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Old June 23rd, 2017 (11:42 AM). Edited 5 Days Ago by Aisu.
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Aisu Aisu is offline
     
    Join Date: Dec 2011
    Location: America
    Nature: Adamant
    Posts: 1,776
    Author's Drabble - Ah, I still haven't posted that sequel to Yggdrasil, have I? Should get working on that soon...

    Spoiler:


    1. Chapter 1
    2. Chapter 2
    3. Chapter 3
    4. Chapter 4
    5. Chapter 5
    6. Chapter 6
    7. Chapter 7
    8. Chapter 8

    (Pretty short story, yeah.)
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    Old June 23rd, 2017 (11:48 AM).
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    Aisu Aisu is offline
       
      Join Date: Dec 2011
      Location: America
      Nature: Adamant
      Posts: 1,776
      Spoiler:
      Chapter 1
      “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
      —Lao Tzu

      Mt. Silver is cold and unrelenting, lashing and numbing my skin below the three jackets I have donned in preparation. My hands are freezing even under the shelter of my pockets and gloves and I feel my jaw ache terribly from my chattering teeth, and even so, I press on, slowly trudging up a stone staircase on the side of the mountain, unable to see any ground below due to the heavy swirls of white and grey snow. I’ve heard more than a few stories of Trainers and Hikers that have misjudged a step or moved too quickly on a sheet of ice and ended up pierced by rocks hundreds of feet below, but I can’t bother my mind enough to be concerned, never mind scared. Now, every ounce of my concentration is on Pokémon Master Red.

      I am not a Pokémon Trainer—at least, I don’t work to challenge the Pokémon League. Even so, I want to talk to Red, and if he refuses to speak without a battle, then I am prepared for the situation. Although Red has been on Mt. Silver for twenty-five years, in every news story, including the live ones, he has not appeared any older. Moreover, no one has ever seen him leave Mt. Silver, not even once. My friends and even my father say I’m overthinking things as always—it’s just the way the Pokémon world works, they say—but I know that something is going on, and I will do what I have to do to find it out.

      I reach a cavern at the mountain’s peak, and through the hole at the end, I can see a silhouette in the snow. I run across the clear stony ground, quickly clearing the difference between us until I am back in the piercing cold. “Pokémon Trainer Red,” I speak. He turns to me, his eyes bright beneath the brim of his cap, and gives a breath—relief? or trepidation?—that instantly freezes into a small white cloud of wonder.

      “You want to battle?” he asks.

      “I want to ask you some questions.”

      “You know how it works: can’t talk without a battle.”

      “I expected as much.” I remove the glove from my right hand to draw a pokéball from my trainer’s belt, releasing Charizard onto the field; similarly, Red releases his own charizard. “Charizard, Flamethrower!” we order in unison. Our pokémon release dual waves of red and gold fire that meet in the middle, the heat so great it melts away all of the snow in a thirty-foot circumference and forces me to remove two of my jackets. The twin flames soon burst into a shower of embers, forcing our pokémon apart. “Charizard, Aerial Ace.”

      “Charizard, use Dragon Pulse!” Again, the attacks meet in the middle, but this time there’s a visible struggle between our charizard. They are neck-and-neck, evenly matched but losing hold with each second, but finally, Red’s Charizard falters, allowing mine to slash him down onto his back.

      “Do you want to know something, Pokémon Master Red?”

      “Huh? Charizard, recover with Solar Beam!” His charizard pushes mine away to soar into the air, and spreads his wings with a furious roar to summon the power of the sun.

      “My name is Sean Isaac DiCaprio,” I continue. “I am not a Trainer. Rather, I am an intellectual that seeks the answers to questions that many refuse to ask. Many times, my quest for knowledge takes me places that I need protection, hence my team.” I gesture to my pokéballs on my utility belt. “And you are the latest question, one that I have been training this entire year for.”

      “That so?” Red asks, interest piqued; my charizard falls to his attack and I return him.

      “Umbreon.” I release her and she immediately leaps onto Red’s Charizard, digging her fangs into his left wing. The pain of it causes him to plummet to the earth with a jaw-loosing thud!

      “You did great, Charizard,” Red says honestly as he returns his Pokémon. “Now, Pikachu!” I did not expect him to bring out his strongest companion so early in the battle, but that is not to say that I am unprepared for it.

      “Pika!” his pikachu cries, landing in a small and pudgy bundle of golden fur.

      “Thunderbolt!” The snow around us instantly ceases as thunder instead rolls around in the clouds above. Pikachu clenches his little fists and seemingly draws the electricity towards him, summoning it in the form of a grand lightning bolt, and then redirects it at Umbreon. Umbreon cries out as it summons a cloud of darkness that absorbs the lightning, then it dissipates in a field of static, although the thunderclouds remain. “Cloak,” Red orders his pikachu. He clenches his fists again as lightning strikes him, but this time it remains around its body like a second coat of fur. “Now, Volt Tackle.” Pikachu gives a cry before rushing forward, electricity streaming behind him with such an intensity that it tears trenches into the hard stone of the mountain and surges back into the sky like lightning striking from the ground. It hits Umbreon and hits it hard.

      “You should’ve made her dodge,” Red tells me.

      “There wouldn’t have been a point, what with your pikachu’s speed. Also, even if I had made it dodge, the electricity, if not Pikachu’s body, would still have hit it.”

      “Smart guy, huh,” Red says, and I can’t decipher his tone.

      “The smartest.” Umbreon quivers slightly on the ground, and then it drags itself to its feet and shakes the ash from its fur. Pikachu’s attack visibly affected it but it still manages to stand. “Umbreon, use Psychic and force Red’s pikachu into the air.” Umbreon’s eyes glow as Red’s pikachu is thrown high into the sky.

      “You’ve just put him closer to the clouds,” Red tells me, then he shouts at Pikachu, “Thunder!” More lightning appears in Pikachu’s vicinity, turning the clouds translucent with their intense brilliance. Pikachu absorbs all of it, then he releases it in a gigantic shockwave that makes all of my hairs stand on end. Umbreon digs beneath the earth, shielding itself from the brunt of it, but with the overflow of electricity, it finds its way into the hole and it cries out in pain. Umbreon does manage to dig to the surface, but as soon as it hits the ground it falls unconscious.

      “I w—” Red starts, then his pikachu hits the ground and faints as well. “W-What?” he stutters, flabbergasted. “What happened? You didn’t even touch him…?”

      “I didn’t have to,” I point out. “The reason why I propelled your pikachu in the air was to separate it from the ground, forcing it to contain and surge the electricity through its body. Even though pikachu are made to hold high voltages and maintain them with the tail, the better half of a thunderstorm is pushing it.” He returns his pikachu with an odd look in my direction.

      “Blastoise.”

      “Eelektross.” It coils around Blastoise’s neck and chokes it off before it can even expel a single drop of water. “You have to be faster than that, Red.” He’s now visibly disconcerted as he returns his Blastoise. “It would be a lot faster if you would just answer my questions and let me be on my way.”

      “Finish the battle,” he says in a different tone. “Then I won’t need to answer your questions.” That confuses me. It’s not like he’s bargaining with me; he says it in a very matter-of-fact tone. I try to decipher what he means, but just as a lot of things, it’s just beyond my grasp, and the chilling anticipation of that knowledge excites me to some degree. Never have I been so compelled to discover something that I have gone so low as to battle with pokémon, which I have always thought to be just as gruesome as pitting together above-average humans (which still happens—not that I have personally witnessed that spectacle), and yet here I am. I am doing exactly what I have constantly berated others, including my own father, for, and I don’t even want to focus on the hypocrisy of that.

      “May we cut this short?”

      “No, it has to be a full team—all six pokémon,” he says almost vehemently, spiking my adrenaline further. What is it that has him so invigorated? For all I know, it could also be what has him on Mt. Silver agelessly and tirelessly battling trainer after trainer. “Lapras, Ice Beam,” he calls, releasing his fourth pokémon. I am caught off-guard, and so his attack strikes my eelektross and freezes it in a tsunami-sized wave of solid ice. I return it a second later. “He could’ve broken through,” Red tells me.

      “It wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Eelektross are cold-blooded; it would have been too fatigued to continue.”

      “You really do know a lot about pokémon. Are you an intern for Oak or something?”

      “My first and second years of college, yes, I was. I am not especially proud of that time, however, and I would prefer that you not pry about it. Now, I have used Charizard, Umbreon, and Eelektross… To quote the words of an old master, ‘Pikachu, I choose you.’” I was trying to avoid that particular choice, but the rest of my team cannot stand up to Red’s Lapras, and I am therefore hard-pressed to release the bundle of golden brown fur.

      “Shiny,” he comments.

      “It’s not a trophy.”

      “You’re right,” he agrees. “Lapras, Ice Beam, c’mon!” His Lapras fires an expansive beam of pure cold, the temperature so low that it creates a thin veneer of frost on my clothes even from a distance. The ground freezes around it for three and a half feet before it even comes close to us. Pikachu clenches its fists before propelling its small body forward with a whirlpool of electricity surging around it. It nullifies the stream of ice but doesn’t protect me from it as my sneakers are frozen in place. “—Headbutt!” he cries as Pikachu grows near. Lapras lowers her head and causes Pikachu to slam his skull into hers, which I know from reading is built denser and is most likely cracking Pikachu’s as I am thinking.

      “Volt Tackle!” I try not to shout because of how irrelevant is it considering Pikachu’s hearing, however it’s going limp and I cannot have it losing conscious. It does not seem to hear at first and Red’s eyes widen, then its tail raises like a flag and the electricity returns on a greater scale, shocking the Lapras but also overheating its tiny body as too much voltage courses through it. Lapras hits the ground in a heavy heap but Pikachu just manages to stay conscious, grounding itself as to immediately release the excess power. Red returns his Lapras with a more vacant expression than before.

      “Venusaur, hit him with Poison Powder!” Before the red light has even faded away Venusaur’s flower pumps out a confetti cloud of violet dust. Pikachu looks up in time to skitter out of range, although the movement drains him for the time being.

      “Thunderbolt,” I order regardless. Pikachu gives a weak cry and summons a spark so weak I doubt it can even create an ember. “You can do better than that! Thunderbolt!” Its cry becomes strained as more sparks fly from its coat, which is frizzing slightly from all of the electrons in the air. Red puts his hands out, stepping forward.

      “Stop! You’re hurting him! Can’t you see that he can’t do it?” he pleads.

      “Then he’s useless, simple as that.” I lay my eyes on Red’s Venusaur, who is reclining without a real care until it smells something that causes it to perk up. It wiggles its large body a bit before releasing another cloud of Poison Powder, however this time a downwind draft carries it with speed like Hermes towards Pikachu. It takes a big gulp of air before it can stop, and in that state the poison’s effects hit it incredibly fast. “Return, Pikachu.” I draw him back before it can even hit the ground. That leaves me with one pokémon, which I have to use to defeat Red’s last two. “Medicham, go.” There’s a reason why I’ve put Medicham as last within my roster, and I show Red that reason as I pull my necklace out, previously hidden under my scarf, and let the crudely-cut stone catch the dull light of the mountain. Medicham looks at me expectantly before turning back to Red as the stone begins to glow. “Medicham, Mega Evolve.”

      An iridescent light consumes Medicham, forcing my eyes away as it shines almost as bright as the sun. Red watches as Medicham’s appearance evolves into something more spiritual and the last of the light dissipates into the now-ubiquitous symbol of Mega Evolution. “Amazing,” he says, fingering his own stone in a bracelet. “You know, there was only one guy that I fought that I was so serious as to need Mega Evolution for.” I can’t help but be curious.

      “Who was that?”

      “…My best friend,” he murmurs after a moment of hesitation, a sad smile on his face. “—But let’s get back to the battle,” he says quickly. “Venusaur, use Sludge Bomb!” His Venusaur’s plant makes a sick squelching noise before “spitting” out a ball of plasmatic poison. Medicham dances out of the way with speed no less than what I expect before returning to its usual stationary pose.

      “Medicham, use Force Palm.” Medicham breaks its prayer stance and extends one hand before rushing at Venusaur faster than the behemoth can react.

      “Sleep Powder!” Red orders as Medicham’s palm connects with Venusaur’s face. He gives a grunt of pain as he releases spores on impact, which rain down on both of them. Medicham jumps back immediately, hopping constantly from foot to foot even as its eyes droop, but Venusaur lacks that agility and falls on his side, unconscious. “Venusaur! Venusaur!”

      “Fire Punch!” I command over Red’s voice. Medicham shakes his head quickly to regain his bearings and clenches his fist, which ignites as if it was doused in gasoline, and rushes at the prone Venusaur. It doesn’t awaken despite Red’s pleas and Medicham hits it square in the face, its fist leaving a burning imprint that sears the thing’s skin and turns it black around the area. “Now, Ice Punch.” It comes even harder and stronger, encasing Venusaur’s entire front half and most of its plant in ice.

      “Sludge Bomb again!” Red calls, turning his hat to the side. The center of Venusaur’s plant remains intact as the sludge begins boiling again. I mentally run through the composition of a Venusaur’s poison, and one of the first thoughts I get is nitric acid. I know that it works as a strong corrosive, able to burn through the skin of humans and pokémon very quickly, but also that it can ignite in the face of a hypergolic propellant. Damage can be done to Medicham, but I believe that Pikachu and Eelektross can still be pushed to fight in the event that it falls.

      “Aniline,” I tell it just as the Sludge Bomb is formed. Medicham understands quickly while Red doesn’t, making me question just how much of an education the man has had when he should be my father’s age at this point. Medicham covers its mouth with two phantom arms as the air waves around its head and it tries to focus on the molecular level. I believe that it’s failed as the Sludge Bomb arcs above its head, but just as the nearest drop caresses its “turban,” both Medicham and Venusaur are consumed in a wild explosion that forces Red and I away from the smoke and heat.

      “Venusaur!” he cries as the smoke clears. His Venusaur survived, however he’s just a lump of charred skin and wilting feathers, and with a weary grunt his full weight hits the hard-packed dirt of the mountain. A gentle snow begins to fall as Medicham raises its head, all ethereal arms gone with only small wisps of greyish energy to mark their old presence on its back, one eye stuck shut with crusting blood and one hand completely out of commission. He returns Venusaur, jaw clenched.

      “I don’t mean to put words in your mouth, however… ‘Snorlax, use Body Slam?’” Red looks irate for the first time, and although it’s no accomplishment to piss off a supposedly seventeen-year-old trainer, I feel somewhat pleased with myself. He draws out that final pokéball and holds it in both hands, deliberately pressing the button.

      “Snorlax…use Rest.”

      I watch as Red’s Snorlax comes out in a sprawled position and I honestly believe in his command’s redundancy, as that Snorlax comes out already deep in REM. “The hell… Medicham?” It’s not as gung-ho as before but it still has one good arm and two good legs. “…Hi Jump Kick.” I usually hate to get complacent, however I know from both reading and physical experience that Snorlax are lumbering, maladroit sacks and especially so when just waking up from a deep nap. Medicham gets a bit of a running start before leaping high into the air, knee bent and outstretched as it comes down on Snorlax.

      “W…” Red bites his lip for a moment, watching Medicham gain velocity as it comes down until— “Sleep Talk!”

      “Ssssnnn…” Snorlax murmurs lazily as a faint white aura surrounds it. Suddenly it lurches upwards and I believe that he’s waking, however my fears are momentarily assuaged when he falls back on the ground with a loud snore—then his vast stomach tenses before hardening into the vague shape of abdominal muscles. Medicham’s eyes widen and it grabs Snorlax psychically, attempting to roll him over but getting as far as his side before it hits the dirt. I hear the loud crack coming from Medicham’s feet even from yards away, then its pained cry follows seconds before its Psychic gives out and Snorlax, with another heavy grunt, rolls back on top of it. A solid minute of staring ensues as Snorlax lays on top of my pokémon for fifteen seconds, spends ten more wiggling to make himself more comfortable, Medicham’s body cracking the whole while, then he’s content with a sigh for the remainder.

      “…Medicham, return.” Even the pokéball is perplexed as the red light dances around Snorlax’s flesh for a few seconds before finally, magically finding a crack in its bulbous body to slip beneath and return Medicham to its confines. Even Red seems a little abashed.

      “S…Sorry, that happens sometimes.” For my sanity, I don’t respond.

      “Pikachu, come back to finish this.” Pikachu returns onto the field as shaky as before, although it’s still ready to fight, tail raised and cheeks sparking. “Nuzzle him.” Pikachu draws closer and, cheeks still zapping every few seconds, rubs its nose against Snorlax’s foot, little strings of lightning dancing across his skin.

      “Snorlax, Snore.” Snorlax opens his great mouth and I remember to cover my ears just in time. A terrifyingly loud gargling noise resonates from his throat and propagates across the battlefield, and although Red seems used to it Pikachu immediately cries out and skitters away, although the noise doesn’t lessen due to the distance.

      “Electro Ball.” Pikachu doesn’t respond right away, ears pressed flat against its head to block out the noise. “Grr—cancel out the noise with Echoed Voice.” Pikachu opens its mouth and releases its own cry, drowning out Snorlax’s low reverberating noise with its own. It then forms a ball of crackling lightning that it sends flying with its tail. The good part is that the attack hits him directly in his gut, however the impact does little more than give him an itch to scratch. I know that Snorlax have ridiculous levels of health, however Pikachu in that state has a low chance of draining that in any way.

      “You seem stuck,” Red says more than a little smugly. I smirk back at him.

      “A momentary setback, I will admit. Pikachu, charge.” Pikachu grounds itself before raising its tail and increasing its voltage. Red’s mouth skews into a line before he snaps his fingers.

      “Snorlax, wake up and use Earthquake.” His Snorlax grunts lazily but rolls onto his side and, with another grunt, shifting to one foot, the other dragging along due to Pikachu’s earlier attack. Still, he only uses one foot as he gives a short hop maybe eight inches into the air before crashing down on his stomach, shaking the very ground beneath our feet terribly enough to knock me onto my behind and send Pikachu rolling across the rough terrain until it crashes into a snowdrift. Pikachu leaps back onto the dirt and briefly shakes stray ice from its fur before sparking, tail still perked into the air.

      “Discharge!” Pikachu rushes across the ground to quickly close the distance between itself and the Snorlax before its cheeks begin sparking wildly.

      “Heavy Slam!” Red orders with a thrust of his fist. Snorlax’s abdominals tighten once more and I react quickly.

      “Pikachu, Agility.” Pikachu vanishes from sight as Snorlax’s mammoth body kisses the ground once more, then it comes back into sight between its ears. It feels along Snorlax’s head for a moment just as I’ve taught it before finally finding its prize. “Disable its cerebellum.”

      “What—,” Red exclaims as Pikachu uses Discharge, this time at full power. Goldish-white bolts of solid power ripple across Snorlax’s body, forcing his fine covering of fur to waver as the magnetic field between them increases, showing more as the fur under Pikachu’s paws turns away from it. Snorlax gives a bone-rattling moan as he starts rolling around furiously—while he still can. “Snorlax, Incinerate him!” Snorlax howls in pain as the ground beneath them begins quivering and erupts in a virtual shower of blazing orange fire. Pikachu is knocked away but not before it’s burned out of commission.

      “Return,” I say, withdrawing Pikachu. I stare at my last pokéball before rereleasing Eelektross onto the field, watching it immediately coil up in pain. “Get up, Eelektross, and use Flash.”

      “Eel!” Eelektross cries in indignation before releasing pent-up electricity in the form of a blinding surge of light. I hear Snorlax’s heavy footsteps pound against the rock for a moment as he tries to find a center of balance.

      “Now use Charge Beam.” Electricity pops off of Eelektross’ body before it unwinds and fires a crooked bolt of lightning at Snorlax, zapping his center as the light fades. Snorlax shudders from the impact but stands his ground, and the excess electricity settles in a wide oblong around the battlefield, sizzling as it comes in contact with the snow.

      “Snorlax, Giga Impact!” Red commands. Snorlax’s feet pound against the ground for a moment before it rushes forward with speed it has not previously displayed.

      “Eelektross, slow it down using Acid.” Eelektross coughs and gags before spewing a strip of green liquid onto the rock that causes Snorlax to slip and slide as well as burning the soles of his feet, but for all that its done to his momentum it’s pointless. Eelektross slithers out of the way as Snorlax barrels past. “It has to take a break. Use Thunder!” It gathers electricity for just a moment before firing several bolts of electricity at Snorlax, burning the snow as if with a strong wave of heat. The attack finally shows as dark marks are left in his beige coat and he grimaces in pain.

      “Ice Beam!” Red calls. A trail of ice makes its way towards Eelektross.

      “Counter with Flamethrower!” The heat melts the ice away but bounces useless off of Snorlax’s Thick Fat.

      “Ground it with Rock Tomb!” he orders, seeing Eelektross’ wild slithering movements. Snorlax grabs large chunks of rock from the ground before tossing them at Eelektross with a grunt of exertion.

      “Dodge using Acrobatics!” Eelektross works its body around the varying rock sizes to get into the air. “Now that you’re up there, use Brick Break!” Eelektross spins top over bottom as it comes down before aiming its tail at Snorlax’s head.

      “Catch her and use Fling!” Snorlax grabs Eelektross’ tail as it smacks down between his ears, causing him to flinch but still giving him the strength to spin it around and throw it down into the hard ground. Eelektross grimaces in pain as Snorlax pants, both weary and down to their last leg. Red and I acknowledge this with a meaningful look, and we both are very aware that it’s all come down to one last move.

      “…Giga Impact,” Red whispers, the whole world having gone silent at our climax. Snorlax huffs through his nose before stomping, a whitish-gold aura surrounding it as it heaves itself towards Eelektross. It’s paralyzed as it watches Snorlax come closer, overheating slightly from the electricity it has been forced to produce. It looks at me fearfully but I keep my eyes on Snorlax, watching the aura “wear away” slightly as he drags his feet across the ground—

      Before he reaches Eelektross he bursts into a shower of electricity.

      “W-What!?” Red splutters as Snorlax hits the ground bodily, eyes spinning out of focus. “You didn’t call a command…and she didn’t move…” Eelektross heaves a sigh as I return it, pocketing the pokéball and facing the underdog.

      “It didn’t matter. All of the electrons Eelektross excited remained in that state around the battlefield, and although you and I couldn’t see it they were slowly galvanizing all of Snorlax’s normal-type attacks… I think you would know the move as Ion Deluge.” Red only seems to be half-listening, returning Snorlax listlessly as a light snow begins to fall. It settles lightly on the brim of his iconic red cap as he hits the ground, seemingly shocked at the resolution. I’ve expected no less, however, and it irks me that he had.

      “I…lost…” He says it like it’s the end of his world, which I find a dramatic exaggeration that only young children are prone to. Still, I ignore it as I slowly walk towards him, boots crunching over the freshly fallen veneer of snow across our battle-marked ground, his eyes roaming listlessly over the field before setting on mine, an odder shade of hazel than I remember them to be.

      “Now, as I have just won, I want my answer—”

      A bright and sudden light stops me in my tracks, doubly so when I realize that it’s emanating from Red’s body, from every pore and opening as if there is a flashlight inside of him. The light slowly intensifies as he cries out, then I become aware of jumbled and rushed words coming from his brilliant mouth as he grabs his hair, his knees, the dirt—anything he can get his hands on. His pokéball belt snaps off and his pokéballs roll free, one in particular bumping against the toe of my shoe. I pick it up and drop it almost immediately as it superheats between my hands. What in Arceus’ name is going on?

      The current Red has lost, a booming voice calls from all around me, yet I don’t see anybody. I don’t understand, not at all. To ignore the completely random voice’s randomness, what does it mean by “the current Red”?

      The light intensifies even further until I have to retreat behind my jacket to avoid being blinded. I count to five, then I warily drop my jacket to find the light has died down. I look at the ground and see Red’s signature cap fall into a small pile of snow near me. I take it up, flipping it over and over, and it strangely looks brand new despite being the exact same hat worn through rain, sleet, and snow for over twenty years. The voice continues, startling me from my thoughts.

      That makes you, Sean DiCaprio, the new Pokémon Master Red.

      “What?” I feel my own skin turning red-hot, eliminating any notions that I’m just imagining all of this, and I stare at my hands on Red’s hat. They’re changing, becoming smaller and less calloused, like…like a child’s hands. Like Red’s hands. I drop the hat but the change continues all the same. “What? No! No, I don’t want to be Red!”

      You have no choice, the voice says. The strongest trainer becomes Pokémon Master Red and it has been that way for decades.

      “But why? Why do we need a Red?” There’s a pause.

      Only the strongest trainer can keep the darkness of Mt. Silver in check.

      I am deeply confused, then I become aware of another presence, my awareness growing by the second. It feels like Arceus itself is descending on Mt. Silver, and when I look skyward I see dark clouds building whereas they had just vanished seconds ago. Lightning begins cracking and a strong wind picks up, stealing Red’s cap and throwing it towards—him? He’s face-down on the ground but it can’t be him. He is younger now and his hair is bleached blond instead of its original brown color. I look at my hands again and a sense of dread and panic builds in my throat as I shakily take out my cellphone and stare into the screen. My hair was auburn before but there are obvious brown streaks growing through it, and my eyes are darkening as well. Even the little scar above my eyebrow is fading away although it’s been there for ten years, dissolving into skin tanner than it was mere seconds ago.

      “No, stop it! I can’t stay here!”

      This is what you wanted, isn’t it? To find out the secrets of Red? The voice has an empty tone yet it words denote sarcasm.

      “Be quiet! Stop this already!” There’s a deathly slamming sound in my head as if somebody’s set off a bomb within my skull. I fall to my knees, dazed, and almost miss the light surging from the center of the whirling clouds.

      You dare speak to Arceus like that? A great white pokémon descends from the cloud cover, a hundred feet tall if not more as it hovers just above Mt. Silver’s peak. The wind whips harder at its presence and its power is almost better at suffocation than the altitude. I can barely look at it as the light it emits sears my corneas; the most I can make out are its eyes, which reflect all the colors of the rainbow and all the indifference of an observer as it looks down on me.

      “Arceus…?” I shake my head, trying to stay awake. “I just want to know why!”

      Arceus looks down at Red—or who used to be Red, anyway. Mt. Silver is the gateway between the world of the legendary pokémon and Earth, it finally admits. It was originally self-sufficient, then the constant travels caused by trainers capturing legendaries weakened it. Red, the original Red, volunteered to maintain the barrier, however the stress of the power caused him to age quickly, and before he passed I gave his “will” to the next strongest trainer in Kanto, yet the same quickly ensued. So has the chain continued throughout the years.

      “I don’t understand. Shouldn’t the gateway have fixed itself by now?” I can feel my bones grinding against each other as my body shrinks, my clothes becoming looser. “Or why can’t you fix it?”

      I am only one pokémon, and there are several in particular that wish for escape. One legendary could not defeat another, as that would throw off the balance in the world; as such, they press endlessly against the barrier, constantly weakening it, and if not for “Red,” it would have broken long ago.

      “That makes no arceusdamn sense—no offense.”

      It is simply the way things are.

      “I won’t take that.”

      You’re not the first to say that—

      “If I can solve that issue, then I won’t be stuck here, will I?” I trip over my shoes, which have become three sizes too big, and ungracefully flop on my stomach.

      —and you won’t be the last.

      “Believe me. When I set a goal, I’ll fulfill it or it’s my life.”

      And it will be, Arceus says. Although I do know of your prowess… It thinks for a moment, long enough for me to lose twenty I.Q. points. Yet we have no time to spare. Darkness is always ready to surge forth.

      “I will be back within the week.” My voice is going higher.



      “Please, Arceus.” I have resolved never to prostrate myself before anybody, yet in the face of the rest of my free life, I am doing exactly that and more.

      One week, it decides, its voice louder than before. The heat fades from my skin yet the pain persists, but this time it is a different type of pain, and as I stare at my hands, they slowly return to normal, my skin paling again. Nevertheless, to ensure you do not forget… I feel another burning pain, this time on my right palm. I turn my hand over and see Arceus’ symbol branded into my skin, red-hot and pulsing like a second heart.

      “I wouldn’t have forgotten anyway, but thanks for the parting tattoo.”

      Watch your tone for the one who is doing you a favor. It would be less time-consuming simply to leave you here as I have done for the last twenty years, but I am in a particularly benevolent mood. It would usually take less time for Darkrai—among others—to pass into this world, but I will work my hardest to keep them at bay. As such, I expect you to work tirelessly as well, Arceus says.

      “Of course.” My hand and head ache in tandem. “Of course, Arceus.”

      And if you fail, it continues, voice raging even louder, I will leave nothing left of you to even serve as “Red.”

      “I expect no less.” It looks harder at me.

      You are the first human to react so calmly to my presence—it’s unnerving.

      “That’s not a question, so I won’t respond.”

      Just be grateful, human. It whisks off without another word, returning to the clouds with a blinding flash of pure golden light. I wait for the wind to die down before looking up again, and a tiny snowflake perches on the tip of my nose. I hear a groan and remember the Red—or maybe not-Red is more accurate. He’s younger than even Red appeared to be, twelve or thirteen if I have to guess, and his eyes are wide yet unseeing. He’s so still that if not for his rapid breaths, I’d take him for a corpse.

      “I-I’m me,” he breathes, his breath instantly freezing into a cloud. “I’m me. I’m free.

      “You may be free, but you won’t be alive long enough to enjoy it.” I point out his lack of protective clothing—in fact, he’s only in a t-shirt and sweatpants. I don’t know if he was dressed like that before…the fact…or if becoming Red somehow eradicated his original clothing.

      “H-Help me, p-please,” he stammered, his muscles already succumbing to spasms in the cold. He attempts to stand but falls on his face in a snowdrift, his pale skin slowly shifting from blue to white as the second stage of frostbite settles.

      “What do you know of this curse? The darkness that binds one to here?”

      “N-No… I’ve got n-no…idea…you’re t-talking about…”

      “Then I won’t help you. I know very little and I have even less time to waste.”

      “P-Please!” he calls after me as I kick through the snow towards the cave. “I d-d-don’t w-want to-to die! I-I know s-s-something! I really d-d-do!” I have no reason to believe him—fear of death will make a person say anything—but my train of thought comes to a screeching crash as it trips over the implications of a little boy being found dead after encountering a young man, because “no idiot can or would climb Mt. Silver in a t-shirt and sweats” and the police are not my biggest fans considering how many times I have used their own laws against them to escape the numerous situations I have landed in.

      “Stay still.” I take off one of my coats and throw it over his shoulders. It is a few sizes too big but he slouches gratefully into the heat, although he keeps bouncing from foot to foot as they sink ankle-deep into the snow.

      “S-Shoes?”

      “I am not losing my toes for you. You should be grateful that I even gave you the parka.” I walk and he follows like a wary puppy, looking all around but remaining at my heels.

      “Y-You’re kind of a j-j-jerk.”

      “I am not a jerk. My philosophy is doing all for the pursuit of knowledge. Saving your life doesn’t fit.”

      “Y-You—” He does not finish and instead bites down on his blue lip. He starts shaking again as we enter the cave, although the appropriate response would be to relax as he’s out of the swirling, biting wind. Instead, he continues trembling, gripping his arms tightly and curling in on himself. I grab his arm, trying to rush him, but as soon as I do his weight shifts onto me and he loses consciousness. I have to grab his other arm as well so he doesn’t hit the ground and I bite down the urge to swear at Arceus. I instead focus on the knowledge that the nearest hospital is at the base of the twenty-thousand-foot tall mountain and I get to walking.
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        #3    
      Old June 25th, 2017 (9:58 PM).
      Bay Alexison's Avatar
      Bay Alexison Bay Alexison is offline
      O, Dance of Devotion!
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      Oh yay the sequel to Yggdrasi! Been looking forward to that for a while. That's a cool battle between Red and Sean there. I do admit, I reacted the same way as Red when Sean called his Pikachu worthless. Interesting take on why Red stays in Mt Silver and that "he" can be passed down. So little nice Sean backstory there, interested to see where you'll take this story with the other characters.
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        #4    
      Old July 4th, 2017 (8:51 AM).
      Venia Silente's Avatar
      Venia Silente Venia Silente is offline
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        I came for the battle but I stayed for the

        Quote:
        He turns to me, his eyes bright beneath the brim of his cap, and gives a breath—relief? or trepidation?—that instantly freezes into a small white cloud of wonder.

        You want to battle?” he asks.
        Well, you make Red talk. That is a combination of silly in its own particular way, and also welcome.

        Sounds like quite the journey comes ahead. While I have not read Yggdrasil yet (I've been... lazy), this story got my attention when I saw the first person narration and the various implications being thrown around in between text and dialogue about the character's personality. The various twists brought around with the fight and how "Red" works, and Arceus being in a bit of a good mood, they all made this opener interesting to read; it is also my opinion this chapter could also stand on its own as a sort of battle drabble with only minor changes, but that's just how I enjoyed it .

        Good luck with this ongoing story. I hope to have more questions as it develops.
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        Old July 7th, 2017 (6:00 PM).
        Bardothren's Avatar
        Bardothren Bardothren is offline
        Muddling along somehow
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        Good battle? Check.

        Intriguing Red plot with an unusual twist? Check.

        Older main protagonist who isn't all about being a pokemon champion? Check.

        Evil legendaries? Check.

        Solidly written prose and good descriptions? Check.

        Good dialogue, particularly with Arceus involved? Check.

        I see a lot of potential for this story, and I'm really eager to see more. I'll be waiting for the next chapters.
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          #6    
        Old July 13th, 2017 (3:39 PM).
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        Aisu Aisu is offline
           
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          Author's Drabble - Now I have work done on that sequel, and the final title is "Jormungand."

          Chapter 2

          “And with tears of blood he cleansed the hand,
          The hand that held the steel:
          For only blood can wipe out blood,
          And only tears can heal.”
          —Oscar Wilde "The Ballad of Reading Gaol”


          I am not a fan of drinking. It addles the thinking process and at this point of time, I cannot afford that hindrance at all. I have a time limit to find something that I have no goddamn clue about with even less background knowledge and the looming threat of my eventual smiting by Arceus’ golden hoof. I came to Mt. Silver expecting something impressive, I have to admit, but nothing as bat-muk insane as the spirit of a fourteen-year-old boy protecting the world from the dark side of the legendary pokémon. If for nothing else than to placate my spirits and contain my vanishing sanity, I buy a bottle of vodka from the small town at the base of the mountain, and while Oz is treated in the clinic expertly built to handle frostbite, I stand in the cold to numb my body while the alcohol numbs my mind. I know I’m not doing myself any favors, but I would like to avoid reality for a little longer.

          Oz doesn’t wake up for a long time. When he finally does, the first thing he sees is me sitting by the bed watching him like a, ah, total creep. “Good morning, Sleeping Beauty,” I say. “Great job wasting one of my seven days.”

          He stares at me for a second before shutting his eyes and turning his head away. “I didn’t dream it,” he mutters disdainfully.

          “I wish you did. Hell, I wish I did too.”

          “Are you drunk?” He says it like he already knows the answer.

          “Why?”

          “I don’t think you hear how drunk you are.”

          “You’re right, I can’t.” The bottle only has a quarter remaining but I dump it in the room’s trash can anyway. I settle back in the seat and look out the window at the drab snowy landscape. “Now that you’ve had a good night’s sleep, I hope your mind’s clearer.”

          “You’re one to talk.” His sarcasm annoys me, but honestly, I would be bitter too if I had to spend who-knows-how-long as someone else, although I’m starting to wish that I did just choose that option. I run my hands up and down my face, trying to string together my fragmented thoughts and failing miserably.

          “The, uh… The, ah, Red thing. Can you just answer the question please? I don’t want to end up like that and that’s why I’m here.”

          “Yeah, about that.” It takes some effort but he sits up. He seems a little upset, but through these drunk goggles reality is very elusive and deceitful. “Why aren’t you still on Mt. Silver? I mean, I didn’t question it before ‘cause you were better than laying there to die of cold, but now that I think about it, you should’ve been right after me.”

          “I made a deal, a deal with that big white equine thing.” I laugh at the fact that I remember the word “equine” over its name, but Oz doesn’t find it as humorous.

          “Big white…I don’t know what ‘equine’ means.”

          “Horsey.”

          “Oh. Oh, so you mean…you made a deal with Arceus,” he finishes, stunned. I give him a clap for his effort. “B…But how? And why?”

          “Look I’m having a hard time holding a note right now, I can’t rehash that one-sided conversation with enough coherency… I don’t even know if I sound the same to you as I do to myself.”

          “Ya shoun’ like zhish,” Oz says. I wince. “L…Look, I don’t remember much from being Red or whatever. It was like watching an 8mm movie… I was just watching him or it or whatever do battle and talk and everything but it was so bad that half the time I really had no clue what was happening. Before that…” He shudders, looking at his hands. “I can barely remember anything about what it was like before. It feels like my whole life—my life—was just some big dream. It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever felt.”

          “Hmm… Do you recall anything that might help me?”

          “No…”

          “Honesty, Oz.”

          “I don’t!” he said more vehemently before slumping over. “I don’t…”

          “It’s…alright.” It’s not, but I won’t be getting any pertinent information from this kid. I already lost one day, which leaves me with six. Six days to find out about something that even I never heard of before, and from that fact alone I know it will be damn near impossible to get any information on this gateway to Tartarus in Mt. Silver or whatever the hell it is. “Well, I suggest you call a parent, because they won’t let you, as a minor, walk out by yourself.”

          “Parent…” he repeats with a dazed expression before blinking back to reality. “Can’t you, ya know, pretend to be…?” The question brings more clarity to my fogged mind and I frown.

          “Should I do so, I would legally be obligated to watch over you, and I’m sorry to put this in such blunt terminology, but hell no. If you didn’t hear, I don’t have time to waste.”

          “But you’re still talking to me,” he points out. I rub my chin.

          “I’m not exactly in a good thinking state at the moment. If I was, I would have been gone yesterday.” He sighs and brings his knees to his chest. The action makes him look even smaller and weaker, which makes me wonder how he ever ascended Mt. Silver to beat Red, or rather his predecessor of “Red.” As a matter of fact, I did not find any pokéballs on him, and although his clothes apparently changed, I don’t think that his pokémon would have been divinely confiscated as well.

          I must be focusing hard on him, because Oz gives me an odd look. “Is there something on my face or something?”

          “No.”

          “Then can you please, like, stop staring? It’s making me uncomfortable.”

          “I’ll try.” A period of silence falls over us as I try to pretend I’m not heavily inebriated to no avail. The door opens and a young doctor enters, giving me a familiar nod before turning to Oz.

          “You’ve had some excellent company,” she says dryly, taking his arm to check his pulse. “He makes the rudest observations.”

          “He’s a jerk,” Oz confirms.

          “I’ve been hearing that my whole life, and so the sting has long passed,” I tell them, finally managing to sober my voice to normal levels. She checks Oz’s other vitals before declaring him healthy and asks if, “as his guardian,” I will be taking him home. My response is just as I told Oz, however he rushes to grab my arm and speaks for me:

          “Yeah, he’ll do it,” he tells the doctor. She nods and informs me that there are a few papers necessary before he can be discharged, at which I nod in response to Oz’s astoundingly strong grip on my forearm. She says to meet her at the front before departing, which is when he finally releases my arm.

          “If I had the coordination to do so, I’d kill you right now,” I tell him, standing, “and as we’re in a medical facility, I’d let them revive you—only to kill you again. What the hell was that?”

          “I couldn’t call my parents, so I had to use you!” he says. “This isn’t ideal for me either, jerk, but maybe we can help each other?”

          “How exactly?”

          “I can’t remember a lot, just a few things, and I blame it on what happened. You need to figure out that mystery to save yourself, right? We work together, we figure it out together—the perfect denouement!”

          “You’re that anxious not to go home? What is so bad about your parents?” His jaw clenches and he relents for two seconds.

          “I have… I remember flashes. They’re bad.”

          “Bad is subjective.”

          “Take my word for it. Why else would I go with a complete stranger?” I can say that he is over exaggerating or just crazy, but I don’t think he would take it well. And it’s not to say I haven’t had my fair share of issues, mainly maternal, but he’s risking a lot. As a matter of fact, so am I.

          “And you’re supposed to help me? I have twice your intelligence.”

          “And you’re also a huge jerk,” he adds. “I may be a dumb mankey, but I’m not a total moron.”

          “I did not call you a dumb mankey.”

          “Yeah, but I get the feeling you think it a lot.” I sigh and pinch the bridge of my nose. “Please, please…what was your name again? Sean?”

          “Sean Isaac DiCaprio.” He strains not to roll his eyes.

          “Please, Sean Isaac DiCaprio.”

          “No. That is final.”

          “You have a poor depth of field. Come on, have just a tiny, tiny bit of goodwill in you!”

          “If you can’t tell, I’m doing an astounding amount of soul-searching for that tiny, tiny bit. I don’t like children, I don’t like baggage, and although I admire your persistence, I don’t like you.” Oz does roll his eyes, then he gasps as a thought strikes him.

          “I’ll sweeten the deal. I’ll give you another mystery to figure out. Something good.”

          “Oh?” Curiosity is one of my vices. “And that would be…?” Oz holds his hand out facing skyward, and curls his fingers in. When he slackens them again, a purple flame appears just above the contours of his palm. It dances across his pale skin before swirling up his arm to his shoulder, where it briefly hovers before disappearing. I stare at him, surprised, and he smirks smugly.

          “So, is it a deal?”

          I will regret it, but I agree.

          _____

          “Ya got no damn clue what we’re doing, do ya?”

          I can only chew my salad in response, because for all of his candor, he’s right. We sit in one of the town’s diners trying to figure out a second course of action, or rather having Oz berate me for not thinking one up. Although, that isn’t as annoying as his new syntax, which I fear may be permanent. “The library.”

          “The tumble-down ol’ one room thing down the street? Yea, great idea there.” He ordered a club sandwich with a large side of chili cheese fries. I’m no health nut (my second vice is sugar, which little know about) but his choices aggravate me. “Yer starin’ kinda hard at my food,” he says. “I’m not sharin’.”

          “Thank Arceus for that.” I feel its mark on my hand pulse a bit in response, as if it’s irritated by my use of its name. I ignore the feeling and continue, “Perhaps the library isn’t in its prime, but it can still be of use. You never know.”

          “I think I do.” He takes a bite of his sandwich, smearing mayonnaise across his nose that he wipes on his sleeve.

          “That’s ill-mannered behavior.”

          “Bite me,” he says with another obnoxious bite. “Or, ya know what? Ya look like ya really wanna, so I take that back.”

          “Why are you talking like that anyway?” He shrugs a shoulder.

          “Happens sometimes. Can’t help it.” I mentally file it away under his many oddities.

          “We’re wasting time here. We have to glean as much information as possible before the library closes,” I tell him, gesturing out the window to the setting sun.

          “I don’t like to be rushed when eatin’.”

          “I have news for you that just may turn your fragmentary world onto its hinges: I physically cannot care less about what you like or don’t. We are going to leave and I won’t hear one complaint from you on the matter.”

          “Yer a—” His eyes widen for a second as he appears to lose his train of thought, then he looks down at his sandwich and curls his mouth into a sneer. “An ornery bastard, ya ‘re.” He finishes his sandwich while I pay for the food (and he also takes two more wrapped sandwiches, apparently to spite me) and makes a mess of his fries as we walk towards the library. I stop him before he touches the doorknob.

          “Wait outside,” I tell him.

          “Oi—”

          “I spent fifty dollars on you and your food. You don’t know what I do to make just fifty dollars. Stay out here or I’ll sell you to get my money back.”

          “An’ yer cheap too. Ya must’a been real popular with the ladies.” I don’t waste any further words on him.

          The library is just as disorganized and shabby as it looks on the outside. When I walk in, I have to do some quick footwork to avoid stepping on a stunky. It wakes up anyway and hisses at me before scurrying up to the shoulder of a bespectacled young man. “You must be new. You wouldn’t be coming in here otherwise,” he says, scratching his stunky’s nose.

          “I was wondering if you have any books on Mount Silver, Pokémon Master Red, the legendaries…?”

          “Hello to you too,” he says amicably and points me towards a low shelf with perhaps a dozen thin books on the dusty metal. “Although my company has never been very polite.” I ignore him and check the first book. The Theology of Arceusism. It sounds as self-righteous as if the horse itself wrote it. “You’re not one for scintillating banter, are you?” the librarian asks, a bit affronted. I appreciate his vocabulary, if it means something. His stunky hisses again as it jumps from his shoulder and onto the shelf, watching me carefully. “Can I get your name at least?”

          “Sean Isaac DiCaprio.”

          “Well, my name is Aristotle, but I prefer Aries.”

          “Good for you.” A long time ago, there was once a single egg. That egg hatched into the first pokémon, Arceus… I flip through the pages and find nothing at all helpful, and so I move onto the next book, Tallest Mountains in The World. Aristotle picks up his stunky when it starts tearing a book, scratching its side.

          “No, no, not to a book,” he chastises. “What’s with the odd search anyway?”

          “I believe it’s because none of your business?”

          “Well damn, okay,” he says, chagrinned. He sets the stunky down on the book-cluttered counter and looks out the window. “Is that your friend out there inhaling chili cheese fries?”

          “He’s not a friend, more like a recalcitrant stray.” Again, the book does less than nothing. Biography of Red. Sounds promising, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

          “That’s mean, although I see why you’d liken him to a pokémon.” He reaches behind the desk and draws a box of treats out, giving two to his stunky. “Well, I’m just here helping out an old friend, watching the library and his stunky for him while he goes on a date. She’s a lovely young woman by the way. I don’t quite know how to feel about that.”

          “You’re fairly tenacious even though I’m sure you can tell I don’t want to talk.”

          “But I do, and I don’t mind holding a conversation with myself,” he said brightly. “Or maybe with your friend outside.”

          “Knock yourself out.” I toss the book and check the next two at once. I hear the door open and close, then his stunky jumps onto my head and starts picking at my hair with its stubby claws. The first book is crap, but the second one seems to be catching onto something. It’s only a news article though. Legendaries…our friends or FOES? written by a man named Wilhelm Rowan. Most of it is crap drabble by an author desperate for reads, but when I look deeper I find interesting (and by that, I mean relevant) information.

          As we know, Arceus has cultivated several lands across the Earth, the birds have maintained the fickle weather, and the trio of Sinnoh keep our space and time aligned. But we know there are “bad” legendaries in existence: Darkrai causes and feasts on bad dreams; Kyurem eats humans in the dead of the night; Dialga and Palkia can and will fight brutally, at times giving ruin to the space around them. So one has to wonder how our world is still intact at this point? It’s assumed that Arceus deals with these troublesome pokémon, but how?

          Mt. Silver, which lies on the boundary line between Kanto and Johto, is also believed to be a boundary between worlds, or dimensions—more specifically, our world and the various worlds the legendaries live in. I’m suggesting to you that Arceus is using Mt. Silver as a “lock” to hold those worse legendaries back and out of our world. The confusing thing, however, is that pokémon like Palkia can create spatial holes anywhere they want, so what stops them from coming into our world regardless, we can’t say.


          The article regresses into something pointless and I throw away the book. So, Mt. Silver is the barrier that separates our world from the legendaries’, also preventing the ill-tempered legendary pokémon from coming out and wreaking havoc. The one fact that he had incorrect was Mt. Silver being the seal, but I guess that he couldn’t know, not having seen what I saw. All it has told me is that a “lock” is necessary, which I already know, but he did raise an interesting question on how the legendaries simply cannot escape on their own. Something separate must be restricting their power, and now I must wonder why that something just doesn’t function as the “lock” as well.

          I check the shelf again but apparently, that’s the last book relatively useful. I try to pry the stunky from my head but it clings with all the obstinacy of, ah, Oz. They would be best friends.

          Aristotle and Oz are eating ice cream which is annoying because one, Aristotle looks to be my age and is eating an ice cream cone in the shape of a clown, and Oz is eating two of the kiddie cones with cheese still on his fingers. “You…just look sad,” I tell Aristotle. “And you, Oz, did you not just eat? Are you a black hole?”

          “Never pass up free food,” he says with an easy smile. Aristotle laughs and they both look like, ah, dumb mankey. Why are they even eating ice cream, and who sells ice cream when it snows all day every day? Stupid.

          “This town has exhausted its use. We’re leaving.”

          “Yeah sure,” he sighs. “Thank ya for the ice cream, Aries.”

          “No problem. I’m always on the run, but here’s my email address in case you ever want to chat,” he smiles, handing Oz a slip of paper.

          “I’ll keep that in—ow!” Oz says as I grab his ear.

          “We’re leaving.”

          “Ya don’t have to be so rough, ya know,” he complained, biting off the clown’s head. It’s amazing that he doesn’t freeze his tongue.

          I stop by the hotel to get my two bags, then we go to the train station where we have thirty minutes to catch the next train to Celadon City. He doesn’t want to wait in line with me to buy tickets (and I can’t blame him; the line is way too damn long) so I warn him that if he doesn’t board the train he’ll be left behind. He gives me all the care of a self-regarding child before disappearing into the station’s crowd, and I can already sense the law enforcement that will blame me for whatever moronic thing he is about to do.

          The ticket seller, a redheaded teenaged girl, looks me over with insouciance before apparently finding something interesting. She adjusts her glasses slightly as she scrutinizes my face. “Haven’t we met?” she asks in a slightly nasal voice, picking up two golden train tickets.

          “I believe we haven’t.”

          “Hmm, sure?” she presses, passing the tickets under the glass.

          “Very. Thank you.” I take the tickets and head towards the train. The boarding has already begun so I go looking for Oz with about as much success as I envisioned. It doesn’t help that the station is crowded and it’s below ten degrees out here. I fully intend on getting on the train alone, but just as my foots lifts from the edge of the platform I feel a smaller form barrel into my back.

          “Hey don’t leave without me!” he protests.

          “Then don’t waste your time.” I hand the conductor both of our tickets. He punches mine easily but gives Oz sort of an odd look.

          “You bought him a children’s ticket,” he says to me.

          “Okay?”

          “They’re only valid for twelve and under.”

          “Sean!” Oz exclaims, looking at me in exasperation. “Really? Did you think I was ten?”

          “I gave it a guess, yes. And why are you hard-pressing me about this ticket? The children’s ticket costs more!”

          “Rules are rules,” he says. “Now, you can go and buy an adult’s ticket, but I need you to move so the live can continue—”

          “The train is about to leave! The next one comes in five hours!” He looks at me to complain, I assume, then his eyes glint. “Cover your ears,” he tells me. I just stare back and he shrugs. He looks at the conductor and puts his fingers in his mouth like he’s about to whistle, but the sound that comes forth is ten times more brain-jarring. I cover my ears at the first note but the conductor isn’t as lucky and neither are the others in line. While they crumple to their knees from the ensuing headache, Oz grabs my arm and pulls me down the train cart to the very end and roughly shoves me into a seat, hiding himself beneath my bags.

          “You know that I’ll ask how you did that.”

          “Part of the mystery, buddy,” he grins.

          “So I’ll tack it up alongside the fact you travelled up Mt. Silver without any warm clothing or pokémon, and that weird speech you adopted in the town. You know, part of a mystery is getting clues for it.”

          “Eh, you know what? You’re right,” he agrees. “Here’s your clue: I did, in fact, go on Mt. Silver with pokémon. Turning into or morphing or whatever into Red didn’t change that.”

          “So what, did you leave your pokémon in the snow?”

          “That would be cruel and maybe something you would do. I didn’t.”

          “Then…where are they?” He waggles his fingers at me.

          “That’s another part of the mystery, guy.” Earlier, he was bucolic; now he’s full of beans. I don’t know which is more aggravating. “But I’ll be nice and give you a hint too: I’m a more unique pokémon trainer.”

          “Yes, I could tell that even without your saying so.” He sticks his tongue out at me, then ducks his head as the conductor passes by us. He looks between me and my bags in confusion.

          “I thought I heard…?”

          “Heard what?”

          “N…Nothing,” he says, shaking his head before passing through the door and onto the next cart. Oz sighs and leans his head back against the seat.

          “You still don’t remember anything?”

          “Why do you ask?”

          “Curious.”

          “Ah. Curiosity killed the cat, Sean Isaac DiCaprio,” he reprimands with a smile. “And the answer is no, I don’t.”

          “Don’t lie.”

          “Look at my face. Do I look like I’m lying?” I stare out the window instead as the train’s whistle blows. The conductor gives me the same look as he heads back up to the leading car. “So I guess you believe me. Good. I remember just a little about what life was like before, but nothing that would help you, and you’re not exactly a model student with small talk so I don’t think you’d care.”

          “I’m not and I don’t.”

          “Aries said that I should still talk to you anyway,” he continues. “I used to live in Goldenrod—don’t remember how long though, or even when. I remember the lights though, they were really pretty… And I stayed in a lot of pokémon centers after that. Then it was Mt. Silver. That’s about it.”

          I close my eyes to block off his chatter, but end up falling asleep instead as the train drags across the tracks and to a new anxiety-filled beginning.
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          Old 4 Weeks Ago (1:59 PM).
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          Bay Alexison Bay Alexison is offline
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          From the way Oz and Sean often banter, the both of them trying to figure out this Red curse thing shall be fun. I like some of Sean's voice in the narration, like his commentary on Oz and Aries eating ice cream in cold weather. Speaking of which, oh hey Aries nice to see him again. I enjoy the part where Sean bought a children's ticket for Oz, lol
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          Old 5 Days Ago (12:40 PM).
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          Aisu Aisu is offline
             
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            Spoiler:
            Chapter 3


            “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”
            —C. S. Lewis


            The train reaches Celadon City late after midnight, giving all tourists a perfect view of the city legendary for its rainbow hue. Lights reaching both ends of the color spectrum span across the city in the darkness, painting a scene brilliant enough to pass for daytime. Oz starts gravitating towards the city and I grab his arm, hauling him back towards me.

            “Hey,” he complains.

            “I don’t want you to get lost in the crowd.”

            “Then don’t stand there like a streetlamp and come with me!”

            “I am going to the library, and you are coming as well.”

            “Me and reading, we’re not best friends,” he protests. “Can we go to the movies instead?” I pull on him harder, but he has an amazing amount of strength for a child.

            “This involves you too—you should, therefore, be more concerned.”

            “I’m living the good life! I’m out here away from home with no cares in the world.”

            “Do you not want to remember?”

            “With the stuff I do remember, I don’t think that the rest will be any better,” he says with a grimace. “So no!”

            “Then find a room in the pokémon center and stay there.

            “No guarantees!” he tells me. “You have one of those faces that just makes me wanna push your buttons.”

            “I do not have many buttons to push.”

            “No, I’m pretty sure you have more buttons than a video editing program, and I’ll be happy to find each of them.”

            “You are insufferable.”

            “Yeah, I’ve realized that,” he says offhandedly. “Let’s go.”

            ________

            I stare at Oz’s sleeping form while mentally staying my hands from his neck, sitting heavily on the other bed of the small room with a sigh. I let my eyes run over my laptop’s screen and the fourth movie in a row that he watched before shutting it down. He really enjoys movies, not necessarily new ones but older ones too, where the pokémon moves are edited in because pokémon of those years had yet to learn how to pull their punches. I thought that a stupid show would put him to sleep, but he has the vitality of a vigoroth. It’s already the third day and I feel too mentally worn to go to the library anymore.

            “Hey, this one! Let’s watch this one.”

            “‘Let’s’?”

            “Yeah, ‘let’s,’ as in ‘let us,’ as in the two of us. C’mon.”

            “I’m leaving.”

            But I didn’t leave, because the movie that he chose was one that I hadn’t seen since I was about his age, and I let my emotions get the better of me. He knows a great deal about movie terminology and production, perhaps more than I do, and went out of his way to explain the physics and details behind each scene—all sixty of each movie. I enjoy learning, whether from my elder or, in this case, an odd young man, but he is just a…bad teacher. He speaks too quickly and mentions names and topics that even I have no idea about but continues to gloss over them as if I do. If anything, it helps me realize how much of a douche I am when I do it to others.

            Oz is not particularly tall for his age—perhaps by one or two inches—but as I look harder at him, he appears older than he is. He has the muscularity of one who grew too quickly for his body to properly catch up, so I would pin him at thirteen or fourteen. He always moves a tad rigidly, as if he had a bad fall once that he never quite recovered from, but more importantly he has begun lying about what he does and does not remember. He truly appears to have forgotten a lot about his past, yet he still refuses to talk about what he does recall, even when it may help me save my own life.

            “You really like movies, don’t you?”

            “Well, yeah. Can’t say why, but they calm me.”

            “Yes, because you seem so calm at the moment.”

            “It’s an inner peace-type thing…”

            I check my cellphone and, surprise, there are several messages from my father and sisters. Mostly asking where I’ve gone and why haven’t I contacted them in the last two days, neither of which I can answer without illuminating what I found at Mt. Silver and the due date on my life. I shut my phone off and think about the surefire verbal tirade to come as soon as they can get a hold of me.

            “…friends…”

            I look up at Oz but he’s still sleeping, albeit more restlessly than before. He shifts onto his back and repeatedly clenches and unclenches his fists in distress. “You guys’re…my only…” he continues before breaking off. Friends? He curls in on himself and grasps his forearms so tightly they turn white from lack of circulation. “Don’t…I’ll do…anyth…” His nails break skin and blood beads from the points of contact. “Anything…just please…”

            Comforting others is not my forte. I have never been particularly good with people or pokémon for that matter. That’s why I stick to books: They don’t have emotions to read, simply pages. But I know that it is not right to just…watch him be in pain.

            “Oz, wake up. Oz.”

            “Oz…” he murmurs, opening his eyes just a crack to look at me. He’s not awake, but he’s not fully asleep either. “Oswald…my name’s…”

            “Oswald, what do you remember?” He blinks sluggishly before looking away, worrying his lower lip.

            “Parents…I had to…Mt. Silver could help…had to let them go…parents were pressing…help me ma…” I can barely make out what he’s saying, as he does not seem to be following a single train of thought.

            “Focus. What do you remember?”

            “Dark…cold…” He closes his eyes and grits his teeth, his next word coming out hissed and constricted: “Evil.” He lets out a breath and goes still, and I know that I will not be getting any further information out of him. Not that the material that I did get was any help at all. I shake my head at the thought, going in my backpack to take out a first-aid kid. I bandage the small wounds left by his nails and turn away when Oswald’s hand comes out and, latching onto my arm, yanks me backwards. I fall onto the bed, and if I planned on getting up, he grips me with his other hand and curls around me like his stuffed animal. If I could hurt this kid, I would, but he has the grip strength of a conkeldurr, and I can’t move until morning.

            ________

            “I don’t really remember what I dreamed about, it’s weird,” Oswald says as he swirls his eggs and oatmeal into a lumpy mixture. “But I remember, like, this big red teddy…”

            “It must’ve sucked, being that teddy.” I hope he can hear the murder in my tone.

            “How did you sleep?”

            “Barely, if at all.” I couldn’t lie down and was forced to sleep sitting up until he woke up eight hours later, which my back did not appreciate.

            “You’re funny,” he says with a little smirk, and I want to throttle him so badly it’s almost painful. He takes a bite and looks around the pokémon center’s café, which is not too populated as most of the trainers are already out to challenge the gym. “Didn’t you say you wanted to go to the library?”

            “Yes.”

            “What’s stopping you?”

            “As I said before, you’re coming too.”

            “I don’t— Okay. Whatever.” He’s giving it up too easily, but I’m too tired to actually care. “Can I ask you a question?”

            “No.”

            “Well, I’ll ask anyway: Why were you challenging Red? No offense, but you don’t look the training type.”

            “I wanted to know what was going on.”

            “Well now you do,” he says, again with a smirk. “And now your life is in danger. Happy?” I really want to throttle him but there are too many witnesses. “So, you’re just an adventurer or whatever, travelling around to discover secrets.”

            “I suppose that works.” He crumbles his toast into the mess and mixes it all together.

            “You figured out mine yet?”

            “No.”

            “Wow, you’re not all that smart, are you? But in your defense, I guess there aren’t many people like me…” He takes a moment to eat and I expect him to continue right after, but he continues through his silence. I attempt to focus on my coffee but the pulsing of Arceus’ brand is highly distracting.

            “I have to go to the library.”

            “Wait for me!” he protests as I give the emptied mug to the nearby Nurse Joy. “I don’t want to be here alone.”

            “Did you not climb Mt. Silver alone?”

            “That was…different,” he says hesitantly, looking aside before meeting my eyes again. “I wasn’t up there alone, I had my pokémon. I…have…my pokémon,” he corrects after a moment’s thought, the spoon frozen halfway to his mouth. He resumes eating a second later as if he hasn’t said anything.

            “Is it impossible for you to hold a train of thought more than three seconds at a time?”

            “What? I’m very focused,” Oswald gripes, indignant. I’m already heading out while he’s still working on his hash browns, and while he angrily shouts my name flavored with several graphic threats, I refuse to wait.

            The library is a bus trip downtown, and while I loathe public transportation, it is much cheaper than hailing a cab. I end up sandwiched between a pregnant woman with a three-year-old and an elderly man, both of which are irate at being forced to stand on the crowded vehicle. It’s far from any sort of comfortable, but if there is anything that I am used to, it’s crowds of the unwanted. The ride lasts another twenty-five minutes of suffering before finally stopping in front of the largest library in Johto, Goldenrod Memorial. If I can’t find my answer here . . .

            I am briefly reminded of the library back home, stepping inside: It was architected and constructed by the people, all from the elderly down to the small children, and although that led to clashing design choices, it all had an odd sort of harmony. This place, however, was intricately planned, from the arched glass ceiling heading the observatory to the winding mazes of shelves below. The library is organized into sections with large plaques detailing their contents, which include everything from the anatomy of Caterpie to a study of all current and antecedent League Champions for all regions. I follow the line down until I reach an entire shelf dedicated to Red. It’s a way to start, at least.

            I read through three solid reports before finally finding something of interest:

            “After completing both the Kanto and Johto Pokémon Leagues, Trainer Red began a study on Mount Silver, which was the source of several odd energy readings from science stations across both regions. As the strongest Trainer in both regions, he sought to investigate more thoroughly, but upon reaching the peak of the mountain, all communications with him were cut off. Childhood friend and longtime rival, Blue, followed him, returning alone and refusing to speak on the matter.”

            So, his friend, Blue, may have some information. It’s as good a lead as any. Then again, Red is from Pallet Town, and assuming Blue has retired to his parents’ home after losing his championship title, it would be a two-day plane trip from here, two days I cannot afford. I place the information on a backburner as I continue searching.

            “Find anything helpful?”

            I will not, under any circumstance, admit that Oswald’s sudden interruption caused me to jump and scatter all the books I was holding. Never.

            “I was fast on the way until you showed up.”

            “Thanks. I love hearing that I’m being appreciated and not just the cleaning the gels guy.” He stoops down to collects the books under the reproving eye of the passing librarian, who appears within an inch of kicking both of us out.

            “Cleaning the gels?”

            “It’s the film equivalent of the register boy that has to scrub crappers.” He spots one page of my notes and takes it up. “So you’re starting from Blue, huh? I don’t think you have the time to make it to Pallet Town, especially if this is a bad lead.”

            “Don’t you think I have the mental capacity to figure that out on my own?” I point out bitterly. “And why are you even here? To berate me?”

            “No!” he protests, rolling his eyes. He clears his throat and gives me a more somber expression. “This stuff affected me too, remember? Maybe if you can figure your crap out, I can get all my memories back.”

            “Why do you even care? You said you don’t want to go home.” He frowns and stacks the last of the books on the red carpeting at the base of the shelf.

            “Yeah, but . . . I’ve got this weird emptiness where my memories are supposed to be and it . . . itches I guess? I don’t know how to describe it but I don’t like it. You ever felt a gaping kind of hole in yourself? Well, besides the one where your heart is?” I almost began to pity him, but all too soon he’s taken my pity and twisted it back into a strong lust for throttling.

            “Less blathering and more aid would be much appreciated.”

            “Aye-aye, Captain Curdled.” We split the books, although I quickly see that Oswald is more harmful than helpful. I am a fast reader, but on the other hand he spends too many minutes on just the first page.

            “Can you put a bit of urgency to this?”

            “I’m trying my hardest, but you should know that I always flunked Language Arts. Books are so boring,” he complains, blowing his hair out of his face.

            “Not every answer can be found in a movie,” I mutter. He raises his eyebrows.

            “Okay, but what about over there?” He points to the more abandoned section of ‘Ancient History.’ “Whatever it is that Mt. Silver is holding has to be pretty old if it exists with the Legendary Pokémon, right?”

            “Oswald.”

            “. . .Oswald what?” I shake my head out of incredulity.

            “That is the best idea I’ve heard from you yet.” I spin around the corner only to crash face-first into a much larger man who is buried in a trench coat. I stumble backwards clenching my nose, which is probably fractured and most likely bruised, and stutter out a nasal apology. The man, whose face is so plain I doubt I’ll remember in a moment, stares at me blankly as if in a trance, slowly dragging a large hand from his pocket to reveal a small pokéball, which grows as he presses the button once, then twice. The second time, a red apparition swiftly takes shape into a male Jellicent, which happens just as Arceus’ mark gives a painful throb. Oswald and I stare, momentarily stunned, until the man’s large hand is pointing at me in the universal command of death.

            We run.

            “Wha— Don’t you have Pokémon!?” Oswald demands breathlessly as we cut through rows of bookshelves. People shout and protest before a concentrated spray of ice-cold water follows us. We duck away just in time and the attack takes out two rows of steel shelves in a heartbeat.

            “In case you’ve forgotten, I’m not a Trainer. I don’t always—Arceus!” He grabs me by the sweater and pulls me down to avoid a stream of highly-pressurized bubbles that cut through a paper divider, sending the inhabitants of the other area running. “I don’t always carry them! Only in special situations!”

            “Damn, if only this counted as one,” he points out deprecatingly.

            “I’m not psychic. I didn’t know this was going to happen.”

            “Why is this happening anyway, is my real question!?” I push him towards a small niche between two shelves and a work desk.

            “Your guess is as good as mine. That man seemed to be in a sort of . . . trance . . .” He suddenly snaps his fingers centimeters from my face.

            “Yo, don’t black out on me.”

            “I’m not. This brand is distracting. It’s been pulsing nonstop since I’ve locked eyes with that man.” I stare at my palm and can actually see Arceus’ mark pulsing with energy. Oswald raises his eyebrows before gasping with realization.

            “That thing is getting loose!”

            “What in hell are you talking about?”

            “Whatever it is that’s under Mt. Silver—or I guess in it, whatever—is getting out without ‘Red’ to guard it. You’re running out of time, in other words. But I didn’t think it could up and possess people,” he adds thoughtfully.

            “That is a farfetched claim.”

            “Do you have any better ideas?”

            “Offering you as a sacrifice?”

            “Ha-ha. No.” The noise behind us suddenly ceases, and we barely have time to turn before the air temperature drops several dozen degrees. Miniscule flakes of ice form of the vapor around us as frost builds over the bookshelves and in small patches on the carpet. A low whine fills the air, preceding a sharp jerk that knocks the both of us onto our stomach and sends the heavy metal shelf, which is now covered in white frost, falling in our direction. I grab Oswald’s leg and yank him backwards with all my strength, sending him rolling across the carpet. I don’t have the momentum to move as quickly across the snowy ground and the books catch me first, slowing my movements enough that my arm remains in the danger zone and falls victim to the shelf.

            “ARGH!”

            Pain burns up my shoulder and through every synapse in my body as the thirty bones of my left arm and hand are severely damaged, most certainly shattered. I roll onto my back holding my arm as the Jellicent sluggishly floats back into view, another Ice Beam at the ready. It is seconds from firing when a sphere of ghost energy—Shadow Ball—repels it, sending him backwards into his owner. Oswald grabs me by my good arm and puts his around my waist, pulling me up and starting an awkward three-legged run.

            “Keep it moving egghead,” he grunts from exertion, his face pale and sweaty despite the cool temperature.

            “—Aye-aye, Captain Capricious.”

            It’s a terrible effort to limp through the expansive library and even more so as the people around us rush towards the exit, jostling my arm and throwing us off balance, and it’s no wonder that the Jellicent soon returns over our heads. A ball of misty water spins ahead of his mouth a second before another gush of it surges towards us at breakneck speed. We’ve no room to dodge and the attack grounds us as well as surrounding civilians. I think I lose consciousness for a few seconds, because when I look up I’m flat on my back and staring it in the eyes. Another Ice Beam, another death sentence, but this time I see Oswald make a Shadow Ball with his own hands and throw it at Jellicent. This time it falls and stays down, but Oz looks a second away from doing the same.

            “. . .Yer gettin’ shabby, Grit,” he mutters with a crooked smirk, smoothing his soaked hair away from his eyes with a hand. The other, I notice, is at his side, shaking so badly he seems hardly able to use it. It’s so cold I can barely feel my hands. “You’re the one that’s shabby, idiot,” he replies to himself. To himself . . . no. The flame and the Shadow Ball. Of course: it’s not just Oswald in that body. The cold, so cold . . . He has Ghost-type . . . cold . . .
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            Old 5 Days Ago (1:19 PM).
            Bardothren's Avatar
            Bardothren Bardothren is offline
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            How the heck did I miss chapter two of this? Looks like I have some catching up to do.

            The second chapter is just as interesting as the first. Oz and Sean Isaac DiCaprio have a lot of fun banter together, and Oz's eccentricities have me wondering. Makes me wonder if he somehow absorbed his pokemon. It would explain his multiple personalities, insatiable appetite, and eerie abilities. I wonder if Sean will pay Rowan a visit.

            I'll be back for chapter three, but for now, I'll leave it at that.
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            Through the Scope (pretty bad)

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            Through the Darkness (getting better)

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            Old 4 Days Ago (9:52 PM).
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            Bay Alexison Bay Alexison is offline
            O, Dance of Devotion!
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            Quote:
            “No guarantees!” he tells me. “You have one of those faces that just makes me wanna push your buttons.”

            “I do not have many buttons to push.”

            “No, I’m pretty sure you have more buttons than a video editing program, and I’ll be happy to find each of them.”

            “You are insufferable.”
            Heh, still enjoy their banter.

            Quote:
            “Find anything helpful?”

            I will not, under any circumstance, admit that Oswald’s sudden interruption caused me to jump and scatter all the books I was holding. Never.
            This is also amusing. Also the part where Oswald said how he kept flunking Language Arts.

            The part where the two were running away and Sean mentions Oz being offered as a sacrifice, yeah don't think it's a good idea either. The last few paragraphs with Oz having a ghost type inside him (I think?), well that doesn't sound too good.
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            Old 3 Days Ago (5:19 PM).
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            Bardothren Bardothren is offline
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            Alright, I'm back for the third chapter.

            Quote:
            he has an amazing amount of strength for a child.
            More fodder for my "he's a pokemon fusion" theory.

            And... mystery solved! Ghost types, makes perfect sense. An exciting and fun chapter, just like the others. Keep it up! Nothing stuck out at me except the sporadic use of bold font. I'm a believer in using font as little as possible, since it's often more distracting than helpful. Tis but a molehill before the Mt. Silver of 'holy muk this is good' that this story delivers.
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            Sleepy Chateau (a Halloween collab with Bay)


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