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Pokémon [2016 A&D Collab] Hubris Island

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Old December 7th, 2016 (6:54 PM). Edited December 8th, 2016 by icomeanon6.
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icomeanon6 icomeanon6 is online now
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    [This is a story I wrote for the "PokéCommunity Big Bang 2016 [Collaboration between FF&W and A&D]", which is basically one of us FF&Wers writes a story and one of the A&Ders makes some art for it. The artist here is sp00kyskeleton, who joined the forum only days before the deadline and really stepped up and delivered. Keep an eye out for her work!

    You may recognize the two main characters here from this other short story I wrote for the Small Writing Contest this summer, only this time they're still kids.

    The prompt for the event was "An Island Adventure." Enjoy!]

    Hubris Island

    Illustration by sp00kyskeleton


    Katie had hoped she wouldn't be fifteen years old yet, but as of three weeks ago she was. She had also hoped that she'd be able to enjoy this excursion to the Whirl Islands without worrying about her age, but there was little chance of that now. She tried to distract herself with the wide, cloudless sky and the salt breeze coming off the water, but it was no good. Then their little sailboat hit a small wave that sent some thick spray into her face, and she spat over the side.

    "Hey Derek," said Jen, "What's with all the turbulence? I thought you were supposed to be good at this."

    "Keep it up and the ride isn't going to be free anymore."

    Jen just laughed. She tended to give her big brother a hard time, and Katie thought it was to his credit that he let her get away with it as much as he did. At the moment Derek was leaning off the edge of the boat to balance the sail. Katie was pretty sure he was nineteen, and today she saw a whole new side of him: specifically that he looked pretty good in an undershirt that was a size too small for him. It drew the eyes away from his face, which always bore a dull expression that was somewhere in the range between vacant and irked.

    "Don't worry, Katie," he said, which snapped her attention back to his painfully boring face. "Jen's paying for your ticket, too. By the way—"

    Then he paused. Katie had noticed that when most people might go 'uhh…' or 'so, like…' Derek just said nothing and took on a thousand-mile stare before he found whatever it was he wanted to say. Finally he continued. "You're almost done, right?"

    Jen answered for her. "Yeah. She got accepted to Nerd School, Goldenrod Campus."

    Katie sighed. "Nobody keeps journeying forever."

    "We'll see about that."

    Katie could believe that Jen intended to stay on her Pokémon journey indefinitely, if only because she was still thirteen and nobody had confronted her about her future yet. One day of course she'd have to move on, whether that meant going to school like Katie or starting a career like her brother, whatever it was he did for a living. Katie had asked him once and hadn't gotten a clear answer.

    "The real question," said the aforementioned brother, "is who we're going to find to babysit you next."

    Jen stuck her tongue out at him as she took off her glasses to wipe away some of the spray. Then the boat hit another wave and she had to juggle to keep from dropping them.

    "Isn't that your fifth pair in three years?" asked Derek.

    "As if. I haven't lost any since we went to Cinnabar, and that was a year and a half ago."

    "I remember that," said Katie. "You tried to find them in some volcanic mud, and then I had to pull you out of the mud."

    "Hey! That was a secret!"

    Jen pouted, but Katie could tell she was still having fun. After spending over three years in close proximity it was never a mystery to her when Jen was actually upset. And sure enough, moments later Jen was staring at the sea and practically jumping out of her skin in excitement. "Wow! It's a Mantine!"

    "Don't rock the boat!"

    Katie leaned forward to see the Mantine and was careful not to agitate Derek any further. She had never seen one in person, but its huge fins that were stretched out like a kite were unmistakable. It swam alongside them for a few seconds before it dove under water and out of sight.

    "I'm so catching one of those today," said Jen. "It'll be a great chance to use my new Ampharos, too."

    "Wrong," said Katie and Derek together.


    "You tell her, Katie. I'm trying to concentrate."

    Jen looked at Katie like there was no way she'd be able to explain why using an electric type was a poor decision in this case. So Katie leaned back again and began to deliver the lesson. "When it comes to matchups against electric-types, Mantine's more similar to Gyarados than to other water Pokémon. Those fins act like wings and let Mantine fly several feet above the water when it gains enough speed. So electric moves don't just take advantage of conductivity, they also lock up its 'wings.' A fully-evolved electric-type will just knock it out in one hit, which is great unless you're trying to catch it."

    Jen stared at her older companion in amazement. Katie wasn't finished, however. "On top of that, I've seen your new Ampharos, and the guy who traded her to you was a terrible disciplinarian. If you try telling her to use an electric attack around the ocean or really anywhere that's wet she's going to send electricity everywhere and then I'll have to take you to the hospital."

    Now Jen was turning a little red, but she tried to play it off. "Yeah, good point. That'll make it tough, though. Other than Ampharos all I've got is fire-types and a Staryu for Surf. I guess Summer's strong enough that it doesn't matter, but hmm…"

    "Duck," said Derek.

    Katie and Jen both ducked as Derek adjusted their course and let the sail's boom swing over their heads. "About that Staryu," he said, "You're drawing attention to the fact that you really didn't need my help to make your way out here."

    "Why wouldn't we want your help when boats are fun and you're so nice?" asked Jen.

    "Correction: boats are fun when you don't have to pilot them and worry about how to get around rocks and whirlpools. I'm here for work."

    "What's a boat ride got to do with your so-called 'work?'"

    "You don't need to know that."

    While the siblings went back and forth, Katie looked to the horizon and zoned out. Mantines may have been captivating enough for Jen, but not for Katie. After five years she had seen so many Pokémon, and she was running out of time to see any that were truly special. The truth was that Jen was the only one who was here for fun. Katie wanted to find a Pokémon that nobody had seen for generations, and which was rumored to reside nearby. She wanted to fill one of the obvious gaps in the Pokédex before she had to leave the world of nature and Pokémon for who knew how long. She wanted to see Lugia just one time.


    Illustration by sp00kyskeleton


    Katie, Jen, and Jen's Arcanine 'Summer' were standing on a shallow beach that belonged to a small, rocky island. It was almost noon, and Katie could just see Derek's sailboat receding into the distance. She still wondered where exactly he was going and what he was going to do there, but she wasn't going to lose sleep over it.

    Jen stretched, smiled, and soaked in the sun before asking Katie, "You're sure you want to split up?"

    Katie nodded. "I don't want to get in the way of your fun."

    "Fine, as long as you're still having fun yourself."

    Katie didn't want to say outright that she only cared about finding Lugia and not whether it was a good time. "Hmm."

    "Cause you know you've got, like, a one in a million chance of seeing Lugia—if there's a Lugia. And I'd say that's fifty-fifty so we'll call it one in two million."

    Katie rolled her eyes and tried to signal with her posture that she was about to walk off. "Don't make Summer go too deep in the water."

    "Jeeze, I know that much. Don't I, Summer?"

    Summer barked in an expression of total confidence. Katie wished she could share the sentiment and started to stroll down the beach. "Let's meet back here before sunset."

    "'Kay! Gimme a shout if you find him!"

    Katie kept walking until she could no longer hear the splashing and the barking. She shook her head. How was she ever going to leave Jen to continue her journey by herself if she was worried about leaving her alone for one afternoon? It seemed like every day she had to stop her from doing something stupid, and every week she had to fix the mess from some stupid thing she ended up doing anyway. Jen was such an impulsive little kid.

    Of course, all this reminded Katie of the only thought worse than that of leaving Jen unsupervised: in a few weeks she wouldn't have Jen around to remind her to smile now and then. So she shook her head again and thought about how she might track down this legendary Pokémon.

    On the other side of the island there was a cave which connected underground to several other islands, according to Katie's prior research. If Lugia was down there, it would take Katie way too long to find it. She needed to find a less obvious but more precise lead than that, and she was thinking it had to do with the sky and the sea. With that in mind, she decided to leave the beach and start climbing. There was no way she could reach the peak of the island's steep mountain, but there were conspicuous outcroppings that could give her a decent view.

    It was easy going at first as the base of the mountain consisted mostly of smooth boulders that rose only gradually. Katie wondered if the tide sometimes reached this far up. Past the boulders the rise in elevation became much sharper and she had to put a hand on the mountainside to navigate the narrow way that wasn't quite a trail. She decided she was right to leave her Pokémon in their balls today. Her Kadabra 'Marie' especially hated high places with poor footing.

    When she reached a relatively broad shelf she took a break and looked out to the horizon. The sun was bright overhead, but there were a good number of clouds in the distance near one of the other islands. She could see a few whirlpools between shelves of rock, and nothing was out of the ordinary. It was about as good a day as you could ask for from the Whirl Islands.

    In a bit of absent-mindedness, Katie found herself taking out her Pokédex. She had read everything it had to say about Lugia a thousand times, so she figured a thousand and one times wouldn't hurt. When she pulled up the page, Dexter began to narrate automatically.

    "Lugia is said to be the guardian of—"

    Katie hit the skip button to shut him up so she could read in peace. There was little to read though besides vague conjecture and myth. The one solid fact it cited was that it was a flying-type, and there was disagreement as to whether it also had water-based or psychic qualities. The only image it had was a crude illustration, and Katie thought the hand-like wings depicted therein were probably ancient artistic license.

    Most of the things Katie had ever learned about Lugia were, of course, legend. The key take-away though was that all of these legends focused on or at least made reference to the weather. It was possible that the alleged sightings in the Whirl Islands were mere rumors that seemed plausible because of the area's unpredictable winds and currents, but at the same time any other place in Johto would have seemed like even more of a stretch. If Lugia was anywhere to be found, it was here.

    With that in mind, Katie decided she would spend at least an hour watching the air and water for anything unnatural. If she was lucky she might catch Lugia on the move, and it seemed like a better bet than stumbling in the dark caves to find it sleeping. In this sense, it was a shame that the weather was so nice. So for some time Katie fixed her eyes on distant clouds and whirlpools. There was absolutely nothing out of the ordinary, though.

    Then after thirty-odd minutes had passed, something caught Katie in the corner of her eye. They were mostly hidden by the mountain behind her, but there were some new, tall clouds that weren't so far away from the island. It took her a while to figure out what was off about them, but she noticed that they seemed to be rolling more vertically than horizontally. She felt a small burst of optimism and knew she had to get a better view. There was a terribly thin path leading away from the shelf and further up the mountain in that direction, so she took it. Around a bend she came across an even shallower shelf than the first one, but one that provided a perfect view of these new clouds.

    Katie sat down with her back to the wall and her legs dangling over the edge to observe the anomaly. She had never seen a cloud formation like it. It was almost as if she were looking at clouds from above; as if someone had turned them ninety degrees vertically. The shadows didn't make any sense either. They seemed to move independently of any clouds or anything else. It all spun much like the whirlpools that were all around the sea, only much slower. The sight of it all had her mesmerized.

    She thought about taking out her notebook to make a sketch, but she wasn't comfortable with managing her bag in this position. Instead she continued to look at the clouds with a measure of optimism that Lugia or something like a Lugia might have something to do with this. Then she thought about taking out her notebook to make a sketch, but stopped when she realized she'd just thought about that, which was weird. She was probably thinking in weird ways because of how the horizon would spin along with the clouds until she realized that was impossible and blinked, only for it to start again every time. On top of that, it was tiring the way the shades of gray shifted and spun and made her vision slip out of focus.

    All of this made Katie decide she could probably continue to monitor the peculiarities with her eyes closed.


    Illustration by sp00kyskeleton


    Katie didn't want to be asleep anymore. It may have been dark enough, but it was terribly loud and oddly wet. A small part of her that she never made known to anyone was worried that she'd wet the bed, but that hadn't happened in a number of years, the exact number of which was absolutely nobody's business. Besides, the wetness was all over, and it was cold rather than warm. While her mind was still hazy this provided a small amount of comfort, but this vanished as soon as she opened her eyes. Then she screamed at the top of her lungs.

    It felt like a typhoon. The sun was gone, the rain was coming down in sheets, the wind was blowing in her face at what felt like twenty miles an hour, and she was still sitting in the same spot and holding on for dear life.

    She tried not to panic. She tried not to freak out about how the beach was now completely covered by the tide, and how the path she took here was difficult enough when dry so climbing it now would be suicide, and how even if she could take out one of her Pokémon they would have nowhere to go, and how if she tried to jump from here she'd die from either the water or the rocks. She was stuck. And even if she weren't stuck she was far too terrified to move.

    All she could do was sit there and grip the edge beneath her with white knuckles. Some amount of time between five minutes and five hours passed when she thought she heard something besides the wind and the hammering raindrops. It was her name. She brought herself to look down, and she could just spot Jen riding on a Pokémon beneath her.


    Katie couldn't believe what she was hearing. How on earth was she supposed to jump? "No!" she yelled back, "You're crazy!"

    Jen kept trying to convince her, but Katie knew that even her survival instinct was smarter than Jen. There was no way she could move now.

    "…old on!...ust…econd!"

    Jen was up to something. Katie saw that she was getting her Pokémon to swim in an oval, gradually picking up speed. The water was getting higher. If Jen was trying to use Surf to raise the tide enough for her to jump in, that was insane. She'd never get the water high enough that it wouldn't still mean Katie's death to jump. Katie closed her eyes and wished it would all just go away. There were some warm drops on her face now among the cold ones, which must have been tears.

    When Katie opened her eyes, something had indeed gone away: Jen. She wasn't in the water anymore. But she wasn't drowning. It was only in the upper right corner of her eye that Katie caught her.

    Jen was kneeling on a Mantine. It had grabbed the wind and was leaning into it to climb fast. It was almost as high as the rock shelf, but its trajectory looked like it would hit the mountain well below and away from Katie. Jen leaned as far as she could in one direction without falling, and shouted something. The Mantine pulled off so it was flying nearly parallel to the cliff face, and it kept on climbing.

    Then Katie was looking slightly up at Jen. She couldn't see her face clearly, but her posture was hard and steady like steel. Her friend pulled slightly at the Mantine's face so that for just a moment it stalled. The Pokémon was nearly hanging still in midair just seven feet away from Katie. Jen wasted no time. She rose to her feet, and then she jumped into space. With a grunt, she somehow managed to hug the wall of the mountain instead of bouncing off it. She immediately found her footing, and now the two of them were on the shelf together.

    Katie looked up at Jen in utter astoundment. Jen's breathing was rough but she didn't seem rattled in the least. She stuck out her hand. "Come on, get up!"

    Katie's right hand felt weak and she didn't want to let go of the rock, but she managed to reach out to Jen's. Jen left nothing to chance and grabbed her forearm. Katie had never been so glad Jen wore fingerless gloves everywhere. Now, all of a sudden, it felt like it might be possible to get out of here. Katie slowly raised one of her legs and tried to keep her balance toward the wall. She had one foot on the shelf.

    It gave way. Katie's foot slipped and everything immediately slowed down as her brain processed the beginning of a freefall. There was nothing beneath her but air.

    Then with a jerk she stopped. Her arm nearly fell out of her socket, but Katie was not falling. Jen was still holding on. Katie was all spun around and her left hand and her feet had nothing, but Jen was somehow handling the whole thing. When Katie finally looked up, she saw Jen on one knee. She had a death grip on the mountain wall with her other hand. Her eyes were closed and her teeth were clenched.

    As Katie's arm began to rise again and the rest of her body with it, only one thing passed through her mind: 'When? When did she get this strong?'

    Her wits returned to her, and Katie found the wall and helped pull herself up the rest of the way. They were both standing on the shelf now. The rain and wind were still belting them without mercy and they were out of breath, but for the moment they were okay.

    Jen turned them around to face the sea, and then she shouted down to the Mantine who had glided back to the water. "Surf! As hard as you can! Surf!"

    Katie watched as the Mantine obeyed. To the naked eye it looked like it was just swimming around, but any experienced trainer could tell that it was powering the stronger waves that were now hitting the mountain, each one starting and ending taller than the last.

    "We need good timing, but it'll work!" yelled Jen over the gale. "Link arms! Here we go!"

    At this point Katie would believe anything Jen told her. They pulled tight with their elbows so they were locked together. When she looked down again, Katie's gut told her there was no way the waves were tall enough to catch them right, but they were committed now.

    "Ready?" Jen didn't wait for an answer. Katie braced herself.

    "One! Two!"

    Jen was interrupted. From twenty feet to their right and ten feet above them there came a crack that blew out Katie's ears and a flash that struck her blind. Something was pinching her from her toes to her chest, and it felt like every hair on her head was standing erect. As her sight came back in a haze, she looked over and saw a small tree sticking out of the mountain that was now on fire. Her heart was in her throat along with her tongue.

    Katie vaguely heard a voice that sounded like counting, and on 'three' her body moved on its own despite herself. She was falling. Someone's arm was in hers though, so it didn't quite register as falling. Then something shocked her feet and she was underwater. The water was moving fast and pulled them forward and away from the mountain. Something shined in front of her face, and for a moment it looked like a pair of glasses floating away, never to be worn again.

    At last, something smooth came up from beneath her. It pushed her and up and over the surface again. It was only now apparent to her that the arm was Jen's, and that the smooth thing beneath them was the Mantine. The storm showed no signs of stopping, but they were riding away from the island.


    It was around midnight when Katie and Jen staggered up to the Cianwood City Pokémon Center. They were soaked to the bone and still speechless after hours of trying to keep balance on Jen's new Mantine, to say nothing of the preceding ordeal. Jen tried to take off her glasses which weren't there, and then just rubbed her eyes and yawned.

    Katie was immediately relieved when they passed through the automatic doors and into the bright, warm building. She was so relieved she almost walked into the man who was trying to leave at the same time.

    "Oh, uh…"

    Katie looked up. It was Derek. Suddenly she woke up a bit and found herself acutely aware that she was wearing a white shirt and that it was drenched. To her dismay it occurred to her that her bra must have been on full display right in front of him. She resisted the urge to look down and check, and instead crossed her arms over her chest as quickly but casually as she could.

    Then she looked more closely at Jen's older brother, and noticed what she had missed in her momentary panic: Derek looked beyond awful. He had a black eye, a swollen cheek, a cut around the corner of his mouth, claw-shaped holes in his shirt, a bandaged hand, more claw-shaped holes near the crotch of his pants that revealed his boxers, and last but not least a missing shoe.

    Katie, Jen, and Derek all stood still for a while. Between all the visible (but obfuscated) underwear, Derek's various injuries, and Jen's conspicuously absent glasses, it seemed inevitable that somebody would lead things off with a question.

    At length, Derek did ask a question: "Anything happen?"

    Jen shook her head. "Uh…no, not really. How about you?"


    Jen waited a beat. "'Kay."


    Derek walked past them and out the door without another word. Likewise, the two girls walked to the front desk without another word so Jen could drop off her Pokémon. Then they stopped by the vending machines to buy some hot chocolate and found two comfortable chairs to collapse in.

    It was fifteen minutes later and no earlier when they finished their drinks, looked each other in the eye, and finally broke out laughing.

    "Hey," said Jen. "I think there's, like, a lesson in here about hub-reese."

    "It's 'hue-briss,'" said Katie, who stared at the floor and rubbed her forehead. Pronunciation aside, she knew Jen was right. For that reason Katie was about to admit that some credit was long overdue, and that much talk about 'babysitting' had to be taken back. But Jen kept talking before she had a chance.

    "That's legendary Pokémon for you. I bet that's how they get their kicks—you know, trying to scare the crap out of anyone who thinks they got what it takes to find them."

    Katie jerked her head up again. She didn't know what to say. Surely that couldn't be Jen's only takeaway from all this. That wasn't right at all. "Yeah," said Katie regardless, "They don't mess around."

    They fell back into silence. It was a silence that was uneasy for Katie, though if it seemed perfectly easy for Jen. Katie knew she had to make it right, even if Jen was letting her off the hook. Rather, especially if Jen was letting her off the hook.

    "I was thinking," said Katie, "After…When I head off to school, you ought to team up with someone younger. Someone you can show the ropes to."

    Jen stared at her wide-eyed, as if the thought had never crossed her mind. "You really think so?"

    Katie did think so. Maybe she thought that Jen would have to slow down and think a little more if that was the road she was going to take, but there was no doubt she'd make the adjustment.

    "Mull it over. I think it'll be a good change of pace for you."

    Jen kept staring for a moment, then sat back, stared at the ceiling, and smiled.

    Katie decided she would leave it at that for now. School was still a few weeks away, and it wasn't like she wanted to start saying goodbye.

    The End

    [Big thanks to sp00kyskeleton for illustrating, and thanks to you for reading!]
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    Old December 7th, 2016 (8:20 PM). Edited December 7th, 2016 by sp00kyskeleton.
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    sp00kyskeleton sp00kyskeleton is offline
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      I hope everyone loves reading this as much as I do! :)
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      Old December 8th, 2016 (6:27 PM).
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      Bay Alexison Bay Alexison is offline
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      I remember Katie and Jen from your last story, so it's great to see them again. I admit to thinking the two will be in the caves, but your take on a trainer trying to find Lugia is interesting here in that you have its appearnce be shown by the change in the weather and not revealing itself. Their teamwork there is great. The ending where everyone got drenched and such was amusing, heh.

      A couple minor stuff I want to point out.

      ...She wanted to fill one of the obvious gaps in the Pokédex before she had to leave the world of nature and Pokémon for who knew how long. She wanted to see Lugia just one time.
      This part from the first scene's ending I feel you could have reveal Katie wanting to find Lugia later to build a bit of suspense. You have Katie and Jen talk about that shortly after, so the "She wanted to see Lugia just one time" would be a better place to reveal that I feel. One other thing is Derek. While I see you have him take the girls to the island, I guess I was hoping he would play more of a role in the story, especially since you set up his "mysterious job" and all.

      Overall though, this was a nice read and glad to read more writing of yours!

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      Old December 8th, 2016 (7:10 PM).
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      icomeanon6 icomeanon6 is online now
      It's "I Come Anon"
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        Originally Posted by Bay Alexison View Post
        One other thing is Derek. While I see you have him take the girls to the island, I guess I was hoping he would play more of a role in the story, especially since you set up his "mysterious job" and all.
        Lol, you're right. I honestly thought about cutting him altogether, but I decided I still wanted the practice writing him for a future thing, so instead I tried to justify keeping him by turning his role into the setup for one joke at the end. I think my stuff's been willingly unfocused lately, so that's something I'll try to address lest I get too lazy and indulgent.
        This part from the first scene's ending I feel you could have reveal Katie wanting to find Lugia later to build a bit of suspense.
        Huh, that hadn't occurred to me but you might have a point. I guess I wasn't comfortable going through the whole first scene without establishing the main plot element, but I'll think about that.
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