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TEEN: Pokémon Magic Act & Everlight Stories (Most recent: Chapter 4)

Table of Contents

Daren

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In a Mystery Dungeon world where technology survived, two storylines run parallel, influence, cross over, and eventually collide.

*

This is an experimental story; the first two acts will show two stories with different protagonists and different themes and genres (and very different views on certain issues, especially the Caerma Republic itself) with generally alternating chapters (for some important cliff hangers I will update the same story twice in a row), and the final act combines the two stories into one.

Pokémon Magic Act: Etain the Pikachu has grown weary of life her as an adventurer; after a certain discovery while on an expedition decides to become a full time stage magician and form a traveling entertainer’s troupe, fulfilling an old childhood desire. Of course, even if her new life is less dangerous it’s not really any easier.

This is a heavily arc based story with a focus on character drama—conflict is often internal to the troupe rather than some outside threat, though external danger is not unheard of. It also contains a romance story.

Everlight Stories: Tybalt is a Meowstic private detective in the sprawling metropolis of Everlight city, though one who often works with the local Security forces. In a city like Everlight there’s always someone who needs help, although not everyone thinks he's quite the right cat for the job...

This is a more episodic story with several unconnected cases, (though there is a major story line built up to over time) with an emphasis on action, adventure, and comedy.

Content Warnings: fantasy violence, occasional realistic violence/abuse (blood, serious injury, character death—nothing you wouldn’t see in Star Wars), mild strong language, mild suggestive themes (occasional sexual innuendo and implications, off-page sex), Pokémon carnivorism (alluded to and threatened, never occurs), comsumption of alcohol.
Rated Teen/PG13

Content Notes
(Non ratings): occasional cartoon slapstick (not full on Tom and Jerry but things that have happened in the Pokémon games or anime),


I realize putting everything here might make it sound grimdark, but the story is really no more dark than something like the Lucas era Star Wars films, I just want to be thorough in listing content—most of what will be seen are elements official Pokémon stories have shown or alluded to, but put in a bit more focus.

Contents:
Act I
Chapter I: Pokémon Magic Act, Part 1
Chapter II: Everlight Stories, Part 1
Chapter III: Pokémon Magic Act, Part 2
Chapter IV: Everlight Stories, Part 2
 
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Chapter 1

Daren

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Pokémon Magic Act, Part 1
Early July, 318AC

After close to a full day (including a night’s camping) of making their way through the broken forest, trekking through mud and brambles, climbing up small hills, and carefully avoiding detection by wild Pokémon, Sylvia and Etain had finally located their mark.

The Weavile and Pikachu pair was lying flat atop a tiny hill in the woods, each with a large satchel secured to them with a chest strap and a much larger backpack lying on the ground. The two were hidden in the brush, scouting out the large building in a clearing ahead of them as the late morning sun shone overhead and strong winds bent the forest around them.

The building itself was an old, stone structure with three stories, with a meter and a half high decorative stone fence ringed around it, forming a large enclosed yard, though the vegetation between the building itself and the fence was overgrown. A little home and yard cut out from the surrounding forest. There was no visible door from their location and little space between the tree line and the fence.

"Well, well, well...the tip-off was at least partly true," Sylvia said. Good. The Weavile had felt the traveling singer who had entered the Adventurer’s Association Red Leaf office claiming to have seen a ruined building deep in the woods outside Red Leaf was being truthful, and so far she had not been disappointed. Fortunately, aside from the branch supervisor Sylvia had been the only member present at the time, allowing her to avoid a bidding war over the tip-off.

The Dustox had been attempting to take a shortcut from Starry Town to Red Leaf—he had been delayed and had perhaps naively decided to cut through the woods to get to town faster—and had gotten hopelessly lost. On the way he had stumbled upon a very old building in a small clearing. He had gone inside to seek shelter from some rain—it was clear nobody was living there by the state of the interior.

He had not stayed inside for very long, the singer had explained, as an Automated Combat Drone (an ACD) inside had fired at him. Those were dangerous and highly illegal just about everywhere on the continent, so the building’s former occupant was certainly some sort of raider or brigand who had not been considerate enough to deactivate his mechanical guard.

The Dustox could not, of course, say for certain if there were any valuables inside...there had not been any in the hallway he had flown into from the window, but it looked like an old human building, and while many high-tech human artifacts are restricted from private ownership (though a small finder’s fee for turning them over to Republic Security existed, however) other human items were both legal and valuable to collectors, and outlaws often have ill-gotten gains. Besides, if an ACD was there it meant the building at least had to have a functioning power generator—those were worth a good amount.

Of course this information was potentially valuable...

Sylvia couldn't be annoyed, since she'd have done the same thing in his place if she didn't have the capabilities to investigate it herself. The price was pretty fair for what the Dustox admitted was a gamble--there was no guarantee the place ever had anything worth much, or that it hadn't already been scavenged by someone (although most civil Pokémon preferred to avoid the deep woods that were home to their lawless, wilder kin), or that whatever they found wasn't covered by the human artifact ownership restrictions law.

"That Dustox may have been honest, but he was ignorant about human structures,” Sylvia noted. “It's not in bad enough shape to date back to human times. This is a Pokémon structure built in human style."

Etain lifted herself off her belly, rising onto all fours and looking up at the second story.

"One of the windows on the second floor's broken,” she noted. Tilting her head to the side, her ears twitched before she continued, "You know, Syl, poorly maintained houses happen, even with owners. If we don’t spot an ACD or a better sign this place is abandoned we have no cause to go inside."

Sylvia swore loudly.

They'd spent two days preparing, so busy discussing whether the building was real, whether there would be anything valuable, and whether said valuables might be banned that they'd overlooked this one other possible point of failure. Only in the final moments had it deigned to reveal itself to their minds.

Blinded by the thrill of this die toss—the first in some time, adventuring expeditions were rare these days, so they mostly did contract work--they had missed one possible trick the Dustox could have played--hoping they'd break in carelessly and get themselves in trouble with Republic Security so they would be unable to either inform the Association of the betrayal or seek revenge.

"He’d better not have lied about seeing a combat drone or I'll beat the living daylights out of that scammer if he's still in town when we get back,” Sylvia replied.

Left unstated was the fact it would be much worse for him if she caught the bug-type outside of town…

"We’ll just need to be careful," Sylvia continued. "ACDs usually have a set patrol. If he saw one then we should see it too."

Etain nodded. "I'll sneak around and check for a door, maybe I can spot the ACD."

"Right, I'll watch from here."

Etain set off at once--the mouse moved swiftly but carefully, darting from under bushes and behind trees, making her way around the building counterclockwise. Sylvia paid her little heed, trusting Etain to get the task done while she focused on her own. Pulling a black pair of binoculars and a small camera from her satchel, she rose up onto one knee and raised the binoculars to her eyes so she could see through them. It was poorly lit inside but her eyes could see through darkness even more easily than daylight. She focused on one window, then the next, then the next, then up a floor to the second level...

Then she saw it.

The machine was floating in the air and had the standard shape and form of an ACD; spherical, about halfway between the size of a Voltorb and an Electrode, a dark metallic colour, and sensors in the form of a rim running all around near the top, red lights shining along it. Sylvia knew it could “see” her from here, but would not react as long as she stayed out of its security range.

Below it was a weapon—a swivel mounted energy cannon, lying close to the machine’s frame. It could rotate a full 360 degrees and fire with significant speed and accuracy. They said being struck was like taking a powerful Magnezone’s Zap Cannon, but Sylvia had never been hit by one and never intended to be.

She swiftly snapped several zoomed in photos, just in case she needed evidence. The machine continued to float along until it turned a corner and vanished down another hallway.

Well, well, well. Another truth, she thought. A Mark II Security Drone. Dangerous, but she had destroyed them before. Everything the Dustox said checked out. Good. From here out anything that went wrong was not treachery—merely fate or her own errors.

She did not expect any errors on her part, or Etain’s. She knew the weak point of this model, had a few oran berries in her satchel, and her years of battle--in the arena, in the alleys of Everlight City, and in forests, ruins, and caves against robbers, lawless Pokémon, ACDs, and even other adventurers--gave her ample confidence in her combat prowess. Etain could hold her own in a fight as well, even if she was nowhere near Sylvia's equal in power or experience.

The smart thing would be to try and take the machine from ambush, either come swiftly around a corner, or attack suddenly from above or below it. One nicely aimed Night Slash should end the fight before it truly starts.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw Etain making her way back to her, having finished her mission around the building. When the mouse reached her she gave Sylvia an excited grin.

"There's a gaping hole in the wall with a door lying on the ground nearby and inside is a mess. This is an abandoned building; we can go knocking without annoying Republic Security even if there’s no drone!"

Sylvia nodded and gave her own report: “There’s a drone, like we were told. Mark II security model--I'd guess the owner was some raider who never told anyone about his lair. I can handle it as long as my luck doesn’t sour, although there's still a chance someone got here first and just snuck around the drone." Maybe even our Dustox friend, although we'd never know for sure if it was him, she thought. “Ready to head in?”

"Give me one second to record this place's coordinates."

Etain crawled over to her satchel and reached inside, digging about for a second before removing her Pokégear Mark II--the little red device had many useful functions for someone in her line of work.

Etain had received it as a present last year from a close childhood friend whose name Sylvia could not recall—she guessed the mouse would not have been able to afford one on her own.

Turning it on, Etain tapped at the buttons a few times, moving the selection screen past various applications--File Reading, Memos and Notes, Species Encyclopedia, Adventurer's Newsletter, before stopping on Map and Positioning. Before leaving town she had activated the tracking feature on the device, allowing the machine to calculate their rough position on the continent. It had to rely on footstep counting but was reliable enough for this purpose. "There. Coordinates for this location saved in case Republic Security wants to follow up on this."

Sylvia rolled her eyes. "I'm sure the brave Republic Security will march in to valiantly take notes after we do the dangerous work, such heroes as they are. Ah well, let's go in."

They ran as fast as they could from the vegetation cover until they reached the fence, hopped it, then made full speed to the house itself, where they pressed themselves against the wall and carefully sidled around the building. Before long they reached the front, where Sylvia soon spotted the wooden door lying against the ground in front of the entrance it had once guarded--from the looks of it, someone had forced the door open--possibly a lawless (or simply lost) Pokémon seeking shelter from the weather like the Dustox had.

Taking a look at the size of the entrance, she guessed whoever had lived here had been a fairly large Pokémon, or expected fairly large company--the door was about two and a half meters tall and quite broad. The two passed silently through side by side.

*

The inside of the building was dark—there were few windows, and if there was any interior lighting it was turned off. The two Pokémon nodded to one another and Sylvia closed her eyes.

Concentrating, Etain summoned up her electrical power. Her cheeks sparked for a few seconds before she refocused it from electrical-type energy to normal-type energy--and for an instant a blinding light shone off her before it subsided, providing a comfortable illumination. She gently poked the Weavile, who opened her eyes.

They were in a small antechamber leading directly into a large foyer, and even in the current dusty state Etain could tell it had once been very nice--directly opposite them on the far side of the room was a pair of spiraling staircases on either side, each leading up to the second floor, and Etain could make out a second pair next to where they ended leading up to the third level. They could see three side passages on each side of the room's first floor and more above, as well as a piano off tucked in the far left corner, and scattered furniture--tables and chairs, in varying states of repair--all coated in dust. Paintings of landscapes, humans, and Pokémon adorned the walls—fields, hills, a bearded adult human with a severe look and regal clothing sitting on an oddly ornate chair of some sort, a Gyarados emerging from a lake with a roar, and several others.

I’m no art appraiser but I wonder if those paintings are worth anything? I can’t tell if they’re human or Pokémon made—the former can be worth a lot, though some of these are cumbersomely large for carrying around town—I don’t think they’d fit even in our large packs. Besides, something about pawning human art to a private collector instead of letting a museum have it…well, I guess I’ll let Sylvia have them if she wants them.

"Stay close to the walls so that thing can’t see us as easily from up there,” Sylvia whispered. "Circle around, wait for it to pass by the stairs, then we hit it,”

Etain nodded in quiet agreement.

After checking to make sure it was clear the two quickly made their way across the foyer and flattened themselves against the wall behind the stairs—the Drone would not be able to see them from any higher level, but they would be able to hear it.

They waited for some minutes, as still and silent as possible, until they heard a soft humming noise, quiet at first, but growing louder and closer.

Closer…

Closer…

Closer…

Sylvia suddenly turned to face the upper floor and jumped, her right claw extending while glowing with black energy, and just as she cleared the railing on the above level swung. Etain heard an alarmed beeping cut short by the sound of metal being ripped apart, followed by a loud thud against the ground, then Sylvia landed back next to her with a self-satisfied smirk. Etain wondered if she’d ever have that much power, even when she finally found a Thunderstone.

“Well, that was easy,” she said with casual air. “Let’s go searching.”

The two moved cautiously through the old house, keeping an eye out for worn flooring that could lead to a dangerous fall, fallen nails, or any other potential threat—but none came. They made their way room by room, starting on the bottom floor, finding little of value—a few books and magazines of no special interest, plenty of furniture, a pantry with some non-perishable food, and various others things that were not always valueless, but not worth trying to sell back in town. Etain could hear Sylvia’s grumbling grow worse after each disappointment. One of the last first floor rooms did have a small bag full of pre-Republic Red Leaf silver coins, enough to be worth perhaps a thousand Poké, but after that they were back to such exciting finds as drinking cups, a broken chair, and several very old issues of “Fighter Fan Weekly” magazine. The last thing they found was a closet filled with clothing—Sylvia was not the “clothing” type, though Etain enjoyed them at times.

“Well, bottom floor’s a bust,” Sylvia sighed as she closed it. “Next level up, I guess.”

The staircase was creaky but safe, and the second floor quickly proved more promising than the first; Sylvia and Etain found a small pouch full of Republic bills on a table in the upstairs foyer, a few technical records of Pokémon design (distinguishable from older human ones by the barcode on modern records), some discs of old films from various Everlight movie studios, a tiny chest with some modest jewelry, and eventually the power generator the drone had used (it seemed to be linked to some solar panels on the roof, judging by where the wires ran), but still nothing amazing. The location of the generator would at least be of interest to the office.

“Floor three, coming up,” Etain said with some faint hope in her voice as they made their way to the last set of stairs. Maybe floor three would be another improvement?

*

The top floor proved smaller than the others—most of it was a single large dining hall with a wide and long table, numerous chairs, and only two doors visible to smaller rooms. They chose first the one closer to the stairs, but it only led to a small storage room full of boxes stuffed with little of interest.

With some trepidation they opened the final door…

“It’s beautiful…” Sylvia whispered as it swung open, her and Etain’s eyes lighting up.

One the other side laid what seemed to be the bedroom, having a few straw stuffed beds and a nightstand, but also something of far more interest to the two:

A wall safe some distance above their heads, potentially packed with wealth.

They were on it in an instant; Etain went back into the dining hall, brought back a small folding table, and pushed it in front of the safe for Sylvia to stand on while she worked at opening their prize. It was securely locked, but not secure against a barrage of Night Slash attacks, and inside was a rather large wooden chest—also locked, but Sylvia lifted it down to the floor where Etain deftly opened it with a lock pick she kept in her satchel. With bated breaths the two gazed onto the chest as Sylvia popped it open.

The lights in their eyes flicked off when they saw the contents.

Sylvia groaned loudly as Etain slammed her tail against the floor in irritation. "What an awful mix of good and bad luck--we risk our necks to take out a dangerous drone and it turns out the place was owned by some technophile... pokéballs, technical machines, portable computers, old human CDs. It’s all valuable except we're in Caerma Republic territory! This stuff's all on the human relic restricted trade list. We can't sell any of it, only turn it over to Republic Security for a fraction of what we’d get on the market as a finder's fee!" Sylvia slammed the lid shut in disgust and the two sighed in unison, followed by a long and awkward silence as they listened to the wind outside.

"Why not go north now?" Sylvia finally asked. "Work out of the Johrock Association office for a few years. There’s no Republic north of Johland, and no restrictions on human relics. I hear there’s still treasure in the ruins of that big human city, and there’s plenty of well-paying work to help keep the roads safe from bandits and hostile wild Pokémon. We'd make three times the money up there. We could check the abandoned mines—rare gems and stones are there, I’ve found some myself in the past. We could even watch some matches in the Johrock arena while we're up north!" she said with sudden excitement. "It's an amazing sight! Intense, no-holds-barred battles you won't see anywhere else in the Republic, or even on Valour Island!”

She sighed wistfully as memories floated through her mind. Back when she was a competitive battler (there was much overlap between that career and adventuring, in fact) she had always wanted to enter Johrock’s Grand Royal—a viciously competitive triple battle tournament with fifteen fighters to a team--but ultimately had to settle for entering the open melee one year. Out of a hundred entrants she had been thirteenth place after she'd been a little too slow dodging a Steelix's Iron Tail and found herself knocked clean out of the arena. Good times.

"Three times the money at ten times the danger, you mean," Etain said, her ears twitching. "There’s a reason the Clans and the Free Cities pay so much, and the wild Pokémon up there can be frightening."

Sylvia shrugged it off. She hoped the disappointment of today's expedition may have softened her partner on the idea. No such luck.

She had another proposal, however, and with a conspiratorial grin followed up in a quiet, almost whispering tone.

"Frankly, I don't see any good reasons not to take this stuff straight out of the Republic to Lodestrom City or Silverport. Nobody'll ever know it came from here and not the northern ruins. I imagine we could get about a hundred thousand Poké each."

Etain hesitated--on one hand she had sworn when she joined the Adventurer's Association not to break local laws.

On the other hand it would be such a small violation, for a victimless crime, against a stupid law. She’d love to take some time off adventuring and focus on her magic act, too…

Sylvia saw her wavering and kneeled down, placing a gentle claw on Etain's shoulder and gazing into her eyes.

“You always say when you retire you wanted to own your own club, right? That won’t happen if you don’t scrape up every coin you can,” she said gently.

Etain found her tail starting to wag rapidly; she forced it to stop.

What to do, what to do…

"…I can’t," the mouse squeaked softly after what felt to her like an eternity.

The Weavile sighed and stood up. "Fine. We'll drop the case off at the Association office and get our pats on the head,” she grumbled. Etain looked down to the floor.

“Syl, even if I can’t that doesn’t mean you ….”

“Forget it. I won’t ask you to risk covering up for me if you aren’t getting a slice of the pie—you’d be in just as deep if the supervisor found out. In any case, time to gather up everything we want and divide the spoils, such as they are.”

*

In the end the two had agreed to bring everything they were interested in keeping to the main foyer. It took some time to carry everything there, especially with a few items they took some time to make a decision over, and noon was growing close by the end, though neither paid it much heed.

Sylvia regarded the pile with disdain. "That could have gone better. Some money and valuables, but it’s not exactly the Lost Treasure of Goldenrod City here. Some of these portraits might be worth something to a gallery, but it’s too much of a pain for me to carry them around looking for a buyer. A small finder's fee for that tech, too, but not much compared to what it could have been worth," Sylvia fumed, growling a lengthy series of curses aimed at the building, the Republic, and the world in general. “If only you started a few years earlier, Etain. Before those pompous busybodies on the Republic Council decided to institute “no fun allowed” rules for half the continent,” she said regretfully.

Etain, however, was not paying full attention; she was looking at the small pile of human discs they had put in the small jewelry chest they’d found earlier, slowly turning an idea around. She made up her mind then picked up one of the discs and inserted it into her Pokégear, quickly tapping a few buttons to begin downloading a copy of the disc’s files.

The Weavile laughed. "You little devil. It’s the discs covered by the relic ban, not the data itself. You sure you don't have a dark-type somewhere in the family tree?"

"Well...maybe I'm slightly annoyed right now," Etain admitted with a grin.

"Heh, just as you say," Sylvia said, "Right now anything that would annoy the Republic is good with me."

The two focused by silent agreement on the discs now, discussing possibilities about what may be on them while Etain painstakingly downloaded each one to her Pokégear. It took some time to finish, and by the end Sylvia had lied down on the floor, idly picking at the bag of coins and sizing up the paintings to figure out if any would look nice in her home.

As Etain went through the files what she found actually surpassed her expectations.

Many of the discs seemed to be text of varying types—stories, scientific journals, essays on various topics—but there were also a few recordings of human films and television shows—whomever had lived here seemed to find humans fascinating.

More interesting by far, however; were the discs containing blueprints and specs for human technology. A few were for devices for which she was not aware of any current equivalent of, though she wasn’t always sure why some had been created—something called a “versus seeker”, for example, designed to play a loud beep, intended to allow Pokémon trainers to ask others if they were interested in battling.

Why not just ask in person?

Still, Bress, Red Leaf’s Master Inventor and Engineer (he insisted on the full title), would be very interested in these--everyone knew he was obsessed with human technology.

Then she found something that was especially interesting.

“Sylvia, this disc…it says it’s the blueprints and instructions for a device used to emulate Pokémon moves.”

“Like how an Escape Orb uses Teleport? Which moves does it have?”

Etain continued reading as her tail started wagging, "A big list. A few I’ve never even heard of…what’s ‘Techno Blast’ do?”

Sylvia shook her head. She’d never heard of such a move, either.

Etain’s tail moved faster. “I think…no, no, I know I want this for myself! I want this disc as part of my share of the prize, okay? I’ll ask Bress if he could make me one if he has the specs.”

Sylvia smiled. "Ah, Etain, skirting around Republic laws twice in one day? You're growing dangerously close to being cool."

"Well, I bet this would really help my magic act, huh? The ability to emulate any special move..."

Sylvia chuckled. “You find a powerful weapon like this and your first thought is to use it for your shows?”

“Truthfully…” the mouse hesitated, her tail coming to a stop. “I’m thinking about going into entertainment full time,” she had to force the words out, flinching instinctively as she finished.

Sylvia jumped up with a start. “Geez Etain, this was a bit of a disappointing run, I know. But we can always go north, like I said.”

“It’s not just that, Syl,” the mouse sighed. “I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. I just don’t enjoy this anymore. My tail still aches sometimes ever since that Houndoom bite, I’ve grown so twitchy I have trouble relaxing even in a comfy rented bed, and I’m tired of everyone from south of Starry Town treating me like I’m dangerous.”

Well, you are a battle-hardened Pokémon with advanced moves who could KO most of those soft city folk with one blow, Sylvia thought.

“But that’s how it works now, right?” Etain muttered. “The only adventurer anyone outside the business talks about is Stavik, and they don’t talk about him for the right reasons.”

Sylvia flexed her claws at that name; many people living closer to Everlight city didn't like adventurers. They enjoyed reading adventure stories or seeing movies or theatre performances about adventurers, but were more averse to real ones. Many considered that term a polite euphemism, really, with "vigilantes", "mercenaries", “troublemakers”, or worst of all "grave robbers" being closer to the point. It was much more respected further north, in areas only recently part of the Republic (as well as those isolated hold out towns, and the independent territories north of the Glittering Mountains), but a violent thug like Stavik was not helping their reputation anywhere these days. He wasn’t even a member of the Association, but he was still making all Adventurers look bad.

“But I was thinking…” Etain continued, “Well, maybe I’ll never own my own club, but I can still be an entertainer. And if I incorporate this move-copier into my act I bet I could be a really good one, too!”

“I understand what you’re getting at,” Sylvia said softly. “Well, I’ll miss you as a partner if you decide to go through with this, but I really think you should at least sleep on the decision. A few years without practice can make it hard to come back to this, you know, and if going full time as a magician doesn’t pan out you could be in trouble.”

“Yeah, I’m not doing this lightly. If nothing else I need to get Bress’ estimate on this device,” Etain said, though if she were being honest with herself her mind was made up—her memory of the claps of the audience after her show last weekend in the Claw and Coffee Café on the road south out of Red Leaf was contrasting with three days ago when a stranger she’d been speaking to quite cordially in the local diner began to sweat nervously and made excuses to leave when he saw her Adventurer’s Association identification card while she was paying for her meal.

“In either case it’s high time we teleport back home,” Sylvia declared. With a nod Etain joined her in packing everything they were taking with them into their two large backpacks. After hesitating a moment, Sylvia also took the Gyarados painting, securing it under her right arm. With a nod, Etain reached into her satchel and removed their ticket home—an Escape Orb.

Making sure everything they wanted to take with them was close enough to be affected by the Orb, Etain pressed the activation button, releasing a Teleport move as the sphere shattered to pieces and white light flashed around them.
 
Last edited:
Chapter 2

Daren

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I’d like to thank my readers! I know that the first part of Pokémon Magic Act was mostly setting the stage. The first part of Everlight Stories should prove more immediately exciting, however.
I thought it would be shorter than the previous chapter, which is a testament to the naïve folly of man; it is more than a thousand words longer.


****************************
Everlight Stories, Part 1
Mid October, 317AC


When anyone in the Caerma Republic said “The City” they were referring to Everlight. Compared to it nothing else deserved the title; it was the largest city on Occeris, and almost certainly the whole world—it could swallow the next three largest Occerian cities all at once and not be quite filled. It was the city of technology, the city of culture, the city of wealth, the city of the future.

Tybalt the Meowstic had lived in Everlight most of his life. The younger of two children from a family living in the residential suburbs along the northern side of the city, he saw Everlight as nothing less than a glowing beacon of the future.

He was a private detective, though he took jobs in other security or protection based fields when they came up, which was not often--he suspected largely due to few people having faith that a detective whose species is generally agreed to fall on the “cute” side of the scale would prove especially tough. A Meowstic following a paper trail to check to figure out which warehouse your parcel was sent to by accident was one thing, but tracking down dangerous robbers is evidently another.

One fateful Friday afternoon, Tybalt was sitting at his desk in his office (he never got tired of being able to refer to his office—complete with his name on a plaque, and his certificate from Madoc University’s Investigations And Forensics class hung on the wall), filling out paperwork for the records regarding his last job; he had just returned from finding his overjoyed client’s missing house key which had not been stolen by a local criminal gang as part of a nefarious plot as the client feared but was, in fact, lying forgotten in a potted plant in said client’s home after they had stumbled home last night after too much drinking.

To celebrate his most interesting case in a month—and, if he was lucky, to forget the fact it was his most interesting case in a month--he was planning to spend tonight at as many clubs, parlors, and theaters as he could, then spend the next afternoon watching low-budget romantic dramas on television while eating junk food with the phone disconnected and the blinds closed. He had been reading Everlight at Night (a weekly magazine covering entertainment in Everlight and surrounding areas) just this morning to find the best (and worst) performances in the city to see on his budget.

Still, plans don’t always come to fruition, and it was perhaps just before 2 PM as he was putting the file away that his intercom turned on.

“Tybalt?” squeaked his Dedenne secretary, Deirdre. “Morgan’s here to see you.”

“Show him right in,” Tybalt said, sighing after he turned the device off. Morgan was a very old friend of his—more than a friend at one time. They had gone to both school and university together, but while Tybalt had set up on his own Morgan was now a Lieutenant in Republic Security, a favorite of the current Chief, and vastly more respected than his old friend.

If Morgan wanted to see him at the office it meant he wanted to hire him—not an uncommon occurrence. Tybalt suspected it was a kindness--there were many other freelance investigators and security specialists in the city. He was grateful for any work he could get, but today he viewed this with incertitude since he was looking forward to his planned night of hedonistic revelry. He’d have to hear things out and decide what to do.

A moment later a Cinderace walked into the office, one arm on his hip and wearing a bright white sash emblazoned with the Republic Security Insignia (intertwined red, blue, and green lines wrapped about a representation of the Republic Council Hall, set on a white backdrop) and his Officer’s ID card attached clipped to it.

“Afternoon, Ty.”

“Afternoon, Morgan,” Tybalt replied, leaning back in his chair. “Drink? I do have some that are actually appealing locked in the bottom cabinet where the clients can’t see them.”

Tybalt stocked his office cabinet—at least the shelves visible through the glass--with bottle upon bottle of Aguav juice (half of them empty), displayed prominently behind his desk. Aguav juice was commonly associated with grim Pokémon due to its infamously bitter taste. He hoped it would give an impression of being a grizzled, hard bitten detective.

“That’s fine, Ty.”

“So what’s up this time? Is this a Security job or something personnel?”

Morgan smiled as he sat down on one of the varying sized chairs on the other end of Tybalt’s desk.

“I’m hiring you, but it’s for Security. I’m sure you can guess a number of the Competitive Battling franchises like to play loose with the restriction on trading human-made Technical Records and Machines—much faster than training normally, you know. An informant we’ve got in one of ‘em—can’t tell you which, of course—says a small boat is carrying a pack of illegal technical records in tonight. Carrock and I are going to intercept them, but I want a little more backup than the Chief can give, just in case. You think you can do an old friend a favor at midnight? I know you prefer the type of job that requires a bit more finesse and deduction, but I figured I’d see if you’re up for it before I went elsewhere. I’ll pay your rate, of course.”

Tybalt tapped his desk, thinking about the request. "Are you expecting a fight?”

Morgan shrugged. “According to our contact, this is opportunistic traders, not hardened criminals, but if they get desperate it might turn ugly. That’s why I asked you to come—three looks better than two, doesn’t it?”

Somehow I don’t think a Meowstic adds much intimidation next to a Cinderace and a Skarmory, Tybalt thought. “Still, why do you need me? Can’t you pick up another Security officer?”

"This was on short notice," Morgan said. “Really short notice. Tip came in two hours ago. Not a lotta’ Security officers work that hour, and most of the ones who do have patrols or office work to do.”

Tybalt shifted his weight to the right arm of his chair, resting his cheek against his paw. Why scramble so fast for something like this? Security isn’t exactly energetic about enforcing the human tech ban. This is part of something bigger. What he actually said was, “I thought Everlight’s Security branch would have some officers in reserve for sudden situations like this.”

"Those guys are on call for more severe issues, especially with a lot of us still up north trying to get a proper Security force trained and ready in the new territories, and of course the Council won't approve emergency funds to pay overtime for something like this."

He pointedly didn't elaborate on why, though anyone paying attention could guess—it was related to the Human Artifact Trading Ban, officially Republic Bill 316-87, which Morgan had once confided to Tybalt in private was unofficially known in Security as HIC, or “Herwick’s idiotic crusade”, named after the councilor who had initially proposed it.

The Human Artifact Trading Ban was just over a year old and very controversial; there had been protests only three months ago after an elderly Ninetales' Pokéball (kept as a memento of their trainer) had been confiscated.

Local elections across the Republic were being held next year, and the ban was shaping up to be a decisive issue; it had some support in Everlight and the surrounding core towns of the Republic, but was widely despised in the frontier to the north and members of the adversely affected Adventurer’s Association were commonly believed to consider it a single issue election.

Pro-ban councilors in many regions were now trying to distance themselves from the law, and anti-ban councilors would refuse on general principle, so there was no chance of council agreeing to allow Security to use emergency funding to enforce the ban.

That meant Morgan was dipping into his own pocket for this, despite being a critic of the law. He must really be chasing that promotion to captain. I suppose I owe him at least this much. Tybalt straightened up in his seat.

“Well, standard rate’s a bit high just to show up at the dock, isn’t it? You agree to buy lunch this weekend instead and we’ll call it even, right?”

“Thanks, Ty. I do appreciate it,” Morgan said with a smile as he stood up.

“It’s fine.”

“Well, I gotta let the Chief know. See ya tonight at dock 6, okay? That’s the only one that isn’t locked tonight. We’ll meet up at the Security lookout tower there,” Morgan said.

As soon as he was gone Tybalt leaned back again and sighed. I suppose a Saturday night of hedonistic revelry is almost as good, and I could still catch those shows I wanted to see tomorrow. Flicking the intercom on he told Deirdre to let the others know he was heading home early to rest for a late night case.

He left, exchanging brief nods with Deirdre on his way through. Tancred (a Vigoroth) and Jacob (a Heatmor) were out on another case at the moment—a fairly simple bread and butter job of investigating an employee under suspicion of misappropriating funds.

His little agency operated out of a small rented space on the bottom floor of one of those steel and glass skyscrapers that dot certain parts of downtown Everlight, located in the Pearl district (not, despite the name, one of the nicest parts of Everlight). He darted out into the crowded streets, making his way to the second road away from the building—every road in Everlight had multiple lanes for different sized Pokémon. Fortunately, his home was not far away, and he arrived before long.

The apartment he lived in was nothing special—room 306 of a concrete ten floor structure. He went through his mailbox on the way into the entry hall (his nephew’s psychic powers still had not developed, according to a concerning letter from his sister), making his way up two flights of stairs past the bland and undecorated walls until he reached his room, nodded to his Rhyhorn neighbor who was nudging their own door shut with a lever built into it as Tybalt dug the keys out of his satchel and unlocked the door into his tiny apartment, which just had a single living room/kitchen/bedroom hybrid and a washroom.

Walking in he closed the door, shut the blinds, made a quick mid-day snack (nothing fancy, just some leftovers from the previous night and a glass of water), and turned the television on before planting himself on the couch, where he proceeded to watch an hour-long comedy skit show before making his way to his straw bed and curling up to sleep.

*

When Tybalt awoke it was ten hours past noon. With a yawn and a quick stretch he threw on a black dyed wool coat—it was cold at night this time of year--and left.

The streets were quiet at this hour—nocturnal Pokémon mostly lived in the Night district to avoid disturbing their neighbors and vice versa. Of course the entertainment district of Everlight never slept with its numerous clubs, theaters, all-night restaurants, and more, all highlighted by glowing signs covering the streets, but Tybalt was heading in the opposite direction tonight—the docks were to the east and south of his Pearl District home, and the entertainment district was to the west.

The streets being mostly empty meant he made good time, and before long he crossed from the skyscrapers and towers of Pearl District into the realm of wide, squat buildings known as the Dock district

The alleys of the district were a maze of warehouses, shipping containers, and smaller offices. It was easy for an unfamiliar visitor to get lost, and best to follow a road straight down to the docks if you needed to catch a ship or ferry ride. The docks themselves were adequately brightened by street lights, at least. Tybalt knew his way around, however, and could cut out a lot of time going through the alleys, occasionally hopping fences.

He was hurrying through one alley formed by the intersection of four buildings when he thought he heard something from one of the side routes ahead, and came to a stop as he felt his fur stand on ends. It could be harmless…

Closing his eyes, he focused his psychic powers and quickly used Reflect and then Light Screen, forming a pair of invisible but sturdy shields of psychic energy around himself, while putting his paw in his satchel and carefully activating the sound recorder on his Pokégear. Only a few seconds later two large Pokémon with unfriendly smiles emerged from around the corner ahead, cutting him off.

They were a Drapion and a Gliscor, and he recognized them immediately as a pair of toughs he had prior encounters with.

“Good evening, Nick,” he said to the Drapion. “Good evening, Rick,” he said, turning his head and nodding to the Gliscor. “It’s a wonderfully chilly night for a stroll, hmm?”

“Oh, it certainly is!” Rick agreed.

“A lovely night,” Nick nodded.

“Well, it’s nice seeing you both, gentlemen, but I have business elsewhere,” Tybalt said politely. They did not step aside.

“Oh, this won’t take long,” Nick said innocently.

“Not at all,” Rick agreed. “We are very disappointed by your recent actions, you know.”

“It wasn’t nice to get one of our good friends fired from the Competitive Battling League just because he received a nice present, you know,” Nick chided.

“How fortunate we saw you outside tonight so we can discuss the issue alone. Like gentleman,” Rick added, as he and his older brother took a step forward.

“See, when the manager of the Soaring Heights arena wants to me to investigate rumors of fight fixing and then I find out that a Silver-rank who recently lost to a barely-known but promising newcomer is receiving regular presents from a local bookie, reporting that’s part of the job,” Tybalt explained patiently.

“Perhaps, but you were asked very politely to keep it quiet, remember,” Rick replied, equally patient.

“Then you come out alone at night in our part of the city! Cute little Pokémon like you should stay in after dark, or they’re liable to get stepped on by accident,” Nick advised amiably.

Don’t call me cute, Tybalt thought fiercely. “Why, I’m sure you two are just full of fine ideas,” he said with venomous sweetness. “Now out of my way, hmm?”

Nick waved a claw chidingly. “Ah, detective, I think you don’t quite understand…”

The Drapion was caught off guard by what happened next, as the cat suddenly jumped back and reached out with both arms—electricity gathered around his paws, quickly growing in size and intensity before surging forward in a powerful bolt that hit the towering scorpion head-on, causing Nick to roar and stumble back. Rick reacted immediately, launching himself forward like a torpedo and drawing a claw back for a Night Slash.

Tybalt had leapt back as he attacked to give himself time to react when Rick attacked, and he made use of this now, managing to drop to the ground, rolling under the swing and rising quickly to his feet to unfurl his ears and launch a powerful Psychic attack. The Gliscor flailed and yelled as he was tossed into the air and rammed hard against the brick wall of the nearest building, sliding back to the ground with a moan.

Nick had recovered now, and Tybalt barely had time to turn and face him as the Drapion fired a series of needle barrages from its claws. Tybalt yelped in pain as several hit, but his Reflect shielded him against the blows. With an adrenaline fueled burst of speed he managed to jump aside to dodge the third set of needles and unleash another Thunderbolt—this time Nick fully collapsed with a pained yell as Tybalt turned to check Rick, who was starting to rise.

“Care to surrender?” Tybalt offered kindly.

Rick’s response was to leap up and at the cat with a bestial roar. Psychic was difficult to use on an opponent moving at such speed in an uneven way, and Tybalt leapt to the side instead, only narrowly avoiding the Acrobatics attack as Rick slammed into the ground half a second after he had cleared the landing away.

Now his target was stationary again. Tybalt unleashed another Psychic; once again the gargoyle slammed against the wall, once again he slid back down, but this time he did not stand again—Rick’s fighting power was drained and he remained leaned against the wall, groggy. Nick was equally out of strength nearby.

Glancing at the defeated pair, Tybalt shook his head and removed his Pokégear from his satchel to call Security, nursing his sore chest with his spare paw. He’d better eat an Oran berry—it’s a good thing he always kept some spare recovery berries in his satchel. That would dull the pain and keep him going for a while.

*

After that unpleasantness it did not take long to find the lookout, a tall stone watch tower along the shoreline overlooking the docks. Intended as a way to get a better view of the district, it was accessible by an interior stairway spiraling along the wall.

Climbing it, Tybalt found the top was sparse—a set of the chairs in all the standardized sizes and nothing else but the guard railings and the view.

A gust of wind crossed the area and he pulled his coat tighter. Pokémon wearing too much clothing—anything more than accessories--were sometimes teased, but he was very grateful for his coat on days like this; all autumn nights in Everlight were cold—Occeris was a northern continent, after all—but Tybalt felt this was among the colder ones this year.

A second later he heard footsteps and turned to Morgan coming up the stairs, wearing a radio headset and an Assault Vest. He wordlessly handed a bag to Tybalt.

Tybalt already knew what was inside: a radio headset for himself and a light blue sash with the Security emblem and a card identifying him as temporarily acting with limited Republic Security authority—there were other colors as well, each with a different meaning. He put both on, carefully adjusting the set until it was on properly—not a perfect fit for him, but close enough.

“Picked up on the radio you had a little encounter on the way. You okay?” Morgan asked with some concern in his voice.

“Not hurt badly,” Tybalt replied casually.

Morgan shook his head. “You need to stop working alone, Ty. Start going out in a three Pokémon team with Jacob and Tancred, or hire someone else.”

“I’m fine, Morgan. I can’t afford another assistant at the moment, and a three person team is inefficient.”

“Look, you have enemies after some of the jobs you’ve done for me, and some are a lot more dangerous than those bruisers Nick and Rick. If you start getting those exciting cases you want it’ll only get worse. You might even tick off Orodress one of these days and…”

“Is Carrock here yet?” Tybalt interrupted.

“He’s in the air on lookout. He’ll probably see them well before we do. Skarmory see pretty well in the dark, I think. But you’re trying to change the subject.”

“I appreciate you’re still worried about me, Morgan, but my office is hanging on by a string already.”

“Ty, I get that, but I don’t want you to get hurt one of…”

“I see a small trader vessel coming,” rasped a voice over the radio. As Morgan guessed, Carrock had spotted it first. “It’s approaching from the north, quite close to the coastline, towing a small barge. I cannot confirm where it intends to dock or the crew size.”

Morgan sighed in a way suggesting this conversation was not over. “Shall we?” he asked, gesturing to the stairway down.

Tybalt nodded. “We shall."

The two made it to the dock well ahead of the suspects and hid in the office overlooking dock 6. Morgan kneeled down to expose as little of himself to outside view as possible while peeking out the window. Tybalt stood atop a desk table by the window, hiding behind the wall and leaning over to watch.

The boat was a standard type of trader’s vessel, electric powered, tugging a barge big enough to carry a few crates but small enough a one or two Pokémon boat could pull it—intended for fairly short coastal hops, not ocean routes, as it would be in serious trouble if caught in a storm.

Tybalt spotted three crew members—a Panpour, a Timburr, and a Chespin--and four crates in the barge.

They waited. The crew tied the boat to a dock post and the Timburr began unloading the crates one at a time. Before long a short-furred temperate Meowth emerged from the alley between a warehouse and a customs building, and began speaking to the others from the shore in what seemed to be a quite friendly manner.

Morgan and Tybalt nodded to each other.

“Now,” the Cinderace whispered into the radio, and then dashed out with Tybalt right behind.

“This is a Republic Security search! Stand still!” Morgan yelled, as Carrock swooped down and landed hard on the docks. The three by the boat froze up, but the Meowth apparently got these instruction confused in his mind and did the opposite, choosing to run from the dock and flee north along the shore instead. Tybalt gave chase.

The Meowth was fast and managed to stay ahead for a while. His mistake was when he turned left and tried to make it into an alley; Tybalt was able to catch him by using Psychic to shift a dumpster on the street over to block off the escape. As Tybalt closed in on him the smaller cat pressed his back against a nearby wall while gasping for breath. Now that Tybalt was closer he got a better look at the normal type—the Meowth was immaculately groomed, it seemed.

“Maybe you’re new in town, but when you’re told ‘This is a Republic Security search! Stand still!’ you’re not supposed to go for your midnight jog,” Tybalt said helpfully.

“It’s too dark to see the sashes! I thought the boat was being robbed!” the Meowth objected between gasps. Tybalt wasn’t sure he believed him, but figured it would be best to play along for now.

“Fair enough. What’s your relation with the three down at the dock?”

The Meowth seemed to be calmer now. “Well, my friends and I are traders. Cherri—the Chespin—she has a small boat. We figured we’d sail some handiworks down from the northern clans—they fetch a nice price in Everlight; most of the stuff here is all mass-produced and lacks that touch of personal attention, you know? I came ahead of time to make sure we had some buyers lined up before we went to all the effort and expenses.”

“Republic Security received word of illicit cargo coming to this dock tonight,” Tybalt said.

The Meowth seemed surprised. “Is that so? Weird coincidence, huh?”

Then Morgan’s voice came over the radio. “Ty? The containers are full of boxes of wooden and stone carvings, necklaces, toys, and some other hand-made works."

"I assume you already searched under the cases?" Tybalt asked.

"We ain't amateurs, Ty."

The Meowth smiled quite amiably. "See? This is just a late night delivery. No hard feelings, right?" he said, offering Tybalt a paw shake.

Tybalt looked down and tapped his forehead rhythmically. Where would I hide them? Just putting them in the crates is fine if you’re not expecting to be stopped, but they were more careful than that. If the crates are getting checked any satchels, packs, or pockets will be checked too so only idiots would hide them there. Did they hide them somewhere on the boat? Not too much hiding space in these models. Did whoever tipped off Security just make a mistake? Did we get the wrong boat? Did the traders get warned somehow and switch plans at the last minute? There’s nowhere to hide them except…

“How full are the crates?” he asked abruptly.

“Not very,” Morgan replied curiously, “They say they’re independent traders sharing a boat.”

That checked out with what the Meowth said, and would be a good reason for them not to fill the crates, since it would allow each one to keep their stock separate.

It would also make the crates lighter, just in case they were not being supported as well…

“Pry up the bottom of the containers, Morgan. I'd bet my right ear if you measured the container outside then the storage space inside you'd find the bottom seems awful thick."

He knew instantly he was right; the Meowth's eyes widened, his mouth began to quiver, and the color seemed to drain from him before Tybalt's eyes.

"Good guess, Ty," Morgan said a moment later over the radio. "The crates had partially hollowed out bottoms. Technical Records with no licensing code--clever, they're nice and flat and easy to hide down there. That's just the first container, mind you."

The Meowth seemed to recover at that point; his smile returned, though it was no longer a sunny and bright one but that of sly amusement. "All right, fair play, you got me,” he chuckled, removing a checkbook from his side pouch. “What’s the fine for that down here?”

Experienced with smuggling, it seems. Unfortunately for him this isn’t quite the same thing. "Put that away. You’re under arrest,” Tybalt said as he grabbed the startled Meowth by the wrist and started to lead him back towards dock 6.

The normal type seemed stunned. “What?” he yelped, face frozen in shock. “Is this a joke? Smuggling’s a fine. It’s always been a fine.”

“Sorry. The human tech trading ban is a separate offence,” Tybalt said, somewhat sympathetic. It must have seemed like the rules suddenly changed.

Then the Meowth went off like summer festival fireworks.

“Damnit, why are you troubling us when there’s dangerous criminals out there?!” the Meowth yelled. “Is Security behind on its arrest quota or something?! This is ridiculous!”

“Calm down, would you? I didn’t make the law. I’m not even with Security, I’m a private contractor,” Tybalt said.

Oh, I’m sorry! You only work part-time as an enforcer for a bunch of micromanaging control freaks! Things were just fine before the Republic started absorbing everything south of the mountains!”

Tybalt sighed. He felt sure he was going to have a headache by the time they reached the district’s Security station.

It got worse; as they got closer to the dock the Meowth suddenly wrenched his arm free with a burst of unexpected strength and wrapped both of his arms (and his tail) around the nearest street light..

Tybalt buried his face in his paw and emitted a long-suffering groan, then grabbed the Meowth around the waist and tried to pry him off.

Thus began the opposite of an earthshaking clash between titans; a test of strength between two cats each less than a meter tall. Tybalt was larger than the Meowth, but physical strength was not his forte, and although he believed he was still stronger than his adversary, it was not by enough to break the scratch cat’s grip, and so it ultimately became an embarrassingly long match as Tybalt struggled to pull the Meowth away from the post, insisting between grit teeth that they stop resisting while the Meowth firmly rejected this request and yelled numerous curses no doubt learned in various locales during his career as a trader.

“Come on, this is stupid. We won’t let you go if you cling to that thing long enough,” Tybalt protested between grunts of exertion, his voice starting to crack from frustration—he generally deepened it in an attempt to be taken more seriously, but it was rapidly returning to its much higher natural tone as the psychic type’s concentration broke. Finally he released the Meowth and backed off to consider his options.

“Let go of that thing, for heaven’s sake,” he pleaded, his voice fully returned to its natural, soft tone.

He could break the stalemate with Psychic, but that struck him as unnecessarily rough, and it could cause problems for him and Morgan--he had no idea how strong the Meowth was and if a non-violent suspect was badly hurt he’d be in deeper trouble than a Parasect who went skydiving above a volcano. So he called Morgan over the radio; let the person with full authority of Republic Security work this out.

Then he glared at the Meowth, who glared back. Negotiations continued while he waited but with little headway—the Meowth seemed to be approaching it from the angle he could somehow get out of arrest if he came up with a cutting enough insult for the Republic, the Council, or Security, perhaps having misread a particular law at some point, and it was with great relief to Tybalt when he heard Morgan approaching.

"Carrock got the others cuffed to his harness and is leading ‘em off together. Having trouble with this tiny fella?" the lieutenant asked, clearly stifling a chuckle.

"I can’t get him off there without hurting him," Tybalt said, realizing part-way through the sentence that he’d allowed his natural voice to return and fixing it right on time for the word “him”. He suddenly seemed to find an old flyer lying on the ground fascinating, and looked down to examine it and coincidentally hiding a blush of embarrassment. With a shake of his head Morgan walked past him towards the street light. The Meowth flinched nervously as the much larger Pokémon approached and tightened his grip while circling around to put the post between him and the fire-type, but the Cinderace simply knelt down and looked him in the eyes.

"Listen here, little guy," Morgan said gently, "This act's not gonna help you at all. I’m a lot stronger than Ty here so good luck keeping your grip on that thing, and if I absolutely need to I can and will lift you up and carry you the whole way like a misbehaving child. The more trouble you give us now the worse it's gonna look later, okay?"

The Meowth didn't say anything, but looked down at the ground glumly and released the post before he nodded halfheartedly, and put up no resistance when Morgan locked them together with a set of long chained handcuffs.

*

The walk to the dock district’s Security station was uneventful; the Meowth remained silent, staring at the ground most of the time and occasionally shooting up a glance at the buildings around them. The station itself was just like every one of its kind—one floor, large, and square shaped.

Carrock was already inside when they arrived, standing off to the side speaking to a Hypno officer who was taking notes for him. An Illumise desk officer told them the station Captain would want to speak to Morgan for more details on the arrest, and then took the Meowth into a hall leading to the cells. Carrock seemed to finish up, as he nodded to Morgan and walked over to join him and Tybalt.

“I didn’t have any trouble on the way, but the Meowth seemed to drag you two out for a while. Any hint on why?” Carrock asked.

“According to his ID he’s from a small village called Cauli, up near Johland. It joined the Republic eight years ago,” Morgan said.

“Judging by what he shouted it wasn’t a decision he’s happy with,” Tybalt mused.

“Ah, the others were all from the Republic core. That could be it,” Carrock said.

Soon after the station captain—a dour looking Noctowl—emerged from a hallway. He spoke to Morgan and Carrock for a while, all boring procedural questions and answers Tybalt paid little attention to until he overheard one thing at the end.

“Tell the Magistrate there was no trouble, Captain. They all came nice and easy,” Morgan said. Tybalt managed—with great effort—to restrain from a twitch, a sideward glance, or any physical reaction except a barely noticeable flick of his tails easily dismissed by any onlooker as a random movement.

Carrock did not react, of course; the metallic bird had always been competent but… unenthusiastic. He’d see no reason to contradict Morgan.

The captain dismissed them, Morgan saluted, Carrock bowed as best he could, and the three left, Tybalt and Morgan exchanging glances as they exited. Carrock, perhaps sensing the tension, flew off as soon as he had space, muttering a quick goodbye.

“Morgan…”

“You’re coming with me and staying at my place tonight,” Morgan interrupted in a tone that would not brook refusal. “I ain’t letting you walk all the way back to your place at this hour, especially while you’re hurt.”

Tybalt just nodded and followed him--he was not going to refuse.

Besides, they had to talk.

It wasn’t long before the two arrived at Morgan’s small house in the Red district—a wholly residential area that still consisted of smaller houses and gardens instead of the titanic buildings in the inner part of the city--and made their way up the walkway and inside. It was a standard brick built “Pokémon” style home—one large central room branching out to several smaller ones, with only one floor.

Tybalt had been here many times before, and it was always the same; everything was neat and tidy, and the room had a television and couch, a small table, and a quarter-full bookshelf off at a side.

Morgan set off to get a medical kit while Tybalt removed his coat and sat down on the couch to examine where the Pin Missiles had struck. Just some scraping, I think. Nothing serious, he noted.

Morgan arrived right after with the medical kit. Cleaning, disinfecting (Tybalt was almost able to hold in his pained squeak as it was applied), and wrapping the injury did not take long, though Morgan’s continued lecture on Tybalt needing to look after himself was only partly appreciated, as Tybalt insisted (in his regular voice--he had known Morgan before inventing his "business" tone) he would be fine.

Then they sat together on the couch, Morgan idly turning the television on to the late night news. They were silent for some time as the popular Midrevious anchor Raea discussed an upcoming concert in the Market district, a recent theft from the museum in the Soaring Heights district, and an upcoming debate between two political experts on the ramification of a recent tax code change on next year’s election. Neither spoke at all for some time.

“So what was that back at the station?” Tybalt finally asked.

Morgan turned the television off. "That was reporting an arrest for breaking the human artifact trading ban, of course.”

“You know what I mean. He earned resisting arrest charges and you act like he turned himself in, paws wringing in anxious guilt," Tybalt replied, questioning but not accusatory.

"What a surprise! Some trader caught by Security over a law pushed through just over a year ago thought it carried the same penalty as pretty much the same crime and panicked when he found out otherwise? Scandalous! Ty, whatever some of the prisses on the Council think I see no reason to flatten the little guy over something this. If the Council doesn’t like it? Screw ‘em, they can strip me of my sash. The Chief agrees with me."

"I get what you’re saying, but there’s a certain danger to Security officers tilting things in the direction they prefer," Tybalt said. “Regardless of how little you care for the human artifact…wait,” he glanced up suspiciously. “Morgan, did you volunteer for this mission so you could give a nice report to the captain and get them off easy?” And you brought me because you know I wouldn’t say anything.

Morgan just smiled at him.

This was just why they’d broken up.

Still, he was in no mood for round fourteen of this argument; he rose, the two exchanged brief goodnight wishes, and he retired to one of the two spare bedrooms Morgan had—the first time, he reflected, that he had stayed over at Morgan’s and used one of them.

The bedroom was nice enough—nicer than the one he had at home, to be frank, having a feather bed with warm Wooloo wool blankets, and Tybalt had barely pulled the cover over his body before he fell asleep.
 
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Well I said I was going to read this eventually, but was waiting for you to update it like you said. But I was bored today and didn't feel like anything recent, so here we go with reading the first Magic Act.

- Ah, Sylvia! I remember her.
- Well where else would the Red Leaf association find a thing but outside Red Leaf?
- Robots in a sort of Mystery Dungeon world?! I'll take em!
- Referencing the old human civilization again.
- What's Sylvia's justification in coming to that conclusion? She doesn't state why she thinks it's Pokemon built in the human style.
- Well yes the window is broken, how do they think the Dustox got in?
- A better sign the place is abandoned? I feel that's awkward wording.
- It's a bit strange to state that part about the unbeknownst trick in just narration, probably better for one of them to realize it themselves.
- Makes me wonder, with these things, if the humans warred themselves to death
- Well if it's like being hit by a Zap Cannon shouldn't she have Cheri Berries too?
- How would you sneak around a drone like that? When it presumably has all sorts of ways to detect you.
- I get the feeling Republic Security is corrupt as all hell. And given the one shot, Pokemon society isn't that much different from human society, and not in a good way.
- Unique way of writing Flash. Also wouldn't that have alerted the drone seeing a big flash from below? Guess not.
- So is the place human made or not? We have a baseless claim it's not, and seemingly human art that suggests otherwise. Or at least were stolen and hauled...all the way out here and left, for some reason.
- Reminds me too, these drones don't seem to require much in the way of maintenance or fuel.
- Alarmed beeping implies they can feel emotion. Maybe they can.
- Maybe it was a mix of both makes. Also, clothes? I guess some Pokemon would wear them, but with all the different body styles, I'm wondering what kind and size of clothes?
- One tiny inconsistency, you use both long dashes and double small dashes. I imagine your word processor just didn't catch them, though.
- Ah so the drones can refuel themselves. I'd imagine they might still break down though
- Something about a Weavile going all googly and awe over treasure in a a safe amuses me
- Pokemon security is terrible. Especially when any decently strong attack can rip through anything
- insert zelda chest music here
- You know I do wonder, if in this society, Poke Balls are used by kidnappers? An interesting though.
- Definitely get the feeling the Republic is more like a People's Republic. I know some of the negative opinion is coming from biased explorers, but still can't shake the feeling there's actual reason behind it.
- Funny seeing Sylvia nostalgia out like this. Always enjoy normally badass characters able to act normal.
- Magic act?! Shoutouts to the title!
- Heh heh heh. Loopholes!
- So they found pirated DVDs? And are pirating them themselves? ;p
- You know it suddenly occurs to me, now that I get it, but why would they name themselves after Red and Leaf?
- Aha, an antagonist, or at least a rival.
- I do wonder if they'll even be allowed out of the business...

So an interesting start! Liked what I read, just like in the one-shot. I'll definitely be back to read the second part in the next couple days or so. Hope to see more of this eventually!
 

Daren

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Thanks for your review, I really appreciate it! :)
- Ah, Sylvia! I remember her.
This takes place about seven years after Heist in Acorn hall, for reference.

- Robots in a sort of Mystery Dungeon world?! I'll take em!
I wanted to include some of the Sci-fi tech we get hints of in the games and see more explicitly in the anime (though this is not the anime's setting). The droids in particular were inspired by drones seen in the Destiny Deoxys film.

- Referencing the old human civilization again.
- Makes me wonder, with these things, if the humans warred themselves to death
The story will eventually feature a Pokémon who was alive back then...but they were in the wild when "it" happened. They have their own theories, though!

- What's Sylvia's justification in coming to that conclusion? She doesn't state why she thinks it's Pokemon built in the human style.
It's her comment afterwards; humans disappeared long enogh ago that the house would be in a much worse state if it was that old.

- It's a bit strange to state that part about the unbeknownst trick in just narration, probably better for one of them to realize it themselves.
I agree with you in retrospect.

- How would you sneak around a drone like that? When it presumably has all sorts of ways to detect you.
This is very much a pulpy sci-fi droid like you'd see in a very old film. Sensors that only see directly ahead and everything. ;)

- I get the feeling Republic Security is corrupt as all hell. And given the one shot, Pokemon society isn't that much different from human society, and not in a good way.
You can see a bit of Republic Security in the second chapter (or the first part of "Everlight Stories", if you prefer!).
That said, I'll note that in "Heist in Acorn Hall" Preston mentioned Silverstream (the main place we saw) was not part of the Republic.

- So is the place human made or not? We have a baseless claim it's not, and seemingly human art that suggests otherwise. Or at least were stolen and hauled...all the way out here and left, for some reason.
Sylvia's rummination about the owner gives a hint about what likely happened; she guesses the owner was some sort of crimal. Most likely they were arrested (or died) on a heist that went very, very wrong.

- Alarmed beeping implies they can feel emotion. Maybe they can.
They're not sapient; the beeping is to alert it's owner something is amiss.

- One tiny inconsistency, you use both long dashes and double small dashes. I imagine your word processor just didn't catch them, though.
Yep, my word processor sometimes merges into long dashes and sometimes doesn't, and I don't always catch it.

- You know I do wonder, if in this society, Poke Balls are used by kidnappers? An interesting though.
What an interesting thought...;)

- Definitely get the feeling the Republic is more like a People's Republic. I know some of the negative opinion is coming from biased explorers, but still can't shake the feeling there's actual reason behind it.
I'll mention that Sylvia in particular is biased as hell in this regard; and there's a reason even she called them "busybodies" instead of something stronger.

- You know it suddenly occurs to me, now that I get it, but why would they name themselves after Red and Leaf?
I'm gonna level; that is a complete coincidence. It was just supposed to have a Pokémon-style city name of the "two words together" type, like Fallarbor town, Oresburgh city, etc.

Hope to see more of this eventually!
Thank you!
The story is not dead and I have been working on it (non linearly) since the last update. Next chapter has just been sitting at an annoying "85% done" ratio because I had a knot to cut in that chapter (but cut it is), partly because I wanted to get some more thorough roadmapping done to avoid messing up a few plot details.
 

System Error

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Okay been ages but felt like reading the next chapter so I did over the past two days, although commentary might be a bit delirious in places.

- So if a marriage was consummated in Everlight would it be Sex in The City?
- Well Cute is one of the things not Tough in Contests
- I wonder what written language is like in Pokemon, especially without opposable thumbs
- Poke Junk Food is prolly something all right
- Well I hope this Dedenne does not have a brother
- No wonder he needs generosity if he blows all his cash on partying
- Why bitter with grim Pokemon? Calm, Careful, Sassy, and Gentle like that. Certainly not what I'd consider grim.
- The Poke Council banning insta tutors...still very sus.
- Hm, so it's new. Interesting
- Politics are the same wherever you may go
- And of course the others get the easy jobs
- What a day, I imagine he thinking
- There are so many challenges with big varied Pokemon colonies I sometimes wonder why they're a thing
- Oh so Pokegears are allowed but not other human tech?
- What a pleasant pair of fellows
- There was a bit of confusion around who was speaking in this section, particularly due to a quote that didn't close but led to a new speaker
- For all his reluctance Tybalt is pretty hardboiled
- Well hopefully Morgan doesn't need to do anything but attack. Wonder how manmade assault vests even prevent those and why they're still legal
- Detectiveness is a dangerous job indeed
- Apparently??? He trying not to get busted
- This dude is still sus, and Tybalt seems to realize
- Ha, Tybalt has the tough, but he don't got the voice
- Hm, from the sounds of it, it sounds like there may be merit to the Republic swallowing up all the land
- Almost seems like the Pokemon just decided to adopt human customs like massive apartments. And if they adopted their politics
- Broken up? I am assuming that meant as business partners
- WOOLOO BLANKETS. FROM POKEMON, BY POKEMON. ACCEPT NO HUMAN SUBSTITUTE

More worldbuilding, and hey, from a recent post you seem to be making progress on this too. Looking forward to the next chapter, whenever it may be.
 

Daren

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- Oh so Pokegears are allowed but not other human tech?
- Well hopefully Morgan doesn't need to do anything but attack. Wonder how manmade assault vests even prevent those and why they're still legal
To elaborate a little, the ban covers human-made tech, but Pokémon-made successors are perfectly fine (unless they use human-made parts or such that are banned but nobody is gonna open up your modern Pokégear to see if it's using human-made chips)--in general if you see someone openly use something like that you can assume it's a new variant on old tech.

For assault vests I actually assume the "only one move" thing isn't a physical property of assault vests but a league rule.

- Hm, from the sounds of it, it sounds like there may be merit to the Republic swallowing up all the land
To be fair it's less "age of sail colonialism" and more "rapidly getting towns and villages to join up as member states"; they mentioned that Cauli village joined the Republic (and it wasn't a euphemism for violent conquest or anything).

- Almost seems like the Pokemon just decided to adopt human customs like massive apartments. And if they adopted their politics
To some extent--a lot of the worldbuilding is informed by the idea of taking what we see in the Mystery Dungeon games but having some places that have moved beyond the "town" level in that game and moved out to major cities and large-scale governments, and everything that comes with those.
For my part I figure a lot of it descends from trained Pokémon trying to cling to a facimile of their old life after humans vanished.

- Broken up? I am assuming that meant as business partners
Well, I'll note he thought that Morgan was "more than a friend" earlier.
Tybalt's bisexual and they dated in the past.

- WOOLOO BLANKETS. FROM POKEMON, BY POKEMON. ACCEPT NO HUMAN SUBSTITUTE
The realization that some species could get by selling their own wool or similar amused me too much for me to not throw that bit in.
 
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AetherX

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Hey there. This hasn't updated in a while, but nothing says it's abandoned and I've gone longer without updating myself so I thought I'd leave my thoughts here anyway. I really like the idea of the structure. I'm a big believer in episodic stuff for fanfic, and the two stories that will eventually collide is always a fun concept.

So I read both chapters, but my comments are on the first since the broad-strokes feedback is pretty much the same. First off, a specific thing:

...Sylvia and Etain had finally located their mark.

The Weavile and Pikachu pair was lying flat atop a tiny hill in the woods...

Are the Weavile and Pikachu Sylvia and Etain or their mark? I feel like I lack the grammatical vocabulary to describe what I mean here, but there's some mildly confusing subject shifts like this throughout (particularly when it comes to the narrative referring to something with different names). I see it a lot in Pokemon fic since people like to refer to Pokemon characters by both name and species, which I don't hate since I can be dumb and forget species when a character is recently introduced, but it can be kind of confusing or awkward anyway. I'd recommend reading through and pretending you're very dumb and seeing if anything might be confusing. This is helpful because some readers (ie me) are very dumb.

There's also something else I noticed a few times. At the risk of sounding preachy, it comes down to "show, don't tell." You've got a cool world with a lot of depth that you've clearly put a lot of thought into. But too much of that detail is given through exposition. Sometimes that's necessary, I admit. I'm not totally opposed to exposition where needed. But let's look at the first scene. Almost as soon as the story starts, right when gripping the reader is most important, we get like three or four paragraphs talking about the Dustox that gave them the tip. Entering the house, destroying the drone, and finding the "treasure" were all engaging and exciting moments. That's where the focus should be. Almost everything that I as a reader learned in those Dustox paragraphs could have been evenly and neatly peppered into the description of the subsequent scene(s) without me having any issues following the story. The bit about the Dustox trying to find shelter could have been mentioned in passing when they bring up having to confirm it's abandoned. The bit about the drone could have been included when they actually locate the drone (or when they fight it). The stuff about human technology could have been explained when they actually find the tech stash. Explaining those things in those moments rather than all at the beginning would help the story get into the action much faster as well as add some suspense and intrigue moment to moment. Same deal with Etain's hangups about being an adventurer. The events of the chapter could have driven those home rather than just being told outright at the end.

Anyway, I hope you keep up with this story if it's still one you're interested in writing. I enjoyed reading it. Hope you got something out of this review regardless.
 

Daren

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Thanks for the review! I've actually been working on it since the last update but personal issues I won't get into have greatly slowed my writing speed down. Next chapter is very close to done though and I'm just going through a final editing phase.
At the risk of sounding preachy, it comes down to "show, don't tell."
You are very correct and working on that is one of the things that has delayed updating.
 
Chapter 3

Daren

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Pokémon Magic Act, Part 2


Early July, 318AC


Teleportation was always a little disconcerting, but Etain and Sylvia had experienced the sensation enough to recover quickly as they appeared on the Red Leaf Adventurer’s Association headquarters arrival pad—which was just a raised stone platform in a fenced off yard out back with a wooden sign instructing people to stay clear of it to avoid accidents.

The Red Leaf headquarters was a brick-made structure of only one (very tall floor) but of significant length and width—the only larger structure in Red Leaf was the arena. A few other smaller buildings were on the lot, most notably the Red Leaf Adventurer’s Club that was semi-detached to the main structure.

The two Pokémon agreed to meet back up outside the headquarters in two hours and then separated to wash up and drop their equipment and recovered items off, and the afternoon was well underway when they regrouped outside the Association and set off together to visit Bress’ place to find out the value of the recovered data—and whether or not he could create the item Etain had found the data for.

Red Leaf was a bustling market town, and during good weather it was often enjoyable to just walk through the streets, chatting with passersby and shopkeepers, stopping to perhaps buy a snack or cheap trinket from the various stalls and kiosks. It was also the winter home for the surrounding area, and once the fall began to wane the town’s population would swell to more than double its spring size as nearby villagers, farmers, and nomads came to spend the cold season.

The town was minuscule compared to Everlight City down south, but most of the residents thought it was exactly the right size—big enough to have a sizable market and plenty of amenities, but small enough to avoid feeling crowding and impersonal; plus it was a good, Pokémon-style town with only a few important buildings having multiple stories and absolutely no towers that stabbed into the sky, or overly large manors blocking the beautiful view of the nearby fields, hills, and river.

Etain and Sylvia took a slow walk through the marketplace, stopping to speak briefly with a few familiar passersby or merchants, looking over some of the kiosks and stalls and buying up a handful of cheap trinkets (more out of a show of support than anything) as they went, but it was still not long before they reached Bress’ shop just as a Spearow carrying a full-looking pack in their talons fluttered out the entrance and past them.

The inside was of the shop was arranged neatly: rows of shelves that were stocked with various mechanical, electronic, medicinal, and other types of goods all in their own labelled sections, and Bress’ Master-grade certification from the Everlight City Science and Engineering Board was proudly displayed on the far wall above a door way leading back farther into the building. Bress himself must have been there at the moment as his young Salandit apprentice was the one minding the counter.

“Good afternoon, Miss Sylvia, Miss Etain,” the Salandit said with a polite bow of his head. “How can I assist you today?”

“Hi, Antonius. We actually need to see Bress; we have some old human data he might be interested in,” Sylvia said.

“And I want to see if he can make me a special commission,” Etain added.

The Salandit nodded and pressed a small buzzer on the counter to alert the owner. "Something special, huh?” he said curiously. “Maybe Bress will let me work on this one?"

"You only recently finished your first Muscle Band and you’re already raring to go on a special project?" called the amused voice of Bress the Buizel as he emerged from the door behind the counter, wearing his welding goggles and a protective safety coat.

“Well, nice to see you two today. Antonius, I need you to pick up some supplies at the market; potions are selling faster than usual and I won’t have enough for tomorrow if I don’t get more ingredients," he said, handing the lizard a small sheet of paper.

With a brief nod the Salandit walked out from around the counter and left, breaking into a quadrupedal dash after he exited. Bress smiled as he left before turning his attention to the customers. "Now, how can I help the two of you? I may mention that I just finished some high-performance grappling guns the other day, if you’re interested in something to make climbs a bit easier. Fire fast, high precision, and they’re very strong—the wire can hold the weight of an average Rhydon."

“I might look at that sometime,” Sylvia said, “But for now we have some human data discs we’d like to sell—and Etain is hoping you could create an item described on one of them.”

Bress did not ask any questions as the two handed him the discs—he was almost naively trusting, but he was too well-liked for many to take advantage—but his real interest was piqued when Etain explained the move copying device she hoped he could build.

“Well, I’ll need to look the discs over,” he said, turning them around one at a time and looking them over—and Sylvia felt for a split second that a look of uncertainty seemed to come over him, but it was gone instantly. “Come back tomorrow morning—or an hour or so after closing tonight, if you prefer,” the Buizel said. Etain agreed and the three exchanged farewells before the two adventurers left.

"Well, hopefully those discs will make that last expedition worth something,” Sylvia muttered as they walked away from the shop, linking her claws together and stretching her arms out above her head. “I'm going home to sleep the sunlight away then hitting the club for the night—hopefully the hunters have brought some decent meat in today because I am not in the mood to settle for a fruit and vegetable dinner. You?”

“I think I’ll visit one of the theatres for the afternoon,” Etain said. “Have fun at the club, Syl."

"Oh, I will. Enjoy the shows and try to swing by the club after you see Bress if you can. I’d like to know if you’ll be changing your mind on heading north with me or not.”

*

Etain decided to spend the rest of the daylight in the Golden Bough, Red Leaf’s best entertainment choice for those on a budget—a ticket got you in all day, there were plenty of films (both old human ones and new Pokémon created ones) and live acts, and even a dinner theatre room.

Still, despite a number of high quality films, shorts, and acts playing today (alongside the usual deluge of lower-quality ones there to pad out the time block) Etain anxiously kept an eye on the clock all afternoon and exited just as the sun began to set to makes her way back to Bress’ place.

This time she approached the back door which led to the residential section of the Buizel’s building, taking hold of the lowest of the four knockers and rapped it against the door; a few seconds later the door to Bress’ living room opened and the Water-type politely inviting her in, now dressed in a little blue coat instead of his safety gear.

“I made some tea, if you’d like any,” he said quietly as they sat down at his coffee table, though Etain politely refused—something seemed off, she noted. He was trying to hide it but the Buizel seemed nervous in tone—probably nothing to do with her, in any case. Clearing his throat, Bress quickly got down to business.

“So, those discs you found are quite valuable,” he said after a quick drink. “The data and blueprints are very interesting—and rather exciting! A lot of it is outside my specialties, but I do know the Science board would be interested, and I’m empowered to make an offer on its behalf. I imagine Sylvia will see me tomorrow, but for your share I can offer…” he handed the mouse a price sheet, which she looked over quickly and nodded. It’s not like she had any other offers or any contacts she could sell it to. Bress cleared his throat before continuing.

“Now, I’m sure you want to know about that commission. It is a very interesting device. It seems to create move energy and store it so that a Pokémon to use it even without knowing the move themselves. Amazing little machine, but I can guess at why nobody ever found a functioning copy.”

“Why?” Etain asked.

“Firstly, reviewing how it works I am convinced the energy will be unstable—I suspect it would dissipates on its own after just a few minutes, even if the move isn’t used. I would assume it never went into full production for that reason. Secondly, it needs Pokémon energy to function, just like a Life Orb. Which leads to a third problem. The price to build one is…high.”

Bress sighed as he withdrew another small sheet of paper from his coat pocket and handed it to the mouse. With a sudden sense of foreboding Etain glanced down to read the figure, and as she finished her eyes widened like plates and her paws unclenched, sending the paper fluttering to the ground. She knew it wouldn’t be cheap but was not expecting this price.

"I’m sorry, I need the same rare type of crystal that’s used to make a Life Orb, and the only mine those crystals came from in Occeris ran dry over a hundred years ago, and god knows how hard is it to get any from over the eastern ocean. The only way I’m aware to get one now is to take it from an existing Life Orb, and those are very expensive.”

“I see…” Etain said quietly.

“You know, I’m willing to let you to pay it off in installments over a few years,” Bress offered.

Etain nodded. That certainly made this possible, if still expensive.

“Thanks, Bress. So one last question: how long before you could get my project finished, assuming I agreed tomorrow morning?” Etain asked.

Bress considered that for a moment. “I need to prepare the fireworks and some other attractions for the winter festival, and combined with my regular work and the rare components I’ll need to order from Lodestrom and Everlight I’m afraid that in all likelihood it’ll be sometime next year.”

Etain nodded—it was not great news, but she couldn’t do anything about it. “I guess I’ll head to the Adventurer’s Club and think things over.”

“I may just join you there after I finish up a bit of work here.”

Business concluded, he gave her a signed cheque for the data disc, they shook paws, and she left.

As soon as Etain was gone Bress walked into his private office/bedroom, put on some reading glasses, and sat down at his work desk.

Hoping to take his mind off a recent concern Bress turned on a music player (a rare piece of technology in this area) that was lying on his desk and tried to sketch out some ideas for a personal project of his--attempting to recreate a human-made reusable Technical Machine. He spent some time on this task, tapping a pencil against the desk thoughtfully and writing down notes while poring over a colleague’s research paper he’d recently received on late human era TMs when a sudden jolt of remembrance struck and he stood up and walked over to his filing cabinets.

*

The Red Leaf Adventurer’s Club was a wooden hall divided by walls between a bar, a game room, and a communal meeting room. It wasn’t the most easily missed of buildings and on most nights you can hear it well before you see it. It had two main rules: no kids, and no trouble.

Etain entered the building, an act which would allow anyone doing so for the first time to immediately be capable of making an informed decision as to whether they wished to stay or would prefer to cut a quick retreat and look for a different place to spend an hour or so.

Firstly, although there was no electric lighting it did have a great many wide, short windows, lanterns, and even a fireplace. Those who prefered a lower level of lighting may prefer to look elsewhere.

Secondly, the clientele were mostly the loud and boisterous sort, and a significant number were adventurers, adventurer-adjacent in some way, or adventurer hopefuls (though the club was technically open to the public few availed themselves of this opportunity); many of them were bearing scars they would be pleased to describe the origin of, though the details of the story may change a little each day.

At any time there were numerous card games going on, jokes being told, and conversations flowing, and as a general rule anyone wishing to sit down at a table to join in would be accepted, and ultimately this was a place where you usually found what you were looking for—unless it was peace and quiet since there was no chance for those. Looking for a hearty meal and cheap drinks? You’d find it. Want to hear an exciting (and probably far-fetched) adventure story? You’d find it. Want some advice from an old veteran? You’d find it. Just want some friendly companionship for a time? You’d find it.

And if you were foolish enough to be looking for trouble you’d get double what you were hoping for.

Etain exchanged loud greetings as she walked through the clubhouse until she neared the end of the main bar room and spotted Sylvia in the game room, engaged in darts with Celia the Granbull, a group of cheering spectators watching.

The match seemed very even with the board being pinned thoroughly with numerous tiny missiles, but Sylvia won when she managed a bullseye to a mixture of groans and cheers as bets were paid out, after which the two competitors banged their claws together in a show of good sport and Celia sat down a few seats away to exchange adult-only jokes with some friends.

Sylvia spotted the mouse right after and waved her over, pulling over a pair of stools appropriately sized for each of them.

“My treat—or perhaps I should call it Celia’s treat,” Sylvia told Etain with a grin before ordering juice and chips for them with a quick claw gesture to the bartending Kadabra.

“Did they have any good meat in today?” Etain asked.

“I must have done something good recently because they had fresh venison. How was the theater?”

“They had some good shows on—and a ton of news reels about the election.”

Sylvia rolled her eyes at that. She was not a Republic citizen and was tired of being barraged by political ads in the theatre and the numerous signs and fliers being scattered around every town and village.

“Any ‘adventure’ shorts?” Sylvia asked, smirking with amusement.

“When isn’t there?" Etain said, grinning as well. "This time we had four ‘experts’ going into a crumbling fortress with only a single Escape orb between the whole group, and naturally they drop it into a crevice and didn’t bring any rope to recover it, none of them knew how to use Flash or Dig, and they each had exactly one Oran berry.”

Sylvia snorted with laughter. “If more of us acted like that we’d need to replace the memorial wall with a memorial building”.

“On the plus side the Cinccino playing one of them was quite nice on the eyes…”

“So you’ll try to catch the next part in a week?”

“You know it.”

Just then their order arrived quite literally, floating over through the air and gently setting down on the bar, and after downing her drink in one go Sylvia asked the important question.

“So…how’d it go with Bress?”

“It could have gone better,” Etain muttered. “He can make it but he needs a Life Orb to. It’d drain my savings.”

Sylvia winced in sympathy. She liked to think if she’d had one she’d give it to the mouse…but she wasn’t sure, and decided to drive away a sudden guilty feeling by continuing the discussion.

“So, are you still going into magic full time or are you staying on as an adventurer?” she asked as she signalled for another drink. “You know I’m more than happy to keep working with you.”

“I don’t know…” Etain said.

Sylvia took a bite out of her bread. “You’re good at this, you know. You’ve saved my ass a few times. Tossing it away for something uncertain is just as risky as adventuring in its own way, and I swear I can practically feel the treasure up north calling to us.”

Etain looked down at the counter as she considered this a moment, but shook her head.

“How much has changed since this afternoon? All the reasons I’m thinking about getting out are still there, aren’t they?” she said steadily. “Sure, the road looks rougher than expected...but how many times have we seen that? Remember the mission to Gusty Town?”

“How could I forget?” Sylvia muttered. Sylvia had never forgiven only being paid thirty five thousand Poké for that near fatal mission.

“Besides,” Etain continued, “It seems if I give up now it means I’ve lost the nerve to keep adventuring anyways.”

Sylvia smiled at that. “Well, I can see the reason there. I guess I’ll be first to congratulate you. I’m behind you a hundred and twenty percent,” she said, to vocal agreement and light clapping from some of the other members who had been listening in with varying levels of subtlety ranging from Mia the Scraggy impassively drinking on the other end of the bar counter while hearing every word to Orean the Rhyperior, who was seated at a table directly across and had spun his chair around to stare intently and had occasionally hemmed at what was said.

Etain smiled at the Dark-type. “Thanks, Syl. And thanks, everyone else,” she added loudly to a few chuckles. “You’ve all been great partners over the years!” to which there were some claps and the sound of drink glasses being clanged against the bar.

The mouse began trying to plan the next few days out over the din as a few Pokémon shouted for an impromptu retirement party. She’d arrange a meeting with an officer tomorrow to get things with the Association worked out—she’d put the request in tonight, although there was no chance she’d get in before tomorrow.

“You should do a show to kick it off, Etain!” came the booming voice of Orean. “Book an amateur’s night at the Red Leaf Open Theatre, We’ll all come and cheer you on!”

The proposal was seconded by Vern the Butterfree and carried there by seemingly unanimous acclamation and more drinking cups banged against whatever was handy when she heard a small voice trying to call out near the entrance.

“Pardon me, can anymore point me to Miss Etain?”

Etain looked back towards the entrance. Bress had entered, looking about and trying to find a tiny mouse in a room full of much larger creatures.

“Over here, Bress!” Etain shouted.

The inventor received a polite welcome as he made his way through the building, though as he reached the bar the Water-type looked around and saw that there were no seats sized for him that were currently unoccupied, then looked warily at a larger stool nearby.

His attempt to climb onto it proved a struggle he may have been unequal to until Sylvia reached down and allowed the Buizel to grasp onto her wrist so she could lift him up and onto the seat. He thanked her politely and then turned to face Etain.

“Have you made a decision?” he asked.

“I’ve decided I’m going through with it.”

Bress nodded. “In that case I’d like to offer you my best wishes, and a little present,” the water type said as he reached into his satchel and removed a data disc labelled “The Book of Tricks, By Martin the Majestic.

The mouse took the disc, turning it about in her paws and looking at it.

“Iit’s the full text of a human-era book on magic tricks,” Bress explained. “I’ve been digitizing my collection of human writings for a while now--some of them are in such a frail state, you understand, it would be a shame to lose them. A while after you left I suddenly remembered I had this one.”

“Thank you so much!” she said.

“It’s really no trouble, Etain! It only took a minute to print off this copy. Besides, I’m quite curious to see how some of those tricks look when they’re performed,” he added with a smile.

*

Etain visited the Association headquarters early the next morning and after half an hour was directed into the members-only wing and led to a small office where Yasu the Delphox was sitting down at the desk. The Fire-type was sitting up rigidly at a desk with his wand lying extinguished nearby, a pen in his paws and a spread of papers lying in front of him, one of which Etain recognized as her membership file.

Etain was glad to see he was the officer on duty today; they were on friendly terms and Yasu had given her a great deal of vital advice when she had started out.

The two exchanged quick greetings as the mouse climbed onto the large couch set up in front of the desk (it was easier than keeping numerous chairs of different sizes in every office) .

“So, you may have heard by now that I’ve decided to stop adventuring,” Etain said.

“Yeah, Sylvia swung by my house and filled me in last night. Damn shame to lose you, but I understand your decision—most of us gotta get out of this business eventually, right? Your dues are paid off for a few months, so I assume you want me to knock you off the mailing list and note that you’re not renewing?”

The mouse nodded, then spoke, “While I’m here: I dropped by the Red Leaf Open Theatre and found a date I could rent a stage—nineteenth hour, August eighth. Think you can make it?”

“Consider my calendar cleared,” Yasu happily said as he finished jotting down notes on Etain’s membership file, and then the fire-type leaned back and smiled wistfully. “We’ve had some good jobs together, you and me. Remember when we got cornered by that warlord up by Silverport?”

Etain smiled—that had been a rather large mission involving over a dozen adventurers. “I thought we were screwed when his fighters caught us is in that storage room and said if we didn’t tell them everything about the town’s defenses they’d force it out of us…then you just laughed and said ‘so you’re saying we have nothing to lose?’ and lit the entire room up with Flamethrower!”

The two laughed at the memory.

“Gods, yes!” Yasu said. “They didn’t really consider how much flammable material was in that room. The look in their eyes as they fled screaming for their lives! I imagine they thought we were insane—and I suppose they weren’t wrong, were they? Ah, thank the gods for quick thinking and reckless fortune! But of course you’ve worked with me enough to know that I always pulls through,” he finished with a confident grin.

Etain liked Yasu but his bravado grated, even if he was almost as good as he thought he was.

“Thanks for everything over the years, Yasu, I’ll see you around,” she said, leaping from the couch and leaving; she had to get back to her apartment and start writing letters. At the very least Etain figured her folks would be quite happy to learn she was getting out of ‘that ridiculously dangerous line of work’ and would let everyone else back home know too once they found out, and she had a few friends living outside Cauli who deserved to know as well.

*

Far south of Red Leaf was Caerma town, capitol of the Caerma Republic (even if its size and wealth had been eclipsed in recent years by Everlight City).

At the moment a number of Pokémon were sitting in the central plaza, off to the sides so as to not interrupt traffic, waiting for others to finish their business in any of the numerous stores and offices here.

Of interest was a Flygon outside an impressive marble building that was the Trader’s guild.

The dragon was looking up idly while he hummed to himself, a tune nobody nearby could recognize.

“Hello!” squeaked a tiny voice.

Looking down the Flygon saw an Emolga—very small even for an Emolga, certainly a young child—standing in front of him and gazing up curiously.

“Who’re you?” she asked.

“I’m Finn of Mauville,” the Flygon said with a polite bow of his head, his voice strangely soft for a creature his size. “Who do I have the pleasure of addressing?”

“I’m Sarah of Tinavil.”

“I’m very pleased to meet you, Sarah. Are your parents nearby, Sarah?”

“Mom’s somewhere; she took me here to go shopping ‘cause I’m grown up now, but she’s having a boring talk with the clerk so I slipped away to see the town. What are you, mister Finn? I’ve never seen anyone like you.”

“I’m a Flygon,” the dragon answered. “My line isn’t native to this area, so it’s no wonder you’ve never met another one. There may only be a dozen of us or so on the whole continent.”

“Where’d you come from?”

“A place called Hoenn. Perhaps you’ve heard of it?” he asked.

“Hoenn? I don’t think so. Is it far away?”

“Oh, yes.”

“Even farther away than Everlight City?”

Much farther. In fact I needed to cross the southern sea to get here,” Finn said.

“Really?” Sarah asked skeptically. “Well, bye-bye,” she said, turning to take flight.

Casting a quick glance to the sky, Finn saw the Caerma Republic flags above the guild hall flapping about in the powerful wind, and recalled how easily an inexperienced flier can veer completely off course in such conditions.

“Certainly it was a difficult trip,” he said, interrupting as Sarah seemed about to take to the sky. “Why don’t I tell you about Hoenn?”

The Emolga’s eyes flashed at that—the exciting idea of hearing all about a continent across the sea her friends had probably never even heard of!—and she nodded and sat down.

“Well, as I said, Hoenn is far to the south, and much warmer than here. In fact there was a great desert in the middle of it, not far from my hometown of Mauville.”

“Were there lots of different types of Pokémon in Hoenn?”

“Yes; though not so many as there are here.”

“Do you think I could go to Mauville when I’m bigger?” Sarah asked.

Finn’s smiled sagged slightly. “Ah, well…Mauville is…”

“Sarah?! Sarah where are you!” came a panicked yell from above.

Looking up Finn saw an older Emolga flying around hastily, looking about and continuing to shout fearfully.

“I think you’ve worried your mother; it would be best to rejoin her,” Finn said gently, the momentary doubt on his face gone as if never there.

“Yeah…” Sarah muttered, looking at the ground uncomfortably.

“Down here, miss!” Finn shouted, instantly attracting the mother Emolga, who flew down and glared at the child.

“Sarah! What got into you, flying off?!”

Finn felt a twinge of sympathy as she child was berated, a laundry list of possible accidents and problems paraded.

“And to go bothering this stranger…”

“That’s perfectly fine,” Finn insisted. “She was delightful company while I waited for my friend to finish his business.”

“Well, thank you for keeping an eye on her. Come along, Sarah,” the mother said tersely as she led her daughter away by the paw, the child exchanging polite waves with Finn. The dragon leaned back and shook his head.

*

Soon after he heard the creak of the Trader’s Guild doors opening; turning his neck he saw a small Meowth emerge, looking discontent, grumbling to himself while his tail curled and uncurled rapidly. Finn stood, stretched his arms, and addressed the Meowth.

“Did it not go well, Dermot?”

“My trading license is reinstated, but with heavy restrictions for the next year,” the cat said unhappily. Looking about furtively, he added in a quiet voice “Can we talk somewhere more private?”

The dragon nodded. “Shall we head back to our room, then?”

“As good a place as any,” Dermot said.

It took some time to reach the little inn—it was on the southern outskirts of town, while the Trader’s Guild was right in the heart of town—but the sun was still bright in the sky when they arrived. It was a cheap little establishment with two dozen rooms in four size classes, all accessed through external doors, though they did all offer nice views of the beach.

The room they rented was small, but had enough space for Dermot to curl up on his own cushions off to the side while the Flygon took the bed (sharing a bed was not considered unusual in Pokémon society but Dermot had observed that the Flygon tossed and rolled about while sleeping and didn’t want to risk being flattened).

After sitting down by the table (being a room mostly rented to larger Pokémon the Meowth had to stack a good number of his cushions to reach the tabletop) Dermot elaborated on his discussion with the Trader’s guild.

“So as I’ve said before, when a member is arrested their license is automatically revoked and they need to come to headquarters to get it reinstated. What I was unaware of was that process comes with a free lecture on civic responsibility from a Kecleon who got rich enough for his Trader’s Guild board seat by selling food at extortionate prices during the western drought a decade back.”

Finn tapped his claw against the table at that, scowling.

“Anyways,” Dermot continued, “Guild policy says after an arrest the trader’s license remains restricted from selling certain items for a while after—technical records and machines, mostly. However, the Guildmaster or a three Pokémon vote in the merchant’s council can waive the restriction if they want to.”

“And they…”

“…didn’t want to. I’m not important enough,” Dermot grumbled as his tail curled up almost to the base. “I wasn’t ripping off customers or anything like that! I never hurt anyone. Oh sure, the Guildmaster and the council gave me plenty of sympathy but the wells turned dry when it came time to pull up some actual lenience.”

Dermot paused for effect and then added in a conspiratorial tone: “Wanna hear some interesting gossip? Privately, the Guildmaster also assured me the Human Artifact Trading Ban wouldn’t last another year and to be patient.”

“Is that a guess or something more than that?” Finn wondered aloud. The Guild was influential, certainly, but if they were that powerful they’d have stopped the law from passing at all.

“No idea. All I know is what the Guild Master said,” Dermot said with a shrug.

“Well, what will you do now? You have a license, at least,” Finn said.

“It’s too late in the year to join the trading caravan that takes the south to north route to Lodestrom. Best I can do is buy a cart and a mule and do some local trade. Buying produce in the villages and transporting them to the big towns will keep me alive through the winter.”

“I see another option,” Finn said, “I could fly you to any northern settlement in less than a week. You could get ahead of the caravan easily and join us when they stop in whatever town you please.”

Dermot hesitated. “You were already very kind to fly me over here so fast. I’d hate to impose even more.”

“I’m already heading north to Johrock anyways,” Finn said casually. “Dropping you off somewhere on the way is no trouble at all.”

Dermot smiled at him—not what the dragon called his ‘business’ smile used while negotiating sales and purchases, but that rare and genuine one. “You’re a wonderful Pokémon, Finn.”

“I am, aren’t I?” the dragon replied playfully.

“I really need to pay you back somehow…you know, I’ve got a pass to Lodestrom City’s Inner District, if you’re interested. Hard place to get into.”

“Perhaps one day,” Finn said unenthusiastically. He found Everlight City’s overuse of human technology irritating enough and had little desire to go to the one place in the world that was said to be even worse.

Dermot cast a look at the noon sky out the window. “I think if we head out today we’ll arrive in Red Leaf well ahead of time.”

“Red Leaf?” Finn said, “I’d have thought you’d select Starry Town; you’ve mentioned that Starry Town to Haven is an important part of the route. Not to mention you’ll be sitting in Red Leaf over a month waiting for them to arrive.”

“Well, I haven’t seen Etain for a while time. She was a bit worried when I wrote her about my arrest last year, and I figure if I go to Red Leaf and wait for the caravan there I can probably meet up with her.”

Finn smirked at that. “Ah, so it’s about Miss Etain.”

Dermot rolled his eyes .“Don’t give me that ‘ah’ stuff, Finn. Let’s just finish off everything we need to here and get flying, okay?”

“As you wish,” the Flygon said.

*

Since I wasn’t doing authors notes at the time I’ll mention this now: in the original version of chapter 1 Etain and Sylvia were going to have an argument after realizing the discs they found couldn’t be legally sold, Sylvia angrily saying they’d be rich up north and Etain sarcastically retorting that obviously the treasure was waiting for them in particular and would be wherever they went. I figured having them get into a shouting match in their first appearance would set the wrong tone for their relation so it was cut.

Miscellaneous notes:

*One thing that I alluded to is that theatres in this setting did not go to the modern style but are still using continuous showings—instead of buying a ticket to a film you buy to go to the theatre, watch everything, and leave when they start to repeat or you get bored, with a combination of films, shorts, news reels, etc. showing.

*I went back and forth on this, but ultimately I decided that Pokémon can know more than four moves because I can’t think of a non-gamey explanation for otherwise, but can only “prepare” four at a time and switching them is something that requires too much meditation to do in the middle of a fight. Then Legends Arceus came out back me up on that.

*The Republic Security Officer, Carrock, was actually not intended to be named after the Middle-Earth location; it was just a corruption of “Carrack”, a type of ship (I want Pokémon names to have a combination of human names, corrupted terms, and entirely new names).
 
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System Error

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Okay, addendum to the plans today since you updated, let's go!

- Did you know when you teleport your physical body gets destroyed and a copy of it materializes somewhere else? It's spoopy stuff.
- You know given variable Pokemon heights and weights I imagine Pokemon construction would be a massive pain to accomodate for all them
- Careful, all those trinket costs add up over time
- After closing time? Sounds shady.
- Old human films? Wonder if human-speak is a required secondary language given their ubiquitousness
- "That is a lot of zeroes"
- Shoutouts to god, lowercase g god even, not awkward sounding Arceus.
- The plan is in motion!
- So is it Red Leaf separate or Redleaf compound? The Adventurer's club has it compound
- rip child adventurers. There go like 60% of video game protagonists
- Want someone to have a cheap one-night stand with? I assume you'd find it.
- That short sounds more like a comedy. Until it happens in real life and they all died
- "Forget touch fluffy tail, wanna touch that silky smooth Cincinno fur"
- Hey, good to see some support for the Magic Act
- I hope Etain didn't go into this without a plan on magic except hope somebody gave a book and otherwise winged it
- I like how some say god and some say gods. Also that feel when criminals don't consider "kill everyone" applies to themselves too and some people are quite kamikaze
- Suddenly, new characters
- Oho, naming Hoenn by name. I think it was established humans poofed only recently. And it seems from the description of a southern sea, this is taking place somewhere on the mainland of Asia
- Oh and it looks like we have our Meowth guy from last chapter, now with a name!
- Politics intensify. The scary thing is just like in the real world, they might vote for a madman who just promises to waive the restrictions.
- And it seems they'll be there once the Magic Act truly begins

Been forever since I read the first act of Magic Act, hopefully I didn't forget too much. Seems the stories are coming together faster than I expected though. Probably for the better anyway. Keep it up!
 

Daren

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- You know given variable Pokemon heights and weights I imagine Pokemon construction would be a massive pain to accomodate for all them
Although certainly true I think some of the difficulty is offset by Pokémon having various superpowers, even ones as simple as "much stronger than a human", as Legends makes more explicit than past games.

- So is it Red Leaf separate or Redleaf compound? The Adventurer's club has it compound
Oop, thanks! It should be separate. Fixed.

- Want someone to have a cheap one-night stand with? I assume you'd find it.
In an earlier draft that was hinted at (friendly companionship wa originally "someone to spend the night with") but I cut it as part of trimming down the club scene.

- Old human films? Wonder if human-speak is a required secondary language given their ubiquitousness
A lot of old stuff is subtitled, but human language occupies a similar position to old Latin in the real world; some educated people can speak and read it, but it's not used in everyday speech or writing.

- That short sounds more like a comedy. Until it happens in real life and they all died
It's basically in the style of an old black and white era film serial, and those could be indistinguishable from comedies even when not intended as them.
Though I think a ton of fiction require characters to be bad at their supposed professions for drama reasons or because the writer is not gonna spend months researching medieval warfare for his ten minute film scene.

- I hope Etain didn't go into this without a plan on magic except hope somebody gave a book and otherwise winged it
She already knows a number of tricks, but a book full of new ones is very handy to have, especially one that might have some that aren't widely known anymore.

- Oh and it looks like we have our Meowth guy from last chapter, now with a name!
Yep, one recurring element of this is introducing characters or concepts in one of the stories but they end up being more important in the other. Occeris is only about the size of a normal Pokémon region so it's not huge, and the Republic only controls about half the continent (and a portion of that is "wild Pokémon live here but we consider it under our protection and won't let people disturb the area").

- Oho, naming Hoenn by name. I think it was established humans poofed only recently. And it seems from the description of a southern sea, this is taking place somewhere on the mainland of Asia
Every chapter has actually said exactly how long humans have been gone. Hint: Look very early in each one.

The geography is hard to pinpoint since I'm not 100% sure what the Pokémon world map looks like but in my head Occeris is north of Hoenn (as Finn mentioned) and west of Sinnoh.
 
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kintsugi

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Hey there! Thought I'd stop by after seeing you around in the review event, and this was actually a really fun throwback! I recognized some familiar faces from Heist in Acorn Hall, and it's fun to revisit this world in a broader scope. In a very literal sense that story was constrained to Acorn Hall, whereas here we get a lot more locales/times to muck with, but in a broader sense I think the themes and conflicts are a lot more complicated as well. Looking forward to seeing how you start to expand the breadth of the world; I really like alternating POV stories because you're able to cover a lot of ground + in general the pacing tends to flow pretty smoothly.

magic act
Etain and Sylvia are a really fun duo to play off of each other. There's a sense of shared history between them that's interesting, and I do like how Sylvia is encouraging Etain to go off on her own thing, even if Sylvia would much rather have her around. Friends realizing that sometimes the best thing for a friend is to let them go is always rad to see. I thought that the exploration through the house scene was a little off pacing-wise--I did enjoy the treatment of it sort of as a mini-mystery dungeon (first floor, second floor, third floor), but the exposition is pretty heavy in the beginning (getting the full setup of why they're there), whereas the two relatively impactful events (fighting the drone and finding the treasure) don't really feel as well-integrated. The drone is introduced in a way that makes it seem like it'll be a big threat, with everyone taking the time to scope it out, describe its capabilities, etc--so when they mostly just sneak past it, it does feel a little quick. Whereas in contrast, because they don't really know what they're looking for in the house besides treasure, the discovery itself feels a little sudden as well, while at the same time we don't really have accurate scope/knowledge of what they've even found.

The world introduced here is really interesting, though, and one that I was excited to see more of as we started getting into later chapters. The idea that humans died out pretty recently is pretty rad, and there's a lot of nods to some past events that sound like they might be relevant later--there were pokeballs? A king on a throne? Normally in PMD-fics-that-had-humans I tend to see a lot of apocalyptic takes, where the entire world got wrecked but pokemon survived by virtue of being way cooler than us; I do really like this take where there's already a fluorishing society instead. Kind of crazy to think how much things could bounce back in 300 years. (I'm assuming AC stands for like, after calamity, so Magic Act happens after Everlight? Or it could be Latin and it stands for ante calamity, git wrekt me, gg. I do remember assuming that the smugglers in Everlight were involved in the haul that Sylvia and Etain found, but Dermot probably hasn't been caught twice for this, so I'm mostly basing the chronology off of that ...)

"What an awful mix of good and bad luck--we risk our necks to take out a dangerous drone and it turns out the place was owned by some technophile... pokéballs, technical machines, portable computers, old human CDs. It’s all valuable except we're in Caerma Republic territory! This stuff's all on the human relic restricted trade list. We can't sell any of it, only turn it over to Republic Security for a fraction of what we’d get on the market as a finder's fee!"
On the other hand it would be such a small violation, for a victimless crime, against a stupid law. She’d love to take some time off adventuring and focus on her magic act, too…
And these details are really fun as well. I admit I'm intrigued by pokemon fighting battle droids, but I'm curious about the social implications here, of this restricted trade list and why these items are restricted (not banned/erased) in the first place--seems like wanting to get things in the 'right' hands, not erase them from social memory in the first place, and that's always an interesting thing to have ticking on in the background, hmm.

Dermot did feel a little out of place in the chapter, but that could 100% just be me trying to form a pattern with sample size n=2 and thinking that all the Magic Act stories need to be about Sylvia and Etain. I fully expect that issue to shake out once we get more chapters from these guys. Thematically it's nice to see all the underdogs in one section; conceptually he pairs off well with Sylvia's softer takes on morality as well.

I also really liked the ideas you bring to the table with Etain feeling alienated by her status as an adventurer--it's true that roaming brings you physical isolation, but I like the added layer that she feels socially removed from the people around her, and that they've started to see her as different. Power with a price is a theme that's often literal, but rarely just in that sad sort of "I wish people didn't think of me like that" sense that we get here. Curious where this storyline will go now that she's on the road!

Everlight
I adore characters like Tybalt and I think you do a good job of setting up the tone/narration here--he's fun, fast-talking, doesn't think too deeply about the relatively fucked role he plays in this heist, but is perceptive enough to pick up on why Morgan scouted him. I really liked the smaller details, like how he's proud of having his office or is aware that people don't think meowstic are particularly tough; it really builds a certain character and it's a fun twist on the hardboiled detective angle. And the idea that he stocks different kinds of drinks in his office to look the trope, and gets so frightened that he drops his super deep sounding voice, is such a fun little detail. I love when the narration makes it clear that characters are trying to be one thing, and are working hard to present themselves (to others and to the story) in specific light, but aren't quite pulling it off all the way.

Mentioned a bit before, but I like the pairing of these two storylines. Sylvia/Etain/Dermot give good perspective on what it's like to be on the outside/underside; I think Tybalt's in a good position to investigate things from the inside, and that's just a neat way to tell a story imo. I'm curious how long he'll be able to live with his own "i'm just following orders" thing; I liked how he was able to be frank with Morgan but also sees through him quickly; I thought that showed the history between these two very well. It's interesting to see characters not make objectively good samaritan decisions in their first few chapters, and presumably since these storylines will one day merge, this will be a choice that could have some lasting consequences for him down the road.
The Drapion was caught off guard by what happened next, as the cat suddenly jumped back and reached out with both arms—electricity gathered around his paws, quickly growing in size and intensity before surging forward in a powerful bolt that hit the towering scorpion head-on, causing Nick to roar and stumble back. Rick reacted immediately, launching himself forward like a torpedo and drawing a claw back for a Night Slash.
I thought the fight scene was a little awkward in this chapter. I understand the struggle here--I don't really think it should've been longer per se, since it's never really in doubt that Tybalt was going to win and that central tension isn't relevant to the events of this chapter here. But it did feel a little sudden. I think this was compounded a bit by the introduction of two more characters who are brothers who finish each other's sentences, with really matching names at that--I mostly made it through the fight scene by remembering that Drapion ends with N, so Nick; Gliscor ends with R, so Rick--but I don't think that was entirely the ended setup. I wonder if this could be choreographed a little more clearly to better play to the differences in their characters--maybe the differences are physical/related to how they fight (there's some traces of this, such as the fact that Rick can fly), or maybe the differences are about the way the characters themselves behave (one of them is ranged/one is physical, maybe one gives up earlier? idk). Fight scenes in general are hard to time, and I get the feeling that this one is here mostly to set up for something later, that we'll see these characters again, but it did feel a little abrupt in this isolated incident. Overall I found the smuggler conflict to be a lot more compelling, and one that made this section feel a little unnecessary.

Fun chunk of story so far, though! Looking forward to seeing how things start to weave together. Fun fact, I thought "magic act" was referring to a rule/law about magic for the longest time, so magician pikachu was not what I was thinking about for a while. Thanks for sharing.

some misc grammar notes:
she rose up onto one knee and raised the binoculars to her eyes so she could see through the.
"them"
It could change direction a full 360 degrees
I think this is technically correct but would read better as "it could rotate a full 360 degrees" or "it could swivel a full 360 degrees"
The smart thing is to try and take the machine from ambush, either come swiftly around a corner, or attack suddenly from above or below it. One nicely aimed Night Slash should end the fight before it truly starts.
The tense swap here is a little jarring. I get the reasoning--these are things that are true in other cases than just the one moment in the story, but I think this would read better in past tense.
"Stay close to the walls so that thing can’t see us as easily from up there,” Sylvia whispered. ‘Circle around, wait for it to pass by the stairs, then we hit it,”
Single quote instead of double quote in front of 'circle', and comma instead of period at the end
One the other side lied what seemed to be the bedroom
I think you want "laid" here
"Give me one second to record this place's coordinates,"
comma instead of period
“The only adventurer anyone outside the business talks about is Stavik, and they don’t talk about him for the right reasons,”
comma instead of period
also, oho, those sound like spicy reasons
When anyone in the Caerma Republic says “The City” they’re referring to Everlight.
same tense swap thing as above
filling out paper work for the records
I believe the noun form here is "paperwork", one word.
What he actually said was “I thought Everlight’s Security branch would have some officers in reserve for sudden situations like this.”
Dropped a comma after 'was'.
Pro-ban councilors in many regions were now trying to distance themselves from the law and anti-ban councilors would refuse on general principle, so there was no chance of council agreeing to allow Security to use emergency funding to enforce the ban.
Pro-ban councilors in many regions were no trying to distance themselves from the law, and anti-ban [...]
(normally I'm kind of ambivalent on correcting commas, but in this case I kept trying to read it as "distance themselves from [the law and anti-ban councilors]"
The apartment he lived in was nothing special—room 306 of a concrete ten floor structure. He went through his mailbox on the way into the entry hall (his nephew’s psychic powers still had not developed, according to a concerning letter from his sister), making his way up two flights of stairs past the bland and undecorated walls until he reached his room, nodded to his Rhyhorn neighbor who was nudging their own door shut with a lever built into it as Tybalt dug the keys out of his satchel and unlocked the door into his tiny apartment (it had a single living room/kitchen/bedroom hybrid, a washroom, and that was it).
This section struck me as having a few too many parentheticals. Creative writing doesn't really have rules on that, but it did make the narration kind of choppy and jumpy in a way that wasn't present in the rest of Tybalt's narration.
“Good evening, Nick,” he said to the Drapion, “Good evening, Rick,” he said, turning his head and nodding to the Gliscor. “It’s a wonderfully chilly night for a stroll, hmm?”
You'll want a period after 'Drapion.'
“Look, you have enemies after some of the jobs you’ve done for me, and some are a lot more dangerous than those bruisers Nick and Rick. If you start getting those exciting cases you want it’ll only get worse. You might even tick off Orodress one of these days and…”
I didn't quite follow how he knew who had attacked Tybalt? If they'd heard the entire encounter on the radio, was there a reason they hadn't stepped in?
They were silent for some time as the popular Midrevious anchor Raea discussed an upcoming concert in the Market district, a recent theft from the museum in the Soaring Heights district, and an upcoming debate between two political experts on the ramification of a recent tax code change on next year’s election
these feel like upcoming plot points tbh
"You only recently finished your first Muscle Band and you’re already raring to go on a special project?" called the amused voice of Bress the Buizel as he emerged from the door behind the counter, wearing his welding goggles and a protective safety coat.
(you mentioned struggling a bit with show/not tell and wanting to revise that in earlier chapters, and I just wanted to point out that I thought this tidbit in the most recent chapter was pretty smooth)
but he was too well liked for many to take advantage
you'll want 'well-liked' here
Etain entered the building, an act which will allow anyone doing so for the first time to immediately be capable of making an informed decision as to whether they wish to stay or would prefer to cut a quick retreat and look for a different place to spend an hour or so.
Firstly, although there was no electric lighting it did have a great many wide, short windows, lanterns, and even a fireplace. Those who prefer a lower level of lighting may prefer to look elsewhere.
At any time there were numerous card games going on, jokes being told, and conversations flowing, and as a general rule anyone wishing to sit down at a table to join in would be accepted, and ultimately this was a place where you usually found what you were looking for—unless it was peace and quiet since there was no chance for those. Looking for a hearty meal and cheap drinks? You’ll find it. Want to hear an exciting (and probably far-fetched) adventure story? You’ll find it. Want some advice from an old veteran? You’ll find it. Just want some friendly companionship for a time? You’ll find it.
Likewise with these chunks I think they'd read more smoothly in the past tense, with the rest of the story.
Remember when we got cornered by that warlord up by Silverport?”

Etain smiled—that had been a rather large mission involving over a dozen adventurers. “I thought we were screwed when his fighters caught us is in that storage room and said if we didn’t tell them everything about the town’s defenses they’d force it out of us…then you just laughed and said ‘so you’re saying we have nothing to lose?’ and lit the entire room up with Flamethrower!”

The two laughed at the memory.
This felt a little bit forced--I think the idea is to show Etain's fond memories that she's leaving behind, but it does feel a bit on-the-nose to have a character turn around and be like, "hey, remember this thing?"
Etain liked Yasu but his bravado grated, even if he almost matched it at times.
Didn't quite follow his bravado/almost matching his own bravado?
“Certainly it was a difficult trip,” he said, interrupting as Sarah seemed about to take to the sky. “Why don’t I tell you about Hoenn?”

The Emolga nodded and sat down.
I thought it was a little too abrupt for the emolga just to agree here? I get that she's a kid, but some emotion might help--is she excited to hear about Hoenn, or is she just nervous, sorta thing.
Finn’s smiled sagged slightly. “Ah, well…Mauville is…”
mauville's totally fine and no one is in any danger and/or under a pile or rubble, right
 

Daren

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The idea that humans died out pretty recently is pretty rad, and there's a lot of nods to some past events that sound like they might be relevant later--there were pokeballs? A king on a throne? Normally in PMD-fics-that-had-humans I tend to see a lot of apocalyptic takes, where the entire world got wrecked but pokemon survived by virtue of being way cooler than us; I do really like this take where there's already a fluorishing society instead.
There wasn't an apocalypse, no; no nuclear war or anything like that, and Pokémon's survival wasn't due to them just being tougher than humans (although Legends did make a lot more clear than usual that yes, they are, this story was planned before that game was even announced).
I will say that the king was just some old artwork--probably a real world historical monarch but not important except showing off the house owner collected human-related items.
As for Pokéballs; part of this story is trying to link the mainline games with an MD-esque setting so you should assume all the various items and such from those exist (or existed).

I thought that the exploration through the house scene was a little off pacing-wise--I did enjoy the treatment of it sort of as a mini-mystery dungeon (first floor, second floor, third floor), but the exposition is pretty heavy in the beginning (getting the full setup of why they're there), whereas the two relatively impactful events (fighting the drone and finding the treasure) don't really feel as well-integrated. The drone is introduced in a way that makes it seem like it'll be a big threat, with everyone taking the time to scope it out, describe its capabilities, etc--so when they mostly just sneak past it, it does feel a little quick. Whereas in contrast, because they don't really know what they're looking for in the house besides treasure, the discovery itself feels a little sudden as well, while at the same time we don't really have accurate scope/knowledge of what they've even found.
In general I'm not 100% happy with the first chapter; the original version was very, very different and was effectively what is now the 3rd part of Magic Act.

(I'm assuming AC stands for like, after calamity, so Magic Act happens after Everlight? Or it could be Latin and it stands for ante calamity, git wrekt me, gg. I do remember assuming that the smugglers in Everlight were involved in the haul that Sylvia and Etain found, but Dermot probably hasn't been caught twice for this, so I'm mostly basing the chronology off of that ...)
Your guess is correct; AC is "after calamity", and is how many years have passed since humans vanished, so the first part of Magic Act takes place several months after the first part of Everlight.

I admit I'm intrigued by pokemon fighting battle droids, but I'm curious about the social implications here, of this restricted trade list and why these items are restricted (not banned/erased) in the first place--seems like wanting to get things in the 'right' hands, not erase them from social memory in the first place, and that's always an interesting thing to have ticking on in the background, hmm.
This is one of the those awkward results of the huge hiatus since it'll be clarified later, but the restriction isn't a blanket tech ban, just specifically human made items--some of which are more advanced than what Pokémon have the infrastructure to make for themselves, but not all of it. So Etain's Pokégear? 100% legal; Bress made it. An older, human era one that might be mostly identical? On the ban list.

Mentioned a bit before, but I like the pairing of these two storylines. Sylvia/Etain/Dermot give good perspective on what it's like to be on the outside/underside; I think Tybalt's in a good position to investigate things from the inside, and that's just a neat way to tell a story imo. I'm curious how long he'll be able to live with his own "i'm just following orders" thing; I liked how he was able to be frank with Morgan but also sees through him quickly; I thought that showed the history between these two very well. It's interesting to see characters not make objectively good samaritan decisions in their first few chapters, and presumably since these storylines will one day merge, this will be a choice that could have some lasting consequences for him down the road.
Yep; there's an intentional effect where Etain is something of an outsider while Tybalt has an office and lives in it's equivalent of New York City. There's another mirror effect going on, though it's a bit less clear at this point. ;)

That said I think you're a bit harsh on Tybalt here; he stopped some people from sneaking illegal goods into the city and Tybalt very specifically didn't hurt anyone, and we see Dermot is fine just a few months later.

I thought the fight scene was a little awkward in this chapter. I understand the struggle here--I don't really think it should've been longer per se, since it's never really in doubt that Tybalt was going to win and that central tension isn't relevant to the events of this chapter here. But it did feel a little sudden. I think this was compounded a bit by the introduction of two more characters who are brothers who finish each other's sentences, with really matching names at that--I mostly made it through the fight scene by remembering that Drapion ends with N, so Nick; Gliscor ends with R, so Rick--but I don't think that was entirely the ended setup. I wonder if this could be choreographed a little more clearly to better play to the differences in their characters--maybe the differences are physical/related to how they fight (there's some traces of this, such as the fact that Rick can fly), or maybe the differences are about the way the characters themselves behave (one of them is ranged/one is physical, maybe one gives up earlier? idk). Fight scenes in general are hard to time, and I get the feeling that this one is here mostly to set up for something later, that we'll see these characters again, but it did feel a little abrupt in this isolated incident. Overall I found the smuggler conflict to be a lot more compelling, and one that made this section feel a little unnecessary.
The fight scene was there partly to give an action scene in the first chapter, partly to establish Tybalt's a good fighter (he won a two on one) but not invincible (he got hurt), partly to make clear he's done some cases in the past and his line of work is dangerous. The smuggler part was much more important, of course, as shown by Dermot popping up again after (and now being named).

As for Nick and Rick--the names are a sort of silly reference to the old boxing game Super Punch-Out, where the last two opponents are brothers named Nick Bruiser and Rick Bruiser. I admit I overlooked it could make the scene hard to follow.

these feel like upcoming plot points tbh
Exactly one of them is. ;)

I didn't quite follow how he knew who had attacked Tybalt? If they'd heard the entire encounter on the radio, was there a reason they hadn't stepped in?
He heard the attack being reported after Tybalt subdued them and called Security to arrest Nick and Rick. I certainly could have made it a bit clearer.

This felt a little bit forced--I think the idea is to show Etain's fond memories that she's leaving behind, but it does feel a bit on-the-nose to have a character turn around and be like, "hey, remember this thing?"
I see your point; it may have been better to make it an internal memory from Etain.
 
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kintsugi

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Thanks for the response! Worldbuilding clarifications were super helpful; it’s always lovely to see what people have going on under the hood.
That said I think you're a bit harsh on Tybalt here; he stopped some people from sneaking illegal goods into the city and Tybalt very specifically didn't hurt anyone, and we see Dermot is fine just a few months later.
Ah whoops, didn’t mean to imply a harsh judgment here or anything—just that I think a way more common take would’ve been to have his/Morgan’s roles swapped in this situation, so I thought the dynamic reversal was neat to grapple with. Often it’s the protagonists chafing against the rules (as we saw with Sylvia), so I was intrigued by a protagonist who explicitly didn’t want to + was interested in the long-term implications (as the characters/stories gradually intersect with each other).
 

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Everlight Stories, Part 2

The Shape

Early December, 317AC


It was still early in the morning when Deirdre called Tybalt over the intercom to tell him there was someone to see him.

The visitor was a Gligar who was a little short for his species (still bigger than Tybalt) and had a nervous disposition that gave Tybalt the distinct impression that walking through Pearl District in broad daylight had been the most harrowing experience they’d had in years.

Tybalt stood as the guest entered and said, “Good morning. Who do I have the pleasure of meeting?”

“Percy. I work at the Museum of Human Studies in Jewel Heights,” the Gligar said as he sat down.

Tybalt raised an eyebrow. “So I assume this is about the theft from two days ago, right?”

Since October a mysterious cat burglar (what a prejudicial phrase—who came up with it?) had been committing thefts in Everlight City, leaving behind a distinct symbol painted in black at each scene of a circle with jagged edges poking out at ordinal directions.

There had been over a half dozen thefts already that included businesses, museums, and the opulent Verdant Manor, and the media was having a field day questioning the failure of Republic Security to catch the criminal.

“Yes, the robbery….you’re the detective?” the Gligar said, as though only suddenly realizing he had to look down to see them despite being the one who was sitting down.

“That’s right, Tybalt of Everlight, at your service. My certificate is right there,” Tybalt said, pointing up at the laminated sheet hanging on the wall.

“Err, well, in any case,” Percy said, slowly starting to get back up, “I should consider visiting another…”

Tybalt gestured at the cabinet in the back of the room. “Want a drink? I’ve got some great Aguav juice,” he offered. The Gligar looked as though he had just been offered a drink a glass of whirling razor blades and shook his head.

“You’re sure? Good stuff,” Tybalt said, then walked, got out one of the bottles, looked in the Gligar’s eyes intently, then poured himself a glass and drank it.

Tybalt had never drunk a liquefied table, but he suspected it would taste exactly the same as Aguav juice. It was only significant practice that allowed him to swallow it and even feign enjoyment. The Gligar seemed horrified, but perhaps just a little impressed, and as Tybalt turned to return the bottle to the cabinet he smiled. The Aguav juice works its magic once more, and had proven all those gagging fits during his practice sessions well worth it.

“Look at it this way,” he said as he turned back to face Percy, “If you hire me you lose nothing unless I crack the case, right? But if you leave now the time walking over here was wasted.”

“You make a good point,” the Gligar admitted and sat back down.

Percy cleared his throat before speaking, “Very well, it’s simple enough. This burglar stole a DVD from the human era, a very rare one. I have a photo of it here.”

Tybalt did so; it was a simple, round thing. The cover was a blue sky with a human woman framed under a rising yellow sun with the title “The Sun’s Surprise” and a tiny ‘PG’ in the bottom right corner.

“May I keep this photograph?”

“Sure, we can make a dozen more.”

Tybalt put the photo in his satchel and sat down. “Now, Mr. Percy, as a preliminary step I’d like to come to the museum later today and ask your security head some questions, if that’s alright.”

“Of course, although we don’t technically have a head of security—we hire Safeguard Protection—but you can speak to the officer who was on duty that night, I’m sure. In fact he saw the criminal, but they escaped.”

Interesting. Tybalt recalled that a guard from Stalwart Security had also got a look at them when they robbed Verdant Manor.

The Gligar stood from the chair and said, “It’s getting a little late, and I really must return to the museum,” sounding as though he considered this task as dangerous as anything Tybalt would be doing.

*

After the Gligar left Tybalt called everyone else into the room to discuss the case. Tancred, Jacob, and Deirdre were all present with chairs of appropriate heights, since they had no other cases at the moment.

“So, a quick briefing: the Human Studies museum in Jewel Heights wants us to recover this stolen human disc,” Tybalt said, holding up the photograph. “It was taken by what appears to be that burglar whose been striking all over the city since October.”

“Won’t be easy,” Tancred muttered, the Vigoroth’s arms crossed and showing off his collection of tattoos. “This Pokémon’s been embarrassing Republic Security for weeks now.”

“They’re spread thinly and have a bunch of cases at once while we’ll be able to focus on this full-time. Besides, we have a few advantages Security doesn’t—like how there are certain Pokémon who are uncomfortable talking to them. Tancred, while I’m at the Museum do you think you could set up a meeting for me with a dealer?”

The Vigoroth nodded. “I know someone I can arrange a meeting with—if they’re not busy you can probably see her later today.”

“Great. The sooner the better; if this thing gets sold to some private collector we’re probably screwed on recovering it. Jacob, swing by Stalwart Shield headquarters and see if the guard who worked Verdant Manor the night it was robbed is willing to talk about what he saw.”

Jacob was very good at getting information, the best in the agency, and on better days Tybalt was convinced this had nothing at all to do with the Heatmor being vastly larger than him and consequently taken more seriously as a detective.

“Deirdre, I need you to go over the stored newspapers and find out which issues have stories related to this. Opinion pieces aren’t needed, just reports and follow-ups.”

*

The Museum of Human Studies was a long and tall building with three floors with a grand exhibit hall that was part of all three.

He’d never found the time to visit it before, but as he made his way to the back he found himself looking at the various exhibits with interest; examples of human fashion, pictures of human food, a history of humans in Occeris, and he was especially surprised by one in particular; a pair of finely dressed human mannequins, a plaque beneath them reading:

Although many modern films leave this detail out, Occerian humans regarded clothing as mandatory in the vast majority of social situations.

He’d of course noticed old human films had them clothed almost all the time, but he figured it was like how most films made nowadays only cast fully-evolved Pokémon and the characters all owned large, well-furnished homes a low-income family could never afford in the real world.

He was mulling over this when his eyes spotted a vision of pure beauty.

An older style of human outfit: a heavy beige outfit, buttoned and folded, the model also wearing a round hat with a narrow brim; the labeled identified them as a trench coat and a trilby.

He was in love, and made a mental note to pick up a catalog of this exhibit on the way out so he’d have an example. Once he got paid for this job he was visiting a tailor.

The museum was mostly empty on a Thursday morning and it took little time to reach the back of the exhibit hall where the security room was located.

Inside the security lounge was a Solrock, adorned with a green ‘Safeguard Protection’ sash tightly wrapped around its round body.

“Good morning, I’ve been hired to investigate the robbery,” Tybalt said, as he showed the Solrock his Detective License card and a note from the museum receptionist. “I’m told you were on staff the night of the robbery?”

“Yes, yes. They said someone was hired to fix my screw-up,” the sun-like rocky creature sighed. “What do you need to kn…are you the detective? To investigate the robbery? A fluffy little fellow like you?”

“Yes. Yes, I am,” Tybalt said. “I have a certificate back at my office. I have a license from the Republic Department of Law in my wallet. Would you like to see it again?”

“No…no, that’s fine. Go ahead and ask your questions.”

Taking a deep breath first, Tybalt said, “Firstly, would you be comfortable with me recording this conversation so I can keep everything straight?”

“Go ahead.”

“Thank you. Firstly, the robbery occurred two nights ago, correct?”

“Yes, in the early hours of the sixth.”

“At what time was the robbery discovered?”

“At around 2 AM one of our surveillance drones suddenly started sounding the alarm, so I went to the location and found a Toxicroak in the grand exhibit hall with a sack, standing over the shattered remnants of the drone and shoveling exhibits into the bag. I used Psychic, but I must have missed because there was no effect; the Toxicroak hit me with a Shadow Ball and knocked me right down. Before I could get up he’d scaled the wall and escaped through one of the higher up windows.”

“Did the Toxicroak have any distinguishing features?”

“His face was winkled and lined, like he was old.”

“Is there anything you can think of?”

“Well…no, nevermind.”

“What is it? Please, anything you can think of could prove very useful, even if it seems unimportant at the moment,” Tybalt said.

The Solrock hesitated. “They were very powerful,” it said after a moment. “I’d hate for you to get hurt.”

“He’s a Toxicroak. I’m a Psychic-type,” Tybalt said through grit teeth.

“I suppose so…I found the escape strange, is all. Toxicroak are excellent jumpers, you know, so why climb?”

“That is a good question”, Tybalt thought as he thanked the Solrock for their cooperation.

*

Deirdre had done an admiral job of compiling a list of Everlight Daily News issues covering the break-ins during the previous day, and Jacob had managed to get quite a bit of information from Stalward Shield. Tancred was not back yet, though Tybalt had not expected him to be, and called for them to discuss what they’d learned.

Jacob spoke first, saying, “The security guard at Verdant Manor got a look at the culprit as they escaped—turned out to be a young-looking female Obstagoon. The guard tried to pursue but the culprit hit ‘em with a Shadow Ball. Security found someone matching the suspect’s description the next evening, but she had a rock-solid alibi; turns out she was performing at a nightclub two districts away just five minutes earlier, and she had plenty of witnesses.”

Tybalt tapped his chin thoughtfully and said, “The guard at the museum says they saw a Toxicroak—a male one—and that’s what a Security Drone there recorded before getting smashed.”

“So we’re probably dealing with a Ditto turning into bystanders,” Jacob said. It had happened before and was a pain for any court to deal with—“the Ditto defense” was dreaded in legal circles.

“Could be,” Tybalt said. ‘Or even a trained stunt Ditto who can take all sorts of forms from memory.”

The three started going through the newspapers now, hoping for any sort of clue, and after some time Jacob spoke up again.

“Here’s something unusual; some gems stolen from Verdant Manor turned up at the bottom of the sea in the power district. A Seaking found them while swimming around and reported finding them. He was wondering if he could keep them—didn’t know they were from a robbery. Over twenty thousand Poké worth of jewels just tossed away.”

“Maybe the gems were too hot?” Jacob said. “He realized he wouldn’t be able to sell them and decided to toss ‘em instead to get rid of the evidence.”

Tybalt nodded. “We’ll make that our going assumption for now.”

But as they continued another oddity appeared: items of little value had also been stolen: a servant’s spare clothing from Verdant Manor and even some out of date shipping manifests at a warehouse.

Security took this as indication their culprit was grabbing items mostly at random, that they were unaware of the value of them, and the manifests in particular may have been considered as potential blackmail material.

As Tybalt considered that puzzle Tancred returned.

“Got you a meeting, boss. You need to go to Val’s Hole-in-the-wall, between seven and eight tonight. Look for a Raticate answering to the name Mrs. Z. You’ll be Mr. H.”

Tybalt thanked him. Tancred usually came through in these matters.

*

The Hole-in-the-wall was in the middle of the Silver District, a less developed border area in the north end of the city.

It was not one of the city’s popular tourist stops; Silver District was mostly low rent housing and apartments served by various small stores. If you looked at a map the only place that might have been of interest was the local Adventurer’s Association office.

But maps don’t tell the whole story.

Tybalt passed by various nocturnal Pokémon enjoying the early sunset and a handful of diurnal ones fighting through the increasingly thick snow to get home when he finally reached his destination: an old brick home with boarded up windows that looked decidedly uninviting—if buildings could talk this one would be telling you to go away in a threatening sentence containing no fewer than four curse words.

There was no sign, but Tybalt walked up to the wooden door, looked up at the peephole, and used one of the lower knockers; a second later the peephole slid open.

“We’re not a motel, pal, this is a private residence. Scram,” grumbled a deep voice.

“Are you sure? I heard this place had good rates, and I felt like I haven’t slept in four days and three nights.”

The peephole closed, Tybalt heard a door being unlocked and unbarred, and the entrance swung open, revealing a Passimian who bowed his head at the detective and waved him into the foyer—one much warmer and better decorated than the exterior would suggest, with red carpets and plentiful lighting—then closed the door behind him.

“Welcome to Val’s Hole-in-the-Wall,” the Fighting-type said. “The stairs on the left for the bar, the big double door at end of the hall for gambling. Please enjoy yourself, sir.”

“Thanks,” Tybalt said as he moved into the hallway and taking the stairs down into darkness.

He had been here before, though this door guard was new to him. The drinks were fairly good but this was not the type of bar you went to if you just wanted a drink.

Among other services it’s the type you go to discuss money, goods, and services, just like any business place—it’s just in this case it tended to include one or more of money that tends to be mysteriously forgotten on tax returns, goods that the seller may not technically own, and services that get you in serious trouble if Republic Security hears about them.

Tybalt didn’t like doing this, but as long as he returned the stolen property to its lawful owner as soon as possible he was not committing a crime—one could thank the Adventurer’s Association lobbying for that part of the law.

The winding stairs led to a smoky but well-lit room with benches, tables, and booths in many sizes, a jukebox, and a TV hung above a bar playing competitive battling matches from around the continent every minute of every day. As he stepped in he nodded to a gloved Grapploct bartending.

Tybalt moved steadily, looking about until near the end he saw who he was looking for; a female Raticate wearing a thick-looking chest pack, sitting at a little booth in the corner sized for smaller Pokémon, idly playing with a very sharp knife by picking at the tip and occasionally filing her claws with it. The rat looked warily at him as he approached.

“Mrs. Z?” Tybalt said.

“And you are?”

“Mr. H.”

The Raticate nodded. “Sit down,” she said, and he did.

“Our mutual friend has told me everything I need to know,” the rat said, with ‘and not a word more’ left unsaid but understood. “I generally prefer to stick to Pokémon and groups I know, but if he says we can deal that’s fine.”

She sat up straight.

“Now, since you’re a first time customer I’ll lay out the ground rules; first off we don’t mention names, ever. Next, any and all negotiations regarding anything at all go through me only—no face to face meetings between buyer and seller. Thirdly, payment will be made in coins only—no paper. And finally…”

With a swift motion she plunged her knife into the table. “…if I get any sudden visits from Security after this meeting I feed you to a wild animal.”

“Got it,” Tybalt said.

Mrs. Z nodded and continued, “Great. Now, what’re you after? I can get you some great things; technical records, armor made in Johrock, even small drones from Lodestrom city. If you’re willing to pay the list price I can get most of my merchandise to you in a day or two. Haggling draws things out, naturally, though to be honest some of my clients have inflated ideas of what their goods are worth.”

“I’m looking for a modern Ninetales sculpture I hear is for sale. I’ve got some friends up north that could use a housewarming present."

The rat frowned. “You’re in for a disappointment. I can’t get you one of those right now, and I assure you none of my competitors can, either,” she said.

“Did it sell that fast? Or are my sources wrong and it’s not available yet?” Tybalt said.

“If I understand you—and I believe I do—then that particular sculptor isn’t selling anything they’ve made, at least on the open market. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: isn’t that the weirdest damn thing?”

Tybalt had to admit it was, and although he wasn’t expecting an answer to his next question he figured it was worth a shot. “Any idea why?”

“I don’t even know who they are,” she said. “I suppose they might have reason to be careful—this is the line of work where competitors might try a little more than undercut your prices. Anyone working with a good broker like me is free of such worries but not everyone is smart enough to do that,” the Raticate said, then added with a cynical grin, “Not that I work with this type. Leaving a call sign behind? They’re a showy wildborn with some talent and a bit of luck. After all, a good sculptor never lets anyone see them work, and this fool has been spotted twice so far.”

“So, do you have any guesses about our mystery Pokémon, then?” Tybalt said.

“Oh, everyone is talking about that, and decent amounts of Poké have flown about in bets on when he or she or it will be revealed. Now, if you ask me their grand unveiling will be when they get themselves arrested in a dumb stunt in a week or so, but I’ve been wrong before. Now, is there anything else you need? I have someone selling some Republic Guard awards and medals. Spruce up any home or office.”

Tybalt managed to repress his significant distaste at that offer. “No, that’s all. Sorry we couldn’t make a deal.”

“Eh, no fur off my back, I didn’t have anyone else to meet tonight, anyways, and crossing a favor off the board is payment enough,” Mrs. Z said. “It was a pleasure meeting you. If you ever need my services again just ask the bartender and they’ll arrange a meeting.”

Then she suddenly leaned in very closely and whispered so quietly even Tybalt could barely hear her words:

“Tell our mutual friend that for someone trying to move on from his past he certainly is bold contacting old friends, wouldn’t you?”

Then she stood, pulled out the knife and dropped it in her pack in a single motion, and walked off, tossing a coin to the bartender before she reached the stairs and went up.

Well, this certainly gave Tybalt something to think about. His first guess was that this burglar had buyers set up ahead of time, either being hired to steal specific items through some contacts outside the usual channels or they had a single specific employer.

Or perhaps they sold their haul outside Everlight City. They could be operating out of the north, the southwest, one of the islands…

There were a maddening number of possibilities.

*

When the office opened next morning Tybalt called everyone together to fill them in on his discovery and hold a strategy meeting.

“The Soaring Heights Museum of Evolution, a warehouse in the dock district, Verdant Manor, the Diamond District Institute of Human Studies, Luck Lucky Casino, and now the Cold District mall…I don’t see any immediate connection. God, I need some coffee…thanks, Deirdre."

Jacob tapped the table a few times as he thought. “Maybe it’s a grudge and not the money? Are these places connected?”

“Different owners,” Tybalt said, then sighed. “Damnit, is there a connection? If they’re hitting places at complete random we’ll never figure where they’ll hit next.”

“Uhm, Tybalt?” Jacob said. “I’m not sure if this will help, but the article about the last theft mentions that all of the places were hiring external security companies instead of using their own employees.”

Tybalt blinked a few times. “What?”

“Right here: ‘as in all previous targets, the museum was being protected by a reputed security company, one who should have known better, should have been able to protect these priceless cultural artifacts.’”

“Let me see,” Tybalt said, taking the paper and quickly reading through the paragraph around the sentence he’d been pointed to. “Safeguard Protection, which we know was protecting the Humans Study museum, Stalwart Shield, which we know was at Verdant Manor, and…” he picked up the paper covering the first robbery, from back in October. “…and Wonderguard was protecting the museum in Soaring Heights.”

He set the paper down. “That might be the link. There are other profitable targets that use internal protection but none of them have been hit. Not a single one, even though they’d be easier targets.”

“Do you think Republic Security noticed?” Tancred asked.

Tybalt considered that and said, “They may have noticed, but dismissed it as a coincidence. The paper claims their going assumption is that the criminal is grabbing things at random to sell…but they probably don’t know the stolen items aren’t being sold on the black market.”

Tybalt tapped his chin thoughtfully. “They’ve gotten past every major security firm in the city except one. Iron Defense Security; they’re from Lodestrom and only just came into Everlight a month ago. The newspaper reported they’re guarding the music hall in the Ruby District as their first job, and they recently got the Sunloft tower contract, too. My gut says one of them will be hit sooner rather than later. I’m not sure exactly when but our burglar hasn’t been patient so far; a heist every week or two up to now.”

“But which one do we watch?” Tancred said.

“Both. I’ll take the music hall, while you and Jacob go to Sunloft.”

*

The owner of the music hall proved amenable to Tybalt watching over the building, reasoning that an unpaid security guard hoping to catch a specific criminal was almost as good as young musicians working for exposure.

Tybalt spent the first few nights patrolling the structure and the streets immediately around it and memorizing every potential access point—all the doors, all the windows, and he even considered the possibility of entry through the skylight overseeing the main concert hall itself. At each one he placed a listening devices linked to his Pokégear.

The fourth night was, in a bizarre coincidence, interrupted by a Jigglypuff attempting to break into a music store across the street. Tybalt had spotted them and called Security, who arrived in due time to apprehend the fuzzy balloon, and the fifth night was a return to normality.

On the sixth night he was leaning against the wall, half listening to the Iron Defense Security guard on patrol this night—a Pidgeot—complaining at length about his supervisor hating him. Fortunately, Tybalt knew a psychic trick to ignore unwanted sounds yet still hear and comprehend them. It was useful for chatty Pidgeot, the normal nightlife of Everlight City, or those two in a nearby apartment nobody could see but everybody could unfortunately hear having a lover’s quarrel of some sort.

The Pidgeot was in the middle of explaining how he could have been supervisor if the current one wasn’t the cousin of one of the company’s owners when Tybalt faintly heard what he felt was the sound of glass being cut coming from his Pokégear’s radio.

“They’re here,” he said quietly after interrupting the Pidgeot by lifting his paw in a ‘stop’ gesture. “Get to the roof; I’ll try to spook them into fleeing and you can swoop down on them when they leave.”

He set off stealthily as the Pidgeot took to the air.

“Jacob, Tancred, it’s going down now,” Tybalt hissed into his Pokégear. “Call Republic Security then link up with me.”

He had to move slowly, opening the doors as quietly as he could and slipping past. The sound had come from the main hall, but once inside he could not see exactly where in the darkness.

So instead he kneeled down in the corner, hidden by chairs and tables, watching.

After a moment he spied a shape moving about—a quick glance above showed one of the windows near the roof had a large hole cut in it. After a second that felt much longer the shadow picked up something and seemed to drop it in a large sack.

Again and again, the figure picked up items and seemed to toss them into a bag or sack. Then after a few indistinct movements Tybalt heard the sound of a paint can spraying.

That was all he needed, and he telekinetically switched the lights on.

“Hold it! You’re under a citizen’s arrest!” he shouted.

The shape turned, and in the light he saw that today the culprit was a Zangoose, caught red-clawed in the middle of painting the black symbol on the wall.

They reacted quickly despite the surprise, forming a purple, pulsing globe and hurled it at Tybalt, who ducked under a chair that absorbed the Shadow Ball for him, but as he came out from behind the cover he saw the Zangoose had not even waited to see if the attack had hit but immediately turned and ran, then took an impressive leap and latched onto the wall and began climbing towards the sliced open window with impressive speed.

Unfurling his ears, Tybalt used Psychic but must have missed as the Zangoose did not even flinch as it made his way up and out the window onto the fire escape.

With a bit of concentration Tybalt used his powers to lift himself up into the air—he couldn’t do it for too long at a time, but he could make it out the window.

Once he made it outside he set himself down for a second and heard the sound of something cutting through air followed by a squawky yell.

Cursing, he floated up to the roof instead of wasting time climbing and saw the Pidgeot lying injured and the Zangoose fleeing towards the other end of the building.

Tybalt ran as fast as he could in pursuit, stopping to give the guard an Oran Berry, as the Zangoose simply jumped to the next roof over.

Tybalt levitated across as well, but he knew he wasn’t going to win a race, if only due to having such short legs, but still he ran at his top speed, feeling the cold night air against his face as he pulled out his Pokégear and shouted instructions to Jacob and Tancred, updating them on the street location as he chased the Zangoose from roof to roof.

Around the fifth jump the Zangoose turned after landing and launched another Shadow Ball, hoping to blast Tybalt out of the air, though the Meowstic managed to float out of the way by—but so narrowly that the sphere left a burn mark along his coat. Tybalt countered with a Psychic of his own as he landed, but again the Zangoose seemed to dodge.

They were running out of buildings tall enough to jump to now, and the Zangoose jumped down to the ground level this time. Tybalt followed and his small size came in handy this time as his lower weight made the fall less damaging.

“Stop!” Tybalt yelled as he continued the chase, though his muscles were starting to burn and his breath was wavering, and when the Zangoose turned and launched another Shadow Ball he was not quite able to avoid it this time, though he managed to hastily raise a Light Screen.

Crying out in shock as the Shadow Ball sent him flying and hitting the pavement. Moaning, Tybalt ate an Oran berry, but by the time he unsteadily rose to his feet he knew he would never catch up to Zangoose now, at least not by chasing them.

He took a deep breath, ate another Oran Berry for safety, then and turned on tracking in his Pokégear, which showed several signals staying still at the Music Hall and another one rapidly making its way east.

*

Tybalt walked steadily, following his prey while hoping that his ruse had not been detected. The tracking signal had stopped some time ago, and that meant the burglar had either returned to their hideout or they discovered the device and dropped it off elsewhere to lure Tybalt off-trail.

Finally he crossed over into the Sapphire district, and a quick glance at his Pokégear confirmed he was very near the signal now. Not a bad place to hide; entire streets had been abandoned after a horrible fire last year.

Going through the lonely streets he reached a small warehouse, and a quick glance at his Pokégear confirmed the signal was coming from inside. He quickly called Jacob and Tancred to give them the address, but knew he couldn’t wait for them; Sunloft Tower was practically on the other side of Everlight City and the burglar could leave any time if they were really inside.

Tybalt looked around for a way in; the heavy sliding door was shut and he doubted the power was on, but he spotted a smaller office entrance up a set of steps protected by metal railings. He had to do short hops at each step—this whole building was not small-accessible—before reaching the door and paused to consider if he should make his way in carefully or try to surprise them by storming in.

Based off what happened in the Music Hall they seemed unlikely to startle, so it might be better to go slow and careful.

Using some telekinesis to turn the door knob he entered into a raised area overseeing the rest of the building. He climbed onto a chair and poked his head up past the nearby desk to get as good a view as he could without revealing too much of himself.

Crates of all shapes and sizes and palettes as far as the eye could see. There was no machinery for moving them so he guessed they employed strong Pokémon here.

Then he spotted the Zangoose, standing some distance away by the left wall near a set of tables, dumping the contents of his bag onto one of them.

Taking a second to focus Tybalt stood up and called out.

“Good evening! I’m sorry I missed you back on the roof!” he said, pleased at the sentence which had two meanings, if you examined it carefully.

The Zangoose turned and snarled at him, dropping the bag and moving into a fighting position as Tybalt floated down to the floor level.

“You’re a pest, you know?” the Zangoose grumbled.

“I sure am. I think this game’s over, so why not stop fooling around?” Tybalt said. “You’re no more a Zangoose than I am—and you’re no Ditto, either. Why not drop the façade and show me what you really are?”

The ‘Zangoose’ smirked at that and began to shimmer and wave before dissipating like mist and revealing a tall, grey canine-like creature with red claws and hair, the latter in a long, spiky mane.

Tybalt took a step backwards as he looked the creature up and down—he had no idea what sort of Pokémon they were.

“When and how did you figure it out?” the creature asked, beginning to slowly approach the detective. “I thought I had been very careful.”

“A few things made me suspicious. Firstly, you sure seemed to keep finding Pokémon to turn into that knew Shadow Ball. Then on the roof you didn’t use Transform to turn into the Pidgeot security guard and just fly away instead of running. And you just kept climbing, never any easier forms for entrance, like a Gastly or something.”

The creature smirked broadly and clapped his claws together three times in a slow, taunting manner. “Bravo! My kind were never brought to this chilly continent; I thought I’d get away with it for at least a year.”

Sinnoh, Hoenn…perhaps one of the islands?” Tybalt thought, when a suspicion wormed its way into his mind.

“I realize you were going after places protected by the private security companies, but why?” Tybalt said. “You stole valuable stones from the museum and just tossed them into the sea. Not to mention items of not worth fencing….are you working for another security company planning to move into Occeris, and this is a plan to disgrace your competitors?”

The illusionist flashed a grin. “Why, detective, your mind goes to such wondrously conspiratorial places! The truth is that I was bored. My home country is so dull these days—why not come to this city and enjoy a little vacation for a while? But after a while I had my fill of the normal attractions—wine, arena battles, sex, and all that. So I found something more exciting to do. Sneak into some oh-so-secure buildings, grab whatever is at hand, let everyone know it was the same sneak, and enjoy a good laugh in the papers after! Especially those gems I put in the drink; I wonder how many migraines Security got trying to work that out?”

Tybalt shook his head. “You ever considered something more respectable for getting your kicks, like joining the Explorer’s Guild or the Search and Rescue Team?”

“You know, I sought out such organizations back home, but they all said I was ‘a loose cannon’, a ‘liability’, ‘insubordinate’, and similar petty complaints. But I’m glad they turned me down; this is so much more entertaining.”

Then the creature crossed his arms and said, “Now, perhaps you would do the honor of answering my question. I was sure I lost you, so how did you catch up?”

“I realized you were just grabbing things at random near the entry point, so I placed tracking bugs on a few items near every possible way in. That potted plant you stuffed in your bag led me right here.”

The creature laughed in a coarse, barking manner. “I usually check for those, but your damned pursuit drove it right from my mind.”

Tybalt stepped forward, "Under Republic law I am informing you that you are now under arrest, per Code seventeen paragraph five. I am required to show you my license permitting me to do so, if requested,” he added.

The illusionist’s jaw opened and his eyes widened in exaggeratedly feigned concern.

"Am I now?" the illusionist asked in a cloyingly insincere tone of fear, and then swiped his claw at the wall, leaving a deep cut in the concrete.

"Are you quite sure about that, detective?”

Then the creature charged and struck the Psychic type with a backhanded Slash attack that sent Tybalt to the floor.

Tybalt was quick to start rising, but the creature picked him up in his claws and began to squeeze, smiling sinisterly.

“Because I think that maybejust maybe!—I’m going to beat you unconscious, walk out of here as free as the air, and grab a ferry off this backwater before you wake up and blab about what you’ve learned…yes, on the balance I’d say that is much more likely."

Tybalt’s ears unfurled and he used a Psychic attack, fully expecting the creature to be sent flying into the wall, but nothing happened. The illusionist made a dark, humorless laugh, and began digging his sharp claws into the Meowstic’s body, causing Tybalt yell out as it felt like a set of needles started piercing his skin all over.

“He’s a dark type!” Tybalt thought as he struggled against the stabbing pains across his body. “I thought I was missing before, but the attacks just weren’t working!”

“You should just give up, my cute little sleuth!” the illusionist said as he tightened his grip. “Be satisfied with finding me, even if you can’t take me.”

The cat growled as he struggled to gather energy and channel it into electricity, and as sparks began to gather around him the creature’s eyes widened in shock right before the Thunderbolt went off and coursed through the Dark-type’s body. As the illusionist hollered in surprise and pain Tybalt was able to wiggle free of his grasp, quickly leaping backwards the instant he landed to put distance between the two.

“Don’t call me cute,” he said.

His opponent had already recovered and extended his claws as an eerie dark glow enveloped them. Tybalt recognized a Night Slash when he saw one and was able to duck under it, raise a Reflect, and dodge a second Night Slash as well, though the creature was able to in turn dodge his retaliatory Thunderbolt.

Tybalt needed to win this quickly, and at the moment he could only attack the illusionist directly with thunderbolt…but that was not too big of a problem now.

Because they were in a warehouse.

Tybalt stepped back and to the side, getting behind one of the small crates.

And then with Psychic sending it flying right at the creature, who yelped and dodged it.

But Tybalt had already moved behind another and launched it, and another, and another...

Finally one hit, shattering into splinters as the illusionist yelled out and stumbled. Seizing the chance Tybalt charged up another Thunderbolt and released it, striking true.

The creature yelled out as the attack, waved on his feet, and then fell to one knee, and then to the floor. He pushed himself up with a groan, but the dim look in his eyes made clear he was out of energy and would not be using any Moves; the fight was over.

Tybalt cleared his throat. “Per Republic law I am informing you that you are now under arrest…”

*

Everything went quickly and smoothly from there.

Tancred and Jacob got there along with a Republic Security squad. Apparently the creature was what is called a Zoroark. The Zoroark was taken into custody and most of the stolen items were found in the warehouse—including the disc he’d been hired to recover. Tybalt called the museum to give them the good news, and was assured his payment would be wired to his account within 24 hours.

He was especially looking forward to tomorrow’s newspaper, and was was planning to clip out the no-doubt front page story reporting this triumph of his and put it on the wall of his office.

*

Cute Little Detective Crushes Big Case!

Tybalt’s left eye twitched.

Well, it was the front page story, and a photograph of him was there.

He didn’t appreciate realizing how adorable he looked in still photos.

He was definitely still going to put it on his wall, though.

Just below and to the right of his certification.

There was not a lot of space there, so a tiny bit of the story would be covered up.

Just the first two words of the headline, though.

No problem at all.

*

Author’s Notes:

*Wildborn is basically a gender neutral equivalent of ‘bastard’ in modern usage; a curse that can be either hostile or affectionate in meaning, depending on relation and context.

So…yeah. I soft retconned how the move Psychic works in this chapter.

See, I’d forgotten that in the games it’s just a telekinetic blast rather than being able to take control of objects and hurl them around.

Luckily this doesn’t directly contradict the previous chapters; a blast can be a decent description of his fight scene and could be used to move objects around from a distance. However I feel the need to be honest about that here.

So, with two sample chapters there are a couple of differences between the way the two stories are written you may notice: firstly, Everlight Stories actually has chapter titles, while Magic Act does not.
Secondly, the point of view is always firmly locked on Tybalt in Stories, while Magic Act's POV moves around.
 
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System Error

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Wow suddenly rocket mode, but well, guess that means some reading.

- Not expecting a shortstacks detective
- It's not a hardboiled detective genre without some drinking. Or well, wannaba hardboiled detective.
- Hey, they could've stolen something NC-17 instead, so it's not all that bad
- Ah Verdant Manor. Shoutouts to the oneshot.
- I mean being a big bulky Mega Man X-esque boss who can set things on fire is good for getting info.
- Almost all the time? So he has seen human porn before!
- I imagine you could make some goddamn bank doing the opposite of most modern Pokemon films. That's how things like Die Hard gained notoriety, by breaking from the mold.
- After writing above I clicked back in and saw "he was in love" and was very confused at first.
- This is going to become a running gag for the poor guy, isn't it?
- No effect, huh? It's unlikely a trained security guard would've missed, especially when standing from behind. It sounds like we have an illusion-user on our hands.
- The mystery deepens. Also toad-ally makes sense that Toxicroak would be good jumpers.
- Seems the theory is looking more and more correct. Although they seem to think it's a Ditto, preliminarily.
- Fuck yeah Seaking finding the goods
- Aliases!!
- And the impressive thing about that sentence too would be that it only has three words in it.
- Wonder why he'd be even welcome in here if it's about all sorts of shady dealings?
- Fed to a wild animal? Confirmation they exist and somehow survived the human apocalypse and are somehow a little feared by Pokemon?
- Double speak!
- Or maybe they're a phantom thief in it for the thrill!
- These Pokemon have some audacity naming their good-for-nothing security companies after their moves and abilities!!
- Hm, one possibility: they're hired by Iron Defense in order to make their competitors look incompetent. Of course, it's just idle speculation right now.
- Or one scene later, maybe they are hitting all the private security. The question is, why?
- If only he used Psybeam or something, then the ruse would be immediately up
- "Show me your true form!" rips off mask
- Indeed, Tybalt is a competent detective. I wonder what this Zoroark would've done if they ran into a Normal-type security guard though? If there was a Girafarig or Indeedee on duty their Shadow Balls wouldn't be so hot.
- It's funny because LA establishes they were brought there, then everyone hated them and they all died
- Hey bringing up my theory. But no, it was just the bored phantom thief one.
- Hm, it is interesting. We have established the "good" forces are really uptight.
- I guess it was established Tybalt isn't known for his direct fighting abiltiies given he just tried to use Psychic when there was probable evident it wasn't going to work.
- Should've learned how to use...Power-Up Punch?? Seriously, can't even learn Focus Miss or Brick Break? Man, Meowstic sucks.
- Force push! The most devastating of moves.
- Was moves capitalized on purpose there?
- Nice scene cut, lmao
- So kawaii uguu~. It's a compliment, Tybalt. Love it!
- On notes: I mean in the anime, Psychic is sometimes shown as the first way instead of a telekinectic blast. Looking it up, being able to take control of your opponent with Psychic was shown in the anime as recently as just a couple weeks ago.

Interesting stuff. Another day in the life of Tybalt, who does not understand or at least like the concept of a cute bruiser. Everlight feels a lot more serialized than Magic Act is, at least based off the first two chapters. But then again on the other hand, is serialization not the basis for the detective genre? Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean it all can't come together at some point in the future. It shall be seen as I read on, I suppose.
 

Daren

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- Hey, they could've stolen something NC-17 instead, so it's not all that bad
- Almost all the time? So he has seen human porn before!
I'm quoting these two together because there's a funny story, here; originally it was going to be implied it was 100% a porno the museum had based off some comments about it, then at the end Percy and Tybalt would watch it, make some comments suggesting it's a definitely a porn, only to reveal it's a weird art film that had a hour long tennis match. I thought the joke required too much set-up for the value of the punchline and cut it.
As for "almost all the time" I was thinking more those scenes in PG-13 movies were two people are in bed naked but the naughty bits are covered up by the sheets.

- Wonder why he'd be even welcome in here if it's about all sorts of shady dealings?
A hardboiled private detective inevitably has to deal with underworld contacts at some point; he just needs the password and not to cause trouble to get in, and he's not advertising his job--part of why aliases are safer for everyone.

- Fed to a wild animal? Confirmation they exist and somehow survived the human apocalypse and are somehow a little feared by Pokemon?
There will be a bit more detail on normal animals but Pokémon aren't particularly afraid of them so much as it being a way to dispose of the body after. There's a bit of a cliche of feeding bodies to pigs to get rid of them.

- Indeed, Tybalt is a competent detective. I wonder what this Zoroark would've done if they ran into a Normal-type security guard though? If there was a Girafarig or Indeedee on duty their Shadow Balls wouldn't be so hot.
It's over very quickly, but Tybalt hears him defeating the Pidgeot guard off-screen; it's not shown but he used Night Slash.

- It's funny because LA establishes they were brought there, then everyone hated them and they all died
Yeaaah...large portions of this chapter pre-date LA so that became sort unintentionally funny, especially since Occeris has a similar climate to Sinnoh and the Zorua line would therefore die there, too.

- I guess it was established Tybalt isn't known for his direct fighting abiltiies given he just tried to use Psychic when there was probable evident it wasn't going to work.
In Tybalt's defense he knew they used Shadow Ball a lot and figured a fast-moving target was just hard to hit while trying to chase after them. That said he's more brute force than finesse in terms of battling; Etain and Sylvia would both be better technical fighters, though Etain would have vastly less raw power due to the species' baseline strength difference.
For a behind the scenes peak: In the first draft they kept using Dark Pulse and Tybalt knew about Zoroarks and had Miracle Eye prepped, but I though it would make him more fallible if he made a misjudgement here. I then changed Dark Pulse to Shadow Ball so he has a plausible reason not to realize they were a Dark-type.

- Should've learned how to use...Power-Up Punch?? Seriously, can't even learn Focus Miss or Brick Break? Man, Meowstic sucks.
I used to think every evolved Pokémon with hands got Focus Miss but no, apparently not!
Though one of the reasons I picked a Meowstic is that it's a fully evolved species that's small and cute and not that powerful.
The other reason is so I could make a pun about calling it "L.A Meow" when the opportunity arised--which it just did!

- Was moves capitalized on purpose there?
Yes; I wasn't sure if that was the proper way to do it, but I wanted to single it out specifically as the Pokémon concept of a "Move" rather than just being able to move in general.

- On notes: I mean in the anime, Psychic is sometimes shown as the first way instead of a telekinectic blast. Looking it up, being able to take control of your opponent with Psychic was shown in the anime as recently as just a couple weeks ago.
That's honestly how I got it wrong (I saw the show before I got the games so it had a big effect on how I view a lot of things) then decided to change it; way too easy to win a fight if you can ragdoll your opponent with your brain and I do want him to fight non-Dark types.

Everlight feels a lot more serialized than Magic Act is, at least based off the first two chapters. But then again on the other hand, is serialization not the basis for the detective genre? Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean it all can't come together at some point in the future. It shall be seen as I read on, I suppose.
Everlight is definitely more serialized, but there is a main plot that's getting built up to...
 
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