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Old April 19th, 2011, 02:15 PM
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Misheard Whisper
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Unto defeat you must play the game . . . the Champion Game.


Chapter List
(Prologue is in this post)


Arc 1 - Parodos
01 - To Triumph Over Someone
02 - I Will Make a Wish for the Future
03 - The World of Dreams
04 - Television
05 - And Now, Something a Little Magical
06 - Great Power of a Certain Kind
07 - Golden Dream
08 - Approval
09 - I Think the Cat Has a Problem
10 - War of Stone
11 - The Fires of Battle


Arc 2 - Episode the First
12 - My House Is . . .
13 - The Blackest Night
14 - Blitzkrieg
15 - The Soldiers of Justice
16 - All-out War
17 - As Long As I Live
18 - Peace
19 - Freedom
20 - Solarbeam
21 - More Dreams
22 - Green and Black


Arc 3 - Parabasis the First
23 - Festival of the Sky
24 - Soar
25 - Wings Have We
26 - Every Clap of Thunder
27 - Catch Your Breath


Arc 4 - Episode the Second
28 - Words of Power
29 - It's a Troublesome Life
30 - How Far We've Come
31 - Coruscation
32 - The Gods Wait to Delight In You
33 - The Circus of Circumstance
34 - Boo
35 - Invidia et Ira
36 - Can We Please Focus? (coming soon)


OOC
0.1 - A Very Misheard Christmas (Non-canon Christmas party with the cast of SGTG)

NB: All chapters you see named here at any given time are completed and ready to go, with the exception of the last one on the list which is usually the one in progress.

Prologue
Sleep Comes Slowly



Five years.

That was how long it had taken him. Just fifty-nine months, nineteen days, and he was the Champion. It was almost a joke.

Ren rolled over in his bed, burying his head deeper in his pillow. It was almost physically impossible to stay awake, and yet something . . . something was nagging at him. He knew he should be happy. He had finally made real the goal of his childhood, the goal of so many thousands of aspiring Trainers the world over. He had done what so few had done before, and all before his fifteenth birthday. Just two days ago, he had stood in the Hall of Fame, head high, as the previous Champion bowed out and inscribed his name upon the hallowed list. There had been a whirl of media attention, cameras and press conferences, interviews and talk shows. In such a short time, he had become Hoenn's favourite teenager.

So why . . . why did he feel so empty?

Frustrated, Ren rolled over onto his back again, glaring up at the ceiling. The room was dark and bare; the only decoration was a dusty chest of drawers under the window. A single light bulb hung from the ceiling, dim and cold, barely visible in the weak trickle of moonlight that spilled between the dust-heavy curtains. Of course there was no sign of life in the room – it was his first time sleeping in it in nearly five years. When he had left on his tenth birthday, he had packed up all his toys, his books and photos, and stored them away in the attic. He hadn't returned once in all that time; never long enough to stay the night, at least.

It was all returning to him now. It wasn't that he'd forgotten his childhood; all he'd done was pack it up in those boxes with his toys. When he'd set out to become a Pokemon Trainer, Ren had put the first ten years of his life behind him, dismissing them as a pointless necessity, a stepping stone to where he wanted to be.

Ren shook his head wryly. He'd come full circle. In five years, he'd travelled all over the Hoenn region and overseas, beaten thirteen Gym Leaders, won the Ever Grande Conference, defeated the Elite Four, and finally taken down the Champion. And now . . . now he was back where he'd started. The irony was almost amusing.

So if I've returned to where I started . . . have I really succeeded in going anywhere at all?

Finally, Ren started to feel the dark haze of sleep overcome him, and he welcomed it gratefully.
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Old April 19th, 2011, 03:16 PM
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I enjoyed this mostly. I don't personally like how the story is begun (structure wise) that much because I personally dislike prologues. I try to avoid starting any of my stories with a prologue. One thing that caught my eye though was the fact that you said that Ren defeated thirteen gym leaders. I am pretty sure there were eight gym leaders in Hoenn and in all the regions of Pokemon. (Besides Orange Island, but I don't believe that is canon.)
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Last edited by Subsonic; April 19th, 2011 at 03:21 PM.
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Old April 19th, 2011, 03:23 PM
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Misheard Whisper
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I tend to do prologues myself most of the time, actually, but this one is different. It's more like a pseudo-chapter one. There's no jump in time or space from here to Chapter One, but I felt this little part stood better on its own. Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Oh, and as for the thirteen Gym Leaders?

Quote:
In five years, he'd travelled all over the Hoenn region and overseas, beaten thirteen Gym Leaders, won the Ever Grande Conference, defeated the Elite Four, and finally taken down the Champion.
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Old April 19th, 2011, 03:26 PM
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Oops, I missed that. Anyways I will gladly read this and see how the story unfolds.
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Old April 19th, 2011, 06:51 PM
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Yay, new fic from you! :D You better finish this one~

Anyways, have to say an interesting start here. Not the first time I see a fic start with the Champion wondering what he should do, but those stories always have great character development potential. I can see how the Champions that are young would wonder, "Okay, I beat the League, now what?" and there are different paths to it. I'm actually wondering what Ren will do now. Hm...Either case though, looking forward to the first chapter!

Before I go, I really need to pinpoint something from another review...

Quote:
Originally Posted by First Snow View Post
I enjoyed this mostly. I don't personally like how the story is begun (structure wise) that much because I personally dislike prologues. I try to avoid starting any of my stories with a prologue. One thing that caught my eye though was the fact that you said that Ren defeated thirteen gym leaders. I am pretty sure there were eight gym leaders in Hoenn and in all the regions of Pokemon. (Besides Orange Island, but I don't believe that is canon.)
It is still canon, just not in game verse. Just because something different is in the anime doesn't make it less qualified for what is canon in the Pokemon world. The games, anime, and mangas have different interpretations of the Pokemon world and each one can be canon. It just depends which verse you'll go with when you do fanfiction.
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Old April 19th, 2011, 07:35 PM
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Misheard Whisper
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Originally Posted by Bay Alexison View Post
Yay, new fic from you! :D You better finish this one~
I certainly hope so. The problem with the old ones was always the fact that I started right from the beginning of the Pokemon journey and stuff. That wasn't a good idea because I could never be bothered writing all the exposition-y stuff DX

Quote:
Anyways, have to say an interesting start here. Not the first time I see a fic start with the Champion wondering what he should do, but those stories always have great character development potential. I can see how the Champions that are young would wonder, "Okay, I beat the League, now what?" and there are different paths to it. I'm actually wondering what Ren will do now. Hm...Either case though, looking forward to the first chapter!
I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes too XD. I have several story threads planned out, and I'm going to see which one fits most naturally for this one.

Quote:
Before I go, I really need to pinpoint something from another review...


It is still canon, just not in game verse. Just because something different is in the anime doesn't make it less qualified for what is canon in the Pokemon world. The games, anime, and mangas have different interpretations of the Pokemon world and each one can be canon. It just depends which verse you'll go with when you do fanfiction.
Agreed. Just to clarify, this is, I think, in no particular 'verse. I'm thinking gameverse, because that's what I'm most familiar with. I guess you could call it AU as well, though . . . hmm. I'm gonna let you guys decide once I post the next chapter.

EDIT: On the other hand, there is mention of the Ever Grande conference, so I guess it's animeverse! @_@ I'm just confusing myself now.
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Old April 19th, 2011, 07:50 PM
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First, to further expand:

Quote:
(Besides Orange Island, but I don't believe that is canon.)
As Bay said, there are various different canons in the Pokemon fandom. Game, anime, and manga are the three "categories" for canon, with two of those getting more specific (games and manga). Each canon follows their own rules, though there are similarities between them.

Canon itself is anything that comes from an official source. Since the anime has an entire season devoted to the Orange Islands, it's canon. The Orange Islands are an official region for the anime universe, so if someone includes them in their fic, they're following canon.

Since it's a gameverse fic, however, he probably shouldn't mention the Orange Islands because the Orange Islands aren't in game canon.

Okay, now to the review.

Misheard Whisper, I seriously doubt I have ever read a fanfic of yours. I don't know why. Just didn't. But I figured now would be a good time to start, and I wasn't disappointed. Like Bay, I enjoy seeing fics where the champion is a young trainer. The champion thinks they have no where to go now, and they're stuck in boredom. So it's great to read about them and explore their character beyond the basic "i wanna be a trainer!" goal.

Quote:
When he'd set out to become a Pokemon Trainer, Ren had put the first ten years of his life behind him, dismissing them as a pointless necessity, a stepping stone to where he wanted to be.
Love that line, btw. It just seems to fit in a story about a trainer. Like all of them have their lives start when they became a trainer, and everything before that was just because that's the way human life goes. So I liked seeing a character "respond" to that of a trainer's life.

Looking forward to the first chapter and seeing more about Ren and what he decides to do.
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Old April 19th, 2011, 08:45 PM
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Interesting fic. I'd love to see how a crossover between Ren & Stimpy and Pokemon goes! It's odd to see Ren as a emotionally bruised teen with extreme fame. I hope this isn't a hurt/comfort fic that involves him and Stimpy becoming butt-buddies.

I kid, I kid. It looks promising so far, the tale of what will probably be a young teenager going from Champion to Charlie Sheen, considering that he's miserable, and that the other Champions probably will initiate him in some drug-filled party, because they, too, are miserable shells of humsn beings who have horribly stunted childhoods like Ren.

But, in all seriousness, alot of people (especially me, I love Ren & Stimpy, it's probably one of my favorite shows from when I was a yougin') will see the goof in the main character's name. And Arceus/God/FSM forbid you give him a friend named Stimpy, or else it'll look like a cheap shot if he goes insane.

Noob out.
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Old April 19th, 2011, 09:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Noob View Post
Interesting fic. I'd love to see how a crossover between Ren & Stimpy and Pokemon goes! It's odd to see Ren as a emotionally bruised teen with extreme fame. I hope this isn't a hurt/comfort fic that involves him and Stimpy becoming butt-buddies.

I kid, I kid. It looks promising so far, the tale of what will probably be a young teenager going from Champion to Charlie Sheen, considering that he's miserable, and that the other Champions probably will initiate him in some drug-filled party, because they, too, are miserable shells of humsn beings who have horribly stunted childhoods like Ren.

But, in all seriousness, alot of people (especially me, I love Ren & Stimpy, it's probably one of my favorite shows from when I was a yougin') will see the goof in the main character's name. And Arceus/God/FSM forbid you give him a friend named Stimpy, or else it'll look like a cheap shot if he goes insane.

Noob out.
Erm, OK? I never watched Ren & Stimpy myself, so I can promise this isn't a crossover. ;;; Also, there most definitely won't be any Sheen-esque druggy revelry; I'll tell you that much for free.
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Old April 19th, 2011, 09:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Misheard Whisper View Post
Erm, OK? I never watched Ren & Stimpy myself, so I can promise this isn't a crossover. ;;; Also, there most definitely won't be any Sheen-esque druggy revelry; I'll tell you that much for free.
I goofed and realized too late that this was a trainer-fic, and not a cynic-fic. Also, the weird part about Ren & Stimpy and the crossover was a quick joke on your MC's name, which was probably thrown in for its out-of-place, Japanese-y sound. I'm not saying it's bad, but someone was bound to make the joke.

Noob out.
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Old April 19th, 2011, 09:45 PM
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Misheard Whisper
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Noob View Post
I goofed and realized too late that this was a trainer-fic, and not a cynic-fic. Also, the weird part about Ren & Stimpy and the crossover was a quick joke on your MC's name, which was probably thrown in for its out-of-place, Japanese-y sound. I'm not saying it's bad, but someone was bound to make the joke.

Noob out.
Yeah, I figured that was what you were saying, but I just wanted to be sure.

And yeah, I have no idea why I named him Ren, honestly. It holds no significance whatsoever at this point.
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Old April 20th, 2011, 09:20 PM
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Wow, this is more dialogue-heavy than I was planning it to be. :/ Bear with me for a couple chapters. XD



Para Triunfar Sobre Alguien


Ten hours later, Ren opened his eyes blearily to find his room full of light. Squinting, he propped himself up on one elbow and glanced over at the window. The curtains were wide open, revealing a sharp, crisp azure sky free of clouds. The sun was streaming in through the casement, painting his whole room golden and illuminating the dust motes in the air.

Groaning, Ren flopped back down onto his bed. He had forgotten how passive-aggressive his mother was when it came to getting him up in the mornings. She had probably come in and opened his curtains just as soon as she had woken up herself.

Eyes adjusting to the light, Ren sat up and grabbed his watch off the bedhead. It wasn't even half past eight. With a sigh, he swung his feet out from under the blanket and onto the carpet. Yawning, he stood up to get dressed.

When he got downstairs ten minutes later, his mother was sitting at the kitchen table with a bowl of cereal. She looked up, beaming, when Ren entered the room.

“There's my little Champion!” she exclaimed. Ren rolled his eyes and smiled indulgently.

“I'm nearly fifteen now, Mom,” he complained half-heartedly, knowing full well it would make no difference.

“Aww, don't be like that, sweetie!” his mother pouted. “It's like you don't love your mommy anymore!” Shaking his head, Ren grabbed a bowl off the shelf and poured himself some cereal.

“Don't be silly, Mom,” he said quietly, looking down at the table. “Course I do.”

“I know, sweetie,” she said, ruffling his hair. “I just wanted to hear you say it. It's been a long time since we sat down together like this, huh?”

“I came back for Christmas last year,” Ren reminded her, splashing milk onto his cornflakes before getting up to fetch a spoon from the drawer. “It's not like I haven't seen you.”

“I mean just you and me, like it used to be.” She fell silent for a moment before speaking up again. “Don't suppose you'll be home for long this time, either, huh?”

“Yeah, pretty much,” said Ren lightly, refusing to meet her eyes. “I've got, you know . . . Champion stuff to do now. Taking challengers, and . . . um.” Ren suddenly realised that he had no idea what was expected of him. Challengers would come infrequently. The Ever Grande Conference was only held once a year, and there had to be some kind of special reason for any Trainer to make a challenge outside of that – for example, if one of the Elites vouched for them personally. That meant he'd be taking perhaps one challenger a year. Other than that . . . what was he to do?

“That reminds me!” his mother said brightly. “Steven rang earlier. He wants you to meet him in Rustboro City today. Can you call him back and tell him you'll be there?”

“Steven?” Ren said. “What does he want? I just got back – can't it wait?”

“Well, I assume he wants to talk Champion business, sweetie. You'll have to go and find out.”

“Sure. I'll call him now, then,” Ren decided, standing up and snatching the phone off its hook. “Be right back,” he said over his shoulder as he headed back upstairs, dialing the number he had been given earlier.

Ren sat down on his bed as he pressed the 'call button', idly staring at the ceiling as he waited for Steven to pick up. He didn't have to wait long.

“This is Steven Stone,” said a familiar voice.

“Steven! It's Ren.”

“Oh, hello, Ren,” Steven said. “I trust you've been keeping well?”

What sort of eighteenth-century greeting is that? Ren wondered absently. Aloud, he simply said, “I'm all right. A bit tired, but I guess that's to be expected. But what's this about me having to go to Rustboro City?”

“I have to . . . talk to you about something very important,” said Steven. Ren frowned.

“Something important? Is it so important you can't tell me over the phone? I mean, I just got home last night and all.”

“Yes!” Steven said emphatically. “This is a matter of crucial importance, and I need to speak to you about it in person.There should be a train leaving Slateport at nine thirty. Can you be on it?”

Ren glanced at his watch – it was quarter to nine. “Can't it wait?” he asked.

“Not possible,” Steven insisted. “Can you be on the train?” he repeated.

Ren rolled his eyes. “Sure,” he said, shaking his head as he resigned himself to Steven's stubbornness. “Meet me at the station?”

“I'll have someone there to pick you up,” Steven said. “I'm sorry, Ren. This must all seem very confusing and inconvenient, but trust me, there's good reason for it. I won't keep you in the dark any longer than I have to.”

“Alright,” said Ren wearily, biting his lip. “I'll be there.”

“Thank you, Ren. Goodbye, and be safe.” With a click, the line went dead. Ren sighed and flopped back onto his bed, staring at the ceiling. He had been looking forward to spending some time at home, but it seemed that that was not to be.

With another sigh, Ren picked up his backpack off the floor and started tossing things into it. Over the last five years, he had gotten used to travelling light, so he knew exactly what he needed. There wasn't much: just his Pokemon, a few toiletries and a change of clothes.

Out of habit, he straightened the covers on his bed before he left. It might have been a long time since he'd last done it, but it still didn't feel right to leave the house without doing it. He clunked down the stairs again, his durable, hard-soled shoes making an uncomfortably loud noise as he did so.

“Oh . . . you're going now, sweetie?” his mother said, her brow slightly creased – with concern or disapproval, Ren couldn't tell which.

“Yeah, Mom,” he said. “Steven wants to talk to me in person, so I've gotta catch the nine-thirty train.”

“Do you have to go now? Can't it wait?”

“That's what I asked,” Ren said wryly, “but he was quite insistent.”

“Oh, I don't like it,” she grumbled. “You come home for one night and then you're off again! I hardly see you these days.”

“I know, Mom,” Ren said, “but it shouldn't be for so long this time. I'll talk to Steven about . . . whatever it is he wants to talk about, and then I'll be back. Maybe even tonight, but I can't make any promises.”

His mother smiled and ruffled his hair affectionately. “Don't worry, sweetie,” she said. “I know it has to be important, so you go and do what you have to do, OK? I've managed without you for five years, after all. I'll be fine for another couple of days.”

“Gotcha,” Ren said, nodding as he opened the front door. “See you, Mom. Love you!”

“Love you too, honey,” she said quietly as the door closed between them.

Ren took a deep breath of cool morning air before slapping himself in the face. He worried about his mother. She pretended not to be bothered, but he knew how hard it had to be for her. She had been living alone for five years, after all. Ren couldn't imagine how hard it would be to be isolated, which was why he had tried to visit as often as he was able, but being the Pokemon Champion was a demanding dream. As much as he wanted to, he couldn't spend his whole life in Slateport.

He'd thought, perhaps, that things would change after he finally became the Champion. Of course, he'd known that he'd still be running all over Hoenn like one possessed, but he hadn't realised it would start this soon.

I promise, Mom, he said to himself as he looked back at the gate. After this, I'll come home and stay for at least a month. It'll be just you and me.

Sweeping his tousled brown hair out of his face, Ren set his eyes on Slateport City – visible just a couple of miles along the coast, glittering like a jewel in the morning sunlight – and stepped out confidently towards it.

Ren's house stood atop a hill overlooking the sea, and the winding, jackknifing road that passed in front of it offered a spectacular view of the sea to the south-east. The sun bore down strongly despite the early hour, and even the cutting breeze that sliced across the cliff-face did little to alleviate the warmth. Ren could only imagine what the heat would be like later in the day.

As Ren made his way along the road, he marvelled, as always, at the ingenuity of whoever had built the road in the first place. On one side, the cliff rose up, almost vertically, just inches from where he walked. Covered in tough grass and hardy flowers, the cliff was one of the most steadfast constants in Ren's world. On the other side of the narrow road, the cliff suddenly dropped away again. Even though he had seen it a thousand times before, Ren took a peek over the rickety barrier that separated the road from the open air. Like every other time, it took his breath away. The land dropped away at a ridiculous angle; he fancied that if he fell off, he might bounce once before he hit the water at the bottom – twice if he was lucky.

With a grin, Ren set his eyes straight ahead again and set off with renewed vigour, the comforting smell of brine in his nostrils.

The walk was mostly downhill, which made the going easy, although there were lots of switchbacks to traverse. Ren made it into Slateport City proper with twenty minutes to spare, and quickly headed for the train station. He kept his head down and his eyes averted from everyone he passed. It wasn't that he didn't want to be recognised, but at this stage, it could possibly delay him and make him miss his train. He wasn't willing to risk Steven's ire simply because he couldn't deal with a couple of fans.

A couple of times, he thought he saw people pointing at him and whispering to each other, and in each case, he quickly crossed the street or took a different turn. The central train station was near the city outskirts, so he didn't have far to go. He purchased a ticket to Rustboro from a bored-looking attendant, and was just about to climb onto the train when he heard an excited shriek from behind him.

Ren!” With a wince, he glanced around just in time to get tackled head-on by a small, pink blur.

“Oof!” he exclaimed, stumbling backwards and just about falling into the train. “Who- what the-?!”

“Long time no see, Ren!” said the pink blur excitedly, detaching itself from his midriff and beaming up at him.

“Natasha?” Ren queried. “Is that you?”

“Of course it's me, idiot!” his twelve-year-old cousin squeaked, bouncing up and down madly. “Don't tell me you forgot about me after just five years!”

“No, 'Tash, I didn't,” Ren said hurriedly, glancing at his watch. The train was about to leave. “But look, I've gotta go. I'll come visit when I get back, I promise.”

“No! I want to come with you! Where are you going?” she demanded, stamping her foot. Ren started to answer, but he was drowned out by a piercing shriek from the loudspeaker.

Nine-thirty to Rustboro is now departing. All passengers, please board the train immediately. Nine-thirty to Rustboro.”

“Rustboro City,” he tried again. “It's a long way away, but I promise I'll see you when I get back. It's too far for you to come,” he said, climbing onto the train.

“No!” Natasha protested, leaping nimbly past him onto the train. “I'm coming and that's that.”

“'Tash!” Ren hissed, making a grab for her, but it was too late. The door shut with a clang, and the train began to move. “Oh, damn it!” he sighed, slumping down onto the nearest seat. The carriage was empty but for the two of them.

Natasha giggled happily. “This'll be fun!” she said happily, jumping onto the seat beside Ren and snuggling into his side.

“Not really,” Ren said, taking a deep breath. “You're not supposed to be on this train, are you?”

“Nope! Daddy wanted to take us on holiday to Lilycove, but Rustboro's gonna be much more fun!”

Ren ran his fingers through his hair in exasperation. “So . . . you were going on holiday, but you just decided to jump on my train? Oh, what am I gonna do with you . . .” Shaking his head, he took out his PokeNav and dialled a number. It picked up on the third ring.

“Hello?”

“Yeah, hi there. Uncle Roger, it's me, Ren.”

“Oh, hello, Ren! What are you calling for? Congratulations on becoming the Champion, by the way. Mary and I were going to drop by and congratulate you in person, because I heard you were in town, but we were too busy packing for our holiday!”

“Thanks, Uncle Roger,” Ren said uncomfortably. “But, uh . . . about that holiday. I imagine you're looking for Natasha about now, right?”

“Well, yes, actually, we are,” Roger said, sounding puzzled. “How the blazes did you work that out? We're at the train station, but she's run off somewhere, the little tyke.”

“Yeah, well, um . . . I've got her,” Ren said.

“Oh, splendid!” Roger said cheerfully. “Could you bring her back to platform twelve? The train leaves in ten minutes.”

“Actually, that's why I'm calling,” Ren said, scratching his head and glaring at his cousin, who raised her eyebrows innocently. “Your little bundle of fun just jumped on my train, and now there's nothing I can do about it. It's the express, so it doesn't stop until Rustboro.”

“Rustb- oh, for the love of-” Roger stuttered. “Well, um, I, uh. Huh, what's that? No, Mary, she's fine. It's Ren . . . Yes, I did congratulate him . . . No, she's on the train to Rustboro . . . How should I know? Well, uh . . .” There was a crackle at the other end of the line, and Ren frowned.

“Hello, Ren,” said a different voice.

“Aunt Mary!” Ren said, surprised. “Hello.”

“Natasha's with you, is she?”

“Yeah,” Ren said, shooting another glare at his cousin, who was now rolling on the seat in paroxysms of silent laughter. “I'm sorry, Aunt Mary, but she jumped on board before I could stop her.” A crackle of feedback that may have been a sigh filtered down the line.

“Well, there's nothing to be done about that, is there? Roger and I will catch the next train to Rustboro and take her off your hands at the station.”

“Well . . .” Ren said. “I kind of have to be in Rustboro on business, you see. I don't know if that's practical. But I can't just leave her at the station, and I wouldn't dare put her on a train by herself . . .”

“That is a problem, then,” Mary said.

“Uncle Roger said you were going to Lilycove for a holiday,” Ren said thoughtfully. “How long was that going to be?”

“Just for the night. Why?” Mary asked worriedly.

“How about this?” Ren said, biting his lip. “I'll take Natasha with me, and you and Uncle Roger go to Lilycove. She'll be fine with me, I promise.”

“Well . . .” Mary said, sounding unconvinced.

“I can't imagine you've had much peace for the last twelve years with this mad creature around,” Ren said frankly. “You could use a break.”

“I guess . . . that does sound nice,” his aunt said. “All right, Ren. You're our favourite nephew, and we trust you, so we'll leave our little girl to you. I know you're grown-up enough to handle it.”

“OK, Aunt Mary,” Ren said. “Catch you later. Enjoy your holiday.” With that, he hung up and leant back in the seat.

“So?” Natasha asked.

“Against my better judgement, it's you and me on holiday in Rustboro,” Ren said.

“Yay!” Natasha squealed, jumping up and racing up and down the carriage. “I'm going on holiday with cousin Ren!”

Ren exhaled heavily, smiling. His cousin was the only relative he knew that was even close to him in age, and they had grown up quite close. She was hyperactive and wore too much pink, but she was still special to him.

“Sit down, you,” he said. “I'm going to go and see about getting you a ticket.” Obediently, Natasha flumped herself down onto a seat and sat as still as a statue, arms crossed. Shaking his head, Ren headed for the door to the next carriage.

It didn't take him long to find a guard. Apologetically, he started to explain his situation, but before he had even mentioned how Natasha had leapt onto the train, the guard leant down and tipped his chin up, examining Ren closely. A grin had spread across the big man's face as he recognised him, and he had continued – much to Ren's chagrin – to announce to the whole carriage, which was much more densely populated than the one Ren had boarded, that it was 'that new Champion kid everyone's been talking about'. When the guard had asked if anybody had a problem with the Champion and his cousin moving up to first class, the other passengers had responded enthusiastically, although one or two had 'demanded' an autograph as 'payment' for class-skipping. Chuckling, Ren had obliged before going back to fetch Natasha. The guard showed them to the carriage at the front of the train and sat them down in much more comfortable seats.

“That was nice of him,” Natasha commented as she excitedly pressed her nose to the juddering window. “Are you really that famous now, cousin Ren?”

“I guess I am,” Ren said bashfully, looking out the window too as Hoenn flashed past. Far to the north, he could see the spire of Mount Chimney thrusting up above the rest of the countryside.

I am, he thought. Life's gonna be a lot different now that I'm the Champion, but I expected that. The question now, though, is . . . where do I go from here? Is there someone else I can beat? Can I get stronger? Or is there no point now?
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Old April 20th, 2011, 10:30 PM
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With one of the books I'm currently working through, I don't mind dialogue-heavy chapters. So it doesn't bother me how the story gets told, so long as there's a new chapter.

Wonder what Steven has to discuss with Ren. I know Steven can spring some surprises on a trainer, so it has to be something real interesting. Especially since Ren is the champion.

Also good to see how the public reacts to Ren, and how Ren reacts to the public. It's kind of refreshing to see a champion who doesn't really want all the fame that comes with being a well-known figure.

Natasha looks to be a great character. Hope to see more of her and how having her along will affect Ren's journey.

One quick thing:

Quote:
“Don't be silly, mom,”
When "mom" is used like this, it's written with a capital letter. Best way to figure out if it needs to be capitalized or not is to use the character's real name in place of it, and if the sentence fits, then it's capitalized. If not, then it's written in all lower-case.
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Old April 20th, 2011, 11:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Astinus View Post
One quick thing:

When "mom" is used like this, it's written with a capital letter. Best way to figure out if it needs to be capitalized or not is to use the character's real name in place of it, and if the sentence fits, then it's capitalized. If not, then it's written in all lower-case.
Ah, I see. I think I got thrown off because I don't tend to use the word 'mom' myself. It just sounded weird no matter how I put it. a_a I had a similar struggle with Aunt and Uncle as well, actually.

In any case, thanks for watching READING. why did i say watching. Thanks for reading. I hope to get another chapter out by Easter, but I'm not planning on pushing it.

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Wonder what Steven has to discuss with Ren. I know Steven can spring some surprises on a trainer, so it has to be something real interesting. Especially since Ren is the champion.
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Old April 23rd, 2011, 11:05 PM
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Pretty much Astinus already said what I wanted to say for this chapter. XD You did really well showing the crowd's reaction to when it was announced Ren is on the train and him not liking it. And yeah, Natasha has a fun personality so far. Looking forward to her role in the story.

I think what I like most about this chapter is the part where Ren says he promises he'll stay with his mom for at least a mom and the two of them will spend time together. Very sweet of him and I too feel sorry his mom has been alone for quite a while.

Nice chapter here! Things shall be interesting after why Steven wants to talk to Ren is revealed.
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Old April 24th, 2011, 11:43 PM
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Pediré un Deseo por el Futuro


The train pulled into Rustboro City with a rattle and a deafening screech. Ren had spent the whole trip split between controlling Natasha and burying his face in a magazine so he wouldn't be recognised. The friendly guard, who had introduced himself as Simone, saw them off the train with a cheerful wave, and Ren grabbed hold of Natasha's hand to avoid her wandering off as he navigated his way out of the station.

Steven said he'd send someone to pick me up, Ren recalled as he scanned the throngs of people packing the bustling station. But who . . . ? There was nobody he recognised, so he shrugged and continued to wend his way through the crowd. Maybe there'll be somebody outside? he reasoned.

Hopefully, he scanned the line of bored-looking drivers standing by the door, checking to see if any of their placards had his name on it. Nothing. Just as he was about to make his way out of the station's grand entrance, he felt a tap on his shoulder and turned, somewhat taken aback, to see a somewhat irate-looking teenage girl in a grey school uniform, her brown hair drawn back, in two bunches, with a large pink ribbon into a pair of ponytails.

“D-didn't you hear me?” she said crossly. “I was calling you the whole time!”

“Ah,” said Ren. “Roxanne. It's been a while.”

“Three years since you won the Stone Badge,” she said, smiling. “You've hardly come by the Gym since.”

“Ah . . . sorry about that,” Ren said, scratching his head. “What, did you miss me?”

“I-I just thought I should battle you again sometime,” Roxanne said. “But come on, we're blocking the path.” She was right, Ren realised as he hurriedly followed the Gym Leader out of the station and down a wide flight of stairs towards a large, fancy-looking black car parked on the road below.

“This us?” Ren asked, gesturing to the car. Roxanne nodded. “After you, then,” he said, opening the door and gallantly waving her inside. Roxanne went a little pink, but climbed in anyway. Ren chuckled and helped Natasha up into the car before following them.

Inside, the car was remarkably spacious. Roxanne was already seated with her back to the driver, leaving Ren and Natasha to sit opposite her. Once Ren had closed the door behind him, Roxanne pressed a small red button on the armrest and spoke into a small microphone embedded into the side of the car: “To the Devon Corporation, if you please.” Without further discussion, the engine of the car purred into life, and Ren felt the slightest lurch as it pulled out into traffic.

“Nice ride,” he commented. “Being a Gym Leader paying well, then?”

“No, ah . . . this car belongs to Mr. Stone. He asked me to come and fetch you from the station, but I think a vehicle of this, uh . . . scale is somewhat unnecessary.”

“I see. That makes sense, I guess,” Ren said, quietly trying to dissuade Natasha from opening the minibar she had just discovered under her seat. The Gym Leader smiled at the younger girl.

“Hello, there,” she said in a friendly manner. “My name is Roxanne. What's yours?”

Natasha tilted her head slightly, sizing Roxanne up. “I'm 'Tash,” she said eventually. “Are you cousin Ren's girlfriend?”

“Wha-” Ren started, taken aback, but he was overriden immediately.

“Absolutely not! That's preposterous!” Roxanne said insistently.

“Then why are you all pink?” Natasha challenged her. She had a point, Ren admitted. At Natasha's comment, Roxanne's face had gone a deep shade of rose that put her hair-ribbon to shame.

“Speaking of pink,” Ren said quickly, trying to defuse the suddenly awkward situation, “why are you still wearing those pink stockings? I mean, it's none of my business, but they're really quite . . . out there, aren't they?”

“What? These? Um, I . . . maybe,” Roxanne said distractedly, refusing to meet Ren's eyes. “But never mind that. I wanted to congratulate you personally for defeating Steven.”

“Ah, thanks,” said Ren.

“I . . . knew, you know,” Roxanne said hesitantly. “Back when you came to the Rustboro Gym three years ago, I could tell that you were going to go a long way.”

“Really?” Ren asked, surprised. “But I only had three Gym badges by then.”

“Still,” Roxanne said, “I could see it. I think it was your eyes.”

“My . . . eyes?” Ren said, confused. “What about my eyes?”

“Well, I think . . . As soon I met you, I saw something in your eyes. I didn't know quite what it was at the time, and I still can't be sure, but whatever it was . . . it told me you were going to keep going. All the way to the top. And look at you now! I'm going to have to start calling you 'boss' soon.”

Ren laughed uncomfortably. “Boy, that'd feel weird,” he said. “But that reminds me . . . exactly how much control . . . no, that's not what I want to ask. What I mean is – how much responsibility does the Champion have?”

“What do you mean by that?” Roxanne asked, frowning.

“Well, all my life, the Champion's just been . . . there. Sitting up there at the top of the heap, unassailable and distant, and . . . well, there was a lot of secrecy. I know very little about what the Champion is actually expected to do, other than, you know, take challengers.”

“That's . . .” Roxanne stared out of the tinted window as if looking for answers in the stone facades of the city. “That's something . . . that Steven will tell you about today, I think. How much did he tell you when he called?”

“Nothing,” Ren grumbled, leaning back and staring at the ceiling. Something nagged at him, but he couldn't be sure what it was. Something wasn't right. “He told me nothing.”

“That's Steven for you,” Roxanne said, “although I probably shouldn't be so flippant. However mysterious he might be, he's still Steven Stone, even before he's the Champion.”

“I met his father when I was here last,” Ren noted. “He seemed like an . . . interesting man.”

“Yes, that sounds about right,” said Roxanne. “Mr. Stone is, of course, still the CEO of the Devon Corporation. He's one of the most respected businessmen in the world, and I think he plans to have Steven take over from him in a few years.”

“He's going to retire?” Ren asked, arching an eyebrow. “But he's only, what, sixty?”

“Sixty-seven,” Roxanne corrected him. “Still, he's in perfect health, from what I've seen, and personally . . . personally, I don't think Steven's going to want to take over any time soon.”

“What makes you say that?” asked Ren, frowning. “It's not like he has nothing to do, or anything, but I still imagine he'll have a lot of time on his hands now that he's stepping down as Champion.”

“When I . . . last talked to Steven,” Roxanne said slowly, looking Ren directly in the eye for the first time, “he seemed . . . restless. I don't know if I should be telling you this, but . . . I don't think he's the sort to just settle down peacefully. Did he ever tell you about his hobby?”

“What, collecting rocks? Yeah, I ran into him a few times in Granite Cave when I was training there,” Ren recalled.

“Collecting rocks? Well, not exactly, though you've essentially got the right idea. Steven has a great interest in the rare minerals and gemstones that can be found all over the Hoenn region. Hoenn has a remarkable geological makeup, and the bedrock varies wildly from one place to another. Because of this, and the huge number of natural and artificial caves that can be found here, I don't think Steven will ever be satisfied with the results of his research. He is a remarkable man, but he appears to have inherited his father's fortitude. I'm not sure if that's a good thing, frankly.”

Ren remained silent for a moment, considering. “I don't know. Is Mr. Stone really looking to retire so soon?”

“Probably in the next few years. It would seem he's quite happy to have Steven available again. At least, that is the impression I get. It makes sense, don't you think?”

“True,” Ren said. “But I can't imagine Steven actually going directly against his father if it came down to it. You know, if he actually directly said 'I want you to take over Devon Corp.' He couldn't turn that down.”

“I suppose you're right,” Roxanne admitted, “but it's still worth keeping an eye on. I don't think that's what Steven wants to discuss with you, anyway.”

“Do you know what he wants?” Ren asked. “Because it seems I'm somewhat in the dark here.”

“No,” Roxanne said, then paused – for a little longer than necessary, Ren thought. “No, I have no idea at all. All I know is that it's something to do with your new role as Champion, but I imagine you will have worked that out already.”

“I'd figured as much,” Ren said, nodding.

“Are you gonna go to a meeting, Ren?” Natasha piped up, reminding Ren of her presence. She'd been so unusually quiet, he had almost forgotten she was there.

“Yeah, pretty much,” he said.

“Can I come with you?” she asked. “Daddy never lets me go to his meetings!”

“Well, ah . . . I guess we'll have to see,” Ren said. “It depends on what Steven thinks, I guess. If it's too secret, you're going to have to wait outside, I suppose.”

“Here we are!” said Roxanne suddenly, as the car came to a gentle halt and fell silent. After a few seconds, the door opened from the outside, and she slipped out gracefully. Ren followed her, nodding his thanks to the driver as he made sure Natasha was with him.

“Wow . . .” Ren breathed. “I see this every time I come to Rustboro, but it's still pretty impressive.” The headquarters of Devon Corporation was a large, brown-stone building that managed to look both ancient and solid at the same time. The facade was intricately carved and set with large, fearsome gargoyles that jutted out into the street. Standing on the cobbled footpath and looking up, the building loomed impossibly high, even though it was relatively small compared to those around it.

“Isn't it just?” Roxanne agreed. “Come on. Steven wanted to see you as soon as possible.” Shrugging, Ren followed her into the building, taking time to admire the classical stone arch as he passed through it.

Roxanne crossed the empty foyer quickly, her buckled shoes clacking briskly on the tile floor. Ren looked around – he had only been inside Devon Corp once or twice. Quite suddenly, everything was modern. They passed through a revolving door into the building proper, and Ren had to rescue Natasha, who wanted to keep going round and round.

“Honestly,” he muttered. “You're twelve years old now, but you still act like a little kid! Would it kill you to grow up just a little bit?”

“But it's so much fun!” Natasha protested, giggling. “I'm not important or famous like cousin Ren, so I can do what I want to and it doesn't matter!”

Ren frowned, but before he could think too hard on it, he was distracted by Roxanne practically dragging him onward. “Will you get a move on?” she said.

“Whoa, whoa! Why the big hurry all of a sudden?” Ren asked, walking faster to catch up.

“Steven told you it was urgent, did he not?”

“Well, yes, but-”

“Then come on,” Roxanne said, chivvying him past the receptionist, who nodded respectfully to the pair of them. Ren followed along as quickly as he could, Natasha trotting happily in his wake. Did I do something to piss her off? he wondered. Nothing came to mind, so he left it.

Roxanne led them into a lift and pressed the button for the top floor. With barely a lurch, the carriage began to ascend, its three occupants standing in awkward silence for the duration. With a soft ding, the doors opened, and Ren stepped out. Roxanne didn't move.

“Are you . . . coming?” he asked, uncertain. Roxanne shook her head. She opened her mouth slightly as if to speak, but then closed it again as if thinking better of it.

“Good luck,” was all she said, after a lengthy pause. Ren nodded and beckoned to Natasha, who followed him out of the lift.

“See you around,” he said, still slightly bemused. Roxanne nodded silently as the lift doors closed and she disappeared from sight. “Well, that was strange,” Ren said aloud.

“She got all worried when we came into the building,” observed Natasha. “Why's that, Ren?”

“She did?” Ren arched his eyebrows. He had noticed something strange about Roxanne, but hadn't been able to put his finger on it. Was it worry he had glimpsed in her face? He didn't really think so, but . . . “Girls are so hard to figure out,” he muttered under his breath.

“They are indeed,” said Steven from behind him. Ren jumped and spun round to face the former Champion.

“Don't – don't do that!” he squeaked. A flicker of amusement passed across Steven's smooth face.

“Come with me, Champion,” he said, turning and walking away. They were in a hallway, Ren noticed as he followed Steven's shock of silver hair. An ostentatious one, at that. The floor was covered with plush red carpet that seemed to swallow Ren's feet as he walked, and the walls were painted in a similar shade, with gold trim glinting on all sides. Ornate golden chandeliers hung from the ceiling at intervals, glittering with droplets of diamond.

“Nice place,” Ren said quietly.

“Quite. Actually, this floor is the Stone family's personal residence in Rustboro. My father lives here most of the time, as he never likes to be too far from his work. It is a little extravagant for my tastes, but then, I have no real say in the matter as I spend so little time here.”

“So, will you tell me why I'm here yet?” Ren queried, hurrying to catch up to Steven. Steven glanced across at him briefly.

“I will,” he said. “But first, may I suggest that your . . .” He tailed off, seemingly uncertain.

“Cousin,” Ren supplied, seeing where Steven was looking.

“May I suggest, then, that we find some way for your cousin to entertain herself for an hour or two. I apologise for the seeming lack of trust, but what we have to discuss is for your ears only.”

“How exactly do you expect a twelve-year-old to entertain herself in a place like this?” Ren asked, gesturing around at the ornate furnishings.

“I have some idea,” Steven said, before leaning over slightly to address Natasha directly. “Do you like books?” he asked.

Natasha nodded solemnly, which surprised Ren slightly. His cousin had never shown much interest in literature of any kind, from what he could remember. “Yes,” she said. “I like reading.”

“Well,” said Steven, drawing to a halt before a dark wooden door, “would you like to see my library?” Without waiting for an answer, he pushed the door open and gestured her inside.

Ren peeked over Steven's shoulder into the room beyond, and his eyes grew wide. A huge, warmly-lit room stretched out from the door, lined with enormous, floor-to-ceiling shelves packed with books of all shapes and sizes. “Wow,” he breathed. “How many books do you have?”

“Thousands,” Steven said – a touch smugly, Ren thought. “Katrina!” he said sharply, raising his voice a little.

There was a scuffling sound, and a girl poked her head out from behind a bookshelf several metres away. She had mousy brown hair and a small pair of square glasses resting on her nose. She looked to be a few years older than Ren. “Yes?” she said. “Oh, hello, Steven! Did you need me for something?”

“This is our Champion's cousin,” Steven explained, indicating Natasha, who had wandered towards the nearest bookshelf and was scanning it eagerly. “Could you look after her for a little while for us? Ren and I have some business to discuss.”

Katrina smiled. “Sure thing. I'll keep an eye on her – both, if I can spare them.”

“Thank you,” Steven said, smiling back. “We'll be back in an hour or two, I imagine.” With a final nod, he closed the door again. “My sister,” he said, upon seeing Ren's confused expression. “She's studying for her Masters in Anthropology, so she spends most of her time in the library.”

“I see.” Ren followed Steven as he set off again, heading down a different corridor. How big is this floor? Ren wondered. It had taken them a good couple of minutes to get from the lift to the library.

“Your cousin seems like a sensible child,” Steven remarked.

“Strangely, no,” Ren said. “She's usually quite hyper, and I just don't know what's up with her today. Ever since we arrived in Rustboro, she's been . . . pretty strange. Normally she'd have been bouncing off the walls all the way up here, but . . . no. I don't know.” He shook his head. Natasha had been acting strange. Perhaps she really had mellowed out over the five years he hadn't seen her? He was willing to put her initial display of hyperactivity down to excitement at seeing him again, but still . . . there was something strange.

“She'll be fine with Katrina,” Steven said. “She won't brook any nonsense, not while she's studying.” After another couple of turns, he stopped abruptly and opened another door, gesturing for Ren to precede him into the room.

The room was a lot more understated than the rest of the floor, Ren noticed immediately. The red and gold colour scheme remained, but the floor was hardwood and there were no chandeliers. Light came from quietly humming fixtures on the ceiling, and the only furnishings in the room were two low chairs, facing each other across a plain metal table.

“This room is where my father holds his most secret meetings,” Steven said. “The ones where it is absolutely imperative that their contents remain confidential, and the ones with clients who are too pragmatic to be insulted by the lack of an extravagant conference room. I don't know the sorts of people he meets with in here, but it's none of my business . . . yet.”

“It might be, if you have to take over the company from your father.”

“Who told you that?” Steven asked, his eyes narrowing.

Ren inhaled sharply. He had the sense he had said something he shouldn't have. “I . . . assumed it?” he said weakly. “I mean, you're the oldest, aren't you?”

Steven continued to examine him closely as he took his seat and indicated Ren should do the same. “That sounds unlikely. Did Roxanne say anything?”

“She . . . might have mentioned it,” Ren admitted as he sat down on the metal chair, which creaked slightly under his weight. “Hypothetically, that is.”

“Tch,” Steven tutted. “That girl . . . oh, well. It is of no great importance.” He paused, staring at Ren for a few moments, looking him up and down. Ren shifted uncomfortably in his seat, suddenly very aware that his unruly brown hair was sticking up all over the place, a pet hate of his mother's. He was only wearing ratty old jeans and a red t-shirt, too – he hadn't had time to get changed before he left for the train station. He felt very scruffy next to the immaculate Steven in his black pants and collared shirt with its purple zigzags. He sank slightly into his chair, as if it would prevent Steven from seeing him.

“What did . . . you want to talk to me about?” Ren asked.

Steven leant back in his chair suddenly, rubbing his eyes and sighing. “This is an awkward business, Ren,” he said, his voice suddenly carrying an awful lot of gravity. “A most awkward and tiring business. And, setting aside any matters of Champion and ex-Champion for the moment, I'd like you to listen to me as one man to another. Do you understand?”

Ren frowned. Suddenly, Roxanne wasn't the only one acting weird. “What . . . are you trying to say?”

Steven dipped his head slightly and closed his eyes. “I'm trying to say that . . . what I have to discuss with you today is something I'd never hoped to discuss with someone like you. Please don't take offence, but . . . you're still little more than a boy. I always expected to have to tell my successor about this – you can't be Champion forever, after all – but I didn't expect it to be someone as young as you.”

“Will you please tell me what you're on about?” Ren demanded. “You're just confusing me more and more! And just because I'm fourteen doesn't mean you can be condescending!”

Steven nodded. “You're right. I'm sorry. I'm insulting your intelligence if I try to hide anything from you. All I need is your solemn promise that you will take me seriously, because without that this conversation will bear no fruit. Agreed?”

Ren nodded firmly. “Agreed. Now talk, if you have something to say.”

Steven let out a long, slow breath before opening his eyes and looking directly into Ren's. “Let me begin with a question.”

~~~

All right! Have another cliffhanger! Happy late Easter!
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Old April 25th, 2011, 05:47 PM
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Oh dang it, MW, I hate you and your cliffhangers! D< Now I can't wait to see what Steven wants to talk to Ren about. D:

To backtrack a bit, hehe I think Roxanne has a crush on Ren. Usually I'm weary over a gym leader falling over the main protagonist, but considering Roxanne looks like she's in her teens/late teens, I'm not bothered by it too much. And I knew Natasha was going to ask that!

Hm, I haven't really thought that Steven will be the CEO after his father retires from the many times I played the Hoenn games. I do believe that Steven doesn't want to take over the company. He probably mentions that in the games, but it's been a while since I last played it, haha.

Ack, short review because not too much going on here, but the chapter is still good. XD Again, can't wait for the next chapter!
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Old April 25th, 2011, 05:59 PM
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Oh dang it, MW, I hate you and your cliffhangers! D< Now I can't wait to see what Steven wants to talk to Ren about. D:
Let's just say it's going to take the story down a path nobody is expecting. I can almost guarantee that. GENRESHIFT

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To backtrack a bit, hehe I think Roxanne has a crush on Ren. Usually I'm weary over a gym leader falling over the main protagonist, but considering Roxanne looks like she's in her teens/late teens, I'm not bothered by it too much. And I knew Natasha was going to ask that!
Yeah, I gotta be careful with it because otherwise Ren will turn into a Stu . . . Of course, now I'm going to take Roxanne out of the picture for a few chapters and leave you wondering. Because I'm evil like that.

Roxanne and Ren's relationship is funny, actually. I was originally intending to have Steven just send a car and driver, but it seemed a little more personal to have it be an actual character. And the conversation just . . . grew. Natasha's piercing observation was the first line I thought of, and the scene built from there. Now it's awkward! \o/

Quote:
Hm, I haven't really thought that Steven will be the CEO after his father retires from the many times I played the Hoenn games. I do believe that Steven doesn't want to take over the company. He probably mentions that in the games, but it's been a while since I last played it, haha.
I don't actually think he does mention it, from memory (been a while for me too=p). It's funny, though. The thing with canon characters like Steven is that you just have to ask these questions. Does he have siblings? What was his childhood like? Is he expected to follow in his father's footsteps?

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Ack, short review because not too much going on here, but the chapter is still good. XD Again, can't wait for the next chapter!
also ilu for reviewing. Next chapter should be . . . Wednesday/Thursday, I think I said?
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Old April 25th, 2011, 06:52 PM
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Cliffhanger! *fistshake* Oh, you are a master of those with this fic, aren't you? You tease us so and leave us hanging.

Having Roxanne meet Ren and Tasha at the station was a nice touch. It made the conversation that happened seem more likely to happen, since the characters knew one another from before.

Wonder about the sudden change in Natasha's and Roxanne's mood at the Devon Corporation was about.

Noticed that

Quote:
“You're twelve years old now, but you still act like a little kid!Would it kill you to grow up just a little bit?”
You missed the spacing between sentences here.

Your cliffhanger has me waiting for the next chapter so we can finally see what all this is about. And did I hear "G-G-G-Genre shift"?
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Old April 25th, 2011, 07:02 PM
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Cliffhanger! *fistshake* Oh, you are a master of those with this fic, aren't you? You tease us so and leave us hanging.
Bet you thought you were gonna find out what Steven wanted this chapter.

Quote:
Having Roxanne meet Ren and Tasha at the station was a nice touch. It made the conversation that happened seem more likely to happen, since the characters knew one another from before.
That was my other motivation. XP Glad to know it seemed a bit more natural.

Quote:
Wonder about the sudden change in Natasha's and Roxanne's mood at the Devon Corporation was about.
OHOHOHO where is that gif I posted before

Quote:
Noticed that


You missed the spacing between sentences here.
Ah, thank you. Curse of the Justified alignment. *fixes*

Quote:
Your cliffhanger has me waiting for the next chapter so we can finally see what all this is about. And did I hear "G-G-G-Genre shift"?
Weeeell . . . not so much 'genre shift' as 'we-were-in-this-genre-all-along-I-just-didn't-tell-you'. I'm so bad. I probably should foreshadow it a bit more. :/
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Old April 26th, 2011, 10:31 AM
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I wanted to smack my face in utter sadness at the end of the newest chapter. Stupid cliffhanger. Good way to end a chapter though. :D I really want the next chapter to be posted so I can read what happens. :D

I love all the questions Ren asks himself. It's interesting to read his "inner turmoil". Natasha is a great character and I hope she appears more often. (She's hilarious.) I didn't catch much spelling and grammar wise.
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Old April 27th, 2011, 12:09 PM
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El Mundo de los Sueños


“Why do you think we hold the Ever Grande Conference, Ren?” Steven asked at length.

Ren frowned. He would have thought that the answer to that question was simple. “Uh . . . to find out who's the strongest Trainer in Hoenn?” he ventured.

“Yes,” Steven agreed, “but at the same time, it's far more than that.”

“What . . . what exactly do you mean by that?”

Steven took a deep breath and interlaced his fingers in front of him on the table, staring at them intently as if expecting them to answer for him. “What if I were to say to you, Ren . . . that there is a hidden factor determining how successful each person is as a Trainer?”

“I'd say you were mad,” Ren said. “Sounds like one of those crazy video games where you don't know how anything's calculated – it just does it for you.”

“Not so much,” Steven said. “There's no math involved. Just . . . power, if you will.”

“Power? What kind of power?” Ren felt himself being drawn in, despite his skepticism. Steven was making a face that was far too serious to doubt.

“That's just it. That's why this is so hard to explain. I . . . don't exactly know, Ren. But every Trainer – no, every person in this world has a measure of this power within them. I suppose you could call it a spiritual power, because it has nothing to do with physical strength or mental acuity. Sometimes you get muscle-headed imbeciles with huge reserves of this power; other times, the exact opposite. I'm at a loss as to which factors affect a person's spiritual power.” He paused, as if waiting for Ren to react.

“Sounds . . . confusing,” Ren offered, unwilling to give away too much of what he was thinking. A multitude of possibilities, explanations and worries were running through his mind at high speed, but he didn't feel like letting Steven be privy to them just yet. “So what does this power have to do with the Ever Grande Conference?”

“People will tell you that factors like age, experience, discipline, and the like determine who becomes a Champion, Ren. This is not true, and I am sure you, of all people, will be able to appreciate that. You came into this position at the age of just fourteen. By all rights, there is no way you should have been able to become Champion now. Yet you did.”

“I did,” Ren agreed. “But surely those things do matter, right? I mean, you get to be the Champion with a lot of hard work! It doesn't just . . . happen.”

Steven inclined his head. “You're right. It doesn't 'just happen'. And there is some truth in what you say – things like how long you have trained with your Pokemon, research into your opponent's strengths and weaknesses, and your strategy in battle do make a difference.”

“But that's not what you just said,” Ren pointed out.

“Perhaps I am going in circles a little,” Steven admitted. “What I mean is that while these factors play a large part in determining the winner of a Pokemon battle, that part is nowhere near as large as some would have you believe. What makes up the difference is something in here.” He tapped his chest with his left index finger.

Ren looked at him askance. “What . . . you mean, like, friendship or something? I thought that was the kind of stuff that happened in kids' TV shows?”

Steven shook his head. “No, Ren. Nothing so intransient or idealistic. What I speak of is this spiritual power that resides within everyone. Imagine, if you will, a scale. The scale reads one to ten. Each human being is placed somewhere on that scale, and that number, to a certain extent, determines their success as a Pokemon Trainer, should they choose to follow that path. Of course, the scale is completely hypothetical – there is no way of measuring this power. I consider myself to stand at about nine point three, but this is only a rough estimate. And again, like I said before, you can have something else contributing to your success. Somebody with a 'score' of eight or higher might lack the willpower to persevere in their goals. They might not be quite quick enough to make the split-second decisions that are required to make or break a Pokemon battle. Do you follow what I'm saying, Ren?”

“Yeah, I think so,” Ren said, nodding his head slowly. “In other words, whether we're going to be a good Pokemon Trainer or not . . . is predetermined?”

“To an extent, yes,” Steven admitted. “I've thought long and hard about the philosophical ramifications of this, and I would greatly enjoy discussing that with you, but here is not the place. Back to the point: each person has this power, and their Pokemon will react to it accordingly.”

“The Pokemon can sense this power?” Ren asked, surprised. “So, what . . . they see that their Trainer has this power and work harder?

“Not as such. Perhaps it would make more sense if I compared your Pokemon to plants. A plant, in normal soil – say, in your backyard – will grow well, provided it is cared for. You can make it grow higher by watering it regularly, keeping pests away from it, and protecting it from harsh wind and rain. Pokemon are much the same. You look after them, care for them, train them, and they will grow strong. Are you with me so far?”

Ren nodded. “Makes sense, I guess. I never really thought of it like that, but . . . Pokemon are a lot like plants, aren't they? And I don't mean just the Grass-types-”

“Focus!” Steven said sharply. “Now, tell me what happens if you decide to grow your plant in, say, the vicinity of Mount Chimney?”

“It . . . grows better?”

“Because?”

“Because of . . . the minerals in the soil, or something? It's been a while since I read any books on Geography.”

“Right. In other words, your plant will grow bigger because its environment is more conducive to growth. Provided you then water it properly and so on like you do its counterpart in your garden, it will turn out much larger and healthier, even though you treated it the same. Do you understand now?”

Suddenly, Ren did, although he was still having trouble attaching any form of credence to Steven's story. “Yeah . . . if a Pokemon's Trainer has a high level of – what did you call it? – spiritual power, it's like growing the plant in volcanic soil, right? And then it gets stronger more easily, yeah?”

“Correct!” Steven exclaimed, beaming. “I didn't really expect you to catch on so quickly, I'll admit. Not that I think you're slow, or anything like that, but I am unused to dealing with those younger than me.”

“No hard feelings,” said Ren, offering Steven a half-smile. “But I'm still taking everything you say with a pinch of salt, I'm afraid.”

“That's to be expected. I would begin to doubt the wisdom of telling you this if you believed it all instantly. However, I do have proof to back up what I'm saying, which I will show you soon enough. All I desired was to ensure you did not panic when faced with that evidence,” Steven said darkly.

Ren said nothing. What Steven said sounded crazy, yes, but he couldn't help believing him just a little bit. Steven Stone was not the sort of person to play jokes; Ren had gathered as much from the few encounters he had had with the man.

“Very well. In any case . . . this all leads back to the Ever Grande Conference. This contest is held annually in order to discover the person in each region who has the highest spiritual power. This has been going on for many decades, and there is a very good reason behind it, but that will become apparent soon enough. What is important is that you have defeated me, Ren. Do you understand what that means?”

Ren's eyes widened involuntarily. All throughout Steven's explanation, he had completely forgotten to apply what had been said to himself. He slapped himself mentally for the oversight. Steven had been trying to tell him something the whole time, and he had missed it completely.

“Yes, Ren. It means that you are currently the person in the Hoenn region with the highest spiritual power. You are the most volcanic of the volcanic soil, if that makes any sense. The legacy of the Hoenn League is now yours.”

“Was this all some elaborate way of handing over the Championship?” Ren asked, suddenly confused again.

“Essentially, yes, but it was not for any idle purpose that I explained all of this to you. For now, I believe, we are done, actually. Unless you have any further questions?”

“Hundreds,” Ren said.

“Many of them will have to wait,” Steven said, “but go ahead. I will answer as best I can.”

“Why is this important? For now, I'll take your word that I won the Championship because of this 'spiritual power'. Why is it so important that the Champion is someone with high spiritual power?”

“I think you are still mistaking the purpose of the League,” Steven said, smiling. “The Pokemon League was founded in order to find the strongest person in the region, for a very specific purpose. It was never to find the strongest for the sake of knowing who the strongest was. The annual boxing tournament is held to discover the best boxer in Hoenn. The biennial Dewford Surfing Extravaganza is held to find out who can ride the best wave. The Pokemon League is held so that Hoenn has a Champion. And Hoenn needs a Champion, Ren. They need the strongest Champion they can get, and at the moment, that's you.”

“Why?”

“That, Ren, is what must be explained later. Take this.” From inside his shirt, Steven fished out a small, silver pendant, which he unclasped from around his neck and handed to Ren.

Ren examined it closely. It hung on a silver chain as fine as thread, a chain that looked like it should break if he touched it. The chain pooled gently in his hand, cautiously supporting the emblem that sat atop it. Attached to the chain by a single, delicate ring, it was about the size of Ren's thumbnail, carved intricately into the likeness of a cloud. Or was it a puff of smoke? The shape seemed to billow and flicker as he looked upon it, although when he blinked, hard, and looked at it again, he was quite sure that it was motionless. “What . . . is this?”

“It is the Dreamlight,” Steven said solemnly. “It must remain around your neck at all times now, Champion.”

“Looks awfully fragile,” Ren said worriedly as he drew out the gossamer-like chain and looped it around his neck, bringing the tiny, delicate clasp around to the front so he could see it while he tied it. Suddenly, he paused. “Why do I have to wear this?”

“It is a symbol that you are the Champion,” Steven said, “and to all who may ask, it is nothing more than this! Do you understand?” he pressed.

Ren nodded. “But . . . it's something more?” he ventured.

“Yes, of course. It is what will guide you to a further explanation. I have told you all that I am permitted to tell you for now. For the rest of the story, all you need to do is go to sleep any time after sundown.”

“Go . . . to sleep?” Ren asked skeptically as he did the clasp up and settled the Dreamlight beneath his shirt. It felt cold against his skin, but pleasantly so. “What does that have to do with anything?”

Steven shook his head. “Sadly, I may say no more. When you go to sleep tonight, you must wear the Dreamlight. This will lead you to your answers.”

Ren closed his eyes for a moment before standing up and pacing around the room, looking at the barren walls and featureless ceiling. “I don't like it,” he said eventually. “I don't like it at all. You want to know why I don't like it? Because it sounds like a fantasy. Something I'd read in a book. Normally, that would be cool, but . . . you telling me this suggests one of two things.”

“Firstly, I'm pulling your leg,” Steven supplied, examining one of the fingers on his left hand. “Secondly, there's something huge going on that you can't comprehend. In either case, you feel threatened. If I'm making fun of you, then the joke is on you, and nobody likes that. You fear ending up as the fool. If, on the other hand, I am telling the truth, you instantly find yourself far out of your depth, facing the unknown, and that is what you fear most. Am I right?”

“Exactly,” said Ren. “I don't get how, but you're right.”

“It's not too hard,” said Steven, abruptly standing and crossing the room to stand directly in front of Ren. Gripping the boy by the shoulders, he looked him straight in the eye and said, “Because that's exactly what went through my head when I was told about this six years ago.”

Ren shuddered deeply. Something in Steven's light blue eyes worried him. He couldn't explain what it was, but there was no doubt that it was nothing good. Steven apparently felt the tremor, as he gave Ren a comforting pat on the shoulder before he released him.

“Tell you what. We've still got some time, and there's no sense talking about this any more. Let's go and find something to do in Rustboro for the afternoon.”

“But . . . I have more questions!” Ren protested.

“No, you don't. Ask them to . . . well, the person who will explain the rest of this to you.”

“But you haven't even told me who that is!”

“It doesn't matter. You will meet them tonight. I told you – all you have to do is go to sleep with the Dreamlight on. For now, difficult though it may seem, I'm going to have to ask you to put everything I have just said out of your mind.”

“What? You want me to . . . just forget about it?”

“Essentially, yes.”

“What was the point of telling me in the first place, then?”

“I told you,” Steven said. “It's so that you don't panic when the truth is revealed.”

“Why don't you just tell me?” Ren asked, his left hand involuntarily balling into a fist. “Wouldn't that be the sensible thing?”

“It is . . . forbidden.” Steven looked down at the floor.

“Forbidden? Who forbade it?” Ren ground his teeth slightly. This is getting ridiculous.

“I . . . can't tell you that, either,” Steven said. “Can you please just do as I ask? This is difficult for me also.”

“Fine,” Ren said in disgust, folding his arms. “If you're going to be too bloody-minded to just tell me what's going on, then whatever.”

“Excellent,” said Steven, pointedly ignoring Ren's petulant frown. “And although I hardly feel you need to be reminded of this, everything that was said in this room remains here. You must not speak of it to anybody else unless I say so. Understood?”

Ren nodded. Who would he tell, anyway? It sounded like a load of rubbish, anyway. Spiritual power? Who did Steven think he was kidding? But still, it didn't make sense if Steven was joking. After all, why would he? There was no good reason for him to, and that was the fact that Ren could not deny. He only wished Steven would answer his questions a bit more directly.

“In that case, let us return to the library and collect your cousin,” Steven said, unlocking the door. “I imagine she will be pleased enough to be liberated from my sister's dreary company.”

“She didn't seem that dreary to me,” Ren said as he followed Steven out of the meeting room.

“Oh, she is, I'm afraid,” Steven said wearily. “Of course, I wouldn't ever say it to her face, but spending time with her is . . . taxing.”

“How so?”

“She likes her books, Katrina. She doesn't do people well. It's hard to explain, but . . . having her in the room immediately puts something of a damper on one's mood. It's like she emanates waves of 'I don't want to be here, I don't want to talk to you' that rub off on everyone else.”

“That's not very nice,” Ren frowned. And this is the girl studying anthropology? he wondered. “She can't be all that bad, surely?”

“Oh, don't get me wrong,” Steven said. “I'm very fond of her. But I wouldn't really want to spend too much time with her.”

Ren didn't say anything. What could he have said to that?

“Katrina!” Steven said brightly, pushing open the library door. “We're done!”

“Oh, hello, Steven,” Katrina's voice said from somewhere among the shelves. “We're over here, by the biographies.”

Steven raised his eyebrows at Ren, then tilted his head to indicate that they should both go. The pair made their way carefully through the hazardous-looking maze of loaded bookshelves until they finally spotted Natasha and Katrina, sitting cross-legged on the floor amongst a multitude of books.

“You didn't take as long as you said you were going to,” Katrina said, raising her eyebrows. “I don't think it's even been half an hour yet.”

“No, you're right,” Steven said, “but nonetheless, we have finished our . . . business.”

“Well, that's all right. I'll see you around some other time, Natasha,” Katrina smiled.

Natasha looked up at Ren curiously. “Why are you back so fast? I was having fun!”

Ren smiled. “We finished talking about what we needed to, so we're done. Come on, let's not bother Katrina any more than we have to.”

“Oh, it's no trouble, really,” Katrina said, waving a hand airily. “She's a remarkably intelligent child.”

“Can't I stay a bit longer?” Natasha begged.

“Actually, if Katrina doesn't mind, that works out perfectly,” said Steven. “Ren and I have somewhere else to be, and if you want to stay here for another couple of hours, I don't see an issue with that.”

“Somewhere else to be?” Ren said blankly. “Like where?”

“Did I not mention it? You and I are appearing on tonight's Hoenn Buzz to be interviewed.”

“No!” Ren exclaimed. “You did not mention that! And I want nothing to do with it!” he fumed. It was bad enough that people had to recognise him wherever he went, but any measure of anonymity he might have retained would surely be destroyed if he appeared on primetime television.

“I'm afraid you don't have a choice,” Steven said. “I made the arrangements this morning and they've been hyping it all day via advertisements. Two Champions on TV together is not something that happens often, and you're not getting out of it.”

“You can't just go ahead and make decisions like that on your own! I don't want to be on TV!”

Steven gritted his teeth. “Newsflash, Ren: you're going to have to get used to it. The Champion is a media personality as much as he is anything else.” As if suddenly noticing that Natasha and Katrina were still listening, wide-eyed, from their position on the floor, he inclined his head to them politely. “My apologies. Ren and I will be leaving now. We will return later this evening to collect his cousin.” With that, he wheeled and strode from the library, leaving Ren to follow him reluctantly.

Once the door to the library had closed, Ren stepped in front of Steven and glared at him. “What the hell are you playing at?” he hissed. “I can't do this! I don't want to do this!”

Steven's mouth remained set in a firm line. “You have no choice in the matter. It is your responsibility as a Champion to be accessible to the people of Hoenn, and you have to learn to do that whether you like it or not. I'll give you a hint – it's a lot easier if you like it.”

“Steven, I can't! It's not like I can't walk down the street for fear of being recognised or anything, but this is just going too far.”

“You're not getting out of it,” Steven said adamantly. “Now come on. It's already four o'clock, and we need to be there for five thirty.”

Reluctantly, Ren followed Steven towards the lift, his heart sinking.



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Originally Posted by First Snow View Post
I wanted to smack my face in utter sadness at the end of the newest chapter. Stupid cliffhanger. Good way to end a chapter though. :D I really want the next chapter to be posted so I can read what happens. :D

I love all the questions Ren asks himself. It's interesting to read his "inner turmoil". Natasha is a great character and I hope she appears more often. (She's hilarious.) I didn't catch much spelling and grammar wise.
Sweet as. Thanks for reading! Have another cliffhanger! Well, sort of.
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  #23    
Old April 27th, 2011, 06:23 PM
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Hm, interesting info about this "spiritual power" and I'm also curious about this Dreamlight too. The spiritual powers makes sense somewhat with the characters keep saying they feel a special bond between you and the Pokemon when playing the games. It did get kind of repetitive with Ren keep wanting to know more about it and Steven keep saying he can't say anything more about it, though.

Quote:
Once the door to the library had closed, Ren stepped in front of Steven and glared at him. “What the hell are you playing at?” he hissed. “I can't do this! I don't want to do this!”

Steven's mouth remained set in a firm line. “You have no choice in the matter. It is your responsibility as a Champion to be accessible to the people of Hoenn, and you have to learn to do that whether you like it or not. I'll give you a hint – it's a lot easier if you like it.”
This part makes me think there's more to that than Ren have to be "accessible" to everyone at Hoenn. Hm...

Chapter ended not really with a cliffhanger but with more questions that need answers, which is just as annoying to the reader. XD Looking forward to more developments of this story!
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Old April 27th, 2011, 08:16 PM
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Hm, that spiritual power reminded me of something like it in the book I'm reading. Still, it's great to see something like that in a Pokemon fic. Like Bay said, it makes sense, since the games go on about the connection between the player and their Pokemon, and the player is only a young person. So it's interesting to see how an author explains that.

Wonder what the Dreamlight is about, and if that has anything to do with the "mood" the other characters were put in when they entered the Devon building. Looking forward to seeing just what Ren learns later tonight.

I do like that Ren was told (and forced) by Steven to enter the public's eye. Thinking that there's more of a reason why he needs to do so. And I wonder how else the spiritual power will come into play.
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Old April 30th, 2011, 04:09 AM
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OK, a bit more's happening now. Sorry for making you read what's essentially three chapters of dialogue. I'm gonna break form here and promise that 'sh*t gets real', as they say, across chapters five and six, which are waiting in the wings with seven and eight, all written up and ready to go at my whim.

Oh, and thanks for reviewing, guys! I'm not ignoring you, I promise.
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It did get kind of repetitive with Ren keep wanting to know more about it and Steven keep saying he can't say anything more about it, though.
I did have trouble getting this scene to flow naturally, actually. :x Hope to remedy it sometime. Maybe when I have a buffer of a few chaptersOH WAIT I DO. XP



Televisión


Downstairs, Steven ushered the still-fuming Ren into a car not unlike the one that had brought him to Devon Corp. This time, however, Roxanne was nowhere to be seen. The car ride was silent, frostily so. Ren spent the journey looking moodily out the tinted window as Steven looked on, a slight twist of amusement in the set of his lips.

When the car finally rolled to a stop, Ren stepped out unwillingly. On the other side of the pavement stood a low metal fence, painted green, beyond which stretched a picturesque expanse of grass, dotted with trees and patches of flowers arranged in seemingly random patterns. Under a tree some distance into the park, people were dashing around frantically, setting up a table, chairs and an enormous array of cameras, microphones and portable computers. Leads were being run from the site to a van parked near where Ren was standing, and in the midst of it all was standing a man Ren recognised instantly: Richard Andrews, the host of Hoenn Buzz.

Steven stepped over the fence and beckoned Ren to do the same. As they approached the hubbub, Ren examined the man who he had seen so many times on television, interviewing hapless celebrities and smarmy politicians for the whole Hoenn region to see. Richard Andrews was a tall man with a healthy crop of black hair, tied back in a short ponytail. His skin was a dark olive tone, bringing out his green eyes and white teeth. As the two Trainers approached, Andrews was engaged in conversation with a very pretty young lady who looked vaguely familiar to Ren.

As Steven and Ren drew near, Andrews noticed them and strode towards them, beaming, with arms wide. He embraced Steven like an old friend. “Steven Stone, you old rascal! It's been a while since I had you on the show.”

“Only since last year's Conference,” Steven said, smiling. Ren was slightly taken aback by his genuineness as he slapped Andrews on the back.

“Far too long, old buddy! Far too long,” Andrews said jovially, releasing Steven and approaching Ren. Ren instinctively took half a step back; he hadn't realised quite how tall Andrews was on television. The man was well over six feet tall. “This must be Mr. Goodwin, then?”

Ren nodded, before finding his voice. “Yes, Mr Andrews. Nice to meet you.”

Andrews guffawed loudly, slapping Ren on the back with such force that he just about fell over. “You hear this kid? 'Mr Andrews'? Ha! You call me Richard, kid – everyone does! And I mean that.”

“All right . . . Richard,” Ren said, swallowing. It felt strange to be in the presence of such a recognisable figure.

“Good stuff! And it's a damn fine pleasure to meet you too, kid! Say, s'all good if I call you Ren, right?” Richard put out his hand, grinning.

Ren took it cautiously and just about had his arm pulled off as Richard shook it energetically. “That's fine,” he said quietly.

“Right on! Now, if you'll excuse me, folks, I have to go make a phone call. Back in just a minute!” With that, he saluted Steven with two fingers and jogged off towards the van.

Ren blinked, quite overwhelmed. It was as if a hurricane had just torn through the area, leaving just as quickly as it had appeared.

Steven chuckled and patted Ren on the shoulder. “You get used to him soon enough,” he said. “He's a good man, Richard. He's not just friendly because he's on TV all the time. That's just how he is with everybody.”

“Really? He was certainly . . . energetic,” Ren said. Now that Richard had moved on, he remembered where he was. The show was due to go live in little more than an hour.

“That's one word for it,” Steven agreed. He seemed a little more cheerful than before.

“Steven Stone,” said a teasing voice from Ren's left. “Are you going to keep ignoring me?”

The speaker turned out to be the attractive young woman Richard had been talking to when they arrived. She was tall and slim, with gently tanned skin and deep blue eyes. Her brown hair barely touched her shoulders, exhibiting tasteful blonde highlights. Steven smiled and kissed her on the cheek. “Bella! So nice to see you! It's been a while.”

“Hasn't it just? You must've been so busy lately! What have you been up to?”

“Ah, I'm sure you've heard,” Steven said, scratching his head. “I was busy losing my title to this gentleman here. Ren, meet Bella Bianchi, singer, actress and a good friend of mine.”

“Nice to meet you,” Ren said, nodding politely. He didn't feel up to cheek-kissing. He probably wouldn't be able to reach, in any case. “I . . . do believe I've heard of you.”

“I would be surprised if you hadn't,” Steven said. “Bella is one of the most prolific actors this year, for starters.”

“Oh, come on, Steven. You can't expect everybody to know me!” Bella laughed. “But yes, that's me. Since I've had my introduction stolen from me, I'll have to settle for hearing yours.” Her voice carried a slightly foreign lilt, pleasing to the ear.

“I'm . . . Ren Goodwin. Hoenn League Champion.” With a start, Ren realised that it was the first time he had introduced himself with his new title. It felt strange, like it wasn't quite part of him yet.

“So I take it you're on the show tonight as well?” Steven addressed Bella.

Ren blinked, but quickly realised he was intruding. Nodding to Bella, he removed himself slightly and dropped onto a park bench, out of the way of the setup for the show. Already, he could see a few curious bystanders gathering around the border of the park. Hoenn Buzz was filmed with a live audience, no matter where it was broadcast from, he remembered. The thought of sitting in front of such a large group of people as the Champion was quite frightening; he had thought that being televised would be bad enough.

Yawning, Ren pushed his hands through his hair, messing it up even further. Although it wasn't as if he'd been up at the crack of dawn, it had still been a tiring day. He hoped he'd get to sleep before too long.

The Dreamlight was still cold against Ren's chest as he cast his mind back to his conversation with Steven. It had been pushed aside by the whirl of activity in the last forty-five minutes or so, but now it returned in full force, bringing with it all the confusion it had had before, and then some. Steven obviously expected something to happen when he went to sleep that night, but what, he had no idea. The only clue he had was the name of the pendant resting just below his collarbone – the Dreamlight. Was he going to have a dream? But that wouldn't tell him anything, surely. In his experience, dreams were notoriously unreliable informants. The last dream Ren remembered having was the one with the Glameow with an afro. The feline Pokemon had led him through a maze of candy canes and lollipops before finally turning on him and trying to eat him.

Yeah. Dreams don't make sense. They don't mean anything. What had Steven been talking about? As much as he hated the prospect, he was forced to resign himself to the fact that he was just going to have to suck it up and wait. He knew that it would nag at him all evening, but at the same time he knew that he had more pressing troubles to deal with. TV . . . I don't want to be on TV.

Ren wasn't a shy person by nature. He knew that. There was still, however, something painfully intimidating about exposing himself in such a way. Ever since he had become the Champion, he had suddenly become recognisable. It was only his third day holding the position, but the strain was already starting to become too much.

Was it a bad idea after all? Becoming the Champion had been a glittering, golden dream for years, always hovering at the edge of his consciousness, tempting and enticing him. But now that he had actually achieved it . . . was it actually worth it?

Ren saw no change in the future. If anything, it would get worse and worse. He was the Champion, and the Champion, as Steven had said, was as much a media personality as he was anything else. He would have to keep doing this. He would keep appearing on TV, and on the radio, and in newspapers. Sure, perhaps the hype would die down after a while, but it would always be there. He wouldn't be able to go out in public without being accosted by someone who recognised him, and he didn't think he could deal with that.

“Are you all right, Ren?” said a voice near his right ear. Ren jumped, his heart pounding.

“Jeez!” he exclaimed. “Don't do that!”

“Ah, I'm sorry.” It was Bella Bianchi, Steven's movie star friend. “Were you thinking about something important? Should I leave?”

“A . . . little,” Ren said. “And it's fine. I just wasn't paying attention.”

“You seem a little distracted,” Bella said, leaning back on the bench and stretching. Ren noticed that despite her impending TV appearance, she was dressed relatively casually, in a golden, sparkly top and black jeans. “Are you feeling all right?”

“I . . . what makes you think there's something wrong with me?” Ren didn't think that he had been looking particularly out of it. In fact, he had made sure to keep his face carefully neutral just to avoid this exact discussion with anyone who happened to pass by.

Bella smiled gently. “Ren, I've made a career out of putting on different faces at will and pretending to feel emotions I don't feel. After a while, it's not too hard to tell when someone else is doing the same.”

“Oh,” Ren said blankly. Glancing around, he added, “Where's Steven?”

“He's talking with Richard about the show,” Bella said. She snapped her fingers playfully in front of Ren's face. “But hey! Stop trying to distract me. What's wrong with you? There's obviously something.”

Ren took a deep breath, trying to decide how to put it into words, and indeed, whether he even should. He'd only just met Bella, and he wasn't sure if he wanted to burden her with his problems. Still, it'd be nice to tell someone other than Steven, he reasoned. He couldn't rely on the ex-Champion for sympathy. “I suppose . . . it's just that I'm not used to all of this,” he said, waving his hand at the milieu of TV cameras and rapidly growing group of curious members of the public.

“It's the same for everyone who comes into some kind of fame,” Bella said. “It's especially hard for those who become famous overnight.”

“I can imagine that,” Ren said. “Still, that doesn't make it any easier to swallow now. I still feel so lost when somebody stops me and says 'Hey, you're that new Champion kid!' I just start to panic . . .”

“I see,” said Bella, tapping her chin with a manicured finger. “Tell me . . . how do you deal with it at the moment?”

“Well, it's only happened a few times so far,” Ren said. “Mostly I just smile and try to get away from them as quickly as I can without being rude. If they want an autograph or something, I'll sign it, but it's just hard to not freak out.”

“When I started getting a bit more well-known, it was much the same for me. Soon, though, I realised that I couldn't just run away from everybody.”

“I know that!” Ren said, pinching the bridge of his nose. “But still, when I think about getting up on TV and talking to Richard . . . it makes me feel sick.”

“Haven't you done some of this already? Interviews and such, I mean?”

“Well, yeah,” Ren admitted. “But it was just with reporters, or for five minutes on a radio talk show. Then there was that one press conference, but Steven did all the talking there. It was bad, but . . . this is something else. This is TV. This is everybody.”

“That's what Richard's job is, though. He understands how you feel about this, and he'll make it easy for you. He'll start off with some easy questions, and then build it up a little bit at a time. He's really good at making people feel comfortable when they're in the chair. And Steven will be there with you as well, I understand. He won't leave you high and dry.”

“It's not like I have stage fright or anything! Or . . . at least, I don't think so. It's more . . . the concept of it that bothers me. A little voice in my head is sitting there and asking 'Do these people really have nothing better to do than fawn over someone they saw on TV?'. I know it's horrible, but it's really bothering me. I feel like . . . I'm being turned into an object. Like I'm not going to be a person any longer if I keep it up. Do you know what I mean?”

Bella nodded slowly. “I think I actually do see now. And it makes it easier, if anything. When people are just scared of being in the public eye, it can take ages to get over. I've seen it in other people in my line of work. But when your problem is that loss of individuality . . . well, it's a far more serious problem with a far simpler solution.”

“Really? There's something I can do?” Ren asked eagerly.

She laughed lightly. “Yep. All you have to do is give it a little while. It might sound hard, but just go with it for a few weeks. Throw yourself into every challenge you come up against, heart and soul. That way, you don't forget who you are. Your problem is that you've let what you think other people think about you affect what you actually think about yourself.”

“I . . . don't follow,” Ren said, blinking. “What I think . . . what?”

“Maybe that was a bit confusing,” Bella admitted. “Basically, what I mean is that you're not looking at people's impressions of you. You're making assumptions based on what they say to you, and that's colouring your impression of how they view you. To them, you're still a person, even if you're a strange one. A kid as the Champion? It hasn't happened for a while, so naturally you're a fascination. But you're not an object. OK?”

Ren wished it was. “I see what you mean, but . . . I doubt it'll make a difference. I mean, I'll try, but . . . I'm somehow not convinced. I'm sorry.”

“No worries. All you have to do is keep thinking about it, OK? I think you can get over this really easily. I won't push you, but just think about it, yeah?”

“. . . Yeah. Thanks, Bella.”

“Aha!” she said triumphantly, standing up and tapping him on the nose. “Gotcha!”

“Huh? What? What did I do?”

“You called me by my name,” she said happily. “You hadn't done that yet!”

“Ah . . . didn't I? I'm sorry.”

“Oh, stop apologising for everything, Ren,” she said. “You're going to get all wrinkly if you keep frowning like that.”

“Um . . . sor- I mean – I see. All right.” Stretching, he stood up and took a deep breath. Although the air was cool, the sun was still quite high, showing through the buildings, dead west along the main street.

“Smile!” Bella said brightly. “I know you can, and you're not going to have any fun tonight if you keep worrying.”

Ren tried to draw his lips into some semblance of a grin, but it still felt unnatural and a bit awkward. “You're being awfully nice to me,” he said. “Why's that?”

“You looked down. What more reason do I need?” Bella smiled and spun around on the spot, looking up at the sky. “I think you and I could be friends, Ren. What do you think?”

“I . . . think that could be nice,” said Ren, and with the admission came a realisation. It had been a long time since he'd had anyone he could call a friend. Sure, he had met hundreds of Trainers on his quest to become Champion. Some of them had been bad sorts, others good. Some had travelled together with him for a period of time, but that couldn't last forever. Friends had come and gone over the last five years, but none with any permanence had appeared. “I'd like that.”

***

“Hey, hey, Hoenn! This is your man Richard Andrews and this . . . is Hoenn Buzz! Tonight, we're coming to you live from the picturesque Rustboro City, and man, have I got a lineup for you! First up on the show tonight we have Hoenn's favourite diva, the star of the upcoming blockbuster One Flew Over the Swellow's Nest. She also has three singles in this week's Top 40, including one that's charting in Johto and Unova as well. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you . . . Bella Bianchi!”

Ren watched in awe as Bella strode confidently in front of the cameras, laughing and waving as if the audience were old friends. She seemed so natural, so at home, as Richard stood up and bowed dramatically. She took her seat on one of the large red chairs set up next to Richard's desk, and the interview began – except that it didn't so much feel like an interview as it did a casual conversation.

She was masterful. Bella Bianchi played the scene with ease and grace, laughing at Richard's jokes and keeping the momentum going for the full fifteen minutes she was on the stage. When she finally left, blowing a cheeky kiss towards the cameras, the audience applauded wildly. “Game face on!” she whispered in Ren's ear as she passed. His mind was blank as he vaguely registered what Richard was saying.

“We're going to break for commercials now, ladies and gentlemen, but don't go anywhere, because right after this, I am bringing you Steven Stone – until recently, the Hoenn League Champion – and the gentleman who toppled him from that position, Ren Goodwin!” After the cameras cut out, Richard bounded out from behind his desk and hustled over to where Steven and Ren were waiting, out of the cameras' range. “All ready to go, guys?”

Steven nodded. “I'm ready.” He seemed completely unfazed. “Ren?”

Ren took a deep, shaky breath. “I th- yeah. Yeah, I'm ready.”

“Jeez, don't blow me away with your enthusiasm, guys!” Richard laughed. “Nah, I'm just screwing with ya. Let's get this on. I'll cue you on after the introduction, alright?” With that, he hurried back to his desk again.

It was a quarter to six, and the sun was starting to creep towards the horizon, but the orange-tinged rays were still falling straight down the main street, offering plenty of light, and technicians were standing by with extra lighting just in case. The two red chairs were adjusted, and the producer counted down the seconds until the show went live again. The cameras started rolling again, and at a cue Ren couldn't see, the audience rose to their feet, applauding enthusiastically as Richard took a deep breath and shuffled his papers before finally opening his mouth to speak.
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Last edited by Misheard Whisper; May 2nd, 2011 at 11:08 PM.
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