A Bad Excuse For A Story
Target Pokemon: Machop, Oddish
Difficulty: Simple, Simple
Target Length: 10k - 20k
Actual Length: 16,734
There was darkness. In fact, darkness doesn’t even explain it. There was nothingness. Pure blackness, where existence itself was impossible.
Then, suddenly, there was a flash. A bright white light that would have blinded anyone permanently had they been there. The light faded to a dull shine, and in the very centre of the nothingness was a pair of old English chairs, made of fancy oak wood and red fabric, resting on a floor of pure darkness. The wood was delicately carved in swirling patterns that trailed from the chairs’ upper rims all the way down to their feet. The fabric was plush and attached to the chair perfectly, without a single wrinkle. The light between them was constant, although it had faded from pure white to a lemon-yellow, much like that of an old fluorescent light bulb.
The chairs sat there in the middle of the nothingness for a minute. Suddenly, a couple of Pokemon wandered into the light. One was gray and humanoid, about the size of a young child. It had three brown ridges on the top of its head and large red eyes that were solemn and serious. The other couldn’t have been more different. It was much smaller, perhaps half as big. It had a round blue body, and two small feet. Out of the top of its head grew a small number of bristly green leaves, and its eyes were red as well. However, these eyes bubbled with mirth.
The humanoid Pokemon walked over to the left-hand chair and climbed up into it, sitting comfortably against the back-rest. The plant-like one used its two stubby legs to hop up into the right-hand chair, and perched happily on the chair’s edge.
“Hello there, my name is Machop,” the gray-skinned humanoid introduced itself.
“Nice to meet you, I’m Oddish,” the plant replied.
There was silence for a couple seconds, and then Oddish spoke up.
“So, do you know why we’re here?” it asked.
“We are in a story, written for the purpose of obtaining some virtual Pokemon to be used in an online forum-based game called the URPG,” Machop replied calmly.
“How do you know this?” Oddish asked curiously.
“I just do.” Machop shrugged.
Both Pokemon fell silent again, watching the endless darkness around them.
“Well then, who is the author?” Oddish asked. “And why are they writing this story?”
The Machop was quiet for a moment before speaking up. “The person writing this story is called ChainReaction01, and he is writing it for his friend Bumblebee. Bee, as ChainReaction01 calls him, is too lazy to write for a couple of hours so ChainReaction01 is doing it for him.”
“So this Bee wants an Oddish and a Machop?”
“It sure seems that way.”
Oddish smiled happily. “Well then, we should do everything we can to help Bee and Chainy!”
“Why did you call him Chainy?”
“Oh, I don’t know, it seems to fit.”
“Well then, how do we help?” Oddish asked.
Machop sighed. “Alas, that I do not know. Everything I know I have told you.”
The light between the two Pokemon grew bright again. Oddish squeaked in surprise and shut its eyes closed tight while Machop covered its face with its hands. When the light faded, two small tables were in front of the chairs, and on each table was a compact laptop computer. The laptops were open and the screen was displaying a light-green webpage. Machop grunted satisfactorily.
“Perhaps we can find some answers using these,” it said, leaning forwards and pressing a few keyboard buttons experimentally with its fingers.
“But do I use mine?” Oddish asked in distress.
Machop was too busy perusing the internet forum, so Oddish decided to solve the problem itself. It pulled its table closer with its feet and used the centremost leaf in its crown to press one button at a time. It chuckled happily and began surfing the site.
“Yes, it is as I thought, this is the URPG,” Machop said slowly, “or at least a subdivision.”
“What is Pikachu in a Highchair?” Oddish asked curiously.
“Probably some elitist society designed for the snobbiest of old-timers,” Machop replied disdainfully, waving its hand dismissively. It pressed a few more buttons before smiling satisfactorily.
“Here it is, under The Grading Group & Grader Information thread,” Machop announced. “In order to a story to pass and the author obtain the Pokemon one of these ‘Graders’ needs to pass it.”
“Yeah, it looks like each story needs to be well rounded in a certain number of areas,” Oddish confirmed, having stumbled across the very same page.
“Very well, let us look at the most important points of a story. I would say that they are Introduction, Plot, Dialogue, Grammar, Description, Climax, and Length.”
“Sounds about right to me.”
“It looks like this ChainReaction01-“
“Chainy,” Oddish interrupted.
Machop sighed and rolled its eyes. “Fine, Chainy,” the Pokemon said slowly, as if the very word was poisonous. “This Chainy has written quite a few stories already, so this one will probably be judged fairly harshly.”
“That’s okay, though, I’m sure he’ll do fine!” Oddish exclaimed happily.
Machop rolled its eyes again. “The first section is Introduction. Does the introduction of the story grab the readers’ attention? Is it a multi-part story?”
“Well, this is the first time I’ve ever been here,” Oddish said. “What about you?”
“No, this is my first time too. That is one worry gone.”
“Well, how did this start?”
Machop pressed a few more keys and then grunted satisfactorily. “Aha, again, just as I suspected. These laptops must be linked somehow to the author’s – I can read the story here as he writes it.”
“But how is that possible?”
Machop shrugged. “It is his story, he can do whatever he wants, I suppose. Anyway, the story begins like so: There was darkness. In fact, darkness doesn’t even explain it. There was nothingness. Pure blackness, where existence itself was impossible.”
Oddish’s lips pursed. “Bit cheesy, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it seems like Chainy tends to thrive on melodrama. Nevertheless, the appearance of the chairs is unforeseen, and is a suitable metaphor for an idea beginning. Besides, the beginning of this story has already happened, so there is nothing we can do about it. Let us move on to ways we can actually help Chainy.”
“Yeah, sounds good,” Oddish replied, bouncing slightly in excitement. The leaves on its head swayed up and down gently in response. “What about Plot? It seems to me that this idea – a pair of Pokemon reading about how to write a good story – is jumping the shark a little bit.”
“I cannot deny that is true, although at least it probably has not been done before. Besides, we are only Simple-rank Pokemon, not Complex ones like Pawniard or Riolu.”
“That’s not fair.” Oddish pouted. “I can be just as good in battle as a stinky old Riolu.”
Machop raised an eyebrow but decided not to comment. “Nevertheless, just like the Introduction, we cannot really do anything more about the Plot. We are here, and we are talking about the writing of a URPG story. Let us move on.”
“Okay, next up is Dialogue,” Oddish read aloud off the list. “We’ve talked a lot during this story, that counts as “dialogue” right?”
“Not exactly. Good dialogue is not just talking, it is about being able to develop and recognise a character by their spoken lines alone.”
“I don’t understand the difference,” Oddish said confusedly.
“I did not think you would,” Machop sighed. “Do not worry about it. We are communicating clearly, and each of us seems to have certain verbal tics. For example, so far I have avoided contractions.”
“What’s a contraction?”
Machop buried its face in its hands. “Forget about it. Let us just move on. What is the next section we need to worry about?”
“The next word on this list is Grammar,” Oddish replied.
“Well, that is one issue we don’t have to worry about too much,” Machop said satisfactorily. “Chainy has an English teacher for a mother and is already a fully-fledged URPG Grader, if somewhat inactive. He’s apparently being very careful with speech tags and his use of commas.”
“Doing good so far, big guy!” Oddish called out into the darkness.
The universe rumbled slightly in appreciation before stilling again. Oddish smiled and resumed bouncing up and down. Machop sighed.
“Like I said, he should be okay regarding grammar,” the gray-skinned humanoid reiterated. “Next up is Description.”
“I’m pretty sure he described my cute blue body and my fantastic leaves,” Oddish said happily. “I mean, they’re the first things you notice when you look at me.”
“Yes, and he has probably waxed eloquent about my fantastic physique,” Machop agreed, subconsciously flexing its bicep muscles. “Still, I have this feeling that says it is not enough.”
“What else is there to describe, though? He’s talked about both of us and this lovely set-up. If he was to create extra scenery, the Grader could accuse him of waffling on needlessly.”
Machop pursed its lips. “Good point. It looks like he will just have to wait for a little bit. What is next?”
“Ummm, it’s the Climax. Does that mean like a battle?” Oddish asked, its little eyes shining brightly.
“It does not always mean a battle,” Machop replied. “The standard climax is a battle, agreed, but it does not necessarily need to be one. For example, look at Chainy’s second story: Escaping Authority – a damn fine story, by the look of it too. The climax in this story was a car chase as the protagonist escaped from a boarding school.”
“Wow, that does sound exciting,” Oddish said enthusiastically. “Still, I think the best climax for this story would be a battle.”
“You just want to fight,” Machop accused the plant Pokemon. It gave him an innocent look but didn’t deny the charges.
“Still, I fear you may be right. Besides, if we spar, we will be able to help Chainy out by giving him more things to describe.”
The universe rumbled happily again. Oddish bounced up and down happily once more.
“So, shall we just do it right here?” it asked.
“Let us go off a way so that we do not destroy these beautiful chairs,” Machop suggested.
Oddish nodded, and both Pokemon slipped down off the beautiful seats. The lightbulb followed them as they moved away, but the light from the laptop screens was still visible, ensuring that the pair of Pokemon wouldn’t lose them in the darkness.
“Well, shall we begin?” Machop suggested rather formally.
“Oooh yes, let’s!” Oddish exclaimed excitedly, bouncing up and down. Without delay, the plant Pokemon launched its first attack. The long green leaves on its head shook, and a cluster of circular leaves shot out towards Machop. The humanoid dodged the group of projectiles by crouching down low – the leaves shot over its head.
“Ahhh, a Razor Leaf. As expected of a Grass type,” Machop said, straightening back up. “Now, allow me to show you the power of the Fighting type!”
The humanoid lunged forward and grabbed the Grass-type’s body with its supple fingers. The Machop then jumped up into the air off the black floor and began somersaulting as it did so. When Machop reached the apex of its jump, it threw Oddish towards the ground. The little plant smashed into the hardened darkness and cried out shrilly in pain.
“I hope you’re getting some good description out of this, Chainy,” Oddish muttered as Machop landed back on the ground.
The leaves on Oddish’s head rustled again, but this time a cloud of fine purple powder drifted out from amongst them. The powder began to drift out in all directions, and Machop took a step backwards.
“A Poisonpowder, very clever,” it congratulated. “If I was to be poisoned, I would be slowly weakened throughout our battle, putting me at a serious disadvantage. However, there is something you forgot to account for.”
“Oh? What’s that?”
“My Ability, Guts,” Machop said dramatically. “If I am burned, paralysed or poisoned, my attack power rises.”
Oddish gulped as Machop deliberately stepped forwards and inhaled some of the purple cloud. The Fighting type coughed a couple times, and its gray cheeks turned a little purple. However, being poisoned didn’t make the Pokemon look sickly – in fact, just the opposite. Machop’s muscles bulged and a vein popped out on its forehead. Oddish began quivering – it knew it was in deep trouble now.
“Anoter great thing about the Fighting type,” Machop continued, “is our versatility. We have access to many interesting and rare abilities, like my Guts, but in addition to this most of us can use the ‘elemental punches’.”
“Geez, it sounds like someone has a boner for Fighting Pokemon,” Oddish muttered, shooting a look out into the darkness. The universe rumbled warningly.
Machop held its right fist out in front of itself, and a cold wind stirred. Small blue crystals began to grow around its wrist, and they slowly expanded until Machop’s entire fist was covered in a big cluster of ice cubes. The humanoid ran towards Oddish and punched it viciously in the face, knocking the plant backwards. Oddish was quick to retaliate, though – a spray of green goop ejected from the plant’s mouth hit Machop in the chest and face. Machop groaned disgustedly.
“What foulness is this?” it asked.
“That’s my Gastro Acid,” Oddish replied smugly.
Machop’s face fell, and it went a little pale.
“That’s right, now your Guts won’t raise your attack power any more. Gastro Acid neutralises your Ability.”
“That is fine, I do not need it,” Machop hissed. “I can raise my power by myself.”
The Machop began to flex its muscles while squatting up and down. Its arms and legs bunched up as it Bulked Up, raising its physical abilities through exercise and sheer will alone.
Oddish watched this carefully, and the plant realised that the battle was about to be decided. It began swaying from side to side and shuffling its little feet in an adorable little dance. Its crown of leaves shook and began to glow. Suddenly the light hovering over the battlefield grew in intensity and changed in colour from a sickly yellow to a powerful orange.
“Sunny Day. Big mistake,” Machop said. It held out its fist, exactly like he had when beginning the Ice Punch. This time, however, orange flames began to flare up around its hand. The powerful light obviously wasn’t doing Oddish any favours – it was powering up the Fire Punch, causing the seething fireball to grow to about the size of Machop’s head.
“Is there anything you have to say before you finish this?” Machop asked Oddish.
“Yes, actually, I do,” the Grass type replied. “There’s obviously one thing you don’t know about Chainy. Sure, he likes Fighting types, but he likes Grass types better.”
A huge golden-green beam of energy blasted towards Machop from the Oddish, ploughing into the humanoid Pokemon and knocking him backwards. The Fire Punch was extinguished out of the sheer shock of the blow. A second energy blast followed the first almost immediately, this one knocking Machop onto its back.
“But how? Even with increased sunlight, you should not be able to fire off Solarbeams that quickly,” Machop asked, shocked.
“Now you’re the one forgetting an Ability,” Oddish replied. “My Chlorophyll helps me move twice as fast as usual when in direct sunlight.”
A third Solarbeam shot out from Oddish, smacking into Machop and pushing him along the hardened black of the floor. Machop cried out in surprise and pain before holding its hand up.
“Alright, okay, I concede,” he called out. “A good battle.”
“Yay! I won!” Oddish exclaimed happily. The little plant ran back to its chair and hopped up while Machop limped back to the set. The light followed the Fighting-type, slowly returning to its usual yellow colour while it did so.
“Are you okay?” Oddish asked when Machop was close.
“Yes, I am quite fine,” the humanoid Pokemon replied as it clambered back up into its chair. “I daresay that the author has increased our healing rates so as not to cause us any un-necessary pain.”
“That’s awfully nice of him.” Oddish grinned.
“Yes, well, hopefully he got some good descriptions out of that bout,” Machop said, returning to business. “The last section is one called Length. Seeing as we are both Simple rank Pokemon, Chainy only needs to write ten thousand characters.”
“Well, it looks like he’s already got over sixteen thousand of them.” Oddish consulted the laptop.
“In that case, assuming he has described the battle sufficiently, we’re all done here,” Machop said, satisfied.
“I hope you get your Pokemon!” Oddish called out into the darkness.
“It is just a pity that our existence ends here.” Machop sighed.
“Oh, I don’t think it will.” Oddish smiled. “We’ll live on as the virtual Pokemon that Chainy gets. Assuming, of course, the Grader gives them to him.”
“True.” Machop smiled, a truly warm smile, for the first time ever.
“Hear that, Grader?” Oddish yelled. “You should totally give those Pokemon to Chainy, otherwise you’re a MURDERER!”
Machop sighed and covered its face with its hands.