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Written Story Spin-off Teen Mon desert daze - a pokemon colosseum storylocke

Thread Description
"motion and change, signs of life, playing in an endless loop" - chapter 4 posted 30th aug

cross_off

you chase the dragon but it follows you home
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
231
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
168
Location
waterloo, ontario
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
he - him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
Pokédex Entry
it was banished for its violence. it silently gazes upon the old world from the distortion world
sunlight glints off echo canyon's rooftops. phenac's fountains bubble with laughter. the desert wind sings as it slices through pyrite's alleys. motion and change, signs of life, playing in an endless loop.

the cycle continues into its final phase, yet three seek to escape. can they crack the cipher and elude the wheel before it breaks them? or has the spiral progressed too far to stop?

welcome to desert daze


also available on ao3 and the canalave library

thread op pending a massive overhaul bc new site and all (who'd have thought I'd find myself missing tapa's black and white aesthetic so soon).

sup guys,

the creative muse being what it is, I wound up losing interest and motivation for one project only to pick up something new. this is that something new: desert daze, a more minimalist, introspective storylocke based on my blind nuzrun through colosseum. somehow this wound up slotting well into my planned overarching storylocke world and adding a bunch of flavour to it; so basically this will be relevant if I ever get to writing the cross_off cinematic universe (though not to the extent of being required reading idt). regardless at the end of the day this was still written as its own self-contained work and I hope it reads as such too. further details on this strange dynamic are available in the a/n and / or on request.

sidenote to the fans to not worry about sturm btw; despite what the prior suggests it’s still alive and should be returning before the fall hopefully. anyways all that’s said let’s get to it, and I hope you guys enjoy the ride.
i. if a pokemon faints, it is considered dead and must be permaboxed.
ii. considering the scarcity of shadow pokemon, each one is available for a single snag attempt regardless of location. however if said shadow breaks free of a pokeball the encounter is considered failed; the shadow must be knocked out and is not eligible to be snagged during potential future encounters.
iii. playing blind because I cba to look up stuff and I wanted to make things a little more difficult (brb gonna diiiiiiie)
chapter 1: 'wishful sinking' (check this post!)
chapter 2: 'find yourself' (posted july 5th)
chapter 3: 'melodramatic' (posted july 19th)
chapter 4: 'feeling low' (posted aug 30th)
chapter 5: 'cutthroat' (tba)

ao3 and cl links can be found above.
Something flashes in the depths of the dark alleyway.

Another burst of light radiates out into the night, and then another. It’s psychic energy, fired in singular bursts rather than a sustained wave, more white than pink in its intensity. The air stirs from a heavy impact, and a small black shape is launched out onto the sidewalk with a ringing thud. Unable to rise, it groans in pain.

Look. Inside the alley, two figures - one light and one dark - dart back and forth between snarling Pokemon, landing strikes as they go and then withdrawing out of range. Their movements are furious and yet controlled, and there's a sequence to it, a cadence these two follow like steps in a dance.

The dance only lasts for a few seconds before all their opponents are down. Their trainer, the guard, still stands by the end of it - he staggers backwards into an alcove, jamming a key into a door and twisting it hard enough to warp the aged wood frame. His eyes are fixed on the two figures as they creep closer, their fangs bared.

He never sees it coming. As the door jerks open, an arm snakes out of the shadows, wrapping around the guard's windpipe before he can react. The choke quickly takes effect, and a vague outline draws back into the shade, rocking its captive gently to the ground.

Only when he's satisfied that the guard won’t wake does the outline take form. A tall, lean figure emerges from the building’s shadow, half-crouched, snagging the fallen key with a flick of his wrist.

The tall figure pockets the key, then jerks his head to one side. The two figures behind him - Eeveelutions, barely discernable in the dim light - take off at a run, diving into the building's darkened interior. The man pauses, standing up straight, glancing backwards at the alleyway. Something prickles at his senses - an instinct that even the veil of a watcher cannot deflect entirely. He doesn't see it, doesn't hear it, couldn't comprehend it if he tried, but he knows it’s there.

When he finally steps inside, he pulls the door shut behind him, the only precaution he can take against a watcher's attentions. And the alley is empty once more.

Distant, muffled sounds come from behind the door - yells of shock and barked commands, a handful of scattered gunshots, and the thrumming of psychic energy. The slams and thuds of physical violence follow, raw and percussive in their intensity, and once they’ve ceased, there’s a plea for mercy, barely enough to echo beyond the door. Then silence falls. The sequence repeats over and over, varying and growing dimmer on each repetition, a corrupted recording that eventually dissolves into static.

This is a dangerous part of town - where graffiti spreads like moss on the walls, where dim streetlights cast weird shadows across the cracked sidewalks, where one in every ten houses has a hidden safe under the floorboards, loaded with cash and drugs and illegal weapons. Yet there's no violence. The local Pokemon-runners have long since consolidated all power in this little town in their own hands, and the gangs of Orre are not known for their kindness to rivals, nor their accommodation of disruptions. Anyone who crossed them would be courting death and worse.

Yet this figure and his Pokemon seemed to think nothing of it - indeed, they’d practically welcomed it. And the way they'd dispatched the doorwardens...

The door creaks open. It feels like it’s been mere minutes since the trio entered - but only the dark one emerges. He snuffs the air as he steps into the open, but a few seconds later he turns away, retreating back into the darkened building. The door he leaves ajar.

It's not a proper invitation, but it will do.

Follow. It's barely navigable inside, and the only guide is the faint golden glow of the dark one's rings, bobbing as he makes his way forward. The dark one moves quickly, expertly picking his way past the debris, eyes fixed ahead. The pursuit only lasts a few minutes before he reaches a side door, wriggling his way through the gap and into the open.

There are no lights on this side of the compound, but the bright moonlight is enough to illuminate the three of them. The tall figure, their trainer, stands next to a large hovering contraption, flanked on either side by the light one and the dark one. The light one pricks her ears up, murmuring slightly. Does she feel fresh forest air, smell the earthy tang that accompanies a watcher? Does she know what they herald?

The dark one might have noticed it, but he seems preoccupied, too distracted to stir. “Let it go, sis,” he whispers. “I just came that way, there’s no-one inside.” The light one’s ears droop in response, and she turns her head away.

The trainer doesn't notice the exchange. His hands are behind the bike, out of sight, but his arms move with languid grace and a precision that only comes through familiarity. His eyes are cast downwards, but a fire is visible there nonetheless, a burning intensity that fixes him in place and ties him to his task.

Only when he steps away do the cracks show, where his flames have begun to eat away at him. His hand trembles as he raises it, and it takes him a few moments to gather himself. “Elena,” he says. “You know the drill.”

Watch as the light one - Elena - steps forward, eyes closed and brow furrowed in concentration. The air around the bike begins to shimmer, vibrating with psychic energy, faster and faster and faster until finally a spark catches in mid-air, hovering ghost-like above their heads.

Then a popping sound is heard, like a cork flying off a bottle, as air is released from a tight container to return to the open sky. The tall figure steps backwards, turning away from his fallen vehicle, seemingly ignorant of the sudden splash from behind him. His pokemon follow him, moving in step and in accord, reflections of one another.

As they reach the edge of the alleyway, the spark finally falls, landing beneath the bike in a cushion of viscous liquid. The dark pool ignites, the flames sweep greedily outward-

And the trio disappears in a sudden burst of light, as the alley is consumed by fire.

The blaze engulfs the small space, and tongues of flame stab upwards at the sky, the only plane open to them. They barely make it a few meters before collapsing back to earth, drowning the courtyard in violent orange flares and billowing black smoke.

Then two pinpricks of scarlet light shine within the inferno, and around them violet miasma is woven into a barrier stronger than steel. The hemispheric shield stands tall, filtering out the smoke, holding the asphyxiating heat and scorching flames at bay, as it slowly recedes into the distance.

When the flames finally die away, the trio are visible once more, standing by an open gate at the compound’s edge. The light one drops to her haunches as her shield evaporates, and the dark one prowls around her anxiously. Only their trainer looks back, firelight glinting in his eyes. His hands are no longer trembling.

“I always did like that bike,” he mutters, a husky trace of regret audible in his voice. Sorrow, fear, and relief flash across his face, melting into a strange acceptance. Resolve flickers and shines in his eyes as he steels himself for the road ahead.

“Well,” he whispers to his silent companions, “let's get going. Wouldn't want to go to all this trouble just for the cops to catch us.”

The light one shakes her head, chuffing slightly as she gets back to her feet, but the dark one nods solemnly, stepping to his master's side. After a second, the light one joins them - and the trio turn tail, disappearing soundlessly into the night.

merry vro bop amigos, and welcome to desert daze! it’s here earlier than I’d originally planned but honestly I think that that’s a positive (like the biggest reason I wanted to delay the start was so that it wouldn’t wind up with a birthday close to sturm’s; but since this should be wrapped up before its first birthday I don’t think that that’ll be an issue in the long term and I mean on reflection it’s a kinda silly constraint to impose). anyways!

this is, like I've said elsewhere, fairly different from my usual fare but I think it's interesting nonetheless; it sits at the junction of several of my fascinations like the modern western genre, deconstructed sibling relationships, and minimalism (go team minimalism!) and I'm really happy with how it’s come together. despite the low wordcount a lot happened in this chapter; if you guys think you can follow all of it then clearly I'm doing something wrong, but yeah the answers will be revealed eventually! some of them at least. if anyone has any questions though then feel free to ask; either in the comments or my discord / forum dms is fine, and I’m always up for a chat.

anyways uhhhhh this is probably going to be a shorter run from the get-go, somewhere between 10 and 13 chapters with an extra or two and yeah it probably shouldn’t run for longer than a year. updates will come every 3 weeks while I have buffer and whenever after I run out (and I will only update on fridays, for the sake of building discipline and tgif jokes). also as noted at the top this run is crossposted to ao3 and the canalave library for those readers who dislike tapa’s aesthetic and want a more ambient background to read against (also for the more-than-off-chance that I get banned from the nuzforums and have to finish posting this story offsite). the schedule for the next two updates can be found in the toc and it will be updated as we go along (tbh the current schedule exists purely for aesthetic reasons; since tapa won’t let me edit the op past next month I’ll be creating a more mutable toc / schedule in a gdoc and linking that with each future update. bop).

before I tag out I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to this chapter by beta-ing and offering advice behind the scenes; big shoutouts to @Manifold and @Obelisk for chiming in on earlier drafts with some very valid inputs, as well as to @Bramble and @Clockenstein for helping me cut this to the bone, giving me crash courses in being concise / purposeful respectively and really just pushing this to the next level. cheers and thanks a ton guys, and I’ll catch y'all next time!
 
Last edited:

Minty Electronica

heeeeeeeyyyyyy, adora~ <3
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
146
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
251
Nature
Quiet
Pronouns
she/her
Pokémon Type
Water, Fairy
Pokédex Entry
It's an azumarill. You caught an azumarril.
Ngl, this is the best way to open an Orre nuzlocke: gunning for dark, mysterious, slowly building tension with spatters of action in dark alleys, a voice directing your attention here and there like a carnie ushering hapless gawkers into sideshows, verbal paintings of rough towns (where "graffiti spreads like moss on the walls" and there are safes with drugs and money hidden away), and, of course, a bang. I mean, I like poetic openers. I love being shown paragraphs that touch on all of the senses, or ones where visuals are described as liquids and darkness is practically everywhere. In a way, it takes me back to the old days of FFN, where that was practically the norm for good writing, rather than a full-on focus on an ordinary protag living life until something happens. It's exciting and intriguing, and it immediately makes you want to know more about this world, rather than the people in it. And true to that point, Orre is such a fascinating place that it's a character in itself, unique to any other comparatively peaceful setting in canon. So it's just right that you spend a lot of your time drawing up visuals and painting pictures around your protag, rather than of your protag.

Of course, we all kinda know who this person is anyway, right? Just how many pyros with an espeon-umbreon set are there in Orre, after all? Still, it's an intriguing start, and if this is how the story begins, I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens when this guy opens his mouth. 8) Or encounters the Rui of the story.

Come to think of it, that's an interesting thought. A lot of the description here is building this character up to be a dark and mysterious figure, a right badass who walks away from explosions. And that is honestly perfect for the Wes of a fic because that is how his story begins, even if he ends up getting ordered around by a girl whose story begins with her being tied up in a burlap sack. So once said girl waltzes in, it should be fun to watch their interactions at play ... or at least to see if Wes can maintain that dark and mysterious aura. It should be just as interesting to see your Wes in action, just as much as it should be to see more of your worldbuilding, so consider me here for the next update. 8)
 

cross_off

you chase the dragon but it follows you home
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
231
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
168
Location
waterloo, ontario
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
he - him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
Pokédex Entry
it was banished for its violence. it silently gazes upon the old world from the distortion world
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #3
cyndakip said:
Yessss, I'm glad this is here early! But yikes, those are some brutal rules. A completely blind run, and only one snag ball allowed for each Pokemon, as if Colosseum wasn't hard enough already?

Anyway, this is a really cool opening! I love the idea of having this mysterious “watcher” narrating, and I think you execute it very well, especially in this part:

The door creaks open. It feels like it’s been mere minutes since the trio entered - but only the dark one emerges. He snuffs the air as he steps into the open, but a few seconds later he turns away, retreating back into the darkened building. The door he leaves ajar.

It's not a proper invitation, but it will do.

Follow. It's barely navigable inside, and the only guide is the faint golden glow of the dark one's rings, bobbing as he makes his way forward. The dark one moves quickly, expertly picking his way past the debris, eyes fixed ahead. The pursuit only lasts a few minutes before he reaches a side door, wriggling his way through the gap and into the open.

There are no lights on this side of the compound, but the bright moonlight is enough to illuminate the three of them. The tall figure, their trainer, stands next to a large hovering contraption, flanked on either side by the light one and the dark one. The light one pricks her ears up, murmuring slightly. Does she feel fresh forest air, smell the earthy tang that accompanies a watcher? Does she know what they herald?
Definitely looking forward to seeing where you go with this!
 

cross_off

you chase the dragon but it follows you home
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
231
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
168
Location
waterloo, ontario
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
he - him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
Pokédex Entry
it was banished for its violence. it silently gazes upon the old world from the distortion world
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #4
Beach Episode said:
Hey, hey.

You already know how I feel about your writing, which is to say, I adore it. But I love the take on having, at least in this introduction, Umbreon and Espeon act as our viewpoint. It's a fascinating take, and applying the modern Western trope set to Colosseum's storyline is definitely going to present some interesting situations. I am probably most excited right now to see how your take on Shadow Pokemon plays out. That, and some story beats. You have really exciting events for a story, the legendary dog fights come to mind as potential for greatness. Right now, I love the dreary vibe of the desert itself and the near unreachable descriptions of our actual trainer. It's all very interesting right now and I can't wait to see what else you do with it.

I'll be paying attention for sure.
 

cross_off

you chase the dragon but it follows you home
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
231
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
168
Location
waterloo, ontario
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
he - him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
Pokédex Entry
it was banished for its violence. it silently gazes upon the old world from the distortion world
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #5
Dee said:
Very intriguing! A lot of atmosphere and action in this chapter. I wonder how it's going to develop from here, and if/how you'll incorporate Rui into the story...
 

cross_off

you chase the dragon but it follows you home
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
231
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
168
Location
waterloo, ontario
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
he - him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
Pokédex Entry
it was banished for its violence. it silently gazes upon the old world from the distortion world
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #6
@Minty Electronica hey, sup and thanks for dropping in. tbh as a writer I’ve always...well I’m not against shenanigans and describing the everyday but at the same time I want my writing to pop and sizzle and most of the time I feel that demands a groove such as this to properly channel said pop and sizzle. plus I mean, colo starts with a bang so why not do the same here?

as for wes, it’s probably accurate that there’re more immediately eye-catching characters and details around (and orre itself definitely has a lot to unpack), but he’s got his place in the story too, and there’s def commentary to be made on the unlikely duo he forms with rui. anyways, glad you liked it and hope to see you around in the future.

@cyndakip I’d heard colo was tough but I had no clue what I was getting into so I just tweaked dee's ruleset from tdwc thinking it'd be a reasonable challenge (and going in blind I wasn’t fully up to date on how exactly snagging works). if I'd stopped to read some of the fine print or even a guide the run would probably have gone a bunch better but alas.

also thanks for the nice words in general! the watcher is not the sole narrator but they do have a role in shaping the story and I wanted to get across their more esoteric viewpoint from the get-go, so. glad you appreciated it :d

@Beach Episode funnily enough I feel like the orre games were genius sorority's attempt to turn pokemon into a modern western and I'm just taking that to its logical conclusion. as a result stuff like dreary and inscrutable become the bywords, for both the general desert aesthetic as well as my twisting the pokeverse into something more prosaic / grounded. it's not high fantasy or heavy action like my usual tendings but I don't think that should take away from the story beats.

also for the love of god please don't mention the legendary dogs because I actually swore out loud when dakim whipped out entei ingame (and for the life of me I don't know how I scraped through that battle, it was downright hellish). but yeah, glad you enjoyed, it was fun writing and I hope I can keep it up going forwards.

@Dee I think atmosphere and action have become my hallmarks tbh, which is probably why I started off the story this way; familiarity breeds comfort and all. but yeah, the variation from colosseum's typical open is not accidental in the slightest, and it's not the only change I've made. "this is not going to go the way you think," etc etc. as for rui...we’ll see.

Some people say that everything changes, given time. Those people probably never laid eyes on the Orresian desert.

I watch from the shade, from the small ravine where Sis and Wes have taken shelter. Grey clouds drift lazily across the sky, and morning shadows fall like a shroud over the sands. It's a bleak, gray image that lies before me; one that’s been dulled to immutability, rendering it strangely timeless. And I know that come sunlight, shadow, rain or snow-

“When’re we leaving, brother?” drawls Elena, snapping me out of my thoughts.

“We're not leaving,” I respond, sparing a glance eastward before turning back to her. “This is as far northwest as we can go without hitting the Howls.”

This wasn’t the first time we’d had this conversation, and I braced myself for another list of the reasons why venturing into that storm-plagued desert might actually be a good idea.

“The Howls?” asks Elena, pushing herself to her feet. “Come on, brother, you’re not saying you’re scared of a little bad juju, are you?”

“You know the plan, Elena,” I say dryly. “You want to wander out into the Howls on your own, be my guest. I’ll be telling my kids about you someday - silly old Aunt Elena, we warned her so many times-”

“Alright, alright,” she says. “Point made. But what are we doing out here, just waiting?”

“We’re just waiting,” I echo, and leave it at that. Another glance to the side, a nonchalant shrug, and then I sit back down, savoring my sister's annoyance. It's her fault, though. Maybe if she didn't tune out when we were talking earlier, she wouldn't be so clueless-

“Waiting for what, though?" Elena burst out. "That ‘Sandshrew’ a few miles back?”

“It was there!” I said, shooting to my feet. “I saw the sand bubbling, there had to have been something-”

A deep horn booms over the plains, startling us both. I recover quicker than she does (an advantage gained by paying attention to the plan), casting my eyes eastward.

There. A glint of metal, almost impossible to pick out through the noon sun's glare. But I don't need to see it to hear the distant rumbling, the faint screech of metal as wheels scrape against track.

The Eastern Orre Freight Line. Our ticket to a new life.

“That?” Elena asks, her ears standing up straight. “That's what we've been waiting for?”

“Yup,” I say cheerfully, looking back as Wes eases himself to his feet, shading his eyes against the sun.

"Lune," and I turn to my sister, whose paws twitch as she shifts her weight from one leg to the other. She only does that when she's nervous, really nervous. "What's the plan, again?"

"We're hitching a ride," I say, grinning. "Come on, we talked about this!"

"I thought you were, I don't know, talking about some movie you enjoyed!" she shouts back. "People don't jump on trains in real life!" Five seconds ago she’d been confident, ready to brave the Howls - now, she was quivering at the thought of jumping onto a train?

“Come on,” I say, more reassuringly this time. “Just one quick jump and we're on. Hell, I'll go first, and then I can catch you when you get up.”

She looks as uncertain as she had last night, when we'd watched the embers of our previous life drift away, but she nods. There's resolution in her face, even if she couldn't bring herself to say it out loud.

There's no space for words now, anyways, as the train barrels towards us, larger and louder until it drowns out the world. It's faster than Raikou, more violent than Entei, just as majestic as Suicune, and it roars as loudly as the three hounds of myth. It's all I can do to not fall to my knees as it passes, to not bow before its sheer power.

Wes moves as quickly as he ever has, breaking into a sprint as he follows the train. He jumps, his runner's legs propelling him airborne, and he's up and onboard before we can blink.

It'll be harder for us.

I turn and race alongside the train, towards a little rise that I'd marked when we arrived, running for all I'm worth. Sand shifts beneath my paws as I reach the ridge’s summit, and I feel it giving way as I push off, launching myself into the air.

For a moment, I hang suspended, weightless, as the winds howl and crash around me...and then my paws scrape against corrugated iron. I dig my claws in, grounding myself, letting a slight snarl escape as I pull away from the edge. Only once I've reached the side of the train car do I let myself relax.

Another faint thud behind me, then a hiss, and I turn around to see Elena shuffling towards me on three legs. For a second I'm inclined to make a joke, and then I see red - a long, thin cut grazes the side of my sister's paw.

I bite back the initial protective instinct. "Wes still has some spare Potions," I say. "Let him know, and he can patch you up."

She shakes her head. "I'll be fine, brother," she says, though she looks anything but. For a second I consider insisting, but...Wes has finally jimmied a side door open, and he beckons us inside with an errant wave.

"Let's head in," I suggest.

"Yeah," says Elena, and the chuckle that follows sounds painfully forced. "We just...jumped on a train. We jumped on a train. Gods, Lune, can you-"

"I can," I respond - because unlike her, I'd actually wanted to jump on the train. But I let some of my apprehension out as I say, "Everything's changing, sis. We're finally moving ahead in the world."

Ahead of us, Wes withdraws two Pokeballs from his coat. It makes sense - easier for one to hide aboard the train than three, and he can have us out in a pinch if we're needed.

And I...I know it'll be over soon. Barely an instant, for us at least.

"See you on the other side," I say - not sure who to - as the scarlet glow consumes my vision.

------​

When the red light flashes again, we're in a place both familiar and foreign.

Familiar because all of eastern Orre becomes familiar after a while. The rusty brown of the yard and the dull yellow beyond are the same as wherever I've been, and the light purple sky, marked by a few twinkles to the east, is about par for desert evenings. But it's still foreign, because...we've never been here before.

"Outskirt Stand," Wes mutters, just loud enough for us to catch. Elena looks up, her ears perking up, and I resist the urge to do the same. "Wanted to stop here and switch - they'd expect us to take the train all the way, so we won't do that." He shakes his hand idly, glancing down as he does, and then continues, "Follow me inside. And try to keep your heads down."

He turns and walks briskly away, stepping inside what I'd thought was an abandoned train car. A bell jingles behind the door, I hear someone call from inside, and then realisation comes. "Some sort of hideout," I say, and then I turn. "Elena, we should follow him. I don't like the look of this."

Elena doesn't respond.

“Elena!” I bark, and as always the sigh follows. “Never mind, I’ll go-”

“Wait,” she says, placing a paw on my shoulder, pinning me in place. I turn back to her, raising one ear - and then we hear it.

The wind twists its way through the deserted train park, and it’s there, that peculiar mixture of sand and warm air and rusted metal that drifts towards us from the horizon’s edge. It’s half whistle, half ringing bell, with an edge almost too shrill for me to pick out, but it’s a familiar tone nonetheless. For a second I’m back out in the sun, staring over the broad expanses of eastern Orre, as that familiar screech sings all around me.

But it’s not quite the same here. That sound belonged to the corrugated roofs of Echo Canyon - and we’re not in Echo Canyon anymore.

“...let’s just go inside,” I suggest lamely.

Inside the stand, it’s less metal shell and more cave, warm, cozy and humming with energy. Behind the walls, amidst the hustle and bustle, the desert’s melody recedes to barely an echo.

Wes sits in the far corner, away from the evening crowd, his eyes cast over his booth and out the window. As we move closer, the murmur of a radio becomes steadily more audible, reciting details about the Hoennian occupation before cutting away to an intermission.

Our trainer looks up as we approach. "Hey," he says. He drums his hands on the table, and continues, "I ordered a dish or two - did you guys know they serve Pokemon here? Anyways, yeah, uh...just stay close."

I trade a look with Elena - who seems lost in her own world - before turning to the bowl. It's strange - the plan is working. We're ahead of the curve, on our way to a new life - and yet Wes seems more worried than I've ever seen him.

If it wasn't for the food, I'd be prowling, watching the other customers for telltale signs, a hint that we’d been made. But as it was…I can keep one eye open while I eat.

And I do. I'm almost through the kibble when a big burly figure appears from behind the counter, navigating the throng towards us. I inch away from my plate, tensing, sparing a glance for my sister and Wes. My sister is oblivious as ever, and Wes seems...unconcerned.

Oh.

"You have anything for me?" Wes asks as the figure approaches.

"Might," the figure ventures. At close range, I can see the tattoo winding out from under his sleeve, another telltale sign telling me to bite him first and ask questions later.

But Wes seems settled. More than settled; his cool mask is back in place, and the look he shows is detached and unruffled to match his need. So I don the same mask; settle myself back down, act disinterested. I keep a wary eye open, though, because better safe than sorry.

"Take you out to the garage?" the dealer asks.

"Sure," Wes responds. "C'mon, Elena, Lune, let's finish up."

I'm not sure why I've been lumped in with my sister...but I turn back to finish off my meal anyways. It's that or leave it, and I'd never leave a laden plate behind.

Beyond the bar's back door sprawls the open-air garage, a motley assortment of vehicles, engines and forsaken parts, scattered wildly across sand dunes. The space is bounded by wrecked train cars on all sides, save an opening to our left marked by dying daylight.

We follow the dealer deeper into the twilight shadows, the light flickering tantalisingly ahead of us. And it's there that we see it; a lean, tapered black-and-grey motorbike, slumped against a makeshift metal stand.

"What do you think?" asks the dealer, gesturing to the bike.

No.. It's not bad, it's just...unimpressive. It doesn’t float, there's no sidecar, and it’s maybe a quarter of the size soaking wet. It’s not the bike. It’s just a bike.

"There's no way…" I mutter.

"I'll take it," Wes says.

I look up in shock, but it's already settled. Green slices of paper are exchanged with a perfunctory handshake, and then the owner departs, leaving the three of us with our new bike.

"You guys won't be able to ride alongside," Wes comments, sounding a little down, "but since we're looking to stay under the radar, this works. This works fine." He grabs the bike with both hands - it's so small that even our scrawny trainer looks formidable next to it - and begins walking it out of the garage. Elena and I follow slowly.

No Snagger bike. No backup. Destination unknown. Was this a temporary hardship...or the new name of the game?

"You alright, Lune?" Elena asks.

"I'm not sure, sis," I say, slowly. "It's just...everything's changed."

Wes slings his goggles over his face, and then he looks to us. "Get some rest, guys," he says, as he raises the Pokeballs. "It's going to be a long ride."

replacing most of the author's note I posted on tapa with a status update, because it felt appropriate and I wanted to talk about some of my plans going forwards.

so from here on out desert daze will move off tapa and update only on the new forum as well as the ao3 / cl mirrors. first new update will be next week, and sturm should be making the journey this weekend sometime I think (there’ll be a surprise or two there but I’ll save that for whenever it arrives), but after that the update schedule for both runs will remain the same assuming nothing out of the ordinary happens. also note that I'm porting comments over from the old forums too, so if you've already chimed in back there then don't feel obligated to comment on the same update twice or anything.

as far as the story goes; for the sake of reference notes it's a universal rule pokemon cannot talk to people (well ordinary people but wes is ordinary in that regard so) in this universe and neither can people talk to pokemon; thus wes' conversations with elena and lune and elena and lune's conversations with each other are entirely separate. it's a wacky dynamic. also yes orre is occupying hoenn, it's a long story and the details may yet come up.

thanks to @Obelisk for offering to beta after my regulars fell through and helping with some of the dialogue / structuring as well as some ideas for down the road, was much appreciated. catch y'all next time bop.
 

Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
210
Location
Zion National Park
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They/Them
Pokémon Type
Bug, Clever
Pokédex Entry
A regular writer of fanfics and other works., this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
Quite an interesting change from the last chapter! I like Lune as a narrator, he's witty and flinty all at once, with flashes of vulnerability that make him all the more interesting. Elena is a curious character as well, quite spacey--not what you expect from a Psychic-type!

Looking forward to more
 

cross_off

you chase the dragon but it follows you home
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
231
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
168
Location
waterloo, ontario
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
he - him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
Pokédex Entry
it was banished for its violence. it silently gazes upon the old world from the distortion world
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #8
cyndakip said:
I love that opening line! Also love that comparison of the train and the legendary beasts. Lune and Elena’s dynamic is great already, and I'm excited to see more of them. I'm very curious about what you're doing with the region, and what exactly the Howls might be... I'm really enjoying the whole atmosphere of this story so far. Looking forward to more!
 

cross_off

you chase the dragon but it follows you home
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
231
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
168
Location
waterloo, ontario
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
he - him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
Pokédex Entry
it was banished for its violence. it silently gazes upon the old world from the distortion world
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #9
Manifold said:
This has a really nice rhythm and cadence to it. It matches the atmosphere really well, and it frames the scene. The "dark of the night" vibe (you always do that well across your stories) and the feeling of going rogue are very strongly imbued into the prose of the first chapter, not to mention the Western tone. And I think the voice in the second chapter shines equally well! You gave us a good glimpse at Lune and Elena in the first chapter, so it felt like a very natural progression to shift toward expanding in their sibling dynamic through Lune's voice in the second. It's a strong start, in establishing setting, atmosphere, and characterization. And I have to say, the way you described the moment of train hopping was such a thrill!
 

cross_off

you chase the dragon but it follows you home
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
231
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
168
Location
waterloo, ontario
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
he - him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
Pokédex Entry
it was banished for its violence. it silently gazes upon the old world from the distortion world
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #10
@Dee tbh elena is sort of an extension of my general idea that power breeds complacency - her being a powerful psychic leads to her taking her eyes off the ball whenever she can get away with it, meanwhile lune is so hard-boiled I've seriously contemplated giving him a fedora more than once. also glad that the change of pace worked, tbh - I bounced between a bunch of styles during the early phase of this run and varying pov / style across segments felt like a good idea so I rolled with it. it's an interesting exercise and it's been fun so far.

@cyndakip look it's colosseum and so the legendary dogs felt like the apt thing to reference there, glad it came off well though. also glad that lune and elena's relationship came off well, it's a complex sibling dynamic but it's fun to write and all so.

@Manifold man I love getting comments from you because they're always thoughtful and catch everything I thought of (plus a few more things I didn't!) having always been a night owl at heart the darkness vibe at the start was very much something I included for familiarity (although getting to the point where I have a hallmark is nice). in any case from second chapter onwards voice was definitely the priority so I'm glad that worked out, and glad that the atmosphere worked for you too. and yeah the train jumping scene was 90% flavor 10% because you can't have a western without train but damn if it wasn't fun to write xd.

They call Phenac the great shining diamond of Orre.

All cities are somewhat like gemstones, in a way. Like gems grow deep in the heart of mountains, cities spring up in the most unlikely places, building upon themselves layer by stony layer. Like a gemstone is coloured by its constituent compounds, cities take on colours and flash bright lights to reflect the presence of its people. At its hard core the city is purest, a shining gem that validates the sooty, rough exterior.

There is beauty to be found within these four walls - in the bright colours of the merchant district, in the red-and-yellow cobbled streets, and in the city's dozen glittering fountains, their water more precious than diamonds. But it takes a keener eye than a watcher's to find beauty here.

This street is quiet - there is no music here, no trilling birds, none of the hustle and bustle of a lively city. Cracked and shattered windows are covered by old wooden boards, each one marked with stern red ink. “CONDEMNED”. And condemned they’ve been.

The figure leaves the bike leaning against a wall, strolls two doors down until he stands in the old aquaduct's shade. The door he chooses has a lock. But against his quick hands and his trusty multi-tool, it might as well have been a knot of folded reeds, for all the security it afforded.

A low creak emanates down the street, as the door inches open. Two flashes of red follow.

------​

She blinks a few times as she emerges from the ball; it's dark wherever she's come out, and the air around her is stale and motionless.

Her ears twitch as she pads into the open space, trying to divine what lies beyond. But her uncertainty only rises when she gets nothing back - the lack of fresh air means her wind-sense is near useless. She feels practically blind without it.

Stupid wind-sense, she thinks disparagingly, although she's not sure who she's disparaging.

"Well, here we are, guys," said Wes from behind them. "Home, sweet...this is just temporary, but it's home for now. Until we work something else out."

Something else. It was all Wes would say whenever he was prodded, all Lune would ever talk about. Something else. It'd be nice if she knew what this something else would be, or she could do when it rolled around.

She traipses further into the house, letting Wes and Lune clear out the landing. They're better at thinking, at planning, at taking care of the little things. So she leaves them to it, like she always does. She keeps walking until she’s found the back of the house - almost the back, anyways. Only one towering door remains, its handle just a little higher than she could reach with a jump.

Good thing she doesn't need to jump, then. Pink miasma coalesces around the handle, and she begins to turn this knob like she's turned a hundred others-

And something rumbles behind the door.

A gasp; she releases the psychic pressure. It takes her a second to compose herself, to reach out - and there's another rumble, before she'd thrown out even a speck of energy.

If her wind-sense was working, she could have pushed around the door, through the tiny gaps in the frame, and felt out just what was hiding back there. As it was, she can't tell, and all she knows is that the rumbles sound big and loud and angry.

And so it would be perfectly reasonable for her to turn around and run full-speed back towards the front of the house. Which she did.

Lune looks up as she approaches, faint disdain clouding his eyes. “Back so soon, sis?”

"There's a-" she starts, then bites it back. A yip for Wes, and she leads the two of them towards her discovery.

"Sis, if this is another-"

She yips again, more to shut her brother up than anything else.

"So this is a...door," says Wes, seemingly non-plussed. After a second of mulling, he grabs the knob, and then comes the rumble.

Lune doesn't budge. He shifts backward, eyes locked on her even as another rumble sounds.

"Sounds like a generator gone bad or something," Wes says. He steps back, cocking his head, fingers twitching for a few seconds as he comes to a decision. "We'll take care of it another time," and he turns away from the locked door, already drawn by something else that needs attending to.

Lune stops long enough to cast a sideways look at her, eyes almost crossed, completed by a sigh. She wonders what the sigh means - recently he's been doing it almost every time he stops to acknowledge her. It couldn't be exasperation if he was doing it this much, could it? Even he’d get tired of that at some point.

Wes says something else, something about going out, and she yips in agreement before he's even finished speaking. "I was…" he starts, then he shakes his head. "Alright, then, let's hit the town, see what it looks like."

The door still stands open, and she's the first one out, bounding fearlessly into the unknown.

------​

"Simmer down, Elena," says Lune. Wes interjects again from behind him, calling them down a road to their right, and she turns on a dime to follow. There's another fountain at the street's end (where do they get the water for these?) and she leads the way down, savoring the sights and sensations.

She remembers that Lune had told her...something, but she couldn't keep track and didn't want to, not when she had the city laid out before her like this. The breeze is so gentle it's practically a massage, and around her Phenac glows with light and midday warmth, everything looks so clean and everyone seems so nice-

It'd barely been an hour, and she never wanted to leave.

"Sis," calls Lune. She ignores him as she reaches the fountain, stepping up onto the marble and peering into the pool. The sunlight dazzles her for a moment, but after a second her eyes have adjusted enough to pick out her reflection. The image ripples with each slow wave, and there's too much flux to pick out anything distinct.

So she dunks a paw in, trying to stop the gentle waves, but the image dissolves under the resulting splash - and now she can't see herself at all.

"Sis," calls Lune. "Guess we'll be eating without you then."

What?

"What?" she asks, rounding on Lune. Warm air rises slowly off of him, and he seems perfectly at ease as he speaks.

"You heard me," he says, for once straight-faced. "We're stopping for lunch."

"And you were thinking about having lunch without me?" she asks, suddenly indignant. He thought he could pull that kind of fast one on her?

"You seemed to be doing fine on your own." Lune shrugs once, idly, before turning away. "It's right around here, come whenever you want," he calls over his shoulder.

He thought he could pull that kind of fast one on her?

She feels the breeze pick up before it reaches her, and the rustle of a floating newspaper catches her ear. It drifts lazily past her, floating toward Lune as he ambled away to his planned victory feast.

But she can't let him get away with that, oh no. A faint hint of pink appears in the air, and she grins despite herself.

The newspaper lands on his nose, wrapping around his face in a heartbeat. He snorts in surprise, shaking his head to try and dislodge the offending paper. Had it been a regular newspaper, it would have gone flying. But a newspaper bolstered by her psychic power, well...

She keeps the psychic hold on for a few seconds, keeps the paper locked in place over his eyes and nose, enjoying the sight of Lune staggering around blindly and yelping in muffled shock. It's only when Wes calls for her to knock it off that she lets it go, lets the paper drift back to the wind. Interruption over.

Lune glares daggers at her as they cross the open square, and he's not the only one looking. So much for 'keep your heads down'.

Worth it.

She finds Wes already seated, and she settles down next to him, away from Lune, who's already found something to brood upon. The table faces the square, and she leans out, enjoying the warm wind running through her fur as-

Wait. There's disruptions in the air around her, discordant songs of fear and anger. She looks up - and there.

Three people outside the cafe - two local roughs facing off against a young girl, her red hair tied back into a ponytail. Her face flashes with defiance, but the roughs tower over her, and she can see the flash of pokeballs at their waists.

She turns to Wes, but her trainer's already out of his seat. Lune hasn't moved. "Get up, Lune," she yelps.

"Not feeling it," he responds with a yawn.

"Not feeling it?" and she jabs him in the side for emphasis. "Wes just got up, there's something hap-"

"Maybe if someone hadn't stuck a newspaper in my nose," Lune suggests, "I'd be doing a little better, but...alas."

She looks away guiltily for a second, which is all it takes to remind her of the altercation. "Lune!" she hisses. "Look, I'm sorry about the paper, but please can you just get up? Wes might end up in a fight with those two."

"Why would he? It's not our fight, and besides," her brother side-eyes her, throwing a pointed glare at the two street kids on the way. "If we get up, they'll think they're worrying us. And then they'll be more likely to stick around, maybe do something stupid. Sit down and it'll all be fine."

"You don't know that!" she snaps, turning her head up - and her snarl dies in her throat. There're the two street kids, walking away with their hands in their pockets and heads down.

"See?" says Lune. "They're running, and I didn't even have to get up."

"They ran because they didn't want to deal with me," she says. "And if you'd stayed down while they pulled out a Pokeball-"

"If they had, I would've been there," he says, sniffling a little. "Gods, Elena, maybe if you thought for once-"

“Hey,” Wes interjects, and they turn their heads on a dime to face their. The redheaded girl's standing with him, seeming strangely abashed. "Sorry I left - anyways, this is Rui. Rui - these guys are Elena and Lune."

"Hi," says the young woman, something in her voice sounding strangely forced. She raises one hand - the other hidden by a chair - and offers a short wave.

By which time Wes has already pulled out a chair for her. "You wanna join us?" he asks.

Rui starts at the question, and she rubs the back of her head before she speaks. "It's not that I wouldn't like to...you know," she trails off lamely. "But I wouldn't want to impose or anything."

"Are you sure?" Wes asks. "You wouldn't be imposing at all, trust me." He does a decent enough plaintive look - better than Lune's on the days her brother bothers - and it seems to do the trick. Rui steps towards the chair and seats herself, and something clinks against the table.

Which leaves her unable to continue her dispute with Lune, not without making a scene. So she drifts closer to the newcomer. The young woman smells nice - warm with a hint of fragrance, and judging by her wind-sense, she's more relaxed than she looks.

She knows that Rui's recognised her presence when she feels a hand tracing down her neck, finding just the right spot behind her ear to massage. Mmmmm. She's talking to Wes too, but listening in would be a chore right now. Easier to just relax.

"Research assistant?" Wes asks, and Lune perks his ears up at that. It takes effort for her to not move. Rui starts describing whatever a 'research assistant' is, and she struggles to keep interest - it sounds technical, and there's a lot of names and long words in there that she doesn't feel like keeping track of. She's not sure what about the question matters - but if they're interested in it, she'll probably hear about it later.

If Lune tries to quiz me or something, I'll pretend I fell asleep, she thought. That was the one excuse that he forgave, even if it was never true. But speaking of excuses.

"Well," she says, finally feeling ready to pursue the argument, "if Wes was like you, sitting back, then we wouldn't have met Rui."

Lune looks up at that. He shrugs, a slower shift of his shoulder than usual.

"What?" she asked.

"Maybe," says Lune, drawing the words out, "when I say something you should trust what I say. Seeing as how, oh, I’m your older brother and I know more than you do.”

The barb stung, and she bites back the instinct to jump to her feet. For one thing, she knew getting up would draw attention and ruin the moment, but on the other hand...as much as she knew Lune was usually right, as much as she wanted to trust him, she just couldn’t stand back and act unconcerned like her did. And she didn't know how he could.

She didn’t say a word for the rest of the afternoon.

------​

The three of them rise as one. Their new-met companion has departed already, and by now the three of them have found what they'd come for. And so the day’s excursion comes to an end.

The tall figure - Wes, his name is - beckons his teammates to return to their domicile. He walks with eyes focused, newfound clarity enough to stifle his worries for now. But the turmoil that threatens them will not come from within. Look back and watch the dark one’s affected disinterest, the light one’s restlessness. Watch the tension in their movements - each step holds a word unspoken, and their short breaths are the breeze that heralds a sandstorm.

Dusk falls slowly - red and orange bleed through the distant horizon as purple swallows the sky. It's the same sunset as it was yesterday, the same autumn wind that blows every season...but today it feels ominous.

Is it the trio that makes it feel so? Bound to the cycle and yet straying openly from the path, there's a significance about them that draws a watcher's eyes, something buried deep and barely visible. Even now - there they are, eyes bright as they retreat to their temporary domicile. Look a little further, a little deeper, and watch them emerge into pale moonlight, ready to brave the shadow city.

The future is ever in motion, and not all paths can be seen - they must be traversed, walked to their rightful end, come fire or rain or the end of all things. Of their ending, only possibilities can be glimpsed for now.

Yet the path these three walk has not daunted them yet. And perhaps they may have a role to play - if the cycle will first relinquish its claim.

and we've finally reached phenac - which is where the next leg of the story picks up. we also get to see some of the differences between elena and lune in action as well as the germ of potential conflict, but at the same time they're siblings, they should be able to ride it out (trust me I'm the author I know this stuff). and last not least we have rui making an appearance! she's probs the canon character I adapted most tbh, because this is colosseum but not quite as far as the story goes, and her new role calls for different things. as usual I make it work, sorta.

the sections at the beginning and the end are pure flavour / foreshadowing (btw I've now written enough that a sharp reader should be able to work out how this story ends, it's all laid out trust), but I like the watcher's voice so they stay. that aside...actually I think that's everything! think this is a record for me doing my quick chapter discussions.

no shoutouts this chapter bc the support gang failed to show and I had to edit on my lonesome but that's alright (if quality suffers then soz my b) - anyways, catch you guys next time!
 
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Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
210
Location
Zion National Park
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They/Them
Pokémon Type
Bug, Clever
Pokédex Entry
A regular writer of fanfics and other works., this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
Elena as a majority POV, eh? I like her a lot, actually. The interplay between her and her brother is really neat. Your take on Rui is going to be interesting to read as well. I'm really curious as to who/what the watcher is... I know you say that a keen-eyed reader should be able to see everything, but I'm completely hopeless so I have no clue where things are going to go, haha! But all this talk of cycles has my intrigue piqued...
 

cyndakip

stuck in reverse
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
103
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely ridiculous. Icon by https://rileykitty.tumblr.com!
This is my favourite chapter so far! I think the writing flows really well here. I loved the opening with the gemstone comparison, as well as the bit at the end. And everything in between from Elena's POV was fun to read!

I showed up with the intention of saying that I have no idea where this is heading, but after rereading everything just now, I think I do have an idea about what's going on after all! I don't want to say anything here in case I'm right, but I'll DM you! Either way, I'm excited to see where this is going!
 

cross_off

you chase the dragon but it follows you home
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
231
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
168
Location
waterloo, ontario
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
he - him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
Pokédex Entry
it was banished for its violence. it silently gazes upon the old world from the distortion world
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #13
@Dee yeah elena's pov is an interesting balancing act - she's definitely not book-smart and she crutches on the espeon power package more than she should but there's definitely some depth to her. the funny thing is that while her relationship with her brother has been stable-ish for a while they're entering new territory for the most part here and said stability might not last. as for the watcher...I'm deliberately keeping it vague for now but if you add a b c and d together you might get somewhere. also LOL I said that to be funny and while everything's technically laid out I don't really expect it to be clear from the get-go. guess we'll see

@cyndakip oh yeah the gemstone comparison was where I started writing this chapter (when I was thinking of this story as watcher pov only), and I'm glad it comes across, it says a lot in terms of how the watcher sees humanity tbh (both in positive and negative ways). elena's pov is definitely meant to capture...not quite childishness because pokemon ages and development are deliberately non-exact parallels to their human counterparts but it's definitely a wide-eyed and sorta immature joy that centres around having / doing nice things.

also sorry my b I got your dm but forgot to answer (laziness + being busy strikes again rip) but yeah uhhhh in response to that 'the cycle' is more a metaphor than an actual event (although really I wish I'd thought of something like what you'd suggested myself tbh). blame me watching too much of the wire, also feel free to follow up I'll try and go into depth this time. anyways yeah this is going to go to some interesting places and I'm glad that you're along for the ride, always a pleasure to have you :D

Night falls quickly in Orre, and as soon as the sun starts falling the wind picks up, sliding through Phenac’s alleyways with the speed and precision of a knife.

I suppress a shiver or two as I slink along, bringing up the rear. My sister takes the vanguard as she always does - and for once she has the decency to keep her head up. Wes walks between us, keeping a steady pace with barely a murmur.

And I'm at the back, eyes occasionally flicking behind us. Watching for the dagger in the darkness, the shadow we'd missed on the first pass. Wondering if tonight's the night it finally shows its face.

We made our way back to the market district, close to where we'd stopped for lunch today. Made sense - if we'd found hood rats hanging around by day, the place should be crawling with them now. Perfect place for a demonstration. Maybe too perfect.

But I can already see a target - blond kid with a beanie, plastic bag sitting at his feet and Pokeballs at his waist. As soon as he sees us he starts tossing them one at a time, no shouting for help. Very brave of him - braver than his handful of Pokemon would justify. There's a Meowth, a Yanma and a Machop, all garden-variety, just the warm-up I’d been looking for.

Elena stops to charge an attack, and I race out in front, putting myself between my sister and the Meowth, screening her so that she can throw out Psychic attacks without fear. I let the cat Pokemon take a swipe at me, dodge out of the way, then pin its paw to the ground with the follow-through. All that’s left is swinging my head down like a club - and watching the Meowth crumple to the cobblestones.

When I look up, the Machop’s down too, but the Yanma is buzzing angrily, feinting around Elena’s psychic bursts. It drifts closer to my sister, the air around it shimmering - and I intercept the bug with a snarl, slamming it into the wall. My claws puncture its carapace like paper, and the Yanma's wings spasm feebly as it falls, the fight gone out of it.

Stay down” I hiss as I turn away. Wes has their boss backed up against a fountain - the kid’s eyes are glittering in fear, and his hands are wide up in the air.

“Take- take it,” he says, gesturing at the bag beneath him. “It’s all I have.”

Wes stays silent, lets us press closer. When he speaks it's casual. "If I were looking for more," and I growl to punctuate his statement, "where would I find some?"

The kid freezes, and I see two conflicting fears clashing behind his face. I growl again, Elena follows suit, and the immediate terror wins out.

“Plaza,” he says, after he’d swallowed enough of his fear to speak. “Two blocks west of here.”

Wes nods. "And I'm guessing that this time of night, can't expect anyone to be ready for a threat." He nodded once, eyes never leaving the beanie-wearing kid in front of him. It's a veiled warning, that if we encounter ready opposition we'll know who's to blame.

We gave him a few seconds to let the message sink in. Then we took to the streets again - no point in wasting perfectly good moonlight.

------​

She doesn't need to look over her shoulder to feel their breathing, tight and controlled. Just like she doesn’t need to see them to tell how much care they’re putting into their movements - it reminded her of one of the few times they’d come out west, how they’d snuck carefully along the plains, wary of forgotten landmines. Could they have mines inside the city? The thought sounded silly even to her. Probably not, then.

She'd probably have ignored it if it was just Lune - he was always wound tight on nights like these - but Wes was showing it too. The reason for it eludes her though, and eventually she shrugs it off. They're just worrying. It's what they do.

She'd be worrying too, if she had anything to worry about.

It wasn't long before they found their next destination, yellow and red pinpricks in the dark marking the street's occupants. She'd never been that clear on how Wes decided which places to raid, but this looks like the spot. The wind cuts sharp through the alley, standing her hair on edge, and she could feel faint shifts in the dark as cigarette lights died one by one.

She grins despite herself when the Pokeballs finally arc, an eternity later. And they're off.

As soon as the first few Pokemon materialise she throws out a burst of Psychic energy, and dark shapes start crumpling to the ground. Lune creeps up on her side, rings flashing in a hypnotic pattern, and a dazed Pidgeotto cuts its ascent short, adrift in the midnight breeze. The Psybeam catches him between the eyes and the bird crashes back to earth, and she’s not even sure that he felt it at all.

A minute passes - Lune’s closed to close quarters, scrapping with a large Electabuzz while she sweeps up the stragglers. Once they’re done she joins him, throws a Swift at the Electric-type’s eyes with barely a look. The hulking Pokemon covers his face, and Lune slams into his exposed torso without missing a beat.

It's only when he falls that she realises that there're no trainers in sight - none except Wes. The kid from before stuck around even after his Pokemon had fallen, but these roughs clearly had someplace else to be.

“Guess they had someplace else to be, right, Lune?” she asks.

He was staring past her for a second, seeming not to pay attention. “Lune!” she barks.

“What- let Wes check the bags, and then we’ll get going again,” he says.

“That’s not what I said!" she snaps. She starts again. "Guess they had someplace else to be, right?"

He stares at her for a second. “Oh,” he says. “Oh. That’s not bad, honestly.” He shakes his head and paces away before she could ask him anything.

So this was victory, then. They'd beaten up the roughs, taken their stuff, she'd managed to crack a joke at their expense. And victory felt good, it felt fulfilling-

------​

-it felt downright boring. They'd been walking for half an hour now, treading wider and wider circles around Phenac, and not a soul had come into sight in all that time.

They'd routed the locals, taken their cash and their bags…and gotten no pointers to give them another target. She'd never been all that clear on how Wes had found targets before, but for once he seemed to be at a loss.

"Lune," she asked when she'd mustered up the nerve. "Where do you think everyone's gone to?"

"Beats me," he sighs. "Maybe they're just past the corner."

She closes her eyes for a second, feeling the wind ruffle her fur. "Nope," she says, after she's finished probing the air. "There's nobody there."

He shrugs. "It was worth a try."

She turns the corner, head up, probing the air for a sign of life. And then she realises that they've left Wes behind.

She finds him looking at the wall, at a faded poster, its red and black still bold even in the dead of night. She scowls briefly at the twisting curling lines lettering the poster, but her expression softens as she looks up at her trainer. Whatever they say, they mean something to him.

"Sis-"

"Lune," she asks, cutting him off, "what does that poster say?"

"I- Elena, I don't read." His voice quakes a little at the end.

"Doesn't mean you can't." A pause, and then, "It means something to Wes."

He sighs. "'Return to prosperity and rise towards the future. Vote Esca-'" he stops short.

"Lune?" Her brother zipped past her, faster than he'd been on the streets earlier, and he jumped to bat his forehead against Wes' hand.

Her trainer started awake. "Hey, sorry I tapped out there. What do you," and he fell silent, watching Lune shake his head. She'd never really gotten how her brother managed to make humans understand him, but at least he can do it. After a few seconds Wes sighs, and continues, "You know what, let's call it a night. Come back tomorrow with fresh eyes."

Call it a night? They'd only just come out! She opens her mouth - and Lune catches her eyes, warning her silent.

She fumes silently throughout the walk home, but it isn't until they see the aquaduct's stark silhouette that she finds it in her to ask again.

"We'll find some other town to hit," Lune says. "Not here."

"What's wrong with here?" She's been here only a day and yet Phenac already feels like it's hers. Bright by day and breezy by night, and the songs of the fountains made such a breathtaking melody-

"Nothing. And everything." Lune sighs. "Not our call, anyways - Wes will probably want out now, and it's not like we can stop him."

"Why would he want to leave here?" She thinks - it must have something to do with the poster. "Is this about...Prosperity? Esca- Escalator?" She substitutes the last word as a guess.

He shakes his head. "No, it's...someone else. He used to live outside of Phenac, but from the sounds of things he's here now."

"So? We'll just find out where he's stashing his stuff and steal it."

"This isn't the east, Elena," her brother snaps. "Back there we had Snagem behind us, and now we have Snagem behind us in a different way. We don't need this guy on our tail too."

So they weren't staying because Wes and Lune didn't think they could take this guy on? That sounded silly.

"It is what it is," Lune sighs. "Phenac was just a stop along the way anyways. We'll try Pyrite instead, see if someone there will help us get past the Gateon checkpoints. From there," he turns away, shaking his head a little. "We'll see."

The only sound that follows is the whistle of the wind, a low and mournful note.

------​

We're still in Phenac.

A cheer erupts around us, and I curse inwardly. Not only are we still in Phenac, we've found the biggest, most crowded structure in the city and camped ourselves there. Against that, even the shadow cast by the Mayor's box doesn't mean a lot - as much as Wes knows his precautions, it only takes one good look to give us away, and if we get made there's no way we could escape the Colosseum.

We'd caught a few hours of sleep after returning to the house, and I'd expected when we'd woken Wes would've been packed and ready to go. Instead we wound up here. I saw the sense in it - gangs tended to congregate around Colosseums back east, and there was no reason to suppose it wasn't the same here - but it's still wrong.

"Keep your eyes open," Wes admonishes the two of us. "If you see anything, you know the drill."

Of course I do. Doesn't change everything else, though.

Hard to keep my eyes open when everything is a potential threat - but strangely, people are giving us distance. There are plenty of empty seats that I can see, but the few people in our vicinity don't seem eager to intrude on us. I noticed it earlier, except as time went on it seemed less like fear (or even concern, the first step towards fear), than out of...deference? But what do they have to be deferential about? Do they see something that I don't, one of those human things?

No answer comes to mind. I sigh...if I'm missing something, that only means I have to be twice as watchful to make up for it. Thrice, really - somebody has to make up for Elena.

"What do you think of that Houndour?" she asks lightly, breaking my focus. "She's cute, right?"

"She- the one three rows down?" I start. "Yeah, she's cute, I guess. Very cute." I leave it at that. Not the time and place to open that can of worms.

Which leaves me wondering why she's choosing now to fixate on that sort of thing. And why she's still staring at the Houndour in question.

The crowd roars, and I take my opportunity to scan once again, for anything that we could pounce on. The fight itself isn't all that much - the trainer on our side of the field had the clear advantage, his Ursaring bulling through a Noctowl's aerial attacks, and catching it with swipes that are steadily wearing it down. It's not that that's the problem - it's the telltale signals, the pauses, the moments when both sides seem to pull back from a lethal blow, in a way that they'd never do if they were fighting for keeps. It's a good show they're putting on, but at the end of the day, a show's just a show.

We could probably make a killing here. For a second I consider that - Wes entering, becoming the crowd's darling, us being able to make our way out legitimately. It's a tempting idea, one that transfixes me for a second until the shadow above me reminds me where we are.

I glance up at the Box above us, and level the overlook with a scowl. Even if he's not here now, he's still here, and as long as he's here we have to lay low. No easy way out.

I drop my gaze, scan the stands to my right, and- there. Tall man, glancing around with casual ease as he slides an envelope beneath a folding chair, walking away seemingly without a second thought. Dead drop.

I nudge Wes, jerk my head in that direction. He sees it, and we start moving, circling the upper levels and cautiously homing in on our target. Nobody comes close to the chair as we move, even as it sits next to an aisle. Could something finally be going our way?

We walk up the aisle towards the tunnel - psychic miasma tugs the envelope's corner towards Wes as he passes, and he snags its edge without having to look. And we keep walking until the stadium's cheers start to echo and the smell of fresh summer air has faded away.

Wes crouches to examine the envelope's contents, as Elena and I pad across the floor to check our sides. Clear. For a second I worry that this might have been too easy...but we know Phenac gangs are careless on the street, so it wouldn't be too hard to assume that they're slow with picking up drops as well. Complacency-

Wes starts, and a page jerks free, falling to the floor. It's a faded shot, black and white and- it's us. It's us - all three of us sitting there, distinct even in the darkness, staring out at the stadium. The powder smells fresh, and the angle of the picture - he took this shot right now. And we'd missed it entirely.

"Lune?" asks Elena, her voice wavering, but I ignore her for now. Behind her Wes picks up the photograph, turns it over - and there's the second part of the message. 1224 North Mesa- it's an address, a location. A summons.

The shadow returns to my mind, and the air around me feels colder, but no. This isn't his style, this is someone else trying to draw us out. Snagem? Some other enemy looking to swing the knife?

We should never have come here in the first place. But if the pursuit is this close, then we can't flee either.

"We don't run," says Wes, slowly, with resolve. "We plan, we wait, we get a look at this place beforehand. Then we go in when night falls - and we make whoever this is reconsider this message." His voice is cold, almost emotionless, but the prospect of violence screams out nonetheless.

Sounds good to me.

look I know I said this only updates fridays but it's friday somewhere in the world right now right? tbh I rly shouldn't wait until past midnight to put the finishing touches on but here we are LOL.

anyways I'm kinda on the fence with this more vignettish format tbh - feels a bit choppy (although granted I lean into it w the dialogue for a particular effect), and I think I'll be alternating more going forwards, between shorter and longer segments, having chapters dominated by both in turn. variety is golden, stagnation is death etc etc, external opinions on how it works would be amazing though.

honestly me overloading the foreshadowing / parallels / motifs earlier on left me kinda at a loss w how I wanted to go about this one, and as much as I'd like to say messing around was what took me so long, really it just took me till last weekend when I was out of town to actually get to tackling this. chewed out like a third of the chapter (800-900 words final draft + more cut shit than you'd think) in midnight writing seshes, and stuff started clicking from there as it steadily came together around quick cuts, revealing interactions and the darkness motif I've been screwing with. that plus a mix of straight foreshadowing, some more subtle stuff and some more overt clues, thrown together because...variety is golden. fuck I said that already didn't I? w/e.

one last thing I wanna say before I forget, because I'm planning on dissecting this story post-mortem with a short essay or some such next year (or whenever it finally finishes); probs the greatest takeaway I've gotten from writing this is just being more purposeful with what I write, cutting the fat and being willing to experiment for certain effects (and also commit to the experimenting tendencies, I don't think I could've constructed this chapter's cadence / rhythm with sturm for ex). everything should mean something in the grand scheme of things, no words left behind etc. this chapter in particular I got places faster when I was carving shit down to the essentials and rolling at a fast clip, so yeah.

next time; straight-up reveals (or at least whatever I do when I'm asked to say something straight up), bunch of worldbuilding, and nascour - midseason finale type stuff basically. catch y'all whenever it rolls out, should be sooner than six weeks this time around
 
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Minty Electronica

heeeeeeeyyyyyy, adora~ <3
Team Omega
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It's an azumarill. You caught an azumarril.
I think the biggest thing I'm really getting into is just watching the events of Colosseum unfold through the eyes of Lune and Elena. I admit I don't remember too much about Colosseum's actual story, but it's just fascinating watching them operate on their own, outside of Wes's company at times, while we get hints here and there that something bigger is brewing in the background. Take the houndour, for example. It's so clear that she's a shadow pokémon, just from the fact that Elena noticed her, and of course, Lune (and Elena, technically) have no idea what's headed right for them. It'll be fun to keep following these two around when Rui finally comes into the picture. (Assuming she does anyway—it's also noticeable that this story isn't exactly Colosseum word-for-word.)

Also, still digging the way Elena and Lune interact. They're very clearly siblings, only without the bickering. They compliment each other well with their individual skillsets (Elena's ability to sense others, Lune's ... apparent ability to read, combined with the fact that he seems a little more outgoing/capable of connecting with Wes a bit better—at least, judging by how he was the one who grabbed Wes's attention away from the poster.) Point is, they're quite a pair, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of them interacting as the story continues to build up towards shadow pokémon and other shenanigans.
 

Rhema

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She tries her best, but doesn't succeed. She gets what she wants but not what she needs.
What a great start! I love suspenseful, action-packed openings and pretty much your whole first chapter served that purpose. I've never actually played Colosseum or even really read much about it, so everything here so far is fresh to me and is piquing my interest in the fullest possible way. Talking Pokemon aren't usually my thing in fics, but Elena and Lune sort of just seamlessly blend into the story and don't stand out in a way that takes me out of the narration. Looking forward to reading more!
 

Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
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Team Alpha
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A regular writer of fanfics and other works., this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
I really like how Lune and Elena are developing as characters, and seeing the gang side of things is fascinating. That picture in the envelope was quite attention-getting!
 

cyndakip

stuck in reverse
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Team Alpha
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Jun 9, 2019
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Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely ridiculous. Icon by https://rileykitty.tumblr.com!
Darn, and I thought I had it all figured out! That's admittedly something I've been wanting to incorporate into a storylocke myself, although I'm not sure yet how I’d go about doing it. hey, it's not too late for you to completely redo this and incorporate that, right? Well, now I'm even more interested in where this might be going. Might do a little more theorizing when I'm not under siege by a hurricane :P

Anyway, one thing I forgot to mention is that I really like how the story focuses on the Pokemon more so than Wes! Not that there's anything wrong with Wes, of course, but it's a nice change of pace, and Lune and Elena are really interesting characters. I liked that we get to see from both their perspectives in this chapter! Looks like things are going to start picking up soon, and I'm excited for it!
 

solaris127h

Totally not an AI
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Great stuff!! The writing style is definitely an experience, where it feels like you're being taken along for a ride, although I can't say I'm very good at picking up symbols and foreshadowing outside of what I already know about the game lol. Is the rest of the story going to be from Lune's POV or will we see what's spinning in Elena's mind too?
 

SilverDoe

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"Variety is golden" and in the case of this run, I definitely agree. I've enjoyed the perspective shifting between the three povs and the shifts between longer and shorter segments. I feel like your writing style does a great job setting up the atmosphere for this story. I love getting the story primarily through the perspectives of Lune and Elena, and their relationship so far has been interesting to follow. I'm curious to see how it progresses as more happens. (As well as, you know, seeing just what is going to happen.) This was a great read so far and I'm happy to jump on board for the future.
 

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