Pokémon: 3 Deaths: 0

{Monua 14th, 2:41AM}

For all the destruction that had happened a month and half ago, Sootopolis was already looking like a relatively stable city again. A fair number of homes had only needed a quick patch-up for people to live in again, and other homes that had been entirely torn down were well on their way to being completely rebuilt from scratch. There weren't yet enough buildings for the entire population, though. Some people had gone to less damaged cities to stay with friends or family, while others who had nowhere else to go-or simply didn't want to go-were sharing those homes that had already been finished. A sizeable number of people were also camping in public buildings such as school or in the rooms of hospitalized relatives. He hadn't gotten his hands on any pictures of the original damage yet, but even just seeing that handful of construction sites made his heart twinge a little. The occasional stray chunk of leftover debris that obscured the view of stars reflecting in the city's still and quiet waters was still enough for him to realize that things just wouldn't be the same anymore.

The occasional debris wasn't the only thing floating around that night, however. The water quietly rippled around him as he carefully made his way over to shore, sitting on his companion's head. He stood when they reached the edge, hopping onto solid ground. He offered a nod to his partner and slipped off, sliding around walls and trying to stick to the shadows. Even at such a late hour, the night offered more light than he wanted.

He snuck up the steps that led to the largest building of the city, still perched proudly on the island in the center of the crater. It was a familiar sight, despite how little he'd come here in the past. His stomach twisted slightly at the thought that, while Sootopolis could've potentially been called a home before- a home for him, a home that would always leave its doors open for him to walk through- it wouldn't be one he could return to anymore.

Still, he was going to take a risky bet and hope that this home hadn't closed its doors to him. Not yet.

His hand twitched nervously before settling on the pad, allowing it to read the print of his palm. It took all of one second for it to scan, really, but he could still feel the adrenaline rise for that short moment in which he didn't know what to expect.

The pad gave a single, quiet beep, and the door unlocked.

Holding back a sigh of relief- his business here was still far from over, he couldn't be relieved just yet- he carefully pushed through. Glancing around the hall and searching for any sign of movement, any person or Pokémon that could potentially notice his presence, he- very legally, actually- entered the building.

He took a moment to remind himself of the mansion's layout. He'd thought about it before coming here, of course- he'd thought about everything he planned to do while he was here. The League was officially beginning tomorrow, the participants all set to battle against Sidney of the Elite Four. Aside from the Pokémon that would be sleeping in the pool at the back of the mansion, the place should be empty. The mansion's main human resident was probably over in Evergrande, sleeping in a room, getting ready to watch the matches in the morning. Still, he wanted to get this over with quickly, hopefully getting out as easily as he'd gotten in. Careful to keep his steps silent, not turning on any lights, he tried to slip through the building and head for the only room that he could remember the location of.

...Unfortunately, his hopes of going unnoticed were very short-lived.

He was halfway through the hall when the lights sprang to life on their own and he froze in his tracks. Movement detector? No. He felt his face drain a little when, in front of the very room he'd planned to go to, he saw the person he thought would be in Evergrande.

"I'd have expected you to be at the League."

Juan's lips curled up into a half-hearted smirk.

"Sorry to disappoint you, brother." Juan slowly made his way over, closing the gap until he was just out of Archie's reach. The Aqua Leader shifted warily, spacing his legs and bending them just enough that he could jump back is necessary. He didn't dare reach for the Pokéballs on his belt- he had Coby and Magellan on-hand, but he'd left Shanks outside to wait for him and knock out any swimming Pokémon liable to raise an alarm. He didn't know if Juan had any of his own Pokémon with him, much less which ones. Things were going to get more than troublesome if Juan pulled out Kendrick, his big old Kingdra. "I thought that, if you were to break into the mansion-"

"Hey now, it'd have been a break-in if I'd dropped in through the window," Archie snorted dryly. "All I did was come in through the front door after getting my palmprint scanned."

"Yes, I'm sure that doing something the legal way for a change must be something to be proud of," Juan said placidly. Archie bit back a wince. "But I...knew you would come here eventually. I've been waiting for you."

Archie's fingers twitched. Don't unclip anything yet, he reminded himself. "That's nice of you," Archie said. "Any particular reason?"

Juan actually looked hesitant for a moment. "To perform my civic duties as a Gym Leader and arrest you, obviously," he replied.

"Figures." Archie crouched just another notch.

Juan's face fell a little, taking on a similar stance to Archie's and preparing himself for a potential assault. "I'm sorry that things have turned out this way," he said sincerely.

"I know you are," Archie replied quietly. He frowned, his next statement more firm: "But it's not your fault."

Juan blinked and straightened a little, visibly thrown back by the comment. "What?" Archie wasn't above taking advantage of the opening and plowed forward, driving a solid fist into Juan's stomach. The elder brother doubled over with a gasp, which left him open for Archie to deliver a sharp blow to the back of his neck.

Archie slid an arm under Juan's chest and caught the older man just as his legs gave way and his consciousness slipped away.

"Yeesh, you're heavy," Archie grumbled, pulling Juan up so that he could carry his elder brother in a way that wouldn't snap either of their backs. "Who'd have thought you could hide that much muscle under such ugly-assed clothes?"

Archie took a deep breath and hoisted Juan up, dragging him to the bedroom. Archie knew that 'grace' and 'elegance' were important factors for someone that had more of an inclination to contests than battles. Personally, he couldn't see the appeal behind it, and he probably never would, but he knew that contests took a lot more work than one could expect at first glance, and he could honestly appreciate the double effort that someone like Juan put into what he did. It couldn't be easy, trying to keep your movements smooth when you were built like a sailor. It also couldn't be easy twirling across the stage with a leg that'd had its muscle torn and never fully healed. But Juan made it work, and nobody could tell a damn thing. As much as he rolled his eyes at his brother, Archie was impressed. And a little proud. Not that he'd tell.

He pressed his shoulder against the bedroom door and pushed it open, giving Juan one last hoist across the room before dropping the gym leader onto the bed. He lifted Juan's legs up onto the sheets and propped a pillow so the elder brother be somewhat comfortable, at least, while he was out cold. When that was all set and done, Archie immediately went and searched the closet. He picked out a coat that he figured Juan liked a lot but wouldn't be utterly heartbroken to lose, as well as a shirt, pair of pants, and a pair of shoes. Juan was a bit shorter, but due to their thankfully similar builds, Archie would probably still fit into them.

Clothes under one arm, Archie quickly darted over to the nightstand and used his spare hand to start sifting through Juan's drawers. He wasn't sure Juan kept any of his things here, but- aha.

Archie plucked out Juan's ID and his ferry pass. For his plan, he'd need those.

He stiffened when he heard Juan begin to stir. His time here was running out.

He clutched the cards and clothes, holding them tighter against his chest. "Juan...please don't blame yourself for anything. I know you're the kind that would. But...none of this is your fault."

With that, Archie dashed out of the bedroom, ran through the hall, and made a combeeline for his Sharpedo by the water and the submarine where Marc and Kalle were still hiding.



SURPRIIIISE! The "fabulous" Key-chan here, with a special sidefic (and totally not stealing the Author's Note that Mangaluva will be using)! This one follows immediately after (as well as a tiny bit during) Mangaluva's Emerald nuzlocke, Calamity Calls. Reading the previous three fics is fairly necessary for understanding pretty much the entire plot of this one and many of the characters in it. This fic, Deliverance, is going to run directly in parallel with Dimensional Destruction, a Platinum nuzlocke in which the main character is Saylee, now joined by the dual protagonist of Calamity Calls, Key (which, actually, I named 'Key' by accident and was not intended as a self-insert protag at first), as the illustrious pair take off to Sinnoh to follow some leads and kick some ass—but of course, life is never easy on them, and the situation in Sinnoh is already much worse than they expected…

Deliverance is essentially going to recount the events in Dimensional Destruction from a different point of view, this time following the (mis)adventures of Archie, a criminal on the run and hoping that Sinnoh will offer him better chances at doing good than a jail cell in Hoenn would.

Since the Pokémon world has it's own month names, as you probably noticed, here's a reminder:

January - February - March - April - May - June - July - August - September - October - November - December
Honua - Suinua - Arnua - Shanua - Gronua - Kyonua - Reginua - Artinua - Zanua - Monua - Jinua - Darnua
(Thus putting the current events to happen in the equivalent of October)

I've played the German version of the game, in which the character names are different. While most character and place names are in English, some, for various reasons, have been given the German names instead. Sometimes it's because we like the German names better than the English ones, sometimes it's because the German name seems more appropriate for thematic reasons, and in one case it's due to an injoke between ourselves that has mutated into a plot point. Any time character names are German instead of English, I'll put a note in the A/N just to make sure you know who it is. (I think it's fair enough to assume that, this fic being in English, most of the readers will have played the English-language version :P). The most prominent ones that have come up so far are Marc and Kalle—Maxie and Tabitha of Team Magma in the English version. This one was entirely a care of liking the German names much better.

Okay, so as a little standard reminder, the Nuzlocke challenge is aimed at hardcore Pokémon gamers who want a bit more challenge out of their game. There are three basic rules, with various alterations possible.

- Catch only the first Pokémon you meet on each route or territory. If you kill the first Pokémon, too bad. Move on and catch nothing in that area ever again. (Two alterations to this rule, one minor and one major. The minor one is a no dupes clause; this extends along evolutionary lines, so if I catch and lose, say, a Hoothoot, I cannot later catch a Noctowl. The major one is that if I see a shiny, all catching rules go out the window, but then if the shiny is captured in this irregular manner it is to be put in a special PC box and nothing else. If I do catch one, I probably won't bring it up in the fic, I'll just have the joy of owning it.)

- Nickname all Pokémon. (I usually do this alliteratively, to match Mangaluva's naming rule.) This rule famously serves no real gameplay purpose, other than making rule 3 hurt more…

- If a Pokémon faints in battle, it is dead. Box or release it, but never use it again. (In the beginning I used to release them. I never imagined that releasing Wanda the Beautifly would cause me to genuinely cry for three days. Now I box them because I keep forgetting to takes notes about their abilities so now I keep them in case Mangaluva needs the info.)

I don't use the no-items rule. Also, when asked by a friend what happens if you run out of usable Pokémon entirely (IE your team is wiped out and you've no usable boxed Pokémon), I decided that it just means going back to the last save point, rather than starting the whole game over.

So that's the challenge. It's certainly turned out to be more emotional than a usual runthrough of the game, making you much more attached to your Pokémon—which, again, just makes it hurt more when they die. That's probably what brings the Pokémon to life so much in your head. This is still Saylee's story, and still also Key's... but now it's also the story of Archie and Shanks and many, MANY other characters that just don't get enough screentime in any of the fics because they're all protags of their own lives.