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  1. #16
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    Default Re: Backgrounds

    RESUME FILE 1.3: SHE CLEANS UP NICELY


    Years ago in Celadon City, on one side of a dream…

    When Gela awoke, she saw the girl walking through a forest in the early summer with a friend. Everything around them was silent. She smiled. For once, it was a dream she did not mind having.

    The two girls trudged through the grass, only stopping their conversation to glance around and make sure they were still following the almost indistinct trail. “I can’t believe your mom comes on campouts. Mine doesn’t come anywhere near them. Security concerns and stuff.”

    “It is kind of strange. After years of more or less ignoring me she has tried to be really involved in my life in the last few months. I am not complaining, of course. It is nice to see her. I just do not really understand it.”

    “Oh, uh, she might have a reason, then. But it’s nice that she’s spending time with you! I get to talk to my mom maybe once a month. Yours is spending a weekend a month with you and then some. You should feel really glad.”

    The girl stopped in her tracks. “You keep bringing up her reason for doing it. What is it? Why will you not just tell me already?”

    “Look, you’re my friend and I want to tell you, but I can’t. I just kind of overheard our parents talking at my house and, um, just forget I said anything.”

    “Fine. Just do not bring it up if you do not want to talk about it.”

    The two resumed their walk in silence until they came across a large stream flowing through the woods. The girl smiled and leaned down beside it to release Drako into the water. The Magikarp flopped around briefly to test the water before swimming in more regular patterns in the stream. His trainer slipped her shoes and socks off to rest her feet in the water. Her friend waited for another minute until she realized that they were going nowhere. She crouched down on the water’s edge and stared at her broken reflection and the orange fish moving beneath the surface.

    “You really have a thing for water, don’t you?”

    “Uh-huh. I’m going to be a great water-type trainer and the Champion and maybe also a professional swimmer when I grow up. Water is important for that.”

    “I think my mom wants me to get into politics or something. She has me go to a lot of social events with her and gets me nice clothes. I like it. I don’t really know what this “politics” thing is, but it can’t be too bad.”

    The girl frowned. “My parents used to argue about it a lot. I do not really understand it either. Apparently our mothers are good at it.”

    The two gazed off across the stream, content to wonder about the mysteries of politics for another few minutes before a loud, boyish voice burst out from behind them.

    “Woah! That’s a big Magikarp! Get out of the way so I can catch it.”

    The girl turned around to face the newly arrived boy. “No, we will not. He is my Pokémon, thank you very much.”

    “Wait, you have a Pokémon? How? It isn’t legal until you’re ten. Are you ten?”

    “I am nine, but I think most adults have better things to do than punish a girl training a Magikarp a year early. It is not like I could possibly do any harm with it.”

    “Cool. I’m going to be nine in a week. Could you help me get a Pokémon?”

    “I do not have any Pokéballs on me right now. Sorry, I cannot help you.”

    “Come on! Surely you have something.”

    The girl exhaled in frustration. “No, I really do not. Please go away.”

    “Liar. I’ll take your shoes until you help me.”

    “Hey, that is—come back!” The girl watched as the boy picked up her shoes and ran off into the woods. She quickly withdrew Drako and ran after him barefoot. The grass was slick with dew and the boy was athletic with a head start. But the girl was not about to give in. For a half hour she chased the boy across the grass, weaving around trees and almost losing sight of him at times until the boy finally collapsed along the edge of a ravine.

    He laughed nervously and dangled the shoes over the edge. “You run well for a girl. But now you’re cornered. Give me a Pokéball or I’ll drop them.”

    “I told you I do not have one. Please give me back my shoes.”

    “Why?”

    “Because otherwise I will make you do something you do not want to.”

    “Like what?”

    “Like,” the girl flailed her arms beside her, “I do not know, like something!”

    “You are being really convincing here. Could a girl like you really—oof.” He flinched from a barefoot kick to the side and his grip momentarily slackened, sending the girl’s shoes tumbling down the ravine. “Great, what was that for?”

    “Get them.”

    “What?”

    “Get my shoes. You dropped them, now you should go and get them.”

    The boy nervously eyed the edge of the ravine. “Look, I don’t think I can do that.”

    “Fine. You will have to repay your debts, then.”

    “I only have three dollars. Will that be enough?”

    “No, but…” A mischievous glint came into the girl’s eyes. “Do you regularly camp here?”

    “My unit comes every month. Why do you care?”

    “Fine. You can work for me for a few hours a campout until you pay them off.”

    “That seems really unfair to me. You just lost a pair of shoes and you seem to run just fine without them.”

    The girl smirked. “Do you want another kick?”

    “No, no. Ugh. You win. I’ll be your dumb servant or whatever for the next few campouts. Whatever makes you happy.” He started to rise to his feet but stopped midway. “By the way, I never did get your name. My parents told me to always introduce myself and get the name of anyone I met, and if we’ll have to deal with each other, we should start with that. My name is Horatio Mars. And yours is?”

    Gela began to walk away as the girl gave her name and the world dimmed and faded. She already knew the rest.


    ---...---...---



    More recently in Celadon City, on the other side of a dream…

    The room was extravagantly decorated with the finest food and drink the region had to offer and filled with the most politically powerful men and women in the region. The past three Champions drank and shared stories in a corner as the chiefs of the intelligence agencies quietly sipped their drinks and exchanged quick remarks as they scanned the room. On stage, the present and future heads of the most powerful agency in the regional government chatted with the Prime Minister and the wealthiest magnate in the land. And sitting in a table with a front-row view of the entire event, Gela was bored out of her mind. Occasionally a magnate or DII executive who recognized her would come over to talk in hopes of getting a better connection to the family of the woman who would soon be wielding incredible political power. None were interested in genuine conversation. Some persisted in talking long after Gela made it clear she had no interest, but most were polite enough to stay away from her affairs. She made a few attempts to work on coding Fissure but her usually ponderous speed was hampered by people coming up to talk and her extreme exhaustion. It had been three days since she had slept in her usual bed and she had not deemed her situation important enough to use Stelo. That had side effects.

    Gela tried to stay awake since she was in the public eye at an event that her mother apparently cared about, but she could not prevent her vision from occasionally fading to black before she jolted awake in her chair and shifted to stave off a future blackout that inevitably came. After a few lapses Gela pulled out her tablet and began to type a little more. While she would have to wait to get a real keyboard and Kodo before any meaningful work could get done, a little manual input would not hurt. Only a few lines in, she was interrupted by an enthusiastic hug from behind that almost made her drop the device she was holding.

    “Gela! It’s so strange to actually see you dressed up for something!”

    “Victoria, my arm,” Gela seethed as quietly as possible while still getting the message across.

    “Oh! Oh my, I’m sorry. Did I hurt it?”

    “Yes, you hurt it. Just about any pressure hurts it. You will be forgiven, though if you sit down here right now and give me something to look busy doing and keep me awake.”

    “As you wish,” Victoria sat down in the seat next to her. “It’s better than sitting with my grandparents, anyway. Half of them are tycoons who insist that in two years I go to some fancy school to study business overseas, as if intelligence actually matters in amassing fortunes here, and the other half are military nuts who think I need to join the services now. It gets awkward quickly.”

    “I can imagine. My mom ran away when she was nine and my dad’s family does not have anything to do with me anymore, so I do not quite have that problem. I am perfectly fine listening to how your life sucks, though. Do tell me more.”

    “Someone’s a little grumpy today.”

    “My arm is throbbing, I have not had a proper night’s sleep in days, I wasted two hours getting prepared to come to this ordeal and I am bored out of my mind to boot. I think I can afford to be a little bitchy today.”

    At long last a man in a tuxedo walked up to the microphone on stage. “Hello. We will be starting the main program in two minutes. Please be seated so we may begin.”

    “Finally. You know what is going to happen? My mother barely told me anything,” Gela said.

    “I think my mom’s going to give a short history of the department and your mom. Then there will be an acceptance speech and the main party will begin.”

    Gela gave her a blank look. “You mean there is more of this ‘partying’ after the speech? Can they not keep these things simple?”

    “From someone who makes a living training Pokémon to do complicated things, you’re rather opposed to elegance and festival. Lighten up. It’ll be good for you.”

    “What are the chances they would card me if I asked for a drink?”

    “I thought alcohol messed with your sleep.”

    Gela sighed and leaned back in her chair. “It does. But my sleep schedule is already shot and I need a distraction.

    Before she could flag down a server, Mrs. Everett took the stage. “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Sharon Everett, Chairman of the Department of Internal Investigations. We are gathered here tonight to honor Suzanne Esprit, my successor in the post. Before we begin, allow me to give a brief history of the DII.”

    Gela sarcastically muttered under her breath, “Because the people gathered here definitely do not know about the DII. No chance at all.”

    “Look, it sounds nice. Let her give exposition if she wants.”

    Mrs. Everett continued, “The Department was founded a few years after the Second Revolution. At the time, gangs and corrupt officials controlled most of the government. Our region was little more than a mafia state and the League was in shambles due to inept leadership. Even most seats in the Parliament were filled on the whims of local crime syndicates. The Department of Internal Investigations was founded by then-Champion Rutherford to clean up the mess. We were given broad authority to make and enact policies based on general resolutions from the Parliament. Within two years the prices at Pokémarts and grocery stores had halved and their profits were up. The cost of running Pokémon Centers declined and quality improved, leading to more and more citizens of our region having access to basic supplies and health care. Our League became competitive once more. The parliament was elected by the people and our industries thrived under government supervision and occasional nationalization following the odd failure.

    “In our government, the Champion has responsibility for the League and our defense. The Parliament and the people determine the course we shall take. Corporations and independent segments of the bureaucracy thrive, but it is the Department of Internal Investigations that makes specific policies, and calls out the other branches when corruption occurs. I have spent thirty years of service in the Department and I do not regret a second of it. Tonight, an equally longtime veteran will be taking my place.

    "Suzanne Esprit first joined the Regional Intelligence Authority at the age of twelve as a junior clerk. Over the course of two decades she rose through the ranks to become a full agent and eventually Assistant Head of Operations in the Island District. At around this time, she generously accepted an offer to transition to the DII. In her eighteen years of service to our department, she has proven to be an exceptionally talented administrator and assistant. Please, give a round of applause for our newest Chairman, Suzanne Esprit!”

    “That was relatively short,” Gela whispered to Victoria.

    “You aren’t going to clap for your own—oh, sorry. That was stupid of me. What else could she say about the DII? It isn’t like she’s going to say much more than what they formally do. And almost everything else about your mom is classified or too touchy to discuss.”

    “I guess,” Gela relaxed in her chair as her mother walked onto the stage. “Hey, if I zone out and fall asleep, please do not wake me up.”

    “You know the press would have a field day if they caught you falling asleep during your mother’s speech. Do you really want to inflict that on her that early in her tenure.”

    “If the press are smart they will not bite the hand that could rip their head off.”

    “Fair enough. You could show a little more respect.”

    “I am here in heels. That is far more than I would do for anyone else on the planet.”

    Gela watched her mother speak for a full five minutes, occasionally shifting a little to ward off encroaching darkness. When Mrs. Esprit first referred to her ‘wonderful daughter', her wonderful daughter stopped fighting sleep.


    ---...---...---



    Years ago in Celadon City, on one side of a dream…

    Gela woke up in front of the pool at her old home once more. This time the girl before her had longer hair and was taller than most of her poolside dreams. She had traded her normal wetsuit for a more standard swimsuit her mother had purchased. Great. The middle of the dark days. Gela sat down on a seat in the deck. She had a hunch as to what the dream was going to show and wanted to observe it more closely than normal.

    The girl was in the water with her Magikarp as usual. It was neither particularly cold nor warm, suggesting either early fall or late spring. As usual the girl and her Pokémon were alone. Three minutes into the scene, the screen door opened and the girl’s mother stepped out. The sun had not yet begun to sink under the horizon. A few years ago the girl would have found her mother’s appearance before sundown strange, but now she hardly batted an eyelash.

    “Hello, mother.”

    “Hey.” The girl’s mother sat down in a seat next to Gela. “What have you been doing today?”

    “I read a chapter of my textbooks and worked on a technical machine for an hour before coming down here. And you?”

    “Same as always.” Her mother frowned for a moment while the girl was underwater before regaining her composure. “Are you excited for the campout next weekend? We’re going to a different camp than normal. This one is at the foothills of Mount Moon. Supposedly there are hills and caves.”

    “So, Horatio will not be there?”

    “No, but you can see him next month.”

    “Okay.” The girl resumed her aimless swim as she gathered the resolve to say what she wanted to. “I am going to Saffron tomorrow with Mr. Aldo to challenge the gym there. Sabrina is one of the harder leaders, but I have had almost two years to train since losing to the Celadon gym and she will not know my strategies as well. I think I can win. Can you go?”

    Her mother glanced at her watch for a second before replying. “I am sorry, dear, but I have work. I am sure you will put up a good fight.”

    “I see.” The girl looked down at the distorted image of her feet in the water while her mother rose up to go back inside.

    “We can talk more about the campout at dinner. I have a call I need to make for now. I love you.”

    As her mother left, the girl weakly whispered back an affirmative answer. Had she been in Gela’s position, she would have seen a deeply worried expression fall over her mother’s face as she looked talked to a servant who went off to find a directory shortly after their conversation. When he reached the section for major Saffron companies, he picked up the phone.


    ---...---...---



    Six weeks later on Cinnabar Island, on the other side of a dream…

    The dully colored Arcanine lifted its head as two humans walked in the door of its master’s office before it fell back into a resting position. The fire-type’s resting place had moved slightly from the last time Gela had been inside the room, but that was the only notable difference Gela could see in Conti’s office.

    “You didn’t have to come all the way out to Cinnabar to see me. I would have gladly met you in the Seafoam Islands or wherever else you wanted to meet.”

    “It is fine. I have some business I need to take care of on the island. It turns out that I am actually a professional volcano jumper with an interest in ancient mansions,” Gela replied.

    “I see. Please be seated, Ms. Esprit. Or The Batman or whatever other name it was you preferred. I take it you have one of the disks to give me now?”

    “No, I was really just here to chat. Talk about life problems with a billionaire I barely trust and is quite possibly a cliché action film villain.” After a moment of confused silence, she continued “Not quite. I actually have all three of them done. Just let me get them out.”

    As Gela shifted gear around in her backpack to pull out the disks, Conti’s mouth fell open. “It’s only been eight months. My technology experts predicted it would take you two years at the earliest. How did you get it done so quickly?”

    Gela put the disks on the table and blankly stared at him. “I thought you said you liked spy flicks? Have you not learned that the best programmers in industry will always dramatically underestimate the capabilities of a sarcastic teenager with a tablet?”

    Conti laughed as he ran his finger over the disks’ casing. “It is still very impressive to see this in real life. Outside of your, uh, film protagonist advantage, how did you do this so quickly?”

    “I already had one done when you asked and was half-way done with a second. Fissure, Flint’s move, was hardly any different from an Earthquake drive I made a while back. There were some modifications to be made and that took a few weeks, but I had a decent start. Not to mention that I highly doubt your ‘technology expert’ actually knows how technical machine coding works beyond the very basics. It really is not that hard if someone in the know taught you.”

    “I see. My researchers have already procured the technology to teach these moves to capable Pokémon, so I will not need that from you. The remaining funds will be transferred to an offshore account and—Zapdos, I can’t believe that I’m really holding these things. I expected it to take a decade to bring my dream to fruition. Now I could be Champion within a year.”

    “About that. Remember my disclaimer? The moves are powerful and can annihilate basically anything in one hit. Getting the one-hit is the problem. If your Pokémon are not powerful enough to go toe-to-toe with the best before having the moves, they will not make all of the difference. They really just tip close battles definitively to your side.”

    Conti smiled wryly. “Ms. Esprit, if I am willing to shell out ten million dollars on these devices I surely have the money to buy Pokémon capable of using them. That will hardly be a problem. If there is nothing else I should know, my secretary will contact you shortly to tell you how to get the remaining money.” The magnate extended his hand—his left one this time—to shake. Gela rose and returned the handshake before moving to the door and stopping.

    “Huh.”

    “What?”

    “No pistol shots to the back of the head? No orders to your Arcanine to burn me to a crisp? I have outlived my usefulness to you and you are just letting me go. Disappointing. I may have overestimated your competence as a villain.”

    “Gela, I come from a long line of noblemen from the Isles and hold a deep faith in the Storm Gods. My code of honor would forbid such tactics. Beyond that, I am a man of business. All I have in some cases is the sacred trust placed on a contract.”

    “Well, it looks like you might be an anti-villain then. I will need to reflect upon how this affects your chances of success.”

    “Or I might just be the protagonist. Have you considered this?”

    “Nope. You are far too rich and well-connected to actually be the hero of this kind of story.”

    Conti laughed as he rose to his feet. “Coming from the multi-millionaire daughter of the most powerful woman in the region, this is somewhat amusing.”

    Gela turned to face the noble before she left the room.

    “Did I ever claim to be the hero?”


    ---...---...---



    Years ago in Saffron City, on one side of a dream…

    Gela woke up to see the girl and the family butler, Mr. Aldo, walking the streets of the region’s largest city in the late afternoon until the girl stopped walking and slumped down on a park bench. The older man joined her a moment later.

    “That Hypno was really strong,” the girl stated.

    “Yes, it was quite the powerful specimen. But you knew you would have to face Pokémon like that on your badge quest.”

    “I was not expecting them this early. I was hoping for a Kadabra or a Slowpoke or something that would actually be injured when hit by a Double-Slap. Something I could actually stand a chance against.”

    “Well, maybe this isn’t for you. You’re a genius with technology and you like camping well enough. You could just do those things. They would let you play with your Pokémon, too.”

    The girl stared off into the crowds and watched the throngs of people coming and going who were entirely oblivious to her plight. “It was that Hypnosis. I was already losing, but then I started getting sleepy and I could not focus. Then I lost.”

    The older man blinked in surprise and turned to look at the girl. “You say that the Pokémon’s attack made you tired?”

    “Yes. Is that important?”

    The older man stood up immediately and began to walk at a brisk pace. “There’s supposed to be a population of Drowzee by Vermillion. If we hurry we could be there by nightfall when they come out. Who knows, we might even solve your problem.”

    Yes, it had solved one of her problems. She could sleep normally with the Hypno and the side-effects would not surface until years later. And in the ensuing weeks her dream of being Champion had slowly faded to nothing. It would be years before it was revived again by two successive victories. Then she tried to battle Sabrina again. And then several of her problems began.

    END FILE 1.3: SHE CLEANS UP NICELY
    PROCEED TO FILE 1.4: CURBSTOMP BATTLE


    Authors Notes:
    Last edited by Rediamond; 15th May 2014 at 05:50 PM.

  2. #17
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    Default Re: Backgrounds

    Some swearing in this chapter. It gets far worse next time and only goes down slightly for the last chapter of the arc. Just warning y’all in advance.

    OPEN FILE 1.4: CURBSTOMP BATTLE

    “When the bad guy wins, they win big.”
    -Genghis Khan


    Years ago in Saffron City, on one side of a dream…

    Gela joined the girl in a gym’s stands, looking down upon someone else’s challenge. The girl was shaking with anticipation for her own battle. Gela simply settled into her seat. She already knew how this ended.

    The referee raised her flags to signal the match was about to begin. “Welcome to today’s battle between leader Sabrina Fey of Saffron City and challenger Gage Carver of Vermillion, seeking his third badge. Each side may use two Pokémon with no substitutions permitted. Any questions? No? In that case, leader Sabrina may send out first.”

    “Mr. Mime. Go.”

    “Reef, let’s rock this!”

    A Wartortle and Mr. Mime appeared on the battlefield and stared each other down as they shifted on their feet, waiting for initial orders.

    “Reef, bite attack!”

    “You know what to do.”

    The Wartortle rushed forward, jaws open, only to hit an invisible wall between him and the opponent. He grimaced at the impact, but promptly began to froth at the mouth and shoot out a tremendous blast of fluid straight through the transparent wall before striking the Mr. Mime directly in the face.

    “Damage him,” Sabrina droned.

    “Withdraw attack, now.”

    The Mr. Mime’s eyes began to glow as his hands moved in a convoluted pattern that sent a ripple of psychic waves throughout the arena. Reef cried out in pain. Even lodged inside of his shell he could feel it. The mental assault seemed completely unhindered by physical barriers.

    “Ugh. Use the covering fire strategy we practiced yesterday,” Gage commanded. Sabrina frowned, but gave no verbal orders.

    Reef leaned his neck back before shooting another Hydro Pump towards his opponent. Mr. Mime quickly bent the light around him to shield himself from harm and counter the blow. Continuing the fruitless deluge, Reef took a few uneasy steps closer to the barrier. Mr. Mime’s eyes glowed slightly as a weaker wave of psychic energy radiated from the shield, harming the advancing Wartortle.

    At last Reef was merely inches away from the scintillating sphere of light. “Now!” Gage called. The Wartortle’s blast immediately stopped and it lunged straight through the shield and bit down into the Mr. Mime’s torso with as much power as it could muster, clamping down even harder as the Pokémon began to shoot out random confusion-inducing signals in a last effort to get Reef to release him. Eventually, though, the squirming grew less and less frequent and the Mr. Mime collapsed. Reef got to his feet, slightly worn but still in solid fighting condition.

    The referee dropped a flag to signal the match-up’s end. “Mr. Mime is unable to battle. This round goes to the challenger. Sabrina, please pick a new Pokémon.”

    “Slowbro, go,” the gym leader said as a large Pokémon materialized in front of her. If she seemed concerned, it did not show. “Start with Psychic.”

    “Toxic attack, Reef. Leave this to Sparker.”

    The girl smiled beside Gela. She and Gage had made that device specifically to beat Sabrina’s Slowbro to get their third badges. They had been planning to do a dual challenge, a match where two people underwent a special challenge to get a badge each, but Gela had wanted to earn her rematch all by herself. Now she could see if Toxic actually did the trick.

    Reef fired off a shot of polluted water at Slowbro that burned against the psychic-type’s skin. The injured area glowed purple, but the affected Pokémon barely seemed to notice it as he yawned and waved a paw at his opponent. The Wartortle was sent flying back into a wall. He looked pained by the attack, but he steadily got to his feet and rushed forward to clamp onto the Slowbro. The Pokémon’s nervous system was far too slow to react in time and the Bite attack landed without any interference. After three seconds, the Slowbro finally noticed the opponent and smacked him away with another Psychic before closing his eyes and focusing hard to sharpen his mind. When he felt another bite attack digging into his flank he slammed Reef away with a powerful mental blast boosted by the Amnesia. When he opened his eyes again, the Wartortle was unconscious on the edge of the arena.

    The referee raised her flag and looked at the Slowbro with a quizzical expression. The purple patch had expanded and was now visibly pulsing. It was certainly not an attack or symptom that normally came from the Squirtle line. “Wartortle is unable to battle. The leader is the winner of this match-up. Challenger, please send out your next Pokémon.”

    Gage pulled out another Pokéball and tossed it into the air a few times as he stalled, watching the purple splotch on Slowbro grow larger with every pulse. “Sparker, this shouldn't t take long. Finish this.”

    In a blast of static, a metallic being with three interconnected parts assembled in front of Gage. The Magneton’s eyes darted around the room as it took in its surroundings and made calculations for the battle. “Thunderbolt attack. Go!”

    Sabrina’s eyes glinted blue for the briefest of moments before Slowbro’s eyes turned completely white. The electric blast struck its target with almost perfect accuracy, causing the water-type’s muscles to seize up momentarily before a white laser shot out from the impact site and went sailing straight for Sparker. When the beam hit, the magnet’s body flashed pure white before returning to its normal color.

    “Disable, shoot. And now she’s going psychic,” Gage muttered to himself as he stared across the battlefield. Sabrina could theoretically strike at any time now that she was using psychic links, but her Pokémon was slow enough that it should telegraph most of its attacks. The purple spot was now about thirty square centimeters in size. “Alright, Screech attack!”

    The Magneton’s electric fields went crazy as a harsh static sound echoed across the room before it rapidly grinded its magnets together to amplify the harsh noise. Sabrina visibly recoiled and Slowbro moved to cover its ears. The Slowbro shot a weak pulse of water at Magneton that he easily dodged.

    “Thundershock attack the ground!”

    Sparker dipped to the gym floor and sent a weak shock through the trail of water the Water Gun had left on the ground. The voltage went straight to Slowbro who shook slightly from the weak attack before suddenly collapsing as the purple area faded back to its normal color. The referee looked on in silence for almost a full minute before raising a flag.

    “Slowbro is unable to battle. This match and the Soul Badge go to the challenger, Gage Carver, of Vermillion City.”

    Alarms began to ring throughout the room. Gela glanced at her watch and rose to her feet. It was not a terrible loss to stop there for the night. The best part was over, anyway. Now she needed to wake up.

    ---...---...---


    More recently in Vermillion City, on the other side of a dream…

    Gela rolled over to maneuver her good arm into a position that could turn the alarm off. Once it was she stretched a little on her cot and marveled that she could actually fall asleep in the back room of a dinky equipment shed. The higher-ups had wanted her to sleep in an actual cabin so she could, well, sleep, but she had objected to get the conditions most similar to the rest of the staff possible. On mornings like this she wondered why she could not be a more reasonable person.

    She got into her uniform in the damp and enclosed space, an ordeal that took far longer than she liked to admit. After finally getting her shirt and pants on, she scanned the room for her neckerchief. For a minute she panicked, not finding it in her admittedly messy space, but then she remembered leaving it in the staff lounge last night. She could pick up the neckerchief when she brushed her teeth and awkwardly ran her hand through her hair to claim she had done something with it. Half of the campers looked worse, anyway, and the staff would not expect anything nicer.

    When Gela finally walked into the lounge, the TV was on as usual. Unlike most of the time, though, it was now broadcasting a news panel picking apart some press conference. She cleared her throat and spoke as she entered. “Let me guess: publicly engineered confession. ‘I did it. I actively supported Titania in trying to install a Communist, Nazi, Cult-run, Anarchist state where sitcoms are required viewing for all?’ Or some new study showing that half of the people who live here are enemies of the state and we need to ramp up surveillance?”

    One of the junior staff members, probably a first year, turned around to face her. “Gela, your mom has some balls.”

    Gela exhaled slowly, irritated that some people on staff had not yet learned that bringing up her family around her was generally a no-no. Even in political discussions mentioning a certain name was dangerous to all but those she knew very well. “Yes, yes she does. It is a little known secret, but she is addicted to bowling. Loves it. Cannot stop. Down in the basement she has shoes, gloves, pins and, surprisingly, a whole pile of heavy projectiles lobbed down a wooden surface to knock over strangely shaped objects. You have figured it out. My mother does indeed have a prodigious supply of balls. What tipped you off?”

    Ignoring the added level of harshness to today’s delivery of sarcasm, the staff member who now had a very intelligent, creative, and high-ranking staff member plotting to ruin his day continued talking. “She just announced an investigation of the Assistant Chairman of Regional Security. She’s messing with the spy agencies, now. That isn’t a thing that the DII has ever done. This could be a real game changer. Has she talked to you about this? I mean, it must be fantastic having your mom be able to—“

    “Tell me, what is your name?”

    “James White. Why are you glaring at me like that? Did I do something wrong?”

    “James, what is your job on staff?”

    “I’m a lifeguard. Why? You just cover program stuff, right? What do I have to do with you?”

    Gela glanced around the room. It was entirely silent. Some of the younger staff members were confused, while many of the older ones were looking at James with a mixture of pity and disgust. “No. Theoretically not. But Sawyer and I go back a few years. In fact, I am quite sure he would not mind assigning a junior staff member to cleaning the showers for the entire day if I asked him. Which means, since you seem incapable of taking hints, that I would learn the proper scrubbing techniques very soon if I were you.” She saluted the rest of the staff and picked up her neckerchief. “Good day to all of you. Tonight’s staff meeting is going to be here tonight at ten-thirty. Campfire is still tomorrow at nine. We are changing the program slightly, so if you have a role in it please see me at some point during the day in the program office. If I am not there I will be down at the waterfront scaring the daylights out of campers with a Gyarados. Run to the screaming to find me.”

    She began to walk down the hall to the bathroom. Gage got up and walked quickly to match her pace. “Hey,” he said.

    “Look, if you are going to tell me I should have been easier on that kid, I will save you the time. Yes, I should have been. No, I do not care. There. Problem solved.”

    Gage smirked. “No, he had that coming. Sawyer really should do a better job teaching his staff what dragons not to poke. I wanted to talk about something else entirely.”

    “Politics?”

    “I can tell you about that later. It is interesting, but probably not something you want to deal with now. I actually wanted to talk about Conti. Did you see his match last night?”

    “No. I try to watch as little news as possible now that, well, you know. It wasn't big in the intranet, either, which has also gotten pretty annoying to read.”

    Gage nodded sympathetically. “I get it. How powerful were those moves you sold him? He one-shotted Blaine’s Magmar in the first five seconds. Yes, it was a first badge battle and probably not rigged, but still.” He shook his head in disbelief. “I don’t think there’s anything that the government can do to keep him from becoming Champion outside of outright killing him or blackmail.”

    “The moves have somewhere north of 400 BP. And beating the snot out of gym leaders was the entire point. If that match had been anywhere near fair, it would mean that I failed at my goal. Now, if you will excuse me I have an elaborate styling routine to perform in an area that you are restricted from entering. We can talk later.”

    ---...---...---


    As it turned out, “later” meant more than twelve hours later at the evening staff meeting. Gela glanced around the lounge as more and more staff members poured in. She estimated that approximately eighty percent of the water camp staff was now present with ten minutes to go until the meeting was scheduled to begin. All six of the minor directors were there. The General Director was still nowhere to be seen. Apparently her meeting with the adult staff was running late tonight.

    Gela glanced at the other minor directors standing beside her. “So, if Lenore does not show up, which one of us runs the meeting?” Four raised their hands. “Great. Maybe we could just collectively do it?”

    The problem was resolved when her boss came walking in the door to the lounge and made a beeline for the minor directors. “Salutations. According to the excessively lengthy debacle I was just liberated from, the day went swimmingly well. Onto actually relevant business, are any of you not running for my position tomorrow evening? Well, the people sufficiently worn down by father time? Sorry, Victoria.” Only Gage raised his hand, which earned him a stunned look from Gela. “Well, congratulations to you for preemptively escaping the excessive drudgery of my post. Now, if you will excuse me, I have a meeting to conduct.”

    Lenore made her way to the front of the room and called the staff to attention. She began to review the day’s events and complications as well as discussing the much-anticipated events of the next day. Gela already knew most of what was going to be said and tugged on Gage’s shoulder before moving her arm to motion towards the door. He got the hint and the two discreetly slipped outside. Once they were out of earshot, she turned to face him.

    “Really? You, of all people? Outside of maybe Victoria you probably have the biggest Type A complex on staff. What could have possibly swayed you not to run for the top job?”

    Gage stared off into the distant ocean for a few seconds before answering, every passing second grinding on Gela’s nerves. “I would have rather seen you win. Things are changing in a region not known for change, and whether or not you like it you’re going to be in the center. I figured it would be best if you had some distraction so you didn’t do anything monumentally stupid to call attention to yourself. That and you’re probably the most qualified for the job.”

    She stared at him for almost another full minute, mouth wide open. “You know, that may have literally been the dumbest reason for any decision I have ever heard. I reserve the right to make idiotic decisions whatever my obligations are and I happen to have a full-time job ten months of the year. If anything was going to distract me, it would be that. And seriously? I am the most qualified person on staff? All I even do here is write witty articles for a fake newspaper. You actually manage people.”

    “Look, I get that my reasoning doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I’m standing by it. I have other reasons as well. Personal ones. I think you of all people should be able to appreciate that.”

    She shrugged slightly. “I guess.”

    The door creaked open behind them and Sawyer stepped out into the warm July evening.

    “’Sup?” He nonchalantly observed a flock of Spearow perch on a nearby building before continuing. “You guys ready for tomorrow? Well, I guess not for you, brother. Not sure what’s drifting through your mind right now, but whatever. That’s on you. Sister, you ready to go head to head?”

    Gela flinched before replying. “You bet. I am pretty much a professional player of another region’s sport prepared to bash my head into yours repeatedly in a show of dominance until we both get concussions and contemplate suicide while the franchise owner vehemently denies responsibility. That is how ready I am to go head to head.”

    Sawyer laughed. “Good, good. Glad to see you’re ready to roll.” The wind picked up and the Spearow left their roost. “It’s supposed to storm tonight. A titan of a storm, too. And, uh, the moon is full. Sis, I know that means you probably won’t be sleeping. The three of us could hang in the lounge tonight, if that’s cool with you. If we have three people it doesn’t go against policy.”

    Gage nodded. “I could do that.”

    “That would be fine with me. I should probably let Drako out now. He enjoys storms. I have no idea why. Surely not because he loves the electricity flying through the air. Once I take care of that we can get our thunderstorm survival party started.”

    Indeed, they stayed up through the dark and stormy night, reflecting on the past and present. Thankfully, that night Gela only had to live through the latter.

    ---...---...---


    The walls of the program office, a mercifully air-conditioned building on the outskirts of Water Camp’s Vermillion facility, were lined with headlines and pictures. “BREAKING: CAMP WATER UNSUITABLY WET, STUDY SHOWS.” “RUSHED PROGRAM DIRECTOR ACCIDENTALLY GIVES GO-AHEAD FOR REENACTMENT OF STALINGRAD.” “DAILY WAVE VOTED MOST RELIABLE NEWS SOURCE IN WORLD.”

    Today, Gela was finishing work on yet another masterpiece of satiric camp news. She was scanning a shortlist of potential headlines to go with the day’s leading article. Her options included “THUNDERSTORM FRANTICALLY CALCULATING HOW FAR AWAY LIGHTNING IS,” to “GHOST OF TESLA CELBRATES NEW YEARS SIX MONTHS LATE.” The decision would be much easier to make if she had more than one assistant, who happened to be sick today, and if she had any sleep at all to work with. Sighing, she had Kodo pull up the rest of the day’s articles, most of which she had finished the day or night before. She glanced over them all once to ensure quality and give herself more time to reflect on the lightning article. Not finding inspiration, she pulled out the night’s campfire program and mentally checked that everything was good to go. Seeing that it was and still not finding any ideas, she rose from her chair.

    “Kodo, I am going on a walk. Revert to watch.” A flash on her wrist indicated that the command had been executed. After checking to make sure that the transition had occurred properly, she set off to the beach to meet up with the head lifeguard.

    It was a full two kilometers to the camp’s waterfront area. Normally, this would be nothing for her. But sleep-deprived she could feel her strength slipping with every step. Only seeing the cool waves lapping against the land finally revived her spirits enough to carry her all the way. She saw Sawyer wading ankle-deep in the water and staring out to sea. Even a layer of sand forming between her feet and sandals could not stop Gela from smiling as she approached her friend.

    “How are you feeling today? Ready to face the world with the alertness required by your post and today’s circumstances?”

    “Sis, I have no idea how you deal with this as often as you do. I can hardly stand now.”

    “You get used to it after a while. Or you find ways to fall asleep. Or you get a Pokémon who can do it for you when you are too lazy to make some lavender tea or meditate or mess around with pressure points. All are valid solutions.”

    Sawyer yawned and continued to stare out into the water. “I guess.”

    “What exactly are you looking for? I already withdrew Drako for the day, so you should not be getting any Gyarados surprises. At least, none from a trained Gyarados.”

    “I’ve been teaching a staff member to swim for the last few weeks. He’s good enough that he can do it now, but he still wants me to watch him.”

    “I see. That is, uh, awfully nice of you.”

    “It is possible to be friends with the people you lead. I’ve found it to work well.”

    “But that takes all the fun out of being a cool loner with a dark sense of humor.”

    After a few more waves lapped up, Sawyer stretched and yawned. “I don’t really want to abandon him, but I need to catch some Zs. Any chance you can watch him?”

    “Sawyer, I am not sure anyone has unironically said ‘catch some Zs’ since 1972. I get that you have the entire surfer thing going, but really?”

    “Is counting sheep still a good idiom?”

    “It is better. And I happen to be just as exhausted as you, if not more so, and while I can swim just fine I would personally be terrified if my lifeguard had a single working arm. That might not be the best option.”

    “Fine. But I really don’t think I would be very helpful right now if he did slip up,” Sawyer replied.

    Gela dug her feet into the wet sand and prepared to sit down in the water. “Then we can be not very effective, together.” All thoughts of titling storm-related articles slipped from her mind.

    ---...---...---


    Two hours would pass before she stumbled back into her office to print the day’s run (the Tesla article won on a coin flip) and take as long of a nap as she could justify.

    ---...---...---


    Years ago in Saffron City, on one side of a dream…

    Gela found herself in the same stands as her last dream, only seconds after it had ended. The referee was scanning over her papers. She called out the name of the next challenger. The girl’s name.

    She stood and looked around in confusion as she made her way to the arena floor. Normally, another level of challenge would be taken next to give Sabrina’s third badge team time to heal. For some reason this was not the case now. She nervously took her place in the challenger’s spot and glanced into the stands to look at her friend, who simply shrugged. He had no more idea what was going on.

    “Today’s challenger is going for her third badge. This will be a one-on-one battle with no substitutions allowed. The challenger will send out her Pokémon first, followed by the leader. Seeing the experience of both sides and the previous third badge challenge, no questions will be taken now. Challenger, release your first Pokémon.”

    The girl was quaking in her shoes, wondering what to do. Her plan had been instantly dashed and she had no idea what Sabrina could use to counter her choice. That was not supposed to happen. The leader always sent out first. “Uh, um, go.” She weakly tossed one of the two Pokéballs she had intended to use in the fight, not particularly caring which one of her Pokémon came out.

    “Fair! Clefairy!” She looked down at Estrea as she scanned the room for an opponent. There was supposed to be a Mr. Mime or Slowbro before her. Instead, there was only a wholly disinterested gym leader.

    “Psy. Finish this match.”

    Almost instantly, a large humanoid Pokémon burst from its Pokéball and brandished two massive spoons. It scanned the field for mental activity and quickly located the Clefairy. Seeing Estrea, it sent out a pulse of powerful psychic energy that picked up the fairy and slammed her hard against the back wall. As she fell back down, the Alakazam picked her up again and slammed her higher up. Once she recoiled it continued to whack her into the wall three times before suddenly launching her through the air to the wall behind Sabrina. Before the girl could even order, her Pokémon collapsed to the ground in a heap.

    “Clefairy is unable to battle. The challenger is out of usable Pokémon. This marks a win for the gym leader and the challenger’s second loss of her second challenge. One more loss will invalidate her ability to challenge gyms for a full year. Our next challenger has seven badges and hails from…”

    The girl collapsed onto the ground, fighting back tears. Sabrina cast her a look of disgust before quickly focusing on the new opponent walking down the staircase. Gela stood to leave. Such a short dream. Such a dream-crushing moment.

    TO BE CONTINUED...
    Last edited by Rediamond; 15th May 2014 at 05:53 PM.

  3. #18
    Less cute in person Beth Pavell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backgrounds

    I'm about halfway through 1.3, and one point is jumping out at me - your chapters are too long for your plot.

    I'll explain what I mean. So far the story is a lot of separate plot strands, often told in quite short scenes, but because the story isn't told chronologically, the reader has to pay close attention to what's going on in order for the information in each scene to be entertaining. When you couple that with your mysterious style when it comes to establishing chronology, and the length of each individual chapter, it's just too much to take in (This is coming from a guy who followed Inception with no trouble, mind).

    It does also give the impression that the story isn't moving forward. I stopped and thought about the plot, and it is moving forward, but it's hard to see that as I read
    The Long Walk
    For Joshua Cook, it's a long walk away from his dull life to the Pokémon League. But does he really want to be the very best? A coming-of-age story of adventure, friendship and growing up in the world of Pokémon.


    Pavell's Scribbledegook Week XI - Pokémon Taxonomy: Squirtle Line

  4. #19
    Into Darkness Peering Rediamond's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backgrounds

    RESUME FILE 1.4: CURBSTOMP BATTLE

    More recently in Vermillion City, on the other side of a dream…

    A man with a short white beard walked to the front of the dining hall and flashed a salute, sending the room into silence. “Good evening, staff. My name is Mr. Winter. I am the regional director of the Camping organization’s facilities, including the various outposts of Water Camp. Tonight you will be electing the next year’s General Director. This vote holds special significance in our organization, as this is the only camp that holds elections for the role. The directors of Moon and Viridian Camps are appointed by the national council and adult leadership of the camps. Running tonight are four young men and women who will be between seventeen and nineteen years old next year. They are Sawyer Ericson, Price Farthing, Todd Nowack, and Gela Esprit. You are likely familiar with all of them, as they are some of the most senior leaders in the course. We are handing ballots out now to all Vermillion campus staff present. The other staff members who could not be here tonight have voted remotely. If there is no majority winner at the end of the first round, one candidate will be eliminated until one takes a simple majority. When you are done voting, pass your ballot to the center aisle.

    Winter stepped back and watched as pens met paper across the room. Almost everyone, except for a few disappointed equipment staff who could not vote for their boss, had written a name in a matter of seconds. All votes were in within two minutes. Lenore, Winter, and a handful of adult staff members went to the back of the room to help count. Gela glanced the room. A few whispered conversations had broken out among people who were pretty sure that the person next to them had voted for the same person. A few glanced up at the candidates, but they were seated so close together it was hard to tell who they were looking at.

    After only three minutes of vote counting, a curiously small amount of time for a room this large, Winter came back to the lectern. Gela’s lips curled into a fraction of a smile in anticipation. She expected to make it into the next round. She was not quite so sure who would be eliminated.

    “Attention, please. After a fierce competition, I am pleased to announce that for the first time since 1981 an election has been decided on the first round. Please welcome your new program director, Gela Esprit!”

    The next hour or so was a blur of congratulations, hand-shaking and social interaction. If she was not experiencing one of the biggest positive rushes of her life, Gela would have been unnerved by the attention or irritated by the staff members without the brain cells to extend their left hands. Finally, exhaustion from the previous night settled in and the future General Director slipped from the dining hall to head back to her shed. The moon was waxing and half-empty, casting enough light that no supplements were needed for her to see the path.

    A third of the way to her destination, she heard footsteps running after her. She absentmindedly reached to Stelo’s Pokéball before turning to see Victoria running after her. “Heh. Didn’t think you had the nerve to cheat that blatantly. Congratulations on finally gaining some confidence.”

    “Victoria, I have genuinely no idea what you are talking about and do not honestly care.”

    “Really, now? No casual notes from your mother stressing how much she wanted her daughter to win? Or even just telling Winter that you had to go to a family appointment after elections. Nothing like that?”

    “We both know that I would never plan something like that with my mom for multiple reasons.”

    “Strange. You sure?”

    “Positive.”

    “Absolutely?

    “Do I look like a yellow-clad cyclist here? I promise I did not use performance enhancing last names. Or blood doping. Actually, maybe the latter. Articuno knows what the doctors did to my arm.”

    Victoria stopped walking and Gela went on, glad for the annoyance’s end. “Well, you know that no election in a decade has ended in a first round winner. And no program director has won in about as long. You aren’t exactly great at making friends. Even if you didn’t authorize or order it, you don’t seriously believe you won cleanly, right? That vote was tallied in half the time as last year’s with a larger staff. Even if all of Gage’s people voted for you and a third of Sawyer’s, there is no way you could have pulled a first round win. None. Not cleanly.”

    Gela stopped in her tracks and turned around to face her. “Then I will have to tell Winter to hold a fair vote.”

    “I doubt there’s ever been a fair vote. You know the adults are way too controlling to ever let someone they didn’t like get in power. You’re in now. Best enjoy your ill-gotten gains. See you!”

    She thought about calling back as the younger staff member walked away. That was not her. She had won legitimately for once in her life and was now going to occupy her rightful throne.

    But she did not call back. On some level, she knew that Victoria might be right. The events of the day had been far too improbable to have occurred without interference. That should have been obvious. It was obvious. Everyone would figure it out. She was a fraud. An extension of her mother with no strength of her own.

    The full weight of a week of near sleepless nights crashed down on her as she stumbled to her shed, shut and locked the door, and changed into her clothes for the night. Her mind was numb. She had won. She could not have lost. It had nothing to do with her at all. Why should she care? What did it really mean?

    She rested on her back and stared up at a metal ceiling. Darkness moved in on the edges of her vision but she fought it off. She knew the dreams that would come. She could see them in the brief moments she blinked or nodded off before jerking awake after a mere moment asleep. Poolside conversations with her father. Trite maxims on independence and self-worth. Reminders to use her mind and ideas to get ahead. The foundation of a worldview, for better or worse. Betrayed. She had betrayed it. She had betrayed him.

    Exhaustion, fear, and guilt swam before her eyes throughout the night until her alarm blared beside her, signaling that a whole new ordeal was about to begin.

    ---...---...---


    Slightly more recently, in the same nightmare…

    The darkness still swam at the edge of her vision from two consecutive sleepless nights as she walked to the water surface. Sawyer was standing shin-deep in the water, looking out at the same stupid kid as yesterday. She plopped down in the water next to him, not particularly caring nor noticing that she was not wearing a swimsuit.

    The head lifeguard glanced over at her. “You look awful.”

    “Great way to start a conversation with the ladies. Explains the massive amount of female attention you get.”

    He ignored the remark. “Did you sleep last night?”

    “Does it look like I slept last night?”

    A massive wave brushed by. Neither flinched. “Sis, if you don’t want to talk about it, that’s cool with me, but I’m always up for lending an ear.”

    “Victoria thinks the election was rigged.”

    “So does Gage. So do I, for what it’s worth. No sweat, though. Always goes to the biggest butt-kisser on staff. First time I can remember that the adults wanted to give it to kiss butt. You won. What’s not cool about that?”

    “I don’t know, maybe that it’s painfully obvious I didn’t deserve it. The next year will be staff saying, ‘That’s Gela, she’s the daughter of the DII Chairman,’ rather than “That’s Gela, the girl who deserved the job.’ That’s what isn’t cool about this debacle. I could’ve been literally anyone in the right age range with the desire to win, doesn’t matter if I was a total asshole or a serial killer—yes, I know that I’m pretty much already an asshole—I would get the job because of my last name. So if I’m getting ahead because of that, there’s nothing to show the rest of staff that I’m not just some dumb blonde rich girl who’s mommy shoved them through. That’s the problem.”

    “I don’t think anyone who’s ever met you for more than a sec has thought that. Just chill out. Take a breath. Feel the waves. It’ll be fine.”

    “Chilling, breathing, and wave feeling completed. Still feeling like shit. Any new prescriptions, doc?”

    “Nope. If you’re going to beat yourself to pieces over this, do it. I’ll be here to listen.”

    More waves lapsed. Gela was too tired to get into a serious argument with Sawyer. She hated doing it, too. “Is there anything I could do,” she asked.

    “Do about what?”

    “Do to prove that I’m the best? That I earned the job? That type of thing. I can’t win a vote to show that, so I might as well win it in some fair way. It’ll get me to stop moping about it.”

    Sawyer frowned as he watched a distinct shape pop up on the horizon. “Yours?”

    “Huh?”

    “That Gyarados out there. Is it yours?”

    “Probably. I’m heading out to Seafoam today. Triassic’s not eating again. Glad to see someone’s got bigger psychological issues than I do.”

    “Any chance I could come? I’ve got a few break days to play with and I want to see my bro.”

    “Sure. Drako’s big enough.”

    The two watched the sea monster swim in. Half of the participants were now cowering on the beach or as far away in the water as possible. The lifeguard glanced at Gela. She flashed him a thumbs up and he went back to looking indifferent.

    “You know, if you really wanted to go out and prove that you’re the very best—“

    “Like no one ever was.”

    “I didn’t know you watched cartoons.”

    “I never liked doing it. But there isn’t a lot of programming an eight year-old can watch at three in the morning.”

    “Makes sense. What I was going to say is that none of the other assistant directors have eight badges. Gage and I got to seven before losing. You could always go out and do that. Wouldn’t even have to fight the League. Just get the badges. And, yes, I know that’s not going to be easy. Well, Conti’s doing it with your tech. That you built. With your own skills. And I can’t believe he’s half as smart as you are. Might be worth a try.” He braced himself as Drako came painfully close. He had never liked the species. “Or, you could do something else. I don’t know. Just throwing ideas out there.”

    Gela idly ran her hand through the water as her Gyarados leered at some nearby participants who dared to get too close. “Can you get the first few days off after camp ends? I have the show Saturday. I have some business in Celadon after that. Then I might need to drop by a certain ninja’s domain and show him the firepower of nerd-fu.”

    Sawyer nervously approached the Gyarados, pawing his back to let him know he was getting on. “As you wish, miss director.”

    ---...---...---


    Years ago in the Seafoam Islands, on one side of a dream…

    Gela hated this dream, but compared to her second match against Sabrina and the poolside micro-dreams of the night before, it was tolerable. She was standing on an ice floe in one of the larger tanks in the Seafoam Marine Park. The girl was nowhere to be seen yet. She was still in the passageways behind the area, heading off to the Golduck cage to work on a technical machine. There was strangely little security back there, if she remembered correctly. That should have tipped her off that something was not right.

    Only a solitary Pokémon occupied the tank she was in. It was a young Lapras, barely a few months old. He plodded along uncertainly in the water, craning his neck to the sky and mournfully calling every two minutes to figure out where the rest of his small pod had gone to. It was tragic, really. They would not be coming.

    A side door opened and three men in long coats marked with the DII logo entered. Gela saw holsters tucked into their belts, fully loaded pistols inside. One brandished a net, while another carried a small can of Pokémon food. “Here, girl. Come on. Just a little closer. There now, be a good girl. Yes, come to—now!”

    His accomplice tossed his net onto the small Pokémon, ensnaring it almost immediately. The water-type thrashed against it, but only succeeded in lacerating his neck against the mesh net. They began dragging the now shrieking Pokémon closer to them, almost getting it onto land before a door creaked open behind Gela. She turned to watch the girl enter. The girl’s arm was awkwardly slung in her uniform. She was not used to either her limb’s current state or the new clothing and it showed.

    The girl saw the three men on the other side of the tank and the baby Lapras they had ensnared, but little else in the lighting. “Who, exactly, are you and how did you get in here?”

    The tallest man straightened and pulled a badge out of his pocket. “Agents with the Department of Internal Investigation. We are on an official mission at the moment and require this Lapras. Everything has been sorted out with the park ownership, ma’am. You may go about your business.”

    “If you have the park’s approval, why are you doing this at night and without a Pokéball? And what mission could you possibly need a baby Pokémon for? It only knows Water Gun.”

    “Miss, trust us. Everything is fine with this mission. Just leave before something happens.”

    The girl reached down to her belt for Drako’s Pokéball. It had been a bad month for her opinion of the DII and she happened to like that Lapras. Then she saw a glint of metal on the agent’s belt and quickly moved her hand away from her Pokéball. She may have liked the Lapras, but she was not about to get shot for it. However much she hated to do it, diplomacy was needed.

    “What for? I have level eight clearance. That should cover it.”

    The agent laughed. “Look, good one. But we don’t just give—“

    “There are one thousand three-hundred and eighty seven operative agents in the DII, but a ton more unofficial subcontractors—you call them subcontractors, anyway—that do most of the dirty work. The main building has seven floors and five-hundred and six offices, representing the executive order that founded the agency. Almost all of your computers run Linux, easily the greatest OS widely available. The current Seafoam Chief is Alexander Wycliffe, who has held the post for eight years. The current RIA regional director is Thomas Pyrope—I could go on, if I needed to. Give more specific information. Operation Harper’s Shadow comes to mind.”

    The three looked between each other and then back at the girl. “How ‘bout that? I guess you do have some authority, after all. It’s just a standard benefactor reward op. Some rich kid wanted a Lapras. Those things don’t exactly grow on trees, ya know. Finally tracked it down to this place and the zoo in Fuchsia. The zoo only had one and wasn’t keen on giving him up. This place had more and a baby, which we figured would probably be easier for them to store in their bathtub or something. Your managers approved, but didn’t want to deal with the stain of legitimately transferring it to us. Likes to pretend he’s a goddam priest in public. That’s why we’re here, ok? Surely someone with your kind of clearance gets it.”

    The Lapras howled in pain once more, a dramatic plea with power amplified by his beautiful voice. “I know that all too well. But you cannot just take a Lapras to a random kid. They are highly intelligent and sensitive creatures that grow to be quite large. Any sort of abuse can mess one up for life and within two years that one will be bigger than me. Probably capable of doing some serious damage if it got angry. And he is really, really needy. Lapras are social Pokémon that require need constant interaction or other stimulation to be happy. It could easily die in slightly improper conditions.”

    “Yes, but we’re kind of dealing with the child of a really powerful individual. I don’t know who, before you ask. It wasn’t important to the mission. Just that they really should not be messed with. Not a whole lot of room to negotiate if someone like that tells the DII their kid wants a Lapras.”

    The girl bit her lip before relaxing. She would need to swallow her pride and might hate herself for what she did, but it was the only way to help the increasingly desperate water-type. “If you told them that Esprit told you to change plans, they would probably take it if you presented a reasonable alternative. And you would not technically be lying.”

    The agent eyed her for a moment before blinking in sudden realization. “Well, I’ll be… should have noticed the eyes. Just like hers. And that strange obsession with doing things right. Don’t recall her sayin’ her daughter was a crip, though. But she didn’t really talk about ya much at all. You wouldn’t a been really old then. Well, then, Miss Esprit, what should we do?”

    “There is a breeding group of Seel and Dewgong out by my mother’s old retreat. You probably know where that is. They are much more playful Pokémon and they can deal with being left alone for a while. They also do better in captivity and are more trusting of humans. The line also eats less and do not grow to ridiculous sizes. Sure, it is not ideal and hunting them there is technically illegal, but the population is large enough there and I doubt you care much about the law. You can get him season tickets to this place or Zoo Fuchsia. I hear Silph’s new aquarium is also trying to get their hands on one or two if he lives in that area. That is how I would do it.” She shrugged before wincing in pain. It would be another few months before she mastered the art of shrugging one shoulder.

    Miraculously, her appeal seemed to work. The three agents quietly discussed the matter amongst themselves for a moment before bending down to cut the Lapras free and left her alone with the Pokémon. The girl slipped into the water and slowly kicked her way to it, awkwardly holding herself up above the surface with one arm. Once at the other ledge, she pulled herself out with monumental difficulty and slowly scooted towards the baby. The Lapras reflexively swam further out into the pool with a cry of warning, disturbed by a new human coming to capture it. The girl smiled and released her Clefairy. She diverted her attention entirely from the baby Lapras and just stroked the pink Pokémon for a while. The fairy Pokémon may have noticed the other Pokémon nearby, but she did not seem to pay him any mind.

    A minute later, the Lapras’ curiosity finally won out. It slowly moved towards the girl, nervously staying a meter or so away. The girl reached into her backpack and pulled out a super potion. She suspected that would be enough to start the healing process on a Pokémon that young. When it finally got close enough to her, she reached out to snag its neck and held it firmly in place. It took her a moment to realize that the position did not leave her with a hand to spray the area with. Thankfully, the Clefairy figured out what to do and helped finish the job. The cuts on the young Pokémon’s neck slowly faded as the Pokémon stopped struggling and the girl released it. In awe at its rejuvenation, the Lapras rushed over to the girl and hummed a song of gratitude. She stayed there with him for the rest of the night, until another group of humans arrived the next morning and startled the baby back into the center of the pool.

    Gela stood up and left long before that. She could deal with her sleepless nights staying on the other side of the dream.


    END FILE 1.4: CURBSTOMP BATTLE
    PROCEED TO FILE 1.5: PRECISION F-STRIKE


    A/N 2.5's description is up in the Table of Contents. I will be transferring most Author's Notes to the blog as a way of rewarding people who are current with reading with the ability to see them without archive delving.
    Last edited by Rediamond; 15th May 2014 at 05:53 PM.

  5. #20
    Less cute in person Beth Pavell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backgrounds

    I think perhaps that if you were to do a reboot you need to drill down to the essential theme of each chapter. Thematically, each chapter will seem more satisfying if it revolves around a particular plot point. You might want to consider biting the bullet and outright stating the date and place at the start of your scenes - during File 1:1 it wasn't such a problem, but having read what I have I think it will increasingly become a problem. During the dream-style sequences you've got enough difficulties to cope with in establishing Gela's perspective while watching herself. On top of that, there's time and place problems to solve ... every time you write a dream sequence
    The Long Walk
    For Joshua Cook, it's a long walk away from his dull life to the Pokémon League. But does he really want to be the very best? A coming-of-age story of adventure, friendship and growing up in the world of Pokémon.


    Pavell's Scribbledegook Week XI - Pokémon Taxonomy: Squirtle Line

  6. #21
    Into Darkness Peering Rediamond's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backgrounds

    Well, I restructured everything into smaller chapters. Which has the downside of making none of the replies in this thread make sense anymore and forcing anyone who was reading it to lose their place. So be it. I will quickly be updating the Table of Contents with the actual locations of chapters. Since the next two were originally part of a Super Chapter Five, though, and are not nearly as long as the other ones they will get posted in their full form.

    EDIT: Table of Contents updated. I will not be posting a new chapter this week to give people some time to catch up.
    Last edited by Rediamond; 15th May 2014 at 06:03 PM.

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    As the title might imply, this is the most profane chapter by far in the story. It is also by far the darkest.

    OPEN FILE 1.5: PRECISION F-STRIKE

    “****."
    -Michelangelo

    ---…---…---


    Years ago in Celadon City, on one side of a dream…

    Gela felt the first drops of a long overdue rainstorm fall on her skin. The girl in front of her frowned as she looked to the sky before focusing back upon the iron gate in her way. No guards greeted her and her mother had not arranged a ride to pick her up from the bus station. The entire home was oddly quiet and no light shone through the windows. Only the soft drizzle hitting the ground and the dim light that penetrated the thick clouds met her.

    The girl walked up to the front door, the icy rage she expected fading to confusion and apprehension. She pulled on the handle. Locked. A quick turn of a key fixed that. The lights were off inside so she turned them on, half-expecting a phantom or skeleton to grab hold of her the moment she did. But nothing happened except the mundane. Light now showed a hallway that looked more or less the same as it always did, except now it was strangely empty and a very fine layer of dust had collected on the normally immaculate pictures on display in the entrance. The girl was now unnerved. Her mother had not mentioned anything unusual happening. Was she here? Had she abandoned the place and moved on without telling her? Had she been rejected?

    She traversed the eerie hallway in total silence, her hand subconsciously reaching for her Pokéballs the entire way. When she was two-thirds of the way to a kitchen she was stopped by a low, feral growling sounding from a strangely dark segment of the path ahead where the lights had inexplicably failed. The girl stepped back just as a skeletal figure that came up to her sternum stepped out of the blackness, grinding his long and sharp claws against each other rhythmically as he stared the girl down. Scrape. Scrape. Scrape.

    The girl relaxed as she stared into the Kabutops’ emotionless eyes, the gateways to the soul of a predator, in an attempt to release the panic she had momentarily gone through. She straightened herself as the fossil Pokémon eyed her warily before motioning for her to follow and leading her straight into the blackness. For the rest of the way they continued, the girl staggering along from memory while listening to the scuttle of bony limbs somewhere in front of her. At long last they emerged into the dining area, marked by the sound of water splattering against the glass panes leading out to the pool. Her mother sat in the middle of the room pecking away on her laptop. Her Aerodactyl was roosting on an improvised perch made of a pull-up bar and Machamp stood beside her. The fighting-type narrowed his eyes at the intruder before he saw who it was.

    Kabutops gave a low and feral growl, causing her mother to instinctively look up in panic before seeing her daughter.

    “Oh, hello, Gela. Sorry, I did not see you there. How long ago did you arrive?”

    Called by the importance of the dream and the utterance of her name, Gela’s world spun and her perspective shifted. When the girl replied, she could feel her own throat moving. “Fine. Where is everyone else?” Her face contorted into a look of worry.

    Gela’s mother rose and waved her hand before flicking on the lights. Bright white suddenly filled the room and Aerodactyl hissed on his perch before falling back to sleep. “I gave the help a vacation. I wanted to spend some time alone with you when you got back.”

    “Then why were the lights off? Could you not have turned them on to avoid scaring me to death?”

    Her mother laughed. “Sorry, I forgot you were—I forgot to turn them on. That’s all.”

    “Oh,” the words sank deep into Gela, their meaning coming with the same impact now that the girl had felt then. “I see.” She took a seat opposite her mother. “I got some badges when I was away.” Now her time had arrived. For now she would ignore the strange circumstances surrounding their encounter.

    “I heard as much. I saw the tapes. You did a good job. Third badge fights won’t be—“

    “Mom, they will never be easy if you know I am fighting. Let’s skip the bullshit. Don’t sugarcoat it anymore; I’m fourteen and I can bloody well take the truth. Why are you so intent on crushing my dreams?”

    Her mother cringed. It had been years since Gela had sworn in her presence or used contractions. And if she was anything like her father, the swearing meant she was mad. The contractions meant she was willing to kill. “Look, honey, it was too protect—“

    “Wow. Not even denying that you were behind it. Mother of the year right here.”

    “No, I’m not denying it now. It’s the truth, and you’re right, you deserve the truth. You are an incredible young lady and a fantastic trainer. But, you are also the daughter of a very highly ranked government official whom half the region is trying to gain leverage on. If you were going to be Champion, you would have to travel with minimal protection. Do you know how dangerous that would be for you? I hoped that I could get you to give up the dream on your own and replace it with something that you could actually do safely. It had nothing to do with you. Just that you’re my daughter, and that comes with consequences for both of us. I’m sorry; I should have told you much sooner.”

    Gela blinked as part of her fury dissolved. She had not expected honesty, logic, and apology. It made it much harder for her to paint the woman in front of her as a villain. “I wish you’d told me earlier and let me make the choice for myself. You can’t just make my decisions for me.”

    “I know. I’m sorry. I can make you some tea, if it would cheer you up.” She rose and approached the counter, pulling out a small supply of the plant she kept growing on the shelves for her daughter.

    “I have slept adequately for the last few nights. New moon and all.” Her mother visibly relaxed upon hearing ‘I have’ unabbreviated.

    “Well, that’s good. I can still make some, anyway. I need to get some sleep later tonight as well.”

    She made two cups in total silence that was only occasionally broken by her Aerodactyl raising itself up to look around and readjust. She handed one to her daughter. Gela took a sip before speaking.

    “There was some dust on the photographs in the entryway. How long have you been here alone? Why would you send everyone away that long for my sake alone. You said that I deserve the truth now; could you please give it to me?”

    Her mother sighed before sitting down. “Mr. Aldo passed away two weeks ago. I wanted to give them adequate time to emotionally recover before returning to the place that they had worked with him in for so long. I also needed some time, myself,” she added as she ran her hand through her hair. “I hadn’t told you, had I? I’m sorry for that. I know that you were close to him.”

    Gela’s mouth dropped in shock and she almost dropped her tea. “Yes, we were close. Extremely close. He was like a second—third parent to me. Couldn’t you have told me about that earlier?”

    “I was going to, but I didn’t want to ruin your time at camp. There was no reason to make you suffer when you could be having fun.”

    She stood up in a daze and began to head towards the glass doors. “I need some time alone. Please don’t bother me.” For now the dream faded out. But when she was that attached to the girl, the two inevitably reconnected soon after.

    ---…---…---

    More recently in the Seafoam Islands, on the other side of a dream…

    Gela stopped rowing and glanced at her watch. Only two minutes remained until the show was scheduled to start. A distant roar came from the other side of the white curtain. Fog had rolled in throughout her side and leaked out around the curtain’s edges, which surely prompted some confusion among audience members. It also made it really annoying to see her timepiece, but that was of secondary concern. Down below, Drako was swimming along the bottom of the pool in a coil as he prepared for his performance. For a being obsessed with rage and destruction, he was surprisingly interested in doing tricks that did not involve literally burning the house down.

    The lights dimmed and a disembodied voice came over the PA. “Hello, and welcome to the Seafoam Islands Marine Park. Today we continue our Trainers Series of shows with Gela Esprit. We ask that you refrain from flash photography so long as the lights remain dimmed in respect of her Pokémon. We will be beginning shortly, but before we begin we would like to thank our sponsors at Vulcan Commodities, proudly supplying the world with stones and fuel since 1970. Please sit back, enjoy the show, and welcome today’s trainer, Gela Esprit!”

    The obligatory polite applause came through the curtain. From the sound of it, today’s crowd was a little larger than normal. It was a Saturday in late July, so that made sense. That, and a few political junkies had probably come to see the DII Chairman’s daughter.

    The lights dimmed even further and a slow and creepy soundtrack echoed through the room. Fans began to blow a cold draft across the entire stadium as the sound effects changed to reflect the beginnings of a storm. A spotlight shined down on Gela’s rowboat in the middle of the pool. Drako took his cue and slowly moved to the surface. He poked his head above the water and shot a thunderbolt up at lightning rod mounted on the ceiling. He submerged and repeated his stunt twice more in different areas, rising slightly out of the water each time to cast a better silhouette for those behind the curtain. Gela closed her eyes and listened as the water behind her rippled. She felt droplets of liquid fall on her neck as a wet monster loomed above her, coming into the spotlight. Several children, and even adults, screamed in the audience as the Gyarados moved into the spotlight directly above the rowboat. Drako gave a particularly ear-splitting roar and blasted out a massive pulse of flames at the curtain. They rapidly spread, sending it up in a cloud of fire within seconds. After that, Drako ripped the boat straight out of the water in his teeth and flipped it, sending Gela falling down to the surface below before her Pokémon created a smaller wave that eased her into the water. That wave quickly grew larger and swamped the guests in the front row of the stadium.

    The music shifted to heavy metal as Gyarados continued to swim around Gela, producing waves and blasting off pulses of fire and sheets of ice as needed through the fog. His trainer occasionally called attacks, but he had most of it down. Except for the last move. As she turned to order another blizzard, Gela noticed that Drako was not behind her. She glanced down just in time to see the sea monster erupt directly beneath her, snatching her up in its jaws and lifting her up as he peaked above the water. Almost all of the grandstands erupted in screaming and there was a clamor of people rising in the audience. Gela merely sighed and stroked her Pokémon’s gums before admonishing him.

    “I thought we were not doing that one. It scares too many people.”

    Gyarados growled softly in a rare gesture of apology before slackening his already loose grip to let her trainer get out of his jaws and onto his back before he slowly lowered himself into the water and swam over to the stage to let her off. Gela bowed a little to signify she was fine and suggest that everything had been planned.

    At that the screaming stopped and a frenzy of clapping began as the lights came on and the main ceiling retracted to let more light in and clear out the fog. She raised her hand after a minute to control the chaos and reign things back in. “That, folks, is why trainers normally do not get in the pool with Gyarados or Tentacruel here at the park. There is a very serious risk to playing with Pokémon that powerful as even in accidental lapses they can easily kill a human being. Drako and I have been partners for almost all of our lives and he has learned that I am very breakable. As such, even when he performs moves like the Bite attack he just demonstrated, he is being far gentler than he seems to be. When he attacks opponents in battle, well, not so much.”

    “Drako here prefers hunting in the wild to being fed Pokémon food, which is really helpful because I do not think I could afford to feed him otherwise.” Nervous laughter spread through the crowd as Drako rose and bared his teeth to them. “Wild Gyarados are very seldom observed due to their rarity and temperament, but seafloor cameras and washed up carcasses suggest that they primarily hunt the largest prey they can find. Which is surprising because I personally thought massive snakes with twenty-centimeter fangs would be going after plankton. The other Gyarados at the park is primarily fed tuna and occasionally Pokémon carcasses that wash up on the park’s beaches. She is more aggressive and was wild-caught, making her the only Gyarados to be caught in that state and survive for a substantial amount of time in captivity.”

    Drako growled fiercely from the center of the pool. “What he means to say is that she is a far inferior creature, so we should probably shift the conversation back to him.” More nervous laughter. Pretty much the best she could hope for when making jokes about a Pokémon that had attacked his trainer a few minutes ago. “Not a lot is known of Gyarados. A few trainers have worked with them, most raised from Magikarp, such as Lance in this region, but they are still largely unstudied. This is largely because no academic is overeager to place large pointy metal instruments into a living Gyarados’ mouth to take readings. Something about that situation does not seem to be overwhelmingly attractive.

    “What we have learned has more or less confirmed the obvious. Gyarados are really powerful and violent creatures that will snap at almost anything that disturbs them with lethal force. They are among the ocean’s alpha predators and a central figure in the mythologies of many regions. In particular, the religion of the Sevii Islands, which I practice, holds them as powerful storm spirits that exact punishment on behalf of the Winds. In the epic poetry of this region, they often appeared to destroy cities or test heroes or otherwise bring about the will of either the pantheon or The Voice, depending on the age of the poem. And in modern cinematography, they are monsters that come up to challenge radioactive crocodiles in the center of Saffron. This just might be the most accurate depiction.

    “In short, Gyarados are pretty much the most awesome Pokémon out there and I would hold your kids back from the edge of the water and keep them from tapping the glass while Drako is in the pool.”

    The Gyarados took his cue and descended to the depths of the tank, resuming his laps near the bottom. Gela then unleashed her next two Pokémon. “These two are named Stelo and Triassic. Both are male. I have trained Stelo up from a wild Drowzee I caught when I was twelve after a nasty gym loss to Sabrina. I have worked with Triassic since I arrived at the park right before I turned fifteen.”

    Triassic splashed the water, sending a wave over the tank wall and into the front row, as well as lapping up against his trainer on stage. He then began to fire off series of Ice Beams into the spray, creating a quick snowstorm over the pool. Stelo moved his pendulum and the snow began to rise into a spire of wintery air. The two continued to create and manipulate their July snowstorm as their trainer talked.

    “Stelo, like most Hypno, relies on eating the dreams of humans and some species of Pokémon. He feeds on mine most of the time, although from time to time he will find another Pokémon or human to feed upon. The actual process is not painful, although over a long enough time it might change the nature of dreams to suit the predator’s preferences. Stelo happens to be addicted to history documentaries and biopics, which means that I get to watch terrible television for eight hours a day.” Now the audience laughed a little more heartily with Drako out of sight.

    “Hypno are often portrayed as kidnappers of children and bringers of terrible nightmares. While there may have be cases where Hypno did steal a human for their own uses, none have been confirmed. In fact, most wild Hypno seldom feed from the same creature for more than a week, even when given a perfect opportunity. Hypno would also never willingly inflict nightmares on their victims as happy dreams are part of a balanced and nutritious breakfast for REM-sucking Pokémon. However, this has not stopped these lies from spreading amongst humanity, leading to many attempts to hunt down and kill all Drowzee and their evolutions.

    “And speaking of hunting, Lapras were originally one of the most iconic symbols of the region, this area in particular, but they were hunted nearly to extinction for their horn and shell which folk religions of the area have long held to grant immortality. Kind of sucks to be a magical unicorn fish. Very few remain in the wild; instead, almost the entire population today lives in parks like these. Triassic here was the first Lapras to be bred in stationary captivity in the region. This is because Lapras are surprisingly fickle creatures that will not breed unless conditions are absolutely perfect for them, which usually requires ideal water temperatures, food supply, living space, and unlimited television access. Only facilities near the southern currents flowing through these islands have the proper climate, and only this one has enough space devoted to their Lapras population to encourage reproduction. Currently, Triassic spends most of his time in the Lapras section of the Local Species area, although he does occasionally wander into the adjacent pools. You can meet the rest of his family there to talk about the latest escapades of time-traveling doctors, serial killers, and meth dealers.”

    A slow and mournful song rose from Triassic’s throat, accompanied by soft violin music played over the speakers. “As he is demonstrating now, Lapras have a call that is believed to be inspiration for the mythical sirens. When their numbers were far higher, these songs were commonly heard along the region’s southern coast. I don’t have a pun here. I probably should.”

    Gela then slowly inhaled and exhaled. “But apparently they want trainers to talk about themselves and not the show’s real stars for a little while so here that goes. My name is Gela Esprit. Yes, I am from that Esprit family. No, I do not grant interviews on anything but comic books or whether Pi or pie is greater. I grew up in Celadon City and lived there until I was almost fifteen, at which point I came out here for a change of pace and took a job at the park. I also stopped my formal studies at that point as I had a job that I liked, but I continue to read in the little free time I have. At some point in there I earned a Silver Feather in Camping, but that is a long story I would rather not get into.”

    She looked up at the sky, trying to think of other things to say. “Oh, right. I also enjoy the color indigo, The Divine Comedy, and long walks on the beach at sunset with the possible exception of all of those things. But Dante’s pretty cool to be honest, so I might like that one after all. And, um, I am probably supposed to say something else here but that is pretty much everything that needs set about me. Not a whole lot going on, surprisingly. Kind of a boring person. So let’s get back to Pokémon, shall we? I have one last trick for you all tonight before I start to take questions.”

    She tossed a ball into the air and Stelo suspended it with a psychic field that caused it to levitate four meters above the water. As it hovered, Triassic shot a rapidly pulsing beam of light into it, creating a multi-colored and disorienting spectacle that shone throughout the entire audience. For a full minute it stood in place, adjusting its hue as Lapras changed the power of his Confuse Ray attack. Then, Stelo launched it just a little higher before letting it go. It rose higher for a second after, peaking as it hovered in place for just a second. Then the water beneath it was torn asunder as Drako burst out, leaping until his entire body was out of the water before clasping his jaws firmly around the orb and falling back in himself with a colossal splash to a roar of applause.

    “Well, that is the team. I hope you enjoyed the show tonight. I will be out front with my Pokémon answering questions. Whether you stay or not, I hope you enjoy the rest of your visit here at the Seafoam Islands Marine Park.”

    People came and went for almost a half-hour to ask about the details of her life (she gave none) and her rare Pokémon (she gave lots). But slowly and surely the crowd thinned until only one woman remained. She had blonde hair and green eyes and wore a black suit and came from completely out of the blue.

    ---…---…---

    Years ago in Celadon City, on one side of a dream…

    The rain had ceased by the time Gela arrived back at the pool, washing away most of her tears. She never cried for long on the outside. The girl had her feet in the water while her Magikarp swam around, but she was entirely unconcerned with him. She stared off into the receding storm clouds and the light of the moon barely piercing through them. “Strange, is it not? Shutting herself in like that. She did that for two weeks after dad left. But that was her husband. Was she really that close with Mr. Aldo?” Drako’s scales brushed against her legs in the water. She had no idea what that answer meant. It was hard holding a conversation with a Pokémon that had exactly one way of replying.

    The moon finally broke through the clouds. It was full. “How did he die, anyway? Mom did not say. Surely he had an obituary.” She pulled out her tablet and typed ‘Ahab Aldo Death’ into the search engine. Gela cringed in her seat and closed her eyes as she watched the results flood back through the years and dreams, every bit as clear and shocking as they were to the girl a few meters away. Death from three gunshot wounds to the head while walking into the office of The Commander, the largest opposition newspaper in the region. He had been shot from two meters away. The gunman bent down to steal the binder before running away. The street had been filled with people. The shooter was not caught. No suspects had been identified. The DII, security agencies, police departments, and league had not called for an investigation. The head of the Department of Internal Investigations made a statement implicating Aldo as a mole distributing classified information to terrorist groups. Her third-in-command had made remarks claiming that she never knew that her own butler was capable of working to undermine her rule. The state news blared headlines and held panels to talk about the remarks of Mrs. Everett and Esprit. All supportive, of course. A picture of a mob in front of the Aldo residence. Fire rising into the Celadon sky. Dead, burned corpses being carried out. Children’s corpses. No arrests. No investigations. No statements. Nothing.

    Just what the girl felt for a minute as the clouds once again covered the moon. And then the void was filled. Filled five times over. Filled by shock and anger and sadness and hatred and rage. She clenched both fists for one of the last times in her life and rose from the water, leaving behind a confused Magikarp in the pool and his Pokéball on a nearby table.

    Gela sighed and drifted back into sleep. There was nothing the girl could have done to save Mr. Aldo. There was nothing Gela could have done to save the girl. No reason to, either. Gela had already paid her penance.

    ---…---…---

    More recently in Celadon City, on the other side of a dream…

    The kitchen had been almost entirely restored in the last few years. The same designs had been used, along with the same appliances, the same color, and even the same type of glass on the panes leading out to a more or less identical pool with an incredibly similar balcony over it. It was as if her mother was trying to construct the same old home, as if nothing about it had ever changed. Gela found this exceptionally amusing.

    “You had a good show Saturday,” her mother said, trying to make a nicer conversation than the last few that had occurred between the two in her home.

    Gela leaned back and shrugged, ignoring the pain it brought to her arm. “I saw you did something big recently. I never really looked into it, though. Generally best not to learn more about that kind of thing.”

    “Firing Zaros? Please, that was hardly significant. His boss actually requested I do it. We think there’s going to be some sort of a populist upheaval reasonably soon. Maybe even a coup. The tycoons in a few industries are funding shadowy groups and potentially importing weapons of mass destruction. We can fight them off, of course. We have the force of law and the military. But, it would help if their following was minimized. If firing and investigating officers who want to retire casts the illusion of progressiveness, that’s what we’ll do.”

    Gela sighed. “So, you are still playing the same game, then? Even at the highest office you could reach you do not have the guts to do anything to actually fix the problems the region faces.”

    “Gela, can we not talk about my job? You know perfectly well why I put up with it. It would be nice if for once you considered my motivations before hating me.”

    “I do not hate you. I just, well, it is complicated. Can we leave it there?”

    “Fine.” Four seconds. “Why exactly did you ask to come up here? I mean, you’re welcome to stay for as long as you want, but I thought you were more comfortable living in the islands.”

    “Right, that,” Gela said as she shifted nervously. “I wanted to ask your permission to do something, and then proceed whatever your reply was. Our usual routine.” Her mother frowned, but waved her hand to signal to go on. “I was hoping that you could relax the entire policy about not letting me get badges. As you have probably learned or will shortly, I one two in the last few months even with all of your dumb hurdles. I will eventually find a way to get the rest of them if you keep cheating, but to do so I would probably need to go on a foot journey to focus exclusively on training. Even with my current strength, I think it would take me another few months just to ensure I could beat the remaining leaders without losing. And I really doubt you want me on the road.”

    “Gela, we’ve talked about this before. I don’t want you anywhere near capable of getting involved in the political world. By now you of all people should know that nothing good comes out of it. However much I hate to stop you, I cannot let you become Champion or risk you getting close. I would have failed you as a mother.”

    “I do not even want to be Champion anymore. Not after,” she gestured around the room, “you know. I need the badges for part of Camp. Once I get all eight, I will be done and never step foot on the Indigo Plateau. I could probably do it within a weak, or at least a month. But I would need to be extremely certain that you are going to help because of the entire ‘one loss away from getting my current three badges voided’ issue. It would kind of suck if you set me up to crush me without telling me again, which I am pretty sure we both agreed not to do in the future.”

    “We did, but I still cannot risk it. I’m sorry.”

    Gela rose to her feet and headed towards the staircase. “Well, then, I will be in the pool talking strategy with Drako. You should probably call Koga and tell him the detox team is coming on the 3:00 bus Wednesday. You can come to watch, if you want.”

    ---…---…---

    Years ago in Celadon City, on one side of a dream…

    The hallways were still dark and empty when Gela came back to them, but the girl no longer cared to stop and reflect upon them. Her mother and Pokémon were gone to the kitchen, almost certainly retreated to her bedroom. The lights would not turn on in the hallway through it. She kept going, running through them by memory and the scant light shining in through occasional windows. No Pokémon came to stop her this time. That was good for their safety.

    At last she arrived at a set of oak doors and threw them open to enter into her mother’s bedroom. She was sitting on the chair, checking her e-mail for the last time of the day on a laptop. Her head flew up and her hand moved to her belt to send out yet another Pokémon as Aerodactyl snapped to attention and Machamp spread his arms wide. All three relaxed when they saw a familiar face in the doorway. They tensed again when they saw the expression on the face.

    “What the hell did you do to him?” the girl seethed. The words echoed in the silence.

    “To whom?”

    “You know damn well who I’m talking about.”

    Her mother blinked a few times before a grim look of recognition overcame her countenance. “How did you find out?”

    “You weren’t very subtle about it. I can read the news.”

    “Right. Sometimes I forget that you aren’t a little girl anymore.”

    “I thought we just had a conversation about you telling me about things. Did that not apply to, I don’t know, killing the man who pretty much raised me?” She was not yelling yet, but her emotions were rising in her voice. Neither were accustomed to hearing that.

    “Gela, I did not order that. It was the higher-ups and the spy agencies. He was about to leak some very sensitive information to the press—“

    “If you’re going to try and rationalize it, please stop before I think even less of you.”

    Stern green eyes met their increasingly angry look-alikes. “Fine, it was wrong and I cannot morally justify it. But I had no choice. I tried to warn him. I pleaded with him not to do it. He did anyway. He knew what was going to happen and he knew that I could do nothing to stop it. In fact, he even left a note saying as much.” She pulled a letter out of her pocket and tossed it to her daughter’s feet. “Read it if you want.”

    She ignored the envelope. “Couldn’t stop it? Mom, the people in the news think you’re the second most powerful woman in the entire damn region. You couldn’t stop your own butler from getting killed?”

    “Power means little when your opponents have leverage. That is one of the first lessons of politics in this country.”

    “And what kind of leverage would make you tolerate this kind of shit?”

    “You. That’s what kind of leverage would make me tolerate this shit.” The girl’s anger broke abruptly and Mrs. Esprit’s shoulders slouched as she looked down at her feet, refusing to make eye contact anymore.

    A moment of silence echoed across the room as Aerodactyl and Machamp relaxed slightly as the tension eased. “Me? They threatened to kill me?” the girl whispered, pronouncing each word slowly and deliberately, unable to believe the implications even though in some corner of her mind it made sense.

    “No, not this time. But they made it clear enough last time this happened that the meaning was clear enough.”

    The girl blinked twice. “Last time? You mean that this isn’t the first time you let this kind of thing happen? When could that even—“ her face froze in twisted horror as she began to realize where the conversation was going. “You… you didn’t…”

    “Your father never approved of what I was doing. I didn’t think he took it as seriously as he did at the time. Not until some strange documents came to my attention. It was probably deliberate that they did, the powers that be warning me to keep things under control. For a while I did. He calmed down. And then I got another memo. He was going to… they were…” She broke into tears for a moment, her daughter’s emotions too twisted for her to interrupt. “I had a time. A place. A picture of the man who would do the shooting. It was a sadistic, horrible invitation. I got it at ten after seven. It was going to happen at seven-thirty at a café your father always ate his dinners at on Thursdays. Where he gave his confidants their information. I tried texting him the entire way there, but his phone was off. Or he ignored it. I don’t know. I tell myself it was the former. I finally got there five minutes before it was going to happen. The street was crowded. He was sitting in a table just inside. I had my gun drawn. I knew who was going to shoot. As I scanned the crowd, I finally got a text. I looked at it. It was from Mrs. Everett. A picture. You and Victoria playing in her basement with the day’s newspaper nearby…” She paused to breathe deeply, holding in a sigh. “She didn’t say anything else. She didn’t need to. As I looked up, the man was right beside me. Two meters tops. I-I could’ve killed him. I actually had my hand on the holster. But…” Then she collapsed into hysterics, all clarity lost through the sobs.

    The girl’s face remained equally incomprehensible as emotions she was not accustomed to consciously dealing with battled for control. “And you just let him die?” Her mother’s fit didn’t stop. “And you just let him die?” This time there was more force, her face quickly shifting to one dominant response to the situation.

    “Ge-I didn’t-I didn’t know what to do. I thought that it wasn’t your fault and he had-“

    “Stop. Justifying. It.” Now the seething was louder and Aerodactyl made a short ascent before a death glare shut it down. “You could have saved him and you let him die. Is this what you’re telling me?”

    “Honey, there were probably oth-other shooters and they had you and,” her monologue collapsed again as emotional distress overcame her.

    “No. Don’t tell me that shit. Did you know there were others? Did you know for a fact Mrs. Everett still had me? Could you have not just ordered the man to—“

    “I don’t know. I didn’t know! There probably were and—“

    “Fuck you!” The shout carried throughout the house as Gela slammed her foot down. Her entire frame quivered with anger as both hands balled into trembling fists. Her mother partially snapped out of her fit in shock and fear. “Fuck you.”




    Outside there was a flash that could have been lightning and a roar that could have been thunder.




    How much better that would have been.


    END FILE 1.5: PRECISION F-STRIKE
    PROCEED TO FILE 1.6: AN ARM AND A LEG

  8. #23
    Less cute in person Beth Pavell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backgrounds

    A comment on the new formatting, real quick - looks like the two-part Files are an easier sort of length to take in in one session
    The Long Walk
    For Joshua Cook, it's a long walk away from his dull life to the Pokémon League. But does he really want to be the very best? A coming-of-age story of adventure, friendship and growing up in the world of Pokémon.


    Pavell's Scribbledegook Week XI - Pokémon Taxonomy: Squirtle Line

  9. #24
    Into Darkness Peering Rediamond's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backgrounds

    Probably. I do all of my fanfiction reading in archive binging after a story is a fair ways in, so I really have never paid much attention to chapter length in the past. I'm working on it now.

    And with that said, I'm almost done archive binging Pokemon Academy, so I should be able to review Da Vinci Smile soon.

  10. #25
    Into Darkness Peering Rediamond's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backgrounds

    OPEN FILE 1.6: AN ARM AND A LEG

    “Some days you’re the bird, some days you’re the pigeon, and some days you get all your limbs cut off and your torso set on fire by your old mentor. Those days are by far the worst.”
    -Anakin Skywalker

    ---...---...---


    Years ago in Celadon City, on one side of a dream…

    It was daylight now at the pool and the girl was far younger. In fact, it was one of the oldest scenes Gela had seen in a dream. Beyond this point things were more of a blurry, distorted mess than normal. The girl approached the pool, rubbing a shiny new Pokéball between her hands, catching it as it almost slipped out. She was practically shaking.

    “Alright, come on out, Drako! Welcome to your new home.” After a brief and immaculately beautiful flash, the most interesting fish in the world emerged in the pool. He flopped at the surface thrice before twisting in the water to get his bearings.

    “Karp?” it shouted, before flailing around and clearing the water’s surface to get a better view of its surroundings. On one jump it noticed the girl at the edge of the pool. “Karp. Karp!” It angrily swam in the water nearest her, sticking his head out to continue his protesting calls.

    “Hi, buddy. My name is—hey!” The splash was annoying and unexpected. “Stop. I am your trainer now. You cannot do that.”

    “Karp! Karp! Karp!” The fish’s bark continued as it angrily called out.

    “Come on! What did I even do to you?”

    The Magikarp continued to thrash vainly, moving its fins in exasperation and trying to communicate with the girl, never quite realizing she did not speak Magikarp.

    “Ugh, we will try this again later. Drako, ret—“ Before she could finish her statement, the fish flailed out of the water and grabbed the Pokéball in his teeth, carrying it with him to the pool before he dropped the orb and let it sink. “Fine, we will do this your way.” The girl sighed and jumped into the water, ignoring the Magikarp both as he fled in terror and then as he angrily rushed into her side and legs to keep her away from his prison device. She got it nonetheless and removed herself from the pool as quickly as possible to stop the blows. Once outside, she walked a few meters away onto the concrete so that the Magikarp could not simply grab the ball again.

    “Alright now—“ Thwack! A red blur shot out of the pool and struck her arm, causing her to cringe and reflexively drop the ball as the Magikarp hit her limb with remarkable force. It stung, but she grit her teeth and reached down past the helplessly flopping Pokémon to get the Pokéball lying on the dry ground. “Return.” The fish finally disappeared in a flash of light and the girl sighed. At least the ordeal was over.

    Gela rolled her eyes and leaned back in her chair. How little she knew.

    ---...---...---



    More recently in Fuchsia City, on the other side of a dream…

    “Alright, seeing how you are a ninja with an excuse to play dirty I highly doubt this will be a standard two against two battle for a fourth badge. So, what is it going to be?”

    Gela gazed out across the battlefield. It was an indoor swamp, filled with reeds, slick land, and murky water. The smell was repulsive, but there was something familiar about it she could not quite place. The filth almost smelled nice, somehow.

    “Accusing gym leaders of intending to cheat is a very grave violation of etiquette,” the referee barked. “This is your only warning. However, this match will indeed be a special case.”

    “Of course it is. It always is,” Gela muttered to herself. She glanced at Sawyer in the stands. He merely shrugged.

    The referee ignored her mumblings. “This will be a full battle between Leader Koga of Fuchsia City and Gela Esprit of the Seafoam Islands. Up to six Pokémon may be used per side. Substitutions are allowed for the challenger, but not for the gym leader. Is this clear?”

    “Understood.”

    Koga said nothing. The referee continued speaking. “The challenger will send out first.”

    Great. “Triassic, get ready.” She flicked the Lapras’ Pokéball and watched as the ice-type appeared in front of her.

    “Strange. I checked your profile yesterday. No Lapras. Are you, perhaps, the cheater, Miss Esprit?”

    “I bought him yesterday at midnight. We worked together for years before that, though. Incidentally, do you know how much a Lapras costs these days? Even with a nearly perfect Omanyte to trade, he was still obnoxiously expensive. If he was anywhere near as good as the price tag suggests, he would crush you in a matter of seconds. And let me assure you, I got a bargain.”

    “Oh, I have no doubts of that. But can it match our cunning?” Koga smirked. Gela cringed. She had learned that smirking gym leaders usually meant an impending beatdown. “Suijin, go!”

    Light hit the swamp and tentacles rose out, feeling their way to the surface before a blue bell poked through. The Tentacruel then lifted itself out higher, revealing its angry glare and massive beak. Gela’s eyes widened for a moment before she exhaled to release the shock. Tentacruel, along with Gyardos, were the most dangerous Pokémon in the region’s oceans. It seemed as if Koga wanted a battle of sea monsters.

    “Wrap, Suijin.”

    The poison-type submerged entirely in the murky water and quickly became invisible. Triassic hummed nervously, not used to disgusting water or battle with Pokémon other than pod members. He recoiled as he felt the water around him move. Gela kept an eye on the situation, trying to predict where the Tentacruel struck from. Triassic hated physical contact. This was going to be very uncomfortable.

    A slew of tentacles shot up right in front of Triassic, ensnaring the creature’s neck and dragging it down under. The nervous hum turned into a screech of terror and Gela swore under her breath. “Do not panic! Wait until you have an opening and then use your close-range move.”

    Triassic seemed to comprehend and stopped screaming, merely shaking as more tentacles emerged from the water and red flotation sacks slowly rose out. Then, in a moment of unexpected courage, the Lapras gave a short battle cry and sent energy into its horn. Tentacruel slackened its grip slightly as the Lapras’ horn began to glow pure white before the ice-type plunged it straight into his opponent’s bell. Tentacruel hissed in agony as the attack connected and sent a cascade of energy straight into its body as the impact site began to swell and shake. It felt like every centimeter of its body was being torn apart slowly by the external force and that its exterior would dissolve into the muck. At long last the Lapras withdrew his horn and the poison-type sunk to the bottom before rising back to the surface, tentacles limp and eyes shut.

    The referee almost dropped a flag into the mud in shock, but managed to catch himself and raise it. “Tentacruel is unable to battle. This match goes to Lapras and the challenger. Leader Koga, please send out your next Pokémon.”

    “So Lord Cinnabar isn’t the only one running around with ridiculous attacks these days. So be it. Hachiman, Earthquake.”

    Almost immediately after Koga’s ball was cast, a purple bipedal monster landed on the ground with a thud that echoed across the arena and caused the water’s surface to rock violently. Toxins and soil were uprooted in a meter-high wave that swamped Lapras and the platform Gela was standing on. Now she really did not envy her Lapras as he swam in the muck. Just the small amount of it squishing inside her sandals was enough to disgust her.

    The waves continued to rock the water as the Nidoking jumped up with more frequency. It became increasingly clear that even if he could launch an attack, there was no way that Triassic would connect in the rough conditions. Two months prior Gela would have withdrawn the Lapras to escape a hopeless situation. Now she had another option.

    “Ride the waves forward. Hit it with your own seismic move,” she whispered. The Lapras picked the order up with his extraordinary hearing, but she doubted Koga would. Triassic began to swim forward, gradually and carefully cresting each wave until he came two meters from the edge of the pond. Bracing himself, he rushed over the last two waves and slammed his front flippers down on the surface, causing a small crack to emerge. Hachiman stopped for a moment to watch and was soon enveloped by the tremor, shaking wildly as the small crack grew gradually wider and fiercer. The Nidoking shook so violently he became little more than a purple blur before he flew back three meters from the attack’s climax, knocked out before he hit the ground.

    Koga did not wait for the referee to formally pronounce the round over. “Humph. Fujin, Smokescreen!” Almost as soon as the red light faded, inky black smoke spread over the entire arena, obscuring Gela’s view until she could no longer see her opponent and could barely make out Triassic’s outline. “Sludge!”

    A glob slammed into the Lapras, causing it to wail and blindly fire out a few blasts of ice over the water, never hitting a thing as more and more sludge piled on him. Gela tried to think of a response, but nothing came. Her mind was moving slower with every minute and her focus was slipping for some inexplicable reason. Every time an idea came, it slipped back into an encroaching mental darkness as her eyes fluttered and her body felt increasingly heavy. She bit her lip hard to regain concentration for a moment and ordered a Surf. The move sent more sludge into her sandals and woke her up some because of it, but the toxic blasts continued to descend upon Triassic. After a particularly nasty hit, the water-type swam right up to her to show his trainer a purple gash on his neck. It was long and thin, clearly a remainder from his battle with Tentacruel.

    Now aware of her Pokémon’s condition and unable to think of a suitable alternative in the dense fog encroaching on her thinking, Gela raised Triassic’s Pokéball and clicked the button.

    “I forfeit the round,” she called out after a moment when it struck her that neither the referee nor Koga could probably see the move.

    “Lapras has been withdrawn. Koga and Weezing are the winner of this round. Gela, send out a new Pokémon.”

    So it was a Weezing. She suspected as much, but had not been able to tell for sure through the smokescreen.

    “Stelo, go,” she called, releasing the Hypno onto the field. He gave her a backwards glance.

    Madame, you are incredibly tired. Should you be battling in this condition?

    “I am fine, thank you, although you might have to think on your own a little bit here. You can sense Weezing in the fog, right?”

    The Hypno turned back to face the battlefield. That I can do. His mental signatures are clearly visible, although attempts to lull him with visual stimuli are unlikely to be effective.

    “Good, good, whatever that means,” she muttered.

    Abruptly Stelo raised his arm and a cry of pain erupted from within the smokescreen. A shot of sludge came out and struck him, but the psychic-type ignored it and continued to hold his hand high while increasingly thick smoke streamed into the arena and small blobs of poison came at him.

    “You are fine, right? I could try and think of a way to clear the fog if it was a problem.”

    Madame, I regularly employ toxic fumes in my arsenal. These hardly bother me at all and you are in no condition to—case in point.
    The Hypno sighed to the extent that its respiratory system allowed and cast a quick illusion of itself to block incoming toxins. The copy stood completely unmoving as he hid behind it, continuing to fire off Psychic attacks at the obnoxiously bulky Weezing without fear of taking status damage.

    ---...---...---


    In time, where two sides converge…

    There had been a roar like thunder and a flash like lightning outside. The climax had begun.
    Her mother froze and turned to the window, all three of her Pokémon visibly disturbed by the event outside of it. Gela was less concerned, dismissing it as a mere sign of the storm. She turned around to leave the room, unwilling to face her mother any longer. “I’m leaving. I’ll be somewhere, anywhere else, if you need me.” Suzanne Esprit recovered from her shock and ran towards her daughter, motioning for her Machamp to grab Gela. The Pokémon complied and weathered the girl’s fists and kicks as she protested the show of force. “You can’t keep me here forever,” she snapped as she slammed her elbow back onto the Machamp’s solid muscle body. “Whatever you try to do. I will get out eventually.”

    “Gela, this really isn’t the time. We can talk about this in a few minutes, but now I really need you down at the pool—you did leave Magikarp in the pool, correct—to deal with a slightly bigger problem.”

    Gela stopped struggling and stared wide-eyed at her mother. “You think it got hit by lightning?” she whispered.

    “What are you talking about?”

    “The pool. Did that lightning hit it and kill—“

    “Gela, that wasn’t lightning. If it was I will get you whatever Pokémon you want and we can both move on with our lives.”

    “You can’t just replace—what was that?” A tremendous impact shook the dark halls as another roar echoed down them.

    “Our problem,” her mother replied.

    And Gela did indeed have a problem.

    “Explosion!” Koga shouted through the veil. She groggily reopened her eyes just in time to see a purple shadow burst into flames two meters away, unleashing a torrent of heat, light, and sound. When the blast died down, Gela opened her eyes again and found that her drowsiness had been blown away by the explosion. Stelo still stood before her, slightly worn but not seriously harmed.

    “Substitute up?”

    Yes, Madame. It was even a damaged one. Our opponent is apparently as blind as we are in these conditions.

    “Fantastic,” she whispered before raising her voice as Weezing disintegrated into red light before her. “No KO on our side.”

    “Inconceivable,” Koga exclaimed.

    “Pop culture 101: that word does not mean what you think it does.”

    The ref laughed for a second before realizing it was probably not helping his advancement prospects with Koga. “This round goes to Gela and Hypno. Koga, please send out your next Pokémon.

    “Tsukoyomi, Sleep Powder!”

    That was strange. Gela could not think of a single time she had ever seen Stelo sleep. She had heard that Koga himself trained a Hypno, so he should know that Sleep Powder would almost certainly not effect one.

    Her thoughts were interrupted by a flash of scaly wings in the fog and a cloud of green dust slamming straight over Stelo and into her face. As a few spores flew into her nostrils, her mind wandered to a dark chapter in her battle against insomnia. The world was green and lucid and multiple and anachronic and painful and terrifying and she hated it.

    Disable.

    The call came from somewhere in the twisted mess of worlds, but she could not tell from where. Was it the slowly moving aurora in front of her? The strange gray fog covering a swamp? The dark and rumbling hallways? The ceiling of her dwelling in the Seafoam Islands, her eyes slowly moving from side to side as the stone room spun like a whirlpool above?

    The aurora began to fade, taking the Islands with it. All that remained was a strange blend of two worlds. A large bug came straight at her. She only flinched a moment because she was too busy slamming against Machamp, trying in vain to struggle through as her mother guided her deeper into a swamp. Inside, a Hypno batted off a purple moth that was sucking his life force away slowly. They were both scared off by a particularly powerful quake from further on in the building and a less-distant roar.

    Close your eyes, Madame.

    She did so to avoid a flash of light from above. The world began to focus as that side became dominant. Her mother had finally taken her to the kitchen, where holes had been ripped apart in the roof and walls. A thin coating of water was trickling in from the area nearest the pool. Both cringed as a large mass slammed into the wall from the other side, shattering all of the windows and ripping a hole in the stone as a blue form flashed in the crack before retreating back. It was hard for Gela to tell just what was waiting on the other side, what had eaten her Magikarp. But it was terrifyingly vicious.

    And it was battling her Hypno. Stelo had finally managed to send the Venomoth to sleep and was slowly waving his pendant as a purple glow surrounded it. The bug cried in agony as a steady flow of energy was yanked from his mind, from his dreams, and sent straight into the psychic-type. Stelo stood upright and slammed his fist into the Venomoth. He did not know any physical attacks, but the blow stung enough to do some minor damage and wake the bug up. It went for his throat, content to make up the damage from the Dream Eater with his own Leech Life attacks.

    A jolt of electricity entered the insect. Thunder Wave. It began to glow pure white. Hyper Beam.

    The attack tore into the wall, almost hitting Aerodactyl by sheer coincidence. The wall finally collapsed entirely, revealing a large and angry Gyarados standing above them. It saw Gela being held hostage and roared as he bared his teeth and turned to her mother.

    Let her go.

    Challenger, send out your next Pokémon.

    Stelo was on the ground, kneeling before an airborne menace that had finally overcome him. The voice was insistent now, having apparently repeated himself several times to get his point across. She felt ashamed that it had taken her that long. She felt awed by the power of the beast before her.

    Estrea. Psychic.

    Ame.

    A dark bat flit through the clouds now that the bug was gone. The scent—lavender, that was it—was no less overpowering and the spores no weaker.

    The Gyarados had never been weak.

    After checking that his trainer was safe, it took the course its brain was programmed to take. Unstoppable revenge. It slammed its body into Aerodactyl, knocking it out of the air before blasting a jet of water to take it out of the match. Kabutops leapt up to meet it. One long slash across the side. Red hit the floor. So did Kabutops, knocked aside by the far larger creature’s impressive bulk and power. At last it turned to Machamp. Light filled the room. She felt herself knocked to the floor and felt the weight of her mother upon her before pure white tore through her eyelids. Machamp was down. Her mother stood uneasily as the Gyarados growled.

    Get away from her.

    Her mother stepped back. Estrea hit the ground.

    Sympathy coursed through her. She did not deserve to be taken down like that. Joy coursed through her. She was about to get what she deserved.

    The main actor in both worlds became one. In a blast of freezing air, the fog and Golbat were gone. The real action was beginning; Gyarados was the star.

    I choose Ameterasu.

    Shit.

    A purple being formed in the dirty water, spreading out before a small clump with a cavern for a mouth rose above the surface. Her mother dropped her Pokéballs and ran, barely avoiding a ray of light that flashed behind her. Drako roared and sent a wave of water across the pool, harming the Muk but it reformed almost instantly. In its rage the Gyarados began to fly above the water, rushing after his prey with open jaws. Another blast of freezing water cleared the battlefield. The gym leader’s Muk was wounded, but it now oozed forward beneath the surface.

    Gela was ecstatic. She was close to victory. Then she saw two things that dampened it. The Muk was forming near her now, slowly grabbing hold of Drako with a toxic purple hand. The Gyarados thrashed, but the sticky hold held on as more and more toxin covered him as the Muk engulfed him whole. It slowly began to slide up her Pokémon’s body towards his head as he thrashed in vain to remove his prey.

    Maybe if she was closer she could have helped.

    The other sight was a red and white orb in the rubble five meters away. Drako’s. If she got to it, she could withdraw him. End this. Why? Another flash of white light and an attempted bite that flew right over her mother’s head. She only barely survived from her years of training as an intelligence agent. But she was getting slower now. She would die. Drako would kill her. Drako was her Pokémon. She could withdraw him.

    Or not. Would that mean that she killed her?

    Another blast of light swooped right by her mother as she rolled out of the way, taking temporary refuge behind a column before Drako smacked it aside.

    The ball was far away. Closer to her, but somehow more distant, a Gyarados was performing elaborate rolls in the water and shaking violently to free itself from an unstoppable advance that weighed him down more and more with every passing second.

    And somewhere in the mess of space and time and stories, a woman looked on. It was terrifying and it pained her to watch it. But the woman could never change things. Only watch them. However bad things got someone would always be there, was always there. And it would never make a goddamn difference. Only two people had the ability to change things.

    And in some corner of the dreamscape, two people took notice.

    The girl began to run, bolting toward the ball. Out of the corner of his eye, the floating Gyarados saw her. At first he thought it was his master running away. That was good. She should be far away from this woman she hated, the source of her first true rage. The source of his eternal rage. After another lunge, he took another look. She was not running towards the entrance. She was running for an ball in the rubble. Red and white. His.

    He did not want to go back into his Pokéball. An instinctual part of his mind, long suppressed by his friendship with the girl, resurfaced in his unending hatred. He changed course.

    “Thunder.”

    The same snake on a different side gave an increasingly feeble roar before his head glowed yellow. Then the purple on him did. More and more light shone through the toxic sludge surrounding him in a torrent of voltage. It hurt. It angered him. But he kept going, perhaps too guilty for pain he had inflicted, was inflicting, was about to inflict to dare to stop. And the anger that came from the pain he inflicted was always exhilarating. An unimaginable joy.

    Except for one pain.

    The girl dove for the Pokéball. She caught it, barely, even if she scraped her leg against the broken concrete. She did not notice, though. However much she hated her mother, a feeling she would only put to words weeks later while binge watching every major action movie in history controlled her conscious. Her father had died because someone had the chance to change things and didn’t. If she let her mother die now, she would be just like her.

    The girl rose to her feet and gripped the orb tightly in her right hand. It was dark and wet outside and she was holding it entirely wrong. For a moment she fumbled with it to get it into place, all the while looking down at the ball. By the time she looked up, the coolest Pokémon in the world had almost reached her.

    Years, or even a day, before the attack would have stung. A slap on the arm. But now jaws came down with impossible force as a Pokéball fell to the ground and a frantic scream rose into the night. Red tinged the rainwater on the ground as she was broken. Bones crunched and flesh was torn. The unfamiliar scream from a familiar voice penetrated the Gyarados’ rage and he let go.

    In another plane of reality a Muk fell into the murky water at last, finally vanquished. For a moment there was silence. Then the ref raised his flags to announce the impossible.

    There was the scent of blood and lavender and chlorine and muck. The girl looked at the water. It looked like liquefied roses. It looked like shit. She fell to her knees and blacked out.

    The woman looked upon the encroaching darkness and sighed. However many times she came back to this, nothing ever changed. She waited as the world devolved into darkness and mirrors where the sides met. One showed her body being moved to the back of the gym, ready for treatment. Another was hazier for a long time, but eventually focused in on a world of white.

    A world of white and numbness. She stared up at the ceiling, unable to move or even understand what was happening. A woman with dirty blonde hair moved into her line of vision and she slowly drifted into that side and blinked.

    “Are you awake?”

    She was but lacked the strength or desire to say so. Two blinks were all her mother got in response.

    “Good.” She sat down beside her. Gela wished she did not, but through the darkness and mirrors and dreams she could not find a way to object. “You probably want to know where you are and what’s happening. I know I would.” She did not. She already knew. She had lived it.

    “You’re in the hospital. Drako ripped up your arm rather badly before he stopped. He wouldn’t let me close to help either, so you lost a lot of blood before the medics arrived with a Raichu. The doctors managed to get you stable. You’ll be fine.”

    Gela’s head drifted toward her arm before meeting a restraint.

    “Oh, that. The doctors managed to preserve some of your arm for now. Almost all of the nerves, bones, and muscles were shredded, though. They can’t legally amputate without your consent because they could keep you from dying without it. But it’ll hurt you for life and you’ll never be able to move it if they don’t. It’s going to be hard, but they should be able to get you a good prosthetic. That technology has really taken off in recent years.”

    “No.”

    The whisper was so faint that her mother mistook it as a rustling of the wind for a moment. “Did you say something?”

    “No.” It was louder now. This side was slowly becoming clearer. “You will not get my consent.”

    “Why? I know it’s hard, but you will be in pain if you don’t. You already can barely sleep, think of how much worse that would make it. You’d even get more use out of it with a prosthetic.”

    “Drako would feel terrible if I lost my arm because of him.”

    “Gela, that thing attacked you. It should feel bad. Any normal person would want it put—okay, fine. Wouldn’t you not being able to move your arm at least make it feel bad?”

    “Not quite as bad.”

    Her mother exhaled for a very long time as she struggled to remain composed. “You’re doing this to be difficult, aren’t you?” She got no reply. “Fine, we’ll play it your way. You’re the one who has to deal with it.”

    She smiled as darkness crept in and the scene shifted. Now a boy sat by her bed.

    “Hey, Gela. You awake?” She nodded. The restraints had been loosened enough that she could do that. “Good. The doctors said you had been better.”

    “Thanks for coming by, Gage.”

    “No problem. Some other people on staff have stopped by, but you were asleep.”

    “I have been doing that a lot lately. Sleeping and watching old, terrible action flicks. Basically my life now. Now I just need to put on a few dozen kilos, learn Dungeons and Dragon-types and live in my mother’s basement. But not the last one. Definitely not that.”

    “Since when did you get sarcastic?”

    “Since I found out that my life is, will be, and has always been an inescapable nightmare devoid of love and filled with pain. Kind of makes you take things less seriously”

    “My cousin told me most of it. I get it.”

    She smiled. “Thank goodness. Saves me a long expository rant.”

    “Yeah. I could live without hearing that twice as well.” He pulled a watch out of his pocket. “While I’m remembering it, I might as well give you this.”

    She squinted at it, failing to come up with a reason that Gage would get her something to put on her wrist now of all times. He wasn’t really into sick jokes. “What is it?”

    “It’s an AI. My cousin’s been working on a purely digital Pokémon for a while. He’s not quite done yet, but he has most of the cognitive stuff finished. He modified it a little bit to infiltrate database and compile and retrieve information from them. Thought you might like it.”

    “Thanks, I guess, but hacking really is not my specialty. Hats were never my thing, but I prefer them to be white when I do deign to adorn myself with one.”

    “Well, he thought that you might want it. Should keep you from being kept out of any other nasty secrets in the future. You’ll at least know what’s going on.”

    She extended her left hand to take it. Closing her fingers around it, she felt the smooth metal before a handful of beeping noises came from it.

    “What are those?”

    “That is just the AI talking to you,” Gage replied. “He’s sort of close to a Pokémon, mentally, so he might try to interact with you from time to time.

    She nodded and darkness entered again. Only one more scene lie between her and the surface of another world.

    In this part of the dreamscape her arm was finally in its present condition. She looked down at the exposed limb. Even after a round of surgery to make it look more normal, portions of it were discolored and the shape was not quite right. But it was hers and still attached, even if she still forgot from time to time that she needed to turn off the alarm with her left arm now and that she could not sign her name or shake hands as she always had. She wasn’t sure how she ever forgot that with the pain, but she did.

    Her mother walked into the room and she tensed slightly, cringing when the jerking motion affected the sore areas around her arm. She said nothing until her mother spoke.

    “Good news. The doctor just said you should be out of here in about a week. Then you can come back home.”

    She leaned back in her bed and stared up at the ceiling. “I do not want to. I just cannot. Sorry.”

    Her mother’s face sunk and she collapsed into the chair next to her. “I expected as much. I can’t just let you live alone, though. You’re going to need therapy for a while and there are people out there who would harm you to hurt me.”

    “Those are my problems now. You are done with me.” There was no emotion in her voice. Her eyes were cold and distant. A month with nothing but her thoughts and terrible spy films had not helped her opinion of her mother.

    “Gela, could you at least give me a chance to make things better. You don’t have to forgive me. Just let me help you.” She continued before her daughter could actually respond. “I built an outpost in the Seafoam Islands while I was posted there. No one has used it for a while. You could live there. It would save you the trouble of finding a place, and it’s far enough out of the way that you would be safe. Only your therapist and you would need to know where it is. At least let me know you’re safe and secure. Then we can part ways if you want. You can completely ignore everything I’ve tried to do for you.” She swallowed the rising tide of anger and dismissed it with a shake of her head. “Please?”

    Four seconds passed.



    END FILE 1.1: AN ARM AND A LEG
    END FILE 1: ANACHRONIC ORDER






    And I actually finished something. Yay... I'll post up a blog later outlining and explaining a lot of things, but because people might have wanted it, here's a nice little timeline.




    I have also decided that I'm not writing anything more for this story. I will catch it up with the rest of the Interwebs while I work on a new project with a similar structure. Until then, I'm off.
    Last edited by Rediamond; 1st June 2014 at 01:05 PM.

  11. #26
    Your mind is a world AetherX's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Backgrounds

    To start, let me make sure I've got this straight. Backgrounds is a collection of four different stories that serve as prequels that set up four different characters to essentially go on journeys. Are they all canon with each other? Sorry, the first time I read the first post it made sense but now going back and in combination with the various authors notes I've managed to confuse myself (which isn't difficult). Anyway, I read the story and have an opinion on it. Should you care what it is? I dunno. Here it is anyway.

    PLOT: I love the idea behind this. A seemingly innocuous character with some very real-world problems has to get by in a world where all sorts of Hollywood-esque stuff is going on. She isn't swept up in it per se, but she plays her part. In the end, her real-world issues are where the real conflict occurs. In practice though, I think the dream-life-dream-life-dream-life thing was pretty ambitious. I'm not saying you did a shit job or should have done it some other way, I'm just saying it was kind of throwing in places. Particularly in the beginning, I wasn't entirely sure what was going on. It took me a bit to realize that she was watching herself from a third person perspective in her dreams, which isn't something I've experienced very often. I've never been a huge fan of being vague in my writing unless when the reader finally figures out what's happening it's supposed to be a big deal. In this case it just messed with the flow from time to time. Like I said though, it was ambitious. I like the concept of telling a story starting from the middle with lots of flashbacks, I just got a little thrown off here and there. You did a pretty good job of it overall.

    Other than that, I loved the story. The pacing was perfect and the setting was well established.

    CHARACTERS: Gela was perfect, and her mother was also pretty well done. Besides Conti, most of the other characters felt a little flat. I think the main cause of this was that they were overshadowed by the main plot and Gela and her issues. It's not a terribly long story so I can't really expect a lot of development I suppose, but none of Gela's friends really struck me as memorable. I could understand everyone's motivations, but given the scope of the story there just didn't seem to be much to work with as far as depth goes. No biggy.

    The character interactions, on the other hand, were great. All very relatable and smooth.

    My only problem with Gela is her constant sarcasm. There comes a point when sarcasm stops being funny and/or frustrating and just becomes either misleading (due to the character on the receiving end not getting the sarcasm, which as a regular sarcasm user myself, is surprisingly often) or straight up mean. This is all in-story by the way, I'm not saying that you shouldn't have written Gela as a sarcastic character. I just feel like other characters were a little too non-chalant about it. Also, she was almost too witty. Some of her snark was almost too clever for her to have come up with it on the spot. Not huge criticism, just something I noticed.

    WRITING: On the technical side of things, I have no complaints. Given the flashbacky nature of the story, I think the formatting was well done in general and I didn't see any memorable typos or other technical issues. On the stylistic side of things I think you did a very good job. Besides the flow complaints I explained above I think everything was great. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I tend to prefer a tad more environmental description, but that's mostly a taste thing. The battles were pretty well done, and so were the calm exposition bits. Dialogue felt pretty smooth too, from every character pretty much without exception. All believable and with an individual voice.

    OVERALL: Well it's getting late and I've already begun on that slow descent into madness that comes with being tired so I'll wrap this up. I really enjoyed the story and am highly looking forward to the next one. Keep it up!

    Review Extravaganza 19/50

  12. #27
    Into Darkness Peering Rediamond's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backgrounds

    Thanks for the review!

    Backgrounds was, originally, a set of one-shots I was using to develop a world and characters for a longer story. The one-shot thing fell apart pretty quickly when I began to take things from slice-of-life to slice-of-life in the middle of a political thriller and needed more time to set up the world. I have two of the four stories done in their entirety and most of a third done, but I think I'm abandoning this. I might yet post up what I have done for the fic, but I'm moving onto another project at this point, so... you'll get a new story, but it will probably have little to nothing to do with this one.

    The third person flashbacks were one of the last things to get added to the story in planning, largely inspired from another story that ran as a sort of mystery with more and more layers of confusion being shed but the entire thing being sort of understandable at any one time. The story originally had Slaughterhouse-Five style mental time travel where everything was still third person, which I think would have been much more fitting for this story.

    As for flat characters... yeah. Totally agreed. One was only in there because they were the hero of the next story and the others just so I could start fleshing them out a little more in the actual sequel. My justification for it was implied more fully in the story I was working on when I gave up, but basically it can be summarized as Gela being unwilling to actually connect with other people on a level more than sarcasm and occasional glimpses at what she's thinking. Part of it is also due to the third person limited nature of the work and personal experience. I had a long period of time where I dealt with insomnia, although I didn't call it that at the time. Then it was just "You mean most people don't need two hours to fall asleep and still wake up twice in a night?" I had depression in that time, although whether or not one was the side effect of the other is convoluted. Depression has insomnia as a side effect. Insomnia has depression as a side effect. When you're depressed and not sleeping it's rather hard to pay much attention to other people.

    And if the sarcasm is mean, that's because I wrote her as a character who was objectively rather mean, bordering into Designated Heroine territory. Does she have the right to be after everything she's been through? Maybe. She's definitely not unambiguously good, though, and certainly not nice. Why people still put up with her is debatable. It's kind of subtle, but there are a few scenes where it is kind of acknowledged that she is widely viewed as a mean person. Most of the people she talks to knew her before her injury, suggesting they tolerate her our of pity or because they know that she actually does have some emotional depth. Or out of obligation and some guilt, in her mother's case to the extent that the relationship can even be defined as "tolerance."

    As for how she came up with some of that stuff, some of it was probably planned in universe, such as half her meetings with Conti and most of her comments about Gyarados. The rest of it could sort of be justified by her being highly intelligent and kind of constantly bored. But really, I was invoking Rule of Funny. The story is hardly uplifting, especially towards the end, and I liked the snark if only because it helped break that for a little while.

    The viewing self in dreams portion is sort of hand-waved in story as being a side effect of using Drowzee/Hypno to sleep on a regular basis. It starts molding dreams more to the Pokemon's taste. Alternatively, if it is actually a thing, it could be a sign of dissociative identity disorder. In real life (if it exists), DID, isn't so much one person with two separate and conflicting personalities that occasionally dominate each other as a form of PTSD where the person in question refuses to acknowledge that they did something in the past. In effect, Gela was so traumatized by the events surrounding her injury that she doesn't recognize the girl who lived before that as being the same person as her. Thus, "The Girl" is born. But I fully recognize your point about introducing that earlier. I will try and set everything up more clearly next time I write.

    Thanks for the review! When I get back to activity on this site, I'll check out your fic.


    In the meantime, here's a brief preview of what I'm working on now:




    Until you get an actual first chapter of that story, I'm off. I'll see you around then.

  13. #28
    Less cute in person Beth Pavell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backgrounds

    This is one of my trickier reviews. As always, I've added some constructive criticism onto my notes.

    Plot
    The plot for Backgrounds starts promisingly. There are a fair few interesting elements introduced early on, not least the concept of the development of TMs taking centre stage. Moving back and forth across the internal timeline is an idea that does have a lot of potential.

    The big problem with the plot as a whole is that it's just too muddled. Plot threads are set up early on and discarded for extended periods of time – Conti's plan to start a coup takes up a lot of space only for it to serve as background at best later on. The disappearance of Gela's father is mentioned in an offhand way only to return out of nowhere in File 5. By contrast, an inordinate amount of time is spent detailing Gela's life at the Marine Park and as a Camper. The end result is that I was left wondering exactly what the story was – the story reads like a jigsaw challenging to the reader to put it all together, which repeatedly breaks the immersion.

    Setting
    The story has a functional setting that does the job but offers little more beyond that. There are some good ideas and adaptations of locations in there – the expansion of Seafoam Islands and the usage of the polluted pond from Celadon City in particular. It is a shame, in fact, that these locations were described in a manner which was only adequate. Like the plot, other aspects of the setting come across as higgledy-piggeldy. The political exposition is confused and unfinished, being delivered too late in the story to be of much use.

    Characterisation
    Characterisation is where the story really does not work, which is significant because the success of the plot relies on a sympathetic protagonist. In short, Gela is not sympathetic. She is constantly rude and abrasive to everyone she meets, including her friends. Her psychological problems are never fully explained. We are told that she has trouble sleeping, yet she is seen sleeping and dreaming constantly. She seems to be selectively stupid, on the one hand being very aware of the less-than-libertarian government but then blasting her mother constantly for trying to protect her.

    The supporting cast, unfortunately, don't alleviate any of these problems. Gela's mother Suzanne is the strongest of the supporting cast, and what we see of her depicts a powerful woman doing her best in a broken world – a genuinely interesting idea and one that I haven't seen before. Gela's friends don't come across as people, in all honesty. It's hard to see why they put up with Gela and her spiky manner, and they don't seem to have any function beyond laughing at her wit.

    Style
    The writing style in this story is for the most part competant and effective. There's a decent vocabulary used overall. Where the style falls down overlaps somewhat with the plot – at times the narration becomes too vague for it's own good, becoming simply confusing and frustrating to read.

    Technical
    Very few technical errors. Apart from the odd malapropism, accuracy is very high.

    Final Thoughts
    For my final thoughts, the overarching problem is that there are too many elements half developed and then abandoned. Whether it's Gela's characterisation – including her insomnia, arm injury relationship with her mother etc – or events in the plot – Conti's coup, the government of Kanto, etc – the story needs taking back to the drawing board and planning. I got the impression that there was a whole plot somewhere, but that it lay in note form on a hard drive and that I, the reader, wasn't going to see it.

    Constructive Criticism
    From the comments above, you might think that I hated the story - I didn't. In fact I'd hate for you to take away the idea that I did, consign the story to the scrap heap and forget about it. I just think that the idea of Backgrounds is too ambitious for its own good. The story you've essentially told is the story of an estranged family, and I think the key elements in that are clever and have a lot of potential. If I were to suggest how to re-boot it, what I would do is the following -

    1. Focus entirely on the family plot. Events outside of that should really serve to build character, particularly Gela's.
    2. Interesting though the idea is, scrap the TM angle. The Water Park is a good opportunity to show Gela's day-to-day life, and fits nicely with the concept you've built of Gela as the scion of a high-flyer. You can also have that fit with the swimming and pond thing we see earlier in Celadon City, maybe make that the bonding moments with Gela's dad.
    3. Gela needs to be more multi-faceted. Spiky protagonists only work when the audience likes them, and in this case I think more than anything we need to see Gela with the walls down. I get that her sarcasm is a shield - in which case, show the consequences of being like that. Have her drop the shield for one particular friend, maybe. Have other friends call her out on it.
    4. Only explain the politics of the world enough to explain Suzanne's place in it. Really, what's important is why Suzanne is apparently so absent, and why she's not powerful enough to prevent the assassination of Gela's dad.
    The Long Walk
    For Joshua Cook, it's a long walk away from his dull life to the Pokémon League. But does he really want to be the very best? A coming-of-age story of adventure, friendship and growing up in the world of Pokémon.


    Pavell's Scribbledegook Week XI - Pokémon Taxonomy: Squirtle Line

  14. #29
    Into Darkness Peering Rediamond's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backgrounds

    Thanks for the review.

    I am more prone to agree in hindsight, especially now that this story will stand on its own on Bulbagarden, that certain elements of it should have been reworked considerably. In particular the original concept originally was a set of one-shots related almost exclusively to the Camper trainer class. I shifted mostly away from that, but the vestiges of it really confused the story. At some point I should have made a clean break, but in the gradual evolution of the story that never really occurred to me. It is likely something that in a second draft would have been removed entirely. Conti's role was more to introduce the political elements of the story and kick off the plot of the first few arcs. When the story ended he was moving towards a coup, but still in the early stages where no one was quite sure how to deal with the problem. The sequel that the original one-shot concept was designed to set up dealt with how Gela's mother would have to deal with the problem her daughter helped create. Because that really isn't going to materialize that plot line too is mostly vestigial.

    And while Gela does sleep a lot in story, she only sleeps three times for a prolonged period, once with Hypno's assistance. This fits more with actual insomnia where sufferers do sleep but only for short periods and often at times they don't want to.

    I agree that the plot itself likely wasn't suited for its style and length, and if I ever do reboot this, which I probably won't, I would take some of your suggestions to heart. As of now I am working more on going forward with another project for which some of your advice will likely be applicable as it is borders more on the political thriller medium than most stories do. I'm a poli sci/econ person. I find that type of thing interesting to write.

    Anyway, thanks again for going into more detail on this than you probably had to and the quality of suggestions.

  15. #30
    Moderator AceTrainer14's Avatar Forum Head
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    Default Re: Backgrounds

    Awards feedback:
    I will start off by saying that much of what I am going to say is probably not new, having read both Aether and BP's reviews before this. However, hopefully something here will be new, and something can be helpful should you ever reboot this or write it again.

    I will start off by saying that, on a surface level, Gela's story is enjoyable enough: you write well and I was eager to see what happened next, where the plot went and how everything pieced together.
    However, the problem with the plot is that while we eventually have the 'past' elements brought together and wrapped up, the 'present' bits with Conti and such never goes anywhere. I think the story could have been fundamentally improved if we had seen that particular storyline go somewhere as well and reach a conclusion, rather than the confusing gym battle (confusing because of how it was written) being the end. I thought the Conti plotline was intriguing, and I would have liked that to have played a bigger role outside of the first chapter, even if just furthering the current place of the mother-daughter relationship.

    You have an excellent world here, with the intriguing political climate and the way the gym battles work, all of which was rather unique and added an extra layer of depth to the story. I do think that the actual physical setting could have been described a lot better (mostly as I am a sucker for description), but it also would have improved the story to ground the general area a bit more.

    In terms of characters, I thought the best one was Suzanne: she had an interesting mix of traits and I think was perhaps the most realistic and moving character, trying to make the most of the terrible situation she has found herself in. I liked that the Pokemon all had personalities, individual ones at that, which was a nice touch and I think they could have been potential Best Pokemon nominees, perhaps winners, had they been entered (I cant remember if they were nominated or not - that part of this process was a long time ago...). Conti was also interesting, and I would have liked to see more of him, while Gela's friends and co-workers did not wow me very much.

    Then there was Gela. She was intriguing with some layers, and the two 'hers' were interesting if a tad confuddling at times. However, the sarcasm was simply exhausting: I like funny characters, I like them making puns, but Gela fired off waaaaaay too many. I know the feeling of thinking of funny jokes and wanting to put them in, but Gela just annoyed me with the constant wave of hit and mostly miss jokes that I think ruined the opportunities to show off her deeper side. I know I am a bit guilty with this with Alaska, but with her there is the benefit of spacing her annoying traits over ninety chapters - in this short space, it was just overwhelming.

    Your style works well, and the mix of past and present was intriguing, though like I said earlier the big mix at the end was just confusing. The self deprecating, parody comments though were a bit annoying, again because of how many there were in such a small space, and it pointed out flaws and cliches in your work more than add humour. And grammar wise, there were not a ton of errors but I did notice a few typos and wrong word choices. Unfortunately I did not note them down so I cannot tell you specifically, but if you ever read over again I am sure they would be obvious.

    Final thoughts
    The story had a ton of promise, and the interconnected elements of it as seen in the prologue have me intrigued for the next extended one shot, but while Gela’s story worked in some places it failed in others. Cutting back the sarcasm significantly would have made for a more likeable and enjoyable lead, building on some of the interesting elements like her mother, Conti and his goals and even furthering her relationships with her friends would have helped raise this story and those elements to the next level. There were a lot of plotlines here, and I think they probably could have all worked with a bit more balance and a bit more developing of them all.
    I take it you arent carrying this story on further here, so I guess I would recommend dropping the other prologues from the first part so as to not get peoples hopes up and just leave this as Gela's tale. I guess the final thing I will leave you with for any future story is to either stick to one plotline like BP suggested or find a way to incorporate them all, and even if you have thought of something really funny, the less humour the better.

    ^^^^ The GalacticVerse Bibliography (Thanks to Blazaking for Banner) ^^^^

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