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Thread Description
He is prepared to go out with his fist around a tyrant’s neck. He wants to take the heart of death. All he wants is for his brother to be OK. | Chapter 11 out 8/2, chapter 12 coming 8/16!

Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,139
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"

Thank you for the cover, @Picket Furret !


Bad Photoshopping Banner by me!
Read on AO3 here!
Beta read by @MouseWithADinosaurTail ! (Because I keep forgetting to credit you in the updates. :x)​

  • 1) Fainted Pokemon= dead Pokemon.
  • 2a) Capture the first Pokemon you encounter in each area and no other Pokemon. If the Pokemon faints or flees, with the exception of roaming Pokemon, there are no second chances.
    • 2b) Pinwheel Clause
      • Virbank Complex (inner and outer)
      • Victory Road (grove, outside, cave)
    • 2c) Pokemon received as a gift count as a free encounter.
    • 2d) In-game trades are not allowed.
    • 2e) Different floors of caves do not count as separate encounters.
    • 2f) Hidden Grottoes count as the same area as the route they are in.
    • 2g) Dupes Clause
      • Applies to whole evolution line
      • Can trigger 3 times
      • If it triggers 3 times, the Pokemon that appears next is your encounter, no matter what
    • 2h) Shiny Clause
    • 2i) In dark grass, you can pick the Pokemon you catch
      • But if an NPC partner kills your Pokemon, the encounter is lost
  • 3) Hard level limits for Gym Leaders.
    • Cheren= 13
    • Roxie= 18
    • Burgh= 24
    • Elesa= 30
    • Clay= 33
    • Skyla= 39
    • Drayden= 48
    • Marlon= 51
      • 3b) If a Pokemon crosses over the level limit during that important battle, that’s fine
      • 3c) But if a Pokemon crosses over the level limit before that important battle, that Pokemon can not be used for that battle
      • 3d) Pokemon can not enter the Pokemon League at any higher level than 58, but after that, there is no level limit.
  • 4) No X items.
  • 5) Rules do not apply until you obtain Pokeballs.
The Victim:What Happened In-Gameplay:What Happened In-Story:

Sköll
Gym Leader Cheren's Lillipup's Tackle (Aspertia City).Paul is overconfident. Sköll pays the price.


Baldr | Gullinkambi | Angrvaðall | Loki | Rán | Sigurdr​


Paul Stenberg
Serious | Proud of its power
MOVE UNLOCKED! *Toxic
*AFTER GYM 3
*AFTER GYM 5
*AFTER GYM 7

Party:

Baldr

Mild | Highly curious

* Ember
* Defense Curl
* Tackle
* Flame Charge

Sindri

Timid | Quick to flee

* Detect
* Tackle
* Move 3
* Move 4

Muninn

Lax | Proud of its power

* Gust
* Quick Attack
* Air Cutter
* Move 4

Box:
Sprites here!


Badges:
Insect BadgeBolt BadgeQuake BadgeJet BadgeLegend BadgeWave Badge

Hugh Fitzroy
Bold | Quick tempered
MOVE UNLOCKED! *Rage
*AFTER GYM 4
*AFTER GYM 6
*AFTER GYM 8

Party:

Albany

Hardy | Likes to fight

* Water Gun
* Aqua Jet
* Move 3
* Move 4

Juneau

Relaxed | Good endurance

* Move 1
* Move 2
* Move 3
* Move 4
[/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]
[/CENTER]

Reginald “Reggie” Stenberg
Docile | Somewhat stubborn
*Hail
*Aurora Veil
*Double-Edge
*Icy Wind​

Party:


Staraptor

Careful | Alert to sounds

* Brave Bird
* Steel Wing
* Wing Attack


Swalot

Naive | Loves to eat

* Stockpile
* Spit Up
* Sludge Bomb


Bibarel

Bashful | Often dozes off

* Super Fang
* Secret Power
* Take Down
* Ice Beam


Torterra

Calm | Likes to fight

* Giga Drain
* Frenzy Plant
* Crunch
* Stone Edge
Graphic depictions of terminal illness, blood, major character death, swearing, xenophobia, terrorism, depictions of suicide, depictions of homophobia, depictions of classism, internalized homophobia.
Their Story

Their Extras
"He Learns His Lesson" (April Fool's Day 2020)
"He Feels Unnatural" (Gay Pride Day 2020)
[/spoiler]
 
Last edited:

Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,139
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #2
EDIT: ahhh i cant believe i almost forgot @MouseWithADinosaurTail beta-read this update
Y'all need to send some love over to Mouse.

EDIT 2 ELECTRIC BOOGALOO: The letter was cut off? I'll try something fancy later, but for now, you can finally read the letter! ><' Sorry about that!

The envelope is torn open like a carcass. The letter spills out like blood. The letter says:
Dear Paul,
I have no idea how you weaseled your way to a passport here, but since you’re coming, I might as well tell you what’s up. You clearly don’t know.

You might have talked to the League, but the League isn’t in charge here anymore. This gang that took over two years ago, Plasma, is. One day, they started preaching about Pokemon liberation or some shit. You know the speech: “Pokemon rule! Humans drool!” The temper tantrum of people with a lot of self-hate who can’t stand other people being happy. Annoying but harmless.

Or so we thought. Within a year of their first appearance in Accumula Town, their king (Yeah, they had some knight theme going on. Now, they’ve gone for the Hot Topic pirate look. All black, beanie, skull and crossbones.) beat the fuckin’ Champion, (who, ahem, “disappeared” afterwards) took a hike, and put his dad in charge.

It smells worse than the regular Unovan nepotism.

They tried to get everyone to get rid of their Pokemon, but then they decided that would raise international suspicion, (Which they’ve somehow avoided, by the way. As long as they made a puppet League, no one cared.) so instead they’ve made a metric fuckton of rules for Pokemon training in Unova.

Only one Pokemon per area. Different floors of caves don’t count as separate areas. Neither do Hidden Grottoes. Luckily, Virbank Complex has been categorized as two different areas. And they allow you to skip Pokemon from the evolution line three times before they count as your catch. Apparently, gift Pokemon count as a free catch? Although let’s be honest, who’d just up’n give you a Pokemon? Shinies, too, but those guys are so rare that it’s not like it matters. Just another one of Plasma’s “mercies” to try to shut us up.

Ooh, like the “fairness rule”! You can’t bring in Pokemon to a League battle that are stronger than your opponent! Isn’t that fair? You can’t even use X items to help your team out!

These rules are on signs everywhere, so you can’t tell the officers that you don’t know ‘em. Trust me. Friends of mine were taken away for doing just that. And less. I haven’t seen any of ‘em since.

...And did I mention that a ton of trainers’ Pokemon have, ahem, “disappeared”?

We’re desperate. So desperate that I’m not going to try to talk you out of this. I mean, you may have never won a League you were in, but you got to that level in four different regions now. Fortune favors the bold and the idiots. I’ll be the bold; you’ll be the idiot.

See You In Aspertia,
Hugh

P.S. Sorry about your brother. Reggie was a good friend of mine when we traveled together.

~~~​
A door opens. A haggard man, purple hair falling out, leans against it. “Sure I can’t convince you to stay here in Sinnoh, Paul?”

A boy swivels around at his desk, clutching the letter with whitening knuckles. His dark eyes are the same as the man’s, but they are hard. “...Yeah,” he states simply.

The man sighs. “OK.” He smiles. “I’m with you all the way.” But it is weak. “Just… be careful. It was really hard for you to get permission to go to Unova. There must be a reason why.” The man stretches out his arms.

The boy goes rigid. He looks behind the man. A Staraptor is glaring at him, but the avian is being held back by his starter Pokemon. Torterra nods at him. Emboldened by the Continent Pokemon, the boy moves into the embrace. He counts his brother’s ribs with his fingers. “He’s not dead. He’s living,” the boy thinks furiously, but he sets his expression in stone.

The boy is not the one who ends the embrace. The man, with a wince, limps back up against the wall and props himself against it. The Staraptor seizes his chance. He starts circling around him. “Staraptor!” he exclaims. “How long have you been here?” His bloodshot eyes flit to the hallway. “Don’t think I don’t see you, too, Torterra. Come in and say goodbye-”

But the boy cuts him off. “We already did that.” The great turtle rumbles in agreement. “Last night. When the flight was confirmed.” The man looks between the two and acquiesces, allowing his own starter Pokemon to lead him to bed.

The boy goes out into the hallway when he hears the door to his brother’s room shut behind him. He goes in the opposite direction, into the calm moonlight. He sits on the stoop and stares at the empty ranch his brother built. He shivers as a Sinnohian chill strikes him.

All of a sudden, he stops. A warm body is next to him. “Keep the others in line, Torterra. I know they’ve stopped listening to Reggie since it’s gotten worse. I know you want to take care of him, but his Pokemon, Staraptor, Swalot, Bibarel, they need to. Besides, if you’re really just like me, like Reggie says, you won’t be any good at it.” When he stands up, another cold wind blows. He feels it get dispersed.

The two walk to the airport in silence. When the sliding doors close between them, both wait for a minute, trying to see through the opaque glass, unbeknownst to the other.
Me: "I wanna do author's notes for this run!"
Also me: *forgets to post author's note* ...And doesn't know what exactly should go in an author's note.

Well, this is a cute little prologue, so we'll start small. If the idea of Paul from the Diamond and Pearl anime and terminal illness sounds similar to you, that's because there is a fic on AO3 about Paul from the Diamond and Pearl anime and terminal illness too! It's called "Travels of the Trifecta!" Except it's Paul with the terminal illness, not Reggie. I say that, but don't worry. That's not really a spoiler for that fic or this run. Unfortunately, it looks like the fic has since been abandoned, but it's 20 chapters of delicious angst. Their Paul and my Paul are different, but it's fun to see a funhouse mirror, shall we call it, for your ideas. :P
 
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Spectacles

Rule Maker
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
139
Caught
Jun 24, 2019
Messages
304
Location
Pennsylvania
Nature
Jolly
Pronouns
she/her
Pokémon Type
Fairy
Pokédex Entry
It hides deep inside caves where no light ever reaches it and remains virtually motionless there. ~Pokemon Crystal, entry #52
Woo, another anime-based storylocke!! I'm pumped for this; I haven't had as much experience with the anime during gen 4, but I know enough about Paul to be interested to see him take a main character role! Will this cross over with Ashes to Ashes at all? Either way, looking forward to more!
 

Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,139
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #4
@MouseWithADinosaurTail beta-read this update too! ^^

@Spectacles : I'm pumped for this too! As a reader of Ashes To Ashes, I hope that you'll appreciate the different story-telling route I went for this time. Ashes To Ashes has a strong ensemble cast, but I've chosen to make the cast smaller here. I hope this decision, among others, will help diversify my portfolio here! ^^ As for crossing over with Ashes To Ashes, Ashes To Ashes diverges from the Pokemon anime after the Kalos arc. Brotherhood diverges from the Pokemon anime after the Sinnoh arc. Paul will occasionally mention Ash, but he's talking about the kid from the Sinnoh anime, not the father we see in Ashes To Ashes. However, this world is still my re-imagining of the Pokemon anime, so I hope the worlds, as separated in time (Ash as an adult VS Ash as a kid) and space (Kanto VS Unova) will still seem like the same world, despite the separate disasters leading to, you know, nuzlocke. (The important thing is, in both cases, Pokemon dying isn't normal!)

Paul jolts as a baby wails. He rubs his eyes, not ready to look outside the window yet. Last time he fell asleep, it was still daylight. The boy takes control of time as he wonders who would bring a baby on a plane. Someone who hates other people? Someone who has way too much faith in the temperament of their baby? Even the best babies need to cry, and this baby is definitely not the best baby. He recalls how the squalling infant lashed out at the flight attendant serving meals. The man sitting next to them screamed when the hot soup struck him. That man got his seat upgraded. Paul remembers how tempted he was to report the girl next to him who would not stop talking on the phone. Luckily, she reported herself. Rather, she reported that her seat’s charger did not work, and she too got upgraded. That’s the power of money, Paul reflects. And the power of threatening a lawsuit.

He has neither. He snorts as a thought surfaces: Maybe she’s one of those Hot Topic terrorists. Satisfied that he has waited long enough, Paul opens the window shade. The man at the aisle seat does not stir. The geezer has been sleeping since the plane took off. He’s either an experienced traveller, Paul thinks, eyeing, not for the first time, his neighbor’s neck pillow, or he’s dead.

Paul wonders what the rules for inheritance are on public property. He could use a neck pillow for the flight back. Despite himself, the boy’s stomach sinks a little at that thought. Not that he doesn’t want to go home, of course. No, that would be pathetic. It’s that these people, these Unovans, are so rude. Who brings a baby on a plane!?

The baby’s mother hisses an apology, and the sound of sucking follows. Paul can’t decide which sound he hates more. He trains his gaze outside.

The plane is descending. Paul watches as it punctures the clouds like a scalpel. The clouds are swollen with built-up... The boy shakes his head, forcing the image of his brother’s distended stomach as they languish in the waiting room because he’s not screaming yet. It’s not blood. It’s snow. See, it’s sprinkled on the rooftops. Like sprinkles. On a cake.

And his thoughts are yanked back to a simpler time, with his brother in that silly green apron that he always wears smeared with chocolate as he sings, “Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday, dear Paul…” And Reggie’s awful at singing, but he’s better than his mother.

Paul swears the altitude has turned his brain into mush, because it’s swirling down the drain, into the sewers of nostalgia, where there’s no blood. Nostalgia is for the weak. It prevents them from moving forward. Paul is not weak.
~~~​
Paul is the only person on the plane who does not have a Unovan passport, so he gets to skip the line. Rather, he goes to a different line. A line in which he is the only person. So it’s not a line at all, really. The lift in mood that fact provides, though, is quickly gutted as he hands the security officer his passport. “Where yeh from?” he asks.

“Veilstone City. It’s in te Sinnoh Region.”

The security officer raises an eyebrow. “Say that again?”

“Veilstone City. Sinnoh.”

The man shakes his head. “Say what you said the first time exactly.”

Paul blinks blearily. “I don’t understand what you vant, sir.” That’s a lie. He’s had this request a few times when he’s travelled outside his home region, although his accent isn’t even that strong. But sometimes, he’s the only Sinnohian they’ve ever met, and they “love the culture” and just “want to know more about your people.” I only have one person.

The security officer doesn’t have his position for nothing. His nostrils flare as he smells the lie. “Don’t get testy wid me, boy, else I’ll throw yeh back on dat plane ta go back ta da frozen wasteland ya belawng.”

Paul doesn’t test his limits. He acquiesces, and the man laughs. It’s a big laugh, meant to make him feel small. It’s tiny, though, compared to his father’s booming commands. Paul stands tall. In response to this, the officer gets up from his chair and looms over the boy, demanding physical submission. Paul gives this. Good little boys fade into the background. Good little boys get underestimated, so good little boys can crush the competition. “Good lil’ boy…” the man purrs. “Yeh local cawntact?”

“Hugh.” It takes him a minute to remember the last name. “Fitzroy.”

In that second, the officer transforms. He stands taller because his back has gone rigidly straight. He slams his meaty hand onto his phone, dialing the number. “We have a Situation Puhloin. Oveh.”

Paul is no stranger to airports. He knows that the paperwork can take a long time. He also knows that when armed officers descend upon an airport, it’s not a drill. As he searches for terrorists, the boy’s hand instinctively moves to his belt. His empty belt. His Pokemon are back at the ranch. They’re with Reggie. They’re not here. As he feels his breath begin to hitch, he remembers that Reggie is also not here, and he starts to relax. He can take care of himself.

He twists the arm that grabs him. “Augh, ow! What the fuck!?” There, wincing, is Hugh Fitzroy, navy blue hair an explosion of matting. Reggie was right. He really does have Qwilfish hair.

That is when Paul registers the Piplup-looking Pokemon perched on the man’s shoulder. “Tis airport is under attack.”

The Piplup-looking Pokemon cocks its head and warbles. The rest of its body is various shades of blue, making it most likely a water type Pokemon, like Piplup, but its face is white with three freckle-like… No, they’re where whiskers will grow.

“They attacked foirst.” Paul realizes that the security officer is unconscious against his table. The boy rubs his eyes, cursing the baby that kept interrupting his sleep. “Don’t know what yah going on about a baby for, but even though they didn’t start this fight, they’re gonna end it.” Hugh grabs Paul by the arm again. This time, Paul is too shocked to resist. “As long as ya stick with me, yah be fine! Come on! Albany, wet the floor behind us!” As Hugh darts through the panicked airport, dragging Paul with him, Paul confirms that since the Piplup-looking Pokemon is using Water Gun, it is definitely a water type.

As the ability to have more complex thoughts returns to him, Paul wrenches his hand away from Hugh. “What yah doin’!?” the man yelps. The man. The terrorist man.

“I am not getting involved in tis.”

“Sorry to say, but yah involved from the moment ya said my name. Shoulda thought about that. I remember ya being a smart kid.”

Paul’s nostrils flare. Whatever child this man knew is no more. That child died when the clock was put on Reggie’s life. He starts walking away. “Come on, Paulie! Ya read my letter, didn’t ya? I’m not lying when I say that they’re gonna kill ya!”

Paulie. The city streets transform into the rolling hills of the ranch. Paulie climbs into his brother’s arms. His brother is big and strong and safe. “Paulie is dead.”

“By the Swords, don’t tell me that yah an edgelord now.”

Paul walks away.
~~~​
The armed officers descend on the rest of Aspertia City: a swarm of Ninjask blotting out the sky. Paul has experience hiding from prying eyes. During his brother’s challenge at the Battle Pyramid, he used the first half of the battle to investigate the Pyramid King’s office. There were books about the Legendary Golems but no pictures. While she was alive, he hid from her. He was a reminder of the burden she beared. It was too much for her. She died. It wasn’t his fault. Reggie picked up the slack.

Since she died, Paul hasn’t hidden from much. There are a few close calls, but he darts into an alley. He studies his surroundings: clotheslines waving in the wind, trash bags spilled against concrete, snow turning to a putrid grey. Paul reflects that, even an ocean away, a slum is a slum. He releases a breath he didn’t know he was holding. The boy remembers how the police in Veilstone City would weave around places like these. The news stations would wonder where the criminals went. They were all too pathetic to chase them down their bolt-holes.

An army of black beanies charges by. Paul wouldn’t be worried, if not for the way they move. Normal Hot Topic customers move in defiance, not that the boy has experience with Hot Topic customers. This group moves as a unit. They’re not Hot Topic customers, then. They’re, Paul curses his usage of Hugh’s words, Hot Topic terrorists.

Hot Topic terrorists aren’t like the Veilstone City police. They’re not afraid of the slums. Paul swallows his pride to hide behind an overfilled trash can. If he hides in a dumpster, he won’t be able to get out. He may not have hidden in a long time, but he knows how to run. His brother is doubled over himself. He looks at him desperately. He runs to the phone. He’d run to the ambulance if he could. He’d grab it off the street and pull it into his house. He’d run to the hospital if he could. He’d dig through all their archives and find the answer and run back to his brother, and together, they’d run away from their father and the shadow he stretches over them both. The key to running is running for your life.

His legs are already tensing with anticipation as the armed guards march through. They rip down clotheslines. They tear open trash bags. They soon will color the snow red. Paul is ready to run. He sees his brother’s face. He counts his ribs. On the count of three, he will run. Three men in the family. Two sons. One took the responsibility of being a father.

Just as the adrenaline starts to pulse, however, a noise like none Paul has ever heard before pierces the air. It’s a squeal, garbled with pain. The clamor of kicking hooves follows.

“There’s nothin’ here, baws, ‘cept this backyard breeding project. Should we put it out of its misery?”

“Look at it. It’s gonna make us miserable by making the jawb awl too difficult. We don’t have da time. We need to kill da rebel leader.”


Amongst the clamor of hooves, the clamor of boots dissipates. Paul peeks out from behind the trash can. Covered in refuse, tied to the very dumpster an amateur would have hidden in by a rope tight around its twisted snout, is a Pokemon. It’s mostly orange, with black highlights and a red… orb? on its tail. It looks to be the same size as Hugh’s Albany. In height, anyway. In weight… Paul counts the creature’s ribs.

It looks at the boy. Paul is thrust back in time. He sees a Chimchar, surrounded, the Zangoose closing in. He sees a blaze. He blinks and looks in the Pokemon’s eyes. He’s not dead. He’s living. In this Pokemon’s eyes, he sees the fires of Ragnarök.

His eyes glide over the rest of the Pokemon’s body. In the ropes confining it, he sees mistletoe: something so insignificant that it kills. The rope killing it could have come from anywhere. The rope killing it could have come from anyone. He looks at the ends of the alley. But all it takes is one person to change all that.

It will be different this time, Paul decides. And it’s not nostalgia because it propels him forward. Nostalgia is for the weak.
Our story begins officially now! ^^ So start paying attention to some things. What things, you ask? Maybe I'll get into it later... :P

I'm not overly attached to the inclusion of accents in this story because they can be difficult to remember/use consistently. (Although the point is that everyone has an accent, so there's no reason to be a jerk about it. x.x) I'm open to advice on this front! I'll note, though, that Paul's accent is meant to be a slight Norweigan accent, and the rest, particularly Hugh and co. and Team Plasma are meant to have Long Island accents of various strengths.

To end on a more fun note, while babies crying on planes is a universal experience, I have, luckily, had no experience with hot liquids hitting me (or anyone else) on the planes I've been on. You know what has happened to me, though? Getting upgraded for the plane tech not working! (It wasn't the charger, though, but the in-flight tablet's headphone jack not working. The whole row's headphone jacks weren't working, actually, but I was the only one willing to move? Even though the other two people reported the issue?) My point is, weird things happen on planes, fam.
 

MouseWithADinosaurTail

A Comedian At Heart
Artist
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
47
Caught
Jun 15, 2019
Messages
1,466
Location
Snubbville
Nature
Quirky
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Flying
Pokédex Entry
She's like a sea urchin. Tough and prickly on the outside, but delicate and easily wounded if hit the wrong way. Please handle gently.
Time to comment!

Can I first just say? Your writing style: it's fascinating to me. You have a willingness to write in a way that very few writers around here do. The way you experiment with the prose is just fascinating! I know I said this in my beta reads, but I'll say it again. I adore the very curt, blunt narration. If I had to go synaesthesia for a bit and describe it, your prose isn't a flowing river so much as it is a series of blocks stacked on top of each other. Each sentence feels like its own entity, and each sentence makes the previous sentence heavier than before. Each sentence weighs on the preceding sentence. I honest to god wish I knew how to talk about your prose, how to put into words what it is and how it feels, but I'm unfortunately missing the vocabulary? ;;v;; I don't know how to describe it, really, but it's got such a cool texture. It's not the sort of prose you normally see devoted to SFF. But it's an incredibly cool combination and I love it. I do still think there are things to be refined, just by the nature of your prose, sometimes sentences here or there can be confusing to comprehend. But I can see that you have a vision for your prose, and with more practice and more storylockes under the belt, I cannot wait to see how your writing style comes out.

The narration is also cool! The narration, 3rd person limited, is very deeply rooted in Paul's head. We're basically reading his thoughts. Every sentence is dripping with his thoughts and feelings and personhood. We've been with him a short time and not too much has happened, but we already know a good deal about him! But even so, there's this interesting little tug-of-war. I get the feeling that Paul doesn't really want the audience to know too much about him, yet things keep slipping through his guard, and we learn lots and lots anyway. His feelings about his brother's illness are complex and interesting. He's obviously torn up about it, but sadly he's male and cissexual and Feelings Are For The Weak. Maybe his new pal Hugh can help him work through it! We'll see. ;;v;;

The one suggestion I would make: I'm not the biggest fan of the varying fonts. I don't think it really adds anything to the story besides taking the reader out of the story a bit whenever it changes. The characterization is already strong in the narration, dialogue, and accents. I don't think you need it, and it'd help the paragraphs be nicer to look at. Uniform is good! ^w^

Either way, as I said before, you are a writer that fascinates me. I'm very excited to be on board helping with this project though if you wanted to kick me harder to get to those dang chapters I need to beta, honestly I'd welcome it. Where will Brotherhood go from here? We shall see!

Also I LOVE TEPIG!!!!!
 

Spectacles

Rule Maker
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
139
Caught
Jun 24, 2019
Messages
304
Location
Pennsylvania
Nature
Jolly
Pronouns
she/her
Pokémon Type
Fairy
Pokédex Entry
It hides deep inside caves where no light ever reaches it and remains virtually motionless there. ~Pokemon Crystal, entry #52
Paul is indeed an edgelord and we all love him for it. Ah I was curious as to which starter he would end up choosing (or untying from a garbage can, I guess). Very fitting that it ended up being another fire type! Hopefully he is kinder to this one!
 

Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,139
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #7
@MouseWithADinosaurTail : Long reply hype! ^^
I know you already beta read, but your willingness to re-read means so much to me. :)
When I decided that this story was going to be only Paul's point of view, I knew I needed to develop a narration style that was distinctly him. You're right: It is a similar style to what is used in some science fiction/fantasy stories, but I was mostly thinking about it in terms of the begrudging zeitgeist of adolescence. ("Do I have to..? Fine, but I won't like it.") It's a fun contrast to the previous protagonists of my projects, who are either generally well-adjusted children (Ashes To Ashes) or generally well-adjusted adults (Jenga!). Psst! Paul isn't "generally well-adjusted"!
MouseWithADinosaurTail said:
But even so, there's this interesting little tug-of-war. I get the feeling that Paul doesn't really want the audience to know too much about him, yet things keep slipping through his guard, and we learn lots and lots anyway.
Alternative title for Brotherhood: "Things Keep Slipping Through His Guard." :P In all seriousness, I'm glad this inner conflict has been made visible enough. As a matter of fact, this battle with emotionality itself is one of the (many) reasons I landed on the title Brotherhood. Brotherhood is a gendered term, but the idea that "emotions are for the weak" is a problem entirely constructed out of gender norms. I'm not a man, but I've watched my brothers as well as male friends be dressed down about what "real men" can and can not do. (Again, another conflict that is sadly all too common in adolescence.)

look its tepig looking at all of pauls baggage

@Spectacles :
Spectacles said:
Paul is indeed an edgelord and we all love him for it.
That’s the goal! <3
I probably would have picked Tepig regardless because of ~narrative parallels~, but Tepig is genuinely a very good starter. And having completed the gameplay, I know that it was a good choice.

Paul darts out of the alley as he sees the Qwilfish hair. From the way Hugh puffs out his chest, Paul knows a sanctimonious spiel is coming. Ya shoulda listened to me because I’m the adult here, despite the fact that I’m also a terrorist. But as the man’s gaze drifts to the Pokemon nestled in his arms, his mouth opens, then hangs there. Unfortunately, he does still eventually say something stupid. “Ya didn’t catch him already, did ya?”

“I did.”
Of course he did. He had stocked up on Pokeballs before leaving Sinnoh, not trusting the Unovan model. Something about terrorists put him on edge. No one wants this Pokemon. It is his now.

A sort of whine escapes Hugh’s lips. “I’m sure at the next Pokemon Center we go to, Nurse Joy will let ya have a do-over…”

“Who said I vanted a do-over?”
It will be different this time. He will tame the Blaze, and it will burn anyone in his way. It will be a glorious apocalypse.

“Trust me,” the man huffs. “Ya want a do-over. I don’t think this guy can even battle. Pokemon deformed like that… Backyard breeding projects tend not to last long.”

The boy looks down at the Pokemon in his arms. He has released it from the ropes, but its face is still twisted. The snout is pushed to one side, like an old broken nose. The coarse hair covering its body has been chaffed off in a ring around the snout. Half of its pink gums are visible, and the tongue lolls out. But the eyes are clear. The flames burn bright. “Do you vant to see it in action?” If it can’t battle, then it’s over, but Paul has a feeling that it can. The Pokemon’s face lights up like a sparkler under a summer sky. The grasses are dry, primed for the fire.

“Can we save the Pokemon battle until we’re safe?” A beat. “As safe as we can be?” Paul does not push the point. As Hugh weaves through the labyrinth of black beanies, whistleblowers, and alleys, the boy stays behind him. Albany is draped over the man’s shoulder, watching his back. Paul isn’t sure if the water type is watching his back, so when Hugh signals him to wait as another swarm of Hot Topic terrorists surges by, Paul uses the opportunity to drape his Pokemon over his shoulder. It may have a twisted snout, but its eyes work fine.

Eventually, they break out of the city. By the time they are out, the sun is setting. In the waning light, Paul reads the sign marking the area: Route 19.

Another place to get a Pokemon. If the current one can’t battle after all, he needs a back-up. Paul puts a hand over his eyes to scan the area. He has done this in four other regions, so he is attuned to where Pokemon tend to gather. His experience guides him to study a rocky outcropping. As he expected, there is an indent inside, and a shape shifting within it.

It is a furry Pokemon, either black or a dark purple. He can’t discern which in the fading light, but that primary coloring is supplemented by patches of cream-colored fur. It looks up. Its eyes are an emerald green. Paul taps Hugh on the shoulder and points. “What’s tat Pokemon?”

The man rolls his eyes before he really looks. “I ain’t gonna be yah Poked-” But once he does look… “We have to get moving.”

Paul calls bullshit. “I know a threatening Pokemon when I see it. Tat is not a threatening Pokemon.”

The water type draped over the man’s shoulder cranes its neck to look too. It barks, then resumes its watch. “They’re gonna be looking outside Aspertia soon.”

That, though… That, Paul believes. He doesn’t want that Pokemon anyway. It’s more than non-threatening. It bolts into its burrow. It looks weak. Even this twisted Pokemon didn’t run away. It fought back.
~~~​
Hugh drags him through Route 19, hugging the shadow of the mountain. Paul sees only that purple Pokemon—it’s purple—and a brown kind of Pokemon. The shadows break as the sun sets. Under the cover of darkness, Hugh takes him through a meadow.

No, the boy realizes as they pass a clock tower in the center of a ring of houses, a town. A provincial town, but a town nevertheless. As the clock tower announces the hour, the people, all rolled-up sleeves and dusty cargo pants, skitter into their homes like they are Máni herself, running from the wolves that chase the moon. It doesn’t matter, Paul thinks as their lights flicker out. She will be eaten anyway.

They are the wolves, Paul decides. The people are right to run.

The meadow-town gives way to a proper meadow. A river runs through it, but bridges have already tamed it. It trickles weakly, defeated. “Route 20,” the man hisses under his breath. “We’re almost there.”

On the way there, wherever that is, Paul scans the area, searching for another Pokemon to catch. He sees a pair of gleaming red eyes poking out from a tunnel. He throws a Pokeball. It doesn’t waste his time.

As he goes to retrieve his Pokeball, the boy’s mind races. What kind of Pokemon could have eyes like that? Something nocturnal; its eyes glow. A predator, hunting under the moon. His own wolf.

That’s what ya go for?” Hugh whines. The boy locks eyes with him. “Ya really don’t know what ya just got, do ya?”

“Forgive me for not being familiar with Pokemon tat do not exist where I have traveled.”

“Ya know what a Rattata is, right?”
Paul blinks harshly. Is this fool taking him for a fool? His silence should be self-explanatory, but alas, it is not. “What ya just caught is basically a Unovan Rattata. ‘S a Patrat.”

He sees it in his mind’s eye: a Rattata chasing the moon. It runs on its pathetic little legs and calls out with a pathetic little squeak. It is the last noise it ever makes. It is snatched up by a nocturnal predator. He decides it is a Honchkrow. Paul buries the Pokeball deep in his bag. He would release it, but even if a Rattata is pathetic, it will fight if it’s cornered.

And judging by the moon, he won’t get another opportunity to catch a replacement today.

Paul wishes the fire type over his shoulder had external flames, preferably flames that can be extinguished if need be, like a Chimchar’s. But it doesn’t, so the boy stumbles over a few Pokemon burrows. Hugh does not. From how brisk his strides are, Paul knows that this is a well-worn path for the man.

Paul wonders how many times Hugh has attacked airports.

As the duo passes under a wooden archway, the tension melts off the Unovan. This must be the safe place. As safe a place for a rebel leader as there can be. Paul surveys his surroundings. Under the moonlight, a demarcation of fences separating a field of crops from a forest is visible. Within the fences is a cabin and a barn. There are no lights. They are safe.

“You’re back, Mr. Fitzroy!” a feminine voice trills.

Paul jolts. Where he previously saw nothing is now a veritable procession: an older woman, squeezing the life out of Hugh, a man around the same age stifling laughter, and two hulking blue Pokemon with… swords sticking out of their heads?

“Please,” Hugh manages. “Mr. Fitzroy was my father, and he was a piece a shit.”

The woman releases him but still holds him verbally hostage. “So yah told us many times, Mr. Fitzroy. Think of it as taking the name back.”

Hugh rolls his eyes, then nods at the man. “The missus insisted on staying up to wait for me?” he asks. Paul’s stomach clenches at how casually these terrorists are talking to each other, like fleeing armed guards is just another Tuesday.

The laughter finally does spill out of the other man. “Abbie and Costello, too.” Paul assumes that refers to the Pokemon, and out of nowhere, Albany is with them. The three are nuzzling faces and purring. Paul may not believe that going into Pokemon breeding was a good decision for his brother, but regardless of his feelings on the matter, he has lived with a breeder on a breeder’s ranch and knows a familial relationship between Pokemon when he sees it. He doesn’t understand how a tiny Piplup-thing turns into a hulking water beast—he wants to see the middle evolution now. But more importantly, he doesn’t understand how people who are clearly not related to Hugh Fitzroy have trusted him to raise one of their younglings.

“Oh, but we talked right over ya!” the woman is blabbing. Paul has not heard her stop to breathe once. “This yah friend?”

Paul immediately rectifies her mistake. “We are not friends.”

She looks to Hugh. “We’re not friends,” he confirms.

“Well then, I hope ya at least trust each other enough not to kill yahselves in yah sleep!” she chirps. “The barn’s ready for ya, Mr. Fitzroy!”

Hugh nods. “Thanks, Mrs. Triggs.”

She mock-gasps. “Please, Mr. Fitzroy! Mrs. Triggs was my mother, and she was a piece a shit!”

“We are regular comedians,”
the man yawns. The woman tuts at him and takes him by the arm. The duo enter the cabin, their Pokemon trotting behind them.

Paul turns to Hugh. “I refuse to sleep in a barn.”

“Sleep in the field, then. Or in the forest. The Triggs feed the Pokemon ‘round here. They shouldn’t eat ya.”
With that, Hugh walks towards the barn.

Paul looks around, but what’s around doesn’t change the fact that he neglected to pack camping material. Reggie had assured him that Hugh would “take care” of him. Like he takes care of the government? As Hugh casually hops over the fence, Paul follows suit.
~~~​
One half of the barn is dedicated to solely manure. Paul knows, logically, why. Pokemon manure is a cheap and effective fertilizer, and these people clearly are dependent on their crop yield. However, it is also true that they specifically store their fertilizer in a building that they do not sleep in. Yet they expect them to do the same?

There are several piles of hay on the opposite side of the barn, and Hugh flops onto the biggest one. He looks too comfortable.

“Can we have our battle now?”

“We are not letting your Tepig battle inside a barn. This place is one half flammable and one half stink bomb.”
The boy grunts as his Pokemon, a Tepig, as Hugh has told him now, hops out of his arms and trots over to another hay pile. “‘Sides, Albany’s not here. When we come here, he sleeps with his parents.”

So this man sleeps alone, at least on a somewhat regular basis, surrounded by excrement. If this is what “taking care of him” means… Paul considers finding another guide. Maybe if he turns Hugh in…

The man chuckles because he is an idiot who can not read the room. “Yep, my little Oshawott insists he’s all grown up, but as soon as we’re here, he needs to sleep with his mama and papa…” He shakes his head. “It’s good, though. Gotta enjoy it while it lasts.”

Paulie did not appreciate the place his brother always left for him in his bed. Paulie did not honor his brother saying that no, he didn’t know where he was. Paulie did not understand that there are a select few people who will redirect their lives for you. Paulie deserved everything that happened to him. The only tragedy was that Reggie was caught up in it all.

Paul slips into the haystack next to Hugh silently. Between them, the Tepig is trying to dig through, but with only half a nose, half of the hay is falling into its mouth. Instead of spitting the hay out, though, it’s attempting to swallow. Paul has lived with a breeder on a breeder’s ranch. Most hay is nutritionally null. More importantly, Paul doesn’t trust that this hay hasn’t come in contact with the manure in some way. “Drop it,” the boy commands.

The little fire type looks at him. Its mouth hangs open. The hay falls out.

“Wow, that’s… impressive, considering the little guy’s starving,” Hugh quips. “Or is it sad..?”

It is impressive. Pokemon in better physical condition have disobeyed him for delaying giving them food. This Pokemon is attentive to orders. That is a boon. It does not matter how strong a Pokemon is if it will not cede to his will.

The Tepig looks up at Hugh. “Oh, yeah, that’s sad,” the man decides. “C’mon, little buddy, whaddya want?” It paws its hooves at the haystack. “Sleep with yah trainer, then, friend.” A beat. “Maybe not. Sleep with me, then.”

What an idiot. How can he not see it? With a heaving sigh, Paul explains. “In its body condition, it will struggle to maintain its temperature at night. It wants to have hay all around it, in addition to being close to a human’s body heat.”

Instead of thanking him for speeding the laborious process of guessing along, the man has the gall to snap at him! “How do you know!?”

“Reggie is a breeder now.”

“He is!?”
And Paul knows the look on his face. Hugh thinks Reggie is already dead. Biting back bile at that disgusting insinuation, he turns away from the man and closes his eyes.

“Paul! Paul? C’mon, help yah little guy out!” The Pokemon squeals. Feet thud against the floor of the barn. I’ll help yah out, little guy.” It grunts. “An’ let’s see if we can get some more help too.” Paul’s eyes shoot open as he feels a hand rifle through his bag. He has half a mind to slug the terrorist then and there. “C’mon out, Patrat!” The new Pokemon chitters. “Make a burrow for yah friend here, just like ya do out in Route 20.”

Paul tries to sleep for thirty minutes. The others dig through the hay for thirty minutes. He has thirty minutes’ worth of hay thrown on top of him. He feels a bony body press next to him. “Good, guys?” Twin yawns of confirmation. “Good. Hey, Patrat, lay on top of me, will ya? Be a scout, just like before on Route 20.” Paul must admit that he would die if he were discovered like this. If Patrat are good scouts, he supposes it can stay for now.
Look, they're friends, having a sleepover! In a barn! Filled with manure! At least one of them is thinking about turning over the other!

...OK, maybe they're not friends. Yet.

Not much to say here except that real-life has isn't comfortable. Neither is Pokemon-world hay. So why is Hugh so comfortable in it..?

Also, who's the mystery purple Pokemon..? (There are only two encounters on Route 19, and only one of them is purple.)

I'm putting this in a separate spoiler tag in the hopes that it will increase visibility, so as many readers as possible can weigh in: Should I use different fonts for different characters in Brotherhood? This chapter, I showed off what a chapter looks like without the fonts. The previous chapter shows what a chapter looks like with the fonts.

Why Use Fonts?Why Not Use Fonts?
  • The fonts used immediately say something about the characters (or at least Paul's opinions on them)
  • The narrative potential of having a character switch fonts (which is something I plan to do) is fascinating
  • Different fonts make Brotherhood stand out
  • Using different fonts breaks the uniformity of the prose
  • Not using different fonts better syncs the Nuzlocke Forums version of Brotherhood with its ArchiveOfOurOwn edition
  • Using different fonts is more work for me :P
Honestly, I'm not too attached to the fonts. I decided to use them mostly as a tool to highlight Paul's characterization of others (i.e: he doesn't think highly of the character written in Comic Sans), but the style of the story makes his opinions clear regardless.

Additionally, because I anticipate this line of questioning, I would like to talk about my use of boldface.

Simply put, because the style of Brotherhood is so interior, so to say, I wanted to make sure that readers know what Paul thinks versus what he actually says. However, I am open to amending the use of boldface as well, maybe limiting it to only Paul (and Reggie, of course, because Paul would differentiate Reggie from everyone else).
 

Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,139
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #8
@Zero and @MouseWithADinosaurTail , thank you for beta-reading this update!




Now that's a lot of damage!








Yay!



But hearts aren’t supposed to do that.


Well, shit, he’s dead. Hey, Hugh, will you be my new brother?


mY onLy BROther iS purrLOIN hUGH is dEad


Fuck me, you’re an edgelord too. I can’t escape them…. Hey, what about you? Will you be my brother?



He sees the fires of Ragnarök.
Graphic design is my passion.


Happy April 1st!
 

MouseWithADinosaurTail

A Comedian At Heart
Artist
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
47
Caught
Jun 15, 2019
Messages
1,466
Location
Snubbville
Nature
Quirky
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Flying
Pokédex Entry
She's like a sea urchin. Tough and prickly on the outside, but delicate and easily wounded if hit the wrong way. Please handle gently.
HI! I LOVE THIS! THIS IS THE BEST UPDATE OF BROTHERHOOD EVER! So concise yet so evocative! I cried at that masculinity part. :'3
 

Zero

Jet's Black Nuzlocke
Artist
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
51
Caught
Jun 15, 2019
Messages
240
Location
In front of the Computer
Nature
Lax
Pronouns
she/her/it
Pokémon Type
Fire, Bug
Pokédex Entry
It is born asleep, and it dies asleep. All its movements are apparently no more than the results of it tossing and turning in its dreams.
alfejalkewakjfhajfallaewliaf what a twist x3 i cant believe he's dead it's like i can still hear his voice
 

Fool

I'm Eltaba now.
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
280
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
503
Location
A Delicious Pancake
Nature
Bold
Pronouns
Call me whatever you want.
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Rock
Pokédex Entry
Frequently criticizes inane video game plots, especially those involving spiky haired boys and cats.
Aight, I caught up on everything so far. Gotta say, really interesting premise, I may not read much, but I've never really seen a run based around the anime, much less the character of Paul.

It's interesting to see you go into his psyche, considering outside of plain old antagonists, Paul is probably the most darkly written character in the Pokemon Anime. It's neat to see him change, albeit slowly.

Also, Holy guacamole, you actually made Hugh into an interesting character. He's an actual anti-authority terrorist now, who isn't always edgy all the time. Kind of reminds me of Meowth, though that could just be the accent. Hmm, I wonder why he had such a negative reaction to seeing that purple pokemon... hmmm...

Poor Tepig, I hope the little babey gets some well deserved rest.

All in all, I like your writing style, I will admit I did get confused at a few points, but that could be more lack of experience from me as a reader.

Also, babies on airplanes are very annoying and I completely understand Paul's sentiments on that.

Can't wait to read more.
 

Spectacles

Rule Maker
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
139
Caught
Jun 24, 2019
Messages
304
Location
Pennsylvania
Nature
Jolly
Pronouns
she/her
Pokémon Type
Fairy
Pokédex Entry
It hides deep inside caves where no light ever reaches it and remains virtually motionless there. ~Pokemon Crystal, entry #52
Aww I love Tepig in this chapter! I have a soft spot for animals/Pokemon with "defects". And I love the scene in the barn where he listens to Paul right away, and how subsequently excited Paul is. A bro is born.
 

Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,139
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #13
@MouseWithADinosaurTail : The Big Bad has been revealed! :V

@Zero : Hugh: "Stop telling people I'm dead!"

@Fool : Welcome aboard! I'm glad that my Hugh has endeared himself even to you, the biggest Hugh stan (NOT) on the forums! Huh. I hadn't thought about Hugh and Meowth being similar, but I love Meowth, and I love my Hugh, so I'm taking that as a compliment! ^^

@Spectacles : Excuse me! Paul doesn't get "excited." Excited is pathetic. Paul gets "intrigued." :P A bro is born indeed! And in this chapter, we learn the bro's name! :o

Also, if you would be willing, I would like to ask all of you except you, Mouse, you've already told me about your opinion on the usage of fonts to denote who is speaking.

The sun has been up for hours, and Hugh still isn’t awake yet. Paul stands over him, studying him. He’s a heavy sleeper. He doesn’t move much in sleep, but he murmurs things. Names, Paul thinks, because it would be weirder if Hugh was just saying random things. He’s trying not to pay too much attention to the names, though. That would be creepy.

Albany pads into the barn, rubbing its eyes. The boy looks at the Pokemon. Oshawott? Is that what Hugh had said? “Hey. You.” It looks at him. “Is he always like this?” It looks at the man. Paul watches the war behind its eyes. Some idiots say Pokemon aren’t intelligent. The evidence of their intelligence, though, is irrefutable. You don’t even have to read studies. Just talk to a Pokemon. It understands. If they didn’t, Pokemon battles wouldn’t work. And if Pokemon battles didn’t work… The world would be a very different place. Paul thinks that it would be easier if they were simple beasts. All of them. But that’s not how it is. The Pokemon is torn between loyalty to its trainer and the urge to start the day in earnest.

Paul takes note that the latter wins out. Hugh sputters as the water, not a Water Gun, which could very well have drowned him in his utterly defenseless state, but a squirting of water that most water types can do without even thinking about it. “Hey, I thought I told ya that if-” His scolding of his Pokemon cuts off abruptly as he blinks owlishly at Paul. “Hi, Paul. How…” He shakes his head. The Qwilfish hair violently expels the water. The Tepig ducks behind Paul. The Patrat rubs at its face as a few droplets strike it in the eyes. “How long have ya been there?”

“I just woke up.”


The Oshawott leans in and chitters in Hugh’s ear. Humans can not understand Pokemon’s spoken language, but only the most pathetically dumb can’t discern a Pokemon’s emotion and general meaning. Hugh’s eyes dart up to dig into Paul’s. “OK, we need to set some ground rules. I thought Reggie woulda taught ya some manners, but nooo-”

The boy has no patience for inane babbling. “My brother has nothing to do with what I choose to do.”

“Really,”
the man deadpans. “Because if I recall, ya used to cling-”

“What I may or may not have done as a child has nothing to do with what I choose to do now.”


The man mock-slaps his head. “Oh, of course! That kid was too sweet to grow up to be an edgelord!” His voice grows dark. “Tell me, do ya treat yah brother like this?”

It’s a trap. Paul knows it. Whenever anyone finds out that he has a brother, never mind what is happening to him, there are always traps. Tests of loyalty issued by people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Or who they’re talking to. “I took the necessary precautions to ensure tat you would not get up before me and leave me to face a police raid alone.”

Hugh is caught off-guard. Was he expecting Paul to play his games? “Whoever said I was gonna leave ya? Ya read my letter, right? I ain’t leavin’ ya! I need ya!”

“If you need me to battle for you so much, it would be vise for you to invest in some strength of your own. I don’t know how delusional you are, so I’ll spell it out for you: I’m only here to conquer te Unova League.”

“I did promise ya a battle, didn’t I?”
Hugh looks down at Albany for support, but the Pokemon is already scurrying outside.
~~~​
Paul isn’t surprised to see the farmers awake. If they did not get up early, they would have lost their jobs long ago. He is surprised, however, to see them take such an interest in a battle between their… friend? And someone they didn’t quite trust not to kill that friend last night.

Paul supposes that terrorists get numb to terrifying concepts like that.

The man volunteers to be the referee. He is refreshingly terse compared to his wife. “Oshawott VS Tepig! Go!”

“Albany, let’s start things off right! Tail Whip!”
It is apparent that the water type has been looking forward to this bout.

The fire type, on the other hand? Paul notes with pride that it is not afraid, but Paul has dealt with afraid Pokemon before. It takes time, but they can be broken in. An indifferent Pokemon, though? This is new territory. He remembers how it did not eat the hay at his command, though. It is loyal. And loyalty is something that Paul knows very well.

Looking back on it, the boy with the Pikachu knew that too. While he is on too much of a tight schedule to do… whatever he did to Chimchar, in the end, the very same Pokemon that he rejected for being too weak defeated him at his full strength. The boy insisted that friendship played a part in that victory. Paul knows that friendship is not his strong suit, but there is too much on the line to not try a method that has been proven to be successful. Wildly successful. "Friendship" somehow enabled a Pikachu to go even with a Latios.

And Paul is facing an enemy far greater than some edgelord stacked with Legendary Pokemon. Research shows that nicknames beget feelings of friendship. He picks the first one that comes to mind. “Baldr, use Ember!”

The two seem equally shocked by the result. The Tepig perks up immediately and squeals. One gout of flame spews from one nostril. Something else red oozes out of the other nostril.

Albany is hit by the Ember. It isn’t burned, but it is hurt. Hugh yelps as though his Pokemon was dying, though. “Does that hurt him!?”

It takes Paul a moment to realize what his opponent is talking about, recalling that the man’s Oshawott is also male. Hugh isn’t talking about his Pokemon, though. He’s talking about his. “No.” The fire type is not in pain. Pokemon, unless they are very well trained to do otherwise, make it very clear when there are in pain. From the look on Hugh’s face, though, Paul knows that he does not believe him. The only way to convince him, he decides, is to show him. He doesn’t trust him, but he must trust his own eyes. “Ember! Again!”

The attack is executed much the same way, except that the bloody nostril does produce fire this time, albeit in molten, dripping form. A second Ember is too much for the low-level water type to endure. Albany faints.

“The winner is Tepig!” the man shouts.

Only one of the big blue Pokemon joined the couple to watch the battle, but it hurries to its youngling’s side and licks it awake. As Albany comes to, it barks indignantly and tries to swat its mother away. “Abbie, give your boy some space,” the woman tuts. As the mother, Abbie, realizes that she is holding an Oran Berry, it acquiesces.

Albany devours the Oran Berry. Hugh laughs as his Pokemon stains its lips blue. As Paul hears it, he thinks the Oshawott is making a noise in response, but when he tracks the sound’s source, he finds it to be his Tepig instead.

His starving Tepig that still has not eaten anything. Reggie would kill him if he were here.

Paul tells it to wait for him while he talks to the farmers. They are too eager to “fatten the poor dear up,” but Paul stows away the excess berries they gave him. He won’t stop them if they insist on giving away, by their own admittance, most of their Sitrus harvest, but a Pokemon in Tepig’s body condition can not handle big meals. Small, more frequent feedings are what must be used. It may seem counterintuitive, but a fragile Pokemon’s body can be easily overwhelmed.

And it battled well. It will be battling more. Battling is an instinct that he refuses to deprive it of.

Paul squeezes a portion of the Sitrus Berry’s juices to Tepig as Patrat occupies itself with eating a Sitrus Berry of its own.

After the battle, the man, at least, has the good sense to return to work. The woman and Hugh, however, decide that the best use of their time is to ramble to each other. Most of it is trite drabble, but as Paul finishes Tepig’s feeding session, something catches the boy’s attention.

“Costello didn’t come out to see his kid battle?”

“He wanted to, I assure you, but he had work to do. You see, a Riolu has been causin’ all sorts of trouble in the forest out back. They like being the strongest Pokemon in the area a bit too much.”


A Riolu! So many Sinnoh legends begin with a child finding a Riolu in the midst of its training. The Riolu dismisses the child; it is weak. But the child proves themself. The Riolu agrees to partner up. The duo travel the region. Then… Winter strikes. In the routes near Snowpoint. Or the peak of Mt. Coronet. A blizzard threatens to freeze them both. And it almost does. But it is then that the Riolu evolves. And the child, now grown up, and the Lucario fight on.

But… Those are legends. Real Riolu have been pushed to the fringes of the wilds of Sinnoh. Too many kids wanting to be legends.

But Paul doesn’t want to be a legend. And he knows how Riolu evolve. No, he can’t.

But… If he can catch a Riolu, and it evolves into Lucario… What better manifestation of his growth is there? And if he has grown that much, then he will succeed in his goal.

The boy approaches the duo. “Where does te Riolu live?”

The woman jabs a finger over her shoulder. “The forest out back.”

The boy narrows his eyes. Does this farmer know nothing of her own property? Hugh steps between them. “I’ll show ya. I think Albany wants to talk to his dad about his battle.” He turns to the Oshawott. “Don’tcha?” It trills enthusiastically. The man snickers, then extends a hand to Paul.

The boy flourishes with his hands to draw attention away to their final destination: behind his back. “I’ll stay behind you.”

The man looks at his Pokemon. The water type shrugs. “Oh-kay, then. Anyone wanna join me up front?” The Tepig warbles and trots up to him. The Patrat, by contrast, squeaks and scrambles up onto the boy’s shoulder. “Come to the cool kids’ club, then, Tepig!” Hugh quips, beaming.

“Baldr,” Paul corrects. If he is going to go through the trouble of coming up with a nickname, he would like to see it used.
~~~​
Paul does not see a Riolu. He and Hugh scour the whole forest. They do, however, find something else. As they are ending their rounds, Hugh leads him to a glade. “I’m not sure where a Riolu would hang out, but Costello usually takes a break here. He thinks it’s a secret, but it’s not.” Albany chirps in apparent agreement.

Paul spots the big blue Pokemon first. He points. Albany runs ahead.

Hugh tries to start telling another story about his Pokemon’s father, but it is mercifully cut short. By an ear-piercing scream. “Albany!?” Hugh runs after his Oshawott.

The little water type has turned its father over. It is still, one giant paw over its chest. “No…” Hugh gasps. He peels the paw away. A deep wound is revealed. Its shape resembles that of a check mark.

It is dead. A wound that deep, without treatment, is fatal. Albany wails. This, Paul expects. Grief is a typical reaction.

What Paul does not expect, though, is for Hugh to punch a tree. Even more surprisingly, although the strike rustles the tree’s branches and causes a bird Pokemon to fly away, Hugh himself does not appear to be injured. He keeps punching.

The boy’s Tepig is sitting between the man and his Oshawott, looking trapped by the displays on either side. Paul gestures it back. A paw slaps into his face in the middle of it. Paul reaches up and grabs the Patrat by the scruff of its neck. It looks scared. It always looks scared. Grunting in disgust, Paul puts it on the ground.

No longer distracted by some rodent scuttling along his shoulders, Paul turns his attention to the others. Albany is trying to nudge the dead Pokemon awake. It is not working. That goes without saying. Hugh keeps punching the tree. As he punches, he yells in clipped curses. In between the profanity, he swears to a deific figure. “Swords..! Strike me down..! Not again..!”

Again? Hugh finds dead Pokemon in the forest often? Usually scavengers take care of that.

Paul hopes Hugh will say something useful. Those hopes are dashed as a matted shape darts out from the bushes. “Get away, Lillipup!” the man roars.

Paul knows a scavenger when he sees one. Scavengers survive. Albany uses a real Water Gun on it. In response, it charges.

It is swallowed by the red beam of Paul’s Pokeball.

Both Hugh and his Pokemon look at him in shock. Paul sedately claims his new capture. “What? Tis isn’t another Rattata situation, is it?”

Hugh shakes his head numbly.

“You can continue grieving once we report tis to the farmers. You can grieve together, if you’d like.”
~~~​
They do. Hugh can’t even get the words out, but they’re not idiots. They cry together, the humans and the Pokemon. His Patrat joins them. He can see tears in Tepig’s eyes, but to its credit, it holds them back.

Tears aren’t for the dead. They’re for the living.

Paul leaves them be. He sends out his latest capture. Hugh called it a Lillipup. With a name like that, Paul expects it to be a small, cute Pokemon. It is small, but this Pokemon is not cute. Its brown fur is matted and wild. Its eyes are beady. It has not stopped growling. Paul wonders if this Lillipup is the exception or the rule.

Regardless, Paul knows that he has found his wolf. Sköll will devour the moon.

Paul orders the Lillipup and the Tepig to train against each other while he waits for the others to calm down. The Lillipup is far more unruly than the Tepig, but its power is impressive. Its Bite would have knocked Tepig unconscious if not for it learning Defense Curl to better endure it. After the training session, Paul offers a Sitrus Berry to them both, satisfied with what he observed. Tepig scarfs it down. Lillipup bites at his hand. He returns it to its Pokeball with no snack for that.

Rather, Tepig tries to scarf it down. The berry keeps popping out of its deformed mouth, and it seems unable to chew. That is problematic. Paul ends up squeezing the rest of the juices out of a Sitrus Berry and eating the spent thing himself.

As he finishes that, the boy overhears Hugh talking to the farmers. “I swear to you that I’ll get ‘em for this.”

“Thank you, but… You can’t stay here anymore,”
the man, ever the pragmatic one, tells him.

“I know,” Hugh says grimly. “They targeted you… because you’ve been helping me. But they should follow me. But…”

The woman puts a hand on his shoulder. “When you’ve defeated Plasma, we’ll celebrate. In Costello’s and Madison’s and everyone’s name.”

Hugh pulls her into a hug. “It’s a promise.”

As Hugh walks towards the exit, Albany listlessly draped around his shoulders, Paul joins him silently.

Back on Route 20, Hugh turns in the opposite direction from where they entered. “Where are we going next?” Paul asks him.

“Virbank. Virbank City. I have lots of friends there.” Friends that are willing to have their Pokemon die? the boy is tempted to say, but that would be in poor taste.

Instead he asks, “Is tat where te first Gym is?”

“No, that’s back in Aspertia,”
Hugh drones.

Paul turns around.
Yay for the first rival battle! Beat each other up with the power of friendship!

But Paul's friendship has leveled up with his starter. (He's not at the level of that Latios-beating Pikachu, but who is?) Baldr, eh? That's a name with a legend behind it. Paul may have not caught that Riolu, but no one writes a nuzlocke about a trainer's walk in the park.
 

Spectacles

Rule Maker
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
139
Caught
Jun 24, 2019
Messages
304
Location
Pennsylvania
Nature
Jolly
Pronouns
she/her
Pokémon Type
Fairy
Pokédex Entry
It hides deep inside caves where no light ever reaches it and remains virtually motionless there. ~Pokemon Crystal, entry #52
Aww poor Albany. I wonder what caused that to happen. Paul's reaction was interesting- I wonder if he'll change his mind on grieving if he experiences a death or two of his own- not that I want that to happen to any of his lovely creatures, especially Baldr.

As far as the fonts go, I don't really mind either way. I don't think it makes it any harder or easier to read. I guess if it's a hassle to do it, I feel you don't have to? But if you like the way it looks, go for it!
 

Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,139
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #15
@Spectacles : I hope it's not too spoilery to say that these questions do get addressed later on! :P

Paul is turned back around. “Whaddya doin’!?” Hugh demands.

“I am going to challenge te first Gym Leader.” Paul knows that the man is grieving, but grief does not rob one of the brain cells they have. “Unless if your friends can make gym badges that pass Te League’s inspection?”

The concern on the man’s face hardens into anger. “Think what ya want about me, but leave my friends out of it.” But it’s not anger for a friend that spreads across his face. It’s anger for himself. Pathetic. The boy wrenches his wrist from the man’s hand. Paul has seen that if the man truly wants to, he can hold him there. Take him anywhere.

Paul is relieved that Hugh doesn’t want him.
~~~​
The boy sneaks back into Aspertia City. He sticks to the dimly-lit alleyways just in case and keeps Patrat out to watch his back, but it seems like the police presence in Aspertia is just focused on controlling the populace. As long as they don’t get in his way, Paul won’t get in their way.

The boy darts into a promising-looking building as the police drag a homeless person out of a dumpster. Amateur, Paul thinks.

His thoughts, though, soon shift as he realizes that he has walked into a school. Through a small glass window, at least twenty tiny eyes are locked on to him, daggers on the draw. Paul has half the mind to make a run for it, but although he never had any formal education, he knows that teachers command respect. As the woman with high-heels as thin and tall as swords emerges from the doorway, ordering the unruly children to sit, Paul explains his objective. He chooses his words carefully to hide his accent. “I am looking for a gym battle.”

“Are you a student at this school? I have never seen you before.”

Paul has studied Pokemon League regulations. Hugh said in his letter that Unova has needed to maintain a puppet League. A puppet without its strings fools no one. Although the Pokemon League allows Pokemon Gyms to be affiliated with “major local enterprises,” whatever that means, it stipulates that lack of membership with that organization can not preclude a challenger from battling the Pokemon Gym. Paul states his rights.

Intimidated by his exact quotation of the relevant subsection, the woman directs his attention to the set of royal purple double doors in the back of the building. He waits for further explanation; although not required, the League “highly recommends” that a gym tell its challengers the specialization of its Gym Leader. She does not give any. They stare at each other, eyes narrowed in evaluation. The woman is shrewd; she must be in order to command children.

But Paul has the advantage. He does not have to command children.

A pudgy boy scuttles up to the teacher’s desk. Paul’s stomach turns. So-called “class clowns” are always so pathetic. They feed off of the attention of others like a Golbat, unable to subsist without wasting others’ time.

And time is a precious thing.

The woman’s gaze follows Paul’s. She shouts and waves the ruler in her hand threateningly. The pudgy boy looks up at Paul pleadingly.

Paul walks away.

The classroom door behind him is slammed shut. All of the classrooms are shut. Locked. However, growing up on a journey with his brother has honed his senses. He can hear through the doors. It is mostly typical things: reading, writing, math. Paul does not hear any history lessons, but he has heard that in most schools, subjects are only taught at their designated time, and Paul neither knows nor cares when exactly “history time” is.

However, as he passes the last classroom, he hears something he has never heard from the trainers his brother challenged on his journey.

“You have had your lunch,” a masculine voice booms. “Now it is time for The Pledge of Loyalty.”

Many of the trainers Reggie battled tended to not have a loyalty to learning. If Paul had not done his own research, he would have thought that schools were a punishment, not a privileged enrichment. Curiosity piqued, he slows his pace to listen in.

“Repeat my every word. I pledge loyalty to Our Leader. Who tamed the dragons that ravaged this land. His organization stands for us against the waves of outsiders. Who threaten to take our land into theirs. I pledge to serve Him and His officers, protecting the land that we will die on.”

That is not a pledge of learning. But Paul understands the value of obedience, so he continues.
~~~​
On the other side of the double doors is a battlefield. It is a battlefield by the barest definition of the term: dirt turf surrounded by a barbed wire fence. The white demarcations sectioning off the combatants’ respective sides of the battlefield are barely visible. However, one thing stands out, standing above all else: a metal podium. A man stands at its center, rimrod straight, nothing moving but his eyes.

Paul follows his gaze to a Pokemon battle. A girl is commanding a Lillipup. A boy is cowering with a Patrat. The girl’s Lillipup has the boy’s Patrat in its jaws. The man blows a whistle. All four whip around to face him. He is about to say something, but that is when he spots Paul. The man waves the children away and focuses on the challenger, gesturing him to come onto the battlefield.

As Paul passes the boy, his own Patrat chitters at the other Patrat. The other Patrat perks up, but before it can distract them any further, Paul shushes it. “Stand watch,” he orders. “That is all you will do. If you fail to do this, there will be consequences.”

Paul can feel it slide off his back.

He tries not to get sidetracked by that. The man on the podium studies him. Paul knows his eyes: They are the eyes of an eternal student.

Paul just hopes he will learn something from this battle. “You are here for a gym battle.” He eyes Patrat critically. The boy remembers that he must have the same strength as the gym leader. No matter; Patrat is definitely weaker. Paul knows that the gym leader sees that. He jumps off the podium, legs still stiff, and takes his position. The man wastes no time explaining the rules of a gym battle; Paul wonders if word of his encyclopedic knowledge of the regulations has preceded him.

The man sends out a Patrat of his own. Paul’s eyes flicker between the two members of the same species. The man’s Patrat stands on its hind legs, scanning the other for weaknesses. His own Patrat is huddled behind his leg, a quadrupedal ball of raised hackles, scanning the area for threats. Pathetic.

He takes out a Pokeball. “Baldr, stand by for battle!”

The Tepig emerges, working at its palate with its tongue. It is not prepared for battle. The Gym Leader recognizes this, raising an eyebrow. Good little boys fade into the background. Good little boys get underestimated, so good little boys can crush the competition. Losing is not an option. The boy seizes the initiative. “Ember!”

An order is all it takes for the Pokemon’s natural indifference to give way to obedience, Paul reflects, as the fire type snorts and a gout of flame is expelled from one nostril.

The attack hits, but the Gym Leader does not order his Pokemon to dodge. Instead… “Work Up.”

Work Up? Paul doesn’t know what that move is. He, thus, turns to observing his opponent. The Patrat’s tail goes from swishing laxly, a sign of confidence in many Pokemon species with tails, to a stilted twitching as a red glow emanates out from its eyes. It is not an attack, the boy reasons, but it is preparation for one.

Paul hopes that the attack will never come to fruition. “Now! Tackle!”

The Tepig’s deformed face has no impact on its ability to charge into its opponent. Patrat skids back and even falls to one knee. But Paul recognizes the glint in its eye; the battle is not over yet. “Tackle.”

Tepig’s Tackle was by no means ineffective, but Patrat’s Tackle far outclasses it. The Fire Pig Pokemon is knocked off its feet and sent flying. As it collides with the barbed wire fence, there is concern that the first bout might go to the Gym Leader, but the heap of orange and red rises, a stream of red flowing down its back.

Paul blinks. For a moment, he sees his brother, his hand over his mouth. Red is seeping out from between his fingers.

It can’t be blood. Pokemon battles cause injuries, yes, but Gym Leaders are sophisticated. They have control. Only weak children lack the control to not have their Pokemon draw blood. And it was the fence. Not the Pokemon.

Still, the boy can not swallow away the lump in his throat. He wants to end this battle. Now. “Tackle!” No red. Patrat is knocked out. Clean. Simple.

But the Gym Leader has two Pokeballs on his belt. He sends out a Lillipup. This specimen is one less foreign to him. This Lillipup has the same frothing at the mouth as his does. Anticipation for the hunt.

But now that doesn’t put him at ease.

He remembers how Hugh looked at his Lillipup: a scathing hatred, fueled by… jealousy. It is not another Rattata situation. It is powerful.

Hugh feared that it would get rid of the body.

“Sköll, stand by for battle!”

It is powerful. It will end the battle. Quickly. The boy orders a Tackle to be used. The attack is executed flawlessly, and it is far more powerful than the Tepig’s Tackle, but the Gym Leader’s Pokemon, despite being hit directly, is not fazed. “Work Up.”

What is Work Up? It’s not an attack. Paul orders an attack. “Work Up.”

Why isn’t it getting hurt? Does Work Up raise its defense? Paul commands Leer, but his Pokemon charges in, all wild eyes.

He recognizes that expression in the other Lillipup. “Bite.” His Lillipup’s head has collided with the other Lillipup’s chest. The canine Pokemon snaps its head down on the neck. The wolf’s hunt is complete.

It looks up. It looks at Paul. Red between its teeth.

Paul is not powerful. He is weak. He has never been weak before. He has always been the strong one. He doesn’t know what’s going to happen.

Except he does. Hugh told him. And because of him, Reggie-

A yelp. Red running down the Lillipup’s nose. A blur. Collision with a shield. Protect. No. Detect. A tuft of white. It is that white against the snow that allows the boy to see.

Patrat weaving in between the Lillipup’s Bites and Tackles. Dodging, guarding with Detect when necessary. Enough time between Detects for it to re-charge. His own words come rushing back to him: Even if a Rattata is pathetic, it will fight if it’s cornered. He wasn’t fighting. But it is.

And in that moment, Paul sees for the first time what he is truly looking at. A tiny man presenting the gods with their greatest weapon, shadow cast against the flames of the forge. A hall in preparation for Ragnarök.

He sees a chance.

He will not squander it. Paul scans his surroundings. He can not scale that barbed wire fence. Tepig is bleeding. That will make them easy to track. The double doors to the school are not locked. The classrooms lining to the hall to the exit are locked. But when he leaves, he can’t come back. He can’t leave without his badge.

A badge. He sees the glint of the metal, purple, regal, on the children’s shirts. Guards. But distracted. The boy’s is loose; his Patrat watches his own with wonder. The boy watches too.

He returns Tepig. Paul watches.

The attacks are not powerful. In fact, they are weak. But little by little, the weak attacks have powerful impacts. The Lillipup is bleeding.

He sees a chance.

Paul moves towards the exit. The girl does not see. The boy does not see. The man does not see.

Sindri sees. He stops. There is red. He has been bitten. But it was the last of his opponent’s power.

In one movement, Paul returns the Pokemon, snatches the badge, and runs. The key to running is running for your life.
First badge get! First death get! Indeed, as the nuzlocke giveth, the nuzlocke taketh away....

I hope, even in reading this chapter, you sense that this is a turning point. If you're not as sure, re-read this chapter after a few more have been released. :)

As for the process of writing this chapter, I think my favorite part was incorporating the "Paulisms" (sayings that Paul, well, say—repeatedly). What are some "Paulisms" you have identified? I recently put all of Brotherhood in one document, so I can search for specific terms. It feels good. I still prefer doing the actual writing on individualized documents, but I recommend, to all you readers who are also writers, to experiment with a master document—if for no other reason than to gawk at your word count. :P (As of writing this author's note, Brotherhood—excluding, like, bbcode and author's notes—is, like, 25,000 words!?

Oh yes. Number of times Sindri saved the run counter: 1. (Yes, this number will go up!)

Not convinced that Sindri saved us? Well, I've decided to release my gameplay notes for the gym battles and other major battles. Take a look!
  • My team before Cheren
    • Baldr the Tepig (lvl 13): Tackle, Tail Whip, Ember, Defense Curl
    • Sindri the Patrat (lvl 13): Tackle, Leer, Bite, Detect
    • Skoll the Lillipup (lvl 13): Tackle, Leer, Odor Sleuth, Bite
  • Plan for Cheren
    • Use Skoll to Tackle Cheren's Patrat
    • Use Skoll to Leer Cheren's Lillipup a lot
    • May have to use Skoll as a sacrifice, so the faster Sindri can get a free switch-in
    • Or maybe use Baldr’s Defense Curl to cancel out Lillipup's Work Up
    • Or hope for a burn?
    • Fuck, both Skoll and Baldr only have 19 speed
    • And Sindri only has 1 more speed
    • I think I need to start with Baldr
    • If I'm faster, I can safely Defense Curl
    • If I'm not, I'll switch into Skoll to Leer and Tackle, which should be my strongest move against it
    • Skoll might be a sacrifice, but from there, I should be able to pull through
    • If not… Well, I'm glad I haven't started writing yet
  • Cheren battle:
    • Um, fuck
    • I forgot to equip my Oran Berries
    • And I didn't buy any additional Potions
    • OK, I at least have 4 Potions and 1 Fresh Water
    • At +1 Work Up, Cheren's Patrat's Tackle goes critical and gets Baldr to 13/40 HP
    • Cheren uses his Potion on Patrat
    • And I guess that means no Potion for Lillipup, but Work Up is still a threat
    • A Potion for Baldr
    • That's enough for Baldr to survive Patrat's Tackle
    • And for Baldr to reach level 14!
    • Oh, God
    • Lillipup is faster, even though Baldr is level 14
    • OK, Skoll
    • Become a legend or die trying
    • Lillipup's +2 Tackle gets Skoll to 13/37 HP
    • And Skoll's Tackle only gets Lillipup to about ⅓ HP
    • I don't even get Leer off
    • Skoll is dead
    • Sindri is faster
    • Lillipup uses Work Up
    • Surely it will be instadeath if it chooses not to set up further
    • I can try fishing for flinches with Bite
    • Sindri survives the Tackle
    • 3/37 HP
    • But Bite doesn't get the KO
    • If I had picked Tackle, would the STAB have made a difference?
    • OH GOD IT DOESN'T MATTER
    • SINDRI IS FASTER
    • Sindri doesn't get the level up, but now, he is a legend in my mind

Oh, and I almost forgot! Now that we've had a few chapters without the differentiating fonts, I wanted to introduce a third possible option. Since this is a narrative focalized through Paul, I thought it not very Paul-like to give everyone bold-faced dialogue. I think this is a useful tool from a character perspective, but I understand that, if, as a reader, this choice does not help understanding?

So I'd like to field opinions on this style. (In which only Paul—and Reggie, because Paul won't leave him out—have bold dialogue.)
 
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Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,139
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #16
Run, boy, run.

Paul is a boy again, running from his father’s pitiless gaze, running from the mother’s corpse, running from his brother on the floor, screaming. Screaming for her. Screaming for himself. Screaming for Paul not to look, although he was the one who found her. He imagines his own mother went out screaming, if the trial of birth is anything like the stories. She went out fighting, they tell him. They can only imagine.

Paul keeps his mind’s eye trained on a future he can imagine. In seeing that future, he goes unseen.

He is back at that threshold. Route 20, Hugh had said. Almost there. But the haven of the ranch is in the past. Paul pushes through the vestiges of nostalgia. It makes him weak.

Weak. That’s it.

In the weakening light, he sees it anew: the weak river. His pursuers will cross the bridge. Paul creeps onto the riverbank, careful to keep his footprints on top of pre-existing ones. Many are too small, children’s feet, but there are those that he can match. It is an elaborate dance to the end of the river. And, then, before the end of the river, it ends.

The river has not been tamed. Paul sees it anew: the trickling of the defeated stream makes way to a triumphant waterfall. Victory is in sight.

He squints. Across the bridge, there are a set of stairs. A man stands in front of them. He does not see him. Neither does his Pokemon. It is blue, but it is not an Oshawott. He looks harder. It is bipedal. It stands on its toes. It has feelers on its head. A Riolu.

He wonders what the legends of Unova have been.

Paul doesn’t want to be a legend. He wants to survive. He takes the plunge.

He wonders if the legends of Unova feature the winter. It is no Sinnohian winter. The snow has melted from that first day. In Sinnoh, it is spring before the snow melts. But it is still winter.

The water is cold. It seeps through his coat, his armor, pooling into those weakened places, and the memories come flooding back. He can’t see!

And that’s before he spills over the edge.
~~~​
He surfaces, and he’s shaking. He had needed to stay still after he finished spinning in the water to tell where up was. He’s up. He looks up. The sun is going down. He wants to lay down. But not in the dirt. Gross. He has never liked sleeping outside. He likes sleeping away from people. Not outside. Big difference.

He wants to go inside, even if there are people there. People are gross, but people are warm. He is so cold. Why can’t he stop shaking? But he’s burning. Why does it burn!?

He feels the burning of eyes. He ducks into a cluster of trees, willing his teeth to be quiet! There are two little boys. “Do ya think Our Leader’ll come to stop da rebel leader?”

“Our Leader won’t come here! He’s got important stuff!”

“Like what!?”

“Important stuff! His organization!”

“...Oh.” But he has an argument. “His organization has gone to Eastern Unova. Why can’t He come to Western Unova?”

The other boy concedes the point. “OK, OK. Da rebel leader’s important stuff. Do ya think we’ll see members of His organization?”

The supreme authority speaks. “Of course! Our Leader’ll get da big guy, an’ then His organization will finish da little ones!” A beat. “Not us little ones. We’re good. We better practice our Pledge, so they’ll see how good we are, an’ we can ask to join.”

The plan is made. As the duo scamper away, squealing at the recognition of nighttime, Paul shivers in the dark. They won’t follow him here. The good little boys or the bad people. He will sleep. In the morning, he will battle a Gym Leader. No! Two! And he will crush the competition because he is a good little boy.

Oh. Good little boys should call their brothers. Mumbling, Paul stumbles through the empty gate. He sees grey. And purple. Secretly, purple is his favorite color. He wonders if there will be a purple computer inside the Pokemon Center.

Bright. His eyes burn. Like his ears and his nose and the fingers and the foot-fingers.

“Paul?” Who is this man? He is not his brother. Whimpering, he moves to leave, but a pair of talons grabs him by the hood. “Thanks a million, Juneau!” The man has talons. He needs to run. The key to your life is running. “Oh no, you don’t!” He is on the floor. He doesn’t want to lay down here! “Nurse Joy!” the man grunts in between his thrashing. “A little help..! Ow! What the fuck!? I’m trying to save your ass!”

He doesn’t need saving. Reggie does. “Reggie…”

“He can wait!” the man barks.

No! Why doesn’t anyone understand!? No, Reggie can’t! Something furry, something warm. He yawns. Did it yawn first? A bed. Furry, warm. He still feels gross, but there are no people behind his eyelids.
Well, well, look who's come running back. I mean, Paul, but also me, running back to using song references. "Run Boy Run" by Woodkid is an applicable reference here, though, since Paul is a boy running. :P

This is a shorter chapter, but I hope that, despite the lack of progress from a gameplay standpoint, you don't see this as padding.

If for no other reason than that dazed Paul provides an interesting contrast to his typical style of narration.
 
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Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,139
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #17
There is blood. There is blood on his hands, and he doesn’t know whose. The boy’s eyes fly open, and there is light, and it hurts.

“Easy, easy!” And two Pokemon voices, saying most likely much the same thing. He blinks back the light wearily. He groans. Hugh is here. “Yeah, yeah,” the man snaps. “I’m the worst for saving your ass.”

Has he heard that before? Never mind. Not important. Paul takes stock of his body. He’s shivering; he doesn’t think he’s stopped. His fingers and toes are throbbing; it’s like a burning. And he’s tired. Oh so tired. But there’s no time.

He doesn’t have time to react as a paper is thrown at his face. “Save yah brain, will ya? They did the hard woirk for ya!” Paul picks up the paper with annoyingly uncooperative hands. Hypothermia. Elements of frostbite. Yes, that was about what he suspected. “As ya can see, we spent alotta time woirkin’ on ya.”

We?” His voice isn’t coming out like it should. He clears his throat.

Luckily, the principle of the thing is understood. “Yeah, we! I may not be a medic, but they put me to woirk! Me an’ Albany an’ Juneau!” Juneau? That’s a new name to him. Paul braces his arms against the headrest to look past Hugh. He still can’t see Albany from his position because it is a small Pokemon, but there is an airborne Pokemon. He doesn’t recognize it. “Juneau, Paul. Paul, Juneau. If it weren’t for her, you woulda gone right back out into the night to curl up an’ die!”

“I was not going to do tat.”

“Oh, really? How were ya plannin’ on not dyin’?” The man flops over the bed, his head on his hands and, ugh, kicking his heels like some child. “Do tell.” Well, the logical thing to do would have been to have Tepig dry off his clothes and use its internal heat through the cold night. Paul tells Hugh this. Hugh, then, has to ask the obvious question: “Then why didn’t ya?”

The obvious answer is that his mental faculties were somehow compromised, but Paul does not want to give the man that information. Instead, he points out that he had returned his Pokemon to their Pokeballs. Hugh’s eyes widen. “Your Pokemon..! If they’re anything like you, they need help too!”

And the thing is… He’s right. He reaches for his Pokeballs. He goes to throw one, but instead it slips out of his shaky hands and clatters onto the floor.

No Pokemon comes out.

Hugh goes pale. Paul quirks a brow at him. Is the idea of preparing by buying Pokeballs in bulk so appalling to him? He manages to use the second Pokeball properly, though, and a Pokemon does emerge from it.

The hair on Tepig’s back is matted from dried blood, but other than that, it looks fine. As fine as- “-a starving Pokemon can be.” Paul’s eyes flit in annoyance towards Hugh. The man is extending his arms to the little fire type. “What happened to ya, little guy? Does your back hurt?” Paul can not ignore the pang of pride in his chest as his Pokemon ignores the man to wander around the room, deformed snout twitching. “Well, I guess he’s not that hurt,” Hugh concludes, utterly deflated.

Paul rides off of the feeling that gives him as he uses his third Pokeball. Pop.

He is the one falling back to earth. White against the snow, red in its teeth, the purple of the badge, the resignation in Sindri’s eyes. The Patrat thought Paul was going to leave him to his death. Sköll died. He would have died too, if not for Sindri.

Baldr tackles the rodent Pokemon, squealing, as if still in disbelief himself. But Paul looks closer and realizes that the other knew better. Baldr had never underestimated Sindri. Sindri whines in embarrassment—something tugs at the boy—and pushes the Tepig off of him.

“Hey, that’s… Only two…” Paul watches the gears turning behind the man’s eyes. The boy nods. “Paul…” And suddenly those eyes are on him, and he gasps. “Ya really didn’t think they’d die, did ya?”

And that’s partially right. Paul believed it could happen to other people. But not him. He’s strong. Or… He thought he was. His very battling style was built on that foundation. Paul’s battling style. But he is not Paul. He is still Paulie, wriggling into his brother’s bed. He is still Paulie, clinging to his brother’s pant leg as he screams for his mother to wake up. He is still Paulie, having the gall to run when his brother gets the diagnosis.

His brother. He’s late for his call with his brother! He opens his mouth, but no voice comes out. “I know what ya wanna say.” Paul highly doubts that. “What kind of person could just kill a Pokemon like that?” Paul’s doubts are proven correct. “Well, I, uh, moight have some insight on that. See, I knew Cheren. Well, not knew-knew him, but-” How can he care about some murderer’s tragic backstory when his brother, who is dying, is worrying himself sick over his own irresponsibility? “-I knew of him. See, Cheren was a contendah. Past tense. He and his two friends, Hill and Bianca, they were stompin’ gyms left an’ right! We thought any one of them could turn out to be Unova’s next Champion! I’d left behind the battling life—I had people I didn’t want to leave behind—but even I was getting swept up in the excitement of it all. But everything changed when Team Plasma attacked.” Hugh grows quiet. Paul seizes his chance- “They killed a lot of people, but among them were Hill and Bianca. Like I said, I don’t know Cheren, but they were his friends. They were dead. So nothing else matters. I know that.” Paulie had one job: to keep his brother comfortable. That’s what the doctor said.

He hates Paulie.

Hugh finally does shut his mouth. Paul opens his. “Is my face okay?”

Hugh opens his mouth. It hangs open. Paul is about to get up, even just to see the look on his face when the man will get all obnoxiously overbearing, but then the man’s face twists into anger. “What did you ask me!?”

The man should be grateful for this brief instance of understanding between them. “Ah,” the boy says, suppressing a shiver, stoking the flames. “So you did hear me.”

The man storms out, his Oshawott hot on his heels. The bird Pokemon, however, does not leave. It flies up onto the front of the bed and stares at him: You know this is a bad idea.

What am I supposed to do, leave Reggie to existential dread? Imagination is always worse than the truth.
Not that he’ll be telling his brother the truth. “Shoo.”
~~~​
He knows this is a bad idea. Since Hugh never answered his question, Paul consults a mirror. The mirror recommends rest. Paul does not take the mirror’s recommendation… for the moment. It hurts, and he knows it will only hurt more if he doesn’t take some time to rest, but he also knows something else: His brother has been unable to rest since he missed his normal time for calling.

Surprisingly, he does not need to explain his decision to anyone at the Pokemon Center. He wonders if Hugh has told them that he will be talking to a corpse.

He imagines that would cause people to go away. He wonders if he should try that argument sometime.

Or maybe these people are just afflicted with logic, avoiding a hotbed of terrorists. Hugh is walking around far too confidently for this to be a normal Pokemon Center—and didn’t he tell him that the staff let him help?

That is decidedly abnormal.

Paul, at least, believes that such people have no interest in the choreography of two brothers who do not want to say anything but want to make noise. Yes indeed, Paul is not an aberration of the kind, patient, and gentle Reggie. Paul is a continuation of the angry, impatient, and hostile boy who was left to put the pieces of a family back together. That boy grew into a kind, patient, and gentle man, but that seed, that seed of injustice, has never left his brother.

That is why Paul looks up to him, just as Paulie did.

Paul prepares his face against the black mirror of the computer screen. If it were up to him, they would only be using voice. That is a lie. If it were up to him, only he would be using voice. The boy has been haunted by the absence of his brother’s face.

As it appears on the screen, he muses that it is less of a face than the last time he saw it. Faces are windows to the soul. That is not a lie. It is just… not quite right. It is not that his brother has less of a soul than the last time he saw him. It is that he has less energy with which to express that soul.

When is the last time his brother has danced?

“Paul!” Reggie exclaims. “You’re late!”

“Sorry.”

“No worries!”
That’s a good little lie.

“I earned a Gym Badge.”

“Tat’s awesome!”
No, awesome is the way his brother memorized that dance, practicing for hours in front of the TV screen, spinning as the camera spun around the two lovers, not that Paul knew that at the time, and dashing to Paulie’s room, getting the toddler on top of his feet and making him spin with him. His brother is a good dancer. Was. “Vhat Pokemon did you use?”

Actually, that brings up something they can talk about. Paul is grateful that he brought both of his Pokeballs with Pokemon in them with him, although he only uses one. The Tepig with the deformed face appears on his lap and paws at the video call, soul bursting out. “Oh!” his brother remarks, his own soul shining, answering the call of the fire in the other’s eyes. “A Tepig! Hi!”

For the first time since waking up, Paul feels warm. “You know te species?”

“Hugh’s told you tat we used to travel together, right?”


Answering a question with a question. They’re dancing in circles. Just like the lovers. Just like back then. Paul spins a good little lie. “Yes, but tat was a long time ago. Tere was no guarantee you vould still remember.”

“You vish my memory was that bad!”
His brother laughs, and Paul laughs with him, because those memories are precious things, and neither of them dare to corrupt them right now. Because it hurts. “Hugh vishes too! The tings tat guy’s done..!”

“I believe you,”
Paul tells Reggie, and that is the truth.

As he recovers from the pangs of the past, Reggie leans in to the camera, humming as he examines the sorry specimen in front of him. “Have you gotten a formal diagnosis?” Paul shakes his head. “Have you been feeding him with small but regular meals?” Paul nods. “Has he been eating?”

“Chewing is a problem, but appetite is not.”


Reggie smiles. Paul can see the memory staring back at him through his brother’s eyes: Paulie in the high chair, letting slop slide out but crying for more. He expects his brother to say something to that effect.

Instead, what his brother says is, “Take good care of tis little guy. I have a good feeling about him.”

Paul’s stomach sinks. He knows that Reggie hasn’t “felt good” in a long time. But Paul spins a good little lie. Because he is a good little boy. He will succeed where Paulie failed.
Hey, guys, remember that third character under the spoilers? That's right: Reggie here will be a recurring character! I wouldn't call him a "main character"—he's not as prominent as Paul and Hugh—but I hope, as this story progresses, you'll see how he's a tie that binds—and a tie that breaks.

...What does that mean? Well, let's just say this isn't the last time we're going to be talking to Reggie!
 

Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,139
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #18
As is becoming somewhat of a tradition for Brotherhood, have a holiday, semi-canon chapter! Happy Gay Pride Day and Happy Pride Month!

I'm putting the content warnings individually here, in case you're just here for the Pride content. :)

Content Warnings: internalized homophobia, ableist language, references to the cure narrative, references to wet dreams.

Apocalypse is not a new story. Tales of the end have echoed across the world—across the worlds, the old faith says—since the beginning. He knows Old Sinnoh’s—not that the people identified themselves as a precursor to anything else—story of apocalypse best: Ragnarök, the celestial war that creates a new world.

Or is it created?

The thing about stories is that they are just as easily memories as they are foretellings.

Paul digs into his memory and comes up with crumbs of other stories between his fingernails: the last avatar of Vishnu, Frashokereti, heat death. But, for stories so large, the scraps he has of them are infinitesimal. Even large pieces of the end of the world are impossibly small. He doesn’t know who Vishnu is. He doesn’t know how to pronounce Frashokereti. As for the scientists’ perspective, they haven’t decided if it’s going to be a heat death or a Big Freeze or a Big Rip or a Big Crunch or a Big Bounce or a Big Slurp.

It will be something Big.

The stories have that in common, at least.

His personal apocalypse is small. He has the biggest allegiance to Old Sinnoh because Reggie has the biggest allegiance to Old Sinnoh, but neither of them remember where that allegiance came from. One of the mothers, surely.

But the other mother believed in a different story. The scraps of her apocalypse are small but instead of being caked into his cuticles, they are as the lines of his palm: furtive notes, scrawled away. There are four horsemen: Death, Famine, War, and Conquest.

They are a sickness.

Malaise hangs over his family. A sickness of the body: Reggie and his mother. A sickness of the mind: him and Reggie’s mother. A sickness of the heart: their father. It is an uncomfortable association. His mother is dead; Reggie is living. Reggie’s mother is dead; he is living. It is an association. That is all.

They are a punishment.

It is selfish, he knows. The world does not end when his family does. Even still, he begs for mercy. His prayers drift up to Ásgarðr, to whoever resides there now, whether it be Óðinn’s generation or the godlings who watched Surtr’s inferno or Arceus and the divine eggs. He wonders, sometimes, if the rain from the sea fronts is the Æsir crying the tears he never did or if it is just condensation off of Yggdrasill’s leaves.

Paul would be OK with that. That would at least be natural.

Because that’s what these stories are. Everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The world is a part of everything. The mother used examples. Beginning: Wurmple. Middle: Silcoon or Cascoon. End: Beautifly or Dustox. Beginning: baby. Middle: girl or boy. End: woman or man. Beginning: a girl or boy alone. Middle: a girl meeting a boy or a boy meeting a girl. End: girl and boy together.

Reggie gave him the sequel to that talk when he got older: A boy and girl together make a baby. The cycle begins again.

But cycles aren’t like stories. Stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Cycles are as Jörmungandr, the World Serpent: everlasting, shapeless. Cycles continue forever.

Reggie seemed so excited by the idea: “Imagine that, Paulie! Someone made us, and we can make someone else!”

Paul knows that Reggie has imagined that. He has met girls. He knows Reggie thinks that he has met The Girl.

But Reggie will not create a new life before his life is extinguished.

And here is the life he nurtured, burning brightly, not wanting to do his part in the cycle. He is not the only one in the cycle. Everyone carries the burden. (He knows neither he nor Reggie were eagerly-anticipated babies.)

And, yet, here he is: A boy not meeting a girl.

No, that’s not it. Here he is: A boy meeting a boy. The story repeats itself. In Kanto, he met Lt. Surge. In Johto, he met Chuck. In Hoenn, he met Norman.

Ah, but those aren’t boys. Those are men. Replacements for the father he never had. He told himself this, even when he would wake up with wet sheets. He told himself this, even as it felt like a betrayal of the brother he did have.

But, then, Sinnoh happened. In Sinnoh, he met a boy. He met a boy who angered him. He met a boy who challenged him. He met a boy who broke cycles.

In Sinnoh, Paul Stenberg met Ash Ketchum.

That was when Paul knew he was in trouble. He started imagining a new story. Beginning: a girl or boy alone. Middle: a girl meeting a girl or a boy meeting a boy. End: girl and girl together or boy and boy together. Paul always thought the bug type metaphor was stupid. Why are the only options Beautifly and Dustox? What is a Kricketune? Then, what is a Kricketot? What about the bug type Pokemon that never evolved?

Apocalypse is not a new story. Neither, he reasoned, was this. He didn’t know what to call it, so he went searching. Searching for words. Searching for faces. Searching for a definition of the feeling that was undeniably inside of him.

Paul found words: declarations of criminality, examples of decadence, and sneers of weakness. Paul found faces: mugshots behind bars, people sitting atop generations of riches, and victims of plague. Paul found definitions: Homosexuality is “paraphilia.” Homosexuality is “sexual orientation disturbance.” Homosexuality is “ego-dystonic.”

Homosexuality is wrong.

In search for deliverance, the boy searched for stories. A disease that wiped out a generation of homosexual creatives. An obsession driving apart a marriage. Kids his age being murdered.

There was no story of a boy reuniting with the other boy, and the duo singing and dancing in celebration. “I have no use for rings of gold. I care not for your poetry. I only want your hand to hold-” the woman had declared.

“-I only want you near me!” the man had agreed.

He re-watched the scene over and over. Paul wanted a partner. A male partner. But… It was unproductive. They wouldn’t create a child. And because of them, there would be two women who couldn’t create a child. Reggie’s mother told stories of how people were made for each other. She talked about how fulfilling it was to have children. (They must have not been good children, for her to kill herself. He knows he wasn’t a good child, but Reggie was. Why didn’t Reggie balance it out?) Just because his mind was defective didn’t mean he could deny a healthy person that connection! It was selfish to do that. It was selfish to prevent people from being born. That was like killing in and of itself! Wasn’t it? But even if it wasn’t, he was singing and dancing with another boy, he wasn’t taking care of Reggie. If Reggie hadn’t taken care of him, he would have died. He was too young to live on his own.

But, most of all, Paul realized that it was unnatural.

That was why it was linked to crime and greed and weakness. It was not supposed to happen. It was an aberration.

He thought that information would have the power to purge it. He was wrong.

He feels unnatural because, despite all that, Paul still wants it. He wants it as much as he wants Ragnarök. Who knows what cures the new world will contain? Cures for Death, Famine, War, Conquest, and whatever sickness lingers over the Stenbergs? He knows that that hope is not unnatural.
So obviously this passage is full of internalized homophobia and ableism.

I hope, though, that the reasons for these conclusions of Paul’s are clear too: A sense of obligation towards Reggie, a lack of inclusive sex education, and the villainization of non-heterosexual identities in media. The stories we tell do impact our perceptions, and, thus, reality.

I hope this Pride Month Create-a-Thon will create some stories that challenge such narratives of “unnaturalness.”
 
Last edited:

Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,139
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #19
Paul ends the phone call with his brother, who tells him he should pursue an official diagnosis sooner rather than later. They say goodbye to each other. Paul sees the image of his brother’s face burned into that black mirror. He looks at the Tepig; his eyes are burning bright. At least I can work to prevent someone from starving.

If only he could tie up his brother’s stomach, so the food will stay in.

Paul walks up to one of the doctors, who looks official enough, then walks back to bed.
~~~​
The human body is a miserable machine, but Paul is put out of his misery by a question. The same doctor he asked to set up an appointment finally got around to making a diagnosis, and he asks the boy, “Do you want to put him out of his misery?” It will be hard work to take care of a Pokemon with permanent cranial deformities.

It is a timely question, Paul thinks, considering he has been asked it before. He gives the same answer he gave before. He knows what happens when Baldr dies.

He dons an extra layer, but after being asked that question, Paul sees no reason not to go training. Hugh disagrees. “Nuh-uh! You owe me!”

“I have not turned you in.”

“And I expect you not to turn in the friends of the person who saved your life either.”

“You are not te first.” A mother chose to keep him after another mother chose to keep him. A brother chose to step up to becoming a father. The boy he raised is choosing to step up to becoming a savior. Life is a series of choices—and in terms of traveling companions, Paul wonders if he could be making a better one.

“Considering the stunt you pulled, I won’t be the last.” The assertion gives Paul pause. Is getting hypothermia in the winter truly so unusual? The man pokes his nose. “Now don’t go swimming with the Frillish now!”

The boy swats him away. Still, something he says sticks with him. “What is… a Frillish?”

“You’ll meet him.”
~~~​
Paul was thinking that the Pokemon Center was too nice a place for terrorists. Hugh escorts him to a place far more fitting: down rickety stairs, among the brine of the ocean, with barnacles crawling. Fitting for scum.

They hear shouting as they approach. "We can't keep ‘im ‘ere! Even if his parents approved, ‘e's just a kid!"

"We don't owe his parents anything. They won't even call him by his name."

"I agree with Magnemite!"

"It's not about ‘is parents! It's about how when they go low, we go ‘igh. Dey are the ones who brainwash children. We keep kids outada mess!"

"Wouldn't it be cool if I helped un-brainwash some of those kids? Plasma don't care! They're gonna sic 'em on us like… like... a flock of Ducklett after a sandwich!"

Paul looks at Hugh. Hugh shrugs. He seems unconcerned with dissent among the dissidents. Paul wonders if the terrorists will end up turning themselves in, at this rate. Hugh raps on the door. Despite the lackadaisical expression on his face, there is an intensity to the way he touches the door: a rusted slab seemingly excavated from some evicted property. Paul has no doubt that he could punch a hole in this door, the way he attacked that tree when he saw the body of the sword Pokemon. Perhaps that is intentional, distracting the raider with that rush of power as the criminals scuttle away.

“By the Swoirds..!” a voice gasps on the other side. The door swings open. A man is standing at the threshold, arms rumbling with the fat pooling there like stillwater, limbs splayed out as if in presentation of dissection, beady eyes poking out of the rolls around the face and a blackening bottom canine piercing a knotty, brown beard.

“Sorry to interrupt,” Hugh says, his smile belying a simmering frustration. Paul can recognize it in his companion because it is a technique he has used himself. Although he must admit that Hugh’s smiles are more convincing.

Maybe that is what makes it so effective. The man shrinks back. “No, no! You’re just da person we need, Liepard!” It takes him too long to notice the other person. “Who’s dis?”

The man steps to the side, revealing Paul with a flourish, as if he is a prize he won. Paul makes apparent how he is glaring at the other. He refuses to be paraded around like some token catch. “Let’s cawl him…” Hugh glances back, registers the glaring, then decides, “...Starly!”

“Starly?” the fat man echoes.

A flat voice from in the back corner of the chamber answers the call for knowledge that wasn’t really called for. “Starly, native to Sinnoh. Sinnoh: Routes 201, 202, 203, 204, 209, and 212, Lake Verity, Great Marsh. Unova: White Forest (now extinct). Kalos: Route 11. Evolution number one: Staravia. Sinnoh-”

“We’re not tawkin’ ‘bout promotin’ ‘im already!” the fat man shouts. He looks at Hugh desperately. “Are we!?” Paul enjoys watching a grown man beg, well, this grown man, he’s watched Reggie beg, beg his mother, beg their father, beg silently for that girl he likes to- There’s an enjoyment to watching a stranger grovel.

Paul takes greater enjoyment, though, in distancing himself from this flailing group of miscreants. “No.”

As the man sighs, Hugh strides in, taking Paul in by pushing on his waist. The intimacy of that contact jolts Paul out of his body and into Paulie’s. Paulie is being picked up. Awkwardly. By a man who has never held a child before. Reggie takes Paulie from Hugh, but then hands him back.

When was that!? Reggie has told him that he was there too, when he and Hugh traveled together, but people travel together all the time and don’t just pass around children!

Speaking of children, there is a child here. The child is scrawny and has blonde hair made slimy from far too much hair gel, sticking out what is meant to be spikes but come out like tumors. And the child is staring at Hugh like the man hung the stars.

Oh no.

Hugh is not looking at the child, though. He is looking at a middle-aged woman with thick glasses and wearing plaid overalls. Paul looks closer and realizes that the shirt underneath is plaid too. Hugh mouths something to the plaid woman. She nods.

And then Hugh transforms. That simmering anger is extinguished, and there is a lightness to his voice, like a wind blowing from behind, that he has never heard from the man before. “Hello,” he says to the child. “How’d you find this place? You must be really smart to have gotten here.”

The child puffs out. “Well, that’s cuz I am!” He—Paul can sense a “manly” affectation—extends his hand to Hugh. “I’m Tynamo!”

Hugh laughs. Paul feels like he’s on the wrong side of this scene. He should be on the outside of this house. It is far too domestic for a man who has never held a child before. An errant thought constricts into anxiety. He searches for slipperiness in the man’s voice, but to his shock, Hugh just sounds… happy.

Happy to be around this arrogant little boy. “You heard me, right? I can go to my school an’ tell ‘em all about how evil Plasma is and how good you guys are!”

Hugh nods thoughtfully. The other man stares at Paul with wide eyes. The Sinnohian trainer looks away, lest he get confused. No, Paul can not control Hugh’s—or should he say Liepard’s—stupidity. “What school do you go to, Tynamo?”

“The Aspertia Academy!” the boy chirps.

“The Academy? Ya really are smart!”

“Damn right!”

Hugh whips to face the middle-aged woman. “Don’t look at me. I’m just his neighbor. And his parents are shitty.”

“I agree with Magnemite!”

Hugh blinks rapidly but returns his attention to the child quickly. “I agree with Magnemite too,” he tells him. “Say, Tynamo, ya mind sticking around for this meeting? We can return to yah idea later. I actually just got back from Aspertia and need to report some things to Frillish.”

“Yes,” the fat man cuts in. “Go play outside. We’ll come get you later.”

“It’s not that interesting.” Hugh pairs an easy smile with hardened eyes. Without breaking contact with the man—Frillish?—he pats a spot on his lap. Without missing a beat, the child burrows in like a parasite.

Frillish clears his throat. “Well, yes, dat’s awl of us who was able to come today.”

“Huh,” Hugh utters. “Small turn-out.”

“We’re trying to be quiet while Koffing gets used to her new position,” the woman, Magnemite, explains. “Plus, some of us were worried that your… Starly might squawk.”

People not trusting Hugh? Perish the thought!

“That’s understandable.” Paul is starting to get annoyed with the numbing effect the child has on Hugh. At least normal Hugh is bombastic enough to allow him to play the straight man, even if he is a foreigner. He picks up the magazine. It’s an unexpectedly pleasant surprise: seeing the shirtless young man on the cover. They say he’s an up-and-coming researcher from an archipelago called Alola. He almost throws the magazine away, because he gets his magazines delivered to an alternate address. But this isn’t one of his magazines. It’s Reggie’s subscription to Breeder’s Monthly. He isn’t sure what this man has discovered that relates to Pokemon breeding, but he reads the article about him. It has more pictures. He shows the article to Reggie, a vague hope rising in his chest. Reggie reports that it seems to him a bit racist to show a researcher only in revealing outfits. Paul makes sure to check to ensure that his magazines are continuing to be delivered to the alternate address.

He blinks back to reality. The terrorists are sitting in a circle. Paul is a part of that circle. He is glad that he cancelled that subscription. He doesn’t have time for such frivolous fantasies. He has missed Hugh’s report—although he suspects that he is Hugh’s report, if the man’s letter about how “desperate” he was was anything to go by—but Frillish’s report is beginning.

“Simisage held out admirably, but dey got him, jus’ like his brothers. Dat coward Watchog didn’t even say anything. Dey were friends!”

“Rest in power,” the crowd echoes.

“So Da Big Bad went and grabbed a kid off the streets of Castelia an’ slapped a Gym Badge on ‘er and said go play.” He looks over at the teen who has not looked up from their fingers, each one bitten into the nail plate. “Elgyem, yah sure ya went to school with ‘er?”

“Yes,” they answer. They tear a bit off of their ring finger.

“Ya just don’t remember ‘er name?”

“Yes.” They stick their finger into their mouth.

Paul swallows back the bile rising past his chest, vaguely hoping that the teen will stop. They don’t.

“Well, we’ve determined that dey made her da second gym leader.”

“Confirms what we thought,” Hugh says. “They’re tryin’ta reign in Western Unova. Explains why they sent The Big Bad on a tour on Eastern Unova after the triplets started makin’ trouble for ‘em. I just wonder if they’re going to move any Gyms from Central Unova to the East to replace ‘em.”

“Central Unova is the main economic engine of the region,” Magnemite states. “It can certainly afford it if the gyms were more evenly spread out across the territory.”

“It don’t matter if dey can afford it!” Frillish insists. “They say they’re the ‘’eart’ of Unova. They added the western and eastern parts, but in their mind, we’re not really Unova.”

“I disagree.” The duo—Paul is starting to get the feeling that they argue a lot—wait on Hugh with bated breath. Pathetic. “I think that’s exactly why they need to get some gyms back in Eastern Unova. The Big Bad calls himself the hero of Unova, right? And he hates everywhere else. So he needs to make sure that everywhere under his thumb thinks of itself as Unova, all beholden to him. He’ll be coming here to the West. Give it a few months, then he’ll be announcing two new gyms in the East: numbers three and four. He’ll scrap Burgh—I think a bug type gym leader reminds him too much of our late champion—but make a new gym in Castelia. Nimbasa’s gym will get the boot. So will Driftveil’s.”

“Really?” Frillish asks. “I think it’ll be Opelucid.”

“Instead of Nimbasa or instead of Driftveil?”

“Oh, I don’t know that far. I just know that the ‘umilau announcement came out of nowhere.”

Hugh curses.

“Can you please not swear in front of the child?” Magnemite asks him.

“I don’t mind!” the child chirps.

“Humilau..! We still have no idea what his plans are for Humilau..!”

“One ding at a time, Liepard,” Frillish advises. “I told you you were just da person we need, right?” The man nods. “I’d like you to do some diggin’ on da new girl. We’ve heard dat ‘er family’s from Sinnoh.” Paul instinctively looks up. He remembers his treatment at the airport: “Don’t get testy wid me, boy, else I’ll throw yeh back on dat plane ta go back ta da frozen wasteland ya belawng.” “Da Big Bad may be usin’ ‘er as an example of how tolerant ‘e is-” Paul looks away, struggling to break out as his body reflexively makes itself smaller. See? I’m not a threat! He can’t afford to be seen as weak in this… den, of people who coil around the world like Jörmungandr. “-but if she really does have foreign ties, maybe she’s not as down to shut out da rest of the woirld as he thinks.”

“I’m honored ya think so highly of me, but yah sleepin’ on a far better person for this job. Ya see, Starly here is from Sinnoh!”

Paul looks up. What?

The fat man looks at him. “What?” he exclaims. “Really!? I never would have known! He’s not so pale!”

Paul blanches at the insinuation. “I know te tale tat is told, tat people from Sinnoh are as white as snow, but-”

“Oh..!” the terrorist moans. “I hear it now! Good find, Liepard!”

Hugh glances between the two furtively. “I think I made a mistake here. See, Starly is recovering from an injury, and I think I overestimated-”

Paul glares at the man. First, he tokenizes him, and now he has the gall to call him weak!? “No.” He locks eyes with Frillish. “What vould you have me do?”

“No need to get cold feet! Yah quite used to the cold, being from up north! I’d just like you to listen in on ‘er conversations. She’s been given a ‘ouse that she lives in with her father. Its walls are thick, so you can’t listen in from the outside, but it has an attic that I’ve ‘eard ain’t in good condition. Or maybe ya can just knock on the door an’ tell her ya wanna talk about Sinnoh!” He laughs. Paul does not laugh along with him, not that he can hear his silence over the laughing of the others.

He is not sure if the man expects him to fly up to an attic, but there is one thing that Paul does know: He may not have hidden in a long time, but it is a skill that does not get forgotten once learned. Like the emergency number or CPR or how to fall asleep among beeping hospital monitors.

“Anyway, it doesn’t ‘ave to be today. Use yah best judgement on when to make your move. Liepard brought ya ‘ere, yeah? Then I trust that ya ‘ave good judgement.”

If this man has a leadership position among the terrorists, then they will implode before those gyms get scrapped.

Hugh and Paul leave, after the terrorists decide that the child should not say anything to his classmates but listen to his teachers, to hear if they say anything about a place called “Humilau.”

Paul’s nose instinctively crinkles at the stench of sea grime. He blinks blearily at the setting sun. He wanted to go training. He has not gone training.
These rebels are throwing off Paul's groove. :c Especially that kid. Paul doesn't like kids. It's a recurring theme for him. He describes children as parasitic. That's a weird conclusion to come to, huh..?
 

Spectacles

Rule Maker
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
139
Caught
Jun 24, 2019
Messages
304
Location
Pennsylvania
Nature
Jolly
Pronouns
she/her
Pokémon Type
Fairy
Pokédex Entry
It hides deep inside caves where no light ever reaches it and remains virtually motionless there. ~Pokemon Crystal, entry #52
Ahh I like that bit about Paul listening to the ‘pledge’. I think that’s going to be another point of character development in the future! Damn, the first death in the first gym. Cheren is no slouch. Also, I think that’s a cool way to incorporate the bold font! I liked that phone conversation between Paul and Reggie- glad to hear he will be a recurring character! And ah boy poor Paul, he is so riddled with negative thoughts. I hope he gets to come to terms with himself!
 

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