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, 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.

Tyrunt and Tyrantrum

Tyrunt.

DID SOMEONE SAY MORE DINOSAURS OH BY THE GODS I HOPE THEY DID

F#$% YES

*Ahem*

…where were we?

As I mentioned briefly last time, we have a sort-of-Tyrannosaurus Pokémon already – Tyranitar, whose English name is something of a tip-off – but in many respects he seems to be more Tyrannosaurus-by-way-of-Godzilla, the classic Japanese movie monster.  The spikes on Tyranitar’s neck and shoulders recall the stegosaur-like plates that run down Godzilla’s spine, and he is persistently described as almost a destructive force of nature, flattening mountains in his rage, not unlike some depictions of the King of Monsters.  To me, maybe the most obvious resemblance is actually the way they hold their bodies.  Tyrannosaurus, like many other dinosaurs, was believed until the mid-20th century to have walked upright (and was depicted that way in most popular media until the 1990s), with its tail dragging along the ground to steady it, almost like a third leg.  Today, palaeontologists believe that tyrannosaurs actually walked with their bodies parallel to the ground, their tails sticking straight out behind them for balance.  Japanese depictions of Godzilla, who made his debut in the 1950s, followed the old interpretation.  1998 Roland Emmerich Godzilla, the first American version, who was slammed by fans for his lack of resemblance to the original, often adopts a more anatomically correct tyrannosaur posture (influenced, I dare to speculate, by the T-Rex from Jurassic Park, whose cultural reach far exceeds that of her puny arms), while 2014 Gareth Edwards Godzilla reverts to something more like the ‘traditional’ upright stance (based on the pictures I’ve been able to find online at least; I haven’t seen the movie).  Tyranitar, of course, is upright just like most versions of Godzilla, while Tyrunt follows real tyrannosaurs in his horizontal posture.  Tyrantrum’s body seems to do a weird sort of sine-wave thing, but the tail held out stiffly behind him definitely has more in common with the modern understanding of tyrannosaur anatomy.  Other things Tyrunt and Tyrantrum share with Tyrannosaurus are their distinctive adorable tiny two-fingered arms and enormous definitely-not-adorable crushy-death-jaws filled with hyper-murder-knives, appropriately enough for a Pokémon based on a creature that may have had the greatest bite force of any land animal ever to exist (as far as such things can be estimated from fossil evidence, at any rate).  Tyrantrum adds a golden ‘crown’ of horns and a ruff of white… spines?  Bristles?  Feathers?  Let’s go with feathers; we like theropods with feathers now.  I don’t think anyone’s ever actually found solid evidence for feathers on Tyrannosaurus specifically, but given the rarity of that level of preservation, and the fact that we know of similar related genera with feathers, like Yutyrannus, I’m happy to run with it (they’re also particularly auspicious this week, given the recent discovery of the ‘four-winged’ Changyuraptor, the largest known dinosaur believed to have been capable of flight).

DID I MENTION I LIKE DINOSAURS YET BECAUSE I DO

 Exhibit A: 'Classic' Godzilla with the upright lumbering giant posture of an early 20th century depiction of T. Rex.  Exhibit B: 1998 Roland Emmerich Godzilla, displaying the horizontal posture and straight tail of modern versions of Tyrannosaurus.

The other half to what’s going on with Tyrunt and Tyrantrum comes, of course, from the English meaning of the species name Tyrannosaurus rex – “tyrant lizard king.”  ‘Tyrant’ comes from the ancient Greek word τύραννος, which means- well… it’s complicated, but basically a sole ruler whose power is established and sustained by the support of the merchant and soldier classes, often in opposition to a preexisting landowning aristocracy or warrior elite.  The word doesn’t appear to have inherent pejorative force in early Greek, but picks up some decidedly negative connotations in the hyper-democratic atmosphere of Classical Athens and has kept them ever since, so that calling someone a ‘tyrant’ today evokes a slew of adjectives you could probably supply for yourselves – ‘oppressive,’ ‘self-centred,’ ‘capricious’ and ‘cruel’ all come to mind.  Tyrantrum’s species designation, the ‘Despot Pokémon,’ has a similar effect (in combination with more generically ‘royal’ features, like his ‘crown,’ ruffed ‘collar’ and white ‘beard’) – and this is what they’re like.  Tyrunt and Tyrantrum react with violence to any sort of disagreement or obstruction.  I would say that their arrogance and selfishness represent the worst excesses of the Dragon-type, except that it’s a little difficult to beat Hydreigon.  Still, their attitude reminds me more than a little of Clair’s tantrum after losing to the player in Gold and Silver, refusing to hand over her Rising Badge.  A lot of iconic Dragon Pokémon are characterised by an excess of vitality and a propensity to extreme emotions of one kind or another, and Tyrantrum fits that to a T.  One last thing I entirely forgot to talk about when doing Aurorus, which strikes my attention now, is that Tyrantrum and Aurorus seem to be set up in a day/night duality in the same way as Espeon and Umbreon – both of them have evolutionary paths sensitive to the time of day.  I’m not entirely sure why this is; for Aurorus there is a kind of sense to it, since auroras are normally visible only at night.  Tyrantrum’s royal ‘crown’ could be interpreted as a solar symbol, I suppose.  Either that, or day and night are stand-ins for yang (bright, active, masculine, dominating, like Tyrantrum) and yin (dark, restful, feminine, passive, like Aurorus), or some similar concept.  Certainly Tyrantrum has no sun- or light-related powers that would make sense of it.  Anyway, powers; let’s talk about those.

Unsurprisingly, Tyrantrum is a bruiser, with excellent physical attack and defence.  He’s not fast by any stretch of the imagination, but nor is he catastrophically slow, and he will outrun many defensive Pokémon who haven’t had speed training.  Rock/Dragon isn’t exactly good as a type combination, especially now that Pokémon is no longer instant-awesome-just-add-dragons, but it certainly beats Aurorus’ Rock/Ice any day; it also helps that only two Fairy Pokémon (Klefki and Mawile) resist Rock attacks, and that almost none of them have really good physical defences.  He probably wants some kind of speed boost to deal with stuff that actually cares about moving fast; that could be a Choice Scarf but more likely will be Dragon Dance or Rock Polish, both of which you can breed onto him – or you could just say “screw it” and go with Curse, banking on his defensive strength to help carry the day, though I wouldn’t really advise it since his special defence is really quite bad.  Stone Edge, Dragon Claw (pity he doesn’t get Outrage, which would make perfect sense given his temper, but oh well) and Earthquake are your basic options for killing stuff, but the interesting parts come from Tyrantrum’s Strong Jaw ability, which – again, appropriately for a Tyrannosaurus – increases the strength of all biting attacks by 50%.  Strong Jaw makes Thunder Fang, Fire Fang and Ice Fang, which are normally too weak to bother with except in the most desperate situations (i.e. your name is pre-generation VI Flareon and you haven’t already killed yourself), into solid choices for filling out Tyrantrum’s moveset.  Dragon and Fire remain a nice combination, although not nearly as powerful now that Fairy Pokémon have made Dragon attacks a much less secure choice and added Azumarill to the list of Pokémon who resist both types.  Fire Fang is even readily available in combination with Dragon Dance, both inherited moves, thanks to Tyranitar (likewise Thunder Fang and Ice Fang).  Tyrantrum’s Crunch is extremely strong thanks to the ability boost, and gives him good option for most Steel-types, who resist his primary attacks (Fairy-types are again unfortunate, though).  Finally, Poison Fang is there, but it’s still a bit weak even with the Strong Jaw bonus and fails to exceed Stone Edge’s damage output against most Fairy-types (or Grass-types, for that matter), so unless you really like poisoning things, you should probably just leave that one alone.

 Tyrantrum.

Unfortunately for Strong Jaw, Tyrantrum (like Aurorus) has a hidden ability which, when and if it is made available, will pretty much make his more unique and interesting ability obsolete: Rock Head.  Rock Head grants immunity to recoil damage, and Tyrantrum happens to learn the most catastrophic recoil attack in the game, Rampardos’ signature move Head Smash, and unlike Relicanth, who gets the same combination, Tyrantrum has the wherewithal to really abuse it.  Get a Dragon Dance off and that $#!t maims damn near anything, resistance or no.  Or… y’know.  It will.  If Game Freak gets around to it.  Using Rock Head means you don’t have the elemental fang attacks as viable options, while Crunch is more of a side-show, but Dragon Claw and Earthquake still leave you with plenty to fill out a moveset with fairly strong coverage.  Of course, even Head Smash and a Dragon Dance boost would still leave Tyrantrum with unfortunate weaknesses to Fighting, Ground and Fairy attacks, all common and all dangerous.  He’s very much an Ursaring-Druddigon-Golurk style Pokémon: seriously brutal physical attacks, but not a whole lot else going for him (well, you could try Stealth Rock and Dragon Tail as a support Tyrantrum, but the words ‘support Tyrantrum’ just sound so weird in my mouth that they make me uneasy).  In particular, he’s too slow to survive without speed bonuses, but unlike those three he’s also too fast to function particularly well in a Trick Room.  The key word here is ‘sledgehammer,’ and there are, unfortunately, better sledgehammers available in this game who aren’t quite as vulnerable to a wide variety of common attack types.  Still, you really could do worse than this thing; his damage output is frightening, if nothing else.

Tyrunt and Tyrantrum are pretty straightforward Pokémon, really.  It’s hard not to see the appeal in a Tyrannosaurus Pokémon, and the royalty aesthetic is a nice touch that adds character while being subtle enough to avoid what could have been obvious stupidity.  They’re not complicated or deep designs, but then a Tyrannosaurus isn’t really a complicated or deep animal: it bites things; they die.  Like Aurorus, Tyrantrum has severe limitations, and it’s particularly unfortunate that a Rock/Dragon-type happened to come along now, with Steel attacks on the rise and Dragon Pokémon weaker than they’ve ever been before.  Ultimately, it’s hard not to return to the Tyranitar comparisons and, unsurprisingly for a Pokémon based on a mutated movie-monster version of Tyrannosaurus, he mostly does the same things as Tyrantrum but better.  It’s a shame most biting attacks are so weak to begin with; all Strong Jaw really does is bring them up to par.  Still, Tyrantrum is hardly unusable – and we can always pray for the day his Rock Head becomes available.

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.