(EDIT 04/06/14: After a barrage of harassment from Critics United, I have attached the first chapter to the bottom of the ruleset.)
This is the sequel to my FireRed Nuzlocke fic, Armageddon. It's better to read that before starting on this, or else miss a lot of characters and backstory.
First off, for anyone who doesn't know, 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. (I'm making two alterations to this rule: one minor and one major. The minor one is the first new Pokémon on each team; I'm not interested in having, say, three Pidgey on a team. 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 XD)
Nickname all Pokémon. (I do this alliteratively.) 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. (I box them. And it is painful.)
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. *cries* That's probably what brings the Pokémon to life so much in your head. As a direct continuation of Armageddon, this is still Saylee's story, still searching for Red and seeking to take out Team Rocket. But there are plenty of new mysteries awaiting Saylee to the west…
Pokémon: 0 Deaths: 0
Grandpa made me write this week's letter to you, so here goes. Not a ton happening here. Koga's been through, he's moved into the Indigo Plateau with a couple disciples of his. Let's hope he can keep the psychos up there under control. Flo and Elric have a litter of four eggs, or so SG says. They won't let anyone but her see them. Kinda wish I could see them, I've never seen a Pokémon egg. Speaking of babies, Toby's coming along. Never mind learning to talk, he won't shut up. He keeps wanting to learn to fight, too. He runs off to fight wild Pokémon all the time. I don't think Carrie and Hernan know what to do with him, really. They train with him every day and he still runs off.
But your mum's already told you about that already. Oh, a ton of the trees in Viridian Forest got levelled by a wildfire. Nobody really knows what caused it. It's sure made getting to Pewter a hell of a lot safer and easier, anyway.
That's it, I guess. Sam says hi. So do your Pokémon. Oh, and Daisy. Can't forget about her, even if I wish I could. People miss you and stuff, so get your ass in gear and find Red and Team Rocket already. What's taking you so long, anyway?
Saylee folded up the letter and started to tuck it at the back of a drawer with the others, before changing her mind and putting it in her bag with Red's letter. She picked up the stiff blue jacket that was draped over her chair and tugged it over her shoulders, wriggling her arms to stop the sleeves of her red shirt from getting twisted. The denim shorts were a little stiff too, but they'd grow softer with time while still being durable. She'd had denim trousers before, just never this new. She was pretty sure she wouldn't be able to bend her knees if they were any longer.
The black wool tights were thick and cosy and apparently absorbed electricity, which was a feature she wished her clothing had had back when she was training Paul.
Stop that, Saylee, she told herself, shaking her head. Don't think about it. You're not Saylee, who's trained and lost many friends. You're Lyra, escaping the barbaric east to your mother's homeland.
Her "mother" was actually only about ten years older than Saylee, but Vera enjoyed getting to lie about her age and then be told she looked young. She was actually from Goldenrod, not New Birch, so she could easily act as a native without being caught out. Saylee didn't have to pretend to be fascinated by how much better-off Johto was.
Seventeen years ago, Kanto had erupted into terrible war. Humanity's mastery of technology had led them to try to subjugate Pokémon entirely, creating pokéballs that robbed them of their wills. The Pokémon fought back, and some humans fought for their rights. It was terrible chaos of everybody fighting everybody, and in the end, the side of subjugation tried to make their own Pokémon, far more powerful than any other. It went terribly, horribly right.
That Pokémon had been a powerful psychic. Only two of the scientists who had created it were still alive, and one was insane beyond all reason. Before leaving Kanto, she'd asked Mr Fuji about the creature he had helped to create.
"We made him— Mew Two, we called him— to be the most powerful psychic ever. Too powerful. He could hear everything. He heard the hate and fear of an entire nation… and he could understand everything. Maybe that was something else he heard; that people and Pokémon couldn't understand each other. That has to be the reason that people and Pokémon can communicate now. Only Mew Two was powerful enough…"
Seventeen years ago, thousands of people had woken up not knowing who they were, where they were, or who the creatures around them were. They didn't know that they had been enemies only hours before, and many still didn't.
Kanto had been shattered. People and Pokémon still fought, but now it was a struggle for survival and resources in a damaged, poisoned land. Johto was different. It was full of traditional communities, some of which had a powerful religious belief against pokéballs. It made them more backwards than Kanto at its technological height, but Johto had never gotten embroiled in the war. Everyone had woken up in the morning in their own beds, in peaceful communities, surrounded by people and Pokémon that they could talk to and figure things out with. Debts and grudges vanished overnight.
A lot of people thought they'd been reborn, given a clean slate. Some of the fanatics argued that the world had been brought into existence then and that diaries and photographs and records from before were just fabrications created by a higher power to deceive and comfort them. Most people thought this was nuts. Others abandoned whatever life they had picked up and started from scratch, defying the "role" they had been given.
Among them was Vera, who decided to travel east. When she saw how damaged Kanto was, she'd decided to throw herself into helping rebuild. Team Rocket had been just that, once, a group of people giving everything into rebuilding Kanto.
"In the beginning, Giovanni cautioned us that we might have to take extreme measures for the good of Kanto," Vera explained once. "But slowly, what was meant by 'the good of Kanto' began to change. A lot of people left. Only fanatics like me stayed. But the torturing of Pokémon on Five Island… it was too much, and your certainty of our wrongness opened my eyes and helped me accept that."
Team Rocket wasn't done, though. For three months, Vera had been teaching Saylee all she knew about the inner workings of Team Rocket. One month ago, under assumed identities, the pair of them decamped to New Bark Town, Johto.
Saylee packed her dreamcatcher into her bag. It was a random assortment of memories; two different coins, one from Daisy and one from Sabrina, dangling on strings tied to a battered spoon. A burnt-tipped feather was twisted into one of the strings. Blessed grave dirt was rubbed into all of the items. It protected her from nightmares and psychic influences, and whenever she woke up in the middle of the night, scared and alone, it soothed her.
She missed her Pokémon, but she knew that they were all right. Kaito and Sheska could continue their play-fights without having seen truly brutal battle. Hernan and Carrie were a happy family with little Tobias and Saylee would never disturb that. And Chaz…
She missed Chaz dearly, her first and dearest companion, almost as keenly as she missed her best friend Blue. Chaz alone she might have brought with her, but Charizard these days were painfully rare. She'd never seen another one. If she wanted to take out Team Rocket without them seeing her coming, she couldn't bring Chaz.
She picked up the hat Vera had given her and pulled it low over her eyes. It was huge and a little silly-looking but it would help disguise her face, which was the important part. She pulled it off again and combed her fingers through her hair. It was getting longer and would be a terrible mess if she didn't tie it down.
She ended up tying it into two low ponytails that drooped over her shoulders. It was a childish style that she'd never, ever worn before. Perfect.
"Here," Vera said, handing something to her as she stepped downstairs into the luxurious living room. At least, it was luxurious compared to the ramshackle hut that her real mother had finally been able to vacate a couple of months before for a small but nice house. Saylee already had a list of Johto products to send back to her. They didn't have electricity coming out of the wall in Pallet, not yet, but Professor Oak had several Pikachu that ran all of his electrical equipment.
Saylee unfolded the device. A screen blinked to life. "It's a pokégear," Vera said. "They're all the go here. It's a phone, but you can add digital maps and things to it as well."
"Sweet," Saylee said, opening the phonebook. Only Vera and Professor Elm's numbers were preprogrammed into it. "I'll keep in touch."
"You'd better," Vera said, giving her a one-armed hug. "Stop and say hi to Professor Elm before you go, sweetie!" she cooed.
"Bye, mummy!" Saylee said, making a face at Vera as she opened the door.
A small blue Pokémon bounced off of her ankles. Saylee looked down to see Marina run past her.
"Hi, Lyra!" the little Marill called. "We're playing tag!"
"You're it!" a little boy hollered, grabbing Saylee's arm. Ethan grinned up at Saylee. "C'mon and play with us, Lyra!"
"Sorry, kid," Saylee said, giving the ten-year-old a playful push. "I've got to make a trip today. You and Marina have fun!"
"Aww…" Ethan slouched off after his Marill. Saylee had gotten used to answering to "Lyra" largely due to Ethan and Marina calling it every ten minutes. Ethan was five years older than the other two children in the tiny village and decided very quickly that Saylee was the only suitable playmate for a "big boy" like him. Vera thought the kid had a precocious crush. Saylee humoured him because he reminded her of Red at that age, always trying to be mature and not always succeeding.
Red. That, of course, was the other reason she had travelled west. The only keyword she had, the only clue to his location, was "silver". But what the hell did that mean?
She had to figure it out soon. Sabrina had said he was dying. For all she knew, he was already…
Saylee was about to knock on the door to Elm's lab when she spotted something odd in the bushes— a flash of bright red.
"Ethan?" she asked, stepping around a Pecha bush, "is that you? Are you sneaking up on me?"
There was a boy in the bushes, but not the one in the red hoodie that Saylee was expecting. The boy was about the same age as Ethan but dressed in dark, scruffy, ill-fitting clothes. He had the tattered, half-starved look of a Kanto child, and such long red hair that Saylee wondered if it wasn't maybe a little girl.
"Hello?" she said, reaching out to the child. "What's your name? Mine's Lyra."
The kid looked up and her and his face was suddenly furious. He slapped her hand aside and pushed her back.
"LIAR!" he yelled, running away. Saylee stared after him in shock, confusion and not a little fear. Was he from Kanto? Did he know…?
Her thoughts were distracted by a loud crash from inside the lab.
Inside of the lab tables were overturned, books had fallen from bookshelves, and Elm's assistant was trying not to laugh as the professor gave panicked chase to three little Pokémon.
"Lyra!" he called plaintively. "HELP!"
None of the three Pokémon were higher than Saylee's knee but they were certainly causing a fuss. The blue bipedal one was laughing and spitting jets of water at the little black-and-cream one, which kept emitting panicked cries. Every time it did, hot cinders shot out of its mouth, panicking the green one with a leaf on its head.
"Water, fire and grass, oh my…" Saylee thought, sighing as she watched the four run around. When the little blue one stopped laughing to charge up a water gun, Saylee reached down and grabbed its long snout, holding its jaws firmly shut. It flailed against her hold for a while, scraping at her with its little claws, but it was too young to do any real damage and eventually stood still in sullen defeat.
"Ta very much," the little black-and-white one gasped. "I'm right sorry, Chet…"
"Don't worry about it, Chip," the green one said magnanimously, patting Chip on the head with his large leaf. "Tyra! That was mean!"
"Mmm mmf mm-mmf," the water-type, Tyra, mumbled sullenly.
"I'll let you go if you promise to behave," Saylee said sternly. "If you don't, I'll tie your jaws together. Okay?"
"Fine," Tyra complained when Saylee let her go. "It was funny," she said to Chet.
"It was mean," Chip mumbled. Saylee walked over and picked up him carefully, avoiding touching the four spots on his back that glowed like coals and radiated heat.
"You'll be safe up here," she promised. "My name's Lyra— it's a lot like yours!" she added, offering Tyra a friendly smile.
"I want a new name," the little water-type muttered, yelping when Chet thwacked her with his leaf.
"Don't be rude," he admonished her. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Lyra! Forgive Tyra's rudeness."
"Yes, well…" Professor Elm sighed in relief. "These little ones are getting too big for the lab. I thought you might want to adopt one of them, Lyra. I know you've never trained a Pokémon before…"
If only you knew… Saylee thought wryly. I couldn't take a Pokémon this young with me against Team Rocket, but we still have no leads, and I do miss having my Pokémon around…"…I'd love to," she said. Chip automatically snuggled into her arms. "I guess you like me, huh, Chip?"
"I do, right enough," Chip admitted shyly. "Can I be comin' to live with you, Lyra?"
"Of course you can," Saylee said with a smile. He and Professor Elm both looked so happy that she couldn't bring herself to turn them down. Besides, she felt happier already with Chip's warmth in her arms, so similar to Chaz when he was little. "I hope you don't mind?" she added to Chet and Tyra.
"Not at all," Chet said, smiling at them. "The Professor tells us that there are two other children in town with no Pokémon friends of their own. I look forward to meeting them."
"Why would I wanna live with you, anyway?" Tyra said in a huff.
"So, that's settled!" Professor Elm said, beginning to pick up some of his books. "My son went to fetch little Kris. They'll be here soon…"
"Professor, I didn't just visit because I heard the ruckus," Saylee said. "I was hoping for directions to Sir… well, Mr. Pokémon's house. I've spoken to him on the phone a couple of times and he's very interesting. I'd like to meet him."
"Interesting is a good word for it," the Professor chuckled. "Hmm. Well, from Cherrygrove…"
"I be knowin' the way!" Chip spoke up, his back spots glowing red with embarrassment when they looked at him. "I mean, I've been there before," he mumbled.
"That's brilliant!" Saylee said warmly, making Chip perk up. "And you can protect me from any big scary wild Pokémon, okay?"
"I think you could be beatin' 'em all up yourself," Chip mumbled.
"There we go," Professor Elm said a while later as he tidied away the last bit of fallen equipment. "Where has my son got to? He and Kris ought to be here by now…"
"They're probably playing somewhere," his assistant laughed. "Maybe they're playing with Ethan… I'll watch these two if you want to go look for them."
"And I'll watch Tyra," Chet offered. Professor Elm laughed and left.
"Suck up," Tyra muttered. "Stick your roots up the back of his labcoat, why don't you…"
"You could stand to be a little more polite," Chet snapped, wandering away to curl up and photosynthesize in the patch of light under the window. Tyra went the other way in a huff.
She looked up. There was a boy peering through a broken window near the back of the lab. Was it broken in all the mess they made?
"That girl's a liar," the boy whispered. "I'm gonna prove it. Do you want to come with? You look strong, and I need strong Pokémon."
Tyra glanced back across the lab. The assistant was crouching over Chet to check on him, and Chet himself seemed to be asleep.
"I'm the strongest there is," she promised. "Let me grab my pokéball and let's go."
So I'm posting this two months before I said I would! I honestly didn't expect to get this written as fast as I have… but then, I've gotten a lot better at Nuzlocking, and while I haven't finished SoulSilver yet the body count is significantly lower than FireRed, so this is a more lighthearted story overall. I'll be posting weekly until I complete the fic, at which point the post rate will ramp up. Enjoy! :)
Also, would anybody be interested in a formspring for this universe, where you could ask questions of me or the characters? Mention if you are and I'll set one up :)
Name: Chip. Species: Cyndaquil. Nature: Timid. Ability: Blaze. Level: 5