This is a fic based in the TCG-only region of Holon (introduced in EX Delta Species).
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 (below)
Chapter 1 The Night Sky over Holon City
Fitz toggled the switch. With a soft click, the lights flickered to life. There was a chair, a small desk, and a bed. His new, white-walled Holon City apartment looked disproportionately large in its blank state, like a canvas void of paint except for one dot of color.
The atmosphere of the entire city was permeated with this sense of vacancy. Walking the streets of his neighborhood (which could hardly be called a city) heightened Fitz’s awareness of space, of emptiness in particular – an unnerving sensation brought on by the maze of urban ruins from abandoned labs and the defunct Research Tower dominating the skyline.
Professor Avery’s lab was near one of the abandoned sites. He’d seen it while interviewing for his new position as a lab assistant at the Delta Species lab, coordinated by Professor Avery – crumbling gray brick with green tendrils of moss and ivy scaling the walls, reaching upwards towards the sun.
Fitz placed his suitcase and his backpack (with his skateboard attached to the front) in the center of the stone-tiled kitchen floor. He retrieved a PokéBall from a side pocket. “Come see your new home,” he said as he gently tossed the ball into the center of the emptiness.
There was a burst of white light, which seemed to disperse and then retract into itself, then taking the form of a quadruped Pokémon – a Jolteon. Its coarse, prickly yellow fur seemed to glow and softly crackle, overflowing with electrical energy thanks to the flow of natural magnetic energy on Holon Island. Evidently pleased by this surge in power, the Jolteon seemed to vibrate with happiness as it bounded around the empty apartment.
“You like it, Ziv?” asked Fitz, approaching the Jolteon, who had paused in front of the large window. It led out onto a balcony.
Ziv let off a short pulse of electricity, its fur glittering with tiny sparks, to show its approval.
Fitz smiled. He opened the door to the balcony, and stepped onto the concrete platform. A temperate breeze tickled his skin. His balcony was on the back side of the building, and he could see a wooded area not far from the apartment complex.
“Let’s unpack later,” he said. “Tomorrow is our first day at the Delta Species lab. I bet we’re going to spend a lot of time searching for Delta variant Pokémon, so let’s head out into the woods right behind this building and explore a little.”
Fitz and Ziv followed a dirt path through the trees, taking the time to examine its natural phenomena. The dirt itself was very dark. Among the rocks, the fading sunlight glinted off black polygonal crystals, which were fused into geometric clusters. It was late spring, and the temperature was cooling as the sun approached its low point in the sky.
A quiet metallic whirr attracted Fitz’s attention and he froze before discretely turning to face the sound. The Pokémon, a Magnemite, hovered around in a strange swerving pattern. Within moments another Magnemite appeared from the trees. The way its movements intertwined with the first Magnemite seemed like a dance, propelled by forces beyond Fitz’s understanding.
“Oh, Magnemite must love this island,” said Fitz. “With all the magnetic energy. I bet there are tons of them here. And I bet there are Beldum, too.”
There was a rustling in the shrubs aside the path. To Fitz’s surprise, this time his eyes found not a Pokémon, but a human emerging from the green foliage. She looked to be in her mid-20s – around the same age as Fitz – with curly brown hair that was cut short, falling around her ears. She wore a plain black t-shirt speckled with colors and carried a wooden box with both hands. Upon making eye contact with Fitz, she said, “Oh! Hey, I haven’t seen you before, are you new to Holon City? I’m Jules. Oh, don’t mind me coming out of the woods like that. I’m a painter. And hello to you, Jolteon!”
Ziv’s fur made a static cackling sound, which was its chosen method of greeting.
“I’m Fitz. I’ll be starting as a research assistant for Professor Avery tomorrow,” Fitz replied.
“Oh, another researcher, huh? Well, Professor Avery is doing good work. Ever since the incident, there have been tons of Delta variant Pokémon on this island.”
“I’ve heard that,” said Fitz. “I was actually looking if I could find any. Is there something special about them – some way to tell if they’re Delta or normal?”
Jules chuckled. “You should probably ask Professor Avery! But…” A fleeting look of concentration passed over her face. “If you look at them closely enough, after a while, you’ll see an aura around them. The aura changes depending on their Delta type. Some of them are hard to see even for people who live on Holon, though. I heard Professor Avery was working on something to amplify the visual aura.”
“Oh, that’s cool. I’ll probably find out about it tomorrow.” Fitz looked around, his gaze falling once again to the black crystals mixed into the rocky edges of the trail.
“This forest is called Mirage Forest, by the way,” said Jules. “If it’s your first night, you’ll want to get somewhere the sky is clear. Trust me on this.” She grinned. “Well, it was nice to meet you! I’ve got to get home.”
“Nice meeting you,” Fitz replied, and Jules was off just as abruptly as she’d arrived.
Fitz made it out of Mirage Forest just as the sun set. He cleared the last of the trees and found himself back at the apartment building. Then, in the open sky above him, he saw what Jules had been talking about: ribbons of glowing green light, flowing like a celestial river through the deep, dark blue color of a freshly turned night sky.
He reached into his backpack and retrieved two PokéBalls. Looking to Ziv, he said, “Let’s let all of our friends see it!”
Ziv’s ears perked up excitedly. Fitz tossed both PokéBalls into the air. The white flashes turned into Decidueye and Noivern.
“Let’s enjoy the aurora for a while,” said Fitz. “Then… I’ve gotta unpack.”
Professor Avery was a middle-aged man with a shock of white-blond hair and glasses that were slightly askew. The sleeves of his lab coat were rolled up to his elbow as he flipped through the pages of a large book. Stacks of books and papers were strewn across every surface, including the floor.
“Fitz is here,” chimed one of the other research assistants as she led him into the Professor’s office. Fitz was pretty sure her name was Marie.
Professor Avery didn’t look up immediately, but continued reading until he finished the sentence. Then, he glanced upward, observed Fitz standing there, and abruptly jumped up from his chair. “Welcome, Fitz! Today’s your orientation here, yes? Very well! First, ah – Marie, would you mind showing Fitz around the lab space for me?”
Marie nodded. “Of course, Professor.” She led Fitz out into a larger room, and gestured over to a small conference table with several chairs. Behind the table, a cabinet with glass windows contained several vials of colorful liquid. “What are those?” asked Fitz.
“They’re attempts at distilling the auras given off by Delta variants and by normal Pokémon.”
Jules had mentioned something about auras, too, but Fitz wasn’t quite sure what she’d meant by it. “What are auras, exactly?”
“Every Pokémon has an aura, which is different depending on its species and type. Auras can also fluctuate when Pokémon experience different emotions.” Marie paused. “But Delta variants have unique auras, different from normal Pokémon of their species. We think that the Delta auras hold a clue as to what makes them different than normal Pokémon.”
“So the unique auras of Delta variants might explain how they became Delta variants in the first place?”
Marie smiled. “Precisely! However… we are still working on how to accurately distill Pokémon auras in liquid form. Because it has been difficult to do this well, we’ve also been developing aura visualizers for use in the field.”
“I heard about that,” Fritz said.
“You’ll probably be using one frequently,” replied Marie. “So, let me show you one.”
Fitz followed Marie down a flight of stairs, into the basement of the lab. The basement space seemed to be populated by complicated equipment of many kinds. A Nosepass in the corner remained stationary on a platform that rotated in circles. “It can’t find north here, huh?”
“That’s right,” said Marie. “The strange magnetic properties of Holon make it impossible for Nosepass to point north, but we can measure how strong the magnetic fields are at any given time by how fast Nosepass rotates.”
Next to the Nosepass, a cabinet contained several pairs of glasses. They looked similar to regular eyeglasses, with thick black rims, but the lenses were very slightly gray-tinted. She handed them to Fitz. “Try it,” she said. “The button on the side turns it on.”
Fitz put on the glasses and pressed the button. An overlay activated, displaying glowing arrows in the edge of his visual field, which pointed towards Nosepass (the only Pokémon in the room). Brown circles appeared around Nosepass.
“What do you see?” asked Marie.
“Brown circles around that Nosepass,” he replied. “Telling me its aura is rock type – right?”
“That’s right! Regular Pokémon should have auras matching their type. Delta variants look a little more unusual, but you can use the aura visualizer to get a hint as to what their typing is. Does that model fit you?”
Fitz pressed slightly on the bridge of the visualizer. “Seems fine,” he said.
“Perfect,” said Marie. “That visualizer will be yours. Keep it with you. Now, onto the next step of orientation… let’s try it out!”
There was a simple dirt field beside the lab, which was to be used for Pokémon battles. Fitz (wearing his aura visualizers) stood at one end, and Marie on the other; Professor Avery stood on the sidelines, acting as a referee. Fritz selected his starting Pokémon. Then, he said, “I’m ready.”
“Let’s begin the battle!” said Professor Avery, waving his arm and smiling as if he had some inside joke with himself.
Fitz launched his PokéBall with a strong overhand throw. It emitted the burst of white light mid-air, the light then gathering into the form of a winged draconic Pokémon – Noivern.
Meanwhile, Marie tossed her PokéBall, which released a slender, graceful-looking Pokémon. It appeared to be adorned in a sheet of flowing silver that shimmered in the mid-morning sunlight. Fitz recognized it as Gardevoir. He could see through the visualizer that its aura circles were red.
The type disadvantage was clear, but Noivern was faster than Gardevoir. He figured he’d get one chance to hit it with a strong attack before Noivern was knocked out.
“Use Boomburst!” Fitz instructed. “Make it count!”
Noivern made a high-pitched screech as if in agreement – then, suddenly, an explosive wave of harsh, incongruent electronic bass sounds pulsed outward from the speakers in Noivern’s ears. The ground-shaking force of the cacophonous noise was a direct hit on Gardevoir, but Gardevoir shrugged the attack off.
“Moonblast please,” commanded Marie.
Gardevoir began to emanate a soft yellow glow, then struck with a beam of bright light that hit Noivern squarely in the chest. The dragon Pokémon struggled to stay afoot, but ultimately collapsed to the ground.
Professor Avery raised his arm (as he did not have a flag) and proclaimed, “Noivern is unable to battle. Which Pokémon will you choose next, Fitz?”
Fitz pondered this. He had only seen Gardevoir use one move, and it was a move that a typical Gardevoir could learn. But Gardevoir’s aura circles were red. The color seemed strange, somehow misfit. Decidueye had a type advantage over Gardevoir thanks to its ghost typing, but if this Gardevoir was a Delta variant – and if the red circles indicated fire typing – Decidueye wouldn’t stand much of a chance with its low speed.
“Alright,” said Fitz. “Here goes.” He threw the PokéBall and Ziv materialized on the battlefield. Electricity surged through its coarse fur. Ideally, Ziv would be faster than Gardevoir. Fitz took a deep inhale, and then directed, “Use Shadow Ball!”
Ziv started running around the perimeter of the battlefield at a dizzying velocity. An orb of dark energy swirled and condensed in front of it. Seizing an opportunity to attack Gardevoir from behind, Ziv launched the shadowy sphere at its opponent. The sphere fizzled out into nothingness upon making contact, but the damage was clear. Gardevoir looked slightly dazed.
Just one more hit, thought Fitz.
“Moonblast again!” instructed Marie, who looked quite unfazed.
“Dodge it! And use Shadow Ball!”
Ziv whirled around just in time to miss the beam of light from Gardevoir’s Moonblast, then launched another Shadow Ball in retaliation. The Shadow Ball hit, and Gardevoir stumbled before falling to the ground.
“And the winner is Fitz! Very good,” said Professor Avery. “You made the right choice not to send out Decidueye. Did you see Gardevoir’s aura?”
Fitz nodded. “It was red,” he said. “I thought it might be a fire type.”
“Indeed it is.” Professor Avery smiled. “You are a skilled battler. Do you have a lot of experience battling?”
“You could say that,” said Fitz.
“I do,” the Professor replied. “You’ve still got much to learn about Holon and Delta variants, but I think you will be a great help.”