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The Long Walk

Discussion in 'Literature Library' started by Beth Pavell, Sep 8, 2014.

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  1. Beth Pavell

    Beth Pavell Youngster

    Sep 8, 2014
    So, here it is - my ongoing journeyfic! It's possible that you may have seen this posted elsewhere, since I also post on Fanfiction.net and Bulbagarden. Anyway, The Long Walk is a character-driven story intended as a more mature take on the journeyfic without necessarily being dark or violent. Currently it stands at twelve chapters and one spin-off - I'll be posting at a rate of one chapter a week until it's all caught up.

    A couple of points before I get started: First off, the story is broadly anime-verse, but with some inventions and additions of my own. However, the only assumption I've made while writing is that the reader is familiar with Pokémon. Fans of the games and manga won't be left out in the cold!

    Secondly, I do make edits in response to feedback, and from now on I'll be adding a Version History spoiler at the beginning of each chapter with brief notes on changes I've made, for the benefit of anyone interested.

    And finally, I've had a few questions off-forum about world building - at the bottom of some chapters you'll find an Atlas spoiler with a few comments, all of which are entirely supplementary.

    Credit Where Credit's Due
    I believe the term is "beta reader" - I don't like that term much, but my buddy and beta reader `Silver deserves a mention and shares the credit for the finished chapter

    Part One - Growing Out
    I - http://lakevalor.net/forums/topic/4933-the-long-walk/?p=77734 - Chapter One - Choices

    Prelude (Version 1.2)

    I ...

    It was the first thing that Bulbasaur thought, every time he was recalled. I. Me. The thing that is me, that is not another thing. This sort of circular thinking was rather more difficult to frame, outside. Here, it was obvious - something thought, and that thinking thing is me. It was a strange thing; once you know what 'I' means, all other thinking comes easily.

    It was peaceful, here. It was always peaceful here. Within the circles of the Poké Ball, he didn't have a body. The thinking I was all there was, the ineffable sense of me, the me that remained even when nothing else did. Away from the constant sensation of the world, from the experience of having a body, he could rest in a way that just wasn't possible outside the Poké Ball. If he chose to, he could perceive some of what was happening in the world. Sometimes he could hear his trainer, talking to him.

    It was peaceful, here. Within the circles of the Poké Ball, Bulbasaur dreamed his chlorophyll dreams.

    I ...
  2. Beth Pavell

    Beth Pavell Youngster

    Sep 8, 2014
    Version History:
    1.3 : Altered dialogue layout in line with common fanfiction convention

    Part One - Growing Out

    Chapter One - Choices (Version 1.3)

    If I go back, he'll just say that I quit again.

    It was early morning, and the Pokémon Centre was near-deserted. The sky outside was just clouding over, and the few trainers who had stayed the night were heading out west towards Violet City. The Centre nurse loafed aimlessly about the lobby — hers was a small Pokémon Centre, serving the quiet roads east of Route 30.

    A solitary trainer remained, seated heavily on a threadbare pouffe by one of the low lobby tables. A young man in his early twenties, he had a serious expression on his face as he stared unseeingly at the Poké Ball in his hand.

    I can't go back. I was bored out of my mind.

    That thought had been running around his mind since he had left home. He laid down his Poké Ball on the glass top of the table. His reflection stared back at him — an oval face, with calm dark eyes. A head of tightly-curled black hair framed his features, half-hiding his ears. Narrow framed glasses rested on his nose, sightly bent out of shape from long use.

    "What's the matter, young man?" a cheery voice asked.

    "Hmm?" he replied, slightly startled. Nurse Joy stood looking down at him with an air of mild compassion. Preoccupied with his thoughts, he hadn't noticed the nurse's approach. "Oh. Nurse Joy. It's nothing. You needn't worry about me, not with all your Pokémon to attend to."

    "Any other time, and you might be right. But I have no Pokémon resting here right now. Besides, you look like you could use somebody to talk to."

    Joy sat down opposite and laid her cap down on the table. She shuffled around a bit to get comfortable.

    "What's on your mind? Come on, you can trust me!" she added in a sing-song voice.

    "Y'know, I'm sure I can," he replied with a wry smile, "Though you're something of a stranger to me, and me to you."

    "Is that what bothers you? Well, my name is Christine, since all my family are called Joy. I guess I'm not a stranger to you any more, am I?"

    "Alright then, Christine Joy, you win," he said, smiling at the absurdity of her logic, "My name is Josh. I'm from Mulberry Town, if you know it. I've not been travelling for very long, just started out really ... I was never interested in Pokémon. Well, not Pokémon training, anyway. There's not a lot of opportunities in Mulberry Town. I've done a fair few office jobs, temporary work. All administering something very ordinary and irrelevant. Anyway, a few months ago I was filing some stock reports or something and I guess I just snapped. Quit. No more pushing paper around for arrogant middle-managers ..."

    "What was it that changed?" Joy asked.

    "Nothing changed, and that's the point," Josh replied, "It was so terribly ... boring! I just didn't care about what I was doing, and what I was doing was just so boring. I certainly didn't have to think much," he added bitterly.

    Josh picked up his Poké Ball again, weighing it in his hands pensively. "I thought that being a Pokémon trainer would at least be interesting. My dad got Bulbasaur from a Kanto League breeder when I was fifteen. Bulbasaur always seemed to like me most, so he became mine after a while," he trailed off into silence. Bulbasaur's Poké Ball seemed to feel heavier this morning.

    "What do your parents think about your journey?" Joy asked after a while.

    "Dad wouldn't come to see me off. He went to work instead." Josh said quietly. He had waited an extra hour before finally leaving the house, just in case. But Dad had gone to work, just as he'd promised. Because he thought his son was a quitter, that he would be back in Mulberry Town within the week. Josh couldn't bear to go home, to see that stern face looking back at him. Dad wouldn't be angry. Worse, he'd be disappointed, shaking his head in quiet vindication.

    I can't go back. I can't prove my dad right.


    Later that morning, Josh swung his multi-pocketed messenger bag over his shoulder and left the Pokémon Centre. He'd left a little note on the counter to say thank you to Nurse Joy. She didn't need to be compassionate towards passing trainers and he appreciated the effort. She had told him the closest Pokémon Gym was in Violet City if he wanted to challenge the Gym Leader, but he didn't quite feel ready for Violet yet. Josh didn't like cities very much. He liked being close to trees, like the ones that lined the road east of Route 30. They were sprightly beeches and chestnuts, full of pidgey that fluttered onto the path to scratch about in the dirt. As he tramped tirelessly westwards, Josh smiled at the milder March weather. It was a good day for walking, especially with the outfit he'd developed after years of long walks.

    Sturdy brown boots, that was essential. A good pair of boots would last for miles and miles. You could walk all day anywhere without as much as a blister. Sturdy trousers too, black, but that was just his preference. This pair had four nice, big pockets in for carrying bits and pieces like snacks and water. Like many trainers, he carried his only occupied Poké Ball on his belt.

    Tramp, tramp, tramp. Josh thought there was something relaxing about walking. The simple purpose of getting from one place to another, he supposed. The March weather was still a bit chilly, and Josh was glad of his jumper. Black, like his trousers. Or at least, it was supposed to be. Wear had turned it grey, and thinner than it used to be. Over the top of it he wore a dark brown jacket, partly to keep out the wind but also to keep Bulbasaur's own snacks on hand.

    As he walked, Josh thought about Mulberry Town. He wondered how everyone was in his absence. Most of his friends had begun to settle down, moving on to more ordered, settled lives. Quite probably, they were getting on as well as they ever have.

    The sound of shrieking broke his reverie. Up ahead the path veered off to the left, obscured by thickening trees. Muffled sounds of feminine rage were coming from around the bend, getting ever closer. A pack of rattata scrambled around the bend, frantically trying to carry a backpack between them. And for good reason, as Josh saw with surprised fascination that they were being pursued by a girl boiling with fury.

    "Get back here with my bag you thieves! Brigands!" she yelled, accompanied by much fist-shaking. Josh seized a rock and hurled it at the gang, by sheer luck catching one clean in the face. The rattata promptly scattered in all directions like little purple comets. The girl retrieved her backpack with a mixture of triumph and embarrassment, shyly throwing him a grateful look. She was definitely an older girl, probably in her mid-twenties. Josh was struck by her willowy figure and ever—so-slightly clumsy movements as she quickly checked her backpack's contents. She was wearing a burgundy coat with coffee-brown trousers along with a duo of pouches on her belt — all very sensible travel wear that would have faintly impressed Josh were he not distracted by something else entirely.

    "Thanks ... I can't believe those rattata managed to steal my backpack," she said, still acutely embarrassed, "I didn't expect them all to work together like that. Why are you looking at me like that?"

    "Your surname isn't Joy, by any chance, is it?"

    And there it was. For though her dress sense and temper were nothing like the nurses who so diligently ran Pokémon Centres everywhere, this girl looked exactly like a young Joy. The same bright blue eyes, the same shape of the face, almost the same hairstyle. Her expression, however, was now of annoyance.

    "Why, whatever gave you that idea? My eyes? My hair? Perhaps my shapely nose? You didn't need to ask for confirmation!"

    "Faulty assumption," Josh replied before he could stop himself, "For all I know you could be completely unrelated and by sheer chance look like a Joy."

    The young Joy stood and glared at Josh, hands on hips. Then she noticed the Poké Ball at his belt. "Hey, you have a Pokémon! Why didn't you just battle the rattata instead of blindly throwing rocks?"

    "I ... don't know," Josh confessed, "It didn't occur to me to battle with Bulbasaur."

    Joy sighed. "You are at the same time the strangest and most interesting person I've met all week. The least I can do is offer you a little of my supplies. Care to join me for lunch?"


    Ten minutes later, Josh was beginning to notice something else distracting about this strange Joy. He watched with a kind of vague interest as she tore apart a cheese sandwich like she hadn't eaten in days. By contrast, Josh ate very little. Frankly, he wouldn't have even bothered eating lunch had he not been invited to share.

    "You never told me your name. Here. Have some fruit." Joy said between mouthfuls of cheese.

    "It's ok, I don't usually get round to lunch. It's Josh, I'm from Mulberry Town if that means anything."

    "Don't be silly, you should always eat three meals when you're on the road. Mulberry Town, that's not a big place, is it?"

    "Not really, no," he replied, quite impressed that she managed to get such a coherent sentence out while simultaneously finishing what was left of her lunch. "I only know half of your name. What do I call you?"

    "Evelina. Evelina Joy. Tea? This really is good for you, you look like you could do with some antioxidants."

    "I have my own, thanks. So what takes a young Joy away from a Pokémon Centre?"

    Evelina sipped at her tea for a moment and said nothing, giving Josh an intense look as if she intended to nail him to the spot with her eyes alone. Josh just blinked calmly at her in return. "I'm taking the Gym challenge," she said defensively. "It's not that I don't like looking after Pokémon, I just don't want to be in a Pokémon Centre all my life!" Evelina folded her arms defiantly, as if daring Josh to disagree. Josh considered this, wondering what Evelina's mother had to say about this choice.

    "Well, technically I'm taking the Gym challenge too. But it's not something I've been dreaming to do. Bulbasaur and I, we're just going to see where it takes us. So we're on the way to Azalea Town, I think. I heard there was a Gym there, and it's next to the forest. It sounds like as good a place as any to try and earn our first Badge."

    "Uh-huh. So you'll be wanting plenty of practice before challenging the Leader, right? Come on, battle me!" Joy cried, drawing a Poké Ball from her pocket. "One-on-one, no time limit. What do you say?"

    Josh automatically hesitated. Bulbasaur was in good health, that was true, but his only offensive attack was Tackle. He wasn't sure that was enough for a battle. Josh knew a little battle theory, but he had no real practical experience. Blast it, he thought. I'll have to start battling sometime.

    Josh expanded his own Poké Ball in answer. "Go, Bulbasaur," he said, tossing the ball underarm, "Battle's on!"

    "Go Ledyba!" Evelina yelled. The five star Pokémon hovered in front of Bulbasaur, waving its arms aggressively. Bulbasaur growled back at it and thumped the ground with a foot.

    "Ledyba? I thought they didn't like battling away from their swarm?" Josh asked.

    "Not this one! We've been together for a long time now. You'd better believe she's ready for battle! Go, Tackle attack!"

    "Out of the way!" Josh yelled instinctively. Bulbasaur leapt aside as Ledyba buzzed by, throwing up sand in her wake. He charged at Ledyba, trying to tackle her in turn, but Ledyba was too fast and climbed out of the way. "Stand your ground, Bulbasaur! It has to come to you sometime." Josh ordered. Bulbasaur growled up at Ledyba dancing in the air above it.

    "That's what you think. Ledyba, show them your Supersonic!" Ledyba opened her mouth wide, and a piercing ringing noise washed over Bulbasaur. Josh could just hear it too, a discordant squeal that set his teeth on edge. Ok, ok, I can figure this out. Leech Seed will slow it down!

    "Bulbasaur, Leech Seed!" he cried, but Bulbasaur was shaking its head and didn't seem to hear him. "Leech Seed, I said!" he yelled. This time Bulbasaur heard the command and fired a seed from the tip of its bulb into the air. The seed spun away several feet from Ledyba, not even coming close to a clean hit.

    "This is our chance! Finish this with Comet Punch!" Evelina ordered with triumph. Her Pokémon crashed into Bulbasaur with a barrage of punches from all six fists. Dazed from the attacks, Bulbasaur could only retreat and try to turn away from the worst blows. "That's enough, Ledyba. We've won" Joy said. "I don't want to hurt Bulbasaur more than I need to."

    Josh sighed and held up his Poké Ball. As his dazed Pokémon was drawn back into the ball, he gave Ledyba a resentful look. He was sure it was the wings that gave Ledyba the edge to win. Evelina was already industriously packing away her things.

    "You've got a good heart, Josh. I know one when I see it. You did well to battle like that. Just remember to train hard if you want to win." She straightened up and stuck out her hand. Josh took it without a smile but shook with as much grace as he could muster anyway. "Maybe I'll see you again," Evelina said. She looked Josh in the eye. "Don't give up."

    Atlas - Mulberry Town:
    Mulberry Town was an invention of mine before I knew that Mulberry City was an anime-exclusive location in Kanto. *sigh* Anyway, I imagine it as a post-industrial town located somewhere north-west of New Bark Town. It's sort of inspired by many places around here in the Black Country - towns that used to run on industry, but have atrophied as the practical skills left and the factories closed
    Butternut likes this.
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