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Pokémon Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Guardians of Balance

Chapter II.XII - Pirates

StolenMadWolf

Loony Moony
Pronouns
He/They
POKÉMON MYSTERY DUNGEON
GUARDIANS OF BALANCE

EPISODE II – DARK, WONDEROUS PAST
CHAPTER XII – PIRATES!

Sam tightened his grip on the railing, eyes fixed on the ship as it started to turn towards them. They know we're here!

"She's coming about!" One of the shiphands shouted.

Calvin's roar boomed across the deck, "Rescuers! Get over here!"

Jerking to attention, Sam and Zeke shared a glance as they ran back down the ship towards the centre. Calvin was waiting for them, alongside a rather panicky-looking Dan and a seemingly recovered Bruce. It seemed as if the threat of attack had pushed down whatever seasickness he had been feeling. From further back, he could see the captain at the wheel, shouting for the crew to ready the cannons. With a practised sense of urgency, the crew scurried across the deck, shoving the weapons into position.

As Edward and Denver scrambled from below decks, the Charizard directed his attention to the assembled recruits, "Alright boys, the wind isn't doing us any favours. We can't run until either the wind turns or until one of the flying types can get enough of a gust to turn us. The captain is going to turn us on for a broadside ahead of the Crow, try and keep him at a distance. But there is a good chance they'll try and board us. We need to keep them off the gun crews until we can break clear. Bruce! Edward!"

The Bulbasaur and Skiddo almost leapt out of their skins, "Y-yeah Calvin!?" Bruce barked.

Calvin pointed towards the railings, "I need you two to cover the sides for any water types coming up on us! Denver, I need you to be our fast responder. Sam and Dan, you both know electric moves, right?"

Sam sharply nodded, not thinking about how Calvin knew that. "Got Electro Ball."

"T-Thunder Shock!" Dan weakly replied.

"Then you two head up front. Any flyers come in, turn them round-" Calvin squeezed his fist, "Or blow the bastards out of the sky."

Can't argue with that! Sam flashed a thumbs up to that. "You can count on us!"

That was when Calvin turned to the Electrike. "Zeke, I need you to help them."

Sam's heart instinctively skipped a beat.

Denver's eyes widened, "Are you fucking nuts!?"

Zeke looked just as alarmed, "No no. No! I can't-"

"That wasn't you Zeke!" Calvin barked, cowing the younger Rescuers in an instant. "You're a Rescuer, I trust you to be that!"

"B-But…" Zeke blubbered.

"Flyers leaving the pirate ship!" one of the crew members shouted.

Calvin narrowed his eyes, "You want to keep Pokémon safe from harm? Then help us fight these pricks off, cos there's a good chance of more harm happening with one less fighter."

Sam's eyes flicked towards the Electrike, his mind flashing back to the first fight he had against him in Broken Wood, how easily he electrocuted Aidan in that fight. The Scorbunny did beat him, but he knew Zeke had a lot of power in him. But with Kain… he knew Zeke was terrified of losing himself.

He leaned into view, "We've got your back Zeke." He said firmly, flashing a determined look. "Trust me, I'll take any help we can get."

Zeke finally looked towards Sam, properly, struggling to fight back tears. Terrified.

But whatever he saw in Sam seemed to stabilise him. He narrowed his eyes, gritted his teeth, and turned back towards Calvin, lifting his neck to expose the collar.

With a flash of white, Calvin's Metal Claw easily cut the collar loose, the metal fragments clunking on the floor.

"What about you Calvin?" Bruce questioned, starting to back up towards one of the railings.

The Charizard flashed a grin, "I'm going to have a scrap, buy you boys some time."

With a whump of his wings, he shot up into the air, headed towards the pirate ship.

"Mad bastard…" Denver grunted.

"You heard him though!" Edward replied, starting to trot towards the starboard side. "We need to be ready!"

"Hurrah to that!" Bruce cheered, taking his position on the port side.

Whilst Denver grumbled to himself, Sam flicked his head back towards the bow. "Zeke, Dan, come on!"

As they ran back towards the bow of the ship, Sam could only spare a brief thought back towards the Crow, what was going through Alice's and Nia's heads? Was the captain making a similar call?

He wished he could get aboard the Crow right now, but he knew they didn't have that option. The best Sam could do now was try and defend the Penguin.

Reaching the bow, the pirate ship had closed the gap, and now, Pokémon were approaching in the air and water, running on ahead of the vessel. Bruce and Edward could handle the water, but they needed a good approach to deal with the air. He shuddered, he wasn't an expert on dealing with air targets, and he didn't even need to look to know that Dan was never going to co-ordinate their attacks… so…

"Zeke." Sam started, turning towards him with a firm look, "Can you take point?"

The canine hesitated, but only for a moment, snarling as he looked towards the flyers. "Alright, on my mark!"

An orange dart sliced through the air, forcing the approaching fliers to duck and weave to avoid the Charizard with some turning to take him on. Others closed in on the Penguin, almost all of them birds.

Dan was shaking uncontrollably, his mouth trembling, "Z-Z-Zeke?"

"Not yet."

The birds were nearly on top of them, Sam's heart thumping harder in his chest, "Come on Zeke." He hissed.

"Not yet!" Zeke barked.

Three started to dive towards the ship, Sam sweeping his foot back to ready the Electro Ball. "Now would be a good time!"

"Not yet!"

He could start seeing the features more clearly now of the attackers, the leader, a Fearow, was starting to shriek.

Blue energy crackled around the Electrike, his jaws snapping open-

Sam recoiled as the blue beam of energy shot out of Zeke's mouth, too fast for the Fearow to react. In a flash of light, the bird was blown back, spiralling out of the air. His wingmates squawked, immediately trying to pull away.

"NOW!" Zeke roared.

Eying a fleeing Swallow, Sam booted an Electro Ball into the air. The orb raced after it, and with a twirl, the flying-type barrel rolled away, the attack skimming across their back. Sam growled as with a panicked flutter of their wings, the bird peeled away.

A flash of yellow light erupted in the corner of his vision, another bird being blown out of the sky with the Thundershock attack.

Sam gritted his teeth, glaring at the Swellow scurrying away. At least his attack run is ruined!

"Here they come again!" Zeke shouted, "Sam, we'll fire first, you try and catch anyone evading us!"

Snapping out of it, Sam readied himself for another shot, "Got it!"

Another trio of birds began to dive, at them, coming from two angles to try and throw them off. But another blast from Zeke blasted one back, forcing their comrade to throw themselves aside to avoid them. Gotcha!

Sam's next Electro Ball sailed straight into his target, sending them screaming into the water below.

The rest of the fliers hung back, starting to circle the Penguin to try and find a fresh angle. "They're going round back!" Sam realised, ears going fully erect.

"Go!" Zeke shouted, "We'll keep the bow covered!"

"Y-Yeah! We'll… try!" Dan stuttered, trying to rile himself up.

Sam nodded, sprinting back across the deck, past the cannons and shooting up towards the higher stern. The Dewott captain was at the wheel, still barking orders to his crew. Sam reached the rear railing, just as a bug type tried diving in. Another Electro Ball later, and the bug was sent reeling back, trying to keep himself in the air.

Okay! Just gotta keep the flyers off us!

Another bird flew overhead, a red band wrapped around them. One of the crew. Must be getting ready to get the gust going!

"Surprise!" Bruce shouted.

Behind him, a Squirtle had poked his head up over the side, only for the Bulbasaur's vines to wrap around his neck, "See ya in hell!" he exclaimed with a smirk as he flung the turtle away almost casually.

Another squark came, and he turned in time to see the Swellow diving for him. Yelping, Sam dove aside, the air whistling as the flying type rushed by.

Sweat soaking into his fur, Sam growled and pushed himself back up to his feet. "Buzz off!"

Sam kicked off another Electro Ball, and this time, the Swellow wasn't ready. It struck them hard in the back. The bird's scream was swiftly cut off as he plummeted into the water.

"Hold them off! We're nearly ready!" The Dewott shouted, his eyes fixed on the closing pirate ship. It was close enough now that Sam could now see the forms of Pokémon running or clambering across it, getting ready for their attack. "Starboard cannons ready!"

Someone cried out, and Sam scrambled over towards the wheel to look down at the deck. A Lombre riding a pink Gastrodon had started sliding over the railing, the crew hurrying away from the deck.

The Gastrodon's eyes widened in time for Edward's head to bury itself in them, and with a slimy pop, the slug and the Lombre flipped off the railing and back into the water. "We're clear!" he shouted, "Back on the guns!"

Snapping to attention, the gun crews swiftly took their places, loading shot into the barrels.

"Hard to port!"

The captain started spinning the wheel, and with wood creaking all around, the ship started heaving over as she began to turn. Wind rushed above the Scorbunny, a pair red-sporting flying-types were beating their wings hard to try and add some extra speed to the turn. Sam struggled to keep his footing, one eye still on the sky if another flier tried to have another go at them.

The Penguin creaked even more, juddering as its turn sharpened, the bow peeling away from the pirate ship and slowly exposing the cannons of the schooner. The enemy ship kept sailing at them, its bow remaining fixed on them.

What the hell is he doing!? Sam snapped, He's gonna be a sitting duc-

Four hatches in the bow of the pirate ship sprung open.

He barely heard the shout. "CHASE GUNS!"

Smoke and fire flashed from the guns, wood detonating and splintering as cannonballs blew through the Penguin like an angry god. Pokémon screamed as they took a face full of shrapnel or were blown into the air.

One shot tore through the higher rear deck, Sam immediately shielded his eyes as he rolled back, debris whistling as she rushed past him. He landed hard on his back, the Scorbunny barely managing to keep his head from hitting the floor. His eyes snapped open to find the Dewott captain barely hanging onto the ship's wheel. He was wincing, clutching the side of his body, quickly becoming drenched in blood. Across the way, an unfortunate crewmember lay against the far railing, a grass type that sat unmoving.

Moans and screams echoed across the ship, out of sight of Sam. He only just stumbled to his feet when the whole ship jerked underneath him. Crying out, Sam nearly faceplanted the deck. Holy- did they just ram us!?

Gritting his teeth from anger and his aching arms, he picked himself up again to find the pirate ship's bow high above him, only just prevented from burying itself into the side of the Penguin. The schooner wheezed, water slushing against the hull. "T-There are pushing us aside!" Sam realised, the Penguin being turned to face the direction it had originally been travelling.

His chest tightened as he spun back to face the Crow, the other schooner still sailing onwards.

Into the path of the pirate ship's guns.

"No!" Sam screamed, "Get-"

Cannon fire roared as the pirate ship unleashed its broadside.

The Crow nearly exploded as the cannonballs slammed across her side, punching through her hull in a shower of shrapnel and flame. Sam's words died, as all he could do was watch as the ship heaved and rolled, gaping holes emerging out of the smoke.

"Alice!"

Above his head, war cries started to boom, a bell ringing as the pirates prepared to board the Penguin.

Sam snarled, readying a new attack, "Bastards! Come on! Come and get it!"



Across the way on the Crow, Alice gritted her teeth, her head pounding and her ears ringing. She had been terrified about Sam being stuck on the rammed Penguin when the broadside hit, throwing the Buneary across the deck. Through the ringing, she could make out the agonised cries and the moans of the crew. The captain was trying to get further ahead, to try and avoid striking the Penguin by accident. But then that pirate ship had lined up for its attack, and the Crow didn't stand a chance.

"Alice!" Nia shouted, "Alice!"

Grunting, Alice tossed aside the plank pressing against her back and pushed herself back up. "I'm alright!" She turned to find the Niobat unhurt, lowering herself back towards the deck with a beat of her wings. She must have got above the cannon fire.

The deck itself was ruined, covered in debris and blood from where Pokémon had been caught. We need to he-

Over the side, a team of four threw themselves over the railing, all sporting black armbands or bandanas. An Ambipom waved one of it's tails threateningly in the air, "Kill anyone who resists!" he barked.

Whilst a big Ursaring marched towards the rear of the ship, where a few members of the crew started to rise, the Ambipom, a Yungoos and a Minccino turned on Alice and Nia, moving towards them.

Alice took a step back, one ear already hardening in ice, she had to hope Sam was fine and deal with these guys, and with a smirk, she had the ideal solution. "Nia? You know how we keep telling you to watch your tone?"

She could hear Nia laugh as she floated past the Buneary, "Allow me!"

Her ears perked up, everything seemingly to go silent.

Alice covered her ears.

Nia's ultrasonic scream somehow slammed into Alice's chest, even though she was behind the bat. A scream loud enough that she could see the waves punch through the air. The three pirates screamed, clutching their ears as they tried to block out the sound. The Minccino keeled over, banging her head against the floor.

As the scream ended, Alice sprung forward, swinging her Ice Punch straight into the face of the Yungoos. As they skidded across the floor, the Ambipom shook his head, but his eyes were unfocused as he wildly threw a tail punch. Alice didn't even need to dodge it, letting her other ear glow white as she slammed the Rock Smash into his gut with a crack.

The Minccino looked up in time for Alice's still ice-encrusted ear to smash her face in. The rodent's face slumped into the deck, unconscious.

"Incoming!" Nia shouted as other pirates started throwing themselves over the railing.

Gritting her teeth, the Buneary readied herself for the next fight, hoping that Sam and the others were holding out.



Grappling hooks clunked against the railings, the larger ship reeling the stricken Penguin alongside. Even then, pirate Pokémon, all with black armbands, scarves or bandanas leapt aboard. Sam started to run for the stairs. Got-

A Sandshrew crashed down onto the deck, claws glinting as he charged at the Scorbunny. Sam sprung back, avoiding the slashes. "Out of the way!"

Roaring, Sam leapt back forward, trying to double-kick him away. The Sandshrew spun away, wincing as the kicks struck his back. It tried to swipe him again, but the Scorbunny was faster, leaping above the ground type. His feet connected at the back of the shrew's head.

As the pirate collapsed onto the deck, Sam could see the captain watching him, pressing some kind of paste into his wound. Grimacing, the water-type flicked his deck towards the steps.

Heart pounding, Sam swiftly nodded and leapt down the stairs.

Denver shoved a Tangela into the railing, his stinger stabbing away at the vined Pokémon. "Fuck off!" he bellowed, lifting the grass type in his pincers and throwing him aside. "Sam!" he shouted as the Scorbunny landed next to him, "Bruce and Edward are struggling at the mast!"

Sam didn't question the Skorpi, immediately jogging after the bug type. The Penguin was a scene of chaos, pirates and crew battled each other, trying to fire off whatever moves they could when they weren't fighting hand-to-hand. Sam ducked and weaved through the fights, fighting to keep his balance and not get trampled.

Bruce and Edward were back-to-back, fending off a pair of rock-type pirates trying to batter them. Denver roared as he charged the one attacking Edward, pincers cutting at them. Sam pounced at the other, double-kicking the rock-type away.

"Thanks!" Bruce shouted, "How many of these guys are there!?"

"You can ask them!" Sam panted, backing up to join the other Rescuers. "Any idea about Dan and Zeke?"

"Still at the bow!" Edward replied, the normally reserved goat scraping his hooves on the deck, "But there's so many!"

"If we could get away from these bastards!" Denver snapped.

One of the rock types lunged at Sam, only for Bruce's vines to wrap around their gravelly body and toss him across the ship. Sam couldn't help but smirk at the sight.

That was when in the direction of the tossed pirate, a Krokorok's head poked up from the crowd. Growling, his arm snapped up, a metal object glinting in his hand. Sam gasped, it was a bloody sword!

"Fire type at the mast! Kill him!" he roared.

Sam recoiled, "Wait, wh-"

Five pirates suddenly broke off from the main battle, charging for the Rescuers. Sam didn't think, immediately kicking away another Electro Ball. So close, two of the pirates, both monkey Pokémon, spasmed as the ball struck them. Denver immediately lunged forward, grappling two of the attacking pirates. Edward got the last, headbutting them back.

"Sam!" Bruce roared, vines raised and ready, "We could do with that fire-type shit!"

He gritted his teeth, "I can't just kick fireballs all over the place! I'll burn down the whole ship!" All it'll take is one rope catching and we won't have a Penguin left!"

As the three pirates were shunted back, a much bigger Empoleon and Sceptile barged through, limbs already glowing.

Sam's heart missed a beat, "Fuc – get back!"

Denver and Edward's eyes widened as they stumbled back. Bruce growled as he stepped forward, leaf-shaped projectiles shooting forward from the bulb on his back. But the water-type snapped one fin up, the Razor Leaves helplessly pinging off the steel.

Shit! Sam swept his foot back, feeling the heat underneath, he had to try and get a direct hit on them, or he'd-

The Charizard slammed down onto the deck behind the two Pokémon. They started to turn, but too late, Calvin's hands grasping the side of their heads and with an almighty crack, slammed them together.

"Now this is more like it!" Calvin roared with obvious delight as he tossed the two aside and his Metal Claws formed, "Come on lads!"

With a whip of his tail, he sent two smaller pirates flying, before lunging at an attacking Carracosta, forcing them back and laughing all the while.

"Another fire-type! Take out the dragon!"

"Hate a little firepower?" Calvin snorted, his tail glowing blue as he slapped the Sceptile away. "You're lucky you're not getting a taste!"

As the Charizard battered his way through the pirates, some of the shipmates rallied, falling in behind the veteran rescuer.

"What the hell is with these guys and fire-types?" Bruce wheezed, finally stopping to catch his breath in the lull.

Sam panted, leaning over as he caught his breath. "I'm asking the same."

"Fire hazard?" growled Denver, eyes on the unfolding battle, ready for someone to come at them.

He does have a point.

"There's still too many of them." Edward said, trying to survey the deck, "We need an equaliser."

Equaliser? Sam thought, back stiffening. We need a damn tornado! Could we break the Penguin free? He shook his head, No, the Crow would be a sitting duck! We need some more firepower!

His ears went erect, Firepower.

He looked towards the pirate ship easily overshadowing the Penguin… and the unfired cannons pointed right at it.

"Guys!" Sam shouted, "I've got an idea! Cover me!"

Bruce flinched, "Wha-"

Sam was already atop the guns, hoping Calvin could keep the pirates busy for another moment. Alright! How do I fire this thing!? He scanned one of the cannons, trying to find anything that seemed obvious. Fuses!

And there it was, a little dent to allow it to fire. Sam started to rub his hands together, feeling the heat rush through them.

"Sam on your right!"

The Krokorok's blade came rushing down at him, too close to dodge.

With a panicked yell, instinct fired off the Protect, the blue shield blinking in between them in time for the sword to ping off. The Krokorok's surprise flashed before he slashed again, the Protect fading away. Sam tried to spring away, but his feet slid away underneath him and with a yelp, he fell to the floor.

The croc roared, and the Scorbunny rolled aside, the sword impacting just inches away from him.

The sword came at him again and again, keeping the Scorbunny stuck on the ground. He tried to look back at the others, but all he caught was a glimpse of Bruce diving away from an ice shard. Another slash came and Sam evaded again.

The kick came flying into his gut, Sam barking out as his body spasmed. He tried to gasp some fresh air in, but with a crooked smile, the croc raised the sword again.

FUC-!

A dark projectile struck the pirate in the chest, sending him stumbling back. Rolling over, Sam eyed Dan standing at the bow, looking amazed… before screaming as another pirate attacked him. Hearing the growl behind him, Sam threw himself back onto his feet and fired off his Quick Attack, shoulder-slamming the returning Krokorok.

The larger Pokémon stumbled back right into Calvin's grasp. He had a moment to start crying for help before the Charizard casually chucked him over the railing. "Go on! Light them up!" He bellowed, turning back to grapple with another large Pokémon.

"On it!" Sam scurried back onto the cannon and rubbed his paws together, the heat building. Here goes nothing!

"Fire in the hole!" he shouted with a final scrape of his hands, a tiny Ember emerging and striking the fuse.

His ears rang as the front of the cannon exploded in smoke and flame, followed by the sound of detonating wood. The cannon jumped back, and unable to hold on, Sam flew off and slammed across the deck.

As he stumbled back to his feet, he caught a glimpse of Calvin, the Charizard laughing as the smoke cleared, revealing a gaping hole in the pirate ship. "Have a piece of your own medicine!" he cackled.

Out from the still battling Pokémon, the Empoleon charged, slashing his bladed wing across Calvin's back.

The Charizard roared, spinning around and slashing at the water-type. A Panpour and Mankey leapt onto his back, clawing away at his face. Wildly shaking himself, Calvin shook them loose, only for a Toxicroak to smack a fist across his jaws.

"Calvin!" Sam got back onto his feet, only for the Water Gun to strike his leg like a hot knife. Sam couldn't stop the cry, tumbling back over as he clutched his leg.

The Mankey had got on Calvin's back again, the dragon getting punched in the gut by the returning Sceptile, followed by the Toxicroak again punching his face. Another bird came swooping in, slamming into the Charizard's back. Grunting, the Charizard fell to his knees, getting pounded again and again.

Sam gritted his teeth, trying to rise to his feet, only for something to clamp around them and sweep them out from underneath him. Roaring, he struggled to break free, a Kingler hefting him into the air. Before he could do anything, he was hanging helplessly upside down.

As he struggled to shake himself free, he could only watch as Calvin was forced down to the ground. So was Edward, a Machoke holding the Skiddo by the horns. Bruce and Denver were backed up against the far railing, surrounded by pirates. The ship spun around him, bile burning in the Scorbunny's throat. As the world steadied, he could make out a Marshtomp holding a panicking Dan, whilst Zeke, electricity crackling all over his body, was being forced over the railing by a Sandslash.

Desperate, he tried to punch the claw, only for a wave of pain to flood up his arm. The Kingler could only laugh as he hefted the rabbit up higher into the air, "Just for you kid."

The Kingler smirked, "Greg sends his regards."

Sam's entire body froze, G-Greg!?

And before he could do anything, the Kingler threw him overboard.

And the last thing Sam saw was a blast of water rushing towards him…

Sadly again, this took longer than planned to complete, but chapters which are mainly battles tend to be trickier to write anyway. Either way, GoB's story continues as the pirates make their entry into the story. I hope you guys enjoy this one!
 
Chapter II.XIII - The Myth of Blackaxe

StolenMadWolf

Loony Moony
Pronouns
He/They
POKÉMON MYSTERY DUNGEON
GUARDIANS OF BALANCE

EPISODE II - DARK, WONDEROUS PAST
CHAPTER XIII - THE MYTH OF BLACKAXE

Days earlier…

Greg growled as the sword poked his back, making a deliberate effort to make it a rumble.

"Go on big boy." grunted the pirate behind him, poking him again, "Get moving."

A faint whimper came from the Swampert's side. "C-Come on boss…"

The Marowak next to him quivered, instinctively rubbing the back of his neck, no doubt remembering how the bandit leader had crushed it. Rolling his eyes, Greg started walking down the ramp of the ship.

It was midday, and ahead of them was a large town, composed of wooden structures that seemed to have been made from parts of old ships. An extensive dock was established outside, where not only smaller pirate ships were docked, but several other ships were currently being broken up and looted, likely to contribute to the building of the town. Greg could just make out an outer wall, that had also been built with stone alongside the wood.

"How did these guys get this place built?" asked the Rattata as he stepped down to the ground.

"Shipbreaking." The Pidgey replied with a snip, struggling to stretch his tied-up wings. "Are you blind?"

"Shut. Up." Greg grunted, as another pirate, sporting her black armband, started to direct the bandits – and the crew of the Daywalker – to stand around a small clearing before the central building, a large three-story structure with a set of stairs leading directly to the second floor. He narrowed his eyes at the crew, fear written across their faces much as it had with his own. Whatever the pirates want with us, it can't be good.

As the gathered prisoners were brought to a halt, surrounded by pirates from both the ship and the town, a Floatzel with a milky eye looked over them, his hand resting on an axe held at his hip. Didn't think anyone would get their hands on swords and axes. Save for those bastards on Sand maybe.

With a sharp whistle, what little conversation between the prisoners faded away, and the Floatzel crossed his arms. He scanned them once more, causing the bandits next to Greg to start squirming. The Swampert merely held his gaze, refusing to be cowed by the pirate's display of power. He even started thinking of using an Earthquake, to try and escape.

Instead, the Floatzel turned towards the building. "My lady!" He shouted, closing his eyes and bowing his head, "The prisoners are ready!"

The doors at the top of the stairs swung open, and as the new Pokémon emerged, Greg swore he could feel his back twang.

The pirate leader descended the steps, each footstep sending a faint quiver through the ground. She appeared insectoid in shape, but she was massive, her entire body armoured head-to-toe in beige and black rocky armour. At the ends of her arms, there were a pair of gigantic obsidian axes that didn't reflect any sunlight at all.

And as she stepped onto the ground, showing her to be even taller than Greg was, he could make out her eyes, nearly completely white, save for a dark pupil in each eye.

"I am Blackaxe." She said, her voice gravelly as she strolled towards the prisoners, letting her axes scrape across the dirty ground. "I'm the commander of these crews."

Blackaxe… it can't be! The legendary pirate queen!

Greg locked his jaw as Blackaxe started to pace along the line of prisoners. "Your ship and cargo now belong to Libertalia to do as we see fit. The question now becomes… what of you?"

A weak sob broke out from the captive crew, but Blackaxe didn't acknowledge it, continuing her pacing. "I offer a place where you can become a free Pokémon, no longer tied to the manipulations of the Continents and their guilds. You will be able to carve out your own destiny, and share in the spoils."

Some of the prisoners started sharing glances with each other. "You will need to prove this of course, but if you do… you will be welcomed as brothers and sisters." Blackaxe raised her axes in a somewhat welcoming pose. "If not… then fear not. Prove yourselves worthwhile, and I may be inclined to return you to the nearest safe port. But I do warn you… that is a fine line."

Her voice deepened with those last few words, and Greg swore he noticed a pirate shiver at that.

Blackaxe returned to her pacing, her eyes scanning the line of prisoners once more.

And then she stopped, and Greg could just make out that the strange Pokémon had stiffened.

"Come on out."

Two pirates barged into the crowd, much to the surprise of the prisoners. With a stifled squeal, they dragged a Pignite out from the crew, throwing him down at the feet of the pirate queen. "Stand." She ordered, and fearfully, the fire-type scrambled to his feet.

"Who are you?" she asked, her eyes narrowing as the quivering pig struggled to reply. "T-T-T-T-T-Trevor!" He babbled, his eyes wide.

"And what do you do for your crew?"

What's she up to…

Trevor was still shaking, but managed to muster up a nervous smile, "M-Me? I'm the ship's morale officer! I help keep these weary souls in the best of spirits with warm bellies from rum and stew!" He patted his belly, "I-I can you a taster! If your lady would be so inclined…"

Blackaxe turned away, and Greg could almost taste the sarcasm in her voice.

"…the cook… perfect…"

Then she spun and slammed her axe down on the Pignite's head.

Someone screamed as blood splattered everywhere, the crew starting to panic and the bandits gasping in shock as Blackaxe yanked her bloody weapon free, allowing the cook's corpse to limply hit the floor. Greg himself flinched, not ready for that sudden a strike. The pirate whipped her axe aside and motioned her head towards the prisoners.

A Vulpix was the next to die, a pirate stepping in from behind her and stabbing her in the neck with a knife, a faint gasp being all she could muster. A Salazzle clawed at her neck as it was slit with another blade.

As a Simisear started getting stabbed, Greg saw the pattern. His eyes snapped towards his own bandits… towards the dark Marowak, unable to tear his gaze away… and unaware of the pirate approaching him from behind.

Greg made his decision.

The Swampert's hands were bound, but without hesitating, he grabbed hold of the Marowak by the head, lifting him out of reach of the stunned pirate and the startled bandits. And as if on cue, the Marowak knew what was coming. "No no no! Please! Not ag-"

The skull of the Marowak imploded in the Swampert's grasp, the fire-ghost's body going limp. Should have stayed dead.

As the bandits stared on, mouths agape, Greg curled his lip in disgust and tossed the body away. But as he did, he found Blackaxe's eyes fixed on him.

Shit… here we go...

On the ground, the last of the target Pokémon gasped his last breath, his blood mixing in with that of his peers. Whipping her axe free of blood, she turned towards the Floatzel. "Get them accommodated. And someone needs to get rid of this… trash." She motioned towards the bodies.

"Of course, my lady." He replied, before barking his orders to the pirates. They sprang into action, starting to shove the prisoners towards the town. Another blade poked at Greg's back, shunting the Swampert along. Grunting, he started to move.

Only for the axe to hang just short of his throat. "Except this one." Blackaxe growled, as the other prisoners were forced further away. Greg clenched his jaws, holding his neck back from the weapon.

As the captives went out of earshot, Blackaxe leaned forward, peering down on the Swampert. "Who are you?" she questioned, voice deep.

Greg croaked out a cough before speaking, "Why would you ask?"

"You cur!" the Floatzel shouted, stomping over to their side, his eyes bloodshot. "You'll address her as Lady Blackaxe!"

"Overruled." grunted the axe-pokemon, earning a surprised look from the Floatzel that she didn't even acknowledge. "Answer the question."

Greg swallowed, keeping his heart rate down. "Greg." He admitted, "I'm… a vagabond."

Blackaxe's eyes narrowed, "And where were you caught Greg?"

"In the Sea of Wonders."

The axe twitched a touch, "You ran out of road… didn't you?"

Greg merely narrowed his eyes, resisting the urge to clench his fists. "You could say that."

The pirate queen stared down the Swampert, her axe still hovering by his throat. Greg held his nerve, refusing to show any fear.

Blackaxe swivelled the axe.

And neatly cut the bindings off Greg.

"My lady!" The Floatzel blurted out, "What are you doing!?"

"Don't worry Ezekyle." She replied, "I will keep my eye on this one."

She lowered the axe, and this time, Greg couldn't stop himself from letting out his held breath.

"You may well have found another road." Blackaxe stated before turning, "Come with me… we have much to discuss."

She started stomping towards the main building. Greg rubbed his wrists and feeling the eyes of the pirates piercing his back, he slowly shuffled after her.



Present day...

The sea of colours had returned, the soothing, rolling sounds playing within his head as everything softly shifted from one colour to the next.

Sam groaned softly to himself, seeing the white star hovering in the distance, blinking once more.

Great. This again? Come on… this is pointless…

He had no idea what had happened. The last thing he knew, he was being thrown overboard. For all he knew, his friends were in danger! And here he was in another stupid dream!

Can you get me out of here already!

The star continued to blink… but it was getting brighter.

"…please please please! Can you hear me! Oooohhh why does this have to be so hard!"

That brought the Scorbunny out of his stupor. Whoa whoa… hang on! I can hear you! Can you hear me!?

The star stopped blinking, only to start again, even brighter than before. "FINALLY! It's been so long! Do you know how many different methods I took to try and make contact again! It's normally a lot easier than this!"

If he still had a heart, it'd have leapt for joy. Finally! Six weeks after arriving in the Pokémon world, the voice that first greeted him had finally reappeared! About damn time! But… who are you? Why did you bring me here?

"Me? I didn't bring you here."

Huh?

"As for who I am… let me try something. It'd probably be better just to show you."


The colours rapidly started to shift again, before focusing onto a solid, warm green, the star rapidly brightening to the point that it nearly blinded the Scorbunny.

Instinctively, Sam shielded his eyes, trying to bloc- huh?

As the light started to fade, he blinked, finding his arm now hanging in front of him. Mouth agape, he looked down to find that his Scorbunny body existed again. A quick pat over and running his hand over his head and past his ears confirming it wasn't a trick. He flashed a grin to himself, God… this is so much better!

"Over here!"

Flinching, Sam turned back to face the star, the sea of colours seeming less intense but no less vibrant as it faded away to reveal a new figure.

A strange green… blob, with a tiny red hexagon on the body and a single little eye at the top.

"Hi!" they exclaimed in a high-pitched, almost childish voice, the blob wobbling cheerfully.

"Err…" Sam ears dipped as he tried to process the… thing in front of him. I… I have no idea what this guy is.

"Hi…" He managed to say. "Err… who are you? What are you? Are you some kind of Pokémon?"

"Yeah! Erm…" the blob suddenly looked confused. "No? Kinda? It's really complicated… how about you just call Squishy for now?"

Sam couldn't stop himself from stumbling over his own words. "Sq… S-Squishy?"

"Yeah! That's a long story too, been a while since someone called me that!"

Squishy hopped over towards the Scorbunny, his single eye beaming. "I'm glad to finally meet you!"

"Nice to meet you too…" Sam replied woodenly, swiftly shaking his head sharply. Come on Sam! Focus!

"So… Squishy." He started, managing to recover, "Do you know why I'm here?"

"To save the world obviously!" Squishy replied warmly.

"Yeah… and… what I'm saving it from what exactly?"

The little green blob froze. "Err…. Err…"

Sam rolled his eyes, "Go on." He said, motioning with his hand to request the answer, "I can take it."

"I… I don't know."

Something snapped in the back of Sam's mind, the Scorbunny nearly lunging at the blob. "Are you fucking kidding me!" he shouted, causing the weird creature to bounce back. "I've been waiting six weeks for an answer to what I'm doing here! You show up and your answer to the question of, saving the world is: 'i dont know!'", pulling a mock accent as he finished his rant.

Squishy blinked a couple of times at the Scorbunny, "In my defence…" He started with a slightly chipper tone, "I just woke up from a few hundred-year-old sleep about… a week before you arrived? I'm catching up as much as you are and I don't have a lot of cameras to look through!"

Suddenly feeling lightheaded, Sam sheepishly rubbed the back of his head. "Okay… that'd explain a lot…" Wait, a few hundred years?

"I can point you in the right direction to start looking though!" Squishy replied, hopping back over to his side. "The disasters, the guardians… your dream with the castle-"

Sam nearly leapt out of his skin, "H-How did you know that!?" he cried, recalling the dream of the besieged castle, what little he did anyway.

"I'm in your head dumdum!" Squishy bounced off the ground and before Sam could react, the blob was wobbling on the Scorbunny's head. "It's not that hard!"

Gritting his teeth, Sam grabbed hold of Squishy and pulled him down, holding the blob in front of him. "I get it!"

Cycling a breath in and out, Sam calmed himself down. "Okay… okay… so the Guardians and the disasters that have been happening... They're all related?"

"I'm positive of that!" Squishy confirmed, "You'll need to follow that lead. And if my memory hasn't borked out, there is an old Guardian structure on this island!"

Zeke was right! Kain was headed out here!

Sam lowered the blob down to the ground, "Great then! Do you know where it is? Or what is in there?"

"I think it might have been… an arcanum?" Squishy replied, eye clenched as if deep in thought, "Agh, if only I had a few more cells."

"Cells?" Sam uttered.

"Nevermind. Point is, I know its on the island, but where exactly? I don't know. But if you find that, I've got a feeling you'll start finding some answers. If not about what is happening right now, then definitely something on the Guardians."

Suddenly, Squishy seemed to start fading, only to rematerialize, his eye widened. "Great. I can't maintain this for too long. You're going to have to go on without me for now!"

Sam growled, "No! Squishy, you've just given the best help on this so far, how do I even find this place!?"

Squishy was already beginning to fade, "Maybe ask some locals? They know this place better than any guild members!"

The Scorbunny wanted to slap himself, "Where the hell am I going to find locals out here who want to help!?"

The blob seemed even more delighted, "Maybe ask the one looting your stuff?"

Stiffening, the Scorbunny could only cock his head. "Wait, looting-"

The sea of colours suddenly went back, the Scorbunny falling into blackness…



To the sound of gently breaking waves, Sam stirred.

Shielding his face, he opened his eyes, trying to stop the sunlight from burning them out. He was lying on soft, warm sand and his fur felt mangy and clumped up from salt and beach.

Groaning softly, Sam sat himself up.

The ships were gone. The only evidence of their existence was wooden debris that lay washed up on the beach, from planks to barrels. Sam's heart sank as he started to scan his surroundings, hoping against hope that Alice or the others had managed to get away.

He doubted they could have saved the Penguin, nevermind the Crow.

No one he recognised appeared.

God damn it…

Something clunked behind him, prompting the Scorbunny to spin round, facing a line of tropical trees.

He found himself staring at the back of a green monkey Pokémon about his size, with two leaf-like tuffs extending from its head and held in place by a stick. He had a rather familiar-looking satchel hung over his shoulder… and a certain red jacket.

"Hey!" he croaked, getting to his feet, "What do you think you're doing!?"

The monkey spun around, his eyes wide with alarm.

Sam took a step forward, "Give me bac-"

The Pokémon leapt away, running for the forest.

"Oh no you don't!" Sam barked, sprinting after the monkey.

Running into the trees, he chased the thief as he ducked and weaved through the foliage. As soon as he took his chance, the monkey started to ascend, working his way up into the trees. Unable to climb after him, the Scorbunny pursued him from the ground. Panting, Sam ducked through leafy ferns and hopped over fallen trunks, following him deeper into the forest and managing to keep his eyes fixed on his target.

As the forest started to clear, the monkey started to jump between lower, thicker branches. Alright! Try this!

Willing the fire within him to ignite, Sam shot an Ember away.

The fireball struck the branch the monkey landed on, the Pokémon yelping in surprise as he was flung off the tree and fell towards the ground.

Gotcha!

Sam punched through another fern, entering a larger clearing in the trees, a pool of water sat off to one side. The thief winced, trying to crawl away from the trees. Rubbing his feet against the ground, the Scorbunny slowly approached, "I don't want to hurt you." He panted, raising a hand as he approached, "I just want my stuff back…"

The monkey snarled at him, "Helping you outsiders! Not a chance!"

Cocking his head, Sam narrowed his eyes, He must be talking about the pirates….

"I'm not like those guys…"

"I don't believe you!" He shouted back, pushing himself back to his feet, and pulling the stick from the top of his head.

Sam swept his foot back, getting another pebble ready. "Alright… you're not giving me muc-"

A squirt of water landed between the two Pokémon harmlessly, Sam twitched at the sudden sight. The monkey seemed equally as baffled, blinking at the sight.

"Why is it that boys have to have a spat every ten seconds?"

The voice came from the pool. But… there's no one there.

That was when he noticed it, a shimmering patch of air that hung just above the water.

A faint sigh came from it, "Boys these days…"

The shape sprung out of the water, a blue Pokémon materialising as they touched down in between the rabbit and monkey. Sam nearly leapt out of his skin, almost seeing Aidan as a Froakie again. But his heart slowed as he saw the yellow fin atop her head, and she looked more like a lizard or a chameleon than a frog.

"How did you get back so quick?" The monkey snapped.

"Relax." She stressed, motioning for the monkey to calm down. "That doesn't matter, he's not one of those pirates."

I knew it!

Sam clicked his fingers, "Exactly! I'm not one of those guys! I ended up here because of them!"

"We can't trust these outsiders!" Hissed the monkey.

"Then why does she think I'm not a pirate?" Sam questioned.

The lizard turned back towards him, her blue eyes looking him over. She seemed a lot calmer, but her big eyes seemed to suggest that her species was… less so? "Look up then." She replied.

Sam stared blankly back at her, "W-What?"

"Seriously. Look up."

He started to look up, "What am I-"

That was when he saw them, his heart nearly exploding in his chest as he gasped. He stumbled back, unable to tear his gaze away, nearly tumbling over.

Hanging above their heads, were over a dozen bodies. Some were fresh, hanging limply from the tree branches. There was a Chimchar, a Salandit and a Typhlosion hanging there, deep cuts left open to fester. Some were older, starting to rot away into skeletons or starting to become bloated. Some unfortunate Pokémon, such as a Numel, had their heads mounted on spikes, and one unfortunate Flareon was fully impaled on a branch outright.

Sam teared his eyes away and keeled over, desperately trying to stop himself from retching.

"Because there are no fire-types with the pirates, remember?" The lizard explained, "They kill any fire-type they come across."

"I… hells." Cursed the monkey, "I thought I nearly caught fire then."

They… they all kill fire-types? Is… is that why they were so riled up at the sight of me?

A surprisingly soft hand settled onto his shoulder, and Sam weakly looked up to find the lizard holding on to him. "Come on." She said, "Let's talk somewhere else…"



The three Pokémon sat in a much smaller clearing, under the shelter of a much bigger tree with Sam's possessions now back in his hands.

"I'm Kyra." Said the water lizard, "This is my friend, Denzel."

The monkey sheepishly raised a hand in greeting. "'Ello."

Sam quickly introduced himself, "Sam. I'm a Scorbunny from the town of Robinswood." He looked over the two Pokémon, "I haven't seen your species before."

"We've known Scorbunny before." Denzel admitted, "But we're more obscure I guess." He rested a hand on his chest, "I'm a Grookey. Kyra is a Sobble."

Grookey and Sobble… got it.

Sam nodded back, "So… I'm guessing you guys live here?"

Kyra and Denzel shared a glance between each other, before Kyra continued, "We're from the Wela Tribe. We've called these islands home for generations. No one else came out here until the Lady arrived with her pirates and started attacking our people."

Cocking his head, Sam frowned back, "The Lady?" he questioned.

"Lady Blackaxe." Kyra confirmed, "She leads the pirates here and started taking our people captive to help build her Libertalia."

"Mainly after our fire-type chieftain went to greet her." Denzel said glumly, "And after she cut his head off."

Sam leaned forward, processing the word, "Blackaxe… I mean, who is she? I mean, do you know anything about her?"

"Not much." Denzel explained, "All we do know is she's a Pokémon unlike anything we've ever seen. One of a kind." He fiddled with the twig in his 'hairdo'. "I think she called herself… a Klevor?"

Klevor? Never heard of that Pokémon... is she a legendary or mythical like Volcanion? He felt a slight shiver at the thought of another one. Volcanion was bad enough, a second...

"She seems to have a bone to pick with other outsiders. And she really hates fire-types." Kyra added, "Why she does is anyone's guess."

The Sobble leaned forward, "So what about you? You're not a pirate. So what are you?"

"I'm a Rescuer." Sam explained, "Of the Robinswood Guild. It's on a big island… like, much bigger than this one. We came out to survey the islands and track down pirates like this Blackaxe to try and help people. They've been attacking ships going between the continents."

That earned a few blank looks from the two Pokémon, enough for Sam to shuffle his feet. "Er… boats?"

A light sparkled in Kyra's eyes. "Oh, boats! Got it."

"The point is," Sam continued, "We can work together to stop these guys. But first I need-"

The penny dropped; his heart clenching tight as he gasped. "The others!" he shouted, springing to his feet.

"What?" Denzel choked, doing the same.

"My friends! The other rescuers! Our ships, they got attacked by the pirates!"

He glanced between the others, "Did you find anyone else on the beach?" he quickly asked, gathering his things. "Another rabbit like me? Or a bat or a reptile with a bulb on his back?"

Kyra winced, "We… we heard there was a battle. That's why we came out here, to try and find out what was happening. But your ships were already gone. And me and Denzel have only found you."

Sam clenched his fist, trying to control his breathing, Damn it… could the pirates have got everyone? Alice? Nia? Bruce, Edward, Denver and Dan? I saw… I saw Zeke getting thrown overboard and… wait… Calvin! He's a fire-type too! Did the pirates… I've gotta know!

"Hey! Hey!" Kyra barked, grasping the Scorbunny's shoulders. "There are more of us out there! If any of your friends got away from the pirates, they probably got picked up and are already on their way to our village. We can find out there."

"Yes." Denzel said, "The pirates will come back to search the beaches again soon."

With a hiss of breath, Sam managed to get his heartrate under control. It frustrated him to no end, but he knew the two were right. He couldn't just start searching the forest randomly. He needed… needed to take inventory. Hope that some of the others got found by Kyra and Denzel's tribemon. Get somewhere safe, then work out the next best plan of attack.

"Okay…" Sam slowly said, "Lead the way."

Well hell... that was a new experience. I ended up getting on one of a roll last night with this writing. What was supposed to be just a thousand words max turned out to become the entirety of Chapter 2.13. All 4000+ words. Damn thing nearly killed me but I'm pleased I managed to get this chapter complete. After Chapter 12's events, I also felt that I had to get the rather significant Chapter 13 released sooner rather than later. And yeah... this Chapter should change things not only for Episode 2... but for the rest of GoB as well. I hope you guys enjoy this chapter!
 

JFought

Sloooowly writing...
Location
HCL
Pronouns
they/them
Partners
  1. jfought-sword
  2. jfought-blue
  3. deerling-summer
  4. charmeleon
  5. vulpix
Hey there, here for review blitz! This is a fic I’ve had on my list for a while, and I figured I could check it out for Week 1. Going in, I don’t know much beyond it being fairly dark and having themes of colonialism (and I suspect Dynamaxing and mega evolution are both relevant to the story eventually, judging from the logo). So I’m jumping in mostly blind!

Thoughts from the Prologue to Chapter V
  • The introductory bit almost feels like a “World of Pokémon” intro at first, though not for long! The scene seems to be told almost as if it’s something being explicitly shown, like a cutscene, which threw me off at first, but it gets confirmed later that an entity wants our “observer” to see this. I like the style of prose in this segment too: practical while still descriptive.

  • As someone who is mostly out of the loop when it comes to the wider PMD fanfiction space, I did get the impression I wasn’t the audience for the personality quiz joke ^^;. But anyway, a mysterious voice properly introduces us to the story, and there’s some neat subtle foreshadowing in here. I get the impression they aren’t actually talking to the protagonist, or if they are, then at some point they aren’t anymore. Overall I feel the prologue works in terms of setting things up with some good intrigue, and I get the feeling I’ll want to keep it in mind for later.

  • We’re introduced to Sam, who’s greeted by a voice again (the same voice, or a different one? My theory on the prologue voice talking to someone else seems a bit stronger here). I did like the bits in Chapter II where he’s wondering about who he is and then is like “wait how do I know these concepts?” As a character, he seems to get ahead of himself a lot and can be a bit hot-headed, judging from how he keeps trying to stand up to his pursuers despite his clear disadvantage. It feels like he’s the type to likely stumble face-first into the harsher dangers of the setting, which is to say that I expect these introductory chapters won’t be the last time he gets beaten real badly like this ^^;.

  • These early chapters are very noticeably short. I noticed later chapters are longer, so I won’t harp on it too much, and this isn’t really a criticism per se: short chapters exactly like this are perfectly valid and I’ve seen it in other stories. But all of Chapters I through IV are essentially one singular scene, and it was hard not to notice, as psychologically I feel the expectation that more should have happened by the time we’ve reached the chapter titled “Chapter IV.” Technically the pacing of the scene is fine, but because it’s split like that it feels longer and more drawn out than it actually is, creating an extremely weird pacing issue that wouldn’t exist otherwise. But maybe it’s just a “me” thing, and I'm not really suggesting a change, it's just an observation.

  • It is extraordinarily unlucky of Sam to have his first encounter be with a couple of murderers :P. The revelation does feel like it comes out of nowhere a bit, as they don’t seem to be all that concerned that Sam is there to potentially witness their wrongdoing until they’ve already screwed up. As a tone-setter, this is certainly a direct way to introduce the darkness of the setting, though I don’t think I can have any definitive thoughts on it until I’ve seen more of the later chapters. I can say that it sets the idea that Sam will face consequences for being reckless, though.

  • …But not today, for he’s saved just in the nick of time! We also get a moment where Sam finally figures out a move, and it’s a neat detail that he couldn’t figure it out earlier because he was making the wrong assumptions about how it's supposed to work when a Scorbunny uses it.

  • Chapter V opens with mysterious voices again! It seems like there might be several? And it does seem like they have a connection to Sam clear enough for him to be aware of them to some extent, even when they aren’t addressing him. A small thing I can’t help but wonder is if Sam’s name is actually Sam, or if the voice was calling for someone else and he just thinks it’s Sam, though I’m not putting a lot of stock in that theory.

  • I’m actually a little surprised Sam didn’t immediately recognize Galarian Rapidash, I was under the impression he was Bri*ish. though maybe he’s actually australian…

  • Technically he didn’t tell any lies to Rex :P. I’m curious what the attitude towards humans is in this world: it seems like it might be the standard for PMD based on what the voices have said, but it’ll say something about Sam’s character how he decides to wield this secret going forward.

  • Brushing himself down, the former human took in a breath, steadied himself… and strolled out of the room.

    Well… here goes nothing.



    Where the hell's the exit?
    fun moment to go out on :mewlulz:
Darkness engulfed everything, from every direction. The voice, intimidating but warm likewise came from all sides.
I get the impression you wanted a comma between 'warm' and 'likewise' here.

Or in a couple of years ago even.

He stumbled back, crying out as fell back onto his backside.
Missing 'he.' You could also probably drop the 'back' from this sentence.

Dang it… even if I can outrun him, the Pidgey will keep place… I need a better idea and q- wait, the trees!

but Sam barely registered the shapes that rushed past him and the fire type in a blur of colou

The Gallarde struck first, it's bladed arm rushing up to meet the Pidgey head on.
And with that I’ve read through all the chapters you set up when you first posted this fic to TR! As an introduction, I think it works to give an idea of Sam’s character and the kinds of challenges he’ll face. Like I’ve said, I get the impression already that he doesn’t always fully get the stakes of the situations he ends up in: he’s very reckless and somewhat principled and this will definitely cause problems later when he gets into situations he won’t get bailed out from. The stuff going on with the voices also works as good intrigue, as there are several uncertainties regarding the nature of what they’ve said and who they’re saying it to. As far as prose goes, that’s not my specialty, though I will say that you use ellipses perhaps a little bit too much, particularly in dialogue. Using ellipses too much can create issues with the flow of the narrative, as it reads as a very long stop compared to a comma, which in some instances might work better for what you’re going for.

Otherwise, I think that’s everything I have to say! Chapter V ends on the note that we’ll get to see more of this world, and a tease that the story is just beginning, and it felt like a good place to stop: I see why you chose these chapters to upload in bulk. I’ll definitely keep an eye on this fic, and I will see you again when I eventually come back to it!
 

Spiteful Murkrow

Busy Writing Stories I Want to Read
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Partners
  1. nidoran-f
  2. druddigon
  3. swellow
  4. quilava-fobbie
  5. sneasel-kate
Heya, it's been -checks notes- almost 9 months since I reviewed this story, though I suppose between that V-Wheel review and Review Blitz, that now's as good a time as any to jump in. I'll be doing two chapters tonight, since it felt more than a little cheap to turn in a V-Wheel review over less than 2500 words.

Alright, enough talking, first up is:

Chapter XIII

Totally a good omen already from that title.
:copyka:


Sam's response was twofold. First, kicking his feet into the ground, he leapt to the side, trying to escape the maddened Pokémon trying to kill him. The second was to attempt to cry out in shock.

Instead, it came out as more of a scream.

Ah right, the last time I was reading, Sam was about to become dog food. I suppose that explains the chapter title and why we're opening with him
:AAAAAA:
-ing his lungs out.

The Electrike flew past, teeth snapping as it skidded to a halt, turning once more to face the Scorbunny. Once more, Sam tried to raise his hands, beg for them to s-

And again, Sam was forced to leap back, his heart pounding in his ears as the bloody, stained teeth of the electric type tried to clamp down on him. Okay – he's not listening!

Aidan: "Sam, it's a feral. What on earth did you think it was going to do?" >_>;
Sam: "Not this, okay?!"
:grohno~2:


Skidding back, Sam snarled, rubbing his feet into the ground, the heat in his chest already began to flare as he drew on those emotions. Alright, big guy! If you won't listen – take this!
Some small tweaks that I'd suggest here. Though I did a double-take at the mental image of a little bunny rabbit snarling.

With the state of the dungeon, the ground was littered with pebbles, and with a sharp cry, Sam booted one of them, the stone igniting instantly as the Ember flew towards the Electrike. The canine's didn't even blink as it danced off to one side, the fireball flying past and across the dungeon. Sam could only blink, trying to boot annother Ember off before the canine flashed the remaining distance, slamming into him with a painful crack.

Air rushed out of Sam's lungs as his head cracked against the ground. C-Come on! Enough with the head already!

He rolled back and out of the way, just in time for the Electrike to fly face first into the ground. Back on his feet, Sam's lips instinctively peeled back into a smirk, Now's my chance!

IMO, your second paragraph works better as two paragraphs. Though it sounds like Sam's well on his way to getting a TBI at this rate.

Sam: "Wait, Aidan? Where are you anyways? I swear you were just right there last chapter!" O_O;

But didn't go for another Ember, instead, he charged back at the Electrike, willing the emotions to burn, willing himself to hit faster, hit hard-

The world flashed for just a second, Sam finding himself lunging forward faster than his legs seemed able to take him. He blinked to find the green Pokémon cartwheeling back, his white and red foot hanging in mid-air almost comically where it once stood. Q-Quick Attack?!, a little bit of pride beating in his chest. Heh, finally, I'm starting to get the hang of this.

Ah yes, the part where Sam literally punts a puppy. >:V

Sam: "Look, it was rabid and trying to eat my face, okay?!" O_O;

Only then did he kick out another Ember, this time catching the canine in the flank. A bestial roar pounded at his ears as the fireball detonated in a puff of smoke, the Electrike skidding further back to the edge of the pool. Panting, Sam gulped down air, letting his aching lungs recover as he slowly approached, keeping that warmth burning within him in case he needed to retaliate again. The Pokémon's eyes were shut though, his breathing rapid but regular at the very least… Did… did I knock him out?

Sam: "Also, seriously Aidan. A little help would've been nice back there." >_>;

It was that moment that Aidan's head poked out of the water, a little grin on his face. "Sorry I took so long, somehow they managed to weigh this thing down wi-" His eyes widened at the sight of the Electrike, "What the- Sam are you okay?! Who the hell is this guy!?"

He turned back towards him, the Froakie's body stiffening. Sam could only roll his eyes, throwing a hand randomly in the air.

"Oh yeah, just had to fight some crazed electric type whilst you were diving."

Right, that's why Aidan wasn't there. I forgot about that.

Aidan: "At least all's well that ends well?" ^^;
Sam: "..."
:eltyunamused:


Before the Froakie stiffened any more, Sam flashed a wink. "A little ruffled up but I'm fine. You got the Dynis?"

The smile returning, Aidan lifted up the glowing crystal, flickering with it's rainbow colouration in his hand. "I'd say that is mission accomplished, but to the looks of things, it seems like we've got this guy to deal with."

He narrowed his eyes, gaze drifting towards the downed Electrike's arm. "Hey… what team is he fr-"

The Electrike's bloodshot eyes snapped open.

Well then, I wasn't expecting that. I guess that fainting as a state isn't terribly long-lived in this setting, which would probably explain a thing or two about why those bandits in the opening chapters were killing off their robbery victims.

Shit! The Electrike's eyes snapped back towards the water, with Aidan settled right into it. Sam immediately saw the danger.

"A-Aidan! Get out of the water!" Sam ordered, breaking out into a sprint towards them.

Aidan's eyes widened, the reality dawning as he reached for the water's edge, ready to throw himself out. But it was already too late, the blue crackles of energy flickering around the Electrike as it rolled back upright, the blue beam of energy blasting out of it's mouth and straight at the water.

Well. Things are just going peachy for these two, huh? Though that makes me wonder if shoving the Electrike into the water would count as using Soak or not. Though what attack was the Electrike using there anyways?

Aidan didn't stand a chance, the pool of water flashing with blue and white light as the Froakie tried to leap out of the water, only to get zapped just as suddenly. His eyes widened, pupils turning to pinpoints as he tried to scream, his mouth frozen in place even as his body jerked wildly out of control.

As the electrical attack faded away, the bruised and charred Froakie flopped back into the water face first with a soft splash.

Aidan: "Ow." X_X
Sam: "Look, he was down just a minute ago!"
:eltyscared:


In that second, that warmth in Sam's chest turned into an inferno. His entire body flared up as if his body was on fire, raw anger taking over as the Scorbunny's eyes flashed red. "Get away from him, you imbecile!" he roared, leaping for the Electrike.

I'm not sure if I'm really feeling "imbecile" here as the thing that Sam is shouting at this Electrike that is very obviously not right in the head and went for his throat like a minute ago. Maybe something like "freak" would feel a bit more thematically fitting?

A flicker of fear flashed across the Electrike's eyes as the Quick-attacking rabbit slammed into him, the duo sliding across the cave floor. The canine tried to push itself back up, only for a white hand to fly into his face. Sam screamed, his lungs burning as he threw another punch, his mind focused on one thing. Keeping this damn freak away from his friend. He threw another punch, then another, the Electrike whimpering from the unpowered punches. Kicking himself away, Sam dragged his foot back, setting a pebble aflame and kicking it up into the air.

"Why don't you piss. OFF!"

Well, ferals in this setting have apparently retained enough cognizance to be afraid of pain, at least. Though that's actually making me wonder if they can be "snapped out" of their state or not.

The Ember flashed as it flew straight down for the electric type, a surprised cry barely reaching the Scorbunny's ears before the fireball struck their side with an almighty bang and a sharp flash of light and smoke.

The green canine sailed across the chamber and straight into the crumbling rock walls with a horrible thud. An even louder snap rang out as the Electrike slid down into a battered heap, the boulders in the wall breaking and grumbling as the ground softly quaked. The power within Sam chilled in an instant, the anger washing away as he steadied himself. Oh no… no…

Sam: "Seriously, can't I get a single break in this freaking dungeon?!"
:grohno~2:


But then, the quaking ceased. And silence reigned.

Then the struck section of wall collapsed. Rock and earth dropping and crumpling into a pile at the foot of the rest of the intact wall. Some of the earth was shoved onto the downed Electrike, not enough to bury it, but enough to keep it pinned.

Not that it mattered, as the chamber fell silent again, the Electrike's eyes shut as its chest slowly rose and fell. This time, it was definitely out for the count.

Sam: "Okay, now the crazy electrodog is down. Though are you doing alright, Aidan?" Aidan:
Image

Sam: "A-Aidan?"
:uhhh:


Spinning on his heel, Sam shot towards the pool, Aidan's body still bobbing up and down in the water. Almost quite literally throwing himself into the water, the Scorbunny bit off the sudden chill and grabbed onto the Froakie's arm.

"Aidan!?" Sam shouted, tightening his grip on the limb and shaking it, "Come on mate! Say something!"

Wow, it's almost literally the Pinocchio gif. Though yeah, I figured that Aidan would be having problems right about now.

The limb stiffened in the Scorbunny's paw… and a swarm of bubbles rose to the surface around the Froakie's head. In the two seconds it took to confuse the rabbit with his cocked head, Aidan finally jerked back upright, eyes wide as he gasped in a breath.

"Holy crap that was a shock!"

Sam snapped back with a huff, half out of relief, half out of concern and mixed in with no small amount of confusion. He shook his head, shoving the confusion aside, "Puns aside, you alright?"

Aidan has his priorities straight here, I see.

"P-Pun? Err… yeah, I'm fine!" He said happily, a giant grin spread across his face. "That was a rush alright!"

The Froakie puffed out a whistle… and immediately began to sink, his free hand grabbing onto the Scorbunny's arm.

"Okay… rush over, that hurt. A lot." He winced, struggling to stay afloat as Sam slung one of Aidan's arms over his shoulder. "Hang on buddy, let's get you out of the water." He stressed, only to pause as something dawned upon him.

Aidan forgot to bring an Escape Orb, didn't he? Since this feels like it's building up to a moment like that.

Aidan's struggling to float. So how…

Sam immediately looked down just as he sensed that his feet weren't on the ground, but very slowly kicking away underneath him, keeping him upright. In the corner of his eye, it was obvious that Aidan had seen it too, his yellow eyes flickering round towards him.

"Okay." Sam stated woodenly. "Turns out I can swim."

Aidan: "This would've been nice to know before I left you on shore, you know!" >.<
Sam: "Look, this is a shock to me, too, okay?" ._.;

Together, the two swam back over to the water's edge and pulled themselves out. As Aidan sat back against the rocks shivering, Sam pulled out one of the so-called Oran Berries from his satchel and handed it over.

"Thanks." Aidan said, pulling a weak grin as he gobbled down the blue fruit. Only then did Sam finally relax, letting out a sigh as he managed to pull a grin of his own. "Thought you would have had it then."

"Oh don't worry about me. One electric attack isn't going to kill me." Aidan managed to croak with an injection of humour, still chewing on the oran berry. His eyes drifted past Sam's shoulder. "How the hell did you do that?"

Hrm. Part of me feels like this sequence is flying by a bit too quickly, especially here where Sam is grappling with the aftermath of the fight with the feral Electrike. Like does he have any additional thoughts about his encounter? e.x. is he worried about how frequently this stuff happens? Does he even fully understand what just happened to him? Is he recalling stuff from orientation?

Just feels like a moment where it might have made sense to slow down a little more as Sam and Aidan both get their bearings back.

A red tipped ear dipped an inch, "Oh, the Electrike? I knocked them out with a-"

"Not him. The wall."

Blankly, with his ears dipping even more, Sam turned back towards the wall. The Electrike was still out cold, the pile of rubble was still there. And lo and behold, an new opening within the wall itself.

I… I suppose I missed that when I was trying to help Aidan.

Sam: "I just punted the electrodog into the wall and it kinda... happened, really."
:joltyshrug~1:

Aidan: "How in the hell is that feral still alive after all of that?" .-.
Sam: "I'm actually not sure if it is or not. After everything that happened earlier, I was kinda hoping that it wasn't." ^^;

Shaking his head, he kept his gaze on the wall. "Can… can that happen?"

"Sometimes, with right orb maybe." Aidan said, "But just from a regular move? Never heard of that."

[ ]

"Poor state of the Dungeon?"

"Yeah."

I kinda wonder if we should've seen Sam's mind in action a bit more wondering what happened before settling on his theory, since I was slightly surprised as someone so new to the Pokémon World, that this even occurred to him as a possibility. Though I suppose he might have heard something about this either during his orientation or offscreen.

Rolling his shoulders back, the Scorbunny started towards it. "Wait here, I'll have a look."

He scrambled up the small pile towards the hole, half expecting a new tunnel to run off into the darkness. But he didn't. Instead, he came across a hollow alcove, barely more than a metre across in area, barely lit by the light coming from the main chamber.

And at the bottom, there was a chest. But it wasn't something like those he had seen scattered around Robinswood, with their arched, wooden appearances. No. This one was smaller, rectangular, smoother… and interestingly, made out of metal.

Ah yes, they found a hidden treasure. Though I take it that this isn't just your normal random item to be fished out at Rampardos'.

With a frown on his face, Sam clambered down towards the chest, laying a hand on the cold surface. How long have you been down here… he pondered, blowing off a layer of dust that had build up on the container. Sweeping his fingers around the edge, he found the latch and with his ears perking up with interest, lifted the lid open.

Within one second though, they had immediately dropped back down again. The inside had not faired as well. It was mostly filled with dozens of sheets of paper, all of them half rotted away with all the text on them little more than a smudge.

I suppose the seal must have failed on this thing.

He shoved some of the old paper work aside to reveal a strange, slightly rusted red… cup? Dome? It was hard to say, even as he picked up the strange metallic object, the inside of which was charred black and with the only distinguishing feature being a white, raised circle on one side. Shrugging, Sam shoved the thing into his satchel, and was about to turn away when something flickered underneath the paper. Eyes narrowing, he reached back in again, digging the paper out.

This paragraph in particular feels like it should be in a few smaller parts since there is a lot going on in it. Though ominous chest is ominous here, since I'm getting the distinct vibe that Sam wasn't supposed to find this.

At the bottom of the case, surprisingly undamaged, was a small, sleeveless red jacket and a pair of goggles, supported by some kind of brown… leather? Clothes?

He picked up the small jacket, noting the high collar and it's fairly small size. A weird sense of déjà vu settled over him, as if some memory or feeling was trying to get the Scorbunny's attention. This seems… familiar… why-

I'm surprised that the clothing would stay good if the paper's all rotted away. Or is the idea that the clothes themselves are visibly tattered and decaying?

"Hey Sam!" Aidan called out, "What's taking so long? Are you okay?"

Stiffening up, the feeling dissipated completely. Sam leaned back, "I'm good! Just a chest filled with junk! Mostly!"

"Mostly?"

Sam looked back into the crate, fingers drumming against the fabric before lips peeled back. Well, no one else is picking you up…

Sam, is that thing even wearable anymore? ^^;

Aidan raised a brow as the Scorbunny emerged from the alcove, the little red jacket now resting on his shoulders and the goggles hanging around his neck. Sam flashed a smirk, opening his arms up to show it all off. "Looks like we've found some actual loot after all."

The frog let out a stronger, hearty laugh at that, pushing himself back up to his feet, holding up the Dynis crystal that had been their objective. "All the more worth it then."

Sam: "I don't know how I know it, but I'm getting the distinct feeling that I'm looking awesome right now."
:eltydetermined:


That was when his eyes narrowed, nodding his attention towards the comatose Electrike, still breathing softly at the edge of the pile as Sam clambered back down. "So, what are we doing with him then?"

Sam glanced over at the electric type, just for a moment, a little pang of guilt tugging his guts. "We can't leave him here… he's a Rescuer like us. It's kinda our job."

Is there even anything that they can do for the Electrike in his present state? Since I didn't recall it ever being mentioned in orientation that it was possible to de-feralize a Pokémon.
:copyka2:


"True." Aidan said softly, before immediately raising a hand up, "Not it."

Sam blinked, "Huh?"

"Too late, I'm not carrying him. Besides, I don't have the legs to properly hold him up anyway."

Sam: "Wait, but I thought that we were supposed to have badges that would just whisk Pokémon like these ou-" ._.

Carr-

It dawned on him way too late as the Scorbunny's gaze snapped back down the body of the Electrike on what Aidan meant.

Sam's ears drooped in half immediately, "Aw crap."

Sam: "... On second thought, can we just leave a marker and make him someone else's problem? Since I'm not sure if we even have any restraints for if he wakes up again."
:ohnowen:

Chapter XIV

When they finally emerged from the dungeon, Sam's limbs were half ready to fall off. He panted, each one of his muscles aching as he struggled to at first carry and later drag the Electrike throughout the dungeon and up the last two sets of stairs. Despite his initial digging in the Scorbunny's side, once Aidan had realised how difficult the job actually was, he quite literally hopped into action to help Sam along.

Not that he was much help, Sam would ultimately realise. Having a frog's body wasn't ideal for dragging large weights, meaning it was still mostly up to him to get the comatose canine out.

Aidan: "Sam, can't you go any faster? Just saying, we really, really don't want to be holding this guy when he wakes up."
:ScaredCabot:

Sam: "I wanted to just help a better-prepared team find him, but noooooo..." >_>;

As they emerged under an orange sky, Sam collapsed onto his back side, rolling his shoulders as he tried to shake lose the kinks and cramps that had built up. "Isn't there supposed to be an easy way of doing this?" he panted, staring up at the fluffy clouds above him.

Aidan let out a huff, staring down at the green canine with a narrowed pair of eyes. "With badges… we could just teleport him out."

Aidan and Sam's dialogue should not be mixing paragraphs with each other. Though is that supposed to be 'could've just teleported him out'? Since aren't they out of the Mystery Dungeon now?

Sam's head snapped up, ear cocked to one side as he scanned Aidan's face for any signs of humour or an indication that the Froakie was just pulling his leg. But there was nothing of the sort. Instead, his eyes remained fixed on the canine, pupils now pinpoints as if trying to pierce through the Electrike with his vision alone.

Sitting back upright, a frown began to form on Sam's face. "Aidan? What's up?"

He jerked back upright, eyes flashing back to normal. "Huh?"

Sam: "I mean, you're obviously really high-strung right now. But really, what's going on, Aidan?"

"You seem a little… focused on the guy."

"I am?" Aidan uttered, shaking his head, "Sorry, I thought I recognised him, but… I'm mistaken. Come on, we better get him up to the camp."

:copyka2:


inb4 it turns out that Aidan's feeling was right after all.

[ ]

"By golly! I didn't think you would all look so tired from that!"

Coming from further up the path was a large, brown beaver like Pokémon that towered over the rabbit and frog, two big white teeth hanging out of their mouth that had a piece of straw stuck in between them. Pulling the straw out, he hobbled over at a quicker pace.

"Are you juniors alright? What happened?"

I think that you're missing a paragraph of transition going into Bibarel's line there, especially if Sam and Aidan were in the process of setting off.

"We're fine." Sam stated, nodding towards Aidan before pointing at the fainted Pokémon. "Although we nearly weren't thanks to this guy."

"Huh? Hang on, he's not a teammate?" questioned the Bibarel, his eyes drifting across the gentle breathing body of the Electrike. "Why di- by golly! Zeke!"

Oh, so Aidan was onto something there. Yeah, I'll take the under on this guy ever going back to normal.
:copyber:


Sam nearly flinched, "Uh, what? You know this guy?"

"Yup yup! I do! He was part of Team Nitro; they went missing not long before Broken Woods began to break up. We never could find them."

Stooping over, the Bibarel scooped up the Electrike and slung them over his shoulder, "How did you find him?"

Sam: "Um... well, he was kinda snarling and drooling and tried to rip my throat out a couple times. He... wasn't like that when you last saw him, was he?"
:fearfullaugh~1:

Bibarel: "... No. No he was not."
:FearfulMeowth:


"We didn't." Aidan stated, "He attacked us whilst we were collecting the Dynis."

He flashed a glimpse of the glowing crystal inside his satchel. Barely giving it a nod, the Bibarel turned and got started back up the path, "Well, good job on getting the crystal and helping Zeke here. Yup yup! Maybe we can learn what happened to him and Team Nitro."

As Sam and Aidan scrambled to follow the surprisingly speedy Bibarel up a dusty trail through some more battered trees and rocks, he glanced over his shoulder towards the Scorbunny.

"Name's Oscar by the way! Nice to meet you!"

I'm surprised that the topic of Zeke being feralized hasn't come up at all, since you'd think that that would be a basic safety precaution done when recovering a fainted Pokémon from a Mystery Dungeon. Also would be a chance to point towards whether or not Dungeon Madness in this setting is permanent or not.

Pulling off a sheepish grin, Sam flashed a mock salute, "Sam, I'm the new guy. I guess you probably already know Aidan."

"We've met." Aidan confirmed with a thin smile as the Bibarel let out a hearty laugh, "We have, and by golly, Jack wouldn't stop talking about you."

Sam nearly halted in his tracks, "Jack? You two know each other?"

I'm... not sure if I buy these three just engaging in smalltalk while Zeke is casually passed out there. It might have made sense for them to already start trying to flag down a medic and then chat on the way over or something since you'd think that this would be a fairly grave moment for Oscar here.

"Oh, very well! We met each other over a decade ago, during a transfer between Air and Grass continents when I was at one of the Guilds! Damn, feels like a life time ago now."

Oh, so Oscar used to be Bidoof from Wigglytuff's guild, didn't he? Since boy is that background familiar-sounding.

Brushing a bush aside, they emerged in a clearing just before another cave entrance, the second dungeon, Sam imagined. Only this time, there were little more than half a dozen tents set up around a campfire. Tepees, Sam would realise, given their cone like shapes that rose well above the two smaller Pokémon's heads.

"Well, I better try and check this guy over once he's secured. You two go on further in and pick a tent, a few of the other rookies got here before you and are by the fire."

You'd think that Oscar would give Sam and Aidan more of an earful for bringing a feralized Pokémon out of a Mystery Dungeon, though I suppose he never did explicitly ask what Zeke's condition was coming out of the Mystery Dungeon, so...

As Oscar moved as fast as he could towards the largest of the tents gathered, while Aidan led the way further into the campsite towards the fireplace. And yet, Sam could already sense his muscles tensioning at the combined sight of the BunearyAlice, the NoibatNia, and the Morpeko.

But he visibly relaxed at the sight of Alice's eyes being closed, sat down against a log with her head resting against it as Nia let rip gave a giant grin, flapping up a wing to try and shakingly wave over at them.

"Hey! You two made it!" she exclaimed, only for a little frown to form. "Hey, what's wrong."

Some suggestions for formatting tweaks. Though unless if your story uses HoC/PoV-esque naming conventions, you want to indicate more of a break in the species/naming list. Or else do a format like "Alice the Buneary, Nia the Noibat, [etc]".

Sam couldn't help but pull an embarrassed grin as Aidan looked back at him with a flicker of surprise. Namely at his paws stuck in his long ears.

"Sorry, just… please don't deafen me."

The bat Pokémon's face relaxed as she let out a little giggle. "Oh don't worry!" she stressed, "I'm not a Loudred."

It might make sense to say "smile" instead of "grin" here given that you used that exact same word for a smile all of two short paragraphs ago. Also, not being a Loudred is kinda a low bar to cross for arguing that you're not that loud, Nia. >:V

"Only in the mornings." The Morpeko mused, juggling an apple in their little paws. "It's why I still wear earmuffs to bed."

Nia laughed again, nudging the guinea pig shaped partner. "Come on Dan, I'm not that loud."

Aha, I see that we have a name for our Morpeko buddy here.

The Morpeko could only shiver as Sam plopped himself down on a small boulder by the fire, Aidan hopping atop of on the logs. The two putting the fire in between them and the sleeping Buneary. In that moment, Sam figured he might as well spare Dan – and himself – more eardrum-bursting related memories.

"So, you guys managed to find a Dynis too?" With a look of relief written across his face, Dan pulled out a similarly sized glowing crystal from behind his own seat.

"First floor, believe it or not. And we didn't have to fight that much of anything. Just a couple of Patrats."

Sam: "So. Um... are all the Pokémon in Mystery Dungeons out for blood or something? And just how long does it take to become like that again?" .-.
Nia: "... Wasn't this mentioned during orientation? And what brings this up anyways, Scorbunny?"
:what:


The Morpeko must have noticed Sam's narrowing eyes, as soon enough, the electric Pokémon was quickly backpedalling, "They were feral mon's, don't worry."

Just waiting for that horrified "... wait a minute" to click in Sam's mind right about now.

He held his gaze for a moment, before finally willing himself to relax again. He just had to take the electric type for his word. He only relaxed further as the heat from the fire began to soak in to his fur and through to his skin.

Alas, no:
Image


moment for Sam realizing the potential origin of those Patrat. Or at least not yet.

Next up was Bruce's team, the Bulbasaur flashing a massive grin. That was, of course, only for about five seconds before it quickly melted away as his big red eyes scanned over at the two assembled teams.

"Seriously?! You got here before we did!?"

"Yes Bruce. You were painfully slow." Alice quietly said, her eyes drifting open as she pulled that same, sly grin that she flashed to the Scorbunny on those crates. He felt a shiver run down the back of his neck, watching the scene unfold.

Was… was Alice awake the whole time?

Alice: "... Yes? Are you really that unobservant, Sam?"
:eltywtf:


Thankfully, Bruce finally rolled his eyes, and settled himself down.

One by one, other Pokémon started wandering into the camp. Sam counted them, trying to see who else had made it. Each team proudly showing off the Dynis crystal they had recovered. But soon enough, the final group composed of Edward and Denver, the Skiddo and Skorupi respectively, wandered into the camp, their own glowing gem cradled in the bug-type's claws.

Sam flashed a small grin at their arrival, feeling himself shrug off another layer of the cooling air. It was a relief to see everyone had got up without any real issue at all beyond a few scuffles. If anything, Sam and Aidan had seen gone through the most action, at least in terms of difficulty.

- peeks back up at the chapter title -

Okay, so what exactly is going to go south in about 5 minutes here?
:copyka:


It was only then did he finally realise how late it was, as the sun began to dip below the horizon. He looked up to find the sun slowly beginning to dip below the horizon through the trees, the air already starting to cool even faster than before. Were they higher up? He supposed it made some sense after climbing up all those stairs.

As if on cue, Esper, Jack and the Rhydon finally emerged from the darkening trail, their eyes faintly glinting in the remaining light. "I see you have all made it." Esper stated warmly, her eyes settling onto Sam, "And with fresh loot."

I suppose that's one way to tell that Oscar never informed them about Zeke, since you'd think that they'd have more to say about him otherwise.

The Scorbunny blinked, glancing round himself until he finally realised what she meant. He immediately tugged his new red jacket closer in, "Err… finders' keepers? I just came across it in the dungeon."

He flinched as the Meowstic let out a quiet, but warming laugh. "Oh, you don't have to worry about that. If you find anything useful, please, keep it. It may prove useful later. Although I suspect that jacket and googles are… probably just cosmetic."

That didn't earn much more than a shrug from Sam, letting out a puff of foggy air. After fighting the Electrike, he very much didn't want to start losing his own real possessions now.

Sam: "Heh! I could get used to this!"
:eltydetermined:


"Yup yup! Seems like everyone's all back together!" Oscar announced, balancing a few woven bags on his tail and in his paws. "You guys didn't have any issue coming up here?"

Yup, he's totally Bidoof all grown up. Though I'm honestly surprised that he isn't bringing up Zeke being fished out of the Mystery Dungeon at all, since you'd think that that would be a big deal for him even if he's completely in the dark about his feralization.

Jack let out a buzz as he settled down on the ground, his wings somehow a little bit brighter in the dark. "Not a problem at all! Not much to find though, that wasn't really cool."

A toothy grin emerged as the Bibarel lowered the bags to the ground, "It's not much, I'm not the cook back home but I've got a bit of food all here for you. Help yourselves."

A few of the recruits cheered with delight as they started to scramble for the bags, only for Bruce's green vines to reach across and wrap round some of the bags themselves.

"I'll help." He declared, lifting a couple of the bags and bringing them back across the campsite to drop them alongside his teammates. As the closest members picked up their own bags, Bruce lifted the remainder to the rest. Sam took his own bag with one hand, starting to open it up to check the contents as Oscar straightened up.

"Esper? Can you folks just come with me one moment? I need to check something over with you."

Ah. I think the implication is that Oscar was keeping quiet about Zeke's status in order to not freak out the other newbies. Or at least that's the vibe that I'm getting rn. I do wonder if this could've been telegraphed a bit more either in his earlier dialogue or else little cues about his behavior that indicate that he's putting up a front or something like that.

Glancing back over the group once more, Esper turned to look up at him, "Of course."

As the four Rescuers departed, night fully settled in, with the glow of the fire now providing the main bulk of the light. Stars began to twinkle in the sky, as a low murmur began to settle over the group.

"Hey, Sam." Bruce asked, as the rabbit reached into his sack, "Where did you find that stuff?"

Sam barely hesitated, "I just found it in a cave." He explained, pulling out a chunk of bread and starting to nibble at it. "Half the wall just came down in a fight and there it was."

Bruce: "... How on earth did you manage that?"
Sam: "I kicked one of those 'ferals' into it really, really hard?"
:joltyshrug~1:


"Never seen anything like it." Aidan added, already munching on… what looked like an orange? "It's probably just the dungeon falling apart, nothing fancy."

>dungeon falling apart

That actually makes me wonder what happens to the contents of MDs that vanish. Or at least if Aidan is right about that being a possibility, anyways.

"You've been in a dungeon before?" asked the Skiddo, sitting down on the ground rather than the logs and rocks themselves.

Aidan nodded, taking pulling a slice of orange free before tossing it down his mouth. "A couple of times. By accident of course." He added that last statement with a flicker of haste.

It was absolutely not by accident. I can already tell.

In the corner of his eye, Alice rolled her eyes. Less from annoyance and more detached amusement, judging by her relaxed posture. "I wouldn't be surprised if that dungeon collapses at some point this year." She said, arms resting behind her head as she looked up at the night sky. "Honestly, I don't know why we are training here."

Sam: "Huh? But if it's not going to be here next year, isn't that all the more reason to see it before it's gone?"

"They're pretty much the easiest set of dungeons close to town." Aidan explained, examining one of the orange slices.

"I know." Alice replied, not even raising her voice or disguising it. "Doesn't mean it's not dangerous."

Swallowing down a bread fragment, Sam leaned forward, "Have you been in a dungeon before Alice?"

I think that Alice is missing a 'not' in her dialogue. Since I'm pretty sure that she's meant to be disagreeing with Aidan here, but the lack of 'not' turns it into agreement with him.

The Buneary didn't say anything at first, her eyes still fixed on the sky. But as Sam began to turn away, she finally spoke, in a quiet, it was barely above a whisper.

"A couple of times. Not by accident."

The Scorbunny felt himself deflate a touch, there wasn't a hint of malice or disgust in Alice's voice. Was…. Was that sadness?

Oh, so this is directly related to why nobody wants to team up with Alice, huh?

But before he could say anything else, Nia immediately perked up, "All the better to have that experience on hand then!" she cheered, eyes shining in the light of the fire.

Even from his position, it was easy to tell that Alice had already rolled her eyes again. And with that, the moment was gone.

"Not like we need much help!" Bruce said, rubbing his front feet into the ground as he let slip a grin. "That dungeon was still a piece of cake."

Yeah, yeah, I'm sure that Zeke and Team Nitro thought that themselves once upon a time, Bruce.

"You don't want to underestimate a dungeon." Aidan warned, his eyes narrowing a bit. "Even a dying one can still hit you hard. Never mind the time distortion ideas of old," he added with a shiver, earning a glance from Sam.

Time being distorted was something that squeezed at his heart, but his mind was mainly fixed on that memory of Aidan being zapped by that electric attack still made his hand twitch a bit as Aidan got up to his feet.

"I'm just going to put our bags away; I'll be right back."

Wait, I'm not sure if I follow why Sam would be so personally affected by the idea of time being screwy unless that's meant to be deliberate foreshadowing. Is he meant to have more of a sense of being puzzled or curious or something like that?

As Sam watched the Froakie disappear into the darkness of the camp, the little Noibat was rubbing her paws together, bringing her wings comically close together. "Well, anyone got any good stories about the dungeons?"

"Just don't give me anything about time problems." Dan said, trembling a bit where he sat.

[ ]

"I actually know a story about Broken Woods actually."

See above. Unless there's a specific reason for Sam to be so affected by the idea of time problems, it probably makes sense for him to wonder why the others seem to be reacting to the mention like this.

Everyone's eyes drifted towards the Edward the Skiddo, his black eyes drifting across the group. "Well, it's more of a myth than anything else."

"Oh, let's hear it!" Nia squealed, "Has to be pretty awesome right?"

"Or plain tragic." Alice grumbled, earning a glare from Bruce as she propped herself up to listen. Edward however merely tilted his head as he shuffled forward.

"Well… a very long time ago, off the written records and long before the modern settlements formed on the Continents… back before Broken Wood became what it is today, there was supposed to be a cave," Edward said. "A cave that constantly changed even though it was impossibly deep. Probably some kind of proto-dungeon well before the actual ones we knew showed up. If it was an actual Mystery Dungeon, then the inhabitants of the Sea of Wonders barely knew anything about them."

[ ]

"Anyway, Explorers would constantly delve through it, trying to get a sense of the layout of the place, or of what treasures might have been inside."

Edward's story is long enough that you probably want to break it up into at least two parts and have Sam react to a few things, since there's some new pieces of information coming out here, and it might make sense to show how he's parsing them.

"I'm guessing it was the Talonflames and the Corviknights that were mainly doing the exploring right?" Sam asked, leaning forward again and perking his ears up.

Edward shook his head, "Not all of them. A few other species went in too. But the teams couldn't make much progress. Eventually however, more Pokémon got drawn to the site. Looking to discover something or descend deeper into the depths."

As the goat-like Pokémon continued, his voice lowered a bit, became more resonant as he told the story, luring the gathered Pokémon even closer in.

"Eventually, some children, inspired by the early Explorer's efforts, decided to go into the cave when no one was looking. No quite knows how, but then ended up travelling deeper down than anyone had ever gone before. So deep did they go, that the dungeon ended up… growing."

Dan blinked, holding an apple especially close to his mouth, "Growing?"

I'm pretty sure that Edward's line is meant to end as a statement and not a question given the surrounding context. Also threw in a few formatting suggestions.

"It was… as if the dungeon went on for miles beyond the woods all together. But the teams, unbowed, when underground to try and rescue the children. But as they did, following the calls of the children, each rescue team was forced to withdraw, fighting Pokémon darker and stronger than they had ever expected."

Oh, well this story is going places fast. I can already tell that it's going to get really morbid in short order.

Edward fell silent for a moment, letting the silence settle across the campfire before finally speaking again, "With the children's cries growing ever more desperate, the Pokémon of the island didn't know how best to proceed, until a Lapras arrived on the shoreline, carrying two Pokémon on it's back: a Lucario and a Zoroark. The villagers who lived close to the cave didn't not recognise the newcomers, but they did know of the emblem they carried. A sharp cross, emboldened with a tear in front of it. According to the myths, they were known as Guardians."

"Guardians?" Sam mused, his mind trying to imagine the scene of the two arriving. "Guardians of what?"

Oh, this is Lucario the Hero in this setting, isn't it?

"No one knows." Edward stated, his voice remaining low and poetic. "But the Guardians were honoured and revered amongst Pokémon of the Sea of Wonders. They elected to descend into the depths, and find the children. And so, they did. They entered that cave alone, carrying between them only their Guardian scarves and their packs. A few rescue teams attempted to follow them… but they could keep up… and soon, the Lucario and the Zoroark disappeared into the darkness."

Closing his eyes for a moment, he took a breath, and the goat continued, "Two days later, the villagers returned to the cave to find the children back outside the cave. Shaken, wet and covered in blood, but otherwise alive. But the Guardians… were never seen again. All the children had in their possession was a single egg. An egg that was collected by another, unknown Guardian before they went back out to sea. The children never spoke about what happened in the depths, and the Guardian took steps to seal the cave for good."

Well then. I had a feeling that the story wasn't going to have a happy ending, but at least it could've been worse? ^^ Though I just realized... given that these guys were called 'Guardians' and the title of this story, I assume that means that this isn't the last that we've heard of them in this fic.

He fell silent again, each of the Pokémon showing a different reaction. Dan quivered further, Nia's eyes brightened, Bruce looked disturbed and Alice… just looked indifferent.

"According to myth, Broken Wood is right on top of where the old cave used to be, which at some point vanished, the old region became known as it is today, and the modern dungeon appeared decades after. But even so… there have been sightings of a shadow, drifting through the trees or chambers of the area around and in the dungeon," he said. "And occasionally… a cloaked figure can be seen laying a flower at a seemingly random spot in the Wood… before just quickly vanishing… and even now, you can hear the old echoes of the children's cries reaching out through the earth… as if a part of the Pokemon's souls still lingers here..."

Sam: "Whelp, so much for sleeping well tonight."
:uhhh:


As the silence settled down again, Sam waited for the Skiddo, but he didn't, and it became apparent that the story was over. Nia immediately opened up her wings, a giant grin written on her face.

"That. Is. Awesome! I mean, guardians! Giant dungeons? It's one cool legend alright!"

Bruce let out a heavy sigh, "Nia, I think sometimes you get too excited about horror stories."

Nia, you live in a Pokémon story. It literally took over 25 years for us to finally get a canonical legend that wasn't ultimately at least mostly accurate. Maybe you should be a bit less chipper about this right now.
:copyka:


"Or think they are real." Alice groaned, arms crossed where she sat, "It all sounds like a bunch of hogwash really. These 'Guardians' were probably just some skilled Pokémon who went down into a cave and stopped some kids sliding off a cliff."

Sam merely shrugged, still playing the story in his head, "Well, if it got told down to today… then there has to be some basis of truth in it in, right?"

>laughs in Teal Mask

Though on balance, Sam is indeed correct with his train of thought for this franchise, yes.

Alice glared at him, harshly enough for the Scorbunny to tear his eyes away, "Just focus on the actual facts rather than possibilities. It'll do you more good."

Dan sheepishly raised a paw up, "I-I think it's a good thing it's just a story. I'd rather not have to hear any kids crying out to me for help down there an-"

That was when the hands shot out of the darkness and clamped down onto the Morpeko's ears. His eyes flashed as let out an almighty squeal, leaping off his log almost comically into the air before landing face first in front of the fire. A few surprised gasps rang out, and Sam had already sprung to his feet, ready to dash across in a he-

The familiar, croaky laugh echoed across the campfire.

"Oh by Arceus! Ha! You should have heard yourself!"

Alice: "Aidan, that wasn't funny!"
:REElithe:

Aidan: "Oh lighten up, Alice. It was just a prank."

Aidan emerged back into the light, tears actually forming in his eyes as he struggled to control his laughter, coming around the log. "Damn it Aidan!" Alice snarled, also on her feet as well, both ears tucked in.

"Did you have to scare the shit out of him!?"

The Froakie finally calmed down, visibly clamping his mouth shut before taking in a breath. "S-Sorry, I just heard what you all were talking about and… well… couldn't help myself." His lips tightened as he closed his mouth, chest fluttering as if trying to fight off another chuckle as he reached a hand down to Dan. Looking up, Dan took it and was quickly pulled off to his feet.

"I-It's fine." He stated with a shaky grin, "I-It's actually kind of funny actually."

That... did not sound like Dan was fine with things there, just saying.

Sighing, Sam could only shake his head with a thin smile. It was a little bit too much for Aidan to do, but at least it was just in jest. Dan himself was even starting to chuckle with some encouragement from Nia. Only Alice didn't relax, her arms crossed again as she glared at the Froakie.

Alice… what bad thing can you see in him? If such a thing is there?

IMO, Sam's thought probably sounds a bit smoother formatted as something more like:

Alice... what do you see in Sam's that’s so bad? Is there even anything?

But that's just me.

As the group settled back down again, Esper reappeared at the edge of the campfire. Her yellow eyes almost shining in the light of the fire. "I hope you are all doing well." She stated, "Oscar already told me you have all found a Dynis."

"We have." Aidan confirmed, settling back down on his own seat next to Sam. The Meowstic nodded, "Good. Tomorrow, we'll be aiming to get the second trial done and, if possible, the third one. So, I'd recommend you get a good night's sleep before tomorrow, we'll be getting up early."

And without another word, Esper vanished back into the campsite, and with a yawn, Bruce picked himself up. "Well, I don't know about you, but I'll be calling in."

And no mention of Zeke again. I can't tell if that's deliberate on Esper's part or a plot oversight there.

"I'm going to do the same." Edward declared, also rising. "I have a feeling tomorrow is going to be more difficult."

One by one, the recruits began to rise to their feet and head off to the tents. Aidan himself giving Sam a pat on the shoulder, "Staying out for a bit longer?"

Hesitating, Sam nodded, "Yeah. Just figured I'd enjoy the view."

"Fair enough. If I'm not awake, I'll see you tomorrow."

- Sam lets out a tired yawn -
Sam: "Whelp, that was a nice chapter. Though it's time to-"
- Sam peeks down at the following paragraphs -
Sam: "Wait, huh? There's still more to this chapter? But what? There's nothing left for us to do right now... is there?" .-.

The Froakie joined the others, and soon enough, all that was left was Sam… and Alice. She stared down into the fire, eyes blank as if she was searching for something flickering in the flames.

I… I wasn't expecting Alice to stay up.

Shuffling his feet, Sam debated just getting up and leaving, but as if some invisible force was holding him in place, suggesting he say something. Taking a breath, he finally spoke.

inb4 something really is holding him in place and suggesting he speak up, since I could've sworn there was a scene in an earlier chapter that implied something like that was actively going on with Sam.

"So… you've been around here for long?" Sam asked, sheepishly rubbing the back of his head. Alice herself continued staring down into the fire, almost as if she hadn't heard him. He was nearly about to stand up when she finally spoke. "You can say that."

He sat back down, "Huh, well, how long ex-"

"Look." She growled, now turning to face him proper. "I know what you are trying to do. You are trying to understand me. Try and get to know me. Maybe if you are really naïve, you are probably wanting to be a friend, right?"

Sam: "
Image

Look, I can take a hint, alright? And you kinda seemed like you didn't really want many friends from us." >_>;

"Alice… I was just asking a question…"

"And I don't want to answer it." she countered, eyes narrowing. "I'm not here to make friends. I'm just here to clear the training and do a job. That's it."

Yeah, see above.

Her features softened, "It'd be better for you if you just left me alone."

Before Sam could even reply, she rose to her feet, hopped over the log, and off into the mass of tents.

Right, that 'team-killer' shtick or whatever it is that Alice has got going on that makes her unpopular with her peers. Just how many other teams has she screwed over up to this point? .-.

And soon enough, he was all alone, staring at where Alice had disappeared. Alice… what happened to make you like this? he questioned asked himself.

He slid down to the ground and with his back pressed to the back of the log, looked up towards dark sky, the faint twinkle of stars still present. His mind drifted back to Edward's tail… about those Guardians. Of how they went into a dark place and never returned. And those kids…

He dug his digits deeper into the ground beneath him, breathing out another cloud of foggy air and watching it rise upwards towards the sky. It only added to his concerns… what was so dark about the world to leave Pokémon in such a state? Hostile, broken or just distant? Or outright dead?

The answer, even as he eventually left the fire for the tent, felt painfully out of reach.

Sam: "Actually, why am I even so hung up about this? Since at the rate things are going, I'm pretty sure that ignorance is going to be bliss compared to whatever the actual answer is."
:grohno~2:

Alright, and made it to the end. It really has been too long since I picked this story up. The general sweep of it is pretty strong, even if we're still in "getting to know the world" mode. We got Sam into his first more normal fight that doesn't require him to be bailed out from murderous Outlaws, along with a glimpse at how Dungeon Madness works in this world and an ominous folktale that is totally going to become relevant at some point in the near future, plus the hint that something's up with Alice. All-in-all, not bad for what's essentially an introductory arc.

I did have a few bones to pick with parts of these two chapters. Some of it was relatively small stuff such as phrasing, noticing verb tense errors, or paragraph formatting to break down big blocks of text. There was one issue that I felt was more structural, which has to do with the fate of Zeke, since based off the closer of Chapter XIV, I got the vibe that Sam was meant to be more bothered by what happened, but he basically just gets shunted to the side the moment Sam and Aidan meet Oscar, and in a way that I'm not sure really tracks given that you'd think that coming across a 'mon that's been missing for forever and potentially permanently lost his mind would be a bigger deal and it'd reflect a bit more on Oscar and the others' mannerisms even if they were deliberately trying to hide things from the newbies to keep them from freaking out.

I Hope the feedback was helpful @StolenMadWolf . There's a few rough edges here and there, but on balance, this story still has the charm that I remembered of it the last time, which is probably a sign to come back to it again sometime a bit sooner than this most recent gap. ^^
 
Chapter II.XIV - Partners

StolenMadWolf

Loony Moony
Pronouns
He/They
POKÉMON MYSTERY DUNGEON
GUARDIANS OF BALANCE

EPISODE II – DARK, WONDEROUS PAST
CHAPTER XIV – PARTNERS

The three Pokémon worked their way through the forest, with the Sobble Kyra leading the way. She kept her eyes focused forward, moving through a trail that Sam could barely notice through the undergrowth. Both Kyra and the Grookey Denzel moved at a fair pace, forcing the Scorbunny to focus on keeping up rather than checking out his surroundings. He tried to spare a thought to the fate of his fellow Rescuers. He could only hope that they were either able to get away or were spared by the pirates.

And if the bodies in the grove were any indication, Calvin was at the most risk of the lot. He was a fire-type like him. Like them. He was a powerful one too, would they risk capturing him?

Sam had been lucky to have been thrown overboard, otherwise, he could have met the same fate as the other, if not at the hands of the pirates, then definitely at the hands of this Blackaxe character.

He squeezed his fists tight at the last words he heard before being tossed into the water. Greg sends his regards… the bandit leader who nearly killed him three separate times was not only alive, but he was with the pirates. There was no doubt about it. They must have recruited him after taking the Daywalker, and if some random pirate recognised him…

Do the pirates know who I am?

The Scorbunny fought off a shiver, if that was true, Sam had an even bigger target on his back. Who knows what Greg had said about him? What about Alice? Would they recognise her too?

He wanted to kick something hard, only the rapid pace of the two tribesmon stopping him from doing so. I need to try and find the others with the help of this tribe, then I can worry about the pirates.

Kyra slowed to a halt as they reached a fork in the grassy trail, the Sobble frowning as she inspected them. Denzel stopped next to her, rubbing the back of his head, "You can't be thinking about that shortcut right?"

"It would cut at least an hour, easy." Kyra replied, "And it's been checked before, all the traps were disarmed."

"Only the ones we could find!"

Biting his lip, Sam skidded to a halt next to them, "What shortcut?"

"It's an old ruin." Kyra explained, "Well, more like a tunnel. It cuts through some of the hills near here."

"And it's not often used." Denzel groaned softly, "It's not in the best condition."

Sam couldn't stop his ears twitching. A ruin, could it be the one they were looking for?

No… that's not what Squishy suggested. It was an Arcanum or something. But who knows what else they might have in there? Maybe there might be a clue to another ruin.

He felt himself shrug, Besides, a shortcut is a shortcut. As long as it doesn't come down on our heads, it's worth at least checking out.

"Well, if it gets us back to your village faster, I say we give it a try." Sam remarked.

"And why am I not surprised." Denzel uttered as he moved ahead, "Come on, I know a quicker way there."

The three Pokémon continued on their way, taking the left path. As they advanced, the grass gave way to beaten dirt and the trail widened. Denzel didn't move anywhere near as fast as Kyra did, but they still moved fast enough that it only took about ten minutes until they arrived. The trio emerged into a small clearing where a large, steep hill formed in front of them, covered in massive trees. But at the foot of the hill was a gaping hole, lined with stone bricks that almost reminded Sam of the temple at Waterfall Mountain, only that this brick was stained brown and green rather than the grey from before. The tunnel entrance was easily about eight feet tall and wide, more than able to accommodate all three Pokémon side by side.

However, the tunnel itself was completely unlit, leading into pitch blackness.

Pins and needles briefly flushed through Sam's arm at the sight, "Is… is there no quicker way?" he asked.

Denzel halted at the threshold of the tunnel, fidgeting with his feet. "Yes… it's not great, I know."

Kyra walked past the pair towards the side of the entrance, "It's not dangerous. Sure, only the rangers use it, but we've used it a couple of times before. Here."

She pulled a large stick out of a rusty basket by the tunnel, one end wrapped in a greasy material. "Sam, you don't mind?"

It took a couple of blinks before the Scorbunny realised what she was asking, "Oh, gotcha."

With a quick spark, the touch lit up, sending a flickering orange light down into the tunnel. Sam carefully took the touch from Kyra, and with a deep breath, the trio slowly walked inside.

The tunnel was silent save for the faint tap of their footsteps, not even the dripping of water or the whisper of wind. The walls themselves were remarkably bare as well and each time Sam felt his eyes flick towards them in search of some kind of marking, he instead found some crack or dent.

"This place looks old." Sam said aloud as they walked onwards, "The Wela Tribe found this place?"

"Our rangers did." Kyra explained, "They managed to get the booby traps disarmed only last year."

Sam felt a small quiver in his throat, "Booby traps?"

Kyra flashed a brief smirk, "Darts. Gravelrocks. Spikes. The usual."

I'm not even sure what counts as usual with these guys!

"We still have to be careful." Denzel replied. "There might still be some traps. You can't trust these old ruins."

Sam's ears pried further as he tilted his head aside, "You make that sound like there are others."

"There's a few of them scattered around the islands." Kyra said, "But the Tapus and Elders have declared them off limits."

"Off limits?"

She sighed softly, pausing for a moment before walking onwards, "I… never understood it. They have been around as far back as the Wela Chronicle goes, built by the 'Champions of the Gods'." She rolled her eyes at her words, "And so they didn't want us desecrating their works."

Sam chewed on his lip, he had no idea who these Tapus and Champions were, and he had a feeling that his guesses could be wrong. Maybe these Champions were just Guardians by another name?

"Even putting aside how significant the ruins are." Denzel replied, "We have no idea what kind of traps are in them."

The Scorbunny slowly nodded as a light appeared at the end of the tunnel. "I… If we get a chance… can we check them out?"

Kyra flashed a sly grin, "If you can help with Blackaxe's pirates, I'll be more than happy to show you. Keep the touch lit, we're only halfway through."

Reaching the end, the three emerged into a large square chamber with beams of light shining down from openings high up the three-story-high walls. At the very centre of the room was a large pit, taking up over half of what the floor itself should be, but still leaving enough floor to leave a comfortably wide ring around it. On the far side of the room was another tunnel entrance.

Sam whistled as he stepped forward, scanning the browning walls of the chamber. They were still bare, much to his disappointment, but even so, he couldn't help but be impressed with the actual structure. "Well… if this is just a shortcut, then the ruins should be quite the sight."

Denzel rubbed his hands together with a tiny smile, "At least from a distance." He started making his way towards the right, "Come on, it is best not to stay here for too long."

He started to follow, but the Scorbunny found himself gravitating towards the pit, unable to contain some morbid curiosity, if only to be distracted from everything that had happened.

That was when he heard a whisper, causing his ears to twitch.

That… that came from above…

"Don't step on that-!"

Sam's foot sank with a soft click.

FUC-

Something wrapped around his leg with a sharp whirl and whipped him off his feet. Sam yelped in shock, dropping the touch as his body raced towards the pit, "Sssssshhhitttt!!!"

"Sam!" Kyra barked.

His legs snapped up, and Sam's world spun upside down as he raced into the air. Only then did the loud ping echo as the rope finally ran out, leaving the Scorbunny dangling above the chamber. Groaning, Sam looked up to find him hanging half a meter below the ceiling, just below the reach of some old roots. His right leg was wrapped up in a tight rope, holding him in place.

"…tile."

Hanging just outside arms reach was Alice, the Buneary hanging upside down herself with her arms crossed.

Sam's heart threatened to burst out of his chest, "Alice!?" he exclaimed, "You made it off the Crow!"

"Only to get stuck here." She grumped with a bored tone.

"Sam! You dead!?" Denzel called out from below, looking up in alarm.

Wincing as the rope dug into his leg, "D-no! We're alright!"

"We?"

Alice looked down and slowly waved, "Heya.". She briefly looked back at him, "New friends of yours?"

"You can say that." Sam said before shouting back down as he motioned with his hands, "Alice, that's Denzel and Kyra, Denzel Kyra, Alice."

Kyra gazed up at the pair, "You came on Sam's boat?"

Alice merely shrugged, "One of our boats, yeah."

"You must have set off a leftover trap!" Denzel called out.

Sam and Alice shared a glance, before looking back down at the Grookey, "No shit." They jointly said.

At that moment, something dawned in the Scorbunny, "Wait a second… how long have you been up here?"

"About half an hour." Alice admitted.

He frowned, "Then why haven't you shook yourself loose?"

"Because of the spikes."

"Spik-"

Sam snapped his head back down towards the pit, where jutting up at the ceiling, he could see the smooth wooden spikes nestled at the bottom.

Directly below them.

"Ah shit…" Sam muttered, suddenly feeling a lump in his throat. "Err… Kyra? Denzel? Please tell me you know how to… you know, get us down?"

Denzel rubbed the back of his head, "I've heard of this trap before, j-just give me a sec!" He reached for the touch, only to recoil at the last moment from the flames. Sighing, Kyra scooped it up, "Just sit tight!" she shouted, "We'll get you down! Denzel?"

"Right, there should be a side passage with the releases." He uttered, as the two tribesmon jogged around to the other side of the pit, "We'll be right back!"

The two entered the second tunnel, leaving the two rabbits all alone.

Sam sighed softly as he gently swung in the air, Great… walked right into my first trap. But…

He looked towards Alice, her arms still crossed as she eyed the tunnel. He caused the rift between them in the first place the moment he held back on his human identity.

I… I need to make things right.

"I…" "I…"

Sam's mouth clamped shut, finding Alice was now staring at him with her mouth agape.

"Look-" "Look-"

Their mouths worked in unison before they cut themselves off, and suddenly feeling cold, Sam started to motion for her to start first, only for Alice to butt in first. "Go ahead."

Sam shook his head, "No, you-"

"Sam-" Alice started countering.

"I put you in this position," Sam replied, firmly holding his hand out to calm her. "You go first."

The Buneary blinked a couple of times, before she undid her arms, closed her eyes and let out a long sigh. "I'm sorry."

Sam's gut fluttered, "Huh?"

Alice's eyes flickered back open, "I… I'm sorry that I tore you down the way I did. I know what it's like to try and hide something about yourself…" her breath went shaky as she tried to continue. "I… I should have realised what you were going through. This mess… it's my fault."

"No Alice!" he exclaimed, shaking his head and instinctively reaching out with his hand for just a moment, "I'm to blame! I should have trusted you in the first place about me… of me…"

His words died in his throat, the Scorbunny's chest tightening.

"Being human?" Alice gently asked.

He slowly nodded, "Y-Yeah. That." Sam replied, pulling a reverse shrug, this was a good start, he needed to keep this up.

"I… I had no idea why I ended up here, with no idea of what this world was like. If I wasn't afraid of what would happen to me, I was afraid of what would happen to everyone else. When Jack blurted out about humans I…" he sighed, feeling himself tremble, "I just…. Thought I had an easy way to get answers. And after what happened I was… angry with myself as much as anyone else."

Alice listened intently to Sam's words before she continued. "I get that." She replied, "Really. I do."

She rested one paw against her shoulder, "You know what happened to my parents. The thing is ever since then I… never really had a lot of social contact."

Sam slowly nodded back at her, "Because of the curse nonsense, right?"

The damn curse. The theory that Alice had something to do with her parent's deaths during the Dark Matter Crisis. Something that had followed her wherever she went.

"Right." She replied, "Every time I ever got close to someone... someone else would reveal what happened and just drive them away. Forced me and my uncle to move on. So I stopped bothering trying to have friends and…"

Wiping her eyes, she forced herself to carry on, and Sam had to resist the urge to swing over to comfort her. "I… don't know how to have friends anymore. I don't know how to help people with stuff like that. I'm only really good at punching stuff."

Sam managed a weak smile, "Well, seems like we're both learning… social stuff…"

Alice half-snorted in amusement, "I suppose you're right there."

She focused her gaze on him, "Sam… you're the first person I've hung around with a lot since my uncle took me in. I… it took someone we know shouting at me to make me realise how much that's meant to me."

He nodded gently back, "I know the feeling. Someone told me the same thing."

"Even if we drove each other mad with our promises to keep ourselves in check?"

Sam tried to laugh, only for a cough to cut it short, "Y-Yeah! In hindsight… we shouldn't have tried to make that promise two days after we got given the Bronze Rank."

It had been a spur-of-the-moment thing; Alice had her temper towards others and Sam had his hot-blooded nature. They figured they could try holding each other's worse impulses back by promising to do something to the other if they fell into that habit. Alice started punching people, Sam would have her do something daft. If Sam started getting himself into trouble, she got to punch him out of it.

Alice returned a thin smile, "Probably not the most… mature thing we could have done."

"Well, we have a good excuse for it." Sam admitted.

The Buneary looked away for a moment, "How about we make a new promise?"

"Like what?" Sam asked, frowning.

She nodded at him, "No punches or pranks." She started, "Whenever we're alone or together… we keep in mind what the other will say. You keep my voice in your head… I'll keep yours in mine."

Sam chewed on that thought, It… does make sense. It's simple and… well. It wouldn't be too hard to keep each other's thoughts on hand. We know each other well enough there.

He returned the nod, "Alright." He said with a smile, "You've got a deal."

She reached out for him, and with a gentle swing of his body, he grasped her paw with his own. "Partners?" he asked warmly.

Her smile widened, "Partners."

On cue, they shook paws, and didn't let go.

Feeling a pleasant warmth in his chest, Sam looked back towards the ropes, "Well in case Kyra and Denzel can't find anything, any ideas? Could we try and grab the roots?"

"Already tried that." Alice admitted, "They're too fragile, and these ropes are pretty tight."

"Would be pretty hard to hang on." Sam realised. "Think your uncle would have given you a tip on how to get out of a spot like this?"

"Probably, but he hasn't told me yet." Alice replied with a bemused huff.

"You make it sound like he's a rescuer." Sam mused, tilting his head to get a better look at the rope wrapped around his leg.

"He is." Alice replied, "Wish he was here right now."

Sam grinned, trying to picture her uncle showing knots in front of a young Alice, "One of these days, you've gotta introduce us."

Alice chuckled, "You've already met him."

Stiffening, the Scorbunny frowned, "Eh? When? From walking round the tree?"

Her chuckle deepened, "How else did you think I was getting special practice sessions?"

"I don't fol-"

The realisation struck him in the gut harder than one of Kain's attacks.

"Shut. The fucking. Door!" Sam blurted out, "Rex is your uncle!?"

He found Alice returning a deviously smug smirk, "Yep."

Sam recoiled, nearly letting go of Alice's paw out of sheer shock, "Holy – how the hell did I not see that!?"

It was true! Special sessions, the way the Guildmaster interacted with Alice… the way she reacted when he quipped about her having a boyfriend doing said sessions, it was so damn obvious and he never realised!

"It just means the secrecy works." Alice replied, only for the smile to fade away, "Just don't tell anyone else. I don't need Rex to catch flak because he looks out for me. Even if Mum and Dad were his teammates."

He sharply nodded back, "No worries, I'll keep quiet on it. I just… didn't expect that."

Alice smirked again, "Alright, that's my second big secret… how about you share your… little fear?"

"Little fear?"

"You know, the one you've conveniently forgotten?"

The warmth vanished, a new lump forming in his throat as he looked back down towards the very distant floor and the spikes.

"Remember now?" Alice teased.

Shivering, Sam finally tore his eyes away with a growl, "Alright, fine! I'm afraid of heights! I admit it!"

For the first time, Alice giggled, and the sight of that alone forced the growl away and prompted a chuckle from the fire-type. "Haha… alright, that was kinda funny."

Wiping her eyes again, a serious expression formed on Alice's face, "Back on humans though… if you want to talk about that, I'm all ears."

"I will. There's a lot I've got to get off my chest since last time." Sam admitted, feeling relieved that Alice was willing to hear him out, "But first, let's focus on getting out of here."

"I can get behind that."

"Okay! We've got a plan!"

Across the way, in a freshly lit chamber that had been formerly hidden out of sight along the wall, Sam could make out the green form of Denzel, whereas back on the ground floor, Kyra was waiting for them. "We found the winch for the ropes!" she called up at them, "Denzel is going to lower you down and then you can swing across to me!"

It's a start! "Alright!" Sam shouted back, "We're ready!"

"Just take it slow!" Alice added.

"Ok!" Denzel replied, his form reaching towards what appeared to be some kind of wheel, "I'm going to start lowering yo-"

An enormous bang, accompanied by Denzel's surprised yelp, "Gods no!"

Before Sam could ask what was happening, that familiar whirl began to scream louder than ever. Sam could only look towards the wide-eyed Alice as he realised what was happening.

FUC-

The rope slackened, and the pair started falling… right for the spikes!

They could only scream as they rushed towards the pit, Sam's eyes squeezed shut. Dang it! Just as he and Alice were back on the same page, they were going to-

Wooden sticks snapped underneath him, seconds before they slammed into the barely cushioned floor with a puff of stale air. A pulse of pain ran through his body as he coughed. The hell!? I'm alive?

"Alice?" he cried out, wincing as he started to push himself up.

"I'm alright." She groaned, stirring in the corner of his vision. "What… what did we land on?"

"How… oh… oh…" Kyra uttered from above, "Now that makes sense."

Blinking, Sam finally sat himself up, expecting to find themselves amongst sharp stakes.

Instead, they sat amongst twigs from trees. As for what they were sat on, they were on some multicoloured cushioning.

No, cushioning marked with very detailed shapes.

An illusion.

Alice sat nearby, slowly looking on with a dumbfounded look on her face. "What kind of idiot puts in fake spikes?"

Above them, Kyra's head poked over the edge of the pit, "That's… a really good question." She glanced over her shoulder, "It is fine Denzel! Just get some rope!"

Sam turned back to Alice, still blinking at their surroundings with a blank look on her face.

Still wincing from the pain, Sam pulled a faint chuckle as he realised one tiny detail. "You know… we could have cut ourselves free ages ago, and we'd probably been fine."

The Buneary slowly turned towards him, still blinking.

She visibly swallowed.

Then squeezing her eyes shut, she started to snigger.

Then came the laughter as she flopped onto her back. Unable to hold his mouth shut, Sam started howling with her, feeling all the strength in him fade away as he slumped over.

For a moment, the worries about the pirates, the ruins, Guardians or just everything seemed to fade away, as Team Audacity laughed about the ridiculousness of the pit.

Again, as partners.

And so our heroic duo are finally back together again. It's been several chapters (and embarassingly several months), but it's finally happened. Stuff has been happening in real life, plus catching up with MoD and GoB and art projects hasn't helped. But either way, the chapter is complete again. I hope this serves as a nice short and sweet chapter that you guys can enjoy.
 
Chapter II.XV - The Tapu

StolenMadWolf

Loony Moony
Pronouns
He/They
POKÉMON MYSTERY DUNGEON
GUARDIANS OF BALANCE

EPISODE II – DARK, WONDEROUS PAST
CHAPTER XV – THE TAPU

After Kyra and Denzel helped Sam and Alice back up – after the two rescuers had stopped laughing at least – the reunited Pokémon began to make their way through the second tunnel leading through to the other side. The two locals took point, making sure they didn't set off any other traps by accident.

Team Audacity followed from further back and in a hushed whisper, Sam began to explain about everything that had happened to him. What little he knew about himself as a human, what he came across in Broken Wood, the dreams, the confrontation with Kain at Waterfall Mountain and finally, his encounter with Squishy just after being blown off the Penguin. There was no need to hold back information now that Sam and Alice were now on the same page again.

That and to be honest, he needed to get everything off his chest. Alice didn't interrupt him, listening intently as they walked down the tunnel. When he finally finished, she slowly nodded and let out a quiet whistle. "That's… a lot…"

Sam sheepishly rubbed the back of his head, "I know it sounds crazy. But I've not got much to go off."

"I believe you." Alice replied reassuringly, a paw brushing past his arm. "Does anyone else know?"

"Just you and Jack." Sam admitted.

"And you think the Guardians are linked to the disasters?"

"Positive." he replied, "Kain knew the Guardians, and he only showed up after possessing Zeke in Broken Wood."

"And the earthquake happened not long after you found him." Alice growled, fist clenching at the memory. "Knowing how strong he was, I'd bet Kain set off the earthquake."

Sam frowned, "I'm not so sure on that one, that could have been Volcanion or just the last push, otherwise Kain could have done that in Robinwood. But they've gotta all be connected somehow, and if the ruins here were built by the Guardians, we'll find the answers there."

Alice rubbed her chin, "That's still a leap though. Zeke could have read Kain wrong. And this… Squishy whatever they are," She waved her hand in frustration, "Seems kinda clueless. I've never heard of a green blob Pokémon either. You sure he wasn't a Ditto?"

Sam felt a slight quiver at the base of his skull as he remembered the blob jumping on his head. "Nope. I'm not sure he knows much himself. But he has been the best source so far, so unless we want to try Waterfall Mountain again, it's the best we've got."

Nodding back, Alice turned to face the backs of the two tribesmon, the end of the tunnel appearing ahead. "Then let's find the others, then we can worry about the ruins."

Sam flashed a thumbs up, "Sounds like a plan."

Alice stopped in her tracks, turning towards him. "Sam, when we get back… we're going to need to talk to someone about this."

With a frown, he stopped too, "Like who? Rex?"

He knew he had answered his own question before Alice even nodded, "Just him. If there's anyone we can trust and make sense of this, it'll be him."

Slowly, he nodded back, She's got a point. Rex has believed in us before, he might see something that both of us have missed.

"Are you coming?" Denzel called out from the end of the tunnel.

Sam sharply turned to face him, "We're right behind you!"

The four Pokémon emerged back into the light on higher ground, the trees seeming less extensive than before. More than a few still looked like they'd fit in with a jungle, but others were now looking more like the confers and deciduous trees that he was familiar with. Kyra squirted a light Water Gun at the torch to smother it before placing it back into another iron basket by the exit. "Come on." She said, "Our village is not far!"

Kyra led the way again, with Team Audacity and Denzel following close behind. The going was significantly easier with less foliage and debris to dodge, whilst also revealing a more defined path for them to follow. Sam and Alice focused on keeping pace with the Sobble, saving their conversation about humanity and the Guardians for later.

As they reached the top of a small hill, a cluster of wooden huts hooved into view. They were positioned at the foot of a large wooded cliff, and Sam could make out the collection of small waterfalls that ran down the cliffs into a large lake at the edge of the village. Denzel let out a visible sigh of relief, "Finally." He breathed out.

"Any chances that any of our guys will be there?" Alice asked, stepping up alongside Kyra. The Sobble shrugged, "Only one way to find out."

They made their way down to the village slowly, as Denzel pulled out a short wooden flute and blew out a quiet tune. A distant tree rustled, and Sam caught a flash of a small bird flying out of it, headed towards the Wela Village. A safety measure, Denzel stressed, to make sure that no pirates were approaching their home.

Indeed, when they finally arrived at the outskirts, their only barrier was a young-looking Sneasel, fiddling with his claws as he stepped aside to allow for the four to enter. "You are the last to arrive." He explained.

"Good. That should be everyone accounted for from the village." Kyra mused, "Did they bring anyone else back in?"

"From what I heard yes. A pair were making quite a ruckus near the village centre."

Sam and Alice shared a glance, wondering who could have made it ashore from their ships. "Lead the way." The former said, and with Denzel now guiding them, they strolled through the village.

The Scorbunny expected the Wela villagers to retreat inside their homes and indeed, some did do that, hushing their young kids into the huts. But others seemed unfazed, strolling through the village or carefully working on homemade materials, like shawls, colourful blankets and weaved baskets. Some watched with a wary eye, and one or two nodded in greeting. It certainly wasn't enough to make Sam feel uncomfortable. But he could tell that the Wela people were still cautious about their new guests.

Alice leaned in as they walked, "You'd think the pirates haven't bothered them much." She whispered.

He went cold as the memory of the dead fire-types reared itself again, "It might be because I'm a fire-type. The pirates kill them."

Alice blinked, "W-What?"

"I'll explain later." Sam replied as a clearing emerged. He hadn't had time to explain about Blackaxe and the pirate's antics yet, and he doubted he'd have time to fully do so now. "Looks like we're nearly there."

The huts formed a ring around the core of the village, where one long building was set up at the far end from where the two rabbits and their guides had entered. Stone walls ran around the edge of the circle between the surrounding huts, and a single tree and flowerbed were positioned at the centre surrounded by another low wall. It was a little bit more lively here, as some tribesmon chatted with each other as they walked through.

And at the base of the tree, standing alongside the wall, was the very familiar form of a Bulbasaur and a Skorupi.

"Bruce! Denver!" Sam barked, quickly jogging on ahead with Alice in hot pursuit.

Bruce's head snapped round as a gigantic smile of relief took shape, "S-Sam! You made it!"

Denver managed a half-stifled laugh, "We thought you had it!"

"I got lucky!" Sam cheered as he approached. A vine erupted from Bruce's bulb and casually whipped towards him, and with a practised aim, the Scorbunny delivered an impromptu high-five. "How did you two get away?"

"We got cornered." Bruce replied, averting his gaze, "Calvin told us to jump overboard before the pirates got us. Got found by these Wela folks not long after."

"Stop looking all guilty Bruce." Denver grumbled with a narrowed gaze, "We'd be in chains by now if we didn't run for it."

"He has a point." Alice noted, stepping up alongside Sam. The Skorupi stiffened, only to click his claws sharply.

"Hate to admit it." He grumbled, "But I'm glad you got off too."

Bruce's eyes brightened before Alice could respond. "Alice!? If you got off, then so did Nia right!?" he leaned to look past her, "Where is she?"

For the first time, Alice seemed to withdraw, her eyes flicking towards the floor. Sam honestly thought she was haunted by the question. "The Crow was sinking fast. I saw Nia get into the air as I was jumping off, but I haven't seen her since."

Sam shivered as the words sank in, the Crow was gone. And the fate of the Penguin was a mystery. He looked over the others, seeing how Bruce slumped again. How uncomfortable Alice was. Even Denver seemed rigid as he looked towards the ground. It didn't take much to realise that he was thinking about Edward as much as Bruce was thinking about Nia and Dan.

Kyra and Denzel stood off to one side, looking more uncomfortable as they watched the four. "We will just let the Chieftain and Tapu know you're here." the water-type said quietly, "We will… leave you to it."

They started walking towards the long building, leaving them alone.

"Damn… we're the only ones who made it?" Sam quietly asked, looking over the four of them. "What happened to everyone else?"

"Calvin, Dan… Edward... and that Zeke guy too." Denver managed to say. "The pirates were all over them when we got away, same with the crew."

"And Nia must have got caught too." Bruce growled.

"If they got caught." Alice whispered, turning to Sam, "What were you saying about fire types?"

The Bulbasaur blinked, "Whatcha mean?"

Sam shuffled his feet, wanting to shrink away. But with a sigh, he explained what he heard of the pirates and their leader. Of how they arrived on the islands and attacked the Wela.

And most importantly, on how they killed any fire-type they came across, bringing up the killing field he found.

All three of his companions shared a look of pure horror, Bruce and Denver were both trembling. Alice herself seemed to instinctively move towards him, as to better protect him. She faintly cursed, as the gravity of Sam's words finally settled in.

Bruce spoke first. "So… when the pirates made a beeline for you…"

"They were aiming to kill me on the spot." Sam admitted with a weak shrug.

"Ffffuck…" the Bulbasaur growled, "Then that means…"

"All the other fire-types are dead by now." Denver said woodenly.

Bruce's eyes widened in shock, "C-Calvin too? Not him! That guy is a legend! He's fought legendries and lived to tell the tale!"

Sam sighed softly; he saw Calvin getting forced down by the pirates just before going overboard. Calvin might have not stood a chance. "I only got away because one of them recognised me, ended up giving me a message."

"What do you mean?" Alice questioned.

He locked his eyes on hers, "Greg's with the pirates."

The Buneary's fists clenched tight, no doubt remembering the time they fought him. "Are you sure?"

"He was specific."

Denver stomped the ground, claws clamped together, "So this lady bastard managed to get her hands on the biggest set of muscles in the Sea of Wonders? Shit!"

Sam flashed his teeth, "We've beat him before. We can do it again."

"Barely." Alice reminded him. "And Blackaxe sounds worse."

"Tell me about it." he admitted. Greg was a nightmare before. Blackaxe is going to be something else entirely, we need a lot more help.

Alice's eyes brightened slightly, "Actually… it's slim, but I think Calvin might have a chance."

"Huh?" Sam uttered. "How?"

She nodded towards Bruce, "Calvin's a Team ACT member right? Then the Pirates would have to know that too."

The Bulbasaur quickly began to nod as the realisation settled in, "You reckon they could have spared him cos he's famous?"

"For ransom? It's a good bet."

Realising she had a point, Sam rubbed his hands together, "Then there's a chance that Calvin's alive too. We have to believe that for now."

"Doesn't change the fact that we don't know where these pirates are!" Denver barked, "The four of us can't take them all on!"

"He does have a point." Alice acknowledged.

Tell me about that one.

Sam slowly started to pace as his mind started running through ideas, "That's something we can work on. We need to try and get back in touch with Rex and the rest of the expedition. Finding the pirate's base would be a help too. The Wela picked us up, maybe they can help us more."

Alice's ear dipped slightly, "If we have to rely on the tribe… then maybe you need to be the one to talk to them."

Sam stopped in his tracks. "W-what?"



"And that's it." Kyra said, "These Pokémon are not linked to the pirates. If anything, they want them gone as much as we do."

They sat around a firepit in the longhouse on cushioned mats, a small fire lighting up the interior. Across on the other side of the pit from the two younger tribesmon, a white, brown and red avian Pokémon sat cross-legged. The red feathers around her head formed what almost appeared to be a hat that shielded most of her face. The face of an owl.

The Decidueye narrowed her eyes, "Are we certain that they can be trusted?"

Kyra nodded back, "One of them is a fire-type and they all recognise each other."

Denzel looked somewhat less certain, "I am wary as well Chieftain-"

The owl huffed in amusement, "Denzel, you don't have to be so formal."

Sighing, Denzel looked towards the pit, "Sorry, Odessa. I would be cautious. But there are a lot of reasons why they would be telling the truth. But even if they have no ill-intent, what about anyone who follows them? All our islands could end up being overrun!"

He gritted his teeth, just as Kyra glared at her companion, "I think it's a risk worth taking. We are not strong enough to fight Blackaxe's pirates. If they can help us take back our home we should ask!"

The chieftain raised her wings, motioning for the pair to calm down. "You are both right. But we will need to learn more about them to be sure."

"I must ask." Came a deeper voice, "This fire-type. What species are they?"

The three turned towards a small yellow orb that floated at the edge of the fire, the occasional flash of orange and white blinked across its surface as it spoke.

Kyra frowned at the question, "He's a Scorbunny. Why do you ask?"

The orb dimmed, if only for a moment, before it brightened as they spoke once more. "I… I'd like to meet this Scorbunny."

The Decuideye straightened up, her beak clicking. "Face to face?"

"At the shrine." The voice confirmed.

Kyra's mouth dropped open. Denzel stared incredulously at the orb, "But Tapu! You rarely let us in! Now you are going to let an outsider enter from out of the blue?"

The voice remained calm, "I have a theory. I'd like to be sure of it."

Odessa rose to her feet, brushing some of her head feathers back for a moment as she considered the words. "You have not steered us wrong since I was still a chick." She admitted, "Alright. We'll be there soon."



"I can't believe I'm agreeing with her so much, but she's right." Denver said, "These guys were shoving our faces in the dirt before they figured out we're telling the truth."

"I'd probably still be stuck in that tunnel if you didn't happen to be there." Alice added. "You got off lucky. They're more likely to trust you being a fire-type."

Sam found all three Pokémon staring at him. "Nope, come on!" he exclaimed, feeling exposed and shaky, "You know how hot-headed I get like on a good day! I can't represent us! Never mind the whole guild!"

Bruce grimaced, "Well, we're not much better. And you're the closest thing we have to a leader."

"L-Leader!" he spluttered, "When have I been that?"

"Broken Wood." Denver said bluntly.

Sam growled as a headache started coming on. Okay, maybe I did start bossing everyone about, but only because everyone was panicking or fighting amongst themselves!

Alice patted him on the shoulder softly, "And besides, we outrank these two. So it'd fall to one of us anyway."

A concerned look from the Buneary seemed to cement it. Bruce and Denver would never follow Alice's lead. But they would do so with him. He sighed, realising she had a point. "Alright… at least until we fi-"

"Excuse me, you are Sam, correct?"

Coming towards them was a strange owl-like Pokémon, her red feathers forming what looked like a weird hat on her head. Kyra and Denzel were at her side, looking somewhat dazed, even if they looked unhurt. Suddenly feeling on the spot, the Scorbunny mustered the best smile he could. "Yeah! That's me. And who are you?"

His heart skipped a beat as the owl giggled at his response. "I am Chieftain Odessa. I would like to welcome you all to our village. I am sorry we could not respond any sooner, and for any mistreatment your companions may have suffered."

Denver faintly grumbled behind him.

Sam didn't initially reply, only for a kick to the back of his leg to spur him into speaking again, "Not a problem. You can't take any chances with the pirates. I'm sorry they've been gunning for you."

Odessa crossed a wing over her chest, bowing her head respectfully. "Thank you. I would enjoy a pleasant conversation, but there are important matters to discuss. Kyra and Denzel will see that your companions are settled in their home, but Sam, I will need you to come with me."

"What for?" Alice questioned firmly, stepping forward to place herself in front of Sam. "We've only got back together."

The Chieftain placed her wings across her front, as if holding them together, "Our Tapu would like to speak to Sam alone."

Alice's ears twitched enough for Sam to notice, She's already getting suspicious… okay, Rex would try and compromise, right?

He rested a hand on Alice's shoulder, "I'm okay with speaking to your Tapu alone. But can my partner wait outside or something?"

Odessa clicked her beak a couple of times, and Sam swore he heard a faint chirp as she thought it over. "Of course. She can wait outside with me. Is that fair for you?"

Alice glanced between the pair, before finally nodding.

Sam turned back towards Bruce and Denver, "Don't worry, we won't be long."

Hesitating, Bruce cocked his head to the side, "Err… alright."



Odessa led Team Audacity out of the village a short distance towards the cliff, where much to Sam's surprise, amongst the dozens of trees littering it, there was a set of overgrown stone steps leading up. "Be careful." The Chieftain advised, "The steps can be slippery this time of year."

Slowly, the trio began to climb, following the steps along the gentler inclines of the cliff, staying close to the waterfalls. Occasionally, Sam could feel a few droplets of water hit him, and his feet would sometimes land in a puddle of cool water. No wonder the steps had moss and grass growing out of them.

"Odessa." Alice started, "Who is the Tapu? I thought you'd be in charge?"

"Of the Wela I am." Odessa replied, "But the Tapu are the spiritual leaders of the tribes. They don't govern, but they have served the Pokémon of these islands for centuries. We owe them a great deal."

Sam's ears perked up at that, "There are other tribes? And more than one Tapu?"

"Of course!" she replied, pointing towards one particularly wet step to avoid, "There are four, the Wela, the Kaheawai, the Hano and the Na'nuao. But we have not heard much from the others since the Lady arrived. Her boats have seen to that."

The ship that took out the Penguin and Crow was just part of a fleet? He shivered at the thought. If the Red Kite had to take out more than one ship… it was going to be hell.

They reached a small, grassy flat at the top of the steps, where a small cave opening waited for them. "Alice, was it?" Odessa said, "You can wait out here with me. Sam, the Tapu is just inside."

It didn't appear to be a dark cave, he could see a fair amount of natural light through the entryway. Not that it did much to comfort him though. Behind him, Alice rested a hand on her shoulder, her coiled ear still twitching. "Sam… if you need help…"

He looked back towards her, feeling a slight warmth work its way through him, "I hear you." He replied gently, "I'll try not to be a hero."

That earned him a sly smile from the Buneary, and with a newfound burst of confidence, he entered the cave.

He wasn't wrong, a large crack ran through the ceiling, allowing light to shine down from above. A stone path went on ahead of him, surrounded by a grassy field. At the far end of the cavern, a few metres away, was another tunnel opening. Frowning, he walked further in, his footsteps echoing through the chamber. What… what is this place? The Tapu's home or… something?

Sam reached the threshold, leaning slowly inside. "Hello?" he called out.

No answer came. Taking a deep breath, the Scorbunny stepped inside. Light still came through the crack to reveal a wooden platform and at the far end, what looked like an altar. It was made of a mix of stone, wooden steps and bright green leaves arranged in an arc and was easily taller than he was.

He slowly walked towards the altar, his eyes flickering around him. He couldn't shake off a heavy feeling as he let his eyes scan the room. A familiar and cold feeling.

This feels like Broken Wood. He realised darkly, When Volcanion showed up…

"Are you the Scorbunny?" echoed a sharp voice from all around him.

Sam jolted to attention, ears snapping around to try and find the voice. Is that-

He gritted his teeth, "Yeah. Are you the Tapu?"

"I am." Came the reply, still impossible to trace.

Paws tightening, Sam found himself right at the centre of the chamber, eyes flitting left and right. "Why did you want to see me?"

For a moment, only silence came.

Then, from above, "To test you!"

Sam's head snapped up just in time to see a yellow shell dive towards him, electricity crackling.

Yelping, Sam dove away as it slammed into the ground, feeling fur sear from the power of the electric attack. He sprung back onto a knee in time to see the shell, covered with black, orange and white markings spring towards the altar.

Sam went limp as the shell opened up mid-air, revealing a slim black and orange Pokémon. A brilliant orange plume rose from it's head, and as it touched down, a pair of icy blue eyes locked onto him.

"It is time." The Tapu declared, and before Sam was even ready, they shot forward, part of the shell sailing down towards him like a scythe…

I didn't get this chapter done as quickly as I hoped, but I am sticking to a new schedule to try and keep on top of my writing and art at a reasonable pace between the different fics. I did want to add more to this chapter, but I think some of those elements will have to be saved for the next chapter as I've been trying to stick to a specific word count for each chapter.

Either way, I hope you enjoy this one!
 

Spiteful Murkrow

Busy Writing Stories I Want to Read
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Partners
  1. nidoran-f
  2. druddigon
  3. swellow
  4. quilava-fobbie
  5. sneasel-kate
Heya, heard that you were almost done with that review exchange we signed up for due to both missing the boat on offsite V-Wheel, so I figured that it was about time for me to jam out my end of things with a review of…

Chapter 15

It wasn't exactly the best night. Sam tossed and turned inside the tent, the basic sleeping bag not really doing much to help him out. It wasn't that it was just too warm or cold. It wasn't any noise or anything of the sort. If anything, his mind kept drifting back to that story. About the Guardians and their mysterious disappearance into that cave. He couldn't stop thinking about Alice as well, of how she just pushed him away from even conversing with her. Damn it, she punched me when we first met! Why am I so concerned about her?

Because you're a bunny right now and she's a bunny too, so there's probably a part of you that subconsciously finds her cute?
:gardeshrug~1:


The answer was obvious. He was worried about her between the so called 'curse' and her own attitude. But then again, he could have just as easily been worried about anyone.

Also, see above, really. >:V

A faint moan crept over his shoulder, and rolling over, Sam could see Aidan squirming inside his own bag, eyes squeezed tight shut. The Froakie had already started complaining about another headache coming on when he stumbled on into the tent. He couldn't help but frown as Aidan flashed a smirk and brushed off his concern, stressing that he had coped with such things before. But even so, he still couldn't shake off his concern worry a bit. Headaches may usually seemed innocent, but having them semi-regularly wasn't exactly a good thing. Maybe it was just the electric move mucking him over.

Some small suggestions for rephrasing some wording here and there in this part. Though huh. Was Aidan depicted having headaches last chapter? Since I actually don't remember that really being mentioned while this line implies he's been having them recurringly since getting zapped by the ex-Rescuer Electrike. If the idea is that these headaches just started after Chapater 14 but have been stubbornly persistent, it might make sense to be clearer about that in the narration.

Finally giving up, Sam crawled out of the bag and out of the tent. Zog it. He figured, rubbing his feet against the rocky ground and letting his body heat up in the chill of the air. Might as well try and tire myself out with some kind of walk.

Ah yes, just going out and walking in the night when you're a foot-tall rabbit. I take it that Sam never read Watership Down when he was a human, since there's a reason why the Grim Reaper figure in that book was associated with the moon.
:copyka:


And so, he began his lap. The campsite was nearly shrouded in near complete silence, with only the very faint rustle of tent canvas or the occasional crunch of underfoot. The embers of the campfire were beginning to fade away, but it only allowed the stars to shine even more brightly above him.

He paused for a moment, looking up at the celestial objects hanging there. He wondered if the human world was up there somewhere, or whatever world he was originally from. He knew stars had planets around them, that basic fact was something he knew at least. He let out a heavy sigh, I still had to get here somehow. I couldn't have just, upped and teleported away… could I?

This paragraph feels long enough that it probably makes sense to divide it up. Though something about the bit in underlined feels like it's "missing" something, maybe more of an indication that Sam's stopping to think or something like that?

The chill in the air getting to him again, he rubbed his hands together and carried on walking. Hoping against hope that he would tire out enough that he could just pass out.

As he rounded another tent, he caught a flicker of a flame coming from within a larger tent, set further off from the rest. The instructor's tent, if that was an appropriate term for them. Probably still working out the details for tomorrow. He guessed, narrowing his stride as he peered at the shelter with a little smirk, Makes sense.

Sam: "... Wait, do I really want to get that close to their tent since I'm pretty sure that they still have that Electrike that went nuts with them right now?"
:copyka2:


He half considered listening in, maybe he could get an idea of what would happen for the next dungeon. But with a thin smile, he shook his head at that. Nah… don't want to start cheating if that is even a thing here. He started to widen his stride-

"He still hasn't woken up?" Jack asked.

"Nup. No luck."

[ ]

Sam slid to a halt.

Huh? Zack's not woken up?

I think that it might make sense to give a bit more reminders for the audience about "right, the Electrike", since from Sam's perspective, he's probably not familiar enough with Zack to reflexively namedrop him in his thoughts like this.

With a frown, and a part of him urging him to back off, Sam swallowed and crept a little bit closer to the tent.

"I don't understand it." Oscar said, "Reviver seeds didn't do the trick, and neither is anything else."

"You don't think that rabbit hit him too hard right?" asked the Rhydon.

I mean, Sam did kick him into a rock wall that collapsed on him, which if you were playing that realistically...
:copyka:


Sam's chest clenched, fear settling in at the possibility that he might have gone too far. But Jack's voice tore through the canvas like a knife.

"Not a chance. Sam wouldn't go that far on purpose. Even If he did hurt Zack that badly, he was probably just desperate."

"I concur." Esper said, the flames within the tent flickering. "I could sense some worry and relief, and if Sam really wanted harm Zack, he could have just left him there."

"Aidan was there too."

Wait, can Sam see anything of these guys' silhouettes moving or whatever? If so, it might make sense to from time to time mention what exactly he's seeing of what's going on with the expedition leaders in their tent.

"Aidan was there too."

[ ]

"True. But I trust my instincts. Besides, he is not too injured."

Sam let out a faint sigh of relief, Good… no lynch mobs or arrests coming my way then… but still… if those Reviver seeds aren't working… if they do what I think they do again and they're not working on Zack

IMO, Sam's phrasing should be played around with to focus more on the
:uhhh:
-ness of what these guys are implying about Zack's present condition, which probably makes more sense to steer him towards "Zack's having problems" towards the end of his train of thought.

What was stopping him from waking up?

I mean, you did kick him into a wall which then collapsed on him. If this story isn't playing the "built tough" angle for Pokémon... well...
:copyber:


[ ]

"Could it a nightmare? Like you described it pal?" Jack asked.

"By golly no!" Oscar quietly cried out, "He's too peaceful for that."

"I have already tried to feel what is happening with his mind." Esper added, "But it's all… clouded… I not going to be able to learn more here."

So feralized Pokémon can still have nightmares. Assuming that their feralized state isn't percieved as a nightmare from their end. Duly noted.

There was a moment of silence, enough for Sam to half worry that they discovered he was there. But when Esper spoke up again, her tone was relaxed. "Rhys, can you take Zack back to Robinswood tomorrow morning? Maybe Rebecca can rouse him."

A heavy grunt rumbled forth from the tent, "She's not gonna be happy about that."

"She never is, but she cares enough to get the job done. We'll keep an eye on the recruits, Jack, I'm going to need you to fly on ahead to the second camp."

Sam:
:VidriBlink:

"(Wait, we have a second camp right now? Was that mentioned before?)"

"Sure thing… but… if something went wrong with Zack around here… and with Tracy and Oliver missing still… is it really a good idea?"

Oh, that's a good sign for what's going on with Tracy and Oliver right now... not.
:copyka2:


[ ]

"We'll have to be careful. We should be clear of any grave danger now we're past the first dungeon but… we should still be cautious."

Silence fell again for a moment, before Esper finally spoke again. "We'll look into Zack's situation when we get back to town, in the meantime, I suggest you all get some rest."

Feet sliding back, Sam began to back away. His mind slowly churning at the information. What had happened in there? He questioned, Is it to do with the…

I kinda wonder if Sam should have any more thoughts about Jack and the gang keeping all of this so hush-hush from him and the rest of the rookie crew, since... yeah, you'd think that he'd be side-eying harder at the idea of being kept in the dark in the middle of a bad situation for the team.

He brushed the idea away, a cold weight settling onto his shoulders. Shaking his head, he turned, and marched back to his own tent.

Sam half imagined that he would still struggle to fall asleep, but as he slipped back into his bag, exhaustion finally caught up to him, and he was pulled down to sleep.

I kinda wonder if that should've been foreshadowed a bit more with him being tired in his thoughts on his way over to the tent only to be kept up by the subject matter of Jack et al that he overhears or something like that.

Thankfully for Sam's ears, Nia didn't scream for him to wake up and instead it was Aidan who roused him from his slumber. Within a few moments, they already had gathered their gear and were soon lined up outside alongside the other teams. A low, excited murmur spread through the Pokémon, and even Aidan now bared had a cheesy grin on his face.

But despite this, Sam didn't feel such joy, his eyes fixed on the cave entrance before them. Not only did he now have the campfire discussions hanging around in a corner of his mind, he now had the word on what he'd overheard of Zack's condition worrying him. He clenched his fists; he knew that he couldn't afford to let such thoughts cloud his judgement. Not with another dungeon ahead of them.

Sam: "... (So, are they going to acknowledge those two missing 'mons at all before we just get into the swing of things today, or...?)"

Esper and Oscar emerged from the tent and strolled towards the front of the team. Seems like Zack is already being carried back.

Wait, what exactly is informing this sentiment again? Since it wasn't mentioned anywhere that Sam saw Zack being carried out of the tent in live-time. If the idea is that isn't visible in the tent from a glimpse, we should both get that glimpse, and that "is already being" should become "has already been".

"Everyone had a good sleep?" Esper asked, earning a few confirmative 'yes'es from the assembled teams. "Good, because you have a different objective this time."

She slowly began to walk along the length of the groups.

[ ]

"Some volunteers have gone on ahead into the dungeon. It's your job to find them, and get them out of the dungeon."

:copyka:


Ah yes, just going ahead and playing off the missing duo from the group as "... right, we totally meant to send them off ahead, go find them for us, please". What could possibly go wrong here?

Dan frowned, "Err… how are we going to do that without Expedition Badges?"

"All the volunteers have their own badges or an escape orb on hand. As soon as you find them, they'll use that to get out. If for some reason they have lost their item, then it will be up to you to help guide them out." Esper explained.

>"""If"""

Wait, so is there a specific reason why Esper and the others aren't just coming clean about how Tracy and Oliver are missing? Like I get that they don't want to panic the rookies, but you'd think that this would be a situation where being honest about what's going on, even if it's uncomfortable, would be paramount for the safety of the kids since they have no idea what on earth happened to those two beyond that they think that they're somewhere in the Mystery Dungeon still.

[ ]

"Then how will you know that we 'rescued' them?" Edward inquired, clicking a hoof into the ground.

"Badges and orbs normally drop you back off at the dungeon's entrance." Aidan said, leaning forward so the Skiddo could get a better view. "If someone is hanging back here, they'll see who's arrived."

"Exactly." The psychic type confirmed, turning to face the group proper again. "You will need to search the dungeon, but you also have to look for a specific individual. Oscar will give out a specific floor and contact for you. If you cannot find them or are defeated along the way, then that will count as a failure."

Might make sense to give a feel for how the broader group is reacting to these instructions or something like that.

The Bibarel moved along the length of the line, passing on a small slip of paper to each team. Sam took theirs and looked over its details. The sketched image of a bird like Pokémon was shown, and although there wasn't any actual colour, Sam noted the bird's resemblance to that of a Corvisquire. Then of course, there was the floor tooBF3.

"Once you have 'rescued' that volunteer, head through the dungeon and the final camp. With a bit of luck, we might be able to clear the third dungeon today, but that depends on how we progress through here." Esper finished, looking across the teams as they inspected their sheets. "Understood?"

Wait, 'resemblance' to a Corvisquire? Meaning that it's not one? Does Sam not recognize the species of who they're going after or something? Is this meant to be a Rookidee? If so, it might make sense to provide more description of the physical appearance than this for readers to work with.

[ ] With a final call to confirm that, the Meowstic stepped aside, and Sam glanced over towards Aidan. "Hanging back again?"

Aidan shook his head, "Nah, not this time. Let's do it."

Feeling his lips twist up in faint amusement, they jogged on into the dungeon.

I... kinda wonder if we should've seen more about what Sam thinks of whatever is going on here. Since it feels like a good chance to show how eager (or not) he is to go off into this dungeon after all the disquieting little things that he heard from the night before, but it's not really shown at the moment.

Right from the get go, Sam realized that today's task this was going to be a bigger challenge. Before they had even got out of the first room, or rather, clearing owing to the damaged but still living trees that formed an impenetrable wall around them, they started encountering the first feral Pokémon within the dungeon. A few grass types and bug types roamed around the dungeon, snarling and spitting as they leapt forth at him, trying to take him down with some one or another kind of move they had on hand.

Some suggested rephrasings here. Though it might also be worth putting in 2-3 throwaway moves mentioned to establish the sorts of moves that Sam and Aidan have had to deal with in their new mission.

At this point though, Sam was now getting the hang of battling. A dodge here and there, an occasional block and careful use of Ember and Quick Attack proved effective in knocking the ferals out or at the very least, sending them scurrying away. The rock types that showed up were more of challenge, but then Aidan would step up and let rip with Bubble Beam, sending them staggering or flying away himself.

It was hard work, there was no denying that. Sam would pant, wiping his eyes as a little bit of sweat ran into them. But his stamina was building, and so were his capabilities. It was clear that Aidan could see that improvement too, all thanks to that ever-bigger grin spreading across his face.

Infectious was one way to put it Aidan's excitement was downright infectious, as the memories of the past day faded away as the pair descended into the dungeon, Sam almost getting drunk on the adrenaline that pumped through his body. Every knockout blow, every dodge only added to the exhilaration of the challenge ahead. He only even stopped to check if hadn't accidently hit the feral Pokémon too hard, and thankfully could still see them breathing. That only added to the catharsis of the journey.

This paragraph is long enough that it IMO should be at least 3 smaller ones. Also, for the bit in underlined there, I kinda wonder if the sentiment should be "shown" more through Sam's direct thoughts or something, since something about it feels very "informed attribute right now.

Soon enough, they were on the third floor and began their sweep. But it didn't take long to find their contact. Not by sight anyway, but by sound. A faint, fruity tune that fluttered through the 'corridors' flanked by trees. Ears perked up, Sam led the way, following the song with ease and the odd flick of the rabbit ears.

The Corvisquire sat atop of a boulder at the centre of one clearing, a bored look on his face as with one wing, he somehow was managing to read from a bound book in his grasp. A satchel hung from his side under his free wing as one eye flicked over to the approaching pair.

"About time you two showed up! Been busy huh?"

Hm, maybe they just did have volunteers after all. Though that's making me
:copyka2:
a bit at whatever became of Tracy and Oliver since it means that Jack and the gang were completely on their own for trying to find out whatever happened to them while the others were busy with their training.

Taken aback, the Scorbunny raised an eyebrow. "Huh? We've not been here that long!"

Aidan rubbed the back of his head, "I can only guess that it's been around say… twenty minutes at least since we came in. Now we've took a couple of knocks on the way but…"

The Corvisquire laughed, rising up to his feet as he somehow managed to slip the book back into the satchel. "I guess to be fair, I have waited for longer than you lot have been in here."

Wait, implying that there's time dilation in these Mystery Dungeons? Or just that Corvisquire went in a couple hours ago and has just been camping this one spot?

He hopped off the boulder and landed in front of them, bringing himself to his full height. He was actually taller than the both Sam and Aidan, but despite that, the grey-blue bird Pokémon didn't seem that intimidating at all. "That, and I'm normally flying around a lot more."

Sam started rubbing the back of his head, "You are a… well… a bird. But why would you say that in particular? Where do you fly to?"

He chuckled again, flicking a wing to one side. "Everywhere! Can't you tell by these dashing good looks?"

Oh, so this guy normally does mail runs, huh? Since I remember that Robinswood had a thing for Fletchling and Rookidee line 'mons, so...

[ ]

"Err…"

"Bull…" Aidan stuttered, shaking his head but stabbing a finger at the Corvisquire, "I've heard of you. You're Perry. You're the Liaison for Pelipper and TalonKnight Offices."

Yeah, I figured from that "flying everywhere" comment. Though it might make sense to show more of Sam/Aidan's reaction or thoughts to Perry's earlier wingflick for bait for a little lulzy moment.

Perry somehow managed to flash a grin despite the beak. But when he spoke, it was with a somewhat wounded tone. "Just a liaison? Come on, I'm only the quickest post bird around, delivering the most important mail on time!"

It was the Froakie's turn to laugh. "Swellow says hi. Amongst other things."

"And yet Corviknights are still flying at the Post Office." Perry pointed out, tapping the side of his head with a wing tip, "Raw speed ain't anything, yet I'm still the quickest to get around."

Sam: "... He's going to be at this all day, isn't he?"
:eltyunamused:

Aidan: "More or less, yeah." >_>;

Sam glanced over at Aidan with a sly smirk on his face, the frog Pokémon glowering back before letting out a defeated sigh. "Ok. I get it."

"Don't worry Aidan." Sam replied with a grin, patting his friend on the back. "So, Perry. Why did you volunteer for this then? Don't you have… you know… post to deliver?"

"I'm the quickest post bird around!" Perry exclaimed again, "I'm allowed a day off once in a while. Besides, I like getting a look at… interesting rookies."

I can already see Sam and Aidan's
:wtfuckle:
faces in live time right about now.

[ ]

"Huh? Interesting rookies?"

The bird hopped up alongside the Scorbunny, resting one wing around him as if wrapping an arm round his shoulder.

"Come on, young looking Pokémon waking up in pretty places without the foggiest idea of how he or she got there, inevitably settling down in a town and buddying up with a friendly companion to go on some epic adventures!"

Oh, so Perry already heard about Sam's arrival through the grapevine and put two and two together that he's a human, huh? Or at least I think that's the implication from that line of his there.

Sam was half frozen in place, stiffening under the bird's wing. Wait… why is he-

"Then again, I've heard of plenty of parents letting their kids run off on their own little adventures with nothing more than a bag full of balls without a care in the world." Perry stated, "Folks are weird."

Wait, were 'balls' supposed to be 'Orbs', as in the item there? Otherwise I'm not really sure what this is supposed to be if it's not a double-entendre (even if it's a bit surprising that a bird would think of that quip considering bird anatomy).

The Scorbunny blinked, his body easing up. Only a touch though. "N-No offense, but… you're weird…"

"Ha! I'll take that as a compliment. Oh, by the way, that Paras is about to clamp down on your partner's mane." Sam spun round to find Aidan's eyes widening, the Froakie leaping away as the clawed bug tried to grasp onto him.

Sam tried to kick an Ember out, but his foot only hit mid-air as the frog accidently caught his arm instead, causing the Scorbunny to stumble back. Gritting his teeth, he regained his footing, ready to-

The white blade of light cut across the feral Paras like a knife through hot butter. The Paras' eyes widened as was shoved back by the Air Slash, pupils dilating wildly for a second before it finally slumped the ground in a heap.

Damn, Perry's got some bite to back up that bark of his. Wonder if we'll see him joining up with Sam and Aidan at some point in the future, since he clearly has an interest in seeing where these two wind up going given that at minimum he at least has a hunch that Sam's a human and knows what the batting average for humans getting up to hijinks is in his world.

Barely hiding his gasp, Sam spun on his heel to find the Corvisquire pulling his wing back up and puffing out a breath. That… gesture he's making feels very familiar… it looks like a… gun?

[ ]

"Err… thanks." Aidan sheepishly said, pushing himself back up to his feet. "By the way… you're not going to-"

I think that you're missing a bit where Sam has a "wait, how do I know this?" bit as he realizes he's remembering stuff from his old life. Though I can't tell whether or not Perry's gun miming is meant to be a sign that he himself is human or else if that's just a humanism that's rubbed off onto the Pokémon of GoB's world through contact with past humans.

"Nah, I won't tell that I also just rescued you." Perry whistled with a sly grin, beating his wings to bring himself into the air. "Now, if you excuse me, I better go and report your success. I'll probably see you again when you bugger off to another continent or deal with some cartoonishly bad grunts."

[ ]

"Erm." Sam started, "That's… great! Wait… what are you saying about cartoons-"

"Too busy to chat now, take care!" Perry exclaimed, before the bird was consumed with a brief flash of light. When the rabbit blinked, the light was gone and so too was Perry.

Yeah, this guy's going to be a recurring character, I can already tell. Even if he feels like he's a bit Wrong Genre Savvy given how the opening of this story already careened way, way off-course relative to the "stock PMD story" that Perry expects Sam and Aidan to get up to.

Sam and Aidan could only stare at that spot of air where the bird had once been flying. The Scorbunny's mouth hung agape, trying to process what the ever-living hell Perry had been talking about. Adventures? Cartoon teams? What? His entire body slumped, as if his muscles had melted not from relief, but more as if they had quite literally deflated.

"Aidan… what… was that all about?"

"I… don't have the foggiest idea and I really don't think about it. All I know is… Perry is just… weird."

And Wrong Genre Savvy, but hey, you can't say that he didn't make a fun first impression there. ^^

Sam drummed his fingers into his fur, "I… can agree with that…"

He finally turned away [ ], "Come on… let's get out of here."

Wait, are they leaving the hard way or just badging out here? It might make sense to mention things a bit more explicitly along with any internal thoughts about "right, we did our part of our mission" or something like that.

There were less ferals to get through on the way out of the dungeon, and it didn't take long for the two to clear the remaining floors. Enough that it was mid-day by the time they emerged from the dungeon.

Jack was already waiting for them, a little flutter of his wings confirming his delight. "You guys were quick! Esper already contacted me, you found Perry?"

Waaaaaait, but if Perry dipped out of the Mystery Dungeon already, wouldn't Jack already know about this given that he and the rest of the instructors keep in touch with one another?

"We did." Sam sighed, the adrenaline beginning to run dry in his now sore body. "That was… quite the encounter."

[ ]

"Has anyone else got through yet?" Aidan asked, neatening up his bubbly mane.

"Not yet." Jack confirmed, "You're the first team that made it."

I wonder if this should've been brought up a bit more in the introductory paragraph, since at first, I got the vibe that Sam and Aidan's journey through the Mystery Dungeon after finding Perry was easy and not particularly hard.

Though yeah, I'm starting to get a bit worried about all those other teams right now given that Aidan didn't exactly strike me as the most experienced member from the entire batch.
:copyka:


"Alright! Two down!" Bruce declared from over Sam's shoulder, the Bulbasaur leading Team Forest out of the exit tunnel. "One more to-"

[ ] And right on cue, the dinosaur slumped, [ ]

"Not again…"

"If it's any consolation." Aidan said with a wink, "Alice isn't here."

IMO, the bit of description right before Bruce's "Not again" line can afford to be expanded a bit in both directions to play up his reaction a bit for readers so they can get a bit of a laugh at it.

Sam narrowed his eyes, giving the Froakie a sidelong glance, his own concerns for the Buneary's wellbeing now returning to the surface. Come on Aidan… maybe she won't be so bad if folks didn't automatically just put her down.

I have to wonder what on earth happened to her old teams anyways given that the way that others were treating Alice in the past gave off a bit of a vibe that they saw Alice as a jinx or something like that.

Regardless, Bruce let out an enormous sigh, perking up a little bit. "Glad we could beat her then."

"Ahem."

The group turned to find Jack pointing over his shoulder, "Might want to clear the entrance, the next camp is already set up."

Jack: "Also seriously, would it kill you to wait until I'm out of earshot to badmouth your peers?" >_>;

It became plainly obvious when the next team arrived. Sam, Aidan and Bruce's team were beginning to settle into the smaller second camp when a sharp cry pieced the air, coming in from the direction of the preceding dungeon. So loud that Sam's ears automatically flinched, a soft ache returning to his ear drums.

"Not ag-"

Nia burst into the camp just as Sam yanked his ears down to protect himself, but she wasn't cheerful or happy. No, she was hyperventilating, her movements too erratic to hint at a successful clearing of the dungeon. And most of all, her voice, whilst still loud, was not ear-destructively loud either.

"Please! We need help!"

... Wait, wasn't it Nia's team who had Alice on it? Or am I tripping and misremembering there?
:copyka2:


Sam didn't hesitate, bounding across to her. "Nia! What's going on!?"

The bat Pokémon bobbled up and down frantically, "We found our contact, but we need to wake him up, then Alice got mad with Dan, Dan started getting really mad, all of our stuff ended up all over the place-"

[ ]

What is she-

He shook his head, "Whoa whoa!" he barked, raising her hands, "Slow down! Take a breath!"

It might make sense to show Sam's reaction to Nia's account, especially about their contact 'not waking up' in detail, especially if he's already starting to connect the dots with "... Wait, that sounds a lot like what happened with Zack." from the night before.

Quite literally, the Noibat took a deep breath, and her body stabilised. "Okay… we found the contact, but he had nearly fainted when we found him. We had an apple to spare… but… err…"

She hesitated, feet twitching before she continued, "Dan had started getting spooked and was… halfway through eating it… Alice got angry with him at that, snatched the apple away and used it to rouse our contact so he could leave… but Dan then got really mad… he was starting to get hungry."

"Hold up." Sam stressed, folding his arms, "You're telling me that you guys have got into an argument… over an apple?"

I mean, given that the plot of the Adventure Squad games is literally Pokémon coming to blows over cookies... yes?
:gardeshrug~1:


"You don't want a Morpeko complaining about being hungry." Aidan stressed, finally hopping up to his side.

Nia dipped her head, eyelids drooping, "Actually… I was kind hoping you can help calm them down…"

A gigantic bang echoed from behind her, a faint shudder running through his chest as his ears just picked up the angry, yet familiar voice of Alice.

"Why won't you stay down, you little shit?!"

Sam:
:uhhh:

Aidan: "Yeah, in case if you haven't noticed. But this sort of stuff happening with Alice's team is kind of a trend. Which is why we don't like dealing with her."
:mewtwofacepalm:


Fists tightening, Sam sprung forward and back down the path, ignoring the calls of the other Pokémon behind him. This wasn't something for fun anymore, this was something that he needed to break up.

He found them outside the exit of the second dungeon, Alice backflipping away from a yellow bolt of energy that struck the ground where she once stood. Dan stood off to oneside, and yet… it didn't look much like Dan at all.

His body was the same shape, but his fur was now purple and black, and his eyes were a dark, angry red. The hairs on Sam's neck rose up, it was as if the meek and nervous Pokémon that was at the campfire had completely transformed into some kind of demon. Geez – this is what happens when he gets hungry!?

That's Morpeko for you, Sam. Though I would recommend cutting up your second paragraph into two here since it's functionally already a two-parter.

Another bolt of electricity shot out again from the hamster, and Alice once more evaded the attack, the Buneary wincing as she stumbled on her landing. That snapped Sam out of it, and he once more sprinted forward. I've got to try and break this up! But how?!

Wonder Orbs. Just saying, they'd more or less be an easy "fight over" button assuming the rules of who they affect also can extend to associated Pokémon.

Alice was already coiling up, teeth bared as if ready to lunge for the Morpeko. Sparks flowed around the latter's body, prepared to fire another bolt off. Sod it!

The two opponents took one step forward, but one step too late as Sam skidded in between them. "Cut it out!" he barked; arms outstretched.

Both Pokémon jerked back for a moment, a flicker of confusion running across their faces. Alice recovered first, her face somehow reddening under her fur.

"What the hell are you doing you idiot!?" she raged.

Another spot where IMO, you have a paragraph that works better as a few smaller ones.

"Trying to break up a fight!" Sam snapped, "All this over a bloody apple?! What are you two thinking!?"

"You don't break up a fight with a hangry Morpeko!" Alice snapped, "Unless you've brought something for him to eat!"

"To eat? Why would-"

He nearly kicked himself as the truth realization finally kicked in. Hangry. Morpeko had one hell of an appetite. And when they got hungry…

Crap.

Sam:
Image


That was when Dan's teeth chowed down onto his arm.

The pain rushed up his arm like wildfire, an agonised yell rang through the air as he tried to yank his arm away from the Morpeko, his teeth sinking deeper into his arm until a faint flicker of blood began to rise to the surface.

"Hungry… meat!" Dan growled, gnawing on the flesh of his arm. "G-Get off me!"

Sam bellowed, slamming his free hand down onto the hamster's head, the creature barely flinching as his eyes brightened, biting down even further. Desperate, Sam kept trying to pull away, hitting Dan again but to no avail. The pain was all he could think about, and how to get free of it all.

Well, this encounter with Dan sure went to some places quickly. Though boy are those some dark implications for what Morpeko get up to in this setting when in their hangry state.
:copyber:


That was when Dan's eyes widened.

Promptly followed by a pair of kicks straight into Morpeko's head. With a yelp, the teeth were released and Sam hit the ground, clutching his bloodied arm. The pain pulsing through his flesh, he managed to look back up to find the Morepko trying to push himself back up. Alice had placed herself in between the Scorbunny and the hangry hamster, teeth bared.

"Think you can eat us, big boy?" she snarled, her ears now glowing white. "Why don't you choke on this!"

Sam: "A-Alice?! D-Dan just tried to eat my arm! How on earth is everyone just okay with this?!"
:eltyscared:

Alice: "Look, don't ask me why the others are being useless loads and just help me knock Dan out before he starts tearing strips of flesh off of us!" >_>;

Dan's eyes widened as one ear, then the next sprung forward across Dan's body. The first blow staggered him back, the second punched him away with a crack into a nearby boulder.

"Dan!" Nia cried, the bat flying in close to Dan's side. Sam shoved himself upright, his heart racing at the danger. "Nia! Don't get close to him."

The hamster shook his head, eyes glowing brighter as they locked onto Nia. Teeth bared, he leaned forward, arm outstretched-

:FearfulMeowth:


Though how on earth did Dan never give advance warning that he got a bit psycho whenever he wasn't well fed given that Morpeko getting Hangry is literally its species gimmick?

A green vine flicked in front of him, a red orb held in its grasp. Dan's mouth immediately snapped open, eyes wide as he leapt forward and grasped onto the apple. The vine released its grip, letting the Morpeko pull the fruit clear as it staggered.

With one fell swoop, Dan swallowed the apple whole before sliding back down the rock, eyes slipping shut as he began to chew. Nia touched down next to the Morpeko, a little winged hand resting on his shoulder as Aidan, Jack and Bruce's Team walked into the clearing.

Groaning, Sam pushed himself back up and onto his feet. Huh… you can calm him down just like that? One apple? I guess it starts small.

Sam: "... I'm sorry, but how are you all just okay with this?!"
:grohno~2:

Alice: "Because literally every Morpeko does some variation of this in this setting? It's like dousing fires accidentally set by Charmander and their tails."
:gardexhausted:


Nia spun round to Alice, pupils turning to slits. "Why did you have to keep pushing him so hard!?" she snapped.

Alice snarled back, "What? You're blaming me for this!?"

Sam: "I'm sorry, but he just tried to eat my arm! Why on earth is Dan being treated as the victim here?!"
:WHY:


"I could have kept him calm enough to get here!" Nia shouted, holding out another apple for the Morpeko to chew on. "If you explained things through to him before you ripped that apple off him…"

[ ]

"And leave that contact to rot? Didn't you want to help him?"

"Of course I do, but did you also have to be such a jerk about it?! Especially with how he was struggling in there! Worrying about what was coming up next!"

... Wait, implying that the contact is still in the Mystery Dungeon right now and they didn't get him out?
:uhhh:


"What else would you expect me to do?" Alice growled, jabbing a finger at the distracted Morpeko, "And if he can't handle some kind of tension, then he shouldn't be here!"

Nia looked away, focusing on Dan, who's fur was slowly beginning to return to normal. Unable to answer. The Buneary looked across the gathered group. Jack looked on with concern, but the others glowered at her with dark looks. Aidan's own glare was so sharp, it felt like it was cutting straight through her.

I mean, just saying, not that Alice isn't being super prickly and abrasive right now, but it's hard to argue that she doesn't have a point and I'm kinda leaning more towards her camp than everyone else's at the moment. I suppose we'll see which side Sam winds up coming down on here.

Slowly, he pulled a thin smirk, one so venomous that it could poison Sam just from looking at. "Once again, all you do is just get people hurt, don't you? You can put on the tough girl act, but hurting people is all you are really good at."

Wow, Aidan, just wow.

Aidan… Sam thought, his body stiffening and shuddering. What the hell are you doing!?

Whelp, I'll take that as a sign that Sam's going to wind up on Team Alice for this exchange here.

Alice took one step forward, eyes flashing red whilst she shuddered before them.

"If you really think I'm like that, then why don't you put me down? If you really think I'm nothing than a monster, then come on! Finish me off already!" she screamed, her entire body tensioning.

Sam: "Um. Alice? What the hell was that? Your eyes aren't supposed to flicker red like that, are they?"
:wtfuckle:


[ ]

Jack fluttered in, "Hey guys… this isn't cool, can we just-"

"Come on then!" Bruce snapped, vines rising from his back, "I'm looking for some payb-"

"ENOUGH!"

It might make sense to show more of Sam's reaction to everything going down here, since the reactions on both sides of this exchange are things that have the potential to be highly off-putting and concerning to him. Since on the one hand, everybody's essentially ganging up on Alice and effectively bullying her, while Alice... honestly feels like she's about to snap and bite someone's face off.

Everyone froze, staring with utter shock. Sam had stepped in front of Alice, blocking Bruce' own attempt to come forward and attack. His chest burned, overwhelming the now distant warmth of his blood dripping down his arm. His foot rested on a single pebble, a faint wisp of smoke slowly rising from the heated stone.

"Can we stop having a go at each of other because of curses or any bloody pointless bullshit!" he barked.

Sam: "Seriously! What the hell even happened to make you all like this?! I thought that you were all supposed to be teammates!"
:WHY:


[ ]

"Sam…" Aidan started, but Sam swivelled on him, his fist tightening.

"No! You and Bruce have been just as big a pair of assholes yourselves!"

I mean, yeah. Aidan honestly needed that since unless he's got something he wants to share about Alice with the audience right about now, that earlier line of his to her was really low and cruel.

Bruce could only blink in confusion and shock, whilst Aidan looked genuinely pained at the statement, eyes flicking away. Sam took a glance behind him, to find even Alice was stunned and speechless, her mouth hanging ajar as she was frozen in place.

"If we keep fighting each other like this, then we might as well pack our things and go home! Because at this rate, none of us are worthy of joining the Guild!" Sam shouted. "People made some mistakes, so just take it on the chin and move the bloody hell on rather than picking at each other over it!"

Sam, not that everyone isn't acting horrible to Alice, but you probably want to find out why they're treating her like this beyond the vague "oh, she's cursed" before putting yourself out on a limb like this.

The clearing fell into silence, every pair of eyes fixed onto the panting Sam. A part of him screamed at this madness, calling everyone a jerk for having ago at other jerks. But it had to be said, he was just tired of all this antagonism. All this word-shiving.

The ache began to return the front of his mind, and the Scorbunny slumped as he grasped onto his bleeding arm. The Yanma, part of Bruce's team, fluttered forward and tapped on the Bulbasaur's side, whispering something to him. Faint enough that even Sam couldn't hear it. Bruce's features softened for a moment, before shaking his head and backing away.

"Fine." He growled, "I don't need to prove myself to you anyway." Together, he and his team turned and made their way back up towards the camp. [ ]

"Oh no no no… I-I'm so sorry, I just couldn't-"

I think that you're missing a sentence or two of transition for Sam to realize that he's offended Bruce and is starting to freak out about it. Though honestly, this feels like about the point to just let him walk and seriously consider bailing on the guild entirely. Since everyone's reaction to Alice trying to keep Dan from mauling another rookie is just to blame her for things getting into that state to begin with and then they just leave Sam's arm to bleed this entire time.

I guess I should've seen the possibility that the guild wouldn't be one big hunky-dory family from how off-the-rails the "Hello World" sequence of this fic went, but this is still genuinely surprising to see unfold. Especially when the protagonist's own partner is being swept up in the group bullying that's coding everyone involved as giant assholes.

The Scorbunny turned to find that Dan's fur colour had returned to normal and his eyes wide in horror, staring down at his bloodied arm.

"It's fine." Sam said woodenly, waving his unwounded arm loosely in reply, "It happens."

Dan could only look away, eyes squeezed shut.

Sam: "Also, am I going to get this treated now, or...? Since I've kinda just been standing here and bleeding this entire time." ^^;

Nia helped the Morpeko to his feet, before looking back to Buneary, her tone surprisingly soft.

"Sorry." She said, "We'll leave a seat for you at the camp."

Tearing her eyes away, Nia and Dan set off to follow Team Forest. Jack taking one final look at the remaining Pokémon, his eyes sparkling for a moment as he looked towards Sam, before finally setting off to follow.

I mean, at least Nia and Dan seem to have come around to the idea that they were being unreasonable and awful to Alice? So it's something? Even if it's a bit worrisome that nobody else has given the "yeah, that was a bit too far of me, my bad" routine from the other rookies present.

When Sam turned back to Alice, she was still half frozen, shoulders slumped. As if struggling to process the whole scene. All her original malice was now gone. Now she looked… actually rather sad.

"A-Alice?" he asked quietly, his next words failing to materialise.

She blinked once, her clouded eyes clearing as she looked back over him. She took a breath, as if ready to say something, a hand resting on her chest… but then the deep scrawl returned.

"I told you." She finally said, "Stop trying to help me."

Alice: "Look, this is just who I am, okay? Just let it go. You're not going to accomplish anything by trying to change things other than just get dragged down by me."
:gardexhausted:

Sam: "(... I'm sorry, but why are you just accepting this?! That was horrible earlier!)"
:grohno~2:


Sam felt a pang of grief as the Buneary shook her head, and hopped back down the path after the others. Alice…

He went to turn after her, only to stumble forward – and into the supporting blue arm. "I've got you partner." Aidan said quietly, pushing the Scorbunny back up. Sam could only blink, "You… you're not angry?"

Sam:
:absus:

Aidan: "... Is that a 'maybe'?"
:fearfullaugh~1:


"Not really." Aidan bluntly admitted, "I think we all needed that drilled in our heads, me included. Thanks for reminding me about that."

Oh. I didn't realize that the tail end of that paragraph was meant to be dialogue from Sam. Though yeah, that's part of the reason why in past reviews, I'd harped on about making a point of not mixing dialogue from different characters in the same paragraph.

His limbs heavy, Sam could only return a shaky nod. A-Aidan doesn't mind? Even after that?

Sam, I realize that you don't want to nuke your budding friendships in an alien world, but you should probably be a bit more worried about how casually Aidan joined that cruel pile-on with Alice there. Like maybe there's an in-setting reason where it makes sense under a set of logic, but still.

"Trust me, you'll still my mate." Aidan stressed, "We all have bad moments. Now come on, let's get that arm checked out."

Sam: "... Right, I'm honestly surprised that I hadn't been screaming bloody murder from how much of this stuff has been coming out." ^^;

Sam blew out a bemused wheeze. "Huh… I didn't think I would have someone try and eat me today…"

Aidan let out a quiet chuckle, "It'll make a good story later. Either way, nothing a good oran berry can fix."

The two shared a steadier, more relaxed laugh as they made their way back towards the camp.

Well, all's well that ends... not as bad as it could've. I suppose we'll see how quickly these two smooth things over in future chapters. Like my assumption is that they'll make nice in short order, but I can't get over how we even got to this moment the first place when it's very contrary to how more conventional PMD stories would operate.
:copyka2:

Alright, made it to the end. It's been a while since I last read this story, so apologies if I was a bit rusty on the details of stuff in this chapter. Though I kinda gather that GoB's "thing" as a story is getting people to expect the conventional given that it's set in canonworld, and then smashing those expectations to pieces with something that runs counter to them. Since in the games, this sort of moment would be the point where the guild all happily rallies around the struggling party member in their midst while here, they just... didn't, and even went the extra step of kicking her while she was down and were about to gang up and beat her up in an unfair dogpile before Sam turned around and gave a "what the hell, hero" moment to everyone, including his own partner. It's definitely not something a lot of stories in this genre do, but it seems to be used to pretty good effect thus far.

I saw some issues here and there regarding this chapter, including some spots throughout where I thought that some combination of the wording and paragraph formatting was a bit wonky. I can't tell whether or not the course of action Jack, Esper, and the others are taking with regard to Tracy and Oliver is a bug or a feature in this story, though it did strike me as something that was a bit callous and that IRL would be bait for causing massive issues in short order. We'll see if that comes to pass in later chapters.

The real big standout "structural issue" that nagged at me while reading through things was that there were parts where it felt like more description was called for, whether to better visualize certain moments, or more importantly, to get into Sam's head as the viewpoint character. There were a couple moments of the whole big showdown between Sam and the rest of the guild party where I basically had to use guesswork to suss out the intended vibe since it wasn't provided, while doing so would've likely made that sequence in general hit a bit harder to read.

But altogether, I think that it's a pretty good chapter @StolenMadWolf . Thanks for taking on this review exchange on such short notice, and I hope that the feedback I had for this chapter was helpful for you. ^^
 

StolenMadWolf

Loony Moony
Pronouns
He/They
Heya, heard that you were almost done with that review exchange we signed up for due to both missing the boat on offsite V-Wheel, so I figured that it was about time for me to jam out my end of things with a review of…

Chapter 15

Because you're a bunny right now and she's a bunny too, so there's probably a part of you that subconsciously finds her cute?
:gardeshrug~1:




Also, see above, really. >:V



Some small suggestions for rephrasing some wording here and there in this part. Though huh. Was Aidan depicted having headaches last chapter? Since I actually don't remember that really being mentioned while this line implies he's been having them recurringly since getting zapped by the ex-Rescuer Electrike. If the idea is that these headaches just started after Chapater 14 but have been stubbornly persistent, it might make sense to be clearer about that in the narration.



Ah yes, just going out and walking in the night when you're a foot-tall rabbit. I take it that Sam never read Watership Down when he was a human, since there's a reason why the Grim Reaper figure in that book was associated with the moon.
:copyka:




This paragraph feels long enough that it probably makes sense to divide it up. Though something about the bit in underlined feels like it's "missing" something, maybe more of an indication that Sam's stopping to think or something like that?



Sam: "... Wait, do I really want to get that close to their tent since I'm pretty sure that they still have that Electrike that went nuts with them right now?"
:copyka2:




I think that it might make sense to give a bit more reminders for the audience about "right, the Electrike", since from Sam's perspective, he's probably not familiar enough with Zack to reflexively namedrop him in his thoughts like this.



I mean, Sam did kick him into a rock wall that collapsed on him, which if you were playing that realistically...
:copyka:




Wait, can Sam see anything of these guys' silhouettes moving or whatever? If so, it might make sense to from time to time mention what exactly he's seeing of what's going on with the expedition leaders in their tent.



IMO, Sam's phrasing should be played around with to focus more on the
:uhhh:
-ness of what these guys are implying about Zack's present condition, which probably makes more sense to steer him towards "Zack's having problems" towards the end of his train of thought.



I mean, you did kick him into a wall which then collapsed on him. If this story isn't playing the "built tough" angle for Pokémon... well...
:copyber:




So feralized Pokémon can still have nightmares. Assuming that their feralized state isn't percieved as a nightmare from their end. Duly noted.



Sam:
:VidriBlink:

"(Wait, we have a second camp right now? Was that mentioned before?)"



Oh, that's a good sign for what's going on with Tracy and Oliver right now... not.
:copyka2:




I kinda wonder if Sam should have any more thoughts about Jack and the gang keeping all of this so hush-hush from him and the rest of the rookie crew, since... yeah, you'd think that he'd be side-eying harder at the idea of being kept in the dark in the middle of a bad situation for the team.



I kinda wonder if that should've been foreshadowed a bit more with him being tired in his thoughts on his way over to the tent only to be kept up by the subject matter of Jack et al that he overhears or something like that.



Sam: "... (So, are they going to acknowledge those two missing 'mons at all before we just get into the swing of things today, or...?)"



Wait, what exactly is informing this sentiment again? Since it wasn't mentioned anywhere that Sam saw Zack being carried out of the tent in live-time. If the idea is that isn't visible in the tent from a glimpse, we should both get that glimpse, and that "is already being" should become "has already been".



:copyka:


Ah yes, just going ahead and playing off the missing duo from the group as "... right, we totally meant to send them off ahead, go find them for us, please". What could possibly go wrong here?



>"""If"""

Wait, so is there a specific reason why Esper and the others aren't just coming clean about how Tracy and Oliver are missing? Like I get that they don't want to panic the rookies, but you'd think that this would be a situation where being honest about what's going on, even if it's uncomfortable, would be paramount for the safety of the kids since they have no idea what on earth happened to those two beyond that they think that they're somewhere in the Mystery Dungeon still.



Might make sense to give a feel for how the broader group is reacting to these instructions or something like that.



Wait, 'resemblance' to a Corvisquire? Meaning that it's not one? Does Sam not recognize the species of who they're going after or something? Is this meant to be a Rookidee? If so, it might make sense to provide more description of the physical appearance than this for readers to work with.



I... kinda wonder if we should've seen more about what Sam thinks of whatever is going on here. Since it feels like a good chance to show how eager (or not) he is to go off into this dungeon after all the disquieting little things that he heard from the night before, but it's not really shown at the moment.



Some suggested rephrasings here. Though it might also be worth putting in 2-3 throwaway moves mentioned to establish the sorts of moves that Sam and Aidan have had to deal with in their new mission.



This paragraph is long enough that it IMO should be at least 3 smaller ones. Also, for the bit in underlined there, I kinda wonder if the sentiment should be "shown" more through Sam's direct thoughts or something, since something about it feels very "informed attribute right now.



Hm, maybe they just did have volunteers after all. Though that's making me
:copyka2:
a bit at whatever became of Tracy and Oliver since it means that Jack and the gang were completely on their own for trying to find out whatever happened to them while the others were busy with their training.



Wait, implying that there's time dilation in these Mystery Dungeons? Or just that Corvisquire went in a couple hours ago and has just been camping this one spot?



Oh, so this guy normally does mail runs, huh? Since I remember that Robinswood had a thing for Fletchling and Rookidee line 'mons, so...



Yeah, I figured from that "flying everywhere" comment. Though it might make sense to show more of Sam/Aidan's reaction or thoughts to Perry's earlier wingflick for bait for a little lulzy moment.



Sam: "... He's going to be at this all day, isn't he?"
:eltyunamused:

Aidan: "More or less, yeah." >_>;



I can already see Sam and Aidan's
:wtfuckle:
faces in live time right about now.



Oh, so Perry already heard about Sam's arrival through the grapevine and put two and two together that he's a human, huh? Or at least I think that's the implication from that line of his there.



Wait, were 'balls' supposed to be 'Orbs', as in the item there? Otherwise I'm not really sure what this is supposed to be if it's not a double-entendre (even if it's a bit surprising that a bird would think of that quip considering bird anatomy).



Damn, Perry's got some bite to back up that bark of his. Wonder if we'll see him joining up with Sam and Aidan at some point in the future, since he clearly has an interest in seeing where these two wind up going given that at minimum he at least has a hunch that Sam's a human and knows what the batting average for humans getting up to hijinks is in his world.



I think that you're missing a bit where Sam has a "wait, how do I know this?" bit as he realizes he's remembering stuff from his old life. Though I can't tell whether or not Perry's gun miming is meant to be a sign that he himself is human or else if that's just a humanism that's rubbed off onto the Pokémon of GoB's world through contact with past humans.



Yeah, this guy's going to be a recurring character, I can already tell. Even if he feels like he's a bit Wrong Genre Savvy given how the opening of this story already careened way, way off-course relative to the "stock PMD story" that Perry expects Sam and Aidan to get up to.



And Wrong Genre Savvy, but hey, you can't say that he didn't make a fun first impression there. ^^



Wait, are they leaving the hard way or just badging out here? It might make sense to mention things a bit more explicitly along with any internal thoughts about "right, we did our part of our mission" or something like that.



Waaaaaait, but if Perry dipped out of the Mystery Dungeon already, wouldn't Jack already know about this given that he and the rest of the instructors keep in touch with one another?



I wonder if this should've been brought up a bit more in the introductory paragraph, since at first, I got the vibe that Sam and Aidan's journey through the Mystery Dungeon after finding Perry was easy and not particularly hard.

Though yeah, I'm starting to get a bit worried about all those other teams right now given that Aidan didn't exactly strike me as the most experienced member from the entire batch.
:copyka:




IMO, the bit of description right before Bruce's "Not again" line can afford to be expanded a bit in both directions to play up his reaction a bit for readers so they can get a bit of a laugh at it.



I have to wonder what on earth happened to her old teams anyways given that the way that others were treating Alice in the past gave off a bit of a vibe that they saw Alice as a jinx or something like that.



Jack: "Also seriously, would it kill you to wait until I'm out of earshot to badmouth your peers?" >_>;



... Wait, wasn't it Nia's team who had Alice on it? Or am I tripping and misremembering there?
:copyka2:




It might make sense to show Sam's reaction to Nia's account, especially about their contact 'not waking up' in detail, especially if he's already starting to connect the dots with "... Wait, that sounds a lot like what happened with Zack." from the night before.



I mean, given that the plot of the Adventure Squad games is literally Pokémon coming to blows over cookies... yes?
:gardeshrug~1:




Sam:
:uhhh:

Aidan: "Yeah, in case if you haven't noticed. But this sort of stuff happening with Alice's team is kind of a trend. Which is why we don't like dealing with her."
:mewtwofacepalm:




That's Morpeko for you, Sam. Though I would recommend cutting up your second paragraph into two here since it's functionally already a two-parter.



Wonder Orbs. Just saying, they'd more or less be an easy "fight over" button assuming the rules of who they affect also can extend to associated Pokémon.



Another spot where IMO, you have a paragraph that works better as a few smaller ones.



Sam:
Image




Well, this encounter with Dan sure went to some places quickly. Though boy are those some dark implications for what Morpeko get up to in this setting when in their hangry state.
:copyber:




Sam: "A-Alice?! D-Dan just tried to eat my arm! How on earth is everyone just okay with this?!"
:eltyscared:

Alice: "Look, don't ask me why the others are being useless loads and just help me knock Dan out before he starts tearing strips of flesh off of us!" >_>;



:FearfulMeowth:


Though how on earth did Dan never give advance warning that he got a bit psycho whenever he wasn't well fed given that Morpeko getting Hangry is literally its species gimmick?



Sam: "... I'm sorry, but how are you all just okay with this?!"
:grohno~2:

Alice: "Because literally every Morpeko does some variation of this in this setting? It's like dousing fires accidentally set by Charmander and their tails."
:gardexhausted:




Sam: "I'm sorry, but he just tried to eat my arm! Why on earth is Dan being treated as the victim here?!"
:WHY:




... Wait, implying that the contact is still in the Mystery Dungeon right now and they didn't get him out?
:uhhh:




I mean, just saying, not that Alice isn't being super prickly and abrasive right now, but it's hard to argue that she doesn't have a point and I'm kinda leaning more towards her camp than everyone else's at the moment. I suppose we'll see which side Sam winds up coming down on here.



Wow, Aidan, just wow.



Whelp, I'll take that as a sign that Sam's going to wind up on Team Alice for this exchange here.



Sam: "Um. Alice? What the hell was that? Your eyes aren't supposed to flicker red like that, are they?"
:wtfuckle:




It might make sense to show more of Sam's reaction to everything going down here, since the reactions on both sides of this exchange are things that have the potential to be highly off-putting and concerning to him. Since on the one hand, everybody's essentially ganging up on Alice and effectively bullying her, while Alice... honestly feels like she's about to snap and bite someone's face off.



Sam: "Seriously! What the hell even happened to make you all like this?! I thought that you were all supposed to be teammates!"
:WHY:




I mean, yeah. Aidan honestly needed that since unless he's got something he wants to share about Alice with the audience right about now, that earlier line of his to her was really low and cruel.



Sam, not that everyone isn't acting horrible to Alice, but you probably want to find out why they're treating her like this beyond the vague "oh, she's cursed" before putting yourself out on a limb like this.



I think that you're missing a sentence or two of transition for Sam to realize that he's offended Bruce and is starting to freak out about it. Though honestly, this feels like about the point to just let him walk and seriously consider bailing on the guild entirely. Since everyone's reaction to Alice trying to keep Dan from mauling another rookie is just to blame her for things getting into that state to begin with and then they just leave Sam's arm to bleed this entire time.

I guess I should've seen the possibility that the guild wouldn't be one big hunky-dory family from how off-the-rails the "Hello World" sequence of this fic went, but this is still genuinely surprising to see unfold. Especially when the protagonist's own partner is being swept up in the group bullying that's coding everyone involved as giant assholes.



Sam: "Also, am I going to get this treated now, or...? Since I've kinda just been standing here and bleeding this entire time." ^^;



I mean, at least Nia and Dan seem to have come around to the idea that they were being unreasonable and awful to Alice? So it's something? Even if it's a bit worrisome that nobody else has given the "yeah, that was a bit too far of me, my bad" routine from the other rookies present.



Alice: "Look, this is just who I am, okay? Just let it go. You're not going to accomplish anything by trying to change things other than just get dragged down by me."
:gardexhausted:

Sam: "(... I'm sorry, but why are you just accepting this?! That was horrible earlier!)"
:grohno~2:




Sam:
:absus:

Aidan: "... Is that a 'maybe'?"
:fearfullaugh~1:




Oh. I didn't realize that the tail end of that paragraph was meant to be dialogue from Sam. Though yeah, that's part of the reason why in past reviews, I'd harped on about making a point of not mixing dialogue from different characters in the same paragraph.



Sam, I realize that you don't want to nuke your budding friendships in an alien world, but you should probably be a bit more worried about how casually Aidan joined that cruel pile-on with Alice there. Like maybe there's an in-setting reason where it makes sense under a set of logic, but still.



Sam: "... Right, I'm honestly surprised that I hadn't been screaming bloody murder from how much of this stuff has been coming out." ^^;



Well, all's well that ends... not as bad as it could've. I suppose we'll see how quickly these two smooth things over in future chapters. Like my assumption is that they'll make nice in short order, but I can't get over how we even got to this moment the first place when it's very contrary to how more conventional PMD stories would operate.
:copyka2:

Alright, made it to the end. It's been a while since I last read this story, so apologies if I was a bit rusty on the details of stuff in this chapter. Though I kinda gather that GoB's "thing" as a story is getting people to expect the conventional given that it's set in canonworld, and then smashing those expectations to pieces with something that runs counter to them. Since in the games, this sort of moment would be the point where the guild all happily rallies around the struggling party member in their midst while here, they just... didn't, and even went the extra step of kicking her while she was down and were about to gang up and beat her up in an unfair dogpile before Sam turned around and gave a "what the hell, hero" moment to everyone, including his own partner. It's definitely not something a lot of stories in this genre do, but it seems to be used to pretty good effect thus far.

I saw some issues here and there regarding this chapter, including some spots throughout where I thought that some combination of the wording and paragraph formatting was a bit wonky. I can't tell whether or not the course of action Jack, Esper, and the others are taking with regard to Tracy and Oliver is a bug or a feature in this story, though it did strike me as something that was a bit callous and that IRL would be bait for causing massive issues in short order. We'll see if that comes to pass in later chapters.

The real big standout "structural issue" that nagged at me while reading through things was that there were parts where it felt like more description was called for, whether to better visualize certain moments, or more importantly, to get into Sam's head as the viewpoint character. There were a couple moments of the whole big showdown between Sam and the rest of the guild party where I basically had to use guesswork to suss out the intended vibe since it wasn't provided, while doing so would've likely made that sequence in general hit a bit harder to read.

But altogether, I think that it's a pretty good chapter @StolenMadWolf . Thanks for taking on this review exchange on such short notice, and I hope that the feedback I had for this chapter was helpful for you. ^^

Hey @Spiteful Murkrow thanks for the review again there! I've just completed my half of the exchange as well! I appreciate the feedback.

I'm glad to see that the story is still hitting that 'seeming conventional then blows everything out of the water' vibe, as I do like the story to make that kind of impact. I kinda had a feeling there would be more structural issues in that chapter, as it's coming upto the point where GoB chapters started getting increasingly long and I hadn't been as mechanically mecticlous as I am know, especially as I started digging into more fluff. If I can find the time, I'll have to go back and rework some of the details of that chapter and the last one.

Just to add a few extra details here with what you noticed. First of all, the discussion regarding Team Nitro, AKA Zeke/Zack (There is admittedly a later typo where Zack accidently gets called Zeke, and I ended up both missing outright and rolled with that one as I never had much time to go back and correct that, or hell, even make that an amusing character detail) and his companions, I should have specified that the Team had been missing for a while, and given the nature of Zack/Zeke being found combined with the nation of the dungeons... there isn't that much hope on their survival. It was left vague for that reason as Sam doesn't hear the full conversation.

And regarding Perry and the... *ahem*... balls... to put it simply, Perry became very Meta. He was referring to the main Pokemon games having a common gag of the kid protaganist getting let out their parent's sight to wander across an entire region without supervision. The *balls* being Pokeballs. As Aidan said... Perry's wierd. You can expect plenty more Perry madness.
 
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