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n=30

kintsugi

golden scars | pfp by sun
Location
the warmth of summer in the songs you write
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. silvally-grass
  2. lapras
  3. golurk
  4. custom/booper-kintsugi
  5. custom/meloetta-kint-muse
  6. custom/meloetta-kint-dancer
In which the Heroes of Truth and Ideals realize it's rather silly that the fate of Unova would be settled over a single battle, and come to the only logical conclusion.



Hilda's hand twitched on the return mechanism of the pokeball. On her first pass, she didn't even push it down all the way; trembling, she had to force her thumb down a second time. Zekrom's unconscious form vanished in a flash of red light.

"You did it," she said hollowly. "You won."

Twenty feet away, N's face was a blur—perhaps the residual heat from Reshiram, Hilda told herself, smudging at her eyes with her free hand—but his voice was clear when he replied, "It would appear so."

It had all come down to this. One single battle for the fate of Unova, and she'd lost. Lost. "So this is the end, right? You're going to erase battling, separate trainers from pokemon?" Unbidden, her mind drifted to her emboar, safely unconscious in his pokeball. He'd wake up in an entirely new world. Would he miss her? Would he know?

Her gaze drifted around the shattered floor of N's castle. Below her, the league unfurled like a starry flag, its lights still twinkling in the distance, unaware that its fate had been decided. The stone steps had felt old when she ascended, sturdy beneath her feet but weathered, like they'd seen a thousand challengers before her. The marble halls leading up to the champion's dais had felt ancient, a bastion of everything she'd ever known. Everything anyone had ever known.

Soon, it would all come undone.

"What?"

Hilda jolted out of her reverie and found herself in the uncomfortable position of having both N and a god look at her with a pair of matching expressions that could only be described as quizzical. "You're going to end all of this now," she said slowly. "You won. So now you get what you want."

Reshiram rumbled, in an almost musical trill, and Hilda's heart fluttered. Now that the dragons had ceased their dance, she could finally take in Reshiram's majesty, a starburst of white feathers and flame. Blue eyes passed over her once, seemed to take in every aspect of her being, and then looked away.

"I agree," N murmured. "Spoken like a true Hero of Ideals."

"What?" Hilda strained a little closer. There was a good twenty feet between them and it was hard to hear.

"It's a rough translation," N repeated, more loudly, "But Reshiram says that your conclusion is much like flipping a coin to reveal tails, and assuming the coin is tails on both." When she said nothing, he continued, "There are two diametrically opposed solutions here. Revealing one to be the victor does not necessarily undo the existence of the other."

He paused awkwardly. Hilda said nothing. So he added, "But it's a simple binomial. If we wanted to determine which was more correct for Unova, there's really only one way forward."

Hilda raised one eyebrow. Flipping coins. "So you're saying …"

N nodded solemnly. "Mathematically, we need a larger sample."



The first few battles were awkward, cumbersome. Alder had shown up at some point, demanding that they leave the league premises—but under the current regulations, there was no wording for what would happen if both the challenger and the champion agreed that the battle was still ongoing. Getting a steady stash of healing items in sufficient scale had also proven difficult, but less so than proving that permitting laws did not explicitly exclude summoning a castle on top of league premises. But, as far as anyone could legally prove, either N or Hilda was the champion, and as long as they both refused to settle that, they could occupy the champion's chambers for as long as they saw fit. The castle was a matter for Plasma's legal team.

(It was a poorly-phrased rule, Alder had realized immediately. But unfortunately the petition process to change league by-laws required a committee vote, and unfortunately only the champion had the power to call committee meetings, so … )

"So that's forty-nine battles for Reshiram, and forty-seven for Zekrom." N looked up from the rapidly-healing gouge in Reshiram's side, which knitted itself together even as he continued to spray a potion on the wound. "Say, do you think we might be biasing the stats a little?"

"In what way?"

"Well, you and I both—" N fumbled for a word "—want something out of this, and now we both know that it's an experiment. So we might unconsciously be dictating what happens. We should do our experiment blind. Or double-blind."

Hilda swallowed nervously. The idea of closing her ideas and letting Zekrom battle … or worse, Zekrom closing its eyes and trying to battle … "Are you sure?"

A brief huff of flame from Reshiram drew her attention, and when she looked over, the legendary dragon was staring at her again, twin spirals of smoke spilling from its nostrils.

"Oh, a fair point," N said to Reshiram. And then, with a faint smile, he turned back to her. "Hilda, don't take this the wrong way, but do you know what a blind experiment is?"

She shook her head, feeling hopelessly out of her depth.

To her surprise, N exclaimed, "Excellent! I have some books you might enjoy. Tomorrow can be a reading day. I think Zekrom would enjoy some time to themself."



Two days later, they ran into the snag that was very obvious in hindsight.

"Zekrom won't battle for someone who isn't the Hero of Ideals," Hilda found herself saying in what she hoped was a slow, calming voice to the sobbing ten year-old in front of her. "It's not your fault." Her words felt hollow in her mouth though—whose fault was it, then? "Say, do you like emboar? Mine's very friendly."

Half an hour after that, when they'd finally gotten their sample trainers to leave the league (and waved off Alder's tight-lipped glare), Hilda sighed. "We could just acknowledge that the experimental setup is flawed a little."

"We could."

There was the other slight snag of what to do with the actual results. At first Unova had been deeply intrigued by this clandestine battle at the heart of a strange castle, invested in whether Truth or Ideals would prevail—but their interest seemed to be waning. Strange. Didn't they know that all of Unova hung in the balance?

"Have you considered that we haven't accounted for environmental factors?" Hilda asked, glancing up from a dog-eared copy of Brase's Understanding Basic Statistics. "Zekrom could perform better at night, for example."

Zekrom grumbled something.

"That's true too." N smiled faintly. For Hilda's benefit, he added, "Under the current parameters a difference of two losses isn't statistically significant. We can't draw a conclusion."

"We'll need to conduct more battles."

"Of course."

These battles were conducted under nighttime, low-humidity, high-humidity, and heavy precipitation conditions. A full dataset including a full audio transcription of these sixty-four battles was included in Appendix E of their paper. It was concluded that environmental factors such as time of day, humidity, and rainfall had minimal effect on the outcome of a battle between two legendary dragons, although it could not speculate on battles between other pokemon.



"I can't believe they wouldn't take our paper." Hilda scowled as she paced a tight circle. Reshiram and Zekrom looped a much larger circle overhead, lazily trading bursts of thunder and flame until Zekrom fell from the sky, smoking. "Who do they think they are?"

N didn't look up from where he was casually transcribing the previous test's data into excel. "Presumably the head editors of the Unovan Statistics Association."

Hilda fumed, reading the message aloud for the fourth time. "We regret to inform you that we do not believe that your paper, 'Binomial Empirical Testing to Determine the Single Moral Outcome for Unovan Training Ethics' meets our criteria for publication." She glared over the screen of her x-transceiver towards N. "What criterion? You saw that tripe they published about the correlation between trainers who don't kick their pokemon and trainers who enjoy the pun in roggenrola."

"Their methodology was airtight," N noted serenely. "Also, they were sponsored by Clay. Reshiram is sure there's some relation there."

"I know, but—" Hilda cut herself off with a hiss of frustration. "Whatever. We don't need the USA's approval here. We know we're right." Zekrom pulled themself over to her, one wing charred into an unrecognizable lump, and Hilda idly spritzed it with a potion. "We'll call it here for the day. One hundred and seventeen to one hundred and twenty."



"Perhaps there's no solution," Hilda offered as she and N began tidying up their station. The sun was low in the sky—as was Reshiram, who hit the stone floor shortly after—and they were wrapping up their study for the day.

"Mathematically it doesn't make sense. There has to be a single formula that proves who is correct here. An equation that will change the world. And once everyone is told the solution, they will all immediately accept it." N plucked a charred white feather off of his notebook.

"They will," Hilda agreed emphatically, which made it true. "All of Unova will immediately agree to whatever conclusion we draw here, so we need to make sure our reasoning is airtight."

Reshiram hummed something. Hilda looked at N expectantly.

"They're asking," N said, his brow furrowed, "if we've ever thought about how there never seem to be incredibly good things."

"Pardon?"

"The translation is hard. I …" N paused for a moment, and inhaled. "There are some concepts Reshiram is saying that I don't understand. But the gist is: we can name events where we think the world got worse. A lot of bad things that made us lose faith. A lot of people did things we couldn't believe in, and then they did them again, and again." When he looked at her, his stormy eyes were almost pleading. "But Reshiram—and I as well, now—wonder if you can think of a time that something happened where you could believe that the entire world changed for the better, and permanently?"

Hilda's breath caught in her throat.

When she was four, a petrochemical explosion at Virbank had rocked the country. She remembered watching her mother watch the television with tight lips and white knuckles. They must have played that clip of the man in a stiff-pressed suit a thousand times, his words like a worm in her head—Virbank Petroleum will be conducting a full internal investigation. Our customers are our family, and Unova is our home. Our sincerest condolences to those affected.

Later they would find that a subsidiary contractor had used faulty fittings, resulting in the explosion. The contractor went under. VP issued another public apology. Three workers had died. The first checks arrived in the mail two weeks later; Hilda had been too young to know what they meant, or why her mother cried.

When she was thirteen, the invitational to replace Castelia's gym leader began. There was a huge tournament, and she'd watched, rapt, as challengers pitted themselves against one another, each match more fantastic than the last.

Ultimately the position had gone to Burgh, the former leader's nephew. There was outrage for a while, and the bracket winner had joined forces with the runner-up to protest the nepotism that they claimed was rampant in the league. People had been interested for a while, but then Drayden had challenged Alder for champion, and league coverage was nothing but thinkpieces and speculation and interviews.

Had the rules changed? Had anything happened as a result? She couldn't remember.

When she was sixteen, she began her journey. Later than some, earlier than others—she was hesitant to leave home, although her mother had said for years that it'd be good for her—and she'd received a tepig, whom she'd nicknamed Reckless (they'd later agree to call him Haizi). This was where it could all be determined, she'd decided. Pokemon battles were a question of skill and little more. Talent and merit were all you would need to rise to the top.

On the battle subway she'd uncovered a cheating ring in which some trainers would purposefully throw their matches to allow other trainers to advance, splitting the betting money between them. It was very elaborate, and all told, roughly seven of the thirty-two trainers were involved. She'd reported them to the authorities, but the ringleader was a favored pick for the league, and his parents had made a sizable donation, and—

Back when she'd thought this would all end in a single battle, where defeating N would mean that injustice towards pokemon would disappear as well—had it felt like everything that was wrong with the world would vanish overnight? Surely not, if her convictions had failed her the first time. And N wasn't wrong—people hurt pokemon all the time. People hurt people all the time too. He couldn't look away from that truth, but she ... she couldn't relinquish that belief that things gradually got better.

There had to be something. Roxie's triumphant announcement that the Virbank disaster zone would be reallocated into a nature reserve. Haizi's flames roaring to life as he'd evolved into an emboar and scored them the winning seat on the battle subway. Iris, back ramrod straight as she won the seat for Drayden's gym, and then her lips cracking into a smile when she actually received it.

But had that felt like actual change? Change that could last?

Surely it had all been so small, so inconsequential. A patch of green in an ever-expanding sea of concrete, a victory in a lower circuit that didn't mean anything, one new gym leader out of eight. There wasn't a sweeping outcry, sudden reform, a single moment in which the world suddenly felt like there was hope anywhere else except around the edges.

Zekrom rumbled something in response, and although she couldn't understand the words Hilda could feel their meaning, low and steady like the riptide.

Maybe for a lot of people those moments meant nothing. But they meant something to us.

Change was won, not found. And it was won by people who fought for it, people who believed in it. Roxie had called her mother once a year, every year, ever since she'd become gym leader. There was a poster of Iris and her haxorus in Hilda's room back at home. And Haizi had been the one to inspire her to keep going after a series of difficult losses to Clay.

If they could do it, so could she.

What she wanted to say was, "The world trends towards justice. It has to. I've seen it. Otherwise ... wouldn't it just be a fool's errand to keep going?"

What she said instead was, "Anecdotes aren't evidence. We'd need more data to be sure."



Their paper, titled Truth vs Ideals: A Complete Statistical Analysis was finally published in the Associated Journal of Statistics on page fifty-four. It was forty-six pages long and largely unread. It was referenced in The Unovan Post as a supporting source to the conclusion that training caused cancer, and later was cited in CombeeFeed's quiz, What kind of berry juice are you?


 

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. custom/moka-mark
  2. solrock
When she was four, a petrochemical explosion at Virbank had rocked the country. She remembered watching her mother watch the television with tight lips and white knuckles. They must have played that clip of the man in a stiff-pressed suit a thousand times, his words like a worm in her head—Virbank Petroleum will be conducting a full internal investigation. Our customers are our family, and Unova is our home. Our sincerest condolences to those affected.
The walls between the worlds have worn a little thin! :o This is a great explanation for where dad went though--oops!

This is a fun, desperately optimistic take on paralysis by analysis. They can't get off the ride. It's clear it's not working, but what else are they going to do? Like,

"Anecdotes aren't evidence. We'd need more data to be sure."
Oof. Yes but. Not like that. ™️

My brain is sludge at this point in the day but girrrrrl how are your shitposts so smart?
 

aer

Bug Catcher
Pronouns
he/they
What she wanted to say was, "The world trends towards justice. It has to. I've seen it. Otherwise ... wouldn't it just be a fool's errand to keep going?"

Hmm, is 'justice' her insistence that Zekrom (ideals) must beat out Reshiram (truth) eventually? And then the opposite's implied in the final section. (Or the final section implies that things have gotten extreme enough that even considering pokemon training might be bad gets it lumped in with training causing cancer jokes.)

"Mathematically it doesn't make sense. There has to be a single formula that proves who is correct here. An equation that will change the world. And once everyone is told the solution, they will all immediately accept it." N plucked a charred white feather off of his notebook.

And if the people don't accept it, does that mean that it's not the right solution? N sure wasn't willing to accept his first win, ehehe. It seems like Hilda and N are fighting over the best way to deal with pokemon training, but neither of them know what that way is. Hilda's sure it's there like the other moments in her life where reform happened and things (might be?) better, but what they both end up doing is frivolous.

Hilda swallowed nervously. The idea of closing her ideas and letting Zekrom battle … or worse, Zekrom closing its eyes and trying to battle … "Are you sure?"

To her surprise, N exclaimed, "Excellent! I have some books you might enjoy. Tomorrow can be a reading day. I think Zekrom would enjoy some time to themself."

I like the its/themself difference in how they refer to the dragons.
 

kintsugi

golden scars | pfp by sun
Location
the warmth of summer in the songs you write
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. silvally-grass
  2. lapras
  3. golurk
  4. custom/booper-kintsugi
  5. custom/meloetta-kint-muse
  6. custom/meloetta-kint-dancer
The walls between the worlds have worn a little thin! :o This is a great explanation for where dad went though--oops!
This fic exists in the gap between worlds tbh. Hilda has an emboar and a backstory, oops.
This is a fun, desperately optimistic take on paralysis by analysis. They can't get off the ride. It's clear it's not working, but what else are they going to do? Like,
> "You give the choice to an ill chooser," said Aragorn. "Since we passed through the Argonath all my choices have gone amiss."
Oof. Yes but. Not like that. ™️
learning!
My brain is sludge at this point in the day but girrrrrl how are your shitposts so smart?
fOrMuLas

---

hey again, long time no see! hopefully you weren't expecting serious work on april fool's haha.

Hmm, is 'justice' her insistence that Zekrom (ideals) must beat out Reshiram (truth) eventually? And then the opposite's implied in the final section. (Or the final section implies that things have gotten extreme enough that even considering pokemon training might be bad gets it lumped in with training causing cancer jokes.)
I think that's her idea of justice. She is the Hero of Ideals in this one, so she's more than a bit biased.

With a parody I don't really know if the narrative is able to make sweeping declarations of what justice means. At the end of the day this is more poking at the idea that people don't really change their minds--BW acts like the outcome if you lost to N is that everyone throws their hands up and is like "well shit u rite", which, given the pushback he's been getting from everyone so far, I deeply struggle to believe.
And if the people don't accept it, does that mean that it's not the right solution? N sure wasn't willing to accept his first win, ehehe. It seems like Hilda and N are fighting over the best way to deal with pokemon training, but neither of them know what that way is. Hilda's sure it's there like the other moments in her life where reform happened and things (might be?) better, but what they both end up doing is frivolous.
Correctness arguably isn't governed by how many people agree with you, although this line was more poking at the idea that BW climax acts like Unova was really poised to just take the side of whoever won, simply because they won. Which large groups of people tend to not do.

Not making a choice is still a choice, yeah--they end up doing a frivolous thing that gets ignored by everyone else.
 

aer

Bug Catcher
Pronouns
he/they
hopefully you weren't expecting serious work on april fool's haha.

............... I don't have that much date awareness, oops. Good to see you again though!

With a parody I don't really know if the narrative is able to make sweeping declarations of what justice means.

I've been more interested in characters' perspectives of their situations lately, actually! Which I suppose may be folly on a joke fic.

Correctness arguably isn't governed by how many people agree with you

Ooh yeah and this as my guess as to why N would keep trying to push doing an experiment instead of finding a better solution, lol. It doesn't work so keep trying??? They gotta accept the growing mountain of evidence?
 

unrepentantAuthor

A cat that writes stories.
Location
UK
Pronouns
they/she
Partners
  1. custom/purrloin-salem
  2. custom/sneasel-dusk
  3. custom/luz-companion
  4. custom/brisa-companion
  5. custom/meowth-laura
  6. custom/delphox-jesse
I really, really enjoyed this! I loved the hero of truth being dedicated to the scientific method, the fun little explorations of the ramifactions of the premise, like the legality of the champion status and suchlike, and the general absurdity of the premise. I also really loved the stretch about big, permanent goods and the trend towards justice, which is a serious thing I've given thought to and loved to see tackled in a moment of seriousness amid a sea of slightly silly entertainment. I also sputtered at the final line about the fucking combeefeed quiz, holy shit. Great stuff. Well done.
 

Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
Partners
  1. dratini
  2. custom/dratini-pen
  3. custom/dratini-pen2
fOrMuLas

that's it, that's the review

I think my favorite thing about this, besides the chef's kiss premise, is how well you handle the tone shifts. The grave, melodramatic tone of the opening, punctured by N and Reshiram staring at Hilda like she's grown a second head. The tangent on Plasma's rules-lawyering and the legality of the castle, all set forth in this level, matter-of-a-fact tone. And the way things actually drop back into feeling genuine when N and Hilda discuss whether big structural change can be realized. The tone varies so wildly, but it all feels like the same story, and the parodic and genuine elements kind of play into each other. You did a nice job with the edits to make Hilda's ideals section feel more grounded. I also liked what I think is a new detail about Haizi choosing her name.

Obviously this gets the job done when it comes to pointing out the absurdity of the BW 'one battle will change the world' premise, but it digs into more interesting questions about how we conceptualize change. This seems to posit ideals as the belief that a single moment can change everything, permanently. But N initially buys into that premise too-he just thinks more empirical work needs to take place to determine who the winner is. So it's not actually a theory of change vs theory of change argument. And ultimately, the reception to their article (the title is so perfect, plus the sketchy Clay shit) makes idealists out of both of them. But yeah, boo N and Hilda for doing bad science when your dragons could be eating the rich, I guess.

 

kintsugi

golden scars | pfp by sun
Location
the warmth of summer in the songs you write
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. silvally-grass
  2. lapras
  3. golurk
  4. custom/booper-kintsugi
  5. custom/meloetta-kint-muse
  6. custom/meloetta-kint-dancer
............... I don't have that much date awareness, oops. Good to see you again though!
To be fair there's definitely an argument to be made that if a work isn't obvious as comedy, it's probably not a successful comedy. This is a bit out of my wheelhouse so I'm still learning lol. Hi though!
Ooh yeah and this as my guess as to why N would keep trying to push doing an experiment instead of finding a better solution, lol. It doesn't work so keep trying??? They gotta accept the growing mountain of evidence?
The evidence they gather mostly suggests that Resh v Zek ends in roughly a tie (as in, they can't disprove that the true odds are 1:1)--but you gotta be certain, you know, so you should probably just gather a bit more data just in case, run the studies a few more times, true change will come with time, sort of mindset. N as a canon character strikes me as someone who is consumed by doubt, so I can see him being trapped in decision paralysis trying to find the mathematically adequate answer.

(The sheer ridiculousness is continuing to believe that the statistical outcome of Resh v Zek has any actual bearing on what the right answer is, lol.)

---

I think this fic was probably okay but I'm going to need you to write at least fifty more before I can make any statistically significant conclusions.
shit u rite

---

I really, really enjoyed this! I loved the hero of truth being dedicated to the scientific method, the fun little explorations of the ramifactions of the premise, like the legality of the champion status and suchlike, and the general absurdity of the premise. I also really loved the stretch about big, permanent goods and the trend towards justice, which is a serious thing I've given thought to and loved to see tackled in a moment of seriousness amid a sea of slightly silly entertainment. I also sputtered at the final line about the fucking combeefeed quiz, holy shit. Great stuff. Well done.
hey uA, thanks for stopping in! This was a fun little shitpost but it ended up thumbing the line of serious vs shitpost pretty hard towards the end.

and yeah, ultimately I think that ending line hits serious/shitpost right on the head, so I'm glad it landed. ultimately a lot of these crusades that are deeply personal and important to us at best get boiled down to a two-sentence blurb for someone else's entertainment, but at some point you have to laugh at it because there's nothing else that can be done.

---

ironically I tried to tag this but the tag function forces everything to lapslock, which is arguably not the first or last time that lapslock has screwed me over
I think my favorite thing about this, besides the chef's kiss premise, is how well you handle the tone shifts. The grave, melodramatic tone of the opening, punctured by N and Reshiram staring at Hilda like she's grown a second head. The tangent on Plasma's rules-lawyering and the legality of the castle, all set forth in this level, matter-of-a-fact tone. And the way things actually drop back into feeling genuine when N and Hilda discuss whether big structural change can be realized. The tone varies so wildly, but it all feels like the same story, and the parodic and genuine elements kind of play into each other. You did a nice job with the edits to make Hilda's ideals section feel more grounded. I also liked what I think is a new detail about Haizi choosing her name.
I was deeply conflicted about these lol, moreso than I should've been for a shitpost. Comedy is all about timing and specifically comedic timing is a thing I haven't really practiced or studied and as such have zero grasp for other than "this works" and "this doesn't." Making Hilda a reasonable character is my 2021 pit lol.

(the detail is new, yes!)
Obviously this gets the job done when it comes to pointing out the absurdity of the BW 'one battle will change the world' premise, but it digs into more interesting questions about how we conceptualize change. This seems to posit ideals as the belief that a single moment can change everything, permanently. But N initially buys into that premise too-he just thinks more empirical work needs to take place to determine who the winner is. So it's not actually a theory of change vs theory of change argument. And ultimately, the reception to their article (the title is so perfect, plus the sketchy Clay shit) makes idealists out of both of them. But yeah, boo N and Hilda for doing bad science when your dragons could be eating the rich, I guess.
It's tricky to convey. I think in this one the ideal answer is that one moment could change everything for the better, and the truthful answer is that a correct outcome actually exists (regardless of how many moments it takes), and I suppose part of the shitpost here is that the fuse their wrong ideas together to get "the correct outcome exists and it's all in a single moment" instead of like, thinking about that critically for a moment.
 

bluesidra

Mood
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. custom/hoppip-bluesidra-reup
  2. custom/hoppip-bluesidra-pink
  3. custom/hoppip-bluesidra3
So, I heard you liek xkcd?

1641221716917.png
Notable Events:
Day 18:
A falling piece of debris from the castle severely injures a passerby. Both Plasma and the League hire additional lawyers.
Day 20: Investigations show Reshiram to be at fault. Plasma allocates an estimated 0.5 M$ to reserves.
Hilda calls and old friend and he gives her access to his Silverlight account, effectively cutting licensing costs to zero.
Day 25: Hilda and N decide to get dinner from the takeaway across the street rather than the League's cafeteria, and thus significantly reducing their living expenses.
Day 27: Residents complain about the nighttime battles, citing excessive noise as well as increasing temperatures.
Day 32: An independent (citation needed) lawyer has estimated the rental fee for the ground the castle now occupies. Discussion about retroactive payments continue while Plasma refuses to sign a preliminary contract. An out of court settlement seems less likely by the day. The question of interests hasn't even been discussed yet.
Day 40: Alder makes a handsome donation to the Associated Journal of Statistics.
N and Hilda's paper gets accepted.
Alder reclaims the money via expenses.

1641222074342.png
The scribbles on the backside of the page continue:
How do we test for this cause-effect-issue?
Ideally, we would have a bigger sample size.
True.

1641222151314.png
Notable Events:
Wordcount 161:
I learn that this is not eoe-canon-compliant.
Wordcount 1214: Their first paper gets rejected
Wordcount 1275: I have been blessed with the mental image of N typing test-results into excel
Wordcount 2515: Their paper is finally accepted
 

Ambyssin

Gotta go back. Back to the past.
Location
Etherium
Pronouns
he/him
Partners
  1. silvally-dragon
  2. necrozma-ultra
  3. milotic
  4. dreepy
Blitzy New Year!
Disclaimer: This is mostly stream-of-consciousness thoughts. Take it as you will.

-Hilda checking out Reshiram’s majesty and being like “Dang, I got the wrong dragon. Can I be the Hero of Truth instead?” Reshiram > Zekrom; no I’m not biased.
-The idea of N going full math geek on Hilda amuses me. I kind of wish the jokey introduction showed him geeking out about it a bit more with his body language, but I think that’s just me. Though, having had to read plenty of randomized control trials and meta analyses, I do concede N has a point. You can’t generalize results to the population without adequate sampling. Small sample size raises the risk of bias.
-lol at Team Plasma having a legal department. I like to think it’s one of the sages and their strategy is just to rifle off quotes that sound wise and mysterious to baffle the opposition into giving up.
-Am I supposed to find it hilariously callous that N, who supposedly hates his friends getting hurt, is having Reshiram repeatedly fight and spamming healing items?
-Oh my god N talks about blinding, too. And the way Hilda interprets it literally slays me.
-Okay, I was not expecting them to actually publish a paper and submit it for peer review. And I refuse to believe the initials for that organization being USA isn’t intentional.
-The shocking emotional swerves of Hilda reflecting on potential injustices she’d seen (including her dad apparently dying in a chemical plant explosion?!) only to swap right back to “needing more data” threw me for a loop.
-This is a crack fic, right? That ending bit cements it? I’m not crazy? [sees it was published on April 1st] … oh. Right.
-Meanwhile, I imagine Ghetsis pacing outside the room, a frail skeleton because he's forgotten to eat this entire time.
 

windskull

Bidoof Fan
Staff
Partners
  1. custom/sneasel-nip
  2. bidoof
  3. absol
  4. kirlia
  5. custom/windskull-bidoof
Despite the fact that I knew this was going to be an April Fools fic going in, I still got tonal whiplash like. Two, maybe three times.

The beginning of the fic plays things relatively straight. In the battle between truth and ideal, Hilda lost. But then it all leads up to that first punchline. And from there things continue to grow more and more zany. Then I got whiplash again when things get real and Hilda’s tragic backstory was discussed. It seems like it’s going to have a relatively serious ending.

And then that final paragraph happens and I burst out laughing. Well played.

Oh, what am I saying, this is no joke, this is obviously serious math time, and it’s insulting for me to suggest otherwise. What, other than the most serious of math, would get featured on the illustrious CombeeFeed?

One of the spots that made me laugh the most was when their paper got rejected by the USA. I did not catch the joke until Hilda abbreviated it.

While this was a joke fic, there was one spot that might have been a typo or might have been part of the joke, I wasn’t sure.

Hilda swallowed nervously. The idea of closing her ideas and letting Zekrom battle

Did you mean to use ideals here? Or eyes?

All of that said, I came into this not knowing what to expect and I got a kick out of reading it. It was a nice palette cleanser after reading quite a few more serious stories over the last week or so. Overall, I found it an enjoyable experience.

That said… I am only a single person and a sample size of one isn’t a very good experiment, now is it? So I’ll be sharing this with others to get their opinions. Expect the statistical analysis on your desk by next week.
 

Spiteful Murkrow

Ace Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Partners
  1. nidoran-f
  2. druddigon
  3. swellow
Heya, one of my goals for Review Blitz is to try and shoot off at least one review at everyone who gave me one. Mostly doing one of Sample Size since I wanted to make sure I could at least get my foot in the door in case I ran out of time in between other targets on my hitlist to get to something chunkier like Dungeons and Dragonites... well, that and I heard it's funny, which sounds like as good a reason to take a gander and jam out some feedback. :V

And without further ado...

Hilda's hand twitched on the return mechanism of the pokeball. On her first pass, she didn't even push it down all the way; trembling, she had to force her thumb down a second time. Zekrom's unconscious form vanished in a flash of red light.

"You did it," she said hollowly. "You won."

Well, things are going swimmingly already in this story.
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Twenty feet away, N's face was a blur—perhaps the residual heat from Reshiram, Hilda told herself, smudging at her eyes with her free hand—but his voice was clear when he replied, "It would appear so."

It had all come down to this. One single battle for the fate of Unova, and she'd lost. Lost. "So this is the end, right? You're going to erase battling, separate trainers from pokemon?" Unbidden, her mind drifted to her emboar, safely unconscious in his pokeball. He'd wake up in an entirely new world. Would he miss her? Would he know?

I... think that you're being a little melodramatic, hon. Since I distinctly remember that when I did this fight, that I did it without the mascot Tao since I thought that the entire framing was bogus and wanted to rub N's face in it.

Her gaze drifted around the shattered floor of N's castle. Below her, the league unfurled like a starry flag, its lights still twinkling in the distance, unaware that its fate had been decided. The stone steps had felt old when she ascended, sturdy beneath her feet but weathered, like they'd seen a thousand challengers before her. The marble halls leading up to the champion's dais had felt ancient, a bastion of everything she'd ever known. Everything anyone had ever known.

Soon, it would all come undone.

"What?"

Hilda jolted out of her reverie and found herself in the uncomfortable position of having both N and a god look at her with a pair of matching expressions that could only be described as quizzical. "You're going to end all of this now," she said slowly. "You won. So now you get what you want."

N: "... Wait is that really how this all works? Since that feels more than a little overly convenient there." .-.

Reshiram rumbled, in an almost musical trill, and Hilda's heart fluttered. Now that the dragons had ceased their dance, she could finally take in Reshiram's majesty, a starburst of white feathers and flame. Blue eyes passed over her once, seemed to take in every aspect of her being, and then looked away.

"I agree," N murmured. "Spoken like a true Hero of Ideals."

"What?" Hilda strained a little closer. There was a good twenty feet between them and it was hard to hear.

Hilda: "... I literally didn't say anything of note, though." :|

"It's a rough translation," N repeated, more loudly, "But Reshiram says that your conclusion is much like flipping a coin to reveal tails, and assuming the coin is tails on both." When she said nothing, he continued, "There are two diametrically opposed solutions here. Revealing one to be the victor does not necessarily undo the existence of the other."

He paused awkwardly. Hilda said nothing. So he added, "But it's a simple binomial. If we wanted to determine which was more correct for Unova, there's really only one way forward."

Hilda raised one eyebrow. Flipping coins. "So you're saying …"

N nodded solemnly. "Mathematically, we need a larger sample."

Well, you can't say it's not fitting for a Legendary associated with Truth...
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Though now I'm wondering if Reshiram would've also insisted on this analysis being done had N lost, except in a significantly more butthurt and defensive fashion.

The first few battles were awkward, cumbersome. Alder had shown up at some point, demanding that they leave the league premises—but under the current regulations, there was no wording for what would happen if both the challenger and the champion agreed that the battle was still ongoing. Getting a steady stash of healing items in sufficient scale had also proven difficult, but less so than proving that permitting laws did not explicitly exclude summoning a castle on top of league premises. But, as far as anyone could legally prove, either N or Hilda was the champion, and as long as they both refused to settle that, they could occupy the champion's chambers for as long as they saw fit. The castle was a matter for Plasma's legal team.

I can already hear Ghetsis seething in the background barking at N to hurry up and declare victory already. :V

(It was a poorly-phrased rule, Alder had realized immediately. But unfortunately the petition process to change league by-laws required a committee vote, and unfortunately only the champion had the power to call committee meetings, so … )

... Sure is a great time to realize that you have a serious loophole that needs to be patched.
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"So that's forty-nine battles for Reshiram, and forty-seven for Zekrom." N looked up from the rapidly-healing gouge in Reshiram's side, which knitted itself together even as he continued to spray a potion on the wound. "Say, do you think we might be biasing the stats a little?"

"In what way?"

"Well, you and I both—" N fumbled for a word "—want something out of this, and now we both know that it's an experiment. So we might unconsciously be dictating what happens. We should do our experiment blind. Or double-blind."

Ghetsis: "For the love of- Declare victory already, you stupid child! You have more victories than her!" >.<

Hilda swallowed nervously. The idea of closing her ideas and letting Zekrom battle … or worse, Zekrom closing its eyes and trying to battle … "Are you sure?"

And then Unova was destroyed in a rain of fire and thunder. Again.

A brief huff of flame from Reshiram drew her attention, and when she looked over, the legendary dragon was staring at her again, twin spirals of smoke spilling from its nostrils.

"Oh, a fair point," N said to Reshiram. And then, with a faint smile, he turned back to her. "Hilda, don't take this the wrong way, but do you know what a blind experiment is?"

She shook her head, feeling hopelessly out of her depth.

Hilda: "... Obviously not since you're the math nerd canonically and I'm 14." >_>;

To her surprise, N exclaimed, "Excellent! I have some books you might enjoy. Tomorrow can be a reading day. I think Zekrom would enjoy some time to themself."

Ghetsis:
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Two days later, they ran into the snag that was very obvious in hindsight.

"Zekrom won't battle for someone who isn't the Hero of Ideals," Hilda found herself saying in what she hoped was a slow, calming voice to the sobbing ten year-old in front of her. "It's not your fault." Her words felt hollow in her mouth though—whose fault was it, then? "Say, do you like emboar? Mine's very friendly."

Half an hour after that, when they'd finally gotten their sample trainers to leave the league (and waved off Alder's tight-lipped glare), Hilda sighed. "We could just acknowledge that the experimental setup is flawed a little."

"We could."

Ghetsis: "Declare. Victory. Already!"
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There was the other slight snag of what to do with the actual results. At first Unova had been deeply intrigued by this clandestine battle at the heart of a strange castle, invested in whether Truth or Ideals would prevail—but their interest seemed to be waning. Strange. Didn't they know that all of Unova hung in the balance?

With how short modern attention spans are? Surely you jest. :V

"Have you considered that we haven't accounted for environmental factors?" Hilda asked, glancing up from a dog-eared copy of Brase's Understanding Basic Statistics. "Zekrom could perform better at night, for example."

Zekrom grumbled something.

"That's true too." N smiled faintly. For Hilda's benefit, he added, "Under the current parameters a difference of two losses isn't statistically significant. We can't draw a conclusion."

"We'll need to conduct more battles."

"Of course."

Not pictured: these two inducing a villainous breakdown in Ghetsis in the background. :P

These battles were conducted under nighttime, low-humidity, high-humidity, and heavy precipitation conditions. A full dataset including a full audio transcription of these sixty-four battles was included in Appendix E of their paper. It was concluded that environmental factors such as time of day, humidity, and rainfall had minimal effect on the outcome of a battle between two legendary dragons, although it could not speculate on battles between other pokemon.

Well, assuming there's a region left after all of this, Hilda's likely going to be able to fast-track her way to college given that she's well on her way to getting her name on a stats paper.

"I can't believe they wouldn't take our paper." Hilda scowled as she paced a tight circle. Reshiram and Zekrom looped a much larger circle overhead, lazily trading bursts of thunder and flame until Zekrom fell from the sky, smoking. "Who do they think they are?"

... Or not. Guess being 14 has its disadvantages there. ^^;

N didn't look up from where he was casually transcribing the previous test's data into excel. "Presumably the head editors of the Unovan Statistics Association."

Hilda fumed, reading the message aloud for the fourth time. "We regret to inform you that we do not believe that your paper, 'Binomial Empirical Testing to Determine the Single Moral Outcome for Unovan Training Ethics' meets our criteria for publication." She glared over the screen of her x-transceiver towards N. "What criterion? You saw that tripe they published about the correlation between trainers who don't kick their pokemon and trainers who enjoy the pun in roggenrola."

"Their methodology was airtight," N noted serenely. "Also, they were sponsored by Clay. Reshiram is sure there's some relation there."

Translation, get the E4 to sponsor you so you can hurry up and get off their property. At this rate, Ghetsis himself might sponsor you since he kinda wants to rule Unova right about now. :V

"I know, but—" Hilda cut herself off with a hiss of frustration. "Whatever. We don't need the USA's approval here. We know we're right." Zekrom pulled themself over to her, one wing charred into an unrecognizable lump, and Hilda idly spritzed it with a potion. "We'll call it here for the day. One hundred and seventeen to one hundred and twenty."

... How much of a battlefield is even left for them to fight on after 237 battles between Taos being held between them. You'd think that that would start causing structural damage about 200 battles ago.
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"Perhaps there's no solution," Hilda offered as she and N began tidying up their station. The sun was low in the sky—as was Reshiram, who hit the stone floor shortly after—and they were wrapping up their study for the day.

"Mathematically it doesn't make sense. There has to be a single formula that proves who is correct here. An equation that will change the world. And once everyone is told the solution, they will all immediately accept it." N plucked a charred white feather off of his notebook.

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"They will," Hilda agreed emphatically, which made it true. "All of Unova will immediately agree to whatever conclusion we draw here, so we need to make sure our reasoning is airtight."

Obviously not, otherwise I wouldn't have gotten a BS ambush by Ghetsis back in my B1W1 runs.

Reshiram hummed something. Hilda looked at N expectantly.

"They're asking," N said, his brow furrowed, "if we've ever thought about how there never seem to be incredibly good things."

"Pardon?"

"The translation is hard. I …" N paused for a moment, and inhaled. "There are some concepts Reshiram is saying that I don't understand. But the gist is: we can name events where we think the world got worse. A lot of bad things that made us lose faith. A lot of people did things we couldn't believe in, and then they did them again, and again." When he looked at her, his stormy eyes were almost pleading. "But Reshiram—and I as well, now—wonder if you can think of a time that something happened where you could believe that the entire world changed for the better, and permanently?"

Hilda: "... What does this have to do with statistical analysis again?"
:what:

N: "... I don't know actually, but I think we might as well try to answer the question if we're searching for an answer to everything." ^^;

Hilda's breath caught in her throat.

When she was four, a petrochemical explosion at Virbank had rocked the country. She remembered watching her mother watch the television with tight lips and white knuckles. They must have played that clip of the man in a stiff-pressed suit a thousand times, his words like a worm in her head—Virbank Petroleum will be conducting a full internal investigation. Our customers are our family, and Unova is our home. Our sincerest condolences to those affected.

Later they would find that a subsidiary contractor had used faulty fittings, resulting in the explosion. The contractor went under. VP issued another public apology. Three workers had died. The first checks arrived in the mail two weeks later; Hilda had been too young to know what they meant, or why her mother cried.

Oh... well that certainly got dark really quickly.
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When she was thirteen, the invitational to replace Castelia's gym leader began. There was a huge tournament, and she'd watched, rapt, as challengers pitted themselves against one another, each match more fantastic than the last.

Ultimately the position had gone to Burgh, the former leader's nephew. There was outrage for a while, and the bracket winner had joined forces with the runner-up to protest the nepotism that they claimed was rampant in the league. People had been interested for a while, but then Drayden had challenged Alder for champion, and league coverage was nothing but thinkpieces and speculation and interviews.

Had the rules changed? Had anything happened as a result? She couldn't remember.

bdd.jpg


There's your answer, Hilda.

When she was sixteen, she began her journey. Later than some, earlier than others—she was hesitant to leave home, although her mother had said for years that it'd be good for her—and she'd received a tepig, whom she'd nicknamed Reckless (they'd later agree to call him Haizi). This was where it could all be determined, she'd decided. Pokemon battles were a question of skill and little more. Talent and merit were all you would need to rise to the top.

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Uh. Yeah, no. There's definitely an RNG component otherwise metagamers wouldn't be having hissy fits at the existence of Double Team.

On the battle subway she'd uncovered a cheating ring in which some trainers would purposefully throw their matches to allow other trainers to advance, splitting the betting money between them. It was very elaborate, and all told, roughly seven of the thirty-two trainers were involved. She'd reported them to the authorities, but the ringleader was a favored pick for the league, and his parents had made a sizable donation, and—

Or something like could happen too. Not exactly unheard of in IRL sports.

Back when she'd thought this would all end in a single battle, where defeating N would mean that injustice towards pokemon would disappear as well—had it felt like everything that was wrong with the world would vanish overnight? Surely not, if her convictions had failed her the first time. And N wasn't wrong—people hurt pokemon all the time. People hurt people all the time too. He couldn't look away from that truth, but she ... she couldn't relinquish that belief that things gradually got better.

There had to be something. Roxie's triumphant announcement that the Virbank disaster zone would be reallocated into a nature reserve. Haizi's flames roaring to life as he'd evolved into an emboar and scored them the winning seat on the battle subway. Iris, back ramrod straight as she won the seat for Drayden's gym, and then her lips cracking into a smile when she actually received it.

But had that felt like actual change? Change that could last?

I can hear Ghetsis banging on the door outside and screaming incoherently at these two to hurry up in the background during all of this. :P

Surely it had all been so small, so inconsequential. A patch of green in an ever-expanding sea of concrete, a victory in a lower circuit that didn't mean anything, one new gym leader out of eight. There wasn't a sweeping outcry, sudden reform, a single moment in which the world suddenly felt like there was hope anywhere else except around the edges.

Zekrom rumbled something in response, and although she couldn't understand the words Hilda could feel their meaning, low and steady like the riptide.

Maybe for a lot of people those moments meant nothing. But they meant something to us.

N: "All of that's really touching, but don't we have a statistical analysis to-"
Hilda: "Shush, I'm in the middle of something!"

Change was won, not found. And it was won by people who fought for it, people who believed in it. Roxie had called her mother once a year, every year, ever since she'd become gym leader. There was a poster of Iris and her haxorus in Hilda's room back at home. And Haizi had been the one to inspire her to keep going after a series of difficult losses to Clay.

If they could do it, so could she.

What she wanted to say was, "The world trends towards justice. It has to. I've seen it. Otherwise ... wouldn't it just be a fool's errand to keep going?"

What she said instead was, "Anecdotes aren't evidence. We'd need more data to be sure."

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Their paper, titled Truth vs Ideals: A Complete Statistical Analysis was finally published in the Associated Journal of Statistics on page fifty-four. It was forty-six pages long and largely unread. It was referenced in The Unovan Post as a supporting source to the conclusion that training caused cancer, and later was cited in CombeeFeed's quiz, What kind of berry juice are you?

Well, that's a pretty big something there.
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Alas, it is the fate of many a hero to go unsung. ... Including all canonical protagonists, now that I think about it.

Well that was certainly a wild ride. Wasn't expecting a comedic piece to turn out so thought-provoking or touch on as serious of topics as this one did. But it was fun to see your very thorough derailing of the B1W1 plot @kintsugi , and it's a lovely mix of absurdism, nerdery, and general love and TLC at showing snippets of a living Unova in the background. One where things don't all get solved by a singular climactic battle between turbine butt dragons.

Congratulations, and I'll be looking forward to crossing paths with more of your work in the future. ^^
 
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