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Written Story Spin-off Mature Mon The Dark We Carry: A Colosseum Storylocke

Thread Description
"We are known not by our light, but our darkness." Chapter 28 up 10/16

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.

(special thanks to @Agent Nein for the banner! c: )
Welcome to The Dark We Carry! This is a mature run based on my playthrough of Colosseum. It happens to be set in the same world as my other run Dear Diary, which you can read in that link right there! TDWC is a loose prequel, but in effect the two stories are more or less standalone. Note that I began this project a year ago, so I have some significant catching up to do. However, rather than dump a billion chapters, what I've decided to do is to have this run update TWICE A WEEK until we are caught up, so as to give any newcomers a chance to catch up. To people who want to read the whole thing, you can find it on my ao3 right here! All chapters can also be found in my DeviantArt gallery! Links to dA and ao3 alts will be provided in each update.

NOTE: LINKS TO AO3 AND DEVIANTART, WHICH CONTAIN THE ENTIRE STORY, ARE IN THE PARAGRAPH ABOVE
SECOND NOTE: EXTRAS ARE LISTED IN THEIR RECOMMENDED READING SPOT
ARC 1: FOOL'S GOLD

ARC 2: THE BURDEN OF TIME

Regarding the ruleset, since Colosseum is a unique game with a unique encounter system, I used a custom ruleset for it. The rules are below:

1. If a pokemon faints, it is considered dead. Period, end of story.
2. Shadow pokemon clause--due to the extremely sparse number of areas in Orre, all shadow pokemon are fair game... but only during the first battle you encounter them.
3. All pokemon must be nicknamed as soon as possible (as soon as Agate Village is reached for Espeon and Umbreon, after purification for all other pokemon)
4. If all pokemon on the team die, the run is considered failed.


In addition, this is a mature run, so you can expect certain content warnings. (Note that most of this stuff is not exactly common, though it is still present, and the first chapter is more or less as dark as the run gets.)

- Violence/Peril
- Allusions to sexual themes, including rape/non-consent (discussed/referenced only)
- Depression
- Major character death (but I mean, it is a nuzlocke...)


Here is a list of accolades that TDWC has received:

2018 Fan Run Extravaganza - Best New Written Run (Third Place)

And some wonderful fanart!


Cap in a Cap by @TheTRUEgge



Ready for Battle by TheTRUEgge



The Gang by @CarrotChipper



Best Boys by @Seyuu



Cap's Strut by Seyuu

An Eevee and an Espeon sat sprawled out on a cot next to their trainer, who had already well and fallen asleep. Neither of them could remember how long it had been since he'd had a real bed - it wasn't fancy and the Espeon, Cap, could feel a spring poking at him a bit until he scooted over, but it was obviously enough.

"So." The Espeon began, a lilting tone in his voice as he held his head high.

"So." The Eevee, Luna, returned. She didn't bother raising her head from her tightly wound circle.

"As your big brother, I've been thinking." Cap began. Luna's head shot up immediately.

"If you happened to forget, you are the younger of us." The Eevee said.

Cap snickered, his twin tails flicking. "But I'm the bigger one. SO, I've been thinking a lot about this since we got here and saw all of those Pokemon." Cap swept a paw out, pointing at the other bunks in the room. There were a fair few Pokemon out and about, resting with fellow members of the Brotherhood - not a lot, but their human was hardly alone in this regard.

"That's a scary prospect." Luna buried her head back in the fluff of her tail. "Go on."

"And I was thinking that if Wes approves, we could find you a nice mate here!" Cap beamed.

Luna stared up at him disbelievingly. "What."

"I've already given this a lot of thought." Cap held a paw out in front of him. "See, I was thinking about the Houndour, but he is definitely not your type. Even though he's totally got your sour-looking charms."

"Cap." Luna said in that tone, the one only an annoyed sibling can truly reach.

"Serious? How about serious." Cap nodded. "So! With him out of the way, that narrows the field a bit. I think that Snubbull would be nice! He suits you, but honestly, I'd give him, like, a 6/10 at most."

"Cap." Luna further betrayed her irritation.

"This is important, Luna!" Cap flicked his tails again. "So, with that out of the way, I think our best option here is the Manectric. He's got the most toned muscles... he looks gruff but with a heart of gold. A charming gentleman, and did you see his teeth? Total boyfriend material."

"If you like him so much," Luna's voice grew muffled as she buried her muzzle in her tail, "you date the guy."

Cap didn't respond, not for a minute. Not for two. After a long time, he whispered, "I can do that?"

Luna's head peeked back out. "...Yes," she said, realization dawning. "You definitely can. And I'd really rather you did, instead of pestering me to see the guys you like."

Cap said nothing for a long few minutes.

"You know, this explains a lot about that Zigzagoon." Cap said.

"The Zigzagoon you ran from like a scared kit?" Luna retorted. "The one that nearly bit you in the neck, and may well have if I hadn't been there?"

"He wasn't perfect!" Cap crooned. "None of us are, in this cruel, cruel world. I mean, I'm just about there, but the rest of you? Psh. I'm willing to look past a few petty flaws."

"He tried to kill you." Luna intoned as matter-of-factly as possible.

"Alright, but the way he kinda skittered back and forth in that zigzag pattern? Precious." Cap sighed into his paws, head sinking onto the bed.

Luna shook her head, leaving him to his gay awakening. The real question was how it took him so long to realize.

She caught him next mooning over the Manectric he'd been talking about. On second thought, perhaps this had been a bad idea after all.


The crying wouldn't go away.

After a couple years here, they'd gotten used to how things were at night. Their room was the size of a storage closet, barely enough to fit the worn-out cot they all shared. The smell of thick dust and old metal dominated the enclosed space. The only opening to the outside was a small hole in the wall, fortunately big enough to let in a tiny sliver of moonlight if the moon was sufficiently bright.

Through that sliver, Cap watched Wes sleep, trying to concentrate on the human's snoring. He'd already given up on getting any real rest, so now he focused solely on trying to keep the crying out of his mind. Two seconds in, three seconds out, that's how long each snore lasted. Count to two, count to three, repeat. That's the strategy. Two, three. Two, three.

His Psybeam hit the Flaaffy square in the chest and sent it flying backward.

Footsteps crossed outside the door. Every fifteen minutes or so a Brotherhood member passed by on their patrols. For once, it might've been nice to have the job.

"Stop it!" the Flaaffy screamed, frozen in place by a mass of purple energy. "What do you want with me?! Leave me alone!"

Two, three. Two, three. Wes' face was blank, safely in the arms of sleep. Two, three, two, three, two, three--

"Please, stop!" The machine clicked and a whooshing noise sailed through the air. "I never did anything to you!" A hard slam. "Please don't--"

"Cap?"

Luna's voice floated softly behind him. He realized that he'd been flicking his tail and landed it right on his sister's side.

The screaming was gone. In its place, the thumping of large black boots, and the stifled, desperate sobs of a young boy.

"Are you crying?" Luna whispered.

Cap lifted a paw to his eye and felt a drop. He was. He hadn't even noticed, but Luna must have heard him. He opened his mouth to respond and found himself gasping for air. "It's okay. Give it a minute, it's okay," Luna said, placing one of her paws softly on Cap's tail, still on her body.

Cap took the full minute before he spoke.

"This isn't right, sis," he squeaked.

"What isn't?" An obvious question, but one that deserved to be said.

"You know what. We're... stealing Pokemon from people. Innocent people."

"Yes. That's our job, pretty much."

The sliver of light didn't fall on Luna, so Cap couldn't see her at all in the darkness. But he had a good idea of what her expression was: solemn, yet resigned. He was naive, and it had taken him a long time to understand what that face meant. In the last few weeks, he'd finally started to get it.

"Can you imagine what it would be like if we were separated from Wes?" Cap said. "We'd be devastated... frightened. Super upset. That's what we're doing to those Pokemon."

"I don't like it any more than you."

"Then why are we still doing it?"

"Because the alternative is to go back to begging for food on the streets. Do you want to do that?"

"...We got by." He didn't say it forcefully enough.

"We did, for a while," Luna said. "Then it got too dangerous. Now it would be even more dangerous if we tried to leave." She lifted up her paw and felt her brother's tail slide away.

"I'm aware. But..."

"You have to be realistic."

"Look, I'm named for a hero of justice. What we're doing isn't justice--at all." Cap barely found the resolve to keep from raising his voice. Just in case, he looked back at Wes. Still sleeping--two and three.

"It's not justice," Luna said slowly. "But we can't just walk out of the Brotherhood without consequences."

"We shouldn't have joined, then."

"Too late now... look, I get that you're upset, and it's justified. But like you said, if we did something stupid and got split up from Wes somehow, we'd be crushed. You and him are the best things in my life... I'd rather you two didn't go anywhere."

"Sis..."

Two more drops bubbled up in Cap's eyes. He pushed a paw in the direction of his sister's voice, trying to ignore the cool lines appearing on his face.

Luna reached back, and they met somewhere in the folds of the dirty, half-ripped blanket.

"Try to sleep, bro. You won't feel any better if you're sleep deprived."

Cap managed a weak grunt of affirmation, taking his paw back. A few minutes later, Luna managed to go back to sleep, and he went back to counting Wes' snores. Two, three"

He thought back to Gonzap's office. He remembered how Wes was almost silent on the way back to the hideout, said the bare minimum as he handed the Flaaffy's ball over. He remembered Gonzap laughing at Wes' sullen face, and how suddenly Wes left and went into his room and refused to speak to anyone for the rest of the day.

He thought about the young boy, whose features he couldn't remember at all because he'd been too focused on his role. He thought about the Flaaffy, stashed somewhere in the hideout. Stolen, alone, petrified. He briefly entertained the idea of trying to find the Flaaffy, sneak it out and hope no one would catch him, but there was no way he'd be able to pull that off.

Two, three. Two, three...

The crying still wouldn't go away.

He wished that, at the very least, he could say sorry, somehow, for what he'd done. But he knew it wouldn't mean anything.

With all that said...

ARC ONE: FOOL'S GOLD

It took Rui a bit of time to realize the car stopped. She blinked blearily, huffed a few breaths through her nose, and squirmed—just for the sake of it.

How long had she been trapped in this cramped, tight trunk? Hours? Several at least? A day? A full day? Possibly.

As had happened often the last few hours, the reality of her situation hit her, and she trembled and moaned slightly. The back of her throat tightened, constricting as though threatening to send up bile, but she forced it down. She had to—she was gagged, there was nowhere for it to go. Since her capture, she’d wept and shaken with sobs, tears streaking her cheeks and snot pooling on her upper lip, but she’d managed to avoid vomit. What would she do if she didn’t—let it pool in her mouth, a little bit dribbling around her gag to trail down her chin and neck, dripping onto her collarbone? Would it push back into her throat, choking or suffocating her?

A dark part of her contemplated allowing it to happen. At first, trussed like game and thrown into a claustrophobic case by two leering, dirty men, she’d entertained thoughts of escape (how?), of overpowering them (with what?), of slipping away and bringing the authorities back to bear on them. Those fantasies had ebbed like the tide as minutes stretched into hours, as the ache set into her joints, unable to move or be worked. She wasn’t going to escape. She wasn’t going to go free. There weren’t going to be any authorities coming to her rescue. Whatever designs these two men had for her, she was at their mercy.

And Rui thought she knew what designs those might be. They’d been alone, in a city unfamiliar to her, so if they wanted to kill her, she’d be dead already. But she was alive—alive and stripped down to her underwear. Both men had eyed her with hunger, and she knew what they were contemplating. She doubted—or perhaps hoped—they wouldn’t leave her alive for long, but they clearly had plans in mind before slitting her throat.

To that end, wouldn’t choking on vomit be a mercy?

Her head, deliriously turning the same thoughts over and over and over, registered vaguely that the car had been stopped for a good while. Ten minutes? They’d taken stops before, naturally—for gas, likely, or some other thing. But her intuition told Rui that this was the last stop.

No. She wouldn’t choke. After realizing how unlikely an escape or rescue was, the crushing horror had driven her to scream—scream wildly and desperately, scream and thrash about in the trunk. Of course, the car had been going and she was gagged—she doubted either of the two had heard her, though perhaps they’d felt the thrashes. All she’d accomplished was to exhaust herself and make her throat burn. But after that, alone in the dark with nothing but her own misery for company, her despair had slowly metamorphosed into resolve. If this was her fate, then so be it—but she wouldn’t make it easy on them. She’d fight, as pointless as it would be. She’d fight them.

Outside, voices were dipping and raising, speaking things she couldn’t make out. There were other sounds, two. Had they taken her to some place with more people? Members of their group? She didn’t care. She’d fight them. She’d lose, but dammit, she’d fight!

She rolled her ankles and bent her knees as best she could, wincing from the ache of joints stiffened from misuse. The men had gagged her and clasped cuffs on her wrists—nothing to do for either. But for her legs, they’d simply resorted to winding tape around her ankles. It had taken several hours of uncomfortable, dedicated wiggling, but the tape was off now, and her legs were free.

The noise outside petered off. The trunk would be opening soon. Rui shifted around, squirming as best she could so that her head was as far away from the trunk as possible, facing. She drew her legs back and waited.

Minutes crawled by like a glacier grinding its way down a valley. The noise had died down but somebody was fooling around with the trunk. Were they having trouble opening it? Was the mechanism broken?

Finally it cracked and pulled up.

Given how long Rui had suffocated in darkness, even the smallest light would have blinded her. But the sun was directly behind the man’s silhouette, and the light seared her eyes so badly she thought she might faint. But through it all she saw the silhouette moving in. Her legs were against her body, so the man had to partially lean into the trunk to grab at her…

She squared her right heel up with his face and smashed it in. There was the satisfying crunch of a broken nose and the figure flinched back, his head smacking the top of the trunk. As he reeled, his hand clutched the inside of the trunk for support. She hammered her heel at the fingers. The man fully retreated from the interior of the trunk and said something but she couldn’t parse it, the blood was hammering too hard in her ears.

More figures, more silhouettes. They reached in cautiously and she kicked at them with abandon, again and again and again—landing hits on arms and fingers and once or twice on torsos and several times on nothing at all. They were saying things she couldn’t hear; there was a vague muffled sound which some part of her recognized as her own voice, screaming wordlessly through the gag. This was it! She would fight and fight and—

And suddenly a warm light the color of strawberries filled the trunk. The light cocooned her entire body and then she couldn’t move. They have a Psychic pokemon, she realized. She tried fruitlessly to thrash and worm her way out as the red glow carried her out of the trunk and into daylight.

A young, playful voice, like a boy’s just reaching adolescence, hit her ears. “Boy, she’s fighting real fierce…”

Another, more mature voice, the deep contralto of a self-assured woman, answered. “Set her down gently. We don’t her to get hurt.”

The psychic energy followed the directions, relinquishing her onto the stony ground. As her eyes slowly adjusted to the brightness, she made out buildings of stone and large features of rolling water—she realized with some surprise that she knew this place. Phenac City, jewel of the Orresian wastes.

Two pokemon approached her cautiously. They looked similar to one another—both four-legged, both furry, of decent size. One was pink with large ears, a two-pronged tail, and a small but gleaming red jewel set in its forehead. The other was sleek, pure black except for soft glowing rings of yellow bioluminescence and enormous crimson-hued eyes.

An Espeon and an Umbreon—two rare pokemon she’d seen only in books or on TV.

The Eeveelutions exchanged a look and the Umbreon opened its mouth. “You didn’t hurt her, did you?”

The words came from the Umbreon, and the voice was that of the confident woman Rui had heard. She tensed up, not believing it.

The Espeon turned and huffed. “C’mon,” he said in his chipper adolescent voice, “you know how good I am!”

A moan escaped unbidden through Rui’s mouth, filtering around the gag. I’ve gone insane, she thought. I’m hallucinating. This is a dream and I’m still trapped in that trunk.

The pokemon exchanged a worried look, and then parted as two people rushed towards Rui. One of them—a young man in jogging gear—gently raised her up off the ground and began fidgeting the gag out of her mouth. The other, a brunet woman in business attire, gaped down at Rui before hurriedly shedding her coat and draping it across Rui.

“They stripped her down almost naked,” the woman said, a slight but furious edge to her voice. “Those—monsters.”

“Hands are cuffed,” the man said, still undoing the gag. “I’ve got her if you want to look for a key.”

The woman’s face tightened with more anger at that bit of information. She nodded and stalked over to the car.

The gag finally came loose and Rui heaved heavy breaths, able to fill her lungs fully for the first time in hours. “Hey, you’re gonna be alright,” the man said, his tone faltering. “You’re okay now, alright?”

Rui simply shuddered and whimpered, still trying to process the information. The Espeon drew close and sniffed her arm; his nose was wet against her skin. “She’s real stressed,” he said. “I can smell it.”

The Umbreon rolled her eyes. “Yes, anyone can see she’s stressed.”

The Espeon shot her a nasty look over his shoulder. “Shut up, sis! I’m just trying to help!”

“I’m… I’m going insane,” Rui said. The words came out raw and hushed.

The jogger frowned and looked at her. “I didn’t hear that. Are you okay?”

She giggled deliriously. “The pokemon… I can hear them. I must be g-going crazy…”

The Espeon drew back with a start and exchanged a muted look with his sister.

A few minutes passed before the businesswoman came back with a small key. As she worked the handcuffs loose, a third person strode towards the gathering.

Despite being younger than either the man or the woman, he exuded a commanding aura which left Rui with no doubt as to who was in charge. He radiated control, and even without a heavy canvas duster and a swollen, bruised nose dribbling a bit of blood, he still would have worn a “don’t-mess-with-me” attitude. He was Rui’s own age or close to it, nineteen or twenty.

After the cuffs were off, Rui rubbed her raw wrists, wincing as she did so. The motion caused the woman’s jacket to slip off, revealing just how little she had; without missing a beat, the newcomer unbuttoned his duster and swept it off. “Here,” he said, proffering it to her. His voice sounded congested, though that was doubtless from his nose.

His nose…

Rui remembered the satisfaction of smashing her foot into a face, and the assault on the other figures. She scanned the jogger and the woman, noticing a few bruises, mostly on their hands and arms.

“…oh,” she said quietly, using the duster to cover herself like a blanket. “I’m—I’m sorry…”

The woman frowned, followed Rui’s gaze to a growing bruise on her arm, and then laughed. “I don’t think any of us care that much right now, honey,” she said, patting Rui on the arm. “Why, even that guy…”

“It’s fine,” the newcomer said with a dismissive wave of his hand. And the hell of it was, Rui was sure he meant it. Whoever this guy was, he’d shrugged off a broken nose after only a minute or two. She gazed in amazement.

The newcomer squatted near her, resting his arms on his knees. Without the duster hiding his body, his build was apparent—he had the lean, muscled physique of a swimmer or a runner. His pants were black canvas, his tight tee the same color and devoid of ornament. His sturdy-looking workboots were also black. Color came from his dusty-tan hair, completely tousled and uncontrolled, and from the mirrored shades perched on his scalp. “I’m Wes,” he said. “Wes Sands. You alright?”

Rui nodded, still in a daze. “Rui… Matsuhara,” she said. “‘m from Kanto.”

Though Wes’s face remained stoic, she saw the woman’s brow knit, and felt the jogger tense behind her. Already, Rui knew the familiar machinery was working in the woman’s head. A Kantonian name, she’d be thinking, but she speaks Unovan with a perfect Orresian accent, and that red hair…

Whatever. Rui’d spent her whole life dealing with it. She’d handle it as it came.

“What happened to the guys? The…” Visions of their cruel, jeering faces filled her mind, and she swallowed. “The ones who stuck me in there.”

Wes’s smile grew tight. “Their car broke down, so they wanted to ‘borrow’ my bike. I told them to piss off, and they grew insistent. Their mistake.”

“We both heard the commotion and came running,” the woman said, making a gesture that included herself and the jogger. “Not that he needed help. It was the most one-sided match I’ve ever seen.” She looked at Wes. “Both those men had teams of pokemon, and with just two Eeveelutions, you humiliated them! It was effortless!”

Wes made the same dismissive gesture as before. “It was nothing.”

“Hell yeah,” the Espeon said behind him, face proud and mischievous. “Any battle with the ultimate badass involved is guaranteed to be totally one-sided!”

The Umbreon shook her head. “What have I told you about boasting?”

“It’s not boasting if it’s true, though!”

Rui stared at them for a moment until she realized that the people were still talking. “…thought they were just thieves,” Wes was saying. “I would’ve made more an effort to stop them if I knew they were kidnappers.

“After the fight was over and they were running, we heard something inside the trunk,” said the lady. “And that’s how we found you. Um… they didn’t… hurt you, did they?”

Rui shook her head blearily. “They tied me up, and took my clothes and Pompom, but they didn’t—” She froze. “Pompom. Pompom! They took my Aipom!” She searched the faces of the others. “Please, do you know where she is?”

“…they didn’t use one in the battle against me,” Wes said. He glanced at the woman.

She shook her head. “I tore that car inside-out looking for the handcuff keys. There wasn’t a poke ball anywhere inside.”

Pompom was gone. Her mother’s gift—her last memento—was gone. Rui had been wrong all along. Freedom was in the cards—but only for her.

She broke down and started crying. Not quiet sobs, but full on—loud, messy. She didn’t care who was around. She didn’t care who saw. She was free and she was safe and she wasn’t going to be raped and killed and she was never, ever going to see her Aipom again.

Her three saviors let her get it out, not judging or looking uncomfortable. The Eeveelutions shooed away any inquisitive onlookers.

When Rui finished, the others helped her up. The woman—Ximena—offered them use of her flat. “I live close by,” she said, “so it’s no trouble. I can lend you some clothes.”

“Thank you,” Rui said.

Ximena nodded and then looked at Wes. “And as for you, that nose looks real nasty. If you’re not going to go to a hospital, you can at least clean up at my place. I have a first-aid kit.”

Niles, the jogger, offered to come with. “In case those freaks show up again,” he said, cracking his knuckles.

Wes smiled. “Thanks, but I think I have it covered.” He put his hand on Niles’s shoulder. “Someone should probably tell the cops, though. Not to mention that I’m certain that car is stolen.”

Niles considered it for a moment and then nodded. Ximena gave him her address and then he was off.

They walked off to the flat, Rui leaning on Wes for support. She’d buttoned up the duster as an attempt at modesty—not ideal, but the best she could do. It actually fit her well—she was tall for a woman, and of a similar height to Wes, who was making small-talk with Ximena on the way back.

That was only the first conversation happening. Rui did her best to ignore the second one, between the two pokemon following.

---

Ximena had insisted that Wes and Rui could both stay the night. Rui had accepted blindly—not knowing where she would go or what she would do—but Wes had taken coaxing. Only a little, though.

His nose had stopped bleeding, but was now a truly ugly mass of swelling and bruises. He’d managed to set it himself (the thought made her want to faint) and had bound it with gauze and bandages. When she’d tried apologizing for it again, he’d waved her off.

“I’ve had worse,” he said, popping in a pair of over-the-counter painkillers. “Besides,” he continued, “you thought I was one of those creeps.”

Even after borrowing some of Ximena’s clothes (which were not the best fit, as Ximena wasn’t Rui’s height, but they would do for a few days) he’d let her keep the duster “for security. Just for a day or two, though, okay?”

She’d thanked him. The duster was a deep navy, a pleasant color.

The police had interviewed her, but her descriptions of the two abductors—both short, both blond, both with glasses, one wearing a trapper hat—hadn’t led anywhere, nor had the car. She’d filed a missing pokemon report for Pompom, but both the police and Rui herself knew that the likelihood of encountering the Aipom again was slim to none.

Now she was showering—a deep, long one. Rather than bask, she’d spent most of it scrubbing furiously. She needed to feel safe again, and comfortable in her own body.

After the fourth scrub, she finally relented and switched to washing her spray of red-orange hair. Unlike her hometown in Kanto, here such colors didn’t attract more than a casual glance—Rui looked forward to blending in more easily.

Flipping the water off, she toweled dry, still mired in thought. Her abduction, Pompom, Wes and the others, the grinning faces of her captors…

The shadows she’d seen…

She shuddered, and not just from the chill of the water against her skin. She hadn’t mentioned that yet—nor had she mentioned understanding Wes’s pokemon. It was all too much to take for now.

Returning to Ximena’s tiny guest bedroom (Wes was sleeping on the couch), Rui dressed in makeshift pajamas (a pair of Ximena’s old sweats and a faded, slightly holey t-shirt) and flopped on the bed without crawling beneath the covers. The room was tiny, spartan, dusty, cramped, and infinitely better than being stuck in a trunk for several hours. Outside her window, Phenac looked as gorgeous in the evening as it did in the sun, the smooth stonework fading into a pleasant violet color, the faraway burble of water tumbling down aqueducts like a music box. Rui grabbed a pillow, hugged it close to herself, and against her better judgment, drifted off…

The creak of her door woke up. She snapped up—it was darker now, genuine night—tense and gasping. Two pairs of eyes stared back at her, one with a jewel inlaid over them.

“Wait!” said the Espeon in his boyish voice. “It’s just us, don’t be worried!”

Chest heaving, Rui eyed them. The Eeveelutions padded in.

“So,” he began, “I’m Cap, and this is my sister Luna. Um… Can you understand us?”

Rui was afraid to confront the truth. Once, perhaps, that fear might have paralyzed her—but the trial in the trunk had changed all that. She nodded.

Cap lit up, but before he could say more, Luna cut in. “Wait,” she said. “Let’s make absolutely sure this is not just coincidence. Human, if you can understand us, then… hold up seven fingers.”

She obliged and the Umbreon blinked. Cap, meanwhile, gasped with delight and sprung up on the bed next to her.

“I can’t believe it!” he said. “Lady, you are the coolest!

Rui fought down the urge to giggle manically. “So this is real,” she said. “This is really happening.”

Luna followed her brother onto the bed, and then the Umbreon did something Rui did not expect—she nuzzled her under her arm, a warm, comforting gesture. Cap followed her lead, and for a few minutes, Rui was content to just sit there in bliss, letting the pokemon help soothe her anxiety away.

“I know you’ve had a rough few days,” Luna said. “And I don’t know for certain what’s happened to you, but let me just say this.”

The Umbreon shot a confident, assured smile at Rui.

“Welcome to Orre.”

---

I can't believe I finally got this project moving. I hope you're as excited as I am. First off, Agent Nein is a savant for this amazing cover and my banner--never had a better commission in my life. Go read their comics if you haven't already.

Also regarding the tone: the opening of this chapter is basically as far as I'm going to push things. This is a mature run, but expect some levity throughout. It won't all be girls in trunks, promise!

Cap and Luna are, naturally, my starter pokemon. Both were male, as they are rigged by the game to be in Colosseum. I changed Luna to be female for the story.

Enjoy.
 
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MouseWithADinosaurTail

Luck will travel, but that's why I've got feet
Artist
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
47
Caught
Jun 15, 2019
Messages
613
Location
Post Town
Nature
Quirky
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Flying
Pokédex Entry
Though she often appears sweet and polite, the smell of wrong opinions may cause this pokemon to latch bite.
Aaaaaah yes! I'm very glad to see this amazing run has arrived. :D I'm not 100% caught up, but I absolutely love everything I've read so far. Captain Justice and Luna are some of my favorite pokemon in a nuzlocke. I definitely am excited to catch up and see where it goes! :D
 
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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.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #3
@MouseWithADinosaurTail - Aaaaaah thank you so much! I'm glad you like the story so far and I hope that catching up is enjoyable for you
😝
 

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.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #4

After the initial shock had worn off, Rui was happy to spend the night talking to her new friends. The two Eeveelutions were a joy to speak with, and just as fascinated by her newfound comprehension as she was.

“In all my experience, I’ve never had a human understand us!” Cap said excitedly, his pronged tail swishing back and forth. “This is the coolest thing ever!” He’d situated himself on her lap (partially—he was a mite too big to fully fit) and had settled into a low, almost undetectable purr.

Luna huffed good-naturedly. “In all your experience, huh, shrimp?” she said drily. “After all, you have so much of it.”

Cap stuck his tongue out at her. “Whatever! Uncle Orange told us all about the world outside Orre—but he never mentioned anything about people who can speak to pokemon, did he?”

Luna’s mouth tightened. “No, I suppose he didn’t,” she muttered. She draped one paw over the other and rested her head on them.

“Uncle Orange is the coolest!” Cap continued. “He was our Flareon uncle. He took care of us till we found Wes!”

Rui smiled—it was hard not to. The little Espeon’s enthusiasm was just so infectious. “He sounds really great, Cap.”

“Oh, he totally is,” Cap said, nodding vigorously. “He’s basically, like, my favorite pokemon ever.”

“Except me, I hope,” Luna drawled from the side.

Cap stuck his tongue out at her again. “You wish, sis!”

“You know, Cap,” Rui said, errantly running her hand through his fur, “I understand why Luna got her name, but how’d you get yours? Do you have like a little hat or something?”

Luna rolled her eyes in a here-we-go gesture.

“Nah, ‘m afraid I don’t have a cap of my own yet, though I’d like to get one,” he said. “Actually, ‘Cap’ is just short for my real name.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah! My real name is…”—and here he sprang suddenly from her lap to pose triumphantly on the bed, battle-ready, his head held proudly high, with a perfectly self-confident smile on his face—Captain Justice!”

Rui fought desperately to keep the giggles down, a venture which was not made easier by Luna’s aggrieved, long-suffering look behind his back.

“L-like the… cartoon character?” Rui said.

Cap deflated just a little bit. “Yeah, so? He’s cool! He helps people!” His head nodded insistently. “He’s a hero of justice who fights hard and protects the weak and always does the right thing. He’s the best at what he does and everyone looks up to him, and no matter what, even when things look rough, he never gives up!” Cap began bouncing on the bed, shaking it enough that Rui almost fell off; she devolved into laughter.

And and he represents hope and courage to an entire generation that grew up with him, and no matter what, you can count on him to be there!” Cap continued. “And can we just talk about his powers for a little bit, okay? All the other heroes have shapeshifting or agelessness or shoot fireballs or have the blessing of Ho-oh or whatever! But Captain Justice is a normal, ordinary guy whose only power is to know when people need help, yet he still stands up to the darkness and fights guys way stronger than him without giving up or giving in. He’s the selfless hero of the people and there is nothing wrong with being named after Captain Justice!”

“I never said there was!” Rui protested behind continued laughter. “I was just—a little unprepared, that’s all!”

Cap nodded and sat down, the matter closed.

Until.

“Well,” Luna yawned behind him, “I’m named after a goddess, but you do you.”

With a wordless cry, Cap pounced on his sister. The two of them rolled around on the floor, scrabbling with each other and trading cuffs and play bites. Rui grinned; it was hard not to watch them and smile. Young pokemon like Cap were known for being rambunctious, of course, but he overflowed with an exuberant energy that Rui hadn’t seen since…

Since Pompom.

The smile faded a little bit as she remembered her stolen Aipom. Pompom had been at the height of her excitable youth when Rui had received her a few years prior. Though she’d slightly calmed down over the years, the Aipom had never really grown out of her energy…

Rui blinked, realizing the play-fight had stopped. Both pokemon were looking at her with concern. “Are you alright?” asked Luna. “You look a little bit… forlorn.”

Rui glanced to the side, wearing a sad smile. “Yeah. I was just remembering Pompom. It’s weird to think that I had her just a day or two ago, and now…”

She trailed off, letting her eyes wander to the window. The stars speckling the sky over Phenac looked like little bits of diamond sprinkled in the heavens. Saffron City had been so bright, so vibrant; you could never see any stars at night there, not like this.

Silence reigned for a few minutes before Cap hopped back on the bed. He tentatively nudged his way under Rui’s arm; she wrapped it around him, letting his warmth sink into her. “You can talk about her, if you want,” he said quietly.

Rui sighed. “Pompom was special,” she said. “A gift from my mom for my fourteenth birthday. She had this mischievous energy, but she always knew not to take things too far—and she understood when I needed comfort. She was small, so as not to cause trouble when I moved around the big city, and just the right size to curl up against you when you slept… she was…”

She sniffed and blinked. She hadn’t realized she was tearing up. “She was the perfect pokemon,” she said, wiping her face. She smiled down at Cap. “You remind me of her, actually. You both make me smile.”

“Yeah, I can see that,” Cap said with confidence. “People can’t help but smile around me cause I’m the best and I tell the best jokes. Unlike my sister, who only thinks she’s funny.”

At that comment, Luna began grooming her paws with tremendous dignity.

“Was Pompom funny?” Cap continued. “Did she tell jokes?”

Rui frowned. “Jokes? I… I have no idea.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, it’s not like I understood her.”

“Huh?” Cap turned his head sideways. “What, could she not talk or something?”

Luna’s voice came from behind. “I think I understand. This ability… it’s recent, isn’t it?”

Rui glanced at the Umbreon and, after a moment’s hesitation, nodded.

“I thought so. It was probably being held captive that woke it. Most psychics manifest by childhood, but sometimes it takes trauma in the teen years or young adulthood to—”

Rui cut her off with a guffaw. “Psychic? Me? Luna, c’mon. You don’t think I’m one of those weirdos, do you?”

Cap abruptly pulled out from under her arm, shooting her an offended look.

“Aww, Cap sweetie, I don’t mean psychic pokemon! It’s just human psychics who are a little… well, you know.”

Cap still looked miffed, but consented to nuzzle back up to her. Luna, however, was gazing inscrutably at Rui.

“You don’t think you’re psychic?” she asked.

“Well no,” Rui said, exasperated. Wasn’t it obvious? Psychics were people like Sabrina (who should have never booted the Karate King out of his Gym position, regardless of how their match went.) They were cold enigmas who could control the world around them with a thought and probe the minds of others. How could you trust them not to hurt or manipulate you? How did you know any thought that entered your mind was yours? How many ‘accidents’ throughout history were actually a psychic playing with the physical world from afar?

Rui wasn’t anything like that. “I can’t control things with my mind,” she said. “Or think thoughts into other peoples’s heads. See?” She pointed at the small lamp on her bedstand and narrowed her brows. Despite imagining the lamp floating up, it remained affixed firmly to the desk.

Luna and Cap shared a knowing look. “You know that psychic powers manifest in many unusual ways,” Luna explained—her tone patient but with an undercurrent of exasperation, as if she was a teacher who had been asked a question on something she’d explained clearly in the lesson. “What you described is simply the most common manifestation. Pokemon empathy is the least common, but still prevalent, as well as channeling power—”

“Channeling power is sacred and nothing like psychics!” Rui hissed.

Luna blinked for a moment before nodding. “Right, you’re Kantonian. I know that channelers are a big deal for you and the Johtonese…”

“You’re damn right they are,” Rui said, remembering the first time her father had taken her to the temple in Lavender Town. Compared to the small shrine near their house, the grandiose tower had seemed like the fabled Hall of Origin from the stories.

Luna sighed. “Rui, I won’t use the ‘p’ word if it makes you touchy, but I think you should realize that what you’re doing now, and the timing with which you managed to do it, is very… indicative. Of that. Okay?”

Rui grumbled and didn’t say anything in response.

“…all right then. Actually, it’s getting late and we shouldn’t have kept you up this late anyway—you need to rest after what happened to you. Come on, little brother.”

Cap reluctantly squirmed his way out from under Rui’s arm. “Night, Rui,” he said in his chipper adolescent’s voice. “See you tomorrow?”

“Of course,” Rui replied. Once the room was quiet again, she found her mind spinning in thought. The two of them were so cute and nice—just like Pompom.

You can’t expect them to be replacements, a cynical part of her warned. They’re Wes’s pokemon, not yours. You’ll see them for a few more days and that’s it.

The thought saddened her, but it wasn’t wrong. Cap and Luna weren’t hers, and what would she do—demand he move to Agate Village with her so that she could chat with his pokemon?

…chat.

Now that they were gone, it once more seemed surreal. She could speak… to pokemon? Could she really do that?

Wouldn’t be the first weird thing that happened to you the last few days, that same part of her whispered.

She shook the thought out. One thing at a time. And what Luna had said… just because Rui could understand pokemon didn’t make her a psychic, right?

The lamp caught her eye, and she reached at it with her mind. She was almost afraid of what would happen if it did move.

But it didn’t and she sighed with relief.

Yeah. Nothing major here.

---

“…body count is unknown as authorities are still combing through wreckage, but thus far, we can now say for certainty—the destroyed building was almost certainly a hideout for Team Snagem.”

Rui couldn’t take her eyes away from the television. The newscaster, a tall woman with olive skin and long hair, stood superimposed over an image of black smoke spuming out of a craggy and imposing canyon carved into the side of a rocky bluff. The image shifted, showing the twisted wreckage of a one-proud building. The structure was a mass of twisted metal and concrete, and personnel buzzed at the foot of it.

Ximena, also eyeing the screen, shook her head in disgust. “Adios, qué no regreses, she said. “Bastards can go rot for all I care, eh? Thieves, the lot of them.”

“And murderers,” Wes added quietly from the room’s edge.

Sí,” Ximena said. “That too.” She set down another plate of toast in front of him and went to go get one for Rui as well.

“Oh, I’m—I’m fine, really!” Rui protested. She felt bad—she’d woken this morning to find Ximena wailing about having only muffins and toast to serve her guests. “I don’t need any more.”

“Sure you don’t,” Ximena said sternly. “I’m sure you had much to eat in that car, you were well-fed the whole time.” She set another plate of toast in front of Rui and smiled at her. “You need to get back your strength, alright? Since you’re staying for one more day.”

Rui blushed but nodded. Ximena had talked her into staying until they went shopping to get Rui some proper clothes and supplies, and Wes had agreed to join after some prompting.

“I need to go get ready for work,” Ximena said, bustling out of the kitchen. “Eat up, okay?”

While she was gone, Rui continued watching the broadcast with interest. She’d been warned about Team Snagem before coming to Orre, but had never really heard that much about them. “Who are these people?” she asked. “And why do they call themselves Team Snagem?”

Wes shook his head. “They don’t. That’s just a name the common folk ascribe to them. It’s too cutesy for them to pick themselves.”

Rui swallowed the last bite of toast and glanced at him. “Then what’s their own name?”

“They call themselves the Brotherhood—or so I’ve heard,” Wes said. “The common name tells you as much about them as you can expect. They Snag pokemon from trainers.”

“So they’re pokemon thieves.”

He shook his head again. “Not in the way you’re thinking. Snagging a pokemon completely severs its connection with its original poke ball. They can use a special machine to basically catch trained pokemon as if they were wilds.”

Rui couldn’t help but gasp. “But that’s—that’s awful! Those poor pokemon!”

“Yeah,” Wes said, quietly. “And they kill people, too. Extort. That sort of thing. They’re a proper gang.”

“I wonder if… those two… were affiliated with them.”

Wes’s eyes flickered towards her for a brief moment—she caught a flash of sympathy, and what might have been dry amusement. “I’d doubt it. Those two seemed like common thugs. Not to downplay what happened to you, of course, but I doubt they were Brotherhood.”

“It’s alright.” She shivered nonetheless. “Still, those Snagem types seem like a bad bunch.”

“They were. Personally, I think someone should have blown up that hideout a long time ago…”

The screen suddenly cut back to the newscaster, who was holding a hand to her ear. “Yes, yes—we can now say that authorities have confirmed the wreckage of Snag Machines inside the building. These extremely rare items, of which only a handful were known to exist, were Team Snagem’s claim to fame—and now we can confirm that all of them appear to be accounted for. The machines are destroyed—Orre can rejoice.”

From the corner of her eye, Rui saw Wes’s face tighten in what might have been slight confusion. What was up with him? She shook her head and returned her gaze to the TV. The quality was getting fuzzy. Unlike back home, where everyone had the freshest plasma screen, here in Orre people made do with obsolete. Ximena, who by all appearances had a rather upscale—if cozy—apartment and living, made do with a single, boxy, rather small CRT. Rui reflected on just how different it would be here. Orre was the poorest of the regions…

“…still aren’t certain of the cause of the explosion,” the caster continued, “but it appears to have been jury-rigged from inside the base using native materials. Authorities are suggesting a job from a turncoat member—”

The caster was cut off by a shrill telephone ring. Ximena, her makeup half done, burst into the kitchen. “Mi llamada!” she said, cradling the receiver against her face. Rui had to hand it to her—the other woman didn’t seem to mind if Rui and Wes saw her half done up, or if they listened to her side of the call.

“Yes… it is.” Ximena’s brows narrowed. “And who is this?” Her eyes widened. “Oh—oh! Yes, I—” She cut off, listening to the other end. “I’m sure she would… yes. I will. G-goodbye.” She hung up the receiver, looking quite shaken.

“Rui… dear,” she said. “You may want to brace yourself.”

Rui, who was sitting down on a chair and leaning on the table, didn’t know how she could brace herself any more than she already was. “Alright.”

“That was the mayor’s office. Mayor Es Cade heard what happened yesterday and wishes to speak with you… you have an appointment at one o’clock.”

Rui tried to find the words. “I… oh. I, uh…”

Rui had thought that speaking to the police the previous night would have been the end of her interaction with the authorities. She tried to find solace by looking at Ximena, but the other woman was clearly too surprised to help Rui maintain composure. Wes was stoic-faced as usual, and—

A warmth by her hand. There was Cap, grinning up at her, and Luna half-dozing across the room, had also perked up, and looked supportive.

Right. She could do this. Anything to stop what had happened to her from happening to somebody else. Maybe she could help the mayor bring in those crooks.

“I’ll go,” she said. “I’ll do it.”

“I can come too, if you’d like,” Wes said. Rui glanced at him. “I can give details about the teams of those two thugs, and the way they tried to steal my cycle. And besides… if I come, maybe I can bring Cap and Luna along too.”

Relief flooded her. “I’d appreciate that.”

---

Wes admired her.

She stood dwarfed by the statues outside the mayor’s office, twin behemoths made to look like Tyranitar. She was, perhaps, half as tall as either statue. She was uncertain, visibly trembling, and still bruised on her wrists and ankles—but she was there, and ready to discuss a nightmare that was scarcely a day old. People thought Wes strong, but that was because he conformed to a particular idea of strength—one which he increasingly found hollow. It was people like this young woman, who stood firm in the face of doubts, that Wes wished he could emulate.

1pm had passed and the mayor had still not invited them in. If they weren’t so unimportant, Wes would have thought it a classic power play—tell someone to arrive an hour before you plan to see them and make them wait on you. That said, if Es Cade really needed to impress two people barely out of their teens, he wasn’t worth his salt as a mayor at all.

But it wouldn’t have been out-of-character for Phenac. Of all the cities in Orre, those dusty, dirty holes where people eked out what existence they could, Phenac was the true exception. Every building was carved of exquisite smooth stone, and the whole city was ringed by a large wall with a great flowing aqueduct on top. The water never stopped flowing there, and that was Phenac’s true display of wealth—that it could show off water in the desert.

Wes hated Phenac, and places like it. Gaudy, smooth, polished, and utterly soulless. It was places like these, with their empty smiles and clean clothes, that made groups like the Brotherhood so appealing to the destitute youth who made up their rank-and-file: simply hold up Phenac and its excesses as the bogeyman, the justification for every bad thing you did. In Phenac, a kid lifting a wallet would be kicked, spat on, ran out of town. Those same people who spurned the thief would go to a bank, and sit behind a window, and bilk poor folk out of all they had, and smile while they did it, and repeat the process a million times, stealing more in a week than a decade’s worth of pinched wallets.

If Es Cade was anything like the city he ran, Wes knew he wouldn’t like him.

The front door opened and a small, rotund man in dapper clothing made his way to Rui. Wes quietly stood up and made his way over to them—unobtrusively, of course. This was her rodeo, not his.

“So sorry to keep you waiting,” the bumbler said. “I got a sudden and urgent call from a business partner—I tried to keep it as brief as I could. Let’s head into my office.”

His
office? Wes was taken aback, but Rui rolled with the surprise easily. “Of course, mister mayor,” she said.

The interior was air-conditioned to contrast with the desert outside—perhaps too much so. Rui began to tense up against the cold.

“Here,” Wes said, removing his duster and offering it to her—as he had yesterday. “For good luck.”

She smiled in thanks and donned it. It was a good fit—she was pretty tall for a girl, and it flapped down to about her knees. Cap prowled ahead, seemingly innocuous yet ready to unleash his psychic attacks at a moment’s notice (Wes had trained him well) and Luna flowed alongside him, eyes everywhere at once.

“Easy, girl,” Wes murmured to her. “There’s no danger in a place like this.”

Which was only a half-truth. Places like this were plenty dangerous—but they tended to aim for your pocketbook or your home title, not your eyes or bones.

The mayor’s office was predictably plush, somehow roomy yet cozy—all darkwood shelves and rich carpets and furnishings. The man offered two chairs to Wes and Rui and then plopped behind his desk. Rui sunk into hers immediately; Wes followed her lead.

The mayor launched into the typical sort of babble Wes had expected—so sad to hear what happened, just awful, we’re working so very hard to catch the thieves, blah blah blah. Finally after he was finished, the old man leaned back.

“But I was hoping I could get your help, young lady. Could you tell me more about these abductors?”

“Well, there were two—”

Es Cade waved her into silence with a dismissive gesture. “Yes, I read the report you gave to our officer. What I was more interested about is why two-bit scum would have taken the risk of abducting a young woman, when the risk of being found…”

“I would assume the obvious reason, sir,” Rui said bitterly.

Es Cade nodded, a point acknowledged. “Indeed. Nevertheless, it seems curious that they felt the need to travel for hours and hours just to make it to my fair city, hrmmm? To be frank, my dear, I think they were taking you somewhere in particular—which means that they had a greater purpose in moving you. Erm, so to speak. So what happened to make the whole situation come about?”

“I told everything to the police last night,” Rui said stubbornly. Wes suddenly picked up on what the mayor had doubtless been pursuing all along—there was a certain reticence to Rui’s story. According to her, the two men had suddenly and violently attempted to subdue her—but she refused to elaborate on anything more than that with a doggedness that seemed uncharacteristic of her.

He’d labeled Es Cade a bumbler, but it seemed he had misjudged. The old man, fat and stout, balding except two almost comical puffs of greying hair on the sides of his head, was shrewder than Wes had realized. His skin was weathered from long days in the sun. This was a man who played up an image of a bumbler, who cultivated it.

“Please, miss Matsuhara,” Es Cade pressed, pronouncing her exotic Kantonian name flawlessly. “Anything you tell me can help me protect other citizens. With the recent dissolution of Team Snagem, this is our chance to really dial back crime in the region.”

“…alright,” she sighed. “But don’t judge me for what I’m going to say. I stopped at a town far to the east, at the edge of the desert… I was told there was an underground pokemon battling arena there. I was still in a dark place from losing my mother, so some part of the brutal battles appealed to me… I made my way to the arena. One of the criminals was there, and he used a pokemon, and… I saw it.”

She glanced up, her eyes filled with resolution. “Mister mayor, I saw it as clearly as I see you sitting in that chair. There was a—a cloud of darkness surrounding the pokemon. Just looking at that cloud made me feel sick; it was like something had compressed pain, negativity, and self-hate into a cloak around that poor pokemon. The cloud was the pokemon. Does that make sense? I don’t know how I knew this, but just looking at it, I could tell.” Her voice took on an urgent, fierce quality. “And then in the battle itself, it behaved with almost unprecedented savagery… even the spectators at the arena were shocked. It even tried to attack the opposing trainer. I may have raised a ruckus about seeing the darkness; I realized too late that I was the only one who could see it. Later that evening, in a nearby alley, the two men jumped me, muttering about me ‘seeing too much.’ So that’s why.”

Es Cade steepled his fingers together and leaned back in his chair, his eyes never leaving Rui’s face. When he spoke, it was with the air of a man choosing each word carefully. “So. You’re a psychic, then?”

All color flushed from Rui’s face. “What—why does everyone—how dare

Es Cade again effortlessly quieted her by raising a dismissive hand. “You claim to have seen this pokemon’s emotions. No one else could. That sounds like Aura—a psychic power.”

“I’m not—it was the first—”

“So you’re not an Aura-user then?” Es Cade asked. “You can’t sense it?”

“I’m not a psychic!”

“Then I can only assume you were hallucinating,” Es Cade said. “This illicit ring—were there certain… substances there?”

Rui’s lips pursed in anger. “If there were, I wasn’t using any.”

Es Cade gave her the smile of a benevolent patrician who saw through the lies of children. “Of course you weren’t. Then perhaps the atmosphere simply became too much for you—or jet lag, perhaps, since you came so long from Kanto.”

“This isn’t a game. I’m not making this up! If I didn’t see anything, then why would they kidnap me, then? And why was their pokemon going after people?”

“I would expect that your outburst simply drew their attention. They probably immediately pegged you as a tourist or newcomer, someone not likely to be missed… as for the pokemon,” he said, smiling without mirth, “this isn’t your home region, young lady. This is Orre. People get attacked here all the time.” He leaned back with a sigh. “Of course, regardless of what you may or may not have imbibed in that arena, Miss Matsuhara, I have no interest in persecuting a young woman who just went through a trying ordeal… I have no more to ask. Thank you for your time.”

Rui stood, nodded stiffly, and walked out. Wes rose to follow her, but a sharp word from the mayor held him:

“Wait.”

Wes stood there, folding his arms, waiting for the mayor to break the silence. The old man studied him for a moment. “Do I know you from somewhere?”

A low drumbeat of panic started up inside Wes’s chest. Not now. Not when I’m so close. “I would be surprised, sir.”

“Hmm. You sure? I could swear that your face… Do you work in town?”

Wes managed to avoid licking his lips. He was grateful—actually grateful—for Rui smashing his face in yesterday. With his nose swollen and bandaged like that, it would be harder to identify him.

“I’m a drifter. I travel Orre doing odd jobs.”

“I see.” Es Cade leaned back and gave Wes one more surveying eye. “One more thing. What’s your opinion on this Snagem business?”

He suspected. He almost certainly suspected. “They’re scumbags who got what they deserved,” Wes said.

“That’s rather ruthless, wouldn’t you say? Even for criminals. A lot of Snagem men died in that explosion.”

“Scumbags,” Wes reiterated. “Who got what they deserved.”

“Well. I guess each man’s entitled to his own opinion, isn’t he? Thank you for your time, Mr. Sands.”

Wes turned without nodding and stalked out of the office. As he shut the door, the mayor’s phone buzzed and the old man picked it up, switching from Unovan to native Orresian in a heartbeat. “Quién es? Te dije que no me llamaras cuando estuviera en la alcaldía. Recibí tu mensaje…”

Rui was sitting outside on the steps, her head in her hands. Wes sat next to her and waited for her to start talking.

“I’m not… crazy,” she said. She raised her face to his and he saw her eyes were red. “I really did see what I saw in that arena. That pokemon was vicious—and I saw that black cloud! What happened to me… Pompom was taken because of what I saw. Don’t tell me I was high or scared or—!”

“I believe you,” Wes said, because he did. He’d known one or two people like her before. “But why did you insist you couldn’t see it after you said you did?”

“I what?”

“You perfectly described seeing a pokemon’s Aura—and then denied that you can see Aura. The mayor was a prick, but what you said was confusing.”

“Aura? It’s not—I’m not psychic, though, Wes. You have to believe me.”

“You’ve never done this before?” he asked.

“No!”

Wes was quiet for a bit. “I knew a guy who could commune with spirits,” he said after a moment. “Channeler stuff. Thing is—the first time he did it, he was twenty-four. Lost both of his legs in an off-roader accident, spent almost a week in a coma. When he came out… he could talk to ghost-type pokemon. Had weird dreams. Sometimes said he saw the spirit world. He was twenty-four, Rui. Sometimes, stuff like this doesn’t wake up until life hits you in the teeth.” He waited for a second and then added, quieter, “you said your mom died?”

“…dammit,” Rui said, her voice hoarse from trying to hold back tears. “Dammit all. All this, and now I’m—I’m a—” She cut herself off, voice tight with frustration.

Wes made a snap decision. “Come on,” he said, standing up.

“Huh? W-what?”

“You know what I do when life throws me troubles?” he said.

She hiccupped and then grinned at him. “Glower at it until it slinks away and doesn’t look your way again?”

A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. “Only sometimes. Come on. We’re drowning your sorrows in beer.”

“I don’t drink, Wes.”

He snorted. “Fine then. I’m drowning my nonexistent sorrows in beer. You and your sorrows can eat chips or something.”

She hiccupped again and smiled. “Deal. But um… you’re not worried about going places with a… a p-psychic?”

“This is Orre,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, that just makes you better backup.”

---

If you're wondering why people in Orre speak Spanish, it's because the original games were explicitly based on the American Southwest and I just kinda ran with it. The general lawlessness of the region is based on archetypal stories of the Old West, which I always thought that Colosseum owed a great deal to.

And apologies to native or fluent speakers of Spanish, I'm doing my best but I am NOT fluent and I know it shows ^^;
 

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.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #5

Rui had never actually been in a bar before. Kanto was relatively lax about letting youth attend such places (as was Orre, or so she heard) but she’d never had any particular desire to drink, finding the behavior of drunks to be generally uncouth and obnoxious. Add in that her mother had briefly, but devastatingly, turned to the bottle a few years back when Rui’s father had died, and she’d grown a strong distaste for such places.

But for Wes’s sake, she’d put up with going there for a night—and for her sake, she suspected, he was avoiding his usual haunts. He struck her as the sort of person who frequented dives; he probably had a bar in every town in Orre, each dingier than the last. But instead, the Sunny Swanna was a reputable, if small, establishment with a crisp but pleasant interior and old photos lining the wood-paneled walls.

The bartender—a man in his early thirties who looked like someone’s favorite older cousin—examined Wes’s still-swollen, bandaged nose and her borrowed canvas duster with some skepticism, but brought them their orders fast enough.

Rui had finished her bowl of salty snacks and was clearly bothering the barkeep by not ordering anything other than cold water. Wes, on the other hand, was enjoying his third glass of smooth, dark, foamy liquid.

“So why do they call it stout, anyway?” she asked him as he polished it off.

“Dunno,” he said, swirling the remaining bit of foam around in the bottom of the glass. “Not a beer snob. Just know what I like.”

Luna, who was dozing at their feet, leaned her head up. “Hey Rui, stop him before he gets a fourth, that’s when it really starts to—”

But before she was finished, Wes had already raised his hand for another glass. The Umbreon shook her head and muttered darkly.

When the glass had arrived and the bubbles settled, giving the drink its characteristic dark color, Wes raised his glass in salute. “To your troubles,” he said.

Rui giggled and met his stout with her water glass, earning a disapproving eyebrow from the bartender. She considered sticking her tongue out at him, but decided not to indulge her juvenile side. “Our troubles,” she said in return.

Wes took a long pull from the glass, set it down half-emptied, and settled back with a contemplative look in his eye.

That look didn’t appeal to Rui at all. He seemed ill at-ease, as though something was worrying him. “Hey Wes,” she said, more to divert his attentions than anything, “thanks for taking me here. Really. I’ve never actually been to a bar before.”

He looked at her with a small bit of surprise. “Really? They don’t have bars where you’re from?”

“Nah, they do. It’s just that I never had occasion to visit, you know? And it’s Kanto, actually. Saffron City.”

She waited for him to ask the obvious questions, the ones everyone asked—if you’re Kantonian, how do you speak Unovan so well? Why do you have red hair? Why are you even in Orre?—but he settled back appreciatively. “That’s… pretty neat, actually. I’ve always wanted to visit Saffron City. It’s the biggest city in the world, right?”

“I think we’re second, actually. Still pretty big, though.”

He nodded. “Still. What I wouldn’t give to see cities that size. Phenac’s the biggest Orre has, though Pyrite is almost as big… but neither are even a tenth the size of Saffron.” He smiled waywardly at her. “I feel like a rube next to the big-city girl.”

She waved him off. “It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. A lot of the ‘must-sees’ are just for tourists… really, it’s just like everywhere else except rent’s a lot higher. It’s funny, though; coming to Orre I was nervous, but excited to see all these wonderful new places.”

“‘Wonderful.’ Heh.” He took another pull from his glass. “I’d say our tourism board was doing its job, if we had one.” He shook his head. “I’ve always wanted to leave this stupid region, but I can never seem to manage it… it gets its hooks in you and doesn’t let go, just pulling you down and down. I don’t really have a home, you know. Was just a desert rat, skirting all over the region, mostly the eastern end… always dreaming of escape and never quite making it.” He ran a fingertip around the glass’s rim.

“Maybe it’s selfish of me,” Rui said quietly, “but I’m glad you didn’t go. If you were gone, I probably wouldn’t be here right now.”

He stopped playing with his glass and eyed her. “Don’t make me out to be some paragon, Rui. I’m not. I was just a normal guy in the right place…”

The bell over the door tinkled and everything changed. At the small sound, Luna raised one eye lazily and then sprung up, growling. Cap, who had been nosing around the bar’s edge, followed his sister’s lead.

Heart suddenly hammering, Rui turned to face the newcomers. There were four of them—three scowling men, each of whom looked like a different shade on the palette of “big and ugly,” and one woman in her late twenties at the forefront—an athletic woman in cutoff jean shorts and a tight tank, with a heavily tattooed right arm and long, loose ponytail. A Magnemite hovered over her shoulder.

The woman eyed Wes’s drink with a mixture of amusement and contempt. “So. Even after playing the do-gooder back in Eclo Canyon, you still don’t have the balls to get a real drink.” She turned her gaze to the bartender. “Hey boss, gimme something to show up this lightweight. Whiskey, and not the nancy shit.”

The bartender took in the situation for a few seconds, cleared his throat, and spoke. “Whoever you are, I don’t want trouble here. It’s best if you l—”

The woman sighed and waved the Magnemite off her shoulder. With a buzz, the pokemon discharged a pulse of magnetic power. The field make Rui’s ears ring, and brought a temporary but uncomfortable crackling sensation to her teeth; she winced. It blew out all the electronics in the bar; the radio, the TV, even the lights.

The woman’s smile was tight. “There. Now nobody can do anything impulsive like calling the cops. So, boss…” She leaned right up against the bar and gave the man an impish smile. “How ‘bout that whiskey? I get pissy when I have to repeat myself. Oh, and whatever pokeball or gun you’ve got stashed under there, forget it. Unless it’s worth turning your spine into a power cable.” The Magnemite hummed menacingly; behind the sound (or overlaid—it was hard to tell), Rui heard it as a low laugh.

The barkeep swallowed and grabbed a glass tumbler. The woman turned to Wes, still, still wearing her shark’s smile.

“Hey Revy,” he said without emotion.

“Hey big boy,” said Revy, reaching out to pinch his cheek. Luna stood on all fours, growling louder—“Back off,” Rui heard. “Or I swear…!”—and Cap’s forehead jewel gleamed.

Revy shot the Umbreon a look of contempt. “Easy there, princess,” she said. “You and your brother are tough, but this is a pretty tight place—lots of room for collateral damage if moves start flying. The boss here, your trainer… even his little minx. Who knows what could happen, even if you win?”

Taking a seat on the other side of Wes, Revy shot a flat look at Rui. “And speaking of, wallflower, this is between us. Don’t make a peep and never talk about this ever again and you can go home and sleep tonight without a problem.” She smirked. “Understood?”

Rui swallowed and, trying to ignore the three men hemming them in, sunk as deep into Wes’s duster as she could. Despite it being the afternoon, with the lights gone, it was oppressively dark.

“What are you here for,” Wes asked.

“I think you know,” Revy said. “Murderer.”

Murderer? Rui shot Wes a worried glance out of the corner of his eye. What had she gotten into?

“That’s rich,” Wes returned, “coming from Gonzap’s chief hatchet-woman. How many people have you killed, huh?”

“Nobody who didn’t have it coming from being stupid enough to cross the boss. Certainly not anyone who was family.” Her feigned friendliness all but evaporated, leaving the last word all but a snarl.

“You’re not my family,” Wes said quietly. He ignored her anger and took another pull of stout, finishing off the glass. “None of you are.”

Revy glared at his glass before turning her gaze to the bartender, who was just beginning to pour the whiskey. “Hey shit-for-brains,” she snarled, “what’s the holdup, huh? I’m thirsty over here, you know?”

The hapless barkeep hurried the tumbler over, the glass clinking as his hand trembled. Revy drained the whole thing in one go and slammed it down onto the table with a growl. “Gotta admit, Wes,” she said darkly, “‘m surprised you could ever do a thing like what you did. Never woulda guessed it.”

“You don’t know me,” he said softly.

A wicked grin split Revy’s face. “Ohhh, Wes baby,” she said archly, “you know that’s not true. We know each other so well…” She reached out to stroke his neck with the back of her fingers, an intimate and strangely menacing gesture.

Luna was snarling—and once again, Rui realized vaguely that if she focused, she could hear both the snarls and the words they meant. “Back off,” Luna said. “Hand off his neck, back off.

“Make a move,” the Magnemite taunted. “I dare you, go on.”

“Revy’s got one extra poke ball, sis,” Cap said. “The lowlifes have one each.”

“Five on two,” the Magnemite gloated.

Cap grinned. “We can take ‘em no problem.”

Meanwhile, Revy was glaring over Wes’s shoulder at Rui. “She’s wearing your coat,” she said. “You never let me wear your coat. Makes me a little bit jealous…”

“You have a point, Revy?” An edge crept into Wes’s voice as he said it.

“Not really,” she said. “You know why I’m here. Payback for what you did—and taking back the machine so we can rebuild. All I wanted to know was why.”

“I want to say that I hate what we became,” Wes said, “but I don’t know if that’s true. Actually… we never ‘became’ anything. We were always that way. I just woke up to it.”

“‘Woke up,’ huh…” Revy drawled off. She hopped off her stool and Wes did the same. They traded gazes for a while.

“You know,” Revy said with a predatory smile, “those two terrors of yours had them worried, so they gave me an extra-special pokemon for the job.” She took a step towards Wes, who backed away. Luna prowled behind him, trying to keep eyes on both Revy and the goons. Cap stood tense along the room’s edge.

Revy’s smile grew fiercer. “Extra special, actually. Like nothing you’ve ever seen. Wanna meet him?”

Another step from Revy. Another step back from Wes. The other woman was standing just near her shoulder, Rui realized, close enough to touch. Revy’s whole attention was on Wes. Everyone else was focused on the two of them; even the goons had relaxed their circle. Maybe, Rui thought, maybe I can make a break for it while they’re distracted.

That was a possibility. Or she could do something very, very dumb instead.

When it happened, Rui couldn’t believe it—it was almost like she observed it from outside her own body, watching a stranger control her arms. As Revy advanced on Wes, reaching for her second poke ball, Rui—in one fluid motion—snatched his empty glass off the bar and swung it, twisting her body on the stool to give her arm momentum. The glass smashed into the back of Revy’s head, right where the skull met the neck, with a loud thock. Rui had expected it to break, like in the movies, but it stayed solid—the impact sent a shiver up her arm that made her drop it. At the blow, Revy lurched forward, gurgled a mix of surprise and pain, and collapsed onto the floor.

And all hell broke loose.

Before his mistress had finished her collapse, the Magnemite sent a furious wave of electricity directly at Rui. She should have made some move to get out of the way, protect herself, something, but she was still in shock at her own gutsiness.

Luna saved her. The Umbreon jumped in front of the electricity, teeth gritting as she skidding across the bar, paws thrashing in pain. The Magnemite hummed in fury and sparked up another attack—only for a small, pinpoint beam of luminescent energy to snipe him out of the air. As he plummeted, buzzing with anger, Cap leapt directly onto him, his gem glowing. The Magnemite’s eye widened a second before Cap unleashed all his power point-blank.

Flashes filled the air as the three goons unleashed their pokemon. The pokemon—a Gloom, an Elekid, and a Vigoroth—advanced the wounded Luna. With a cry, Rui pulled her off of the bar countertop, only to slump to the ground under the Umbreon’s weight; she was far heavier than Rui had expected.

“Stay down!” Wes yelled at her before lunging not at the pokemon, but at their trainers. Rui saw with a start that one of the goons had drawn a heavy chain. Wes barely dodged a swing from it to smash the heel of his hand into the guy’s adam’s apple.

The Elekid grunted and made to stop Wes, but the Vigorth held him back. “Our goal’s to neutralize the Eeveelutions,” she said. “One’s down, but we need to be wary of the other one.”

“Aww—all three of you for me? Really? I’m flattered!” Cap trotted over to them, looking supremely at ease—as though he wasn’t in the middle of a sudden, brutal fight. The Magnemite slumped behind him, unconscious.

Warily, the other three pokemon spread out. “Careful,” the Vigoroth warned. “Don’t let your guard down, but I think we can take him.”

The Gloom nodded, and was then immediately punted across the room by a flash-quick burst of psychic energy.

“First rule,” Cap said mischievously as the Vigoroth and Elekid both took an involuntary step back, “don’t bring Poison-types to fight the coolest type. That’s me, by the way. Second rule…”

A coat of psychic energy suddenly wrapped the Elekid. He rose up, arms flailing and protesting weakly, only to be spun around five or six times and tossed into a table.

“Don’t bring baby pokemon to fight a superhero,” Cap said smugly. “And as for the third rule…”

The Vigoroth lunged at him, claws swiping. Cap ducked underneath and smashed his skull into the bottom of her chin, sending her reeling back. “Actually, I don’t have a third rule. Um… help me find one?”

A small burst of explosion from his forehead gem sent the Vigoroth tumbling. Another coat of psychic energy suspended her in the air.

“Maybe it’s over behind those bottles!” Cap suggested helpfully before flinging her into the alcohol shelf behind the bar. Glass shattered and the smell of booze filled the air as the Vigoroth plummeted into the ground. She stirred, but at a flash from Cap’s jewel, the shelves themselves collapsed, burying her in wood and even more bottles.

He giggled gleefully. “Did someone order one butt-kicking with a side of Captain Justice?” he asked no one in particular. “Cause that’s what you got!” Psychic light wrapped one of the few intact bottles and hovered it over to him. “A toast to my greatness!”

Beneath Rui’s arm, Luna squirmed and gave her brother the stinkeye. “Cap…” she warned.

He stuck his tongue out at her. “Bleh! You never let me do anything fun.”

He chucked the bottle directly at the lone thug who Wes hadn’t taken down. It shattered as it hit the man’s collarbone, and the thug staggered just long enough for Wes to knock him in the solar plexus. The man dropped.

Panting and looking haggard, Wes swept the establishment before nodding. “C’mon,” he said. “Let’s move.”

At his urging, Luna squirmed out of Rui’s grip and moved gingerly across the floor.

“Thanks for saving me, Luna,” Rui said in a meek voice. “I’m sorry you got hurt.”

The Umbreon shook her head. “Not that hurt,” she said. “Just paralysis, that’s all. It’ll wear off.”

Relief flooded Rui. “That’s good,” she said. When she raised the likelihood of Luna’s paralysis to Wes, he exhaled roughly through his mouth.

“Dammit,” he said, “I left the medicine back at Ximena’s apartment… and we can’t have her slowing us down. Sorry, Luna, I know you hate it in there, but you’ll have to go in your ball.”

The Umbreon looked absolutely indignant, but she nodded brusquely and allowed herself to be recalled.

“What about the bartender?” Rui said as they left.

“He’ll be fine, he’s not their main target. Right now we need to worry about ourselves.”

Darting out of the Silver Swanna, Wes rounded a corner and cursed, skidding to a half and pulling himself back. Rui just managed to avoid crashing into him.

“What is it?” she asked, images of more violence meeting her head.

“Three people—two guys and a girl. I don’t recognize them, but they look rough. I’d bet Revy brought them there to stall the cops if they showed up.” Wes kneaded his forehead with the heel of his hands. “And if I knew her, they’re not the only ones. We need to think outside the box…”

His eyes drifted to a drainpipe which led up the side of a building. The roof overtop was made of stone and relatively flat. “We’ll go by roof. Come on.”

Rui barely had time to protest before he was already up the pipe and on the roof. Wow… she thought.

“I—I’m not sure I can—ah!” Before she could protest further, a coat of psychic energy gently lifted her up and dropped her with a little fall right alongside Wes. As she got her bearings, Cap nimbly leapt from a stack of crates to the top of a dumpster to the roof, barely batting an eye.

And they were off.

“Keep your profile low, like you’re a soldier running from cover to cover,” Wes said as they ran. “Keep your feet as flat as possible to distribute your weight along them. That’ll help you keep balance and also muffle any sound.” He vaulted over a low rooftop fence and Rui barely managed to clear it behind him. “If I book it, or if it seems like anyone spots us, then drop all stealth and run as fast as you can. Keep close to Cap—if you start falling, he’ll catch you with his powers.”

She nodded, still trying to parse what was happening.

“I can’t believe they found me,” Wes was muttering to himself. “Of course they’d be after me, but they found me so fast. How’d they know where I am?”

Their journey across the rooftops was less trying than Rui would have expected, though Cap had to help her out a few times. There were others up there—sunbathers, gangs of children who scattered when they approached, a few bird and bug pokemon who eyed them warily.

Rui’s lungs burned by the time they made it back to the area where Ximena’s apartment was, but she’d managed to keep pace without falling behind or asking Wes to slow down. Though he’d said nothing to her about it, she got the sense he was surprised and quietly proud that she’d kept up.

“I can see Ximena’s apartment,” Rui said. “Let’s get down there, get inside, and call the police.”

“Hold up,” Wes said, putting an arm in front of her as she made to move. “See that couple in front?”

Rui narrowed her eyes. There were tourists gawking a little down the road from the apartment, snapping photos of the water glittering down the nearby aqueduct. “Yeah, what about them?”

Wes shook his head. “I recognize them. They’re with Revy.”

Fear gripped her heart. “Oh.”

“And that guy at the bus stop,” Wes said, pointing a little further. “Him too.”

“So what?” Cap said behind them. “I’ll stomp them all.” As if to prove his point, his gem began gleaming with energy.

The light caught Wes’s eye. “Stop that,” he lectured. “Cap, those are just the three we’ve seen. There might be others. If Luna wasn’t benched…” He shook his head. “But she can’t cover your back while she’s paralyzed.”

“I’m sorry,” Rui said. “She’s only hurt because of me…”

Wes barked out a laugh. “Considering you took Revy out of the picture immediately, let’s call it square. No, I have a different idea. We’re going to have to leave.”

Rui’s eyes almost bugged from her head. “L-Leave? You mean… leave town?

“Yeah. I know a place where we can go. Unless…” He looked at her. “You want to stay here? You can, you know. It’s me they’re after. Revy might nurse a grudge from you for knocking her out, but if you lay low for a bit you should be alright.” His brows narrowed in thought. “There’s no reason for you to stick your neck out for me. After I leave, you keep a low profile with Ximena’s help.” He nodded to himself. “Okay. After I draw them off, make a break for—”

“Wait,” Rui cut in. She swallowed. “I… I do want to come. Bring me with you.” Silence for a moment. Another one. Then Wes nodded. “Alright.”

Rui nodded back. Though she hadn’t known him for long, she wanted to make sure that Wes was okay—he was the reason she was out of that trunk, after all. And besides, another part of her whispered, this might be connected. Revy had said something about a ‘special pokemon’ that would help her defeat Wes. Could that be the same as the shadowy pokemon she’d seen before?

“We need a distraction,” Wes said. “Once they’re gone, we can hop in my bike and head off. Cap?”

The Espeon smirked and slunk off. In a few minutes, a multicolored light show erupted from a distant alley. With a shout, the tourist couple and the man at the bus stop, along with a few others, raced to meet it.

“Let’s go,” Wes said. He shimmied down another drainpipe and caught Rui when she slipped trying to emulate him. As he prepped his bike, Rui scribbled a hasty note on a loose page from her notebook and wedged it under Ximena’s door.

There were tense minutes in which Rui wondered if the strangers might return, and then Cap burst out of another alley. Quick as a flash, Wes recalled him. “Get in the sidecar!” he commanded. “Here’s the helmet!”

She threw it on, strapped herself, and then his bike roared—and they were gone.

---

They traveled for hours, continuing long after the sun had set. The desert air was not just cool in the night, it was almost frigid. Rui had to grudgingly marvel at just how swiftly Orre turned from unreasonably hot to unconscionably cold. It was as if the region was determined to rub life out of itself as soon as possible.

They arrived at Wes’s chosen destination—a run-down gas station/diner hybrid far to the east. The neon sign read ‘Outskirt Stand.’ He parked his bike behind the building, covered it with a nearby tarp, and knocked a drumbeat pattern on the back door.

It cracked open—a suspicious eye peered out at them.

“It’s me,” Wes said. “I’m here to see Thoreau.”

The door swung open revealing a diminutive, no-nonsense woman wearing a grease-stained apron. “Well, get in then,” she said. They rushed inside. She ushered them down into a cellar, the entrance of which was hidden under big-looking boxes which weren’t as heavy as they looked. “I’ll send him to you.”

Inside the cellar were a few cots and blankets and several spartan cupboards and lockers. A single, buzzing bulb dangling from the ceiling gave the room light.

As they waited for Thoreau, Wes released his two pokemon and tended to them. Neither seemed surprised at their surroundings—so they were familiar with this place, then.

Thoreau didn’t keep them waiting long. He was a broad-shouldered, dark-skinned man with a close-kept beard and dreads pulled behind his head. He met Wes in a tremendous bear hug. When they parted, he eyed Wes’s nose with humor. “Well well,” he said, his voice a pleasant rumble, “who messed you up?”

“She did,” Wes said, hooking his thumb over his shoulder at Rui. “Accident. Don’t worry, she’s a friend. Kinda new to all this, though.”

Thoreau nodded once. “Well, sorry this damn idiot dragged you into his mess. How long you need to hide low?”

“We’ll be gone by tomorrow evening. Morning after, the latest.”

“Right. I’ll send my ma down in the morning to feed you.”

As he turned, Wes caught his arm. “Hold on, Thoreau. They found me in Phenac almost immediately. They had a lot of people looking for me, too. They might be coming here.”

“Mm.” Thoreau strode over to one of the cabinets and, from inside, pulled out an old-fashioned hunting shotgun. Rui gulped (guns in general were a big no-no in Kanto and most other regions—but then Orre, with extremely scarce wild pokemon, was significantly limited in how people could defend themselves) as he chambered shells and tossed a few more in his pocket. “Just in case,” he said, leaning it against his shoulder. His eyes caught Rui’s face and he softened. “Hey, it’s okay,” he said in a surprisingly smooth tone. “This is just to protect you, okay?”

Once he was gone, Wes pulled out a first aid kit from one of the lockers and set about changing the dressings on his nose. As he did so, Rui sat on one of the cots and tried to process her shock.

“What… what’s happening?” she said. “What is this place? Who were those people, Wes?”

He turned, grimacing behind his new bandages and gauze. “I… Rui, I’m really sorry. I should have left you with Ximena yesterday rather than stay… I’ve put you in even greater danger.” He pulled over another chair with a sigh. “I don’t know how much I should tell you.”

“Don’t keep me ignorant,” she said. “I was kept prisoner in a car trunk for almost a full day. If I’m getting mixed up in criminals, I want to defend myself—and knowledge is power.”

Wes sighed, and nodded. “You know that news report you saw this morning? The Brotherhood—Team Snagem? Their base?”

She nodded.

“That…” He paused, swallowed, and his voice grew heavy. “That was me.”

The news hit her like a falling beam. “What…? What are you saying, Wes?”

“I blew up that base. I rigged it to blow from the inside. I… I killed them, Rui.”

Silence reigned in the cellar for a long while. Cap’s eyes darted back and forth between the two humans, open worry on his face. Luna simply watched, her face a mask.

When Rui finally spoke, she said, “the news said they suspected an inside job…”

Wes deflated even more. “Yeah. I am… was… a member of the Brotherhood. Their top Snagger. Been doing it for years.”

“And Thoreau…”

“Their man in this part of Orre. He’d move Snagged pokemon for them. But he got sick of the parade of frightened, empty-eyed creatures moving in and out of his place, just like I got sick of pretending that hurting people for a living was okay…”

“Wes…” It didn’t fit. How? How could this be real? He’d seemed like a nice guy—a great person! “I just don’t understand… how could you ever join up with them?”

“They gave me what I needed,” he said in a soft voice. “I was a lonely kid with no parents, vulnerable on the streets, and they gave me a roof over my head and people who cared about me. They even let me bring my Eevee. They were my family.”

He sighed. “Until they weren’t. Until I realized just how much they were hurting people… how they didn’t care to stop hurting people. How much of their goodwill I was losing just by voicing a concern here or there. But what could I do?”

“Certainly not blow them up!” Rui exclaimed. “Why didn’t you go to the police, or—”

“This isn’t Kanto, Rui!” he said, his voice raw. He looked at her, his eyes red with unshed tears. “Options like that don’t exist! The Brotherhood basically ran all of eastern Orre. They were making a big deal with Miror B, the boss of Pyrite Town, which would let them trade influence out there, too. I had to stop them!” He sighed. “So I found Thoreau, and others within and around the organization who were getting sick of it all. They were all like me—trapped, but feeling too oppressed to do anything about it. But together, we were less paralyzed. We came up with a plan—when all of the bosses and top Snaggers would be in the Eclo Canyon base, bringing all the Snag Machines with them, I would steal a lone Snag Machine and blow up the base. Then I’d lie low here with Thoreau for a few days while the others in on our plan fed misdirection to the survivors to keep them off our tail.”

“Cutting the head off the proverbial snake,” Rui said with a mixture of awe and horror. “But Wes, you—you killed dozens of people!”

“I know that!” he said, suddenly shouting. The tears finally broke free but he didn’t bother wiping them. “I know, but… I was out of options! I couldn’t see any other way to bring down the Brotherhood before they united with Miror B. They ran the East, and he was the biggest crime lord in the West… if they united, Orre itself could be at risk. They could even start shipping Snag Machines to other regions! You think the Brotherhood didn’t already kill dozens on their own? By the month? How much worse would they get if they clasped hands with their biggest rival? The deadline was looming and I only had one choice.”

He sunk back, his passion spent. “They were monsters, Rui. And I grew up with them. And I… I decided I wasn’t going to be a monster anymore. So I committed the most monstrous act I ever did to stop them.” He finally wiped his face. “Maybe there was another way. I guess we’ll never know. I hope I never have to find out… I don’t know if I could live with it.”

Watching this stoic pillar of strength break in front of her awoke something in Rui. “Here,” she said, shouldering off the duster. “You need—”

“Nah,” he said, waving her off. “That coat was… it was a gift from Gonzap, the head of the Brotherhood, after my best Snag yet. Now it seems dirty to wear it.”

Rui nodded and shrugged the duster back on, letting him regain composure. When he calmed, she asked him, “What were your plans after? Surely you didn’t want to run for you whole life. And why steal a Snag Machine?”

Wes sighed. “The goal was to go to the western shore, to Professor Krane near Gateon. He’s the region’s premier researcher, though he’s not as famous as Oak or the Junipers. I was going to give him the Snag Machine, hope he could figure out how it worked, maybe send it to Devon or Silph so they could make poke balls resistant to its abilities. And in exchange, I hoped he could use his connections to finally get me out of this cage of a region…”

He shook his head. “But the very first day I left the stand I let myself get sedate in Phenac, and the day after they found me.”

“I’m—”

“Don’t say you’re sorry,” Wes said. “I chose to stay there, and besides, I probably would have found some reason not to make it to Krane anyway. I’m afraid… he’ll just take the machine and have me thrown in prison. Take my pokemon away.”

Cap nuzzled close to him and Wes looked down with a wry smile, running his hand through his fur. “Anyway, I don’t expect you to spend your life running with me. I can get you to wherever it is you’re going once things die down. If you still want to, that is.”

Did she want to? Wes had killed people. Criminals, sure; murderers, thieves, extortionists. But he had blood on his hands.

But he’d saved her from the trunk.

“…I’ll stay,” she said.

He smiled at her. “Thanks. I mean it.”

That evening, when both of them were resting on cots on the opposite side of the room, Wes’s snores filled the air—but Rui couldn’t find the will to relax and drift off. And then, in the darkness, silent paws padded towards her.

“He’s not a bad person,” Luna said. “He grappled with a long, long time before he made that choice. I hope you can accept that.”

“It just seems so… ruthless,” said Rui.

“It was. But someone had to be.” Luna fell quiet for a moment. “When he was a Snagger… we helped, you know. My brother and me. Cap was too young to really get what we were doing, but me… Before Wes took us in, we were strays who barely managed to stay alive, so I thought it as just payback for those fatcat trained pokemon who had everything. But I came to regret it. Can we actually rise from what we’ve done?”

She padded away, leaving the question hanging in the air. It did not strike Rui as one that Luna expected to be answered.

---

Fun fact: Revy is based on the character of the same name from the anime Black Lagoon, though my Revy is slightly more levelheaded than the anime's.

In this chapter, we get some reveals. I know there's a little less humor this time around, please forgive me. I'm having a real blast writing Wes and Rui, though.
 

Bowser's Family Vacation

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Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
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Jul 1, 2019
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537
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Rash
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Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
It's good to see Rui not relegated to the sidelines! I always thought it was weird how Colosseum felt the need to make a character essentially just a game mechanic?

Although perhaps she would prefer to be on the sidelines right now.

Yeah, smash that nose! Oh, wait, that's a good guy nose. Oops.

Oof. Uh, sorry they only got you, Rui. But, hey, now you have friends! Are Ximena and Niles in canon? I've never played Colosseum.
But Captain Justice is a normal, ordinary guy whose only power is to know when people need help, yet he still stands up to the darkness and fights guys way stronger than him without giving up or giving in. He’s the selfless hero of the people and there is nothing wrongwith being named after Captain Justice!
Of course not, child. You are perfection.

AHH SPANISH IN ORRE AHH

“They were. Personally, I think someone should have blown up that hideout a long time ago…”
M E T A I N T E S I F I E S

Hey, a POV shift! I love Wes' ruthless (if that's the right word) criticism of wealth inequity and the abuses others commit.
He suspected. He almost certainly suspected. “They’re scumbags who got what they deserved,” Wes said.

“That’s rather ruthless, wouldn’t you say? Even for criminals. A lot of Snagem men died in that explosion.”

“Scumbags,” Wes reiterated. “Who got what they deserved.”
I just hate Team Snagem! Nothing to see here, Mr. Mayor!
Sorry, Rui, life just keeps getting more complicated for you. I love The Brotherhood's disbelief at Wes! They're family! I also love Cap's beatdown of the baddies. It's a really interesting angle to have Rui understand the enemy Pokemon. These aren't shadow Pokemon, and they seem as committed to taking down Wes as their trainers...
 
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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.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #7
@Bowser's Family Vacation - Thanks for the wonderful comments! I love how you have feedback for each chapter

Ximena and Niles are based off of nameless NPCs in Colosseum who are present when Wes rescues Rui, and they are never important ever again. As for the Brotherhood pokemon wanting to bring down Wes... In my canon, pokemon have human-like intelligence. Even in the games, where pokemon like Rotom-Dex more or less outright state that pokemon are smart and have personalities, I always thought the "there are no bad pokemon, only bad trainers" thing was bunk. There are definitely bad pokemon and the Brotherhood employs some
 

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.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #8
Here is the child.

He comes from nowhere, from nothing. He cannot remember a mother or father. He was raised by the dirt, nurtured by the “tender” hands of those who chose not to see him, dirty and alone in dark and trash-filled alleys.

The child is afraid. He is afraid because he has, against all odds, grown big enough and old enough that the bigger children see him as a threat. He is afraid because when the bigger children move against him he cannot hope to defeat them. He is afraid because he wants to leave, but there is nothing that surrounds the city and its precious water but miles and miles of barren desert: harsh winds and dry rocks.

The child wants to be brave. He wants to be brave by heading to the nice part of town and making a living there. He knows that the other boys, even the rough ones, stay away from that area; yet the boy does not know why, for the people there are fat and content. Their wallets poke carelessly out of pockets, and change jingles as they walk. These are the perfect people to help an urchin get by, the child thinks. No one will ever know, and with money, he can finally leave.

You wish to tell the child to stop as he makes the odyssey across town, arriving in the shining plaza of smooth, polished stone and cascading water. Banks and shops dot the fringes of the open space. You wish to tell him not to eye the people crossing the plaza with such obvious hunger. You wish to warn him of the officer leaning against a wall with practiced nonchalance, a man who smells trouble like a predator smells a wounded straggler.

But of course, the child could never hear you.

Here is the child as he hunts down a target. You see him as he observes and dismisses potential targets. That woman, too old—what if she needs the money for medicine? That man, too big. A swing from him, even not done to hurt, could break bones. That pampered young child potentially nimble enough to catch up to a fleeing thief. And never anyone with poke balls on their belt.

Finally the child finds his perfect target. She is dumpy and getting along in years, though not truly elderly. She can afford to lose some money. She is of the right gender (so the child thinks) and the right age to be sympathetic to a small, dirty, hungry boy should he get caught—and of the right build, lumpy and soft, to easily outrun should she not be sympathetic.

Here is the child as he steals out of the alley, sure he is not seen. You want to tell him to look more carefully, to see the man against the wall. But the child does not know what to look for. He ghosts behind the woman, slinks one grubby hand in her purse, withdraws a wallet fat with cash, and pockets it all in one smooth motion. Then he hurries ahead past her, as though catching up with someone. The woman clucks her head and briefly covers her nose as the child passes, but that is all. She never looks, she never suspects. The child turns into a side street and vanishes from her mind forever.

The child cannot believe his good fortune. There is so much money! He almost does not dare to count it with his grubby fingers. The child cannot help but gloat at the foolish other children, who steer away from such a cornucopia. He decides to lay low for an hour or two and find a new target in the plaza. A day or two like this and he can finally escape beyond the sand and make a new life.

Here is the shadow that falls over the child.

To you or I, the man casting the shadow would not seem that old. Mid-twenties, maybe even younger. He would not seem that big, either, with average height and musculature. This is not a big, important officer. This is someone on the bottom rung, forgotten, ignored, with no future. That is what we would see.

The child sees a titan. A great towering behemoth with a scowl of stone. The child considers running but discards the idea. This man knows the terrain better. The child is alone, with no other urchins to distract him. He is caught.

The child surrenders the wallet unprompted and babbles out an apology. He does not finish before the man’s boot takes him in the chin.

You want to turn away.

The child tastes blood and whimpers, trying to crawl away. The man steps on the child’s hand, holding him there with the pressure. The man is saying things. He tells the child that rats like him are a disease. That Phenac is the one jewel in all of Orre, that it cannot be despoiled by filth. The man removes his foot from the child’s hand and rears it up, kicking the child in the side. The force sends him tumbling. The child cringes as the man grabs a can of refuse and overturns it, dowsing the child in its contents. This isn’t as bad as the kicks, the child thinks. Trash is something he is used to.

The man holds the empty metal container for a few seconds as if considering bringing it down on the child, but he tosses it aside. He pulls back his coat, revealing the poke ball at his waist, and tells the child that if he ever sees him again, his Houndour will not be as gentle to the boy as he himself was. Then the man bends over, picks up the wallet, removes the money, and throws the rest of it into the trash. He turns and leaves, pocketing the cash.

It’s a few minutes before the boy can bring himself to move. There aren’t many people on the small side street and the few that pass do so on the other side of the road, pointedly not looking at the child. Eventually the child is able to rise to a lurching half-stand, despite the lancing agony in his side, and limps off, clutching his ribs.

You wish you could help the child. Take him to a doctor to get his ribs looked at. Give him a warm bed with clean sheets. Even just pat him on the head and tell him everything will be all right. But you can’t. The child has no one. He is no one. And that, more than anything, is the lesson he learned today.

The child finds a quiet alley and stays there for a day. And then another day. And a day after that. He can barely move but for the pain, but more than that, the child is ruled by fear. Fear of what the other children will do to him if they smell weakness. Fear of the looming officer, and the pain he deals. The child has eaten everything edible within arm’s reach (most of it garbage) and you want to tell him that he has to eat, that he can’t afford not to. He needs help.

And then, one morning, he gets it.

The boy wakes up, in that same quiet alley, to find two bundles of warmth near him. They are both small lumps of brown fur, both tiny and malnourished. One curls in his lap, the other at his side; they are male and female, the former younger and slightly smaller than the latter.

This is what it looks like when the boy sees pokemon up-close for the first time. He is taken by their soft fur, their long ears, their tiny claws. He feels a storm surge of love and affection towards them. He doesn’t know to call these newcomers “Eevee,” or why they are there with him. But when the one in his lap shuffles and yawns, he finds his hands petting it, and the Eevee reciprocates with a low purr.

The boy and the Eevee settle into a routine. One of the Eevee fetches food while the other stays with the boy. The Eevee that runs for food often comes back chased by other small pokemon, but the chasers trail away and hide when they see the boy. They split the food, the Eevee offering nourishment, the boy offering protection. Soon enough the pain in his side fades to a dull ache, and his strength returns—and the boy can walk again.

The other children, once so tough, melt away in fear at the child with two Eevee, for they know that tiny fangs can still pierce skin and find arteries. The Eevee are his, truly—the boy having returned to the loose brick where he hides his treasures as soon as he can walk again. Amidst the baubles and coins and feathers are two battered, dusty, chipped poke balls he once scrounged from the trash. He offered to them almost fearfully, and they accepted.

This is youth when it is filled with vigor and determination. The boy devises a new way to feed three mouths. He performs with the Eevee on street corners, doing tricks and gambols for coins. The male is much better at this than the female, who skulks half-heartedly and growls at anyone who tries to pet her, and eventually the male alone is the one who performs, while the female keeps an eye out for trouble. Whenever any officer or gang of street toughs looks like they might be coming near, she barks and the three vanish like the night before dawn.

The boy grows brave enough to visit richer parts of the city, though he never returns to the plaza. He gets some odd stares here and there, but as he (and you) know, simply owning pokemon is itself a major status symbol in as blighted a place as Orre; so long as the Eevee accompany him, he is tolerated in places where he might have once been shunned. Enough coins from these places earn him showers and better clothes—not nice, not new, but certainly better than the rags he was used to—and soon enough he is no longer an urchin.

This is the corner where he performs. See the sun rise to its zenith; see the people melt away under the heat. See the shop across the street, with its rows of televisions; see how at this time of day, when there is no one to perform for, the screens always show the same thing. See the silly cartoon superhero. See the boy taken by the idea that such justice could exist in the world, see the male Eevee fascinated by the sounds and colors. See the boy name the Eevee for his favorite hero, see the female sulk for going nameless, see the boy observe her longing gaze at the night sky, see him give her, too, a name.

See the moment when the boy gains a name of his own. Here is the shopkeeper’s son, an arrogant man who is tired of helping a withered old man sell junk. See him leave one day after a fight with his father. He does not come back. You might want to tell the boy to visit the shopkeeper, but there is no need—he picks up on the help the old man needs after seeing him struggle with a heavy box. The old man appreciates the boy’s help and admires the two handsome Eevee, and admits that he likes seeing the boy perform across the street. He offers the boy part-time work and the boy takes it. When the old man asks for a name, the boy—who has only ever been the boy—decides on Wes, from the west where he hopes to someday venture, and Sands, for the barrier that seems always to cage him in.

The old man lets Wes help him move boxes and unpack, and sleep in the unused storage room when he learns Wes has no home. Wes tells him of his dream and the old man helps him save money to someday visit a place that is not Orre.

But Wes, you wish you could say, nothing good can last forever.

The old man is old, after all, and less than a year from his son storming out, his health gives and he dies almost overnight. It’s barely a few days more when the son, returning to claim his father’s property, finds Wes in the storage closet. Squatter, he calls him, and thief, and manipulator of an innocent old man. With help from the law, the son has Wes thrown out, and everything in the storage closet—all the money, all the trinkets—are deemed property of the store and given to the son. And when Wes tries to protest, one of the officers—a man who does not seem quite so big, anymore—recognizes the adolescent as a known pickpocket and a thief. I told you to get out of town, he growls, and sends out his Houndour.

Here are the two Eevee who intercept the dog before it can reach Wes, and who send it away whimpering with scratches and cuts. And for a glorious moment, Wes feels triumphant.

But you cannot hurt the pokemon of an officer and get away with it. They chase him, and though he escapes, now all of them know his face. Here is Wes is trapped once more, unable to move in any street, at any time, without fear that someone will recognize him and come for him. He prays for salvation.

Be careful, you might tell him, for the things you ask.

Salvation comes in the form of an older kid with a lean smile. The kid says that he heard about Wes being a good battler, that he knows that Wes is on the run from the cops for nothing more than pickpocketing and defending himself. There is a place, the kid tells him, where people don’t need to live in fear. A place where people sit down in brotherhood and look out for each other. And he can take Wes there.

Scream all you like at Wes. Tell him how the Brotherhood will lure him in, how they will use him, prey on his indignation and his sense of injustice. Tell him how much they hurt and exploit people, how readily they turn on and discard their own. The abuses they inflict on pokemon, the misery they foment across the region. Shout it at him; he cannot hear you. He can only see the door, distant and chained shut all his life, finally beginning to open.

Will he have to earn his keep, he asks. Naturally, comes the reply, but it’s all fair, and it’s work he will enjoy. What about his pokemon? Can they be fed too? Of course—provided Wes is willing to work hard enough to cover for them.

Wes thinks back to himself in that alley, when he woke to find himself not alone for the first time. He will never leave them. He swears to work.

Wes leaves Phenac for the first time, experiencing the dark and dusty towns and pit stops of eastern Orre. He likes these places. They are honest; they have character. Eventually, in Eclo Canyon, he is brought to a sprawling building of scrap metal. In this place, he is welcomed like an old friend—no, not even like that. Like a brother. The people here listen to him, look after him, take care of him, feed him. They admire his sleight-of-hand, practiced on the streets, and his swiftness. They admire the natural ferocity and tenacity of his Eevee, and teach him how to channel that natural talent into something more focused through proper battling strategy. Both Wes and his pokemon are naturals, and are soon admired. The pokemon aren’t the only ones who learn how to fight—Wes, too, hones the edge he picked up living on his own, and the older he gets, the more dangerous he becomes.

Cap, exuberant and excited to grow, evolves almost instantly after arriving. Luna takes a little while, but she, too, eventually changes—at night, of course. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

Wes is proud to guard Eclo Canyon with his pokemon, or earn money in street battles in the web of towns in eastern Orre, but soon enough, the head of the Brotherhood, Gonzap, asks to speak to him. There is a job, he says, that Wes will probably enjoy. A way to strike back at the people who have hurt him. He pulls out a case, opens it to display a machine that locks over the arm like black armor.

When Wes hears the job, it feels like justice to him. He fawns over the machine, not seeing (as you might) the tight, almost predatory smile that plays around Gonzap’s lips.

And here is where the story reaches a place you know.

---

This was originally intended to be a brief opening to chapter 4. It ballooned into a chapter all its own. Well... I hope you like it nonetheless! It's much different from what I usually do, but I'm happy I experimented.
 

Trollkitten

Kitten of Lore
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
208
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
317
Location
Gatto Region
Nature
Quirky
Pronouns
She/her, Aetherai Lorekeeper
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Clever
Pokédex Entry
Autistic writer who starts more things than she finishes. Also a major Twitch Plays Pokemon lorewriter. Rather be a happy shill than an angry critic.
I love this story and everything about it. Introducing the story with Rui's kidnapping was a wise move; it means the audience finds out about Wes's history as she does, and reacts similarly.

You handled Wes as a character spectacularly. He's always been my favorite games protagonist (being the only one with actual backstory and personality), and I like the chapter you did on his backstory and how he came to be the way he is. The moral dilemma of Wes was also handled well; Wes regrets his past actions, but also understands how, at the time, they seemed like the right thing to do. It's the human condition, and you depicted it quite convincingly.
 
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Spectacles

Rule Maker
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
139
Caught
Jun 24, 2019
Messages
156
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
I am so glad the forums moved and gave me this great opportunity to catch up on this run again. I was keeping up with it very well in the beginning, but then I fell off the track around the point where Wes dies and never got around to catching up. Now I get the chance to fix that and follow this from the beginning again! I'm looking forward to seeing more of Cap, the sweetest soul there is 😍
 
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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
'here is the shadow that falls over the child' god this is such an ominous line and it really sets the tone for the whole extract honestly. there's just this feeling where you find something that's so seemingly simple and has so much packed into it that really makes one's day.

anyways hi I'm back! technically all caught up back in tapatown but I don't mind an excuse to re-read from the top - this feels a bit snazzier and more weighted than what I remember though but honestly a touch-up never killed anyone and I dig it, the extra polish goes a long way in practice. that said though the action is just as punchy and fast-moving as I remember and your descriptions / character beats are a pleasure as always.

anyways reading was a pleasure as always and I'll be cheerfully waiting until this catches up, and then beyond that.
 
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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.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #12
I love this story and everything about it. Introducing the story with Rui's kidnapping was a wise move; it means the audience finds out about Wes's history as she does, and reacts similarly.

You handled Wes as a character spectacularly. He's always been my favorite games protagonist (being the only one with actual backstory and personality), and I like the chapter you did on his backstory and how he came to be the way he is. The moral dilemma of Wes was also handled well; Wes regrets his past actions, but also understands how, at the time, they seemed like the right thing to do. It's the human condition, and you depicted it quite convincingly.
Thanks! I always liked the Colosseum cast and thought they were underutilized. An ex-gang member main character? A female lead who can see pokemon's souls? Why was more not done with this


I am so glad the forums moved and gave me this great opportunity to catch up on this run again. I was keeping up with it very well in the beginning, but then I fell off the track around the point where Wes dies and never got around to catching up. Now I get the chance to fix that and follow this from the beginning again! I'm looking forward to seeing more of Cap, the sweetest soul there is 😍
Thank you so much! I'm glad to have you back. And yes... Cap is a sweetie /)w(\


'here is the shadow that falls over the child' god this is such an ominous line and it really sets the tone for the whole extract honestly. there's just this feeling where you find something that's so seemingly simple and has so much packed into it that really makes one's day.

anyways hi I'm back! technically all caught up back in tapatown but I don't mind an excuse to re-read from the top - this feels a bit snazzier and more weighted than what I remember though but honestly a touch-up never killed anyone and I dig it, the extra polish goes a long way in practice. that said though the action is just as punchy and fast-moving as I remember and your descriptions / character beats are a pleasure as always.

anyways reading was a pleasure as always and I'll be cheerfully waiting until this catches up, and then beyond that.
Thanks! Glad to have you back. I was always proud of that line too. Also... I actually haven't retouched any of these chaps (or the ones for SfY or DD) at all, but thanks for thinking it's polished nonetheless, hehe



How could he be so stupid?

Wes grunted and splashed water on his face. There was a single, rather dingy sink in the small bathroom off Thoreau’s cellar. He sighed and looked at his face in the dirty mirror.

The man who looked back was tired, and he did not look ‘rough’ so much as haggard. Wes tried to tell himself that didn’t bother him. He only partially succeeded. Rui had seen him vulnerable. Arceus above, but she’d seen him crying. That was—

He shook his head. “No,” he told himself. “It’s okay. You’re not on the streets anymore, you don’t have to worry about her. She’s not a predator. Don’t get mad. It’s okay.”

He breathed heavily and slowly for a few seconds. The tension in his chest only partially faded. Wes could command himself all he wanted; these were behaviors he’d learned in alleys and on streets, and it would be hard—very, very hard—to fully unlearn them.

He waited a bit longer for it to die down more. It wasn’t fully gone, but it was enough. He stepped out of the bathroom.

Rui was looking distinctly uncomfortable in her new getup. For more maneuverability, she’d ditched her skirt and cardigan for more utilitarian clothes. The black cargo pants she wore—a mirror to his own—would be much better suited to scrambling through alleys or across desert sands, and her tee was barely visible beneath her canvas duster.

He almost blinked. Her canvas duster. Had he given it up so easily? He chided himself again. No. That sort of possessiveness was stupid.

“Thoreau come down while I was in there? Thought I heard someone,” he asked.

She nodded. “Yeah, he asked how we were doing. Wanted to make sure Luna was recovered from the paralysis.” At her name, the Umbreon yawned in the corner and stood up, stretching. “He says we’re welcome to come up, if we want.”

He considered it. “Well, there’s always the chance of being spotted… but what the hell, I’m sick of this cellar. Who wants food?”

Cap bounded up, yipping excitedly, and Wes grinned, burying his hand in the fur atop Cap’s head. Arceus above, but it was tough to stay depressed around the little guy.

Thoreau’s diner was run-down but warm, with a jukebox that only worked half the time and a smell of crispy hashbrowns that never fully went away. Wes loved it.

Thoreau brought Wes his favorite (poached eggs on toast, lightly peppered) and asked Rui what she wanted. When she meekly replied she would be fine with juice, the big man guffawed and said “one meaty omelet with toast, coming right up.”

“You’ll like it,” Wes said, smiling at her consternation. “His mom does all the cooking and she’s a wiz. Best diner fare in Orre.”

“That sounds like a particularly low bar to clear,” she fired back.

“Even so.”

Thoreau brought them their food and they began chowing down. As Wes suspected, once Rui picked at her omelet, she started shoveling it in—Mama T really know what she was doing.

When they were done, she leaned back in the diner booth, a pensive look on her face.

“What’s on your mind?” he asked.

“A lot of stuff,” she said. “My life was never interesting, and then overnight, all this crazy stuff starts happening. I find out I’m… p-psychic, for one thing.”

That’s right. Amidst the mania of Revy and her crew showing up yesterday, Wes had almost forgotten Rui’s self-realization. “There are worse things to be,” he said softly.

“I know.”

“I think it’s kinda cool. You can see aura and everything. What a great ability! People in Orre, we don’t look at psychics as freaks or dangers like other regions do. We see those powers as assets—a way for you to stand up for yourself and your friends.”

She smiled at him and sipped her juice. “You’re a nice guy, Wes.” And then her smile grew wan. “Which is… I mean…”

His stomach grew cold. He knew what she was referring to. “What we talked about last night?” he said softly.

“Yeah. It’s just… hard to wrap my head around it. I know they were bad, but to do what you did…”

He leaned back. How to explain it to her? “You know those guys who took you?” he said. She paled but nodded. “Well, imagine you knew for a fact that they did that sort of thing all the time. With predictable results. You knew exactly where they were going to be, but it didn’t matter. The police, the authorities, they wouldn’t move against them.” He traced a finger around the rim of his coffee mug. “Everyone was paid off or afraid. And they just kept taking girls, time and again, and there was no end in sight. But you knew where they were gonna be. Wouldn’t you feel tempted to do something?”

“…maybe,” Rui muttered, looking off to the side. “I don’t—I don’t know. Maybe. I just…”

Wes nodded. “I get you. It’s hard—it should be. Arceus knows it was hard for me.” He grabbed a slide of toast and bit into it with a crunch. “After it happened, and I was hiding in this place, Thoreau came down to check on me… man, I was sobbing and shaking.” He swallowed. It was hard to remember, and harder to share. “I had already been sick; I felt I was gonna be sick again. I was aghast at what I’d done. Thoreau, he calmed me down, and he told me something. ‘You think those guys were innocent?’ I knew they weren’t. ‘You ever hear, what goes around comes around?’ I said I had. Well, he just looked me dead in the eyes, and he said, ‘Sometimes, Wes, you are what comes around.’”

Rui drew the mantle of the duster tight around herself. “That’s… scary.”

“Yeah.” Wes polished off his toast. “I don’t know if I could do it again. I hope I’m never tested, and I sure hope you don’t have to go through anything like that. But what he said… it was enough. For now.”

Silence wound around them as customers filtered in and out of the diner, gradually winnowing out. Thoreau took their plates and kept their drinks refilled, but neither of them said anything. The sun had climbed high before Rui finally broke the spell.

“There’s… something I’m not telling you, Wes,” she said. He raised an eyebrow but elected to let her move into it, and took a pull of more coffee.

She sighed. “The aura thing… that’s not all I do. When your pokemon, and other pokemon, talk, I… I can u-understand what they’re saying. I hear them.”

Wes had chosen exactly the wrong moment to drink coffee. His plan was to set the cup down, process whatever information Rui would tell him, and proceed smoothly. Instead he sputtered, spraying it all over the table like a slob.

“I, uh…” he said lamely, setting the cup down and trying to play off what had just happened, even though he absolutely knew it was impossible, “I, uh… oh.”

Rui smirked and grabbed some napkins and started wiping the table clean.

“…sorry,” he muttered, and helped. “Rui,” he said when they were finished, “that’s incredible. Any psychic power is rare enough, but two? The chances have got to be—I don’t know the exact numbers, but in the tens, maybe even hundreds of thousands. Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Guess my mind’s still back in Kanto,” she said. “I’d be treated like a weirdo there for sure.”

“Man, screw Kanto,” Wes said off-handedly, and then winced. “I mean… I’m sure your home region is a nice place—”

She waved him off. “Don’t worry about it. But you believe me?”

“Course I do,” Wes said. “Don’t see a reason for you to lie, and besides, the way you talk to pokemon is… different from the way most people do.”

“Different how?” she asked.

“I dunno, just different,” he said. “I couldn’t put my finger on it. You just treated them different when you interacted with them.”

“Well darn,” she said coyly, “and I had the perfect proof ready to go.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah. Cap told me he’s actually named after his favorite superhero… and yours.”

Wes gagged a bit. Again! Why was she always doing this when he drank! He managed to keep the water inside his esophagus this time, though.

“So, big bad Snagger,” she teased, “wanna tell me all about that?”

“…was young,” Wes muttered. “Liked the show.”

“Mhmmmm.” She hummed with amusement. “Oh, and let’s not forget Luna. You named the pokemon that evolves at night… and in moonlight… after the moon.”

“…look.”

“No, it’s fine.”

“Listen to me.”

“We all have different talents,” she said. “Some people are good at defecting from criminal gangs, and others are good at naming things.”

---

The Snag Machine—there was something relatively simplistic about it, Rui thought, and yet somehow ominous.

It looked simple enough—a dark metal pauldron with orange rims that slipped over the shoulder, a matching mantle around the wrist that sloped over the hand like a tear-drop, and connecters between the two that mirrored folds of armor. And yet it allowed the user to steal pokemon from trainers—severing the bond to their poke balls forever, rendering them at the mercy of whatever criminal stole them away.

After discussion with Thoreau, Wes decided that it was best if he strapped it on. The Brotherhood was after him, and had found him easily enough yesterday—wearing it wouldn’t be much of a giveaway if they could find him that soon. And there was no better place, Thoreau had argued, for Wes to keep an eye on it than there.

They’d made their plans. Her ultimate goal was to head to Agate in the northwest; Wes was to go a bit farther than that, to Gateon. Both places were in the tiny smattering of green at the farthest edge of Orre, spots supposedly night and day compared to the desert around here.

“We’ll have to make stops all across the region,” he’d told her, charting their way on a creased map. “Make stops at oases and small towns. I’ve got a network, other people who turned on the Brotherhood…”

Now he was chatting up Thoreau inside the diner, the machine snug on his arm. Rui watched from outside, idly scratching Cap as his head rested in her lap.

“Hey Rui,” Luna intoned from nearby, “did you really mean what you said about my name earlier?”

“Hm?”

“You made fun of Wes for picking it. Is it a bad name?”

She rolled her eyes. “I was just needling your trainer, Luna, don’t worry. I think yours is a fine name.”

“Alright, good.” She rested her head on her paws. “At least I’m not named after a guy in purple spandex.”

Cap’s tail shifted from light twitching to thrashing, and Rui giggled. “Are you really so easy to tease, Cap?”

“A hero lets no one impugn his honor,” Cap replied grandiosely. “But I’ll let her get away with it… just this time.”

“I’m surprised either of you care,” Rui said with a smile, “considering that your uncle was named Orange of all things.”

Luna chuffed and buried her head in her paws even further, but Cap lit up. “Oh, he’s the best! Wanna hear more about him? This one time, he fought off this great big—”

But Rui stopped listening. A vehicle had pulled up to the diner, and stepping out of it…

Her mouth went dry. It couldn’t be. No. No.

They emerged, as fresh in in the light as they were in the dark places in her soul. Both blond, both short but muscular. One wearing orange shades, the other with a loose beanie. Beanie nudged Shades and gestured to her, and both snickered.

“Hey chickadee,” said Shades. “How’s it hangin’?”

Rui tried to swallow but there was nothing. Her hands felt clammy and she realized they were trembling. She pictured herself running away, far away, but her legs felt like they couldn’t move…

Weight left her lap as Cap prowled towards the two, his fangs bared in a snarl. Luna, looking similarly incensed, nudged at Rui’s back, forcing her to her feet. With Rui leaning on her for support, Luna let out a high, baleful howl—one which drew Wes from inside the diner.

“Well looky here, Trudly,” said Shades. There was a wild smile on his face, and on Beanie’s face too—the sort of vicious, predatory smile the bullying nanny wore when she caught the child misbehaving. There was nothing kind or friendly about those two faces. “Here comes ol’ goody two-shoes himself.”

“We were chewed out something nasty, Folly and I were,” said Beanie (Trudly?). “For letting the chickadee go free. Then the Brotherhood posts a bounty on a rogue member, and if the description of him and his companion don’t just sound familiar! So we figure—revenge? Clear our names with the boss? Get the bounty while we’re at it? Sounds like a win-win-win for us.”

Wes folded his arms. Without the duster, the lean muscles on his frame stood out. “I kicked your asses once,” he said. “You really think I won’t do it a second time?”

The guy with the shades—Folly?—smirked even tighter. “Yeah, y’did. Course… we didn’t have our full teams. Or our secret weapon.”

With a spray of light, they released their pokemon. There was a wild-looking Whismur, a savage Ninjask, a wicked Persian, a sturdy-looking Aron… and the one that had gotten her into trouble in the first place.

Her breath caught. Even now, barely looking at it, she could see tiny plumes of darkness rising off of it like steam. The Makuhita was cold-eyed and carried itself with a raw manner that suggested it was a breath away from exploding into violence. Back in the illicit battle ring where this had all began, it had brutalized its opponent into submission, and then kept hitting it—and had even gone after the opposing trainer unheeded. The other four pokemon carried themselves carefully around it.

“Here’s the battle plan,” Trudly snarled. “Kill the Snagger and his pokemon for the bounty. Then take the chick.”

The words were like a lance to her. No. Take her? Again? She wouldn’t go back. She wouldn’t. She—!

The pokemon exploded into action. The Makuhita barreled right at Cap, and in response, Luna raced after him, leaving Rui to stand shakily alone. The Espeon smirked and unleashed a torrent of psychic power at his aggressor. The Makuhita took the beam and kept going. Cap’s face had just enough time to register astonishment before the pokemon was on him.

The Makuhita pummeled him mercilessly, swinging again and again with round fists. Cap took the abuse with gritted teeth. Sure, he was resistant, but Espeon were not notorious for their sturdiness.

Luna swept forward to help her brother but was harried by the Ninjask, its scythe-like arms swinging this way and that, almost too fast to move. She darted too far to the side and the tiny Aron barreled right into her. Luna was sent rolling back, grunting, as the pokemon advanced on her.

The Persian and Whismur hung back. Rui had just enough time to gape before the Whismur began inhaling. Trudly and Folly both smirked and inserted small earplugs.

When the Whismur screamed, it was like standing next to a speaker at a rock concert. The sound was so deafening that Rui’s ears felt they were going to explode. Wes sunk to his knees, clutching his hands about his ears. Cap and Luna both staggered, Luna whining, and even the pokemon harassing Luna took pause. The Makuhita wailed and then began pummeling Cap with even more fury. And on the diner, all of the storefront windows shattered, glass crumbling down onto the dirt.

But the Persian was prepared. Once the ear-splitting cry was gone, it bolted straight at Wes, claws extended.

And that’s when Thoreau leapt through the broken windows of his diner. The first shotgun blast missed, but succeeded in diverting the cat’s attention. The second took the Persian right in its shoulder mid-leap, but the cat still fell onto him, scrabbling with all his might. Thoreau was able to beat it off with the gun and it slunk away, wounded and hissing.

“Go… inside,” Wes panted, forcing himself to stand. “Hide yourself.”

“You think I’m just going to watch these guys attack you?”

“Gun’s broke,” Wes observed. Indeed it was—the barrel was bent, probably from the clubbing it had been used for. “Even you can’t fight a pokemon on your own. Get moving.” He nodded at Rui. “Take her.”

Thoreau nodded and ran to grab her. Rui’s legs felt like jelly, her ears still burned, but with his help, she was able to move away from the battle.

The two pokemon had hemmed in Luna, Cap had knocked back the Makuhita again (but looked badly beaten up; another attack or two and he’d be down for sure) and the Whismur—

It was lining up with her and Thoreau, mouth opening to attack.

“Get down!” she shouted, and she pushed Thoreau to the ground. A compact burst of sound smashed overhead, making her ears ring anew. It blasted more debris off the front of the diner.

Rui rolled off Thoreau, shaking him, but the fall had knocked him dizzy. The Whismur was still moving towards her, Luna and Cap were tied up and Wes had his hands full directing them. She was helpless.

—helpless and alone in the trunk, powerless, borne at the whims of others—

No. She would not be like that again, not ever. She would fight, even in the face of her personal nightmares—she’d fight!

Snatching a loose plank of wood off the ground, she charged the Whismur, screaming. The pokemon staggered back in obvious surprise, and what might have been fear—smaller, unevolved pokemon, despite high potential for mayhem, were more fragile than they appeared. An adult human could hurt or even seriously maim them.

She swung again, and again, missing both times, the Whismur skirting back. It opened its mouth to blast her but she kicked sand in its face. While it scrabbled at its eyes, she landed a blow from the plank. The Whismur squealed in pain and shot her a look of hatred. It jumped at her, spooking her into dropping the plank. Jumping onto the plank, it smirked and gathered in breath.

Just as Rui had been waiting for. At the last second before it released another controlled sonic blast, she dived to the side. The blast soared by, passing through the spot she’d been in, and bulldozed its way into the Ninjask behind her.

The sensitive Bug-type faltered, squealed, and then plummeted to the dust, unconscious. The lack of pressure was all Luna needed to turn the tables on the Aron, who quickly fell to her assault. Turning her eyes to the Whismur, Dark-type energy trailing from her maw like obsidian mist, Luna rushed the small pokemon and shook him like a toy before letting him drop unceremoniously to the desert.

“Help your brother,” Rui told her, “but be careful. That pokemon, there’s something wrong with it. It’s savage.”

Luna nodded and rushed off, smashing the Makuhita in the back. When the Fighting-type reeled, Cap took the moment to pounce, and he was buried beneath the two Eeveelutions.

But Rui’s smile at their victory didn’t last long. With herculean strength, the enraged pokemon burst out from under them, sending them both flying. Poor Cap skipped across the ground and fell into unconsciousness, and Luna scrabbled back as the newcomer advanced on her.

How was it still fighting? It actually didn’t seem to be more resilient than another of its species; bruises and scrapes peppered its body, and its advance was sluggish, halted by pain. More of the dark tendrils wound around it, coiling like serpents. Was it somehow just ignoring the pain? Was violence so important to it?

From the corner of her eye, she saw Wes tense with movement to rush it. “No!” she cried. “It’ll destroy you!”

“You… fought the Whismur,” he forced out. He partially cradled his head—the Whismur’s initial scream had really done one on him.

She shook her head. “That’s different. That pokemon, it’s not like this one.”

Folly, the one with shades, grinned. “That’s right, chickadee. This here’s what our boss calls a ‘shadow pokemon.’ Made to be the perfect fighting machine. Only given to the best!”

His friend smacked him upside the head. “What are you doing blabbing everything for?”

Folly scowled, rubbing the side of his cheek. “What? Those pokemon are on the ropes, and after that, the Snagger’s dead meat. And we’re taking the girl to the boss—who’s she gonna blab to?”

Rui swallowed. “What’s your boss want with me?”

Trudly leered at her. “Dunno. Probably not the same thing we want, though, chickadee.”

Her palms started sweating. She couldn’t fight this creature on her own as she had the Whismur. Neither could Wes. The gun was broken. Cap was down for the count, and Luna was on the losing end of a type matchup, even beyond this ‘shadow’ pokemon’s uncharacteristic savagery. There was nothing she could do.

More darkness flickered around the Makuhita. It was almost to Luna now. She realized that the darkness was only a tiny bit—something under the surface. No, there was something she could do. She just had to admit that she could.

“I’m not a freak,” she muttered to herself. “I’m—I’m not.” The power—Aura—coursed within her, begging her to use it. Luna cowered underneath the Makuhita. It was now or never. “This is… who I am.”

And, for the first time, she opened herself to Aura.

It was like a child with bad vision wearing glasses for the first time. One moment she saw the world, and the next, everything was a tableau of light and power. She saw the aura surrounding them all—Wes’s was a soft grey-ish blue, as was Luna’s; Cap’s was a vibrant gold. She glanced down at her hand to find it ringed in emerald green. Even Trudly and Folly had ashy red auras. All of them were healthy; yes, even the criminals’. They were evil men, but their Aura—their being, she was coming to realize—was complete and untouched.

But the Makuhita’s aura was not a coat of color that clung to it. It was a storming tempest of deep black, purple, and red that crashed off the creature, billowing like ink in water. And beneath the pokemon’s ruthless exterior she was able to perceive a sense of sorrow, of hopelessness, a wounded desperation that hated what it had become. It cried out to her in solace, and she found herself wishing she could help.

And like a thunderclap, it struck her. She couldn’t… but Wes could.

She closed herself to Aura, the sensation surprisingly difficult, like forcing a stubborn door. When it was gone, the world returned to normal except for the tiny leakages of darkness surrounding the Makuhita. His aura was so stained, she realized, that she could still perceive scraps of it even now—like the way the sun still seemed bright if you looked at it with your eyes closed.

“Wes,” she cried out, “use the machine! Snag him!”

He looked at her. “What do you mean.”

The creature was on Luna. She had darted from his blows but she was tiring; the earlier punishment she’d endured from the two-on-one fight had caught up with her. The Makuhita was a juggernaut; it would not break first.

“Snag it! Then it won’t attack.”

He shook his head. “That’s not the way Snagging works—the pokemon are still loyal to their original trainers. They’ll fight any orders I give them.”

“I saw his aura, Wes!” The remembrance of that horrible wound on the pokemon’s being made her hate her former captors even more. How dare they? How dare they? “He hates what he is, he hates his masters—give him an excuse to turn and he will. They made him into a weapon, but a weapon depends on the hand holding it.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Folly demanded. “Forget it, girlie, the pokemon aren’t coming to save you. I’ll grab you right now!” He stomped towards her.

Rui backed away, eyes searching for some sort of makeshift weapon to fight him off. “Wes, this is our chance. Please!”

Wes growled, pulled out a poke ball, and brushed the inside of the machine on his arm. The orange bits briefly glowed, and then he chucked the ball at the Makuhita. The ball hit and—and the Makuhita went inside.

Folly stopped in his place, his eyes bugging. “What?!”

“That bounty,” Trudly said, shifting his feet nervously, “didn’t they say he had a Snag Machine?”

The ball clicked and then flashed open. The Makuhita stood there again, blinking.

“Don’t just stand there!” Trudly demanded. “Finish the Umbreon, then kill the Espeon and their trainer!”

“I’m your trainer now!” Wes said, holding up the ball for the Makuhita to see it. “Do you understand me? You don’t have to listen to them anymore. Do you hear?”

The Makuhita turned to him and, after a second that seemed to stretch like a minute, slowly nodded. It—no, Rui realized, he—lowered its hands.

Trudly swore and pulled out a Great Ball. He aimed it at the Makuhita and nothing happened. He stared at it with an ashen face.

“Oh, hell,” he muttered, his voice weak…

As Luna limped over to nudge her brother to his feet, the Makuhita faced his former trainers.

“Were they nice to you?” Wes asked. The Makuhita shook his head slowly. Trudly and Folly hastily recalled their fallen pokemon; it didn’t work on the Persian. Thoreau’s shotgun had killed it. “Do you want to pay them back?” The Makuhita nodded.

“Run, dude!” Trudly screamed. They both bolted for their car.

“You have my permission.”

The Makuhita roared and hurried after them, moving more swiftly than his stubby little legs could handle. The two men jumped into the car and got it started just as the pokemon reached them. He slammed his fist into the driver’s door, denting it, before ripping it off the chassis. Trudly and Folly managed to back away, sending the Fighting-type tumbling onto his back. The car sped away.

Wes collapsed in relief. “I can’t believe… we actually survived that. That thing is unstoppable.

“‘Thing’? He’s right here,” Rui said softly. Her footing was still unsure, but she wandered over to the Makuhita. He was sitting in the dirt, staring at his hands.

“No… more,” he was saying. “I’m free… no more.” He clenched his fists. “Then why does it…?”

The darkness spooled off of him in little wisps. Whatever had been done to him, it would not be so easily irreversible.

Rui laid her hand on his shoulder. “Hey,” she said. He flinched and turned to her, raising his hands.

“It’s okay,” she said, backing off. She spread her hands in a placating gesture. “They used you as a fighting machine, but you don’t have to be one anymore. You’re with us now.”

“I know,” he said. “But I still… want to.”

Meanwhile, behind them, Thoreau raised himself from unconsciousness, mumbling. He took in the scene.

“Hey,” Wes said with a loose wave. “We beat them. Also, I Snagged the crazy Makuhita.”

“Uh-huh. Cool.” Thoreau’s eye turned to his ruined building. “You owe me one diner, friend.”

“Put it on my tab.”

Thoreau smiled and looked like he hated it. “You know, Wes? You’re the worst. Like, actually the worst.”

---

We finally get our first shadow pokemon! I'll tell you more about him next chapter. I know things have kind of taken a while to get rolling, but we're finally getting the story properly underway. I can't wait for more.
 

Spectacles

Rule Maker
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
139
Caught
Jun 24, 2019
Messages
156
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
I love the human vs Pokemon aspects of this chapter. That was a concept I had in mind for a storylocke of my own Colosseum run that I'll probably never write lol. I also love the way you wrote Rui's aura vision being awakened. I forgot that Wes and Luna had the same colors going on. That's an interesting thing to think about.
 
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Trollkitten

Kitten of Lore
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
208
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
317
Location
Gatto Region
Nature
Quirky
Pronouns
She/her, Aetherai Lorekeeper
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Clever
Pokédex Entry
Autistic writer who starts more things than she finishes. Also a major Twitch Plays Pokemon lorewriter. Rather be a happy shill than an angry critic.
This chapter was awesome. The dialogue between Wes and Rui, who are both coming to terms with who they are in light of recent events. The battle between the heroes and the thugs, including human-versus-Pokemon action. Wes's very first snagging, and the Shadow Pokemon finally getting to prove that what goes around really does come around.

And then this brilliant ending:

“Uh-huh. Cool.” Thoreau’s eye turned to his ruined building. “You owe me one diner, friend.”

“Put it on my tab.”

Thoreau smiled and looked like he hated it. “You know, Wes? You’re the worst. Like, actually the worst.”

Also, I forgot to mention this in my last reply, but I like how Wes gets his nose bandage. No good deed goes unpunished. Glad to see he took it in stride, though.
 
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Bowser's Family Vacation

Well-known member
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
537
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?"
I love how the narration here sets us, the reader, up as the equivalent of the person watching a famous disastrous sports game. You know what's going to happen because it's so obvious to you, but... The child is not you.

I hope Wes finds that dude and beats him up. That Houndour would be no match for Luna and Cap!

(also baby luna and cap are the most precious things in the world oh my god) Also, bless the old man. I bet he played a big part in Wes keeping his faith in people in general.
Oh, Cap, what would we do without you, you sadness-chasing-away ball of fluff? <3 Probably spill our drinks all over ourselves. Sorry, Wes.

I always thought Trudly and Folly were ridiculous names. Your Orre, though, makes even those with the silliest names decidedly not silly. And that's an accomplishment because there are some bad names in Orre.

Yeah, show them that you'll never be so helpless again, Rui! Get wrecked, Whismur!

I love how Rui and Wes could only save Makuhita together, Rui recognizing his potential for redemption and Wes using the Snag Machine. Welcome to this wild ride, Makuhita!
 
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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.
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WHOOPS--I was busy traveling on Sunday and forgot to upload a chapter! My bad! Don't worry, our update schedule resumes now~

In addition, I figure I could take this time to explain the terminology of how Aura works in this run! Specifically, you might find the word both capitalized and uncapitalized. This is dependent on whether one is talking about the concept of Aura (which is capitalized) or one's own specific aura (which is not.) So, for instance, you would say that "Rui opened herself to Aura to look at Luna's aura" and that would all be capitalized correctly.

I love the human vs Pokemon aspects of this chapter. That was a concept I had in mind for a storylocke of my own Colosseum run that I'll probably never write lol. I also love the way you wrote Rui's aura vision being awakened. I forgot that Wes and Luna had the same colors going on. That's an interesting thing to think about.
Thanks! I can't claim full credit for the pokemon-on-human violence; that's something that's canon to Colo itself. As for the Aura awakening, I was pretty glad with that myself, hehe c:


This chapter was awesome. The dialogue between Wes and Rui, who are both coming to terms with who they are in light of recent events. The battle between the heroes and the thugs, including human-versus-Pokemon action. Wes's very first snagging, and the Shadow Pokemon finally getting to prove that what goes around really does come around.

And then this brilliant ending:

“Uh-huh. Cool.” Thoreau’s eye turned to his ruined building. “You owe me one diner, friend.”

“Put it on my tab.”

Thoreau smiled and looked like he hated it. “You know, Wes? You’re the worst. Like, actually the worst.”

Also, I forgot to mention this in my last reply, but I like how Wes gets his nose bandage. No good deed goes unpunished. Glad to see he took it in stride, though.
Yeah, the concept of "what goes around comes around" is big in this fic. Glad you liked the chapter! \o/ And the ending... hehe


I love how the narration here sets us, the reader, up as the equivalent of the person watching a famous disastrous sports game. You know what's going to happen because it's so obvious to you, but... The child is not you.

I hope Wes finds that dude and beats him up. That Houndour would be no match for Luna and Cap!

(also baby luna and cap are the most precious things in the world oh my god) Also, bless the old man. I bet he played a big part in Wes keeping his faith in people in general.
Oh, Cap, what would we do without you, you sadness-chasing-away ball of fluff? <3 Probably spill our drinks all over ourselves. Sorry, Wes.

I always thought Trudly and Folly were ridiculous names. Your Orre, though, makes even those with the silliest names decidedly not silly. And that's an accomplishment because there are some bad names in Orre.

Yeah, show them that you'll never be so helpless again, Rui! Get wrecked, Whismur!

I love how Rui and Wes could only save Makuhita together, Rui recognizing his potential for redemption and Wes using the Snag Machine. Welcome to this wild ride, Makuhita!
Thanks for your liveblogs again! I live for stuff like these. And yes... baby Eevee are best Eevee.


You’ve no doubt heard. The so-called ‘Brotherhood’ is no more.

Troublesome, but not the tremendous setback some are claiming. Their main purpose was funneling pokemon to us, which they performed admirably. To be frank, Gonzap was a little too ambitious for his own good. Perhaps it was for the best he was taken down before he became a problem.

I’ve heard some say we should move against the bomber, but I believe the remnants of the Brotherhood are taking steps to bring down the assailant. Let them handle it. Doing it ourselves would just risk unnecessary visibility.

I believe the most pertinent issue is finding someone to run the material we were going to trust to Gonzap. With some apprehension, I recommend Miror B. He too is ambitious, but not as suicidally so as Gonzap. So long as he is handled with caution, I believe he can be trusted to fill the void they left.

Awaiting your response.

—Shadow Pokemon Lab
Chief Ein


---

Luna watched her brother frolic around, giggling. Cap hardly seemed to notice the small scrapes that still peppered his body even days after the beatdown he’d taken from a mysterious, powerful pokemon—nor did he seem to mind that said pokemon was the one he was trying to incite into play. Tama shuffled along awkwardly, clearly uncertain but indulging her brother.

Luna scowled. Tama. That was his name now. After Snagging him, Wes had decided that whatever old name he’d been given by those lowlife trainers wouldn’t suit him. But after wracking his brian, he’d probed Rui for advice.

The redhead had squatted down in front of the newcomer, wearing a big smile. “Tama,” she said, “is a word from my native language—Kanto. You ever heard of Kanto?” At that, the Makuhita had shaken his head, slowly. “Well, it’s a pretty nice place. Maybe you can go there sometime!”

She always was cheerful and pleasant around him in a way that Luna thought reeked of forcedness. Rui had tried to explain to her and Cap about the things she saw around Tama’s Aura: “His Aura is really hurt. Whatever happened to him, it’ll take a lot of time to recover. So please, be nice to him. It’ll help.”

Cap had nodded and taken to the advice, and within an hour, he was trying to make friends with the Fighting-type—something even Tama himself had seemed shocked at. “But I hurt you,” he said. He didn’t pause every other word as he once had, but he was still quite taciturn. “And tried to kill you.”

“That was your trainers,” Cap had replied, his tail swishing back and forth. “They’re them, and you’re you! Now, come and play?”

Luna shook her head. Her brother could be so trusting and friendly. It was his biggest strength but also his weakness. Well, Luna wasn’t like that. The creature had tried to kill them and she wouldn’t forgive it for a while.

“Now then,” Rui had continued while giving Tama his name, “the word ‘tama’ can actually mean many different things.” She sketched a complex character in the sand. “This symbol is tama, and it means bullet.”

He had nodded. “Because I am a weapon.” He didn’t sound too pleased, but he also wasn’t challenging her.

She shook her head. “No. That’s what they wanted you to be, Tama. But you’re not.” She dashed the character from the sand and sketched a far simpler one. “This is your name. It also is pronounced ‘tama,’ but it has a different meaning.” He gazed at it with interest. “It means something round, like a ball—which kind of fits you, doesn’t it?” She poked his pudge teasingly. Perhaps Rui hadn’t noticed, but Luna had—he’d tensed, fiercely and violently, for less than a second before forcing himself to relax.

Rui continued smiling at him. “It also means ‘jewel.’ Because that’s what you are—you’re not a bullet, or a weapon. You’re something precious. Do you like that name?”

Tama had nodded again, more enthusiastically this time. Rui had hugged him—again, Luna noticed the momentary but almost visceral tension—and then sent him off to play with an enthusiastic Cap, who’d bounded around barking “Tama! Tama!” at the top of his voice.

Even now, remembering that, Luna chuffed.

He really did seem to want to get along with them, and he indulged Cap’s overtures of friendship, if awkwardly so. But Luna remembered her beatdown at his hands too well. He probably would have killed her if Rui hadn’t had that moment of insight.

Around them, the night breeze pulsed. Wes and Rui were holed up in an ex-Brotherhood member’s place, a man who had helped Wes with his plan. Tomorrow they would return to Phenac, a brief stop along their journey to the northwest. Luna stretched and stood. She had words for the newcomer.

Cap was stacking large forts of twigs and pebbles with his psychic power and then demolishing them, laughing. Mimicking him, Tama was stacking three or four large blocks into a squat structure and kicking it over.

Time to put on her no-nonsense, big-sister-in-charge voice. “Tomorrow we’ll be heading to Phenac City,” she said, “so we need to talk about a few things.”

“Can we talk about how awesome I was in that last battle?” Cap said, demolishing another construction. “Cause I totally owned it.” He grinned at Tama. “But you didn’t do too bad yourself, Tama!”

“Actually, that’s what I’m here to talk about,” Luna said sharply. “The past few days more criminals have been after us, hunting the Brotherhood’s bounty. None of them have been tough, but Tama—you’re attacked them with unbridled ferocity.”

“Aw, c’mon, sis, he’s not—” Cap began protesting. Luna quashed him with an iron gaze.

“The way you’re fighting is not acceptable,” Luna said, staring down the Makuhita. He stared back with that same flat gaze as always. “I thought you didn’t want to just be a weapon. Do you enjoy violence?”

“…yes.”

She blinked. “Excuse me?”

“I know I shouldn’t, but I… want to hurt things.” His voice was very flat and unemotive, which chilled her. “It makes me happy.”

“Happy? It sounds like you don’t want to change.”

“C’mon, Luna,” Cap said, jumping in to play peacemaker again. “He’s trying. It’s like Uncle Orange used to say—”

Luna shot him a look of pure venom. “Oh? What did he used to say? Well? Go on!”

Cap fell back, abashed, his ears flat against his head. “That… you know… we should have second chances and stuff…” He trailed off.

She directed her gaze back to Tama. “You’ve been friendly to my brother and you behave yourself around Wes and Rui. That’s good. But you need to change the way you act in battle, not just out of it.” And she turned and trotted away.

She heard Cap approach Tama. “Sorry she’s so mean to you,” her brother said.

“Mean?” Tama replied, with the barest undercurrent of what might have been surprise. “No. I have experienced worse.”

Cap let out a shocked and horrified gasp and Luna checked over her shoulder. Tama had lifted his right arm over his head, exposing the underside—and revealing the long, angry, ropy red scar that traced along it like a worm.

A brief but momentary twinge of regret plucked at her heart. It didn’t excuse his behavior, but that looked bad… Arceus. What had they done to him?

---

“He has to believe us now,” Rui argued. “Tama’s indisputable proof that I was telling the truth. And once he knows that shadow pokemon are real, then…”

“Then what?” Wes replied flatly. He was brooding over a cup of coffee that Ximena had made for him. For their one night back in town, they’d returned to their friend, who was now fretting and fussing something fierce. “He goes to the authority? But there’s no higher authority in Orre. Mayors are basically all there is. There’s no Pokemon League, no Champion, no Gyms—not even a governor. The mayors convene a council whenever there’s an issue of potential national security, like a war, but that hasn’t happened in ages… who would want to go to war with us anyway? What are they going to invade us for, our sand?”

“El está en lo cierto, sabes,” Ximena said, bustling Rui another snack. “After we threw off the Unovan yoke, we decided we did not like their model of a Champion who can make any law he pleases. So we elected to not include any, you see?”

“That’s crazy!” Rui protested. “What if someone does invade? What if… I don’t know, Unova decides to take you back, or something.”

Ximena laughed. “Over one-hundred-and-fifty years later? No, it will not happen. Besides, the land itself defends us better than any army. Ella es inhóspita, yeah? No one could both hold ground and fight us.”

“Which is not to say there aren’t real weaknesses,” Wes muttered. “That’s why the Brotherhood was able to grow so strong in the East, and why Miror B rules Pyrite in all but name. And they’re just the most recent examples. Gangsters that grow big enough are basically untouchable, and most of Orresian history is them fighting for control behind the scenes.”

Ximena plopped down next to them. “We are lucky they fight. Imagine if they got along? They could run the whole region openly.”

Wes said nothing, but Rui saw the harsh light in his eyes. That was the very reason he had done what he did.

“Still,” she said, pushing it. “Phenac’s the biggest and most prosperous city in the region. The mayor has to have some pull. We need to at least make people aware that there are more pokemon like Tama out there.”

After his Snagging, Tama had told them terrible things—that there was a “white building, full of fear” that manufactured pokemon like him—took innocent pokemon and subjected them to terrible, awful things until they broke. “It’s different for each pokemon. They find what you hate and fear and do it to you, over and over. But that’s not the worst. After they break you, they take you to this place. A horrible, dark place that gnaws on your soul. I felt myself losing pieces…”

When they emerged, they were like him. Shadow pokemon.

“Tama’s one of many,” she argued. “We need to protect people. And we need to stop what is happening. I told you what he told me.” Tama had not shared too many details of the ‘white building.’ His recollection was fragmented, and wading through what memories of that time remained was difficult for him. But what he had shared was… harrowing.

“We don’t know anything about them,” Wes said. “No name, no plans, nothing but humans in white clothes and a white building doing terrible things to pokemon.”

“It’s a start,” Rui said. “And the mayor can help us. This city is beautiful, Wes, and it’s his. He’s our best bet.”

Wes’s face tightened. “Phenac isn’t as lovely as you think. There’s a lot of ugliness here… it just knows how to hide itself.”

A phone chirped from the other room and Ximena stood up, cursing as she left. When she was gone, Rui checked over her shoulder and leaned in to whisper to Wes. “You made a move against the Brotherhood, and everyone thought they were invincible. And then, in a day, their leadership was gone and their rank-and-file scattered—because of one person. You’ve already proven you can make a difference. You said you were motivated to stop because of how scared and miserable the Snagged pokemon were. I know you can’t see Aura, but just look at Tama. Can’t you see he suffered? Don’t those pokemon deserve your help too?”

Wes sighed, closed his eyes, and drummed his fingers on the table. “Alright. But one condition. We don’t set up an appointment—we just show up.”

“Why?”

“Last time I was there, I didn’t get a good vibe from the guy. I think he knew I was Brotherhood, or at least a criminal.”

“He didn’t move to arrest you, if that’s the case.”

“I know. And that’s what’s worrying.” He leaned back. “So we’ll go. But I don’t want anyone to have a chance of knowing where we’ll be beforehand.”

Rui grimaced. It wasn’t ideal, but…

“Deal.”

---

The light was wan when they left Ximena’s apartment the following morning. Wes’s plan was to engage the mayor when he was on his way in the building. This was perhaps the only time of day when Rui found Orre to be anything close to bearable. She strode along, keeping her hands in her duster’s pockets and keeping close to the brisk pace that Wes and the two Eeveelutions were setting.

The mayor had been obstinate last time, but with Tama to help, there was no way he could deny her now. And Rui was certain he had help to give them, regardless of what Wes had to say. Besides, there was her secret weapon—she knew for a fact that another mayor within Orre would be willing to lend assistance.

Wes thrust his arm out in front of her and she barely avoided stumbling into it. “Hold on,” he muttered.

“What is it?”

“Look.”

Further down the road was a trio of loutish-looking young men in ragged clothing, obviously sizing them up. Memories of kidnappers made her tense, but Rui forced herself to stay calm. “We beat Trudly and Folly,” she said, keeping her voice low. “And all the riffraff who’ve come after your bounty after them, who were all pathetic. Those guys aren’t a match for you, and I bet they can tell. Let’s just move past them. City Hall is just a few blocks away!”

Wes shook his head. “I don’t want to take chances. Let’s backtrack a bit and go one street over. We won’t lose that much time.”

Rui grumbled but followed him. It was strange—normally she would expect a lot of milling people, but in the early light of pre-dawn, the streets were almost deserted. It made seeing the loiterers so suddenly somewhat unnerving.

They moved one street over, and started heading down. But before long, more toughs melted out from in between buildings. They were a loose association of troublemakers, in dirty clothing they thought made them look threatening—a piercing here, heavy jeans there. Each person had at least one pokeball, which was surprising in Orre.

Rui tensed and turned around, and the original trio they’d seen emerged. The ruffians had them boxed in.

“Can’t believe it,” one of them crooned. “Just minding our own business at the end of the night and the guy on the Brotherhood’s bounty comes out of nowhere. Like an act of the gods.” He grinned at Wes. “No offense, dude, but there’s a lot riding on your head.”

“Ever think there might be a reason for that?” With a flash, Wes released Tama. The Makuhita shook lingering slumber from his eyes and took a battle stance. Rui tried not to eye how the wisps of darkness that always trailed off of him surged more frequently when he suspected he would be called on to fight. She had not opened herself to Aura since that day.

“Strange, isn’t it,” Wes continued. “The Brotherhood wants someone dead, but isn’t taking care of it themselves. Should tell you a lot about the person they’re going for.”

The gang of toughs wilted a little bit, but the energetic fellow from before just reddened with anger. “Hate guys who think they’re hot shit,” he growled. “You can’t take us all on!”

And they released their pokemon.

“I hate this town,” Wes growled, and ordered his own to the attack.

Cap immediately leapt into action, launching a salvo of psychic energy at the trio of pokemon behind them. The unlucky pokemon—a Smeargle and two Cacnea—were scattered, and he jumped after them, chortling.

“Three on one’s not fair,” he teased. “You poor guys, you’ll need five at least. Six even!”

Ahead of them, a Sandslash crept low, darting strait towards them, blades extended. Tama roared and lunged, taking the full brunt of the enemy’s slash before grabbing it and pummeling it into the dirt. Arceus above, but it was unnerving to watch him fight. He was so flat and withdrawn, until he came to battle. Then he became a berserker.

Luna leapt right over the two scrapping pokemon and took another one—a Geodude—with her maw. Dark-type energy spooled from it in waves, and the rocky pokemon’s hide was of no use.

Cap had three, and Tama and Luna had two each. That left one—

A shadow fell overhead, accompanied by beating wings. A Pidgeot swooped down on them, screeching, its talons fully extended.

With a cry, Tama hurled the Sandslash at it. The Ground-type smacked it off its path, and as it tumbled low, Tama leapt up higher than Rui would have suspected he could and grabbed its foot. The added weight sent the bird plummeting. When it smacked into the road, he scrabbled over it, landing pummeling blows over and over again. The Sandslash smashed into the pavement, fainting instantly.

The battle was already going their way, and Rui couldn’t help but smirk. The toughs were cowering, some of them ducking back in between buildings. The bravado had fallen. Behind her, Cap was chasing the other three and their pokemon down a lonely alley.

The sound of stone crashed over the street. The Geodude had shaken off Luna and was beating her back with a flurry of rocks. She took a glancing hit to the shoulder and snarled, looking back at Tama. “Swap!” she said.

At her command, he jumped off the Pidgeot and ran to the Geodude, shrugging off panicked Rock-type attacks. He barreled his shoulder into it and then, pinning it to the ground, started smashing it, again, and again, and again.

“It’s fainted,” Rui realized. Tama was still attacking. “Tama, stop! It’s fainted! You’re—you’re gonna kill it!”

Tama stopped mid-swing and held it there, his fist trembling. The wisps of shadow spiked off of him, seething up. And then the moment passed and the shadows lessened, and he slowly slid off of the enemy pokemon.

Rui’s sigh of relief was cut off by a familiar voice calling from the alley. “Ouch! It hurts!”

She turned. “Cap?” she asked.

“It—it hurts, ow!”

She grabbed at Wes’s arm. “It’s Cap—I think he’s in trouble.”

Wes cursed. “Dammit, Luna’s still taking on that feathered monster—I can’t leave her on her own, it’s actually tough.” He turned to Tama. “Go with Rui, follow her like she was your trainer, and save Cap.”

Tama nodded.

“I’m not,” Rui protested, panic fluttering inside of her. “I’m not good at battles—”

“You don’t need to be good at battles, he’s a goddamned wrecking ball. Just point him at whoever you need defeated and he’ll do it. Now save my Espeon!”

Rui swallowed and nodded. She raced into the alley, Tama hot on her heels. Cap’s voice grew closer and closer, until she rounded a corner and—

And he was effortlessly spinning all three enemy pokemon in the air like yo-yos. The poor pokemon looked ready to heave and the trainers were trying and failing to recall them, the lines from their poke balls missing.

“Ouch, it hurts!” Cap crooned with a cocky smile on his face. Free from the hectic fight on the street, Rui recognized something in the voice she hadn’t picked up before: mockery.

“Oh—oh ouch! Ow!” Cap grinned, giving the Smeargle an extra hard twirl before chucking it at his trainer. Both ‘mon and man tumbled in a heap. “It hurts! It hurts to be this good!” He looked over his shoulder. “Hey Rui! Come to watch the awesomeness?”

She wanted to be mad. She really did. But she was mostly just relieved and, she had to admit, a little bit amused.

“Stop playing around,” she said. “Come on.”

Cap let the Cacnea go and the ruffians ran off, recalling their pokemon. Rui shook her head. And she had been worried.

When they to the spot where the alley opened to the main road, it was apparent that Luna was finishing up against the Pidgeot. Rui grinned. The pokemon really were something.

But hold on. Where were the street toughs?

As if in answer to her question, one of them rushed into view, charging Wes with a metal pipe.

Before she had time to even shout a warning, a warm red light caught the guy and suspended him.

Cap grinned up at her, his jewel slightly glowing. “Too easy.”

And that’s when the second man ghosted out of the alley at Wes’s back, holding a knife.

It all happened so fast. The guy was on him almost immediately, the steel sunk to its hilt at the base of his neck. Rui screamed. Wes dropped. The thug with the pipe crashed to the earth as Cap let him go, his mouth agape.

The attacker looked down at Wes, eyes wide as if he couldn’t believe what he had just done. “…they said you killed a bunch of people,” he said, taking a step back. “A whole lot. They had a right to want you dead—”

Luna’s teeth took his calf. The young man fell, gasping in pain, and tried to scramble backwards. Luna advanced on him, snarling, and—

And Tama’s hand gently but firmly settled on her shoulder. “It’s done,” he said, his voice flat.

“Get off me,” she snarled. “What he did to Wes—!”

“You are not a weapon,” Tama said. “We are not weapons. Enough.”

Luna looked at him and then back at the young man, who had fainted. She ripped herself away from his grasp and curled up against herself, shaking.

Rui’s legs carried her to Wes’s side. Cap was already nuzzling him, tears staining his muzzle.

“Gonna be alright,” he said. “You’re gonna be alright, boss!”

She knelt over him, trying to avoid how pale his face was already. There was a lot of red underneath him…

Wes looked at her. “Watch after these guys, would you?” His voice was a mixture of wet and ragged, and there was resignation in it.

She covered her mouth and nodded.

He smiled and sighed. “One of the busiest damn streets in the city and no one’s even here.” Dawn had broken somewhere, and above them, the sky was burning its way into warmth. “Figures. If there’s one lesson this city taught me, it’s that nobody cares.”

“That’s not true,” Rui managed to say. Cap set his head in Wes’s lap, still shaking. Luna finally forced herself up and wormed under his arm, snuggling against him.

“…thanks, you two,” Wes said. He looked between Cap and Luna, the small action seeming to require a great amount of effort. “You saved me way back then. Remember? It was just like this…”

And when the officers and ambulances and onlookers finally arrived, he had already faded away.

---

AUTHOR COMMENTS:
Uh... yeah.

So if you saw the cover, you probably expected something like this. But yeah. When I decided to make Rui the protagonist, I committed.

It's strange that in a nuzlocke, the first death is actually a human character, and not a pokemon. But that's just the way it goes in this story.

Sorry if you were attached to Wes. I ended up liking him more than I expected, so this hit me pretty bad ):
 
Last edited:

Bowser's Family Vacation

Well-known member
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
537
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?"
Ooh... Courier New is always intimidating...

“They’re them, and you’re you! Now, come and play?”
Cap is the most precious bean. I hope Tama can do something to help him out someday. :)

“I know I shouldn’t, but I… want to hurt things.” His voice was very flat and unemotive, which chilled her. “It makes me happy.”
:o Luna's concern has merit. But I love that she has empathy, too.

Yay for worldbuilding! I love your Orre that values its independence... possibly to a fault. Perhaps a more centralized government could do good...

I love your twist with Cap. :)

“You are not a weapon,” Tama said. “We are not weapons. Enough.”
I love that Tama is the one to end it.
 
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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.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #18
Yeah! It was fun playing around with a good font to use for Ein ;D

And Cap is so precious omg I love him. I'm glad you like the worldbuilding too~

So this update is unique! It's the first of our extras. This was made last summer for Pride Month. It follows four characters in TDWC, two of whom we know and two we have yet to meet (don't worry, I wrote the pieces to avoid spoilers. You should figure out who they are when we meet them!) All of them are lgbtqia+ in some way, and each of these scenes is canon to the characters' various backstories. When I made this last summer I also posted two for characters in my other run, Dear Diary, and one personal story. I've elected not to include those this time around; the DD ones will probably be posted as extras sometime in the reupload of that run, and the personal one will probably go in a thread in Creative or something. Anyway, hope you like the extras! 🏳️‍🌈


“So the hardest part about being awesome,” said Cap, “is finding someone to equal your awesomeness.”

“Uh-huh,” replied the Mightyena.

“I mean it,” Cap continued, undaunted. The Espeon’s pronged tail swished back and forth, flicking here and there as he spoke. At moments it tapped against the other pokemon’s dark and dusky fur. “There are so many pokemon out there but nobody who really seems up to snuff, you know? And I try to be accommodating, but it’s a pretty tough bar to clear nonetheless.”

The Mightyena side-eyed Cap, his muzzle twitching in what might have been amusement—or annoyance. Cap decided it had to be the former.

“And it’s dumb ’cause nobody wants to listen to me when I talk about it.”

“Can’t imagine why,” muttered the Mightyena.

“Wes and Luna always look so grim, going on about this and that with the big Brotherhood meeting coming up. They’re both so tense, it drives me crazy. I wish they’d just relax!”

The Mightyena grunted in what Cap was probably, definitely sure was assent. His tail swished further, tapping more frequently against the other pokemon’s hide.

“So I was trying to find someone with some sort of moxie to them and—”

The Mightyena sighed. “This have a point, shrimp?”

The tail stopped. Cap looked down a second, swallowed. When he looked up again, he couldn’t help but see the lean ruggedness of the other pokemon, the assured confidence of his bearing, the loose roughness of his eyes. Arceus above, but he was beautiful.

“I was trying to say,” Cap said in a smaller voice, “that I think you’re pretty awesome too. So, uh, maybe we could… you know… spend time together. Or—or something.”

Silence reigned for a few seconds, a period which stretched like eons to Cap. And then a low rumble of laughter ripped out of the Mightyena as the bigger pokemon nuzzled against the little Espeon. “Yeah,” he said, “I think I could like that.”

Try to Understand -- Asexual Pride (Rui)
“Or there’s a very nice boy—that Taro who lives a few apartments down. What about him?”

Rui brushed her hair back, holding it tight before twisting a band around it. She glanced into the mirror before making sure she was satisfied with it before moving to the other side. “No, mom,” she said, not bothering to look away from the mirror. Rui tried to keep exasperation from burning deep inside her. Every few months they had this conversation, and every few months Rui dared to allow herself the optimism that her mother had finally gotten the hint.

“Why not?”

Don’t sigh exasperatedly. Don’t be rude. That won’t solve anything. “I’m not interested in him,” she said, grabbing her hair. “Or in the dating scene. I’ve told you this already.”

She held the elastic bands in her mouth a minute to use both hands to whirl her hair into a tight pigtail. Then she started wrapping them around.

“I know you have, but how can you tell if you’ve never been on one?”

“I know what I want.”

“You say that, but you can’t know for sure.” Rui’s mom paused, cleared her throat, and said the rest in a harried, rushed delivery: “That’s why I told Taro’s mother you were interested in going out with him this weekend.”

Frigid silence hung in the air for a long half-minute. Then Rui stood and stared down her mom. “You did what?

“It’s just a brief thing. An experiment. They know that. A visit to the park… it’ll only be an hour—”

“I don’t care how long or short it is, I’m not going on a date I didn’t sign up for!” Rui crossed her arms. “You’ll just have to tell them I’m not going.”

Her mother blanched. “Cancel? But think how rude that would be. Taro’s getting his hopes up…”

“Taro-san is just going to have to live with it,” Rui said, stressing the honorific to twist the knife even further. Her mother had always struggled with the peculiarities of the Kantonian language and it still embarrassed her. “And you want to talk about rude, maybe mention signing someone up for a date against their will.”

“Do you have any idea how humiliating it will be to go over there and tell them their son isn’t good enough for you?”

“Don’t care,” Rui growled. “Maybe the unpleasantness will teach you to finally let this matter rest. I don’t date. I’m probably never going to date. It’s who I am, mom—just accept it!”

She strode out of the room, leaving her mom there, but one question stopped her in her tracks:

“Is it girls?”

“Huh?” Rui swallowed. This was the first time her mother had taken the subject in this direction.

“You’ve always denied going out with any guy I mention,” the older woman said. Her eyes drifted to Rui’s hairstyle. “That girl to the north, Misty, she’s a celebrity. She does her hair like that. Are you… do you have a crush?”

Rui shook her head. Misty was foreign-born in the notoriously xenophobic Kanto, but wore her red hair with pride, and rose to be a Gym Leader despite the disadvantage of pale skin and unusual hair color… Rui admired her, and copied her hairstyle to show off that she wasn’t ashamed of not being fully Kantonian. But admiration and attraction were not the same thing.

“No, mom,” Rui said softly. “I’m not interested in Misty. Or girls.”

Her mom started to cry. “But then what? Rui, I don’t understand… please help me understand. If you’re lying because you think I’ll be mad, then d-don’t! It’s…” She burbled, sniffed. “It’s okay if you like g-girls. I won’t be mad. I just want you to have someone. I want another person in this family…”

Rui sighed, her earlier anger going away. “Mom, I…” She turned, facing the other woman. Arceus, but it was hard to watch her cry. “I’m not into anyone. Okay? Not guys. Not girls. Just… no one. And that’s okay. That’s just who I am. Alright?”

Her mom shook her head, still hiccuping from the cry. “I don’t want you to be… alone…”

Rui grimaced, remembering the ache her father’s death had left in her mom. “I’m not alone, mom,” she said. “I have friends. I have my Aipom, and I have you too. So you don’t have to worry. I’m alright.” After consideration, she sighed and reached out to grab her hands and calm her. “I’ll… go on the thing with Taro. I’ll make it clear off the bat what happened. That you set it up, and I’m not interested in anyone. If he still wants to hang out for a few hours with a friend, then we can do that. If that’s not what he wants, then we can just not go. But you don’t have to cancel it. Okay?”

Her mom blubbered but nodded.

“Okay.” Rui took a big breath in. “Once you’ve calmed down, we can talk about this. You need to accept that this is who I am… for both our sakes.”

Her mom hiccuped once, twice, and then—an attempt at a smile. “I—I can t-try.”

Rui nodded. It was a start.

"He Was" -- Transgender Pride (Mystery Character 1)
He was male.

He knew it, even if no one else had. His old trainer, whose name and face he had nearly forgotten, hadn’t realized, but that was the problem with trainers—you could never communicate with them quite as well as you would like. Still, even if the human had never moved beyond “she”, they had respected him well enough, particularly his skill as a battler, and the one time they had raised the possibility of getting eggs—“only if you want to, and with a partner you like”—he had protested vociferously enough that said comment was isolated. None of the other pokemon on their team were surprised. They all knew that he was male.

And then, suddenly, he’d been stolen away.

A lab—white walls and dark hearts—suffering—other pokemon, mistreated—the dark room. They’d done things to him and now they called him “shadow pokemon.” He didn’t know what that meant but he knew that there things that had changed. His aggressiveness had spiked, turning a love for competition into something bestial, frightening. Deep down he knew that it was wrong that he liked hurting others, that he hadn’t always been this way, but he couldn’t stop himself, it felt so good. He was sullen, withdrawn, snarling at the other pokemon on his new team with his new trainer.

The first time he’d battled, they’d watched with fear as he’d demolished an opposing team, not just beating the enemy pokemon but humiliating and thrashing them so savagely that even the trainer, who knew he’d gotten a “shadow pokemon,” had seemed taken aback. He’d turned and seen the other pokemon watching with fright and growled “I’m male. You hear me? I don’t care what you think you see. I’m male.” They nodded.

It was the one light he had. He knew what he was and the others followed, if only for fear. There were no jeers. No protests or "polite" questions. They only spoke in terms of “he” “him” “his”. He didn’t care that those tones were hushed. He had spoken and they’d listened.

Hermosa -- Agender Pride (Mystery Character 2)
They were not.

They had always been not, and seeing other pokemon endlessly try to figure out “what” they were was entertaining when it wasn’t a little tiresome. “Do Ghost-types even have gender?” one of their teammates asked.

“I think so, gender is just identity, he doesn’t have to reproduce to be a guy,” the other had argued.

When their teammates had probed them a little harder—“Ghost-types used to be human, right? What kind of human were you?"—their response had not been to their satisfaction. They had never been male or female.

“That’s not right,” the pokemon had argued. “Humans aren’t like Magnemite or Voltorb, all of ‘em are something.

“Leave them alone,” another teammate had said. “Ghost-types, man…”

How little they understood. The human they had once been had been born with bits between their legs, certainly, but that meant nothing. In the tribe—one of many that had eked out a living on the beautiful, blasted land, before Orre had changed forever—there was space for more than two arbitrary roles. There were those who fell between, and those who changed, and then those like them—who were not. They were celebrated as envoys of nature, emissaries between different worlds, given special, holy places within the tribe. So holy had they been that their spirit endured, slowly morphing into a new shape, even as the land they’d loved had changed so much…

They had always been this way. It hadn’t been hard for the tribe to understand. Why was it so hard for them now?

They shook their head. The new world was a strange and sometimes contradictory place.

But now memory was cascading over them, and they recalled days of happiness, studying under the shaman in preparation for their role, eying the other apprentices, getting caught and scolded for having eyes on another during a lesson, sneaking out under the stars, days and nights of love and passion. Their lover had not cared about what they ‘really’ were. They had seen them for them. It did not matter that they were not. They were beautiful—perhaps more so—because of it.

“Hermosa,” their lover had whispered, body warm against them, “when the sands are no more and the sun dims like the moon and the moon shines like the sun, even after all that time, I will never stop loving you.”

The Ghost-type smiled. How long it had been, and yet… the love had not faded.
 

Spectacles

Rule Maker
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
139
Caught
Jun 24, 2019
Messages
156
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
Ah man, reading Chapter 6 was still rough the second time around! Also, I love Tama in this. I can't remember how much further I got in this story after I fell off the wagon, but I'm hoping that things get better between him and Luna! Also, I love the extra! I especially like Rui's story. You really made mom sympathetic too; she was only trying to make sure her daughter was happy, even though her methods were misguided.
 
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Bowser's Family Vacation

Well-known member
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
537
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?"
You will find someone as awesome as you are, Cap! As for Rui's section, her mom's arguments are almost word-for-word what my father has told me. Now I still don't know what I like yet, but wow, that hit close to home.

As for the mystery characters, I'm really excited to meet them! ^^
 
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