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Thread Description
"We are known not by our light, but our darkness." Chapter 88 up [11/22]

Spectacles

Rule Maker
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
139
Caught
Jun 24, 2019
Messages
690
Location
Pennsylvania
Nature
Jolly
Pronouns
she/her
Pokémon Type
  1. Fairy
Pokédex Entry
It hides deep inside caves where no light ever reaches it and remains virtually motionless there. ~Pokemon Crystal, entry #52
DANG! OUCH! Poor Raikou. Although honestly I have a slight relief from this, in that I was partially afraid that Raikou was being introduced as a replacement for Denri-which I knew would only happen if Denri died. So there's that bright side, at least for me lol.
 

Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
1,002
Location
Zion National Park
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They/Them
Pokémon Type
  1. Bug
  2. Clever
Pokédex Entry
A regular writer of fanfics and other works, this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #322
Entei is absolutely horrible and she deserves whatever she gets at the end of this. She's responsible for both her brothers' deaths now, and the world will be better off without her.

I'm so sorry you never got to use Raikou the way you wanted to. It's a true shame. He shall be avenged.

Thanks! Entei is... I feel bad for her, but she's gotta go. In a way, she's even worse than Lovrina, who is basically just evil for evil's sake (and because she's got a dark god kicking around in there lol). Entei is deluded to the point where she's positive that she's the victim, that she's right and I made sure that certain phrasings in the chapter, specifically her musing that she could hopefully someday forgive Raikou, indicate just how cemented she is in her inability to perceive the world in a way other than what she has come to accept.

And yeah, it was a real bummer I couldn't use my legend...


...It's Yveltal?!?!
I mean i guess that makes sense

It is! Of course, in my verse, the legendaries aren't just the superpowered animals they are in the games. They are gods, with all that entails, and Yveltal is a very, very scary one.


I'm gonna be honest, for most of this story, I've felt sympathetic towards Entei's plight, but after this chapter???? Yeah no, I'm with Trollkitten, she deserves everything that's coming for her.

Though I was so shocked with how intense Raikou lost to the shadows when he started fighting Entei. Though I guess it makes sense with how cruel and tightly she grabbed to destroying part of the world to ensure Ho-Oh's return 😬

Good lord that whole fight scene was so intense, the way you wrote their arguments both verbal and physical??? Incredible, I was on the edge of my seat

Thank you! And yeah, valid, that's basically the intended reaction to Entei as a character--sympathetic, but also yeet her right outta there. As for Raikou, it should hopefully make sense; he's been in the shadow's thrall for decades, and has been free for less than a week. It's still going to get its hooks in him, especially when confronted with the origin of his strife!


friendship is op pls nerf 😔

But, hey, maybe our Jagen unit will whittle the boss down so we can give ourselves the EXP!


XnSuKBc.png


Well, damn, Shadow, you coulda killed Entei, but, instead, her new anime scar only made her stronger! D:<

That meme had me howling, especially with the band-aids all over Entei, this was on point!

Also her anime scar has not made her stronger, except in the very specific sense that she is now a stronger customer at the eyepatch store!


DANG! OUCH! Poor Raikou. Although honestly I have a slight relief from this, in that I was partially afraid that Raikou was being introduced as a replacement for Denri-which I knew would only happen if Denri died. So there's that bright side, at least for me lol.

So I actually didn't intend for Raikou to replace Denri at all; I was fully prepared to have a rotating team of seven pokemon with two strong Electric-types, but Colosseum said not today 😔



“HALF BLIND,” HE CALLED ME. A CRUEL JIBE AS HE STOLE MY EYE. BUT HE’S WRONG. ALL OF THEM ARE AND WERE WRONG. WHEN YOU RETURN, MASTER, THEY’LL SEE THAT I WAS RIGHT. THEY HAVE TO. THEY HAVE TO.



---



Thoughts raced through Denri’s head as he and his compatriots headed for the cave. Raikou… truth be told, it was hard for Denri to think of the legendary as a compatriot. Raikou had beaten them up in the lab, met them here, and then died. But Denri still pitied him. To have spent decades corrupted by the enemy, only to die an agonizing death scarcely a week after going free… no pokemon deserved that. And the one who had engineered it all had gotten away.



He shook his head, clearing his thoughts. He could focus on Entei later. For now, they had a job to do: protect the Relic.



The choppers had touched down around the same time he, Striga, and Luna had made it back to the cave with their trainer. He prayed wordlessly for Kata to return with Reed and Dune soon. Something told him they were going to need it.



A man that Denri couldn’t place hopped out of the foremost chopper, followed by Venus, and he felt Rui tense behind him. “Skrub,” she hissed. Ah—Kata’s old trainer, the one who had led the assault on the Agate Relic. It made sense they would send the same person twice.



Skrub’s brows raised in recognition, and then he sighed, releasing his team: a Loudred, an Armaldo, and a Golduck.



“Back off,” Rui said, her voice firm. Denri admired that she wasn’t betraying any of the apprehension she was doubtlessly feeling. “Or I’ll—”



“Shut up,” Skrub said wearily. “We have you outnumbered, and I don’t want to deal with this anymore.” He waved his hand at his pokemon. “Destroy the Relic and the girl too, if you can.”



Hungry for the first shot, Denri led off by launching a bolt at the Golduck, but the Armaldo cut it off with a spray of earth, clacking. Denri circled it warily. Fossil pokemon were rare, and it could be tricky to battle them.



“Rui!” Luna barked, her rings glowing bright. “Get out of the line of fire!”



From the corner of his eye, Denri saw his trainer’s face pale—but then she ducked inside the cavern. And not a moment too late. More goons were filing out of the choppers, and each of them had at least one pokemon to release. Some had two. Beyond Skrub’s team, they found themselves staring down Machoke and Thievul and Drowzee and many others. And if none of them looked nearly as powerful as Skrub’s team, Denri still didn’t relish the thought of taking them all on.



“Let’s do this,” he muttered, and then they exploded into action.



The Loudred sucked in a huge breath and then ripped a tremendous scream loose, the sound smashing into Denri like a freight train. He dropped to one knee, grunting, and sent a bolt the pokemon’s way, but the Drowzee conjured a starry barrier to weaken his blast. The cipher team knew how to use their pokemon well, keeping the weaker pokemon back as support while letting Skrub’s team do the heavy lifting. Immediately after summoning the shield, the Drowzee ducked out of sight.



Luna lunged forward, fangs bared, and skirted under a thrown rock from one of the weaker pokemon to sink her teeth into the Loudred’s leg. The Normal-type yelped, his screaming attack cut off, and flailed about, trying to shake her. The Machoke lunged out of hiding, smacking a fist into Luna; she flew free, her fangs tearing the Loudred’s flesh as she did so, but it was a double-edged move on the cipher’s part. Striga unleashed a Psychic attack on the Fighting-type, bringing him down in one blow.



But they couldn’t get complacent. They were still massively outnumbered.



Skrub’s Armaldo rushed him, the ancient voice chittering, and Denri dodged a razor-edged claw by mere inches. Electricity sparked through him as he readied a counterattack, but small brambles erupted from the soil to trip him up. He kicked free, cursing the Carnivine that ducked out of sight, as the Armaldo swung its tail. Rock-hard spines launched loose, snapping past and grazing his flesh, and Denri gasped, his attacks dissipating. Striga and Luna were trying to gang up on the weakened Loudred, but a gush of water knocked the ghost out of the sky; Skrub’s Golduck was advancing, flanked by weaker pokemon. One of them, the Thievul Denri had seen before, launched a whip of shadowy Dark-type energy at Striga, the ghost crying out with every lash. Luna yelled wordlessly and rushed to help them, but was driven back by another water move from the Golduck.



Denri dodged another swipe from the Armaldo, feinted, then aimed a sneaky attack at the Water-type. The Golduck spasmed as electricity lit up his body, and Denri readied another attack only to realize the Armaldo wasn’t even trying to stop him. Denri turned and the Armaldo was booking it straight for the cavern entrance.



Cursing, Denri sent a paralyzing wave of energy the Armaldo’s way, then bolted and lunged at it, the two of them rolling over the ground. Trading blows with a creature as tricked out with armor and claws as the Armaldo was a losing proposition, but the alternative was giving the Armaldo free reign of the cavern where both Rui and the Relic were.



Yeah, that wasn’t happening.



With a heaving breath, Denri finally hurled the Armaldo off of him with a surge of electricity, watching sparks play about the thing. It hit the ground and slumped over, twitching paralytically, but Denri felt a number of cuts and bruises peppering his own body. Beyond the Armaldo, he saw that while Luna and Striga had put up a valiant fight—the Loudred was down, as were a number of the weaker cipher pokemon—they were clearly on their back feet. Striga in particular looked close to keeling over.



We could really use some help, Denri through desperately. And then he looked to the mountain, and smiled, and brought up his Protect just in time.



A double Earthquake attack rocked the battlefield.



He fancied he could feel it even within his Protect, saw Luna stagger sideways, saw half the other cipher pokemon faint. The Golduck sank to his knees and half rose, looking perturbed, until Kata swept in and kicked him in the face. He dropped.



“Fear not!” the Hitmontop said, posing and flexing, actually kissing his bicep. “The cavalry has ARRIVED!



Skrub was staring at him with a look of recognition. “After all this time,” he said. “Well, then.” He glanced over his shoulder. “Venus!” he barked. “Unleash your team!”



The blonde woman looked as vacuous as she had back in the Under; Denri sadly doubted whether she would return to whatever her old self had been. Still, she had enough presence of mind to unleash her team. They were different than the ones who had been lost in the tower’s collapse down underneath the desert; she had a Bellossom, a Raichu, a Wigglytuff, a Milotic, and—



“Aw, c’mon,” Striga laughed, their voice weak. They drifted slowly down to earth. “Why is the first Misdreavus we found besides me gotta be workin’ for the bad guys…”



They touched the stone, half-invisible as they slipped unconscious, and from the cave mouth Rui recalled them. Sorry, Striga, Denri thought. You did the best you could.



Dune buzzed overhead, carrying Reed in her arms, and the two Ground-types set down. “Lot of enemies,” she noted.



“We’ve faced worse,” Denri said, smiling despite how bruised he felt.



She snorted. “I hope you’re not just saying that to make me feel better.” Then she opened her maw and spat out a jet of flame.



The Milotic summoned a wave of water, meeting the fire and erupting into steam, and Venus’s pokemon used it as cover to begin their assault. The Bellossom was a far more practiced opponent than the Carnivine had been; sashaying her hips, she conjured waves of petals girded with glowing energy, sending them pelting right at Reed. Luna leapt in, teeth gritting as she took the hit. She’d been unshielded when the Earthquakes had hit… Denri hoped she could hold out.



The Raichu lunged forward, movements masked by the steam, fists sparking. It swung punches at Kata, who ducked and wove. The Fighting-type landed hit after hit on the Raichu, but the Electric-type smirked, and every hit sparked and left Kata wincing. It was an old trick some electric pokemon used to even the odds against physical opponents.



Reeling from the blast of steam, Dune growled and prepared more fire, only to duck with a hiss as the Wigglytuff launched a salvo of ice at her. The Milotic, too, swapped from water to ice, the two of them keeping the dragon on the back foot. Neither looked as strong as Dune individually, but her species’ weakness to frost was well-documented; Denri didn’t doubt that a strong ice move would be enough to bring her down.



But then, Milotic had weakness of their own.



“Right,” he said, feeling eager as he summoned more electricity. “Let’s see how you like high voltage.”



And then the Armaldo slammed into him from behind.



Denri’s breath rushed out of him with a gasp as he was knocked down, the fossil raining furious blows on him. He winced as he felt cuts open up along his back.



“What,” he snarled, wrapping his tail around his opponent, “is it gonna take to make you stay down!” He poured electricity into the creature and it rolled off of him, both of them prone and struggling to stand.



The fight kept raging. The Bellossom was keeping pressure on Reed, pelting him with Grass-type moves too swift for him to evade. Luna was taking all the hits, grunting from each blow, as Reed vainly tried to return fire—but his earth and water were of little consequence to the fleur.



Beyond them, Kata was still duking it out with the Raichu. Both of them looked haggard, both bruised, but Denri’s heart soared as he realized his friend had the upper hand. Even being shocked on contact, Kata was too powerful to go down easily. Perhaps realizing that close-quarters combat was a misstep, the Raichu sped back and launched volts at Kata—but Denri’s compatriot dashed between them, dropping to his headpoint to pick up speed before twirling at the Raichu.



Unleashing a whirlwind of kicks on his opponent, Kata boomed out a taunt: “Think you’re mighty, do you? Then TASTE a load of this PERFECTION!” In one spectacular, fluid motion, he lunged at the Raichu, grappled it, and used the momentum of his own spin to hurl it directly at the Bellossom. Both pokemon collapsed in a heap, the Raichu clearly unconscious, and Kata leapt up to flex gloriously. “Behold! Magnificence!



A Psychic attack seemed to melt out of thin air to hit him head-on. He staggered back as Venus’s Misdreavus unveiled itself from an illusory cloak. Looking impish, it felled him with another Psychic. Rui recalled him.



His friend’s fall kicked up a fire in Denri’s heart, and he spurred himself to rise—but the Armaldo was also rising, and was just faster than he was. A stone-edged tail lashed out and lanced against his forepaw. Denri tried to catch the creature with a kick, but it just sidestepped and churned the soil around his feet into mud, sending him sprawling. The Armaldo advanced on him, claws clacking—



Only for Reed’s water to take it in the back. The creature reared back, furious, as Reed and Luna both attacked it. The Armaldo landed a good hit on Luna, enough to knock her out, but right afterwards Reed slammed it earthward with a punishing sweep of his tail, finally knocking it cold.



Before Denri could applaud, a flurry of petals swept over Reed. He was recalled even as he fell, just like Luna was, and Denri cursed as he barely managed to shield himself with a Protect in time. The Bellossom had risen and she looked furious; though her Raichu ally was fallen, she still had juice in her. Beyond, Denri could make out Dune still fighting the Milotic and Wigglytuff both. The Milotic whiffed a hit and Dune pounced, rushing in with viridian-laced claws. The Grass-type move was enough to take out the Milotic (In one hit? Denri pondered, amazed. Just how strong is this dragon?) but a retaliatory strike from the Wigglytuff clipped Dune with ice, sending her back with a pained hiss. As Dune struggled to rise, the Bellossom and Wigglytuff fell in together, Venus’s Misdreavus apparating over them and gathering Ghost-type power. The minor pokemon who hadn’t been put down by the double Earthquake—the Machoke was still standing, as were a few levitaters like the Carnivine and a Bronzor—gathered behind them, each readying for attacks.



“Six on two, and we’re both banged up pretty bad,” Dune said, her wings buzzing with what he recognized was anxiety. “Any of your ‘faced worse’ parties looking better?”



He thought to the cave under Pyrite, seeing Manny shocked to death, helpless. They were down four teammates here, not counting Raikou, but everyone was still alive. “It could still be worse,” he said.



Thunder pealed overhead. He glanced up; they all did. Grey clouds swirled overhead, and rain began to drop.



“Wasn’t the day cloudless?” Dune said. “Could it be Raikou?”



“Raikou’s dead,” Denri said. “No, this is just a normal—if powerful—Rain Dance.”



“What the hell…?” Skrub said, pulling his coat around him. “I didn’t order a Rain Dance from any of these pokemon, who—”



And a massive sphere of water flew through the air, splashing against the Machoke and knocking him out in one fell swoop.



The cipher pokemon scattered in confusion as a new salvo of attacks launched their way from lower down the mountain. Craning his head, Denri could see a gang of humans and pokemon making their way up. At the forefront was a familiar-looking man with dreadlocks and dark skin; Thoreau, a member of Eagun’s Grid. Standing next to him was a tall, athletic man with a rainform Castform hovering over his shoulder. The pokemon was already readying another Weather Ball.



Denri didn’t recognize the second man, but Rui did. “I know you!” she said, poking her head out of the cave in wonderment. “The jogger from the day Wes rescued me!”



“Yo!” he said, waving his hand. “Your grandpa says to forgive him, but he decided better safe than sorry. He told the mayor and she called in a few favors!”



Thoreau pointed up at the cipher agents, his skin slick in the rain. “Those are the bastards running roughshod over our region! The ones who got everybody running scared! Well, we ain’t running no more!



“For Orre!”



“For Phenac!”



“The campana!”



And with that, the Grid’s reinforcements burst into action.



Their pokemon were no top-tier battlers. In fact, in many ways, even the cipher’s low-level pokemon were bigger threats. But the Phenac fighters had two things going for them: first, they weren’t tired after slugging it out with Rui’s team. And second, they were united.



The Wigglytuff spat fire at an Escavalier that lunged at her, but the flames died in the rain, and she was driven back by the fierce lances. Two electric pokemon—a normal Rotom and a Mareep who reminded Denri of home—both launched electric attacks that were boosted by the downpour, flying true to zap the Bronzor into submission. A Magnemite swooped in, shielding the Castform from the plant attacks of the Bellossom and the Carnivine as its teammate kept the rain going.



One of the cipher goons swore and reached into his jacket, but Thoreau was on him in an instant. The two men brawled and when it was over, the cipher agent was pinned against the mountainside, Thoreau contemptuously tossing his pistol away. “You won’t be needing this, now, will you?”



Denri saw it all unfold with awed eyes. The people and pokemon of Orre were finally taking a stand.



The Misdreavus bellowed and shot a glob of shadow at the Grid fellows. They scattered, some of their pokemon fainting. Rui cried out from her vantage point.



“Don’t worry about us!” the Castform’s trainer said, heedless of the scrapes he’d picked up when dodging the Ghost-type’s attack. “You’ve been working your ass off for the whole region.” As he spoke, the Escavalier knocked out the Wigglytuff by slamming it into a rock, but was knocked out in return by an attack from the Misdreavus.



“He’s right!” came another voice, a woman’s. “Es justo que le devolvamos el favor! Orre’s our region too—if we can’t do what you can, at least we can help!”



The cipher pokemon were rallying. The Misdreavus was keeping the reinforcements on the backfoot with a furious salvo of attacks, the Carnivine and Bellossom advancing on the Water- and Grass-types who made up the bulk of the Grid’s forces.



“It’s not enough,” Dune said, her voice still ragged with exertion. The Wigglytuff’s ice attack had done a number on her, especially since she’d worn herself out firefighting. “The Grid pokemon are too unpracticed.”



“No, they did well,” Denri answered. “They lasted long enough.”



She craned her head his way. “Long enough for what?”



He felt a daredevil smile dance its way onto his face. “For me to catch my second wind.”



He glanced up at the artificial storm still swirling in the sky. Rain pelted the mountainside. Clouds stirred. Wind whipped. That Castform had done their job well; this was one of the best applications of Rain Dance he’d ever seen.



Closing his eyes, Denri felt the inner well of power he, like all pokemon, possessed. Normally, that power manifested as voltage and sparks. But now, he was going to do something he very rarely had the chance to do. He poured it out into the ambient air, letting it feed into the storm. The power was him—the power was the storm—he was the storm.



It was time.



He could feel the clouds and their ambient static like an extension of himself. It had been a long, long time since he’d done this. In fact… unless he was thinking wrongly, the last true time had been that night in Pyrite atop the building, when he had given himself over to the pearl of shadow within him.



How long ago that now seemed. That old mistake of his was far, far in the past. Nobody blamed him for it. Nobody mentioned it. Hell, some of his compatriots, like Kata and Dune, probably didn’t even know it had ever happened. But even if nobody had asked him to atone for it, that didn’t mean he didn’t want to. And now, finally, he had his chance.



He could feel power thrumming through him, tingling his spine and his flesh. It reminded him of the day he had tried his power against Suicune. That day, he had veritably glowed with power. He was nowhere near as strong now as he was then. Of course, back then, he had leeched almost the whole of the Under’s power supply to fuel his attack.



This time, though, it was all Denri.



He snapped his eyes open and with a wordless cry commanded the storm to unleash its fury on the enemy pokemon. And the storm did as it was bidden. A flash overhead that lit the clouds was the only warning before a titanic bolt of lightning crushed into the mountainside, sweeping over the cipher’s remaining pokemon. The Misdreavus, as much a glass cannon as Striga, dropped in an instant. The Carnivine and Bellossom, powerful pokemon who resisted his type, seemed for a moment as if they might endure. But then they too fell unconscious just as the clap of thunder smashed the battleground, a deafening roar that swept over everyone present.



Denri could feel their eyes on him—the people, the pokemon, even Rui and Dune, all looking at him with awe. He felt… unreal. Powerful. He stepped forward.



“Rui,” he said, “translate for me please.” He didn’t need to hear her nod. He knew she would transcribe his words for the humans.



“My name is Denri!” he boasted. “I was born a simple Mareep in far-off Johto. Against all odds, I became the ace of my old team. I fought against Gyms and dragons. And I was stolen by you.” He jabbed a paw at Skrub, at Venus, at the cipher goons. “My name is Denri! I was tormented in the lab, used as a living battery and then as a living weapon. But with the help of my new trainer and my friends, I made it out. You think we’re just dumb animals or tools for you to use, but you’re wrong!” He pointed to the sky, where lightning and thunder were still playing out in a fantastic lightshow. “I have a name, and it’s DENRI! You can’t take it from me! You can’t defeat me! I helped bring down Miror B. I helped liberate the Under. I sucked in your power and killed a god, and today I watched another one die.” He rested a paw on his chest. “My name is Denri, and with the death of Raikou, I am the most powerful electric pokemon in the world.”



His voice rang over the mountainside, echoed by Rui’s translation, and then when it died, all was quiet.



---



Skrub knew when he was beaten.



Golduck had been his chosen partner, as close to a friend as he had ever had, the indisputable ace of his team. The Armaldo, evolved from Lovrina’s ‘gift’ to him, was a tight second. His pokemon weren’t quite as powerful as the ones wielded by Lovrina or Es Cade, but they were close. He was a member of the High Council with access to powerful teammates. Venus was the same. They’d come with powerful pokemon and decent backup, and though they hadn’t known for sure if they’d find the Matsuhara girl here, they were reasonably certain they had a shot at her.



And perhaps they might have, if those idiots from Phenac hadn’t saw fit to interfere. But they had, and they did, and Skrub had lost, and the mysterious tip-off the cipher received had been for nothing. The fact that the cipher had a mole, one who knew of them yet whom they couldn’t trace, should have been harrowing for Skrub, but it wasn’t. So what if there was another string he hadn’t known about? He was just a puppet.



“Sir,” came one of his subordinates’ voices, “what do we do?”



“Do?” Skrub replied. He was supposed to be High Council, but he was just one of Lovrina’s pieces to use in her power play against Es Cade—except of late she barely even seemed to care about that anymore. She was off in the ruins beneath the old lab, and what she was doing down there, only the gods knew.



“Sir?”



Skrub’s fists tightened. He liked that Lovrina was away. He liked that he didn’t have to answer to her whims and indulge her appetites anymore. He hated her. Always had. But he had always followed which way the wind had blown.



Except.



“Sir, please!”



Around them, the Phenac people were pulling weapons and startling his men into submission. The big guy with the dreads had a shotgun trained on Skrub himself. The copter engines had been killed by the lingering static from the Ampharos’s final bolt.



Skrub barely registered. He was thinking back to the words the Ampharos had said, translated by Matsuhara. The pokemon had been treated as a tool its whole life, yet here it was, seizing control of its destiny.



If a pokemon could do that, why not him?



“We’re got,” he drawled. “We surrender.”



The men gasped around him. A member of the High Council? Surrender? And he’d be bringing a second one, Venus, with him. That was unthinkable. If either of them loosened their lips, the secrets they spilled could gut the whole cipher.



Skrub thought back to being ordered on suicide missions, of Es Cade walking past as if he was not there, of the feelings of being yanked on invisible strings, of Lovrina’s predatory smile over her collarbones. He almost felt like laughing. Yes… yes, why not?



This pokemon was fighting back. Why shouldn’t he?



“We’re done,” he said. “There’s nothing we can do.” Nothing to protect the cipher… and everything to bring it down. Damn you, Lovrina. Damn you, Es Cade. If nothing else, I’ll still have spite.



“No,” snarled one of the copter pilots. “We have our orders. If we would jeopardize the cipher…!”



“Think, man,” Skrub spat. “You think Es Cade would give his life for you? Why do the same?”



“Spoken like a true coward,” the pilot fired back. He pulled out an innocuous-looking cylinder with a small button.



Skrub’s gut plummeted. Shit.



“The copter’s rigged to blow!” he yelled. “Everyone, run!” And he bolted, half-expecting the dreads guy to pump him full of pellets. He didn’t. The big guy was bolting too. Smart. He had sense.



In fact, all the Phenac folk were scattering, as were most of Skrub’s stooges. A few had elected to go down with the ship, like the pilot.



And…



And Venus, still standing there right next to the thing, swaying, looking as empty and vacuous as ever. She barely looked like she even realized she was in danger.



He almost pitied her.



The copter tore itself apart in a crunch of metal and a haze of fire and smoke, the noise deafening. The shockwave flung Skrub to his stomach and he covered his head, praying that debris didn’t spray over him.



He got his wish. A hand gripped his wrist and he was pulled up by a tan-skinned woman who was eying the wreckage with a mix of awe and horror.



Sangre de los dioses,” she said, “you would really kill yourselves over this?”



“I wouldn’t,” he snapped at her, and he almost felt giddy. He wouldn’t. He wouldn’t! Maybe Es Cade and Lovrina would have him killed for this. Maybe this was a mistake that would put him in a grave. He didn’t care. If he died, it was because he was cutting those strings, one by one.



Nearby the rest of the Phenac people were rounding up his men once again, confiscating poke balls and weapons. The big guy was making his way to Matsuhara, both of them talking. Skrub could barely find it in himself to care—not about them, not about this, not even about Venus, lying forever still against the mountainside as the wreckage smoldered behind her.



He wasn’t cipher anymore, and that was all that mattered.



---


So! In the finale of Colosseum, you go to a big tower and fight a bunch of bosses in a row, including rematches with all four cipher admins. Now, there wasn't really space for that in TDWC, so instead, the rematch fights are getting spread out. Skrub and Venus here represented the rematches with Miror B and Venus in-game.

The Miror B rematch started with Denri and Kata vs Golduck and one of his two Ludicolos. The Golduck used a Psychic on Kata, and it even crit (!!) but it only took him to low yellow since I had leveled for the bosses close to the end of the tower, not the beginning. Close one! In retaliation, Denri KO'd the Golduck and Kata got the Ludicolo to low health while it used the turn setting up Rain Dance. Miror B sent out Loudred to replace Golduck. The next turn I used Denri's move to heal Kata while Kata outsped Loudred to KO it before it could move; Ludicolo landed a weak hit on Denri. He sent out his other Ludicolo as a replacement. That turn, Kata outsped the weaker Ludicolo to KO it, the full-health Ludicolo landed another weak hit on Denri, and Denri paralyzed the Ludicolo with Thunder Wave. Miror B sent out Armaldo. Denri and Kata team up to take down Armaldo before it can move, Ludicolo is paralyzed and can't move, and then they repeat for Ludicolo.

The Venus rematch started with Dune and Striga vs Wigglytuff and Bellossom. Striga confused Wigglytuff, Dune hit Bellossom but didn't KO, Bellossom tried to use Stun Spore and missed, but Wigglytuff used Body Slam on Dune and annoyingly landed the paralysis chance. The next turn I use a Paralyze Heal on Striga's move to heal Dune, who uses Earthquake to KO Bellossom and damage Wigglytuff. Wigglytuff uses Body Slam again, and somehow lands the paralysis chance twice in a row! Venus sends out Raichu to replace Bellossom. The next turn I heal Dune again, Venus heals Wigglytuff, and Dune's EQ knocks out Raichu and takes Wiggly down to where it was. Venus sends out her Misdreavus. Striga outspeeds to OHKO with Shadow Ball, Dune's Earthquake finally knocks out Wigglytuff, and then the next turn Striga KOs shadow Suicune with Thunder. (Obviously Suicune couldn't show up in-story, so I gave Venus the Milotic she uses in rematches instead.)

Other than the scare with Kata and the Golduck's Psychic, neither fight was that difficult overall!

In non-gameplay notes, the Grid showing up and helping out Rui was something I always wanted. She's definitely on point, but this is ultimately not a story of one single person saving Orre, but of multiple people coming together. She's just the one with a bit more on her plate than the others.
 

Spectacles

Rule Maker
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
139
Caught
Jun 24, 2019
Messages
690
Location
Pennsylvania
Nature
Jolly
Pronouns
she/her
Pokémon Type
  1. Fairy
Pokédex Entry
It hides deep inside caves where no light ever reaches it and remains virtually motionless there. ~Pokemon Crystal, entry #52
Woo, Denri so deserves his badass boast!! And I'm so happy for Skrub too; I'm glad he can finally escape all this. Very epic battles and a good way to fit those end game matches into the story.
 
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Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
2,308
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
  1. Dragon
  2. Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
“Shut up,” Skrub said wearily. “We have you outnumbered, and I don’t want to deal with this anymore.” He waved his hand at his pokemon. “Destroy the Relic and the girl too, if you can.”
sleep deprivation is a leading cause of defeat in villains

Denri turned and the Armaldo was booking it straight for the cavern entrance.
Armaldo:


“Fear not!” the Hitmontop said, posing and flexing, actually kissing his bicep. “The cavalry has ARRIVED!



Skrub was staring at him with a look of recognition.
That was when Skrub (should have known) that he had fucked up. c:

Rain Dance + Thunder hype!
1920_lightning-2.jpg


The pokemon had been treated as a tool its whole life, yet here it was, seizing control of its destiny.



If a pokemon could do that, why not him?
Because Denri is cool. 😤 haha got im get rekt skrub
 

Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
1,002
Location
Zion National Park
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They/Them
Pokémon Type
  1. Bug
  2. Clever
Pokédex Entry
A regular writer of fanfics and other works, this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #325
Hey everyone! Sorry about no update last Sunday--and about the forthcoming announcement as well. This April is proving to be exceptionally busy for me, so I'll be taking a hiatus until May, effective immediately. I'll still update GRANDMASTER and the Dear Diary reupload, don't worry! But TDWC is just too demanding to give it the attention it deserves while juggling everything else. Thanks for understanding, and see you all in a month!
 

Trollkitten

Kitten of Lore
Artist
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
208
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
2,087
Location
Gatto Region
Nature
Quirky
Pronouns
She/her, Aetherai Lorekeeper
Pokémon Type
  1. Fairy
  2. Clever
Pokédex Entry
Autistic writer who starts more things than she finishes. Hyper asexual lorewriter and worldbuilder. Rather be a happy shill than an angry critic.
I understand! Thanks for the heads-up.
 
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Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
2,308
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
  1. Dragon
  2. Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
Take care of yourself! We'll be patient. :)
 

bumblebee

Kanto League Champion
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
3139
Caught
Dec 13, 2020
Messages
150
Nature
Timid
Pronouns
She/her/hers
Pokémon Type
  1. Water
  2. Flying
Pokédex Entry
This pokemon flits from new idea to new idea, never able to settle down.
Oooooo Skrub leaving Cipher, that's new! o: I was half-expecting Denri to zap him away, with how power happy he became. I wonder if we'll see more of Skrub in future episodes 👀 who knows, he might come back and help Team Rui with the BBEG

The fact that Denri's getting the spotlight that he deserves?? Beautiful, incredible. It's high time everyone realized what a powerful poke he is!!!
 
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Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
1,002
Location
Zion National Park
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They/Them
Pokémon Type
  1. Bug
  2. Clever
Pokédex Entry
A regular writer of fanfics and other works, this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #329
Hey everyone! Still on hiatus, though I hope to end it soon. In the meantime, I've worked on a custom ruleset that incentivizes use of unusual pokemon like Slugma, Klefki, and Castform! If you're interested in exploring new ways to nuzlocke, check it out right over here!
 

DreamNotePrincess

Creative Writer with a BIG Imagination
Writer
Pokédex No.
4801
Caught
Jul 16, 2021
Messages
25
Nature
Jolly
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
  1. Water
  2. Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Has a lot of imagination for stories! Could never stop writing!
I started reading this fanfic last night, and it is my favorite so far! ^^
 
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Moon Drop Grape

some dumb rabbit
Pokédex No.
2818
Caught
Nov 2, 2020
Messages
19
Location
somewhere
Nature
Naive
Pronouns
She/They
Pokémon Type
  1. Electric
  2. Fairy
Pokédex Entry
i'm a furry who draws things
been re-reading this locke lately, and i gotta say
the earlier chapters hit SUPER different knowing what happens later
 
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Trollkitten

Kitten of Lore
Artist
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
208
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
2,087
Location
Gatto Region
Nature
Quirky
Pronouns
She/her, Aetherai Lorekeeper
Pokémon Type
  1. Fairy
  2. Clever
Pokédex Entry
Autistic writer who starts more things than she finishes. Hyper asexual lorewriter and worldbuilder. Rather be a happy shill than an angry critic.
been re-reading this locke lately, and i gotta say
the earlier chapters hit SUPER different knowing what happens later
Yeah, especially everything involving Vulcana.
 
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CrumpetsAndCheese

some dude
Pokédex No.
4942
Caught
Sep 6, 2021
Messages
51
Location
My house, duh.
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/Him
Pokémon Type
  1. Bug
  2. ???
Pokédex Entry
It likes to stay inside and use the internet. Sometimes it leaves its computer to use a different device, or rarely draw.
I am so glad the forums moved and gave me this great opportunity to catch up on this run again. I was keeping up with it very well in the beginning, but then I fell off the track around the point where Wes dies and never got around to catching up. Now I get the chance to fix that and follow this from the beginning again! I'm looking forward to seeing more of Cap, the sweetest soul there is 😍
OOPSIE POOPSIES,SPOILED MYSELF.
 
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CrumpetsAndCheese

some dude
Pokédex No.
4942
Caught
Sep 6, 2021
Messages
51
Location
My house, duh.
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/Him
Pokémon Type
  1. Bug
  2. ???
Pokédex Entry
It likes to stay inside and use the internet. Sometimes it leaves its computer to use a different device, or rarely draw.
Just finished binge-reading this over the course of a few days, and i gotsa say, i LOVE Epee. 10/10 best pogeymans when is he gonna turn into a yanmega and whoop everyone.
 
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Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
1,002
Location
Zion National Park
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They/Them
Pokémon Type
  1. Bug
  2. Clever
Pokédex Entry
A regular writer of fanfics and other works, this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #336
So, uh, first thing to note: I AM VERY SORRY IT TOOK OVER HALF A YEAR FOR THE NEW CHAPTER TO COME OUT. This wasn't intentional. My hiatus was only supposed to be for a month or two as I got my life in order, but then a lot of things all started happening at once... the time really, really got away from me. For that, I apologize. Hopefully we can resume normal(ish) updates from here on out! We're in the endgame now, after all! I'm very, very glad to be back >:)

I started reading this fanfic last night, and it is my favorite so far! ^^

Omg, thank you! I hope you like it <3

been re-reading this locke lately, and i gotta say
the earlier chapters hit SUPER different knowing what happens later
Yeah, especially everything involving Vulcana.

GOD EXACTLY

Huhu, as intended~

OOPSIE POOPSIES,SPOILED MYSELF.

Just finished binge-reading this over the course of a few days, and i gotsa say, i LOVE Epee. 10/10 best pogeymans when is he gonna turn into a yanmega and whoop everyone.
I'm glad it was fun despite the spoilers! And I love Epee too. He's one of my favorites! And sadly, he probably will never become a Yanmega and whoop everyone... his strength lies elsewhere. He has strength of character ^^


It’s hard, sometimes. Hard to remember. Their memories drift like the desert sands…



Hermosa. Now that is something they can remember. A word, a title, a badge of love—echoing across epochs. Hermosa. ‘Beautiful.’ A word for one another. The girl’s name has been forgotten, claimed by the ravages of time. But they can still remember her touch, her smile, her laugh, her eyes, the warmth of her breath on their lips. Hermosa.



They cling to it, sometimes, when the memories threaten to swallow them.



There’s something odd about Ghost-types. Something unusual. Perhaps the least-understood of all pokemon (legends and their like excepted, of course) they have been held in awe and fear throughout time, across nearly all cultures. Some peoples have their own traditions of dealing with them—the channelers of Kanto and Johto, or those who commune with the spirits of Mt. Pyre in nearby Hoenn. But the average person is not a channeler. Even now, most know nothing of spirits.



Ghost-types were once humans. This much is true. They know it is. Yet they are not only those people, the same way a newborn Litten is more than just its heart. It could not live without the heart—the heart is an integral part. But the heart is not the Litten.



So when they think about those ancient days, days that sometimes seem more clear, more real even than what they are experiencing now, they remind themself that their affection for Topaz is no less real than the feelings they felt for their Hermosa.



And yet, still. Sometimes, memory yearns.



It strikes them like a crashing wave, sweeping them back into the past. They can feel their thudding heart, thundering with fear as their fellow tribespeople ready themselves for the coming onslaught.



Their foes did not always name themselves Aueritek. Once they were a proud and deep people, just like so many other tribes that wandered the deserts of the land that would someday be called Orre. But something had happened. They had cast aside their old ways, their old traditions, their old names. The name Aueritek meant ‘children of ruin’ and they lived it. Already, many of the other peoples in the desert had been given one of two options: the yoke, or the spearpoint.



This little tribe had chosen the latter.



The warchief drums orders as the shaman chants a prayer to the gods and spirits to watch over them. The shaman’s pokemon—a Noctowl, one of the few tamed pokemon that their tribe boasted—circles above, wings flanged with psychic power. The acolyte listens with a heart that worms with worry. The warchief’s orders, the shaman’s prayers, they seem such lies. Greater tribes than they had fought the Aueriteks and lost. Their people could not stand against the children of ruin alone and win.



They pity what the Aueriteks had become. Their first victims had been their own people. Most of those who’d resisted the tribe’s change to ruinous worship had been killed, but a few had escaped or been cast out. Those handful had wandered the wastes, seeking to bring warning to the others. The acolyte had listened with dreadful awe at the story those wanderers had spun. They had alternately begged the other tribes to save themselves and pleaded for a way to get their old people back. But the Aueriteks had cast their lots. They had thrown in with ruin and excised any who rejected that path from them, like a rotten bough.



The warriors of the tribe readied themselves, wielding spears with tips of obsidian and bone. Many had been daubed with charms by the shaman, seeking to invoke pokemon. Tranquill for luck, Growlithe for bravery, Absol for righteousness. Some had been spotted lurking about the camp that morning. Though the acolyte’s people knew better than to blame the Absol for misfortune, their arrival was still ominous.



Their Hermosa was one of the warriors. She turns her head and smiles at them. She wear a mask of red paint, the lines trailing up past her brows to disappear into her hair. It’s meant to invoke Milotic, a pokemon as graceful as it was deadly. The acolyte hopes that it would help her. Oh, they hope.



Before the rise of the Aueriteks, life had been quiet. There had been conflict with other tribes, battles even, but nothing like this—wars where the stakes were slavery and extermination. Few of the tribe were real warriors. Combat seemed such a waste of time and energy in a land as barren as this. The desert demanded every step and movement dedicate itself to survival.



The land was hot and sandy, but far from lifeless if you knew its secrets. The tribe’s scouts knew how to trace the pathways of pokemon and the farmers knew how to coax beans, squash, and chiles from the soil. The shamans were not only the spiritual leaders of the tribe—they were the storytellers, with the tribe dependent on them to transmit knowledge across the generations. And so it was that the acolyte learned the tales of how to find tracks in the desert, what land was good for beans, which chiles to dry and which to eat succulent and ripe, plucked from the vine.



(How curious, the ghost sometimes thinks, that in the modern day all that is forgotten. The inhabitants of modern Orre prefer to import their food, and modern technology and mass irrigation techniques mean that farming techniques of the past are never needed. And the people of the region are better-fed than ever, and yet somehow, it feels as if something has been irrevocably lost…)



Foolishly, perhaps, they wonder if the Aueriteks might accept tribute—gifts of squash and obsidian and land. But tribute assumes an enemy can be bargained with. Never before has the desert faced anything like this. Many tribes have already been annihilated. Others put in chains. Still others have chosen to flee, flee far beyond the sandy borders. A world unknown was considered preferable to the Aueriteks.



Drums sound over the horizon.



The acolyte gripped their spear tight. That the acolytes themselves are being put into combat shows how dire it really is. The death of the shaman and their pupils would mean the erasure of the tribe’s history and traditions.



A hand touches their trembling shoulder and they start, releasing a breath they’d never noticed they’d been holding. They glance up—the shaman is smiling down at them. Their prayer had ceased and the acolyte had never even noticed it.



The shaman is wise, and younger than their demeanor would suggest. Like the acolyte themself—like all the acolytes—they are neither male nor female. Oh, their bodies might lean one way or another, but the people of the desert have long known that human souls are not merely a coin with two sides. Those between are the spiritual leaders of their societies, and raised to be shamans.



The acolyte swallows, wanting to believe the message promised by the soothing lilt to the shaman’s smile. “Don’t be afraid,” the shaman says. No false promises—no guarantees that they will escape or survive. Simply an entreaty—to leave behind one’s fear. And it works. The acolyte’s breath stills. They are suddenly aware of everything—of the spear in their hand, of the sling and stone-pouch at their side.



“Do you remember the story of the lonely Cyndaquil?” the shaman says. Their voice is low.



Of course the acolyte does. Stories are their duty. “His nest was under siege,” the acolyte says. “From Vibrava and Sandile and Purrloin. It was impossible to fight them all.”



“But he fought anyway,” the shaman says, their voice soft. They nod. “Though he died, he fought anyway. Why?”



“B-because…” The spear in their hands. The stones at their hips. The drums… the drums are drawing closer. “Because he had to fight. Because he knew death was better than bondage.”



“Aye,” the shaman says. They raise their arm and their Noctowl soars high over the sands, catching the hot winds of thermals. “That it is.”



From beyond the dune, a horn blasts—and then it begins.



Spears, given velocity by atlatls, soar over the crest of the dune. They have been aimed blind and at nothing in particular; some are turned aside by the psychic powers of the Noctowl. A few tribespeople fall, but the Aueriteks’ first assault is not what the acolyte thought it would be. The warriors are still standing strong, their hermosa among them.



And then the enemy crests the hill and it begins—the last stand of the tribe.



(The tribe’s name is gone, even to the ghost—as is the name of their hermosa. Their artifacts are scattered to the winds. Few, perhaps, will ever know that they existed. The ghost has long since made peace with this. Because even if they are forever forgotten, it will not change what happened: that they stood tall at the end.)



Spears and slingstones fly. Death stains the sands red. Their hands trembling, the acolyte loads their sling, feeling the familiar weight, and sends the missile soaring. It strikes an Aueritek, knocking life from his eyes, but not until after he skewers one of the acolyte’s fellows, a farmer who had never hurt anyone…



They feel sick. Shamans are not supposed to kill. Shamans are not supposed to go to war. This is wrong.



But it is how things are. The wind whips the sands into a cyclone, blasting into the eyes, howling like the dead. The acolyte loads their sling mechanically and looses another stone. It vanishes into the storm, and they do not know if it ever struck true.



Their tribe is fighting ferociously. Dead litter the ground, but as many are Aueriteks as the tribesfolk themselves. Knives of wind knock down Aueriteks from above; gifts from the airborne Noctowl. The attacks are not strong enough to kill, but they don’t have to be. The moment an Aueritek falls, one of the acolyte’s kin rushes up with a knife or a spear or a club studded with obsidian and bone and ensures they won’t rise again. The spear wielded by their hermosa is already red as a berry.



She dances like the wind itself, like the ghost of their people risen to give vengeance. The warchief is badly wounded, his Arbok coiled protectively around him and warding off incursions with acid attacks, and she has taken the lead. She knows when to drive her opponents back with wide sweeps, when to lunge to bury her weapon in soft and vulnerable places. The tribe rallies around her. The Noctowl supports her with peppering bursts of air. The acolyte unleashes their sling; next to them the shaman hurls spears with an atlatl, their voice rising. They can do this. They can! They—!



And then the shadow pokemon arrive.



The true might of the Aueriteks was never in their warriors, their spears and knives. It was in their pokemon, things they’d reduced to savage beasts that lived only for violence.



A dart of psychic energy knifes through the air and splinters the bones of one of the Noctowl’s wings. The bird pokemon drops with a look of disbelief as the Swoobat uncloaks itself, leering at her. She lands headfirst with a sickening crunch.



The ground quakes. Soil shakes. Ground-types—Sandslash and Trapinch and Silicobra—burst from under the sand, sinking claws and fangs into the flesh of surprised warriors. A Ninetales crests the dune, spitting flames, tails thrashing. The shaman unleashes a spear from an atlatl, but midway through its arc it stops, suddenly ensconced in purple-pink energy. Cackling, the Swoobat directs it back from whence it came and the shaman falls, lifeblood blossoming out of them to stain the desert.



Acid from the warchief’s Arbok brings down the bat. Behind the snake, the chief is already dead—bled out, it seems. As the Swoobat struggles to rise, the Arbok rushes in and sinks her fangs tight, shaking the creature like a doll until it is dead. Not long after, a boulder from the Silicobra smashes her skull. There’s no blood, but there doesn’t need to be. Nothing with a head caved in like that could possibly be alive.



The reversal happens in mere seconds, and the pokemon wreak havoc unforeseen. The acolyte is dumbfounded. Horrified. The scene of devastation before them is unimaginable.



One of the Aueriteks raises his arms in triumph and a spear finds his ribs. The acolyte’s hermosa stands proud, chest heaving with breath; the Milotic paint has been stained by sweat to run down her face in ribbons.



But all she did was make a target of herself. The Ninetales sends her to her knees with a fierce breath of flame and then closes in, jaws snapping.



And the acolyte is spurred to action. Screaming wordlessly, they load their sling and loose it. The Ninetales stiffens and slumps sideways, the fur around its maw far, far too red.



It’s already too late.



The acolyte rushes into battle, heedless of everything, and makes it to her side. She is already fading fast. Her cheeks are ashen, her fingers trembling. She reaches up at their face and whispers something of cactus blossoms and then dies forever, and the acolyte succumbs to numbness and quiet. An Aueritek spear takes them not long after.



And that was the day a people died.



Sometimes… sometimes, the memories come to the ghost like a distant dream, a reflection of a reflection, a story they had heard elsewhere. And sometimes, they come sharp as desert thunder: all-encompassing, unignorable.



They are, or were, a shamanistic acolyte. They were to have preserved their people’s traditions. But they failed that day. And even with a second lease on life, they simply drifted mindless through the ages as a wispy spirit, until…



Until now.



Striga knows its not fair to blame themself. They’re not just the acolyte, reborn. The acolyte is a part of them. And they could never single-handedly revive the memory and traditions of an entire people—especially not when even the people’s name is lost to the ages.



Perhaps, in the history of the world, the tribe’s erasure by the Aueriteks was not a momentous event. But for the memories of one Misdreavus, it was everything.



---



The ghost was still muttering as they blinked awake. They were high on Mt. Battle, and it was raining. Raining? But it had been a clear day, hadn’t it? Ah, that’s right… Rain Dance…



Denri squatted down near them, eyes focused. “Hey, you okay?” Striga blinked. Their momentary discombobulation had them confused. They’re not a human standing against the Aueriteks. They’re a Misdreavus, fighting the cipher on Mt. Battle…



As they came to, they saw the aftermath of the battle—and the twisted wreckage of a helicopter, bodies around it. It rang so, so familiar. Such pointless death Orre was a changed place from the past, and yet somehow, some things seemed doomed to forever remain the same.



“Striga. Hey.” Denri’s voice cut in. The Ampharos looked concerned. “You all there?”



They nodded. Yes, they’re here now… no matter what their memories say.



“What were you thinking about?” Denri asked.



The ghost looked up at the clouds. The rain passed through them. “Old, forgotten, far-off things,” they said.


---


Thanks so much for reading as always.

Note: I've been fairly open about my take on Orre being greatly inspired by growing up in the American Southwest. Part of the portrayal of their human self being third-gender and a spiritual leader (in training) is inspired by a number of Indigenous cultural traditions in the Americas, including the Navajo, as well as genders beyond the binary in the Olmec, Aztec, and Maya civilizations. Note that isn't not meant to be a one-to-one translation of these cultures' traditions to the page; Orre is a fictional world, after all, and I'm not a member of or expert in any of these traditions by any means.
 

Trollkitten

Kitten of Lore
Artist
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
208
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
2,087
Location
Gatto Region
Nature
Quirky
Pronouns
She/her, Aetherai Lorekeeper
Pokémon Type
  1. Fairy
  2. Clever
Pokédex Entry
Autistic writer who starts more things than she finishes. Hyper asexual lorewriter and worldbuilder. Rather be a happy shill than an angry critic.
Nice to see you back, and to see this story back. Poor Striga... I'm getting some real PTSD vibes here. (Ghosts with PTSD. I'm honestly not sure why that idea never occurred to me before now, considering that most ghosts have unfinished business in the land of the living.)
 
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CrumpetsAndCheese

some dude
Pokédex No.
4942
Caught
Sep 6, 2021
Messages
51
Location
My house, duh.
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/Him
Pokémon Type
  1. Bug
  2. ???
Pokédex Entry
It likes to stay inside and use the internet. Sometimes it leaves its computer to use a different device, or rarely draw.
babe wake up new TDWC dropped
 
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Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
2,308
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
  1. Dragon
  2. Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
Existential dread is a ghost type Pokemon. 😔
 
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Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
1,002
Location
Zion National Park
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They/Them
Pokémon Type
  1. Bug
  2. Clever
Pokédex Entry
A regular writer of fanfics and other works, this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
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Yep, we're back with another update! This time, though, I have another cool thing to announce: I'm starting a new project! (Don't worry, it won't interfere with TDWC updates.) It's a multi-game project where I nuzlocke 11 games, each featuring different rulesets--and you the readers get to choose which game goes with which ruleset, as well as my starter! Check it out here!

Nice to see you back, and to see this story back. Poor Striga... I'm getting some real PTSD vibes here. (Ghosts with PTSD. I'm honestly not sure why that idea never occurred to me before now, considering that most ghosts have unfinished business in the land of the living.)

That's a good way to think of it! Between Striga here and Dusk in Dear Diary, the way ghosts work in this verse could be considered something akin to PTSD.

babe wake up new TDWC dropped

zooms like a super hero


Existential dread is a ghost type Pokemon. 😔

The most powerful attack of all...



Skrub is cooperating, which is more than I thought we’d ever get out of a High Council member. You’re right, old man. This guy might just be our lynchpin.



We’ll have to play it smart, though. This would be an easy hand to misplay.



I’ll get in touch with my brethren and let you know.



T


---



There was something to be said about the sun. It had been long, far too long since Dune had simply been able to enjoy it.



Oh, the light of the desert sun made so many scurry—people and pokemon too. But she was a Flygon. She was made for the whipping of the sands and the blast of hot air. She’d spent long, far too long a captive in one lab after the next after the next… the heat wasn’t uncomfortable for her. It was a homecoming.



With a whipping buzz of her wings, she coursed through Phenac’s skies. Somehow, they’d managed to come out of the scuffle on the mountain. First a throwdown with Entei, then with two of the cipher’s High Council… to think they’d actually emerged victorious.



The thought of Raikou settled in her. Well, perhaps not wholly victorious.



Was it a terrible thing of her, that she was not fixated on his passing? She’d scarcely known him. She knew, intellectually, that the demigod’s fate had been unfair and agonizing. Yet what little akin to grief she felt was buried.



She shook her head. The amoral didn’t wring hands over being amoral. That she was concerned about her reaction was itself promising. The truth was that she had spent years as a captive, enduring indignity after indignity… though she was no longer shadow, such scars would not heal swiftly.



She hoped, desperately, that they did so in time for her to be a real mother to her child. The little Trapinch deserved that much—and so did, she, Dune thought. So did she.



Down below, in the streets of Phenac, people pointed skyward in wonder as the dragon whipped overhead. Trapinch were one of the few species that could be found in the wild in Orre, though even then only in certain remote corners… but a full-grown Flygon was another sight entirely. From behind her ruby lenses, Dune could see them murmuring—gawping. Her wings buzzed with pride. Yes, she was proud to be this way—both inspired and inspiring. To finally be free.



She touched down on the balcony of the mayor’s estate. Phenac’s was not the manor that Pyrite’s was, but a glittering penthouse in the brightest part of town. For a moment she just wanted to remain and bask in the heat and the sun—but their journey to Realgam would be coming soon. She and the others had to prepare.



Stepping inside, she hissed at the burst of cool air coming from the AC. Humans were so obsessed with what they thought was comfort, but didn’t they realize how anomalous this temperature was to a desert-dweller? Why not just strand her on Mt. Coronet while they were at it?



The ghost, Striga, was sitting at a table, playing a small game of checkers with Kata. They raised their head and nodded in greeting. “‘lo, Dune,” they said, and then turned their attention back to the game.



Dune nodded in return. These pokemon… she’d known them what—a week? They weren’t exactly her friends, even if they had fought together. Sometimes she found herself envying the camaraderie they all shared. Still, they were being polite enough.



Kata, hand to his chin, moved a checkers piece—and Striga grinned. Gripping one black piece in psychic energy, they skip-skip-skipped it across the board, reaching the back row. Then, they turned it upside down, showing a crown pattern, and sent the piece rocketing in reverse, hopping over more pieces all the while—all in a single turn.



“And that’s game!” they beamed.



Kata blinked. Blinked again. Then he burst into a wide grin. “Well done!” he howled pridefully. He leapt to his feet and shot a friendly hand to Striga in gratitude. (The Misdreavus looked bemusedly at it. They had no hands. Still, it was the thought that counted.) “To vanquish such a formidable foe as myself… speaks of your utmost MAGNIFICENCE!”



Formidable foe, eh? Dune snorted. “Didn’t you just learn how to play checkers this morning?”



FORMIDABLE!” he repeated, as if volume alone was enough to dictate truth. She shook her head.



“What about you, Dune?” Striga asked. “Fancy a game?”



Something told the dragon that she stood no chance against Striga—but then, how long had it been since she’d done something like this with teammates? Just… relaxed?



You’re going to face Es Cade, part of her whispered to herself. You heard what the gods on the mountain said. He’s one of the three needed to be brought down to stop the Devourer’s rise—and he’s the cipher’s leader, one of the most powerful and influential men in Orre. This might be your last chance.



She didn’t bother banishing the thought or fretting over it. It was true. Dune was no fatalist. She would fight and fight until the end, and she hoped she’d come out on top. But the reality was that she might perish in that tower. And even if Es Cade was brought down, he was only the first of the three. Lovrina and Entei remained.



So why not take the moment, while it existed to be taken at all?



“All right,” she said, sitting down. The table and Striga were almost comically small compared to her bulk, and she reached awkwardly to grip a checkers coin with a claw.



It only took Striga a few minutes to utterly whoop her ass.



“Good game, though!” Striga said as their powers rearranged the board into a new position. “Really!”



Dune shook her head, but found herself smiling nevertheless. That was… fun.



“Go again?” the Misdreavus inquired. They were what—millennia old? Yet they seemed earnest and childlike. Was the warmth and pleasure she felt at seeing their happiness the beginning of some maternal instinct?



Dune smiled. “Alright,” she said. “Again.”



As they played, Striga hummed to themself. Dune did better this time around (she suspected Striga was going easy on her) and she found herself thinking ahead—strategizing. Her mind was filled with the sharp tilt she sometimes took on in battle, but without a life-or-death situation to make it harrowing… it was very enjoyable.



As they played, they made small conversation, and then Striga glanced up at her. “So, uh, did you really… solo a demigod down there in the lab?”



“I did.” She moved a piece forward, trying to bait Striga into taking it.



They did, clattering the piece over hers. She then used the open pathway left behind to take two of theirs, flipping over her piece to show the crown. “King me,” she added.



“Mm.” They looked at her again, with wide eyes. “If you really took on Raikou alone and won… you’re crazy strong.”



She buzzed her wings. Yes, she was. She’d never been one for false modesty. Oh yes, there had been mitigating factors—a type advantage, plus Rui wearing down the legendary’s will with her arguments. But none of that changed the fact that she had fought a deity to a standstill.



But her ego didn’t need building up. This little one, on the other hand… “Aren’t you strong too?” she said. “The others say you’ve been with the team since the beginning.”



They blushed. “I’m mostly the support mon. I use status effects, run distractions, protect Rui… I’m the worst in a straight-up fight. Like, easily.” They moved one of their pieces forward.



“And yet you’re talented enough to find a place on the team of the granddaughter of the greatest trainer alive,” Dune countered. Striga blushed. She moved her king backwards, threatening Striga’s back row. “Just because you can’t slug it out like me or Denri doesn’t mean you’re not a legitimately strong battler, Striga. I know. You’re plenty tough.”



They were quiet for a moment. “You really think so?” they asked after a moment.



Dune nodded. “I do.”



They grinned—and then suddenly one of their pieces skipped in a perfect dance, claiming all of Dune’s remaining ones. “Cool,” they said. “Play again?”



She laughed—and was surprised at how lovely, how healthy it felt. It had been a long, long time since she’d laughed like this… warm and healthy and rich. Laughter was…a treasure. She wanted to laugh again.



She wanted to laugh with her child.



And she would fight to do it, take the fight to Es Cade, to Lovrina, to Entei, to the Devourer itself if need be—but for now, she was content to simply laugh.



“Sure,” she said. “Again.”



---



“You’re worried about him?”



Kata glanced sideways at Luna. The Umbreon was resting on her stomach, resting her chin on her crossed paws. Her eyes, red like holly berries, fixed on him beneath the glinting gold chain in her ear. Beyond, the door to the next room was ajar; voices drifted out. Ximena was preparing Rui for more politicking—which seemed to involve dressing Kata’s trainer up in increasingly fanciful outfits.



“Of course I am,” he said.



“But why?” Luna growled. “Skrub was your old trainer before Rui—and he was a terrible person. He tried to have you destroy Agate’s Relic. He led an attack—people and pokemon died that night!”



“We’ve all done bad things,” Kata said softly, “haven’t we?” His life as a cipher enforcer had been far from blemishless. Luna met his eyes and then looked aside—he thought he could see in her the shadow of Eclo Canyon, the deaths Wes had caused that she’d been party to. Or perhaps she was thinking of the Noctowl that had spilled her brother’s blood, and how its blood in turn had fountained out when she’d sunk her fangs into it…



“That’s different,” she said, sotto voce. “You shadows didn’t really have a choice. You were twisted. And me and my brother and Wes, we tried to get out of the Brotherhood and stop hurting people. You, me, and everyone on our team, we were bad but we left that behind us. Even on that mountain, Skrub was trying to kill us!”



“He was,” the Hitmontop said. His voice was uncharacteristically soft. “But I knew him for a long time, Luna, and I could see on that mountain that he was trapped and miserable, just like I was. And maybe he is a bad person who doesn’t regret anything he did. But I… I still don’t think he deserves to feel that way.”



Luna met his eyes for a moment and then she softened. “By all the spirits, you two were so alike,” she said. “No wonder he hit it off with you… I could never be like you two.”



“He was capable of being warm because you let him,” Kata said. “He told me some of your childhood, before Wes. The hard stuff, you took on yourself. You were so small… Your brother should have been rougher and cynical, but he wasn’t, and it was because of you.”



Luna held for a moment—and then when she spoke, it was with a tight voice. “Aw hell, you’re… you’re gonna make me cry, you big softie.”



Kata leaned over and embraced her, and she fell into it. The chain in her ear clinked. “I haven’t forgotten what you told me in the Under,” he said. “About us being family. Who can you trust if not family?”



Luna held for a moment. “I wonder if that’s what Suicune and Raikou thought,” she said after a moment.



“Perhaps it was,” Kata said, breaking the hug. “I don’t think I can blame them.”



“No, not them,” Luna growled. “I don’t blame either of them. But her…”



“She didn’t kill him,” Kata reminded her.



“She might as well have,” Luna returned. “And her brothers. And engineering your suffering, and Reed’s, all because she’s lonely… I know everyone else is prepping for Es Cade, but as far as I’m concerned, he’s a speedbump on the way to her.



“Don’t live for vengeance,” Kata cautioned.



“Oh, I’m not going to,” she said. “Don’t worry. I have more to live for. Reed and Rui and a life in Agate and hell, even you, you softie.” She rose sharply. “But just because I’m not living for revenge doesn’t mean I’m not going to take it.”



---



He’d never been caught, and they’d known him for perhaps a few hours—but as far as Denri was concerned, Raikou was still one of them.



And now he was gone, and it was time to mourn.



Ximena’s penthouse included a rooftop garden, and Phenac’s mayor had been kind enough to let the pokemon up there.



Denri held a small stone in his paws, a little bit of crystal that Rui had purchased for him when he told her what he had in mind. Pouring a little bit of his power into it, the sparks nestled inside, making the crystal snap and glow for a moment. Eventually the power faded, but the interior of it had been cracked and warped by the electricity. It looked somewhat like glass lightning.



Finding a planter with rich, loamy soil, Denri dug out a scoop and placed the spark-hewn stone into it. Then he stepped aside. Reed walked up next to him, the Quagsire proffering a small stone he had snatched from the stream in Agate. Using his water powers, Reed had smoothed it into an oblong, alluring shape. He placed the stone in alongside the crystal, and then the two of them covered it with the earth.



And then their makeshift grave was finished.



“…it seems too small for them,” Denri said. “I grew up in Johto, Reed. Raikou and Suicune, they were mythic. People told fables about them. All this stuff about greater gods and the pact and the Devourer is almost too much for me to imagine, but… even if they were ‘just’ demigods, they deserve more than… than this.” He looked at the planter with a feeling of failure.



Reed rested a comforting paw on his back. “I think they understand,” he said. “You told us that Suicune thanked you and Rui in the end, didn’t you?” Denri nodded. It was true. “And Raikou… in the end, he couldn’t be purified, but he wanted to be. That counts for something.”



“It doesn’t seem fair,” Denri said. “The two of them were living legends. They should be remembered as heroes, not shadows.”



“They already are. You and I didn’t make that memorial for a pair of vicious beasts.”



“…I suppose not, huh.” Denri leaned back and looked skyward. Reed sat quietly next to him. “You and I and all the others, we had bad stuff happen to us, but… for them to be betrayed, and then suffer for fifty years…



Next to him, Reed put his paws together. “What are you doing?” Denri asked.



“Suicune asked us to pray for him,” Reed replied. “So I am. For both of them.”



Blinking, Denri did the same thing. His prayer was wordless, but he didn’t think they’d mind. It was an apology to Suicune for having to bring him down, and to Raikou for not being able to save him. It was an apology that they had been betrayed. It was a promise, too; that they wouldn’t go in vain. Denri promised them both that he would stop the Devourer from rising even if it took his last breath.



But most of all, he prayed for forgiveness. Forgiveness for himself, for his friends, for the whole region. Because while they’d all made mistakes, none of them deserved to be defined by them—not while they tried to move forward. The most important step to take wasn’t the first step—it was the next step. Always the next step.



Each pokemon finished at around the same time. They rose in unison, meeting one another’s eyes. Then, they returned back to the penthouse to prepare. They had a big fight ahead of them.



And behind them, buried in the planter, the lightning-struck crystal and the water-smoothed stone rested together. They were disparate; none would have thought to pair them. Yet now, were one to look at them, one would have gotten the sense that they belonged that way—united again after so much time, their tribulations behind them, finally resting together.


---


Now we're back for real! After the climax on the mountain, this is a long-deserved break chapter featuring some character moments.
 

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