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  #26    
Old May 10th, 2008, 05:50 PM
Mewtwo42's Avatar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acrutheo View Post
Yeah, it's definitely just a temporary thing; qualified Guard uniform is too expensive for Cadets, and still leaves them exposed to attacks from qualified Guards. Should I make this more obvious?
I think you should clarify this, so that readers don't get confused(if any would)but I think it would be a good idea.
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  #27    
Old May 10th, 2008, 05:59 PM
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I've added an explanatory paragraph about why he receives such a uniform as a cadet, directly after the paragraph where his uniform is mentioned.

EDIT: w00t, over three hundred views. :D Thanks to all my readers and reviewers; I appreciate your interest. ^___^
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Hoenn is no longer as you know it. The shadow of tyranny grips the land, and pokémon trainers despair across the region.
  #28    
Old May 10th, 2008, 06:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acrutheo
His uniform was temporary; as soon as he qualified to become a guard, he would receive an intimidating armour that would drown passing citizens in fear. But for now, this monotone uniform was to instill a sense of conformity within him, and the easiness of penetration was to allow the qualified Guards' strikes to him to cause maximum pain. All in all, it was to remind him that he wasn't a Guard yet; still a lowly Citizen.
All right that makes more sense now. This paragraph also adds to the doom-feel of the fic, giving the reader an idea of how terrible Hoenn's riegn is.

I'm looking forward to the rest - keep at it!! :)
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  #29    
Old May 10th, 2008, 07:40 PM
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This is really interesting. At first I was a bit put-off by the title (although in hindsight I'm not exactly sure why... Maybe I thought it sounded slightly cliche? Which it's not), but now I can't wait for what happens next.

For that non-capitalised and capitalised thing, I thing that if it's the first time they speak in the sentence, then it's capitalised and if it's the second time in the same sentence, it's not... I'll give you an example because my explanations are usually very confusing.

Capitalised:
"She gasped as blood welled from the cut on her hand, exclaiming, 'Ouch, that hurts.'"

Not capitalised:
"'Ouch,' She gasped as blood welled from the cut on her hand before exclaiming; 'that hurts.'"

At least, I think that's the difference. It's what I do, at any rate.
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  #30    
Old May 10th, 2008, 08:35 PM
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I've looked it up, and Wikipedia seems to agree with Sweet_Dreams and bobandbill. So, I'll correct those problems. xD;

And thanks to Mewtwo42 and Sweet_Dreams for the compliments. Sweet_Dreams, yeah, the title is a bit bland. I fully expect to change it by the end of the time I've finished my fic, but for now, I think that, since the Empire is such an important part of the fic, that is the best title to represent it so far.

Titles are always something that I like to do last. :P
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Hoenn is no longer as you know it. The shadow of tyranny grips the land, and pokémon trainers despair across the region.
  #31    
Old May 15th, 2008, 12:33 AM
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Firstly, I would like to thank bobandbill for BETAing this chapter, which was a really useful report. ^_^

Chapter Two: Blackmail

First class of the day.

Amply spaced across a large training room, a hundred students eagerly stood. Quite typically, four black marble walls imposed themselves on the room, but the floors were covered in blood red sponge mats, with the colours unevenly distributed. Was it possible that the mats were once not this colour?

Despite this possibility hanging over the cadets, almost all of them looked excited in their own way; some had arrogant smiles, others nervously looked around the room. A short, bruised girl by the name of Kayla Oxford, on the other hand, had her own way of showing her determination.

Glaring into the back of the head of her assaulter.

One of the Guards had inquired about her bruise earlier, without sympathy in his voice; merely the sadistic desire to punish the offender. Kayla had replied that she tripped and fell, to which the Guard chuckled unkindly, calling her an idiot. Many male cadets had approached this attractive girl and offered to defend her honour by breaking a few of Watson’s bones. She declined fiercely; she wasn’t about to become the damsel in distress who needed saving.

One foolish cadet didn’t want to take no for an answer. Watson, being quite powerful, had this future Guard pinned against the wall, immobile, in seconds. So, the class resorted to the tactics of ostracisation, which Watson was all too familiar with.

“Settle down,” commanded an entering voice.

A gruff, muscular man with a mane of greying black hair entered the room. He was a fully qualified guard, yet wore a black dogi, to associate himself with his students. His dark brown eyes flared with a deep loathing at the cadets; they were still, after all, Citizens. Watson wasn’t sure whether he’d look more intimidating with the Guard’s armor on or off.

He strutted powerfully towards the front of the class, and issued another order, “Release your pokémon.”

The opening of master balls sounded and a hundred houndour emerged, all looking fierce, ready to battle. One houndour in particular seemed more bloodthirsty than the rest. Watson’s houndour, Amicus, after witnessing the events of the previous night, seemed to have a newfound respect for his trainer; Watson had established himself as the alpha male between the two. Watson had always sought loyalty from pokémon, but he couldn’t help but wonder if his wish had been ill-received.

“And this, cadets, is what you’re aiming for,” gloated the instructor, releasing from his master ball a houndoom. It had a fierce hatred in its eyes that matched its master’s, with demonic horns protruding from its head; a symbol of power. It was significantly larger than the houndour, yet still possessed the intimidating black fur, vicious teeth, and a vaguely exoskeletal protrusions.

The ultimate predator.

The two hundred beings in the class gazed in wonder at this magnificent creature, knowing what the reward would be should they succeed. The fantasy of the houndour had passed; they were now mere puppies; weapons for the weak.

“Now, everyone get a partner and prepare to faint, and faint only. If you kill the opponent’s houndour, you’ll be sent to Mt. Ember for vandalism of Empire property,” sneered their teacher, revealing his yellow teeth.

Mt. Ember prison. The most feared place in the Hoenn region. Every criminal, regardless of the level of their crime, would be sent to this gargantuan complex. The conditions were terrible: the fierce climate, the most sadistic Guards in the region, and, most horribly of all, complete isolation from friends and family. Nobody was entirely sure what was there, but silent rumours of torture chambers had been passed around. The Guards made no effort to quash such speculation.

After all, it was they who started them, and not untruthfully.

Kayla moved with swift determination towards Watson, piercing those who would try to steal her prey with her furious eyes. Watson doused her fiery glare with his cold, blue eyes, taunting, “Come back for another one?”

“We’ll see who’s laughing when I humiliate you in front of everyone.”

More social threats. Watson was surprised: she was either very perceptive or incredibly oblivious. He had shown no signs of caring about his recent excommunication from the social hierarchy of the cadets, so why should humiliation harm him? On the other hand, maybe she had detected his secret, insecure need to be seen as powerful by others, to be feared?

“Ready your pokémon! On my mark! Three, two, one, fight!”

“Fortis, launch into his neck!”

Kayla’s order was the first in the class, but Watson was quick to respond.

“Amicus, fall to the side!”

Amicus couldn’t see what Watson was trying to do, but obeyed him unhesitatingly. Fortis, in its haste, missed the now falling houndour’s neck and tripped over its body, flipping halfway into the air and landing on its back.

“Amicus, leer!”

Amicus’s eyes became an angry red, locking Fortis in a trance. Fortis could now not hear the desperate, shrill screams of her master; she simply continued to lie on her back. She didn’t even hear the attacking order of the enemy trainer: before she knew it, she had been struck by the tough head of Amicus, and had been knocked even further across the room.

Kayla, in a cool shrillness, cried, “Fortis, rip into its leg!”

The female houndour attacked the male one’s closest leg, and pulled it across the floor, vigorously shaking its head. Under Watson’s orders, Amicus bit back, but the counterattack only served to release, not to cause any damage. The two houndour stood, furious and weak. Fortis was unspeakably tired and hurt from being thrown across the room, and Amicus had a wounded leg.

It was now a battle of endurance: if either went forward to attack, they would collapse in pain, so they stood weakly, panting, eyes locked in fierce contact. It was a magnificent sight: all other houndour in the room had now either one win or one loss. However, these two stood strong against those resting, determined to win.

Fortis faltered.

Amicus leaned forward in anticipation.

Fortis stubbornly regained its stance, growling to show that it was not defeated.

And finally, one fell, utterly defeated. It was obviously the second strongest houndour in the room, but with one loss, it would be considered to be in the bottom half in terms of strength. One of the weak ones. Two cries were released: one gleeful, the other disheartened.

As Watson rushed forward to collect his defeated soldier, he couldn’t help but smile at its courage and determination. Despite the loss, he was proud of his pokémon. He was undoubtedly disappointed in himself, yet this emotion was drowned by his pride.


******
Six o’clock.

Watson had suffered many taunts that day after his morning loss. This is, of course, despite the fact that Amicus and himself together had won every other battle throughout class that day, and the most prominent jeerers were those who he defeated. Either way, his loss to Kayla now left him, in the eyes of others, weak.

He pondered about how he thought about it. He’d always assume he’d be angry at the pokémon should he lose: after all, it’s the pokémon doing the battling, not him. Yet, this did not match his true emotions. He instead felt immensely disappointed in himself, for not reacting quick enough, not predicting his opponent’s next move, not maximizing Amicus’s potential.

He only felt pride and gratitude for the fearless houndour that had unquestionably obeyed his orders for his master’s ends.

Watson lay on his bed with his houndour on his chest, trying to understand his various repetitions of its own name. It was not as he expected: when he tried to learn patterns in their speech, he was unsuccessful. There seemed to be no grammar to their language, at least by his standards. It was when Watson stopped trying to decipher the language, and just listened aimlessly, that he understood.

He chatted with Amicus about battle strategy, sometimes not understanding huge blocks of what his pokémon said, but he didn’t care; at least they were communicating.

“When a pokémon charges at you, drop low and attack their leg.”

“<With my teeth or claws? Teeth give me the advantage of strength and grip, but … more maneuvering capabilities.>”

“Which do you find easier?”

“<Claws, usually. I often find it hard to retain a grip. However, you need to be my eyes when I’m doing this, and…>”

And so they jabbered, Amicus understanding Watson’s speech fluently, while Watson only having a fragmented knowledge of what his houndour was saying. And Watson, for the first time in years, was finding himself to be experiencing a foreign emotion. An emotion that was so odd, yet seemed so obvious and natural.

Happiness.

******
Midnight.

A lone palace stood strong against the isolated forest, darkened by the night. It was a fortress, surrounded by Guards and all kinds of vicious, bloodthirsty pokémon circling the black, towering, titanium fence. In day, it was just as gloomy as it was at night: a violent violet, dark and deadly. As one would expect, its fortress exterior has a lavish interior, the most lavish in the entire Empire. For this palace housed a Hood, the most powerful and terrible of all.

The Emperor of Hoenn.

This particular Hood had recently been called into a large room. Its walls were a beautiful crystal blue, and its floor was emerald green. Its only spoiling factor was that it had no windows. No room in the residence of any Hood did.

Two Guards stood, holding a wounded middle-age man between them, each unkindly clutching an arm. He had scraggly, greying brunette hair, and a suit that may once have been nice. Not now, though: it was now covered in dirt and torn in various places. His head sagged down, as he did not want to look into the empty void of that hood. Not again.

The Emperor telepathically induced the emotion of job satisfaction in the Guards’ heads. A signal for them to leave.

What he had to say was far too important for them to hear.

The Hood tilted his head to look down at this pathetic figure. This man once had a bright future; a successful career awaiting. Unfortunately for him, he threw it away. He tossed this happy, successful life off a cliff to fulfill one thing. His principles.

Such a pathetic concept.

The pathetic man involuntarily lifted his head – try as he might, he could not resist telekinesis this powerful. His hazel eyes looked into the dark void, fearful, once again. The Emperor began to communicate telepathically.

“[You’ve caused me a lot of trouble. Your society has been looking for you.]”

The victim enragedly protested, “Society hasn't been looking for me! You have! You and your lackies! How dare you equate the Empire with society? This isn't a society! It's a mass of terrified people living under a shroud of secrecy and oppression, a pain that you inflicted upon them!”

“[Was it me, or was it you?]”

“How was I to know that this would happen!?”

“[You placed those master balls on the black market, Mr. Eckleberry. Surely you expected malicious use?]”

“Not like this. I thought maybe you worked for Team Aqua or Magma, at worst,” whispered Eckleberry. He was desperate, even in the face of such a powerful adversary, to maintain his innocence.

A surge of pain was telepathically induced by the Emperor through the former Deputy Head Ball Developer of Devon. A punishment for his naïveity.

Eckleberry rolled on the ground for a few seconds, attempting to regain his sense of existence. Eventually, he spluttered, “Why don’t you just kill me?”

“[I have no intention of doing that. But, I did call you here for a reason. I take it you don’t recognise the Empire as having the right to rule?]”

Was this some kind of trap, so this villain would have an excuse to psychically induce more pain in him? He chose not to answer.

The Emperor coupled his telepathic message with a sense of mockery. “[If you refuse to answer, I’ll answer for you: you don’t. You still think the Republic should govern, correct? Well, I recall a Republican law stating that, as a consumer, I have the right not to receive faulty goods.]”

What was the Emperor talking about?

“[And yet, I’m unhappy with these master balls.]”

“What?”

“[They’re good, but not perfect. I require a much more powerful product.]”

“The master ball is the most powerful thing possible! There is nothing with it you can’t catch," said Eckleberry with a tone of finality.

“[Lies.]”

The poor man, who was still groveling on the ground, received a further jolt of pain. It was truly agonising, as if his entire body had simply became a wound, a giant reservoir for all the physical pain in the world.

“[There are a set of pokémon that it can’t catch. The Fabled Ones. The Legendary Pokémon.]”

It suddenly dawned on Bjorn Eckleberry what this man was trying to say. He was horrified: legendary pokémon could quash the rebellion once and for all. He was, of course, far too craven to join the rebellion, but he was a strong sideline supporter of it.

“[Yes, the rebellion will be quashed,]” the Emperor started, examining Bjorn’s thoughts. “[However, it will allow me to do something much more.]”

Bjorn's eyes widened fearfully, and he managed to whimper out a single word: “What?”

“[I shan’t reveal anything more than I have to.]”

The destruction of the rebellion would be a useful side effect of gaining the Legendary Pokémon, but that wasn’t all. He had a far more diabolical plan in his mind, which only the upper echelon of Hoods knew about.

The Hoenn Empire was planning to expand its borders.

“[As I said before, Mr. Eckleberry, I have no intention of killing you. I need you to create for me a master ball that has the capability to capture the Legendary Pokémon. Regardless of whether you comply, you will be sent to prison. The variable, of course, is where.

“[If you help me, your prison will be a luxurious mansion with a sizable budget. You will live with the luxury of an average Hood, save the ability to exit the house. On the other hand, you can be sent to the underground sector of Mt. Ember prison. And I will personally tell the Guards there that I will find favour with those who show the most schadenfreude with you.]”

Mt. Ember prison was terrible. Everyone knew this. But the underground sector was reserved for the most loathed enemies of the Empire. One of the few things the Empire did in public was show imprisonment. And they made extra care to make imprisonment in the underground sector big news.

The situation was ironically similar to that of twenty years ago. He could live a life of luxury and betray his conscience, or live a life of hardship but keep his conscience clear. He stared desperately into the darkness of the Emperor’s hood, contemplating his past and future. The latter was riding on this one ultimatum that the most powerful man in Hoenn had provided.

Blackmail.

Last edited by Acrutheo; May 19th, 2008 at 07:48 PM.
  #32    
Old May 15th, 2008, 03:45 PM
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Chapter 2!! I gotta read this......

Okay done. - I thought chapter 2 was written very well with a couple of problems. there is no description to the dialogue, which doesn't paint the smoothest picture in a reader's head. Add some description to the dialogue:

EX. ["Look who's acting so tough!" the toughest looking Gaurd with a jagged scar across his right brow sneered.]

Also the sentence
Quote:
“This isn’t society! This is you, forcing people to live in fear!”
is a bit ambiguous. I'm not sure what Bjorn is trying to say right there, but I think "society" should be capitalized. Either that, or make the message a little clearer.

Other than those problems, I really liked it. the characters and plot line are well developed and keep me wanting more. I'll be waiting for more chapters! ~ :)
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  #33    
Old May 16th, 2008, 02:28 AM
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OK, the forum didn't properly post my last message, so let's try again.

I've reduced the ambiguity of the statement and made it more significant to the story. Bjorn believes he's about to die (as shown by the "why don't you just kill me" statement), and so at this point is totally honest about his opinion of the Empire, as someone who's been hiding from the Empire; not under their control. Is this representative of the general populace's opinions? You decide. :P

I've also added some outside comments to the dialogue to show some emotion, also as you suggested. Thanks for the review, Mewtwo42. ^^
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  #34    
Old May 17th, 2008, 07:44 PM
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This is great. Wonderful. Brilliant. Will he or won't he? Hmm. I'm not sure whether I want him to try and improve the Master ball or not.

Let's see... right now, I'm not in the mood to try and pick out small mistakes, and so I shall just call the post fantastic and leave it at that. Trust me, it is.

Please, please, please keep posting! I have had too many instances on another site where the author only posts one or two parts and leaves it at that. It's excruciating, I'll have you know.
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  #35    
Old May 18th, 2008, 05:42 PM
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Thanks for the compliment, Sweet_Dreams. ^_^ I assume your plea for me not to stop writing was preemptive: I have absolutely no intention of ending this prematurely, and I hope I haven't been giving off signals to suggest such a thing.

That being said, updates will be a little slow because I have mid-year exams this week.
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Hoenn is no longer as you know it. The shadow of tyranny grips the land, and pokémon trainers despair across the region.
  #36    
Old May 19th, 2008, 07:14 PM
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I think this may be the best fanfic I've read yet, everything's just done perfectly! I think what I admire most is how you weren't afraid to make a flawed and complex protagonist. Anyone can write about a typical hero who does nothing wrong, but it takes real talent to make a lead character who has these kinds of problems and still is likable. Also, you show hints of a really strong plot behind the characters, I can't wait to see how it gets fleshed out! Another thing I liked was the extensive vocabulary, the usage of Schadenfreude sent a chill up my spine.

I'm not sure if this was intentional, but "Walter Whittaker" is a nice homage to The Russians are Coming!

One thing that I would change (I wouldn't comment without at least a bit of advice) is the phrase "ill-gotten" in "but he couldn’t help but wonder if his wish had been ill-gotten."

I may just be being nit-picky, but it sounds awkward to me. I think "ill-received" might be the phrase you were thinking of.

Everything else, however, is gold! You're really breaking the norm, here; keep it up!
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Kanto: The Disputed Frontier - 14 chapters, indefinite hiatus. Gary Stu's Unpredictable Adventure - 8 chapters, completed. Digimon Campaign - 7 chapters, ongoing

One-shots:
There's Always Tomorrow (SWC 2009), A Matter of Stubbornness (SWC 2010), Left by the Roadside
(SWC 2011 1st place),
Giovanni Destroys the World and Everything in It (2012), By What Right? (SWC 2013 1st place), Back in the Day (SWC 2014 1st place) (New!)


Family (kind of?): Strange person who calls me strange names

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  #37    
Old May 19th, 2008, 07:47 PM
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Wow - that means a lot to me, icomeanon6 (I made sure I got it right this time XD;). That homage was definitely unintentional, but hey, if it works, it's great. :D

As for Watson, I'm glad you said that, as it means I must be doing well to give Watson the effect I wanted. You should hopefully notice a similar idea with the antagonists when I decide to develop them, as well (as in, not just simple destroy all good guys while having no emotion villains).

On reflection, I think you're correct, "ill-received" does work better. I'll change it.
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  #38    
Old May 22nd, 2008, 12:24 AM
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A big thanks to bobandbill for BETAing this chapter. ^_^

---

Chapter Three: Prey
Two weeks.

Two long weeks of training: grueling battle after grueling battle, with a touch of theory. The theory classes consisted of a myriad of useful topics, including but certainly not limited to: why Citizens are inferior, the numerous good deeds and humanitarian efforts of the Empire, and what best to say when giving thanks to the Hoods before eating a meal.

Standard stuff really.

Today, there would be no classes. Instead, the cadets had an exam. According to their long-range attack instructor, it “will expose the grimer: those of you pathetic enough to have just oozed past the Guard interview will be exposed as the weaklings you are.”

Over the two weeks, a far more definite hierarchy among the cadets had been established, centered around the two most proficient students in the class. The cadets were clearly divided in support: how one side would jeer when the leader of the opposing pack would lose.

The leaders were, unsurprisingly, Watson and Kayla.

They handled their positions differently. Watson had an air of anger and strength constantly hanging around him, and even his most loyal supporters kept their distance. He pretended to not care about his position, but secretly, he was pleased. They feared him. To Watson, fear was respect: he’d make the perfect Hood. But, for some reason unbeknownst to him, he didn’t feel this principle should extend to pokémon. A philosophy that many in the Hoenn Empire would consider insane.

Kayla, on the other hand, took every opportunity to closely surround herself with friends. She enjoyed amazing them with her extensive knowledge of pokémon and taking every opportunity to humiliate her rival. Kayla was an interesting person: she was incredibly intelligent, and, out of school, could have easily applied for a reasonably high-ranking Suit. But instead, she wanted to prove to everyone that she was more than just an intellectual.

She was a warrior.

And now, for the first time since they’d been here, the future Guards were being called outside. Cold, damp, caliginous: dark clouds smothered the sky, threatening to fall upon this sandy flatland. If depression had a house, it would be built somewhere here in this desert.

As Watson confidently strode out of the building, he laid his eyes upon a sight that evoked genuine sympathy within him. Cold, dark grey cages were stacked upon each other, containing many different kinds of pokémon. All looked as if their best friend had died. Or, as Watson guessed, and quite accurately, they had been violently taken from their families. Each pokémon had a small, black ring around one of their appendages.

A symbol of slavery.

More filed out, including Kayla and her friends. None expressed sympathy; only excitement. Kayla, surrounded by about five people, sauntered up to the lone Watson.

“Quite barbaric, locking them in cages, isn’t it?”

Watson looked at her oddly. She didn’t seem to care about pokémon before – what was she trying to say?

“It’s a bit like punching someone when they’re turning to walk away,” Kayla sneered. Her bruise had healed, but she certainly hadn’t forgotten the incident. “But you didn’t find that barbaric, did you? And yet, you looked so horrified when you saw these in cages!”

Damn, she was good. Was there anything she didn’t notice? And once again, she had demonstrated that she still had a callousness towards pokémon that Watson so loathed.

“This wouldn’t be the first time you’ve noted something incorrectly,” smiled Watson arrogantly. “I recall from our last battle: Fortis, move to the left! Wait no, the right! Bravo.”

Kayla returned his smile with a feigned kindness and spoke pompously, “If you possess the unfortunate disposition whereby you are unable to fully comprehend the human capacity to verbally utter misnomers at irregular intervals that do not completely, fully, and thoroughly epitomise that person’s complete ability, and, furthermore, that capacity’s tendency to enact itself when it is in a state of undesirability, especially when time is scarce in general and not economic terms, whereby the length of judgment must be sizably decreased, then you, good sir, are a complete and utter idiot.”

Nobody listening could understand the point that she was trying to convey, except of course for the last part, which was purposefully succinct. Kayla, staring at Watson’s dumbstruck face, added with an air of satisfaction, “I rest my case.”

Watson was silently furious: he was made to look like a fool. Who would fear him now?

Their battle instructor strode past the huddle of a hundred students, his mane of hair swishing powerfully in the breeze that his walk created. He was, as Kayla liked to note, the instructor when she won her first battle against Watson.

He started talking in his usual gruff voice, “Behind me, eighty pokémon sit in cages. However, there are one hundred and three of you. Your challenge today is to catch a pokémon. The twenty-three of you that fail to do so will be sent on the train back home.”

At this statement, there were anxious mutters around the crowd. The metaphorical grimer were restless.

The instructor angrily yelled, “Silence! There is something else you must know. This morning, you were each given a special kind of master ball, called a pokéball. This is what you must catch your pokémon in. It will only capture a weakened pokémon, so you must use the attacking skills you’ve learnt to hunt down these pokémon.”

One student, who had been noted for asking a lot of questions (hence his multiple bruises), raised his hand. “Sir, somebody told me that pokéballs were used in the Pre-Empire period.”

The instructor grimaced menacingly at this student: how many times must he be struck until he understands that questions are not tolerated? Nevertheless, it was his responsibility of the instructor to correct this foolish cadet’s mistake.

“Whoever told you that was either a liar or insurmountably stupid. The Pre-Empire period, as you should have learned in school, was a time where pokémon were savage and untamed. They would openly attack humans without provocation and many would fall dead at their hands. Humans had no tools to tame these wild monsters.

“That, of course, was where His Imperial Majesty comes into it. He invented the master ball so we could defend ourselves against pokémon. The pokéball is merely a type of this with decreased power so we can test your training ability.”

The two star pupils both knew this story, and had their suspicions about its veracity, which they daren’t voice. Watson could not accept that pokémon openly attacked humans without provocation. He knew this was completely illogical, but he felt a loyalty to pokémon that ran strong within his veins.

Kayla, on the other hand, took a slightly more logical approach. She had deduced, unlike most of the population, that there was a world outside of the Empire. She found it hard to believe that her kind Emperor would leave the outside world to suffer at the hands of vicious beasts. There must be a civilisation out there somewhere that has already discovered some coping mechanism.

It was probably evil, of course – why else would the Guards deny access to it? But that was besides the point: if others had a coping mechanism, so should have Hoenn in the Pre-Empire period. It was only twenty years ago. Society must have existed: several metropolises spanning an entire Empire couldn’t have been built in just twenty years.

There must have been civilisation before the Empire.

These questioning thoughts were rare among Hoenn. People had been disallowed from having pokémon for so long that these creatures were now feared immensely: "demons" and "fiends", they were often described. The Hoods, despite their constant use of pokémon as tools of fear against the Citizens, were seen as saviours: the people who brought civilisation to the savage Pre-Empire period. It was widely recognised in other regions to be the equivalent of a cult.

“Hold still, cadets, and choose your prey.”

Watson scanned the pokémon, and laid eyes on one that brought back familiar memories, and caused the scar on his thigh to tingle with unwelcome nostalgia.

Scyther.

It was a sizable, light green insect with ferocious blades, which were being held up defensively in fear behind the cold, metal bars. Its pale wings were curved uncomfortably to fit inside the small cage: a pathetic sight.

Watson smirked unkindly, but then withdrew this facial expression immediately. He’d smiled at one scyther’s misery because another had caused him pain. Was that how he truly felt? A tinge of shame danced on the edge of his mind.

His musing was abruptly interrupted as the top layer of cages noisily and electronically unfolded: most of their former inhabitants shot off in all directions. And off went Watson’s future scyther. Or so Watson hoped.

Their battle instructor then pushed the black remote in his hand that he must have pulled out earlier again. The second layer of cages unfolded, and once again, pokémon fled from their prisons. One dazed teddiursa fled in the wrong direction: toward the students.

Laughing, one of the instructors on the side pointed what looked like a flashlight at the small, ochre bear’s leg tag. It let out a surreal howl of pain and galloped in the opposite direction. Watson was horrified, but many cadets joined in with the teacher’s cruel laugh.

The instructor joked jovially, “That’ll be an easy one to catch now.”

Watson was now visibly angry. His lips tightened and his fists clenched. He had to exercise all his energy in restraining himself from attacking this cruel man, this teacher of lies.

With a click of a button, the pokémon in the bottom layer of cages were released, and allowed a chance at escaping from their future captors.

“Three,” the battle instructor started, and casual looks of anticipation were exchanged. “Two,” he continued: a thick tension was evident among the students. “One,” he finished, watching students with their pokéballs gripped tightly in their hands, leaning forward excitedly. “Go!”

About a hundred desperate cadets competitively leapt in all directions, all at top speed, all with a greedy determination on their respective faces. Few cared which pokémon they caught – as long as they caught one, they’d feel accomplished. Watson was far more picky and held himself to a much higher standard. He wanted his pokémon to be able to shatter the competition. And above all, he desired more than anything else, to conquer that which had once conquered him.

He wanted the scyther.

There was a trailing stalker though, someone who moved with surprising ability for someone of such short stature. Kayla. She was taking every chance now to prove that she was better than Watson. And catching his pokémon was exactly the kind of victory she had in mind.

After running for about two minutes, he spotted the thing, lying helplessly in the sand. It certainly didn’t belong in a desert. Kayla was about half a minute behind; he needed to take this opportunity.

Watson anticipatively shouted as he released his houndour, “Amicus, ember!”

Amicus opened its mouth to release a short burst of orange flame. Scyther reacted quickly and attempted to take flight, but stumbled midair and fell to the ground again, skidding in the cool, grainy sand.

“Use smog, Amicus!”

Amicus opened its mouth once again to release an eerie purple gas, shapeless and deadly. The smoke moved with a feral speed to encapsulate the tired scyther, who screamed with the pain of poison. However, the scyther flew out and towards Amicus, brandishing its large, sickle-like claws. Amicus instinctively ducked, and at Watson’s command, released another mouthful of flames, which narrowly missed the anxious insect.

“Fortis, ember!”

Watson mentally cursed this scyther’s agility, despite its sickness. All this dodging had stalled long enough for Kayla to show up. Her houndour released a breath of orange flame, which scyther clumsily dodged, and fell painfully on its back to the cool sand below. Its left wing was injured, now.

Kayla smiled at this weakened creature, and ordered her houndour to strike it with flames. Watson wasn’t going to let her win this time. Not again.

Amicus sensed his companion’s determination and launched at Fortis with its claws. Fortis’s master cried out in anger as the flames went in a distant direction, far from her prey. In desperation, she assumed that the tiredness of the scyther coupled with its earlier fall would make it weak enough to be unable to break free from her pokéball.

And how wrong she was.

The pokéball flung itself in a distant direction across the expanse of sand from the sheer force of the breakout of scyther. Republican balls broke after a pokémon broke free, yet the Empire had modified pokéballs slightly to become reusable, simply for Guard examinations like this one. There was to be no waste of Empire resources.

Watson admired this insect – despite all scars, he would still not submit to being somebody’s slave. It was as if this scyther knew how badly people treated pokémon, and Watson looked forward to showing this insect some kindness once he’d been caught.

Fortis and Kayla were now scanning the distance for their pokéball, and Watson’s opportunity was now. The scyther was cringing from the pain of its poison, barely mobile, curled up weakly in a ball on the grey sand.

“Amicus, ember!”

His houndour released a bright orange breath of fire, causing the scyther, thankfully, to fall unconscious. He threw the red and white ball at his new pokémon, dematerialising it into a stream of red light, and encapsulating it inside the small place. There was no struggle.

This was certainly the most rewarding exam that Watson had ever succeeded in.

******

It was beautiful: the walls were decorated a lavish scarlet and gold, the bed was especially made for his body type, and a rich, thick, golden carpet supported his feet. Above his large mirror was the symbol of his work: a mighty zangoose towering over a crippled seviper. And in this room, on an expensive mahogany chair, sat an incredibly rich man.

He personally possessed a fifth of the wealth in all of Hoenn. His region feared him. Other regions feared him. He owned the most powerful team of pokémon in the world. Only two of his enemies were unaccounted for.

And yet, the Emperor of Hoenn was unhappy.

He looked at himself in his platinum-framed mirror: a grown man in a Hallowe’en costume. Is this what he’d been reduced to? All he had to do was put a hood over his golden-blond hair, gray eyes and soft facial features, and others would cower in fear and respect.

Or, he thought, simply fear.

He should have been happy. And many times he was; he has to be, or those around him suffer. But when he was alone and with no servants to mindlessly punish, the Emperor was mildly sad. Not angry. Not furious.

Just sad.

He was prone to terrible mood swings: he remembered how happy he’d felt when he’d been contacted that they had captured Bjorn Eckleberry, who was now reluctantly but dutifully constructing for him the ultimate weapon. But he also remember how angry he felt, back in the days of the uprising, when they finally stormed the President’s Office in Mauville, only to find that Walter Whittaker had fled.

And this enemy was still unaccounted for.

He never used to be like this. Before the days of the uprising, he was a cheerful, charismatic extrovert. Until that night. That one night when everything changed. Whittaker destroyed him. In turn, he destroyed Whittaker. And now, the former Emperor of Popularity was now the Emperor of Hoenn.

And yet, Whittaker’s destruction still remained. The Emperor believed vengeance would make him happy again. Satisfaction had been converted from a way of life to a firework: a powerful explosion followed by an abrupt death.

The most powerful man in Hoenn was not above everything else, despite his constant attempts at self-deceit. He was still one thing, just like everybody else.

Prey.

Last edited by Acrutheo; May 23rd, 2008 at 03:37 PM.
  #39    
Old May 22nd, 2008, 07:47 AM
4chan
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Great story! Will you ever make another story like this?
  #40    
Old May 22nd, 2008, 12:26 PM
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EricDaRed
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Fantasic. Good work. I have read published works of fiction that were less entertaining than your fanfiction. I really enjoyed the 103 trainers to catch and 80 pokemon scene. Personally, I wish it had been longer and included a few references to the other cadets and the pokemon they were chasing, but, then again, I am just being selfish because I want to read more!

Allow me to add my 2 cents...

Quote:
a mighty sangoose towering over a crippled seviper.
Slight spelling error. I believe you intended to write 'zangoose'.

Quote:
“Whoever told you that was either a liar or insurmountably stupid. The Pre-Empire period, as you should have learned in school, was a time where pokémon were savage and untamed. They would openly attack humans without provocation and many would fall dead at their hands. Humans had no tools to tame these wild monsters.
I accepted this while I was reading, but it did disrupt my willful suspension of disbelief a bit.

I got to thinking, if Hoenn is so isolated that this is blindly believed, does this mean that there are no trade relations between Hoenn and Kanto/Johto? Are Hoenn's borders now closed to prevent tourists from contaminating Hoenn society? If so, have the Hoods/Guards created a powerful enough naval force to keep the borders secure?

What happened to the pokemon gyms and pokemon centers? Those buildings would point to the existence of pre-empire pokeballs and peacful co-existence with pokemon. Have public libraries been closed, since they too would contain information to contradict the empire's account of history?

Also, twenty years is not a very long time. Do all of the citizens 30 years old and up believe pokemon were savage before the empire? They obviously were around before the rise of the empire and should remember the truth. I find it hard to believe that none of them would have secretly taught their children (and thus some of the cadets), the truth about the empire.

Those are just my thoughts, but some further clarification may be needed. If you would welcome a suggestion: The Hoods seem to have telepathic powers, perhaps some sort of society-wide brainwashing took place to errode pre-empire memories in the populace.

Then again, maybe you wanted the reader to ask himself these kinds of questions. If that was your intent, you can just ignore me.

One last thing (sorry about the length of my review) from chapter 2:

Quote:
The situation was ironically similar to that of twenty years ago. He could live a life of luxury and betray his conscience, or live a life of hardship but keep his conscience clear. He stared desperately into the darkness of the Emperor’s hood, contemplating his past and future. The latter was riding on this one ultimatum that the most powerful man in Hoenn had provided.
This paragraph is talking about Mr. Eckleberry. Wasn't the success vs. conscience dilemma faced twenty years ago by William Whittaker, not Mr. Eckleberry?

Last edited by EricDaRed; May 22nd, 2008 at 12:36 PM.
  #41    
Old May 22nd, 2008, 02:45 PM
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Acrutheo, you never cease to amaze me. This is the best fic I've ever read. (I'm not exactly an avid fan fic reader, but this story is really good.) I only saw one error, it was in spelling. You spelled Zangoose wrong. You spelled it with an "S" instead of a "Z". But, that is pretty minor.

In the begining of the chapter, I like how you gave some background information explaining the first couple of weeks at the...um...Gaurd learning place....
But anyway, I have a suggestion: Try to describe the desert a little more. Reading this, one can almost forget that it takes place in a desert while reading this.

At the end of the chapter, I think it was a great idea to include that passage about the Emporer where you write his thoughts. It really makes you see a whole other side of things. I can't wait until the next chapter comes out!
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  #42    
Old May 22nd, 2008, 08:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4chan
Great story! Will you ever make another story like this?
In the distant future, possibly. Right now, I'm focusing on this one, and will probably not be finished for quite a while. Thanks for the compliment. :D

Quote:
Originally Posted by EricDaRed
Fantasic. Good work. I have read published works of fiction that were less entertaining than your fanfiction. I really enjoyed the 103 trainers to catch and 80 pokemon scene. Personally, I wish it had been longer and included a few references to the other cadets and the pokemon they were chasing, but, then again, I am just being selfish because I want to read more!
Thanks for the compliment. Since you've taken the time to bring it up, I'll justify why I only focused on these two. As I hinted by the fact that two weeks pass unaccounted for in a six-week course, this story will not primarily take place in the academy. Thus, the other cadets are used only as plot devices or atmosphere creators. Though, this might be something to look at if I ever do a rewrite.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EricDaRed
Slight spelling error. I believe you intended to write 'zangoose'.
My bad. :s

Quote:
Originally Posted by EricDaRed
I accepted this while I was reading, but it did disrupt my willful suspension of disbelief a bit.

I got to thinking, if Hoenn is so isolated that this is blindly believed, does this mean that there are no trade relations between Hoenn and Kanto/Johto? Are Hoenn's borders now closed to prevent tourists from contaminating Hoenn society? If so, have the Hoods/Guards created a powerful enough naval force to keep the borders secure?

What happened to the pokemon gyms and pokemon centers? Those buildings would point to the existence of pre-empire pokeballs and peacful co-existence with pokemon. Have public libraries been closed, since they too would contain information to contradict the empire's account of history?

Also, twenty years is not a very long time. Do all of the citizens 30 years old and up believe pokemon were savage before the empire? They obviously were around before the rise of the empire and should remember the truth. I find it hard to believe that none of them would have secretly taught their children (and thus some of the cadets), the truth about the empire.

Those are just my thoughts, but some further clarification may be needed. If you would welcome a suggestion: The Hoods seem to have telepathic powers, perhaps some sort of society-wide brainwashing took place to errode pre-empire memories in the populace.

Then again, maybe you wanted the reader to ask himself these kinds of questions. If that was your intent, you can just ignore me.
This was brought up in my BETA report as well, and I'll provide an explanation. Both the twenty years and the Empire's strength are incredibly important (the former will become evident later, and the latter is important to the story as a whole.) I refer you to this in Chapter One:

Before the Empire, and for a few years after its rise to power, Hoenn’s trainers professed incredible passion for pokémon. Passion turned to respect from a distance. Respect from a distance became mild caution. Mild caution mutated into fear. All because the grip of terror that the Empire had over the Citizens was so powerful, that they found themselves truly changing their beliefs.

Fear bred fear.


As I had shown here, the Empire's power is magnificent. You also have to remember that this is a world of pokemon and not of real life: the rulers here possess supernatural creatures of incredible power. This develops a cult-like aspect to the Empire, which is further enhanced by the fact that the Hoods shroud themselves in mystery.

On a final note to this, it was a revolution, not a slow Goebbels process that the Empire used to take over. They're not afraid to destroy remnants of the Republic. They want power as quickly as possible.

You are exactly the kind of reader that is suited to this fic, though. An excellent critical analysis, it was just that either you missed the importance of the above piece of text, or I failed to emphasise it enough.

Do you believe I should emphasise the importance of this more in Chapter Three? (Sorry if the question sounds accusatory; I'm genuinely interested in the opinions of my reviewers.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by EricDaRed
(sorry about the length of my review)
A quality review being long means that there's just more quality. Don't ever hesitate to write a long review; I like seeing how people view my fic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EricDaRed
This paragraph is talking about Mr. Eckleberry. Wasn't the success vs. conscience dilemma faced twenty years ago by William Whittaker, not Mr. Eckleberry?
They both did. Whittaker could've (1) Defied his morals and stayed President or (2) Keep to them and get booted out. Mr. Eckleberry, the Deputy Head Ball Developer could've (1) Defied his morals and stayed as the Deputy Head Ball Developer of Devon, eventually rising the corporate ladder or (2) Keep to his morals (ie. that his work, the master ball, should be released) and possibly lose his job for releasing something so dangerous on the black market.

And isn't it interesting what they both chose? [/possible hint]

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mewtwo42
Acrutheo, you never cease to amaze me. This is the best fic I've ever read.
I'm really glad this fic brings entertainment to such a large number of people. :D Thanks for the compliment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mewtwo42
In the begining of the chapter, I like how you gave some background information explaining the first couple of weeks at the...um...Gaurd learning place....
But anyway, I have a suggestion: Try to describe the desert a little more. Reading this, one can almost forget that it takes place in a desert while reading this.
I agree with you. I'll add some more references to the fact that he's in a desert.

Last edited by Acrutheo; May 22nd, 2008 at 09:22 PM.
  #43    
Old May 23rd, 2008, 05:03 AM
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Quote:
Do you believe I should emphasize the importance of this more in Chapter Three?
Yes, a little bit. In your explanation the whole thing sort of clicked for me when you used the word 'cult'. Nothing is rational about the way people act/think in a cult, and that (at least for me) well explains what is going on: A continent wide cult has been forged. People are so bludgeoned into conformity that they dare not say a word to contradict the government, even in private. Once a person repeats a lie enough times, they can actually begin to believe its true.

Quote:
They both did. Whittaker could've (1) Defied his morals and stayed President or (2) Keep to them and get booted out. Mr. Eckleberry, the Deputy Head Ball Developer could've (1) Defied his morals and stayed as the Deputy Head Ball Developer of Devon, eventually rising the corporate ladder or (2) Keep to his morals (ie. that his work, the master ball, should be released) and possibly lose his job for releasing something so dangerous on the black market.
Ah, very interesting. This was a nuance that I overlooked.

Quote:
Try to describe the desert a little more. Reading this, one can almost forget that it takes place in a desert while reading this.
I agree. I actually found myself picturing a forest at the beginning of the scene, then I suddenly realized they were in a dessert and it was a little jarring. I may just have been being a lazy reader, though, forgetting that the desert setting was established earlier.

Regardless, I greatly look forward to your next release.
  #44    
Old May 23rd, 2008, 02:11 PM
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For the second time in this story, I've added an explanatory paragraph in this story at my reviewers' request - so many good things have come out of my reviews. ^^ So, feel free to comment on the new paragraph:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Acrutheo
These questioning thoughts were rare among Hoenn. People had been disallowed from having pokémon for so long that these creatures were now feared immensely: "demons" and "fiends", they were often described.. The Hoods, despite their constant use of pokémon as tools of fear against the Citizens, were seen as saviours: the people who brought civilisation to the savage Pre-Empire period. It was widely recognised in other regions to be the equivalent of a cult.
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Hoenn is no longer as you know it. The shadow of tyranny grips the land, and pokémon trainers despair across the region.

Last edited by Acrutheo; May 23rd, 2008 at 03:37 PM.
  #45    
Old May 23rd, 2008, 03:05 PM
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Okay, I'm trying out this constructive criticism thing...

Quote:
People were disallowed from having pokémon for so long, that these creatures were now feared immensely: “demons” and “fiends”, as they were usually described.
To me, this sentence sounds a little awkward; much like a rush job. I have been known to be very wrong, but, to me, the sentence brewing up in my mind sounds better.

"People had been disallowed from having Pokemon for so long that these creatures were now feared immensely; "demons" and "fiends", they were often described"

I think that, perhaps, the "for so long" and "were now" makes a "were" in place of my "had been" sound... wrong. And I use semi-colons instead of colons wherever possible, for some odd reason. That's just me. And since the "as" doesn't really do anything and can be left out, leave it out.

When I look at other people's work, I can kinda see what would make the part more succinct without detracting much from it. This stops short at my own, though, so I may just be considered a hypocrite.


Okay, enough with the sentence... No, Acrutheo, you did not give out any hints of dropping the story. I just felt like pleading for it in advance, in case you do forget about it. Yep.

Well, the story's very absorbing so far, and the characters are not cliche... well, in my experience...
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  #46    
Old May 23rd, 2008, 03:36 PM
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If we were all afraid of being hypocrites in our reviews, then so many problems would go unfixed. XD; Don't sweat it.

How about People had been disallowed from having pokémon for so long that these creatures were now feared immensely: "demons" and "fiends", they were often described.?

I still think a colon works better. XD; Simply because it introduces a description. Thanks for the suggestion. ^^

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sweet_Dreams
Well, the story's very absorbing so far, and the characters are not cliche... well, in my experience...
Thanks for the compliment. ^_^
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Hoenn is no longer as you know it. The shadow of tyranny grips the land, and pokémon trainers despair across the region.
  #47    
Old May 27th, 2008, 12:56 AM
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A huge thanks to bobandbill for BETAing this chapter. ^^

------

Chapter Four: Defeat
“Amicus, Fire Spin!”

Watson’s houndour unleashed a magnificent, towering funnel of crimson flames upon the opposing sentret. Watson enjoyed the diversity in pokémon: he had to vary his strategy and think creatively. This made him stronger. And to his delight, made the others weaker – they had no idea how to do so.

Creativity wasn’t encouraged in the Empire.

His enemy student desperately ordered, “Sentret! Dodge!”

“Pursuit, Amicus!”

The flames dissolved in the air hungrily without Amicus’ support. The houndour’s eyes darkened considerably, and he charged towards the brown rodent at a rapid speed, viciously knocking the pathetic thing into the midst of another battle. Once again, they were in the battle room: blood red sponge mats, black marble walls, and a ferocious instructor.

“Excellent,” Watson congratulated.

The houndour barked its name jovially, wanting nothing more than to leap into Watson’s arms. But this wasn’t the time. Here, pokémon weren’t friends.

They were tools.

Watson’s smile contained an air of arrogant pride: once again, he’d won. Kayla still threatened his position as the top student, but much less fiercely now: over the past week, Ira, Watson’s new scyther, had proved itself to be incredibly powerful. However, Watson’s smile slowly turned into a stunned, silent gasp, as Amicus yelped in pain.

What could be wrong?

Wait – it wasn’t pain – it was surprise! Amicus was glowing a bright white: all the colours and features of the houndour faded into obscurity at the hands of this intoxicating colour. And then, this white, ethereal figure seemed to take a new shape. The slow metamorphosis eventually ceased, and the white light began to dissolve, as this new pokémon’s features became evident.

It looked deadly and powerful, larger and fiercer, faster and stronger: reasonably similar to its former self, but had skeletal horns that were demonically retroflexed. Its long head, powerful jaw and deadly sharp fangs were all indicative of its fierce predatory capabilities.

Houndoom.

******
Two weeks wisped away by the dark abyss that is time.

Seven more days until the cadets stepped into the world as qualified Guards, ready to protect Hoenn from evildoers. It was hard for Watson to believe that five weeks had passed since the train ride here. For five weeks, he’d had Amicus, a feisty but unwaveringly loyal houndour. And for three weeks, Ira, his scyther, was battling by his side now.

Ira, despite her power, was fearful of Watson to start with. She fought well, but out of fear rather than passion. She seemed to bear a deep distrust toward Watson and all cadets in the room. Gradually, she began to realise that despite the fact that she was a prisoner, her captor was not cruel. Her captor, it seemed, wanted to make friends with her.

What an odd intention.

Watson appeared to understand her though. He understood the cruelty of trainers, as he had witnessed much abuse by Guards and cadets alike upon their servants. In his lifetime, a few Guards had even set pokémon upon him. Furthermore, Watson himself was inclined to distrust other humans. It was as if Ira was the pokémon equivalent of himself.

Every cadet was now sweating with fear and strain. The final exam loomed ahead, and their instructors were taking a far more relaxed attitude. Before, the teachers at the academy would insult them and work them to the bone. The latter action had been removed entirely from their practice, as they, with a streak of sadism, watched almost all of the cadets squirm under the pressure of having to work without their masters breathing down their necks.

They’d been doing this over the past fortnight, and the only person who didn’t struggle was Watson. Kayla showed some signs of discomfort, but was still determined to not be left behind, not to be second. The instructors were weaning them off total dependence because it was the coming of age for the cadets. This was the time when they ceased to become Citizens. They were becoming superior.

They were becoming Guards.

******

The cold emptiness of the desert became apparent once again. Eighty cadets stood upon the achromatic sand that expanded unboundedly in all directions, with nothing but the dark academy fortress and train track to comfort them. Most cadets became uneasy in this barren wasteland, but not Watson. He found it to be quite poetic to the nature of life.

Lonely, cold, and his for the taking.

But at this part in the desert, there was no fortress nor traintrack to comfort them. They had been brought to a previously forbidden area of the desert, with something new, which looked quite sinister. It seemed to be some kind of obstacle course.

The final examination of his cadet training was here. Sixty students would continue on to become Guards. However, there was something new to this examination that the cadets had not faced before. Something terrifying.

A Hood.

Watson realised that using a Hood as the examiner would strike terror into the hearts of the cadets, a sharp contrast to the relative independence of learning that they’d had over the past two weeks. Confusion was an excellent tool for control. Many had not even seen a Hood before, let alone had one that is here for the sole purpose to pay attention to them.

It was a perfect scene: a desolate desert with eighty terrified teenagers standing in dull, demeaning, shapeless uniforms at the mercy of a man who stands as the Grim Reaper. And this agent of death was not excited at all. He was furious that he had to sit on a train for hours moving into a remote desert to watch a bunch of underdeveloped Citizens fiddle around with underdeveloped pokémon.

“Stand at attention, Citizens. How dare you slouch in my presence?”

The Hood’s voice was raspy and short-tempered, with a sense of arrogant entitlement: why should lowly Citizens show him anything but complete respect? He angrily spluttered the instructions, “Part one: here you prove that you’re not a bunch of pathetic slugma. Though, most of you look it.”

He approached an overweight student standing at the front of the class and jeered, “Well, you great steaming pile of disgusting lard. I guess you’ll fall off like a bug pokémon in the middle of round one.”

The student’s face didn’t even budge at this comment that would’ve earned this man a solid punch to the face in any other region. Abuse was commonplace from Guards to Citizens, so this cadet even felt a twinge of honour as this Hood even talked to him, despite the fact that it was an insult.

The Hood gestured to the obstacle course ahead. It was full of nets, ropes, holes, and odd machines that appeared to be elaborate weapons. It didn’t look friendly, nor like a healthy challenge.

It was a deathtrap.

“Row by row,” the Hood rasped, “you will enter the obstacle course without using pokéballs. Get to the side before the other cadets. Just so you know – people have died in this course before.”

He said that last sentence with a heavy gravity and a delightful malice. Watson imagined a smile curling up on his presumably ugly face beneath the shadows of his hood. He suspected that the Hood was lying, but didn’t feel the need to test this theory.

The order was given for the first row to proceed, and Watson leapt forward under the blood red rope net that introduced the course. Like the mats in the battling room, the colours were distributed irregularly, begging the question: were they always that colour?

He scrambled under this net, but it was harder than it looked. The net glistened with some kind of sticky substance which was not only causing skin to itch, but making escaping from the net a grueling task. The cadets writhed and squirmed, with the most determined emerging first.

Kayla slid out, sand and slime sticking to her body, deathly itchy. Watson emerged not soon after, coming in a close second for the next obstacle, leaving eight other cadets still pathetically lurching in the painful grip of the rope nets.

The new obstacle was an abseiling task, but not without a cruel twist. Instead of a rope to support them, it was a chain. It hung there, dark and menacing against the tawny brick wall. Watson quickly destroyed any advantage Kayla had from her head start; his tall and muscular arms pulled him up at a rapidity that his rival could not match.

As he reached the top, Kayla was significantly behind, and he prepared to jump into his next obstacle. A great pool filled with a chartreuse yellow liquid. Watson was initially distrustful of the contents of this great hole, but quickly realized that such scepticism would only slow him down.

Searing pain met him at the moment of the splash.

Watson felt his body burning, the irritating slime from the net dancing away from him. It seemed that there was some kind of reaction between the two substances that ultimately resulted in a torturous burning. Bastards, Watson thought to himself, as he swam through the deep pool.

As he emerged at the other side after about half a minute of swimming, he heard the scream of Kayla emitted through the desert. Was that a tinge of sympathy he felt as he heard that high-pitched cry of pain and distress?

No, the heat must just be playing tricks on him.

But wait – this desert wasn’t hot – it was cool and miserable! He turned apprehensively, almost as if time had slowed down, to lay his azure eyes upon the next terrifying obstacle. An angry charmeleon.

It was a deep vermilion cretin of fire, its anger evident in its eyes. Beige bellied and possessing a menacing tail tipped with a passionate flame, it looked at Watson with a need to burn. It was tied by a black choke chain to a post, and Watson had just stepped inside its allowed territory of attack.

Watson cursed loudly and bolted as fast as he could to safety, every inch of his body pumping with the scream of adrenaline. Angry fires of warm colours emerged from the pokémon’s mouth: not enough to bring Watson to his grave, but enough to put tears in his eyes.

No amount of training could have prepared him for this beast.

Watson, keeping as low as he could, was still running and now in the charmeleon’s locus of movement. The lizard launched at the boy, but Watson dived to avoid it, warm sand greeting him harshly. He scrambled to run, but tripped pathetically and his chin met the ground once again.

With a wild determination in its eyes, the charmeleon latched itself onto Watson’s back, grappling violently. This feral cretin raised its claw to strike with a ferocity as if the lizard had some personal grudge against Watson.

The cadet furiously dodged, feeling a true fear, his adrenaline giving him the strength to kick this powerful pokémon off him. The charmeleon met the sand, and Watson rapidly sprinted in the direction of the finish line, scared for his life.

Angry crimson flames furiously warmed Watson’s side: if they were five centimeters closer it would be all over. His already fast run increased – a blue line approached his feet – just a bit more – yes! He’d emerged at the other side without serious injury, to where the charmeleon was evidently barred from sending flames.

A fully armored Guard stood at the end. There was no congratulations. No “well done, mate.” Just a quick check for burns that the last obstacle may have inflicted upon him, and instructions about where to go next.

Watson was out of breath, had escaped severe injury, if not death, and in typical fashion of the Empire there was no morale boost.
He was still a Citizen. He was still inferior. He still didn’t deserve congratulation of any kind, no matter what the feat.

A surge of anger at this system quivered through Watson’s exhausted body – he deserved to be congratulated. He had done well. Better than anyone in the first row, and probably better than anyone in the class, and yet this impertinent Guard refused to recognise it.

Despite all his efforts, it was ultimately a bathos.

******
“Attention, cadets.”

After two hours, the raspy voice of the examining Hood had returned. Watson and the other cadets were simply relaxing in the cool sand. Four had been slow enough to have been severely injured by the charmeleon. One had had a violent allergic reaction to the liquid that filled the pool. Every cadet was sullen, their former liveliness stripped of them. Not one had escaped the course without injury – blisters were the most common, but bruises and large cuts were not hard to find on these teenagers.

Was this the life they had chosen? They thought it would be easy, being superior to Citizens. No wonder the Guards always mistreated the commoners if this is what they had to endure! Watson was silently pleased with the difficulty, however.

The competition was weakened.

Seventy-five cadets quickly rose at the sight of the Hood, ready to prove themselves worthy to become Guards. The Hood called ten names and ordered them to stand in front of the other cadets. They seemed to be the ones possessing the worst injuries.

“Apart from those pathetic enough to be physically unable to complete the next challenge, the ten cadets that stand before me did the worst in the class. Pathetic scum that do not deserve to be given the honourable rank of Guard!”

This taunt was met with a sullen silence, except from the two top students. Watson made a vague, malicious smile: a signal of superiority, one that said “I’m better than you.” However, Kayla’s action seemed to disturb Watson a little bit.

She was nodding in agreement – as if what the Hood said had merit.

“However,” continued the perpetually angry Hood, “I am only permitted to deny ten of you the pleasure of the next round. Because five have already been sent home to live as Citizens, that means five of you that stand facing your fellow cadets will face the humiliation of being sent home.”

The Guard proceeded in a cruel slowness, listing five names. As each cadet had their name read out, visible despair manifested itself upon their facial features. It had all been for nothing. “Andrew Li… Xavier David… Nicholas Thorburn… Caleb Smith… Soterios Diotrephes.”

At the sound of the last name being read, five students rejoiced, thanking the sky that the Hood had not said their name. But the Hood was not finished.

“… Will be allowed to continue to the next stage of examination,” he said in a dark tone, savouring the switch from relief to despair.

The epitome of cruelty.

******

The second stage of the examinations was underway, and was unsurprisingly to do with battling pokémon. Each cadet had to participate in five battles, with rests in between. And battle number five loomed ahead, as Kayla and Watson were matched up for battle.

There was none of the usual pre-battle taunting. Most cadets professed an aching desire to collapse dead at this point. Watson didn’t express such extreme weakness, but a fifth battle was not something he had great enthusiasm for, even if it was against his greatest competitor.

“Go, Amicus!”

“Aliquant, destroy him!”

Aliquant was a makuhita: short, but round and heavy. It was primarily yellow, but had black hands in the shape of boxing gloves, and some loose skin on top of its head appeared to be tied in a bow.

Aliquant leapt into the air, hoping to land successfully upon his target, but Amicus moved to the left upon Watson’s command, and the makuhita’s chin painfully met the sand below.

“Amicus, smog,” set Watson calmly. He had a plan.

The houndoom released from its mouth a stream of purple smoke which makuhita could not easily avoid: it was still on the ground. Aliquant choked in the rushing stream of smoke that was being unrelentingly released from Amicus’ mouth, until it eventually managed to rise and make a pathetic attack attempt.

Amicus fell to the side and used its legs to push Aliquant up into the air, and not without difficulty: Aliquant was over double the weight of Amicus. The attempt resulted in the simple pushing of the makuhita a slight distance forward. Aliquant was still choking. Its forehead was going purple.

Sure signs of pokémon poison.

And yet, this seemed to give the makuhita a powerful determination – the poison seemed to increase his strength – the pokémon’s facial features narrowed in strength. Watson knew what this meant. Makuhita come in two varieties: those that get stronger through receiving an injury (called the Guts variety), and those with an especially protective fat to cushion them from fire and ice attacks (called the Thick Fat variety).

And it seemed that this wasn’t the latter. Unfortunately, in doing this experiment, Watson had created a huge risk: the increased power of the makuhita.

“Aliquant, SmellingSalt!”

Marveling at his cleverness of his plan, Watson forgot the risk that the Guts variety posed under injury, and Makuhita assaulted his Houndoom with a terrible force. One more hit like that and Amicus would be down. But with the poison starting to take its toll on Aliquant, Watson knew that his opponent could not claim any significant strength over him.

One fire attack should do it.

“Amicus, flamethrower!”

“Aliquant, arm thrust!”

The houndoom released a stream of bright orange from its mouth with the utmost determination. But the makuhita managed to roll out of the way, and rise to fulfill his trainer’s command. Aliquant, with surprising speed, lifted itself off the ground, ready to strike Amicus.

“Flamethrower!”

Was it too late? The flames licked Aliquant’s glove-like hands, but he kept going, and released his attack on the weakened houndoom, who was pushed powerfully into the grey sand. Aliquant looked upon his victim with a look of victory.

The poison was now too much to bear, the pain rising in every one of the poor makuhita’s muscles. Rolling his eyelids back, he fell on his face. This game was a tie.

Tears of frustration swelled up in Kayla’s eyes. She was so powerful, and so intelligent, and yet when it counted, she couldn’t defeat Watson. Sure – she’d passed the examination, but why could she not win? Despite the fact that the match was a tie, for both cadets, they felt nothing but inner frustration.

Defeat.
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Hoenn is no longer as you know it. The shadow of tyranny grips the land, and pokémon trainers despair across the region.

Last edited by Acrutheo; June 1st, 2008 at 08:17 PM.
  #48    
Old May 28th, 2008, 01:04 PM
EricDaRed's Avatar
EricDaRed
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Nice chapter. I enjoyed it immensely. The Charmeleon plot twist was sweet.

One problem:

Quote:
but he kept going, and released his attack on the weakened houndour
Amicus is a houndoom now.

Quote:
marveling at his cleverness of his plan forgot the risk
Marveling at the cleverness of his plan... would be better.

Quote:
However, there was something new to this examination that was not present in the old one. Something terrifying.

A Hood.
Very nice line. After all these cadets have been through at the hands of their ruthless instructors, they are still struck with fear at the sight of a Hood. As a reader, I still know very little about the Hoods, and that actually makes them scarier.

I would suggest, though, that you change that was not present in the old one because you're not actually referring to any particular exam here, so it s a little confusing. Perhaps you could say there was something new to this examination that the cadets had never faced before...

Last edited by EricDaRed; May 29th, 2008 at 05:39 AM.
  #49    
Old May 29th, 2008, 08:23 PM
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Acrutheo
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Once again, thank you for your comments. n_n I really appreciate them. ^^

All the errors are fixed and your suggestions have been enacted.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EricDaRed
Very nice line. After all these cadets have been through at the hands of their ruthless instructors, they are still struck with fear at the sight of a Hood. As a reader, I still know very little about the Hoods, and that actually makes them scarier.
Then that part had exactly the effect I wanted. :D It will, however, be one of my challenges as the author to reveal information about them and still maintain a sense of fear and mystery throughout the entire story.

If you don't mind, I'd like to ask your opinion as a reviewer: what were your general impressions of the pacing? I need to get Watson out of the academy reasonably quickly as that setting has served its purpose for the plot, but with all the skipped weeks I worry that it may have been a little rushed. Did you find this to be a problem?
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Hoenn is no longer as you know it. The shadow of tyranny grips the land, and pokémon trainers despair across the region.
  #50    
Old May 30th, 2008, 02:03 AM
*-Donkey In Mr-*'s Avatar
*-Donkey In Mr-*
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One Word AWESOME!!!!! That's so cool and the best one i have read i enjoy a little pokemon book read so i enjoyed this one.
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