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View Full Version : [SWC] Valhalla


Negrek
September 5th, 2009, 11:38 AM
Rating: PG
Author's Notes: Unlike most of the entries for the Small Writing Contest, I chose not to reproduce mine exactly as it was submitted. When I submitted the original, I was extremely displeased with the ending, for a variety of reasons. I wasn't able to come up with one that seemed to fit until well after the deadline for the contest. Because I feel that the new ending is much more appropriate than the original, I have chosen to display it as the main one here.

However, because I'm sure some people will prefer to read the 'fic as it was originally submitted, I have also included the original ending at the bottom of this post under a spoiler tag. The first letter of the paragraph where the new ending takes over from the old one is bolded, so if you reach that point and would prefer to go to the original ending instead of reading the one that's on there now, you can scroll down and open up the spoiler.

Other than that, the 'fic is exactly as it was submitted, without further proofreading or anything. I hope you enjoy it.

Valhalla

The Kanto Hall of Fame was lonely after hours. There were no school groups trooping through, jabbering and pointing out the pictures of their favorites on the walls. There were no researchers mining the archives, or young trainers come to dream of their own future here. The only lights were scattered emergency bulbs, and even the janitors had gone home for the night.

There was no movement but that of dust filtering down through the darkened air, settling around faceless stone statues from the time before the leagues, when the champion had simply been the one who had conquered all comers and seized power over the region. The great video screen that spanned almost an entire wall was dark, but on the console below it an LED blinked a green heartbeat.

A sceptile stepped from behind one of the ancient statues, yellow eyes wide as they swept over the shadowy room. Its claws were soundless on tile waxed to a mirror sheen, not even the rustle of vegetation giving it away as its leafy tail swayed back and forth behind it. And then, as it drew nearer to the front of the room, a high-pitched screech cut through the dark.

A raichu hurled itself from its perch atop a decaying granite rhydon, electricity outlining its body in a blinding halo. The sceptile had only half-turned when the electric type slammed into its side, lightning discharging with a snarl. The big lizard, although less susceptible to the voltage than most, jerked and let out a gurgling hiss as the raichu clambered between the seed pods lining the grass type’s back, claws tearing at leathery skin. The sceptile hissed and twisted, razor-sharp leaves swishing through the air as it struck at the sparking rodent.

A lucky slice caught the raichu across the underbelly as the electric-type flailed for a pawhold, and it tumbled free of its perch, blood marking a long gash up its chest. But its trainer was there, standing firm amidst the statuary. “Quick attack!” he yelled, but even as the raichu was clambering to its feet, a backwards kick from the sceptile sent it skidding away across the floor.

The rodent’s bolt-tipped tail stabbed at the tiles, dragging up a line of sparks as the raichu scrambled to right itself on the slippery floor. The sceptile wheeled at the call of its own trainer, spitting glowing seeds after its floundering opponent. The firecracker sound of the bullet seeds bursting against the tiles almost drowned out the next command, but the raichu’s ears were sharp; its slide ended against the side of a crumbling totem, and it scrambled up the worn stone before hurling itself into another clawing, biting embrace with its opponent.

The sceptile’s trainer showed no sign of fear, in spite of the fact that the man across the room from him was several years older, and a legend besides. The latest pokédex model and athletic clothing splashed with the most fashionable brand names stood opposite apricorns and a scuffed, unadorned cloak. Gabriel Arden, champion of the Kanto League, looked forward across the ages and across the floor at Rod Carver, champion of the Kanto League, and neither seemed to find the meeting strange.

The sceptile’s claws slipped on the polished tile and it went down on one knee, clawing at the wiry tail wrapped around its neck. The raichu sent throbbing pulses of lightning rattling through the lizard’s body as the grass type thrashed and wheezed in terror—

And then the raichu was flying through the air again, lightning-bolt tail blazing with energy as it slammed an iron tail between the sceptile’s shoulder blades. But this time the lizard turned, claws closing around the whip-thin tail, and swung the raichu over its head before hurling it away and into another of the statues. The electric type, dazed and twitching, toppled to the floor—

Or there had been no iron tail at all, and the raichu launched a mega kick at the sceptile’s flank, only to be met with a downward-sweeping dragon claw. The electric type shrilled with pain and fell back. Too weak to respond to its trainer’s call, the raichu was engulfed in a howling column of solar energy—

Only to become a hulking arcanine, embers dribbling out around its teeth as it watched the sceptile step back, hissing and flaring the leaves on its wrists. And it wasn’t Gabriel who stood against Rod, now, but Marianna Forthright, champion of the Kanto League, tall and pinched-looking in an antique dress clearly not meant for the field of battle. A fine mist of rain spattered the worn monuments and pokemon alike but the trainers, just beyond, were untouched.

The blaze of light from the arcanine’s first attack revealed a crobat whirling and flitting near the ceiling, stalked by a fearow on silent wings. Below, two furret wound between the statues, rushing into fits of clawing and biting and then breaking apart again, circling for advantage in the gloom. Beyond that, a machamp wrestled a golem, and still further on, a venusaur snared a dragonite in creeping, leeching vines.

In among them were the trainers, of all ages and sizes, all races and all times. The champions of Kanto stood rank on rank between the statues, commanding their pokémon against one another in battle after battle, tireless and undaunted as the night stretched on. They were all here, the revered and the reviled, from last year’s top dog to those represented as no more than crude outlines once gouged into the ancient stone that ringed the plateau long before the modern league was built here, their names and pokémon no more than fragments and guesswork glued together by myth and song.

Beneath them all electricity hummed, machinery whirred; the console light blinked its excitement as it watched the battles unfold. Some of the champions were well-known, like Edward Fairholt, indicted for stuffing his team full of illegal performance enhancers, or Veronica Elswood, who clung to her title a full ten years in a row, far longer than any before or since. But they were the few, the brightest stars in a crowded firmament—who would remember Alex Davis, unremarkable in all but that he was Kanto’s champion a hundred and twenty years ago? Or Merlin Torel, who took the title only because his opponent overslept and failed to appear for the match?

There was one who knew them all, and more than that besides—knew their history and their foibles, traced the rise and fall of Kanto through the fashions its champions wore and the ever-expanding stable of pokémon that they used to win their place. It gave a little introduction to the hall to any visitor who stepped before the console, and the schoolchildren always laughed and pointed at its cartoon-swirl eyes as it bobbed around on the big console screen, stuck their arms out straight and flailed them around in imitation of the little oblong extensions protruding from its sides.

It answered all the old questions: “Who was the first female champion?” Elizabeth Floredel, crowned in 855. “What was the shortest championship match ever?” The battle between Ernest Vendrig and Wilson Scott in 904. It lasted two minutes and nineteen seconds before a wayward icicle spear struck Ernest in the chest, killing him and making Wilson the winner by default.

But there were the questions, too, that they never thought to ask, and perhaps thought could never be answered. What if Ernest and Wilson had taken their match the whole way through? Who would have won? What if Evan Dulherst hadn’t told his camerupt to explode in the third round, but saved it instead? If you pitted the best battlers of today against those one hundred, how would they measure up? Who was the greatest of the greats, the true champion among champions?

The caretaker asked these all and more, and on unused processor cycles, in quiet hours of the night, it played out its holographic dreams, watched Kanto’s finest test themselves again and again, against a hundred different opponents, in every circumstance imaginable. Sometimes it constructed elaborate terrain out of the pictures of the old Indigo Plateau or the trainers’ homelands buried deep in its memory banks: places it would never see, never know of as more than a footnote to so-and-so’s greatness. Sometimes, though, they raged through the only place the caretaker had ever been, the hall that was its only real home, and the statues were joined by flitting digital ghosts, their struggles and triumphs leaving no marks in the dust filtering softly to the floor.

What had they hoped for, these men and women who carried the thread of leadership down through Kanto’s generations? They were fighting for fame, for money, for immortality. But humans were fickle and their attention short; some names lived on long past their times, but more often than not, even these, who had gone so far to grave their names on the pages of history, acquired the greatest honor Kanto could give, had faded into no more than the briefest mention in obscure books of history.

There was one who would not forget, who looked on all with loving eyes and hoarded all that it knew about them, arranging and re-arranging the facts with the passion of a fervent collector. For a creature with no future, there was nothing to do but build a life out of the past, observing the champions as they battled opponents they never could have dreamed of, their pokémon forever by their side in battle.

And, most every year, there would be a new one added to the flock: eager and almost fainting with joy, they’d stand for a picture with their pokémon, slide pokéballs into the console’s slots to let the data on their teammates be read. New biographical information was poured into memory banks, images inserted for cataloguing and admiration. The caretaker sifted through it all, reformulating models, calculating statistics. And, not too much time later, the new champion would join their peers in the unending dance of battle, rising or falling in favor as they matched up against centuries of Kanto’s best.

Night wore on towards morning, and gradually the shades of humans and pokémon began to thin out, those who lost their matches retreating back to the depths of digital memory. But there was one trainer who walked the floor and did not fade, who trounced even the most powerful champions with ease. Its form was blurred and fringed with static, its sex indeterminate, but by its side there always hovered a porygon-z. The two of them scoured the floor with preternatural skill. Every trick, every strategy that the other champions tried against them was turned aside, and opponent after opponent was overwhelmed, their weaknesses exposed, their gambits turned back against them. How could they win against one who knew their every detail, who had spent a lifetime studying the minutiae of their greatest battles?

At last there were none left but the porygon-z and its trainer, standing before the long case displaying championship trophies awarded here over the ages. There were images of these and more tucked away in the depths of the caretaker’s brain, usually pictures of them being clutched in the hands of some ecstatic young trainer just beginning to realize what he or she had done. With time even the simulacrum of a trainer fell to pieces and only the porygon-z remained, hovering before an array of trophies that, while it held them all in its mind, it could never even reach out to touch.

The pokémon remained there, alone, until the lights came on and somewhere far away the gates of the league complex ground open. The new day invited a fresh batch of living souls, wrapped up in the bright, urgent certainty of their lives, to wander through the halls of those whose lives were long past, and those who had never really lived.

So now there’s you, the latest in a proud lineage. This is your time, when the airwaves chatter with news of your winnings and you'll be recognized wherever you go. Perhaps you’ll fade from the public eye, be forgotten after this, your greatest achievement made and nothing but a long slide into obscurity ahead. This is the end of your journey through the Kanto League. But as the world moves on and another comes to take your place, your time will stretch on, here, in a mind of microchips and circuitry. You and your partners will battle on into the future for the pleasure of a lonely god, until the electricity fails and even Indigo Plateau, pride of the Kanto League, falls to ruin.

You have worked hard to become the new league champion. Congratulations, trainer! You and your pokémon are Hall of Famers!

Bay Alexison
September 5th, 2009, 01:59 PM
Okay, the review will be in two parts. The first part penetrates the original version you send to the judges and then the second part of the review over the new ending.

Grammar:10/10
You’re very knowledgeable in that field, so no complaints. XD Even though I did see one typo, in which you put “home” twice, it’s very minor. XD

Literary Elements (plot, setting, characterization, etc.): 9/10
Pretty much the things I like about this piece I already mention in the Prompt section. :) However, I want to say what's great about this piece and what makes me give you first place is it got me to thinking. Right after you're the Champion, you'll be remembered for quite some time until someone else beats you. Makes you wonder sometimes what the Champion's life will be like after they're defeated and also if anyone will remember him. For instance, Steven from Emerald. Since Wallace took his spot for Champion, one wonders if anyone (both the people in the games and the people playing the games) remember him.

One thing I want to mention is your description. You did very well with it by having the attacks described well and still having the battle at a fast pace. Not only that, you didn’t have the physical description of the Pokemon (and other people and objects for that matter) be stopped at one paragraph just to have it out of the way. You’re able to gradually describe how they look like and the emotions also while describing the battle. However, one thing. There are times you would repeat the description. For instance, you mention Raichu’s “lightning bolt shaped tail” two or three times. I know you want to have your sentences to have variety, but you don’t need to repeat that description a lot.

Prompt:10/10
Love how you have the Hall of Fame’s past relate to time. That got to me thinking also what would happen if a modern trainer goes against a trainer from the past. Also, the twist at the end where the reader is about to be at the Hall of Fame is just excellent. Great, you’re making me feel all nostalgic when I was able to go to the Hall of Fame with my team of Pokemon. XD Nothing more to say but great creative work with the prompt.

Overall Score: 29/30

Now with that out of the way, the new ending. Hm, interesting you took a different approach. There's one trainer that is able to defeat the champions in succession, but eventually the trainer was forgotten except for his/her Porygon-Z. Also, you mention how in the end the past champions' legacy were never legacies to begin with. Well, this is how I interpret it. ^^;

To tell the truth, I like the original ending better. Maybe it's because how the ending feels like you're getting the reader involved, hence the line, "So now there’s you, the latest in a proud lineage." Also, the ending has this more sorta hopeful tone that despite being forgotten, their records and such will still be there, so at least someone will look through it and such. Another reason is to me, the original ending relates to more of the "what if?" questions you posed a few times.

Once again, congrats on first place! I like both of the endings, I really do, but I prefer the original one.

Negrek
September 5th, 2009, 09:58 PM
You’re very knowledgeable in that field, so no complaints. XD Even though I did see one typo, in which you put “home” twice, it’s very minor.
Yeahhh, I'll kill that.

However, I want to say what's great about this piece and what makes me give you first place is it got me to thinking.
Great! Mostly, I write because I want to get people thinking and asking questions.

For instance, you mention Raichu’s “lightning bolt shaped tail” two or three times. I know you want to have your sentences to have variety, but you don’t need to repeat that description a lot.
Twice is too much? All right, I'll look into it.

Now with that out of the way, the new ending. Hm, interesting you took a different approach. There's one trainer that is able to defeat the champions in succession, but eventually the trainer was forgotten except for his/her Porygon-Z.
Heh, well, nope, that's not quite what's going on in the new ending... to clarify:

The caretaker is a porygon-z (see the paragraph beginning "There was one who knew them all...") in charge of managing the league champion database and interacting with visitors. The porygon-z mentioned towards the end of the one-shot is a "self-insert"--it's projecting itself into the simulation and battling against the other pokémon.

Perhaps that would give you a better idea of what's going on with the trainer there?

Interesting that you preferred the original ending--to be honest, I find them about equally depressing myself. Thanks again for judging, and for giving opinions on the revision.

Bay Alexison
September 5th, 2009, 10:40 PM
On the spoiler...

Oh, okay, I get it now. I do get it that the Porygon-Z is the caretaker from the last paragraph, but the mention of the trainer threw me off at first for some reason. ^^; Also, have to say that's actually cool the Porygon-Z is able to do that. Heh, that Pokemon can do wonders when it comes to computers. :P

As for the repeated descriptions part, well, the thing is you have the repeated description, like the example I mentioned, a few sentences close to each other and such. It's actually quite minor and not a huge deal, though. Overall the description of the battle is excellent, so don't sweat too much over it.

txteclipse
September 5th, 2009, 11:47 PM
Wow. This is really just stunning. I started reading it and got this warm fuzzy feeling about all of these champions combating each other and thought that it would sort of be a tribute to the Hall of Fame. I started thinking things like "hey, I'm in that melee somewhere, fighting champions like myself! And some of my fictional characters would be in there, too, and I'd be facing off against them! How cool!" I assumed it would be an ode to everyone who's reached that place of prestige.

But then you started pulling back the curtain, describing how futile it was all turning out to be, how these people were slowly being forgotten despite how much of their lives they'd poured into getting there. It made me sad and frustrated, but it made perfect sense. Humanity is fickle: we move on to the new and flashy rather quickly. Things aren't meant to last these days: they're intended to entertain us for a short while, and then become worthless so that we move on. We aren't dedicated to anything anymore.

Ultimately, however, I think it is the journey, not the final victory, which has meaning. These champions may be forgotten, but what they and their pokémon learned and experienced during the struggles they faced is worth much more than any sort of place in history. The only remaining question is whether they understood that in the end, or didn't.

Negrek
September 12th, 2009, 10:48 PM
Urp, late reply.

Bay

All right, thanks for letting me know.

txteclipse

Glad that you enjoyed it--or, at least, I hope it didn't leave you too sad and frustrated.

Ultimately, however, I think it is the journey, not the final victory, which has meaning. These champions may be forgotten, but what they and their pokémon learned and experienced during the struggles they faced is worth much more than any sort of place in history. The only remaining question is whether they understood that in the end, or didn't.
Sounds like the right idea to me, though I can't speak to the last sentence; I imagine that would have to be another one-shot, heh.

Thanks a lot for reviewing!

patch.
September 13th, 2009, 01:04 AM
Yay, I feel like critiquing. My first critique here, I'll try to do it good. xD

or young trainers come to dream of their own future here.
Just thought I'd point that out as you noted about school groups the section before the comma of that sentence; why are some kids at school and your 'young trainers' not? I always like a bit of reasoning, you know. :3

settling around faceless stone statues from the time before the leagues,
Now I want to know why they're faceless. I like explanations. >_>

The rodent’s bolt-tipped tail stabbed at the tiles,
I thought Raichu's tails were soft, and here you are making holes in tiles with the tip. Not necessarily saying this is wrong, I just find it surreal. :x

lizard’s body as the grass type thrashed and wheezed in terror—
I'm pretty sure that "—" is unnecessary and should be replaced with a period.

then the raichu was flying
Wrong choice of term, in my opinion. 'Leaping' or 'falling' would have worked a lot better. As a note, I believe it's right, as it's a name, to capitalise the names of all the Pokémon Species and their attacks, as it just seems to fit. :/

as it slammed an iron tail between the sceptile’s shoulder blades.
Reading the next sentence, it should be, "as it attempted to slam an Iron Tail between the Sceptile's shoulder blades."

The electric type, dazed and twitching, toppled to the floor—
Again, the "—" should be a period.

raichu was engulfed in a howling column of solar energy—
And here...also, I don't really understand this. How does a column of solar energy howl? To correct it, you could do something like: "Raichu was engulfed in a column of solar energy, a bone-chilling howl echoing around the spacious room." Unless I'm reading it incorrect, and you didn't want a howl at all.

The blaze of light from the arcanine’s first attack revealed a crobat whirling and flitting near the ceiling, stalked by a fearow on silent wings. Below, two furret wound between the statues, rushing into fits of clawing and biting and then breaking apart again, circling for advantage in the gloom. Beyond that, a machamp wrestled a golem, and still further on, a venusaur snared a dragonite in creeping, leeching vines.
This whole paragraph made little to no sense to me, and if you read it over, honestly, you can probably see why. I really don't get it. ._.'

Night wore on towards morning,
...why did you bold the N? ._.

From what I could tell, the caretaker was the Porygon-Z, and it was literally the best battler on Earth; created a holographic trainer, and fought and won?

Anyhow, overall, I have to say I found this enjoyable. Even if it was a huge battle, which isn't exactly rare so to say, it was described well and presented beautifully. As said above, there are a few errors, but who doesn't screw up sometimes, eh? ;3

Good job, overall. ^-^

Negrek
September 13th, 2009, 08:03 AM
Just thought I'd point that out as you noted about school groups the section before the comma of that sentence; why are some kids at school and your 'young trainers' not?
The kids are in school, the trainers are out training; the schoolchildren are either too young to be training, never started training, or are former trainers who have since returned to school.

Now I want to know why they're faceless. I like explanations. >_>
The statues are so old and weathered that their features have been worn away.

I thought Raichu's tails were soft, and here you are making holes in tiles with the tip. Not necessarily saying this is wrong, I just find it surreal. :x
Dunno, I've always thought the lightning-bolt part was stiff, myself. I'm not sure whether there's any official word on that, but it's an interesting thought.

I'm pretty sure that "—" is unnecessary and should be replaced with a period.
The dashes are being used to indicate an abrupt break and transition--the scene is getting cut off in the middle of the action and being replaced by a new one. A period would definitely be acceptable there, but I had hoped that the dashes would indicate to readers that something unusual was happening, so that they would be less jarred when the following paragraph represented an abrupt change in scene.

Wrong choice of term, in my opinion. 'Leaping' or 'falling' would have worked a lot better. As a note, I believe it's right, as it's a name, to capitalise the names of all the Pokémon Species and their attacks, as it just seems to fit. :/
Hmm, "leaping" is worth some consideration, I think. As for capitalizing pokémon names, though... *laughs* that's something of an open debate, and not necessarily one that you want to get into here, I think.

Reading the next sentence, it should be, "as it attempted to slam an Iron Tail between the Sceptile's shoulder blades."
No, the iron tail was successful; the sceptile grabbed the raichu's tail after it had executed the attack.


And here...also, I don't really understand this. How does a column of solar energy howl? To correct it, you could do something like: "Raichu was engulfed in a column of solar energy, a bone-chilling howl echoing around the spacious room." Unless I'm reading it incorrect, and you didn't want a howl at all.
The same way that wind howls or thunder rolls; a solarbeam is a dense concentration of energy in the form of heat and light, which changes the temperature in pressure in the air around it, generating pressure waves that are perceived as sound by humans and other animals. To be fair, though, a solarbeam would most likely cause more of a roar than a howl... I have to admit to the howling thing being a personal oddity, as for some reason I tend to envision powerful energy attacks as making higher-pitched noises rather than concussions the way that physical objects traveling at high speed would. Would it be better if the descriptor was "roared?"

This whole paragraph made little to no sense to me, and if you read it over, honestly, you can probably see why. I really don't get it. ._.'
Nooope, I'm afraid you'll have to clarify. It looks pretty self-explanatory to me, unless you're confused by the transition from one battle to many.

...why did you bold the N? ._.
It indicates where people who want to read the original ending should stop and skip down to the spoiler.

From what I could tell, the caretaker was the Porygon-Z, and it was literally the best battler on Earth; created a holographic trainer, and fought and won?
That's a part of it, yeah.

Very interesting comments! Thanks for taking the time to put this review together; it really gives me some things to think about. I'm glad you enjoyed the story, too, and liked the battle overall--battles are one of my favorite things to write, so I must admit to maybe throwing them in more often than I should.

Sgt Shock
September 13th, 2009, 03:30 PM
You're very eloquent in your choices of words. I most impressed. I must read more. Just your general flow is astounding.