It won't. I was actually working on it a bunch last night. Should be up soon.
A/N: FINALLY! After a long-ass delay, I've posted another chapter. If you don't remember how Chapter 6 ended, and I don't blame you if you don't, it ended with Milo and Rena camping out under the stars in between Maple Plain and Cedar Ridge with Milo sharing his painful past regarding his brother, Danny. Anyways, here is Chapter 7! Please review :)
7. The Inventor
The following day brought with it a gorgeous blue sky and an unseasonably warm early autumn sunshine. Milo, however, was unable to enjoy the scenery or the fact that he and Rena had finally reached their destination.
His stiff neck and throbbing back pain were cruel reminders of the previous night spent sleeping out on the hard ground. And on top of that, he and Rena had been walking all morning, with Milo carrying the suprisingly heavy Fawkes -- who had refused to walk on her own -- almost the entire way.
At long last however, with his feet achy and stinging with blisters, Milo found himself in the town of Cedar Ridge seated outside at a small sidewalk cafe. With Fawkes still lounging comfortably in his lap, Milo sat and enjoyed a well-deserved glass of ice water as he observed the many townspeople passing by.
Despite his physical ailments, Milo was doing his best to drink in the visual appeal of the bustling town all around him.
The streets were clean and lined with small, neatly trimmed trees growing decoratively right out of the sidewalks. All the nearby shops and boutiques seemed inviting and kempt. Many of them had large display windows full of alluring products and merchandise. Even the blacktop roads themselves were peacful with very few cars and trucks out, even in the middle of day.
The sidewalking townspeople as well all seemed to be young, good looking and vibrant with a sort of bounce in their step as they commuted past.
“Lots of college kids around here," Milo said to Rena, who was seated opposite him and Fawkes at the cafe table.
She was dressed casually in a white tank and denim shorts, and looked relieved as well to be off her feet. Rena hadn't spoken much since they had awoken and dressed that morning, and Milo saw this as an opportunity to try to break that icy silence.
"The university must not be too far away," he added.
It was hard for Milo to gauge Rena's emotions at the table, however, because of the large, dark sunglasses covering her eyes.
She didn't answer him right away, allowing for the uncomfortable silence to reach incredible intensity. But when Rena finally put down her cup of coffee, she just shook her head and spoke as though she had been holding it in for the entire trip.
“You know, I still can't figure out why you're doing this Battle Quest thing when you clearly haven't even been in a real monster fight before. You realize that the best fighters in the country are in this thing, right? You realize that this isn't just some game you can play for fun, don't you? Seriously, I gotta know... Why the hell are you even doing this?!"
It was at that moment that Milo came to the realization that Rena had fallen asleep the previous night under the stars just before she could hear the story of Danny Youngblood. Otherwise, she wouldn't need to question Milo's motivation for joining Hugo Bowers' Battle Quest.
A part of Milo wanted to tell the tale of his late brother once again. Perhaps Rena would stop acting so sour towards him if he did. But it was just too difficult to relive yet again the shock and the pain of losing Danny. Besides, Rena wouldn't believe him anyway, not after so much of what Milo had told her about himself had turned out to be lies.
“I don't know,” was all Milo could glumly mumble as he stared down at the sidewalk.
Rena sighed, oblivious to Milo's angst. She pulled off her sunglasses and rubbed her eyes.
"I never would have run my mouth like that back there with Shane if I had known you weren't a real trainer. You made me look like such an idiot in front of all those people. I go to school with a lot of those kids!"
Milo tried to offer an apology, albeit a halfhearted one. Rena, however, just kept going on and on about how she wouldn't be able to show her face at school and how her integrity was everything if she hoped to become a respected journalist one day, and that Milo had hurt that credibility with his lies.
“I should have known you were lying back at the Pokemon Center when you said Fawkes took on a full-grown Ursaring in the forest. I mean, really? How could I be so stupid?"
Although stung by Rena's barbs, Milo didn't argue or get mad or even defend himself or Fawkes in the least. He simply reverted back to what he always did when his father would degrade and yell at him as a child, which was to sit there quietly and take it without confrontation. Over his younger years, Milo had been taught that most of the time, arguing or talking back usually resulted in even worse, more painful consequences. Milo didn't know exactly why his father came to mind at a time like this.
Shaking his head as if to jar the memories from his mind, he tried to focus on happy thoughts to block out these mental images as Rena continued to speak her piece.
Finally, after what felt like hours, a young couple, who Milo figured were students at the college because they both looked of age and wore backpacks, sat down at the table next to him and Rena on the sidewalk. They sat close enough that Rena apparently felt uncomfortable ranting any further, so she stopped and sulkingly drank her coffee.
Milo was relieved and felt a great deal of graditude towards the young strangers for silencing Rena, whose relentless voice had been becoming less endearing by the second. As Milo took another swig of his own beverage, however, he couldn't help but overhear the nearby couple's conversation.
“Baby, we should try to eat fast,” the young man in sandals said to his attractive blonde girlfriend. “We can't be late for Dr. Barkley's talk. He's speaking at the college in less than an hour.”
“Who?” the blonde asked.
“Dr. Kurtis Barkley,” the man explained patiently.
"He's speaking at school? Is he famous or something?"
"Is he famous?! Baby, Dr. Barkley is an absolute legend in the scientific community! He invented the freaking Pokéball! He's in textbooks for crying out loud!"
"Okay, okay! I get it! Take it down a few notches, fanboy."
"Sorry. I'm just excited, that's all. It's not everyday an icon like him decides to come to Cedar Ridge."
"You're such a nerd," the blonde giggled as she leaned over to kiss the young man.
“Did you hear that?” Milo whispered to Rena, forgetting about the awkwardness between the two of them.
“Hear what?” she replied without looking at him. She was apparently busy scanning the scene for any sign of Bryce Montgomery.
"Sounds like Dr. Kurtis Barkley is here in Cedar Ridge. I guess he's speaking at the university in an hour or so.”
Milo exhaled deeply. He immediately felt like the blonde girl's boyfriend when he explained, “Dr. Barkley is like the most legendary scientist ever, like the Hugo Bowers of science. The man's done it all. He specializes in molecular biology and genetics. Do you think, while we're here, we should go see him speak? Could be interesting.”
“You can go do whatever you want,” Rena said with a shrug. “I'm going to figure out where Bryce is and get my interview with him. Then I'll be heading back home to Maple Plain, and you'll be on your own."
Milo again felt a sinking feeling in his gut when he heard Rena say this. Obviously, he hadn't been expecting a girl like her to want to just drop everything and travel along with him, especially after the Shane McCarthy incident yesterday, but something about the cold tone in her voice when she actually said the words stung just the same.
“You know Dr. Barkley invented the Pokéball, right?” Milo asked, although he didn't know why he was bothering. "You realize how important of an invention that is, don't you?"
“Of course I do.”
“Okay, then if you're supposed to be doing a story on the Battle Quest for your school paper, wouldn't you rather interview the actual inventor of the device that makes it all possible instead of just some random rich kid talking about how great he thinks he is?”
Rena had an annoyed yet thoughtful look on her face, and Milo felt oddly prou of what he had just said.
“You know, I guess you're right,” she mumbled finally, not looking particularly pleased to admit it. “I guess it couldn't hurt to go see what this Kurt guy has to say.”
Milo wasn't sure why he had fought to get Rena to come with him given her recent spell of complaining and surliness. But at any rate, he picked up Fawkes and followed Rena as they made their way down the sidewalk towards the Cedar Ridge University campus, which was only about a half-mile away according to Milo's map.
The school grounds were gorgeous, even more so than the heart of the town itself. Large sprawling lawns of bright green grass separated the historic school buildings which were accented with imposing stone columns and statues of famous alumni. The cobblestone walking paths were full of casually dressed young adults and older teenagers, seemingly all of whom looked bright-eyed and excited to be there.
Milo felt even more out of place here than he normally did at his own school, and he was unnerved when several passing students eyed him and Fawkes curiously. But despite his discomfort, Milo focused on the amazing opportunity to hear such an iconic guest speaker and pressed on.
While Milo was never very interested in science at school, he was interested in Pocket Monsters -- even more so recently -- and he was always amazed by the advanced technology behind capturing a monster and how exactly a Pokéball worked.
Finally, after wandering around campus for a while, Rena stopped in front of a public bulliten board posted just off the walkway. Many different colored sheets of paper had been pinned to it by various clubs and student organizations. They scanned it for any mention of Dr. Barkley, and after a few seconds, Rena pointed up to a yellow piece of paper stapled in the corner.
Sure enough, 'Cedar Ridge University Welcomes World Renowned Scientific Icon and Inventor of the Pokeball, Dr. Kurtis Barkley' was written in loud, block lettering at the top of the flyer.
“It says he's at Legacy Hall, the auditorium,” Rena observed, and then looked at large campus map posted on the other side of information board. “Looks like it's this way. We better hurry. It starts in a few minutes.”
Milo and Rena hurried down the walkway to Legacy Hall, a large brick building right in the middle of campus.
Immediately upon entering the large glass entry doors, Milo was in awe of the cavernous auditorium. The sheer size of the enclosed space was a sight to behold.
"Whoa," was all Milo could say amidst the huge crowd of people all trying to find their seats for the show.
As he and Rena were swallowed up by the flow of people entering the building and began to walk down the center aisle, Milo marveled at the vast sea of blue theater seats he was parting on either side. The huge, hardwood stage before him looked fit for a symphony orchestra or a nationally televised awards show.
"Wow, look at all these people! This is crazy," Rena said before suddenly pointing to the right. "Hey, look! There's two open seats."
While Milo definitely felt uneasy in such a populated area, Fawkes, who had only ever experienced secluded farm living during her young life as the Youngblood family pet, was downright terrified by the large number of strange people around her. She trembled in Milo's arms and barked loudly in fear as they sat down, drawing the attention of the many students seated around them.
Embarrassed and sympathetic but unable to run away, Milo tried his best to cradle Fawkes in his arms to keep her quiet. Luckily, with a good bit of gentle rocking and petting, she finally did settle down just as a chubby young man wearing a gray suit approached the standing microphone up on stage.
“Thank you everyone, for coming,” the moderator said, and instantly the murmur of the audience hushed and the stragglers found their seats. "On behalf of the University Science Department, I'd like to welcome you all to our presentation this afternoon. As you all know, we have an amazing guest joining us today!"
Behind the guy in the suit, Milo saw an elderly, white-haired little man in a matching white lab coat seated at a small table in the middle of the stage. Immediately, Milo thought of Mr. J, although he wasn't sure why. This man was much frailer and labored in his movements than the ever-energetic farmer.
But regardless of his fragile appearance, Dr. Kurtis Barkley, perched carefully on his chair on stage, exuded an aura of wisdom and strength. He was obviously a man that required no introductions, but the student moderator obliged anyway.
"This man is one of the most influential and world-changing scientific minds of all time. His contributions, not only to the scientific community but our country's very culture as a whole, have made him a true living legend.
"Let's all give a very warm Cedar Ridge welcome to none other than Dr. Kurtis Barkley!"
The crowd erupted in applause so loud that Milo's eardrums rattled and Fawkes immediately yelped loudly and buried herself between his legs in fear. Milo clapped as well while a shiver crept up his spine. The electrifying excitement amongst the crowd reminded Milo of a big Greenburgh Lightning match.
The realization that frail little Dr. Barkley, not stoic and chiseled Hugo Bowers, was the man truly responsible for the Battle Quest and the national hysteria that surrounded it and the KPL was powerful in Milo's mind. He thought about Andy back at home and all the millions of people all around the world who supported and particpated in monster battling.
The idea that one man could somehow touch the lives of so many was unbelievable to Milo. It was surreal to think that the man responsible for it all was sitting only a few hundred feet away on stage before him.
Milo looked over to his right and saw that Rena was thinking similar thoughts. She already had her pad and pen out and was starting to jot down notes.
"Hello, everyone," the weezy voiced scientist said weakly but graciously into his mic as the moderator sat down next to him at the table.
“Dr. Barkley, can I just say how much of an honor it is for me personally to be sitting here with you today? On behalf of everyone here, thank you so much for joining us!"
"Anytime, my boy. Thanks for having me."
"Great. So, Doctor, to start off, let me just ask you... What do you think of the huge popularity increase that monster battling as a sport has seen in recent years? The collegiate and professional leagues, the KPL in particular, has turned into huge money-making industries and 'Pokemon' as they have been dubbed, have become household names in our pop culture venacular. How does it feel to be responsible for all of that?"
Barkley smiled politely, but didn't look entirely comfortable with the young man's comment. He cleared his throat before leaning into his microphone.
"It's all quite unexpected, to tell you the truth. When I first started creating the device, I had no idea that it would turn into all this..."
Barkley's voice trailed off as he gazed out into the crowd, and the audience politely cheered before the MC continued his interview.
"The device, now known to the world as the Pokéball, or course... Dr. Barkley, as your claim to fame, I'm sure you are asked about it constantly, but for the benefit of our students in the audience -- who might someday become our next great inventors and scientists -- could you tell us about your invention? How did the idea for the Pokéball come about?"
Milo watched as Barkley took a labored sip from the water glass in front of him and looked thoughtful.
“That is a complicated question, young man," Barkley complmented. "Not very many people know that the idea of using human technology to capture and control nature's wild creatures for recreational sport was not my original intent when I first built the prototype."
The entire auditorium was silent as, to Milo's knowledge, Dr. Barkley had never made such a claim on the record before. The doctor paused as well, but took the silence as cue to continue speaking.
"Over forty years ago, I was at Goldenrod College, now known as Golden Valley University, I believe. They had hired me teach a class on molecular biology, and as payment, the school allowed me access to their facilities for my own personal research and projects."
"And the Pokéball... that was one of the projects you worked on at Goldenrod College?"
Barkley took another sip of water before replying.
"Indeed it was. You see, back then, the entire western portion of Kanto was nothing but farm land. One of my childhood friends who had moved out there and owned a cattle ranch was telling me how tiresome it was to load up all those huge Miltanks in trailers and drive them cross country to be sold. And so, I began developing a device that might allow my friend to transport his livestock in an easier and more cost-efficient manner.
"It only took me about a year to develop my device, with much trial and error. 'The Cattle Capsule' I called it," Barkley said. "A bit clunkier than today's Pokéball, but essentially the same technologies at work."
The crowd murmured excitedly at this nugget of exclusive information. Rena's pen was moving so fast as she scribbled notes, her hand was but a blur. Meanwhile, the moderator on stage looked like it was taking all his strength to keep from squealing with glee.
"Oh, wow! So, Dr. Barkley, sir, what happened next? I mean, how did your invention evolve from a simple tool for farmers to becoming such a great techological breakthrough? When did the Capture Capsule turn into the Pokéball?"
Dr. Barkley chuckled bashfully.
"It all happened so fast. I guess it started when my farmer friend started doubling and tripling his business almost overnight using the capsule. You see, by being able to store his large cattle inside such small containers, he was able to house and transport twenty times as much livestock, and he was outproducing every other rancher in the entire country. I guess once people found out how he was doing it, he became something of an overnight sensation with the media. And being the humble, small-town boy that he was, he was nice enough to give me all the credit whenever a newspaper reporter would interview him."
Milo again detected a hint of resentment in Barkley's voice when he spoke of all the attention his invention had afforded him, but Milo figured he might be imagining it.
"And so after that, I'm sure there was a huge increase in demand for your services, wasn't there, Dr. Barkley?"
"You could say that I suppose," the old man replied flatly. "I was getting all kinds of crazy offers and requests for me to go into mass production of the capsule. There were companies from all over Kanto offering me loads of money for my device. Heck, even the government wanted it."
"The government? What did they want it for, sir?"
Rena immediately scooted to the edge of her seat and had the tip of her pen ready against the surface of a clean sheet of note paper. She along with Milo and the rest of the audience were still with anticipation.
Barkley froze. His expression was one of regret, like he had uttered a swear word in front of a child. He cleared his throat and finally just waved off the young man's question with a sudden smile.
"Oh, well, that's a story for a different day," Barkley said quickly with a chuckle.
Milo and Rena looked at one other, eyebrows raised. Barkley continued.
"In the end, as everyone knows, I finally agreed to partner with Mr. David Silph in mass production of the device. With his considerable resources along with my knowledge of the technology behind the device, we decided to market the capsule as a tool for people to 'catch' and befriend the wild monsters among us in the world. Somewhere down the line, the term 'Pocket Monsters' was born, and from that, 'Pokémon.' And so, the capsule was dubbed the Pokéball. And the rest, as they say, is history."
Barkley looked particularly nostalgic as he sat there relaying the birth of the Pokéball. From where Milo sat, it seemed as though the actual weight and effect of his invention was now hitting the doctor.
"Back in my little lab at Goldenrod all those years ago, I never would have imagined, not in a million years, that it would turn out like this..." Barkley said, his voice again trailing.
Sensing the gravity of the moment, the young moderator jumped in, attempting to change the topic and keep the presentation moving.
"Thank you so much for that insightful history lesson, Dr. Barkley! It was fascinating to hear!" the young man commended. "Sir, as I said, we have many students, future scientists, in the audience today. Now that you have explained to us how the Pokéball came to be... Would you be so kind as to go a little more in depth about the science behind its functionality? How exactly does the Pokéball do what it does?"
Dr. Barkley smiled, clearly grateful for the change of subject. "Certainly. In fact, I'll do you one better than that. I'll show you."
The audience collectively started to rumble again, their volume rising in anticipation. The MC looked excited as well, although unsure of exactly Barkley meant.
"A demonstration? Even better!"
Barkley gingerly stood up from his chair and limped slowly to the front of the stage. He stopped and further excited the crowd by pulling a shiny baseball-sized orb from his coat pocket.
Despite the fact that Milo had seen a Pokéball work up close in Mr. J's kitchen just days before, he was eager to see the device's inventor himself exhibit the power of ball.
"You all know what this is," Barkley announced to the audience, holding the ball as high as his weary arms would allow. "But most of you probably have never seen one operate in real life, just on television in a KPL match or in the movies."
The crowd was still motioness, apparently enthralled by the moment. The next moment, however, made Milo feel like he was dreaming. It happened as though in slow motion.
"So, to demonstrate the ball's power for you today," Barkley continued. "May I ask for the assistance of the young man in the red hat with the baby Vulpix that I saw sitting near the back... Young man, will you please come up on stage?"
It couldn't be, Milo thought. I'm hearing things. He's talking about someone else.
But as everyone in the cascading rows of seats in front of him began to turn and stare at him, he realized it wasn't a dream. Rena, who had been busy writing notes, actually dropped her pen and looked shocked as well. Her big brown eyes joined the countless others in locking in on Milo and Fawkes.
The audience clapped politely, and the sound seemed to boom in Milo's ears. He felt his heart screaming inside his chest and his lungs begging for air. His legs were numb, but somehow they supported his weight as he stood up slowly from his seat and walked awkwardly down the aisle with a trembling Fawkes in his arms. The walk from his seat to the stage felt a thousand times longer than the one from Maple Plain to Cedar Ridge.
"Hello, young man. What's your name?" Barkley said to Milo when he had climbed the steps and joined him on stage.
Milo couldn't believe what was happening. He was standing just feet away from one of the most famous men in history! The surreality of it all seemed to numb a bit of the terror that came with looking out at the vast sea of strangers in front of him.
"You okay, son?" Barkley asked, then repeated, "What's your name?"
"Uh, my name? Mi-Milo, Milo Youngblood, sir."
"Milo, you look a little young to be in college," Barkley quipped, apparently trying to ease Milo's nerves. The crowd laughed.
"Y-yes, sir. I'm fourteen. I'm visiting from Oak Grove."
"Ah, Oak Grove. Some good farm land out there. Very good, my boy. Thank you for joining me up here. And who do we have here?"
"This is Fawkes, sir."
The Vulpix pup was still shaking and yelping hysterically at the hundreds of people staring up at her as she tried to hide her face in between Milo's elbow and armpit.
"Ah, she's a shy little girl, isn't she?" Barkley said soothingly as he gently scratched Fawkes under the chin. "Gorgeous creatures, Vulpixes are. Anyhow, Milo... Would it be okay if Fawkes here helped me demonstrate how the Pokéball works?"
Fawkes was whimpering now and trying desperately to squirm free of Milo's grasp. The crowd reacted to how adorable the pup looked, but their noises only freaked Fawkes out more and caused her to wriggle even more in his arms.
"Uh, sir," Milo grunted, trying to hold onto her, "I, um, I think she's much too scared for that. She'll run off if I set her down."
Barkley half-smiled and gave Milo a nod of understanding, but also looked as if he didn't know what to do now that the crowd was expecting a demonstration.
Sensing that he needed to act, Milo reached into his jeans pocket and said, "But here, how about this instead?"
He pulled out one of his own Pokéballs. Without knowing which one he had grabbed, he handed it to Dr. Barkley, who along with most of the audience, looked extremely surprised.
"Didn't expect someone as young as you to be carrying these around," Barkley commented as he examined the ball in his wrinkled and veiny hands.
Milo didn't know what to say to that.
"I'm, uh, competing in the Battle Quest, sir," Milo said timidly.
"You don't say! The Hugo Bowers contest?" Barkley seemed curious if not skeptical of Milo's claim.
There was an extremely uncomfortable silence like when someone tells a bad joke at a party. Smatterings of disbelieving scoffs and chuckles rang out from the crowd.
Sensing Milo's panic, Barkley said strongly, "That's great, Milo. I'm sure you will do great... Anyways, why don't we see who the second member of your team is."
The old man dropped Milo's ball onto the stage floor, which took one bounce and immediately burst open with an intense flash of white light. The blinding light materialized and condensed and then dimmed, leaving a small dark haired feline with electric blue eyes in its wake.
The crowd's low murmur exploded in volume when Luxio, who was apparently a foreign species to many, appeared from inside the ball.
"Luxio!" Barkley gasped, looking as stunned as everyone else. "How did you..." He stopped and gave Milo an appraising look and suddenly Milo's uneasiness bordered on panic.
Milo was surprised to see that Luxio seemed far more comfortable on stage than Fawkes. Instead of being fearful of so many eyes on him, Luxio seemed curious and almost pleased to have the audience's attention. Admittedly, Milo had only known Luxio for a few weeks, so the orphaned creature's gregarious nature came as a surprise.
"Amazing," Barkley said dreamily. "For those of us who have never traveled to the distant nation of Sinnoh, which is the only place in the world you can find Luxios, this is definately a treat to see a real live one up close like this. Amazing animals who can store static electricity in their fur and use it to shock predators or small prey."
Milo had seen Luxio's electric abilities on display a few days ago, and while they had been powerful enough too defeat a lowly Paras in the forest, Milo was surprised by how much adoration an icon like Dr. Barkley seemed to have towards such an innocent and diminutive monster like Luxio.
"Thank you for showing Luxio to us, Milo. Now, allow me to demonstrate on Luxio the patented Pokéball capture sequence."
The old man clicked the button on the ball and instantly a red laser beam shot out of the surface. Barkley aimed the beam at Luxio. Upon contact, Luxio's body began to glow and rapidly became brighter and brighter until suddenly, the entire ball of light was sucked into the ball which promptly snapped back shut like a Rattata trap. The crowd cheered as Barkley handed Luxio's ball back to Milo.
Dr. Barkley started to speak more technically about the science behind the ball's activity but a sudden outburst from the audience interrupted him.
"Dr. Barkley, you should be ashamed of yourself!" an amplified angry voice screamed suddenly from a second row seat.
The interruption made Milo and Mr. Barkley jump because of how loud and close it was. Fawkes howled louder than ever.
Milo's jaw dropped when he saw that the person who was shouting at Dr. Barkley was none other than the young bearded protester that Milo had seen out in front of City Hall back in Viridian City a few days ago. The young man was wearing what looked like the same grey wool sweater he had worn when Milo had last seen him and held the same handheld megaphone to his lips.
"Pokéballs are slavery!" the man bellowed angrily as he stood up out of his seat in an apparently rehersed and exactly-timed rant. "The university should be ashamed too, for inviting this mad scientist here and celebrating his evil invention, one that has fostered a society where we tolerate and reward the selfish emprisonment of monsters!"
Fawkes wailed hysterically again and trembled like it was freezing cold, clearly terrified of the booming amplified voice that seemed to explode with the acoustics of the auditorium.
"You see?!" the young man scouted defiantly. "Look how unhappy that Vulpix is being a human slave!"
The rest of the audience began to boo and heckle the young man, upset by his public disrespect and interruption of the presentation.
Dr. Barkley retained his composure though, despite how uncomfortable the situation was. Judging by his calm demeanor and lack of reaction, Milo figured that this was not the first time Barkley had dealt with protesters with how controversial the Pokéball was immediately after its inception.
Barkley smiled and replied, "I appreciate your concerns, Mr..."
"Eubanks, Zachary Eubanks with the Viridian City Chapter of the Kanto Humaine Association," the protester's voice again boomed through the megaphone, causing more Fawkes theatrics.
"Yes, Mr. Eubanks, like I was saying, I appreciate your concerns, but I assure you that--"
"Don't try to feed us some bullshit excuse, old man!" Eubanks bellowed. (More howls.) "There's no way to justify what you've done. Humans and monsters coexisted in peace and harmony for thousands of years, and then you came along! Who are you... who are we to decide that we are somehow superior to these creatures?! Who are we to steal their freedom and use them for our own selfish presonal gain?!"
And that's when Fawkes lost it.
Eubanks had yelled so loud into his megaphone that the terrified Vulpix suddenly leaped out of Milo's arms and let loose an ear-piercing wail rivaling the volume of Eubank's megaphone. While in midair, to everyone's amazement and shock, Fawkes suddenly shot a jet of yellow flames out of her mouth and straight at Eubanks in the audience.
The crowd gasped, and the front row spectators in the fire ball's path ducked. Eubanks screamed and his megaphone hit the floor with an echoing thud.
When the fire and smoke subsided, Eubanks remained standing, but his sweater was burned almost completely away so it looked like Eubanks was wearing a smoldering fishing net around his neck. His face and hair were charred and burned black with a look of humiliation and rage in his watery eyes.
There was a brief moment of stunned silence followed quickly by murmuring and muffled laughter and then outright applause from the audience of college students.
Milo's eyes were wide as he tried to stammer his apologies to the man, but he couldn't be heard over the amusement of everyone in the building. And admittedly, for Milo, the blow of embarrassment was softened by the audience's favorable response.
"Could security please escort Mr. Eubanks out of the auditorium and to the nurse's office?" the moderator said into the microphone, trying hard to force back a smirk.
A woozy Eubanks begrudgingly followed the uniformed security guards and limped back up the aisle and out of the room to the sound of more laughter and mock applause from the audience. The moderator waited for the crowd to die down before asking Dr. Barkley to continue with Milo.
"I'm so sorry, sir," Milo said immediately to Barkley.
"Don't be," Barkley replied with a wink. "And by the way... It looks like Mr. Bowers and his Battle Quest have themselves one dynamic contestant, don't they? A fire-breathing Vulpix and an ultra-rare Luxio from Sinnoh... quite the arsenal, indeed!"
Milo smiled uncomfortably and shook the outstretched hand of Barkley, who then surprised Milo by handing him his own empty Pokéball from his coat pocket.
"Here, Milo. I think this could be of use to Fawkes. She'll probably feel a little more comfortable inside."
Milo nodded. Even though he was still nervous in front of the audience, it felt exciting when he pushed the orb's button and aimed the protruding red laser at Fawkes in his arms. Just like Luxio, Fawkes slowly de-materized and was stored safely inside the device.
The crowd clapped again at the bonus demonstration.
"Well, that's all the time we have," the moderator announced after the crowd had settled down. "A very special thanks to our volunteer, Milo, for coming up on stage and helping with the demonstration... and to his Vulpix and her very timely display of power as well! And of course, to Dr. Kurtis Barkley as well for being here with us today!"
The clapping grew into agreeing applause. Milo felt funny standing on stage for this, but Barkley had his hand on his shoulder as though he should stay and soak up the cheers.
"Thank you everyone for coming! Enjoy the rest of your day. Dr. Barkley has been kind enough to stick around for a brief question and answer period. If any of you have any individual questions for Dr. Barkley, you may form a line near the front of the stage, and he will do his best to answer them."
After the thankful applause gradually stopped, students began shuffling and pouring towards the exits. A few followed the moderator's request and lined up at the foot of the stage to ask their questions.
"It was great meeting you, Milo," Barkley said, shaking his hand again. "I'll be sure to follow your progress in the Battle Quest. Thanks again for coming up... and be sure to thank Fawkes and Luxio for me too."
"I will. Thank you sir. And thank you for the Pokeball."
With that, Barkley began walking over towards the line of students to begin his question and answer session. As Milo took the first step down off the stage, he looked out into the crowd. He saw Rena still in his seat with an expression of both disbelief and admiration on her face from afar.
Milo didn't know why or how, but the look Rena was giving him made him immediately walk over to Dr. Barkley who had yet to accept the first question from what was left of the audience.
"Excuse me, sir," Milo said, tapping Barkley on the shoulder.
"Yes, my boy?"
"Sorry to bother you again, but I was wondering... My friend back there, she's a student jounalist with the Maple Plain Tribune. She's doing a story on the Battle Quest, and I was just wondering..."
"Milo, I'd love to give her an interview if that's what you're asking," Barkley said genuinely before Milo could finish.
"Of course. Any friend of yours is a friend of mine. Just let me talk to these students. Tell you what, why don't you and your friend meet me at Jessie's Diner just a few blocks off campus in an hour or so. Everyone in town has been telling me it's the best in town and that I've got to try it. How about I buy you dinner and we can do the interview there."
"Wow, thank you sir!" Milo gushed. "I'll see you there."
He shook Barkley's hand once more before hurrying off the stage, feeling the adrenaline rush through his veins. Impressed college students who were still straggling throughout the auditorium cheered and high-fived and patted Milo on the back as he passed them down the center aisle towards Rena's seat.
"Hey kid! Awesome job handling that bearded idiot!"
"Haha, way to go!"
"Good luck with the Battle Quest, Milo!"
Milo got back to where Rena was still seated and realized a smirk was trying to inch across his face. Seeing Rena instantly erased it, however. She was laughing and shaking her head like she knew Fawkes' outburst had been totally accidental therefore making the crowd's admiration of Milo for torching Zachary Eubanks hilarious beyond belief.
Milo ignored her and just sat back down next to Rena in their now empty row of seats and watched Dr. Barkley answer questions. As he did so, however, a smile finally perservered and stretched wide. A real, sincere smile.
Eventually, his smile turned into chuckle. Soon, both he and Rena were laughing together. Milo couldn't remember the last time he had genuinely laughed. He knew what Rena was thinking was accurate, but he didn't care anymore. She had already known that Milo had no clue about what he was doing, but no one else knew that. Even he could see the humor in that.
The two of them enjoyed the moment for a while before exhausting their laughter. After both of them had collected themselves, Milo suddenly remembered what Dr. Barkley had told him.
"Oh, and by the way, Dr. Barkley says he'd be glad to sit down with you. Jessie's Diner in about an hour. He's gonna meet us there, and you'll get your interview."
Rena didn't say anything initially. She just looked at him like he had just spoken to her in a foreign language. Milo was about to ask her if she had heard him, but she suddenly regained her vigor and whispered harshly in what reminded Milo of an Arbok hiss.
"I swear to all that is holy, Milo Youngblood, if you are messing with me, I'm going to personally make sure you never have children... Ever."
Suddenly fearful, imagining such pain, Milo quickly convinced Rena that he was indeed serious. Her emotional fluxuation from skeptical to elated but then safely back to a more reserved, professional satisfaction was actually quite comical as it happened before his eyes.
"I... I can't believe it... Thank you," she said with more genuine friendliness than normal.
"It's the least I could do."
Milo felt good. He had no idea how it had happened, but it was nice to see the look of excitement in Rena's eyes, especially after he had embarrassed her in front of her schoolmates back in Maple Plain.
After basking in satisfaction for a few moments while Dr. Barkley continued fielding questions up front, Milo stood up.
"Well, shall we?" Milo asked.
Rena nodded, and the two of them made their way to the exits.
After exiting Legacy Hall, Rena immediately flagged down a passing student and asked her where to find Jessie's Diner. Luckily, it wasn't far, only two blocks off campus.
"Well, I guess it wouldn't hurt to get there a little early," Milo said as they started walking in the direction the girl had pointed them in.
"I just realized," Rena said, stopping in her tracks. "I only brought two changes of clothes. I don't have a decent thing to wear for this interview."
Milo was surprised. He didn't take Rena as one of those prissy girls who worshiped clothes and makeup, but he understood. He actually thought what Rena had on was quite nice, but admittedly, probably not business attire. Plus, this was no ordinary interview. This was Dr. Barkley, not some pimply-faced member of the Maple Plain student body.
"Well, this is a college town," Milo said. "There's bound to be some place where you can get clothes around here."
Sure enough, not five minutes after they had exited the school grounds, Rena spotted a small dress boutique on the corner.
"Okay, I'm going to go see if they have anything that might be presentable," she said. "Jessie's is supposed to be just a few blocks down. Why don't you go ahead and get us a table? I'll meet you there."
And so Rena took off on a fast trot across the street towards the boutique, leaving Milo by himself on the sidewalk. What a day it had been so far. As he continued towards the diner, he was finally afforded a chance to process just how incredible it had been to meet Dr. Barkley. And Fawkes... Fawkes!
He immediately replayed in his head her amazing pyrotecnic display on stage. It had been so nerve-racking up there that It had been nearly impossible to wrap his mind around her breakthrough until now.
Milo reached into both jeans pockets and took out the Pokeballs of both Fawkes and Luxio, leaving Spearow's inside. Looking around to check that he wouldn't attract a crowd, he then tossed them on the sidewalk in front of them. With a flash, both of his companions appeared and gazed up at him. Standing next to each other on the ground at his feet, Milo remembered what Barkley had said:
"It looks like Mr. Bowers and his Battle Quest has themselves one dynamic contestant, don't they? A fire-breathing Vulpix and an ultra-rare Luxio from Sinnoh... quite the arsenal, indeed!"
Was Barkley simply being polite with Milo on stage, or did he really feel that Milo, Fawkes and Luxio had an actual chance in this contest?
Obviously, he lacked the experience to warrant the black-slapping he had gotten for charring the protester. That had all been dumb luck. But for the first time since leaving his computer games and his warm, safe bedroom at home, Milo felt the unmistakable flickering of confidence inside him.
He removed Danny's baseball cap and ran his fingers through his hair before replacing the hat deliberately, pulling the bill down low as he remembered seeing his brother do.
Figuring that Fawkes and Luxio must be hungry, Milo took out one of the former's special food pellets. He didn't know what Luxios were supposed to eat, probably not Vulpix food, so he tossed the pellet on the ground for Fawkes and took out his cell phone to research Luxio diets.
But before he could so much as get the phone out of his pocket, the sound of growling, hissing and barking interrupted him.
Luxio's teeth were bared, his midnight blue fur standing on edge as he hissed angrily at Fawkes opposite him. And Fawkes, who Milo had rarely seen so aggressive, was showing her teeth as well with the lone morsel of food standing in between the two small monsters, evidently the prize of the fight.
Milo's first instinct was to quickly recall both monsters to their respective Pokeballs and prevent a scene right here in the middle of Cedar Ridge, especially once blue sparks of electricity started flashing from Luxio's pelt.
But suddenly, faint, grey smoke began billowing from Fawkes furious jaw amd out her ears as well. And then, small triangles of yellow and oragne flame started protruding as well.
"Fawkes!" Milo blurted out, surprised that she was again displaying such power.
Curiousity beat out common sense, and Milo stood back to watch what would happen between his hungry pets.
Fawkes made the first move, shocking Milo with another well-placed mini-jet of flames. The beam of fire barely missed an agile Luxio, who growled menacingly and followed the attack by shooting a small bolt of blue electricity at Fawkes.
The sheer power behind both of these elemental displays seemed to jar Milo back to reality. He knew it was a crime to let monsters fight randomly out in public like this where bystanders might get hurt. Holding a Pokeball in each hand, he immediately returned both to their chambers before they could further attack each other and took a deep exhale.
While he was relieved that no one had been close enough to see what had happened, Milo felt a rush of excitement burst through his veins. How awesome was that?!
The energy Milo had now propelled him to sprint all the way to Jessie's Diner, which he found easily due to all the people crowded around the large glass building. Dr. Barkley was right, this certainly was a popular place.
Once inside the modern eatery, he immediately spotted Rena, who had beaten him there. She was easy to find sitting alone in a booth near the front. She was already wearing her new outfit that she had bought.
Much like the business-appropriate ensemble she had been wearing when Milo had first met her in the Maple Plain Pokemon Center, Rena was wearing a very classy-looking white button-down shirt and a daringly short black skirt, which Milo was careful not to stare at for too long. Secretly, he wondered what was so different about this outfit as opposed to her other one, but he knew better than to ask.
"Hey, nice outfit," he said as casually as he could as he slid into the booth across from her.
"Thanks," she replied without looking up from her notes. "Where have you been?"
Milo told her all about what had happened with Fawkes and Luxio outside, but Rena was understandably preoccupied and nervous about meeting Dr. Barkley. He watched as she wrote down exactly what questions she was going to ask him and listened as she recited them over and over with different emphases of different words.
As the minutes passed, the tension seemed to get thicker and thicker. Milo ordered some food for something to do while Rena continued to torture herself with anxiety.
"He should be here by now," she said.
"He said he'd be here," Milo replied. "He's an important guy. I'm sure he just got caught up in the Q and A session."
As the minutes turned into more than an hour, Milo was becoming less sure that Barkley would walk through the front door. Rena, who had now also ordered a plate of food was again not speaking to Milo.
"He's not coming," she finally said as soon as she had finished her salad and pushed back her plate.
"I don't get it," Milo said, still nervous at that Rena might blame him. "He said he was coming. I wonder what happened?"
To Be Continued...
Last edited by Legacy; 15th March 2012 at 02:19 AM.
That there, is the one typo I spotted, and it sort of stood out considering how few there were, like finding a shiny mon in a pile of regular ones :PRena had an annoyed yet thoughtful look on her face, and Milo felt oddly proud of what he had just said
Anyway, great chapter, I like the detail you gave the pokéball, and also its effects. Fawkes’ personality is being shown more and more, same with Luxio, and that is of course a great thing. Keep up the good work, I think this might have gotten rid of my writer’s block xD
*Pokemon center healing sound*
*Nurse Joy smiles and gives the Pokeball containing the fanfic inside back to the author*
There! All happy and healthy!
We wish you good luck, and hope to see you writing again!
Wow. Nice Chapter. I don't really know what I'm trying to say right now but it was a good chapter with a nice cliffhanger in it.
You had better not take a few months with this next chapter though
Here are the typos i found other then the one already pointed out.
Thank you Soulmaster! Good eyes!
I will change those accordingly :)
Very interesting developments indeed - and especially a neat backstory for the Poke Ball. I guess it still holds true in this revamp that you never piss off Fawkes. And now we have Luxio - the ultra-rare to Kantoians impressionist. Oh, and Spearow, but it seems "who cares about Spearow" is also holding true. And finally, lolololollloloololol Legacy Hall.
So, I wonder what's next for our soon-to-be very testicleless hero?
Don't know what to put here.
I couldn't resist naming such a grand facility after myself XD
J/k. I didn't know what else to call it.
Hmmmmmm I didn't expect for Fawkes to seemingly become battle ready that quick. Especially since I've always thought of the Vulpix as a meek, and inexperienced rookie. Plus Milo said before that he wishes he could teach Fawkes how to breath fire, and I don't see how Fawkes could just breath fire like that since she has no battle experience, of course this could be because Fawkes was under extreme pressure and people have shown to do things they normally can't under hard situations. I didn't expect Fawkes to get so temperamental and angry over that food or be able to use the fire again so easily and to battle Luxio, I guess it could be chalked up to normal primal instinct though, plus I guess it's ok given Milo will be coming up to the first Coin Keeper and I'm not sure how a baby non-breathing Fire Type, an Electric Type, and an inexperienced Flying Type would fare. Either way I look forward to the next chapter ^^
This is getting exciting. I wonder what happened to the doctor. Kidnapped? I look forward to chapter 8. Just a question though, how old is the pokeball? It's not the same as the monster balls in the original Pocket Monsters, or is this taking place before the video games/anime? Maybe hard to say, since we don't know exact what year Pocket Monsters take place in.
Captain Lincoln Stern, you stand here accused of...
12 counts of murder in the first degree
14 counts of armed theft of Federation property
22 counts of piracy in high space
18 counts of fraud
37 counts of rape
and 1 moving violation....how do you plead?
So there's more to Fawkes than meets the eye. I will certainly wait for this to be explored more obviously, though it seems to only come out when she's annoyed or scared, though I wonder why it didn't come out during the fight against Paras.
I really liked Dr. Barkely, he was really open to Milo and was even impressed. That being said I bet that he got captured or something and if he did then it would suck for Milo cause he had finally gotten Rena to stand him once more.
I just spent the better part of an hour reading this. It is absolutely amazing. It's such a fresh start to the Pokémon universe, and it incorporates a lot of things that I've always thought of changing/doing. I'm glad you did this, because it makes any attempt I've ever made look pathetic. My favorite part, without a doubt, is the battle on television at the beginning. It really captures the essence of a professional sporting event... giving the teams names and making each trainer be an individual part of the team really resonates with me, because I love sports. It's actually how I've imagined televised battles going. I also like how the journey is made to be more like a contest instead of just something for kids to do when they turn 10, haha.
Credit to Blue Dragon for the banner.
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