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The Sundering (Pokemon)

Discussion in 'Literature Library' started by yugoslavia, Nov 6, 2015.

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  1. yugoslavia

    yugoslavia School Kid

    May 12, 2015
    The Sundering
    Pokémon/Drama/Angst/Slice of Life
    By Yugoslavia


    After failing his entrance exams to Team Galactic, WS79 must reconcile with Commander Mars, his new commanding officer.

    Please direct all questions/comments/complaints to my page or to my email. I love suggestions and comments, even the bad ones. I'll also be updating this daily, feel free to ask me to stop.

    If you see my name and don't recognize it, that probably makes sense. I wrote a headache inducer awhile back called The Learning Curve and maybe one chapter of Deep Space made it here too. After an all summer hiatus, I hope to be posting more regularly around these parts. I'm well aware that promising more updates comes with a lot of skepticism, but I'm pretty backlogged on fanfic, so hopefully the better stuff will start to surface too. If you want to do some editing, just follow that big annoying link up there or my page and I'd be really happy. Seriously, I need some writing help.

    Hopefully a table of contents will follow.

    Chapter 1

    From the entries of Commander Mars:

    Dear Journal

    I'm not a great storyteller. I'm afraid that's what I'm becoming known for in these entries, to whoever may read them. To me, they're archives from a time that has long passed by, long before they're done being written. It's already ancient history.

    This isn't one of those journals. Plenty of these are just my musings, where I need space to think and reflect, ponder the nature of certain questions that haunt me. It's for my reading. These are the entries I spend weeks writing, opening and closing the entry in order to continue writing them as new information churns in my head. Sometimes, these questions don't go away, and they spend weeks circling the shower drain of my head, trying to sink in. They go on for months. Years. The prospect of never finding an answer is somewhat self-destructive in just considering. Sometimes it's all I can do.

    Part of this is that I don't know who'll ever read these. I know I click the submit button weekly and sometimes daily, but I know it's just a courtesy. No one reads these. Not even me. I don't like to reflect. I keep hard copies beside my desk but I never read them. It's more of a memories thing. For someone who doesn't like to reflect on their past, I certainly end up doing it quite a bit in these. I'm just not good at it, and sometimes I think it shows. I don't know, I already said I don't read these.

    Somehow, all of these become stories. Without any certainty or control over it this happens repeatedly. It takes longer for me to get to a point like that than anything else, and it's usually because I'm telling a story.

    I don't have a story for today.

    I just want to talk about one thing today.

    That one thing is Commander Jupiter.

    It's a really short conversation, too. Get ready for a doorstopper of a novel that has nothing to do with it.

    I don't think we can talk about Team Galactic if we don't talk about Commander Jupiter.

    Maybe it's what I said above, that I can't understand Jupiter and I can't live in expectation around her. I've never ever felt comfortable around her. But I don't entirely believe I live in fear of her, or that I don't understand her character. Spending time with her, sharing life with her, it's a slow terrifying expose of something I just don't understand. Just when I think I've seen it all, she throws something new at me. Something new, horrifying, and ignorant of all logic or any understanding I had before. It's jarring. I can't be comfortable around something that always changes, but at the same time I can't always be afraid of it, especially when that something is a leader, or worse, a colleague.

    Jupiter's story is not complicated. Thing is, I don't know it. She's never explained where she came from, why she left, and what made her join. I don't think I'll ever know, even when given an explanation. At this point I simply won't believe it. It's too ridiculous at this point to have something that makes sense.

    She's a brute. A brute in high heels and lipstick. A woman that could make your will bend before your spine. She's a wolf in bitch's clothing. She acts like a woman, looks like a woman, talks like a woman, smells like a woman, and has the will and character of an absolute monster. You would never know it either.

    Something else? She's extremely quiet.

    Not only can you not hear her enter or leave, you can't hear her move through a room. It's scary when you know she's doing it. You can feel it, and all you can do is wait, for the most terrifying moment of your life.

    You know she's thinking of something. It's terrifying. It goes beyond thinking, pondering, dreaming, wondering, or even knowing. Calculating.

    But it's still not the scariest piece of the puzzle. I don't even want to call that a piece of the puzzle. That's just two years of guesswork and forgetting the rest. I could have gained all this insight last week and be explaining the same thing. It's detached from time.

    Darkness is just the absence of light, and fear is just the absence of information. When someone hides in your closet and jumps out at you, whatever you knew about that room is gone and replaced by a spine-twisting spleen choking fear. When they scream, you can't trust the silence around you. Everything you knew was wrong, so how much right can you be about anything from now on?

    This is the Jupiter effect. The span of two years behind me means almost nothing to me when it comes to her, because I've learned that I can't trust her. It's the same reason you can't trust a closed door when you know someone's in it. It's the same reason you can cross a car in a parking lot and not look twice at a figure behind glass. It's the same reason you lock your door at night, the same reason you lock the bathroom door when you're in it, the same reason you look in the backseat of a car when you get in, the same reason you don't go down that street at night, the same reason you don't eat that one food before a long trip, the same reason you look nice just to go to the store.

    It's the same reason you look under your bed for monsters at night: there are enough monsters out there that don't have tentacles but have fingers, toes, the English language, and things you can't tell kids about.

    Just like that, the less you know the more detached you are from the reality that is Team Galactic, the Sinnoh Region, the Pokémon world, and the space between your sheets and the rest of a dark room.

    For reasons I clearly don't have and that being a reason itself, I don't trust Jupiter.

    So, when I'm supposed to trust her with my life, and supposedly trust her life with mine, things get complicated. Celestic Town complicated. And slowly, whether I like it or not, things start to get weird.

    Chapter 2

    I let a lot of things slide with Jupiter. For one thing, I can take a step back any time I like. She doesn't, and that sets her and me apart. For another thing, we're both women (and while she more mature than I, and clearly arguing for the separation of the singular term, this can be disputed) and that puts on a playing field that's certainly not level but certainly more discernible than the one Saturn is on. Jupiter is my supposed contemporary in this. If she decides to go harder, I have to as well. She's clearly stronger than me in a lot of ways. My competing factor is my morals, and I'm the only one who's ever noted that as a strength. For someone like Cyrus who actively says my strength is my emotional willpower, he usually follows that up with how it's also a weakness to be cured of. I've heard there's a middle ground. Jupiter's offering a way and I really don't want to take it. That makes it very hard sometimes to be a Commander, or even Mars.

    I let a lot of things slide with Jupiter. For one thing, I can take a step back any time I like. She doesn't, and that sets her and me apart. For another thing, we're both women (and while she more mature than I, and clearly arguing for the separation of the singular term, this can be disputed) and that puts on a playing field that's certainly not level but certainly more discernible than the one Saturn is on. Jupiter is my supposed contemporary in this. If she decides to go harder, I have to as well. She's clearly stronger than me in a lot of ways. My competing factor is my morals, and I'm the only one who's ever noted that as a strength. For someone like Cyrus who actively says my strength is my emotional willpower, he usually follows that up with how it's also a weakness to be cured of. I've heard there's a middle ground. Jupiter's offering a way and I really don't want to take it. That makes it very hard sometimes to be a Commander, or even Mars.

    It's one thing to be a personal issue. The only thing personal issues should ever be is a flaw, something I take too personally. It should hardly ever be justified. Jupiter makes me justify a lot of things, especially when they're things outside of her. Things committed by myself or reflections of my own actions. When it's the grunts, the things I do become Team Galactic's blessing or burden, one as a whole.

    Of everything I loathe, dislike, distrust, or even would care less for, especially in Team Galactic, it's when my authority is questioned. It's the thing I hold against Jupiter and against the grunts. I never hold it against Saturn, and I certainly can understand when Cyrus has it to question; Charon I can list off a number of reasons to dislike him, and he hardly questions my authority. It's not even an issue I've encountered in the past or cared about. I simply don't care who respects my character, or at least not before Team Galactic. There are plenty of plainly unappealing things about me. To me, it's a issue of career.

    The term 'grunts' comes from the term 'grunt work'. It's not an official term and it's hardly an in-house term. I won't disregard it's worth as a term, because it certainly helps, but it's not something I'm a huge fan of. If this were a real-world situation, I'd compare it to the people beneath a supervisor, and that supervisor would be me. We don't know what else to call them so 'grunt' sticks.

    Grunts are incredibly important to what we do, and I'm not about to admit otherwise. It's grunts who get me through certain tasks I can't do, as opposed to what I won't do, and who pull the job through at the end of the day.

    This is the first place Jupiter and I disagree.

    Jupiter thinks they barely need names, just blue hair and the ability to listen.


    "Good morning," Mars said, offering a cordial smile, brief and lips only. She nodded and turned to face the wall, walking the length of the gym. A Pokéball was clutched in her hand, red shell facing the top and reflecting the massive overhead lights in small passing dots on the surface, button release facing her. The arm holding the Pokéball was just in front of her so she could see, other arm crossed behind her back with a closed empty fist.

    The gym was filled with rows of blue-haired grunts. A bright sheen formed on their freshly cut hair and brought ample lighting to their faces. Bright white light reflected on the new plastic material of their spacesuit-like uniforms. As uniformly as they all tried to look, they itched at their uniforms, shuffling in place briefly to try to relieve the tension or folds in places. Some looked panicked, watching intently. Others stared ahead with more ambiguous reactions. About twenty of them lined in single-file along the length of the gym, all facing forward at Commander Mars.

    Mars' slow walk down the length of the gym stopped at the center, standing on a large glossy print of the Galactic 'G' logo on the floor. She stopped, turning to face all of them. Her head slowly tracked left to right as she gave them each a quick glance. When she finished, she turned and headed to a desk in the opposite lengthwise wall.

    "I'm going to read off your names one at a time," said Mars. "They are your Galactic codifiers. Please listen closely. When you hear your name, please come up here and I will go ahead and distribute your new start information to you, as well as ask for any additional information I still need," she said, looking up from the clipboard she picked up. "That would also be a good time to ask any questions you may have. Understood?"

    Scanning the room as she clicked a ballpoint pen, Mars quickly looked down to the clipboard, muttering an 'alright' to herself. As she cleared her throat, something shifted in the corner of her vision. She looked up, staring briefly at a grunt who had his hand up.

    Pausing briefly, Mars clicked the ballpoint pen again, slowly raising the pen to point at him. "You have a question?" asked Mars carefully.

    The grunt at the far left of the line cleared his throat. "What can we call you, miss?"

    Mars blinked. She took a deep breath through her nostrils, continuing. "My name is Commander Mars, Executive Command of Team Galactic. You may refer to me as Commander," said Mars, nodding gently. "Thank you for asking."

    "Reminding?" the grunt continued.

    A small hush fell on the gym, all eyes either looking at the grunt or looking straight ahead at the wall above Mars.

    "I should have mentioned it earlier, yes," Mars said, offering a small smile. "That aside, I'd like to continue."

    From the entire line of grunts, a small chuckle left all of them.
    Absolute Zero likes this.
  2. yugoslavia

    yugoslavia School Kid

    May 12, 2015
    Chapter 3

    The difference is purely policy. Jupiter is bad cop, I'm good cop. No more, no less.

    I'm not the only one who knows it either. I know it's clear. Why else would I have my office so close to the grunt barracks and Jupiter's so close to Cyrus'? It makes my office look like a cubicle, devoid of almost any training space. Just a desk and PC, and a heap of paperwork.

    I don't think my relationship with the grunts is unbelievably close, but it's something more special than my colleagues. People say I'm just an elevated grunt, and frankly it makes me mad, but it does make sense. I guess I come from a different generation of trainers and people in general. I'm already the youngest.

    Mars pulled a red pen from the metal clip of her clipboard. On the last sentence of the last paragraph, right before the paragraph ended and left the rest of the last page blank, she underlined 'youngest'. The rest of the sentence, 'I'm already the youngest', Mars circled. Beneath the sentence, in the long blank margin below, Mars wrote 'Not enough pages. Expand on this idea,' underlining 'Expand' and then circling the whole thought. She drew an arrow to the last sentence.

    Sighing, Mars stepped away from the wall she was leaning on, walking to her desk on the opposite side of her office. The red pen dropped into a Galactic 'G' labeled mug beside her PC monitor, clattering against the other pens. She undid the metal clip of the clipboard from the stacks of pages, sliding them down gently and letting the metal clip clap against the plastic backing of the clipboard. Mars slid the pages off and set the clipboard on another stack of papers, putting the pen-annotated stack of pages from the clipboard into a stapler and slamming down the red stapler head with a satisfying metal puncture sound. Sifting through the various stacks of paper covering the tiny white desk, Mars leaned over and found a small pile of stapled pages with a sticky note atop them, reading 'Journal Entries'. The stapled pages in her hand slid neatly beneath the topmost one. Mars then removed the 'Journal Entries' sticky note from the top of the page, placing it on the back of her hand. The stack in her hand, labeled Journal Entry #213, with a circled red pen note saying it 'needed some work', slid neatly into the metal clip of her clipboard.

    Just as Mars was stepping away from her desk to read the contents of her clipboard, she looked up, ears alert to something ringing in the office. Looking over her shoulder to the desk, something caught her eye: her COMM wrist computer.

    The white plastic wristband body of the COMM rested upright on it's wide arms. The glass screen atop it was no longer black as it usually was, instead lit with thin white console text, and several square buttons along the bottom margins of the screen. It continued to beep, as a little yellow LED flared atop it.

    Mars picked the COMM up in her hand, bringing it just a few inches from her face, tapping the receiver button with her thumb. "Yes?" she answered quietly.

    "Commander, I have the recruit you requested."

    As Mars slowly returned leaning against the corner of her desk, she quickly found a specific form beneath the stacks of paper. Reading it carefully in the low lamp light of the room, she pulled the COMM back up to her mouth. "Right. Send her in."

    Tapping the 'END' key and dimming the screen, Mars rested the COMM upright on her desk. It promptly rolled onto it's side. As she continued to read the form, Mars reached over to the doorway and tapped the keypad in the archway beside the door awake, lighting the screen and pressing the release key.

    The door whooshed open. Mars looked up from the form she had in her hands. She smiled when she saw the two grunts in the brightly lit halls. Her hand signaled them in as she stepped aside.

    "Thanks a lot Geegee," smiled Mars, eyeing the grunt between herself and Geegee.

    The grunt between Mars and Geegee was much shorter, head half-buried in his own collar. The shoulders on his uniform were too wide and sagged in the sleeves. His blue-dyed hair was freshly cut but slightly unkempt. Beneath his left eye a brown bruise had already formed and taken shape over his cheek, barely visible beneath the tall gray collar.

    "What's his name?" asked Mars.

    Geegee shrugged, pulling out a clipboard from beneath her arms. "Dunno boss, I think he missed that part of orientation."

    Mars groaned. "If he showed up on our reports, he has to have a name. I didn't ask for the scrawny, blue haired grunt, did I?"

    Silent, Geegee buried her eyes in various pages in her clipboard. Her eyes raced beneath red-rimmed glasses.

    The grunt between the two of them stared up at Mars, neither smiling or frowning. Completely expressionless and terrified. Mars in response smiled somewhat awkwardly, but it hardly changed anything.


    "WS79!" Geegee announced triumphantly. "His name is WS79... Wow, that was hard," she chuckled.

    "Thanks Geegee. I'll call you back when we're finished here."

    The smile Geegee wore slowly melted away, replaced by sudden nodding. She tucked her clipboard away, looking at Mars and WS79 and back towards the door, promptly leaving. Soon after she left, the door sealed, leaving the both Mars and WS79 in the dimly lamplit room.

    Chapter 4

    I embrace willingly that I'm good cop. There's nothing wrong with it. It's more wrong to criticize my leadership style, even after that's what I was hired for. My strength is mine alone, it's what makes me human, a woman, a Commander, and most of all Commander Mars. What I do with it is my business, and how I own it.

    What I respect most about Jupiter is that she owns her strength. I could never do what she does, or at least as well as she does. I respect that willingly and openly. This isn't a question of Jupiter's authority when she certainly commands it. Even that still doesn't explain why mine is in question.

    Jupiter and I aren't that far apart. We're the same generation, and even though we are different people raised in different ways, we come from the same home in Sinnoh. We grew up on the same world stage, facing the same generational experience and issues that our age brought us. What we did with it is a matter of who we are as human beings, and that's all something we can trace back as a human 'thing' civilization has done for thousands and thousands of years. It's the only explanation for racism and xenophobia we have; we can't explain the choices people make as easily when we come from the place. I imagine Jupiter's older but not significantly older than me. I know Sinnoh is an incredibly diverse region in ways that most regions can't relate to. We're a diverse people in a diverse landscape. To me, it is something unique to us, and that should change the playing field of our understanding, and Jupiter really should know that. I have too much faith in her to doubt it.

    Even her having no understanding would be a good explanation, but it's just not possible. I can't believe that. I know that what she does isn't predictable, it comes from long meticulous planning and reasons exclusive to her. The thing I love about her most is the thing that can be most damaging.

    "Did she tell you why I named her Geegee?"

    WS79 was silent. He had even shifted his gaze downward to watch his own motionless legs. Every part of his face was now totally buried in his collar, with only the blue of his hair indicating he was present. Even though he was bare inches from the wall, he refused to lean against the wall, frozen in place.

    "I'm about to give you an order I want you to follow, okay?" said Mars quietly. Her head shifted around to see if there was any ways through the collar to his head. Both her hands landed on his shoulders, holding them gently. "Are you there? Listening? WS79?"

    WS79 nodded.

    "Okay, I want you to sit in the chair behind you. I want you to relax a little bit, okay?"

    As WS79 began to shuffle to the side, having eyed the white desk chair from beneath his collar, he felt a sharp tugging on his own shoulders, as Mars' hands gently guided him around to face her. He looked up into Mars' warm comforting smile with wide and confused eyes. He looked down at his legs, feeling Mars' gentle nudge on his shoulders easing him back with short steps to the chair.

    "Just ease into it carefully, alright?"

    Feeling the white cushion lip of the chair press into the back of his knees, WS79 dropped into the chair gently. His arms found the arm rests quickly. The grip on his shoulders relaxed, allowing his shoulders to sink into the plush material of the chair. The stiff upright collar surrounding his face bopped against his nose, trying to relax on his shoulders. He couldn't see through or above it any longer. Instead, he felt a sharp tugging forward on the cone-like collar immediately in front of him. He eyed the zipper. It slid down gently, as the collar parted and Mars' face slid into vision. The collar around him popped down around his shoulders.

    Fresh air filtered through to WS79 nostrils, suddenly free of his fabric prison. He looked down at the collar's zipper, undone down to just below his shoulders as it followed the track to the right. The collar had popped down and conformed to the rest of his shoulders comfortably, the inner ribbed black rubber of the collar exposed to the surface. With the collar and zipper down just enough, WS79 could see the collar of his undershirt poking up to the surface, pulled just low enough to expose the faded red rings around his own neck.

    Mars had finished scooping up the papers on her desk, stacking them into a moderately neat pile and tucking them into a manilla folder. Crouched down to a tall drawer in a small file cabinet beside WS79's legs, she slid it out and stacked the fat folder atop several other similarly stuffed folders.

    "I know it's not necessarily regulation, but it's my office. I have the same thing with my skirt. It's not very fun to sit in, especially when I've got paperwork to review and logs to type up, so I make little exceptions that can't be seen. I treat this office like a bedroom, sometimes literally. I don't know, I think it's just roomy. Don't worry, I won't write you up for something like that. I'll put the order in for a newer, better uniform for you," said Mars.

    WS79 merely sat there, listening intently to Mars' conversation making. He stared down at Mars as she wrestled with her drawers, trying to close the bottom one and then open the topmost drawer. To the side, draped over the keyboard to the asleep PC, he eyed the detached skirt.

    "Do you like M&Ms, some hard candies, or just plain chocolate?" asked Mars, sifting through the various knick-knacks in her drawer. When she met with silence, she looked up WS79. "Oh come on, don't be shy."

    WS79 swallowed. "M&Ms?" he asked at a near whisper.

    "What was that?"

    "M&Ms?" WS79 tried again, slightly louder.

    Mars smiled. "I like that a little better."

    The rattling sound the hundreds of little M&Ms made in the ashtray-sized glass bowl quickly became the only sound in the room. When the little chocolates filled the bowl to a small curve, Mars set the bowl on the edge of the desk closest to WS79, right beside the keyboard and skirt. She pinched up a few red M&Ms and quickly ate them, smiling as she sat up on the now completely clean desk, careful not to knock over her desk lamp.

    "Did Geegee tell you why I named her?" Mars asked again, finishing chewing. She nodded to the bowl and swallowed. "Go ahead, take some."

    WS79 didn't even look at the bowl, looking at the hands in his lap.

    Sighing, Mars pinched up another small handful, then picked the bowl up and set it in WS79's lap.

    "Geegee is my secretary, personal-assistant type. I named her because she works with me alone, and none of the Commanders," said Mars, looking up towards the wall as she thought. "I made it personal, I guess. Sure I didn't want to call her GG22 all the time, but the main reason is I made it clear I cared about her."

    WS79 was silent.

    "It's like, when you meet someone new and important, you want to use their name to make it personal between you and them. It establishes a relationship." Finishing another few M&Ms, Mars looked back at WS79. "Geegee also did worse on her exams than you did. Bet you can imagine where that put her, considering where we put you?"

    Slowly, WS79 lowered his head so that it hung in embarrassment. His stare at Mars sank downwards. He sighed quietly, clutching his bowl of M&Ms to himself, staring at them gently.
  3. yugoslavia

    yugoslavia School Kid

    May 12, 2015
    Chapter 5

    As silence permeated the room, Mas looked down past WS79, at the wall behind him, the wall in front of her, and slowly back to him. Her hands had shifted from resting on her knees to gripping the desk's edge firmly. She bit her lip, holding her words until WS79 had finished his moment.

    "Don't disappear on me," said Mars, offering a gentle smile.

    WS79 was still frozen in silence. In his lap, the bowl still rested, thumb reached over the glass edge into the bowl to sift through M&Ms, not picking any out, just sifting. Glum eyes peered out through his tired brow and directly into the bowl. His bangs sank down over his face, hiding any expression he had.

    "What's wrong?" asked Mars.

    No response.

    "You can tell me, you know. I'm not evil. I want to listen. There's nothing wrong with being afraid, I won't report you, or even say anything about it. Really!"

    Raising his head slightly, WS79 made eye contact with Mars through a veil of blue hair, looking back down to the bowl. The slow sifting movements through the bowl slowly ground to a halt. Eventually he just sat there with the bowl, staring at it, hands cupped around it.

    "Do you even like M&Ms? I mean, that was my last bag, and I don't know when I'll be able to run to the store. It's going to be a pretty busy week I think."

    WS79 promptly put set the bowl on the ledge of the desk, nudging the keyboard and skirt and gently waking the PC. His hands sank back into his lap, fingers lacing together in a tight ball.

    "No no! It wasn't a warning," said Mars quickly, panicking to herself. She picked the bowl back up and offered it to WS79. "Here, hold out your hand-"


    Mars raised an eyebrow, looking slightly taken aback. "N... No?"

    "I... I guess I'm not hungry..."

    "Not...?" Mars froze in place, looking down at the bowl in both outstretched arms. Slowly, she replaced it on the desk, drawing her arms back towards herself as her hands found their previous place gripping the desk where it was still warm. She sighed quietly. "Alright, I guess I should have asked in the first place."

    "I should've spoken up."

    "No! No, you're fine," smiled Mars. "Just because I'm in command doesn't mean I'm going to be right all the time. Jupiter may tell you otherwise, and certainly will, but don't let it get your head, because then it will get to hers. Just, respect authority, okay? It'll make everything easier for everyone. Saturn and I will appreciate it, even if Jupiter won't."

    "But... But I should respect it... It's not right of me, well, otherwise... What would I be... As a grunt?"

    Mars blinked, crossing her arms. "Well... It's in the job title, for sure anyway... Do you think we don't respect you as a... A grunt?"

    WS79 rolled the chair to the side slightly, facing closer to the wall parallel to Mars' desk than the desk itself, staring up slightly at the door. He sighed, preparing his next words.

    "I don't expect it. If I wanted to be here I might be trying to make a career out of it... No... Not that I don't want to be here... I just don't know anything about, well, space..." said WS79 quietly.

    "You don't have to want to be here," said Mars. "I still need you to participate. We're paying you for something after all."

    After a brief pause, WS79 turned his chair to Mars, head raised slightly but back still hunched over. He stared up at Mars, eventually meeting her gaze as it drifted to him uncomfortably.

    "Can I... Can I ask something... Personal?" asked WS79.

    "I... Well," sighed Mars. "Yeah. Of course. But I need you to answer my own questions when I ask you, okay?"

    "C-Commander..." WS79 began quietly. "Do you want to be here?"

    "Depends on the context, I guess. Do I enjoy what I do? Do I wake up all happy and whatnot? Does the thought of Team Galactic put a smile on my face when we do what we do?"

    WS79 swallowed. "A-all of that... Y-yes..."

    "Another thing," Mars said, almost choking on her words, "I mean, just as something I should clear up. We don't do space. Nothing we've ever done has anything to do with space. Our concern is, well, the world around us. We don't like what we see in it, so we try and fix it. It's simple, but it's also incredibly important."

    WS79 nodded.

    "So, to answer your question, yes. I do like being here, a lot actually."

    Pausing again, WS79 cleared his throat and spoke again. "I-I like that..."

    Mars smiled.

    "So... But... How do you... 'Fix', it?"

    "We fund plenty of activities out there and around towns, Sinnoh, and plenty of other regions. A lot of it is supporting the arts and humanities, of it all. Restoration and stuff like that. We did that restoration in the, uh, Ruins of Alph, in, uh, Johto. That was a couple of months ago, I think? I honestly didn't do much for that one. But we do plenty of that. A lot of we 'actually' do is research. It's a science, but it's a couple parts anthropology, and asking hard questions that don't often get answers.

    "And sometimes, when we can't get answers for harder things, we need to examine ourselves. We need to ask ourselves why we can't answer them, and sometimes that's the answer we really needed to hear all along. Not everyone finds the time to look for the answers, even when they want to. They simply can't find the time, or worse, the will. Our job is to provide them. It's the heavy-weight of the job that drags us down like any other one, but it's not a physically or mentally demanding challenge. It's... It's an emotional weight... Almost, I guess, spiritual..."

    "It... It sounds demanding..." breathed WS79, lost in thought.

    "No job in the world like it," said Mars, offering a small smile. "Are you still having a hard time adjusting?"

    The long pause in WS79's words filled the air. He looked up as though he wanted to say something, but could not find the words inside of himself.

    "There's... There's just... S-so much... I don't understand at all..."
  4. yugoslavia

    yugoslavia School Kid

    May 12, 2015
    Chapter 6

    Body slouching, Mars rested on the arms behind her as her hands held the opposite lip of the desk behind her. A dull, thoughtless look encompassed her as she thought to herself quietly. "It took a long time for myself to get used to it all, believe me. It's not easy at all."

    "Maybe... I guess the hard part is... I don't understand any of it... It seems so... Pointless... So contrived... I don't think it has any meaning..."

    "Want in on a little secret?" asked Mars. "That's the point. The point is that there is no point."

    WS79 blinked. "W-wh...?"

    "Before, well, any of this, a long time ago, Pre-Prewar, there was a guy who was equally as upset as anybody here. He wanted change, but change that everyone could have. It was a time when Pokémon and people weren't so close, and there was still a lot of animosity there. Not a lot of people think about how long it took before people figured it out and embraced Pokémon training almost everywhere. Hundreds, thousands of years passed where people didn't know what humans were supposed to be. They lived in fear of, well, everything. It wasn't that long ago either... I mean, the Prewar is the longest period of anything in human history, even Pokémon history. Humans spent generations trying to figure it out, constructing massive empires and civilizations, searching the planet for answers, creating large bodies of work to singular questions, fighting to communicate and fighting to listen, fighting wars and leaving scars that never heal. Unhappiness was the rule, and no one knew why. People needed hope, so he invented a solution.

    "The man wrote of something called the 'Ego-Death'. He recognized that all the things people created worked against itself, and in that people where their own worst enemies. It's a horrific situation, where getting rid of the thing that plagues people most is getting rid of people, but it isn't fictional. Wars fought, even Prewar wars, all for the purpose of removing traits and qualities of people that we can find in ourselves even if they aren't plain. Injustice breeding more injustice, hurt never resolving, all things that often don't make sense and will never make sense. So, the man was smart, and he realized the solution was to put to death our desires and wants, because they are tumors against ourselves and would do more harm than good. The 'Ego-Death' meant a story of human history featuring compromise and understanding. It doesn't solve suffering but it makes it ultimately worth our time. Something hard becomes something we work hard to solve, even if it never resolves. People need purpose, or we make designs against each other."

    WS79 thought quietly. "Isn't that what Pokémon battling is supposed to be... Though? A solution to... That?" he asked.

    "You would think," said Mars. "But, that's the catch, isn't it? Pokémon battling is pure conflict, and pure desire. It embraces everything humans do worst. It plays with fire where we can easily spill over into hurting one another. It's the joy of hurting one another."

    "S-spilling over?"

    "Right," said Mars. "Team Galactic is a natural response of the world. We see things like the recent events in the Hoenn region and we respond to it. Do you think people learn their lesson after we get wack-jobs like Team Magma and Team Aqua to control demigods? Do you think the fact that people have freewill means they know how to use it? You can have a mostly good population and all it takes is a few rotten apples to spoil the bunch."

    WS79 looked over contemplatively, staring past Mars. He sat hunched over, on the edge of his seat, head resting on his hand and propped by his arm. It took thought for him to blink.

    "Team Galactic's purpose in the world is to help it along. We shout in the streets the truths we've learned. We point to incidents like the Weather Cataclysm and say we're not ready. We point and say that we could have prevented this. We shout that this could be any of us. We point to all of human history, and say that we're on the right foot, but we need to know where we're going. We know where the slope is and where the gravity of human nature will drag us, but we have to know where we're placing the next step as much as we need to know why we are. Moral good is hard to maintain. The balance of the universe is fragile. We're not going down without a fight, we'll go down kicking and screaming, because that is what the universe deserves from us. We've been given so much as a species, but we can't live up to all the greatness of what we claim to be if we can't do so much as save ourselves."
  5. yugoslavia

    yugoslavia School Kid

    May 12, 2015
    Chapter 7

    I don't know why I've been thinking about Jupiter so much. I really wish I knew. Maybe not, actually.

    A lot these journals are becoming about her. Not in that I devote entire journals to complaining about her, no, I haven't done that in a long time, but mostly because I don't have a clue what to think anymore. I really thought I'd seen it all a long time ago. It defeats the purpose of complaining where I don't know if I'm the irrational one now. Maybe that's my biggest complaint against her, that she does that to me, but even that's something I'm not sure she causes anymore.

    It doesn't change the fact that she's in these journals, or that I think about her often, or that yesterday was the first time in a long time I'd had a conversation with Saturn about something other than her. Even then, her twisted spirit still hangs over every little syllable that comes out of my mouth. It hangs over me when I sit here, writing these journals. It's so upsetting.

    Maybe it's bad that I wouldn't normally recognize it. It's a weird thing to be obsessed over but I wouldn't put it past myself to be obsessed with something so strange. It's happened before. I can think of a few posters in twelve-year-old Mars' bedroom, or the folded letters and photos in present-day-Mars' sock drawer. Obsession is healthy for almost anyone my age or before it. Even being a Galactic Commander, with all the 'prestige', and moreover, 'responsibilities' that follow such a title, it'd be totally normal to keep something on the forefront of my mind. I don't even think I'm justifying it. Saturn's gotten close to telling me about the MP3 player he keeps in his shoe, more implying it really, something very punishable for but equally important to him to keep. When Charon was hired, and Saturn asked me what we should do about the stash of brandy he found in the new-hire's desk, we only reported the syringes we found, because we both didn't have to tell each other how much our vices meant to us, because it's engrained in human nature. It's no surprise I couldn't tell you what Jupiter's vices are, and that I wouldn't reveal Cyrus' even if I knew, but I wouldn't put it past them to have their own.

    Myself, I guess I can be a little more dubious. I like little things like trips to the beach, fresh coffee, a good movie, new clothes, but nothing huge or criminal. The biggest hobby/time-suck in my life right now is this journal. I'd only consider it a vice if I retreated to it, and I certainly do that more often than not.

    Maybe our vices are telling about our character. Certainly Charon's reveals much about his age and state of mind, and Saturn revealing the things that he values most in life, but mine doesn't reveal much of anything. It's just a snapshot of my soul, only ever serving as a mirror when I'm the only one who looks at it. Any of my little pleasures can chalk me up for just how shallow I am.

    If these journals truly are as soul-opening as I suspect or want them to be, then it reveals how much I think about Jupiter. They record when I have dreams about Jupiter's that aren't nightmares, but too dry to be dreamy. All I wish is to understand why she's so important, this nothing character to me.

    When I know so plainly how much she does mean to me.

    It reveals that I don't want to talk about why she means so much to me, or acknowledge it. At the same time, I want to deny a piece of my history, a piece of my character. It concerns me deeply.

    But, to be fair, the more I think about it the more I'm reminded what parts of myself I had to deny in order to become closer to Team Galactic. I can easily remember Jupiter took up a large chunk of that denial and that's where a lot of my understanding of Jupiter comes from. It's not necessarily clear to everyone, however, even though it's incredibly clear to me. The things that aren't clear to me are the things when I realize everything I've said above about Jupiter are things I immediately picked up on when I first met her. They were things I knew before I joined before Team Galactic, hindsight be damned. They were things that I knew, and then used her as my gateway to where I am now, and while it wasn't what gave me my own command, it was what seeded my interest in the things of Team Galactic, and more importantly gave birth to something I already knew I had before, something genetic and far reaching into the depths of what I truly believe, a notion conceived of pieces I'd had lying around for ages, a story that begins with my past and that Jupiter had picked up where I didn't know where to begin.

    I really thought picking this journal back up would give me some relief, where I could dump all the thoughts that've been plaguing me all day. Truth is, I don't know if relief is something I can get from this topic. It's like growing pains that always lead to more growing pains.

    The other truth is, I didn't need WS79 to remind me of this fact. It probably didn't take much for him to ask it, but it took almost all of me to answer it.

    Even when he asked.

    Chapter 8

    "And... And it's the same thing in the Johto region... Right?" WS79 asked, fidgeting quietly in his chair so that he sat on the edge, looking up at Mars, hands folded in his lap, looking over at the bowl of M&Ms briefly.

    "The Johto region?" asked Mars, brow furrowing. "I don't know too many things happening in the Johto region. Enlighten me."

    "Oh..." WS79 shrugged. His shoulders sank slowly with the rest of his body forward. His gaze sank forward, past Mars and down towards the desk. "N-Nothing... It... Well... It's just a small town story..."

    "Oh come on," Mars smiled. "Spit it out. What happened in the Johto region?"

    "Well... When... I was living there... The new champion managed to summon... Something ancient... Something that hadn't been seen in thousands of years... By anyone, ever... Just sketches and stuff... But it was a big deal. It was a large Pokémon, a Pokémon with massive wings and a loud, bird-like cry, like I'd never heard before... It was a cry, like... Bells... Loud, clanging, steeple bells, like in old towns... But also, kinda like, quiet, tiny bells, rattle-like chimes... Like... Like Winter Festival bells... And..."

    WS79 froze. He stopped talking with a loud choke. As the silence went on, he slowly sank down in his chair, gazing down at the floor. The tips of his ears that poked above the blue tufts of hair turned bright red. Slowly, the heat from his ears spread to his cheeks and permeated them brightly.

    Frowning, Mars leaned down, looking at WS79, trying to look beneath the sagging bangs as he faced the floor. "I like your story," she said. "You're not rambling on or anything. Please continue it for me? I really want to hear the rest of it."

    "I've... Told this story before... In many different ways, too... I don't like telling it... Nobody... Nobody likes me telling it..."

    "I like you telling it," said Mars, reaching down and putting a hand on his knee. "You're really good. You'll do fine, I'm sure of it. It's a safe place, you know."

    Slowly bringing his head up, WS79 faced Mars, cheeks flush with embarrassment. The feeling of Mars' hand on his knee made his eyes flash down to it briefly. Eyes locked on Mars', he took a deep breath, continuing his story, at the risk of making his cheeks even redder.

    "I really need this, Commander... I have nowhere else to go... Nowhere else to turn... Team Galactic is my only future... Please don't make me blow it... I know that you may not think I will, but I absolutely will... Please don't make me do this... I can do it... I can be a... A grunt... I just need a chance..." WS79 whispered quietly. Both of his eyes began to water, squeezing up with the oncoming feeling of tears.


    As he blinked away a small stream of tears, sniffling intensely, WS79 looked up at Mars with the most distraught look, despite fighting to hold it back.

    "Finish the story. You can do it," said Mars. "That's an order."

    "T-The... The wingspan... The... The wings had... Plumy... Plumy feathers... Of every color of the rainbow... Every color I'd ever dreamed of or seen... All in one... All in one incredibly beautiful place... The Pokémon had them everywhere... All over his... All over it's body... And... Well, it... Uh... When it flew... I saw it fly away, with the Champion on his... It's.. Back... The trail it made... Rainbow... It was a rainbow... Almost not like a rainbow, it was so brilliant and colorful, so sharp... Every color on every feather of it's wings, tail, and body all streaked the sky. It was so brilliant. You could see every color... You could see them all across the sky... Right before it flew away... Flew out and away over the horizon..."

    When WS79 finished, he swallowed and took a breath, looking straight ahead. Where his fingers had knotted together the knuckles had turned white with intensity.

    "It was a Legendary... I knew that much... They all talked around me about how it was in legends... How it had risen from the Bell Tower... The secret one... It had come to meet the Champion and the Champion had caught it... All it's power and will it had given over to the Champion... Purely for his control... Not to be abused, with something so sacred given to someone... Barely older than me... It made that whole region... Well, it just made it special again... Magical, really... I... I didn't know what to do with it when... Well... I had to.. Had to..."

    "Give it up? Oh..." Mars interjecting, filling the gap between WS79's intense breaths quickly. She slid off the desk, getting on one knee when WS79's head drooped into his lap. The hands that tried to cover his crying eyes were stopped by Mars', and once they had been laid to rest on the arm rests Mars reached up and held his cheeks with both hands, propping the face up so that Mars could see it. "Is... Was it your home, WS-? Was it? Are you from the Johto region?"

    WS79 nodded. "Ecruteak City," he sputtered out, before breaking down and crying.

    Mars looked down in away from WS79 slowly, realization dawning on her rapidly. A dull stare filled her eyes, mouth opening at an incredibly slow pace to eventually chew on her lower lip as she thought. Her grip on his cheeks relaxed slowly, still propping the head up. The heel of her hand brushed away a stray bang from his eyes, giving her a brief excuse to look at him and think, but immediately looking back down and away from him as she thought.
  6. yugoslavia

    yugoslavia School Kid

    May 12, 2015
    Chapter 9

    After his story, I did a little research of my own. Ho-Oh is the one he was talking about, and everything in his story is pretty recent, actually. About four months ago. This Johtoan Champion he's talking about, this kid, is still at it too. Who knows how long it'll be before he's trying our league? He's already halfway through the one in Kanto. It showed up as soon as I punched it into the search box.

    I didn't research the Legendary bird because I didn't believe him. I wasn't lying when I wanted to hear his story either; he had me strung up, on the edge of my seat (or desk, I guess). I would have probably slapped him or gone to other drastic measures to get the rest of the story out of him. It was our connection. It was the only way I was going to save this thing between us. The only way I could keep him on as a grunt working for us. Plus, I really wanted to know.

    I researched the bird because there was something I couldn't interrogate WS79 over. Even hours later, I can't figure out why he told me that story, how he made that connection. It's a pretty loose connection, but it's an even looser connection to begin crying over. WS79 genuinely wanted to tell me something like the little bit of Prewar knowledge I shared, or the bit I lead on about Kyoto and Growler (I'm trusting I'll fix this when I remember. Obviously it wasn't as important to look up over Ho-Oh). This was his connection, this Legendary bird, owned by a kid, who did the right thing, even when he used it for his own personal gain, which evidently means curb-stomping the Kanto region gym leaders. I didn't say it was the right thing, those are WS79's words, and he really made that clear.

    WS79 wasn't crying because he was about to lose his job; the fact that I made it clear doesn't matter. WS79 was crying because it meant something personal, putting his beliefs on the verbal chopping board. What did he believe? He believed that Gold, the Johtoan champion made a connection with Ho-Oh, something so personal and mutual that it was a kind of symbolic good for both the myths that mankind had and mankind itself.

    This belief that using Legendaries for selfish gain and the mutual benefit of humans and Pokémon might be buried somewhere in there has nothing to do with my proposed idea, the Ego-Death, this thing that Team Galactic serves to be true. But the similar qualities of the two conflicting ideals is that neither WS79 or I invented them on the fly. We borrowed them from the two separate worlds we come from. Mine from Team Galactic and Team Galactic from it's predacessors, and WS79's from, well, the world. The world Team Galactic has divided itself from. The fiction.

    There was a connection not being made, and clearly enough to be pointed out. Both WS79's point and mine were points that can never meet halfway for fairly obvious reasons. Team Galactic exists to be a separation from this worldview. We don't exist if it works.

    But do we?

    WS79 can clearly connect emotionally with everything the world in Johto holds, and I can too. Who am I to deny my own history? And who am I to ask WS79 to deny himself when I have such a hard time denying myself anyway?

    No matter what happens in Team Galactic, what we say or stand for, we all have to say that this world shaped us. We're forged out of something impure, born of decisions made in weakness, born of knowledge learned to improve a body that won't heal, trying to finish the job, using the hands and feet that came with us in our impurities. This is something we may not all know, but when I see how it trickles down and pools at the bottom level, around the feet of grunts who support the structure, the only thing I see is how blind I've been to something immediately in front of me. Would you want to keep others in the dark?

    This isn't the first time I've run into this. I've had dangerous encounters with this truth. Sometimes I encounter it again in situations like WS79, but others where I can't explain something in front of me, something I've done. The things WS79 has done out of emotion, whatever got him here, dropping him off on our doorstep as our thing to deal with, are all just a different way of seeing the same way I took. The things that scream at me when I'm justifying this is what kind of destiny led me here, because there are lots of days that feel exactly like WS79 does: someone not meant to be here. Any day spent here, any meeting with Cyrus and the Commanders, any meal in the lunch room or the Commander's Lounge, any training session, any mission, any Pokémon battle, any conversation, any journal entry, all reminds me that I'm the amateur. Sometimes I wonder what separates me from the grunts, and if I'm the only one wondering, or if I already know.

    WS79 doesn't know it, but he knows something about me.

    It's a farfetched conclusion, but if I'm right it means a couple of things. It means that Ho-Oh was a symbol of the Johto people, and that WS79 being one of the Johto people, had a meaning for Ho-Oh buried deep inside the core of his identity in culture, probably fresh in mind of anything he had thought of about Johto, and freshly torn, with a fresh wound at the top of these cultural memories. He's the baby Starly jumping from his mother's nest, watching the ground get too close.

    He's learning something about home, something that we both now share as adults. Wounds from leaving home often leave marks that hurt a lot, even when they're the permanent parts of what memory does for us. Our memories can hurt us, keep us awake at night, but they comprise our very soul. We can live in our memories easily. Something gave our memories life, filling them with comfort and warmth or pain and sorrow, sometimes both, but when the thing that gave them life is removed, they stop growing. Home is one of those things. Home changes. You can't pick up where you left off. The cord is cut, and all that's left is a belly button and something finished, a baby we can choose to raise and give life of it's own until it too must leave, or let it die.

    WS79 is right about a lot of things, in his mystery, and he really gave me a lot to think about. Too bad I can never admit it to him.

    Chapter 10

    "There's a path through the forest, where the ground is always soft and mushy, very muddy, and the trees are really bright and healthy, so teal they're almost blue. It's a very thin path but it borders through a thick space of tall grass with all sorts of Pokémon in it. Honestly, I can't remember the forest's name, or even the route if there is one. The path splits and goes almost anywhere, to a couple of cities and towns, the beachhead and an area filled with caves. The grass stays the same, but the Pokémon don't, and it always fits the scene, even when it's different, but at the heart of the forest where the trees are the bluest, the bark almost a deep reddish purple color, the grass is the most interesting and pretty. The forest is always so... So wet... It makes the area very spongy, like your skin feels spongy, soaking up all that moisture that comes off the trees and grass. It's not a cold mist, but it's very refreshing. It puts little beads of water on the outside of your jacket. If your shoes have some kind of fabric or opening to the sock, even when you're off the muddy parts of the path and on the gravelly patches, the air alone will drench you, not sweat or anything, it's just the mist hangs on the ground and hovers nicely. The mist keeps the sky locked in a hazy morning gray, a sky already barely visible through the dense trees, even on the brightest, bluest day, where you can't see the sky until mid-afternoon and then it returns in the morning. If you get up early enough, and you watch the sky carefully, it'll change right before your eyes, parting open in a magical sort of effect. It makes for incredible sunsets, where the sky turns deep pink and purple, making the trees black and the haze a halo-ish orange. Then the night sky is a cosmic kind of blue, with the brightest stars that side of the city... Heh, I guess I've given it away, that I've spent all day there a couple times... But who wouldn't? It changes for every season, giving something new but equally magical... Timeless, even. The spring makes it almost neon green with all the life in the plants, and a deep pastel blue in the trees, with bright red soil filling all the spaces in between. Nothing a Pokémon doesn't compliment nicely in any season... In the winter seasons, there's always a Delibird migration happening, adding a nice bright red touch to the white, muted atmosphere of snow, or at least frost on the trees, depending on how cold it was... In the summer there's always too many bug-types, but I never minded, especially when I was watching the Ekans slither around my steps with a careful eye as not to step on them. And then the fall... Hehe... There's always something spectacular about the way everything stops in nature for fall. The trees never change of course, they stay that bluish color, but the ground certainly does. The tall grass had turned a lemon-green or full yellow, like an extension of the light brown soil... It's the only time the mist stops actually... Piles of leaves from sparse, rarer trees that aren't native to the forest, usually appear pretty quickly, before more blow in from other towns that connect along the paths. It's a great spot for leaf collecting, spotting different leaves and guessing which towns they're native to... When the winter and the possible snow passes, the leaves are still there, slowly turning into mud, being broken down by that mist... I love that mist so much... I'd take friends in just to see what it did to them, if it changed their mood... Sometimes, if they had really long or thick hair, it'd get all wet, sag and deflate... We'd go for long walks, filled with long meaningful conversations. Sometimes I'd write them down. Sometimes we'd circle back to them. Other times, most times, we just made new ones. We told stories whether we meant to or not. We were poets, philosophers, shooting off hot air and just being, well, kids. Sometimes adults. It took years before I stopped going, out of, just, being an adult and what not. I made exceptions, taking friends for walks when we had nothing to do... It was always really special when someone took me there just because they thought I'd like it... It was like a miraculous guarantee from the universe we would be friends... But I took plenty of trips solely for myself, too. There was a secluded piece of forest, where the path thinned and began to circle around something you couldn't see deep in the forest, wrapped around, looping, curling around like a helix towards a center. I like to think it was by design, by some mystic force or secret people. It wasn't a crazy notion either, considering the center. The light in the forest, coming down through the trees, always had some kind of sacred quality to it... Sacred feeling, I guess... The light would stream down from the trees, through the leaves, and... Sparkle? I said it was magical, but maybe it's the kid in me... But the light always landed on the clearing, and the shrine. The clearing around the shrine was a perfect circle, completely free of tall grass or loose leaves, like someone had gone in and swept it. The shrine was a tall, old wooden box with an A-frame roof on it, like a house or a hut, with an opening in the center. The wood was old and grayish, the tan wood color barely retaining, having grown deeply saturated with dark green growth seeping into the wood's color, aged and ancient, years of cold air and moisture making the browns muted and silvery, becoming bright brown again when the rains came in. There was a... Ummm... See, I've always wondered what the plaque was made of, because it was definitely some kind of metal. It had mostly rusted away into a muted, dark grayish blue-green color, but the original contents were... Silver? It was strange... It wasn't mounted with bolts or screws, though it seemed attached to the wood casing in front of it, nearly seamlessly jutting from the wood, unlike every single beam attached to it that never seemed to be flush with it's own socket, sitting uncomfortably but never shifting... Around the opening in the center, the traces of old ornamental paint are barely visible, faded in their clay-like red colors, and would never be visible if it weren't for the light carvings that traced their path around what the front might have been when it was first built how many centuries ago. It must have been ancient. The words on the plaque... They didn't seem to mean anything, at least in English... They were some ancient language... I had tried to ask what it was but nobody had ever heard of the language... And it was hard to describe when it wasn't in English. It was a mystery, the whole thing existing itself... But it was my mystery... I had been there with people before but they didn't see it for what it was... The mystery of it... It was a good place to be alone when I needed it... It was a good reminder that some things couldn't be solved or weren't meant to be there... I don't want to say I prayed to it, but when it became something special to me I suppose that's what it was... Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever see it again, if I'll ever know what it meant, what the forest meant, anyway..."
  7. yugoslavia

    yugoslavia School Kid

    May 12, 2015
    Chapter 11

    WS79 blanched, realizing the story was over as he slowly looked up Mars. He was sitting forward, hands holding the lip of his seat, having stared into the ground, looking the most relaxed he had for the entire meeting. His mouth hung slightly agape. The rim around his eyes went slightly red as the heat rose in his face.

    "The... The Ilex Forest...?" asked WS79, dumbfounded. "But... But where... You?"

    "Yep," Mars smiled. "Goldenrod City."

    "You... What...?"

    Mars chuckled. "I guess it was pretty unfair to make it a surprise and all, but to be fair you never asked where I was from, nor did I say it. You have to ask these things sometimes. No, I'm not from Sinnoh, though I was born here. I've lived most of my life in Johto, Goldenrod City, to be exact."

    "I... When did you leave...? Did you know about... About the legendary bird...? About the... The champion?" asked WS79. He had perked up, even scooting closer to Mars on the chair's wheels, hanging on her every word.

    "No, I've never heard any of that. I actually meant that when I said I hadn't heard of anything in Johto. I mostly checked out when I left, honestly. That was about... Three, four years ago? I guess so."

    "W-Why?" asked WS79.

    Mars swallowed, avoiding eye contact. "Um... Well... Things got complicated at home... My mom had some work-related, well, issues... Our family financial 'situation' tanked... And, well... I decided to go to school in Eterna City... At a university, actually. Eterna Historic and Scientific Academy. I found a way to branch my field into some of the things that Team Galactic needed, and, well, it went okay from there."

    WS79 nodded slowly. "I kinda guessed," he said. Beneath Mars' desk, where the drawer Mars opened for the bag of M&Ms and hadn't fully shut, the sliver of something forest green and ceramic could be seen through a small opening. "The mug had the 'Terrible Torterras' mascot on it..."

    "Terry," Mars chuckled, "Terry the Terrible Torterras... Our stupid basketball team..."

    "Um... What... What were you studying?"

    "I started with Psychology... Did a few semesters of that, and then started mixing in some History classes. Kinda boring when they kick out the Prewar stuff and just leave the Postwar, very very recent Postwar stuff... I wasn't totally sure," said Mars. "Can I ask something, well, personal?"

    WS79 nodded. "Yeah..."

    "Why did you leave? What were you coming to go do?" asked Mars. "It sounds like you had big reasons. Leaving home is no easy task."

    "I... I left because of a school, too..." WS79 spat out. The heat rose intensely in his cheeks, head lowering once again. "There's an... Um... A s-school... A university, too, actually..."

    "What kind of university? Like, which one?"

    Taking a deep breath, WS79 continued. "An art school... One in Hearthome City..."

    "Is it Amity? Amity University?"

    "Yeah..." muttered WS79.

    "That's cool! Amity University is a great school! I know Saturn did some basic coursework there, like his first few semesters and general education stuff. I can't remember where he transferred for the life of me. But it's a great school!" said Mars, offering a warm smile.

    "It is. It's the best around. People were talking about it all the way over in Johto... I didn't want to be a farmer, either... I was going to inherit it, sooner or later, and going out to be a trainer didn't seem all that... Fun... Or meaningful... So I left it all... Everything... I moved to Sinnoh... Hearthome... Got set up in an apartment with a few roommates... All people who went to the school. Nice people... Did a semester... Worked full-time to pay for it alone..." WS79 trailed off and froze. His voice choked. "Didn't... Didn't make it..."

    "What do you mean, 'didn't make it'?" asked Mars.

    "I... Well... I knew it had a good chance of... Failing... Crashing... But I knew I had to do it... It... It was... It was my dream... Nothing short of a dream... And I had to do it, or I'd never see... I mean... It'd just be a dream... So... So... So irresponsible... So irresponsible!" WS79's voice cracked, eyes closing. "Things just got too expensive... Too pointless... I couldn't do it..."

    When Ho-Oh flew away with Gold on his back, something changed Johto.

    When WS79 flew away with his entire life on his back, something changed him.

    The two will never align again. The paths they on are diverged a long time ago. They're made of decisions, dreams that end too quickly and leave us hanging when we wake up.

    There's something about sentiment that embodies WS79: it's separate. It's the Observer Effect, where the meaning we derive is self-evident, something only we can hold. We can hold it up and give it meaning, in my case name it, but what it means to us is special and unique to us. Only humans can tell you a sunset is beautiful, or how pretty a friendly face is, or even how grim an outlook is. The meaning isn't tangible, it's a part of the human experience. It's the Ilex Forest. It's Ho-Oh. For a lot of people, it's Gold, with a thousand different unique meanings under the same experience. It's embodied in grunts, where there value is that of a blank slate, assigned by us the Commanders.

    "Come on, let's go for a walk," Mars smiled, reaching over and lifting her skirt off the keyboard, before sliding off the desk and onto her feet.

    Wiping away his tears with his stained gray sleeve, WS79 looked up at Mars from his hunched position, sniffling as quietly as he could. "W... What...?"

    Standing in front of the door, Mars unfurled the skirt from it's half fold, stretching it out between her two outstretched arms, holding it around her waist. The zipper on the skirt jingled gently as Mars fumbled for it. Reaching behind her back made her back arch backwards gently, producing a small grunt of irritation from her. Over her shoulder, Mars looked over at WS79, returning her smile. "A walk? Nothing crazy, I just want to show you something that might interest you. Besides, this office is getting a little boring, don't you think?"


    A click signaled that the zipper had successfully found it's metal track under a hidden white flap, just below her utility belt. Mars breathed a sigh of relief, zipping the full circumference of her waist until the zipper stopped just short of where it began behind her. She zipped the two loose flaps together until the perfect conical shape of her white skirt held. When she finished, she went to the desk and picked up the tipped over COMM on her desk and clipped it around her wrist.

    "Let's go. That's your new order. Go for a walk with your superior," said Mars. Her thumb activated the touchpad in the door's archway and opened the door.

    The bright light of the hall that flooded into the office made the room perceptibly darker. Where WS79 sat behind the desk made the room darker. Stepping up from the chair, wiping his eyes one more time, WS79 peeked into the light, shielding his eyes from the sudden burst of light by holding his hand out in front of his eyes. He finally stood up fully beside Mars, squinting and looking over at her expectant expression from behind his hand.

    "Come," said Mars.

    Down the hall, where Mars followed around a corner to the left, pausing gently and taking a step back, looking over her shoulder. Seeing WS79 follow somewhat slowly brought a smile to her face. She visibly looked left and right down either end of the hall, then looked back down to WS79.

    "A little faster please," chuckled Mars. "This is totally regulation, if you were wondering."

    WS79 nodded, hastening his pace. Walking on the left side of the hall nearly brought his shoulder into another grunt's shoulder, before he quickly sidestepped in a kneejerk reaction, proceeding to clip another grunt's shoulder. He barely got out the first syllable of the apology before the grunt had moved along a little more. Then he looked back to Mars, cheeks lighting afire when he saw her stifle a giggle.

    "What do you have to be afraid of? I mean, seriously? Do you forget who you're with, and where you're at of all places?" said Mars.

    Alongside Mars, just barely finishing rounding the corner of the hall, WS79 stopped, exuding his nervous breaths and exchanging them for much calmer ones. He looked up at Mars and past her, then looked to his shifting feet as he stood beside her, waiting for her to continue.

    "What do you think it means when I'm with you? Or, when you're with me, rather. Do you think it makes a difference?"

    WS79 choked, trying to swallow a thought. A thin layer of sweat formed over his brow, not from speedwalking after Mars.

    "It means," WS79 began, staring down the hall ahead of them as he gathered his words. "I mean... I guess I still don't understand..."

    Mars raised an eyebrow. Her lip curled up into a twisted smirk as she fought to stifle a chuckle. She failed. A snort of laughter came through her nose, then through her mouth as she could no longer contain the laugh. Her body flinched, jolting forward briefly, holding her stomach in her hand.

    Starting to walk down the hall, Mars turned back to WS79. "Heh..." she breathed. "Aren't you starting to wear out your welcome, hm?"

    WS79's face turned bright red. "I... I..."

    "Don't you get it?" asked Mars. Looking back over her shoulder at WS79 as she continued to walk, she made eye contact with him, eyes flaring with interest. The smirk she wore faded into a reassuring smile. "The place isn't defined by the place, it's defined by the people in it. The people define the place, right?"

    WS79 followed slowly. "I guess..."

    Mars stopped in the center of the hallway, turning back to him. "Think?"
  8. yugoslavia

    yugoslavia School Kid

    May 12, 2015
    Chapter 13

    "This... This is the gym we started in... Before..." WS79 said.

    Mars' fingers tapped through various menu items on the touchpad built into the doorway. Her gaze shifted over to WS79, smiling gently, returning her gaze back to the touchpad as she entered her passcode. "See?" she said. "You're figuring your way around this place pretty quickly. You'll have it down in no time."

    When she reached the release key, the touchpad released an electronic whine of confirmation. A hydraulic piston fired deep inside the wall, sliding the door open as it disappeared into the wall. The door opened into darkness. A sliver of the gray rubber-matted floor appeared in the light. Around the corner, a dim ray of light from the touchpad lit on the other side of the doorway. Overhead of the doorway, a small red light lit, bathing the small space of floor in front of the doorway in a hazy red glow.

    Following Mars' nod, WS79 stepped over the door track into the dark room, walking to the edge of the red light. He stared up to the ceiling, barely making out the silhouettes of metal supports and heavy halogen lights. His wandering steps quickly took him back into the center of the light, where he paused, looking to Mars.

    Mars finished keying something into the touchpad, locking the screen so that it only said 'In Use'. She then stepped into the dark room and activated the touchpad, sealing the sliding door and locking them in the dark room.

    A low hum encompassed the room, combined with the clicking sounds of lights overhead. It made WS79 flinch in the room, as he stared up and searched the dark surroundings.

    "The lights in here usually take awhile to turn themselves on," said Mars. "It'll be just a moment."


    Mars looked across at WS79 in the short space between themselves, standing close in the small area the red backup lights shone on. The red glow outlined their features in sharp red outlines, giving them a mystic aura. Again, she offered a slight smile to cheer him up, but instead changed her focus to her utility belt. She reached down to the array of Pokeballs displayed on her hip, shrouded in darkness from the shadow of her raised arm. Her fingers fumbled blindly through the Pokeballs, counting under her breath, until she finally plucked one from the plastic holder with a snap.

    "I like it," said WS79 quietly.

    "Hm?" asked Mars. Her focus was in the Pokéball in her hand, resting upright in her palms as she rotated it, looking for the number she had written in marker on the surface.

    "The red light. I like it."

    "It's just the emergencies," said Mars. "Nothing special. There's supposed to be one across the gym, but I think the batteries probably died."

    "It really compliments your eyes," said WS79.

    Mars looked up from the Pokéball, blinking. Looking at WS79 made her pause. It took her moments before she remembered to smile. "Thank you, WS79. It makes your hair look less, well, blue."

    "But, that's what I like about your eyes. They're... Bright... And... And fiery. More red light, like with your skin turning red, and the whole of your eye turning red... Well... It makes it special when you can see the red... Just like your hair..."

    Mars chuckled. In her hand she pulled out a small scanner, the size of a salt shaker, with a white plastic case that matched her COMM. The light blinked yellow on the case. She touched the black glass tip to the red shell surface of the Pokéball. A beep resounded from a tiny speaker inside. She flipped her wrist around so that the COMM screen faced her when it lit. Tiny white console writing appeared on the screen with stats about the Pokémon inside. "I guess," she said. "When everything's red and you don't notice it, doesn't it make me look normal? A little less intimidating, maybe?"

    WS79 smiled. "I wouldn't say that. It... It makes you wonder. Wonder if what it means to behave like... Mars... And like a Commander... And what it means... What it means to look like Mars... What does it mean? It's... It's a silly example..."

    "If you can blame it on looking like a party girl, stupid attitude and stupid funny ways of saying things? I ask those questions everyday. I know I'm not the only one," said Mars.

    "No... No... It's not that... That's not what I mean... At all..." said WS79. "They are... The way they are... They're not subjective... For once it is... You can't change people... People are... They are... The way they are... Just... Like anything we accept...?"

    Mars chuckled. "I wouldn't put it past you, the artist, to figure out the weirdest way around to it. Good job."
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