It's not cliché to start your new project with an author's introduction around here, is it?

Well this one is going to be a slightly different beast than my Stardew Valley piece, so I think it's warranted. I'm not planning on doing something like this very often anyway.

Whereas the Stardew story was mostly just experimenting with publishing a general one-off story, this new Pokémon-themed project is going to be an experiment in serialized chapter-based storytelling. Right now my goal is going to be a chapter a week (uploaded on Mondays), but we'll see how that shakes out once I get past the first few expository chapters I may or may not have already written.

Basically all you need to know is I've been enamored by the idea of a worldwide gathering for the Pokémon World Tournament from Black 2 and White 2 (2012) for some time, so this project is going to be an expression of how the event might look in more of a cinematic/verbose capacity.

Which means you can expect commentators discussing Pokémon battles as though this were a Smash Bros. tournament or EVO. It's a well-worn subject here on based on my cursory research, so why not throw my hat in the ring?

Over time I'll be trying to incorporate characters from all Regions up to Alola, as my desire to write a Pokémon story is somewhat inspired by the upcoming release of Sword and Shield but there is not nearly enough information available as of this publication to justify including any of those games' characters.

At some point I'll get to chapters depicting battles between various Gym Leaders and Region Champions (including at least one of the protagonists from each game), so if there are any match-ups you'd be interested in seeing I'm more than willing to take ideas that can fill up a potentially obscene number of brackets.

So without further adieu, let's jump into some of that world-building, canon-diverging exposition. Hope you enjoy!

"How much longer is this goin' to take, darlin'?" Driftveil City Gym Leader Clay asks with his hands at his hips as he stands behind a figure that was kneeling down with her upper body hidden inside an open wall panel.

Clay's hat and leather chaps pegged him as a fan of old-fashioned Westerns, but engorged his already large-bodied silhouette enough to block out whatever light was left in a dwindling afternoon for the person before him. They were behind the Pokémon World Tournament facility south of Driftveil, a domed structure that stood on a currently quiet and dark island as the woman rummaged around in what seemed to be a mess of wires and circuit breakers.

At least she was up until Clay cut off her light, at which point she sighs and pulls her head free to glare over her shoulder and gesture him aside with a flick of her head.

"Maybe if you'd be willing to suck up your pride and get down on your knees this could go faster. Until then, quit breathing down my neck like a needy Elekid."

The disgruntled woman was none other than Nimbasa City's Gym Leader Elesa, still rocking her jet-black hair with twin ponytails that curled around her on the floor and a matter-of-fact cosmopolitan tone that greatly contrasted with Clay's country drawl. She was wearing a more casual outfit than her usual runway model attire, just jeans and a blue crop top with red trim around her waist and sleeves.

Clay heartily laughs at her comment as he straightens out his posture and steps aside, beating his hat once against his right leg.

"Just as spunky as ever, Elesa. I knew there was a reason I liked havin' you 'round these parts." He puts his hat back on and adjusts it to sit properly. "I think I'll pass on your offer though. Electricity and I don't mix too well, I'm afraid."

"Yeah, that's what I thought." Elesa mutters under her breath before reaching into the panel again. "Why are you in such a hurry anyway? The tournament doesn't start for another week."

"But you never know when some eager region'll show up early lookin' for a tour. Gotta be ready for 'em."

Clay pulls a brown, strapless Xtransceiver out of his pocket and takes a few steps away from the electrician. He starts looking through messages from various officials the world over both regarding the upcoming tournament and his mining operations.

"I suppose…" Elesa grunts as she tugs a particularly tough wire free, and then sighs before continuing. "Though Skyla told me they aren't expecting anyone in Mistralton until the weekend at least. You've got time."

"Well that doesn't account for the ports in Castelia, now does it? Not to mention stop some lone wolf flyin' in on the back of a Pokémon."

"Why not just call Burgh? I'm sure he keeps log of when ships are supposed to dock over there."

"Nah. That boy's too busy with all his artsy-fartsy junk to be involved with all that nautical business." Clay walks back over and puts his communicator away, practically blocking Elesa's light again — much to her chagrin.

"You could still try. I'm sure anything would be better than Charjabugging me all evening," she huffs.

"Would you quit it with the damn puns and just get this done so I won't have to bug you?" Clay crosses his arms and taps his foot on the diamond fractal patterned tile flooring that covered the little island housing the facility.

"Skyla thinks the puns are cute…"

"Well Skyla ain't here, and she sure as hell ain't payin' you to do this job."

"You're not paying me either, Clay!" Elesa pulls her head out again and scowls at him. "I'm doing this out of the kindness of my heart because I happen to enjoy participating in these tournaments."

"Oh… Right." Clay clears his throat and scratches the puffy sideburns on his right cheek. "Still, it's my city's livelihood you're delayin'. So quit yappin' and get zappin'."

He turns and starts to saunter away, arms crossed over his chest.

"Then you an' airhead can go get a room with how much you're talkin' 'bout her," he continues under his breath.

Elesa stands up and whistles, causing the cowboy to stop in his tracks and look back over his shoulder.

"What Skyla and I do or don't do behind closed doors is none of your business, Clay," Elesa says with a bit of red running to her cheeks. She grabs the edge of the open panel and shuts it with a loud clang that echoes over the water.

"Besides I'm already done."

"Well I'll be a Primape's uncle." He shakes his head and turns to face the building as Elesa begins to flip the circuits.

Slowly the island comes to life. First a series of floor lights come on in sequence, drawing eyes across an emerald-green pathway from the tunnel back to Driftveil City and the domed structure. Then a circle of the same buried light fixtures surrounding the dormant fountain at the east side flicker on all at once to illuminate its sapphire-blue base and the golden Pokéball fixture in the center. Soon after that skyward-facing ball starts to spew, mixing the buzz of electricity with the sounds of running water. A number of lampposts and some vending machines turn on next, brightening up still-dark areas including the island's small southern dock.

Then came the dome itself.

After a pair of spotlights turn on to illuminate red and blue banners on either side of the building's entrance, screens on all three sides of the entryway's exterior structure go from pitch black to teal blue. They're all on a default setting, showing a barely visible image of the Unova region's lightning-inspired Pokémon League icon as scan lines travel down each screen. A few strips of neon cyan light fixtures around the upper-edges of the otherwise clinical and angular grey dome light up, followed by the entire roof starting to strobe with navy blue lines that travel outwardly until they hit the edges of the screens they're being displayed on.

Clay takes a few steps back from the building with a wide grin, which elicits a smug smirk out of Elesa as she walks over to also take in the view.

"Magnificent, ain't it?"

"As always. Now all we need are some good battlers to fill the place up."

The cowboy puts his large hand on the slender model's shoulder, causing her to tip slightly toward him.

"Good battlers we've got no shortage of. I think this is going to be a special year for the PWT."