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Old July 28th, 2011 (10:59 AM). Edited August 1st, 2011 by Daydream.
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Daydream Daydream is offline
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This one-shot was my entry for the Get-Together's Small Writing Competition. Except not quite, because this is now the revised edition.

---

Cast Aside

A sigh escaped the lips of the young redheaded female who was sitting before the wide window of an observation room. She was a grunt in the ranks of Team Rocket and she had been assigned to their facility in the Sevii Isles. The above-ground warehouse also contained a large below-ground research centre – it had been set up outside of mainland Kanto to avoid arousing suspicion. The place was cold and sterile and the grunt couldn’t help feeling that the green-tinged walls and the flickering strip lights encapsulated a sinister air.

She had been assigned the menial task of monitoring a clefable that was part of one their research projects. As she watched the pokemon, its eyelids began to flicker and as she had been ordered, she immediately picked up the intercom. “Doctor, it’s blinking. It’s waking up.”

After a wait of moments, the young, dark-haired Doctor Gideon appeared in the observation room containing the clefable. Pushing up the sleeves of his long white lab coat, he pressed the button for the intercom in that room. “Please join me inside; we’re still unaware of how aggressive the thing might be.”

The grunt did so, and stood by the door, quietly watching as Gideon pushed his round spectacles up his nose and began to inspect the fairy pokemon, which had now sat up.

The doctor observed the creature for a few moments before he began to write notes on his clipboard, speaking aloud to himself, “No sign of physical damage or change. No sign of any behavioural changes, yet… Subject does not appear overtly distressed…”

The pokemon stared at him with a curious intensity, not moving from its position upon the table in the centre of the room.

“Can you understand me?” the scientist queried, with no response. “Can you talk? Can you say, yes?”

The normal-type blinked and began to open its mouth slowly. “Clef… Able!”

Gideon’s brow furrowed disappointedly, and he scribbled down a last few notes. He turned to the grunt and spoke. “Set it up in a small pen with video surveillance. If the required results from the Pokemon Intelligent Enhancement Project are not seen within the next week, cast it out and inform myself or Doctor Beau.”

“Understood, sir,” was the formal reply.

***

It hadn’t been that she did not have the capacity to speak, but the clefable simply did not have the vocabulary with which to use the human language. She began to pick up fragments of the language from the researchers that occasionally discussed her, and the scathing remarks of the grunts which had been charged with her care, but instinct told her that it was in the best interests of her safety to not reveal she could talk. She had been with the Rockets since she was a young cleffa (they had forced her to undergo two early evolutions) and she understood very well what kind of people they were.

It had been two days since she’d been released into the wild by those humans. She wasn’t sure whether it was a blessing or a curse. Presently, she sat against a tree that had grown on the edge of Five Isle meadow. Scratching her head, she pondered her situation. It would be hard for her to sustain herself in this environment. She could wander into town, but treatment from the Rockets made her feel somewhat distrusting of the race they belonged to.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a loud cry. “Luffy! Come back!”

Bursting through the long grass was a yapping houndour, closely followed by a young boy. Both had a scattering of mud over their feet and lower legs, and the boy was covered with grass stains. Seeing the clefable, the dog pokemon gave up its chase game and decided to inspect the large pink creature. The domesticated breed hadn’t come into contact with many clefable and was thus fascinated. Its owner simply watched, bent over and holding his knees, whilst catching his breath. The fire type sniffed tentatively at a foot of the other creature.

The short sharp breaths on the normal type’s foot had the effect of causing it to giggle. It was too late that the pokemon realised how human a sound it had made.

The boy’s bright blue eyes went wide. “You laughed? Can you talk too? Oh wow, this is so cool!” He began to get very excited and leaned in close to the fairy pokemon. “My name is Tayte. What’s yours? Do you want to be friends?”

The pokemon blinked slowly. She said nothing. The human may have seemed infantile, but she wasn’t entirely trusting of it. The boy sat down in front of her cross-legged and smiled. The warmth of his face and the way the sunlight reflected on his golden hair gave his expression a touch of angelic innocence. The clefable cocked its head.

“I’ll tell you more about me then!” He exclaimed it with such childlike cheerfulness and sincerity the clefable found herself becoming somewhat amused. “I’m visiting my grandparents here on the island. Luffy is my pet,” at this he motioned to the creature sat next to him, which barked in confirmation. “I love her very much. I’m going to be a pokemon trainer soon! And I really like making friends. Oh! You should play tag with us!” He finished with a wide optimistic grin.

The normal-type simply stared back at the boy for several seconds. Tayte began to think that maybe it didn’t talk. Then, the corners of its mouth turned very slightly upwards. “Friend? …Tag?”

***

“Is it part of the P.I.E.P., Gideon?”

The man on the communicator screen Gideon stood betrayed nothing of his emotions; his tone was measured and his body language was relaxed.

“Reports on the pokemon suggest that it has the qualities we hoped to imbue with the project and those which are unexpected, but perhaps beneficial to our needs,” The researcher replied.

“Regardless, I wish you to capture the specimen and study it. I am sure I do not need to warn you to be discreet. I would suggest the agent I sent to you recently to undertake this mission. Orion, I believe.” The man on the screen paused before adding his closing command, “Report directly to me upon your success. Or failure.”

Gideon nodded. “Yes, sir.” The communication cut off, and the monitor returned to its usual display of statistics and graphs.

Gideon was well aware that this was already one failure in Giovanni’s eyes. He wouldn’t be as tolerant of another. Taking stock of his leader’s advice Gideon called for Agent Orion to be sent to his office. In his mid-twenties, Orion was intelligent and ruthless and the young man was quickly climbing the ranks of Team Rocket. Gideon afforded him the respect deserved by one recommended by Giovanni himself, but found the agent to be somewhat arrogant and personally disliked him.

“You called, Gideon?” The man’s overconfidence could be seen in the way he addressed the researcher.

Gideon looked up from his desk and over his glasses at the agent. He was clad in the typical black Rocket uniform, with a pair of rectangular-lensed black sunglasses adorning his face. The man’s hair was completely white. He felt it necessary to remind Orion that he was of a senior position in this branch. “That is Doctor Gideon, to you.” The agent visibly sneered at him. Gideon bristled, but continued, “I have a mission for you, earmarked as high priority by Giovanni himself.” The agent became suddenly intent on listening, “You are to retrieve a pokemon for us; a clefable of remarkable intelligence, one that is capable of human speech. It lives -”

“Why would you need a pokemon to talk?”

Gideon ground his teeth at the interruption, but answered the agent. “The project aims to increase the intelligence of a pokemon to a level at which it can speak. There are numerous profitable gains from such a rarity, as it can be sold to various parties. As well as this, a pokemon capable of using and understanding human speech can be given far more complex instructions to undergo missions where the difficulty would be increased because we would have to introduce a mediating agent. Porygon that can steal and relay data with ease or a Ditto which can transform into anyone we desire…” The scientist coughed. “You get the idea.”

The other Rocket had actually changed his look of condescension to one that was suitably impressed. He did, however, have another question. “Why a clefable?”

“It is known to be soft-natured and is not of high power levels. We wished to minimise unexpected side-effects. Now-”

The condescension returned to Orion’s voice as he spoke, “Yes Doctor Gideon, my questions are finished. I’m ready to hear where it lives.”

Gideon took a deep breath in. If the man hadn’t been so efficient in all previous missions, he would’ve fired him then and there. He fought down the urge to tell Orion exactly what he though of him, but his voice remained strained. “It is living on a small chain of islands that lie between here and the Hoenn region, a popular tourist destination. You’ll be flown to the largest island and take the ferry from there to where the specimen is living with a small family. Use any method you see fit to take it, but do nothing do arouse great suspicion. You’ll be undertaking this mission alone, to ensure this does not happen.”

The agent gave a cocky half-smile. “It’s as good as ours.”

***

Oran Island is part of the Kinomi Island chain; it is fairly small and is named for its near circular shape. Due to its geographical location the island suffers often with two extremes in climate: torrential rain and blazing heat. Tayte Merrigold preferred the latter because it meant he was able to go out into the island to play with his pokemon and his friends.

“Haha, you can’t catch me!” Tayte’s voice taunted as he ran across the sunny beach.

“That’s what you think!” The clefable chased after him, slipping slightly as she tried to gain purchase on the sand. Luffy the houndour trailed behind her, yapping happily.

Not paying attention to where he was going, Tayte caught his ankle on a piece of driftwood. The boy scrunched his eyes closed, preparing for the impact with the sand. It didn’t come. The nine-year-old opened his eyes. His hands, which had been outstretched to endure the fall, had taken on a pink aura. His whole body had. Bella had one hand outstretched. She had instinctively wanted to save Tayte and the psychic action had come naturally. Normally, a normal type would have to concentrate a lot harder to muster psychic attacks.

I did it so easily, Bella thought.

“Bella?” Tayte’s questioning voice brought the pokemon back to reality. The boy was still hovering a few inches from the ground. She made another arm movement which deposited him on his feet next to her. The boy’s face read of astonishment for several moments. Then he grinned widely. “Wow! That was so cool! What else can you do?”

Bella was still astonished herself. “I’m… Not sure.”

Tayte’s face scrunched up as he thought. “Hmm.” The boy tapped his foot and crossed is arms, then jumped in excitement at an idea that presented itself. He began to scurry around the immediate area of the beach collecting small objects. He returned to Bella and dropped an assortment of shells and small pebbles at her feet. “Could you make these levitate and then kinda… Spin around you?”

“I could try,” she replied. The normal type focused and one by one shells and pebbles rose, forming a neat circle around the trio of boy and pokemon. The clefable flicked her arm and the ring of beach objects began to slowly rotate clockwise.

Tayte went wide-eyed in wonder. He began to clap. “Faster!”

The ring gained momentum. The joyous reaction she’d received from Tayte made her happy too. She began to make the occasional pebble jump or dip. This caused Luffy to bark and chase the accused item. The spectacle began to attract the attention of other beach-goers; one teenaged male trainer, a young couple from the island and a tall man with startling white hair. All watched and clapped along as Bella made the objects alternatively rise and fall, before finally allowing them to drop to the beach in the shape of a heart. She received a round of applause.

“Psychic powers as well now?” the woman of the couple queried Tayte, she knew his mother. “Well isn’t that interesting. Reminds me of that girl from when we were in Saffron…”

The man with the white hair had walked away first, adjusting his rectangular black sunglasses and looking astounded. He walked along the beach further before allowing himself a confident half-smile.Minimise unexpected side-effects, huh? Gideon is a fool. But… The boss will be pleased when I bring him back this clefable…

***

Orion sat on a grassy dune close to a row of houses. It was a dark night, lit only by the stars in the sky above, and the Rocket Agent was clad all in black (without even the characteristic red ‘R’ of his organisation): it was time for stealth. He knew which house contained his target: the bungalow second from the left, with the red-brick chimney and sizeable back yard with the ornamental pond.

He selected a pokeball from his knapsack and allowed it to expand in his hand. He released the pokemon and a near-spherical being hovered before him. A Rocket’s Koffing and weezing underwent a rigorous training regime, monitored by Rocket scientists, to teach them to control the toxicity levels in their poisonous smog. They could then be used in covert missions to incapacitate those that might get in the way, or (for those which pose a more serious threat) to kill. Orion had chosen the unevolved form simply because it was smaller and therefore less conspicuous.

The last light in the Merrigold household had been extinguished an hour ago. Orion gave his instructions to the koffing, “A weak gas, to knock out the clefable until we get it out of the house, in case it isn’t kept in a pokeball at night. Then, once I’ve safely removed it from the premises I’ll send you inside and you are to increase the concentration to lethal levels. The boy has seen me, and we’re not taking even the smallest risk that he may suspect.”

The pokemon bobbed up and down, an affirmation of its understanding.

Orion looked sadistically gleeful. “Let’s get to work then.”

Bella blinked as she stared at the ceiling. She couldn’t quite sleep tonight. She listened as noctowl and hoothoot called out into the night. And then, an unfamiliar sound intruded the bird calls. A hissing sound; and it was close. The clefable snapped upright, turning her head from side to side. The she saw the source. A yellow-green cloud of gas was entering the room through a small crack in the window. It’ll spread through the entire house!

The pokemon jumped up, ready for action. She stood close to the window, arms outstretched. A psychic Barrier spread from her hands and she used it to form a seal on the window, preventing the rushing gas from seeping in. She began to realise that by expanding her mind, the Rockets had also given her the ability the master Psychic power. She almost wanted to thank them in the current situation.

Taking a deep breath in, she shouted with all the strength she could muster, “Everyone wake up! Get out of the house!” She repeated the shout over and over again, until the family were up. Tayte and his parents ran to the living room, where they heard the shouting. They were dazed and looked at the screaming pokemon quizzically. Mr Merrigold looked as if he were about to ask the fairy pokemon exactly what was going on. “Don’t question it! Someone’s trying to gas us! I’ve sealed this window, but they could just move around! Get out!

Mrs Merrigold grabbed her son’s hand and the family ran frantically for the front door. Bella waited until she’d heard the front door open and released her hold on the psychic wall. She bolted for the door as fast as her legs would carry her, the thick toxic cloud spreading through the house behind her.

She made it to the front of the house. Her eyes went wide with horror.

“Why did you have to go and make things so difficult?” Agent Orion sighed and his voice was full of scathing derision. A pair of hulking Tangrowth held Tayte and his parents tightly bound by vines. Blood from a fresh cut ran through his father’s dark hair and trailed down his face. A koffing hovered to the Rocket agent’s left, a weezing to his right. “Try to attack me, your beloved family die. Same if you shout for help.” Orion took a lock of the boy’s mother’s long blonde hair in his hand. There was an evil smile on his lips. She flinched and struggled against her bindings. “It would be such a shame to have to kill them.”

Bella stood, unmoving. Tayte and his mother were tightly bound to one Tangrowth by thick vines, the same for the boy’s father with the other. She took one hesitant step forward.What can I do? Another foot raised and then fell. Unless. She closed her eyes and listened. There were still noctowl overhead, zubat flitting through the night and golbat hunting for prey. I hope this works.

Focusing, Bella projected her awareness as far as possible. She sent out a sharp mental shout, HELP! Orion looked startled. He’d heard it too, as had his pokemon which were looking in all directions. A sudden simultaneous shriek and powerful buffets of wind from different directions caused the Tangrowth to shudder and drop their captives. Orion was knocked to the ground. Three noctowl and two golbat hung in the air above the villains’ heads.

The Merrigold family took their chance and ran towards the beckoning clefable. Orion was, however, quick to regain composure. “I do not get defeated so easily! Koffing, Weezing, lethal concentration! Tangrowth, Seed Bomb!”

Like a trainer directing their pokemon, Bella had an opposing command, “You noctowl, use Whirlwind to get rid of that smog! You golbat use Supersonic on those Tangrow-” Bella was cut off by aggressive barking. A small dog-like form leapt over her head, fire in its jaws.

The flames of the extraordinarily powerful fire attack were carried on the wind of the noctowl’s attack causing burns to the two poison types and singeing the edges of Orion’s clothing. The man cursed loudly.

Bella was suddenly blown sideways to the sound of an explosion. She heard Luffy yelp in pain too. The Supersonic attacks must have been ineffective. She heard the explosion of another Seed Bomb and a piercing scream from Tayte’s mother.

Bella stood up. Orion’s sunglasses had been cracked and he was facing the family with a maniacal look upon his face. His pokemon stood around him. Get back, she gave the telepathic command to the family… Her family.

This Rocket was not going to take them away from her. They had taken her, a young cleffa. They had experimented on her. Put her through pain and then cast her aside. All in the name of power. She would show him power. The normal type clapped her hands together.

The Hyper Beam that erupted from her finger tips carved a gauge through the ground. It narrowed and then exploded with a bright orange light as it hit the Rocket and his tools. The pokemon were scattered in all directions. Agent Orion cried out as his body lifted into the air. Bella watched his form ascend to the sky.

“Bella!” Tayte’s boyish voice was crying out, “He’ll die if he hits the ground!”

She watched as the body began to descend rapidly. It would be so easy to let this man fall. She looked at Tayte’s pleading face. Do you want to be friends? Those bright blue eyes seemed to be repeating those words to her, but with a different meaning.

The fairy pokemon waved a hand, slowing Orion’s fall with telekinetic control.

Tayte ran over to her, wrapping his arms around her tightly. “Thank you, Bella.”

The pokemon held onto the human and relief washed over her. “I want to be friends.”

***

“As this was not entirely your fault, Doctor, I shall not be employing the most severe of punishments.” Gideon was relieved, but Giovanni’s face still showed irritation. “I am however, removing you from the P.I.E.P.”

Gideon’s eyes widened. The project had been his idea. “But-”

“Do not question me, Gideon!” he shouted, losing his composure. The Rocket boss closed his eyes massaged the bridge of his nose with the thumb and forefinger of his left hand. He opened them and had renewed his composure. “Any files relating to the project are to be transferred to the main database immediately.”

The scientist attempted to remain formal but his voice betrayed hints of his frustration. “Yes, sir. Immediately.”

“You are also herby demoted. I am sending two of our administrators to your facility, whom you are to report to, to oversee any other ongoing projects.” With this, Giovanni abruptly closed the communication.

Gideon shouted curses and slammed a fist into his desk. “Orion if you ever get out of that prison, I’ll be waiting!”


***

Mrs Merrigold smiled as she watched her son out of the window. He was racing his two companions in the garden. Boy and pokemon were running around the garden playing their favourite game of tag. Every so often Luffy or Tayte would get too close to the pond and almost fall in, only to be saved by a translucent pink shield.

Her husband came up behind her and chuckled lightly at the scene his wife observed. His head was bandaged now. It had been two weeks since the incident, Orion had been imprisoned and police presence had been increased on the island.

“This came in the post today,” he said, handing her a brown envelope.

She looked at the typed letter inside:
Professor S. Oak
Oak Laboratory
Pallet Town
Kanto Region
0010050

Mr and Mrs Merrigold
6 Sandy Dune Way
Oran Island
Kinomi Isles
6003430

Dear Mr and Mrs Merrigold,

You may, or may not have heard of me. I am a pokemon researcher from the Kanto region. I’m very sorry to hear about what happened to your family, I’m truly glad you’re okay. There are reports of the deeds of these “Rockets” from all over our region lately.

This isn’t, however, the reason for my correspondence. Being a researcher, I am intrigued by the clefable your son has befriended and this would like the chance to study it. I realise that the boy has formed a very strong bond with the creature and therefore I do not suggest that they should be separated. This is why I am willing to accommodate your family over the course of the summer. I have a grandson of a similar age to Tayte, so you needn’t fear him missing have children of his own age around.

I am also aware that your son comes of the training age soon, and that the Kinomi Isles do not have a resident professor. I would be more than happy to provide your son with a starter pokemon and to aid with registering to the league in any way I can.

I’ve attached a sheet with various ways in which you can contact me, and the contact details of those you can use to validate my credentials. If yourselves and Tayte are willing you’ll be able to provide me with what could be groundbreaking data. I really hope to hear from you soon!

Yours Sincerely,
Professor Samuel Oak

She flicked to the next sheet.

“What do you think?” her husband asked.

“It’s Tayte’s decision.” She looked up and smiled at her son playing in the garden. Then she turned her head towards her husband. “And when has he ever given up the opportunity to make a new friend?”
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  #2    
Old July 29th, 2011 (09:06 PM).
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icomeanon6 icomeanon6 is offline
It's "I Come Anon"
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Northern Virginia
Age: 21
Gender: Male
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There are a number of elements here that I really like, such as the intelligent Clefable who gets over her distrust of humans and the deliciously overconfident Rocket agent to name two. Unfortunately, I have to agree with you that this could use some expansion and refining. To me this feels like a draft of what will undoubtedly be a very good story, and that's not a bad thing at all considering that this was written with a deadline.

What sticks out as especially important to me as you enter this revising phase is the ending. In your case the ending roughly coincides with the climax, which can result in the reader feeling that the story's gone by too quickly. You definitely want to get all you can out of that ending because it has a big effect on how readers walk away from the story, so I'd expand it and maybe add some falling action after the climax as well.

Other than that, it's mostly a matter of finding all those pesky typos and other little mistakes, and making sure the sentences flow smoothly. It's a good start and there's a lot of potential, so I really hope you find the time to follow through.

(Btw, I have For all the Right Reasons open in another tab, and I'm going to get to it as soon as I've read more of the contest entries!)
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My chapter fics:
Kanto: The Disputed Frontier - 14 chapters, indefinite hiatus. Gary Stu's Unpredictable Adventure - 8 chapters, completed. Digimon Campaign - 7 chapters, ongoing

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


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

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  #3    
Old August 1st, 2011 (12:13 PM).
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Daydream Daydream is offline
Spider-Man
Silver Tier
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: That thar Kingdom. The United one.
Age: 21
Gender: Male
Nature: Quirky
Posts: 526
This is just a post to say that I've edited and tweaked this fic and I'm so much happier with it now. I wish I'd entered this in the SWC.

I used the advice from the above review and the comments from bobandbill in the SWC. I've edited any grammar issues that were brought up, replaced most of one scene with something new and added two new scenes to give it an improved ending. Thanks a lot for the help I've received!

Also I've tried to leave the ending open, because I don't think I'm enitrely finished with these characters. I have a Word document with ideas for possible sequel fics.~
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