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The Curious and the Shiny (OLD VERSION) [The Manifold Curiosity]

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by NebulaDreams, Mar 19, 2018.

  1. DeliriousAbsol

    DeliriousAbsol Call me Del

    About time I got around to reading this, as I've loved the art work I've seen for it! I apologies if the quote tags mess up. They've not been my friend as of late.

    Chapter 1

    A good start so far. But I am left wondering whether Shine is a luxio or a luxray? That hasn't been described soon enough, I don't think. This may just be my personal preference, however! If I hadn't seen any of your art work prior, I wouldn't know he was even in that evolution line until you mentioned the photo of him as a shinx. Although this is probably deliberate given it's set from his POV. We do find out towards the end, though, which confirms which one of his evolution line he is.



    Excellent job here. Haven't even met Curio yet, and I'm already picking up her personality even from this photo alone.

    I love the introduction of a talking pokemon. There's also a lot of intrigue with this facility. Pulled into this straight away, as I want to know what's going on here. Were the pokemon taught to talk and read? At first, the thought of an alakazam reading books was a little surprising, then I recalled they have a high IQ and likely could read. But a talking pokemon has me wondering if there's more at work here, akin to the Rats of NIMH.

    Given he's broken off the sentence, I'm wondering if an ellipses or a hyphen as opposed to a full stop might be better? Probably just a stylistic thing, but I wanted to suggest it in case you prefered the idea. It's fine as is, imo.

    Dang, I'm surprised he gave up his collar though. I wonder how his trainer will react when he finds that out?



    Ah, the problems of paws... This was kinda cute.

    Interesting how accepting other humans appear to be of Shine's ability to speak. It seems pokemon using human tongue isn't a vastly uncommon occurrence.

    Very good first chapter. I do hope he finds his friend soon, and I'm interested to see how his teaching lessons go with the goodra!

    I also like Bauble. She seems to be filled with personality. I wonder what she gets up to and whether or not she has a trainer?

    Small typos:



    'Would'

    I've noticed a few instances like this. 'She' should be written with a lower case 's' after speech, as it's a continuation of a sentence. You've done this in other areas with 'said' following a full stop instead of a ',' but I think these ones may be oversights.

    Chapter 2



    Wow, he doesn't fly well at all!! Also, it took me until now to realise Adele had gone with him. Wow, I'm slow. Thinking back, it was pretty obvious. She's not exactly gonna let him fly off on his own and risk losing her dragonite, is she? XD

    I'm a bit worried about those Thousand Claws, and it certainly explains the humans' apprehension towards Shine.

    Leafeon marking her scent is very 'animal like'. (I'm also quite amused at Shine's revulsion to the idea of taking that item off her because of it!) I quite like how you're keeping the pokemon more like animals in that regard, given how their intelligence is very human-like.



    Yikes! How big is the bar counter?!

    So many personalities in this bar, and I love it!

    More information on Thousand Claws. They sound like a right mean group. Dead ratatta bodies in the alleys? A real cat and mouse scenario, huh? The hinted horrors of GeL have caused even more intrigue, too.

    I love the details in this chapter. The chess pieces are a delight! I would actually love to see one like this in real life. I wonder what pokemon the other pieces would be based off? I'd also like to see these guys in the bar again. I really liked them (and for some reason, imagined the delphox talking a bit like Finnick from Zootopia XD )

    Little typos:

    Think this needs to be 'almost as tall as them'



    Just missing an 'and'

    Chapter 3

    Well, Shine stumbled onto some luck here coming across another lucario. Shame that then turned when he encountered the Thousand Claws!

    I wasn't expecting how things would play out with Curio. That explains her antics. I wonder if those cats will stay away for good, or come back and cause trouble later on?

    At least he found her. Hope that wound doesn't get infected though, those cats sounded filthy!

    The description of the lucario talking in animal grunts raises the suggestion that they don't say their names anime style. If that's the case, that makes Shine and other pokemon's use of human tongue much more impressive!

    Small typo I stumbled across:



    'Corner'

    This is fantastic so far. I wanted to get these reviews out first, as I still have a little way to go to catch up yet! I'm looking forward to the rest =D

    EDIT to avoid double post:

    Chapter 4

    Teaching the pikachu was adorable. I loved the description of the cafe. Sounds like somewhere I would go!

    I also quite like Curio's personality. From the way she speaks to kicking that can down the road like a tomboy. She seems to contrast with Shine, and I like that.

    Curio didn't like being asked about that interview. Can't say I blame her. Her response didn't seem jarring or out of character, either, which is great.



    Interesting. So she doesn't trust humans? I'd also like to know whether she's just assuming Shine's trainer is a 'he' or if they've met at some point. It would be an interesting twist.

    Nice to see the pokemon from the bar back! Bit of a shame Delphox didn't show himself, but Quilladin's reaction was funny XD man, Chess is a hard game.



    The cuteness!!



    All these supporting characters are written so well, and each have memorable personalities. I know similar things have been said by other reviewers, but I wanted to echo it as it's really fantastic. The whole cast just feels alive.

    Ooh, Curio wants to fight him. There really is a lot of history being hinted at here that makes me just want to keep on reading and find out what went down between these two, and what seems to have gotten Curio's gogoat.

    Some typos:



    'of'



    'she'

    Chapter 5

    Aww, Shine and Curio are adorable together!

    That fight was rather quick, poor Shine! I was kinda expecting him to win, but she practically one-shot him! XD Just to blow off some steam. I'm glad they made up and are heading back together.

    Its a shame this might be the last we see of these side characters (although, I won't be surprised if they come back at some point.) However, I have faith any other characters you introduce will be just as memorable and well crafted!



    'built'

    Chapter 6

    This was a fun chapter with Curio's fun and games with the shopping cart! Moments like this really give us an insight into their characters and just how drastically different they are.



    Not sure if this is a typo meant to read 'as if their lives depended on it', or if it's deliberately worded to make it sound like Accendare is a flying death trap. Given their reactions, it fits! Brought it up just in case.

    Some typos:



    'wanderin''



    'each'?

    Chapter 7



    Trying to picture a dragonite making a daisy chain. It must be pretty delicate work! I love that little detail, keeping her paws busy. (Plus, daisies are pretty tiny! So she's obviously careful despite her size!) It makes things feel natural, as not everyone sits idly while nattering.

    I'd like to say, I really don't want to be involved in any games with a goodra or any of its kin. I mean... imagine a gigantic slug throwing slime at you? cringe



    Yikes! Not something one often things about amid the fluffy Pokemon Anime-verse. I do like how Shine is disturbed by this. Maybe because he's more domesticated?

    Curio is as blunt as ever with poor Remy. I like how he took that on the chin! I couldn't help but be amused at Curio acting like a dog as the children pet her, though. It was surprising, too, as I'd have expected Shine to be more up for being petted as opposed to Curio. There is so much to these two characters!

    Some typos:



    'herself'



    I think you're missing 'him' here?



    'looking'

    Chapter 8

    Interesting chapter. Curio seems very sceptical of humans, and rather disrespectful too. It makes it difficult to full-on like her in this chapter, but that's fine. I'm interested to find out what it was that led her to how she is now.

    It's nice seeing more of Tony. He's very patient, and accepting of Shine's desires to run off and find his old friend. Maybe we'll find out the details of how he met Shine later on?

    Small typo I found:



    Missing who she gave it to.

    This is a cool story, and I look forward to more. I hope things go well for you with job hunting and Uni and such!
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2018
    NebulaDreams likes this.
  2. NebulaDreams

    NebulaDreams A Dense Irritating Miniature Beast of Burden

    @Marika_CZ, @Chibi Pika and @DeliriousAbsol, I can't express enough how thankful I am for your comments. It's really gratifying to know how well the characters have clicked with you all and the amount of intrigue you have for the story here so far.

    It's been a while, but I'm back with a batch of new chapters, which I'll be releasing over the course of the next 9-10 weeks, since I have 10 new chapters in the pipeline. This is a new direction for me in terms of my story, so I hope it has paid off here.


    ---

    The Curious and the Shiny Chapter 9: Oh Wait, We're Recording?

    I owe a lot to Mom for leading me to this path. Of course, said path was formed with my blood, sweat and tears, but if it wasn’t for her, I probably wouldn’t have gone to GeL or had any interest in human life for that matter. She was my rock, a good friend of mine, and above all else, a great storyteller.

    So in that way, why not start it off with a story she told me? She was the sort of Pokemon who could speak for hours on end and you wouldn’t get bored, but it took a while for her to hit her stride. Before, she would either keep you up all night with stories of hunts gone awry, tales of bloodshed and other sob stories, or lull you to sleep with those about compassion between strangers, unexpected comforts in the wild and all that other sweet crap. The ones I remember the most had the best of both.

    That’s probably why I remember what she said, word for word, as she told it many times to me and my three brothers, plus my Dad if he ever bothered to pop in. We would sit around a campfire in the middle of our island under a tarp roof Dad brought from the mainland, huddled in one spot deep inside the forest, come rain or shine.

    Out of respect, I guess I better give all my relatives names. For most Pokemon, names have little importance as they’re abstract, not something you can smell or hunt. My family deserves more than that though. The two youngest were Twig and Stumpy (Both Riolus), the eldest was Trunks (A Lucario), and then there were my parents. Mom didn’t have a name, but if any name was fitting for her, it would be Ruti, but she’ll still be Mom for now. Dad though was another case, but I’ll get to that later.

    Okay, maybe I’m not that creative with names. Cut me a break.

    Anyway, that night, she went through her usual rota of stories, either tragic or hilarious, and while some of them were fairly new and kept our tails on the ground, we tuned out whenever she went through something we heard one too many times. Except for Twig. The runt was entertained regardless of what you told him.

    Before that though, none of her stories had names as a lot of them were interchangeable. Maybe she didn’t feel as if they deserved them. That all changed when she announced this particular story would be called ‘Wild Brides and Shifting Tides’, the first to have a name. As she did so, the light of the fire reflected in both her red and green eyes, adding even more to the announcement. It brought us out of our slumber and we gave her our undivided attention. Keep in mind that some of the stuff kind of translates poorly to the human tongue, so think of this as my version. I won’t take credit for it, I ain’t trying to steal.

    Firstly, there was a wild bride,
    who bore multi-coloured eyes and an unkempt hide.
    She would venture into alien territories
    and listen to those smooth-skinned beings’ stories,
    Of those who wished to be the best and most wealthy,
    those who wanted to travel and those who wished to be healthy.
    She would listen for days, enthralled by their song,
    and wishing deep down that she could become one.

    Secondly, there was the melancholic groom
    whose eyes were a dull red, but fur fine as a bundled broom.
    He had lived amongst those alien creatures
    who once acted as his guardians and teachers,
    only to be released into the wild yonder,
    and with no one to care for him, he left to aimlessly wander.
    He would hunt alone with a void growing in his heart,
    and wished to find someone to bond with, to make a new start.

    One day, the bride met one such alien up close,
    face furious and frightening, and clad in dark clothes,
    he summoned a beast, one devoid of compassion,
    as it clawed at the poor bride in such a ruthless fashion.
    It overpowered her and left her in a state of rapture,
    wracked with bruises and cuts, she was doomed for capture,
    then the wanderer heard her cries,
    and dashed to her as swiftly as a Wingull to the skies.
    He stood between the bride and the beast,
    warding it and the alien off, at last she was at peace.

    When she next awoke, her body felt anew,
    as if a spell had been cast on her, it ended all so soon,
    the wanderer stood before her, offering his paw,
    and for the rest of their days, they ventured together forevermore.


    We sat there stunned. While most of us were still trying to process what we heard, Stumpy of course started sobbing, which ruined the mood a little. Trunks tried to comfort him by rubbing his back. It worked, and eventually Stumpy worked his way down to sniffling every once in a while. A minor improvement. Regardless, when Mom asked us if we enjoyed it, we all said it was the best she ever told. Even though Twig was easy to please, he had to ask what it all meant. Any Riolu with half a brain could’ve put two and two together and figured out who the characters of the story were.

    Although most of my siblings didn’t question the meaning of the story as far as I knew, I was curious about the aliens she talked about in her story. I could tell she meant the alien wasn’t a Pokemon, but if that was the case, what was it? The sort of things she talked about like the smooth skin and the clothes were new to me, so I wanted to find out about it.

    When it was time to sleep, me and my siblings settled down for the night, and I closed my eyes. Yet, I couldn’t sleep. That was a first. No matter what I did to try and lull myself back to sleep, repeating one of the other stories Mom told me about a Skitty who ate that rare berry once and had the best dream in its short lifespan afterwards (not a very interesting story to be honest), her story kept coming back to me. Damn her. If the lines didn’t have so much rhythm and flow, I probably wouldn’t have obsessed over it so much. I tossed and turned for what must’ve been an hour before I decided I had enough.

    I opened my eyes again, staring at the swaying leaves that blocked the sky, then I stood up, slinking past my sleeping siblings and taking care not to trip over their tails. I went looking for Mom. I needed answers.

    At night, my parents usually did whatever they felt like doing while we slept. During the day, they would look after us, teach us how to sustain ourselves on the island when they eventually passed away, played with us on the treetops or by the sea, or helped us fish for food for the day.

    Just to digress a bit, there weren’t a lot of food choices on the island. Nothing inhabited it beside us, so there was little to hunt. I remember when Dad tried to teach all of us a bit about farming after he planted some seeds he gathered from the mainland and told us to wait for it to grow while remembering to give it water from the lake from time to time. No matter how much he tried, nothing grew, so he ruled it out as the land not being fertile enough for any crops. I didn’t really understand what he meant at the time so I just went along with it.

    I could end the story here and say my family starved to death and I survived by eating them, but thankfully, there was always Magikarp around for us to gather.

    They swam close to the shoreline and because of that, we didn’t have to hold our breaths to catch them. We would grab them with our paws and bite down on their necks so they wouldn’t flail around. Nice and easy. After that, my parents would take our findings and debone them. It was extra effort as we could’ve just as easily eaten them raw, but my parents preferred to make dishes out of them, particularly skewers and steaks, which they cooked over the fire. If we were particularly lucky, we would find an Octillery, gang up on it and make a meal out of that. Those tasted even better. Now I mention it, I could murder an Octillery right now.

    Crap, I’m getting a bit sidetracked, aren’t I?

    In any case, I searched for my parents on the outer rim, which didn’t take very long. Even though I couldn’t quite read thoughts yet, the aura still connected me with everyone on the island as we shared a link together. We were never too far away as the island wasn’t particularly big; you could decide to go on a hike around its perimeter in the morning and there would still be plenty of sun after you were finished. I ran towards their wavelengths then crept behind a tree as the two rough-housed in a patch of grass. This was how they usually de-stressed after a day looking after our own scrawny asses. It wasn’t something they liked to have interrupted. I couldn’t wait, though. I rushed into the fray, climbing on top of Dad’s head as he was charging up an aura sphere.

    “Hey, hey, hey!” he shouted, grasping at his head to catch me. He picked me up by the skin of my neck like some ragdoll. “What are you doing here so late?”

    “Well,” I said, “Ya looked like you were having fun, so I thought I’d join ya!”

    Dad shook his head and smiled, turning me over to meet my mother’s gaze.

    “How should we punish her then?”

    Mom, always the one to come up with stuff on the fly, flashed that toothy grin of hers.

    “Throw her in the ocean and have her sleep with the fishes?”

    “No please!” I pleaded in mock horror, “Anythin’ but that!”

    Dad let me go without warning and I fell on my ass. While I nursed my tail, the two stood before me, arms crossed.

    “Seriously, pup,” he said, “Your kind should be sleeping by now. Why are you here?”

    “Well, I can’t stop thinkin’ about the story Mama told me.”

    “That’s it? If I knew it would give you nightmares, I wouldn’t have asked her to tell it.”

    I stood up, waving my paws in the air.

    “No, no! It wasn’t scary or anythin’, I loved it! I can’t stop thinkin’ about the lines and I can’t rest cause of that, and it won’t let up til I find out what they’re about and—“

    “Okay,” my mother stopped me, “I see what you mean. What did you want to ask?”

    “The aliens and such. I know the rest actually happened to you two, but it hurts my head to think about what they’re supposed to be.”

    At that moment, I picked up a sharp change of emotions emanating from Dad’s aura. It was an awful mix of fear and sadness, although his face didn’t change. What he was actually thinking about, I had no idea. I have a hunch now though, but that’s for another time.

    Mom picked me up and stroked my ears.

    “Honey, I’d like to talk with her alone for a bit.”

    He gestured a paw for her to come closer to him, and he whispered in her ears. I tried to lean in to listen, but they pulled away before anything could reach me. Then, Mom came towards me and carried me over towards the sea away from Dad, sitting on a rocky area. She looked at me with a caring aura.

    “How much do you know about both our pasts?”

    “Well, not a lot, you never chatted to me about it, but there’s a lot about ‘em in the stories. I know there’s more out there, with all kindsa Pokemon with different looks from ours, not just on this rock. Them Magikarps had to come from somewhere.”

    “Well spotted, dear.” She turned to face the ocean, waves illuminated by the moonlight. “We’re in a series of islands known as, well, it’s not easily explained.” She meant an archipelago. “Even bigger than that, we’re in the region known as Sinnoh, a large cluster of land. That’s where the aliens live.” She turned to face me again. “Well, that’s a little bit of a lie.”

    “Aw c’mon,” I said, eyeing her with scorn. “Why’d you lie?”

    She sighed, giving me a pat on the back.

    “It’s mostly to do with Dad. He has some memories he doesn’t want to dig up. But let’s say aliens aren’t the correct word for them. Rather, they’re humans.”

    I won’t go through every detail of what she said as it’s common sense to any Pokemon who hasn’t been living under a rock, let alone a human, but she went on to explain what they were like. Smooth skinned, wore clothes, grew facial hair, could mostly walk on two legs and bla bla bla. Then she went on to explain how the world worked and what Pokemon were to them.

    “Why do they want to capture us?” I said.

    “So they can train us and take us along with them on their quest to be the best, whatever that’s supposed to mean.”

    “Doesn’t sound fun.”

    To that, Mom laughed, pulling me closer to her.

    “I never thought it would be much fun either, and I’m glad I was never captured. Your father, however, didn’t really have much choice.”

    At that point, a light switch went off in my head. I thought back to the story and the info she gave me on the true nature of those aliens, or rather, humans. Mom must’ve read my thoughts since she squeezed me tightly, even closer to her.

    “So I shouldn’t trust them?”

    “It’s complicated. Maybe if things were different, but let’s just say that you should avoid them for now. They shouldn’t come anywhere close to this island, and if they do, your father will chase them off, you hear?”

    I hummed in reply and rubbed my head. It was a lot to take in. Then, Mom pulled me away from her and put both paws on my shoulders, locking me in her gaze.

    “I can see you’re confused so I’ll leave it there for now. If you’re curious to find out more, let me know and we can talk some more at night, or even with your eldest brother if you wanted as he’s had his share of experience. But,” she moved her paws up to hold my head, “Please don’t talk about this with anyone else, especially not your father. The others don’t need to know yet and he doesn’t want to relive those memories. Keep thinking back to that story and what I told you if you have trouble understanding. Am I clear?”

    I was speechless. My gut still told me to ask more, but I could take a hint, so I nodded, if it gave me any excuse for her to stop leering at me.

    “Good,” she said, “Now, go get some sleep.”

    Before I went, she pulled me in again and craned her head to lick me on the face, then let me go for me to make my own way back to our den. Thankfully, no one else was awake to ask me what I was doing up so late, so I curled up back into my spot and rehearsed the story again in my head. After a few repeats, a pang of anger welled inside me. Was that really what life was like outside that island? What would happen if one of those humans came down to our island? Or worse, what would happen if they met me? Over time, I got more tired as the questions faded into the background, and I went to sleep not long after.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2018
  3. Marika_CZ

    Marika_CZ Well-Known Member

    Welcome back @NebulaDreams !

    Well, this is one of those chapters that is hard to review. I have very little specific to say, mostly because this is a new arc. In fact, technically speaking it counts like a new story, because Curio in her Riolu form is basically a different character, all the others are new characters and the old ones will not be returning (for some time anyway).

    So this sort of has a feel of Chapter 1 and as such it is hard to say much - new characters are introduced and a setting is established, but we don't know much about them. That being said, so far so good. I am interested in what exactly happened on the island and how will Curio end up getting mixed up with GeL (btw. for some crazy reason I keep imagining GeL as Cerberus scientists from Mass Effect series). Curio's father having some dark past is a good initial hook (Like father like daughter, eh? Also, another dark past!! Now you really need to reveal at least one of those! Stop torturing us, you! lol jk)

    So yeah, my "yay" or "nay" and the usual nitpicking will depend mostly on how the story arc grows from here in future chapters.

    Oh and the bla bla bla should have been blah blah blah methinks ;)
     
    NebulaDreams likes this.
  4. NebulaDreams

    NebulaDreams A Dense Irritating Miniature Beast of Burden

    Thanks for the comment, @Marika_CZ. It is a bit of a different direction for me, but I'm glad you've enjoyed the first of what's to come, and hope that enjoyment stays with you throughout this arc. :)

    ---

    The Curious and the Shiny Chapter 10. My First Weird Encounter

    I didn’t bother asking any more questions for quite some time. For a while, everything fell into a routine as we hunted Magikarp as normal, we playfighted as normal, we told stories as normal, we slept as normal, repeat and repeat. Although I was satisfied with the answers I got and faced every day as it came, over time, a pit grew in my stomach and I didn’t realise what this hunger was until I saw a bird Pokémon perch itself atop the trees as I walked across the shore. It probably knew there was more out there, and that’s what I felt was missing, the sense of being connected to the rest of the world.

    I felt a burning sensation in my paws and sprang towards the forest, climbing to the treetops in no time. That’s when I saw a Pokémon a few trees away, preening its feathers. I balanced myself on one of the highest tree branches and jumped from tree to tree in an effort to get close to it. Soon enough, I was within paws length of it.

    Now, some details for me are a bit fuzzy, since it was a long time ago and I don’t remember every weird looking thing under the sun, but if memory serves me correctly, I believe it was a Wingull I saw. It had that same blue streak across its coat, after all.

    Anyway, it eyed me cautiously, and suddenly, I felt giddy. This was my chance to find out about the outside world. My chance to talk with something else other than Riolu and Lucario. Who knows. Maybe as a bonus, I could’ve hunted it and brought it back for my parents to cook. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, after all.

    “Hey, can you tell me what’s out there?” I asked. It just blinked.

    “More idiots like you asking us random questions.”

    “That’s it? C’mon, there has to be somethin’ else.”

    It took flight and fluttered above me. Then, a white runny liquid hit the top of my head and ran down my face. I don’t need to mention what it was.

    Panicked, I lost my footing and fell off the branch. I got smacked by all sorts of different branches on the day down until a bush broke my fall, not without scratching me with those brambly bits. To say I was sore afterwards was an understatement. Nothing was broken, thank his holy ass, just bruised and battered all over. To add insult to injury, I stank. I had to get the acrid stench off of me as soon as I could, so I limped to the closest stream I could find in the forest running from the lake and dunked my head in it several times to wash it off. Even after I rinsed off the droppings, a whiff of it still lingered.

    Pro tip number one: if you talk to any unknown Pokémon unannounced, especially bird Pokémon, they probably won’t stick around for the conversation. At best, you’ll get a face full of bird seed.

    I ran my paws through my coat to find all sorts of splinters sticking to it. I tried to pick most of it off but I wasn’t sure if it had gotten in places I couldn’t reach. I had to get them out or they probably would’ve gotten septic, even though I had no idea what ‘septic’ meant at the time. It was something Trunks told me after all.

    Lo and behold, I picked up his aura not too far off, straight from the path of the stream into the lake. Although my legs were sore, I found my way there without trouble. He had already occupied himself, meditating by the lake at the edge of the bank. The tire swing swayed lightly in the breeze far away. Once I stepped into the clearing, he turned around and scoffed.

    “Alright,” he said, “What trouble have you gotten into now?”

    I scratched my back.

    “I got splinters in my butt.”

    “Seriously? Alright, come here then.”

    I sat on the bank beside him, dipping my paws into the water, and Trunks started combing through my fur.

    “You don’t always need to climb so high, you know.”

    “And what’s the problem? I was just takin’ a peek up there.”

    “Yes, but you’re going to break your neck if you keep falling.” He paused as he pulled out something brambly behind me. I winced. “And you could use a long bath too.”

    I sat in silence while he kept checking for splinters, and I thought back to what Mom had told me a while back.

    “Tell me, why do you want to get off the island?”

    “How’d you know?”

    “Your aura, of course.”

    “Well, why not?” I said, kicking the water, “I wanna see the world out there.”

    “There’s nothing out there but predators and starvation. That’s all.”

    “Aw c’mon, Mama told me you had experience out there before, can’t you tell me more?”

    “No. Trust me when I say you don’t need to know.”

    I pulled myself away from his grasp and turned to him, giving him those little Riolu eyes.

    “Please? I swear I won’t be upset or anythin’. I kinda know the world sucks already, so at least tell me more about that.”

    He brushed a few more shavings off my coat, then leaned in closer to the point where his muzzle touched mine, gazing at my with those eyes. Those blood red eyes. Even when it’s coming from your own kind, the glare of a Lucario can still send shivers down your spine.

    “Alright, you want to know how the world out there works? You’re completely on your own, with the threat of death lurking all around you. You must always be on alert, never letting your guard down for a moment, or else...”

    He clapped, snapping me out of his trance.
    “You’re gone.”

    He stared into the lake ahead of us, and up to the hanging tire.

    “There was a family, just like us, who we kept company for a little while. Some of them were just about your age. They still had to look out for themselves, as whenever we rested, we had to cover our own families in shifts to make sure nothing else lurked around. One such Lucario, who was supposed to be on shift for that night, forgot about it and rested with his family. We were woken up by their screams, and when we came to check on them, they...”

    Trunks’ voice trailed off and he rubbed his eyes, taking a deep, ragged breath. I looked on, wanting to get closer to him, but pulling away. I didn’t really know how to comfort him in times like that. So I waited for him to pull himself together, and in time, he looked at me once more, resting his paw on mine.

    “Out here, you don’t have to worry about any of that. You have a constant food source. There are no tall creatures with poisonous claws lurking about. There are none of those bastards invading our habitats either. Both Mom and Dad worked so hard to get us here, and now here we are, living in peace. You should be thankful for that.”

    “Yeah, I am. But isn’t every day here kinda the same? Don’t you get bored?”

    “Well,” he hesitated, and I felt a tinge of sadness in his aura if I didn’t already, “I would be lying if I said this isn’t boring, but I’d rather be that instead of in some other creature’s stomach.”

    I opened my mouth to say something but decided against it. I knew he was right. From the stories Mom told and all that, I thought of myself in his shoes. Well, you know we don’t wear them, but you know what I mean. I imagined myself on my own, defending myself from creatures much faster, stronger and less caring than me, as I would later find out first hand. Still, there was that itch to find out, like sticking your paw in a Combee’s nest.

    Mercifully, he let me go and patted my back, letting me know it was okay to move on before he got stuck in another one of his rants. He smiled to me.

    “There, it should be fine now. Make sure to clean those wounds or else they’ll get infected.”

    “Okay,” I said, and took a dip in that lake. I closed my eyes and let myself float on the surface, water lapping gently at my face, with Trunks meditating in the background.

    You know, I never got why certain Pokémon are so obsessed with meditating. I never saw the need for it in GeL, unlike some other Pokémon, and later than that, I found myself training with some withering old Medicham on a whim, and it was ass-numbingly boring, literally. Why would any Pokémon or human think it helps to sit still, doing nothing for hours on end? Whoever came up with the idea should’ve been thrown into the sea from up high.

    When I opened my eyes next, I noticed Trunks was gone, so I thought I’d go off on my own and swim out. It still hurt to walk, but nevertheless, I skipped through the woods and felt an even stronger resolve in me. I had to find a way off the island somehow. I was sure I could’ve taken what the world threw at me. Or was I? Trunks’ story still lingered in my head, following my around like a homing cloud, but still, if I didn’t find out what obstacles the outside world entailed, I never would’ve been satisfied. All I had to do was search the island for a route to the closest neighbouring bit of land and go from there. I skipped for a while, unaware of where I was heading.

    When I finally came out of the woods into the shore, that’s when I saw it for the very first time with my own eyes. It was a human.

    I froze at the sight of it. Or rather, she and her Prinplup. Again, I didn’t know at the time what species it was exactly, but with that beak and that deep blue body, it does kind of narrow it down. But yeah. I don’t know what I expected humans to look like, even when Mom gave me an idea of their appearance. She made it sound like they were monsters, but to me, they just seemed like another species, like a Pokémon. Although I didn’t know it yet, she was a trainer, just like Mom said: she grew hair, wore clothes and had smooth skin. She was dripping wet for whatever reason and didn’t have a lot of clothes covering her.

    For that moment, time stood still. When she saw me, she whispered something to that blue Pokémon of hers and it stood in front of her in a battle stance.

    I realised the kind of situation I was in rather quickly. I was about to get into a fight and I was still standing there, dumbstruck. At the same time though, there was a chance they only looked to defend themselves from a wild Pokémon, and only acted out of survival instinct. I had questions as well, and driving them to attack me was the last thing I wanted to happen. A friendly approach seemed better than a pointless fight after all. I snapped out of my headspace and called out to them, waving a paw in the air. The Prinplup eased its stance a little and I slowly approached them. The girl’s expression was still a little unsure.

    “I’m not gonna harm y’all,” I said, “I just wanna talk, okay?”

    The Prinplup held its paw out to the trainer. It could’ve been a ceasefire or a command to attack, but thankfully the trainer smiled, letting me know we were at peace with each other. She crouched so she could be at my level.

    She then went on to speak. Her mouth moved, but I couldn’t understand a word of what she said, but either way, her voice was reassuring and warm in a way you wouldn’t get from a Riolu or Lucario, which mostly sounds like we’re hacking up hairballs.

    Anyway, she chuckled and started petting my head. Those hands. Joy overtook reason and I growled the same way I would've with Mom. Then that squawky voice had to ruin the moment.

    "Ugh, I'm going to vomit."

    I couldn't hear what the human was saying, but the way they went back and forth with each other as if they understood each other seemed strange to me.

    "Wait," I said, "Can you understand her?"

    The Prinplup scoffed.

    "Yeah, duh."

    "No duh! Can she understand you though?"

    "Nope. She just has a good ear for disapproval."

    That was a let down. Even if Mom told me beforehand, I wasn't used to being ignored like that. Still, that wouldn't stop me from getting my way if I could make the Prinplup relay what I said back to her, somehow. The trainer continued petting me.

    "How'd you get here?" I asked.

    "Surfed here."

    "Surfed? Nevermind. Say, can you take me with you for a bit? Just for a little, tiny bit. I wanna come back here though."

    The Prinplup put his flipper on the girl's shoulder and pointed to her belt, then back to me. I looked up to see several shiny balls coloured red and white. No points for guessing what their purpose was. I didn't know at the time so I just stared at them until the trainer pulled away from me. She smiled and said something else in that same warm tone, then pulled out on of those balls and held it in front of me. She looked at me expectantly, pointing to the Pokéball she held up. I raised my paw to it.

    I wonder what would've happened had I touched that Pokéball and went with her. She seemed nice, after all. I probably would've avoided all the stuff that happened at GeL beforehand. Maybe we could've spent the rest of our days together if she was planning on taking me. But I wouldn't be here talking right now and I wouldn't have met you guys if I did.

    "GET AWAY!" Dad's voice resounded through the air. The trainer broke off from me and in turn, I looked to Dad as he dashed towards the two. Not knowing what else to do, I ran away from them, getting as far as I could in the way of the ensuing battle.

    Without prompt, Dad threw an aura sphere at the Prinplup's head. He blocked it with a flipper, knocking him back several places. The trainer ran to his place and pointed at Dad, shouting a command of some sort. He spouted a stream of water from his mouth. It was quick, but Dad was quicker, dodging to the side as he threw a punch at his face. It hit. Even when the Prinplup fell to the floor, Dad still didn't stop. Punch after punch, the Prinplup could only shield himself. Then, the girl stood between them.

    I could see how fearful she was through her pained expression and her aura. When you're faced with a creature that has freaking spikes in their paws, you're pretty much at their mercy. Nevertheless, she spoke in a calm voice to him, although I wasn't sure how much good it would do. Would he even understand her?

    "Get out," he said in human tongue. Those were the first words I understood in human. He said it so plainly, yet from his aura, I knew he was hiding a massive amount of anger, so it had an impression on me.

    She helped the Prinplup to his feet and departed not long after, setting sail on its back to surf across the sea.

    I stood in silence. I hadn't seen Dad act like that before, not even when he was telling us off. Then, he walked towards me, still having that raging look on his face. My heart quickened a bit as he approached. I bet he could've killed me right then and there if he willed it to. Then, he knelt down and picked me up, cradling me in his paws.

    "Are you alright, young pup?"

    "Yeah, I guess."

    "Good." He gently lifted me down to the rocky floor and I saw his expression was a bit more relaxed, although those red eyes still stared into my soul. "In the future, if you're ever to meet one of those things again, run as far as you can. Don't go up to them. If they let them capture you, they will make your life a living hell, do you understand?"

    I didn't know what to say at the time so I just nodded and went along with it. My family came not long after, giving me lots of relieved hugs, and we had a big serving of Grilled Magikarp not long after. We ended the night with our usual set of stories and all was well again. Well, sort of. Despite what Dad told me, meeting a human for the first time wasn't even a bad experience, a far cry from what Mom made it out to be. That itch inside still nagged at me, and it was something that could only be scratched by meeting another human again. Those thoughts within me faded away as I dozed off.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2018
  5. Marika_CZ

    Marika_CZ Well-Known Member

    So, chapter 10! Basically the whole point is to give Curio reason to leave the island (as she probably will in the next chapter) while meeting both other Pokemon and humans for the first time. Importantly we see that she doesn't see humans as a threat (despite her parents' warning) which will probably lead into her capture / invitation to GeL.
    I said before, Curio was basically a new character here... but maybe I should take it back :D I see a lot of familiar traits in her here already - she is very brash, curious, independent and wants to travel. All that is left is agressivive attitude, scepticism and fighting experience (something tells me GeL will be responsible for those).

    Her encouter with the Wingull who literally shitted on her was funny, but I would change this little part (yeah yeah, it is a nitpick, I admit):
    As much as it was funny this technique would be fitting for a blog or commentary; it doesn't feel right in the actual prose.

    Besides Curio we also get to learn a bit more about her father through his reaction to (and an action scene with) the Prinplup and their trainer. We don't know exactly what happened in his past but you make a good job of subtly implying approximately what happened (provided this was intentional of course) - it seems like a case of a cruel or irresponsible trainer.

    The dialogue was good too; interestingly I noticed many of it felt gritty and unplesant, as if everyone in the world is constantly miserable or annoyed (The Wingul would give Curio middle finger if he could, and ended up giving her somehting even more unpleasant; the Prinplup treated Curio like a stupid, ugly idiot etc.). Only the human trainer and Curio's brother seemed to say something nice or neutral. It is not wrong, I was just curious if there was a reason for this, or if it was a coincidence?

    Characters besides Curio (and maybe her father) aren't that fleshed out, but it is justified: They are obviously temporary and we won't be with them long so you tell us only the stuff that is actually relevant to Curio's POV. So no issues there, but I hope we will meet lots of interesting characters soon (this was btw one of the strongest points of Act 1, even the minor characters were very colorful).

    I am also itching to get out of the island and see what happens to Curio next. This is just my preference, but I feel like two chapters were enough to establish her humble beginnings ;)

    Overall, good read and looking forward to see more of Curio's adventures. See ya in Ch11!
     
    NebulaDreams likes this.
  6. NebulaDreams

    NebulaDreams A Dense Irritating Miniature Beast of Burden

    Thanks again, Marika_CZ. I was a little concerned about the pacing as well, but I think that's due to this arc having more slice-of-life elements than the last one, plus, I believe the chapters are better viewed as a whole instead of through the sum of its parts. For that reason, I will be posting the remaining chapters spent on the titular island two times a week instead of one, so the wait in between chapters isn't stretched too thin.

    ---

    The Curious and the Shiny Chapter 11. Bottoms Up, Bro

    The next time I encountered a human must've been a while after the last one. Well, two humans to be exact. I don't know how long the gap was, maybe only a season, but it felt like a year.

    The day started when we tried to cool off from a recent fish hunt. We brought our findings to our parents, who thanked us and let us run off to wherever, so we decided to go to the lake again where the tire swing waited. It was another one of the island’s curiosities alongside the tarp, since you know, tires don’t grow on trees. To this day, I kind of question how Dad managed to bring all the stuff there, but young me didn’t care as it was for swinging on, not pondering on. I went on top and held onto the rope as Stumpy kicked the tire in the air, pushing me into the air and letting me swing for a bit.

    Brings me back, that does. I remember it being nice, as sometimes, it felt like I was flying. But with the thoughts of escape still following me around, as well as the bird type Pokémon that flew carefree in the air already, it was close to being free, and yet, so far. Wait, I did say it wasn’t for pondering on, didn’t I? Well then, forget what I said.

    Stumpy must’ve noticed a little bit of my aura, just a little as he wasn’t any better than me than reading emotions, as he moved out the way, slowing me down.

    “I didn’t say stop, did I?” I said, spinning around on the tire.

    “Yeah, I know, but why’re you feeling so sad lately?”

    The little glimpses I caught of his face as I spun around told me he was worried.

    “Aw, it’s nothin’ to lose sleep over.”

    “It’s not that human from before, is it?”

    “What?” I waited for the right moment to jump, then leapt off to the land where Stumpy stood. “No, not at all. Really, that was the most interestin’ thing I’d seen in a while.

    “They’re not interesting, they’re dangerous. Papa doesn’t want you going near them.”

    I groaned. At often times, Stumpy would repeat something along the lines of ‘Dad doesn’t want you doing this’, which is fair enough. Hearing it repeated several times over got annoying, and seeing how little brothers generally behave over the years to others, they tend to get under your skin.

    “So what does Papa want you to do?”

    He put his paw on his chin as if he was seriously thinking hard about what I just said. “Um, he wants me to be good, and stuff.”

    I grinned at him. “Would you eat his own crap if he told you it tasted nice?”

    “Ew, no!” he said, laughing.

    “Well then,” I reached down to him, locking him in a hold and knuckled his head while he chuckled, “Don’t do everythin’ he tells you to do.”

    “Stop!” He pulled away, rubbing his head. “You hurt, sis.”

    “Oh, you baby.” I glanced at the hanging tire in front of us. “Want me to push you?”

    “Yeah,” he said, climbing on top of the rubbery object, “Not too hard, though.”

    And so, it was my turn to do the rounds. I kicked once and watched the tire fly up with Stumpy hanging onto the rope for dear life. He was clearly not meant for big heights as he howled in the air, but if there’s anything I’ve learned over the years, there’s a thin line between excitement and fear, and he was on the left side of that line. I stepped back whenever the tire swang towards me, as one wrong move would’ve knocked me on my ass, and continued kicking it forward, sending it further into the air.

    Stumpy must’ve called me to do something, but since he was so far up, I didn’t hear him. So when he came down once more, I kicked at the tire, only for Stumpy to be knocked off balance, making him fall into the lake. He hit the water with his back to the surface, creating a loud slap. I winced. Even I felt that one. I waited for him to swim up, and he did, only to start wailing. He continued crying as he swam to the edge of the bank.

    “I told you to slow down! I’m telling Mama about this!”

    I tried to reach over to him to calm him down, but he batted my paw away from him. He ran, disappearing into the forest. I shrugged and made my own way to the shore. It was best to leave him be during one of his fits.

    ---

    I went wandering through the stony shore again, which must've been the tenth or twentieth time since I met the last human. The sun often bored down on the rocks, so it used to burn my paws on the first hundred paces. It felt nice once I got used to it. Since then, I had been around the island enough times to know where the landmarks were, what little it had, and could've mapped it out if you gave me a pencil and a pad.

    Problem was, it was nice and all knowing where everything was in your head, but being able to make it a physical thing would've helped me understand the terrain more. Another problem was marking and remembering each island that looked the closest. Measuring was easy. You could put one finger at the end of your paw on the horizon and flex the end of the other to where the height of the island ended. Whichever you had to flex the farthest was the closest. But with no way to mark where each island was in relation to this one and what point you had to be on the shore to be the closest to a neighbouring island, it was just guesswork. I would trust my intuition though, as my legs never failed me when it came to swimming. I could’ve swam for hours and not have gotten tired, after all.

    I must've walked a few hours on the edge of the shore until I saw those two humans I talked about earlier. I wasn't even sure of what they were from that distance; they could've passed for a couple of tree branches for all I knew. But once I got within a rock throwing distance of them and saw what they truly were, just a young couple sunbathing on the rocks, I retreated back into the forestry.

    Despite how much I wanted to stick it to my old Mon, his nagging voice telling me to 'run as far as you can' drilled into my head and followed me around like a swarm of Combees. Still, I wanted to see what they were up to, even though my heart was pounding. I crept carefully through the forest, tip-toeing over the bark and weaving through any felled trees. Eventually I could see them again, watching their movements while I hid behind a tree. They weren't really doing anything you'd consider interesting, just lying in the sun and talking to one another. Even for our own kind, that was something we naturally did, except we couldn't get a tan. Poor us, I guess.

    Anyway, I wanted to know more about what they were talking about, so I stood still, focusing solely on their voices. Even with the disquiet of the island, from that distance, it was impossible to listen in on their conversation. All I could hear were little slithers of sound too vague to string into words. Not like I could've understood what they were saying anyway. But Dad had spoken two words in their language and I understood them. I must've been able to learn to listen to it eventually.

    So, it was my resolve to get closer to the couple, padding carefully through the shore so I wouldn't cause a scene. I didn't need Dad interfering again. Well, he might've saved my skin that one time, but I still wouldn't take no for an answer.

    Something I didn't notice before was that, floating on the surface of the water, was something white and round with big pointed bits of canvas hanging up it. I didn't know what they were used for at the time, but I think it was like a boat or a dinghy or something. Feel free to correct me later if I'm completely wrong.

    As I got closer, I could finally listen to what the two were talking about. Both of their voices were croaky and sounded much older than the previous human I encountered. I wanted to step closer, but I must've stepped too closer to them as the woman turned her head. I froze, not knowing what to expect. Then she screamed, took a few of the bags and ran as fast as she could to the further end of the shore. Part of me wanted to rush off after her and reassure her I wasn't about to maul her, but there was her partner I had to deal with next, giving me a severe look.

    The smart thing to have done in that situation, I guess, was to run away and let the situation sort itself out. Crazy couple gets back together, leaves island, end of. But I never said I was smart. I waited it out to see how he would react. All he did was shout at me, throwing flecks of spit as he did so, and he ran off. I watched him, stunned. I didn't feel particularly guilty about it, mostly because I had no idea what the hell I did wrong. But it was the first time a human showed any sign of aggression, and I growled at the thought of it. If he came back, who knows, I might've bitten his leg, but he kept running after his girl who still screamed like a maniac, leaving me to my own devices.

    My eyes wandered over to their belongings, which all looked new to me. It was some sort of basket on a blanket with two clear, bowl shaped objects. Of course, not knowing what purpose they had, I couldn't resist picking the shiny clear thing up. The moment I gripped it, it shattered in my paw, leaving shards of light to clatter onto the rocks. They were glasses all along. It's a wonder I didn't cut myself there.

    Next, I started digging inside the basket. When I opened the lid, something warm-smelling wafted from its contents. It was food. I licked my lips and stuck my paw inside it, feeling around for the morsel, and when I touched it, I pulled out a half eaten sandwich. The bread had a spongy feel to it, filled with a yellowy sort of substance. I had to take a bit of it. I remembered the taste was quite strong, but in a different way from the fishy taste of the Magikarp we were used to having. Either way, it was delicious, and I practically inhaled the rest. It was disappointing to see there wasn't more of it, but then I noticed something else unusual. It was a larger glass bottle, except with actual liquid inside of it. Again, I laid my paws on it, except it was a bit heavier than I expected, almost dragging it across the floor. Probably the best since if it was any lighter, I probably would've smashed it. I caught a glimpse of that couple from far away and bolted for the forest with the bottle in tow.

    After wandering for a little while, I picked up the aura of all three of my brothers and went to meet them. Trunks was the first to approach me.

    "What do you think you're doing?" he asked, crossing his arms. "You know you shouldn't have gotten near those humans."

    Trunks must’ve seen my aura to know that, but I shrugged that thought aside and presented the bottle to them.

    "Never mind that," I said, "Look what I found!"

    The rest huddled around me, observing the loot.

    "Whattisit?" Twig asked.

    "Well obviously, it's some sort of drink," I said.

    "It could be dangerous!" Stumpy said, looking better from his dip in the drink.

    "How so? Those humans were drinking it."

    "Still, you shouldn't have taken it! What would dad say?"

    "Well," I said, wringing my paw around the bottle of the neck, "Only one way to find out!"

    Of course, not knowing how to open it, I struggled with the cap for a bit before a fizzing sound came out of it. It made the two youngest jump. I didn't even hesitate to drink from it, but when I took a swig from it, I immediately spat it back out.

    I might as well tell you it was white wine, and you'll probably find it's not the last time alcohol comes up as a topic of discussion. But we might get to that at some point later.

    Anyway, it tasted horrible. Even when I spat it back out, the sting of it lingered on my tongue. Now I really was starting to wonder whether or not it was poison.

    To my surprise, Trunks snatched the bottle off of me and took a big swig out of it, scrunching up his face as he did.

    "Tastes alright to me, don't know what you're spitting it out for." He gave me a big smile, the first time in a while I ever saw him do that. I stepped away from him. This wasn't his usual behaviour.

    Stumpy looked expectantly at the bottle.

    "Can I try?"

    Trunks only clutched the bottle in his paws.

    "Naw, it makes ya do weird things." By then, it started to affect his speech, but that didn't bother him as he took another swig. He laughed, hiccuping all the while.

    "C'mon, whattare y'all looking scared fer? Just join da fun!"

    I can't say I was scared by a lot, but even I backed away when he let go of the bottle and started dancing in place. It rolled on the ground, spilling some of its contents. Even Stumpy and Twig joined me, who both held onto my arm.

    "What's happening? Is he okay?" Stumpy said. I just looked on at the scene as Trunks span around, cackling to no one in particular.

    I never thought I'd say it, but thankfully, Dad intervened and stormed into the area, picking up the bottle.

    "Who brought this?" he asked in a serious tone, Pipsqueak and runt both pointed at me, even though they were still cowering from behind.

    "Hey!" I said, "That's not fair, you two!"

    "Enough!" Dad shouted. Any time he shouted at you, you knew you were in for it. "You idiot, I told you not to go anywhere near them, and you disobeyed me just like that!"

    I couldn't speak. Each time I tried to get words to come out to explain myself, I just croaked.

    "Never mind, now we've got a bit more trouble on our paws, thanks to you." He held up the half empty bottle. "They'll come looking for this, you know, and they're nothing but trouble. All of you, go hide out with your mother. I'll sort this out myself."

    "Hol' up!" Trunks said, stumbling into Dad. "Ish' no big deal, I shaw you do it a few timesh! Help yourself if you want!"

    "That's enough, pup. Consider this your lesson."

    "Wait!" Trunks glared at him. "Don't call me pup no more, I shaw what'sh out there, I'm big now, I can take care of theshe cubs!"

    Dad only shook his head and walked off with the bottle in tow. I looked back at Trunks who struggled to stand still, then back to the other two who whimpered nearby a tree. I held my paw up, drawing their attention to me. "Mom's close, I can feel it. Follow me!"

    Somehow, I got all three to take after me and I headed to where Mom's aura led me, to the base we usually camped out for her story sessions. She had her paws in some kind of box when I came in, and she looked at us all with her maw hanging open.

    "What's happening now?" she said. Trunks didn't waste any time before he showed off his drunken self. He attempted to do a cartwheel over to her but ended up falling on his ass. Mom instantly went up to him, lifting him up.

    "Are you alright?"

    "Yesh, yesh I'm fine, mama! I drank a bit of that shtuff Dad used to drink."

    She held a paw up to her mouth and her eyes grew wide. While this was happening, not knowing what Trunks was going through, my heart sank. It was rare for me to worry about him as he usually carried himself fine, if not a bit quiet, but seeing him like that, I wasn't sure what was to come. I ran up to her, feeling misty-eyed.

    "Oh no, is he gonna die? Please tell me he's alright. Mom? Mom?"

    Out of nowhere, Mom started laughing and pulled me up close to her.

    "I know what's going on. He's drunk, that's all!"

    "Drunk?" I asked, wiping the dust from my eyes.

    "Well, it's a bit hard to explain if you weren't with me, but it's what happens when you drink too much of what they call alcohol: your mind gets all fuzzy. It's usually quite toxic to a lot of Pokémon, but we can take it just fine. How much did he drink?"

    "I dunno, two mouthfuls?"

    Her smile faded, but otherwise, she was still calm about the situation.

    "I see. He won't be used to that much right now, but otherwise, he'll be fine. He'll just have to get it out of his system, that's all."

    "What's that mean?"

    "You'll find out soon enough."

    We waited as we all crowded around the two, staying close to Trunks in particular. He held his paw to his stomach and started to groan, then laid down on the grassy floor, curling up.

    "I don't feel sho hot."

    "Alright, alright," Mom repeated, rubbing his head as he laid down. He looked up to me and smiled weakly.

    "Shorry 'bout all thish. I know I'm annoying shometimesh, barking at you all the time not to do shtuff. You musht think I'm boring."

    I never heard him speak as honestly as he did. I know this wasn't his usual self, but judging by his aura's emotions, I know it was his true self. I shook my head.

    "No, bro. You're great. I know you're just looking out for me, like you do everyone else."

    "Thanksh." He fumbled around for a bit before planting his paws on the ground, sitting up. He looked down at his feet.

    "I hate thish. Shtaying here all day, all night, nowhere to go. Shorry Mom, I'm grateful for everything we did to come here, but I can’t shtand much longer here."

    Mom held onto him, hugging him tighter.

    "No need to apologise, you’re not the only one that thinks that here. Don't you prefer it to having to survive out there, though?"

    "Yesh." He paused, then tugged at the appendages at the back of his head. "No. Shure, it'sh miserable. Shure, we losht a lot of friendsh. But we went into the citiesh ash well. We had sho much fun there. People liked ush as well. What happened to that. Wheresh that in the wild, or on thish rock?"

    Mom didn't respond, but only smiled, rubbing him reassuringly. Trunks, in his hazy state, pointed to me.

    "Thish island'sh not big enough for you, shish. There'sh sho much out there you're misshing. No Pokémon deshervesh this. I--." He held his head and knelt on the floor far away from us.

    "Oh crap." He started blowing chunks as Mom nursed him from behind. I looked on, thinking about everything Trunks had said. Even he had my back in this, as hard as it was to make out what he said half the time. My other brothers crept up to me, asking me what he was talking about. I said I didn't know and kept my eyes on getting out of the island as soon as this was over.

    Trunks had calmed down a bit since then and dozed off beside Mom, although his breaths were raspy from all the fluid he hacked up. Even if it wasn't severe, there was still a pang of guilt in my gut. She turned to Stumpy.

    "Please get your eldest some water from the lake, and fetch a bucket out of the box. Make sure to take your youngest with you, alright?"

    Stumpy nodded. I'm sure he was just relieved to get out of this situation. He got the wooden object out, which was a round shaped thing with a hole in the middle, and went off with the bucket in one paw and Twig's own paw in the other. I turned back to Mom who smiled at me.

    "So you stole the bottle off those humans, huh?"

    I gasped. "How did you--"

    "Your thoughts don't lie, dear."

    "Am I in trouble?"

    She shook her head. "Oh dear, it's no big deal. It's only natural for you to be curious, after all."

    "But I went close to those humans after you told me not to. Everyone else chewed me out for it, so yeah."

    "Well like I said, it's complicated. It's mostly your father who wants nothing to do with them, so I will respect that, but I will say, if it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have the sort of stuff we do right now. Why do you think we cook our meals instead of eating them raw?"

    "Because it's better?"

    "Exactly. Plus, that tarp and tire swing didn't come from nowhere, we brought it here with us. You see what I mean?"

    I shook my head.

    "Pokémon don't usually come up with this stuff, you see. As much as your father hates them, we rely on them for these nice things. If only he didn’t act like such a stubborn old woman sometimes..."

    She stopped to point at the box she was toying around with earlier.

    "That things full of human possessions. You wanna see?"

    I left the two alone and walked to the wooden box, which had a pawprint marked on the side. I lifted the lid and indeed, saw lots of human oddments there. I pawed through each item. If I remember correctly, it had stuff like bits of paper, various shiny tools and other loose bits of soft and sharp things. I must've pricked my paw on one of those objects since I drew it out of the box only to find out I cut it. I sucked at the wound and continued to look inside, and what drew my attention the most was a notepad. I picked it out of the box out of all the items there and shook it around a little as sheets of paper waved in the air. I closed it and brought it to her as she smiled.

    "You can draw on that, dear."

    "Draw?" I said, cocking my head. "Like with the stones on the rocks?"

    "Exactly, though you'd tear through the paper if you did it with those. You can use lots of other things to draw on it as well. We actually have crayons if you want to use them, you'll find them in the smaller box, dear."

    She held it for me as I got the crayons out, and I looked at them for a bit. They had all sorts of colours there I had never even seen before, like purple, would you believe I never saw purple before? All of them were so bright and kind of appetizing. Without thinking, I placed one in my mouth before spitting it back out.

    "They're made of wax dear, that's not edible. We don't need another sick Pokémon tonight."

    Again, I never said I was a smart kid. Still, you see something like that and you just want to eat it even though you probably shouldn't. Oh well. I think natural selection will take care of that one eventually.

    Anyway, I took out more of the other colours I liked and placed them next to the pad. I didn't know what to do next. Seeing I was lost in thought, Mom showed me what to do by taking one of the crayons and making a squiggly blue line with it on the paper. It wasn't much, but to my young eyes, it was impressive. I snatched the crayon out of her paw and drew whatever came to mind: a scribbly blue sky that filled the entire page. Clearly my first masterpiece. Even though it wasn't much, Mom smiled at my work.

    "That's impressive dear!"

    "Thank you!" I knew she was just being sincere, but it was nice. Then she put everything back and handed it over to me.

    "I was saving this for later, for when you were older, but really, you should have something else to do on this island. It's sad seeing you wandering around all day." She let it go in my paws and I must've looked at her as if I saw Arceus' face on a piece of tree bark.

    "Can I keep it?"

    "It's all yours."

    I jumped over to her, dropping everything I had in my paws to hug her. It was a much needed bright spot in the endless stretch of days that went nowhere. She returned it, squeezing me tight, and I went making random scribbles as I stayed with her until my other brothers came with their water. The rest of the night passed with ease as I watched my brother come to his senses, albeit groggily. After dinner, he had restored some of his energy, but after that, we decided not to have any stories for tonight and settled down.

    I slept clutching my new present like a pillow. It was the first thing I had to call my own, really.

    ---

    The next day, Trunks woke up with a groan, and felt physically exhausted all day, so we had to do most of the work for him. When asked about last night’s incident, he distanced himself from the subject. Strangely enough, when I saw Dad next, his breath smelled of the same stuff Trunks drank. Take from that what you will.
     
  7. NebulaDreams

    NebulaDreams A Dense Irritating Miniature Beast of Burden

    The Curious and the Shiny Chapter 12. That Sinking Feeling

    Soon enough, I went off making my own map with the paper Mom gave me. I went through the island once more, gathering references for each point I had to make, but at first, I had trouble visualising it. It occurred to me when I started on the shore and looked at the trees in front of me. Making a record of every single patch of land there, one bit at a time, would've taken me forever. So I wandered around, which is sounding a bit redundant at this point because that's usually ALL I ever did, not knowing what to do for a while, until I saw another bird Pokémon whiz through the air past the trees. Then I had an idea. A dangerous thought.

    I climbed up one of the trees, making sure not to drop my things on the way and sat on top of a branch. It was a pretty lucky spot since it was one of the highest trees up there, giving me a good look of half of the island. I got a crayon out and put the tip of it on the paper, and stopped. I had another problem. The view was nice, but then I wondered how I was supposed to get it all on a flat surface. I stared at the view for a while until I thought of something else. If I was putting it on something flat, I had to think as if the whole island was flat as well. I saw myself as one of those other bird Pokémon, flying up there, being able to see everything without a care. I swear I didn't rhyme on purpose.

    So I got to work and started drawing the edge of the shore from one half to the other across the page with a squiggly line. Then I drew another line inside it for all the other trees and coloured in the rest of that half. I left the other side blank. The rest of the island was all the same though, so I turned myself around and filled the rest in the same way. There. Not bad for a Riolu that almost ate a crayon that one time.

    I climbed off, and then, it was time for the fun part. Well, less fun and more tedious. I had to see which island was the closest, so that meant going across the shore again just so I could record it all. But I needed somewhere to come back to as well. Once I got off, I got a red crayon and marked where I was. Of course, I couldn't tell which direction was which at the time, but let's say I was on the southern part of it. As for remembering which part of the island I was on without a map, well, I marked my territory. Don’t blame me, I was a creature of habit, after all.

    I walked through and started marking any island I saw with another crayon. I flexed my paws to measure it as I explained before, and moved onto the next one. I must've been halfway done, occupied in my own little world before, who else, Stumpy came out of the forest and threw me off whack.

    "What're you doing?" he asked.

    "Drawin’ this place." I pulled the page out and showed him the progress I made. He looked just as listless as ever.

    "That looks nothing like here."

    "Well duh, I'm drawing it as if it was flat, that's what I decided to do."

    "You're not up to something again, are you?"

    "Of course not." I didn’t want to outright shoo him away, but I didn’t want him following me around here. Not sure what to do, I just walked for a while. I guess he must’ve gotten bored since he disappeared into the trees and I was left to my own devices again.

    So a while later, I came back with all my findings to the spot I marked, still smelling fresh, and I saw the sun had sunken from the sky a little. It must've been approaching evening, I think. My stomach rumbled. I figured it was time to get back for dinner.

    I didn't need to mention what I ate. Hell, I think at that point, I ate so much fish I was ready to grow gills soon. Afterwards, Trunks and Stumpy crowded around me to look at my findings. I figured it would shut Stumpy up if I went through it with him, so I told him what I did.

    "Still doesn't look like an island to me," he said. I just blew a Razzberry at him.

    "Well," Trunks said, gently lifting the pad. He traced his paw over the paper. "It's impressive you managed to do this. I actually saw maps back at the..." He trailed off, looking at Stumpy. I guess he remembered he wasn't supposed to tell anyone else. "You know what."

    "What do you mean by that?" Stumpy asked, never afraid to ask the bleeding obvious.

    "Never mind," Trunks replied, "Still, keep going at it."

    He handed back the pad and I smiled at him. He smiled back.

    "What else have you drawn?" he said.

    My maw hung open as I stared back at the pad. I had built up quite the gallery since then, but I didn't think to show it to anyone else. It was my secret. Well, not so secret considering I had nowhere else to hide it, but my family hadn't really asked what I did inside it. Trunks was different though. I flicked through the pages and showed him each drawing I made. I don't remember a whole lot of it aside from drawing some of the scenery such as the rocks or trees I passed by. None of it was particularly good, even for a Pokémon. It probably would've had more worth being used as toilet paper.

    Still, Trunks gave me a pat on the back and told me they were all good. Now, lil' me couldn't really tell the difference between a master's painting and a messy clash of colours, but I knew from his aura that he was being as genuine as Mom acted when she first saw my work. Then, what he suggested next took me off guard.

    "Do you think you could draw me?"

    –-

    And so the stage was set. Me and Trunks went to our usual hangout spot by the lake, and he sat down in a cross-legged pose by the bank while I sat away from him, crayon in paw. He was as stiff as a log, the perfect subject. I looked at him and paused. There was going to be a little bit of trouble getting him on a flat surface. Maps were easier to draw as it was abstract, but since I had to draw a living, breathing thing, I had the same problem as I did before translating it onto paper.

    Out of impulse, I held the crayon in front of him, measuring him with the wax stick, and marked two spots on the paper where I would start with the ears and end with his bottom. I squinted my eyes, trying to make sense of his form, and drew three circles on the paper: one for the head, one for the body, and one for the bottom. Then I drew a few lines connecting each of them together. When I put it like that, it sounded like I knew what I was doing, but trust me, I didn’t.

    You know when you start out, you draw what you think you see instead of what you actually see? It’s kind of like that. I don’t remember who said that, but anyway, when it came to the limbs, they looked broken, and when I came to the face, Trunks looked like he was missing a few chromosomes. I compared my drawing to the actual thing in front of me and frowned.

    “Are you done?” he said. I nodded, and he came over to peek at my masterpiece.

    “That doesn’t look half bad.”

    “Really?” I said, pointing to all the mistakes I made, “I made you look kinda goofy.”

    “Well, er,” I looked to Trunks, who gave me a nervous smile. I could tell he was trying to avoid criticising my work.

    “I know it looks pretty bad, bro. You don’t hafta lie to me.”

    He gave a relieved sigh and patted me on the back.

    “Okay, you’re right, it could use some work, but it’s better than anything I could’ve done. I could barely draw a stick figure.”

    I cocked my head at him, trying to figure out what he was talking about, but just shrugged it off.

    “If you keep at it,” he said, “I’m sure you can make something good.”

    “You think so?”

    “It all comes with practice. Think of it like training your aura.” Trunks stood on the balls of his feet and made a battle stance. “You exercise your body like you’d exercise your mind when drawing, and when it comes to using it, you channel the world’s energy inside you like the references you’ve collected, like so.” He clapped his paws together and closed his eyes, casting a blue glow onto the ground. “Then, once you feel like you’ve gathered enough energy, or enough of an understanding of what you’re looking at...”

    At last, he presented an aura sphere and shot it at the tree, creating a blast that shook the branches, leaves dancing in the air.

    “Of course, mine was only the size of a pebble when I started out, so like I said, it all comes with practice. You understand?”

    I set the pad to the side and nodded. Actually, a lot of it flew over my head, as I couldn’t understand what he was trying to relate to. The fundamentals of art are much different than shooting magic spheres out of your hands like some sort of wizard. But I felt the sentiment anyway, so I went close to him and hugged his leg.

    —-

    You could say Trunks inspired me since after that, I went on my own to draw again, just doing random scribbles that didn’t mean anything. My memories drifted off to the speech Trunks gave me, to the time Mom gave me that pad in the first place, to that night when I pilfered that wine off those humans. It had been a while since I saw one of them, so I got the idea to draw one completely by memory.

    I opened a new page and started drawing. I remembered they had tiny heads, and clothes, and hair, and all sorts of stuff, but without a visual reference, in the end, it looked more like the aliens Mom talked about in her poem than anything resembling an actual human. I was completely on my own until Dad appeared from behind the trees. When I saw that hardened, permanently-frowning face, I hurried to close the pad.

    “Hello pup,” he said as he approached, “What are you up to this time?”

    With anyone else, I probably would’ve shown them without hesitation as they would’ve been respectful about it. With Dad however, it always felt like he was invading your privacy, like he was actively seeking out a reason to scold you.

    “Nothing,” I said.

    His face turned more sour. “You must never lie to a Lucario. Now show me what you’ve been doing.”

    He played that card whenever we hid something from him. I’d find out later that it’s a common saying in the mainland, and a rule even you humans should follow if you don’t want a spike shoved up your rear end. Nevertheless, I clutched the pad closer to me, not wanting him to look. At that point, Dad was growling with fury, grabbing me with those large paws of his while I struggled in his grasp.

    “Let me go!”

    “I’m having none of that, thank you.” At last, he snatched the pad off me and started going through it, page by page. He said nothing, ignoring my attempts to snatch it back, then suddenly, his eyes dilated at one of my drawings. He turned the pad over, presenting the drawing I did before he came in.

    “Pup, what is this?”

    “Um...” I stared at the page, figuring out what to say next. “It’s a human. It doesn’t look anythin’ like it, I kinda messed up the body. I—“

    RRR-IP! I stopped when Dad tore the page out the pad and crumpled it up in his paws. He casually tossed it away behind him.

    “No more of this. I’m taking this damn thing away for now, understood?”

    It felt like my heart itself had ripped into two. At that moment, I pounced on him, shouting at him to give it back. He picked me up. I kept kicking. Then, he tossed me to the ground, head first. I crawled away from him. It was probably because of the shock of being thrown to the floor, but I started bawling. He approached me with that murderous look in his eye again. Clearly, I had already ticked him off and there was no way out. So I ran to the shore, wailing into the air.

    So yeah, that went well. Wah-wah. Looking back on it, the whole thing was stupid from both sides. He never needed to go that far with confiscating my stuff. Then again, I didn’t need to react the way I did either, as there were worse things I could’ve cried over than a crumpled up drawing. But again, I wasn’t a smart kid, and kids are generally stupid and emotional. Still, that’s something you shouldn’t do to a kid, punish them when they haven’t done anything wrong because of your own personal issues. Or chuck them around like a football.

    Look at me, giving parental advice. Is this what I’ve come to these days?

    But yeah, I ended up running to the shore where I sulked in my own self-pity. Dad had taken away the one thing I owned, so I had nothing to express myself with, no map to find my way out of the island, nothing. I looked to the shore where another island sat further away. Even through my misty eyes, I could’ve sworn that island was the one I marked as the closest on the map. It could’ve been the second closest, but I didn’t care. I stood up anyway.

    It was decided. With nowhere else to run to, I decided to swim.

    It probably wouldn't have been the last time I saw them as I was sure if I could make it across there, I could've gotten back, after all. Still, I put a paw on my chest, feeling each beat and waiting for the right time to leave. Once it slowed down, I took the first dive.

    I had learned to swim, but only a certain distance from the island for our parents to get us if need be. I knew I could endure swimming for a fair distance, I mean, what can I say? I was a bored kid. If circumstances were different and I didn't have this damn arm with me, I'm sure I could swim even longer now.

    I kept a steady pace, going slow enough to keep my breathing in check while fast enough to see some progress. Eventually, I could see the views of some of the other islands further away, and even a few Pokémon travelling through the sea. I knew I wasn't completely isolated then as many other Pokémon were travelling the same way I was. I was getting closer and closer to the other island in front of me, I could feel it.

    Something started nipping my paws. I didn't stop to check out what it was as it felt like a little nibble at first, then it almost pulled me underwater. I stopped, kicking whatever clutched onto my leg off my feet and continued my venture forward. Then it dragged me into the sea.

    Around my feet, through the eye burning sea water, I saw a school of Magikarp swarm around my legs, sucking my skin and swishing their tails in the water to pull me further downward. I couldn't even hold my breath, that was how much it took me by surprise. I needed to get back to the surface. I punched at them in an attempt to get them off, and it succeeded as I socked one Magikarp in the face and a few dispersed, although some still stuck onto my legs. That gave me leeway enough to rise above, and I gasped for air. I knew at that point I was screwed. In my panic, I started screaming for help, splashing out to make a scene while I could still swim. I didn't know how it would help as I couldn't see anyone or anything around me that could ward them away.

    Then I felt even more mouths pulling me downward, and the only thing I could've done to save a bit of time was to hold my breath. I was dragged in again. It was more than a school that dragged me down, more like a university, if that's even an expression you humans use. I struggled to keep myself moving as they dragged me deeper underwater. I couldn't hold my breath for much longer. Slowly, I opened my mouth, and eventually my thoughts drifted away as I slept with the fishes.

    You know, I managed to get my paws on a book in GeL once I learned how to read. Apparently, it takes a minute and a half for a small Pokémon, particularly a Riolu like me to drown. Even if you survive by some miracle, you're lucky if brain damage doesn't set in around that time. When I look back at all the close calls I've had in my life, sometimes, I think about that random fact and that feeling still hasn't left me whenever I remember the time I almost drowned there. With no one around to help in the middle of nowhere, I was sure I was dead. Maybe I did die and I could've been a ghost this whole time. Plot twist.

    No, not funny? Alright then, I'll continue.

    Next thing I knew, I wasn't entirely awake, but something clamped down at my chest and I felt bitter water rising up my throat. It kept punching at that area, although I couldn't piece together why until I coughed up a stream of water. Suddenly, I could breathe again. Air, sweet air! It took a while for me to find my bearings as I was still catching my breath, but once I came to, I opened my eyes and saw two figures in front of me. It was an Azumarill, although I didn't know it yet, and a human. The Azumarill came up to me first and held my paw.

    "Are you alright?" he said.

    I wasn't too sure about what was going on, although I could speak.

    “Yeah, thanks.”

    He just nodded and just repeated what I said in the human tongue. Okay, that was an odd situation to say at the least. Since I wanted to know what was happening, I let the situation play itself until I understood where I was. The human talked back to him, although I could only understand a couple of words, and the Azumarill nodded.

    "He says you're breathing fine anyway. Do you need a paw?"

    "Please," I said. He helped me up to my feet and I got a better understanding of my surroundings: a boat like the one I saw with that odd human couple, except bigger and without sails. We were sat in between the two islands. The next thing I noticed was that my teeth were chattering. A gust of wind blew through me and I tried to cuddle myself in an attempt to feel warm. The Azumarill took wind of this and gathered a few towels for me to wrap myself in. It helped a little, although I was still dripping wet. He turned to his trainer next.

    "Do you have any cocoa for her?" he said in human tongue, to which, his partner nodded.

    "Cocoa?" I said, confused.

    "Yeah, it's a hot drink. It'll help you keep warm, you'll see."

    I nodded and watched the human prepare something from some sort of flask. In that moment, the Azumarill sat next to me and wrapped his paw around me.

    "Are you lost?" he said. I shook my head and pointed back to home.

    "That's where I live, over there." Then it dawned on me. "Aw, crud. They're probably really worried about me."

    "Don’t fret, we'll get you back safely. I did wonder what a Riolu was doing in the middle of the ocean." He relayed the information back to his trainer. That's when I prodded him in his side, getting his attention back.

    "How are you doing all of this? Mama said it's usually the trainers that order their Pokémon to do stuff, not the other way around."

    He just smiled and flicked one of his ears back.

    "I've been learning to speak the human tongue for years."

    "Can you really do that though? I know papa could speak a few words, but I didn't know you could speak that well through it."

    "Why of course. It's a skill you can learn like any other."

    "Then how come I can't understand half of what he says?"

    "It's a little complicated, but it takes some getting used to if you haven't lived around them."

    I just mumbled in reply. He looked to the far-away island.

    "It looks like a nice place."

    "Well, kinda. It's pretty boring, to be honest. That's kinda why I swam away, ya know, to see if I could get to the mainland. Plus Papa was kind of a jerk."

    "How so?"

    "Well, he crumpled up my drawing just because it had a human on it."

    "You draw?"

    "Yeah. I suck at it though."

    "Well, no one starts off like a Smeargle."

    I didn't know what that meant, although I gathered it was supposed to be a compliment. I just nodded back. It wasn't long after that the human knelt in front of me and offered me a cup of that cocoa. It was weird for me to look at as it wasn't like anything I had seen before: brown with a bit of white at the top, but I guessed it was safe to drink. The human smiled at me.

    "Drink," he said, making a gulping motion with his hands. That I could understand. I nodded and cupped the flask with my paws. It was warm like sunshine in a bottle.

    "Hot," he also said. Knowing dumb lil' me, I probably would've chugged it if he hadn't told me. So I carefully held it to my lips, trying not to drop it as I took a sip. It was unlike anything I tasted before: smooth and sweet. Warmth coursed through my body and I felt up to speed again.

    "Thanks a bunch," I said.

    "You like it?" The Azumarill said.

    "Do I ever!"

    From there, he asked me a bit more about my predicament and I talked about wanting to escape the island and find out what the humans were up to, in between sips of that cocoa, of course. Again, Azumarill went back and forth with his trainer, before he said this:

    "We're actually looking for Pokémon like you. We want to help you learn about these things, like human speech, everything you'd like to know about the world, the whole hog. All you'd need to do is come with us."

    "I..." I was itching to say yes. It was my chance to venture the world like I had planned for months, to hang around the humans and see what my brother had seen, but then it struck me. If I took that offer right then and there, then what? It seemed too easy, as if the two had appeared out of thin air to take me out on a silver carriage, or boat as it were. Plus, there was still my family. My father could've gotten stuffed if he didn't agree with me, but what would the rest say? Would it mean not seeing them again? I gulped the last of the drink down, which had turned lukewarm. Azumarill must've seen the hesitation in my face as he frowned.

    "I understand, it's a hefty deal to take on. Well, think on it if you want. We can come back tomorrow to talk about it more."

    "Hold on, how will you know where I am when every island looks the same?"

    "We have our ways," he said with a grin. "Now," he turned back to his trainer, repeating what I said. "Let's take you home."

    The human took control of the wheel at the helm of the boat and the engine whirred, making me jump a little and drop my empty cup.

    "No need to fret," Azumarill said, "That's just what powers this boat you're standing on."

    I just nodded, feeling myself flush red.

    "Oh!" he exclaimed, "How rude of me! Ahem." He stood in the middle, ears proudly sticking up in the air. "I'm an Azumarill, but you may call me Azzy, and here's my partner, Mackenzie!"

    Mackenzie, the human, just waved his hand in the air as he steered the boat. Again, names were an odd thing for us Pokémon. Hearing the Azumarill repeat his own name got me thinking about what I would call myself. Nothing came to mind. I couldn't think of anything that would fit me as I was just Riolu. That was what I always was.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2018
  8. NebulaDreams

    NebulaDreams A Dense Irritating Miniature Beast of Burden

    The Curious and the Shiny Chapter 13. The Reason We're Here, I Guess.

    As they drove back to the island, I could see my family waiting with bated breath for me. My father was the first person I saw as he was aggressive towards the pair that saved me. When Azzy explained himself, he only nodded and thanked them before telling them to leave. I waved back at them as they set sail, and immediately got chewed out by Dad for almost drowning. I was to stay away from the shore for an indefinite period of time. He didn't mention the drawing again, we just swept it under the rug and left it at that.

    Of course, being grounded in everything but name only didn't stop me as I had plans later on. You could never keep me in one place for too long after all. Thoughts of the duo stayed with me all day, and over a quiet dinner, I could think about nothing but escaping.

    I had a definite chance that time. I was given the opportunity to eat something else other than fish all day, everyday, to do something else other than lounge about all day, everyday, and possibly meet new people rather than being stuck with my family, all day, everyday. Even without that, the chance to learn the human tongue enticed me. I thought back to my previous encounters and how nice it would've been to speak for myself. Maybe things could've been different with that Prinplup encounter had I explained myself to its trainer and mediated between them and Dad. Maybe I could've understood why that crazy couple was so scared of me. All of that would've sold me on paper.

    In actuality, though, a weight clamped down on my chest. And no, it wasn't due to almost drowning. Rather, it was the prospect of never seeing my family again if it meant going away. Going somewhere to learn human matters sounded important and probably far away. I didn't have anything against the rest of my siblings or Dad, but I could've done without them. Trunks and Mom, though, were the only ones that showed me proper support. If I didn't have them around, I wouldn't know who else to turn to.

    I carried those thoughts with me even past dinner and throughout storytime, and as I tried to go to sleep, I kept tossing and turning in my patch of grass.

    Trunks must've taken the hint that something was up since he patted my side, waking me up out of my half-sleep.

    "Do you want to talk about this in our usual spot?"

    The lake it was, again. At that time, everything was pitch black. We tiptoed through the forestry, listening for the different sounds in the terrain to guide us there. I must've taken one step forward too many as Trunks held me back from falling in the drink. We sat by the bank as I coursed my paw through the surface of the water.

    "You're thinking about escaping again, and it has something to do with the couple that brought you back," Trunks said.

    "Nothing gets past you," I said.

    "You're set to meet them again tomorrow, is that it?"

    "Yeah, and?"

    "And, I want to come with you."

    "Off the island?"

    "No, just with them. I want to see what they have planned for you. Don't you think it sounds a little suspicious?"

    I shrugged. "Maybe. Well, they did save me, after all."

    "True. But, let's say you did get off the island with them and they kept their promise about teaching you whatever it is that needed teaching. You might not have the chance to see us again."

    "I know. I dunno what'll happen a while from now, bro. They didn't tell me a lot about what this whole thing was about."

    "Well, like I said, we'll find out tomorrow. Maybe we should rest on it for now, okay?"

    He put his paw around me and I returned the favour, nuzzling his coat.

    "Thanks, bro."

    ---

    I was able to sleep easily that night and the next day, Trunks managed to get me to the shore with Dad's permission, under the ruse that he would be watching me at all times. We went to the spot we were dropped off at and waited. Trunks came and handed me back the notebook with all the crayons in one place. I didn’t question how he got it; I just clutched them as it still felt precious to me.

    "Mom gave him a bit of a telling off," Trunks said, "Don't you worry. She wasn't having any of what he did."

    I just muttered a reply.

    "Talking about them, I'm starting to get a little worried." He started rubbing his paws together. "They're a bit more snappy with each other and I haven't seen them together for a while since. My aura tells me they don't hang out together that much at night anymore."

    "Don't they?"

    "Nnn-mmm. Still, we'll see."

    I didn't really know how to take that. I just waited with him, paw in paw, until they came for the second time, Azzy and Mackenzie together. Azzy was the first to step off the boat as he approached us.

    "Hello," he said, waving to me, "You hungry?"

    I wasn't really, but since they brought that cocoa last, I was up for anything they could offer, so I nodded. He turned to Trunks next.

    "And you must be her father?"

    "Brother," he said, crossing his arms.

    "Ah, sorry. Are you coming with us then?"

    "Yes, but let me just say this. If you and that human are up to anything that might harm the both of us, or are up to no good, I'll show no mercy. I'll know in an instant."

    Azzy just nodded. "If we were up to anything like that, you would’ve known by now, I can assure you. But anyway hop on board!"

    He led the way to the deck as we stepped off the shore, and Mackenzie powered the engine again and set sail through the sea. I was close by the railing, watching the world around us go by as Trunks did too, as our home grew more distant.

    "Where are you taking us?" Trunks asked, leering at Azzy.

    "Not far. We'll be stopping once Mack finds a good spot for us to stay. Now..." Azzy dove into one of the compartments at the bottom and drew out a bag, which he opened to reveal lots of different kinds of food. Well, maybe not lots, but lots considering what I usually ate before then. There were sandwiches, rice cakes, different types of berries, Pokepuffs, poffins, wrapped candy, you name it. Maybe more. You could've probably fed a Snorlax with that much food. I was drooling, being that starved for variety.

    "Would you like to dig in?"

    "Woah," I said, pointing at every item on display, "Is this all for us?"

    "But of course, there's plenty to go around."

    It didn't take long for me to start stuffing my face with sandwiches. It tasted a bit different to the one I had before, except it was a bit meatier. Still, I enjoyed it, and I turned to Trunks and waved a bit of bread at him.

    "Haff some, ith goof." I said.

    "I'll pass," he replied, waving a paw dismissively. I shrugged and continued on my sandwich binge. Azzy joined in as well, helping himself to a riceball.

    "I take it you like those then?" he said.

    "Love 'em," I said, "Much better than the stinking fish we usually have."

    "Oh please," Trunks said, "It's hardly stinking at all." I glanced at him for a second and saw him wide eyed, hungrily staring down the feast before us. I knew from his aura that he had longing in his heart for it. It was just waiting for the right moment to join in.

    "Whatever," I said, wolfing down another sandwich, "Where do you find thith thtuff?"

    "Oh, they're easy to make. Sometimes, you don't even need to make it yourself."

    I swallowed. "They can do that?"

    Azzy nodded. I noticed the innards of his food, which had some sort of pink stuff in it.

    "You can try some of this as well."

    "Will do!" I grabbed one of the riceballs and squeezed it with my paw. It was made up of many grains, yet they were stuck together, and felt sturdy enough to toss around. I laid my sandwich pile close by and started sampling the new food item. It didn't have much of a taste, a bit salty maybe, but it filled me up.

    "Is there anything you'd like, mister Lucario? We have chocolate."

    Snap. Like a fire had just lit up in his head, Trunks stopped looking his glum self and licked his lips.

    "Where?"

    "Right here." Azzy retrieved a bar and gave it to Trunks. The instant he got his paws on it, he tore through the wrapper and bit off a huge chunk for himself. He looked the happiest since I got him drunk off his ass earlier on. Naturally, I asked for some too. He shook himself out of his choco-coma and broke off a piece for me to try. Need I say more about what I thought of it?

    Oh, and if you’re wondering, a way to a Lucario's heart is through chocolate. It works for both men and us ladies.

    The boat must've stopped since Mackenzie sat down with us, no longer on the helm. He got himself a sandwich and told Azzy something, although I couldn't hear what. Trunks had gotten back on his guard, albeit with chocolate melting in his paw.

    "So, mister Lucario," Azzy said, "We’re a part of an organisation called Gestalt Learning, and we'd like to offer this Riolu here a special opportunity if you would allow it."

    "Depends," Trunks said.

    "We would like her to come with us, to a place where she can learn the same things humans get to learn and more. Not only will she get to learn the human tongue, she will also learn many other things about this world and be prepared for whatever trials come her way once she graduates."

    "Meaning?"

    Azzy looked down at the notebook I put beside me.

    "She could learn to draw, for instance, and have her work put out for all to see."

    Trunks shook his head. "As much as I’d like her to improve her craft, I'm not letting her come with you just for that, not on Dad’s life."

    I stood up and held a paw up to him.

    "Hey," I said, "Don't I get a say in this?"

    "Not if that's all there is, it's a waste of time."

    "Not only that," Azzy continued, "But she would also be skilled at battle and given the ability to defend herself when she leaves. Or if she ever wants to come with a trainer after she's finished."

    "No," Trunks said, giving them the familiar red-eyed stare, clenching his fists, "Out of the question. We didn't get away from those bastards just so we could have one take her."

    Azzy nodded, "Understandable. That's just one of our goals, but there are many other paths she could choose from. She would not only learn the human tongue, she would also learn maths, know about the history of this world, and much more. This means she could go on to teach other Pokémon like us the same set of skills. She could even live in the city by herself if she wanted to."

    Trunks just laughed. It was always worrying when someone as straight-laced as him laughed.

    "Don't be ridiculous. You think every Pokémon could just waltz into the city and just live like every other human, living in some cushy house with a boring job? Tell me, I'd love to hear a few examples, I'm all ears."

    "Of course," Azzy said with a smile, "There's an Infernape named Emma who teaches at one of the top trainer schools in Jubilife City who is able to live by herself. The teacher's union managed to approve her move-in with the help of her trainer, and she's able to rent an apartment with her pay."

    I didn't really know what they were talking about so I tuned out and looked to my brother, whose mouth went agape. He held a paw to his face, deep in thought.

    "That sounds too good to be true. Surely that can't be the case, not while many other Pokémon are either in the wild or stuck with their trainers."

    Azzy frowned. "Sadly, that is still a problem. But her case is one out of hundreds around the world. The news tells us what we need to know about these kinds of Pokémon, and that only shows it can be done on a wider scale if we put the effort in." Azzy stood up, ears proudly twitching in the air. "Think of what we could do if we were all given this chance. Wouldn't you want her to have the same opportunity?"

    Trunks looked over to me, and then stared at his feet.

    "Of course. But what does this mean for her? Where would she even go?"

    "She would stay with us in a building made for her and other Pokémon to thrive. She would live peacefully among them while she studies, and be given whatever help she needs to progress. She would have tutors like me to give her advice and to bridge the gap between her and the humans. We would be with her every step of the way."

    "For how long? Would we ever see her again?"

    "Possibly. Keep in mind this is meant to be secret, something we can't tell a lot of humans. We can't give our location away, but we can track yours and give you updates on how she's doing, and this would go on for five years until she's ready to graduate."

    "That's," he said, then hesitated. "That's a long time."

    Trunks buried his head in his paws. I inched closer to him and embraced him, as I felt a whirlwind of emotions from his aura, all fighting for attention. Azzy came closer to him too, and held his paw out to him.

    "I know this isn't easy for you, as her brother. But if you want to give this bright, young Pokémon the chance to succeed, I need your trust and confidence. What do you say?"

    He was silent for a moment. Being young and not in the loop on things, I couldn't add to anything, only observing everything else that went on without my say. He clenched his fists again, this time tugging at his head, if only for a short moment. Eventually, Trunks snapped out of it and gazed back at the Azumarill.

    “There’s one more thing I need to know before I make up my mind. If we say no, what’s stopping you from taking her by force, or any other Pokémon that gets involved with you two?”

    Azzy smiled. “You’re right to be sceptical. If we wanted to kidnap our subjects, we would’ve done so by now, but doing that would go against our mission. If you say no, we’ll just take you back and move on to asking another Pokémon. What’s the point of making Pokémon participate in a program like this if they’re not going to be happy being in it in the first place?”

    Trunks laid back and hummed to himself.

    "Alright, I trust you, but I need my own family's trust as well. When can you come back?"

    "How about this night, at the same spot when it approaches sundown?"

    Trunks gave a rare smile and returned Azzy's long awaited paw-shake.

    "That sounds great."

    ---

    The boat started purring again and we were on our way back to the island, eating as we pleased as well as downing the leftovers with water. Nothing better on a sunny day, if you ask me. Me and Trunks didn't talk much about what happened, just staring homeward as we slowly approached it, but I knew a lot went through my head at the time even if I didn't understand half of what Azzy talked about. All of it sounded far out of reach, nothing I knew like that even existed, or what sort of system Azzy proposed would entail. From my brother's reaction, I guess it scored well with him so I didn't worry about it too much. All I was looking forward to was to fly away from the nest.

    We stopped at the shore and waved to the duo as they left for the second time. It was just us alone again. I reached up to Trunk's back, trying to get his attention. He picked me up with those big paws of his and put me on his shoulders, carrying me as we went back into the forest. It was a while since he carried me. It was nice. That's what I kind of miss about being small, so someone else could give me rides like that, but oh well.

    Anyway, we crossed a stream together, getting his paws wet, and walked through the familiar area of endless woodland. The longing to get out still lingered, but I still didn’t know what Trunks’ thoughts on it were, exactly.

    “Bro,” I said, “What do you think I should do?”

    He sighed, but didn’t reply. I decided to read his aura up close, and detected a mixture of emotions in the air. Excitement. Fear. Longing. Those made sense if it turned out I would be going. But then I read jealousy and anger. That was something I hadn’t anticipated, so I nudged his back a little.

    “What?” he said.

    I didn’t quite know how to phrase it, so I just let my gut decide what to say. “Are you mad at me?”

    His paws quickened their pace, crunching the twigs underneath. “Let’s not talk about this now, shall we?”

    “No, please. You don’t hafta hide it from me. I can read thoughts to, ya know. What’s that Dad said, never lie to a Lucario, or, erm, maybe a Riolu?”

    He stopped suddenly, knocking me back a little bit, and let me down. Then, he knelt down to face me, his red eyes moist. I froze in place. The water flowed through the rocks in the background.

    “No, I’m not mad at you. I’m sorry if I made you feel that.”

    “Then,” I said, cocking my head, “What?”

    He looked to his side. A chuckle escaped his lips. “You know when I got drunk?”

    “Yeah.”

    “It’s still a little hazy to me, but I think I talked about going to the city. Dad wouldn’t come with us, but me and Mom went to peek at some of the schools there, which is like a place where humans get to learn about the world. We’d see the students walk sometimes and listen to them chatting together, or having cocoa while discussing the work there. Lots of interesting topics, like that Azumarill mentioned. It all sounded so important.”

    His cheerful expression dropped.

    “I would’ve loved to have experienced that. There was nothing like that out there for us dumb Pokémon, after all. And yet they came here of all places, handing it over to you like it’s nothing.”

    “Why not ask if you can come with them?”

    “They only spoke about you!” he said, tears running down his face, “They obviously picked you for a reason! Besides, I can’t come, I have to look after everyone else, I have to be the bigger, mature Pokémon here, I...”

    He closed his eyes and took a series of deep breaths. After calming himself down, Trunks rubbed his eyes.

    “Sorry, I shouldn’t be showing weakness. What would Dad say if he saw me like this?”

    “Forget Papa!” I said, putting my paw on his spike, “You’re not weak. You take care of me and everyone else too.”

    “I know,” he said, holding the spike as well before standing up. "Let’s put this behind us. We'll talk to Mom about this first, alright?"

    I nodded and got onto his back again.

    ---

    Eventually, we reached the main camp where Mom hung out with our younger brothers, presumably in the middle of combing through their fur for brambles as she tended to Stumpy's back. When we stepped in, they all looked at us.

    "Welcome back," she said, "You were out long."

    "Mom," Trunks said, "I've got something important to tell you, without those two if you don't mind."

    "Aw, c’mon bro," Stumpy said, looking like the kicked Riolu he was, "Why am I being left out?"

    "It's not because of you dear," Mom brushed the last bit of Stumpy's coat and patted him on the back, "I can tell he has something worth talking to me about. Run along now, you two."

    "No fair." Stumpy stood up and reluctantly picked Twig up too, dragging him out with his paw. Mom went up to us and smiled.

    "Glad to see you two getting along. So what do you want to talk about?"

    "It's about those two visitors from yesterday. They want her."

    "For what?"

    "For some sort of program. It sounds like one of those schools, if you know what I mean."

    Mom quirked an eye at him. "Alright. Go on."

    He basically explained the talk we had with Azzy, which again, mostly went over my head. Given how Mom would either say one thing or the other about human matters like this, I didn't know how she would react to it. My heart pounded in anticipation, hoping she would say yes. She didn't say anything at all at first, only nodding occasionally to Trunks' questions about this or that. After he was done explaining it all, she put her paws on her hips.

    "Do you trust them, though? Keep in mind, you only met them yesterday, right?"

    "I know that," Trunks said, "But I read both of their auras, and throughout the whole talk we had, none of them lied. None of their thoughts were any different from what they talked about, so as far as I can see, they're the real deal."

    Mom went to lift me off his shoulders and sat me down. She knelt down as well to be at the same eye level, and stared at me with those multicoloured eyes of hers once more.

    "Dear, what do you want out of life? Do you want to stay here forever?"

    "I..." I felt like this was a trick question, like the sort parents usually do when they want to test your out. I knew in my heart though that wasn't what I wanted, so I shook my head in honesty.

    "Then, what do you want to do once you're there?"

    "Well," I rubbed my head, "I wanna do lots of things! I wanna see the world, I wanna not suck at drawing, I wanna be able to talk to these humans, at least. Dad could speak a little bit to them, can't he?"

    "Yes, that's right. And me as well."

    Another surprise. "Can you?"

    "Of course. You don't hang around these humans for a long time and not learn some of their language."

    "Can you show me?"

    She broke her gaze as she looked to the side, and cleared her throat.

    "H-hello, I-I am ah, ah, Lucario."

    There was a pause.

    "Well, I'm not as good as he is, but you see what I mean. So you want to learn all of that, right?"

    "Yeah, of course!"

    Mom took a deep breath and puffed it back out. I couldn't help but read her aura, and what do you know, she had a lot of different emotions going on there too. She was not only excited, but happy and fulfilled as well. I detected a little bit of jealousy too, like Trunks did. I bet she would've loved to have gone there at my age, at a time when there's still a long lifespan ahead of you, about 20-30 years worth.

    "You know, this all sounds crazy to me. I don't really know why they would sink so much into us Pokémon. But then again, it sounds crazy enough to work and there’s no better alternative, the way I see it. So," she turned to Trunks, "They're coming back tonight, right?"

    Trunks nodded. Mom opened her mouth to say something, before...

    "YOU THREE!" Dad came along again, shouting at us the same way he shouted at that trainer. Stumpy and Twig was by his side. He charged over to Trunks and shook him by the shoulders.

    "Pup! I trusted you to keep her safe from the shore and you went behind my back! What were you thinking?"

    Trunks looked down, trying to avoid eye contact with him. "Dad, I--"

    "Not another word out of you. And you," he stormed over to Mom next, almost touching the tip of her muzzle, "You're encouraging this sort of behaviour from them? With those humans?"

    She didn't respond, but stared him down, looking the most fierce I've seen her before. Dad grunted, and finally turned to me, pinching one of my head appendages.

    "Ow, Dad!" I said.

    "Quiet! I'm grounding you, girl. You're to stay inside until you think about how silly you're behaving!"

    "What did I do?"

    He yanked on it and pulled me about, knocking me onto the floor. Dad started walking away to wherever he was taking me, dragging me through the dirt. I didn't even understand what was going on, poor me, so I started wailing. Really, what else would I have done in that situation? It was the first time he ever got that physically aggressive with me. Even though he always had a stick up his ass about something, it was hard to think of him as my Dad at this point. My cries seemed to work, or at least, I hoped it was because of that, as he let me go. I looked back up, only to see he was knocked to the ground by a fist. My Mom's fist. I crawled away from them, still sniffling like the confused Riolu I was. I watched the two of them argue as he grovelled on the floor, nursing his nose.

    "LIAM!" Mom said, "Get back up and look at me, for God's sake!"

    That was what I meant by him being a different case. That was his true name, the name given to him by his trainer.

    Slowly, Liam pulled himself up, and tried to grapple Mom in a hold as she resisted. There was that murderous look of his again.

    "How dare you call me that, I trusted you never to say that name again!"

    "It's a bit too late for that, look at what you did to the poor girl!"

    He glanced at me briefly, and I shielded my eyes from him. I shut myself in my own world as they continued their spat.

    "Those humans have her possessed! They want to take her away and you're defending them! You know how badly they treated me!"

    "Damn it, Liam, your trainer left you years ago! Move on and grow a pair, Mon!"

    "Don't you talk to me like that, you never should've told her about them in the first place! All they've ever done is ruin everything they touch!"

    "Oh, that's rich coming from you. All the stuff you brought back from the mainland, those hunting methods, that tent to shield us from the rain, the tire swing, the notepad, the box, you would never have thought of that if it wasn't for them. But sure, keep moaning about those humans while you use everything of theirs."

    "That's not--"

    "Go on this really long tantrum all you like, but don't drag us down along with you. Your daughter has the chance to make something of herself out there. We all could've done something about it, and yet you thought this was the best for all of them, shutting them out from the world entirely?"

    "Don't act so high and mighty. You agreed to look out for this island with me in the first place. You wanted the same thing."

    "Yes, I did, and I was stupid. But after such a long time, you start to do some thinking, and now I'm thinking this was a horrible idea. I don’t want to bring down my kids forever, you know, it’s about time some of them left the nest.”

    There was silence again. I opened my eyes and saw the two of them had stopped fighting. They just looked at each other, panting aggressively as a sea of emotions floating in the air around them. So many that there wasn't any way I could've read into them with my limited powers. Dad, or rather, Liam, crossed his arms.

    "Still, my word is final, and if I say this is a bad idea, then you should all follow suit. None of you know what it's like to be close to them only to have it all ripped away from you. I was young once too, you know."

    "Enough, Liam," Mom said, "What happened was out of your control. You told me so yourself, he only had to let you go because he lost his license. He was pleading for you to stay with him while they released you back into the wild. Are you really going to hold a grudge against him forever?"

    "I'm not talking about it any more and that's that." He turned back to me, no longer looking as angry as he did before, but something about his face made me sick to my stomach. I couldn't see him the same way I had before.

    "Pup, you have no idea what you want. If you go out with them, no matter how kindly they treat you at first, they will make you regret it. Forget all of this happened and live the rest of your life in peace."

    "No, Liam," I said. I stood up and balled my paws into fists. "That's not fair."

    His eyes twitched.

    "Life isn't fair, pup. Lots of Pokémon I knew had dreams like yours, only to wind up dead. This will turn out no different then they did, believe me."

    "You don't understand! Bro was out there too, he knew what it was like just as much as you, and told me how much the world sucked as well, yet even he said this was okay! Why won’t you listen to us?

    "Because you're both young and inexperienced. Now enough of this silly arguing. Forget about them, come have dinner with us, and sleep, like we've always done."

    Looking back on it, I could understand where he was coming from as well. Once I had that same sort of experience, it sticks with you, you know. There were quite a few wild Pokémon I met after my escape that had the same thoughts of going to the city and living there, or convincing a trainer to capture them and come along with them on their journey.

    There was one such Heracross I met. Strong as Heracrosses go. He could've toppled a tree if he so much blinked at it. We travelled together while I was on my way to Jubilife, and he wanted to see everything there like I did. In particular, he wanted to climb up to the top of the tallest tower there and glide from it, which would've made him happy. He got cocky though, and all it took was the claw of a stray Gabite to put him out of commission. There were a few more Pokémon I could think of that ended up the same way as he did, but I can't come up with more at the top of my head.

    Point is, there were indeed many Pokémon that had goals of their own but ended up being killed because of one bad egg. Or in Liam's case, as I’d learn later, one event gone awry that ended up with his trainer having to give him up, all because of another Pokémon of his that suddenly snapped in the middle of a gym fight and killed the opponent’s Pokémon. From what I heard, his trainer was a nice guy with goals of his own too. He taught him a lot of what Liam brought back to the island, after all, and Liam happened to inherit his cooking skills. I wouldn’t have blamed Liam if he had some chip on his shoulder because of being separated and left to fend for himself.

    That still doesn't change the fact that Liam was being a huge asshole about it.

    Something about what he said just set me off. It was the way he said it, like I didn't know a piece of crap from a small rock. Like I said, I wasn't that smart, but I knew when he was talking down to me. So I swiped at his face, so hard that I drew blood from his cheek.

    He nursed it. Another moment of silence. I could hear my heart leaping from my throat. I could hear the swaying of the trees above us. I could hear the gasps of both Mom and Trunks. I knew what was coming before it happened. He kicked me, sending me flying to a nearby tree. Then, there was nothing.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2018
  9. Chibi Pika

    Chibi Pika Stay positive

    Hey there! I've read up to chapter 10 now. Curio is still the best part of the fic and I love getting to see more of her personality on full display.

    It was really interesting getting to actually see the lessons in humanspeak and get into the actual mechanics of how it compares to Pokespeech. I didn't think we'd be seeing the lessons firsthand, so that was a nice treat, plus it makes it feel more like Shine's deal at the beginning of the fic was actually hard-earned, and not just a convenient way to get him to Kalos on the cheap.

    I'm very interested to see more regarding how the fic fully acknowledges that humans serve Pokemon as food. Carnivore confusion is always a touchy trope in fics that have fully sapient Pokemon, but it goes even further when the Pokemon can straight-up talk. Are livestock Pokemon aware of their situation? Why don't they retaliate? Why isn't is considered cruel to serve them live (at least butcher them first, gah!) Obviously predatory Pokemon in the wild have to be desensitized to it, and at least in that situation, the prey can fight back, as opposed to being literally raised to be food and not doing anything about it. But yeah, I can hardly blame Shine for being so bothered by it, and I hope it gets touched on more.

    Anyway, enough of that--I think you did a good job setting up the interview in chapter 8, so when chapter 9 opened straight into Curio's story, it didn't feel jarring at all. (I know that's something that you were concerned about, but it's working out well so far.) It's great to see all these interactions with her family (wonder how long it's been since she's seen any of them.) Curio's boundless curiosity is apparent even from a young age, and it's only a matter of time before her interest in humans is gonna wind up taking her away from that island . As for how exactly she'll wind up crossing paths with GeL... only time will tell.

    ~Chibi~
     
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  10. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner Peace to the Mountain

    Hey there! Just got through reading this, and I'm glad I did. :D

    I think the number one reason I've enjoyed this so much thus far is the characters. Gosh, Curio especially. Her personality is so entertaining, and her backstory's shaping up nicely. I knew I'd be interested in it just judging by the glimpses we've been getting from early on, and I'm still intrigued to see more. (I'm especially interested in finding out the story behind the arm. With way whatever-it-was that happened affected her in its immediate wake? Yeah. Of course I'm gonna be interested.) Shine's a cool dude, too; I like his determination. Plus I could legit read his speech lessons for a good long while, not even kidding. That stuff fascinates me. And good job on the minor characters thus far, too; they've been fun. (Well, okay, maybe "fun" isn't exactly the right word for a bastard like Liam. :p But memorable for sure.)

    Related: character dynamics. I'm gonna point Curio- and Shine-ward here, too, since their is the most shining example. (No, that wasn't an awkward half-pun. :B) I could tell the really care about each other, and their conversations are a delight to read. Their relationship just feels so natural, you know?

    I guess that's the main word I'd use to describe this story and its world and whatnot: natural. Nothing sticks out at the wrong angle. Nothing's jarring. When the style shifted to Curio's first-person narrative, it did so comfortably. Heck, even tiny little things like her hammerspace bag, which might seem kind of odd in some stories (even though of course there's precedent for it in the games), work just fine here. It's all just executed in a way that doesn't compel me to raise an eyebrow and be all like really now?

    I'm definitely interested to hopefully learn more about GeL further down the line. Wondering if they really were 100% on the level before the mysterious New Management stepped in. I'm curious to see if we'll get as much backstory on other characters down the line as we're getting on Curio; I'm enjoying hers, and I suspect I'd enjoy theirs, too. Overall, I'm legit interested in reading more. Well done. :D
     
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  11. NebulaDreams

    NebulaDreams A Dense Irritating Miniature Beast of Burden

    Thanks a lot, @Chibi Pika! I'm glad to see the transition between narrative voices paid off, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the chapters to come. And welcome, @Sike Saner! I'm glad to hear you've been enjoying the characters so much, with the main characters as well as the minor characters. That's the most consistent compliment I've gotten from other people's comments on this fic so far.

    I will be uploading the next two chapters together, as they work best as one chapter, but had to split them up for the sake of format shifting.


    ---

    The Curious and the Shiny Chapter 14. Not The Last Goodbyes, For The Most Part

    Being a human, you probably wouldn't know what it feels like to be trapped inside a ball. I don't really know for sure either. I'm sure Shine would be able to tell you since he probably knows more about the science behind that, but I don't know squat about it. That's where I ended up when I got knocked out anyway, inside a Pokéball.

    Being unconscious and possibly concussed, my thoughts drifted in and out at random times, playing back random scenes in my head, like that of Azzy and Liam. I can't really describe the feeling of it, but it's like you're there and you're not at the same time. Like you're floating in jelly, or something, At least floating in jelly sounds tasty. In there, it feels like nothing.

    Time passed, and it didn't pass at all. But when I next woke up, it had become night. A few hours must've passed since Liam mopped the floor with my scrawny ass and played curling with it. I didn't stir right away as I was battered and bruised from the previous encounter. But when I next opened my eyes, I saw the blue and white polka dots of Azzy's coat, along with the rest of my family crowding around me, save for Liam. When they saw I was awake, Mom gestured to the duo and Mackenzie pulled out a bottle from a box of his. He sprayed it all over my body. It stung a little, but in little time, I felt my young self again, like I hadn't been battered against a tree moments before. It's kind of funny how potions work like that, but I guess that's the magic of modern medicine.

    I slowly got to my feet and looked around me. I was in the same spot I waited with Trunks before and the boat was there too. A pang of excitement nestled into my gut as I realised what was happening.

    "Where's Li-, I mean Dad?"

    "Don't you worry about him now dear, "Mom said, “You were trapped inside a Pokéball, but I took care of it."

    "Are you really leaving?" Stumpy said, looking misty eyed.

    "Yeah. I've got stuff I need to do."

    Out of nowhere, he started wailing. Not really out of nowhere since crying was mostly what he did, but he was much louder about it this time and looked like more of a mess. It didn't take long for the runt Twig to start too, as the apple doesn't really fall far from the tree. Usually, I would've turned them away, but instead, seeing as how I wouldn't be seeing them for a while, I went up to both of them and hugged them together.

    "C'mon, you goofballs," I said, "I'll be back someday."

    "I'll miss you though!" Stumpy said, "And, and, that sounds like a really long time to me. Who knows what I'll do without you?"

    "Too long! Too long!" Twig said.

    I patted both of their backs and pulled away from them, leaving the two to comfort each other. I looked to Trunks next and climbed up his legs, and when I got to his head, he grabbed me by my coat and pulled me in for a hug. Well, he almost crushed me, truth be told. Lucario have strong grips.

    "I'll hear from you soon," he said, "Promise me you'll try to keep in touch."

    "I will, bro."

    "C'mere, dear," Mom said. Trunks pulled me away and gave me to Mom for her to cradle me in her arms. She touched the tip of my nose.

    "I'm so proud of you, dear." She leaned in for a kiss and whispered to me. "Once you get out, go to the top of Jubilife Tower for me." Before I questioned what she said, she lifted me back down to the floor, leaving me to board Azzy and Mackenzie's boat. But I turned around to Trunks, remembering what he said before we talked to Mom.

    “Wait!” I said to the duo on the boat, “Can I talk to bro quickly?”

    They nodded, and I ran away from the crowd, Trunks following behind me. He knelt down to my level.

    “Make it quick or else Dad will come back.”

    “Yeah, I will. So aren’t you coming with us?”

    He shook his head.

    “Unfortunately, they said they would only be taking in one Pokémon from each area your age. But they said they would try to help me out in the future.”

    “Aw,” I said, frowning, “Sorry.”

    He smiled. “Don’t be. As long as you’re fine going out and make the most of your studies, that’s enough to make me happy.”

    “But what about Dad though?”

    Trunks blew a Razzberry, another rare thing for him to do. “Whatever, he can live with it. Just focus on yourself.” He put a paw on my shoulder. “There’s a future for you out there. Chase after it. Oh!” His eyes widened and he ran back to the group, and I followed him. At last, Trunks gave me back the drawing set from before, and I squeezed it tightly. The duo got back on board and gestured over to me. I looked to my family one last time and waved to them.

    "I'll talk to you all soon, I swear it! I promise I’ll make you proud!"

    And so, little me boarded the ship, waving back at my family while Mackenzie started the boat. Soon enough, they drove away from the island, and I continued waving back until my family faded into the background. Part of me wondered where Dad was in all of this, but since the spat I had earlier, I shrugged it off and turned to the duo. Mackenzie held a Pokéball. I recognised it as the thing Dad trapped me in, and I took a step back, feeling sick again. Azzy smiled and took my paw in his.

    "Don't worry, we'll keep you safe here. We'll release you when we get there."

    I eased up a little and let Mackenzie approach me with the Pokéball. He knelt before me and held it out to me, like that trainer did before. Something inside me knew that would seal the deal between us, the part where I would finally agree to be taken to GeL. I tapped it and soon enough, I was sealed inside.

    I would learn later that winter hadn't been so kind on my family months after I got away from the island. I met up with Trunks and Mom a while ago, and they had gotten out of it fine. The rest had perished in the cold trying to trek through the frozen ocean with them, but that's for another time, I guess.

    ---

    The Curious and the Shiny Chapter 15. Ambrette's Beach Bum

    "Right," Curio said, holding a paw up, "That's enough for now."

    Tony complied and pressed the record button to stop. There was a moment of silence in the room as Curio stretched her arms, squirming in her seat. Tony hummed to himself and looked down to Shine, who had stood up.

    "Wait, they died?"

    "Yup," Curio said, yawning, "Didn't get to see it happen of course."

    "I'm so sorry."

    "Feh, don't be. It happened a long time ago, so it wasn't anything I cried my eyes out over. Just goes to show how lucky I was when I got out." She let out a toothy grin. "At least I didn't turn into a Riolu sized popsicle like Stumpy did."

    "Don't joke about that!" Shine shouted. His face trembled as tears began to form in his eye. "You lost half your family, that's terrible! I knew how hung up you were when you stopped hearing back from them in GeL, so why?"

    "Well, I got over it. Besides, it's not your business to decide what I do and don't get to joke about."

    "But, you told me how much you missed them. After all of that, you..." Shine closed his eye and let the stream fall down his face. "Oh, Curio."

    His sobs echoed in the room. Tony tended to him, stroking his back while looking at Curio.

    "Oh please," Curio said, "Stop crying, Shine. If this is going to happen every time I talk about something tragic that happens, you'd be floodin’ this whole room in no time."

    Shine didn't stop. Curio sighed, then frowned, rubbing the back of her neck.

    "Aw, damn it. Now you're makin' me upset." Curio lurched out of her seat to embrace Shine, when Tony stepped out of the way to leave the two alone. Curio stroked his mane and he looked up at her, letting Curio wipe away his tears.

    "I'm fine," Curio said, "I promise. You don't need to be sad on my behalf."

    "I know," Shine said, sniffling, "I don't even know what it's like to lose part of your family. The closest I ever had was back in GeL."

    "It's complicated, that's all I'll say. Now," Curio leaned in to hug him, "Please stop. From now on, there'll be no crying until the end, okay?"

    Shine didn't answer.

    "I'll take that as a yes."

    Curio let go and stood up, looking to Tony.

    "We'll carry on tomorrow, alright? For now, I'm gonna buzz off somewhere else."

    "Wouldn't you like to stay the night with Shine, though? I can pull up a bed if you want."

    "No thanks, not in this shithole, and especially not with you."

    Tony was about to respond when Curio made her way towards the door.

    "Hold on," Shine said, "Where will you stay?"

    "The beach, of course. I found the perfect spot earlier, so that's where I'll stay. See ya in the morning." She smiled before walking off. The door slammed not long after. Tony laughed to himself.

    "Well," Tony said, "She's quite the character, isn't she?"

    "She's rude, that's what she is. I'm sorry for her behaviour today."

    "Don't mention it. I deal with stuff like this all the time at work. I've put up with worse, but that's part and parcel of working in a team."

    Shine hummed. He had known one of Tony's co-workers was particularly unpleasant to deal with, not only being resistant to Shine but also messing up Tony's paperwork on a few occasions when the workload was busy. He came back one day and told him while he smelled of beer.

    "I guess so. I'll tell her to be a bit more patient with you next time."

    "I appreciate the effort." Tony knelt down to Shine and combed his hand through his fur. "Your coat's all sticky. You weren't slimed on by any chance?"

    Shine's eye went wide. "How did you guess?"

    "Got a bit of it in my hair as a kid once, from a trainer who couldn't keep control of his Goomy. Nasty stuff, that is. I think this calls for a bath."

    "You sure?" he said, looking at the set up, "Don't you need to back up the video first?"

    "I can do that later," Tony said as he turned off the lightboxes around him, leaving only the dim ceiling lamp on. "I'll get changed so we can start, shall we?"

    ---

    Moments later, Shine went with Tony to the bathroom, who was covered with anti-static gear and slippers to keep himself grounded. He sat the big Pokémon down on the smooth floor and pulled up a chair behind him before turning on the shower. He grabbed the head with a rubber-gloved hand and started rinsing the gunk out of Shine's coat.

    "So," Tony said, "How did you find her?"

    "Well, I did say it was a long story. I'll confess, I drew out 20000 of your money to get there."

    "Hmm," Tony sprayed Shine in the back with his special shampoo, "I did say that was only for emergencies, like if I was out on a trip and you had to stay at home."

    "Yes, I guess that wasn't much of an emergency. Still, I had to get there as soon as possible. I didn't know if I would've found her if I didn't ride a Dragonite there."

    "Oh, so that's how you got there. What was it like? Can't say I've ever ridden one before."

    "It'll make you sick, but besides that, I'm in debt. What I brought out wasn't enough, so I'm paying it back by teaching some of the dragons the human tongue."

    "Oh really? That's impressive, Shine. Glad to see you're putting your skills to good use."

    "Thanks."

    Shine squirmed a little as Tony scrubbed where the Goodra slime hit. It felt thick when he felt it hit him, so it must've taken some force to get out, after all.

    "I'm sorry I ran off without much notice, I should've waited until you got home from work."

    "No, it's alright. Ines told you we were swamped, so I couldn't blame you if you were itching to go out. I always thought you should be going out more often, to be honest."

    "But you're my trainer, I should tell you these sorts of things."

    "Trainer in name only. You're a mature Luxray now, I wouldn't hold it against you if you went on more trips like these. You've proven yourself to be independent, which is more than I can say for a lot of Pokémon I've met. Don't you reckon?"

    It crossed Shine's mind often. He would've liked to see Lumiose City, if only to see the Plaza Tower there and the massive library, one of the biggest in the world in Kalos' capital. He didn't meet many Pokémon in Ambrette that shared the same wish as him, not even Bauble. Still, there was nothing stopping him from going out more, but when he thought about it, he often thought about what would go wrong on the way, like if he was attacked by a random gang of wild Pokémon.

    "I suppose."

    "Well then, something to think about. Say, if you want to make it up for the money you took, I would suggest you to cut the sweet spending for a bit. Deal?”

    “Deal.”

    ---

    After the bath, the two headed off to the studio again to pick the camera up. Shine thought back to the conversation Curio had with Tony prior to storming off, and remembered she left without taking her bag with her, which was still on the couch. When Shine saw it, he turned to Tony.

    "I'll be right back," he said, "I've got to take this to Curio."

    Tony nodded as Shine picked up the bag, carrying the handle in his mouth, and headed out of the apartment to the beach Curio said she would be at, which she was. She was alone on the sandy shore, running alongside the ocean waves which crashed in at a low tide. She stopped as she approached Shine.

    "Yo." She waved a paw in the air. "Thanks for picking that up for me."

    Shine handed the bag over to her as she patted the slobber off.

    "Well, if I'm being honest, I kind of planted it there for you to pick up."

    "You did?" Shine said. "Why?"

    "Eh, gave you a good excuse to come running after me. I could tell you wanted to talk to me after."

    "I suppose."

    Curio gestured to a spot in the middle of the shore as the two sat together, watching the sea come in and out with a pod of Lapras swimming in the distance.

    "Your trainer chose a good place to live, at least."

    "Yes, about Tony," Shine said, "Are you still upset with him being my trainer?"

    "Course not."

    "Then why are you acting like this towards him?"

    "I dunno. Just a gut feeling, I guess. Nothing to do with him in particular, he's nice as far as I know."

    "Like I said, please be more patient with him. The last thing he needs after work is a Pokémon with spikes arguing with him."

    "Alright, alright," Curio held hew paws up in front of her, "I'll ease up on him. I just need time, is all."

    Shine looked Curio in the eye and inched close to her. She must've sensed his emotions as she put a paw around him.

    "You're still thinking about what happened, aren't you?"

    "Well," Shine said, "Yes. You just said it so suddenly. So what actually happened to your family, will you tell me?"

    "Eh, maybe another time. I don't wanna go into too much detail of what happened that winter."

    "What about the other two?"

    "Oh. Yeah, they're fine. Last I saw them, Trunks was living with a trainer in Canalave City. Not exactly how I would’ve liked him to end up, but it’s better than nothing, I suppose. Mom lives with that trainer's family as a permanent guest. She's blind now, you see."

    "Oh. Sorry."

    "Again, don't be. It's pretty much just a slap on the wrist for her since she can still use aura. Kind of makes the thing a bit pointless, except she can't see buildings and stuff."

    "How did that happen?"

    "Apparently, well, you see both my eyes?"

    Curio pointed to her face where her green eyes glinted in the moonlight.

    "Yeah, unusual for a Lucario. Like I said, her eyes were both green and red. Turns out it was part of a rare defect. Not that I remember the name of it, but still, she lost her sight over time, and seeing how she's still kicking, that isn't too bad."

    "I see. So, do you think you'd be ready to talk about GeL next?"

    "Yeah. As much as I hate it, I can't keep avoiding the past like Liam, or Dad did. I guess that's what I learned from this experience so far.” Then, Curio chuckled. “God, that sounds cheesy,"

    "It's not, Curio, that sounds great."

    "I guess so."

    Curio yawned and lied down on the sand with her bag behind her head. She turned to Shine.

    "I'm beat. I've gotta get some shut eye. You're probably knackered as well, aren't ya?"

    Shine nodded.

    "Well, night."

    Curio closed her eyes and started snoring, not in the way one naturally does when they actually have a snoring problem, but in the way one does when they want someone to buzz off. Shine took the hint and returned to his apartment with Tony waiting for him. They reviewed some of the footage together with Curio, which totalled to about three hours worth of video, and decided to leave it for later before turning in for the night. Before Shine went to bed, he caught a glance at the window in the kitchen. It was still open. His collar was resting on the windowsill.
     
  12. NebulaDreams

    NebulaDreams A Dense Irritating Miniature Beast of Burden

    The Curious and the Shiny Chapter 16. Ambrette's Climbers

    The Limbo Arc.

    "Time builds itself painlessly around them. Their only landmarks are the flavour of the moment they are living and the markings on the walls." - La Jetée

    The next day started on an odd note. At the moment Tony said his goodbyes to Shine to head to work, he came back in with a bucket covering his head, dripping with water and covered in glitter. Tony had shock written on his face, probably the most surprised Shine had seen him in a long time. Shine himself found his maw hanging open.

    "What on Earth?" Shine said.

    "That's what I want to know!" Ugh!" Tony wrung his shirt dry, although the rest of his face was sparkling pink. "I can't go to the office like this, I need to get changed! ****, I'm gonna be late at this rate!"

    Tony rushed to the shower to rid himself of the sparkly substance. Shine thought he'd save some time for him by getting him a new change of clothes, all wrapped up beforehand for him, which he picked up with his mouth and laid at the nearest couch. He also thought he'd see who was responsible, if they were still around, so he turned on his golden vision to see through the walls outside. He saw a Lucario hanging around on the opposite side of the floor, although one particular detail about their left arm told Shine everything he needed to know about who the perpetrator was. He clenched his teeth, waiting for Tony to leave so he could tell Curio off.

    Time passed and Tony emerged from the bathroom, scrambling to put his new change of clothes on. As soon as he got dressed, Tony headed for the door, but not before saying this.

    "Pardon my language."

    Shine waited a moment before checking outside, and who else would be waiting for him but Curio, sporting that toothy grin of hers.

    "Yo! Hope you slept well after yesterday!"

    "Why did you do that, Curio? After what I told you about being patient with him?"

    "Yeah, I understood that. Doesn't mean I can't twist his arm a little, huh?"

    "Yes, but he might be late for work thanks to you."

    "Oh really?" Curio said, showing a bit of mock concern. "Oh well, he'll be fine. Now," she rubbed her paws together, "What're we up to today?"

    "Apologise first, and I'll tell you."

    "Alright, fine, sorry."

    "And say you're sorry to Tony when you meet him as well."

    "Yeah, I got it! Now, what're we doing?"

    "Well," Shine said, moving back into the house with Curio, and thought about what the two would do around town since Curio would be the tourist in this situation. There were plenty of places, but where would he start? There was the library, that was his go to place, but she would probably find that boring, or would she?

    "Yeah," Curio said, stopping his train of thought, "The library sounds dumb. How about I start?"

    "But I didn't say--" He stopped himself. Again, Curio was as omniscient as ever. "Alright, fine. You decide what to do."

    "Okey dokey. How about a house tour?"

    "I thought you said this place was a dunghole."

    "Yeah, I exaggerated a bit. It would be nice to see what you get up to, though."

    "Alright then. Follow me."

    The first place he thought of was his bed, right in the corner of Tony's bedroom, which had a plush bed and a lengthy bookcase installed near Shine's height at the back. Curio smiled at the sight of it.

    "Cute. Is that it?"

    "No," Shine said, looking from left to right to find other points of interest, then it struck him.

    "Oh, just remembered! Barley should've sent me a friend request."

    "A what now?" Curio said, head cocked. Shine led the way to their computer, which was switched off. Shine pressed the power button and climbed up onto the seat as the fans whirred up.

    "Oh!" Curio said, "This is one of them things! Haven't touched those in ages! So it still lets you look anything up and stuff?"

    "Yes," Shine said with a smile, "But you can do much more than that. You can watch videos, talk to friends with a connection, and much more. It's really taken off over the past few years."

    The room was silent for a bit as they stared at the blank screen. Shine turned to her.

    "This might take a little while," he said.

    "Whatever you say, mon," Curio said. Her stomach growled. "I'll be right back."

    "Where are you going?" Shine said, but Curio didn't answer, going into the kitchen without his say-so. He thought of stopping her, as it was customary to ask first before raiding someone else's fridge, but he was sure Tony didn't mind. Besides, Curio wasn't in as comfortable a position as Shine was.

    "Want anythin'?" Curio called from the other room.

    "No thanks," Shine said. Later, Curio returned to his side, munching on a cucumber as she stared at the start-up screen of the PokeOS.

    "What now?" she said.

    "Oh, I've got it." Shine swung in his seat and put his paw on a trackball, which he used to navigate the screen in lieu of a mouse. He clicked on his icon, bringing up the home screen, with a wallpaper of him and Tony together. Curio pointed at the multiple icons.

    "What're all of those?"

    "They're programs that are built in with software."

    "And what's that?"

    "That's just the mouse cursor. Will you let me search something up quickly?"

    "What's that?"

    "You know how to search up something, you just type in whatever comes to your head and there it is."

    "What's type?"

    Shine couldn't help but laugh, considering Curio had her paw on a computer a few times in GeL before.

    "You're doing this on purpose, aren't you?"

    "Yeah, I am. Go ahead."

    Shine brought up the web browser and inhaled.

    "Bring up voice mode."

    The computer beeped.

    VOICE MODE ON.

    "Search, PokeSpeaker's Forum, first result."

    His words brought the home page of the titular forum up. There was 1 message in the inbox, a friend request from Barley, who went by the screen name of 'ChildishAudino', which Shine accepted.

    "So what is this site?" Curio asked.

    "Oh, this is a place where human-speaking Pokémon can talk online, or trainers that want to get involved in the community as well. It’s small, but it has its place."

    "Woah, awesome. I never woulda known this place woulda existed if you hadn't shown me."

    Shine swivelled to her direction.

    "Well, there are lots of places online for little communities like ours. Besides, seeing how you're a teacher yourself, I'm surprised you haven't come across this before."

    "Ya know," Curio said, biting off a huge chunk, "I don't boffer wiff that thort of thuff. I travel a lot, and iff not like I can afford a fanfy computer like that."

    "Really? Have you not been to the library once since you escaped? They do have computers there you can use for free."

    "A few timeth." Curio swallowed. "Never really had the need to be cooped up in a library all day."

    "Well, that's a good place to start. And if you need to find someone to hire you, this site's the place to post. You can set up an account here now if you like."

    "Eh, I'll pass." Then, Curio's face lit up, and she tapped the monitor.

    "Don't do that," Shine said, "The screen's sensitive."

    "Hold up, I'm trying to think! Ooh, can you search up GeL and see if anything's there?"

    Shine shook his head. "Sadly, I've found nothing."

    "No way, I'll see it when I believe it. Move over."

    Curio wheeled the chair out of the way so she could take Shine's place. She brought up a new tab without even having to ask, and typed in 'Gestalt Learning Facility' with the digits of her paws. Only a few hundred results showed up and Curio clicked through all of them, only to find all of them were unrelated to the GeL project, just links leading to Gestalt theory. Curio sighed.

    "Dammit."

    "Sorry, Curio," Shine shifted himself forward, wheeling him back in place, "As far as I know, all of it's been covered up. Me and Tony looked, even at the old archives in all the libraries we could go to and couldn't find anything. If it's not on the Web, it's not anywhere else."

    Curio gave Shine a hard look, and for a moment, Shine could see that hollowness in her eyes, the same one he saw days before when he first mentioned GeL. Then it disappeared and Curio looked her usual chirpy self again.

    "Oh well," she said, "Worth a shot anyway." Curio popped the last of the cucumber in her mouth, chewing noisily. "Warra go outh noo?"

    "Please talk after you've eaten."

    Curio narrowed her eyes at him and swallowed.

    "I said, wanna go out now?"

    "Right now?" Shine said, leaping off the chair, "Don't you want to see more of this?"

    "Eh, later. We'd be starin' at it all day unless we went out. Besides, you're still my tour guide, ya know."

    "That's true," Shine nodded, "Well, where to next?"

    "The centre, of course! There's always somethin' interesting going on there!"

    "Right, town square it is." Shine went towards the door, and as he caught a glimpse of the windowsill in the kitchen, he thought back to what he saw last night.

    "Actually," Shine said, stopping Curio. "Can you help me put my collar back on?"

    "Really?" she said, frowning, "You want that on?"

    "Yes, if you'd please. It's in the kitchen, the red thing by the window. You shouldn't miss it."

    "Whatever." Curio went to retrieve it and came up behind Shine, adjusting the collar around his neck. "I thought you would've preferred it without it, being free and all."

    "I don't have to put it on," Shine said, grunting as Curio clipped it around his neck, "It's just a present Tony got, so I'd like him to see it on."

    Curio mumbled to herself, and looked at Shine with his collar on at last. She put a paw on her hip. "Nah, really doesn't suit you."

    "Oh well," he said, "Let's get a move on."

    Shine made his way out of the complex with Curio and walked through the streets to the town centre as it started to become more crowded towards noon. Tourists in casual wear came with their Pokémon, carrying various things such as toys, balls and surfboards for the beach as the tide was picking up, and the stalls were already out in the very centre of the town, selling bread, berries, and other knicknacks every visitor could hope to chance upon. Shine looked over to Curio, who was not beside him. Instead, she was near a stall that sold pastries, reaching out towards a scone while the owner was tending to his stock at the back. Shine went up to her quickly before she could lay her paw on it, and nudged her leg.

    "What are you doing?" he whispered.

    "What does it look like I'm doing?" Curio replied.

    "Can I help you at all?" the owner chimed in, staring at the one armed Lucario, dumb-struck. He caught Shine and smiled to him. "Oh, hello. Do you want the usual?"

    Shine found himself sniffing at the contents of the stall and leaned towards them. He only got so far before he shook his head and pulled away. "No thanks, I'm afraid. Tony told me to cut out the sweet spending for now."

    He nodded. "Fair enough. Our turnovers will be waiting for you in the future." Shine bowed to him and shot a glance at Curio to wrangle her out of the scene.

    "Were you about to steal from him?"

    "Yeah," Curio said, "So?"

    "So? I don't want your first day to be spent talking to the city watch."

    "Second day. And I wouldn't've needed to if you hadn't alerted him."

    "Alright, just try not to get into any trouble while you're here, okay?"

    "Fine."

    They wandered around a bit more until Shine caught sight of a familiar bread stall where the Trainer-Bunnelby duo, Hilda and Bobby, waited. Bobby saw Shine first and started to bounce over to him, only to trip halfway through and land on his face. He groaned as he picked himself up.

    "You alright?" Shine said.

    "Yeah," Bobby said, smiling through his bloody nose, "Glad to see you've come back."

    "How did you know I was out?"

    "Tony, of course. But I didn't see you for three days so I had a hunch anyway. Up for some biscuits?"

    "Yes please." Shine went with Bobby to the stall. The Bunnelby sprung up on the table counter, waving his paws in front of him as he almost lost balance, but was able to steady himself in time. The owner Hilda noticed Shine next, giving him a dimpled smile.

    "'Ello!" she said, "Where've you been?"

    "Out on a trip, ma'am," Shine said, "How're the kids?"

    "Oh, same old, same old. They won't stop pesterin' Bobby each time they get off school. Won't let 'im up, not even for one second, I tell you." She guffawed in the air, being her loud self, as usual. Then she turned to Curio and rubbed her hands together.

    "Hello there! You're a pretty girl, aren't you, yes you are, yes you are!" She spoke in a high pitched squeal as she approached Curio, ready to pet her. Curio frowned.

    "Are you high or somethin', lady?" she said in human tongue.

    "Ooh, why this one has quite the mouth on her, doesn’t she?" Hilda retracted her hands and her eyes grew wide, though nonetheless happy to be looking at a Lucario, as she often did as far as Shine knew. "You certainly bring the most interesting Pokémon with you, Shiny-dear."

    "Yes, you could say that," Shine said. "Oh, how rude of me. Curio, meet Hilda. Hilda, meet Curio." He glanced at Curio and prodded her with his tail. If all went well, Curio would let down her guard and be the civilised Pokémon she was meant to be, as Shine thought. She smiled, and handed Hilda her paw.

    "Nice meetin' ya. Lay off the baby talk and we can be friends."

    "Will try," Hilda returned the offer and gave her a handshake, "Don't mind me, it's just force of habit, that's all. You close with Shine?"

    "Yeah, I guess."

    "Are you closer than that, perhaps?"

    "Dream on, lady."

    Hilda gave her signature boisterous laugh and walked to the opposite end of her store. "Only just teasin', I love a bit o' gossip. 'Ere."

    She returned with two bags of homemade biscuits, which was tradition for Shine to get whenever they met. Curio beamed at the sight of it.

    "For you and Shiny-dear." She handed one bag to Curio and gestured for Shine to lean up on the counter. He did so and she wrapped the bag around his collar. "'Ave one now if you'd like."

    "Well, gee, thanks." Curio undid the plastic wrap and devoured one of the biscuits. She hummed as she chewed.

    "What do you put in thith, thith is goof!"

    Another dimpled smile. "That's a secret, dearie." She turned to Shine. "Anything planned for t'day?"

    "Why yes, I'm showing Curio around the place, since she's new here."

    "Oh, is she?" Hilda said, "Well, I hope you two ‘ave fun. It's nice seein' you again, and to meet you as well, Curio-dear."

    Shine bowed while Curio smiled back at Hilda. "Keep up the good work, lady," she said, popping another biscuit in her mouth, "Peath."

    They went off to explore more of the stalls, while were made up of some familiar faces that greeted Shine and not-so familiar faces that stared at the two as they passed by. Shine was beginning to notice the attention he was getting, and he looked at Curio, who didn't seem to care less as she went through Hilda's batch.

    "Doesn't it bother you whenever you get looks with that arm?" Shine said, "I'm sure you notice it a lot with that aura of yours."

    "Nah, not really," Curio said, "Let 'em look. If they don't like it, they can get stuffed, really."

    Shine smiled. "That's something to live by, I suppose." Shine remembered how he felt when he first lost his eye and how difficult it was to feel normal around the other subjects in GeL, never mind the numerous issues he had with depth perception afterwards.

    Next, they went closer to the seaside, where the tourist parts of the area usually bustled, and today was no exception. As usual, there were lines of people and Pokémon waiting outside for ice cream vendors, and the occasional screaming toddler that came out of the arcades as well. They walked on the pavement, looking into the views of the amusements as Curio pointed to several of the machines there.

    "Look!" she said.

    "What am I looking at exactly?" Shine said. Curio patted his shoulder and brought him along with her to see a crane game filled with all sorts of Pokémon plushies. She flashed Shine another toothy grin.

    "You reckon I could beat one of these?" she said.

    "Probably not. They're rigged."

    "Yeah, I know it's mostly about luck, but I still have a chance, don't I?"

    "As long as you have tokens first."

    "Yeah, that would help." She looked from her left to her right, then clicked her paw. "X-ray vision!"

    "What?"

    "Yeah, use your x-ray vision to see if there are any of them tokens lying about!"

    Shine chuckled to himself. "You're joking, right?"

    "No, I'm dead serious!"

    "Look, my golden vision can see through walls and buildings to detect people, much like your aura. I'm not some magical coin-seeking fairy."

    "Well," she said, pointing to the area behind her, "Let's look anyway."

    He wondered what the point of all this was as he wandered the arcades along with Curio in her token-seeking escapades. Their results proved fruitless until he caught sight of a few coins hiding under the crevice of another machine, which Curio picked up with glee. They inserted the coins into the machine, which was enough for one play. Curio flexed her arms, preparing to hit GO.

    "Fat chance," Shine said, "Payouts are usually one in a hundred."

    "I reckon I can be that one then. In fact, I'll bet on it. If I lose, I'll go along with whatever you say for the rest of today. If I win, you can go eat an old shoe."

    He opened his maw to protest, but something in his gut told him he was going to have to get used to her impulsive betting.

    "Fine, you're on."

    "Sweet." Curio slammed the button and the game started. She was eyeing a large Ursaring in the corner, which she targeted with her claw. It descended on the teddy bear, dragging the poor inanimate object by its ear as it brushed past all the other trapped plushies. Then it let go, releasing the giant plush into the winning hole, only to be stuck inside. Shine looked on, gobsmacked. Curio grinned widely as she stuck her paw in the slot and squeezed her prize out. She hugged it in her arms as they walked out into the sunlight again.

    "Told ya so. I hope you like the taste of shoe, Shine."

    "There's no way I'm doing that. You've made your point, I'm not playing along with your bet this time."

    "C'mon, a deal's a deal."

    "Not this time."

    "Aw." Curio stopped and stared at her newly won companion in its beady eyes. "Tell me, is Shine a wuss-puss?" She shook its body gently. "Oh, he is?" Curio turned to Shine again and presented the toy in front of him. "See, even he thinks so and his guts are made of wool!"

    "Oh, har har har. You should be good friends with him then, seeing how your brain is full of wool too."

    The two stared daggers at each other for a moment, then laughed as they embraced each other, two Pokémon and one stuffed bear in arms.

    "You ain't half bad, Sunshine," Curio said.

    "And you." Shine said.

    "Who?" A squawky voice called. The two broke away from each other to see Bauble standing on the floor, beak upturned.

    "You come to steal him away from me?" Bauble said, staring Curio down.

    "And you are?"

    "Oh," Shine said, standing beside the Murkrow. "This is Bauble."

    Curio's eyes lit up as she pointed at her. "Oh yeah, you were that friend he was talking about."

    "Yeah," Bauble said, preening her coat, "And what's it to you?"

    "Oh, so you're jealous, huh? Relax, I'm not competing with you, it's not like some friendship measuring contest."

    "You're spending time with him without me," she said, "That's competition enough."

    Curio shrugged and shoved the Ursaring in the bag, fishing through the rest of its contents with her whole arm in it. "Say, is it true what they say about you Murkrow liking shiny things?"

    "Don't know what you're talkin' about. That won't work on--" Bauble stared in awe as Curio pulled out a red looking stone, a ruby by the looks of it, whose innards gleamed in the sunlight. Curio smiled.

    "You can have it if you want." Curio laid it on the floor and Bauble immediately flocked to pick it up, keeping it stowed away safely in her mouth. Shine looked at Bauble, who looked as happy as a Clamperl.

    "I promise I'll spend time with you as well." Shine said and bowed to her, "Thanks to you, I was able to find an old friend I haven't seen in a long time. I'm truly thankful."

    Bauble laid the stone back on the pavement and smiled at him. "Well, make it up to me later, will ya? I see you've got your collar back as well."

    "Yes, why did you give it back, though? You seemed happy to have it."

    "I know," she said with a wink, "I was just yankin' your tail. Well, have fun, lovebirds."

    Bauble picked the ruby back and bobbed her head to them as she took off in the air, disappearing past the buildings.

    "Seriously," Curio said, "Why does everyone think we're dating?"

    "I haven't a clue."

    Once they had enough of walking through the beach, they decided to go up a path that led to the cliffside, which gave them a good view of the town from up high. They saw the amusements they passed by not moments ago as just a speck beside the blue chunk of sea, and down below the edge, they could see both the aquarium and the marine centre.

    "So," Curio said, "What does Tony actually do? I know he dives and stuff."

    "That's only a small part of the job. A lot of it is just checking out the environment by the seaside, examining the life there and collecting data based off of it. If any Pokémon's in serious danger, his job is to help rescue and rehabilitate them."

    "Sounds exciting."

    "I've heard it can be, but he says it's mostly just dealing with paperwork."

    "Eh, maybe not then."

    Curio stopped, taking a closer look at the building, which was connected to the back of the aquarium and functioned as a backdoor office to it. She squinted her eyes at it, or rather through it, as Shine had seen that look quite a few times whenever she was about to read something's aura. She looked back to Shine and put a paw on her chin quizzically.

    "Say, what do you call those Pokémon that have arms and such, but their lower half is just a fin?"

    "Is this the start of a joke?"

    "Not this time."

    "Ah, well." He hadn't thought of checking what the office was working on the day he heard of the news surrounding Curio. Tony seemed to be busier than usual since he got back, but it didn't occur to him until the aura Pokémon mentioned it. He turned on his golden vision to confirm what Curio was describing, and true to her word, there was a finned Pokémon that rested in some sort of chamber. If he remembered correctly, it was...

    "A Primarina."

    "Huh," Curio said, "Strange. How did that get here?"

    "It's not exceedingly rare to have Alolan Pokémon wash up on this shore, but I've never seen something as big as that here before."

    "Oh yeah?" Curio said, taking a few steps forward, "Well, let's check it out."

    "We can't," Shine said, stopping her, "I'm only really allowed in on the best of days, and that's only because I'm with Tony. Why would they let a random Lucario waltz in?"

    "Well, I could just say I'm his new Pokémon and leave it at that. But why not sneak in?"

    "Absolutely not. If it's resting, it's extremely important that we don't disturb it. We don't know why they're there in the first place."

    "Well, we can try to take a closer peek, can't we?"

    "No," he said flatly. Curio crossed her arms.

    "I don't like your attitude. Where's your sense of adventure gone, for godssakes?"

    "That's got nothing to do with that. I'm just following his rules, as you should do this time too."

    "Yeah.” She wagged a metal finger at him. "Of course you would, like any good Pokémon tied to its master."

    She stormed off, making her way further down the path as Shine tried to catch up with her. Her paws were dangerously close to the cliff-face.

    "Let's not have this argument now, please. Why does everything have to circle back to me being his Pokémon all the time?"

    "I dunno. Why can't you just take a risk for once?"

    "This isn't about that, this is about the other Pokémon there. Try thinking about them for once."

    "And who came along with you for this interview, huh?!" At this point, Curio was shouting. Her feet stomped on the rocky floor, still inching closer to the edge.

    "Curio, please, get away from the edge, you're gonna fall."

    "Stop tellin' me what to do, Shine! I--" A rock broke out from under her left paw. She slipped off the edge.

    "HOLY ****!" Shine screamed. He scrambled immediately to where Curio had fallen, as he felt his heart beat in his throat. He couldn't see her anywhere below, not even in mid air as he could only see the yellow surface of the beach.

    "Curio," he shouted, "Answer me if you're there, Curio! Curio!"

    "Hey," a distant voice called, "To your right."

    Shine glanced to his side and saw Curio huddled near the cliff, hanging onto the wall with all four paws nestled in the crevices. From far away, she craned her neck to look up to him.

    "Watch your language next time!"

    "Sorry!" he called out, then shook his head, "Wait, it's no time to be joking like that, I need to send for help!"

    "No need! I just have to scale down a bit so I can reach the shore. I should be able to reach my foot down."

    "I can't just leave you hanging there!"

    "Sure you can, I'll be fine, I just have to..." Curio's voice trailed off. Shine looked down to see she was kicking at the wall to see where she could put her foot. She struggled for a while, then stopped.

    "Bugger. Um, Shine, I’m gonna do something very stupid. Meet me back down there." Without warning, Curio leapt off the edge.

    "Curio!" he screamed. Shine bolted through the rest of the cliff, kicking gravel into the air along the way, until he ran down the stairs that lead to the beach area. He saw Curio lying down on her left from far away and scrambled to tend to her.

    "Curio! Are you alright?"

    She looked at Shine and smiled.

    "Yeah, I'll be alright. Can you fetch that bag for me please?" She pointed at it, which was closer to the rock wall on the floor. Shine nodded and brought it to her, which she clutched with her metal arm. "I might have to head to the Pokémon Centre later though."

    Shine cocked his head. "Why?"

    "Well," Curio winced as she raised her right arm, which limped and bent in a way that arms shouldn't normally be able to. "That should be reason enough."

    Shine gasped. He stared at the other arm Curio just broke, and a cluster of thoughts rushed in at once.

    "Why, your arm, what are you g-going to do?! I-I mean, how did that happen? How are they going to replace it? Why--"

    "Don't lay an egg over it. It can be fixed up in a matter of hours," Curio said as she knelt up, supporting herself with her metal arm firmly on the ground, "They can fix cuts and broken bones of course. I had plenty of nasty falls when I was still learning the ropes in Sinnoh, but it's fine if they can easily repair it."

    Shine sighed in relief. No, he told himself, it wasn't like last time where it needed to be replaced fully. It wasn't like his eye which was completely taken out. As long as blood cells could be regenerated or bone tissue could be fixed, it wasn't a problem. That much relieved him. But he felt an urge deep in his gut, something that burned within him with the heat of the spiciest herbs Kalos had to offer. He sunk his paws deep into the sand, then, taking one pace back, he tackled Curio, knocking her to the ground.

    "Shine, what the--"

    "Don't scare me like that, dammit!" Shine roared in her face. "You've got to be more careful around these parts, I don't even know what would happen if I lost you here suddenly! What were you thinking?!"

    Curio frowned.

    "I dunno. I do stupid crap sometimes. Sorry."

    Shine sighed and relaxed, taking himself off of Curio's body.

    "Alright. But for next time, please listen to me if I ask you not to do something. Am I clear?"

    Curio smiled, and rubbed Shine's back with her good arm. "Yeah, you're clear. Help me up a sec."

    Shine hooked his claws into the ground, allowing Curio to use his body for support as she got herself up again. She looked around at the rest of the beach where a few people crowded and stared at her. Ignoring them, she turned back to Shine.

    "As your last duty for tour guide for today, can you take me to the Pokémon Centre?"

    Shine nodded.

    The last leg of the trip passed in silence. Even though the rest of the town was still just as busy as ever, Shine drowned out the noises of the crowd as his thoughts stewed on the events that passed in the past few hours. What was Curio playing at? She didn't seem much different, as she was still her reckless self, but now, he felt like he had to traipse his paws through a path of eggshells to talk with her. If this way how she behaved on a regular day, how would she act when going down to Tony's again, after yesterday's excursion?

    Then, Curio broke the silence.

    "Sorry I'm being an ass at the moment."

    Shine muttered a reply, not wanting to agree or disagree with her.

    "I've got no excuse for it, it's just the way I am sometimes. I can't easily help it. Once I feel something, I just have to run with it, you know."

    "Right," Shine said, "I just want to know what goes through your head sometimes. It must be nice having aura powers and all."

    "Well yeah, it is, sometimes. But other times, I wish I didn't have it, prying into other people's thoughts and stuff. It ruins the surprise of meeting people when you can instantly know what they're thinking about you, or what their favourite meal is, or what time in the day they usually have to pee."

    "Why not stop?"

    "It's not as simple as that. It's how we usually survive in the wild. It's how I survived when I left. I can't just flick it off like a light-switch, now it's just another impulse. But I digress. I will make it up for you and Tony when I come in today. Somehow."

    "Are you sure you want to do it today after taking that fall?"

    Curio nodded vigorously. "Of course! I wanna talk about what happened at GeL, I really wanna pick his brain about it as well! So once I get this sorted, I promise I'll meet you there! I swear it on my tail!"

    "Well," Shine said, staring at the adorned red top of the building in front of him, "We are here. Can you take yourself in?"

    "Yeah," Curio said, heading towards the entrance of the Pokémon centre. "Well, thanks. See ya."

    She waved as she entered the building, leaving Shine alone once more.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
  13. Chibi Pika

    Chibi Pika Stay positive

    Alrighty, all caught up now!

    Gotta say, it's pretty funny how fast Trunks got drunk. :P Then again, it's a pretty common headcanon that Pokemon have waaaaay faster metabolism than like... everything else. Also "take from that what you will" what else am I going to take from that, Curio? xD

    And... oh man... that was pretty heartbreaking when her dad wrecked her drawing and took her maps. D: Of course, it's not like we can't see where he's coming from, what with his bad experiences with humans. But... damn. And then... hoo boy, this pair she just met, they're the ones that're gonna introduce her to GeL, aren't they? It sounds perfectly innocuous so far, but I'm guessing we won't learn why things went south there for quite some time. Interesting that Trunks is jealous of her though! It was pretty easy to feel for the guy when he was sharing his past experiences with her. It's so crushing to want to support someone's dreams while also desperately wishing you could have had the same opportunities.

    And then we finally get our teary goodbye! But then GOOD LORD CURIO WTF KIND OF WAY TO END THE STORY WAS THAT. "lol btw they're dead" oh my goddddddd. Thank you Shine for saying what we were all thinking there! He's such a sweetheart. ;-;

    In any case, I love how brilliantly you write the fact that, well.... Curio is a huge dick but like, you just gotta love her anyway? It's great. Oh my god poor Tony. xD Also I can't believe she just straight up jumped down off the cliff. Yes, steel-types are sturdy, but holy crap. xD Way to take it in stride, though. Also Shine is the true hero of the fic, friend of the year, right there.

    ~Chibi~
     
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  14. NebulaDreams

    NebulaDreams A Dense Irritating Miniature Beast of Burden

    Thanks for reading, @Chibi Pika!

    For the alcohol thing, I think the tolerance level varies from Pokemon to Pokemon depending on their biology, and whether or not they've built up a tolerance for it by consuming it over time. I have another fic lined up in the editing phase at the moment which features a Machoke drinking with his trainer, as I theorise they process things on a similar level to humans.

    I was wondering how this would go down. Since she knows what happened years after the fact and has made peace with it, I don't think she would sugarcoat what happened, but still, she isn't much for subtlety, is she? It won't be the last you see of her family though, so there will be some added closure around that.

    It's a bit of a fine line to cross, writing characters like this, but I'm glad it paid off. She may be a dick, but she's our dick all the same. Tony's patience does pay off for him in the next chapter, which you'll see on the next post.
     
  15. NebulaDreams

    NebulaDreams A Dense Irritating Miniature Beast of Burden

    The Curious and the Shiny Chapter 17. Ambrette's Diners

    Shine headed back home to the apartment, and cooled himself as he laid down in a shady spot. It had turned quiet without Curio, a silence he could've done with after his argument with her. The breeze came in lightly through the window. The clock ticked in the background. It would be a couple more hours until Tony came back home. To pass the time, he thought he'd check the network for any new messages, and he clicked in silence. Nothing new from Barley or anyone else. Shine entertained the idea of sending him a message instead, just to say hello, but as he stared at the blank text box, he might as well have been mute as no words could escape his lips. He abandoned the idea and went back to his usual pastime, getting a fantasy book out from his makeshift shelf and picking a spot in the indoor shade to continue where he left off. Sometimes, it was nice to escape into a completely different world, after all.

    He read on and on. The ticking of the clock grew louder. Shine fidgeted in his sitting spot. All the while, there was that lingering feeling of dread, not from forgetting something, but rather, missing something. He glanced at the clock. Only half an hour had passed. He wondered if the clock was fast or slow. Then he shook his head.

    This wasn't an unusual day for him to be on his own, and sometimes, that's all he wanted, to be alone, but after spending time with Curio for so long just to be left to his lonesome again, Shine felt at a loss for himself. He stopped reading and paced around the room, figuring out what he should do. The treatment of her arm wouldn't be for a few hours or so. Then he looked to the front door. If all he was going to do was wait for time to pass, he might as well do it where there were people, and where he had a purpose to waiting rather than lounging around the house all day. It was decided. He carried the book in his mouth and left through the flap.

    --

    He continued reading once he got to the waiting area of the Pokémon centre. Even though he did basically the same thing as he did in the comfort of his own home, time seemed to pass much quicker than in lonely silence. Plus, having people and Pokémon to listen in on every once a while gave him a sense of belonging, even though he came on his own.

    Shine read 210 pages of his book before a paw prodded his side. He looked up and there Curio was, holding her paw up to him as if she hadn't broken it moments ago.

    "Is everything alright, now?" Shine said.

    "Yup!" Curio said, "Good as new! So now whaddo we do?"

    "Let’s see..." Shine glanced at the big clock in the centre, and stood up. "Tony should be back by now, actually. If you have nowhere else to go, you can have dinner with us."

    "Please. What's on the menu for today?"

    "Steak."

    "Ooh, awesome!" Curio rubbed her paws together.

    "If you're polite, I'm sure Tony will let you have some."

    Curio nodded. "I will!"

    Shine picked his book up and headed outside with Curio, as they walked in the light of the orange sky. They got short of entering Tony's apartment again when Shine spat his book out.

    "Can you wait here so I can speak to Tony quickly? I promise I won't be very long."

    "Go right ahead."

    Shine headed through the flap once more, taking the book back first, then joining Tony as he rested on the couch.

    "Hello," Shine said, "Hope you didn't have too much trouble rushing into work."

    "It's fine," Tony said, smiling as he put his arm around Shine, "I got there just in time, but still, I don't know what the hell happened back then."

    Shine simply purred, mostly because Tony was stroking that one spot in his side that made him weak every-time he did so, but partly because he didn't want to say anything about who was responsible, yet.

    "How's Curio?" Tony said, taking his hand off.

    "Oh, yes, she's fine. Listen," Shine sat up, looking his trainer in the eye, "Do you mind if she joins us for dinner tonight? I know it might be a bit of a tall order considering, well, you know."

    Tony nodded. "I don't mind. I did get one too many steaks so that will save that going to waste. Where is she anyway?"

    "She's waiting outside. Can I let her in now?"

    "Of course."

    Shine leapt off the seat and stood on his hind-legs to pull the door open. There, Curio was waiting outside, facing the seaside view as her legs poked out of the railing. Her ears perked up and she craned her neck towards Shine.

    "Is it cool to come in now?" she said, to which, Shine nodded. Curio stood up and came in with him to the living room. When she locked eyes with Tony, he smiled at her, but she didn't smile back. A moment passed. The clock still ticked.

    "Ahem," Shine said, "I believe Curio wants to say something to you."

    "Oh, do I?" Curio said, laughing nervously, "Um, what is there to say?"

    Shine nudged her leg, giving her a pointed look.

    "Right." She clasped her paws together. "Tony, I'm sorry for the trouble I caused today. I planted that bucket outside your house. I didn't mean anythin' by it, I was just messin' with you, that's all."

    Tony raised an eyebrow at her.

    "And," Curio continued, "I'm sorry for actin' like an ass last night too. And calling your place a shithole. It's a very nice place, actually."

    To diffuse the tension, Tony smirked and batted a hand at her.

    "It's alright. Everything turned out fine in the end, so no need to worry." He shielded his mouth with his hand. "It's actually kind of funny, looking back on it."

    "So," Curio said, putting a paw on her hip, "You're not mad or anythin'?"

    He shook his head. "Don't see any reason to be now."

    "Oh, come on!" Curio pointed at him. "After all that, you're still not gonna put up a fight? Say something! Anything!"

    "Curio," Shine said, giving her a severe look, "Why are you behaving like this?"

    "I just don't get it! How he's still letting me into his house is beyond me. Like, what part of his brain is missing to make him actually give a damn? Why--"

    Curio stopped. Tony had stood up and was approaching her. She took a step back, putting her metallic hand on her spiked chest, and looked away.

    "Curio," Tony said, "Please look at me."

    She complied. Shine stood beside her, and saw Tony's confident gaze: he wasn't without scorn, but he looked relaxed as well.

    "I will be honest, I wasn't expecting you to react the way you did last night, and you could've handled it a lot better than you did. If this was anybody else, I would've told them to get the hell off of my property."

    "Why keep me here at all then?" she said, pouting.

    "Because I want to help you. You and Shine both went through a lot of trouble to get here, and after being apart from each other for so long, I can see you're conflicted. This doesn't excuse your behaviour, but I understand what you're going through."

    She glowered at him. "No you don't. How could you get anything us Pokémon go through? You never had to fend for yourself in the wild without anyone to help you."

    Tony shook his head. "You know, Shine said the same thing at one point, didn't you?"

    Shine nodded.

    "And you're right," Tony continued, "I'm not a Pokémon. I will never know what it means to be one either. But I've helped out quite a few marine Pokémon in my career, and believe me, I've seen how harsh the world is at sea. And, having known Shine all this time, I can relate to what he’s been through, at least. This is why I started this documentary in the first place, to know him better. And I hope I can get to know you better too, someday. So," Tony held out a hand towards her, "Are we alright now?"

    Curio's mouth opened. She stared at the hand for a moment, the breeze still blowing from the window. Then, she gazed at Tony and smiled.

    "Yeah," she shook his hand, "Sure."

    They released their handshake. After that, Tony slowly raised a hand to her chin, eyes relaxed.

    "May I?"

    Curio didn't respond. Instead, she guided his hand up there and let him stroke that area, panting all the while. Shine looked on, smiling at the sight. Then, she pulled Tony's hand away from her.

    "Okay, that's enough," she said. "At least take me out to dinner, first."

    "I like your attitude," Tony said, snickering as he headed towards the kitchen; the two following behind him. He started to reach inside the cupboards for the dishes.

    "We're having steak, if you're still up for it."

    "Shine told me, yeah. I could murder a Miltank, actually."

    "Good to hear. Can I fix you a drink to go along with it?"

    "Eh, surprise me."

    "Alright."

    Curio watched him prop the plates on the counter, before prodding his shoulder.

    "Is there anythin' I can do to make it up to you after all this?"

    "Well," Tony said, stroking his stubble, "I'm fine at the moment, but if you want to do me a favour, you can clean the dishes after dinner."

    Curio scrunched her nose.

    "Aw, really?"

    "Is that a problem?"

    "No," Curio said, looking down to both hand and paw, "I can do that, but making a Pokémon do this?"

    "I don't see why not. Shine does his share of work around the house wherever possible, don't you?"

    Shine nodded. "I'm able to do the floors, at least."

    "Alright, alright," Curio said, rubbing the back of her head, "I'll do it."

    "Thank you." Tony smiled and gestured to the couch. "You can wait in the living room if you want."

    Curio nodded and sat with Shine together while Tony was busy preparing dinner. The two didn't talk much, only idly about what Curio got up to in the Pokémon centre, but for the most part, they sat silently in each other's embrace, eventually dozing off together as they took up all the space on the couch.

    "Dinner!"

    Tony's voice called from the other room, and the two jumped off the seat to head to the dining area. On the table, there were three plates worth of steaks with cheese topped potatoes, accustomed to each diner's liking. Both Pokémon and trainer ate as quietly as possible, while Curio tore into hers, still using the cutlery but by all means, making somewhat of a mess on the table after she was done. Curio groaned, reclining in her seat while she watched the two still go halfway through theirs.

    "That was the tits," Curio said, "Thanks Tony."

    "You're welcome," he said in the midst of slicing his own steak.

    "So, I was wonderin', since me and Shine went near the place you work at and stuff, what's up with that Primarina?"

    Tony put his cutlery down and stared at the two.

    "Uh, how do you know about that?"

    "My aura," Curio said, pointing to herself, "Duh. Plus, Shine can see through walls and stuff."

    "Yeah, I guess it was bound to come out sooner or later. But," Tony wrung his hands together, "It was supposed to be kept a secret."

    "And why is that?"

    "Well, we're treating it at the moment, so unless we can get to the bottom of what's wrong with it, it shouldn't be revealed to the public."

    Curio frowned. "Again, why? You're being kinda vague here."

    "Yeah," Tony said, rubbing his head, "Unfortunately, that's for its own protection. If people find out an Alolan Pokémon got washed up here, we'll be hounded with questions from the press, and we don't want that until it's able to make a full recovery. You get me?"

    Curio shrugged and muttered a reply.

    "So," Shine said, "What happened to it?"

    "In the morning on the day you left, it washed by the cove with a hole in its back.” Tony formed a circle with his hand the size of a golf ball. “We were surprised it didn't die due to blood loss or hypothermia, but as soon as we saw it, we wheeled it into surgery. It's fine now, but it's been unconscious ever since."

    Shine eyed his own plate. "I see."

    "But," Tony said, skewering a cutlet with his fork and pointing it at the two, turning their attention to him, "That's where you lot might come in handy, if you're up for it. Once it wakes up, you can relay what happened to us."

    "Will they mind, since it was supposed to be private?" Shine said, to which, Tony shook his head.

    "It's a bit too late for it now, I think. As long as you don't tell anyone else, they'll be willing to take you on board. Can I trust you both to keep it a secret?"

    The two nodded.

    "Alright then." Tony chomped on his mouthful of beef. "Leth finith up and we can thtarth the intherthiew."

    --

    After the two finished their dinner, Curio took several trips back and forth from the dining area to the kitchen and started work on cleaning as Shine supervised, whilst Tony was setting up the studio again. She glared at the row of unclean dishes, including a pan that had turned black with grease, and turned to Shine.

    "Okay, how do I do this again?"

    "Just fill up the basin with warm soapy water and scrub away."

    She did her duties without much of an issue, although it took some getting used to at first since Curio scrubbed with her artificial hand, whose grip probably could've crushed a Geodude if given permission. She ended up breaking one or two plates and a glass on the way, but Shine assured her it was no skin off Tony’s nose. He observed the way she interacted with everything as if it was some alien artefact, staring at the tap for one minute before Shine had to remind her water came from there. He briefly wondered if she had ever grown accustomed to domestic life at some point after her escape, but after all was said and done, the two got back to Tony's studio and Curio sat in her usual spot on the interviewee's couch. Like before, Shine sat with Tony as his trainer powered up the camera and prepared his notes.

    "So, all ready?"

    "Hell yeah," Curio said with a smile. Tony counted down and hit the REC button.

    "This is interview B, segment GeL, take one. After you came along with Azzy and Mackenzie, you were taken to the facility Gestalt Learning, or GeL for short. How long did you stay there for?"

    Curio gave him a sour look.

    "Don't you know this already?"

    "Yes, but just tell me as if I didn't, for the uninformed viewer."

    "But we aren't--" Curio stopped, then shrugged. "Whatever. I stayed there for four years and a bit. I was meant to stay for five, but..." Her voice trailed off and she sighed. "Something happened. I'd rather not talk about that yet."

    "Understandable. So, what was the purpose of the facility?"

    "Well, it was meant to be what school is to you humans. They not only trained us in every way imaginable, they also taught us a lot about the world and best of all, how to speak. If everything went as planned, they were gonna take us to this scientific convention thingy, and set us up for whatever jobs we pleased.”

    "So, what would you say it was like, in general?"

    Curio smiled.

    "To be honest, and this will sound weird, but I had a great time there, at first. I got to meet other Pokémon, we had fun when we were able to, and I got a lot of support from the staff. Seriously though, I don’t know how I’d stand livin’ as a Pokemon if I didn’t learn all the stuff I did back there."

    "But," Tony said, looking to his right side, "What about your arm?"

    In response, she clutched it and grimaced.

    "Next question."

    "Alright, understandable. So when you arrived, before the lessons started, what was your first day like?"

    "First day, hmm." Curio held up one digit. "Yeah, you know what they say about first days, right? I guess for you humans, it would be like going to your first day of school. Of course, I can't speak like I'm an expert on it, I mean, look at me, but I've been coached enough about the world and seen enough flicks to guess what it's like.

    "Picture yourself as the snot-nosed kid, for instance, who's just turned old enough to wipe his own ass. His parents send him off to regular school, or trainer school or whatever you humans usually go to, and after they get out of their car and send you off, it feels like you're never gonna see 'em again. But you leave anyway and go into the school building cause you want to see where the day takes you. You're excited to learn, so you think, what's the worst that could happen? Then, as soon as you step into that classroom, that's when it hits you. You've got kids with many different egos and tempers coming together, some that come from the same sheltered background as you, and others that have been through worse and won't take any of your crap. Imagine them coming together in the same room with no one to guide you, and you realise it's the first time you've ever been alone in the world.

    "I guess that pretty much went the same way here, except those kids were actually monsters that could probably burn your face to a crisp. But hey, everyone, kid or Pokémon has to start some way, you know?"
     
  16. Umbramatic

    Umbramatic The Ghost Lord

    Disclaimer: This is a review of Chapters 1-10.

    This fic got on my list of favorites very quickly! I am a sucker for fics that have significant Pokin roles but also a noticeable human presence, and this fic has that in SPADES. It's also interesting and fun talking Pokemon are an uncommon but known Thing in this universe, but it leads to a problem I'll get to later.

    The characters are a delight, all of them; even the one-offs stand out. Particularly great is Curio and Shine's dynamic - they've got the bickering old friends thing down pat.

    One complaint I have is that it's not always clear when someone is talking in Pokemon speak and when they're talking in human speak, and who gets to understand who. It's not too derailing of the experience but it's still jarring.

    But this is a really great fic that's going in some interesting directions - I'm liking these glimpses of the suspicious megacorp and, more recently, Curio's backstory. Keep at it!
     
    NebulaDreams likes this.
  17. Chibi Pika

    Chibi Pika Stay positive

    Ahh, nice to see Curio make up with Tony, even if it's... *cough* in her own special way. :p Interesting to see that a lot of her acting out is just to see how much other people will push back, and that she actually wants to see them put up a fight.

    I am still very curious about how exactly things went south at GeL, because everything we've learned so far makes it sound like a pretty swell place. :T But... I know we'll be getting answers to that pretty soon, as Curio's interview has already started to delve into that part of her life.

    Not much else to say, a bit of a short, transitional chapter. I'm guessing we're going back into a pure interview chapter next time, so I'll look forward to that!

    ~Chibi~
     
    NebulaDreams likes this.
  18. NebulaDreams

    NebulaDreams A Dense Irritating Miniature Beast of Burden

    Thanks for picking up this story, @Umbramatic! I'm glad you're liking it so far, and are just as taken with Curio and Shine's relationship as everyone else seems to be so far.

    That is a valid complaint, as I'm sure you're not the only one who's had it. My logic is that those who can speak human are usually mentioned as doing so at first, then are assumed to switch back and forth depending on the context. Still, I have been wondering what is an acceptable solution to that issue, since I'm not sure putting half the dialogue in italics for one language would be pleasant to look at. What I have been doing for Curio's backstory chapters is putting lines of humanspeak in italics, since it would've stood out to her at the time, while in Shine's present, both of them are accustomed to hearing and speaking both.

    And thanks for continuing, @Chibi Pika! Curio can be nice when she wants to be, after all. :p You guessed right, the next chapter is an interview one, so more will be revealed soon.

    I might as well mention this is the last chapter before the next hiatus, as I've run out of a backlog. I am hoping to participate in NaNoWriMo to get more writing done, and if all goes well, that means there'll be much more content to sink your teeth into next time. As an appetiser, I will be updating my new fic, Black Paint, until the 15th of October, so I hope that will serve as a worthy side project until then.

    The Curious and the Shiny Chapter 18. First Day's Daze

    Having grown up on the island, especially as Spring came in, I got to see a lot of colours. Blue, green, yellow, brown, more blue, for my family of course, and all the different mixtures of it you could see in the sky. Since I saw those same colours for so long, I was startled whenever something unnatural came onto the island, like a metallic boat, for instance.

    Now take that and apply it to an entire room coated in grey, with only bright red lights to illuminate anything. That's where I found myself the first thing after I got out of the Pokeball. A chill ran through my spine all the way to my tail. I span around in a circle, trying to make sense of the room, which was spacious, but felt completely closed off as there were no passages outside as far as I could see. I turned to see Azzy and Mackenzie, which soothed those jitters, but found them coming back when I realised I was still in that darkly lit room.

    "What is this?" I said.

    "We're in the quarantine bay at the moment."

    "Quarantine?"

    "Yeah, just to make sure you're clean of anything that could contaminate the rest."

    I stared at my feet. Being little dumb me, not knowing what 'quarantine' or 'contamination' meant, it didn't put me at ease. Then, Azzy's round paw grabbed mine, and he smiled.

    "There's no need to be scared, it will be done soon. I'll hold your hand the whole way through, okay?"

    I glanced at Mackenzie briefly, who was in the same chamber as us. My heart still pounded. But if another Pokemon or a human was in the same boat as me, it let me know I wasn't alone in this situation. I squeezed his paw tightly and kept close to him. Even when the beeping made me squirm, I still didn't let go. It kept on beeping. Beeping still. Then, gas came in from a series of vents somewhere, soon enveloping the whole room in a fog where it blanketed the towering human's face, and eventually, Azzy's as well, to the point where I couldn't see his paw. I felt it, so that was what mattered. The gas, however, seemed to fill up all the air in the room. Just a moment later, my breaths got more ragged as I inhaled more of it, and my heart beeped faster. I thought my lungs would collapse or something. I squeezed his paw tighter, so much so that it felt like I was crushing it, but it was either that or go balls to the wall and start screaming. After a moment, my breathing got back to normal and something sucked out all the gas that came in. Eventually, I could see their faces again. I let go of his paw and collapsed. Thankfully, he caught me before I could get acquianted with the ground, and he embraced me, patting me on the back, repeating the fact that I did a good job. If standing around meant doing a good job, I dunno what doing a bad job would entail.

    Anyway, I soon forgot about what had happened as he soothed me back to normalcy. Then, a gate opened, letting white light into the room. I thought it was coming from outdoors. In an attempt to get out of that greyer than grey room, I dashed to the entrance as Azzy and co. ran after me. Instead of finding the great outdoors, what I found was another cold looking room. It was white, which was an improvement to the depressing grey, but it wasn't warm like the clouds, but cold like, well, an empty void. It was as featureless as the last room, but more cramped as it was a hallway with people in white suits lined up in a row. Again, there was no exit in sight at the end. I turned to the duo, holding my chest, and Azzy came to take my paw again.

    "It will be fine, just do as they say and you'll be able to relax afterwards."

    I only nodded. I wasn't in the mood for arguing at that moment.

    Azzy walked ahead of me, carrying me with him so he could approach the first strange face: a woman in an apron. She knelt down to my level and smiled.

    "Come," she said, as plainly as I could understand it. That was when Azzy released me. I turned to him, about to gesture for help when he patted me on the shoulder.

    "It's alright, she'll just be taking you for a wash."

    "But I'm already clean!" I said. I probably wasn't, considering showers were an alien concept to me back then, but I wanted a good excuse not to be taken away from the familiar Pokemon. He just nodded and guided my paw to the woman's hand, who took me down another hallway into a wetroom with a bath in it. Before I had the chance to consider what the purpose of it was, the woman closed the door behind me. That was the first time I started to panic that day. I ran to the door and banged on it, calling for Azzy's help, but of course, I was already there. I looked up and saw the knob. Seeing no other way out, I tried to jump to turn it, but my paw could barely scrape it. The woman picked me up from behind, and fearing the worst, I started kicking and screaming in her clutches, which of course, didn't work. She had a damn strong grip for a human, I must say. She lowered me into the bath, which I started to splash around in, but as soon as I adjusted to the warm sensation of the water, I stopped and sat still. Even though I was stuck in the unknown, that water had a soothing effect on me, and I forgot about what had happened soon enough.

    Which reminds me, I went to a few hot springs after I got out, and god, that was nice. That sort of stuff, bathing in hot water, is supposed to calm your nerves, after all, although I can't remember why. I'm surprised I haven't seen any bathhouses since I got here in Kalos. Maybe we should look it up one day and find out.

    Anyway, the woman started scrubbing me clean of all the grime I had accumulated before. I squirmed as she coursed the brushes through my coat, but unlike before, I didn't kick up a fuss. It was over before it even started, as she picked me back up and stood me up in a drying pod, which felt like G-force in my face. It got the job done quickly, and soon enough, she opened the door and chaperoned me back to the hallway where Azzy and co. waited. He took my paw again and proceeded to the next person in line: a man in a white coat, standing next to a gate.

    "Go," he said in the same plain manner. I looked at the gate in front of me. From what I know now, it must've been one of those scanners that detects broken bones, viruses, imbalances in your body, and anything else you can think of that might need treating. He must've been there to report it incase there was anything wrong with me. Since I had already been rubbed down by a total stranger, I didn't fear much worse, so I took a deep breath and walked through. It beeped once. Azzy joined me not long after, saying everything was clear and that there was nothing to worry about. Again, not much consolation, but an A for effort, I suppose. So he took my paw one more time and walked me over to the last person in line: another woman in a white coat, except she had equipment around her neck, probably a stethoscope or whatever you call it. She gestured to a seat low enough for me to sit on. I looked to Azzy.

    "What does she want now?"

    "Well." Azzy put another paw around me and rubbed my back. "She'll be here to give you some vaccines, to protect yourself from any diseases that might come go around. You'll need to be extra calm for this. Is that alright with you?"

    I slowly nodded, not knowing where this was going. He let go, leaving me to take a seat. The woman boosted me up to her eye level. She gently held my paw, and retrieved something from a nearby desk that made my heart sink. It was a needle.

    You know, nature has a funny way of telling you the sort of things you probably shouldn't mess with. Having lived with Lucario for my whole life up until that point, my parents, especially Dad hammered in the fact that not being careful around them would not end well with me. Of course, when someone tells you not to do something, you'll probably end up doing it anyway out of spite, so I drew my paw across it to test their theory out. I ended up having to nurse it for about a week afterwards. So in dumb man's terms, sharp thing equals bad.

    Seeing the needlepoint gleam in the white light like that gave me an idea of how sharp it was. The woman squeezed my arm in an attempt to steady it and find a vein. That was the second time I panicked. Instead of simply running for it, my response was to claw her with my free paw. It tore through her sleeve and drew blood. She ended up dropping the needle. I fell off the seat and scrambled as far away from them as I could until I got to the other end of the hallway. Instead of finding salvation, I found security instead. They employed a Machamp as one of the guards, which already had an imposing presence without needing the two extra arms. He made short work of restraining me, and being the stronger of the two Pokemon in the tussle, I couldn't even move to struggle out of his grasp. He brought me to Azzy again, who looked at me apologetically.

    "Sorry about that," he said, "We should've made sure it was alright before we startled you."

    "What were you guys thinking?" I screamed, "You were plannin' to kill me this whole time? You're sick! Let me out! Let me out! Let..."

    You get the gist of it. The needle had already set me off, and being pinned down by that towering hulk of muscle didn't help matters. Eventually, I must've tired myself out since I felt dizzy and I stopped speaking, although in their place, tears started to well up. Azzy looked to the Machamp and nodded, and he released me. Then, the Azumarill went to hug me while I sobbed in his shoulder.

    "It's over," I said. Wow, looking back on it, I really was a drama queen, wasn't I?

    "Listen," he whispered, "It's alright. We didn't lie to you. Unfortunately, we have to make sure you're as healthy as possible before coming in, and there's no other way to do it other than that. They need to put it in you otherwise you'll be sick, and you don't want that, do you?"

    I muttered a reply that sounded vaguely like a 'no'.

    "It will only take a few seconds if you calm down, and you'll barely notice it's there, only so much as a pinch."

    I looked up at the woman I had scratched moments before. She was escorted to another room by the Machamp while another took her place, eyeing me with caution. A pang of guilt nestled in my gut.

    "Oh no, what've I done?" I said.

    "Not to worry," Azzy said, "It's our fault this happened, we should've expected you to react like that. She'll be fine."

    "You sure?"

    "Positive," he said, patting my back, "Now take a seat. It'll be over before you know it."

    I nodded and climbed up to the chair, where the replacement held her hand out to me and smiled. I couldn't help but look up, and I could see her eyes were relaxed, but still had an air of caution to it. I laid my paw out. She caressed it, turning it over to inspect it, then she marked the spot where the injection was supposed to be. She held the needle again, and I squirmed in my seat, but I saw her smile again and felt reassured once more. It would only be a few seconds, I told myself. I closed my eyes, letting my guard down for just those few seconds, and true to his word, I did feel a slight pinch. The woman patted me on the back with a gloved hand to let me know it was alright to go. I got out of the seat, back into the comfort of Azzy's embrace.

    "Alright now?" he said. I just shrugged. It was done, so I wanted to get it out of my head as soon as possible.

    To this day, needles still suck. I'd rather sit on a Pawniard's head than do that again.

    Azzy led me to the last guy, who sat near the wall with some equipment beside him. I glanced at the black, three legged object and squinted.

    “What’s that thing?” I said.

    “A camera,” Azzy said, pointing to a spot opposite the man marked with an X, “He wants to take a photo of you.”

    “A photo?”

    “Just go to that spot and smile, okay?” He gave a slight grin before leading me to that spot. The man fiddled with the camera, adjusting the settings or something. He was still going. Halfway through, he popped something out from the bottom and replaced it, which going by intuition now, was a battery. I thumped my paw. The door was right there where the four armed freak stood. Not knowing what anything was, I bit back the urge to just run for it again.

    Eventually, the man held a finger up, getting my attention. I remembered what Azzy said, but then, I just felt they were wasting my time. So in the brief moment he put his finger on the shutter, I stuck my tongue out at him. The camera flashed.

    He frowned at the camera and said something to Azzy I couldn’t understand.

    “Just let her off on this one,” Azzy said. He shrugged and gestured me to walk past, where Azzy joined me.

    “What took him so long?” I said.

    He muttered a response as we went to the the security door again where the Machamp stood, back from escorting the injured nurse out of the way, He leered down at me, crossing all four of his arms.

    "You were damn lucky back then," he said, "Try another stunt like that inside and I won't be so easy on you."

    Again, I simply nodded, feeling like I was shrinking under the presence of such an imposing Pokemon. He broke his gaze from me and smiled to Mackenzie.

    "How many of 'em are left?" he spoke in the human tongue. I couldn't understand Mackenzie still, but whatever he said made Machamp raise an eyebrow.

    "Huh. They're bringing somethin' like that here?"

    Mackenzie said something that sounded like 'yes'. Machamp shrugged.

    "Never mind, not long to go, anyway. Right then." He smiled and fiddled with parts of the door before squeezing the handle. "Welcome aboard."

    He opened the door, bringing the first flashes of colour into the previously bleak insides of the building. The walls were painted all sorts of colours, green, yellow, you name it, with all sorts of bright patterns adorning them. Both humans and Pokemon walked through the corridors, carrying themselves as if they had important business to take care of. Then, Azzy took my paw and walked me in alongside Mackenzie. The door closed behind us not long after.

    "Well," Azzy said, "This is it. We'll show you around soon enough once you've met everybody."

    I cocked my head slightly. "Everybody?"

    "Yes. It'll be good to know all the Pokemon you'll be staying with, after all. So, are you ready?"

    Butterfrees swarmed around in my stomach. Truth be told, I wasn't sure if I was ready to meet any more strangers yet. It sounds weird saying that now, considering I barely have a problem with it now. Hell, one motto I go by is that a stranger's just a friend you haven't met. I think I got that from a show, but I dunno. Anyway, considering all I had before then was my family, being dropped in to stay with Pokemon I hadn't met before was new to me. Then, I remembered how desperate I was to get off the island in order to meet new Pokemon, so I took a deep breath and told myself I was excited instead of nervous. I smiled at Azzy.

    "Yeah, let's go."

    Paw in paw, he led me through the various corridors of the place, each drenched in different colours, until I caught a glimpse of leaf green from behind a glass door. The excitement in my stomach worked itself up to my chest as we walked up. It opened for us, bringing a cool breeze into the stuffy building, and revealed a forest like area with many different trees forming a wall around the room. Well, room wasn't quite the right word. It felt so natural that it didn't feel like one at all. Hell, I couldn't even see the ceiling as that looked like the sky as well. I looked down and true to Azzy's word, there were many Pokemon of different colours doing various things in one spot. Some of them mingled with one another. Some swam in shallow ponds. There were also a few that were entirely on their own, one on land, sitting by itself, and one perched on a branch, Azzy patted my shoulder and smiled.

    "These are most of the Pokemon you'll get to know. There will be more on the way. After we've got everybody in, we'll show you all around, alright?"

    I nodded, and Azzy bowed before turning his back to me and heading towards the corridor again.

    "Wait!" I called, getting his attention again. "Where're you going?"

    "I have to take care of a few things, but I’ll be back soon. Have fun."

    With that, he walked away, and I looked to all the new faces, who stared back at me.

    Okay, this might get a little confusing, so bear with me. There were a lot of Pokemon there I didn't exactly know the names of at the time, so for now, let's call them by their species names. I know Shine probably briefed you on who they were, but this is gonna be a headache for you if I rattle off everybody's life story one by one. We cool?

    Anyway, the group of new Pokemon stared in silence. The forest-like area was strangely silent, only interrupted by the stray Starly that occasionally chirped from atop of the tree. Even the two Pokemon that swam, Buizel and Bidoof, rested their chins on the bank to look at me. I wasn't sure how to break the ice myself, that tingling sensensation churning my stomach. Then, mercifully, the Lickitung stepped forward.

    "So you're our new arrival, huh?" he said, and walked up to give me his paw. "It's nice to meet you. I'm a Lickitung, although you can call me Basil."

    Thankful to see another friendly face, I smiled and gave my paw to him as well. A moment passed. Then he gently took the other paw and shook ours together.

    "You're usually supposed to shake it in return." Some of the other Pokemon chuckled in the background. I would've flushed red if I could.

    "Sorry. I can't say I have a name either."

    "It's no biggie," he said, "I'm sure we'll come up with one together at some point. Now, I'm sure everybody would like to get to know you, so why don't you tell us how you got here?"

    "What, now?" I said.

    "If you wouldn't mind."

    Clearly, he had more experience than I did when it came to these situations. I glanced at the other Pokemon for a bit, who waited with anticipation. I didn't know if I should've told them what I was doing there, but I figured I had little else to do, so I might as well have embraced the moment. So I started telling them about my upbringing, to which, Buizel started splashing around in the pond, to the Bidoof's annoyance.

    "Ooh, you lived on an island? Coooool!"

    "Not really," I said, "It was kinda boring."

    "How?" he said, cocking his head, "You had the sea all around you!"

    I just shrugged and continued, getting to the point where I almost drowned and met Azzy.

    "That was foolish," the Abra said, "Was it not?"

    Before I had any sort of reaction, Basil held his paw up. "Now, now, let's keep it friendly, alright?"

    Abra flicked a paw at him like the fopp he would turn out to be later. God, he was up his own ass all the time. You could barely get a word in without him sticking his snout into your business.

    Anyway, I continued, up until the point Mom released me from the Pokeball Dad trapped me in and let me come here.

    "Aw," Ponyta said, "Your Mom must've really cared for you."

    "Well," I said, rubbing my head, "Yeah. Wouldn't yours?"

    Ponyta shook her head. "I lost mine."

    Those words hit me like a kick to the nads. Not that I have any, but still, what do you say to something like that? I know now that not all of us, if not most of us Pokemon didn't have the same lucky upbringing as I did, but back then, it was new to me. I wrung my paws together, trying to find something to say to reassure her. All that came out though was a simple "Oh." She didn't reply back.

    "Smooth," Sneasel said. This time, Basil extended his large tongue and pelted him across the face with a lick. He grunted as he swiped the slobber off himself.

    "I'm sure you'll understand that everyone came here due to all sorts of circumstances. Don't feel bad because yours is different from theirs."

    I just nodded. I didn't really feel like talking much after that, so I sat down and stared at my feet. I remembered having a sinking feeling in my chest. Back home, I could've teased the hell out of my brothers with ease, but here, I was pretty much at the mercy of everyone else. Some seemed to have it worse than others, like Sneasel, who had several scars across his body, so I didn't want to imagine what he could've done to me if I pissed him off, especially with those claws of his. My gaze wandered off to the rest of the room, where I saw another Pokemon sitting by itself, away from the rest of the group. It seemed to stare off into space, watching nothing in particular. It was as small as me, except it had a smoother body. Since Basil was so welcoming to me before, I figured I'd go up to the lonely Pokemon to give them a helping hand too. I padded over to them slowly, making sure not to alert them, and stood behind their back.

    "Hey," I said, "You alright?"

    They slowly turned their head to me. I smiled, only for it to turn upside down when I actually saw his face. (I might as well say it's a he as I knew him later) His eyes stared through me, looking so wide, I swore they were about to pop out. Something about his stare in particular could've turned you to stone, probably literally. It was like he had some sort of curse. I caught a glimpse of the various purple splotches around his face before he turned his head back to the scenery, looking off into space again.

    My heart was racing. I took a few paces back, only to run back to the gang and hug Basil, as I had no one else to latch onto.

    "Hey there," he said, "What's wrong?"

    "Wha-what the heck's with that guy?"

    "Oh," Basil frowned, "I would just leave him be for now. I can tell he's been through a lot."

    "He creeps me out," Sneasel said, "That's what he does."

    I pulled away from Basil's embrace. "What is he, anyway?"

    "Well," he said, "He's known as a Cubone. His type usually wears the skulls of their mothers on their head."

    "What?" I said, practically white with shock. "Wha-why would they do that, that's so messed up!"

    "They usually do it as a memento of those who've passed on." He turned his head to the Cubone from far away. "Why he doesn't have it is a mystery to us."

    "Let's leave it that way," Sneasel said, "The less I know 'bout him, the better."

    The conversation kind of dropped off from there, and we sat idly as we waited for the other Pokemon to come. I even swam in the pond alongside the two other Pokemon, which felt nice and shallow. Not as cold as the ocean was, if anything, it felt warm. Kind of like it was heated from underneath. Anyway, the first two to come was a Happiny and an Aipom, who Basil babysat as well, although they weren't as receptive to tell their stories as I was. They got on well besides that, and it didn't take long for them to settle in and play with each other. I just watched from the pond, still not feeling accustomed to Pokemon etiquette yet, if that's even a thing. Then lastly, a Shinx came along as well.

    This is where you come into the picture, Shine. You know, it's kind of funny looking back at it now. I didn't know you as well as I do now, but my first impression of you wasn't that great to begin with. I saw you, limping your way to Basil, and when he tried to introduce himself to you, you started sobbing and sat in a spot on your own far from everybody else. I don't blame you for how you acted back then, as I'll talk about that at some point later, but when I saw you, crying out of the blue, it kind of reminded me of Stumpy and how he would start wailing out of the blue sometimes. Part of me felt annoyed, like I usually was around him whenever he had an outburst, but another part of me wanted to come towards you and hold you.

    I was stuck between two boulders of thought and didn't know how to squeeze out, so I just sat and looked at you. You curled up into a ball and bathed in what seemed to be the sunlight. I swore I could've seen you glowing. Nevertheless, I watched until the other mediators came in, all sorts of evolved Pokemon, as well as Azzy, who gestured me to follow him. All of the Pokemon in the room flocked to their own mediators, even the solitary Pokemon like you, the Starly and that Cubone. Then they led us out of the room in single file, with Azzy taking my paw in his.

    "Are we on tour now?" I asked.

    "Yes, we'll walk you through all the areas in this building, and after we've had our meeting, we'll call it a day."

    I followed the rest in a line as we were led through the various parts of the facility. Firstly, there were the classrooms, which we only got a small peek of since we wouldn't be needing to use them yet. I guess instead of the usual set up in human schools where you had desks and chairs to sit on, we had bean bags and cute little tables to sit around. It looked more like a place you'd sit all your stuffed toys for a tea party than somewhere you'd learn a bunch of useless trivia. Then there was the gym, filled with all sorts of equipment I didn't know the purpose of. The Machop in our group must've known what they were about since he was jumping for joy in that room. Then there was the library. Again, we only got a small peek inside there, a tall room that had a second floor with bookcases reaching the ceiling. They said it was off limits for the time being. Abra complained about it as he apparently knew how to read. He probably could've, but they said they would explain why later, so he just brushed it off and continued with the rest of us.

    Then, the battle arena, where we got to spar and play fight with each other, which they would also explain later. I might as well skim through the rest as it was a lot to take in at once. The Lounge Room, Infirmary, Kitchen and Bathroom was next. You can probably guess what their purposes were. Then there were the offices, which again, were off limits. That's probably gonna sound quite redundant soon. And finally, there was the meeting hall, opened with a set of double doors unlike the rest. You know something's important when it has two doors instead of one, for whatever reason.

    We were led in one line to our seats on one side of the room while the other was occupied. There were these guys in white coats, who looked at us with wide eyed interest. I felt my heart beating again, as their eyes tracked us all the way to our seats. I tried to ignore them, staring at the front while we waited. Everybody else around me was chatting amongst themselves. Once everybody settled in, Azzy sat beside me while the Shinx was in front, looking left to right. His mediator, an Manectric, nuzzled close to him, keeping him occupied. A part of me still wanted to reach out to him, but I decided against it. Everyone went silent as one member of staff spoke into the microphone, another mediator by his side.

    "Everyone, may I have your attention please," he said, which I heard through the mediator's Pokemon tongue. "We'd like to thank you all for coming to this facility, man, woman and Pokemon alike, and we hope all of you will make the most of your time here. But I'll let the leader speak for himself, so may I present to you, our Director, Lawrence Cartwright, and Assistant Director, Lucy Labelle."

    The two speakers stepped aside and held out a hand to the right of the stage. An old man propped himself up on his cane, walking slowly, but with determination in his walk. A Gardevoir floated closely behind him, strangely enough, wearing a frilled dress that flowed behind her. You know, for a Pokemon, she totally owned that look. I couldn't even imagine myself in a dress, let alone want to wear one.

    The director's shoes clattered with each step he took on the hard floor, echoing throughout the room. Then, he stood up on top of the podium, his Gardevoir by his side, and a smile emerged from his wrinkled face.

    "Humans and Pokemon alike," they spoke in their respective tongues, seemingly in perfect unison, "Welcome to our project, Gestalt Learning. We have brought you all here to take part in this experiment to contribute to a better society." The two of them held their hands up, as if shaping the whole world under their palms, "Imagine it. Human and Pokemon in league with one another. To perform the same tasks as one another. To change the world with one another. To create a better future with one another. We see so much potential with both of you, and sadly, we see that this potential is not being used." Their arms drooped, and they clasped their hands together. "For far too long, the trainer system has trapped everyone in this machine that only spins to create wealth for the rich at the expense of everyone else. Trainers go out into the expanding world at an early age only to be crushed under its weight. Pokemon are bound to these trainers for no other reason other than sustenance and a purpose in life. We have seen many tragic figures in our lives from both species; those who have had ambitions of becoming something greater, only to burn out without the means to stay lit. This machine traps everyone, and the only way to stop its machinations is to carve our own fates. That is why all of you are here."

    They pointed at all of us in the room.

    "All of you, humans and Pokemon are full of life and brimming with hope. You will all work with each other as equals, not as master and servant. For you humans, we will ensure you'll work closely with these Pokemon, and reward you dearly for your contributions to the future. You will be renowned all around in your respective fields of science. As for you Pokemon, we will accompany you every step of the way to make sure your talents are cultivated here. You will be able to achieve anything you set your mind to, and after your leave, you'll be able to put those skills into practice to travel the world, build a career, become famous, and anything else you will yourself to do. The choice is yours."

    They put their arms down and joined hands. "For the next five years, we will do everything in our power to ensure your studies are fruitful. You will follow a programme that caters to your needs, as well as help you to make the most of your time here. As we are Gestalt Learning, we believe every part plays a fundamental role to your education. For now, however, we shall pass on the torch to our Class Coordinators." They bowed. The humans on the other side were the first to clap, Although I didn't know what use it did, I clapped along anyway, as the Pokemon they were able to did so, while the rest howled in the air.

    Really, they could've said anything and I could've believed it. If they said it was possible to shoot rockets out of our arses, we probably would've tried to do it. Even though I didn't understand what half those words meant at the time (Because as we all know, you're smarter by default if you use big words in place of simpler ones), but there was something about the way they said them as well as their tones of voice that sold me on it. After all, I made the choice to go there, and I didn't regret it. For the most part.

    Lucy, the Gardevoir helped the director leave the stage while another human/Pokemon duo entered. They didn't say a lot that was too important to rattle off at the top of my head, but basically, they ran down how the 5 years would be split up into different programmes, a mix of learning the same skills human children would be taught, including how to speak which was my main focus, and fighting, which would teach us how to defend ourselves as well as work with trainers if we chose to. Of course, there was the boring stuff like all the rules they went through. With each word uttered, I felt my head bobbing up and done, trying to keep my eyes open. Again, with the camera guy, they sure took their sweet time on pointless crap. Something squeezed my sides, jolting me awake.

    "What the--"

    I turned to see who was snickering from behind. It was an Aipom, who covered his mouth with his tail in an attempt to muffle his laughter.

    "Hey," I whispered, "Keep your paws to yourself."

    "Couldn't resist, sorry," he said, then narrowed his eyes. "Still, he doesn't shut up, does he?"

    I shook my head. Although I didn't agree with his grabby nature, we found something else to share between us. He grinned and held out his paw-like tail to me.

    "You seem cool. We can be friends, right?"

    Other than Basil, he was the only Pokemon that gave me such a gesture that day, so I smiled back to him and offered a paw in return. He snatched it away and laughed once more before I just shrugged and turned back to the guy's lecture. That Aipom was a riot. Was.

    Thankfully, the guy shut his trap and we were told to gather up into three groups of six. We would stay each other for the rest of our course there. There were those who came from trainers or lived in domestic areas. There were those who were born in GeL. And then, there was us, the wild urchins. There was me, the Ponyta, the Cubone, the Buizel, and the Aipom. Except someone was missing. When we were sorted, I asked one of the mediators why there were only five of us, only to be told the other member wasn't ready yet. You'll find out about that later.

    After that, Azzy picked me up and we exited the hall in one neat line, going back to the kitchen area to be greeted with many different bowls and plates of food. Sandwiches, berries, meat pellets, you name it. I felt myself drool, as the rest probably did, and if you know anything about how Pokemon eat, provided you haven't been living beneath a bridge for all of your life, it was chaos in there. By the end of it, in the mess we made, we had eaten our fill, and were set to fall into a food coma not long after. After we were all done, we were led into the corridors again only to be broken off into our respective groups. Us wild Pokemon would be staying in the same garden we met everybody else in. When we got there, the ceiling was black instead of blue, filled with twinkling stars. Our mediators wished us good night and each of us found a spot to sleep in. I myself gathered a pile of leaves and curled up into it. I was slowly drifting away, sure to fall into slumber. Then I found myself on the island again, listening to one of Mom's stories with the rest. Trunks was there, listening intently. Stumpy was there, curling up against a tree. Twig was there, chewing on a twig. Figures. And Dad was probably somewhere hidden, listening in private. After her story was over, I went over to hug Mom, only to touch the air. I found myself in the garden again with a bunch of strangers.

    I started crying. I didn't know why; I had never done something like that before. It was something Stumpy usually did, after all. But there I was, on my own, with a hole in my chest, feeling sorry for myself. It was dumb. But that's how I felt anyway, dumb. So that was what my first day at GeL was like.

    So overall, not a bad start. Aside from the needles.
     
  19. Chibi Pika

    Chibi Pika Stay positive

    Aaaaand we've finally made it to GeL! It was interesting to see all of the protocol that a wild Pokemon has to go through to enter the facility. It's a shame they didn't explain more about what it entailed before they started doing it--then Curio might not have been so freaked! :p In any case, everything's still looking pretty optimistic so far. It'll be interesting to see what daily life is like at the facility. Also I can't wait to see Curio and Shine meet for the first time!

    I still love how Curio's narration can take something that would normally be pretty dry and dull and make it full of snark and life. Oh, and as a side note, I quite like the idea of having a mask-less Cubone show up, and it really seems like the sort of thing that wouldn't be all that uncommon.

    Until next time!

    ~Chibi~
     
    NebulaDreams likes this.
  20. NebulaDreams

    NebulaDreams A Dense Irritating Miniature Beast of Burden

    Okay, I have something important to announce about the status of The Curious and the Shiny, which might be bad news to some, but will be essential for me to grow as a writer.

    I won't be doing this year's NaNoWriMo, and by extension, I'll be putting the later chapters of The Curious and the Shiny on an indefinite hiatus. Don't worry, I fully intend to finish the story since I love writing it so much and want to see it through to the end, but I need to take a break from writing fanfiction for a bit so I can brush up on my writing skills. As of now, my writing style isn't great. It's functional, sure. However, it's also bland and wordy, as I've received feedback on quite a few things that've opened my eyes to the flaws in my prose. Sentences are repetitive in their structure. I write in the passive voice a lot. I waffle quite a bit and have a lot of redundant phrases or words in my writing that don't add to the scene. This shows a lot in the first chapter, which not only showcases these flaws in the prose in full swing, it also starts the fic on a very confusing and uneven opening, alienating a lot of would-be readers. Overall, this holds back what I feel could be a great story. It's not bad by any means as far as feedback is concerned. Comments towards the story, characters and worldbuilding elements in the middle part have been very positive so far. From what I've gathered, however, the writing style is the weakest link in my writing overall.

    If I want to progress as a writer, and hope to make a career out of it in the future, whether that goes into novel writing or journalism, I need to step back from the plateau I've hit in my own work. That will involve reading more from my circle of influences, possibly going beyond that, and analyse the language that makes the writing sing. At the moment, mine is just there. It only serves as a vessel for the story and doesn't stand on its own. For novel-writing, that's bad enough, but for the field that's the most profitable for me in the future, i.e., journalism, it's fatal.

    Again, I apologise for this, but I think this is for the best as it will allow me to rethink my approach to writing. Black Paint will still be posted as usual until its end, as all the chapters are already written, but after that, I will be working towards finishing my course and improving my craft, and possibly work on more original ideas that aren't related to fanfiction.

    Thanks for all your support and I will probably catch you all later.
     

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