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Thread Description
This is the story of a girl who's tired of pretending // Updates every other Thursday

localhoney

~either i'm careless or i wanna get caught~
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
2002
Caught
May 17, 2020
Messages
66
Location
Miami, FL
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
Electric, Poison
Pokédex Entry
Localhoney, the Sweet Toxin Pokemon. It's said that the sounds it emits can paralyze even a Gigantamax Grimmsnarl.
And with that, I have finally caught up! Now what am I going to read when I'm getting ready to write??

I've already told you how great I think this story is and how much it's inspired me but reading it all back to back makes it all the more obvious what a great writer you are. I really feel for Lillian all the way through, especially at the end of the Dewford scene when she mentions settling down in her future. Also, you might dread writing the battles but I look forward to them. They all feel tight and snappy, and I feel like I'm sitting in the audience with Wally at all times.

Speaking of Wally, his backstory was wild. Thank Arceus for Jirachi, I guess! I'm glad they've finally started to warm up to each other outwardly because that means we edge ever closer to them actually getting together and Wally forgetting about May. Fuck May.

I was very sad when Sage died but I was incredibly excited for the addition of Virgil since Chimchar is a favorite 'mon of mine. I love that he's her Pokemon but he prefers Wally, adds a nice little quirk to their relationship that they'll have to get over aha. Plus, I love the characterization of Lillian's Pokemon so I know Isobel and Virgil are gonna be great additions to the team dynamic.

When Steven said the title of the story, I actually got shivers! I didn't know when to expect the reason for the title, so it catching me off guard as Steven drops it so casually with a cigarette in hand was awesome. Can't wait for the next update!
 

Whozawhatcha

i have too many projects
Pokédex No.
486
Caught
Jul 12, 2019
Messages
59
Nature
Lonely
Pokémon Type
Fire, Flying
Oh what do you MEAN that's it?? Girl I so swear if you hurt one of my favorite champions I will hunt you down. Ugh.

Okay so. Comments at work are hard but I'll try to deliver as much as I can.

Lillian and Wally have both definitely grown on me a whole lot this second half of the story compared to the first half. Wally? Still a little peckish, but I think it comes from both him AND Lillian having a shit ton to prove. Like, goddamn does the world really have it out for the two of them. It's going to make it even more satisfying when they eventually become our lovely end couple goals, especially since Wally was burned so bad.

And speaking of Wally-- mah boy?? Jesus what a turn for the worst, Brendan is Best Boy and deserves medals for being the bestest friend, jeez. (Brendan is so wild and fun and quirky, he adds so much to the story.) And also Wally dealing with an abusive girlfriend is so sad, but I really REALLY enjoy that route of emasculation! You really dont see many fics or stories where the male has to deal with an abusive girlfriend, and that's made so effective here and adds so much depth to Wally. (Might also explain some of Wally and Lilians more fierce arguments back in the day.) You handle both Wally and Lillians backstories well, and those backgrounds really reflect the way they approach things in the present. Hats off to you.

Your pokemon? Lovely little bastards, I love them, and it's so exciting to see Mira grow up! I've been wilin' over here cause you've just NOW evolved Mira when by now you've gotta be hitting lvl30 in game against Flannery. To be fair, I'm skeptical of how easily Lillian is sweeping these gym leaders? My theory is, mom is paying the gym leaders to throw the battles with their aces (very suspiciously dropping in one hit, like Flannery, or no hits like with the makuhita.) That way she can put the blame on Lillian for "buying" her way through the circuit and cheating her way through, effectively undermining everything she's trying to prove.

Also, Team Aqua?? Excuse me?? We've only had a couple scuffles and they are scary bitches, wtf, you cant just casually kill people, that's against the law ma'am. That being said, I'm VERY excited to finally meet Archie.

Hum, slow romance is great, the "I'm flirting with you but not really, baka" vibes are strong with these two. And I was REALLY sad to see the yanma go! I had such high Hope's for a yanmega!
 

csidvuL

Conqueror of the Goldenrod Gym
Writer
Pokédex No.
31
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
238
wally ain't never gonna say "who died?" as a joke again holy shit

hot springs were rad

I covered a fair bit of ground catching up! You'd think it would leave me with more to say, but I've ended up in a kind of paralysis due to it.

Noticed a noticeable uptick in quality recently, again! You've been working hard and it shows, as you are at a point where you're moving from strength to strength. I think this is emblematic in how the characterisation of our leads is evolving, and in how you're fleshing out the supporting cast around them. Brendan in particular! I realised that I really felt for the poor bugger with this latest chapter. I also appreciate how well you manage his appearances. He never quite feels like a third wheel, nor does he ever skate into "rival romantic interest" territory unwittingly. Balancing that is a skill.

Anyway, very excited for upcoming chapters! Have seen a couple of bits and pieces recently and they are well worth the hype.
 

Rhema

Conqueror of the Azalea Gym
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
212
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
209
Location
Hearthome City
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/Her/Hers
Pokémon Type
Fire, Psychic
Pokédex Entry
She tries her best, but doesn't succeed. She gets what she wants but not what she needs.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #144
Happy Friday, all!

Stopping by to drop a piece of exciting/cool news: As Above, So Below is now available on AO3! This was an incredibly random and spur-of-the-moment decision fueled by my own boredom, but I'm pumped about it! This forum will always be my preferred method of posting, but this is a cool option too. If you'd prefer to read my chapters on AO3, here's the link: https://archiveofourown.org/works/24558766/chapters/59307034

Thank you all for your continued support, by the way. I've gotten several very juicy comments this week and it's just made me so happy. Can't wait for next week's chapter; it's a doozy!
 

cyndakip

there goes my luck
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
335
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
I really enjoyed the gym battle! But yikes, that ending... Steven had better be okay! You can't just kill him off like that! I'm anxiously awaiting the next chapter to find out what's going on...
 

Missy

i left my heart in alola
Writer
Pokédex No.
94
Caught
Jun 16, 2019
Messages
91
Nature
Lax
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Tough
Pokédex Entry
just missy now
Hello! Thought I'd drop by and leave a comment on this lovely story.

Firstly, this is an incredibly smooth story. Some stories present a little resistance when you're first getting into them, like water tension where you need to work past that layer before you really slide into it, but yours doesn't quite have that. It's got polish. The prose is easy and digestible and it cranks up when it needs to.

The dialogue is what shines, though. When I told my gf that I'd be reading this, she told me that the banter was the thing to stay for, and she wasn't lying! Lilian and Wally develop a great chemistry without every losing that slightly antagonistic edge that they start out with (mostly due to Wally being stubbornly pessimistic, but Lilian's not one to be out-quipped). There isn't a dull conversation with these two. Actually, there isn't a dull conversation in the whole fic.

I noticed that you said you weren't good at writing battles, but I don't think that's the case at all. Your skills with prose absolutely extend to your battles, but if I had to give a tip on how you might improve them, it would just be a reminder that you don't have to be beholden to the gameplay to such a faithful degree. You're 100% free creatively to interpret the battles as you wish. I was kind of disappointed when the battle against Flannery ended in such an anti-climax. I was looking forward to Mira being able to strut her stuff and all the lovely ways you'd describe it, haha.

Mira is such a sweetie. I love the personalities you give to all the Pokemon. I especially like Virgil (maybe I'm biased because he's a Chimchar, lol), and the bit where he evolved specifically to woo that Jigglypuff made me laugh out loud. Oh my god! What a dumb little sweetie.

And y'know what? Believe it or not, I'm really excited to see more of May Maple in the story. She was a complete surprise when she showed up. Like good god, what a personality. But I want her to make a return. You've set her up to be a really interesting figure in the story. It's clear from how her backstory was described that she only started behaving so negatively once she entered the contest world, and, I mean, this run's whole thesis is basically "inherent sexism in the show business = bad" so I can't help but imagine that she must have experienced similar pressures to Lilian and just reacted in a completely different direction. I love narrative foils!

The way Lilian immediately reacts to her says so much about Lilian, too. Just the way that May is described before she even utters a single word reveals a lot about Lilian's internal biases. It's obvious that she's associating skimpy clothing with her time as an MC and has an immediate negative reaction to it. Pssh, low cut shirts aren't evil, Lilian! But it's still understandable that she'd react that way. I can't wait to see Lilian really coming to terms with how her upbringing and subsequent trauma has shaped her, for better or for worse.

Like! God, I love this. I mean, I don't LOVE it, I love it as a story element. But Lilian has obviously internalized the sexism of the contest world herself. It's just in the fact that she constantly reacts the strongest to other women. Either physically (by slapping May) or subtly in her narration, like how all her most vitriolic insults are reserved for women (May again, and Gabby). And then she just lets Brendan off the hook when he tries to jump her even though he ought to know her triggers? It's such a tasty storytelling element. (I mean, you've read my run. I ADORE my deeply flawed protags)

Both her and Wally have been damaged by the contest world (Wally if only tangentially, but still), and after the hot springs scene I'm psyched to see where that goes. You've done a great job setting them up with some real romantic potential. One of your authors notes was really funny to me. It was something like "this is for everyone who ships Lilian and Wally" and I was like "so you mean EVERYONE? you mean everyone. shipping them is, like, one of the main points here". Who do you think you're fooling? haha. It's going to be such a delight watching them support each other in their individual recoveries. I really like the steady progression of Lilian being comfortable presenting her body on her own terms. First its on the beach and then in the hot springs. Lilian can do whatever she wants with her presentation, but it's gonna be on her own terms from now on! We stan.

Oh, and Brendan! What a himbo. Can I call him a himbo? I don't think he's buff per se but he's got himbo energy. Big "full heart empty head" energy from this dude. He went out and got Wally a Jirachi??? Talk about going above and beyond. Hey, Wally, why aren't you crushing on Brendan instead of Lilian? He's a great balancing element to Wally's constant Eeyore-like state and Lilian's jaded world view.

Last thing, but I had to touch on the lore. I almost forgot about it because it's such a background element but honestly? That's how I like my lore: simple and tidy. Two orbs? Gotta smash em together to make legendaries? Cool awesome got it. No follow up questions.

Oh no, wait! I have a last-last thing, and it's this: kill Steven. Do it. Kill him. Not because I hate Steven (he's been a great character) but I just think it'd be really interesting for the story if he bit the bullet. But I'll just have to be patient and see, now won't I...?

Thank god for weekly/biweekly updates
 

Rhema

Conqueror of the Azalea Gym
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
212
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
209
Location
Hearthome City
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/Her/Hers
Pokémon Type
Fire, Psychic
Pokédex Entry
She tries her best, but doesn't succeed. She gets what she wants but not what she needs.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #147
Hello everyone! Welcome to another update of As Above, So Below!

I’m not sure if it’s AASB’s recent feature, Comment Corner, or entirely random, but I have been BLOWN away by the response to this fic over the past two weeks. My views have skyrocketed and I’ve gotten way more comments, big and small, than usual. Views and comments aren’t everything, of course, but seeing this much of a positive response to my writing really warms my heart. This is a confusing, sometimes scary, often depressing time in the world right now with everything going on, and just knowing that I can spark joy and provide entertainment with my writing is an awesome feeling. Additionally, writing is a catharsis for me and I love having this platform to be creative and work on my craft!

Back to AASB- this chapter is WILD! Really, the next few chapters are. Things are starting to ramp up and I’m thrilled to be at this point in the fic because it’s really the meat and potatoes, so to speak. I hope you all enjoy!

@Duke_Maniac it’s always a relief when nobody dies during a Gym Battle! As for Steven, you’ll just have to find out his fate by reading the next chapter! ;D

@JavierE64 You’ll find out what happens to Steven in this chapter! This whole Aqua situation is certainly getting out of hand, huh?

@localhoney I’m so glad that you found the time to catch up; I appreciate it and I’m glad you’re liking the fic so far! Battles are def a challenge for me, not even so much because I think I’m bad at writing them from a technical standpoint, but it’s just not the type of writing I enjoy the most, if that makes sense? I’m glad I’m putting out decent battle scenes, though!

Wally’s backstory is definitely crazy, and it was super fun to dream it up! As for Lilian’s Pokemon, I try to give them distinct personalities that people can fall in love with. I’m excited to flesh Isobel and Virgil out more!

Lastly, title drops are pretty cool haha. I was pumped to finally get a chance to drop it in!

@Whozawhatcha I think you did a great job at delivering a great comment haha, so thanks! Lilian and Wally were def supposed to be, kind of unlikeable at the beginning. Obviously Lilian is the protag so you’re (hopefully) rooting for her, but my plan for both her and Wally has always been for them to get less crotchety as the story unfolds.

Honestly, thank you for commenting on Wally’s relationship! It’s true that males being the ones that are abused isn’t written about much, so it’s important to me that I shed light on that topic. I think it also contributes to his disillusionment with…..well, everything. I have a very contentious relationship with my parents (which is a big reason why this fic even exists, because Lilian’s relationship with her mother mimics mine with my own) so abuse, especially emotional abuse, is something I feel passionate about representing. So yeah haha, thank you for acknowledging that plot point!

As for a potential conspiracy in regards to Lilian’s Gym battles, you’re not the first one to assume that, but I genuinely had battles that were OHKO/crits in the gameplay haha. In retrospect, a conspiracy would’ve been a super cool plot, but everything is about to get CRAZY so there’s not really room for it haha. To that point, yes! Team Aqua is freaking insane in this one.

@csidvuL right? What a horribly timed joked from our green-haired boi.

Hot springs were totally not just another excuse for shirtless Wally…..promise.....hehe

I appreciate the praise, especially coming from someone I look up to so much! Some of my earlier chapters feel notably weak to me, so I suppose while that sucks, it means that I have improved a bit?

But Brendan! Yes! I honestly love him, I’d write a whole fic about him if I had the time. I am pleasantly surprised with how my readers have received him- I’ve always meant for him to be a loveable character, but wasn’t expecting so many people to praise him! Good to know he’s struck a nice balance!

@cyndakip won’t make any promises about Steven haha; you’ll have to read this chapter to find out what happens to him!

@Missy my goodness, I think that was the biggest comment I have EVER gotten on this fic. It really made my day when I woke up to it!

I really appreciate all the praise haha, it blows me away sometimes that people actually think my fic is good. Which sounds weird, but I guess we’re our own worst critics haha. Something I’ve actually worried about is AASB being TOO “easy”. Fics like Three’s a Crown, for example, are so rich and wordy and pretty, and I always worry AASB doesn’t compare. So hearing that you enjoy how digestible it is really soothes that fear!

As far as the battles go, I totally agree with you. I think something I haven’t quite gotten out of my head yet about nuzlocke fics is that it doesn’t have to be EXACTLY like the gameplay. I think it’s been a flaw in the story at points because like Whoza pointed out this week, my easy battles and OHKO moments seem like they’re leading up to something scandalous, when in reality it was just what happened in game. Going forward I definitely want to take creative liberties to make things more interesting.

Re: Lilian’s internal biases, that is something that I almost did unintentionally. Naturally she is going to be a bit wary of people like May, reporters and paparazzi, and even Lisia at times due to their involvement in the Contest world/media. However, it was unintentional on my part for the brunt of her vitriol to be directed towards women specifically. Lilian basically writes herself sometimes haha, is what I’m trying to say. I’ve definitely been wanting her to start healing in some ways, like her clothing as you’ve pointed out.

Your comment about Lilian and Wally is fair, haha. I think their relationship has been such a slow burn (which is quite how I like it, thank you very much!) that I’m not certain that people are even really shipping them. After all, there doesn’t HAVE to be romance in nuzlocke…..but they’re just so much better when there is ;D

I was ROLLING @ you referring to Brendan as a “himbo”, oh my god. Yeah, while I definitely never intended for him to come across as stupid, per se, I’ve always wanted him to be sort of a comic relief/heart more than head kind of person, especially since Wally and Lilian are characters that are in their heads too much.

I won’t say much about your last point, except that I think you’ll rather enjoy this next chapter XD

I’ve always been of the opinion that you can tell how important a person was by how many people attend their funeral. When my father died, the crowd was scarce. Family and a few friends, but that was it. He was a good man, but he didn’t exactly leave much of a mark on the world. When a veteran Contest judge died a few years back, there were significantly more people in attendance. You had to stand in a lengthy line before approaching her open casket, and there were only two pieces of cake left over afterwards. It was evident from her funeral that she was held in high esteem by the people who knew her.

But Steven Stone’s funeral? It’s proving to be an entirely different beast.

By the sheer volume of bodies in this church, you’d think that Arceus himself keeled over and died all over again. Every last pew is filled to full capacity with people from all different walks of life. Elderly mourners shake their wrinkled heads and consider the tragedy that’s unfolded, wiping their tears with embroidered handkerchiefs. Young children struggle to sit still as they tug at their tight shoes and itchy stockings. One little boy closer to the front of the church whines while pointing at the oil painting of Steven displayed next to his casket. The piece of art is realistic to the point of being unsettling, yet I can’t look away.

“Just a few more minutes before the ceremony begins,” Brendan remarks in a low voice. He fidgets with his patterned tie, needlessly adjusting and readjusting it. This is the first time I’ve seen him without his trademark bandana.

I run a hand across the soft knit of my shawl and nudge Wally’s arm. “We should probably take our seats, then.”

Wally doesn’t pay me any mind. He remains stoic and silent, eyes fixed straight ahead. To an outsider looking in, he probably seems apathetic. But I know better. I was there when he broke down at the news of Steven’s murder. I was there when he collapsed in the pouring rain and pounded his fists into the muddy ground until his knuckles started to bleed. I was there when we had to drag him the rest of the way to the Pokemon Center, bloodied and soaking wet, when his knees buckled and he couldn’t see straight. He’s devastated. And I don’t know how to help.

“Boys,” a man’s gruff voice says from behind us. It startles both me and Brendan, but Wally remains still, unfazed by the man’s sudden approach.

I turn and spot a man that I vaguely recognize but can’t quite place. His suit is impeccably tailored, but his turquoise facial hair is scruffy at best. He walks with an alabaster cane that features elaborate carvings I cannot discern the meaning of. The abundance of Murkrow’s feet around his eyes give me the distinct impression that he’s seen some shit, and his surly expression tells me he takes no shit.

“Wallace,” Brendan replies, mustering a faint smile. “Good to see you.”

“I’d certainly prefer a reunion under different circumstances,” Wallace grunts in response. He eyes a mute Wally for a brief moment before turning his attention to me. “Aren’t you the lass that backhanded that perv a few months back?”

I purse my lips, not exactly fond of how people remember me. “In the flesh.”

Wallace taps the tip of his cane against the floor of the cathedral. “You know Lisia, then. My niece.”

“Lisia’s your niece?” I echo, befuddled but only for a moment. My eyes grow wide once I’ve put all the pieces together. “I can’t believe I didn’t recognize you. You’re Wallace Vaughn.”

“In the flesh,” Wallace replies sardonically, although I get the feeling he’s more poking fun at his own fame rather than my previous statement. He fiddles with an ornate ring on his thumb as he scans me up and down, the slightest hint of curiosity in his oceanic eyes. “I’m assuming you knew Steven through the boys?”

I nod, hugging my shawl closer to my skin. “We met up with him and Zinnia a few times while travelling. How did you know him?”

Brendan clears his throat as he slings an arm around Wallace’s shoulder. “Wallace here is Steven’s trusty mentor.”

Was,” Wallace corrects in a grim tone, earning a perturbed glance from Wally.

A morose tune blares from the organ on stage, indicating that the ceremony is about to begin. With a blasé wave, Wallace leaves us to find his seat. Brendan escorts me to a short pew in the very front row that is roped off by a crimson velvet cord. I enter the pew first, followed by Brendan. Wally slumps into the remaining seat, clutching a glossy program with white knuckles. His crisp black suit and slicked-back hair contribute to the illusion of a composed man, but I know crippling sadness lingers just below the surface.

As the prelude continues to fill the cathedral, I take the opportunity to look around. The room looks even more crowded than it did five minutes ago. Mourners are packed into the pews like Wishiwashi, crying and hugging and praying with closed eyes and clasped hands. Rainbow light pours through the intricate stained-glass windows that line every wall of the cathedral. Creative depictions of Arceus and the heavens stretch all the way to the ceiling, imprinted in technicolor glass for all to behold. Steven’s casket, bathed in red roses and white zinnias, sits at the foot of the altar.

Seeing the flowers reminds me that this picture of stereotypical mourning is missing one crucial component; a devastated widow. Where’s Zinnia?

My question is promptly answered when the heavy doors in the back of the church lurch open with a dramatic creak. Every last person in every last pew swivels to bear witness to Zinnia Stone, flanked by two strapping bodyguards, strutting down the center aisle like she owns the place.

Her body is dipped in an expensive black fabric that clings to her figure like a child would its mother. A dramatic veil of impossible length obscures most of her face, bathing her bare shoulders in sheer gauze. You could hear a pin drop in the cathedral if not for the sound of her imposing stilettos clicking against the floor. No one dare move a muscle or even breathe while Zinnia makes her entrance—as if any disturbance could send her into a fit of sorrowful hysterics.

As she draws closer, it becomes evident that she’s positively dripping in jewelry. It’s a blur of diamonds and silver and sapphires as she breezes by our pew. The diamonds sparkle with enthusiasm when they catch the light, and the sapphires almost seem to ignite when infused with the sun’s beams. I can’t help but quirk a brow at the rather excessive display. Whatever gets her through this, I suppose.

Once Zinnia is seated, the priest begins the service. He welcomes us with a somber speech and leads a lengthy prayer consisting of various chants and repetitions. I bumble my way through the recitation half-heartedly, watching Wally out of the corner of my eye. Just as I had feared, he’s already coming undone. A pronounced vein on his temple throbs as he struggles to keep his composure, and his breath grows more shallow with each passing second. I exchange a worried glance with Brendan, who leans into Wally and mutters something under his breath.

After several scripture readings and a choral arrangement, Zinnia is guided onto the altar and approaches the pulpit with trepidation as she prepares to read the eulogy. She grabs her veil with gloved hands and lifts it to reveal frowning painted lips red and a tattoo on her left shoulder that I hadn’t noticed before. It seems to be of a dragon coiled as if ready to strike.

“Friends and family,” she begins shakily, gripping the sides of the pulpit as if her life depended on it. “We are gathered here under the most devastating of circumstances: to honor the life and legacy of my darling husband, Steven, who was brutally murdered on Sunday.”

Already, muffled sobs and nose-blowing can be heard sporadically throughout the crowd. Zinnia raises a lace handkerchief to her face, dabbing at the corners of her eyes. “Needless to say, my world has been turned upside down by this untimely tragedy. Steven was my husband of seven years and without a doubt my soulmate. Losing him has been nothing short of a nightmare.”

My stomach churns at the statement. Up until now, Steven’s death hadn’t really set in. It’s been a daze of inconsolable weeping and black attire and stiff pews, like some sort of bizarre dream from which none of us have woken up. But Zinnia’s right; this situation is an utter nightmare.

“Steven was a force of nature,” Zinnia continues, a pained smile gracing her ruby lips. “In his forty-two years of life, he managed to accomplish many impressive feats. For starters, he amassed one hell of a rock collection.” Zinnia pauses as several people chuckle at her joke, before carrying on in a more serious manner. “He reigned as Champion of the Hoenn League for nearly eighteen years before taking over for his late father, Joseph Stone, as president of Devon Corporation. I will certainly have big shoes to fill as I prepare to take over that role in the coming days.”

Zinnia proceeds with the utmost composure, praising Steven’s character and telling stories about his life. As she launches into a sentimental anecdote about their honeymoon in the Sevii Islands, I notice Wally beginning to shake in my peripheral. He exchanges a few hushed, forceful words with Brendan before abruptly rising from his seat and ducking out of the pew. My reflex is to get up and follow him, but Brendan grabs my wrist and gives it a not-so gentle tug to pull me back into a seated position. Zinnia pauses for a moment, eyeing Wally as he exits the cathedral, before continuing her story.

“We don’t need to make any more of a scene out of this,” Brendan murmurs, glaring at a middle-aged busybody behind us leaning in to hear our conversation but pretending to sift through her purse. “Wally couldn’t handle being here, but you can. We’ll check on him after the funeral.”

He’s right. I slump down in my seat, feeling utterly miserable about this whole situation. It wasn’t enough for Aqua to steal Pokemon? Now they’re going around murdering people? When Steven was alive and hunting those bastards down, I felt pretty confident that he’d foil their plan. But now? I have an awful feeling about it all that I just can’t shake. Aqua seems like they’re plotting something even more wicked than sixteen years ago, if that’s even possible.

A collective chuckle from the audience rouses me from my worried stupor. Zinnia seems to have gotten to a funny part of her story. She laughs along with the crowd, but her smile doesn’t quite reach her eyes. I can’t imagine what she’s going through right now. She’s a strong woman if she’s able to get up there in front of hundreds of people and address her husband’s death without falling apart. And if she’s that strong, well, maybe we aren’t as screwed as it seems.


Mira the Kirlia!
Female / Synchronize / Quirky / Likes to relax

Roe the Trapinch!
Female / Hyper Cutter / Jolly / Hates to lose

Ginger the Vulpix!
Female / Drought / Sassy / Capable of taking hits

Isobel the Sneasel!
Female / Keen Eye / Jolly / Takes plenty of siestas

Virgil the Chimchar!
Male / Iron Fist / Sassy / Takes plenty of siestas
 

Duke_Maniac

Conqueror of the Saffron Gym
Pokédex No.
367
Caught
Jul 4, 2019
Messages
78
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Pokémon Type
Grass, Psychic
I called it... wooo

So Steven actually dies. I’ll hand it to you I for once didn’t see a twist coming. I wonder who Murdered him. 10 bucks it was May Maple trying to get Brendan to notice her
 

Whozawhatcha

i have too many projects
Pokédex No.
486
Caught
Jul 12, 2019
Messages
59
Nature
Lonely
Pokémon Type
Fire, Flying
Hey, um, excuse me and my foul language, but, pray tell, THE FUCK??

I’ve always been of the opinion that you can tell how important a person was by how many people attend their funeral.
Yeah, no, no thanks, I'm sorry, I reject this chapter, it needs to go back on the press because it has been rejected. Sorry not sorry, you cant kill one of my favorite champions. Whoopsie fucking doopsie, I think you posted the wrong chapter ma'am. Where's the fucking thumbs down button when you need it?

Anyways, I wonder what Zinnia is making such a stronk ass statement for with both her appearance, her lengthy speech, AND fashionably late showing.

(Ngl I hate funerals so much I legit skimmed the shit out of this, haha, ah.)
 

localhoney

~either i'm careless or i wanna get caught~
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
2002
Caught
May 17, 2020
Messages
66
Location
Miami, FL
Nature
Adamant
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he/him
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Electric, Poison
Pokédex Entry
Localhoney, the Sweet Toxin Pokemon. It's said that the sounds it emits can paralyze even a Gigantamax Grimmsnarl.
I can't believe you've done this.

From a writing standpoint, I think this scene was beautiful. It really invokes that discomfort/awkwardness/? of being at a particularly emotionally charged moment when you don't have the same level of attachment as everybody else. I think that's especially clear when Wally has to rush out and Brendan says that he couldn't handle it but Lillian can. idk I just thought it was a nice way to write that.

Also, as much as I love Zinnia, decked out in stones, a fabulous dress, and fashionably late? I can't help but think she knows a touch more than she's letting on, and I worry she might not be as much of an ally as we might think.

All in all, so so good and I'm excited to finally be reading these as they come out.
 

JavierE64

Masks are so 2016!!! But don´t forget to wear one
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
310
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
541
Location
Perú
Nature
Modest
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Pokédex Entry
The Master of both Light and Darkness; who loves the Violent and Dramatic, and the Fun and Adorable.
This is such a deep and emotional chapter.
The funeral scene was so real, for a moment I though I was inside the event.

Goodbye Steven Stone, may you Rest in Peace.
 

cyndakip

there goes my luck
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
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Jun 9, 2019
Messages
335
Location
Lilycove City
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Hardy
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they/she
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Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
Oh my god, you actually did it? Wally's reaction really hurt to read 😭 I have to say, though, I think Zinnia seems a little bit suspicious here... I'm guessing either she murdered him or they've faked his death for some reason? No matter what's going on, I'm excited to see where things are going to go from here!
 

Aurea

Moderator
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🎇Contributor
Writer
Pokédex No.
25
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Jun 9, 2019
Messages
79
Location
Sinnoh Region
Nature
Calm
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She/Her
Pokémon Type
Grass, Steel
Oh WHEW, picked quite a time to catch back up, didn't I?

Was definitely not expecting a dead champion this early in, but you're certainly not pulling any punches, are you?

It's kinda weird, because like, we've met Steven. He's not some far-off, intangible figurehead -- we've met him and his wife, he seemed to be a pretty good dude, but also... we didn't know him super well? It was somewhat surface-level, just because he's obviously not the focus of this story. Which, I feel played really nicely into Lilian's perspective at the opening of this chapter. She's noticing details, making observations, not really like... letting the gravity of the situation hit her, because it's a funeral for an acquaintance. She's still trying to get a handle on things, and so are we, and I loved that dissonance between her just sorta taking things in, and Wally's reaction.

I really liked your choice to have her recount Wally's initial breakdown after the fact. It hit harder - especially juxtaposed with his seemingly stoic behavior at the funeral. And what I especially loved about Lilian's internal monologue regarding it, is she's defending him to the reader/outside viewer. Normally, we see her questioning his motives, assuming he's got an angle, or being otherwise distrustful -- but here, she's recognizing that he probably seems apathetic to those who don't know him, but she knows better. She knows how much he's struggling, and I think it speaks volume that the champion is dead, and her eyes are on Wally and his reaction.

Just as some other miscellaneous notes, I'm suspicious. Of Steven's death, of Zinnia's poise and composure, of Wallace... honestly everyone. xD There's a lot of unknowns here, and this opens up a whole new playing field. I'm worried for our protags, and I'm anxious to see what else comes to light in upcoming chapters. Keep it up! ^^
 

QuietGuardian

Conqueror of the Goldenrod Gym
🌱Featurer
Screenshotter
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
33
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Jun 10, 2019
Messages
257
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Careful
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he/him
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Dark, Ground
Well, fuck, this story really isn't pulling any punches, is it?
 

DistortionLocke

Conqueror of the Fuchsia Gym
Writer
Pokédex No.
623
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Aug 3, 2019
Messages
46
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U.S.
Nature
Adamant
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She/Her
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Dark, Ghost
Pokédex Entry
Anxious, sweet-toothed writer who hides amongst the papers. Only attacks when provoked.
I’m with @Whozawhatcha! I reject this chapter and substitute my own; there’s no way you did my favorite—and the hottest*—Champion dirty like this. He has to be faking his death, and that’s why Zinnia’s not that torn up about it.

Because the alternatives—a. That Zinnia’s behind it or b. She only thinks Steven’s faking his death and he‘s actually dead—are too hard to bear...

*No, I do NOT take constructive criticism.
 

Missy

i left my heart in alola
Writer
Pokédex No.
94
Caught
Jun 16, 2019
Messages
91
Nature
Lax
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Tough
Pokédex Entry
just missy now
haha nice
 

Rhema

Conqueror of the Azalea Gym
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
212
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Jun 30, 2019
Messages
209
Location
Hearthome City
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Careful
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Pokédex Entry
She tries her best, but doesn't succeed. She gets what she wants but not what she needs.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #157
Hey peeps, long time no see! Still not quite used to my biweekly update schedule haha, it always feels like I've been gone for a longgggg time when I go to update again.

Some most of you were, uh, quite upset at me for killing Steven lmao. I can't lie, it was hilarious reading through all of the comments this time around. Such outrage! I especially loved all of your theories, from him faking his death to him actually being dead to him being killed by May (spoiler, it wasn't her lol). For those of you anxiously awaiting an answer to the "who killed Steven/is he actually dead?" question, you're in luck! This chapter will shed some light on things ;)

As always, thanks for the read! Can't wait to here what you all think of this one... *evil, diabolical snicker*

@Duke_Maniac yay, I managed to surprise you for once! Haha, May killing Steven would certainly be an interesting turn of events.

@Whozawhatcha lmao, I'm sorry to have upset you so much! I always knew Steven was a beloved character but damn, really wasn't expecting this kind of backlash. And in regards to Zinnia, to be fair, she's the kind of person to always make a bold entrance. You'll find out more about Steven's demise this chapter!

@JavierE64 aw, I appreciate it! I really tried to make the funeral as realistic as possible.

@cyndakip yes, I killed him! mwahahaha! you'll just have to read this chapter to find out what happened, or if he's really even dead!

@Aurea nope, not pulling any punches in this fic! like i said above, I knew Steven was popular and all but I wasn't expecting his death to hit so close to home for my readers lol. thanks for pointing out how I handled Lilian's perception of the funeral- it wasn't as intentional as it might have seemed, but I think her reaction makes sense. She really just knew OF him, rather than knowing him as personally as Wally and Brendan. So it makes sense her reaction is, while def sad, a little far removed from the gravity of things.

As for Wally, I really want for these next few chapters to 1.) bring him and Lilian closer, and simultaneously 2.) tear them apart? In the sense that Lilian sees him so vulnerable and her heart really goes out to him, be he is very grief-stricken and pulls away. It's an interesting beat to have gotten to, and I'm looking forward to exploring their relationship more.

@QuietGuardian like I said to Aurea, def not pulling any punches lmao.

@DistortionLocke I like your theories! Read this chapter to have all (most) of your questions answered! Also, thanks so much for speeding through this fic! I've noticed you liking chapters as you finish them(?), and it's cool that you're all caught up!

@Missy 😂😂😂😂😂

The funeral procession leads us to a verdant cemetery on the outskirts of Rustboro just as puffy clouds begin to roll in. An imposing hearse leads the charge, followed by six or seven stretch limos packed with important, high-profile mourners. Brendan and I ride in the backseat of Wallace’s ebony convertible, which is somewhere in the middle of the procession. Wally sits shotgun: silent and morose, his head propped up by a clenched fist. We lock eyes in the side view mirror for a fleeting moment before he averts his gaze and busies himself with adjusting his cufflinks.

We creep over lush, rolling hills and across a cobblestone bridge before the procession reaches a plot of impressive size in the center of the cemetery. The limousines and cars park in bumper-to-bumper rows on the grass, resembling the mismatched bricks that pave the streets of Rustboro. Grumbling something incoherent about thunderstorms under his breath, Wallace rolls up the top of the convertible before hobbling out. I am stunned when Wally opens my door for me and extends his hand in a gentleman-like manner. A jolt of jarring static arcs between our fingers as they brush.

“I’m sorry,” Wally murmurs, loud enough for only me to hear. I have an inkling he isn’t just apologizing for shocking me.

I make a few pathetic attempts at conversation, but Wally clams right back up. We approach the plot side by side, but he feels miles away. Odd as it may be, I find myself missing bickering with him. At least then, he was talking to me.

Steven’s headstone looms over a deep, empty grave that still smells of fresh soil. The trench is a perfect rectangle carved into the earth, an abyss whose sole purpose is to consume his casket. A pair of similar headstones labeled Joseph Stone and Helen Stone reside only a few yards away. Several mourners break away from the crowd to place flowers and Teddiursa bears at the graves of Steven’s mother and father before rejoining the group.

Clear umbrellas are passed out as the low rumble of thunder introduces a light spray of rain to the cemetery. The grey sky and flashes of lighting make my stomach heave. It was raining when Sage died, and it was raining when we were told about Steven. I suppose I’ve grown to associate stormy weather with the crushing pain that death brings.

Zinnia stands apart from the rest of us, flanked by the same two bodyguards from earlier. One of them holds an umbrella over her head, shielding her from the storm that brews above us. Her amber eyes swim with an unrecognizable emotion as she scans the burial site. I keep expecting her to break down, but she’s kept herself remarkably together amidst all of this. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised; Zinnia has always exuded an abundance of class.

“We will keep this brief, given the weather,” Zinnia announces over the smattering of rain that sprinkles overhead. “Will the pallbearers please approach the casket?”

Wally and Brendan, along with a few other able-bodied men, peel off from the crowd to remove Steven’s casket from the hearse. They are handed white gloves to slip on before draping the pall over the casket. The cloth is dyed and colored to resemble Hoenn’s flag: stripes of red, blue, and green that represent our regional legendaries, as well as a crest embroidered with gold thread in the center. With a collective grunt, the pallbearers lift the casket by its handles and out of the hearse’s trunk. They place it on a metal contraption affixed over the grave, which I’m assuming lowers the casket—no, my friend—into the ground once we’re done here.

I stand with Wallace for the short committal service, while Wally and Brendan remain in a cluster with the other pallbearers. The same priest that led the funeral service recites a short prayer before two men play a mournful tune on their bagpipes. Zinnia dabs at her eyes during the song, using her handkerchief to erase the plump tears that run wild down her cheeks. My heart feels heavier than a Metagross as Steven’s casket slowly sinks into the earth. Mourners step forward to place vibrant red roses on the casket before it disappears. As a final act of love and adoration, Zinnia tops the casket with a single white zinnia before blowing her late husband a tender kiss.

Petrichor and ozone mingle in the air as we retreat to our vehicles with slumped shoulders and broken spirits. When Wally walks past Wallace’s convertible, I reach out to give his sleeve a tug. “Aren’t you coming?”

Wally hesitates before nodding in the direction of another car. “One of the pallbearers is going straight to the hotel, so I thought I’d hitch a ride with him.”

“You’re not coming to the brunch?” Brendan asks, squinting at Wally through the generous amount of rain tumbling around us. Wallace eyes Wally from the safety of his car with a hand raised to his scruffy chin in concern.

“I’m just not up to it right now,” Wally mumbles in response, turning his back to us. Before walking away, he casts a rather curious look over his shoulder. “Bye, guys.”

Words of protest hitch in my throat, and Wally disappears before I can utter a single one of them. I swivel to face Brendan, who meets my baffled expression with a resigned sigh.

“He needs to relax and clear his head,” he says. “We can check in on him after the brunch.”

“I suppose,” I mutter quietly, allowing Brendan to take my umbrella so I can get into the car. Misery smothers me like a suffocating blanket for the entire drive back to Rustboro. Brendan and Wallace make several efforts to include me in their conversation, but I can’t seem to find my voice. It seems as though death has taken yet another thing away from me.

***


“May I have a word, Lilian?”

I freeze mid-bite, my fork piled high with eggs benedict suspended in the air, and glance up at Zinnia standing next to me. She wears a pleasant enough expression, but her question is laced with a palpable tension. I’m quite surprised that she approached me in the first place; she’s been tucked away in a corner of the restaurant for most of the brunch, accepting tearful condolences and lingering hugs.

“Y-yeah, of course,” I reply after swallowing my food. This must be important if it tore her away from her widow duties.

Brendan shoots me a questioning look from his chair. I shrug mutely and follow Zinnia out of the dining area and down a narrow hallway lined with lit sconces. They bathe the otherwise dim space in a warm, subtle glow that reminds me of my match against Flannery. Talk about a day that ended in disaster.

Zinnia lowers herself onto the sole chair in the hallway, leaving me awkwardly looming above her. She smooths the fabric of her dress against her thighs and addresses me with a tight-lipped smile. “This has been a rather wearisome affair, hasn’t it? I don’t blame poor Wally for retiring early. To be quite honest, I wish I could do the same.”

“You must be exhausted,” I blurt out louder than intended, earning a sideways glance from a lanky waiter passing by. “I haven’t gotten a chance to tell you how sorry I am. Funerals suck and death sucks and I just don’t—”

“Take a breath,” Zinnia interrupts with a weak chuckle. “I appreciate your condolences, but there’s no need to get hysterical. Given the circumstances, I’m doing quite alright.”

I inhale slowly through my nose and exhale through my mouth before speaking. “I’m sorry. I’ve never been good at knowing what to say.”

“I can tell,” Zinnia replies, a twinge of amusement in her voice. She clears her throat and crosses one leg over the other before looking up at me. “I’d like to speak to you about Rafael and Maurice.”

“What about them?” I ask with a frown as I lean my back against the wall. I’m not used to wearing heels, and to say they’re killing me is an understatement.

Zinnia twists her sapphire engagement ring so that the stone is slightly askew. “I’ve decided to relieve them of their duties. They’re coming back to Devon Corp and acting as members of my own security team from now on.”

“Oh,” I say simply, scratching the back of my ear. “Do you know who’s going to be taking over for them?”

She purses her lips at the question. “Actually, I’ve decided that I won’t be reassigning you new bodyguards. You no longer need them.”

“Excuse me?” I ask after a moment of stunned silence, feeling my face grow hot. In my anger, I forget that we’re at a wake. I forget that I’m supposed to be respectful of Zinnia’s recent loss. Instead, all I can remember is what Aqua’s done. All I can remember is them hurting Roe, kidnapping Isobel and killing her Trainer, killing Steven. “You’re going to just leave me and Wally without any protection? What the hell, Zinnia?”

For a split second, I don’t recognize her. Her face resembles stone: cold and unmoving. Then, she erupts into airy laughter and waves my concern away with her petite hand. “Lilian, do you really think I’m going to put you two in danger? You don’t need protection because I’ve decided you and the boys need to be removed from the Aqua investigation.”

The sudden change in emotion gives me pause. I stare at her, unblinking, trying to process what she just said. “You want us to just walk away from the Aqua situation? Wally and Brendan would never go for that.”

Zinnia flashes me a regretful smile, leaning forward to give both my hands a tender squeeze. “Don’t you see this is for the best? We’ve seen what horrors Aqua is capable of this time around. The last thing I want is any more innocent people getting hurt.”

It’s at this moment I make a connection that causes my blood to run cold. As Zinnia grips my hands in hers, I notice her emerald green dragon tattoo for the second time today. Only this time, I remember something important about it. I remember who else had that tattoo.

The Aqua Grunt. The one that tried to kidnap Roe in the summer. He had the same tattoo on his arm.

My pulse races, and I find myself unable to move or speak. Zinnia cocks her head to one side, frowning. “Are you alright, darling?”

Determined to compose myself before she catches on, I put on my gloomiest expression and let out a dejected sigh. “I’m okay. I just know the boys will be disappointed they have to take a backseat to this.” For once in my life, I’m grateful for having had the opportunity to perfect the art of pretending. Even still, my heart is pounding.

Zinnia seems to have bought what I’m selling. She pouts at me and reaches up to pat my shoulder. “I know it’s difficult for them to sit idly by, but it’s for the best. You kids don’t know the half of what you’d be getting yourself into.”

“I’m sure,” I murmur, internally balking at the irony of the statement.

“I trust that you’ll pass the message along to Wally and Brendan,” Zinnia hums, turning to dig around in her stylish leather bag. She pulls out three gold envelopes decorated with wax seals and hands them to me when she rises. “I need to be getting back to the other guests, but do keep in touch. I’d love to see you three at the annual Devon Corp Ball!” Her chipper voice and bright grin makes my palms sweat.

Zinnia takes her leave and passes Brendan coming towards me. When she’s out of earshot, I exhale sharply and slide down into a seated position. My entire body trembles under the weight of my recent revelation. “Brendan, thank Arceus. I can’t fucking believe—”

I pause when I notice the look on Brendan’s face. It reminds me of how he looked in Lavaridgesullen and grief-strickencombined with red-hot frustration. “I called the Pokemon Center to check on Wally, and they said he checked out an hour ago. He’s gone, Lilian.”


Mira the Kirlia!
Female / Synchronize / Quirky / Likes to relax


Roe the Trapinch!
Female / Hyper Cutter / Jolly / Hates to lose


Ginger the Vulpix!
Female / Drought / Sassy / Capable of taking hits


Isobel the Sneasel!
Female / Keen Eye / Jolly / Takes plenty of siestas


Virgil the Monferno!
Male / Iron Fist / Sassy / Takes plenty of siestas
 

Whozawhatcha

i have too many projects
Pokédex No.
486
Caught
Jul 12, 2019
Messages
59
Nature
Lonely
Pokémon Type
Fire, Flying
So uh, color me kinda happy?

Like, yes, sucks that Syeven is dead, I'll never forgive you. But I am among the very thin ranks of "never liked that Zinnia character" from oras (good god her high and mighty ass got on my nerves despite what she's come from) and I just....never liked Zinnia. Which is why I was surprised to like your Zinnia so much? And now I just feel so validated in my dislike of this character because wow what a prick, cannot believe, VERY glad she is our villain. You've alluded to what a shit storm this will be, and boy am I ready to see it unfold
 

localhoney

~either i'm careless or i wanna get caught~
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
2002
Caught
May 17, 2020
Messages
66
Location
Miami, FL
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
Electric, Poison
Pokédex Entry
Localhoney, the Sweet Toxin Pokemon. It's said that the sounds it emits can paralyze even a Gigantamax Grimmsnarl.
I fucking knew it, god damn it.

This was super well done, particularly the reveal at the end. Now I wanna know where the hell Wally ran off to, and how our trio's gonna handle skirting around Zinnia while dealing with the Aqua problem, since I sincerely doubt Wally and Brendan are gonna stand idly by, let alone Lillian.
 

Missy

i left my heart in alola
Writer
Pokédex No.
94
Caught
Jun 16, 2019
Messages
91
Nature
Lax
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Tough
Pokédex Entry
just missy now
in before wally is also dead

but no, im kidding, he's gone off on his own to do something reckless, probably. zinnia probably told him the same thing and he bolted

also zinnia isn't working with aqua. that's too predictable. she's still zinnia, right? so this is just the plot of the delta episode where zinnia is using the summoning of kyogre to call rayquaza back to earth. she's not with aqua, but she and that one grunt happen to both be descendants of draconid people or something, hence the shared tattoos. idk why else a supposed aqua grunt has a rayquaza tattoo unless the tattoo continues up into a full on sleeve with all the legendaries. unless zinnia disguised herself as a grunt for some reason. anyways, big anti-villain energy, very nice
 

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