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Old July 13th, 2010 (11:30 AM). Edited August 8th, 2014 by Haruka of Hoenn.
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ROOTS // Professorfic





INTRO //

Hey everyone. This is a little idea I had a while ago, and I think it needs a certain introduction before we begin.

As the title says, this is a Professorfic. Specifically, it's about the childhood of Professor Rowan, and how he grew up to be the person he is today. The games/canon gave absolutely no information about this whatsoever, so I had a lot of creative room to work with. The result was, for better or worse, the thread you see today.

Rating: PG-13 for swearing. That's pretty much it, but if there's ever an exception, I'll let you know.

Chapter sequence: I label each chapter as a decimal, so whatever number it is, just imagine the decimal point moving one place to the left. Chapter 1 is written as Chapter 0.1, Chapter 2 is Chapter 0.2, and so on. This means that Chapter 10 will be Chapter 1.0. (Chapter 0.5 is not half a chapter!)


A NOTE ON CULTURE AND TECHNOLOGY //

This story is set in 1963, so there will be some obvious differences between it and a story set in today's world. Obviously, people in 1963 didn't have all the super-cool gadgetry we (and therefore, the trainers in the games) have today, but I think that makes the story all the more interesting.

About songs. I don't like to put much music in the writing in general, but some chapters are the exception. What you have to know is that I do take some liberties pertaining to release dates. The story is set in 1963, but a lot of awesome songs were released after that, and I think they set the mood perfectly for some scenes, so I use them. When I do, I'll make sure to put the real release date in an author's note, for those who are interested.

The essence of this fic is based on the games, especially certain characters and situations within them. It's supposed to be a story of how the young Rowan grew up to be a professor, but really, it's much more. I will sometimes stray from the common geography of Sinnoh and its towns for the sake of the story, so if you notice a particular thing that doesn't seem to be in its correct place, rest assured, because everything is 100% intentional.

And here... we... go!

0.1

For the people of Sinnoh, summer 1963 was the peak of the year. Temperatures soared well into the 90s, sending half of the country’s inhabitants indoors, and the other half outside. Newspapers and televisions broadcasted the heat of the Space Race, an ongoing competition between them and the Hoenn region, which raised both passion and controversy worldwide. Citizens marveled at the newly-refined pokéball, which was booming in sales, both for trainers and for average people. It was, at the first glance, a summer like any other. But it would also be the one to change Sinnoh forever.

May 17th began like any other day for Jubilife — a city that, even then, was already a teeming metropolis. Its jagged skyline basked under the full glare of the Southern sun, cutting a striking silhouette that dominated the lowlands around it. Cars cruised along the network of streets, flashing sleek, bulky frames and vibrant colors. People strolled at leisurely paces, dressed in the colorful, casual style that had taken hold of the new generation.

Deep in the downtown area, at the edge of a busy intersection, stood a small newsstand, one of many that dotted the city. A crowd larger than the usual size was gathered around it, waving copies of Sinnoh Post in the air, their voices a chorus of anger and awe. The rows of baskets arranged around the stand were rapidly being depleted as hands grabbed for the issues, unfurling them to reveal the same cover image — a round, gray sphere dotted with craters, beneath the title: “Hoenn Spacecraft Captures the Moon.” The picture dominated the whole side of the street, fanned out in front of readers’ heads, and held aloft in the air by dozens of debaters who carried on heated arguments.

Near the baskets stood the scattered remnants of a line, a group of people who were impatient to learn what all the fuss was about. One lady who managed to push her way to the front reached into one of the baskets and grabbed the last issue that remained. She unfolded it and gasped as she read the front cover. “Well I’ll be. They’ve done it again!”

“What is it?” asked a man behind her. The lady shook her hand in dismay and handed him the issue.

“Looks like they’ve stepped up their game,” she said.

The man opened up to the cover story and scanned the text. His face soon fell into the same expression of betrayal that was reflected all around him. “That blasted Hoenn… always one step ahead of us.” He placed the issue back without buying it.

“Don’t worry!” piped up a young boy beside them. “We’ll beat ‘em! Pictures of the moon, that’s nothing! We’ll put a man on there one day!”

There was a chorus of cheers and applause at this. A portion of the crowd left with copies of the newspaper in hand, and newcomers began to arrive in their place. By the end of the day, everyone would know.



In another part of town, well beyond the hubbub of the city center, was a quiet suburban area, the likes of which were cropping up around most major Sinnoh cities. It surrounded the downtown in a ring, a miniskirt of flowery nature and planned development, where life moved at a relaxed, efficient pace.

This was the home of the only middle school in West Jubilife — a collection of brick buildings whose design dated back to the ‘40s, and whose subsequent renovations through the years gave it a worn, semi-modern look. An ancient bell was suspended above the main office, a relic of rusty metal, its glint dull in the sun’s glare. The students and faculty were all indoors, leaving the school’s grassy yards empty and quiet. For the most part, at least.

In a far-flung corner of one of the playgrounds, a hedge rustled. There was another moment of stillness, then the motion repeated, this time dislodging several leaves from the already-thinning crown. Tufts of dark fur shifted beneath the leaves. Moments later, a head poked out of a gap between the branches, revealing the face of a Stunky.

His purple and beige coloring blended well with the patterns of light and shade, though his presence was given away by the tiny bush, which shook even from the smallest of motions and scraped dryly against the wall beside it. Every time he heard the noise, his ears perked, then flattened again. Black eyes darted back and forth across the landscape, as if diligently searching for something in the depths of the playground.

For a few minutes, the only sound was the creak of swings rocking with the wind.

Then, a single cry sliced through the silence.

"THERE IT IS! GET IT, GET IT!"

Something large and metal hit the ground with a clang, missing the Stunky’s body by inches. In a snap, the pokémon sprang out of the hedge and sprinted off as fast as he could, clawing across grass and gravel. The pounding of footsteps behind him shook the ground, drowning out the quivers of his heart. After a frenzied search, his eyes locked on a target — a garbage can that stood against a wall. When he reached it at last, the Stunky skid to a halt and made to turn behind it. But there was already someone waiting there.

"Gotcha!"

A pair of hands shot out and grabbed the pokémon by the tail, locking around it in an iron grip. Before he could react, a strange force lifted his legs from the ground, breaking his contact with the tangible world and casting him off into empty air. He clawed and kicked in an attempt to pull himself back, but the world seemed to spin and tilt of its own accord, and somewhere in the muddled blur he could see the ground receding, the clumps of dirt growing smaller and smaller…



//////



Michael Rowan stood up slowly. His smile was wide, and there was a mischievous gleam in his blue eyes. He hoisted the Stunky up into the air like a fresh kill, ignoring its squeals and flails.

From the other side of the playground, two other boys ran to catch up with him. The first was blond and bespectacled. The second was a bit taller, and carried a large net. Upon seeing the squirming Stunky, he let it drop to the ground.

"Man... how did you catch that thing?" he panted, wiping a film of sweat from his forehead.

"Yeah, that must have been, like, seventy miles per hour!" said the first boy.

Michael gave a shrug. "Stunkies are stupid. They can run fast and everything, but all you have to do is scare them a couple times, and they’ll corner themselves." He lowered the pokémon to the side, still taking care to hold it away from his body, and dusted off his shirt. "Well that was a good use of eleven minutes. It was nice hunting with you today. Cory. Brendan."

The boys all shook hands, nodding at each other like military officials. Their arms were covered with dirt, leaves, and bruises, earned from many months of outdoor adventures. Steering clear of the distant windows, they began to stroll around the yard, watching the Stunky hang from Michael’s outstretched arm and claw at the empty air. Whenever one of the boys leaned in too close, the Stunky would lash out at him, making all three of them jump back.

“Looks like we got a feisty one,” the blond boy, Cory, remarked.

Brendan lowered his head so that his eyes were level with the pokémon’s. “He looks hungry. I bet if we let him loose in the cafeteria he’d clear all the tables like a lawnmower!” He extended his index finger and brought it to the Stunky’s face. “Here, Stunky, Stunky…”

The Stunky began to growl, and just as Brendan was about to touch its nose, a cage of glinting teeth snapped at his finger, making him pull back at once. But paradoxically, this intrigued the boys all the more, and they stopped in the middle of the sidewalk to form a triangle around it. After surveying the upside-down Stunky from various angles, Cory reached from behind to poke one of its ears. He had hardly made contact for a second before the Stunky jerked its head up to face him.

Cory withdrew his hand in a flash. “Whoa!”

Brendan snickered. “Ha, you got scared!”

Cory, who had hidden his finger behind his other palm in reflex, lowered his arms with a scowl. “Shut up! You try it, if you’re so smart.”

Brendan brought his finger close to the Stunky’s head and wavered with it in the air, trying to find the right moment to strike.

Observing his friends’ antics, Michael smiled. "See, I told you this would be better than history!”

Cory found a pebble on the pavement and began to scrape it with his shoe. “Yeah, I’m sick of learning about this stupid country. It’s always the same crap every year about freedom and cooperation, then they spend the last four months lecturing us about the modern government. As if I care what some wacked-up people did in some stupid meetings a thousand years ago. I mean, I wasn’t even there.”

“Yeah,” Brendan agreed. "Mr. Caesar's a total dipstick. He doesn't even know what he's talking about, all he does is give us work."

“He’s a talking textbook. He’s been parroting everything the authors said this whole chapter.” Michael narrowed his eyes, scanning the colony of box-like buildings in the distance. “He probably hasn’t even noticed we’re gone yet. He’s still busy picking through his lunch. And those summaries will probably take everyone at least another fifteen minutes to finish.”

Brendan made a face. “Man, I’m sick of those. He sent me another letter a couple days ago just for missing three of them. I had to get up early to take it from the mailbox, because my parents said if they get another one, they’ll send me to summer school.”

Michael snorted. “I say we egg his house on the first day of break. One for every letter. That should brighten him up a bit.”

Cory laughed. "That would be so cool! I heard another group of kids was gonna do the same for Mrs. Stanton. And they were gonna spray paint her car."

“We should so do that,” Michael said. “And it's not like we'll get in trouble either, ‘cause no one can give detentions over summer."

"Yeah."

The boys’ last few smiles subsided, and as one, their gazes fell on the Stunky. The pokémon was rocking listlessly like a pendulum, probably realizing the futility of its position. After a brief silence, Cory tilted his head.

"So what're we gonna do with him?"

“We should bring him to lunch tomorrow,” said Brendan. “Or no — how about on the last day of school? It would be the best prank ever!”

“But then we’ll need a place to keep him.”

Brendan paused. “We could tie him to a pole.”

“Yeah, and who’s gonna guard him? Some kiss-up will set him free.”

“Not if we put him somewhere hidden. We could use one of those storage sheds by the basketball courts, and spray everything with musk so no one will come near it.”

Michael nodded. “That should be pretty easy. I bet we just have to scare him into doing it.” He looked down at the motionless Stunky. "Come on ugly! Is that all you've got?"

"Shake him a little," Brendan suggested.

Michael bit his lip and shook the pokémon from side to side. When nothing happened, he shook it harder, until the Stunky's torso became a blur. Right then, there was a loud squirting sound, and a dim green gas shot out to engulf the three boys’ heads. It billowed around them like car exhaust, making them double over in spasms of coughing. The smell reminded Michael of rotten eggs, and nearly made him drop the Stunky in an attempt to cover his face.

"Eugh! It smells worse than my socks!" Brendan wheezed. He stumbled away from the cloud, fanning the air with his hand.

Cory looked down at his shirt, which had been white before, but was now coated with a greenish-brown film. He tried to brush it off, but the particles were embedded in the fabric. "Man! Isn't this smell supposed to last for days or something?"

"Weeks, actually," Michael corrected, his nose buried under his shirt collar. As the gas cloud cleared around them, he moved the Stunky as far from his face as possible, keeping steady against its squirms.

Cory grimaced. “Well that was stupid. Now if they find him, they’re gonna know it’s us!”

"Hang on. I think my mom knows how to get this stuff off,” Brendan said, as he examined his clothes. “I’ll just tell her it was an accident and she’ll clean all three of us.”

“I guess that works.” Cory crossed his arms, and as he watched the Stunky flail around, he smiled. “Now that it already sprayed us, though, we might as well have some fun with it. Let’s dunk its head in the toilet next!”

Brendan grinned. “Then we’ll bring it to lunch!”

Michael smiled as he thought this over, but as he looked at the Stunky some more, he shook his head. "Nah, we gotta be more creative. The cafeteria’s too big, and he might get too scared to make a mess of it. Why don't we bring him home and use him for experiments? He’ll last us much longer, and we’ll be able to do whatever we want with him after.”

"Hah, yeah! We'll be like those badass scientists in the newspaper," Cory said. "We’ll do surgery on him and try to clone him and stuff!”

Brendan clapped his hands together. “And after we’ve fixed him up a bit, we can train him so he’ll do whatever we tell him! Forget the cafeteria — next year we can make him mess with the whole school! He’ll be a Super Stunky. We’ll have loads of time over break to plan everything out and get our supplies together. All we need is a cage.”

"Good idea!" Michael beamed. "We'll go to the hardware store and get us a cage." He brought the Stunky close to his face and gave it a playful rattle. "Did you hear that, little fella? You're coming home with us."

The Stunky shivered.

"BOYS!"

A shrill voice pierced the air like a dagger, and instantly, all three heads turned in the direction of the sound. Through his still-smarting eyes, Michael saw a woman exit the school building. Her lips were slightly parted, and she was descending the stairs as fast as her two-inch heels would allow.

Cory turned back, his eyes wide. "Teacher!"

Michael groaned. "Shit! We have to get out of here!"

"Are you kidding? We'll be in even more trouble!" Brendan said.

"That's if we get caught, now let’s go!" With the Stunky in hand, Michael turned and sprinted away.

He was a pretty decent runner for his age, able to outrun nearly every boy in his class. The only person who was faster had been his older brother, Richard. They'd always be having races, before he left.

Michael's eyes remained fixed on the fence as he ran, narrowing on a row of trees. Beyond them was the open street, a direct path into the city that bypassed all the school’s protective zones. He had discovered it two years ago, and it never failed him.

"GET BACK HERE RIGHT NOW!" the woman shrieked, but her voice quickly faded into the distance.

"Fat chance," Michael whispered to himself.

He neared the fence in a few second's time. With a grunt, he hoisted himself up, using the diamond-shaped gaps as handholds, and with the Stunky still in hand, pushed himself over the edge. Cory and Brendan followed suit, crashing down beside him. When they had all landed safely, Michael jumped to his feet.

"Now RUN!" He tightened his grip on the Stunky's tail and, without a second thought, sped off towards freedom.




//////



Three days later, Michael sat in a quiet classroom, his eyes cast downward. The desk's surface was blackened from years of carving, which he idly traced with his fingers, following the messy patterns that past students had left. His mother, Patricia, sat beside him. Her back was stiff and her hands were folded in her lap, her classical business posture. To his left, a large window gave a glimpse of a happy outside world. Michael yearned with all his heart to be there, but it seemed that the authority figures had other plans.

Mrs. Maxwell's desk was a little island at the head of the classroom. Unlike everything else in the room, her things weren’t dirty or worn-down. All her papers were in their proper places, and she even had separate folders for each period, which she replaced every new year when the old ones had fulfilled their purpose. She never ate in class, so there were no lingering odors around her desk.

Mrs. Maxwell had greeted them in her usual calm mood, though she still looked a little crabby after the chase. Michael watched her scribble something onto a piece of paper for a minute, then slam the pencil back into the holder. When she rose from her seat, her chair rolled off towards the wall.

"Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable. And for someone of his intelligence!" She planted herself on a wooden stool that stood before her desk, facing them both.

"What did he do this time, Barbara?" Patricia asked, more tired than angry. She was fidgeting with the gold chain around her neck. After all the times Michael had been called in, the two women had become so familiar that they addressed each other by their first names.

"I caught Michael skipping class on Tuesday with two other boys. I went to look for them, and I found them in the playground, harassing a wild Stunky." Mrs. Maxwell fixed her gaze on Michael, who made a valiant effort not to look back. After bolting from school that previous day, neither he nor his friends had heard anything about their misconduct. Yet, when they walked into their first-period class, all three found a notice waiting on their desk, informing them that they were called in for a conference sometime during the week. Brendan and Cory were able to get theirs over with on Wednesday and Thursday, and wash the smell off of themselves and their clothes. As usual, Michael was the only one left waiting.

Upon hearing Mrs. Maxwell's words, Patricia let out a sad sigh. For a moment, Michael wondered if she was about to cry. And as much as he hated to admit it, it scared him a little. His mother wasn't the crying type. But then again, there were still a lot of things he didn't know about her.

"I don't like to deal with these things, Patricia," Mrs. Maxwell continued. "The first time, well okay, maybe he just didn't know his place. The second time, well, I'll have him clean the desks after class. I can even excuse a third for a kid like him, but this is simply intolerable. We've tried every single punishment under the sun — cleaning, writing lines, but nothing seems to be getting to him. I read the rules to my classes on the first day of every year. I always tell them that after they've caused enough trouble, the next step is suspension. So, it hurts me to say this, but I will have to suspend your son for the remainder of the school year."

She paused to let the words sink in. Michael puffed out his cheeks, waiting to be overcome by some sort of emotional response. But the truth was, he didn't feel anything. The word 'suspension' had lost meaning to him a while ago. And besides, it was only one week. What could be so unfathomably important that he simply had to be at school to see it? The last days consisted of nothing but free periods, since teachers were all busy with their grade books and assignment records. They couldn't assign any more work either, since it would only add to the things they themselves had to do. So what else was there to miss? A party?

Michael stole a sideways glance at his mother, readying himself for tears or an angry glare, but saw her to be perfectly calm. She was staring ahead with a pensive expression, her chin resting in her hands.

"It's not your fault, Patricia," Mrs. Maxwell was quick to say.

Michael grumbled. The only thing he hated more than conferences was the invisible rule that everyone there seemed to adhere to — it is always the student's fault.

Meanwhile, Patricia had begun to shake her head slowly, as if she was just as confused as Mrs. Maxwell was. "I try, I really do... but I just don't know what's gotten into him."

Mrs. Maxwell managed a small smile. "It really hurts me to do this, Patricia. Especially since his grades are perfect. What I’m starting to wonder is if there could be any outside sources that are causing his bad behavior. How is your relationship with Michael?"

Patricia looked startled by the question. "Fine!"

"How often do you converse?"

"I try to talk with him as often as I can. But it seems like he doesn't want anything to do with me."

Partially true, Michael thought. The only times he didn't like his mother were when she tried to make conversation that didn't want to be made, gluing a fake smile to her face and asking him about things she never used to care about. She did that more often nowadays, so he responded likewise.

Mrs. Maxwell continued. "Has Michael ever shown any interest in extracurricular activities? The science club? Debate team?"

Patricia shook her head again. "No. I offered it to him, but he refused."

"You know, kids who are enrolled in afterschool clubs or weekend activities tend to have better performances in school, and a better attitude overall. So, maybe it's time to consider something for your son." For the first time during the meeting, both women turned to look at Michael.

"Well, Michael? What do you have to say?"

"Science club is for geeks," he said simply. "I don't want to build a rocket out of a plastic bottle. I'd rather have the real thing."

Mrs. Maxwell sighed. She went back to her desk and took a long sip from her water bottle. "Well, then there's very little I can recommend for you, Michael. The point of school clubs is, sort of, to let kids experience real-world concepts in a classroom setting.”

“Which is boring,” Michael replied.

Mrs. Maxwell gave a nod, registering his response. She turned to address Patricia. “What about at home? Are there any problems there that may be causing Michael stress? That can often cause someone to act up in school."

Patricia's eyes widened. "Of course not! Not that I know of, at least."

"What about you, Michael? Do you have anything to add?"

"No." Nothing I'd say to you, that is.

Mrs. Maxwell nodded again. She did this so frequently, it reminded him of a bobblehead. "Another thing I've been noticing over time is that a source for bad behavior can often lie in the type of friends someone has." Her eyes trailed off towards the ceiling, then came down to find Michael.

Instantly, he did a double-take. Cory and Brendan were his two best friends, and nothing would ever change that. They had met on the third day of school after finding themselves in the same detention room.

That day, Michael had brought a pack of water balloons to school, hoping to liven up the usually boring recess hour. Little did he know, two other boys had been thinking the exact same thing. When none of the teachers had been looking, they had each fled individually from the yard and snuck into the nearest building to fill the balloons. They were fighting over water fountain privileges when a teacher came and caught them all.

"Great minds think alike, I suppose," Michael had said, and a bond was forged.

From that day on, he, Cory, and Brendan sat together at lunch, during lessons, and on the bus. Though the two boys didn't get good grades, and couldn't understand half of their homework, Michael enjoyed being in their company. They would meet on the weekends to play sports in the backyard. On rare occasions, they wandered around the downtown with whatever allowance their parents gave them. They'd also pull pranks on people they didn't like, but it was always something small, like a fake letter or a quarter stuck to the ground. Sure they goofed off in class sometimes, but who didn't?

"My friends are normal!" Michael countered, staring at Mrs. Maxwell in disbelief. "I don't care about their grades! And you're the one who's always talking about rights. What happened to everyone being equal?"

Mrs. Maxwell shook her head sadly. "You are who your friends are, Michael. I think that if you spent your time with the responsible people at this school, you'd be more responsible yourself."

"So you'd rather have me make friends with the dweebs in the science club just because I have the 'potential'?"

"Don't talk back to her, Michael! She knows what she's talking about!" Patricia immediately came to Mrs. Maxwell's defense. Still no surprise there.

"But my grades are perfect! Look, she even said so herself!"

"It's not just about grades, Mike! It's about your entire personality! Before you entered middle school, you were a sweet little boy. Now look at you! When was the last time you washed your hair?"

Michael reached up and found a small black tuft that hung limp on his forehead. He combed his fingers back, feeling the strands shift and twist away. They were soft, though a bit dirty from all his time spent outside.

"My hair's fine!" Michael sank back into his seat, his cheeks reddening.

For a few moments, Mrs. Maxwell did not speak. Her eyes moved back and forth between the many posters on her back wall. They depicted moronic phrases like "Reading makes you a better person!" and "Bully-free Zone!" She seemed to be weighing an idea on her tongue, arranging and processing it before speaking.

"If you’re still willing to consider an extracurricular activity, Ms. Rowan, I think I have something that might be a good fit. It’s almost summer again… and that means the Pokémon League’s starting another season." Michael closed his eyes and let out a sigh. "Kids from all over Sinnoh will be coming to get their starter pokémon from Professor Emerson. Maybe you could take Michael this year.”

Patricia made no response.

"I know it’s not typically the kind of activity thirteen-year-olds get into, but considering that Michael’s a self-motivated type of learner, and seems to prefer real-world applications to studying for exams, traveling and battling Gyms might be more a benefit to him than school clubs. There are lots of kids in the lower grades who’ve battled Gyms during summer vacations, and from what I’ve heard from their parents, it had a great impact on their character."

Patricia shook her head. "I don't know... he can be so reckless sometimes, that I just don't know... That Stunky... what if the same thing happens to his starter?"

"Perhaps having his own pokémon will teach him a thing or two about responsibility. You and Michael can raise the pokémon together, and then whenever you feel he's ready, you can take him to get his trainer card and he can start collecting badges.”

Patricia looked over to Michael, who shrugged. "I don't want a starter."

"And why not?" asked Mrs. Maxwell.

"Because it's a scam."

Mrs. Maxwell began to shake her head, a laugh escaping her lips. Patricia joined in, probably out of guilt. But to Michael, it made perfect sense. The little he knew about the Pokémon League was enough to convince him of its shadiness. Obviously, people who gave out free pokémon would be expecting something in return — if not money, then at least a contract. Would it involve pledging himself to them? Would he have to advertise their company? Were they just using kids as pawns to raise pokémon to their full power, them demanding them to be returned? The possibilities were endless. Michael stared at the palms of his hands for a while, caught in a loop of thought.

"Michael, how could it possibly be a scam?" Mrs. Maxwell said. "It's such a great learning opportunity. Think about it, we spent all year talking about the different species of pokémon, and this summer, you'll be able to have hands-on experience with them! It’ll make classes much more interesting for you."

"I don't want one, I already told you."

"You know, I think we should try this year," Patricia said, giving her son a glare. Michael's heart sank. If something had his mother's approval, it would happen no matter what. "Maybe it's the fact that he's never had a pokémon of his own that causes him to misbehave around them."

"I hope I'm right!" Mrs. Maxwell let out a cackle. Apparently, it was supposed to be funny.

By some invisible trigger, the two women rose and shook hands, officially ending the meeting. Patricia turned to leave, but before Michael could follow, Mrs. Maxwell put a hand on his shoulder and held him back.

"You're a smart kid, Michael," she whispered. "Don't waste your talents."

There was something in her eyes that he couldn't decipher. Hope? Forethought? She patted him on the shoulder, and he walked off without another word.



//////



The Rowans were lucky enough to have a house just outside the city, instead of being bottled up in an apartment like so many others were. It was back from the days when the family had money, when Michael's father was still alive and his two brothers, Richard and Brian, were still living with them. Michael secretly referred to them as the good days, though there had been nothing good about them at all. With three family members gone, all that was left were two strangers.

The house had two floors. Michael's bedroom was separate from the others — a cozy loft placed just above the kitchen. It had one large window overlooking his tiny backyard, and walls that were covered with posters. His shelves were overflowing with records, board games, and other random objects that had amassed through the years. It was nothing to be proud of, but a room was a room.

The first thing Michael did after coming home was slam his door and flop down onto his bed. He threw his backpack onto the ground, letting all the junk inside spill out.

Suspended for the rest of the year... what kind of idiot does that? And she even said that I get good grades. Moron. Even worse, now I have to survive a drive all the way to Sandgem to get some stupid pokémon from some guy I've never even heard of before. Why can't Mom just suck it up and accept the fact that she can’t control my life?

"Sku sku!"

His train of thought was interrupted by a muffled screech. Michael sprang up.

"Shit!" he whispered. He ran over to his closet and slid open the doors.

The Stunky was still there, in the cage he had bought from a hardware store. It was circling the perimeter uncertainly, its tail quivering. When it saw him, the Stunky let out an accusing growl.

"Shut up, shut up!" Michael kicked the cage, and the pokémon shrank back into a corner. He hadn’t told his mother that he had kept the Stunky, and was very careful to keep it hidden until he could sneak it out. Patricia was the biggest pro-pokémon rights person he had ever seen, and if she ever found out, there was no telling what could happen.

By the perfect stroke of luck, Patricia's voice sounded from downstairs. "Mike? Is everything all right?"

Michael looked at the Stunky one last time, giving it the sharpest, coldest glare he could manage, and closed the doors. Seconds later, Patricia entered the room, holding a metal tray and a kitchen towel.

"Yeah, everything's fine." He stepped away from the closet and sat down in his chair.

"What was that screech I heard?"

"Don't know. Probably something outside."

Patricia smiled a little. "Well, okay. Dinner will be ready soon. And I want you to go to bed straight after that."

Michael lifted an eyebrow. "Why?" Though he already knew what her next words would be, it was a good stalling tactic.

"I'll be driving you to Sandgem tomorrow. You'll be getting your starter. Come on, you already know this. You heard your teacher."

Michael didn’t hide his grimace. "She only said that to make you happy. I don't want a starter. It's all a freaking scam!"

"It is not a scam, Michael. It teaches you responsibility. This has been one conference too many. It's time you started thinking about your future and what you want to do with your life. I don't want you ending up a failure like..." Patricia paused, her lips pursed. "I don't want you ending up a failure at all, okay? No more arguments. I'll call you when the food's ready." With that, she turned to leave.

When the coast was clear, Michael jumped out of his chair and slid open the closet doors. The Stunky was peering at him through the bars, scared, but silent. He sighed with relief.

"That was a close one. You better keep quiet from now on, you little cretin. Hear me?" As he began to close the doors, the Stunky began to whimper. With a groan, Michael slid one open again and looked down at the pokémon.

"What now?"

No answer.

"Are you bored?" he asked.

The Stunky blinked.

"Are you tired?"

The Stunky blinked again. Its gaze was fixed on him, unwavering.

"Are you hungry?" he tried again.

The Stunky growled. Michael rolled his eyes.

"Too bad."

And then he closed the door.
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Old July 15th, 2010 (02:55 PM).
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I have to say, this is interesting so far. Haha, didn’t think Rowan would be a rebellious type. Poor Stunky! D: In the games, he may have an intimidating air to him, but he’s actually nice in the games. Then again, I guess he’ll have character development later in the story, which we’ll see later on.

Another thing I like about this chapter is you mention the children in Sinnoh start their journey at nine while Rowan is thirteen and the teacher thinking he’ll have a huge disadvantage. Hm, usually a lot of people either have the trainers start their journey in their teens (which is sorta breaking canon unless you’ll do a story base on Black and White) or in ages ten or eleven. It’s plausible the children can start at nine, considering there’s a lot of Youngsters in the game.

One thing I want to mention is how after the Skunty released his gas at the boys they didn’t complain about themselves being smelly. You did mention though they washed themselves after, so at least they did something about it. XD

Another thing is I would think Rowan would be interested in history, considering in the games he mentions about the legend of Sinnoh to the kids. I guess either the story of the legend of Sinnoh is moreso a myth and not history to him or he’ll be interested in Sinnoh’s history/legend later on in the story.

Well, off to a good start so far! Can’t wait for the next chapter!
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Old July 16th, 2010 (07:57 AM).
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Quote:
I have to say, this is interesting so far. Haha, didn’t think Rowan would be a rebellious type. Poor Stunky! D: In the games, he may have an intimidating air to him, but he’s actually nice in the games. Then again, I guess he’ll have character development later in the story, which we’ll see later on.
The story will center around how Michael transforms himself, in a way. That's what I love about writing this; I've never written a character like Michael's before.

Quote:
Another thing I like about this chapter is you mention the children in Sinnoh start their journey at nine while Rowan is thirteen and the teacher thinking he’ll have a huge disadvantage. Hm, usually a lot of people either have the trainers start their journey in their teens (which is sorta breaking canon unless you’ll do a story base on Black and White) or in ages ten or eleven. It’s plausible the children can start at nine, considering there’s a lot of Youngsters in the game.
I made the legal age to own a Pokemon to be nine, but the trainers don't actually start their journey until they get a Trainer Card. In the little world I built here, parents can order Trainer Cards for their children at any age, but kids can't enter the League until they actually have them. I'll clarify all this in later chapters, but I'm glad you noticed that.

Quote:
One thing I want to mention is how after the Skunty released his gas at the boys they didn’t complain about themselves being smelly. You did mention though they washed themselves after, so at least they did something about it. XD
Yeah... when you've got an angry teacher chasing you, you've got to have priorities

So, thanks for the review! Glad you like it so far
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Old July 20th, 2010 (07:07 AM). Edited June 14th, 2014 by Haruka of Hoenn.
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Chapter two! Enjoy. (It's one of the shorter ones. Gradually, they'll increase in length, but you'll have to bear with me for a while.)

0.2

The next morning, Michael was woken by a loud tapping on his door, followed by a shout from his mother.

"Michael, wake up! Come down for breakfast, I don't want you to be late!"

He pulled the covers over his burning eyes, shielding them from the outside light. From the confines of his closet, he heard the Stunky shuffling around, and from downstairs, the clatter of silverware. Morning sounds.

Here goes nothing...

Taking a deep breath, Michael threw off the covers and sprang to his feet, ignoring the rush of dizziness that followed. He threw on a random combination of clothes — faded jeans, and a T-shirt that advertised a long-forgotten brand. After giving the Stunky's cage a good kick to remind it to keep quiet, Michael descended the stairs.

Patricia awaited him behind the kitchen counter, already fully dressed and made up. She greeted him with a smile.

"Eat up, Mike. You have a big day ahead of you." She gestured towards the table, which held an assortment of steaming plates that looked like they could have fed three people.

A series of snide remarks ran through Michael's mind, conveniently arranged for him to choose. But he managed to remain silent while he ate, figuring it would only make things worse if he talked back. Michael forced down some bacon and eggs, took a few bites from an apple, and was packed away into the car in a matter of minutes. He turned his head away towards the window as his mother sat down beside him, hoping to stretch the silence through the entire ride. But as always, Patricia had other plans. Upon starting the car, she immediately sighed and began to gush.

"Oh, Michael, you have no idea how long I've waited for this day to come! You, getting your first pokémon and raising it all by yourself..."

"Mrs. Maxwell said you had to help me," Michael pointed out.

But Patricia was too caught up in her monologue to notice. "Aw, you'll be able to handle it, Mike, I know you will! So which one will you choose? They have a selection of three. They're all very adorable. I went to get a brochure, and I saw their pictures. Apparently, they’re really rare to find in the wild, but the lab breeds their own so they never have to be taken from their natural habitats. The League chose them specifically because the species are monotypes, and because their higher evolutions have a wide range of abilities. Um, what were they called again? I think they were... Turtwig, Chimchar, and Piplup? Yes, that's right! Turtwig, Chimchar, and Piplup. Has a nice ring to it! Don't you think so? Turtwig, Chimchar, Piplup... Turtwig, Chimchar, Piplup... Turtwig, Chimchar, Piplup..."

It went on like this for another one hour, twenty-seven minutes. By the time they left the highway and the trees that lined the road had cleared to reveal a sunny town, Michael's brain was fried from counting and the car's engine was sputtering.

"Well, here it is! Sandgem Town!" Patricia beamed, as they passed a billboard welcoming them in big, colorful letters. Michael lifted his cheek from the car window, his head heavy. But almost as soon as he laid eyes on the town, Michael knew he had seen all there was to see.

Sandgem, as he expected, was far less populated than Jubilife. It consisted more of open pastures than paved roads, and the tallest structures were wooden windmills with metal roosters perched on top. Houses were widely spaced. To the far south, the horizon was streaked with white sand, forming the beginnings of a beach. The entire place seemed so quiet, so secluded, that Michael wondered how a famous pokémon professor could ever live here.

The Pokémon Research Lab appeared in the middle of nowhere, against a background of puke-green trees. It was a shabby stone building with a large windows, and an urgent need of fresh paint. A large crowd of people was gathered by its door and dotted around the lawn. Michael immediately noticed that it consisted mostly of little boys and girls, who were all scurrying around their parents and talking. There were a few grandparents there as well, and the occasional party balloon. Suddenly, Michael felt very, very stupid.

Patricia pulled into the gate and drove into the property, where countless other cars were lined up by the fence, taking up almost every inch of space. After a good deal of searching, she finally squeezed in on a hillside, partially wedging her car in between two others.

This event must be a pretty big deal, Michael thought as he stepped out. After a lifetime of car exhaust and city pollutants, the sudden onslaught of clean, sweet air was almost gagging.

Patricia joined his side moments later, and took a look around. "Mmmm, isn't it lovely here?" She inhaled, then let out her breath with an aaaaah.

The two began to walk towards the lab, and with each step he took towards the crowd, Michael felt more and more out-of-place. Patricia tried to take his hand, but he immediately yanked it away.

"Will you stop? I know how to walk."

Patricia sighed.

Upon taking his place in line, Michael was pleased to see that no one was paying any particular attention to him. Apparently, the children there were too excited about getting their first pokémon to think about anything else. Michael, who had never bothered with pokémon or pokémon training in his life, knew roughly as much about the Pokémon League as a TV commercial did. He knew the basics, like that it involved traveling around the region to beat Gym leaders, that there was some wigged-up tournament every four years where people competed to become the League Champion, but it didn’t mean all that much to him. If you lived in Jubilife, you didn’t have time for pokémon, simple as that. You were too busy paying bills, keeping your job, building your future. So far, Michael had been perfectly happy living this way, but now it seemed, Patricia wanted to blast him back to preschool.

There was a tall outdoor clock positioned just in front of the lab, where everyone standing in line could see it. It was one of the new digital models, and was programmed to count down instead of up. Every time the timer reached zero, a loud bell rang, and a batch of four or five kids with their parents would rush in through the lab doors. There would be a few seconds of uproar as the crowd shifted forward, then the clock would reset to 5:00 and the chatter would settle down once more.

Through it all, Michael stood with his shoulders hunched, drawing circles in the dirt with his shoes. The other kids were running about and chatting, throwing around rapid, irrelevant questions. Michael ignored them, focusing his attention on the clock's display, watching as it ticked from 5:00 down to 1:00. Ding ding! Four more out of the way.

When at last his portion of the line was called, Patricia escorted him in with a girly squeal. He trailed behind a group of screaming children, letting them push open the doors to the lab.

Inside, the building was spacious and drafty. The walls were adorned with drawings of pokémon, all wearing cartoon-character smiles. The children crowded around a mural of the starters. It was obviously hand painted — the lines were wobbly and the color was smeared and uneven. Nevertheless, the children gazed upon it as if it were a great masterpiece.

The only thing inside the lab that aroused his interest — and also the thing most of the children ignored — was a colorful timeline that ran across the lobby's perimeter. It depicted a brief history of pokémon research, and was decorated with photos, posters detailing facts, and occasionally even relics. Michael ran his eyes over the collection, which covered the years from 2000 B.C. all the way to the present. The current year was left blank, because there was always more to come.

Right then, a loud voice sailed over the chatter.

"Excuse me, excuse me!"

Michael turned to see a short, elderly man shove his way through the crowd. At first, he didn't attach any significance to him, because the man was a head shorter than most of the adults. He wore a white lab coat with the label 'Professor Emerson' stitched onto the pocket. His smile seemed friendly.

"Welcome to my laboratory!" he wheezed. "Children, this way. Parents, may I please ask you to wait in the lobby?"

The parents all obeyed without hesitation, waving as they watched their children go. From somewhere among them, he caught a glimpse of his mother's face. She was smiling directly at him, her eyes dancing. Michael felt his face redden. What was this, a graduation ceremony?

Professor Emerson ushered the kids through a narrow hallway. They carried on their conversations from outside, their voices reduced to excited whispers. And Michael was right in the middle of it. At one point, he felt a tap on his shoulder.

"So which one are you getting?" asked a girl with pigtails.

"I don't know," he replied, keeping his eyes fixed on the professor's bald spot. He could almost see his own face reflected in it, long and expressionless.

The professor led them into a small room, well distanced from the hubbub of the front lobby. The walls weren't even painted here, and the tiled floor was dirty, despite someone’s evident efforts to scrub it. The children all crowded around a long wooden table. Fortunately, Michael was taller than the rest, so he didn't have to push them out of his way to see what was on it. The table contained three large boxes standing side-by-side. Each contained a different label - 'PIPLUP', 'TURTWIG', and 'CHIMCHAR' - scrawled in black marker.

Michael couldn't help but think: That's it?

The professor stepped behind the table. "All right, kids, ah, pick out whatever one you -"

Before he could finish, the kids leaped forward. A tide of squirming hands rose up towards the boxes, each trying to get the other out of their way.

"Kids, please be patient! You will all get your turn!" Professor Emerson shouted, but to no avail.

One hand clasped firmly around the ridge of the Piplup box and pulled. A second later the box was on the floor, with hundreds of gray pokéballs rolling around the room. The professor grabbed the sides of his head.

"No, no, no! What are you doing? Boys and girls, pick those up right now!"

He was ignored.

"I got dibs on the Piplups!" one boy shouted, and dove down into the pile.

"Hey I wanna go next!" another boy said.

"That's not fair!" the pigtailed girl stamped her foot. "Stop it!"

"Enough!" the professor shouted, his neck cords bulging. "Children, please, form an orderly line in front of the boxes!"

"Hey professor, why does your face go all red when you yell?" another girl said.

The professor's smile was beginning to twitch. "It's a cardiovascular condition. Now please, form a line."

"Is that like your heart?"

"Form a line please!"

"Hey look, I can juggle!" Michael turned his head. A boy had crept up beside the Chimchar box, and was tossing three pokéballs into the air. Several kids began to clap.

"Please, put those down now! Go on, form a line!"

"I wanna juggle too!"

"Me too!"

The professor jumped back as another box was ripped in half. The kids amassed in front of the table, grabbing as many pokéballs as they could hold. Two girls began running around the room, pelting each other. Others were trying to juggle, hitting the ceiling lamps and walls. Meanwhile, the professor was treading through the mess, arms flailing.

"Children, please, calm down! Pick one, just one!"

The Turtwig box was the only one still intact, which two boys were taking care of, gripping it by the edges and tugging it in separate directions. Their game of tug-of-war ended with a loud rrrip, and a fountain of silver pokéballs spilled out onto the floor. Shreds of cardboard drifted to their feet. When Professor Emerson rushed to separate them, he slipped on a pokéball and fell on his side. His yelp was lost in the laughter. Finally, he let out a scream.

"Everyone take a pokémon and OUT!"

The box fell to the floor, and the boys ran off in separate directions.

"OUT! OUT! OUT!"

One by one, the children slowly left the room. One boy skipped away with four pokéballs hidden in his shirt. The professor didn't notice. The last one to go was a weeping girl, who left with nothing at all.

Michael was the only one left, standing amid a room that appeared to have been swept by a hurricane.

Without a word, he stepped forward and extended a hand to Professor Emerson. The man rose to his feet, taking a series of long, deep breaths.

"... Animals... those kids..." He bent over the table and clutched his stomach. "They don't pay me enough to do this... every blasted year the same thing..."

“Sorry ‘bout that," Michael said. "I didn't want to be here anyway. My mom, she only sent me because —”

The professor raised his hand with a grimace. "Look, I don't care, I don't care! Just grab a pokéball and get out."

Michael looked down. The floor was littered with them. The pokéballs were all identical — shiny and metal. He bent down and picked one up. It felt cool in his hands.

Michael looked up at the professor again. "Can I, uh, release it to see what it is? I still want to –"

"Get out!" Emerson yelled. Michael crinkled his nose, and the man sighed. "Just... just get the hell out, kid... I have fifty more waiting outside the lab..."

As Michael stepped towards the exit, the professor turned away. He sat down in a corner and began to light a cigarette.



//////



When Michael reached the lobby, his mother greeted him with a bear hug.

"Well, how was it?" She beamed.

"The kids were crazy. They knocked the professor down and everything."

"Well, kids will be kids! So, which one did you get?"

Michael shrugged. "Don't know. The room was a mess and there were pokéballs everywhere, so the guy just made me pick a random one."

"Oh." Patricia's smile faded a little. Evidently, this wasn't the heartwarming mother-son moment she had been expecting. "Well, let's find out! Is there some special way of releasing it?"

Michael shrugged again and lifted the pokéball up to eye level. The device was entirely smooth, except for a tiny red crank positioned along the center line.

"Try turning that, see what it does," Patricia said.

Michael took a deep breath. He turned the knob with his finger and held the pokéball out at arm's length. The bottom part of the sphere fell down along an inner hinge, revealing a hollow interior. Moments later, a blinding white flash filled the room.

"Aaargh!" Michael slammed his hands over his face, and the pokéball clattered to the floor. All around him, he heard a series of gasps.

"Whoa!" someone shouted.

Michael opened his stinging eyes, and found himself peering down at a runty Turtwig. It looked nothing like its drawing. Its skin was an aquamarine blue instead of the grass green it was painted with, and the sprout on its head was paler than the norm. Its shell was a light brown, and its eyes were yellow. They stared back.

"Tu-tur?" It cocked its head. Michael lowered his hands from his face, revealing a crowd of wide-eyed people surrounding him.

"Your Turtwig's all funny-looking!" said a boy. "Look, mine's a different color than yours!" He pointed to his Turtwig, which was the exact copy of the mural.

"Hey, mine too!" shouted a girl. Another carbon copy stood at her side. Same green skin. Same black eyes. They were staring at him too.

A feeling of dread filled Michael's heart. "You mean... mine's defective?" He looked down at his own Turtwig, not sure what to do. The other kids had begun to laugh. They were younger and less mature than he was. And they were laughing.

Patricia rushed to his side and wrapped her arms around his shoulders. "Now, now, there is no such thing as a defective pokémon! We'll just go see the professor and ask him about it. Pick him up, Michael."

With great reluctance, Michael lifted the pokémon into his arms. It was light for its size, and looked even more underfed up-close. The people parted as Patricia led him through, but their eyes followed Michael every step of the way, boring into him from all sides.

I have a defective pokémon... a ****ing defective pokémon. And I didn't even want a pokémon.

Patricia rounded the corner and entered the same hallway Michael had left moments ago.

"Where was the room?" she asked, and Michael pointed to the door. When she knocked, Michael heard a faint sigh.

"Come in!" Professor Emerson said, his voice coated with honey. Patricia pushed open the door and entered. The professor was still sitting in his chair, amidst all the rubble. This time he was chewing gum, though the smell of smoke still lingered in the air.

When he saw Michael, his face fell. "Oh, it’s you. What now?"

Patricia stepped forward. "My son here received a Turtwig from you, and it looks different from everyone else's. We were wondering about that." She motioned for Michael to come forward. The Turtwig squealed as he held it up to the light.

Professor Emerson rose from his chair to take a look at the pokémon. He cupped its head in his large hands, his gaze lingering on its oddly-colored skin.

"Hmm... well, yes, there appears to be a slight difference in pigmentation... Eh, it’s inconsequential. Probably a birth defect. Nothing to worry about. You may go now."

Before they had time to protest, Emerson ushered them out of the room. Before he closed the door, he took a quick glance down the hallway.

"If there’s anybody else coming, tell them they can wait." He winked, and shut the door.

Patricia turned to Michael and opened her mouth to speak, probably some predetermined phrase of consolation. Michael groaned. "Whatever. I don't care. Just take me home already." He dropped the Turtwig onto the floor. Then, he reached into his pocket for the pokéball, turned the knob, and watched the bolt of white light suck the creature away.
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Old July 20th, 2010 (09:38 AM).
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Elite Overlord LeSabre™ Elite Overlord LeSabre™ is offline
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First fan fic review in months

Anyway, normally the main character receiving a shiny would be a big red flag. However, it makes perfect sense here since:
1. Shiny Pokemon are a huge mystery at this point in time, and they are regarded as defective.
2. Michael is destined, as we know, to become a researcher.

I figure somewhere down the line, he'll gain interest in why his Turtwig is colored differently, and that'll be (at least part of) what later motivates him to begin researching Pokemon. So throwing something as mysterious and unknown as a shiny Pokemon in his hands works here.

Gotta love Emerson and how he utterly despises his job

I could draw parallels between Michael and my own character (you know who she is) since both started at an older age and weren't exactly enthusiastic at first about training, but each of them had very different reasons for why they started training late.

You draw a very interesting picture of Michael Rowan in his early years. You can see his potential to be an excellent researcher by his grades in school and his intelligence, but his attitude and personality looks like they'll go through a huge change throughout the course of the story, and I am looking forward to seeing how that plays out.
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Old July 20th, 2010 (12:40 PM).
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Haruka of Hoenn Haruka of Hoenn is offline
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Hey, welcome back!

Quote originally posted by Elite Overlord LeSabre™:
I figure somewhere down the line, he'll gain interest in why his Turtwig is colored differently, and that'll be (at least part of) what later motivates him to begin researching Pokemon. So throwing something as mysterious and unknown as a shiny Pokemon in his hands works here.
That's exactly what I was thinking. Although, like you also said, there's gonna be a bit more to it. (Professor Rowan's specialty is evolution, so I'll definitely develop that.)

As for Emerson, he was one of my quirk characters... yep.

Quote originally posted by Elite Overlord LeSabre™:
You draw a very interesting picture of Michael Rowan in his early years. You can see his potential to be an excellent researcher by his grades in school and his intelligence, but his attitude and personality looks like they'll go through a huge change throughout the course of the story, and I am looking forward to seeing how that plays out.
The story will focus around Michael's transformation... that's the fun of it

So, thanks for the review! Next chapter in one week. (And this time, I'll actually be able to fulfill that promise.)
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Old July 21st, 2010 (08:52 PM).
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Haha, I like the scene where the children went wild when getting their starters. I feel sorry for Emerson having to go through all that. XD Soon, Rowan will have to experience that when he becomes professor. Speaking of Emerson, even though his characterization is a bit unexpected for a professor, I still like him. XD

Like LeSabre, I too would get upset if a character has a shiny, but Rowan having one is reasonable. I’m sure too the Turtwig will be the start of Michael going for a researcher career path.

Sorry for a short review, not too much going on in this chapter. D: I still enjoyed it, though. Can’t wait for next chapter!
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Old July 22nd, 2010 (07:17 AM).
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Quote originally posted by Bay Alexison:
Haha, I like the scene where the children went wild when getting their starters. I feel sorry for Emerson having to go through all that. XD Soon, Rowan will have to experience that when he becomes professor. Speaking of Emerson, even though his characterization is a bit unexpected for a professor, I still like him. XD

Like LeSabre, I too would get upset if a character has a shiny, but Rowan having one is reasonable. I’m sure too the Turtwig will be the start of Michael going for a researcher career path.

Sorry for a short review, not too much going on in this chapter. D: I still enjoyed it, though. Can’t wait for next chapter!
I liked that scene as well It'll play a significance later on, but I won't spoil anything.

So anyways, glad you liked the chapter! Next chapter in one week, as usual.
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Old July 31st, 2010 (06:15 AM). Edited June 14th, 2014 by Haruka of Hoenn.
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High time to be postin' chapter three...


Decided to post this one a day early, since it's one of the shorter ones as well. (You're probably tired of hearing that, so I'll explain: This is a turning point in the story. You'll see why as you read. The next chapter will be short too, and after that, they'll start lengthening.)

And without further ado, chapter three.


0.3

When Michael got home, the Stunky was squealing. Upon slamming the door to his room, making sure his old 'DO NOT DISTURB' sign was visible, he opened the closet and looked down. The Stunky was shuffling around in its cage, clawing at the metal with a hungry fervor. When it saw him, it mewed again, this time louder. Michael let out a groan.

He ran down to the kitchen and grabbed three strings of bacon from the breakfast table, then came back and tossed them into the cage. The Stunky pounced upon the food immediately, tearing and chewing.

"At least that'll keep you quiet," Michael grumbled, then slid the doors closed.

He descended the stairs again, this time turning into the living room, where the only phone in the house was kept. He plopped down into one of the armchairs, figuring he could use a friend’s advice.

Michael twirled the rotary, and after three rings, Cory's voice answered. "Hello?"

"Hey," Michael said.

"Hey Mike. I heard about the suspension... Me and Brendan got them too. Till the end of the year, right?"

"Right."

"I know! Man, imagine what we could do with an extra week of no school! It's like paradise!"

Michael twisted the cord around his index finger. "Yep."

There was a pause on the other end. "Uh, Mike? You sound upset. Are you mad about it or something?"

"No, no. I was actually really happy about it, but my mom just officially ruined summer for me."

"What'd she do?"

"She took me to Sandgem to get a starter pokémon... it was such a drag."

"From Professor Chrome Dome?"

"Yeah."

"Whoa! How bad was it?"

"Like, I could use it as a mirror." Michael began to laugh. "And get this, he was totally hooked on smoking. He lit up right there in his office, after all the kids left. The pokéballs all got mixed up, so I had to pick a random one. It was a Turtwig, but it was all weird-looking. "

"Weird how?"

"The color. It was different. You know how Turtwigs are supposed to be this grassy green color? And their eyes are black? Well, mine's not. Mine's this light blue-green, and its eyes are yellow."

"Wow... was it defective or something?"

It often scared Michael how his friends could think on the same plane as he did. "Yeah," he answered. "And that's not even the point, I mean, that professor guy is a total dipstick. When me and my mom went to ask what was up with it, he kicked us out. He didn't even answer our question. So now I'm stuck with a crappy Turtwig and a mom who's gonna make me raise it for the rest of summer."

"Bummer," Cory said slowly. "No, seriously, I feel your pain. But it's not all bad right? I mean, when I got my starter, my mom said that she was gonna force me to raise it too, but she never did anything. I haven't opened that pokéball in three years and I don't think she cares. My grades are more important to her."

"Still, our moms are different. Mine usually keeps her promises." Michael sighed. "And I don't even want to raise a pokémon. It's stupid."

Cory was silent for a few moments. Michael could tell he was eating something, due to faint crunching noises on the other end. "Hey, do you still have that Stunky?" he asked suddenly.

"Yeah," Michael said.

"Do you think you can sneak out today and drop it off at my pad? Then we could all do experiments on it. I already know some. I found this special food recipe that can help pokémon grow super powerful. We should try it on the Stunky to see if it works. Think about it, we could have the most powerful pokémon on the block! We'll pay people to battle us, and we'll make a fortune!"

Michael laughed along with his friend, and instantly felt his energy return. “Sure thing.”

"So where is it right now?" Cory said.

"Closet."

"Cool. Can you come over in a minute, then? The old man's out with friends, and he won’t care what we’re up to. We'll use the garage."

Michael looked over his shoulder. Somewhere in the kitchen, he heard the clang of pots and pans. If he got caught, there was no telling what Patricia would do to him.

"Yeah. I'll be there."



//////



Michael kept a thick rope rolled up beneath his bed, unbeknownst to his mother. He had put it there when he was six, and from then on, used it whenever he needed to make a getaway.

When he got to his room and kneeled down, Michael found it waiting there, like an old friend. One end was tied to the bed’s leg, in an unbreakable knot that would fully support his weight.

Michael pulled out the rest of its length, and with a mass of coils in his hand, he pushed open his window and threw it out. The rope unraveled with a quick hiss, dropping all the way into the grass. Michael went over to his closet and took out the Stunky's cage, ignoring the pokémon’s squeaks as he sat down onto the pane.

He opened the window wider and peered down at the ground. He no longer had a fear of heights, thanks to years of experience. Looping his arm through the cage’s handle, Michael gripped the rope with both hands and pushed himself off of the edge. After a moment of exhilaration, he tightened his grip and let himself swing back towards the wall of the house, using his feet to cushion the impact. The Stunky began to screech and rattle about, but the cage was secure. Score. Michael grunted, and began to inch his way down.

Throughout the whole thing, the Stunky was restless. It kept turning in place, lifting its tail threateningly, as if being outside again had suddenly thrown its sense of location out of whack. Michael was able to suck up his annoyance until he was safely on the ground.

You're gonna get yours soon anyway... he thought with a smile.

Cory's house stood on the other side of the street, at the very end of the lane. His family was too poor and lazy to bother with appearances, so the lawn was overgrown and the paint on the driveway was faded. The gate in front of the house was always unlocked, and Michael let himself in with ease. He went over to the garage door and knocked.

"Hey guys, I'm here."

"All right, hang on!" came a muffled voice. Seconds later, Cory slid up the door to reveal a messy garage. Brendan was standing off to the side, around a wooden table. Both boys wore thick gloves.

"Bring it in, bring it in." Cory grinned. Michael set the cage onto the table, directly beneath the ceiling lamp. The Stunky paced in circles some more, then its eyes finally locked on its captors.

"Here, take a pair of these." Brendan threw Michael an extra pair of gloves. "Pokémon can get nasty."

Michael pulled them on, and Cory clapped his hands.

"All right. Gentlemen, say hello to the food of the future!" He took down a glass container from the shelf, and opened it to reveal a strange brown mixture.

"So that's supposed to make the Stunky super strong?" Michael said.

"Yup. I got the recipe from a garden catalogue. It's supposed to make plants grow faster, and since it works on plants then I guess it can work on pokémon, right?"

"Ha! Wouldn't it be the coolest thing if its tail grew to the size of a truck?" Brendan grinned. "We could spray the whole town!"

Michael snorted. "Well, what are we standing around for? Let's do it!"

"Yeah!" Cory lifted the container and held it over the cage. "Begin the countdown! Ten!"

"Nine!" Michael shouted.

"Eight!" Brendan joined in.

"Seven!"

"Six!"

"Five!"

"Four!"

"Three!"

"Two!"


"ONE!" Cory turned the box over and let the mixture spill out, releasing a puff of dust. Michael's nostrils burned from the smell of fertilizer. The Stunky rushed to get out of the way, but the cloud swallowed it whole. The cage shook with the force of its flails.

"Hold it, hold it!" Michael cried. "It's gonna fall off the table!"

Cory steadied the cage with his hands. His glasses were coated in brown film. "The transformation's happening! Get some water, quick!"

Brendan ran out of the garage and came back a few seconds later with a hose in his hands.

"Get back!"

He pulled the handle, and a jet of water shot out of the nozzle. The blast hit the Stunky against the wall of the cage, causing the whole thing to topple off the table. The remains of Cory's mixture trickled away into the driveway, revealing a shaking Stunky. Its fur was black and dripping, but other than that, there was no change. Michael's shoulders sagged.

"Well that was a waste of time."

"Tell me about it." Brendan lowered his arms, letting the dripping hose sag to the ground.

Cory kneeled down beside the Stunky, wiping his lenses. "I don't get it. I got the recipe right..."

"Well apparently you didn't." Michael said. "What catalogue did you get it from anyway?"

Cory shrugged. "Don't know. Some magazine my mom had in her closet. It's from like five years ago."

"That explains it," Brendan said. "They've probably come up with a better one now. One that actually works."

The three boys stood in silence for a while.

"So what now?" Michael crossed his arms.

Cory thought for a moment, then smiled. "Hey, I have an idea." He went back to the shelves and took down a second box. This one was larger, and was filled with glinting metal equipment.

"What's that for?"

"I read in the paper that a hospital was offering this new type of surgery. Debridisomething. We could try it on the Stunky."

"Nice." Michael smiled.

"But we don't even know what Debridi is," Brendan said. "What if we don't do it right and it dies?"

"So?" Cory said.

"I don't know, it just seems like a waste. We did all that to catch it, and we didn't even have time to play around with it. We should do the surgery last."

Cory shrugged and placed the box back onto the shelf. "Whatever. Hey, let's go watch the Space Race now. We'll sneak some soda from the fridge."

"Sure," Michael said.

"Right behind ya."

The boys took off their gloves and cleaned up the best they could before going into the house. Michael was the last to leave the garage. He took one final look at the Stunky, who had watched them in silence, then slammed the door behind him.




//////



The three of them proceeded into Cory’s living room, a narrow space stuffed with a bit more furniture than it was meant to hold. A TV box rested on a long table, consisting of a rounded screen, some dials, and a single speaker on the right side. Michael and Brendan settled onto the couch in front of it, and after bringing them their drinks, Cory began to fiddle with the channels. He fixed it on News Channel Five, which was owned by SNN, the largest news company in the country. It aired the Space Race twice every day without failure — once in the morning, once in the evening. Even when there weren’t any new developments, they always aired commentaries and analyses, keeping things fresh instead of filling all their time with recaps of previous coverage. Over the course of a few months, Michael learned more than school had ever told him about outer space, the Earth, and even a bit of rocket science.

Once the channel logo had appeared, Cory sat down beside the other boys and opened his soda. “All right, here it comes…”

The screen flickered, and the image of a middle-aged man appeared, sitting behind a desk against the backdrop of a starry sky. This was Sinnoh’s main anchorman, Freddie Horner. During the Space Race, he was an almost ubiquitous presence on the news — and despite the other guests and reporters who appeared on the program, it was always him before the camera whenever there was a new update.

For the next two hours, Michael sat leaning forward, wholly immersed in his words. Apparently, Team Rocket’s spacecraft had taken snapshots of the moon, and had transmitted them successfully back to Earth. The spacecraft had been launched early in January, as part of Hoenn’s campaign to unlock the secrets of the first extraterrestrial body within man’s reach. After Freddie Horner recounted the mission, the TV displayed a slideshow of the pictures. The moon was nothing interesting, just a giant grey ball covered in craters. There was no evidence of life on its surface, neither people nor pokémon.

Michael and his friends devotedly tuned in every afternoon to check up on Sinnoh's own team of scientists, Team Galactic. Like most of the Sinnoh population, he, Cory, and Brendan shared a desire to beat Hoenn — although, like most of the Sinnoh population, they weren’t always sure what this meant. Most of the time, the Space Race seemed like a back-and-forth relay, one team one-upping the other with a new record or novelty. Occasionally, a real milestone was made, but after the excitement over the actual event wore off, it would still boil down to one country getting the glory, while the other seethed with frustration and tried to top it.

Eventually, Michael simply took ‘victory’ to mean making the most groundbreaking accomplishment, something that would tip the scales in Sinnoh’s favor so much that they’d be permanently stuck there. He didn’t yet know what that would be, but he knew he would recognize it when it happened.

In the meantime, he kept a mental tally of achievements as the years went by, celebrating whenever their country was in the lead. Up until that moment, it had been a tie. (Team Galactic had sent the first man into space the previous September.) But of course, the Rockets always found a way to turn the tables.


Once the program was over, the boys ceremonially slapped their hands against the pillows of the couch, mocking Team Rocket and admonishing Team Galactic for letting their guard down.

“I’m telling you guys, this is only the beginning.” Cory was saying. “My mom got the latest paper, and it says in there that Team Rocket’s got the whole mission planned out. They’re gonna land a person on there, and then they’re gonna start building a huge colony that can support life. People might actually start living on the moon twenty years from now.”

Brendan wrinkled his nose. “Sounds like a drag to me. Farming my own food, living under a dome, seeing the same people over and over again… It’ll probably be years before they figure out how to hook up a TV there.”

“Well, look on the bright side,” Michael said. “If Team Rocket locks themselves up in a bubble, that’ll leave Team Galactic free to focus on the important stuff.”

“Like what?” asked Brendan.

“Like this.” Michael stood and went over to a table, where Cory kept his newspapers. He took the latest issue of Sinnoh Post, the one that had first announced the moon pictures, and began to leaf through it. “I forgot where I read this, but someone said that Team Galactic found samples of the kinds of rocks that were on the moon, and they’re completely different from anything that’s found on Earth. Most of the rocks here have been weathered too much, and because of all the things that live in the soil, they’re always changing and being broken down. But the rocks on the moon aren’t being weathered at all. They’re much stronger and harder, and if Team Galactic can synthesize a new material from them, they can revolutionize the way we build stuff. So while Team Rocket grows seeds in plastic bags, Team Galactic’s gonna be improving life for people back here. And that’s what’s important.”

He lowered the newspaper, and saw his friends looking back at him in interest. With his can of soda in hand, Cory nodded slowly. “Yeah. That’s some deep stuff. I like your thinking, Mike.”

Michael gave a shrug, but smiled. “Hey. I’m just saying what I read.”

Cory brought over the entire stack of newspapers, and the boys spent some time flipping through the old news, picking out interesting articles and laughing at the advertisements. But Michael knew that he was running on borrowed time, so he was careful to take his leave before too much of it could pass. Filled with a renewed sense of desire and purpose, he parted with his friends and set off towards home.

Getting back up to his room was always harder than coming down, but this time it was made worse by constantly-dripping cage, and the Stunky pausing every so often to shake the water off its hide. When he finally arrived in his room, Michael dropped the cage onto the carpet with a sigh. He pulled the rope back up and closed the window.

"Welcome back."

Michael jumped. At first he thought he was hearing things, but when he turned around, he saw that Patricia was seated at his desk. Her arms were folded in her lap, and her expression was perfectly calm. Michael's heart sank.

"I come into my son's room to check up on him, and I see this." She gestured towards the rope. "And an open window. Two hours later, he comes back. With the Stunky." Patricia rose to her feet. Behind her eyes, a storm was brewing. "Let me guess. You were at your friend's house, weren't you?"

"It's not what it looks like!" Michael said. "I was going to put it back! To release it back into the wild!"

"STOP TALKING!" Patricia roared, and Michael shrank against the wall. She rose from her chair and advanced towards him, fingers curling into fists. "I know you weren't just about to release it. The cage is soaking wet, and that Stunky looks like it's been through a hurricane! It was one thing to harass that poor creature in school, but to take it home too? What were you planning on doing with it, hmm?"

Michael cleared his throat. "Just... keep it as a pet."

"You know what? I don't believe you. I don't believe a single word that comes out of your mouth anymore. I really, truly thought that when I took you to get your Turtwig, everything would be all right. And now that I see this, I'm beginning to wonder whether I should go back to Sandgem myself and return it! Apparently you didn't hear what your teacher said. Your behavior got you suspended from school! This isn’t about some detention or referral to the guidance counselor anymore — your entire future is at stake here!”

Michael scoffed, and Patricia spread out her arms emphatically. “What, you don’t believe me? You don’t think that’s true? What about when you get to high school? When all the other kids around you are going to be focusing on their goals and their careers, and you’re still sitting in detention for chasing Stunkies around playgrounds, what do you think that’ll say about you? What do you think it says to a mother when she finds out that her son wastes his time running off from class, sneaking into movie theaters, and fooling around with school property? Oh, I forgot. You don’t care about any of that. After all, school doesn’t matter to big bad Michael. As long as you’ve got the coolest records and are up to date on all those shows you watch, everything’s fine and dandy.”

“So you’d rather have me challenge Gyms?” Michael blurted. “Go around battling some stupid tournament instead of learning? I thought you wanted me to focus on school!”

“You and I both know that grades aren’t your problem, Michael,” Patricia replied. “Your problem is your attitude! And believe me, if you don’t fix that, then your brains will go down the same way. You can’t avoid it forever. Either you start listening to what adults are telling you and start acting responsibly, or you become a dropout and spend the rest of your life switching from job to job. I think you know which of those options is the right one to choose, and learning to treat other living things with respect is a good place to start! Because right now, you obviously have no constructive input from any of your activities. Even worse are those hooligans you hang out with…”

Michael clenched his fists. "Will you stop including my friends into every single complaint you have of me? You blame them for everything! In a few weeks you'll start blaming them for the fucking bad weather!"

Patricia's flush deepened. "Don't you dare talk like that to me! If I hadn't found out what you were doing with that Stunky today, the same thing would probably have happened to your Turtwig!"

"That's not true!" he said automatically.

But Patricia lowered her gaze, shaking her head. "I can't believe this... after all I've done for you, this is how you repay me? Have I been that bad of a mother to you?"

Michael contemplated answering, but held his tongue.

No. Not now.

"You treat pokémon as if they were your toys! Your toys, Michael! Do you understand how that makes me feel?"

Michael turned away and crossed his arms.

"Answer me!"

He remained silent.

"Michael, you can't spend the rest of your life like this! I know you care about your future as much as I do!"

Michael had been determined to remain silent for the rest of the conversation, at least until his mother had finished blowing off steam. But right at that moment, he felt something click. A series of events assembled in his mind. School. His brothers. His childhood. The montage nearly overrode the image of his mother, red and haughty and ticking like a clock.

Then, the words seemed to push themselves forward. "You don't care," Michael said. "You never did, and you never will."

There was a terribly long silence. Patricia drew back a little. The words seemed to strike a chord somewhere in her heart, and for a moment, she just stood there.

When she finally spoke, her voice wobbled. "Whatever you have going on in that head of yours, you better kick it out fast. For now, you're grounded. No phone. No television. No contact with those kids. You are not to set foot outside this house without my permission. That will give you some time to think about what you just said to me." Patricia left without another word. The door slammed loudly, but after that, the house was dead quiet. Even the Stunky had stopped whimpering. It was peering through the bars now, looking at Michael curiously.

It's all that stupid Stunky's fault... Michael decided. But he was too weary to do anything about it.

The conversation between him and his mother had been short, but in that time, Michael had managed to sever their already fragile bond. And deep down, he knew it would never mend again.
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Old July 31st, 2010 (09:01 AM).
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Bay Alexison Bay Alexison is offline
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I feel sorry for that Stunky. With the boys putting that fertilizer on him and then soaking him is just mean. D: At least though they didn’t do surgery on him. >.> Also, nice reference with Team Galatic and Team Rocket doing the Space Race there. However, isn’t Team Rocket Kanto? I think you mention something about that in the first chapter, so I probably missed it. D:

The part where Michael and his mother fight all I have to say is ouch. Makes me wonder how their relationship got bad like this. Seems like their relationship is going really downhill now after that fight, though. D: I did notice so far in this story there have been a couple mentions of his childhood and his brothers. I think probably Michael’s memories of the past have something to do with how he and his mother aren’t get along, most likely. Guess I’ll have to wait and see.

Yeah, sorry for another short review. D: Still an enjoyable read, though. Can’t wait for the next chapter!
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  #11    
Old July 31st, 2010 (01:34 PM).
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Quote originally posted by Bay Alexison:
I feel sorry for that Stunky. With the boys putting that fertilizer on him and then soaking him is just mean. D: At least though they didn’t do surgery on him. >.> Also, nice reference with Team Galatic and Team Rocket doing the Space Race there. However, isn’t Team Rocket Kanto? I think you mention something about that in the first chapter, so I probably missed it. D:
Yes, Team Rocket is Kanto, but I got the idea to merge a little bit of both. (Since, after all, Hoenn has the Rocket Launch center in Mosdeep, and Team Rocket's name is so delightfully obvious.)


Quote originally posted by Bay Alexison:
The part where Michael and his mother fight all I have to say is ouch. Makes me wonder how their relationship got bad like this. Seems like their relationship is going really downhill now after that fight, though. D: I did notice so far in this story there have been a couple mentions of his childhood and his brothers. I think probably Michael’s memories of the past have something to do with how he and his mother aren’t get along, most likely. Guess I’ll have to wait and see.
You are correct. But I'll get onto more of that later. This chapter will be one of the bigger chunks of information I'll have in one sitting, and the rest will be revealed piece by piece. Or maybe not, I don't know. Whichever way the story goes. But I'll definitely be developing their story as it continues.

See you next chapter!
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Old August 3rd, 2010 (09:02 AM).
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Elite Overlord LeSabre™ Elite Overlord LeSabre™ is offline
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ERROR...ERROR...
took out the Stunky's cage

Ah, good ol' parent-child arguments... I've had more than my fair share of those, sad to admit. But cruel experiments on Pokemon can be fun... Personally, I've always wanted to see what happens when you drop a Pikachu from 20 feet high onto a busy freeway below.

About the two teams... space exploration today, world domination tomorrow xD

Good chapter overall, as we finally see the event that gets Michael out of the house, perhaps never to return again... My apologies for the short review, but the adventure hasn't started yet. IIRC from the chapters you sent me, there will be more to comment on next chapter See you then xD
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Old August 3rd, 2010 (03:55 PM).
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Quote originally posted by Elite Overlord LeSabre™:
ERROR...ERROR...
took out the Stunky's cage
Hey, thanks for stopping by!

And yeah, that error was mentioned on SPPF but I forgot to correct it before I posted it here Good eye.

Quote originally posted by Elite Overlord LeSabre™:
Ah, good ol' parent-child arguments... I've had more than my fair share of those, sad to admit. But cruel experiments on Pokemon can be fun... Personally, I've always wanted to see what happens when you drop a Pikachu from 20 feet high onto a busy freeway below.



Quote originally posted by Elite Overlord LeSabre™:
About the two teams... space exploration today, world domination tomorrow xD

Yeah, I love how I tied that in there... I guess space exploration can inspire someone further in their career.

Quote originally posted by Elite Overlord LeSabre™:
Good chapter overall, as we finally see the event that gets Michael out of the house, perhaps never to return again... My apologies for the short review, but the adventure hasn't started yet. IIRC from the chapters you sent me, there will be more to comment on next chapter See you then xD
That's all right. There is more to comment in the next ones, anyway. (But they've undergone manymany edits since I sent them to you, so...)

Thanks for the review!
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Old August 5th, 2010 (04:57 PM).
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Gardenia101 Gardenia101 is offline
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Well done, well done. You've built the character of young Rowan well.

However, I detected an odd thing within the story.

Quote:
When she finally spoke, her voice wobbled.
Her voice wobbled? An image of Wobbuffet pops up whenever I think or that sentence. Try words like "Shook".

But, again, I really like it.
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Old August 6th, 2010 (05:18 AM).
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Haruka of Hoenn Haruka of Hoenn is offline
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Quote originally posted by Gardenia101:
Her voice wobbled? An image of Wobbuffet pops up whenever I think or that sentence. Try words like "Shook".
Yeah, that was on purpose. What I mean by that line is that her voice was shaky, but I wanted to use a different word for it to create a different effect. 'Shook' seems a bit too abrasive.

Thanks for reading anyway, and I'll definitely PM you once a new chapter comes. See you next time.
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Old August 6th, 2010 (06:36 AM).
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Ah. I just thought I'd point that out if it was a mistake.
Guess not.
You know, I'm addicted to books like Harry Potter; You know, bestsellers. I like how their writing is practically flawless and they all have good plots. But truthfully, this is better than any of them. Seriously!
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Old August 7th, 2010 (08:27 PM). Edited August 7th, 2010 by indinrio.
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Hey there! I really like the way your story is turning out, except for one thing: I can't really bring myself to see Mike is a likeable person at all. I understand that he's probably feeling frustrated by his broken family and school life and all, but for me that doesn't quite justify him dropping f-bombs on his mother and gleefully planning the execution of an innocent little Stunky. Perhaps you could include a bit more backstory on him? I think the story would be much more enjoyable if you could explain what conflicts happened in his past to make him turn out that way: brilliantly smart and astute, yet cold and often cruel to the people around him.

If you've already got such backstory planned out for future chapters, maybe you could consider bringing a bit of it forward? It's definitely important not to drown readers in excessive backstory narration, but at the same time it think it's important that the readers can quickly relate to and symphatise with your protagonist, preferably within the first few chapters. FIrst impressions do count, after all.

In a more positive note, this is definitely one of the best Pokemon fanfics I've read. I'm a sucker for fanfics that realise that even in the Pokemon world life wouldn't be always filled with sunshine and sparking rainbows and chirpy cartoon characters with smiles plastered across their faces. It would be filled with conflict and anger and cruelty, just like our real world. You are clearly aware of that fact, and the emotional confrontations Michael goes through are powerful and achingly realistic as a result. Well done.

Oh, and as a final note, please don't kill that Stunky. It never did anything wrong!
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Old August 8th, 2010 (11:27 AM).
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Haruka of Hoenn Haruka of Hoenn is offline
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Quote originally posted by indinrio:
Hey there! I really like the way your story is turning out, except for one thing: I can't really bring myself to see Mike is a likeable person at all. I understand that he's probably feeling frustrated by his broken family and school life and all, but for me that doesn't quite justify him dropping f-bombs on his mother and gleefully planning the execution of an innocent little Stunky. Perhaps you could include a bit more backstory on him? I think the story would be much more enjoyable if you could explain what conflicts happened in his past to make him turn out that way: brilliantly smart and astute, yet cold and often cruel to the people around him.
Funny you should mention that... the next chapter is going to be when I reveal more of Michael's backstory. I'm not gonna do it all in one chapter of course, but the next one's gonna give you a pretty big information chunk in one sitting. After that, I'll be spreading it out some more, but remember - this kid, somehow, is going to turn out to be the placid, wise Rowan one way or another. The worse he is from the start, the more amazing the transformation will be.

And you don't have to sympathize with Michael at all - I have one reader on another forum who takes Patricia's side. The scene where they dump fertilizer on the Stunky is his rock bottom in a way, and once you've hit the bottom you have nowhere to go but up, right?

As for the Stunky, don't worry, I have the perfect thing planned out for it. Its time won't come for a while, but it'll come.

So, thanks for taking the time to read and reply! I hope you enjoy the upcoming chapters.

Speaking of upcoming chapters...
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Old August 8th, 2010 (11:29 AM). Edited June 14th, 2014 by Haruka of Hoenn.
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0.4

The next few days dragged on in silence. Michael spent most of his time in his room, only now, for a change, it was by choice. As the hours went by, he lay spread-eagled on his bed, watching the window light dance across the ceiling.

So this is my summer... Michael thought. It's one thing to be suspended, but stuck in my own house? I hate this... I hate my life.

Occasionally, his gaze trailed over to the pokéball that lay on the windowsill. He had moved it there so it wouldn't bother him, but now it had been caught again by a patch of light, and glinted mockingly.

Michael welled with loathing. That thing would be better off at the bottom of a lake.

There were no noises coming from any of the other rooms, and the only mark of passing time was the ticking clock on the wall. Michael had thought of filling the hole by calling his friends, but he found out much too late that Patricia had disconnected the phone cord, leaving a bare plastic deadweight on the table. She had done the same for the TV, so he couldn't watch the Space Race either.

By the looks of it, the wounds from their conversation were still oozing, as Michael saw from the empty take-out containers littering the dining table, and half-finished bowls of leftovers in the refrigerator. His mother did not call him for meals, nor announce when she bought something new, so he had to come down and assess the inventory himself every day. In a way, this relieved him. With Patricia no longer breathing down his neck, he was free to eat all the sweets he wanted. Every night he snuck up to his room with handfuls of gummy worms, lollipops, and snack bars.

Other than the traces she left behind, Michael never saw his mother around the house. She never came to his room to continue her reprimands or check what he was up to. Heck, she didn't even ask him if he was hungry or maybe even bored of being shut up all day. Patricia had just... vanished.

Days passed. The sun came and went. His garbage can filled to the brink of overflow, and his supply of fresh clothes dwindled.

One day, out of sheer boredom, Michael began searching through his shelves, which to his surprise, were filled with things he didn’t need. He found three empty packs of gum and a first-grade math workbook sandwiched behind some paperback novels, where they had been collecting dust all these years. He tossed them aside. Most of the space in the higher shelves was taken up by action figures, ones he hadn't played with in years. He left those alone, since they could at least serve as decorations. His piggy bank, due to his frequent spending, contained only five dollars.

Michael cleared out the shelves slowly, often pausing on books or boxes that interested him and searching through their contents. He pushed what he didn’t need to the center of the room, and arranged everything else in a new way.

The next day, he moved on to his drawers. Michael had never troubled himself with organization, no matter how many times Patricia tried to force it onto him. Instead, he rolled up his shirts and pants into balls and threw them in, compressing the lumpy layers when he needed more room. Now, he took them out and smoothed them, placing them back in small stacks.

He found some of Richard's old shirts buried in the depths of the bottom drawer, since this had once been his room. Michael folded these carefully, then placed them in a corner to themselves. The only things he did toss aside were an old jacket, a pair of pants that didn't fit him, and a single red sock.

By the end of the third day, Michael had managed to turn his den into a semi-orderly space, one that even his mother might have been proud of. On top of that, he had done it without any sort of spite or impatience. He found this rather funny, since it would usually take a good few bucks from his father to bribe him into cleaning.

But there was still one place he hadn’t touched. The closet.

Michael’s gaze trailed over to it now, and he felt a wave of reluctance. The closet was an enigmatic cave, one whose front was light and orderly, and whose back was a stomach of junk that sucked in objects to make itself grow. He had tried to sort through it in the past, but found it to be so vast and unintelligible that he decided it was better to leave it alone. So for four years, he confined his activities to the front, leaving the back to its own devices.

But the more he looked at it, the more it seemed to pull him in, flooding him with curiosity. Finally, he went to open the doors, ignoring the Stunky's squeals of protest. His eyes ran over eleven years' worth of junk that was piled inside: books, sweaters, bags, toys… all of it lay in mounds on the floor, and peeked out from the depths of shelves.

Slowly, Michael reached into the pile on the floor and pulled out a random object. It turned out to be an old notebook. He flipped through it, and saw large, pointless sentences that were written by a kindergartener's hand. Stupid. He threw it into the trash pile.

The next object he pulled out was an empty tissue box. Why haven't I thrown this out yet? He tossed this as well.

Michael got down to his knees and began to comb through the pile with his hands, dealing with it in manageable chunks. He took out an assortment of clothes and toys, some of which he recognized, others which could have come from another kid’s closet in a different dimension. At one point, Michael felt his hand close around the corner of a thick, heavy book, which felt nothing like the lightweight fictions or the glossy workbooks he had gotten so far. He stood up and began to wriggle it out. After a considerable amount of pulling, he managed to get it loose, and stepped back into the light to see what it was. It was an old family photo album.

When did I ever have this? Michael wondered. He ran his fingers over the cloth binding and opened it to the inside cover. There was a name penned on the line: 'RICHARD ROWAN'. Michael’s eyes widened in recognition. This had been his brother's.

After a pause, he turned the page.

The first thing that greeted him was black-and-white photograph, showing a fat baby wrapped in blankets. He couldn't tell who it was, but by the faded image and the worn edges, it was most likely Brian. He had been born first. Michael’s eyes trailed down the page and found a line of text beneath it.

"September 26th, 1946. Our son, Brian Rowan, one year old!!!" It was Patricia's handwriting.

The second photograph was of his parents, Patricia and Andrew. Their faces were pressed together against a grassy background, and they wore toothy grins. The caption read: "A day at the park!"

Michael chuckled, and he sat down on the floor, placing the album into his lap. He saw several more pictures of Brian on his later birthdays, then Richard's pictures, and finally his own. Michael's eyes lingered on a particular photograph that was too long to be placed vertically. It showed him at about eight years old, sitting on a swing, his head ducked down as he stared at the sand. Behind him was a spectacular sunset, a splattered canvas of red and orange, framed by the crowns of trees. The memory of the day returned to him in hazy fragments — he had been mad for some reason, and someone had taken the picture anyway. There was no caption.

The next one was a full family shot: him, Richard, Brian, and his parents. As he looked at their faces all bunched together, it suddenly struck Michael how different they were. He, Richard, and his father all had similar features, and though the color was faded in places, he knew that their hair held the same shade of black. Patricia and Brian, on the other hand, had caramel-colored hair and softer faces. They were different from the rest, and not just by their appearance.

For one thing, Brian had never shared any hobbies or interests with his brothers. When Michael went to play outside with Richard, Brian never went along. There were only photos of Michael and Richard by the basketball pole, Michael and Richard running in a meadow, or them and Andrew cheering at school events. The captions were always done by Richard’s hand.

In contrast, photos of Brian showed him at honor roll assemblies, standing beside science projects, or holding awards. Patricia was nearly always present, smiling next to her star student of a son. The rest of the family appeared infrequently, and later, was altogether absent. And Michael knew why.

It was because, for as long as he could remember, they had led separate lives. But at the time he hadn't felt it, because it hadn't mattered. His brother and father were the best companions he ever had, and so long as they were around, he was whole. They helped him with school, joined him on excursions, and pulled him through difficult times. The three of them were always the first ones out the door in the morning and the last ones to come in before dinner. When Richard became old enough to join the school soccer team, it had been a celebration. Michael and Andrew accompanied him to every practice and reserved the highest bleacher seats at games, which became the seeds of countless traditions.

But for some reason, Patricia was never really a part of their picture. She preferred to stay at home when they went out, sitting with Brian and helping him with his homework. Like her, Brian was always orderly and in control. If Richard and Michael were the leaves, then to her, he was the fruit — the family's success. Patricia often talked of raising her other sons to Brian’s standard, but never went out of her way to fulfill it. Rather, she always disciplined them from afar, pacing up and down a boundary that she never crossed. Likewise, Andrew recognized Brian’s talents and praised his studiousness, but he never did it quite like Patricia did.

The more photos Michael saw, the more clearly he sensed their division. It seemed almost like a game, one that could have gone on forever, had it not been for one thing that made everything come to a screeching halt.

That had been Andrew.

As Michael turned the page, he felt his breath catch as he saw familiar places: wide hallways, padded chairs, and a sunny, white hospital room. His father’s. This was one of the few times in the album where the whole family was gathered together.

He remembered those months perfectly. He and his brothers would spend long hours in the room during visits, taking turns with Patricia, sometimes starting a game or conversation to lighten the mood. One particular photo stood out the most. It depicted eight-year-old Michael sitting in a chair on a night shift, his eyelids drooping and his lips chapped. It was the last hospital picture, because the next morning, the news would come. And there were no pictures for that day.

On the surface, everyone had been the same, raw and tear-stained. But Richard seemed to crash the hardest, and his transformation resounded in every corner of Michael’s heart. While Andrew had been a father to Brian, he had been Richard's and Michael's best friend. And the loss of a best friend took a bit of someone along with it.

Left as the head of the family, Patricia was revved from her temperance and turned into a restless, glitching machine. She tried to include Michael and Richard in her plans as much as she could, but their needs never corresponded with her abilities. When Brian's meetings and Richard's game dates clashed, her instincts told her to drive Brian first, which ignited arguments in the car, and resulted in Richard shutting himself up in the house, or staying in school until his events ended. Michael tried to stay with Richard on such occasions, but more and more frequently, Patricia made him tag along with her.

"You can’t sit around like this,” she would say. “You have to start doing something.”

“I want to be there for Richard,” Michael responded.

“Richard has his own ways of coping that don’t involve those around him,” Patricia said. “You, on the other hand, have to get things going.”

And so it had happened. Over the years, while Richard drifted away, Patricia began to make Michael her second favorite. She commended his good papers and forced him to correct bad ones, and took input from his teachers to pinpoint his skills. She did everything she had done with Brian, as if she’d seen the gleam of some hidden talent deep within him, and was now in a frenzy to dig it up. Michael had never been able to understand it. He only saw how Richard plummeted, how their walks grew rarer, and their conversations shorter. There was hardly a day when his brother didn’t seem sad or resentful, but whatever he was thinking, he had ceased to share it.

Michael turned the page of the album, anticipating more pictures, but instead he found a bare page filled with frantic handwriting. Richard had written a letter to their father.

Way to go, dad. Ever since you left, I've been stuck with an idiotic older brother and a mom who couldn't care less about me. Nothing’s the same without you. I don't know about them, but Michael and I miss you more than you can imagine. Fuck it, you were the best guy in the world. If you're watching me right now dad, I'm sorry. But I can't take it anymore. My entire life has been hell, and it's all because of mom and Brian. I've been trying to stick around for Michael’s sake (he reminds me of you sometimes, you know) but I don’t think I can handle much more. Mom's trying to turn both of us into Brian-clones, and she’s acting like the people we were when you were there should never have existed. So I'm gonna leave. I don't know if it’s right or wrong in her eyes and honestly I don't care. I just want things to be back to the way they were. Just you, me, and the little guy. I'll miss him too.

Hope to see you soon,

Richard.


Michael’s heart quickened. There was no date on the letter, but from the content, he approximated it to be sometime after the fight.

It had happened in the autumn of the following year. Patricia had gone to work full-time, and Brian was focusing his energies on getting into a good high school. Both of them were fighting the turbulence and moving forward. But through it all, Michael and Richard had roamed in a daze, still trying to find their way back to their stronghold of good and security. Even to each other they seemed blurred, and their gazes no longer struck together like they used to.

That evening, he, Patricia, Brian, and Richard had been seated at dinner, at the same four-person table that now stood in the kitchen. Out of the blue, Patricia announced that Brian had been accepted at Cobblers Academy, an elite boarding school in Canalave City. From the way she had said it, Michael knew it was something they should have been very proud of. But all he had done was nod, and Richard did nothing at all.

Patricia noticed, and questioned Richard.

"Shouldn't you be happy for your brother?" she had said.

To this day, Michael remembered how Richard had replied. Calmly lowering his fork, he said, "And when was the last time you were happy for either of us?" Then, he got up and left the room.

Michael went to bed, hoping the tension would blow over like it had always done. But when he got up the next morning, he found that Richard's room was empty. No angry note. No farewell. Nothing. Patricia acted like she didn't notice. Brian made no comment either, but his gaze followed Michael throughout the entire day. When the time came for spring cleaning, Patricia hauled out the clutter from Richard’s loft and allowed Michael to move in from his bedroom downstairs, but under an unspoken condition. Michael was prohibited from mentioning his brother's name, or bringing up the subject of his disappearance. From now on, he only had one brother. Brian.

But in the back of his mind, Michael did question it. He thought it over and over at night, sometimes to the point where he got a headache. Turns out, the answer had been in his closet the whole time. Richard had been sick of his home life too. Only he had actually gotten the guts to do something about it.

Michael slammed the album shut and tossed it back into the closet.

You never appreciate what you have until it's gone... He repeated the phrase several times in his mind, staring into the cluttered pit.

Eventually, his gaze trailed off towards the window again, for the hundredth time that day. It was much dimmer outside now, and the clouds that had been red earlier had faded to purple. Michael's eyes ran over the same trees and the same houses that he had been looking at for his entire life.

He knew Patricia couldn't stay mad at him forever. But when she did forgive him, what would happen next? He'd probably be forced to raise the Turtwig, and let the Stunky go. Patricia would detach him from his best friends, then proceed to sign him up for science club once summer was out. A Brian-in-the-making. She'd fill all his college applications before they would even get to him, and he'd be shipped off to some distant college, studying something he didn't even care about.

And then what? Michael scowled at the window. With her, my life is a void. She wants to control me like a fucking puppet. What if I don't want that? Just because Brian liked it doesn't mean I have to!

Michael's eyes shifted towards his desk, then almost by accident, found his school backpack slumped on the floor beside it. He sat up. The zipper was partially open, with torn notebooks peeking out of the pocket. As he stared at it, Michael felt an idea dawning upon him. It did so in stages, like the gradual pull of the tides, which crept further after every retreat till they came back to sweep the whole shore.

I don't have to follow her orders. I can make my own future. Just like Richard. He felt himself smile.

Michael crawled over to the backpack and turned it over, emptying its contents onto the carpet. Then he stood and went around his room, refilling it bit by bit. He packed a change of clothes, and a pair of socks. He broke open his piggy bank, folding the last of the money into his wallet, and zipped it up into an inner pocket. Then he scooped the pile of candy on his desk and dropped it in as well. Lastly, he packed a notebook and pencils, figuring he might want to write to his friends.

With his backpack full, Michael rose to his feet and gave his room a final once-over. It was by no means empty. His shelves looked chock-full even after the cleaning, and the lump of junk was still there at the center of the room, practically on the verge of collapse. Not so long ago, Michael would brag to his friends about how much his posters meant to him, and how his records were of top-notch quality. But now, he never wanted to see any of it again. What had once been his pride and joy now only reminded him of his pathetic state.

Just as he began to turn for the door, a faint squeal cut him off. The Stunky was whining again. Michael dropped the backpack and rushed to open the closet. The pokémon was there as expected, with its tail drooping and its eyes narrowed from the sudden light. Michael scowled down at it.

"What do you want now, Skanky? I'm leaving, you got what you wanted. No more nasty, good-for-nothing hooligan on your back."

He stepped away, but the Stunky squealed again, making him turn back.

"What, what is it?"

The Stunky eyed him unblinkingly.

Michael narrowed his eyes. "You pokémon have given me nothing but trouble. All you do is freaking look at me. You think you’re so intelligent, you think you deserve some kind of special treatment, but you just run around everywhere like pests. You get in the way and you whine and you... what? Stop staring at me!"

He got no response. Michael groaned.

"Do you want a playmate or something? Here!" He pulled the pokéball from the windowsill and twisted it open, releasing a burst of light. When the Turtwig had emerged, he unlatched the Stunky's cage and set his starter beside it. "Your new friend. Happy together? Go play or something." Michael backed away.

He realized what he had done a second too late.

The Stunky let out a screech of freedom, and tore across the room towards the door.

"NO!" Michael exclaimed. "Get back!"

He dove after it, but his hands gripped empty air, and he fell to his stomach. The puffy purple tail bounced as the pokémon raced down the stairs into the living room. He scrambled to his feet, but before he could stand up, something else rammed into his leg and knocked him down again. A second cry rushed past him.

"TURTURTUR!"

"Get back, you cretins!" Michael shouted.

The Turtwig ignored him. As he watched it hop down the stairs, Michael's hands flew to his head. "Argh! I'm such a fucking ditz!"

He grabbed the cage and the pokéball and ran for the stairs, forgetting all about Patricia, feeling only the storm of anger churning inside of him.

He stomped down to the bottom floor and swept his gaze over the living room, and his eyes locked on a dark, moving projectile. The Stunky was scurrying around the couch, and the Turtwig was snapping at its heels, barking madly. They scampered all over the furniture, displacing pillows and bumping tables.

Michael tried to run after them, but compared to their speed, he was a lumbering giant. The moving bodies zipped around and between his feet, but no matter how quickly he turned, all he could assess was the trail of damage they left behind. The Stunky’s claws tore gashes in the rugs, and feathers spilled from the pillows of the armchair, whipping up in flurries when the pokémon zipped past. Finally, Michael caught sight of the Stunky as it fled the sitting area, running in the direction of the kitchen and front door. But instead of going all the way, it turned into a corner and dove between the legs of a tall metal table, which held Patricia’s favorite vase. At the same time, the Turtwig skid to a stop and rounded on its cornered prey.

Michael stopped cold.

The Turtwig began to creep forward slow steps, his chin lowered to the carpet like a canine’s. Meanwhile, the twitching Stunky tried to push itself even farther against the wall. The vase gave a slight wobble, and Michael clenched his fist.

If that thing breaks... I'll kill both of them.

The Turtwig continued to advance on the table, pointing forward with the branch on its head, which was sprouting with leaves. Instead of going for the kill, however, the pokémon stopped a couple feet away and stood there, growling. Michael approached, and when he had reached its side, the Turtwig looked up at him with shining eyes.

It took Michael a few seconds to realize what he was seeing. The Turtwig had cornered the Stunky. It had helped him.

Michael stood there for a moment, the pokéball and cage hanging limp at his sides. "Well... cool."

With a smile, he unlatched the cage door and kneeled down in front of the table. "Here, Stunky Stunky. Back to your home."

He snapped his fingers, but the Stunky didn’t move.

Damn it, smart Stunky! Michael gritted his teeth.

He scooted closer, pushing himself and the cage as carefully as he could. “Come on, get in the cage.” He continued to crawl forward, till he felt his head bump against the glass table, and saw the legs sway.

No... please no...

The more his fear mounted, the more he grimaced. "Come on, you good-for-nothing buttface! Get in!" Michael placed the cage down at an angle, and reached from the other side to grab the Stunky’s tail. Its body remained still as his fingers inched towards it, but right as he felt them graze its fur, the Stunky snarled and jumped away. It pushed past the cage and went for the kitchen.

"No, you skag! Argh!" Michael turned around and started to rise to his knees. But midway, he felt his shoulder bump against something hard, which gave way beneath it moments later. He looked over, but it was too late — the vase and table were tipping to the side, and in a matter of seconds there was a loud bang and crack as the vase split in three against the floor.

The Turtwig took off like a bomb, racing after the Stunky, barking as loud as a siren. Michael rushed after them, forgetting about the mess, wanting only to stop the damage before it could spread. He burst into the kitchen and saw the Stunky running circles around the room, bumping and scratching at the appliances. The Turtwig chased after it, blocking it whenever it tried to escape the room, and gradually forced it into a corner. Then the Turtwig lowered its chin, brandishing the branch on its head, and began to whip it from side to side. With each swipe, a leaf dislodged from the branch and sliced through the air like a razor, striking Stunky’s skin and bouncing off. The Stunky screeched and backed away towards the sink, where the Turtwig made a daring leap and tackled it to the ground.

Michael acted immediately. He opened the cage all the way and slammed it over the Stunky, letting the Turtwig wriggle free. He lifted the cage, scooping the Stunky up along with it, and locked the door. When everything was secure, he let out a breath, and twirled the cage so that the pokémon’s face was directly in front of his.

"There. And you're never coming out again. Hear me?" Michael banged the cage with his hand, and the Stunky growled.

"Tur-tur!"

Michael looked down. The Turtwig was looking up at the cage as well, rather proudly. Michael rolled his eyes.

"Yeah, yeah, you helped, all right? But you're going in too." He twisted open the silver pokéball and aimed it at the Turtwig. A bolt of light escaped the capsule and struck the pokémon, turning its body into a white silhouette. Moments later, it was sucked away and vanished.

Michael was just about to put it into his backpack when he heard a clatter from an upstairs room.

"Michael?" came a voice. "Michael!"

Patricia had stirred. Her footsteps were growing louder.

Shit! There was no time to put the pokéball away. Michael rushed to the front door and unlocked it. From somewhere behind him, he heard a gasp. Patricia had seen the vase.

"Michael, where are you? What happened in here?"

Hope you like living alone! Michael smiled. He slipped through the door and closed it quietly, then hobbled away as fast as his load would allow.

Once he had cleared the driveway and made it to the sidewalk, he slid behind a large bush and sat there for a moment, catching his breath. Through the leaves and branches, Michael could see patches of his house. The door was still closed, which meant that Patricia either hadn’t heard him leave, or didn't care. Either way, she definitely couldn't see him here.

Michael waited for a few more minutes, and when he was certain the door wouldn’t open, he removed a candy bar from his backpack to settle his growling stomach.

Beside him, the Stunky pawed at the wall of cage. "Stu stu!"

"Shut it!" Michael hissed. "I didn't eat dinner. And no, you can't have any. This has to last me for the entire night, maybe even breakfast tomorrow."

The Stunky fell silent. Michael turned his head to face the street, following its path with his eyes. It went down, down, down, all the way to the beginnings of the city. In that distant strip of land, Jubilife shone with nighttime activity.

Once he had finished eating, Michael got up and continued to walk at a casual pace, eying the rows of houses he passed. Some glowed from inside like jack-o-lanterns, and others were completely dark, meaning that their owners had left for the summer. Michael knew the community's every curve and bump, after years of running and playing in it. It was the place he loved, but it was also the place he had to get away from.

His footsteps thumped soft and alone against the sidewalk, in tune with the beat of his heart.

The neighborhood wasn't gated, nor did it have an official name. Its exit was marked by a sign that read 'JUBILIFE CITY - 0.5 MILES'. When Michael reached it, he paused, and looked out at the dark, quiet road.

Am I really doing this? Am I really about to run away? The absurdity of his actions unsettled him. After all, where would he go? What chance did he stand at thirteen, with five dollars in his wallet?

Michael looked back. Somewhere among the sea of houses was his. Patricia had probably realized the house was empty, and was having a hysterical fit. Or, she might have gone back to her room, too lazy to investigate.

Either way, he thought, I'm sick of that place. And whatever my future is, I want to build it myself.

Michael exhaled. His decision was made. He hoisted his backpack onto both shoulders, tightened his grip on the cage, and started forward.

Both his brothers had left the house when they could, setting off on their own to start a new life. Now it was his turn.






A/N: A bit on the short side... yes. But after this, the chapters will be getting longer. The next one's gonna be practically a mega-chapter (Might be exaggerating a bit, but it's definitely longer than this.) See you all next chapter!
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  #20    
Old August 8th, 2010 (09:56 PM).
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Bay Alexison Bay Alexison is offline
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Interesting backstory of Michael and his family there. I was right Michael and his mother’s relationship has something to do with what happened in the family before. Seriously though, what really got to me is the aftermath of the father’s death. Seemed the family quite changed a lot after that incident. That tends to happen a lot in real life.

As for Michael running away, pretty much it’s the usual over protective/over controlling parent reason as to why a child would run away that I saw many times in Pokemon fanfics. However, it’s understandable since Michael can’t handle the home life anymore and needed to do something to have a better life. Also, considering Rowan is going to be a Pokemon researcher in the end, I’m looking forward to see how he was able to get through that path.

I quite enjoyed the part where Skunty ran away and Turtwig helping Michael to get him. Looks like the Turtwig will help Michael out during their journey.

Looks like things are getting started now. Looking forward to Michael’s journey to the real world.
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  #21    
Old August 8th, 2010 (11:49 PM).
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Yuoaman Yuoaman is offline
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Wow, I'm glad I checked this thread out, it's actually inspiring me to get back to writing my own fan-fic, which I had given up on months ago. The style you are using is actually very organic, and I didn't feel disconnected at any point during the story, which is odd for a fan-fic. The character of Rowan is also someone I can understand, I can't quite like him, but I understand why he acts as he does, and I'm definitely going to enjoy reading his character arc.

Also in the newest chapter:

"This had been his brothers." should be "This had been his brother's."
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  #22    
Old August 9th, 2010 (02:22 AM).
indinrio indinrio is offline
 
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Yay, another chapter! I'm glad to see that Mike is finally starting on his journey. I really like how you used the previous few chapters to build up a three-dimensional image of your protagonist; really fleshed him out to the audience before throwing him into his actual adventure. It makes him seem much more real in our minds than, say, a random kid who just woke up with the sun high in the sky, ate breakfast with deep-fried bacon and a glass of full-cream milk, arrived at the Prof's lab late and inexplicably obtained both a Charmander named BlazerFlarerPyroKillerMon and a poor abandoned Eevee named TitusYunaForeva within the space of a single, poorly formatted paragraph. (So I exaggerate a little, but I'm sure you get my point. ) It makes him seem like a person who we all personally know in some way or another, that gifted yet angsty rebel-without-a-cause, and while we may not yet really like or root for him, at least we can picture him, and in a way, understand him.

One thing that really stood out for me in this chapter is the way you incorporated Mike's backstory so effortlessly and naturally into the narrative flow. The use of his brother's photo album as a narrative device was not necessarily the most original method I've read, but you certainly made it work! I've read hundreds of stories which clumsily insert whole paragraphs of backstory in the middle of nowhere, completely screwing up the flow of action (often using dramatic italics to show that the protagonist is remembering something), and I'm glad you didn't end up resorting to that messy and incredibly lazy method.

Lastly, one more point I really like about your story is how Michael is essentially the same person from chapter to chapter. It may not seem such a big deal, but after seeing countless fanfics featuring schizophrenics as main characters (smart one second, semi-retarded the other, total cowards on Monday, Braveheart on Tuesday, the personification of eternal angstiness in the morning, Jim Carrey mixed with Eddie Murphy on Prozaic in the afternoon... you get my drift), it's inexpressibly refreshing to see evidence that the author has clearly thought through their character's personality beforehand, and has constructed the plot around their traits rather than the other way around.

Well, I figure I've rambled a bit too long, so I'll leave now and wish you luck on the next chapter. Hope you update soon.
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  #23    
Old August 9th, 2010 (06:33 AM).
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Haruka of Hoenn Haruka of Hoenn is offline
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Bay: Yup, this chapter's the big turning point of the story. The Turtwig is gonna play a pretty big role, as is the Stunky of course. Thanks for the review!

Yuoaman: Better go on and fix that typo now... Good eye. I'm happy you liked my story, and thanks for stopping by.

indinrio: I know perfectly well what you mean. Thank you for the in-depth analysis Glad you liked the chapters!

Thank you all for the reviews! See you next chapter.

1 week, as usual.
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  #24    
Old August 9th, 2010 (10:08 PM).
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Elite Overlord LeSabre™ Elite Overlord LeSabre™ is offline
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Ah, family issues... I've seen it before where one traumatic event can tear a family apart and cause other family members to undergo huge changes in personality (the character Nanaka in the anime "Myself; Yourself" is another great example of this) and it makes sense that losing his father would cause Michael in a way, to lose himself as well and become the person he is now. The thing that I'm looking forward to now is, how will this next chapter in his life change him from the person he is now to the person he will become.

And the Turtwig/Stunky scene was a nice addition, revealing that Turtwig at this point is still willing to help Michael out, unlike Stunky who is (understandably so) terrified of him. Time will tell whether Michael's relationship with both of these Pokemon will improve or get worse.

One thing I can't help but wonder... How is Patricia (that's my mom's name too, lol) reacting to Michael leaving home behind closed doors. I knew she was putting on a brave face as he left, but what's her true reaction to it?

I think it will be very interesting to see Michael's first experiences out on his own and I eagerly await the next chapter
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  #25    
Old August 10th, 2010 (05:26 AM).
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Haruka of Hoenn Haruka of Hoenn is offline
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Hey, thanks for stopping by. Your interpretation (and everyone else's, for the matter) of the Stunky+Turtwig scene was correct, though there will be a bit more to it.

And as for Patricia, she'll still be around, but in a more indirect way. The story is told in Michael's point of view, so I won't literally be switching off to her during the story. But she'll still be there...

Thanks for the review!
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