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Pokémon What the Gods Gave Me

Nekodatta

Junior Trainer
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. koraidon-apex
  2. miraidon-ultimate
I'm here for the Catnip review!

- Chapter 3 -
This chapter was incredibly interesting with Atlas trying to explain psychic powers to Aeimlou, both as a concept in itself and how they work in the fic but especially because they've being explained by someone who's used to them.

I also didn't expect Atlas to believe him when he said he was a raven before, but I suppose that sharing a psychic connection makes it easier to feel that someone is sincere.

Atlas also speaks of "being chosen", which makes me wonder if it's something of a known phenomena in the world. Are there past reports of other "ascensions", maybe?

The scene at the lab watching the starters being given from a not human point of view was interesting, with Aeimlou initially thinking of the trainers as becoming "mothers" and Atlas admitting after a moment that staying with their real parents would be better, at least purely from the "raising them" point of view.

Using Aeimlou who's completely new to all of this is an interesting way of having both Pokémon and humans illustrate their respective point of views, I really like that. He also seems completely "neutral" to it, at least for now, so I'm curious if he will form more opinions about human-Pokémon society.

I admit I didn't expect too see Atlas becoming his trainer, aww
This will be interesting!
 
Chapter Ten: The Bus Chapter

tomatorade

The great speckled bird
Location
A town at the bottom of the ocean
Pronouns
He/Him
Partners
  1. quilava
  2. buizel
Chapter ten
The bus chapter


The upright beams of Skyarrow bridge whipped by in a gray blur. The first signs of the city came through as colourful smudges of early-morning cyclists puffing their way alongside them. Atlas stirred beside her. Despite sulking in his chair, acting like a petty bitch made from melting jello, he couldn’t stop sneaking glances at Aeimlou as the busy bee nibbled on some little girl’s apple.

If there’s one benefit Hilda thought would come from the bus, it would be the easy distractions. Shiny metal things and shinier Unovan urbanites to keep Aeimlou occupied. Plus, enough space for him and Atlas to trail after each other like confused litten and leave her alone.

She should’ve known never to assume things would just work out. To be fair, she didn’t expect Atlas to be the one causing problems. Of all the times he decided to show his age and yammer on about dumb shit, it had to be now, trapping her against the window of a bus.

Hilda rubbed her eyes. Maybe she could pretend to fall asleep.

Oh, but who the fuck was she kidding. This was Atlas. He’d just read her brainwaves or some shit.

“I don’t know what you expected,” she grumbled. Leaned back. Tried to crick her neck against the scratchy, fabric headrest.

It’s jarring to think about, Hilda. Even acknowledging these sorts of hierarchies worries me.

“He was a bird a week ago, what the fuck are you talking about?”

He’s quite intelligent.


He was a bird!” Hilda snapped. Across from them some wet-haired guy in a suit glanced at her over his newspaper. So she lowered her voice, forcing the words through her teeth in a quiet hiss. “He was like, born a week ago. Let me say this again: what the fuck did you expect? It’s a miracle he can function at all. Who cares he’s not gonna tear down the establishment with you?”

It isn’t about that, Atlas rumbled. His thoughts were so loud Hilda could catch glimpses of faint images—black specks passing through an open sky, a group of humans huddled around an open fire, flickers of energy, blasts of water, electric lances.

“Then what?”

Atlas took a while to answer. He couldn’t keep his attention away from Aeimlou, either—and Hilda was forced to share in some of that even as he clearly tried to steer the mix of different warmths from comforting to burning.

She scratched her neck. Tried to draw attention away from it. She should be familiar with these kind of images. It’s most of how he talked, anyways, but she couldn’t help but feel intrusive. Only these days, though. There used to be a wonder there that now only poked out in one of Altas’ rare moods.

Atlas was her only concession to selfishness back when she still rooted around for pokemon like a tepig rooted for truffles. She had wandered through route 5. Got slapped by an image so strong she still hadn’t forgotten it. And after a quick bit of research resolved to catch herself a solosis. Atlas. She wanted to believe he’d sent her the image, but that was probably bullshit.

And just a memory of a river, anyway.

Atlas found his bearings.

I don’t know. I suppose I’m insecure. It’s not my place to teach in this way. It’s too close to what I dislike.

He paused. Calmed a little and seemed to let her have some quiet. She huffed and took it, at least until she gathered the courage to be compassionate and reply.

They passed through the big blocks, the bank blocks and highrise monoliths that drowned the bus in solid fields of shadows as they shuttered to a halt at every overzealous jaywalker and traffic light. Aeimlou still poked his nose at every brief stab of attention, but didn’t seem to notice the honking and commotion just barely leaking through the bus windows. Would he even care? There were millions of people out those windows, but he couldn’t reach them from in here.

Turning out onto the sideroads, up to highway east, took them over another river and into view of the distant smokestacks across the way.

“What did you think you were agreeing to?” Hilda asked, finally. Her breath misted the window and hid her reflection.

Something different.

“We have to teach him, Atlas.”

I don’t trust we’ll do a good job.

Hilda shrugged, leaning into the harsh plastic wall of the bus.

“You don't trust I’ll do a good job, you mean.”

To his credit, Atlas didn’t show much shame. Some disgruntled creature wriggled through their connection. One he definitely stole from her.

Interpret that any way you want.

“Yeah, well…”

They sank back into silence. Not awkwardly, though. Hilda’d known enough of that in the back of government cars. Awkward silence was trying to find something to say—this was knowing what the other would say and not needing to elaborate.

Still, there were some gaps. She leaned to her other side. Against the armrest, feeling Atlas’ cool gel slick the hairs on her arm. A hand trying to warm her in the cold.

Maybe she’d visit her mom after Undella.

“You’ll fuck him up no matter what you do.”

That didn’t seem to comfort him. Those turbulent waves started roiling.

That’s the issue.

“Is it? Just try. It’s all you can do. Otherwise, he’ll go somewhere else and get fucked up there.” She bumped his arm in some weird example of a handshake. He jiggled slightly but did not react. “I mean, I trust you more than most other people. He likes you.”

And Atlas wouldn’t say shit to that, but she could feel him press back against her.

The bus rumbled out of the city centre and into the suburbs, all these plain-roofed squares of shingles sprawling beneath the slats of the Pedestrian East bridge crossing the river. They wouldn’t spend much time there. Already, the houses thinned and the roads widened and rows of strip malls sat marooned in great parking lots where the lawns used to be. Hilda let out a breath. She leaned back against her seat. Her hair was greasy, pooling around her shoulders and sticking around her neck.

It was too cold to swim, but she’d get a shower in Undella. If only at the pokemon center. She was used to rivers, though, so how the fuck could she complain?

“Yeah, I get it,” she said. To herself.

She couldn’t be the one to make Atlas happy. Still, she was the only person he talked to. Could find a good kind of silence with. Aeimlou was his second best and they'd only know each other a week or so.

“I was talking to him,” she slipped in. Slyly, she hoped.

About what? Atlas asked, sitting up as much as he could. His body jiggled and the squiggly patterns on his seat turned to wobbly little smiles through his gel.

What? Concerned, maybe? Hilda could almost smirk.

“I’m not telling you.”

He rippled.

I should be worried, then.


“You could always ask him.”

He paused, an electric shock passing between them as if he’d been caught. It scattered quickly, into a dulling chill.

Oh. Very subtle, Hilda.

“Just have a fuckin’ conversation with him. Why are you still here? Poor bastard hasn’t been able to needle a single other person yet without his talking-mouth blob to speak for him.” She crossed her arms, waggling her eyebrows at the young couple confusedly trying to sort out what Aeimlou meant by a series of coos and hand gestures. “And it’s not like there’s ten million other opportunities and a hundred years to do that shit. He needs it now, mom.”

Atlas sighed--an odd gurgling sound that echoed in Hilda's skull.

Fine.

He pushed himself off the armrest, leaving a carpet of stray fabric hairs reaching for him from the seat. None stuck to him, somehow.

Whether his turbulence on rising was because of the bus rolling out onto an uncertain, pothole-ridden highway or his lingering discomfort, Hilda couldn’t tell. He pretended to be finished with her. Took a long look back and sent her something strong. As if he’d decided this.

Drama queen.

At least she had a second to herself.

Well, until she looked out the window. A solid rush of green blew past a second. Then she blinked and the dead, gray ocean stared back at her. They couldn’t be far off, now.

Great.
 

Z102eternal

Bug Catcher
Location
United States of America
Pronouns
He/Him
Hello~! Dropping off a smeargle swap! I hope I nailed him well enough!

Aeimlou.png
 
Chapter Eleven: Opposititis

tomatorade

The great speckled bird
Location
A town at the bottom of the ocean
Pronouns
He/Him
Partners
  1. quilava
  2. buizel
Chapter eleven
Opposititis


Undella beach should be empty. Early still in time and season. At least, the desolate square of gravel lined by stilted log benches said so.

Well, not quite desolate. One dark car—a solid black from tires to windows—watched, lonely, across the sea and to the faint crowns of rocks that hid with the bobbing of the waves.

And the man who leaned against the hood and tried very hard to look like he belonged.

“You guys should go,” Hilda mumbled. Atlas and Aeimlou hovered behind her, still watching the far road, squinting through a cloud of dust that lingered in the wake of the bus. “Just get lost for a while. You remember the pokemon center?”

A hard question bubbled up from Atlas and dangled between them. Then he must have seen it, too. He cut the question and let it flatten against the road.

He bobbed midair.

I understand. Come, Aeimlou. We can talk elsewhere.

Aeimlou tilted his head. Pointy nose scrunching up between fast blinking eyes.

Hilda couldn’t feel it directly, but Atlas showed him something. Intimate, based on what she’d known. A memory deep in the corner of Driftveil, thin tent nylon against her back, shivering. She couldn't hug a cold body like she used to hug her blanket, so they could only share comforting thoughts.

I understand, Aeimlou said. And nodded. Like she used to when she didn’t understand.

But he still floated after Atlas and into the forest and that’s all that mattered.

Now for the team.

Releasing your pokemon needed more of a delicate process than dumbass teenagers realised. Hilda had her own strategy. Sepira first. As respect, though the serperior didn’t like to pretend she cared. All she needed was a spot to unfurl, fernlike and regal. And a bow to send her off.

Kid and Butch always came out together. A scrafty and mienshao were an unlikely duo, especially since she found them halfway across Unova. Especially since half the time they came out hissing and spitting at each other. But whatever. All they did was brood when they were alone and she had no clue what knotted bullshit they got their relationship into. So they came out together. This time was nice enough. Thankfully for Hilda’s mood they decided they’d listen and took a head start down the rocky beach path and across to Undella proper.

Ace would probably never fully trust the rest of the team—blame that on waking up a million years after your species went extinct—but she could at least tolerate them now. Even if that meant forcing Hilda to release her last so she could dart to the nearest tree, rip up through understory in a mess of cracking branches, prehistoric squawks and loose feathers, and perch on the summit, a flimsy, bendy arm of pine bowing under her weight until she felt comfortable enough to glide in whatever direction she decided. Screeching the whole way.

And Hilda wondered if Ace knew she wasn’t actually last or just feigned ignorant for Hilda’s benefit. Either way, Giran always came out last. Some dumbass once told her releasing a chandelure without backup would kill her.

Coward.

She kind of got it, though. Giran liked to throw a fit no matter how many times she told him people didn't build mansions in the middle of forests and those they did build tended to have people living in them. But he was too sensitive of a candle to do much harm except to the carpets of dead leaves or Sepira, when she let him.

Juniper said once she’d found evidence chandelure existed before the mansions they liked to haunt. Which seemed like some sort of existential crisis, but whatever. There were plenty of empty buildings in Undella for him to fuck around in, so Hilda gave him the good news, took his happy little chime on the chin, and watched him float after Kid and Butch.

She almost found herself smiling. Or at least unfolding her arms.

And then she turned back to the very, very, very inconspicuous figure. He’d turned to her, sunglasses perched on the tip of his nose, hair slicked back. He didn’t have his suit on, but a blazer and collared shirt didn’t make him look like less of a cop.

Dickhead. It’s not even summer yet.

~(0)~

It wasn’t even summer yet.

Isaac knew he shouldn’t stress about people coming to Undella because that’s what people do and that’s what Undella is for. But one lone, black car parked on top of the cliff was weird, wasn't it? Nobody was supposed to come to Undella for a while. Not for the seance, definitely not for vacation.

Isaac should still have until summer.

He tried to breathe. Curled his claws around the glowing curtains still draped over his window until they met and ran through his train of thought again. One car didn’t mean a sudden invasion. It didn’t shift the calendar. Spring still filled every little nook of the house with a wet cold and the sun still barely warmed anything. And he shouldn’t be shivering either because he wasn’t cold. It’s not something he felt often anymore.

Mostly tired.

He hadn’t been sleeping. He didn’t think he had to. Sometimes the light would collapse over the forest and he would instinctively yawn despite not knowing where his mouth was. He’d lie on his old, dusty, still sheet-covered bed, and stare at the ceiling until King popped by and dragged him out to train or he got bored.

Except now dull prickles stung the corners of his eyes and found himself unconsciously rubbing them like a crying toddler. The images that stained his vision when he drifted had grown stronger and stronger until they grew colour and form and didn’t leave easily.

He just hoped the nightmare wouldn’t stop by when he finally crashed.

Isaac peeked back through the curtains, struggling to force his eyes open against the light.

The man had left. The car’s dull white headlights stared him down, but at least the man left.

He sighed and slumped against his bed, claws curled around his knees.

When would King get back? The question popped up too much for comfort. It’s not like the bisharp had proved himself besides being a general threat.

He had an aura though. Some sort of boogeyman. That took a liking to him for some reason. Was it weird that Isaac felt safer him with around? Maybe not stomping around the beachouse, but when King went out to wherever he liked to go to, Isaac felt free. An empty beachouse seemed kind of sinister and made him think of his own death that hadn’t actually happened, but the thought that King would be back later kept the heaviness of it away.

Well, normally. When he wasn’t exhausted.

Isaac rose, dragging himself up by the curtains with a grunt. Another cautious glance confirmed that yes, the man had left, so he could dart over the bed and back into the hall without much but a whirl of dizziness passing him under the unlit doorframe. And he could tumble back downstairs and hover across the kitchen and through the living room and find his little comfort spot on the couch, surrounded by a growing pile of things King had shifted around or destroyed. Layers of dissected clothes over moved furniture—stools and chairs and pillows—all on emptied kitchen drawers dumped out and the insides painfully rearranged in metal rows that glowed orange at daybreak. Like the guts of moving boxes waiting to be put in their place.

Isaac fidgeted but would never ask. When he was a kid he liked to build his little kingdom of toys and sticks in the forest, where everything felt strange and un-homely—so the beachouse must be the same to King.

He kept his stare for a while. Hummed to himself and dug his knees so far into his chest they sank in. The light touched him. The soft, fabric brush against his back comforted him. The sounds of the ocean through—

He jolted. His eyes flickered back open, breath held high and tight in his chest. His claws shot up, pinching the edges of his mass and tried to force his eyelids. Open. Not that it had worked the first time—his mass seeped around his claws and settled into a dry squint.

Maybe he should watch TV.

He broke, whining, sounding something like a broken stereo, and thanking everything that King wasn’t there to see him melt down again. Maybe literally, this time. His edges seemed to blur and smudge the corners of his vision an ashen black.

He fumbled forward, claw stretched out to the coffee table. But as his mind caught up to his body and his claws tapped at an empty slab of glass, he found nothing.

Then drew his attention slowly to King’s pile. He couldn’t sort out one thing from another, in there.

Fine. Fuck it. He gave up. Deflated and sank back into his arms, eyes forced shut.

“No nightmares,” he whispered. “No nightmares, no nightmares. Please I— uh… please.”

Even when he tried to force his chin into his chest, counting his breaths and waiting, sleep did not come. Fear kept it away, snarling and biting at the dark whenever it threatened to take him under. Some nausea came with it—whether his fear protected him or not, Isaac still hated it and curled further into himself from it.

And then a knock sounded at the door. Three taps, sharp and resonant.

He almost didn’t want to acknowledge it.

And then thought about it for a moment. Little panicked thoughts shooed away his turmoil for the moment.

He drew himself from his mess. Daylight let him see through the foyer’s floor-to ceiling front windows. Even if they were icy and turned everything on the beach into pixellated blobs of beige and black.

Only now, something pastel floated there, bobbing up and down in migrating dots of yellow, pink and blue. Isaac coughed, but then it caught in his throat.

He felt it.

Even from his spot on the couch, a kind of atmospheric pressure felt over him like a dense, wool blanket. Equal parts stifling and comforting. A sort of instinct that Isacc thought he could let decide for him.

His mind drew back to first meeting King.

I felt your size, the bisharp ground out, echoing still from days before.

Is this what others felt from Isaac? Did everybody else get caught in this funnel that swirled around him? Theirs chased away his sleep, but he didn’t think his would be so inviting—probably ugly and strange and discomforting. Thought that begged the question.

He cleared his throat, still stuck a couple days in the past and wondered if he should open the door instead of desperately trying not to fall asleep..

“Uh… come in!” he called. Maybe too quiet. But not. The door cracked open. A curved head entered first, pale and glowing faintly and built in some facsimile of a swan’s.

They turned this way and that, glowing marble eyes taking in the house with a musical hum.

For the brief moment when their eyes met Isaacs’s and they smiled, he felt younger. In his mind, his snivy’s similar curled snout jerked up at his as she accepted him. A burst of genuine, actual joy cratered in his chest.

What was that?


~(0)~

So what was that?

Midas hissed. He tried to slow, the plume of water kicking up from the surf beneath him thinning to a mist. Even still, psychic pressure compressed under his fins until they dug between his feathers and built in his muscles. With a grunt and a stretch of the neck, he angled himself left, pointed to the human-built bay and let his psychic release, forcing him up and away from the surf.

He put his cloak on just in case. Sensation cut out. Flickered a while until it settled over him like the mist he’d left.

Invisible. Flawlessly. Even to his own eyes, the snout that once prominently stuck into his vision had vanished.

Perfect.

Midas coasted along the cliffs, up and over the trees until he met a sea of resting wingull rather than water. They ruffled as he passed overhead, the minute swirls of current he created eliciting some tired murmurs and croaks.

Otherwise, no fuss. They were incurious creatures.

He’d felt a pulse. A very strong psychic presence cutting through his musings as he felt along the coast for Undella—as directed to him from a discarded human document he’d barely managed to translate with the human words he’d learned. He huffed as he caught sight of the human settlement. He would certainly like not to go near any structure that white, unsightly or unnatural as the homes they built, but…

But the presence didn’t last long enough for him to pick it apart. A teleport, most likely. Also most likely not the new ascension. While Midas picked it up easily, for the average creature teleportation could take years.

Still, the settlement had the same shape as the Undella he expected, and he knew he wouldn’t be the only one speeding over either to take them on or take them in.

Which only meant he wasn’t first.

“An advantage,” he huffed to himself. Revelling in the mist of his breath and the confused waking of some wingull beneath him.

They must have known ahead of time. Mew told them, likely. She had always liked to throw some chaos where it didn’t belong.

Midas could not do much about that, though. Only curse her out and hover along the treeline, watching the occasional hazy silhouettes of people and pokemon alike meander along the path and through town. He could only watch so much, though, when the silhouettes vanished behind a treeline or into a home and the beach quickly emptied, replaced by nothing.

He squinted, ducking closer and closer until his chin brushed the green-budding branches and smelled the cold rain still lingering there.

This was supposed to be a settlement? It seemed remarkably empty. Primitive in the sense that a human creature would need such fortified buildings—and only to leave them alone and undefended. But fine enough—he supposed that made things easier even if it set him on edge to skulk around like a pest.

Hopefully the new legend had killed most already. Doubtful, though he’d heard of worse happening on ascension. Regardless, he took the opportunity to reach fingers of psychic out, twining them through thin branches and over sturdy rocks until they reached where he thought the pulse had come from and split. Millions of invisible needles fired off and the area became awash in every little electric and psychic impulse that had passed through for the last few hours. All pink and vibrant in his mind’s eye.

And he got two mountains and a heavy, sinking void.

He blinked. His first impulse was to imagine he’d done something wrong, but that seemed absurd. And sure enough, shaking his head to dispel it, wrinkling his snout and firing off one more time revealed the same.

Right. Well, he certainly wouldn’t be approaching that void. While the creature next to it almost seemed to fill the hole, Midas could still sense the darkness under it. And it projected something like a claim—not that Midas would want to teach something like that. So the dark thing was unapproachable. And its psychic counterpart seemed refined, far too shiny and edgeless for a newborn.

He scoffed. So the lone mountain it was. With all its ragged, broken edges waiting to be sanded into something useful.

The road met him as he coasted down. A pair of harsh black lines cut through the filtering layer of leaves and led him on, across the open path and to what would be his target. In a few moments, when it emerged from behind the thicket.

He waited, nose fielding so close to the ground that the smell of asphalt and wet leaves consumed him.

And waited.

The first sign was another black path, the long, feathered end of a snout. A sharp triangle cut off by a long white neck and the sudden reemergence of black.

Then Midas recognised the creature. Because he saw the same in the water every morning.

His cloak began to flicker before he could catch it. There, in what seemed like the hours of fumbling to mask himself, a pure, unfiltered, justified heat took him over.

That vile fucking creature.

Midas cut it. Shut himself off. With only the energy to keep still, trembling. He barely knew who he referred to between spikes of rage. Mew or this abomination floating before him, blinking dumbly at the trees with its pet reuniclus beside it.

Either one would be hearing about this.

But he could not move. Even as he ground his teeth until he tasted iron. Even with claws so tight they approached bone. Even as he wanted to rush up to it and take its neck and force it to know his rage.

This thing was born only days ago.

It could not know.

It would be prudent not to let it know.

Midas would not let himself mistake caution for empathy, here. He was only doing this to spite Mew. She would like him to get upset and not care if he cut the head off her… what? Pet project?

No.

Replacement.

What a good word to have echoing around his skull as he watched it scan the road for traffic—as if a car shouldn’t be trivial.

Replacement.

And for what? Only approaching a century, still young, more able and more willing and more competent than every single mortal creature, nevermind the slew of crushingly dull legends he had to contend with.

And yet he was the one being replaced.

It was a sign. One to really start forcing his way to the top rather than playing their game and waiting another thousand years to eat out of someone’s hand for it. But he’d already thought about that, and either way he’d need to train some prodigy.

His Replacement. Or otherwise that dark, void creature.

As the thought caught up to him Midas spat and swore, cutting his teeth on all the worst words in his silent, little bubble, and only quieted when he remembered that he was watching someone.

Who was gone.

Well enough, Midas didn’t think he could stand seeing its face.

And so he took off. In a teleport—still too uncertain about his own rage to move. A brief suction surrounded him, his cloak vanishing into it first. Then all feeling went.

And reappeared all at once.

The smells and sights of earth were replaced by blinding white and cold. Nothing waited in the clouds except him. But the clouds themselves shifted beneath him as if alive and the sounds of the earth pounded like a heartbeat in his ears.

Which might be his own.

~(0)~

It could have been his own.

Aeimlou still buzzed with excitement, breathless and only hovering mildly beside Atlas on the outskirts of the forest. All the stimulation of meeting strange humans on the bus had him sensing everything. From the huge, lingering wave of emotion after, to the baser instincts of creatures like those he used to fight for scraps, to Atlas bobbing absently beside him.

This meant also that he had some difficulty parsing his own feelings from those outside him. Atlas especially, turbulent as ever, filled him with many strange contradictions.

The reuniclus had taken off from Hilda’s side to connect him with the humans on the bus. Aeimlou only considered now that he had quite an advantage with Atlas communicating for him and felt he should be able to learn. He should ask.

But they had talked on Atlas’ request. After leaving the bus, though that same turbulence that he felt through Atlas kept their conversation away a few more moments.

Atlas also acted strange about them talking. He had stressed many things, putting enough emphasis on certain terms that they felt literally heavy between them. And although Aeimlou had listened and intellectually understood every word, his energy had made it difficult to internalise any of it.

So he sort of hummed and nodded along.

Really, Aeimlou could not get his mind off the bus.

How would I impress the rest of the flock? He asked after a while watching Atlas brood. He had peeked at them going off on their own and not one had peeked back.

All the trees shadowing green in Atlas’ gel made a jagged look against the solid lump of his body. He passed through that at the edge of the road, facing the rocky cliffs tumbling down to the beach.

The sea was massive behind him.

Is that what Hilda talks to you about?

In some cases,
Aiemlou said, head tilting back and forth, in one case actually. We talk about training sometimes. Or we talk about you. We also talk about the forest and other humans, some other things also that I cannot remember.

And impressing the rest of the team interests you?


Aeimlou sensed a hook on those words. It was something Hilda also liked to include. Some kind of trick to her sentences that always took the conversation in a direction Aeimlou did not understand.

He enjoyed the game, at least.

Yes. They seem interesting.

How so? They don’t talk to you.

They are all different shapes. And they all vanish as soon as they appear. I do not think you have talked to them, either.

We have nothing to talk about.


Atlas shuddered so slightly Aeimlou only caught the motion with a change in the sunlight’s reflection off his body.

Well, I would like to talk to them. I must impress them.

He got more silence. Atlas plucked little strands between them, sounding out faintly with each one but never quite resonating.

I can help, I suppose.

But then why did he sound so disappointed?

Aeimlou supposed he understood what the hook was about though. He must wait. And so he did, staring out over the flat-top human nests and into the ocean. It did not interest him as much as he thought it should. Everybody he had spoken to liked to talk about it at length. He thought it might be something relegated to Hilda and Atlas—who spoke about it with the hint of a relieved sigh—but everybody on the bus seemed eager merely to pass by.

There certainly was a lot of water.

Which did not hold his interest long. Eventually, he turned back to Atlas, expecting a response.

Atlas had shifted. Only now Aeimlou noticed the chill.

And another creature standing close, just exiting the forest around the near cliffs. It froze as they met eyes. Atlas froze in turn.

Aeimlou did not remember a tall red like that. Nor the clicking-clacking pincers and rows of sharp blades. It looked quite strange. It did live, however. The rise and fall of its chest spoke to that.

He chirped something light.

Hello? He warbled. But to no success. Not a word. Not a twitch. He nosed Atlas’ side for support, the cold of his gel leaving an impression on his cheek.

They’re a bisharp—a dark type. They won’t connect, Attlas responded, shaking him off. And I have no ability to speak out loud. I doubt you’ve learned speech on the bus, correct?

I have not.


Which left them quite awkward between the bisharp and the cliff behind. The terse bonds between them made it obvious Aeimlou should not ignore the threat.

Yet threat seemed an overbearing word. The bisharp simply stood there. Eyes sunk into darkness under its crown. And all of Aeimlou’s attempts to reach psychically simply passed through and felt instead the production of leaves and grass beyond.

Still, it tilted its head. Those mandibles did a pensive shuffle.

It’s time to go, Aeimlou.

Why?

It poses a threat.

It is not doing anything.

Regardless, I have little defence against it and you are inexperienced. How is your flight?


Atlas prodded him backwards and Aeimlou understood the message immediately. A trip down the cliff did not scare him.

Neither did the bisharp.

Why will it not speak to us?

Atlas’ prodding stopped. Or transitioned into an invisible hand over his neck—corralling, holding him closer. More intimate than forceful, but no less stern.

I don't know. I can’t tell you why pokemon won’t talk to you, Aeimlou, he grumbled, regardless, you can have Hilda’s team. Pokemon I trust, at least to be friendly. Not this.

Aeimlou supposed that was true enough. He had memories of less-friendly creatures. Even those who would scatter seeds across the grass only to chase him off, or wrap themselves around him as he ate, squeezing so tight he feared his feathers would stick in and pierce his little heart.

So He let Atlas ease him backwards, wobbling tentatively midair until cool currents of wind curled under his fins and a great expanse of muddy yellow cliffs cut down the scene.

The bisharp watched them all the way.

Goodbye, bisharp, Aiemlou attempted. It would not hear.

And even supposing it did, it made no response.

Finally, Atlas released. Aeimlou wobbled a moment in midair, but caught his bearings quickly. A flutter in his chest travelled up his neck and caught his chin. The mechanics fit easily in his mind, now.

Below him, the human nests hid like bleached shells embedded in the sand

Aeimlou used to like the shells beyond what they spilled out when crushed under the weight of human transport. Sometimes halves survived and he matched them to those on the beach.

Well, Atlas said, almost amused as they backed further up and over the water. They certainly made a strong impression.

~(0)~

What a strong impression.

Another legend around Undella. And another. King could sense. They never did anything to hide themselves. Old myths from every corner of civilization told you to love them. Or hate them. Fear them, either way.

King could watch. And feel nothing they didn’t send thoughtlessly. Isaac was proof of that—the subconscious. He didn't exhibit pressure on purpose. He didn't seem to understand anything about himself. Therefore, not purposeful.

It was a wonder if Isaac did anything purposefully.

Though he had something in his intuition. It was refreshing not having to tolerate someone trying to take the numbers from every situation and use them against you.

Still, a worry. Other legends would want to supplant Isaac eventually. If they hadn’t already. Which necessitated supplanting King.

He crossed the road. He didn’t bother to look for cars. If a human made the mistake of hitting him, he wouldn't be the one dead.

Beyond, the floating ones had vanished in the distance. They feared him. Not unexpected. They left no signs on the rocks or the sand below. They did not seem to have gone into the homes. Not Isaac’s home. Truly, they had vanished.

King clenched his claws. Always cold—you would never feel heat from a bisharp except the blood from your mother’s wounds. A burning in every way. He could still remember the winds.

Which must be the same winds here. They grew warmer by the day. Soon it would be summer. A summer of letting the rocks dislodge from sea walls and tumble into the water.

By the end of summers like these, erosion completes itself. One day, everything will become Undella beach.

And Undella beach will be empty.
 
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kintsugi

golden scars | pfp by sun
Location
the warmth of summer in the songs you write
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. silvally-grass
  2. lapras
  3. golurk
  4. booper-kintsugi
  5. meloetta-kint-muse
  6. meloetta-kint-dancer
  7. murkrow
  8. yveltal
So several people told me I would like this, and long story short, yes, I do continue to adore multi-narrator xenofic about communication and human/trainer/pokemon relationships and unexpected ascensions to godhood that feature ravens, and also bisharp. I ended up reading to chapter 9 bc I was on a flight and the first page was all I had preloaded at the time, but this was a treat to read c:

I think there’s something really delightfully mesmerizing about your writing style–the prose is certainly a strong one, but I think there’s something a little harder to pin down in words, but just as interesting to me, in how you choose to open scenes and describe reactions. The strongest example for me is at the very beginning, with the peaceful musing on having a name pulled into this hard zoom out of something wrong, pulled even harder into the image of this strange, crumpled latios on the forest floor, surrounded by birds. It works well both from the angle of, yeah, this is a bird who became a jet, but also in making the story feel really unique–by virtue of being around the fandom quite a bit, I don’t often expect “oh NO I woke up IN A STRAAAAAANGE BODY~~~ how does beak” to feel fresh and exciting, and yet I found this opening really hooky. The individual chapter openings, scene openings, etc that follow also all felt really well-selected; there’s not much wasted time getting things set up, and each scene closing/opening feels really natural, which made the fic read really smoothly for me. Also, I found the title (and chapter titles, but above all the main title) really well selected and intriguing, especially as I started to read further and it seems like the gods are not super invested in giving out nice things right now, lol.

On a micro level the prose is quite fun and a lot of people have mentioned that. I think the word I would use–which may not at all be what you were aiming for, though I found it super enjoyable–is “cozy”, oddly enough? Like I know there are some really existential things going on but the prose has this nice balance of detachment/focus that kind of makes me want to curl up with a cup of tea and binge through it (which is sort of what I did, minus the tea and aforementioned airplane aside). I really enjoy how each narrator feels a little distinct, with vividly different ways of describing stuff–Aeimlou is mischievous yet focuses a lot on how others see and perceive him; Midas barely notices anything at all except to comment on how lame and boring and far away it is; Isaac is really wrapped up in avoiding looking at anything in particular, himself included, but golly he does love looking at trees. It’s borderline necessary in multi-POV to do this, but I think it really works here. I’m quite curious to see what will happen once the narrators start to overlap and we get to see the characters/world outside of the viewpoints we were introduced to them by–is Midas really as removed as he claims, how will Isaac react to any sort of explanation of what he is, etc.

I also really enjoyed the use of xeno to poke at foreign concepts. I think a lot of fics get wrapped up in trying to port over all these strange nouns, trying to give things different epithets, etc–and this does occasionally trip me up; for the life of me I don’t know the rest of Hilda’s team except for maybe a serperior and Reshiram, wildcard guess on a liepard–but where I think xeno really shines is digging into foreign ideas. It’s small things like language at first; why can’t Aeimlou be a name?; but I liked how it’s starting to build into weightier topics, especially with respect to training. Aeimlou’s confusion about if trainers are mothers, oof (especially after Hilda’s invigorating pep talk that this isn’t friendship, this isn’t family). Sometimes we need someone entirely removed from things to ask the questions and voice the confusion that may have been obvious all along, hmmm.

Speaking of trainers, I’m deeply curious about how King and Isaac’s thing is going to work out. I’m absolutely tickled by the parallel trainerverse pokemon having legendaries as their pupils, but I’m even more intrigued by the notion that Isaac used to be human. He never really seemed to make it as a trainer, and he certainly seems to know why, but now that he’s struggling with being a pokemon too I think it’s a really interesting way of interrogating that dynamic. The “fight” with King in the woods really drove this home for me–that his first instinct to get help is to simply ask for it, and that he and King both immediately agree that now this is an unlikely ask, is another oof from me lol. I was skimming review replies and I noticed that you mentioned you hadn’t intentionally meant for BW themes to work their way in here, but I’m happy to politely sip tea and see how they go. It seems like most humans here are sympathetic, trying their best with what they’re given–and there’s even communication bridges and telepathic translations and people whose first instinct is to reach for it–and yet there’s something very grim about the repetition of “territory”, Atlas’s grip turning cold when Aeimlou keeps asking questions about the starters, the way Hilda’s pokemon all run silently into the woods. Admittedly I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for this kind of deconstruction, but I’ve been really enjoying it so far.

(Speaking of-speaking of–what does the rest of Hilda’s team want now? It seems like all of them, Hilda included, are very much in the post-game of their journey, but it’s not clear to me why they hang around–with the exception of Atlas, who seems to share a different relationship with her to begin with).

The real highlight for the story (for me) is the characters–even down to the very bones of the character concepts, I think you’ve got a delightful little bunch here and they all interact in really fun ways.

Aeimlou’s a delightful little guy. I liked how you turned the concept of “legendary” deeply on its head with him, first when he’s just a little babby swaddled in blankets in Juniper’s lab, and later when he’s simply pretending not to understand things so that he doesn’t have to do harder training. I don’t have ravens but I imagine this is exactly what they would do if they got reincarnated into a jet plane. He’s a great lens for this world, and for asking the tough questions about training that we systemically try to ignore, and for wondering why buses are such a boring shape. I’m curious about his past life, a little, and how much that plays into his current state of affairs–in Leaf Boat it’s immensely clear that Midas’s previous life (and his current life, neat, oh dear) is characterized by yearning to be something more, which I initially took to be part of the criteria for ascension, but neither Isaac nor Aeimlou strike me as the kind of people who would wish for this exact predicament. Then further still, I’m curious to see what the reasons for this pair of ascensions ends up being–I’m kind of with Negrek on the train that it just happens when the world needs another type of legendary, and Midas is off not doing his job and all, but that does quite beg the question why the start off just flopping around like infants, and what kind of job Latios serves in the first place.

Isaac strikes me as one of those deeply Avoidant characters who knows all about the problems he’s facing and is excited to address none of them, please, thank you. And again that sort of makes me curious about how or why certain people end up ascending–if there even is a why, or if it really is just random chance. Coupled with Hilda it does certainly feel like there’s a running trend of people being expected to do these hard, impossible things, and then failing to be acknowledged in return–not entirely sure how you played out the plot of BW in this one, but if it’s mostly close to canon I can’t help but feel like Hilda can sympathize with Isaac/Aeimlou a lot more than anyone else in Unova can, tbh (not that she wants to). Both Isaac and Aeimlou end up being a little “well, neat, shrug” when this happens to them–which I think works in the context of the story; they’re both doing a good enough job of spiritually avoiding the weight of their mantles tbh without any more angst imo–but Isaac really feels like he refuses to look anything in the eye. He’s nonplussed that he died because he’s not dead right now, lol. I’m curious to see how/if that seance ends up playing into things. I also really like the prickly problems he’s bound to run into as someone who remembers his human life and is unable to have it–kind of the polar opposite of Aeimlou–there’s certainly some setup implying a good deal of privilege conferred with being human, and so far being a legendary seems to be more stress than good, so it’ll be fun to see those two clashing.

King grew on me. Bisharp’s rad af to begin with, and I love how Isaac constantly sees him as this massive alien made of conveyor belts and shit, but I really liked the “Defeat me with your words”--obviously as a writer I am also hit super-effectively by the idea that words have special power, but it’s also a really cool concept imo for this hardened warrior to be at the peak of physical/fighting prowess, and yet to be so terrified by his inability to fight actual arguments. It rings doubly true in a fic that’s oozing with characters chafing at communication barriers–King seems to have taken all the wrong lessons about humans and training, but at the same time I can also believe that he’s taken the lessons more or less that he was given. Given that I think this story is eventually going to jam these two groups together (mostly speculation based on “golly wow they BOTH ended up near Undella town this time, Midas!”–I think they’d work fine as-is tbh), I’m most interested in how King might bounce off of Atlas/Midas. Does the telepathy work on him or do they have to rely on mandible morse code? Do they realize how similar they are to each other? Hue.

(did he know Isaac would reform that arm? lol)

Hilda is, I think, the closest the story has to an antagonist right now. King’s a close second ofc, and I guess there’s Midas lol, but Hilda’s the most there, I feel. She’s certainly not evil or going out of her way to inconvenience anyone (that she’s going out of her way for obligation to others is part of the point), but of the main crew she’s the most set up to need to oppose everyone when they start asking the pesky questions like “why can’t Atlas be a trainer” and “why can’t trainers help Isaac”. I can’t help but be curious about her thoughts on how the plot of BW/Reshiram summoning thing worked out–what made her the Hero of Truth? Why does Reshiram stay now? What was their take on the whole Plasma thing? Are they happy with how pokemon are treated today? She’s obviously really unhappy with the Unova she lives in, but most of her beef seems personal; she’s (understandably) bitter about what was asked of her and what she had to deliver, but she also seems pretty ready to accept “life’s not fair, but we gotta do it” as an answer, both for herself and others–which, ultimately I think puts her at odds with Aeimlou “but why tho” and Isaac “I’m not gonna do it” lol. That she’s the only one of the main cast to be physically and mentally human, as well as the savior of Unova who never bothered commissioning statues, also leaves her with a much more interesting choice, imo, since she can’t really leave any of those mantles behind. I liked the parallels this posed with the new legendaries–there’s a lot of lil babies being asked to step into massive roles here, and Hilda’s very obviously on the other side of it–but is it worth it in the end?

Atlas is a wonderful little blob of jelly and I see why he ended up running away with the show for a bit. What stood out to me the most (and I think this is 1000% personal preference, no one else may agree with me lol) is just how polite he is to Aeimlou, which I actually really liked in contrast to how he is around Hilda. Soft blobby guy who likes the faceplanting bird and spiky psychic guy who flings wild pokemon around the woods for weightlifting practice; inside of you, there are two wolves. Narrative-wise I think he works really well with Aeimlou, especially in questioning those pesky social things–just like it’s narratively helpful to have someone asking the questions everyone has grown blind to, there also needs to be someone who’s, in a sense, grown blind to those questions as well, or at the very least grown disillusioned with asking. I think he rounds out the character dynamic for bus crew really nicely, and makes their conversations endlessly fun to read. Tbh, for reasons I cannot explain, I get the feeling at some point he and Aeimlou are going to have a falling out and it’s gonna break my heart.

I read Leaf Boat first and as such did not expect this version of Midas at all lmao. I think it works, though there’s a lot of time and tragedy between the star-eyed eevee who wanted to be a protector and the aloof Latios who wants to be a god. I might be reading his interlude a bit cynically here, but at least in this context it made the ending of Leaf Boat a lot sadder–it feels less like catharsis/acceptance and more like nihilism/accepting that mortal life is short-sighted and forgettable, less learning to stop ruminating on grief and more learning to stop ruminating on anything. Regardless I think there’s a lot of room for Midas (and probably Mew) to cause havoc with the main cast and I’m deeply excited to see how all that plays out.

I had some notes for grammars/typos squirreled away, but based on the review responses it looks like edits don’t really seem like your vibe rn–totally fine, but if you want a more thorough comb-through, let me know.

Overall I thought this was a delightful read, and despite how cozy it feels I cannot shake the feeling of an impending train crash (which I see as an absolute win tbh). Looking forward to catching up!
 

Flyg0n

Flygon connoisseur
Pronouns
She/her
Partners
  1. flygon
  2. swampert
  3. ho-oh
  4. crobat
  5. orbeetle
  6. joltik
  7. salandit
  8. tyrantrum
Here for the good ole blitz. Read five chapters so far!!

I had already read about 1 and a 1/2 before but I figure I might as well try and review a chunk properly.


In a violent wave of new memories, a fickle little idea sang at him, passing by in a repeated blur as he stared at tangled strands of grass stuck with flecks of dirt.

A name. He should have one, for whatever reason. Aeimlou. He liked the sounds it made in his mind. The importance of this exercise blew past him like the passing of trees beneath his wings, but he’d never distrusted his gut before. It had let him survive many winters, beyond the weaker chicks and unlucky flocks.

A sudden coldness seeped over him at the image. He did not understand it.
I really liked this bit of opening prose. I am a strong believer that opening line/lines are important to a good story. They can help set tone and vibe for a work, and draw readers in.

I think the opening bit starts right from the best part, post Aeimlou's ascension, and wastes no time exploring this perpsective. It also sets a strong mood for the style and writing. This bit in particular is quite lovely, and a bit heart wrenching. Going from an animal level of consciousness and awareness to a legendary must be quite jarring. I feel quite bad for Aeimlou coming to terms with his newfound awareness.

Once again, something cold settled over him. Liquid pooled in his eyes.

He did not understand.

He did not understand.
I just want to hug him. Poor raven!Latios. Also i love the xeno energy here. Birds can't cry but a Latios can. Aeimlou has no words for the concept of tears though, or the feeling that comes with it. Good stuff, but sad too.

“--Incredible! But so far from Hoenn? Goodness, it must have been a long flight, do I— can I come a bit closer?”

He understood them? He understood them. Though he did not understand the meaning. The creature’s voice had a pleasant lilt to it. Like the whistling through the trees, but with power behind it. A chorus, perhaps. It could be the novelty, but he would be happy to listen to that noise until he died.

In wondering, Aeimlou held unblinking eye contact for a very long time until he realised it had addressed him.

“Sorry, was I not loud enough? I don’t want to make you uncomfortable; may I approach you?”
This little interaction was really charming! The blend of Aeimlou realizing he can understand human speech, and Juniper's reaction here, especially her 'may I approach you' bit.

The whole first chapter was extremely delightful. Aeimlou's character is quite nice to read, the prose is effective, and the concept is absolutely peak. There's a lot of milage to explore about the nature of legendaries, ascension and personhood, and role in the world.


Aimlou couldn’t see her, but could still hear her voice drift slowly around the corner.
I think you misspelled his name here!

It grew frustrating.

Instead of nodding, this time he shook his head. Just for fun.

Those piercing, intelligent eyes narrowed.

“Are you messing with me?”

He shook his head.
I loved this little moment, it made me laugh. Aeimlou is so cheeky. It feels quite befitting for a raven honestly, intelligent and clever and a little bit of sass.

Years. What an interesting concept. He had a vague clue what that meant, but little idea of his own. Or the purpose of keeping track. He’d never bothered to count his days. Perhaps it was a competition: who could live to the longest number. In that case he’d oblige with a fun new number he’d discovered.

One billion.
Okay this part made me genuinely laugh out loud (a rare thing in fiction stories). I just absolutely adore Aeimlou so much.

Chapter 2 was equally delightful alongside 1. Aeimlou's perspective is slowly expanding, and we're introducing more from Juniper, and then from Hilda. Getting to see the relationship between Hilda and Juniper from Aeimlou's POV. There's both the slightest bit of tension yet also the implication even this early that they clearly have a history. I especially get the sense Hilda is carrying some baggage.

I also really love the idea of getting help from a psychic pokemon to converse, although I briefly wondered that if this is apparently possible in-universe, I'm surprised every professor doesn't hire/request/partner with a psychic. Unless of course, its possible Junipers hope is to eventually get Aeimlou to go with Hilda. Or perhaps Juniper just wanted to see Hilda again...

Another possibility of course is that its simply difficult for a psychic to serve as translator and not every psychic can?

Either way, not a huge deal, just an interesting observation. I quite like Atlas and I love the prose around how psychic communication is described.


The reuniclus (which was a very fun thing Atlas called himself) had taken on the mantle of teacher because of of his partners’ frustration.
I like Aeimlou's apparent inclination towards certain sounds, its cute.

So, supposedly, his psychic was a physical force accessed metaphysically, which connected to his mind which was in his skull and enabled by the precise assemblage of biology and abstracts unique to his species, yet also shared by every other psychic species. With this thing that was real but not real, he could fly. And communicate. And levitate objects. And perform illusions.

Truly complete nonsense.
Makes perfect sense, very understandable and easy to grasp!

Poor Aeimlou though I can't imagine how hard it would be to try and tap into psychic powers you weren't born with. Ascension is no easy deal clearly.

his gel fingers were cool and pleasant and drew light coos from Eimlou
another mispelling

Do you remember those children who picked up their starters?

“Do I remember something that happened yesterday? I dunno…”

Well, in case you need a reminder—
I thhhinkkk the first line here is meant to be italicized, as it seems like its a sort of thought?

“Nah. No, we’re not doing this. What have I been saying for years. To both of you idiots. I’m done with it—if I never have to train a pokemon from zero to hero again, I’ll be happy. This is at least a couple steps beyond that.”
oooooo yes I was right. I'm really quite curious about Hilda's background (I mean I assume of course its close to the games on a broad level, but there's clearly some character differences in how she feels about things). She comes off a bit resentful and frustrated in this chapter towards training. I wonder if she feels it wasn't properly worth it in the end.

“I don't know what to tell you, Juniper.” She scowled, raising an angry finger. “It doesn’t piss me off that you asked, but I hate you pretending there was ever a chance I’d say no. You know me.”

Juniper bit her lip, nodding distantly.

“And you know I’m just gonna do it.”
So this means my theory about perhaps Juniper's motivation leaning towards perhaps getting Hilda to help was the idea from the get go?
Either this is another piece of interesting characterization from Hilda. Here she seems almost burdened by her nature of wanting to help and do things. Hilda knows she could never resist this opportunity.

She paused, took a breath, a fire lit in her eyes that Aeimlou only then realised had been there the whole time.

“Sometimes I wish I would’ve let team plasma win, just to see the look on their fiucking faces. Life stops kissing their boots, handing them shit and they probably curl up and die.”
OOoohoohohoh more spice! I gotta say I really hope this continues to be expanded upon. Even assuming a variantion of canon events happened, there's so much room to play with the exact nuances. Also it being brought up loosely makes me wonder if her deal and Plasma's thing will be recurring.

I am guessing Hilda was the PC character probably, played a big role in defeating Plasma. its possible we're getting a bit of jaded perspective but it also sounds a little like at least some of Plasma were white knighting sorts maybe.

“And you. You little shit, I know your type.”

Psychic, as I have been told.
Eheehehehee Love these snarky little replies.

For a moment, Aeimlou considered testing the order, sending another prod her way and watching the ensuing punishment. But Atlas seemed to sense those intentions not long after they sprouted. Don’t, he warned. So Aeimlou did not. He simply nodded instead.

And although Hilda nodded back, she did not smile.

“Great. Welcome to the team. Well, Atlas’ team, I guess, since he’s offering to take care of you. And I’m holding him to it. Good luck, idiots.”

Off she went, not sparing a glance behind her as she stomped out the door. She only returned at nightfall. Hours after they were supposed to leave.

Instead, they left the next morning.
Hilda has a streak of bitterness I see... Not at all happy. It also feels a bit telling that Hilda just storms off and doesn't return until really late.

Overall this one was another really great chapter. It feels like a nice three parter as I can see from future chapters, that set up the concept of the story very nicely. I assume Atlas and Hilda will continue to be recurring elements as well.

Also a pokemon-as-trainer thing is always fun.


*CHANTING* MIDAS MIDAS MIDAS

I gotta say going into this having read Midas backstory is quite delicious.
That warmth also spoke to him of a great ambition—he could tell other creatures did not know the world as he did. Not even the other legends. He’d ascended so long ago; then, he had been awed. Now, he knew them.
Oooohhh boy, interesting. There's a bit of almost arrogance or personal pride in this bit of narration to me. Seeing himself as above or different from the world, for better or worse. Also I see in the timeskip he's been hanging with other legends more.

“I’ve got some very interesting news for you,” she sing-songed.
Love how you write Mew, oozing both childishness and playfulness yet also centuries old.

“I do know you, Midas.”

He fired back just as strongly, throwing her from his neck. She spun through the air, recovering feet away with a warning pout.

“Don’t,” he snapped, “call me that.
NAMEDROP NAMEDROP
I think this was written before the one-shot? But its super delightful to see it anyway because it feels like secret inside knowledge, keke.

But also : { Midas not liking to be referred to be his name.
Hoenn shone beneath him.

So, so far away.
What a great bit of ending prose.

I have to say I vaguely knew Midas was going to be in this but I had no idea how soon. Was absolutely delighted to see him again, but also a little sad, as he clearly got Things going on. It was very interesting to see more of Mew and Midas dynamic again though, it definitely feels like things have changed with time from when I saw them in Leaf Boat.

From what I understand it appears he's got some new ambitions though? And the implication is that it seems possible to usurp or take over another legendaries position? That's going to be interesting to see. I hope we get some more of these 'mechanics' later for how this works. I also wonder what exactly he's looking to find in Aeimlou.


Old recordings of pre-Alder Unova, tapes from back in Johto’s heyday, that one great match between Cynthia and Steven that lasted nearly an hour—fall season, two thousand fifteen. Over and over, until the TV blanked out and reflected his wide-eyed, slack jawed wonder, looking for all the world like a beached magikarp. Later, he watched it on a new flat-screen all his own.
Oooo I really dig little background worldbuilding tidbits like this! The reference to pre-Alder Unova, and little nods to other gym leaders. It brings the world to life outside the POV characters.

One day, her team was gone. Alma could not keep them anymore and she made sure everyone knew it by the many choice words she tongue-stuffed into the speaker of her phone, more vicious than ever. Isaac would not get to watch them anymore.
Huh! I wonder what happened to her team? If it was meant to be clear, I found myself a bit confused. Did they take away her team because she was too old? or simply couldn't properly care for such a large team?

The bisharp—now a he and a real, looming presence in Isaac’s life—turned. The roar of the tv drowned in the intensity of his stare.

“Call me King.”
Intriguing... Also now I wonder if Bisharp perhaps traditionally have chess related names or if thats just King.

Isaac is clearly not adjusting so well to turning into a Darkrai lol (Not that I can blame him). A human just becoming a Darkrai one day is quite interesting indeed. So far we have one animal, one pokemon from long ago (Midas), and one human. This is gonna be something.

I do have to say though, in comparison to prior chapters, I definitely found myself a little lost the most out of the five chapters. I can understand that issac has turned into a Darkrai, but I actually wasn't exactly sure when (sometime after he got cut on the leg/had a nightmare?). I can glean he seems to be a burnt out trainer hopeful of sorts, but seems to have kind of slid into a depression. And it seems like he doesn't live with his father, and his family is semi-religious at least? A form of Mew based religion. Alma likes to complain about things I guess.

And a Bisharp somehow caught word of a Darkrai and wishes to fight Isaac, only to be disappointed Issac can't actually fight or do anything. King is quite determined not to go regardless.

But overall I still definitely struggled to get a single cohesive progression from this chapter and to see what precisely was going on. Compared to say, Aeimlou's perspective where the lack of understanding of the world played into it, this character is fully a human guy as far as I can tell so it felt a little wierd? I could grasp some broad bits but felt like I was missing the smaller picture quite a bit (then again, compared to Hilda and Juniper, I do have a stronger foundation by knowing roughly where they come from).

Granted, this is all my own experience and I know I can be a bit prone to misunderstandings or overlooking things! It wasn't really a huge problem as I found myself enjoying reading the chapter anyway. Just figured I'd share my experience. Maybe it was intentional, or maybe it was just my lack of reading comprehension heh.

Either way this is all still been a positively delightful read! I'm looking forward to reading more.
 

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
  6. heliolisk-fobbie
Heya, took me a while, but I’m here to start the process of paying things forward for the reviews you’ve been shooting my way over this past year. I was actually waffling a bit as to what of your stories I wanted to dive into first, but I could’ve sworn you said somewhere that you consider this your main fic, so… seems like a good enough place to start:

Chapter 1

In a violent wave of new memories, a fickle little idea sang at him, passing by in a repeated blur as he stared at tangled strands of grass stuck with flecks of dirt.

A name. He should have one, for whatever reason. Aeimlou. He liked the sounds it made in his mind. The importance of this exercise blew past him like the passing of trees beneath his wings, but he’d never distrusted his gut before. It had let him survive many winters, beyond the weaker chicks and unlucky flocks.

>unlucky flocks

Does this guy live someplace where Garchomp go around picking off flocks of birdmons or something? Since boy is that a morbid implication there.
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A sudden coldness seeped over him at the image. He did not understand it.

Then his thoughts consumed him with the strangeness of his body. He had not been this thing the day earlier. And he did not comprehend the stream of information pouring through his mind

His talons had migrated to his chest, now clumsy and thin and instinctively tucked in. He had rounded and lengthened and grown to a size that would not lend itself well to perching on branches—he certainly could not imagine building a nest to his size. He had no legs and he mourned his wings. He kept his feathers, now black and white spread across a pointed snout rather than a beak. But his wings had been replaced by useless fins jutting straight from his back, those which former members of his flock perched on as he lay immobile on his stomach. His former flock made an awful racket, cawing and screeching at this new intruder.

Oh, so Aeimlou has ascended to becoming some sort of Legendary, huh? I don’t recognize who it is from this description, but I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.

He craned his neck to stare at the gathering. He had to tell them. He understood the message, a warning, a defending of territory. But they would not understand his meanings anymore. His mind supplied that to him as well, this sense of superiority to the ravens as a former brother darted into his vision and twisted its head with a detached curiosity that beaded also in his dark eyes.

The sounds he used to make would not come, his throat too odd and long. Something heavy in his chest sounded instead and the raven escaped in a burst of feathers.

Huh, so we’re not going with universal Pokéspeech in this setting. It’s different, but lends itself well to a Xenofiction angle since Pokémon played completely realistically wouldn’t make a shared set of vocalizations.

Once again, something cold settled over him. Liquid pooled in his eyes.

He did not understand.

He did not understand.

Man, first scene in and you’re already tugging at my heartstrings.
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Eventually, these pleadings dried into a trickle. He could think about things with the clarity of a still pond. His flock had left.

His flock had abandoned him.

I mean, if they were kinda jerks, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, Aeimlou.
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They had realised he posed no threat and had grown tired of pecking him and fled into the trees, black flickering into green. They left him with a great rustling, a chorus of caws fading into the distance as the stinging of their pecks faded from his skin.

Aeimlou sighed. Instinctively. Then stopped to puzzle over the sound. He repeated it, coming to no conclusions except that his stomach ached in hunger.

Ah yes, time to see our protagonist going hunting in his new body.
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Spending an atrociously long time trying to flap imaginary wings highlighted his predicament, however. And forced him to reach out with his new claws, digging them into the roots carpeting the forest floor and pulling himself along. His belly ached, feathers shedding as he grunted and dragged himself along. His fins, too, sent bolts of pain down their length every time they bumped up against a trunk. They were more sensitive than he expected.

I can already tell that Aeimlou’s identity if it’s not some sort of fakemon is going to make me facepalm at how long it took me to figure it out once the story spells it out. On the one level, I can’t place what he is (which leans in quite well with the premise that he’s in an alien body, for the record), but something about this feel as if I should recognize it. If it wasn’t for the mention that he had white and black feathers on his snout, I’d have guessed Latios, since everything else description-wise roughly matches up description-wise.

Through all the grunting and moaning, eventually he rounded a shady grove and lucked upon a berry bush—with the small blue ones. He practically threw himself into it, shoving clawfulls of berries and leaves alike into his muzzle until he slumped into the grass, sticky and out of breath.

… Was there anything left of the Oran bush after Aeimlou went to go and eat from it?
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He preferred meat. Occasionally, the armoured orange creatures threw themselves from the river, flopping and gasping, offering themselves to his flock as a feast. Those gelatinous eyes were especially his favourite.

So Aeimlou used to eat Magikarp as a Murkrow(?) back in the day. Duly noted.

Berries were not meat, but they were food. And he enjoyed that these ones looked like eyes. They filled him, too. Their juices coated his face, a sickly sweet scent that also stuck to the grass and glued it to his mouth as he tried to raise his head. They made him warm and tired and longing for more. It gave him an appreciation for the new length of his neck, at least. He could stretch up to reach for more berries without moving from the forest floor, picking them between his teeth and grinding them into paste.

Another binge and that satisfying warmth overtook him, dampened his aching chest, and he slept in the bush.

He continued all through the next day.

Aeimlou must be a sight to behold in whatever his present form, what with him being coated in berry juice and Magikarp viscera. Wonder if he’ll get a chance to freak a passerby out sometime before the chapter ends.

Even with all these new thoughts, he failed to understand his next steps. Flight had left him grounded, but unlike other creatures, he had no legs to stand on.

Yeeeeeah, I’m starting to wonder if the “black feathers” on his snout was a typo and meant to be “blue”, since that one detail aside, this sounds like a Latios with bodily dysphoria.

His second night he spent watching stars in a gap through the trees, the darkness of fliers blotting them out on occasion. Unlike the plentiful stars, his bush had no more berries to give. The food no longer satisfied him, either. Instead, the stars crushed him. Another new feeling. One of uncertainty. The end of things and his helplessness to stop them.

He found himself breathing heavily, gasping like those dim orange creatures flopping on the banks.

Did they feel this, too, in the precious pink curls that spooled from their stomachs and into the beaks of his brothers?

Aeimlou: “For the record, whoever did this to me has a sick sense of irony.” >_>;

Aeimlou did not feel inclined to leave the bush. He hungered. And thirsted—mouth so dry he struggled to peel his tongue from the roof as he opened it to whine.

All motive had left him. He did not know what to do, what he could do. Once, he might’ve ruffled his feathers and kicked up a fuss, but that nature no longer appealed to him. And he could not stop thinking about his flock. It served no purpose anymore; it should leave his mind as they left him to die on the forest floor, but that never happened. He could not forget.

Ah yes, that bodes well™ for the fate of that flock later on. Especially if Aeimlou really is a Latios.
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He let the water pour from his eyes until he had no more to give, growing weaker each sunset. He watched creatures pass: some old rivals like the jays, and the predators. He had no name for them except predators. Back in his flock they tore through the forest with foreign powers, launching strikes at each other and ruining all the good perching spots. They either ate the weaker creatures or ignored them.

“Jays” huh? I actually can’t tell if Aeimlou used to be a literal raven or a raven-like Pokémon or not. Since it’s hard to think of many jay-like Pokémon other than maybe Rookidee and Corvisquire.

And now they avoided him, freezing at the edge of his vision with wide-eyed stares, shrinking and muttering lowly noises to themselves and turning back to where they came.

Even in his weakness, Aeimlou found a certain warmth in that. He must look intimidating. Certainly, he must be the largest creature in the forest now. He would die happy knowing this would be his territory. Regardless of whether he had the chance to defend it.

And cue this not ending well in 3… 2…

But, ah, that did not remain true for long.

The one who found him would be a… what would he call it? The ravens rarely concerned themselves with much, but the biped creatures with fleshy skin and furry heads were an exception. Certainly, they dominated the landscape. In their cube nests. But not nests. But nests: Aeimlou had no other words for them. They controlled the empowered creatures, too, with stiff hands to draw elements from them.

Ah yes, the almighty shin-kicker who won’t shut up about shorts. The bane of many a Pokémon great and small. ^^;

Unlike their empowered charges, they had a mixture of concern for the flock. Sometimes they chased them off and sometimes, in the green spaces between their nests, they palmed seeds and fruits for them to eat.

This one in particular had flowing white cascading from its shoulders, a large swirl of brown fur on its head and softer features than some Aeimlou had previously seen.

Is… this a professor that we’re seeing here?

Aeimlou would have been concerned; he would have raised himself up, but he barely possessed the strength to slip his claws beneath his stomach. He settled for a shaky growl as it paused under the bow of a string tree. Green drew lines across its expression, though Aeimlou would’ve had difficulty interpreting the wide eyes and open mouth into a readable emotion anyway.

I like how Aeimlou just draws a complete blank at the expression of human shock. Given how hard you’ve been playing the Xenofiction angle thus far, it makes sense though, since of course a once-bird would not be able to instantly recognize human facial expressions and their meanings.

It murmured to itself. Something Aeimlou would not have appreciated before. The sounds startled him so much it took a moment to focus and realise he understood them.

“--Incredible! But so far from Hoenn? Goodness, it must have been a long flight, do I— can I come a bit closer?”

Okay, yeah. I’m calling it now. Aeimlou is a Latios and the “black feathers” on his snout was probably just a typo.

He understood them? He understood them. Though he did not understand the meaning. The creature’s voice had a pleasant lilt to it. Like the whistling through the trees, but with power behind it. A chorus, perhaps. It could be the novelty, but he would be happy to listen to that noise until he died.

In wondering, Aeimlou held unblinking eye contact for a very long time until he realised it had addressed him.

“Sorry, was I not loud enough? I don’t want to make you uncomfortable; may I approach you?”

Huh. Maybe Aeimlou really was a literal raven before this. Or else that’s just his newfound Latios abilities in action that are letting him comprehend human speech here.

Staring. More staring. It began to shuffle in place. Only then did he realise what he was missing.

Ah. He had to respond.

Aeimlou tried to imitate the sound, but his odd, dry mouth filtered it into something like a wheeze. It broke into coughs soon after.

Aeimlou: “Well, it was worth a shot.”
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“You seem to be struggling. Let me help.” It approached anyways, without answer—hands raised to the sky. This must be its territory for how bold it was. If true, Aeimlou supposed he must oblige. The best he could do was lay his head back on the grass, moaning as hunger flared in his stomach again.

“Alright, let’s get you untangled from these bushes.”

Probably a good thing that it was a human and not another Latii that found Aeimlou here, since I can already tell he’d never live it down hearing about how he almost starved to death thanks to getting stuck in a bush.

It spoke to itself as it worked, peeling thin branches away from Aeimlou’s bulky form. Truthfully, he wouldn’t have had an issue extracting himself, if not for the weakness.

“Odd colouration,” it mumbled, patting Aeimlou’s neck. Strange to feel the pressure and warmth press into his feathers. “Not consistent with other sightings in Hoenn. We’ve always thought there was only one of you, but this pokes holes in that theory, huh?”

Okay, never mind. The “black feathers” wasn’t an error earlier on and was deliberate. Though a monochrome Latios, huh?

Yes? These thoughts it shared were so complicated that Aeimlou could not tell how to respond. He tried not to break eye contact—difficult when it began circling him. He craned his neck backwards, but unfortunately could not fold himself in half.

It hissed once finished, showing teeth. Aeimlou blinked. Curious sound. That one he could imitate, pressing his teeth together and forcing his breath out through them.

It jumped back, both hands held out before it.

I’m guessing that whistling doesn’t sound anywhere near as cute coming from a Latios, huh? ^^;

“Oh, sorry did I hurt you? I didn't mean that.”

How fun. He did it again. And again, watching its face harden. The creases around its brow deepened.

“Something’s wrong?” it asked. “Are you hungry? Thirsty? Can you move?”

I’m now getting the mental image of a Latios eating out of the hands of a human like a giant bird. Which… I suppose that it kinda is, but still.

Yes, yes, yes, no. He would like not to be here anymore. He would like to live.

Still, he had no way to express these things. So they sat. In their individual bubbles, watching across a boundary drawn in roots and long grass. It tilted its head, face scrunching up in what Aeimlou assumed was sickness.

“Nod your head for yes and shake for no. Do you understand that?”

Aeimlou: “Boy is it fortunate that this human that could speak my language just came walking along. Or… am I understanding its language now?”
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Ah. Brilliant. He could do that. He repeated sluggishly, a wave of dizziness cresting over him as his chin skimmed the grass.

“Great. Good job. Now, hungry?”

Nod.

Aeimlou: “Huh. This is actually really convenient now that I think about it.”

“Thirsty?”

Nod.

“Can you move?”

Shake.

Questions finished, it settled. The worry in its face did not.

Human: “Are you sure you’re not hurt? Since you sure seem hurt right now.” ._.;

But none of that mattered; Aeimlou had done it. He spoke! He warbled in delight, tired voice cracking. A warmth bloomed in his chest. One unlike hunger and the pain of dragging himself across the roots. The creature did not share that, instead making a low sound. Shaking its head.

Which, as he’d learned, means no.

That’s called ‘worry’, Aeimlou. Especially since your new kind is supposed to move around quite effortlessly normally.

“I don’t have anything for you out here, can I… hold on one second,” it said. It looked around, limbs drawn into its sides, one hand vanishing in its white. After a moment, it sighed and drew an object out from inside, holding it out in front of Aeimlou’s nose. Red on top, white on the bottom. Some sort of orb, so perfect in its shape, in the separation of its colours, it could only have been made by the creatures.

Ah yes, a Pokéball. I guess we’ll be seeing what they look like on the inside in this story pretty fast.

The orb being in their possession was also compelling evidence to that fact, true. But it did not hurt to be thorough.

“I know you probably don’t like it but it’s the only way to get you out of the woods and back to Nuvema.

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Wow, Aeimlou really is far from home if he indeed got uplifted into a Latios. Which I suppose he has now that I actually bothered to check the tags for this story. ^^;

The creature must have taken his stillness as permission because it shuffled forward until Aeimlou could see his own reflection spread in the polish.

And that became so much more fascinating than the object itself.

Aeimlou watched his new face, awed by this complete understanding. He twisted back and forth, the black arrow of his snout stretching and distorting as he moved. This was the fault of the orb, though. And he understood that. The world existed in so much more clarity than before.

That actually makes me wonder if his black feathers are going to stay black, or if they’ll change color as he molts and grows a new set.

He cooed happily as he continued, widening and narrowing his eyes, flexing the new muscles on his face. He opened his mouth and inspected the inside, all those sharp teeth like cliff stones. A much longer tongue now, too.

Then he discovered how wide his face could get as he moved closer.

Ah yes, time for the
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moment since having teeth must be quite the trip for Aeimlou.

Ignoring how much strain it put on his neck, he happily slid back and forth into his reflection, getting closer and closer until finally his nose met the cold hard metal and it sent a shiver down his body.

Which was not as shocking as when it cracked open at his touch.

He did not have the chance to wonder if he broke it before a violent flash of red overtook his vision. Then, nothing.

Aeimlou: “Hey! Wait a minute! I never agreed to–!” O_O;

Well that was quite the opening there. While we never got a final answer as to what Pokémon Aeimlou turned into… I think that the hints there are clear enough to point to a pretty clear answer, which is quite impressive considering the balancing act involved. The xenofiction angle on display here is the main star of the show, which is a rare bird (har har) in Pokémon fiction, and even more rarely done to its fullest potential. It’s a bit premature for me to cast hard judgment, but what’s there looks really, really promising. The characterization is also on-point, since while Aeimlou is very much not human, he and his thought process are still kept relatable for the readers, which makes it fairly easy to empathize with him and his plight.

I don’t have much to complain about regarding this chapter. Maybe it’d have made sense to just have the human blurt out Aeimlou’s new identity as a Latios, but eh. I’m sure we’ll have that happen soon enough in this story, and I was honestly too busy being engrossed by the story for any other weaknesses beyond a couple typos and instances of missing punctuation to stand out.

Good work @tomatorade . You’ve got a very strong opening hook for this story, and I’ll definitely be back for more later on in Review Blitz. ^^
 

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
  6. heliolisk-fobbie
Heya, decided to bump things up a bit and come back to this story nice and early on in Week 2, since I had a lot of fun seeing the start of Aeimlou’s tale and wanted to see where things went after that cliffhanger where he ended getting sucked into a Pokéball.

Only one way to find out… ^^

Chapter 2

Aeimlou was excited to discover how much he bored Juniper.

That was the human’s name—something she (because she was a she) explained in great detail to him as he sat on a soft bed in her nest. Along with assorted other details, most of which he did not understand and promptly filed away in his mind.

Oh, so Aeimlou really did get picked up by a Professor. I figured, since the human in Chapter 1 just had a very “professor” vibe.

He had not died, as he first thought when that odd sphere vaporised him. No, he had simply been transported to some artificial world and taken with Juniper. It could also have been a dream, but either way clearly artificial. It housed fewer colours than outside. And no food nor life. He felt nothing inside.

Fascinating in its own right, if eventually dull.

Huh. I wonder if there was any additional environment inside the Pokéball, or if it looked kinda like that one glimpse in the anime of what the inside of the Pokéball that Iris’ Dragonite had where it was basically just a void.

Aiemlou preferred when he bored others. Like Juniper.

He’d been released in a white, white, place, with blinding lights from the ceiling and holes to outside that calmed the rising panic he felt at being so confined. Mostly, the nest housed boxes. Lots of boxes: those that sat on the floor for other boxes to lie on, those that pressed against the wall and held rows of snug colours, those that shined and blinked with unknown lights in the corner.

I’m guessing that the boxes with lights are computers or some sort of electronic materials.

He got to lie on his own box, long and squishy and covered in soft bedding materials.

I’ve now got the mental image of a Latios nesting in a cut-up cargo container like a bird in a very big shoebox. :V

It warmed him. And he happily wrapped himself in it—struggling a moment with those jutting fins on his back—leaving a bare opening just for his snout and eyes. He cooed at the warmth. Juniper took an ecstatic interest in asking questions once he had settled.

Aeimlou: “Even if I’m not really sure how I’m doing this, but hey! A free nest and food!” ^^

But this is where the boredom set in. For as many questions as she asked, she had only given him the language to say yes or no. He had nothing more complicated so for many (nearly all) questions, Aeimlou simply sat there, blinking. She slowed the longer they went on, brows furrowed and lips drawn down. The face of dullness, he presumed.

Other things took her interest after that.

Once again, Aeimlou had no way to apologise for being so dull.

Aeimlou: “I mean, this would’ve been relieving if I were still her ankle-height, but… yeah. Hard to see what she can really do to me other than maybe vaporize me and put me back in that trippy ball.”

And then she began talking to herself. And to another box—black and sleek and reflecting the light off her skin as she held it to her ear.

“Hello. Yes, thank you for picking up, I know you’re busy and— no. Not exactly. That’s, well—” She paused to shift something from one ear to the other, keeping it pressed there between her shoulder and head. “Do you have time to stop by? I have a… another big problem if you understand what I’m saying, and I think you could help me a lot.”

Ah, I see that we’ve moved past X-Transcievers by the time this story takes place, since that certainly wasn’t around at the time of the Unova games back in the day.

She paused at the far end of the nest, turned on her heel, and headed behind a wall. Aimlou couldn’t see her, but could still hear her voice drift slowly around the corner.

“Yes, you. I’m serious. He’s not here and— sorry, Undella? This time of year? No, of course. I’m sorry to hear that. I understand.”

I wonder if that’s her calling up one of the games’ protags. Since it would fit the profile of a strong party that’s not around on a regular basis.

She reappeared from the other side of the wall, using both free hands to tie up the long, brown hair on her head.

“So you’ll do it? That’s great! It will be nice to see you again. Agreed. Goodbye.”

Yeah, I’m feeling a bit more confident about that prediction there.

Perhaps she’d recovered some interest, because she headed for Aeimlou after. She crouched before him, level enough for eye contact. Aeimlou cooed in his warm little world and waited for the inevitable question.

She traced the line of her mouth with a finger, pursing her lips as they stared at each other. Her gaze had this odd spark of intelligence that Aeimlou had never understood before. He revelled in it.

Huh, it’s a bit trippy to think of a bird thinking of humans as not having intelligence, though I suppose their baseline things they’re looking for to tip off “yes, this is an intelligent being” would be radically different.

“So, you do understand me?”

It was the most important question. One she’d asked many times before. He’d answered the same way every time, but it never stopped. He could only wonder why: did she not believe him? Not trust him? Or maybe it was she who couldn’t understand him. He saw no reason to repeat the question so often.

It grew frustrating.

Aeimlou: “*Seriously, lady, have you ever considered communicating in pictures or something like that? I can understand you just fine, every time I talk to you, it’s like speaking to a tree trunk.*”
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Instead of nodding, this time he shook his head. Just for fun.

Those piercing, intelligent eyes narrowed.

“Are you messing with me?”

He shook his head.

Aeimlou: “*I mean, I obviously am, but if you can’t figure it out, then that’s not my problem.*”
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She paused. Perhaps to think about it for a second. A great sigh broke from her mouth and she pinched the bridge of her nose.

“Alright, I can take a hint. You’re just strange, is all. I expected something different from a legendary.”

Aeimlou perked up at that, long neck tenting the soft nest over his back.

Aeimlou: “*I’m sorry, I’m a what now?*”

Legendary? Is that what he was now? He suspected she meant something more proper than the definition his mind supplied, but he liked to think he was also remarkable. Perhaps this is why she had been so bored with him. If he was remarkable, why, then, had he done nothing but sit around and eat food and drink water and answer questions? He imagined plenty of other creatures that could also do that.

But he had nothing remarkable to show her. He just watched as she fretted about her nest—interacting with objects he had no name or purpose for, occasionally sending glances his way. He acknowledged each one with a sharp chirp. It did nothing to lift her expression.

Juniper: “... I’m sorry, but I don’t speak dragon… bird… jet… whatever you are.”
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He would have to come up with something. For now, he lay his chin back down to rest.

Time’s passing changed little. Aeimlou relaxed, watching light lengthen across the floor as the sun blew streaks of orange across the treetops. The wind ushered the pleasant forest in and he hoped Juniper would also relax, but she seemed as flighty as he used to, scampering from invisible enemies inside her nest. For a brief period, she escaped outside, returning with food—an exotic smell Aeimlou picked up on from where he lay. She ate across from him, stabbing into her container with white utensils and lifting piles to her mouth.

That actually makes me wonder if Aeimlou would go full baby bird and just holds his mouth open waiting for the food, or if he’d consider that beneath him.
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Aeimlou watched, equal parts confused and intrigued. The whole process seemed unnecessarily sophisticated when she could have dug in with her hands or face, but he also appreciated it. It left no mess. And it conveyed a subtle sense of superiority. She did not have to use her hands as other creatures did, she had constructed tools to be her hands.

I actually wonder if it might have made sense for Aeimlou to do a deliberate comparison between tools of his own that he used as a raven, since hey, that is a known part of corvid behavior, and it’d also help provide the audience with a frame of reference for what he considers to be a ‘tool’.

Aeimlou decided he’d like to try some day. He wiggled his claws, unseen beneath his body, and wondered if they were good enough.

“Are you hungry again?” Juniper asked, shoving the remains into the flighty white bag it came from. Aeimlou shook his head. “I have a friend coming soon that should be able to help you. She should be here any moment.”

It’s going to be Hilda, isn’t it? Since if Hilda still has her jetderg from the events of B1W1 in this continuity, it would give her a potential leg up on interacting with another, lesser jetderg.

Alright. He was not certain what he needed help with, but boredom also crept up on him and friendly company sounded interesting. He would like to see other creatures.

I am not convinced that this will age remotely well, especially if I’m indeed correct about who Junper called up on the phone.

And true to her word, they did not have to wait long. A loud knock sounded from somewhere behind and while Aeimlou flinched and shrunk under his bedding, Juniper got up to take care of it. A creaking noise sounded behind him, cool draft following.

“Always punctual, Hilda,” Juniper said. Another voice, echoey and high mumbled something back. It laughed. Juniper laughed. A harsh slam and the subtle breeze cut off. The sounds of ruffling fabric, casual chatter and footsteps followed them back around. Then, quiet.

And more quiet.

Only then did Aeimlou chance a peek.

Aeimlou:
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He burrowed his nose through layers of bedding. Blinked in the harsh light of the nest. His vision focused, the thin nose and tan flesh of the so-called Hilda appearing close enough to reach out and grab. A wild forest of brown fur tumbled from the white crest on her head, framing two eyes grey enough to fly through. They had an intensity Juniper’s did not, sharpening around the edges as they met his.

Yeah, I knew it. So does she have Resh or Zek in this continuity?

He tried for a greeting. Something whistley and light.

She snorted. “I thought Latios was blue. Dyejob?”

“Sounds like a prank my father would pull.”

Juniper: “I mean, I’ve considered the possibility that he could be a regional variant, but…”
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“True,” Hilda answered. She stepped back and took a seat beside Juniper. “So uh… though I’d be dealing with a rampaging emboar or something. I’m not exactly a peacetime, let's-be-friends kind of call.”

She leaned back and lifted one leg over the other. Unlike the narrow, pointed foot of Juniper, Hilda's was chunky and black, the overhead light casting deep shadows in the valleys on her sole. Aeimlou furrowed his brow at the sight, he could not imagine walking on those.

“Oh, don’t sell yourself short. You’ve always been a great help to me. And anyone else I called would’ve had a greatly different reaction.”

Juniper: “You’d think that that would be easier considering how we literally had legendary dragons awaken and fight on TV and an entire city get buried in freakishly durable ice, but…” >_>;

“Is that another way to tell me I’m boring?” She asked. Juniper tried to stutter out a response, but Hilda waved it off. “Anyway, let’s get into it. What’s his problem? Just point the way and I’ll handle it.”

Juniper got that concerning, wrinkly look on her face again. It softened as Aeimlou nodded at her. He did not have much to agree with, he only wanted to be part of the conversation. She sighed.

“Well, Steven tells me Latios has been spotted recently in Sootopolis, so this is… another one. As impossible as that should be,” she said. “The issue is, he’s struggling to communicate. I’m hoping he isn’t injured or sick, but he let himself be captured freely and hasn’t attempted to fly once, among other odd behaviours. Probably nothing, but you know what they say about birds who won’t fly. And I will not be the professor that let a legendary die in her lab.”

Oh, we’re just getting all the major NPCs involved. Though I think that Juniper’s dialogue is long enough that it makes sense to add some sort of speech tag dividing it up somewhere.

“So what can I do?”

“Could you bring out Atlas? Hopefully that will let us set up a direct line of communication.”

“Knew it. You only talk to me for my pokemon.”

“Hilda—”

Atlas is her Tao, isn’t it?

She held up both palms. “I’m joking. Sure, I’ll bring him out.”

Hilda reached to her hip, fumbling with something a moment before bringing out an orb and holding it out on her palm. It took Aiemlou a second to recognize it as the one that had taken him to Juniper’s nest. She pressed the button.

To Aeimlou, it was fascinating to watch the bright lance of red light shoot from the capsule’s open mouth and strike the floor. At first it existed only as energy, yet that coalesced into a formless blob. In milliiseconds, the blob became a creature, floating at Hilda’s side with practised ease, the jiggle of green gel obscuring segmented limbs and a chubby, white body. He could not recognise the creature, but it emanated something powerful. Aeimlou drew back at the feeling, shaking his head as if to shake water out of his feathers.

Well, scratch that, she sent out a Reuniclus. I suppose that would help with communicating with hard cases.

The creature turned to their summoner, as if to have a conversation. But whatever they shared, they did in silence. It turned around equally as confident, but Aeimlou could not imagine much had been conveyed with those static, unblinking eyes.

Whelp, time for you to be very, very surprised in short order, Aeimlou.

At least, until he heard it.

It started as a subtle knock on the back of his mind. In the form of something forgotten, of the knowledge that poured into his mind when he changed, which had ascended him. He let it in.

Good evening. A voice echoed in his skull. It sounded wet. Pleasant, with a slight bubble to it. I am Atlas. It is my pleasure to facilitate our psychic connection today. Briefly, the echo dulled, some layers stripped from it. In secret, allow me to express a hint of admiration. It is not often mortal pokemon meet one like you, This voice rang louder, instinctively personal and bright. Aiemlou swelled at the power of it.

Aeimlou: “*... How on earth are you even doing that?*”
Atlas: Magic Telepathy. Gotta love it.”

These were words. But also not words, layered with so much feeling as to drown in it. Aeimlou felt immediately overwhelmed, sharing in a sense of sincere awe that he intellectually knew wasn’t his. But he knew also of his revealing—Atlas must have sensed him just as strongly.

Outside his head, he watched Atlas turn back to Juniper and Hilda. Then all eyes drew to him.

Ah. They were waiting. He tried to copy it.

Aeimlou: “*... Wait a minute, I can do that?*”
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Good evening, he said back, good evening, good evening, good evening. You are Atlas? I am Aeimlou.

Perfect. We shall not waste time. We suppose our first question is about your health.

Aeimlou: “I have so many questions right now.” .-.
Atlas: “Don’t question it for the time being. It’ll be simpler to take things one step at a time.”

Aeimlou tried to send out a warm thought, the thought of eating berries and napping in the sun. I have no issues. I am content and warm and greater than I had been days ago. I miss many things, but these are not my health.

Why have you not flown?

I have no wings to fly with.
Aeimlou wriggled under his bedding, tugging at it with his claws until it piled over his neck and revealed those jutting black monoliths his wings had become. Only these useless fins.

Is your psychic damaged, then?

Oh, well I guess that answers how Latiis fly in this setting. Though I suppose telekinetically slinging yourself around would gel well with a Latii’s overall abilities.

His what? The word meant nothing to him. He blanked and, although he did not want to, the thought rattled through their connection. In turn, something harsh and white rattled back. From all points.

“You what?” asked Juniper. She leaned forward, bringing her seat closer.

The unexpected outpour of emotion made Aeimlou shrink back, ducking back into his fort. It subsided shortly after, an intimate warmth taking over, but that shock still lingered.

Aeimlou: “*Um, did I say something wrong there?*”
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We apologize. Nobody intends to judge you here. We are simply confused, Atlas thought, Hilda wonders about your age.

I am of age for a partner.

Atlas: “Can… you narrow that down for us a bit?”
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A new warmth appeared. But this was sharp. Prodding. Not sunlight warm. In some sense, Aeimlou found it more exciting than their happiness or concern—his cozy bed supplied the former quite readily. He’d like to feel the sharpness again.

Could you place that in years?

Years. What an interesting concept. He had a vague clue what that meant, but little idea of his own. Or the purpose of keeping track. He’d never bothered to count his days. Perhaps it was a competition: who could live to the longest number. In that case he’d oblige with a fun new number he’d discovered.

One billion.

Snerk. Though that makes me wonder if Aeimlou was originally a Murkrow or else if he was a straight-up vanilla raven. My assumption is the former, but now I’m not really sure.

Much to his pleasure, that spiky emotion came through again.

You could just say you don’t know.

I apologize. I was under the impression you wanted an answer.

Lol, this ‘mon is such a troll. I can already tell he’s going to get into antics once he figures out how to put his new body to use.
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Neither Atlas nor Juniper seemed impressed. Hilda, however, let out a dry snort and a chuckle.

“Sarcastic little shit, isn’t he?”

Ah. He had impressed her. He did not know how, but he saw the wide arch of her mouth and mirrored it. He attempted to mimic it.

Atlas: “That’s… not impressing her, just saying. More ‘amusing’ her.” >_>;

Please, ignore her. Where have you come from?

From where I was taken.

Atlas: “Yes, obviously. Again, can you narrow that down a bit?”
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Truly? Nobody has seen you here before.

I used to be smaller.


And again. Spiky. Though without as much joy. Perhaps the novelty had begun to wear off. Hilda laughed again, louder this time.

Perhaps this may take a while.

Atlas: “I can already tell that I’m going to wind up hating this ‘mon.”
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Alright, time for the customary recap of the chapter. I gather that point of things was basically to show off Aeimlou grappling with his new reality, along with Juniper and the other humans doing much the same along with some subtle foreshadowing of things coming down the pipe such as that bit where Juniper is reaching out for Steven. The star of the show is very much the Xeno perspective, and it’s fun to watch Aeimlou interacting with his world and basically being a giant mischievous raven in a jet-dragon body. The characterization and worldbuilding were also neat, especially with Atlas being a fun foil as a more serious-minded character versus Aeimlou’s more trolly leanings. It seems like Hilda might be a bit of a kindred spirit, since I could see her reactions to Aeimlou’s antics there.

As for negatives… maybe it was an artifact of me reviewing things on four hours of sleep, but I’m honestly struggling to think of any major standout flaws beyond a couple nitpicks about paragraph structure. Maybe things could be a bit longer for a chapter? But what’s there is pretty good and the ending note functions decently well as an ending. The only real room for expansion I can think of would be to maybe show more of Aeimlou’s “first day” at Juniper’s lab and basically pulling the equivalent of a jet-dragon cover of Jack Skellington’s “What’s This?” song number from The Nightmare Before Christmas where he initially reacts to a very strange new world around him..

Good work, @tomatorade . I’ve been having a lot of fun with the two stories of this story that I’ve read so far, and barring something drastic happening, I’ll be back for at least one more review of this fic before Review Blitz lets out.
 

Nekodatta

Junior Trainer
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. koraidon-apex
  2. miraidon-ultimate
I remember already reading this chapter so now it's my occasion to review it.

It's extremely interesting, we get a sudden POV change to an already existing Latios, and this already tells me that there can be more than one legendary of any kind. From his mannerism something tells me he's not going to like the news that there's another Latios around now. He seems to look at anything that's not a legendary as below him and not worth his time, which contrasts nicely with Aeimlou which doesn't really act like a legendary since he doesn't even know why him being a Latios is a big deal.

The scene between him and Mew offers a lot of tiny drops of worldbuilding. It's interesting how there seems to be a sort of "ladder" of legendaries , and that you can grow in power... I wonder if it means simply growing or if it's possible to literally ascend again to a more powerful form.
Latios doesn't like being called "Midas", which strikes me as quite a human name... Was he a human before he ascended?

The fact that he speaks of "new, human structures" makes me think he's been a legendary for quite a long time, ... It wouldn't surprise me if he looked down on "newer" legendaries, or "minor" ones... Makes me wonder how ascension are decided.

Arceus?

Mew is, I assume, obviously pretty high up in the "ladder, based on how she acts.

And she mentioned that there have been ascensions, plural, interesting... I wonder how often they happen in this setting. "Last time " from her perspective could easily be thousands of years.

Midas calling Mew one of the "originals" struck me as interesting, I like this way of casually dropping information through narration and making the reader wonder about it.

Does that mean she is one of the first legendaries in total, or "just" the first Mew, if there are multiple?

For now I'm thinking the first, mostly because it strikes me as more likely that stuff on the level of the creation trio are probably not present in multiple individuals...

I wonder what she means by "becoming the new Rayquaza" and Midas wanting to surpass him... Are some legendaries struggling with their forms? Maybe questioning why they ascended? Seems likely to me especially if it happened long ago and you still don't really have any answers.

I find it both funny and quite telling that Latios/Midas has no idea where Undella bay is despite probably having had centuries to wander the world, and wouldn't know how to read a modern map: he really sees himself as above everything else to the point of not interacting much with the world.

Or at least that's the impression it gave me.
 

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
  6. heliolisk-fobbie
Heya, dropping in to pick off some last repeat bonuses for Review Blitz and given how much fun I had watching you bring Aeimlou to life over the past couple chapters, this story was way, way up there in terms on the priority list.

Last time, Aeimlou made some new friends. Let’s check in on him and see how he’s doing now:

Chapter 3

They’re deciding what to do with you, Atlas said.

It had been a couple days and, according to him, whatever it was Juniper and Hilda wanted had not shown. They wanted him to fly—and he could not. They spoke of psychic abilities, but he had no concept of those no matter how often they were explained to him.

Aeimlou: “Uh… should I be worried right now? Since I’m not sure if I like the implication of them ‘deciding what to do with me’.”
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This all made sense once he realised that they did not, either. Though that begged why they would attempt to explain something they did not know to him. Atlas said it was a human thing. The reuniclus (which was a very fun thing Atlas called himself) had taken on the mantle of teacher because of of his partners’ frustration.

Small typo there. Though huh. So Pokémon don’t perceive themselves as being named what humans name them. I suppose that’s a sign that animesque Pokémon speak is not a thing in this setting.

On the second day, someone had decided Aeimlou deserved some fresh air. They took him out, redundantly laid a soft fabric over soft grass in the shade of forest at the back of their nest, and he ate of from the berries and meats they brought him. The humans sat on their own, chattering in the background.

Hilda also brought five new creatures. None stayed beside Atlas. They gave a slit-eyed glance, a huff of steam, a shake of the leaves spooling from their spine, a dry hiss, a clip of the blades, a dip of whiskers. Then they fled to do their own thing in the forest, leaving Aeimlou open-mouthed and blinking as he dragged himself around the grass.

I’m… not fully sure who the rest of Hilda’s team is from this description other than that she probably has a Samurott. Unless the idea is very deliberately that Aeimlou didn’t really keep track of Hilda’s team, it might make sense to be less sparing here, especially since it’ll potentially help save time introducing these five later on.

They’re quite independent, Atlas’s sound echoed in Aeimlou’s mind, As am I. It’s as if Hilda went out of her way to seek us, specifically, from our homes.

I can’t tell if that’s a good, or a really, really worrisome thing that Atlas brought up there.
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Atlas attempted to mime something, the mass of his gel shifting into odd shapes as he floated around Aeimlou’s head. His massive arms gestured, but to what nobody could be certain. If he wanted a response, he did not wait.

Huh, so Reuniclus can arbitrarily reshape its protoplasm or whatever the green stuff that makes up its “body” is in this fic. Duly noted.

Then the lesson started. It did not stop starting for a good while—long enough to watch the shadows stretch and the humans grow silent.

So, supposedly, his psychic abilities were was a physical force accessed metaphysically, which connected to his mind which was in his skull and. It was enabled by the precise assemblage of biology and abstracts unique to his current species, yet also shared by every other psychic species. With this thing that was real but not real, he could fly. And communicate. And levitate objects. And perform illusions.

Truly complete nonsense.

I can already tell that Aeimlou is going to have quite the
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reaction whenever he ultimately figures out how to into his psychic abilities. Since they’re very real, even if he hasn’t figured out how to use them, yet.

I do not understand, Aeimlou expressed after ages of frustrating back-and-forth. He moved on to glaring into the distance, at the wildflowers growing from the roots of Juniper’s nest and the deep pink wrinkles under the flower petals. Their connection had been somewhat tainted: strained to the point where each thought sent it vibrating, the noise squealing and burying their talk.

Huh. So mental links among Psychic-types require energy to maintain and they’ll eventually wear out? Definitely seems like a handy way of balancing things there.

Meanwhile, Juniper and Hilda had taken to watching their mood flatten. Hilda, in particular with a sly grin on her face.

You could at least express it differently, Atlas said, patience plainly turning to threads much as Aeimlou used to turn bits of refuse to threads with tugs of his beak, Perhaps: ‘could you repeat that?’ or ‘give me some time to think on this’ would add some variety to this nightmare.

I am trying to be clear. I would like to learn this quickly, and I would not like you to repeat it, rather to repeat it better.

Atlas: “*Good gods, Hilda, just how much longer do we have to do this?*”
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Atlas bubbled. You’re frustrating. He tilted himself to catch some encouragement from Hilda. Then took great effort to settle his bubble into a simmer. This connection we share is psychic in nature, so describe to me what you think it is.

An interesting question. Novel, too, thankfully. For him, it felt like a very direct line of communication. While he couldn’t actually speak the way humans did, and by Atlas’ explanation the reuniclus had no means of speaking at all, they had something very intimate here.

Is it an expression of intent? Of motive or emotion?

I mean, that’s not that far off, Aeimlou…

Atlas attempted to clap his hands together, but they sank into each other with an unsatisfying gurgle. He sent something warm and smooth, soothing after ages of friction. Aeimlou cooed, revelling in it also.

Excellent! I’d call that progress. Intent is a concise way to facilitate your psychic abilities.

So I simply intent to fly and I will fly?

Not precisely.


And back to the frustration.

I’m getting flashbacks of the sequence from Raimi Spiderman when Peter Parker tries to figure out how to shoot out webbing consistently for the first time.
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They did not stop as food was brought to them, nor as clouds hid the sun, nor as Atlas’ friends returned, the humans attempted to usher them inside and were roundly ignored. Although talk of psychic abilities became tired in the way it ground them against each other.

They moved on to each other.

Aeimlou enjoyed this. More than anything in his life, perhaps even more than the scavenging—finding something dead and stripping it to its skeleton with the help of his flock. This felt like so much more. Every sentence felt complex and layered and Atlas quickly revealed himself to be quite interesting beyond appearance and species name.

Oh, so Aeimlou is growing past being that little Murkrow he used to be, if not quite in terms of practical battling abilities just yet.

He had, for instance, a truly bizarre relation to Hilda. Partners, yet not. It had alarming shades close to thier previous conversation. Still, the puzzle here had a lifetime of stories behind it. And Aeimlou gladly listened.

Huh, I wonder if this is building towards Aeimlou getting trained by Hilda… unless if he’s just going to ultimately become Benga’s Black 2 Latios with a dye job.

I do not think I have been to Nimbasa, Aeimlou said after hearing of Atlas’ birth and life in the forest outside Nimbasa. Division, he called it. He had a fascinating lineage of memory—foggy ideas he’d taken from the parent he split from. He’d lived communally, which Aeimlou found solace in.

Oh, so Solosis line ‘mons reproduce by mitosis. I suppose that is fitting given that they’re more or less giant, macro-sized cells.

If you follow the river from the sea, it’s directly beyond the desert.

Aeimlou hummed, imagining the path, the streaks of water below him, gleaming gray towers piercing from the ground and spiralling through the clouds. He passed them, passed beyond a beige landscape he’d rarely stopped at for want of food. Landed in a forest. Remembered creatures similar to Atlas—small and round and clustered together between the branches like berries ripe for plucking. If only they weren’t larger than him.

Oh, so Aeimlou used to make:

simpsons-dreamy.gif


faces everytime he’d see the Solosis in Pinwheel Forest, huh?
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Perhaps we have seen each other. I remember flying through there.

Flying? I thought you couldn’t.

This body is new to me. I could, once.


Aiemlou looked out. Ravens lived everywhere, so it was not surprising to find some perched not far away, teetering on the fence cutting them off from the front. The birds always kept them in sight. Strange to think he had been among them.

Whelp, time to find out if these are literal ravens or Murkrow.

You’re serious? Atlas asked, seeing how he focused on the birds. A raven?

Yes. Is that odd?

Whelp, literal ravens it is. I suppose I should’ve expected this given that in Shepard Tones, you mention in passing that there are normal eels chilling around in that setting. Though duly noted for the implication of what the biosphere in this setting is like.

A mess of emotions came through, forceful as a slap. Aeimlou could only shake his head and try to reorient himself against them.

It explains a lot, I suppose, Atlas said.

Aeimlou: “Wait, just what is that supposed to mean?”
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Aeimlou looked up, trying to meet him at the eyes as he floated above. That face held nothing. One thing he’d learned about the reuniclus was his own stasis—unable to match the form of expression inherent in others, at least in a physical sense. That knowledge travelled with something tired and flat.

Oh, so Atlas’ “voice” sounds like a creepy monotone? Or at least I think that’s what Aeimlou’s narration is meant to imply there.

I apologise.

It’s not your fault. You must have done something incredible to be chosen like that.


He blinked. He had not even considered his ascension a result of action. He knew it had nothing to do with growth as he’d seen others in his flock age and die, but he’d imagined it as something more random. Another disease or attack.

Aeimlou: “No, I… just kinda woke up like this.” ^^;
- Beat moment -
Aeimlou: “Wait a minute, ‘chosen like that’? You mean that this has happened before?!”
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And if he had done something incredible, he did not remember. He did not understand.

But Atlas had grown tired of hearing that.

I suppose, he said

Atlas accepted that with a warm pulse of energy.

And helped him inside after.

I now have the mental image of a grayscale Latios just hanging in midair unceremoniously while being floated indoors. o<o

Aeimlou watched plans come and go, distantly. Juniper talked. Mostly to Hilda, but to anyone else who would talk, too, even Aeimlou, despite him having no thoughts on the future.

He had known that spiky feeling for a while, migrating from the others to him to a degree he had difficulty expressing. Only then did he find a name for it:

Annoyance.

Huh, that makes me wonder if Aeimlou used to be sapient before becoming a Latios, since he seems to have trouble articulating a lot of concepts that we take for granted such as how to refer to emotional states.

He missed flying. It seemed petty, but he found himself thinking about small things in between larger thoughts—he did not appear to be made for prolonged grounding. His belly itched as he lay on the floor for another hour. Not even the softer bedding helped, and he could not lie on his back with fins like his. He missed the wind, cloistered as he was in Juniper’s nest, and the free range and watching the stronger creatures shrink until they could not reach him.

He missed preening, his feathers already matted in oil and dirt, skewed out awkwardly and itching also. But he could not reach them. Not until he had his psychic. Juniper, especially, tried to help, but her knowledge did not extend that far and he did not let her after one clumsy attempt.

She did something like stroke Aeimlou’s lower back or belly or something? Since if Latios have similar nerve distributions to birds, that would get really awkward really fast for Aeimlou, since those are erogenous zones among many bird species.
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Atlas tried, too. Without much success, but his gel fingers were cool and pleasant and drew light coos from Eimlou as they fumbled over his back. They lay outside, then—out in the grass and beating sun. Atlas also spared some power to levitate him in some approximation of flight at his own suggestion.

He held some guilt at irritating the others, because it did not feel good. Their conversations drifted around him, and their time wore away and their eyebrows sank as he asked for further explanations. They found reasons to leave him alone more often.

Atlas had no such qualms. Even through discomfort.

I’m guessing it’s because they’re both Psychic-types? Since I’m admittedly not sure why Atlas in particular is feeling so much more invested in Aeimlou versus the rest of Hilda’s team.

They sat on the lab’s open upstairs one day, overlooking the human children and pokemon children meeting each other for the first time. A starter ceremony, according to Juniper. She’d allowed him to watch. The children also watched him as they came in, arms curled up to their chests, wide eyes open and sparkling.

Huh, that must’ve been a sight to behold for those kiddos. Though neat little bit of worldbuilding there for how starter distribution works in this setting.

She snapped her fingers at them as their attention wavered, but he did not mind. In fact, she began snapping her fingers at him once he started chirping and whistling to draw their attention while she bored them.

So the human children become mothers? He asked, after a while of watching.

Atlas shook, fully. Aeimlou had allowed him to perch between his fins, so he felt the motion even though he could not see.

Can’t tell if that’s from
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or
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from Atlas there. Maybe both.

I would not describe them like that.

But they rear the chicks.


Their connection dipped. A coldness crept in—as it did when Juniper left the lab window open one night. They train them. They are too young to be mothers.


Aeimlou: “They could be adoptive mothers?”
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Atlas: “Aeimlou, they’re not mothers, okay?” >_>;

Perhaps I do not understand the difference. Where are the mothers, then? Would they not be a better option?

They breed them, giving them up to humans for the children to train.

That is not an answer.

Well that could get really awkward really fast. Though I suppose that there’s a story to be had about Pokémon whose purpose in life is making babies repeatedly to yeet out into the wider world for weird naked apes to chill with.

The coldness only intensified, frost lurking between thoughts. Two gelatinous fists gripped his fins tighter until they sent cold shocks down his spine. Aiemlou let out a dull whine and got an apology in return.

Yes. They would.

I think that it might make sense to expand Atlas’ answer a bit to add some context. I assume that it’s a response to the “Wouldn’t the mothers be a better option?” question, but it’s not fully clear at the moment.

Aiemlou allowed some silence after that, not trusting the connection. He watched young creatures scamper and scrap below, weak bursts of elements meeting each other, skipping across the gleaming white floors.

He did not understand how the children were not mothers. Not as they held a soft blue head close to their own, or wrangled stray vines and expressed so much purpose as if to glow.

Aeimlou: “Since just saying, they really, really seem like adoptive mothers right now.” >_>;

But Atlas got warmer not long after. He sank onto Aeimou’s back with a deep gurgle and tried, once again, to sort out his feathers. Not successfully. Again. But Aeimlou ducked his head and closed his eyes and let him.

They try their best, I suppose.

Atlas would not say who they were.

Aeimlou: “Why on earth is your way of life this confusing anyways?”
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Atlas had an unexpected physicality to him. He liked to be close, liked to touch more and more as the days passed by. Aiemlou could not say what exactly had changed, but the reuniclus slept across from him now, out of his ball, on another spare bed pushed up against the wall. He glowed green in dim light and their connection thrummed in sleep also, beating with waves from the other’s dream.

Aiemlou did not sleep those nights. He watched the ebb and flow of an unconscious body, hearing an ocean reflected in his mind.

Wait… is Atlas developing a crush on Aeimlou? Since I’m kinda starting to get that vibe with how much time he spends with him and how close they’ve been getting.

The humans had come to some sort of decision by morning. Their reserved chatter died down and they instead orbited around each other in the lab, though whether in satisfaction or disappointment Aiemlou could not tell.

According to Atlas, Hilda could not stay much longer. They would be leaving later. The thought of Atlas departing put Aiemlou in a strange sort of mood—starved, almost, picking through the underbrush for scraps and longing for something greater.

Oh, so it’s not just Atlas who was potentially developing feelings between those two… maybe. Can’t fully tell if that was the intended undertone or not.

Thankfully, Aeimlou came to a solution of his own.

Constant practise with Atlas had not borne fruit as easily as he wished, but he had grown the capability to prod. From across a space, a room, a field, even through walls, Aeimlou could turn his burgeoning psychic abilities into something blunt and use it to touch others.

They found it annoying, mostly. Especially on initial discovery, when he abused it, focused it hundreds of times and watched Hilda itch at an invisible sensation while she twirled a fork over her breakfast. She found out quickly. And stomped over to him with a sour pout. And threatened to tape his muzzle shut if he didn’t stop. Not that it could stop him. Which she found out not long after.

Oh, so Aeimlou did get his muzzle taped shut at least once? That must’ve hurt to undo since that almost certainly pulled feathers out along the way. ^^;

Well, Juniper rescued him eventually, hands full of clippers and a few choice words for Hilda. Atlas found it amusing, at least.

Well, until the tape had to be undone, anyways. That just sounds more painful.
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Previous experience helped in executing a plan. It only took one prod for Hilda to sigh, pick up a roll of tape and march back over, crouching to stare him directly in the eyes and tilting her head in a way that was decidedly not playful.

“Well?” she said, “Don’t make me do it again.”

Aeimlou chirped, snapping his claws together the same way he’d seen her do when someone else had been talking to her. She squinted, then her mouth widened.

Wait, Latios claws can do that?
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“What, you need to talk?”

He nodded.

“Atlas is outside for a sec. I guess I’ll just… hang around. Play the waiting game on your new best friend.”

Oh. I just realized, if Hilda is about to leave and Atlas is logically going along with her…
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Aeimlou blinked. He was not sure how to treat Hilda in the best of times. But she seemed to take his confusion some other way, waggling a stray finger over his snout.

Eh, c’mon. The only person he talks to that much is me, and I took two years to get that far.”

Oh. Well, that made him feel quite special. He smiled at her and let out a light coo.

Aeimlou: “... Is that a ‘maybe’ there?” ^^;

She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, whatever. Don’t feel too bad or anything.”

Lucky Hilda didn’t seem to have much to do, because the waiting led on for quite a while, watching Juniper pass through occasionally and shoot them stray glances. She brought food, at least, a tray of vegetables for them to share. And sat silently for a while sharing unseen words with Hilda. Aiemlou had no concern for them. He simply watched the door until Atlas’ telltale green mass floated through and he met the reuniclus with a quick chirp. The other was eager to connect, and it only took light prodding to bring Hilda into the fold. Juniper, too—simply for her presence, he supposed.

“So whatcha need?”

Do you remember those children who picked up their starters?

“Do I remember something that happened yesterday? I dunno…”

Well, in case you need a reminder—

That… might not have been the best timing there, Aeimlou, since I’m pretty sure that that conversation between Hilda and Juniper isn’t going to be totally irrelevant.

A quick sharpness cut him off. Irritation. Yes. And a brief scan of his companions’ faces convinced him he would not have to elaborate.

Alright. In any case, I would like to be Atlas’ starter.

Atlas:
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Aeimlou: “Wait, but that should be perfectly feasible, right?” ^^;

Perhaps he should have kept the conversation more insulated, because the wave of conflicting thought that hit him sent him reeling. Outside his head, the reactions were not much more reassuring.

Juniper blinked. “Excuse me?”

And Atlas sank noticeably in the air, his distinct signature vibrating between a chaotic buzz and a touching warmth.

That’s absurd, he whispered.

Aeimlou: “*Wh-What are you talking about? If those human chicks could be ‘trainers’, you can too, Atlas! Why are you reacting like this?*”
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“What the fuck?” Hilda coughed around a carrot she’d been chewing, thumping her chest. “Yeah. Absurd. I don’t even know—Juniper set you up to this didn’t she?”

Now Juniper was blinking at her, instead.

And Atlas felt very prickly for some reason.

Atlas: “*Oh boy, where do I even start here…?*”
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“No, believe it or not I didn’t tell a grounded legendary to be your pokemon’s starter pokemon.”

“Well who the fuck else could’ve given him that idea? He’s—” she gestured to him, palms out. “Y’know.”

That prickliness sharpened itself on her words.

Whelp, I suppose I’ll take the under on Aeimlou joining-

I think it’s a fine idea. I see no problems with it, Atlas shot back, voice echoing with a certain airiness. He floated over the table—giving Hilda a long stare before plopping himself down beside Aeimlou, one arm draped over his back. He could learn much from me. He already has.

Well, nevermind then.
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“You’re only saying that to be difficult!”

Perhaps. And there’s no reason why not.

Wait, but would your region’s legal structure even allow you to be a trainer, Atlas? .-.

And as Hilda spluttered and Juniper leaned in with open palms, Aeimlou suspected the conversation had quickly left his territory. Perhaps he would simply set his chin down and watch.

They seemed happy enough to ignore him, besides.

“Oh, come on! There has to be some league shit that prevents it.”

Everyone turned to Juniper, who rubbed the bridge of her nose with a tired sigh.

“They reserve the right to remove trainer status from anyone for any reason, but there are no pokemon-specific regulations regarding training or trainer privileges.” She tried to set a hand on HIlda’s but it was quickly brushed off. “I don’t see why you’re so opposed to this, he’d essentially be de-facto your pokemon.”

Hilda: “Because I’m supposed to be trying to track down N right now and not perpetually babysitting a grounded jet-dragon?” >_>;

“Oh, yeah. No problem, then!”

“Hilda—”

“Nah. No, we’re not doing this. What have I been saying for years. To both of you idiots. I’m done with it—if I never have to train a pokemon from zero to hero again, I’ll be happy. This is at least a couple steps beyond that.”

Sounds like Hilda’s journey in this continuity must’ve been quite the saga given that she’s sworn off expanding her team beyond her present six members. Makes me wonder how much of a handful they are even in the present day.

The silence that followed meant nothing to Aeimlou. It had an air of finality to it, but searching between people or trailing stray bits of dust floating around the room revealed nothing. He let it sit for a while, all the while wondering if he should interject.

Finally, Juniper sighed and touched a hand to her head and tucked wild strands of fur behind her ear.

“I haven’t put anyone up to anything. You’re right, I would have asked anyways, but that’s because I trust you.”

[ ]


“I guess I can’t refuse, then.”

Wait, Aeimlou’s actually going to be going around with Hilda with Atlas as his “trainer”?
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“Of course not—you can always say no.”

But Hilda had this odd twist to her expression as she sharpened her teeth on another carrot. She seemed cornered, knees drawing to her chest in the folds of the couch. Atlas’s hand grew unsteady over Aiemlou’s back, wobbling in a way he couldn’t ascertain.

Hilda, he said, please. It’s alright.

But she did not have much for him except a glare.

Atlas: “*Also, this story would get really boring if it was just set around Juniper’s lab for forever, so…*” ^^;

Juniper cleared her throat. “It’s a lot of responsibility, I know. It’s not like I expect you to take him for free. I’ll fund it.”

“Oh, well, what excuse do I have?”

“Hilda—”

“I don't know what to tell you, Juniper.” She scowled, raising an angry finger. “It doesn’t piss me off that you asked, but I hate you pretending there was ever a chance I’d say no. You know me.”

I mean, that kinda sounds like a ‘you’ problem there, Hilda. >:V

Juniper bit her lip, nodding distantly.

“And you know I’m just gonna do it.”

She nodded again, slower this time.

Whelp, that’s one way to get Aeimlou out into the broader world. Though I wonder if this is happening before or after Hilda wrapped up her whole saga trying to find wherever N flew off to with the Tao he teamed up with.

And with that, the room was hers, buried under an unspoken purpose. It struck an interesting figure over their connection, partly because of how outside Aeimlou was from it. He had no connection to these stories so he allowed himself to sit back, to watch and feel while Atlas and Juniper sent out things that hesitated, bounced back halfway between them, or shuddered and wilted like fall grasses.

“You’ve got me in a ranting mood.” Hilda stood, brushed crumbs off her legs and looked down on them. “ All this taking advantage; It fucks me up that whenever I take a job, everyone acts so surprised that they need to pay me; like I should be rich by birthright, like saving their asses got me anything.” She sniped, arguing with some invisible creature. “But it’s not like they paid me, or helped, or did anything—they just sat on the couch and waited for someone to clean up their shit.”

Okay, yeah. Hilda is officially the B1W1 Champion in this continuity. Though I suppose those feelings of resentment would explain a lot about how she just bounced from the region to go and try and track down N sometime before and through the events of B2W2.

She paused, took a breath, a fire lit in her eyes that Aeimlou only then realised had been there the whole time.

“Sometimes I wish I would’ve let team plasma win, just to see the look on their fucking faces. Life stops kissing their boots, handing them shit and they probably curl up and die.”

Juniper did not react, but Aeimlou could feel the tension. “You don't mean that,” she said.

Yeeeeeah, Hilda’s life has really had some problems since B1W1, I can already tell. Not that essentially putting your life on pause in the middle of junior high and globetrotting wouldn’t be a really, really easy way to put yourself behind the 8-ball in terms of life progression.

And allowed the moment to sit. Although whether Hilda relented because she truly meant it, or because Juniper looked up at her with sad eyes, Aeimlou could not tell.

“No. You’re right,” she said. A sigh broke her facade. “I would’ve given up fucking everything and been turned into some dumbass statue that kids take field trips to for bothering. So congratulations, everybody. You’re getting your way. At my expense. The fuck else is new?”

I… take it that Juniper probably should’ve been a wee bit more supportive of Hilda in the aftermath of B1W1. Even if I’m curious as to what the full story behind her in this story is and if it’ll be addressed in future chapters.

And although the others wilted further, Aeimlou felt quite pleased. He let out a quiet chirp and bobbed his head soldily. Just for himself. For a moment, Hilda stared and seemed as if she would break out the tape again, but she only sighed and put her attention on Atlas, who had recovered enough to lean into Aeimlou again.

I won’t apologise for expressing my opinion.

Aeimlou: “*So… I am coming with you all, right?*”

“Didn’t expect you to. Won’t let you trip up, though, you’re in charge of him. Just don’t be a hypocrite, Atlas.”

She ended with a quirk of the brow. He ended with a simmer, a faint hint of disappointment that Aeimlou felt through the cold touch of his gel. He felt that coldness also as Hilda turned to him with a snap of the fingers.

“And you. You little shit, I know your type.”

Psychic, as I have been told.

Hilda: “Yeah, I’m going to wind up really, really regretting to agreeing to putting up with this crap, I can already tell.”
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“Very funny. I’m not letting you poke the ursaring and run away. If you start pushing me, there will be consequences, understand?”

For a moment, Aeimlou considered testing the order, sending another prod her way and watching the ensuing punishment. But Atlas seemed to sense those intentions not long after they sprouted. Don’t, he warned. So Aeimlou did not. He simply nodded instead.

Aeimlou: “*I mean, isn’t the worst she can do just to send me back here?*” ^^;
Atlas: “*Yeah, which we won’t be coming back for, just saying.*” >_>;

And although Hilda nodded back, she did not smile.

“Great. Welcome to the team. Well, Atlas’ team, I guess, since he’s offering to take care of you. And I’m holding him to it. Good luck, idiots.”

Off she went, not sparing a glance behind her as she stomped out the door. She only returned at nightfall. Hours after they were supposed to leave.

Instead, they left the next morning.

I mean, at least it’s better than getting stuck with Benga? Though that doesn’t seem like an auspicious start there. ^^;

Alright, that’s a wrap. I’ll admit, I wasn’t expecting Aeimlou to wind up getting stuck on a Champion team, but I suppose that there is precedent in the games for this given how SnS sticks you with a Type: Null in a fashion that isn’t far removed from how Hilda (or technically Atlas, but in-setting, it’s treated as Hilda) gets saddled with a grayscale Latios. It was particularly fun to see Atlas and Aeimlou bonding with each other, while Hilda’s full:

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mood has a story behind it, I can already tell. Even if getting to the bottom of it is probably going to be a journey in its own right.

I don’t have all that much to complain about for this chapter. There were a few points where I noticed typos and verb tense errors, but they weren’t exactly super common in the text. There were also a couple places where I thought that more description in the narration or else more clarity in language would’ve helped improve things, but all-in-all, things were put together really well, and I honestly might have missed a few things since I was too busy having fun just watching the characters play off each other.

Good work @tomatorade . I wasn’t really sure what I was going to be getting into with this story when I first picked it up as part of Review Blitz, but it’s a pretty charming character exploration piece that follows a premise that I don’t think I’ve seen done all that often in the fandom. Even if it might take a while, I’ll have to come back to this story sometime in the future, since it’s really charming just to see Aeimlou evolving and getting in some funny clueless and troll moments along the way. :V
 
Chapter Twelve: Our Dearly Departed PT I

tomatorade

The great speckled bird
Location
A town at the bottom of the ocean
Pronouns
He/Him
Partners
  1. quilava
  2. buizel
Chapter twelve
Our Dearly Departed PT I


N needed more time, above all. This is what Hilda thought. Almost from the moment she met him, this odd green man staring at the brick sidewalk below his feet as though waiting for the scraggly weeds to grow before him. He needed Ghetsis to have died years before, he needed Plasma to stay a twinkle in his eyes, he needed the forces of Unova to never have noticed him.

And then maybe she would have believed him.

There were so many pivotal moments, in retrospect. Just sitting. Talking. At a cafe after her first gym, her knees hidden under the table, still pale and knocking against each other in the cool summer night. Maybe that lonely moment stuck with him at the top of Nimbasa’s ferris wheel. He had some strong ideas. This beautiful, sprawling image in his head of the world after.

It struck her, though, in Iccirus. Right before he met Reshiram.

It snowed late. An early october storm, fat flakes of snow landing limp and wet against her collar. They stood in the tall grass, alone for the first time since the ferris wheel. Her knees were scarred, now, and creased with the green of the grass and smears of dirt.

N explained to her a future of rolling fields, gold eyes blinking deep in the thicket. Pokemon trickling out of the caves and crannies and out into the urban sprawl. Creeper vines would line the gutters of towering brickwork. These were only words, though. No matter how hard she squinted, the future stayed dark.

But really, he just needed more time. Seeing Danial again reminded her why he never got that. And why he go to fuck off and she got stuck here.

~(0)~

Danial showed up like that the first time, too. Back then, she spotted him across the parking lot., same as now Unfit in a sea of teenagers and the older Hoenn immigrant population that lived in that corner of Castelia. Nobody wore a suit there. Nobody drove a car as shiny and blacker than the asphalt beneath its wheels.

Danial was barely a person. Just a couple lines on a coffestained document shoved to the very back of the dingiest, most dented file cabinet in the worst-paid government building. He didn’t really say words--he espoused opinions.

Once, Hilda had tried to treat him like an actual human being—a long time ago, when somebody being interested in her wasn’t yet a threat. Not possible anymore, of course. The tightness in her jaw could’ve been the first signs of a stroke, but watching him lounge against his car hood, taking in the breeze and flickering sunlight like he deserved it boiled her blood.

Conversation started like it always did. He had to let her know he’d seen her this whole time, she told him to fuck off, maybe a bit more professionally. A blunt reminder that he worked for the government, a rebuttal, a re-rebuttal. Repeat until the sun explodes. And the questions. Why send her pokemon away? What’s she doing in Undella (she says, but he knows because he managed to find he, and she knows he knows). Where’s N, where’s Reshiram, where’s Zekrom?

She always answered the same, but it didn’t matter. She met Zekrom. They wanted to. Any answer that didn’t lead them to him was a lie.

So only once he’d run through his script and his own exhaustion fell visibly over his face did he start to resemble something like a person. When his hand found more reasons to rub away the creases in his forehead and the weight of the day settled on his shoulders.

He’d finally got to the bottom of his notebook—this little spiral-bound thing he kept in his blazer pocket. That and his solid black monolith of a pen. Still, he lingered, eyeing Hilda with that same desperation she recognised. He’d like to keep asking.

He also must have noticed her sharpening her nails against her teeth.

“It’s frustrating, you know,” he said. A tilt of the head revealing just a sliver of his eyes above dark sunglasses. “You never seem happy, but you keep meeting these legends. Always send them off—go away! Go away! You could create a lot of good if you just took the opportunity to make some change, Hilda.”

“What, for you? You wouldn’t like the changes I’d make.”

He ignored that last part. He’s fucking awesome at ignoring shit.

“For Unova. The good of the region, Hilda. The future was in your hands, did you ever think of that?”

No. Not particularly. By the time she and Zekrom parted all her dreams had been beaten out of her. She shrugged. Pursed her lips. He dropped his hands completely, letting them slap against his car with a dull thud.

“It’s frustrating,” he repeated. And combed it back quickly—all these loose emotions he’d let out. He shoved them under a flat expression again. “And for the record, we don’t believe you have no clue where Zekrom went.”

She bit her tongue. Really, she was the one who should be frustrated. Or more frustrated, but she’d reached some sort of horizon where the repetition washed over her.

Whatever. She should go. He clearly wasn't going to take this farther so she gave him a dismissive wave, testing the waters a little and only getting a shake of the head in return. She wandered across the shoulder of the road, kicking gravel into the lot. Meandered around to the cliffside—peering over for the wandering path she remembered hid amidst the grass and shale overhangs. Sure enough, a tilted rope rail thick with salt and fraying in every possible direction waited. He didn’t stop her. Not really. Mumbled a bare: “You’re here for the Seance? I’ll be seeing you around.” and turned to watch the sea.

But she caught herself there—fist wrapped around the rope, scratchy and sucking the moisture from her palm.

“If you want to find him just go to the airport. Take a flight to literally anywhere, he’s probably waiting to pick you up at arrivals.”

He scoffed.

“Very funny.”

She wasn’t joking, but maybe it would be better if he thought she was.

“I don’t get why you keep harassing me about this shit. You should know—Zekrom talked about it with me. And you still had your fucking bug on me.”

He hesitated, hand hovering over the pocket he kept his little notebook in.

“I don’t recall anything relevant.”

“On the flight? We fucked off for like a week and didn’t shut up the whole time.”

The hesitation grew. He nodded, but only to himself, and with an uncertain squint and the slightest crack of lips to show teeth.

Hilda blinked, watching to see if his expression would change—if the epiphany would hit and he’d sink back into his stoicism. He didn’t.

So she didn’t bother to hide the ugly grin that split her face. He didn’t know. Years of surveillance—of Hilda watching dark cars circle her hotels, of checking the straps of her bag for mics and standing on stools, taping up the vent-slats into the corner, all that paranoia, all the building tension between that—and he’d still missed something.

And then she remembered that exact moment Zekrom came to her in a hurry, shredding through her tent with a burst of static and beating of wings. She barely had time to pick herself up and rub the dots from her eyes and, in only her bra and some pjs—not even shoes, she climbed between the stiff wings crowning his spine, held close so his tingling heat protected her, and tried not to scream as he took off.

Oh, if Danial wanted to track her then, they would’ve needed to stick her brain with microchips.

He noticed her grin. He curled his lips into a thin line.

“We had a great talk, I’ll tell ya,” she sniped.

His confusion solidified into something sour.

“I should remind you that it’s your duty to Unova to tell me what you two spoke about.”

“Fuck off.”

“There’s a lot we could do about this, Hilda.”

He tried to reach for something at his hips, but he wasn’t in uniform. A thin, clumsy hand fumbled against his belt loop.

What bullshit. All he could really do was stand there.

“Actually, Zekrom would never come to you. You’re a fuckin’ coward—”

“Try to keep this professional.”

“-- but he’d tell you to do it. He’d stand behind you and tell you to torture me if you thought I’d squeal like a pig. But you won’t. Tell me I’m fucked up for not using legends whenever I see them, but you wouldn’t either. Just sit there like a bitch and wait for daddy Unova to swoop in and take everything from you.”

She dug her fist into the rope railing as she talked, the stiff fibres pricking her palm.

“You’re just proving my point,” he said, “It’s exactly why we need to find Zekrom. A legend of that strength and with that temperament—that’s a big thing, is all. Very useful.”

He could act cool all he wanted, but Hilda saw right through it. She figured he would’ve gone off for another assignment after the Plasma nightmare, but he stuck around. Always showed up around a drafty corner somewhere. Kept tabs. Called. Once, just as she landed in Hoenn, visiting cousins, and as she picked through the waiting crowds of people scanning past her with hopeful smiles. Her phone buzzed with an unknown number. Are you meeting with Zekrom, was the first thing she heard.

She’d grown out of that desperation. That teenage fury that had her trying to beat down every gym with just the bare scraps she’d earned. Or maybe she’d given up. Whatever. He’d done neither. Whenever he talked about legends he got this gleam in his eye and started licking his lips. If only he knew what they’d talked about, he could kill or her. Or worship her. She couldn’t say.

“Yeah. Fine.” She huffed. Hoped he didn't notice her withering enthusiasm. “Sorry you didn’t get lucky, I guess. You’ll die before you find him, but nobody would cry for you so you don’t have to feel too bad.”

He held on her for a while, like he had more to say, but his eyes trailed back down the road and to the city.

“Luck isn’t real,” he muttered, “I don’t need it. I’ve got all the resources I need at my discretion, Hilda. Try not to wander off until I get back.” And if he noticed her shift, he busied himself over it. Out came the notebook again. And the phone and the car keys, jingling from a finger and drawing him back to the driver’s door. His phone buzzed in the crook of his neck before he even closed the door.

And then he sped off. Back to Castelia. Eager to bring a posse of identical dickheads to make her life miserable.

She sighed, looking out to the beach and the dull red roof of the pokecenter. She didn’t even have a room yet.

Man, she wished N was here. She let her smile creep back as she pictured it.

He and Danial would have a lot of fun together.

And she would get his spot, palling around with gods somewhere at the edge of the world.

Out on the boardwalk, she spotted the distant blur of Aiemlou and Atlas making their way to the center. She sighed.

Oh, who was she kidding? She remembered. She’d hate that shit, too.
 
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Chapter Thirteen: Our Dearly Departed PT II

tomatorade

The great speckled bird
Location
A town at the bottom of the ocean
Pronouns
He/Him
Partners
  1. quilava
  2. buizel
Chapter Thirteen
Our Dearly Departed PT II


Isaac always felt awkward, to be fair. He craved silence, his mortal enemy. He didn’t get along with moments or ever sit down and decide to relax and actually end up doing that. His father always called him neurotic, his mom a crazymaker. These were things he was passionately aware of in the abstract but would never be able to see coming. There were a thousand filmed moments of him trying and failing to pose as a trainer that would forever be burned into his mind.

Or maybe more the after. Watching all that back, stuffed in bed with his arms wrapped around his knees and realising he’d been a child all along. All night long until the flickering screen burned the images into his eyes and he blinked awake again in a pool of sweat.

So, anyways,

“I think I love you.” was the first thing he said to the creature as she made it into the foyer and closed the door with a gentle psychic push.

Even as Isaac sank back into the couch, mind screaming back at him, that familiar ice seeping into his cracks, she did not respond. A rich house fit her. She looked like some stained glass ornament his aunt would fawn over in the window of an occult shop. All smooth, blemishless shapes that flowed through the air and caught the light strangely. Weightless. And despite some of the sharpness King had, here similar edges seemed natural. The kitchen welcomed them like any other member of the family. And let them exit into the living room.

Isaac only gathered his words by the time she’d reached King’s castle of objects. A familiar psychic glow manifested around a fork poking from one of the fabric piles, drawing it to a pointy yellow snout until a telltale condensation dulled the reflection. She hummed. And put it back precisely where she found it.

“N-not like— I mean…” he mumbled, watching her hover around a row of neatly-arranged shoelaces, “I haven’t felt this happy in a long time. I think. Maybe sometime when I was sleeping, but that- that’s not happening.”

Nothing changed between her meandering and the dull psychic pressure that spooled around them, but Isaac sensed agreement. It wasn’t enough. The silence frayed his edges again.

“That’s King’s,” he mumbled as she finally did a full circle around the collection. “He’s— it’s— I dunno. A nest… I guess. Bisharp don’t make nests.”

She gave a musical, clipped little vocal.

“It’s a nice piece of art, regardless.” She smiled. “Oh, apologies. I’m deciding how to approach this. I’ve taken welcoming you upon myself. To the ire of many, I assume—though I can’t pretend not to enjoy existing about a world which assumes I’ve done so irrationally.”

Isaac blinked. He looked at his claws, still shivering like wild creatures pulled from the ocean. Should he know? Her words sailed past him, to someone who wasn’t there. Well, he assumed. Until he glanced around the back shadow of the couch and confirmed that they were alone.

That was enough of a distraction he didn’t notice her closing in, close enough he could touch those odd crescents frozen in orbit around them, trailed with flecks of darker red and yellow. These opalescent curls of texture like the planetary rings they were emulating.

“Do you know what you are?” She asked.

“Human,” he said before thinking. And again, after a couple beats, “I’m human.”

“I see,” she responded. But with this vibrant monotone. It had layers to it, seeming dynamic even balancing on one note. He only noticed now that they sounded like space. She narrowed her eyes. Tilted her head and leaned closer until his haze threatened to stain the whites of her eyes. “You haven’t been sleeping, have you? You should. It’s only healthy.”

“What are you?” He asked.

“Cresselia. Your counterpart. Is there a bed somewhere? I imagine it’s more comfortable than the couch.”

“Oh.” He blinked. Again. Then found himself holding. Sinking. A wave of warmth wrapped around his shoulders, trying to drag him down. Until it turned sharp and waves of blackness took over. He jerked back with a gasp, the bleary light seeping through the windows suddenly harsh and prickling the corners of his eyes. He shrunk in on himself, trying to draw away from Cresselia.

“It’s the nightmare’s fault, I think. I mean, I guess it doesn’t make sense, I just— saw… myself.”

She hummed a quiet little note. A pink paw reached out, tethered to an invisible psychic force. As it sank into the darkness seeping from his shoulder that joy came back again. Soothing, if forced. He liked it. But he couldn’t tell whether he should. He’d taken some drugs before, both prescription and from the hands of other trainers travelling the road, and they did all sorts of things to his head. Still, even watching closely he decided not to draw away.

She drew her paw back to her chest, clasped in prayer, and smiled, but cutting. Thin and immovable. A shake of the head broke her depression before Isaac could get nervous.

“Darkrai always attracts the sensitive ones, goodness knows why. The last one was strongest, but a recluse near the end and helpless to his own mind. And he chose you.” She huffed, casual as anything.

And suddenly Isaac bled questions. Slowly, seeping under the weight of the morning, but he couldn’t help it even despite the exhaustion. And couldn’t help stuttering and whispering out the first word that swam to the surface.

“D-darkrai?”

She pointed back at him.

“That’s you. Nightmare. The Long Shadow. The Masculine—what have you. A position that’s existed for centuries in one form or another.”

That slow, draining feeling became a flood. All of Isaac exiting in a moment, dropping to the floor and leaving him cold.

“Humans used to paint your face on the ceiling of their caves,” she continued, “You decided to die not long ago but, well…” She gestured vaguely in his direction.

“I’m not dead,” he said. Responded. Asserted. Whatever. He thought becoming some sort of pokemon was overwhelming enough. And he hadn’t lived that long. Well, she was being metaphorical, but he couldn’t think about it that long without feeling that age wash over him.

He stood. Or tried to, digging his claw deep into the fibrous stuffing of the couch and wobbling midair, drifting faintly sideways until he couldn’t hold and slumped instead against the cold glass coffee table, scattering the few magazines with polished faces smiling at him from beneath glossy paper headlines. Once again, like he seemed to default to these days, he sank his head into his claws and tried to shut out everything else.

But he could still hear her. Even floating there she emanated a faint buzz. Old myths liked to imagine the hum of the earth. This was that, he supposed.

“Maybe I am dead,” he mumbled, muffled through his claws. It echoed in that space.

He’d always agreed with the other kids, in their little brainstorming sessions when summer storms brought the sea out to play and kept them inside. One of those rare moments where he engaged and thought deeply about what it would be like to be a pokemon—powerful obviously, but sometimes not. Sometimes scrounging in the grass for acorns and digging burrows swerving through the leglike roots of trees. Sometimes just to talk with other pokemon, to those in the forests and hanging from the sides of cliffs. And later, those he trained, to know how he’d failed them. He wouldn’t describe it as a dream. It was pragmatic, maybe. Some kids wished they were astronauts, and he didn’t think any of them would like space with all the emptiness and swirling debris and freezing cold. No, it was a means to an end. They had the same goals, really. Even if he mostly watched from the back of their groups.

So no, becoming a pokemon did not excite him. It did not make him want to crawl around on all fours and growl up at the legs of the adults until they got sick of it and let him watch tv. He did not want to imagine himself razing mountains and boiling oceans and ruling over a blocks-and-toys kingdom.

He especially did not want to acknowledge the one word that kept assaulting him in burning red text.

“I’m not like— I mean, we’re… we… I—”

“You’re a legend, yes.”

Cresselia’s warmth remained but it didn’t touch him anymore. It sat, stagnant, before him. Isaac tried to breathe. Heaving long and heavy until he could almost feel his lungs through his chest.

“I apologise for not having more sympathy. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a new change. Here. Open your eyes.”

Isaac coughed. Sniffling to himself a few moments until the awkwardness of waiting drew him out and back into the light. Cresselia had taken a position on the couch. She did not seem to fit well on it in any way, still floating a sliver away from any contact and eyeing the dulling white fabric with a slight frown.

Once she noticed him again, those eyes turned meaningful., a slight gleam catching his attention.

“The legends have always liked to leave newborns flailing for a while. Cause a few disasters and tear themselves down so someone can intervene. Whether to later play the hero or simply because they can’t be bothered until it becomes a problem, I do not know. Honestly, it does not matter, all that does is that your interests should be your own. Someone will summon you eventually and you cannot allow them to believe that you need their help,” she said. So earnestly Isaac could only nod. “Of course, I reveal my own hypocrisy. I’d like to help you. Mentor you, in a sense. Hands-off, of course, but your new life will become complicated rather quickly.”

In that moment, Isaac wished he had a mirror. He’d like to look something like last year’s champion, Den Mercer—or like Hilda. Or any champion, going way back in tomes of monochrome and parchment. He’d like to glow like that, so full of confidence he couldn’t even imagine the cameras and all those hundreds of eyes waiting to see that smile and cheer.

He got this instead. He did not understand it. He did not know what to feel or do about it. He’d been trapped in that moment on the bench. All his pokemon sleeping in their balls. Alone for the first time in so long, nursing his aches, eyes shut tight against the blaring lights—cars speeding across the night overpass and the faint breeze that wanted to push him over and into the grass. Recordings playing back in his head and being forced to watch them back over and over until every mistake felt like another cut piling onto the thousand. How many times could he try? He didn’t even have his third badge. He’d read the comments.

Oh, he’d look like shit anyway.

He decided.

“I already have a mentor,” he said, a hint of clenched fists detached somewhere beside him.

She sighed in a way that removed the warmth and made him ache.

“I suppose I can’t force you.” She waved a paw. “But I’ll be staying in Undella, watching from afar. And perhaps I’d like to meet them, anyways. Do you train here?”

Whatever conviction he’d mustered quivered at the response. And her power crept in and soothed it. His fists unfurled, limp against the table.

“I uh… sometimes. It’s mostly talking.”

“Wonderful. Do you mind if I stay? I won’t be trouble. I’ll clean. And won’t touch King’s installation.”

“I— I guess?”

She smiled, casting off the couch with a gentle pat but noticeable lightness and new glow to her crescents.

“I’m sure we’ll all get along famously. Now, there’s one thing you must do.”

Isaac blinked. Not even up to speaking anymore. She held out both paws, tilting forward in some kind of reverence. Her voice dipped to a whisper.

“You must sleep,” she said.

He felt his eyes grow heavy.

“For him.”
 
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