wobbling, so I stuck a hand out on the wall to steady myself. I had to be strong for her. I had to be strong for her, for me, for my pokemon...

    It was difficult.

    "I uh...I..." No, I had to get this out. "Uh..." My head was swimming. "Uh..."

    She turned away. "I shouldn't have said anything."

    "No no!" I blurted it out before I thought of anything to follow it with. "Uh..." Think, Mitsumi, think! "Contests are about being ourselves." It was the first thing that came to mind and I went with it. "They're about bringing out what we would have been without Team Galactic. Our real selves, unfettered"--had I really just said 'unfettered'?--"by our pasts."

    That had gotten her attention. The further tears had sent her makeup cascading down onto her dress, and there wasn't going to be any time to get it out by the start of the contest. "We can't escape it though, can we? You're doing such great things with Professor Rowan, but even you..."

    I wasn't sure what else to do. I was still feeling unsteady, but I had to help. So I grabbed her in a tight hug, wrapping my arms around her back with a hand on the back of her head. "Why did you enter the contests?" I asked as calmly as I could muster. "You couldn't have gotten this far without you being good at it."

    She wiggled slightly, shaking her head. Her hair had only been about halfway done, but it had still taken me far too long to realize that I'd ruined it and felt even worse. "I did it on a whim. My pokémon wanted to--I have a Stunky; it still hasn't evolved...And suddenly we were winning all these awards and getting all this attention, and I don't want anybody to look into my past! Commander Mitsumi, help me!"

    Commander. I hadn't heard that in years, even when I'd been coerced back on that horrible day. It felt like she was addressing someone else. "Your pokemon loves you. Stunky wouldn't want to do this if it didn't love and trust you. L-like I said, contests are about our real selves, and that includes our pokémon. It wants to show off its personality, and since you've gotten this far, I think it means you do too."

    "I'm so scared..."

    "Hey..." I loosened my grip and took a step back, with my hands still on her shoulders. "That's normal. Everyone is scared before a contest, and all of us trying to have lives outside the Team are scared. As far as what we can do to make up for what we've done..." That was something I'd never really talked about. As she had said, working with Professor Rowan was my primary focus. Even contests were more of a side interest, and battling with Cynthia. I took a deep breath and said whatever came to mind. "Truth be told, there was a day where I felt that I couldn't live anymore. I felt like everything I'd done was too much to bear. I almost died. But a friend saved me, and made me realize that there are people that love me. That there's a world outside Team Galactic, and there's a world outside our pasts."

    She nodded, sniffling again. "So, you think I can find someone to love me even with the horrible things?"

    "Your Stunky already does, and that's important. It was there with you for all of that and still relies on you and wants to share its life with you."

    That got a slight smile out of her. "I want to make human friends as well."

    "Well hey, there's a whole big room full of coordinators in there!"

    She was about to say something when the speaker announced "Five minutes to showtime, five minutes to showtime, will all Master Rank coordinators take their places".

    "Oh no!" This was loud, a far cry from the muffled tones she'd taken earlier. "I'm not finished! I need to do my hair, and--and my dress! It's ruined!"

    I grabbed her arm and looked her up and down. "We're about the same size. Use mine!"

    "Ah!" She took a step back. "I couldn't do that!"

    "Nonsense. We'll trade."

    "I couldn't do that! This is ruined!"

    I smiled. "It's ok. I swear. This is your first contest and I want you to do your best."

    "Uhhuh...ok then. Let's trade!" She wiped her nose again and headed for the door.

    It wasn't my best appeal. With me in a stained sundress and makeup only half on, the judges paid more attention to me than to Infernape. But she was magnificent, her Stunky gathering attention and affection.

    She was third. Not bad for someone's first showing.

    Afterwards she came up to me, a grin a mile wide. Her face was clear and bright, and she had managed to arrange her hair nicely. "I did it! Or...I almost did it. Congratulations on your second place!"

    I laughed, putting a hand behind my head. "I tell you, when someone brings a Wailord in, it's always going to have all the focus. I thought your use of props was top-notch."

    "Miss Mitsumi..." Back to a more commonplace title. I relaxed a bit at that. "Thank you for helping me. You're so kind. I never thought anybody in the Team could be so kind. But now I..." A gulp. "I have hope for myself, and for the future."

    I felt a sudden warmth all around me. Was this what they described as having your heart melt? Probably. "Anything to help a recovering Galactic. Now, let's get back in our street clothes and I'll buy you a new sundress."

    Tears welled up again, but this time her makeup didn't run. "Thank you for being my first friend."
  5. [Imaginative]:[Clockwork]

    [Imaginative]:[Clockwork] X-treme trainer

    I think the biggest strength of Jupiter's section is her relationship with her Pokemon. You show that they're obviously close (I guess calling them kids is from the manga, but regardless it works well here to demonstrate a bond) but that she still feels like it's not enough. Even though she acknowledges they're well trained, the memory of Hareta keeps her thinking that it's still not good enough, which was a nice way to bring her post-Galactic to a more graspable place, as opposed to the broad idea that she doesn't know how to be an individual. Plus, her petting her skuntank is just a cute image, heh. Her disgust at the beautiful day was a funny touch, too.

    I guess they're supposed to be at her new home, although I wish it had been explained. Again, my lack of DPA knowledge might be hurting me here, but I couldn't think of any logical place from canon she could go that would have a garden. It's totally fine if you made up a home in the countryside or something for her, but I was a little confused.

    I thought Mitsumi's was the stronger of the two. Someone trying to do good in the world with the disposition to actually make it happen was a nice change from Mars and Jupiter, and I think the frantic backstage conversation fit well with the short length. At first I wasn't sure what to make of Mitsumi - initially it seemed you were portraying her kindness as sort of an artifice - but by the end she was pretty well defined and came across as genuine. I do think the dialogue was doing a lot of heavy lifting in terms of conveying emotion, and some descriptions of body language or something might have kept it fresh, but overall it was a really sweet section.

    I think Mars might still be my favorite, but I thought these two were great as well. I look forward to the rest!
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2016
  6. Blackjack Gabbiani

    Blackjack Gabbiani Clearly we're great!

    Yeah, dialogue is where most of my skill is, and description is...not. I guess I should think of what's known and what isn't, because I thought it was just going to be understood that Jupiter had a house somewhere since this was post-manga. I have a setting in my head for all of these things but it's kind of hard for me to think of what I need to say about it. And Mitsumi is kinda like that--she's almost artificial in her presentation when we first meet her in the series. I didn't like her at first because she came off as a ditz with no real skill (one of the first things we see her do is pull out a Starly against a rampaging Onix), but after learning her backstory it all made sense (yes, even that). She and Cyrus are really the ones who change the most over the series, even though Hareta is the main character.

    And the rest? Well, here's another chapter! For this one I put a bit of the game into it, since why not. But it's mostly introspective and I know people tend to be mixed on that.

    5--Bringer of Aging

    The old base was just like I remembered it. Well, it wasn't the base I was most familiar with. That one, Cyrus had blown up before heading to the Spear Pillar.

    I still don't know what he was thinking when he had started heading towards Hareta when he knew the building was set to blow. Or why he made us all wait on the Spear Pillar for hours while he waited for the kid to show up, especially with what his plan really was. If he was plotting to mercy-kill the planet, why would he delay his plan to see one little brat again?

    Not that I could ever really understand him. I was a commander and I knew less about him than even outsiders like Rowan knew.

    The office, the new office, gave me the heebie-jeebies. Which is funny because my only real memory of the rebuilt one was catching a glimpse of Charon spinning around in the office chair. Of course, seeing someone who could act with such heartlessness having such simple fun was an unsettling enough image. That was probably why, then.

    Ugh, I could hear his voice. "Saaaaturn!" He always drew it out, while Cyrus had practically barked it.

    Just remembering that sent a jolt down my back.

    And I had to pretend to follow that jerk. I had to keep my head down and do what I was told so I could gain access to Cyrus. And I had to keep it quiet that Cyrus was even THERE, since most of the team thought he was missing. People would walk past his cell every day and have no idea that he'd been kidnapped by that usurper.

    Not that they would have done anything about it. Finding out that Charon had been using mind control on the pokémon explained how he had been able to get so many grunts to follow him. Fear only went so far, especially when it came from a funny-looking elderly man that nobody had ever particularly liked.

    Rowan knew some stuff about Charon too. Apparently he'd been a much different person in his youth, with a best friend and a positive outlook. But one day that friend disappeared, right before they were supposed to make a scientific presentation, and it started his decline into utter heartlessness.

    I still couldn't bring myself to feel bad for him. What Cyrus had planned...even the complete destruction of the universe didn't seem as bad as Charon's threatened bombing of the League stadium. Cyrus at least believed in something beyond himself, and genuinely believed that he was doing what was best.

    Cyrus was a mad god, I thought, while Charon was a devil.

    "Hey, Gallade." I let it out of its ball, and it shouted enthusiastically. "I'm sorry for yelling at you when we were at Lake Valor."

    It just nodded. I'd told it before, a lot. It had been a tool then, something that could be thrown away when it no longer worked. I'd said it was worthless, but then Cyrus said the same to me.

    And I was still loyal to him.

    "Do you think my life is defined by other people?"

    Gallade just shrugged. That species is defined by those it protects, so to them, something like that was just normal. They still had free will though, and lives of their own.

    I don't think I even have that.

    "I'm thinking about doing something with this place," I continued. It felt like a continuing thought anyway. "We did so much study into energy that it feels like we were already an energy company. We talked about it so much, and had those ads on tv that it just seems natural. We can get some of the old scientists together..."

    But it didn't feel right. I was no scientist. I was no boss. I didn't know anything about running a business, or about how an energy company even worked. It was all complete fantasy.

    It still felt like a continuing thought. "I was thinking the other day about how people I went to school with are already parents. They're always kids and teenagers in my head..."

    Gallade nodded. I knew it didn't have any idea what I was talking about.

    "Eh, never mind." Finally, that felt like a separate thought. I was just talking to make noise.

    I ran my hand over the door to what had been Cyrus's cell but I didn't slow down. I didn't speed up either.

    There wasn't much for me there, I figured. Maybe nothing at all, but I still hadn't learned to stay away. I felt like I'd never learn or grow up or be anybody other than Commander Saturn or be a human being.

    Eh, it was better than nothing.
  7. Blackjack Gabbiani

    Blackjack Gabbiani Clearly we're great!

    6--The Magician

    "Whatever happened to your spaceman group?" Mom asked one day out of the blue. "You haven't asked me to fix your outfit lately."


    She hit mute on the tv. "Fine, fine. Your performance group, Mr actor."

    Somehow she had gotten convinced that Team Galactic was some sort of theater group and considering what it really was, I wasn't about to correct her. How she managed to avoid seeing the news, especially after the near-catastrophe at the League tournament, was beyond me.

    "Why did they call you B-2 anyway?" As if she hadn't asked me that a bunch of times, and I mouthed the inevitable followup as she said it. "Don't they know that sounds like booty? That's not nice, making fun of you like that."

    "I told you, I don't really mind." And of course I had to shift around right then. Being the "buttman" had some drawbacks. Really the only advantage is that it made me distinctive when every other grunt had looked more or less the same.

    "I was talking to my friend the other day, you know, the one who works for a surgeon? She said that you should get the surgery."


    That time she stopped her knitting. Whatever she was making was blue with white dots and I kept suspecting that it was supposed to be a night sky. "Come on. It's too hard for you to buy clothing and you can't sit like a normal person."

    I know she meant well. She didn't mean anything bad by that, and more than a few of my teammates aspired to be normal. Still though, ya know?

    "Anyway, you need to think about the future. If you're not going to play spaceman, you should think about settling down. Get a good job, meet a nice girl, maybe some kids..."

    Every so often she'd bring that up. I hadn't had a girlfriend since grade 6, and even that was only some girl in my class who always wanted to hold hands, even during tests. I only went to the movies with her because we had exams coming up. "Mom..." But I couldn't really tell her off. I guess it didn't matter. I never felt the real need to.


    "Ugh..." I shifted again, wishing that the couch cushion had a more pronounced indent. "Things are still quieting down. I told you the group broke up. What we wanted and what was realistic were two very different things."

    "How a performance art group was gonna change the world, I'll never understand," she chuckled as she turned the volume back on. "You know, you'd make a good game show host."

    She was watching some sort of variety show, with a segment where the host was asking some minor celebrities trivia questions. If they answered wrong, they'd be showered in feathers or a Torchic would run out and peck their ankles or something. "Uh...why do you say that?"

    "You're so outgoing and quick witted, and you stay calm under pressure. You wouldn't give anything away."

    Part of that was true. I'd managed to make real friends while in the team, and I'd been pretty cool during the Spear Pillar and the battle against Charon. But some of the stuff I'd done during that time was embarrassing, like blabbing that what I was guarding was a secret warehouse. "If you say so."

    "Don't be so hard on yourself!" I didn't think I had been. "You're a good boy."

    "Yeah, I know."

    We were quiet for a moment, and she started knitting again.

    Onscreen, the trivia segment had ended with everyone somehow un-feathered, and then there was a kickline of people dressed really badly like the Sinnoh gym leaders. "So uh...what's going on here?"

    "Oh, who even knows. Last week they had a man dressed up like Cynthia and a little boy as her Garchomp. Hey, doesn't a friend of yours know Cynthia?"

    "Yeah, Mitsumi and Hareta both do."

    "That Mitsumi is really pretty. You like her?"

    What the WHAT? "Oh GOD mom!"

    "Ahahaha! Not your type?" Was it possible for knitting needles to sound sarcastic?

    I sank as much as I could into the couch. "I don't even wanna think about those things. Just don't bring that up, ok?"

    "Well, you could do worse. Ok."

    Right when I flopped back against the cushions behind me, the show changed again to some historical drama parody with some guy flailing around a greenscreened battlefield trying to keep his giant helmet upright.

    "So is this the sort of thing your performance group did? Or was it all space themed?" She was pointing with the needles.

    "Not really. I guess it was more science based."

    "Science skits? Now I've heard everything."

    "You have, mom."

    Someday I was probably going to have to cobble some skit together for her because she'd get it in her head to ask to see one. I wondered if I could wrangle the others into it.

    But right then I could at least sit there. Even if it did mean I had to shift around every few minutes.
  8. Blackjack Gabbiani

    Blackjack Gabbiani Clearly we're great!

    0--The Center

    If it hadn't been for that strange man Kaisei popping in from time to time and keeping me updated, I never would have realized that it had been a year since that fateful day.

    Time to time. That was exactly the point. The Distortion World has no time, none that can be measured by anything but the instincts of my own body. I can count seconds, or how I perceive seconds, but it comes with the sensation that something is /wrong/, that doing so goes against the nature of the very world.

    Kaisei doesn't seem to be aware of it. I had requested that he bring me a watch or some other timepiece, but upon his next return he admitted that he had dropped it. He reminds me so much of his son, despite them having been apart for most of Hareta's life. Even down to calling me "Surface", although Hareta had taken to saying "old man Cyrus" instead.

    Mitsumi would snort in a way I even now couldn't possibly approve of. I asked Hareta how old he thought I was and he exclaimed "really old! Like my dad's age!"

    I didn't know how old Kaisei was, but it may have been an accurate assessment. He was certainly on the underside of thirty.

    And there I was thinking in terms of time again. It was a terrible habit.

    I could leave. I could fetch that watch myself, and any other instruments to measure whatever I needed and determine the properties of that world. I would have to readjust to the outside, the so-called "real" world, but I could do so.

    But I didn't want to. Things were finally quiet, not simply around me but in my mind as well. The utter chaos of this alien dimension was paradoxically soothing, and other than the occasional zoom of Giratina passing by on its way to some immeasurable place, I could be alone.

    It had taken more of me than I thought possible, but I was coming to terms with what I had done under the guise of Team Galactic. Even if it was possible for me to become a god, I had not been worthy of it since the day I brought the team into existence. In my ambition to guide the world to a new beginning, I had lost the soul to truly do so.

    I needed to be alone. It was the only state that kept my thoughts from wandering in that direction.

    Thinking in terms of space was something else I had yet to break. As with time, it seemed to exist only as far as my perception. I could move across the platforms within, and see the physical distance I had traveled via footprints in the dust, but there seemed to be no sense of advancement through the perceivable dimensions.

    Perhaps that was why. The utter confusion of the place forced those dark thoughts away as I struggled to understand my surroundings in a way that didn't lead me to infuriating conclusions.

    I knew I'd leave soon. I'd planned on it since before I came in. And yet...yet as much as I wanted to learn more from Hareta and Mitsumi, it seemed so far off. An eternity.

    ...I wondered how long I was there. I hadn't seen Kaisei in...there was my reliance on time again. Perhaps it had been only a few minutes. Perhaps it had been years. Nothing seemed to work any more.

    Confusion was the law of the land. Only Kaisei seemed immune, and he had become my lifeline. How he came to be able to navigate that world as easily as anywhere else I had yet to discover, and he would have to guide me out when the time came. I had seen portals away, but couldn't trust them to lead me to the correct places. Perhaps they led to Sinnoh. Perhaps they lead to other parts of the world. Perhaps they led to other planets, or indeed other planes of existence.

    I couldn't take that risk. I was paralyzed with fear, or I would have been had I not been consumed with that confusion.

    He was a strange man. Utterly beyond my comprehension, perhaps more than that world or its single shadowy inhabitant. He ate too much, he passed gas without apology, he jumped across the waterfalls as deftly as crossing a small stream, he laughed inappropriately and brayingly, and he had taken to asking me bizarre questions about the most irregular things. He had even blushed on occasion, turning pink as I had answered a question, something regarding the inherent rationale of Bibarel to build dams in dangerous waters.

    But he was trustworthy, something that had been rare in my experience. My life had been riddled with the selfish and unkind...Hareta had been the first person I had met that had broken that. And Kaisei shared that trait with his son.

    If I had had a friend like him before...

    I couldn't afford to think like that. My dark thoughts had to go away, overcome by the chaos of that world. The void of it all, things even Kaisei couldn't overcome.

    No, he did. It was my failing, not his.

    I had confidence in him. Despite his utter lack of intelligence or common sense, he was earnest and able, and willing to lend a hand to someone who had fallen from grace. That was his strength. Perhaps together we could create a true, pure being.

    No, that was madness. Madder than that world.

    I heard a scuffle behind me, or perhaps in front, or above. "Hey Surface! I was wondering about something. Why do Cheri berries taste so good when they're so spicy? Because whenever I eat them I feel like I could breathe fire but I keep eating them."

    An unmistakably Kaisei question, though one with an easier answer than usual. I could explain things like endorphins and serotonin, and how they triggered various reactions. Emotion was dictated there, fear and love and hate.

    He smiled at me as I faced him, finding what passed for the correct direction, but his approach was marred by tripping over nothing in particular.

    No matter what he did, I couldn't find him annoying. "How is the outside?"

    He dusted himself off but sat on the ground. "It's fine. Oh, Hareta said he made friends with some sort of a super pokémon in the Kanto region. He says it's like a cat but a person. Know anything like that?"

    I'm fairly certain that I grinned at the description, though I was unfamiliar with the being, or with what a smile fully felt like. It was a foreign reaction to anything. "Kaisei," I said in lieu of an answer, "thank you for coming."

    "Hey, no problem!"

    I knew I couldn't summarize what it meant to me. To be shown such kindness...

    I would leave someday, back to that incomplete world. And I hoped he would continue to visit even then.
  9. Blackjack Gabbiani

    Blackjack Gabbiani Clearly we're great!

    - --The Renewer

    Getting the radio was simple. All I had to do was behave like a syncophant when it came to orders from the prison guards and staff. It was disgusting--I was the Great Charon, after all!--but I'd become accustomed to playing the obedient servant under Cyrus's rule. That immature fool had believed himself to be a future god...What rot!

    How he had escaped imprisonment himself was, a rare event, outside my comprehension. Simply signing a deal with the International Police dissolving Team Galactic shouldn't have been enough. The boy deserved to rot, and I'd have kept him in that cell until he was nothing but bones if I had to. They didn't have to mess around with that exchange, not when I had him locked up already.

    The radio didn't have a motor, of course. It ran on batteries and got limited reception and was completely see-through, for security reasons but resembling the trendy style of about thirty years ago.

    The pokémon of my past, a creature who had once been my friend until it proved itself unreliable and led to me being the laughingstock of the Sinnoh scientific community, was now my connection to freedom. Fortunately, it was stupid enough to believe that I wanted to make amends. When it had manifested in the blender while I had been working in the prison kitchen, it was a stroke of good fortune. How it had taken it upon itself to find me after so long only showed how idiotic it was.

    But it was, of course, a valuable tool. Not only for escape but for revenge. Those traitors would ultimately pay, once I could awaken Heatran again. This time, those meddlers, those children, wouldn't be there. Neither would that officer Hansom, or Looker, or whatever name he picked out of a hat that week. Nothing would impede me on my road to glory.

    The radio sparked, a sign that Rotom had taken control of it. I could dimly see its face in the dial strip, and it was grinning that foolish grin it had always had.

    How had I once found this creature endearing? The ignorance of youth. I had wanted nothing but its companionship and could only look back on those days with revulsion.

    "Now then, Rotom," I directed, "As I said before, talking in the kitchen would only result in you being found out. And then we couldn't be friends. They don't allow me to have pokémon in here."

    It sparked sadly.

    "That's why I have to leave here. I'm stuck in a place where we can't play. But you can help get me out."

    It adjusted the dial to play a short clip of a random song.

    "There's a machine called a generator. It controls the electricity here, but I'm sure you can play around in it. And it's got a motor! I know how much you love motors." My tone was disgustingly cloying. I sounded like a pre-school teacher! The Great Charon shouldn't ever be in these situations.

    Another short clip, with the words "great deal" audible from a commercial. Had it been random or was this Rotom's attempt to show approval?

    "You see, this door is held shut with electricity. After you play with the generator, you'll need to come back here and undo the lock. And then you can play the shocking game with the people that will come afterwards. Doesn't that sound like fun?"

    It spun the radio around through means I'd have to study.

    "Very good! Now, follow the electric lines and let me out!"

    The radio fell to the table, a normal machine once more, and a dim spark traveled through the light above into the electrical grid.

    This was a new beginning. Everything would be under my command, I mused as the room went dark so quickly. Everything would be rightfully mine, and no naive, deluded children would get in my way this time.

    I was reborn. Master Charon had a nice ring to it.
  10. Hi! I really enjoyed the where-are-they-now sort of vibe that each of these segments represent. You do well in capturing the variety of emotions each of them experience, and you really feel that sense of regret and directionlessness that a lot of them share. I unfortunately have not read the manga so I may be missing a lot of references here, but on its own I really appreciate how it goes through each character and shows them still being affected by what had happened with Team Galactic the year before.

    My favorite has to be Mitsumi's, mostly because it was one of the few where her feelings were magnified by actions rather than being presented as thoughts, which many of the later segments seem to focus on. Cyrus's was very good, too, and I think it was in his segment where your skill in presenting different character voices really shone, since it struck the right balance of being starkly different from the rest while still maintaining the tone of the entire project.

    In the same vein as above, though, I think that’s why I felt Mars’s, Jupiter’s, and Saturn’s segments were a bit weaker because they felt a bit similar to each other. I thought Mars’s was good since it really showed the dead-end sort of feeling she’s faced with now, but after reading Jupiter’s and Saturn’s segments the impact became a bit weaker for me because of their similar themes. Granted, this may be part of the project and I would completely understand if you say that this conveys that the three of them are experiencing the same “post-Galactic withdrawal”, but when I compare it to how you were still able to convey those kinds of emotions with Mitsumi’s and B-2’s, whose segments are much more different, I think you can improve their segments a bit more.

    But overall I really liked this, and I really like how you explore the depths of all these characters. You really get a feel of their lives after the team, and even if I’m not familiar with what exactly the events were that led to this kind of aftermaths (I can only assume that they are vaguely similar to what happens to the games), I still sympathized with them, which is a mark of great writing imo. Awesome job with it! :)
  11. Blackjack Gabbiani

    Blackjack Gabbiani Clearly we're great!

    Sort of similar to the games, only there's another commander and Charon kidnaps Cyrus after the events of DP, prompting an all-out hunt for him by his remaining officers.

    They're all basically going through the same thing, only Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn don't have anything really to fill their lives with. Mitsumi has contests, Cyrus has study, Charon has...well, prison, and B-2 has an overprotective and naïve mother (who I made up, btw). But Mars has...I guess "militant pacifism", Jupiter has petty rivalry, and Saturn has a feeling of responsibility that he isn't sure how to carry. Though I'd be curious to know what it is you would add/would want me to add to those parts!
  12. I guess I wanted something akin to one of Dragonfree's comments from the contest - more of a story in their segments. You do this with Mars, and I think that's why I found it successful minus being impacted by its similarity to Jupiter's and Saturn's segments, but the latter two could use some more exploration into what they're feeling. I'm not saying you should add some concrete scene like that last bit in Mars, but I think you can add more into their introspection that makes their feelings more felt rather than spoken about. Maybe you can have their Pokemon react to them more? It's just an idea, but I think especially with Jupiter's segment you can show that dynamic to convey just how stuck she's feeling.
  13. Blackjack Gabbiani

    Blackjack Gabbiani Clearly we're great!

    Well the focus with Jupiter's part is supposed to be her jealousy of how she sees Mitsumi as having it all together. And I could convey that in a relatively short time, at least I thought. Saturn is thinking of the future, and I wanted to mirror the underlying hopelessness of how he comes across in the games at that similar part. As for the pokemon, admittedly I do have difficulty writing them (which is why I don't really write about Hareta).
  14. [Imaginative]:[Clockwork]

    [Imaginative]:[Clockwork] X-treme trainer

    I think the ones you've added since my last review were overall strong. I do think Saturn was probably the weakest, and I'm a bit divided. On the one hand, I felt like he didn't get the kind of arc some of the others did. For better or worse, the others reach some kind of conclusion, whereas Saturn sort of ends with a shrug and acknowledgement that yeah, things aren't great. The reason I'm divided is because I think that might have been what you were going for and that the sense of incompleteness is a reflection of how he feels. If so, I like the angle that that he's really kind of lost when he doesn't have a leader, even one he hates (speaking of, I loved the line about how Cyrus is a mad god whereas Charon is a devil). I thought that feeling was conveyed well as his thoughts flowed from one thing to the next. It seemed as if he hadn't thought of his past or his future as long as Galactic was there to occupy his time, and how he's being forced to look at it all. Very nice.

    B-2 was a refreshing change of pace into a more lighthearted vibe. I enjoyed the fact that as a grunt, he didn't seem to have the major emotional scars the others did, and the implication that they were all still friends, or at least still in contact, was a relief for some reason. I also thought it was cute and funny that his mom thinks Galactic is a performance group, heh. Overall, this section was a nice little break from the heavier ones.

    I feel like Cyrus is the centerpiece here, and the section is successful for the most part. He's definitely the most clearly written here, since every line seems very deliberate and thoughtful with just a hint of softness flickering under the intellectual exterior. I also was really interested in the musings about time and space, and how neither really exist in the Distortion World, at least as far as Cyrus can tell. Finally, the idea that he's willing to re-enter the world and start a new life is a satisfying ending for me, and one that helps out a character who seemed to be pretty tragic in the games, at least to me.

    My only criticism is the heavy focus on Kaisei. Their relationship is honestly really entertaining, but it seemed as if the focus leaned more toward how great Kaisei was when it seemed it should have been on Cyrus's reaction to having a human connection unlike any he's had during his whole life. Basically it seemed more focused on Kaisei and less on how Cyrus is changed by Kaisei, if that makes sense. It was still a great section, though, and potentially my favorite.

    Finally, Charon's was very entertaining. I think his personality of constant contempt is fun (to read, not know). I feel bad for rotom, but I like that it comes back to back with Cyrus, showing firsthand the misguided humanity vs. needless cruelty that other sections had touched on. I'm a little curious as to why you ended with Charon, when Cyrus seems the natural choice, but I suppose you might have wanted Galactic's resurgence to be the big finale.

    I believe this is all of them (although if there are more, I'll be here!). This was a really enjoyable collection, and it made me want to read DPA. I'll probably have to go with Mars or Cyrus as my favorite, with Mitsumi close behind. They were all great, though, and you really seem to know Galactic inside and out. Great job!
  15. Blackjack Gabbiani

    Blackjack Gabbiani Clearly we're great!

    Nah, this is all of it. And I ended with Charon to give it a bit of a "this continues on" feeling.

    As for Kaisei, the talk about him is more or less showing the change in Cyrus. Here's someone that he feels safe with, who shows him that part of the world he thought he would have to create from the beginning, and someone he didn't get to know during the plot of the actual manga (they met once, very briefly, and didn't know who the other was). So in talking about him, Cyrus IS showing a change in himself. Also, he doesn't go to the Distortion World in DPA, but I thought putting him there for this fic would be a chance to show his thoughts above all else.
  16. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    So I totally said I would review this ages ago, and then I totally... didn't. Sorry about that! Here's some very belated feedback for you.

    I love how you captured all the different voices of these characters. Although they're all struggling with the same problem--how to move on with life after Team Galactic--you really highlighted how their different personalities have led them to approach the problem differently. I also liked the contrast between the last two entries and the ones that came before: unlike the various grunts and commanders who are trying to re-integrate to normal society, Cyrus and Charon are both isolated, not even attempting to live in the real world. Cyrus finds the chaos of the Distortion World much easier to understand than the world of relationships and emotions outside, so rather than striking out in search of a new life there, he's withdrawn (though his relationship with Kaisei, obviously, gives some hope that he'll be able to return eventually). And then Charon is still completely living in the fantasy world of Team Galactic, with no indication that he's learned anything or progressed at all from his time on the team.

    I think Mitsumi's was my favorite of the entries. Part of this, I think, was because we got to see her interact with other people and the world around her more than any of the other characters (except maybe B-2 and his mom!). I think this allows you to do a bit more with the character, contrast the way they act with what's going on in their heads. Mitsumi I find interesting because she seems like the most "well-adjusted" of the Galactic members, and I get the impression that the others look up to her (or resent her) a bit because of it. And we can see that image she projects for other people, of someone who knows what she's doing and has her life together, contrasted with her internal monologue, where it's very clear that "normal" life doesn't come easy to her. I think it would have been nice to see more character interaction in some of the other POV sections for that reason, and also because some characters, like Mars, don't really strike me as the introspective type to begin with.

    I also liked how Mitsumi came up in every other POV segment in the story, same as Cyrus. It was neat to get a taste not only of how the characters see themselves, but also how they're viewed by others. In that respect, I think it might have been cool to have her entry placed closer to the end, so we kind of get a sense of her from all the other characters talking about her, then finally get to see things from her POV later on.

    I also really enjoyed B-2's entry. I don't think I've seen a great deal of straight-up humor writing from you, but I thought his section was hilarious, especially how his mother's become convinced Team Galactic was some kind of acting troupe.

    I'd Jupiter's entry was my least favorite of them. It felt to me like you didn't quite know what you wanted to do with her part--it's very short, and seems a bit similar to Mars' for my taste.

    Overall, a neat collection of one-shots. I think I missed out on a bit because I'm not very familiar with Special canon, but that's a problem with me and not with the story, and there were only a couple places where I got a bit confused (basically, Charon's role in everything, heh). Lots of cool character studies here, any one of which feels like it could be expanded into something longer and more involved if you felt you wanted to.
  17. Blackjack Gabbiani

    Blackjack Gabbiani Clearly we're great!

    This isn't Special! This is Diamond and Pearl Adventure!, which is a different series entirely. Otherwise Mitsumi would be Platina and have a much different story, and Kaisei and B-2 wouldn't exist. DPA! is by Shigekatsu Ihara, who also did the Lucario movie manga and the Battle Frontier manga.

    Jupiter I didn't really know what to do with, honestly. I love her in this series but writing her by herself is hard. I wanted to make it about her relationship with Mitsumi since that's a big point in the manga, that there's a distinct shift over how they relate over the course of it. But I had already written Mitsumi in a role and didn't want to have her in two chapters.

    Charon, I feel, is more of the opposite of "fantasy world", at least insofar as Galactic is concerned. He never really had loyalty to them to begin with and used them to advance himself. In the games anyway he only went along with them because he knew they would fail, and he could move in to take over after Cyrus inevitably failed, using the team for his own gains. Charon's loyalty is Charon. But I did try to touch on the element of his humanity that he had left behind with Rotom, since his relationship with it only exists in the games.

    I always felt like even in the games Cyrus could leave the Distortion World. The only force keeping him there, really, is his own stubbornness, although it can be easily argued that that's a greater prison than anything Giratina could do to him. But in DPA!, the rules seem very strange and almost uneven. Which is why Kaisei is there. He's been there and thus supposedly knows how to navigate it, since he was able to leave under his own power. But also Kaisei is a foil to Cyrus, being dim and good natured compared to Cyrus's cynical intelligence.

    Out of the entire cast, only B-2 seems to me like he would have a happy home life. Even Jun, the Barry expy, is implied to have a strained relationship with his father. But we know nothing about B-2's life outside Team Galactic, including what his real name might be (it takes him seven volumes to give his code name!). So I thought it would be cute if he had some sort of loving but ditzy parent.

    Thank you for reviewing! And read DPA!!

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