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COMPLETE: [Teen] Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Unequivocant

Table of Contents

lucarioknight56

The Hidden Author
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Lawrence Stephenson is sent to a region populated solely by Pokemon to capture one for a new project. Only things go wrong! He mysteriously changes to a Lucario, and has no way back! Now he must travel with a mysterious Gardevoir and her guardian Golurk to bring light to a region under the grip of an insane Zoroark and his Dusknoir lieutenant-all while trying to return home.

Let's get to what you need to know:
  • This is set in a universe of my own invention. The PMD games will in no way be referenced, while events from the core Pokemon series may be.
  • This is rated Teen for drama and intense action. Language and description will be kept at an Everyone level, as well as any thematic elements.
  • Any character sketches created over the course of the story will now be posted below. Spoilers for those who have not read past Chapter 9!
  • This story is considered complete, so any comments about changing the plot or characters will not be considered. Odd phrasing or spelling will be changed upon review, however.
  • If you have questions involving the world of Equivos, feel free to go to the thread The Region of Equivos--A PMD Universe.


_ _ _ : Lawrence's Path (Act 2)

x x x : Gardner's Path (Act 2)

_ . _ : Cassia's Path (Act X)

. . . : Lawrence's Path (Act 3)

Grom Golurk by @canisaries


Cassia Zoroark by @Cresselia92


Arthus Zoroark by @canisaries



As of October 9, 2018, all chapters have been revised significantly. Changes include:
  • Narration of characters' thoughts have been changed to internal dialogue.
  • The entire antagonist side of the plotline has been rewritten to better fit characters, but still follows the same general plot of the story.
  • Arthus now has a literal split personality throughout his arc.
  • Gardner now has a significantly reduced role through the story.
  • Zacheus Torracat and Carlin Duskull are no longer present.
  • Arthus and Matheus' backstory has been adjusted to better prepare for the prequel stories, PMD: Twilit Destinies and PMD: Legends Awakened.
  • Cassia now obtains her mask from Arianne as a gift rather than from Matheus.
  • Every chapter has been affected by these revisions, but some had more minor changes than others. The chapters affected little by this revision include Chapter 02, 03, 21, and 22.
These changes are final.
Act 1: The Usurper
Chapter 01: Prologue

Chapter 02: Lawrence

Act 2: The Priestess
Chapter 03: Cassia

Chapter 04: Equivos

Chapter 05: Vigilante

Chapter 06: Mythos

Chapter 07: Contention

Chapter 08: Conciliation

Chapter 09: Revelation

Act X: Special Episode
Chapter 10: Growth

Chapter 11: Calling

Chapter 12: Precept

Act 3: The Legend
Chapter 13: Clearance

Chapter 14: Xilo

Chapter 15: Assault

Chapter 16: Breaking

Chapter 17: Retaliation

Chapter 18: Discovery

Chapter 19: Ascendance

Chapter 20: Desolation

Act 4: The Keeper
Chapter 21: Loss

Chapter 22: Change

Chapter 23: Fate

Chapter 24 Escape

Chapter 25: Reunion

Chapter 26: Salvation

Act 5: The Aftermath
Chapter 27: Turning

Chapter 28: Infiltration

Chapter 29: Realization

Chapter 30: Exodus
 
Last edited:
Chapter 01: Prologue

lucarioknight56

The Hidden Author
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Act 1: The Usurper
Chapter 01: Prologue


2000 AU (After the Usurper)

To the far east of the region of Equivos, across the vast ocean, the continent of Deitae remained at peace. A forest rose in the center of the numerous domains of the Legends: The Luminescent Woods. Golden lights emerged from the soil and floated into the sky, free of Pokémon to disturb them. Trees lay still, the oceans remained at rest, and the Legends slumbered. The miniature continent lay free of turmoil, and the blanket of stars shined down on the creators of Equivos and their home.

A jagged mountain crowned with snow suddenly lurched. The peak sent up a plume of snow, and the sky clouded over. The peak shook again, a large rupture cracking down the middle. A creature roared through the night--awakened by a silent call--and crashed through the inside of the Mountain of Rebirth. Two massive wings beat through the air, sending arcing bolts of lightning into the clouds. The storm broiled, and Yveltal, the Destruction Pokémon, careened upward to the heights of the world.

From the rubble that surrounded what remained of the mountain, a figure crawled out, looking up at the enormous Legend. A silent chuckle permeated through the air, and a materializing claw reached for the gathering storm. The owner solidified, his fangs glinting in the fading moonlight, and his mane taking on its natural crimson hue.

He opened his eyes, the ice-colored irises focusing on the blackening clouds. His claws remained as sharp as when he first entered the Cocoon of Destruction. His sturdy limbs were still strong, and his fur remained a luxurious gray, stricken with streaks of white throughout the coat. The bead that tied his mane together shined bright, swaying in the growing breeze.

The Zoroark took a deep breath, a sensation he hadn’t experienced for millennia. He exhaled, relishing the rush of air out of his nose. He cherished the smell of the fresh air. He enjoyed the forces of nature heralding his return.

He chuckled, walking out from the rubble and onto the soft soil beyond. He came to a spot next to a tree, feeling the succulent presence of energy. He dug his claws into the ground, absorbing the Life that lay deep beneath the surface. The golden bracelet that hung from his wrist grazed against the soil.

As he siphoned the power, the Usurper looked up at the glowing tree that stood in the center of Deitae.

He grinned.

Arthus had returned.

~~~~

The storm’s intensity grew across Serenita, Deitae’s neighboring continent. The rolling plains and forests blew back in the fierce winds as Pokémon, both wild and civilized, took shelter. Above a cluster of homes, near a secluded cave atop a hill, a cloaked figure trudged toward a flickering light.

It came to a door set in a cluster of rock and pounded it with a black fist. “Open up, please! I bear terrible news!”

A slit in the door slid open, revealing a glaring pair of ice-blue eyes. “What are you doing here? You should be inside!” The rain started to fall, pelting the cloaked figure.

“I’ve come to warn you about something!”

The eyes squinted, studying the figure with his hood drawn. They could make out a plume of red fur at the bottom, with a streak of white fur reaching up to the chest, and yellow surrounding it. Poking underneath the hood was more red fur, and they could see a small snout sticking out. The eyes remained unseen.

“Zaman Delphox? Why can’t this wait?” the one behind the door said, his eyes weakening their resolve.

“It has to do with your ancestor.”

The slit closed, and the door flew open. A young Zoroark stood behind it, wide-eyed with fear. “What about him?”

Zaman beckoned for him to come closer, his paw forming a crook. The Zoroark complied, moving toward him until their heads were nearly touching.

Zaman jabbed the Zoroark in the chest, driving it deep. The Zoroark gasped, falling to his knees. He looked up and stared in horror. Deep blue eyes shone from under the hood.

The Delphox yanked back his paw and stepped over the lifeless Zoroark. He sneered and tossed his head around. “Traitor…” He stopped, studying the humble abode his recent victim lived in.

A pair of chairs sat in the corner, warm and inviting next to the low-burning fireplace. In front of them was a small table, with a collection of berries set inside a basket in the center. A set of shelves between them held a collection of books. Moss covered the rock walls curving around the adjacent hallway. The wind rushed through a shuttered window to his right, the rushing air making a musty scent.

Zaman spotted a picture above the fireplace, showing a pair of Zoroark with an elder Lucario in a desert scene. He padded silently into the next room, frowning. Within, another Zoroark sat on a chair, fondling her mane as she read from a book emblazoned with a flame surrounded by an arc. A pillow lay next to her, and on the other side was a length of rope, a ball, and a wooden doll in a rough, humanoid shape. A candle burned on the table next to her, illuminating the text within her book.

She looked up and cocked her head. “Zaman? What are you doing here?” She tried to look around him. “Where’s Ryon?”

Zaman gestured to the room behind him, his brow furrowing. “I’m afraid he’s no longer here.”

She studied him suspiciously. “You don’t…sound right.” She looked outside, glancing at the beating rains. “You never go out in a storm. You told me yourself the last time we were in town. You even said you were going to close since one was coming soon.”

She turned back around, and Zaman stood in front of her, his paws parted and his eyes visible. She gasped at the light-blue eyes that stared back at her, a mirror image of the eyes that belonged to her late husband—only cold, tortured…murderous.

She froze, shaking. “R-Ryon?”

The Delphox’s eyes glinted. “No.” His paws cut into her chest, causing her to rear back and struggle for breath.

In her final moments, the Delphox hovered over her. “Arthus has returned.” The Delphox melted away, revealing a large Zoroark with white streaks in his fur, his limbs thick and strong.

He pulled away from his victim, allowing her to fall against the ground, still. He stared down at her, then took a cloth from the table, wiping his claws clean. “My lineage is now clean of—” He shuddered. “Lucario.” He looked up and considered the ceiling. “A few too many friendships in my family tree leads to it needing to be chopped down.” He tapped the side of his head, shifting his blue eyes. “All too easy when they all have my signature feature.”

He dropped the cloth and moved into the other room--careful to step over Rhianna’s body--and stopped next to the side-table. “What else did my descendants do wrong?” He picked up the decorated book, cracking it open and glossing over its contents. “Hmm…’The Arceist Tome: A History of Equivos and the Teachings of Arceus’.”

The cushion next to the side table shifted slightly, and a black-and-grey ball of fur stepped out, sniffing. It drew near to the female Zoroark, nudging her face and whimpering.

Arthus raised his head, his eyes wide. He looked down at the Pokémon and gasped. “A Zorua!” he hoarsely whispered. He set the Tome back on the table, biting his lip.

The Zorua whimpered more, pushing against her back with her paws, her eyes staring blankly across the room. It finally fell on top of her, crying out for its mother.

Arthus looked left and right, biting the end of his claws. He studied the Zorua watching it weep into her mother’s fur.

He reached down to it, then began to rub its back. “I’m…I’m sorry…that I made you suffer.” He inched his fingers underneath the Zorua, eventually lifting it, much to its disdain.

It tried scrambling out of Arthus’ grip to rejoin its mother, but Arthus’ claws kept it locked. He put one hand over its head, and it briefly flashed crimson. The Zorua fell still, closing its eyes and breathing gently.

Arthus sighed, setting it back on its pillow, turning back to the Tome. He picked it up, then quaked with fury. “If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have to do this!” He took it by the spine and ripped it in half, the pages billowing behind him.

He heaved, forcing himself to calm. He looked down at his victim, then at the Zorua. “You’re on your own now…without your parents…like I was.” He rubbed his chin, his lips curling into a smile. “I won’t let that happen.” He picked up a page of the Tome, then snapped his fingers, creating a scarlet spark. He threw it to the other pages, and they quickly set light, a sizeable flame growing.

He scooped up the Zorua, cushion and all, then rushed out of the house, meeting with the torrential rains. He covered the Zorua with his cloak, stopping near a deadened tree and sinking into the ground, carrying with him the last of his kind.

~~~~

In another part of Serenita, in the solitude of the Guild within the Iren Desert, the aged Guildmaster looked out the window of his domain, the Master’s Tower. His Pokémon were in their homes, whether it be the Azure Inn or the Expedition Hall, safe from the weather.

The Lucario was dressed in a brown cloak, covering his shoulders, chest, and legs in leather folds. On his head was a brimmed hat, with his ears sticking out, and in his paw, a decorated staff, stiff and smooth with age. Around his neck was an intricate pendant, with the Arc of Arceus embroidered within. The cracked jewel in the center pulsed with a soft azure light, a remnant of its former power.

He studied the room he stood in, still amazed by the fact that it was from the time of the founder of the guild. A staircase descended from the opposite wall, down to the base of the tower. To his right, an aged bed with the covers folded neatly over it, and to his left, a cabinet with artifacts from all the Guildmasters before him. A large table stood in the center, with a set of seven chairs surrounding it.

“I’m sure this place has gone through worse than this,” he sighed, looking out the window once more. Rain beat upon the cracked glass, and wind rushed through the open corners, bringing in a slight draft.

The door below him creaked open, causing him to turn. With the padding of wet paws, a voice echoed, “Guildmaster Calem, I’ve heard from Elsa that this storm has a dark meaning behind it.”

“Kaiser, aren’t you being a little dramatic? We’ve seen worse storms, and none of them had any sort of special meaning,” he argued, stamping his staff on the stone floor.

An Electivire pounded up the stairs, closing his eyes and shaking his head. “It’s different this time.” He leaned against the railing, the wood creaking under his weight. “The old bat went batty right when the storm hit, and she kept saying, ‘the Usurper has returned’, over and over again.” He growled, pounding his fists together. “Honestly, it makes me want to punch something.”

The Guildmaster sped toward his friend and pulled on his arm. “What did she mean when she said, ‘the Usurper has returned’?”

“It means that I have, Guildmaster.”

The two looked down the stairs as a Zoroark gradually ascended the steps, looking up at the leaders of Lucario Guild. “A marvelous place Laryon made, isn’t it? A fancy restaurant, a little school…” He sighed, shaking his head. “I hate it all.”

Kaiser clenched his teeth while Calem bared them. “Who are you?” they said simultaneously.

Arthus stopped, aghast. “Astonishing. You’ve forgotten about, after I spent two-thousand years of wasting away in that infernal cocoon.” He added the last few words with a sneer, glowering.

Calem stepped back, flinching. “You’re Arthus, aren’t you? No wonder Elsa said, ‘the Usurper has returned.’”

Arthus punched the wall, the stone cracking. “I don’t deserve that title.” He bared his teeth. “I merely tried to do what Arceus should have done himself!”

Kaiser slammed his fist, discharging several volts from his tails. “Well, aren’t you a smug little punk? I’d love to knock your lights out.”

Arthus made a mocking chuckle. “And I’d like to see a dolt like you land a punch on me.”

“Graah!” Kaiser roared, bounding down the stairs and rearing back his fist. Arthus leapt over the Electivire, allowing him to burst through the door at the base of the tower.

Arthus padded closer, taking light, graceful steps. “It shouldn’t be much trouble to reverse the damage my hated Riolu made.”

Calem clapped his paws together, a blue aura beginning to surround them. “You can’t tear down the legacy Laryon made. Not while there’s a Lucario alive.” He held up a paw and made a blue sphere of energy, throwing it at Arthus.

Arthus slid to the left and stepped toward Calem confidently. “That’s precisely why I have to kill you. You and all the other Lucario in Equivos.”

Kaiser burst through the ruined door and fired a bolt of lightning from his tails. Arthus looked back and ducked. Calem rolled away from impact, firing another Aura Sphere at Arthus.

Arthus held his claws together and gathered an erratic, crimson ball of light. He threw it at the Aura, causing an explosion of purple light when the two met. Calem was thrown back into the cabinet, causing the glass to shatter.

Kaiser bounded up the stairs and reared back his fist. Arthus wove around Kaiser and raked his claws across his back. The Electivire grunted, turning around and throwing another punch.

Arthus avoided all the blows Kaiser attempted to strike with, all the while clawing at his attacker. With each strike, a sliver of Kaiser’s Life Energy drained into Arthus. His punching slowed, his breathing grew heavy, and soon, his body was crisscrossed with scarlet streaks, a thin mist trailing into Arthus’ claws.

Kaiser glared at Arthus, covered with scratches and wobbling forward and back. “You’re a coward…fight me…” He fell forward, at which Arthus stepped to the side. “Like a Pokémon.” Kaiser slid down the stairs, stopping with a thud at the bottom.

Arthus looked back, sneered, then progressed to the top of the stairs. Calem was struggling to reach a crystal with a multi-colored leaf inside, unable to stand up.

Arthus grabbed his paw, then with his other claw held up the crystal. He studied it closer, then grinned. “You really think Arceus will save you now? That old fool stays holed up in a tree, oblivious to the world around him!” He crushed the crystal, then drove his claws into Calem’s paw, causing him to cringe.

Arthus came to Calem’s ear and whispered, “Your Guild is now mine.” He drew Calem’s life from the paw, causing him to wither. Within moments, he lay lifeless on the floor.

After the deed was done, Arthus removed his claw, wiped it across his fur, then gingerly took the pendant from around Calem’s neck. The crystal within glowed a dark crimson, its imperfect jewel leaking white light from the crack.

Muttering to himself, Arthus put the necklace over his neck. “It looks like my plans will have to wait. Curse Laryon and his kin.” He looked out the window, considering what to do with his newfound responsibility.

He brushed his claws against the base of the window, creating a long gash. “Time to form a new Guild.” He dashed down the tower and toward the houses of the Guild, screams filling the air as he culled the traitorous from the loyal.

~~~~

The storms that heralded Arthus’ arrival finally subsided, fading to a disastrous drone retreating to the horizon. Dead Pokémon littered the streets of Lucario Guild, hauled off by the few Pokémon that claimed allegiance to the Usurper. Far off, toward the south, the isles of Cretea lay deserted of life, flooded by the storm. All throughout the continent, no Lucario remained alive—as Arthus had sworn.

Within the Master’s Tower—with Kaiser and Calem’s bodies cleared away—Arthus took a deep breath in the center of the room. In his claws was a simple urn engraved with runes. His hand was clamped over the lid as he studied it with a smile.

He held it up to his face and said, “I think you’ve been in there for long enough.” He pulled at the lid with all his might to no avail. He tried once more, then finally smashed the urn against the ground, shattering it and releasing a foul violet gas. It swirled and grew in front of Arthus, then condensed and darkened into a dark grey figure with a jagged maw and a single, crimson eye: a Dusknoir, laced with faint scars across its body.

The Dusknoir looked around briefly, taking in his environment. “The…the Master’s Tower…where is Calem? How long have I been in there? How was I released?”

“It is me you should thank, Gardner,” Arthus said, holding a hand to his chest.

Gardner noticed Arthus, then his eye widened. “You…you reek of death.” He held up his fists and growled, “Who are you and why did you release me?”

Arthus waved a dismissive hand and paced around him, “Oh, don’t bother with that; I have no interest in harming you—now, at least.” Arthus came around Gardner’s back and asked, “After my recent…purge, shall we say, I took the liberty of searching through the vault, and I found an urn with a certain Dusknoir trapped inside it. I was about to leave it there, but after reading your profile…well, I became interested.”

Gardner lowered his arms but continued to glare at Arthus. “And what interested you so much, Zoroark?”

“Please, call me Arthus.” He held up a claw to stop Gardner’s inquiry, then added, “From what I read, you used to be the late Calem Lucario’s assistant Guildmaster, but given your cruel tactics in capturing and disposing of outlaws—along with an incident with a team of cadets—you were incarcerated and replaced with Kaiser Electivire? Am I correct?”

Gardner crossed his arms and nodded his head slightly. “Yes. And why would you want me? If memory serves right, you founded the Guild, so obviously you have experience in running it—and I doubt you need an errand-mon.”

Arthus wrapped an arm around Gardner, causing him to stiffen. “I’ll fill you in on the details, but Calem is gone, and so are many others you likely knew.” He sighed and shook his head. “As much as I’d like to manage this Guild and use it to fulfill my goals, I’d rather not have a repeat of my failures—in this case, allowing the world to know that I’m back.” His eyes flashed, and he held a claw under Gardner’s chin. “You know what I mean, don’t you?”

Gardner gently pushed away the claw and replied, “Yes. It’s basic history.” He looked down and noticed the necklace around Arthus’ neck. “Using the Seal again, I see? And how do you expect that to work with it broken?”

Arthus seethed and tapped against his head. “Exactly why I can’t run the Guild! The Seal of Creation is the only way for me to take Arceus’ place!” He grabbed a ruff along Gardner’s neck and said, “I want you to become the new Guildmaster. Organize the Pokemon, handle the paperwork, all that; I simply don’t have time for it.”

Gardner yanked back and rubbed his neck. “And what makes you think I’ll do that? You are one of the most dangerous Pokemon in Equivos; my life is at risk at every moment. What would I receive in exchange?”

Arthus considered for a moment, looking up. “Well, you’d have a place in my world free from evil.”

Gardner crossed his arms and huffed. “As tempting as it is, that’s not very assuring.”

“I released you from the urn.”

“A welcome act but releasing a criminal doesn’t cut it.”

Arthus smirked and rubbed his fingers together. “I also read that you loathe Arceists and all they do. Is that correct?”

Gardner hovered away and shuddered. “…Yes. What of it?”

“Under my command, I would order you to exterminate all the Arceists and burn all of their ‘Arceist Tomes’; can’t have anyone believing in Arceus’ false teachings. I would ask for one or two be saved for research but do whatever you please in killing that religion.”

Gardner paused, then turned around. “And I’d be free to manage the Guild as I see fit?”

“Provided that they don’t go against my directives—which will be few and far between.”

Gardner stood for a moment longer, then turned back around. The maw on his chest tilted in a slight grin. “When do I begin?”

Arthus grinned, holding out his hand. “Immediately.”

Gardner accepted the hand and shook it once. Arthus broke from the shake and wagged a finger at Gardner. “I have the feeling we will get along very well.”

~~~~

2003 AU

In a brightly lit room, covered with stuffed Pokémon and toys of all sorts, Arthus curled on the floor next to a Zorua. He held a book out in front of it and pointed at the pictures, laughing. “And the Psyduck still couldn’t get rid of his headache, so then he—”

The door creaked. Arthus snapped the book shut, then snapped his fingers. A rush of wind flapped the curtains, and the cheery playroom turned into a forbidding stone mausoleum, desks covered in the artifacts at the sides and a flickering crimson flame hovering in the air.

Gardner entered the room, pressing his hand against his chest in salute. “Lord Arthus—”

Arthus stepped closer with a dour expression. “I thought I told you not to interrupt me at this time.” He passed through Gardner and held open the door. “Can’t this wait until later?”

Gardner exited, giving the illusionary room a studious look. I only wanted to inform you about your last order.”

Arthus waved inside the room with a smile, then shut the door with a frown. “What of it?”

“The Arceists have been ‘managed’, and as far as I know, only two copies of the Arceist Tome exist; all the others were burned.”

Arthus smiled, giving Gardner’s hand a vigorous shake. “Well done, well done! Now all you have to do is keep the population in check while we search for a way to repair the Seal.”

Gardner yanked his hand away and scowled. “You mean you haven’t done it yet? I thought you said—”

“I know what I said!” Arthus shouted. His claws emanated red mist, causing Gardner to back away. The Zoroark closed his eyes and made a shuddering breath. “It is simply taking longer than I thought. That’s why I need you to search through the library to find something, anything, that could repair the Seal, while I search abroad. Does that sound reasonable?”

Gardner held his chin, looking down, then nodded. “Indeed.” He looked up and crossed his arms. “I hope that your little…project won’t take too much time. I would rather not delay your perfect world for too long.”

Arthus pushed Gardner away from the house, rolling his eyes. “I am just as devoted to fixing the world as I am to my child—you have no need to worry!” He waved him off and said, “Now go; I have important things to finish.”

Gardner narrowed his eye as he floated back into the Master’s Tower while Arthus returned to the hut, restoring the previous, lighter atmosphere and continuing to read the story to the Zorua.

~~~~

Darkness set over the Guild. The buildings lay just as they had before, but the brightness that surrounded them previously had faded to a dullness. The Pokémon in the houses no longer looked to the Master’s Tower as a place of strength and protection; fear and oppression whirled in the minds of the Pokémon forced to comply with Arthus’ dictated rule, all for a belief that would supposedly end with them living alongside the Usurper.

Arthus sat atop the spire of the Master’s Tower, balancing perfectly on its tip. He did not care about their views toward him; he no longer cared about respect or prestige. As long as they obeyed his command, he was content.

He held the Seal aloft, and gasped. Reflected in the imperfect stone at the center was a silver Lucario, staring back at him with a vengeance. “You may hold Equivos in your grip, Arthus, but mark my words: you will never set foot in the Tree of Life while the Seal remains broken,” he said in echoed tones.

Arthus took a glance behind him, eyes wide. He sneered, covering the gem with his claws. “Your ghost continues to haunt me, Matheus, even outside of that wretched Cocoon.”

The thought of Matheus caused more memories to be remembered. He saw two Lucario and a Riolu, just before his imprisonment, with a Zorua in their arms. He saw the fear in the Zorua’s eyes and remembered how much he longed to be with him.

He clenched his fist. “Erik…stolen from me all those years ago…by Matheus and his kind.” He looked down at the Seal once more. “And then he imprisoned me—for two thousand years.” He leapt down from the spire and toward a shimmering box near the wall of the Guild. “They all deserved to die.”

He entered the invisible door and held his hands out. “Come to father!” A Zorua appeared from behind the couch and yipped, running toward Arthus.

He shut the door and took the Zorua in his arms, ruffling its fur and playing with its ear. He flopped onto the couch and sighed, taking a book from a nearby stack. He stared at its cover and laughed. “Well, well, the Arceist Tome. Let’s see what Arceus has to offer, hmm?” The Zorua yipped in reply, nestling into Arthus’ lap as he cracked open the ancient covers.

Arthus cleared his throat, then began to read:

Origin 1—

Before the Arms of the Creator spread across his creation, Equivos, there was an Egg. From this Egg came forth the Creator, Arceus. From his birth, Arceus created the Legends.

First came the Order: Palkia, Space; Dialga, Time; and Giratina, Distortion. They stabilized the raging emptiness, so that the first worlds may come to pass.

Next came the Lightbringers: Solgaleo, the Sun, and Lunala, the Moon. The light they shed would illuminate His great creations.

Then came the Makers: Kyogre, the Seas; Groudon, the Land; and Rayquaza, the Skies. They created the World, Equivos, and with their might, protect the Followers of Arceus—Pokémon.

Then, the Lifebringers: Xerneas, Life; Yveltal, Death; and Zygarde, Safety. The Followers of Arceus were born, and as with all of Arceus’ creations, will end. Whether it be by Time or Destruction, all will be Judged at the Day of Destruction, and only those who prove worthy will follow Arceus to the Realm of The Keeper.

Arthus cackled. “The origin of the world! What nonsensical drabble!” He looked down at the Zorua and grinned. “A wonderful read isn’t it, my dear?”

The Zorua said nothing. It stared at the vast illustration set on the page, depicting Arceus in the center of all the Legends of Equivos. Their eyes seemed to stare back, beckoning to the Zorua.

Arthus closed the book, and the Zorua looked up at him and whimpered. Arthus put a claw over his heart, closing his eyes. “Oh, I know you want to hear more stories, but it's time for sleep.” He set the Tome on the stack, then picked up the Zorua.

He set it on a puffy cushion, then snapped his fingers. The fire above them dimmed to a low glow, and Arthus opened the exit. “Good night…my little Zorua.” He left the room and shut the door behind him.

The Zorua continued to stare at the book, and finally, leapt off the cushion, then knocked over the pile of books. The book flipped to the page depicting Arceus and the Legends, toppling from the pile and landing open.

The Zorua continued to gaze at the picture and saw them move. Arceus seemed to draw closer; a wisp of light glowed from his arc and hovered in front of the Zorua’s nose.

It played with the wisp of light, giggling. The light wrapped gently around its paw, then suddenly faded. The picture stopped moving.

The Zorua yawned and fell asleep on the open pages. Images of Arceus and a silver Lucario danced through its dreams, bringing hope and kindness outside of what it knew.

~~~~

2018 AU

Scraps of paper floated in the air, alongside rusted ashes and bits of flame. Giant gashes swept through the walls and splintered remnants of furniture lay scattered across the floor. In the center of the darkness, Arthus huddled on the ground, his chest heaving.

The charred door cracked open. Arthus glared at it and threw a ball of crimson flame, shutting it immediately.

“Leave me be!” He pressed his hand on his forehead and grunted. He pulled a golden thread from his head, and a faint image appeared in the air surrounding it. Two Zoroark hugged each other with smiles on their faces, holding a young Zorua in between them.

He bit his lip, then turned away. He held a shaking hand over the image, around the left Zoroark; she wore a golden necklace. “Every time…every time I trust someone…” The image faded.

Arthus closed his claws. “They…betray me.” He stood up, holding the Seal of Creation in front of him, the flawed gem taunting him still.

He jabbed a claw at it and roared, “I will not let her die in vain! I will rid evil from this world!” He stomped the ground and held out his arms. “I have suffered too much by your hand to fail now!” The entire room was enveloped in a harsh red light, incinerating everything within.
 
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Ghostsoul

"You can order me around and I'll disappoint you!"
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Calmness dominated the Luminescent Woods of Deitae, allowing the golden lights to pop from the ground wistfully and float into the eternal expanse of sky. Trees lay still, the oceans remained at rest, and the Myths and Legends slumbered. The miniature continent lay free of turmoil, like the 2,000 years before. The blanket of stars shined down on the creators of Equivos and their home.
I haven't read much of your previous fics so I can't say much about this kind of explanation of past events, but it's done fast enough at least.

He solidified, his fangs glinting in the fading moonlight, and his mane taking on its natural crimson hue.
The prose here is okay, but a little bit lavish, or purple rather.

Arthus had returned.
My son the day you were born the very forests of Lordaeron whispered the name Arthus

The Delphox sighed, pulling away the hood. “Well… you’re no fun.” Rhianna gasped at the light-blue eyes that stared back at her, a mirror image of the eyes that belonged to her late husband.

Zaman cocked his head, making another smile. “Surprise. Did you miss me?” The Delphox faded, revealing a Zoroark with streaks of white fur and a large build.
I feel as if this dialogue should be more implicit (less stereotypical), that or some of it should actually belong to the character's internal monologue and shouldn't have been spoken out loud. It's kind of an issue of 'Show don't tell'.

He slashed at Rhianna, who countered with her own. The two met blows, Rhianna fueled by unrestrained rage, and Arthus by a careful maliciousness.
What's 'careful maliciousness' and where can I get some?
'Calculated Brutality' might of worked better here, maliciousness is too explicit of a word, and makes little sense when trying to describe how someone is attacking.

“Arceus is below me.”
Arthus is coming across a bit cartoon-ish as a villain, so it's a little hard to take him seriously in places.

He smiled warmly, brushing his claws against the Zorua’s body. “There, there, little one. I may have hated your parents, but you? You’re as sweet as my little Erik was.” He looked down at it, laughing. “Although, I’ll have to give you a different name than that.”
Same as above, especially when he belittles others by literally calling them 'little'.

Kaiser clenched his teeth while Amos bared them. “Arthus,” they said simultaneously.

Arthus stopped, aghast. “What an honor to be noticed by the most important Pokemon in Serenita. I thought I was forgotten, after two-thousand years of wasting away in eternal darkness.” He added the last few words with a sneer, glowering.
He also seems a bit overpowered as a villain, I feel like he's going to get away with more than he should do across the course of the story, simply because he's a villain who's evillllll (Muhahaha)

Arthus slid to the left and stepped toward Amos confidently. “That’s precisely why I have to kill you. You and all the other Lucario in Equivos.”
Why is he revealing his plans like this in a crowded place, right to the protagonist's face?

Kaiser bounded up the stairs and reared back his fist. Arthus wove around Kaiser and raked his claws across his back. The Electivire grunted, turning around and throwing another punch.

Arthus avoided all the blows Kaiser attempted to strike with, all the while clawing at his attacker. With each strike, a sliver of Kaiser’s vitality drained into Arthus, reducing his strength, to the point he could no longer lift his arms.
There's not enough description of the character's emotions here. Are they in pain? Is there blood? Does their arm feel numb now it's been drained?

A silver Lucario looked out from the top of the canyon wall, shaking his head sadly. “We’re too late.”
There's an awful lot of Lucarios in this story, isn't there!

Arceus said for us to stop Arthus before he killed Amos. It’s too late now.”
Just a suggestion, but having multiple characters with very similar names tends to be annoying for the reader and damage the flow of the writing itself, especially if all these characters are in the same scene or find themselves discussing one another.

Hours later, both Lucario Guild and its Harmonian counterpart, Froslass Guild, were no more. All Pokemon who refused to claim allegiance to the Usurper were put to death, and all who did were obligated to serve Arthus to the end of their life. These Guilds were ordered to no longer rescue those in need, or to offer safe haven; they were instead to gather funds to support the Guild and deliver justice as they saw fit. And so, the reign of the Usurper began, in the final days of Equivos.
That felt like a pretty dramatic event, there is something kind of upsetting that you decided the reduce it to a single paragraph.

What so say, it's very action-y that's for sure, kind of feels like I'm watching a shonen. I would say work on your dialogue most of all, generally what works in shonen anime dosen't tend to translate well into prose text, even in the action genre. Perhaps you could train this by testing out first person narration? It need not be a whole fic, or even short story just something to experiment with to get a better sense of internal monologue. I would say the descriptions are generally good, and generate the tension they need to, a bit purple but not in a way that extends to them being too ornate.
 

lucarioknight56

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@Ghostsoul

Why is he revealing his plans like this in a crowded place, right to the protagonist's face?
Actually, Amos is not the protagonist. The true hero of the story will be in the true first chapter. And the place actually isn't that crowded; its inside an old tower, in the middle of the storm, with two individuals. I'd hardly call that crowded.

There's an awful lot of Lucarios in this story, isn't there!
Considering that they have had a direct impact on the forming of these events, yes. :)

Just a suggestion, but having multiple characters with very similar names tends to be annoying for the reader and damage the flow of the writing itself, especially if all these characters are in the same scene or find themselves discussing one another.
I will probably change Amos' name to fix up that little hiccup then.

That felt like a pretty dramatic event, there is something kind of upsetting that you decided the reduce it to a single paragraph.
While it may be a cool event, I don't want to spend too long away from who I would want to be the protagonist. I would normally have posted the first chapter featuring him as well, but it was recommended that I wait.

What so say, it's very action-y that's for sure, kind of feels like I'm watching a shonen. I would say work on your dialogue most of all, generally what works in shonen anime doesn't tend to translate well into prose text, even in the action genre. Perhaps you could train this by testing out first person narration? It need not be a whole fic, or even short story just something to experiment with to get a better sense of internal monologue.
I remember hearing about working on my dialogue before, but I'm not really sure what you mean. I can understand the previously highlighted points about Arthus' dialogue, but what in general seems off about it? I can't really tell from just saying 'its like shonen.'

I'll fix up the issues by the next posting, which'll be around Dec. 2. This two week schedule of mine allows for such changes after all.
 
Chapter 02: Lawrence

lucarioknight56

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Chapter 02: Lawrence

2020 AU

Castelia City, Unova Region

Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, bee--!

His hand tapped the screen and stopped the alarm. A face peeked out of the covers, blearily gazing at the time: 6:30 AM. He sat upright and stretched, then grabbed his Pokédex-- a slender black rectangle with a touch-screen surface and several buttons at the side—and avoided a large book labelled ‘Pokémon and Evolution: A Scientific Study’. He scrolled through his notifications and swiped them away.

Reminder: Call family at 7:00.

Reminder: Be at work by 8:00.

Reminder: Pick up milk on the way home.

A keypad came up, and he typed his password. The words ‘Hello, Lawrence’ flashed, then faded to reveal a collection of icons, ranging from a magnifying glass, a camera, and others.

A high-pitched whistle blew beyond the window. Lawrence opened his eyes and squinted them, noticing the sunlight. ‘Better get ready to go,’ he thought.

He turned off the Pokédex and flipped the red-and-black cover over it, leaving only a small square visible at the top. Setting it down, he got out of bed and took out clothes from the dresser, then exited the bedroom into the bathroom connected to it. He took a shower, dressed, and combed his hair, then went out of the bathroom. He took the Pokédex from the top of the bed, looking at its clock: 6:50. ‘I still have time.’

Lawrence walked back into the kitchen, considering what to eat. He looked down at his Pokédex and clicked a remote icon, then the "Power" button that appeared. The TV turned on with the morning news.

He dug through the fridge, settling to make cereal for breakfast, as the anchors went on with their morning drone. The female anchor with a little too much make-up said, “Welcome to UNN, Unova News Network! I’m your co-host, Melinda Meyers!”

The smug looking man beside her flashed a smirk and added, “And I’m Wallace Walsh. Today marks the ten-year anniversary of Team Plasma’s defeat, after the Kyurem debacle that afflicted all of Unova with a deep freeze.”

Lawrence glared at the empty gallon that he held. ‘Guess I’ll make toast.’

Melinda nodded curtly and said, “That’s right Wallace, so please, make sure you visit the Plasma Memorial to remember those who were lost to their acts of villainy.” She brushed back her hair and continued. “In other news, Valence Tech has announced a brand-new program, which they have labelled ‘Project Babel’. Experts speculate that it may refer to a language translation feature for their Pokédex 2.0 devices. Until more comes out involving their latest service, we are left with that.”

Lawrence slathered butter on a steaming slice of toast, then opened his email and opened one labeled, ‘Valence Employee Newsletter: 28th Issue—Behavioral Research Team.’

Wallace nodded and said, “For viewers who may not know, Valence Tech was formed seven years ago by Aaron Hanson, founder of the now-defunct Poketch Company. Valence’s first product, the Pokédex 1.0, provided everyday people with the portable encyclopedia originally left to those selected by Pokémon Professors.

“Three years later, they released the Pokédex 2.0, which added features such as calling, texting, and Internet capabilities, as well as a constantly-updating line of applications, with their development team constantly creating new ways to interact with our beloved Pokémon.” Wallace pointed off-screen and said, “And now for the weather…”

Lawrence took a bite out of the toast, half-listening. He read the announcement:

Project Babel Update!

You will soon have a new collection of Pokémon to study! They will be from a foreign location and have special qualities, so please look forward to it! More details will be given within a week by your director.

Lawrence looked up thoughtfully. ‘Wonder what type of Pokémon they are?’ He checked the time on his Pokédex: 6:55. ‘Better finish up.’

He gulped down the rest of his toast, turned off the TV, then sat down on the couch. He tapped on the video chat function, and several pictures showed up with names underneath them, all with the words ‘Call/Other’ underneath them.

A bright blue cloud rung, showing a scruffy man and thin woman came up, labelled ‘Mom and Dad’. He accepted the call, and the portrait began to move.

The large man with a scruffy chin exclaimed, “Morning, Lawrence! Did you wake up alright?”

Lawrence opened his mouth to reply but was interrupted by the thin woman with a wide smile. “Oh, hush Gerald. If he picked up, he’d be awake, right?”

“I woke up alright, Dad. How’s it going back in Sinnoh?” Lawrence explained.

Gerald sighed, scratching the back of his head. “Farm’s still goin’ smoothly, but uh…” He sighed, letting his arm drop. “I could use a bit of help getting the fence up. You know the Tauros don’t like being holed up for long. Could you take some time off work and come over?”

Lawrence looked at the corner: 7:02. “I don’t know if I can do that right now. Have you heard? Valence is working on something big, and they’re going to need as many people as they can get.”

His mom came closer to the screen and said, “But we haven’t seen you for months! They’d understand for family reasons, right?”

“This is Valence, Mom. They’re a big company. I don’t have much say.”

Her face drooped. “You’ve been so busy lately. You’ve been going to the little church branch down there, right? You can’t be too busy for that!

A notification rolled across the screen, warning Lawrence to leave for work. He stood up and walked to the door. “Can we talk about this later? I have to get to work.”

“But Honey, you said you would!” his mom said before being cut off by the ‘Call Ended’ screen.

Lawrence pocketed the Pokédex and sped toward the door. He put on his jacket and shoes and slipped a pair of headphones over his neck. He opened the door and closed it, making sure to take his wallet with him.

He hurried down the hallway and entered the elevator. He pulled out his Pokédex, putting the headphones over his ears. He turned it on and tapped on ‘Music, then set it to ‘Random’, listening to his selection of somber piano music.

After going down the elevator and breezing past the exit, Lawrence stopped. Skyscrapers rose all around him, shrinking the people rushing to and fro along the sidewalks. Cars whizzed by the Pokémon that walked alongside the pedestrians, whether they be Machoke carrying packages, or styled Furfrou on their daily walks, or Sawks getting a jog alongside their masters. The skinny trees in the median and sidewalk rustled in the wind, their autumnal leaves breaking off into the breeze. The cold light above complemented the smog that filled the air, ranging in smell from cheap hot dogs to car exhaust, and everything in between.

Lawrence waited for a gap to form in the crowd, then dove inside, shuffling toward the crosswalk. He brushed past people, scarcely restraining a scowl. ‘At least I have my music.’

He crossed from the residential district to the dining, and the smell changed from dirty smog to succulent meals, with sweet pretzels and cakes mixing with savory kebabs and sidewalk steaks as the different vendors vouched for their products.

Lawrence veered away from the stands, wrinkling his nose. ‘I can’t believe people eat this stuff.’ He suddenly smiled, drifting toward a large man wearing a stained apron and holding up a rolled pancake in the air. ‘But I know why he’s in business.’

The man tossed the pancake between his hands and called out, “Crepes! Crepes a plenty over here, with plenty of flavors to choose! Only two bucks!”

Lawrence slipped off his headphones and reached for his back pocket. The man laughed, lowering his crepe and leaning on the stand. “Hi there, Lawrence. Your usual?”

Lawrence pulled out two bills, keeping them to himself. He made a small grin. “Yeah…how ‘bout we make a deal?”

The man chuckled, leaning in closer. “When haven’t you thought of that?”

Lawrence pulled out his Pokédex and tapped on a card icon. “Sell me two Cheri crepes for a dollar, and I’ll give you this.” He held the screen out to him, showing a card depicting a Sylveon in a flowery background.

The man gasped and began to spread Cheri sauce over a steaming pancake. “Sold!” he exclaimed. He finished one crepe then another and handed them to Lawrence, receiving a dollar in exchange.

The man pulled out his own Pokédex and typed his password, tapping on the same icon. He brought up a Rockruff card and tapped ‘Trade’. After several moments, the man had his Sylveon.

He laughed, slipping his Pokédex back into his pocket. “Thanks for that; I’ve been looking for that one for ages. Good luck at work!”

Lawrence walked away, looking back and giving the man a warm smile. ‘“Talk for a moment and there’s a deal to make everyone happy,’ as they say in Sinnoh.”’ He looked around, noting the glum, emotionless expressions. He turned back around, his smile fading. ‘Shame that’s not how it is here in Unova.’

He put his headphones back on and went to chomp his crepe, until he noticed a glum figure sitting in the alley next to him. The filthy man wore drab clothing and petted his Herdier sadly, sighing.

Lawrence looked down at his crepes, then back at the man. He stooped, holding out one of them to him. The man looked up.

“Here. One’s enough for me,” Lawrence explained. The man took the crepe hesitantly, and after ensuring there was no catch, gave Lawrence a slight nod. Lawrence stood up, and walked away, while the man broke his crepe in half, sharing it with his Herdier companion.

Lawrence continued walking on the sidewalk, taking a right turn at the intersection. Fewer and fewer people walked alongside him. Turning another corner, a magnificent tower rose into the air, a sign in front of it proclaiming in bold letters, “Valence Tech: Bringing Unity to All.” The plaza held a statue of their signature product, the Pokédex 2.0, tipped on its corner. Individuals wearing lab coats and business dress stood around it, talking about daily affairs, work responsibilities, and the goings of their favorite Pokémon.

Lawrence stopped, groaning at the sight of one woman standing at the base of the statue. She wore a simple white dress, with a golden medal in the shape of Arceus’ arc on her shoulder. Her red hair fell loosely around her shoulders, and her eyes kept darting around to people passing her by. In her hand was a stack of brochures, emblazoned with the same symbol as her medal.

Handing the brochure to a man in a suit, she said, “Please come to our church at 255 Reshiram Boulevard. We’ll be waiting!” As the man left, her eyes trailed over Lawrence.

He tried to walk away but was stopped by the woman’s grip on his arm. “Lawrence! I was wondering when I’d see you here!”

Lawrence groaned inwardly. “Hello, Erica. I thought you came to advertise around eight?” He checked his Pokédex: 7:20.

Erica sighed, rolling her eyes. “It’s not ‘advertising’; it’s trying to bring people closer to their spirits.” She slowly pulled a brochure off the stack, adding, “I know you avoid me by getting here before I do, so I came early.” She held out the brochure. “Can you come at least once? You’d fit right in with the Arceists; you help so many people already!”

He pushed aside the brochure, pulling free of her grip. “I’ve already told you, I don’t believe in that sort of thing. There’s never been any proof that Arceus or these ‘spirits’ exist. “

Erica frowned, running ahead of Lawrence and standing in front of him. “Can you at least read it? You’ve never taken one.” Lawrence looked down at the brochure, then back at Erica.

After several moments, he took the brochure. “If this will make you stop bothering me, yes.”

Erica continued to frown, adjusting the brochures in her arm. “If you decide to change your mind, just come to 255 Reshiram Boulevard. Anyone’s welcome.” She returned to the base of the statue, her initial zeal lost as she announced her cause.

Lawrence walked to the entrance, looking down at the brochure. ‘Arceism: A Belief Fit for All!’ it advertised. He looked up and huffed. ‘I don’t think so.’

He pushed open the doors, halting to watch the bustling lab coats and Pokémon whiz through the lobby. People and Pokémon of all sorts entered elevators and crossed stairways in the pristine whiteness. On screens lining the edges of the massive room, the latest applications for the Pokédex 2.0 were featured, ranging from an incubation check for eggs, to a nutrition planner for Pokémon. People behind tables explained the Pokédex to new customers, with Pokémon at their owners’ sides.

Lawrence moved toward the elevator, pulling out his wallet. On reaching the door, he scanned the ID inside across a black bar with a red light. The light changed to green, and doors split apart.

He entered the elevator with a clammy man holding a box and a middle-aged woman holding a tray of Poke Balls. Lawrence turned around, and the door shut. He clicked a button labelled ‘4’, and they went up.

They stopped at the second floor, where people studying various machines on tables could be seen. The woman went out and began speaking with another man as the doors closed. After a few more moments of ascension, the door opened again, revealing dozens of cubicles, all with people clicking away at their keyboards. Aside from that and the occasional cry from a Pokémon, no other sound could be heard in the beige environment. The clammy man rushed out of the elevator, several papers flying out from behind him. The doors closed.

The doors opened again, and Pokémon standing on tables lined the aisleways. The people standing next to the tables studied screens beneath them, pointing out strange phenomena and details associated with the many species. The larger Pokémon stood at the sides, where scanners constantly fed information to the nearby monitors. Various cries of complaint and joy echoed throughout, receiving treats, scolding, or nothing as their researchers spoke with their companions.

Lawrence breezed past them, making way to the only empty table—only it wasn’t quite empty. Sitting on top of it was a burly man wearing a black trench coat and white hat, looking up at the ceiling. His beard was gray and matted, and his teeth were slightly yellow. At his belt was a collection of Poke Balls, covered with salt and grime.

The seaman noticed Lawrence and grinned. “Ahoy, Stephenson!” he announced, coming to his feet. He embraced the retreating Lawrence and squeezed him tightly. “I can’t thank ye enough for helpin’ out me little Debbie; I can’t imagine livin’ without the old gal.”

Lawrence wriggled out of his grip, pulling off his headphones. “You’re…welcome…Sheffield,” he wheezed. “Aren’t you…supposed to be…down at the docks?”

Sheffield combed through his beard, nodding. “I just wanted to let ya know that if ya need my services, I’ll be willin’ to bring whateva ya need.”

Lawrence regained his composure, looking up at the sea captain. “Why would I need a cargo ship? I’m a Behavior Specialist!”

“I’m just holdin’ the offer out to ya is all. Here.” He shoved a paper onto Lawrence’s chest.

Lawrence grabbed it, and Sheffield said, “That’s my number if ye ever need it. I’ll be a’waitin’!” He pounded past him and toward the elevator, greeting those he passed with a hearty ‘ahoy’.

Lawrence set his papers down and sniffed, noticing a layer of salt on the table. “You help out a sailor with a Chatot’s mood swings once, and they love you for life. How did he find me, Marcus?”

The dark-skinned man next to him groomed an Eevee on the table. He shrugged and said. “He came looking for you on his way to the shipping department; he works for Valence too, you know.”

Lawrence opened a drawer and pulled out a cloth, wiping it across the table. “Well, I don’t really want to meet him again; his interest in Chatot concerns me. They aren’t any smarter than other Pokémon, and they aren’t all that sophisticated.”

Marcus stopped and leaned against his table. “I’m not sure I agree with you there; Pokémon are pretty sophisticated creatures.”

Lawrence looked to him and gave a knowing look. “I know what I’m talking about.”

“Let’s see you prove it then. Pop quiz: why do Lucario gather in packs?”

“It’s because they feel comfortable around Auras from their peers and use them to communicate with each other. They’re able to coordinate better with each other in such setups,” Lawrence replied, closing the drawer. He shook his head, leaning on the desk. “Why’d you ask a question about Lucario? They aren’t all that complex behaviorally.”

Marcus shrugged. “I dunno, they’re cool I guess.”

Lawrence turned around and took out his Pokédex. “Despite what people think, they aren’t. They might be strong fighters, but they don’t have much else going for them. From all the times I’ve studied them, they don’t do much more than stare at people and occasionally bark.” He checked the time: 7:30.

“Well, they’re at least smart, right?”

“As if. Hardly the ideal Pokémon to be if I had to choose,” Lawrence replied.

Marcus humphed, then noticed the brochure on Lawrence’s table. He smirked. “So, Erica finally got you to take one.”

Lawrence shoved Sheffield’s number and Erica’s brochure into the drawer, slamming it afterward. “Why does she think I’d be perfect with her ‘Arceists’, Marcus? I mean, she hasn’t seen what I do here!”

Marcus shrugged, returning to his patient Eevee. “I dunno, maybe because Arceists believe Pokémon should be treated like people, and you study how they act? I guess she just wants scientific proof, that’s all.” He looked up, chuckling. “Plus, I think she has a thing for you.”

Lawrence elbowed him playfully, opening another drawer and setting his headphones inside. “You and your ideas.” He looked around, concerned. “I should be working by now. Where’s the Pichu I’m supposed to study?”

“I’ve left her under another employee, Mister Stephenson.”

An elderly man wearing a gray suit walked up to them, holding his arms behind his back. His shoes shone brightly, complementing the small ruby inset on a button near his neck. His short-cropped hair was tidily swept to the left.

Lawrence stood up straight and bowed respectfully. “President Hanson! I, uh, wasn’t expecting to see you.”

He waved dismissively. “Understandably, considering that I was making this a surprise visit. I have a special assignment for you.” He turned around, casually walking past his other employees. “Follow me.”

Lawrence looked back at Marcus, then back at Hanson. “Guess I better go. I’ll see you later.” He took large steps toward the elevator, where Hanson stood waiting.

Lawrence entered, and the doors closed behind him. He turned to face the door as Hanson reached inside his jacket. He pulled out a silver keycard, much like Lawrence’s. “Remind me, where are you from? You have an accent I don’t usually hear.”

“I come from Sinnoh. I moved here to go to the College of Unova for their Behavior Science course.”

Hanson swiped the card in front of a black screen, causing a series of blue buttons with numbers to appear. “I see. Do you have family there? Friends, perhaps?”

“I have my mom and dad, but I haven’t seen them for a while. I don’t have too many friends outside of those I see around here.”

Hanson clicked ‘17’. “Do you have any pet Pokémon? Do you battle at all?”

“No, but I know how to. I used to be part of the Senior Pokémon League back in college,” Lawrence replied, unsettled by a jerk in their motion. The elevator went down swiftly, faster than he was used to. ‘Where are we going?’

Hanson nodded sagely. “Good, good.” He remained silent until the elevator stopped. “Before we go out, I must warn you: anything you see from here on out is to remain private between you and me. These are company secrets and are not something you’ll see on the ground floors.”

Lawrence looked at him dubiously. ‘Ground floors?’

Hanson clicked a button, smiling. “I’ll take your silence as a yes.” The doors slid open, and Lawrence gasped.

The light and beige of the building he knew was gone from the air, replaced with a stark black in a vast cavern of machines and vehicles. Men darted about in forklifts and trolleys, carrying equipment and Poke Balls wherever they went. Low-hanging lights provided the barest of illumination, giving slight hints of the activities surrounding a narrow walkway to a massive geodesic dome.

Hanson stepped forward, motioning for Lawrence to follow. He complied, twisting his head around to see what took place. Two workers argued with each other about where to put large cages, while others were huddled behind a table, where sparks belched into the air. In glass rooms to the side, scientists studied Pokémon, although not how Lawrence was used to: the Pokémon in question stood in tubes and had various wires connected to their brains, while the connected machines spat out results from their various tests. From behind a darkened room, pitiful shrieks wailed through the air.

Lawrence stared around the room, eyes wide. “What is this place?” he asked, horrified.

Hanson continued, undeterred. “This is Facility D, where all the real science happens. We are two hundred feet underground, away from the prying eyes of the Unovan League.” He pointed up. “Everything that happens up there is what the public thinks we are: a humble company providing quality Pokédexes for them to use with their Pokémon. But that was what Poketch was. We’re not Poketch.”

He gestured to a cluster of scientists pushing a Magmar in a sideways containment unit, sleeping soundly. “Down here in Facility D, however, we strive to find meaning behind Pokémon. We want to know how they came to be, and how we can use them at their peak capacity.

“You see, I wasn’t content with simply providing a service; anyone can do that. No, I wanted to change the world as we knew it, and while the Pokédex 2.0 is a step in the right direction, it is not what I envision.”

He abruptly stepped in front of Lawrence, continuing to gaze at him with his squinting eyes. “So, here’s the big picture: what if Pokémon could talk?” Lawrence remained silent, still astonished by the environment.

Hanson turned around. “Many people think that Pokémon are loving companions that will stick with you to the end. That is not the case. Unlike humans, they don’t strive for the greater goals of life; they eat, sleep, mate…everything programmed into us by nature!” He lifted a finger. “But, that doesn’t mean that speech would be useless. If we could somehow make Pokémon speak, we could create ultimate cohesion with trainers, making a force that could communicate perfectly, with no drawbacks.

“Pokémon may be simple, but consumers don’t see it that way; they want to talk with them just as they would their sister or brother, regardless of what they might say. Sure, there is already technology that can supposedly translate what they say, but it is expensive, and how are we to know it’s accurate? It would be far more profitable to develop some machine or serum that will give these Pokémon this ability.”

Lawrence only half-listened to Hanson as he forced himself to focus. “What’s your point? Have you found a way to make them talk?”

Hanson sighed, massaging his temples. “Unfortunately, there’s no way you can give them speech with our current resources; all experiments have resulted in failure.”

Lawrence shivered when he said ‘experiments. “So, what’s the point in trying to do it if it can’t be done?”

Hanson grinned, showing perfectly white teeth. “I never said it couldn’t.” They finally stopped walking, standing in front of the black geodesic dome.

The doors slid open, revealing a series of tubes punching into the walls of a hallway. Men in lab coats carried papers and bits of machinery, studying them and applying them to their proper places. Various doors connected to the hallway, the end of which had a massive metallic ring.

Hanson walked amongst the scientists, ignoring their actions. Lawrence couldn’t help but be fascinated with what they were doing, still perplexed as to what was happening here.

“Eight years ago, the Aether Foundation of Alola reported that other dimensions exist, the most notable being Ultra Space. But ever since the accidental release of the Ultra Beasts, no efforts have been made to discover other dimensions.” He looked back at Lawrence, his eyes now fully open. “We, however, have.”

He turned into a small room with numerous screens, all showing various environments: forests, mountains, oceans, and other sorts. A table with scattered papers lay in the center, showing images of Pokémon from an overhead view.

Hanson picked up one image, showing a bundle of small buildings in the middle of a grassland. “We obtained the Aether Foundation’s dimensional technology and began to search for other dimensions ourselves. Most were empty and black, remnants of what they once were. Several yielded interesting results, but unfortunately lacked what we sought.” He handed the picture to Lawrence. “Until we found dimension 3-9-1-V-0-S: Equivos.”

Lawrence studied the picture, squinting to see the details. The buildings were made from stone and wood, rather primitive resources. Multi-colored figures walked in the aisleways, carrying carts, with some wearing leather clothing. The figures were of various shapes, reminding Lawrence of—

“Pokémon! A dimension full of Pokémon, with no people!” Lawrence exclaimed, the experiments temporarily leaving his mind.

Hanson grinned, nodding. “Precisely! From what we can tell, they’re exactly the same as our own, even down to genetics—except for one small detail. Listen.” He tapped a button on the counter, and a scattered, static-y sound emanated all around them.

In the midst of the static, a tiny voice whispered, “I…Draena…Marill…”

Hanson revealed his gleaming teeth once more. “They can speak. Our language, at that!”

Lawrence stepped away from the speaker, averted by the sheer…strangeness, of hearing a supposed Pokémon speak. His eyes narrowed as he put pieces together. “Wait…what do you need me for? You want me to study them from here?”

Hanson shook his head, chuckling. “No, no, nothing of the sort. I want you to study them out there.” His normally-gentle expression suddenly hardened as he glowered at Lawrence. “We’ve recently developed a new machine, one that can allow us to send objects across dimensions…or people, like you.”

Lawrence thought for a moment, then realized what he meant. “You want to send me there?” he exclaimed. He combed his fingers through his hair and sharply exhaled. “But why? Surely there’s another way, or someone else who can do it.”

Hanson’s gentleness returned as he sat on a chair. “I’ve done some extensive research on you, and you’re the best choice. Most everyone here is a city slicker, having no experience with the great outdoors. Those that have had some fresh air tend to be…” He tapped his chin for a moment. “…stupid. They are unsuited for research work like what you do, considering your extensive time studying Pokémon on Mount Coronet.” He held up a portfolio and tapped it. “Your application was very helpful.” He set it on the desk and flipped through the papers inside. He held up a newspaper clipping and said, “Let’s see… ‘accomplished survivalist Lawrence Stephenson completes study of Pokémon indigenous to Mount Coronet of the Sinnoh region. Two years previously, he earned his wilderness guide license after living off the land for over a week.” Hanson chuckled, setting down the clipping. “A veteran of the wild, at such a young age! Whatever made you want to come here?”

Memories of the desolate peaks flashed back to Lawrence, and of his detailed thesis all about it. He wrote about the Pokémon and what they did there, and how all of this concluded to having Pokémon be on inferior ground to humans.

“I…wanted to expand my horizons…and escape from certain influences.”

Hanson nodded, gesturing to himself. “Reminds me of myself when I sold off Poketch; I wanted to develop other technologies like the Pokédex 2.0, but the investors insisted that I continue making the Poketch.” He waved dismissively. “Regardless, you have proven yourself qualified for such a…harrowing mission. No one else under my employ could fit the job, what with your field experience, your education, and your slight interest in different cultures.” He smirked. “Don’t think I haven’t noticed your comparison of regions you made your sophomore year of college.”

Lawrence cringed. “Why’d I even do that paper?” He held his chin for a moment. ‘This is all so…strange. It does sound interesting to go to this place. I mean, it’s only got Pokémon there. It might be rather fun to see how it is.’

Then the fear set in. ‘Whatever they made to get me there, it can’t be safe. I wouldn’t be able to see anybody until I get back, and where there’s Pokémon, there’s danger.” He shuddered. “Then there’s Hanson’s “tests”.’

Lawrence shivered again. “Will the Pokémon be treated humanely? They are more civilized, right?”

Hanson sighed, massaging his head. “Until we have one here to study, we can’t determine how civilized they are. Sure, they can speak, and yes, they can produce.” He opened his eyes. “Whether or not they are civilized is unimportant at the moment. If we want to bring the world talking Pokémon, and we have the chance, let’s take it!” He grinned. “Besides, how different can they be? Outside of the ability to speak, they appear to be exactly the same as our world’s.”

Hanson closed the portfolio, smirking. “Another thing to keep in mind, Mister Stephenson: You’ve seen and heard some rather…conflicting things about my company. If you decline, then I’ll have to make sure you don’t say a word, no matter the means. I’d rather not get my hands dirty, but I have to keep a good public image.” He grinned once more. “Tell me, Mister Stephenson…do we have a deal?”

Lawrence paled, suddenly fearing the consequences. ‘Hanson’s one of the most powerful men in the world. If he wanted to make sure I don’t talk, he could do that.’ He stood straighter. ‘I guess it’s a choice between a chance of danger in Equivos or guaranteed danger here.’

He sighed in defeat. ‘I should just go along with Hanson. At least I can avoid his bad side.’

“When do I leave?”

Hanson made a low chuckle. “Two hours.”

~~~~

An hour later, Lawrence sat in a small room in front of a table, listening to Hanson as he listed precautions, while to the side, two men tweaked with Lawrence’s Pokédex from a computer.

Lawrence fidgeted in his seat, his mind buzzing to the point he was having difficulty following Hanson. ‘I still can’t believe I’m going to a different dimension—with only Pokémon!’ kept going through his mind.

Hanson pointed at a blurry map, around the center of the green mass. “We’ve spent months preparing for this, so don’t think we haven’t thought this through. You’ll land around here, based on what images we’ve gathered from the air. From this location, just catch a single Pokémon, and activate the beacon on your Pokédex, which will be shown to you once it’s ready.”

Lawrence wanted to sigh with relief but found his throat too tight. “What will I have with me?”

“We’re giving you several powerful Pokémon to capture with: Bisharp, Gyarados, Infernape—you get the picture. They, along with food and supplies, will be sent with you in a capsule. It’s designed to be wormhole-proof, much like the upgrades to your Pokédex will make it as well.”

Lawrence’s heart beat faster as his eyes widened. “Wait, wormhole?”

Hanson nodded. “Yes, a wormhole. It’s perfectly safe, I assure you. All our surveillance craft have survived the trip.” He rubbed his chin, looking up. “However, for some reason they go dead after a few months, so I can’t say they weren’t affected…maybe.” He shrugged. “Still, the suit we’ve designed for you should make you immune to the effects of the wormhole, along with the case we’ve designed for your Pokédex. “

Lawrence forced himself to nod. ‘I hope that’s true.’

~~~~

Scientists bustled about, making last-minute preparations for the journey to Equivos. Laborers carried supplies and placed them into containers, while two dozen individuals sat in front of computers, typing away algorithms and coordinates. All the while, the giant, golden ring in the center hummed loudly.

Lawrence swallowed fearfully, looking up at the giant ring. He was inside a glass room with it, to keep the other workers from slipping inside. He wore a tight white suit, as well as a white helmet. His Pokédex was tucked in a case attached to his arm. A black panel covered the red and black cover, protecting the surface with solar panels.

A monitor behind him flickered on, revealing Hanson’s face. Scientists scurried behind him, while he remained perfectly calm. “We’ve updated your Pokédex to act as both a signal beacon and tracker. It will alert you when there’s a weakness in the fabric of the dimension, where we can extract you and your captured specimens. We’ll send the Pokémon to use for their capture, as well as other supplies, after you’re through the portal.” He clicked a button proffered by a gangly man. “The weakness we are sending you through should last for nine-and-a-half hours. After that, the fabric will shift, and you’ll have to locate another before you can return. Any questions?”

“Is it…safe, getting there?” Lawrence asked. ‘Despite my experience in Sinnoh, and how much I want to see this world, I can’t help but dread it.’

Hanson turned aside for a moment, said something unintelligible, then turned back and replied, “The designers have assured me that it’s perfectly safe—provided that you have that suit.” He furrowed his brow. “Do you feel like you need more time to prepare? It has been at least five years since your time in Sinnoh.”

Lawrence shook his head, swallowing uncomfortably. “It should come back to me once I’m there.” He turned back to the ring and stared. ‘At least, I think it should.’

Hanson clapped his hands together. “Very well, on with the show!” The monitor turned off, and Lawrence began to regret his decision.

A man shouted, Initiating wormhole generation! The ring began to glow an unearthly red and hummed louder. It vibrated, slowly at first, but soon appeared like a failing illusion as it grew more vigorous. Another minute passed by, and electricity arced from the rim into the center. A swirl of grey vapor centered on the stricken point, beginning to pull on Lawrence.

Lawrence began to skid against the ground, the vortex pulling him in. The glass around him began to bend inward, cracking slightly. The monitor swung toward the vortex, the screws coming loose.

Lawrence hesitated, struggling to step back. ‘What was I thinking agreeing to this insanity?’

Red lights flashed, an alarm following it. Hanson’s face appeared on the monitor again, distressed. “Go through, now!” The monitor was yanked from the wall, disappearing into the void.

The vortex pulled at Lawrence’s legs, causing him to fall backward. He steadily progressed toward it, covering his eyes as the glass around him shattered. It swirled into the void as well, but it wasn’t enough; the vortex demanded more.

Lawrence was now mere feet from the vortex. He reached behind him to prevent its victory, but it was futile; the concrete would not yield grip to him.

It abruptly yanked his head forward, throwing him into the void headfirst. He screamed helplessly as he entered the tunnel beyond.

A man that held Lawrence’s supplies suddenly refused to go forward. Tubes were loosened from their sockets, and coattails flapped as the vortex threatened to take the entirety of the dome.

Another monitor flew inside, and Hanson pulled at a scientist’s coat. “Shut it down, now! It’ll take everything!”

“But what about Lawrence?”

Hanson pushed him away, slamming on a massive red button. “He’ll come back, you’ll see!” The vortex screamed as it shrank into nothingness, releasing its hold on the objects around it. Lawrence was beyond their help.

~~~~

A yawning tunnel of cloud and dust circled around Lawrence, pitch-black and impossible to see through. He hyperventilated, having no control of his movement through the tunnel. Lightning flashed around him, giving him a fleeting glimpse of the horrors that lay beyond the fog. He floated in a rush of wind, dragging him to where he would, presumably, end up in Equivos.

An earsplitting screech echoed past him, causing him to grimace and press his hands over his ears. A black mass inched beyond the clouds, far more massive than Lawrence. It split apart, revealing jagged rows of teeth and a snaking tongue. Another mass rammed into it, pushing it over the tunnel with a rumbling roar. Whip-like tendrils wrapped around it with a clicking scream.

Lawrence’s heart pounded in his chest, and the hair on his neck raised. ‘Those…those aren’t from my world. Where did they come from, and why are they here?’ he thought, struggling to understand this bizarre series of events.

Through his travail, he heard disembodied voices, whispering unintelligible statements to him. Miniscule volts of lightning struck him, causing his body to go numb. With each strike, however, he felt…different. His body began to shrink, to change, to warp…but he couldn’t see any of it. He wanted to scream with each unnatural motion, wishing that they would cease.

After what felt like hours of continual fear and panic, Lawrence saw a light. He sighed gratefully. ‘Finally…it’s over.’ He disappeared into the light, expecting to land on the ground.

He began to fall.
 
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Beth Pavell

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I don't usually review Mystery Dungeon stories, being unfamiliar with the source material - and sequels for more or less the same reason. It doesn't appear that there's much of the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon canon in this, though.

In any case, I'd characterise the Prologue as ... serviceable. The prose is fine, the pacing is fine, none of it much to get excited about, but there's nothing to get upset about either. The weakest parts were the fight scenes. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but I think Ghostsoul has the right of it - on screen it would be pretty standard shonen anime fare. I didn't really spot anything out of place with the choreography, but there was a distinct lack of weight and heft to the action. It was more like reading an account than prose story.

Arthus as a villain is a character I don't feel I can fully criticise. I get the impression that he's appeared before in this trilogy. Reading as a newcomer I don't feel much reason to care much about Arthus and what he's up to. His string of murders amounts to a pretty easy rise to tyranny - I'm not sure how much I want to believe his reign can really be based on him personally killing anyone who rebels. That's almost by-the-by, mind, since my reading is without the context of the other stories.

Chapter One is considerably weaker. While the Prologue reads fine, One is downright overstuffed. I started to wonder at one point whether most of it was there to make up a wordcount, because I honestly doubt that all of Lawrence's daily routine bit is going to be relevant to the ongoing story. I'm all for giving characters some detail to show what makes them tick - same goes for the setting. But there is a limit to how much is really useful. Do we really need all that workplace bantering on top of the morning routine and call home? Or on top of the walk to work?

As a final note - there really are a lot of Lucario in this story.
 

lucarioknight56

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@Beth Pavell

Almost all the aspects I touched upon in Chapter 2 will be involved somehow. I put those events in place to give an idea of how Lawrence would react in such a situation--a better attempt at characterization, I believe. The routine itself is not important; it's his beliefs within them that do. Believe me, I didn't stuff it all in there for a word count.

As for Arthus...yeah, he's prevalent within the previous stories, and reading them would give a deeper glimpse as to how he works. The next chapter will provide a backstory for him since readers like you most likely won't have the time.
 

TRNatalie

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This is my first time reading your stories so this review may not matter much.

Chapter 1:
-Okay first of all, Arthus. This is my first time experiencing him and I have to say just from this Prologue alone, he is an excellent villain. He has the important traits of being a legitimate threat and seems to have a backstory and motivations that got him to here. His dialogue feels as if there's another part of his personality that will be fleshed out more later on which is another important trait. The way you introduced him exiting the Cocoon of Destruction is done brilliantly.
-I’m very interested in how you’ll portray the young Zorua. Will it be a secondary antagonist? Will it be a kind hearted soul? I can’t wait to see.
-Your action scenes are very good. Maybe a little more description could’ve worked such as in here
Arthus wove around Kaiser and raked his claws across his back. The Electivire grunted, turning around and throwing another punch.

Arthus avoided all the blows Kaiser attempted to strike with, all the while clawing at his attacker. With each strike, a sliver of Kaiser’s vitality drained into Arthus, reducing his strength, to the point he could no longer lift his arms.

Kaiser glared at Arthus, covered with scratches and wobbling forward and back.
(Are these scratches bleeding? You mention Arthus wiping his claws later.) but I’m not too bothered for a reason I’ll get into in a moment.
-One thing that I felt went a little too fast was the last paragraph with the genocide of the Lucario and Froslass Guilds and Arthus taking over but for the same reason as above, it still works.
-Overall the chapter does a great job at introducing the main external conflict and the antagonist. The way you’ve written it once Arthus appears at Ryon’s door makes me think of a parent telling this story to their kids (which adds some depth to the weaker areas like not too much detail during the battle between Arthus and Kaiser, the quickness of the last paragraph, and some of Arthus’s weaker lines to the whole final ¾’s of the prologue).

Chapter 2
What I liked about this chapter:
  • The futuristic interpretation of the Pokedex. It's a creative concept that makes so much sense and should honestly be implemented in the series.
  • Lawrence's personality traits are displayed throughout this chapter in his actions and dialogue. You also laid hints of his story arc and future character development.
  • Speaking of which, you did a good job in foreshadowing things that may become important later.
  • The way you had Lawrence get to Equivos is very creative. The part where he gets taken to the world is properly tense with a sense of danger.
What I feel could use some work:
  • The chapter does get a bit tedious at times. I understand you're trying to lay out the ordinary and set up future events but I'm not sure if every second is necessary here.
Overall, the chapter may be slow but it does what it needs to do in introducing the main character and setting up for the plot of the story.

Overall
The chapters are an excellent starting point for the story. While a few hiccups here and there, they serve their purpose effectively and efficiently. I can't wait to read more.
 
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lucarioknight56

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@TRNatalie

Thank you very much for your review, and welcome to the world of Equivos!

After multiple criticisms about the prologue, I think I'll go ahead and fix the issues that were most remarked on, namely the final paragraph and the fight scene at Lucario guild. The latter will take more work, as I'm still not entirely sure what to adjust outside of the details with Kaiser. Still, I will definitely balloon the last paragraph.

In other news, I'm thinking of making a side series to explain the events that happened between PMDFI and PMDUE, focusing on Theus and Hoopa mainly. The chapters will most likely be shorter than what is currently being written for this story. It will be posted starting two weeks from now, and will be updated on the off-weeks of Unequivocant. Feel free to read it once it's ready!
 

TRNatalie

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Thank you very much for your review, and welcome to the world of Equivos!
You're welcome and thank you.
In other news, I'm thinking of making a side series to explain the events that happened between PMDFI and PMDUE, focusing on Theus and Hoopa mainly. The chapters will most likely be shorter than what is currently being written for this story. It will be posted starting two weeks from now, and will be updated on the off-weeks of Unequivocant. Feel free to read it once it's ready!
That sounds very interesting. I'll make sure to read it.
 

canisaries

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Decided to check out the first chapter, hope to possibly keep following this fic as it updates. I'll now give my thoughts on what I've read.

So the opening scene is pretty epic - that word gets thrown around a lot, but I mean that now in the legendary, impressive, big-things-are-happening sense.

Arthus is a pretty typical villain, but it really does seem you have a lot of fun writing him (as I think you mentioned somewhere else), and that fun shines through, making him enjoyable for the reader as well. He just crawls out of a cocoon one day and starts killing mon left and right, clearly with a vengeance (and dynamic fight scenes, may I add!), and then enslaves a guild in like a day. Sure makes the reader wonder what made him be in such a desperate need of a damn Snickers - not sure if that's already the subject of another series, though.

Arthus stopped, aghast. “What an honor to be noticed by the most important Pokemon in Serenita. I thought I was forgotten, after two-thousand years of wasting away in eternal darkness.” He added the last few words with a sneer, glowering.
Two thousand years, long enough to forget the actual definition of "eternal" ayyyyy

Kaiser slammed his fist, discharging several volts from his tails. “Pretty bold for someone who tried to end the world, aren’t you? I’d love to knock your lights out.”
I'm not sure if I see how a person trying to end the world would primarily be cowardly thing? Or is this in relation to Arthus's indignation at being locked away? or is Kaiser just not the brightest and saying weird things

With each strike, a sliver of Kaiser’s vitality drained into Arthus, reducing his strength, to the point he could no longer lift his arms.
Small nitpick, but I'd change the "his" to "the Lucario's" for clarity's sake.

“No Hoopa; Arceus said for us to stop Arthus before he killed Amos. It’s too late now.”
One grammar thing: when characters are addressed in a sentence, they're always surrounded by commas (or a period on either side, if the name is the last or first word). To demonstrate, an example:
"Let's eat Grandma!"
vs
"Let's eat, Grandma!"

(...have I pointed this out before, actually? I got deja vu just now.)

“Matheus—”

“It’s Theus! I hate that name!” the Lucario snapped, rearing back on Hoopa. He stared for several moments, then turned back around. “Arthus called me that, long ago…when we were friends. I don’t want to be reminded of who he was before.”
This is a bit confusing - has the Hoopa never called Theus by that name before? Or has he, but Theus didn't snap at him then and explain this? How did the Hoopa know the full name, anyway?

Anyway, overall a strong start to a story! Hope to hear back from you soon.
 

lucarioknight56

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@canisaries

Thank you for the review, and I'll make sure to keep these suggested changes in mind when I revise the prologue.

I take it you've never read my first story, PMD: Legends Unraveled. In the past, before Theus got turned into a Legend (long story), and before Arthus' betrayal (another long story), he went by his given name, Matheus, and all the Pokemon in the world referred to him as such. After the events that took place before PMDLU, Theus took his shorter name, but the Legends all still called him his formal name, and it wasn't until this point that he finally decides that he won't take it any more.

P.S. There's only one of each of the Legends in this world, so he's just called Hoopa.
 
Chapter 03: Cassia

lucarioknight56

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Act 2: The Priestess
Chapter 03: Cassia


Act 2 - The Priestess

Equivos, Serenita

A bolt of lightning struck the sky, igniting a swirling mist of cloud and vapor high above a sea of trees. It yawned over the orange and gold leaves, threatening to consume them all with its immense size. A black speck fell from the interior, screaming as it fell. Just as soon as it came, the vortex disappeared into a harmless cloud, as if it had never come.

Lawrence couldn’t stop his screams as the trees came closer and closer to him. He felt unusually warm, and the breeze reached areas it shouldn’t have. He felt denser, smaller, and his rear felt…longer, somehow. He could smell the approaching leaves far better than he could remember, and the rushing wind sounded far stronger than it felt.

He crashed through the branches, covering his face. A stray branch struck the Pokédex case, making a sharp snap as it did. He burst through the canopy and pounding onto the ground, landing with a plume of tan dust.

He craned his head upward, the impact leaving his vision blurry and his chest in agony. He reached forward to push himself up—he flinched. His hand wasn’t there—a small, black paw with a spike above it was there instead.

He felt his face, feeling short, soft fur and a pointed nose. He looked behind him, seeing the vague shape of a blue tail. His legs were long and black, turning large and blue at the top. His chest had long, yellow fur, with a sharp spike set at the top.

His head fell to the ground as he stared in disbelief. His vision went black, and his hearing dulled. He lost consciousness.

~~~~

Muffled voices pounded Lawrence’s head; light leaked into his eyes. The voices became clearer, as did a poking sensation.

“Ya think he’s dead?”

“Nah, he’s breathin’. Haven’t seen one a his like before.”

“Can we eat ‘im?”

“Only if he tries to eat us first.”

Lawrence groaned, holding a paw to his head. “What...happened?” he croaked. He remembered everything until he came out of the tunnel. After that, nothing.

“Yech, it talks! No eatin’ him then.”

Lawrence, despite his body’s protests, opened his eyes, seeing an imposing purple blob, and another yellow. His vision cleared, revealing the black stripes lining the yellow’s rotund frame, and the bulging muscles of the purple.

The purple blob leaned forward, sniffing. “Hmm, no scent. No smoke, no food, no nothin’. What are you?” Lawrence finally saw that it was a Machoke talking to him, giving him a studious look, while behind him, an Electabuzz made a half-crazed grin.

Lawrence--lost for words--scrambled back, holding up his paws. “H-How are you doing that?” He gasped, noticing the spikes set on the backs of his paws.

The moments just after he landed came back to him. The fall through the air. The crashing through the trees. The moment he realized--

“I’m a Lucario!” he screamed, falling onto his back.

The Electabuzz giggled, tapping the Machoke on the shoulder. “Hey boss, he’s a Lucario! Didn’t that Guild guy back in town say they were dead?”

The Machoke shoved him away, glaring at him. “He don’t know that!” He made a warm grin toward Lawrence, but his eyes revealed a hidden maliciousness. “Ya look like ya need help. How’s about we take ya to one a those Guild guys?”

Lawrence didn’t answer since couldn’t stop looking at himself, panicking. ‘I-I’m a Lucario! How is this possible?’

The Electabuzz pointed at the loose-fitting case around Lawrence’s arm. “Hey, what’s that doohickey? Look’s interestin’.”

Lawrence flinched. ‘My Pokédex.’

The Machoke rubbed his chin, eyeing the Pokédex. “Would ya mind if I see what ya have there? Haven’t seen anythin’ like that black box before either.”

Lawrence stood up unsteadily, unused to the balance of his new body. He put a paw over his left arm, attempting to cover the case. “Uh, no, I-I can’t let you--”

The Electabuzz stomped forward, electricity sparking from his head. “When da boss says he wants to see somethin’ he sees it!”

Lawrence fell to the ground, tripping on his changed feet. He hid the case under him, hoping to keep the technology safe from their hands.

The Machoke punched the Electabuzz away, towering over Lawrence. “Lemme see it!”

“Graaaaaaw!”

The Machoke and Electabuzz looked behind them, their eyes widening. “Did you hear that?” the Machoke demanded.

The Electabuzz nodded nervously. “Yeah boss...w-what was it?”

“Grrrroomm!”

In the dark gloom created by the twilight, an ethereal red light shined from the trees behind them. It appeared in a jagged pattern, some parts brighter than others. Above the crack-shaped patterns, two red bars stared down.

A giant stepped forward, shaking the ground and shifting the light. The Machoke and Electabuzz instinctively stepped back, shivering.

The massive stone limbs took another step, quaking the area round it. The enormous arms pounded together, sounding like two boulders crashing down a mountain. A jagged crack across the creature’s chest glowed with a fierce crimson. Part of the light was covered with a large metal brace, preventing the crack from widening.

Lawrence, still from terror, whispered one word: “Golurk.”

In response, the black Golurk reared back and roared, “Graaaaawm!” He hefted his leg upward and slammed the ground, causing the Electabuzz and Machoke to fall.

They stared terrified at the Golurk, scrambling to their feet. “Run!” the Machoke screamed, leaving a plume of dust in his wake. The Electabuzz followed, screaming as he went.

Lawrence could do nothing but stare as the Golurk approached, the reddened cracks and mossy frame invoking an ancient and powerful presence. The head of the Golurk had a chunk missing at the back, revealing crimson circuits coursing within.

The Golurk stopped mere feet from Lawrence, staring down at him, emotionless. Lawrence covered his face, expecting the worst.

The Golurk cocked his head and extended an arm to him. He grabbed the arm that Lawrence covered his face with, then lifted him to his feet. Lawrence looked at him with a mixture of perplexity and terror. ‘It’s…it’s not attacking me?’

Turning his head, the Golurk said, “Grawwm.” Two blue eyes appeared in the woods behind him, approaching them.

A graceful white figure with green hair walked out of the woods. A large brown sack hung over her shoulder, bulging with materials. The Gardevoir’s eyes had an almost ethereal quality to them, being blue instead of the red usual of her species.

She walked forward with her hands in front of her, holding them up to her chest nervously. She cautiously studied Lawrence, her steps slowing as she drew closer.

The Golurk looked down and pointed at Lawrence. “Graawm.”

She looked up and nodded. “I can see that he’s a Lucario, Grom. Is he hurt?” Grom shook his head slowly.

Lawrence stepped back, jabbing a paw at Grom. “Wha...how? Where did you come from?” His sudden transformation and the events that had just transpired left him feeling faint and erratic.

The Gardevoir held her hands out, careful to keep them from Lawrence’s reach. “We noticed that you were in trouble with those other Pokémon. Do you need help?”

Lawrence wanted to say yes but stopped himself. ‘How do I know I can trust her? She could be like that Machoke and Electabuzz, wanting to…do whatever they wanted to do with me. I never got to see, but I hope I don’t.’

The Gardevoir breathed in sharply, shaking her head. “I’m sorry, I didn’t tell you my name. I’m Cassia.” She kept her hands close, keeping a close eye on Lawrence’s paws.

Lawrence felt a little more relieved, but he still kept alert. ‘That’s better, but that doesn’t mean I can trust her. Then again, I don’t know anything about Equivos. I’ll just have to blend in.’

He looked around, searching for the box that should have been sent with him. “Um...would you know where I can find a little box? I...traveled here with it, and I’m not sure where it went.”

Cassia cocked her head curiously. “You lost it?”

‘I’m not even sure it made it here with me,’ Lawrence thought. He looked up, seeing the hole in the leaves that he had made on his entry into Equivos. “I was...climbing a tree, and I fell off. See?” Lawrence pointed up. Grom and Cassia studied the hole in the canopy, with Grom cocking his head.

They looked back at Lawrence. “I haven’t really seen a Lucario around, you know,” Cassia said.

Lawrence restrained a smile. ‘I can use that; I can act like a foreigner, giving me the perfect excuse to ask where I am and to learn more about this place.’

Before he could reply, Grom pointed down the path and groaned, “Graw…”

Cassia sighed, turning to where he pointed. “Yeah, I know. We should be able to make it there by sunset.” She turned back to Lawrence and said, “Do you need anything else?”

Lawrence lifted a paw, covering the Pokédex. ‘I need to get back to Facility D, fast. It’d be better if Cassia was gone when I send the signal.’ He waved his other paw and said, “Yeah, I should be fine. You go on with whatever you were doing.” He turned around, falling onto his chest.

While he got up, Cassia and Grom looked at each other curiously, turning around. “Alright, well...if you need anything else, we’ll be at the clearing down the path until morning.” She and Grom walked away, with the Golurk letting out a questioning moan.

When they were out of earshot, Lawrence hastily popped the cover of the Pokédex and pulled it out, his paw gripping it awkwardly. He studied the casing, noticing a large dent on the side of it.

He looked at the sky and shook his head sadly. “Why’d I have to end up in the air?” he asked himself. He tapped the power button, then typed his password on the screen. He then selected the swirling icon, causing the words ‘Vortex Signal’ to flash by.

A dark green circle appeared at the top, with a light purple one at the bottom. He tapped the purple, making it say, ‘Sending Signal’. A red exclamation suddenly flashed, and in red text, the screen said, “No access point in range.”

Lawrence’s heart skipped a beat.

He tried again, receiving the same message. The green circle—the radar—showed no points of interest; there were no dimensional weaknesses nearby.

His eyes whisked toward the time: 8:30. He looked to the sky and saw the sun setting. ‘It can’t be morning…which means…’ His eyes widened, then he smacked a palm across his head. ‘It’s been twelve-and-a-half hours since I got here! I’m too late!’

Lawrence looked out into space, paling. ‘What am I going to do now? I’m stranded here without supplies or a way back.’ He stared at his paw and narrowed his eyes. ‘And worse, I’m a Lucario.’ The irony of the words he had said hours before arriving came into mind.

Then thoughts of his parents came, and their unanswered calls.

He fell to the ground, dropping his head. ‘How am I going to get back? They’ll be worried sick about me.’

He looked down the path. ‘Until I find another weakness, I ought to stick with someone who knows the place—like that Gardevoir, Cassia.’ He stood up, balancing on his paws. ‘And I’ll have to live like a Lucario until then.’

He put the Pokédex back in its storage case, considering what he’d say to her. ‘I can’t just say I’m a human from another dimension; they’d instantly think I’m crazy and leave me alone.’ He groaned and thought, ‘And I’ll have to give a reason why I don’t know about this place.’ He took an uneasy step forward, then another. He staggered back and landed on his rear.

He glared at the tail behind him and shakily stood up again, cursing his small paws. He took another step forward and said under his breath, “This is going to be a long day.”

~~~~

The autumnal air rushed through the trees, whisking away the red and gold leaves. Sunset richened their colors, and the wind deepened their crisp, as they whirled away into the sky. A worn path wove between the trunks, an ancient relic from a time long past. In the vast sea of yellow and orange, a small clearing poked through, an island amongst the waves. The crackle of snapped twigs and crushed leaves emanated through the air, and the smell and taste of sap alongside it. Bird Pokémon tweedled their melodies, chirping alongside the autumnal foliage.

In the clearing, Grom hefted a log with little effort, then tossed it into the woods, grunting. “Gra-am?”

Toward the center of the clearing, Cassia dug through her sack, glancing at Grom. “Go on and recharge; I’ll be alright.”

The Golurk grunted agreeably, stomping toward the recently-tossed log. He stepped on it—turning it to splinters—then disappeared amongst the wood.

Cassia sighed, finally pulling a blanket out from the sack. “I really pack too much in here.” She started to spread it over the ground but stopped when a shout of frustration echoed from the path.

She finished spreading the blanket and stood up, looking toward the path. She saw Lawrence flop to the ground, smack the dirt with his fist, then push himself up, grumbling.

He brushed himself off while he muttered, “Stupid paws, can’t walk around—" He stopped himself, noticing Cassia. “H-Hi there! Uh…how long have you been standing there?”

“Long enough to see you fall,” Cassia replied. “Do you need help with something?”

Lawrence scratched back of his head, looking up casually. “Yeah, well…I can’t remember anything. I must’ve hit my head pretty bad when I fell outta that tree.”

Cassia hesitantly stepped closer. “How come you didn’t tell me before?”

“I thought I could remember on my own, but that didn’t work,” Lawrence replied. His heart beat rapidly.

“Do you…remember your name?” Cassia held her arms at her side, the fear in her eyes turning to care.

The lump in Lawrence’s chest lowered. “It’s Lawrence. Lawrence Stephenson.”

Cassia cocked her head curiously. “Stephenson? Don’t you mean ‘Lucario’?”

Lawrence’s eyes widened as he realized his mistake. ‘They must use their species as their last name in Equivos.’ Lawrence smiled, clenching his paw. “Right, right, sorry. Don’t remember things quite right, you know?”

Cassia smiled slightly, then walked back to the clearing. “Come on over. You can stay with me.”

Lawrence grinned and jogged to her. He stumbled slightly, causing his grin to fade. He avoided falling, much to his relief, and entered the glade.

Cassia sat on the blanket, pulling off her bag. She opened it up and began to dig through it. “Are you hungry?”

In response, Lawrence’s stomach grumbled. He laughed nervously and sat down on the blanket. “I guess I am.”

She pulled out two bright red apples and handed one to Lawrence. He took a large bite out of it, crunching on the apple awkwardly. His teeth were more pointed than he was used to, but he soon managed.

Cassia took small bites of her apple, holding it with both hands. Between morsels, she asked, “I guess you don’t remember where you are, do you?” Lawrence nodded, eating his apple more eagerly as his hunger set in.

Cassia waved around her to the trees. “You’re in Serenita, in a place called the Kaena Woods. We’re miles away from any towns, so you’re lucky that me and Grom found you.” Cassia looked past the trees. “Things have been dangerous ever since the Guild turned for the worse.” She trailed off, setting down her apple.

“Ever since what?” Lawrence asked, cocking his head.

Cassia cringed, shoving a hand into her bag. “I don’t want to talk about that right now.”

Lawrence looked up for a moment, wondering about her statement. As Cassia turned back around, he lowered his head. He searched the trees and asked, “So where’s the Golurk? His name’s Grom, right?”

Cassia pointed behind him. “He’s over there. He doesn’t like leaving me alone like this, but he needs to recharge every so often.”

“Is he a bodyguard or something?”

“Yes…in a way. I helped him escape from his old master. Ever since, he’s been protecting me while I’ve been traveling.”

“Why are you traveling?”

Cassia looked away, studying the ground. “You'd think it's silly."

"It can't be that bad," Lawrence grinned. ‘Can’t be any worse than me turning into a Lucario.’

She threw away the core of her apple and pulled a book out from the bag. "I guess you don't remember Arceus, do you?" Imprinted on the cover of the book, the Arc of Arceus shone with gold paint.

Lawrence's grin faded. ‘I recognize that.’ He pointed at the book and said, "What’s that?"

She opened it, revealing faded lines of text with pictures scattered between them. "It's called the Arceist Tome. It's a history of Equivos, and it tells us Arceus' teachings."

Lawrence's stomach churned. ‘I had to get stuck with an Arceist, like Erica.’ He threw away the core of his apple and dourly thought, ‘How do they even exist in this parallel dimension? It doesn't make sense! First the language similarity, then this!’

She flipped to a page depicting a blast of red and blue energies, with the almighty myth, Arceus, standing between them. Within the blasts were two figures, each wielding the respective colors.

"He predicted events long before they happened. This shows the battle that Laryon Lucario and the Usurper had two thousand years ago," she explained, pointing to the figures.

Lawrence furrowed his brow. ‘How could a non-existent Pokémon make such prophecies?’ He opened his mouth to comment but stopped. ‘I can’t say it isn’t true; she thinks I have amnesia, so I shouldn’t have any firm beliefs.’ Disgruntled, he thought, ‘Might as well see what else there is in this tome.’ He pointed to the being within the red energy depicted. "Who was the Usurper?"

Cassia frowned, closing the book. "Not was: is."

Lawrence shook his head in disbelief. "You're saying that some Pokémon who fought some great battle two-thousand years ago is still alive?"

"That's exactly what I'm saying." Cassia set the book aside. Her eyes narrowed, and her fingers wrapped around the book’s binding. "The Usurper is called Arthus Zoroark,” she spat, “and it’s thanks to him that the Guilds have turned on the very Pokémon they promised to protect.” She traced the arc on the book, her hands quivering. “What he did—” She shut her eyes. “--is unforgiveable.” She turned her gaze to Lawrence. “He is real.”

Lawrence, not expecting her reaction, leaned away from her. "Sorry, I just don't...remember, any of this."

She took a deep breath, combing back her hair. "Right. You don't know any better." She pulled the Arceist Tome onto her lap, flipping to a page showing a Riolu and Zorua in a village setting. “Years before Arthus’ battle with Laryon, he was friends with a Riolu named Matheus. The two grew up together, becoming explorers here in Serenita.”

She turned the page, depicting a Lucario and Zoroark standing in front of a walled fortress. “They went on to create the Guild, a system that was meant to rescue those in need, and capture those who hurt others. For a time, there was peace in Equivos.”

The next page showed Arthus studying a scroll with a twisted version of the Arc. “But Arthus wasn’t satisfied with curing some of the evil in Equivos; he wanted all of it gone. He discovered the Prophecy of Life and Death, which said that an individual would come and take the Seal of Creation—a tool capable of taking the powers of the Legends—to rid the world of evil. The cost: all life in existence.”

Arthus now stood in front of a hoard of Pokémon, pointing his claw in front of him. “He corrupted the Guild, turning them away from assisting those in need, unlike what Matheus wanted. He searched for the Seal of Creation. He planned to take Arceus’ power, then kill everyone in Equivos, and replace them with his own version of life.”

Lawrence studied the picture skeptically. ‘How could he take Arceus’ power if he doesn’t exist? This all sounds like a myth, yet she says it’s true.’

Cassia flipped the page, revealing a Lucario taking a golden pendant from a hill, running toward a village. “Matheus found the Seal and gave it to his nephew, Laryon, in their hometown, so that Arthus couldn’t claim it. When Arthus found out, he attacked the Pokémon within, along with the rest of the Guild. Matheus came in and saved his sister, Azure, and Laryon but couldn’t save anyone else. He brought Laryon and Azure to a hidden glade, where he thought that they couldn’t be discovered. He then went away to drive the Guild from the location, and later worked to destroy their influence in other areas across Equivos.

“Years after, Arthus discovered Laryon’s hiding place and attempted to take the Seal. This happened when Matheus was making his yearly visit; he managed to rescue Laryon and the Seal, but Azure got captured and taken to their headquarters. Matheus took care of Laryon and taught him the ways of an explorer while they went to save Azure, as well as to protect the Seal.” An aged Lucario walked alongside a Riolu wearing a golden pendant, directing his gaze to the ocean.

“Arthus tricked them, however. He knew they would come rescue her, and with his illusions, tricked them into giving the Seal. While they recovered, Arthus went to the Tree of Life, and stole Arceus’ power.”

The bursts of red and blue appeared, showing Arthus and Laryon in the midst of their mighty conflict. “Arthus returned to the Guild to reclaim a precious gift before he used the power within the Seal. Matheus rescued Azure and waited for him, and ultimately died fighting him. Laryon then went on to fight Arthus, and despite the odds, destroyed the Seal; Arthus never managed to use Arceus’ power. For his crimes against the Legends, Arthus was sealed within the Cocoon alongside Yveltal, until the final days of Equivos would come.”

She closed the book. “Laryon went on to reclaim the Guild, and all was well. That is, until Arthus returned.”

Lawrence gave her a suspicious look. “Wait, what?”

“You remind me of the Pokémon I try to teach,” Cassia sighed. “Twenty years ago, Yveltal broke out of the Mountain of Rebirth. Arthus escaped and changed the world for the worse.” She slid the book back into her bag. “He took over the Guild, and worse, he stole back the Seal of Creation.”

“But didn’t you say—”

“Its power was only destroyed. If he finds a way to bring it back…” She shivered. “I plan on doing something before that happens.”

Lawrence slowly shook his head. ‘She reminds me of home: believing in myths like Arceus and trying to spread it. Some other Zoroark probably took Arthus’ name and used the fear behind him to control others.’ He stared at the book, huffing. ‘More believable than someone being trapped with a legendary Pokémon for a couple thousand years.’

A coarse moan emanated behind him, causing him to jerk. Dark red eyes drew closer with pounding footsteps.

Cassia looked over and inquired, “You’re done already, Grom? I thought it took you longer to drain one.”

“Grooo…” the giant replied, shrugging slowly.

Lawrence pointed at Grom and asked, “How do you understand what he says? He just says ‘Grom’ all the time.”

Grom stepped to Lawrence’s left, then tipped backward. He slammed against the ground, landing on his rear. “Gro-om.”

Cassia smiled, nodding “Yeah, I know it’s hard for you to sit down.” She turned to Lawrence and said, “Grom and I have been together for a long time. We just…understand each other.” She looked behind her; the sun had sunk below the horizon. “We better get to sleep. We have a lot of ground to cover tomorrow.” She stood up and breathed in sharply. “Um…Lawrence?”

He shakily stood up. “Yeah?”

Cassia fidgeted with her fingers and said, “Could you maybe…sleep somewhere else? I like my privacy.” Grom turned his head, his crimson eyes burrowing into Lawrence’s mind.

Taking the cue, Lawrence nodded. “Sure, sure. I can leave.” He turned around and headed toward the trees. He stopped suddenly and turned. “You didn’t tell me why you’re traveling. Where are you going?”

Cassia laid down on the blanket, wrapping herself in it. “I’m going to towns and telling them stories, like the one about Laryon and Arthus.” She yawned. “It’s so…everyone…can be…saved.” She breathed slowly, lulled to the realm of dreams.

Grom continued to stare at Lawrence, until the Lucario finally turned away again. He marched toward another nearby clearing, shivering. “Why did he look at me like that?” he whispered to himself.

Soon he could only see Grom’s imposing figure in the approaching darkness. He sat down and took the Pokédex from its pouch. ‘Might as well write down what happened today so people don’t think I’ve gone crazy when I get back.’ He tapped on a notepad icon, causing a blank white screen to show. A small keyboard appeared on top of it.

Lawrence looked down at his paw and scowled. ‘I haven’t tried typing with paws yet.’ He looked back at the Pokédex. ‘How am I going to do this?’

He set it between what would have been fingers, and painstakingly typed letters. He looked to the sky and thought, ‘I can’t wait till I get my real body back.’ When he finished, he tapped on the search function, making another vain attempt to find an access point.

Upon seeing the denial, he grunted and shoved the Pokédex back into its case. “Guess I’ll be stuck here a while,” he muttered. He lay on his back, setting his paws behind his head.

Lawrence considered his traveling companions. ‘Cassia seems nice enough, but her belief in the Arceist Tome unsettles me. I don’t want to get involved in the spiritual aspect of Equivos, if there is one. I’ve already had one version of Arceism proven false; I’d rather not get involved with another.’

Then there was Grom. He grimaced and thought. ‘I would’ve run away if I wasn’t so scared. How did Cassia ever obtain such a monstrous thing?’ He took a glance back to Cassia, where Grom calmly stood watch. ‘He seems gentle enough, though, despite his appearance.’

He sighed, staring at the canopy. ‘What am I going to do? By now, everyone will be wondering what happened to me. If I manage to get back, what would I tell them? Would I still be a Lucario?’

He grimaced at the thought. ‘I’ve never liked Lucario, and being one just makes things worse. I hoped that the way home will turn me back.’

Yawning, he turned onto his side. ‘Until I can find some way back to Unova, I’ll have to live as a Pokémon.’ He furrowed his brow. ‘With a priest, at that.’ The thought lingered as he drifted to sleep.

~~~~

Lawrence stood in a plain of blackness. All around him, dark clouds swirled, bringing unearthly voices with it.

A cruel chuckle echoed through the air. A vague shape stepped in front of him, holding a crimson flame. “What is this I see? You aren’t like any Pokémon I’ve seen before.”

Lawrence looked down at himself, seeing that he was back to his human form. He studied the shape, seeing from the flame glinting fangs and a hooded snout.

The being started to pull back the hood. “You’re in my domain now, whoever you are. I advise that the next time you sleep, make sure that no one else rests here.”

Before Lawrence could see its face, the being grabbed Lawrence’s throat and began to choke him. His vision faded while voices shouted around him.

~~~~

“Wake up!”

Lawrence shot upright, breathing heavily. He clutched at his throat and looked around him. Grom stood over him, covered with tendrils of crimson light, while Cassia sat at his side, her eyes wide with fright.

“What…what happened? I saw this…thing, say that I was…in his domain,” Lawrence wheezed.

Cassia put her hand to her head, moaning. She directed her gaze to Grom and shouted, “I knew you didn’t drain everything out!” Grom put his hands up defensively, making a sad moan.

She sighed, removing her hand. “Sorry. I know you’re doing your best.” She turned back to Lawrence and explained, “Grom collects what’s called Life Energy from the ground. It’s what’s left behind after someone dies.” She pointed at the ground beneath Grom, where a low-pitched hiss protested. “Arthus uses these spots to spy on others, and, if there’s enough, to move through them to other wells of Life.” She pulled Lawrence up. “He hates having people block his vision, so he haunts them in their dreams.”

Lawrence couldn’t help shaking his head. “A Zoroark can’t do that. They can make illusions and use Dark moves, but they can’t teleport in any way.”

Cassia stamped her foot. “This is Arthus! He’s like no one else!” She groaned and walked toward the clearing. “Look, I don’t like talking about this. I’ve said too much as it is.” In the morning light, she faded into the glade.

Lawrence looked up at Grom, who gave him a disapproving grunt. Lawrence threw his arms up and exclaimed, “How was I supposed to know?” He kicked the ground, then walked toward Cassia.

She folded the blanket neatly and stuffed it into her sack. She sat on a stump, crossed her arms, and looked out to the path.

Lawrence stopped behind her. “You alright?” he asked.

She nodded. “I’m fine.” She looked up. “Have any of your memories come back?”

Lawrence, expecting such a question, shook his head. “No, not yet. I’ll let you know if any come up.” He studied the trees that wound around the path. “I wonder how far these go.”

Grom thudded forward and pointed ahead. “Gro-o-om.”

Cassia stood up, pulling the sack over her neck. “You’re right. We need to get going if we expect to get to the town today.”

“There’s a town near here?” Lawrence asked, his interest piqued. ‘I’m stuck here anyway, so might as well see what these Pokémon have made.’

“Yes. We need to pick up some more supplies, and I haven’t taught about the Tome there yet.” Cassia pointed at Lawrence’s Pokédex. “What’s that around your arm? I didn’t notice it before.”

Lawrence slapped a paw over it, wishing that it was more discreet. “It’s nothing. Nothing at all.”

Cassia eyed him curiously. “If it's nothing, then why can’t I see it?”

He marched toward the path, shouting, “How about we get moving? I wanna see this town.”

Cassia looked up at Grom, who looked down. She followed Lawrence and shook her head. “He’ll show us eventually.” She looked back briefly. “He seems trustworthy so far, right?”

“Gro-hom,” Grom grumbled, stomping after her.

They kept a leisurely pace along the path, with Grom’s speed being the biggest hindrance. Golden leaves fell, passing in front of the morning haze with each of their steps. The smell of sap filled their nostrils, and birdsong echoed through the air, the Starly journeying to the Archipelago of Cretea for the coming winter.

Sometime after they started, Grom stopped, and looked to his left. “Mm-hmm,” he hummed, walking off the path.

Cassia grinned, putting her fingers against her lips. “Grom found something!” she whispered excitedly. She followed Grom.

Lawrence trotted over, finally getting used to his paws. He saw Grom standing in a small clearing, holding his right arm out. “What’s he—"

Cassia glared at him, repeating her hush. She directed her gaze back at Grom, looking up expectantly.

A Fletchling flitted over Grom’s head, then landed gracefully onto his arm. The Fletchling chirped contentedly, sat on his finger, and tucked its head under its wing. The Golurk sighed peacefully.

Cassia silently opened her bag and took out a string-bound notebook, with a pencil attached to it by a string. She opened to a blank page, and steadily drew the scene that lay before her.

Lawrence looked down at her drawing, admiring her detail. ‘I couldn’t draw like this in my life.’ He leaned over and whispered, “Do you do this often?”

“I usually draw landscapes, but this is too cute to pass by!” she whispered back.

Grom turned his head, pointing at the Fletchling with his other hand.

Cassia nodded. “You’re doing great!”

The Golurk chuckled, his booming voice radiating through the air.

Within minutes, Cassia had drawn a perfect sketch of Grom holding the Fletchling on his finger. She held it up for him to see. “What do you think?”

Grom nodded, looking down at the Fletchling. It woke up, yawned, and fluttered away, chirruping its thanks to the giant.

Grom waved to it, sighing. “Gro…” he moaned.

Cassia closed her book, walking back to the path. “You’ll see another one, I’m sure. At least it came to you, right?”

Grom grunted and pounded in front of Lawrence, looking up.

Leery of the Golurk, Lawrence ran to Cassia, then began to walk alongside her. “How often do you do that? I mean...that looked pretty good!”

Cassia blushed. “Thanks. I draw whenever we get to somewhere new. A valley, a forest like this one.” She gestured to Grom, who hummed merrily to himself. “Every so often, Grom gets into a moment where he doesn’t look like a big monster, like what everyone thinks he is.” She shook her head. “He does look rather scary, but he’s not so bad, right?”

Lawrence nodded his head in agreement. ‘He might be overprotective, but he is a rather gentle guy.’ He glanced at Grom, watching him kick a log in boredom. As it splintered against a tree, Lawrence cautiously looked away. ‘But he is terrifying at times.’

They continued to walk through the woods, seeing no wildlife like the Fletchling. No rustling in the bushes, no twitter in the air. Not even the scattering of leaves by a running Bunnelby. Cassia, Grom and Lawrence seemed to be the only forms of life.

Unnerved by this fact, Lawrence asked, “Aren’t there any other wild Pokémon around here?”

Cassia’s head drooped. “No, sadly. They used to be everywhere, but given how dangerous many are, they’ve been practically killed off.” She looked up fiercely. “I think that Arthus might be to blame, considering his want for order and goodness.”

Lawrence coughed into his paw, looking up. ‘Despite that nightmare, I don’t think this Arthus guy is the one who supposedly destroyed the region. Zoroark are good illusionists, but they’re weak fighters…and certainly have no magical powers.’

The path wound out of the forest into a small plain, dividing the Kaena Woods from a nearby pine forest. The wind rushed rapidly through the grass, scattering leaves from Kaena across the plain.

Grom swiped playfully at the leaves, catching them and crushing them in his grip. Cassia waved her hand through the air, the leaves brushing past the tips of her fingers. “Last fall wasn’t as fun for me and Grom. The snow came before all the leaves had come off the branches.”

“How long have you been traveling together?” Lawrence asked.

Cassia looked back at Grom. “For around two years now. We’ve been going to as many towns as we can before we go to Cretea.”

“Cretea?” Lawrence inquired.

Cassia reached a hand into her bag. “It’s across the sea. It’s not at all like Serenita.” She unfolded a bundle of paper, revealing a map showing two vast continents with a scattering of islands beneath them.

She pointed to the left continent. “We’re in the middle of Serenita right now, around the east side.” She pointed to the islands. “And here’s Cretea. There’s lots of islands with many Pokémon who live on them.”

Lawrence pointed at the right continent. “What’s that one called?”

“Deitae, home of the Legends. Mortal Pokémon like us can’t go there, so you don’t need to worry much about that.” She folded the map, smiling. “I plan on going to Cretea once I go to the last few towns here in Serenita though. I have to teach everyone I can about the Arceist Tome.”

“Why do you want to do that? I mean, will this make their lives better?” Lawrence asked, annoyance in his tone. ‘I don’t like Erica trying to convert me, let alone her.’

Cassia’s smile faded. “Yes...but for another reason too.”

Grom suddenly quickened his pace, pointing ahead. “Graw-hom!”

A little way ahead, a town sprawled out in the center of the plain, with Pokémon rushing out of the walls and going about their business. The little buildings rose no more than a few stories high, with little chimneys poking out of their roofs. In the center of the town, a vast marketplace roared.

Cassia stopped, gripping her bag. She looked up at Grom, who stood just behind her. “Do you think there’s any Guild Pokémon here?” Grom shrugged.

“Guild Pokémon?” Lawrence asked.

Cassia slapped her forehead, groaning. “Right...we can’t let you be seen.” She dug through her bag, riffling through papers. “Um...you remember that Electabuzz and Machoke from before?”

“Yeah. What about them?” Lawrence asked uneasily. ‘I don’t like where this is going…’

“Well, those guys are nothing compared to Guild Pokémon. Those thugs are more bark than bite, but Guild Pokémon won’t hesitate to rob you or kill you.” She stopped looking into the bag. She took a quick glance at Grom, then pulled out a dull black rock, tied with a length of string. It had a series of random engravings, covered with a red powder.

She held it out to Lawrence. “Here. This is an...Illusion Stone.”

Lawrence cocked his head curiously, accepting the rock. “An...Illusion Stone?”

“Put it around your neck...with your eyes closed. That’s when it’ll start working,” Cassia directed. Lawrence, confused, did as she said. As soon as he felt the clink of the stone against his chest-spike, he felt a strong breeze blow against him.

He opened his eyes and studied himself. He didn’t appear any different. “What was that supposed to do?”

Cassia walked down the hill toward the town. “You’ll see. Just come down with me.” Grom followed, staring at the Illusion Stone.

Lawrence held the stone up, eyeing it curiously. ‘What’s so special about this rock?’

He took the Pokédex out from its case, checking for a dimensional weakness. No luck.

He growled and put it away. ‘Hopefully I’ll find a way home soon…especially considering the religious nature of these Pokémon.’ He watched them hurry down the hill and toward the town. ‘They’re nice enough, sure…but I don’t want to be involved in what they believe.’

He walked down the hill, running to catch up with Cassia and Grom.
------
Here's a picture of Grom, created by our own @canisaries!

 
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canisaries

just a prankster, juvenile gangster
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I read Chapter 2, now going to review.

20 Years AU Later…
I think you should change this to just "20 Years Later". Whether after or before an event, years are still years. The AU at first made me accidentally ignore the "Later" part, and I thought this was going to take place 20 AU, aka before the previous chapter.

Unless, of course, the length of a year changed with that usurping. I'm not that deep into the lore to actually know.

The chapter starts off with a human man getting out of bed and doing his daily morning routine. This does establish the contrast between a fantasy world and the real one, but I have to say that it could do with a lot of shortening. We've all woken up and gone to school/work/whatnot at a morning, we know what it's like. The whole in-depth description thing I'd say is in place in a fantasy world where nothing is familiar to the reader before, but for such an everyday course of events, the amount of description is just far too big. Example:

He combed his hair, then went out of the bathroom with his pajamas. He went back into his room and tossed the used clothes into the laundry basket. He took the Pokedex from the top of the bed, looking at its clock: 6:50. He still had time.
It really feels like we see every, every little thing the protagonist does. But we don't know him yet, there's nothing at stake, the description is very mundane and void of emotion, and none of this is even emphasized as being extremely boring or unfulfilling. If Lawrence was bored out of his mind of his life, frustrated at the nothingness, it would make him going along with the crazy experiment later on far more believable, too.

Even then, though, it really, really doesn't need to be this detailed. It's just slow and an effort to get through for the reader.

Setting it down, he stood up and opened the dresser, taking out clothes with no particular preference: a black collared shirt, dark-blue jeans, a pair of white socks, and a pair of underwear.
Another example of detail that I don't even know why was included. If the clothes are of no particular preference, then there's really no reason to even say what he wore, as we already can assume it's something utterly mundane. We never hear about these clothes' colors again, so they're pretty much utterly irrelevant.

Although, if the clothes mirrored a Lucario's colors exactly, that would be a fun little nod to what's about to happen and amusing considering Lawrence isn't even that fond of the species.

However, on a big positive: the description on the NYC-like Castelia City is great and really seems to capture the spirit and culture of the town. Street food, skyscrapers, hobos, very vivid. Never been to New York City myself, but this sure fits all the descriptions.

Melinda brushed back her hair and continued. “In other news, Valence Tech has announced a brand-new program, which they have labelled ‘Project Babel’. Experts speculate that it may refer to a language translation feature for their Pokedex 2.0 devices, given the historical connotation to ‘Babel’. Until more comes out involving their latest service, we are left with that.”
This brings up so many questions. The story of the Tower of Babel exists in the Pokeworld? Abrahamic mythology and the Bible exist? It has to be from the Bible, as the location is called Babylon in other sources.

The name Babel itself could kind of slide, but the point where the term's origin is specifically mentioned, the blurred line between real life things that make sense to refer to in Pokemon fiction and what don't is crossed very aggressively.

He speedily stepped down the hallway, not caring to remember who lived in the apartments next to him; they didn’t share his interests anyways.
This strikes me as a very weird sentence. Why would he even think about the neighbors if they're irrelevant?

Also, "anyway" is more grammatically correct, "anyways" is an informal word and Lawrence doesn't seem to speak too informally.

He tapped on ‘Random’, and began listening to his selection of instrumental tunes.
I would have liked to know what kind of music he listens to. The phrase "instrumental tunes" is strangely vague given the amount of detail in the rest of this fic.

fewer and Fewer people walked alongside him, funneling into their respective places of work.
Capitalization goof. It happens.

Lawrence moved toward the elevator, pulling out his wallet. On reaching the door, he scanned the ID inside across a black bar with a red light. The light changed to green, and doors split apart.
Keeping in mind that an ID is needed to get to where he works, the next event is strange:

“You help out a sailor with a Chatot’s mood swings once, and they love you for life. How did he find me exactly?”

Marcus groomed the Eevee, shrugging. “Well, you were in the news once. Remember your thesis on Pokemon behavior?”
...Who let this random, dirty-looking sailor in?

Lawrence sighed, opening a drawer underneath the table. A dark-skinned person wearing glasses looked over, noticing Lawrence’s brochure. “So, Erica finally got you to take one,” he noted.
"Person" feels very odd when every other character has been referred to as a man or woman. He has a male name and goes by "he", so i'm not sure why he wouldn't just be a "man" too.

Or, you could always go for "familiar face" for faster establishment if repetition of "man" was something you wanted to avoid.

awrence pulled out a cloth, wiping it across the table. “The one where I said that Pokemon are by no means like people due to their primitive habits? Of course!”

“I remember it too, and it stunk!”

Marcus and Lawrence looked behind them, where a young blonde-haired woman leaned on a table, next to an Alolan Vulpix. “My thesis on the utilities of Pokemon Contest moves in everyday life was much better than yours!”

“But Madelynn, yours never got nominated for any awards. Lawrence’s got three!” Marcus retorted.

Madelynn flipped back her hair, harrumphing. “So what? I know more about Pokemon than him anyway.”

“Let’s see you prove it then. Pop quiz: why do Lucario gather in packs?” Marcus asked.

She rolled her eyes and replied, “Because it’s easier to hunt for food of course!”

“No, it’s because they feel comfortable around Auras from their peers, and use them to communicate with each other. They’re able to coordinate better with each other in such setups,” Lawrence replied, closing the drawer.

Madelynn stared wide-eyed for a moment, then returned to the Vulpix, combing its fur. “That doesn’t prove anything. Besides, who was it that Lanson gave a Top Scientist Award to? Me.” She brushed back her hair, giving Lawrence a sly smile.
Madelynn is a very, very cliché bully, only there to be hated. It doesn't make me feel bad for Lawrence, which I suppose is what you were going for. Every line of dialogue I hear from her is so exaggeratedly annoying and immature that it really feels like the author's trying to get back at their own childhood bully by writing this caricature. But in reality, that's just stooping down to their level.

Bully characters are hard to get right, there's really only two ways. Either you make their bullying so over-the-top that it's funny (see The Simpsons), or you actually make them realistic (secretly very insecure and is trying to put down others for a power trip and popularity, that sort of stuff). How Madelynn speaks is just straight out of a 10-year-old bitchy girl's mouth (finding an adult that unironically says "stink" as an insult is rather hard, I know you don't like strong language but there just are some places where it belongs), and it's very unlikely that someone who hasn't advanced from that level of maturity would get a job as a scientist (scientists are required to be aware of risks and make choices based on logic, not emotions) let alone pursue science as a career.

But in the end, I'm not sure why she's even a character considering this is a PMD fic and the readers know that it's very likely they won't be meeting her again for a long time.

Lawrence ignored her, gripping the edge of his desk. “She just has to remind me, doesn’t she?” He wanted to earn the Valence Top Scientist Award, which they only gave away once a year. He thought he earned it at the ceremony, but Madelynn won for her progress in making a Pokemon Emotion Test. Who knows if he’d even matter the next time award season comes around again?
The text in bold here is completely unnecessary. The dialogue and common sense already imply that Lawrence wanted that award but didn't get it. The bold text just seems like spelling it out, and readers never like to feel like the author doesn't think they're sharp enough to get something the first time.

They’re loyal like a dog and have no sense of humor.
As opposed to animals that do have senses of humor...? If Pokemon are animals to Lawrence, I don't know why he'd judge them by human standards, that seems pretty nonsensical. I'm also not sure why being loyal like a dog (I could always ask what's a dog but I feel like that's too nitpicky even for me) is something to be dismissive of.

On a side note, I think "loyal like dogs" would sound better.

Lawrence stood up straight and bowed respectfully. “President Lanson! I, uh, wasn’t expecting to see you.”
There are a lot of characters and names introduced in a short amount of time, but again, we know we won't be sticking around with them. Lanson also shares the two first letters with Lawrence, which isn't the best when both are still relatively new in the scope of the whole fic.

“Many people think that Pokemon are loving companions that will stick with you to the end. Science proves them wrong. They seek rewards from actions, like animals; they aren’t capable of love or feeling.”
Shouldn't Lawrence, a biologist and in general a person who's shown interest in the concept of evolution, understand that humans are also animals and also seek personal gain with every choice they make, and that all social animals do have feelings because they serve an evolutionary purpose (joy motivates a creature, anger makes them protect what's important to them, love makes them care for their young and each other to ensure survival)? Especially since he's a behavioral scientist?

I think what you may be getting at here is much more related to consciousness/self-awareness or lack thereof - one could even speak of a soul (which would fit the religious themes!): whether there is someone living in that brain or not, and so whether it matters or not how well/poorly humans treat Pokemon. But not "feelings", that's just not the right word or concept for this.

“Transcending the language barrier can help relieve the workload too. If we have Pokemon learn and talk, they could take many jobs that we have to do ourselves—all because we can’t directly tell them our goals. Oh, they may understand tricks and commands such as their moves, but it is little more than prompting an action with a reward, and calling upon it with a linking phrase.”
Don't people use... machines for that already? Isn't technology here clearly advanced enough to start developing AI to learn these same things, and work much faster than any organism could?

I don't know why Lawrence isn't pondering these very same questions.

Marcus shrugged, returning to his patient Eevee. “I dunno, maybe because Arceists believe Pokemon should be treated like people, and you study how they act? I guess she just wants scientific proof, that’s all.” He looked up, chuckling. “Plus, I think she has a thing for you.”
It feels like these Arceists should be more protest-y of these science people in that case. If Pokemon should be treated like people, they shouldn't be shoved in glass boxes and called unintelligent, right?

Lanson turned around, holding his hands behind his back.
This is pretty cliché evil-unethical-corporation guy behavior. You do already have one villain that plays up his whole villain thing... for Arthus, it was charming, but for this guy it just seems a bit uninspired. Then there's also Madelynn... this does not set a good track record for villains.

Lanson studied Lawrence’s eyes, clapping his hands together. “You are also one of the few people I’ve met who sees Pokemon in my same light: animals, not even close to us humans. That will be key, as, you see, when you bring back specimens, we’d have to conduct tests, and not all of them are entirely…ethical.” He grabbed Lawrence’s shoulders with an unusually tight grip. “All the preparations are ready, and here’s the one clause for you to go: bring back at least one Pokemon. I don’t care how you do it.” He sat down, grinning. “Tell me, Mister Stephenson…do we have a deal?”
Lanson sighed, massaging his temples. “Unfortunately, there’s no way you can give them speech with our current resources; all experiments have resulted in failure.” Lawrence shivered when he said ‘experiments’.
I just seem to be getting constant mixed messages from Lawrence's morals. He must clearly like Pokemon, otherwise he wouldn't be studying them. But he thinks they're stupid and below human. But he also thinks conducting experiments on them is wrong? But he also doesn't immediately flip out when something screams in pain?

If Lawrence had been established to be a pushover that can't talk back, or that he thought he wouldn't be allowed out alive of this place at all (this is top-secret and very incriminating for the company), standing still and doing nothing would be far more understandable. Or even that he was impulsive and made lots of decisions on a whim.

“Pokemon! A dimension full of Pokemon, with no people!” Lawrence exclaimed. He never thought such a place could exist; many had thought of world with no Pokemon, but one with no humans? It had never been considered.

Lanson grinned, nodding. “Precisely! And they aren’t just any Pokemon either. Listen.” He tapped a button on the counter, and a scattered, static-y sound emanated all around them.
Okay, but... if these Pokemon can speak and build tools and houses, then clearly they aren't the same kind of Pokemon that reside in Lawrence's world. They're much more evolved, thus closer to human. So I'm really not seeing how they're going to help make Lawrence's world's Pokemon speak?

In the midst of the static, a tiny voice whispered, “I…Draena…Marill…”

Lanson revealed his gleaming teeth once more. “They can speak.”
You'd think them speaking the exact same language as us would be more interesting...?

Well, to be fair, this problem comes with basically every alien / fantasy story ever made, so it has become kind of forgivable at this point. Still, just even one line acknowledging how this is weird would have increased the believability of the characters.

Lawrence’s heart sank at the very thought. “But I have no idea what I’d do there! Why not send somebody else?”

Lanson’s gentleness returned as he sat on a chair. “I’ve done some extensive research on you, and you’re the best choice. Most everyone I work with is a city slicker, having no experience with the great outdoors. Those that have had some fresh air tend to be…” He tapped his chin for a moment. “…stupid. They are unsuited for research work like what you do, considering your extensive time studying Pokemon on Mount Coronet.”
Lawrence still feels extremely unqualified. He isn't in peak condition, he hasn't gone through extensive military training, and he literally just heard about this. I get that the story needs to happen and everything, but it might be better to either come up with a stronger explanation or previously hint at Lawrence actually being very capable and qualified for something specifically related to this.

Nine Minutes Later…

Scientists bustled about, making last-minute preparations for the journey to Equivos. Laborers carried supplies and placed them into containers, while two dozen individuals sat in front of computers, typing away algorithms and coordinates. All the while, the giant, golden ring in the center hummed loudly.
Nine minutes... They've been working on this top-secret hyper-advanced project for who knows how long, put who knows how much money into this, and they're going to put the biggest responsibility on some guy who only learned about any of this nine minutes ago? No training or briefing, even?

I could take two hours or something along those lines, but nine minutes... You can barely even eat some food and use the bathroom in that time, and that's pretty much the least a subject of an experiment needs to prepare for a trip to a completely another dimension.

Lawrence was too afraid to say otherwise.
If there was a threat of him being offed if he said no, sure. But there isn't as far as I could tell, so the thought of a guy agreeing to a seriously dangerous and stressful mission where he could - and probably statistically would - actually die, just because he was polite or too awkward to say no, is veeery much a stretch.

I would have also really liked if Lawrence's fear was described more. Sweating? Fast heartbeat? All kinds of doubts? Thinking of the risks? So on. He'd be more relatable, more alive.

A mechanical voice shouted, “Initiating wormhole generation.”
A pet peeve of mine. It feels silly to think someone would specifically make a text-to-speech program say these things out, when they could just have a guy announcing these things. He would be much faster, have more options he could say, he could clarify things when asked.

Lawrence hesitated, struggling to step back. What was he thinking, agreeing to this insanity? He shouldn’t be here!
I would feel bad for Lawrence, but... nah man, this is on you.

A yawning tunnel of cloud and dust circled around Lawrence, pitch-black and impossible to see through. He hyperventilated, having no control of his movement through the tunnel. Lightning flashed around him, giving him a fleeting glimpse of the horrors that lay beyond the fog. He floated in a rush of wind, dragging him to where he would, presumably, end up in Equivos.
Horrors? What horrors? That sounds like an amazing opportunity to let your imagination go free and describe all sorts of terrifying sights I would have loved to read about, but... they're just "horrors", without any further explanation, and then they're gone.

He felt his face, feeling short, soft fur and a pointed nose. He looked behind him, seeing the vague shape of a blue tail. His legs were long and black, turning large and blue at the top. His chest had long, yellow fur, with a sharp spike set at the top.

His head fell to the ground as he stared in disbelief. His vision went black, and his hearing dulled. He lost consciousness.
This chapter ends pretty dully. The action is allowed to simmer down before cutting off the chapter, which drains away the punch. Maybe ending it before he actually arrives and starting the next chapter off with the arrival and passing out would work? Beginnings of chapters are much more forgiving, especially already a few chapters in.

I know this review unfortunately turned out pretty negative, but it just is how I felt while reading. The positives are just a lot harder to notice when so many strange choices are made. I pointed out a lot of stuff which seem pretty hard to fix without strong, strong revising and a lot of thought work to still make the rest of the story make sense, and that never feels great to read as a writer. If you need clarification or explanation or anything, just lemme know.

I'm still gonna keep reading, naturally, as it seems like you were out of your element for this chapter. You do a lot better with the whole fantasy setting.
 

lucarioknight56

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Thanks for the review; I'm really not familiar with writing a sci-fi or main Pokemon world. I'll get to work on the points you suggested, such as changing details, adjusting characters, and providing more explanations for characters.

Edit:
@canisaries
By the way...what portions of the opening scene should I remove? I want to keep the actions involving the Pokedex to help people know what it is in the context of the world, and I want to keep the conversation with his parents.
 
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canisaries

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By the way...what portions of the opening scene should I remove? I want to keep the actions involving the Pokedex to help people know what it is in the context of the world, and I want to keep the conversation with his parents.
Sorry for extremely late reply, it seems that the ping didn't work as nothing showed up in my inbox and I only now found this when browsing through the thread. Anyway: I was going to say that pretty much anything you or the reader would do on a daily basis can be minimized in description or even cut if common sense allows it, but I read through the new version of the beginning and it looks pretty good right now. I don't think you need to change anything anymore.
 

canisaries

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Okay! Read through chapter 3, here are my thoughts.

So, I see you changed up the transition between the chapters as I suggested, and I think this does work a lot better. It keeps the mystery of what's to come in the end of the 2nd chapter, and the establishing and answering stuff in the start of this one, which also works as a dynamic beginning.

The Golurk stopped mere feet from Lawrence, staring down at him, emotionless. Lawrence covered his face, expecting the worst.

The Golurk cocked his head, and extended an arm to him. He grabbed Lawrence’s paw, then lifted him to his feet. Lawrence looked at him with a mixture of perplexity and terror, wondering why he wasn’t being pulverized by the weighted fists.
Small question: if Lawrence had his face covered, how did he know to respond to an extended arm? Unless you meant that Grom forcefully yanked him by one of his paws while they were still on his face - in that case, that could be clearer.

A bulging brown sack hung from her shoulder.
As a non-native, I might not be the best person to give advice on phrasing, but I think "over" would sound better (provided that is what you had in mind). The current form slightly sounds like she's got a nasty tumor.

The autumnal air rushed through the trees, whisking away the red and gold leaves. Sunset richened their colors, and the wind deepened their crisp, as they whirled away into the sky. A worn path wove between the trunks, an ancient relic from a time long past. In the vast sea of yellow and orange, a small clearing poked through, an island amongst the waves.
Very beautiful. This is the kind of stellar description I've learned to expect from you :>

However, I think your description could benefit from more inclusion of the other senses. Don't get me wrong, they are there, but sight seems to overpower them a lot of the times. Sight gets the reader a painting-like vision of the setting, but hearing upgrades it to a movie - and touch and smell make it into a whole reality. Later on, you did have something on sap and birdsong, which was good. I'd like more of it.

He stepped on it-- turning it to splinters—disappearing amongst the wood.
The lines seem odd, possibly the work of the editing software.

“Are you needing help with something?”
This is kind of a weirdly phrased question. I think just "Do you need help with something?" would do the trick and sound less strange.

He laughed nervously and sat down on the blanket “I guess I am.”
Missing period.

"That's exactly what I'm saying." Cassia set the book aside. Her eyes narrowed and her fingers wrapped around the book’s binding. "The Usurper is called Arthus Zoroark,” she spat, “and it’s thanks to him that the Guilds have turned on the very Pokemon they promised to protect.” She traced the arc on the book, her hands quivering. “What he did—” She shut her eyes. “--is unforgiveable.” She turned her gaze to Lawrence. “He is real.”
From what I've read of your other stories, I'd say the exposition has grown to be more natural. Instead of the story halting to establish something, here it's made more flowing and engaging with a character narrating it and another reacting to it. It makes it feel a lot more relevant.

That said, something weird's happening with the lines again.

Cassia flipped the page, revealing a Lucario taking a golden pendant from a hill, running toward a village. “Matheus found the Seal and hid it away, so that Arthus couldn’t claim it. When Arthus found out, he attacked their hometown, killing all but Matheus’ sister, Azure, and their nephew, Laryon. Matheus had given the Seal to Laryon, thinking that Arthus would never discover it with him.”

“Years after, Arthus discovered Laryon’s village and attempted to take the Seal. Matheus took him away and taught him the ways of an explorer while they went to save Azure, as well as to protect the Seal.” An aged Lucario walked alongside a Riolu wearing a golden pendant, directing his gaze to the ocean.

“Arthus tricked them, however. He knew they would come rescue her, and with his illusions, tricked them into giving the Seal. While they recovered, Arthus went to the Tree of Life, and stole Arceus’ power.”
The story is a bit unclear. Why did Arthus spare Azure and Laryon? Did they just get away in time? Did Matheus give the seal to Laryon before or after Arthus's attack? The "had given" is confusing. Why didn't Matheus teach Laryon to begin with, and only did it after Laryon's village was found? What happened to Azure? The story is sort of phrased like she was taken hostage, but it's never outright stated. Overall, it probably makes sense in context, but from an outsider perspective it's kind of difficult to read.

Lawrence didn’t believe her story. Pokemon weren’t capable of any of this, especially things like prophecy. They might be able to talk, and they might be able to make things…but nothing magical or religious could happen.
Lawrence considered his travelling companions. Cassia seemed nice enough, but her belief in the Arceist Tome unsettled him. He didn’t want to get involved in the spiritual aspect of Equivos, if there was one. Besides, she was a Gardevoir, and he was human; she might be able to think and talk, but that didn’t make them equals in any sense.
I went back to check out the changes to chapter 2 a bit, and while it makes more sense in some ways, it makes less sense in others. Doesn't the construction of civilization basically mean a civilized, sentient species? It's how humans started out and not even that long ago. It's just weird for Lawrence to be both altruistic and cold.

Unnerved by this fact, Lawrence asked, “Aren’t there any other wild Pokemon around here?”

Cassia’s head drooped. “No, sadly. After Arthus took the Guild over, he ordered all the wild Pokemon killed. He claimed that wanted to make sure that there would be no more calls for rescue efforts, but I think it was just out of spite.” She looked up fiercely. “I’ve been trying to tell Pokemon about it, but they all think they migrated, like the Starly do for the winter.”

Lawrence still thought that this Arthus was a ridiculous character, the recent nightmare aside. There’s so far been no evidence of him in this lush landscape, and he doubted that there would be.
I'm wondering a bit why Lawrence insists that there's no Arthus at all. If I were him, I'd assume that some other Zoroark warlord was going around pretending to be the legendary Arthus. It'd be more likely than two people just lying about the general state of the world for no reason.

There's one last aspect of this chapter I want to comment on, but it was spread out so I couldn't really quote one single thing. I like the fact that Lawrence has to spend time getting used to this new body. In a lot of stories, the protagonist often just knows their way with their completely new and different body instantly, but not in this one. But it's not too drawn out here, either, it comes occasionally and doesn't interrupt the rest of the story. Really only one aspect I noticed was missing, and that's that Lawrence is basically naked all this time, which for a human would be kind of jarring, at least in the start.

Well, that's it for this time! See you Dec 30th, or probably later because I tend to be kind of a slow reader. Unless, of course, you have any questions about this review, which are welcome.
 

lucarioknight56

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@canisaries

I'll get to work on the issues you notedl they'll be easier to make as they mostly focus on odd structure and/or descriptions. There is one thing I have a question about however:

I went back to check out the changes to chapter 2 a bit, and while it makes more sense in some ways, it makes less sense in others. Doesn't the construction of civilization basically mean a civilized, sentient species? It's how humans started out and not even that long ago. It's just weird for Lawrence to be both altruistic and cold.
Alright, so here's my issue. Lawrence is a person who doesn't see Pokemon as sentient creatures like ourselves, but here he is in a world where they are. He's right now having a hard time accepting that fact, despite there being clear evidence that they are sentient. I'm having issues with demonstrating his morals, as he is going to be asking himself why he's treating Pokemon like he would a human.

It might be too confusing to try--in which case, I can edit it out--but I want to have that sort of conflict. Any suggestions?
 

canisaries

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Alright, so here's my issue. Lawrence is a person who doesn't see Pokemon as sentient creatures like ourselves, but here he is in a world where they are. He's right now having a hard time accepting that fact, despite there being clear evidence that they are sentient. I'm having issues with demonstrating his morals, as he is going to be asking himself why he's treating Pokemon like he would a human.

It might be too confusing to try--in which case, I can edit it out--but I want to have that sort of conflict. Any suggestions?
Well, a way to keep that in is to play up Lawrence's irrationality and have him justify his beliefs to himself more instead of just saying Pokemon are inferior and that's that. His dismissiveness of Pokemon could also show by inability to empathize with them and even something like avoiding touching them in fear of catching a disease. That way, when he eventually turns around, it'll be a stronger change.

I don't really think cutting the conflict out is a very good choice, as it would leave kind of a void in its place and make Lawrence blander, just kind of an every-man but not really, given his conflict with religion. The conflict might not make 100% sense, but I think trading that in for more content in the story is fair.

It may be possible to try to merge his two conflicts, too: he doesn't want to treat Pokemon like people because "that's what those Arceists do". Also, have you thought about giving Lawrence some poor experiences with Pokemon or Arceists in the past?
 
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