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Pokémon Curse (one-shot)

Curse

Dragonfree

Moderator
Staff
Location
Iceland
Pronouns
she/her/hers
Partners
  1. butterfree
  2. mightyena
  3. charizard
  4. scyther-mia
  5. vulpix
  6. slugma
2022-08-22-curse.png
(credit to Umbra for Kari's character design)
Author's note: This is a one-shot that I originally wrote in 2009 (well, I'd written an older draft of one scene of it before that that I only ever posted on one forum), which I've been fiddling with on and off of late. If you've read the old version, it's less significantly changed than Butterfree was - three of the flashbacks were rewritten more or less from scratch, and there are various edits throughout with the aim of improving how the story comes across, but it's still the story you remember.

Content warnings: This is a horror one-shot. It contains Pokémon battle violence but no blood or gore; however, it has psychologically unsettling and occult themes.

-------

Curse
Wind rushed through Kari’s hair as she clung to Dragonite’s neck, her stomach fluttering in exhilaration as they descended towards the plateau. This was it: the site of the Indigo League. After a long, arduous journey of narrow victories, shameful losses, and eventually earning all eight Johto gym badges through blood, sweat and tears, they were finally here — and with Dragonite by her side, nothing could stop them from being crowned champions this year.

“You tired?” she called to her partner. The Pokémon grinned and took a playful dive by way of answer, and she chuckled even as her stomach took a lurch at the unexpected movement. “Thought not. I was thinking we should find a trainer for a short practice match, just to see where we stand compared to the other people here. What do you say?”

“I’m in,” replied the dragon. He took another swoop downwards, energized at the thought of a battle. Kari smiled to herself. She’d always figured that even if she hadn’t been interested, he would’ve dragged her out to be a trainer anyway; he could never stand being idle back home.

Dragonite skillfully pulled into a low, lazy hover over the general area, and Kari peered down at the trainers, trying to pick out a suitable opponent. She ignored those that were just squabbling with one another with no Pokémon in sight; if they came all the way here only to spend their time talking instead of training, they were probably casuals, likely in the weaker half. Some were battling against each other, but if she just landed next to a battle and watched until it was over, they might assume she was sneakily trying to get a peek at their battle styles and Pokémon for the tournament. Others, though, were discussing strategies or practicing moves alone with their Pokémon. She focused on this last group for now.

“That guy,” she said at last. “Blond, ten o’clock. With the Scizor. Let’s see if he’s any good.”

Her Pokémon nodded and approached the trainer she’d indicated, landing a safe distance away; they’d learned it tended to startle people when a large Pokémon descended right into their space. The boy’s Scizor was expertly smashing a rock into pieces with its metallic claws, paying them no notice as its trainer gave it some inaudible directions.

Kari slid off Dragonite’s back. The trainer turned to her as the two of them walked towards him.

“Hey,” she called, raising a hand in greeting. “I just got here and I want an idea of where we stand. Quick one-on-one? Your strongest against my strongest?” She pointed a thumb over her shoulder to indicate Dragonite while she quickly sized her opponent up. He was on the short side, skinny and pale and sickly-looking, but his eyes sparkled with the same confidence she’d seen in his posture that’d made her pick him. His Scizor looked up at her as the boy cocked his head slightly, the Pokémon’s face blank.

“A Dragonite?” he asked. “Impressive. Where’d you get it?”

Kari grinned. “My grandpa’s one of the elders of the Dragon’s Den in Blackthorn City. We basically grew up together since he was freshly hatched and I was a toddler. What have you got to match him? Scizor?”

The boy fingered one of the Pokéballs at his belt slowly as he glanced at the bug Pokémon. “Oh, no,” he replied. “Scizor’s not my strongest. That’s why it needed the training.” He turned his gaze back towards her and smiled. The Scizor didn’t react, standing still where it was. “Okay, you’re on. One on one.”

Dragonite stepped in front of Kari, giving her a quick nod and a grin before he turned to face his opponent. The other trainer detached the ball he’d been fiddling with from his belt, turned it over in his palm a few times, and then called, “Snorlax, go!”

Kari raised her eyebrows as the Pokéball he threw released a huge blob of white light. She’d assumed the kid was pretty good, sure, but not a lot of people had Snorlax, plus that it just didn’t seem to fit such a small, skinny trainer. But although it was unexpected, it didn’t pose a problem for Dragonite; he stood tall and unwavering as the light took the shape of the Snorlax’s enormous, round belly and two stubby feet, and Kari didn’t doubt that he could win.

“Okay, Dragonite, let’s start off this battle with a Safeguard,” she said, studying the other trainer’s face as she gave the order. He still seemed calm, confident, self-assured. She wondered idly how long that would last.

“Snorlax, Curse!”

Dragonite took off from the ground and formed a protective sphere around himself as he watched the other Pokémon closely. Kari couldn’t see the Snorlax’s head, but she could hear its heavy, deep voice mumbling as if in its sleep. Curse – wasn’t that the move Morty’s Ghost Pokémon had used? She cringed at the memory; Dratini had been brought down by that move both times she’d challenged Morty, his strength drained out in the space of minutes.

She could see in his eyes that he was anticipating the same now, but he wasn’t shuddering and shivering like he had then – in fact, a quick glance and a nod confirmed he didn’t feel any adverse effects at all. The Safeguard must have blocked it, then…?

“Dragonite, Outrage,” she said warily, watching the boy. What gave her pause was that he didn’t look like someone whose move had just failed. Poker face? Or was she missing something?

“Curse again,” the trainer ordered, and Kari looked sharply up at Dragonite in alarm as his body began to flare with blue flames. She was definitely missing something. No way was this guy stupid enough to just retry a move that’d been blocked by a still-active Safeguard.

“Wait, Dragonite,” she began, but at this point he couldn’t hear or understand her, his face already contorted with artificial rage. He took a swooping dive toward the Snorlax and smashed his body into its gigantic belly, which gave way like a trampoline and sent him bouncing back into the air. The Snorlax continued to mumble as if it hadn’t noticed the attack at all.

Dragonite was still showing no signs of being harmed by the Curse attack, however, and as soon as he regained control of his flight, he swooped down again in a more precisely aimed attack at the Snorlax’s head. This time there was a reaction, a dull grunt just as the dragon struck, but no more, and as Dragonite pulled back up, the trainer gave yet another order:

“One more Curse!”

It still wasn’t affecting Dragonite at all from the looks of it; then it had to be affecting Snorlax itself, one way or another, if the boy kept using it. And given it was shrugging off powerful attacks so easily, it must be boosting its defensive abilities somehow. She was lost as to how the same move could be doing this now and something completely different when Morty had used it, but nothing else made any sense. And that meant that the best they could do was try to use moves that bypassed it.

“Dragonite,” she called as her Pokémon smashed himself into Snorlax and the dragon flames began to fade from his body, “use a Dragon Rage!”

It took him a moment to reorient himself after the Outrage, but the Safeguard successfully warded off the worst of it. As Snorlax began to mumble for the third time, Dragonite took a deep breath and expelled it in a blast of blue-green fire that enveloped the Normal-type’s body for a few tense seconds. Kari heard the Snorlax groan in the middle of it and grinned triumphantly as she looked back at the boy, daring him to come up with a counterstrategy.

“Snorlax, Body Slam.”

Nothing at all happened for a few seconds; Kari seized the opportunity to shout, “Another Dragon Rage!”

As Dragonite prepared to repeat his previous attack, Snorlax’s arms reached slowly forward on either side of its body. With a heave of effort, it managed to prop itself into a sitting position, allowing Kari to finally see its expressionless face just before it was hit with a second round of dragon fire. It grunted again, but in an aloof way, as if only barely aware of being hit. Then it leaned forward, somehow got its legs under itself, and stood up, wobbling unsteadily.

An idea popped into her head, and she couldn’t resist the opportunity to try. “Dragonite, knock it down with Extremespeed!” she called quickly, and her Pokémon became a tan-colored blur as he zoomed straight into Snorlax’s body –

He let out a surprised whine of pain as he crashed against its belly. Instead of giving way like it had earlier, the Snorlax’s body was practically a concrete wall, not budging an inch. As Dragonite slid down into a heap at its feet, the Snorlax slowly leaned forward and then fell, crushing him under its massive weight.

Underneath it, Dragonite let out a pained squeak and then went quiet, unmoving.

Kari stared in horror, so flabbergasted that it took her a second to take out the Pokéball and recall him back to safety. That thing couldn’t have just taken out Dragonite in one measly blow. She looked limply up at the other trainer, who was smirking as he recalled his own Pokémon.

“Good battle,” he said, and she couldn’t shake the thought that he was subtly mocking her.

“That move. Curse.” Kari looked away, blinking rapidly to preempt the tears that were dangerously close to forming in her eyes. “How does it work?”

“It sacrifices speed to improve both attack and defense,” the boy answered. “It’s pretty cool. I’ve got a spare TM, if you’d like.”

Kari looked back at him. He was smiling, and though her sore loser instinct still wanted to think he was a cheap idiot, he was going out of his way to help.

“I think your Dragonite could use it well,” he went on. “It knows Extremespeed, correct? So if it needs to strike quickly, it still can. And Dragonite are good with physical attacks.”

Kari nodded slowly. Though she liked fast Pokémon and would normally not be keen on sacrificing speed, he was right; Dragonite could still strike first, using the unique move the elders had taught him. Best of all, nobody would expect it, since most Dragonite didn’t know Extremespeed. It would be just the thing to bring her team up to par, really, after the admitted shock of discovering that the trainers here were stronger than she’d thought.

“Are you sure?” she asked, not wanting to seem desperate or greedy. “I mean, I wouldn’t want to take a TM you were going to use.”

“No, really, you can have it,” the boy said and walked quickly over to a green backpack that lay propped against a nearby rock. He rummaged through it for a few seconds before drawing out a CD case and hurrying over to her, presenting it with a smile.

She took it; both the case and the CD were blank, which was odd for a TM, but then again she had never heard of this TM before, so perhaps it was some sort of a new, beta thing. “Thanks,” she said. “Thanks a lot.”

“Glad to help,” replied the boy before turning around to walk back to his Scizor, who was still waiting quietly by the rocks.

“Hey, wait,” Kari called, and he stopped, turning back around. She had meant to ask where he got the TM, but she changed her mind before the words reached her mouth. “I remember Morty used that move, but then it worked completely differently. What’s up with that?”

“Oh, it’s different for Ghost-types,” the boy said.

Kari looked blankly at him. “Why?”

The trainer shrugged as he turned back to his bug Pokémon. “Dunno.”

-------

Kari turned over in her Pokémon Center bed for the umpteenth time; memories of today’s catastrophic failure of a battle against Morty flitted through her mind, keeping her awake. Dratini was curled up on the floor with his eyes closed, but he’d been looking up to check on her every now and then for the past while.

“So do you think Ghost Pokémon are the only ones that can use Curse, or what?” she asked finally, pushing her comforter down. “I mean, is he the only gym leader who’s going to pull this on us?”

“Probably,” muttered Dratini, without opening his eyes. “Laying curses on the opponent? That’s a very Ghost thing to do. Haven’t seen any other Pokémon do anything like that.”

“I guess.” Kari paused. It was stupid. They’d dealt with all kinds of moves before; they’d deal with this one. It just wouldn’t get out of her head, the way Dratini’d writhed and twisted helplessly on the floor until he went down. Nothing she could do about it but watch and desperately try to come up with moves while he suffered — or else forfeit a Pokémon by switching him out, which he would never have forgiven her for.

“What
I’m wondering,” Dratini mused after a moment, looking up at her with his head tilted sideways, “is you said Morty made it sound like the sacrificing health bit was just to gather power for the curse. So could you do other things with that power instead?”

Kari froze. Other things? Morty might pull more surprises out of his sleeve? “Maybe? There are other moves that sacrifice health for a benefit, like Belly Drum. But I think this was something different. Usually those kinds of moves just don’t work if they’d make the user faint.” The Gastly’s unholy scream as its gas expanded and contracted jaggedly like a creature in agony and then dispersed like a puff of smoke still echoed in her ears.

“Hmmm.” Dratini laid his head back down. “Yeah, that’s true. I guess we’ll see what happens on the rematch.”

Kari pulled the comforter back up with a sigh. “You really think he could pull something else with that move tomorrow?”

“Well, if it’s called Curse, probably it always does the curse thing. I was just wondering.”

She turned over, restlessly trying to get comfortable on the too-firm mattress.

Dratini peeked over the edge of the bed. “Hey, Kari? It’ll be fine. You’re just paranoid because we lost a battle. It’s not the end of the world. We’ll figure it out and get that badge.”

Kari took a deep breath, scratching his ear-fin. “Yeah. I’m sorry. I just need some sleep.”

He smiled. “Good night, Kari.”

“Night, Dratini.”

-------


It didn’t go quite as she’d hoped.

“I’m so sorry,” Kari said for the hundredth time, stroking Dragonite’s muzzle as the nurse left them alone in the recovery room. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” he replied heavily after a second’s pause. “Just tired and dizzy. Some rest and I’ll be fine.”

“It’s that move, I know it,” she went on. “Several times in the same fight? I should never have gone for that. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s not your fault.”

“It is my fault, because you told me it made you feel numb and tired and I should’ve just listened to you. I’m listening now, okay? We’re never using that move again.”

Dragonite smiled. “Thanks,” he muttered.

Kari sighed, stroking his head. “I’m so sorry. You don’t need some creepy power-up move anyway. We’re going to train and we’ll win this thing without it. And I’ll find that kid who gave me the TM. We should let him know it’s not worth it.”

“Where’s he been, anyway?” Dragonite said, his voice strained. “I don’t… remember seeing him since we battled.”

“Me either, but he’s got to be around here somewhere. He was better than most anyone else we’ve fought here, right? No way did he just give up.”

Dragonite chuckled. “He really… really was, wasn’t he? Can’t… believe some of these kids, huh?”

So bad. That Crobat kid?” She shook her head, smirking.

Dragonite cracked a smile in return, starting to open his mouth again before he gave up with a groan and went slack.

“Don’t worry, you don’t have to keep talking. I can see you’re struggling. Just get some rest.” Kari stood up and wrapped her arms around his giant head, closing her eyes. The steady rhythm of warm air from his nostrils calmed her racing heart, as it always did.

She took a deep breath. “I love you, Dragonite,” she said quietly. “I wouldn’t want to win with a move that makes you sick.”

The Pokémon nuzzled at her, closing his eyes. “I know,” he whispered. “It’s no one’s fault. We just… didn’t know how bad it could get. That’s all.”

-------

It was maybe twenty minutes from her loss against Morty until Kari finally marched into her room with Dratini’s ball in her shaking fingers and shut the door. The nurse had said it was all fine, just standard faints, and of course it was, but she felt sick anyway.

She sent him out on the floor, and he came out peacefully curled up. Freshly healed. Nothing wrong.

Dratini blinked awake, looking up at her as she paced from one end of the room to the other. “I take it we didn’t win,” he said, a little groggy.

“It was that Curse move they used. Took down Magmar too. What did that
do, anyway? Some creepy whispering, and you were clearly in pain, but…”

Dratini winced. “I guess you couldn’t see them? Wispy grinning specters, whirling around me and tearing away at me until I went down. Not fun.”

“But you’re okay now, right?”

He gave a weary smile. “I’m fine, Kari. No trainer or Pokémon who knows what they’re doing is going to hit you with anything you can’t fix with a trip to the Pokémon Center.”

Kari exhaled slowly. “Yeah,” she said after a moment. “Yeah, I know.” She put a hand on her forehead and found it drenched with sweat. She sat down on the brink of the bed, fists clenched. “We’re going to have to plan for the rematch. How are we going to get around it? If we can’t get him on the second try I’m going to lose it.”

Dratini looked at her for a beat of silence. “How about some lunch first?” he suggested, nudging her leg gently with his nose. “We can strategize better on a full stomach. And it sounds like you could really use something else to think about for a little while.”

She took a deep breath and smiled in spite of herself, the tension in her shoulders loosening a little. “Yeah. Food does sound good. But then strategy.”

-------


Kari never did find the boy who’d given her the TM. She still hadn’t seen him around since that day, and nobody she asked knew his name or where he’d gone. She figured – or hoped – that he’d realized the unsettling aftereffects of the move and left to care for his Snorlax.

Meanwhile, Dragonite got better. It took several days before he felt properly motivated again, but slowly, over the course of a week, his cheerful, energetic self mostly returned. She knew him well enough to sense some lingering subtle fatigue in his eyes, like he wasn’t running on quite enough sleep, but Dragonite maintained he felt fine now. She was wary at first when they started training again, but one way or another he was right; he was every bit as strong as ever.

“What was up with that move, anyway?” said Kari during one training session. “Curse? Back when we battled Morty I figured the name was about laying a curse on the opponent, but that’s not what it did for you at all. Were you like… muttering curse words or something?”

Dragonite paused, brow furrowing. “I don’t really know,” he said. “It’s just part of the move. It’s like flying – once you’ve learned it, you just do it, and you don’t really pay conscious attention to exactly how you’re doing it anymore. Only with the TM, you get to skip the learning it part and go straight to having the muscle memory.”

“Huh. Are all TMs like that?”

“More or less.” Dragonite took a deep breath and hit a nearby rock with a Fire Blast. “I guess I could use it and try to pay attention to the words this time.”

“No way. We’re never using that move again, remember?”

Dragonite tilted his head in thought as he drew back his paw and smashed the scorched rock to pieces with a well-aimed punch. “Well, in an emergency…”

“What are you talking about? Emergency or no, I won’t make you use a move that does that to you. If that means we drop out of the tournament, so be it.”

“You’re forgetting one thing,” Dragonite said, turning to look at her. “I want to win, too. It wasn’t fun but it’s not that bad. I mean, I’d lie in the Pokémon Center staring into space for twice that long if it meant we’d be champions. Of course I’d rather not if we could do without it, but if it would save us? I’d want to go for it. And the rules say I can’t unless you order it.”

“I guess,” Kari said, reluctant. She straightened herself and took a deep breath. “It probably won’t come to that. We’ve been doing great so far; I think the Snorlax kid must have been head and shoulders above everybody else here or just about. I doubt we’ll need it.”

Dragonite shrugged, and the conversation moved on to Kari’s preliminary battles and that one kid stupid enough to think his Venusaur could take Magmar.

-------

“Good match,” said Morty as he recalled his Gengar, its cackling laugh echoing eerily around the room for a second after it disappeared.

Kari nodded numbly, speechless, still clutching Magmar’s Pokéball in her hand.

“Of all the ways Ghost Pokémon can cripple the opponent, the move we call Curse is one of the most versatile and difficult to counter, even though gathering the power for it comes at a price,” Morty said. “You’re not the first trainer to fail to anticipate it.”

The only word of his speech that really stuck for Kari at the moment was “fail”. She had never lost to a gym leader before. They were predictable type specialists, all glaring common weaknesses that were easily exploited, with some high-leveled Pokémon but not high-leveled enough to make up for it – right? Wasn’t that what she’d always said, when she’d airily dismissed everyone who warned her that earning gym badges would be tougher than she thought? And now she’d just lost pathetically to the fourth one she’d challenged.

She looked away, gave Morty some halfhearted goodbye-and-I’ll-be-back, and sped out towards the Pokémon Center, her face flushed. Next time, she would win.

-------


And this was it. Finally, she was here in the main stadium, in front of thousands of spectators, staring her opponent down across the battlefield as the status screens crossed out his Alakazam. Dragonite stood his ground on Kari’s end, battered after that Psychic that had thrown him into the wall, but satisfied and alert, ready to take on the last obstacle standing in the way between them and the championship.

That obstacle was a Tyranitar.

One misstep could crush them now – Tyranitar had the type advantage, and Dragonite was hurt to boot. But Kari knew she could trust him to do his very best, no matter what happened; they would win this together, just like all the previous battles, just like the semifinal match where Dragonite had taken out a Piloswine on his own.

It was just another battle, and they would win.

“Tyranitar, Rock Slide!”

Kari’s mind raced with possibilities, her heart hammering in her chest. “Thunder Wave, Dragonite!”

The Tyranitar let out a deep, rumbling roar as Dragonite took flight and zoomed towards it. Huge chunks of rock tore out of the ground around Tyranitar as the dragon approached, electricity crackling around his body. Dragonite launched the Thunder Wave as soon as he was in range, bright jagged sparks of lightning flying towards his opponent. He zipped to the side to avoid the Rock Slide, but a large boulder grazed him and knocked him off-balance, and a dozen more followed, pelting him and sending him hurtling to the ground.

Kari bit her lip as Dragonite rose from the rubble. Tyranitar was gritting its teeth on the other side, moving sluggishly through the paralysis - that was good, evened things out a little. But Dragonite had still taken another beating, and while he was resilient, there were limits. She could trust him, but he had to be able to trust her to play their cards right, too. The paralysis meant Tyranitar wasn’t very maneuverable; maybe…

“Dragonite, Dynamicpunch!”

“Screech!”

Dragonite threw an urgent glance her way. Screech would cripple his defensive abilities; if the Dynamicpunch did miss he’d be left vulnerable while at close range. “No, wait, use…”

The Tyranitar’s roar of challenge turned into a piercing, high-pitched shriek; Dragonite cringed where he stood. She couldn’t hesitate long. She knew what his glance had meant. And if ever there was a time to do this, it was now.

“Use Curse.”

Dragonite closed his eyes and began to mutter inaudibly, his body relaxing where he stood. Relief? Or simply an effect of the move?

“Rock Slide!” shouted the other trainer — but as Tyranitar tried to move, it couldn’t, its paralyzed limbs refusing to listen. It gritted its teeth, straining.

Which bought them a longer window of time; probably not time to fly over and attack, but time to do just a little more. “Again!” Kari said frantically as Dragonite’s eyes opened, and he closed them again, continuing the whisper.

There was a pause as Kari’s opponent hesitated, eyes trained on Dragonite. For a moment, she wondered what he was waiting for. And then it hit her with a sudden jolt that he must feel the same way about Curse as she had when she’d battled the Snorlax kid: he was probably confused, not sure what it did.

And that meant they could use his confusion to replicate the Snorlax kid’s strategy.

“Try Rock Slide again,” came the order at last, a hint of doubt in his tone.

Kari’s heart thumped rapidly as Dragonite opened his eyes again. “One more Curse! Give it your all!”

Another barrage of rocks rocketed towards Dragonite as Tyranitar overcame its paralysis with a triumphant roar. Dragonite made no attempt to dodge as the Rock Slide crashed down on top of him, but he rose from the rubble with a dazed indifference, eyes closed again, and began his chant, a bit louder than before. And though it wouldn’t have made much difference to the audience, far off in the stands, Kari could for the first time make out the words.

Dark One, I accept your curse
for what I must acquire
Take of me to reimburse
the power I desire

Take a piece, but not the whole
A fair and proper fee
Help me first to reach my goal
then feast on it with glee


At first she only stared in incomprehension, everything jumbling up in her head.

“Dragonite?” she said in limp disbelief. “Dragonite, stop!” she called, louder, as it all began to piece itself together in her mind, but he didn’t hear her, droning on in a low, raspy voice:

Give me power
Give me strength
I’ll give you my will


“Tyranitar, one more Rock Slide!” called the other trainer, oblivious; Kari stared wildly at him, as if expecting him to step in and stop this somehow.

Give me glory
Give me fame
I will give you me


Dragonite looked up as his opponent began to raise rocks from the ground yet again. Kari stared at his back, eyes wide, almost expecting him to dissolve before her eyes, vanish into thin air. But he didn’t vanish; he stood motionless, shrugging off the Rock Slide without so much as flinching.

“D-Dynamicpunch,” she managed to say, her heart pounding sickeningly in her ears. He’d be okay. He’d just need some rest and then he’d be fine. He’d said himself that it’d be worth it this one time if they won the League. Right?

It took him a few seconds to react; the other trainer used the opportunity to order another Rock Slide. Then, slowly, Dragonite took off the ground, flew towards the Tyranitar – a few boulders smashed him in the face on the way, but he hardly seemed to notice – and smashed his fist into the dinosaur’s stomach. The impact shattered rock, sent it crashing into the wall as it roared and twisted in pain.

“Extremespeed!” Kari called quickly, and Dragonite tackled the Tyranitar down at a sudden blinding speed as it tried to rise. Its trainer stared open-mouthed at his Pokémon as it took a rough tumble on the ground and then didn’t move.

As the spectators realized the battle had reached its conclusion, the crowd erupted into explosive applause.

Dragonite stood still on the arena and blinked dully at Kari.

-------

When Kari’d heard Morty was a Ghost-type specialist, she’d imagined someone gaunt and creepy-looking, but Morty’s appearance was surprisingly mundane – a simply dressed, slightly awkward-looking young man with a fair complexion and a lump of hay-blond hair held back by a purple headband. She couldn’t help thinking he didn’t look all that tough.

“Good of you to come,” the gym leader said, nodding to her. “My name is Morty, and over the course of my lifelong training, I’ve learned to see things others cannot.”

The usual sort of speech. Kari quirked an eyebrow as Dratini slithered forward. “So Ghost Pokémon, right? Why ghosts?”

“They are different from most Pokémon and humans,” Morty replied, his lips curling into a faint smile. “Rather than inhabit a flesh-and-blood body as we do, they are simply souls manifested in physical form. And that changes everything for how they live and what they can do. Our own souls are fragile and may never recover fully when damaged, but theirs have adapted by necessity to mend as easily as other Pokémon can mend their bodies, simply by keeping in high spirits. I find them fascinating.”

“Huh.” So he didn’t even like them for their battling prowess, just their ‘high spirits’? Kari smirked. “Well, we’re here for a badge. Don’t need a dissertation to take you on.”

“Of course.” Morty raised a Pokéball. “Gastly, go!”

-------


“He’s the same. Doesn’t speak, doesn’t react to much, eats what you put in front of him.” The nurse hesitated. “What on earth happened to him?” she asked quietly.

“I… I don’t know,” said Kari. “Let me see him.”

The nurse bowed and led the way down a long corridor, into the private room Kari’d paid for with her prize money. She waved the nurse out and closed the door, leaving her alone with her Pokémon.

“Dragonite?” she whispered. There was no response; the dragon lay flat on his stomach on the bed in the middle of the room, his eyes staring blankly straight ahead. After a moment of silence, she pulled up a chair and sat down beside him. Her hand reached out toward his neck and stroked it gently.

“We did it, you know. We’re champions.” She paused, watching his eye carefully for a reaction, but again there was none. Kari sighed and pulled her hand back, staring at her partner for a long while.

“It’s not bad, being the champion,” she said quietly, hands clasped in her lap. “They gave me access to Mount Silver, where only champions can go. I’ve met powerful trainers from other regions there. And kids recognize me in the street, ask for autographs.” She paused again. “They ask how you’re doing and want to see you. I’ve been telling them you’re fine and you just don’t like the attention. But I know you’d love it.”

Kari gazed at Dragonite for a few painful seconds, tears burning in her eyes. “Why aren’t you getting better?” she asked bitterly, clenching her fist. “You always got better before. I thought you’d – you told me you’d get better. But now it’s been three weeks and you’re still not talking or reacting or…”

Her voice broke abruptly into a choked burst of desperate sobbing, and somewhere within her flashed a ridiculous hope for a fairy-tale ending, where seeing her cry would snap him out of it, and he would rise to comfort her and everything would be back to normal. But nothing like that happened. When she recovered her composure and looked back at him his eyes were still dull and lifeless, devoid of the spark that had once made him who he was.

“Please, Dragonite, look at me,” she whispered pointlessly, and her heart jumped as his head moved, but sank again when his face only turned towards her with that same blank stare, like a giant marionette strung up by her commands. She shivered at the unsettling void in his eyes and told him in a shaky voice to look away again.

“You still respond to orders,” she thought aloud as his head turned robotically back towards the wall. “You just don’t have any will or personality or…”

There was a long silence; Kari looked away, gripping the armrest of her chair tightly as if she could make everything okay if she squeezed it hard enough. She knew, deep down, that Dragonite would never come back.

But she couldn’t just go home and tell her grandfather and the elder Dragonite that she’d made him use a move that chipped pieces from his soul to win the championship. Saying he’d told her he wanted to use it would be a hollow excuse. She could already see them, looking at her like she was a monster, the pride in their eyes giving way to horror and revulsion. And they’d be right to, but she just couldn’t.

In her darker moments it had occurred to her to tell them he was dead. It wouldn’t be a lie. But with no burial and no body, and no way to answer how it’d happened, how could it sound anything but suspect?

(It’d also occurred to her once, horribly, to euthanize him. But even though he wasn’t really him or anyone at all anymore, the thought made her nauseous.)

Kari took a trembling breath, fingers white as they dug into the armrest.

She’d tried to ward off the thought, but it’d crept up on her anyway as she’d sat there: if Dragonite could still obey orders, he could still battle. She could probably teach him some phrases, tell her family he’d come to prefer staying in his Pokéball most of the time, and continue journeying; if they just never stopped in Blackthorn very long, then…

Dragonite had been strong before; Curse had made him invincible. She could conquer the leagues of the world and no one would ever know. Perhaps, on some twisted level, she could even consider it to be honoring the memory of the dragon who had once so loved to fight and compete.

Kari took a long look at Dragonite’s Pokéball and shuddered at what she was about to do before she stood up, still unable to face him.

“Okay, Dragonite,” she said, wiping her eyes with her sleeve. “We’re leaving.”
 

JFought

Sloooowly writing...
Location
HCL
Pronouns
they/them
Partners
  1. jfought-sword
  2. jfought-blue
  3. deerling-summer
  4. charmeleon
  5. vulpix
Review Roulette review time! like a few minutes late but who’s counting. I was looking for an excuse to take some time to read this, because creative interpretations of moves is my jam and I wanted to see how this would play out! I never read the original story, so this is a first-time reading for me. I don't have much else to say, so let's get right to it with my thoughts and impressions!

Thoughts on Curse.
  • Immediately I’m going oh no. I did not go in expecting a happy ending, so as soon as it was established that these two are from Blackthorn I’m like “this is gonna be really sad isn’t it.”
  • An unfortunately bad matchup for Dragonite! I like how important knowledge (or lack of it) ends up being. Like, Kari goes through a pretty believable progression of mistakes here, and it makes the battle work well for its purpose.
  • This guy is raising so many red flags with his pokémon holy crap. Like you just know that this is the prelude to things going very wrong.
  • The decision to skip ahead to after the first “Curse incident” was an interesting one, and I think it works! As I mentioned, I very much had the impression that this wasn’t going to end well, and the first scene in the Pokémon Center ends up acting as something of a hope spot, demonstrating that Kari isn’t being dumb or negligent about this, and that she would never willingly throw away her bond with her Pokémon for the sake of power (which also makes what happens later more tragic D: ). Like, that was a possibility I was considering for the direction this would go in, and this scene eliminates it pretty succinctly and in a way that gets me more invested in these two and what happens to them.
  • Dragonite tells Kari that it’s okay to use Curse, aka oh no part 2. The set up here is really good, in that it feels in character for what has been established so far. Dragonite just wants to win, and Kari wants it a little bit less than he does but still wants to believe in her Pokémon, and Curse didn’t seem that bad, right?
  • I love the use of flashbacks in this story. The way they proceed backwards, and give us more information about Curse and how it works, and the way this builds tension and foreshadows each scene, while also adding a lot of context for Kari’s character. In general the buildup for Curse is just really good and sets up just how creepy the move is.
  • And so it happens, and Curse's true function is revealed. It’s really tragic, how ultimately it was both Kari's desire to win and the trust she put in Dragonite that ultimately led to the fateful decision that would cost him his soul. The actual curse itself is really eerie, almost making it seem as if Dragonite was giving up his soul willingly, and the way Kari slowly starts to realize what’s happening as she hears it… RIP.
  • And we end on the really heartbreaking scene that we see in the cover image. Just… poor Kari. She’s just completely lost on what to do now, and who can blame her? It’s technically her fault this happened, and knowing that is tearing her up. And then the way she just gives in and decides that this is just how things are now. Man…
I feel like I can confidently say that this was really good. I can’t really think of any criticisms. I mean, I guess Dragonite’s character is a little one-note? I don’t really get the sense there’s much more to him besides battling. But it doesn’t particularly matter, his motivations still come across, and for the purposes of this one-shot it’s more than enough because on Kari’s side of things I’m sold completely. I didn't want to see anything bad happen to them ;_;. You did a great job managing the audience’s expectations and racking up the tension, and it’s just really tragic to watch. I can’t really comment on how much this may have improved with the rewrite, so I’ll just say that you got me with it, I really like this story. Fantastic job!
 
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Flyg0n

Flygon connoisseur
Pronouns
She/her
Partners
  1. flygon
  2. swampert
  3. ho-oh
  4. crobat
  5. orbeetle
  6. joltik
  7. salandit
  8. tyrantrum
After a long, arduous journey of narrow victories, shameful losses, and eventually earning all eight Johto gym badges through blood, sweat and tears, they were finally here — and with Dragonite by her side, nothing could stop them from being crowned champions this year.
I wonder if you used the words 'narrow' victory and 'shameful' losses on purpose. It's interesting, since you could have said 'victories and losses' or even 'hard fought' victories, but you instead use narrow and shameful, which to me says that Kari is very hard on losses and minimizes her own victories.

Unintentional or not it's a very good bit of characterization that adds to the story!

I really enjoyed the use of layering in flashbacks to contrast her experience with the move from Morty, worldbuilding, and develop her character. I get the sense that Kari is very determined, and takes losses hard, whereas Dragonite is a little more optimistic and hopeful, and doesn't dwell so hard on it, comforting Kari and seemingly not worried if they can succeed.

Also, the judicious use of timeskips works really well here, skipping any in-between to go straight for the aftereffects of Curse and showing both Kari and Dragonite's reactions. I think that conversation between them is undeniably the thematic lynchpin of the story. From their earlier characterization, it's clear Dragonite and Kari are good partners, both want to win. This conversation cements that, and also makes another crucial detail abundantly clear - Dragonite wants this too, and reaffirms that she should use it, even though she determines not to.

This transforms the story from one about like, just pursuit of power and abuse of trust, but something spookier, about tinkering with forces beyond ones understanding and about mistakes and paying a price for strength.

I do think it reads as more tragedy-horror then pure horror, but the layer of horror also comes from the idea that an unintentional mistake like this can cost so much, and that there are these eerie forces at work and from the unsettling vibes throughout. Ultimately the story wavers towards sadder than pure supernatural fear, so if that's what you were aiming for, that's good!

If you wanted to make it scarier you could maybe add something in where passing on the Curse frees your pokemon, leaving the implication that Kari could snare another trainer to get Dragonite back, but thats also a bit out there maybe and different from the story here. Just a random thought mainly!

I think this one-shot serves really well as a spooky creepy-pasta esque tale that is both sad and creepy. Love it.
 

Joshthewriter

Charizard Fan
Location
Toronto
Pronouns
He/him
Partners
  1. charizard
Holy hell, I knew from the title alone (and experience with some of your other works) that this would hit the feels. It definitely reads like a solid gut punch.

From the moment you introduce her, it’s clear that Kari cares deeply for her pokemon. Her bond with her dragonite is so evident. Makes the progressively worsening plot hit much harder tbh.

I really like the touch of Kari and Dragonite actively knowing that the move is doing something negative to dragonite but still holding it in reserve for emergencies. I especially love the touch of Dragonite actively wanting to use the move anyways. They’re in the running for Champion, it makes sense that they wouldn’t turn down a potential match breaker like Curse could be.

Kari reasoning with herself how she could keep this quiet at the ending. Just an absolute hammer blow to the emotions. She cares so much about her dragon and it’s clear that she blames herself for ever finding the TM in the first place.

I really like the flashbacks as a sort of clue that perhaps Kari should have known not to use Curse, although it’s a leap to stretch it that far and definitively say that she knew. She just knew that it drew from a pokemon’s soul without really considering or understanding what that meant.

Excellent short story here, a perfect example of pokemon creepiness done right! Maybe the lesson is to not accept strange TMs from weird trainers?
 

CinderArts

Bug Catcher
Location
Sandgem Town
Pronouns
He!
Partners
  1. cinderace
Man, oh man, talk about a rollercoaster ride. At the start of the story, Dragonite was full of life, cheerful, determined and raring to go in battles. But then the fight with the Snorlax happened. It's like as if an Omen exists solely to make them suffer. And if you ask me, I truly believe she shouldn't have accepted that accursed TM. Damn it, why did she have to accept it?! I mean, I can understand why she took it; she thought it was a friendly gesture, not knowing the severe consequences of teaching a Pokemon the move "Curse".

Still, we get bits of flashbacks from her fight against Morty and his use of the move, Curse. I guess that's what prompted her to use the move in the hair razing, teeth-grinding back to the wall moment against the Tyranitar. She had an inkling that Curse was a bad move, but little did she know that it has horrible consequences for the user. Now the poor Dragonite is stuck in its soulless husk, a shell of its former jubilant self. I can't blame her for not knowing, yet at the same time sad that she used a move so recklessly. I figured that if she had not met the boy with the Snorlax, they would have continued to live a happy life even if they lost in the finals and did not attain the status as Champion.

One thing is for sure; selling yourself for the prized Champion status will never work out in life. There's always a price to pay, even if it means the very same thing that makes you alive.

Anyways, I enjoyed reading the story! It was really hair-raising and at the same time, suspenseful.
 

Umbramatic

The Ghost Lord
Location
The Yangverse
Pronouns
Any
Partners
  1. reshiram
I'm here for Blitz and LOOK IT'S THE STORY THAT TRAUMATIZED ME AS A TEENAGER AND MADE ME SWEAR OFF THE MOVE CURSE FOR A WHILE!

kirby_joy.jpg

We start with excitable girl Kari and her Dragonite in a Gen 2 setting, looking for fresh challengers to beat up in anticipation for the League. And who do they find but a boy who is totally not some ghost or demon and whose Scizor is showing SERIOUS WARNING SIGNS and challenges her with his big ol' Snorlax. But what's this? The Snorlax wins with a funky fresh move called Curse. a ??? type move that raises Attack and Defense but lowers Speed. Sounds pretty normal right? Here, here's a free TM03 for it! This won't go wrong at all!

Meanwhile there are flashbacks to Kari's disastrous fights with Morty, and how his Ghost Pokemon use Curse diffrently but are spared the adverse side effects. Hmmm. Hmmmmmmmmmmm.

In the present Dragonite is starting to feel these horrible side effects and Kari promises him not to use the damn thing even though, honestly, Dragonite WANTS to, he wants to WIN, and so when the time inevitably comes to fight a goddamn Tyranitar the two UNLEASH THE CURSE, and then it is revealed that UNLEASHING THE CURSE sells chunks of your soul to an eldritch entity that is probably the same as the boy from earlier.

And so Kri has to deal with her Dragonite being soul dead and after going through several, exceedingly bleak options like holy shit she decides to... Pretend this never happened. Keep going. Have a Dragonite that can only accomplish base biological functions and battle orders on her team. Like one does.

....Man I'm glad Curse is a perfectly normal Ghost type move now.

Thank you for letting me traumatize myself again! It was great! And especially I'm honored you made my Kari design canon!It was a huge honor!
 

K_S

Unrepentent Giovanni and Rocket fan
I remember reading this fic ages ago and I thought I reviewed it. Going over my site and accounts I realized I hadn't. No time like the present to fix it huh?

I like how.. while not a natural (with the whole fluttering stomach and whatnot) trainer Kairi is very much willing to trust her mon to carry them through the skies. And tolerate her mon's rather playful loop-de-looping as well. It's a nice scene between the two of them and you can easily see the bond between them.

cruising fora bruising... well some other mon's bruising, but hey gotta stay sharp for the upcoming battle, right?

nice touch of world-building. So she's a dragon-type starter huh? I can see the kids in Kanto and Jhoto changing hues in envy.

Hmm I don't like the kid's scior's blankness... that feels like a warning that Kairi is missing. I mean besides the kid being a low-grade creepy a-la escapee Addams kiddo vibe but that's just me.

Nice descriptor of curse it feels off like it should I suspect that outrage is going to take a chunk but not enough of one per the buffs Snorlax threw up... I suspect that Kairi's going to be getting a wake-up call soon.

Ohf crushed by the thing's belly that's gotta sting. I like how you showed the defense increasing as the loss of elasticity. It was an interesting trick... and while I get the kids logic.. I have a hunch curse is going to do more bad than good... i mean with a name like that?

Nothing to worry about right?

So we get to see the previous encounter, fun times with getting your tail kicked...

And we jump to the present, where we get a sliver of warning. Having a mon that can talk to tell you it's bad news certainly gives Kairi an edge and I think if she can keep her hands clean then Dragonite should shake off... whatever the long-term effects are of Curse. Honestly I'd rec hauling his bones to a move deleater just to be safe.

Considering this tale is listed as a tragedy I really doubt that that's going to happen... but one can hope

Yeah if base Curse tears you apart with invisible things odd versions cant be good news.

And the Curse lyrics kinda tip this into the bad news category and then some... and I think the situation has gone beyond retrievable at this point as he was as blank-eyed as the curse givers scizor and Snorlax... I have to wonder if that kid has all of his mon in that state... and how Kairi long term, is going to deal with her own now that he's been damaged by the attack.

I'm surprised she doesn't go to mortey and talk to him about it. it was a horrible accident and while she could have safeguarded against it by having him do it out of battle in her hearing (or move deleting it away) she didn't and I'd think the fees/ even loss of championship would be a fair trade for getting her Dragon back.. but she hasn't made that leap yet...

or perhaps she's not selfless enough to make that leap and will go further and further down the curse bunny hole. ah well.

Well, thanks for sharing it was a fun read,
 

Sinderella

Angy Tumbleweed
Staff
Location
In Guzma's Closet
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. sylveon-shiny
  2. gothitelle
  3. froslass
  4. chandelure
  5. mimikyu
Okay so I'd been wanting to take a look at this one-shot for ages because YUMMY YUMMY OCCULT HORROR, and YEEESSSSSSS MAMA FUCKING YEESSSSSSSSSS. I mean......not yes for Kari and Dragonite, because yikes bro but this hit all my gud guds, I very much enjoyed it.

This gave me vague vibes of early internet PokePasta (and considering you said you initially wrote this in 2009, that makes perfect sense), especially in the beginning. I got the "here's the ominously unmarked Pokemon game cartridge that's gonna fuck up your life" feelings, except, it's a TM. Same thing, IG. I was wondering if this strange individual who gave Kari the disk was in fact Morty--the descriptions were a little different, I def don't imagine Morty as "sickly looking," but he do be a little skinny and overall unimposing. Regardless of who he was, you did well in establishing that this man was indeed a little ominous, especially in his dialogue. To me he seemed a little TOO eager to get rid of that Curse TM, and his vague answer to Kari's last question about it didn't help things. And ofc he goes missing without a trace right after their chance encounter, WHO'DA THUNK????? Inject this horror setup shit into my goddamn veins, man. Gud stuff.

I REALLY fucked with the chant you came up with for the Curse, too! Very well-written and adequately eerie! I actually fucked with the whole headcanon going on here, how ghost types are capable of using Curse a certain why because they're just BUILT DIFFERENT, and thus it has a certain effect, but when a non-ghost 'mon uses it, the effect is way different but it also, yk, sheers off parts of their soul for a Dark One to consume and because they're not BUILT DIFFERENT there's no getting it back. Permanent ego death and then some, I fucking guess. RIP Dragonite, you will be missed.

What really tied this all together for me was the ending and the just...shitty note it leaves off on, and I just kind of have to figure out how Kari copes on my own. I anguish on her behalf, because she's sitting there trying to figure out how to make it seem like her partner isn't a literal zombie so she doesn't have to tell the public/her elders what has happened to Dragonite, only for her to decide "he still follows orders so I can train him to act like everything is fine. Because it's better than euthanizing him." Like BRUH. I feel so many THINGS toward this. I don't even know what path would be harder, because on one hand.....put the poor thing out of his misery, holy shit. But also the pain of losing her ace would be a lot (not that he isn't already gone in a sense, but still). But on the other hand, she could still have his living body around and have to painstakingly train him to act alive??? And that's STILL awful????? Like, what does she do???? Terrible situation. I'm crying.

Don't have a lot of real crit to offer, tbh. There were two nitpicky lines I highlighted, but other than that, this was pretty sound. Thank you for sharing!!!

“What are you talking about? Emergency or no,
I think you meant "Emergency or not."

The Gastly’s unholy scream as its gas expanded and contracted jaggedly like a creature in agony and then dispersed like a puff of smoke still echoed in her ears.
This was just a tad bit wordy.
 

Negrek

Bruminating
Staff
I certainly remember this story, but I don't believe I've reviewed it before! It's a fun one--feels like a very Dragonfree one-shot to me. There's horror here, but I'm really more about the tragedy in this one, and I think it's well done!

The two things that really make this fic for me are the care you take in showing Dragonite's personality pre-curse and the fact that Dragonite himself is the one who insists on using the attack, despite the risks. (Although after the championship match, I have to wonder if Kari spent any time second-guessing herself about whether Dragonite was really asking for that command with his glance...) We really need that contrast between Dragonite's bold and playful self and the nonreactive husk he becomes to drive home what's really been lost here. And of course, if Dragonite doesn't have a part in making this happen, it's still a tragedy, but Kari's a huge asshole. As it is, I think her position is much more sympathetic--we know how much Dragonite wants to win, we know he's always recovered after using Curse before, we know she only has a couple seconds to make this decision...

I didn't remember the "start of darkness" angle that the end of the fic takes, though! It's an interesting choice Kari makes; certainly I can understand not having Dragonite euthanized, even if that might in some ways be kinder. When we start to get into more "it would honor his memory!" and "he would want the team to succeed!" it begins to sound rather more self-serving, though. I wonder how much Kari really believes that and how much she's inventing self-justifications that she doesn't just want to keep winning. We get shades of her being kind of a dick early on in the fic (e.g. her "look at those filthy casuals" moment when scoping out other trainers), but she did also obviously care for Dragonite and want to do what was best for him--even to the point of at least claiming she'd rather not win the championship if it would put him in danger! All in all I can't say I really know how I feel about her decision here.

I have to imagine it's going to be hard keeping Dragonite's condition from the rest of her team, though. You can only pull off "he's just tired!" for so long, heh. I don't imagine she'll have much of a training career from here if that's the path she's going to take, at least not unless she makes further, darker choices; there's a nice open-endedness here, a sense of further calamity about to happen. A classic case of realizing too late that the goal you strived for wasn't worth its cost!

I like how Morty ended up being more or less the inverse of Curse TM Guy--hale and cheerful where the other is thin and sickly--but both with that blond hair. One training ghosts who are having a good time, the other training pokémon that are ghosts in all but type. In general I really like the interpretation that ghosts are always just out to have a good time because that's what renews their spirits.

I also enjoyed the Curse TM Guy's total disappearance after that first battle. Classic horror trope, but I think it's a lot of fun here. Just who was he? Was he actually human? What was his intent handing out Curse TM's to people? spoopy

One thing that does trip me up about this fic is that Curse here isn't portrayed as an obscure and mysterious attack, but one that's actually the signature move of a gym leader. Kari even suspects that her championship opponent is familiar with it based on their reactions during the battle. Given that, it's a bit weird to me that the dangers of Curse are so unknown. If the only way a non-ghost can learn Curse is through a freaky nonlicensed TM, then if there haven't been many victims yet, okay... It just seems odd that this is a fairly high-profile move and yet no one knows about the side-effects for non-ghosts. At least after the incident with Kari's dragonite, I'd imagine Pokémon Centers at least would know to be "wow, do not" about anyone teaching that attack to their non-ghost pokémon, so silver linings, perhaps?

All in all I think this is a solid one-shot. I'm curious what you ended up updating with this version. It's funny, I tend to think of this one and "Butterfree" as being of a piece, but I don't know if they were actually published at all near each other. It was fun to revisit this story again, and I hope that you had fun doing the same!

The Pokémon grinned and took a playful dive by way of answer, and she chuckled even as her stomach took a lurch at the unexpected movement.
The repetition of "took a" was a little distracting for me here.

Dragonite skillfully pulled into a low, lazy hover over the general area, and Kari peered down at the trainers, trying to pick out a suitable opponent.
I don't love the "general area" descriptor here, since when you hover, you're generally not moving. Not sure what addint it gets you that "pulled into a low, lazy hover" doesn't already provide?

The Gastly’s unholy scream as its gas expanded and contracted jaggedly like a creature in agony and then dispersed like a puff of smoke still echoed in her ears.
I think this sentence might be trying to do too much in general, and the way it's written now it's specifically the gastly's gas that dispersed (rather than the whole creature), which I don't think was the intent?

It didn’t go quite as she’d hoped.
I found this transition confusing; since there was a flashback before this, I was initially wondering whether Kari had lost her gym rematch or something. Maybe something like "Learning Curse didn't go quite as she'd hoped" would orient things better?

It was maybe twenty minutes from her loss against Morty until Kari finally marched into her room with Dratini’s ball in her shaking fingers and shut the door.
I don't think you want "until" here. Perhaps "when?"

She sat down on the brink of the bed, fists clenched.
Brink might technically be correct here, but I think it sounds a bit weird being applied to the bed in this context.

The impact shattered rock, sent it crashing into the wall as it roared and twisted in pain.
"It" here is "rock," not Tyranitar. I think "sent Tyranitar crashing" would clear that up. (Also, tyranitar have a rough time in your championship battles, don't they? :P)

Dragonite stood still on the arena and blinked dully at Kari.
"In" rather than "on" the arena? Though I think "Dragonite stood still and blinked dully at Kari" works well enough.

Don’t need a dissertation to take you on.
I wasn't sure what you were getting at with "dissertation" here.
 

Dragonfree

Moderator
Staff
Location
Iceland
Pronouns
she/her/hers
Partners
  1. butterfree
  2. mightyena
  3. charizard
  4. scyther-mia
  5. vulpix
  6. slugma
Thanks a lot for the reviews, all! Going to respond to some things where there were open questions or I had some rambling to do about it, but everything else is also much appreciated and taken on board <3

The decision to skip ahead to after the first “Curse incident” was an interesting one, and I think it works! As I mentioned, I very much had the impression that this wasn’t going to end well, and the first scene in the Pokémon Center ends up acting as something of a hope spot, demonstrating that Kari isn’t being dumb or negligent about this, and that she would never willingly throw away her bond with her Pokémon for the sake of power (which also makes what happens later more tragic D: ). Like, that was a possibility I was considering for the direction this would go in, and this scene eliminates it pretty succinctly and in a way that gets me more invested in these two and what happens to them.
I'm glad this worked well for you! I wanted it to be very clear how much Kari genuinely cares about Dragonite, and that she would not have just let this happen carelessly; that would have definitely been a direction a story like this could go, but I wanted to do something that's more genuinely tragic.

If you wanted to make it scarier you could maybe add something in where passing on the Curse frees your pokemon, leaving the implication that Kari could snare another trainer to get Dragonite back, but thats also a bit out there maybe and different from the story here. Just a random thought mainly!
Hah, that's a fun concept! Not something I'd want to go for in this fic, though; the concept here was to theorize a twisted explanation for the mechanics of how Curse works in-game, and there's nothing like 'passing on' Curse to other Pokémon in the games. (It effectively came about as me thinking about how both forms of the move involve a sacrifice made for a gain, but ghosts sacrifice their HP directly while other Pokémon just become slower, like it's making them tired or lethargic or dulling them. What might serve as HP for Ghost-types in particular while sacrificing it has that effect on other Pokémon? Hmmm, sounds an awful lot like it's somehow sacrificing the soul. What Japanese pun what are you talking about)

I'm surprised she doesn't go to mortey and talk to him about it. it was a horrible accident and while she could have safeguarded against it by having him do it out of battle in her hearing (or move deleting it away) she didn't and I'd think the fees/ even loss of championship would be a fair trade for getting her Dragon back.. but she hasn't made that leap yet...

or perhaps she's not selfless enough to make that leap and will go further and further down the curse bunny hole. ah well.
If she thought Morty could get Dragonite back she'd do it in a heartbeat! I don't think there's anything Morty could do there, though, and I don't think Kari would expect he could, either. Morty works with ghosts, for whom Curse is a creepy but perfectly safe move that they fully recover from, thanks to what he explained about how ghosts' souls have evolved to mend themselves as easily as other Pokémon's physical bodies. In the continuity of the fic I'm not sure if he's even aware it could be used by non-Ghosts.

This gave me vague vibes of early internet PokePasta (and considering you said you initially wrote this in 2009, that makes perfect sense), especially in the beginning. I got the "here's the ominously unmarked Pokemon game cartridge that's gonna fuck up your life" feelings, except, it's a TM.
Haha, this fic actually predates the first creepypasta I heard of (Lavender Town Syndrome, from 2010); cursory research suggests the creepypasta craze only really became a mainstream thing in 2010. The original concept for the fic was also even older; I think the first proto-version of it was from 2005. So it's actually a total coincidence that the vibe is similar! Definitely see what you mean, though. :P

I was wondering if this strange individual who gave Kari the disk was in fact Morty--the descriptions were a little different, I def don't imagine Morty as "sickly looking," but he do be a little skinny and overall unimposing.
Nah, he's not Morty. Kari would've recognized him! Just a mystery kid with Pokémon who behave like soulless husks :)))

The two things that really make this fic for me are the care you take in showing Dragonite's personality pre-curse and the fact that Dragonite himself is the one who insists on using the attack, despite the risks. (Although after the championship match, I have to wonder if Kari spent any time second-guessing herself about whether Dragonite was really asking for that command with his glance...) We really need that contrast between Dragonite's bold and playful self and the nonreactive husk he becomes to drive home what's really been lost here. And of course, if Dragonite doesn't have a part in making this happen, it's still a tragedy, but Kari's a huge asshole. As it is, I think her position is much more sympathetic--we know how much Dragonite wants to win, we know he's always recovered after using Curse before, we know she only has a couple seconds to make this decision...
Glad this all came through well! Definitely wanted it to not come off as Kari just being careless or an asshole, so Dragonite insisting they should keep the possibility open was an important part of it.

It's a good point that it'd be fun to have Kari second-guess whether he was really asking for that there; that would be a thing that'd go through one's mind in that situation. The old version didn't have that glance (but did have the prior conversation where he insisted she should order the move if they needed it), so this scene was originally written without that having been a thing, but it'd be a good addition.

I didn't remember the "start of darkness" angle that the end of the fic takes, though! It's an interesting choice Kari makes; certainly I can understand not having Dragonite euthanized, even if that might in some ways be kinder. When we start to get into more "it would honor his memory!" and "he would want the team to succeed!" it begins to sound rather more self-serving, though. I wonder how much Kari really believes that and how much she's inventing self-justifications that she doesn't just want to keep winning. We get shades of her being kind of a dick early on in the fic (e.g. her "look at those filthy casuals" moment when scoping out other trainers), but she did also obviously care for Dragonite and want to do what was best for him--even to the point of at least claiming she'd rather not win the championship if it would put him in danger! All in all I can't say I really know how I feel about her decision here.

I have to imagine it's going to be hard keeping Dragonite's condition from the rest of her team, though. You can only pull off "he's just tired!" for so long, heh. I don't imagine she'll have much of a training career from here if that's the path she's going to take, at least not unless she makes further, darker choices; there's a nice open-endedness here, a sense of further calamity about to happen. A classic case of realizing too late that the goal you strived for wasn't worth its cost!
The ending is definitely something! And yeah, her decision is definitely motivated by the fact she is a very ambitious trainer whose goal in life was to go around winning leagues, and once the possibility of going on and just continuing to win has occurred to her it just seems so, so tempting, compared to going and ruining her life by owning up to this, which she's incredibly not ready for and wouldn't bring her partner back. The idea it'd in some way honor his memory isn't totally insane, their ambition and love of competition was something they definitely both shared and if he weren't a soulless husk right now he really would be very much here for conquering the leagues of the world, but it's absolutely a self-justification and she knows it (hence the mention just after it that she can't face him).

I wondered a bit whether to change the ending when revising this; it'd become a lot clearer to me, as you say, that there's no way this could seriously just work out for her indefinitely without anyone catching on, to a point where I wavered on whether it was too stupid of an idea for her to try it at all. Ultimately I didn't, partly because changing the ending felt like a bigger sort of encroaching on the fundamental identity of the original story than with Butterfree, and partly because it still felt like the tone and vibe of ending that worked best for me, out of the other options I could think of; if she was ready to own up to it I couldn't quite come up with a good final point or punch to this scene at all, if I left out the final scene entirely we'd lose out on the followup and something'd really feel like it was missing, actually euthanizing him just didn't feel like something Kari was capable of, and the slight darkness of her established ambition and determination to win driving her toward something like this just felt more interesting as an ending for her character. I still don't feel super satisfied with it but if I were to tweak it from here I think it'd be toward trying to make her plan feel less flimsy, rather than away from this ending.

One thing that does trip me up about this fic is that Curse here isn't portrayed as an obscure and mysterious attack, but one that's actually the signature move of a gym leader. Kari even suspects that her championship opponent is familiar with it based on their reactions during the battle. Given that, it's a bit weird to me that the dangers of Curse are so unknown. If the only way a non-ghost can learn Curse is through a freaky nonlicensed TM, then if there haven't been many victims yet, okay... It just seems odd that this is a fairly high-profile move and yet no one knows about the side-effects for non-ghosts. At least after the incident with Kari's dragonite, I'd imagine Pokémon Centers at least would know to be "wow, do not" about anyone teaching that attack to their non-ghost pokémon, so silver linings, perhaps?

All in all I think this is a solid one-shot. I'm curious what you ended up updating with this version. It's funny, I tend to think of this one and "Butterfree" as being of a piece, but I don't know if they were actually published at all near each other. It was fun to revisit this story again, and I hope that you had fun doing the same!
Curse is well known as Morty's signature move, but his Pokémon are Ghost-types, who are not permanently harmed by it - as I tried to show with Kari in the opening scene, the whole concept that the move could have some different effect for a non-Ghost-type is not one that's familiar to people here. As far as anyone is concerned, Curse just has the Ghost-type effect, and there's no common knowledge that non-Ghosts could even hypothetically learn it, much less that it could have different and more sinister effects. I deliberately left the origin and nature of the TM ambiguous, but it's definitely not something that's been in commonplace circulation.

(Of course, in coming up with this concept I forgot there is technically one line of non-Ghost Pokémon that learns Curse without a TM in G/S/C, namely Slowpoke. Let's say wild Slowpoke are well aware how it works and it's a pretty big taboo and they would never tell a trainer that's a thing they can technically do, no way, are you insane.)

Curse is from 2009 and Butterfree from 2012, so they're a while apart in time, but they were for a very long time my only two 'recent' one-shots, and I've often talked about them in the same breath as stories I wanted to revise and post on TR (as opposed to my older one-shots, which I don't have any plans of revisiting), so I'm not surprised they occupied a similar spot in your mind. A lot of the changes in this version were just prose improvements, but the most significant actual edits were:

- The progression in the first part of the fight against Tyranitar is changed; originally, Kari made a pretty stupid decision to go straight for a Dynamicpunch that missed, and then unilaterally decided to go for the Curse.
- The Curse chant itself was rewritten; the original version did not have a consistent meter and did not rhyme, which was a conscious choice at the time because I felt it made it creepier and more otherworldly, but I always found it kind of clunky and didn't like it enough.
- The first, second and fourth flashbacks were fully rewritten to make the dialogue less stilted and convey Kari and Dratini's relationship and characters better.

I wasn't sure what you were getting at with "dissertation" here.
Basically that Morty's making this whole speech about it, and she's like okay, cool, fascinating, but I don't need to hear your dissertation on why ghosts are built different, I just want a battle. If it sounds odd I should probably rephrase.
 
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The Walrein

Il faut cultiver notre jardin
Partners
  1. gulpin
  2. kricketot
  3. bulbasaur
Hello Dragonfree! Here for review blitz your catnip review from 2022! Sorry for the huge delay. As usual, I'll post my thoughts on individual segments before looking at the piece as a whole.

Her Pokémon nodded and approached the trainer she’d indicated, landing a safe distance away; they’d learned it tended to startle people when a large Pokémon descended right into their space. The boy’s Scizor was expertly smashing a rock into pieces with its metallic claws, paying them no notice as its trainer gave it some inaudible directions.

Kari slid off Dragonite’s back. The trainer turned to her as the two of them walked towards him.

“Hey,” she called, raising a hand in greeting. “I just got here and I want an idea of where we stand. Quick one-on-one? Your strongest against my strongest?” She pointed a thumb over her shoulder to indicate Dragonite while she quickly sized her opponent up. He was on the short side, skinny and pale and sickly-looking, but his eyes sparkled with the same confidence she’d seen in his posture that’d made her pick him. His Scizor looked up at her as the boy cocked his head slightly, the Pokémon’s face blank.

“A Dragonite?” he asked. “Impressive. Where’d you get it?”

Kari grinned. “My grandpa’s one of the elders of the Dragon’s Den in Blackthorn City. We basically grew up together since he was freshly hatched and I was a toddler. What have you got to match him? Scizor?”

The boy fingered one of the Pokéballs at his belt slowly as he glanced at the bug Pokémon. “Oh, no,” he replied. “Scizor’s not my strongest. That’s why it needed the training.” He turned his gaze back towards her and smiled. The Scizor didn’t react, standing still where it was. “Okay, you’re on. One on one.”

I think the foreshadowing about Scizor being a soul-eaten zombie is a little too subtle; I'd imagine most people would just ascribe its lack of reaction to Scizor being naturally stoic and unexpressive Pokemon.

An idea popped into her head, and she couldn’t resist the opportunity to try. “Dragonite, knock it down with Extremespeed!” she called quickly, and her Pokémon became a tan-colored blur as he zoomed straight into Snorlax’s body –

This feels like an unnecessarily risky decision given that it doesn't seem like Dragonite knocking Snorlax down was at all necessary for him to prevent the Body Slam from connecting; couldn't he just fly out of reach and continue to bombard Snorlax with ranged attacks? I guess Kari is kind of impatient, but this doesn't really sell her as a champion-level trainer. If Snorlax was established as having at least one move like Hyper Beam that could strike at a distance, trying to do something to end the fight quickly would make more sense.

Using Safeguard to prevent the confusion from Outrage is neat, though.

It didn’t go quite as she’d hoped.

“I’m so sorry,” Kari said for the hundredth time, stroking Dragonite’s muzzle as the nurse left them alone in the recovery room. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” he replied heavily after a second’s pause. “Just tired and dizzy. Some rest and I’ll be fine.”

“It’s that move, I know it,” she went on. “Several times in the same fight? I should never have gone for that. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s not your fault.”

“It is my fault, because you told me it made you feel numb and tired and I should’ve just listened to you. I’m listening now, okay? We’re never using that move again.”

Just describing the results of this battle after the fact feels a lot less impactful than I'd imagine actually narrating out the scene would be. I can see there are reasons you wouldn't want to do so: having a second fight scene with Dragonite so soon after the first one might be repetitive, and the wordcount would be significantly expanded. Nevertheless, the way Kari narrates what happens here feels slightly artificial, particularly the line "It's that move, I know it". And having Kari apologize for her transgression in the same scene the reader learns of it robs that beat of any emotional impact it might have head.

Kari exhaled slowly. “Yeah,” she said after a moment. “Yeah, I know.” She put a hand on her forehead and found it drenched with sweat. She sat down on the brink of the bed, fists clenched. “We’re going to have to plan for the rematch. How are we going to get around it? If we can’t get him on the second try I’m going to lose it.”

Until this point, I had thought that this interlude was occurring after Kari's second match with Morty, not chronologically prior to the previous interlude. Not sure what you could do to make this clearer other than add explicit timestamps, or just cut out the scene entirely. It really doesn't feel like it gives us any information the first interlude didn't, aside from maybe the detail about the curse effect manifesting in the form of "Wispy grinning specters" that only the move's victim see, which could've easily been rolled into the earlier segment.

Dragonite paused, brow furrowing. “I don’t really know,” he said. “It’s just part of the move. It’s like flying – once you’ve learned it, you just do it, and you don’t really pay conscious attention to exactly how you’re doing it anymore. Only with the TM, you get to skip the learning it part and go straight to having the muscle memory.”

“Huh. Are all TMs like that?”

I'd imagine that a trainer experienced enough to be a serious contender for the championship would understand how TMs work on a basic one-paragraph-explanation level already. Even if Kari's never used a TM before this one, doesn't she feel any curiosity about the subject that's been the complete focus of her life for the past however long she's been training?

“You’re forgetting one thing,” Dragonite said, turning to look at her. “I want to win, too. It wasn’t fun but it’s not that bad. I mean, I’d lie in the Pokémon Center staring into space for twice that long if it meant we’d be champions. Of course I’d rather not if we could do without it, but if it would save us? I’d want to go for it. And the rules say I can’t unless you order it.”

I do appreciate how Dragonite is given some agency here, although (and Kari has this same problem) it'd be nice to know why he feels so motivated to win.

“Good match,” said Morty as he recalled his Gengar, its cackling laugh echoing eerily around the room for a second after it disappeared.

Kari nodded numbly, speechless, still clutching Magmar’s Pokéball in her hand.

“Of all the ways Ghost Pokémon can cripple the opponent, the move we call Curse is one of the most versatile and difficult to counter, even though gathering the power for it comes at a price,” Morty said. “You’re not the first trainer to fail to anticipate it.”

The only word of his speech that really stuck for Kari at the moment was “fail”. She had never lost to a gym leader before. They were predictable type specialists, all glaring common weaknesses that were easily exploited, with some high-leveled Pokémon but not high-leveled enough to make up for it – right? Wasn’t that what she’d always said, when she’d airily dismissed everyone who warned her that earning gym badges would be tougher than she thought? And now she’d just lost pathetically to the fourth one she’d challenged.

She looked away, gave Morty some halfhearted goodbye-and-I’ll-be-back, and sped out towards the Pokémon Center, her face flushed. Next time, she would win.

This interlude feels similarly redundant to the second one; this is the third time we're being told that Kari lost her match against Morty due to not being prepared to deal with Curse. The only new information here is that this is Kari's first loss against a gym leader, which did give a bit of color to Kari's character seeing how she reacted, but which could've also been folded into the first interlude.

And though it wouldn’t have made much difference to the audience, far off in the stands, Kari could for the first time make out the words.

Dark One, I accept your curse
for what I must acquire
Take of me to reimburse
the power I desire

Take a piece, but not the whole
A fair and proper fee
Help me first to reach my goal
then feast on it with glee


At first she only stared in incomprehension, everything jumbling up in her head.

“Dragonite?” she said in limp disbelief. “Dragonite, stop!” she called, louder, as it all began to piece itself together in her mind, but he didn’t hear her, droning on in a low, raspy voice:

Give me power
Give me strength
I’ll give you my will


“Tyranitar, one more Rock Slide!” called the other trainer, oblivious; Kari stared wildly at him, as if expecting him to step in and stop this somehow.

Give me glory
Give me fame
I will give you me

Why can Kari make it out this time but not any of the previous uses? Also, if the curse chant is being spoken slowly enough to be audible, it feels like that's a long time to just be sitting around mumbling in the middle of a battle! Like, if Tyranitar's paralysis lasted long enough for Dragonite to say all that multiple times, it feels like he definitely should've had enough time to fly over and smack his non-moving opponent with a Dynamic Punch.

-------

So, I liked the overall concept of investigating exactly why the move Curse has different results for ghost-type vs non-ghost-type Pokemon, and the ending with zombie-Dragonite being used to battle indefinitely was appropriately creepy. However, the revelation that Curse works by making a pact with a demonic entity in exchange for pieces of your soul feels very... un-Pokemon? Like, there's definitely room for sinister extra-dimensional entities in Pokemon canon, but calling on them to generate arbitrary effects by means of selling soul-pieces with a rhyming chant just feels wrong for the setting to me somehow, like explaining that Tom Bombadil wasn't tempted by the One Ring because he was a cultivator who'd completed the Dao Core Solidification Stage. (The level of dissonance in that analogy is harsher than what I felt reading this story, but I thought it was useful for communicating the sort of "genre whiplash" I experienced.)

I think I would've been more accepting of the idea if instead of a generic 'Dark One', you were able to tie in some existing Pokemon concept - even muttering "something something MissingNo" would've worked better for me. Also, it didn't really feel like it was foreshadowed that well - we were told that Curse has a cost and that it somehow involves creepy whispering, but it still felt like quite a leap from that to 'demonic soul pact'.

On an in-story level, it feels odd that the existence of this 'Dark One' and the mechanics of the move Curse aren't more widely known. It feels like the existence of an otherworldly(?) entity that can grant arbitrary(?) effects in exchange for an apparently renewable resource should be kind of a Big Deal! I can buy that the knowledge of how non-ghost-types interact with the move might be obscure if the only way they can learn the move is through mysterious unmarked creepypasta TMs, but ghost-type Pokemon openly use Curse in Morty's gym, a major rite of passage for all competitive trainers in the Johto region. Morty might be a bit coy in explaining how it works, but it didn't seem like he was trying to conceal anything. Did no one ever think to ask ghost-type Pokemon what the deal was with the creepy whispering, given that it's established that it's (easily?) possible to talk to Pokemon in this setting?

Also, maybe I'm spoiled by living in the Smartphone Era, but it feels weird that Kari apparently didn't try to do any research on the move Curse. If trainers are staying at the Indigo Plateau for multiple days for the tournament, it feels like it should have some computers or at least some written reference materials there. Kari just felt kind of insouciant in general, and I never really bought her as the sort of dedicated-to-the-point-of-obsession Pokemon battling genius who you'd imagine would be able to get within reach of the championship. I guess her success is just down to having a really strong Dragonite on her team? It would've been a bit more plausible if she was just participating in a "Junior Trainer's Tournament" like in Quest for the Legends (IIRC), but here we're explicitly told that she's the champion and kids want to get her autograph.

On the subject of characters, I think Dragonite really needed more characterization for the ending to have its proper emotional impact. It's nice to know that he genuinely wants to be champion, but it would be good to have some hint as to why he wants that so much. The flashbacks to the Morty gym battle might've been a good place for that. Also, although he does give Kari some pushback on using Curse if necessary, for the most part he just agrees with her and follows her orders. His reduction to a mindlessly obedient drone would've been sadder if we'd seen him with a stronger, more assertive or opinionated personality before.

The fic's structure felt like it worked against it. Quite a lot of words were dedicated to characters sitting around discussing something that had occurred "off-camera", which is almost always weaker and less engaging than actually showing events directly. There were three scenes like this in a row:

-Kari and Dragonite talking about the aftermath of the Morty fight in a flashback
-Kari and Dragonite talking about the aftermath of Dragonite using Curse for the first time
-Kari and Dragonite talking about the aftermath of the Morty fight in a flashback, again

The frequency of the scene transitions also tended to kill any of the fic's momentum. The flashback scenes felt repetitive and the reverse-chronological nature of them didn't really seem to add anything aside from some confusion in the second one until I realized what was going on. It felt like the only purpose they really accomplished was to explain why Curse had a different effect for ghost type Pokemon than for non-ghosts, which I think could've easily been done in one scene. Rather than having four scenes about the same gym battle, I think the fic would've been better served with a few different vignettes of Kari and Dragonite's journey together in the past, which could've given more opportunities for characterization.

I've been fairly negative in this review, but I do remember enjoying the story when I first read it years earlier. It's possible some of my own bad feelings and self-directed resentment surrounding my extreme procrastination leaked into my opinions of the story, but unfortunately I don't know how to disentangle that from my natural tendency to be more critical of fics when I'm reviewing them closely. If you have any questions, feel free to send me a forum PM or message me on Discord. I hope your future writing goes well!
 

HelloYellow17

Gym Leader
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. suicune
  2. umbreon
  3. mew
This one’s been on my list for a long time! And oh boy, the cover art alone is giving me chills—this is going to be a heck of a read, I can already tell.

Kari didn’t doubt that he could win.

He still seemed calm, confident, self-assured. She wondered idly how long that would last.
I’m enjoying the very clear little snapshots we see of Kari’s personality already—she’s very confident and self-assured, to the point of looking down on other trainers (those standing around talking could only be “casuals”, of course, not serious about battling like she is!) and charging into battles with way too much surety. But it’s balanced out in a way that doesn’t make her feel monstrous or downright unlikable; she’s just a kid who is maybe a bit too cocky, and her Dragonite has a matching attitude, as well.

“Snorlax, Curse!”
Oop there it is

Kari looked back at him. He was smiling, and though her sore loser instinct still wanted to think he was a cheap idiot, he was going out of his way to help.
Lol, at least she has the decency to be a good sport about it.

Although, this other kid kinda does creep me out. The way Scizor just stands there robotically the whole time, the way the kid himself looks kind of…sickly? My mind was going crazy places. Is he a ghost?? I have no idea, but there’s definitely eerie undertones there.

“It is my fault, because you told me it made you feel numb and tired and I should’ve just listened to you. I’m listening now, okay? We’re never using that move again.”
Yeah, saw this coming as soon as she asked about the move. It’s very scary to see its effects!

Dragonite chuckled. “He really… really was, wasn’t he? Can’t… believe some of these kids, huh?”

So bad. That Crobat kid?” She shook her head, smirking.
Lol is this a Silver callout 😂

But wow, Dragonite can barely speak. I wouldn’t ever want to use that move again, either. Very unsettling.

He gave a weary smile. “I’m fine, Kari. No trainer or Pokémon who knows what they’re doing is going to hit you with anything you can’t fix with a trip to the Pokémon Center.”
Hmmm something tells me this isn’t going to hold true through this story—

Kari never did find the boy who’d given her the TM.
YEAH THAT KID SUS. Nobody remembered his name? Despite the fact that he was so strong? Yeah no he’s gotta be a ghost or SOMETHING idk

The only word of his speech that really stuck for Kari at the moment was “fail”.
Oof, Kari definitely has a perfectionist streak that feeds into her hunger to be the best. Not a great combination there, as one can resort to sketchy things if they get too desperate!

She had never lost to a gym leader before. They were predictable type specialists, all glaring common weaknesses that were easily exploited, with some high-leveled Pokémon but not high-leveled enough to make up for it – right? Wasn’t that what she’d always said, when she’d airily dismissed everyone who warned her that earning gym badges would be tougher than she thought? And now she’d just lost pathetically to the fourth one she’d challenged.
What really strikes me about this is that…she hasn’t seemed to have changed much since then! Maybe she’s gotten a little more humble, but she still has a habit of underestimating her opponents and dismissing the idea that some things have consequences.

Dark One, I accept your curse
for what I must acquire
Take of me to reimburse
the power I desire

Take a piece, but not the whole
A fair and proper fee
Help me first to reach my goal
then feast on it with glee
Oh-KAY that is creepy af hahaha 😬 I’m so curious though, who is the Dark One?? A legendary? Some unknown entity?

“Please, Dragonite, look at me,” she whispered pointlessly, and her heart jumped as his head moved, but sank again when his face only turned towards her with that same blank stare, like a giant marionette strung up by her commands. She shivered at the unsettling void in his eyes and told him in a shaky voice to look away again.
Oh gosh this is so eerie and unnerving. The fact that he can clearly hear and understand her, but he’s just…gone. It’s worse than being dead, in my opinion. He’s still there, but not.

Dragonite had been strong before; Curse had made him invincible. She could conquer the leagues of the world and no one would ever know. Perhaps, on some twisted level, she could even consider it to be honoring the memory of the dragon who had once so loved to fight and compete.
omg WHAT. I really thought this would end with her mourning the loss of Dragonite, but no! It’s so much worse!! This is beyond awful and twisted, continuing to fight with your shell of a Pokémon. Sheesh.

I know you’ve mentioned you wrote this fic ages ago, but man, it holds up! It sure does make your skin crawl, and the premise itself is creative. The art goes HARD, too—that sightless gaze of Dragonite is freaking haunting.

Great fic and great art! This was a fun, creepy read. :copyka:
 
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