At the Bottom of This Chapter:
Explanation of the Purpose of This Fic
Preemptive Notation on Artistic License
Mary-Sue Litmus Test Score
Everyone always said that setting out on the journey would be the greatest experience of any Pokémon Trainer's life. From that first instant of looking into the starter Pokémon's eyes, until the moment when the Pokémon League Champion was forced to conceded defeat and they interred your name forever in their records as a fellow Champion – it would all be worth the trip. It would be the dearest and most treasured part of life. The bonds forged, friendships and rivalries begun, experiences gained: that was the point of setting out at the tender age of sixteen to become a Pokémon Master. At least, that's what people always said.
But no one ever talked about the pain. Blistered feet from hours upon hours, days upon days of walking. Shoulders that ached from the weight of the pack ladened with potions and elixirs. Eyes burning with the sand and grit from Route Four. Sunburn so hot it sizzled from the Skyarrow Bridge, where there had never been any place to seek shade. The ravenous hunger, like the razor fangs of an angry Gyrados, raking at the belly when camped out in the icy winter grasslands of Route Six, without enough money to feed either Trainer or Pokémon. Thorns and poison barbs were always a danger in Pinwheel Forest, painful shocks and even electrocution in Chargestone Cave.
After suffering near-frostbite in Driftveil City, the red-hot-needles feeling of life returning to frozen limbs could never be forgotten. Nearly drowning in the crystal-clear waters of Undella Bay, trapped in the sucking tentacles of an Octillery intent on murder-by-bludgeoning wasn't a memory likely to be forgotten, either. No one talked about the tears, the biting cold of winter in the wilds, the searing heat of high summer, the pangs of homesickness that were nearly as strong as the hunger pains. There was never a mention of the heartache as a Pokémon died in its Trainer's arms.
In point of fact, all anyone ever did talk about was the bright side of the journey to Victory Road: fame and glory, friends made, whimsical romances enjoyed, tourist attractions photographed, battles fought and won. But the path to the Pokémon Championship was impassible, unless a Trainer was willing to wade through blood for the chance to fight the brutal League. There was a reason – a very good one – why Pokémon were often called "pocket monsters." And mastering the monsters demanded something that many were never willing to give. Those that were, were rarely willing to speak of it.
No, those who had gone before never spoke of the pain. There was no hint that loneliness and starvation, fear and bloodshed stood between home and Victory Road. They never warned young Trainers that the road to the Pokémon League was full of danger, pain, and loss. That every turn in the path could mean death for a Trainer... or for a beloved Pokémon.
But Ivory knew of pain, and danger. She knew of death. And at this moment, she and death were locked together in fierce battle. Even if death did not yet know that it was coming for her, it didn't matter. She knew. After two years on the road, battling trainers and gym leaders and wild monsters, coming through scarred and battered, but triumphant and unbowed, Ivory Nox knew what death looked like, smelled like, felt like.
Blood soaked one leg of her cutoff jeans, darkened part of her once-white shirt. There was an acid burn on her left cheek from a Joltik attack. Harsh ventilation from the air conditioning abraded the raw flesh across her cheekbone. She'd lost her vest in one of the brutal battles on the way to the throne room, and her bag with its potions, berries, and healing elixirs. Without her first aid supplies, everyone had been taken down – Draculina, Elvis, Rebakah, even Lilo. She only had two Pokémon left. Just her, the indomitable Shaggy, and the elegantly lethal Galen; three against a madman. A madman who still held a piece of her heart hostage.
"You're out of your mind," Ivory whispered. Every second of looking into his eyes was like a gush of blood from a heart wound. Every moment ticking by left fear oozing icily through her veins. "You're completely crazy."
She clutched the last of her Poké Balls in one hand. Blood and fluid trickled from the blistered burn on her right arm and leg. Only Shaggy's quick shove had saved her from a painful death at the fiery claws of N's vicious Reshiram. The Scrafty had scored his own bad burn as payment for his efforts, though only a first-degree affair. Even now though, pain throbbed from the human girl's seared flesh, and the Pokémon's. The Scrafty shuddered with the searing agony of it that he could feel emanating from his Trainer. Ivory wondered if her wounds actually pulsed in time with those of her injured partner, or if it was only her imagination.
"You still willfully persist in seeing me as the villain, Ivory," the boy she squared off against said with a slow shake of his head. "Why?"
"You want to take Pokémon away from humans."
"That's always been the goal, Ivory." The boy grinned disarmingly. Phantom pain lanced her chest. Another intangible gush of heart's blood. This couldn't be the same boy who'd taken her on the ferris wheel... could it? "We're trying to free Pokémon from bondage, don't you get that?"
Shaggy growled at N, lifting his massive, scaly fists in obvious challenge when the boy took a step toward Ivory. The noxious stench of a sludge bomb waiting to form filled the throne room. N only smiled.
"I must commend you, Scrafty, for wanting to defend your Trainer. But you don't need to stay with her. Join Team Plasma. Be free of her. Be free of all humans."
Her Scrafty, nicknamed Shaggy all those months ago when he'd been a shedding little Scraggy Pokémon intent on kicking butt and being the best Fighting Pokémon in Unova - back when he couldn't even keep his pebble-like skin covering his little tummy - glanced her way with reptilian eyes that only practice had given her the ability to read. He didn't want be free of her. He didn't want to give in. Fire burned in his gaze, urging her to keep fighting.
I know you're hurting, Shaggy's eyes seemed to say. I know it hurts. I know you're tired. But we're strong. We must keep going. We must keep fighting. You know we must.
Pain and hunger made Ivory dizzy. Maybe she ought to give in. N wouldn't abuse her Pokémon, that was certain. Though perhaps his goons would. She'd seen the way they'd beaten the little Munna in the salvage yard nearly to death. But everything hurt... and she still had to fight Ghetsis. She only had two partners left. If she gave into N, they wouldn't have to be hurt. He'd probably even heal her other Pokémon. That possibility pulled at her heart the strongest – if she held out, and the fight took too long, the others would die.
Eyes like the blood of ancient redwood trees suddenly filled her vision. Galen – her very first Pokémon, her elegant and deadly, jewel-like Serperior with his razor-edged vines and loving eyes – trilled inquiringly in her mind. Or maybe it was just wishful thinking. Yet Ivory imagined she could feel one of his vines lightly caress her cheek. Ivory stared into phantom pools of liquid sunset before closing her own eyes, drawing a deep breath to steady her resolve. Galen knew every Pokémon she'd ever captured. He knew them even better than she did. He would know what they wanted her to do.
"Shaggy and Galen don't want to be free of me. We're partners." A bit softer, she added, "We're family. We love each other." Gray eyes snapped open, sparking with fury and determination. She clenched her fists – both to steady her resolve, and to keep from fainting from the pain. There would be no backing down. "We won't give in. We won't give up."
N frowned. Was that sadness in his eyes? For a moment, Ivory thought she saw the glimmer of memory: a Ferris wheel at night, the lights of Nimbasa city lighting up the dark like a thousand stars, and the golden glow caressing their faces as they talked. Then N blinked and the image was gone. Without a word, he summoned Vanilluxe and Carracosta. When he looked at her, it was like looking at a stranger. "Very well, then. The battle continues."
The battle continued? This battle with death. Were the others alright? Were they still holding on? Draculina, her precious Swoobat; Elvis, her gentle but determined Gigalith; Rebakah, her swift and reliable Unfeazant; and Lilo, her hydro-pumped Simipour. They'd fainted. She had to get them to the Pokémon Center before they succumbed to their wounds and... and...
That means, she told herself, clenching her fists tighter, I've got to beat this guy and Ghetsis quick, so we can get to a Center. So we can get help. So suck it up and fight!
"Yeah," she said aloud. There was no hesitation in her voice. No fear. Only the barest quiver in acknowledgment of her wounds. She was pretty sure Shaggy would have smiled at her if he could have, so she smiled at him. "The battle continues. Galen! Come on out! Shaggy! Galen! Attack!"
Explanation of the Purpose of This Fic: My husband told me about a (funny?) fanfic he read once called "Emphasis on Monster." The concept of it really struck me – Pokémon are monsters. They probably eat each other. When wild Pokémon fight, or when evil trainers attack people or wild Pokémon, they probably kill or seriously injure their opponents/victims instead of just making them faint. Traveling around what is basically Japan before urban expansion is difficult, especially when you're, what? Fifteen? At the most. Ash is voiced by a woman, so I don't think he's hit puberty yet. My friend who likes Pokemon says he's like, 10 when he starts in season one.
Pokémon and humans get sick, hungry, cold, tired, injured. Yeah, there are Pokémon Centers, but what if you're not close enough to one? What if, when Squirtle and Onix are fighting, Onix breaks Squirtle's shell (a big deal for a real-world turtle)? What if Pikachu eats a poisonous berry? Or Blue Trainer slips on the mountain path and breaks a leg? Or gets seriously burned by an angry Ponyta? Falls in a hole? Trapped in a blizzard?
So this fic is based off of Pokémon White's game play (minus the random level-up battles and other such boring tedium) as played by a girl, with all those things in mind, as well as the emotional development of a kid on the road, alone, taking care of themselves and their Pokémon for an entire year or more.
Preemptive Notation on Artistic License: Because the world of Pokemon is, by necessity, 2-dimension, we lose out on a lot of sensory information about that world. We lose out on more information due to the fact that the show if for children. For example, what does a Lilligant smell like? Do Servines have eyelashes? If an Onix broke a Squirtle's shell and you can't get the Squirtle to a Pokémon Center, will the Squirtle die? If Arbok bites a human being, will the human die? Can Sawk take off its gi? What does roast Unfeazant taste like? Does Whimsicott make a good pillow? Do Snubble have dog breath?
We don't know the answers to any of these things (well, we might have the answers to a couple, but not all of them). Hence, I am warning you now, there will be some details in this fic that are purely from the author's imagination because I can't find information on these things (like whether Snubble have dog breath). I just want everyone to know. In the Author's Notes at the end of each chapter, I'll tell you what things I made up.
Have a nice day!
Mary-Sue Litmus Test Score: 4. I think I'm safe. =) helps when you're only fleshing out a story written by someone else (in this case, Game Freak). Kind of like my best friend and beta, she's got this great fanfic for W.I.T.C.H. (not on this site, unfortunately), which simply takes the storyline of the show and makes it more grownup. The plot is still mostly the same, but the danger and emotional duress is greater. Kind of like in here.