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MATURE: How to Conquer Kanto in Eight Easy Steps - Chapter 98

Lone Scribe for the Lord of Time
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Jun 10, 2018
Messages
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95
Chapter Fifty-Three: Take a Game (6,806 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-Although I have no love for Alaska’s enemies (and, yes, they could treat her better), Alaska is only getting worse as a character. She is a menace to society (as Daisy implied) and, in reality, would likely end up in jail when she steps too far out of line one day.
—At least she is a little less impulsive now, though still immensely stupid. It was refreshing that they all worked together in a crisis, which isn’t what typically happens with the (thankfully absent) reality stars

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Barred from Game Freak for no reason? They destroyed one of their R&D floors. Good reason.
-A flare wouldn’t blow up a car.

Small Details
-A lot more of your chapters have been very lengthy recently
-Your creativity is shining through in this chapter again
-Is Flareon named Evelyn or Dragonite? I think you got it backwards.
-IDWPDF (5)

Chapter Fifty-Four: Leaving the Earth Behind (4,557 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-I know I have been hard on Alaska recently, but it is more me than the character. She is obviously what the story needs and people like her, I just don’t relate well to her.
--I do like the Sandy-Alaska chapters more. Alaska seems more sane and grounded.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Snorlax, just another in a nice line or memories you are evoking. Keep it up.
-The real world references bring an interesting dynamic to your story

Small Details
-Luminous, pink Band-Aids…classic.
-IDWPDF (7)

Chapter Fifty-Five: Life’s A Beach (5,581 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-I love that Sandy is practically a walking Pokédex since Alaska knows next to nothing about Pokémon
-Alaska is such a hypocrite
-You still have yet to write a character who isn’t an asshole (barring Sandy)

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Goldeen is orange…
-Alaska only has three Pokémon…

Small Details
-I love the change of perspective, you should have done this forever ago
-IDWPDF (7)

Chapter Fifty-Six: Something Fishy This Way Comes (5,757 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-Please don’t turn Sandy into Alaska. Anything but that.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Nice incorporation of the Apricorn Balls
-Pichu never would have taken multiple Mud Shots

Small Details
-The constantly impending doom and death is annoying and (imo) unrealistic.
-IDWPDF (5)

Chapter Fifty-Seven: Washed Up (3,240 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-I am glad you added a character that has an emotion other than kill or screw you, even if it was a depressing Pokémon
-No matter how much I dislike every decision that Alaska makes, Chloe is still worse

Story (Believability, Interest)
-I have really enjoyed the Sandy point of view and I am really glad Alaska finally got told off. I just wish you had finished it and not interrupted it, like all of Alaska’s other chances to grow.

Small Details
-Your grammar and writing style has amazingly improved
-IDWPDF (3)

Chapter Fifty-Eight: A Dose of Reality (4,506 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-I love Sandy so much, I am glad she isn’t disillusioned about Alaska’s insanity (though the insanity seems to be improving)

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Would a reality show really be playing on tv as they film it? I don’t actually know, but I feel like they would finish filming everything before they aired it.

Small Details
-Excellent change of pace for the characters and the story. It had a couple of chances to go off the rails, but everyone controlled themselves and we got a nice, calm chapter. Try some more of these occasionally.
-IDWPDF (6)

Chapter Fifty-Nine: The Tale of Sandy Samson (4,698 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-Your depiction of Alaska and Sandy’s relationship is amazing and wildly accurate. Friends aren’t perfect, they make mistakes, but the best ones work through it. Well written.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Pokémon are tough in the wild and once captured, it is a little strange that you write like they could die at the slightest mishap when they can take a Hyper Beam and sometimes walk it off.
-Does Alaska realize she is being hypocritical (again)? She is pissed that no one will tell her anything for her “protection,” but she does the same to Sandy?
-The other day, when Nitelite dropped us and that Snorlax began to wake up, I thought for certain it was going to kill us. I have never felt that way about Pokemon before.
—Try and be consistent with your story telling. This is not true. Alaska is constantly terrified that every wild Pokémon she see is going to kill (and potentially eat) her.

Small Details
-Your descriptions of the world continue to blow me away, make them more frequent.
-I also love your Pokémon metaphors
-Don’t be afraid to write more chapter like this. They really bring the characters out and are important to the development, even if the story is halted momentarily.
-IDWPDF (8)

Blog Eleven: The Paths Untaken (1,347 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-I wondered where this blog would go since the arc was primarily introspective. You did an excellent job with it. It covers what the blog normally does, but the way it is written also shows Alaska’s mood and her desire to change.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Explosion-sober, I like it.
-Not that Amanda didn’t tell Buzz where Alaska is, but it was dumb of her to announce her location in the blog.
-Alaska must have one hell of a computer to have survived everything it has. And Kanto has amazing WiFi.

Small Details
-IDWPDF (8)

Interlude Eleven: Six Degrees of Madness (7,180 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-Ethan Hartley is Gold? That isn’t clear.
-Red and Blue were best friends? Interesting.
-I will be honest, I missed Gideon. He makes the story.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Johto and Kanto have different Champions? Also not exactly clear, especially as Lance is involved with both.
-POKEMON DON’T DIE IN BATTLES, PLEASE STOP HINTING AT IT. ITS ANNOYING.
-Red’s idea of sending Leaf away is Fuchsia? Why not Johto or farther?

Small Details
-Did Kris fight Dragonite with Latias or Latios? The story says Latios, but it seems like it should be Latias.
-Completely off topic, but interesting nonetheless…these people clearly don’t understand fate. If Alaska is destined to fight in the final battle, she will fight in the final battle. Nothing will stop her from getting there. She doesn’t need protection because she can’t die until her destiny is fulfilled. If they truly wanted to help, they would help her get stronger so she is prepared for the day when she will, inevitably, fight that battle.
-That was maybe a bit much…
-IDWPDF (4)
 
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Lone Scribe for the Lord of Time
Joined
Jun 10, 2018
Messages
208
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Chapter Sixty: Waking Up to a Brand New Death (4,008 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-Alaska has a sickly vivid imagination, perhaps she should retire and write horror films.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-This isn’t against you or the story, but Buzz has serious “bad guy syndrome.” If you want them dead, kill them, don’t kidnap them. Rookie mistake. This is why you will fail.
-Buzz started following them in Vermillion? Alaska first interrupted the shoot in Viridian Forest.
-Despite the anti-spy movie trope comment, the chapter was very spy movie. Not a bad thing though, I love James Bond.

Small Details
-I really appreciate an explosion that is both beneficial and explained before it happened. I was a little bored of BOOM, end of chapter, what is going on. Nice change.
-IDWPDF (5)

Chapter Sixty-One: Shock in the City (4,142 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-Another beautiful description. This time of how awful office work is.
-I cried a little bit at Buzz’s choice of Pokémon. Classic Team Rocket choices, but I love them all the same. Maybe I should have joined Team Rocket.
-Sandy is an excellent example of what someone can do when called upon. Don’t let the blonde hair distract you, she is a warrior within.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Do you have to pointlessly maim and kill people? You could easily have talked about the falling glass and just implied injury (or said everyone was alright).

Small Details
-The running commentary of “It did seem like a good idea at the time,” is entertaining and gives the story a strong sense of continuity.
-IDWPDF (7)

Chapter Sixty-Two: Science Behind the Madness (6,176 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-Alaska can be annoying at times, but her wit is unmatchable. If she fails as a horror film director, maybe she should try her hand at satirical comedy.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-There is something comical (yet wrong) about two thirteen-year old girls slinking around an office building with guns out. Just weird James Bond flashbacks.
-Fitting in a version of RBY’s Silph attack is entertaining and a neat twist.
-Your forethought is impressive

Small Details
-I love how you snuck ruby, sapphire, emerald, pearl, and diamond into the story
-I want that Zubat-only Repel, pleeeeeeeeeeeeease
-IDWPDF (7)

Chapter Sixty-Three: Parental Consideration Advised (5,411 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-I think Gallade is a good Pokémon for Looker, but part of his appeal (interest) in the games is that he has no Pokémon.
--Excellent character in Looker, btw
-Also, good job with mixing up the characters a bit too. Looker and Mr. Melton break your normal trend of everyone is an ass.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-I know Alaska said her mom is useless with technology, but she has posted quite a bit of what has happened to her in that blog. If her mom has read it, she knows.

Small Details
-Robot army. Not what I expected when I started reading a Pokémon fic, but definitely an interesting (if foreshadowed) development.
-IDWPDF (8)

Chapter Sixty-Four: The Fun Times at the End of the Tunnel (

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-I know Giovanni was mimicking Blofeld (James Bond) with his Persian fetish and Looker was comparing Giovanni and Buzz (somewhat mockingly), but I will take it as a gratuitous Bond reference and say KUDOS.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-I still think the amount of physical abuse that Sandy/Alaska go through is a little excessive, especially with practically no time to heal. I realize they have had “magical” help, but two, untested thirteen-year olds wouldn’t be able to take it

Small Details
-You are keeping things interesting and doing a better job of balancing action and character growth. Keep it up.
-IDWPDF (8)

Chapter Sixty-Five: Saving Private Alaska (4,686 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-Maybe don’t use the same name twice in the same story. Sandy Samson…Samson Silph, could lead to confusion.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Good filler chapter to get everyone out without stacking on a lot more action.
-Setting the bar with the Sandy-view chapters in the last arc saved a lot of confusion when you moved to her view in this chapter.

Small Details
-The chapters are consistently longer now, but aren’t varying from 2,000-8,000 words, which is nice.

Chapter Sixty-Six (4,039 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-You are doing a better job giving variety to your characters and at just the right time. Sabrina is my favorite canon character and I would have been upset if you made her another faceless asshole.
-Are you ever going to fix Alaska’s rage issues?

Story (Believability, Interest)
-I was extremely confused about how Alaska was talking with a broken jaw, but you did an excellent job solving that issue with the mental speech.

Small Details
-You have found a good pace for the story now.
-IDWPDF (7)

Blog Twelve: #YODO (1,709 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-So, I was proud of Alaska until she revealed that the spies told her to withhold information (though impressed she listened). Not sure why they don’t release Buzz’s name, it might force him to ground.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-More Bond references, thank you.

Small Details
-I think this is your best blog yet.


Interlude Twelve: Motivational Speaking (4,684 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)

-You really don’t like rich people, do you?
-Gideon is the true antagonist of the story. Chaos for the sake of chaos is the true sign of pure evil.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-I was really hoping that, with an army of robots, Buzz had a better plan than march up to the League and kill Red. He just isn’t cut out to be in charge.

Small Details
-Well written and planned out. Bringing Buzz and Gideon together was great, even if we didn’t learn anything new.
-IDWPDF (6)
 
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The acest of trainers
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-Not that it takes away from the story, because I am sure a lot of people are similar, but William’s character bothers me a little bit. If he had been out of work three years, even dealing with depression, he could have done some repair work or chores around the house.
I think that is a subjective view. The family is established as being reasonably poor, so I believe the lack of money coupled with depression/mental illness would lead to a level of unproductivity.

-The school comment confused me a little. If the kids were in school, why wasn’t Mitchell? When do kids finish school? If 10 is when a lot of trainers go on journeys, do they finish before then? Is that why Alaska isn’t in school?
It is the summer holidays at this moment of the story, but I suppose that has not been clarified.

-The age of Mitchell and Freddie combined with their “cluelessness” is a little difficult to believe. By 9 and 10 (especially if kids are going on adventures at 10), they would be much more aware of life. Immaturity would still be present, but a level of their innocence would have begun to disappear.
Again, subjective, I feel. I recently spent time with two cousins who are 13, only a month or two away from 14, and I feel they are only slightly above the level from Mitchell we see here.

As such, it is a little weird that you use “Robin” so much and not “mom.” At 13, even in those circumstances, Alaska would have called her “mom” most of time.
Again, subjective.

-Cocktails selling a less-than-13 year old?
The cocktails reference is meant to be a generic holiday trope rather than what specifically attracted Alaska's attention. In saying that, she does have a heightened sense of her own maturity and intelligence, so would envision herself one day sipping a mojito by the side of a pool.

Thanks for the effort of these reviews - I certainly have never seen anything on this level before! I will look over the proofreads for the first arc more closely when I have a chance.
 
Last edited:
Lone Scribe for the Lord of Time
Joined
Jun 10, 2018
Messages
208
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95
Chapter Sixty-Seven: A Game of Strategy (6,552 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-You narrator view is becoming too pro-Alaska. It is making the better characters you are developing seem worse because Alaska hates them (and everyone)

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Parasect took three Fire Punches? Not happening.
-The Shellder-Natu fight was excellent

Small Details
-IDWPDF (5)

Chapter Sixty-Eight: That Psychic Feeling (6,699 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-I am glad that everyone else realizes that Alaska is an idiot and needs to change. Her complete unwillingness to do so, though frustrating, is consistent with her character.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Early in the story, Twister affected Clefairy (who is Fairy-type), but now it doesn’t affect Gardevoir for the same reason. I know Fairy-type was developed between the two chapters being written, but you either need to stick to your original canon (no Fairy) or explain its development in your story
-At this point, the most realistic way to end the story is with Alaska’s death. She refuses to change, she refuses help, and she is a terrible battler. It only makes sense.

Small Details
-IDWPDF (1)

Chapter Sixty-Nine: The Least Sexy Chapter (5,601 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-Alaska is a violent drunk date, love the comment. Spot on.
-I assume the picture in your profile is Alaska? I guess she kind of has long hair…

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Nice job explaining the prophetic rock and tying in Charlotte
-The explanation of the corruption of the League is excellent and Alaska actually has something concrete to be angry at…for once.
—Everything you said about the League makes sense, but even if Red threw a match to make her Champion, she would only remain Champion until her first challenge. She is a terrible trainer and not fit to have five gym badges, let alone be considered the strongest trainer in the region.

Small Details
-That was an excellent chapter all-around. The explanations, the emotions, the potential growth.
—Previous experience, however, tells me that nothing is going to change. Yes, Alaska’s allies could have been more transparent, but she could have also tried a little harder to not be a bitch.
-IDWPDF (3)

Chapter Seventy: A Neighborly Chat (3,569 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-Alaska already hates humanity, I am not sure how much worse her viewpoint can get.
-Alistair’s horribly inaccurate impression of Alaska makes me question his psyche a bit. Alaska is none of the things he said.
-I don’t feel sorry for Alaska at all. Boo hoo, your life isn’t the way you want it to be. Join the club of billions of people in the world with the same problem.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-No one has figured out that, no matter what happens, Alaska will survive to the final battle?
-Alistair didn’t know about the lesson? Sabrina and Alaska were shouting back and forth about it for most of the battle…

Small Details
-I agree with Alistair’s comment about Alaska’s combos at Saffron, however, they were not on purpose. True, she does well improvising, but if she could complete combos on purpose, she might have a better chance of actually winning a battle.
-You are still maintaining a good pace between action and reflection.
—The introduction of Alistair as someone to process with was brilliant and realistic. Well done.

Chapter Seventy-One: Keep Your Friends Close (4,455 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-Looker’s personality is a refreshing change of pace from most of the other characters

Story (Believability, Interest)
-I feel like this chapter could have been a lot shorter and avoided ANOTHER argument between Alaska and Sandy if Alaska had just said “hey, I need some time to clear my head and be alone, meet me at Cycling Road tomorrow at dusk.” Everything ends the same, but much shorter and no more teenage angst.
-Small point, technically Damian discovered the Beedrill robot (or Mitchell)

Small Details
-I hope you keep the good characters (like Looker) involved in the plot and they don’t disappear (like Hansom)
-IDWPDF (5)

Chapter Seventy-Two: The Short Walk (5,180 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-Sandy is growing. YAY. Alaska’s turn.
-Alaska handled a situation with poise and intelligence…finally. I am still a little bummed that Alaska and Sandy got interrupted again, but if it shows some growth from Alaska, I will take it.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Wow, amazing explanation of cars in Kanto. Solid historical work.

Small Details
-You are using your excellent descriptive abilities once again in this chapter. I don’t know why you don’t use them more often. You are good at painting pictures with words.
-An Electrode with limbs…nice.
-Your story has become a tad predictable. It was obvious that you would bring Darwin back at some point, it was just a matter of when and I like how you are semi-following the route from the games, but it makes it easy to see what is coming next.

Chapter Seventy-Three: A Test Too Far (4,628 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-That is the Alaska I have been waiting forever to see. The change was abrupt, but explainable and I hope it is permanent.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Twister is blue now? It was always purple before.

Small Details
-Great chapter. Best in a long time.
-IDWPDF (7)

Blog Thirteen: I Should Be So Lucky (1,347 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-A very different mood for Alaska and not a bad one. It is consistent with how she was acting in the last chapter and I hope it continues going forward.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Nothing to say

Small Details
-IDWPDF (7)


Interlude Thirteen: Doing it for Themselves (6,206 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-I love your depiction of Clair. I always kind of despised her.
-For some reason, you have altered Damian to Damien.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-The first two section of this Interlude were pretty pointless. The second only helped to explain the first and kind of ties into the Latios/Latias line. It barely adds any plot to the story and could have been skipped or possibly flashbacked when things become more relevant. It seemed like a waste of time.
—The Amanda/Chloe segment has a little use, but I feel like this should have gone elsewhere.

Small Details
-Double-check your spelling of Acevedo when you type it. I know you sometimes use Avocado as an insult, but I think it may get out-corrected to Avocado sometimes when you don’t intend.
-IDWPFD (4)
 
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Lone Scribe for the Lord of Time
Joined
Jun 10, 2018
Messages
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95
Chapter Seventy-Four: No Escape (4,197 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-Use a PokéBall or Pidgeotto on Shellder, Alaska likes to do everything the hardest way possible

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Your little note said don’t be frustrated with Alaska’s anger, which I am trying, but it is her inability to admit anyone may be better than her that bothers me the most. Everyone loses battles, she has to accept that. She is still a terrible (if amazingly lucky) trainer and, admittedly, doesn’t train enough. She should expect to lose occasionally.
-The Primeape situation is a bit unconventional, I am interested to see how it plays out

Small Details
-IDWPDF (5)

Chapter Seventy-Five: Need a Hit (6,118 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-no one could be that crazy and still be allowed to save the world, right?
—Alaska is that crazy and is being asked to save the world.
-You and I just have completely different ideas about all the pre-established characters. You made Janine a hero, in my stories, she is useless.
-A) Old Alaska is back…boo. B) She is a naughty child who can not be controlled.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Another amazingly written description (this time of Fuchsia and its fall).

Small Details
-I don’t understand Alaska’s swordsmith comment.
-I had some difficulty following the dialogue in this chapter.

Chapter Seventy-Six: Feel Me Now (4,986 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-The return of Alaska the Angry Moron, completely expected

Story (Believability, Interest)
-How does Alaska know about the Cynthia Code?
-Not everyone is a rage-fueled monster when confronted. Some people can actually control themselves. You should work on writing one of those characters.

Small Details
-Ditto Serum? First time mentioned and you brushed right over it. Something Gideon invented? How does it play in?
-Your dialogue is rough in this chapter too. You jump all over the place and it is difficult to figure out who is talking.

Chapter Seventy-Seven: Falling (5,499 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-A rich, gay prostitute being whored by his mother. Now that is what I call a complex (and different) character. Well done.
-Yet another epiphany for Alaska, the question remains as to whether it will change her. Hopes are still low.
-You are killing Sandy’s character.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-The story of Kalos is depressing and phenomenally told.

Small Details
-IDWPDF (4)

Chapter Seventy-Eight: Addicted to You (6,102 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-If you just gave Sandy an Umbreon, she will be my favorite character forever. If it isn’t Umbreon, you better explain very quickly how it is something else.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-From one standpoint, I hope Alaska’s Pokémon heart-to-heart works. From another standpoint, I am not sure how having Primeape punch her again will do any good. It’s touching, but it makes no sense to me.

Small Details
-“It was something Janine said earlier, about how I’m basically just a supporting part of all this. I hadn’t really considered it before, but I realised she has a point.
—Sandy is constantly complaining about being Alaska’s sidekick, she has clearly thought about how her role is only supportive.
-Good job tying the two halves of the chapter together
-IDWPDF (7)

Chapter Seventy-Nine: Poison Paradise (7,851 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-Bertram is an amazing character. Wise beyond his circumstances.
-Sylveon….man, at least it makes sense. :(
-Janine fits directly into the same mold as all the other gym leaders. Asshole. At least she, sort of, has a reason

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Excellent job tying in the attitude of Fuchsia you have been building up
-The birds of Kanto are not as big as planes. Moltres (the largest) is only 6 feet long
-I get the idea of Rock Slide bringing Paige down so Steamroller/Toxic Spikes would be effective, but you could have just pretended Scolipede learns Smack Down
-Why would you ever replace Ice Beam with Ice Punch?

Small Details
-Your chapters are unnecessarily lengthy again
-The gym battles are becoming predictable. The gym leader has a perfect strategy, Alaska thinks she has it beat anyway. She is wrong and fails horribly, yet somehow wins the battle for no reason. I am just waiting for the next Alaska luck-miracle in the next chapter.
-IDWPDF (2)

Chapter Eighty: Intoxicate (6,651 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-Why does Alaska never re-call her Pokémon? You have established that it is legal, yet she never does it.
-Despite her early rage, Alaska kept it together. Much needed character progress. Her innate rage at Leaf (and so many other people) should be her next step.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-The ridiculous amount of damage Alaska’s Pokémon take in battle indicates they are far stronger than they truly are.
-Frustration was a stroke of pure genius.

Small Details
-IDWPDF (4)
-Nice transition back to Alaska’s view.
-Interesting use of Toxic Spikes. It is always interesting to see how status/boosting moves get used in stories

Blog Fourteen: Taking Over Me (1,137 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-This Alaska looks like she may be here to stay

Story (Believability, Interest)
-I like the reflective blogs more. Expressing herself and broadcasting less of the events going on around her is a better way to keep people from following her accounts of everything while maintaining the blog.

Small Details
-IDWPDF (5)

Interlude Fourteen: Champions in Their Field (5,943 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-I have never given much thought to Alder, but I think you hit Cynthia pretty well

Story (Believability, Interest)
-The more I learn of your other characters, the more I am confused about Alaska. Every one of the characters that was involved in one of your other wars has been irreparably damaged or altered in some way, yet it took Alaska eighteen (I may be exaggerating) epiphanies to even start down the road

Small Details
-The champion portion, while entertaining, was pointless
-I miss the Buzz and Gideon interludes. They were quick and to the point. Gideon has almost disappeared from the story, which is sad since he is the better villain. I know it makes him more mysterious, but the plot hasn’t really gone anywhere in a while.
-IDWPDF (3)
 
Last edited:
Lone Scribe for the Lord of Time
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Jun 10, 2018
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Chapter Eighty-One: A Dream of Wars Gone By (4,825 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-Your depiction of Latios is very believable
-The fact that Alaska can not even control herself at times in her own head while speaking to the one being she should be able to trust fully hints at bad things in the future for her personality

Story (Believability, Interest)
-With the addition of Dream World and the mention of Distortion World, you continue to build on a very large, interesting, and believable world
-'Hello there, we need to take your daughter with us. We believe she might have to save the world in a few years' time and we'd like to prepare for that'.
—I have wondered that a few times myself

Small Details
-This chapter was…interesting
-IDWPDF (6)

Chapter Eighty-Two: The Rules of Someone Else’s Game (4,648 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-I am excited to meet Blaine
-I don’t think Janine’s personality would lend to her just casually telling Alaska that she had lost to both Damian and Lachlan
-Did Janine love Blue?
-Alaska’s wit came through a little more in this chapter. It has been missing recently
-The reflective chapters finally look like they are having a positive effect on all the characters

Story (Believability, Interest)
-The “I am trying to protect you/them” crap is getting old
-If Red, the most powerful trainer in Kanto, was the first to beat Blaine in three years, how have three people defeated him in the past two years?

Small Details
-Please let Alaska run around with a sword strapped to her back for the rest of the story
-IDWPDF (7)

Chapter Eighty-Three: Look At Me (3,697 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-There is really no reason for Sandy and Alaska to be friends. It seems a little forced at times. This chapter kind of reveals that.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Butterfeee folding clothes…nice.

Small Details
-I am glad Sandy got Goomy since it was kind of foreshadowed. The potential of Sandy’s team is officially better than Alaska’s
-IDWPDF (4)

Chapter Eighty-Four: The World Keeps Spinning (3,253 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-It is entertaining that now Sandy has no interest in being friends, while Alaska is finally putting some effort into having one.
-Theoretically, Sandy and Alaska have the same level of schooling. Why is Sandy 1000 times smarter than Alaska?

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Please, no aliens. Time-travel, cool. Aliens, no thank you.

Small Details
-Is it odd that I want Chloe to attempt to murder Alaska?
-IDWPDF (7)

Chapter Eighty-Five: A Million Things I Haven’t Done (5,547 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-Wow, Damian is thick
-Teenage angst on full-blast. Boo hoo, get over yourself. You are 13, you don’t know anything yet.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Aww, I was kind of interested to see where the show was going
—Nice quip about the pink shoes too.

Small Details
-I don’t understand a lot of your references. What does soggy sandwiches sound like?

Chapter Eighty-Six: One with the Wind and Sky (5,886 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-For as many times as they have escaped death, Alaska should always have some random thought of escape
-If you have have future stories with Alaska, she better have severe PTSD

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Parasect was a horribly choice. She is weak to all of Chloe’s Pokémon and the one Pokémon (Arbok) that we know Amanda has. In addition, she is immensely slow and will never catch up.
-I have trouble believing that Lachlan and Damian have six badges a piece since their starters still haven’t fully evolved

Small Details
-What was the monster that appeared?
-So, where we Suicune and Zapdos? Or Articuno? Or Blaine? And all Latios could do was drop an icicle? That could have gone much different/better.
-IDWPDF (2)

Chapter Eighty-Seven: She Had It Coming (4,484 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-Is Alaska wishing now that she hadn’t been told about the prophecy? For her own protection? Bwahaha, irony.
-Blaine pretty much knows everything about Alaska in 10 seconds.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Damian is not blaming the wrong person. The situation is about 75% Alaska’s fault
-If Ponyta is Blaine’s, she would have been trained well enough not to attack Alaska

Small Details
-Robotic Sunflora killing Red was a fun image
-“Who do you think you're calling pathetic, mate?"
—Blaine didn’t call her pathetic
-And now we have a Shiny, well done.
-IDWPDF (3)

Chapter Eighty-Eight: Walk to the Fire (7,216 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-Is Alaska becoming aware that she is a problem? That is refreshing.
-What I am seeing is that Alaska hasn’t actually changed, she is just keeping her mouth shut better.
-Can one of your characters not swear please?
-Hestia is brilliant
-Glass eyes behind the trademark sunglasses…amazing

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Alaska really takes a talking Pokémon in stride. Is that common?

Small Details
-Great chapter, I have always loved Blaine. Love him more now.
-IDWPDF (6)

Chapter Eighty-Nine: Nobody Will Oppose (6,581 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-Sandy has grown (or changed) far more than Alaska, but in the wrong direction
—Sandy just killed Amanda, Chloe, and probably some crew members and the pilot. Add that to the dude in Silph and her kill count is at 3-7 people. No.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Sandy could barely reach her bag in the cabin with her feet, but had enough slack to run outside and kick Amanda?
-A doubt a sofa with two teenagers and three Pokémon on it would float

Small Details
-Ahh Barbacle. Curse Alaska’s (and my) ignorance.
-IDWPDF (3)

Blog Fifteen: When I Grow Up (1,647 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-I have said it once, I will repeat it. Kanto has the best WIFI in the universe.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-It wasn't until this week that I actually had a gun shoved in my face
—Umm, no. Gideon had a gun at Pewter and Lavender. Machine guns at Celadon and Saffron. I am probably missing some, but this is a bad lie.
-What mutant Pokémon?

Small Details
-IDWPDF (3)

Interlude Fifteen: Face to the Dawn (7,776 Words)

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-Does anyone like anyone else in your world? All I ever read is animosity topped with animosity.
-Is Kris supposed to be a foreshadow of what Alaska will look like one day? An angry, undeserving Champion?
-I am glad I don’t live in that universe, with all the petty, angry, mentally-weak jerks

Story (Believability, Interest)
-How is Meganium not dead?
-I suppose that is the level of insanity a man needs to be successful. Maybe Buzz finally figured it out.

Small Details
-I supposed you semi-tied the last couple of Interludes into this one, but I still feel like the Champion stuff was pointless.
-IDWPDF (4)
 
Last edited:
Lone Scribe for the Lord of Time
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MERRY CHRISTMAS. I finished up the story today and this is he final posting. It should count for the Review Game as well as Secret Santa, so thank you. I also included a little Christmas gift for your (check the Spoiler tag). My rendition of Gideon's Porygon. Let me know what you think

upload_2018-12-25_20-5-24.png

Chapter Ninety: How Far We’ll Go


Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-Blaine worked with Gideon and Giovanni?
-Damian has been in the war for two minutes and is already performing better than Alaska
-And the old Alaska is back, greeeeeeat.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-I would hate to be one of Alaska’s Pokémon

Small Details
-Missingno and Rare Candy, nice adds.
-IDWPDF (3)

Chapter Ninety-One: Another Day

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-I repeat, do NOT turn Sandy into Alaska
-Lachlan likes Sandy and is jealous of Damian. I get that.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-You keep using Compound Eyes, but it would be interesting to see some other Abilities with field capabilities
-Why is everyone’s reaction to wild Pokémon, RUN? They have Pokémon. Battle, please.

Small Details
-Your chapters start off well, but they are becoming rather predictable
-All trainers are stupid (Weepinbel and Wartortle could have wrecked Donphan) and all Pokémon are made of glass. That is what I keep reading.
-IDWPDF (2)

Erotic Dream Sequence One: Dawn of Edgyness

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-“Oh fuck you, you two dimensional, underdeveloped fuck,” Alaska hissed. “God, I just fucking hate you. You are about as useful as a flaccid dildo. Your personality has all the excitement of buttered toast. I’ve met disused pillow cases with more foresight and knowledge than you. Quite frankly, I hope you die choking on your own cum, and when you do, I am going to rip your skin off and use it as a shawl.”
—This is pretty much how I feel about Alaska, except I have never used such “colorful” language to describe anyone
-Also, is she bi-polar?

Story (Believability, Interest)
-I know Sandy and Alaska have been through a lot, but survival is the single strongest instinct that humanity has. Two children would not start wishing for death so quickly.

Small Details
-Suggestion I have based on Damian’s comment: Make Kalos into Atlantis.
-Never, ever, do that again. And put a warning at the top so people can skip it.

Chapter Ninety-Two: Feel the Burn

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-Alaska’s over-the-top insanity aside, you do a good job depicting teenagers. This chapter reminded me why I teach little kids and not upper primary.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Still amazed by your descriptive abilities
-Alaska grabbed a mane of fire?
-They flew past One Island to check Seven Island? Why?
-It is freezing in the cave on the island, but it is scorching outside?

Small Details
-Even without the Erotic Dream Sequence, your sexual content is getting out of hand. It is unneeded and takes away from the story.

Chapter Ninety-Three: Sandy’s Choice

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-Ira is a great character for the situation. Too bad he can’t stick around.
-Sandy is picking up on Lachlan’s verbal clues, but can’t tell he likes her. Cute.
-Damian and I share some thoughts about Latios’ abilities

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Healing machines are bad, but Potions are fine? Both are man-made.
-Where does Ira get take-away in the middle of Six Island?

Small Details
-You are dragging this out way too much. The plot is going nowhere fast and a lot of the recent chapter just seem like pointless filler. Your early arcs (though a little over-packed with action) were at a good pace. You had less chapters, less words, but more content. Now I just slogging through every chapter/arc waiting for something/anything to happen.
-IDWPDF (1)

Interlude Sixteen: Classless

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-Refreshing to see that her siblings are exactly like Alaska
-Is it within Emily’s right to call someone else a whore when you established she enjoys sleeping around herself? Sounds a bit hypocritical. Alaska, really.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Another sex scene? Seriously dude, lay off.
—Seriously, if I have to read another one, I will quit reading
-I know your story is MATURE and I can deal with the swearing (though most of it it pointless) and the innuendos, but you are starting to push it too far. Your “joke” and this interlude were practically porn.
-You could have started the chapter at running practice or in class and it would have been 1000 times better

Small Details
-Another excellent description. Are you a runner?
-IDWPDF (-5)

Chapter Ninety-Four: No Education

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-Wow, Damian may be the sanest, most aware character you have written
-Alaska’s character is all over the place, but I am glad that she was able to keep calm in the face of danger this time
-Alaska started swearing long before she started blowing stuff up

Story (Believability, Interest)
-How did Emily come by a Chespin in her youth to now have a Chesnaught? And Ed’s Feraligatr?
-All of the sudden Alaska is an amazing battler?
-I suppose Buzz is super confident in his robots, but attacking a school where a good number of the students are probably competent battlers doesn’t seem like a wise choice.

Small Details
-IDWPDF (4)

Chapter Ninety-Five: No Dark Sarcasm

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-The switch to Damian’s view was a tad unexpected and a little confusing.
-Another teenager prepared to die? Not happening.

Story (Believability, Interest)
-Fearow carried two people? One full-grown? I find that unlikely.
-I know I have been a proponent of less action, but you need some action. Everything is reflective, story-telling, and character building. You need to spread these things out, concentrate them early on if anything, not stick them in the middle of battles

Small Details
-Aww another elaborate scheme to kill someone when you should just shoot them. Poor movie villain syndrome.

Chapter Ninety-Six: No Thought Control

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-Alaska can’t take a hint that since her Pokémon dislike her, she is really a bad person?
—It is interesting that we know practically everything about Alaska’s life since she turned 5.
-Scar punched Ponyta? I guess I can see that, but does he have Pokémon?
—I, however, can not believe that he is able to fend off Chesnaught. If he was experienced enough to evolve, he can defeat Scar

Story (Believability, Interest)
-How is Alaska walking? She was struggling a couple chapters ago and she keeps re-injuring it.
-Where exactly was Latios that he took so long to arrive?

Small Details
-Does Leaf have long hair? I have been thinking that carving could be her for a while now.
-Your chapters are just too long now. They are being stretched out by the multiple viewpoints, they are wordy, and just too much. I was having trouble following everything too.
-IDWPDF (3)

Chapter Ninety-Seven: No Arms Around Me

Setting (World, Characters, Ect)
-YOU KILLED BUTTERFREE???? She was my favorite character.
-If Sandy is not deeply effected by this….

Story (Believability, Interest)
-This was actually a very solid chapters in pretty much every way. The character reactions were believable, the story was straightforward, ect. I don’t really have too much to say at all.

Small Details
-Nice reversal on the normal knife to a gun fight trope.
-IDWPDF (1)

OVERALL

-TECHNICAL SKILLS-You need some work. I am sure you saw plenty of the corrections I made through the old PDFs. Some of the mistakes you make are repetitive and can easily be fixed, others are just random and easy to make. Most of the mistakes can be fixed with a little extra proofreading. This is the single area you have improved in the most, keep it up.
—Pace is a big issue, but one I can not give you too much advise on. It is extremely difficult to find a good pace. Early on you were throwing waaaay too much action and mystery at us without breaks, but near the middle everything leveled out well and we got a good mix of action, plot, and character building. Late, though, the chapters got longer and more difficult to follow and you lost that pace.

-CHARACTERS-Your characters are good. Obviously you have gotten a lot of complaints about Alaska (from me as well), but she is a good character. She drives the story along, she makes the story interesting, and she is the character that the story needs. The problem with Alaska is that people hate her (this isn’t a character problem, she is just disagreeable). You do an excellent job developing characters in the short span (even with ones barely in the story), but the long-term growth of characters could use some work. My biggest complaint about the characters is the lack of variety. With few exceptions (Sandy at the beginning, Bertram, Hansom, a few others), all of your characters are hard-headed, potty-mouthed, rage monsters. In your own defense, if I lived in such a terrible world, I would probably be pretty screwed up too.

-STORY-The story is great and will keep people coming back. Kanto is a nostalgic place and you put some good twists to it. You have a rich history to the story and you go back to it regularly, but not too much. Your descriptions (as I have said many times) are phenomenal. Occasionally, you will exposition a little, but you place them well in the story so the reader doesn’t get lost. Pacing, again, but that is an extremely difficult skill.

-OTHER-Consistency-Try to be consistent when telling the story. Most of it is just little details that might get overlooked by a casual reader (saying a Pokémon appeared in blue light when it was previously established that they were in a PokéBall), but if you make mistakes when mentioned past events inconsistently, it can confuse the reader
-Believability-It is your story, your world, and your ideas, but try and keep things semi in the world of realism. Scar sparring with Chesnaught, Fearow carrying two people. Little things, but they can be distracting.
-Content-It is a MATURE flick, I get it, but certain content should still be avoided. The guns grew on me (though still not a big fan), the language (though excessive) was realistic-ish, but the sex was uncalled for. Innuendoes are one thing, calling a thirteen year old a whore becomes a little edgy, suggesting that Chloe has been sexually active for a long time begins to push boundaries, the sex scenes are wrong. I understand that one of them was an “April Fool’s Joke,” but the dual sex scenes with Edward and Emily gave nothing to the story and I almost stopped reading immediately and didn’t finish (other people may back me up on this).

-OVERALL-Good writing man, you are good at it. After reading this, I want to dive back into my own writing, but when I have a chance, I may look into some of your other fics. The story has unfolded over a long period of time and improvement has been seen. Good Luck going forward.
 

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The acest of trainers
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Thanks for the reviews and all the effort, @Patrick Haines. You've written a lot that I couldn't possibly get all the way through and respond to, but I'll post summary comments:

Assholes: I will be toning down some of the earlier supporting characters to be more palatable and less stand-offish. It was kind of unintentional at first when it came to Brock and Misty, so as I rewrite they in particular will be reduced. I'll probably use the interludes to balance out some of the other characters to frame things from their perspective more rather than just Alaska's. However, a large part of her reaction does stem from her unwillingness to be forced into this situation going back to issues with her family and Viridian. That doesn't come through as much in those murkier middle arcs, so things will be edited heavily around there.

Interludes/Pacing: Lobbing these two together. Fair points about pacing in recent chapters, and indeed the action overload in the original arcs - that will be edited out heavily. Mt Moon/Cerulean, in particular, will be much calmer and more character focused entries. Recent arcs are less action-focused intentionally to focus on the characters, which is why I am largely happy with the pacing. It is setting things up for the end and showcasing the character's personalities, thoughts and emotions more than putting them through a lot. There is a lot of talking, yes, and a lot of arguing (sorry about that), but these things all add different perspectives and different discussions focused on the characters themselves rather than trying to solve certain mysteries. Things admittedly have altered as the story developed, so certain chapters like Alaska and Sandy's argument at the Celadon Mansion feel more unnecessary now. Individual scenes and chapters will probably be axed or refocused, but from a bigger picture perspective, the arcs as they add different things and I think progress the story a lot.

The same applies to the Interludes. They aren't really meant to be huge, plot-moving chapters. They are asides that expand the world in a similar vein, in my mind at least, to the 'Somewhere in America' chapters from American Gods. Several people feel Kris' elements are unnecessary, but I'm not going to waste my time writing stuff that doesn't add something to the story. There's not really any point to doing that. This story is following a plan that was developed initially back in 2010 and has been growing and morphing since then, and if something's in there, it has a purpose, whether it is a small insight that sparks something else (ie Cynthia's cameo), or a plot that comes into play later (Kris).

Sex Scene/Maturity: There won't be any other sex scenes in the story. The 'Edgy' scene was written with a very specific audience in mind, and after I post this I am going to spoiler it as it isn't canon in any way shape or form. The sex scenes in the Interlude 16 do serve a role, as, again, I wouldn't have written them otherwise, so I won't be cutting them, but I appreciate the feedback and will note for other works. Swearing/guns, I'm not really going to apologise for as they are fairly entrenched parts of popular culture and are allowable under the forum's rules. In saying that, I have toned some of the swearing down without really intending to in the Arc 2 rewrites, so maybe when I get around to the middle chapters things will be less explicit. I'd like to think my vocabulary has grown over the last seven years, but we'll see :p

Descriptions: Glad you liked them!

Sandy: Do you mind expanding your thoughts on her? I feel it would be unrealistic for someone in her position to remain optimistic and hopeful after everything she has been through, but if you have something to add I was keen to see what you meant there.

Realism: Debatable, this one. The conflict with fan fiction is everyone has their own ideas and interpretations, and unless things are explicitly spelt out they can be misinterpreted, or even slammed for altering the canon. You mentioned in one arc review that Pokemon can't die in battles; well, they can in this world. Moltres and the other birds are also much taller than they are in the games, as are various others (I mean, I'm taller than a video game Charizard, and that's just a little fucked in my view XD). I think the best way to read this story, and indeed any other, is in the context of what you have been given. Some of your points were fair and welcome - the Dragon/Fairy immunity point you raised is one I have missed and will keep an eye out for when editing - but if a Pokemon is described as being big enough to carry two people, then they would be able to. I mean, Pidgeot is only 1.5 metres in the games, which would make it a fairly unproductive Pokemon to carry huge portions of the population.

Porygon: Very nice, and incredibly close to the mark as well!

Thanks again for the feedback, especially the PDFs. I will be putting them to good use in the coming weeks while I am off from work. Good luck with your own writing, I will have to return the favour at some point!
 
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@AceTrainer14
SANDY: Ok, I understand your point of how she would have changed after everything she went through, I guess my view of it was that she was trying to imitate Alaska. She started swearing more, trying to blow stuff up, caring less, I was concerned. Her bravery, as seen when she is with Lachlan, def fits that role.

REALISM: I agree with you as well. Where does fantasy meet realism? In the games, somehow a Pidgey can carrying you around, that totally makes sense. The one thing that confused me though (especially since you mentioned Pidgeot) is that Pidgeot couldn't carry two teenagers (Damian, Alaska), but Fearow, who is smaller, carried Amanda and Chloe.
 
Blog Sixteen: Wish You Weren't Here
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Blog Sixteen: Wish You Weren't Here

Greetings,

I come to you this week from a small island in the middle of Sevii. That's right, I've come back after all these years, and it's exactly how I remember: sparkling blue oceans, beautiful sandy beaches, thick black smoke spewing out from the ruins of a school. Just like you see in the movies!

I kid, of course, loyal readers. Yes, if you saw the news yesterday and thought 'Gee, I wonder if Alaska's involved in that?', well, ding-ding-ding, you're a winner! You can take the girl out of Viridian, but you can't take the unintended widespread property damage out of the girl, can you?

I really shouldn't be joking about all this. It hasn't exactly been an easy few days. But that's what humour is for, right? Taking our mind off of things, lightening the mood. Everyone needs to joke, even those who have found themselves thrust into the middle of a war!

The biggest joke in all this is that I've finally ended up back at the Arcethian Academy. Here's a little glimpse at a pre-war Alaska, but for years, I longed to go to that school. For the few minutes I actually spent there before the destruction started, I imagined for the first time in a while what my life would have been like here. It was one my dream, even more than doing the league challenge. This was always my second choice (or so I thought – you know, the giant rock, remember that?)

I know very few of you have ever seen me in person, but can you imagine me as a school student? Sleeping in dorm rooms, eating in some giant hall, wandering through dusty old halls to go to classes. Before you say it, I wasn't a pyromaniac city-leveller before I started this journey, so no, I would not have set the school on fire, thank you very much. I mean, I kind of have now, but, different circumstances, eh?

It's hard to picture, but for a few years, that's what I always wanted. Looking back, I'm not really sure why. My detractors might say it was because they got a Totodile and Chespin as part of their scholarship, and that may have influenced things later, but my desire came before all that. Even before we visited the school, I remember seeing the pamphlets my parents had been sent and instantly falling in love with the notion of this school.

It looked like something out of a fairy tale. Before the fireworks yesterday, it still did. The crimson bricks, the wide fields, the beach and the stadium and the ancient library. I had been through that school a thousand times in my storybooks, and here it was, a real place I could actually visit and walk through and escape to.

Escape. That's probably the keyword here. You see, it was on that trip that the earthquake happened. There we were, trotting carefree off to Sevii, excited for everything we'd discover, assuming everything would stay exactly the way it was while we were away. You wouldn't think any differently, would you? Why would you? Naturally occurring disasters are rare in Kanto. They're just as fantastical as the schools I read about. Well, they were.

Coming home and finding my city, my house, my bedroom, everything in ruins like that, no wonder I wanted to run away. But it was my siblings who got to run (literally – why didn't I get the excellent athleticism genetics?). They only had to suffer through the clean-up for a few weeks before term started. I can still remember seeing them off and how angry and hurt and betrayed I felt that they got to go to that magical school and I had to stay behind in a bedroom that had nearly split in two. I'd be lying if I said I don't still think about that.

But, I suppose it was never meant to be. My destiny was decided long before I set foot on the school grounds, and I guess the same can be said for the twins as well. We were on the same path for the first eight years of my life, and then we split off – them going one way, me another.

Fast forward five years and here we are on the same path again. I mean, I couldn't leave them behind at the school, not after it burnt down like that. Can't let them suffer for my mistake, can I? Though joining this shitshow is probably more of a punishment, now that I think about it…

But even though they are only a few metres from me now, it still feels like we are miles apart. You can tell our journeys have been different. I've arguably been through more than them, but I feel as alienated by them as they do by me. For the last five years, I've only really thought of them as those same teenagers that abandoned me in that town. They've obviously changed in their own ways, but it's hard to put the two images next to each other and pretend they are the same thing.

I can't lie and say we all got along as kids; they were twins, a natural unit that I would never be able to penetrate. Trying to get over those childhood wounds is nearly impossible – my mum and her sister still fight about things that happened forty years ago. And my dad… well, the least said there the better.

Still, I wish it wasn't like this. This war is only going to get worse from here on out, that's the only thing I'm certain of right now. We need support from all those around us if we are going to get through. I shudder when I think of how I've alienated and ignored my family just so I prove, for whatever inane reason, that I can manage this on my own. Clearly, I can't, and I need them more than ever.

Maybe that's the role they have to play in all this. Supporting me, keeping me sane, I don't know. All I do these days is question people's fates. Everyone I meet, I wonder how this interaction is meant to shape us. I'd like to think my family is there to guide me, but that connection has been far darker later. Is being related to me going to get them killed? Is falling on me in a forest going to destroy their life?

To lose someone that close to you, and all the hurt and grief it can cause, that's a pain I can't possibly imagine, though I've come close. Yesterday, I thought my sister was going to die in that fire, and it made me sick to think it would all come back to me. Both twins have lived in bliss far from all of this, and I wish I could have kept them out of it.

But we're all here now, I've got my family with me again, and I hope I never have to see them hurt again. My family are the people I care about the most, and I've already have had to witness them suffer enough because of me. To them, I'm sorry. That word feels meaningless, especially after yesterday, but I am sorry, and I hope that one day you can forgive me.

To everyone else, don't worry about all this. I want you all to have a laugh. It may not seem like the time for it, but who knows what fate has in store for us. Find those you care about, have a laugh, and treasure those moments. Our roles in this means we're suffering so you don't have to. I don't care about me, but for everyone else, don't make their sacrifice worthless. Alright?

Alaska.
 
Interlude Seventeen: Bricked Up
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Well, this has been a while coming. I actually finished this months ago, but was so unhappy with the initial version I didn't think it was up to task of being shared here. In that time, I slowly wrote two other chapters while struggling through work and a litany of other issues. After finishing the most recent chapter, I cast a fresh eye over this and was surprised how quickly the necessary changes came to me. It may not be 100% perfect yet, but I am pleased to finally be posting something here again, and hopefully I won't be a stranger for as long again!

Interlude Seventeen: Bricked Up

"Do you need anything before I go, Miss Large?"

Lucinda Large jumped. For a moment she thought she was imagining things, conjuring up companionship in her giant, lonely office, but when she looked up she saw the shadowed figure of her assistant hovering in the distant doorway.

"Um, no thank you, Marie, that will be all." Lucinda coughed to try and cover up her shock, but she doubted Marie was convinced. Her assistant's blonde-bobbed head twitched in a nod, but she was too far away for Lucinda to read her expression. I'll be the company gossip by tomorrow – sad old Lucinda, holed up in her office all day, jumping every time a Combee farts.

Lucinda watched as Marie shut the door, the tiny click of the lock echoing in the hollow, empty office. It had been hours since Lucinda had looked up from the reports spread across her desk that she hadn't noticed it had got dark; shadows stretched across the room, swallowing what little furniture and decorations there were and leaving a murky void in their place.

She tried to ignore the growing gloom and focus back her work, but the interruption had thrown what little concentration Lucinda had left. The figures spun around as if caught in a whirlpool, nothing going in or standing out, and Lucinda had to admit defeat for another day.

She let her pen drop to the wooden surface, and Lucinda groaned as she leant back into her chair, arching her back and feeling the eight hours she'd spent stuck behind this desk. It would mean more work tomorrow, but that was a problem for her future self. Today, Lucinda was happy to simply spin around and gaze out at Jubilife City.

Her view at this time of day was the one thing Lucinda liked about working late. There was still a hint of sunlight in the sky, an amber glow smeared unevenly over the horizon, but the world was dark enough that the lights of Jubilife had come alive. The fountain a few streets away was already alight like a rainbow, while the Global Trading Station's rampageous display added a fluorescent flourish to the otherwise drab and steel city.

Yet it wasn't the buildings that really held her interest. Staring down at the crowds as they went about their evenings helped keep Lucinda humble. It was a little difficult given that all the office workers, hopeful trainers and struggling students were sixty-five storeys below, leaving them as indistinguishable as Poké Balls rolling through the streets. She had come far in the last three years, but Lucinda remembered what it was like to be an anonymous dot being stared at by those high above her. Part of her still wished she was down there. To be like them again. Happy, relaxed, carefree… oblivious…

Lucinda sighed into the glass. Her eyes drifted upwards, passing over the neighbouring skyscrapers and scanning the skyline for the sunset, but the first thing Lucinda spotted was her own hallowed eyes gazing gauntly back at her. Lucinda wasn't sure if it was the weight loss or the stress that had turned her lids the same darkly translucent colour of oil on a wet road, but they certainly hadn't looked this way three years ago.

Lucinda poked at them and grimaced. Were they this bad at the start of the year? Her recent restlessness wasn't new. She had endured sleepless nights for months after Mount Coronet, requiring a specific mix of drugs and therapy to help her drift through the nightmares.

For a while, Lucinda had thought she was past it. But now there was this drama in Kanto; Team Rocket returning from the grave, robots bursting through the ground, schools on fire, teenage girls having to fight them off. It had reached a point that Lucinda now avoided watching her own network, but the story seemed to be everywhere.

At least it's good for ratings, a voice awfully like her father's suggested, and Lucinda bit back the urge to scream.

"Oh dear, is the pressure finally getting to you?"

Lucinda shrieked. A second ago there had only been her face reflected back at her, but now there was the malevolent smirk of a teenage girl reflected over her shoulder.
Lucinda swivelled around to make sure she wasn't seeing things, and screamed again now that there was no denying it. If Charlotte was bothered by this reaction, she didn't look it, her smile remaining neutral and unfazed as if fixated that way – which, now that Lucinda considered it, was highly likely.

"What the fuck are you doing here?"

Charlotte gasped. "My, my, do you speak to all your visitors this way?"

"All my other visitors make a booking!" Lucinda snapped.

"Fair, but your father and I always had a rather lax open door policy," Charlotte said. She remained seated on the edge of the desk, shining golden as the sunset beamed through her translucent body, and she started to look around. "I must say, I liked what you've done with the place. It's very… you…"

Lucinda followed Charlotte's eyes around the sapphire walls and metallic grey carpet. "What? Dull and uninspired?"

Charlotte turned around with a glint in her eye. "Your words, darling, not mine."

"Hilarious. If you've come to insult me, I'm really not in the mood tonight. I've had a hard day, and –"

"Oh, poor you. Such a hard life, isn't it, making millions every few minutes. What a burden!" Charlotte raised a hand to her head and dramatically slumped forwards across the papers, her ghostly hair pooling into Lucinda's lap. "You're a true martyr, did you know that?"

"Alright, that's it, get out!"

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" Charlotte shot upwards onto her feet in one swift, unnatural movement. She raised her hands in surrender and slinked away from the desk. "I haven't come to be annoying, I swear. I could feel your anguish from Unova, and I thought you might need someone to talk to. Master knows your father needed it."

The hairs on the back of Lucinda's neck stood on end. She hardly knew Charlotte, they had only met a few times and that had been three years ago. Yet this strange dead girl, whatever she was, had known Lucinda's father better than anyone. He trusted her, right until the very end…

"What are you doing in Unova?" Lucinda mumbled after a lengthy pause.

"Preparing."

"Fuck me." Lucinda sank into her chair, wishing she could melt into the leather. "You mean it's not going to end in Kanto?"

Charlotte smiled as she shook her head, but the glint in her eye had long vanished. "It never ends, until the whole thing does. You know, your father always offered me a drink," she said suddenly.

"My father never offered you a drink, you helped yourself, and there's nothing stopping you now."

Charlotte shrugged. "If you insist," she said sniffily, and she wiggled her fingers. A glass of ochre liquid appeared in her grip, and Charlotte beamed over the rim as she downed it in one.
"Oooooh, yes, the '69. A personal favourite, for obvious reasons." Charlotte paused long enough to make sure Lucinda caught her wink. "I'm glad this one survived the implosion."

"It's a different bottle," Lucinda said blankly. "I bought it last year. As a tribute. To him."

Charlotte held her tongue here, which Lucinda appreciated. She did not want to dwell on the events that led to her father's death, something that was hard to ignore given that that chaotic night had also handed her this job and this vast, if hastily rebuilt, office. Lucinda often felt his spirit lingering as she sat in the same spot he'd occupied for some many decades. It was hard to ignore his shadow when his name was emblazoned on every pen, paper and paperclip that passed under her nose.

And now here was Charlotte. Lucinda could only imagine the things she could tell her about Arnold Adiem. It had taken nearly three decades of her life to learn why her father had been so cold and distant, and he was taken from her before she could really tap into the truth. Of the little Lucinda did know, Charlotte had been Arnold's co-conspirator, plotting and scheming together to try and protect the world.

If only he had actually succeeded. Lucinda supposed that Arnold had, for a few years, at least. They stopped Team Galactic and prevented the end of the universe, though that had gone right up to the wire. After witnessing first hand the toll that fight had taken, Lucinda had thought they were done. She only had to glance at the news to see how wrong that assumption was.

Charlotte spoke as if she could read her thoughts. "How long has Kanto been keeping you up at night?"

"Too long." Lucinda brushed the reports to one side and found the rundown she was given every night before the evening bulletins. The top story for the third day in a row was the mysterious robots that had burst through the streets of Saffron City. Lucinda had sat in this very chair two nights ago when she called Samson Silph to offer her thoughts, only to be told he had died. She had gone to sleep that night imagining his distorted, screaming face as he plummeted to the earth, Lucinda falling not far behind.

"It feels like all the hell we went through three years ago is starting up again," Lucinda said, talking to the paper rather than Charlotte. "These viruses always start in Kanto and bleed out to the rest of the world. Please tell me it's not going to be as bad as last time."

The question hung in the air for over a minute before Lucinda realised Charlotte hadn't answered. She put the sheet down and glanced up, and the sight filled her with dread; Charlotte sat hunched over on the edge of the desk, staring wistfully at the sunset as the glass sat limply in her hands.

"I can't. I have no idea." Charlotte clicked her fingers and the glass refilled, this time to the brim, and she took a long, slow gulp before carrying on. "For two thousand years I was convinced the world would end with Cyrus. That was as far as my visions took me, because that's where the continuum ended. It basically rebooted after Cyrus was defeated, but I wasn't granted anything beyond Mount Coronet."

"Nothing at all? You just said that Unova –"

"I lied." Charlotte finally looked back at Lucinda and laughed. "You should see your face right now, it's brilliant. So offended, like a little child."

"Why were you there, then?" Lucinda continued, ignoring the interruption.

Charlotte shrugged, a casual dismissal that betrayed her physical age. "I thought I might find some answers there. A path I haven't considered before. Anything to stop history from repeating itself, I suppose," she added with a hint of a smile.

It dawned on Lucinda then why Charlotte was here. This girl had lived through more pain and conflict than anyone else in mankind, the ultimate veteran of all there had ever been. If Lucinda's anguish could be heard from hundreds of thousands of miles away, she dreaded to imagine the cacophony Charlotte's emotions created.

"I hope you don't plan on drinking all of that."

Charlotte grinned and clicked her fingers. A heavy glass rammed into Lucinda's chest, slowly filling with the musky, cocoa-coloured liquid. "Cheers."

"Cheers," Lucinda parroted, and the two clinked their glasses. The noise echoed soft and sombre through the sparsity of the office, and it lingered as the two sat in silence, mulling their thoughts over their drinks.

As the minutes dragged on, Lucinda found herself unable to take her eyes off Charlotte. This was the first time she had seen her since inheriting the job, but Lucinda had often wondered how she'd react if she found herself in this situation. She had long hoped that inheriting her father's job didn't mean inheriting his ghosts as well, but now that Charlotte was here, Lucinda felt compelled to embrace the idiosyncrasy of the situation. Had her father treated these moments as a confessional or a therapy session, or were they moments to plot and scheme and influence the world? I don't want any of those options, but certainly not that. I don't… I can't…

Before Lucinda even realised what she was saying, she found words pouring out of her mouth, thoughts and ideas that had been part of her for months now, but only now, in Charlotte's lofty, all-knowing presence, did it feel right to articulate them.

"I've been struggling since I started this job, not because of anything to do with the business, but because of Dad. He took on this… job, whatever you call it, with you, and that was his entire life, more than any of this. I've been afraid ever since then that I'm going to have to go down that path, and it terrifies me because I have no idea what I can do to stop all of this."
Lucinda could hear her voice shaking, but she refused to stop. "I tried my best three years ago, and I barely got out of that fight alive. People I loved died trying to stop Cyrus. Trainers far stronger than me died. So many Pokémon… I mean, Red's team is meant to be the best in the world, and his Onix…"

Something cold passed through Lucinda's shoulder, and she shivered even though she knew it was Charlotte's hand. She eyed the faint, almost invisible fingers as they rested on her overpriced suit, and Lucinda felt compelled to place her own hand on top, to hold that freezing grip where it was and stop it from abandoning her.

"If it makes you feel better, there's nothing you can do," Charlotte whispered.

Lucinda sniggered despite herself. "That's supposed to make me feel better?"

"It should." Charlotte's hand phased through Lucinda's, and the girl drifted towards the window until her brow was touching the glass. "There is nothing you or I or any of those people down there can do. There is a select cast of players in this game, and it is up to those people to determine what happens next."

"That's… that's bullshit. What about my father, what about all he –"

"That was different," Charlotte snapped. Her harshness seemed to surprise her, as she paused for a moment to gather herself. "Arnold was supposed to be involved. His fate dictated it."

"Fate?" Lucinda scoffed. She had heard tales about prophecies and premonitions, but they had always struck her as fantasy. "Are you saying the universe is stopping me from stopping the world from ending?"

Charlotte's reflection turned scornful. "It's not as simplistic as that. All of us – me, you, your secretary, those people down there – we're going down our own little paths in life unaware what lies ahead or how long our journeys go on for. For most, their lives are uneventful in the grand scheme of humankind, but for a tiny minority, our actions and choices and experiences propel us towards something beyond an ordinary existence.

"Some walk into it blindly, but others get nudged one way or the other. That is what's happening in Kanto right now. It's what happened to your father. Arnold got a glimpse of his destiny, and he openly embraced the existence he'd one day have. He ensured his path could not be altered, no matter how much he tried to interfere."

Lucinda shut her eyes, trying to take it all in, and found herself back in this office three years prior, rewatching her father's final minutes. The storm. Vanessa. Allison. Was that all pre-determined?

"And so you're saying…" Lucinda started, trying to distract her memory. "You're saying that this... this acceptance of fate is happening in Kanto?"

"Precisely." Charlotte said it slowly, drawing the syllables out like a funeral march. "This fight has already chosen its warriors, and they have accepted that and will battle as they see fit. Everyone down there will simply carry on regardless, most entirely oblivious anything is even happening."

Lucinda wanted to say something but words failed her. She had too many questions to ask and every answer would be painful than the last. Her throat had gone dry, and she could feel her muscles tensing as if constricted by wires. She tried to block it all out, tried to push the dark thoughts away, but every time she shut her eyes, there was her father, dripping wet with blood smeared down his face, silently pleading for her help.

"No. No, no, no." Lucinda leapt up so quickly her chair tipped backwards and smacked against the glass. The vibration seemed to jolt Charlotte more than her shouting did, but she hardly even glanced at the upturned furniture before Lucinda was in her face. "I refuse to accept any of that."

"Accept or deny, it doesn't change the truth."

"Bullshit!" Lucinda hissed. "You can change things. You have all these powers, use them."

"I can't," Charlotte growled.

"Of course you can. Use your gifts. Teleport someone somewhere. Set them on fire. Show them the future. Do something!"

"STOP IT!" Charlotte waved her arm violently, and Lucinda grunted as she was psychically thrown back into her desk. She winced as the hard edges dug into her back, but if Charlotte noticed her pain, she didn't care.
"Don't you think I want to?" she snapped, sliding in such a way that the room would surely be shaking if she was on the ground. "All these years, I knew everything that was coming, but could I ever interfere? No. I saw every path, I saw where they all led, and I was meant to sit back and let it unfold. I knew the world was going to end, and I could do nothing more than point someone in the right direction, and even then that came back to haunt me. I can't change the future, Lucinda, and neither can you."

Charlotte turned and walked back towards the glass. Lucinda tensed, expecting her to shatter it in her rage, but Charlotte simply stepped through the window as if it was mist and carried on into the sky.

"That was before Coronet!" Lucinda shouted, no clue Charlotte could even hear her. "If the world could come back from what you witnessed, then that means fate is malleable." She ran up to the window and banged on the pane, watching as Charlotte faded into the final vapours of sunlight. "You said before you don't know what's going to happen. How do you know now isn't your time to do something!"

For a moment, Lucinda wasn't sure if Charlotte had stopped moving or simply vanished altogether; night was seeping into the world, and what could have been Charlotte's hair caught in the wind could just as easily as being a smear on the glass exposed by the darkness.

Then, just as Lucinda was giving up hope, Charlotte turned. It was hard to tell what her blank if wide-eyed expression meant, but it was impossible to miss the briefest of winks Charlotte threw Lucinda's way. And for a moment before she vanished for certain, Lucinda was sure she saw her smile.

Alone again. Lucinda could feel the emptiness of her office behind her more than ever. She knew she had to go home at some point, but she dreading turning to face the bleak, blank space after the last ten minutes, the same hollowness her father had dwelled in for far too long.

Instead, she peered down at the city. The streetlights had turned on, illuminating the last few office workers making their way home, mingled in with the carefree and innocent heading out for a night on the town. The fountain sparkled, the trading station shone, and everything seemed to be at peace.

It was beautiful and depressing all at once, but a few years ago, Lucinda never thought she would be able to see this scene again. No one had, but the city and the country had found a way to repair.

There's always a chance, Lucinda thought, and she moved towards her door, deciding that, for tonight at least, she was going to hope for the best.

***

The only light in the room came from the television. The bulky, outdated machine sat in the centre of the room, currently alight with the grainy images of a game show reaching its conclusion. As the crowd cheered for the lucky winner, a slight hum from behind the screen penetrated the crackly applause.

It was hardly an ideal vessel, but given Buzz's current situation, it was better than nothing.

His eyes had not moved off the screen for hours. He had left his SilPhone back in the ruins of his office, along with any other devices they could have used to track him. It was a necessary safety precaution, but it meant that Buzz was without access to the internet. He had been waiting for Scar to get in touch, but hours had ticked by since his last update and the radio silence was doing Buzz's head in.

The assault on the Arcethian Academy was his final play. If that had failed, Buzz had no idea what to do next. Amanda's betrayal had left him astray and exposed, his plans shattered and worthless. He may have an army, but Buzz had no method of implementing it, at least not in the way he had envisioned for so long. It would be easy to declare all-out war on Kanto, but then it would just as easy for the gym leaders and elites to take him down.

If Alaska was dead, though, Buzz still had options. He'd turned the television on sometime this morning and had refused to move, waiting for the news alert to announce what had happened. Infomercials bled into chat shows that gave way to soap operas and old sitcoms. Buzz had no idea how much time had passed; the curtains had been closed when he arrived, and the thick fabric succeeded in letting nothing in. It could be lunchtime or midnight or still pre-dawn for all Buzz knew. The television certainly wasn't giving him anything, and it was starting to get on his nerves.

The credits for the game show faded to black, and were almost immediately replaced with a dazzling flash of blue. In the darkened room, the glare was blinding; Buzz squinted and sank back into the couch, feeling the aged springs digging into his legs. The whole room seemed to glow, the normally white walls awash with an artificial navy, while the many photos lining the wall all shone, giving the impression of a dozen screens suddenly transplanted onto the walls.

Then, it started. A logo filled the screen – a chunky white '1' in the middle of a circle like a sniper's scope – for barely a second before the camera began to zoom in on two people sitting at an oversized desk. Buzz grinned at the pair as if they were old friends, and he sat forward, waiting for them to begin.

"Good evening," the male half of the pair began. "This is 1Kanto News. Our top story tonight – the reconstruction of Vermilion Port has faced further setbacks today, after an engineer's report exposed structural deficiencies that may see it shut for years. Mary Masters has this exclusive story."

"What the fuck?" Buzz leapt to his feet and ran to the television before he even knew what he was doing. He smashed his fist against the plastic casing, trying to knock some sense into this brainless bulletin. The port, their leading with the fucking port? What about the robots that fell from the sky, you fucking imbeciles? What about them!

"Remote. I need the remote." Buzz turned feverishly to the couch but it wasn't there. His breathing became more rapid and pitched as he lunged towards the sofa and flung the sagging cushions aside, upending the side table in the process. "Remote… WHERE'S THE REMOTE!"

"What on earth are you shouting about, Franklin?"

Buzz sat up straight. He had forgotten all about her. Easy, when she had likely forgotten about him. What had she been doing all day while he'd sat in front of the screen? "It's not Franklin, ma, it's… it's Basil."

"Oh, of course, silly me. Are you trying to watch your cartoons?"

Buzz turned as the creaking floorboards announced her arrival. Under the harsh glow of the television, his mother looked more gaunt and ghostly than ever. The lines of her crevassed face were exposed in the shadows, and those vacant eyes were lit up like one of his robots. She was wearing the same nightgown she'd had on when Buzz had arrived yesterday, and the smell that followed her into the room suggested she'd had it on for some time.

"No, ma, I'm just trying to find a different channel to watch the news on."


"The news? Why are you watching that for?" She chuckled to herself and shook her head exasperatedly. "Got a report due tomorrow, is that's what's up?"
Buzz struggled not to scream. "Sure, ma, whatever you say."

"Well, stop watching your cartoons and get working then!" she snapped with sudden severity. "Always watching that bloody box. I should turn it off and take away the remote, that's what I should do. Should have done it ages ago. You hearing me, Franklin?"

"Franklin died, ma. It's Basil, your second son. Remember?" Buzz fired back bitterly. He stood to full height and loomed over his mother, or at least this shrunken, shrivelled version of her that reeked of piss and shit. "Remember how your golden child ran off to fight in the war, only to get himself killed? Remember that, ma, or are you too far down the fucking rabbit hole to remember your own name?"

There was a second where Buzz had no idea how she would react. She wore the same stern expression she had assumed a minute earlier, but that said nothing for her state of mind; there was fire in her eyes, but what was going on behind there, not even Arceus would know.

"Basil, do you want some breakfast? I'm in the mood for eggs." She blinked and turned back to the television. "This isn't your usual cartoon, is it?"

Buzz could imagine cracking her head open and spilling her worthless, malfunctioning brain over the carpet, putting her out of her misery. Yet it was a misery she deserved, and soon she wouldn't be his problem any longer. "Eggs would be wonderful, ma," Buzz said as he turned away and sank back onto the couch.

"Wonderful, wonderful," his mother murmured, and she shuffled awkwardly back to the kitchen.

Buzz held his breath as she passed, not wanting to breathe in any of the fumes oozing out from her. He hated being back here, but it was his only choice. He and Amanda had arranged a safe house long before this had all started, but with her having gone rogue, Buzz couldn't risk going there. Someone had once told him family was all you could depend on when all else failed, and it pained him how true that had turned out.

How long he would be trapped here, Buzz had no idea. The bulletin was on to their fourth story now, and there had been no mention of the Arcethian Academy yet. Something had clearly gone wrong, Buzz couldn't bear to imagine what, and now his plans were dashed. His public identity was blown, his ally had betrayed him, his work had been exposed, and his groin still hurt when he moved. The weight of his failure was suffocating, and Buzz wished the couch would swallow him whole and end this misery.

"Meanwhile, in the Sevii Islands, authorities are still investigating the cause of the fire that has ravaged the Arcethian Academy."

Buzz sat up. The female newsreader was talking now, though her face was only in the frame for a few seconds before the image changed to a burnt-out classroom. Her voice carried on over the top as the camera panned to show blackened walls pockmarked with gaping holes. "No students were injured in the blaze, which broke out yesterday afternoon during lunchtime, but large parts of the historic building and the school grounds were damaged in the fire. Investigators believe a gas leak in a science room started the inferno."

The image cut back to the newsroom, this time focusing on both newsreaders. The pair were grinning like identical twins, while a close up of an immature Growlithe filled the screen behind them. "That wasn't the only fire emergency that rescue services had to deal with yesterday. In Lavender Town, one scampy young Growlithe had to be saved after climbing to the top of the Radio Tower. Ollie O'Brien has more."

"No, go back." Buzz stood up again, even though his body was shaking uncontrollably. "Go back, you didn't finish the other story. It wasn't a gas leak, it was me, ME! GO BACK, GO BACK YOU BASTARDS!"

"Basil, what are you shouting about?"

"THEY DIDN'T CREDIT ME!" Buzz screamed, his eyes locked on the television. "THOSE BASTARDS ARE TRYING TO PRETEND IT WASN'T ME. I DESTROYED THAT SCHOOL AND THEY DON'T WANT ANYONE TO KNOW IT!"

"Calm down, Basil," his mother said thunderously. "There is no need for you to shout about some nonsense at school."

Buzz screamed through clenched teeth. "This isn't about school, you moronic bint, this is about them trying to take away credit that belongs to ME! I spent years on this, and these fucking arseholes do not even have the decency to admit who tried to destroy them! The bastards are trying to rewrite history!"

He didn't see the hand coming. It had been years since his mother had last slapped him, but the feeling as Buzz stumbled over was all too familiar. That powerful crack had only strengthened since she'd lost all the weight, her palm now like jagged glass, and Buzz could taste a metallic tinge in his mouth.

"Such a tongue!" his mother snarled. "I didn't raise you to use language like that, and I didn't raise you to just whine and moan whenever something doesn't go your way! If you're being bullied, fight back for goodness sake! Honestly, you are lucky your father isn't here to see you whimpering on the floor, or he'd snap some sense into you."

"That's because he's FUCKING DEAD!"

"Don't talk such utter nonsense." His mother stepped forward as though about to say something else, but a high pitched shriek from the kitchen interrupted her. "That's the smoke detector – have you been cooking, Franklin? I told you not to make anything unsupervised!"

Buzz screamed into the empty room as his mother hobbled away to tend to whatever she'd burnt in the kitchen. He turned to the screen, eyes blinded by whatever garish commercial was currently playing, and longed to put his fist through the screen.

Instead, Buzz slumped back on the couch, rubbing his rapidly swelling jaw. His mother was right about one thing; if his father had been the one swinging his arms around, Buzz would be tending to more than just a bruise tomorrow. How the fuck have I ended up back here?

He could imagine his father towering over him as he often had, thick, square head red with rage, veins popping out in places where you didn't know veins existed. Of course they destroyed your little toys, Frank Bolton Sr. would be roaring. What are you going to do about it? Nothing! You're just a pathetic little shit, letting the whole world walk right over you, aren't you? Answer me! AREN'T YOU!

"NO!" Buzz winced as his jaw pinged, but he clung onto the pain. He had endured enough of it over the years he should have built up a thicker skin than this. His whole life had been nothing but setbacks, always coming in last place and never being able to move up the ranks.

Yet where were they all now? His father and brother were dead, his mother had lost her mind, even Giovanni hadn't been able to defeat Red. Buzz was still alive, he still had a fighting chance, and he wasn't going to give up yet.

You've spent years planning this. You've spent months making sure we got as far as today. Are you really going to throw it away in just a few minutes?

"No, you old bastard, no I'm not." Buzz smiled to himself, and for a few moments managed to laugh. "There's no place like home, is there, ma?"

"What are you going on about now?"

"Nothing! Absolutely nothing." Buzz chuckled as he collapsed back onto the couch. He might as well have some eggs while he was here. For when tomorrow comes around, he's going to need all the energy he can muster.
 
Chapter One Hundred and One: The Morning After
The acest of trainers
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Chapter Ninety Eight: The Morning After

Alaska woke to the sound of screaming.

She sat up with such speed her head slammed against the bed above. Her barely-awake vision blurred from the jolt, but Alaska winced and persevered. Someone on the boat was clearly in more pain than she was, she didn't have time to feel sorry for herself. She hobbled to her feet as fast as her aching body could manage, and Alaska stumbled towards the door, trying to work out where the shout was coming for.

It was only as her she clutched at the door-knob that Alaska hesitated. There was something odd about the scream; how close it felt, how unbroken the sound seemed to be. The sound was constant, unwavering. No person or Pokémon could hold a note for this.

The longer Alaska stood there, thinking, listening, the clearer it became. It was not one voice screaming out for help; there were at least a dozen, maybe more, all fighting one another to be heard without even realising it, yet all just as loud and unwelcome as the next.

Alaska slumped against the door. Her adrenaline had faded and fatigue swallowed her whole. It was not simply the voices in her head that had hit her; every ache, cut and graze she'd gathered yesterday had decided to make themselves heard. Worst of all was her leg, stiff and uncomfortable in the thick, boot-like brace they'd put her in. It looked like she was wearing a tiny coffin on one foot, and Alaska wished it was bigger.

Whatever painkillers they'd loaded her with last night were as distant of a memory as the sleep itself. Alaska's body felt stiff yet electric with pain, small sparks fizzing away beneath enough stitches and bandages to make her resemble a patchwork quilt.

Yet Alaska relished their presence. She honed in on each wound, trying to remember how she had earned it, running the scene over in her head. Anything to push the voices away, to let her slip away back into her empty dreams where at least it was simply her own misery, anxiety, guilt and anguish she had to endure.

Sleep was all Alaska desired, but she knew she'd never pass out with these uninvited guests inside her head. They'd have to have more of those pills, surely, she thought, and finally finished turning the knob, mind now wandering as it tried to remember where the infirmary was.

Yet Alaska opened the door to find someone standing in her way. She stumbled backwards and took all her willpower not to scream. The man, shaved head tucked beneath a beret, thick-set body tightly wrapped in a highly starched uniform, mirrored her shock.

"How long have you been standing there?" Alaska whispered angrily, though anger gave way to worry as she heard how coarse and quiet her voice was.

"Only a few seconds, ma'am," the man replied, keeping his deep voice low. "Miss Oak sent me to wake you, she wishes you to join her in the conference room."

Alaska wanted to groan but, with the military man's dark eyes watching her intently, she decided against it. "I'll be there in a minute," she said and went to close the door. "And next time don't sneak up on people," she added, and shut the door on his confused face.

He wasn't sneaking, a defiant voice that was distinctly her own, protested. You just can't siphon through all these voices yet. If you're going to be this easily confused, imagine what it'll be like when you get to the next city?

"I know, shut up!" Alaska snapped, angrily pulling her bag open. Her clothes had been taken away while she was being patched up, but it had been so long since she'd changed properly she had no idea where her spare clothes were. She tried to sift through all her jumbled belongings as quietly as possible, but the din inside her head seemed to be getting louder with each passing second. All she could hear were people wondering about breakfast, people going to the bathroom, people thinking about the mission, people thinking about yesterday, people thinking about her, people thinking she was unstable –

"Will you all shut up!" Alaska hissed to the world, dropping her bag to the ground with such force she hoped it had left a dent.

A murmur grumbled behind her. Alaska seized up. For a second, the voices all seemed to disappear, and Alaska was alone with only a sudden, all-consuming feeling of guilt for company. The murmur came again, and Alaska turned cautiously as if any sudden movements might stir Sandy from her sleep.

Yet she was clearly too far gone to notice anything in the real world. Alaska remembered vividly the pain she'd felt watching the nurses tend to Sandy last night; they'd had to shout to be heard above her tears. They'd tried to treat her for a half hour that never seemed to end before relenting to Alaska's pleas and letting their Musharna intervene.

"She won't wake up for a while yet," a nurse had reassured Alaska as a Chansey carried Sandy away. "It's for the best, after what she's been through."

Alaska watched her sleep now; blonde hair draped half over her face and half over the mattress, dangling down beside her right arm. If it wasn't for the bandages on her arms she could have looked angelic. Alaska would accept peaceful as a consolation prize.

Carefully now, she picked her bag up and searched again for her clothes. When she finally found them, Alaska dressed as quietly as possible before slipping out the door. She knew she should be there when Sandy woke up, but as Alaska pulled the door shut, the voices returned as though the walls of her cabin had been holding them back. Her head started to throb, and Alaska bit her lips to hold back the pain. She should be there, she had to be there, but Alaska could only endure so much pain at once.

***

Despite the boat's relative smallness, it still took Alaska a while to find the right room. Every door on the Defence Force frigate looked the same – metallic blue with a number stencilled at average eye-height – and there were no signs pointing her in the right direction, despite the tightly criss-crossed maze of hallways. Alaska lumbered through the hallways with her leg dragging behind, her fatigue building with each passing second as she searched for the mysterious conference room.

Her one guide was also her punishment; Alaska scanned the thoughts drifting through her mind, searching for one that might guide her down the right path. There was a thick congregation of silent murmurings coming from the second floor, getting louder and clearer the closer Alaska got. When there was a cacophony loud enough that Alaska thought her brain might start bleeding, she knew she'd found the right room.

The door opened and Alaska was hit with a wall of heat. The windowless space was the same size as her room, yet instead of a bunkbed shoved against a wall, there were five people crammed around a steel table. It reminded Alaska of the old war rooms they used to feature in movies, but her father's classics had never seemed quite so claustrophobic.

"I see you finally woke up," Janine said, gesturing to the empty chair beside her.

"What can I say, yesterday was a long day," Alaska shot back casuistically as she closed the door. "With all the pills they put me on to soothe the burns, the busted leg, the back pain, the –"

"I'm sure that was leading someway acerbic and witty but we don't have time for sass today." Leaf smiled thinly at Alaska before gazing at the chair as well. Alaska took the hint and gratefully collapsed into it. She was crammed next to a woman from the Defence Force she'd met last night – Carol? Cathy? Caractus? – while Damian looked out of place sitting opposite. The true surprise though was Looker; it took Alaska a moment to recognise him, hunched in the shadows beside Leaf. He seemed more worn out than he had last time, and he stared into the middle distance as if clueless to where he was.

Before she could acknowledge his presence, Leaf tapped at a black cube that sat in the middle of the table. A blue light blinked into life, and a moment later a holographic map hovered between the group.

"I've spent all of last night comparing information with the International Police and the Defence Force, yet unfortunately, we all appear to be on the same blank page." Leaf pointed at a section in the middle and the map zoomed in on Saffron City. "Four days ago, the robots broke out of Silph Co and went dark on their way to the Sevii Islands."

An army of robots… I am never going to get over that. Damian stared not at the map but the table, his arms were rigidly held against his side. Alaska didn't need to read his mind to tell he wanted to slump against the table and sleep as much as she did.

"We've recovered the shells of at least thirty seven of these machines, but from the stockroom what Alaska and Looker saw a month ago, we expect there are around two hundred more minimum missing, if not more," Leaf continued.

Janine raised an eyebrow. "How do we know they didn't crash into the ocean?"

"We suspect a robotic Ursaring or Mudsdale would have attracted some attention by now, but we do have the coastguard on the alert." Leaf tapped the map so that it changed to show the Trainer Tower. "While we don't know how much personnel Buzz has working for him, we have captured the dozen people loyal to Amanda and are currently interrogating them. From what we've gathered, they were a small squadron part of a slightly larger team, but we don't believe Buzz has a human army alongside his robotic one."

"We're talking one hundred people maximum, and it's likely less than that otherwise more of them would have joined in the Arcethian attack," Looker added. He cast his eyes around the group before settling on Alaska; he did not smile but it was clearly his way of greeting her. Alaska stoically nodded back.

"As for Gideon, we have zero leads." Leaf paused fleetingly to glance towards Alaska, who stubbornly stared through her gaze; she deserved no sympathy, it wasn't her Pokémon that died. "We still have a team searching the tower for more folders, but so far that one bathroom seems to be the only storage space he used."

So Sandy could have run into any other bathroom on any other floor and Butterfree would have been fine, is that what you're saying?

"So where does that leave us?"

Alaska had not heard the Defence Force woman speak, only her thoughts drifting through the air, so she was surprised by how deep and gravelly her voice was. She had cropped black hair and thick jaw, giving her the appearance of a teenage boy who worked out too often.

"I have the military might of Kanto and Johto mobilising preparing for any strike, but we can't do anything if we don't know where they are going."

"I understand your position, Carmel, and believe me when I say we are doing everything in our power to work out what these groups are up to." Leaf pulled a strained smile that did little to mask her tiredness or irritation. "We have International Police agents scouring the entire planet trying to find Gideon and Buzz, we have researchers going through all the old Rocket files to see if we've missed something, and basically every satellite, security camera, drone, and phone camera is being monitored for signs of the robots."

"Phone camera?" Damian asked, eyes widening. "You mean we're being watched whi –"

"What we've learnt in the last few days adds little to what we already knew," Looker said, ignoring Damian. "Buzz wants to use these robots to destroy the League, and Gideon is doing who knows what somewhere out there. What has changed is that Buzz's scheme has collapsed and he has gone rogue; whether that means he has abandoned, revised or intends to carry out his plans as is remains to be seen."

"So constant vigilance as always?" Carmel asked.

"As always," Looker repeated.

The room fell silent. Several beats passed without anyone saying anything; Alaska hesitated, waiting for someone to speak, but she didn't need to read their minds to tell that wasn't coming.

"What next?" she asked finally.

Janine raised an eyebrow on behalf of the room. "Do you want to elaborate on that one?"

Don't tempt me, bitch, I can find out what you're afraid of. Alaska paused, breathing slowly before carrying on. "I mean what are we going to do next? How are we going to find them?"

"There is no 'we' in this situation," Looker said simply. "You won't be doing anything."

Alaska felt like her legs had just been swept out from under her. Her eyes flickered between Looker, Leaf and Janine, but there was nothing in their heads to contradict this statement. "Do you want to elaborate on that?" she retorted icily.

"It means you going to carry on with your journey for the foreseeable future. Cinnabar Island is about a day away, we can drop you off there and arrange for a boat to take you to Pewter afterwards. Or Teleport, if you prefer," Looker added.

"I'm sorry, but I thought there was a prophecy – a prophecy, I might add, that a week ago you were all following as if it was the rule of the land – that says I am supposed to be fighting this good fight, and now you want me to disappear for a few days?"

She paused as Janine suddenly sank forwards and rapped her head against the table. "Can we go one day without talking about bloody prophecies?" she groaned into the metal.

"Alaska, there isn't a lot any of us can do right now, let alone you or Sandy," Leaf said, smiling sanguinely. "We can't send you gallivanting around the world trying to find Buzz and Gideon, not with your injuries." Her eyes scanned every bandage that currently covered Alaska's body, and Alaska could feel the condensation rising from the back of the gym leader's mind.

"You forget who is now in possession of a –"

" – a legendary," Leaf interrupted. "Red and I have six combined, and that hasn't stopped Giovanni, Archer, Cyrus, and every other maniac out there from trying to kill us. If anything, it makes us more of a target. If Gideon hears you have Latios on your side, that may be what pushes him to finally act."

So maybe leave that one out of your next blog post.

Alaska glowered at Janine but fought back the urge to call her out. She didn't want to start a fight with her, or anyone for that matter. All Alaska wanted was to crawl back into bed and pretend the last few days hadn't happened. They had, though, and she couldn't ignore that. Not after what it had cost.

"I feel I should be part of this fight. Isn't that what you've wanted from me from the very start?" Alaska knew she would sound pathetic and tired, which is admittedly how she felt, but part of her hoped that pleading might just be enough to win them over.

Leaf sighed. "There's nothing for you to fight at the moment. Buzz is likely re-grouping, Gideon is still doing whatever he can. You are welcome to go to the Indigo League and wait there, but you may be there a while."

Alaska would have happily left it there. Walking through this boat had been enough to sap all her energy. She couldn't fight a Caterpie at the moment, let alone another robot. She could have happily left it there, but as her eyes remained fixated on Leaf's, the gym leader's voice exasperatedly echoed inside her head. We need you out in the world, can't you see that? They'll find you before you have any chance of finding them.

"What, am I supposed to be a pawn? Is that all I am to you?"

The energy in the room suddenly turned tense. "Alaska, what are you talking about?" Leaf asked.

"Don't pretend you don't know." Alaska leapt to her feet, ignoring the pain in her leg, and lunged forwards. She sent the box flying, and Damian yelped as it shattered against the wall. "You don't know what they are up to, so you need me out there to lure them out, is that it?"

"Alaska, you're being hysterical," Leaf said, tone warning, but her thoughts took a different path. What the hell is this, is she reading my mind now? Wait, Latios…

"Yeah, Latios," Alaska snapped, and smirked as Leaf's eyes widened in shock. "Imagine if I'd had this power earlier, who knows what lies I might have caught you out on." She heaved her leg out from under the table and stumbled for the door.

"Alaska, wait!" Looker yelled.

"Fuck off!" she barked, and flung the door open with such vigour it bounced off the wall.

Even as their voices faded almost immediately, their thoughts followed Alaska through the boat; there was no one around, but all she could hear was surprise, regret and plotting echoing through her head. She tried to walk faster as though she could outrun it, but her ribs burnt and her head swayed. Alaska would have screamed simply to listen to something else, but then she came across two people, both in defence force uniform, and decided against.

What's wrong with her? one of them thought as Alaska waddled past.

"Do you really want me to answer?" Alaska snapped and stormed off smirking at the shock that flashed across their faces. Something tingled against her skin, and Alaska turned and saw sunlight glimmering faintly from the far end of the adjacent hallway. Finally, she thought, and lumbered feverishly towards it.

The second she stepped through the door onto the deck, Alaska felt the pressure lift from her head. The voices lingered, but they were quieter now, repressed by how many walls and doors now separated her from everyone else. She was alone out here, and the sudden peace made Alaska groan with pleasure. Finally.

The boat was designed for military purposes, not for cruising, so there were no benches around. Alaska made do with a break in the wall that came in around her height; she sank mercifully onto the cool metal, letting her wounded body melt into its angular curves, and gazed across the ocean.

Alaska had assumed when they had boarded the frigate last night they were being whisked away to some secret hideout, but instead they were anchored in the middle of nowhere, untouched ocean encasing them for miles. The waves were gentle bordering on non-existent, the waters calm and inviting, though Alaska was in no position to swim. She was happy to simply sit out here on her own, basking in the sunlight and praying the past would drift away.

Yet her peace lasted only a few minutes before Alaska felt a shadow cross her face. "Morning," she offered with a barely stifled grimace.

Good morning. Latios' deep tones echoed smoothly through her head, pushing all other voices aside. I hope you slept well.

"Can't you work that out for yourself?"

I could, but I prefer not to pry if unnecessary.

Alaska rolled her eyes and opened them, only to find she was staring at herself. The sight chilled her blood; what little of her skin was visible beneath all the bandages and plasters was sallow and pale in patches, bruised and scabbed in others. She was so many shades – milky white, purplish black, crimson brown – it looked like she'd been rolling through paint. Her head was the worst sign, streaks of dried crimson still there despite the lengthy, quiet shower she'd had last night.

Alaska blinked, desperate to escape, and thankfully her stony face was replaced by Latios'. He floated before her like a loyal balloon, only one with eyes deeper and more eternal than the waters themselves.

"I slept fine," she murmured, though doubted she would tonight after what she'd just seen.

I am pleased. Latios tilted his head, or rather, his elongated neck, and stared at Alaska with renewed intensity. I can sense anger in you. Do you want to discuss it?

A chill ran down Alaska's spine as she imagined him poking around inside her head. "Am I supposed to capture you?" she diverted, tossing the question out there casually. "Leaf and Red captured their legendaries, I think. It seems you and I skipped over that conversation."

You are welcome to try.

There was a smirk in his voice drowned out by the obvious authority. "So I just have to put up with you floating behind me like a bad shadow for the rest of my life?"

If that's how you're going to view this connection, things are going to be very difficult for you.

Alaska laughed. "Things already are difficult for me. Look, if you aren't going to give me the answers I need, why don't you just fly away, because I preferred your vagueness when it wasn't right in my personal bubble space."

Latios laughed, not internally as Alaska had come to expect, but an actual sound passed his lips. It was too soft for her to hear properly, but every hair on her body seemed to stand on end as the whispered chuckle passed her by.

I understand you might gain some pleasure from this, but taking your anger out on me won't benefit anyone, certainly not yourself. We are not linked so you can abuse and belittle me, so are you going to articulate your feelings, or do I need to probe your thoughts?

"Can I really stop you from doing that?" Alaska fired back.

There was a brief pause, but the few seconds seemed to drag on forever. No, I suppose you can't.

Alaska looked up just as Latios' face vanished from her gaze, and once again she was staring at herself. Her eyes were bloodshot and bruised, dark rings circling them like ink stains. There were bandages holding her cheeks, forehead, nose and neck together, white patches that already seemed stained despite barely twelve hours having passed since she was treated. Alaska had scrubbed herself raw last night, but maybe she had imagined things, too caught up in trying to distract her mind from all the guilt, to forget the sight of Butterfree lying in Sandy's arms…

Is it just the guilt you feel?

Alaska blinked and returned to her own head. Latios was floating as close to her height as possible, his deep, haunted eyes only inches from her own. Alaska's instinct was to lie, but that was impossible when it felt like he was staring into the very depths of her being – which, to be fair, he undoubtedly was.

"No. Yes. Maybe? I have no idea. I can't even tell which feelings are my own."

Yes, you can. You can't pawn this off onto anyone else, you will nev-

"Fine!" Alaska threw her arms in the air and winced, having forgotten which parts were bruised and which were stitched. "I'm fucked off because these people that are controlling my life want me to carry on with my journey so Buzz or Gideon or both of them might try and attack me again, just so they can ambush them or something, I have no idea. I sort of expected this, I may have offered if they had asked, but the fact that they, once again, lied to me rather than just telling me the truth just really pisses me off. Because I've been out there this last week trying to do what they want, trying to fight back, trying to balance this war with my journey, exactly as they wanted, and look where it's ended. I came inches to death, my siblings nearly died, I burnt down my dream school, and Sandy…"

Alaska couldn't carry on. For one, her voice was hoarser and weaker than it had been earlier. She wondered if it was the smoke inhalation or simple exhaustion, and wished she had the strength to go back to the infirmary. Yet she was too weak to move, the blood seeming to have evaporated from her body. She longed to sleep, but if she shut her eyes, she was back under the Tower, holding Sandy in her arms, weakly trying to comfort her while knowing that nothing she could ever say or do would ever make up for what she had done.

Thankfully, Latios' voice filled her head again, temporarily relieving her of her own memories. I understand your rage now. Thank you for explaining. Now, how do you intend on resolving this issue?

"I don't see how they can be resolved. I've been fighting these people for months now, and they haven't exactly been forthcoming with an apology or anything… emphasis on anything."

Then you need to find a different solution.

Alaska sat up, eyeing Latios uncertainly. "I thought you were here to offer me advice on shit like this."

Latios' eyes twinkled, and his lips rose in a smirk. I did not break into this dimension and spend months regaining strength in order to be your therapist.

"Well, what's the point of this then?" Alaska snapped. "I didn't ask to hear these voices or to feel like my head has been split in two. I never wanted to feel the pain Sandy felt. If I'm going to be stuck with you, what's the benefit for me?"

Latios laughed again, his chuckle as soft as the breeze. The point? Maybe it's exactly what you just said. Maybe you never wanted to feel that pain, but perhaps you had to.

"Don't give me that touchy feely bullshit," Alaska snapped.

I am not. You want advice or guidance, that is what I am trying to offer.

"I don't want guidance, I want a fucking explanation!" Alaska leapt uneasily to her feet. "For once, I wish someone would give me an honest answer. What is the fucking point of all of this?"

"If you think you're the only one that's ever asked that, I've got news for you."

Alaska yelped instinctively and glanced towards the door; Leaf leant against the frame, smiling awkwardly as her eyes darted between god and trainer. "Seriously?" Alaska squawked, turning back to Latios. "That's the second time this hour! I can hear everyone's thoughts when I don't want to, but when someone is sneaking up on –"

"I'm not sneaking up on you," Leaf interrupted. "I came to check how you're feeling."

Alaska scoffed. "How I'm feeling? Where should I begin?"

"Let me stop you there." Leaf sidled across the deck and settled down on the wall, tapping the spot next to her. "I don't need to hear you bitchily list every insult and injury you've suffered in the last week." When Alaska didn't answer, she laughed in a drained manner. "We don't all need to be read minds to know what people are thinking."

"Aren't you lucky," Alaska replied, barely concealing the contempt in her voice, yet she still sat down beside the gym leader, if only out of continued exhaustion.

I think I'll leave you to it. Latios smiled knowingly as he drifted away from the boat and across the water.

An awkward silence lingered in his wake. Alaska wasn't sure if she was expected to say something or not, but she stared forwards, watching Latios move through the air, trying her best not to listen to whatever thoughts were emanating from the woman next to her.

Thankfully, Leaf broke first. "Look, I'm sorry for what you heard back there, but the reality is that it's the truth. Had I had the chance to vocalise it, I could have worded it differently, but…"

"But you'd simply be rolling the turd in a different pile of glitter."

Leaf smirked. "Probably." She sighed and slumped forwards. Alaska wasn't sure if she was crying or trying to scream, but when the gym leader straightened up, Alaska noticed the rings under Leaf's eyes, a pair of purple half-moons that went well with her bloodshot eyes.

"I know it sounds harsh, but you are the only lead we've got in this fight. We want to end this as much as you do, and wasting time trying to find them won't work. If you're out there, eventually you will run into one of them again. You've been fairly consistent on that front, and believe me, you aren't the first person to constantly encounter your enemies whether you want to or not."

"Is that what happened between you and Giovanni?" Alaska had never touched on the subject with Leaf, despite the fact that one man is what linked all the trials and tribulations the pair had faced. Leaf said nothing in response, but Alaska could see flickers of emotion pass through her own thoughts, flashes of memory leaden with suffering.

"If you want to know why you've been chosen for this, you will never know," Leaf said after a prolonged pause. "I asked myself that every day while we were fighting Giovanni. He had his reasons, but whatever revenge he was trying to satisfy doesn't explain away the fact I can now call on two different gods whenever I need their help. Almost every person in the world in some semblance of power or who had to save the world wonders why it had to be them, why it wasn't Calum from next door or Heidi from the other side of the world."

Alaska sniggered despite herself. "Heidi? Where the hell did that come from?"

"I'm reading this trashy book at the moment," Leaf said, smiling softly. "It's the only thing that takes my mind off anything. Though that's only when I'm not so exhausted I just pass out."

Alaska nodded quietly. She knew that feeling all too well. There was probably a lot she could learn from Leaf, whether it was something as simple as coping with the trauma. Alaska longed for the day she could simply sit down and talk with someone like her without all the tension and pressure simmering away between them. She liked to think that could happen if they survived this, but how many other secret plans were they keeping from her? How much more were they expecting Alaska to go through before this ended?

I could just read her mind. Alaska stared at Leaf's forehead, wondering what she'd find if she looked beneath the surface. Yet the second the thought crossed her mind, a spasm went through her brain, too intense for Alaska to stifle her own shout.

"Are you alright?" Leaf moved on her instantly, resting a hand to her forehead. "Is this the mind reading thing?"

"Yep." Alaska winced against the pain as five different voices floated through her head, wavering in and out of tune like a bad radio station. "Not an area of expertise for you by any chance?"

"Sadly, no," Leaf said, sounding genuinely sympathetic. "But after what you said before, I put a call in to a friend who can help."

"Who? Where is she?" Alaska was desperate for any salvation right now, she didn't care where the help came from.

"She should be here soon. In fact, I think that might be here now." Leaf pointed across the ocean, but when Alaska followed her line of sight, she saw nothing except for Latios floating in the air.

Then, she realised. The previously frozen waters were now shimmering and shifting, soft waves crashing against the boat that were only getting bigger. The sky was as cloudless and sparkling as it had been a minute earlier, but Alaska could feel a change in the air, a sudden pressure that was slowly growing. Alaska stood up, tense and prepared, aware now that something was coming towards them. There was a shimmer in the air that was getting closer and closer, creating a wake strong enough to part the ocean, two columns of water billowing out with ever-increasing height.

Suddenly, the waves slammed into the hull, and a wall of air sent Alaska crashing backwards, almost squashing Leaf as she tumbled against the boat. Alaska winced with pain, not helped by the waves now violently rocking the boat, but all anger and suffering left her as she stared at the new arrival.

For a second, Alaska thought she was seeing double. The creature looked so alike Latios that it could have been his mirror image if it were not was red where he was blue, blue where he was red. Yet everything else was identical, from the wings on their backs to the curvature of their heads. What struck Alaska though was the sense of familiarity that blossomed within her; it was not their appearances that struck her, more that it was like looking at an old friend or family member she knew intimately yet had not seen for years.

Hello brother.

Sister.
Latios drifted forwards so his forehead touched Latias', and Alaska felt phantom goosebumps spread down her body as the two nuzzled each other in greeting.

"I'll never get used to that." Leaf drew Alaska out of her thoughts as she rose queasily to her feet "You didn't have to come that quickly."

"These two really only have the one setting."

Alaska had been so distracted by the similarity she had not noticed there was a woman riding on Latias' back. She swung one leg over and slid roughly onto the deck, wobbling as she landed. "To be honest, I don't think I'm used to it either," she added, gripping the rail to steady herself. She stared down at her feet and smirked before pulling Leaf into a hug, though her eyes stared over the gym leader's shoulder and locked onto Alaska. Hello there.

Alaska said nothing. She was too busy cursing her own stupidity. She had known Latios had a sister, that his whole thing was that he came in a pair, but through all her own struggles and longing to meet him, Alaska had never considered how that other half would fit in.

And now here was this girl, one of the most famous people in the world, walking towards her with unquestionable certainty. Alaska knew her of course; the blue-green hair, the lanky body tucked into blue jeans and a long red shirt, white bag hanging lazily from her shoulders. Alaska had seen her in magazines, had watched her battles, had seen that Latias decimate countless opponents. This girl was a literal Champion, and she had flown all the way from Johto just to meet Alaska.

"Alaska? I've been dying to meet you. My name's Krystal, but you can call me Kris."
 
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