• A new LGBTQ+ forum is now being trialed and there have been changes made to the Support and Advice forum. To read more about these updates, click here.
  • Hey Trainers! Be sure to check out Corsola Beach, our newest section on the forums, in partnership with our friends at Corsola Cove! At the Beach, you can discuss the competitive side of the games, post your favorite Pokemon memes, and connect with other Pokemon creators!
  • Due to the recent changes with Twitter's API, it is no longer possible for Bulbagarden forum users to login via their Twitter account. If you signed up to Bulbagarden via Twitter and do not have another way to login, please contact us here with your Twitter username so that we can get you sorted.

EVERYONE: Autumn 2023 One-Shot: Night of the Coquecigrue

Joined
Aug 19, 2023
Messages
257
Reaction score
505
Pronouns
  1. She/Her
Blurb: Sina and Dexio are a pair of friends and Trainers traveling the Kalos region to help Professor Sycamore improve his Pokédex. They stop by Dexio’s hometown of Anistar City to visit his old friend, the museum curator Monsieur Alton. M. Alton is planning an exhibit on an ancient Kalosian festival, but apparently things aren’t quite going according to plan…



“Thanks for showing us all that behind-the-scenes stuff, Monsieur Alton,” Sina said. Her gray-green eyes were still wide from trying to catch everything, and she had an extra bounce in her step. “When we came here for a visit, I wasn’t expecting VIP treatment! A tour from the curator himself!”

“You really didn’t have to go to so much trouble,” Dexio added. He shoved his bangs awkwardly out of his own, slightly paler eyes. He wasn’t bouncing like Sina, but for some reason, his blonde hair had a much greater tendency to fall in his face uninvited than Sina’s flared, dark purple hair. “I just wanted to stop in and say hi,” he continued. “I didn’t mean to drag you away from your work.”

M. Alton, a tall-ish gray-haired gentleman in a somewhat rumpled suit, waved his hand dismissively. “You didn’t ‘take’ me from anything, Dexio. It was my own idea, and I enjoy talking about my work.” He smiled at Sina. “And you’re quite welcome, mademoiselle. Any friend of Dexio’s is a friend of mine.”

Sina made an ‘ooooh’ noise and Dexio turned his head away, flushing. Sina bonked him on the shoulder. “You didn’t tell me you were such a big shot in your hometown, Dexio,” she teased. “Any chance you could hook a girl up with a nice table at one of the restaurants?”

M. Alton laughed. “I’m afraid Dexio’s influence in Anistar only extends to the museum, Mademoiselle Sina. He’s been coming here quite diligently since he was very young. Naturally, as curator, I do everything I can to encourage such interest in artifacts from the next generation, so we got to know each other rather well.”

“That sounds like Dexio,” Sina said. She grinned even more widely, and her voice took on an almost boastful note. “He’s the knowledge base in our little team. And it’s saved our tails more than once!”

“…Saved your tails?” M. Alton asked, looking vaguely concerned.

Dexio flushed harder. “That’s, uh, an exaggeration,” he mumbled. “She likes to do that.” Then, after an awkwardly loud throat-clearing, he tried changing the subject. “So, do you have any new exhibits in the works?”

“Ah. I…thought you would ask that. Well…” the curator bit his lip. “Yes, more or less.”

“More or less?” Dexio echoed.

“It’s not really much…” M. Alton began, then trailed off. He continued chewing his lip, as if mulling something over. Finally, he said, “Well, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to show you what I have planned for the exhibit. It would be a good test of public interest, to see if my efforts are worth it. That is, if you’re interested…?”

“YES!” Sina and Dexio exclaimed together.

A few minutes later, M. Alton pushed open the door to his office. “Please, go inside. You’ll find the light switch on the right side.”

Sina went through first, switched on the lights, and gasped. Dexio stepped in behind her and immediately saw why. The office looked like what one might expect for a museum curator—dark wood paneling, antique desk, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves—but scattered across the scholarly décor were dozens of wildly colored and bizarrely shaped objects.

“Well, what do you think?” Mr. Alton asked, stepping in behind the young Trainers. “Does it look interesting?”

“Interesting, yes,” Dexio said. “But I have no idea what I’m looking at.” He peered at a sculpture set at his eye level on a bookshelf. It sort of looked like a wiggly-tentacled Malamar, but it was painted in such a dizzy rainbow of colors that Ho-Oh itself would have been jealous.

Sina picked up a different piece that seemed to be something with wings. “They’re like…all the rejected lollipops in a candy factory got melted together and came to life for a moment before they hardened.”

Dexio wouldn’t have thought of that description, but he agreed with it. Just another example of why Sina was the note-writer of their Pokédex team. He turned to M. Alton. “What in the world are these things for?”

M. Alton strode to a nearby shelf and gingerly pulled out a book, taking care not to disturb the sculptures. “Tell me, have either of you ever heard of the Night of the Coquecigrue?”

Sina shook her head, and Dexio said, “Sounds vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t tell you what it was.”

“That’s exactly why I want to hold this exhibit,” M. Alton said. He sat down at his desk and started flipping through the book’s pages. “The Night of the Coquecigrue is an ancient Kalosian festival that occurred during harvest time. In the modern era, it’s been eclipsed by imported traditions related to Halloween. Few Kalosians today have heard of it.” The curator shook his head. “Which is a shame, because it’s a fascinating part of our regional mythology.”

“What does it celebrate?” Sina asked. “What’s a…” she paused to work out the word “…Cock-si-gru?”

“THIS is the Coquecigrue,” M. Alton said, turning his book around. Sina and Dexio crowded closer. The pages held illustrations of a strange, feathered creature with various gaudy patterns on each section of its body. The illustrations on both pages showed the creature in slightly different poses, but with wildly different pattern configurations.

“According to legend,” M. Alton continued, “the Coquecigrue is an embodiment of absurdity. As such, it tended to clash with Zygarde, the Guardian of Order. One day, it’s said, they had such a fierce battle that Arceus, Foremost of the Legendaries, took notice. Arceus scolded Coquecigrue for picking fights with Zygarde, reminding it that the world is supposed to be based on order. Coquecigrue countered that there must be a place in the world for nonsense, too, or else it would not exist. It begged for a day in which it could run free without being confronted by Zygarde. Arceus agreed and Coquecigrue picked a day in autumn, when the leaves turn wild colors like its own feathers. And that, they say, is the origin of the Night of the Coquecigrue.”

“That IS an interesting story,” Dexio remarked. “So, how was the Night of the Coquecigrue celebrated? Was it anything like Halloween?”

“In some respects, yes,” the curator replied. “Halloween is often seen as the ‘witching time,’ when the normal laws of reality don’t necessarily apply. The Night of the Coquecigrue was viewed the same way. People dressed up, too, but not AS anything in particular. They simply wore bright colors and patterns to match the Coquecigrue.” He chuckled. “There was a food component as well, but it wasn’t a good match to the modern idea of Halloween treats. Celebrants were encouraged to invent outlandish dishes. One surviving ancient recipe roughly translates as ‘pickled deep-fried Oran berry parfait’.”

“Eeeeyech,” Dexio moaned. Sina wrinkled her nose. “I think that should STAY in the forgotten past, thank you very much.” She waved her hands around the office. “But you still haven’t said what these things are!”

“These are coquecigrettes,” the curator replied. “They were a central feature of the Night of the Coquecigrue. People sculpted and painted small statues representing creatures that live in the Coquecigrue’s world—that is, where it lives the rest of the year, when it isn’t allowed free reign in our world.”

Dexio frowned. “How would they know what the creatures looked like?”

M. Alton smiled. “That’s the point. Anything could live in the Coquecigrue’s world, so artists were free to make whatever they wanted.”

“Was Coquecigrue a Pokémon?” Sina asked.

“The general consensus is that the story is more of a fable than a representation of an actual creature,” M. Alton replied. “Of course, it’s always possible someone could stumble across a real Coquecigrue and prove us all wrong. Mythical Pokémon have been discovered that way." He looked around his color-cluttered office and sighed. “The ones in glass cases are actual relics, but I made the others myself. I wanted to give exhibit visitors the opportunity to make their own coquecigrettes, so I was trying to figure out what materials and processes would be most logistically feasible. Now…” He closed the book and stood up with a soft groan. “Now, I’m not sure this idea is worth it.”

“It sounds like a good idea to me,” Dexio said.

“Yeah, an exhibit on the Night of the Coquecigrue would be a lot of fun!” Sina agreed. “What’s making you change your mind?”

M. Alton stepped over to the bookshelf and carefully slid the book back in place. “Well, there’s been a lot more trouble setting it up than I imagined.”

“Trouble?” Sina stage-whispered. Dexio groaned inside; he knew that tone of voice. After a pause of suitable dramatic length, Sina asked. “Is it…sabotage?”

M. Alton gave her a startled look. “I wouldn’t say it’s anything THAT drastic. It just seems like a lot of things are going wrong.”

“But that’s the very definition of sabotage!” Sina exclaimed.

“No,” Dexio said flatly, “the definition of sabotage is when things go wrong, and someone is deliberately causing it. Things go wrong all the time without anyone causing them. Why would someone want to sabotage a museum exhibit anyway?”

Sina ignored him. “Don’t worry Monsieur Alton! We’ll catch your saboteur!” She smiled enigmatically. “And even if we can’t, we have some…friends who can help.”

Dexio groaned inwardly again.

M. Alton gave Sina a small smile that was half confused and half politely grateful. “I have to agree with Dexio,” he said. “I’m certain I don’t have a saboteur. But I appreciate your offer to help.” The curator’s smile faded, and he stared thoughtfully off into space for a moment. “Actually…could I cash in on that offer? I’d like you to come look at what I have for the exhibit displays so far. It could be I’ve simply been staring at them so long I’m making careless mistakes.”

“Of course!” Sina exclaimed. This time Dexio matched her enthusiasm with a vigorous nod. “Of course, Monsieur Alton. If you think it will help. And I can’t say no to more behind-the-scenes looks.”

M. Alton gave a relieved smile. “Thank you. I’ve been setting up the displays in the storage warehouse—more room to work. It’s just a short walk behind the museum.” He made for the door, and Sina and Dexio followed.

Once they were walking through the museum, though, the two young Trainers lagged behind the curator.

“This sounds like a job for…the Defenders of Kalos!” Sina whispered excitedly.

Dexio groaned—out loud this time. “No, Sina.”

“Why not?” Sina demanded. “You want to help your friend, don’t you?”

“Of course I want to help him,” Dexio said. “But he’s known me since I was, like, five. He’d recognize me right away.”

Sina bit her lip. “Ahhh, good point.” Then she perked up again. “Perhaps we should tell him our secret identities. He seems trustworthy.”

Dexio shook his head. “Sina, we’re trying to show him we’re mature, responsible Trainers. Admitting we sometimes run around in costume masks for a confidence boost isn’t going to help that image.”

“It’s worked out fine before,” Sina countered.

“It works out fine when we’re already anonymous nobodies who blew into town,” Dexio shot back. “Look, Sina, this is my hometown. I’d never live it down.”

Sina raised her hands. “All right, all right. But I’m keeping it open as an option.”

“Fine.”

Neither of them spoke again until they were walking down the long lawn in back of the museum.

“I guess it is sort of odd,” Dexio admitted.

“Odd that things are going wrong?” Sina said. “Of course it is. Sabotage.”

“No, odd that M. Alton hasn’t said exactly what is going wrong,” Dexio said. “It can’t be something dangerous like sabotage, or he wouldn’t take us out here. But it has to be pretty bad, or he wouldn’t be worried about it.”

Sina only had a chance to say “Hmmm” before the group arrived at the warehouse. In contrast to the elegant quartz and marble museum, the warehouse was a plain, rectangular brick building. It was tidy, but utilitarian and nondescript. The only notable thing about it was the massive padlock on the front door.

“Here we are!” M. Alton said—with a hint of nervousness, Dexio noted uncomfortably. The curator pulled a ring of keys out of his pockets and flipped through it. Then he flipped back through the keys the other way. Then he sighed. “Blast it, Ramone, I TOLD you I still needed that one.”

“Who’s Ramone?” Sina asked.

“Our security Klefki,” M. Alton said. “He’s very good at keeping keys away from strangers. But sometimes he’s a little TOO enthusiastic about keeping all the keys safe.” He reached into an inner pocket in his suit jacket and pulled out a much smaller key ring. “I’ve learned from prior experience, however. I have extra keys for all the places I really, REALLY need access to. The staff door for the main building, my office, the warehouse…” he trailed off.

“What’s that fourth key for?” Dexio asked.

M. Alton sighed. “The restrooms,” he replied dryly. “That was a very unpleasant afternoon.” He singled out a key from the ring and used it to open the padlock. “It’s a little dark inside, so let me go in first.” He walked through the door, leaving it slightly open behind him. “The switches are right over he—” the curator cut off abruptly.

Dexio and Sina glanced at each other. “Monsieur Alton?” Dexio called tentatively.

There was no response.

“Definitely no sabotage, huh?” Sina whispered.

“Ok, ok, I admit it,” Dexio whispered back. “This is worrying.”

“On three?” Sina held up three fingers. Dexio nodded. “One…”

“Two…”

“THREE!”

The Trainers rushed through the door. Dexio saw a large, dimly lit room crowded with vaguely furniture-like shapes. Then he saw odd flashing lights out of the corner of his eye. He turned to look…

…And suddenly, he was falling into pitch blackness. He tried to scream, but his brain was too shocked to send the signal. He didn’t know how long he stayed like that. There was no light, no color.

Then, abruptly, there was altogether too much color. And his brain figured out how to talk to the rest of his body again.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!” Dexio used up all the air in his lungs, then took a deep, shuddering breath and stared. He was in some enclosed space. The…walls?...were fuchsia. And safety orange. And a shade of green he had only ever seen on green-apple-flavored candy. All at the same time.

“Dex?” called Sina’s voice. “Are you hurt?”

Dexio swiveled his head to see Sina sitting a short distance away. It was only then he realized the space had a floor. They weren’t freefalling anymore.

“I’m not hurt…well, except maybe for my eyes,” Dexio said. “How about you?”

“Same,” Sina replied. She looked around. “Where are we? And where’s M. Alton?!”

“Why, mademoiselle, you’re in my house!” said a strange, chirpy voice from behind them.

Sina and Dexio spun around, Sina jumping to her feet as she did so and Dexio rising to his knees. They saw a feathered, beaked creature about the size of a Fletchinder. It floated in the air, even though its wings were folded against its sides. Each section of its body was splashed with riotous, slowly shifting patterns.

“YOU’RE THE COQUECIGRUE!” Sina yelled, dumbfounded.

“We’re in your house?!” Dexio exclaimed, slightly more quietly but equally dumbfounded.

“Yes, you are, monsieur!” said the Coquecigrue, spreading its wings. “And so is your larger monsieur friend!” The creature paused, then said with a note of embarrassment, “Although I put him somewhere else when he came in. I wasn’t expecting multiple guests.” Its patterns abruptly started flashing like strobe lights. “BUT THAT’S FINE! The more the merrier in a thank-you party, I always say!”

Dexio had to squint against the flashing colors. “Th…thank-you party?” he mumbled.

“Yes!” The Coquecigrue made a crowing noise that sounded vaguely like giggling. “Humans haven’t welcomed me back into the world for a long time, you know. When I found out your large monsieur friend was going to invite me back, I was thrilled! So, I planned this thank-you party.”

“That’s…nice?” Sina said tentatively. Dexio didn’t blame her hesitance. Something about this creature and this place was very unsettling. Sina glanced at Dexio, then back at the Coquecigrue. “Uhh…are you a Pokémon?”

The Coquecigrue stopped strobe-flashing its patterns and took on a thoughtful expression. “Hmmm, that’s a good question.” It started to spin slowly in midair, until it was hanging upside-down. “‘Pokémon’ is what you humans call the magical creatures nowadays, right? In that case, I suppose I would be one.”

Dexio reached for his bag. He didn’t think the Pokédex could cobble together any entry for this thing, but maybe the sensors could figure out its type or something. His fingers only grasped air. He looked over his shoulder. “Hey! My bag is gone!”

Sina, alarmed, glanced over her own shoulder. “Hey, so is mine! What gives?”

“I put your bags in the coat closet!” the Coquecigrue. It swiveled back into an upright position, looking pleased. “That’s traditional human manners when a guest comes over to your house. See, I’ve been studying!”

Sina glared at the creature. “Guests are supposed to HAND you their stuff to put away! You’re not supposed to swipe it right off of—”

“Our Pokéballs were in our bags!” Dexio interrupted. “What did you do with our Pokémon?!”

“I left them in your bags, of course!” said the Coquecigrue. “What, did you think I would hurt them?”

“Well—”

“Of course not! Pokémon are wonderful, ridiculous creatures! Like I said, I’m basically a Pokémon with extra ridiculous!"

"But—"

“AND NOW IT’S TIME FOR THE PARTY GAME!!!” crowed the Coquecigrue with a sudden burst in volume. Both Dexio and Sina flinched in surprise. “I’ve prepared some wonderful rooms for this occasion! The game rules are…One! Make it through the rooms! And Two…” the Coquecigrue beamed. “THERE ARE NO OTHER RULES, EVER! Have fun!” the beast collapsed into a pinwheel-like swirl of color, then winked out like a reverse firework. A crooked door materialized in the place where it had been floating.

Sina looked at Dexio. Dexio stared back at her. “This seems very unsafe.”

Sina nodded. “I have to agree with that. But it also seems like our only way out.”

Dexio sighed. “I also have to agree with that.”

“Ready?”

“No, but let’s go anyway.”

With that, they pushed the door open.

Dexio was surprised by how normal the next room looked. It was…just a typical living room, with another crooked door on the opposite end. Maybe the room was longer and narrower than usual, and a bit more cluttered with furniture, but basically normal. He stepped through the doorway. Surely it couldn’t actually be just a normal room…

It wasn’t. Once he cleared the doorframe, he got a good look at the room’s ceiling. Or, rather, its second floor. Sofas, tables, and lamps hung from above like stalactites, mirroring the arrangement on the “regular” floor.

Dexio heard a gasp from above him and looked up to see Sina on the ceiling (or other floor?). She looked down (up?) at him and they just…stared at each other for a few moments, trying to come to grips with the configuration.

“Didn’t we go through the same door?” Dexio asked weakly. “Shouldn’t we have come out on the same level?”

Sina shrugged and shook her head. “Y’know what, maybe we should just assume right now that nothing is going to make much sense. This is Coquecigrue’s house, and you heard what M. Alton said. It’s the embodiment of absurdity.”

“I guess,” Dexio mumbled. He was getting increasingly worried. He and Sina made a good team…a great team, even. But his role in that team was knowing stuff, figuring things out. If nothing he knew mattered and there was no logic to guide him, what was he supposed to do?

Sina began picking her way through the furniture above. Slowly and more cautiously, Dexio did the same on his side. His eyes darted back and forth between Sina above and what was in front of him. He expected…he didn’t know what he expected, but it wasn’t going to be good. One of the pieces of furniture turning into a monster maybe, or a giant trap springing out of the walls, or—

The room flipped over.

“AAAAA!!!” Dexio screamed. He heard Sina yelp. He dropped to his knees and clamped his hands around the leg of a nearby coffee table. Now he was on the ceiling (?) and Sina was on the floor.

“Are you ok?” Sina called up (down?) at him.

Very, very slowly, Dexio pried his fingers loose from the table leg. He didn’t fall. Which sort of made sense, since the Sina hadn’t fallen and the furniture wasn’t falling, but…

“Dexio?”

“Yeah, ummm…I think so,” he mumbled.

“So, the gimmick here is that the room sometimes spins without warning,” Sina mused. “Good to know.” She continued navigating across her side of the room.

Slowly, shakily, Dexio stood up. He felt…theoretically fine. The ceiling was the same as the floor, so it wasn’t as if everything was upside-down. But everything WAS upside-down. Even though he felt right-side-up. Every step felt like an argument between his eyes and his sense of balance. Which made him feel very much NOT fine.

The room flipped over again.

Dexio’s conflicted senses shrieked, and he tumbled onto a nearby sofa. Nausea spiked in his stomach. He closed his eyes.

“Waaaaaah!!!” Sina screamed. It was an oddly happy scream. Dexio cracked his eyes open and looked down…no, it was up now…to see her grinning.

“You know,” she said, “if we weren’t stuck here as house guests of a forgotten Mythical Pokémon with no clear way out, this would be pretty fun. This room’d make a great amusement park ride.”

“Do remember what happened when we went to the carnival?” Dexio muttered.

“Uhh, lots of things happened when we went to the carnival,” Sina said. “You tried that apple and candy thing from Kitakami, I won an Eevee plush…” she trailed off when she saw Dexio’s pale face. “Oh. Oh, right. The tilt-a-whirl incident.”

Dexio nodded. Then he immediately wished he hadn’t. Moving his head brought a mini-wave of nausea.

Sina shuffled guiltily. “Uhhh…are you alright?”

“No,” Dexio said bluntly. “I feel sick. I don’t feel like I’m spinning, but I see everything spinning. It’s worse than the carnival rides.”

“Well, yeah,” Sina said. “It IS a little weird how it doesn’t feel like—wait! I have a great idea! Just close your eyes!”

“Huh?”

“If you close your eyes, you won’t be able to tell it’s spinning. Everything will seem normal!”

“I’ll walk into the furniture.”

“No, you won’t. I’ll talk you through it and make sure you don’t hit anything. Ready?”

“It…does sound like a good idea.” Dexio stood up, pushed down the last of his nausea, and closed his eyes. “Ready.”

“Ok, take a step for—whoops! The room just spun again. It’s good you closed your eyes. Ok, NOW take a step forward…a few more…stretch your hands out, now, there’s a lamp in front of you…”

This went on for several minutes until Sina said, “Ok, you’re right in front of the door!”

Dexio opened his eyes and practically jumped the last few steps to the door. He clutched the doorknob like it was a priceless gem. In a few more minutes, Sina finished crossing her side. She grabbed her own doorknob. “Ready?”

“I’m BEYOND ready to get out of here.”

“On three then? One…”

“Two…”

“ThreeEEEEEP!”

The two Trainers tumbled over each other, falling through what was now a single doorframe. The opening vanished behind them. Sina groaned. “Doors really shouldn’t merge halfway through using them.”

Dexio pushed himself up off of the…grass?...and looked at the new room. He blinked. “Sina?” he whispered. “I think we found the coquecigrettes. The real ones, I mean.”

Sina pushed herself up to a sitting position and joined Dexio in staring at the room. If it could be called a room. A sky of swirling pink, purple, and green stretched overhead. Blue grass swayed gently in a mild breeze. Tree-sized plants—only a few of which actually looked like trees—thrust up out of the blue lawn in weird shapes and bizarre corkscrews, their leaves, trunks, and stems splashed with every possible pattern. And wandering across the landscape were living versions of the coquecigrette statues they’d seen in the curator’s office. While the statues had all been about the same size, the creatures’ sizes varied wildly. Some flitted around like Fletchling, while others tramped around like Rhydon.

“Okaaaaaaay…” Sina said. “What are we supposed to do in here?”

Dexio just shook his head.

Wordlessly, the two Trainers got to their feet and started walking in a straight line across the dreamscape. They passed a turquoise, paisley-print shrub, and Dexio absently reached out and snapped off a twig. He let it drop to the ground, pointing in the same direction they were walking. It was a habit he had picked up during their travels.

They walked onward, keeping respectful distances from all the strange creatures. Dexio suddenly pulled Sina down as two amorphous blobs that looked like rainbow tumbleweeds whizzed overhead, then zig-zagged away. They made a detour to avoid the Malamar-like coquecigrette Dexio had noticed in the office, which was oozing in a lazy, wavy path across the ground, leaving a trail that looked like crayon wax. A few minutes later, Sina tugged on Dexio’s arm and pointed out to the horizon. A group of very tall, very long-legged creatures was tramping along in a straight, single-file line. It was hard to tell from a distance, but their long necks seemed to be topped with a single eye.

“I think those are the first creatures I’ve seen traveling in a straight line,” Dexio mused.

“Except for us,” Sina agreed.

They took a few more steps along the trail. Dexio froze. He blinked, then looked again. No, it wasn’t just his imagination. He groaned, “No, not except for us.”

“What?”

Dexio pointed at the turquoise twig on the ground. “I left that on the ground earlier. We’ve gone in a big circle.” He slumped down onto the blue grass.

Sina sat beside him. “It didn’t FEEL like we were turning at all. Well, except for the Malamar thing, but we kept walking straight after we steered around it.”

“Who knows what happened?” Dexio said miserably. “Nothing makes sense.”

“Hmmm…” Sina stared off into the distance. “Maybe, since those tall things are the only creatures walking in a straight line, we should hitch a ride on them.”

“Wouldn’t that be nice?” Dexio scoffed.

Sina got up and started walking toward the creatures.

“Wait, you’re serious?!” Dexio scrambled to his feet and ran after her. “Couldn’t we just walk next to them?”

“We tried walking straight just now, and it didn’t work,” Sina replied without breaking her stride. “Riding them seems safer.”

“Safer?!?”

“Well, ok, more likely to work.”

Apparently, they weren’t as far from the creatures as they appeared to be. They’d scarcely started running when the next beast in line loomed up in front of them. Sina skidded to a stop and looked around. “Now, how to get on…ah. That will work.” She walked over to a sturdy, orange, beanstalk-looking plant with convenient draping tendrils and began climbing up. Dexio reluctantly followed.

“This is a huge risk,” he muttered. “We have no idea what any of these creatures could do to us.”

“They haven’t been hostile so far,” Sina reasoned. “We’ve met some Pokémon species that were more territorial. And anyway, we’re technically guests of their boss, right? They shouldn’t want to hurt us.”

“I don’t think their boss has a very good idea of what does and doesn’t hurt humans.”

Either Sina didn’t hear him, or she couldn’t think of a response. “Here comes the next one. Get ready to jump on.” She leaned forward. Dexio tightened his grip on the bean-tree.

“Ready…” Sina murmured. “Almost…get set…” She glanced at Dexio. Then she leaned back again. “You’re not going to jump, are you?”

The creature passed beneath them. Dexio sighed.

“I know this isn’t a fantastic plan,” Sina said. “But it seems like the best option we have. Unless you’ve got another—”

“No, I don’t,” Dexio interrupted. “Nothing makes sense. I have no idea what’s going on. YOU’RE the only one with any useful skills here. I’ve just been baggage.”

“Ahhhh…ah.” Sina drummed her fingers on the orange limb. “So that’s what’s been bothering you. You’re usually more game for this kind of thing, even if you don’t like it.”

“I—”

“Look, Dexio,” Sina cut him off. “You’re the one who noticed the first room spun without affecting our sense of orientation. I wouldn’t have had the idea for you to close your eyes if you hadn’t said anything.”

“I was the only one who needed help there,” Dexio objected. “You got through fine on your own. If I hadn’t been there, you wouldn’t have needed a plan.”

“You’re also the one who noticed we went in a circle. And that these tall coquecigrettes are the only ones who walk straight, which lead to what looks like our best bet out of here. I wouldn’t have been ok in this room on my own.”

Dexio bit his lip.

“We’re a team. For some things, you need one part of a team more than the others, but if you want to handle everything, you need ALL the parts.” She reached behind her, then scowled. “Oh, right. Coquecigrue took my backpack.” She made both her thumbs and forefingers into circles and put them over her eyes like a mask. “We are the Defenders of Kalos!” She nudged him with her elbow. “Aren’t we?”

“I…yes, we are.”

“And are we going to be beaten by the ill-mannered offspring of a Talonflame and a kaleidoscope?”

Dexio burst out laughing. Then he quickly grabbed the stalk-trunk to keep from falling off. “Ok, ok. No, we’re not going to be beaten by the—what you said. I’m not going to repeat it.” He looked toward the horizon. “Here comes another of the tall things.”

Sina leaned forward. “Ready?” This time, Dexio nodded. “Almost here…one…two…THREE!”

They jumped off the orange plant onto the creature’s furry, multi-colored back.

Surprisingly, the creature didn’t break its stride. But it did swivel its neck around to look at them. Its large, lemon-yellow eye blinked slowly.

Sina smiled nervously. Dexio gave a small, weak wave. The coquecigrette blinked again, then turned to face ahead once more. Both Trainers breathed a sigh of relief.

The creature loped onward, following the who-knew-how-many of its kind that had come before. Dexio noted with excitement that even though the creature walked faster than they had, the landscape never repeated itself. Sina noticed too. “I think this is going to work!”

Dexio nodded…then his smile faded. “Uhh…Sina? I think there’s a cliff ahead.”

Sina squinted at the point where the blue grass abruptly stopped. “It…it has to turn, right? What did the others do?”

Dexio struggled to look through the technicolor forest. “I don’t see any others. What if…what if these things are like Bagon, and just all go running off of cliffs?”

As if in confirmation, the coquecigrette suddenly bounded forward. In two impossibly long leaps, it vaulted off the edge of the cliff and plummeted toward the bright red rocks below.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!” the humans screamed.

The coquecigrette blinked.

When they hit the rocks, though, it didn’t hurt. The boulders wobbled like chunks of Razz Berry gelatin, compressed, then sent the threesome flying back up in all directions. Sina and Dexio landed on the velvety grass with muffled thumps. The coquecigrette landed on its feet and continued on in a straight line, as if nothing had happened.

Sina sat up and brushed indigo dirt out of her hair. “Like I said before. This would be a lot of fun, if you knew for sure you were going to make it out in one piece.”

Dexio spit out a blue grass blade. Then his eyes widened. “Look! The next door!”

Another crooked door jutted up out of the ground, seemingly not connected to anything. The Trainers scrambled to it. Dexio flung the door open for Sina, then followed her inside. The opening vanished as soon as both of them stepped through.

Sina looked at their new surroundings and groaned. “Oh, great. This has ‘riddle’ written all over it.”

They were in a four-walled room, each wall as skewed as the door they’d just passed through. The walls were covered in patches of the same wild patterns that had been on the Coquecigrue’s feathers. Two more crooked doors were in the middle of the wall facing them, each a mirror image of the other.

“I guess…we have to pick whether the left or right door is correct,” Dexio said.

“But how?” Sina asked. “Like I said, this looks like a riddle. But I don’t see a riddle written out anywhere.”

“Maybe…maybe there’s something in the patterns? Some clue?” Dexio wondered aloud.

Sina shrugged. “It’s worth a shot.”

The two Trainers separated and walked around the edge of the room, scrutinizing the wallpaper. Then they scrutinized the doors themselves. Then they switched sides and looked over the wallpaper the other had studied. They met in the middle of the wall opposite the doors. Sina looked at Dexio helplessly. “Eeny meeny miny mo?”

Dexio shook his head in defeat. “I guess. I can’t see anything.”

Sina flicked her finger back and forth until it landed on the door on the right. They crossed through. Once more, the door vanished behind them. And once more, they found themselves in a skewed, vividly patterned room facing two more crooked doors.

“Oh, great,” Sina groaned. “We chose the wrong one.”

“Wait, maybe not,” Dexio said. “Look at the shapes of the walls. This is a different room. Maybe we have to find the right path through several rooms. Although…” he furrowed his brow. “…If we have to keep choosing at random, we’re bound to get lost eventually.”

“Assuming our last choice didn’t already make us lost,” Sina agreed. She plunked down on the floor with a frustrated huff. “This is ridiculous. At least the other areas gave us something to work with.”

Slowly, Dexio crossed to the wall with the doors. He crouched down between them and stared at the wallpaper. Finally, he closed his eyes and leaned his forehead against the wall. Phantom versions of the patterns danced behind his eyelids. He didn’t know what he was looking at anymore. Both his and Sina’s skillsets were stymied. Were they going to be stuck in here forever? Would that mean their Pokémon would be stuck in the coat closet forever? Maybe they could convince the Coquecigrue to let them go. If it ever deigned to show itself again. And what about M. Alton? Was he still stuck in here too, stranded without his Pokémon?

His Pokémon…

Dexio’s eyes shot open.

The flashing lights they saw when they entered the warehouse…

“I think I figured it out!” Dexio blurted.

Sina shot to her feet and bounded over. “You figured out this room?!”

“No—” Dexio’s eyes refocused on the patterns in front of him. “Wait, YES!” He pointed to a light-yellow patch marked with rows of sideways purple triangles. “These triangles have their tips pointing to the right. But that’s not what that pattern looked like in the other room…” He paused, doubt flickering across his mind. “Err…was it?”

Sina leaned in and squinted. “It does look a little different. But I couldn’t tell you WHAT was diff—”

“I think they pointed to the left in the last room!” Dexio interjected. “So, the triangles—”

“Point in the direction of the correct door!” Sina exclaimed. She flung open the door on the right, and she and Dexio scurried through. They found themselves back in the first room. This time, they sprinted across the room and through the door on the left. They found themselves in a third room.

On and on they ran through the patterned rooms, slowing just long enough to check which direction the triangle pattern pointed. After about a dozen rooms, they came to a new room with a single door.

A single, ordinary, straight-sided door.

Dexio wasn’t sure exactly which of them opened the door. One moment they were both crowded into the doorframe, and the next there was a flash of light. The Trainers found themselves tumbled onto a clean, polished concrete floor in a drab, but well-lit space.



“Mal-mar!” gurgled a not-human voice. Dexio and Sina looked up to see a Malamar floating a short distance away. Held gingerly in his tentacles were their backpacks. And standing next to him, breathing heavily, was M. Alton.

“I KNEW IT!” Dexio exclaimed. “None of it was real!”

Sina stared at Dexio, then M. Alton. “What do you mean, none of it was…” She trailed off as her gaze fell on Malamar. “It wields the most compelling hypnotic powers of any Pokémon…” She recited from the Pokédex. “Gazing at its luminescent spots will quickly induce a hypnotic state…”

M. Alton rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. “Errr…I hope we made a convincing World of the Coquecigrue.”

“YOU HYPNOTIZED US?!?” Sina yelled. Then she turned on Dexio. “AND YOU FIGURED THIS OUT AND DIDN’T TELL ME?!?”

Dexio flung up his hands defensively. “I only figured it out at the end! I didn’t realize what the lights we saw at the beginning were, and I didn’t remember M. Alton had a Malamar until we were stuck in the pattern rooms! I started to tell you, but then I realized what the pattern room clue was, so—”

Sina, apparently deciding to let Dexio off the hook, turned back to M. Alton. “What were you thinking, hypnotizing a couple of innocent kids?!”

M. Alton flinched and looked at his Malamar. “I had a nagging feeling this wouldn’t be a good idea.” The Malamar made a sheepish noise somewhere between a whimper and a gurgle. The curator turned back to the kids. “When I had the idea for the Night of the Coquecigrue exhibit, I thought guests would get a kick out of ‘visiting’ the fabled World of the Coquecigrue. So, Inversus and I worked on bringing it to life.” He gestured to his Malamar. “It was not easy. As I’m sure you know from your work on Professor Sycamore’s Pokédex, a Malamar’s hypnotic powers normally target the brain’s motor control. Targeting the senses instead took a considerable amount of practice. And then I had to come up with activities to represent the Coquecigrue’s nonsense realm…we had to build an area where the illusion could be safely executed…” He pointed behind Sina and Dexio. They turned to see that the door they’d passed through was not embedded in a wall at all, but freestanding at the edge of a foam-covered stretch of floor. Elsewhere on the floor were various walls and climbing apparatuses, all of them padded.

M. Alton scuffed his foot lightly on the floor. “…Neither of us were very confident in our work. We liked the idea, but we doubted we could pull it off successfully. Dexio, when you arrived with Mademoiselle Sina, well…I thought you would be a good litmus test. You’re both smart young people working for the region’s foremost researcher. If our illusion was convincing enough to entertain you, it would probably be acceptable for a public exhibit. I entirely understand your being angry at the deception.”

“‘Deception’ isn’t the half of—” Sina started to mutter. Dexio cut her off.

“M. Alton, were you or Inversus able to hear anything we were saying while we were in the course?”

M. Alton gave him a curious look. “No, I was watching from the Meowthwalk above. And I doubt Inversus heard much. After creating the meeting with the Coquecigrue, he was on the edges of the area keeping watch over the illusion. Why do you ask?”

“That’s what I thought…” Dexio looked over to Sina, who had her arms crossed. “Both Sina and I thought we could get hurt in the illusion,” Dexio said. “We got scared in some of the parts, when we thought we weren’t going to make it out. Well, I got scared, anyway.” He looked down at his feet. “Also, uhhh, I kind of got motion sick in the first section.”

M. Alton looked horrified. “Oh, children, I am SO sorry! I thought the scenario was framed as a harmless game. If I’d known you thought you were in danger…and Dexio, I’m so sorry for putting you through such a thing!”

Dexio patted his friend’s arm in what he hoped was a reassuring way. “Hey, I know you wouldn’t scare us on purpose! I know it was a mistake. And it’s not like you’ve ever seen me on a roller coaster or anything. And…I guess it WAS pretty fun, all things considered.” He looked at Sina for backup.

Sina uncrossed her arms, and a smile slowly spread across her face. “You know, I should be mad. I guess I am mad. But you’re right, it was pretty fun.” She shrugged. “And I guess everyone makes a stupid choice occasionally.”

“SINA!”

“What? It WAS stupid!”

“There’s more polite ways to say that!”

“It’s all right, Dexio,” M. Alton said. “I deserve it, and worse.” He hesitated, then pulled a notebook out of his pocket. “Errm…I would entirely understand if you don’t want to, but…since you seem to have enjoyed the experience in spite of everything...perhaps…”

“You want us to give feedback? Of course!” Sina interrupted. She looked contemplatively toward the ceiling and started counting off on her fingers. “You should have an alternative to the spinning room, and I’d like to have seen more coquecigrettes in the second area up close, and the last area should have some clue about watching how the patterns change…” She looked at Dexio. “Do you have any other feedback?”

“Just one more thing,” Dexio said.

M. Alton looked up from his frantic scribbling. “What would that be?”

“Give the museum guests more warning than we got!”
 
The way this fic is structured, and the story, in which the characters overcome challenges through cooperation and friendship, the way the characters are portrayed, as well as the amount of humour and suspense, all of that reminds me of a TV show directed towards a younger audience, and I love that!

The characterisation of the protagonists is in my opinion one of the strongest aspects of this fic. The clear portrayal of the characters right from the beginning makes me care about them. I have to admit I had no idea the two of them even existed, so I don’t know how ‘in character’ they are (thought they were OCs at first). I especially like how you characterise them in the beginning – making Sina talk with Alton about Dexio gives me a lot of sense of who both of them are and it does not feel forced at all.

The humorous scenes fit the overall atmosphere and appear in appropriate moments. Also, they were funny in my opinion, I especially like the one where Sina calls Coquecigrue “ill-mannered offspring of a Talonflame and a kaleidoscope” and Dexio refuses to repeat that. I think it fits their personalities as you established them in this fic – which is something I could say about every line of dialogue in this one-shot!

Something I noticed is that you use adverbs ending in -ly too… frequently. It felt like reading the same word multiple times to me, which is why I think it would be better if the sentences were rephrased to avoid repeating these adjectives… This is what I mean:
“No,” Dexio said flatly, “the definition of sabotage is when things go wrong, and someone is deliberately causing it. Things go wrong all the time without anyone causing them. Why would someone want to sabotage a museum exhibit anyway?”

Sina ignored him. “Don’t worry Monsieur Alton! We’ll catch your saboteur!” She smiled enigmatically. “And even if we can’t, we have some…friends who can help.”

Dexio groaned inwardly again.

M. Alton gave Sina a small smile that was half confused and half politely grateful. “I have to agree with Dexio,” he said. “I’m certain I don’t have a saboteur. But I appreciate your offer to help.” The curator’s smile faded, and he stared thoughtfully off into space for a moment. “Actually…could I cash in on that offer?...”

“No,” Dexio said in a flat tone, “the definition of sabotage is when things go wrong, and someone is deliberately causing it. Things go wrong all the time without anyone causing them. Why would someone want to sabotage a museum exhibit anyway?”

Sina ignored him. “Don’t worry Monsieur Alton! We’ll catch your saboteur!” An enigmatic smile formed upon her face. “And even if we can’t, we have some…friends who can help.”

Dexio let out an inward groan once more.

M. Alton gave Sina a small smile that was half confused, half polite and grateful. “I have to agree with Dexio,” he said. “I’m certain I don’t have a saboteur. But I appreciate your offer to help.” The curator’s smile faded, and he stared off into space in thought for a moment. “Actually…could I cash in on that offer?...”
This is just a suggestion of course!

O.K. this is a personal pet peeve of mine – description of eye colour in the first paragraph. That is something that usually makes me click off a fic. I think that the first scene would be completely fine without establishing Sina’s eyes are grey-green, mentioning it somewhere in the middle of the story would be better in my opinion.

Speaking of the description of colours, I really like your description of Coquecigrue’s world – it is simple yet creative and leaves a lot of room for imagination, which I find very fitting for a nonsensical world like that!

The ‘it was all an illusion’ plot twist can be disappointing sometimes, but here, I had no time to form an opinion on it thanks to Sina being understandably angry upon the revelation! I would say the twist was well executed and although I did not see it coming, it was not surprising to me – the whole story felt somewhat familiar, thanks to its structure probably, which was one of the things that made it so pleasant to read for me.

The fic was quite suspenseful on a first read, but reading it for the second time knowing the plot twist, I was not worried about the protagonists anymore, which on the other hand allowed me to simply enjoy them as characters.

Overall, Night of the Coquecigrue is a great piece of fanfiction featuring characters that are not featured so often
around 70 works on AO3… I checked!
. It is engaging from start to finish and I am glad I had the chance to read it!
 
Hiya Viridian! Great work on your first (!!) fic that you've published here, seriously! This one was one of my favorites, to be honest with you... congrats on winning both Best Usage of Theme awards, I'd say you deserved it!

Where to begin...? Sina and Dexio are characters I haven't ever really come across in any fanworks, so to have them be so prominent here was cool! I learned a bit more about them through researching for reading this, if you can believe that LOL. Getting to know smaller-fanbase characters like this is always a pleasure! (^^)/

My main takeaway from reading this is that you have a strong suit in writing dynamic characters and situations! Sina being a bit more outspoken and Dexio being there to reel her in felt nice, like they were good foils of each other.

Your descriptions also!!! They really made this fic feel incredibly easy to imagine in my head — despite it being full of crazy imagery thanks to the silly setting. In the hands of others, a challenge like that may end up making for a hard-to-follow story, but you did it very well in my opinion! It was super wacky, but I guess that's just how the Cocquecigrue is...?

Aside from it all, your worldbuilding intersected with the theme nicely! Basing the Cocquecigrue on an in-world take on Halloweentime festivities was a good way to go about things, I think, and I don't know, having the two (sort of?) experience the Night of the Cocquecigrue instead of simply learning about it was a great choice as well. You picked good characters to problem-solve through it all!

I'm not sure if I'd try pickled deep-fried Oran berry parfait... but there's a first time for everything, right?

Thanks for entering in Viridian, and congrats! Please feel free to post some more of your work in the future if you end up creating any! It'll be interesting to see if you have anything in store like this?
 
Thank you so, so much for the reviews, @Hydrogenium and @lisianthus ! One of the main reasons I entered the contest was in hopes of getting feedback, so it means a lot!

Regarding Hydro's critiques about using too many adverbs ending in "-ly" and overdoing it on the character descriptions too early...I'm not too surprised I overdid the adverbs, as that's a weakness of mine. They're such useful things for describing tone of voice and body language! I am a bit embarrassed, though, since one of the things I did while editing was try to cut the number of adverbs to a more sane amount. Knowing I need to practice that more is good feedback.

I'm also not surprised the character descriptions didn't land quite right, since that part of writing is a struggle for me. When I read a story, my brain demands an image of a character almost immediately--and if details aren't provided, it'll just pull up some random image based on first impressions. This can be jarring later if the author reveals details that don't match my initial image. I don't want to do that to others, so I try to put in character descriptions early. On the other hand, I don't want to disrupt the narrative with excessive detail. It's a hard balance, and definitely something I need to practice more.

I am surprised that the place descriptions went over so well! I'm not very good at place descriptions, so I worked especially hard on them, haha. I'm thrilled that they worked! (Also now I have a better idea of what works for future fics, which is helpful.)

Most of all, I'm glad you both liked Sina and Dexio! I enjoy them (obviously) and I love their character concepts (Trainers who went on a journey like the player and are now the professor's assistants? And also superheroes?!), but the way they're written and presented in the games is uh...not super distinctive. Which is probably why a lot of people have never heard of them/don't remember them. I read through their quotes pages and tried to extrapolate more of their personalities from what WAS shown in the games. Hearing that the resulting takes on Sina and Dexio were enjoyable is probably the biggest compliment I could get on this fic!
 
Back
Top Bottom