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The Brightest People (Platonic Contest)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Nerdy McNerdface, Dec 29, 2017.

  1. Hello dear reader! So, quite a few people probably read this piece in the actual Platonic Contest thread, and so they will know what this is all about. But for the people who don’t know, we had this contest in good ol’ 2017 in which we had to write a piece involving platonic relationships. I shipped off a Pokemon GO piece that had sprung into my mind a few weeks before the deadline, and it ended up settling slap-bang in the middle of the rankings - fourth out of seven pieces, just missing a podium spot and thus I am doomed to a cesspit of mediocrity for the rest of eternity :0. But yeah, I’m gonna post this, completely unedited since the day I sent it off, for all to read and comment on. For the most part the judges settled on “good but needed improvements” for this one-shot, and I can see where they’re coming from there, but I’m happy to see more opinions from others! Anyhoo, onto the piece...

    Warning: this piece involves characters feeling depressed, mentions of suicide and the idea of an overall bleak reality. The ending’s pretty sweet but if you don’t like the other stuff, turn away now.

    The Brightest People

    The evening was still. Clouds of pollutions arose to the sullen London sky, as the sunbeams caught on them and turned them blazing reds and deep purples. At this time the city felt oddly still - the hustle and bustle of mundane work routines had settled down, but the magic of city nightlife had yet to take effect. For such a populated and tourism-centred area, it was almost abnormal for the area to be so quiet.

    A young man, probably no older than twenty, stood by the bank of the River Thames, his short, unruly blonde hair rustling faintly in the wind. His gloved hands were placed on a cold metal fence surrounding the river, as he stared out onto its wavy yet calm surface.

    He wasn't standing there for a purpose of any kind - while water tended to not usually be a problem for him, he wasn't exactly a river fanatic either. No, he was just standing there, appreciating the evening, lost in thought. Sometimes this period of the day could last hours, where he'd just stop and relax to the sound of the river gently passing in front of him. It wasn't like anyone cared, so why not?

    The peaceful quiet was interrupted when a faint, muffled beeping noise appeared out of nowhere. The man snapped back to reality, checking his left jacket pocket to pick up the source of the noise. As he pulled out a small device, the beeping could be heard more clearly, this time with an automated voice accompanying it:

    "Pokemon approaching from the river. Pokemon approaching from the river. Pokemon approaching. Pokemon approaching."

    The man hastily shoved the device back into where he found it, his other hand locating the second pocket on the right. From there he drew out a red and white sphere with a button and black ring splitting the two colours apart, his thumb hovering over the button as he stared at the river. The waters still seemed calm, but the device only beeped faster as each second passed.

    The river slowly began to pulsate directly in front of him. Whatever creature lay under that spot was heading to the surface in a hurry. The man had seen this sort of event occur enough times now to be confident in the culprit of this behaviour, but the sheer size of the waves being created by its approach meant that this was no simple battle of any kind.

    As the sea dragon burst out of the water with the force of a torpedo, the device within his left pocket stopped beeping, instead saying a line the man knew off by heart at this point.

    "Pokemon located."

    The man brought the ball he was holding directly above his head, clicking the button with force before throwing it out ahead of him, crying "Go! Magneton!"

    The two halves of the sphere split apart, as red plasma escaped from its innards and formed a peculiar creature made out of metal. It hovered above the water as the man caught the falling split ball and sealed the two parts together again. Before he even had a chance to think of his next idea, the foe screeched and started making a beeline towards the Magneton. This didn't faze the man too much, however. He'd been here enough times to have a tactic for when a powerful enemy such as a Gyarados was approaching fast.

    "Magneton, let's use a Thunder Wave on it!"

    The metal creature swerved out of the way of the Gyarados, all eyes focused on the snake-like body of the Water-Flying Type as it started channelling electricity through its body. The Gyarados was quick to realise its foe had moved, and made a fluent turn to where the Magneton was located. However, a sharp electric strike stopped it right in its tracks, where the Magneton had struck it. It tried to move, but the Magneton's electricity had paralysed the creature and left it stuck in midair, powerless to the Steel beast's next attack.

    The man punched the air. "Alright, Magenton! We've got it where we want it, now for a Thunderbolt!"

    The Magneton didn't need telling twice. Electrical energy began forming in front of it, slowly creating a larger and larger ball of crackling power, before the Electric-Steel Type released it as a searing bolt of lightning. On any other Pokemon that attack was strong enough, but a Gyarados' muscles were extremely vulnerable to electricity as the cost of having both the ability to manipulate water and to fly.

    The Gyarados roared as the bolt struck it, now knowing that it tried to mess with the wrong Pokemon and trainer. As the paralysis it was under slowly wore off, it shakily sunk back into the water to heal.

    The Magneton flew back to its trainer as he welcomed it back over to the side of the bank. "Well done Magneton, you did great out there! I'll feed you some candy when we get back, ok? You really deserve it."

    As the man let his Magneton return to a red plasma form and rest in its ball, the calm seemed to almost instantly swamp the evening again, as though it had never left. People walking by hadn't batted an eye at what just occurred in the River Thames - one or two boats passed by stress-free, the odd lost tourist was locating their destination on a map without looking up to see the commotion at all, it was though that battle had never happened at all. This response was expected, though - the man had learned almost nobody knew he existed long ago now.

    He turned at a woman's voice from behind him. "Hey Spark, that was a good one."

    The voice belonged to a woman with hair as dark as her skin, wearing red and white clothing that even Spark couldn't deny looked great on her. As she approached him, he gave a reply. "It was nothing, Candela, I've done it all before at this point. You could've helped if you wanted to, though."

    Candela smirked. "Oh no, I didn't want to battle. You know all my Fire Types wouldn't be able to take on a monster like Gyarados. I do have to say though, you should've caught it."

    Spark shook his head. "Don't talk like that, you're gonna sound like Blanche. Next moment you'll be telling me how Lapras sometimes swims upside down if there's a heatwave going on."

    Candela laughed. "Course not. I would've done what you did, I just thought Blanche would've disapproved if she was here. Likely would've talked about how it was bigger than what's in your pants and that she could've really used it for updating Willow's Pokedex. Speaking of, did she actually tell that to you? Or was that just Tauros crap you invented?"

    Spark shook his head. "She actually did tell me that, but considering the cocky smile she had on for the rest of the conversation I'd bet that it actually was just one big Tauros dump."

    "Man, the cheek," Candela replied. "Makes a good example of a few of the insane facts she's said that are true though. Makes you wonder whether she's actually seen all that stuff or is just making uneducated guesses based off of wild rumours and nonsense."

    "When you're done chattering away about your Blanche conspiracy behind her back," Spark interjected, "I'll be ready to hear why you're around this part of London for once instead of the Tower."

    Candela shrugged. "What? It's not like I don't do the same about you when I'm talking to Blanche. But anyway, as I was walking down here, I spotted something I've got a feeling you might enjoy. Not telling what by the way, it's a surprise."

    "Hmm?" His head rose slightly. "So you found something, and instead of keeping it to yourself and only telling us later like you always do, you decided to drag me along with you to see it? Either this is pretty freaking good or you're pulling my leg."

    "I'm not pulling your leg, Spark," Candela said, holding her arms up. "Look, my hands are nowhere near those toned calf muscles of yours."

    "Ha ha, very funny." Spark walked up so he was beside her. "Alright, take me to this fantastical place of wonderful things."

    She winked at him. "Oh, you bet."

    As they started walking down the side of the Thames, a thought occurred to Spark. "Hey Candela, is Blanche coming with us?"

    Candela sighed. "Not sure. I did tell her before I came to get you, but she just looked up and said 'I'm working'. Dunno if that meant she was gonna spend the rest of the evening doing just that or if she was actually gonna stop studying for a moment and go see. Either way she didn't want to be disturbed so I just went to get you and here we are."

    Spark nodded, and the two kept walking. Normally at this point some kind of friendly row would've somehow been created between the two of them, but today there was only silence. Candela spoke up. "Hey man, you alright? By now on any other occasion you've thrown some kind of insult at me. What's on your mind?"

    He frowned. "I've just been thinking, you know? Always bad when you think too much, I know, but once you've started it's hard to stop."

    "Mhm," Candela agreed. "That's why I gave up on deep thinking. But seeing as you didn't, I'll let you continue."

    Spark shrugged and kept going. "Today I was looking over at that convention centre they have nearby and seeing all the people walking in and out, since they've been having this huge convention and all, and I just felt kinda... sad. All those people..."

    "...and you couldn't join them." Candela finished for him. "That's what it is, right?"

    "Yeah, I guess. I keep thinking of it, and I just, I dunno... I feel worse than how I originally felt last year. Like, I know 2016 wasn't a great year for the world, and since the first time I had a good, long think about this I've grown to know and accept what I am, but all those feelings just kinda came back..."

    He felt a sharp elbow on his shoulder. "Hey Spark, it's alright. You've got me, Blanche, Willow, all the people who play this game-"

    "But that's the thing," Spark responded bitterly, his voice suddenly laced with hostility towards his female companion. "Nobody plays Pokemon GO anymore, Candela."

    She didn't have a response for that. The two kept on walking in silence, before Spark spoke up again. "Sorry. I... didn't mean to lash out like that. It's just something I know I'll never be able to fully accept, and I guess I got angry. You're right, Candela. I've got you and Blanche and Willow, at least."

    He was surprised when Candela suddenly pulled him into a tight hug. "Spark, I'll be here for you, and so will Blanche and Willow. The way we live may have its ups and downs, but it's what was given to us. And as long as there's something bright in this existence, then it's worth living for."

    She let him go. "I said that I gave up on deep thinking, but as you'd expect from, me that's just a little lie. I can't deny I've stood upon many bridges before and wondered if the world would care if I vanished. This game is dying, so why does it matter if I go along with it? It's a very easy idea to think. But the thing is, I thought about Blanche, and Willow, and you, and that's why I'm still here, because you all mean so much to me. Spark, you really are as bright as your name says. Don't ever forget that."

    The silence surrounded them once more. Spark stared at Candela for a moment before answering. "Well, I won't deny I'm still not feeling amazing, but I... I needed that, or something like that. Thanks, Candela. You mean a lot to me too."

    She smiled. "Anything for a close friend. And I guess you didn't realise, but we've made it."

    Spark turned to Candela. "The London Eye gym? Why did you hide this from me? I could literally see it from where we were standing before. It's not like I-"

    "Look at the Gym Podium," Candela insisted, "or you might miss it hatching."

    The confused look she earned in return shifted to stare at the podium. Atop the very highest one, a single egg was perched, coloured a shade of deep blue with thin white stripes forming bands around it. Just as Spark registered all this, a crack split the top of the egg.

    "There," Candela said to him, almost in a whisper. "And would you hear that? The crowd's gone wild."

    Spark took a moment to glance down from the egg and there, before his eyes, was a group of around twenty teenagers holding their phones, all dressed up in red, yellow or blue gear and cheering. He could even hear some of them yelling out in delight.

    "It's hatching! It's hatching! Guys, let's take this one down altogether."

    "Sure, but if I'm the last to tap the win's going to Team Mystic!"

    "But wouldn't it go to Instinct anyway, because, y'know, it's a freaking Zapdos?!"

    The egg cracked fully, and a searing light took over the podium, causing both Spark and Candela to take a moment to look away for fear of being blinded. As the light died down, the two looked back, and Spark gasped. There, before his very eyes, was the Pokemon he'd always searched for his whole life.

    Zapdos.

    While the teenagers may have been oblivious to it, their Pokemon were released beside them and posed, ready for battle. Arcanines, Nidokings, even the odd Charizard and Meganium could be seen among the group, all roaring and preparing attacks as they waited for their trainers to give the command.

    As the teenagers all began tapping rapidly on their phone screens, chanting for their teams and yelling out in excitement, and the Pokemon started clashing against Zapdos, Spark couldn't help but talk. "Candela, I... oh my god, thank you!"

    Candela winked at him. "No problem. We just thought you'd like to see some of the fans having a blast against the Pokemon you've always wanted to see."

    The Zapdos curved and arced in the sky, attempting to dodge the hits of the enemies below. The Charizard promptly followed behind, breathing fire onto the electrical legend, while the Meganium attempted to reach it using its powerful vines. It was a sight to behold, but a sudden thought occurred to Spark. "Wait, 'we'?"

    "Yes." A second woman's voice answered the question from behind him, and he turned to see Blanche and Professor Willow walking up towards the two of them. Blanche continued, flicking her long, white hair out of her face. "You've been seeming down since that convention's been going on, so I thought I could do something special for my next idea to discover more Pokemon."

    Willow interjected. "Well, Blanche, it was partly both of us..."

    She gave him an innocent yet mocking look. "Whatever you say. So the idea was that we could summon powerful Pokemon if we-"

    Spark laughed. "I don't care how you did it, I just can't believe you actually did! And Candela here was saying she didn't even know if you were coming..."

    Candela shrugged. "Did you really expect me to tell you the whole truth right off the bat as long as I made leg puns?"

    The four of them watched as psychic beams fired into the sky, water streams danced in the air and poisonous gases floated up to where Zapdos was rapidly growing tired. Before long the legendary bird was too tired to carry on, and soared off into the distance to find a rest spot. The group of teenagers cheered altogether, before debates started on which team claimed the win. As their cheerful bickering continued, Spark turned to his three friends.

    "You know, guys, you really are the brightest people I will ever know."
     
  2. Ambyssin

    Ambyssin Future Pika-fodder?

    I'll admit, the opening had me a bit confused. I definitely got the melancholy vibes you were going for the with the river there. And even the opening bout with that Gyarados seemed to have this sense of boredom to it. Not in a bad way, mind you. Just that it felt soulless, which I think is how you're kind of portraying Spark here at the start? The dialogue with Candela threw me a bit, though. Do friends really make flirtatious comments about each other's bodies like that? o_O

    Along those lines, like some of the judges I'm a bit confused as to how exactly the GO characters fit into the world as you've designed it. Are they computer programs that have been given some sort of sentience, but can't really interact with humans because they're just augmented reality projections? Or are they real humans who are just isolated for some reason? I kind of ran with the former theory, and figured some of this stuff was metaphorical. But Candela's bit with the other GO characters being there for Spark is a very heartwarming bit. One that we're always encouraged to attempt with depressed people, but that a lot of times doesn't actually happen.

    And then things in an uplifting fashion with the raid battle(?) against Zapdos. I was a bit surprised. I wasn't expecting the "Nobody plays GO anymore" to be, essentially, the climax, and for that to get resolved pretty quickly. I suppose if I had to make suggestions surrounding it, it'd be to extend the conversation. Typically, if someone's depressed about something (in this case, loneliness), it can be like prying teeth trying to get to the bottom of what's wrong. And maybe adding in some more coaxing on the part of Candela. Like, it's great she's so perceptive and able to pick up on Spark's issues right off the bat. But it happened so quickly it felt like I almost didn't have time to fully process it. ^^;

    Despite that, it was a nice little depression comfort piece. And that's coming from someone who's never played GO before (and had to look up the characters for the sake of Yuletide).
     
  3. Before anything else:

    I really like this opening paragraph. Hits the right balance of being descriptive enough IMO.

    I thought the idea of the GO mascots being a support system for each other was interesting, and I thought what you worked out from that was pretty good. Sure, the happy ending felt a little too optimistic given just how empty Spark and Candela feel, but it was a nice way to reinforce that they still have each other, even if it only mattered to a few.

    That said, I agree with Chibi Pika that you could’ve improved the character dynamics of the piece. In particular I would’ve liked more out of Spark’s and Candela’s internal conflicts so that the ending feels more earned and heartwarming. They discuss quite a lot in that short walk, but it seems a lot of things are left unsaid and up in the air. This is fine, actually, as I don’t think even Spark and Candela have figured out what they think about all this and chalk it up to “Hey, at least we have each other, right?”, but I would’ve liked some more from both characters in how they arrived at that mutual understanding. How have Spark and Candela talked about this before? The fact that Spark doesn’t have any noticeable reaction to Candela mentioning that she contemplated suicide meant that she’s mentioned it to him before - I guess I wanted to see the kind of connection that’s made them have a strong friendship as they do now.

    I also have to echo AmericanPi’s and Ambyssin’s comments in how I was a bit unsure about the characters’, uhh, “existence” is the right word I guess? My hunch is that they’re as much of a “hologram” as the Pokemon are to the games, and I pretty much worked with that all throughout the story, but I think a bit more about that would make it an easier and clearer read.

    But I thought this was a good take on the whole GO situation right now, and I appreciate you giving them an optimistic ending. Good job with it, and congrats on participating in the contest! :)
     
  4. Before I get into the reviews, I’d like to say that I’m still super-honoured that this got the fourth place spot. Like I know that it’s not even a podium spot and that people still have a lot of criticisms, but just the fact that people enjoyed this piece makes me happy beyond belief. Now, onto the reviews!

    Yeah, that’s kinda what I was going for there. I didn’t want the battle to take up too much time, as though it’s happened before, way too many times before. I was thinking of embodying that dead, weighty emotion you get when you’re just sad, like not because of a recent event, just because. Sorry if it made confusion, though - I did not mean to do that at all. I wanted a hint of mystery for who the man was for a bit but I think that was it.

    I dunno about all Friends, but Sera from Dragon Age: Inquisition does that a bit, and idk why but Candela gave me a Sera vibe for some reason so I just threw it in for sh*ts and giggles really because Sera’s quite cool.

    I kinda wanted to leave it up to interpretation, but I tend to lean to the former. I like to think that’s it’s a “what if” story where the AR characters are sentient and live in our world, but since they’re nothing more than AR nobody can see them. Sorry if that’s confusing too :/

    In a world where there’s literally four of you, and you see all the same stuff day after day and can’t participate in it, what else do you have, really?

    Yeah, I can see that there. I hadn’t really done a dialogue-heavy piece until this point, so I wasn’t quite sure where to go with it. With Candela I had the idea that she worked it out quickly because she was going through similar emotions and was kinda getting where Spark was coming from, but idk.

    I’m glad you you enjoyed it!

    Thanks a lot! I actually tend to find that I’m a fan of my starting paragraphs, then the rest of the story is a hit or miss depending on my mood. When I start off writing I want to get into that descriptive mindset, so I try to vividly picture what I want the setting to be, then write about it using words that I feel display the emotions I want the fic to convey. With my recent festive piece (festivities in Unova) I started with a quiet evening again, but I described it in a lighter way to display the overall happy tone of the fic. I’m glad you’re a fan!

    I kinda wanted the end to be optimistic since whenever I’m sad, often it takes a single thing for me to go “hey, things actually aren’t as bad” for however long until I’m down again. I kind of wanted to portray that bittersweet happiness I get here. So yeah, that’s why a little too happy, per se.

    I can see what you mean there. Like I said earlier, I hadn’t really done a dialogue-heavy piece until that point, so I wasn’t fully sure how to make the dynamic work properly. I did have an idea that they’d had this conversation before, but I didn’t make it clear enough in the story.

    I explained this earlier with Ambyssin’s comments, and yeah, considering the criticisms it’s might’ve been a better idea to add a little more explanation. Thanks for letting me know!

    Thanks a lot! I didn’t want a sad end since despite them being necessary in some pieces they leave an empty pit in my heart. I much prefer bittersweet endings where not everything is ok but the characters in the moment are happy, so I went for one of those instead. I’m happy you thought it was good, since I’m a huge fan of your one-shots!
     

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