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Somewhere in Pastoria City wandered a boy.
He was about thirteen, and it was obvious from the way his hair had been hastily pulled around that he wasn’t accustomed to paying much attention to it. Today was important, though! After about six months of wading around Sinnoh in pursuit of Gym Badges he had finally touched base in Pastoria again. Sure he was going to take on Crasher Wake – but that was later.
Family came first.
Frankly, Rodney was amazed he still remembered the way around Pastoria. It had been a while since he had come here last, after all – so long that the residents, normally able to call one another by name, didn’t even recognize him. He didn’t mind it all that much, actually; if someone saw him and scampered back to tell his family, then the whole surprise would be ruined, wouldn’t it?
Rodney gave a little smile at the thought of their faces.
A few seconds later he had his head stuck firmly in the clouds, letting his feet do the walking and not paying much attention to where he was going. It was for this exact reason that he slammed into someone – loudly. The other person made a chirp of surprise and either the collision or the unpleasant ‘thud’ made Rodney snap back to earth. He immediately began spewing out apologies at a breakneck pace.
“Whoa!” said the other guy.
This made Rodney pause. ‘Whoa’? You weren’t supposed to say “whoa” when someone nearly runs you over, you were supposed to recoil or apologize or something…
“Dude! You’re back!” The boy in front of him was beaming ear to ear, blue eyes wide and sparkling happily. There was only one person Rodney knew who could do that, and that was Hamilton Harrison. And lo, here he was, totally ruining Rodney’s secret entrance.
Since it was Ham, though, he couldn’t be mad.
“You caught me,” he chuckled. “Seriously, though, I’m just passing through to fight Crasher Wake.” He saw the expression on his brother’s face and added, “But of course I was going to visit you all!”
“Oh. Well, that’s okay, then.” Hamilton coughed, dusted himself off, and immediately after immersed Rodney in a tight hug.
Not at all expecting this – even though a part of him knew it was totally normal Ham behavior – Rodney took a step back, laughing as he went. “Still no self-control, I see!”
Ham pulled out of the hug and regarded him with a caricature of a serious expression, head ducked down slightly with a heavily bemused frown and raised eyebrow. Rodney mirrored the look, and after a few seconds of stalemate they both burst out laughing.
“The incredible power of imitation returns!” Hamilton pointed out, giggling.
“One does one’s best.” Rodney shrugged. “But… man, it’s good to see you again. You haven’t been bellyaching about me being gone, have you?”
“No,” said Hamilton. “Not really. I mean, I miss you, but yeah…” His speech drifted off as he became focused on another figure, shorter and squatter than both of them, which had just come darting through the crowd and paused obediently at Rodney’s feet. It was a purple and black pig-like Pokémon, with oversized ears and three black gems on its head and chest. The Grumpig paused a second to catch his breath and then noticed who was in front of him.
“Hey!” gasped Hamilton. “Tristan… he evolved!”
“Yes he did,” said Rodney smugly. “Say hi to Ham, Tristan.”
The Grumpig’s eyes lit up immediately and he waved at Hamilton. “Grrra!” chirped the Pokémon in elation, pleased to find that the brother of his Trainer was excited to see him. Hamilton reached out and scratched Tristan behind the ears, making his grin grow only wider. Both of them really seemed to enjoy it, and Rodney took another step back with a pleased smile on his face.
After Hamilton and Tristan had finished catching up with one another, the former turned back to Rodney. “You said you were going to stay here for a while, right?”
“Well, I was thinking two or three days, time to prepare for the battle with—Hey!” Hamilton had grabbed his arm mid-sentence and dashed off in the opposite direction, practically forcing Rodney to follow lest he lose a limb. Tristan scrambled after them.
When Hamilton had finally given Rodney back use of his left arm, the trio had paused in front of an unfamiliar building.
“Okay,” said Rodney. “What is this?”
Hamilton started to look at him strangely, but suddenly seemed to remember something. “Oh! Um, we moved since you left, Rod. There’s a guest room if you want.”
Rodney was slightly put off at being demoted to ‘guest room’, but a second later he remembered that it would certainly take him a while to finish his quest and furnishing a new place for him would just be silly. So he smiled and said, “Alright.” Hamilton practically pranced inside the house, calling loudly and obnoxiously to their father as he did so.
Miles Harrison slowly clopped down the staircase; eleven in the morning was much too early for him to wake up, and if his hyperactive son needed him downstairs then he might as well get some coffee anyway. When he got to the landing and saw the familiar – and utterly odd – hairstyle next to Hamilton’s, all grogginess immediately left his face.
“Kiddo! You’re here!” He swiftly walked over and presented Rodney his second giant bear hug of the day, which he returned happily. They exchanged overjoyed greetings to one another, and when the excitement had died down Rodney looked around.
“Well, the house looks nice so far,” he noted.
“Oh! That’s right,” said Miles. “I guess Hamilton filled you in about the new house?” Rodney nodded in response, and Miles flashed another one of his trademark crooked grins. “Well then I’ll need to take you somewhere to catch up.” He made a gesture for the boys to follow him, and they took a left into a well-lit kitchen. Rodney continued to look around as he sat down, and soon afterward the other two noticed a soft muttering coming from him.
“You’re still doing that?” asked Hamilton.
“Watch it, Hamilton,” warned Miles. “He can’t help it. You know that.”
“Yeah,” continued Hamilton, “but you’d think he would have grown out of it by—” He stopped when he realized Rodney had snapped out of his little muttering trance and was frowning disapprovingly at him.
Hamilton grinned nervously. “Um, sorry. I was just…”
“Nah, it’s alright.” Rodney cut him short. The discussion was shot down there, and there was silence in the room before Rodney turned to his father. “So where’s Mom?”
“Still at work,” he said. The Harrisons had always worked in a very opposite way than the standard family; their mother Lisa was an absolute terror at all things domestic and Miles was practically a prodigy, so Miles was the stay-at-home dad while his wife supported the family. “So… let’s see your Gym Badges, huh?”
“Oh! Sure.” Rodney dove for his backpack, up until then sitting on the ground, and fished out a rather simple-looking wooden case. Unlatching it, he opened it up to display the pieces of metal inside. Miles and Hamilton crowded around it – however, the former’s expression soon turned to one of confusion.
“You… uh… got to the Pokémon League with three Badges?”
There was a pause as Rodney tried to think this sentence through, and after he understood it he burst out laughing. “No, Dad! I’m here to fight Crasher Wake. After that I’ll be on the road again.”
“Ohhhhhhhh.” Miles let out a breath of air. “I see. Here I thought you had beaten the Champion already… never mind that, then!” He laughed. “Good work, son. You’re doing great.”
Rodney smiled. He didn’t get to see his father much nowadays, and getting a Fatherly Statement of Approval in person was a valuable thing to a twelve-year-old. After the moment of basking had passed, he began talking again. “So, Ham said something about a guest room. Can I stay there while I’m in Pastoria?”
“Of course you can!” cheered Miles, breaking out into his lopsided grin again. “It’s all yours, pal.”
He smiled and thanked his father before getting up, obviously intending to head for the guest room. Tristan (previously leaning against the wall to listen in on the conversation unnoticed) popped back into motion to follow him. However, before they could even get out of the room, Hamilton slid in front of the door with his arms outstretched.
“You’re not going anywhere,” he said, “until you show me your team!”
Rodney rolled his green eyes and smiled. “Fine.”
Hamilton smirked and dashed out to the backyard, Rodney having to run just as fast to find his way through the unfamiliar house. Once there, though, he saw something much more familiar lounging on the lawn – a small frog-like Pokémon, navy blue with a few white stripes around it. Upon noticing someone entering his domain, the Croagunk cracked an eye open; when he noticed that the someone belonged to him, it closed again and he continued to doze.
“Oh, come on, Craig! Don’t be that way,” Rodney said jokingly as he walked up to the Pokémon and crouched next to him. Finally, Craig had no choice but to acknowledge Rodney’s existence, and when that happened he sat up slowly and said “Gunk.” before returning to sleep.
“Oh, you’re so kind,” he remarked flatly.
Craig rolled onto his side.
Sufficiently deflated from his run-in with Craig (who didn’t seem to like him at all), Rodney turned around and back to Hamilton. “You wanted to see my team, right?” he asked.
Miles walked out into the yard as well and stood beside Hamilton. They both had their arms crossed expectantly, and their eyes were both trained on Rodney. Without a word Tristan teetered over to stand next to Rodney, and after that a procession of three Pokémon was sent out on a bright red wave of light. The first was a bipedal lizard Pokémon with red scales and a flame on its tail, the second a flying purple scorpion (this one latched itself to Rodney’s arm a second after it was sent out), and the third was a majestic white-furred creature with what looked like a scythe sticking out of its head.
“Well, this is Viola,” began Rodney, holding up his arm with the Gligar attached. “And over there is Vulcan – the Charmeleon – and Whitney – the Absol.” The two Pokémon stared blankly at Miles and Hamilton. Finally Rodney told the creatures, “Guys, this is my family.” With that cleared up, they all chirped greetings to the humans, who returned the sentiments.
A second later, though, Miles seemed to remember something. “…How did you get a Charmander? You didn’t meet Professor Oak, did you?”
“Me? No.” Rodney shook his head. “A guy in Jubilife was giving away Charmander eggs, said he was combating overpopulation in the Charicific Valley. Personally I think he just overbred his own Charizard and didn’t want to handle the eggs, but here he is.” He regarded Vulcan with a laugh; the Charmeleon quickly reverted to his normal emotionless state.
With the deadpan expression having killed his good mood, Rodney gestured with his free arm first to his team, then to Hamilton and Miles. “And now we have all met one another,” he said. “Can I sleep now?”
“It’s too early!” protested Hamilton.
“Yeah, but I’m tired.” With that, he returned everyone except Tristan – whose Pokéball dangled around Rodney’s neck – and walked inside. Tristan, you’ll understand, was a claustrophobic; for that reason, he didn’t at all enjoy dark, enclosed places (including his own Pokéball, hence the whole following-Rodney-around ordeal).
Hamilton turned around and looked after him with a pout, and then turned to his father expecting unrestrained support.
Instead Miles said, “Let him nap, Ham. He’s had a long day.”
When Rodney woke up, it was somewhere around five o’clock in the morning.
After regarding the clock with mild surprise and climbing out of bed, Rodney realized that he was still in his clothes from the previous night. He moaned softly; if there was one thing that got under his father’s skin, it was people sleeping in their clothes. Maybe he wouldn’t notice if Rodney left quietly?
As soon as he took a step, of course, Tristan was awake and standing next to him. Early after the two had began journeying together, the Pokémon had begun to slip unnoticeably into the role of “bodyguard”; due to the claustrophobia that kept him out of his Pokéball, Tristan had found himself having to follow Rodney literally everywhere.
With the Psychic-type now sneaking helpfully behind him, the duo slipped quietly down the staircase. Rodney had assumed that the house was relatively new, and he was right: the wood didn’t creak much at all, and being covered by plush carpeting the whole thing was actually really quiet. After hastily scribbling out a note to leave on the kitchen counter and abducting a few of the less disgusting Berries crammed in various places around the refrigerator, the duo exited without a hitch. The rest of the trip succeeded in a similar manner, and around evening they were walking back the way they came the day before.
Stopping at the entrance to the Valor Lakefront, Rodney and Tristan stopped to rest for a few minutes before walking valiantly through the opening in the trees. When they got to the lake itself, though, it wasn’t until both of them plopped happily at the edge until they noticed him.
‘Him’ was a man of average height and yet managed to be thin as a toothpick, dressed entirely in black. The man was staring at the bottom of the lake, wearing an altogether creepy stare as he gazed into the inky depths. And he stared… and stared… and stared.
Rodney tilted his head with a raised eyebrow.
After a few more seconds of silent gazing into the water, the man in the black cloak stood up from his previous stooped position and dusted himself off. Thus accomplished, the man turned around and walked pleasantly into the trees, disappearing perfectly into the deepening shadow. Within seconds there was a rustling noise from behind Rodney, and he turned around just in time to hop up and out of the trajectory of a human-shaped blob zooming through.
The person skidded to a halt a few feet away from Rodney; he was also dressed in black, though his hair was short and scruffy instead of the slicked-down coating atop the other man’s head. When he turned around Rodney noticed with some unease that he had an X-shaped scar down his cheek; however, it seemed to have not healed properly or something, as the marking was also black. It was not a pleasant addition to his ghostly-pale skin and otherwise youthful face.
The two boys and the Grumpig stared at each other.
“Oh,” said the black-haired boy. He then muttered something in a foreign language and looked around quickly before turning back to Rodney. “Um, you two! Yes, you over there!” He pointed at Trainer and Pokémon, but made no further action before he started talking again. “Have you seen a man in a black cloak run through here?”
“Um, he was looking in the lake,” offered Rodney, looking unsettled.
“Lake. Right.” The boy turned his head to observe the lake in question, then walked over to it and craned his neck over the depths of Lake Valor. He apparently expected to see something interesting in there, but the ever-present layer of Psyducks blocked his view just as much as they did everyone else’s. “…There doesn’t seem to be anything here,” he observed out loud.
“Well,” began Rodney, “there are—”
“No, no, not the wildlife,” muttered the kid irritably. “So… which way did this man go when he left?” His previous irritated state seemed to have evaporated into the air.
Rodney pointed to the trees; the boy followed his finger and muttered yet another string of foreign words that were decidedly not happy-sounding. Thus accomplished, he sighed and returned to English. “Into the trees?”
“Yep. Walked right in and disappeared.”
“Then he could be anywhere!” the boy complained rather loudly. After fuming for a few minutes more, this rather unusual kid seemed to deflate and sat down by the edge of the lake. “Well, he’s definitely gone by now…” He pounded a fist into the grass, obviously irritated at his losing the man’s trail. “…I guess I might as well stay here a bit longer.”
“Why?” asked Rodney, walking over. “Where are you going?”
“Oh. Uh, home.” The boy cleared his throat. “Yeah, home. I was supposed to find him for… um, for a game.”
“He was an adult.”
“Er… older brother?”
Rodney realized quickly after that that this boy was a particularly bad liar, but didn’t say so out loud. Instead he took a glance at his Pokémon, still sitting by the edge of the lake. Tristan seemed to be eyeing the boy suspiciously, which further solidified Rodney’s suspicions that something was being hidden from him; when a pig with the power to shatter minds eyes you suspiciously, then you know something’s going on.
Then he started muttering.
That was the thing about Rodney; at seemingly random intervals, his brain would sort of overload and he would begin saying nonsense under his breath. It was quite disturbing when you weren’t accustomed to it. Hilariously, this boy seemed quite accustomed to it, and merely looked at him strangely instead of flying into the standard-issue panic that usually came out of strangers who were inaquaintanced with his quirkiness.
The boy remained quiet for a few minutes, not exactly sure if it was his place to interrupt the young Trainer. But finally he reached out one pale hand and tapped Rodney on the shoulder, at which point he seemed to return to Earth.
“Uh, yes?” He turned and blinked at the boy.
“What’s your name?” the boy asked, leaning in closer.
Rodney, in response, leaned farther away from him and gave the boy his name. Immediately the black-haired youth returned to an appropriate sitting position and smiled pleasantly.
“Really! Nice to meet you. I’m X.”
“Is that your… actual name?”
“Yep. X. Is there something wrong with my name?”
“Oh! Uh… uh, no!” Rodney suddenly realized that he sounded like he was poking fun at the kid. “It’s just that a lot of Trainers… well, they give themselves unusual nicknames like X or Alpha or something edgy like that to sound cool. I didn’t know if you were one of those guys or if your name is actually… um… X.” He decided not to comment on the tastes his parents had in names – after all, he wasn’t really one to talk with a name like ‘Rodney’.
X looked dumbfounded. “Really? People do that?”
X stood up and dusted himself off. “Well, I guess everyone’s entitled to their own silly aliases… anyway, I should go. See you.” With that, X turned around and walked purposefully into the trees. Rodney was just about to follow him when he noticed something curious about the ground – it seemed to have a piece of rock on it, about three inches square* in its entirety and flat like a slab. Rodney figured that X must have dropped it, and picked up the object for a closer look. Etched on the small rock was a circle with a dot scratched inside it.
Rodney was thoroughly confused by this object but knew it was certainly of great historical significance. Therefore, it should be returned to its owner. He stood up and walked over to the space in the forest where X had disappeared into, fingering the rock nervously as he went along. Tristan – who had noticed absolutely nothing of the slab – only began moving when he realized that something was amiss and that Rodney was now halfway across the lakefront. He ran over quickly, which was quite a shame. A little way into the forest, Rodney found himself needing to cling to a tree to regain his balance (and hold out a leg to stop Tristan from going any farther). He peered forward nervously.
In front of him laid an immense void.
*For those of you who don’t use the US customary units of measurement, about the dimensions of a Game Boy Advance SP.
Welcome to Abecedarian, kids. As mentioned previously, have mercy on my multitasking soul, as I believe I will be able to tackle this and Wings Have We without the hindrance of the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Curse. C: So, um, enjoy, and don't forget to keep your eyes peeled for some familiar faces someplace or another...
That said, please enjoy Abecedarian (which is, as a matter of fact, a real word) in its revamped and retooled glory.
Rodney stood there, looking into the void, for what seemed to be a long time. He certainly did look funny, but after he had reduced his grip on the surrounding foliage to something closer to normal he got a fine opportunity to peer closer into the inky blackness. And peer he did.
He noticed that the ground stopped evenly when it got to the void; a blade of grass seemed to be cut in half in the place where the void began, which was rather disturbing. Regardless, he leaned closer into the void, and realized a few seconds later that he could vaguely see something moving around in there. It was getting dark, though, and the trees were already blocking most of the light from the sky.
Rodney looked quite scared, while Tristan was merely befuddled.
“Um, buddy,” said the boy worriedly, “I think we should step away now, hm?”
The Grompig regarded him with confusion. “…Pig?”
“Well, uh, there seems to be a… er… large expanse of… um, blackness.” Didn’t he see it? Rodney certainly had not failed to notice when he got dangerously close to walking in, and a Grumpig’s perception of the world was supposed to be better than a human’s (psychic powers and whatnot). So why was he not registering the void?
Regardless, Tristan was now looking at him with the familiar look of someone who had just realized Rodney was crazy and didn’t want to say it. Rodney had seen this expression far too much, and a very distant part of his mind was not at all happy to identify it on Tristan’s face – normally the Grumpig could see no wrong in him, regardless of the fact that they both knew this was not true.
“It’s right in front of us,” said Rodney slowly, letting go of the tree. He didn’t particularly like the idea of Tristan following suit with most of the human population, but at least it wasn’t the muttering. Tristan peered forward and shook his head.
“What? You don’t see it?”
“Pig.” Just to prove his point, Tristan took a step forward before Rodney could stop him. He stood in the void like it was solid ground under his feet, looking back at his Trainer with that same expression that Rodney really didn’t want to see on the face of a good friend.
“But…” he said. “…but that means we can walk on it?”
Tristan’s unusual expression surpassed the dawning realization and reverted back into ‘utterly confused’. And this was what the Grumpig did, looking at Rodney in confusion while at the same time glancing downward at the ground and tapping a hoof on it to prove that it was entirely solid. Tristan didn’t have anything to say on the matter – after all, as far as he could tell, he had just accidentally stomped on a very pointy rock. Rodney, on the other hand, was convinced he was looking into the edge of the world itself.
“Oh, fine,” said Rodney, who walked into the void to brush arms with his Pokémon.
As soon as Rodney’s skin came in contact with Tristan’s the ground seemed to dematerialize from under their feet, and the two went plummeting into black.
As they fell, though, they promptly refused to comply to the typical screaming fit that came with falling down a long, nearly sightless passage; instead, the duo chose to stare in awe at the glowing, floating spheres that whirled around them in a confusing blur. After a few minutes of this the two began to lose the amount of empty space under their feet, until finally they crash-landed on an admittedly soft patch of blackness that looked no different than the rest of the dark world. Within five seconds the pricks of light began appearing again, this time brighter. At close range, it could be seen that they had a dark dot in the middle of each one; with the faint illuminations shedding faint glows over the rest of the creatures’ bodies, it soon became apparent that the two were facing down a horde of—
The impact of the fact that he was looking into the eyes of what seemed to be a large quantity of Unown, their eye-lights flicking in and out of focus, was diminished slightly. This was because both Rodney and Tristan looked quite scared, and judging from the jittery and flickering motions of the Unown, the feeling was mutual. It went on like this for a while, each group regarding the other in mild horror.
And then a sharp whistling came through the darkness, and the flickering eyes parted to reveal one more. This one’s glow was bright and steady, and it didn’t look happy. The Unown of indeterminate letter (the reduced light made it impossible to distinguish one from another) turned and flared its eye-light, and almost immediately a sort of spotlight-esque cone of radiance blasted down from somewhere above them.
Rodney found himself having to shield his eyes until they adjusted.
After the spots went away, he returned to a relatively normal position and took a good look at the fearless Unown who had made its sheep-mentality companions shrink out of its way. Upon closer inspection, the Unown present appeared to be an Unown-L, and judging from the slant of its ‘eyelid’ it wasn’t happy. The boy and the Unown regarded one another for quite a long time.
Finally the Unown asked, in an uncannily familiar voice, “How did you get here?”
“I… walked?” It wasn’t exactly the most intelligent of responses, but Rodney had a feeling that any lies would be swiftly caught and ripped into smithereens (along with him). “I mean… I was in the Valor Lakefront walking into the trees and there was this sort of void thing in front of me and—”
“Silence,” said the Unown-L in her calm female tone. “Give me your Talet. You should not have it.”
“Talet.” Rodney repeated the word in confusion.
There was startled murmuring of an indecipherable language. It was coming from the tightly-packed Unown, floating nervously in clumps around him and Unown-L. The Unown-L didn’t seem to notice and she – referred to as female based entirely off the sound of her voice – instead opted to continue staring eerily at Rodney. “Your Talet, please.”
“No,” he said, quickly growing irritated. “I just don’t know what it is. For all I know, a Talet could be my left arm.”
“A Talet,” said Unown-L, “is a small object used… used to travel between worlds. It is the physical embodiment of an Unown’s transporting power, and I recommend you return yours before someone… what are you doing?” Unown-L stopped her chastising rant mid-sentence. She had fallen prey to the uncomfortable and cruelly hilarious effects of meeting Rodney Harrison’s grumbling for the first time.
“You,” he said at normal volume, pointing at the Unown groups collectively, “are Unown. You have no limbs. How do you carry a physical embodiment of your power, unless it’s adhesive to your bodies somehow? And while we’re at it, why should you need that sort of physical embodiment at all? I mean, you’re gods, aren’t you? Surely you have the ability to keep that power inside your body instead of letting it spill out into some rock.” Okay, so he was being rude. But somehow he realized that he had already messed up big-time, so why not?
…And besides, these guys were irritating him.
Tristan, on the other hand, was looking around nervously; he didn’t believe he had ever met an Unown before, and as a Psychic-type himself he had a great respect for the otherworldly Gravity Gods. This discussion was not really doing wonders for his mental image.
Unown-L looked back at the other Unown, who offered no reaction whatsoever. When that happened, she turned back to the mortal visitors with a bemused look in her single eye. “There is clearly much to explain to you,” she said. “If I tell you and allow you to return to the human world, will you inform anyone else?”
“No,” said Rodney.
Unown-L stared at him for a long time after that; during that time, Rodney became faintly aware of a faint tingling feeling in his head. When the Unown finally spoke again, her words came with a heavy dosage of irritation.
“Please inform your Grumpig that I need to enter your brain.”
Rodney turned and stared down at Tristan, who was still staring intently at Unown-L with muscles tensed. “Cool it,” he said. The Grumpig relaxed with a defeated expression and took a step away from Rodney, just to solidify that he had shattered the mental blockade. Thus accomplished, the small black Psychic-type resumed entry into Rodney’s head. The tingling was much worse now, more like a headache, but Rodney attempted to stop himself from thinking about it – or, indeed, about anything else.
It took a while, but finally Unown-L’s mental probing ended and his head resumed normal pressure levels. She said, “Hmm.”
Rodney and Tristan disappeared.
When the dynamic duo came to, they were sitting in grass. On Earth. After they had stood up and regained the majority of their bearings, Rodney realized with some disappointment that he had been given the boot. He turned cautiously to Tristan, who had evidently come to the same conclusion. The Psychic-type stared back at him, shrugging apologetically.
“I guess she didn’t like what she saw,” offered Rodney.
It was only then that they realized that they were most definitely not in Pastoria anymore; after taking a good look at the ruins behind them, Rodney went out on a limb and said, “Celestic Town?” A minute after that, he turned around and faced the acres upon acres of farmland on his other side. “Oh… we’re in Solaceon, then?”
The two shared a look and broke into identical grins.
Immediately they scrambled out of the forest, and it wasn’t until they reached civilization again that Rodney realized his hands were empty. Meaning, devoid of that weird stone. A talet, was it called? Whatever the thing was, he most certainly didn’t have it anymore, and he was fairly sure that it hadn’t been dropped while they were rejoicing that they were still alive.
“Where’s that stone?” he asked Tristan.
The Grumpig regarded him confusedly. “Pig? Grumpig?”
He didn’t need to understand Pokémian to get the message – ‘Stone? What stone?’ Rodney nodded, recalling that he’d never really pointed it out to the Pokémon, and a second later caught himself and shook his head. “Never mind. It’s dark now – we should get to the ranch and call Dad.” That said, they continued to walk through the considerably smaller town until their destination was in sight.
The ‘destination’ being a large, faded-wood building with a series of stables and pastures surrounding it. Even before they had reached the door, it opened to reveal a heavyset but rather tall man in his fifties.
“Hey, Rod!” he called in a booming voice. “What’cha doing here so soon? Couldn’t get enough of us?”
Rodney laughed. “Um, hi, Mitch,” he said. “No. I actually just came from…” Here, Rodney paused. What had he been doing for the last hour and a half? He knew it was somewhere in his head, but the facts were fading fast from his memory. “I… actually don’t know where I came from. That’s a really good question there…”
Tristan rolled his eyes and sent a spurring thought into his Trainer’s brain. …He, um, hadn’t meant to put up a mental barrier for himself when the mind-wiping started, honest! Regardless of what Tristan thought, though, the boy’s eyes lit up again and he continued talking as if nothing had happened. These were some of the advantages of having a mind-breaking pig on hand. “…Well, I was in Pastoria, alright? And…”
“Whoa, whoa, this sounds like a big ‘un,” said Mitch, holding up his hands. “Maybe we should sit down instead of standing in the dark, huh?”
“Oh. Uh, right.” They relocated and began reciting what had happened that night.
Perhaps, instead of relaying what had just happened in the last one and a half chapters, it would be a better idea to grant a little information that we don’t actually know already.
Where we are right now is a ranch in Solaceon, owned by his aunt and uncle – Mitch being the latter. He doesn’t like titles. This ranch, like so many others in the areas around Solaceon, uses the ample land and fantastic soil to make a sort of Pokémon farm. Unlike many other farms, who followed in the footsteps of a late couple who opened their farm as a Pokémon training strategy nine or ten years ago, their wares are mostly Berries and occasionally their own Pokémon.
As a matter of fact, it was this particular farm that was responsible for Tristan.
After Rodney had finished recalling the events of the previous night, Mitch sort of sat there in his personal beaten-down armchair for quite a long time. “Um,” he remarked eventually, not really having a lot else to say. The normally-jovial disposition had been quickly stripped from him, and the replacement expression was quite surprised to hear what had happened. (Tristan noticed with some unease that he was also quite nervous, but didn’t point it out.)
Rodney bit his lip. “…You don’t believe me, do you?”
“It’s definitely… er, possible…” Mitch looked downright uneasy now. This was clearly not the way the conversation was supposed to go. It certainly didn’t help that his nephew was now looking at him with a bemused stare that could rival any Claydol worth its salt.
The silence continued like that until Mitch helpfully caught sight of the time.
“Ah,” he said. “You’ve had… well, maybe you should go to bed now, huh? I’ll call Miles in the morning. You can scavenge wherever for pajamas.”
“Right.” Rodney got up from his (rather comfortable) chair and walked upstairs, Tristan following him with no less than five concerned glances in varying directions. Finally the sound of a clicking door could be heard in the otherwise silent house.
Meanwhile, Mitch leaned back and sighed. He had told them that it was a silly idea the whole time. When that came to light, he had been the first to say “I told you so”, and yet he had been waved off. Nobody could ever know… what had he responded to that with? Oh yes.
“The truth will out,” he muttered grimly.
As much as I'd love to start reading a 28 chapter story, I think I'll review this one because it hasn't gotten any comments yet. Since you haven't gotten so far with it my input will have more potential value. Sorry to disappoint, but hey, I'm still giving you a review.
First off I want to say that I liked it, especially for the characters. You do a great job of portraying personality instead of just appearances. It makes your characters far more human than they would be if you only depicted them superficially. I could really feel Ham's enthusiasm, Rodney's quirkiness, and even the Croagunk's attitude. The exchange with the imitation was most relate-able and very well depicted. I also really enjoyed X's brief appearance. He was really easy and fun to visualize, which is a sign that you conveyed his character just right.
Another thing you mostly did well was setting the mood. The home felt like a home, and his family felt like a family. It doesn't sound like very high praise, but I mean it that way. I've read way too many fics where a trainer's home is nothing more than an obligatory storage building with a family that's just there to wish him goodbye. The void also had an appropriate mood about it: very mysterious and unsettling. One small complaint I have about that part though is this:
There are also a few grammatical/typographical/other mistakes/problems/things of note I found:
There were a few other sentences here and there that I didn't quite understand the first time I read them, so I'd advise you to read over these chapters again. Now that it's been a while, you might spot some things that don't make sense to you anymore. This sort of thing happens to every writer without exception: You're writing along, and you think something makes sense because the idea is still fresh in your mind. That's why it's so important to leave a time gap between writing and editing (I'm quite guilty of not doing this very well, but hypocrites can still offer good advice).
All in all, I enjoyed it very much and I'm interested to see where things go from here, especially in regard to X and the other guy in black. To make up for reviewing the one that you didn't want reviewed as much, I'll start reading Wings tomorrow and give you some feedback on the earlier chapters, okay?
My chapter fics:
Kanto: The Disputed Frontier - 14 chapters, indefinite hiatus. Gary Stu's Unpredictable Adventure - 8 chapters, completed. Digimon Campaign - 7 chapters, ongoing
There's Always Tomorrow (SWC 2009), A Matter of Stubbornness (SWC 2010), Left by the Roadside (SWC 2011 1st place),
Giovanni Destroys the World and Everything in It (2012), By What Right? (SWC 2013 1st place), Back in the Day (SWC 2014 1st place)
Family (kind of?): Strange person who calls me strange names
If the pen is mightier than the sword, the keyboard is mightier than the ICBM.
“Unbelievable,” said Miles the next morning. “Utterly unbelievable.” He was standing in his kitchen, wearing a beat-up t-shirt and pajama pants. It was abundantly obvious by his mannerisms that the Pastoria resident was not amused.
Hamilton laughed. “I know, right? Normally I’m the one doing all the crazy stuff!”
“Which is why you’re still here and Rodney isn’t,” offered the man, returning the cordless telephone in his hand to its proper upright position. “But even so, since when was he willing to run off in the middle of the night?” He crossed his arms and sighed deflatedly. “Maybe we should have waited another six months before letting him out?”
“Don’t talk to me, talk to Mom.” Hamilton shrugged, rather upsetting the Croagunk now clinging to his waist. Craig was always rather fond of that.
“Well, at least we know he’s alright, I guess… never got to fight Crasher Wake, though. I wonder why he decided to go backwards to Solaceon?” Of course, Miles knew precisely why he decided to go backwards to Solaceon, but to be perfectly honest he would rather not. Granted, he had brought it upon himself, but still. That didn’t mean his two children would have any reason to know about it, pfft. No way. They wouldn’t be able to handle it!
“Beats me,” said Hamilton, who had the exceptional power to totally ignore the worrying expression on his father’s face in favor of drinking some milk.
Miles nodded. They definitely wouldn’t be able to handle it.
At the same time, a few cities away, there was breakfast to be had.
“You know, I think I ought to be going back to Pastoria,” said Rodney thoughtfully. “I was supposed to be there in the first place until that… uh, thing happened.”
“Go ahead and do that,” said Mitch. “It’s not as if I’m in any position to stop you.”
“I know, but I have been doing a lot of random run-off-in-the-middle-of-the-night maneuvers lately.” Rodney paused to think about this. “Well, only two, but that’s still more than the usual amount.”
“Since when have you ever done a run-off-in-the-middle-of-the-night maneuver?”
“See?” said Mitch, waving a hand at him. “You were right. You’re doing run-off-in-the-middle-of-the-night maneuvers, kid. We can no longer stop you from going back to Pastoria, because you’ve obviously found some way to cheat with that Grumpig of yours!” He pointed now to Tristan, who had eaten earlier and was now sitting calmly in the corner. The Pokémon did not acknowledge Miles’ existence, and decided instead to remain sitting calmly in said corner.
Rodney chuckled. “Uh-huh.” There was a beat of silence, during which both people realized the other wasn’t going to respond, and sooner or later Rodney picked up the slack again.
“So… I was thinking that I should probably get going soon.”
Mitch nodded musingly. “I suppose you should… are you going back to Pastoria?”
“I guess I am.” Rodney turned to the purple Pokémon lurking in the corner. “Thoughts?”
Tristan shook his head. “Pig.”
With that confirmation given, Rodney got out of his previous sitting position and dusted himself off. “Well, um, thanks for letting me stay the night,” he said. “See you around, I guess.” Tristan, who had realized that the end was near, came to his feet and again lurked in the same position.
Mitch eyed the Grumpig. “He sure does like corners for a claustrophobe.”
“Makes the room look bigger.” Rodney gestured to the Pokémon, who nodded and followed him out the door without another word. Mitch sat there, watching him leave with a raised eyebrow. Everyone in the family had been strange in some way or another, and this one was most certainly no different.
Anima Ardall, compared to her family in Ecruteak City, Johto, was not the sharpest knife in the drawer. No, far from it. She was intelligent enough – rather pointy in accordance with the metaphor. She was happy and wispy and couldn’t sit still, though, which put her at odds with the rest of her family. So, instead of a knife, she was more an… excessively pointy spoon. You know the kind, the one where the edges are too sharp and thin and generally painful to your six-in-the-morning gums. Technically what you’re looking for, but not all there.
Well, in any case, she was –
‘I’ was Giratina the Celestial Librarian, High Goddess and Conductor Lady of Never-Turn-Back the Interdimensional Bus Terminal. I was also suffering with a truly ferocious case of Editor’s Block.
You see, this thrilling adventure was happening in the world, oh yes it was, but there’s a big problem: these things don’t write themselves. So somewhere in an alternate dimension called Never-Turn-Back, there sits a giant magical computer that has recordings of everything even remotely interesting that goes on in the world. The Pokémon sitting at this magical computer, an extremely dashing Legendary named Giratina, has been charged with the job of writing down the best ones and putting them in Arceus’ Archives; the reasoning being that Arceus simply can’t remember all the fun stuff that happens, so he charged someone else to write it all down for him.
Well, good thing the Unown Dialect reads and sounds exactly like English, eh?
In any case, I knew what was happening. I had the file right here. It was playing out in front of me, over and over. I could see just what this hyperactive redhead was doing. But I couldn’t for the life of me find the right words… and so I ended up using stupid and confusing metaphors. This happened sometimes. It was strange. And just like everything else that’s strange, my little ‘assistant’ was there to comment on it.
“Are you still procrastinating on that stupid thing?” asked Zero, walking up to me. And yes, before we continue – that Zero. Arceus’ punishment system is a beautiful thing.
“Maybe,” I responded huffily.
“You are, aren’t you.” This was not posed as a question, and suddenly over my shoulder appeared the head of my assistant. This head was connected to a body, which likewise was hovering a considerable distance above the part of Never-Turn-Back that was assumed to be the floor. “Put that off forever and somebody’s going to have your head for i—yeep!”
I had grabbed his considerably smaller body with one paw and was now glaring at him. “Let’s not forget who the boss is here, shall we?”
Zero looked miffed, but I let him go when he started struggling. Who knew what pointy metal screwdrivers or whatever he could start attacking me with? (There’s another problem with Zero: I wouldn’t put that past him. He’s not the nicest of people.)
“Your funeral,” he said, dusting himself off.
I continued staring glumly at the monitor, until Zero bothered to speak up again. “Hey, Giratina.”
“There’s always been something I wondered about…”
“I’m impressed, Zero,” I said, flicking my hands upward in praise to the nonexistent heavens. “You’ve actually thought for once… go on.”
“Shut up.” Those two words have recently been becoming his catchphrase; gee, I wonder why. “Anyway, as I was saying, there has always been something that I’ve been wondering about, and I figured you’d know the answer to it. You being, you know, the Celestial Librarian and whatever.”
“Can’t you go look it up in the Archives? I’m suffering from editor’s block here.”
“I’m sorry, have you even looked at that place recently? You couldn’t find your left leg in there! …No. Actually, don’t go in there. I’m asking you.”
“Fire away.” I was just eager to get the little murderer off my back.
“It pertains to the subject of hair.”
This prompted a pause. “…Hair?” I asked. “Zero… in case you hadn’t noticed, I am not in possession of any hair at this time. This is something you’d be better suited writing in to Hoennian Girl.”
Zero ignored my pointed comment. “No. I mean, some people’s hair – such as mine, for instance – just tend to… I don’t know, grow strangely. Another example is that brown-haired kid with the ridiculous-looking bangs.”
“Yes. Rodney. Thank you…” Zero’s one visible eye slowly drifted its focus to some point off in the distance.
“Oh, I see,” I said, getting out of the chair I was previously sitting in. “You’re wondering why your hair makes gravity your personal slave and everybody else’s doesn’t.”
“Well, that’s not the way I would have put it, but…”
“Right. Zero, have I ever told you about the Gravity Gods?” It was evident from his facial expression that I had not. “Well. Over in some other dimension which is even more confusingly entwined with Earth than Never-Turn-Back is, there lives a race of small black deities which reproduce by way of magical powers instead of… the traditional fashion. They also float. This race, collectively, are the Gravity Gods, and on Earth I believe they tend to be known as…”
“Ding ding! We have a winner. Yes, the Unown. At the beginning at the universe they were assigned a power, just like all the other Legendaries, and this race wound up with gravity. Anyhow, they also have a mysterious tendency to have… ah… unstable DNA, shall we say.”
“Right. It’s not exactly DNA, per se, but they seem to have some other atomic Pokémon makeup that tends to be, you know, prone to changing in vibrant and ridiculous ways. Well, as you know, sometimes the Unown pass over their world’s barrier into Earth. The trip… well, it’s very interesting, but it’s also been known to loosen and reconfigure this not-DNA in the Unown. It doesn’t happen to every Unown, which explains why you still see regular old Unown around a lot, but it happens to a few. And when that happens, they turn into human beings, and…”
“…They end up having unusual hair?” finished Zero dubiously. “Are you trying to tell me that in reality I’m six inches tall?”
“No, if you’ll let me finish,” I growled. “The Unown-human responsible for your funny hair could have died a few hundred years ago. When an Unown-human discovers this is happening, then usually they find themselves unable to transform back, being for the most part human now and without the Unown’s dimension-spanning abilities. When that happens, the Unown-human has no choice to accept itself into society…”
Zero’s expression was blank.
“In basics, it’s pretty much that the ability to have gravity-defying hair is an inherited trait, just like eye or skin color,” I said wispily. “Somewhere along the line, a few greats ago, you had an Unown as an ancestor. Nowadays humans have found their own ways to simulate unusual hairstyles without having an Unown gene in them, as it can be called, but you can’t choose the hairstyle you have when you’re born with it. That’s what happened to you, right? You had no choice but to let your hair grow that way?”
“Yes,” he admitted. “That’s right.” There was a pause. “Uh… thanks. I suppose.”
“No problem,” I said pleasantly. “Now leave me alone.”
Well, in any case, she was wandering along Route 209, humming a tune under her breath and admiring the scenery passing by. Next to her was a Drifloon, floating happily in the gentle breeze. Yes, in the personal world of Anima Ardall, all was at peace. And because all was at peace, she found herself not thinking she needed to look where she was going.
This was why she crashed into somebody else.
He looked to be off in his own little world too: his eyes were drifting around vacantly without really registering anything, a sure sign of deep thought, and by the looks of things he was depending entirely on the little gray-and-purple shadow walking beside him to warn him if anything was coming. Unfortunately, said gray-and-purple shadow’s warning came just a little too late.
This was why he crashed into somebody else.
The noises were synonymous and, when spoken together, didn’t sound very good, but they got the point across. The two stared at one another after that, until the taller of the two cleared her throat and spoke.
“Oh. Uh. Excuse me.”
The shorter: “Huh? Um, no, it was my fault. Sorry, sorry.”
The taller: “Ehehe! Oh my gosh, I’m so klutzy sometimes…”
The shorter: “Um, right… uh, see you around? Or not?”
The Drifloon and Grumpig who accompanied these two worriedly eyed first their respective owners, then the other. There came an understanding there that could only be forged between two Pokémon: the understanding that their Trainers were most definitely not all there, and that the other wasn’t alone in that aspect. It wasn’t the nicest agreement, to be certain, but it was one of those instinctual things that Pokémon had picked up lately. Fascinating power, but not all that helpful.
And the two people passed one another. Rodney Harrison and Anima Ardall were confident they would never meet the other again (they were going in entirely opposite directions, after all), and within minutes they were back to their regularly scheduled lollygagging. And the two Pokémon shrugged (or whipped their tails, the Drifloon equivalent). The Grumpig and Drifloon went on their way, following their Trainers while assuming that the other would not at all be relevant to their life in the future.
Both the trainers and the Pokémon were wrong.
Yeah, so... sorry about this wait, guys, and I have something to say.
First off, I'm not shutting down Abecedarian. This story has been kicking around in my mind before I even got the idea for Metal Coat, and I'm not going to let it just drop dead. However, I did suffer an enormous writer's block, and trust me - it was even harder on me than it was on those of you who actually care. So yeah, part of the chapter was totally out of left field and hard to follow, and for that I apologize, but I was just trying to get my inspiration to work enough to bring me through Chapter Three.
That in mind, I don't know when the next update will come, but I intend to bring it. This story has waited five years and just as many rewrites to come to a conclusion, and I'm sure not letting a rocky part of the writing process ruin that.
So yeah... I'm sorry for abandoning this babeh for so long.
Oh yeah, and for those of you following both this and WHW - and yes, that Rodney.
Somewhere between Solaceon and Pastoria is a small town called Cherton, and this was where Rodney found himself now. Specifically, he was in the Pokémon Center, lurking in the corner and waiting for his team to be healed.
The members of Rodney’s posse, including Tristan, had all gone through a little training while they walked down the various Routes which led from Solaceon to their current location; Tristan had accepted his fate and agreed to be treated. All, by definition, was good in the young Trainer’s world. As usual, this caused him to reflect about his life for the past few days and mutter somewhat disturbingly about it. Aside from the uncomfortable sideward glances that typically came with a creepy kid muttering in a dark corner, nothing absolutely terrible seemed to be happening to him.
For the time being, though, he was content with what he was doing.
Rodney took a break from his perpetual grumbling to take a good look around the place. The Trainers skulking around in here weren’t any different from what you would normally expect in a Pokémon Center on a Saturday night. Groups of jocks who only train Pokémon to beat up their victims (i.e., the large and imposing cluster of local high schoolers, as well as their large and imposing cluster of Drapions, over there in the corner), sleazeballs who look like they would be better off in the backstreets of some dark city (i.e., the hairgel-overdosed kid who was, along with his Jolteon, regarding everyone with an expression of lofty superiority), and traveling Trainers who by most standards have no life (i.e., himself).
Rodney had done this before, skulking around a Pokémon Center at night. It was a common occurrence. And yet, something in the back of his mind felt kind of… unsettling.
He looked up, having heard his name called, and walked up to the front desk – for that was where the declaration had intended him to go. Having a Nurse Joy announce over the loudspeaker that one’s Pokémon were healed was not the best way to go around unrecognized, Rodney had often noticed, but then again – if you were going undercover why would you be healing at a Pokémon Center anyway?
After Tristan had returned to his side, the Joy held out a small piece of paper with a number typed on it. “Since you asked for a room for tonight only, this will be your room number. You will be expected to leave by noon tomorrow.”
“Yes. Thank you.”
Rodney walked purposefully over to one of the many side doors that led out of the lobby of the Cherton Pokémon Center. He wound up in a long corridor, with multiple other halls branching off of it (and accompanied by the appropriate navigational sign). Rodney noticed that there didn’t seem to be many rooms, but soon after figured that Cherton was little more than a sidenote on most maps of the Region.
…However, another explanation could possibly be that there was intended to be two people a room.
In the larger branches of the Pokémon Center, many different rooms were available, the maximum limit being five and the minimum only one. Of course, trying to save time and money in this small town, the local Joys had decided that it would be a fantastic idea to buddy everyone up, regardless of whether they knew and got along with the other person or not.
At least there were separate beds.
Rodney wandered around the labyrinthine place for a little while, attempting to match his room number with the plaques on the wall. Eventually he found it, and hoped against hope that he would be alone in the double room. This was not to be, unfortunately, and was backed up by the presence of a printed name on the bottom of his slip of paper. It said ‘EZEKIEL “ZEKE” IORDANOU’ in nice uppercase lettering, but frankly Rodney was more amused that he had finally found someone with a stranger name than his own.
Opening the door, he found that Zeke was the Jolteon kid he had seen in the lobby. He didn’t remember the boy passing him in the hallway, but perhaps this kid hadn’t spent a little extra time stumbling around in such a place. He looked like the type to have a Pokémon hunt for him and follow its lead.
The green Pokémon’s eyes barely moved to register that he was present, and Rodney could hardly tell what the Trainer was doing due to the small problem of his hairspikes. They were black and floppy, precariously arranged into a disheveled mess, and the ones which served as bangs did a wonderful job of obscuring his face.
However, Zeke then turned towards him, and that problem was resolved. His eyes were blue and appeared to be either lazy or disinterested, and the small line that was his mouth could also fit one of those two descriptions. He appeared to be in his pajamas already, and was now sitting on his bed while stroking Jolteon absentmindedly. There was no change in his expression when he got a better look at Rodney.
“You’re sleeping here tonight?” the boy asked, obviously attempting to keep his tone blank but allowing a small bit of disdain to seep through.
“I am,” replied Rodney. He did a considerably better job of being a stoic.
He walked across the room and, following standard Pokémon Center ritual, opened the window. “…You don’t mind if this is open, do you?”
Without another word he dropped his bag on the bed, went fishing around in it, and entered the bathroom that stood between the two beds. Meanwhile, Tristan found a nice part in the middle of the room’s furry rug to lay on. After changing into a tee shirt and sweatpants, Rodney had to poke his purple companion with his foot in order to prevent the Pokémon from sprawling over the floor.
Of course, as soon as Rodney got into bed, he did so anyway.
A red beam of light suggested that the Jolteon had been recalled, and a few minutes later the other Trainer spoke again. Rodney looked over to find that Zeke was staring at his Pokémon. “…So why aren’t you recalling your Grumpig?”
“He doesn’t like being inside his Pokéball,” muttered Rodney. Upon seeing his roomie’s funny look, he elaborated with the word “Claustrophobia”.
“Hmm…” Zeke said, continuing to stare at the Psychic-type. “I wonder why you kept a Pokémon like that…”
This made both partners stand up. “What do you mean by that?” he snapped back.
The black-haired Trainer held up a hand. “Nothing. It’s just interesting.”
Rodney scowled and lay down again. The silence descended over the two, and within minutes Zeke began breathing slowly and evenly.
Meanwhile, Rodney remained awake. He went on watching the small window fixed in the door between their room and the corridor outside; it would be a while before they turned the lights out. Because he was doing this and not, say, sleeping, he was able to catch a glimpse of the silhouette which walked by. He could have sworn that the face was looking directly at him through the frosted glass.
But then again, the silhouette might just have been looking at the door number. People did that sometimes.
The next morning, both young men got out around the same time. They were now in the lobby, and Rodney muttered a quick farewell – more out of politeness than anything else – before turning around to leave. And he had almost taken a step, too, before Zeke called after him with little more than a ‘Hey!’. Rodney figured that he didn’t even bother to check the name on his own card, but turned around anyhow.
“Let’s have a one-on-one battle,” said Zeke. “Outside. Right now.”
“Of course now. I want to battle you.”
Rodney stared at him for a moment, considering simply walking the other way. Zeke was eyeing him so ferociously, though, that if he did walk off he had a feeling that the boy would hate his guts for the rest of their lives.
So Rodney said, “Not right now, I have an appointment to keep,” and walked off.
He did have an appointment to keep, admittedly, but it was not with someone who would have his head if he didn’t show up on time – as a matter of fact, it wasn’t an appointment with a person at all. Without turning around to look at Zeke’s face, he merely strolled along the streets of Cherton until he found what he was looking for: a library, of decent size for a town this small. At least the place had one, and he wouldn’t need to take another trek towards Pastoria… but that wasn’t the point.
There was a library, good. Now what about what was in it?
Rodney walked in, feeling the air conditioning lower the temperature around him. The noise level had not dropped so dramatically; out there it was still practically a ghost town, so the silence rule upheld in many libraries the world over wasn’t particularly limiting. Actually, nobody was really here to make noise at all; the only person present was a girl of around twenty sitting at the front desk, writing something. She glanced up at him as he entered.
“You got that Pokémon trained?” she asked.
“Yes. He won’t be any trouble, I promise.”
“Whatever… I’m gonna make you recall ‘im if he gets outta hand, though. You need my help with something?”
“No thank you. I know what I’m looking for.”
“Sure. Holler if you need help with something.”
“Alright.” With that the two had disappeared within the stacks of books, searching for some sort of computer. He certainly wasn’t going to tell her what he was looking for; it was unlikely that a small-town hired librarian would know anything about the subject in question, and even then, he didn’t exactly want her wondering why he was researching subjects like that anyway. The Unown weren’t the most common basis of a school project, after all.
It had taken some time, but eventually there was a competently-sized stack of books looming over the young Trainer. As usual, he had taken this research to heart, and after some time the resident junior librarian had to poke her head in to make sure he hadn’t died or something. After reassuring her that he was, indeed, alive, he knocked the first book off the list and set it to another pile, to be returned to its proper place later… hopefully.
He flipped to the index of the book he had now – ‘The Mythology of Johto’ by Caroline Knotts – and referred to the section containing the Unown. It was a book based around the mythology of Johto, composed in half by the Unown… but to no avail. The book’s pages on the Unown consisted mostly of information on the Ruins of Alph and needlessly oversized photographs of the Unown runes. It did say something about a small universe only accessible to the Unown, which confirmed for Rodney everything that he already knew.
And nothing more, naturally.
The rest of the procession acted in a similar manner, the only difference between them being Rodney’s increasingly shortened temper. Eventually, in a considerably fouler mood than he had been in previously, Rodney went back to attempt to return the books he had already taken out. Having shoved the last one – ‘Wonders of the Otherworlds’ by Jim Farlane – back into its shelf, he caught sight of a book that he must have missed earlier.
It was titled, quite simply, ‘RUNES’, and the author was a woman named Jillian Forsyth.
Well… there did appear to be Unown on the spine. Maybe there was some hope for him after all? Rodney pulled the book out of the shelf. It looked rather new compared to the rest of the tomes, which were all yellowed and rather beaten up. The book he held now was also rather heavy, an inspiring factoid for the miffed young Trainer. And so, with this in mind, he turned back around with his stack of research reduced to one book and sat right back down.
‘The Unown,’ stated the book helpfully, ‘are far from the most socialable members of the Legendary Court. They are, indeed, considered Legendary Pokémon, despite their comparatively large numbers…’
Oh yes, yes, very helpful and so forth… but not what he was looking for. Rodney flipped back to the beginning of the book, to the index which he had probably been better off referencing in the first place. Yes, that was what needed to be done. He found the page of the appropriate section (‘The Unown and Their Correlation with the Outside World’) and flipped to it, beginning to read with a small hope rekindled in the small part of his mind with a scrap of optimism left for this small-town library.
It began with an explanation of the Unown’s universe. According to the book, they lived in a dimension that was occupying the same plane of existence as our own, with this dimension dwelling wherever the most prominent one’s does not. This confused Rodney greatly, until he was reminded of that rather unfortunate incident with the giant black void… that was standing on the edge of the trees, in the place just past where he could see from the clearing. Huh. Was that what the Unown’s dimension was – directly over the edges of his world lay theirs? It was an unsettling thought, to be sure, and he continued reading in hopes of managing some scrap of understanding for this weird revelation.
This place, this dimension, has gone by many different names over the years. Apparently, the most widespread knowledge of the space was back before there was any discovered connection to the Unown at all; many years back, it was creatively referred to as the Mystery Zone. This, explained the book, is what most people know it as today. However, scientists had more recently learned to laugh in the faces of their predecessors, and upon discovering the link between the Mystery Zone and the Unown, some incredibly witty scientist gave it a new name: the Unown Zone.
“Oh the wit,” said Rodney out loud.
He continued reading.
The Unown, according to this mildly suspicious tome, have a very funny method of blending in with the opposite world. In rare occurrences they turned into what were very much human beings, with no method of transport home save for mysterious stone slabs that could be carried easily in the palm of one’s hand…
Rodney shivered involuntarily, remembering the tile he had found on the day he had met X and that strange man with the slicked-back hair. Did that mean that one of them was an Unown? They both dressed in all black, it was true, but…
“Wh… oh. Um, yes?” He turned around in his seat to face the librarian, prodding her nose in.
“I’m going for lunch break, and there’s no one else in here. You gotta check somethin’ out or just leave.” They both ended up eyeing the single book on the table next to Rodney, and he tapped its open page with a fingertip.
“Okay. I guess I’ll be taking this, then.”
Spoiler: chapters will definitely take a while.
“If I take this book out,” said Rodney, “then will I be able to turn it in at a library in some other city? Like, say… Solaceon or something?”
“Yeah, su… oh.” She looked totally casual until about halfway through the sentence, wherein she was staring confusedly at the book. “Hey, kid… where’d you find this?” Rodney explained his route towards getting RUNES, and she looked from him to the tome on the table, shaking her head. “Well, it looks like a library book, it’s got the sticker and cover and whatnot… but it ain’t in the system.”
“Did you try it in capital letters?”
“It isn’t case-sensitive.” She shook her head. “I don’t know what could have caused this.”
“Er… maybe it was some other person’s book and it was bound by mistake?”
“No, that can’t be… we don’t bind our stuff here. It’s always somewhere else. They would have added it into the system if it was bound by any library we know of.” She heaved a sigh again – apparently the chick was fond of this tactic – and looked back at him. “…I don’t know what to tell you. I can’t enter it into the computer from here, and…” She clattered some keys, but instead of making any sort of response merely looked utterly confused.
“And what?” Rodney asked.
“…and according to the Internet, this book – and its author – never existed.”
Now they were both confused.
“…So what do we do about it?” Rodney asked.
“Well, it doesn’t belong in this library if it isn’t in the catalog. And I can’t find a trace of it anywhere else. I don’t know what we are going to do about it.”
Rodney glanced to the side until an idea stuck him. A wishful, unlikely idea, but an idea nonetheless. “…Well… if you’re not going to do anything with it… do you think I could take it?”
“Take it?” She frowned. “Just like that?”
“…Well, I’ll pay for it, then.”
She turned her attention to the book again, as did Rodney. They both noticed at what seemed to be the same instance that there was a strange little thing on the cover of the book – an outset area, made to look exactly like a mound of rock sticking out of the spine. What a strange decoration. Their eyes remained on the book for a few moments more, until the librarian picked it up and inspected it. Front and back cover, respective jacket sides, a few pages of the book itself.
“…It’s unmarked,” she said, sounding surprised by her own deduction. “Free of charge.”
“Yeah,” she said. “Take it. It wasn’t supposed to be here anyway, I guess.” She set the book on the table again. Utterly unable to believe his luck, and grinning rather stupidly as a result, Rodney took it in his arms. He, too, looked it over, just to get a feel for the thing, and actually touched the rock on the spine… for a second there, he felt a small jolt of static on his finger. Pulling it away, the shock was gone with no trace that it had been there.
Why had that happened? It was just a faux-rock, after all…
“Well, thank you,” said Rodney cheerfully, fighting to keep a laugh out of his voice. This tome was obviously much more knowledgeable than the others available in the library (and most likely quite a few other places as well), and better yet, he could whip it out whenever he pleased… because he was most certainly going to get to the bottom of this. The response he got – a disinterested nod – signified quite well that she was done with him.
Just as soon as Rodney went out the door, though, reality caught up with him, and he realized that maaaaaaybe that whole getting-to-the-bottom-of-things plan wouldn’t actually work out too well.
“…We were supposed to be going back to Pastoria, weren’t we?”
Rodney looked down at the book again, frowning. Well, this whole ordeal had started at the Lakefront, hadn’t it? So going back to Pastoria wasn’t that much of a loss. He would battle Crasher Wake and be finished with it, and then he could continue… and do what? Well, collect Badges, he supposed, but still, he was carrying this book around an—
“Hey,” said the book.
Oh. Well, that shut him up.
“Hey. Are you listening to me?” Its voice was female, but not feminine.
“Well, that’s good.” The book sounded like it intended to say more, but all of a sudden, another voice popped in. This one was lower in volume, but it was quite obviously male.
“Oh, come on. Are you actually trying to…”
“Shut up!” hissed the first voice, apparently hoping for Rodney not to hear. “He doesn’t know it’s me!”
“So who are you, then?” asked Rodney to the book, looking quite bemused.
There was a pause. Neither voice spoke. Eventually, the female voice said, “Umm…” and the male one groaned loudly.
They then descended back into squabbling.
“Come on, man, just leave me alone! This is none of your business!”
“It is my business, because it’s your business, and as far as you’re concerned, your business is my business!”
“Well… not this time! Go away!”
Finally, after much more arguing in this manner, the male voice was quelled and left the conversation. The female one heaved a sigh of relief and turned her attention back on the task at hand. “…Anyway,” she said. “You won’t find knowledge of this book anywhere. It’s the only copy of its kind, and if you drop it in a volcano or whatever, then don’t come cryin’ to me, because it’s the only copy I got too.”
“…Sure. But, um, who are you?”
There was a pause. “Pay no mind to that,” the voice said. “Not important. You’re a smart kid, aren’t you? You won’t destroy this thing, I don’t think. Yeah. No need to see me, none at all.”
Rodney repeated the question.
“What, you really need to know?”
“Oh, fine… Giratina, that’s my name. Look it up somewhere, but whatever you find will be way off the mark, I can tell you now.”
“Giratina…” he muttered. “Giratina… Giratina?”
“Hey, man, not so loud!” the voice – or rather, I – hissed. “Can you even imagine what would happen if people got word of a book that talks to a freakin’ deity? It would be awful!”
“Sure, whatever. Look, how are you even talking to me? Don’t tell me you’ve got some kind of portal through books or whatever?”
“Well… no, not really. Not this book, anyway. But direct your attention to the spine.” Rodney did so, and immediately, he noticed the odd thing out about it.
“Oh, you’re talking about that rock? Yeah, I was wondering what that was for…”
“It’s a part of the Megaphone Rock, bud. Anything it’s attached to, I can talk through. I don’t care what you do with it from here on out; rip the thing off and toss it into a volcano, I’m not picky. I won’t need to talk to you again, I don’t think. But I’m here to tell you that you have stumbled over something extremely important and far out of your league.”
“Oh, I see how it is,” said Rodney, now leaning against the wall… talking to a book. “You’ve been sent to tell me to stop looking into it and return to my standardized everyday life, right?”
“Are you kidding? No!” I nearly laughed. “If you did that, I’d be out of a job! …Anyway, later down the road, this will become your… well, I don’t think I can use that metaphor here, but still. It will be important. Don’t lose it. There are many things about these creatures that you don’t know, and that you aren’t supposed to know, but now you are. So use it wisely. Got it?”
“…Er, yes?” It was at this point that Rodney began to seriously reconsider going through with this whole plan. (What a dolt.)
“And don’t go readin’ through it first chance you get, either, ‘cause that’ll be just as bad.” I decided not to reference the fact that my accent was showing through. “Wonderful. We clear?”
“Um,” he said competently.
“Oh, come on, don’t give me that,” I grumbled. “Are we clear or are we not clear?”
“We are clear.”
There was a pause.
“…Um, Giratina? Are you still there?”
I am always there, little boy, but no. I am not there anymore… not that you’re reading this narrative anyhow. Eventually, Rodney figured that why no, I was not still there, so he tucked the book under his arm in a frail attempt to get it out of his sight while attempting to collect his thoughts. Failing that, he turned to the Pokémon next to him, expression practically screaming ‘You understood that, right?’
Tristan shook his head.
ONE MONTH EXACTLY, BABY.
Anyway, as you've likely noticed, this chapter is noticably shorter. Expect other chapters of this length. Wings Have We needs that length, but Abecedarian really... doesn't. Sorry. (And yes, I love using italics in Times New Roman.)