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TEEN: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Hands of Creation

Discussion in 'Writers Workshop' started by namohysip, Aug 19, 2018.

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  1. namohysip

    namohysip Dragon Enthusiast

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    Thanks for the feedback, Canis! I think I got a little sloppy with these revisions due to...

    So... yeah. I think I flubbed the revisions on this chapter for one bit in particular--that paragraph about a few days passing? That... wasn't supposed to be there. I've already removed it. Ignore that. Only a night has passed.

    Next up, Amby. The overall impression I get is that I'm probably going to revamp the latter part of this scene (and... maybe cut down on a bit of the flying bit? But some of that is important--I'll elaborate below)

    In general, in hindsight, it does seem like a bit of a weak scene. I'll take a look at this when I revise through it, but I think the first thing that I don't think I elaborated on is the fact that this isn't actually a Dungeon. It's just... a factory. No crazy Dungeon barrier here, just an abandoned ancient factory. Which leads into the point where it was very non-threatening this time around.

    So, this is where I messed up the most. I'll be revising this scene some to alter the tone, because if I'm not going to make it dangerous, I absolutely should be more focused on the sense of unease and alien appearance of this place (well, relatively speaking.)

    So, yes, this, basically. Fear of the unknown, maybe Owen getting enthusiastic about it being some sort of ancient location meant to be rediscovered? And the washing that into... well... fear of, "oh, wait, this is actually really different." However...

    So, here's the thing. This area--the factory--is not meant to be threatening to the group. The sand isn't actually mega-toxic. I mean, well, it is? But not in the "touch it and die" sense. It's probably carcinogenic or something, but that's small potatoes compared to what they were dealing with before. If anything, maybe I can divert that a little. The fact that it's not threatening unnerves them further?

    Agree to disagree on the base, but I suppose I could cut down on a bit of it. There was a small glimpse at the Void that I wanted to get out here, and also just a little bit of Owen having a small pleasure in life, but aside from that, I guess I could cut down on the unnecessary information.

    As mentioned before, it's not a Dungeon, so I'm going to have to rework the scene to be more on the mystifying and unnerving side than the outright dangerous side. Hmm. I'll need to think on this one and probably spend a good portion on it tomorrow. Depending on how substantial the rework is, I might even announce it... ehh. Maybe not. It's just tone. Stay tuned, I guess?
     
  2. Threadmarks: Chapter 31 - Ancient Tradition
    namohysip

    namohysip Dragon Enthusiast

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    Chapter 31 – Ancient Tradition

    Mispy flew high into the air and slammed hard against the rocks. “Ugh!” She tumbled and rolled, eventually coming to a stop on her side. Her vines twitched weakly.

    Demitri puffed, scratching his tusks with pride. “That’s a win for me,” he said, walking toward the fallen Chikorita. “Mispy? You alright?”

    Mispy didn’t move.

    “Aw, c’mon, Mispy, it wasn’t that bad,” he said. The powerful Axew gulped. “R-right? Mispy?”

    Still no response.

    He quickened his pace, clenching his fists. He didn’t hit too hard, did he? “Mispy, I—”

    She suddenly jumped to her feet, firing her pent-up Solar Beam toward him. It was so fast and so sudden that Demitri had no time to dodge. He screamed in surprise and covered his face. The beam burned his scales and sent him flying several feet backwards, tumbling to the ground in the same way. The Axew coughed a plume of smoke when he finally stopped.

    “Th-that’s enough, now!” Zena shouted, slithering toward the dueling pair. “Please—I don’t want you two going all-out!”

    “What’re you talking about?” Demitri asked, staggering to his feet. “If anything goes wrong, our Tiny Reviver Seeds will activate…”

    “That’s—yes, but—that’s quite wasteful!”

    “Anam makes tons of them,” Demitri said. “They’re not like regular Revivers. All they do is help you get enough energy to move again and restore the body a little bit, you know?”

    “Did one activate just now?”

    “No. Which means we didn’t push ourselves hard enough,” Demitri said, frowning.

    “I—I think you push yourselves just fine!”

    Mispy wobbled toward Demitri and wrapped her vines around him, channeling healing energy through him. She then rubbed along his body, scraping the ash off, exposing new, fresh scales. He smiled and nuzzled her when she got close.

    “It’s just how we fight, Zena,” Demitri said calmly. “It’s okay. I think… that’s just part of how we are, I guess. That’s not so bad, right?” He tittered, but caught the Milotic’s worried eyes. “Look… if we can keep it under control, it’s okay, right? But we haven’t had a good fight in a while, and that sparring match we had with Owen left me feeling antsy.”

    “Me, too,” Mispy said, prodding the ground with her right foreleg. She hesitated, but then looked up at Zena—her towering form compared to her Chikorita self was at least slightly intimidating. She gulped. “Um,” she said, “are we…?”

    Zena sighed, looking away. “Well, I suppose if you enjoy yourselves. Rhys told me to keep an eye on you two while the others trained, since I know the Suppression Aura, too, just in case…”

    “Yeah…”

    “Is something bothering you?” asked Zena.

    Mispy prodded the rocks again, finding a loose pebble to toy with. “Are we… monsters?”

    Zena hesitated for a bit too long.

    Mispy turned around.

    “N-no, you aren’t,” Zena said. “You aren’t. You aren’t monsters, because creatures like those… wouldn’t be worried about something like that in the first place, don’t you think?”

    Mispy didn’t seem convinced, but she sighed, conceding. “I guess,” she said.

    “Hey,” Demitri said, patting her on the back. He huddled a bit closer to her, “Rhys left us alone with Zena who barely knows the Suppression whatever. So…” He gently rubbed her back, just below the buds along her neck. “Don’t worry about it. We might’ve been created, but we’re still us.”

    “Yeah…” Mispy smiled, brushing her leaf against his head. “Thanks.”

    A white light enveloped her.

    “M-Mispy?” Demitri squeaked, staggering away.

    Even though it was only her middle stage, Zena readied a bit of the strange aura just in case, holding it between her ribbons. When the black sparks shot out, Demitri quickly dodged one of them, shivering at the residual feeling it gave off, like electricity. “What even is that stuff?” he mumbled.

    “Rhys said that it’s anti-evolution energy,” Zena said. “Apparently the Suppression Aura… is a key that makes your own auras synthesize the material, reversing your evolutions. The act of evolving shakes off that aura.”

    The light faded. Mispy, a Bayleef, opened one eye, looking down. She lifted her legs tentatively, then looked at Demitri.

    “How do you feel?” Demitri said.

    Mispy considered her answer. “Mm… normal,” she said.

    “Incorrect,” ADAM said, quietly observing from his home nearby. “Grass Type detected.”

    Mispy giggled, as did Zena. Then, the newly evolved Bayleef wrapped her vines around Demitri. “Let’s evolve you next,” she said.

    <><><> ​

    “Humans…?” Owen repeated, still trying to grasp the concept. “What do you mean, the human world? So, you used to be human?! But—but I thought humans were just mythical creatures!”

    He had so many questions to ask. Was it true? Was Brandon the Steel Guardian because humans really were made of metal? Did they eat metal, too? Or did they eat stone? There were so many rumors about humans—there was no telling which ones were true. They were even more unknown than Mew and Arceus themselves—if Owen ignored the past moon or so.

    Brandon laughed. “No, they’re far from mythical,” he said. “If anything, they’re less impressive than Pokémon. They don’t know moves, and they can’t really stand up to a Pokémon in a fight unless they’re very highly trained. They cheat and use special tools instead. Tools like these.” He reached over to the platform and picked up one of the strange, red-white orbs.

    Rhys quickly went on his guard.

    The very fact that Rhys, of all of them, was on his guard put Owen on edge.

    “Don’t worry, this one doesn’t work,” Brandon said. “This factory hasn’t been used in ages. The stuff on this assembly line is basically useless.” He dropped the orb to the ground, where it split into multiple fragments.

    Owen slowly relaxed, but couldn’t help but focus on his peculiar wording. The ones on the assembly line didn’t work? Then which ones did?

    “So,” the Machoke went on. “I take it you’re here to have me join in your little games? Star’s little underlings against Arceus’ Trinity against Eon’s subjects.”

    “Uh—hang on, what? To all of those things,” Owen said, holding a claw to his chest. “I’m not Star’s underling, and what’s this about a Trinity? And Eon, uh…”

    Brandon eyed Owen curiously. “You mean you aren’t aligned with Star or Barky?” he said. “Or Eon?”

    “Aligned? What?” Owen squinted at Brandon, but then remembered the Promise that Barky had asked of him, and the one that Star nearly did, too. He shook his head. “I’m just… I’m just trying to make things right,” he said. “I want to stop the Hunters from killing the Guardians so we can just relax. It’s too hard to live alone like they’ve been… I don’t want that. For anyone.”

    This caught Brandon’s interest. The Machoke stopped surveying the walls and stared directly at Owen. He approached, his metallic feet making loud, clanging echoes across the abandoned factory. When Owen took a few steps back—and Amia took a warning step forward—Brandon raised his arms with a smirk. He settled for where he stood, about five paces away from Owen’s group.

    Brandon hummed thoughtfully. “…You… you’re still a Charmeleon.”

    “Y-yeah,” Owen said, holding his position with tensed muscles.

    “Which means you can’t handle your true form yet. Like an awkward cocoon.”

    “U-uh, I guess you could put it like that,” Owen said.

    Brandon looked at Gahi next, kneeling down. “And you. You must’ve gone back to being a Trapinch, so you can’t handle it, either.”

    “Yeah, what of it? I’m workin’ on it. Lay off.” Gahi clicked his jaws at Brandon. “I can evolve any time I want!”

    “Oh?” Brandon said.

    “Y-yeah, eh… just gimme a second and I bet I could.”

    “So, if I have you evolve right now, you can handle being a Vibrava?”

    “Y-yeah! Totally! …Yeah, Owen?” Gahi asked. “I ain’t crazy as a Vibrava?”

    “What? You were fine,” Owen said. “Were—were we crazy as that before, too?”

    He looked at Amia and Rhys; they both looked away. “Ngh—so you didn’t even tell me that? How come this guy knows more about me than I do?”

    “Well, Arceus told me about it, mostly,” said Brandon. “We chat. You know, he can be a real gossip if you know how to ask questions the right way. I’m part of the Trinity. Steel, Poison, and Dragon Orbs happen to be under Arceus’ loyalty. And we’re all too strong for you, so I’d recommend you just head on back. Not even Rim wants to take me on.”

    “You don’t feel all that strong,” Owen muttered.

    “How about you come up to my face and say that?” Brandon asked.

    “Maybe I will,” Owen said, flame brightening a bit.

    “Ohh, look! You’re growing a spine!” Brandon clapped his hands together, creating a loud clang. “Aw, hey, I’m just kidding around. I get it, you’re still sealed away. Still. Don’t think you can take me on. I’m keeping you around because I like the chat and I haven’t had a good fight in decades. Do you know how boring it is meditating for years at a time? Very.”

    “W-wait,” Amia said, “we didn’t come here to fight if we didn’t have to.”

    “Oh?” Brandon said. “Then how come you brought two Fire Types, a Ground Type, and a Fighting Type to the Steel Guardian’s place?” he asked. “C’mon, I’m not stupid.”

    Rhys flinched. “We were—just being careful, in case you were hostile.”

    “Aside from the pretty one, you brought a Hunter and two Synthetics to meet me. You’re lucky I didn’t kill you guys on the spot.”

    “P-pretty?” Amia said. “Oh, dear…”

    “We’re sorry if our arrangement was suspicious. I should have considered that,” Rhys said formally. “But we truly do want to do this peacefully, and it’s only for the benefit of the Guardians. I would like to point out that I made a Promise to one of the other Guardians to never kill one of your kind again. I can assure you that I am, by divine contract, safe. Will you come with us?”

    “No deal,” Brandon said, holding up his hand. “I’m with Arceus on this one. Gathering the Orbs together is just asking for trouble, and I’d rather not stir the pot.”

    “Did you make a Divine Promise to not come with us?” Owen asked.

    “I made a Promise to keep myself away from the other Guardians,” he said. “It’s not a violation to allow them to approach me like this, but I’m not about to come with you guys. Got it?”

    “But… but it’s not safe!” Owen said. “What if Rim gets even stronger? The Hunters already have three Orbs. What happens if they get more…? At some point, won’t you be overpowered?”

    “Maybe,” said Brandon, “but I think Arceus has a better chance at handling them than I would, if that happens.”

    Owen thought about this. Arceus could handle an overwhelming power—he believed that much. He was the Creator, after all. He witnessed his power firsthand; only Star could counter something like that. But if that was the case… “Then why doesn’t he just do that now?” Owen asked.

    “What do you mean? They aren’t a threat to him yet, so why bother?”

    “Yeah, but why bother letting even a minor threat grow? They could eventually take him down. Shouldn’t he just… I dunno… smite the people who are trying to overthrow him?”

    “Well… maybe,” Brandon said. “Maybe he’s showing them mercy by giving them an opportunity to take it all back, or something.” He shrugged. “Or maybe Star gets in his way if he tries. She’s pretty shady, you know.”

    Owen grumbled. He refused to admit he had a point, so he just snorted flames out his nostrils.

    “Look,” Brandon said, “it’s not like I care all that much. I agree with him, so I’m gonna sit right here and keep things the way they are. It’s… the best thing to do.”

    “The best…? What’s that even mean?” Owen said.

    “Ahem.”

    Amia jumped in surprise and spun around. “Wh-who—?”

    “Hi, Hecto!” Owen waved. “I thought I sensed you. Uh… how come you’re here?”

    The canid Zygarde made a soldier-like trot toward the group and gave a nod in greeting to Amia. He addressed the group, “I am stationed here to keep a close watch on the factory and Brandon. The artifacts that are here cannot be tampered with. Destroying this place would risk releasing these objects into the ocean, which could then spread them essentially anywhere that has a shore. Therefore, it must simply be contained.”

    “Okay, I get that,” Owen said, “but what is this? And why doesn’t Arceus just annihilate the factory? Like, he totally could do that if he wanted, right?”

    Brandon shrugged. “Maybe,” he said. “Or maybe he’s saving it for a rainy day.”

    “You’re the least helpful Guardian we’ve ever talked to,” Owen said.

    “What, is being helpful my job?” Brandon said. “Then where’s my pay? Besides, I’m far from the least helpful. Didn’t the Fairy try to crush you?”

    “Y-yeah, but she’s friendly now,” Owen said.

    “She probably just thinks you’re a big toy, y’know,” Brandon said.

    Owen twitched. “What’s your point?!”

    “I dunno.” Brandon shrugged. “I haven’t been able to chat with folks that aren’t my spirits for a while. Talking with them gets kinda samey. Maybe I like chatting after all? Hah. If me a thousand years ago could say that…” He shook his head.

    Hecto watched the exchange without changing his expression. When the idle chat died down, he said, “Brandon, perhaps you should explain to them what these mechanical spheres are.”

    “Yeah, yeah,” he said. The metal Machoke looked at the orbs on the production line and shook his head. “That’s the legacy of humans. Their ambition to be the strongest species in the world by doing nothing more than manipulating your kind. By capturing, controlling, and indoctrinating Pokémon to do their bidding. Their battles. Their wars…” Brandon tapped a finger on his crossed arm. “All of it in the name of human ego.”

    He snorted. “I’ve been there. I’ve been a human. I know exactly what it’s like to be on top, how it feels to be in control—but I’ve also seen what it means to be on the bottom. And I’m not about to put this world through that by leaving this place unguarded.”

    Owen stared. “How can… what’s made in this factory be able to do something like that? How can any single species be that powerful? Everything has a counter, doesn’t it? Like, if there was ever, uh, maybe a Rock Type uprising, I’d be in pretty big trouble…”

    Brandon looked at Rhys. “Should I show him?”

    “Ngh… I suppose Owen’s curiosity won’t let me say no,” Rhys said. “Amia, Gahi, Owen, I need one of you to go forward as a volunteer.”

    “A—A volunteer?” Owen said.

    “I’ll do it,” Gahi said. He wobbled forward and looked up. “Okay, what’s this gonna be fer?”

    Brandon looked up and waved his hand gently in the air; something fell down. It was another one of those orbs, though this one shined brighter, and looked a lot newer. “I kept these ones safe, but I guess it’d be good to get rid of one for this,” he said.

    “That one’s a different color,” Amia said. Instead of being red and white, this one was white on the bottom and black on the top, with yellow lines.

    “Yeah, this one’s stronger. Just in case this guy puts up a fight. Trapinch…” Brandon hummed. “I’d say since he’s at his best, catching him would be a fifty-fifty shot with this. Maybe a little better. It’s been a while. You ready?”

    “Sure. Go fer it. What’re yeh gonna do wi—”

    Brandon tossed the ball; it hit Gahi on the head.

    “Oy, what was tha—!?” The ball opened, and a light enveloped Gahi. In less than a second, the Trapinch was gone, and the ball fell to the ground, wiggling.

    “Gahi?!” Owen and Amia said. Rhys lowered his head.

    It shook a few times, almost violently, like someone was struggling inside. And then, the wiggling stopped, and there was a quiet click noise. Owen’s heart sank. “Wh-what… what happened?” he said, taking an uneasy step forward. “Gahi? A-are… are you in there?”

    “He is,” Brandon said, approaching the sphere. “He’s probably disoriented right now. But he’s in there. It’s not easy to get out once it seals them. That’s what the click was.” He leaned down and picked the ball up. “Humans would capture Pokémon in these capsules. We called them Poké Balls for that reason. This one is an Ultra Ball—about twice as strong as the average Poké Ball, those red ones.” Brandon looked down at the little button, but didn’t press it. “Hey, Gahi? You hear me? Why don’t you try escaping, huh?” He held the ball flat on his palm. “I’d send you out the traditional way, but I want to show how hard it is for a new ‘wild Pokémon’ to escape these things.”

    “Wild? But Gahi isn’t wild!” Owen said. “He’s a little weird, but that’s because he’s a Modified Pokémon, not wild!”

    “Same difference. Any Pokémon not under the control of a human is considered wild,” Brandon said. The ball wiggled weakly. “That’s how the culture of humanity went. Sure, there were exceptions among them, but for the most part, you had to be under the dominion of a trainer to be considered not wild.”

    The ball wiggled helplessly again.

    “Guess Gahi can’t figure it out. Alright, Trapinch. Come on out!” Brandon tossed the ball; at the apex of its throw, it opened. A white light emerged, poured onto the ground, and solidified into Gahi.

    Gahi wobbled a few steps and turned around. “Wh-what was that?” he mumbled. “Was… was weird. Felt real weird.”

    “Weird, huh?” Brandon said. “To be honest, I dunno what it’s like.”

    “It was kinda like I was just… floatin’ in there,” Gahi said. “Didn’t have a body. Felt… I dunno, weird. But I guess it was okay… felt kinda relaxed, eh…” He looked off. “I guess it was fine.”

    “Yeah, it’s not bad, in itself,” Brandon said, but then looked at Gahi. “D’you wanna go back in?”

    Gahi looked tempted.

    “W-wait! Gahi, maybe don’t?” Owen said. “We don’t know why that happened, but you shouldn’t just jump back into that thing! You disappeared! That’s—that’s crazy!”

    Brandon nodded. “This is how wild Pokémon are tamed. They’re put in a stress-free, cozy environment. It’s not like we mistreat them. I’ll give humans credit for that much; the vast majority of trainers treat their Pokémon with respect and kindness, one way or another. And living in those Poké Balls, it’s like a little bliss to them, compared to having to tough it out in the wild. When they’re captured, they realize this. They’re pretty smart, even if they’re wild. They put it together that humans can take care of them. In return, they serve the human. In itself, it’s not a bad system.”

    Brandon looked down. “I was a trainer. I had lots of Pokémon, all loyal to me, and I took care of them. They were my partners. …No. They are my Partners.” He gently tapped his metallic had on his chest, making another clang. “My Pokémon are still with me, as my Steel spirits. So, I’m not going to deny that this technology made our lives better. But you know what? It can make lives a whole lot worse, too.”

    Brandon crushed the Ultra Ball in his hand. It shattered and fell to the floor. Gahi flinched, as if his home had been destroyed right in front of him—but the feeling was fleeting. The Trapinch sank to the back of the group, wordless.

    “Are you okay?” Owen asked quietly.

    “Y-yeh, I’m fine,” Gahi said. “Jus’… weird, is all. That whole thing. But I dunno. I guess I prefer walking around normally.”

    Owen watched Gahi for a bit longer, but then reached down. He picked him up; to Owen’s surprise, Gahi didn’t resist. In fact, he pressed his head against Owen’s chest again.

    Brandon continued. “I don’t want someone taking advantage of this technology here, either.”

    “Then… why not destroy the factory carefully?” Amia said. “If you don’t like this technology, why don’t you just…?”

    “Again, I dunno,” Brandon said. “Arceus said to guard it, not destroy it, so that’s what I’m doing. I’ll trust him on that one.” Brandon tapped his chin. “Well, no. That wasn’t the whole story. I had him slip one day that he wanted to save it for a crisis. Apparently, it’s been used before?” He shrugged. “Wasn’t around when that happened. Or it’s just been so long that I forgot. What year is it?”

    Owen frowned. “But… our mission is to bring you with us,” he said. “If—if we can beat you, would you come with us?”

    “Mmmm…” Brandon tapped his chin thoughtfully. “Well, I Promised Arceus. That being said, I bet if I sweet-talked him enough, we can revoke it together. You just have to prove yourself. You’re on good terms with the guy, right?”

    Owen’s shoulders fell.

    “Yeah, I figured,” Brandon said. “But I’m not gonna make it hopeless. If you impress me enough, I’ll maybe think about coming along with you guys eventually. But with all that said, I’ll fight you anyway. It’s in your blood, and you’ll feel like trash if you didn’t get some fighting in, right?”

    Owen winced.

    “Yeah!” Gahi said. His spirits were already back to normal. He squirmed until Owen let go, landing on the ground with a little thud. “That’s right, yeh got it! So, at leas’ fight us, eh?!” He looked up at Owen, bumping his massive head against the bottom of his knee. “Oy, you gonna fight?”

    “H-huh?” Owen asked. “Y-yeah! Of—of course!” he said. Even if they weren’t going to bring him back, a fight sounded like fun regardless. “Fighting… battling… it’s the best!” he said. “Even if it’s in my instincts… it’s not like I’m hurting anyone!”

    “Well, you kinda are.” Brandon shrugged. “But I know what you mean. But if I fought you, this wouldn’t be fair. And my Pokémon… they feel the same way you do, in a way. Even if they know, now, that they were raised to like battling… it doesn’t really leave you. And I guess if it’s okay, it doesn’t hurt to have a proper fight now and then. Heheh…” Brandon created an orb of aura energy from his palm. “I’ll teach you a tradition of the human world. It’s about our Pokémon battles when we aren’t fighting in wars or other pointless things like that. Okay?”

    “A traditional human-world Pokémon battle?” Owen said. “Sure! Okay!”

    There was a little glint in Brandon’s steely eyes. “Heh… alright.”

    “Now, hold on,” Rhys said. “There’s no need for any of this.”

    “H-huh?” Owen looked back. “What do you mean? It’s fine to do this, right? We can win him over!”

    Rhys glared at Brandon. The Machoke smirked back.

    “Right…?”

    “We can’t leave, can we?” Rhys asked.

    “You could try,” Brandon said.

    The levity drained from the room like blood from an open wound. “Wait,” Owen said. “We can’t… leave?”

    “Not until I get my fight,” Brandon said, nodding. “Besides, that’s what you wanted, right? C’mon, your instincts are screaming to fight me, aren’t they?”

    “Nuh-no,” Owen said. “I’m in control of myself. I don’t feel a thing.”

    “You know, for someone with Perceive, you’re a bad liar,” Brandon said. “Look, I’m not gonna be coy with you. Fight me and I’ll let you go.”

    “Oh,” Owen said. “Okay. I—I guess I can work with that.” It wasn’t as if they had a choice. He had a sinking feeling they didn’t want to fight Brandon seriously on his own turf.

    Brandon nodded. “Arceus is telling me he wants to see you in action, and that’s all. Human’s honor, I won’t do anything more than that.”

    “Human’s honor,” Rhys said with a bitter snort. “That hardly means anything.”

    “What, and you have more, Hunter?” Brandon asked.

    “N-now, let’s not escalate things,” Amia said quickly.

    Brandon rolled his metal eyes. “Whatever.” He then tossed the aura energy; it formed into four Pokémon that mirrored their appearances. “My Pokémon used to have forms of their own, but they’ve gotten used to other bodies. So, I think it’d be appropriate if they mimicked you guys, huh?”

    “Oh, okay!” Amia said, quick to attempt to steer the tone of the factory in a positive direction. “I think that’s fair, but… you know, I think I’ll sit out, if you don’t plan to come with us. Why don’t we just have a battle between Gahi and Owen and their mirrors?”

    The two Pokémon mimicking Rhys and Amia seemed disappointed at this, slumping their shoulders. “No fair!” the double of Rhys said.

    Rhys flinched. It even sounded like him. And that childish tone…

    Gahi opened his mouth, amused. “Heh. Wish our Rhys was fun like that.”

    “I heard that.”

    “Hey, hey,” Brandon defused, “y’know what, if that’s how you’re gonna be, why don’t you guys just fuse three-three on them, huh?” Brandon tossed two more spirits out; rather than form into steely bodies, they went into the backs of Owen and Gahi’s metallic doubles.

    Owen blinked. “Fuse?” he said. “That’s… that’s possible?”

    Brandon stared at Owen, but then glanced at Rhys and Amia. They both looked away. “Uh, yeah,” Brandon said. “I mean—yeah, it’s uncommon, weird actually, but it’s definitely possible for Mystics, spirits—Just hold on.” Brandon gave a nod to the metal Lucario and Gardevoir. They melted into a puddle of metal. Then, the Owen and Gahi doppelgangers stepped onto one of the puddles each. The metal wrapped around them and clung tight, sinking into their bodies. Owen felt a wave of power radiate from the two that remained. He took a reflexive step back. “W-wow…” he said. “That… that feels so… strong.”

    “Fusion of this kind amplifies the aura, and therefore the power that is output by the Pokémon battling. So, to keep it fair,” Brandon held his hand parallel to the ground and lowered it; a strange field enveloped the metallic fighters, “I’m gonna suppress their power as if they’re just a single Pokémon each.”

    Owen looked at Gahi, and then at his opponents. “Okay. So, we’ll fight on even terms. That’s fine. Gahi, you think you can take them on?”

    “Heh, nobody’s better at being me than me. I’ll beat ‘em.”

    “Hmph, we’ll see,” said Brandon. “You’ll see the true strength behind Pokémon and their trainers.” The Machoke swung his arm forward, “Alright, guys! I’m gonna call you guys by what species you are, so don’t get confused!”

    “Right!” the two—six, technically—of them said. They both entered a battle stance.

    Owen briefly wondered why Brandon was agreeing to this fight. He sounded like the least committed Guardian ever for joining them. Even if he won, what would come of it? Not to mention Rhys and Amia simply sitting back for this. Were they conserving their energy in case Brandon attacked? That had to be it.

    How thoughtful of them. That meant Owen wouldn’t have to worry as much. Besides, the fight was tempting. He just had to keep on his guard. Gahi was antsy, anyway. He deserved to blow off some steam.

    “G-good luck, dear,” Amia said, stepping away with Rhys. She said quietly to him, “What does he mean by the true strength?” she said.

    “Hm… I believe I know what he is referring to,” Rhys said. “But we will have to see.”

    Brandon eyed Rhys again. “So, you wanna be the referee for this?” he said. “Maybe the… Referhys?”

    “Never say that again,” Rhys said.

    Brandon shrugged. “Suit yourself. Alright. Guess I’ll call the start. Ready… begin!”

    Owen and Gahi both opened with their usual moves—Owen with a plume of fire, and Gahi with a zig-zag dash shrouded in shadows.

    “Trapinch, counter with Feint Attack! Charmeleon, Dragon Claw!”

    The Steel Pokémon obeyed, rushing right for their respective opponents. Gahi landed his Feint Attack with a powerful tackle, but his mirror did the exact same thing, knocking them both away from each other. Despite being made of metal, he seemed just as durable as Gahi; Brandon must have adjusted them to mimic their exact battle capabilities.

    Owen’s Flamethrower hit its mark, but it didn’t leave a burn as Owen would have hoped. The Dragon Claw hit with full force, leaving a light gash along his chest. “Ngh—!” Owen tried to rush back, thinking about his next move. He didn’t hear Brandon’s next order in the rush of battle, but he had said something.

    “W-wait! Hello?” Owen saw his opponent running to the side, away from him. He fired a Flamethrower to get his attention, but he missed; instead, they both went after Gahi, striking him from both sides.

    “Ngah—!” Gahi rolled on the hard concrete and struggled to stand up. Owen breathed another beam of dense flames toward them. Charmeleon countered with an orb of white light, softening the blow. Trapinch, meanwhile, formed a wad of mud in his mouth and fired at Owen, partially obscuring his vision. “W-wait! That’s not—”

    Coordinated, Charmeleon pushed Owen back with another claw coated in dragon embers. Trapinch followed up with another Mud Slap, almost completely blocking Owen’s vision, now.

    “Alright, he’s weak enough. Watch out for Gahi!” Brandon yelled. “Charmeleon, use Flash Cannon! Trapinch, Iron Head!”

    “Of course they’d know those.” Amia sighed. “Ohh, why is he losing?! Is Brandon cheating? They should be at a disadvantage by Type, shouldn’t they?”

    “No,” Rhys said. “They are at a disadvantage… but Brandon isn’t cheating. Their powers are equal.”

    Gahi groaned, rolling across the ground. He was done—he could barely get off from his back. Owen was trying to get the mud off of his face.

    “No matter how good you are at having a strategy,” Rhys said, “when you are in the heat of battle, it can be difficult to make the right decision. Owen, in his current state, isn’t able to strategize and battle at the same time without distance; he can buy time to do so… but Brandon needs no time. As an observer—as a trainer—he is able to guide his weapons, his partners, with a much clearer head. Fewer mistakes, and more knowledge of the field, augments his Pokémon’s power in immeasurable.”

    “Just being commanded makes them stronger?” Amia said.

    “Not in and of itself,” Rhys said. “But it allows them to focus entirely on execution. There is no need to think about what to do next—if the bond with your trainer is at its best… you can put all of your trust into his commands and focus entirely on your next move, thinking in the present, and let your trainer think in the future. You stop thinking about what to do next, and you start thinking about what to do now. The focus it provides is, well… You see the results.”

    Owen knelt to one knee after the third Dragon Claw, clutching at his chest. “Th-that’s not fair,” he said, hearing the explanation. “That’s three on two!” Owen shouted.

    “Hey, nothing’s stopping them from giving you commands,” Brandon teased. “Alright, guys! Finish ‘em off!”

    A white light enveloped Gahi. Both of Brandon’s Pokémon flinched in surprise.

    “Oh…?” said Brandon. “Well, would you look at that…. Hey, Trapinch. Mirror Gahi’s new bod’.”

    The light faded just in time for Gahi to see his new, mirrored Vibrava opponent. His antennae twitched a few times, and he beat his wings tentatively. “Heh… finally,” he said, but it was less celebratory than Owen remembered. He knew why. Gahi probably figured he’d gone through this scene countless times before. Perhaps he was even remembering those moments. But that wasn’t important now—it looked like Gahi still had some fight left in him.

    “Hah!” Gahi said. “C’mon, round two, let’s go!”

    Brandon couldn’t help but laugh at Gahi’s enthusiasm. He then eyed Owen carefully. “…You know what,” Brandon said. “You’ve got even more power flowing through you, yet you aren’t evolving. What’s up with that?”

    “I, uh, that, uh,” Owen clutched at the bag strapped to the side of his body. “That’s because of that stone I have. The Everstone? Oh, and it’s kinda an Eviolite amalgam, too, so I’m not too disadvantaged while I’m not evolved. That’s what Nevren said.”

    “Oh, so that’s what’s keeping it down?” Brandon said. “Everstone… huh. Nevren…” He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “That clever old geezer. Guess that thing is pretty good. I take it if that ever parts with you, you’ll evolve right away?”

    “Yeah. So, I’d appreciate it if—”

    “Charmeleon, Vibrava. Steal the bag.”
     
  3. canisaries

    canisaries break necks, i'm the chiropractor

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    oh whoa whoa whoa whoa hey now keep it PG

    FUSION IS JUST A CHEAP TACTIC TO MAKE WEAK MON STRONGER

    yo wtf dude not cool

    This chapter felt kinda weird to me somehow. I guess it may be because of the long conversation? Not sure. I know it did strike me as odd that Owen would just spill the beans about the Eviolite without that much reservation, but I don't think beyond that there's anything I specifically saw as questionable course of action. Maybe I was expecting to get some more answers about the relationship between humans and this current world than what was given - mostly Owen just learns that humans are/were real and what Pokéballs are. And that Arceus does weird shady things, but that was kind of expected.

    I know this feedback is very vague and not all that helpful, but if I manage to pin it down better, I'll let you know.
     
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