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Pokémon Vita Ex Mortem

Rueful Raven

Youngster
Pronouns
she/her
Prologue
The Wyndon Stadium throbbed with excitement as Chairman Leon's booming voice declared the Championship Match on. On one side of the arena stood reigning Champion Crux Fischer, smugly flipping a Luxury Ball and resplendent in a suit with a blue-and-white harlequin pattern. On the other side, a challenger. A boy of about eighteen. He wore a black leather jacket, black jeans, and a grey glove on his left hand with a singular golden scale on the back of the hand. His hair was the color of dark chocolate, with a shock of white cutting through it like lightning through the summer sky. His face was a mask of determination and he held no ball.

Fischer laughed and threw his checkered hat in the air to much applause. He leapt three feet into the air and spun like a ballerina, throwing the ball. A veteran Scyther emerged as the crowd roared. It held its battle-notched blades high and bellowed a challenge. The challenger raised a single thin eyebrow. Suddenly, imperceptibly fast, left leg relaxed and snapped out. From a pouch on his leg flew a Premier Ball. It landed on the pitch, releasing a scruffy-looking Chesnaught. Despite the obvious type disadvantage, the boy seemed unruffled. The Chesnaught dropped into a fighting stance and made a face that was as close as Chesnaughts could come to a smirk.

Scott Lockwood regarded the Scyther with cold detachment as its wings beat faster and faster. Soon it appeared to be in six places at once. Lockwood was familiar with Double Team. It was Fischer's favorite opener. Lockwood didn't believe in merely defeating his opponents. In the case of the flamboyant, cocky Champion, he wanted to utterly humiliate him. As the Scythers began whirling around the arena like homing missiles, searching for chinks in his Chesnaught's armor, Lockwood raised one delicate, pale finger. Chesnaught surged forwards, firing a Vine Whip from its wrist that wrapped around an afterimage of Scyther. A section of the crowd wearing the Champion's colors burst out laughing. Suddenly a Scyther dove in for the kill. The afterimages faded as the mantis barreled in, aiming its blades at the center of Chesnaught's back. The great Grass Pokemon suddenly whirled, its left arm shooting down and out like a hammer. Scyther dodged and resumed its Double Teaming. The crowd cheered.

Lockwood coughed. Suddenly Chesnaught stopped scanning about and tucked into a ball. It began rapidly spinning about, sweeping the area around it with spines. Fischer seemed puzzled.

"Running a merry-go-round, Locky? I've been around the block more times than you, you know."

"Then let's shut this circus down. Chesnaught... Frenzy Plant." Vines shot out from the spiky maelstrom, cracking the air like a thousand whips. Each afterimage of Scyther was struck simultaneously. All but one vanished as the Mantis Pokemon was yanked into the spiny sphere. The bug's howl of agony pierced the arena. Lockwood was immensely satisfied with this result. Fischer had overestimated his speed advantage. Unlike gorilla-sized nature spirits, vines were not at all bulky. The stadium had just seen the Champion's blinding opening combo dismantled by a slow Grass/Fighting type. As Fischer recalled his Pokemon, Lockwood cast a beaming smile at the sputtering Champion. Fischer grimaced and whipped a second Ball across the field. It erupted out into the Champion's famous ace, his Eiscue. This Pokemon rarely took the field so early, and Lockwood took its entrance as a sign that he had breached the air of elevated strategy that the Champion surrounded himself with.

"Not switching, kid? I take it you're a one-trick Ponyta, then! Eiscue, Dynamax!" The penguin grew to massive size as the cheers built to a crescendo. The temperature in the stadium dropped several degrees. Lockwood flicked an imaginary snowflake off his jacket.

"Chesnaught! Gyro Ball!" At once, the Spiny Armor Pokemon sprang up, converting the stored energy from its rotation into forward motion. As the spiked behemoth rocketed towards the towering Eiscue, Scott Lockwood found his mind wandering back in time...

Chapter I
The Wyndon Stadium throbbed with excitement as Chairman Leon's booming voice declared the Championship Match on. On one side of the arena stood reigning Champion Trent Morrow, a surly Tyranitar by his side and a Gallade at his back. On the other side, a challenger. A pale-skinned young man in a pink trenchcoat with shoulder-length white hair. He tossed out two Heal Balls, and a Solrock and Lunatone materialized to flank him. The crowd was at their wildest. In a private box in the 200 level, a boy with brown hair eagerly ran to see over the railing. What better way to celebrate your thirteenth birthday than to watch your brother battle Galar's great Champion? Especially when your brother was the Man of Iron Mind, Psychic gym leader Arthur Lockwood.

"Merrick! Do you see him?" A Yanma buzzing at the boy's shoulder flicked its tail in response. The four fielded Pokemon moved into 3-on-3 formation as Morrow threw a third ball and released his ace, a glimmering Cryogonal. Arthur waved to his brother and tossed out his own ace, his famous Metagross, to complete the lineup. In a flash, the field went from calm to frenzied. Morrow's Gallade blinked forwards, only to have his blades stayed by Solrock's psychic barrier. Tyranitar roared a challenge at Metagross and a slugfest erupted between the two pseudo-legends. Arthur's Lunatone fired an arrow of moonlight at Tyranitar, which was reflected away by Cryogonal's crystalline body. The crowd was on their feet now. The boy in the box turned to his Pokemon. "Do you have to buzz so much, Merrick? I can't hear the announcer!" The Yanma settled its wings to perch on the railing as the stadium shook from an impact. Tyranitar had picked Metagross up and slammed its metal body into the stadium floor. Seconds later, Lunatone lifted the dinosaur into the air and sent it spiraling headfirst into the boards, shaking the stands. The green dragon shook off the impact and sprinted across the pitch to punch at Metagross, who recovered and pinned Tyranitar's arm with two of its legs and began firing beams of psionic force. The spectators were so entranced by the clash of legends that they failed to notice a tall man in a feathered coat stroll onto the pitch.

The man stopped at center field, directly under where Solrock and Cryogonal were exchanging Power Gems and Ice Beams. Both Trainers noticed him and ceased all combat with a few gestures. Morrow stalked to the center to see what had interrupted the Championship Match, Arthur following suit. Suddenly, Morrow froze. He, like the rest of the crowd, recognized this man. It was the disgraced former Flying gym leader, Sterling Price, who had been barred from major league competition six years ago for trying to fix a playoff match by sneaking his Jumpluff's Leech Seeds into the pregame meal of his opponent's sweeper. Why was he here? Price was holding a Master Ball in his hand, which wore a Dynamax Band. A Dynamax Band that Price wasn't supposed to have. Morrow opened his mouth, but the feathered newcomer shushed the Champion and spoke up himself.

"Well! Here I am! You," he said, waving at the crowd and then jabbing a finger at Morrow, "tried to wrest my chance at eternal fame and glory from me! And you thought you succeeded! The nerve of you!" His face twisted into the manic grin of a man who was clearly no longer sane. "Well! Here I am! And all of you, gathered to see my rise to immortality! I shall not bow to your 'regulations' and 'authority' again. Now, come! Serve me in eternity!" He cackled like a howler monkey and threw the master ball. A hulking red and black shape burst forth. Before the smoke cleared, Dynamax Energy gathered. A gigantic Yveltal rose up. The crowd devolved into pandemonium. Yveltal was death incarnate, and here it was being Dynamaxed by a lunatic who lacked the willpower to marshal it. The great dark vulture opened its bloodshot eyes and shuddered, as if resisting something. But the red energy overflowed the dark bird, and shadowy tendrils burst forth from its vast chest. And Yveltal uttered a terrible cry, a cry of pain. Price cackled.

The tendrils groped into the fleeing crowd, sucking their bodies dry of life. Spectators crumbled to ash as their spirits were drained into the tortured bird. There was no sign of anyone on the pitch but Price. A tendril snuck down to impale the cloaked man, drawing him into the miasma. His Dynamax band shattered, releasing enough energy to level a village. Yveltal absorbed it all, growing larger and more unstable. With a ghastly shriek, it wrenched the life from an entire quadrant of the stadium. Those who observed it later recalled seeing something strange on the bird's face: It was crying.

In the box, Scott Lockwood stood silently behind a pillar, watching in shell shocked horror as the dust of his parents settled. He fell to his knees and howled a raspy cry of despair. Merrick the Yanma furtively poked his master in the arm, tugging at the boy's sleeve.

Scott Lockwood, tears in his eyes, ran from the stadium, his Yanma in hot pursuit. He skidded into a maintenance hall that led to the outside and dropped through a crawlway into one of the many tunnels adjacent the pitch. There, he found something that shook him to his core.

Arthur Lockwood, his coat dusted with death ash, stood cradling a skeleton. The skeleton was caked with ash and wore a familiar jersey. The Champion's jersey. Morrow's jersey. Scott ran to his brother.

"Scott! No. Get out of here. Run as far as you can."

"But-"

"I must stay here. There are innocent people trapped in this building."

"I'll help you save them! We can do it, Arty! Remember when we fought that rabid Linoone that was attacking our town?"

"Scott, this is different. This is not your fight. You need to leave me. Go with Father."

"Father is dead. I'm staying here."

"Scott. I won't ask again. Run." He shoved the irrational boy towards the main hall as his head whipped over his shoulder. "RUN! SCOTT, GO!" A tendril of Yveltal's miasma snaked through the hall towards the brothers. Arthur grabbed his brother by the neck and ran down the hall. They came to a collapsed section. The only way forwards was to climb a crumbling wall, and there wasn't time. Arthur grimaced and took up a Heal Ball as the miasma filled the corridor.

No sooner did Scott Lockwood hit the floor than he was lifted up. The blue eyes of Artemis, his brother's Lunatone, stared him down. The Meteorite Pokemon had telekinetically lifted them both up over the obstacle. Scott looked back down and saw his brother standing there, smiling sadly. His Solrock was using its psychic power to hold the all-consuming aura back, but its stony body was rapidly disintegrating under the stress. Arthur looked up, tears in his eyes.

"Goodbye, little brother. I know you'll do great things, greater even than me. I've always known. But the time to fight is not now. You must go. Maybe someday you will be the one to set things right, but right now, all you can do is keep living. That's my final lesson to you, little brother. I love you." The psychic barrier evaporated and the miasma surged forwards, enveloping Arthur Lockwood. Only the silhouette of his coat was left hanging there against the flash.

"NOOOOOOOOO!!!" Scott tried to hurl himself into the mist, but Artemis the Lunatone yanked him back. He took off down the passage, the miasma hot on his heels. Suddenly he tripped over a fallen girder, twisting his ankle. Merrick and Artemis looked back and saw their fallen master outlined against the deathly glow. A web of miasma latched onto Scott's left arm and curled up across his face and head. A scream of psychic force cut the air as Artemis's moonbeams cut the tendrils and yanked the barely conscious boy up and away. The two Pokemon and their trainer stumbled over the rubble on their way out of the ruined stadium, just ahead of Death's grasp. They were alive, but everything they'd ever known had died in the cairn of Wyndon Stadium.
 

Rueful Raven

Youngster
Pronouns
she/her
Chapter II
The weeks after Yveltal's release had been turbulent. Most of the Rondelands, including the entire city of Wyndon, had been evacuated. The Wild Area outside Hammerlocke was presently a shantytown of hastily constructed shacks where the survivors awaited a more permanent housing solution.

After destroying the stadium, Yveltal had spiraled further out of control, its miasma spreading across all of Wyndon and eventually most of northern Galar. In a last ditch effort, the International Pokemon League had called in one of its best, Dawn of Sinnoh, to harness Dialga and Palkia as a containment measure. A gigantic section of Galar centered on the Wyndon Stadium had been pulled out of normal time and space to isolate it until a method to defeat Yveltal could be found. But even with the dark vulture sealed, its influence pervaded and contaminated the land. The psychic resonance created by the miasma and mass casualties was enough to drive even the least extrasensory human to the brink of insanity, and rumors abounded that the people and Pokemon killed by Yveltal were rising again, trapped in a dream state and reduced to shambling undead.

In the survivors' camp, tensions ran high. Wyndon's elite were enraged that they hadn't been found new penthouses yet, and so contented themselves with hoarding the freshest food and most watertight shacks. Conflict over the remaining resources broke out swiftly thereafter, and Hammerlocke evidently had no interest in maintaining order. The lucky ones had managed to get out and catch a boat to Sinnoh or Kalos or someplace. Then, a survivor who'd wound up in Unova had died from long-term effects of miasma exposure. Nobody knew whether or not the miasma was contagious, and within a few hours all other regions had cut off all physical travel and communication with Galar.

Scott Lockwood sat by himself under an awning, safe from the rain and the evening glare. He had survived his brush with the miasma, but not unscathed: A few locks of his hair had turned white where the deathly mist had touched, and his left arm was twisted and in a state resembling decomposition. He surveyed his meager possessions:

  • One awning (until someone bigger came along)​
  • Two Poke Balls, containing Merrick and Artemis​
  • A golden scale shed by his mother's Milotic and given to him for luck on his birthday.​
  • A slice of stale bread that was mostly crust.​
Scott considered that he was rather better off than many others here. He hadn't lost any limbs, and he had food and shelter at the moment. Presently another survivor marched up, a round man wearing a puffy red vest. He spun round and settled his bulk under the awning before clapping Scott on the back. "Hey hey, Locky! Guess who swiped some fresh vegetables!"

"Seriously, Rooster? I can't believe you beat the rush." Mortimer 'Rooster' Ferguson was the closest thing the young Scott had to a friend here. They looked out for each other, and that was the most you could ask for. "What did you get?"

"Oi, I didn't beat the rush. This guy did." Rooster patted a proud-looking Zangoose. "Fastest cat in this dump, I tell ya. As for the haul," he said, reaching behind him, "get a load of this!" He produced two stalks of somewhat dusty celery. Shaking the sand out, he cracked one in half and offered it to Scott.

"Thanks, mate." Scott bit into the celery stalk. It was the wettest thing he'd eaten all week. He offered some to his Yanma.

"No problem, Locky. Your pal Rooster's got us covered." A cloud seemed to come over Rooster's face. "Say, Locky. You heard what them up in the dry shacks are saying?"

"You know I don't go up that way, Rooster. I'd get thrashed like Zag did to that Seviper who tried to bite you." He indicated the Zangoose, which puffed up its bushy tail proudly. "But what are they saying up there?"

"Well, I'm not sure on the details myself." Rooster scratched his large, bald head with one pale, meaty arm. "I heard it from a guy who heard it from a guy who heard it from a Slowking. But it's bad, Locky. Baaaaaad."

"Out with it." Scott crunched on the celery stalk, tossing a leaf to his friend's Zangoose. The catlike Pokemon caught the leaf in its teeth and began frisking about.

"Okay. Here we go. So you hear the screaming every night, righty-o?"

"How could I not? I'm not deaf, Rooster." Everyone heard the screaming. The resonance of Yveltal's night of terror had left a psychic scar on the whole northern half of Galar. At night, psychic Pokemon and people were tortured with terrible visions of doom and destruction. Lunatone were nonverbal as a rule, but Scott was aware that Artemis was suffering on the blighted land. He had hoped to get them out of Galar, but the borders had cut off before he could rustle up the funds. The screams were the rawest suffering Scott had ever heard. Only the earplugs he'd fashioned from an old sponge allowed him to sleep comfortably in the streets. "Why do they care about it now?"

"See, them up there has about had it with the screaming. It's freaky. Heck, even I'm freaked, and I used to watch Real Hauntings of Sinnoh on late night TV. But anyway, they're about done dealing with this. Can't rest their precious heads, I reckons. Reminds me of the one episode with the Mismagius that only came out when the full moon hit a glass just so- Anyways, they're gonna do something."

"What?" Scott cast a worried glance at Artemis.

Rooster dropped his voice to a whisper. "They're gonna get rid of all the psychics, Locky. All of 'em." Scott's eyes widened in horror. "They're gonna dig these big huge pits, see, out in the desert. And they're gonna have their brutes round up everyone's psychic Pokemon, put 'em in their balls, and bury the balls. No more screaming. As for the sensitive humans, they're gonna drive those blokes out into the desert and hope a Sandaconda eats 'em."

"They- they can't do that! Hammerlocke will stop them!"

Rooster laughed. "Hammerlocke don't care about us, Locky. If they did, we'd have food and permanent housing. They're all fussing over the legendary Pokemon, Yveltal. And even if they did come in, they'd be outnumbered by the mob. It's gonna get real in here, boy, I tell ya."

"But... Artemis is a psychic Pokemon. They can't take her! I won't let them!"

"Look. To them, a psychic is a psychic. They don't care nothing that Lunatone don't make noise. They'll come through and bury the old gal." He noticed Scott's horrified expression. "But I ain't about to let that happen. We're getting you outta here."

"How? Galar is cut off from the world, and we can't even leave this camp because everyone else is afraid the Miasma is infectious."

"Nobody said it would be easy, Locky. But I've got a plan. I been watching, see, watching and waiting, and I think I got it all figured out." He rolled his girth onto a coarse canvas mat and wrapped a trunklike arm around his Zangoose. "Stand guard while I sleep, would you? I'll fill you in later."

Scott Lockwood climbed atop an awning-pole. He surveyed the shantytown, but now instead of broken lives and people he saw a looming threat to the only family he had left. "Your plan better be good, Rooster," he whispered into the evening sun.
 

kintsugi

golden scars
Location
waiting for the fog to roll out
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. silvally-grass
  2. lapras
  3. golurk
  4. custom/booper-kintsugi
Hi! Welcome to the forum! I love a good post-ish apocalypse fic with an artsy title, and I saw you were new here, so I wanted to check things out.

I like how you describe things--the narration in general is nicely paced and well-detailed, the dialogue scenes with Rooster/Scott seem pretty natural, and I think you do a good job of capturing the chaos and horror that comes during and after Yveltal's release. Conceptually you raise a lot of questions in the first chapter that make for an interesting story: what's a region supposed to do after someone summons a death god and loses control of it? The field gets immediately altered as soon as Yveltal comes into play, imo in a way that Pokemon fanfic is really good at, since it's one of the few settings where someone ostensibly could chain a god to their will and show up in the first chapter.

Will we get to see the roots of Sterling's madness? Is he just salty that someone took his toys away and so he decided an entire country needed to face the consequences of his temper tantrum? It's deeply unclear at the moment, although I don't quite mind--this is framed from Scott's perspective, and I can see why he, as a survivor, would be a lot more concerned with what came after the disaster rather than what came before it. And the aftermath is definitely pretty horrifying; you're quick to paint a bleak picture here where those who have power continue to screw over those who do not. I'm particularly saddened by their plan to just yeet all the psychic-types into a hole because the psychics are too shaken by an entire city being destroyed that they won't calm down for a bit. It creates a very transactional "as long as you're useful to me, and no longer" picture for how humans view pokemon in this world that, coupled with the whole Yveltal eradication thing, makes for a very pessimistic world. It's almost outlandish, but at the same time I don't really think it is--we humans love burying problems and hoping that's the same as fixing them.

And then enter our protagonists! Rooster's my favorite actually; I love how his metric for "I know scary because I watched scary things on TV (and survived a massive town-wide leveling i guess but definitely the scary movie specials)" really just encapsulates so much about his character. He feels very childlike in the face of this disaster. Scott, comparatively, is quiet and withdrawn; I feel like (understandably) he's pretty numb from watching everything turn to dust in the first chapter and he's mostly just running on autopilot at this point. The plot hook with Artemis is pretty compelling as well--like Scott, Artemis lost a lot in the stadium collapse, and I can't help but think that she's kind of half of a set with Solrock, kind of a symbol of the incompleteness that Scott feels in the wake of his brother's absence--how far will he be willing to go in this newfound hellscape to keep her safe?

I'm not sure if the prologue was doing much for me. I liked the parallelism of the openings, and the "on the other side, a challenger" mirrors feel suitably dramatic, but at the same time I find that openings during "important" matches don't really have the emotional gravitas. Trainer matches are hard to care about because their stakes center around really wanting one guy to win over the other, but if we don't know either guy because it's the first few paragraphs of a story, it's hard to connect with them and/or care about who actually wins here. I think it also undercuts some of the tension of the future chapters as well--for me, a really interesting plot hook is simply will Galar change after everything that they've seen here [with Yveltal]? And then, a more character-driven thing would be Will Scott succeed? But those answers are given to us in the prologue already: in a few years, Galar will return to having packed stadiums full of championship matches and people don't seem upset by that; Scott will make it to said championship match. I actually really love messing with chronology so I have a lot of Thoughts on when a story should/shouldn't do timejumps, but in general I think info that's revealed out of order + early needs to be able to be recontextualized once the story catches up with the timeline, if that makes sense--now that we've seen the match set, once we journey with Scott back to this point, the decisions and actions he takes in this battle need to hit differently than they would've in our first impression, so we can actually grasp how he's changed, what he's learned. Otherwise, it just feels like the story is undercutting its own tension a bit.

That aside, the prologue has a lot of description that I don't know if we need, either--Scott's got a funky glove with a scale, and a cool streak in his hair--but these are descriptive details that don't particularly matter without context behind them, imo (and we do get the context for these tokens almost immediately! but they don’t feel very important when we first see them). Visual descriptions of what protagonists are wearing tend to be a bit infodumpy if they come early--the color of a person's jacket or hair usually isn't the most important thing about them, so when that's the first thing we see it's always difficult to try to ground that.

Some minor grammar notes--in general I thought the prose was pretty clean:
Suddenly, imperceptibly fast, left leg relaxed and snapped out.
Dropped a word here.

"Merrick! Do you see him?" A Yanma buzzing at the boy's shoulder flicked its tail in response. The four fielded Pokemon moved into 3-on-3 formation as Morrow threw a third ball and released his ace, a glimmering Cryogonal.
In general with paragraphs you'll want a new paragraph whenever there's a change in who's speaking/acting. This keeps the flow a bit easier to follow. So this section would look more like:
"Merrick! Do you see him?"

A Yanma buzzing at the boy's shoulder flicked its tail in response.

The four fielded Pokemon moved into 3-on-3 formation as Morrow threw a third ball and released his ace, a glimmering Cryogonal.

Tyranitar had picked Metagross up and slammed its metal body into the stadium floor. Seconds later, Lunatone lifted the dinosaur into the air and sent it spiraling headfirst into the boards, shaking the stands.
I appreciate that the battles are truncated here--as I mentioned higher up, I think it'd be harder to follow if they were really-really getting into the technical details of this fight--but I did struggle to follow some of the specific action beats. Is Lunatone physically lifting up Tyranitar? Can Tyranitar even be affected by a psychic hold? Those things are usually a little harder to follow when the rules of the universe are still being established.

Those who observed it later recalled seeing something strange on the bird's face: It was crying.
I thought this was a neat detail!
(Although, in light of how many people observed it and then immediately died (and then couldn't recall seeing the tears), I'd maybe rephrase to something like "Survivors later recalled seeing something strange ...")

I'd get thrashed like Zag did to that Seviper who tried to bite you.
I'm a bit torn here--it's dialogue and people don't always speak clearly, but I did have trouble following "I'd get thrashed like Zag" and then realizing Zag was the thrasher, not the thrashee. I'd maybe rephrase to "I'd get thrashed like that Seviper did after Zag caught it trying to bite you" or something.

Overall, I think this is a really interesting start. Thanks for sharing, and welcome to the forums!

[Sidebar, if you're interested in edgy trenchcoat boys with white hair trying to cut it in an apocalypse, you might like HelloYellow's Of Sand and Shadows, featuring Wes, an edgy trenchcoat boy with white hair trying to cut it in an apocalypse. And if you like legendaries showing up and burning down towns in the first chapter while a bunch of kids try to deal with the aftermath, you might like Chibi Pika's The Legendarian Chronicles, featuring ... legendaries showing up and burning down towns in the first chapter while a bunch of kids try to deal with the aftermath.]
 
Last edited:

Rueful Raven

Youngster
Pronouns
she/her
Hi! Welcome to the forum! I love a good post-ish apocalypse fic with an artsy title, and I saw you were new here, so I wanted to check things out.

I like how you describe things--the narration in general is nicely paced and well-detailed, the dialogue scenes with Rooster/Scott seem pretty natural, and I think you do a good job of capturing the chaos and horror that comes during and after Yveltal's release. Conceptually you raise a lot of questions in the first chapter that make for an interesting story: what's a region supposed to do after someone summons a death god and loses control of it? The field gets immediately altered as soon as Yveltal comes into play, imo in a way that Pokemon fanfic is really good at, since it's one of the few settings where someone ostensibly could chain a god to their will and show up in the first chapter.

Will we get to see the roots of Sterling's madness? Is he just salty that someone took his toys away and so he decided an entire country needed to face the consequences of his temper tantrum? It's deeply unclear at the moment, although I don't quite mind--this is framed from Scott's perspective, and I can see why he, as a survivor, would be a lot more concerned with what came after the disaster rather than what came before it. And the aftermath is definitely pretty horrifying; you're quick to paint a bleak picture here where those who have power continue to screw over those who do not. I'm particularly saddened by their plan to just yeet all the psychic-types into a hole because the psychics are too shaken by an entire city being destroyed that they won't calm down for a bit. It creates a very transactional "as long as you're useful to me, and no longer" picture for how humans view pokemon in this world that, coupled with the whole Yveltal eradication thing, makes for a very pessimistic world. It's almost outlandish, but at the same time I don't really think it is--we humans love burying problems and hoping that's the same as fixing them.

And then enter our protagonists! Rooster's my favorite actually; I love how his metric for "I know scary because I watched scary things on TV (and survived a massive town-wide leveling i guess but definitely the scary movie specials)" really just encapsulates so much about his character. He feels very childlike in the face of this disaster. Scott, comparatively, is quiet and withdrawn; I feel like (understandably) he's pretty numb from watching everything turn to dust in the first chapter and he's mostly just running on autopilot at this point. The plot hook with Artemis is pretty compelling as well--like Scott, Artemis lost a lot in the stadium collapse, and I can't help but think that she's kind of half of a set with Solrock, kind of a symbol of the incompleteness that Scott feels in the wake of his brother's absence--how far will he be willing to go in this newfound hellscape to keep her safe?

I'm not sure if the prologue was doing much for me. I liked the parallelism of the openings, and the "on the other side, a challenger" mirrors feel suitably dramatic, but at the same time I find that openings during "important" matches don't really have the emotional gravitas. Trainer matches are hard to care about because their stakes center around really wanting one guy to win over the other, but if we don't know either guy because it's the first few paragraphs of a story, it's hard to connect with them and/or care about who actually wins here. I think it also undercuts some of the tension of the future chapters as well--for me, a really interesting plot hook is simply will Galar change after everything that they've seen here [with Yveltal]? And then, a more character-driven thing would be Will Scott succeed? But those answers are given to us in the prologue already: in a few years, Galar will return to having packed stadiums full of championship matches and people don't seem upset by that; Scott will make it to said championship match. I actually really love messing with chronology so I have a lot of Thoughts on when a story should/shouldn't do timejumps, but in general I think info that's revealed out of order + early needs to be able to be recontextualized once the story catches up with the timeline, if that makes sense--now that we've seen the match set, once we journey with Scott back to this point, the decisions and actions he takes in this battle need to hit differently than they would've in our first impression, so we can actually grasp how he's changed, what he's learned. Otherwise, it just feels like the story is undercutting its own tension a bit.

That aside, the prologue has a lot of description that I don't know if we need, either--Scott's got a funky glove with a scale, and a cool streak in his hair--but these are descriptive details that don't particularly matter without context behind them, imo (and we do get the context for these tokens almost immediately! but they don’t feel very important when we first see them). Visual descriptions of what protagonists are wearing tend to be a bit infodumpy if they come early--the color of a person's jacket or hair usually isn't the most important thing about them, so when that's the first thing we see it's always difficult to try to ground that.

Some minor grammar notes--in general I thought the prose was pretty clean:
Dropped a word here.


In general with paragraphs you'll want a new paragraph whenever there's a change in who's speaking/acting. This keeps the flow a bit easier to follow. So this section would look more like:



I appreciate that the battles are truncated here--as I mentioned higher up, I think it'd be harder to follow if they were really-really getting into the technical details of this fight--but I did struggle to follow some of the specific action beats. Is Lunatone physically lifting up Tyranitar? Can Tyranitar even be affected by a psychic hold? Those things are usually a little harder to follow when the rules of the universe are still being established.


I thought this was a neat detail!
(Although, in light of how many people observed it and then immediately died (and then couldn't recall seeing the tears), I'd maybe rephrase to something like "Survivors later recalled seeing something strange ...")


I'm a bit torn here--it's dialogue and people don't always speak clearly, but I did have trouble following "I'd get thrashed like Zag" and then realizing Zag was the thrasher, not the thrashee. I'd maybe rephrase to "I'd get thrashed like that Seviper did after Zag caught it trying to bite you" or something.

Overall, I think this is a really interesting start. Thanks for sharing, and welcome to the forums!

[Sidebar, if you're interested in edgy trenchcoat boys with white hair trying to cut it in an apocalypse, you might like HelloYellow's Of Sand and Shadows, featuring Wes, an edgy trenchcoat boy with white hair trying to cut it in an apocalypse. And if you like legendaries showing up and burning down towns in the first chapter while a bunch of kids try to deal with the aftermath, you might like Chibi Pika's The Legendarian Chronicles, featuring ... legendaries showing up and burning down towns in the first chapter while a bunch of kids try to deal with the aftermath.]
Thanks a bunch! I'm really pretty new to writing, so feedback like this is so unbelievably helpful :giggle:
 

Rueful Raven

Youngster
Pronouns
she/her
Chapter III
Scott's musings were interrupted by the violent wobbling of the pole he was perching on. Glancing down, he noticed the burly arms of Rooster Ferguson shaking the post back and forth. "Oi! Locky! Geddown here!"

"Coming, Rooster. But really, you could've just shouted." Scott slid easily down the pole, landing in front of his companion and dusting off his jacket. Next time I have to spend a few weeks in a desert, the boy mused, I will not wear all black. Turning to face Rooster, he raised a curious eyebrow. "Please tell me you have a plan and aren't just begging me to argue about projections for the Unova Championship Tournament. If I hear the word 'Hydreigon' one more time, I'm going to punch something."

"Now now, buddy ol' pal. No need for violence. I just think Marvin and his Hydreigon are going to advance to at least--" A withering glare from Lockwood shut down that train of thought. "-- Anyhoo, I know how to get outta here."

"Spill it." Scott pulled a Net Ball from his pocket and began flipping it absently.

"Okay. So I've been sayin' for a while, I want outta here. And with your Lunatone in danger, you need to get outta here. So it's good news that I've been planning a way to blow this joint for weeks. See, I spend a lot of time watchin' the guards. What they do and when and where they does it. Kinda like how Flash Gilmore on Real Hauntings of Sinnoh stakes out a- nevermind. Anyway, I'm on top of the schedule. And as for the security perimeter, I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a Pidgey. And what he says- the guy, not the Pidgey, mind you- is that the automatic door in the northern tower is a bit finicky. Got a bit of dust in it, I reckon. But my point being, we could probably jimmy the door when nobody's around. Opening it is easy as cheese, even without a card."

"And how do you plan to keep it open? It'll just shut in our faces."

"I'll hold it open. You'll go in, jump the wall, and blow this joint."

"No. I won't leave you here, Rooster. We're in this together. Besides, if they find out you helped me escape, there'll be hell to pay."

"Well, there is an alternative." Rooster rubbed his large head with one forearm. "But I ain't a fan."

"Tell me about it. If it gets us both out of here, I say go for it." Scott tucked the ball away and leapt atop a barrel, regarding the big man with a piercing gaze.

"So it's like this. There's a dust storm next week. And what dust storms do is they storm dust everywhere. And the guards, see, they like their little wall squeaky clean. No dust, no rust, no crust. That's what they think. Spending more money on industrial solvent and metal wax than rations and water... little Blipbugs need their priorities rearranged. But the thing with guards is, they think cleaning the wall is beneath them. They've got riots to quell, questions to answer, plus someone's gotta keep an eye out for Lycanroc packs. So they make residents clean the wall, in exchange for more food. Well, they say food. White-Eye McGoverman did it three days ago, and all they did was let him keep the bucket the wax came in. But once we're out of here, we won't be needing their chow or their buckets, if you're picking up what I'm putting down."

"Rooster, am I hearing this right? Your plan is to volunteer to clean the wall, go up there where most of the guards are, jump off the wall, evade the guards while we run through the desert as a storm dies down, avoid the Lycanroc and Sandaconda, who are most active after a dust storm, and make it to civilization before we die of dehydration? And then not get found out as escapees and sent back here by the first Miasma-fearing mob who sees the sand in our boots?"

"I told ya I wasn't big on this one, Locky." Rooster ceased gesticulating and caressed his Zangoose's fluff lovingly. "But it's either this or the tower. We can't wait for another opportunity to present itself, 'least not if we want to save Artemis."

They were interrupted by the arrival of a blond boy in a heat-deflecting poncho, whose headband marked him as a member of the elite. Even in a refugee camp, they had to be special somehow. Behind him marched a gigantic Beartic and two more men in ponchos. He looked about twenty, and his slight frame was a head taller than Rooster.

"Oh, don't mind me, gentlemen. I'm merely taking inventory."

"Inventory of what?" Scott was immediately suspicious, especially as this boy was no guard.

"Irritants. And as uncouth as your large friend is, he isn't what I'm looking for." The boy stalked forwards and placed a firm hand on Scott's shoulder. He grinned in a sharklike fashion. "You wouldn't happen to be harboring a psychic, would you?"

"What? No." Lockwood brushed the boy's hand away, but the blond intruder grabbed his collar. "All I have is a Yanma. Do you really think some tent Rattata like me would have a psychic?"

"Leave him alone, Crux," said one of the other men. "We have bigger fish to fry. That old coot with the nest of Natus is begging for a clobberin'.

"Verrrrrrry well," said the blond boy, dropping Scott. "Behave yourself, kid. And if I catch you with a psychic this Friday, I won't go easy on you. Some say crescent moons bring bad luck, you know." He marched off, nose held high. The Beartic beat its chest menacingly and followed suit.

Scott Lockwood turned to face Rooster. "You. Me. Dust storm." His big friend unclenched his fists and nodded gravely.
 
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