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The Grunt Anthology

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by The Teller, Jul 10, 2017.

  1. The Teller

    The Teller King of Half-Truths

    Alola! Since I kinda finished Rally Interpretation 2 and shuffled it into the Completed Fics section back when I'd finally caught up to the main series games, I thought I'd just make a new thread for new grunts that came with the new games. It also allows me to retitle the whole project into something that sounds a little more like an actual story title and not a homework assignment. For those unaware, the project is looking at what kind of person would want to willingly join an evil organization (a cult, a gang, a business), all done through the second person point of view, meaning that it is YOU who is telling the story. Though a few games with grunts have been skipped due to me not having played the games, most of the grunts have been covered in Rally Interpretation 2, so go check that out. Today's entry will be the hilarious Team Skull grunts, and I'm slowly working on the Aether Foundation employees. IF the US/UM grunts are vastly different, a la BW2's Neo Team Plasma grunts, then I'll cover those as well. And hey, as evidenced by the Snagem and Cipher entries, if a sidegame has grunts in it as well and I play it, I'll cover those too. So read on, and have fun!

    (Team Skull)

    You looked up at the shining sun, pouring rays of promised happiness down onto the denizens of Melemele Island with nary a cloud to obstruct it, through the store window. Today would be another perfect day, with perfect weather, a slight breeze and no chance of rain. How dare it. How dare the island mock you with its warm facade, as if reality was some Saturday morning cartoon from decades ago. The customers would see you as nothing more than an appendage to the cash register in front of you, and your boss would see you as a dispensable toy. How dare they. They, who would play the amnesia card. And the normies of Alola would continue on with their lives like what they did to you never happened. How dare they most of all!

    Everybody knows the story. At the impressionable young age of ten, a child from a single-mother home is given his or her first Pokémon by the professor and told to set off on an incredible journey all across the land, catching and forming a close-knit team of Pokémon companions, delicately raising them, training them against other people's Pokémon to make them stronger, competing to earn the respect of a select few powerful trainers before taking on the best of the best, and ultimately becoming the region's most powerful trainer. It's a timeless story. Some say it's the oldest story. A true classic.

    You were the main character once. The story was told to you countless times, each time a little differently. Sometimes the child was a boy, sometimes a girl; sometimes there was snow, sometimes sand; the boogeyman wanted more water, the boogeyman wanted high fashion. Each time the story was told, it was highly emphasized that you should stick to training your favorite Pokémon and treat them like members of the family, not just as tools for power. The notion was forcefully permeated into your brain via every aspect of culture: the toys, the cartoons, the video games, the stories, other children, other adults. And so you went on your journey with your faithful companion. You were told to partake in the Rite of the Island Challenge, to beat the Trial Captains, take on the Totem Pokémon, defeat the Kahunas, and become the Alola Champion.

    You remember Bozo, your Popplio. Man, that should've been your first red flag. He thought he could beat anything. You remember no one else having a Popplio because everyone thought Rowlet and Litten were just inherently better. You chose Bozo because he was your favorite and you didn't care what other people thought. A good trainer trains their favorite Pokémon, nothing else. And sure, at first, trainers who chose Litten were in for a shock when you sent out Bozo and had it use Water Gun, as they were stunned in disbelief that anyone would willingly choose a Popplio as their starter Pokémon. But then those trainers started using Fomantis and Oricorios (the Pom-Pom style ones, of course) to cover their weakness, and you still had to contend with Rowlet trainers.

    As you made your way across Melemele Island, you caught only the Pokémon you liked the most. You never caught anything you didn't want and you didn't breed your Pokémon for the sole intention of abandoning them for their perfect offspring (and then breed their offspring with their offspring so that you can abandon them all when you finally get a genetically perfect Pokémon). Your Pokémon weren't perfect. They weren't even all that good, now that you think about it. But they were yours that you chose out of all the Pokémon available to you. Citron (Grubbin), Royal (Crabrawler), Dogars (Salandit), you remember them all. You thought through the power of love and friendship, that you would conquer all.

    Time and time again, trainers would thoroughly trounce you, and you started to notice a trend in your repeated defeats. Toxapex, Toucannon, Araquanid, Kommo-o, the same Pokémon over and over again. The same strategies. The same order. Even when you saw them coming from a mile away, you still couldn’t stop them from steamrolling you effortlessly.

    Though you succeeded in the first couple of trials, you never made it past Akala Island. You only barely survived your encounters with the totem Pokémon (you have a scar on your stomach the totem Lurantis gave you to remind you of that fact), with the totem Wishiwashi forcing you to make several attempts over the course of several days. Olivia stopped your progress dead in its tracks. Even with Bozo, you couldn’t overpower her strong offense and amazing defense. What’s worse, when you tried to train against other trainers, you ran into that problem again, where everyone used the same Pokémon and soundly defeated you. You couldn’t get any stronger. You watched as each of these people, who treated the whole challenge as more like a short, amusing game to them than a serious task, walked up to Olivia and effortlessly handed her her own behind on a silver platter, and she had the GUTS to compliment them on “how hard they had trained” and “how naturally skilled they were” and “how they obviously put a lot of thought into their Pokémon selection and strategy.” You just sat there and thought, “What strategy?! What skill?! What sense of love for their Pokémon or originality?! Every trainer was a cookie-cutter, exact copy of each other! You basically fought the same trainer dozens of times in a row!”

    Fed up with all the constant defeats and everybody lying to you and pinning the blame onto you, you gave up on your journey. You released Citron and Royal and Dogars back into the wild, telling them they tried their best, but they had to go home now, and took Bozo back to Melemele Island. There, you gave him away to some adoption center. You knew he wasn’t a wild Pokémon and wouldn’t survive out in the wild like the others. You had a tearful goodbye, and left.

    You went back home a failure. To rub salt on the wound, everybody in your village knew you were a failure as well, as they’d often remind you. Your mother was extremely disappointed in you. She took you off to the side and asked why you didn’t love your Pokémon enough, why you didn’t train hard enough, why you didn’t want it hard enough. Your friends refused to associate with you anymore. Everybody gave you the stink eye, everywhere you went. They acted like you were somehow the first person ever to fail the trial challenge. You hated them all. You knew that most of them have never participated in the trial to begin with, and of those that did, most of them didn’t finish the challenge as well. Who were they to judge you and what you experienced?

    You were forced to get a job as a cashier at some store since you had no other talents to work off of. You spent your whole life being told to be a trainer and you failed because you were given faulty information, set up for failure from the get-go, and now you’ve got nothing left. No one listened to you. They thought you’re lying when you talked about how the real world works, or they thought that you’re just whining and complaining because you lost and didn’t want to get better. And all throughout, they played dumb, like they never encouraged you to chase an impossible dream for their sick amusement in the first place.

    Suddenly the doors busted open and, shaken from your thoughts, you snapped your head around to see a bunch of masked teenagers swagger their way in. They all had matching uniforms (that being a black tank top with a white X on it and skull caps), so you figured they must be part of a gang.

    “Yo, yo, yo, put yo hands in the air like you just don’t care, cuz Team Skull’s here to bring the flair!” yelled one of them.

    “What this numbskull means is that this is an old-fashioned stickup, and your Pokémon are our targets!” came another.

    A bunch of Yungoos streamed through the open door and scurried up to everyone inside, threatening to bite them if they tried to release their Pokémon for battle. One came up to your leg and looked up at you, eyes filled with hunger, teeth bared and razor sharp.

    “Greetings, cowarding public!” boomed a new voice.

    From the door stepped in a new figure, a man only a little older than you are, with white hair, weird sunglasses, a golden necklace with some sort of pendant on it, and a white t-shirt and black jacket on. Followed closely behind him was a…colorful woman, with long, bi-colored, braided hair, white eye shadow, and a black tube top on, perhaps to show off just how chiseled her stomach was. Alongside her was a younger trainer, a boy really, with blond hair and a completely ripped outfit on, like he was raised in the wild or something. Was he feral? The main man continued to speak.

    “In case some of you simpletons don’t already know, I’m big bad Guzma, the head honcho of Team Skull! And you lucky bunch get the honor of handing over your precious Pokémon to me!”

    Some of the people in the store started murmuring to each other.

    “Hey, hey, I said, hey! What’s there to discuss? You’ll just end up buying another Pokémon tomorrow anyways. What, it’s not like any of you have ever used them as your only defense against Trial Captains, ya soft sports! Ya antiquated Durants, always stuck in your tradition like mud. Ah, what do I care? Give us your Pokémon or we’ll have our Yungoos shave a few pounds off of ya!”

    The people in the store slowly started handing over their Poké Balls to the various Skull grunts. No one tried to deny anything Guzma said. One of the grunts walked over to you.

    “Your Pokémon or your legs, holmes.”

    “What do I care if you rob anyone in this store? They all had it coming. Plus, I don’t have any Pokémon, bone brain.”

    The grunt took an exaggerated step back.

    “Say whaaaaaaaat?! You got some real cojones to be talking back like that!”

    They turned to the stern woman.

    “Hey Big Sis! Come over here and check this playah out!”

    The woman walked over to you. You glared at her and didn’t take away eye contact for a second.

    “Hmmph, what’s so special about this one, my dear, dimwitted younger brother?”

    “Yo, man. Can you at least try to not insult my intelligence around hostages? It’s not my fault I dropped out of middle school to go on an Alola-wide adventure. Anyway, this here coocoo saying we right in stealing from all these plebes, and get this, they ain’t even got a Pokémon!”

    She never took her eyes off you, but you could tell she’s listening to every word the guy was saying, and her mind was racing a mile a second. There was a brief pause.

    “…are you some kind of numbskull or something?” she asked.

    Before you could give her an answer that would likely get you killed, she turned around and walked back to Guzma.

    “Boss, looks like we found ourselves another lost little Mareep,” she said, loud enough to be heard from everyone in the store.

    All eyes were on you. Guzma walked over.

    “Yeah, is that right?” he said, eyeing you, sizing you up. “I’m the Team Skull boss, and I’ve never been scared of nothing or nobody. Heck, I live my life making people scared of ME! And what I’m seeing here is a bonehead who ain’t scared of big bad Guzma. Let me take a guess, kid. You left home when you was little to become the Alola Champion. You tried to beat the Kahunas and failed. You tried to beat the Trial Captains and failed. You tried to beat other trainers and failed. Years passed and you didn’t get any stronger, and finally, you gave up and came crawling back home, only to be met with boos and jeers. Your only option was to work here for the rest of your sorry life, while others who didn’t take on the Rite of the Island Challenge got to have the good life and laugh at you behind your back. Maybe even in front of it. Am I getting close, kid?”

    He lifted up your shirt and saw the scar on your stomach before you could slap his hand away. He grinned.

    “Yeah, you’ve been burned by the world, kid. Just like the rest of us. You know what we about? What we REALLY about?”

    You continued to stare at him, giving the best impression of you not caring that you could, though you’re unsure if it’s fooling this deceptively intelligent thug.

    “Team Skull is out to topple the authority. We aim to turn this whole region on its head, and perch ourselves right on top when we do. They’ve had their stinking tradition for long enough. It’s time for a change. A change that benefits us, the outcasts and losers who were hurt and betrayed by everyone else in the system. It’s time we show them that we are NOT defeated. We’re just MAD.”

    “We rounded up all the Pokémon,” said the boy. He hadn’t said a word this whole time, and you had quite frankly forgotten he was there.

    “Mmm…thank you all for your participation!” Guzma shouted, turning to the crowd and stretching his hands out to them in a grand gesture. “Be sure to come back next week for a repeat performance! Boys, we out!”

    The Yungoos scurried out the door, along with all the grunts. The woman and the boy eyed everyone before leaving after the grunts. Guzma turned to you.

    “So what will it be, fellow reject? Ya ready to get some revenge on those losers who said you couldn’t do anything right?”

    You glanced around the store, looking at all the pretty people. Not one of them seemed all that concerned about losing what was supposed to be their surrogate family member.

    “…fine, let’s go,” you said, playing cool and nonchalant.

    “Yeah, skullhead! We about to have some real fun,” Guzma replied.

    Irksome though it may be, you found Team Skull’s whole choice of dialect to be surprisingly charming. You may warm up to it after awhile.

    “B-but you can’t just take my cashier like that!” came a feeble voice belonging to your former boss.

    You turned around and said “F*** off” before turning around again and walking out the door and into the perfect day, with perfect weather, with a slight breeze and no chance of rain.
  2. I loved reading Rally Interpretation 2, so I'm excited to see that it's back!

    And the Team Skull entry was pretty neat. I think the thing that stood out the most about it was how it was much more different from all the other one-shots in Rally Interpretation 2, in that the recruitment was actually more of an afterthought and that the story was ultimately driven by the unfortunate experiences of this protagonist. I think that was a really good decision structure-wise since Team Skull is all about the misfits, the nobodies, the could-have-beens, and I thought you did a great job in establishing just how much your protagonist embodies that, since it makes his decision to join Team Skull a more satisfying conclusion.

    Loved this sentence, pulled me into the story right from the start.

    You really nailed our boy Guzma's tone here, I felt. And this whole paragraph, while somewhat predictable narrative-wise, really does epitomize what Guzma and Team Skull's deal was about.

    For a second there I thought the protagonist took the cash register as he left. Ahaha.

    I think the only thing I thought could use some improvement is the part after the protagonist gave up on their journey, which I think you could expand on a little more? Reading that paragraph that starts with "You went back home a failure", I felt like so many terrible things happened to the protagonist all at once? I think it's great in terms of story and characterization, but I feel like you could've paced it a bit more so that it didn't come across as this deluge of bad things happening all at once.

    That's a bit of a nitpick, though, and honestly I do understand why you structured it that way. It was already working with the strengths of what you've established prior, and like I said, the heightened focus on the what-could-have-been aspect of your protagonist was a smart idea.

    So yeah, great job with this! Are you considering doing a second take on the older teams or will you be sticking to new teams? Either way I'm looking forward to what you have in store! :)
  3. The Teller

    The Teller King of Half-Truths

    I'm so glad you seemed to really enjoy this one! And I have good news: the structure of the Aether Foundation Employee entry will also be different compared to the previous grunts!

    I originally planned on writing this entry way back before the games came out (as said on one of the threads around here), just to see how close to the mark I would come when we finally find out more about the organization, but things got hectic, so I couldn't do it. I think the opening paragraph WAS written in that time though, so maybe I wouldn't have been too far off?

    I know it's weird, but my headcanon voice for Guzma has always been different from everyone else's (at least, compared to what I see on Let's Plays on Youtube). Whereas everyone else hears a typical gangster, I hear Frank Fontaine from Bioshock, which is more of a slow, sinister, mobster-type.

    Right now, I've got too much on my plate to reboot all the older teams, so I'll be sticking with the new ones, but if enough people want to see me return to the older teams, I'll be happy to give it another go in the future. Now that I think about it, I guess my Pokemon Go story for the latest contest that wrapped up would technically count as a Grunt entry, seeing as we are all grunts of either Team Valor, Mystic, or Instinct.
  4. The Teller

    The Teller King of Half-Truths

    Back from the dead, it's The Grunt Anthology! Today we focus our magnifying glass on the Aether Foundation and, more specifically, one of the employees (NOT a grunt!). To cover all my bases, keep in mind that I wrote this before USUM came out, so all the characters are based off of their SM personalities. I don't think the grunts change very much, if at all, in USUM, so I won't be doing a chapter on the Aether Foundation employees in USUM. I'm unsure as to whether I should do an entry on the Ultra Recon Squad, since we never see any grunts, nor can we even infer that there are grunts. We might just have to wait until the Switch games come out! Anyway, I hope you enjoy the latest chapter!

    (Aether Foundation)

    “…and if you look to the right, you’ll see Aether Foundation’s famed Starmie reservation. Starmie from all over the world that were forcibly evolved early and thus unable to learn new moves naturally and were then considered unusable by their trainers and abandoned are gathered here, where they can grow up healthy, loved, and in a safe space.”

    You gesture towards said exhibit and the crowd of tourists all “ooh” and “ah” at the sight of the Starmie and quickly start snapping photos. Though you see these Starmie every day, with the way your group was responding, you’d think that the tourists have never seen such a Pokémon before. It is possible, though. You’ll gladly boast that you’ve hosted tours for Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, Unova, Kalos, Orre, Ransei, Fiore, Almia, Oblivia, Orange, Decolore, and Ferrum tourists before, and certainly Staryu and Starmie are not equally common in all regions. There’s bound to be some people who have never seen the Pokémon before. You make sure that none of the pictures being taken involve flash photography before ushering the group on to a different part of the sanctum.

    You love your job here as a curator and tour guide for the Aether Paradise. You have always loved caring for Pokémon, whether they be sick or well, and you get a certain feel of satisfaction from working with others who love Pokémon just as much as you do. You feel that the world becomes a brighter place when you convince someone to care for Pokémon better than they did before after watching you do the same. You actually used to be a Pokémon Ranger, traveling all around the islands, caring for injured Pokémon. You became really good at it. You were never sure if that was a good thing or not.

    “Now if you’ll please follow me, we’ll make our way to the Pyukumuku exhibit next.”

    As you guide your group to the exhibit, you talk to them about the organization’s history.

    “The Aether Foundation was first founded 21 years ago by Alola’s wealthy philanthropists Hilo and Muku Ohmori. The couple funded the construction of the Aether Paradise, this manmade island you are walking on right this very second! They felt that wild Pokémon were being seriously injured far more frequently by tourists than is acceptable, and that injured Pokémon were not being treated quick enough by said tourists. For the locals among us today who may not know, tourists see injured Pokémon as a fact of life in their regions due to the commonly established Pokémon League and the League’s close association with Pokémon battling. So for them, they think nothing of fighting a wild Pokémon and leaving it on the side of the road, since they believe that someone from one of the nearby Pokémon Centers will come pick it up shortly. It’s a rather serious case of culture shock.”

    The locals in the group murmur to themselves and cast side glances at the tourists in the group.

    “The Ohmoris would eventually leave the care of Aether Foundation in the hands of its current president, Lusamine. It amazes me that such a woman would be able to head such a large organization after suffering the tragedy of losing her husband in such a mysterious way. No one has ever figured out where he disappeared to, or how he managed to vanish so quickly. It was as if he simply blinked out of existence on a warm, starry night. Luckily, Miss Lusamine is built of sturdy material, as well as age-defying genes, and has successfully run Aether Foundation ever since her arrival.”

    You stop and quickly mentally reassess what you had just said in front of the group, and you suppose it is good to let some personal feelings slip into your narration. You feel that it helps make you seem less like a pre-programmed robot reciting lines and more like a real human being who actually likes their job and wants to go into work every day. And after all, you really do look up to Miss Lusamine as a role model for all she’s done to help all those poor, injured Pokémon that were hurt by other, stronger Pokémon or…

    “I heard that Alola has the same evil team issues that Kanto had! Team Skull or something?” shouts a man from the back of the group.

    You look back at the group. The rest of the tourists look confused while the locals slightly nod in grim acceptance. You usually don’t like to bring THEM up during your tour guides, but since someone already breached the topic, you can’t hide their awful, despicable existence any longer. You answer without losing your smile.

    “Yes, one of the other reasons for the Aether Foundation’s continuing, needed presence is because of the likes of hooligans like this Team Skull that have been making repeated appearances around the islands. The team seems to think nothing of hurting and stealing Pokémon, vandalizing property, threatening innocent bystanders, and generally spreading chaos and discord wherever they go. Rest assured though, we have the situation under control. Team Skull does not seem to have any major plans thought out, nor do they have the numbers or strength to be able to pull one off. In addition, we here at Aether Foundation have trained our own personal Pokémon to be able to combat them wherever they may pop up. There is no reason to worry.”

    This seems to calm the group down and, before they have any time to think it over, you usher them on to the next exhibit.

    Later on that night, you are awoken in your sleeping quarters to the sound of the alarm and fellow employees running down the hallway. You ask one of them what is going on and they say that intruders have broken into the Aether Foundation. Hostile intruders. They’re fighting off every employee that’s thrown at them. And then the employee says something bone-chilling.

    One of the intruders is Lusamine’s own son, Gladion.

    You can hardly believe it. First the president’s own son steals something valuable from the Aether Foundation’s underground vault and escapes the island, never to be seen or heard from again until tonight, and then the president’s own daughter steals another valuable research asset (you believe this to be an especially rare Pokémon that could help fight against a foreign threat) and simply disappears, despite the impossibility of leaving the island that night due to the lack of ships in the port, and now Gladion has the audacity to return?! Does he intend to steal yet more from the organization his mother so caringly leads?

    You think back to a company-wide assembly some time ago…

    You look around at your fellow employees, trying to see if any of them have any clue as to why you were all out here. Only the absolute bare minimum number of employees were still inside the sanctuary, tending to the Pokémon. All the rest were gathered here, just outside the mansion, on orders from Miss Lusamine herself. At the entrance to the mansion stood Branch Chief Faba and Branch Administrator Wicke, and neither of them looked happy to be there. This did not ease your worries. Finally, Miss Lusamine herself walked out of the mansion and up to the podium set up for her. Though there wasn’t her usual smile on her face, she looked calm and collected.

    “Hello, my wonderful family,” she said. Those that were still looking around and talking stopped and looked up at her.

    “I know that you are all wondering why I have brought you all here today. First of all, let me apologize for any inconvenience I might have imposed upon you by orchestrating this meeting. I know that the Pokémon should always come first, but I strongly feel that recent developments require that I share the latest updates with you all, as keeping you all in the loop will help improve proficiency of the organization as well as help prevent future mishaps from happening.”

    Mishaps? What did she mean by that? Was there an accident? Was anyone hurt?

    “As you all know, I was blessed with two children in my life, my beautiful daughter Lillie and my son, Gladion. It pains me to have to say this in front of all of you, but, as of yesterday, Gladion decided to break into the underground research laboratory and steal something invaluable to the organization. I am sorry to say that I am not at liberty to disclose what exactly this asset was to you all, but please understand that it was VERY important to the organization’s goals.”

    There was more muttering as your peers reacted in shock and dismay. You yourself couldn’t believe it. The president’s own son? Stealing from underneath his own mother? It couldn’t be possible. And yet, here she was, openly sharing this tragedy with you. You could only begin to imagine what she must be going through.

    “Though I understand that you all are very upset by this transgression, I humbly wish that you do not try to pursue Gladion or speak of the incident to anyone. He may be more powerful a Pokémon trainer than you and I do not wish to see any of my children get hurt. Furthermore, due to the gravitas of the situation here, we administrators here at the Aether Foundation will investigate the matter. We do not wish to scare the Alolan public with this incident, hence us requesting you not to speak to the police about the matter.”

    More muttering.

    “From Branch Chief Faba and Branch Administrator Wicke and from myself, we thank you for your continued efforts here at the Aether Foundation, and for your cooperation in this most trying of times. If any of you have further questions about the situation or what we expect from you, please feel free to contact any of the administrators or come see me yourself, and I will answer any questions you might have. That is all for this meeting. You may now go back to your regular duties.”

    And that was that. She disappeared back into the mansion, followed by Branch Chief Faba and Wicke. You had no choice but to go back to tending to the Pokémon. You had wondered why Miss Lusamine would ask that you not speak to the police about Gladion, but you obeyed her wishes nevertheless. She had been through enough already, and you certainly didn’t want to upset her further.

    You ask an employee where Gladion is heading. They say that he seems to be making his way towards the mansion. And that’s when you remember who’s currently there.

    You had been working with the Starmie when you overheard the conversation. It had been a few weeks since Lillie’s disappearance. According to your coworkers, she had simply vanished into thin air after stealing something from the organization. Like with Gladion, no one seemed to know what it was that she stole, but the rumor was that it was a very powerful Pokémon that Miss Lusamine was using in her personal research in thwarting powerful threats that may come to the Alola region. Unlike with Gladion, Lillie never seemed like the kind of person to go stealing something so important from someone like Miss Lusamine. You wondered why she would do such a thing. She was simply too young and too innocent to be a corporate spy or an agent sent by those Team Skull thugs. None of it made sense, but it had happened regardless.

    Miss Lusamine never conducted an organization-wide meeting for this incident. Instead, you only found out about it through hearsay and whispers. One thing was clear though: you were not allowed to talk about it to others and especially to the police. You assumed that, once again, the organization’s higher-ups were handling the situation, even though you never did hear about any sort of resolution to what Gladion did.

    The conversation you overheard spoke of Lillie’s return. She had reportedly been captured and convinced to return to the Aether Foundation by an anonymous good citizen. She was brought straight to Miss Lusamine’s chamber in the mansion. You at first felt a sense of relief that Lillie had been rescued and brought back home where she belongs, where she could explain why she did what she did (which you hoped was due to a threat against her). You then felt a sense of unease, because the conversation had said that she was “captured,” meaning that she was unwilling to go. Perhaps the person who threatened her was there with her and she had to keep up appearances? Many ideas spun in your head, but none were confirmed by any facts that you knew of. You went back to work with the Starmie.

    You gather your Poké Balls in a hurry. Surely Gladion was heading there to confront Miss Lusamine and steal Lillie away again, or at least to steal what she stole in the first place. You remembered that people had reported seeing him associating with those Team Skull miscreants. It wouldn’t surprise you if, in his teenage rebellion, Gladion had joined Team Skull and they, in return, used his connection to the organization to try to cripple the Aether Foundation for kicks by trying to steal valuable research material from the organization. Team Skull would do anything to spread chaos across the islands. There is no darkness they wouldn’t plummet to in order to achieve their goals.

    “There is a breach on Level 2. All security personnel report to this station immediately,” comes the PA system.

    You fasten your cap and head out the door. You hope you aren’t too late.
  5. I was wondering how you were going to be tackling the Aether Foundation, and at first I was surprised that this seems to be happening much after the protagonist joined the team. But by the end, I think it makes the most sense to treat it that way, as really “recruiting grunts” for the Aether Foundation would probably just be volunteers coming to the Paradise and saying, “Hey, I want to help Pokemon.”

    But I think this is still a solid addition to the Anthology, as it still captures the blind worship and the reverence this employee has to Lusamine, and that’s really what makes these characters so fascinating to read about. The almost robotic way the protagonist was acting at the start with the tourists felt like a good way of introducing the ideal mindset that’s been instilled to these employees, and I thought it was smart to include how they handled the Team Skull question. Comparing it to how Lusamine addresses Gladion’s betrayal in the flashback really clicked with me - that “everything’s fine, don’t worry about it” mindset is probably just as dangerous as all the other mindsets instilled to the other teams’ grunts.

    Not much else to say other than I really enjoy this series, and I hope you continue with it when a new team emerges! Maybe you can do one for Rainbow Rocket ahaha
  6. The Teller

    The Teller King of Half-Truths

    Bonus Episode!

    Just for you, Dramatic Melody! ;)

    Team Rainbow Rocket

    You didn’t know how you got here. One minute, you’re locked in a deadly and prolonged battle with the Kanto Gym Leaders, sans Giovanni of course. You remember you and your troupe’s horde of Golbats tearing Erika’s Tangela to shreds, biting and ripping every tendril off its body as it screamed in agony. Green blood splattered everywhere like a garden hose turned on and let loose. Like many Kantonians, you had always wondered what Tangela’s true body looked like. Well, you guess now you know. It wasn’t what you were expecting. At all. You remember somebody’s Fearow swooping in from overhead, impaling Misty with its beak, reach high altitudes, and then fling her now lifeless body into the valley below. You remember hearing an Electrode go off, the ground shaking, and dozens of your fellow men’s anguished cries crying out before being silenced forever. The stench of the dead was all around you, and you kept going back and forth between wanting to get as far away from it as possible, and desperately wanting to join them. You were so tired.

    And the next minute, a perfect day, with perfect weather, with a slight breeze and no chance of rain.

    It took days for you and your men to figure out that you hadn’t been teleported out of battle by one of Sabrina’s Pokémon. Taking care to stay out of sight, you eventually scoped the place out and found yourself on a tropical island, surrounded by pristine ocean. The island must have been located very far away from Kanto, if all the Pokémon you’ve never seen before was any indication. You awaited orders. In another few days, you got them. Giovanni appeared, looking completely unaffected by his new surroundings. In fact, he looked as if he had been expecting it all along.

    “Change of plans, men,” he had said. “We’re going to take the central focus of power here.”

    He went on to explain about the Aether Foundation, how it’s the region’s own personal collection base of rare and powerful Pokémon, along with advanced technology, and its hidden secret underground laboratory. The perfect score. The plan was simple, all things considered. There were enough Rocketeers here in the region that they could make a show of force and just bum-rush the Aether Mansion, taking it over through sheer force and numbers. Giovanni said that he had already paid off a man on the inside, so any opposition would be greatly lessened. Apparently, the region had just suffered a nearly cataclysmic event, so the powers that be were in a mad scramble to fix everything that had been broken and restore the peace.

    You waited for Giovanni to explain how and why you were here, what happened back in Kanto, and how he suddenly seemed to know so many things that he rightfully shouldn’t have been able to know. That explanation never came.

    A few days later, you enacted your plan. Giovanni wanted everyone in the region to know about your presence, so he waited for the day a scheduled live interview at the Mansion was to be conducted, and then you struck. Rocketeers swarmed the mansion, sending out wave after wave of Pokémon. It was later said that Giovanni made sure the cameras were rolling and trained on him when he arrived, so that everyone in the region would know what was happening and how powerless they were to stop it. You were a bit surprised when the Aether Foundation employees started fighting back by sending out a variety of strong Pokémon. You figured that, being an abused Pokémon shelter, the employees would only have weak Pokémon and Pokémon of only one or two types (probably the friendlier looking Pokémon). But no, you had to sic your Golbat on a fully evolved Parasect, your Raticate against an Arcanine, and so on. You would commend them for training such powerful Pokémon, but it’s pointless to shower such praise upon people with dead Pokémon. Furthermore, some of your opponents were cowards and escaped with their lives rather than stay and fight for their territory. If you were in command, you would have ordered a couple men to hunt them down and exterminate them, but Giovanni’s orders were absolute, and he put all priority on taking the mansion for Team Rocket. You and your men infiltrated every nook and cranny of the mansion, eliminating anyone who stood in your way. In no time at all, the mansion was yours.

    And in a blink of an eye, your entire surroundings were altered once again.

    Whereas before you were surrounded by bright white and squeaky clean walls and floors, you were now surrounded by black and red. The air about you became noticeably bleaker, as if to accommodate its new owners, and even the architecture itself had changed into something more sinister looking. You looked around and saw that none of your men had anticipated this change as well. From the shadows, you heard Giovanni’s voice.

    “Well done, men! The Aether Foundation is now Team Rainbow Rocket’s! Muahahaha!”

    ‘Team Rainbow Rocket?’ you think to yourself. What did he mean by that? Nothing had made sense since you got to this island, but now it had somehow managed to make even less sense than before. You were starting to wonder if you were dreaming, perhaps still on the battlefield in Kanto. Before you could think about things even further, Giovanni started barking out orders. Your squadron was summoned to his new quarters. It was there that you found yourself assigned to bodyguard the personal chambers of a new administrator. You had waited once again for Giovanni to explain what was going on, and you were once again summarily ignored. However, you obeyed his orders regardless. He was the boss, after all.

    Your new administrator was a weirdo. You were ordered by Giovanni not to disobey this new guy’s orders (unless they would directly hurt Team Rainbow Rocket, in which case you were ordered to execute him immediately), but that didn’t stop you from mentally passing judgment on the man. He wore a red and black overcoat and went on and on about “his world” and “his plans” and “increasing the landmass of this new world.” Based on his comments alone, you figured that he, too, was transported to this island, but you did not recognize him from your time in Kanto. You wondered why he was given such a high position in Team Rainbow Rocket, despite seemingly coming from nowhere suddenly. It couldn’t have been blackmail. Giovanni was far too powerful to allow anyone to obtain blackmail on him. You mentally filed and stored away when the man talked about a super-ancient legendary Pokémon capable of creating landmasses and reducing the ocean level. If true and not the rantings of a madman, this would’ve proved quite valuable to Giovanni.

    A few days later, you became a bit confused when orders came down for there to be regular shift rotations. You were ordered to go across the mansion and guard yet another new administrator. You complied without complaint. You soon learned that this other man was just as out there as the one you were just guarding. He seemed to be morally opposed to the first man in every way. You assumed this meant that they shared a past history in whatever land they hailed from. He spoke with an exaggerated pirate accent and treated you as if you were a close and longtime friend of his, much to your displeasure. Did he think that treating you warmly would warrant loyalty to him? Did he think that little of you? Did he think you were that stupid? More interestingly, he also spoke of a super-ancient Pokémon, though he said that it had the power to bring about a never-ending storm and the ability to literally flood the world. To him, it seemed like the Holy Grail that he had been looking for, but to you, it sounded like a doomsday weapon just waiting to be activated by an idiot. If HIS ramblings were to be correct, then you figured you’d have no choice but to eliminate him before he could pose a threat to the organization.

    During your collective days acting as a bodyguard, you also were assigned to yet another newcomer. This one was a textbook serial killer if you ever saw one. Emotionless and robotic, you had to check his room several times just to be sure that he was still in there, just due to how little noise he made, especially compared to the other administrators. You felt no presence from him when you were in the same room as he was. If it weren’t for the fact that he was very obviously brilliant in the various fields of science, you’d wonder why Giovanni would recruit him at all. You noted that he seemed more content with research than planning an uprising against Giovanni, and thus you weren’t concerned with him becoming traitorous. You still weren’t sure if he wasn’t really a ghost or not, though.

    The final administrator you were assigned to protect was perhaps the one you were most worried about turning against Giovanni. He was boisterous, charismatic, in charge (of his own room), confident, and, like the pirate, loved complimenting the Rocketeers at the drop of a dime. He also had the most work done to his room, with two large, black buttons with brightly colored centers prominently displayed at the back of the room. You had demanded that he explain what they were for the first time you were assigned to him, and he had merely dismissed you with a laugh and a long, confusing spiel about the “beauty of all things.” When you had sent out your Golbat to further emphasize the point that you were not “asking” him anything, but “demanding” it, he merely grinned at the notion before a Pokémon you had never seen before sauntered out the corner of the room, fire escaping its mane as it bared its fangs at you. At that point, you received orders from Giovanni himself (via another subordinate that entered the room), that you were not to question this man any further. You had no choice but to back down, humiliated in the process. You would not forget this.

    You had heard rumors of there being another administrator, but you were never assigned to him, nor did you ever see him. This person, you were told, had a room, but was never in it, preferring instead to wander around the mansion and conducting his business that way. Whatever kind of business it was, it must’ve been the kind that required him to be everywhere in the mansion at once. It was said that, of all the new administrators that Giovanni had recruited, this one was the closest to a second-in-command there was, and regularly worked together with Giovanni. He seemed openly committed to the goals of Team Rainbow Rocket and worked tirelessly towards its future in this new region. Since you had never heard of him before, you guessed that he, too, was teleported here and merely adapted better than the others.

    You had run into his assistant once. He claimed to be a scientist looking at how to draw out the true power of a Pokémon. He was constantly messing around with his strap-on device, though you got the sense that he was still acutely aware of his surroundings, perhaps more than one might suspect. This did not surprise you, though. Everyone in Team Rainbow Rocket was always hiding something. It was what made you so dangerous. You doubted his sanity though, especially when he said that time passed much differently in the mansion compared to the outside world. In fact, he even suggested that not a day has passed by outside the mansion ever since it had suddenly changed form. The fact that he seemed to be the only one of the newcomers who seemed to know about the mansion changing shape made you want to question him further, but he simply walked away, around a corner, and disappeared out of sight. You were left with a sickening feeling. You couldn’t recall the last time you had left the mansion. After all, you were a trained soldier and a bodyguard. You had no purpose that warranted leaving the mansion. You blocked the incident from your mind and went back to patrolling.

    In the following days, your team helped to install the signature Rocket Warp Traps in case the police finally decided to retaliate and try to take back the mansion. Your men helped install Giovanni’s beloved Meowth Statue Traps. You even let loose wild Electrodes into the building. Team Rainbow Rocket did everything they could to fortify their defenses. Giovanni seemed all too convinced that an attack was imminent. The administrators, however, seemed blissfully unaware of an impending danger, or perhaps were intentionally ignoring it. You weren’t sure which was a worse consideration.

    Tensions rose. Rocketeers braced for the worse. After all, they were all survivors of the Kanto war. There became an impenetrable silence in the mansion. No words from Giovanni came from above. You couldn’t stop yourself from imagining who your opponents would be. Would the Gym Leaders from this land try to stop you? Were they stronger then the Kanto Gym Leaders, none of whom were mere pushovers themselves? How big was the police force here? You never had time to find out before being found by Giovanni. How strong were they? If the Aether Foundation employees were any indication, the people in this land were strong, and a prolonged battle with a large group of policemen would not go as “smoothly” as the Kanto fight had gone. Many casualties on your side would be had.

    What if they were already here? What if they were disguised? Would they be capable of blending in for so long? Surely you would have noticed an unfamiliar face amongst the ranks, right? Would Giovanni recruit grunt members even here, on this island, a place no one seems to know anything about? Would they attack you in your sleep? Would they use non-Pokémon weapons?

    What if they used a Ditto to impersonate your troupe members? How well could a person train a Ditto? Could a Ditto be capable of mimicking a human to such an extent? How would you know? How would you know how many of your fellow men were replaced with enemy spies? What if your Pokémon weren’t your own, but rather Pokémon of the same species, trained by the enemy to attack you when you least expect it? How well do you know your own Pokémon? Would they come from the sky or the sea or the earth? You at least knew that the whole foundation had a port and no aerial defenses. Would it be tonight? Would it be tomorrow?

    Days passed. And then two children walked into Team Rocket’s Castle.
  7. DeliriousAbsol

    DeliriousAbsol Call me Del

    Team Skull

    A truly entertaining read! I don't think I've ever read a 'fic written in the second person before. On FFNet I tend to avoid them, if I'm honest. But this was brilliant. I like how we really get into the head of an up-and-coming Team Skull Grunt. The tries and fails of their island challenge, the disappointment of their family, the somewhat unperturbed reaction to the gang's appearance.

    The canon characters were well structured, too. They seemed to be in character to me. I'm not sure who the random boy was with them, though. An OC/Grunt in Training I'm guessing?

    I loved this line XD

    I feel like this is a reference to the VGC format XD it tickled me nontheless!

    Aether Foundation

    Hmm, an interesting one. The Aether Foundation Employee here is clearly misguided. Oblivious to what is really going on beneath that pristine, white exterior. Genuinely caring for the pokemon there, and holding Team Skull in low regard for the way they treat the local wildlife.

    This is brought even more into perspective when they believe Lillie has been returned by 'a good citizen'. Given it was Team Skull who 'returned' her and Nebby.

    Really well written, and such an innocent perspective to boot. Heavily in contrast with the Team Skull one shot, and also the reality of the Aether Foundation!

    Team Rainbow Rocket

    Wow, the violence! Given Team Rocket are mafia, I'm not entirely surprised, but that was very jarring in contrast to the previous two stories! (Not in a bad way, of course!)

    And then they kill the Aether Foundation's pokemon, not just defeat them? D= Wow, brutal, Rainbow Rocket. Brutal.

    I love the nameless descriptions of the other evil bosses. It took me a while to realise you were talking about Cyrus with the 'serial killer' description, and not Lysandre. But that's a fault on my end, since Gen 4 is my least favorite and I kinda do forget team Galactic XD

    If you are still planning on doing any more of these, my top choices would be Team Plasma (an N supporter from the first two games), or Team Snagem (some Orre love!) But I'm sure whatever new stories you come up with will be just as fantastic.

    I'd also like to point out that I didn't spot any typos or grammar errors! All stories are very neat and a joy to read! Fantastic little series all around here, kudos =D
  8. The Teller

    The Teller King of Half-Truths

    That's supposed to be Gladion. Remember, he IS supposed to be Team Skull's enforcer by the time S/M begins.

    Yep, pretty much!

    That was a conscious decision on my part. I didn't want this chapter to feel like my first Rocket chapter, so I decided to take them very seriously.

    How dare you. Just kidding!

    Girl, you been living under a rock or something?! Those are what I'm primarily known for on this site. Don't worry, I got you fam. If you just click on "Rally Interpretation 2" in my signature, you'll get fantastic stories of ALL the other team grunts, INCLUDING Orre! But not Trozei. Or Ranger. Because I never played them and they smell weird. Hope you have a blast, and thanks again for the compliments!
  9. So, so sorry for being late in commenting on the Rainbow Rocket entry!

    But man, it has to be one of my favorites so far, and for three reasons. First, it reads like a really great tie-up to the whole anthology, what with the recap of most of the teams through their leaders and the unique and humorous take on each of their plans. It was fun watching your protagonist react to each of these characters and their unique insanities.

    Second, I like how this captures just how out there the Rainbow Rocket subplot was, even in Pokemon standards. From the brutality of the takeover to the time-space shenanigans, it really made the piece a more enjoyable read.

    And third, and definitely the most commendable, is how great your protagonist is. I really felt their confusion, their blind admiration, their determination to figure out what the hell was going on, and most especially their paranoia in the end. It's almost like it took all of the qualities magnified in the previous entries of Rally Interpretation 2 and The Grunt Anthology and took it to the next level with this grunt. That also goes with what I said above about this being a great tie-up to the whole collection, but IMO it just made for a more holistic protagonist.

    So yeah, really glad I came back to this, and I look forward to seeing what else you have planned for this. Awesome job! :)
  10. The Teller

    The Teller King of Half-Truths

    It's been 3000 years...

    I'm glad you liked the chapter! As I said, it was just for you!

    I didn't feel like this chapter was a culmination of the entire series, but I see where you're coming from. It does sort of have that "series finale" vibe to it, doesn't it?

    I feel like the developers knew it made no sense, but it was there more for nostalgia than anything else. It worked. It was the most well liked and talked about portion of the game (beyond Ultra Necrozma).

    Thanks so much! Behind the scenes, I wrote it as Giovanni constantly haphazardly rewriting reality on a whim and not even bothering to tell his followers what's going on and just expecting them to blindly follow his orders. He cares that little about others and their well-being. So naturally, when someone like You experiences reality changing on a dime and not quite realizing what's going on, it's going to come across as sudden and jarring and whiplash-like, but your mind desperately wants to consider the situation normal because the alternative would be too much to comprehend. And given how horrific I made the beginning of the chapter, I wanted to make it a horror chapter all the way through, so I threw in a dash of paranoia at the end, which seems to have gone over well.

    As of now, for real this time, there doesn't seem to be any other team grunts for me to do an entry for, besides for games I haven't played, so I don't know the future of this project. Perhaps we'll all have to wait until next year when the Gen 8 games come out.

    Of course, there's always Teller spottings at Yuletide and the other events, and maybe some more stories are on the way...

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