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The Quest for the Legends, now with its ILCOETH revision!

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Dragonfree, Apr 26, 2004.

  1. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    It would really annoy May if she heard you seem to think she can't do just fine without pseudo-legendaries. :p

    In any case, she just specifically chose to catch a Stantler, so no, it really doesn't seem like she's all that interested in catching something powerful for some reason. Thanks for reading in any case and I hope the wait for new chapters won't completely kill you.

    Glad you like the new team members, and I hope you enjoy what's to come for them (and for May). Thanks for reading once again.

    Huh. I never thought of it that way, to be honest; it's hard to compare the difficulty before and after the League, really, because so much else has changed. Their Pokémon have gotten a lot more powerful, and the legendaries have been weakening in the meanwhile, but they also now have to battle multiple legendaries at once; in the middle of all this that's throwing the relative difficulty of the legendary battles around pretty dramatically, the impact of Letaligon and Tyranitar are getting replaced with statistically weaker Pokémon seems pretty trivial in comparison.

    We'll see. She is one of my favorite characters as well and though I can't promise you'll like her resolution, I'm looking greatly forward to writing it.


    Anyway, thanks for keeping up, everybody. I'm still on the first page of chapter 57, but it's also going to be pretty short. Chapter 58 then has copious amounts of Letaligon. :3
     
  2. biggggg5

    biggggg5 Bigglesworth

    over the past three days i read this fic beginning to current and LOVE IT! especially the original pokemon. please add me to the pm list.
     
  3. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner Peace to the Mountain

    Heh... You asked for it, Letaligon. :p

    And pfff, when I initially read what immediately followed that, I couldn't help but imagine Sneasel being all, "I'll show YOU an ambitious frickin' pokémon!" when she jumped out, with this sort of >:/ expression on her face and everything. XD

    "Maylike", heh. Interesting term. I rather like it. :3


    Sneasel's certainly got a memorable personality. I like Stantler, too; I like how civil she seems to be. It's pleasant. :3 Plus stantler are cool in general. :B And yeah, I do find it quite interesting that May was compelled to capture said deer-thingie, as well as that she opted against swapping her for Sneasel.
     
  4. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    biggggg5: I appreciate your readership, but please try to make more substantial reviews in the future; one-liners are discouraged.

    Sike Saner: Glad you like the newcomers! I hope you enjoy what I've got in store for them, including this chapter.


    Anyway, today (or rather, the nineteenth, which I suppose by now counts as yesterday in many time zones) The Quest for the Legends turned nine years old, and therefore I made a special effort to finish chapter 57. I'm afraid I'm not overly fond of it because there were a lot of bits I was having a hard time wording properly (largely because I'm not in the best writing mood ever), but it does have its interesting parts.



    Chapter 57: Three Conversations

    “Stantler, Hypnosis!”

    Stantler’s antlers glowed with psychic energy as the Fangcat facing her hissed. Even after all Mark had been through in the meantime, the huge sabertoothed beast seemed every bit as menacing as the one that had killed Scyther what felt like years ago. Seeing it waver on its feet and then simply slump over on its side with its eyes shut just seemed fundamentally wrong, somehow.

    “Sneasel, Night Slash!” Mark ordered, and his newest team member was all too eager to comply. With dark energy swirling around her claws, Sneasel leapt at the Fangcat and raked her blades across its belly, drawing crimson blood. The creature twitched in its unnatural sleep but failed to wake up even as the weasel delivered another slash.

    “Stantler, Stomp!” May called.

    Stantler reared up on her hind legs and brought her hooves down on the Fangcat’s skull with a sickening crack, and something about the sound and the attack connected in Mark’s mind to the crunch of Taylor’s ribs collapsing under Tyranitar’s foot, the abrupt end of his scream, the corpse’s dead eyes staring emptily into the sky.

    He shuddered, suddenly nauseous, and looked at May; she, too, had frozen, fists clenched, gaze fixed unseeingly into the distance.

    As Stantler noticed their silence and turned her head questioningly towards them, Sneasel darted at the Fangcat yet again, slicing her bloodied claws into its side. This time the sabertooth Pokémon’s eyes flitted open and it rose to its feet with a hiss, swinging its engorged fangs towards Sneasel. She darted easily out of the way and ducked between Stantler’s legs, and as the deer turned sharply back around, the Fangcat pounced. Stantler cried out as its fangs tore into her side; May’s eyes widened and she quickly reached for Stantler’s Pokéball as Sneasel jumped onto the Fangcat’s back. While the weasel tore viciously at the creature’s shoulders, a red beam absorbed Stantler and recalled her into the safety of her Pokéball; the Fangcat crashed into the ground and didn’t get up again.

    “Good job, Sneasel,” Mark said hurriedly as he recalled her. “That... that could be bad for Stantler. We need to get her to a Pokémon Center, quick.”

    “But the Pokéball stops her state from...” May started to protest, but then trailed off. “Yeah. Let’s hurry.”

    -------

    Mark was mildly surprised when May decided to stay in the Pokémon Center while the nurses tended to Stantler, even though they had been assured she was not in any real danger and would be fine in only a short time.

    “Yes, I’m sure,” she insisted, looking distractedly around. “Look, we need Ultra Balls. Why don’t you just use the time to go to the Pokémart and get some? I’ll get rooms for us while you’re there.”

    He couldn’t shake the feeling she was just trying to get rid of him somehow, but after a moment’s consideration he figured he might as well leave her alone if she wanted him to, and she was right about the Ultra Balls, so he shrugged, left the Pokémon Center and headed for the Green Town Department Store.

    It felt like years since he’d first come to Green Town, before the Pokémon Festival, before the legendary capturing. He could barely remember his life without the quest on his shoulders anymore, and thinking about the fact only a few months ago he’d been here picking out events to register his Pokémon in and looking forward to witnessing Chaletwo’s appearance made it strike him harder than ever before that despite that they had somehow already caught a few legendaries, he was still just a kid with no real idea what he was doing.

    The weight of everything that supposedly depended on their mission hit him like a brick, and he stopped as something occurred to him that somehow hadn’t properly occurred to him before.

    “Why me?” he asked quietly, directing the question inwards. “Of all people, why pick me?”

    “You were there,” Chaletwo responded with a telepathic sigh. “Out of the people who came to see me each of those five times, I picked out someone present who had Pokémon and seemed more excited than afraid of being in the presence of a dangerous legendary Pokémon. That’s all there was to it.”

    “There are thousands of better ways to pick people for this than that,” Mark said.

    Chaletwo was silent for a moment. “I know.”

    “So why didn’t you do it differently?”

    There was a moment of silence again. “It’s a stupid plan,” Chaletwo then said, bitterly. “It was a stupid plan from beginning to end. I’m not sure who I was ever trying to kid with it.”

    Mark blinked. Whatever he had been expecting, this was not it.

    “Mew is right. Sneasel is right. The world isn’t going to end if the legendaries die and happen to take some mortals with them. We don’t even know what happens if the legendaries are all inside Pokéballs when the moment comes. We can’t stop it. I’m not sure I ever really thought we were going to stop it. I think I just wanted something to do to pretend I was doing something about it instead of sitting around waiting to die.”

    It took a second for this to sink in. “What? Don’t say that,” Mark said, but it didn’t stop the pit forming in his stomach. “We’ve come this far. We can’t just stop and give up.”

    Chaletwo sighed. “I’m not saying we should. It’s just –”

    “I mean, even if it’s hard, we can at least try to save you, right? And thousands of people and Pokémon would die in the struggle too if the War happened. Of course we should –”

    “– I’m sorry for dragging you into this. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time and were suddenly ordered to go save the world because of it. It wasn’t fair and I don’t blame you if you want to quit.”

    There was a wincing, reluctant quality to his voice, like he hated every word. Mark was stunned into silence for a second; this was just about the last thing he ever expected Chaletwo to say, reluctantly or otherwise.

    “It’s a bit late to say that now, isn’t it?” he said pointedly after a moment. When the legendary didn’t reply, he added, “And what’s with the sudden mood swing, anyway?”

    “It’s not a mood swing,” Chaletwo replied exasperatedly. “I’ve just... been thinking that maybe I should make a soul gem after all, just to be safe. I didn’t really want to face it but this whole catching-all-the-legendaries thing probably isn’t going to work, and then it’s good to have some insurance –”

    “...and then it would be nice if I’d quit to give you an excuse,” Mark finished, anger seeping into his voice. “Right?”

    Chaletwo responded with a sudden heat. “What is this compulsion you have to attribute everything I do to me just being a jerk? I’m genuinely sorry I pulled you into this in the first place, but I truly think you’re probably better off going home, telling your family to stay in an underground shelter or something and waiting it out. I know I used to say the legendaries were so powerful now that they’re going to destroy the whole world, but I really just kept telling myself that to justify the plan. I had no real basis for it. The world isn’t going to end. You can save yourself. Why am I the bad guy for pointing it out?”

    Mark bit back at least three snappy replies that came to mind by telling himself it wouldn’t help. “What about everybody else?” he said finally. “We can’t possibly fit all the people and Pokémon in the world into a shelter.”

    Chaletwo hesitated before replying. “Look, Mark, I know you have trouble with this ‘mortals die’ thing, but...”

    “Not this again,” Mark cut in, frustrated. “I can’t just go save my friends and family and watch the apocalypse happen to everybody else.”

    “The alternative is watching the apocalypse happen to everybody including you!”

    The desperation in his tone gave Mark pause; he took a deep breath, calming down a little. “Unless we catch all the legendaries and stop it, like we’re planning.”

    “That’s all well and good, but I’m really starting to think that was wishful thinking from beginning to end.”

    “I don’t care what you do, but I can’t just go home,” Mark said, realizing as he said it that it was the truth. “That’s the thing at this point. I don’t know what I’m doing and you shouldn’t have picked me, but because I know what’s going on now I have to try to do something about it. I can’t run away from it. And I don’t know how you can just –”

    “Because I’m scared, Mark!” Chaletwo responded, a hint of a tremble in his voice. “I’ve lived for a thousand years and in a few months’ time I’m going to go mad and get torn apart and stop existing. How do mortals deal with that every day of their lives, knowing it’s just going to end? I tried to pretend I could stop it but lately everyone has just been pointing out all the reasons it was a dumb plan until I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I wish we could save everyone, I really do, but we can’t. You can keep trying, but...”

    “But you’re going to abandon us and make a soul gem?”

    Chaletwo hesitated for a long moment. “I just... I don’t want to die,” he said at last, quietly, the fight gone from his voice. For a second he seemed to be about to continue, but then he didn’t.

    There was silence.

    And Mark wanted to continue pushing him, but something held him back, the same something that had made him keep the origins of the Dragons of Ouen secret: in the back of his mind he could feel the naked emotion underlying Chaletwo’s words, all that confusion and fear and broken despair, and he couldn’t help sympathizing on some basic level.

    He took a deep breath. “Isn’t it actually better for you to be in a Pokéball than in a soul gem?” he said. “The soul gem needs you to die and be helpless unless you get resurrected by a Psychic-type into a new body. In a Pokéball, you can be held in stasis where the Destroyer can’t get at you, keep your body and your power and it’s simple to send you out again after. Right?”

    “Pokéballs are designed to open when destroyed. It’s not safe.”

    “But gems are destructible too, technically,” Mark pointed out. “And the PC Storage System’s Pokéball farms are supposed to be pretty secure. I mean, they’re like bank vaults, built to withstand explosions and attacks of all kinds.”

    “You have no idea what a legendary at double its full power is capable of.”

    “Yeah, but they’d hardly just happen to unleash that kind of power against a human building. They’re mostly trying to kill each other, right? There’s no reason they’d go for the Pokéball farm. Isn’t a gem a lot more likely to be accidentally destroyed?”

    “What’s it to you?” Chaletwo said irritably. “Why do you care if I’m in a soul gem or a Pokéball?”

    Mark hesitated. “I guess it’s actually pretty good having you around,” he admitted at last. “It would be hard doing it alone. And if it were me I’d rather be in a Pokéball.”

    Chaletwo didn’t answer. After a moment, Mark sighed and walked on towards the Pokémart, leaving the legendary alone.

    -------

    It took Mark a moment to realize who the teenage boy standing with his back facing towards him by the Pokéball shelves was.

    “Hey, Alan,” he said, approaching him cautiously. Alan jumped and whirled around, and Mark started to regret talking to him as the older boy’s expression turned from recognition to dread.

    “Mark? What are you...?” Alan looked wildly back and forth before fixing his gaze back on Mark. “Where’s... where’s May?” he asked warily.

    “At the Pokémon Center,” Mark answered. “Her Stantler was hurt pretty badly.”

    Alan’s face turned blank. “She has a Stantler?”

    “Yeah. She caught her at the Safari.”

    “Right.” Alan nodded, a few too many times. He seemed to have relaxed a little at hearing May wasn’t with him, but he was still clearly tense and awkward, and it was making Mark slightly uncomfortable.

    “She stayed behind,” he said after a moment. “To wait while Stantler was being treated.”

    Alan blinked. “Oh,” he said. “That’s new.”

    Mark hesitated a little, realizing slowly what he really wanted to say to Alan. “I think she’s still pretty upset.”

    Alan exhaled, looking down. “All right. That’s not really any of my business.”

    “I think she might be trying to...”

    “Mark,” Alan cut in, closing his eyes, speaking with a forced calmness, “out of everything, can we please talk about something other than May right now?”

    “Okay,” Mark said hesitantly. “How are your Pokémon?”

    “Fine. We’ve been training.”

    Mark looked at him, growing more awkward by the minute, not sure what else to say.

    “Was it anything else?” Alan said finally.

    “Not really,” Mark replied in defeat.

    “Okay. Bye, then. You’ll call.”

    “All right. Bye.”

    Alan smiled forcedly and hurried towards the exit, and Mark couldn’t help not really missing him.

    -------

    May sat down on the bed in the room she’d rented for the night and looked at the Pokéball in her hand.

    How were trainers supposed to do this? It felt silly, like something you saw on TV but just seemed awkward and cheesy in real life. Everything about supposed good trainers was like that: forced, weird, stupid. She’d never even been able to take Alan seriously half of the time.

    And yet here she was.

    She sighed and dropped the ball, watching it release Stantler in a burst of white light. She tossed her neck a little before looking at her trainer.

    “So,” May began and felt so, so stupid, “are... are you okay?”

    “I’m fine,” the deer Pokémon said. May nodded, unsure how this conversation was supposed to proceed exactly. Stantler opened her mouth again, gaze still fixed on her trainer. “But you aren’t.”

    Something twitched inside May. “What are you talking about?”

    “You don’t have to tell me what’s bothering you,” the Pokémon said carefully, still surveying her closely. “But don’t pretend it’s nothing – there is clearly something going on. You react strangely to seemingly innocuous things. You’ve already been to the League and battle like it, but your demeanor is awkward, like a beginning trainer. Everything about you is just a little off.”

    May blinked at Stantler, unable to answer. (She wanted to protest that last part, but of course it was off. It was ridiculous. How did Mark do it and still sound like a person? And she wasn’t sure if she was supposed to feel insulted, and it occurred to her as she squeezed the Pokéball in her hand that she could recall Stantler to make it go away but she knew that wasn’t going to be helpful.)

    “I’m a mother,” Stantler said after a moment. “And I’ve had a trainer once before. I only want to help you. If you talk, I’ll listen and understand. That’s all.”

    May looked away and couldn’t help thinking that the last thing she needed right now was a mother to nag and pretend she knew better how to solve her problems than she did – but it struck her that Stantler and Sneasel had never been told about Taylor, and that seemed unfair when all the other Pokémon knew, and that probably meant she should tell her (right?).

    She took a deep breath. “There... I used to have a Tyranitar,” she said and already regretted starting. “He killed someone and I had to release him.”

    Something changed in Stantler’s expression, something May couldn’t work out because she wasn’t a Stantler. “Who?” she asked gently.

    “Taylor Lancaster. He was... he was a cheating git. He kind of deserved it.”

    “Nobody deserves to die,” Stantler said.

    “I mean, I didn’t want him to kill him,” May clarified, quickly. “Tyranitar just thought I did, because... because he was too young, or something. I didn’t know. He never talked.”

    Stantler tilted her head, waiting.

    “I... I think I screwed him up.” She regretted saying it, just like she’d regretted it when she’d said it to Alan, just like she hated thinking about it at all. “But I didn’t know. I was just trying to be a competitive trainer, and he never talked and never told me he was just a little kid. How was I supposed to know he’d turn out...?”

    Her voice faded. It was a sorry excuse. She made a lot of excuses for a lot of things but this was the one thing she couldn’t really make excuses for.

    “Why do you think it was your fault?” Stantler asked.

    “Because Lapras left, too.” Why was she telling Stantler all this? (Because, for some reason, she wanted to tell someone.) “I thought that was just because she was too sensitive and couldn’t deal with having a trainer, but then Tyranitar...”

    She trailed off. Stantler nodded slowly, looking a little wary.

    “I’m not... I’m not abusive,” May said, hearing her voice waver a little and struggling to stop it. “I don’t want to hurt anyone. But I’m not like Mark or Alan. I don’t go around... I’m not here to make friends. I just want to train a powerful team. Is that wrong? What am I supposed to do? Pretend to be someone I’m not? I keep trying to do everything good trainers are supposed to do but it just feels stupid.”

    Stantler looked thoughtfully at her for a few seconds. “Why did your Lapras leave?”

    “Because she was –”

    May stopped and took a breath. No. That wasn’t it. She knew that.

    “Sometimes I got angry when she didn’t do well. And there was a time when she wanted to be recalled but I told her to get another attack in, so she got hit by a Thunder. She was always nervous about getting hurt. I guess she hated battling from the beginning, but I didn’t know. I swear I didn’t know. She never told me.”

    “Did you ever ask?”

    At first she wanted to blow it off as a stupid question, but then she realized it was cutting deep somewhere, and she couldn’t say anything; she shook her head slowly.

    “I think that’s your problem,” Stantler said after a few seconds. “It wasn’t that you didn’t make friends with them or ask them if they were all right after they got hurt or do enough of the things you think good trainers are supposed to do. It was that you didn’t care to get to know them and think of them as people. That’s what matters in the end.”

    May stared at the deer Pokémon, alternative scenarios flashing through her mind: if she’d found out Lapras didn’t like battling immediately, released her, found a different Water Pokémon; if she’d talked to Larvitar, picked up on the baby-talk, treated him like a confused child instead of a fighter. Things would have been different. Things could have been...

    She looked abruptly away, and Stantler just waited, silent.

    “What was your old trainer like?” May asked after a long while, not looking up.

    “A boy,” Stantler replied, something changing in her voice. “He was a nice enough kid. Didn’t talk much.”

    May nodded frozenly. If not for the time that Mark had wanted to have everyone share stories of their past, she wouldn’t have even known if any of her Pokémon had had trainers before.

    “One day,” Stantler continued suddenly, looking away, “he hanged himself in a tree in Ruxido. We never found out why.”

    May looked up in a jolt. It occurred to her that suddenly everything Stantler had been saying made a lot more sense. “I’m... I’m sorry.”

    Stantler sighed. “It was years ago,” she just said.

    They were silent for a few seconds.

    “Mark must be getting back,” May said finally, standing up. “I should get out there and check for him.”

    Stantler nodded. “That’s a good idea.”

    May raised the Pokéball she was still clutching and hesitated. “Thanks,” she then said, and it didn’t feel as stupid as she’d thought it would.
     
  5. biggggg5

    biggggg5 Bigglesworth

    as always good work. a little short and a little unactiony but still very good. i also would have appreciated a little more humor but i guess it doesnt fit this chapters mood (sorry if this is too short this is the first fic ive ever reveiwed)

    and i have a few questions for scyther if you are doing that still: (looking at sciztwo's description) if you could keep your scythes would you evolve into a scizor? and how do you sharpen your scythes? do you sharpen them on rocks or what?
     
  6. gmoyes

    gmoyes Nerd and Proud of it

    And now the chapter with all the drama. Jeez no one is in a good mood.
    *Shudders* Thanks for the reminder of how greusome your version of the pokemon world is. Just wondering, after the climax (where Mark, May, Chaletwo, ect. save/prevent/survive ect. the war of the legendaries) will the Quest for the Legends be over? Or will you keep writing about Mark, May, Chaletwo?
     
  7. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    It's a pretty major theme in this fic that the immortal legendaries are (almost) universally terrified of dying, though most of them would sooner bathe in lava than admit it. Chaletwo's pretty good at hiding it behind general grumpiness most of the time, though.

    Scyther: No. Never.

    I sharpen my scythes on one another.

    Nobody in my fics is ever in a good mood. Unless they're in a good mood just so it'll be more cruel when something horrible happens. [/very slight exaggeration]

    Who says they will? :p

    It will be over after the War of the Legends plot's climax and resolution.

    Thanks for reading, everyone.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2011
  8. Chibi Pika

    Chibi Pika Stay positive

    *Wanders into thread and looks around.* I can't help but feel saddened by how empty it's gotten in here...


    I know you'd probably like a review, but I mostly just wanted to comment on the fic's anniversary. ^^ I can still remember waaaaay back when I first started reading, in summer of 2003. There have been a lot of times I've fallen behind, but there is no doubt in my mind that I will be reading this to its end. And because of that, it's very reassuring knowing that you will never give up on it, and that I know I'll get to see how this fic ends. It really, just....truly has all of the ingredients to appeal to me completely and perfectly.

    And the funny part is, one of the things I admire most is your ability to make everything consistent. This probably warrants an explanation. You know my revising tendencies are a lot like yours only on drugs. I constantly notice things that make no sense in my older chapters that cannot possibly be explained away, and then I waste years trying to cut and paste everything back together. This completely and utterly changes my plans for future plotsconstantly, until it got to the point where none of my plans made any sense. The fact that your revisions manage to stay cohesive (even if bearing shortcomings that prompt rewrites on your part ;)), without you having to retcon everything all the time, is something I really envy.

    Also, I feel I should mention (somewhat randomly), the IALCOTN(sp?). When you first started it (don't remember when), I remember being like "whaaaaa? why is she rewriting again? this fic is too awesome to be rewritten now! ILCOE forever!" But then recently (read: maybe a year ago or so) I went and actually read it, and OHHHH MAN. IT IS SOO MUCH BETTEEERRRRRR. So yeah, even an obsessive fan like me can appreciate your rewrites.


    I feel like I've got to do something cool for when QftL turns 10. :3 Sure there's that Ouen dragons piece that I keep getting too dissatisfied with, and at one time or another I've done fanart of Mark, May, Chalenor, and Chaletwo, so I'm considering some sort of big "all characters" thing. Yes, I know that's in A YEAR, and I should probably focus on my own fic's 10th b-day first, but we all know how darn long it takes me to finish these things. x3


    So...yeah...*raises coffee cup for a toast* Here's to starting plotless legendary fanfics at age 12 and then rewriting them for ten years. :) Cheers.

    ~Chibi~;249;;448;

    PS: And yes, I will get around to leaving a review proper, but I am sort of at work right now. xP It will probably mostly consist of PLOT SPECULATION OF THE VAGUEST ORDER™, which is sort of odd following a plot-thin, character-heavy chapter. (I've been archive binging on the thread, rereading old stuff, the usual. Gosh, my posts here used to be so spastic...)
     
  9. This is..... *manly tears* beautiful.

    I have one question: how many chapters do you plan to have by the time you end the fic?
     
  10. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    Chibi Pika: Eee, thanks for stopping by. :3 And I really need to read your fic someday, if I ever get past the huge honking list of fanfics I keep telling myself I should read. (When's its tenth anniversary again?)

    I retcon things all the time; it's just that I'm pretty good at making my new plot fit the previous chapters (sometimes only in a very stretched manner, sometimes better than what I'd originally conceived as the explanation). The absolute core concepts of the main plot weren't thought up until 2006 or so, being preceded by completely different, unrelated and nonsensical explanations for everything, but that doesn't stop there being stuff originating in the original version that seems to brilliantly foreshadow everything. I have no idea how it happens. If I were a lunatic I would have concluded long ago that the true plot of the fic has ~been in my head all along~ without my realizing it. But I'm not. Not quite.

    Yaaay, IALCOTN appreciation! I really need to continue with that. I have a lot of ideas for what I'm going to do differently in it as it goes on but currently I'm too busy being all the-end-of-the-ILCOE-is-actually-in-sight.

    D: Show your fanart to meeee. Seriously! I fangirl your fanart and I'm not a good enough artist to notice whatever you're dissatisfied with anyway.

    Thanks for stopping by! And looking forward to plot speculation. That's always fun. Cheers to you and your fic too. :3

    Sgeckledorf Spoongeblorb: Much appreciated, but you should try to make more substantial comments in the future.

    By the current chapter plan, the fic will be 76 chapters in all. This could theoretically change, but I doubt it.
     
  11. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner Peace to the Mountain

    Damn... yeah, I can see where that would bring back such memories. D: What a hideous thing to have to remember...

    Surprised me, too. And I've got to say, I really liked the whole part where Chaletwo was laying out his doubts about his plan. He was an interesting character to begin with, and this just adds another facet to that.

    Oh man, and when he admitted that he was scared. Heck of a memorable moment right there.

    And on top of all that, I just can't help but like this line to little pieces:

    Good ol' quotable Chaletwo... :D

    Also:

    D'aww.

    Nice work on the conversation between Mark and Alan, too. That awkwardness in the air between them was practically tangible.

    Stantler continues to be terrific--I'm liking her more and more over here. She just seems so wise, that one. The scene with her and May brought yet another really good and memorable conversation to the chapter. And oh man, when she mentioned what had happened to her previous trainer... yeah. D: Like I said, memorable stuff.

    ...I need to find some other ways of saying "memorable". X3;
     
  12. Chibi Pika

    Chibi Pika Stay positive

    ~Wahaha, I am here to bump the thread!
    Silverwing;249;: Spamming a mod’s thread. Classy.
    ~Oh now, COME ON. I said I was gonna leave a review, didn’t I?
    Silverwing;249;: Three weeks ago.

    Man, time flies. o_O

    And actually...come to think of it. I really didn’t have much in the way of a review, anyway. Just more ramblings about how Stantler is an awesome character, and applauding you for May’s character, since I don’t think I ever really appreciated how well you pulled off a harsh, insensitive character without them turning into a flat meany-face, and seeing her recent vulnerabilities have been all the more sweet.

    Now then...please don’t kill me for this, because maybe I’m totally wrong, but...I can help but feel like Chaletwo admitting that his plan was stupid to be a little bit of a "I see what you did there." ;) I have a subtle impression that he’s channeling the author there. Don’t get me wrong, I think you beat yourself up over the fic’s cobbled-together plot far too frequently—it works far better than you give it credit for :)—but that line just kinda made me smile. (Or maybe I’m just misinterpreting it because I’ve done that sort of thing before. Ie, I had the main character make a stupid plan in an early chapter and realized it was stupid, but then just decided to have her lampshade it later on so I couldn’t be accused of not knowing. =P

    I started it on December 14, 2001 (technically I’m not 100% sure that was the actual day, since it was hand-written so no handy file-creation dates. But I’ve been referring to it at the 14th for several years.) I’m hoping to resurrect it in a new thread long before that, though.
    Well yeah, I should have explained that better. What I meant was, that when you add/change things, you don’t have to go revise your old chapter and then inform readers of random things that are different now. The new stuff meshes with the old, as opposed to requiring you to fix up the old to fit with the new. So it doesn’t come off as a retcon so much as just changing/adding to future plans.


    And now~ THE MOMENT YOU’VE ALL NOT BEEN WAITING FOR: PLOT SPECULATION OF THE VAGUEST ORDER™
    Silverwing;249;:Chibi, that stopped being cool 30 thread pages ago.

    Most of this is just me musing on various things so bear with me.

    So I’ve been think about the ending of the fic, and while I obviously don’t have any clue how it will go (you’ve implied that it’s going to be very unexpected, anyway), I do have some thoughts on what will happen with the events leading up to it. (I’m mostly theorizing on how you’ll do the plot structure right now, rather than actual events.)

    So first off, I’m guessing that the Legendary-catching will go about as well as expected (that is to say, decently), until...something else will come into play and throw everything off. I don’t have any theories as to what, but something is going to screw everything up and force them to plan out a new course of action.

    Basically, I don’t think it’ll be like "Oh noes, that War is about to start and we’re not doing very well!" because that wouldn’t have enough rising action to make the chapters leading up to the climax have enough variety.

    Secondly, Rick. I hate acting sure about something (because it’s so funny seeing someone sure about something be completely wrong), but I am almost certain he is going to come back into the story in a big way. Not just because of his exclamation on the TV. The fact that he’s caught so many Legendaries is just...too convenient, and everyone else is like "oh well that was helpful" for it to not have some sort of repercussions on the story later. His TV interview was like icing on the cake.

    Thirdly, Mewtwo. Maybe this is me just being cheeky about having guessed Chaletwo’s origin (or rather, having guessed it, but then discounting it and going on to form some weird Mewtwo² theory instead), but I can’t help but feel like the fact that sometime in the future of the fic, he is going to randomly get taken back in time by Chalenor, to be really, really suspicious. It doesn’t really seem like the sort of thing that won’t get brought up, even if it’s just Mark vaguely realizing that it’s going to happen some time or another.

    Even weirder is the fact that, presumably, if someone witnessed this, they would be able to see Chalenor before he died. Chaletwo himself not knowing how Chalenor was able to take Mewtwo back seems like a giant red flag. Of course, he then went on to theorize that a time-traveler could return to their own time with someone from the future. But I’m an author, so I don’t believe that. ;) Having a character not know something very plot-relevant, and then handwave it with a theory that kinda makes sense, is a frequent ploy to make the reader forget about it.

    Fourthly, the Destroyer. Lol, I know, Destroyer theories also stopped being cool in 2005. But I’m gonna go about this less like theorizing, and more like looking at probability, since I know the Destroyer is going to be really shocking.

    I am of the opinion that the Destroyer is a Pokémon. I know there’s always the chance that it won’t be, but I think it will. It could always be a Legendary that no one’s ever heard of (would certainly make sense, and all), but I don’t think that will be the case either. Making an unknown Legendary show up out of nowhere would be a totally different sort of dramatic impact than what has been used in this fic thus far. It wouldn’t be bad persay, but I don’t think it would fit.

    However, it could be the case if the Destroyer never actually appears in the fic. I’m torn on whether I think it’s more likely that it will or not. I mean, presumably they have to stop the war in some way or another since the alternative would only really be surprising in the "I didn’t think she’d do that" way as opposed to "whoa I never would have seen THAT coming." Again, I assume the climax is going to involve some crazy twist that throws off all their plans. So...yeah, I think the Destroyer will actually be seen.

    I can’t quite decide whether I think the Destroyer is ancient, or if a new one comes into being after every war just like the Creator and Preserver. Both seem viable.

    Now...as to its identity. Odds are, any 3rd Gen-onward Legendary is right out, since I can’t see you redoing something as basic as Legendaries’ roles in the story with each new Gen *coughunlikesomepeoplecough.* Looking over the Legendary list...wow, there really aren’t many left to get. Okay, that makes me a bit more sure. Having the Destroyer be one of the Waraider would be really random. I think, if the Destroyer is a known Legendary, it has already been discounted. That is to say, a Legendary they already will have thought could not possibly be the Destroyer, for whatever reason. My brain keeps wanting to try to make sense out of the possibility it could have already been captured. I’m sure there’s some way that could make sense, I just can’t think of it. And now I am fascinated by the thought of what if the Destroyer didn’t even know it was the Destroyer? Weird and unlikely, yes, but I still find it an interesting thought.

    Edit: Wait, wait...if Legendaries don’t lose their power inside a Poké ball, then logically the Destroyer couldn’t drain them from within one. Well, it wasn’t a very likely theory anyway. =P

    That...that seems suspicious. I mean, there’s a high chance that it’s fairly innocuous, but....again, Chaletwo didn’t know. This is something very crucial to the mechanics of how exactly the war works, and the fact that you pointed it out makes it that much more likely to have some sort of importance.


    And lastly, part of me wants to know more about Mitch. But part of me thinks it’s cooler not knowing. :3

    ...Oh yeah, one more! I think Chaletwo should decide to become a pimp and stop caring about the War of the Legends! But then something would need to induce this change of heart. I wonder what it could be— *shot*
    Silverwing;249;: I don’t think anyone has ANY idea what you’re referencing.

    :3

    Well that’s everything, I think, and—

    Wait.

    I just realized—
    Whooaaaaaa.

    So all of our crazy plot speculation from 2005 might not even be relevant anymore? I can’t even wrap my head around that. xD It’s extremely cool somehow, though. But I shouldn’t be so surprised. I used to drop hints at my readers about all kinds of ridiculous plots from crappy old versions of my fic. Yeah, remember that silly Dark/Light Pokégods mess I told you about? Didn’t get rid of it until Revision 10. Dx

    But then…come to think of it, we were almost entirely theorizing on Chaletwo stuff (which of course got answered in Ch.25), since you forbade questions about the Destroyer way back when.
    Can’t wait. :)
    Ololololol

    ~Chibi~;249;;448;
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2011
  13. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    Sike Saner: Thanks for commenting! :3 I'm glad you liked the chapter, especially Chaletwo voicing his fears and Stantler. Hope you continue to like her in the future.

    Chibi Pika: Speculation! :D

    Amazingly, it wasn't actually intended that way. I've known it was a pretty stupid plan for ages, but suddenly now while I was writing this chapter I realized that everybody's been criticizing Chaletwo's plan for pretty much the entire latter half of the fic and his protests to it are really suspiciously defensive. Moreover, he's suspiciously self-deprecating, always reluctantly conceding that bits of it aren't that well thought-out, to the point that all of a sudden it dawned onto me that he's deep down been aware of the ludicrousness of his plan for years; he just kept telling himself it would work until he'd convinced himself he believed it. (Now that I've realized it, this conclusion seems downright obvious from all the chapters I wrote long before that.) I wouldn't have written that in if it hadn't suddenly occurred to me that the character really was aware of it.

    No killing required, though. I fully expected people to take it that way. :p

    Looking forward to it. :3

    I want to comment on your plot speculation but I can't. D: It is very entertaining, though!

    Well, unless the Destroyer were to have a physical anchor within the world through which the power would be channeled, similar to Chaletwo.

    Have I mentioned I love you?

    Yeah. There was a reason I didn't want questions about the Destroyer then, and that was "wait, hang on, I haven't quite figured this out yet." And then even when I thought I'd figured it out I actually hadn't.

    There are a lot of things I confidently asserted in the olden days of this thread that are actually just wrong. Even stuff from after I figured out the Destroyer, since there were still pieces being laid into place after that.

    Love that little trip down the memory lane, though. I actually want this fic to see its tenth anniversary before it's over; being able to say I've been working on my Pokémon fanfic for a decade is something that I find awesome, unlike normal people who would see that as proof that I have no life.
     
  14. Chibi Pika

    Chibi Pika Stay positive

    I am...

    So sorry...

    For what I am about to do to your thread...



    OH MY GOD WHY CANT I STOP LAUGHING

    [IMG139]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v607/ChibiPika/chaletwo.png[/IMG139]
    I'm sorry for spamming your fic I will go away now!


    ...
    (...This isn't actually spam...right? It is totally relevant!)

    ~Chibi~;249;;448;
     
  15. Agent Tectonic

    Agent Tectonic From Ashes, I Come

    Chibi, that has got to be the most awesome drawing I have seen. I absolutely love Chaletwo's drawing (pretty sure that is who that is).

    Anyway, so this isn't spam, allow me to comment:

    I have to say, your dedication Dragonfree to this fic is absolutely astounding as this is almost equal in professionalism to an actual book. If I saw this as a book at any store with that banner as the cover art, I would buy it in a heartbeat.

    Stantler's story was rather touching. I know somewhere in another chapter you mentioned that same kid (would love to know which one again as I do not remember). Also, May's attitude change is a nice breath of fresh air. Her rigid attitude was a unique touch to a character, but she was quickly becoming annoying as a character (not because of you). There were many times (too many to actually name any instances) that I would have loved to have knocked some decency into her if I only could.

    Can't wait to find out if Chaletwo's plan is going to work, and who ends up being the Destroyer. I have a really sick feeling that I know who the Destroyer is, but I would rather keep my thinking to myself.

    Lastly, may I be on the PM list.
     
  16. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    Ahahahahahahaha Chibi that is the best thing I have ever seen. Chaletwo's expression and the pimp cane with Chalenor's head on it and the expressions on the legendaries in the background and oh God. Can I like crosspost that to the Quest Blog? :D

    Septic Scepti1e: I'm... afraid I haven't mentioned that same kid in another chapter, actually, though that would have been pretty neat. Though I'd been planning Stantler's character for ages, I never actually knew anything about her old trainer until I was writing the chapter and May asked her about it; I ran through several possible responses and could tell that none of them were quite it until suddenly it hit me that he'd killed himself and that was why Stantler was so concerned about May. If I've made some mention of a trainer that could potentially have been him, that's one of those incidental things that come off as if I totally foreshadowed the thing I just made up.

    Anyway, thanks for reading and reviewing, and I'm glad you're enjoying May's development.


    Oh, I forgot to mention this in my last comment, but chapter 58 is almost done. I expect to put it up tonight or tomorrow, or this weekend at the absolute latest. STOP THE PRESSES DRAGONFREE WROTE SOMETHING IN LESS THAN A MONTH
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2011
  17. Chibi Pika

    Chibi Pika Stay positive

    Bwaha, glad you liked it. xD I was just at work and it occurred to me.... "*Gasp* I have to draw pimp Chaletwo." And then when I was drawing I realized that I wanted to incorporate the "stop caring about the War of the Legends" part, so obviously the war had to be going on behind him! :D

    And then I was getting ready to draw Legendaries and I realized that most of the official ones had been caught, so I ran off to read up on the Waraider herd and Color Dragons in Chapter 2. =P Emphire and Preciure's faces make me lol the most. xD

    And sure, you can post it to the Quest blog! =D

    ~Chibi~;249;;448;
     
  18. Agent Tectonic

    Agent Tectonic From Ashes, I Come

    That... is awkward. I swear I read that somewhere within the depths of this story (I am including your two short stories as well). I might just go back and read everything again since it has been awhile anyways (I must have been experiencing deja-vu without knowing).

    Speaking of short stories, I know it has been a LOOOOOOOOONG time since you wrote those, but I do have one question in regarding Shadowdart's tale. To me, challenging the leader of their group would be considered a "real" fight (can't remember your actual terminology for it [like I said, been awhile], so I one of the combatants failed to kill his/her opponent, then it was up to the defeated to do that himself or be banished from the clan. So my question is this, why didn't Shadowdart do that if he was so code oriented? Was that a plot hole, or was he being hyocritical?
     
  19. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    While Shadowdart believed in the Code, he wasn't all that fond of the whole irredeemability thing - he could never have lived with himself otherwise, what with having taken nine tries to catch his First Prey and all. Throughout the story he constructs several justifications for why he ought to get a second chance, which become more sophisticated as his moral ideology develops. At the beginning he reasons to Stormblade that the moral need for a new Leader is so great that it outweighs the wrongness of not killing himself after a failed attempt; then later he decides it was all a tactical maneuver and he never really meant to win, he was just using the Leader's own weakness against him by scouting out his techniques before going all-out against him and therefore it wasn't his weakness that made him lose so it's okay; then even later he decides the whole idea of suicide of guilt is self-defeating and everyone deserves a second chance if they realize their wrongdoing (unless they're cowards like Razor who run away, in which case they totally deserve to die); and then by the end he doesn't even care about being self-consistent and has just decided he is moral and right and everyone else can only be redeemed by death.

    Which is to say, he wasn't being hypocritical per se until towards the end, just choosing to interpret the Code in his own particular way that just happened to leave his actions in the right. Before you-know-what happened, he applied the Code to others the same way: he was willing to forgive Stormblade for breaking it in part four and taught the adolescents in part six that "the emphasis should not be on taking your own life if you aren’t worth it, but on making yourself worth it so that you won’t need to." Of course, at the end of part six that all went down the drain.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2011
  20. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    Aaaand here's chapter 58. Hope you enjoy it.



    Chapter 58: Sins of the Mother

    Letaligon materialized from her Pokéball in a burst of white light and looked quickly around the small Pokémon Center room before relaxing.

    “Are we in Green Town?” she asked.

    “Yeah,” Mark said. “We can go out to Ruxido in a moment, if you like.”

    She nodded. “Great.”

    Mark bit his lip. He’d hoped she would at least show some sign of wanting to discuss things, but it seemed she still just wanted to get out. He sighed and sat down on the bed. “Can we talk, just for a bit?”

    “I’m not changing my mind about leaving,” Letaligon said warily.

    “I’m not trying to make you change your mind.”

    Letaligon shifted, still on guard. “So what do you want?”

    Mark took a deep breath. He knew this was almost definitely pointless and not really any of his business, but he couldn’t simply let it alone without one final attempt. “Are you still sure you want to kill your dad?”

    “I have to,” Letaligon said insistently.

    “But you don’t,” Mark said. “You decided you had to, but you could just go and find another herd where you’ll never have to see him again.”

    “You don’t understand,” Letaligon responded without looking at him. “I have to. If I don’t kill him it’s all pointless – going with you, evolving, everything.”

    Mark sighed. He’d feared she’d say something like that, but all the same he’d clung on to the hope she could be persuaded, which was probably silly. Pokémon killed one another. They were a different culture. It was none of his business, and once she was gone she would go and do what she wanted to do with her life and he would move on. That was all.

    “It doesn’t have to be pointless,” he said anyway. “You’ve grown up. You’ve gotten strong. You’ve –”

    “Just let me go,” Letaligon said desperately. “It’s none of your business what I do when I’m out of your life.”

    That was it, then.

    Mark nodded and recalled her silently back into her Pokéball, then stood up to exit the room with a looming sense of dread hanging over his head.

    -------

    She was quiet as she walked between Mark and May on the way towards Ruxido, her head lower than usual, her steps heavier, and he couldn’t help noticing it, saddening as he realized that there was no way she would let him so much as ask her what she was thinking.

    Ever since catching her, ever since seeing her father reject her and hearing her agree to come with him so that she could be strong, Mark had wished he could help her – and at first he’d thought helping her just meant training her so that she’d evolve. But it had never been clearer to him than now that ultimately he hadn’t really helped her at all, and now, much as he hated to admit it, it was too late.

    When they reached the edge of the forest they stopped. Letaligon took a few steps forward, towards the trees, and then turned around to look at them; she seemed almost startled when Mark detached the six Pokéballs from his belt and dropped them, like it had never crossed her mind to say goodbye to the rest of his team, but she said nothing as the light faded away.

    Mark took a deep breath. “So this is goodbye,” he said awkwardly. It was weird, too weird; though he should have had more than enough time to get used to the idea he’d have to release one of his Pokémon, he still couldn’t get rid of the feeling that he’d failed her, that this wouldn’t be happening if he’d just done something better.

    Scyther was the first to really get to the point. “Good luck,” he said simply. “It’s been an honor fighting alongside you. Your father won’t know what hit him.”

    “Yeah, good luck,” May said with a slightly skewed smile. “You’re strong. You’ll be fine.”

    Letaligon shifted, looking between the two of them as if to respond, but still said nothing. Sandslash, Dragonite and Charizard were muttering their own goodbyes; she only nodded distractedly, glancing between Mark, May, Scyther and the forest, like she wasn’t sure what to say to them and just wanted to leave as soon as possible so she wouldn’t have to say anything at all.

    Jolteon was standing a little back, looking down; Mark had figured he’d take her leaving the hardest and now wished, with a twinge of guilt, that he’d had the presence of mind to talk to him about it first. “I’ll miss you,” Jolteon said in a small voice, still not meeting Letaligon’s eyes. “Thanks for... for being my friend.”

    He looked up at her at last; his eyes shone with tears as he stepped very carefully up to her and, after another moment of hesitation, rubbed his head gently against her leg. Again Letaligon seemed startled; she looked miserably down at Jolteon, shaking her head a little, and then said quietly, “Goodbye.”

    “Goodbye,” Jolteon said and took a step back, his ears drooping. Letaligon started to turn around, towards the entrance to the forest, and then abruptly looked at Mark.

    “Will you come with me?” she asked, her voice uncharacteristically pleading.

    “What?” Mark asked in confusion, hesitating. “And watch you...?”

    “No,” Letaligon said quickly. “Just until I’ve found them. For safety. Maybe they’ve... maybe they’ve moved.”

    It had the air of a hastily assembled excuse, but Mark didn’t care; if for the first time she actually wanted his company, he wasn’t going to turn his back on her. “Okay,” he said and nodded. “Until we find the Letaligon herd.”

    -------

    For the first time as far as Mark could remember, Letaligon seemed very nervous. She carried herself with a weird stiffness, glancing back and forth as they headed deeper into the forest, and he couldn’t help getting the feeling she was more wandering aimlessly than heading anywhere in particular. Regardless, he didn’t comment, just following silently along by her side, wondering what he could say to reassure her.

    “I hate him,” Letaligon said suddenly, her voice trembling, though it had regained the iron determination that had been so jarringly absent earlier. “You don’t know how much I hate him. You couldn’t understand. You keep saying I shouldn’t kill him but you don’t know anything.”

    Mark hesitated. “Maybe not,” he admitted.

    “He was a monster to my mother, not just me,” she went on, not looking at him. “You didn’t watch him, every day, treating her like...” She trailed off. “She was his mate. He should have loved her. But he didn’t. And she couldn’t leave him because he was the leader. The leader has a right to a mate.”

    Mark shuddered. It was dawning on him that he really hadn’t understood her situation very well. He’d somehow imagined she could just as well simply leave and avoid a confrontation to begin with, but if it was about her mother as well, it didn’t seem so simple. Part of him wondered why she hadn’t ever brought it up before, but come to think of it she’d never been very willing to talk about the reasons behind it to begin with.

    “You could still take your mother and leave the herd,” he suggested.

    “If I don’t kill him it’s all for nothing!” she insisted, and he shut up. They’d been through this part already.

    For a minute they walked on, Letaligon shifting a little more than usual. Then, without warning, she muttered, very quietly, “I don’t know if I can beat him.”

    Mark stared at her. “No, don’t think like that,” he said quickly. “You’re strong. You heard May and Scyther. You were in the League and you did brilliant. Pokémon in the wild almost never grow to those kinds of levels.”

    “He’s a Letaligon,” she pointed out, the softness of her voice somehow unnerving. “He’s been a Letaligon for years. I’ve only been one for a month.”

    “You evolved late, that’s all,” Mark said, but even then he started to wonder: if there was a herd of wild Letaligon, they had to be high-leveled, and the only way they could be so high-leveled in Ruxido, where most of the Pokémon weren’t that powerful, was if they regularly fought one another even far past the point where they could defend themselves against any local threat – so why would they stop training after they evolved? Their progress would be slow, but with years of time...

    “If I don’t win, he’s going to kill me,” she said, still not looking him in the eye.

    And it struck Mark, finally, finally, that maybe this wasn’t just a matter of whether she would become a murderer, but of whether she would be murdered.

    “Letaligon,” he said carefully, “if you’re having second thoughts, we can still go back –”

    “Shut up, Mark,” she snarled with a sudden ferocity, jerking her head back towards him. “All you ever want is to tell me I’m wrong.”

    She quickened her pace in the opposite direction, and he hastened to keep up with her. After a moment, she said, in a tone of forced conviction, “Shiny armor is heavy. I’ll be faster than him. And I beat a Letaligon at the League while I was still a Letal.”

    Mark was beginning to try to formulate some kind of a reply when she stopped abruptly, looking around. For a second she stood there, one leg forgotten in the air, all senses on high alert; then, just as suddenly, she straightened and let out a loud, hollow, metallic-sounding cry.

    There was silence, and then there was an answer, a similar cry from deeper within the forest. Letaligon listened to it, tensing, and hesitated for a long second before she made off in the direction of the sound.

    Mark sprinted unthinkingly after her, only barely keeping up as he tried to avoid the trees; thankfully, as they reached a clearing, Letaligon slowed back down to a halt, and he only just had time to catch his breath before noticing the other Letaligon that was approaching the other side of the clearing.

    “Mother,” whispered Letaligon, her gaze somehow distant.

    “Hope!” called the newcomer as she came into full view, her voice trembling with fearful disbelief. “You came back!”

    “Mother,” Letaligon said again, shakily, and took a few hesitant steps towards her, but she needed no more, because the other was already bounding across the clearing to meet her. She stopped only just before she would have physically crashed into her, and they crossed their necks and nuzzled gently at each other for a moment, their species’ equivalent of a hug; Letaligon closed her eyes, but her mother kept a wary eye on Mark.

    “That’s your trainer, isn’t it?” she asked softly as they stepped back from one another. “Has he been kind to you?”

    Letaligon nodded slightly and Mark felt a little warmer.

    Her mother nodded. “You’re leaving again, then?” she said, keeping her voice level, but Mark could see the worry in her eyes.

    “No,” Letaligon said quietly. “I only went to evolve. I’m back now.” She hesitated for a moment as her mother nuzzled her again. “Where’s... where’s Father?” she then asked.

    Her mother looked in her eyes, shaking her head slowly. “Vigor’s dead,” she said. “Your sister evolved and deposed him, months ago. She’s leader now.”

    Mark’s heart stung weirdly as Letaligon stared at her. “My father’s dead?” she repeated in incomprehension.

    The older Letaligon looked at her for a moment, eyes sorrowful, and then murmured, “Hope, he wasn’t your father.”

    Letaligon blinked, stiffening. “What do you mean?”

    “You aren’t shiny,” her mother said softly. “Didn’t it ever occur to you to wonder, as you grew up?”

    “But you said it could happen,” Letaligon insisted, sounding puzzled. “You said sometimes shiny Letaligon have –”

    “Do you remember my friend, Power?”

    Letaligon stared, stunned into silence.

    “You have his eyes,” her mother went on, her voice gentle and quiet.

    There was a long pause. “So...” Letaligon finally began, swallowing, “so all those times he refused to call me his daughter... he was right?”

    Her mother’s eyes widened at the anger in her voice and she took a horrified step back, shaking her head. “Of course it wasn’t right for him to treat you like that – but –”

    “Why?” Letaligon asked, her voice shaking as she raised it. “Why would you...”

    “It was a moment of weakness!” her mother said, pleadingly. “Please understand. I didn’t choose Vigor. He chose me and he’s the leader; I couldn’t say no. But I was Power’s mate before I was Vigor’s, and sometimes I just...”

    “You lied,” Letaligon said, trembling. “All that time, you said that... you said sometimes shinies have Leta that aren’t...”

    “They do,” her mother said. “Even shiny mothers can give birth to Leta that aren’t shiny, sometimes. But I had to lie; he would’ve killed us both if he’d known for sure, and you were just a Leta – you couldn’t have understood, then. Don’t you see?”

    For a long moment they looked at one another, Letaligon’s gaze staring and disbelieving, her mother’s sad and concerned.

    “Hope,” the older Letaligon murmured, “please come home. I’m sorry for how you feel, but I did it for you, because I love you. Vigor is gone and we can’t change it, but Power will be a better father to you than he ever was.”

    There was a moment where Letaligon looked miserably at her mother, and then something just died in her eyes; the fire that had driven her for as long as he’d known her faded into a dull emptiness. Mark’s heart wrenched and he wanted to call out to her, say something, help her somehow this last time he had the chance to, but any words he could begin to formulate got stuck in his throat; he didn’t feel like he could interfere in their conversation.

    “Mom,” Letaligon finally whispered, her voice wavering, and then she just hung her head, making strange strangled noises that it took Mark a second to recognize as sobs.

    “Hope, it’s not that bad,” her mother began cautiously, her voice betraying her confusion; she had no idea what was actually wrong, and it hit Mark that Letaligon would never tell her, or tell anyone; he really was the last person who could offer her any kind of understanding.

    “Letaligon,” he found the strength to say, but she didn’t look up. He approached her slowly, and after a moment of alarm, her mother backed away from her, still keeping a cautious eye on him.

    “Letaligon,” he said again, quietly, as he placed a careful hand on her neck, remembering his conversations with Scyther, “life is what you make of it. When things don’t work out like you thought they would, you can find a new purpose. You’re safe, your mother’s safe, and your father can’t hurt you anymore – you can put it all behind you now, if you just let yourself.”

    “Just leave me alone,” she said, her voice still shaking. It stung, even after all this, but Mark forced himself to nod and step away.

    Letaligon’s mother glanced anxiously at him before turning to address her daughter again. “Come with me,” she said gently. “You’ll feel better tomorrow.”

    Letaligon nodded vaguely without looking at her, and as her mother turned to walk back in the direction she had come from, she followed behind her, head low.

    Mark was frozen for a moment before he realized that this was truly it. “Goodbye, Letaligon,” he called belatedly after her, unable to think of anything better to say. “Try to be happy –” – and suddenly his voice broke on the last word, because in a sweeping moment it hit him hard that she probably wouldn’t listen to him, any more than she had ever wanted to listen to him, and she really might spend the rest of her life not even trying to find her drive again.

    As he cut off, she turned her head around, looking at him, and for a moment her expression turned to sorrow and confusion as she hesitated –

    – but then her mother noticed her stopping, her eyes hardened again, and she turned away to follow the older Letaligon into the forest, disappearing between the trees.

    Mark waited a few seconds, just in case she changed her mind and came back, before he turned back in the direction he hoped led to Green Town.

    He wasn’t sure what, but something in that final look she had given him had given him a shimmer of hope that maybe she would take his last piece of advice to heart after all.
     

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