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.

Continue reading “Tony the Tiger asks:”

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.

Next episode.

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

Read from the beginning.

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.

Boreas: …I feel once again thy stare, Fisher.  Why fixest thou thine eyes upon me?
Fisher: Oh!  Forgive me, radiant one.  I didn’t mean to disturb you.  I will take my leave.
Boreas: Nay, hold.  Prithee, I would speak at thee.  Thou speak’st as though thou art in awe of my very person.  Art thou… courting me?
Fisher: Am I…?  Oh!  Oh, good heavens, no!  Nothing of the kind!
Boreas: Truth be known, t’would not be altogether distasteful if thou wert!  Propriety would demand I refuse thine advances, of course, for my tyrant surely no longer lives to give his consent to such a union, but t’would be most flattering.
Fisher: Er… thank you for… looking to spare my feelings, but no, I assure you, that is not at all why I am so attentive towards you.
Boreas: Then wherefore, beakèd one?  I am aware I stand as testament to the might of thy mistress’ sorcery, but thy companions are not nearly so solicitous as thee.
Fisher: Radiant one, you are so much more than that!  You are a holy being, a symbol not only of my lady’s power, but of the divine providence of the Helix, by whose will your remains were preserved!
Boreas: …holy?  Divine?  And the… the Helix?  I… I fear thy words are strange to me.  Of what dost thou speak?
Fisher: Ah, of course; you come from a time when all was suffused with His glorious light, and His blessed children swam in the seas as numerous as Magikarp.  Such things are so much a part of your essence and your world that to have words for them seems meaningless to you!  Simply think of everything from your own time that is absent in ours, and what I mean by divinity shall reveal itself to you!
Boreas: …
Fisher: Ah… perhaps I might have… phrased that a little more delicately…
Boreas: That will be all, Fisher.  Leave me, if thou wouldst.

Cyllage City Gym

Ruby: …okay, I’ll bite.  Why are we here?
Merneith: Because of the inherently oppressive nature of the human-Pokémon interaction dynamic that glorifies-
Ruby: Right, right, that; shut up.
Dwebble: Ah… excuse me!  Excuse me!  You, um… you aren’t here to challenge the Gym, are you?
Ruby: For some reason that remains opaque to me, yes.  Apparently we are.
Dwebble: Oh!  You mustn’t!  Our Leader’s new Pokémon- oh, I don’t know where they came from or what they want but they’re bad news!  They’re so brutal, and- oh, you just can’t!
Yvonne: What kind of Pokémon are zese, little crab, zat terrhify you so?
Dwebble: They- they’re like nothing I’ve ever seen!  One of them is all jaws and gnashing teeth, and the other one is- [gasp] AAHHH!  ANOTHER ONE!
Boreas: Dost thou- fear me?  I mean thee no harm, good sir!
Dwebble: They’re takin’ over!  I’m grabbing my human and getting the hell out of here!  SO LONG, CYLLAGE CITY GYM!
Boreas: ‘tis as though he were by some devil or spectre possessèd… milady, if another of my kind lives, I must know!  Prithee let us hurry within!
Ruby: Look, I clearly haven’t been remotely in charge of this little freak show for weeks, so yeah, whatever; you do you.

Tyrunt: Ah-HAH!  More mortal victims come, that we may celebrate their demise!  Amaura!  Ready thyself for the dance, sirrah!
Amaura: [sigh] At thy command, my tyrant…
Tyrunt: Wretched mortals, by magic beyond your earthly ken we are risen, and shall reclaim this world, be it ever so unworthy!  The stone, the great lavender stone, hath given new voice to my stifled majesty, that it might sing, and partake anew in the joy of slaughter!
Ruby: Hmm.  Net deaths, negative two.  Take that, Lavoisier!
Yvonne: Zis is your doing, zen?  Zey too are ze prhoducts of your most rhecent… indiscrhetion?
Ruby: What else?  I’m surprised they beat us to Cyllage City, though… or maybe the stone’s effect had a wider range than I realised.  Hmm.  The sooner I get more to play with, the better.  Anyway.  You there… um… whatever you are.  I am Ruby the Braixen, fiery jewel among Pokémon, sorceress supreme, and it is I who restored you to life!  You will cease your deranged ramblings, and pledge yourself to me!
Tyrunt: HAHAHA!  Thy protests signify naught, mortal witch!  Thou knowest not what thy dabbling hast summonèd!  I bow to none!
Ruby: [shrug] Well, I’ve done all I can do.  Spruce?
Spruce: Are you kidding!?  They’re Rock-types; I can’t fight them!
Merneith: And I refuse to buy into the circle of violence that typifies-
Ruby: No-one asked; shut up.
Boreas: Soft!  Thou, Tyrunt… forsooth, thou art known to me!  Thou wast the tyrant of the Silver Coast in our time!  What madness hath seized thee, that thou wouldst seek the deaths of all?
Tyrunt: Madness?  Nay, but rather new enlightenment!  These mortal creatures infest our world and must be purged.  Know thy place as does thy kinsman, caitiff, and align thee to our faction forthwith!
Boreas: Wouldst thou have me name myself enemy of all that live?  Nay, the memory of our old world and my place in it is not worth the death of this new one.  I would fain stand against thee!
Fisher: This hunger, this will to dominate and destroy – the touch of the Dome is surely upon this one!
Ruby: I don’t know; I can kinda see where he’s coming from.
Fisher: Radiant one, I am at your side.  Let us smite them, in the Helix’s name!
Boreas: Thou knowest my name; prithee use it, and speakest thou no more this prattle of ‘radiance’!  But… I thank thee.  To war, then, and valour attend us!
Amaura: My life for my tyrant!
Fisher: Your life is your own!  By Holy Anarchy, you shall be set free in defeat!  WATER PULSE!
Amaura: Aagh!  Alack; I am undone!
Tyrunt: Hmph.  So be it; the mortals shall be crushed by mine own jaws!
Fisher: Back!  Back, damn you, in the name of the Helix!
Boreas: Aroint thee, cur!  By the light of the aurora!
Tyrunt: Your strength fails ye, fools!  Die!
Boreas: Such might-!  Brave companions, get ye to our aid!
Ruby, Spruce and Merneith: Uh…
Yvonne: Hmph.  Typical.  Ah suppose zis could be turned to mah advantage… Allons-y!
Tyrunt: HAH!  What art thou, mortal?  Some quivering sack of lard?
Yvonne: Zis ‘sack of lard’ shall be your doom.  Be’old, mah grheatest technique! [glances at Spruce] Close your eyes, plumeau.  Ah mean it zis time.
Spruce: CLOSING MY EYES, LOOKING AWAY, HIDING BEHIND A ROCK
Yvonne: Parfait. [exhales sharply]

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWNNNNNN

Tyrunt: What!?  What is- such force!  Sirrah, I cannot maintain my footing!  Assist me!  Argh! [falls over] How-!?  Wha- AAAAAAAHH! [schoomp]
Yvonne: [BURP]
Ruby, Spruce, Fisher, Merneith and Boreas: [horrified silence]
Yvonne: Quoi?

Chris: Um.  She, uh.  She hasn’t done that before.  Um.  That I’ve noticed.
Grant: It, um.  It… may have been for the best.  He was… a little uncontrollable.  Or, uh… maybe a lot uncontrollable.  Kinda bossed Amaura around a lot.
Chris: So… badge, then?
Grant: If you promise to speak of this to no one.
Chris: I won’t if you won’t.
Grant: …deal.

Route 10

Spruce: But how did you suck him into your stomach by yawning?  Shouldn’t you have… like… inhaled him into your lungs, or…?
Yvonne: Ah am a Gulpin; ah ‘ave but one internal organ worth mentioning, and zat is mah stomach.  It is infinitely more efficient zan your clumsy digestive trhacts, and serves also as mah ‘eart, lungs, liver and a supplementarhy brhain.
Spruce: That… that actually explains a lot.
Yvonne: Ah will now digest ze scaled chicken over ze course of a week or so, per’aps metabolise certain of ‘is prhoteins and oils for new potions, and zen rhegurgitate ze less palatable parts of ‘is body.  ‘is complete skeleton will command an imprhessive sum on ze black market.
Spruce: …too much information.
Yvonne: ‘owever, Ah would like to find somewhere dark and quiet to sleep for much of zat time.  Ah believe Ah will ‘ave to leave you at ze next ‘uman settlement.
Spruce: OH THANK ARC- um, I mean… We’ll… be sad to see you go.  I’ll, uh… miss your…
Yvonne: Condescension and sarcasm?
Spruce: Yeah.  That.
Ruby: Quiet, minions.  There are humans up ahead.  It looks like they’re… taking magnetic field measurements around those standing stones…
Merneith: Those uniforms-!  Team Flare!  They’re the ones behind introducing gluten products to my home!
Spruce: Uh… and kidnapping all of those Pokémon, right?
Merneith: Mmm?  Yeah, and that too!  Some of those Pokémon were good vegetarians!
Ruby: All right, but don’t do anything ridiculous that would alert them.  There’s more to gain by-
Merneith: HEY!  WHEAT IS POISON, YOU BUNCH OF PAPRIKA-FLAVOURED GOONS!
Ruby: …or we charge in and murder them; whatever…
Houndour: What!?  You again!?  I don’t know how you followed us here, but you bunch of cutthroats won’t derail our work!
Spruce: We’ll see about that!  What are you planning?  Where have you taken your prisoners from the Glittering Caves?
Houndour: Those Pokémon have the honour of serving a glorious purpose.  Our masters work only towards the greater good.  The beauty of this world shall be maintained, and life shall reign eternal!
Golett: Assessment: hostiles detected.
Houndour: Aww, hell; that’s torn it.
Golett: Action: summoning additional guardians.  Threat: leave, intruders, or be nullified.
Houndour: Argh!  This place’ll be swarming with them in minutes.  Retreat!  Find your humans and return to base immediately! [to Ruby] Your day of reckoning will come, sorceress.  Xerneas willing, I will visit judgement upon you myself.
Merneith: GET BACK HERE, CARNIVORE SCUM!  HOW CAN YOU EVEN LIVE WITH YOURSELF, SURVIVING OFF THE DEATHS OF OTHER BEINGS!?
Golett: Assessment: additional interlopers.  Allegiance unknown.  Threat level unknown.  Query: identify.
Ruby: I am Ruby the Braixen, fiery jewel among Pokémon, sorceress supreme!  Perhaps you’ve heard of- oh, who am I kidding?
Golett: Response: unknown.  Analysis of humour or ‘kidding’ is not this unit’s function.  Query: state your business.
Spruce: Ah… we’re just… passing through.  Actually, those other people… they’re our enemies too.  We don’t want any trouble.
Golett: Assessment: acceptable.  Threat: any hostile action shall be detected and nullified.  Statement: move through this area quickly and peacefully, and no hostilities shall take place.
Spruce: …gotcha.  Um.  Who are you?
Golett: Designation: Pygmalion.  Identity: Golett, alpha class.  Function: guardian.  Status: operational, minor damage, minor fatigue.
Boreas: Guardian?  What dost thou guard?
Pygmalion: Response: this unit shall guard the standing stones of the area designated ‘Menhir Trail.’
Boreas: The stones?  Wherefore?
Pygmalion: Response: sanctity shall be maintained.
Ruby: It’s an automaton, fuelled by human magic.  It doesn’t know anything beyond what it’s specifically been told by its creator.
Pygmalion: Response: negative.  This unit is powered by the soul of a deceased Pokémon.  This unit is capable of learning and inductive reasoning.
Ruby: Oh.  Well.  Glad to hear it.  And have you… inducted anything about what those intruders were doing?  The humans wearing red?
Pygmalion: Conjecture: humans are short-lived.  Maintenance of sanctity permits accumulation of life energy.  Desecration would release energy.  Human lifespan might be extended.  Corollary: this unit is a guardian.  Metaphysics is not this unit’s function.
Spruce: Well… whatever they’re up to, it can’t be good.  So… keep up the good work, I guess!
Pygmalion: Response: affirmative.  Reminder: move through this area quickly and peacefully, and no hostilities shall take place.
Fisher: I… sense our presence here is not particularly appreciated.  We should move on, friends.  I’ve no wish to desecrate some rival church’s holy ground.

Geosenge Town

Yvonne: ‘ere is where Ah leave you.  Ah would wish you luck, but it is clear you all ‘ave it in abundance, to ‘ave made it zis far without being eviscerhated.
Spruce: Thanks!  I… I think.  Good luck to you too!
Yvonne: …merci beaucoup, plumeau.  Take care on ze rhoad.  Zis world is not kind to ze naïve.

Ruby: Right, spread out, you lot.  We’re looking for two Lucario.  Or… just go and convert people or buy herbal snake oil or whatever it is you idiots do with your spare time.
Merneith: I do not use snake oil.  The cruelty to the snakes far outweighs the health benefits.
Ruby: Yes, yes; I don’t actually care.  Anyway, Lucario are never hard to find, especially in a dinky little hick town like this.  Bunch of irritating, sanctimonious do-gooders.
Spruce: Is… is wanting to do good… bad?
Ruby: It is if you never bloody shut up about it.
Fisher: Ah… my lady… I believe you are correct.  They are not difficult to find at all.  There, by the town gates… [points]
Ruby: Hmm.  Well, that was even easier than I expected.  You!  Lucario!  I am Ruby the Braixen, fiery jewel among Pokémon, sorceress supreme!  Perhaps you’ve heard of me!
Lucario 1: [to Lucario 2] A fire in a library will cause us to lose our way, but a fire in a lighthouse will help us find it.
Lucario 2: The same principle often holds in the case of watercress.
Lucario 1: Too true.
Ruby: You are Amaldos and Lelanthion, correct?
Lucario 1: A being speaks to us and expects an answer.
Lucario 2: The river has a mouth but never speaks.
Lucario 1: It knows our names.
Lucario 2: I know only that I know nothing.
Ruby: [clears throat] I’m hunting for Mega Stones to increase my power.  I’ve been told you might know where I can find them.
Amaldos: Clarity of purpose may hide a corruption of the mind.
Lelanthion: Seven blind men describe a Donphan, and think it is a Rapidash that has been put behind the cart it draws.
Amaldos: Unless we are blind as well, and know not what the cart is filled with.
Lelanthion: In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is blindest of all.  Madness afflicts the senses.  We know that well.  A test!  A test to see whether clarity conceals delusion!
Amaldos: Yes, a test of limits! [to Ruby] Absolute corruption yields absolute power!  Show these corrupted minds what power truly is, blinded one!  METAL SOUND!
Ruby: What the-!?  AAAARGH!  How dare you-!?  FIRE SPIN!
Lelanthion: Shadows dance on the wall, and we blind men have only the warmth of the light on our skin to feel by!
Amaldos: But if this one casts a longer shadow, then should we not seek after its source?
Ruby: Are you fighting me or just shouting nonsense at each other!?
Lelanthion: Place me between two pools of water and I will gladly die to spite my thirst for its insolence!
Ruby: ARGH!  You want madness?  Here!  PSYBEAM!
Merneith: Um.  Shouldn’t we help her?
Spruce: No, stay back.  This is something Ruby has to do for herself.
Ruby: What the HELL gave you that idea!?
Spruce: Uh.  I just thought… with all that stuff about testing limits…
Ruby: GET OVER HERE!
Lelanthion: Enough!  Our shadows follow us everywhere, but are gone when night falls.  Discretion is the better part of valour.
Amaldos: But the lesser part of curiosity.
Lelanthion: Then come, and we shall kill some cats to satisfy you.  A clock ticks just as fast, no matter the phase of the moon.
Amaldos: And a sundial casts its shadow regardless of the tides.
Ruby: Hey!  Where do you think you’re going!?  I’m not finished with you!
Amaldos: Find us through the looking glass, ephemeral one, and see your own reflection through our eyes!  We await you in Shalour City!

Chris: So you have no idea why your Lucario is so interested in me and Ruby?
Korrina: [shrug] Aura stuff.
Chris: What does that… mean?
Korrina: Honestly?  I’m pretty sure it means Lucario are just weird.  Anyway, you should totally come see us in Shalour City!  Laters!

Route 11

Ruby: Oh, for goodness’ sake; I turn my back for one moment and the idiot is fighting a Machoke.  What is he even doing?
Boreas: Milady, Spruce merely doth respond to a cry of distress.  The smaller creature there was verily in dire straits.  Thou shouldst count thyself fortunate to have such a noble Pokémon in thy service.
Spruce: Away with you!  Get back!  GUST!
Machoke: Argh!  Fine!  I’ll leave the Nidorino alone.
Spruce: Damn straight!  And maybe next time you’ll pick on someone your own size! [to Nidorino] Are you all right?  Who are you?
Nidorino: Martial… I am Martial.  And my life is yours.
Spruce: M-mine?  What?
Martial: You have saved my life, Pidgeotto, and it now belongs to you.  Honour demands that I serve you until I have saved your life, and my debt is repaid.
Spruce: Uh… there’s… um… there’s really no need for that; I was happy just to-
Martial: Please, do not spurn me so!  There is no greater stain on one’s honour than to have one’s life debt refused!
Spruce: Uh… there is?
Martial: Indeed.  I promise you, my skills as a warrior will surely be a great asset, and I will bring no disrepute upon your company!
Spruce: Um.  To be honest, you bringing disrepute upon us is… actually the least of my worries.
Ruby: Oh, just accept the debt, Spruce.  Now you’ve got a minion of your own to act as cannon fodder.  Fling him out first in a difficult fight, and he’ll die for you and hopefully soak up a few energy blasts or something in the process.
Spruce: D-die for me!?
Martial: [gravely] If it must be so.  Honour commands it.
Spruce: Eep.

The Team:

Ruby the Rutena (Braixen)
Female, Bold nature, level 27, Großbrand (Blaze)
Kratzer (Scratch), Psystrahl (Psybeam), Nitroladung (Flame Charge), Feuerwirbel (Fire Spin)

Spruce the Tauboga (Pidgeotto)
Male, Rash nature, level 27, Adlerauge (Keen Eye)
Windhose (Twister), Daunenreigen (Featherdance), Windstoß (Gust), Ruckzuckhieb (Quick Attack)

Fisher the Enton (Psyduck)
Male, Brave nature, level 26, Wolke Sieben (Cloud Nine)
Aussetzer (Disable), Dunkelklaue (Shadow Claw), Konfusion, Aquawelle (Water Pulse)

Merneith the Ganovil (Sandile)
Female, Bashful nature, level 26, Hochmut (Moxie)
Biss (Bite), Lehmschelle (Mud Slap), Felsgrab (Rock Tomb), Sandgrab (Sand Tomb)

Boreas the Amarino (Amaura)
Male, Mild nature, level 26, Frostschicht (Refrigerate)
Natur-Kraft (Nature Power), Bodycheck (Take Down), Felsgrab (Rock Tomb), Aurorastrahl (Aurora Beam)

Martial the Nidorino (you get one guess)
Male, Brave nature, level 26, Giftdorn (Poison Point)
Energiefokus (what do you think?), Doppelkick (just pretend the p is a b), Giftschock (Venoshock), Hornattacke (you know what, everything about Martial is kind of a softball, really)

Graveyard:

Melissa the Bibor (Beedrill)
Female, Jolly nature, level 16, Hexaplaga (Swarm)
Giftstachel (Poison Sting), Duonadel (Twineedle), Energiefokus (Focus Energy), Furienschlag (Fury Attack)

Next episode.

Extra scene: Ruby and Boreas.

X Nuzlocke, episode 5: Bone Wars

Read from the beginning.

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?

Route 9

Yvonne: Ah ‘ope you do not mind if Ah continue to trhavel in your destrhuctive wake.  Zere are sure to be many opportunities to prhofit from ze devastation your passing will brhing, and zis rhegion is known for its rhare ores and minerhals.
Luna: Of course not, chérie; your presence enlivens and enriches us all.
Yvonne: Ah was not asking you, putain.
Spruce: Well, I don’t mind!  Um.  As long as you don’t open your mouth too wide.
Yvonne: Nor do Ah care much for your opinion, petit plumeau.  To be honest, Ah was mostly asking as a, ‘ow you say, courtesy?
Sandile: Travellers!  Stop for a few minutes; I need to speak with you!
Ruby: If you need to grovel before me you can do it at my leisure; we’re busy.
Sandile: Um.  It’s really rather important!
Ruby: Then keep up and keep talking, peasant; who are you and why am I not vaporising you?
Sandile: Uh.  My name is Merneith; I represent the Sandile community in this area.  Who- who are-?
Ruby: Ruby the Braixen, fiery jewel, et cetera et cetera.  Congratulations; you have answered question number one to my satisfaction.  Keep going.
Merneith: We need your help!  It’s so rare for anyone strong or capable to come this far out from the main roads, and my people are too weak to repel invaders on their own.  It’s their dreadful diet, you see…
Ruby: Diet?  What- what are you wittering about?
Merneith: Well, they eat meat, the fools.
Ruby: [rolls eyes] Obviously, you did say you represent a group of Sandile, did you not?
Merneith: Yes, but Sandile don’t have to eat meat!
Ruby: [bored] Oh?
Merneith: Not at all!  That nonsense about our teeth being evolved for tearing flesh is just lies and propaganda spread by deceitful humans to keep us weak!  I myself am vegan!
Ruby: …
Spruce: Um… Ruby?
Ruby: …I… look; I can’t deal with this, just… Spruce, Yvonne, Fisher, I don’t even care; someone find out what she wants so I don’t have to talk to her.
Spruce: Okay, um… Merneith, right?  You mentioned invaders?  Are you talking about the human scientists?  We’re actually here to investigate that-
Yvonne: You are ‘ere to investigate zat, plumeau.  Ze rhest of us ‘ave far more sensible rheasons… [glances at Fisher] for ze most part…
Spruce: Um… right.
Merneith: The scientists!  Yes, I’m sure it’s their fault somehow!  They encourage the Pokémon in this area to take awful human medicines that are full of toxins, and they keep stopping me from convincing my people to give up their sinful and self-destructive carnivory.  I hope whatever they get out of those damn fossils is worth it to them!
Fisher: Fossils?  My good lady, did you say that there are fossils in the Glittering Caves?
Merneith: Um.  Well.  Yes.  The humans study them.
Fisher: Study?
Merneith: Yes – yes, the scientists come from Ambrette Town to break the fossils free from the rock.  Then they take them home to experiment on them.
Fisher: Experiment!?
Merneith: I’m… afraid I don’t know exactly what they do or why.  Probably treat them with chemicals to make them toxic; that’s what they do with everything else.
Fisher: Listen to me very carefully, my lady – have you ever seen a fossil in the shape of a spiral?  One that, when you looked upon its splendour, made you feel a sense of deep, perfected ease and fulfilment?
Merneith: I… don’t think I’ve ever felt anything like that from looking at a fossil.  Mostly I get that by aligning crystals along my chakras.  But… there might have been some spiral ones?  I guess?
Fisher: [gasp] This changes everything!
Ruby: Now you’ve done it…
Fisher: [to Ruby] My lady – this- the actions of these humans are an affront to all that I believe in!  This is UNHOLY!  We must confront them, and- and PURGE them from this cave!
Merneith: So… you’ll help me?
Ruby: Apparently.  Fall in line, peasant.  We may as well get some use out of your… vegetarian super-strength.
Merneith: Vegan.  Dairy is poison.
Ruby: Whatever.

Glittering Cave

Mawile: Hold your position, travellers.  If you know what’s good for you, stay away from- Merneith?  Oh, great… Merneith, is that you?  For the last time, Sandile, we can’t fight the humans with organically-grown vegetables.
Merneith: Well, I have a better plan now, Umber.  I’ve, um… brought the cavalry, so to speak.  But just for the record, none of this would have happened if you’d been paying attention to my public service announcements about the dangers of vaccines and gluten.  I told you we couldn’t trust those scientists.
Umber: The scientists have nothing to do with this, you mad lizard!  They’re hostages, just like our own people!  It’s the new group; it’s this ‘Team Flare’!
Luna: The plot thickens… who might ‘Team Flare’ be, mmm?
Umber: A syndicate of humans and Pokémon that showed up a couple of weeks ago.  They mined fossils out of the rock in huge quantities – enough to endanger the structure of the tunnels – and started abducting Pokémon when we tried to stop them.  We don’t know where they take their prisoners or why.  We just know they’re organised and dangerous.
Merneith: Wake up, Umber!  They’re obviously part of the same conspiracy as the scientists, taking advantage of how weak and pliable you and your people have gotten from exposure to their so-called ‘medicine.’
Fisher: Their intentions matter not; if they have despoiled sacred fossils, then they are heretics, and their taint shall be cleansed from this place by the divine light of Anarchy!
Umber: Hmph.  Well, enemy of my enemy, you’d better be the real thing.  If we can’t take these caves back soon, it might be time to cut and run.
Spruce: But isn’t this your home?  Aren’t you going to defend it to the last?
Umber: Eh… not if it means more of my people being imprisoned and shipped off by Team Flare for who knows what.  ‘Home’ isn’t worth that.
Ruby: And what about Mega Stones?  What are those worth to you, Mawile?
Umber: Mega…?
Ruby: Small, spherical, iridescent stones?  I have reason to believe one may have been found here recently.  I intend to claim it.  Will you stand in my way?
Umber: I’ve never heard of a “Mega Stone,” and I don’t care what you do with it, but I heard one of the human scientists found something matching that description not long before all this started.  Team Flare probably has it.
Ruby: Well, it seems you are in luck.  My almighty magic will reduce them to cinders, and you will have your dank little cave back.  Come, minions.  Glory awaits, or riches, or… whatever else it is that motivates you idiots.

Houndour: Halt!  Who goes there?  Answer, in the name of Team Flare!
Ruby: I am Ruby the Braixen, fiery jewel among Pokémon, sorceress supreme!  Perhaps you’ve heard of me?
Houndour: Ruby!?  You- you were responsible for the explosion at Sycamore Labs two weeks ago!  You were present when Route 6 was devastated by the parasite swarm! You murdered your former trainer!
Ruby: Ah, so you have heard of me? [To the others] They’ve heard of me.
Houndour: You will not interfere with our work here.  With our human partners by our side, we will bring you to justice, criminal!  For the glory of Team Flare!
Ruby: [sigh] Everyone’s a critic… so, you want to play with magic?  Fine.  Burn, dog.
Houndour: Fire cannot harm me, witch!  Your sorcery is annulled!
Ruby: Hmph.  We’ll see about that.  PSYBEAM!
Houndour: Yeah, I’m actually immune to that as well.
Ruby: …ah.
Houndour: Yep.
Ruby: …minions!  DEFEND ME!
Fisher: These fossils you have plundered are sacred and inviolable!  In the name of the Helix, I WILL STRIKE YOU DOWN!
Yvonne: And zese ‘eaps of gemstones you ‘ave uncovered are shiny and invaluable!  In ze name of naked prhofit, Ah will engulf and digest you!
Luna: That’s the spirit, chérie!  For loot, plunder, and viscera!
Merneith: Before we destroy you, have you considered the possible health benefits of an all-soy diet?  I have some pamphlets you could look at!
Spruce: Am I the only one here who just wants to help people?
All others: YES!
Spruce: Well, maybe I’ll just sit this one out, then.  See how you like that!
Luna: Suit yourself.  More for me!
Spruce: …all right, fine, I’m helping!

Fisher: Are these all the fossils you have found!?  ALL of them!?
Croagunk: I- I think so!  Except for the ones back at the scientists’ lab in Ambrette Town, and the ones we already shipped to headquarters!  Why do you even care!?
Fisher: Bah!  You ask why I care about the most sacred relics of my faith!?  I shall sear holy chaos into your very soul!  CONFUSION!
Croagunk: EEEEAAARGHrrrglglgl! [thud]
Fisher: Blessed Helix… guide me… there is power in some of these fossils still, but not all of it is holy… the Dome’s influence is here as well.  I know we must seek balance, but… is it truly your will that I wield such dark essence alongside your light?
Electrike: There’s one of them!  Come on!  Let’s get him!
Fisher: [shrug] Caution to the wind, then.  Fossils, I implore you, give me strength!  Let your power flow through me! [Fisher erlernt Dunkelklaue!] SHADOW CLAW!

Ruby: Argh… where is it, where is it?
Fisher: My lady, please… these are sacred relics, and you toss them aside like worthless rubbish in your search for the stone.  This place ought to be a hallowed temple.  Take a little care, if only for my sake.
Ruby: It’s not here!  Curses!  Gulpin!  Did you swallow my Mega Stone while gorging yourself on loot?
Yvonne: If Ah ‘ad your prhecious rhock, sorcière, Ah would now be selling it to you at an exorbitant prhice.
Ruby: Damn it!  All this work for nothing!
Merneith: Not nothing, sorceress – my people are saved, and all the other Pokémon of this cave as well!  They’re still brainwashed, of course, but I’ve done all I can to lead them… if you’re going to keep travelling and fighting to overcome the limitations put on us by the humans, I’d be honoured to join you!
Ruby: All this work for nothing!
Luna: Ah, there you all are!  I suppose we’ll be heading for the lab in Ambrette Town now?
Ruby: The lab?  Why?  What are you talking about, Luna?
Luna: Oh, you didn’t know?  I… persuaded one of the scientists’ Pokémon to reveal the location of the stone – the humans call it an Aerodactylite, by the way.  He said it was taken back to the lab before this business with Team Flare ever started.  I felt sure the whole cave must have heard his screams.
Spruce: You tortured him for information!?
Luna: No, bird, I tortured him for my personal amusement.  The information was largely incidental.
Spruce: Oh.
Luna: I don’t understand how you keep being surprised by this sort of thing.

Ambrette Town

Fisher: I sense little of the sacred power of the Helix within most of the fossils here… though it pains me somewhat, they can be left to the humans.  But this one… what did they call it?
Merneith: A Sail Fossil.
Fisher: Yes.  This one has great spiritual energy.  I will have to bring it with us, so I may guard it myself on our journey.
Merneith: You’re not going to stay here, then?  Set up that temple you were talking about?
Fisher: It is tempting, I admit, but such an existence, while peaceful, would be much too… orderly… for a Blessed Apostle of the Helix such as myself.  No, now that the immediate threat is dealt with, I must continue my journey, and send an epistle to my church to request that more priests be sent to see to the fossils’ ongoing protection.  What of you, my lady?  Am I to understand you will be joining our group?
Merneith: Eh.  I’ll reach more people on the road.  My people just don’t want to hear what I have to say about the huge benefits of the organic, gluten-free, homeopathic lifestyle.  And maybe by travelling I can get closer to the heart of the great human conspiracy that’s convinced Pokémon to guzzle toxins with every meal.  Just, um… make sure your human doesn’t take me to one of those ‘Pokémon Centres.’  Those things are deathtraps; I’ll take care of my own injuries and sicknesses with traditional methods, thank you very much.
Fisher: I will strive to see your wishes respected.  It is good to have you with us.
Ruby: [Elsewhere in the building] AH-HAHAHAHAHAHA!
Luna: Sounds like she’s found it…
Ruby: [Enters the room] Ah… finally… the Aerodactylite… now to unlock its power.  You should all probably stand back.  Um.  Not that I particularly care what happens to you, just… it’s so hard to find competent inferiors.  Now… watch in awe as my pure will channels the inner wellspring of magical energy within this artefact!
Spruce: [to Merneith] You should probably duck.
Merneith: Why?
Spruce: Just… seriously, duck.  And uh… maybe don’t look directly at her.  Actually, I might just leave the-
Ruby: [Fizzle-BING] …huh.  Well… that felt… disappointing.  Do… do I now possess unlimited arcane might?
Yvonne: ‘ow should we know?  You are ze sorcerhess.
Ruby: Try hitting me or something, and see what happens.
Luna: [grins] With pleasure.
Ruby: NOT YOU.  Fisher, come here.  Just try to hit me.
Fisher: As you will, my lady.
Ruby: OW!  Not so hard, idiot!  Bah!  This stone is useless.  This has all been a waste of-
Spruce: Ruby… Ruby, look – the… the fossil…
Ruby: What about the- oh.  Oh.
Amaura: …I… I live?  What… what strange new dawn is this?  What pallid day breaketh now upon mine eyes, beyond the doors of oblivion?  Hark, thou brilliant creature of flame – art thou my saviour, or yet further torment?
Ruby: …uh…
Spruce: [nudges her] Your line, Ruby.
Ruby: I know, I know!  I- ah- I am Ruby the Braixen, fiery jewel among Pokémon, sorceress supreme!
Spruce: Perhaps you’ve heard of her.
Ruby: I really doubt he has.
Amaura: Sorceress?  Then… then by some dev’lish magic thou hast snatchèd me from death’s embrace?
Ruby: I… think so?
Fisher: You… you are magnificent… a vision of the Helix’s glory, a fossil reborn into this world!  Radiant one, will you grace us with your name?
Amaura: Shall my true name bind me to thy mistress’ will as though some contract of base servitude?
Ruby: …probably not?
Amaura: Then you may know me as Boreas.  How… how long is it since I last did breathe?  Why hast thou done this?
Ruby: Well… to be perfectly frank with you it’s not quite what I expected to happen.
Merneith: Ruby!  All the bone fragments from the humans’ lab have been reanimated!  They’re- by the gods, the chief researcher just got clubbed to death by a flying tibia!
Ruby: …ah.  Yes, this… this is much more in line with our previous experiences.  Well.  Our work here is done.  We’d best get going.  Quick now!  Out the back door!
Yvonne: Wait…where is Luna?
Merneith: The Skitty?  She was just here a moment ago…
Yvonne: ‘As no-one been watching ‘er!?  Putain de merde!  Check your pockets, all of you!
Spruce: We don’t have-
Yvonne: Zen check ze ‘uman’s pockets, crétin!  Must Ah explain everyzing to you?
Spruce: Hey!  I was sure we had a nugget and a star piece in here!
Ruby: The Aerodactylite!  It’s gone!  Why, that thieving little-!
Merneith: I don’t want to alarm anyone but, uh, there’s an awfully large skull massing a force of ribs and vertebrae on the other side of this door…
Ruby: Argh!  Come on; we have to move.  We’ll deal with Luna later…

Chris: Okay, okay, I get it; we’re going out the back way!  Gee, Ruby, you sure are bossy!  Don’t you even want to say goodbye to the nice scientists?  Ow!  Fine, okay; I understand – you’re just excited about getting to Cyllage City for our next gym battle!  Let’s go!

The Team:

Ruby the Rutena (Braixen)
Female, Bold nature, level 20, Großbrand (Blaze)
Kratzer (Scratch), Psystrahl (Psybeam), Nitroladung (Flame Charge), Jauler (Howl)

Spruce the Tauboga (Pidgeotto)
Male, Rash nature, level 20, Adlerauge (Keen Eye)
Wirbelwind (Whirlwind), Sandwirbel (Sand Attack), Windstoß (Gust), Ruckzuckhieb (Quick Attack)

Fisher the Enton (Psyduck)
Male, Brave nature, level 20, Wolke Sieben (Cloud Nine)
Aussetzer (Disable), Dunkelklaue (Shadow Claw), Konfusion, Aquawelle (Water Pulse)

Yvonne the Schluppuck (Gulpin)
Female, Rash nature, level 20, Wertehalter (Sticky Hold)
Pfund (Pound), Gähner (Yawn), Amnesie (Amnesia), Schlammbad (Sludge)

Merneith the Ganovil (Sandile)
Female, Bashful nature, level 20, Hochmut (Moxie)
Biss (Bite), Lehmschelle (Mud Slap), Folterknecht (Torment), Sandgrab (Sand Tomb)

Boreas the Amarino (Amaura)
Male, Mild nature, level 20, Frostschicht (Refrigerate)
Natur-Kraft (Nature Power), Bodycheck (Take Down), Weißnebel (Mist), Aurorastrahl (Aurora Beam)

I’m not going to keep updating you on the status of my “currently inactive” Pokémon anymore, because there are now more of them than are in my party and it’s going to become ridiculous.  You’re not missing out on anything, really.  I assume that they have their own lives and adventures happening in the background, which may become relevant if they ever (re)join the team, and accordingly I train them against wild Pokémon to keep them at a comparable level to the main party – it simply wouldn’t make sense for them to be staying static this whole time, particularly for characters like Bodkin or Luna who obviously have quite adventurous lifestyles normally, or Temperance, whom we last saw going off to fight the parasite swarm unleashed by Melissa’s death.  Besides, the level grinding gives me something to do while the story catches up with the events of the game (I prefer not to know what’s going to happen very far in advance).  I’ve adopted a rule that Pokémon cannot die ‘off-screen,’ though – Ruby isn’t going to get a Holo-Caster message about Lavoisier randomly being blown up in a lab accident because I wasn’t paying attention while grinding.  That privilege is reserved for the active party!

Graveyard:

Melissa the Bibor (Beedrill)
Female, Jolly nature, level 16, Hexaplaga (Swarm)
Giftstachel (Poison Sting), Duonadel (Twineedle), Energiefokus (Focus Energy), Furienschlag (Fury Attack)

Next episode.

Amaura and Aurorus

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.

 Not-Aurorus, a.k.a. Amargasaurus, a (probably) sail-necked sauropod from the early Cretaceous period.

Sauropods followed a very straightforward evolutionary strategy: just get so big that nothing will ever dare to f#@& with you.  They may have been the largest animals ever to exist, though it’s hard to tell because the biggest ones are known only from two or three bones each (and what might have been the largest of all, a femur and vertebra designated Amphicoelias fragillimus, were mysteriously lost by their discoverer Edward Drinker Cope, the Worst Palaeontologist Ever, back in the 1870s, making their size impossible to verify).  Certainly they dwarfed all other known land animals.  Sauropods seem to have been browsers, processing vast quantities of leaves in their enormous stomachs to sustain their oversized bodies, though funnily enough they were actually more closely related to the predominantly carnivorous theropods than to any of the other well-known herbivorous groups like stegosaurs or ceratopids.  As well as the distinctive long neck, Aurorus has the tapering whip-like tail that characterises most of the larger sauropods; contrast the stumpy tails of Meganium and Tropius.  The ice crystals on her sides make me think specifically of Saltasaurus, one of the last members of the sauropod lineage, who lived in what is now South America.  Saltasaurus was much smaller than some of its relatives (although still pretty enormous!), but made up for it with a neat new armour plating adaptation, not as heavy as what its ankylosaur contemporaries had, but perhaps enough to deter the few predators who weren’t put off by its size alone.  The pair of sails on the neck is an interesting touch; as far as I’ve been able to find out, only one sauropod genus has been reconstructed with a sail – Amargasaurus, who also seems to be referenced by Aurorus’ Japanese, French and German names – and even that’s a touch speculative because, of course, the sail is made of soft tissue and doesn’t fossilise, so all we get is the bony spines that would have supported it.  The most popular guess at the purpose of this structure, and similar ones in unrelated dinosaurs like Spinosaurus, is that it had something to do with heat regulation, giving the animals a larger surface area to radiate excess heat in the relatively warm climate of the Cretaceous period.  That makes their presence on an Ice Pokémon who explicitly lived in cold places rather curious – maybe in Aurorus they served the reverse function, allowing her to drain heat more efficiently from her surroundings.

Aurora Borealis (literally "northern dawn") over Finland.

 

Like most fossil Pokémon who are given dates, Amaura and Aurorus are assigned to the suspiciously round number “100 million years ago,” which would put them in the middle of the Cretaceous, although what exactly that means in the context of the Pokémon world is anyone’s guess.  They lived in very remote, inhospitable regions of the world, with no natural predators (or at least, none big enough to go after them), and as a result are extremely trusting, gentle creatures.  One can only speculate as to whether their eventual extinction had anything to do with that.  As Ice Pokémon, they are most at home in the cold and can create zones of frigid air; Aurorus also has the more unusual ability to throw up walls of ice that block incoming attacks.  Perhaps their most distinctive feature, however, has nothing to do with the cold at all: their connection with auroras, the spectacular glowing ribbons of light often visible in the sky at extreme northern and southern latitudes around the Earth’s magnetic poles, which represent high-energy ions captured by the Earth’s magnetic field returning to their ground states.  The phenomenon is referenced by the shifting colours of Amaura and Aurorus’ iridescent sails.  The games don’t seem to do much with this, beyond the vague association of auroras with cold parts of the world that also gives us the Ice-type attack Aurora Beam.  The anime, however, claims that Amaura and Aurorus’ voices can influence magnetic fields, allowing them to create localised auroras that serve as long-distance signals.  The neat thing about this is that it also gives Aurorus her most important non-Ice-type powers: she can learn several Electric attacks, which is a major selling point if you want to use her in a fight.  I actually wonder whether it would have made more sense for Aurorus to be Ice/Electric, which would have made it easier to emphasise the aurora themes in her design, but of course all fossil Pokémon have to be Rock-types because of Reasons, so let’s just leave it there.

 Aurorus.

Being a fossil Pokémon, then, Aurorus has the type combination Rock/Ice, which is unique to her and Amaura.  Defensively, this is kind of painful; she has a lot of weaknesses and few useful resistances.  This is doubly unfortunate as she’s built as a tank, with a huge HP stat, good special attack and special defence, passable defence, and poor speed.  The fact that there are still no good Rock-type special attacks is another strike against Aurorus; if you want a Rock attack, you’re going to have to go with the rather weak Ancientpower.  Luckily though, her access to Thunderbolt as back-up for her Ice attacks means that type coverage is not a huge problem for Aurorus.  The list of Pokémon capable of resisting both halves of the traditional ‘bolt-beam’ combination has gradually expanded over the years, but is still a very short one: Magneton and Magnezone, Rotom’s washing machine and toaster forms, Lanturn with Volt Absorb, Mamoswine with Thick Fat, and Seaking with Lightningrod (and let’s be honest here, if your opponents decide to put Seaking on their teams just to counter Aurorus then they most likely have bigger problems).  Dark Pulse, Flash Cannon and Psychic are all available to fill out Aurorus’ moveset, and she can even use Calm Mind to build momentum, but her poor physical defence and inability to heal don’t do her any favours for that style, and defensive Ice-types have historically been uninspiring.  Maybe something with Rest, Sleep Talk and Charge Beam would be amusing.  Reflect might help her survive a bit longer if she can avoid Fighting and Steel attacks, and Thunder Wave is sure to ruin someone’s day; I think those are probably better choices than Calm Mind.  Alternatively, you can try to take advantage of her strong offensive movepool and reasonable power to Rock Polish your way to victory – she still won’t be very fast and her attack power will be stretched very thin, but she won’t be as slow as usual, and you might just surprise someone, especially as she’s not all that easy to take out with a single attack (again, barring Fighting and Steel moves).

Aurorus’ little flirtation with uniqueness is the Refrigerate ability, which turns all of her Normal attacks into Ice attacks and increases their power by 30%.  She doesn’t have very many Normal-type special attacks to choose from, sadly; in fact she’s one of the few Pokémon for whom people are willing to consider Hyper Beam, something which I bring up mainly to advise against it.  The sheer power of a Refrigerated Hyper Beam is attractive mainly for its capacity to one-shot things that would otherwise have an extra turn to hit you, or that might stall with Leftovers, Recover, Protect, or similar; on the other hand, being disabled for a turn, unable even to switch out, puts not only Aurorus but potentially your entire team in jeopardy if your opponent decides to send in a set-up sweeper that Aurorus can’t immediately kill.  I won’t say you should never use it, especially since Aurorus isn’t exactly starved for type coverage, but Hyper Beam always looks better on paper than it performs in reality, put it that way.  A much better option is Tri-Attack.  If you take a look, you won’t actually find Tri-Attack anywhere in Aurorus’ movepool, but Nature Power will act as Tri-Attack most of the time in link and Wi-Fi battles (the exception is when either you or your opponent has decided to use one of the new terrain-altering moves, in which case Nature Power will end up being Thunderbolt, Energy Ball or Moonblast instead, but those aren’t common) and be significantly stronger than Ice Beam (and they’re both TMs, so you can always swap in Ice Beam for wandering around the game world).  Ultimately, Aurorus winds up getting a 15% increase in power over a Pokémon who just uses Ice Beam.  It’s nothing to write home about, but it’s nice, and since her hidden ability hasn’t been released yet (and might never be, knowing Game Freak), you may as well take it.  The hidden ability, incidentally, is Snow Warning and will make her only the second Pokémon in the game with automatic Hail.  Hail was always the least useful weather type, and it possibly suffered the most from the now-limited durations of the automatic weather abilities, since the best Pokémon to take advantage of Hail are stall-oriented things like Walrein.  Still, it’s a rare ability and will also let Aurorus use 100% accurate Blizzards, so if it’s ever released, that’s probably the one you want to go with.

Aurorus is a bit of a sad comment on how badly Ice-types get screwed over by the type chart; there is almost no conceivable battle role where their near-total lack of resistances isn’t a problem for them.  In her case this is doubly tragic since Game Freak have gone to such effort to justify giving her a wide variety of useful attacks that make sense with her design.  She’s far from the most unique or interesting design of the generation – to be honest, “cute dinosaur” pretty much sums her up, not unlike Meganium, although the aurora thing is quite clever as a way of supporting what they wanted her to be able to do – but I don’t think I’d call her bad, and it’s a shame she doesn’t have a lot to back it up.

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.