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Pokémon Broken Things

kintsugi

golden scars
Pronouns
she/her/hers
Partner
silvally-grass
"welcomes her back with unconditional love" mmmm yes nothing to see here

Young Genesis and chronology fuckery! Fun fun. Arc 3's narrators have been interesting to me in the sense that they don't really delve in any of the directions I thought we were going to go in--Selene's a fresh pair of eyes on armageddon, Cuicatl's chapter was a lot of self-conflict (which makes sense, because she's not affected by the issues in the same way that anyone else is), and this chapter is primarily internal/in the past, with not much by way of moving forward. Kind of unorthodox but for now it's a good way of showing that your personal implosions don't stop just because the world outside is worse.

Genesis crush is also kind of sad to read through, since she really doesn't let herself believe it's real. I understand why we don't really delve into it in the main story/why it's so heavily compartmentalized away, but I wish we understood more of what she thinks of it now--there's some glimpses of self blame (what were you wearing?) and maybe some intentional deception (she was supposed to believe you), but I wanted a better look at what she wants to think at the time as well as what she wants her mother to think. Even if it's confused/fragmented, or even if she ends up thinking contradictory thoughts as she tries to do the mental acrobatics required to reconcile her actions with what she believes are correct actions--I think a better anchor for what she thinks about things now. Has she changed? Does she think she's changed? Can she be happy with who she's become?

The recurring theme of Genesis feeling inclined to defend her parents to people who try to untangle her from them--oof. A really good dynamic.

His question makes you smile; he does still care about you.
oh no. Genesis's inability to Get what's going on always makes her an uncomfortable (in a good way) narrator for me to read.

You screwed it up. No, Kekoa screwed it all up. Cuicatl even tried to help you! Wasn’t even mad you called the death cult she’s in a death cult. Uggggggh. She hates you now, doesn’t she? And you’ll never get a chance to correct it.
I kinda wanted a better idea of what Genesis didn't want to screw up in this conversation. Leave on a high note because she's unaware that she's already screwed up a lot of things in the past? Just leave cool in general, no awkward questions, no lingering thoughts? She has a crush on Cuicatl? I wasn't sure what she was trying to avoid doing here.

Six Years Ago
These felt a hair cheesy to me. I get why she wouldn't do the timestamps like Cuicatl's chapters but these feel very fanficy, "PIKACHU'S POV" or whatever.

Japan. Mother told you about that place recently. They don’t worship Xerneas there, so he couldn’t stop it when Yveltal sent monsters. A city was destroyed. A lot of people died. Now they’re all in a cocoon.
👀

The comfey wraps herself around your arm and you can feel the healing pouring into you. Sarah does a quick check on everything before standing up and starting to walk away. Comfey stays for a little bit as your cuts stop bleeding, become thin red lines, and then disappear altogether. Even the pains from running in shoes that were not meant to run in fade away.
A really nice detail here. They're looking after her physical body at all costs but neglecting everything else about her. Heal all the surface damage but never look beneath.

Fluffy looks up and chitters for a moment before going back to sleep on her web, strung up in the corner between four posts.
Ahhh fuzzy spiders! Love that the spiderweb heiress has cute thunder friends lol

Even if its Lyra.
it's

“My brother and I didn’t meet him until I was eight and he was ten
It's dialogue so it's kind of stupid and phrasing is a potshot, but the "him/he" pronoun switching tripped me up--obviously the father isn't 10 but that's what it looks like at first.

“Some kid beat the Rocket Gang’s leader so bad he stepped down in disgrace. Then the Rocket Gang’s rival companies made TV shows, video games, and everything else they could to rub it in. Made the kid a saint in the process.”
Ha! Very on-brand Persephone description lol. I like the idea that the franchise is a propaganda machine. Would've liked a bit more on "made the kid a saint in the process"--suggests that Lyra disagrees, and I wanted a bit more perspective on what she thinks Red did wrong since on a personal level.

If she’s impressed you’ve heard of him she doesn’t let it show before she plows on.
The ambiguity here is really fun too--either it's "wow good job gold star you know this basic event in history" or it's Lyra not really noticing the rules that Genesis takes pride in following, which is definitely a mood for this chapter.
 

Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
Gen! My fave oblivious religious cultist and her very straight feelings about her childhood best friend! I enjoyed the swerve down backstory lane. You do a good job showing us the restrictive world Gen's grown up in, and how the combination of her family and her personality keep from the outside world. The time snapshots worked well for me.

Places I wanted a bit more--I know that Gen's flustered by the immediacy, but I would have liked to see some fragments of her prepared speech swirling through her mind. Presumably she's got some arguments that go beyond "I swear she kissed me" by now. The family scene felt a little sparse once she looks up from Dangerous Kitty.

I also felt like the ending cuts off kind of abruptly. We're left in the past, and it makes the chapter feel a little incomplete to me. Even a short closer scene would complete the circle and give a sense of where Genesis is at right now.

But yeah, really nice to get the full story of Gen and Lyra. I'm excited to see where Gen goes from here.

There’s a human-like pokémon with yellow stripes beside him. Wait. “We met in Heahea, right?”
Oh! The dude from when she went out late at night and almost got mugged? That was one of my favorite sequences; I should re-read it with this context.

You swear he’s glaring at Kekoa but can’t quite tell in in the dim light. “After all, you never know who might set their sights on someone like her.”
Hah, dramatic irony is fun here.

Gently, but the message gets across loud and clear. Even to you.
An interesting line in a chapter that is so much about Gen missing very obvious messages.

“Hello, Genesis. Are you hurt?”

His question makes you smile; he does still care about you.

“I am. Are you?”

“Good to hear. I am also unharmed.
I think "I am" is a typo?

“But you’ve sent protection, haven’t you?” He did. He was watching after you the entire time. Because he cares.

“Hector was the one who requested this.”
Wait so is Hector the protection dude? I'm kind of confused by this. Gen doesn't seem to know him, so why would a random bodyguard she doesn't know request to protect her?

Sure, it took the sun going out—but you’re going home!
Gen's unwarranted optimism always stabs me in the heart.

Teleporter? That’s—you were expecting a boat. You had a whole speech planned out for when you got back, but now it’s slipping out of reach as you try to find it. No time to prepare, everything on the line and—and you have to say goodbye, now.
Once again, this sense of how quickly it's happening works really well. Gen is someone who likes to prepare for things and digest them, but all the moments that change the course of her life happen quickly (including the kiss).

A vikavolt’s light. The bug—you never learned the vikavolt’s names since they were usually at work with the spiders—floats behind you and gently presses you closer to the door.
The house being full of sparkle spiders is really cool!

You used to be scared of the big cat, but now you’re just happy she’s here because it means you’re home. For a moment you ignore the other people in the room and hug her back, giving her a scratch on the chin. But it doesn’t last. Eventually Red walks back to her bed and you have to turn and face reality.
Gen trying to carve out these little bubbles of alone-time feels very real.

“You’re back,” she says after what feels like an hour of silent appraisal. “But have you changed?”
Ah, there's that unconditional acceptance you mentioned!

They don’t worship Xerneas there, so he couldn’t stop it when Yveltal sent monsters. A city was destroyed. A lot of people died. Now they’re all in a cocoon. That is why you believe in Xerneas. He can protect you.
I like the simplicity and transactional quality of how she's internalized this.

She glares at the merry-go-round like it’s responsible for everything and for once you know what to do.

You poke a finger into her heart, smile, and run away.
Aw baby Gen making friends.

There’s a book series about a group of knights. There are a lot of books and there’s sort of a bigger plot but mostly it’s just kids a little older than you hanging out with other kids and fighting bad guys with swords, bows, and pokémon. When you run around the track you get lost in that world, sort of, except you’re in it and have friends, a white rapidash, and a sword made of pure crystal. The sword also—doesn’t matter. The point is that you won’t tell anyone any of it. Ever. It’s not real. It doesn’t matter to them.

“Stuff.”

Lyra stares at you like you said something wrong. And maybe you did.
I think one of things that draws me to Gen's character is how internal she is. Lyra's basically her best (only) friend and Gen doesn't even consider sharing her internal life. This makes a lot of sense when read in conjunction with the diary sequence--her family always weaponizes her innermost thoughts against her, so that privacy feels like a defense mechanism, if an unconscious one.

“I mean, you’re nice. If you were a boy, yes. But you’re not, so…”

“Ah.”

And that’s the end of that.
That was easy!

Oh wait, there's more . . .

She tries. She really does. And you start to learn things about them and they learn some things about you. Three come over to your house in October, but Mother keeps two from coming back (one was a liar, the other too masculine) and the third stays away on principle. They let you keep sitting at the table (it’s not your fault your mom’s crazy, they explain, until you start to argue that, no, she isn’t, and one politely changes the topic). There are always jokes you don’t get and there’s a wall between them and you but it’s nice to have other people to talk to. And Lyra’s always there, glancing at you from time to time and making sure that you aren’t too far out of the loop.
Really like how you flesh out the dynamic here, how the family regulates her friend circle.

You don’t like her here. This is your space. Yours. You make your own bed and do most of the chores just so fewer people come in. Having anyone in here feels invasive. Even if its Lyra.
Gen wants her privacy strikes again.

“He worked for the Rockets and he was damn good at it.”

You flinch at the casual swear and take a moment for that to fully sink in. Her father… he seemed nice enough. A little strict. You had mistaken him for a security guard at first with the way he held himself. But you’d never thought he was a bad person. “I think he’s still in it,” she mutters. “Just a little bit. Makes sure that spider silk keeps flowing. Another company, another gang, makes it back home.”

That was too far. “Father doesn’t sell to criminals.” You meet her gaze with a glare of your own, doing your best to keep it up when her brown eyes soften considerably and she looks… sad? You suddenly feel stupid and maybe mean and decide that it’s time to inspect your socks.

“He sells to war criminals. Really, the yakuza are tame compared to his other clients.”

“I…”

She waves a hand—wait when did she start wearing nail polish?—and cuts off your thoughts. “My brother and I didn’t meet him until I was eight and he was ten.
Found this conversation a little hard to follow and info-dumpy. At times I wasn't sure whether Lyra was talking about her dad or Gen's dad, and how she knows so much.

And in Japan that all leads back to Red,” she says the word with a strange mix of awe and disdain. Like he wasn’t just garbage, he was the Mt. Everest of garbage. “Some kid beat the Rocket Gang’s leader so bad he stepped down in disgrace. Then the Rocket Gang’s rival companies made TV shows, video games, and everything else they could to rub it in. Made the kid a saint in the process.”
Fun take on Red. Wasn't sure why Lyra's so against him, though? Is it just that she'd mad her brother idolizes him and then wants to do these rash things?

A lot of ideas whir through your mind but they range from stupid to rude. And most of them come back to one phrase: “I don’t know how to help you.”

Lyra abruptly leans over and wraps her arms around you in a big, tight hug. Out of all the things you should be focusing on, you end up thinking about how nice her blukberry-scented shampoo smells.
Aw, Gen. Her compassion and social awkward really come through here.

he looks terribly anxious and she just got happy and her hair looks very cute today and you just can’t find it in yourself to say no.
"but her cute hair" is v convincing argument.

Just after the car drives off Lyra notices something wrong with your hair, which is annoying because you spent so long sitting still and getting it styled earlier, so she steps over and fixes it. She’s surprisingly slow and has to get a lot closer to you than you would’ve expected.
All throughout Lyra is always pushing the edge of Gen's boundaries. I get that she has a crush, but there's a kind of selfish side to her behavior as well--she knows Gen won't say yes to a date-date so she'd gotten her to agree to a friend-date and then is milking that for all it's worth.

She brightens up like her brother got arrested five times.
Hah what a way to phrase it.

The door is unlocked. You don’t know if you should be surprised.
Was a little confused here. Is the door to the roof normally locked? Is the idea that Gen never tries to go up to the roof, so she wasn't sure what to expect?

she’s pretty and you like it and you’re going to burn with Yveltal
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAp9BKosZXs


Now you can only pray that Mother will be merciful.
Ending cut off a bit abruptly. I think I wanted a little more here to tie the chapter together.

“She was my friend. Almost like a sister”
Missing period.
 

Chibi Pika

Stay positive
Staff
Location
somewhere in spacetime
Pronouns
they/them
Partner
pikachu-chibi
“For her own safety.” You swear he’s glaring at Kekoa but can’t quite tell in in the dim light. “After all, you never know who might set their sights on someone like her.”
See, I don't think that was specifically aimed at Kekoa (it really would only make sense for it to be if he'd overheard that one Plumeria convo somehow) but... it'd be really funny if it was aimed at Kekoa. :V
You screwed it up. No, Kekoa screwed it all up. Cuicatl even tried to help you! Wasn’t even mad you called the death cult she’s in a death cult. Uggggggh. She hates you now, doesn’t she? And you’ll never get a chance to correct it.
It's really easy to forget just how much weight she puts on what Cuicatl thinks of her.
Father is smiling, either at you or at his longtime pet. Your mother is not, legs and arms crossed and almost glaring at you.
I like the contrast here. It also gets across the impression that it's as if no time at all has passed for her mother.
You’re back,” she says after what feels like an hour of silent appraisal. “But have you changed?”

“Yes. But I didn’t kiss her in the first place! She kissed me.”
This is... somewhat more direct than I was expecting? I dunno, I think I just expected Gen to dance around the subject a bit more. It reads almost like they just went and perfectly resumed an in-progress conversation, or like this is their first time talking about this.
“I’m Lyra,” she finally says when the door is shut. “Or Kotone if you want to call me that. That was my name back home. But a new country means a new name. That’s what dad says.”
I can't remember if Lyra was always intended to be canon-Lyra or if you just decided to lean into it. :P
Mother pretended she could read your mind and kept catching and punishing you for stuff you were pretty sure happened in the rare moments while no one was watching; you only figured out how she was doing it when you made up a little sin you didn’t actually do and wrote it down. Sure enough, you were locked in the library for four hours of silent reflection over something that didn’t happen.
oh GOD. Hnnnggg no wonder she's always afraid to express herself (besides just the social awkwardness.)
“I’ve never been up on your roof,” she asks without asking.
I'm pretty impressed with how astute Gen is here tbh. This strikes me as something she wouldn't have caught onto in the years prior.
Now you can only pray that Mother will be merciful.
Hell of an ending line. Oof. Damn you for making me like Gen. I mean, of course I knew it was inevitable--she's just a kid, she only says awful things because of the way she was raised, she doesn't want to hurt anyone. I knew it was only a matter of time.

Anyway, I guess that's all I've got--I didn't save very many quotes while reading. Got too absorbed. Damn you for making me like Gen.
 
Flying 3.4

Persephone

Pokémon Trainer
Pronouns
her/hers
You might want to read the oricorio and hawlucha AP entries right before or after this one.

Flying 3.4: Cognitive Test
Meredith

[09:18:40]​

It’s late in the morning and you’re still tired. You’re always tired. Doesn’t help that you spent the last week at the edge of Route 2 in ad hoc ten-hour shifts, paranoid that every non-existent shadow held an Ultra Beast. You weren’t even getting paid it. It was “volunteer work” that should look great on grad school apps that can get you off this alien-infested archipelago.

In the meantime, you need money to pay rent, utilities, food, student fees, and pokémon upkeep. VStar is at least promising to pay you better than waitressing. Even if you wanted to keep doing that the restaurant’s closed until everything goes back to normal. And apparently Congress made it so that businesses don’t have to pay unemployment during the apocalypse, but landlords can still charge rent.

The VStar job doesn’t look too bad, either. There’s a kid who wants a Class Five. You help her do that. She gets one and you get a nice payday. Still pays over minimum wage in the meantime. Sure, you’re not exactly thrilled to work for the pokémon capture-and-export trade (and your professors would throw a fit if they knew you were A Bad Person). But it’s not even that bad for the island birds; no native one even needs a Class V. Can’t see the harm in it.

Wolsey lights the way beside you, every flap of her wings sending embers scattering behind her. Most fade quickly. There’s little risk of lighting fires while walking down an abandoned street in the middle of the rainy season. (This damn island has an entire season of rain.)

The Pokémon Center has guards positioned around it. No uniforms or anything. Just individual trainers like you, pokémon at their sides. Some don’t even seem that strong. You ask Wolsey to stay outside and help them for the time being. She’s a strong battler and she can cast some light. Also gives her more time out of her ball. She doesn’t get to spend much time breathing real air when you’re stuck in your apartment night in and night out.

Inkay drift through the air of the lobby. Their light disappears quickly enough, but it still illuminates about a fifth of the room. One floats over to you when you enter. It’s weird watching them constrict and expand like they’re moving through water. Is that necessary? Psychological? You smile at the inkay once it’s close enough to let you see the ground beneath you. A quick glance around the lobby shows the nurse and an obviously male teenager illuminated. Maybe your student isn’t here. Or maybe she’s an edgelord who rests in darkness.

“Cuicatl Ichtaca?” You do your best to ignore how badly you probably just mangled the name.

“Here,” she answers, about ten feet away. The inkay starts ‘swimming’ in her direction and you follow. Once you can finally see her you can tell why she was sitting in darkness. There’s a telltale white cane beside her. When the inkay’s a little closer you can see the cataracts in her eyes. She has dark skin and jade hair. Her garishly colored t-shirt has a hydreigon and a one-word slogan on it. Makes her look younger than she probably is.

More interesting are the two pokémon around her. There’s a vulpix on her lap, quietly judging you. A beldum floats above her shoulder. Ah. So that’s why she wants a five.

You sit down and smile, more for your own sanity than anything. “Hello, Cuicatl…”

“Cuicatl Ichtaca,” she says. Slowly and deliberately. So you don’t screw up the pronunciation in the future.

Poor kid. You probably will anyway.

“Hi, Cuicatl, I’m Meredith. I’m studying ornithology at U-Alola. VStar set me up to be your teacher?”

She almost certainly already knows all that but you aren’t sure where else to start.

“That’s bird science?” she asks.

Not what you were anticipating but, sure, you can roll with it. “Yes.”

“Oh.” She frowns. “I have a tyrunt. Birds are close.”

Metagross and a tyrantrum.

Sure, why not? Probably not the right reaction, but, again, you’re too tired for fright or concern or whatever.

“So, you got two ‘mons with Class V evos without getting the license first?”

“Well,” her frown deepens. “The tyrunt was a gift. And once Nocitlālin evolves I’m putting an everstone seal on her ball.”

The kid has at least a little sense. That’s good. Wouldn’t want her to get killed by her own metagross after you went and helped her evolve it. You’d feel guilty for a little bit, even if it was her own damn fault. Not that tyrantrum is that much better. Probably. All you know about their behavior comes from movies.

“I see. And you want the license to keep the tyrunt?”

“Yes.” Her mouth stays open a second longer before she snaps it shut. Something else, then. Probably none of your concern.

“Alright. Do you know how the licensing process works?” She shakes her head. “For a Class IV you’ve got to get me or someone else with a Five to vouch for you, tell the government that you won’t do anything really, dangerously stupid. You mess up, we both get punished.” There are other ways to get a Four as well, but vouching is by far the easiest. Plus, it doesn’t seem like she needs the Four itself as much as she needs it as a stepping-stone to Five.

“For the Five, you’ve got to get a majority of the Class Five-holders on the islands to vote to give you one. You’ll have to get their respect. That might be hard for you.” Certainly was for you, and you were just native and female. Both of those, from America’s old nemesis, and blind? You don’t envy her. “You’ll probably have to give them some research they’ll find useful. I did mine on sensu oricorio.”

You concluded that there was no ethical way to train one, but, hey, if you really wanted to try, ethics be damned, here’s how you would go about it. The researchers were fascinated by the husbandry parts and the battlers were grateful that you put a new toy in their chest. “Research on the trail can be hard, though. You might want to suspend your challenge.”

She shakes her head. “Can’t. Challenge Visa.”

Maybe she could apply for an academic one… but you aren’t even sure if that would work. And even if it was legal, she’d still have to get it through ICE in this administration. You’re honestly surprised she got a Challenge Visa in the first place given all the talk about closing the border. Unless she isn’t here legally. You’ll need to figure that out before she goes for the license, but it seems rude to ask right now.

“I guess you could type it out on the trail if you had to. You’d need a waterproof computer. And, um, you can type, right?”

“I can speak. Then the computer types for me.” She pauses. “But I don’t have a computer. Or enough money to get one.”

Text-to-speech isn’t great. At all. You’ve tried sending text messages with it before and, well, you’ve always had to go back and type it yourself, along with a clarification that, no, you didn’t mean what it looks like you said. And if she doesn’t have computer money… “Then how are you going to feed a tyrantrum?”

“I’ll figure it out later. Wild pokémon, maybe? It’s legal to hunt gumshoos. And she won’t get to full size soon.”

That’s a lot of gumshoos. And tyrantrum are probably a little bit touchy. Might not like eating the same thing every day. You don’t have to tell her that point blank. Don’t want to. Best case scenario is that you lead her on for a while and make some money before she accepts reality on her own. Or, better yet, she gets the Five, you get paid, and then she decides that caring for a tyrantrum while broke is a terrible idea. You can barely afford normal birds.

“Okay.” Time to move on. Learn more about her now. There will be time enough to think of the future later. “Any idea what you could research?”

“I speak Lower and Upper Draconic,” she says. “I could translate some of the myths.”

“Draconic? Like…”

“Dragon language.” You open your mouth but can’t find an intelligent response. “Although Reshiram said I’m not very good.” Her lips thin out into a frown. “Maybe I shouldn’t do it.”

“Reshiram?”

“We met on Ula’Ula. I greeted her because no one else would. We talked. In Upper Draconic. Then she had to go.”

“I see.”

“I think I’m better at lower draconic, but that has a lot of dialects. I’ve met druddigon and charizard and they talked different. Growls were longer, sometimes there were hisses when I would’ve expected a snort. I sort of got what they were saying and I think they understood me.” She tilts her head and a small smile replaces her frown. “I am very good at hydreigon’s dialect. And I can mostly understand tyrunt.” A frown again. She crosses her legs, earning a yowl of protest from her vulpix. “I think. I did not understand much of Jurassic Park the book, big words and the recording was fast, but I think it said that really smart pokémon might not know their language and culture when they came back. That’s why the pyroclaptors went bad. And tyrantrum are dragons, and dragons are smart. Maybe I should teach her dragon myths?”

A lot to process there. There are two (?) dragon (?) languages (?). You’re aware into work on parrot and corvid languages, helped along by some of those pokémon being bilingual themselves. But dragons? Hydreigon? You didn’t know anyone had bothered to try. Yet what interests you the most is none of those things.

“Dragon myths? As in, myths about dragons? Quetzlcoatl and stuff.”

She shakes her head and strands of hair fall onto her face. “No. Dragons have their own myths. Alice talked about The Split God, Reshiram and Zekrom. And Kyurem, sort. Then Quetzlcoatl…or Rayquazza…they call him…” What she says is some sequence of growls that somehow still sounds like language. “He let dragons fly. Then there’s…” the name is a hiss, a strange growl thing that you’re pretty sure comes from her mouth more than her throat, and another hiss. It sounds sort of like a reptile trying to say ‘Sagaris.’ “But Sagaris isn’t a god. More of a hero. Like… I’m sorry. I don’t know any local heroes. Ohserase? She’s Unovan but…”

“I’m know the story.” You’re a kanaka girl born under American rule. Of course you’ve heard it. Your high school even put on the play before you got your GED and hit the trail. You always thought it was a silly story: if you just pray to the gods and politely ask the government to care about the people, it will all come to pass. But life isn’t a fairy tale. Shit happens, people die, gods and kings can’t even be bothered to pay their serfs unemployment.

A glance to the side shows the teenage boy staring at you (or Cuicatl, hard to tell). Maybe you should move this conversation. She’s more interesting than you were expecting. “Want to come to my apartment?” you ask. “We can talk more there.”

She starts to stand and her vulpix jumps to the side, letting out a high-pitched whine as she does. Cuicatl’s hand falls to her cane before she collapses it and stows it on her belt. “Can you guide me?”

“Of course.”

Her hand’s a little cool. You grab it but she slides it up to your elbow and rises to her feet. Oh. Yeah, that is a little less awkward. She uses her free hand to withdraw her vulpix. The beldum trails after her, just above and behind her shoulder.

You meet up Wolsey on the way out, preening and pointedly ignoring a baile-oricorio’s mating dance. Good girl. At your whistle she flaps up into the air and lights the way back home.

“I suppose I should say more about myself. I’m a third-year student at U-Alola.” Did you already say that? “I help run cognitive tests on birds. Puzzles, occasional speech mimicry. Wolsey here knows some words.”

“Hello,” Wolsey dutifully adds.

“It’s odd to hear about pokémon with religions. Testing them all day, they’re smart, sure, but not like that. Not human.” Honchkrow are smart, sure, but smart like a toddler. Maybe Ophelia is on adult human level. Maybe. Even then you’re never sure how much is her intelligence and how much is from her borrowed spirits.

Cuicatl frowns and turns towards Wolsey. “Do you have myths?” The firebird warbles something. “Stories about gods. Ancestors. The start of the earth.” Cuicatl gets a much happier warble. “Can you tell me? In your own words.” The firebird goes into a long song about… something. Cuicatl nods attentively at times and urges her to go on during breaks. Once you’re almost back to the apartment she thanks Wolsey and turns to you. “She does. A giant bird with one wing made of a rainbow and the other made of ash gave talonflame their fire.” She pauses and purses her lips. “It’s kind of similar to the Split God myth.”

“Do, uh, birds also speak dragon? Sorry if that’s dumb but—”

{I’m psychic. I can understand most pokémon.}

“Ah.” The head of the Phantom Pokémon department is as well, but you aren’t sure if he’s ever paid a visit to the ornithology wing. He’s usually busy with… Mr. Mime? One of the psychic-types that tells biology to go fuck itself.

You have to withdraw Wosley in the apartment. Then getting up the stairs in the dark is a pain in the ass you don’t really talk much. She seems to manage just fine. Probably all old hat for her. It’s only when you’re right outside the door that you realize something you probably should’ve figured out at the very beginning if you weren’t exhausted: it was a terrible idea to bring Cuicatl to your apartment.

It’s fine. This is fine. You can just smooth things over with Ophelia before letting her in. “Can you stay outside for a bit? My sister hates surprises and I want her to know you’re coming in.”

She grunts her acceptance (you really need to tell her not to do that in front of Ophelia) and slip inside. Your sister appears in the corner, faintly illuminated by pale blue will-o-wisps. “Welcome home, Meredith. You are back sooner than expected.”

You curtsy, unsure if she can even see it. “Hello, Eve. The Pokémon Center was not a good place to talk. I invited her over for tea. Would you like tea?”

She grimaces but nods. “So long as she’s polite.”

“She’s blind and not from here. Can you give her a little grace? Please?”

Eve sighs and looks so very, very concerned. She never used to look like that.

“Perhaps.”

That’s as close to a ‘yes’ as you’re going to get from her.

You go back out and prepare to brief Cuicatl. “She says you can come in. Just be on your best behavior. Full sentences, curtsies, no nicknames, no interruptions. Nothing out of line.”

Maybe she nods, maybe she doesn’t. Or maybe she doesn’t react at all for a long while. “Okay. Is your sister…”

Alright? Bent in the head? An asshole? Definitely not, depends on how you see it, yes but don’t tell her that.

“Some bad stuff happened to her a while back. She hurt her head. Maybe don’t talk about the island challenge?”

That’s all a very polite way of saying that she got hit by a boulder buzzwole had aimed at one of Selene’s pokémon. The incineroar dodged, of course, because it was very well trained. The champion said she was very, very sorry for “the accident” but mostly she just looked too exhausted to fully care. It took you a long time, but you understand that now. Can’t even blame her.

“I’ll try.”

“Oh. Final thing? Can you—” She’s blind. Obviously, she can’t dance. “Sing?”

“I had classes. I did well in them.” There’s a hint of pride in her voice. Probably good enough.

“Alright. My sister likes music.”

Fuck it, you’re blocking the hall and Ophelia might be impatient. You open the door again, fumble for Cuicatl’s arm for a bit in the dark, and then bring her into the room. Your sister looks up as you enter and looks on expectantly. Yeah, you’re the mutual connection, you should give introductions.

You curtsy again. “Hello, Eve. This is Cuicatl Ichtaca, my student. Cuicatl Ichtaca,” please don’t correct the pronunciation please don’t correct the pronunciation hey I know you’re psychic please don’t correct the pronunciation, “This is Eve, my sister.”

She curtsies and Eve relaxes a little. Can she even see it?

“A pleasure to meet you, Miss Ichtaca.”

You take that as a sign to guide Cuicatl forward to the table. She sits down well enough. Eve’s expressionless. Good enough. “Sister, can you help me prepare the tea? Perhaps Cuicatl can sing to us in the meantime?”

Both get the hint. Eve follows you with sure footing, cold blue flames trailing after her. Cuicatl starts a song. It’s strange hearing her speak (or sing, as it were) in her own language. Very different sounds. Come to think of it her accent’s pretty good for someone who just got here recently. And she is a good singer. Probably not too much in the way of formal training, but a nice voice. And the song’s structure almost sounds like the oricorio songs that you set out to study years ago.

Back then you just wanted to preserve the old songs and dances and maybe relearn some of the old ones. The journey went fine. You did what you set out to do. Beat three islands and came close to beating Nanu on Poni. Pretty good, all things considered.

If you could have you would have given Eve some of your luck. Even if it meant a journey fifty times harder.

You come back with three cups of tea and one of nectar. The nectar is sat in front of Ophelia’s seat. The sensu oricorio is perched in the corner, preening in the dim light. Eve wordlessly nods when you place the cup down in front of her chair. Your sister can’t drink tea anymore but still wants to feel included.

Once you sit down and press a cup into Cuicatl’s hands she stops singing. “What was the song about?” Eve asks.

“A princess meeting her lover in the night.” Cuicatl takes a sip. “It is an old song.”

Eve’s face literally and figuratively lights up at the word ‘princess’ and damn it for a second she really does look like herself. “Perhaps you can teach me, sometime?”

Cuicatl nods. “I don’t know how long I will be in the city. Maybe the next time I’m here?”

“I would like that.”

So far, so good. Leading with song was definitely the right way to go about it.

“Meredith, you have a Class Five license, right?”

“I do.”

“Why did you get yours?”

“All the money in ornithology these days is in hawlucha care.”

The shadows on Cuicatl’s face seem to grow darker.

That was the wrong answer.

You should have known it was the wrong answer.

“What wars did you fight in, then? How did it feel when the tlatoani gifted you your hawlucha?”

Eve’s expression is no less severe than Cuicatl’s, but she says nothing for now. Your pleading look is ignored.

“Cuicatl—”

“What were your captives names, Meredith? Where did you grow up in Anahuac?”

“Back in the 80s the king,” or whatever he’s called, “gave some to America.”

“And he stopped being tlatoani when he did. The birds belong to Huitzilopochtli. Do you know what the crime is for stealing one?”

Yeah. The State Department sent you a whole brochure on it. You were looking at San Antonio for grad school but, hey, you might get kidnapped, dragged across the border in the dead of night, and publicly executed so Castelia started looking pretty good in comparison.

“I know. It’s not ideal. But I need the money to get off the island and—”

A male voice starts roaring in Nahuatl, right next to you. To Cuicatl. “Ophelia, please stop.” She does, sort of, dropping the voice to a furious whisper. And Cuicatl’s gone still beside you, eyes wide and every muscle tensed up like she’s just heard a ghost.

Which, to be fair, she has.

You grab her hand, partially yank her up, and mostly drag her out the door. The whisper doesn’t stop completely until you’re a block away from the building. Fuck. Fuck. It was going so well then you ran your damn mouth and you never told her why she needed to be formal, hell, girl probably thought she was just making veiled threats at you in front of your autistic sister, and why the hell do you train channeler birds in the first place, dumbass?

Well, your potential paycheck vanished. Might as well not be soulless about it. You bring Cuicatl to a bench and let her sit and lean into you and sob for a bit because, damn it, Ophelia, what did you do?

She stops crying eventually and just leans into you and you have an armed wrapped around her like you didn’t kind of just maybe torture her and still have a right to comfort her. “Your sister is a ghost-speaker?” she finally asks.

“No. My oricorio is. I’m sorry. I should’ve told you that she’s… like that. Sometimes. I thought if you were just formal enough and sang—”

“I’m useless. I know.”

“You’re not. My fault. I’m sorry.”

She snort-sobs and gets some more snot on your shirt that you’re going to ignore. “My brother told me. I knew he must’ve hated me but hearing him say it was—” She breaks up and starts crying again.

Oh. Her brother. That’s. Yeah. You understand that. More than you want to. When Eve…

“It wasn’t him. Oricorio can just use the voices of the dead to speak. It’s… it’s a lot. I know. Trust me. But it wasn’t him, whatever it sounded like.”

She doesn’t answer you. Wolsey does. Sort of. It seems like a song or maybe a story. It doesn’t seem to help and eventually he stops altogether.

“’m fine.” Cuicatl says. Eventually. “I’ll have Nocitlālin take me back to the Center.”

“Noci—”

The beldum zooms into the light and towards its trainer. Oh. How long was it hovering around?

“You sure? It’s not really—”

“Yes.” She holds out her hand and the beldum slips into it. “Goodbye.”

*​

The door opens and you step through. Your sister’s in the corner, Ophelia perched in front of her. They look proud, almost. “You’re welcome,” Eve says.

“For what?”

“She won’t threaten you again.”

“And she won’t teach you her song, either.”

There’s a flash of pain in her eyes and for once you can’t tell who it’s coming from.

“You’re safe,” she whispers. “That’s what matters.”

This is hopeless. You’ll sleep and then get back to it in the afternoon once she’s calmed down a bit. Or maybe you won’t. The kid was making death threats, even if she couldn’t or wouldn’t act on them. Is this the hill you want your sanity to die on? This wasn’t the first time she tortured someone with the voices of the dead. Won’t be the last. Might as well not be you.

Eve cuts you off before you can open the bedroom door.

“You said you’re leaving.”

Right. Shit. Yeah. That’s what you get for having people over when you’re tired.

“I’ll take you. Don’t worry about it.”

Pale fire ripples across her body. “Where are you going to?”

“Florida? Orre? Unova? Don’t know. Somewhere that doesn’t feel like an alien-infested graveyard.”

You close the bedroom door behind you without looking at her face. It’s rude and Ophelia will have words with you when you wake up, but now you just need to sleep. Or try. Truth is, you’re not a good person. You thought you were once. Might have been. Because a good person would’ve accepted the message in your thesis, that there isn’t an ethical way to raise a bird that terrorizes people with the ghosts of dead relatives. Except you’re willing to sit back and let a bunch of terrible shit happen to someone else if it means you get to see Eve’s face in the morning.

No. You’re a bad person and you know it. Most of the time you just wish you were even worse. The kind of monster who could look a sobbing girl in the eyes and feel nothing. Because monsters aren’t hounded by guilt at night.

A real monster wouldn’t be so damn tired all the time.
 
Last edited:

Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
ghost bird tea party time yusssss

Okay, but before I get to that, I took a look at the new scenes. I think they both definitely close off the chapters better and give a sense of progression rather than stasis.

There were answers there, but more questions were raised. A goddess approves of your plan. Any of the last doubts tingling in the pit of your stomach or the corner of your mouth are gone. You will go home. You will face your father.

You have other family. N. He could be your first cousin or the descendant of your great-great-great-great-great grandparent’s sibling. He still exists. Shares your gift. Maybe he will come for you. Maybe he will not. You aren’t sure which to hope for. Understanding and family. A link to your mother’s world. But also a threat to your visa, a threat to Alice, and a reminder of someone you’ve lost.

Then… there’s something you forgot. Or maybe something you never remembered at all. People talking… about… your thoughts slide off it like water on a glass window. Something about The Voice, surely. But what? What could you know? And is it important? Dangerous?

You fall asleep, a warm steel-type pressed against you, before you come up with any answers.
Nice to see what the impact (at least short term) of the Reshiram convo is for Cuicatl. Goddess approves of my life choices is definitely a mood.

We better be getting some N after all this N-teasing, lol.

Very 👀 at this last bit.

There’s fire in her eyes that can’t be blamed on the pyroar’s light. “’Trying,’ were you? Tell me, were they also trying to convert you?”

“Cuicatl said—”

“Because from where I’m sitting, I see a different explanation.” You turn to your father but his eyes are locked on his pet. He can’t see your pleading. “What happened on the roof—”

She kissed me!

She cuts you off, again, with a wave of her hand. “So you said before. Does it matter, though? Something awoke within you. We cast you out and away from it and what do you do? You find another deviant to latch onto. Rather than fight the demons you seek out and embrace them, time and time again.”
This progression works a lot better for me. Also, I feel like with this, I can understand the mom's reasoning (messed up as it is). It's not just a one-time thing in her mind; it's a pattern.

“Tell me, Genesis,” she practically purrs with hate right beneath the surface. “Can you look me in the eyes and tell me that girl never tempted you?”

“Of course she didn’t.”

Mother leans back into her chair, a very self-satisfied smile on her face.

“Genesis Elizabeth Gage, you have always been a terrible liar.”
"purrs with hate right beneath the surface" felt like a little much? Is that really how Genesis is perceiving it?

I think the phrasing of the question works better here. Plus it has the nice biblical connotations.

“What about my pokémon?”

Father waves towards the table. You remove your belt and for a long moment you simply hold it in your hand, unable or unwilling to put it on the table. Putting it down feels like you’re throwing the last few months away. Throwing your power away. That is what you came here to do but it still feels wrong.



Maybe Mother was right. Maybe Lyra and Kekoa did wear you down. Make you rebellious and prideful and sinful to the point where you would defy your own parents in favor of a pagan and a transsexual. Maybe you can’t trust yourself with power right now.

You set the belt down on the table and walk towards your room.
Big oof. I love this new ender. Genesis giving up everything she's gained so far. This moment makes the chapter not just about her introspection but gives it some serious consequences. Very interested to see how her story progresses.

.
.
.

Back to tea party time! On a broader arc note, I've been pleasantly surprised by the way this part is completely messing up all the stakes and conflicts set up in the earlier parts with the journey aspects in favor of focusing on the impact of covid-19 the necrozma apocalypse. In terms of "plot" progression, the main function of this chapter seems to be seriously complicating Cuicatl's license V ambitions and giving the poor girl another mental breakdown, but the worldbuilding and personal story of Meredith are what really shine. The chapter stands on the foundations of the Alola Dex entries for oricorio and hawlucha in a way that past chapters haven't as much (another compelling argument for alola dex footnotes imo) and the combination of all that lore and science creates a very rich feeling. The chapter has something of a supernatural mystery vibe. It's pretty clear from the outset that something is up with Meredith's sister, but you do a good job teasing out the various elements of it, to bring the full picture together at the end.

Meredith's exhaustion and apathy are well done--at first it seems like standard grad student fatigue and then slowly becomes more sinister. I did find the amount of lampshading that Cuicatl's various attributes are something a normal person would be freaking out about a little much--I guess it's hard to avoid with the facts of Cuicatl's character and the world. I think at least the psychic aspect could be more normalized? Maybe Meredith's done research with one?

The elements of ritual that Meredith tells Cuicatl to follow were excellently creepy, heightened by the fact that Cuicatl can't really see what's going on. I was curious, though--would someone who isn't blind have been able to see the weird ghostlight and know something was up with Eve? And could Cuicatl not sense the sensu oricorio's aura or tell something is weird with the sister (who is just a channeled spirit, right, she's not actually alive?) The way Eve and Ophelia were intertwined was really interesting. Is it really Eve at all, or just Ophelia's projection? I found the moment where Meredith tells them that they won't be taught the song now particularly poignant. Kudos for drawing such a complex portrait of Meredith in the space of the chapter: her desire to get out of Alola by any means necessary, away from this place that has taken so much from her and given back a shadow; her empathy and its limits; her bad judgement and her exhaustion. I also found it striking how her initial interest in ornithology is something that began simply and naively and has become this twisted part of her life.

All this to say, I've been hype for more on sensu oricorio since I read the ADex entry and this did not disappoint. I think this chapter works really well with the themes you've been exploring of grief, of emotional hurts that don't heal, of who and what you're willing to sacrifice for your emotional needs. In that sense, Meredith feels almost like a warning for Cuicatl (not that she has the context to heed it).

It’s technically late morning now, but you’re bone tired.
I found this oddly confusing--is the implication that you're only supposed to be tired in the early morning? Or that the day hasn't even been going that long and she's already tired? "It's not even afternoon yet, but you're already bone tired." would give me the latter morning more clearly.

Standing at the edge of Route 2 in ad hoc ten-hour shifts, paranoid that every non-existent shadow holds an Ultra Beast, didn’t help.
The first part of this makes it sound like a general statement for repeated action, but in that case it should end "doesn't help" or "hasn't helped."

You weren’t even getting paid it.
"You didn't even get paid for it."

In the meantime you need money to pay rent, utilities , food, student fees, and pokémon upkeep.
Extra space after utilities

Even if you wanted to keep doing that the restaurant’s closed until everything goes back to normal. And apparently Congress made it so that businesses don’t have to pay unemployment during the apocalypse, but landlords can still charge rent.
Very unrealistic, no actual government would do that.

Sure, you’re not exactly thrilled to work for the pokémon capture-and-export trade (and your professors would throw a fit if they knew you were A Bad Person). But it’s not even that bad for the island birds since the only one that needs a five isn’t even native in the first place. Can’t see the harm in it.
Found this paragraph very confusing. Is she assuming that Cuicatl wants the five in order to train an island bird? Or is this about herself? Presumably her professors know about her own license if she's studying ornithology and it's common in that field to get a five to train hawlucha?

Also gives her more time out of her ball. She doesn’t get to spend much time breathing real air when you’re stuck in your apartment night in and night out.
Is Wolsey not allowed to fly around on her own?

Inkay drift through the air of the lobby. Their light disappears quickly enough, but it still illuminates about a fifth of the room. One floats over to you when you enter. It’s weird watching them constrict and expand like they’re moving through water. Is that necessary? Psychological?
Ooh such a cool setting vibe. The mix of the mundanities of grad apps, rent etc with 'it's the apocalypse' is really nice.

Or maybe she’s an edgelord who rests in darkness.
omg. I kind of want to call this line out as tonally dissonant? but it's also kind of hilarious.

You concluded that there was no ethical way to train one, but, hey, if you really wanted to try, ethics be damned, here’s how you would go about it.
rip

“Then how are you going to feed a tyrantrum?”

“I’ll figure it out later. Wild pokémon, maybe? It’s legal to hunt gumshoos. And she won’t get to full size soon.”

That’s a lot of gumshoos. And tyrantrum are probably a little bit touchy. Might not like eating the same thing every day. You don’t have to tell her that point blank. Don’t want to. Best case scenario is that you lead her on for a while and make some money before she accepts reality on her own. Or, better yet, she gets the Five, you get paid, and then she decides that caring for a tyrantrum while broke is a terrible idea. You can barely afford normal birds.
"I'll figure it out later" is definitely becoming a Cuicatl motto. Because wow, she really has not thought this through.

“Draconic? Like…”

“Dragon language.” You open your mouth but can’t find an intelligent response. “Although Reshiram said I’m not very good.” Her lips thin out into a frown. “Maybe I shouldn’t do it.”

“Reshiram?”

“We met on Ula’Ula. I greeted her because no one else would. We talked. In Upper Draconic. Then she had to go.”

“I see.”
This moment felt like it was kind of lampshading Cuicatl's special-snowflake-ness.

Ohserase? She’s Unovan but…”

“I’m know the story.” You’re a kanaka girl born under American rule. Of course you’ve heard it. Your high school even put on the play before you got your GED and hit the trail. You always thought it was a silly story: if you just pray to the gods and politely ask the government to care about the people, it will all come to pass. But life isn’t a fairy tail. Shit happens, people die, gods and kings march on uncaring.
Typo - "I know the story."

Feels like this could be tied more to the current circumstances than phrased in general, for her? I mean, the current apocalypse is showing some truths about gods and governments.

“We can talk more over tea.” With Ophelia. And your sister, probably.
She's thinking about how Ophelia will be present here, so it feels a little odd later when she realizes, wait this isn't a good idea?

You meet up Wolsey on the way out, preening and pointedly ignoring a baile-oricorio’s mating dance. Good girl.
Lol

“I help run cognitive tests on birds. Puzzles, occasional speech mimicry. Wolsey here knows some words.”

“Hello,” Wolsey dutifully adds.

“It’s odd to hear about pokémon with religions. Testing them all day, they’re smart, sure, but not like that. Not human.” Maybe Ophelia. Maybe. Even then you’re never sure how much is her intelligence and how much is from her borrowed spirits.

Cuicatl frowns and turns towards Wolsey. “Do you have myths?” The firebird warbles something. “Stories about gods. Ancestors. The start of the earth.” Cuicatl gets a much happier warble. “Can you tell me? In your own words.” The firebird goes into a long song about… something. Cuicatl nods attentively at times and urges her to go on during breaks. Once you’re almost back to the apartment she thanks Wolsey and turns to you. “She does. A giant bird with one wing made of a rainbow and the other made of ash gave talonflame their fire.” She pauses and purses her lips. “It’s kind of similar to the Split God myth.”

“Do, uh, birds also speak dragon? Sorry if that’s dumb but—”

{I’m psychic. I can understand most pokémon.}

“Ah.” Maybe if you weren’t quite as tired you’d have a bigger reaction to that but, fuck it, the girl owns a dinosaur, she spoke to Reshiram, there are aliens in Alola and everything’s dark, you have a bird that speaks to ghost, the kid has psychic powers and is that really weirder than the other stuff? Guess you’ll need to talk to Wolsey later, then, about… something. Screw it. You’ll figure it out when you wake up next.
This struck me as odd. Psychics seem to be fairly known as a phenomenon--I feel like at least someone in the pokemon cognition field would have been able to run tests with psychics and write a paper on it? This reads like Cuicatl is just casually destabilizing a huge body of researched knowledge.

That’s all a very polite way of saying that she got hit by a boulder buzzwole had aimed at one of Selene’s pokémon. The incineroar dodged, of course, because it was very well trained. The champion said she was very, very sorry for “the accident” but mostly she just looked too exhausted to fully care. It took you a long time, but you understand that now. Can’t even blame her.
I was a bit confused on the context of this. Ultra beast attack? When? Not sure how it's Selene's fault?

Eve follows you with sure footing, cold blue flames trailing after her.
This seems normal.

Back then you just wanted to preserve the old songs and dances and maybe relearn some of the old ones. The journey went fine. You did what you set out to do. Beat three islands and came close to beating Nanu on Poni. Pretty good, all things considered.

If you could have you would have given Eve some of your luck. Even if it meant a journey fifty times harder.
Oof, this bit hit hard.

Eve’s face literally and figuratively lights up at the word ‘princess’ and damn it for a second she really does look like herself. “Perhaps you can teach me, sometime?”
Ditto here.

“What wars did you fight in, then? How did it feel when the tlatoani gifted you your hawlucha?”
Ope, Cuicatl is pissed. Nice to have the hawlucha entry for context here.

“What were your captives names, Meredith? Where did you grow up in Anahuac?”
Typo, should be "captives'"

You were looking at San Antonio for grad school but, hey, you might get kidnapped, dragged across the border in the dead of night, and publicly executed so Unova started looking pretty good in comparison.
Okay I'm confused--I thought Unova was America?

A male voice starts roaring in Nahuatl, right next to you. To Cuicatl. “Ophelia, please stop.” She does, sort of, dropping the voice to a furious whisper. And Cuicatl’s gone still beside you, eyes wide and every muscle tensed up like she’s just heard a ghost.

Which, to be fair, she has.

You grab her hand, partially yank her up, and mostly drag her out the door. The whisper doesn’t stop completely until you’re a block away from the building. Fuck. Fuck. It was going so well then you ran your damn mouth and you never told her why she needed to be formal, hell, girl probably thought she was just making veiled threats at you in front of your autistic sister, and why the hell do you train channeler birds in the first place, dumbass?
Aaand the shit hits the fan. I imagine the fallout for Cuicatl is not going to be pretty.

Oh. How long was it hovering around?
Best Unit is never off the job.

Your sister’s in the corner, Ophelia perched in front of her. They look proud, almost. “You’re welcome,” Eve says.

“For what?”

“She won’t threaten you again.”

“And she won’t teach you her song, either.”

There’s a flash of pain in her eyes and for once you can’t tell who it’s coming from.
This exchange got a lot across about the relationship between Meredith, Eve, and Ophelia. Definitely my fave moment in the chapter.

Is this the hill you want your sanity to die on? This wasn’t the first time she tortured someone with the voices of the dead. Won’t be the last. Might as well not be you.
I really like this--the way you show how she rationalizes every incident, because what is worth it when your own sanity is on the line?

“Your sister is a ghost-speaker?” She finally asks.
Typo, "She" shouldn't capitalized

Truth is, you’re not a good person. You thought you were once. Might have been. Because a good person would’ve accepted the message in your thesis, that there isn’t an ethical way to raise a bird that terrorizes people with the ghosts of dead relatives. Except you’re willing to sit back and let a bunch of terrible shit happen to someone else if it means you get to see Eve’s face in the morning.
Strong paragraph, ties the chapter together well.

No. You’re a bad person and you know it. Most of the time you just wish you were even worse. Because you could sleep at night if you could look a sobbing child in the eyes and feel nothing.

And then you wouldn’t be so damn tired all the time.
Think this could be reworded to land more strongly. The sentences tangle up a bit.
 

OldschoolJohto

Never not editing
Pronouns
She/Her
Partner
solrock
[09:18:40]
Lol oh noooooooooo.

It’s “volunteer work” that should look great on grad school apps that can get you off this alien-infested archipelago.
I enjoyed the world-building around all of this. Meredith's POV was really enjoyable overall and gave me this vision of an alternate version of BT that's an interconnected set of one-shots and few-shots instead. I don't think it has to become that, but I do think this chapter stands well on its own and has a satisfying arc of its own.

money to pay rent, utilities , food, student fees,
Extra space.

VStar is at least promising to pay you better than waitressing.
!
Aha! Nice to get another nugget of info about VStar.

And apparently Congress made it so that businesses don’t have to pay unemployment during the apocalypse, but landlords can still charge rent.
Huh, why does that sound familiar?

Maybe your student isn’t here. Or maybe she’s an edgelord who rests in darkness.

“Cuicatl Ichtaca?”
LOL

“I see. And you want the license to keep the tyrunt?”

“Yes.” Her mouth stays open a second longer before she snaps it shut. Something else, then. Probably none of your concern.
And my mom's giant three-headed dragon, NBD.

There are other ways to get a Four as well, but vouching is by far the easiest.
you’ve got to get a majority of the Class Five-holders on the islands to vote to give you one.
The four/five split was a little hard to follow, partly because the last time we discussed what license class she has was ages ago. I was also squinting at the Class Five-holder vote being required. Sounds like it would be like herding cats to get them to vote on something. Though I guess the point is that it should be hard to get to that level. Hm.

You concluded that there was no ethical way to train one, but, hey, if you really wanted to try, ethics be damned, here’s how you would go about it.
Oh man, so does this mean she wrote parts of ADex? I second Pen's 👀-ing about adding ADex footnotes to BT.

It sounds sort of like a reptile trying to say ‘Sagaris.’
👀

But life isn’t a fairy tail.
Tale*

With Ophelia.
Excellent, excellent name.

Puzzles, occasional speech mimicry. Wolsey here knows some words.”

“Hello,” Wolsey dutifully adds.
Love.

“Oh. Final thing? Can you—” She’s blind. Obviously, she can’t dance. “Sing?”
👀 She sure can!

Sister, can you help me prepare the tea.
Question mark missing?

Back then you just wanted to preserve the old songs and dances and maybe relearn some of the old ones. The journey went fine. You did what you set out to do. Beat three islands and came close to beating Nanu on Poni. Pretty good, all things considered.
This is a strong character and world-building moment! I can picture how she fits into the ecosystem of trainer life so nicely.

A male voice starts roaring in Nahuatl, right next to you. To Cuicatl. “Ophelia, please stop.”
Woah shit.

My brother told me. I knew he must’ve hated me but hearing him say it was—” She breaks up and starts crying again.

Oh. Her brother. That’s. Yeah. You understand that. More than you want to. When Eve…
I didn't realize at first that it was her brother specifically--oof!! It might've been nice to slow down and catch more of Cuitcatl's reaction in that moment? But this hits hard.

Ghost bird tea party = success.
 
Flying 3.5

Persephone

Pokémon Trainer
Pronouns
her/hers
Flying 3.5: Ancestor Stories
Pixie

[3:01:29]​

You reform in cool night air. Eggbreath chirps beside you, before breaking into a relatively low grumble about the cold. You can faintly smell Eyerock nearby, but it’s a little hard to track in total darkness.

And it is very, very dark. Darker than the cave that Thirdborn dared you to enter when you were two-tails. It does not act like darkness should. There are streams of light zig-zagging across the sky like cracks on a pane of ice. They do not make anything else bright.

“Why is it still dark?” Or why was it dark in the first place. Skysong never gave you a good answer.

“People are saying an alien. A ‘neckrazema.’ It showed up, ate a moon goddess, and stole all the light. Supposedly. No one really seems sure…”

Oh no. The Moon is important. You will have to scream at the moon-eater until it gets scared and gives her back. Skysong ignores you as you start screaming. Eggbreath joins you. It might help, even if the hatchling is not at all intimidating. And never will be. Whatever nonsense Skysong says.

“Anyway,” Skysong says loudly, intending to talk over your scream. Eggbreath stops. You don’t. She goes on despite you being busy. Very rude. “We’re back in Hau’oli. I can let you guys out more often. And, um, Pix?”

Fine. You will continue screaming later.

“Genesis left. She took her eevee with her.”

You start screaming again. This time out of joy.

[09:00:00]​

Much has happened in the last few days.

You have continued your screams. The necrazema has not backed down yet. It’s okay. It will in time. Then The Moon itself will thank you.

Skysong’s habits are different now. She mostly just stays in bed, sometimes going outside for very short walks. It is terrible. Even moreso because there are lots of smelly humans crammed into your space. One has a fluffy sparkslinger. You got Eggbreath to see it as food and after two (failed) hunts, she’s now in her ball and away from Skysong almost all the time. When Eggbreath was out a few days ago you told her that everyone and everything had been eaten by a giant fox. She believed it. Stupid. Fox breath smells much better than the wind outside.

Eyerock is somewhere else right now. You know that Skysong prefers her as a guide. Even though she is horribly hot, ugly, and immediately obeys all orders without question. But at least the rock knows her place. You growl at her to leave and she at least looks away. She doesn’t try to steal food from you. Once she even attacked something when you asked. It is hard to talk to her, but she is a useful servant. You just need to make sure that Skysong doesn’t rely on her as a guide. Maybe you can attach sharp icicles so that Skysong stops wanting to touch her. Yes. That could work.

A door opens and one of the strange humans reenters the room. Bedding rustles and her sparkslinger gives its dumb “baaaaa” and then they both at least pretend to be asleep. Eyerock near-silently floats back into position, hovering behind you over Skysong’s hindlegs. You know humans don’t like to be observed when they mark territory. Eyerock keeps doing it. Someday she’ll get caught and Skysong will hate her and it will be great.

You press harder against Skysong’s side and one of her arms reflexively moves to cuddle you.

Life is good.

[09:15:49]​

Life is terrible.

Skysong rolled over onto you and your tails are still sore. And she didn’t even give you food when she ate breakfast! Sure, she gave you foodrocks later, but you know she had eggs. You would have liked them more than she did.

{They’re limiting what people get,} she said with her mind. {They wouldn’t be happy if I gave some to you.}

You let her know that this is not an adequate reason to deprive you. She finishes her meal without responding.

She barely even let you explore when you go outside, even telling you to hurry up and pee before you’re done screaming at the necrezema. With a huff of displeasure, you mark over Eggbreath’s marking and walk back to her, graciously accepting the leash even though she had done nothing to earn your help.

Her messaging stone buzzes almost as soon as you reenter the building. “Message from: VStar. Read it: Yes or No?”

“Yes,” she says. {Pix, can you find a place to sit down?}

You guide her towards the scent of the metal things humans like to sit on. Eggbreath jumps up beside her before you can. Rude. You shoot cold air in her direction, forgetting that Skysong was also there. Oh well. She deserves it, too.

“Mission Alert: Capture one finneon per team member, within legal size limits. Location: Hau’oli City. Flashlights and fishing poles may be rented from the central office. Expect waitlists for equipment rentals.”

You have not heard of finneon, but you know what ‘fish’ are. They are good. “Fish!”

“Not for you, Pix,” Skysong mutters. “Sorry.” Unfair! You deserve fish after everything you’ve been through this morning.

Skysong stands up but Eggbreath does not jump down. Why? You can hear her breaths in the air, near Skysong’s heart. Oh. Why does she get carry-cuddles and you don’t? Extremely rude. You hear Skysong’s cane extend to full length as she starts walking forward. “Pix, can you warn me if anything comes up?”

Nothing does. You follow behind Skysong as she can use her cane to scout for anything that you might miss, unlikely as it is with your excellent senses. It doesn’t take her long to enter her shared room with Bloodrage. It does not sound or smell like the strange humans are present. “Mist and Titania out?” Skysong asks.

“Yeah. Probably out back with Tatty’s chinchou.”

“And Fiona—”

“Don’t know, don’t care.”

Eggbreath jumps off the bed and heads over to the other side of the room. You hear her sniffing around, probably seeing if the sparkslinger is near enough to kill.

“You get the text?” Skysong asks, lowering herself onto her bed. Bloodrage himself is above her on his. Odd. Humans usually like to look at each other when they talk. Maybe that doesn’t matter in the dark.

“Yup. You gonna call them to get on the list?”

“No. Will you?”

Bloodrage sighs dramatically. “I’m under thirty. I don’t call people if I can help it. Plus, uh, vocal dysphoria.”

“Oh.” Cuicatl sprawls out on her bed. You jump onto her chest just as Eggbreath rushes back, cutting Eggbreath off from it. She doesn’t fight you because she knows that she’d lose, and she settles onto the much less comfortable legs of your trainer. “You want to talk about it?”

“No. Can you just make the damn call?”

“I would but…” She lowers her voice. Not low enough that you and Eggbreath or Eyerock can’t hear it. Wait? Where is Eyerock? You can’t smell her. “My gift doesn’t work over phones. And my actual English isn’t that good.”

“Eyerock isn’t here,” you tell Skysong. Because that’s much more important than whatever she’s going on about.

“Eh.” She runs a hand through your headfur. It is very pleasant. “Nocitlālin says she’s out back with Mist and Titania. She’ll come back when they do.”

“What?! You don’t let me go places without you.”

{We’ll talk about that later. Promise.}

Bloodrage says some stuff but you ignore it because it isn’t important. Instead you plot your revenge. On Eyerock. Or Skysong. Or the neckarezma. Or all of them. You’re definitely moving Skysong’s stick again. Maybe moving her bag of sickly sweet smelling tooth-cleaning cream. Perhaps you can put it into the toilet. She hates it when you do that.

“Already a waitlist. Somehow. They’ll text me later,” Bloodrage finally says.

[9:23:51]​

Skysong has been poisoned.

She has not left her bed since she got back from the bird-smelling human. She will not talk to you. Or Bloodrage. Eggbreath hasn’t been out of her ball since then but you doubt your trainer would talk to the dumb baby over you. Maybe she’s silent talking with Eyerock. The rock is here, hovering in the corner. Sometimes she even lowers down to touch Skysong before deciding otherwise and pulling back up.

Skysong has slept once or twice, never for long. Otherwise she’s been quietly marking her bedding with saltwater. Humans think it is disgusting to use urine to do it, but it’s fine as long as the salty water comes from their eyes. They are truly strange and lost creatures.

Eventually you have to very subtly tell your trainer that it is time for you to mark your territory. You start by flicking tails against her wrist. Then paw her face. Accidentally. Then maybe howl a little. In her ear. Bite the ear? No. Too far. But mouthing it is not a bite. She doesn’t react except to gently swat you away when she feels your teeth. Rude. They are very good teeth. Much better than hers.

“I think she wants something,” one of the nameless humans says.

“Yeah.” Skysong starts to get up. For a nameless human! And not you! She stumbles towards the door without grabbing her white stick or asking you to go along. You go, of course, since the last time you let her out of your sight she got poisoned. Bloodrage follows, quietly at first and then more loudly once they eventually, awkwardly make their way outside.

They talk while you scream at the moon thief.

“You good?”

“Yes.”

He doesn’t seem to believe it. “Anything happen?”

“I had tea with her sister and one of her pokémon. That’s all.”

Bloodrage dramatically exhales. Quietly. Not like a scream. “Alright, who am I beating up?”

“I guess I should say I’m sorry.”

“Uh. What? Nah, she hurt you.”

“To you. Sorry to you. I found out she had a hawlucha and… yeah, I get why you hated me.”

He doesn’t answer immediately. Just listens to you scream. Until you stop and go to mark your territory. Wait. No Eggbreath mark. Hah! She forgot to let the baby out. And you are not going to correct her.

“Thought you already apologized.”

You aren’t going to complain about a chance to stay out longer. You start exploring, Eyerock following close behind.

“Then I’m sorry again.”

He grunts. “This isn’t how you act when you’re mad. Seriously, did she hurt you? Threaten you? Because if she did—”

“Don’t.” The word is almost sharp as it hangs in the air. You glance back towards them, exploration ignored. “Maybe you’re fine if your parents loved you, but if they didn’t…” Her speech breaks up into distress calls and saltwater marking. You trot back to get carry cuddles and help her feel better. She accepts your offer. Eventually Bloodrage finds a place to sit so they do, but she still holds you up to her chest.

“I—what does that mean.”

“Forget it,” Skysong mumbles. “Just go away.”

“You said that your mom is a pro trainer, right? Did you run into her or—”

“She’s fucking dead, Kekoa.”

He goes quiet for a long time. “Anything else I should know?”

Cuicatl laughs. Joylessly. Not quite like the bone-human’s terrible, mocking laugh. But not like her usual ones. “You mean ‘what else are you lying about,’ right?”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

Again, humans are bad liars. It was only a matter of time before Skysong’s were revealed, even by a particularly dumb and angry human.

“Not much,” Skysong says. “She was a pro battler. She did leave me—well, my dad,” her heartrate abruptly picks up with the correction, “a hydreigon. Just… please leave.” Her voice breaks down to almost a whisper at the end and more saltwater starts to flow. “Please?”

Bloodrage gets up, even takes a few steps towards the fire-type pokémon lighting up the doorway, before he abruptly stops. “Really, though, who should I beat up?”

“My teacher…” Skysong sits you down in her lap and gives you a quick headpat. “She has a monster bird. Please don’t attack her.”

“Monster… bird… Fuck. Did it talk to the dead, or use their voices or—”

“Yeah.”

“Oricorio. Listen, Cuicatl Ichtaca, whatever it said—they’re liars. Horrible liars. I thought about getting one, once, but then I started reading about what they do to people and—just don’t listen to it, okay? It wasn’t your Mom speaking.”

Skysong says nothing. She barely reacts at all.

“Cuicatl—”

“Go. Away.”

It’s practically a bark with fangs bared. One final warning to leave her territory before a fight starts. She couldn’t back the threat up by herself, but you’re there so it is a very serious one.

“I… fine.” And he finally leaves.

“He wasn’t lying,” Skysong mutters once the door slams shut. “If he was, it would hurt but I’d deal. He wasn’t. Everything he said was…”

Him? Dead people? Oh.

“The brother you think you killed?” The whole thing is silly. Not only did she not kill her brother, but even if she had she shouldn’t feel bad about it.

“Did kill.”

“No, you didn’t.” You really are going to have to do more to train her. If she lies in bed all day because she’s sad about something she shouldn’t be sad about, then you will get fewer walks. And that’s terrible. “He got poisoned or a cut got runny or,” you stretch out and yawn despite yourself, “something like that.” You barely remember what, exactly, happened, just that she was being particularly strange during that talk. Said that she’d killed someone when she hadn’t. Said that she would never leave you. All lies, even if it sounded like she believed them.

One small detail does surface, though, because you do have a very good memory.

“Your brother asked you not to tell people he was hurt?” It makes sense. Don’t want to appear weak. Become prey.

“Yeah…”

“So how is it your fault?”

“I miss him,” she says, even though it isn’t an answer. “And…” she trails off for long enough that you start to doubt she will continue. Your gaze drifts back up the sky, dark and scarred. Maybe a bird flies under one of the cracks. Or a cloud. Or a giant metal human bird. “If one of us had to die, it shouldn’t have been him.”

Now she’s making absolutely no sense. Are more than just her eyes defective? She is alive. The living are supposed to survive. It’s their entire purpose. And in any case… “No. If you had died instead I wouldn’t have met an almost adequate servant.”

“Almost?” There’s some lightness in her voice. That’s usually good. “Just ‘almost’ good enough?”

“You will leave me.”

“No, I won’t,” she lies. “Come on. Let’s go back inside.”

She never did let Eggbreath out. At least that is victory.

*​

Human stories are incredibly weird. To start with, there are a lot of them and they name them weird things. Like “Finneon’s Wake.” And then they have pokémon talk like humans. They are also visual stories and now there’s nothing to see anymore. But you’re very smart so you can follow along.

A male fish pokémon mates with a female and lays eggs. Then a predator attacks and the mate and all the eggs but one are destroyed. Are you supposed to hate the predator? From the way the sparkslinger’s human reacts you think so. Why? Humans eat fish. Lots of things eat fish. Fish taste good. Where do humans think the fish comes from? And if they hate hunting so much, how do humans always have so much to eat?

The male raises his one child all by himself. This is apparently a big deal. For humans, maybe. One ninetales can raise seven kits perfectly fine with only four or five dying. Eventually the fish child gets kidnapped by humans because fish are very dumb and do dumb things. The human story at least gets that right.

This is boring. Much worse than vulpix stories. You curl up, head resting among your tails, and go to sleep.

[10:23:20]​

Skysong pats her belly and Eggbreath jumps up. She somehow ignores your very formidable hiss and plops herself down in front of you to receive the scritches that are rightly yours. “Alright, ready to record. Pixie, could you be quiet for just a little bit?”

You scream in protest but eventually quiet down and curl up near her feet. Fine. If that’s what she wants. You’ll comply. For a little bit. It’s more fun if you scream when she isn’t expecting it, after all.

Skysong talks to no one at all, which is particularly weird. Occasionally she’ll do a growl, explain what the lizard talk allegedly meant, and then have Eggbreath repeat it. It’s all meaningless. “What are you doing?” you finally ask.

{My voice is being recorded. It will help other people learn how to talk to dragons.}

“That’s stupid. Who would want to talk to stinky, scaly things? They should talk to foxes. We have much more interesting things to say.” In fairness to her, she actually puts her rock down and tells Eggbreath to get off of her. “That… might not be a bad idea? A lot of people have ee—vulpix.” But her mistake was made. You loudly correct her. It would be better to learn lizard speak than to talk to eevee. They have nothing to say but lies.

“Of course, of course. Let me just check… Search: Fox language translate psychic.” You hear her reach for something and when the sound does play again it’s quiet. She finally sets the rock down after a very long conversation. And you don’t even here her say ‘eevee’ once. “It’s been done. Sorry, Pix.”

That makes sense. Humans should have figured out talking to vulpix first.

“But I guess… I could make it a book of myths. I talked to the talonflame a few days ago. And Alice and Renfield told me a lot of stories. With some from you and Noci… I think it could work.”

“Myths?” You think you know what she’s talking about but… not quite. That happens a lot when talking to humans. But not with her.

“Old stories. Where ninetales came from. How the world was made. Why eevee are the worst.”

Oh! Ancestor stories. Avalanche told you many. And Skysong should know them since they are very important. But she wants to know them. That means you can get stuff from her.

“I want fish.”

“Can’t give you a finneon, Pix.” She starts petting you. You lean into it, of course, but that will not be enough to bribe you. “Maybe a fresh magikarp tomorrow, if we catch one. Would that be nice?”

Hmm. Can you get more?

“And an egg.”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

Not a promise. You need more. “And a long walk.”

“When the light comes back.”

“But it will be hot then!”

“Long night walk? Or in a cave?”

She’s negotiating down. You’re at the limit of what you can get, probably. You’ll take your fish and egg and night walk.

*​

Long ago and across the sea, one clan of humans torched the city of another clan as humans are wont to do. In the blaze, the nest of the Rainbow God was burned. As the Rainbow God descended to survey the damage, he found the bodies of three foxes who had ran into the temple to pray to the Rainbow God to spare the pokémon who had played no part in the calamity. But they had gone unheard: the Rainbow God had been too focused on the burning building to hear their prayers. He was filled with shame and revived them into beings so powerful they would never again live in fear of humans.

Generations passed as the Rainbow God aimlessly wandered the skies of the world, refusing to nest again in the world of humans. Eventually his flights led him back to his old temple. There he found many foxes like the ones who he had revived years before. He cast a shadow shaped like a fox and descended. He asked the foxes why they stayed in the ruined temple.

The matriarch answered. “To keep the grave of our ancestors safe and await the return of the Rainbow God, so that we might thank him for his kindness.”

The Rainbow God was moved to reveal his true form. As the foxes looked on in awe, he gave his response to the matriarch.

“For your devotion and service, I will bless you and set you apart from the other foxes. You will be my emissaries and guardians, protecting humand and pokémon alike and enforcing the will of the gods.”

Ashes poured from the god’s wings and became bound to the foxes, transforming them from ordinary eevee into majestic ninetales.

*​

A clan of humans engaged in an expedition of discovery. To ensure they stayed in the good graces of The Worldtraveler they brought along a family of ninetales to transmit their prayers and pass on the word of the gods. They arrived on the shores of a new land after many moons at sea.

Alongside the humans the ninetales went from island to island, meeting each guardian in turn. The island gods received the ninetales warmly and each conferred a small blessing unto them. The Sea Guardian gifted them control of the weather itself. The Thunder Guardian gifted them even longer and more beautiful fur. The Mind Guardian gifted them some of her great wisdom. The Earth Guardian gifted them even greater longevity.

After receiving the gift of the Earth Guardian on the largest island, the ninetales were summoned to the top of the world to meet The Moon. The goddess was so impressed by the stories, devotion and wisdom of the ninetales that she became jealous of the Rainbow God. She decided that she must have the foxes for her own. After luring the ninetales to sleep, The Moon cast a spell on them and extinguished their flames. Cold, cold ice was left in its place. The foxes could never again tolerate a long voyage across the warm seas. Instead they were bound to the mountain and could never leave her for long.

To this day the ninetales honor their covenant with the Rainbow God to guide humans and pokémon and protect the sacred mountain of the Moon. For even if she is a jealous god, she is a god nonetheless.

So your mother told you as her mother told her.

*​

Eggbreath slams her tail down. “Unfair! Mother told you stories but not me!”

What? Why would your mother have told—oh. She thinks you’re her sister. As if something as ugly as her could be related to you.

Skysong ruffles the foul-smelling and ugly feathers on Eggbreath’s neck. “I’ll tell you some, then. Let’s start with… The Split Gods.” The story is entirely in lizard talk. Not that you care. It’s a lizard story. There’s no way it’s as good as fox stories. Just hearing it might make you dumber.

[12:11:30]​

You’re woken up by an insistent chittering somewhere above you, punctuated by an occasional spark of electricity. What? It sounds like Bloodrage’s stupid bug he’s been letting stay out and around his stupid fur-raising stone. But why the sparks?

“I heard you,” Skysong mutters. “And I’ll tell him.”

“Wha…” Bloodrage mutters from his bunk.

{Your grubbin would like to talk to you.} The sound is faint. Just a tiny echo in the back of your mind you could ignore if you wanted to. You know that she has a link between you, her, and Eggbreath. Most of her messages to other people are sort of hearable, though. Of course, you won’t tell Skysong that; it could make for useful spying in the future. {He says he’s close to evolution. He wants you to let him go now so he can bury himself.}

One fewer pokémon! Excellent! You never liked that bug to begin with. But Bloodrage’s heart is beating faster and his breathing starts to sound almost angry. If breath can be angry.

{Tell him that he’d be safer with me watching over him until he evolves again.}

{I tried.} Skysong sighs, aloud, and the rise and fall of her chest carries you with it. {But he doesn’t like you or your trumbeak.}

A trumbeak is a bird that pecks far too hard and you hate it. Actually, why can’t he just get rid of the bird and keep the bug?

{Tell him again.}

Skysong goes silent for a little bit. Then the bug starts chattering again, much louder, and apparently moving upwards. Then the chatter stops at once and you think you can see a hint of red in the air. Ha. It got sucked into its ball and now you can sleep in peace.

{Can we go outside so that I can talk to him? You can repeat the words to translate.}

Never mind.

“Kekoa, can we just… not?” Skysong sounds exhausted, even for someone who just woke up.

Bloodrage considers this for a long, long time. Long enough that Skysong is already mostly asleep by the time he answers.

“Fine.”

[12:14:51]​

“Do you still want to talk about earlier?” Skysong asks as you and Eggbreath finish marking your territory.

Earlier? “About what?”

“Going places on your own.”

Right. You are very angry about that. “I’m better than Eyerock and should be able to go wherever she goes! And she’s a rock! Rocks are dumb! Foxes are smart! Get rid of the rock!”

Your trainer sighs and pats her lap. Eggbreath jumps up on one side of the bunch and you jump onto the other. No. Bench is yours. You scream at her and Skysong flinches but Eggbreath just keeps doing happy pants before giving a pathetic baby roar of her own. “Quiet down, please.”

“Her first.”

“Roar match!” Eggbreath starts screaming again before Skysong withdraws her to her ball.

“You are her older sister,” Skysong says. “You could set a better example.”

“Don’t want sisters.”

“I get that. But we’re at three. I can have six. And having a pokémon that can teach other pokémon to behave would be good to have on a team. Irreplaceable, even.”

If you won’t be replaced no matter what, why would you need to make yourself irreplaceable?

“I want to go on my own,” you repeat.

She drums her claws next to you. “Later. It’s not safe now.” You start to calmly voice your disagreement before she very rudely cuts you off. “Noci’s made of metal. There’s not much that can hurt her. I care about you and don’t want you hurt. But when the light comes back—”

Right. It’s time to scream at the sky again.

Skysong patiently waits for you to finish. When you’re done you jump back onto her lap and she continues.

“When the light comes back and we get some more training in, I’ll let you wander around the campsite while we travel. Even at night, if you want. Unless the area is so dangerous that I need you nearby to protect me.” She scratches your ears and you lean into it because she’s learned how to do it just right. “I need you to protect me right now. Please.”

Her scratches makes a very good argument. One that you can accept for now.
 
Last edited:

OldschoolJohto

Never not editing
Pronouns
She/Her
Partner
solrock
Ancestor Stories
👀

Most importantly, you scared the eevee away for good! It even brought its human with it!
A hilariously bad interpretation of Genesis’ departure.

If only because the moon went out as well and she is second to only the rainbow god. First you will have to figure out who ate the sun.
Missing commas after well and first, I believe.

There are streams of light zig-zagging across the sky like cracks on a pain of ice.
Pane*
But cool visual.

The shelter she is in is very crowded, forcing her to share a room with three other humans you do not know.
I feel like acknowledging the shelter is crowded is too generous for Pixie. I feel like she ought to just complain about too many strange new humans scrëm, scrëm.

Fox breath smells much better than the wind outside.
Because of Eggbreath, I thought this was a name at first.

Eyerock is somewhere else right now. You know that Skysong prefers her as a guide just because she is warm, floats, doesn’t sleep, can see in total darkness, and immediately obeys all orders without question.
I think these two sentences could transition into each other a little better. But also LOL.

Skysong can’t even see that Eyerock is ugly, even by rock standards.
Sad rock sounds.

Life is good.

[09:15:49]​
Life is terrible.
Hahaha.

Message from: VStar. Read it: Yes or No?”
👀

But, like her other ‘missions’ she will not let you eat the fish.
Might be nice to phrase it like “she says she won’t let you eat the fish”—imply that Pix is thinking loudly and Cuicatl sees where it’s going.

I should probably talk to Kekoa about that,”
I was confused what this was about.

Bloodrage sighs dramatically. “I’m under thirty. I don’t call people if I can help it.
The “I’m under 30” joke felt too old for him to me. But oof at dysphoria.

He says some meaningless and unimportant things to someone who isn’t ther2e before lying back down with a thump.1
*An thump

She has not left her bed since she got back from the bird-smelling human.
I wasn’t sure if this entire chapter came after the oricorio episode or just these scenes.

Yeah.” Skysong starts to get up (for someone that doesn’t even deserve a name!)
Suggestion: (not for you—for some human you haven’t bothered to name!)
For clarity.

He grunts. “This isn’t how you act when you’re mad. Seriously, did she hurt you? Threaten you? Because if she did—”
Awww, Kekoa.

Monster… bird… Fuck. Did it talk to the dead, or use their voices or—”
How did he guess so accurately???

It’s practically a bark with fangs bared. One final warning to leave her territory before a fight starts. She couldn’t back the threat up by herself, but you’re there so it is a very serious one.
Pix protecc too!!

She is alive. The living are supposed to survive. It’s their entire purpose
👀!!

Finneon’s Wake.”
🤔

with only four or five dying.
LOL

ran into the temple to pray to the Rainbow God to spare the okémon
oops

transforming them from ordinary eevee into majestic ninetales.
LOL

Roar match!” Eggbreath starts screaming again before Skysong withdraws her to her ball.
Hahaha. That one will be fun when they evolve. Cue saliva spraying Pix, the wind flapping her cheeks.

Overall—cute chapter, as we expect from Pix. The scene dealing with Cuicatl avoiding processing the oricorio chapter with Kekoa and Pix was my favorite part. I was craving an acknowledgement that it’s bonkers that V Star is continuing business as usual. Cuicatl too, actually—just continuing on and getting a teacher. Looks like Cuicatl was serious about her project though! She calls herself lazy but she sure does stick to something when she sets her mind to it.
 

Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
Finally, a chapter from a character who's actually important!

That said . . . Pix is always fun, but I had some trouble squaring this chapter with the tone of her last POV chapter. She was really in crisis, last time we were in her head, way back in, wow, 2.1. And I know in 2.5 she and Cuicatl sort of talk things out and make a deal, but that's from Cuicatl's POV and I got the sense that it wasn't a cure-all. But Pix seems very fine in this chapter? Maybe it's just that things are going her way with the departure of the grass eevee, which she totally caused, but the tone felt oddly light and a lot of the Pix mannerisms felt a little exaggerated, almost a parody. I'm not sure we really moved anywhere with her internally in this one, or moved with anyone else either--the reprise of the dead brother conversation felt a little perfunctory to me. The background events we got filtered through her POV--Cuicatl's oricorio aftermath, Kekoa having pokemon trouble and trying to be a good friend--felt pretty muted and not like they were benefiting much from the second-hand. The structure of the chapter was also a bit odd. Last chapter happens midway through, here, and then we go into the myths? I stan myths whenever, wherever, but I did feel like the myths were a bit dropped in--they didn't feel like they had too much relevance to the chapter itself, and they weren't a large enough portion of the chapter to make the chapter feel like it was about Pix telling myths. Overall, it felt like the scenes in this one were a bit strung together, and not quite adding up into a sum greater than the parts.

Much has happened in the last few days.

Most importantly, you scared the eevee away for good! It even brought its human with it!

Also! It is cold! Not as cold as the mountain, but much better than normal!
Love Pix perspective, but whew, that is a lot of exclamations.

Oh, and the sun went out. You should probably be more concerned about that. If only because the moon went out as well and she is second to only the rainbow god. First you will have to figure out who ate the sun. Skysong said it was “a neckrazema.” It is somewhere in the sky. You will screm at the necrazema until it gives the moon back. And maybe also the sun. That seems like another thing you should ask for.
So the moon is a god, but not the sun? Or just that the moon is the only relevant god?

The shelter she is in is very crowded, forcing her to share a room with three other humans you do not know.
More importantly, forcing Pix to share a room with rando humans.

One has a fluffy sparkslinger. You got Eggbreath to see it as food and after two (failed) hunts, she’s now in her ball and away from Skysong almost all the time.
Very cunning, good job Pix.

Fox breath smells much better than the wind outside.
Maybe, "Fox breath would smell much better than the wind outside."

Life is good.

[09:15:49]​
Life is terrible.
Hah! Though I was surprised by how breezy and happy Pix is at the moment.

who isn’t ther2e before lying back down with a thump.1
Don't you mean an th--crap, OSJ beat me to it.

“The screen’s kind of dim, even after I got used to all dark all the time, but I think I can make a movie night work.”

“Can the others watch it? They’re already scared, so if it’s one of those movies—”

“It isn’t.”

“Good.”
This kind of trails off.

Otherwise she’s been quietly marking her bedding with saltwater. Humans think it is disgusting to use urine to do it, but it’s fine as long as the salty water comes from their eyes.
Truly revolutionary point from Pix here. One of my favorite observations of the chapter.

“I think she wants something,” one of the nameless humans says.

“Yeah.” Skysong starts to get up (for someone that doesn’t even deserve a name!)
Pix calling out the NPCs, lol.

Humans are bad liars, but you thought they were all too dumb to catch lies so they all thought they were very clever.
This reads a bit muddled.

“Go. Away.”

It’s practically a bark with fangs bared. One final warning to leave her territory before a fight starts. She couldn’t back the threat up by herself, but you’re there so it is a very serious one
Nicely described.

“Almost?” There’s some lightness in her voice. That’s usually good. “Just ‘almost’ good enough?”

“You will leave me.”

“No, I won’t,” she lies.
Hm, this feels kind of perfunctory? Pix really doesn't seem to believe it right now.

Like “Finneon’s Wake.”
🤦‍♀️

A male fish pokémon mates with a female and lays eggs. Then a predator attacks and the mate and all the eggs but one are destroyed. Are you supposed to hate the predator? From the way the sparkslinger’s human reacts you think so. Why? Humans eat fish. Lots of things eat fish. Fish taste good. Where do humans think the fish comes from? And if they hate hunting so much, how do humans always have so much to eat?

The male raises his one child all by himself. This is apparently a big deal. For humans, maybe. One ninetales can raise seven kits perfectly fine with only four or five dying. Eventually the fish child gets kidnapped by humans because fish are very dumb and do dumb things. The human story at least gets that right. Then the father fish meets another fish and they set out to rescue their child.

That… that feels nice. Maybe if one of your siblings die Avalanche will do that for you.

They fight fish with teeth, big fish with teeth, really big fish without teeth, and fish that are jelly but not fish (or so Skysong says (with her mind after having the nerve to shush you)). They seem to run away from everything because fish, unlike foxes, are very weak. Even their screams do not scare predators away like yours would. You aren’t sure how fish have survived this long.

In the end, the fish son gets together with the fish father and the other fish is just kind of there. Humans seem to love stories that end well. You’ve never seen the point. Most stories end poorly. Especially the useful ones. Why would they ignore that?
Not in love with pokemon describes a movie, part two. And it doesn't seem to have much impact on Pix's thoughts as relates to her family? The thought about Avanlanch seems a lot more passive and hopeful than Pix has sounded in the past--I thought her attitude was more, I am going to return and show I am the best, than, oh maybe Avalanche will come get me (even if that's what she secretly wants.)

Oh! Ancestor stories. Avalanche told you many.
Love that she calls them ancestor stories instead of myths.

spare the okémon
Typo

transforming them from ordinary eevee into majestic ninetales.
Fox supremacy myth, huh.

He was filled with shame and revived them into beings so powerful they would never again live in fear of humans.

Generations passed as the Rainbow God aimlessly wandered the skies of the world, refusing to nest again in the world of humans.
protecting people and pokémon alike
People and pokemon formulation strikes me as odd when humans are referred to as humans other places. Also, the reversal seems pretty sudden from humans being the villains of the story to being the ones who need protection?

Instead they were bound to the mountain and could never leave her for long.

To this day the ninetales honor their covenant with the Rainbow God to guide humans and pokémon and protect the sacred mountain of the Moon. For even if she is a jealous god, she is a god nonetheless.
Kind of contradictory mandates there. Which, sure, it is a myth. I guess these myths feel more to me like background flavor, but in a chapter with not much else going on, I keep wanting to read more character relevance into them.

There’s no way it’s as good as fox stories. Just hearing it might make you dumber.
A very legitimate concern!

{Tell him that he’d be safer with me watching over him until he evolves again.}

{I tried.} Skysong sighs, aloud, and the rise and fall of her chest carries you with it. {But he doesn’t like you or your trumbeak.}
👀 at this. Kekoa really does not seem to be down to respect his pokemon's autonomy. Not sure he deserves the apology Cuicatl gave him about sacred pokemon.

“I get that. But we’re at three. I can have six. And having a pokémon that can teach other pokémon to behave would be good to have on a team. Irreplaceable, even.”

If you won’t be replaced no matter what, why would you need to make yourself irreplaceable?
Yup. Cuicatl's being pretty sloppy with her reassure-Pix wording this chapter--understandably, with brother trauma and all. But once again, there's not much reaction from Pix here?

Right. It’s time to scream at the sky again.

Skysong patiently waits for you to finish.
Big lol here.

Her scratches makes a very good argument. One that you can accept for now.
I kind of feel like we spent this chapter in stasis. Felt more like a recap in Pix voice than a progression, per say.
 
Flying 3.6 New

Persephone

Pokémon Trainer
Pronouns
her/hers
Flying 3.6: Left on Read
Kekoa

[12:17:41]​

There’s a pier near the naval base that stretches out all the way to the reef. Ordinarily it would be filled with life and bathed in sunlight at this time of day. Today it’s eerily quiet, the only sound coming from the raindrops and another VStar group or two fishing in the darkness. You shiver and adjust your raincoat. You weren’t packing for cold weather when you left the orphanage. What cold weather clothing you could find for sale seemed far, far more expensive than you would expect. Double-layering shirts helps, but your arms are only covered by a flimsy raincoat and a thin sweater.

The temperature keeps dropping every day.

You wonder how the forests will come out of this. Two weeks with no sunlight and constant cold. Which grass-types will survive? Which won’t? What of the bugs and birds that didn’t evolve for the cold? Hekeli demands to come inside as soon as she’s shit and Makani… well, apparently Makani hates you. If Cuicatl is to be believed. You still aren’t sure about that.

Maybe it’s her power lust coming through. All three of her pokémon are powerhouses. Tyrantrum and metagross (because of course she’s going to evolve the damn thing, whatever she promises you) are some of the strongest pokémon to ever live. Keokeo are full of tricks and masters of hailstorms. If Makani leaves you, it might go to her. Then she’d have another nuke in her arsenal.

And she’s unstable now because of the oricorio. Hurt. Maybe lashing out and hurting you to feel better herself. It makes sense; you imagine that the encounter really, really sucked for her. Hearing your parents berate you would be… it would be something. There would be bad feelings, of course, but at least you’d be reminded what they sounded like.

Did Jabari keep home videos? He had to have, right? Somewhere. No way he threw those away when he enlisted since, you know, his parents had just died. But if you asked for them there would be strings attached. It would look like you were just fine with him sending you to foster care for years just because he was sorry enough to give you shit that was rightfully yours anyway. And also a tyrunt. You wonder if he knows that you gave it away. Probably. He does work for VStar and Cuicatl has been talking to them about her Five. Someone probably caught on and told your brother. But at least he hasn’t shown himself recently. Just a text asking if you were alright. He got a one-word answer before you blocked him.

Cuicatl starts reeling something in. She says that she’d never fished before (“not with a rod, anyway,” whatever that means), but she can at least reel it in well enough. You still have to cast because you don’t have an idea how to explain it to her in the dark. Not that you’re that good without being able to see what you’re doing.

She lifts up the pole and Pix starts growling. Cuicatl sighs and hauls the fish onto the pier where it starts madly flapping. “Magikarp.” A red flash briefly illuminates the docks. “Coco, Pix, you want it?” There’s increasingly frantic thrashing sounds, the faint light of sparks, and the smell of ozone before the fish goes still. Cuicatl hands you the rod to cast again as her pokémon start devouring their lunch.

You would complain. Gyarados get testy when too many magikarp are captured in one place. But that’s the first one she’s had killed today. And the last one slashed your hand up pretty good while you tried to hold it down so she could get the hook out. Probably should’ve just captured it with a spare ball and released it into the water, but pokéballs aren’t free and neither of you has a clue how long you’ll be out here.

Once you’ve cast, you hand the rod back to her. She continues to sit in silence, although Coco gets withdrawn as soon as the munching sounds stop. One thing you didn’t consider is that your part of the dock smells like fish blood now, and probably will until the rain washes it all into the ocean. Then it might scare away the finneon. Great. Just great.

“Can’t believe they’re having us work during The Blackout,” you mutter, more to fill the quiet than anything.

“What else were we doing?” Cuicatl asks. “Might as well make money.”

“It’s fucking dark outside. Pitch. Black. Dangerous to walk in.”

A gust of wind blows a splatter of water into the side of your raincoat. Pixie hisses beside Cuicatl.

“Kekoa, I don’t really… see the problem there.”

Ugh. Stupid puns. “Yeah, well, you’ve been prepping for this for years. Most of us are still tripping over our feet.”

She giggles. Giggles. “It is fun to listen to. And everything is so much easier to use now. I wouldn’t mind if this went on for a bit.”

“And froze out the fucking forests? And your precious dragons?”

“This is why dragons mastered fire, Kekoa. It makes winters much easier.”

“Not your country burning down.”

She sighs, barely audible over the waves and raindrops. There’s a tug on your fishing pole so you have a convenient excuse to end the argument. Even if it gets away halfway through and you have to put on new bait. The pole is just being loaned for free, but you did have to pay for the bait. Paying to work during a slow-motion Sootopolis. Imagine that.

“I don’t know why you’re mad at me,” Cuicatl says when you sit back down. That’s probably a lie. She’s a fucking mindreader. “Doesn’t work like that,” she mutters, confirming that it does, in fact, work like that.

Why are you mad at her? Because she’s trying to take your powerhouse away. Makani hadn’t been spitting in your face as much, you bought her a thunder stone (which blew through most of your savings right at the start of an indefinite crisis), and then out of nowhere she just turns on you again.

“Makani.”

“I thought you wanted me to respect the pokémon here. But it’s fine for you to ignore them, then?” She sounds more tired than angry, but there is a spark of defiance in her voice. The kind that typically precedes someone getting mad. Had to learn that shit when dealing with orphans and state-stolen kids with more issues than you.

The answer to her question is simple enough. “Foreigners keep coming here to catch grubbin and get themselves a vikavolt. Got so bad that they almost went extinct on this island.” VStar was a big part of that. It was the first thing you learned about them as a kid and if you didn’t need to kick out the imposter queen you would want nothing to do with them. “But they’re our birthright. One of our strongest weapons against the occupiers, and they’re just stealing them. If I abandoned her, she’d probably fall into one of their hands.”

The imposter queen herself has one. That will not help the desire overseas to steal every last one of them from your people.

“Even if that’s…” Pixie cuts her off with a series of barks. “Alright, alright.” A flash of red light briefly illuminates her silhouette. “Sorry, she doesn’t like the rain. Just. I’m only telling you what she told me.”

“You’re a telepath. Can’t know what you said to her to make her attack me.”

“Kekoa,” her voice is much, much harder than before. “You don’t trust me at all, do you?”

“I—” Do you? She’s going through a lot right now, and you’ve insulted her dead brother and mom. It’s natural that she’d want revenge. Still, you’ve been traveling with her for three months at this point. You’d trust her not to poison you. To keep you safe. But for Makani to just turn on you… you’re not a bad trainer. A bad person. You were making progress.

“Second, I really thought you cared about pokémon. More than I do. Set rules on me for what I could and couldn’t do. But… I don’t know anymore. You get mad that your grubbin wants to leave. Won’t really parent Coco.” Because she’s a dinosaur. A very cute dinosaur that you’ll take on walks or cuddle, but not your child. Besides, she’s Cuicatl’s pokémon. “And then that movie a few days back. You like it, right? But it’s about how it’s bad to capture wild finneon. But you’re here doing that, now. I just don’t get it.”

The finneon capture is necessary because you need money to take back your kingdom. Makani is necessary because you need power to take back your kingdom. And they’re your people’s pokémon. Your birthright. The ancient kings hunted. The island challenge has been going strong for centuries with many kings and kahunas using vikavolt. Besides…

“You’re here, too. Just let a magikarp get shocked to death and eaten. And if Coco asked to leave, would you let her?”

Another bite on your line. She doesn’t respond as you reel it in, taking a moment to let out Hekeli as the fish gets close. It flops onto the pier, flopping wildly but not as much as a magikarp. The flashlight shows—finneon. It can’t really move too well with a hook in its mouth. Its water guns are sloppy. The hardest part is having Hekeli hold back enough that it doesn’t get too badly hurt.

You don’t think about the finneon having a family. A movie studio made that story up. Finneon are dumb. And you’d eat them if they tasted better. Your ancestors would have eaten them, too. It’s fine that you’re doing this.

“Got the first finneon,” you tell Cuicatl.

“Kekoa, I’m a predator,” she says. Probably to answer your last question. And for a moment you’ll pretend that the tiny blind girl that needs help casting for fish could be a predator. “I was practically raised by one. And predators can tolerate prey. Respect them. But the predators will starve if they do not eat the prey. If I need to catch finneon or kill magikarp to feed myself or my pokémon, I will. That’s how nature works.” Sometimes you have to drown someone else to stay afloat. You know that damn well. “And for Coco, I don’t want her to leave. I’d try to keep her happy with me. Since I’m her mother and…” She trails off. “I never really had a mother. Just scattered memories.”

“Memories?”

“Her reuniclus had some stored ones. I’ve seen a few. Enough that I love her. Miss her. Maybe understand her. But she died a long time ago. I don’t remember her myself.”

Shit. That’s way better than home videos. You would kill for that. For a tenth of that.

“But if Coco really wanted to leave, I wouldn’t try to make a dragon stay where it doesn’t want to be. That would end badly for everyone.”

It doesn’t clear up a whole lot. She sees herself as a predator. A tiny, helpless predator. {Fuck you.}

A tiny, helpless predator who polices other people’s thoughts. And seems to really, actually see her dragons—hydreigon and tyrunt—as family. That’s… strange. You’d read interviews of battlers saying stuff like that, but it was never something you really saw for yourself. That was something PR firms made up to make their clients sound like folk heroes. The orphanage had an oranguru and porygon that helped take care of the kids, sure, but you were never as close to them as you were to the humans there.

“Maybe you should talk to someone else about this,” Cuicatl mutters. “I don’t know much about your birthright.

[12:23:47]​

The rain stopped. At least you can make the call outside. If you ever make it. You’ve unlocked the phone, held your hand over the number, and watched it lock again three times now.

Kanoa.

Your childhood friend. Current trial captain. She has more important things to be doing now. Yeah, you were really, really close years ago, but you’re so different and. When you met back up outside Lush Jungle, she demanded to know where her brother had been. That. You’re better than that. You were supposed to be better than that. Unlike Jabari, you don’t just abandon family for years, whether or not you’re related by blood. And yet.

She should hate you. But she bought you lunch, gave you her number, even apologized to you when you gave her a brief version of where you’d been. And it hurts, watching her repeatedly run back to someone she should hate. Like she just doesn’t get it. But. She texts you every week or two. Your responses have been short and polite. Because as much as you want to, you can’t just yell at her until she never talks to you again. Or leave her cold. Again.

Fuck it. She probably won’t answer. Might as well.

The girl answers on the second ring.

“Kekoa! So good to hear that you’re safe.” She pauses as you steel yourself to talk. “You are safe, right?”

“Yup. Just holed up in Hau’oli. You’re the one who’s been on the front lines.”

Has she? Probably. Sounds like something they would have trial captains doing.

“It’s been rough,” Kanoa responds, a little shakily. Then joy is pumped right back into her voice. “But things are actually calming down over here. We have a little bit of light and heat again. I was worried we wouldn’t until everything was over. The volcarona refused to shine for a bit, because some kid had just tried to steal a larvesta.”

“Holy shit.” That kid’s fucking dead now, and everyone’s better off for it. If they’d actually succeeded… volcarona are emissaries of Pele and gods in their own right. A lot of people would’ve burned. “Why?”

“VStar.”

Shit. You knew they’d crashed the grubbin population and generally didn’t give a shit about the ecosystem, but poking a volcarona is low for them. How much money would they have had to offer? Several thousand. Maybe a million. Then they would’ve had to either find someone with a Class V or train one.

And if they wanted to train one, they’d have to find some kid with talent and a need to get a lot of money, fast. But uh. Cuicatl worships the sun, right? There’s no way that she’d just go and piss off a sun god or demigod or whatever volcarona are over there.

Right?

“You still there?” Kanoa asks.

“Just thinking about some stuff.”

“You work for them, right?”

“I—”

“Kind of figured between the weird island-hopping thing and, um, not really having much money. Unless your brother is paying for—”

“He very much isn’t.” You wouldn’t let him.

“Just checking.” And judging. She’s definitely judging. Fuck her. Never been through half of what you have, yet she thinks she can judge. “Look, I know you don’t want to go back. But I’ve been talking with my dad, and we think we can send you some money.”

No. If anything, you owe her. Hell, she’d be justified refusing any help you offered, just like you’d thrown away a tyrunt. You had chances to call or write and you didn’t.

“Why?”

“Because I care about you, dumbass.” She shouldn’t. She really, really— “Do you really need that spelled out for you?”

“Kanoa, I ignored you for years. Just. It’s okay to let me go.”

“Well,” she says, still sounding far too cheery. “You’re the one who called me.”

“Right. I need some advice.”

She hums for a second. Lower pitched than Cuicatl’s humming. Not quite as melodic. And when did you start being able to compare humming? “About what?”

“Pokémon stuff.”

“Well, that I can do. Ask away.”

Kanoa was raised by ranchers. Probably set to take after them once she retires from being a trial captain, another job that requires knowing shit about pokémon care. She should know this. And won’t be too biased.

“I have a grubbin.”

“I remember.”

Right. You did use that in her trial. To pretty good effect, at that. “He didn’t like me at first, but he’s been getting better. I bought a thunderstone to try and evolve him.”

“Right.”

“Then two nights ago he got really, really upset with me. Starting chittering and trying to bite me. My friend is—has a psychic-type.” Technically true, although you’re pretty sure the beldum can’t actually talk to people or pokémon with its mind. “She says that Makani, the grubbin, wants me to bury him in the woods with the thunderstone.”

“And you don’t want to?” She doesn’t sound as judgmental as you were fearing. That’s good.

“Yeah. Things were going okay and it’s dangerous out. And if he does stay with me until he evolves, I can return the thunderstone, since they don’t use them up like raichu or jolteon. I don’t see why he can’t just travel with me for a while.”

“You could just go back in a couple months to unbury the stone. I don’t think vikavolt keep them after they evolve. Hell, the DNR would prefer you do that. Keep any wild grubbin from unexpectedly evolving. Although… lemme check something.”

“Okay.” You’re pretty sure you got put on mute given the nothingness over the line. You’re vaguely upset. Kanoa jumped to the least important part. He’s safer with you and… and you need power. A lot of it.

“Still there?”

“Yeah.”

“You aren’t supposed to release charjabug on Melemele. Just have him sent over and I’ll let him out back once the darkness ends. I can rent my own thunderstone from Olivia. Maybe for free, ‘cause Liv’s a big softy. Despite being a rock trainer.” She snickers at her own joke. You wonder how many times she’s told it. Is this really the first?

More importantly: “Once the darkness ends? You sound like it’ll be soon.”

Kanoa groans on the other end. “Can you forget I said anything?”

“Soon, then?”

“They’re going to try something soon. But don’t get your hopes up. They’ve been trying shit for a while with no luck.”

Right. You’re still talking about the false queen and the colonial government. Really, you shouldn’t have any faith in them doing something helpful.

“Alright. I’ll forget you said anything. But—” You don’t have to do this. You can hang up. It’ll be fine. “I’m not really worried about the thunderstone. It’s just. Shit, I don’t know.”

“Feels bad that one of your pokémon wants to leave?” She says it softly. Almost knowingly. A little judgingly. Like she’s talking to a child.

But she’s not wrong.

“Pretty much.”

“It happens. A lot. Pokémon, even the ones that agree to go with people, usually want to go back to their own lives eventually. For bugs, a few months can be a lot of time. A year can be far too much to ask of them.”

“That’s not really it. More that there are a fuckton of haole kids who do this every year, no problem, but I can’t…” Can’t even figure out what, exactly, it is that you can’t do.

“And their pokémon hate them for it. They just don’t care.”

“Oh.” That. That makes sense. Of course their pokémon hate them.

“No one really taught you to live with the ʻāina, did they?” Kanoa half-whispers. She’s not wrong, exactly. Your mom was an accountant. You visited Kanoa’s family a lot, but that was years ago. And in the meantime, well, most of the time you were staying with haole in the cities. But once you got to the orphanage and sort of joined Team Skull you started getting lessons about the myths. You should know enough to make things work. “Don’t sweat it. Next time you’re on Akala I’ll swing by to give you some tips.”

You want to scream that you don’t need it. That this is your fucking country and you know how to live in it. How to use it against the conquerors. Plumeria and the other Skull leaders taught you the myths at the base of Lanakila. You know enough. More than the ten-year-old haole brats who waltz through your islands without having a pokémon turn against them. But she doesn’t sound angry at you. She doesn’t hate you. For some reason.

She must sense something wrong. Maybe you took too long to answer. “Again, don’t worry about it. Hanohano taught me a bunch of stuff I didn’t know over the last year.” She pauses. “Oh, he’s the totem oranguru you fought.”

“Thanks.”

You aren’t sure for what.

“Don’t—hang on.” She puts you on mute again. You pointedly do not think about anything that was just said. “Sorry, something came up over here. Take care.”

“You too.”

“Bye.”

She hangs up. Just as you’re about to lock your phone and go inside, something buzzes in your pocket. You open it up and find a new text message. On your second phone. From Plumeria.

Finally.

You told her what happened with The Gage Heiress, of course. She didn’t respond either way. Just kept you on read. Sure, she’s busy but… you don’t know just how angry she is. And now she’s talking again.

“Where are you staying rn?”

Nothing about Gage. Or Skull. Just… oh gods, she’s going to chew you out personally. Fuck.

You give her the Center you’re staying at.

She leaves you on read again.

[13:17:55]​

It’s a little hard to find places that are both warm and a little private. Thankfully, Tatty left and Mist and Titania are downstairs for lunch. You have a little bit of time to talk to Makani now.

“Hey, Cuicatl?”

She grumbles/groans something below you. Was she sleeping? Why? Its about the middle of the day. Weird time for a nap.

“You up for translating between me and Makani?”

Cuicatl yawns and you can feel the bunk bed subtly shift. One hell of a stretch, then. “Sure. Let me just…” Let me just yawn again, apparently. “So you trust me again?”

“Yeah. I talked to a friend and I don’t think you were lying. I was just… anyway, I’ll send Makani out now.”

“Go ahead.” You can imagine her eyeroll and smirk. And maybe you deserve it. Or should at least shut up and tolerate it.

You draw your legs back to you and press your back to the wall. Then you send Makani out at the other side of the bunk. Gives you some warning if he attacks.

“Hey. We need to talk.”

Cuicatl repeats your words. Makani says nothing, because he’s a fucking bug.

“Cuicatl can translate anything you want to say.” He still doesn’t take you up on the offer. “Look, I… I am going to make sure that you’re buried with a thunder stone. But—” He starts chittering and hissing.

“Calm down and hear him out,” Cuicatl says. He does, mostly, although you can still hear a slight hiss.

“But there aren’t vikavolt on this island, so I have to send you back to Akala. Where you’re from. And for that I need to wait a little while before they start shipping pokéballs between islands again. As soon as I can, I’ll send you over and a friend will let you go.”

He chirps thrice and clacks his mandibles.

“He’s okay with that, but he’ll start biting eventually if you don’t do it.”

“A lot doesn’t…” Depend on you. But how are you going to explain the situation to a bug when you barely understand it yourself? “That’s fine. I can live with that.”

{Proud of you.}

She says it like a mother talking a stubborn toddler into sharing his toys. You file it away for later, not wanting to immediately start another fight right after the last one ended. Besides, there’s still one last question you want to ask. Even though you maybe shouldn’t.

“Makani, do you hate me?”

Cuicatl repeats the question. And gets no answer. Then a lot of very harsh whistles and chirps.

“Hmm. If you could kill him with no chance of harm to yourself, would you?”

“Cuicatl—” {Please don’t put that thought into his head.}

{How would you explain hatred to an insect?}

So she looks down on bugs, too. Hypocrite.

Makani starts answering. Cuicatl pauses for a bit and you hear her shift beneath you.

“Okay. Do you wish that you’d never been captured?”

Another answer. A shorter one.

“He doesn’t hate you,” Cuicatl says. She pointedly does not translate what, exactly, Makani’s answers were. Probably not good, then.

[14:10:44]​

Your phone rings. Your second phone rings. Unknown number. You still answer it as fast as humanly possible. “Hello?”

“Hey, this is Kekoa, right?” It’s not Plumeria. No one you recognize, either. Probably a teenage girl.

“Yeah…”

“Cool, can you come down to the lobby?”

“Alright.”

You snap the phone shut and stand up, hitting your chest against Cuicatl’s damn beldum. That eager to take you, huh? You slip your shoes on, briefly panic over how dressed up you should be, and then decide that being sloppy is better than being late.

When you get to the lobby, someone waves you over. She’s Asian. About your age. Maybe you recognize her? A bunch of people slip into the background at Skull meetings. And she isn’t in uniform. Actually, her clothes look expensive, even if they’re wrinkled. She tried to wear makeup but it’s sort of a mess. Understandable given the darkness. Still, who in Skull has money? Or are the clothes stolen? No. They fit too well.

Fuck, you can’t keep putting this off. You walk over, an inkay joining the beldum behind you. She stands up and holds out a hand to shake. You do in return because might as well minimize the shit you’re in.

“Hi,” she says. “I’m Lyra. A friend of Genesis.”
 
Last edited:

OldschoolJohto

Never not editing
Pronouns
She/Her
Partner
solrock
I’ll give you some quotes first, then some overall thoughts and feelings:

The blind girl doesn’t take it; you do. Even if she doesn’t want it, maybe you can find a use.
LOL, Jesus, Kekoa.

In this instance “the blind girl” feels a little harsh and distant rather than it does like ribbing.

There’s not a flying trial right now
* There’s no

A talonflame takes off behind her once she’s through the doors. You wonder if the bird cares about the rain.
Seems like an obvious yes, which makes this wording a little funky for me.

Yeah, you’re mad at her for maybe turning Makani against you, but you’re not a monster.
Did we know he was feeling this way from a previous chapter? I get that this is what he’s been telling himself and so there’s a continuous reality from his perspective, but for me it was a little jarring. The conversation on the docks was smoother.

Which definitely does not mean ‘fine.’ But she doesn’t want to share and you’re not going to press her in public.

For once she has to guide you. She has one hand on her beldum and one clamped hard onto your elbow as she drags you along.
Two things: 1) Aww, in that first quoted sentence we can see their friendship at work a little. 2) These two passages need more of a transition.

bathed in sunlight at this time of day in the middle of the mainland winter.
“in the middle of the mainland winter” didn’t feel immediately related. For me, it muddied my mental image and added bulk to your sentence.

The temperature keeps dropping every day.

You wonder how the forests will come out of this. Two weeks with no food and constant cold.
Oof. Big yikes. Though should that be no sun or no photosynthesis instead of no food?

There’s increasingly frantic thrashing sounds and the smell of ozone before the fish goes still.
What’s causing an ozone smell here? Thunder fang???

And the last one slashed your hand up pretty good while you tried to hold it down.
Why was he holding one down???

Kekoa, I don’t really… see the problem there.”
I didn’t see the pun at first because I was so busy going, “Girl, it’s going to create food shortages and shit!”

That’s probably a lie. She’s a fucking mindreader. “Doesn’t work like that,” she mutters, confirming that it does, in fact, work like that.
🙃

you bought her a thunder stone
Later he says he rented it? Also, wait, isn’t Makani male? Am I misremembering horribly?

The finneon capture is necessary because you need money to take back your kingdom. Makani is necessary because you need power to take back your kingdom. And they’re your people’s pokémon. Your birthright. The ancient kings hunted. The island challenge has been going strong for centuries with many kings and kahunas using vikavolt. Besides…

“You’re here, too. Just let a magikarp get shocked to death and eaten. And if Coco asked to leave, would you let her?”
Yes, Kekoa. Don’t contemplate your hypocrisy—just deflect.

Since I’m her mother and…” She trails off. “I never really had one. Just scattered memories.”
I thought this referred to tyrunt at first, not mothers.

A tiny, helpless predator who polices other people’s thoughts.
Wasn’t sure why the italics where on that half of the sentence.

“Holy shit.” That kid’s fucking dead now, and everyone’s better off for it. If they’d actually succeeded… volcarona are emissaries of Pele and gods in their own right. A lot of people would’ve burned. “Why?”
Love the dribbles of lore! Though I wasn’t sure how literally to take the kid dying. Is K guessing, or????

Then they would’ve had to either find someone with a Class V.

Or train one.

Find some kid with talent and a need to get a lot of money, fast. But uh. She worships the sun, right? There’s no way that she’d just go and piss off a sun god or demigod or whatever volcarona are over there.
This does mimic how people’s thought processes work, but it was a little hard to parse.

And when did you start being able to compare that?
This feels incomplete.
*compare that to anything?

Hell, the DNR would prefer you do that. Keep any wild grubbin from unexpectedly evolving.
I like this bit of world-building! I kept thinking Do Not Ressusitate though.

“It happens. A lot. Pokémon, even the ones that agree to go with people, usually want to go back to their own lives eventually. For bugs, a few months can be a lot of time. A year can be far too much to ask of them.”
👀 Yessss. I mean, nooooo, but this was well-addressed.

“That’s not really it. More that there are a fuckton of haole kids who do this every year, no problem, but I can’t…” Can’t even figure out what, exactly, it is that you can’t do.
I’m surprised she didn’t just fire back and tell him, “Yeah, dude, and those kids’ Pokémon hate them, too. They Just don’t care.”

[Where are you staying rn?]
Wasn’t sure why the brackets, but that’s personal taste.

“Hi,” she says. “I’m Lyra. A friend of Genesis’s.”
👀 So she’s with Skull?!?!???!!!! Also “a friend of Genesis’s” is a mouthful.

Woof, okay! I enjoyed seeing Kekoa start to grapple with how his pokémon feel about him ... even if he seems not quite ready to face the music yet. But! Maybe! He’s trading a pokemon for revitalizing his friendship with a human.

Curious to see what “they’re trying something” will entail ...!

Also, it was sweet of birdmom to try to apologize. Maybe Cuicatl will make a friend and get her Five after all. Eventually.

Glad to see Lyra back in play during the present! Her involvement can only mean things getting messier from here—hooray!
 

Persephone

Pokémon Trainer
Pronouns
her/hers
Some quick housekeeping announcements: I have one more chapter planned and then I will go on my fall/finals hiatus. During that break, I'll release one more bonus chapter of either The Alola Pokedex or World Myth Encyclopedia. The options are Zacian, Vespiquen, Amoongus, and Dracozolt. Link in my profile, here: https://www.fanfiction.net/u/2733710/
 

TheGOAT

Banana Bomb
Location
Houston, Texas
Pronouns
Him/his
This is a story about not being okay. There will be attempts to recreate the language of downward spirals, suicidal ideation, eating disorders, , anxiety, and possibly other things. I will do my best to provide chapter warnings for chapters dealing explicitly with suicidal ideation. If there are other notices you would like me to add, feel free to ask.

Note on Representation
This story deals with analogues to real world groups, albeit through an alternate universe lens. I have personal experience with some, but definitely not all of the things this story deals with. I have tried to read enough to not make big mistakes in my knowledge gaps, but I'll probably screw up. Feel absolutely free to point out any portrayals that don't sit well or quite work. As a minor disclaimer, not all POV characters are terribly knowledgeable about things. There are some "mistakes" made that I know full well are mistakes. And also the usual "no character could possibly encompass all aspects of an identity" thing.

Character Art by OldSchool Johto
Character Art by Venonat / Surskitty

Mission One: Normal
"Times of transition are strenuous, but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal any way we want."
-Kristin Armstrong


Normal 1.1: Silver and Lead
Rachel

The room is cold and clean and empty.

You drum your fingers on the table and hear the sounds of metal being struck and all the little echoes bouncing off of the glass and the walls. It fills the room but hurts your hand; you stop and the room is empty again. You think about going back to swinging your legs and sometimes kicking the side of the chair on accident but that hurt, too.

It has been a long time since the police officers left you in here. You don’t know how long. You’re pretty good at reading clocks now, even the old ones with the moving sticks, but there isn’t one in this room.

This is maybe the longest time out you’ve ever been given.

You’re cold. You’re cold and you want to cry. You’re cold and you want to cry and you want Dad to come and hold you but he can’t because Dad’s

The door opens with the sound of metal scraping across metal.

Two police officer men walk in. Their footsteps echo on the floor and fill the room with a power that none of your sounds ever matched. They sit down across from you and the door swings shut.

One leans forward and he clears his throat. Then he presses a finger against the part of the shirt right over his heart like he’s pressing a doorbell. “This is Sergeant Rick Johnson of the Virbank City Police Department. The time is 14:29 on May 11th, 1999. Can you state your name for the record, ma’am?”

You stare at him until he clears his throat again and you realize the last part wasn’t directed at the air or his pocket, but at you.

“My name is Rachel Eliza Bell.”

You speak as clearly as you can, but your voice doesn’t come close to filling the room.

“And what’s your date of birth?”

“Um…”

“What’s your birthday?” He clarifies.

“April 16th.”

“And how old are you now?”

“Seven.”

The other officer pulls out a notepad and a pen and starts writing on it. Did you say something wrong?

“Miss Bell, do you have any idea why you’re here today?”

Dad.

You try to put words together but the officer gets bored first and speaks up.

“The department has been looking into a murder. Husband of a police officer found dead in the woods outside of town, anti-police graffiti on the trees around the area. The deceased was Marcus Bell.”

He looks you dead in the eyes for a few seconds. Was… was that a question?

“Yes,” you say.

“What was your relationship to the deceased?”

“I’m sorry—”

“How did you know Marcus Bell?”

“He’s my father.”

Everyone else keeps using past words. Was. Were. It’s… he’s still your father. Even if

“Right. Miss Bell, do you know what ‘death’ is?”

“Yes.”

Your herdier (Fluffy) was playing in the street and got hit by a car when you were six and a half. You know what death is.

The man keeps going, barely letting your tinny echoes ring out before he smothers them.

“We still haven’t found a suspect in the case. Now, your teacher says that you have an… interesting theory on the matter.” You don’t like his eyes. At all. They’re the eyes your mom has when you spill things or interrupt her while she’s on the phone. “Well, we’re here now. And we’d certainly appreciate it if you knew who did it.”

The other police officer has put the notebook down. He’s also showing you mean eyes, but… less. More like Dad’s mean eyes than Mom’s.

“Mom did it,” you whisper. It’s so quiet that there isn’t an echo at all.

“Can you speak up, miss?”

“My mom did it.”

“Your mother is Evelyn Bell, correct?”

You swallow down nothing and try not to cry. Your mom hates it when you cry and it might be a police thing.

“Your mother is—”

“Yes.”

It’s a quiet yes, but he doesn’t make you speak up again.

“She is currently an eleven-year veteran of the Virbank Police Department, correct?”

“I… I don’t know how long she’s been your friend.”

Officer Johnson sighs, rolls his eyes, and leans back into his chair.

“And why do you think Mrs. Bell killed her husband?”

You squirm in your seat. You just know. The feeling in the back of your head that tells you who took your pencil, or that Ms. Bethany thought you were annoying, or that Officer Johnson doesn’t believe you, or that the other police officer does but doesn’t care.

“Well, speak up.”

“A feeling,” you say. “In my head.”

Officer Johnson smiles. It’s very… wrong with the subject and the feelings.

“Rachel, I can’t imagine what you must be going through right now. But your mommy loved your daddy very much, and she has an alibi. Unless you have some real proof…”

He trails off. Gives you a chance to prove it to him. Which you can’t.

Even if you know that you’re right.

*​

It’s always fascinating watching the espeon eat, even after seventeen years. He nudges a treat into place with the tip of his claw, steps back, and lifts the treat just a little bit into the air. Then he pulls back his whispers and brings his mouth around it before swallowing it whole. No crumbs ever touch his fur.

With his food eaten, Espy levitates the crumbs off the desk and into the wastebasket. Then he stretches out, walks in a circle, and gracefully sits down with his tail outstretched and a paw on your hand.

{You’re tired.} he says.

“I could use a nap.”

{Mind tired.}

You pull up your schedule instead of giving him an answer.

New journey group initiation today. You should stop by that, scan for potential problems before they blow up in your face.

The governor’s having a fundraiser tonight and you’ll be there. He’s a nice man. Genuinely likes you. Has a tendency to talk a little too much when he’s lonely and just a little bit tipsy and thinks he can trust *. And given the way that things seem to be going at home and in the polls, well, he’s very lonely and probably drinking a little more than he should. And it’s your job to be likeable and trustworthy. When the public thinks of your company, they should think of their beloved sports star and hero. When the investors, reporters and politicians do, they should think of the pretty blond girl who either kind of flirted with them in just the way they liked or who gave them the kind of compliments they needed. Put a pretty face on your operation so no one ever wants to peel off the surface and look beneath.

Between the two meetings? Email. Hours of email. And maybe a quick nap, if you’re lucky.

*​

It’s an hour into orientation. Sometimes you’ll stay to watch the full thing, make sure that you know what’s being taught and how. Saves you time when the wrong person leaks the wrong thing (that they remembered wrong) and you have to figure out what really happened before you can tell the press what pretty much happened.

First few hours are nothing important, anyway. Here’s a little about Alola and the island challenge. What are tents and why should you use one? Like your food? Try not to get it stolen. Budgeting could maybe be helpful. This predator lives in these places and here is how you avoid it. The basics of life on the trail, with or without VStar.

The sensitive stuff—payment methods and tables, how to stay within the letter of capture limit laws, corporate facilities and affiliates, mortality rates, advancement paths, mission assignments, legal duties to the company—that all gets crammed in at the end.

Room’s emptier than usual. Only eight initiates, most mid- to upper-teens. It’s to be expected. October is a garbage month for starting a journey since it’s in the middle of a semester and right at the start of the rainy season. Most of your new trainers come to the April, May, and June sessions. The people who come in October are the really over-eager ten-year-olds who can’t wait to get on the trail or teenagers who can’t stay in their home a second longer.

Group isn’t bored yet. Doesn’t pay you too much mind when you sit down in a corner chair. Half of them look at you for a moment before glancing back to the presentation. One girl’s eyes linger for a little until she makes eye contact and immediately turns away.

Okay. Time to start scanning.

A lot of telepaths just read minds like a book. Or as a monitor with code shifting faster than you could ever hope to read, as a former roommate put it. Your talent doesn’t work that way. It’s more akin to sonar. Send out a wave, wait to see what image you get back. Usually it just dredges up a secret or two: the thing that there’s the most resistance to you knowing. If you really focus you can get a basic overview of their personality.

Theoretically you could have your scan bring everything back, but it’d probably take you a week to process and land you in a hospital bed for a few months. If you weren’t lucky it would land you in a coffin.

You click your tongue on the roof of your mouth (not necessary, but it helps you focus) and look at the first kid. And he is very much a kid. Ten, probably. Biggest secret is that his parents don’t want him to do this. Definitely an overeager child whose family won’t or can’t pay for the journey. No security risk, as long as someone sits him down and explains what the non-disclosure agreements mean.

Second ping. Another boy, late teens this time. Got a girl pregnant and ran away to avoid the fallout. Probably doesn’t have the money to pay for a journey and parental assistance is very unlikely. Moderate security risk. He shouldn’t be told anything really sensitive, but you’ll greenlight him.

Third kid. Girl, mid-teens… scion of one of the Big Six landowning families. Why is she even here? VStar gives structure, but it’s not the most efficient way to go on a journey. And the money can’t possibly matter to her unless she’s been exiled or she ran away.

Exile is unproblematic, although it’s the type of gossip you’d like to be aware of. If she did something bad enough that her family would bring hell down upon you for sheltering her, you would have heard what she did by this point. If she’s a runaway her family might give you endless PR and legal hell until you give their daughter back.

Supplemental scan doesn’t dig up much. Kid’s kind of flighty, kind of lonely. Cautious and kind at her core. Very recent trauma with a trail of shame before and ahead of it. And maybe something buried. Supports either theory, but her temperament makes you think she’s not a runaway. Minds like hers are allergic to rebellion.

Fourth is an addict to harder stuff than anything you’ve ever dared experiment with. Only mid-teens, too. What a waste of a life. Moderate security risk.

Fifth is female, probably native. Kleptomaniac. Old enough to have been involved in Skull back in its heyday. Very high security risk. Shouldn’t let her download the app or sit through the last hour of the presentation.

Sixth. Young girl. Probably ten, maybe eleven. And she’s… oh. Abuse. Probably getting away as soon as possible. Smart kid. You’ll look the parents up so you have blackmail at the ready if they try and take their kid back. Low security risk.

Seventh is… familiar? You try to never forget a face but it still just eludes you. By the second minute of staring he’s (she’s?) definitely noticed and you avert your gaze. Secret dredging time then. See what you missed…

Yup. You recognized her. Jabari’s little sister. And for some reason she really, really doesn’t want you to know that. Definitely need to look into that situation. Could be a high risk or a very low one. Probably shouldn’t do a further scan. Jabari might take it the wrong way.

The eighth is in her mid-teens? Early teens? Very short and still rather thin, but her features make her look a little older. Deep set eyes, angular face. Native girl, if you had to guess. Jade green hair. If it’s natural, it’s rare but not unheard of. If it’s dyed, then you need to ask her where she got it done. Kind of weird colorful dress. Probably wool Might be handmade. Big thing? She’s blind. Clouded eyes, white cane, whole deal. Can she really do this? You aren’t going to send a kid out into the woods knowing that she’ll get killed by the first predator she can’t see coming.

Still, in case you don’t rule her out, a secret scan can’t hurt.

A moment later alarm bells of panic and despair and random memories and pain rock your mind. The thoughts came back to you after the scan but it’s like they were cut up in a blender, sharpened into daggers and then launched straight back into your brain. An attack? How? She’s…

Your eyes open wider as it dawns on you. She’s psychic. Probably another telepath. Strong. And not trained in any style you’re familiar with. All that? And native? And blind? This definitely shouldn’t be the first you’ve heard of her. You like to think that you’ve met every other psychic in the commonwealth and not a one has ever brought her up.

You got her attention. She’s slowly rotating her head to survey the room with either sound or some remaining vision, her foot tapping nervously the whole time.

How do you salvage this? It’s literally never happened before, and that’s not something you can say very often these days. Thought process isn’t helped by the thrum of pain in your head, alternating sharp and dull so you never quite get used to it. You breathe deeply and send her a special ping, one with a message attached.

{Sorry. I’m Rachel. Work for VStar. Talk after this?}

Short, simple concepts. They translate best. Especially if she mostly thinks in Alolan. And it’s all you’re really capable of now after the beating you just took.

There’s not an immediate response, but you can feel her mind through the partial connection. It’s a terrible risk, leaving the connection open. If she’s a stronger telepath than you are, and you just gave her an access point to your mind… well, who knows what she could do with that. You’ve seen enough telepaths in your life that you don’t even want to imagine it.

{…hi?} You let out a sigh of relief. She’s not hostile. Not yet. {Are you human?}

You smile in spite of yourself. She might be strong, but she’s either bluffing or she has absolutely no idea what she’s doing. You could probably take her in a fight in your own mind while injured, if you had to. And it’s kind of cute; it’s fun watching the babies learn.

{Yes. I’m Rachel. Work for VStar. Talk after orientation?}

{Okay,} she shoots back almost immediately. A second passes as you ready your response. {Am I in trouble?}

{No. Want to talk.}

{Okay.}

She leans forward in her seat and sets her arms down on the table and sends no further messages. You should probably leave her now. Let her pay attention to the boring travel stuff. She, of all people, is going to need it.

*​

Your alarm goes off at 3:00 P.M. and you swear at the ceiling before awkwardly rolling over in your pop-up hammock and turning it off. It had been a ninety-minute nap (really forty-five since you replied to some emails while lying still with the lights off). And you still feel miserable. How does that work?

Well… part of that’s the mental bruising. A cold and empty memory that keeps resurfacing, feelings of panic when looking at random objects, a slight fog over everything, and random sights and sounds getting turned into metal walls and tinny echoes. Plus you have an absolutely brutal headache. You make a point of taking an aspirin, knowing that it won’t really help but hoping the placebo effect does enough to make you comfortable. Which might negate the placebo effect. Is there a placebo effect where you know that the placebo effect does make people feel better, but that it doesn’t actually do anything physically, but the thought that this might make you feel better even though it doesn’t work makes you improve anyway because you half-expect it to? A placebo placebo effect.

This definitely isn’t making your headache any better.

First things first. You text the instructor to make sure that the possible Skull defector gets kicked out before the mortality tables come up. VStar’s mortality rates are lower than the general journey-goer rates, but dead kids are dead kids and it never feels like there’s anything to say, much less anything good.

Second: a phone call. Two rings. Voicemail. Saw it but can’t or won’t answer. Understandable, since his job involves herding dragons. The room is cold and clean and empty. Focus. Deep breaths. The third ceiling tile diagonal from the corner does not want to kill you. Voicemail. You’re in your office, the year is 2019, and you are leaving a voicemail. The metal—not metal—walls have light blue wallpaper. “Hey, Jabari. This is Rachel. Call me back when you get a chance. It’s about your sister.”

Third: daughter of Ernest Gage, the spider silk magnate. That one you might have to deal with in person, or at least at the fundraiser tonight. He and his wife will probably be there. It would be rude to get the information directly on such a sensitive subject, but there will be other attendees who love nothing more than swapping secrets. The room is cold and clean

Fourth: You pull up the new trainer’s files. Abused girl is Aiko Katou. Mother is a barber, dad is a plumber. Good news is that they can’t really go after the company—the men will never believe you—Bad news is that if the family’s got nothing, they’ve got nothing to lose. Blackmail won’t do much. It might only succeed in letting them know where their daughter went. Still might try and get your hands on Why does the ceiling have teeth? By kings, this headache sucks.

Sixth: Blind girl is Cuicatl Ichtaca. From Anahuac. Fifteen years old. Here on a challenge visa. Explains how you’ve never heard of her. Didn’t report any pokémon. You’ll need to start her off slow or put her with some strong teammates for her protection, but if she’s psychic then she might be worth keeping around. If your interview checks out. Moles can be annoying; a telepathic mole could be a catastrophe of the highest order. The room is cold and. Stop. Breathe. You can’t find anything online about her and the commonwealth’s immigration services can be annoyingly leak-proof on minors, so that’s the end of that investigation. For now.

Seventh—something brushes against your leg. You look down to see Espy looking up at you, holding his leash in his mouth.

Seventh: Go outside. Take your fox on a walk. Stop thinking about work for a minute. Make new memories. Be calm. Outside is warm and dirty and open.

*​

You pull two water bottles and two packets from the refrigerator tucked under your desk and place them on the table. “Water, if you’re thirsty. I know those meetings last a while. And I put some gummies there, too. Good to eat every two hours or so. Good for your brain.”

Her hand freezes in midair right before taking the water. It’s only for a moment, and she proceeds on like nothing had happened.

“Hey, it’s fine. You can’t be responsible for things you didn’t know to do.”

She doesn’t answer that. Natural shyness? Nervousness? Poor English? You never realize how much your scans are a crutch until you find yourself without them.

“Who are you? Besides your name,” she asks.

You smile. Uselessly. Doesn’t matter either way.

“Right. I’m Rachel. I’m one of the Vice Presidents for VStar. I handle new recruits, among other things.”

“…and I’m not in trouble?”

“No. No, not at all. Just don’t get many psychics passing through. I try to meet with them individually.”

“I meant for the, um. Did I hurt you?”

Yes. Yes, you did.

“Not very much,” you say, bringing a smile into your voice. “Napped, took a walk, cleared my head. It’s fine now.” And it mostly is. Espy could help a little once he had some sunlight to power him up.

Her head dips a little. Shame, probably. “Okay. I’m sorry.”

“No, no. Don’t worry about it. I’m the one who,” time to take a drink of water and figure out how to finish that sentence without coming off wrong, “reached out to your mind first. Should have asked. Standard for new psychics.” You set the bottle down. Nailed it.

“Oh.”

Is there a polite way to ask her about her English skills? Because you don’t actually have a Nahuatl speaker in the building. That you know of. Might be a good idea to check.

“You don’t have much training with your powers, do you?”

She gently shakes her head. “No. My mom’s reuniclus taught me a little. I figured some of the rest out. Never met a psychic but my brother.”

“You grew up around pokémon, then?”

Her lips curl into a smile and she makes (near) eye contact as a hundred tiny things change in her expression. She goes from sullen and afraid to absolutely adorable in the blink of an eye.

“Yes. My mom’s team lived near the house. I took care of them. She had a reuniclus, a heatmor, a swanna, a ferrothorn, a conkeldurr,” she really is infectiously cute when she’s excited, with her kind of high pitched voice and its rapid pace, “and a hydreigon.”

Your heart skips a beat. Her face is the exact same but all of the cuteness gone.

“A hydreigon?”

“Yes! Her names are Alice, Dorothy, and Ilsa. Alice was first and is in the center so that’s her one name. But she prefers her three names.”

A wild hydreigon flew within thirty miles of the academy once and they shut down classes for a week. Parents accused them of underreacting.

“Uh huh. And, um, you took care of her? Them?”

“She likes ‘ellas.’ She doesn’t know that there’s more than one language and they have different words,” she says. As if this is just a normal thing.

“I see.”

You are very, very glad that she can’t see the color of your face right now. You know full well that your alakazam is a telepathic monster that can fry a man’s mind in seconds, but you will never, ever be comfortable with dragons. And why should you? You’ve seen one absolutely shred a tank without breaking a sweat. Do dragons sweat? You have absolutely no desire to look that up.

Focus. You need to change the subject a little. Useful information in those statements? She has a brother, but he’s presumably not here. If Cuicatl cared for her mom’s hydreigon, her mom also can’t be in the picture anymore. Or she was horribly irresponsible. Either way? Dangerous topic. She speaks Spanish and seems to have a decent grasp on English. Cuicatl said she doesn’t have any pokémon on the form. How did that happen? Did it happen? She wouldn’t be the first kid to tell a lie on their paperwork. Okay. Alice. Ellas. How did she find out that Alice liked ellas?

“Can you speak to pokémon?”

“Sometimes. Not with Alice. In her mind, at least. But we understand each other.”

“I see. What all can you do with your mind? I can tell secrets and foresee pain.”

“…secrets?”

She runs a shade paler and you can hear her foot tap against the side of the chair. Nervous tic that you share.

“Not yours. Your shielding is very good. Not trained, but effective.”

“Oh. Thank you. Renfield—reuniclus taught me that.”

That wasn’t an answer. But it does explain why it felt so much like the headaches Espy can give you when she’s really, really angry.

“Talking to pokémon is usually telepathy, then. Projecting and reading thoughts. Empathy is sensing emotions. There’s usually some overlap, but not always.”

She frowns. “I think I just have telepathy. Do people usually only have one thing?”

You shake your head. Um. Time to fix that. “Sometimes. You don’t see things before they happen? See things you shouldn’t? Move things with your mind?”

“I don’t see anything.”

Poor wording. Anne would’ve torn you a new one if she’d heard. But Cuicatl doesn’t look too offended. Even smiling, just a little. But not nearly as brightly as before.

“But you can’t do any of those things?”

“Right.”

You give her a chance to follow up. She doesn’t. Just shifts in her seat and idly taps a foot on the floor, soft enough that she probably doesn’t even know she’s doing it. Whatever rapport you built talking about her pokémon, it’s gone now. Time for another subject change.

“What brings you to Alola, then?”

“I wanted, um, to go on a journey? And Unova didn’t want to take me. I don’t have much money so a girl in the Pokémon Center said I should come here.”

There’s a shred of truth in there, but she’s an awful liar. Don’t even need your telepathy to see through that. New topic options: PsiTest scoring seems a little too close to the last question and she doesn’t want to talk about why she’s here so… old pokémon.”

“Did you bring any of your mom’s team with you?”

She freezes up. Full deerling in headlights. Shit shit shit shit abort abort abort.

“Hey its—”

“No, I didn’t.” Speech is off. Breathing is erratic. Approach and escalate? Keep quiet and seem callous? Response depends on the type of breakdown you’re seeing.

…the kid has to be alone here. Half an ocean from home, at least one parent out of the picture, apart from her pokémon for maybe the first time…

She shouldn’t have to have panic attacks alone.

You get up from your seat and move around the desk to kneel beside her. Then you put a hand on her shoulder and press down a little bit. “It’s alright,” you whisper, “we can get you new friends and a new pokémon.”

The waterworks open in full. Before you can decide if you should hug or not, Espy jumps into her lap. Kid didn’t mention owning a dog, fox, or cat, but she’s still a gentle petter. Holds out her hand for a second for Espy to sniff. Then gently pets the ears and runs her hand back in slow, light strokes.

You take the moment to think as Cuicatl’s breaths get steadier. You remove your hand from her shoulder to avoid smothering her. Homesickness? Trauma? Other mental illness? Kid needs emotional support in any case. Ideally something intelligent enough for her to talk to, social enough to cuddle, and fluffy enough to pet. Difficulty of care and bonding shouldn’t be problems difficulty of bonding if she kept herself and a hydreigon alive. Maybe something a little difficult to distract her. Eevee would work. Not big enough to be a good guide, though, even when fully evolved.



There is a pokémon that fits all of those criteria, but she’s trouble. She’d either be a silver bullet for Cuicatl’s problems or a lead bullet straight to her heart.

You put your hand back on Cuicatl’s shoulder and she flinches from the touch.

Chapter 1 Review

— I wanna open by saying that I’ve never read a story structured quite like this one. I admittedly groaned when I realized it was in second person present tense… but then I got to reading it, and you know what? Your prose and the unique pacing of the story makes it work, I think. I actually feel quite immersed when reading, which is a fantastic relief.

— Speaking of prose, I adore how blunt it can be at times. I like its brute-force simplicity.

— Kudos for easing the reader into the early revelation of Rachel’s psychic powers. Making a second person story work requires having a good grip on showing vs telling, and you’ve definitely got it. Because you opened it up with mentioning that “feeling,” it ended up being a lot less confusing than jumping straight into the telepathic conversations in the present, and made it a lot more organic than if you’d just said outright that she had powers like that.

— That brief mention of Team Skull didn’t escape me, and thank goodness for that. Brings up a lot of questions, and perhaps answers a few as well. Is it safe to assume this is taking place post-SM?

— Maybe it’s just timing, but being a college student myself with a fragmented sleeping schedule, I feel like I can relate especially with Rachel. A forty five minute nap? Yep. Sounds about right. You certainly capture that vibe with her really well.

— I like the sudden descriptions of hallucinations during Rachel’s headache, swapping clauses mid-sentence and whatnot. That’s one of my favorite prose techniques lol. And the details were stellar too; they tied back really well to the exact examples of metal walls and dangerous-looking inanimate objects that had been tossed out earlier.

— Ayyyy, it’s Cuicatl! :D

— I see you’ve taken the (pre gen 6) adage that dragons are overpowered to quite an extreme here. iiiiinteresting.

— I have a feeling, based on a certain PMD campaign, about who this “trouble” Pokémon might be, hehe.
 
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Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
This chapter really puts Kekoa's hypocrisies in the spotlight. I enjoyed the way you unpacked just what the pokemon of Alola actually mean to him. Turns out, when he says sacred, what he means is "ours." Pokemon are communal property of kanaka people, a means of fighting back. So Makani's assertion of agency creates a problem--Kekoa's native, he belongs. What does it mean that his pokemon wants to go? It's not so much that he's upset about being a bad trainer--he's afraid that he doesn't belong enough. That he's unworthy of his birthright. You do a good job showing the amount of motivated thinking he's doing on the Makani issue, particularly when it comes to Cuicatl, though in places the internal transitions were abrupt.

The structure of the chapter, as your discord summary highlighted, is basically, Kekoa talks to a lot of people. I'm a big fan of chapters that focus on internality and do it through a series of conversations, but the conversations did feel a little strung together to me. The first scene in particular felt unnecessary--it didn't reveal anything about Kekoa. I'd maybe recommend starting at the pier. The atmosphere in that scene, with the darkness and the slaughtered magikarp and the hooked fineon was strong.

I wasn't sure what the upshot of Kekoa's conversation with Kanoa was. Is he agreeing to release Makani? Makani did feel like the missing presence in this chapter, especially since with how you switch POVs it will be a while before we're back with Kekoa. I would have been interested in seeing them interact from Kekoa's perspective. It would have also broken up the string of human-human conversations with a "conversation" that's not, since Kekoa can't understand (and doesn't really want to.)

Lyra! Very excited to see where this all leads.

Line-by-lines:

She fishes a small bag out of her coat pocket and holds it out to Cuicatl. The blind girl doesn’t take it; you do. Even if she doesn’t want it, maybe you can find a use. “It’s two Flyinium crystals. One for you and one for someone else. There’s not a flying trial right now so they’re a little hard to get.”

“Leave,” Cuicatl repeats. Gentler. Maybe with tears in her eyes. Or maybe that’s just a trick of the dim, ever-shifting squid light.

“Okay. If you do want to contact me—”

“Get out,” you add.

“Alright, alright.”
Hm, this encounter felt a little video-game with a character popping up just to hand over an item. It's not unbelievable that Meredith would do this, I guess, but since none of it means much to Kekoa, it does feel a bit random.

You wonder if the bird cares about the rain.
Wasn't quite sure what this was meant to mean? Like, is he wondering if the talonflame didn't want to fly out in what is presumably raining?

For once she has to guide you. She has one hand on her beldum and one clamped hard onto your elbow as she drags you along. The talonflame girl is thankfully going in the other direction. Even if that does mean that you can barely see anything at all as you walk towards the VStar building.
This paragraph contradicts a little--it implies Kekoa can see less than Cuicatl, but he sees which direction the talonflame girl is going in?

It’s not a great trip, even accounting for the tension and the rain.
The wording feels odd, what makes the trip bad apart from the tension and the rain?

Ordinarily it would be filled with life and bathed in sunlight at this time of day in the middle of the mainland winter.
Had to read this a few times. The idea is that normally it would be warm and sunny here, even though it's winter on the mainland? Why does Kekoa care what's happening on the mainland?

The temperature keeps dropping every day.

You wonder how the forests will come out of this. Two weeks with no food and constant cold. Which grass-types will survive? Which won’t?
Chilling here. I hope we're going to hear more about how the blackout is effecting the wild pokemon,

Pixie seems satisfied with herself, but you’ve noticed that Cuciatl barely lets her tyrunt out of her ball. Hekeli demands to come inside as soon as she’s shit and Makani… well, apparently Makani hates you. If Cuicatl is to be believed. You still aren’t sure about that.
The transition here felt a little abrupt, moving from a concern with grass pokemon, to going through the pokemon he's in close proximity to.

She might be getting jealous. All three of her pokémon are powerhouses. Tyrantrum and metagross (because of course she’s going to evolve the damn thing, whatever she promises you) are some of the strongest pokémon to ever live. Keokeo are full of tricks and masters of hailstorms. Maybe she just wants to have all the strong pokémon between you both. Talked Makani into rebelling so you wouldn’t have a vikavolt.
I know Kekoa's reasoning is supposed to be sketch here, but it's really hard to follow how Cuicatl having three powerhouse pokemon would make her jealous of Kekoa.

Plus, she had her run in with a sensu oricorio two days ago, which, yeah, you don’t envy her. Hearing your parents berate you would be… it would be something. There would be bad feelings, of course, but at least you’d be reminded what they sounded like.
Transition here doesn't work for me. How is this paragraph "plus" following from the last one? It's a complete switch in topic and one from where Kekoa is pissed at Cuicatl to a thing he's sympathetic about.

Did Jabari keep home videos? He had to have, right? Somewhere. No way he threw those away when he enlisted since, you know, his parents had just died. But if you asked for them there would be strings attached. It would look like you were just fine with him sending you to foster care for years just because he was sorry enough to give you shit that was rightfully yours anyway.
This really checks out, and is a very Kekoa bind to be in. I can see why he wouldn't want to reach out and how he's hurting himself by not doing so.

Cuicatl starts reeling something in. She says that she’d never fished before (“not with a rod, anyway,” whatever that means), but she can at least reel it in well enough. You still have to cast because you don’t have an idea how to explain it to her in the dark. She lifts up the pole and Pix starts growling. Cuicatl sighs and hauls the fish onto the pier where it starts madly flapping. “Magikarp.” A red flash briefly illuminates the docks. “Coco, Pix, you want it?” There’s increasingly frantic thrashing sounds and the smell of ozone before the fish goes still. Cuicatl hands you the rod to cast again as her pokémon start devouring their lunch.
How much Kekoa can see here is confusing me. He can see well enough to cast, but the way the magikarp is described only by sound and smell implies he can't see it?

And the last one slashed your hand up pretty good while you tried to hold it down.
This feels very representative of Kekoa's relationship with Alolan pokemon in the chapter.

during a slow-motion Sootopolis.
Ooh, nicely-phrased.

“Doesn’t work like that,” she mutters, confirming that it does, in fact, work like that.
Hah!

Makani hadn’t been spitting in your face as much, you bought her a thunder stone (which blew through most of your savings right at the start of an indefinite crisis), and then out of nowhere she just turns on you again.
Wow at his metrics. I love how this is coming after him thinking about how his brother tried to bribe him to win his affection, and he just unironically adopts the same logic--'but I bought her an expensive thing!!'

“Foreigners keep coming here to catch grubbin and get themselves a vikavolt. Got so bad that they almost went extinct on this island.” VStar was a big part of that. It was the first thing you learned about them as a kid and if you didn’t need to kick out the imposter queen you would want nothing to do with them. “But they’re our birthright. One of our strongest weapons against the occupiers, and they’re just stealing them. If I abandoned her, she’d probably fall into one of their hands.”
Ah, so he sees native pokemon not as beings to be respected, but weapons in the righteous struggle.

“Kekoa,” her voice is much, much harder than before. “You don’t trust me at all, do you?”

“I—” Do you? She’s going through a lot right now, and you’ve insulted her dead brother and mom. Still, you’ve been traveling with her for three months at this point. You’d trust her not to poison you. To keep you safe. But for Makani to just turn on you… you’re not a bad trainer. A bad person. You were making progress.
I couldn't follow the progression of his thoughts here. The fact that she's going through a lot is a reason not to trust her? He insulted her dead brother = she's trying to take revenge or something? I think I just want this to be a little more explicit.

The finneon capture is necessary because you need money to take back your kingdom. Makani is necessary because you need power to take back your kingdom. And they’re your people’s pokémon. Your birthright. The ancient kings hunted. The island challenge has been going strong for centuries with many kings and kahunas using vikavolt. Besides…
It's a possessive thing, huh? They're his birthright. They don't belong to outsiders, because they belong to his people, him. Very different model than Cuicatl, who sees pokemon as beings with agency, not property.

“Kekoa, I’m a predator,” she says. Probably to answer your last question. And for a moment you’ll pretend that the tiny blind girl that needs help casting for fish could be a predator. “I was practically raised by one. And predators can tolerate prey. Respect them. But the predators will starve if they do not eat the prey. If I need to catch finneon or kill magikarp to feed myself or my pokémon, I will. That’s how nature works.” Sometimes you have to drown someone else to stay afloat. You know that damn well.
This checks out for Cuicatl. Her philosophy makes sense as one she'd have from growing up with a hydreigon.

Shit. That’s way better than home videos. You would kill for that. For a tenth of that.
I liked this moment of Kekoa being jealous of what Cuicatl's powers give her. Just as she'd be jealous that he has a living brother who doesn't hate him.

The orphanage had an oranguru and porygon that helped take care of the kids, sure, but you were never as close to them as the humans there.
Never as close to them as the humans there? Don't follow this. Makes it sound like Kekoa isn't human.

When you met back up outside Lush Jungle, she demanded to know where her brother had been. That. You’re better than that. You were supposed to be better than that. Unlike Jabari, you don’t just abandon family for years, whether or not you’re related by blood. And yet.
Lots of Kekoa hypocrisy this chapter.

Your responses have been short and polite. Because as much as you want to, you can’t just yell at her until she never talks to you again. Or leave her cold. Again.
I had kind of forgotten about this character. I don't know if there's anyway you could work in these texts in previous chapters (or maybe you have and I'm just forgetting) so that she feels more like someone who's been on his mind?

Then joy is pumped right back into her voice. “But things are actually calming down over here. The volcarona refused to shine for a bit, because some kid had just tried to steal a larvesta.”
Stealing a larvesta is something potentially disastrous, right? Why does she get excited talking about it? Seems off.

Find some kid with talent and a need to get a lot of money, fast. But uh. She worships the sun, right? There’s no way that she’d just go and piss off a sun god or demigod or whatever volcarona are over there.
I can follow the train of thought, but it does feel a little abbreviated.

“You work for them, right?”

“I—”

“Kind of figured between the weird island-hopping thing and, um, not really having much money. Unless your brother is paying for—”

“He very much isn’t.” You wouldn’t let him.

“Just checking.” And judging. She’s definitely judging. Fuck her. Never been through half of what you have, yet she thinks she can judge.
This is so Kekoa. Don't you dare judge me for working for the evil org that's stealing sacred pokemon!!

“Kanoa, I ignored you for years. Just. It’s okay to let me go.”

“Well,” she says, still sounding far too cheery. “You’re the one who called me.”

“Right. I need some advice.”
I like Kanoa. She's clearly had practice putting up with Kekoa's shit.

I rented a thunderstone
Earlier it says bought? Don't get how renting works, are thunderstones multi-use?

“She says that Makani, the grubbin, wants me to bury him in the woods with the thunderstone.”

“And you don’t want to?” She doesn’t sound as judgmental as you were fearing. That’s good.

“Yeah. Things were going okay and it’s dangerous out. And if he does stay with me until he evolves, I can return the thunderstone. I don’t see why he can’t just travel with me for a while.”

“You could just go back in a couple months to unbury the stone.
I like how Kekoa leads off with this bullshit pretext. If the thunderstone cost were all he cared about he could just return it and release the grubbin.

Kanoa jumped to the least important part. He’s safer with you and… and you need power. A lot of it.
🙃

Pokémon, even the ones that agree to go with people, usually want to go back to their own lives eventually. For bugs, a few months can be a lot of time. A year can be far too much to ask of them.
Nice, I like the distinction about the lifespans of bug-types.

You want to scream that you don’t need it. That this is your fucking country and you know how to live in it. How to use it against the conquerors. Plumeria and the other Skull leaders taught you the myths at the base of Lanakila. You know enough.
Mmm. This feels like the crux of the chapter and hits hard.

She leaves you on read again.
Lol, I love how much Plumeria gives no shits and Kekoa gives so many.

You doin return because might as well minimize the shit you’re in.
Typo, missing space.

“Hi,” she says. “I’m Lyra. A friend of Genesis’s.”
! this should be fun

Last sentence is clunky, and the "of" already makes it possessive, so you don't need the apostrophe.
 
Flying 3.7 New

Persephone

Pokémon Trainer
Pronouns
her/hers
Flying 3.7: Then As Farce
Lyra

[14:03:39]​

Gela’s leaving.

You can’t blame her. Not really. She likes pokémon well enough, but camping? Not a fan. Even before The Blackout you were getting worried that she’d quit early, go home, and start applying for college. Being trapped in a hotel room for two weeks certainly hasn’t improved her view of the island challenge.

You’ve pleaded with her. Reminded her that she loathes her mom. Hell, she only hit the trail to get away from the woman. You couldn’t see Gela roll her eyes, of course, but you know she was doing it.

“I survived sixteen years there, I can live a few months more. Especially if I don’t have to see her face.”

And that was that. Nothing else you could do that would get her to stay.

Well, you could’ve kissed her.

That would’ve gone real fucking well.

You sigh and dig your feet further into the beach’s cold sand. Her and Genesis leaving you within a few months. And your brother isn’t answering your calls because you get to go on a journey while he can’t, and that’s really unfair. Completely not his fault that he was a dumbass.

Nisshoko the noibat lands on your shoulder and gives a reassuring squeal right into your ear.

“Hey, buddy. It’s fine. I really don’t need that.”

He squeals again out of either victory or defiance. Then he flies off.

Your starter, Mirai the absol, is huddled down at your feet, occasionally moaning softly. Poor girl. She started going nuts right before Necrozma arrived and has had a headache ever since. Too many disasters going on. Jishin the mudbray digs down into the dryer sands. None of them seem to mind the temperature too much. Noibat live in caves, mudbray have thick skin, and absol live on Lanakila.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for you. Your wardrobe was meant for cool nights at the coldest. Mirai at least has warm fur and a willingness to cuddle. And Nisshoko can help with the darkness. You’d caught her for help navigating caves, but totally dark apocalyptic hellscapes are also right up her alley.

You’re team is pretty good for this, all things considered. Just need a salandit for lighting fires and then you’re golden. Not that it matters. Even if you could legally leave the city, there wouldn’t be anyone watching your back going forward. No one to help carry gear, talk to on lonely nights, and make sure that you’re still you at the end of the day. You’ll need to find someone else to travel with, and your only saving grace there is that a lot of people are probably in the same boat as you: stuck after their friends went home because of a teensy, tiny, endless night.

There are footsteps behind you, slightly muffled by the sand. Odd. Weren’t expecting many people to hit the beaches with the temps below fifty and the sun hidden from view.

“Hello, Kotone. Mind if I join you?”

You almost get whiplash from turning to look over your shoulder. And you can see someone, faintly illuminated by a gorgeous salazzle. She’s tall and has short black hair and tan skin. It’s hard to tell in the flickering firelight, but you’re pretty sure you don’t recognize her.

“Do I know you?”

“No.” She sits down anyway. Jishin gallops over to protect you, just in case, and Nisshoko lands on your shoulder. Mirai huffs before rolling over and putting a paw on your ankle. About the most you can expect from her right now. “You don’t know me, but you’ve probably heard of me.” She sticks out a hand for you to shake. “Name’s Plumeria.”

Oh.

The Skulls aren’t the Rockets. Not really. They’re less mafia, more freedom fighters. Or terrorists or incompetent fools, depending on who you talk to. Still… you really don’t want to get caught up in their shit. They’re dangerous in the aggregate and at least a few of them must have genuinely terrifying pokémon.

Plumeria lowers her hand after a few seconds. If she’s annoyed, she doesn’t let it show. “You know where Genesis is these days?”

She would want to hurt Gen to get to her family. Avenge the crimes of her great-great-grandfather. Like it would matter. If the entire Gage clan died, the shareholders would take over the company and nothing would change.

“I’m not helping you hurt her,” you say with as much confidence as you can muster. She raises an eyebrow. “And if you do kill her, then trust me, her family will destroy you and your entire organization. I’d sooner piss off the yakuza or the government itself.”

“Noted,” Plumeria says, still unsettlingly calm. The soft light on her face makes—salazzle. There’s a salazzle right there spewing out its male-and-lesbian-entrancing pheromones, and you’re not going to be a useless lesbian when Gen’s life is on the line. “But I don’t want her dead.”

“Forgive me if I don’t want to take your word for it.”

She smiles and—Bad. Lyra. Bad. Her smile isn’t pretty, her lipstick isn’t surprisingly good for being put on in the dark, there’s a salazzle right there that’s messing with your brain, fucking focus.

“This wasn’t meant as a threat. I’m not asking you where she is: I’m telling you. She went back home when The Blackout started.”

Your stomach churns. The one upside to the kiss—okay, the kiss itself was an upside. The second upside is that she finally got away from her shitty parents. And that just went up in smoke. Now her parents are going to go into super asshole mode or something. Maybe send her to conversion therapy on the mainland until she turns eighteen. They already put one daughter out of sight and out of mind.

“I’d prefer she be away from her family,” Plumeria says. “It’s a distraction for some potential enemies. If you could help with that, well, it’d probably be gentler than if I got her out alone.”

You can’t even imagine that. Gen waking up in a Skull compound, either scared shitless or being unreasonably defiant of the sinners holding her hostage or both. But… maybe you could get her out yourself and keep her away from both her parents and Skull.

Plumeria extends her hand again, this time with a card on it. A name, an address, and a phone number are written in surprisingly pretty handwriting. “One of our members was traveling with her. He may help you.”

“Thank you—”

“But,” for the first time she frowns. The air around her practically grows colder. Or maybe that was the salazzle emphasizing the point. “He’s with a psychic. I don’t know how she’ll react if she figures out what you’re up to. Be. Careful.”

Psychics. The beach falls away and you’re tied up on a couch, a man with cruel eyes staring into your brain, an alakazam meditating in midair beside him. You can feel the man’s crawling into memories and he doesn’t care that you know he’s doing it. You try to avert your eyes but the feeling doesn’t stop. He doesn’t need eye contact, so you meet his gaze again out of defiance. He smirks. “Your daughter is brave, Mondo.”

Your father doesn’t respond.

“Real shame you couldn’t keep your mouth shut around her.”

Cold panic runs up your spine and you start testing the limits of the ropes around you. You try to be subtle enough that the man doesn’t notice, but he does. And he laughs. He laughs long and hard and you have time to plea to Ho-oh for a fast voyage to… whatever comes next.

“Relax, kid. I’m already finished.” What? How— “Try to remember what he told you.”

The man is here because father… you were walking through the forest or—no, it was in this room and—

“Exactly.” The psychic turns to his alakazam and places a hand on the pokémon. “Oh, and Kurtz? Be more careful in the future. I might not be able to make so clean a cut next time.”

Both pokémon and master disappear in a spiral of twisted space. Your father rushes over with a kitchen knife and starts cutting your bonds, profusely apologizing for doing something you can’t even remember.

“You okay?”

You blink twice and turn to face him— to face Plumeria. She looks concerned, maybe even a little nervous.

“Fine. Perfectly fine. I’ll meet with your subordinate tomorrow.”

[14:09:59]​

It would’ve been better if you’d never been able to get to sleep in the first place.

You managed to get a few naps in, each interrupted by nightmares. Genesis kicking you over a railing to fall to your death. A particularly dedicated buzzwole chasing you around Route 3. Gen bleeding out as Plumeria towers over her. The damn psychic and his alakazam.

Usually you chase that nightmare away by turning all the lights in your room on and staring at the ceiling for hours until you fall asleep again. You can still try it (and you do), but it isn’t quite as comforting when only the lights themselves are illuminated.

Screw this. You’re better off just starting your day. You take a very long shower, hoping it washes your worries away.

It doesn’t.

Then you start journaling. You have to do it on your phone now, since you couldn’t really write on a dark page. That’s not ideal. Phones can be altered in a way that books can’t be. You won’t make it easy on your enemies, though. After you finish writing down yesterday’s events and today’s plans, you email the note to three separate accounts. Then you log into one of those accounts and forward it to another. Someone would have to not only alter your mind, but hack several different websites to change your reality.

Then it’s time to get dressed and put on makeup.. If you have to deal with dad’s business contacts, you put on your nicest dress and a half hour’s worth of makeup and wear them like armor. Now you consider dressing down. There’s no guarantee that whatever you put on will look right in the darkness. At least a t-shirt and shorts are meant to look like you don’t care what people think of you. No. You’re dealing with the Skulls, and Plumeria’s ambush showed you that you’re already at a disadvantage. Dressing up lets you subtly assert a level of confidence that you don’t really feel.

You have the address of a thug and a telepath and you walk right towards it.

Cold air gets into your slacks as you walk through the eerily quiet city streets. Your jacket fares a little better against the cold, but only just. By the time you reach your destination you’re trying to remember the highest temperature at which you can get hypothermia.

Ho-oh above and Lugia below, how cold is it?

Forty-three, your phone says. It’ll be below freezing in a few days if it keeps dropping like this.

Maybe Gela was right.

Your phone leads you straight to a large Pokémon Center. Odd. Why would a Skull bother taking the challenge, though? You thought Guzma hated it. Plumeria, too, if the protests against the Pokémon League were anything to go by. Questions that need answering, but not outside in the cold. You send out Mirai and walk inside.

The receptionist looks up at you when you enter. “Can I help you?”

“No. I’m just here to meet a new travel partner.” You flash her your best smile once you’re covered in the light of an inkay.

Her eyes narrow but she doesn’t say anything. You know what she’s thinking, though: no teenager schedules a casual social meetup this early in the morning. Whatever you’re up to, it’s not what you say it is. And the absol? She looks too young to believe the old superstitions, but sometimes you’re surprised by just who pulls you aside and gives you a warning in hushed tones.

“Kekoa Mahi’ai” doesn’t answer your text right away. That’s fine. You take the opportunity to see what you can find on him online. And it turns out that nothing shows up at all. Not too surprising. He can’t be older than nineteen, and the league doesn’t regularly publish the names of trainers that win trials. Makes it too easy for criminals and abusive family members to know where their target is.

The receptionist is giving you a look that makes you afraid she’ll call security. You hurry up and call Kekoa. He sounds groggy when he answers. But he does agree to meet you down in the lobby.

He comes down a few minutes later. Once he’s illuminated you can see a teenager about your age. A little short for a guy and—oh. His face is a little too soft and his shirt tents up a little too much. Probably didn’t remember to put a binder on when he rolled out of bed.

You can only imagine how Genesis reacted to that.

A beldum trails after him. The psychic’s? Are they that blatant about their snooping? Or has he adopted a psychic-type for his own defense? You want to tell Mirai to snarl and disrupt telepathy, but that wouldn’t help appease the receptionist or the Skull.

Speaking of, he’s noticed you and is walking over. Enough speculation. Action time. Your smile is as bright as you can make it in the dark. “Hi, I’m Lyra. A friend of Genesis.” You hold your hand out. He very begrudgingly shakes it. You wonder if the roughness of his hands are from hormones or the little scrapes and burns that come with being a trainer.

“Hey.” He pulls his hand away and steps back, looking distinctly uncomfortable. “Want to talk outside? My pokémon need a walk.”

“Of course.”

He glares at the beldum and it pivots in midair. The pokémon floats back towards the staircase. Towards its master.

However nervous Kekoa looks, he’s probably still not as nervous as you feel There’s a telepath here and you’re working with… not the Rockets. The Rockets win before you even know there’s a fight. The Skulls lose all the time and just take their loss.

Outside is cold. You’d rather not be out again, but in the lobby someone would hear your words and in his room someone would hear your thoughts. He takes your hand and makes his way to a bench. Good navigation in the dark. Maybe that comes from being in one place for two weeks. Mirai starts softly growling when you scratch her horn in just the right way. The danger signal for dangers she can’t detect.

“Sorry about her. She’s just nervous a lot these days.”

You follow Kekoa’s lead and ignore the chill of the bench’s cold metal. He’s the gang member. You should make him feel like he’s in control. “What’s the mission?” he asks. Oh. Is he… expecting you to be in control? Why? Maybe you should run with this for a while. Keep up an aura of power.

“We’re getting Genesis out.”

“I’ll write a report, then. But I don’t really know that much about her. Sorry.”

“No, I meant that we’re getting her out ourselves.”

He snorts. “You serious? She’s locked in a billionaire arms dealer’s mansion. I have a single trumbeak. What are we going to do?”

“I know the building.” And you do. Mostly. Not sure how good you’d be at navigating it in the dark. “And there might be some staff willing to help us out.”

“Might be?”

You aren’t certain. There probably are, but… you’re not willing to bet that any single one of them will risk unemployment and prison to help Gen out. Or that Gen herself will want to leave. When she gets ideas in her head, they tend to stay there no matter how hard you try to knock them out.

“You have the door code?”

You did, but it’s almost certainly been changed. It rotated every few months. Sometimes every month when her parents were worried about something.

“Okay, so it’s not a great plan,” you admit. “But we can work on it together. We can’t just leave her there! I don’t know what her parents are doing to her now, but it’s not good. And they might send her to the mainland for conversion therapy any day now.”

“Wait, she’s gay?”

How did he not notice that? She got kicked out in September, they would’ve been together for months now. Maybe there just wasn’t a girl in the group? “Deep in denial, but yeah.”

“Oh.” Kekoa shifts and his butt briefly touches yours before he immediately scoots away. “I guess that makes sense.” He sighs. “It doesn’t matter. Tell Plumeria that I’m not helping without backup or a plan.”

You bite your lip. You don’t trust this boy. Not one bit. But you need things from him. Backup for your mission, information on just who you’re dealing with, details on how Gen has been. There’s a way to get that and solve another problem at once.

“We could travel together.”

“What?”

“I mean, I can help you train and we can think of a plan together. Then we’d have a better chance of succeeding. Or we could call in Plumeria if she was about to get moved to the mainland. She might answer if it’s an emergency.”

You would really rather not have that happen. You could probably take this kid out with a surprise attack if you were the ones to rescue Gen. If Plumeria was leading the charge, there’s nothing you could do to keep your friend out of the gang leader’s clutches.

“I think that’s okay.” He doesn’t sound terribly fond of the idea. Probably only agreed because he still sees you as a boss of sorts. Not that you’re fond of the idea, either. It’s a necessary, temporary arrangement. Keeping your enemies close. “I’d have to ask Cuicatl.”

“They can’t come with us.”

Kekoa gets up. He starts walking and at first you’re afraid he’s leaving. But he stays close. He’s just pacing. Angrily, given the force of his footsteps. Like he’s angry with the concrete. “Why?” There’s barely veiled anger beneath the words. You wonder how deeply the telepath has messed with his mind.

“They’d know what we’re doing.”

He sighs and his footsteps grow quieter. “Yeah. And she might try to stop us. She was cool with Gen going home in the first place.” He stops altogether with a huff. “But I can’t just leave her. She’s from Anahuac. Doesn’t have any other friends here.”

“Do you care about her? Or has she made you look out for her?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Poor thing. He doesn’t know. Maybe he’s “forgotten.”

“Psychics can remove memories. Add them. Change people while being so subtle that their victim doesn’t even know anything happened at all. Trust me, I’ve… I’ve been there. You can’t win against them because you’d never even know there was a fight. You’re best off staying far, far away.”

“Reshiram trusts her.”

“How and. Nevermind. Why does that matter?”

“She’s all about truth, right? She wouldn’t like someone who was putting lies into people’s minds.

“It doesn’t matter,” you say as evenly as you can. This wasn’t expected, but you can deal with it. “Gods mess up all the time. Sometimes catastrophically. Just ask the corpses at the bottom of Hoenn’s seas.”

That shuts him up. His footsteps stop again and he just stands there in silence. Is he religious? Did you hit a nerve? He looked more native than Asian, so it probably isn’t personal.

“I don’t think I can leave her alone. Sorry.” He doesn’t sound entirely convinced that he’s in the right. So. Close. Just a little bit more and you’ll be one step closer to getting Gen out. And getting him away from a monster.

“I can take you to my hotel room. I have a spare bed. Just text her that you’re at the pool or something and you want her to meet you there. Then go up to your room, grab your stuff, and leave. No chance of her twisting your mind to make you stay.”

“You make her sound like a demon,” he mutters. “She isn’t. You don’t even know her.”

He starts walking away. You bite your tongue. Pushing now might just dig you deeper. It sucks, though. The psychic will just wipe his memories of this conversation. Take his doubts away. And she’ll just cut and twist more and more as he tries to help you.

The cruel eyes of your tormentor bore into yours, even though the darkness. At first you thought that he just took a memory. But how can you be sure? He could have given you new ones, made you forget people, even changed your entire personality. And you wouldn’t know. You don’t know. You’ll probably never know.

[15:01:17]​

Word on the socials is a ship full of food arrived earlier in the day. Around the same time as that rumor broke, a prime-time news conference was announced by the governor. You finish off a protein bar and wash it down with a bottle filled in the sink. There will probably be details announced on changes to the rationing system and where to pick up more food. A good thing, too. You burned through your stockpile four days ago and are quickly making your way through the food Gela left behind. And even with rationing, there was barely any food left to buy when you got back to the city.

The conference is difficult to see when it starts. It’s probably filmed in a dark room, and then you’re seeing it on your dim phone screen. There are two podiums, one with the governor behind it and the other with the champion. Selene’s almost entirely hidden behind her podium and she looks like an absolute mess. Her hair’s clearly been charred in a few places and she’s not even bothering to hide it. She’s wearing a t-shirt with visible mud and there’s either dirt or ash or dried blood on her face. Poor thing. At least she’s not trying to dress up. You remember seeing her looking incredibly uncomfortable in her own skin, eyes flitting around the room and breaths quick. You didn’t really want to be at that fundraiser, but you could at least hide it. It looks like she never learned to slip into a disguise; she just embraced facing the world as she is.

Good for her.

You would never, but good for her.

Selene clears her throat. “Good evening. Earlier this morning, we planned to meet with a solgaleo from a planet several lightyears and dimensions away. He could have opened a hole between dimensions and brought us to the necrozma.” But they failed, of course. The lingering darkness gives that away. “The solgaleo was intercepted and now has to find another wormhole to cross into our dimension, go through it, and then cross the remaining distance on our plane. We do not know how long this will take. Even when he returns, there is no guarantee we will be successful against the necrozma.”

The governor’s glaring at her. Kid hasn’t learned to sugarcoat things. If anything, it sounds like she’s hedging by playing up the dangers.

“The darkness has not expanded in the last seventy-two hours. The world outside of the Mid-Pacific is entirely unaffected. Since it’s dangerous here and safe everywhere else, the Navy has begun sending ships to evacuate anyone who wants to leave. I encourage you to—”

“Thank you, Miss Perry.”

“I—”

“Moving on, almost all of the Ultra Beasts have been destroyed. No more have arrived after our young champion failed to stop Necrozma.” Is he trying to throw her under the bus? Imply that all of this is her fault? Shit. You knew he was a lonely, desperate old man, but that’s low even for him. “We also received our first shipment of supplies from the mainland today. More will be coming as the navigation logistics get worked out. There is no need to leave Alola. I repeat, there is no reason to leave Alola.”

“Sir—”

“If you can learn to deal with the cold, you can carry on your lives as normal. We even invite tourists to come experience the islands in an exciting new way. I trust that our champion will eventually fix the problem, but until then we can’t just put our lives on hold. All emergency restrictions will be lifted on Melemele, Akala, and Ula’Ula tomorrow. The island challenge will continue on those three islands, and the timer on trainer stays in Pokémon Centers between trials will start running again. Even if this alien has stolen our light, we cannot let it crush our spirits.”

“There are still Ultra—”

“Good night.”

The feed cuts out.

There’s cheering from down the hall. And outside your window. Are people celebrating this? Why? And which announcement? That they can leave? That food is back? The island challenge? And didn’t they hear the champion trying to tell them that it wasn’t safe yet? Or see the look in her eyes as she realized she was sharing a stage with a madman?

“REOPEN ALOLA!” Someone shouts outside your door. You can hear him chanting the same thing as he runs down the hallway, until he eventually falls with a loud thud as he trips in the dark.

You ignore the chaos and start thinking about the important things.

No emergency restrictions means no rationing. Getting any food could be difficult until ships start coming regularly. If ships start coming regularly. Wouldn’t be the first time a failing politician told a big, dangerous lie. You’ll need to snap up whatever food you can get as soon as it hits the shelves. You send out a few texts to the people you know in Hau’oli (especially the ones whose families probably do their own shopping) and set up alerts for a few shops and news channels.

Then you start thinking about longer term problems. Stay or evacuate?

You run through the options.

Evacuating is simple enough. You’d be on the mainland. With your parents that you can barely stand and your brother who can barely stand you. But you’d be safe, to the extent you can ever be safe with dear old dad in the picture.

Staying is more complex. You’d need to wait in Hau’oli for a few days to make sure that the last UBs get rounded up and to buy winter gear as soon as it becomes available again. Unfortunately, you’d been way off trail on Route 3 when The Blackout started, so by the time you got to Hau’oli all the shops had already run out. Not that they ever carried much in the first place. There’s exactly one mountain with regular snow in Alola and most trainers never even try to climb it.

After that, you’d need to find a traveling partner. Maybe break Kekoa away from his invisible prison. Maybe find someone else. Then you’d venture out into the dark and cold to find new pokémon and fight through totems and kahunas. In the dark. Which would change all your strategies. And everything in you knows that you shouldn’t do it, but the governor was right about one thing: you’ll never get another chance to ‘see’ Alola like this. A tropical land succumbing to darkness and cold is one hell of a thing to explore. And you’ve read about cave and arctic explorers for years. If there aren’t UBs, you can handle yourself. Maybe make a blog or write a journal you can later use for a book.

No one’s ever traveled through a place quite like this. No one. You’d be one of the first in a world with fewer and fewer places left where no human has gone before.

But then there’s the real crisis: What happens to Genesis?

Most people suck. The powerful hurt people, the powerless wish they could. You have to look strong to keep people from fucking with you. Then no one will make you their plaything just because they can. And then there are people that no amount of strength can protect you from, because they can hurt you and make you love them for it.

And one was around your Genesis for months. Is she still the same person? The same gentle soul? Everyone around you in Alola was playing the game of social power. You needed to keep your guard up and pick your allies strategically. But you never really believed that she could hurt you. So you let your guard down. Tried to be yourself.

You owe it to her to get her away from her parents. Away from Skull. Away from psychics. She deserves it. Deserves to live without people trying to mold her into being heartless, just like everyone else.

As long as she’s here, you can’t leave.
 
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OldschoolJohto

Never not editing
Pronouns
She/Her
Partner
solrock
She likes Pokémon well enough, but camping? Not a fan.
Gela is incorrect. Also, you've capitalized pokemon here, and I don't think you usually do.

Especially if I don’t have to see her face.”
I wasn't sure if this was because darkness or not. It wasn't until later in this chapter that I was sure that the darkness is limited to Alola, and we don't know Gela so I wasn't sure if home for her was Alola or not.

And your brother isn’t answering your calls because you get to go on a journey while he can’t,
He did go for a little bit though, right? I'm not fully remembering.

Rigan-ryū the pyukumuku is filter feeding at the edge of the surf
Hahaha, I liked this detail.

well, the cold never bothered them anyway.

At least you have Nisshoko.
This transition is a little funky. The previous sentences are about her other pokemon, but I feel like it should follow sentences about fear, about the darkness and what it means.

If only you’d caught a sandshrew already. Then you’d be all set. Not that it would do you any good right now. Even if you could legally leave the city, there wouldn’t be anyone watching your back going forward.
I wasn't entirely clear what the significance of a sandshrew was to her here. To deal with the cold? I was also curious about her fixation on having a teammate and wanted that to be expanded more.

because of a teensy, tiny, endless night.
Hahahaha.

Jishin gallops over to protect you, just in case, and Nisshoko lands on your shoulder. If your pyukumuku has noticed, she’s not doing anything about it. Oh well. You knew what you were getting into when you chose your starter.
Aww, sweet. And then womp. It IS an odd choice for a first pokemon. I wanted a little more about why she'd chosen it, especially given it's ... uh ... not very cuddly.

The Skulls aren’t the Rockets. Not really. They’re less mafia, more freedom fighters. Or terrorists or incompetent fools, depending on who you talk to.
Sounds like she's got people in her life who sibscribe to each of those ways of viewing the Skulls. I like that they get to be a little complicated here. She's not sure where she stands.

The soft light on her face makes—salazzle. There’s a salazzle right there, and you’re not going to be a useless lesbian when Gen’s life is on the line.
This is another place where I wish we had ADex footnotes! I haven't read the salazzle entry yet. That cutaway made me think at first that she was noticing the salazzle and freaking out about how cool/powerful it is, not that she was noticing it manipulating her.

And I’d rather not have a dead white girl’s face plastered all over the news. That would mean war, and I don’t want one right now.
She sure sounds like she's In Charge of Things here, and I wasn't sure how much of that was intentional. Who is she to say to Plumeria what she wants on the news?

Your stomach churns. The one upside to the kiss—okay, the kiss itself was an upside. The second upside is that she finally got away from her shitty parents. And that just went up in smoke.
D'aww. It is interesting that she's calling getting away from her parents an upside when she doesn't really know what Gen has been up to all these months. I'm also wondering why we didn't get any tie-in here from her previous enounter with the group!

Psychics. The beach falls away and you’re tied up on a couch, a man with cruel eyes staring into your brain, an alakazam meditating in midair beside him. You can feel the man’s crawling into memories and he doesn’t care that you know he’s doing it. You try to avert your eyes but the feeling doesn’t stop. He doesn’t need eye contact, so you meet his gaze again out of defiance. He smirks. “Your daughter is brave, Mondo.”

Your father doesn’t respond.
I liked this sequence a lot! Really puts into perspective her pragmatism, fears, and approach to the skulls. Definitely scary.

Genesis kicking you over a railing to fall to your death. A particularly dedicated buzzwole chasing you around Route 3. Gen bleeding out as Plumeria towers over her. The damn psychic and his alakazam.

Usually you chase that nightmare away by turning all the lights in your room on and staring at the ceiling for hours until you fall asleep again. You can still try it (and you do), but it isn’t quite as comforting when almost all the room is still engulfed in treacherous shadows.
🙃
I appreciate how much thought you've given to all these different ways the darkness affects people.

the league doesn’t regularly publish the names of trainers that win trials. Makes it too easy for criminals and abusive family members to know where their target is.
Oooof that checks out, especially since so many of them are minors.

the little scrapes and burns that come with being a trainer
I liked this textural detail.

The Rockets win before you even know there’s a fight. The Skulls lose all the time and just take their loss.
✅

He’s the gang member. You should make him feel like he’s in control.
Ooh, she's got experience dealing with these folks and knows how to fight back.

I have a single trumbeak.
Awww, he's committed to letting Makani go.

Or that Gen herself will want to leave. When she gets ideas in her head, they tend to stay there no matter how hard you try to knock them out.
Yyyup.

Long story.” Which just means that he doesn’t want to tell it.
✅

You make her sound like a demon,” he mutters. “She isn’t. You don’t even know her.”
Nice to see him defending her here!

It looks like she never learned to slip into a disguise; she just embraced facing the world as she is.

Good for her.

You would never, but good for her.
Hahaha. Though, from Gen's POV she did seem to be pretty open and out there with her feelings and her forwardness.

None have arrived since our young champion’s first battle with Necrozma.” Is he trying to throw her under the bus? Imply that all of this is her fault?
I wasn't clear how this was blaming her. It almost sounds like trying to credit her with the lessening of the UBs.

If you can learn to deal with the cold, you can carry on your lives as normal. We even invite tourists to come experience the islands in an exciting new way. I trust that our champion will eventually fix the problem, but until then we can’t just put our lives on hold. All emergency restrictions will be lifted on Melemele, Akala, and Ula’Ula tomorrow. The island challenge will continue on those three islands, and the timer on trainer stays in Pokémon Centers between trials will start running again. Even if this alien has stolen our light, we cannot let it crush our spirits.”

“There are still Ultra—”

“Good night.”
Eeeek.

Wouldn’t be the first time a failing politician told a big, dangerous lie.
Nope, it sure wouldn't. I wouldn't know anything about that.

And one was around your Genesis for months. Is she still the same person?
A juicy question for her.

I enjoyed this peek into Lyra! Especially interesting was the alternative take on psychics, psychic-type pokemon, and their dangers. (Seems like Lyra should be fretting less over that sandshrew and more over getting a dark-type!) The scene with her being held hostage by a Rocket while Dad kinda watched was tough stuff, but compelling, and sure explains a lot of her behavior here.

What I didn't understand about her quite as clearly is why she cares so much about having another human to watch her back. It drove her to swing from being wary of Kekoa to trying to convince him to join her pod travel with her, and I needed a little more to support that. I love that she's getting so into the mix though. Some nice juicy conflict for Gen to return to. :D

I also appreciated the moment of celebrating Alola reopening ... and then someone promptly tripping. Reopening is going to go so, so well. Selene is having a bad time of things, oof. It seems like she's almost too tired to even want off this ride--she's on autopilot just moving forward. But she also seems to be nearing a breaking point. She's been hoisted into the political world, but doesn't actually have much political power, it seems.

Lyra's reasoning for wanting to stay is interesting. Obviously it's about Gen (which makes me wonder if she's tried to get in touch after the kiss and how that went!), but she also seems genuinely interested in becoming a literal dark tourist. She's very afraid of psychics, but is pretty down to take on other kinds of risks.

Hope you rest up during your hiatus!!
 

Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
So we meet Lyra! You did a really nice job portraying how terrifying that kind of psychic manipulation could be and the impact it's left on her. I almost wanted even more--does she have a habit of writing herself notes when important things happen, to make sure she still has the information, even if her mind is messed with? Does she check her watch frequently, to make sure she hasn't lost time? I was surprised that none of her pokemon are dark-types--would seem like a natural for someone who never wants a psychic to be able to mess with them again.

I was interested in the final line of chapter, about getting stronger. It left me wondering what Lyra wants, beyond saving Gen. In the opening section she seems almost ridiculously eager to set out again, and couldn't quite figure out why. How eager she is to continue also has the effect of making her decision to stay not really feel like much of a decision, since that's where the chapter starts. It would seem natural that she'd want to get strong enough so that people don't have power over her. I wonder what impact seeing Selene at that fundraiser made on her. Selene is the definition of strength through pokemon, and she seemed to be able to do what Lyra can't--be her herself. But then, at the press conference, we see the limits of that kind of power, and where political power cuts in. I'm curious how the apocalypse impacts Team Skull's plans. The devolution of social order and recklessness of the government seems like pretty ripe grounds for them to assert themselves.

Lots of potentially volatile elements thrown into the air in preparation for the next arc. I'm a bit surprised that everyone's plans still seem to be business as usual, but I guess we'll see how long that lasts.

You’ve pleaded with her. Reminded her that she loathes her mom. Hell, she only hit the trail to get away from the woman. You couldn’t see Gela roll her eyes, of course, but you know she was doing it.

“I survived sixteen years there, I can live a few months more. Especially if I don’t have to see her face.”

And that was that. Nothing else you could do that would get her to stay.

Well, you could’ve kissed her.

That would’ve gone real fucking well.
Gela sounds pretty much like a replacement Gen here. Guess Lyra has a type . . .

“Hey, buddy. It’s fine. I really don’t need that.”

He squeals again out of either victory or defiance. Then he flies off.
Hah, very adorably realistic animal behavior.

You’d caught her for help navigating caves, but totally dark apocalyptic hellscapes are also right up her alley.
Get you a pokemon that can do both!

If only you’d caught a sandshrew already.
Didn't quite follow what sandshrew are for? Something to do with them being ice-types?

You sigh and dig your feet further into the beach’s sand.
A reminder that the sand is cold here might be nice.

She would want to hurt Gen to get to her family. Avenge the crimes of her great-great-grandfather.
This felt a little abbreviated. Does Gen find this reason valid or ridiculous? She's in a similar position with her family and the Rockets, does she worry about the same happening to her?

The one upside to the kiss—okay, the kiss itself was an upside.
Lyra's voice comes through strongly here.

Maybe send her to conversion therapy on the mainland until she turns eighteen. They already put one daughter out of sight and out of mind.
Oof, yeah, I hadn't thought about that, but that is the precedent in Gen's family. Yikes.

“I’d prefer she be freed,” Plumeria says. “It’s a distraction for some potential enemies. If you could help with that, well, it’d probably be gentler than if I got her out alone.”

You can’t even imagine that. Gen waking up in a Skull compound, either scared shitless or being unreasonably defiant of the sinners holding her hostage or both. But… maybe you could get her out yourself and keep her away from both her parents and Skull.

Plumeria extends her hand again, this time with a card on it. A name, an address, and a phone number are written in surprisingly pretty handwriting. “One of our members was traveling with her. He may help you.”

“Thank you—”
This exchange felt like it skipped a step or two. Gen's thought process here feels very compressed. I'd expect a little more skepticism. Plumeria's given a reasons she doesn't want Gen dead, but Lyra has had enough mob experience to know that there are things on the spectrum between free as a bird and dead.

I was also thrown by Plumeria's use of "freed"--that's how Gen thinks about it, but is it really how Plumeria thinks about it?

You can feel the man’s crawling into memories and he doesn’t care that you know he’s doing it. You try to avert your eyes but the feeling doesn’t stop. He doesn’t need eye contact, so you meet his gaze again out of defiance. He smirks. “Your daughter is brave, Mondo.”

Your father doesn’t respond.

“Real shame you couldn’t keep your mouth shut around her.”
Oof. Chilling scene. I like how physical it is.

Both pokémon and master disappear in a spiral of twisted space.
Nice phrase.

Usually you chase that nightmare away by turning all the lights in your room on and staring at the ceiling for hours until you fall asleep again. You can still try it (and you do), but it isn’t quite as comforting when almost all the room is still engulfed in treacherous shadows.
I was a bit confused as to what she's doing here. Inkay light everything now, right? So what does turning on the lights look like?

Then it’s time to get dressed and put on makeup. Less than usual. That unnerves you. If you have to deal with dad’s business contacts, you put on your nicest dress and a half hour’s worth of makeup and wear them like armor. Now you consider dressing down.
The wording here was odd. When it says "Less than usual. That unnerves you." it sounds like her putting on less makeup is something outside her control, rather than a choice? And then at the end of the paragraph she considers dressing down for the first time?

Forty-three, your phone says. It’ll be below freezing in a few days if it keeps dropping like this.
Yikes, this must be going to devastate the wild pokemon.

Questions that need answered, but not outside in the cold.
Typo, "answering"

He can’t be older than nineteen, and the league doesn’t regularly publish the names of trainers that win trials. Makes it too easy for criminals and abusive family members to know where their target is.
Huh, what do criminals have to do with it? With the analogy of sports competitions and Kekoa being a legal adult (unless it's different in Alola?) I don't see why that info wouldn't be published. Is there a known high correlation between people with abusive families and people being trainers?

You’d rather not be out again, but in the lobby someone would hear your words and in his room someone would hear your thoughts.
What a claustrophobic situation to be in.

When she gets ideas in her head, they tend to stay there no matter how hard you try to knock them out.
Quite an interesting way for Gen to be thinking, in the same chapter that's all about how her parents have had thoughts knocked out of her own head.

“Okay, so it’s not a great plan,” you admit. “But we can work on it together. We can’t just leave her there! I don’t know what her parents are doing to her now, but it’s not good. And they might send her to the mainland for conversion therapy any day now.”
It feels like she's treating Kekoa like a normal acquaintance here, when only a few sentences ago she viewed him as a Skull thug who had to either be deferred to or commanded. Maybe a moment where she decides that he's not really on Rocket level and she can relax more?

She knows Skull isn't interested in Gen for Gen's own benefit, so it seems like some effort to put this in Skull terms would be natural, ie, if they send her to the mainland, she won't be here where Plumeria wants her.

“It doesn’t matter. Tell Plumeria that I’m not helping without backup or a plan.”

“We could travel together for a bit.”

“What?”
Heh, my reaction too. It does seem a bit sudden.

“Psychics can remove memories. Add them. Change people while being so subtle that their victim doesn’t even know anything happened at all. Trust me, I’ve… I’ve been there. You can’t win against them because you’d never even know there was a fight. You’re best off staying far, far away.”
Ah, interesting to see how Lyra's anti-psychic attitude meshes with Kekoa after his own worries about Cuicatl manipulating his pokemon.

You’re best off staying far, far away.”

“Reshiram trusts her.”
This felt like a bit of a non-sequitur to me. I guess I hadn't realized that moment made a difference for Kekoa or that he considered Reshiram a god worthy of trust. Is Reshiram considered a god to people in Alola?

Even gods make mistakes. Big ones, sometimes. Just ask the bodies at the bottom of Hoenn’s seas.
Oof.

At first you thought that he just took a memory. But how can you be sure? He could have given you new ones, made you forget people, even changed your entire personality. And you wouldn’t know. You don’t know. You’ll probably never know.
That's a really destabilizing thing to deal with.

Even if you just met him, even if his boss scares you a lot, that’s not something you’d wish upon him.
Not sure you need this! I think the section would end on a stronger note with it cut.

You remember seeing her looking incredibly uncomfortable in her own skin, eyes flitting around the room and breaths quick. You didn’t really want to be at that fundraiser, but you could at least hide it.
Nice Selene characterization.

she just embraced facing the world as she is.

Good for her.

You would never, but good for her.
Makes a real contrast to the Lyra of Gen's memories, who seems so authentic and free-spirited. I guess that's the distinction and why Gen means so much to her, that she can be herself with Gen.

None have arrived since our young champion’s first battle with Necrozma.” Is he trying to throw her under the bus? Imply that all of this is her fault? Shit.
This sounds like it's praising Selene? Like her battle scared the ultrabeasts off?

I trust that our champion will eventually fix the problem, but until then we can’t just put our lives on hold. All emergency restrictions will be lifted on Melemele, Akala, and Ula’Ula tomorrow. The island challenge will continue on those three islands, and the timer on trainer stays in Pokémon Centers between trials will start running again. Even if this alien has stolen our light, we cannot let it crush our spirits.
There’s cheering from down the hall. And outside your window. Are people celebrating this? Why? And which announcement? That they can leave? That food is back? The island challenge? And didn’t they hear the champion trying to tell them that it wasn’t safe yet? Or see the look in her eyes as she realized she was sharing a stage with a madman?
“REOPEN ALOLA!” Someone shouts outside your door. You can hear him chanting the same thing as he runs down the hallway, until he eventually falls with a loud thud as he trips in the dark.
Very on the nose here. Hm. I've been appreciating the parallel, but I'm not sure I buy it completely here. It being dark and cold isn't something people can easily ignore. I doubt tourists want to deal with it. And I feel like only the most rabid trainers would? It's not like covid where it's business as usual until whoops I've caught the plague. It's stepping out your door and shivering and tripping when you walk a few feet on uneven ground.

buy winter gear as soon as it becomes available again
That is a huge issue. Especially since I doubt Cuicatl has the budget for it, unless v-star decides it's worth it.

you’ll never get another chance to ‘see’ Alola like this. A tropical land succumbing to darkness and cold is one hell of a thing to explore. And you’ve read about cave and arctic explorers for years. If there aren’t UBs, you can handle yourself. Maybe make a blog or write a journal you can later use for a book.

No one’s ever traveled through a place quite like this. No one. You’d be one of the first in a world with fewer and fewer places left where no human has gone before.
This was compelling, though. Lyra's not the average person.

Most people suck. The powerful hurt people, the powerless wish they could. You have to look strong to keep people from fucking with you. Then no one will make you their plaything just because they can. And then there are people that no amount of strength can protect you from, because they can hurt you and make you love them for it.
She deserves it. Deserves to live without people trying to mold her into being heartless, just like everyone else.
These lines were a good distillation of Lyra's character and perspective.

As long as she’s here, you can’t leave.

As long as you’re staying, you might as well get stronger.
I think the penultimate line may be the stronger closer here.
 

windskull

Bidoof Fan
Staff
Partner
sneasel-nip
Broken Things
Man, I really needed to get back to this. It’s been way too long. I ended up rereading the first 8 parts just to refresh myself. But let’s pick up where I actually left off, 1.9

1.9
God, you did a great job of setting up the dread and tone of a disaster like what the events of emerald would have caused. You know the drought music? The tone of this scene captures that tone perfectly in my opinion.

I feel like I had at least kind of expected Kekoa to be orphaned, but I didn’t expect him to be in the foster system/not raise by his brother at all. That one caught me by surprise. And on one hand I feel for him, because he needed the support it obviously messed him up. But at the same time, I can’t be angry at Jabiri because he was in a tough situation too, being barely an adult and in a tough situation where he had to try and figure out what was best.

Also, that last scene, oof. Kekoa was being an ass on purpose, but he also had no idea of knowing that he hit a sore spot. Cuicatl, on the other hand, knew that her words would hurt, so that was… really uncool of her, tbh. I don’t blame her for being upset, but…

1.10
I was a wee bit confused by the first couple of scenes from this chapter. Are these memories that Cuicatl’s mom had that Reinfield is sharing with her? For the sake of clarity.

I’m curious if the gods mentioned are analogous to any particular pokemon (like what you do with rayquaza), or if they’re just straight up aztec gods.

Ce is adorable and I’m really sad she doesn’t end up being a permanent party member. More on that later, when I get to that chapter. Smart of Cuicatl to get a head start on catching the Paras, though. That was my understanding, at least.

This chapter had the first steps towards Kekoa and Cuicatl understanding each other. But I wonder how long that will last?

1.11
The opening scene continues to explain a lot about where Kekoa is coming from. I’m curious why Plumeria is in charge of the Skulls at this point. I’m assuming that 1, this is post SuMo after Guzma left Team Skull, and that this scene is relatively recent. Oooor maybe Guzma was never in charge in your timeline. Or maybe I’m overthinking things. Who knows.

The whole scene with Uffe was -chef’s kiss-. It poked a lot at the little flaws in the way that Kekoa thinks and, while he kind of shuts things down here because he’s stubborn, I hope he eventually learns a bit from it.

Also the last scene. I loved the last scene. I loved that Kekoa and Cuicatl are starting to make a connection, even if it’s just baby steps at this point. Cuicatl seems like she put a lot of trust in Kekoa. I can’t help but wonder if something is going to happen later that will strain this. Or worse, if this could cause some trouble later with Kekoa telling the wrong person about Cuicatl’s psychic powers.


1.12
I don’t have a whole lot to say about this particular chapter. I did feel like Genesis felt a little bit like… like her flaws just jumped up significantly. Up until this point a lot of her flaws had felt a lot more subtle. There were bits and pieces before that felt stronger (i.e when she brings up cheerleading in her narration in an earlier chapter) but this almost feels like it went a bit… too far? It made her a lot more difficult to connect to in comparison to the others. Like she’s missing her more likable traits. In the previous chapter when she made the nasty comment about Cuicatl’s home country, even if she didn’t apologize she seemed to at least recognize that what she said was, well, bad. While she feels very stuck in her head here.

I feel bad for her, sure. It’s very obvious that she’s been raised with a very us vs them, expy of conservative traditionalist christian ideaology. And sure she has room to grow and there’s definitely hints about something fishy going on between her and her family but… I dunno, this chapter just was rough for me to read, definitely my least favorite chapter of part one. I hope she improves in the future.

Inferno is cute tho. I feel for him.

1.13
My complaints about 1.12 set aside, I really liked 1.13. It gives us insight into several things: Pixie’s past, a direct view of what life is like for wild pokemon (particularly pokemon like Pixie that are carnivores, but still small enough to be prey to other pokemon like weavile), and why she has a lot of the issues she does. Particularly both abandonment issues and issues and why she’s so afraid of Cuicatl getting other pokemon.

And man, while I feel for her, she’s an absolute ass at the end here. Which isn’t a bad thing, but I hope it is something that is explored and that she improves on later in the story. On a related note, I really hope that Ce shows up again at some point later, even though I really don’t expect her to.

1.14
Coco. Is. Adorable. And this whole section is so good. I always love your pokemon perspective chapters because they feel so distinctly not human. And this chapter really exemplifies tha, perhaps more than the Pixie chapters. Part of that is, perhaps, because Coco is such a young character that doesn’t have experiences with humans to build upon.

Also, it’s just kind of a nice breath of fresh air to get a pov character that doesn’t have a lot of baggage and get a break from all that. As a treat.

At the same time, I love the bits of tension you get to see in this chapter (particularly during the section where they’re all watching The Land Before Time) specifically because of the perspective we’re seeing it from. From someone young and clueless.

1.15
Oooh, this chapter seems to be setting up the first little tantalizing bits of a bigger plot. Thus far, the story has been heavily character driven. To the point that there’s not really been much of a bigger plot beyond “Vstar might be a little shady and also these kids are going through the trials through them.” Every other story beat has been driven forward by the characters’ personal plots. It’s not a conventional method afaik, but it’s definitely interesting and for the most part, it works. The only times it really doesn’t are in instances where I just, can’t get into a character’s head. Which is what I think happened with 1.12, for example.

As for the actual content of the chapter, I have no clue where it’s going. But I’m definitely quite curious about it, if nothing else.


At this point, I’ll briefly mention that I read the recap as well, but I really didn’t have anything to say about it, so I’m just going to wrap up here. I enjoyed the majority of part 1, and it’s definitely left me wanting more. So at some point in the near future I hope to be back for part 2. Until then, take care!
 
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