Tony the Tiger asks:

You like old stuff, right? What are your thoughts on fossil pokemon?

In general archaeologists take pains to point out that we do not study fossils (it’s a surprisingly common mistake).  Not all “old stuff” is similarly old (unless you listen to certain ill-advised religious sects); I deal in the hundreds/thousands of years range, not millions/tens of millions.  Fossils are about as much my professional area of expertise as the moons of Jupiter are an airline pilot’s.

…as it happens, though, I am independently a layman dinosaur nerd with a basic knowledge of evolutionary biology, and I was a sufficiently weird kid that, when I started school, I wanted to be not a fireman or an astronaut but a palaeontologist.  So LET’S TALK FOSSILS.

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X Nuzlocke extra dialogue: Ruby and Boreas

Ruby the Braixen, self-styled “fiery jewel among Pokémon” and “sorceress supreme,” talks life and mortality with Boreas, the recently reborn Amaura.

Ruby: You have something you want to say.  Say it.
Boreas: How-?
Ruby: Even if you were a difficult person to read, which you’re not, I possess psychic abilities that make sensing surface emotions trivial.  Speak your mind.
Boreas: Milady… by thy power alone was I drawn back into this world.
Ruby: True, but there’s no need to thank me.  Your continued service is compensation enough for my necromantic assistance.
Boreas: Er… quite.  I…remember my death, faintly, brought on in the merest instant by some celestial calamity beyond my mortal ken.  Countless of my kith and kin did fall; whether any did survive, I know not.  Verily, ‘twould be no surprise to learn that this were the final close of our age, as some of our prophets did forescry.
Ruby: Mmm.  Probably was.  I have heard Lavoisier talk about this in the past.  Your “celestial calamity” was likely the impact of an asteroid that struck the earth almost seventy million years ago.
Boreas: Seventy…?
Ruby: Million.  A thousand thousands.
Boreas: …years?  Oh, alas my world, alas my fallen kin…
Ruby: Yes, yes, it’s very tragic, but hey, you’re alive.  Could be worse.
Boreas: But wherefore my new restoration?  What purpose serves my rebirth, and that of the mad Tyrunt we did face?  Thou hast said that thou intended it not.  ‘twas it then the mere whimsy of unthinking Fate?
Ruby: Would that be so bad?
Boreas: I confess thy meaning doth escape me, milady…
Ruby: Look, fate dealt you a bad hand the first time around.  You died, apparently through no fault of your own, and so did everyone you ever knew; it was a bad day.
Boreas: …’tis putting it rather light, milady.
Ruby: Whatever.  But thanks to my awesome power, you’re back in the game.  New hand.  New fate.  More than most people ever get.  You can either sit around feeling sorry for yourself, or you can make the most of it.  Either way, you have to make your own reasons.
Boreas: And… the memory of my people?
Ruby: Dead.  Gone.  No good to you now.  If you think you’ll be stronger by honouring their memory in whatever primitive way you find appropriate, then fine, whatever.  If you’re just going to mope about them, you’re better off forgetting.
Boreas: Milady, in mine era, service to one’s tyrant was an all-consuming duty – ‘twas the reason we did the works of labour, and war, and even love.  To be beholden to no tyrant was to be a- a- a lowly vagabond, naught but a base cullion.  Thou knowest no such devotion to any cause but thine own.  How canst thou understand?
Ruby: [rolls eyes] If it makes you feel better, then think of me as your tyrant.  I know you don’t want to cling to the laws of your old world, though.  You’re smarter than that.  Though just barely, it would seem…
Boreas: Thou speakest true, but…
Ruby: [sigh] Look at Spruce [points skyward].  Spruce is an idiot.  But he’s an idiot who knows what he wants, which is apparently to inflict his idiocy on the world in general, and me in particular.  He is dedicated to his goal, and he is so far achieving it with gusto.  No one told him to be the way he is, or at least I fervently hope no one did; he simply is.
Boreas: Then thou dost counsel me to seek mine own purpose, for mine own good?  And thus to emulate thy gentle companion?
Ruby: …let’s not get carried away here.
Boreas: Milady, I… I would serve thee gladly, as though thou wert my tyrant true, for thou didst bestow upon me this… ‘new hand.’  But I will think on what thou hast said, and haply I may find my purpose as we travel.
Ruby: [shrug] It’s a start.  Come on; we should catch up with the others before one of them does something incredibly stupid.

X Nuzlocke, episode 6: Between a Rock and a Holy Place

Route 8

Ruby: Look, human, just give me the Holo-Caster and- good.  Thank you.  Now leave me the hell alone; I have a call to make.  Let’s see… ah; here we are…
Lavoisier: Ruby!  You look… different.
Ruby: As do you.  Evolution is treating you well, I hope?
Lavoisier: Weeeell, I’ve lost some of my boyish good looks, but I got some really sweet dragon powers, and I can reach the textbooks on the third shelf now, so I’m not gonna complain!  Anyway… what do you need?
Ruby: What do I need?  Can’t a girl place a holo-call just to chat with her little brother?
Lavoisier: …sure, but you wouldn’t.
Ruby: Mmm.  Point taken.  All right; I need more leads.  I tracked down the second Mega Stone you pointed me to, and the results were quite interesting.
Lavoisier: Interesting, as in…? [sigh] How many people died, Ruby?
Ruby: To my knowledge, the net deaths resulting from the experiment were zero.
Lavoisier: That’s… that’s a concerningly specific answer, sis.
Ruby: Would I lie?
Lavoisier: Yes.
Ruby: To you?
Lavoisier: Possibly.
Ruby: …again, point taken.  Anyway, where can I find more stones?
Lavoisier: Ruby, I have no idea.  We’ve just barely finished repairing the lab, and we’ve been having… other problems.  Disappearances, and… Look, hunting for references to the location of Mega Stones is just not something I have time for right now.
Ruby: Hmm.  That’s unfortunate.  You haven’t heard rumours about any other sorcerous artefacts, have you?  I could always return to Lumiose City and take a look at your library myself, I suppose…
Lavoisier: [alarmed] No!  Uh… I mean… no, there’s no need for that.  I, uh… if you want to pursue information on the Mega Stones yourself, you… could go to Geosenge Town.  I guess.
Ruby: The hick town up north?  Why?
Lavoisier: Well, I used to sort of know a couple of Pokémon who are there at the moment and… could help you.  Maybe.  Experts on the Mega Stones, who know a lot more than me about what they’re actually for.
Ruby: We know what they’re for.  They’re incredible sources of arcane power.
Lavoisier: Okay, but you know you’re supposed to use them together with your human, right?
Ruby: What, that idiot? [points at Chris] If that primate gets his hands on anything remotely resembling a magical artefact, he’ll vaporise himself in seconds.  I wouldn’t terribly mind that, of course, except that there’s a good chance he would take me with him.
Lavoisier: I… see.  Well, you could at least try Geosenge Town.  Look for two Lucario.  Their names are Amaldos and Lelanthion.
Ruby: I suppose that will have to do.  It’s better than nothing, anyway.
Lavoisier: You’re welcome, Ruby.

Continue reading “X Nuzlocke, episode 6: Between a Rock and a Holy Place”

X Nuzlocke, episode 5: Bone Wars

Route 8

Spruce: …but we should still make sure we didn’t get turned around in those caves!  I hate not being able to see the sky!
Ruby: Argh.  Fine.  If it will shut you up, I’ll ask for directions.  You there!  Meditite, Inkay!  This is the Muraille Cliff Road, is it not?  We are heading in the direction of the Glittering Caves?
Inkay: Yes on both counts, traveller, but if the caves are your destination I must advise you to rethink your plans.
Meditite: Aye, there’s a right lot o’ Barney brewin’ down there.  ‘tid be Mae if you’d just turn round and ‘ead for Pope, mate.
Ruby: I have no idea what you just said and I think I’ve somehow become stupider by hearing it.
Meditite: Wot, don’t understand me chitty?  It’s well Glenn if you keep yer Donalds open.
Inkay: [sigh] He says the Glittering Caves are dangerous and you’d be better off returning home.
Spruce: …are you sure?
Inkay: Members of Sid’s… erm… ‘order’… speak a sort of patois based on rhyme.  They claim the constant wordplay keeps their minds sharp.  We’ve known each other a few months now and I’ve… gotten used to it.
Meditite: An’ yer a right fruit for it, Rommy, even if you do waste all yer grease ‘n’ grime on starin’ at the lah-dis ‘stead o’ thinkin’ ‘bout wot’s Isle and Pete.
Spruce: Order?  Just who are you, anyway?
Inkay: Oh.  Yes, of course; where are my manners?  My name is Andromeda, and my… friend, here, is Sid Arthur.
Sid Arthur: Wotcher, mates.
Ruby: And I am Ruby the Braixen, fiery jewel among Pokémon, sorceress supreme.  Perhaps you’ve heard of me.
Sid Arthur: Aw, we don’t really ‘ear of much at all up my way, not for donkey’s.
Andromeda: Both of us are too immersed in our respective studies to keep up with current events.  I am an astronomer, and Sid is part of a monastic order of sorts, making their home in these mountains.
Sid Arthur: Aye, we be seekin’ to rid ourselves o’ corruptin’ worldly things like bees an’ ‘oney, an’ give up our Jekyll ‘n’ ‘yde to reach an ‘igher two-an’-eight.
Ruby: Yes, yes, and I’m sure you do that very well, whatever it is, but what’s this about the caves?  If you mean to stand in my way, I promise you won’t be standing for long.
Sid Arthur: ‘ere now, there ain’t no need to be so Jodie; it’s just a bit o’ friendly advice is all.  You lot’ll be son-an’-daughtered if’n you take to read-an’-writin’ wit’ those ‘eapies wot’re takin’ over down there.
Andromeda: What Sid means is… human scientists have worked in the caves for some time without troubling the inhabitants.  I have ‘spoken’ with them a few times in the course of my studies, as far as one can speak with humans, and they have always been cordial, but recently they’ve started moving in heavy machines that have been threatening the caves’ integrity and frightening the local Pokémon.
Spruce: Ruby, are you thinking what I’m thinking?
Ruby: I try not to.
Spruce: We’ve got ourselves a new quest!
Ruby: [sigh] Well, if nothing else, I can’t allow the humans to get their sweaty pink hands on my Mega Stone first… since we’re going there anyway, we may as well incinerate those responsible for this nonsense.
Sid Arthur: Oh, we don’t want no-one Simon!  The locals need ‘elp, and that’s eyes o’ blue all right, but a mince for a mince leaves the ‘ole world bacon; that’s wot I say.
Ruby: …yes.  Quite.  Come, minions.  There’s work to be done.
Andromeda: Good luck!  And be careful!
Sid Arthur: Aye, Friar Tuck to ye!
Spruce: Um… lamb shanks!
Sid Arthur: …you wot, mate?

Continue reading “X Nuzlocke, episode 5: Bone Wars”

Amaura and Aurorus

Amaura.
Amaura

DINOSAURS

YES

I think everyone has a dinosaur phase, right?  Mine was… longer and more educationally rigorous than most, put it that way (my parents claim to this day that my first words as a baby were not the traditional ‘mama’ and ‘papa’ but the often tongue-twisting names of dinosaur species).  There actually aren’t all that many Pokémon who seem to be based primarily on dinosaurs, funnily enough, although several of the big superstar ones are represented: we have ceratopids (Shieldon and Bastiodon), pachycephalosaurs (Cranidos and Rampardos), sauropods (Bayleef and Meganium, Tropius), and of course the famous birdlike theropod Archaeopteryx (Archen and Archeops).  There are also a bunch of Pokémon that are probably influenced by dinosaurs, like Tyranitar, who seems to be a tyrannosaur via Godzilla, Charmeleon, who has shades of a small theropod, Torterra, who owes as much to ankylosaurs as to tortoises, and Bulbasaur, who… well, to be honest I don’t think even Game Freak really know exactly what Bulbasaur is but the –saur suffix definitely strikes a particular note.  X and Y give us two more fossils: the brutal tyrannosaurs Tyrunt and Tyrantrum, and these two loveable goofs.  I probably wouldn’t have chosen another sauropod, myself – I kind of want to see a hadrosaur – but I’m not about to complain about more dinosaurs, so here we go.

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All that Glitters

A deep, dark cave filled with beautiful blue and green crystal formations, the Glittering Cave is a treacherous place – you move through it in a first-person perspective, so you can only see what’s right in front of you, making it a lot more difficult to keep track of exactly where you are (luckily, the tunnel systems aren’t that complicated, but this could get tricky if a similar perspective is deployed for, say, Victory Road…).  In a rare show of courtesy, wild Pokémon do not appear at random here, but instead guard particular shadowy spots in the tunnel system – as a result, it takes me a while to be sure I’ve caught everything in here, but I think I’ve got everything: Rhyhorn, Onix, Solrock, Lunatone, Machop, Cubone and Mawile, who has been promoted to Steel/Fairy – a potentially interesting statement about the definition of our new type, something I’ll have to discuss once I’m familiar with all the new Pokémon in this game.  Although disorienting, the Glittering Cave’s tunnels aren’t long, and I soon emerge into a brighter, more open chamber – where I meet Team Flare.

Team Flare are, I can only presume, the game’s primary antagonists.  Their clothing is formal, suit-and-tie, but their suits are bright scarlet, and they style their brilliant red hair in buns that seem to recall the shapes of flames (although they don’t seem to have a strong preference for Fire Pokémon, or indeed any single type).  In blatant defiance of their numerous obvious crimes against style, they claim to value fashion above all else.  Their objectives are unashamedly selfish and surprisingly banal after the grandiose plans of the last three generations of villains – they explicitly work for the good and profit of their own members, regardless of what stands in their way.  This is curious.  The game’s dialogue seemed to be dropping some not-so-subtle hints earlier that Lysandre is a bad guy (his adherence to a basically well-meaning philosophy taken to its illogical extreme is exactly the pattern we’ve seen in the past with Archie and Maxie, N, and arguably even Cyrus), and his colour scheme and general aesthetic mesh pretty well with Team Flare’s, but his ideals seem totally out of step with theirs.  I’m not quite sure what’s going on here yet, so I take out my confusion on the four unfortunate Team Flare members who have invaded the Glittering Cave to search for fossils (Mount Moon flashbacks, anyone?).  With Serena’s help, this fight ends quickly and we rescue the (totally oblivious) scientist at the back of the cave, who offers each of us one fossil.

Hmm… the Sail Fossil (which ‘shines with all the colours of the rainbow’) sounds like it could go into something like a Dimetrodon or maybe a Spinosaurus, something that could be portrayed as drawing energy from sunlight, whereas the Jaw Fossil (which ‘looks like it could chew up anything’) could really be just about anything, but presumably something with strong Bite and Crunch attacks… um… tricky… let’s go with… the Sail Fossil!  That particular mystery, of course, is solved the moment we return to Ambrette Town when the scientists fire up their resurrection machine and transform my Sail Fossil into an Amaura, an adorable Rock/Ice sauropod Pokémon with sunset-coloured frills on its ears.  Amaura seems to be a special tank, with a fascinating new ability: Refrigerate, which makes all her Normal attacks count as Ice attacks (so, it’s like Delcatty’s Normalise, only useful).  I don’t have room for Amaura in my party right now, but she’s certainly going on my list for later consideration.  One of the scientists also offers me one final parting gift: an Aerodactylite, a deep lavender orb that, like my Venusaurite, claims to prompt Mega Evolution.  That seems to be it for Ambrette Town, so I leave through the most boring aquarium ever.  The Ambrette aquarium, as far as I can tell, doesn’t actually have any marine animals in it; the best it can do is an oversized Magikarp statue.  One of the children there claims to have seen a fish Pokémon hiding behind a rock, but they’re kids; their souls haven’t yet been broken by the ultimate bleakness of life, death and eternity.  It was probably just a piece of rubbish that looked like a fish from a certain angle in poor light.  The one useful thing in here is the Old Rod given to me by a fisherman hanging out in the aquarium, but even that seems to produce only Magikarp and Luvdisc.  Still, I do at least get the consolation of a shiny Magikarp as I sit on the Muraille Coast fishing.  So tempted to train a red Gyarados for old time’s sake…

There is no tall grass on the coastline route to Cyllage City, but there are smashable rocks, some of which release Pokémon: mainly Dwebble, but a new Pokémon also presents itself: Binacle, a defence-heavy two-headed Rock/Water-type based on a barnacle.  I guess that’s pretty neat; Pokémon based on weird animals are always a good place to start.  Courtesy of Bolt Beam’s Adam, I also receive two version-exclusive Pokémon: the Water/Poison-type Skrelp, whom I’ve already met, and Swirlix’s counterpart, the Fairy-type Spritzee.  Skrelp, “camouflaged as rotten kelp… [sprays] liquid poison on prey that approaches unawares.”  Okay, so I was right; it really is a diseased Horsea.  I can work with this.  As for Spritzee… a weird name for a weird little Pokémon.  I’m not really sure what it’s supposed to be; apparently some kind of perfume-emitting bird with a huge nose (not a beak, a nose – although I suppose that does make sense with the perfume thing), tough but extremely slow.  Why isn’t it a Flying-type, I wonder?  Maybe I’ll get a better read on it when it evolves.  With nothing else to catch, I’m not delayed on this route for long, and quickly reach Cyllage City.

Cyllage is no Lumiose-style metropolis, but it’s one of the larger cities I’ve been to so far.  Roughly equivalent to the real city of St. Nazaire, at the mouth of the Loire river, Cyllage City boasts many houses, a hotel, a café, a clothing store (where I pick up some classy red sneakers), a beach with beautiful crystal-clear waters, and a bike shop, as well as a long cycle track cut into the side of a nearby mountain.  As is traditional in Pokémon, no-one expects me to actually buy a bike (since their price is best measured in terms of Fabergé eggs) – as the shop’s 10,001st customer, I am ‘lucky’ enough to be given one, provided I can answer a truly mind-bending question: do bikes come in different colours?  The answer, of course, is no – it is physically impossible to paint a bike in any colour other than slate grey, since their geometrically implausible shapes actually bend all light into a single homogeneous frequency.  I tell this to the shopkeeper, explaining that I am a Viscount and clearly far more knowledgeable about such things than him, and suggest that if matters are still unclear he should take it up with the pointy end of my Seviper.

Biking seems to be an extremely popular pastime in Cyllage City – indeed, even the Gym Leader, Grant, is in on it.  As I arrive in the city, he has just won a major and prestigious race.  Clearly a man of impressive strength and stamina – but I’m not letting some mere athlete stand in the way of my continued conquest of France.  When I reach the Gym, though, it turns out it might not be Grant himself standing in the way.  Not only a cyclist, but an accomplished mountaineer and Rock Pokémon specialist, Grant has built his Gym into the side of the mountain itself, hollowing out a grand chamber around a towering spire of rock, with a waterfall thundering in the back.  Reaching his own station at the pinnacle requires a long and arduous climb up a series of climbing walls.  I don’t really do climbing… or, y’know, physical activity in general… I raise an eyebrow and ask the Gym Guide whether I get a climbing harness or any other safety equipment.  He shrugs and explains that he’s just there to tell people what weaknesses Rock Pokémon have.  I sigh.  Well, I guess this is why I’m a Grass Pokémon specialist.  Pan and Ilex have plenty of strength between them to lift me up the ledges, and help each other up afterwards.  Grant seems slightly displeased with my blatant disregard for his system, but I’m taking none of that and challenge him to battle.  Unlike most Gym Leaders, Grant doesn’t really seem to have a single signature Pokémon – his two Pokémon, an Amaura and a Tyrunt (a vicious little tyrannosaur Pokémon who, presumably, emerges from a Jaw Fossil) are equal in level and standing.  I open with Daphne, my Floette, who experiences first-hand the effectiveness of Amaura’s Refrigerate ability when the dinosaur flattens her with a single icy Take Down.  Okay… I guess maybe focusing on Photia and Cecrops has been causing me to, ah… neglect my other Pokémon just a little bit.  Point taken.  Luckily, I’ve taught Cecrops Rock Smash by this point, and Amaura’s double weakness makes that a one-sided match-up.  Tyrunt, on the other hand, is not so simple to handle.  He’s faster than my Seviper and scores some nasty flinches with Bite, leaving Cecrops unable to respond.  Still, this guy’s a Rock trainer, and losing to Rock trainers is really not a thing that I do.  I bring out Pan and Vine Whip the little jerk into submission.  Grant, satisfied, hands over the TM for Rock Tomb (a more powerful and accurate move than I remember) along with his emblem, a steel plate studded with rectangles of wood, silver and bronze, known as the Cliff Badge.

So… now what?  I think I recall rumours that the people of Shalour City in the north might know more about Mega Evolution – doubtless that’s where Serena’s headed, and I can’t let her gain too much power and conquer France before me.  North it is.

Ridiculous quote log:

“Do you think I could go even faster if I tried riding a Bicycle while wearing Roller Skates?”
Yes.  Yes I do.  You should try it.  But to make sure you’re really as fast as possible, I think first you should strap fifty Roman Candles to your bike and drink a litre of coffee.  For science.