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Thread Description
A Diamond Storylocke. Chapter 70 posted on 9.19.2020 [thread currently under construction]

Rhema

Conqueror of the Azalea Gym
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
212
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
218
Location
Hearthome City
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/Her/Hers
Pokémon Type
Fire, Psychic
Pokédex Entry
She tries her best, but doesn't succeed. She gets what she wants but not what she needs.
It curls into a fist when she turns to face me. "You know who did this to her, don't you?"

Dread coils like a snake in my gut. I swallow hard, and nod.

Searing white explodes into my vision. I vaguely feel the floor rush up to greet me, cold and unforgiving.
I think Dani and Lilan would be best friends, tbh. Dani likes throwing punches and Lilian is slap-happy. Not to mention they've both had to adopt alter-egos to perform their jobs. I'm thinking we need a crossover! ;D

Seriously though, I've missed this fic so much! I remember enough to have read this update on its own, of course, but I really ought to go back and re-read the entire story because you've done one hell of a job with it. I think something I always enjoy about Impulse is just how invested you've got us. It's easy to forget that this is just fiction, because you've really done great work with worldbuilding and fleshing out Nat as a kick-ass main character. I care about her as if she's real! I think immersion like this should be all of our goals as writers.

Update soon! Dying to know what happens next
 

delete_the_clippers

tomorrow ain't promised to no-one
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
231
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
432
Location
ontario
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
he - him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
Pokédex Entry
it was banished for its violence. it silently gazes upon the old world from the distortion world
always had a soft spot for this run tbh; this was one of the runs that got me into nuzlocke writing way back when and I've always found myself returning to it whenever I just want to read. it's been a long catchup but now that I'm through it I wanted to pop in and say something

there's a certain stark beauty to the way that you write that sings through pretty much everything in this story - not quite minimalistic but somewhere between taut and fraught and it's gained in depth and feeling as the story's gone on. the last few chapters in particular have brought it out (particularly with nat's stay back home), even as the plot details start to crescendo. it's really impressive how you can mix strong prose with a feel that remains intimate and personal, and yeah it's really good.

for what it's worth I also love how you've interpreted sinnoh as well, and how it balances the game's interpretation of the rural, mud-and-snow region with the dynamics of a journey and the trainer challenge. it's really interesting to see nat transition from one segment of the world into another, with all that that entails, and how she grapples with the challenges along the way, but the vastness of the world and yet how it feels established and lived-in is definitely really impressive.

and I'd be lying is I said nat wasn't one of the best protagonists I've ever read - there's an interesting balance to her, where she starts out as dislikeable but at the same time her flaws are relateable and familiar, and her worst decisions spring out of her fears and self-doubts more than anything else. she's caught a rough gig, but it's also been touching to see her steadily grow out of her shell, to get over her fear of pokemon and start making connections with other people, however slow and rocky the process has been. and I think last chapter was a watershed in that she makes the conscious decision to lay all her cards out and trust, even if it means other people will think worse of her, because she's looking beyond herself for once. a++ character development basically, it's amazing how you've kept this going for so long but the payoff is worth it.

anyways I'm definitely interested to see where this story goes from here, with the galactic arc of the main story and all, and I can't wait to see it roll out. big kudos for carrying this story so far and writing it so well oo
 

spikesgirl1

Lugia Worshiper
Pokédex No.
446
Caught
Jul 9, 2019
Messages
53
Pokémon Type
Fire, Ghost
I was so sure I'd read the recent couple chapters but turns out I haven't been checking here as often as I thought! Excellent work, Aurea - really looking forward to Nat getting back on her feet and getting things done soon. Honesty definitely was the right step in that direction. :)
 

Garish Garchomp

Friendly Neighborhood Landshark
Administrator
Moderator
🌱Featurer
Writer
Pokédex No.
43
Caught
Jun 12, 2019
Messages
528
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
He/Him
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Psychic
Pokédex Entry
he's ok i guess
I cannot repeat myself enough or stress this enough: Dani is the true hero of this run. She doesn’t give a shit (but also gives exactly the right amount of shits), knows what she’s doing like all the time every time, and is legitimately the only character I can think of who would absolutely haul ass across the region to a bum-ass small town in order to punch an acquaintance out, hand them ice for that punch, and then offers a helping hand. Just, what a goddamn badass.

That punch is hella symbolic though, because finally, fucking finally, we’ve reached a turning point. Nat’s still got her tail tucked so tight she may never again be able to take a piss, but at least now she’s skulking in the right direction. It’s hard to really compliment her too much when it’s kinda just the only option left to actually open up a bit, but it still takes some strength to do that and at least try to stay in the ring for one more round. I really, honestly love how you’re going about this though. Even when she’s picking herself back up off the mat, she’s still getting stamped on and scratched up and distrusted and just straight leered at by Dani and the lab peeps and even Chase, and rightfully so. I’ve been thinking lately about types of nuzlocke protagonists, and I legitimately think Nat’s type is my favorite to read just for the sheer struggle, the sheer graft, and this chapter (while it requires hella context to appreciate) is a wonderful example of that. She’s eternally a wounded puppy with a pack of cigs, but god if she hasn’t made it this far, and god if there still ain’t a long ways for her to still go too.
 

Aurea

Moderator
Moderator
🎇Contributor
Writer
Pokédex No.
25
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
732
Location
Sinnoh Region
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Psychic, Steel
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #765
Surprise! A chapter that didn't take a full year to write. :') Decided to focus on Impulse during Camp Nano, and managed to crank out this chapter and part of the next.

RECAP
Chapter 68
  • Dani arrives in Twinleaf, and punches Nat in the face when she learns the truth from her. She agrees to take Vera with her and seek treatment for her, while keeping her safe from the League.
  • Unsure of what else to do with her revelation regarding Lake Verity, she seeks help from Lucas and Rowan. She tells them the full truth, which Rowan takes in stride. Lucas about has a coronary. Standard stuff.
  • With everything they're up against and given Chase's prior research, Lucas and Rowan decide that he needs to be brought into the loop. Nat heavily protests because she wants to keep him out of harm's way (and because they didn't part on great terms), but she's outvoted.
  • She tells Chase the full truth, and he doesn't believe her until he get confirmation from Rowan, which stings.
  • They develop a plan for Lucas to travel to Lake Valor, and Chase to Lake Acuity to assess the situation and see if their concerns are justified. Nat is left behind in Twinleaf. Which is where we leave off!

REPLIES
I just went back and reread chapter 66 and, I miss Nat and Chase so much 😭 I want things to be good between them again... For him to not feel like this about her:
Which still hurts me btw. will I ever be over riley, no

But god I missed your characters and your writing so much, and -- 8 years!! I can't believe it. Huge congrats on sticking with this story for so long. I'll be here however long it takes to finish this wonderful story ;w; Happy birthday, Impulse!
I miss them, too... ;; I'd say I'm sorry about that still hurting you, but I think we both know at this point that that's a lie... c; I can't say it enough, thank you so much for your support and encouragement over the years. Impulse legit would not be around without you, I don't deserve a friend as wonderful as you. 💙

This was the perfect chapter to come back with! Every bullet is bitten and suddenly the story seems so open. I can't wait to see how you interpret the really plot-heavy half of Sinnoh. The conversation with Chase.... that stung, oh boy. Chase can't throw a punch like Dani, but unerring patience is probably worse for a self-deprecating gal like Nat. She's walking around with two black eyes, even if only one bruises. That said, if any violence befalls Chase there will be HELL to pay.

Impulse has always been a huge inspiration/motivation for me, and I'm feeling blessed with this chapter right now. The pandemic blues are a real pain, but I know you can push through. Take care of yourself and write!!!
Aaaah, thank you! I'm very excited for this arc to come to a close and get back into the plot-heavy stuff. You're right that Nat would rather have two black eyes than have Chase be upset with her, it's eating her up inside. (I can make no guarantees about his safety). Considering I admire your writing a TON, you don't know how much it means to hear that you ever got so much as a shred of inspiration from Impulse. 😭

Happy Eight Years, girl!!! Your dedication and determination to stick with this story after so long is inspiring af, you're my hero.

Things are moving! I'm so excited to see the group rally and move, even if relationships are shaky and half these interactions come straight for the jugular. Nat is just on everyone's shitlist right now, and idk just how deserved it is, but goddamn. At least she's trying. ;;; So, so happy Chase is getting back into the action and that Vera is going to get the medical attention she needs. I hope she's okay...

btw Dani just showing up in a cocktail dress and barefoot in the snow is some BDE.
No you! 😭 (Really though, thank you, ilu 💜 )

I'm glad that you're a little conflicted on how deserved it is! Don't get me wrong, Nat's kind of a coward, and she's definitely not made the best choices, but also... she's 19 years old. She's not always going to get it right. (But still, somewhat deserved, even if she's trying now). I'm now going to start reading BDE as Big Dani Energy and no one can tell me otherwise. xD

Dani? Cocktail dress? No heels no coat in the snow? God what a bad bitch.

Anyways, as much as I love/hate Nat I'm pleased as puffed that she got decked the hell out. But as things go, i really hope she STOPS getting decked. Physically or just by life in general. I'm just ready for her to FIGHT BACK yanno? She's overdue to start really caring enough about others to do something about it all, so I'm glad she's finally taken a step in the right direction.

Also, I have such a soft spot for Chase and Nat's relationship so I'm itching for them to come clean and mend fences. I think it's also because they're really my Josey and Hugh, but to the left and a lot more nuanced. I love how you get characters into realistic fights and begrudging acceptance.

I'm also in awe that after so long ITS STILL GOING. 8 years? Bitch not me, you have hella dedication. Here's hoping to see how everything finally comes to a head, and here's hoping summer snaps and brings with it excellent mental health for you!
Dani is everything I aspire to be. I feel you, I think we're all ready for that! Except Nat, but. She's close, I promise. I'm hoping the payoff will be worth it, but still in-character for her. Trust me it KILLS me to have Nat and Chase at odds, but. It shouldn't be that way for too long. I'm glad it all feels nuanced and realistic, even after so long. xD Thank you for the well wishes! Summer did not snap, but I finally kicked the winter blues so that's got to count for something. Appreciate all the support from my nuzforum friends. ❤

Dang I forgot about this one. Glad to finally see another update. Everyone is getting right now which will continue for maybe like 2 more updates then they’ll hate each other again
xD They all still sorta hate each other right now, but Nat is at least working toward a change. We'll see how that all works out for her soon.

Back with an immediate bang. All of what, 150 words in to start the chapter and it's tension and back and forth right away. It honestly didn't even take a whole lot of catching up to get back into the thick of it because right away everything came flooding back.

I'm loving the fact that Toby and Clementine are sticking up for Nat and are about ready to go to war for her. Of all the 'mons to get ready to throw down, I wouldn't've imagined they'd be ready to sit Dani's ass down--or at least try lol. The 'even my face out' bit is such a spot on way to subtly throw in Nat's personality; straight up socked in the face and reeling from it and still has the presence of mind to think a bit of bitter sarcasm about the potential of being hit again.

Man. Suck it up, apologize for punching her lol. To be honest, as tough as Dani is, she probably got off a bit lucky. Feel like Mom was about to throw down if it weren't for Nat calling her off. Can't just go into someone's home, punch their child, and expect them not to throw hands back.

It's so fun with your Rowan coming back. I've loved how you've represented him, and while Sinnoh hasn't ever been one of my favorite regions, he's hands down been one of the best professors. He's always been on Nat's side and hasn't ever really bullshitted her with his pretty matter of fact personality; him telling Lucas to chill or gtfo got a laugh out of me, cause it's such a small but consistent bit of character building for him you've done lol.

Aw that's a dirty move, with the Willow comparison. Come on, man, don't do me like this.

Even after their last interaction, the fact Chase starts the conversation with asking how Nat's doing goes to show how good a dude he is. Guy's first instinct is to put others first, even after having a heavy disagreement. That said, it kinda sucks to hear him make her have Rowan reiterate what she said. Doesn't quite come across as entirely distrusting, what with how heavy everything is, but on better terms and in a better situation he definitely wouldn't've 'fact checked' her that way.

The little things you've always done with Chase sticking to his 'Barry' roots makes me smile. Chase is more serious of course, but he still has that 'Gotta go fast!' attitude, and Nat hearing him zipping up his coat doubles down on that. He is nothing if not a man of action.

I mean, let's be real. A storm couldn't stop Rowan. He's just blow at it and it'd reverse course.

This was a super fun chapter. Don't even worry about the hiatus, it was awesome to come back to everybody acting in rare form. Don't worry too, if you gotta take a bit to keep chugging along. Shit's dope, man. Take whatever time you need, short or long, and do what you want when you can. We all out here ready to read when you give us more lol.
Aaaaa you don't know how glad I am to hear that it didn't take too long to get back into it? I was worried, going a full year between posting. ;; Hehe yeah, I was sorta surprised myself when the two pastel-colored blobs were the ones that ended up defending her? But it made me chuckle. I'm so happy you picked up on the 'even my face out' line, because I was happy with it when I wrote it. I definitely think it fits Nat's mentality right now. It's so interesting to me to see who all felt the punch was deserved and who feels it wasn't. xD But yes, Nat's mom is no stranger to fighting, and she'd get her ass kicked because Dani is trained, but she'd put up a decent fight. (and you caught the Willow reference too, bless you ;w; )

Aaah, yes! I didn't want to erase those Barry roots entirely, but I wanted Chase to be fully competent since we have, well, Nat as our protag. He still cares about her, but yeah, there's not a lot of trust there at the moment. Shit hurt to write, so I'm glad it hurt to read, too.

Thank you for such a wonderful comment, Astro!

I might be alone in thinking Nat didn't deserve that punch. At least get her an apology! The cave-in wasn't her fault, and they threatened her family... that's some real shit right there

But as intense as the convo with Dani was, I'm intrigued that Rowan and Chase are onboard now too. Something tells me that Chase is going to have the rug pulled out from under him soon... I only hope he doesn't wind up in too much hot water!

Happy 8th anni, Impulse! It's great to see you back :D
Truth be told, I'm surprised to see the split reaction! Though there's definitely a lot of gray area with Nat, so I'm happy to see people being torn about that, too. She's definitely been through a lot, for a 19 yr old (or anyone, tbh), and in the real world not all people are so quick to be recklessly selfless like Chase. It's fun to have Rowan and Lucas in this now, and as for Chase... c;

I didn't expect her to tell them.

Like, cards on the table; I 100% didn't expect her to tell them the truth. Self-preservation, selfishness, shame; that's what defines Nat. It's an incredible mark that she said anything at all, and an even bigger indicator of her character development that she told the truth.

This chapter keeps the momentum of the story moving, speeding it back up after Nat's break. It's paced very well. Keep it up!
Honestly I was legit in the middle of writing it and still wasn't 100% sure how I was going to make it happen believably. xD But! Growth, sorta!! Those things absolutely define her, and that hasn't really changed at her core, not fully... but she's tired. She's been pushed to her limits. And hey, it only took 8 years! :'D But we finally see some character growth, no matter how non-linear and slow it may be.

I'm so glad you felt the pacing was good, because I've definitely felt a little out of sync after being away from this for so long... thank yor, War!

I think Dani and Lilan would be best friends, tbh. Dani likes throwing punches and Lilian is slap-happy. Not to mention they've both had to adopt alter-egos to perform their jobs. I'm thinking we need a crossover! ;D

Seriously though, I've missed this fic so much! I remember enough to have read this update on its own, of course, but I really ought to go back and re-read the entire story because you've done one hell of a job with it. I think something I always enjoy about Impulse is just how invested you've got us. It's easy to forget that this is just fiction, because you've really done great work with worldbuilding and fleshing out Nat as a kick-ass main character. I care about her as if she's real! I think immersion like this should be all of our goals as writers.

Update soon! Dying to know what happens next
xD omg I didn't even consider that, they probably would get along well! And thank you so much, aaaaa. It means so much that you still feel invested after all this time, and that the world and characterbuilding still stands out to you. Thank you, Rhema! ^^

always had a soft spot for this run tbh; this was one of the runs that got me into nuzlocke writing way back when and I've always found myself returning to it whenever I just want to read. it's been a long catchup but now that I'm through it I wanted to pop in and say something

there's a certain stark beauty to the way that you write that sings through pretty much everything in this story - not quite minimalistic but somewhere between taut and fraught and it's gained in depth and feeling as the story's gone on. the last few chapters in particular have brought it out (particularly with nat's stay back home), even as the plot details start to crescendo. it's really impressive how you can mix strong prose with a feel that remains intimate and personal, and yeah it's really good.

for what it's worth I also love how you've interpreted sinnoh as well, and how it balances the game's interpretation of the rural, mud-and-snow region with the dynamics of a journey and the trainer challenge. it's really interesting to see nat transition from one segment of the world into another, with all that that entails, and how she grapples with the challenges along the way, but the vastness of the world and yet how it feels established and lived-in is definitely really impressive.

and I'd be lying is I said nat wasn't one of the best protagonists I've ever read - there's an interesting balance to her, where she starts out as dislikeable but at the same time her flaws are relateable and familiar, and her worst decisions spring out of her fears and self-doubts more than anything else. she's caught a rough gig, but it's also been touching to see her steadily grow out of her shell, to get over her fear of pokemon and start making connections with other people, however slow and rocky the process has been. and I think last chapter was a watershed in that she makes the conscious decision to lay all her cards out and trust, even if it means other people will think worse of her, because she's looking beyond herself for once. a++ character development basically, it's amazing how you've kept this going for so long but the payoff is worth it.

anyways I'm definitely interested to see where this story goes from here, with the galactic arc of the main story and all, and I can't wait to see it roll out. big kudos for carrying this story so far and writing it so well oo
Oh wow, hey! I had no idea that Impulse was one of the runs that got you started on nuzlocke writing, thank you for sharing that with me, it's honestly incredible to hear. ;w; And thank you as well for taking the time to drop a comment after you caught up!

You don't know how much it means to hear you say my writing is somewhere between taught and fraught. I've never kidded myself in thinking I'd be any good at minimalistic writing (I have a great admiration for people who are, I'm just longwinded af...), but I definitely was a lot more on the fraught side when I first started writing. I've tried to make a conscious effort to tighten things up over the years (taking cues from some of the great writers here), so I'm happy to hear there's been at least some payoff there. It's something I'm still trying to work on to this day.

Sinnoh has been so fun to reimagine, and I've taken a lot of influence from my upbringing growing up in kinda the middle of nowhere. Made me feel somewhat at home even when I was physically living hours away. Also, it makes me so happy that you think Nat is one of the best protags you've read... I've honestly poured my heart and soul into her, she's evolved so much over time in ways I hadn't even predicted, which has been rewarding to write and I'm so thankful that's translated to something enjoyable to read. I'm also so appreciative of everyone who's stuck through the story to this point, because she's been something of a delicate balancing act, and so so slow to progress. Last chapter was a turning point for sure, and the end of this arc marks some actual demonstrable growth on her part. I'm so excited to share it with y'all.

Thank you for taking the time to read and share your thoughts, it means a lot!

I was so sure I'd read the recent couple chapters but turns out I haven't been checking here as often as I thought! Excellent work, Aurea - really looking forward to Nat getting back on her feet and getting things done soon. Honesty definitely was the right step in that direction. :)
To be fair, this story is so slow-going that I don't blame you for not checking in too often! Lol. But I sincerely appreciate you sticking with me this long. It was definitely a step in the right direction for Nat. Granted, things are always two steps forward, one giant step back for Nat, but the end of this arc marks a turning point for her, and I'm so ready to keep pushing her forward!

I cannot repeat myself enough or stress this enough: Dani is the true hero of this run. She doesn’t give a shit (but also gives exactly the right amount of shits), knows what she’s doing like all the time every time, and is legitimately the only character I can think of who would absolutely haul ass across the region to a bum-ass small town in order to punch an acquaintance out, hand them ice for that punch, and then offers a helping hand. Just, what a goddamn badass.

That punch is hella symbolic though, because finally, fucking finally, we’ve reached a turning point. Nat’s still got her tail tucked so tight she may never again be able to take a piss, but at least now she’s skulking in the right direction. It’s hard to really compliment her too much when it’s kinda just the only option left to actually open up a bit, but it still takes some strength to do that and at least try to stay in the ring for one more round. I really, honestly love how you’re going about this though. Even when she’s picking herself back up off the mat, she’s still getting stamped on and scratched up and distrusted and just straight leered at by Dani and the lab peeps and even Chase, and rightfully so. I’ve been thinking lately about types of nuzlocke protagonists, and I legitimately think Nat’s type is my favorite to read just for the sheer struggle, the sheer graft, and this chapter (while it requires hella context to appreciate) is a wonderful example of that. She’s eternally a wounded puppy with a pack of cigs, but god if she hasn’t made it this far, and god if there still ain’t a long ways for her to still go too.
She really is! I never set out expecting her to be, but she's too great for this story tbh. She's ascendant.

Yes!! Literally knocked some sense into her, and the momentum from that right hook was enough to jostle her from the hole she'd dug herself and was content to die in. It def did take some strength, when she's this scared and afraid that everything she does just makes things worse, but yeah... she took her sweet ass time getting there. And hell, she's still not quite there yet.

Like I mentioned above, it makes me so so happy to hear that you consider Nat a good protag -- or at least, one of your favorite types. She is the most... nuanced and complicated and raw character I've ever written, but writing her feels like home at this point. Thank you for all your support, for always being willing to beta and level with me when things need fixing, for encouraging me, and for always being willing to let me type endlessly into your DMs when I'm working through ideas. Impulse would not exist without you. ❤

Chapter 69
Two days before my seventeenth birthday, I dropped out of high school.

There wasn’t anything special about the day I walked out. It was early spring. I was sitting in homeroom, waiting for the final bell, watching the melting snow splatter against the windowsill in a rhythm just off-kilter enough to set me on edge.

I should’ve been studying for my algebra exam in the morning, or reading that short story for my lit class. But my thoughts were consumed by other things -- the electric bill that was due the previous week, the ass chewing I was bound to get from my manager when I showed up late for my shift again. My attention shifted between the dripping window, the ticking clock, the window, clock, window, and finally to the door as I shoved my way out of it.

I left my textbooks on the desk in the back corner of room 20C, and skipped my shift at the dry cleaner’s to go smoke cigarettes on the roof. I got fired the next day.

My mother was livid when she found out what I’d done, and I didn’t have much of an explanation for her. It had just gotten too loud in my head to cope. So I left.

There’s not enough noise in the world to drown out my thoughts today.

It’s a slow day in more ways than one. Heavy gray clouds sag in an overcast sky, a telltale sign of the imminent storm blowing in. Everyone's out making preparations, leaving the diner scarce save for a few regulars who are content to let their days slip away here.

I’ve been banished to the back room on dish duty. My black eye has blossomed into a hideous shade of purple, the skin shiny and puckered from swelling. Apparently it’s not the most appetizing to look at during a meal.

The constant tick of the clock is a grating reminder of every minute that passes without any updates. I turn the coffee mug in my hand over, rubbing at the same water spot idly. Maybe by taking my time to be meticulous, I can make the stack of dishes in the sink last a few hours. I’m not even halfway through my shift, and I’ve already breezed through most of my daily tasks.

I just have to keep moving -- have to keep my hands busy. Otherwise, I start thinking.

When Lucas arrived at Lake Valor, he had stumbled across a similar scene to what I uncovered at Verity. Dozens of frozen carcasses -- Magikarp and Goldeen, mostly -- strewn across the shoreline. A thin sheet of ice glazed over the surface of the water, a glassy mirror of gray sky above.

That was three days ago.

I plunge my hands into the dishwater with a grimace. It’s cold now, the suds and bubbles replaced with a murky skim on the surface. I pull the plug and let it drain for the second time, leaning my hip against the counter. Three fucking days.

While the sink fills back up with fresh water, I wipe down the counters again, using my fingernail to dig into the grout with the dish rag. It’d be so much easier to keep my mind off things if I was waiting tables, or manning the counter. Anything but this.

The second the dishes are clean and stowed away, I grab my coat and head out the back door.

Technically we’re only allowed one break during our shift, but it’s not like anyone will miss me much anyway. I hunch over my knees, wrapping my unzipped coat around my legs in an attempt to keep warm. I smoked the last of my pack this morning, but managed to pilfer one from my mother’s purse. It does little to comfort me.

I almost caved this morning during my shower, soaking in my guilt long after the water ran cold. I’d wrapped my towel around me and sat on the toilet lid, shivering, occasionally glancing at my Poketch that lay on the sink and willing it to light up.

But the display remains dark, even still.

The cigarette in my fingers burns slowly, like sand trickling through the bottleneck of an hourglass. I watch it, entranced, only pausing to take another drag.

I want so badly to hear his voice.

My fingers fumble with the knot of my apron, loosening it and lifting it over my head. I drape it over the coarse wood railing of the stoop.

The cigarette smolders.

I flick it to the ground, grinding it into gravel as I walk away from the diner, coat still unzipped.

I’ve come to learn the lab is relatively empty, most days. Other than the occasional intern bustling around in between field research, it’s usually just the receptionist, Lucas, and Rowan. The latter doesn’t look up when I show up unannounced at his office door, just keeps scribbling away at something and grunts in acknowledgement. “Twice in three days? To what do I owe the pleasure?” My jaw tightens reflexively, and he peers over his tiny little half-moon reading glasses at me. “I don’t imagine it’s because you enjoy my company all that much.”

My tongue digs into my cheek, arms folded. “Don’t know why you’d think that. You academic types are such a bundle of joy.”

Rowan huffs in amusement, licking his finger and turning the page. Puts pen to paper and starts writing again, and for a moment I think he’s resumed ignoring me. But then he shakes his head and asks, “What can I do for you, Natalie?”

“It’s been three days.”

The pen stops, suspended in midair. Rowan sighs, folding his readers and setting them aside. “You know I would’ve called if I’d heard anything.”

I knew, but I’d hoped maybe he’d just forgotten. I wrap my arms around myself, thumbs digging into my rib cage and pinching at tender skin -- as if I can bully my breath into steadying. “Sorry. Work is dragging, home is too quiet, and I’m just…”

“Restless?” he offers, and I nod.

I swipe at my runny nose with the sleeve of my coat, keeping my eyes level with the edge of the desk. “Yeah, sorta.” Helpless, too. But I wouldn’t admit that.

He doesn’t respond right away, but he doesn’t pick the pen back up either. When I finally glance up, he’s studying me carefully. “So what’s keeping you here?”

“Here, like in Twinleaf?” He nods, and I shrug. “Where the hell else am I supposed to go?”

His mustache twitches. “Let’s start with a walk, shall we?”

I’ve never ventured into the lab any further than Rowan’s office, but he leads me down the hallway -- at the end of which is a door labeled ‘vivarium’. He unlocks it and steps into a plexiglass room, motioning for me to follow. He shuts the outer door behind us, and I look around in wonder. We’re basically standing in a giant greenhouse -- but within it, I can hear the rustling of wild Pokemon, the murmur of rushing water, and the whispering breeze through lush foliage. The air is cool but not cold, and slightly humid. It feels like the onset of springtime in Sinnoh, completely oblivious to winter lingering at its doorstep.

As Rowan leads me deeper into the overgrown garden, Pokemon begin to emerge. Beautifly saunter down to the feeders, Cherubi bounce through the branches overhead, a Starly caws from somewhere in the canopy. Just months ago, the mere thought of being trapped in an enclosure teeming with wildlife would’ve made my skin crawl. It barely registers now. I’ve got bigger things to fear these days.

I shed my coat and hug it to my chest, inhaling deeply. It smells like fresh rain. I always forget just how stifling Sinnovan winters can be. “This is incredible.”

Rowan nods, tucking his hands in his pockets and almost looking pleased with himself. “It was my wife’s vision to design a biome that would allow us to study local fauna year-round. Or at least, that’s how she sold it to me.” I’m still following him so I can’t see his face, but I can hear him chuckle. “She was always bringing home strays, or injured Pokemon she wanted me to nurse back to health. This place gave her an excuse to keep them.”

“I didn’t know you were married.”

“For over 30 years, yes.” He pushes a low-hanging branch out of the way, revealing a wooden bench facing a stream fed by a small, manmade waterfall. He pauses, gripping the back and leaning on it heavily. “This was her favorite spot.”

I fidget uncomfortably behind him, unsure of what to say. “I’m sorry for your loss. That must’ve been difficult.”

“It was,” he says simply. He steps around the bench and eases onto it with a sigh. “When she died, I couldn’t stand to be alone in our home. So I took a sabbatical -- closed down the lab and traveled abroad.”

I frown, because I have no idea why he’s choosing to share it with me, of all people. “Where did you go?”

Rowan waves away the question, like he might a bothersome fly. “Unova, Kanto. A brief stint in Orre. It doesn’t really matter,” he says, pinning me with a look. “You can’t outrun grief.”

Ah, so that’s it then. He thinks I’m hiding here. “I’m not running from what happened,” I say, arms crossed, struggling to keep my voice level, “I’m trying to stay out of the way. I don’t want anyone else to get hurt because of me.”

“Of course.” He lets it drop just like that, without challenging me. He just stares at the water in front of him, hands folded primly on his lap.

But there’s something about the silence that hangs between us, something about the way he waits, patiently, that leads me to drop into the seat next to him. He doesn’t seem to mind, so I pull my knees to my chest and softly ask, “What made you come back?”

“While I was gone, I left Lucas in charge of the lab. He was around your age at the time, and vastly underprepared to manage it alone. On top of that…” he trails off, a distant look in his eye, “He was one of Margaret’s students. She’s the one who encouraged him to visit the lab, and eventually convinced me to take him on as my lab assistant.”

“They were close?”

Rowan nods. “To say the least. I was so caught up in my own troubles, I didn’t take into account that Lucas was mourning, too. And I’d abandoned him to deal with all of that on his own.”

“Is that why you brought me here?” I mutter, resting my chin on my arms and letting my hair fall in my face like a curtain. “To tell me how selfish I am? Believe me, it’s not exactly breaking news.”

“I brought you here to remind you that you aren’t the only one who’s been targeted by Galactic,” he holds a hand up when I scoff, “and that you don’t have to face this alone. Don’t shut out the people that want to help you.” My mouth snaps shut, and I burrow my face between my knees in shame for interrupting. The knot in my chest loosens a bit, and tears sting my eyes.

“You know who is facing this alone right now? Chase,” I mumble into my legs, swiping at my eyes with the heel of my hand, wincing when it grazes bruised skin. “And what -- I’m just supposed to sit here and wait? It’s bullshit. How am I supposed to live with myself if something happens to him?”

“So what’s keeping you here?”

There’s a shift in Rowan’s tone when he asks the question again that catches me off guard. It’s flinty, but not accusing. When I look at him, I don’t see pity in his eyes. “I have a job, bills--”

“And yet you abandoned that job in the middle of your shift to come here because you’re making yourself sick with worry,” he says firmly. “This may be your home geographically, but I suspect it’s not where your heart resides.” Heat flushes my cheeks at the implication, but he holds up a hand to silence any objection. “So I ask again -- what is really keeping you here? What have you got to lose?”

My life, certainly. There’s also my mother to think of, though she’s already proven she can get along well enough on her own. There’s my job at the diner, though he’s got a point -- I may not have one after ditching my shift today, and it’s not like there’s any shortage of people they could hire to replace me... Of course there’s my Pokemon, but there’s not been much of a life here for them. As much as I hate to admit it, Vera was right about that.

Rowan doesn’t seem to expect an answer, and I’m grateful, because I don’t have one for him. He rises to his feet and moves behind the bench, patting the back of it. “I come here often, when I need to clear my head. You’re welcome to do the same, if it helps.”

He leaves me to my own devices, disappearing down the path the way we came, the sound of his footsteps swallowed by the rushing water and rustle of foliage. I resist the urge to follow him immediately, instead digging the toes of my shoes into the loamy soil and closing my eyes, inhaling deeply. It smells like the moment after a spring shower, when the sun parts the clouds and begins to warm the earth and grass. I close my eyes and grasp at that feeling of nostalgia, reaching for a faint memory, trying desperately to remember what it felt like to be happy here once. If I could ever be truly happy here again.

It isn’t until the wind lifts, bringing with it the smell of fresh pine, that I find a reason to smile.

Can y'all tell Rowan is my favorite professor? 😭

This is a shorter chapter than usual, but it felt like a natural stopping point, especially given the events of the next chapter. I've been dying to write this conversation for some time, but good grief it took forever to actually put words on paper. I've never specified actual arcs for Impulse, not really, but the chapters surrounding Nat's return to Twinleaf have absolutely been a departure from the main plotline of the story (though necessary, and perhaps some of my favorites to write!), enough so that I feel like it's an arc of its own, in a sense. With that said, next chapter is the final chapter in this arc, and I can't WAIT to share it with y'all. ^^

(and yes, I know there was a major missed opportunity here. You only get one Chapter 69, and I spent it having my protag getting lectured by an old man xD)

CURRENT TEAM:
TUCKER
KIARA
JADE
TOBY
 

Missy

i left my heart in alola
Writer
Pokédex No.
94
Caught
Jun 16, 2019
Messages
122
Nature
Lax
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Tough
Pokédex Entry
nanu for hire (rates may vary, payment upfront)
Short thought this chapter is, it does highlight the importance of the Twinleaf mini-arc chapters, if that's what we're calling them. In the face of tragedy and hardship, Nat's gone and retreated into her old self, and it's taking her a while to peek back out of it, to rise above.

And yes, I can tell that Rowan if your favourite professor. He's just wonderful here.

Also, well, it must be said. It can't go ignored. To do so would be a disservice, truly. The thing about any fic that reaches this monumental length, you see... it's an accomplishment, yes, but more than that... well.... *points at the chapter number* haha nice
 

spikesgirl1

Lugia Worshiper
Pokédex No.
446
Caught
Jul 9, 2019
Messages
53
Pokémon Type
Fire, Ghost
I'll tell you one thing, you're really making me love Rowan more and more. You've got me pumped for chapter 70 (*snicker* kept forgetting what number we're on here) and seeing Nat get back into the action. :)
 

Whozawhatcha

i have too many projects
Pokédex No.
486
Caught
Jul 12, 2019
Messages
495
Nature
Lonely
Pokémon Type
Fire, Flying
Yessss, rowan lovers unite!! Also:
“You can’t outrun grief.”
Please stop stealing quotes from my sunlocke, this shit is too good. Honestly the entire interaction between rowan and nat was so good and resonated so well this chapter. I'm glad it's a short, very contained, intimate chapter. It really lends weight to the small moments.

That being said, I am DYING to get the fuck outta twinleaf and stop watching nat twiddle her thumbs and feeling bad for herself. I'm ready to see how this next arc shapes up, and in turn, how it shapes nat!
 

Thirteenth

eternally crying over the botw trilogy
Writer
Pokédex No.
14
Caught
May 20, 2019
Messages
1,776
Nature
Quiet
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Ice
Pokédex Entry
The reason she guides people all the way down to the mountain's base is that she wants them to hurry up and leave.
My attention shifted between the dripping window, the ticking clock, the window, clock, window, and finally to the door as I shoved my way out of it.
The constant tick of the clock is a grating reminder of every minute that passes without any updates.
The ticking clock tied these scenes together so well, and in a way, I think it helps set the stage for Nat beginning to take action again.


I’d wrapped my towel around me and sat on the toilet lid, shivering, occasionally glancing at my Poketch that lay on the sink and willing it to light up.

But the display remains dark, even still.

The cigarette in my fingers burns slowly, like sand trickling through the bottleneck of an hourglass. I watch it, entranced, only pausing to take another drag.

I want so badly to hear his voice.
I want so badly for her to hear Chase's voice too 😭 Though I also want to say that this hurt because I thought of Nat calling Riley and getting his voice mail just to hear his voice so like, double whammy :')


“Twice in three days? To what do I owe the pleasure?” My jaw tightens reflexively, and he peers over his tiny little half-moon reading glasses at me. “I don’t imagine it’s because you enjoy my company all that much.”

My tongue digs into my cheek, arms folded. “Don’t know why you’d think that. You academic types are such a bundle of joy.”

Rowan huffs in amusement, licking his finger and turning the page. Puts pen to paper and starts writing again, and for a moment I think he’s resumed ignoring me. But then he shakes his head and asks, “What can I do for you, Natalie?”
I love your Rowan. I love him so much, he's a takes-no-shit man that always just Knows, and his dynamic with Nat is like... Idk, he fills a fatherly sort of role for her and I love it.


“This may be your home geographically, but I suspect it’s not where your heart resides.” Heat flushes my cheeks at the implication, but he holds up a hand to silence any objection. “So I ask again -- what is really keeping you here? What have you got to lose?”
Especially considering how he sees right through her here hehe.

Also I know you were unsure about this line but I fucking love it, it has me grinning so bad. Acknowledge your feelings for him Nat, pleaseee.


It isn’t until the wind lifts, bringing with it the smell of fresh pine, that I find a reason to smile.
😭 Pine... Chase...... 😭😭 I want them to reunite soon, pls write more, I'll bully you.
 

Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
857
Location
Zion National Park
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They/Them
Pokémon Type
Bug, Clever
Pokédex Entry
A regular writer of fanfics and other works, this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
This chapter... "short but sweet" doesn't even begin to define it.

I love how cyclical it is. Thirteenth already pointed out the clock, but we've got Nat skipping her job then, and skipping her job now. In some ways she's barely changed from back then, but in others she's changed a lot... I love love love Rowan in this. (And yes, I could tell he's your favorite, hehe c:) Just the way he nurtures Nat slowly out of her funk, asking questions and not pressing until the exact moment he needs to. It's perfect.

“This may be your home geographically, but I suspect it’s not where your heart resides.” Heat flushes my cheeks at the implication, but he holds up a hand to silence any objection. “So I ask again -- what is really keeping you here? What have you got to lose?”
This was perfect. And so was the ending. Just fabulous!
 

Garish Garchomp

Friendly Neighborhood Landshark
Administrator
Moderator
🌱Featurer
Writer
Pokédex No.
43
Caught
Jun 12, 2019
Messages
528
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
He/Him
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Psychic
Pokédex Entry
he's ok i guess
I appreciate having this downbeat, one-on-one chapter after the previous one. Going from something as emotionally charged as 68 to a legitimately stoic scene here makes a lot of sense not just in who’s involved but just in the process of Nat moving forward again. And, I mean, nobody better than Rowan to be that force at this point. Then you add in the parallels between this and her dropping out of high school, except hopefully going in a totally opposite direction, and it’s one of my favorite chapters to date honestly. It’s a skill to properly set and create a single scene that’s worth a chapter in and of itself, but you def pull it off with this.

Also, it def isn’t but it feels the first ever chapter of Impulse that ends with an actual smile. Awwwwwwww.
 

localhoney

grook
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
2002
Caught
May 17, 2020
Messages
262
Location
Miami, FL
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
Electric, Poison
Pokédex Entry
Localhoney, the Sweet Toxin Pokemon. It's said that the sounds it emits can paralyze even a Gigantamax Grimmsnarl.
Here we go! Comment Corner has given me all the more reason to catch up.
It makes me so sad that Nat is still deathly afraid of Kiara! She loves you, let her out of the damn ball!! Though I do love little flashes of Nat's character like these. Progress is never linear, particularly with something like a lifelong fear.

Woah! I was definitely not expecting a talking 'mon (or telepathic, whatever) for whatever reason, so Vera talking to Nat was v surprising. And damn, she really fucking dragged her through the mud, did not anticipate Vera to call Nat out like that. Though I guess the pleasantries of human conversation are lost once you can read minds and auras. Also, it's a very serious moment, but the thought of Kiara getting ready to send a million bolts of lightning, Vera with an Aura Sphere loaded, and Riley with a gun, and then Nat in the middle with a small pocketknife is very funny.
Riley needs to get a handle on his type-matchups. Aura Sphere is not very effective on Croagunk!
That, as it turns out, is our first mistake.
Oh god.

Dustox confirmed war criminal, you can't use biological weapons on civilians! Damn that's a fucking strong moth though, a Confusion to down a Luxray!

This scene is tense as fuck, Nat fighting out from under this Galactic assailant. Edge of my seat for sure. Love to see Vera just obliterate him though, god that feels good. I hope these two can make it to Veilstone relatively unscathed 😭
The Galactic grunt is sitting in the back of an armored police car, slumped over in pain with his hands fastened behind him. Blood is smeared across his face from a gash on his forehead and his left eye is nearly swollen shut,
Damn, Vera should've just fucking killed him. It's not like they can charge a Lucario with murder. Unless Sinnoh has a clause in their constitution for that, which would be nuts.
She's a dusky violet color now, with four impressive wings beating the air instead of two. I breathe a sigh of relief.
!!! I had forgotten (somehow, between the 3 seconds I had in chapters) that Nat left Jade out there, but seeing her come back as a Crobat is lovely. That means she loves you Nat!!!
Waiting rooms are a special kind of hell for impatient people like me.
This would be such a great lyric, it's such a snappy transition line and it is also a perfect illustration of who Nat is.
"Natalie, wait a sec."
full name??? 👀👀👀👀

Aside from the jokes, I am loving the slow crawl of Nat's progress with her Pokephobia. She's starting to really rely on the love and support of her 'mons, and meeting Vera, who is the pinnacle of love and support for Riley, is only going to push that crawl into more of a slight walk I should hope.
It flashes through my head. The man pinning me down. Knowing his ruddy face would be the last thing I saw. And then Vera -- who I was certain would leave me to fend for myself if it meant sticking by Riley -- coming to my rescue. "You left him to help me," I say quietly, shuddering as I recall it. Could it really have only been last night? It feels like ages have passed. "Why is that?"
Because it's foreshadowing for when Vera inevitably becomes your Pokemon, stupid. Nat with a Lucario would be pretty cool, I've gotta say.
She chuckles, a raspy sound deep in her throat. It's one of the few times I've heard her vocalize in any way. "No, not you."
👀👀👀👀
A shadow? I squint at the trunk and slowly my gaze lifts to the branches above, and then I see it -- barely concealed by the brittle, dying leaves of autumn. A round purple body. A crest of white fluff on top that resembles a cloud. It shifts a bit and -- there, where its mouth should be. A bright yellow X. And all at once, I recognize it.
Balloon!!! This is a very Nat-core 'mon so I'm glad she gets one. Pretty rare if you don't take the time to skip your Windworks catch and come back for the baby.
Just like the mysterious thing that tugged me out from under a cloud of Dustox toxins.
:o the balloon already loves Nat! How can you hate Pokemon, they're so sweet.
Grabbing my crutches, I scramble to my feet and shield my eyes with my arm, but it isn't long before the shimmering fades to reveal Toby's new form. Stockier build, broader head, thick arms, and a ridge down his back -- but the same simple face. Almost identical to Wake's Quagsire, though maybe a bit smaller.
Baby #1 has finally become Large! This chapter made me happy, no imminent danger, just development on all sides and even some insight into who Vera is.
with death comes respite
goddd you are the queen of these punchy little lines interspersed throughout chapters, I love 'em.
 

localhoney

grook
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
2002
Caught
May 17, 2020
Messages
262
Location
Miami, FL
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
Electric, Poison
Pokédex Entry
Localhoney, the Sweet Toxin Pokemon. It's said that the sounds it emits can paralyze even a Gigantamax Grimmsnarl.
So we back in the mine thread
Something in his expression changes. His joking smile turns to a grimace, then an outright snarl. "Clearly I'm not doing that bad, considering I'm the one working in the field while you do paperwork and play messenger girl," Riley says coldly, and his tone makes even me flinch.
Oh shit 👀 Riley wants smoke and Cheryl seems like the type of person to give it to him. Though I'm intrigued by Cheryl thinking he got in through family ties and Riley saying he worked his way up to where he is. Both could potentially be true, but I need to knowwwww.
It crosses my mind that maybe I should doubt him, because even though it feels like I've known Riley for ages, I realize I don't really know who he is. But it's a fleeting thought, because he hasn't lied to me so far. So I say something I haven't in years. "I trust you."

And it's a little startling, but as soon as those words leave my mouth, I realize I actually do.
Very sweet, and it shows that Nat's grown a lot. Also helps that he took a healthy dose of Dustox poison to the lungs for her, I would think.
"That's right, get over here you boneheaded fleabag," I growl, though I can't maintain my scowl long because those big brown eyes are looking into mine with hopeful innocence. He nuzzles my hand and I yank the bag away from him, trying to remain stern. "Nuh uh, you don't get any unless you behave. This is just practice, so don't hurt her, okay?"
Love this! Very cute scene with the horsey, and I figure this is just real life experience from you (save for the fire coming off the horse, that would be Bad:tm:)
"I've been thinking," Riley muses, inspecting his apple carefully.

I adopt a look of mock concern, touching my hand to my chest. "But Riley, I thought the doctor said you shouldn't overdo things today?"
Look, I don't care what happens going forward. Nat/Riley is the only pairing I will support and that is that. Also this probably isn't meant to be a romantic relationship but I'll be damned if Nat's not a liiiiiiittle flirty.
Riley praises me for getting Chase to unwittingly cooperate, but that conversation left a bad taste in my mouth. Right now he thinks I called him as a friend -- how will he react when he realizes it was just a ruse, to bring him back under the watchful eye of the League?
I'm nervous about what this could spell for Nat and Chase, and if Chase gets mad and starts running buckwild thru Sinnoh, there may be Problems.
The first thing I am aware of is the cold. Then the fact that I am stripped bare, lying exposed on my back and shivering. My fingers splay across the cool, metallic surface -- but when I try to sit up, I find I am restrained.
👀👀
My last coherent thought is that I'll die without knowing what I'm leaving behind.
god you're so fucking good at these. I could hear these in a record by Phoebe Bridgers or the National, but nope, just Aurea being incredible at the things she does. So punchy, I love it.
"Natalie!" he says firmly, trying to bring me out of it.
It is not lost on me that Riley calls her by her full name when he's worried bc it's cute as hell.
And somehow he still looks flawless even with a bloody nose and bedhead. Asshole.
Nat just ask him to stay in the damn room with you.
It takes a lot of convincing for him to let me cram a tampon up his nose, but when I tell him he could choke on his own blood and die he grudgingly accepts his fate. I highly doubt that's true, but it'd be a shame to stain the sheets and it's not my fault he's gullible. Besides, I've been thoroughly humiliated tonight, so now it's his turn.
tampon up the nose is the only way you can prevent untimely death by sanguine swallowing.
And I try not to dwell on the fact that there are people in this fake constellation who want me dead.
another great punchy line and holy shit I love the description of Veilstone as a fake constellation. really lends itself to Nat feeling out of place and unsafe as well.
I vaguely hear Maylene command the Machoke to use Rock Tomb. Before I can open my mouth and call out to Jade, the monster has already swung his meaty fists down and slammed them into the dirt. The floor ripples on impact, and when the jagged stones explode from the ground under my Crobat it takes every last ounce of willpower I have not to scream.

And for whatever reason my mind yet again goes back to the blonde girl, and her gym battle. Is this how she felt, when she watched her Golbat crumple and die before her very eyes? Did she stifle a scream by biting down on her cheek until it bled, or did she just feel numb?
AUREA I SWEAR TO GOD
But then I hear rustling, and I open my eyes just in time to see Jade break free of the rubble, feebly flopping to one side. My hands drop to my side as the crowd cheers, and I can't believe my stupid luck. Not once, but twice.
jfc i had goosebumps when this happened
There's a distinct snap that makes my stomach lurch, and he honest-to-Arceus screams. The crowd gasps as he collapses on the ground and I have to cling to the railing to avoid doing the same, because his cries sound entirely too human.
AUREA I SWEAR TO GOD [x2]
I make the mistake of looking at his leg to assess the damage, and I have to swallow my vomit because I will not puke on live TV dammit, but the shard of bone is protruding and his beautiful ivory pelt is stained with blood. He unsteadily balances on three legs, and the injured one is bent where it shouldn't be, hanging at an unnatural angle that --
god this was gross, incredibly well-written but so unnerving
he pokes him in the chest coyly, and then he grabs her arm and pulls her in for a hug. Her pink hair is unmistakable.
Riley is a mf player!! Nat, honey, should've asked him to stay in the room with you last night. Maylene is probably cute as hell. At least you've got Chase!
"Is that right?" He brightens up, and crouches in front of her so they're on the same level. "Would you like to meet him?"
Superstar Chase, I love it!
"Don't be," I snort sarcastically. "I should be thanking you. Hanging out with a celebrity is going to do heaps for my image."
"Rising Star Chase is spotted hanging out with Shit Trainer Natalie Hart. Could this be the start of something more? More at 8."
The look on the nurse's face is grim as she approaches us, and I know something is wrong. I can feel it in my gut. "Ms. Hart?"

My knees are weak, and there's a bitter taste in my mouth. I swallow, not wanting to ask the obvious question. The nurse must recognize this, because she doesn't make me.
Aurea... if you faked me out in the arena... I swear...
"And what about my Ponyta?" I ask.

Her face darkens. "This way, please."
AUREA PLEASE
"A very slight one, yes," she reiterates, looking absolutely exhausted. She clicks off the screen and the x-ray vanishes. "But perhaps not worth it. Even if he does heal properly, he will never be able to battle again. That bone will always be more susceptible to breaking. Either way, his career as a battler is over."
Nat's going to put him down isn't she...
The two of them look to me expectantly for input, and all I can do is stand there. This is too much to absorb at once, I'm completely overwhelmed and upset and -- and this is not fair. Dash is alive and healthy, young and strong, too stubborn to even stay down when his leg was shattered in the gym. And now she expects me to give her the okay to just kill him?
Aside from the bone wrenching sadness that you are causing me, this shows a lot about how Nat has grown. I'm sure that when she first got Tucker she probably wouldn't have agonized over having to euthanize him or losing him. She might be traumatized, sure, but there's some emotions running deep here which I think is really cool.
"You think I don't realize that?" I snarl, shoving him away from me. "Of course he doesn't deserve that! He doesn't deserve any of this!" When I blink the first tears roll down my cheek, a salty mixture of anger and anguish.
;;;;w;;;;;
"He shouldn't have to die alone, Nat."
why would you do this to me Aurea
I cup the palm of my hand against his lips, and he gingerly takes the treat from me. His muzzle is surprisingly soft, his whiskers tickle my hand, and his breath is warm. He's too out of it to chew it up, but he mulls it around in his mouth and it melts on his tongue. At least this way, the last thing he tastes will be sweet.
wow I wanna cry this is so sad and soft and god you couldn't have just had the Lucario kill him you had to drag this out and hurt me
I flinch when Chase wraps an arm around me, but instead of resisting I just crumble, letting him support me because I'm tired of holding myself together. He lets me lean my head on his shoulder, murmuring comforting words -- and for the first time in a long time I don't feel ashamed of breaking down and crying in front of someone, because this is Chase. And he understands what it's like more than anyone.
Soft wrap-up but wow I cannot believe I am so upset
So Dash's Pokeball, ashen and empty, rests in the same pouch as Ivan's in my bag. Maybe someday I'll find a place suitable for them both. But for now, I'm not quite ready to let go.
The idea of Ivan and Dash's balls just sitting there, lonely, makes me so sad ;w; I hope they get buried somewhere nice!!! You gotta let me have that!!!
Riley sets his jaw, and for a moment I think he's going to explode. But then he just smirks. "Oh don't worry, I plan to. But there's someone you both need to meet first."
"You bitch!" I snarl, lunging toward her. Riley shouts and pulls her out of the way and Chase holds me back, his arms pinning mine to my sides. I struggle against him and stomp on his toes to try get him to let me go, but he doesn't loosen his grip.
I lowkey wanted them to let them go at it, but who knows.
"Nat," Chase murmurs in my ear, his warm breath ruffling a wisp of hair that fell out of my braid. "They don't know."
This is such a tender moment in between Nat being rough as hell and trying to chuck Maylene out the window
"Your attendance has been requested by Cynthia herself."
oh shit
The laundry detergent smells like the kind my mother uses. I ignore the pang of nostalgia that has settled into my stomach like a stone.
This is very sweet! And it makes the argument at the end all the more painful ;w;
I give him a thin-lipped smile. "That's okay. Chase was."
👀 got his ass. Chase is famous anyways.
But I'm only gaining momentum. I'm trembling now, because I'm so outraged and saddened and I can't believe she's doing this to herself again. My voice cracks as I continue, and angry tears slide down my cheeks. "After all those nights you came home crying because he got drunk and beat the shit out of you, you're just going to go crawling back to him because he takes you to nice restaurants and buys you gifts when he wants to get laid? And then he goes home to his wife and kids, and you go back to our shitty little house all alone."
This made me so damn sad and it sucks that Nat isn't home to try and talk her out of shit. As Nat develops and grows, it sucks to see her mom be so damn static and suck up Nat's money.
 

localhoney

grook
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
2002
Caught
May 17, 2020
Messages
262
Location
Miami, FL
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
Electric, Poison
Pokédex Entry
Localhoney, the Sweet Toxin Pokemon. It's said that the sounds it emits can paralyze even a Gigantamax Grimmsnarl.
take three!
Two burly men in suits are waiting for us, expressions hard as stone. Riley nods at them and flashes his badge, and they sidestep to allow us entrance. I duck my head and follow him in, avoiding eye contact because these dudes are massive and if they had been around when I went after Maylene-- the thought makes me shudder.
the original Large and Larger, I have decided this.
"So you must be Ms. Hart. I've heard a lot about you! My name's Gloria, and this is Clementine," she says, gesturing at the pink blob that glowers at me from behind her legs. I've never seen an unpleasant-looking Blissey before, and it catches me off guard. Gloria seems to take notice, because she clears her throat and nudges the normal-type with her foot. "Don't mind her, she's a bit of a sourpuss."
Clem!!! I like that she's a meanie, Nat wouldn't like a soft Blissey
She startles me a little so I quickly sit up, clutching a pillow to my chest and watching her warily. The Blissey blinks, no longer scowling but instead looking curious.
👀
A smile tugs at her lips. "Because you're ballsy, and you're not afraid to tell people exactly what you think. I can't remember the last time someone called me a bitch to my face, or tried to tackle me. Granted, it probably wasn't the smartest move considering fighting is sort of my thing, but I can admire it." I just look at her, dumbfounded, and she chuckles as she turns me back around to resume curling my hair. "And besides, we might be a little more alike than you think."
I love Dani and she's now my girlfriend ty. But actually, I do love Dani's character and how she shifts when the facade is down and she gets to be just herself. She's kinda giving me some Nessa vibes from dandelion in certain ways, and I hope she and Nat develop a real friendship. Excited for the League Conference!
It fits a little snug around my hips, but it just feels right. I twirl in front of her mirror while she changes into her party attire, letting the skirt flare out around me. Maybe it's a little vain, but this is a side of myself I wasn't aware existed -- or at least, never had the opportunity to indulge until now. For a moment, there in her room, wearing her dress, I close my eyes and pretend it's all mine.
;w; Nat deserves some nice things!!! Hopefully after this is all over
Riley shows up at 7 o'clock sharp to escort me, strutting in like he owns the place but, Arceus, he looks the part. Though I'm loathe to admit it, that tux looks pretty damn good on him. For once he's completely clean-shaven, and his hair is slicked back without a piece out of place. His eyes linger on me a little longer than usual and the corner of his mouth turns upward ever so slightly. Or maybe I'm imagining it.
👀
It isn't until we get to the elevator, when I catch him sneaking glances at me in the reflective doors, that I feel a surge of satisfaction.
👀👀 YES NAT
"See, you did just fine," he murmurs in my ear reassuringly, his hand resting on the small of my back as he guides me through the throng. And in that moment, it's really not that hard to pretend.
Okay Riley, you're smooth, we fucking get it.
I feel the warmth flood my cheeks yet again, but I'm saved from having to reply because Riley clears his throat and I look up just in time to see the last two seats of our table be filled.
Oooooooooo~
"Daniella, there you are!" Gardenia purrs, sashaying over to us with a smile that turns sour when she catches sight of me. I feel a twinge of envy because she's stunning, with her sparkling emerald eyes and matching slinky, low-cut dress that perfectly complements her curves, and her short copper hair framing her face. She slides into the seat next to Dani, orders an appletini, and then wrinkles up her nose. "Who's this?"
Appletini for Gardenia is painfully on-brand. She sounds like one of those girls that's hot and a bitch.
"So why are you here? Cheap hourly rate, or courtesy of Riley's bleeding heart?"
:o ouch (bitch was right)
"Along with nearly every other female in here under the age of 25," Dani says sardonically, signalling the bartender for another drink.
Ahhhhhh shit. Well, he's handsome, what is he supposed to do! Sucks that Nat learns this after spending half the night on his arm and feeling good about it though. Chase is probably looking cute though so there's always that.
Riley nods at him respectfully in greeting. "'Evening, Captain Looker."
big strong Looker is not something I've seen before, I love it.
The white-haired man scoffs. "Please. If I reported every nutcase that showed up at my lab, you'd be buried in paperwork. We had the police escort them off the premises and that was that. We had no reason to expect they'd take extreme measures to obtain them. Let the boy finish."
Rowan said fuck you Lucian
The curtness of his tone puts me even further on edge, and I stiffen automatically. "I dunno, threats. Saying I'd better cooperate or things would get ugly. I wasn't exactly taking notes, I was a little distracted by my friend dying next to me and the knife pressed to my wrist. Don't you think if I could remember it word-for-word, I'd fucking say so?" I snap, my voice ringing shrill in the otherwise quiet room and making a few people fidget uncomfortably.
Man, fuck Lucian he's such an asshole which is reminiscent of BaPH's Lucian
Flint leans back in his chair and snorts, raising an eyebrow. "The Pokedex has been around almost as long as you, gramps, so what's the big deal with this one?"
Alright Gary, smell ya later.
The Elite Four exchange displeased looks and mutter amongst themselves, but Rowan ignores them. Instead he focuses on Cynthia, his tone softening. "Surely you remember what a great opportunity this was for you. Don't they deserve the same chance you were given?"
👀 incoming Cynthia/Nat parallels????
"Sometimes, all people need is to be given a chance. Remember that."
God you're so good at these <3 this is such a soft moment in an unexpected place with Rowan and Nat. Hopefully they interact more going forward.
It feels like liquid fire rolling down my throat, but a warm, fuzzy blanket as it settles in my stomach.
she's definitely drinking fireball that shit is fucking garbage
"What's it matter? We're done here, right?"

"Yeah. We are," he says,
Can't help but think this means more than just the League Conference ;w;
But Dani acts like it's a perfectly normal question to have. "Yes, this is where my Pokemon and I practice and improve ourselves. But today, at the request of the Elite Four, I am going to be teaching you about self defense." She must catch my look of confusion, because she elaborates. "Riley told me this morning that they decided to let you and Chase continue your journeys with your Poketches, but there are a few conditions. One of them is that you both learn how to defend yourselves."
oh hell yeah Nat's gonna learn how to kick some ass
Riley scoffs. "You honestly think you can learn how to properly defend yourself in one day? You need years to perfect it, but we're limited on time. Today was just basics -- the next few days will be practicing." Chase grumbles under his breath, and Riley adds, "Cool it. A week out of your training is nothing in the grand scheme of things. And it might just save your damn life."
Chase v Nat but my money's on Nat, she's got the street rat strength lying dormant
I trail off, uncertain of what I'm really offering to do, but the look of disbelief on her face seals the deal. I open the door and motion for her to follow me, and she chirps and waddles out the door without a moment's hesitation.
Clem and Nat adventures!

Not much to say about this chapter, it was just a nice little look into the aftermath of the Conference. Really enjoyed it~
It isn't until I pull out a cigarette that they disperse, leaving me alone with my nasty little habit.
There's something about this that makes me sad. Maybe it's something about her past being dragged along to her present and kinda making her stand out and be isolated, idk, reading this made me sad.
When I'd started, it was mainly to get the point across to her so she'd quit, but instead of fighting me on it she'd just sighed in defeat, took the pack, and told me to get my ass back to school.
wow this is fucking depressing. Nat could be in such a better place if her mom wasn't who she is
Even though Dani sort of takes on the role as my mentor, the line begins to blur into some resemblance of a friendship. I'd forgotten what it was like to have another girl to gossip with, and to be completely honest I sort of miss it. Not so much that I miss the people I hung out with in high school -- we were more friends due to circumstance than anything, because it's hard to be picky when you come from a such small town. Besides, they had no trouble ditching me when they moved on with their lives. But I miss the idea of it.
yes!!! this is exactly what I wanted when you introduced Dani, I love them two together and nothing better happen to Dani while Nat is gone.
The defensive shift in her tone shouldn't surprise me, but I still raise an eyebrow. I think back to their hug after my gym battle, and how protective he was when I lunged at her in the hotel, and I bristle when I think about her comment at the party. "You seem to know an awful lot about Riley," I mutter, giving her an accusing look.
👀
I'm in the middle of packing my things when Clementine peeks her head in, looking dejected. She keeps me company as I fold my clothes, occasionally prodding my belt. I know what she wants -- it's become our signal for visiting the courtyard -- but today I do my best to ignore her because I don't know how to tell her what's happening. I tried explaining last night that I would be leaving, and that there would be no more play dates with my team. But it'd gone completely over her head.
No!!!! Just bring Clem!!!
Maybe you can't outrun your problems, but you can sure as hell try.
;w;
 

localhoney

grook
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
2002
Caught
May 17, 2020
Messages
262
Location
Miami, FL
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
Electric, Poison
Pokédex Entry
Localhoney, the Sweet Toxin Pokemon. It's said that the sounds it emits can paralyze even a Gigantamax Grimmsnarl.
*100 gecs voice* back once again
Riley snorts from behind us and rolls his eyes. "Oh come on, those rumors were started to fool gullible people just like you. It's a publicity stunt. Keeps the ghost gym shrouded in mystery and all, like Fantina wants."
Nat's just having fun with her two boyfriends fighting.
A small part of me screams victory, because he didn't let me walk away this time
yes this is so soft and sweet and I love Nat grappling with gasp romantic feelings, it's like she's trying to call herself out for acting out of character but Riley is a handsome man so what can you do.
Then tell me why you were so disgusted with me that you had to dump me on someone else out of the blue!"
;w; facts Riley that was uhhhh not your best choice
"You said you wanted to clear the air? Then show me an ounce of respect and actually level with me for once."
TALK TO HIM NAT
"One of them being that you and I were getting a little too close." I furrow my brow in confusion, and he adds, "Apparently some rumors started flying when we showed up together at the party."
👀
There's no doubt I'm pushing my limits with him.
I love that Nat can really just drive Riley up the wall and there's not really any important consequences. Like this conversation is very much not inconsequential, but their relationship/feelings are such that they can clear the air like this without murdering each other.
"So are you?" I ask.

"Am I what?" he growls impatiently, stopping only long enough to stare me down.

"Compromised."
👀 but the shaky kind i can't remember what the bbcode for it is
"But like it or not, Natalie, there are some people who care about you. So I guess you'll just have to learn to deal with it."
TALK TO HER RILEY Nat needs to let herself be loved on (also it is not lost on me that Riley is the only one that calls her by her full name, but this is the first time where it wasn't in a life-or-death or dangerous situation, so, like, nice)
I want to believe him. Arceus, I want to think it's true that he cares about me, possibly even in that way, and that he's not just fabricating some outlandish excuse to ditch me.
;w;
No, I don't buy it, as much as I want to. I think it's more likely that he got embarrassed when people mistook me for his newest muse at the dinner party, and instead of having the balls to tell me straight-up, he decided to push it off on the League to soften the blow.
;w; [x2]

also this is 13th's comment but it is important
You can go back to that life of luxury if you and Dani get married like it's meant to be, because it is meant to be.
RETWEET leave these boys behind Nat, Dani is hotter anyways
Her grandmother has aged considerably over the years, but she's still a spitfire. She mutters under her breath as she sets the tea kettle on the stove, refusing any help offered to her. It's comforting, to know that some things never change.
very sweet, I like the vibe Cynthia has in contrast to Nat's as well
Her grandmother, as the elder of the archaic community, just so happens to be the leading expert on ancient folklore and mythology in the Sinnoh region.
oh bet, that's convenient
"Whatever you need to tell her, you can tell me too," Gram snaps, gripping the back of the chair and straightening defiantly. "This is my village, after all. Not the League's."
grandma bouta smack these boys out of their village
What they don't realize is that the bigger threat is held in the palm of her hand -- a trapezoidal stone with a fissure nearly splitting it in two. She feels the keystone jitter with anticipation, but she wills the demons inside to stay at bay. At least for the time being.
oh these grunts are so fucked
It isn't a large cave, and she pauses when she hears a soft voice. Her heart almost seems to skip a beat, but it isn't out of fear. She recognizes the calm, collected tone.
👀
She tentatively peers around the corner, and sure enough, it's him. Crouched in front of the sacred murals, fingers tracing the elaborate designs as he murmurs to himself. She'll bet anything he's scowling. He always had a sour look on his face when he was deep in thought, because his mind is a beautiful but twisted place.
👀 [x2] so Cynthia and Cyrus were... an item??? or close friends?? or both?? that's a new interpretation I've never seen and I really dig it. The games are so lacking in interaction between Cyrus and Cynthia, so this was *chef's kiss*
His face remains expressionless, but she can see the slightest hint of a grin in his steely gray eyes. "I could go for breakfast."
:o the Sinnovan Champion and the owner of the region's energy production eating breakfast in a small village and making eyes and threats at each other i love it
It had just started sprinkling, and when electricity began dancing across Kiara's charged fur I figured it was time to call it a night. As I recalled her and Jade there was a bright flash, and I flinched at first because I thought for a second it was a lightning strike. But then I watched as the harsh light swallowed my Grotle, illuminating the area and making Toby stumble backwards in awe.
yayayayayayayayayayyyy finally!
"Everyone deserves to have an outfit that makes them feel special, so I've sent you the dress, heels, and jewelry that you borrowed for the dinner party. You wore it way better than I could have, anyway. I hope you find a happier occasion to wear it to soon!
and here I must reiterate that Nat should just date Dani, she's already got her decked out in some cute stuff
Chase mutters an apology, almost seeming embarrassed, but I roll my eyes. "Sorry, didn't realize you rented out the entire lobby for privacy."
fuck that dork in the lobby
Kiara turns her snout up at the mud, but seems happy to be out of her Pokeball otherwise. I keep an eye on her as she investigates the nearby area, but Tucker doesn't require nearly that much attention. For starters it'd be hard to lose his fat ass, but he's also content to just doze next to us.
me too Tucker
"Four. I caught a Heracross before we were put under lockdown in Veilstone." He rubs at his chin, looking a little troubled. "Haven't had a chance to work with her though. Pretty temperamental. But I'll need her as backup for the next gym, since Byron trains steel-types."
Oh hell yeah, Chase has a mean team
For example, why in the hell do they need to know if I have a history of seizures or epilepsy? And I'm pretty sure you can battle even if you have a heart condition, though it's probably a damn good thing I don't. I drop the clipboard in my lap when I get to the question about smoking and give the guy behind the counter a dubious look. "I'm sorry, there must be some mistake. I thought I scheduled a gym battle, not an Arceusdamn medical exam."
👀 this gym battle is about to be nuts
Funny how the threat of disqualification outweighs concerns for personal safety, at least when money is involved.
God, Nat, that is far too relatable for your own good.
This time, Tuck doesn't see it coming. Purple claws rake across his face, and my Torterra roars in agony. I wince at the sound, feeling completely helpless. Tucker's pretty strong and can probably last for a while, but that Gengar is just going to continue to wear him down if I don't do something. I wrack my brain for ideas and even consider sending out someone else -- someone faster, but even then, how do you hit something that never stops moving?
NO stop hurting Tuck ;w;
A loud boom fills the air, reverberating off the walls and forcing Kiara into the floorboards -- but the Drifblim seems to be defeated, as its balloon-like body sags and begins to float downward. Red light snags it out of the air before it can hit the ground.
oh SHIT AUREA I SWEAR
"As I'll ever be," I grumble as she releases her ace -- a Mismagius, just like Chase had told me. It's violet in color and violent in demeanor, crooked red smile and luminous eyes showing an unmatched thirst for a fight. It looms ominously in the air, tattered cloak billowing behind it despite the lack of a breeze, and witch's hat tilted sideways ever so slightly as it stares me down.
love me some Mismagius, can't wait for Aveline to turn into one soon
Kiara darts forward at my command, but when she leaps to meet the Mismagius with bared fangs it shifts fluidly out of the way -- even then, it only has eyes for me. I flinch away from its unwavering stare, but I can feel its gaze boring into me.
👀 waiver time?
Soft, unintelligible, snippets of words and phrases running together and clogging my ears, crowding into my head like rising flood waters. I think I can make out the twitch of the Mismagius' mouth as it utters the words. It looks like crudely drawn blood-red lipstick, and for a brief second I think of Mars and my knees feel weak.
uh-oh
They snap shut, and there is an acute wailing from the ghost that momentarily overpowers the droning of the voices, the hallucinations flickering. The Mismagius falters in the air, but it is Kiara that drops like dead-weight to the floor. My fists clench as I call out to her in alarm, and it's only then that I realize her Pokeball has been in my hand all along, cool and hollow. Red light zig-zags from the sphere in my palm, seeking to reclaim its inhabitant, and to my relief the color doesn't drain from it.
oh thank fucking christ i was going to have Words:tm: for you
The whispers, however, praise me.
👀
"I can see why you don't allow spectators," I growl, feeling brave now that her demons are laid to rest. "That's a fucking dirty trick, going after the trainer. I'm surprised you haven't been shut down yet."
Facts! That whole thing was so damn crazy and with your track record I was sure Nat was going to be a 'mon down after this. Also, I didn't quote it for some reason but the description of the dead (heh) silence and the heartbeat as a funeral dirge was so damn clever, loved that.
I exhale, and a kid standing a little downwind sputters and coughs. Her father scoops her up and glares at me in disgust, muttering about my lack of respect for other passengers, and just to spite them I blow another plume of smoke in their general direction as they walk away.
god damn it Nat
My stomach lurches with the tide as I remember the way it sounded. It was a wet pop, like someone stabbed a giant bubblegum bubble with a pin. Willow's body shriveled like the petals of a flower in summer heat, as the blast of energy Fantina had described to me forced Xena into the ground. But this aftermath wasn't faked.
AUREAAAAAAA nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
address the Donphan in the room
lmao
Which is why I convince him to go.
Hartling (Nat/Riley) is hot but Chase/Nat is very soft so I support Both.
dubbing Chase as "the Golden Boy" and "Champion-bound". I roll my eyes at them, trying to ignore the heat creeping into my cheeks
oooooooooooooooooooooooo someone's jealoussssss just kiss the blond boy Nat you know you want to
Because I do. She was gentle, meek, and as scared of me as I was of her at times -- and I can't deny that if it weren't for her, I would be dead. She trusted me to keep her safe, enough that she followed me halfway across the region, and she still wound up dead.
😭 I wanna cry this is probably your saddest death just because it feels like Nat doesn't want to deal with it so we only get it in a little flashback, where she's trying to get past the memory, so in a lot of ways it hurt more.
He nods, smirking. "Oh yeah. Apparently people have noticed we've been challenging the gyms in the same order, and that either makes us an item or rivals. The Canalave Chronicle was dying to find out."
It should be the former and the latter that would be hot anyways
"I thought I felt you nearby."

I scrunch my nose up in confusion, because I recognize her voice but it still doesn't make any sense. "Vera?"

"Yes, wait a moment. We'll be there shortly."
Vera!!! and Riley, but Vera mostly
I raise an eyebrow, trying not to look too amused. "You sure the League will be okay with that?"
ha, got 'em
He smirks. "Make fun all you want, but at least I was prepared for the occasion." I give him a withering look, and I think he finally realizes I'm being dead serious because he softens up some and shakes his head. "Ah, c'mon Hart, loosen up a little. You'll never see any of these people again after tonight, so who cares what they think?" I just glower at him, so he shrugs and gives me the slightest grin. "Other than me of course, but I happen think you look just fine."
Hartling in full effect let's go
"You're so full of shit," I scoff, but I'm thankful for the dim lighting because I can feel heat creeping into my cheeks. "And don't bother trying to butter me up, I'm still pissed."
Hartling in full effect let's go [x2]
Riley waves it off like it's no big deal. "I'm sure Uncle Mitch can make time for his favorite nephew afterward. Besides, he'd probably be thrilled if I stopped by personally to check in on the family business."
I lowkey forgot that their names are stage names and I was like "who the fuck is Mitch"
impulsive
damn, this might be a good title for a fic
"Mhmm," I muse, waiting until he takes another swig of his drink before continuing, "so does that mean he gets drunk texts too, or is that my special privilege?" He just about chokes on his tea, and I smirk. "Told you I wouldn't let you live it down."
LMAOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
 

localhoney

grook
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
2002
Caught
May 17, 2020
Messages
262
Location
Miami, FL
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
Electric, Poison
Pokédex Entry
Localhoney, the Sweet Toxin Pokemon. It's said that the sounds it emits can paralyze even a Gigantamax Grimmsnarl.
backstreet's back, alright
But my memory's fuzzy, probably because we weren't in there long before Ivan showed up to cause trouble.
;w;
A large sign details the myths that some have claimed to see the deity Cresselia when there's a full moon, but when I peer into the tower viewer all I see is a lump of rock in the middle of nowhere.
👀 perhaps?
One of the booths had a penny press, and I've always had a fascination with coins.
;w; my sister collects those penny press coins so this made me a lil sad
The guards, who've looked pretty nonplussed during this whole ordeal, exchange a brief look. "Listen guy, we've already addressed the crowd with what we know," the shorter one finally says, scratching under his hard hat. "We'll update everyone as soon as new information becomes available."
this is... suspect... I'm not getting good vibes from these dudes
"if you're getting impatient, a few of us are planning on sneaking in."
Nat... please... do not!!!
She rolls her eyes. "Look, I don't expect you to get it. My sister only had me come ask because she figured you'd wanna tag along to catch up with your boyfriend." I stiffen at her mistake, but she doesn't seem to notice. "So. You in or not?"
LMAO c'mon Nat even strangers are nailing your relationship
As weird as it might sound, there was a small part of me rooting for it to fail.
This is interesting, because Nat obviously doesn't want to go in the mine on her own even though she was adamant earlier when Riley and Chase were trying to come with, but she's going along with the plan to save Boyfriend #1.
Kiara stiffens. When I lay a hand on her shoulder I can feel the tension in her muscles, as well as the vibration from her low growl. I'm initially alarmed, but relax a bit when I feel a familiar prickle of static in the back of my mind. We must be closer to Vera than I thought.
👀
She must remember, too, because she hesitates when I yell for her to strike it. That pause is all it takes for the Machoke to swing its fist down on Kiara's back with a sickening thud, and my Luxray yowls as her legs buckle beneath her.
AUREA PLEASE NOT LIKE THIS
There are rapid footsteps, a feral snarl, and then a pulse of light blue intercepts the rock, shattering it midair.
oh Vera thank christ, lord knows Aurea wasn't gonna keep them alive
The guard lets out a short sigh, and in one swift movement my chin is digging into the crook of his elbow and there's something hard and cold pressed to my temple.
OH GOD NO this was so smooth and sudden it was like the dude grabbed me and not Nat
"Don't get any ideas. When I let go you're going to calmly walk over to your friends. Any funny business and I won't hesitate to put a bullet right here," he says, poking the back of my head with the barrel of the gun for emphasis.
uh ohhhh
"No, you just wanted to redeem yourself," I mutter bitterly, relishing the blank look on his face. "That's what this was really about, right? You get kicked off our case, so now you're looking for any opportunity to prove your worth to--"
Damn Nat relax
"Enough!" Vera's voice reverberates in my skull, effectively shutting me up and sending me reeling as she steps in between us. She leans in close enough that I can see the whites of her eyes as they bore into mine, and see where her black mask bleeds into blue fur. "Who do you think you are, casting blame when trouble follows you at every turn?"
Vera's gonna snap Nat like a toothpick rip
He tilts his head as he considers us, and then finally breaks the silence. "Sorry to keep you waiting. I had other business to attend to earlier, but now you have my full attention."
hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm is this Saturn...
The words send a chill down my spine, and I freeze as he turns his icy gaze to me. "As for you, Ms. Hart I have to extend my apologies. It's my understanding that up to this point you've been merely a victim of unfortunate circumstance. It's a pity that it's come to this."
"If things go as planned, there won't be anything for them to find."
oh holy shit i got chills
"We're going to die here, aren't we?"
god i fucking hope not
In the split second it takes him to turn around the roar intensifies, the ground trembling beneath us and turning my legs to jello. Riley curses and scrambles away, stumbling as he tries to get to his feet and making a mad dash to reach us. He opens his mouth and starts to shout something --

And that's when the ceiling consumes him in fire and stone.
AUREA NO NOT LIKE THIS PLEASE
There's a flicker of light and a groan that make my eyes snap back open, and I can see the green barrier wavering. I look up and can make out Vera's form arched over me, paws outstretched as she projects the protective sphere. But the bubble is shrinking. She's clearly fighting a losing battle if her enraged howls are anything to judge by.
C'MON VERA YOU NEED TO HELP RILEY PLS
"Hurry," I cough, gagging on the burning smell and the lack of air and the taste of bile on the back of my tongue. I try to go to her, but pain shoots up from my foot into my hip and makes me grit my teeth until they hurt, too. It's only then I discover my leg is pinned under the wreckage.
oh god oh fuck (this is lovely writing but i am too pressed about this situation)
Vera is hunched over, ears pinned flat against her skull. I twist as far as I can and immediately wish I hadn't. Riley's sprawled out like a marionette doll with severed strings, crumpled on the ground and unnaturally still as Vera gathers him onto her lap.
i-- i have no words
Only minutes ago he was alive and breathing but now he is not, now he is dead and he's only ever going to be dead, and I am doomed to watch him rot here before dying myself. The thought sours my stomach and I lose its contents, every motion and thought jerking by like some sort of freak strobe light in my head. I make a frenzied attempt to break free of the rubble because I need to get away, away from the corpse that's growing cold right under my nose and away from this mine that has become our tomb.
This is maybe? the best excerpt from all of Impulse so far. Punchy, well-written, Nat is frenzied, the mine as a tomb, Nat dealing with death in real-time, both Riley's and potentially her own, yeah this is fucking great
I mourn Riley, but I also mourn myself.
killer (unfortunate phrasing) line, as always
Maybe this way when they find us, my Pokemon will go to Chase. At least then I know they'll be well-taken care of.
this made me so damn sad on top of everything, she's just resigning herself to death
Her eyes widen in horror as she realizes what she's done, and although I can no longer understand her whines and croons I can feel her instant regret reverberating in my skull. Despite how bad it hurts and how fast my heart is racing, I know she didn't mean to hurt me.
Vera joins the team?
Which is why I hand over an empty Pokeball, and keep hers tucked away for safekeeping.
Vera joins the team!!!
"N-no," I stammer, hating myself for sounding so vulnerable to her. Hating the way her concern is somehow both disgusting and makes me dissolve further. "Somethin' bad happened, mama," I moan, curling within myself and cradling the phone to my ear like I'm clutching her hand for comfort. "I"
;w; given their last convo, it's so soft to see Nat just default to her mama because that's what you're supposed to be able to do!!!!
I sniffle, bury my face in my arms and choke out a sob. "I want to come home."
i don't blame you Nat
The paramedics on the way to the hospital are the first to tell me so. Three dead, two in critical condition, and then there's me. The one who miraculously walked away. I stare at my hands, wondering if I'm supposed to feel comforted.
the chain of things that Nat should feel lucky for is such a clever theme and it really contrasts her survivor's guilt
She nods at a glass of water by my bedside, a dark ringlet of hair falling in her face. "You'll be happy to know your surgery went off without a hitch. And," she adds, "I know you were worried about the expenses, but news must've traveled fast. Good samaritan paid the bill in full."
...Cyrus? not now please it is not the time
"Didn't catch his name, just said he was a friend," she says with a shrug, "and mentioned he'd like to visit with you. When you're feeling up to it, of course. No rush."
oh lord
Which is probably why all I feel is guilt.
;w;
He blinks calmly at me, flicks a piece of lint off his pants, then looks pointedly at the button. "Only that you hear me out. I can assure you it's in your best interest." When I curl my fist around it protectively, he adds, "Relax, Natalie. Would I have made an investment in your health if I intended to hurt you?"
bitch pleaseeeee
Now that he's got my attention, he wastes no time. He leans forward, resting his elbows on his knees and steepling his fingers. "Over the course of the next week, there are going to be investigators visiting you. What happened at the mine is currently being labeled as an accident. It is going to be revealed that chemical buildup caused the overwhelming wild population of Graveler and Golem to explode unexpectedly, causing a chain reaction. When asked, you will say that you explicitly ignored the guards and snuck into the mines, only to stumble across a wild Golem. When it exploded, you were luckily saved by your friend's Lucario, while he unfortunately perished. You will not mention anything that would lead them to suspect that this ordeal was anything other than what it truly was. An accident." Each syllable is enunciated to drive his point home.
👀 PLEASE STOP
"While I'll take that suggestion into account
aside: LMAO
"just keep in mind how little trouble I had finding you here."
i am scared
"I need a name first. I deserve to at least know who I'm dealing with."

He smirks, as if he'd expected no less. "You can call me Saturn."

His hand feels like ice as I take it.
oh fuck me
They bury Riley on a Tuesday morning, after the first snowfall.
;w; this made me sad
I watch as she fights back tears, biting her lip and looking across the room to the window, and it stirs something inside of me where before there had just been a dull ache. I hobble over to her and use a crutch to push some of the stuff out of my way, so I can plop down next to her. As I awkwardly drape my arm across her shoulders I can feel how tense she is -- practically shaking from holding back.
stop making my favorite character sad
"It's just us. You're not Maylene here."

As she finally allows herself to break down, I hold myself together the only way I managed to all those times I held my mother on the bathroom tile.
;w; this made me sad [x2]
For as long as he can remember, it's just been the two of them.
👀
Their house is old and the floorboards creak at night, and he's too big to believe in the monsters under the bed. But it doesn't stop him from being super suspicious of the ones lurking in the basement.
damn ;w;
The day she meets Eddie, things start to turn around.
this line gave me whiplash for obvious reasons
It drives a wedge between them, because no matter how hard Eddie tries to buy him off with candy, he doesn't like the guy.
kids have good sensors for this type of shit man
He hesitates, heart pounding because they must've found out what he did. They found out, and now they're here to arrest him and lock him up in a jail cell and he's never going to see his mama again. He takes a tentative step back and the cop's door springs open.
!!!
"Mama's gonna be so mad at us, Pepper," he whimpers, sobs devolving into hiccups.
1) Pepper is such a cute name 2) this is so sad god damn it
"The milk," he reiterates, folding his arms crossly and staring at a crack in the sidewalk. "Ms. Swisher always gets mad when I take an extra carton for Pepper. 'Says it's stealing." The two adults exchange a glance that goes unnoticed by him. His nose is crinkled in thought, and it's a moment before he looks up at them. "So you aren't mad?"
poor kid has to steal milk for his growlithe ;w;
He whirls on her, unshed tears stinging his eyes. "Where is she?" he cries, wringing Pepper in his hands.

"What happened to her?"
NOOOOOOOOO STOP KILLING PEOPLE OR WHATEVER IT IS YOU DID AUREA
He'd frowned, but instead of crying he surprised her by ribbing her back. "Yeah well, Dani is a boy's name."
:o so cute!
"I wasn't before?" He immediately withdraws his finger, wrapping it in a square of toilet paper he'd brought from downstairs and wincing. Bites his lip to hide his squeamishness. "Does the blood really make a difference?"
soft
It isn't until he's in the car leaving her behind that he finally chokes out a sob.
poor bb
"Was there a note?" His voice is thick with grief, but his gaze is unwavering as he locks eyes with the older man.
oh god
The guilt clings to him like wet clothes, weighing him down and making him tired all the time. He becomes intolerant of sympathy and avoids it at all costs, which includes sending fewer letters to Dani. He withdraws from his uncle, from his cousin Russ, from his teachers at school.
noooooo don't stop writing dani riley please
The brown paper bag bursts as it hits the sidewalk, and barrels into him. "You bastard," she breathes, digging her nails into his back unforgivingly even as all is forgiven, "you stopped writing."
;w;w;w;w;w;
My room is dark and cold, like it always is in winter. There's a draft coming in through the window that chills me to the bone, so I'm swaddled in a cocoon of blankets. One that I'm not too inclined to crawl out of, which was the excuse I gave my mom for skipping dinner again tonight.
she's back home!
Dalton was my first for a lot of things. First kiss, first time, first guy to cheat on me. First heatbreak, and ironically enough my first friend with benefits, after all that. So maybe it's fitting that he's also the first to reach out to me now that I've returned to Twinleaf.

[2:12 AM] Heard ur back in town.. that was some messed up shit on the news
I lean back against my headboard and huff, hard enough the air blows my overgrown bangs to the side. What do I even say to that? It's the last thing on earth I want to talk or even think about.

It takes me fifteen minutes to type out a reply. His response, however, is immediate.


[2:28 AM] I can help take ur mind off it
oh god this dude is a fucking slimeball nat please
His lips are on my neck and they feel cracked and dry, but I close my eyes and dig deep, reaching for the way I felt when I was fifteen and I couldn't get enough of him -- when this was enough to take my mind off the world.
gross~
His eyes are hazy with confusion as he stares up at me. He gives me a frustrated grunt, gathering his jeans in his hands and forcefully tugging them back on. Shakes his head. "Wow, that bastard really did a number on you. Did Natalie Hartless actually fall in love?" he asks scornfully.
fuck this dude
Because maybe, just maybe, I deserve better than this.
you do!!!!!!
Which is why I'm skeptical when I make my way down the hall, and hear my mom humming off-key along with the radio as she washes the dishes. She hands them off to Clementine, who is holding a cloth in her stubby paws. The Blissey pauses when she catches sight of me, and puffs up as she tries to shoo me out of the kitchen -- twisting the rag into a weapon and cracking it in the air dangerously close to my thigh.
CLEM yay
"Took the morning off. Couldn't do the whole day 'cause we've got a new girl starting tonight, and I want to make sure everything goes smoothly. First night running the place on my own."
timeskip character development!
I don't have the heart to tell her that all I want to do is go to work so I can distract myself. That this house is suffocating, and celebrating another year of life seems selfish, almost unfair considering Riley will never have another birthday.
;w; stop
But I glance at the clock, take a deep breath, and force a smile. "One game."
soft
I forget the leftover cake in the fridge.
why did a line about cake make me so sad who knows
She slams the heels of her hands into the desk, rising to her full height. "Galactic, you fucking idiot. That connect some dots for you?!"
uh-oh
"Don't be naive," she scoffs, leaning forward and lowering her voice. "Riley infiltrated their organization. He had connections and secrets that made him a threat, and you've had enough run-ins with them that it made you a liability, too. Not to mention, Byron's been openly critical of Galactic's business practices. Seems like a lot of coincidences to me." I shrug noncommittally, and she continues undeterred. "Speaking of coincidence, I find it really convenient that your hospital bills were paid in full. Care to explain that?"
damn Cheryl is on a mission
Cheryl stiffens, then deflates like all the air has been sucked out of her. "Y'know, I thought I might be able to get through to you. Convince you to do what's right for Riley, especially after how much he talked you up. But you're still the same cowardly, self-concerned little brat you've always been, and clearly that's not going to change -- so, yeah," she says, words laced with bitter venom, "we're done."
i feel you Cheryl but damn let the girl chill
I bite my lip and pinch the braid in between my left index finger and thumb, freeing up my right hand to yank open the medicine cabinet door and reach inside. Slowly, shakily lower the scissors parallel to the base of my throat. Think better of it, and level them right below my collarbone instead.
👀 nat pls
I gasp when I finally slice all the way through, letting the scissors clatter into the sink basin below. Choke out a sob when I look up and see just how badly I butchered my hair, but my chest shudders with almost giddy wonder as I touch the uneven ends. I hardly recognize myself.
oh she's just cutting her hair okay oof
 

localhoney

grook
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
2002
Caught
May 17, 2020
Messages
262
Location
Miami, FL
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
Electric, Poison
Pokédex Entry
Localhoney, the Sweet Toxin Pokemon. It's said that the sounds it emits can paralyze even a Gigantamax Grimmsnarl.
i'm going to finally catch up right now~
In the hush of winter, I seek my peace.
another classic, lovely line <3
I skirt the banks, heading toward an alcove of trees nearby. There's a large mound in the clearing, with a lone tree jutting out of it. Its leaves are withered and rattle like dry bones in the relentless wind, and it makes my stomach clench uncomfortably. "Tuck?"
poor baby ;w;
Clem tuts behind me impatiently, and that wave of guilt is overcome by another -- the reason we came this far in the dead of night.
👀
Her presence in my mind is nothing more than faint static.
Damn, she's been in the ball for so long and she doesn't even want to communicate with Nat. Not yet at least.
"You've ruined me." The words stop me dead in my tracks, sucking the breath out of me like the wind that howls around us. Her eyes are dark and mournful, and the heat in my mind subsides into a dull ache -- like she doesn't even have the energy to be angry anymore. When she continues, her voice is husky with grief. "He was my aura bond -- without him, I have no purpose. I am incomplete. They would have been showing me mercy, by letting me die defending him. You robbed me of that honor."
literally got chills with those first three words, i don't know how you do this
Her words weigh heavily on me, and my shoulders sag beneath them. Maybe I am a self-centered coward, but...

I drag my fingers through my hair, pulling it to one side and taking a deep breath.

But it doesn't mean I always have to be.
;w; tell 'em Nat!!!
I miss bickering with him, how his cologne clogged my nose and his doofy ass trench coat and that fucking smirk of his that I'm never going to see again. Neither of us will.
;w; god damn you
Her chin dips to the side as she eyes me over her shoulder, and the the hair on the back of my neck stands on end as she snarls, "Not yet you aren't."
👀 UH OH PLEASE VERA
She snorts derisively. "Idiot girl. They'll kill you anyway, the second they find it more convenient for you to cease breathing. And for what? So you can waste away in the middle of nowhere like a coward -- stuck in the same old town, working at the same diner, and wallowing in self pity -- just waiting for that day?" she sneers, ears flat against her skull. "Sounds awful familiar, doesn't it?"
fucking ouch
Before she's even finished her sentence I've slid off Tucker's back, moving in front of him and jabbing my finger at her accusingly. "Shut the fuck up!" I yell, inches from her face, "You think you're so fucking smart just because you can get in my head -- but you aren't, you don't know what the fuck you're talking about! It's not like that."
fight back!!!
If you care so much, set them free. They shouldn't have to be miserable just because you are."
please no
I turn to Tuck, kneeling in front of him and swiping at my eyes. "Thanks for having my back, bud," I murmur. But when I extend my hand to cup his chin, he shies away from me. I freeze and he regards me quietly for a moment, before settling back into his burrow with a heavy sigh -- withdrawing into his shell.
no ;w; Tuck please ;w;

Having another angle of grieving Riley was really great, and it's definitely a great way to get Nat to maybe move her ass. Probably not any time soon because that's how she functions XD but some day!
The spindly trees that are spaced evenly alongside the avenue have been stripped of their leaves, a row of uniform skeletons rattling in the wind
okay keep flexing on me with your skill
I'd recognized the signs, this time. The way my mother's face pinched together with worry when she'd come in from the mailbox. How she was shorter with me at work, went straight to bed when she got home -- not to mention how many trips she made to the convenience store for another pack of smokes.
;w;
Which is why I bought a bus ticket this morning.
YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY
"No way! It's free insulation," he laughs, sliding into the seat across from me. I finally ditch my scarf, and Chase shakes his head as I shake my hair loose. "Seriously though, you look so different without the braid. Not in a bad way," he assures me when I give him a deadpan look, "Just. Different."
Chase is soft
"Neither. Kalosian toast all the way."
finally Nat and I agree on something
He holds up a finger, chews fully and swallows before answering, "Determination and willpower. And, y'know. Counting on you to help."
soft
"Just hear me out," he says, inching forward in his seat to lean over the table. "You could come with me. No high stakes battles -- hell, no pressure to battle at all, if you don't want. Just traveling around together and sightseeing. It'll be just like old times." He looks at me hopefully, eyes liquid brown and warm like a goddamn puppy.
soooooooooft
"Natalie." His forehead is wrinkled, eyes now dark and serious. The sudden intensity catches me off guard. "There's nothing to be afraid of. We can protect you," he says, patting the first Pokeball on his belt. Axel, I'd bet anything.
:o full name!!!
"Because not all of me made it out of there, Chase." The words taste bitter on my tongue. He looks like I've sucker punched him, eyes dark with hurt and sadness and pity. I hike my chin up and nod at the Pokeball belt so we don't get further off track. "They deserve a trainer who can afford to buy them the expensive shit, make them even stronger, let them get out and stretch their legs beyond the path between Twinleaf and Sandge--"
Chase would be nasty if he had all her 'mons ngl
"Natalie, seriously, what is this really about?" There's something in his tone that gives me pause, and I look away. "Whatever it is, you can tell me."
:o full name!!! [x2]
"It wasn't an accident."
ohhhhhhh shit
He's been listening intently this whole time, ever patient, forehead pinched in worry. But beyond the concern for me, there is something else. His shoulders are rigid, jaw taut, fists clenched and nostrils flared. It takes a minute for me to realize that he's angry. Angry at the people responsible for the cave-in, at the League for not doing their job. Angry at himself for not being there. Angry at everyone and everything, except me.
👀 new side of Chase? interesting
I hesitate a moment too long, and he deflates. "Nat, come on. Don't you at least want to try?"
Yeah, Nat, come on!
But nothing's changed. No sign of her then, and nothing now.
damn i was hoping Vera would at least be there to give her the silent treatment
But it doesn't feel the same. I know if I head to the docks, there will be no one waiting for me there. If I call that number, it will ring and go straight to voicemail, like it has every time since that day.
wow break my heart why don't you. she really calls his number even after he died wow i'm so sad. can you imagine? just calling to hear his voice on the voicemail. god. ;w;
But I'm not ready for what comes after.
;w; poor baby
She isn't here to defend me now. But Chase is.
golden boyfriend!
He beams at me, and my chest swells. "Damn right you are. Knock 'em dead, Nat."
golden boyfriend! [x2]
But he doesn't know what I've done.
this line hurt me and i really hope she just talks to Byron and he is nice to her because god this is going to be rough
My lungs burn as I gasp for air, scream raggedly for somebody, anybody to do something!
;w; goddd the aftermath... PTSD is a bitch
Pale light pulses around the Bastiodon, and with a grating screech it launches forward, leaving my Torterra no time to react. It plows into Tucker with such force that the pillar he's pinned against cracks. His tail falls limply to the ground -- unable to summon another Earthquake even if I asked for one.
AUREA PLEASE
Tuck lowers his head obediently and thrusts it against the Bastiodon's with a roar, digging his feet in. The two titans stand in that gridlock for a few moments, neither giving an inch. The crowd, which I've been oblivious to for most of the battle, starts chanting -- and I swear I hear Tucker's name. I can feel the blood rush to my head, can feel my heartbeat in my ears as I watch the Bastiodon's tail lash in futile anger.
Tucker!!! This gave me Dynamax-kaiju-battle vibes, and it's super dope.
"That was a good battle, kid," he says gruffly, "I admire your resilience." Something tells me he's not just talking about the battle.
;w; damn ouch
Byron meets my gaze, pats his pockets, and then frowns. "Challenger, it seems I forgot your badge in my office. Care to join me?"
hmmm rather convenient... something tells me Byron is interested in a chat as well.
But the possibility that stings the most, the one that threatens to tear me apart, is that maybe -- just maybe -- he told Byron about me because he gave a shit about me. Maybe he actually gave a shit and so did I, but now he's fucking dead so it doesn't matter -- doesn't matter that the thought of him being gone permanently makes me ache deep in my bones because I miss him so damn much, doesn't matter that I'm trying to do the right thing now because it's too fucking late. We missed our shot. And nothing I do is ever going to change that, or make things any less fucked up or any more fair.
you really can't let me live you just gotta keep smacking my heart ;w; i love it but damn
"Truthfully, I withheld it because I was hoping to have a word with you, away from the press."
I knew it!
Byron shifts next to me, and I flinch as he lays his broad, warm hand on my shoulder and gives it a gentle squeeze. I look up, confused, and his eyes are rimmed red as he looks down at me. "It's not your fault, kid."
👀 hm???
"I do." Byron says it with such conviction that I have to think he truly does -- he's not faking it for my benefit. "This guy's credible. Well-versed in energy sector, good resume. Contracted out by some big names in the industry --"
ah fuck me Saturn's already been around here
Byron takes a deep breath -- and it sounds like maybe it's the first full breath he's taken in a while. I envy it. He brushes away residual tears, drains his glass, and looks me square in the eye. "Thank you. Really."
ouch
He's none the wiser. He's gotten his closure, and maybe that's enough.
Aurea:tm: Line located!
"So..." He finally turns to face me, and there's a glint in his eye. "If he wants evidence so bad, we'll just have to go find some."
👀
He shrugs, and his shoulders slump forward a bit. Like he's leaning further into his research and away from the question. "Just wasn't for me. I've always wanted to be a trainer. I figure if this doesn't pan out, I can always go back."
mood
But when I knock on his door, bearing caffeinated gifts, there's no answer.
...Aurea...
should never have left Chase alone, should have properly warned him what we were up against, should have fucking told him so he knew the full story, the full risks, so he'd know to just get as far away from me as possible so he could be safe. I'm crying now, near hyperventilating as I frantically punch his number into my Poketch, cursing in frustration as my trembling fingers make me misclick, because every second counts. Every ring lasts an eternity, and I can't get a full breath because it's happening again, it's all my fault again--
AUREA... STOP IT...
"Still at the library. Told you I wasn't giving up that easily," he says with a laugh, one that quickly fades into a yawn. "Didn't want to wake you, I know you were exhausted after your match. But now that you're up, get your butt down here! I've got a lot to show you!"
phew god thank you
What happens now is out of my hands.
i still get chills at this
"Supreme Champion of Sinnoh, Cynthia Morgan." He moves back to the whiteboard, uncaps a marker, and draws a broad line across the board to connect her to Cyrus. "They grew up together. Their parents were friends. It all makes sense now -- Cynthia is covering up for her childhood friend, and the rest of the League is following her lead. I knew they were involved!"
👀 AHHHHHHH
He studies me for a moment, like he's seeing me for the first time. "That's really what you want, Nat? For me to just give up, so the people that murdered Riley can get away with it, and you can go back to being miserable in Twinleaf for the rest of your life?"
damn get her ass Chase
Even though neither of us says the words, it feels like a goodbye.
oh god damn it not like this
Waiting for a knock at my door that never came.
;w;
It starts with fuzziness. My mind feels hazy, unfocused. I do my best to ignore it, but then it blooms into a dull, warm ache at the base of my skull. It takes me a moment to register the sensation, but when I do, I stop dead in my tracks.
Vera!!!!!!!!
My stomach clenches when I see dozens more mounds scattered around the clearing.
oh no
I nearly lose its contents when I see her leg.
oh no
I frantically dig through my bag for healing items. I don't have much anymore, but I do have a burn heal buried somewhere in the bottom of my bag. I spray it on Vera's leg wound and she writhes in agony, eyes snapping open and locking onto mine, wild and glossy.
;w; aurea pls don't do it
Lake Verity is frozen solid.
oh shit oh shit oh shit oh. shit.
I think of Dash, and how limited his options had been even with access to the Pokemon Center. How quickly the nurse had determined the best course of action, how easily I'd been swayed. Dash didn't get a say in the matter because he couldn't speak up, and now Vera can't either. How is this any different?
aurea please ;w;w;w;w;w;
The screen door clatters shut behind me and I take a shuddering breath, caught off guard by the icy air. My fingers tremble as I dig out a cigarette, hurriedly lighting it as I try to collect myself. I -- fuck, I'd been doing so much better around Pokemon recently. Or at least my own. But with the stakes this high, I feel like I can't get a full breath. I inhale raggedly, sucking in smoke and holding it for a second, savoring the burn.
god damn it
:v
"Keep her in her Pokeball," she says curtly. "I'll be there as soon as I can."
dani pls
There's an audible click, and just like that, the final bridge goes up in smoke -- burning out like the cigarette in my fingertips. I toss it on the ground and grind it into the dirt with the heel of my shoe, just to make sure I seal the deal.
this is a great line but i really hope this isn't a burnt bridge and is more akin to the bridge over the frozen river in BOTW that I fell off of 18 million times
She rolls up in a sleek black town car, looking completely out of place in our dumpy neck of the woods. She steps out of the backseat still in her clubbing clothes, stilettos dangling from her fingers as she instructs her driver to wait in the car. She slams the door shut, and then levels her gaze on me. "Start talking."
;w; please just be friends
Dani sets her shoes down and folds her arms across her chest, side-eyeing me. "I'm not--"
...no....
Searing white explodes into my vision. I vaguely feel the floor rush up to greet me, cold and unforgiving. It vibrates as footsteps approach, jarring, and my mother shouts, "Hey! What the hell--"
that shit definitely fucking hurt
Clementine, who I'd just called worthless, who I'd screamed at and been horrible to, is standing up for me.
CLEM!!! ;w;
She bites the inside of her cheek, and then slowly stoops to retrieve Vera's ball. Her thumb brushes across its surface absently. "Were you threatened?"
finally!!! someone fucking asks this!!! why would a teen be willing to put themselves in danger??? nobody's ever asked Nat this y'all are stupid
Dani looms over me, arms crossed as she stares me down. "Don't think it hasn't crossed my mind. You haven't exactly given me good reason to trust you. But I meant what I said earlier, on the phone. She seems happier with you and your ma, even if I don't get it. I won't force her to come."
yay ;w; Clem stays
"Look, I'm sorry," Dani murmurs, "not for punching you, because you damn well deserved that, but… I'm sorry for what you went through." I crack an eye open in surprise, and her hand is extended to me.
tense acquaintance-ship?
He grunts and holds a finger up as he walks by, putting me on pause as he grabs a mug out of the cabinet. "This seems like the sort of conversation better done in my office. With coffee. Wouldn't you agree?" I bite my lip and cross my arms impatiently, waiting as he fills his cup, stirs in a packet of sugar, and tests it. Only once he's had a sip does he regard us once again, inclining his head toward his office door. "Now then, shall we?"
Rowan, me too. Nat stresses me out as well.
"Well," Rowan says, not breaking eye contact with me. "That seems like a lot of weight for one person to carry. It was courageous of you to speak up."
;w; that's what im saying
I want so badly for him to be right.
same.

one away!!!
the dripping window, the ticking clock, the window, clock, window,
yesssssss i've noticed ppl comment about this and it's perfect, i can feel Nat ready to do something more than just wallow in grief in Twinleaf
There’s not enough noise in the world to drown out my thoughts today.
same, girl, same
When Lucas arrived at Lake Valor, he had stumbled across a similar scene to what I uncovered at Verity. Dozens of frozen carcasses -- Magikarp and Goldeen, mostly -- strewn across the shoreline. A thin sheet of ice glazed over the surface of the water, a glassy mirror of gray sky above.
ah shit
I want so badly to hear his voice.
call him! stupid! i am scared though bc this means Chase is occupied
My tongue digs into my cheek, arms folded. “Don’t know why you’d think that. You academic types are such a bundle of joy.”
:v Nat, please, the attack on my identity
“Here, like in Twinleaf?” He nods, and I shrug. “Where the hell else am I supposed to go?”
literally anywhere else
“I didn’t know you were married.”
;w; this made me sad
“You can’t outrun grief.”
Aurea Line:tm:
Rowan nods. “To say the least. I was so caught up in my own troubles, I didn’t take into account that Lucas was mourning, too. And I’d abandoned him to deal with all of that on his own.”
damn. way to make me feel bad for Lucas
but I suspect it’s not where your heart resides.
yeah it resides in golden boy Chase's hands

Phew. That took a little while. Where to even begin?

I started reading this story when I first messaged you/you messaged me on Discord. I needed a fic to read, and Impulse was a behemoth, but I figured it'd be a fun little project to tackle. The first few chapters were a grind, just because I couldn't quite get behind Nat, she just kinda bothered me. At some point though, you hit your stride and never looked back. I'm still hurt about Ivan and Dash and all your 'mons that we've lost along the way, let alone Riley. But they were all important for Nat, which made them important for us. Plus, characters like Dani and Chase and Rowan make this story a treat to read, and I am ultra excited to see where Nat sticks her nose in once she leaves Twinleaf.

I know you said it's rare that somebody reads Impulse all the way through these days, but you deserve it! You're an incredible writer, with a clear passion for your characters and this story, and I am glad to call myself your friend. Much love <3 (but if you fucking kill anybody else I will end you)
 

Aurea

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Pokédex No.
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Jun 9, 2019
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Location
Sinnoh Region
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Psychic, Steel
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #778
RECAP
  • Three days have passed since Chase and Lucas headed out to check on lakes Acuity and Valor, respectively. Lucas discovered a similar scene, but no one has heard from Chase since his departure.
  • Nat walks out on her job at the diner to talk to Rowan. He doesn't have any updates for her, but asks her what's keeping her in Twinleaf. When she can't answer him, he suggests that she's restless because her heart doesn't reside there anymore.
  • Their conversation finally gives her the resolve to move forward, which brings us to this chapter!

REPLIES
Short thought this chapter is, it does highlight the importance of the Twinleaf mini-arc chapters, if that's what we're calling them. In the face of tragedy and hardship, Nat's gone and retreated into her old self, and it's taking her a while to peek back out of it, to rise above.

And yes, I can tell that Rowan if your favourite professor. He's just wonderful here.

Also, well, it must be said. It can't go ignored. To do so would be a disservice, truly. The thing about any fic that reaches this monumental length, you see... it's an accomplishment, yes, but more than that... well.... *points at the chapter number* haha nice
Sure, we can call them that! And God am I happy to hear that it helps spotlight the importance, because while these have been some of my favorites to write, I have worried a lot about it dragging on too long. She's definitely peeking her head back out now though, and we won't be here for much longer. GOOD, I'm glad you can tell, Rowan is such a gem. 😭 Hopefully no one minds me shining that spotlight on him from time to time.
I'll tell you one thing, you're really making me love Rowan more and more. You've got me pumped for chapter 70 (*snicker* kept forgetting what number we're on here) and seeing Nat get back into the action. :)
Oh, I'm so glad to hear that! ;w; He doesn't get nearly enough love. I've adored him ever since my first playthrough in Sinnoh when he clearly shows he has no tolerance for Galactic's bullshit and called them out. xD There's definitely a little action in this one! Last chapter of the mini-arc~
Yessss, rowan lovers unite!! Also:

Please stop stealing quotes from my sunlocke, this shit is too good. Honestly the entire interaction between rowan and nat was so good and resonated so well this chapter. I'm glad it's a short, very contained, intimate chapter. It really lends weight to the small moments.

That being said, I am DYING to get the fuck outta twinleaf and stop watching nat twiddle her thumbs and feeling bad for herself. I'm ready to see how this next arc shapes up, and in turn, how it shapes nat!
Aaaaa I'm so glad it resonated, and that it felt like it was the right length? I worried about that a lot, but I'm glad that it seemed to fit the tone and added that weight. I feel a little bit better about the decision to split it from this chapter, now. ;w;

Me too tbh, and we are indeed on our way out of Twinleaf and back into the thick of it! Nat's done twiddling her thumbs, and I hope the payoff is worth it.
The ticking clock tied these scenes together so well, and in a way, I think it helps set the stage for Nat beginning to take action again.


I want so badly for her to hear Chase's voice too 😭 Though I also want to say that this hurt because I thought of Nat calling Riley and getting his voice mail just to hear his voice so like, double whammy :')


I love your Rowan. I love him so much, he's a takes-no-shit man that always just Knows, and his dynamic with Nat is like... Idk, he fills a fatherly sort of role for her and I love it.


Especially considering how he sees right through her here hehe.

Also I know you were unsure about this line but I fucking love it, it has me grinning so bad. Acknowledge your feelings for him Nat, pleaseee.


😭 Pine... Chase...... 😭😭 I want them to reunite soon, pls write more, I'll bully you.
I love that you pick up on all these subtle things, like the ticking clock, her immediate panic response to voicemail because of Riley, the smell of pine... all of it. ;w; It's so validating to see you point those things out, thank you. ;; (and ty for your reassurance for that line bc writing it made me feel like a mf cornball lmao) I hadn't thought too much about it, but yeah, Rowan definitely slots into that type of role for Nat well. Which I suppose is natural, since he fills that role for Lucas as well. Maybe that's why they fight like siblings. xD
This chapter... "short but sweet" doesn't even begin to define it.

I love how cyclical it is. Thirteenth already pointed out the clock, but we've got Nat skipping her job then, and skipping her job now. In some ways she's barely changed from back then, but in others she's changed a lot... I love love love Rowan in this. (And yes, I could tell he's your favorite, hehe c:) Just the way he nurtures Nat slowly out of her funk, asking questions and not pressing until the exact moment he needs to. It's perfect.



This was perfect. And so was the ending. Just fabulous!
Oh, I'm so happy to hear that. ;;;;; I was hoping it wouldn't feel out of place or... unsubstantial, I guess? Like I said to Thirteenth, it thrills me that you picked up on some of those parallels. And that you love Rowan, because yeah, I'm obviously pretty smitten with him as far as professors go, he's such a gruff ol' badass, but he knows how to be gentle and supportive when it counts. Thank you, Dee! ❤
I appreciate having this downbeat, one-on-one chapter after the previous one. Going from something as emotionally charged as 68 to a legitimately stoic scene here makes a lot of sense not just in who’s involved but just in the process of Nat moving forward again. And, I mean, nobody better than Rowan to be that force at this point. Then you add in the parallels between this and her dropping out of high school, except hopefully going in a totally opposite direction, and it’s one of my favorite chapters to date honestly. It’s a skill to properly set and create a single scene that’s worth a chapter in and of itself, but you def pull it off with this.

Also, it def isn’t but it feels the first ever chapter of Impulse that ends with an actual smile. Awwwwwwww.
Like I've mentioned to others, I'm so so happy to hear it didn't feel out of place, and felt like a natural segue from the chapter before, because I was worried af. xD I definitely wanted it to feel a little static, because that's how Nat's been feeling - just stuck, and pretty helpless. Rowan is a force of nature, though a gentle one, and once I started writing it it just made so much sense that things come full circle and he be the one to give Nat that final nudge. It means so much to hear that it's one of your favorites so far, holy shit, thank you Gar ;;;;;;;;
Phew. That took a little while. Where to even begin?

I started reading this story when I first messaged you/you messaged me on Discord. I needed a fic to read, and Impulse was a behemoth, but I figured it'd be a fun little project to tackle. The first few chapters were a grind, just because I couldn't quite get behind Nat, she just kinda bothered me. At some point though, you hit your stride and never looked back. I'm still hurt about Ivan and Dash and all your 'mons that we've lost along the way, let alone Riley. But they were all important for Nat, which made them important for us. Plus, characters like Dani and Chase and Rowan make this story a treat to read, and I am ultra excited to see where Nat sticks her nose in once she leaves Twinleaf.

I know you said it's rare that somebody reads Impulse all the way through these days, but you deserve it! You're an incredible writer, with a clear passion for your characters and this story, and I am glad to call myself your friend. Much love <3 (but if you fucking kill anybody else I will end you)
I know we've already discussed at length but local, I can't tell you how much it means that you stuck it out AND took the time to share your thoughts on the story as you caught up. It's not the easiest read, especially early on, but seeing you drop comments legit brightened my whole damn week. I'm so glad the characters have stuck with you and made it fun to read (even when Nat was a particularly difficult pill to swallow early on), and that the deaths hit hard. Thank you for being such an incredible friend, I am so happy you made your way back to the forums and that we got to talking, can't express enough how much I value your friendship. ❤

CHAPTER 70
Waiting for me at home is dinner, and an earful from my mother.

I let her lay into me without protest, staring at the bowl of stew in front of me that's long gone cool, nodding my head mechanically when it feels appropriate. I'm only half-listening. My brain has been going nonstop since my revelation at the lab, trying to process and develop some semblance of a plan.

It's freeing, in a way I hadn't expected. I walked home with renewed resolve, a purpose, something to keep me from feeling so goddamn useless.

At least now I know for certain what has to be done.

"Nat!" Her voice is sharp, jerking me from my thoughts. I look up slowly, and she shakes her head. "How many times am I going to have to put my ass on the line for you at work?"

"Sorry," I say, the apology croaking out of me after going so long without getting a word in edgewise. "It won't happen again."

She opens her mouth, like maybe she wasn't done scolding, but also wasn't expecting me to go down without a fight. "Honestly, Nat, what's gotten into you?"

I choke down a spoonful of stew, fighting the urge to grimace. It sits like a cold stone in the pit of my stomach, and I stir the remainder of my dinner listlessly. It isn't until she clears her throat that I realize she's expecting an answer. All I can offer is a shrug. "Some days are harder than others." Something in her expression changes. She stretches a hand across the table like maybe she's reaching for mine, but I'm already dabbing at my mouth with a napkin and leaning away from the table. "Can I be excused? I'm not really hungry…"

She looks pointedly at the nearly full bowl in front of me, but doesn't stop me from getting to my feet and rinsing the remainder down the sink. No point in salvaging leftovers I won't be around to eat, or throw out once they go bad. The less lingering reminders of my absence, the better.

I spend the rest of the evening in my room, laying on my bed and staring up at the ceiling. The shadows slowly creep across my room, the light fading from warm, sunset yellow to dismal gray, and eventually snuffing out altogether. My stomach gurgles, but the thought of eating anything is enough to make me gag. My bones ache, weary from lack of sleep, but I'm wide awake. Waiting and listening.

The television downstairs clicks off, and the wooden floor groans beneath my mother's feet as she walks down the hall to her bedroom. I hear her pause at the bottom of the stairs, as if she's tempted by my door hanging slightly ajar to check on me. But she must think better of it.

I wait until enough time has passed for her to fall asleep before rolling out of bed, landing lightly on the balls of my feet. My traveling bag is sitting in the bottom of my closet next to my hamper, buried by the overflow of dirty clothes I haven't found the energy to wash. I dig it out and set it on my bed, taking stock of what remains of my supplies. There's a 24 hour mart in Jubilife, but I'd rather not make unnecessary pit stops if I can avoid it.

I pack extra layers, a box of matches along with my lighter, my utility knife, and my lightweight bedroll. I haven't slept outside in what feels like ages, and never in the dead of Sinnovan winter. I have to hope it'll be enough to keep me warm if I get stranded.

The stairs are a game of minesweeper to navigate, but I'm well-practiced at sneaking out without the floorboards announcing my every move. Clementine is asleep in the old recliner in our living room, tilted back as far as she can and snoring softly. I detach her Pokeball from my belt and recall her, not wanting to upset her if she woke to discover I was leaving, again, with no intention of bringing her along. I place the sphere on the kitchen table and find myself wondering if she'll be aware enough to realize that I left without saying goodbye. Cognizant enough to hold it against me.

It may not even matter, in the end.

I'm in the middle of raiding the cupboard when I hear the floor creak behind me, startling me enough that I nearly jump. I pause, my hand resting on a packet of tuna, but don't look over my shoulder -- scrambling for an excuse or a reason for rifling through the cabinets so late at night.

"It wasn't just the one, was it?"

My heart is pounding in my ears, adrenaline pumping from being caught -- and it takes a moment for it to click what she means. I turn to face her slowly, still gripping the packet of tuna in my hand like a lifeline.

She takes my silence as agreement, sliding into one of the kitchen chairs with a sigh. "We watched your last gym battle at the diner, y'know. It'd become something of an event for us. You were incredible." She looks down at her hands, clasped around Clem's Pokeball on the table. "I've never seen you look so confident."

I swallow hard, the words twisting in my stomach uncomfortably. My excuse has been handed to me on a silver platter -- I should be relieved. But I just feel nauseous. I try to keep my tone upbeat, hoping to convince her. "Yeah. Supposedly the payout for seventh tier matches is insane. May as well shoot my shot. What have I got to lose?"

My bag is packed. All that's left is to say goodbye, but I hesitate. It's painfully apparent that I'd intended to leave without giving her one. She nods, as if to acknowledge I'm right, and sighs. "You're leaving tonight?"

I adjust my bag on my shoulders, shame flushing my cheeks. "Yeah. There's a few things I need to take care of before I go."

If she's curious, she doesn't let on. Just nods, distantly, and reaches for Clementine's Pokeball. "Well, if nothing else, you should take her with you. She was a pill to deal with the last time you left her behind."

I stare at the shiny red top, grinding my teeth and scrambling for an excuse to leave her -- where she's safe from harm, just like I promised Dani. "Don't you need her here?"

She exhales a puff of dry laughter. "I managed without a maid my entire life, I think I can get on just fine." I must do a piss-poor job of hiding my doubt, because she insists, "I will. Besides, it's only for a little while, right? Might be good to have a healer with you."

"Yeah, maybe," I say unconvincingly.

She extends Clem's Pokeball to me, and I'm too exhausted and heartsick to come up with an excuse to refuse her, so I relent. Her hands close around mine as I take the sphere, and I look up in surprise. It startles me, how haggard she looks in the dim lighting.

"You don't have to do this," she says quietly. "I know things are tough right now, but… we could figure it out. We always do. You could just stay."

I want to reassure her. I want to tell her the truth. I want her to force me to stay, and I want to kick myself for thinking she could. She doesn't know the gravity of the situation -- doesn't know that I'm about to attempt something far more dangerous. She can't know I've accepted there's a good chance I won't be back.

But I know staying isn't an option anymore.

I pull out of her grip gently, and she doesn't fight it. I pocket Clem's Pokeball, unable to meet her gaze. "I'm sorry. This is something I have to do. I'll be back home soon."

"Okay." Her hand hangs uselessly in the air for a moment, before falling to her lap. "Okay," she breathes again, quieter this time, pushing herself up to head back to bed.

It occurs to me that this could be it. My last time in this house, my last conversation with my mother -- and it doesn't sit well with me to leave it like this. I can't stand the thought of my last words to her being a lie.

My voice threatens to break when I speak. "Mom..."

Before she can even fully turn around, I've shoved my arms around her for a tight hug, burying my face in her shoulder. I cling to her for dear life.

"Love you…" I mutter into the fabric of her nightshirt. At first she tenses, surprised, and then she squeezes me back clumsily. I break away as abruptly as I'd initiated, shouldering my bag and heading out into the night air before she can say anything in response.

I swipe at my nose, trying to stave off tears as I bring up my contacts on my Poketch. The other line rings twice before picking up.

"Hey, you up? I need a favor."

[-:-]

The walk to Sandgem goes by in a blur of snowy white and evergreen, my muscles pulling me along on autopilot. Falling snow mutes everything other than the sound of my footfalls and the relentless wind. I'm numb to all of it.

There's a train in Jubilife that runs north through the Spine. It stops at Route 216 and 217, and eventually ends up at the Snowpoint City station. If Chase had managed to make it there, we surely would've heard from him by now. It's not much to go off of, but it's all I've got right now. The buses to the city have stopped running by now, but I figure if I walk through the night, I should be able to reach the Jubilife train station by morning.

Most of Sandgem's windows are shuttered against the cold, leaving the town dark and still -- all but the lab up the hill. The lights are still on, and it's enough to break my focus and make me slow to a halt. What on earth is Rowan doing here so late?

My pulse quickens, my thoughts running away with every possible worst scenario. I'm a moth drawn to the glow, dread creeping through my veins like frost.

The door is locked. I let out a shaky breath, with no idea what the fuck I intend to do if there is something wrong, but swing one of the knockers anyway. I step back and listen for a moment, and I'm about to give up and keep moving when the door cracks open and spills light across my feet. "Natalie?"

"Oh," I whisper, trying not to sound too relieved to see Lucas, just Lucas, standing in the doorway. "Sorry. I thought you were Rowan."

"He went home hours ago," he says. "What are you doing here so late at night?"

"I could ask you the same thing."

He hesitates, the door inching open a little further as he rubs at his eyes under his glasses. They're bloodshot, with dark shadows beneath them. "There's still a lot we don't know about the lakes. Researching makes me feel useful."

I look to my feet. "Yeah."

He considers me for a moment, eyeing the travel bag slung over my shoulder, and opens the door a little wider. "Well look, I just brewed a pot, if you'd like to join me. I certainly don't need the whole thing, and we're letting all the cold air in."

I shouldn't. I came to Sandgem with a purpose, and the sooner I put distance between myself and this place, the better. But the warmth of the lab and the strong smell of coffee lures me in. "Just until my fingers thaw."

I ease into one of the lobby chairs, sliding my bag off my back to rest on the floor. Lucas pours two mugs, and hands me one before taking a seat. I curl my fingers around it, inhaling deeply and letting the warmth creep through my gloves. "Thanks." He nods in acknowledgement, blowing on his coffee to cool it off. We sit in silence for a few moments, though not a fully uncomfortable one. If you'd told me at the beginning of all this I'd be willingly having coffee with Lucas in the middle of the night, I'd have laughed. I guess we've learned to tolerate each other, after all this time.

Still, I think we're both a little surprised when I say, "I think I owe you an apology…"

He blinks. "For?"

My lip curls in a rueful grin. "Do you remember when you met up with us in Jubilife? I questioned the professor's intentions, and you blew up on me. I couldn't understand why he'd choose to help a nobody like me, and I was convinced there had to be some ulterior motive. Well, turns out I was wrong," I mutter, holding my mug up to my lips and hiding behind it, "about both of you. Sorry for being such a dick."

"Don't worry about it. I wasn't exactly welcoming of you and Chase from the start."

"Can I ask you something though?" He raises his eyebrows expectantly, and I take that as permission. "Why Sandgem? I mean, you're a real smart guy. You grew up in the city, I'm sure there's no shortage of opportunities for you there beyond this bumfuck town."

He shrugs, like he's never given it much thought. "I mean, maybe. But Rowan's family. I wouldn't be where I am without him."

"Right..." I sag further into the chair with a groan. "I'm about to do something monumentally stupid, Lucas, and since Rowan isn't here, I need your help."

"Convincing argument so far," he snorts, but I think he sees the look in my eye, because he sits up a little straighter. "What are you planning to do?" My eyes slide to my bag on the floor, and he sucks in a breath. "Natalie, even you can't possibly be that stupid. You think if even Chase got stranded, you have a snowball's chance in hell of finding him? Or even surviving in that kind of storm?"

"I have to do something," I growl. Because I didn't do anything in the mines. I didn't do anything, and now Vera's on the brink of death, Dani hates my guts, Riley's pushing daisies and -- and I'll be damned if I lose Chase, too. "Look, I don't expect you to understand or agree, but you're not going to stop me. I've made up my mind."

Lucas holds his face in his hands, staring at me between the cracks in his fingers. Like he's watching a car wreck in progress but can't quite look away. "You're serious?"

I nod. "He'd do it for me without thinking twice."

He must recognize that, because he doesn't fight me on it any further. "So what do you need from me?"

"I've been thinking a lot, and… Look, if something happens to me, I'd ideally want my Pokemon to go to Chase. But if neither of us make it back…" I swallow hard. "I think they could be happy here, with you and the professor. Can you promise me you'll look after them, if it comes to that?"

It's clearly not what he was expecting. "Of course."

He takes me to Rowan's office, where we sit down and hash out a brief legal document, ensuring that my Pokemon will be safe if something happens to me. I think of Tucker, nestled in the heart of the vivarium and basking in the eternal warmth, and my stomach turns. No wonder he resents me. I robbed him of a peaceful life.

Lucas taps the dotted line, and I don't think twice about signing.

Maybe, when this is all said and done, I can give that back to him. To all of them.

Once the document is in order, Lucas insists on assessing the preparations I made for my journey. He doesn't seem impressed, because he goes rummaging through the lab's fielding supplies to supplement my stash. He trades out my moth-eaten bedroll for a weather-proof sleeping bag, shoves a triangle-folded mylar emergency blanket into my hands along with some waterproof firestarter, and asks me what I plan to do for water.

Apparently, eating the readily available snow is the wrong answer.

"Arceus, you really are going to die," he groans, digging the heels of his hands into his eyes. I glower at him, and he shakes his head before producing a stainless steel thermos. "Here, you can use this to gather snow and melt it to drink. Otherwise you're just going to dehydrate yourself faster. Don't they teach this stuff in school?"

"Wouldn't know." I nearly fumble it when he tosses it to me. "Thanks. For this and, y'know. All your faith in me."

He shakes his head and sighs through his nose, like maybe I'd have cracked a smile out of him if the situation wasn't so dire. "So this is it, then? Up to Jubilife?"

"Almost." I shoulder my bag, testing the added weight of all the additional supplies. "I have one more stop to make, first."

[-:-]

Dalton's apartment reeks of familiarity and stale cigarettes. It clings to me as I walk through the front door, assails me like a plume of smoke as I sit on the couch, on the cushion that still has a wallow from all the nights spent drinking and listlessly watching his staticky tv. Despite the way my skin crawls, it looks like he actually made some attempt to clean up before I arrived. At the very least, the coffee table in front of the couch has been cleared off to make room for his collection.

"So we've got a couple of options here," he says, eyeing me carefully as I pick up the gun closest to me and test its weight in my hands. "All filed down and untraceable. For a -- shit Nat, not like that, you're going to blow your fucking head off," he says, reaching over and adjusting my grip. It takes everything in me not to yank my hand away from his touch. "That baby is way more than you need."

I scoff, setting it down heavily on the table just to watch him squirm at my carelessness. "Then why bother showing it to me?"

He raises his hands up in mock defense. "Hey, nothin' wrong with having options. Especially since you won't tell me what shit you got mixed up in."

"Because it's none of your business," I say, averting my gaze, "so just tell me which one you recommend so we can get this over with."

"Glad you asked," he says, smile splitting wide and sending an unsettling shiver down my spine. He grabs the smallest of the spread and extends it to me, with all the tenderness and care he never reserved for me. "That little beauty is a compact 9mm. Lightweight, not too much kickback, and reliable."

I turn it over in my hands slowly, fingers brushing over the cool metal. I try not to think about how it felt pressed against my temple. "How much?"

"That depends," he says with a coy smile. I'm suddenly very aware of his arm, draped across the back of the couch as he closes the gap between us. His other hand slides uncomfortably high, resting on my inner thigh, fingertips dimpling my jeans. "I'm willing to consider it a favor."

"Pass," I hiss through gritted teeth. I pull out my wallet to make my point, shifting to the edge of the couch and away from him. "I have cash."

"Oh c'mon, Natty, don't play hard to get." He brushes my hair across my shoulders, frowning slightly at the length. I've never been so thankful to no longer have my braid. "You could've called in a favor with anyone. But you're here again."

I shove his hand away, but my voice falters. "Don't flatter yourself, you're just the first scumbag to show up in my contacts."

Dalton leans back in and chuckles, so close I can feel the heat of his breath, taste the menthol that's practically oozing from his pores. "Like you're any better than me, just because you fucked off to play Pokemon trainer for a few months. Might not know what shit you got mixed up in, but I do know you ain't got the balls to use that thing." I wince, my gaze dropping to my lap. "You're scared shitless, and you came looking for comfort. You ain't fooling anyone."

There's a lilt to his voice -- the remnants of mocking laughter. He still thinks he has the privilege of knowing anything about me.

"I don't need shit from you anymore." I slam the bills down on the table, not bothering to count them. "That should be more than enough. We're done here." I stand to leave, gun in hand, when he catches me by the wrist and tries to pull me back down onto his lap.

It's reflex to swing on him.

Dalton shrieks, reeling away and clutching at his nose. Blood seeps through his fingers, and he looks at me in shock. "Did you just -- bitch!"

He staggers toward me, and my eyes dart to the weapons strewn on the table between us. I step forward and train my gun on him, holding it as far away from me as possible, like it might bite me otherwise.

It stops him dead in his tracks, and he lets out a mangled, wet noise that might pass as a laugh. "Are you fucking kidding me right now? You don't even know how to use that thing, babe."

The hammer clicks into place, and I relish the way the color drains from his face. "Now seems like as good a time as any to learn."

"Fuck you," he spits, a fine spray of blood flying from his lips. "We both know you don't have the guts. I hope whoever did that to your face comes back to finish the job." He turns, slowly, and moves to the kitchen to grab a towel to staunch the bleeding. I grab my bag and back out the door, not taking my eyes off him until it clicks shut between us.

My heart thuds in my chest, adrenaline making my extremities tingle and my head feel fuzzy. The weight of the gun in my hand is foreign. Nerve-wracking, when I think about the potential it has, the damage it's capable of causing -- yet somewhat reassuring to know it's power I now have at my disposal. It's not an entirely unfamiliar feeling. It takes me a moment to place it, but when I do, the thought is repulsive enough that I shove the gun into the bottom of my bag. Even stashed out of sight, I still feel the unsettling weight on my shoulders as I make my way out of town.

It reminds me of the way I felt when I first held Ivan's Pokeball in my hands.

We're on our way now, folks! Only took 70 chapters to find some conviction. :v But! Things are finally moving again. And hey, we've finally made an addition to the Core Four to boot! I'm sure many of you saw the addition of Clem coming. In truth she was actually added a bit later to the team than this, but I wanted to include her early on when the opportunity arose, and the moment just felt right now for her to officially join the squad. She came from the egg in Hearthome, and it wasn't until just after Candice that I thought to slap the EXP share on her and see what happened. I'd never used a Blissey before and haven't seen one in a Nuzlocke, so I wasn't expecting her to become a permanent fixture. But she added some much needed bulk to the squad. So Nat's back to a team of five! Or, technically a full squad if we want to count the gun.

The final scene of this chapter has been at least partially written for... I wanna say two years now? I've been dying to get to it. It's a key turning point for Nat. It's always one step forward, two steps back with this one, but she's finally had enough. She's finally got some resolve, and she's tired of getting walked all over. She doesn't feel like she's got much more to lose. And I am SO excited to continue to develop her from this point, as the plot ramps up.

Thanks for sticking with me. ❤ Going to take a short hiatus from posting Impulse, just to rebuild my buffer a bit/allow myself to write dandelion guilt-free (especially now that I've added grad school to my already overflowing plate), but I hope to have another update out before the end of the year!

CURRENT TEAM:
TUCKER
KIARA
JADE
TOBY
CLEMENTINE
 

Wwarborday

Gradually Becoming Productive
Pokédex No.
153
Caught
Jun 28, 2019
Messages
223
Location
Gaytown
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
He/him/his
Pokémon Type
Ground, Ice
Pokédex Entry
I'm Doing My Best
Y'know. It's a goddamn shame Nat and Annie (remember her?) never hung out.
 

spikesgirl1

Lugia Worshiper
Pokédex No.
446
Caught
Jul 9, 2019
Messages
53
Pokémon Type
Fire, Ghost
Yesss, Clem is an excellent addition to the team! And weirdly enough, even though she's fictional, I feel so proud of Nat for stepping up and also kicking some Dalton butt. Suppose it's like reading a really good book at this point, haha.
 

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