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Written Story Johto Teen Mon The Phoenix: A Crystal Nuzlocke

Thread Description
I'm gonna change you like a remix! [Updates most Wednesdays! Chapter 40 posted May 27]

Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
973
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?"
Yay for the Q&A! I didn't expect Ravi to be so popular among the old team. And I didn't expect Finn to have such snark to him! I love snark. <3 I feel like him and Arthur would vibe because Arthur clearly isn't turned off by snark, as evidenced by the one he looovveesss.

More importantly, did you get a new banner??? It looks great!!!
 

QuietGuardian

Conqueror of the Goldenrod Gym
🌱Featurer
Screenshotter
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
33
Caught
Jun 10, 2019
Messages
245
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Ground
That was a nice Q&A. But yeah, I expect things are going to get less nice as we approach the Radio Tower subplot. With how nasty your Team Rocket is, I hope that it signifies the end of them once and for all, but I'm also afraid of what they're going to unleash for their final stand…
 

cyndakip

there goes my luck
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
278
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #103
@MouseWithADinosaurTail Thank you so much! I think they definitely needed that break, yeah. And no worries about falling behind!

And of course, thanks yet again for the beautiful banner! I love it so much ❤


@Bowser's Family Vacation Ravi is a good bean, even if he doesn't believe it himself!

Yes, I did!!! And yes, it does!!! More on that below.


@QuietGuardian Thank you! Well, I don’t want to say that you should be afraid, but…


Look at this beautiful banner that @MouseWithADinosaurTail made for me! Look at my boy! Huge thanks to Mouse, whose runs you should absolutely check out if you haven’t already.


Sorry this chapter is late -- I don’t just mean on a Thursday (since I didn’t want to update on April Fool’s day anyway), but the Q&A combined with extra editing struggles caused it to be pushed back. I started second-guessing a lot of my choices in this one. It was too late to change them, and I didn’t want to anyway, but it’s never too late to worry about them! But I tweaked a lot of things and patched up most of the plot holes, and here we finally are! I’m satisfied with it now, and I hope you think it came out well too.

Fwumph.

I wake to the unmistakable feeling of Eeveelution paws landing on my chest.

“Gettoff, Ravi,” I mumble. “Sleeping.”

{ It's one in the afternoon. }

My eyes snap open and meet a pair of indigo ones. “What?”

Ravi looks apologetic. { I know we were all up late watching the fire, but everyone else is awake now, and they think you should be too. } He looks over at a still-snoring Inferno and smiles fondly. { Well, almost everyone. }

“All right, then,” I say, poking the Quilava. “Get up, Ferno, or you won't get to say goodbye to everyone before we all leave.”

That gets him moving, and soon enough I step into the kitchen, a Pokemon on each side of me. Professor Oak, cousin Tom, and my mother are all sitting around the table drinking coffee and discussing regional variants. I'm inclined to join in, but as I pour my cereal, I spot something a little more interesting in the living room and take my bowl in there instead.

Both of the two couches are occupied. Silver is stretched out on one, covered by a blanket, one arm dangling over the edge and resting gently on Chomp’s head. The Feraligatr is dozing on the floor with a smile on his face, snoring marginally louder than his trainer.

I turn to Lucas, who's sitting on the other couch, a Sylveon happily sprawled across his lap and a Jolteon curled up next to him. “Can you believe this? Because I certainly don't believe it.”

“Maybe their grumpiness canceled each other out,” he suggests.

I don't answer. I'm too busy taking a picture to commemorate this once-in-a-lifetime moment.

“Um,” Lucas continues. “Do you know whose Sylveon this is?”

The Sylveon winks at me.

“No idea,” I lie through my teeth. “Must belong to somebody at the lab.”

“Oh. I thought maybe you were holding out on me, and you've got a secret Eeveelution stash somewhere.”

“I wish.” He'd freak out if he knew he was actually stroking the fur of a god right now, and I have no intention of telling him.

“Um,” he says again. “I just wanted to say... it was cool to meet you? Like, not just because you're my cousin, or a celebrity, but because we can talk about science and Eevee and stuff. So… maybe we can do that more often?” He's eyeing my phone.

“Sure,” I say, handing it over so he can program in his number. My friend list seems to be exponentially growing, and based on the way he smiles, his is too.

And so we discuss science and Eevee and the science of Eevee as we sit on the couch, until Silver wakes up and throws a pillow at us (which thankfully hits Lucas, not my cereal) and I decide it's time to round up my team so we can go.

Inferno and Ravi are already accounted for, and I soon find Hazel curled up under a chair where things are a little quieter. I tell them all very sternly to not leave the house -- I won't recall anyone until I have to, so they have more time to hang out, but I don’t want to have to round them all up again -- step outside, and nearly get roasted by a Flamethrower.

“What the hell, guys?” I shriek, jumping back into the doorway. Gary, Lance, and two Charizard all look at me guiltily.

“We were... battling…” Gary mumbles.

“I can see that!”

“We may have strayed a little too close to the house,” Lance admits.

And these are the people running the region.

“Have you seen my team?” I ask wearily.

“Some of ‘em are over there.” Gary waves his arm in a vague motion towards the trees.

“Don't burn anything down while I'm gone. Or after I get back, for that matter.”

“I do care about my own house, you know,” Gary protests.

Lance makes an exaggerated motion of taking quite a few steps away from the house, and the Charizard fly even further past him. Reasonably satisfied, I head towards the grove of trees.

And who do I find, in the middle of this grove of trees? My favorite tree-shaped rock, of course. She comes out of her pose, smiling.

“You like it here, huh?”

An enthusiastic nod.

“I'm afraid there aren't a lot of trees where we're going, but we’ll be back here before long.”

A shrug of acceptance.

“Have you seen Re--”

A large crashing noise from up ahead.

“--gina. Never mind.”

Sequoia follows me out into a clearing, where the Nidoqueen in question has just been thrown into a tree by a powerful blast of leaves. She's up again in an instant, teeth bared, leaping at Laurel. An ice-covered fist slams into the Venusaur, sending her skidding along the ground.

I grin. “Nice Ice Punch! Clair won't stand a chance.” Laurel winces in appreciation.

Regina smiles perhaps a little too smugly, and looks like she wants to leap at Laurel again, but I put a stop to it. “That's quite enough for now. We've got to get going.”

Just one last stop -- down to the ocean, where more than one water type awaits. Finn and Maren are both calmly floating around, and drift over to meet us.

It feels so natural, the way my teams fit together and fit into this environment. But what do I do, once the challenge is over? And it is almost over, that second championship title just a week or two away, depending on how quickly I can get to Blackthorn and then get booked into the league. My job is in New Bark, and I can't exactly spend my life in the Oaks’ house. How do I balance all this?

One step at a time. Walk back to the house. Recall five-sixths of my team. Say my goodbyes for the last time before I come back a double champion. A tangle of vines and arms and psychic powers, sending me on my way.

“Take Toothless,” Lance says, holding out his Pokeball. “He's the one who can best carry both of you.”

I raise my eyebrows. “Seriously? Don't you know what happened last time someone lent me a Dragonite?”

“If it makes you feel better, I'll lend him to Silver. They don't have a full team, anyway.”

Silver eagerly snatches the Pokeball. I don't think letting young teenagers borrow your dragons is ever a good idea, but we have to get back to Johto somehow .

“We’ll be sure to send him through transfer once we get to Mahogany!” I call out once we’re snugly seated. I wave enthusiastically to everyone, and Silver half-heartedly raises a hand as well.

Yes, Mahogany, not Blackthorn. First of all, we're stopping in Goldenrod. Silver and I both need proper winter clothes and trainer supplies, so we might as well take advantage of fast Dragonite travel to go to the department store first. Then a brief trip to Ecruteak to visit Isra, and then we finally go to Mahogany as our last stop before we have to walk. Flying right to Blackthorn would be frowned upon, since any trainer who doesn't struggle through the Ice Path and then drag themself up the cliffs is considered lazy and pathetic. That's not a reputation I'm particularly interested in having, and it's one that Silver has no intention of having.

Goldenrod City at night is a welcoming cluster of lights, a dazzling display of bright innovation. Goldenrod City on a cloudy winter day? Still pretty nice to look at from the sky, honestly.

Toothless lands effortlessly in front of the department store, and Silver recalls him, actually grinning .

“So, coats first, or...” I begin.

The grin quickly disappears. “What, you think I can't shop by myself?”

“Of course not, I just--”

Silver’s already stepping through the automatic doors.

“Take good care of that Pokemon!” I yell, not wanting to specify Toothless so the whole world doesn’t find out that a kid is carrying the Regional Champion’s prized Dragonite.

No response.

Since Inferno's already in his Pokeball after the trip, I debate leaving him there so I won't have to worry about the crowds. But I know it's uncomfortable for him, and it always feels wrong to not have him around, so of course I let him out anyway.

“Ready for some shopping, Ferno?” I ask, and he perks up, because of course he's ready for some shopping.

We hit the winter section first. Warmer hat, warmer gloves, boots, and a puffy down-filled jacket that looks a little ridiculous, but at least I won't be cold . With my arms full, Inferno curls around my shoulders and happily observes everything there is to see in a department store.

As I move to the next floor, I realize there's more to see than I thought. A huge flat-screen TV is mounted on the back wall, and a rather large crowd is clustered around it. At first I think there's some important league battle going on, and then I realize they're showing Lavender Town , of all things. There's a huge skirmish in front of their radio tower -- a terrifyingly familiar cluster of black uniforms, dotted with just a few gym leaders. I only catch a brief glimpse of what might be Gary, but the Charizard overhead confirms it.

What's Team Rocket doing back in Kanto?

I shove my way through the crowd, heart pounding, prompting mutters of “Isn't that Tessa Linden? Too bad she's not there to help…”

Thank Ho-Oh I'm not there to help. Gary wants a chance to fight them instead? Well, here it is. He's Gary. He'll be okay.

He'll be okay. He will .

I strain to hear the audio over the concerned crowd. “...three years. And what could they be trying to accomplish with this radio signal?”

Radio signal . My mind flickers to the tower in this city just an instant before the picture on the screen does the same. “All eyes in Johto are on our very own radio tower, with the concern that the same thing might happen here. Several gym leaders are already on the scene, but there are no reports of Rocket activity.” I spot Whitney's unmistakable pink hair on the screen, and then--

A flash of red. Silver .

They’ll probably be fine. It wouldn’t make much sense for Team Rocket to attack this radio tower too, not when everyone’s expecting it. They’d lose the element of surprise that they’ve just gained from finally reappearing in Kanto.

But when has Team Rocket ever made sense?

I can't let Silver go running into this alone, even if they have Toothless to round out their team. Reluctantly, I tear myself away from the crowd, Inferno squirming with excitement on my shoulders.

My finger stabs the elevator button, and my foot taps impatiently. Maybe I should have taken the stairs -- no, there's a ding , and the door slides open.

I resume the impatient foot tapping once we're inside the elevator, nearly wearing a hole in the floor as we descend.

5.

4.

3.

2.

Snap.


I drop to the floor of the elevator as our fall becomes uncontrolled, curling around Inferno protectively. The ground floor wasn't far away, but who knows how many basements--

Crash.

The jolt seems to shake every atom in my body, but then it's over. I uncurl slowly, feeling bruised but decidedly alive.

“Ferno?” I whisper.

It takes a moment, a few struggling breaths, but he’s decidedly alive as well.

I sit on the floor of the elevator, holding him gently in my lap, letting him recover while I try to think of what to do next.

The elevator broke right at the moment that Team Rocket’s up to something. Is it a coincidence? Gods, I hope so.

But I doubt it.

The more important question at the moment is how do I get out of here? I don't know if this is a situation where the department store staff can come save me or not, so I've got to rely on my Pokemon. I doubt Inferno's fire can safely and effectively melt a big enough hole in the door, and having Regina or Sequoia break through it might not be any easier. Not to mention that if this elevator can otherwise be fixed, it would be pretty rude to unnecessarily destroy the doors.

It's a good thing that psychics are a great solution to just about any problem.

Ravi appears, blinking in confusion. { Why-- }

“Elevator incident. How easily can you open the doors with telekinesis?”

He sends out some tentative lavender waves. { I...I think I can do it pretty easily? } The waves twist a little, and the doors pop open. { Really, really easily, actually. } There's a rare smile of pride threatening to overtake his face.

“You're a lifesaver, Rav. Thanks.” Inferno backs me up with a grateful grin.

Ravi ducks his head bashfully.

“Now... can you sense anything up ahead?” I'm afraid to hear the answer to this question.

He closes his eyes, concentrating. { I… } His eyes snap open. { There's a whole lot of Pokemon out there. Some humans, too, but... a lot of Pokemon. }

Great. I suppose it's too much to hope that a bunch of friendly Pokemon are just having a secret tea party in the basement of a department store while Team Rocket is being Team Rocket somewhere else.

“Do you want to go back to your Pokeball? Or... do you think I need to leave everyone out so I can be prepared?”

Ravi hesitates, but holds his head up high. { We need to be out. I don't know what's waiting there, but I can't let you walk into it alone. }

“Thank you,” I say softly, resting my hand on his side for a brief moment before I send everyone else out. They all look at me with varying levels of fear and excitement as I explain the situation.

I pull out my phone to call for backup, and stare in dismay as NO SERVICE blinks at me tauntingly. Curse this department store basement. Gritting my teeth, I shove the phone back in my pocket and stand up. Guess we’re doing this alone for now.

I leave my packages in the elevator, since they'll only slow me down. There are much bigger things to worry about right now than whether or not someone's going to show up and steal my winter clothes.

We can't take the elevator back up, so we go down the hall in search of stairs, an exit, anything. One short turn, and then--

They're on us.

Just a few Rockets, just a few Pokemon, but there's a Koffing, and right when Hazel launches herself at it, it explodes --

I can't help it. I scream , run towards her as the smoke clears, prepare myself to see her body--

And she lands on her feet. Shaken, singed, but very much alive. As the other enemy Pokemon fall around us, I whisper incredulous words of praise to her and call her back into her Pokeball, because that is not happening again .

A couple more Koffing float down the hallway, and I make a quick decision. Inferno and Finn both disappear into their Pokeballs, because I'm not risking anyone who isn't well equipped to deal with those.

Ravi shoots me a panicked look.

“Take them out before they get too close! You can do it!” He'd better be able to do it, because I'm not sure how many explosions Sequoia and Regina can take.

He closes his eyes, takes a deep breath... and the waves of lavender slam into the Koffing, making them explode at a safe distance.

Out of Pokemon, the Rockets all look at each other.

“Should we just go?”

“We have to get out of here anyway.”

She won't be getting out of here either way. Let's not waste our time.”

One of them whistles, and then they all disappear in a bright flash of psychic power.

I'm used to Rockets threatening me, but their ominous words still weigh me down as I take careful steps along the hallway. There's a big door at the end, and I don't know what's waiting there, don't know if I should send the others back out or send these ones back in...

Half a team should be enough.

I open the door, and we walk into a minefield.

It takes a moment for me to recognize it as a mostly empty storage room, since it's now very full of Koffing and Weezing, so many that I can't even begin to start estimating before the door slams shut behind us.

It's locked, of course. I try to open it, think about ordering someone to break through it, but then what? There's no way they'd let me escape in time. And what about everyone else in this building, glued to the TV, not knowing that the real danger is underneath them?

My hand trembles on the doorknob. How do I get out of this one? How does anyone get out of this one?

“Well, this is a pleasant surprise.”

I whirl around, back to face the sea of death. He's standing there, smiling with calm satisfaction. Not Archer. Proton.

That doesn't make me feel any better.

“I honestly had no idea you'd be here,” he continues, striding towards me with slow, confident steps. The sea parts to let him through, giving me a good view of the Abra that appears in the back of the room before vanishing with a few of the remaining boxes in a blood-red psychic flash. “And you've arrived just in time; we're almost finished with what we've come to do. This will certainly be an efficient way to deal with you once and for all, although much faster than you deserve.”

Another voice speaks up, a silent one. { I… I think I have an idea... }

I try very, very hard not to visibly react to either of these, even as I respond to both.

“Deserve ? I didn't deserve any of this. I don't want to keep getting in your way.”

What's the idea, Ravi? Because we might not get the time to do anything about it.

“And yet you're so good at doing it.” Proton steps closer.

{ I don't know how good I am at fighting, but I can do shields! Cora trained me really hard with those. }

All I can see is that blinding explosion, that blue shield collapsing into nothingness… No, stop, you have to talk to both of them. You don't have time for this.

I know you can shield us, but you can't shield a whole building.

“Why here? Why the department store? You know you can’t gain control of it, so you’re just going to blow it up?”

{ It doesn’t have to be the whole building! I can shield you individually, and then I can put a big shield around all the Koffing and Weezing to contain their explosion. It's the only chance to save everyone above us. }

Everyone above us. Because of course we don’t have a chance to save the Koffing and Weezing, even though it’s not their fault the Rockets are making them do this. Of course Proton would use Pokemon, when regular explosives would do. Of course he’d cause as much suffering as possible.

I don't dare look at my Espeon. My eyes stay on Proton as he saunters ever closer.

“No, we can't take control of it. You've certainly seen to it that we no longer have enough power for something like that, so I'm willing to settle for taking everything in the storeroom and then blowing the building to pieces. All the better if you're here when I do it.” His smile slices into me like a shard of glass.

{ Keep him talking! }

“These Pokemon can’t possibly be willing to give their lives for this. How are you controlling them?”

The smile keeps cutting. “You’d be astonished to learn how far our radio technology has advanced. Nobody’s even realized that the tower here in Goldenrod is receiving a mind-control signal from Lavender, not when it’s concentrated only on the Koffing and Weezing.”

“You... you won't get away with this,” I say, for lack of a better idea.

He laughs, cold and cruel. “And how do you plan to stop me? You can't take out every single one of them before I bring this place down. Go on, try.”

Sequoia and Regina look at me, uncharacteristic fear reflected between them.

“Go on,” I echo. Every one we take out makes Ravi’s job easier. Proton won't care, since he doesn't know what we're planning, and he won't blow them all up while he's still here.

They spring into action. Fists of thunder and ice, rock-hard feet. Purple orbs start to fall as Sequoia and Regina carefully pick out the ones in less crowded spots, hoping they won’t set off any others. Some explode one by one with relative safety, others drift harmlessly to the floor -- or is it harmless? Will they still explode in a chain reaction if they’re knocked out?

It doesn’t matter. How can we do enough, either way?

Proton looks at Ravi, and I can't help but follow his gaze. The Espeon has flattened himself to the ground, trembling, looking for all the world that he's just afraid, and all the while his courage burns inside my mind as he prepares to do something he’s never done.

A laugh. “Too afraid to even try? What a pity.”

I want to scream at him, but I manage to look away, stare at the floor silently. I don’t need to pretend to feel helpless.

“Well, it doesn't matter.” A smile of triumph. “It's far too late for all of you.” Just like the Rockets outside, like the boxes in the back, he disappears in a sudden psychic flash, teleported to safety by an Abra.

A sob breaks out of my throat. This can't work, it won't work, we're all going to die--

{ Tessa. } Ravi opens his eyes, bright indigo among a haze of lavender. Sequoia and Regina don't stop their futile dance, but I can tell they're listening too. { It's okay. It'll be okay. Do you trust me? }

I nod wordlessly, tears streaking down my face.

{ I understand, now. I am strong. You were right. } He closes his eyes again, shaking. Blood trickles from his nose.

I sob again. How much time do we have? It doesn't matter. It's not enough.

One.

Each second is an eternity.

Two.

I lose Sequoia in a crowd of purple.

Three.

The shield springs up around me, strong and glowing.

Four.

Everything is dark purple, light purple, suffocating.

Five.

My shield flickers briefly as Ravi’s thoughts fade from my mind.

Six .

Regina throws herself on top of me, and the world ends.




***​




It's quiet.

That's the first thing I notice. Why is it so quiet? Everything was so loud , so why--

I can't move. There's a weight on top of me, crushing me.

“Get off, Regina. I'm okay.” It's what I try to say, but all that comes out is a strangled choking sound. My mouth is clogged with dust.

I struggle, squirm, claw my way out into the open air, which isn't any less suffocating. Before I can do anything else, I have a huge coughing fit, gasping and choking for what feels like forever until I can breathe again. Is this what it's like for Inferno, all the time?

Inferno .

My hand flashes to my row of pokeballs. Three warm, three cold. At least everyone who was in there is still safe.

The others will be safe, too. If Ravi could shield me and prevent an entire building from collapsing, I don't need to worry about them.

So where are they? And why is Regina still lying there?

For the first time, I look , past the dust and the confusion and the scattered puddles of purple-red.

Her eyes are staring. She doesn't seem surprised, or angry, or peaceful.

Just dead.

Why are my eyes so dry? Wasn't I crying, just a minute ago? I reach up to my face and still feel wetness, somehow. My hand comes away red.

I don't know whose blood it is. I don't think it matters.

I don't like leaving her there, staring at nothing, but I have to find the others. I take a few shaky steps. My foot bumps into something small and jagged and brown-green.

Just a fragment.

I see Sequoia everywhere, scattered and broken beyond recognition.

But I don't see Ravi. He's out there, somewhere. He's going to come charging in just like he did in that cave, ready to save us again.

“Ravi,” I say. It's barely a whisper.

I gather whatever strength I have left. “RAVI!” My voice sounds strange and hollow in my ears.

Nothing but silence.

I guess I'll wait. I don’t know how long it’s been. I don't know if I can get through that door. I don't know if Proton’s going to come back. I don't know if the building’s going to collapse after all and none of this matters.

I don't know anything, anymore.

The weight of my backpack suddenly makes itself known. Why is that still here, and not my Pokemon? I dump it out. Everything in there is replaceable.

The first piece slides into my hands roughly, sharp shards of rock digging into my skin. I drop it into the backpack. She can't be left here as just part of the rubble.

It becomes a consistent rhythm. Find, lift, drop. “RAVI!” No answer. Repeat.

All the pieces. if I collect all the pieces, he'll show up.

But it's not Ravi who shows up first.

There's an angrier wave of psychic power, accompanied by a man’s face twisted in bewildered fury. “How? How did you…” he trails off, speechless. His words are a distant echo in my ears, as if I'm floating underwater.

Did he come back to kill me? I can't fight him, but I can't let him take anyone else from me, either. I’ll stay here, buried with the others, if only he won’t take anyone else. I pick up another piece. I need to put her back together, first. Maybe he'll let me.

The door blows open. Ravi!

It's not. There's a swarm of people and Pokemon, a swishing of a cape. The man reaches for his psychic getaway again, but he's blasted into the wall.

Eyes flash with righteous fury. “Don't you dare hurt her.”

I laugh, and it echoes around the empty room. Don't you know what he's done already?

Another pair of eyes, wide with horror. “We've got to get you out of here.”

I slap away the hands that reach for me. “Don't! I haven't found all of her yet. And Ravi, he's out there somewhere…” I try to lift the backpack, to drag it to safety, but it's far too heavy, and I feel something already cracked shatter within me. How will we all get out of here?

A gasp of shock. “Your hands , Tess…”

I look down at them through the haze. They’re slick and red with blood, stabbed through with rock fragments. Shouldn't that hurt?

While I'm distracted, familiar arms wrap around me from behind. “Come on, it's not safe. The building could still collapse at any moment. We've got to go.”

I struggle, leaving bloody handprints everywhere. He doesn't seem to care. Of course it's not safe! They're dead ! I can't just leave them behind! And Ravi...

“Ravi…” my mouth echoes.

“We’ll find him. I promise.”

They won't.

But I can't stop myself from being dragged through the door. I can't stop his words of “Get us out of here, Simon.” I can't stop the flash of mint-green, and I definitely can't stop the darkness that comes after it.
Well, the first thing that needs to be said here is that I'm sorry. Believe me, I didn't want this either! I didn't want to put Tessa through more trauma, and I didn't want to make my readers suffer this much, and of course I didn't want to lose half my team all at once… but I think something that's so devastating in-game can’t just be glossed over in the story like what I did with Isra. There's no way around it this time.

I know that this is bad timing right now, and I don't want to be posting extremely depressing content when the real world is already depressing. But the alternative is putting this run on indefinite hiatus, and I ultimately think it's better to just get through the sad chapters now so we can start getting back to a bit of happiness as soon as possible. Because as much as this is going to hurt, it will get better.

So, what happened? I admit it was mostly my fault. I'm normally very careful, but this time, I broke two of my unwritten nuzlocke rules, and paid the price for it, and I won't ever be doing that again.

The first of those rules is don't nuzlocke while tired. But I was only a bit tired, and this was just a bunch of generic rockets, and my team was levelled high enough! What's the worst that could happen?

Remember when I wrote Ravi’s evolution into the story (which I would have done at that point no matter what) and said he hadn't evolved yet in the game? Well, he never had the chance to. I was tired of him being an Eevee who couldn't do anything, and I wanted to start getting his level up faster so he could be within reach of that psychic move (I wasn't going to friendship grind and evolve him if he couldn't actually do anything as an Espeon yet). So I had him fighting a grimer, which kept using Harden, but I figured he could still kill it. They were both at low health, but I didn't want to switch him out, because he'd get less experience! But I also didn't want to waste a potion (I've admittedly been a little too stingy with those, considering that money has yet to be a problem for me in a nuzlocke), so I kept him in, ignoring my second unwritten rule, which is to never go “oh, he'll be fine as long as it doesn't crit!”

You can guess how that went.

So that sucked, but I went on. And I'm not sure if it made me distracted, or if I was just tired, but... well, of course I had been throwing Sequoia at all the self-destructing Pokemon, because they couldn't do too much to her. And when I was fighting that rocket executive who has all those Koffing plus a Weezing, I made the mistake of not healing her when the Weezing came out, because I was used to her not taking much damage! I didn't really stop to think about the fact that she was in the yellow, and Weezing is stronger, and Explosion is stronger!

So, having lost two Pokemon in quick succession, I thought it would be best to stop for the night and come back tomorrow. Which is what I did! And when I fought the last rocket, the one with the other Weezing, I had Regina out, because I figured she was my best bet.

And then she got hit with a crit Explosion, and there was nothing to be done about that. I'd like to say that one, at least, wasn't my fault, but she wouldn't have been fighting it in the first place if I hadn't messed up with Sequoia.

TL;DR: crit, explosion, crit explosion. Half my team gone to the rocket attack on Goldenrod. This is the most devastating thing I've ever experienced in a nuzlocke (I'd like to hope it remains that way, but I'm not counting on it), and it’s definitely made me a lot more careful since.

...So, let's talk about the actual chapter! I know it's a long one, but I didn't want to cut it at any point. I think it's more impactful to just have it keep building up to that moment rather than leave it on a cliffhanger and start the next chapter with everyone dying. I know I changed a lot to have things happen the way they did, and I hope that was the right choice! Everyone expects the radio tower, but I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it, so I had the attack be at the department store instead, since Tessa actually had a reason for being there.

And of course I changed it to them all dying at once rather than one at a time, which I hope you think was a good way to do it? I know that scene is a really big moment, and I'm honestly not sure what you're all going to think of it. (Besides “HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME, CYNDA?????”, of course.) I hope you think it was done well, but I understand if you'd rather have seen it a different way. This was just always the vision I had ever since that happened in-game, and I never thought of a better way to portray it. At the very least, I'm happy with how it resolves Ravi’s character arc, even if it's in quite depressing circumstances.

This is an absurdly long author's note, so I'm going to stop now, but I do want to say again that I'm sorry. Yes, on the one hand, I do thrive on readers’ tears, but this is pretty excessive, and it's bad timing, and I wish it didn't have to be this way. I'm happy with some of the next few chapters (well, the very next one still needs a lot of work, but I hope to get it out at the usual time), and I enjoyed writing them, and I think this adds some very interesting stuff to the story. But still, I wish it hadn't happened.
 

MouseWithADinosaurTail

A Comedian At Heart
Artist
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
47
Caught
Jun 15, 2019
Messages
1,430
Location
Snubbville
Nature
Quirky
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She/Her
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Pokédex Entry
She's like a sea urchin. Tough and prickly on the outside, but delicate and easily wounded if hit the wrong way. Please handle gently.
*Sees my banner, reacts to post with heart emoji*
*Reads chapter, casually changes reaction to crying emoji.*

Aaaaaaah, Cynda! 😭

The run had been going so well that at this point, I didn't really expect you to suffer any major losses. But honestly, as soon as Ravi dropped that line "Do you trust me," I knew what was coming. I knew Sequoia was doomed, fighting out there amongst all those weezings, and Ravi's dialogue may as well all have been replaced with "I'm about to die tragically! :D" at that point. But Regina... I thought she fell on top of Tessa to protect her, but no... You did a really good job pulling the rug out from under me with that one. Ravi's death was already in cliche territory, so I expected Regina's action to be another common trope: a pokemon protecting her master. But only when it's all over do you find out that, no, there was no trope, no protection. She just fell over dead in the wrong place. A death always grabs me more when it's written like this. No fanfare, no beauty, no prettiness. Just ugly and blunt and so unfortunate. It's heartbreaking. All of their deaths were heartbreaking. Poor little Ravi especially, he was just a baby! TToTT

And it's nerve-wracking too! Because we're about to head into the dragon gym, and Regina was our ace for that! I'm at least glad we're about to head to the Ice Path and hopefully pick up an ice-type. But damn, I've been in your shoes before, and I know from experience that rebuilding a team in end-game Johto is EXTREMELY hard. I'm sending all the good vibes I can to Tessa, Inferno, Finn, and Hazel. I'm rooting for them, they'll make it through!

Great job as always, Cynda. Can't wait for more.

(Also, really good thing you didn't release this episode yesterday, or I woulda gone "Haha, great joke Cynda. Can't wait for the real chapter next week" and then woulda been SO shook.)
 

Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
973
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?"
*sees crying reacts*

“What the hell, guys?” I shriek, jumping back into the doorway. Gary, Lance, and two Charizard all look at me guiltily.

“We were... battling…” Gary mumbles.

“I can see that!”

“We may have strayed a little too close to the house,” Lance admits.

And these are the people running the region.
Gary and Lance know that the region can't get messed up by Team Rocket if it's already on fire!


Lance: *gives another teenager a Dragonite*

Yay for shopping in Goldenrod City! *remembers the point in the plot we're in* Knuckles, we need you again...

*looks at ending* KNUCKLES..!


Getting a new team for end-game Johto is devastating. I've had to do so after Clair, but... Tessa isn't even at Clair. I'm praying that Ice Cave will give you something good..!
 

QuietGuardian

Conqueror of the Goldenrod Gym
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Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
33
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Jun 10, 2019
Messages
245
Nature
Careful
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he/him
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Dark, Ground
Hey, just because we're going through tough times now and want to encourage positivity doesn't mean we should shun anything negative. Plus, like you mentioned, getting it over with now helps to heal quicker.

That being said, ouch. I'm sorry for you, but I'm really concerned for Tessa, since she's taken stuff like this so poorly in the past (i.e., with Zephyr and Isra) also whoops I may have just admitted to caring more about a fictional person than a real one. The part where she's picking up the pieces of Sequoia and doesn't even notice her own wounds really speaks to how she's just shut down, and I can't imagine starting back up is going to be at all easy or painless.

Some of this did feel a little on the sudden side for me, like Tessa happening upon TR's big plan in Goldenrod and Ravi's high confidence in his powers. Of course, the impact of what actually happened is the main takeaway here.

I'll be waiting anxiously for Wednesday; I'm not in a rush to see depressed Tessa (Depressa?), but I know the healing has to start somewhere.
 

MouseWithADinosaurTail

A Comedian At Heart
Artist
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
47
Caught
Jun 15, 2019
Messages
1,430
Location
Snubbville
Nature
Quirky
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Flying
Pokédex Entry
She's like a sea urchin. Tough and prickly on the outside, but delicate and easily wounded if hit the wrong way. Please handle gently.
Hey, just because we're going through tough times now and want to encourage positivity doesn't mean we should shun anything negative. Plus, like you mentioned, getting it over with now helps to heal quicker.

That being said, ouch. I'm sorry for you, but I'm really concerned for Tessa, since she's taken stuff like this so poorly in the past (i.e., with Zephyr and Isra) also whoops I may have just admitted to caring more about a fictional person than a real one. The part where she's picking up the pieces of Sequoia and doesn't even notice her own wounds really speaks to how she's just shut down, and I can't imagine starting back up is going to be at all easy or painless.

Some of this did feel a little on the sudden side for me, like Tessa happening upon TR's big plan in Goldenrod and Ravi's high confidence in his powers. Of course, the impact of what actually happened is the main takeaway here.

I'll be waiting anxiously for Wednesday; I'm not in a rush to see depressed Tessa (Depressa?), but I know the healing has to start somewhere.
LOL! DEPRESSA!
 

cyndakip

there goes my luck
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
278
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #108
@MouseWithADinosaurTail Yup, I saw that heart react and could tell you hadn't read it yet, haha

The run had been going so well that at this point, I didn't really expect you to suffer any major losses.
That's what I thought too! 🙃

...well, I appreciate the praise for Regina's death, but I don't deserve it, because I did intend that to be her trying to protect Tessa. She could see that Tessa’s shield was flickering and tried to offer some extra protection. ...At least, that's how I wrote it, but since it never outright says why, feel free to interpret it your less cliche way instead!

Yeah, I was not looking forward to rebuilding at that point. Thank you!

That's exactly why I didn't post it on April Fools, haha. I'm not that cruel!


@Bowser's Family Vacation
Gary and Lance know that the region can't get messed up by Team Rocket if it's already on fire!
We did it, Lance! We saved the region!

Yup, having to rebuild a team at this point sucks...


@QuietGuardian Okay, yeah, I might have been a bit overboard with the whole THIS IS SO DEPRESSING I'M SORRY thing. But even regardless of the situation, I do feel bad for posting a super happy chapter and then immediately turning around and killing off half the team. I wouldn’t have chosen to do that if the game hadn’t decided it for me! But yeah, I've certainly been consuming my fair share of sad media, so it's not like I’m only looking for positive content either.

It is rather sudden, but that's kind of the way the attack on Goldenrod is... but even so, it's kind of hard to make it believable that she keeps running into them this often and just happens to be in the right/wrong place all the time, true. And I understand that view on Ravi, although the thing is, his concerns were never that he didn't think he was powerful, but rather that he was afraid of his own power. Compared to using it for attacking, shields are a pretty straightforward thing that can’t hurt anyone you care about, and since the alternative was everyone dying, he had to go for it and trust that he could do it. Honestly I think the main problem there is that he could have used a bit more screentime leading up to that chapter, and so could the others... I don't think I've done a great job of giving all the non-Inferno teammates enough attention, which is something I'm going to try and improve on with the small amount of time and non-Inferno teammates we have left

Thank you! Sorry that it's not Wednesday, but here's some Depressa content for you!

and that's understandable, I too care more about fictional characters than I care about me

Sorry for another late chapter! I promise this won’t become a trend, and the next one at least should definitely be out on time. This one’s quite short, but I don’t really think it needs to be any longer than it is. Probably goes without saying, but… fair warning, it’s pretty depressing.

I can shield you individually.

I thought he meant all of us.

He knew. They knew, too. They all knew, and they never hesitated. He had to choose, between them and everyone. And yet he still saved me. I didn't ask for it.

I should have died there with them. I wish I had. It would have been easier.

But Inferno needs me. So do Finn and Hazel and Isra, and my old team. It wouldn’t be fair for them to lose me, too.

Isra’s here now. They've set her free with wings wrapped in soft bandages instead of plaster, and I look at her and see yet another time I failed my Pokemon. But I keep looking at her anyway, to remind myself that she's still here, she’s still alive. Because I'm supposed to feel lucky that we’re alive. Supposed to feel grateful. Feel relieved. Feel.

I don't feel anything.

They show their faces on TV, pictures from back when they still had faces. They show my face, too. I've done it again! Helped rid the world of Team Rocket. Proton was captured in Goldenrod, Ariana was captured in Lavender, and with no one left to lead an already faltering organization, it’s pretty much gone for good. Isn't that wonderful? This is what it means, to be a hero.

A hero who did nothing. Stood there and cried while they saved me and everyone else. I never wanted to be a hero. Not like this, not in any way, not ever, but here I am.

I dream about them, sometimes. Dreams where they die in front of me in every way imaginable and I wake up screaming. Dreams where they live and smile at me and I wake up happy for a split second before it all falls apart again. Dreams that I can't tell apart from my waking thoughts, because it's all the same scene on repeat.

People keep knocking on the door, asking for interviews. What do they think I'm going to say? I don't want to hear their questions. Don't know if I can hear their questions over the echo of the explosion still ringing in my ears. Gary always yells at them to go away, so I don't have to talk.

They finally stop coming after Lance swoops in on Toothless and yells at them, too.

I shouldn't be here. In Pallet. At the Oaks’ house. Causing them all this trouble. My mom wants me to come back to Celadon, but how can I live in that big city with its department store and its Rocket history ever again? And how can I go back to New Bark when all that waits for me there is Elm and a job I can't do? There’s nowhere else to go.

So I'm here. Here with what's left of my team. With Inferno and my old team, mostly. Finn dove into the ocean at the first opportunity and has yet to come out. I walk down to the water every day and talk to him, but he doesn't respond. Doesn't even look at me. This was all a game to him, a fun adventure, until it wasn't. And it's all my fault. I'd hide from me too, if I were him.

Hazel hides in her own way, burrowing into cupboards and under couches, anywhere small and quiet to make her feel a little bit safe. I can coax her out for cuddles more often than not, but I wish I didn't have to, didn't have to wander the house in a panic when I can't find her.

Isra has nowhere to hide, nowhere to go until her wings heal. This isn't as hard on her -- she didn't know them as well, wasn't there that day, but she's still become more subdued, waiting for the day that everything will go back to normal.

As if it ever could.

Inferno’s become clingy. To me, to anyone who's still here. I fall asleep to him curled next to me, wake up to his warmth in the morning. He sits and talks with Isra, hides in cupboards with Hazel, patiently gives Kid fighting advice. And in typical Inferno fashion, he throws himself into training, as much as he can. More than enough to scare me. All that risk for what? I don't have a team for the league, anymore. Where could we go from here? Fighting can't fix our problems. Nothing can.

A small Quilava, the league championship slipping from his grasp. A scared Furret, flinching at shadows and hiding from the world. An angry Lanturn, refusing to leave the water. A broken Zubat, stuck on the ground.

And a trainer who lost half her team in a split second.

How do we go on from here?
Not too much to say about this one; it’s short and sad and really just exists to show the immediate aftermath of the incident before we start moving on to slightly less sad things! I have to admit, I’m quite excited to post the next chapter…
 

Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
973
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?"
Gary and Lance may be chaotic fire-starters, but they are also good, yelling friends. Tessa is going to need good friends like them if she is going to recover.
 

QuietGuardian

Conqueror of the Goldenrod Gym
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Pokédex No.
33
Caught
Jun 10, 2019
Messages
245
Nature
Careful
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he/him
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Dark, Ground
I'd actually say that Ravi had a good amount of appearances, and I don't think you've been slacking in giving non-Inferno characters attention, especially compared to the beginning of the story. I'm certainly sad about Ravi and Sequoia's deaths (though admittedly less so with Regina)! And honestly, I probably could have gone back and re-read Chapter 33 to get a better handle on things and maybe resolve some of my critiques…but I kiiiiiiiinda didn't feel like returning to it just yet…
 

cyndakip

there goes my luck
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
278
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #111
@Bowser's Family Vacation They are very good yelling friends! We'll get to see more of that friendship soon enough, but today we're doing something a bit different...

@QuietGuardian I still don't think I've done as good a job with this team as I should have, but I'm glad you think Ravi at least had a good amount of attention! I know I didn't do a perfect job with the Rocket incident, either, but I'm still pretty happy with it considering that I improved a lot of things about the chapter before you all actually got to see it, haha. And that's extremely valid, it's a rough chapter to read even once. So here's one that's... a bit less depressing?

And now for something completely different! Unlike The Scientist, this story doesn't have interludes... but if it did, this would be one of them. It's a fairly short chapter, but I really enjoyed writing it, and I hope you like it too!

You wake to a bad day.

You've had to get used to them, with the way your life has been recently. But you miss the times when bad day only meant that your lungs were being extra terrible, and not also that you were being extra crushed by sadness about your friends being dead.

And you really, really miss the times when bad day meant that Chomp beat you in a battle at the lab, or that you spent a whole day in your Pokeball because it was Tessa’s day off. Life used to be so good, and you didn't even know it.

You look at your trainer, still asleep beside you. Some of the others like to wake her up, but you never do, not anymore. She's happier when she's sleeping, sometimes. You don't want to be the one to take that away from her. Even when you get restless and want to be out training, you stay here and wait. You learned the hard way that if you leave without her knowing, she panics.

You think she might have had more bad days than you've had days, even before this happened. And you've been alive for over four hundred days, which is a lot. You can't imagine what it would be like to have that many bad ones, or more.

You're afraid you might find out, someday.

It's cold today. You know this because it's winter, not because you know what it means to be cold. So you cuddle closer to her, offering your warmth. It's one of the few things you still have.

Once you get comfortable, you start doing your breathing exercises, which she always nags you about. As if you’d forget them! Doesn't she understand that you want to avoid having a health crisis? Of course you're not going to be lazy about something like that.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Inhale.

Crash.


Your eyes flicker open.

Cora, for all her talents, has never mastered non-slammy telekinetic door opening. She flutters into the room somewhat apologetically, but you know that she doesn't like Tessa sleeping in so much. The old team is always so focused on getting her out of bed and doing things, even when she doesn't want to. You think it's a little unfair. Some days you don't want to train, and some days you can't, and no one ever makes you do things then.

But you hate it when you can't train. If you don't get stronger, how are you going to protect her? You're always the one who gets protected, the one who can't help when it matters most. They died for her, for you, so you need to keep her alive more than ever.

No one would let you see them, after. You know that there wasn't much to be seen, which is worse, but it feels unfair. She had to see everything while you rested safe and oblivious in a Pokeball. You don't know if it's right to be this sad, when you weren't there like she was.

You realize that Cora’s talking to you. She's been respectful about not nudging at your mind, giving you space, trying not to remind you of the psychic you knew so much better than you know her.

She's sad, too. You don't need a psychic link to know that.

Before you have time to register what she's saying, Tessa's eyes open. Your trainer looks annoyed more than anything else, which is a good sign.

<Good morning?> is Cora’s tentative greeting.

A glance at the clock. “You’re not even right about the “morning” part.”

Sleeping in, again. You both do a lot of that lately, when they let you.

With some psychic nudging from Cora and some less insistent encouragement from you, she eventually drags herself out of bed, shivering in the presumably cold air. You offer yourself as a heater, and she almost smiles as she lifts you onto her shoulders.

You stay there while she shuffles into the kitchen and eats breakfast (lunch? brunch?) in silence. Gary's not around, since he has an actual Important Job and needs to be there so he can impress Lance, even though Lance didn't seem to mind all the times that Gary stayed here.

Laurel is around, even though she also has an actual Important Job and should probably be spending more time next door at the lab than she actually does. But you like when she's around, because it means that she can stay with Tessa while you go do things.

You also like when she's around just because she's really cool.

“Coming to the shore with us, Ferno?” Tessa asks.

You shake your head. You’d rather not be there, and she knows it. It's wet, and Finn always refuses to come out no matter how much you beg him to.

“Okay,” she says, frowning. “I'll be back soon. Be careful with your training.”

You just nod, although it always annoys you when she says that. Who can know your limits better than you ? You don't intend to hurt yourself.

But you know she only says it because she cares.

Training isn't as fun, anymore. No Regina to pester, no Sequoia to admire, no Ravi to encourage. Finn and Hazel never show up. Isra does sometimes, but she can't actually fight you, and she doesn't want to anyway. Kid’s always eager, but he can’t give you a real fight. You like it best when Gary's around, because you get to battle his team.

Arthur's always willing to fight you, though. He's not used to spending this much time here, but he wants to be around for Tessa, and so he is. It’s weird to see him without Mew, who hasn’t shown up since the incident. You think Mew’s afraid that Tessa might be angry at them for allowing what happened to happen.

You're not angry at them. If the gods controlled everything all the time, what would be the point of living at all?

You're just angry at yourself. Maybe you could have made a difference. Maybe if you weren't so fragile, you'd actually get to help.

And so you train.

You know you can't fix your lungs. You know you can't bring them back. But you can get stronger, learn to do more with the limited battling time you have. So you throw yourself into fighting, like you always do. Let the fire and lightning collide until your chest burns and you drag yourself to the sidelines where you always end up.

That's where she finds you when she comes back, Laurel walking at her side, Arthur awkwardly keeping an eye on you to make sure you're not dead.

And you're not dead, so she comes over to you and strokes your fur while you're resting. You're never sure if she's trying to reassure you or herself more, but either way, it helps.

This is your life, now. Stuck in this tiny broken body in this tiny deserted town with your tiny shattered team. You don't know where to go from here. None of you do.

Right now, you go inside with her. Later, you'll go to sleep. Then you'll go back outside again. It's a neverending cycle of going nowhere.

You want things to get better, and you don't know how they can.
We finally get to hear from Inferno himself! I'd consider this one of my favourite chapters, and I hope you enjoyed it too. This is the first thing I ever wrote in second person, and things have kind of spiraled out of control from there... [glances at PMD story] ...I know second person's not for everyone, but I really love writing it. We'll be back to good old first person next week as... things happen! See you then.
 

Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
973
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?"

QuietGuardian

Conqueror of the Goldenrod Gym
🌱Featurer
Screenshotter
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
33
Caught
Jun 10, 2019
Messages
245
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Ground
I'm glad you like what you've written here, because I think it's really good. The shift from first person to second person POV works as an accompaniment to the shift from Tessa to Inferno's POV, which offers a distinct but valuable perspective. This chapter really feels like Inferno, between his slightly more simplistic thinking, his concern and care for Tessa, and his continued love of battling and battlers; his admiration of Laurel is a nice little thing to smile at. But still, we know that this is not a happy chapter; the last three paragraphs are there to remind us of that. Although after two depressing chapters that cover the aftermath of the Rocket attack/slaughter, I hope things will start to move in a better direction soon.

Also, I have to say that I love this line:
If the gods controlled everything all the time, what would be the point of living at all?
It's sort of an example of Inferno's simpler way of thinking, but it still feels like he hit the nail on the head. It really makes sense! ('Course, that's something that I do believe irl.)
 

cyndakip

there goes my luck
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
278
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #114
@Bowser's Family Vacation Oof, I didn't even stop to think about how relevant that line has become...


@QuietGuardian Thank you so much! I'm glad you think I did a good job with that chapter. It was really fun to get into Inferno’s head!

I definitely don't want to have too many depressing chapters! I've tried to find the balance between allowing a believably long enough time for them to grieve but not lingering on it for so long that it gets tedious/too sad. And hey, while the last two chapters may have been depressing, even when you combine them they're still shorter than an average chapter! So it's not like I'm piling thousands upon thousands of depressing words on all of you :P I promise this chapter is the turning point! ...Sort of. You'll see.

And thank you, I'm glad you liked that line!
Fwumph.

I wake to the unmistakable feeling of Eeveelution paws landing on my chest.

“Gettoff, Ravi,” I mumble. “Sleeping.”

Silence. Awkward silence. Empty, awkward silence.

My eyes snap open and meet a pair of violet ones. Arthur stares at me, uncertain about how to handle this.

“Hey, Arthur,” I mumble as the world tries to slide itself back into place and breaks apart in the process. “Let me guess, it's afternoon and you don't agree that I should stay here forever?”

He looks apologetic as he jumps to the ground, but nods. While I resent not being allowed to stay here forever, I understand that they all want me to get out and do things.

There's just not much to do, anymore.

Next to me, Inferno uncurls and stretches. My eyes shift from him to the other side of the room -- Isra’s right here too, dozing in her nest in the corner. She’s fallen back into the natural Zubat sleep pattern, and I do my best to never disturb her in the daytime so she can get the rest she needs. At least these two are always here when I wake up, preventing me from worrying about them.

I always worry about the others, and it's the main reason why I'm able to get out of bed.

It's a particularly cold day, so I leave a blanket draped around me after my feet hit the floor. No point in changing out of my pajamas, not when there's no one around to see me but my Pokemon as long as I stay away from the lab. I shuffle into the kitchen behind Arthur, blanket hem sweeping the floor, Inferno trailing us.

“Hazel?”

It takes a moment, but a small striped face peeks out from one of the cupboards and disappears again. I breathe a sigh of relief. As long as I know where she is, it's fine.

The others gather around me as I sit at the table. Inferno curled up in my lap, Cora perched on the back of my chair, Arthur stretched out on the floor. Laurel reaches out her vines to me, and I let them twine comfortingly around my hands, covering the scars for a brief moment.

Sometimes I wish they all wouldn't cling so much, as if I'm a needy child who can't be left alone for even a second.

But always, I'm so glad they're here.

Finish the meal. Put my coat and boots on. Step outside with Laurel. I have to check right away, every day.

The path to the shore can be treacherous in winter, but I've got Laurel to catch me if I fall. We take careful steps together until the sound of crashing waves resolves itself into a gray expanse of water, stretching as far as we can see.

One figure is visible right away, floating calmly among the rough waves. The other’s head pokes out as we approach, light shining. A double shot of reassurance.

“Hey, Maren. Hey, Finn.” The former approaches with a gentle smile, while the latter flicks his tail and swims in a circle. He's not going anywhere, as usual. I worry about him, drifting in that cold ocean without the extra protection of being an ice-type like Maren, but it shouldn't cause him any serious damage.

“Want to come up to the house? Do some training with Inferno?”

He shakes his head, as usual. Oh, sure, I'm not allowed to stay in bed, but he’s allowed to stay in the ocean.

Good luck to anyone who’d attempt diving into freezing water to drag out an electric fish, though. Sure, I could just recall him, but that wouldn’t be any more polite. He’s only now starting to get over his anger, and that wouldn’t help the situation.

So Laurel and I linger for a while, visiting, and then we make our precarious way back up the path.

In the yard, I watch the training. Inferno and Laurel. They can handle themselves, so I just sit back and make a few occasional suggestions. I'm not much of a trainer, not if I get half my team killed.

Inside, I wrap myself back up in the blanket and sit on the couch doing nothing but drinking tea, which is apparently considered a more worthwhile pastime than sitting in bed doing nothing but drinking tea.

Inferno's ears prick up suddenly, and he swivels his head in the direction of… something. I frown. Whatever sound he’s hearing, I can’t make it out, which has become all too common lately. Yet another loss to the explosion.

<Knock at the door!> Cora announces from the next room. Telepathy, at least, doesn’t require ears.

I keep frowning. Anyone who has to knock is someone I don't want to talk to. I want to tell her to say I’m not around, but really, who would believe that?

The knocking must persist, because Cora shouts <I'll get it!> The front door flings open with a bang that’s unfortunately loud enough for me to hear, and she declares <Come in!>

Bugsy, of all people, steps into the living room where I'm sitting in all my blanket-wrapped, pajamed, tea-drinking glory.

And he's holding, of all things, a Slowpoke .

“What are you doing in...” crap, this isn’t my house. “...here?”

“Just visiting,” he says, trying to look as innocent as the Pokemon in his arms.

“Well, Gary's not here. Come back some other time.”

Inferno's not nearly as rude. He slides off the couch and greets both of them happily, in typical Inferno fashion.

Bugsy's face lights up as he bends down to pet Inferno, switching the Slowpoke to one arm. I know he still feels bad about what happened in that gym battle, and I hope he knows that I'm not angry because of that . At least Inferno clearly isn't.

“I didn't come here to see Gary, actually.”

“He'll be so disappointed.”

Bugsy very unsubtly tilts the Slowpoke closer to me. “Isn't he adorable? His name’s Calvin. One of the Slowpoke you saved, actually.”

“Get to the point.” He is pretty cute, but how many cute Pokemon have died for me already?

“Well, he was a companion Pokemon to an old woman who… can’t look after him anymore. He needs someone to take care of him, and I figured that you--”

“Got half my team killed and need replacements? Thanks, but no thanks.” I wish I had answered the door so I could slam it in his face.

Bugsy flinches, the slam apparently audible in my voice anyway. “I-I'm sorry, I just…”

I sigh, suddenly feeling far more tired than angry. “You want to help both of us. I get it. But everybody wants to help, and nobody can.”

“I know it might feel that way right now, but give it time. Things will get better.”

I mumble something noncommittal. Clearly, someone’s given him a lecture on my hearing issues, because he hasn’t been mumbling; he’s making an effort to face me and speak extra clearly. I’m not sure if I’m grateful for it -- I’d almost rather not hear what he has to say, but I appreciate the thought.

“I'm not saying you have to immediately train this guy up, evolve him, teach him Ice Punch, and throw him at Clair,” Bugsy persists. “You don't have to do anything. But wouldn’t it be nice to take him in and give him a home?”

“This isn't even my home.”

“Isn't it?”

I wish I knew.

“I mean, look at that face !” Bugsy continues, holding Calvin closer to me. “How can you resist it?”

The Slowpoke blinks at me sedately, a gentle smile plastered on his face. I look away. My heart can't take any more melting.

“Why do you care?” I say wearily. “What does it matter to you if I go get that championship now or later or never?”

“We all care.” Bugsy grows serious. “We don't like seeing you like this.”

“And becoming a double champion is going to solve all my problems?”

“It’s not about the championship. But you need something to take your mind off it all, a push to get out there again, one step at a time. The sooner you find something to do, the sooner things will start to get better.”

His words make sense, but I can’t stop the anger from flaring up again. He sounds like... “Gary put you up to this, didn’t he? I’m tired of everyone telling me what I’m supposed to do. I shouldn’t have even let you in! Get out.”

He shrinks back, knowing he's crossed a line. “Sorry, I'll just... go. Sorry.” He sets the Slowpoke down on the floor and dives out of the room. Inferno’s ears twitch after a moment, hopefully from hearing the front door close.

He left me the godsdamn Slowpoke.

My lack of the will to move wins out over my desire to go running and yelling after him. Inferno's looking at me with his most pleading can-we-keep-him expression, and the Slowpoke is looking at me with a typical dopey grin.

I close my eyes. This is way too much looking for me to handle.

Thump. A familiar warm form lands next to me on the couch.

“Inferno,” I protest with extreme futility.

Shuffle. Shuffle. Shuffle. Shhhhhhhhrrrrrffffffffff. Gradually, a second figure drags itself up to join us.

Calvin.” I don't open my eyes, in the hopes that he'll go away.

But he doesn't, of course. The three of us sit together on the couch in a cluster of warmth and blankets and stubbornness

And soon enough, I fall asleep.




***​




The first thing I panic about upon waking is the absence of a mug in my hands. Please don't tell me I managed to doze off and spill tea everywhere--

My eyes open to reveal a pink shape at my side, curled up in contentment around what is clearly an empty mug of tea.

Bugsy brought me a thieving, tea-drinking Slowpoke. Great.

Said Slowpoke looks at me, still smiling, and then yawns very, very slowly. My involuntary smile quickly stretches into a yawn as well.

There's a nudge on my other side. I turn and meet the eyes of my Quilava, still pleading, but now looking a little smug as well.

I know he wants to keep battling, wants to rebuild the team and go get that championship he's wanted all his life, but I can't lose him too. I can't lose anyone else, ever.

But he’s Inferno. I could plan to stay here forever where things feel safer, and he could still die from a training accident or something even more mundane at any moment. Is it unfair, to hold him back because of my own fear? To let his dream -- my dream? -- die in a department store basement along with them? I don't know how long I'm going to have him, so shouldn't I let him do this before it's too late? And if I don’t, what else am I going to do with my life? I can’t just stay here and do nothing forever, as appealing as it might sound right now.

Someone clears their throat, snapping me to attention. I look over to the other couch, which Gary is seated on, eyebrows raised. I'm sure he already took a picture of us, much like I did with Silver and Chomp on --

No. Don't think about that day.

“Don't think I'm going to fall for your clever plan, Gary.”

He blinks at me as innocently as Bugsy did. “What plan? I didn't bring you this Slowpoke. But I do appreciate your acknowledgement that I'm clever.” A cautious grin.

I'm having none of it. “Am I that much of a burden to you? You don't want me hanging around your house anymore?”

The smile falls off his face and shatters. “What? No! You know that's not -- you can stay here as long as you want, okay? Always .”

The absolute sincerity in his voice almost gets me crying already, so I say nothing.

“Okay, yes, I talked to Bugsy. But don't you remember that time you showed up at the lab in a panic three years ago, and I convinced you to get back into training?”

“Well, the training was kind of a side effect of trying to find Isabel.”

“But I told you you should do it, and you did. Because it was what you needed. What we both needed. You practically locked yourself in your basement for five years and barely talked to me! You might have gone right back there if I hadn’t. I wasn't going to let that continue. Don't tell me that wasn't the right thing to do, because I don't believe it.”

Who would I be, if I hadn't gone? I've lost so much, and I've gained so much. I don't know how to balance it all out.

I don't know how to stop these words from coming, either. “How do you know what's right for me? You don't know what it's like, and we should both stop pretending that you do. You haven't lost a Pokemon, ever. Killing one isn't the same thing.”

He flinches back, eyes wide with shock and hurt. What am I saying? That whole situation was all because of me . I don't mean that, I don't --

“Gary, I didn't mean--”

He shakes his head. “No, you're right. I don't know. I'm glad I don't, but on some level I wish I did, because it's not fair. It's not right that all this stuff happens to you and I can't do anything about it. And that's why I push you like this, because it's all I know how to do. Because I hate seeing you retreat into yourself like you did all those years ago. You came alive again because of the Kanto league, and I want that Tessa back.”

And now I'm crying. “I still shouldn't have said that. I didn’t mean it. You haven’t lost Pokemon, but trauma isn't a competition, and what happened to you was terrible, too.”

“Tess, it’s okay. That was a long time ago.” He’s looking away.

“It’s not okay. I know you’re not over it. I’m not either. And I know I’m not doing a good job of dealing with this new situation. I’m sorry. I’m not mad at you. I’m just... mad.” I close my eyes, which doesn’t stop the tears from coming. “And sad. And a lot of things. That all goes without saying, I guess, but I haven’t said any of it yet. It’s been too hard to talk about -- about them.”

“I know. But I’m here to listen, whenever you do want to talk.”

I take a shaky breath. “I know. And you’re right. I can’t just sit around moping forever. I don't want to. Not again. They wouldn’t want me to, either. I just don't know if I'm ready yet.”

I can barely hear through my own sniffling, but I think he’s crying, too. “Okay. Just... let me know if I can do anything else to help. Even if that means backing off and not pestering you. Anything.”

What did I ever do to deserve a friend like Gary Oak? I did push him away too much, but somehow he’s still here, and I shouldn’t push him away anymore.

“Well, you can stop taking up that entire couch when there's still plenty of space over here.” I unwrap my blanket a bit for emphasis.

It takes a moment, but he tentatively comes over and wraps himself into the blanket with me so I can rest my head on his shoulder. Inferno, quite happy about this arrangement, stretches out across both of us and snuggles in. Even the godsdamn Slowpoke eventually makes a contented sound and cuddles closer.

At first it's a little awkward, since we don't usually show affection like this, always so caught up in our banter and our rivalry and our determination to prove that we’re okay . But Gary Oak is my best friend, and sometimes you just need to cry together with your best friend in a blanket along with your starter and a Slowpoke that said best friend has foisted upon you.

So that's exactly what we do.
Say hello to Calvin, our newest teammate! There were three things I was looking for while trying to build the team up again:

1. Bulk. I wanted someone who couldn't easily be killed by explosions and things like that.

2. Someone who could learn an ice move for dealing with Clair and Lance.

3. A psychic type! Because, as you may have noticed, I'm rather fond of them.

And sure, I could have tried to find three separate Pokemon for that, but wouldn't you know it, Slowpoke fits ALL THREE of those criteria! I didn't actually have an encounter for Slowpoke Well yet, so I backtracked there and down to the lower floor to catch one. Despite psychic and water being my two favourite types, I had never actually used a Slowpoke before, and I was looking forward to it!

Tessa having some hearing loss wasn't originally planned, but while I was editing these chapters I realized there would likely be some side effects from an explosion like that, even from within a shield. I haven't worked it into the later chapters yet but I'm going to do my best to do a good job of it! It's not super severe, mostly for more distant noises, and she can usually hear people okay if they're reasonably close and not mumbling.

I'm not used to writing heartfelt conversations like that, but I hope you liked the last part of the chapter! I swear Tessa and Gary's friendship makes me more emotional than the death scenes. I love these two sad dorks 😭
 

Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
973
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'm not much of a trainer, not if I get half my team killed.
But Tessa..! The goal was to kill you all..!

>Bugsy brings a Slowpoke
AAHH THAT MAKES SENSE


Also, Slowpoke are adorable.

>Calvin cuddles Tessa immediately
P R O T E C C

“Don't think I'm going to fall for your clever plan, Gary.”

He blinks at me as innocently as Bugsy did. “What plan? I didn't bring you this Slowpoke. But I do appreciate your acknowledgement that I'm clever.” A cautious grin.
Gary:


I'm glad that lashing out at Gary has made Tessa realize that she is a problem. And running away isn't the solution.
At first it's a little awkward, since we don't usually show affection like this, always so caught up in our banter and our rivalry and our determination to prove that we’re okay . But Gary Oak is my best friend, and sometimes you just need to cry together with your best friend in a blanket along with your starter and a Slowpoke that said best friend has foisted upon you.
But cuddling helps!

>hearing loss from explosion
eyyyy Dakota says hi!
 

QuietGuardian

Conqueror of the Goldenrod Gym
🌱Featurer
Screenshotter
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
33
Caught
Jun 10, 2019
Messages
245
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Ground
Best friend Gary is best Gary.

And so we start to rebuild! The question is, which route did you decide to go down with Calvin's evolution? I definitely have a preference, but I'll wait to see what you did.
 

cyndakip

there goes my luck
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
278
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #117
@Bowser's Family Vacation Slowpoke are very adorable! I never really thought too much about them before this, but now I love them a lot.


@QuietGuardian I'm guessing your preference is Slowking? Either way, you won't have long to wait to find out!

Well, I was going to make this meme and post it along with my notes for the previous chapter, and then I totally forgot! But I have too much time on my hands, so I still made it, and now I'm going to inflict it upon you all anyway. Please excuse the MS Paint-ness of it, and the fact that it exists at all.


...And here's the chapter!

I'm being watched.

The uneasy feeling creeps into my dream, and continues until I open my eyes. Staring unblinkingly back at me is -- what -- who -- oh, the godsdamn Slowpoke. I can't believe that wasn't a dream.

“What do you want?” I ask wearily. Calvin offers no response. I guess the rest of my team has already recruited him into the Tessa Is Not Allowed To Sleep Society.

Inferno actually bounces up from where he's lying, invigorated by having a new teammate around. One little Slowpoke can't solve all our problems, but it's nice to see him so happy.

Gary's waiting for us in the kitchen, since it's his day off. He smiles at me and Inferno, and once Calvin eventually manages to trot in to join us, he smiles at him too.

“Congratulations, you have successfully gotten this Slowpoke to stick to me. My life has improved dramatically.”

The smile slips a bit. “Aw, come on, Tess…”

I slide into a chair. “Okay, let's pretend for a moment that I manage to overcome everything and I start training everyone properly again. That's still only two-thirds of a normal team. I don't even know where I'd begin looking for two others that are a good fit.” I briefly think about pestering Bill for another Eevee, but no. That really would be trying to replace Ravi, much more than I've apparently already done with this Slowpoke.

There's only one Ravi. One Sequoia. One Regina.

And they're all gone.

“So don't,” Gary says, snapping me back to the present. “You know it can be done with five, so why not four? Others have done it with even less.”

The idea of deliberately walking into Indigo Plateau with four Pokemon is both absurd and terrifying, not to mention unrealistic. “What makes you think I'll even have four? I don't know if Calvin can fight, I don't know if Hazel and Finn will fight, and Inferno…” I look at my Quilava’s eager face, and then I can't anymore.

“So find out.”

Calvin has finally made his way to the table, and he nudges my leg. I look down at his placidly smiling face, and my heart gets dangerously close to melting again.

“You want to battle, Cal?”

A very, very slow nod.

I sigh. “Fine. We can start training today.” It's either that or sit around, and I know Inferno’s going to be training anyway.

Inferno bounces with excitement again. Calvin, not exactly the bouncing type, just continues smiling. Gary’s smiling too, perhaps a little too smugly. Curse my weakness for psychic types and adorable Pokemon! They've hit me with a double whammy here.

Ravi was both of those things too, and now he's gone. I can't let the same thing happen to Calvin. I won't.

I always say that, and yet I always still manage to prove myself wrong.

“Hey,” Gary says quietly, trying to break me out of the obvious mindset I'm in. “It's just training, for now. Don't worry about where you might be going afterwards.”

Where can I go but the league, for Inferno? For me? I could wait a day or a month or a year, or five years, and I know I'll still end up there eventually.

And I don't know if I'll ever be ready.

I'm dragged out of my head again by a different head emerging from a cupboard. Hazel's face peeks out shyly, intrigued by the newcomer. Since Calvin isn't one to make any sudden movements, it isn't long before she slinks out and starts sniffing him curiously. Apparently she approves, because she stays out in the open.

“Want to go down and meet your other teammate, then? I ask. I'm sure he's met most of my old team already, nosey interfering Pokemon that they are.

Another very slow nod.

“Want me to come too?” Gary asks.

I shake my head. Laurel’s at the lab, and the others are who knows where, but that's the way it should be. I can't expect everyone to cling to me forever.

And so I set out on the path with three Pokemon. If I want to get there before the next century, I have to carry Calvin, which means that my arms aren't free to catch myself if I slip. But Inferno walks in front of me, fiery paw steps melting the ice into safe patches. Hazel follows both of us, deciding that if I can stop hiding for a moment, she can too.

The same number of Pokemon are waiting for us. Maren's floating in her typical spot close to the shore, as if she's always wanting to be ready to greet us. Perched on top of her head is Cora, quieter than usual, as if she's contemplating something. Finn can't be bothered to show his face yet, but I see some telltale ripples.

I gently place Calvin on the ground, and he starts making his gradual way towards the water. Despite their typing, Slowpoke aren't the best swimmers around, but at least the cold shouldn't bother him through all that bulk.

Cora flits over to join us. <Hey.> An uncharacteristic lack of exclamation marks.

“Hey, Coco. We were going to be doing some training. Want to help out with Calvin?”

A flicker of emotion. <You sure?>

“Of course. You taught Ravi so well. Don't you know that? It was all because of you that he was even able to do what he did.” That he was able to save me. Just me.

No, not just me. Countless other lives. What's three, weighed against that?

Everything.

Cora gently pokes at my mind, concerned. Damn it, I'm supposed to be reassuring her.

“It's okay, Coco.” The traditional lie. “Don't worry about me. Don't worry about yourself, either. I trust you to teach him everything.”

<Talking?> she asks curiously.

“He might gain a small amount of telepathic or empathic powers when he evolves -- well, he'll gain a lot if he ends up as a Slowking, but that probably won’t be happening, since I don’t have a King’s Rock -- but his psychic talents are mostly going to lie in telekinesis.” The facts come to me easily, something straightforward and constant that I can hold on to.

<Hmm…>

I leave her contemplating training techniques and turn back to the ocean, where a glowing head has broken through the surface. Directly facing the Lanturn, front paws only just now touching the water, is Calvin. Inferno is prancing around nearby, and Hazel hangs back a little but still looks on with perhaps a faint hint of wistfulness.

“Hey, Finn,” I say. “I know you want to hide yourself away. I get it. I do, too. And I know I messed up. I’m sorry for that, and I’m sorry this journey hasn’t been what I promised, and -- well, I’m sorry for a lot of things. But why not come and train with us again? You love battling. I won't make you leave the water, and I won't make you leave Pallet Town. But I don't want to stay like this forever, and I don't think you do either.”

I watch his light shining, illuminating the conflicted look on his face.

And then a splash as he finally, finally leaps out of the water.

It's a start, for all of us. A small step forward.




***​




We train. The four of them train against each other, against the rest of my team, against Gary's team. Single and double and free-for-all, every method I can think of. There's nothing else to do but mope, and this is a more pleasant activity, even if it scares me now and then.

With Cora to give him psychic training and Finn to give him water training, Calvin soon becomes a force to be reckoned with. He's not very fast, of course, but he can dish out a lot of damage from wherever he's standing and take a lot of hits, too.

It's helping Finn to wake up again, having something like this to do. He’s a good fighting partner for Calvin, and I quickly become interested in doing more doubles training, since the two of them can just swamp the entire battlefield with water and not bother each other in the slightest as long as Finn is very careful with his electricity. Just for the heck of it, I train Inferno and Hazel in doubles as well, especially with each other. The two of them work quite naturally together, since they’ve been on the team the longest and already know each other's fighting styles so well. Together, they can hit fast and hard, and having a battle partner makes things a little easier on Inferno.

Getting back into the rhythm helps. Training is a fun challenge -- what new and interesting ways can I think of to improve their fighting skills? I throw myself into it and try very, very hard not to think about everyone who's no longer there to train with us.

I’m not worried about hearing when I’m at the league, since all trainers wear microphones in official battles. It’s getting into a match with some random trainer on the way there that worries me. What if I can’t hear what they’re telling their Pokemon? I practice in plenty of matches with Gary to see how far away he can get before I barely understand him, and it turns out that the answer is not nearly as far as I’d like. I resign to not challenge any trainers along the way, which I don’t consider much of a loss.

It’s the wild Pokemon that worry me a bit -- what if I don’t hear them approaching? But with Inferno and Hazel’s excellent ears (not to mention Inferno’s tendency to be magnetically drawn to anything he can fight), it shouldn’t be a problem. I’m already better than I was right after the explosion, and with any luck, my hearing might even get back to normal at some point. I’m just afraid that if I wait around for normal, I’ll never leave.

Or that normal will never come back.

So instead, I’m taking on the Johto league with a partial team and partial hearing, and trying to convince myself it’s not a terrible idea.

But the Johto league, at least, has never hurt me, and I shouldn't run into Team Rocket again if I set out. Proton and Ariana were captured, Archer’s dead, Giovanni never stopped being in jail, and the organization has well and truly fallen apart this time. After Kanto, we knew some of them were still out there, plotting things, but there's no one left to plot anymore this time.

That doesn’t mean I'm not terrified to set one foot out of this town.

It gets a little easier every day, though. I don't stop missing them, ever, but that wound slowly starts to close over. Faded, but always there, like the scars on my hands.

It's not long before I look at the four of them and think they're ready . It sounds crazy, going on with only four, but... a Slowbro with Ice Punch goes a long way, once I can turn Calvin into that.

This can't fix my problems. This can't bring them back. I could go out and win every league championship in the world, but what would that even mean? What do I do, after I come back from Indigo Plateau? I don't want to go back to New Bark, don't want to spend the rest of my days failing at training starters.

Did I fail at training Inferno? No. But I failed at doing my job, and look where it got me. I'd still be safely, peacefully (frustratingly) sitting around Elm’s lab if it weren't for Silver and this stubborn Quilava.

I suppose I'm stubborn, too. It's why I'm still here.




***​



The day my mother arrives is yet another cold day of training. I always expect her to call, or fly in on Isabel, so it's a surprise when she materializes next to some Alakazam she's borrowed from a colleague, instantly shivering in the frosty air.

My Pokemon all stop what they're doing and give her curious glances. She looks back with her analytic gaze, then turns to me, seemingly satisfied.

“They're looking ready to take on the league.”

“They are ready.” I hope they are.

She takes a few steps forward. Nervous. Awkward. It's the way things are between us now, but they've been worse. I know she wishes I would stay with her instead of Gary, but I can't go back to that big city with its bad memories. Not now.

“You're leaving tomorrow?”

Supposedly. Training in the Ice Path, then finally on to Blackthorn. Not entirely sure how I'm getting there, since I hate relying on everyone else for transportation, but I nod.

There's a tentative smile on her face as she pulls out a Pokeball. “Then you'll need this.”

I don't let myself reach for it. “You can't seriously be thinking of lending me Isabel again. I can't... I'm not... last time…”

“I'm not lending her to you.” She takes a deep breath. “I'm giving her to you.”

“What? She's your championship-winning Dragonite. I can't use her to fight in the league, I can't…” I trail off. I can't anything.

“You don't need her to fight, just to fly you around. I want you to keep going places, Tessa. There’s still a whole world out there for you to see, if you choose to. I rarely battle now, and you've done so much for her, and…” she bites her lip. “She always liked you better anyway.”

Almost without thinking, my fingers reach out and brush the Pokeball, and the smooth round shape slides into my hand like it was meant to be there. I blink at it through a haze of tears.

“Mom, I--” I can't. I'm sorry. I don't deserve this.

“You're a fighter,” she says, pulling me into a hug that I don't resist. “So get back out there and fight.”
No, Isabel doesn't represent an in-game catch. I really did decide to go on with just four Pokemon! Was this a bad idea? Maybe. I'm not telling. :P But while they may not be the strongest or most balanced team around, they're my team, and I love them anyway!

... seriously, I looked at what I had in the PC, and I looked at potential future encounters, and there was just nothing I really wanted to use, or felt that I needed. Plus, the idea of grinding up half a team, especially with this game’s terrible level curve, kind of horrified me. Training up Calvin was bad enough!

And yes, while we haven't actually gotten to evolution yet, I did plan to make Calvin a Slowbro. I like Slowking’s design better, but I kind of have an unwritten rule about not allowing trade evolutions (if only for the reason that I can't be bothered to hack them in), so Slowbro it is!

As for Isabel... it certainly wasn't planned from the beginning of all this that she would end up becoming Tessa's Pokemon. I didn't expect to have such bad luck with Pokemon who could transport her places! But at this point in the story, she really needed a convenient method of getting around, so it's a good thing there's already a convenient Dragonite in the story! We've kind of come full circle here, and I like the way it's turned out.

Speaking of full circle, I wrote the line about Isabel's Pokeball fitting into her hand “as if it was meant to be there” as a callback to the first chapter of The Scientist, because there's a very similar line there (which in that context just meant that she was meant to be a trainer) and I thought it would be cool to see if anyone ever noticed the connection ...and then I realized that while that line had been present for a very long time in the draft of The Scientist, I actually deleted that bit before I posted the first chapter, because I wasn't sure if I liked it! So I've just now gone back and edited it back in. Whoops.

wait, I mean, no, actually, that line was there the whole time! didn't you ever notice it? I totally just didn't put it in there now. definitely 100% always been there. I don't know what you're talking about.


(this is kind of silly because if I hadn’t told you about what I did with the line, I'm sure you would have actually believed it had always been there... but I'd rather not lie to you!)

...sorry if this note got kind of incoherent. I'm tired and my brain is full of Animal Crossing! But next time on The Phoenix... it's finally time to leave Pallet! ...Again.
 

MouseWithADinosaurTail

A Comedian At Heart
Artist
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
47
Caught
Jun 15, 2019
Messages
1,430
Location
Snubbville
Nature
Quirky
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Flying
Pokédex Entry
She's like a sea urchin. Tough and prickly on the outside, but delicate and easily wounded if hit the wrong way. Please handle gently.
Caught up again! I'm glad Tessa is heading on out. I've seen nuzlocke teams take on the Elite Four with a team of five, but never the eighth gym with a team of four. I'm crossing my fingers for Tessa and her ragtag team. And I'm kiiiiiiiinda still praying there's maybe a surprise catch or two down the road.
 

Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
973
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 would love a slowpoke in these trying times my cat is not cuddly like whats even the point :((((

You know, while I think Crystal is easy, and with (special in this generation!) Ice Punch on Calvin, I think your team is well-equipped, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. Thank goodness abilities don't exist in this gen! Sniper on Clair's Kingdra makes her a real threat! That being said, because this is Crystal, grinding is also awful.

Go team Tessa!
 

QuietGuardian

Conqueror of the Goldenrod Gym
🌱Featurer
Screenshotter
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
33
Caught
Jun 10, 2019
Messages
245
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Ground
Hey, if I ever get back to The Saga of Scarlet, you'll see that I'm also of the mind that, sometimes, you have to make do with a team of fewer than six.

You're correct: my preference is Slowking, thanks to not taking longer to learn moves (especially Psychic) and its characteristic of intelligence. But Slowbro's still solid.
 

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