It's been over five years since I last updated this story.
I've kinda let it sit around since its previous update, not really acknowledging it or officially calling it canceled. But I thought about it again today, and I realize that I finally have enough reason to say that I am not going to update this story again.
I know I've replied to several people saying that I intended to finish it, and at the time I did. There's at least one long-term fan who has been waiting for its continuation for a long time in vain. And I definitely have the rest of the story plotted out. But there are still a large number of reasons why I have lost interest in continuing it.
* I've been finding other things to do. The biggest thing that got in the way of my writing was making a larger number of friends and spending more of my free time with them. And the truth is, especially when I started, the easiest way to motivate myself to write fanfic was to know that I had nothing better to do and little self-esteem left to lose by doing it.
* The story's novelty has worn thin since subsequent releases. The Pokéathlon hasn't been brought up again since HeartGold/SoulSilver's release and one very weak portrayal in the anime. The very existence of Mega Mewtwo X has made it no longer surprising to think about Mewtwo undergoing physical training, let alone Pokkén Tournament. And HM slaves have become far less of a thing after the games changed how HMs work, and a good portion of Stappy and Eli's characterization would have stemmed from how they've been reduced to that moveset since Anton stopped battling.
* Anton is a composite based on two people I've known. The problem is that I haven't seen one of them in a decade now, and I've fallen out of contact with the other one for several years. So it's harder to draw inspiration from them now.
* I was feeling less comfortable about the upcoming subject matter. I couldn't get it to work in the way I wanted without feeling guilty about it. A topic on TV Tropes (a site I frequent) discussed a trope that was going to be heavily used in Chapter 12 and how it's a sign of poor writing at this point. Let alone the stuff in later chapters...
But most of all, I came to this decision because... after what happened yesterday, I no longer need to continue the story. Because the story's central premise has just played out in real life.
EVO, the biggest hotbed of fighting game competition in the world at this point, has just given out its first-place honors in 2018 for the game Dragon Ball FighterZ to a player by the handle of SonicFox.
An openly gay furry. Who wore his fursuit to the awards ceremony.
Anton was always intended to be a closeted furry.
To explain this, I have to first acknowledge that Anton is a character in a fictional world, and this world would have a very different definition from ours of what constitutes "furry". Pokémon such as Lucario and Gardevoir and Zoroark and Incineroar would not actually qualify; they are normal evolutions of Pokémon and are considered nothing unusual. It would be like calling a bear or gorilla furry; although there is definitely some overlap, they do not embody the concept.
A fursona in the Pokémon world would be more akin to a Pokémorph, correct? A being that had the physical structure of a human but all the physical characteristics of a Pokémon. It would definitely need to be able to talk and live like a human, but would retain the Pokémon's most prominent abilities that an interested human would potentially envy.
The way I planned it, Anton being caught in the cave-in would have taught him two lessons. First, that as a human, he was completely useless in clearing the rubble that a Pokémon could have easily handled. Second, that a Pokémon capable of clearing the rubble (it was his Furret, after all) was right there, but could not handle the situation herself because no human was present to call her from her Pokéball and give her the order to use Rock Smash.
In that situation, his conclusion was that the problem wouldn't have occurred if it was somehow possible to be both. Strong enough to use the move, and smart enough to choose to use it.
However, much like how anthropomorphic animals do not exist in reality, Pokémorphs do not truly exist in the Pokémon world, and thus this could have been nothing more than a mere fantasy in Anton's mind.
Except that isn't the case.
As Anton came to discover, there is a genuine Pokémorph in the Pokémon world.
His name is Mewtwo.
It would have been revealed in the thirteenth chapter that Anton had kept an entire scrapbook about Mewtwo in his backpack, detailing the original alleged sightings of him, various speculations by various humans, and eventually his public reveal from that time he was "arrested" near the end of Mute, Too. This fic is a sequel to that, it turns out.
...in fact, the existence of that scrapbook was literally the reason why Anton couldn't use his backpack anymore. Because it was sitting right near the top of it, and his mind started shutting down the moment he started thinking about Mewtwo...
So yes, Mewtwo would have literally been Anton's role model from that moment forward. He is, after all, a clone of the powerful psychic Pokémon Mew. Except Mew isn't over six feet tall, doesn't stand on its hind legs, doesn't speak fluently to humans, cannot hold items in its hands (though neither of them really need to), did not prove its ability to do scientific things like perfecting the cloning process and inventing a technically superior (though morally bankrupt) version of Pokéballs, and did not really try to prove its superior intellect over humankind.
That would have been how Anton saw Mewtwo. Not really a human. Not really a Pokémon. Somehow a combination of the two...
...and better in every way than both.
And his example led Anton to do everything he had done since escaping the cave-in.
Not to say that Anton wasn't pragmatic about it. He couldn't genuinely have the features of a Pokémon, but he could try to train himself to be as strong and fast as them. And his Pokémon would never truly be humanlike, but he could try to teach them things and tried to make them smarter and more practical. None of them would be Pokémorphs, but they would try to be as close to them as possible. And they intended to show the superiority of the results by taking part in the Pokéathlon.
But now, a question. Was he right to think that or do that?
Here we hit the other central point of the fic: the fact that I don't know the answer.
This fic's plot was inspired by a true story that happened to me and a friend back around 2010.
He invited me to a public entertainment venue where he was going to meet some other friends of his. He would need some assistance, after all, and we would have fun in the process.
Once we got there, we went to the back and I helped him put on his animal costume.
This had been planned out with the venue's managers in advance, so they were okay with the idea. He walked around the place and interacted with other visitors, and I tried to help him out both as an interpreter and with more mundane things like getting him water and the like. At least one boy was there for a birthday party, and his family asked my friend to help them celebrate, so he did.
The boy came by a few more times to talk to my friend, and as everyone was preparing to leave, he and his family thanked him for making this a truly fun experience for them.
After they left, he told me that getting that kind of positive feedback was enough to make the whole thing worthwhile.
I thought about that for a long time after the evening was over.
He was never actually there to be an impromptu Chuck E. Cheese, even though that was exactly how it played out for him. He was meant to be there to join up with a group meet with a bunch of other fursuiters. Because, after all, he is a furry.
In fact, a gay furry. There is explicit artwork of his character on the Internet.
I'm not sure he would have been received nearly as well if anyone there had known that. Especially back then, when the Internet was far more against the idea of being a furry than nowadays. It probably was for the best that he never went into such detail in public, and simply enjoyed playing his character for the enjoyment of others.
So in the end, I had to ask myself if it even mattered that he had those fetishes.
And the answer, I realized, was yes.
It mattered to him. It inspired him to have that costume in the first place. It mattered to the people he loved. They inspired him to be willing to be open to other people about his interests. It may have mattered to the venue, as they had been informed that there was going to be a group even though almost nobody showed up. Simply put, none of those heartwarming moments would have happened if he was not a gay furry.
I think that's a good enough reason to support what he did, and to not criticize him for his beliefs. As long as they are not intruding on others, at least. Nobody says that everyone else has to share them to truly appreciate him.
After all, I am neither gay nor a furry.
I have my own fetishes, and I admittedly allow them to influence my writing. Sometimes there is overlap. But I do not agree with every belief or interest that he has.
I don't have to. I simply have to acknowledge that he has them.
Which gets back to the other point of the fic.
At least two gay furries have professed their love for me in my lifetime.
Both times, I rejected their advances.
But I told them that they were good friends of mine, and I still liked them, and I would like to continue to spend time with them.
In hindsight, I'm not sure if doing so was cruel. I've seen enough complaints about "friendzoning" on the Internet to know that there was a chance they might have been hurt by it.
But the simple fact is that I was not attracted to them, and that alone should be enough justification to say no.
I do not condemn their lifestyle. But I do not wish to personally be a part of it.
Similarly, as the story continued, and Mewtwo continued to learn about Anton, he would begin to consider the possibility that Anton may have been attracted to him. And he would have seen more evidence that he has been physically close to Stappy and Eli. (This story's Mewtwo, you may recall, has a direct phobia of being touched without his permission.)
These would have been mere implications, incidentally, My story is rated T, after all.
And through all of this, Mewtwo would have come to the conclusion that he did not return his affection. And in the end, he still did not want to be one of Anton's Pokémon.
But he still wanted to help Anton recover from his self-destructive behavior after the first rejection. And he still wanted Anton's dreams to come to fruition.
So he would have laid his case out for Anton directly. He would finish his training, and then their team would go to the Pokéathlon and compete in each of the courses. Once each.
And after that was over, he would leave. And it would be up to Anton to decide what to do next.
And despite some initial frustration, Anton would have had to consider that if he truly respected Mewtwo as much as he claimed to, he would have to accept his autonomy. But he would also argue that, if Mewtwo truly intended to take part in the Pokéathlon, he would have to consider that his opponents were going to make physical contact with him... and whether or not he liked it, he was going to have to accept it. And, as Mewtwo realizes, he would need a solution to the problem that was far less severe than what he did to Stappy the first time they met.
And that would help Mewtwo's mindset for the rest of the training. Anton did have some good points to make, and it was worth learning from him. Even if he didn't agree with all of their implications.
In fact, this understanding would come into play during the climax when Anton collapses during an event. Because it turns out the audience figured out who Mewtwo was, and this directly caused Anton's mental blocks to trigger again.
...but it seems that mental blocks are only effective when they are hiding information that the person genuinely refuses to learn or accept. So in the end, would Anton actually want to know who Mewtwo was?
"More than anything."
And thus, his healing would truly begin.
The story would end with Mewtwo leaving Anton on good terms. Anton would make the decision to retire from the Pokéathlon and instead devote himself to helping other humans and their Pokémon train for such activities using some of the techniques he had developed. Mewtwo would leave him with a parting gift... of literally parting the mountain range to create a footpath leading to the main road so that no one else would have to fly to visit his training area. And at the same time, leaving him wondering if maybe Anton had a point all along...
...inspiring Mewtwo to meet with the owner of the Pokéathlon Dome, and suggest that there might be a market for athletic events designed so that humans and Pokémon can compete together. And the owner considers a trial run for something like this over in Sinnoh...
I think it would have worked well as an ending. Everyone would learn a valuable lesson. Anton's motivation would earn him some results, though not necessarily the results he specifically desired. And Mewtwo would come out of it stronger, but still having the right to hold his own beliefs. Because if he does not wish to live with Anton, he should not have to.
He does not want to be part of Anton's lifestyle. That does not mean Anton shouldn't.
Once again, congratulations to SonicFox on a well-deserved victory. This is a great moment for American fighting game representation, minority representation (though it seems like every American who made the top 8 on Sunday was black anyway), gay representation, furry representation, and even silly fighting games based on anime representation. (I've tried to play DBFZ a few times, but I've just never been able to get into that kind of gameplay. I've had the same problems with the Marvel games.)
And I am willing to say that without actually being a member of any of the groups being represented. Except being an American who sometimes plays fighting games, I guess. I mean, I main Darkrai, and I've had sponsored event players condemn me before, but that's its own story.
As long as he is not actively causing problems in the community (there had to be a better place to hang his medal, I admit), I will support his championship. And I do not have to switch what side I'm on in order to do so.
...okay, that was a terrible joke. Sorry about that.
And with that in mind... I really don't think I have anything else to say about the subject anymore.
Even though it means not writing nine more chapters of a story that was honestly shaping up to be one of my more popular projects.
I apologize for that as well. But I no longer feel like I can do it justice.
I should get back to writing other things when I have the time, anyway. And I haven't found a good reason to give up on Diverse Nightmares yet...