December 14th, 2011 (7:17 PM). Edited December 14th, 2011 by SuperTrainStationH.
This is a reboot of a project I began working on elsewhere on the web. I started it because I've gotten extremely positive and warm responses to earlier short works and have been asked to attempt a longer work, so here it is.
This story concerns a unique setting incorporating elements of the Pokémon games, animé, the real world, and my own daydreams. Mild swearing is to be expected, but no major language "bombs".
I'd like to approach this in the manner of an OVA in that the chapters may not come frequently or at predictable intervals, but I do intend for them to be high quality and be posted reasonably often. It may take a while, but it is my intent to tell this story, sooner or later.
Constructive criticism is of course always welcome, and I thank you in advance should any come my way.
And of course feedback and constructive criticism is always welcome.
Thank you for checking out my thread, and if you read my story I hope you enjoy it and thank you for giving me a chance.
Technical details including maps and illustrations concerning elements of the story can be found at the bottom contained in a spoiler box in a manner similar to Bobandbill's Pokémon Colosseum Retelling.
Wind and Rain
The Stormy Story of Team Cyclone
Cruise Elroy loved his Pokémon, loved the Munia region, and loved to fly.
Upon the back of his Flygon, he reveled in all these wonders at once.
Few things can bring a human and a Pokémon closer than the trust exchanged when soaring through the sky together. Cruise hung on right as he always did, feeling his Flygon’s heart motoring as her crooning wings slipped through the air.
From this height, Cruise could behold the full glory of his native region of Munia, which stretched east of Unova like a colossal, forked tail into the Atlantic Ocean. Munia and eastern Unova were contiguous, and together formed one great, long, island, whose irregular shape resembled a gigantic fish Pokémon.
Flying was always a pleasure, for Cruise and his Flygon both. Years passed, but the delight and novelty of flying never wore thin.
Today’s flight however, was more than just a joyride. This was work. This was survival as Cruise and his Flygon, Sophia, then knew it. For they were both star players of the Arverna Cyclones, and Cruise and Sophia’s talent and tactics helped turn Arverna City from an obscure town on the far side of Undella Bay into the home of the most lucrative and successful team in the North American Air Polo League.
Cruise and his Flygon, as they did routinely, had flown out to sea, south of the Munian mainland, and trained ceaselessly.
Flying sports were a tricky thing to practice for. A field one day was a field on any day, but the sky was always full of surprises. The temperature of the air, the position of the moon, sheer randomness itself, could make the sky a joy to maneuver through, or a tricky, trap laden, terror.
All that risk and difficulty was just when flying in an open sky. Air Polo was played with two teams of six Pokémon and their riders, and in close proximity, all struggling to stay aloft and not crash disastrously as they zipped and zoomed to capture and defend the ball, and to score goals.
To complicate things, in professional Air Polo, the flying Pokémon were blindfolded throughout the match. It was up to the player and their Pokémon to understand each other so the pair could act as one, while also being at unity with the rest of the team.
So Cruise and Sophia trained constantly. Both with the rest of the team, and on their own, as they were now.
“Sophia and I like to fly over the water off Munia’s south coast.” Cruise said in an interview with Pokésports Illustrated, in which he and his famous Flygon were the cover story.
“Every weekend we’ll head out and train till the sun goes down. I like training over the ocean because having nowhere to land encourages us to keep in the air no matter what. It’s too far for me to swim to shore at that distance and I don’t have any water Pokémon that can ferry me to the beach, so the pressure is always on Sophie to be strong enough to get us both home safely, even when she’s exhausted.”
Since that issue was published, Cruise sometimes found himself being watched by boaters with binoculars and video cameras, loitering for a glimpse of the famous Cruise Elroy and Sophia practicing. A search for his own name on YouTube made Cruise aware of numerous fan-filmed training videos made by boaters and beach-goers.
But today the spectators were thankfully absent, and the occasional yacht en route from Castelia to the forked east end of Munia didn’t seem interested in him at all, so he and Sophia could practice in peace.
Cruise’s Flygon wasn’t blindfolded now of course. There was no need for that away from the stadium and with no umpire present. Cruise however, could see through his augmented reality flight goggles what his Pokémon could not.
A course of polygonal rings was hung in the sky, which he was to guide Sophia through in the fastest time possible to sharpen their agility and response time to unexpected twist and turns. He could even see a virtual “ghost” of himself and his Flygon, a visual cue for his previous attempt that he could compete against.
Cruise’s friend, Chase, had funded the development of this training tool himself, and the Arverna Cyclones were the only Air Polo team with the benefit of practicing with it. The enitre team had improved significantly in just a few months time, and once Cruise mastered this final course, set at the highest level of difficulty, he would casually skip into the office of Chase’s R&D team, and request that they program a more intense course into the device.
Chase had bet Cruise ten bucks he wouldn’t be able to beat the hardest course on the AR Trainer by summer’s end. Just a few seconds faster, and Cruise would be owed a trip to White Castle. They were so close. The sun was setting behind the mainland, but just a half hour’s more training would do it.
Cruise directed Sophia by shifting his weight slightly from his perch on the Flygon’s upper back. He could steer her in any direction like this, and specify the necessary speed, all without his Pokémon needing to see a thing. It was an intricate language that had developed between flyers and their Pokémon, and that it took the form of an embrace reflected the closeness between them.
Sophia reared back suddenly, treading the air, for a moment flapping her wings more like a bird than like a dragonfly.
“Woah girl, watch it!” Cruise hung on with no difficulty. Short stops were a fact of life for an Air Polo player, but something startled Sophie, and a Flygon as rugged and fearless as her was hard to startle.
Something was amiss.
Sophia went into a slow, shallow glide, carefully testing the air around her, and listening. Cruise was doing the same. They had been flying east the moment they were startled, and the moment Sophia reared up, the westerly breeze that defined that day abruptly halted, like someone had flipped a switch and shut off the wind in an instant.
Then came the sound of aircraft engines.
The sound was so abrupt and near that Cruise and Sophia turned sharply and ducked the other way. They both swore they could feel the sucking force of nearby jet engines, and the displaced air made Sophia stumble through the air a bit.
Flying away from the source of the noise and turbulence, Sophia and Cruise looked all around, and pryingly listened.
They had a near miss with an airplane before. Years back when Cruise was younger and less experienced, he carelessly guided Sophia into the approach corridor for Nuvema Airfield.
That near death experience, and the fines incurred by it, remained fresh in Cruise’s mind and wallet.
But there was no sign of Undella Bay along the coast. They were too far east and too far out to sea to be in the approach path of that famous seaplane base.
Cruise and Sophia looked all around. There was no sign of any aircraft nearby, no telltale shadow cast in the water. Whatever was making that muffled jet engine roar seemed to be standing completely still somewhere, and thankfully the sound was growing fainter as Cruise and Sophia glided cautiously away from it.
“Wow, what was that?” Cruise asked aloud. The Flygon shrugged. She craned her long neck around to look back and see if whatever was making that aircraft sound was visible from a distance.
In doing so Sophia saw a flash of red and turquoise closing in from Nine O’ Clock.
Sophia corkscrewed around in the direction the turquoise streak had traveled.
“A Salamence. That’s odd. Think we got another psycho fan on our hands?”
Though Cruise’s fans were generally well behaved, there been incidents in which overzealous fans had tried to “participate” in Cruise and Sophia’s training sessions. It was rare, but it did sometimes happen.
Sophia gave a little chuff and shrugged her shoulders to say, “Who knows?”.
The Salamence swooped around and soared toward Cruise and Sophia again, this time with a ball of light forming in its open, roaring mouth, pointed directly at them.
“What? An attack?” The human and Flygon both uttered at once in their own tongues. The Hyper Beam missed, but it’s heat seared the air around them so completely they thought they had been directly hit.
“Woah,” Cruise secured himself around his mount as she flew evasively away out of Salamence’s immediate range. “what the hell was that all about?”
Flocks of Wingull or other small flying types would sometimes try to play with Sophia, but a huge dragon looking for a battle over the ocean in these parts was unheard of.
“That Salamence must belong to someone Sophie, let’s investigate.”
The Flygon grunted in agreement.
They knew they had a decent amount of time before the Salamence could fire another Hyper Beam or any other sort of attack, so Cruise and Sophia felt reasonably safe. Sophie and the Salamence were gliding toward each other, almost leisurely, which was surely deliberate on behalf of the Salamence, being one of the fastest flying-type Pokémon in the world.
Cruise ignored the display on his AR goggles, which were now informing him of how outrageously off course he had gone and that he failed to beat his record, and studied the other dragon as it, and it’s rider, drew near and became discernible.
Salamence’s rider was sporting a dark duster coat and maroon gloves and boots. Though a visor concealed the rider’s eyes she was evidently female, her silver hair rustled by the flapping of her Pokémon’s wings as she coolly watched Cruise and his Flygon approach just barely a wing’s length away.
“Hey, what the heck’s your problem, lady?” Cruise shouted, the two dragons treading the air adjacent each other.
“This is J to mothership Macheath. Target Flygon sighted, it’s runtier than we expected, a mid-size case will do, prepare to deploy case and receive target. Acquiring now.” The woman spoke into her headset.
Sophia and Cruise had heard more than enough and took to fleeing the Salamence and its rider before the operator on the other end of J’s radio could say, “Yes, Sir!”
“Some kind of Pokémon thief huh? Holy crap.” Cruise was thinking too fast to speak, and the wind was rushing past him so fiercely as Sophia fled the pursuing Hunter that he wouldn’t have been able to hear himself anyway.
Cruise was scared. He forgot what being truly scared was like it had been so long. It wasn’t scared like before the start of a match, or scared of whatever rumors the tabloids might spread about him next. This was real danger, and for the first time in his life, he couldn’t just fly away and deal with it on his own terms.
But Cruise was familiar with Salamences. He had flown alongside them in Air Polo matches, and fought against them, with Sophie’s eyes covered no less. He and his Flygon had dealt with scarier Pokémon in the past than that Salamence. This would be nothing.
Except that Sophia was already exhausted. Cruise had thought of heading inland an hour ago, and now the Flygon had barely enough strength to make fly to the shore at normal speed, let alone engage in aerial combat with a powerful dragon-type like Salamence that meant them serious harm.
Draco Meteor, Fire Blast, Dragon Claw, Hyper Beam. All powerful, and all now equally useless and impossible for Sophia to use in her weakened state. Salamence was strong, and able, and was gaining, with a second Hyper Beam charing in its jaws.
Cruise glanced back in time to see the beam roast the air to his left. Sophia banked to dodge, and the Salamence corrected in turn, chasing the Flygon ninety degrees toward Three O’ Clock, parallel to the coast.
Cruise and Sophia daren’t look back now, but over the whipping and flapping of the air in their ears and their thumping, fear-struck hearts they could hear the distinct sound of another energy attack charging from behind.
“Here comes Dragon Pulse!” Cruise wrapped himself tighter around his Flygon than he ever had before. Sophia didn’t need a cue from her rider to increase her speed as fast as her weary wings could propel her. A Dragon Pulse at this range would knock Cruise and Sophia both from the sky.
The Dragon Pulse erupted like a bomb. Sophia and Cruise braced themselves as best they could. It came and went in an instant, and they were still flying, just scarcely out of the attack’s useful range.
J drew near again, from Seven O’ Clock this time, and Cruise and Sophia steered away from them as best they could. The Hunter was closing in, closer, closer, too close to avoid whatever attack came next.
And Salamence, with J holding on tight, broke clean away, racing at high speed still, but perpendicular to Cruise and Sophia. A clear path to the shore was directly before them.
“Now’s our chance, let’s go!”
The shore was far off, but if they could just make it close enough for the Coast Guard to notice them, they’d be safe, and the Pokémon Hunter would surely call off her pursuit and cut her losses.
Darn there not being any boats out with spectators spying on him today to call the authorities. The forecast correctly predicted rough waters, and the pleasure boats were mostly tied up today.
J was close, her Salamence on a curved trajectory, gliding with intent to eventually intercept, but leaving an opening available though which they could reach northward enough to have a slim chance of rescue.
Sophia went into a rapid, shallow descent, collecting precious speed every second. The heads-up-display of Cruise’s goggles tracked the acceleration. Sixty miles per hour, sixty-five, seventy, seventy-five...
Sophia and Cruise struck an invisible wall, and fell.
The Flygon didn’t know what hit her. She was unconscious before she even cleared the bottom of the airship, whose invisibility device had been disrupted by the ballistic impact of Cruise and his Pokémon against its hull.
Cruise was dazed, bruised, and with more injuries than the total of his extreme sports career had given him combined, but the pain was nothing now so consumed he was by adrenaline.
His brain was so severely rattled by the brutal crash into the invisible, strategically positioned airship, that everything now had a dream-like nature to it.
Cruise had drifted too far from the unconscious Sophia to reach her now. Just the force of the wind as gravity dragged him downward was too much for his smashed, weakened body to fight against, and he fell, just as limp and useless as his Flygon.
J, in a bullet-like pose, caught up with Cruise in freefall.
“Go, Ariados! Tie him up with String Shot” The Hunter threw a Pokéball concealed beneath her duster, and the long legged Pokémon instantiated from a beam of red light, obeying her mistress without delay and tying Cruise’s arms and legs with spider silk.
Cruise watched as J aimed her gauntlet-like weapon toward his helpless Flygon, and fired a small energy projectile which froze Sophia into a state resembling a bronze statue.
At the same moment the Salamence swooped gracefully beneath J’s feet, catching Ariados on his back as well, with the immobile Cruise hanging from a length of silk still gripped in the gigantic spider Pokémon’s mandibles, leaving all his belongings and Pokéballs to fall into the ocean.
“Target secured. Prepare for transfer to mothership and get us out of here before we’re spotted.”
A disk shaped platform deployed from the big, gray airship, catching the frozen Flygon as swiftly as Salamence had caught J. A glass dome solidified above the platform, making it into a perverted display case for the Pokémon Hunter’s latest trophy.
The case, bearing the frozen and encapsulated Pokémon, rose into the air under it’s own direction, into an open hatch in the airship, which conveyed Sophia deep within the gigantic craft.
“Target on board Sir! Mission accomplished!” The operator confirmed to his boss via radio.
“Good. Now get the Macheath out to sea ASAP before they’re witnesses, and don’t you dare take a lunch break until you get that cloaking device back online.”
“Yes, Sir. You’re clear to come aboard Sir. Shall we prepare the brig for the prisoner sir?”
“No need. He’s not coming with us. I’ll dump him when we’re further out east. Call our client as soon as you’re out of range mainland surveillance and tell him we have his Flygon. Tell him we’ll accept payment in gold only, he’s a known counterfeiter and I’ll stand for none of his trickery.”
“Yes Sir! Any further orders, Sir?”
“Ill have a brief word with the target’s Trainer before I come aboard. My dinner better be ready and piping hot by then.”
“Yes, Sir, right away Sir!”
Hunter J’s airship, Macheath, was already drifting steadily out into the ocean, with J on her Salamence keeping pace alongside. The coast of Munia and the surrounding mainland became an indistinct abstraction on the horizon.
Cruise’s adrenaline petered off. Not that he wasn’t in a state of complete panic, but his body just couldn’t maintain that alertness hormone another moment, and the sudden adrenaline crash wiped him as severely as the literal crash into J’s ship.
The pain and weakness grew vivid throughout his body, and he felt like a broken, bleeding, bag of shattered bones and damaged organs that would have fallen apart if not for the cocoon Ariados had wrapped around him while they were in freefall.
Ariados craned the constrained Cruise onto Salamence’s back, where J towered above him, sneering viciously.
Cruise felt like he was drowning as he gurgled for breath through his damaged lungs. He was too busy attempting to breathe to speak, or to struggle against the silken restraints. Yet somehow he kept eye contact with J, as though trying to find some comfort in the last human face he was ever going to see.
“Blame this on your big mouth and predictable habits.” Said the Pokemon Hunter.
“You announce to the world where you’ll be, and at what time, all alone with your helpless, tuggered out, world famous Flygon, and then act surprised when I show up on behalf of my client.
“I admit, it was a pleasure studying up on your routine, reading your magazine interviews where you give it all away but your address and phone number, watching your matches on the Kodai Sports Network to get a feel for you and your Flygon’s bad flight habits, and waiting for a day with rough waters and no gawkers out spying on you in their boats, as I had been doing these last several weeks.
“I knew I’d have you like a puppet on a string when the time came, but even I didn’t expect it would be so easy to steer you directly into the side of my cloaked airship, especially after you had clearly noticed it thanks to the incompetence of my crew. Your survival instincts are so weak you must have wanted this to happen.”
Cruise grimaced, but on his blood soaked, tortured face it scarcely made a difference.
“I normally don’t take such rash risks by damaging my client’s merchandise during capture, but this client, as it happens, isn’t looking for a world class flyer. No, he doesn’t care if your Flygon ever takes to the sky again. He just wants an egg laying machine to produce world class offspring for him to sell to the highest bidder, namely the owner of the Driftveil Icemen, who I hear is sorely indebted and sick of losing to your Arverna Cyclones.
“With you out the picture, I say his odds have already improved dramatically. I hate to say it, but you’re not a bad flier at all. Good thing the Cyclones were just a sports team. If you bunch had been competing with me, I just might have had to watch my back.”
Cruise mustered all his strength, and rolled over. He didn’t want to see J’s face again.
“Well, we’re far enough out to sea that I doubt your body will wash ashore.”
Pokémon Hunter J, with her high-heeled boot, shoved Cruise overboard, returned Ariados to its Pokéball, and boarded her flying pirate ship, Macheath.
In the twilight, Cruise Elroy fell, and fell, and fell, too numb to think or feel, as though he were already dead; until he struck the ocean at terminal velocity, and his world went completely black, and cold.
December 17th, 2011 (8:38 PM). Edited December 17th, 2011 by SuperTrainStationH.
“I’m dead. My life is over. I’m nothing. My Flygon will be someone’s slave for however long she lives, and my other Pokémon will be trapped in their Balls forever.
“I ruined their lives and lost my own, because I was too naive and weak to keep us safe. There’s nothing I can do but feel sorry and ashamed of myself, and wait for nothing, for eternity.
“The fact that I lived was meaningless.”
If Cruise had been buried so deep beneath the earth that no light or sound could penetrate, and crushed under so much weight that he were compressed into nothingness, and entombed within stone so unyieldingly frigid and numbing that there was nothing to be felt but the very lack of feeling, he would think of that as heaven compared to this.
“There’s no such place as paradise. You just die, and then there’s nothing. Nothing for my Flygon, nothing for my Typhlosion, or my Flaaffy, or my Quagsire, or my Drifblim, or my Deerling.
“They’ll all just wait endlessly for me to rescue them, and then they’ll die, and they’ll be sorry and dead in this senseless underworld, just like their pathetic, dead, Trainer.”
Cruise’s existence was a grim distortion. It was being asleep for days and weeks, unable to dream, thinking only unhappy thoughts. A thought could last a day, last a week, last a year, or a year could pass without a single thought at all. And he ebbed indefinitely between regretful condemnations, and sullen blankness.
Time passed. Time didn’t pass. Cruise’s time was over, and now time was all he had. Time went on, and on, and on.
“Life is ugly, painful, and short.”
And from beyond the darkness, a voice answered, “Life is beautiful.”
“Life is a waste of everything. No matter how much good you do, or how much love you give, it’s all a waste, it all just dies like everything else.”
“Life is wicked and painful. Nothing is worth living for, and death is worse than anything.”
“I’m not tormenting you. I want save you, Amos.”
“Who are you to use the name only my parents called me by? Who are you to step in and save me now that I’ve lost everything?”
“You’re still alive, Amos. And you’re surrounded by love. You have everything. Can you not feel it?”
Like a glimmer of sunlight penetrating deep into the black, cold sea, Cruise felt pain.
“No! Get away from me! I’d rather rot here forever than feel anything again! Find someone important to save. The world doesn’t need me.”
“The world needs you, Amos. The world hungers for you and all the love you have to spread across it.”
“Liar. You know nothing about life, or love, or pain, or death. If you did, you’d have better things to do than to mess with me.”
“How would you know?”
“I’ll show you.”
Light shone into Cruise, and he vanished.
Cruise opened his eyes. He was an Eevee, laying in the lap of his dearest friend in the world. They were nestled together in a field of daisies, and he was happier than he had ever been in his life. The sun was shining, and the sky was blue and cloudless.
The girl, Lucia, stroked the Eevee’s head, her little fingers gently kneading his scalp between his big, fuzzy ears.
“Awake at last, Edgar?” Her voice was music to the small, brown Pokémon.
The day flicked through the Eevee’s memory in vivid glimpses, of chasing Beautiflies, of picking berries, of lunchtime, and then of that long, blissful, nap with the life-giving sunglow pouring over the Pokémon and his human both.
Edgar the Eevee disembarked from Lucia’s lap and yawned mightily as she ran her hand from his head to his tail, and then leaned over and hugged him. His whiskers prickled her cheek, and he licked her face.
Lucia laughed, and touched the tip of her nose to the Eevee’s.
“I love you too Edgar.” The child said from the bottom of her heart.
That was all it took. The Eevee had heard those words innumerous times, but today, right now, was moment the young Pokémon was mature enough to truly understand their enormity. In this state of perfect happiness, those words awoken something within him, and Edgar began to evolve.
The sun shone through him like he had no body, and was just a spirit standing amongst the daisies. It swept the little Eevee off his paws and embraced him like a parent would a child, and laid a kiss upon his forehead, where a red gem appeared.
Through the gem Edgar saw the world awash in new colors. Not new shades of old colors, but new colors beyond what his eyes could detect. Edgar saw the colors of intention, of ambition, of life, and of spirit.
And most brilliant and complex of them all, surrounding Edgar and his beloved human, was the color of love.
Edgar sensed what his new eye perceived like nothing he had ever sensed before. It was a completely new experience, and the sensation of that child’s innocent, tender love pulled him to her like gravity.
The Eevee was so consumed with simply being held to Lucia’s breast that he didn’t feel himself being molded like clay as his body transformed. Edgar’s legs lengthened beneath him, his body elongated, his short bushy tail grew slender and whip-like, with a forked end.
Edgar grew, bigger, and stronger as he evolved, but most of all he grew closer to Lucia. Through his new eye he could see her joy, see straight into her soul, see himself through her eyes as he felt her arms around him.
He saw the beauty Lucia saw in him, and felt the softness of his new, velvety coat of fur beneath her hands like they were his own.
Where once Edgar was brown like earth and autumn leaves, he now was pale periwinkle from his snout to the tips of his tail. Lavender-blue, the color of kingship and authority softened and merged with the color of the abundant, fruitful ocean and the endless, beautiful sky.
Periwinkle, the color not of a lordly ruler, but of a tender, brotherly, protector. The color of a prince, selected not by birthright, but by the heart of the one who chose him, amongst all others, to keep her shadow warm, and watch over her until the end of time. The one whose love for him was so complete and absolute that it transformed him, body and soul, into her very own, her dearest, faithful, loyal, Espeon.
Cruise was back in the dark, back to being cold, back to being empty.
“I see in you what I saw in that girl the day her love transformed me. They are so many in this world in need of the love you’ve yet to give.
“Please come with me, Amos. If you give up now, your Pokémon will have nothing to live for. If you give up, they’ll all suffer and die for nothing. However, if you fight, there’s still hope you’ll reunite, and know each other’s warmth again someday.”
Cruise felt nearer to his wrecked body than he had in an eternity. Pain broke through the darkness. But there was heat nearby as well, and light. Pale lavender light glistening with an awesome intelligence.
Time passed, and passed, and passed.
“I don’t want to give up.”
“I knew you didn’t.”
Cruise felt as though he were rising, like something was wrapped around him and lifting him up through the depths of his own despair, until he was again at the surface, fully conscious, in vivid awareness of his own inescapable pain, but for now, sleeping peacefully, and for the first time in weeks, dreaming.
February 4th, 2012 (4:50 PM). Edited February 4th, 2012 by SuperTrainStationH.
Cruise woke up. It was dark, and quiet. He hadn’t opened his eyes yet. He was laying in a bed. Most of his body hurt, but not as much as before. There was pain in all his limbs, but all his limbs at least were still attached, or so it felt. And his heart was beating. There was a sweet taste upon his tongue, but he was too drowsy to think of what it was.
But breathing still cost so much strength, and so much pain, that Cruise quickly fell asleep again.
The sun now shown on Cruise’s face. Morning sun. Starlys and Taillows were singing outside the window.
Cruise’s curiosity got the better of his continued weariness, and he opened his eyes.
When they adjusted to the light beaming in from the window just above him, Cruise found that he was staring at a rustic looking wooden wall.
He flipped himself over to investigate.
“Ow! Good gravy!” Cruise groaned loudly, voice faltered like a broken horn as it made sound for the first time since he was on Sophia’s back.
A man old enough to be Cruise’s father hurried into the room, astounded. A chubby Grovyle bumbled in after him.
“He’s awake! He’s awakened! Don’t move, stay still young man! You’re nearly healed, you’ll undo weeks of progress!”
“Nearly healed? I feel like I got spat out a wood chipper! Where is this? Who are you?”
Cruise tried to sit up, but was nailed back to the bed by more pain, and swiftly silenced.
“Stay still, please! You’ll hurt yourself! Michael, go find Miss Clarene and bring her here, quickly!”
The pain made Cruise gasp, and inhaling deeply hurt as well, and the combined effect was panic, which caused more pain still. Michael the Grovyle dashed out the door to find Clarene as the man began to lose his cool and panic along with Cruise.
And a pulse of calm emanated though the room. It didn’t ease Cruise’s pain, but it quieted him and the man at his bedside.
“I’m Alexander. I’ve been looking after you. Please stay quiet and I’ll explain everything. You turned up on the beach two months ago. A school of Alomomola carried you to shore and my little girl’s Pokémon found you and summoned help. You’ve been recovering here ever since.”
Cruise stared at the log ceiling for a minute, and laid with his eyes closed a minute longer.
“Thank you. Where is this place?”
“This is the home I built for my family. The village doctor, Miss Clarene, has visited you here every day. In fact for the first several weeks she and her Shuckle rarely left your side, but It’s Edgar whose watched over you night and day like a guardian angel. Clarene says you wouldn’t have stood a chance if it weren’t for him.”
Cruise perked up.
“My daughter’s Pokémon. He’s been right up under you all this time. Get up Edgar, your patient wants to see your face.”
The Pokémon, who had been laying curled up and out of Cruise’s sight at the foot of the bed rose, his forked tail tall and erect as he stretched silently, and then approached the bedside, joining Alexander.
Cruise turned his head carefully to look upon the Espeon for the very first time. Cruise was not this Pokémon’s friend, he didn’t love him, they had no history together and had yet to even touch each other. And because of this, when Cruise looked into Edgar’s eyes, for the first time he experienced pure gratitude, unadulterated by any other thought or feeling.
“You saved my life.”
The sunlight shone in the Espeon’s dark amethyst eyes and for an instant, reflected a burst of profound emotion into Cruise. It wasn’t happiness, or love, but simply care.
“Darn right that Espeon saved your life.” Said Clarene the Doctor as she entered. She was wearing a handwoven cobalt blue dress and was accompanied by a Shuckle. Over her shoulder was a sack rattling every step with clay and glass jars and bottles clinking against each other.
“Edgar’s pumped your lungs for you using telekinesis for weeks nonstop till you finally began breathing on your own again. He’s also used that same power to keep all your fractures in place so they could heal without me having to encase you in casts and splints from head to toe.”
Cruise gazed at Edgar as a flood of foggy memories resurfaced, of something like a warm hand upon his chest, working his lungs for him while he was in submerged in darkness.
“We’ve all done what we can to care for you, but make no mistake, the fact of your survival is solely thanks to Edgar. This Espeon has dedicated himself to you like I’ve seldom seen a Pokémon do before, especially to a perfect stranger.” The Doctor explained as she mixed the contents of several bottles into the Shuckle’s shell.
“Yeah. I know. Edgar came into my dream and spoke to me and begged me to not to quit. He showed me a vision of the day he evolved too.” Cruise recalled for the very first time. “And that little girl that was with him, Lucia’s her name right? Isn’t Edgar her Pokémon? Where is she?”
“She’s gone now. It’s been an honor for us all helping to save your life. Excuse me.” Cruise’s host left the room quickly, suppressing a sob as he crossed the threshold and vanished somewhere indoors with his Grovyle.
Clarene, the Shuckle, Cruise, and Edgar were together, and the room was quiet.
“Forgive Alexander. His daughter perished a week before you washed ashore. The whole village was concerned with how that poor man and his Grovyle were coping with the loss, not to mention Edgar here. Lucia and Edgar were quite inseparable. Since the burial they all shut themselves in and scarcely showed their faces until Edgar discovered you.
“I can’t imagine how you ended up here, but looking after you gave this family something constructive boost their spirits. They needed someone to care for in place of Lucia. You may have saved them as much as they helped save you.”
Cruise had nothing to say, he just watched as the Doctor, with a dowel, stirred the contents of the Shuckle’s shell.
Edgar was laying on the floor beside Cruise. Though out of the patient’s sight, he needn’t be seen seen or heard for his aura of care, poise, and deep reaching weariness to be felt.
The Shuckle tipped herself over and poured the juice within her shell into a wooden cup Clarene held up to the opening.
“Here, open up and drink this. Don’t bother moving.”
Cruise opened his mouth, and the Doctor poured in a few drops at a time, and gave him a chance to swallow.
“This is awesome.” Cruise said after his final mouthful. “This is the best drink I’ve ever had.”
“Well don’t get used to it. The berries for this elixir are worth their weight in gold on this island, your muscles would have severely atrophied without them, though it also helped that you were pretty well toned to start with.”
“Wait? Where am I anyway?”
“This place is called Far Island. You surely never knew of it before. A few hundred of us live here in a pair of villages, but beyond that the island is wild and free. We’ve lived here for centuries perfecting our own way of life with our Pokémon companions and largely ignoring the world beyond. This island is concealed from most outsiders by special magic.” Clarene explained.
Cruise gathered his thoughts, gathered his breath as well as he could, and on an exhale, carefully asked; “So how did I end up here? I’m a total stranger, I never even heard of this place.”
“Pokémon brought you here when they saw you were in danger. Pokémon born here are the only ones who can guide humans to or from this island, and not that things are perfect here, but the Alomomola wouldn’t have brought you here if they didn’t see something good in you.”
“Oh. Pokémon saved me from drowning after I fell! I’ve been here for months haven’t I?” Though Cruise had heard this all before it only now had truly registered.
“Yes, you have. Pokémon have saved you in numerous ways these last two months. They’ve saved you from drowning, they’ve summoned me to care for you, they’ve kept you in a coma to hide you from your pain, they’ve given you food, medicine and comfort, and helped feed them to you when you couldn’t feed yourself.
“They’ve helped me help you. If it were only up to my abilities, I would have had nothing to do but to pray and hope you somehow recovered. The Alomomola, and this Espeon, and my Shuckle, and Alexander’s Grovyle, and many others, have all worked together to save your life. Now -”
Clarene pulled a tiny vial from her sack containing a teaspoon of clear syrup.
“You should sleep. Your body still needs rest and your fractures aren’t fully set yet. Edgar is still helping to hold your bones together, and you won’t be fit for much else but bed rest for a week or two yet. So take this and have a nice, long, nap.”
“Alright, sure. But what’s your name? Whoever you are, thank you. Thank you and that man and all the Pokémon.”
“My name is Clarene. And what is yours?”
“Cruise. Cruise Elroy. Well really it’s Amos, but Edgar knows that already.” He said, and opened his mouth so the doctor could pour the syrup in. It was sweet, but mellow, and the taste filled his mouth long after the tiny dose had been consumed.
“Sleep well for now Cruise. I’m off to comfort Alexander. Edgar and Oonaakani will keep you company for now. I’ll speak to you again later.”
Before Cruise was alone with the two Pokémon for a minute, he was already asleep.
Beside Cruise’s bed, Edgar the Espeon laid curled up comfortably, his body still, and his eyes shut. Oonaakani the Shuckle sat nearby with her forelimbs crossed while she waited for her human to return.
“Congratulations Edgar. The castaway’s awakened and he owes it all to you. You saved his life for sure. You’re a hero.” She whispered.
“I’m not a hero, Oonaakani.” The Espeon said, his voice so soft and precise that it seemed to bypass his tongue and come straight from his mind, though this was not telepathy.
“If I never found Amos, I’d have wasted away pining over Lucia months ago. Keeping that man alive is the only reason I have to keep living. In him I see the beauty I lived to savor in Lucia. If I can re-unite Amos with his Pokémon, Lucia won’t have died in vain for me. Assisting Amos is my debt to Lucia.”
“Well Edgar, I know you’ve been working hard helping Amos non-stop, but you can’t expect to be useful if you don’t stop starving yourself.”
The Espeon finally raised his head and opened his eyes.
“I’m not starving myself.” He said, seriously, but calmly. “I’ve been fasting.”
“Yeah, I know, until Amos regains consciousness. Well now he has. Please eat something. Even Sun Pokémon can’t live off sunlight forever.”
Edgar blinked and shifted slightly, as though he had just been jostled out of a trance.
“I’m not hungry yet. However I am becoming thirsty.”
“Finally.” The Shuckle opened the bag the Doctor left on the floor beside her, picked up an empty clay flask in her mouth, and very carefully held it to one of the holes in her shell as she tipped her self over enough to fill it with berry juice.
Oonaakani scooted closer to Edgar, who using his forked tail as a grasping limb, took the flask and poured it into his mouth. His throat was sore and tender from having swallowed very little food or drink these last many days, but juice was delicious.
“Thank you Oonaakani.” The Espeon said as the juice landed in his empty stomach.
“Any time Edgar.” The Shuckle said, and took the flask in her mouth and returned it to the Doctor’s bag just as she re-entered the room.
“Let’s go Oona,” She said quietly. “Alexander’s as alright as he’s going to be at the moment, and there’s a sick Glalie in the other village waiting for our help.”
Clarene knelt down to pick up her bag and came to be at eye level with Edgar. She gentled the velvety fur between his ears, and the Espeon whined softly, remembering how long it had been since a human petted him like that.
“You are good Edgar, you are so brilliantly good.”
And the Doctor and her Shuckle left Edgar and Cruise alone, closing the door carefully behind them.
The sun shone powerfully through the window, and though the sun’s light meant energy and strength, its nourishing warmth for now lulled the Espeon to sleep, where dreamlessly, he kept his concentration on helping Amos mend.
February 27th, 2012 (1:38 PM).
Well. I started reading this earlier and by the time I'd got to the end it seemed like something completely different. It's... bizarre, but charming; this story gives me a weird sort of satisfaction. I'm not complaining - I like something a little different - but it was quite surprising to go from somewhere that sounds very much like the real world to somewhere where there is 'special magic'.
One thing I want to ask about is whether the Flygon is called Sophie or Sophia. You use both almost interchangeably; I wondered whether she was called Sophia but Cruise called her Sophie for short, but couldn't quite work it out. Whatever the case, it seems like it needs to be made clearer.
Another minor point, but this:
as her crooning wings slipped through the air.
is a bit odd. Crooning wings? I get what you're trying to do - you want a sense of the sound the wings make as they hum through the air - but I don't really think 'crooning' is the best word for the job here. It's really only ever used in reference to someone singing, and it immediately makes the reader stop and go 'What?' if they see it anywhere else.
Third minor point. This is a pretty forced simile:
whose irregular shape resembled a gigantic fish Pokémon.
Seriously, why not just say it resembles a gigantic fish? The sentence is more elegant, it doesn't sound as forced - and if you call Pokémon that resemble fish 'fish Pokémon', then you presumably know what a fish actually is. So we can assume Cruise knows what a fish is, and yet chooses to use a weird, forced simile rather than the most natural one. Just because it's a Pokémon story doesn't mean that every last detail needs to be focused on Pokémon.
I have two more minor points, and then I'll have to move on to the big one that I've been putting off.
you were pretty well toned to start with.”
If Far Island is as remote as they claim it to be, then the people who live there probably don't speak like their contemporaries on the mainland. They probably have an accent (although you could do away with that) and at least a few dialectal terms, if not a whole dialect or even language of their own. At the very least, they shouldn't be using slang words like 'toned'; I sincerely doubt they'll ever have heard of them.
This island is concealed from most outsiders by special magic.”
Is magic commonplace in this world? If not, Cruise's reaction seems a little too understated to me; I see how you could read it as one of disbelief, but I think he would probably actually say something about the fact that this person just told him the island is protected by magic.
OK. I can't avoid it any more; time for the big one. Here goes: I wasn't at all convinced by Chapter Two. The way you present Cruise's emotions seems way too simplistic and even out of character at times. I mean, this:
“I’m dead. My life is over. I’m nothing. My Flygon will be someone’s slave for however long she lives, and my other Pokémon will be trapped in their Balls forever.
“I ruined their lives and lost my own, because I was too naive and weak to keep us safe. There’s nothing I can do but feel sorry and ashamed of myself, and wait for nothing, for eternity.
just doesn't seem adequately 'Cruise', as it were. There's no fight there at all; sure, he might be in the blackest depths of despair - but there doesn't seem to be enough emotion in his voice, enough depth of feeling, to convince us that he really is in existential torment. Part of it is because he just states things as in those first two paragraphs, where it would be so much more effective to have the thoughts played out over a longer period of time, perhaps through memories and a more involved conversation with Edgar.
I won't go on about it, because the more I type now the guiltier I feel about criticism, and I'm probably being too harsh anyway. But I really think that Chapter Two needs some real work to bring Cruise up to within the limits of believability and, even more importantly, sympathy. If we aren't convinced by him, we can't sympathise, simple as that.
It's a shame, because Chapter One is great, full of mystery and intrigue, and Chapter Three is where things start to get interesting. It's just that the link between them is kind of weak, and it might put readers off continuing.
Oh, I feel so guilty now. I'm going to stop - but please, be aware that in general, this story is good. Bits of it could be better, but it's generally good. Good luck with it and any future endeavours of yours.
The Thinking Man's Guide to Destroying the World * The Rocket Case * The Rocket Revival
Neither Here Nor There * The Beastman * Coriolanus Rowland's Guide to Pokémon Husbandry
Robin Goodfellow's Christmas Carol * Snow * Stranger Than Fiction
My Trip to the End of Time, by Pearl Gideon * A Smell of Petroleum Pervades Throughout
For information about A Grand Day Out, a bizarre short story in video game form, click here.