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Pokémon Hoenn Short Stories Collection: The Elite

17 - Caffeine and Alcohol

Panoramic_Vacuum

Hoenn around
Partners
  1. aggron

Prompt #17: Someone has a little too much to drink...

"I'm way too hungover to deal with this right now..."

Steven grimaced as a gleaming streak shot through the Ever Grande sky. The morning sunlight did little to help the searing headache he was currently battling. Last night was his five year mark of becoming Champion, so of course he and the Elites celebrated accordingly. He was first to wake, although not unscathed from the night's merriment, and now he had an even bigger issue on his hands.

Another flash of polished steel zipped by accompanied by an ear piercing shriek and Steven winced, not just because it made his head pound even more, but because his accidentally-caffinated Skarmory would wake the whole League at this rate.

"Skarmory," his voice was weak as he tried to flag down his hyperactive flyer, "You can fly around, but please stop screeching."

He winced again as the rebellious pokemon did exactly what it was told not to do, and it buzzed by its trainer again. Steven ducked out of the way just in time, and as Skarmory looped high on the follow through, another voice sounded from behind him.

"What in the world is going on out here?" Glacia was incredulous, although looking just as haggard as Steven.

"I'm sorry, Glacia. It's Skarmory. He got into my morning coffee..."

"He what?"

"I set the mug down for only a moment to look for the asprin, and when I turned back around, he had drunk the entire thing... I mean I knew he liked bitter berries, but this..." Steven hung his head in defeat. "I don't know how long it takes for caffeine to wear off in pokemon..."

Glacia gaped at Steven's explanation before both trainers had to duck out of the way of another over-enthusiastic dive bomb. As they picked themselves up off the ground, Glacia had a particularly nasty look aimed at the Champion.

"Well you better sober up in a hurry or else we're going to get cut to ribbons! Where's its pokeball? Just return it until it calms down."

"I... I don't know where his ball is... I think I misplaced it during the party last night, and I can't recall where I put it." Steven brought a hand to his aching head and did his best to look apologetic.

Skarmory gave another giddy screech as it did a loop-de-loop high overhead, and Glacia covered her eyes with her hand, trying to will away her hangover with sheer frustration. Unfortunately, it wasn't working.

"What's all the ruckus?" Drake arrived just as Glacia lost the battle of wills to keep her from strangling Steven on the spot. Instead she simply snapped a finger in the Champion's direction. Drake's gaze followed her point with a quirked brow.

"Ah, this is my fault. Skarmory's a bit wound up this morning. Sorry for disturbing you."

But Drake just chuckled and tipped his cap back with a finger so he could watch the energetic steel type barrel roll to its heart's content, cawing and cackling with joy. "It's no problem at all, lad."

Something in the older trainer's demeanor had Steven peering at him suspiciously, "You look awfully cheerful for such a rude awakening..."

Drake grinned and slipped his pipe out from his pocket, "What's the matter? Hurting a bit after last night?"

"And you're not? Sidney is dead to the world and probably will be for the better part of the day. He was trying to keep up with you." Glacia's voice was tight; her pride may have taken a bit of a blow seeing how well Drake was faring compared to the rest of them.

Striking a match and puffing his pipe to life, Drake simply shook his head with a twinkle in his eye, "I wouldn't be worth my salt if I couldn't drink you youngsters under the table."

Steven opened his mouth as if he was going to say something, but then thought better of it. Still shielding his eyes, he turned to head back into the building. "I'm going to lay down. Skarmory will tire itself out eventually."

"Hey, wait!" Glacia was hot on his heels, "It's your pokemon, don't just let it misbehave like this!"

Steven grumbled some kind of retort to that, but Drake didn't quite catch it. Instead he simply grinned and reached for his belt.

"You've finally got yourself a playmate, Flygon. Go have some fun."

His speedy dragon burst free from its ball with a happy cry and Skarmory joined in with a shriek of its own.

Drake called out to the two pokemon circling overhead, "Extra treats tonight if you manage to wake Sidney up in the process."

It felt good knowing he wasn't just a veteran at pokemon battling.
 
18 - Bad News

Panoramic_Vacuum

Hoenn around
Partners
  1. aggron

Prompt #18: Someone receives bad news from home.

The letter fluttered from Glacia's hand like a snowflake. Snaking its way to the floor from her shaky grasp, the letter wasn't quite like a snowflake when it landed; it didn't melt into oblivion. The words remained, still etched in her mother's crisp handwriting, and they wouldn't disappear no matter how hard she wished they would.

Her dress crinkled softly as she lowered herself into the closest chair to where she had opened the letter. From where she sat, she could still see the paper; black on white, although the contrast wasn't so clear from this distance. No, everything was becoming blurry, even the too-white knuckles that gripped the fabric in her lap. She blinked away the tears as swiftly as she could. Just like her mother, and her mother before that, the women of her family would remain strong. The ice queen of Snowpoint. What would they say if she was caught crying?

Phoebe, bless her heart, would probably share some words of comfort that her grandmother had passed down to her. Drake would probably just remain as impassive as ever. He of all people would know about keeping up appearances, the old softie. Sidney... Sidney would probably never let her hear the end of it, although it's not like she didn't have her own stockpile of ammunition to fire right back at him. Phoebe's Krookodile picture from their Alola trip came to mind... And Steven. The heir turned Champion, who had a youthful countenance but the eyes of a much more experienced man. He'd give her a quiet look that spoke volumes without ever uttering a word, and just like that, what she'd suspected for a while now would be abundantly clear. That she was not alone no matter how empty her heart felt with such a loss.

But the more she thought about it, the more she felt at ease. The four people she trusted the most, the four people who placed an equal amount of trust in her. Surely they would understand if the cracks in her icy facade were visible for one vulnerable moment...

A slight tug at the hem of her dress brought her back to the present, and she wiped away a few more tears before glancing down at her visitor. Her Cubchoo had wandered in from the training area and was staring up at her with wide, concerned eyes.

"Oh, my darling," she scooped the bear cub into her arms and cradled it gently against her chest, "I hope my mood isn't upsetting you."

But the Cubchoo shook its head and simply snuggled deeper into her arms as it wrapped its paws around her neck in a tiny hug. Its nose was startlingly damp against her skin, but its quiet chuffing sent warm breath down her neck, and try as she might to stop it, her pokemon's sympathy opened the flood gates once more. Tilting her head forward, she buried her face in Cubchoo's fur and sobbed. Just this once, the ice queen would melt.
 

Just a Torchic

DaiMikuNagi my Beloved
Location
Sootopolis City
Pronouns
she/they/he?
Partners
  1. torchic
  2. custom/torchic-blue
Reading these out of order a bit. My apologies.

I just read 17 and 18 and loved both. 17 was a very humorous story. I like the premise of Pokémon drinking caffeine. And 18 was just... *chef's kiss*. The stuff about Glacia's family and how the women must be strong, trying to not cry, thinking about her friends... good, good stuff.
 

Panoramic_Vacuum

Hoenn around
Partners
  1. aggron
Reading these out of order a bit. My apologies.

I just read 17 and 18 and loved both. 17 was a very humorous story. I like the premise of Pokémon drinking caffeine. And 18 was just... *chef's kiss*. The stuff about Glacia's family and how the women must be strong, trying to not cry, thinking about her friends... good, good stuff.
No need for apologies, thank you for coming to check them out!

There's no "official" order to these little stories; they all exist in their own little bubble and there's not any real continuity from one to the next. The order they're posted in is simply the order I chose to curate them in the collection for variety's sake. Read here and there, jump around, the freedom of choice is yours!

I'm glad you enjoyed these two! This little collection was definitely an exercise in getting to know the Hoenn cast, with characters like Glacia and Sidney and Phoebe coming into their own (Glacia in particular has been so fun to write). They'll also run the gamut in terms of genre/emotion. I'm glad that the change in tone and subject matter worked between these two particular stories. Thanks again for reading, and if you decide to poke in again, I hope you'll enjoy those, too!
 
19 - Haunted Gym

Panoramic_Vacuum

Hoenn around
Partners
  1. aggron

Prompt #19: Someone thinks their Gym is haunted, and calls Phoebe for assistance.

Never in her life did Phoebe expect to have someone cowering behind her as if she were a human shield, and never did she expect that someone to be the biggest, most physically imposing Gym Leader around.

Thankful that Brawly wasn't able to see her face, Phoebe rolled her eyes at how he tried to somehow get his whole body behind her petite form, gripping her shoulders with a level of terror that she didn't think was possible from the muscle-bound Leader.

With one shaking finger, Brawly pointed past Phoebe's ear over toward the far corner of his Gym. "It's over there. That's where I saw it."

"Brawly," she kept her tone gentle, "What exactly are you expecting me to do?"

His voice rose even higher in exasperation, "I dunno, talk to it or something? Tell it to stop haunting my Gym, man! I didn't do anything to make the spirits angry, I swear!"

Phoebe sighed, "The spirits aren't mad. In fact, I'm not sensing any ghostly activity here at all."

"What?!"

Brawly's shout was painful in her ear and she winced, but Brawly quickly realized how loud he'd been, and not wanting to rile up the spirits that weren't really there, he shrunk back down behind her again, voice in a strained whisper. "There's no way I can believe there's nothing there. I heard things... I saw things!"

Phoebe wrenched herself from the Leader's iron grip and spun to face him with a quirked brow.

"You called in one of the only people in Hoenn who can commune with ghosts, and you don't believe me when I say I can't find anything here?"

"Yes," Brawly squeaked out, sheepishly twiddling his fingers as he stared at anything that wasn't Phoebe or the cursed corner of the room.

Crossing her arms, Phoebe fixed Brawly with an expression that bordered between amused and frustrated. "What's it going to take to convince you that your Gym isn't actually haunted?"

"I mean, could you just perform an exorcism anyway? It'd make me feel a lot better."

Phoebe nearly sighed again, but an idea crossed her mind, and a sneaky grin flashed across her face. "Sure, we can do that for you."

"We?" Brawly gulped.

But Phoebe was already on the move, grabbing some chalk from the nearby free weights and drawing symbols on the floor before littering spell tags all along the lines. Of course, this wasn't actually an exorcism; she already had an idea of what might be causing Brawly's "hauntings". But that didn't mean she couldn't have fun with the skittish Leader in the meantime.

Brawly's eyes nearly bugged out of his head as he watched Phoebe work, and he paled while slowly backing himself up until he was pressed into the far wall of the Gym.

When she was finished she moved to the center of the symbol and sat cross legged on the floor, eyes closed, but not quite all the way. She didn't want to miss the expression on Brawly's face. Slowly, Phoebe began to chant and wave her arms in airy, rhythmic motions. She began to chant faster and faster, until she felt that she'd put on enough of a show...

In a flash, several ghost pokemon burst forth from where she had hidden their pokeballs, and Brawly screamed. The Gym lights flickered and dimmed as the pokemon circled overhead, and Phoebe nearly burst out laughing when her Banette flew right over to the panicked Leader and licked him in the face. After stifling her giggling fit, Phoebe finally noticed that all the excitement had done him in; Brawly had passed out on the floor from sheer terror. At least now she could test her suspicion in peace...



"Ughhh," Brawly groaned as he sat up from the floor, rubbing his head gingerly. "What happened?"

His question was soon answered as a cheerful Phoebe popped into his field of view.

"Morning, sleepy head!"

"Sleepy head?"

"You fainted," she said with a smile, "But I have good news. I've caught your spooky visitor!"

"You did?"

"Mmhmm! Want to meet them?"

"What, wait, no way man!" Brawly quickly tried to backpedal, but Phoebe swung her arms out from behind her back and Brawly screamed again, cowering away from the "ghost" behind his hands.

"Shroom shroomish!"

Brawly cracked open one eye and found himself staring at a jolly green blob of a pokemon happily nestled between Phoebe's hands. She giggled.

"This little guy was hiding in your vents watching you train. I think he wants to join you so he can be a strong Breloom when he grows up."

Dumbfounded, Brawly reached out with one shaky hand to pat the friendly Shroomish on its petals.

"So... so there wasn't a ghost after all?"

Phoebe shook her head and the Shroomish chirped as it wiggled in her grasp. "Well, not ones that were living here..."

Brawly looked surprised for a moment before his gaze narrowed suspiciously. But before he could interrogate her about the exorcism, she thrust the Shroomish in his arms and danced out the door.

"Bye, Brawly! I promise I won't tell Roxanne that you're afraid of a little ol' ghost!"

As the Gym door slid shut behind her, Brawly found he couldn't stay upset with the mischievous Elite, so he just looked down at Shroomish and shook his head with a small smile.

"Not cool, man. Not cool."
 
20 - Ice Cream

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Hoenn around
Partners
  1. aggron

Prompt# 20: Someone is convinced it's the perfect time for ice cream...

"Whew!"

Sidney let loose a sigh of relief as he plopped down on his backside and sprawled out on the floor, sweat sliding down his brow.

"That was an intense training session you guys," he beckoned to his teammates, and his pokemon gathered around their exhausted trainer looking nearly as overheated as him. "Good thing I came prepared."

He took a deep breath as he sat back up before jumping to his feet. Crossing the room quickly, he picked up an impressively sized ice chest and made his way back to his waiting partners.

"I come bearing gifts," he grinned as he tilted the lid open, and all eyes peered inside.

Mightyena gave a howl of excitement as Sidney slipped six generously sized ice cream sandwiches out of the cooler's depths.

"You guys worked hard, so let's celebrate with a treat to beat this summer heat!"

But whatever grin that graced Sidney's face quickly vanished as he caught sight of Absol's horrified expression. And then all hell broke loose.

His pokemon surged forward, eager to get at the sugary goodness, and Sidney disappeared under a barrage of fur, leaves, and feathers. Mightyena emerged victorious, grasping two bars in its jaws, but before he could make a clean escape, one of the sandwiches was speared through with one of Cacturne's needles. Shiftry chattered in dismay as another bar slipped out of its leafy grasp, plucked free by Mandibuzz's beak. A second Mightyena tried to slink away unnoticed with an extra portion as well, and Sidney did a double take as he spotted the imposter from his place at the bottom of the pile.

"Hey, Zoroark, I know that's you! You gotta share!"

Absol simply watched the chaos with a shake of his head, patiently waiting at the edge of the melee.

By the time Sidney scrambled to his feet, his pokemon had torn into their treats with varying degrees of success. The real Mightyena's coat was slathered in vanilla cream and it was happily trying to lap up the rest of the rogue treat with its tongue, all the while rolling on its back in delight. Cacturne was happily munching on its sandwich that was slowly leaving melting trails down the needle in its hands. Mandibuzz soon found that feathers and ice cream didn't mix, so it settled for picking at the melted puddle of stickiness that ended up beneath its talons. Shiftry had managed to claim Zoroark's extra treat, but had enjoyed it too quickly. Its ears twitched in distress as it fanned itself to try to rid the lingering brain freeze. Only Absol and Zoroark had managed to escape relatively unscathed, and they were contentedly enjoying their treat when the door to the chamber creaked open.

Sidney hastily tried to brush the dust and fur from his clothes as he scrambled to see who was paying him a visit, but he only succeeded in smearing more ice cream around, causing Mightyena to dash over and try to help clean him up too. Absol huffed a quiet chuckle as the rest of Cacturne's ice cream slid off its needle and plopped to the floor.

"Hey, Fee. Um, want some ice cream?"
 
21 - A Thoughtful Gift

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Hoenn around
Partners
  1. aggron

Prompt #21: Steven told Liza and Tate that they were always welcome to ask for advice, and not just when it relates to Gym business...

"So that's why you have to help us."

"We don't even know where to start."

"What do you get a pokemon that's 300 years old?"

"I don't even know what it's like to be 30 years old, and that's really old, but nowhere near as old as 300!"

Steven winced as he did the mental calculation on how soon he'd be nearing the twin's definition of 'old'.

Of course, this was only after he found himself sitting in his living room with a pair of flustered Gym Leaders standing across from him. Tate and Liza had called him asking for his council, and he was happy to oblige, but he hadn't expected to be roped into helping choose a birthday gift for the twins' pokemon. He had known that Solrock and Lunatone were ancient creatures, having been with the psychic family of Leaders for many generations. But he, too, was stumped by the twins' request.

"You know," he began gently, "Perhaps your mom and dad might have better ideas than me. Solrock and Lunatone used to be their pokemon."

Liza huffed and Tate's face fell.

"We already asked them!"

"They just told us to do something special."

"But what does that mean?"

"What's left that's special after 300 years?"

"I bet Solrock has met every pokemon in existence."

"And Lunatone probably has tried every treat there ever was."

"We're stumped!" both twins cried simultaneously, and Steven nearly chucked at their predicament, but that would have been rude.

So instead he opted for a smile that he hid behind the hand he thoughtfully brought to his chin.

"What if instead of something new, you gave them something old instead?" he mused.

"Huh?"

"Something old?"

Steven nodded as he elaborated, "Maybe not something that actually is old, but something that they haven't seen in a while; something nostalgic."

"Nostalgic?"

"You mean like when mom and dad go through our baby pictures to embarrass us?"

At this Steven did laugh, his own mind going back to the way his own father would bring out the dusty family photo albums whenever Wallace would stop by. But his laughter quickly died down as he thought back to the other pages of the album; the ones at the very front that his father would skip when there was company over. The ones that held a smiling stranger's face tight within their pages. The woman whose face felt so warm and familiar, and yet so foreign at the same time. Steven felt the silence of the room hang heavy as the twins picked up on his stirring memories.

Two concerned gazes were locked onto his own, and he quickly recollected himself with a small smile, waving their worry away.

"Ah, forgive me. When you're as old as I am, those baby pictures are especially embarrassing to remember."

The twins shared an uneasy look between themselves, but didn't press the Champion's thin lie any further. Instead, Tate chose to bring it back to the matter at hand.

"But we don't have any baby pictures of our pokemon..."

"They're 300 years old, remember?"

"Did they even have pictures back then?"

Steven smiled, "It's not the pictures that are important. Lots of other things can trigger meaningful memories. Sights, sounds, smells..."

The twins' faces scrunched deep in thought.

"What did it smell like 300 years ago?"

"I bet it smelled all musty, like the books at Mt. Pyre, or the bottom of an old cave -"

Cave...

"I may have an idea," Steven said, raising a finger as the thought came to him. He waved the twins in to a huddle as he brought out his PokeNav, calling a map up to the screen. "I'm willing to bet Lunatone and Solrock haven't been here in a long, long time..."



Tate and Liza had never seen their partners expressions light up like they did when they released them into the cavern. They had followed Steven's directions carefully, and armed with a picnic basket filled to the brim with treats, they had trekked deep into the cave before letting Lunatone and Solrock out of their balls.

Sunlight poured through the holes in the roof, carved by ancient meteors, and it danced through the shallow cascades of crystal clear water that fed the upper basin of Meteor Falls. The psychic pokemon's joyful calls echoed off the pale rocks as they spiraled slowly upward, taking in the sight of their birthplace. 300 years was a long time, and somehow the secluded area of the Falls had remained relatively untouched in all that time. Floating back down to their trainers, the ancient pokemon nestled happily into Tate and Liza's waiting arms, sharing 300 years worth of gratitude with their young partners.
 

Just a Torchic

DaiMikuNagi my Beloved
Location
Sootopolis City
Pronouns
she/they/he?
Partners
  1. torchic
  2. custom/torchic-blue
Hi there! I just first want to say that this was one of the first longfics I read when I was first getting into Pokémon, so this story means a lot to me! Also, I understand you don't care about grammar/spelling editing points, which is fair, so I won't point them out in my reviews for these stories. Crossposting can be a pain.

Also my quoting is going to be a little unconventional because I'm reading another story at the same time, and I'm quoting that fic, and I don't want to blend them.

Also I am very sleepy so apologies for my ramblings. I really love the Hoenn region and its characters, and I'm constantly craving content of them. Luckily, this fic does not disappoint. Quite the opposite: it makes me smile. A lot.

I love all of the characters and their dynamics with each other. My favorites would probably be Steven and Wallace's interactions, though Sidney and Phoebe's banter is also super fun. Their friendship/rivalry is really fun to read. I'm interested to see what other character interactions we'll see, especially Sidney and Wallace. What happens when you take two people who are fancy in different ways and put them in the same room? Will they get along? Try to kill each other? The people must know!

Okay first story:
I really, really like this story, especially with the fireplace. Those, for me, have always been a symbol of gathering together, of friends and family. And power outage stories are so fun. So many different things can happen. My favorite part:
"Is everyone okay in here? This is some storm." Steven peered around, causing the beam of light to dance across the room.

"Are you wearing a caving headlamp?"
Oh Steven, I love you so much. You're such a lovable nerd.

Second one:

When I tell you how much I smiled when I saw Wallace my beloved—
Ok ok in all seriousness, I really love how you write these two: Wallace being the life of the party and a social butterfly, while Steven doesn't like the spotlight as much. It leads to some really nice interactions. And Wallace helping Steven with fans is a very good thing.
"Oh all the time, Steven. In fact I've signed so many body parts I can't even begin to tell you which one was my favorite."
...What body parts, Wallace?
What body parts???
Also he mentioned signing cheeks (what cheeks???) and a baby (A BABY???? A SMALL HUMAN CHILD????? I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS). Oh Wallace, I freaking love you.
"Ahh, you're right... It's just..." Steven ran a hand nervously through his hair, "I'm not really very good at talking to people."

"You talk to me all the time."

"You're my friend, Wallace. Of course I can talk to you."
First of all, love this exchange. Second of all, very relatable. As someone who both loves talking to people and gets overwhelmed by it, I love this exchange.
My fuzzy brain read this as "thong" and it reminded me of this one tale involving Wallace and an order of thongs. A tale for another time. In Discord DMs, probably.
Salamence was sitting calmly on the floor of the arena along with the rest of Drake's pokemon, but they weren't alone. Steven stood at the center of the group, giving each dragon an affectionate head pat.
This is a very cute image (:

As much as I write my angst and stuff of my faves, I also love reading them just... vibing. And doing mundane, everyday stuff. You satiate that hunger for Good Vibes. Thank you.

Other little questions:
Where does Glacia come from in your ficverse? I headcanon her as being Poké-Polish (self projection lol)
Are you using a prompt list? If so, did you make the prompts yourself, or did someone else make them?
 

Nubushi

しぶい
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. custom/slowpoke-hgss
  2. custom/togekiss-nubushi
Hey there, I am here for a review of the first short story of this collection, prompt #1 (power outages).

I remember from your intro post your love of Hoenn and the Aggron line, both of which I heartily concur with, and like you, I really enjoy exploring the personalities and backgrounds of some of the more minor characters in the Pokemon world. So it was really a treat to read this short which sheds a spotlight on Hoenn's Elite Four and Champion, their personalities, and the way they interact with each other.

Hoenn E4 are one of the E4 that stuck less in my memory than others, but that's clearly simply due to my spending less time battling them than the E4 of some other games, as they all have plenty of personality and individuality.

Out of the Elite Four, Phoebe is the most memorable here. Like in the games, she's brimming with energy and has a positive personality. Aside from her brief squabble with Sidney (which kind of makes sense if you think about the similarity and mutual weakness of their pokemon types), she is mostly the one to see the bright side of things, inject positivity into the situation, and come up with a way to make the best out of the unfortunate situation. Her enjoyment of her pokemon type also comes across in her enthusiasm about the idea of telling ghost stories.

Glacia has a more quiet and refined personality, and is the one who at first just wants some peace and quiet, though she shows her class in her comment on the beautiful view of the stars. This fits with the image she projects in the games, and I'm guessing her comment about coming from a cloudy place is referring to the pokemon-world-version of England (Galar?), which likewise fits well with her image.

Sidney is a bit more rought around the edges, again, a logical choice given his appearance and way of presenting himself. Drake has the least time in the story, but comes across as straightforward and practical.

Out of all the characters, Steven in this story is really a treat to read because of the humor of his having on hand (not in his house, in the League) a caving headlamp, and using it. It totally fits with canon, and it's also totally amusing--like Lance and capes, the contrast between his elegance and his cave-exploring, rock-collecting habits is endlessly fun to play with. In your story, he also comes across as having a bit more of a fanciful side, which comes across in his leading the team to his favorite place which turns out to be the roof, for stargazing. These details, and the one about his lack of enthusiasm about Phoebe's ghosts, give him a really human side and round him out as a character, about as much as possible in a story this length.

Overall, I have only a few things to critique, but they are really nitpicks.

"Hey!"

"Oh man, you had to jinx it didn't you!"

"I didn't jinx anything! Weren't you the one who said it couldn't get any worse when we had to cancel the yearly outing because of the storm?"
It's stated just after this exchange that it's Sidney and Phoebe quarreling, but it's unclear which line is said by whom. However, it's ultimately not terribly important.

The Elites shared a puzzled look but decided to follow after their eccentric leader.
This sentence, the "decided to follow" part, seemed a bit summarizing and is also a bit of a contrast from the rest of the story in that it's an omniscient POV, summarizing a decision that happens inside the heads of all of the characters. While I think keeping it external (letting the characters' actions speak for themselves) would both give you a clearer, more dynamic image and also be a bit smoother, ultimately, this is a really minor snag in the story.

Ultimately, it's a fun exploration in which the personality of each character stands out clearly. The interactions among the Elites and Steven were a pleasure to read, and the lovely ending left me with a smile on my face, feeling almost as peaceful as if I got to enjoy that starry view myself. Looking forward to reading more!
 

Nubushi

しぶい
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. custom/slowpoke-hgss
  2. custom/togekiss-nubushi
Prompt #2:

So here we have Steven at a presumably younger and earlier point in his career than in the first one-shot. While in the preceding story, Steven came across as comfortable enough with his co-workers to not be bothered by a little teasing and willing to share his favorite place with them, here he is shy to the point of being painful; one wonders how he was possibly able to survive any kind of public role he might have had up until now in connection with Devon Corp.

Wallace is obviously milking it, using Steven's stage fright as an opportunity to heighten his friend's nervousness with some increasingly wild and (one hopes) exaggerated claims. Still, there's more said in the omission ("pair of . . .") than in the actual spoken words, which just adds to the hilarity.

Overall, it's a very humorous short in which Wallace is merciless in stoking Steven's anxiety, but also in the end the one who will be there for him and help him face everything to come.

Prompt #3:

Another humorous short. Basically, the personalities are fairly consistent with short #1. Like that one, Phoebe comes across as upbeat and fun-loving, and Sidney as a tad irresponsible. (Lucky for him Steven is there to save the day!) Glacia, on the other hand, is showing her frosty side, though I suppose that fits in with this being an elaborate practical joke, and with the characters trying to make Sidney feel as terrified as possible before revealing that they have things taken care of.

The story begs a few questions, like do high-ranking trainers really go on vacation without taking any pokemon (for emergencies? to deal with wild pokemon? for transportation?) and introduces some world-building details about pokemon care, like that they do need to be fed even if kept in pokeballs (otherwise, Drake could just leave his dragons in their pokeballs to keep them from getting hungry) and the charming idea of an altaria needing a grooming appointment. But, with this kind of story it's best not to pick at straws too much and simply enjoy the humorous details--like Phoebe floating on her ghost pokemon--and the picture the story paints of a bunch of trainers tight-knit enough to call each other nicknames, know each other's flaws, and prank each other mercilessly.
 
22 - Nightmare New

Panoramic_Vacuum

Hoenn around
Partners
  1. aggron
Note: This chapter is definitely horror themed. Originally written for Halloween, it is decidedly different than most of the entries in this collection.


Prompt #22: Someone has a nightmare.

The last time Steven could recall a day this peaceful, well in all honesty, he actually couldn't. At least not in recent memory. But here he was, alone with nothing but the sounds of the underground around him. A chisel in one hand and a hammer in the other, a small bag of spoils sat at his feet, and Steven sighed in contentment. The League had become stressful lately, what with the addition of a new Gym and the retirement of not one, but two Leaders, there was a fair amount of work to be done to ensure any ongoing League challenges would continue uninterrupted.

Which was why the situation struck him as odd. Shouldn't he be working right now? Steven's brow furrowed and he glanced at his watch. Strange, it was actually the middle of the night. Why was he still awake at this hour? Setting down his tools, he glanced around the cave and noticed his usual stash of supplies was absent. Perhaps he left them back at the surface, as it appeared this was only a small cave system. Dutifully, he picked up his meager equipment and headed out in search of his camp.

It was only as the mouth of the cave came into view that Steven noticed another oddity. His pokemon were conspicuously absent from his hip. A sudden tightness found its way across his chest. He could count on one hand the number of times Metagross had ever not been at his side, all the way back to when it was just a small Beldum. Where was his team?

Steven's pace quickened in time with his heartbeat as he neared the cave's exit.

But he never made it there.

The cavern floor suddenly began to shake beneath his feet, sending him stumbling. As he tried to pick himself up off the ground, a dull roar issued from the depths of the cave. Scrambling back to his feet he hazarded a glance backward to find the source of the noise, and his breath caught in his throat.

Somehow the omnipresent darkness of the cave had taken a more tangible form, crawling and scurrying along the walls and ceiling. The absence of light was curling and forming into pointed claws that raked at the stone leaving blackened gouges in their wake. Living, breathing darkness that threatened to swallow him whole.

As a paralyzing wash of terror flooded his senses, a small voice told him there was still a way out, all hope was not lost. He still had an escape route, and he willed himself begin to sprint toward the exit again, yet it never seemed to draw any nearer. The cave rumbled again, this time loosening bounders from the ceiling that came crashing down all around. Throwing his arms up to shield his face, Steven plunged forward; there was the daylight streaming in, he could still make it! Wait, wasn't it past midnight? What was going on...?

In his moment of confusion he had paused in his frantic escape, and when he went to resume his sprint, he found something stopping him. His leg was rooted in place, but it wasn't the falling rubble that trapped him. Something was holding him there, gripping his ankle with fearsome strength. Reaching down with both hands to free himself, he froze. Fingers made of stone had reached up from the cave floor and grabbed him in an unyielding hold. He kneeled down and pried at the lifeless grip, but it refused to budge. Panic began to rise in his throat, he was running out of time. The darkness was closing in, still roaring like an animal possessed.

As he gave another tug at the offending restraint, a second manacle circled his other leg, stony fingers digging into his calf. Wheeling around to try to free himself, something else grabbed at the back of his jacket and pulled, dragging him awkwardly to the ground where he was met with a cold embrace. Arms of stone reached up to snake around his waist and chest, and try as he might, he couldn't break free from their grasp as he was pinned helplessly to the earth.

And that's when the darkness caught him. Eyes wide with terror he watched the black beast descend, pouring in from all sides of the cave in a massive sickening wave. He tugged and writhed against the bonds that held him captive, anything to get away from this unknown enemy, but it was futile. The first inky knives sunk into the flesh of his leg and he cried out from the pain. Or at least he tried to. No sound would escape his lips as the creature dragged itself up his body, one searing, stabbing claw at a time until its deathly hands encircled his neck. He choked at the pressure, he could feel the breath leaving his lungs, unable to be replenished.

In one last terror fueled push, he tried desperately to shove the beast off him with the only hand that wasn't trapped by the very earth that betrayed him, but the shadows were as intangible as their normally benign counterparts. Grasping at the nothingness that was slowly squeezing the life from him, the stony hands finally caught his last flailing limb and anchored it to the ground with the rest of him. It was only then that the darkness decided to show its true face. Cruel teeth formed in a featureless visage that sneered down at its pathetic captive. A guttural growl mixed with an otherworldly screech emanated from the creature as it howled in his face, victorious.

Suddenly, the pair of hands around his neck loosened their hold. The long slender fingers reached up to gently caress his cheek as the faceless shadows leered down at him; the normally soothing gesture only served to panic him further and he tried to scream once more. Without warning, the shadowy hands forced their way into his mouth, prying it wide. He began to hyperventilate, but it didn't last long. Without warning the creature poured itself down his throat, the acrid darkness choking him. He was drowning in it now, his lungs filling with the nothingness. His body jerked involuntarily against the onslaught, and the edges of his vision began to swim in the inky blackness. This was the end, this is how he would die...



Metagross blinked one red eye open. It had been snoozing peacefully in its trainer's study, but a noise had disturbed its slumber. Slumped forward on the desk was its trainer, asleep on his paperwork. It wasn't a surprising sight. Metagross had seen its trainer push himself to exhaustion in that very chair countless times. But what was surprising this time was how he twitched and moaned ever so softly in his sleep. Metagross hadn't seen that sort of behavior very often. After the chair creaked from a particularly fierce shudder, it decided to keep a wary eye on its trainer. So when Steven gave a sudden jerk, toppling himself from the chair entirely, Metagross was quick to react.

Steven flailed for a moment, gasping for breath and blinking in confusion even as Metagross eased him gently to the ground with its psychic powers. He was quick to find his starter's concerned gaze, and he rubbed one shaking hand across his eyes.

"Metagross."

The way the name left his lips, it was as if he hadn't seen his partner in years. The sort of gratitude in one's voice that came from the deepest longing, the most heartfelt sincerity. Metagross could feel the emotion pouring from its trainer, and it reverberated a soothing tone in reply. It was here. It would always be here.

Steven shook his head to clear the lingering visions. "I-I'm sorry, it was just a bad dream."

But Metagross had seen enough to know it wasn't as simple as that. Its trainer never looked that rattled. As gingerly as it could, Metagross picked its way across the study until it was able to nestle up against its trainer's side. Steven's skin was clammy when he leaned his head against Metagross's steel hide. It rumbled a quiet note and it could feel its trainer nod in return.

"I'd like that, if you don't mind."

As his suit jacket was lowered gently across his chest, Steven's eyes closed, and Metagross was more than happy let its trainer fall asleep in its arms, just as he did for it all those years ago.
 
23 - Challengers These Days New

Panoramic_Vacuum

Hoenn around
Partners
  1. aggron

Prompt #23: A would-be Dragon Master, complete with costume, challenges the League

Phoebe was dutifully scrolling through the docket of challengers in preparation for any that might make it through Sidney's team. An Ace Trainer, those guys always came prepared. A Pokefan, they were one hit wonders, and most fizzed earlier rather than later. A Triathlete, interesting, since their pokemon were always well trained, but rarely had enough power to make it deep into the Elite. Flicking through the rest of the list, her eyes glazed over until one image popped up on the screen.

Immediately she bolted upright with a snort of laughter.

"Sidney, c'mere," she waved at the dark-type expert as she tried to hold in another laugh, "What is that?"

Only halfway interested at what Phoebe may have had to show him, Sidney leaned over with a casual glance. But when he caught sight of the screen, his eyes bugged out of his head before he too doubled over with laughter.

"Oh my god, Fee. I have no idea what that is! Maybe he's supposed to be a magician?"

Phoebe shook her head, still shaking with amusement. "I already read the brief, so I know. I just want to see if you can guess."

Sidney scratched at his ear in thought, but not without a ridiculous smile. "Gee, maybe he's one of those contest coordinator-turned-battlers, like Wallace?"

"Nope."

"Oh man, uhh, maybe he's..."

As Glacia strolled into the lounge, Phoebe cut Sidney off to wave her over.

"Let's see if Glacia knows!"

"Know what, exactly...?" the ice-type specialist trailed off, suspicious of the two younger trainer's antics.

"What this challenger is going for," Phoebe said with a grin, as she wheeled the tablet around for Glacia to see.

Her eyes went wide at the spectacle. "Oooh... I... Haven't the faintest idea."

Sidney laughed as Phoebe flung herself dramatically over the arm of the couch. "Someone go get Drake, he has to know," she moaned.

"We'd all know if you told us, Fee."

"Where's the fun in that?"

Sidney shrugged, but the gesture went unnoticed as the fourth and final Elite made his appearance.

"There shouldn't be any fun, we've got challengers coming today," he grated out, but not without a twinkle in his eye.

"Yeah, we know. Phoebe won't tell us who we're facing though."

"Really now?" Drake quirked an eyebrow.

"I'll tell everyone if you can't guess what this is on the first try," Phoebe said as she sat back up, holding the tablet out, and Drake plucked it from her grasp.

"This is what all the fuss is about?"

All eyes turned to the Dragon Master as he scanned the photo. Phoebe held her breath and latched onto Sidney's arm in anticipation. Even Glacia found herself leaning in, waiting for Drake's answer.

He remained silent for a beat longer before speaking up. "I have no clue what the heck that is."

Everyone deflated in defeat. "Fine, I guess I'll have to just tell you all..." began Phoebe, but in that moment, another voice sounded from over Drake's shoulder.

"Oh, looks like we're having a Dragon Master paying us a visit this afternoon."

Four pairs of eyes turned to meet the Champion as he glanced down at the tablet from behind his cup of coffee.

"A what now?" Drake's tone was dangerously low.

"A Dragon Master," said Steven matter-of-factly. "Or at least a self-proclaimed one. I've seen plenty of them when I train out at Meteor Falls."

Phoebe nodded dumbly, too shocked that of all people, Steven would be the one to recognize the outlandish outfit of too much spandex and gold piping, complete with a flowing cape.

No one spoke, so Steven offered a shrug, "When you're friends with Wallace for long enough, nothing really surprises you any more. Fashion-wise, I mean."

But Drake was still steaming. "I have half a mind to ask you lot to let him through so I can show him a thing or two about dragon training... But on the other hand, I wouldn't ask you to go through the embarrassment of losing to that."

"Hey Boss," Sidney piped up, "Maybe just this once Drake and I can switch places?"

"That's not a bad idea," chimed Glacia, "I'm kind of in the mood for a good old-fashioned humiliation match."

Steven's gaze narrowed as seriously considered it. "I'm willing to allow it just this once... Drake?"

Still muttering, Drake grumbled an affirmative before tossing the tablet down on the nearest table and stalking out of the room. "Only if you promise to let me call Lance about this. He's wearing tights for chrissakes."

"Well, I guess that settles it," Steven nodded, but not without a nervous glance at the retreating sea captain.

Phoebe grinned as she skipped out the door, "I'll bring the popcorn!"
 
24 - The Show Must Go On New

Panoramic_Vacuum

Hoenn around
Partners
  1. aggron

Prompt #24: A sprained ankle isn't going to keep Wallace from a contest. Everyone else thinks it's a terrible idea.

"I really don't think this is a good idea..."

"Nonsense, The Lilycove Summer Spectacular only happens but once a year!"

Both Lisia and Juan had gathered in Wallace's room, and they frowned down at the Gym Leader sprawled out on his lounge chair with a foot propped on some pillows and a nasty purple bruise peeking out from beneath an ice pack.

"Don't give me that, it's not as bad as it looks," he protested, wincing as he tried to wiggle the injured foot.

"Uncle Wallace, you can't even put any weight on it. How are you going to perform?"

"I'll... I'll figure something out. I always do!"

"Perhaps I should go in your stead," suggested Juan with a wistful look. "I'm worried the strain of a contest might hinder your recovery."

Wallace was about to deliver his protest when the door to the room opened and Steven blustered in, slightly out of breath.

"I came as soon as I could," he breathed, holding the walking boot out toward the water-type trainer, but he froze when he saw Wallace was not alone as he was lead to believe. "Oh, Juan, Lisia, I'm sorry! I didn't realized you were here too."

Juan's eyes slid from the boot to Wallace's innocent expression before addressing the room's newest member. "And you agreed to this despite your best efforts to persuade him otherwise, I assume?"

"Actually -" Steven gave an apologetic smile.

"He stepped in a divot in a cave in Sinnoh a few months ago and didn't want to cut the trip short," said Wallace airily, "Can we move past how much you disapprove of the idea so I can put it on and get going to Lilycove?"

Steven shot Wallace a look for ratting him out so heartlessly, but Wallace ignored it as he wiggled his hand expectantly. Ducking under Juan's disapproving stare, Steven moved to the end of the lounge and cautiously began to slide Wallace's foot into the boot.

Wallace put on a brave face, but even for how gentle Steven tried to be, he still sucked in a pained breath with every adjustment.

"I still think this is a poor decision," Juan said, his frown deepening. "I won't cover your Gym duties for you if this contest injures your ankle further."

But Wallace casually waved him off, "I fully accept the consequences of my actions. You worry too much, Master. I'll be -" he jolted with discomfort as Steven secured the last strap in place, "-fine."

"Mmhmm..."

Juan's skeptical look remained as Wallace swung his legs to the floor and rose unsteadily to his feet. The boot did an admirable job, but Wallace couldn't hide a grimace as he hobbled toward his wardrobe.

"Uncle Wallace... You're not seriously going to perform with that boot?"

Lisia's quiet voice froze Wallace to the spot. For how many times he had told her to listen to her mother's words, he certainly wasn't setting the best of examples. He turned, ready to deliver a 'do as I say, not as I do' speech, but the determination in Lisia's gaze caused the words to freeze in his throat.

"It's so hideous! We need to dress it up if you're going to wear it to the performance!"

Wallace couldn't hide the grin that crept across his face. "You're absolutely right, my dear!"

"You're not going to be wanting this back, are you?" Wallace asked as he turned toward Steven.

Steven shook his head. "I certainly wasn't planning on it."

"Brilliant! Now shoo!" Wallace waved everyone who wasn't Lisia out of the room. "We've got work to do!"



The next morning, Steven found himself grinning over his morning coffee. Splashed across the front page was a photo of Wallace at the Lilycove Summer Spectacular, perched atop his Gyarados waving to his adoring fans. Even in black and white it was hard to miss the brilliant sparkle of the glitter encrusted walking boot. No, he definitely didn't need it back now.
 

Just a Torchic

DaiMikuNagi my Beloved
Location
Sootopolis City
Pronouns
she/they/he?
Partners
  1. torchic
  2. custom/torchic-blue
Hi, Pano! Hope you're doing well, friend (can I call you friend? Is it too soon to call you friend?) I'm here to read your newly posted stories. My brain needs a break from longer fics, and my brain also likes Hoenn.

First, I'll get my line by line stuff out of the way:
what with the addition of a new Gym and the retirement of not one, but two Leaders, there was a fair amount of work to be done to ensure any ongoing League challenges would continue uninterrupted.
I need the story of these Gym Leaders. This is completely unrelated to the rest of the story, but who were the two who retired, and who replaced them? (I'm guessing at least one of the new Gym Leaders is Norman?) Thought with the added Gym... how many Gyms does Hoenn have afterwards? Eight? Nine? Am I thinking too much into this?
Steven would be the one to recognize the outlandish outfit of too much spandex and gold piping, complete with a flowing cape.
It's because of Wallace. Gonna bet six whole dollars that this is because of Wallace.
"When you're friends with Wallace for long enough, nothing really surprises you any more. Fashion-wise, I mean."
Fricking called it. Hand over the money. /j Ok but in all seriousness Steven could see Wallace in nothing but a thong and be like "aight it's just another Tuesday".
Also is Wallace's outfit made of spandex, or is it some other fabric? The crop top might be, but the pants are too flowy to be spandex. It's probably some other fabric that does well as a swim fabric. Then again, this does imply that Wallace has worn spandex suits before... maybe. Maybe I'm reading this wrong. Maybe I'm rambling about Wallace in spandex and need to stop. Okay. I will.
Both Lisia and Juan had gathered in Wallace's room, and they frowned down at the Gym Leader sprawled out on his lounge chair with a foot propped on some pillows and a nasty purple bruise peeking out from beneath an ice pack.
This is such a very good and very funny and very cute mental image. Evokes fancy Renaissance painting energy, which is very much injured Wallace energy.
wincing as he tried to wiggle the injured foot.
The Wiggles!
MV5BOWVmNDJjMGUtYTQ4NC00YTRmLTk2YWMtZGVhYzcwY2UyYTA1XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTM5MzA0MDQ4._V1_FMjpg_UX1...jpg
"I came as soon as I could," he breathed, holding the walking boot out toward the water-type trainer, but he froze when he saw Wallace was not alone as he was lead to believe. "Oh, Juan, Lisia, I'm sorry! I didn't realized you were here too."
Oh no a walking boot lol. Wallace ain't gonna like wearing that. Those things are big.
"I won't cover your Gym duties for you if this contest injures your ankle further."
"If you trip on that sprained ankle and die, you better write in a different replacement in your will."
"How do I write a will if I'm dead?"
"It's called haunting, Wallace. I've been doing it for twenty years."
"...Master—"
"That's right, my child. I am the spirit of a pirate from three centuries ago, and I have been haunting you since the day you were born."
"This is a great conversation," Steven interrupted, "but I just did a look at Wallace's foot, and it looks like it's straight up broken. How the hell did this happen?'
Lisia's quiet voice froze Wallace to the spot. For how many times he had told her to listen to her mother's words, he certainly wasn't setting the best of examples. He turned, ready to deliver a 'do as I say, not as I do' speech, but the determination in Lisia's gaze caused the words to freeze in his throat.
This is my favorite paragraph out of all of the paragraphs in your story. 1000/10.

Okay more general thoughts on each of the stories:

Steven gets a nightmare
Hell yeah Metagross taking care of Steven. Also Steven, get sleep! Very nice, creepy vibes.

Dragon weeaboo and Wallace wearing spandex
This was a really cute look into the Hoenn Elite Four's friendship and Steven's friendship with Wallace. Now I'm imagining all of the crazy outfits Wallace has worn.

I fight the urge to reference "Sherry Darling"
I really like Wallace interacting with Juan. I really like Juan interacting with Lisia. I really like Lisia interacting with Wallace. I really, really, really like Wallace and Juan and Lisia all interacting. It's such an interesting dynamic. Ramble incoming and I apologize.

So we have Juan, who mentored Wallace. We also have Wallace, who mentored Lisia. She saw Wallace doing Contests, and she tried them out! Wallace was able to focus on his Gym duties once Lisia surpassed him in Contests, and she still always places ahead of him in ORAS. Did something similar happen with Wallace seeing Juan in Contests? With Wallace and Lisia being related by blood, does Juan see Wallace as family? By extension, does he see Lisia as family? What does he think of his student becoming a mentor? Is he going to sing "Slipping Through My Fingers" like fricking Mamma Mia? Is Juan the lady from Mamma Mia? Does Juan see Wallace as a son and Lisia, by extension, as a granddaughter/grandniece? What does Lisia think of Juan? Is he a legendary figure or an old geezer? WHO IS THE "ONE WHO LOOKS LIKE A STAR????" What does Lisia's mom think of Wallace? What does she think about her brother and daughter being coordinators? Do they have any other siblings? Why was Wallace chosen to be guardian if he's not the eldest sibling of the family?... This is getting off topic, isn't it?

But to get (sort of) back on track, we also have these lines from Pokémon Masters:

"I have a niece named Lisia. She's about the same age as you, <player>. I would love to introduce you two sometime. I feel like she could grow a lot with you as a role model. Hm-hmm... Uh-oh. Am I turning into one of those annoying uncles that butts into everyone's lives? I just want to see you all grow up happily ever after. Is that so bad?"
"My former master, Juan, always doted on me when I was in training. Now that I'm in a similar position, I think I understand the feeling."


Wallace is really proud of Lisia, and Juan was also very fond of Wallace (unconditionally, according to Google's definition of dote). Wallace is starting to relate to his former mentor after becoming a mentor of his own. How does he feel about that? How does he feel about his niece surpassing him? How does he feel about returning to Contests? Did Wallace surpass Juan, and if so, how did Juan feel about that? Is Lisia going to be become a Gym Leader or Lorekeeper? How does she feel about that? But most of all, why does Wallace want to see Lisia grow up happily?!?! Is that just a generic thing uncles say, or was he denied a happy childhood and doesn't want his niece going through what he went to?!?! Am I overthinking this?!?!?!?!?!

Anyway ramble over, but if you want to here more of my rambles, hit me up! I love rambling when I'm given a specific topic to talk about, especially when that topic is something I'm hyperfixated on. I'm sorry if my Wallace rambles are annoying.

Good stuff! Once again, I'm reading these very out of order, and I apologize, but I can't wait to read the rest! Take care of yourself, and I'll see you real soon!
 
Last edited:

Just a Torchic

DaiMikuNagi my Beloved
Location
Sootopolis City
Pronouns
she/they/he?
Partners
  1. torchic
  2. custom/torchic-blue
so uh.... I read 12 of these short stories in one day. Should I be concerned? Yes. Am I concerned? No. This was a fun trip down memory lane. I remember reading a lot of these back when I was first getting into Pokémon fic, and they're such a nice breather from writing/editing IAM and, uh, well, every possible dark and angsty thing minus gore. Also I love Hoenn.
Anyway take my comments and shitposting:
Wallace was all out of sorts. He sniffled and ached and his head felt like it was inflated larger than a Drifloon. This wasn't supposed to happen.
hell yeah Wallace sickfic.
Sootopolitans never got sick!
He had nearly emptied half the box before Victoria found her way to his side, cooing worriedly at her trainer's condition.
So it turns out you might have been the most influential Pokémon fanfic author to me save the author of the masterpiece Attack of Mewtwo.
This dastardly illness has done a number on me.
It's so fucking hilarious for Wallace to call a cold dastardly. Wonder what he calls... *looks up bad diseases*... cholera?
"Steven, it's just awful! I have been bedridden with the most wicked illness. My nose will not stop running and my head feels like it is going to explode!"
Not to be a sadist or anything, but sick Wallace is either really funny or really cathartic, depending on context.
"I'll be back in Hoenn in three days. You'll be my first stop when I return. I have to run now. I have faith you can make it until then." The hint of amusement in Steven's voice was lost on the moping Gym Leader.

"Do hurry, Steven. This could be the last time you speak to me before I waste away..."

Steven laughed again. "Feel better, Wallace." And the call ended.
Turns out Wallace's illness was worse than a head cold.
It had been several hours since Wallace spoke with Steven, and still no one had called to offer their concern as to why the Gym Leader had yet to show his face around town.
guys what if Wallace was kidnapped.
"Glacia?"
GLACIA!!!! YES!!!! MORE GLACIA BEING WALLACE'S MOM FRIEND!!!!
It only had been a few days when the eggs began to glow. He stood in wonder as four baby Beldum materialized before his eyes.
Baby beldum!
But as he looked to the last egg, still sitting whole at the end of the line, the first baby Beldum let loose a shriek, whether it was hunger, excitement, fright, or otherwise, Steven would never know, as immediately the other three Beldum joined in their litter mate's crying.
Actual footage of Steven carrying a baby:
View: https://youtu.be/WTawuVZBZuc?t=64

Their wailing cries continued as Steven wove his way through the disastrous state of his living room and out toward the yard. He could barely think straight with how badly his ears were ringing. Along the way, one of the babies decided that the human now cradling it in their arms must have been doing all of the work in keeping it above the floor, so it stopped its levitating. Of course, Steven was not prepared to hold the full weight of a steel pokemon, and the little one fell straight down to the floor, landing square on his foot. He yelled in pain; that had to be a broken toe, and his shout only served to make the Beldum cry louder in his arms.
Breaking news: Steven drops a baby. Let's cancel him.
Metagross rumbled a low note and Steven shot it a glare.

"No way, you and I are in this together. It's a joint responsibility."
Here is the context for my dumbass shitpost.
steven_and_metagross_50.png
"Hello little one. You're quite the looker aren't you?"
Looker.
Good thing he was used to functioning on so little sleep.
Steven no!!!
Phoebe and Flannery exchanged nervous glances as they spoke in hushed tones. Wallace had been pacing at the edge of the pool for a while now, spouting off all the virtues of how water was the best way to hone a trainer's body.
"Uwu my glorious queens, stay hydrated!"
"It's just it'll be summertime soon and... well... we're both single..."
Wallace sighed. "So am I."
"Then what's the deal with all of the women in your Gym's?" Flannery asked.
"The preferred term is 'arm candy', you uncultured swine! Get with the times!"
Phoebe nodded in agreement, although the expression on the Master Coordinator's face remained unamused.
"Oh.......... you fools. You absolute clowns."
Why oh why had Phoebe listened to Steven when he casually mentioned Wallace's penchant for staying in shape?
It's like that scene in Flash Beagle!!!!!
Actual footage of Wallace getting the Gym Leaders in shape:
View: https://vimeo.com/428926467

"All right, hop in," he commanded as he slipped into the pool himself. "60 laps should be a nice warm up swim. Then we move on to calisthenics!"
Wallace WHAT
Wallace had already taken off to start his own laps, and Phoebe and Flannery shared a glance again before arriving at the same conclusion. As Wallace disappeared down toward the far end of the pool, Phoebe beckoned to some of the nearby Gym pokemon. Flannery slipped a few treats from her bag and in no time both trainers had their very own workout partners. Phoebe kicked along behind an all too cheerful Spheal while Flannery found herself a friendly Whiscash that was willing to give her a ride. The 60 laps passed smoothly, and somehow Wallace was none the wiser.
Awwww swimming with Pokémon
Wallace ushered the group into his private weight room where they could continue to train.
Private weight room???? My man is prepared.
As Wallace launched into an explanation on the optimal circuit for toning muscle, Mismagius and Duskull quietly slipped into the shadows. Every pull up, push up, and bench press was suddenly much lighter for the the pair, and on more than one occassion Phoebe had to remind her pokemon to keep their snickering to themselves, lest the water-type Leader become suspicious.
cheater cheater pumpkin eater had a wife and couldn't keep her.
A trainer not much younger than Sidney was standing along the shoreline with his back turned to their ship. They couldn't see his face, but the Trapinch cowering on the sand in front of him told them all they needed to know. He was swearing and stomping and his voice carried over the quiet waters of the harbor.

"They told me you would grow up to be a dragon! Well you haven't, and I don't see how you even could! You're just some little bug thing. You don't even have wings! I can't believe that breeder lied to me... You're supposed to be a dragon, my dragon!"
Uh oh
He had meant for it to be a surprise, he really did. But when the front door opened causing the cloud of smoke to come rolling out of the kitchen and into the foyer, the Delcatty was out of the bag. Steven poked his head out of the kitchen with a nervous smile.

"H-hey, Dad."

Joseph blinked in surprise as he gingerly set his briefcase down. He certainly hadn't expected to arrive home thinking his house was on fire, and he certainly didn't expect his son to be the reason why the smoke detectors were beeping up a storm.
Good stuff. Good, good stuff
Steven wasn't one to just visit out of the blue. In fact, he rarely visited Rustboro at all. Joseph would always remind himself that it was the League duties that kept him away; the position of Champion wasn't only glitz and glamour, and he knew Steven took the responsibilities seriously. But somehow he also had a feeling there was another reason his son would avoid coming home... It's not like he had been a great role model in the first place, all those late nights at the office when Steven was young.
mmmmm is that some angst I taste?
Another sheepish laugh came from Steven, and it was then that Joseph really got a good look at his son. He had discarded his suit jacket in favor of a chef's apron, although it apparently did little to contain the mess.
Eeeeeeeh Steven in an apron! (:
Puffs of flour dotted him from head to toe, including smudges all over one cheek. His hair was a mess, even more so than usual, and was it singed in a few spots?
this is such a cute image
Perched just beyond the plates was one of the saddest looking layer cakes he had ever seen, complete with lopsided hand-piped letters.
Poor layer cakes.
Sidney decided this was the first and last time he ever wanted to see a Garchomp with a confused expression on its face. But that's precisely what he saw when he walked into the practice arena. Cynthia's Garchomp and Glacia's Walrein sat on the battlefield side by side in bewildered silence as they watched the real combatants duke it out.
Ooooooh drama
Both women had left their respective trainer's boxes and marched across to meet at the center of the field. Mere inches from one another, they yelled and gestured about something that left Sidney as baffled as their two pokemon.
This is a very good mental image friend.
Trailing behind the Champion was his Carbink, happily bobbing in his wake.
Okay but I genuinely smiled when I saw Carbink appeared.
a pair of blue eyes that peeked through the doorway squeezed shut and fled with a muffled, heartbroken squeak.
Oh?
But the little Snorunt still seemed agitated, and it dashed out of the training chamber without another word. Glacia frowned as it fled, but she wouldn't chase it. If Snorunt needed time alone, then she was happy to let it be in peace.
Snorunt!
Both Steven and Glacia looked on as Froslass took shape. Sharp blue eyes slowly opened and the dual type pokemon circled her trainer in an icy swirl. Glacia offered a polite curtsy to her new teammate, and Froslass trilled a happy cry in return. She smiled as she gently took one of Froslass's paws in her hand, she now understood.
Part of me was expecting the Snorunt to take out an Everstone, but yes, Frosslass pretty
"I could hardly call what we saw something as tame as 'odd'. More like 'garish'. Honestly, Steven, I have half a mind to write a strongly worded letter to the curator..."
"A strongly worded letter" omigosh Wallace I love you
"Are you saying I lack the intricacies of good taste?" Wallace's voice climbed a few notes higher, and Steven winced.
"You don't watch Rick and Morty, so clearly you lack the intricacies of good taste" Steven smirked. "But to be fair, Wallace, you have to have a very high IQ to understand Rick and Morty, and you may be a very creative Gym Leader, but you don't have a high IQ. The humour, you see, is extremely subtle, and without a solid grasp of theoretical physics most of the jokes will go over a typical viewer's head. I majored in physics, and what did you major in? Art History."

"Steven—"

"There's also Rick's nihilistic outlook," Steven continued, ignoring Wallace, "which is deftly woven into his characterisation- his personal philosophy draws heavily from Narodnaya Volya literature, for instance."

Steven's smirk became downright maniacal, his eyes glowing like he was in a slasher film. "The fans understand this stuff; they have the intellectual capacity to truly appreciate the depths of these jokes, to realise that they're not just funny- they say something deep about LIFE. As a consequence people who dislike Rick & Morty"—he pointed a finger at Wallace—"truly ARE idiots- of course,"—Steven was temporarily interrupted by his own laughter—"they wouldn't appreciate, for instance, the humour in Rick's existential catchphrase 'Wubba Lubba Dub Dub,' which itself is a cryptic reference to Turgenev's Russian epic Fathers and Sons. I'm smirking right now just imagining one of those addlepated simpletons scratching their heads in confusion as Dan Harmon's genius wit unfolds itself on their television screens. What fools.. how I pity them."

"Steven please—"

"And yes, by the way..."

Steven pulled up his shirt sleeve, revealing a tattoo of a pickle character.

"...i DO have a Rick & Morty tattoo. And no..."

Steven pulled his shirt sleeve over the tattoo.

"...you cannot see it. It's for the ladies' eyes only- and even then they have to demonstrate that they're within 5 IQ points of my own (preferably lower) beforehand. Nothin personnel kid."
"Why not the charismatic ringleader, or the dazzling trapeze artist, or the mesmerizing contortionist?!"
Contortionist?!?! You sure about that, Wallace?

Also here is a trapeze song at may or may not entertain:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hva5AMsMLRQ

"Why? Why did they have to paint my darling Milotic as the clown?!"
The lights dimmed, and Steven was suddenly wearing a fedora and holding a microphone:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOUrnUktTjU

A flock of Wingull took to the sky at Wallace's cry of rage, and Steven found it too hard to hold in his laughter as he ran for what was quite possibly his life.
This is such a good and funny line.
"So, uh, how are things going for you in Hoenn so far?"

But Norman was in no mood for small talk, and he didn't move from where he stood, arms crossed.
This is such a good dynamic. Just,,,,, please more. More Sidney and Norman.
But if I gotta do this kinda stuff to help out the Boss, then I'm gonna do it.
"That's how Mafia works."
"What do you think of him?"

"Huh?"

"The Champion, Steven Stone. What do you think of him?"
"I think he's ugly."
"Just wondering. I'm new to Hoenn, but you have to admit, having the heir to the wealthiest corporation in the region as head of the Pokemon League sounds awfully convenient..."
Yooooooooo
"Give it here, I filled out a million of these back in Johto. I'll walk you through everything as I go down the list."

Nodding, Sidney handed over the clipboard. As Norman gave the pages a cursory glance, Sidney froze and shook his head.

"Hey, wait a minute. I'm the one supposed to be doing the inspection!"

Norman just laughed and disappeared into the first chamber of the Gym with Sidney hot on his heels.
Yes! Norman mentoring Sidney!
"Well," Phoebe slid open the box and spread out its contents, "It's basically a race to the end, and you have to avoid traps from the board and from the other players too!"
Is this shoots and ladders, or something else?
Somehow Glacia remained the most calm during the exchange. "Might I point out that neither of you have denied said actions..."
Ice queen gives sick burns
"First I get cheated out of a challenger battle, and now I get cheated out of a relaxing board game?!"
What next? Getting cheated on?
But as he reached out for his card, a ghostly hand slid up from the tabletop and slipped a new card in at the top of the deck.
This is so funny
"Plus it's got a new feature that lets us call each other too, so we don't have to use the old clunky League intercom any more."
Gosh darn it Phoebe, what about those phones from the manga that are shaped like the Gym badges? Norman paid good money for those. Then again, the Elite Four doesn't have Elite badges........ yo hire me, Steven.
'Cant w8 2 chat ol sea buddy :-)'

With a groan, Drake was now staring at the device through the fingers of his other hand. He rubbed his brow and sighed. Somehow even old Briney had beaten him to the punch. He suddenly felt very weary, and he pocketed the PokeNav before shuffling back toward his chamber. Maybe Altaria could help him decipher exactly how to use this blasted thing.

"I'm getting too old for this shit."
"Steven! Why did Sidney reply 'nice' when I said I won 69 battles this week?"
So when his text message was responded to with a single word reply
Wallace usually text essays, complete with proper punctuation and paragraph breaking.
Something was wrong...
Oh hell yeah,,,,,,, Wallace angst.
"No, I would not like to talk about it. I doubt you would understand anyway..."
YES! THIS TROPE!!!!!!!! WHERE THE CHARACTER DENIES HELP!!!!!!!!!!! OR SAYS "I don't want to talk about it"!!!!!!!!!
Steven nodded as he smiled, "I've been told I'm a good listener."
"Who told you that?"
"...My rocks."
"She was seeing someone else on the side."
OH NO! WHO CHEATED ON MY MAIN MAN??????
Though funny image of Wallace being a country singer singing about his girl cheating on him.
Sidney gingerly sat up from the lounge chair and grimaced as his arm brushed against the side. The view from his room's balcony was too serene to pass up, but unfortunately the excitement of the previous day had caught up with him and he had fallen asleep, and now he was paying dearly for it. So far in their trip to Alola he'd been responsible, always wearing sunscreen, especially on his head, and finding some shade to rest in throughout the day. But his cat nap in the direct sun had proven to be too much. If only Absol had been by his side, it could have warned Sidney about his impending doom.
Haha
The only sound was Wallace's fork clattering against the table where he had dropped it.
gosh darn it, Wallace.

But yeah, good stuff. Love this fic a lot, and it's a nostalgic trip for me. Good stuff. Pls update.
 

Spiteful Murkrow

Pokémon Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Partners
  1. nidoran-f
Heya, was going around to throw some reviews the way of people who'd stopped to give the time and energy to review my writing over the past few weeks when I remembered you gave me a nice one for Dragonspiral's Children back in Week 1. So that seemed as good a reason as any to leave a review for something with a comparable amount of words, so I decided to take a gander at a few pieces from your Hoenn short story collection.

Alright, enough preamble, time for some actual reviewing:

Prompt #1

"Awwwww!"


The collective whine rose from the sofa where two of the Elite were sitting around the TV. A particularly nasty storm had pushed its way through the region, and as it headed east, Ever Grande was the last place in its path. The broadcast had been interrupted several times by weather reports of how severe the storm was, but so far the power had held. But as of a minute ago the broadcast had been reduced to nothing but static.


"Well this sucks..." Sidney grumbled as he clicked through several channels, revealing that it was indeed Ever Grande's cable and not the station that went out.

Somehow I didn't peg Sidney as the type to moan about the TV cutting out like a disappointed child, but hey. Can't say it's not amusing. :V

Glacia peeked up from the book she was quietly reading and smirked. Perhaps there might be peace and quiet after all. Except that hope was shattered as a brilliant bolt of lighting crashed outside and all of the lights instantly flickered out.


"Hey!"


"Oh man, you had to jinx it didn't you!"

I think you might want to disambiguate these two lines since... yeah, I assume that's supposed to be Sidney and then Glacia, but I don't really know for sure since there's no hint at who's speaking first between the two.

Sidney: "I literally didn't say anything about the power though." >_>;

"I didn't jinx anything! Weren't you the one who said it couldn't get any worse when we had to cancel the yearly outing because of the storm?"


Glacia didn't even bother trying to stop Phoebe and Sidney's squabbling, since she couldn't see her book in the dark anyway. But a bobbing light appeared in the doorway, causing the two trainers to quiet down and turn to see who had joined their group.

Okay, yeah, you really want to disambiguate those speakers, since I didn't pick up on the fact that those two on the couch were Phoebe and Sidney. It could be something as simple as dropping "Glacia peeked up from the book she was quietly reading at Phoebe and Sidney on the couch and smirked." plus a speech tag in block two.

"Is everyone okay in here? This is some storm." Steven peered around, causing the beam of light to dance across the room.


"Are you wearing a caving headlamp?"



This guy really likes his rocks. :V

"Yes, and?" His head flicked toward the sound of the voice, and Sidney winced as the light found his eyes.


"Steven, we're in the League building, not a cave."

Steven: "Again: Yes, and?"
Sidney: "So you're not supposed to wear it here!" >_>;

"It was the first thing I could find in the dark. I think it serves its purpose."


"Well I think it's a great idea," chimed Phoebe. "But that still doesn't help us since there's nothing to do without electricity."

You could play board games assuming that A: You have one, B: You have a strong enough portable lamp. :V

"It's a shame none of us have any electric pokemon," mused Glacia.


Without a word, Steven began to move, the bobbing of his headlamp giving away his position. He had already crossed the room and with a few small sparks, a fire crackled to life in the fireplace filling the room with a growing warm glow.


"Now why didn't I think of that?" said Sidney, rubbing the side of his head with one hand.

Part of me feels as if that fireplace ought to have been hinted at somehow earlier on. Since... yeah, while it's not unbelievable that it'd be there, it kinda comes out of nowhere.

"Because it's summer and it's plenty warm in here already," muttered Glacia as she put her book down on the table.

Well, now it's about to get even hotter.


But Phoebe had already bounded over toward the fire and plopped down next to where Steven sat in one of the cozy armchairs. "Ohh! What a great idea, Steven! We should sit around and tell ghost stories!"

... Oh course Phoebe would want to tell ghost stories.


"Ahh, only if you promise not to let your pokemon reenact the scenes." Steven waved a nervous hand to indicate he wasn't the biggest fan of her mischievous partners, causing Phoebe to giggle.


"Sorry about that! They can't help themselves sometimes."

Translation, that'd be "no promises", Steven. o<o

By now Sidney and Glacia had gravitated toward the fire, and everyone settled in for what promised to be a quiet night. But quickly the conversation picked up, and before too long, enthusiastic stories filled with laughter floated through the darkened rooms of the league. Hours passed without any sign of the power being restored, but no one seemed to mind.


Eventually, the conversation turned to the one Elite who was missing.


"Where is Drake anyway?" asked Phoebe.

Sidney: "... Why is it our assumption he'd be here again? He has his own life and Pokémon, you know."
:what:

Phoebe: "... Because this entire series is about members of Hoenn's Elite Four getting up to shenanigans?" :?

"He was supposed to be on his way back from Meteor Falls this evening, but I'm sure the storm ended up delaying his plans," said Steven.


"I hope he didn't get caught out in it..."


"He sure didn't." As if on cue, the dragon master stepped into the room holding a small flashlight.

Phoebe: "See?"
Glacia: "That's... some really convenient timing." .-.
Phoebe: "Oi, don't question it. We were getting to my ghost stories."

"Drake! You made it! And you're looking rather dry." Phoebe swept her gaze over his captain's coat that didn't have a drop of water on it.


"Storm's over. Been over for a while now."


"What, really?" Sidney was definitely surprised.


"I guess we were so caught up in our fireside tales that we hadn't noticed," said Glacia.

I... admittedly did a double take there and had to go back and check to notice... yeah, a couple hours really did go by. It might make sense to expand the paragraph about them telling ghost stories with a couple anecdotes of a couple things such as Phoebe's Pokémon sure enough acting out her story or something like that, since something about a single paragraph didn't really sell the sense of time going by all that well.

"But the power's still out," moaned Phoebe, dropping her chin into her hand.


"Well, you can always join us around the fire," offered Sidney, but Steven interjected.


"You said the storm's over? I may have a better idea." The Champion rose from his chair at the cryptic statement, and donned his headlamp once more. "It's one of my favorite places in the whole building."

Sidney: "... Please tell me you're not going out to collect rocks now of all times."
Steven: "... No promises."

The Elites shared a puzzled look but decided to follow after their eccentric leader.


A short walk later, the group found themselves standing on the roof of the League building, the cloudless post-storm sky spread before them with no electric lights to obstruct their view of the stars.


"Amazing," breathed Phoebe. "This view is even better than the one from Mt. Pyre."

:sceptical:


I have to question how true that claim is since Mt. Pyre also has elevation going for it. But hey, no light pollution for a night.

"Aye, it certainly rivals the ones on the open ocean, too."


"It's okay, I guess -ow!" Glacia elbowed Sidney.


"I think it's lovely, Steven. It was always cloudy where I grew up, so it was a treat when we got to see the stars."

Steven: "... I'm sorry, why would that be again? I thought you just grew up in a place that got a lot of snow." .-.
Glacia: "What do you think snow falls from, Steven?" ^^;

Steven just smiled, face upturned towards the heavens. Silence settled over the group, letting the sound of the waves filter up through the air, unobstructed by the sounds of civilization. They remained that way for some time until the hum of the nearby air conditioning unit stirred to life.


"Power's back on," murmured Sidney.


And no one could have cared less.

I mean, yeah. I'd be a little indifferent too with a lightshow like that. Though I have to wonder how long the view will last before all the lights on the ground drown the view out.

Prompt #2

"Wallace, what is that?"

Wallace didn't even have to look up to know that Steven was hesitantly peering out the window. He could hear the commotion outside from where he sat. [ ]

"Oh, it's just your fan club."

"My what club?"

"Fan club. You know, a horde of adoring followers that get together to stalk your every move."

I feel that your paragraph about the commotion outside might benefit from some more hints as to the sort of commotion or the nature of the noise, since just a 'commotion'... doesn't disambiguate it from the likes of a garbage truck pulling up outside, whereas I'd expect a crowd of rabid fans to make noises associated with masses of people.

Also, it appears your spacing is different between this Prompt and the prior one. You might find it worthwhile to standardize those in one direction or the other.

Steven: "... I'm sorry, why do I want this again?" ._.;

Steven leaned back from the window and rolled his eyes.

"I know what a fan club is - wait, did you say stalk?" The tinge of alarm edging into his voice was not lost on the water-type trainer.

Wallace simply nodded. "Mmhmm. Not to mention their ultimate goal is to profess their everlasting and undying love for you. It's something that as a Master Coordinator and Gym Leader extraordinaire I deal with on a frequent basis." It was all so matter-of-fact.

Steven: "... I think that I want to disappear into a cave right about now. A really, really deep cave."
:uhhh:


"You do? Wait, what? Undying love?"

This was too much fun.

"Oh all the time, Steven. In fact I've signed so many body parts I can't even begin to tell you which one was my favorite."

"Body... parts...?" By now, the young heir had turned a sickly shade of pale.

I can't tell if Wallace is this much of an attention hog or if he's playing this up deliberately to mess with Steven. I assume it's the latter from the "This was too much fun" line, but... yeah, it's amusing to imagine either way. :V

"Sure! Hands, arms, cheeks," Wallace began to tick down on his fingers, "This one time there was a magnificent pair of... oh, and even the occasional baby!"

>dat implication

Steven: "... Starting to think that I might need to start looking into mineshafts instead. Since... yeah, I want to get really far away from these 'fans'."
:uhhh:


Steven was nearly shaking by the time the list was finished. "Wallace... I can't go out there."

"Of course you can! If you can stare down the most fearsome trainers in the region without breaking a sweat, surely you can handle a few excited admirers."

Steven: "That doesn't involve getting mobbed by random rabid strangers!" O_O;
Wallace: "Meh, close enough."


"That's different and you know it," Steven protested, albeit a bit weakly, and Wallace offered a sincere smile.

"You're going to have to get used to it at some point, you know."

"Ahh, you're right... It's just..." Steven ran a hand nervously through his hair, "I'm not really very good at talking to people."

"You talk to me all the time."

Steven: "Crowds of people, Wallace." >_>;
Wallace: "So just pretend they're all me. Can't be that hard, right?" ^^;

"You're my friend, Wallace. Of course I can talk to you."

But Wallace was having none of Steven's stalling. As the Champion leaned over to peer out the window once more, Wallace got to his feet and stealthily closed in on his friend. Once he was close enough, the Master Coordinator threw an arm snugly around Steven's shoulders and in one motion whisked the pair of them to the door.

"Then we'll face these fans together! Just think of me as your translator."



Stumbling a bit under the sudden movement, Steven barely had time to react before Wallace's hand was on the doorknob.

"Wallace, no, wait -"

The door was thrown open with fanfare, and Wallace dragged Steven out into the throng.

"Hello lovely citizens, behold, your Champion!"

Steven groaned.

Surprised there's not a whole lot of mention of how the fans are reacting since... yeah, you'd think that they'd all make quite the racket there, but it doesn't come through in description.

Prompt #3

"Oh crap oh crap oh crap!"


Sidney muttered to the beat of his footsteps as he rushed through the halls of the Pokemon League.


"Oh, I'm so late," he moaned as he pushed past Phoebe's chamber.


"Late for what?"


Sidney ground to a halt at the innocent question, and Phoebe's head poked curiously out the door.

I... think that this could've used a bit more description, since the sequence is a bit "disembodied heads" for my tastes. And you certainly have room to fluff things out a bit to better drive an image into your readers' heads.

"There's no challengers today, so where are you off to in such a hurry?"


Sidney sighed heavily. "I promised I'd feed Drake's pokemon while he was away. He told me they had a very particular schedule, and of course I've gone and messed it up."

I imagine their mood can basically be summed up as the following right about now:



I mean, it'd explain why Sidney's sweating bullets here.


Phoebe rocked back and forth on her heels for a moment, pondering something, but Sidney was frantic and already was on the move before she could speak her mind.


"I gotta run, sorry Fee!"


He hurried off toward the next chamber, beginning to feel a stitch in his side when suddenly he felt a cold wind brush by.


"Oh I have to see this," said Phoebe as she floated along side the jogging Elite. Wait, floated?!

That's... certainly different. I suspect that's her Pokémon helping out, but-

Shocked into stopping once more, Sidney gave Phoebe an incredulous look as she sat perched atop her Dusclops, giggling.

Yeah, I figured. :V

"That is so not fair..." he breathed out between gasps for air.


"Think Absol would let you ride him?"

Sidney: "No, and that's why it's not fair!" >_>;

"No way in he--" Sidney heaved another labored breath, "--who designed this place anyway?"


Phoebe shrugged, but a low rumble caught the pair's attention and they exchanged a glance before turning to look further up the corridor.


"That can't be good."


"Drake is gonna kill me."

Ah yes, it's
time.

"Not if his dragons get to you first."


Sidney suddenly looked a woozy. Phoebe noticed.


"How late are you in feeding them? Sidney?"


"...The whole day."

... I'm surprised that Drake's lizards are being this quiet considering they've been denied food for a full day.


"Ohhhh, I'm definitely not missing this."



But Sidney was already gone, sprinting toward Glacia's domain. He didn't get very far before he came across the ice type specialist standing coolly at the center of her battlefield. Phoebe silently bobbed up behind where he stood frozen under Glacia's chilling glare.


"Hello, Sidney." Her voice was sickly sweet and icy cold all at once. "Care to tell me why the back wall of my chamber is melting?"


"Would 'I'd rather not' be an acceptable answer?"

Sidney: "The occupants of the chamber next to yours might be getting a bit cranky right now?"

Glacia: "Sidney, what did you do?" >_>;

"No."


Phoebe leaned in close and whispered, "We should probably tell her." To which Sidney shook his head vehemently in the negative.


"Tell me what, exactly?"


"Ohh, she has good hearing," Phoebe unnecessarily whispered again, and Sidney brought a palm to his face.

Sidney: "Uhm... well, you see, the thing is that I kinda... maybe..."


"Tell you... that everything is totally under control and there's no reason to go into Drake's chamber whatsoever," Sidney grated out through a false smile.

Glacia:


"Well, not unless you want to become a dragon snack."


"Phoebe!"

Phoebe: "What? It's true."

"Sidney forgot to feed Drake's pokemon and now they're grumpy."


Sidney shot Phoebe a nasty glare while Glacia gave a sarcastic round of applause.


"Marvelous. I've always wanted to see what a ravenous Salamence could do to a human." It didn't sound like Glacia was joking.

Sidney: "... Glacia, aren't you going to help me here? You train Pokémon that are type-effective against Dragon-types!"
:uhhh:

Glacia: "And I want to get an earful from Drake why when you made this mess?"

Phoebe chimed in, too. "I'll tell Steven he should start looking for a new Elite."


"Guys, this isn't helping."


"I already told you I'm just here to watch. You're on your own Sid."

Sidney: "Glacia, you literally can just freeze-!" O_O;
Glacia: "Yeah, nah. I'll start booking your funeral arrangements instead."

By now the two ladies had circled around behind Sidney, leaving nothing but air and melting ice between him and the door to his doom. His shoulders slumped and as he woefully trudged toward the door he made a silent promise; if he got out of this alive, for the rest of his life he'd never be late again. Ever.



Eyes squeezed shut, he gingerly pressed against the door, slowly nudging it open. The roars got louder and he swore he could feel the heat of an angry dragonbreath rushing through the gap. Taking a deep breath, Sidney steeled his nerve. In one mighty shove he threw the doors wide with a terrified shout and barreled into the room.


The sight that greeted him left his jaw hanging inches from the floor.


Salamence was sitting calmly on the floor of the arena along with the rest of Drake's pokemon, but they weren't alone. Steven stood at the center of the group, giving each dragon an affectionate head pat.

Glacia: "Wait, what in the-? What on earth melted my back wall, then?" O_ó

"Oh hey, Sidney. Great timing, it's nearly time for Altaria's grooming appointment. You can handle taking her to Lilycove for me, right?"

Sidney: "... I'm so lost here." .-.

But Sidney hadn't moved, he stood lost in a stupor that only left him able to sputter incoherently.


Steven just smiled as Phoebe and Glacia giggled. "Drake called and said you'd volunteered to help me take care of these guys while he was away. I know you're sometimes the forgetful sort, so we couldn't pass up the opportunity to have a little fun at your expense."

Sidney: "But the wall- and-"

"You... you... but... the dragons... and... the flamethrower...how..."


Phoebe gave him a playful nudge. "Maybe now you won't show up halfway through the next League meeting?"


"No," Sidney breathed. "Definitely not."

Narrator: "He'll totally show up halfway through the next League meeting again."

Alright, as for my overall thoughts...

I liked the stories in general. I personally never imagined a regional champion and E4 being this chummy with each other, but hey, it tees up some fun scenarios as a result, and this series owns them pretty well.

I admittedly am not sure how much it makes sense to dwell too much on criticisms since this series is complete offsite, but if you do give your series a once-over, I'd say that it could benefit from a bit more description in general, since it's hard at times to get a visualization of your take on things like the layout of Hoenn's Conference Building.

You might also want to involve Steven and the Hoenn E4's Pokémon in the plot a bit more. Like Prompt #3 did a pretty good job at working Drake's Pokémon in, but Prompt #1 basically had everyone except Phoebe's ghosts absent when they're in a circumstance where they're a bit limited on options for entertainment and Prompt #2 had no Pokémon in it at barring a couple passing mentions of training. Just some food for thought if you decide to do a future revision.

I admittedly am not sure what I'd have to say about future chapters of this series, since I don't want to get too broken record about things that I might not see eye to eye on with you. But on the whole, even if I had some quibbles, I enjoyed your imagining of Steven and his buddies in the E4, and I suspect this won't be the last review I write up for this series of yours.
 

Spiteful Murkrow

Pokémon Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Partners
  1. nidoran-f
Heya,

I felt like coming back and reading a few more of your short stories, since, hey, they had quite a bit of charm. Will be tackling a tranche of 3 tonight and leaving thoughts as I go along.

Prompt #4

Wallace was all out of sorts. He sniffled and ached and his head felt like it was inflated larger than a Drifloon. This wasn't supposed to happen. Sootopolitans never got sick! So with a dramatic huff he collapsed back on the sofa and reached for another tissue.

He had nearly emptied half the box before his Milotic Victoria found her way to his side, cooing worriedly at her trainer's condition. Her nuzzling at his face and neck was a relief; her scales were cool against his too-warm skin.

I think that you might want to emphasize that Victoria is Wallace's Milotic. Like it's a subtle tweak, but it makes it easier to understand what's going on as a reader.

"Ahh, my darling," he paused as a sniffle assaulted his nose, "I'm afraid I cannot join you in the pool today. This dastardly illness has done a number on me."

Victoria's eyes shimmered with concern and she curled up at the foot of the sofa in support. It was natural for his pokemon to be concerned, but a malady such as this needed more human support.

Guess it's time to call up a doctor, huh-?

Languidly he reached for his phone and dialed the all-too-familiar number.

One ring. Two rings. Three rings. Four rings.

"Hello? Wallace?"

"Oh Steven, finally! I was worried something terrible had happened to you too."

... Or you could call up the eccentric rock collector. That works, too.

"Something terrible? What's going on, are you okay?"

"Steven, it's just awful! I have been bedridden with the most ~~wicked~~ wretched illness. My nose will not stop running and my head feels like it is going to explode!"

I think "wretched" sounds a little better than "wicked" in context there, but it's your call as an author.

To Wallace's surprise, the only thing that sounded through the receiver was a hearty laugh. After a moment, Steven composed himself.

"Sounds like you've caught yourself a head cold," Steven's voice answered. "Well make sure you get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids, it should pass in a few days."

Wallace was flabbergasted. "How could you make it sound so cavalier? I could be dying, Steven. Dying!"

Steven: "... Wallace, it's a head cold."
:what:


But the Champion only laughed again. "You're not dying, Wallace. I can hear it in your voice, you're just congested."

"But I feel so weak. What if it takes days to regain the strength to rise from my sofa?"

"It won't get that bad. Phoebe had the same thing last week."

"But Steeeven," Wallace practically whined.

I'd ask how Wallace ever got this theatrical, but... it's Wallace, so this isn't terribly surprising.


"Wallace. Trust me I'd come and check on you if I could, but I'm in Kalos right now. I know it's not going to be fun, but you're just going to have to manage on your own."

"Kalos!?" Wallace moaned as visions of romantic elegance danced through his head. What he would give to have the chance to see it with his own eyes.

"Yes, Kalos. It's for League business, I promise. I wouldn't dream of coming here otherwise without bringing you along."

Translation: Steven's collecting rocks again. Likely Mega Stones. :V

Wallace simply uttered another pathetic moan to prove how much his heart ached, or was that his head?

"I'll be back in Hoenn in three days. You'll be my first stop when I return. I have to run now. I have faith you can make it until then." The hint of amusement in Steven's voice was lost on the moping Gym Leader.

Wallace: "... Steven, you don't need to mock an ill man right now." >.<
Steven: "Yeah, and you didn't need to shove me out in front of a crowd of rabid fans two prompts ago. Consider us even."

"Do hurry, Steven. This could be the last time you speak to me before I waste away..."

Steven:


Steven laughed again. "Feel better, Wallace." And the call ended.

Oh hey, it's a more polite version of the exact same sentiment from the gif. :V

It had been several hours since Wallace spoke with Steven, and still no one had called to offer their concern as to why the Gym Leader had yet to show his face around town. Victoria still hovered nearby, gently fanning him with her tail. Wallace was thankful that her heart was as beautiful as her scales, but he still felt utterly dreadful, and the tissue box was now completely empty. Throwing one arm over his eyes he let the other sag off the side of the couch. His head was almost too stuffy to hear the subtle sounds of a key turning in the lock of his front door.

"Wallace? Are you awake?"

Wallace: "... I should probably be more concerned about someone suddenly unlocking my door with me inside with no indication of who's doing it. But oh this wretched head cold! The humanity!"
Victoria: "*... Yeah, the sooner this guy gets back into the water, the better.*" >_>;

His front door closed with a soft sound, and light click of heels moved their way across the room. Victoria cooed happily in recognition, causing Wallace to drag his arm aside and blearily look up at the visitor who now stood over him.

"Glacia?"

She smiled warmly in return. "Hello, dear. Steven called and told me all about your plight."

"He did?"

Glacia: "Oh, you know. Head cold, an acute case of theatrics. That sort of thing."
Wallace: "'An acute case of theatrics?' Glacia, I could be dying right now!" >_>;

"Mmhmm. Growing up in Snowpoint, I learned a thing or two about cold remedies." She brandished a bag filled to the brim with supplies. "I brought a few of the essentials with me, I hope you don't mind."

Somehow, I never imagined Glacia as being from Sinnoh, and I dunno if this is something introduced in newer gens, or something created wholecloth from your imagination, but it tracks and fits her pretty well.

Sitting up, Wallace suddenly was overwhelmed. He had spent all day just feeling sorry for himself and yet his friends had arranged for all of this without an ounce of pity; it was pure, genuine caring. It was humbling, to say the least.

"Thank you, Glacia."

She smiled again as she looked up from scratching Victoria under the chin.

"It's no problem at all, Wallace. That's what friends are for. Now how about a bowl of Sinnoh's famous noodle soup?"

[ ]

I feel as if things are cutting off really abruptly there. Maybe it would've made more sense to end on some sort of outro paragraph showing Glacia getting to work and Wallace getting in his two cents about it, but eh. It's a cute prompt even without it.

Prompt #5

Steven beamed with pride as he looked down on the five pristine eggs sitting on his kitchen table. He had overseen their delivery personally from the breeder he met in Alola. Each egg was the same, deep blue with flecks of silver, but each egg was different as well, with tiny grooves running along in unique spiderweb patterns. They would hatch soon, he could feel it.

Oh boy. Steven having to babysit 5 Beldum zipping around. What could possibly go wrong? :V

The next several days were laced with excitement. Thankfully the League was on a short recess so Steven took the chance to remain at home all week to keep watch, waiting for the big day.

It only had been a few days when the eggs began to glow. He stood in wonder as four baby Beldum materialized before his eyes.

Boy is it convenient timing that they're all hatching at the same time. Or maybe inconvenient timing since now Steven needs to deal all at once with five-

"Wait, four?"

Ah, right, missing one. But let's see where this is going.

But as he looked to the last egg, still sitting whole at the end of the line, the first baby Beldum let loose a shriek, whether it was hunger, excitement, fright, or otherwise, Steven would never know, as immediately the other three Beldum joined in their litter mate's crying.

Uh... considering that I'm pretty sure that Beldum can learn Screech the Move, that's... gotta be ear murder right about then.
:fearfullaugh~1:


Now Steven was used to the metallic cries of the species, but the baby pokemon had no sense of self control, and as soon as they began to screech, their voices compounded into an ear-splitting cacophony that reverberated around the room. He needed to get them outside, and fast.

Yup, I called it.

But the Beldum had other ideas, and now free from their shells, the little steel types quickly discovered their magnetic powers. Still shrieking in what must have been either joy or confusion they began to erratically hover about the space. Eyes wide with the wonder of discovering everything Steven's home had to offer, they tumbled about, bumping things from counters, dislodging items from shelves, and even latching onto things with their claws. As soon as Steven was able to pry one from the refrigerator door, another had stumbled upon his rock collection and he abandoned the first Beldum in an effort to keep the second from knocking over the glass casework.

Ah yes, property damage. One of the joys of dealing with kids. ^^;

In a frantic effort that had seen the majority of his furniture sustain some sort of damage, Steven finally wrangled all four Beldum into a manageable gaggle in his arms. No longer able to explore freely, the Beldum began to wail once more and Steven winced, unable to cover his ears lest he let the Beldum wander off again.

Steven: "... In retrospect, I should've brought earplugs for this occasion." >_>;

Their wailing cries continued as Steven wove his way through the disastrous state of his living room and out toward the yard. He could barely think straight with how badly his ears were ringing. Along the way, one of the babies decided that the human now cradling it in their arms must have been doing all of the work in keeping it above the floor, so it stopped its levitating. Of course, Steven was not prepared to hold the full weight of a steel pokemon, and the little one fell straight down to the floor, landing square on his foot. He yelled in pain; that had to be a broken toe, and his shout only served to make the Beldum cry louder in his arms.

Does he even have a living room at this point, or a collection of splinters and plaster chips? Since I'm pretty sure one Beldum zipping around would leave a mark on most living rooms. :V

Though ouch at that Beldum impact on his foot. So much for going spelunking for the next couple weeks.

Now hobbling to the back door, Steven roughly shoved it open, finally having managed to wrangle the four babies outside. He stumbled down the steps and the metallic cries of the baby pokemon in his arms served to startle a flock of Wingull into scattering into the air. In amazement, all four Beldum ceased their crying to watch the birds take flight, and then when the birds were out of view immediately began wailing once more.

I mean, on the plus side, Steven won't have bird problems for a while. Sure he might have a minor case of severe hearing loss in the longer term, but acceptable sacrifices.


Finally relinquishing his hold on the Beldum, Steven reached to his belt and grimaced as he felt the throb of his injured foot. In a flash, Metagross materialized by his side, flinching at the high-pitched cries echoing through the treetops. It quickly located the source of said noise and then spun to face its trainer with an uneasy look.

Steven sighed. "Yup, these are them."

[Metagross rumbled a low note and Steven shot it a glare.]

"No way, you and I are in this together. It's a joint responsibility."

Given that Metagross has no intelligible dialogue, you might want to do something like drop in some additional body language that plays up the obvious "screw this, I'm outta here"-ness of its reaction. e.x. staring at the Beldum briefly before starting to float off from the scene.

Rumbling again, Metagross turned its gaze back to where the four babies had gathered in a cluster, still crying.

"Oh, I'm aware. Can you help me out?"

Rolling its eyes, Metagross nodded before letting out a deafening roar. Instantly the baby Beldum chirped in surprise, their crying now reduced to quiet chattering amongst themselves. With a low hum, Metagross lowered itself close to the ground, beckoning the babies near. Red eyes blinked at the metal monstrosity before them, looks of faint recognition dawning in their expression. Then hesitantly, the largest of the bunch floated over and nuzzled into Metagross's side. It hummed comfortingly, and when nothing bad befell their fellow hatchling, the rest follow suit.

I'm presuming that was a bit more polite than "Shut up!" there, but Metagross is cuter at parenting than any psychic tank crab has any right to be.

Steven sighed in relief and sunk to the ground, leaning back against his partner and listening to the quiet chattering of the babies.

"Thanks, Metagross. I owe you big time."

It grated a rumbling reply, and Steven had to laugh.

So what sort of favors does Steven's Metagross call in on him anyways? Since now I'm curious... :V

"Don't worry, you were never that bad. Trust me, I'd remember if you were that much of a terror."

Narrator: "He was absolutely that much of a terror."

Satisfied, Metagross hummed again and settled around the baby Beldum in a protective embrace. Thankful for the peace and quiet, Steven was content to just lay there until the sun slipped below the horizon.

Steven: "Er... shouldn't I be getting my toe checked out right about now?"
:fearfullaugh~1:


It was dark outside by the time Steven remembered about the last Beldum. He quickly and quietly got up and jogged inside as fast as his foot would allow. As he came back out to the yard, Metagross's red gaze followed him, fixated on the last egg tucked safely in his arms.

Steven smiled. "This one is being stubborn. Or lazy. I can't tell."

Metagross grated out a small chuckle as Steven settled back against its side.

"At least it can spend some quality time with its siblings now."

Be careful what you wish for, Steven.

But just as he leaned back to look at the stars, the egg began to glow. Steven and Metagross both watched in silent amazement as the yard was cast in a soft white light. When the light finally faded, Steven thought his eyes might be playing tricks on him; the new hatchling seemed to still be glowing in the nighttime air. Blinking several times to convince himself otherwise, it slowly dawned on him. This Beldum wasn't glowing, it was reflecting the pale moonlight in its silvery hide. A shiny Beldum. Steven grinned as its red eye drifted open sleepily and its golden claws flexed cautiously against his shirt.

Wow. Talk about lucky there.

"Hello little one. You're quite the looker aren't you?"

The shiny Beldum chirped once as it processed Steven's soft question, its eye slowly scanning its caretaker's face. And then it broke into a loud wailing cry, loud enough to disturb the other four Beldum that were sleeping beneath Metagross's watch. Soon five tiny pokemon were all screeching in unison and Steven could only laugh at the incredulity of it all. Good thing he was used to functioning on so little sleep.

... Okay, then again, maybe not. Hope you get used to wearing earplugs for a while, Steven.


Prompt #6

"I still can't believe you talked me into this..."

"And I can't believe Wallace agreed to do this."



Phoebe and Flannery exchanged nervous glances as they spoke in hushed tones. Wallace had been pacing at the edge of the pool for a while now, spouting off all the virtues of how water was the best way to hone a trainer's body.

"...So I hope you ladies are ready. My contest spectacular preparation regiment is not to be taken lightly."

Flannery: "Okay, seriously, I'm a Fire-type trainer. Why do I need to be here?" >_>;

Flannery felt the need to interject. "But we're not training for a contest!" Wallace gave her a sharp look, and she clammed up, muttering, "It's just it'll be summertime soon and... well... we're both single..."

Well that was certainly forward. Though I'm not so sure that "opposites attract" is a safe bet to make in a Pokémon setting.


Phoebe nodded in agreement, although the expression on the Master Coordinator's face remained unamused.

"No matter the reason, I have taken your request quite seriously, so I hope you two will do the same."

Both ladies nodded, but not without some apprehension. Why, oh why had Phoebe listened to Steven when he casually mentioned Wallace's penchant for staying in shape? She had gone to Wallace looking for a few workout tips, but this was quickly turning into a boot camp.

inb4 it turns out that Wallace has prior naval service or something like that. :V

"All right, hop in," he commanded as he slipped into the pool himself. "60 laps should be a nice warm up swim. Then we move on to calisthenics!"

Yeeeeeeeeah, I'd honestly just cut and run at that point.
:fearfullaugh~1:


Wallace had already taken off to start his own laps, and Phoebe and Flannery shared a glance again before arriving at the same conclusion. As Wallace disappeared down toward the far end of the pool, Phoebe beckoned to some of the nearby Gym pokemon. Flannery slipped a few treats from her bag and in no time both trainers had their very own workout partners. Phoebe kicked along behind an all too cheerful Spheal while Flannery found herself a friendly Whiscash that was willing to give her a ride. The 60 laps passed smoothly, and somehow Wallace was none the wiser.

Oh. That's a bit less worse than I expected, since I thought that those two would have to personally swim 60 laps. I can already see Flannery's uneasy cringing throughout though.


When everyone had finished their laps, and Spheal and Whiscash slipped away under the water unnoticed with a quiet thank you from the ladies, Wallace ushered the group into his private weight room where they could continue to train. As Flannery nervously eyed the intimidating weight machines, Phoebe nudged her with a sly wink and palmed two pokeballs. As Wallace launched into an explanation on the optimal circuit for toning muscle, Mismagius and Duskull quietly slipped into the shadows. Every pull up, push up, and bench press was suddenly much lighter for the the pair, and on more than one occasion Phoebe had to remind her pokemon to keep their snickering to themselves, lest the water-type Leader become suspicious.

... You two do realize that this is just going to make Wallace give you a tougher workout if he thinks you didn't break a sweat during all of this, right? >:V

At the end of the day, Phoebe and Flannery gave Wallace their thanks and when he offered to meet them again bright and early the next morning, they enthusiastically agreed with the promise that they'd have one more member to add to the work out crew.

Hmm, I wonder who they volunteer-

"So how mad do you think Steven is going to be when we drag him out of bed tomorrow morning?"

Oh, of course.


"Not nearly as mad as when he finds out he doesn't have any pokemon he can sneak into the workout without Wallace knowing!"

Both trainers laughed a bit too maniacally. Who said getting in shape wouldn't be fun?

That's not getting in shape, that's torturing Steven while kicking your feet back and pretending to work out. Better hope that Wallace doesn't get wise anytime soon. :V

As for my overall thoughts... I'll spare you the structural issues spiel since I don't want to get too broken record about it, though in general the quibbles I outlined with Prompts 1-3 are also present in these prompts to varying extents, which is something to be mindful of in a v2.

Other than that, I... honestly wasn't too bugged by those quibbles most of the time since I was too busy having fun with the prompts. They're cute and wholesome fun, and the takes on the characters that star in them seem like fairly believable takes off their canon personalities. So congrats on turning on the charm, since it's really carrying your series here.

Great work @Panoramic_Vacuum . I'll be looking forward to shooting a few more of these reviews your way before Review Blitz winds down, since these little prompts are addictive. ^^;
 

Spiteful Murkrow

Pokémon Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Partners
  1. nidoran-f
Heya, back for another tranche of 3 of your prompts. Since what can I say? They're fun little breathers in between larger pieces that I'm getting through. Without further ado:

Prompt #7

Sidney scowled as he looked over the bow of Drake's boat. The pair of Elites were docked in Slateport when they had come across an unpleasant sight.


"Should we do something?"

We... kinda don't know what this unpleasant sight is. It might make sense to bring it up here at the jump for your readers, or at least give a hint that it's something that's negative enough to make him react as like a hint.

But Drake just remained silent, his captain's hat pulled low over his eyes, but aimed in a way that told Sidney he was staring at the same thing.


A trainer not much younger than Sidney was standing along the shoreline with his back turned to their ship. They couldn't see his face, but the Trapinch cowering on the sand in front of him told them all they needed to know. He was swearing and stomping and his voice carried over the quiet waters of the harbor.


"They told me you would grow up to be a dragon! Well you haven't, and I don't see how you even could! You're just some little bug thing. You don't even have wings! I can't believe that breeder lied to me... You're supposed to be a dragon, my dragon!"

Wow, rude. He's certainly not going to become a dragon anytime soon with that sort of quality of training.

Sidney winced and glanced at Drake. [ ]


"Even if we told him, do you think he'd treat it any better afterward?"

I feel as if it might have made sense to indicate what Drake's reaction was, even if it was a "no reaction" seeming pokerface. Since... yeah, seeing some amateur dweeb bully a Pokémon that he's spent years getting good at knowing the ins and outs of training I'd imagine wouldn't sit well with him.

Drake: "If you have to ask the question, Sidney..." >_>;

The only sign that Drake heard him was the way the brim of his hat dipped a little bit lower.


"I don't know if I can take much more of this. I might have to go down there..."

Sidney: "... To talk things out, I hope?"
:fearfullaugh~1:

Drake: "No promises it'll just be a talk."

As Sidney shifted to move, Drake's arm shot out across his chest, freezing the younger man in place with a surprised look. His other hand produced two pokeballs from the pocket of his coat. With a heave, both balls opened to reveal their furious contents. The pair of Flygon could sense the fear of their fellow pokemon. With a mighty pump of their wings, both dragons soared high over the harbor until their presence was a mere shadow on the ground.

Ah yes, inducing Mama Bear / Papa Wolf tendencies in giant draconic antlions. This is totally going to end well for the trainer being a dick to his Trapinch. :V

As the sun was blotted out, the incensed trainer paused in his tirade and glanced skyward, using a hand to shield against the bright light. Instead of a lazy Pelipper, he was greeted by two streaks of green and red that crashed to the ground in a cloud of sand. Eyes wide with shock, the trainer stumbled backward, pointing at the Flygon that now protectively flanked his pokemon.


"D-d-dragons!"

Trainer: "... How much of that did you two hear between me and my Trapinch again?"
:uhhh:


The Flygon put on a fearsome display, arching their wings and whipping their tails before issuing a mighty roar with narrowed eyes and bared fangs.

Flygon #1: "*Just enough.*" >:|

"D-don't k-kill me please! Ahhhh!"


As the terrified trainer groveled in the sand, one Flygon marched up to him and plucked him from the earth by the back of his collar. Another scream cut through the harbor air as he was lifted to eye level with the prickly dragon. He could see the reflection of his terror-stricken features in its protective eye covering, and he chose to focus on that instead of the rage burning in its gaze.

Drake:

Sidney: "... Drake, not that this trainer wasn't a dick who deserved all of this, but isn't letting your Flygon manhandle a trainer like this this going to potentially cause legal problems for you?"
:what:

Drake: "It won't if I don't get caught."

Flygon leaned in close, its breath hot on the trainer's face and gave an indignant snort, causing the trainer to flinch out of fear.


"I-I'm sorry, I'm sorry! Please don't eat me!"


Flygon snarled and the trainer tried to curl into the fetal position as best he could.

I feel as if it might have made sense to show how this guy's Trapinch was reacting to all of this. Since, yeah. Big evolved counterparts showing up out of nowhere and coming to your aid by casually humiliating the bully you were afraid of all of 30 seconds ago seems like something that would draw more of a reaction.

"I believe that breeder now, I won't say those things to Trapinch again! I promise! Just please don't hurt me!"


The rumble in Flygon's throat still remained, but at the huff of its companion, it quieted down. Eyes still narrowed, it none-too-gently deposited the trainer back onto the sand on his backside. Immediately the trainer scrabbled for Trapinch's pokeball and recalled it before beating a hasty retreat.

So how damp was that patch of beach sand afterwards considering how the Trapinch trainer was reacting to this entire episode? :V

Sidney: "Prooobably a good thing that that guy didn't look out at us and notice you eating popcorn."
Drake: "What? Isn't an old sea dog entitled to have a snack here or there?"


Sidney turned wide-eyed to the old sailor at his side.


"Ten pokedollars says that kid goes back and asks the breeder if he can exchange Trapinch for a Skitty."


Drake just grinned. "He wasn't cut out to be a dragon trainer anyway."

Sidney: "As satisfying as it was to see that jerk squirm, isn't that Trapinch going to have serious trust issues with humans after getting returned back to that breeder?"
:what:

Drake: "... He'll have a chance to get a better second roll? Plus it's better to work through issues like that while you're young, so..."


Prompt #8

He had meant for it to be a surprise, he really did. But when the front door opened causing and the cloud of smoke to came rolling out of the kitchen and into the foyer, the Delcatty was out of the bag. Steven poked his head out of the kitchen with a nervous smile.


"H-hey, Dad."


Joseph blinked in surprise as he gingerly set his briefcase down. He certainly hadn't expected to arrive home thinking his house was on fire, and he certainly didn't expect his son to be the reason why the smoke detectors were beeping up a storm.

"Steven? What are you doing here? Is everything okay?"

Joseph: "And I thought you collected rocks, not started fires in the kitchen." >_>;

Steven wasn't one to just visit out of the blue. In fact, he rarely visited Rustboro at all. Joseph would always remind himself that it was the League duties that kept him away; the position of Champion wasn't only glitz and glamour, and he knew Steven took the responsibilities seriously. But somehow he also had a feeling there was another reason his son would avoid coming home... It's not like he had been a great role model in the first place, all those late nights at the office when Steven was young.


"Well..." Steven's voice trailed off into a nervous laugh, "Everything's fine, but I'm afraid my plan didn't quite work out like I had hoped."


"Your plan?"


Another sheepish laugh came from Steven, and it was then that Joseph really got a good look at his son. He had discarded his suit jacket in favor of a chef's apron, although it apparently did little to contain the mess. Splatters of grease, dots of tamato sauce and several other unrecognizable smears covered his arms where his shirt had been rolled back to the elbow. Puffs of flour dotted him from head to toe, including smudges all over one cheek. His hair was a mess, even more so than usual, and was it singed in a few spots?

Joseph: "... Might want to stick to collecting rocks, son." -_-;

"I guess it's not really a surprise any more but..." Steven beckoned him into the kitchen, and Joseph's eyes went wide. "Uhh, happy birthday, Dad. Sorry about the mess."

Steven: "I... assumed you'd have been more interested in a birthday meal than another rock, but..."
:fearfullaugh~1:

Joseph: "Well, a rock certainly would've been less eventful, that's for sure..." -_-;

From the state of the room, it was impressive as to how Steven had escaped relatively unscathed. But sitting just beyond the carnage, ready to be served in the formal dining room, was a three course meal for two. It didn't look great, most of the dish was burned around the edges, and the appetizer had definitely seen better days, but Joseph recognized it as one of his favorites. Perched just beyond the plates was one of the saddest looking layer cakes he had ever seen, complete with lopsided hand-piped letters.

Steven: "... Surprise?" ^^;

Steven had lingered back at the kitchen door, and he began to panic as he saw his father's shoulders begin to shake.


"Sorry Dad, I thought it would have been a nice treat to repay you for all the times you made me something special on my birthday, but I really screwed up-"


But his apology was cut short by his father's boisterous laughter.


"There's nothing to apologize for," he said in between more chuckling fits, "This was a wonderful surprise."

Joseph: "Well, it certainly isn't a birthday I'll forget anytime soon."
Steven: "(Phew, so I dodged a bullet by not getting him another rock.)"


"It was?"


"Absolutely!" Joseph enveloped his son in a hug, messy apron and all. "I've finally found the one talent you didn't get from your old man!"

Steven: "... Not sure if that's the takeaway I wanted to get, but at least you're not upset, so... yay?" >_>;

Joseph broke into another round of laughter, and when he finished wiping a tear from his eye, he caught Steven's genuine smile.


"Well then I guess this wasn't a total disaster then," he said, running a hand through his messy hair.


Joseph clapped a hand on Steven's back, "Son, just having you home is present enough for me. But the maid is going to kill you when she sees this, so let's get out of here and get some dinner. There's this little Johtonian place I've been wanting to try..."

Well, it's the thought that counted. Even if they might need a new maid in the near future from their current one walking out at the sight of that disaster zone of a kitchen. :V

Prompt #9

Sidney decided this was the first and last time he ever wanted to see a Garchomp with a confused expression on its face. But that's precisely what he saw when he walked into the practice arena. Cynthia's Garchomp and Glacia's Walrein sat on the battlefield side by side in bewildered silence as they watched the real combatants duke it out.

Sidney: "Wait, why is this the first and last time I'd want to see a Garchomp look like this again?"
:what:

- Cue Garchomp tilting her head with a toothy open-mouthed expression -
Sidney: "Er... right, could've done without seeing the mouth of saw-like teeth." ._.;

Both women had left their respective trainer's boxes and marched across to meet at the center of the field. Mere inches from one another, they yelled and gestured about something that left Sidney as baffled as their two pokemon.



Walrein: "*Human battle! Human battle!*"
Garchomp: "*Aren't we supposed to be confused right now?*"
Walrein: "*We're allowed to be both confused and amused, you know.*"

"We should probably try to break that up," said Phoebe as she sidled up beside Sidney, eyes glued on the warring trainers.


"You couldn't pay me enough to stick my neck out there..."

Sidney: "Especially since, you know. One of those two is a regional champion..." >_>;

Phoebe winced as a particularly nasty tone cut through the air.


"I don't think Cynthia's visit is off to a great start."


Sidney shook his head in agreement, "No one told me that a Sinnohan temper would put even my attitude to shame."

Bold to say that when Candice is canonically ultra-hot-blooded. I'm pretty sure it's an adaptation to warm themselves in the freezing winters. :V

"What's this about a Sinnohan temper?"


The two Elites turned to find Steven standing behind them, looking on curiously.


"Oh, uh, it's nothing, really." Sidney tried to play it smooth, but Steven had already peered past the duo and spotted his Champion counterpart.


"Cynthia's here? Why didn't you say so earlier. I'll have to kindly ask Glacia to stop harassing our guest."



And with that, Steven casually strolled down to the arena floor and began to approach the two women.


Sidney gave Phoebe a worried glance and she returned the gesture, unable to figure out if Steven was foolish, brave, or equal parts of both.



It didn't take long for them to find out, as the shouting match intensified for a brief moment before quieting down, and after only a short while longer Steven returned to join the Elites looking frazzled, yet relieved. Sidney glanced down at the battlefield over Steven's shoulder and gaped when he saw the enraged trainers had already calmed down and were having a civil conversation.


"But, how?"

... Okay, I'm mystified too at how Steven pulled that one off. .-.

Steven merely smiled as he straightened his lapels. "Let's just say I had a bit of diplomatic help."


Phoebe blinked in stunned surprise; she had never expected someone as quiet as the Hoenn Champion to be able to quell the hot-tempered trainers. But as Steven walked past the two stunned Elites, she saw exactly where his help had come from. Trailing behind the Champion was his Carbink, happily bobbing in his wake.


"Wait a minute..."

Sidney: "Steven, what on earth did you do?"

Steven paused for a moment and glanced over his shoulder with a sly smile, "Did you know that Confide works when used outside of battle too?" Carbink gave a happy squeal as it circled around Steven's feet. "This little one is quite a good listener."


Phoebe just stared at Steven in utter surprise, while Sidney's jaw hit the floor.


"Oh, and we'll be hosting Cynthia for a welcome dinner tonight at seven. Don't be late!" And with a wave, Steven slipped out the door.

inb4 the Confide wears off 30 seconds after Steven bounces.

Sidney leaned over to tap on Phoebe's shoulder, startling her from their stunned silence.


"Remind me to borrow that TM from Steven for the next time Glacia wants to kill me."


Phoebe simply nodded, but made a mental note to do the same.

So something was learned that day! :V

Alright, as for my overall thoughts. I thought that these three prompts were pretty cute and varied, my favorite one was probably Prompt #7, but seeing bullies get their comeuppance is always a cathartic premise in general. I do feel that there were a couple points where a bit more description or keeping certain characters in mind more would've made for a more interesting read that didn't fully come through, kinda like how the Trapinch basically just completely falls off the radar in Prompt #7 even though it's out and about the entire time up until the very end, but everything still worked well enough as-is.

Though good job @Panoramic_Vacuum . Hopefully you also get some feedback on this series from other writers this week as well, since even with a few areas where there's room for improvement, they're cute little fluff pieces, and good pick-me-ups for when you need something to put a smile on your face in a short period of time. ^^
 
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Spiteful Murkrow

Pokémon Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Partners
  1. nidoran-f
Heya, back for another tranche of these short stories. Picking up with a triplet, since it's a good way to get a healthy smattering and a nice palette cleanser in between reviews that require a bit more crunch to yeet out.

Prompt #10

Phoebe smiled as she draped the Reaper Cloth around Dusclops' shoulders. The ghost type gave a happy shudder as the spirit energy flowed through its frame and with a gleeful cry, its body began to glow. As the bright light faded away from Dusknoir, a pair of blue eyes that peeked through the doorway squeezed shut and fled with a muffled, heartbroken squeak.

Oh? I take it that there's a common assumption that fundamental personality changes upon evolving aren't unheard of among Pokémon in this series? Since admittedly, I wasn't quite sure why the observer would be so dismayed.

Dusknoir quickly proved to be a strong addition to Phoebe's team, and it motivated the rest of the Elite on to work hard with their partners as well. Sidney's Vullaby finally kicked its disobedient streak and made progress in leaps and bounds. It evolved later that month. Drake's Fraxure was getting taller by the day and its tusks had begun to take on the wicked curve of their signature axe-like form. Dragon types were stubborn, but both trainer and pokemon knew it was only a matter of days before Fraxure would shed its juvenile armor. Even the Champion himself was spurred into action, and his progress was apparent in the green tinge that quickly began to show in Archen's growing plumage. One afternoon it burst into its first real flight, evolving into a full fledged Archeops.

Huh. I'm impressed at how you're worming in little worldbuilding deets into this series, since the whole idea of "start to take on features of your next morph just before evolution" feels like a neat quirk. Definitely also handy for eyeballing how far along a Pokémon is for its stage of development.

But Glacia huffed in defeat as, yet again, after a fierce training session her two Snorunt still had not evolved. It wasn't as if they hadn't shown any improvement. Their omnipresent shivering had lessened; a sure sign that their bodies were harboring plenty of stored energy. One of the Snorunt even had tufts of thicker fur peeking out from beneath its cloak. It would become a Glalie soon, she could feel it.

And when the day came and a bright light engulfed her two partners, only one Glalie emerged in the end. It hovered proudly, getting used to the feeling of its new body, but its partner stood next to it, still clutching its cloak in two shivering hands, eyes dejected and downturned.

Shouldn't have cheaped out on that Experience Share, Glacia. :V

"What's the matter, little one?" Glacia asked as she kneeled down before her pokemon. It averted its eyes from its trainer, and Glacia gave a reassuring smile.

"There's no need to be ashamed. You'll evolve when it's your time. We'll keep working together until that time comes."

inb4 it doesn't want to evolve or something like that.

But the little Snorunt still seemed agitated, and it dashed out of the training chamber without another word. Glacia frowned as it fled, but she wouldn't chase it. If Snorunt needed time alone, then she was happy to let it be in peace.

It wasn't until later that night when the rest of the League was asleep that a pair of tiny footsteps pattered down the hallway toward Phoebe's chamber. As quietly as it could, Snorunt nudged the door ajar and peered into the darkness inside. Dusknoir floated peacefully, eye shut in slumber, and Snorunt let out a chattering sigh of longing. It hadn't kept its volume low sufficiently quiet, however, and a single red eye drifted open at the sound. As it took notice of the open door, the hallway stood empty with only the remnants of a nervous squeak echoing down the corridor.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yGfQak-q9M


For the next week, Snorunt made itself scarce around its trainer, but not around the other Elites. Every so often it would pass through the common area and brush by, seemingly looking for something or someone. When Phoebe finally asked it why it was running from Glacia, Snorunt panicked and took to hiding in one of the closets, only peeking out the door when it heard someone new come into the room.

... Can't tell if this 'mon doesn't want to evolve or else specifically wants to become Froslass and doesn't want to become a Glalie. I could honestly buy either direction at this point.

Until, one day Glacia had been talking with Steven in the common room, and Snorunt peeked its head out into the room once more. It sniffed the air and trained its eyes onto the Champion. In one swift motion it burst from the closet and launched itself at the unsuspecting trainer. With one paw it batted at the man's jacket pocket, and as he stumbled backward in surprise, a small shiny item tumbled to the ground. It bounced with a couple of clatters, but before Glacia could admonish her pokemon for the uncharacteristic sneak attack, the little Snorunt had gathered the gleaming stone in its paws. Turning its blue eyes up to meet its trainer's, a bright light surrounded the ice type and it closed its eyes peacefully as it felt its body change.

Oh, so it did want to become a Froslass after all. Cute, though shame the language barrier made it so hard to communicate its desires.

Things felt lighter all of a sudden. More airy. The ever present chill was still there, like a draft that snaked its way down an unprotected collar. But there was something else too. Something otherworldly. Something that sent a tingle up the spine, but not from the temperature.

Both Steven and Glacia looked on as Froslass took shape. Sharp blue eyes slowly opened and the dual type pokemon circled her trainer in an icy swirl. Glacia offered a polite curtsy to her new teammate, and Froslass trilled a happy cry in return. She smiled as she gently took one of Froslass's paws in her hand, she now understood.

Glacia: "(Boy is it a good thing that I didn't press you to go back to training after you skipped out on me, since boy would that have gotten awkward quickly.)" ^^;

When darkness once again settled over the League, Froslass floated down the hallway and silently drifted through the door. She paused nervously next to Dusknoir, the larger ghost already awake and waiting for her. Shyly, Froslass reached out with one hand and Dusknoir gently cupped it between its two larger ones. Leaning in, the pokemon met with a soft nuzzle, and the air sang as their spirits danced as one.

A grim reaper expy and a yuki-onna have no right to be this cute together. And yet, they are.


Prompt #11

The mood was tense as the two trainers left the Lilycove Art Museum. There was a traveling exhibition on display for only a short time, and it came was highly recommended by the local critics. So of course Wallace was determined to go see it and Steven wouldn't have dreamed of turning down the invitation to join him, if only for the fact that because if he did had, he would've had to hear about his declination for weeks.

And yet in the end he feared he'd still be getting an earful for an entirely different reason.



"The nerve!" Wallace huffed as they strolled down one of the city's winding paths, practically stomping his feet as they went. "I can't believe they'd do such a thing!"

Steven ventured a nervous glance at the incensed Leader. He didn't find the exhibit to be of such great offense, but he knew to keep those thoughts to himself. Instead he chose his words carefully.

"It was an... odd choice."

"Odd?!"

What on earth got Wallace into such a tizzy anyways? A sculptural exhibit of Milotic dressed up as clowns?


Clearly he didn't choose them carefully enough.

"I could hardly call what we saw something as tame as 'odd'. More like 'garish'. Honestly, Steven, I have half a mind to write a strongly worded letter to the curator..."

Steven: "Wallace, you realize that the definition of 'art' these days literally covers blank canvases in a room. Maybe you should consider being a bit less-" >_>;
Wallace: "No, absolutely not! It was an absolute travesty! A travesty, I say!" >:(

It was time to talk his friend off the ledge.

"I don't think that's really necessary, Wallace. It was just the one piece in the collection, right?"

"You're missing the point, Steven. It only needed to be one piece to ruin the entire thing!"

... I'm starting to think that it really is a sculpture of a Milotic in a clown costume at this rate.


"I mean, art is all a matter of taste, no?" Steven tried to defuse the situation with a lighthearted shrug. It didn't work.

"Are you saying I lack the intricacies of good taste?" Wallace's voice climbed a few notes higher, and Steven winced.

"No, no, not at all," he raised his hands defensively as Wallace's narrow gaze was now aimed at him. "I'm merely suggesting that the artist is the one who is lacking."

Wallace eyed him for a moment longer before looking away, content to simply sniff and hold his head high.

... Nice save there, Steven. :V

"You don't need to suggest what I am already aware of."

At this Steven sighed in relief, able to deflect Wallace's anger back at the initial target.

"Well, needless to say I won't be giving that particular exhibit a glowing review."

"Thankfully I don't think the papers will be asking any of us for our thoughts on the matter."

"Oh, I'd love to give them a piece of my thoughts..."



Though I get the feeling that the punchline to all this buildup is going to be quite something. :V

Steven sighed again. He was fighting a losing battle, and as much as he hated losing, this was one his friend would never concede. But that wouldn't stop him from trying one last time.

"Wallace, you can't be that surprised with an exhibit title like 'Pokemon: A Circus of Wonder'."

... Holy moly, I just was joking about the Milotic clown being the punchline.


At this, Wallace wheeled around on his heel, practically sputtering, "Why not the charismatic ringleader, or the dazzling trapeze artist, or the mesmerizing contortionist?!"

Just the naming of the rest of the exhibit pieces began to recall the image in Steven's mind, and he found it more and more difficult to keep a straight face at the memory.

"Why? Why did they have to paint my darling Milotic as the clown?!"



Wow. I'm impressed that I got that close to the actual punchline.

The hand over his mouth did little to stifle the laugh that Steven could no longer contain.

"I'm sorry, Wallace," he tried to backpedal at the Master Coordinator's furious expression, but his eyes still twinkled with mirth. "But you have to admit, they did portray her as a magnificent juggler."

... How does a Milotic juggle anyways?


A flock of Wingull took to the sky at Wallace's cry of rage, and Steven found it too hard to hold in his laughter as he ran for what was quite possibly his life.

Note to self: Don't bring unflattering depictions of Milotic anywhere in sensory range of Wallace. :V

Prompt #12

"So, uh, how are things going for you in Hoenn so far?"

But Norman was in no mood for small talk, and he didn't move from where he stood, arms crossed.

"You're the one here for the Gym inspection, you tell me."

Sidney shifted at the Gym Leader's forwardness before quickly consulting his clipboard.

Sidney: "I'll take that as a 'not great', but moving on." -_-;

"Uhh," his eyes scanned down the checklist, "H-how's your win loss ratio been? We can't go having the newest Gym in the region being thought of as the pushover."

Sidney's attempt at humor was lost on Norman, who just stared back impassively. "It's fair."

Norman: "Isn't it literally our jobs to lose to kids so that they can get their badges? I'm pretty sure that in Origins we were depicted scaling our teams relative to our challengers."
:what:

Sidney: "Look, you need to win enough so that way we don't have to deal with literally a thousand entrants at the Conference this year, alright?" >_>;

"Oookay..."

He scribbled a note down on the clipboard, not because it was important, but because he felt like he had to.

"Look," Norman started with a sigh, "I know you're just here to do your job -"

"So let me do it."

Yeesh, somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed today. Did Sidney take a hard L to Bruno coming through on a visit or something? :V

The younger man's tone had taken a firm edge, and he caught Norman's surprised expression. It was his turn to sigh.

"I know, it's gotta suck that the League has all these rules and regulations. If I'm totally honest, I don't really care how many trainers you give a badge to or not. But if I gotta do this kinda stuff to help out the Boss, then I'm gonna do it."

Norman: "... You do know that if you hate this job that much, you can literally just make up something plausible-sounding for an inspection report."
:what:

Sidney: "Uh... yeah, I'm not dealing with that headache if I got something seriously wrong, thanks."
:fearfullaugh~1:


"What do you think of him?"

"Huh?"

"The Champion, Steven Stone. What do you think of him?"

Sidney found himself blinking in confusion.

"What's that got to do with anything?"

Sidney: "... You are aware that this isn't going to help your inspection if you're not doing a good job-"
:sceptical:

Norman: "Look, just answer the question, alright?" >_>;

"Just wondering. I'm new to Hoenn, but you have to admit, having the heir to the wealthiest corporation in the region as head of the Pokemon League sounds awfully convenient..." Norman's tone wasn't accusatory, in fact it held as neutral as if he was having a conversation about the weather, but it didn't stop Sidney from bristling with defensive energy.

"Now listen here," he practically hissed through bared teeth, "No matter what you've heard, Steven's gotten to where his all on his own. I've seen it myself. I'd have nothing if it weren't for him, and I won't stand for anyone spreading lies that say otherwise."

I mean considering how another E4 literally had a high-ranking Team Evil operative on it and the Indigo League had a Team Evil leader on it... yeah, having a plutocrat's son as your champion is kinda smalltime.

"Relax," Norman's posture eased into a slouch against the nearest door frame, "I was just checking."

"Checking what?" Sidney was still on edge.

"Checking to see what kind of people the Champion had in his Elite. And what they thought about him in return. From the sound of it, Hoenn is in good hands. Now," Norman held out a hand, "Let me see that checklist."

That's... not a high bar to cross considering the likes of the Kalos League. Like I get the sentiment behind the statement, but...
:fearfullaugh~1:


"What?"

"Give it here, I filled out a million of these back in Johto. I'll walk you through everything as I go down the list."

Nodding, Sidney handed over the clipboard. As Norman gave the pages a cursory glance, Sidney froze and shook his head.

"Hey, wait a minute. I'm the one supposed to be doing the inspection!"

Norman just laughed and disappeared into the first chamber of the Gym with Sidney hot on his heels.

Well, that's one way to pass a Gym inspection, even if I'm sure that Norman got hit with the likes of an ethics complaint over this.


Alright, so you walked me through the backstory of how these short stories came to be offsite, and with that in mind I think that I can cut some slack over stuff like length and whatnot. I do feel that both prompts #11 and #12 did feel like they could've been longer, though admittedly they kinda just worked as-is, so I'm not sure what I'd recommend for extending them.

And frankly I was kinda too busy having fun with the prompts to really notice those technical issues, since I was too busy d'awwing at prompt #10 and having a giggle at prompts #11 and #12 , so congrats there @Panoramic_Vacuum . I'll be looking forward to getting through a lot more of these little mini-chapters of yours, since they've got me hooked.
 
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