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Pokémon Basic Mineral Components

OldschoolJohto

Never not editing
Pronouns
She/Her
Partner
solrock
Summary: He waits a full sun cycle, but his human does not move. (One-shot.)

Rating: PG (Includes a curse word. Deals with death, grief, and decomposition.)




Basic Mineral Components

For a full sun cycle, Alphonse has sat within his human's reach, where his indentation has worn into the carpet. He does not move. Neither does she. She has been much slower lately than before, but Alphonse does not mind their new pace of life. After all, she always waited for him to catch up when she was so much quicker. One sun cycle is hardly a long time for him to wait. Still, he has never seen her remain so still for so long. Gradually, he begins to worry.

This is their routine: at first sunlight, she opens her eyes and puts her hand to his capstone, fingertips slipping into the groove worn smooth from repeated touch. She sometimes describes to him what she calls her dreams (he never understands these accounts but listens patiently all the same), and other times she only groans as she moves her body one piece at a time. After a while, she pushes to her feet, leaning against him, and together they shuffle across the floor. When she is close enough to grab her metal exoskeleton, she lowers herself into it. Then they take their daily tour of the cave, his human rolling on wheels and Alphonse hovering alongside her.

Perhaps they will do this every other sun cycle now. He will follow her lead—he has no reason to hurry.

Alphonse does not need to eat every day, but she likes when they eat together. He consumes a portion of the scrap metal or rock that is delivered once every seven sun cycles. (He never eats the toaster—that only happened once, and he'd been very sorry.) His human eats yogurt and fruit from a plastic cup. When she's finished, she lets him move her metal spoon to the sink. He can't actually wash it—he can't lift the soap bottle—but he can twist the knobs to make water come out and then twist them again to make it stop. Then she says, "I just don't know what I'd do without you, Alphonse," and he's pleased.

Sometimes she sits in front of her picture box and taps her fingers—chatting with her friends, she calls it. Alphonse cannot pass near the picture box without disrupting the display, so he is always relieved when she closes it up. Sometimes her friends visit their cave instead, bringing flowers, food, and books. For many sun cycles, she has not asked him to battle the humans that visit, but he's always alert for a command, just in case.

Invariably, she spends the largest portion of each sun cycle reading in the wicker chair overlooking the back garden. Before she began using the exoskeleton, she tended the flowers herself, calling Alphonse over to smell the hydrangeas or to help her rearrange the path stones. Now another human comes to water and prune the plants, pausing to wave at Alphonse and his human.

She reads aloud to Alphonse—she likes mineralogy, and so does he. If she comes across a photo, she turns the books so he can see and says, "This one is almost as handsome as you." He doesn't understand why she chuckles each time, but he likes that it's something he can predict. When she inevitably falls asleep, he keeps a watchful eye on the tailow and pidgey that flit around the feeder. They never come close, but he is ready if they do.

When she is too tired to wheel herself, she instead asks Alphonse to push her where she directs. She always apologizes for troubling him, which makes no sense. Her exoskeleton is magnetic—easy for him to move—and she weighs nothing.

She has always been delicate, his poor human—even at her best, she could create no light screens to protect herself and could only lift the smallest stones—but now she has shrunken and become as lightweight as pumice. He knows why. Humans are one of the strange sorts who carry their minerals on the inside, a layer of pulpy stuff covering the rock underneath. It's strange rock, but rock nevertheless. Her rock, already porous to begin with, is hollowing out ever-faster—he can detect it with his electromagnetic waves when he's at her side.

The erosion itself doesn't surprise him. It will happen to him someday, too. His magnetic holding force will derate bit by bit until, at last, he no longer has the strength to draw in the minerals to repair his body. Then he will begin to wear away. One day, every speck of him will be absorbed into the body of another probopass, and the cycle will continue. What surprises him is how quickly his human is eroding—and despite her protective outer layer.

She has slowed down, but she still does everything too fast.

One morning, between waking and rising, she addressed him in a soft voice. "Do you remember the camerupt at Stark Mountain?"

Alphonse hummed, filings bristling. Of course he remembered. She's always saying lately that her memory isn't what it used to be, calling him her external hard drive. He hasn't sorted out the complete significance of this new nickname yet, but he understands that she means he forgets nothing, which is true.

"That was a long time ago ..."

He disagreed but didn't argue.

She lifted her hand, and he raised a satellite to meet her, nuzzling its nose into her palm. Her hands have always been his favorite thing about her—so spindly yet deft, always moving. They have become knobbly and shaky, but she still manages to pick bits of lint or a loose paper clip off his satellites, which he has no way to do himself.

"I still feel terrible about the one we lost," she said, pulling his satellite into her arms.

With a grating sound, he drew his remaining two satellites closer. He remembered ... but he did not like to.

Losing a satellite happened from time to time when they had battled often—a solar flare or a powerful opponent could destabilize his holding force enough for him to drop a satellite he'd sent too far away. Sometimes he'd found them again and pulled them back into his orbit. Other times they'd simply been lost. It was an inconvenience, but he always assembled a new one with time. The lost satellite would roll downhill until it came to a dark, safe place where it would eventually grow into a nosepass. The cycle continued.

But at Stark Mountain, there had been no safe, dark place—the very rock had glowed red, the floor sloping to pools of spuming lava. The camerupt had made the walls tremble until rock crumbled from the ceiling. When Alphonse had risen to shield his human, a boulder had knocked his satellite into the lava pit—where it had been instantly atomized. Not lost: gone.

His human said, "This time I have a chance to warn you first. I'll be gone one day, too, Alphonse. Eventually, I will ... not be able to be repaired." She paused to rub at a scratch on the satellite's surface, seeming not to want to look at him. "You'll have to go on without me. What do you want to do when that happens? We have to decide, so I can add it to my will."

Alphonse waited for more, as he always did when she said something he didn't understand.

"Do you want to return to Granite Cave? Do you want to fight for a new trainer?"

Alphonse turned his body from side to side, a gesture he'd learned from her. He did not want to go.

When she'd left the gym, the others had made those kinds of choices. In addition to the satellites she'd assembled from her own body, she used to have many pokemon in her orbit. It's the one way he has to acknowledge humans are more powerful: he can hold no more than three satellites long-term, but she could at one point hold more than twice that many, despite her negligible magnetic field, and send them as far away as she liked. Her human satellites can vanish for many sun cycles and still return again and again. They have adopted Gloria, the golem, who returns with them now when they visit once every seven sun cycles. He supposes adopting satellites of their own means her satellites are fully grown now, though it's difficult for Alphonse to tell when it comes to humans. His human has lost her holding strength, and she sent away all of her satellites at once. Now there is only Alphonse.

For many turnings and many fluctuations of the magnetic poles, long before he knew what a sun cycle was, he'd had no name. He'd been himself, and that had been enough. She had given him the name Alphonse. He had accepted it, puzzled but amused. She has a name for humans to call her, too. He recognizes the name when he hears it, listening for danger or malice in the speaker's voice, but he has never used it. But after many turnings spent with her, he has invented his own nickname for her. He turns toward her, and she guides him forward: she is North.

No, he would not go. Why would he leave if she was here? She was North, and he would keep his face to her. If her holding force was failing and she could no longer hold him, then so be it. As best as he could, he would hold her instead.

His human smiled and finally met his eyes. "It doesn't have to be now. I wanted you to start thinking about it ... but we can decide later." She squeezed his satellite one more time and then released it, leaving it to drift back to his side. "Well, I can't stay in bed all day. Here we go, Alphonse. Slow and steady."

Every other sun cycle, a wigglytuff and a human called Melissa come to prepare meals, polish Alphonse, and clean the cave. At the beginning of each visit, Melissa takes measurements and administers minerals to his human, and Alphonse watches her closely. At so much as a moan or a sigh from his North, Alphonse snatches Melissa's tools out of her hands and pulls them to his body until his human gently tells him to let go.

When Alphonse hears Melissa at the door, North has not stirred in one and a quarter sun cycles, and he doesn't know what to do. Opening the door for Melissa is his job, but he doesn't like to leave his human unattended when she is behaving so peculiarly. Humming, he considers. Finally, he brings one of his satellites up to nudge his human's shoulder, wanting her to tell him what to do. She still doesn't move.

Melissa knocks again.

Satellites whirring around him, Alphonse lets out a grinding sound. Finally, he turns and glides for the front door, leaving one satellite behind with his human. He's made it no further than halfway down the hallway when he hears the satellite crash to the floor, too far outside his radius to continue levitating. He hesitates again, coming to a complete stop in the hallway—until Melissa knocks a third time, spurring him on.

Even thrumming with anxiety, Alphonse knows to untwist the two locks before trying to turn the knob. For a glimmering moment, he remembers to feel proud he can do this for his human. Her hands are more precise than his magnetism, but she can't reach the locks when she's sitting in her exoskeleton.

"Hi, Alphonse," says Melissa when the door swings open. She does not pat his capstone as she sometimes does—her arms are loaded with grocery bags. "You had me worried for a minute there."

The wigglytuff waddles behind her with another bag and a self-satisfied look on its face.

Alphonse wants to follow her, to make her check on his human right away, but he has to close the door behind them first. He never forgets to close the door. When he spins around again, Melissa is putting down some of the grocery bags. He tries to yank the bag from her hand with a pulse of energy, but there's nothing metal in it for him to pull.

Melissa speaks without looking at him, unpacking the bags. "Where's Ms. Roxanne? Outside already?"

He butts a satellite against the bag in her hand, and she swivels out of its way.

"Thank you, Alphonse, but I don't need your help. Waffle and I have it under control."

She opens the refrigerator to load in the yogurt cups his human likes. Before she can reach in, Alphonse pushes against the metal handle and slams it shut. Melissa whirls around to glare at him. "Alphonse, I have to get these into the fridge."

He hums his disapproval.

"What's gotten into you?" she whines, pushing away one of his satellites. "Go sit with your trainer."

He nudges her with all three satellites now, trying to move her towards his human. When she pushes one away from her legs, he bobbles another up between her shoulder blades. The wigglytuff puffs itself up and momentarily swats down one of the satellites, but Alphonse doesn't stop. The air vibrates with his humming.

Melissa cups her hands around her mouth. "Ms. Roxanne? Can you call Alphonse?" She waits then tries again. "Ms. Roxanne?"

Grumbling, she ignores his efforts to push her in the opposite direction and moves instead towards the back door. He trails along behind her, humming and keening.

"Ms. Roxanne?" Melissa stares first at the empty wicker chair and then the empty garden. Then she looks at him. "Okay, Alphonse, where is she? Did something happen?"

Finally, she follows Alphonse down the hallway to the chamber where his human lies in her nest, pale and unmoving. Melissa gasps and stops in the doorway. "Oh no ..."

Alphonse nudges her forward, and she moves to sit in the nest beside his human. The wigglytuff toddles to her side, shaping a bubble of pink light between its paws. But Melissa waves him away, saying, "That's a nice thought, Waffle, honey, but I don't think it'll help."

He watches Melissa take his human's hand in hers, then touch her neck, and then lean down over her face as if listening to a secret. After a while, she sits up, looks at her watch, and says, "Time of death is 10:23 A.M."

Alphonse does not understand, so he waits.

Melissa comes back and crouches to meet Alphonse's gaze. "I'm sorry, Alphonse. She's gone."

This is nonsense. His human is obviously lying right in front of them—she's not gone at all. But he can sense Melissa's distress, so he does not argue with her yet.

She remains crouched for a few moments and then begins to fidget. At last, she stands straight again and pats his capstone. "Poor guy. I can never tell how much you understand." With a sigh, she says, "I guess I should try to find your pokeball ... I have to make some phone calls first, though. You can come and sit with me if you don't want to be alone, okay?"

He lingers near North a little longer, spinning his satellites in place as he watches her. She really is very still. If he couldn't also feel the terrible softness under her surface, he could almost mistake her for a creature of stone. There's a new smell around her, but he doesn't know what this one means. It's not a fear-smell like sweat or a sadness-smell like salt water. Maybe an injury, a blood-smell, but not quite that either. Melissa didn't comment—maybe it's just a human thing. He hates to leave his human alone, but he finally hovers down the hall to join Melissa—she's responsible for his human's maintenance, and he wants to know what she'll do.

Melissa sits at the table where North normally eats her yogurt. While the wigglytuff finishes putting away the groceries, Melissa talks into a stone. Alphonse decides it's not a satellite, even though it's abuzz with electromagnetic waves, because when she eventually sighs and lays it on the table, it doesn't move again. He's never sure with humans.

She turns and frowns at him. "I sure hope one of the kids takes you. Doesn't seem right to dump a pokemon like you onto the market like a used car. You really did take good care of her."

Yet again, she sighs. She's been doing that a lot. "They said they'll meet us at the funeral home, so I guess we'll figure it out then. It really is a shame, though. They should be here. I suppose they're doing their best—not easy getting here from Rustboro in the middle of the workday."

When he doesn't respond, she stands up and announces, "Well, it's time to take care of Ms. Roxanne."

She carefully cleans his human, lays her arms at her sides, and slides a sheet under her. The wigglytuff passes her supplies. Alphonse is puzzled but doesn't see the harm in this activity, so he watches. When Melissa is done, she moves down the hall and talks to her stone again.

"Someone from Peaceful Passage is on the way," she tells Alphonse when he hovers near and hums a query. "I'd better collect all the paperwork. And your pokeball."

Alphonse trails behind as she moves around the cave, gathering pieces of paper and handing them to the wigglytuff. Then, hissing and muttering under her breath, she begins opening and closing drawers and cabinets. She starts near his human's nest, but she does not return to North to administer the usual minerals or poke and prod with her tools. This is not part of the routine at all. He floats a satellite next to Melissa, trying to see around her, and she nearly catches its nose in the cabinet door when she bangs it shut. "Sorry, Alphonse. Do you know where Ms. Roxanne kept your pokeball?"

He turns his face from side to side. It's been many sun cycles since he saw the plastic ball, and he's grateful. He needs to stay out here so he knows what's happening.

Melissa sighs and continues her search. Alphonse watches her for a while, then checks on North, and then returns to watching Melissa.

He's with his human again when he hears the knock at the door. This time he doesn't hesitate—but when he arrives, Melissa is already opening the door without him. He hums his displeasure and then hums louder when an unfamiliar human male steps into the doorway.

"Morning, ma'am. My name is Darren—with Peaceful Passage. Are you all ready for us, or do you need a few minutes?"

Ignoring Alphonse's satellite vibrating against her back, Melissa answers, "Everything is ready for you. Thank you."

Alphonse's hum becomes a high-pitched whine.

The male glances down and catches sight of Alphonse, pressing up behind Melissa with his satellites jangling against the coat rack and key hooks. "That's not your probopass, is it?"

"No, he belongs to the deceased." She gestures for Alphonse to bring his satellites down. "The wigglytuff is hospital dispatch though."

"That's what I thought. You'll have to recall it, I'm afraid." The male points, not at the wigglytuff, the guest, but at Alphonse.

"I know, but I couldn't find his pokeball." Melissa casts a look over her shoulder at Alphonse and adds pleadingly, "He's very well-behaved though."

"I'm not crazy about—"

"Alphonse, it's okay. Go sit in the kitchen."

The wigglytuff inflates its chest and narrows its eyes at Alphonse, which he ignores.

"Go on, Alphonse."

Out of habit more than anything else, Alphonse complies.

The man leaves and then returns a few moments later with a medicham. Between them, they roll a cart, like North's exoskeleton except larger and flatter. As the cart rattles down the hallway to his human's chamber, the medicham turns to shoot Alphonse a meaningful look, eyes rimmed with purple fire. Melissa and the wigglytuff follow the male and the medicham. Then Alphonse rises up and glides down the hallway after them.

When Alphonse comes to the entrance of his human's chamber, the male is sliding his hands under North and lifting her. Alphonse freezes and his filings prickle with a burst of static. The only thing that stops him from barreling into the chamber is the sight of Melissa standing calmly with her hands folded in front of her.

She catches his eye. "It's okay, Alphonse. No one is hurting her. We're taking her to a place where her family can see her one more time."

The white glow around North tells him that the medicham is helping its human with the lifting. Alphonse whirs in consternation at the thought of another pokemon touching his human. He doesn't like how they smell—something strong and chemical that's meant to hide other smells.

The male lays North gently on top of the cart. "Can you help keep the probopass out of the way?" he says to Melissa. "The hallway isn't big enough for both of us."

"Of course." She moves to lay a hand on Alphonse's side—he's levitating high enough that she doesn't have to bend down to touch him. "Alphonse, let's go back to the kitchen, buddy."

But then the male is drawing dark fabric over North's body. With a stab of alarm, Alphonse remembers his satellite disappearing under the surface of a pool of fire. Gone, Melissa said—but Alphonse won't let that happen.

"I said let's go to the kitchen, Alphonse." Her voice is far away.

As the fabric closes over his human's face, Alphonse shoves Melissa aside and hurtles into the room.

But the medicham is ready for him, catching Alphonse with an open-palm smack that sends him spinning across the room. He crashes into a shelf. North's books and trophies tumble down, thumping and clanking against Alphonse as they fall. The medicham glowers down at him, daring him with its eyes to get back up.

He's not hurt, but he whines and turns toward North, ignoring Melissa's screams and the male's growls. If his human is upset about the books, she gives no indication. For a moment, he waits for her command. He would stop if she ordered him to. But she doesn't order it, so he doesn't stop.

As Alphonse rises, the remainder of the bookshelf splinters around him. The medicham sways towards him, fire cracking from between its fingers.

"Serenity, no! Not inside the house—!"

Alphonse knows he's the slower one, but he knows he can take a punch—he doesn't waste his time trying to avoid its fists. Instead, he sends his satellites buzzing around the medicham's head and—while it's busy striking them down—gathers a charge, pulling static to him from the carpet, from Melissa's hair, from North's fabric nest.

"Hang on, hang on! Just give me a chance to—!"

"Force palm!"

When the medicham slides through a gap between the satellites and drives a fist into Alphonse's face, he releases the charge. The medicham staggers, limbs jerking. Alphonse's ears are ringing from the blow, but the pause is all he needs—he reaches out for the metal frame that holds his human and yanks it from the male's grasp.

"Shit!"

Alphonse pulls the cart to himself, pausing only long enough to raise two satellites to block an incoming blow.

"I've got earbuds! Get ready, Waffle!"

Alphonse pivots and then swerves into the hallway, shoving the cart with his human out ahead of him. He'll figure out how to release her later, but first—

The sound in the room goes liquid. He can't even hear the vibrations of his own satellites. Something smells … pink? Without meaning to, he slows. The carpet seems to ripple under him. For a moment, Alphonse can't tell which direction is up. He smashes his satellites into the ceiling—no, the floor—and he careens into the wall, lodging there.

Grating with the effort, he turns and sees the wigglytuff framed in the doorway. Its mouth is moving, but the sound oozes away from him. Alphonse knows he needs to lift himself, to move, to get his human somewhere safe. But he can't move. Then all he can think about it is a cavern deep beneath the earth, the cool stillness, and he sinks into the darkness ...

"—even the best-trained pokemon can behave erratically when upset."

"Again, I'm so sorry. I really didn't think he'd do that."


A door shuts.

Alphonse begins to stir. He realizes first that he doesn't know where North is, then that he's still embedded in a probopass-shaped crater in the wall. He rips free from the drywall and wheels toward the front door.

The wigglytuff waits in the open doorway, squeaking in surprise at Alphonse's approach. It puffs up and opens its mouth—Alphonse fires an ion beam from his satellites, and the wigglytuff falls limp. Without pause, he jets past it out the door.

Outside, there is a white van. The one that takes North for repairs when her internal rock is damaged is smaller and silver, and she never goes in with her head covered. She never goes without telling Alphonse. The male and the medicham stand to one side of the rear door, Melissa to the other. He does not see North—she must be inside.

He does not know where or why they are taking his human, but he knows it's not right.

"Alphonse! Wait!" Melissa cries. She has betrayed his human, but she poses no immediate threat.

He turns instead to face the medicham, already sidling towards him. "Knock it out, Serenity," says the male, and the medicham breaks into a run. Its movements are twitchy and faltering, but it's still faster than Alphonse. The medicham is already on him, pummeling him with fists of flame, while Alphonse strains—

With a crunch and a burst of alarms, the van door tears loose. Alphonse brings it smashing sidelong into the medicham, sweeping its legs out from under it. He lets his satellites drop, instead holding the car door between himself and the medicham and reaching for North.

The male dives in front of the cart, but he can't stop Alphonse from pulling it up and out, bowling the male over with it. The medicham shrieks and turns to look, giving Alphonse an opening to shove it to the ground, smashing the van door on top. Melissa makes a grab for the cart handles, but not fast enough. Alphonse yanks it out from under her, leaving her stumbling.

Pulling the cart close to him, Alphonse hums his concern and confusion to North, still somewhere inside the fabric. He brings up his satellites to shield her, keeping his body near what he assumes is her head. But now that he has her, he's not sure what to do. He wishes she would tell him what to do—she's so smart, so good at seeing solutions he can't.

The male is sitting up, gripping his head, and the medicham throws off the car door. So Alphonse shoves the cart forward. When he comes to the curb he has to lift to get them over it, but it's not difficult. And then they're on the road, wheels clattering—moving away from their cozy cave, away from the cacophony of the car alarm, away from the traitorous humans.

By instinct, he moves west towards the mountains. He glides along the road, ignoring the blare of horns. Cars either screech to a stop and allow him to pass or he shoves them back. He does not stop, not even when a vehicle flashing lights pulls alongside him, sirens screaming. The side mirror clips his satellite, knocking it out of sight and out of reach.

A second vehicle skids across his path, and a human male and a mightyena jump out. Alphonse does not stop. He pulls the metal frame tight to him and pulses out energy, launching himself up and over. A shadow whips across him, and he feels another satellite fall away. But when the cart wheels hit the ground on the other side of the vehicle, Alphonse keeps hurtling forward.

When he comes to a road where the burnt rubber smell and traffic are too riotous even for him, he wrenches the cart off the road, crashing through the underbrush. Weeds eventually snare the wheels, so he draws the cart up with him, whining at the strain. But he pushes on and on, towards the smells of granite and limestone, until at last there is solid rock underneath him. With a final thrust of energy, Alphonse shoves his way up and over a slope and stops to rest in a natural bowl sheltered by boulders. Traffic rumbles somewhere under the mountain, but it's far away. He notices then that his last satellite is gone, but it doesn't matter. His North is with him, and all is quiet.

He sits for a time, regaining his strength. Again, he waits for his human to offer insight or issue a command. She does not. He's a little disappointed, but he pushes ahead, sniffing for wet earth.

Among the rocky crags, he eventually finds an opening big enough to squeeze through with the cart: a tunnel that opens into a cavern. As an extra precaution, he collapses the opening behind them. Then there is only Alphonse, the dark cavern, and North.

He manages to pull open the fabric—the fastener is metal—but can't sort out how to get her out. In his effort, he upends the cart, scattering dirt. He keens for a while, hovering in place. Unbelievably, she still says nothing and does not move. Surely now she ought to thank him for keeping her safe and tell him what he should do next. He waits.

After a while, he realizes her magnetic force is too low—she will not stir again with any amount of waiting. He reflects on all the things she must be thinking and cannot say. She won't chuckle again or touch the spot on his capstone that perfectly fits her fingers. At this realization, he sinks to the floor and does not move for a long time. He finally decides that it's good that she can trust him to protect her when she is so vulnerable, so near the end. He can see that she's there, and she's not upset. That's enough.

There are no more sun cycles, only the earth's slow turning. Alphonse is in no hurry.

He feels naked with no satellites, but he thinks perhaps this is best for now. He understands North better than anyone else would this way—when he loses his holding force, when he no longer has the strength even to levitate, he imagines he will seem much as she does now: inert, helpless. He is glad she does not have to be alone while she waits to erode. She wouldn't like that.

First he eats the cart and then begins to leach the minerals he needs from the surrounding rock. Eventually, the fabric that covers North wears away, and he can see her better. Then her soft outer layers wear away, exposing her true self. The color surprises him—not blue but whitish. One more of her oddities. For a while, there are many interesting smells. Occasionally, a sableye skitters down the wall to investigate, and Alphonse drives it away. Mostly, Alphonse sits and remembers, and he imagines she does the same.

Eventually, even North's rock begins to break down. Her rock is structured so strangely—he could never lift or reshape it like other rock—but the basic mineral components are the same. He could pull those into his body now, he realizes, and build new satellites. For a long time, he does not. He circles the rock fragments, moves away, and returns over and over. If he consumes her rock, she will disintegrate faster, and then she will at last be gone. Forever.

But he promised himself he would hold her as long as he could.

So, he begins to create new satellites, speckled with white. He remembers her sudden laughter, her insight, and her trust—he hopes he can hold those things in the structure he builds. As long as he lives, so will she.

And the cycle continues.


---​




Notes: I was inspired by the short story "The Stone" by Louise Erdrich, which appeared in The New Yorker in September 2018. This story picks up where that one leaves off ... sort of. Plus or minus a few pokemon.
 
Last edited:

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Location
*aurorus noise*
Partner
glalie
Okay, the instant I saw "güd rock" in the updates I thought oh, a nose creature, then. And lo and behold, that's exactly what we got!

Alphonse is a big sweetie, instantly lovable. (The name he gave Roxanne was so precious I can't even. ;A;) And I also love the attention paid to his magnetic abilities and all the things he can do with them--it's just all so cool, dangit. I want a nosefriend around the house, too.

I'm not a stickler for whether or not non-human perspectives avoid seeming human at any point--soft xenofic is just as valid as hard, as is everything in between. But I'll always think it's a very particular sort of cool whenever it's clear throughout the story that this is not a human POV, as was the case here.

I guessed his human was Roxanne around the mention of the gym and was happy to find I was right. It's interesting to see post-career life for major characters in general, and what a life it seems to have been in this case! It gets me wondering about where all they've been. When Alphonse evolved. What brought them to Sinnoh. A story that buds off what-ifs in my head is a story that sticks with me. I love it.

The whole thing is just so sweet and so sad. The fact that he didn't quite understand what had happened to Roxanne is heartbreaking in its own, different way as compared to how it might have been if he'd cottoned on and broken down immediately. It's a type of dramatic irony, I think, the way he carried on for a while believing that Roxanne was less far gone than she actually was. It's really effective.

The final scenes are this curious mix of macabre and sweet; I don't think I've quite seen the like anywhere else. Ordinarily the notion of someone stealing a corpse and running off to a cave to watch said corpse, uh, "erode" over time would just be creepy and gross, but the context gave it this genuinely serene vibe, such that I didn't really dwell on the messy reality of it (even at the mention of the smells involved!) but rather on the way Alphonse comes to terms with Roxanne's departure by couching what he's seeing in terms he understands, in the way it all comes down to the minerals and their endless repurposing. He really was faithful to the end and beyond, what with the way he repurposed her "stone". Güd rock, indeed.

I haven't felt much like reading at all lately, and I'm not sure when I will again, so it's saying something--even given the fact that it features one of my all-time favorite evolutionary lines!--that I was motivated at first glance to read this and comment on it straightaway. This has a been a lovely read, both heartbreaking and heartwarming. I love it. Thanks for sharing it with us!
 

OldschoolJohto

Never not editing
Pronouns
She/Her
Partner
solrock
@Sike Saner, thanks so much for the kind words! I'm really glad you enjoyed it.

I honestly didn't even like probopass before I wrote this but, oops, now I do. I definitely don't think nose/probopass first when I think rockfren. I've definitely also got a solrock/lunatone one-shot in me that I'm excited to explore, hopefully soon.

And I also love the attention paid to his magnetic abilities and all the things he can do with them--it's just all so cool, dangit. I want a nosefriend around the house, too.
I fudged it a little--I figure he's metal bending more than he's strictly magnetic but ... all pokemon science is fake science so. And yes! It occured to me while I was writing that, huh, a nosefriend would actually be an especially good geriatric companion. Very patient, doesn't care a lot if you forget to feed it, can help you get rid of unwanted toasters.

But I'll always think it's a very particular sort of cool whenever it's clear throughout the story that this is not a human POV
Same. It is a tricky tricky to keep it balanced between alien enough without becoming unintelligible. I thought pretty carefully about which words he would've picked up from Roxanne and which he wouldn't.

It's interesting to see post-career life for major characters in general, and what a life it seems to have been in this case! It gets me wondering about where all they've been. When Alphonse evolved. What brought them to Sinnoh. A story that buds off what-ifs in my head is a story that sticks with me.
The joys of fic--it's endlessly iterative! Somebody could totally come behind me and write Roxanne and Alphonse's Sinnohan adventures or the tale of the dumbshit trainer who finds Alphonse in the wild 15 years later and gets his shit mixed.

Thanks for taking the time not only to read but also to leave a thoughtful response. ❤
 

Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
This is a beautiful little story. From the very first, it's clear to a reader that Roxanne is dead. But it's not clear to Alphonse, and that gap in understanding makes for a lovely, strangely sweet exploration of loss and grief. The story really shines in Alphonse's attempts at understanding his human and him eventually fitting her death into a framework he can understand--the life cycle of rocks, who never truly end.

It was a bit of a hard fic for me to read, honestly, because I have two people in my life who are getting very close to where Roxanne is. All the details about someone towards the end of their life, as they lose their independence and need more done for them, rang very true.

She has been much slower lately than before, but Alphonse does not mind their new pace of life.
Perhaps they will do this every other sun cycle now. He will follow her lead—he has no reason to hurry.
These lines establish Alphonse's nature so well from the outset--his love, his patience, his continual desire to meet his human where she is at.

When she is close enough to grab her metal exoskeleton, she lowers herself into it.
I really like how everyday objects are filtered through Alphonse's worldview.

(He never eats the toaster—that only happened once, and he'd been very sorry.)
What a gud rock indeed.

Before she began using the exoskeleton, she tended the flowers herself, calling Alphonse over to smell the hydrangeas or to help her rearrange the path stones. Now another human comes to water and prune the plants, pausing to wave at Alphonse and his human.
These details that show the trajectory of her aging are very real and more impactful for being presented without comment in Alphonse's thoughts.

He doesn't understand why she chuckles each time, but he likes that it's something he can predict.
D'awww.

She has always been delicate, his poor human—even at her best, she could create no light screens to protect herself and could only lift the smallest stones—but now she has shrunken and become as lightweight as pumice.
I like this rock simile a lot.

She has slowed down, but she still does everything too fast.
Oof, yep. That's a feeling I have a lot with my grandmother. There's slowness in the sense of movement and mental activity, but decline seems to be horribly quick.

She's always saying lately that her memory isn't what it used to be, calling him her external hard drive. He hasn't sorted out the complete significance of this new nickname yet, but he understands that she means he forgets nothing, which is true.
So sweet.

"That was a long time ago ..."
He remembered ... but he did not like to.
I wouldn't mention it but for our long discussion of ellipses--I thought it had been agreed that " . . . " was the proper form?

"This time I have a chance to warn you first. I'll be gone one day, too, Alphonse. Eventually, I will ... not be able to be repaired." She paused to rub at a scratch on the satellite's surface, seeming not to want to look at him. "You'll have to go on without me. What do you want to do when that happens? We have to decide, so I can add it to my will."
I really appreciate how Roxanne is taking the time to have this conversation and to try to frame it in terms she thinks he might understand. In this fic, we mostly see Alphonse's love and care for Roxanne, but this scene shows that she loved and cared for him just as much.

He turns toward her, and she guides him forward: she is North.
Love that.

The wigglytuff toddles to her side, shaping a bubble of pink light between its paws. But Melissa waves him away, saying, "That's a nice thought, Waffle, honey, but I don't think it'll help."
Interesting how the wigglytuff, who must have more experience with this, also doesn't immediately understand the death.

But then the male is drawing dark fabric over North's body. With a stab of alarm, Alphonse remembers his satellite disappearing under the surface of a pool of fire. Gone, Melissa said—but Alphonse won't let that happen.
Ah, I like how you connected this.

For a moment, he waits for her command. He would stop if she ordered him to. But she doesn't order it, so he doesn't stop.
Each reminder that Alphonse doesn't really get that she's gone yet stabs.

"I've got earbuds! Get ready, Waffle!"
This makes a lot of sense! Nice detail.

The side mirror clips his satellite, knocking it out of sight and out of reach.
He notices then that his last satellite is gone, but it doesn't matter. His North is with him, and all is quiet.
The way you integrate the loss of the satellites one by one throughout this car chase scene really makes it feel significant.

He understands North better than anyone else would this way—when he loses his holding force, when he no longer has the strength even to levitate, he imagines he will seem much as she does now: inert, helpless. He is glad she does not have to be alone while she waits to erode. She wouldn't like that.
<3

Then her soft outer layers wear away, exposing her true self. The color surprises him—not blue but whitish. One more of her oddities.
I love that this moment, which would ordinarily be gross and horrific--rotting corpse!--is made beautiful through Alphonse's POV.

He could pull those into his body now, he realizes, and build new satellites. For a long time, he does not. He circles the rock fragments, moves away, and returns over and over. If he consumes her rock, she will disintegrate faster, and then she will at last be gone. Forever.
I love the pause here, the hesitation, and the ultimate acceptance.
 

OldschoolJohto

Never not editing
Pronouns
She/Her
Partner
solrock
The story really shines in Alphonse's attempts at understanding his human and him eventually fitting her death into a framework he can understand--the life cycle of rocks, who never truly end.
Thank you for helping me tease that out properly in the last few paragraphs in particular. It was really helpful getting a temperature read on how much of the thought process was coming through and what needed more explicit detail.

It was a bit of a hard fic for me to read, honestly, because I have two people in my life who are getting very close to where Roxanne is.
Aw, I didn’t realize. Sorry to hear that. It’s hard stuff. It’s not the exact same situation, but I’m definitely drawing a little from my dad’s terminal illness—that was more than a decade ago and I’m clearly still processing.

I wouldn't mention it but for our long discussion of ellipses--I thought it had been agreed that " . . . " was the proper form?
So, my impression is that you can either “. . .” or you can treat it like a word ( ... with space on either side) as long as you’re consistent. Either way, you do have to include the additional period when it comes at the end of a sentence, which it looks like I’ve left off at the end of the dialogue you quoted. That I’ll definitely fix.

Interesting how the wigglytuff, who must have more experience with this, also doesn't immediately understand the death.
Yeah, I was imagining it as part of the automatic response. I’m betting Roxanne would look pretty obviously dead to Melissa, but she still has to formally check. Waffle has probably also been trained to at least try to heal right away ... but there could also easily just be some confusion too. Probably both.

I love that this moment, which would ordinarily be gross and horrific--rotting corpse!--is made beautiful through Alphonse's POV.
Oh man, yeah, this taps into the thing that gives me the feeling closest to religious revelation that I get: the knowledge that all things die but that other things live by feeding on death, and that there’s beauty in that. One of my friends made a coloring book called “Everything Dies: A Coloring Book About Life.” It’s got a breakdown of what happens when bodies decay, descriptions of funerary rites (for humans AND animals!), and lots of love for soil ecosystems. Great stuff. I should write more pokémon POV about death, because there’s a lot to say about what else happens after life ends—and some of the ghosts in particular really beg to be explored more.

I think for me the beauty is in acceptance. It’s very humbling, and thinking about death ecologically forces you to think not just behind your own body but beyond your own species. Galaxy brain says: God is worms and bacteria.
 
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Negrek

Rise Toward Descent
Staff
This is a fantastic little story! Probopass is such an overlooked pokémon, but here you made it not only come to life, but also managed to make it so cute it should be illegal. Alphonse is probably the purest cinnamon roll character I've read in a long time, but you manage to pull that off without making the story saccharine or tryhard; Alphonse isn't cute so much because he does generically cute things, but because his perspective is delightfully skewed just a little to the left of his human's. He's taking everything completely seriously, with comedic and sometimes terribly sad results, and you get a lot of mileage out of the tension between our human perspective in reading the story and the narrative Alphonse is constructing for himself about what's going on.

You do a great job of building up Alphonse and Roxanne's relationship simply through how he thinks of her and what details he remembers from their past. The bit about her showing him pictures in the books she was reading because they both enjoy mineralogy stands out as one of those so cute it should be illegal scenes. We never actually see Roxanne in action, as such, but we still learn so much about her simply through Alphonse's recollections, which is very impressive given the length of the story.

I love the direction you went with probopass' physiology, especially the mini-noses. The idea that when they become lost they eventually grow into new nosepass is delightful and also seems perfectly fitting as a way for the species to reproduce. You do a wonderful job of bringing things full circle from Alphonse's initial musings about losing one of his noses in the past and how new ones are created to his time in the cave where he's lost all his satellites and creates new ones out of the most precious minerals he can find.

The chase scene where Alphonse makes off with Roxanne's body is rather wacky; the mental image of him flying down the street with this cloth-shrouded corpse, evading the police and plowing away off-road into a cave is hilarious in an "oh no that's actually really terrible" way. It strikes me as a little out of place with the tone of the rest of the story, which is by and large very earnest albeit occasionally funny, but it didn't bother me

I see now why you were talking about the decomposition rate for skeletons, and this is probably the most wholesome thing you could have done with that research. It caused a little dissonance because I was thinking of Alphonse sitting in that cave for, like, decades while Roxanne decomposed and was kind of thinking that he'd end up dying there along with her, but in actuality it probably wasn't all that long, yeah? Alphonse's relationship with Roxanne seemed to imply that he hadn't had a trainer before, so I'm curious how he'd handle it if he ended up with another in the future--or maybe several! I imagine he's actually got quite a bit of life left, and I have to wonder where he'll go once he finally leaves the cave.

I thought the ending of this story was really effective; it's terribly sweet and also fitting, a moment that feels like it's been built up to over the course of the whole story. And it retains that xenofiction appeal, where creating new satellites from Roxanne's bones is an inhuman but perfectly fitting choice for Alphonse. Basically encapsulates the flavor of the entire story in a few short paragraphs. Excellent all around.

One minor thing--is Alphonse's name an FMA reference?

Anyhow, this is some Quality nose content, and I'm so glad you posted it.
 

OldschoolJohto

Never not editing
Pronouns
She/Her
Partner
solrock
The idea that when they become lost they eventually grow into new nosepass is delightful and also seems perfectly fitting as a way for the species to reproduce.
Certainly better than trying to imagine them reproducing sexually, that’s for sure. And it made me feel better about the dex entries that reference them losing their mini-noses. (So sad!) It does imply that they can’t reproduce unless they evolve, which might take forever or never happen ... but why would a rock be in a rush?

The chase scene where Alphonse makes off with Roxanne's body is rather wacky; the mental image of him flying down the street with this cloth-shrouded corpse, evading the police and plowing away off-road into a cave is hilarious in an "oh no that's actually really terrible" way. It strikes me as a little out of place with the tone of the rest of the story, which is by and large very earnest albeit occasionally funny, but it didn't bother me
Yeah, I don’t disagree. I reminded myself a little of ET. I think I could’ve made it more somber and earnest, but I didn’t want to spend forever having Alphonse on the run from the law—I wanted him to experience it in a blur and to be powerful, as Roxanne made him. Fuck off, cars. But, yeah, this was probably upsetting for all the humans involved too, oh my god. Pen pointed out that his waiting for her order to stand down highlights his inability/refusal to understand her death ... but for me it’s also about him being a wild creature at heart and about being uninterested in checking himself on behalf of anybody but her.

I see now why you were talking about the decomposition rate for skeletons, and this is probably the most wholesome thing you could have done with that research.
I actually didn’t think to look up how long skeletons take to decompose until after I’d finished the draft. And then oh god it takes him ten years to accept—! Probably he sped up that process, though. It was likely only a couple years instead. 🙃 But, again, he’s in no hurry.

Alphonse's relationship with Roxanne seemed to imply that he hadn't had a trainer before, so I'm curious how he'd handle it if he ended up with another in the future--or maybe several! I imagine he's actually got quite a bit of life left, and I have to wonder where he'll go once he finally leaves the cave.
Absolutely. I imagine a dumbshit trainer stumbling onto him years later—woah its satellites are a different color! Must be rare!—and getting the crap kicked out of him. But you’re right—he likes humans and could easily end up with another human friend eventually. He could definitely keep going. What’s 60 years or so to a rock?

One minor thing--is Alphonse's name an FMA reference?
It actually isn’t! Not consciously anyway. (Though it would’ve been on brand for me to draw from pop culture.) I was originally calling him Heph for Hephaestus, but it was such a mouthful and didn’t really feel like Roxanne to me. Slept on it and woke up with Alphonse in my head. Same ph thing, and it turns out it means “ready for battle.”

Thanks so much for reading and for the kind words! ❤
 

Tanuki

Friend of All Chu
Location
Rhyme City
Pronouns
He/him/his
Hi, here for the catnip circle. It's really late, sorry. The past few days have not been my friend, but I'll try to make the review worth your time.

One thing I just wanna get out of the way is I think you could really benefit from a content warning here. It becomes clear very early on that she's going to die, that this is where it's going, so a content warning wouldn't get rid of any suspense there. This is extremely heavy material. Not just grief, or death, but sitting there to watch her body decompose is horrific. There's nothing wrong with that kind of content, but it's deeply unsettling, and a warning would help.

That out of the way, though I really did like the story. It's a very interesting dive into the mindset of a species so foreign to humans. You do a very good job of emulating that through mostly vocabulary. The paragraphs dedicated to helping establish what Al is actually referring to are generally very well crafted.

Some, however, go on for a bit too long and feel too obscure. Like referring to Roxanne's kids(?) as satellites. At least for me, it didn't quite hit home to the point where I'm still not sure if that's what you meant. I don't know what else her satellites could be. It makes sense he would call children satellites considering his life cycle, but there's no mention of a husband or partner that would, well... help in the production. That one in particular confused me.

If they were kids like I think, though, it only adds to another element of your story that's really subtle, but incredibly good. The abandonment suffered from the elderly on the edge of dying was in the background and really drove that point home. That she only has one pokémon and intermittent visits from anyone to keep her company is a sobering, very real experience you shed light on.

What truly drives the point home is the alien point of view. It provides a distance from a very dour experience to make it just palatable enough to read. I think it's a great way to encourage more people to spend time with the people that don't have much left. That is really cool, and I liked it. Thank you.

Another thing I liked was your use of scent. Being its most prominent trait, it makes sense it'd sense a lot with his nose. I liked how much you described smell, but there definitely could have been more. Especially when her body's been still for a few days, and then later in the cave. The coroner (I believe is the term, guy that grabbed the body) is characterized by his smell. You could lean into this so much more, like when introducing Melissa and her wigglytuff.

Altogether, really good. A very different take on a pokéfic for me, writing from the perspective of one some skochs short of sapient. Sorry again it's so late.
 

OldschoolJohto

Never not editing
Pronouns
She/Her
Partner
solrock
@Tanuki thanks for sharing your thoughts! Sorry to hear you've been having a hard time this week.

Content warning--I did definitely say it's about death, but I can add that decomposition comes into play. I wasn't worried about it since it's not especially graphic, but I'm sorry it took you aback.

Kids as satellites--I feel pretty staunch on this point! This goes for the unnamed partner, too. I genuinely don't think Alphonse would see much of a difference between a human spouse and, like, Roxanne's golem. He sees them as being in Roxanne's orbit. Roxanne's other pokemon are long gone at this point and so is the spouse, so I can try to find a spot to squeeze in an offhand comment about it but I also don't think the concept of spouse is very important to the perspective character here. As for parts that went on too long for you ... can you be more specific? Then I can look into trimming the fat in those spots.

Elderly abandonment--you're absolutely right there. I absolutely see Alphonse stealing her body away to a cave as the happy ending because he was the one most invested in her wellbeing at the end of her life, and it gives him more peace of mind than the standard human alternative.

Sense of smell--I was pretty purposeful about this, actually! Roxanne communicates mostly through speaking commands, so when Alphonse is trying to follow her lead he mostly listens. When he starts to make his own choices and judgements about halfway through, he starts using his sense of smell more. A smell-description of Melissa wouldn't be unwarranted though. I'll think about what that might look like.
 

Tanuki

Friend of All Chu
Location
Rhyme City
Pronouns
He/him/his
Content warning--I did definitely say it's about death, but I can add that decomposition comes into play. I wasn't worried about it since it's not especially graphic, but I'm sorry it took you aback.
Full egg on my face here. I guess I just didn't see it. You're good.

Kids- You've swayed me, actually. She's a trainer, so she probably spent years with other pokémon as well, so referring to them and her kids/spouse as satellites is actually a really great tell on his character.

Too long- I more meant it took to long for me to figure it out, but the sections themselves are fine in length. Also, the most contentious example for me was satellites=kids. I guess it'd just help to somehow clarify that satellites is a less specific term.
 

Virgil134

PMD Writer
Partner
weavile
Hey ho, I’m here to check out another one of your fics, this time because of Catnip Circle instead of Review Tag.

Then he will begin to wear away. One day, every speck of him will be absorbed into the body of another probopass, and the cycle will continue.
Well that’s rather morbid. Though Alphonse is a Probopass, huh? People don’t write those very often in fan fiction, so I can definitely appreciate that choice.

Also I should mention that reading things from Alphonse’s perspective is pretty fun. I always like reading xenofiction.

But after many turnings spent with her, he has invented his own nickname for her. He turns toward her, and she guides him forward: she is North.
D'aww, that’s so sweet.

Melissa speaks without looking at him, unpacking the bags. "Where's Ms. Roxanne? Outside already?"
Oh, nice. So Alphonse’s trainer is a canon character. I didn’t expect that, even if the mention of a gym earlier was a good hint. I like how the story expands upon a canon character, but at the same time it’s written in such a fashion that Alphonse’s trainer could have been an original character as well.

That said, if this story is set in a time where Roxanne has died from old age, wouldn’t it be decades after the events of the canon games? Since the story feels like it’s set in the present. Surely we’d see some futuristic stuff, right?

As the fabric closes over his human's face, Alphonse shoves Melissa aside and hurtles into the room.

But the medicham is ready for him, catching Alphonse with an open-palm smack that sends him spinning across the room. He crashes into a shelf. North's books and trophies tumble down, thumping and clanking against Alphonse as they fall.


And then they're on the road, wheels clattering—moving away from their cozy cave, away from the cacophony of the car alarm, away from the traitorous humans.

By instinct, he moves west towards the mountains. He glides along the road, ignoring the blare of horns. Cars either screech to a stop and allow him to pass or he shoves them back. He does not stop, not even when a vehicle flashing lights pulls alongside him, sirens screaming. The side mirror clips his satellite, knocking it out of sight and out of reach.

A second vehicle skids across his path, and a human male and a mightyena jump out. Alphonse does not stop. He pulls the metal frame tight to him and pulses out energy, launching himself up and over. A shadow whips across him, and he feels another satellite fall away. But when the cart wheels hit the ground on the other side of the vehicle, Alphonse keeps hurtling forward.

When he comes to a road where the burnt rubber smell and traffic are too riotous even for him, he wrenches the cart off the road, crashing through the underbrush. Weeds eventually snare the wheels, so he draws the cart up with him, whining at the strain. But he pushes on and on, towards the smells of granite and limestone, until at last there is solid rock underneath him. With a final thrust of energy, Alphonse shoves his way up and over a slope and stops to rest in a natural bowl sheltered by boulders. Traffic rumbles somewhere under the mountain, but it's far away.
So… I’ll be honest, this part here made little sense to me. I just have a very hard time imaging a Probopass successfully escaping the police with only a hospital stretcher (and that’s without taking into account that Probopass are slow Pokémon). All Alphonse did was jump over a police car, so how exactly did that allow him to escape the city and into the wild? Maybe I feel this way because this sequence is so short, but still.


Anyway, I’d say that overall my feelings on the story are rather mixed.

First off, I like what it’s going for. As I mentioned earlier I enjoy the xenofiction aspect of the story, since Alphonse looks at the world very differently than humans (or even most Pokémon) do. Even if he ain’t the smartest cookie around, the idea that Roxanne’s Probopass is still looking out for her after all these years and won’t leave her side like her other Pokémon have done is very sweet. Perhaps also a little tragic given that she’s dead and he doesn’t realize it, but it’s a good premise.

That said, I’m really not a fan of the ending. Things took quite a sudden turn when Alphonse decided to attack that paramedic and the sequence afterwards didn’t feel very logical to me. Aside from what I mentioned early about the police chase, I also have questions how Alphonse managed to stay hidden in that cave for so long. Surely he would have gotten tracked down in a day or two, right? Plus ending it with him watching the body of his trainer decay and eventually eating was… pretty weird. Reading it made me feel kinda uncomfortable. I know you warned about decomposition at the start, but I still didn’t expect anything like this going into it.

I'm sorry this review isn't as positive as some of the other ones you've gotten so far, but I hope you still find it useful.
 

OldschoolJohto

Never not editing
Pronouns
She/Her
Partner
solrock
@Virgil134 — thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts! I always enjoy your gif-decorated reviews.

I'm sorry this review isn't as positive as some of the other ones you've gotten so far, but I hope you still find it useful.
Pfff, no, you’re certainly allowed to have your own opinion. I’m not a rock, but I’ve got pretty thick skin. Thanks for your honesty.

People don’t write those very often in fan fiction, so I can definitely appreciate that choice.
I’m on a rocks-and-weird-lumpy-friends kick right now. ❤ Ronk is love. I didn’t even like probopass before I wrote this. Now ... oops, I guess I do.

That said, if this story is set in a time where Roxanne has died from old age, wouldn’t it be decades after the events of the canon games? Since the story feels like it’s set in the present. Surely we’d see some futuristic stuff, right?
You can either read it as an AU where RSE/ORAS is set in the equivalent of the 40s, or you can assume there is fancy technology but Roxanne is old-fashioned and/or Alphonse doesn’t understand human stuff well enough to notice much.

I just have a very hard time imaging a Probopass successfully escaping the police with only a hospital stretcher (and that’s without taking into account that Probopass are slow Pokémon). All Alphonse did was jump over a police car, so how exactly did that allow him to escape the city and into the wild? Maybe I feel this way because this sequence is so short, but still.
That’s fair. I wanted to keep that scene short and let it feel like a whirlwind—it’s not the thematic focus of the pieces, and I didn’t want it to take too much attention—but I can consider expanding it. My logic is that he’s a gym leader’s ace and he’s still a creature of the wild. She had him under control, but when she’s gone silent (and is under threat!) he has no reason to follow the rules of legal battles and niceness and not destroying the funeral home van. He’s powerful, and they’re taken by surprise—not just by his strength but by the absurdity of the entire situation. I also think of pokemon with low speed not necessarily as being slow but as having a lot of inertia. They can’t pick up speed quickly, so it probably wouldn’t happen at all in the enclosed space of a gym. But Alphonse gets decent highway mileage. ;)

I also have questions how Alphonse managed to stay hidden in that cave for so long. Surely he would have gotten tracked down in a day or two, right?
Well,

As an extra precaution, he collapses the opening behind them.
I don’t think it was easy to find. I write the wilderness in Pokémon as a) dense and dangerous and b) far-removed from cities and towns. There aren’t many good ways to track something like him except for a psychic-type, but he resists psychic energy already and then he plunges into this cave full of sableyes, and they block out psychics altogether.

I also think the cops he encountered were more upset about a rogue pokemon being on the road at all than they were hunting him specifically. I think by the time local police piece together that weird encounter with the report from Melissa and the funeral home guy ... Alphonse is long gone.

Plus ending it with him watching the body of his trainer decay and eventually eating was… pretty weird
Maybe, but I think it’s his best-case scenario. He thinks of her as a weird rock, and that’s what happens to rocks when they “die.” They don’t, really, is the thing. They just change form and recombine with other rocks.

“Then he will begin to wear away. One day, every speck of him will be absorbed into the body of another probopass, and the cycle will continue.”

Well that’s rather morbid.
Is it? I think from his perspective, his eventual erosion is just a fact. I don’t think it keeps him up at night. (... I don’t think he sleeps at all, actually, but that’s beside the point.)

I feel like the human perspective is “my death is bad” but a beyond human perspective is “death is part of the life cycle. Disruption of that cycle is bad.”

I think for me the beauty is in acceptance. It’s very humbling, and thinking about death ecologically forces you to think not just behind your own body but beyond your own species. Galaxy brain says: God is worms and bacteria.
But that’s just me. You certainly are not obligated to agree.

Regardless, I’m glad you took the time to share those thoughts. I’ll consider adding a little more to the, uh, car chase. Thanks!
 
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