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  #26    
Old November 30th, 2017 (6:15 PM).
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Astinus Astinus is offline
     
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    I still like the little details that you include in your chapters. Like the volcano burgers and the mention of how Violet and Ecruteak carry on in their traditional ways. You even manage to adjust for Togekiss's Fairy-typing, which wasn't around for both generations that had Johto games.

    This chapter seemed to have those little sorts of details all throughout it. Wondering if more will be made of how Silver and Toto are doing, and if Kris can get over her nervousness while battling now that she has her own Pokemon.
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      #27    
    Old December 1st, 2017 (6:52 AM). Edited December 1st, 2017 by Unown Seer.
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    Unown Seer Unown Seer is offline
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      Generally speaking, if you a have a question about a character, chances are that it will be addressed.

      The Fairy type is the kind of mechanic that should have existed to begin with, as are abilities and most moves out there. Don't expect to see Mega Evolution or Z-moves, though.
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        #28    
      Old December 31st, 2017 (2:13 AM). Edited January 7th, 2018 by Unown Seer.
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      Unown Seer Unown Seer is offline
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        I had to take a break and find my voice again, as it were. Hopefully I can make gaps smaller again.

        Chapter 7

        "Ernie, wake up," Mom says sweetly. "You have your club today, right?"

        I open my eyes. I must have had quite the dream, since I find it hard to get up. My mind is still reeling, but I don't know what the reason is. It's frustrating not to be able to recall your own dream; knowing me, I guess that Pokémon were involved somehow.

        "Yeah, it's Saturday. I need to be there by 10 – what time is it?" I ask after collecting my thoughts.

        "A quarter to 9, just about. Grandpa's been waiting for you to join us for breakfast, so hurry up," she says and leaves my room. Grandpa? I'm surprised that they aren't at work by now; I had to take the bus last week around this time because they were too busy. Mom didn't like that at all, but Grandpa told her that she should give me some credit. I didn't combust into flames or anything, and on the way back, I was so busy thinking about the club that I missed my stop and had to correct my mistake by foot. Even that didn't sour my mood, as I had already been delighted to see how many people were still talking about Pokémon online. Old folks, probably, but on the Internet age isn't a factor. Still, the excitement started to wear off after a few days, since there were so many posts and most were just about PBS strategies and tournament organization. There was something else, though…

        "Ernie, I'm leaving unless you get down here within a minute," Grandpa says, reminding me that I haven't moved a finger yet. Better get out of my pajamas, then. I get dressed hastily and go downstairs before Grandpa leaves… only to find that he hasn't even finished eating yet, his eyes fixed on the newspaper. That is so like him.

        "Good morning," I say to get his attention.

        "It may not be morning anymore," he jokes without even raising his eyes. "You're lucky that your mom cooked enough for three, or you'd be out of breakfast." He seems to have made Mom laugh. She's reading a newspaper, too. I sit down and grab a piece of lightly colored marble cake, which is Grandpa's favorite. I look through the window to gauge the weather; it seems like a cloudy November day, but my guess is that there won't be any rain. Suddenly, I spot that.

        "Why are the bee drones out today?" I ask.

        "Why not? Even in winter, some flowers flourish and it would be a waste if the bee drones weren't around to collect their pollen," Grandpa answers.

        "Okay, that makes sense. That reminds me that I've been trying to figure out which Pokémon acted as pollinators back in the day. And more specifically, what are the bee drones based on?" As I say this, Mom stops reading and eyes me.

        "The drones are based on a species called Cutiefly – the smallest pollinator to have existed. They were not native to Kanto or Johto, though. Because bigger pollinators were less effective, some folks at Silph came up with the idea of creating the bee drones… around 1998, maybe? There was no real incentive to develop more than a handful of those things before they were truly necessary," Grandpa explains. "We were lucky to have the designs ready when we really needed them, and after a year of cooperation with other companies, the models were made cheap enough to produce in bulk all over the world."

        "Yeah, they told us about that in science class a few days ago. The teacher didn't mention anything about natural pollination, though…"

        Mom sighs and quickly fills in the blanks for me.

        "The pollinators that I know from growing up in Azalea are Butterfree, Beedril and Ledyba. They were much bigger than the flowers, but they could suck out the pollen gently. Zubat and Golbat, on the other hand, would devour the flowers."

        "Interesting. What about Grass-type Pokémon? Wouldn't some of them have wanted to create more flowers?" I make Mom ponder. Grandpa seems rather clueless at this point.

        "Jumpluff is one example. The Pokédex says that it would scatter its cotton spores all over the world," I answer my own question. "But I haven't come across another example."

        "I can give you a different example… Vileplume. Those little buggers would scatter poisonous pollen every time they took a step. They probably didn't mean to cause harm most of the time, but they did anyway! And your Mom should know."

        "Oh? What happened, Mom?"

        She seems to be forcing herself to recall an unpleasant memory.

        "I touched a Vileplume in Ilex Forest, that's all. The pollen was the paralyzing kind, so I couldn't move for a few hours. Luckily, Grandpa Kurt found me and took me home, while all I could do was move my eyes. Let me tell you… That was the last time I touched a Vileplume!"

        "That must have been awful, but they're so cute… This news is really disappointing," I reply. I read about this behavior pattern but wanted to believe that the Pokédex was exaggerating. Now I can't argue with facts anymore. Why, Vileplume?

        "Looks can be deceiving. And well, it doesn't matter now," Grandpa is saddened.

        "Let's change the subject, shall we? How do you feel about going to your club again, Ernie?" Mom asks.

        "Eh? Ah, it's a better experience than regular classes, that's for sure," I say while pretending it's just a computer programming club. Grandpa knows a little better than Mom does because I only told him about the earring incident. Still, he doesn't know that Pokémon are involved and I should keep it that way. I get to have my own secrets.

        "Your teacher… Giselle, I believe? You said that she wanted you to work on a computer game. What is it about?" Grandpa inquires, with Mom nodding. They don't like being left in the dark, but who does? My club activities are absolutely tame compared to whatever they're doing, but it wouldn't be a good idea to tell them that.

        "It's a platformer game about a dream traveler that enters other worlds in order to correct some wrongdoing. I'm writing the script, Alan is in charge of all the programming and Giselle handles the graphics," I lie through my teeth. Obviously, I've had time to think about this.

        "Really? You should have said so earlier; it sounds wonderful," Mom says with a beam on her face. "I can see why you would associate dreams with exploring other worlds."

        "It sounds like a lot of work for just three people. Maybe you'll be done when you graduate in nearly 6 years," Grandpa says skeptically, ignoring Mom's daydreaming.

        "What's the rush?" Mom scolds him. "It's a neat side project that should be fun more than anything else."

        "I just wonder that Giselle has in mind. She's a teacher, yeah?" he asks me directly.

        "Of course. I guess that it's a passion project of hers and she's been looking for the right students for a while. My role is relatively simple." I wish he'd give it a rest, but it's my fault for showing him that earring.

        "I hate to cut the conversation short, but both of you need to get going. I'll drive you to school, Ernie," Mom says. Grandpa gets up reluctantly and says goodbye. I can't help but wonder what he thinks I'm really up to. I don't hold a candle to him when it comes to holding secrets.

        ***

        I'm outside the computer lab again, waiting for Giselle. I wish I had my own set of keys, but no such luck. The gray corridors aren't as empty today as they were a week ago; maybe I was just too fixated on my thoughts to notice anyone around. I'd been worried about that bully and had no idea what to expect from Giselle. Now that I know what the deal is, and I haven't seen him for 8 days, I feel much more relaxed. It doesn't bother me that the other students, who are mostly older, are enjoying themselves with club activities I haven't the faintest of. I don't envy that kind of happiness, but it's still a precious thing. So who am I to judge?

        "Ernie? Why aren't you getting inside?" Alan startles me as he opens the lab door from inside. His dirty blond hair and overbite stand out more than they did a week ago. "You know that Giselle and I have been here for a while, right?"

        "Can't say that I did," I say and get embarrassed. "I hadn't realized how late I was."

        "What is this, the third degree? Get inside, you two," Giselle interferes. "Good morning, Ernie." It's odd to hear her use my nickname, but I don't mind.

        "Good morning. What are you working on?"

        "Animations. Let me tell you, I think we've gone too far with the number of available Pokémon. I'm struggling with the unique animations," she laments while proceeding to the hidden room.

        "There was no choice. PBS fans are greedy and brutal when they don't get their way," Alan explains. Unlike Giselle, he's only been doing this job for a year, but both of them work on the project on a daily basis. The club is just their way to catch up.

        "You created the models a long time ago, right?" I ask her.

        "I created a handful for the first PBS version, but thanks to my friends we covered most of the Pokémon that were native to Kanto. Ever since you know what, I've been gradually completing the work on my own."

        "That's amazing," I say. "I think that I didn't give you guys enough credit last week. You're making a lot of people happy out there." Giselle smiles, while Alan looks unconvinced.

        "But not you, right? You don't care for simulated battles – your cup of tea is history and crying over the past. You don't belong here," he says while avoiding my eyes. Clearly, I touched a nerve last week.

        "You don't get to make that call. I invited him to do exactly what he's doing, and he deserves no less respect than you do," she lectures him.

        "I'm sorry that I've offended you, Alan. For what it's worth, I'd like to try the PBS soon. The double battle feature sounds cool," I say to pacify him. It's the truth.

        "You will? When?" he asks.

        "Maybe today. There is something I need to tell Giselle first."

        "Fine. I'll go ahead and review the daily bug reports," he says and leaves the hidden room, somewhat agitated. He is definitely a bit impatient.

        "What's up, kiddo?" Giselle asks. "Last we met you didn't seem to find the bulletin board too interesting. Any change?"

        "Yeah. A few days ago I found a thread on some weird rumor regarding the Celadon sewers. People were chatting about a colony of Grimer living there!"

        "What? That can't be right. They may be weird, but Grimer and Muk died along with all the other species."

        "No doubt. But Grimer were originally born when sludge in a dirty stream was exposed to the moon's X-rays. Couldn't that happen again?" I make Giselle pause.

        "I wouldn't know. Show me that thread and I'll whip out my BS detector."

        Fair enough. I approach one of the computers, enter my details and look for the "Grimer still out there?" thread. Giselle is looking intently at the screen.

        Celadon Gambler: Grimer. I saw at least three of them when I looked for my daughter's doll in the sewers.

        Drill Pecker: Sure you did, old man. Take your pills.

        Celadon Gambler: They were so peaceful. They only wanted to be left alone, so I gave up on the doll.

        Murkrow's Wrath: Are you for real? Only a sick man would joke about something like this. Die.

        Celestic Mage: If you wanted to leave them alone, you wouldn't be telling other people about them! For shame!

        There are more posts, but none give the original poster the benefit of the doubt. Giselle looks annoyed.

        "It's a rumor with nothing to back it up, I know," I say before she does.

        "I think you've given it more thought than anyone else has," she replies.

        "At the very least, it's made me think of species with unusual origins. In Kanto alone, you have the three fossil families, Grimer, Voltorb and Poyrgon. Could they be revived?" I ask, only to make Giselle's upper lip quiver.

        "You don't know, do you?" She leaves me perplexed. "Obviously, scientists are way ahead of you. Even before you were born, scientists in Pewter Museum tried to resurrect an Aerodactyl. The process had been done several times before, but this was the first time they'd tried it after the wipeout. They failed." The grave meaning of her words takes some time to register.

        "What do you mean? They couldn't revive the fossil?"

        "They could, but the newborn Aerodactyl died after an hour. They've never tried to reproduce the results since."

        I need to think about this. All this time I thought that the plague had worn out after a while, even if it left no survivors. But this is worse! It might be something bigger.

        "Basically, there can be no new life for Pokémon even after all this time?" I ask weakly.

        "That's what scientists believe, kid. So stories about Grimer coming to life again are considered ridiculous. That's the harsh truth." She eyes me closely, looking worried. "I had no idea what I was getting you into. People on the Internet can be bastards, completely uncaring about the impact of their words. I didn't want to expose you to wacky theories."

        "Then what did you want?" I ask honestly.

        "There's a void inside you. I could tell the minute I heard you talk with Mrs. Leroy that you were more like me than kids your age. You remind me of myself 19 years ago, and I was older than you then." Her lip quivers again. "When I lost my Pokémon, the world seemed to have rejected me. I was upset, confused and eventually just bored. But life carried on. It had to."

        "My family had to move on, too," I explain hesitantly. "My great grandfather had died of a broken heart, as my mom puts it. Every now and then, she cries looking at photos of her life in Azalea with her grandpa and Slowpoke. She never had the chance to become a trainer."

        "That's tough. I wonder if maybe she imprinted her unfulfilled dreams onto you. Is that why you feel that you don't quite belong?"

        "I guess. It doesn't help that Mom is doing her own thing these days in Silph Co. along with her dad. They have something to do which keeps them going, and I think it involves Pokémon."

        "Why do you think that? Silph is alive and well by providing technological alternatives to Pokémon. They've been busy since the beginning."

        "I know that!" I exclaim too eagerly, to make a point that she's looking down on me a little too much. "But Mom wouldn't tell me what she's working on, and that is so unlike her. Until recently, she'd only been working at home and had nothing to do with Silph."

        "Calm down, kid. You should lighten up a bit," she says with a sigh. "I think you've played detective enough this week, so why don't you play with Alan as you promised?"

        "Okay. Sorry for raising my voice, but you've given me a lot to think about and it's a bit.."

        "Overwhelming? I know what you mean, kid," she says and pets my head. "Just take your mind off of it… for a bit. I know better than to think you're going to let it go."

        I laugh. How come she understands me so well after barely a week?

        "Okay. I'll go use the PBS for the first time. I'm sure that your work will blow me away." She smiles and so I leave the hidden room and wave to Alan, who is deep in thought. I don't think he's a heard word of the conversation, which is a good thing.

        "Come check this out," he says. "I'm watching two of my beta testers duke it out."

        I look at the big computer screen, where the scenery is an ancient-looking colosseum. On the arena are four creatures participating in a double battle: Vaporeon and Heracross, versus Houndoom and… Vileplume! A funny coincidence.

        "Which side is going to win?" he asks me.

        "Well, based on types alone, Vileplume is the only one not at a disadvantage. It should be able to take Vaporeon down and keep Houndoom prepared for Heracross."

        "Aren't you forgetting something? The game changes entirely depending on the speed of the combatants. Vileplume is the slowest and least likely to dodge moves." As he says this, Houndoom summons harsh sunlight.

        "Well, I have no idea how those aspects even work here, but you shouldn't underestimate Vileplume," I smirk. It almost feels as if we are the ones battling; I'm rooting for Team Vileplume despite what Mom told me today. Sure enough, the moving flower basks in the sunlight and manages to bounce and rotate around its center, throwing off its virtual foes. It then unleashes a solar beam right toward poor Vaporeon, who doesn't seem to enjoy the heat. Meanwhile, Heracross is dodging Houndoom's flamethrower, but isn't fast enough to land one of its punches on the fiery canine. Vaporeon survives one solar beam and aims a hydro pump at Houndoom, who holds on only to fall to Heracross.

        "Brutal ambush. You had the right idea, but it barely made a difference," Alan laughs.

        "So? Vileplume is still a speed demon on the loose." It quickly takes its revenge on Vaporeon, leaving Heracross without an obvious strategy. The herculean beetle attempts to slow Vileplume down with its massive horn, but the petals are too sturdy and the naughty flower is practically running in circles. Once it sends Heracross to sleep, a few sludge bombs finish the job.

        "It's over. I told you that Vileplume would win, so pay up," I say calmly. We both laugh when we stop pretending to take any of this seriously.

        "Lucky guess, newbie. Now help me find the bug because that Vileplume shouldn't be going that fast even under the sun."

        "Yeah, I guess so. I'm sure that it would have won, anyway."

        If Pokémon had been data to begin with, fixing them would have been easy. But they died for unknown reasons, and there is no proof that they can be brought back. Still, what can I do to find out what Mom and Grandpa are onto?
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          #29    
        Old January 6th, 2018 (10:32 PM).
        Bay's Avatar
        Bay Bay is offline
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        I too think cutiefly drones are cute haha. And also like everyone else, oh dear over the baby Aerodactyl and Grimer/Muk mentions. During Giselle and Ernest's conversation, I feel there are occasions you can put describe the reactions through body language.

        Quote:
        "There's a void inside you. I could tell the minute I heard you talk with Mrs. Leroy that you were more like me than kids your age. You remind me of myself 19 years ago, and I was older than you then. When I lost my Pokémon, the world seemed to have rejected me. I was upset, confused and eventually just bored. But life carried on. It had to."

        "My family had to move on, too. My great grandfather had died of a broken heart, as my mom puts it. Every now and then, she cries looking at photos of her life in Azalea with her grandpa and Slowpoke. She never had the chance to become a trainer."

        "That's tough. I wonder if maybe she imprinted her unfulfilled dreams onto you. Is that why you feel that you don't quite belong?"

        "I guess. It doesn't help that Mom is doing her own thing these days in Silph Co. along with her dad. They have something to do which keeps them going, and I think it involves Pokémon."

        "Why do you think that? Silph is alive and well by providing technological alternatives to Pokémon. They've been busy since the beginning."
        For instance, I think you can have Ernest bit his lip/being hesitant before mentioning his family having to move on, and him sighing while he talks about his family's work in Silph Co. Maybe have Giselle react too when she asked Ernest why he thinks that.
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          #30    
        Old January 7th, 2018 (1:27 AM).
        Unown Seer's Avatar
        Unown Seer Unown Seer is offline
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          That's true. I am not very observant when it comes to body language, but I can make it work.
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            #31    
          Old January 27th, 2018 (2:30 PM).
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          Astinus Astinus is offline
             
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            Interesting about that baby Aerodactyl. It being killed that quickly after being born shows that whatever killed Pokemon is still about, even twenty years later.

            I liked the conversation Ernest had with Grandpa and his mother about Vileplume. It showed who they are as characters, and gave Ernest's mother some more background. And I like that it was tied to the end of the chapter, since it gave Ernest something to be excited about with the PBS. Especially after the disappointing find on the BBS, with the crazy Grimer rumor. Nice job writing that and catching the negative side of forums.
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            "Now the trumpet summons us again--
            not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need--
            not as a call to battle, though embattled we are--
            but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out."
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