All 11 chapters in a single article (Patreon patrons only)
Hippowdon’s feet thudded imperiously as the enormous sand-beast stared down Macargo. A third Hippowdon’s length and already strained from cleverly defeating Jessie’s Gyarados, the lava-snail nevertheless faced Hippowdon with determination. Hippowdon’s stride quickened into a gallop, charging for Macargo. The fiery mollusk couldn’t possibly get out of the way, at her lazy clip…but that didn’t concern her trainer.
From behind her Macargo in a dramatically shadowed alcove, the Lavaridge City gym leader shouted a command: “Lava Plume!” Macargo began to glow, her gloppy substance expanding into a red-hot puddle around her. Magargo’s lava flesh exploded upward and outward in a volcanic fury…just as Hippowdon closed the gap. The Lava Plume blasted the enormous Pokémon back to his starting point at the other end of the Gym Leader’s arena, scalded but still conscious. As he lumbered back to his feet, the Gym Leader addressed her challenger:
“Have you recognized your mistake yet, puny trainer?” She paused, a flash of panic crossing her face, and continued, “Underestimating me is a rookie mistake!” Another pause. “My grandfather was in the Elite Four and I train in volcanoes! None can stand before me!”
Jessie, standing opposite the Gym Leader in a crisp blue button-down shirt and matching skirt, muttered to themself, “I wish I hadn’t underestimated your mouth.” Flannery Asuna had indeed proven more of an opponent than they expected, and made sure they would work for their Heat Badge. Her Macargo had evaded their Gyarados’s opening Aqua Tail and responded with a Rock Slide that nearly defeated Gyarados all at once, and even now, the lava snail was defying another well-advantaged Pokémon. Jessie got Hippowdon’s attention with a shouted move: “Dig!”
Jane, sitting in an observation area behind Jessie in denim shorts and a tank top the same shade of green as her eyes, leaned forward with a knowing smile, and continued to hold her Arcanine, Growly, like a shield against collateral fire. Meowth peered over Growly’s mane. Hippowdon splayed his feet, and the impact of his bulk cracked the arena floor. A flurry of motion his ponderous movements on the surface would not have presaged, he tunneled into the arena as though it were sand, disappearing from sight. Macargo looked around warily, sliding across the cracked floor, and received Hippowdon crashing up from beneath her like a desert shark. Jessie wasted no time, and shouted another technique: “Sand Tomb!” A whirlwind of grit spun out of Hippowdon’s mouth, encasing Macargo and dragging her across the arena. It deposited the lava snail, shell cracked and semisolid body flayed to the magma, at Flannery’s feet, unconscious.
Flannery looked surprised, but shook herself back to confidence. “Very impressive, challenger, but my next Poké—”
An earthquake jolted the three humans and four Pokémon, sending all but Hippowdon to the ground. Bits of powdered stone fell from the ceiling where it had cracked, and all three noticed a subtle tilt in the entire room that hadn’t been there before. Flannery, shocked, asked Jessie, “Did you do that?”
“Of course not! Why would I—”
“Then we’d better get moving,” Flannery intoned as she stepped out of her shadowed stage and recalled Macargo. She came into view in stages, first her flared jeans, then the rosy skin of her exposed midriff, the button-down black shirt tied below a red bandeau with an orange flame motif, and finally, her red-earth eyes and plume of hair slightly lighter than Jessie’s. “That wasn’t a natural quake. We’ll finish this later.”
“You felt that too, didn’t you?” Lucy asked her Pokémon. Looking out her kitchen window at the trembling waters of Hoenn’s eastern sea, she felt her menagerie nod. Smiling to herself, she thought, There’s so many of you now, before walking to her bedroom and drawing the curtains. She opened her closet and pushed an overcoat aside to reveal her trademark ensemble. As she shed her nightshirt and took her usual high-necked crop top off of its hanger, she gave instructions to the crowd of Pokémon that had mostly followed her in.
“Seviper, find Milotic and Hydreigon.” An enormous serpent with imposing fangs and a bladed tail slithered out of the crowd and out the kitchen window. “I’m leaving Ibara to take care of the rest of you. Hariyama, Kadabra, Onix, Typhlosion, Zweilous: you five are on Battle Pike duty until I get back. Make sure Ibara knows it’s your turn. The rest of you still have exercise and sparring routines to maintain, not to mention some cracked dishes to tidy.” Lucy adjusted her top and hair and retrieved her pants and signature belt patterned like a Seviper’s shield-scales. “I’m going away for a while.”
Lizabeth woke slowly, stretching her arms with a loud yawn. She immediately knew something was wrong. She saw, not the wooden walls and bare floor of her Pacifidlog Town home, but a room clad in steel and ceramic tile. She stirred, and she was shorter than she remembered, her body balanced oddly. She looked down at herself and gasped, climbing back up her bed and up the adjacent wall. Her left hand was a chrome-plated prosthesis, and her breasts were gone. On her nightstand she saw, instead of the purse where she kept her Pokéballs, a thin belt bearing two that she could instantly tell were not hers. At the other end of the room, she saw a fluorescent lamp providing light to two plants, a bamboo and a flowering cactus. She descended to the floor and immediately fell on her face, her legs not cooperating, and another look showed why. Her left leg, like her left arm, was artificial, a spring-loaded device that she’d have to get used to. She staggered with increasing adroitness to the mirror at the nearby dressing table, and gasped.
A young man’s face, on a young man’s body, looked back at her. His features were fine like hers, and he had her rich brown complexion, but he was not her. She had never seen him before, nor this shiny, windowless room. Confused, she eased into a set of his green pants and a matching shirt, put on his Pokéball belt, and approached his door. It slid open when her feet touched the tile in front of it, revealing a wide, gently curving hallway made of similar materials. Ahead, two swarms of metal ants the size of small dogs carried rocks upward and electrical equipment downward, often holding items many times their own size. Semi-humanoid, lobster-like creatures she recognized as Scizors stood impassive, rarely moving, and every few minutes, the steely bulk of a lizard-like Lairon or dinosaur-like Aggron would stomp down the hallway, always with a human handler nearby. The inner side of the hallway was glassed, and between the columns, Lizabeth could make out a spiral of Magnemites and Magnetons slowly rotating, linked with rapid flashes of lightning. She walked across the hall between groups, drawing no attention, and looked down the glass shaft. After dozens of floors much like this one, each on a subtle tilt that linked them in a spiral, she saw the telltale brown of earth and gray of rock that told her the shaft descended into the bedrock. On an upper floor, she saw two people wearing clothes similar to hers wielding devices that looked like two-way radios at a levitating sword. The sword’s tassel raised and lowered, each raise coinciding with the gathering of shadowy energy in its hand-like fringe, but eventually did not rise again. Seemingly satisfied, the two people continued escorting the sword downward. Increasingly concerned, she walked across the hall again to look out a window. Set between “her” bedroom and another, the window showed a view she recognized, north across the water to Ever Grande City.
Lizabeth began to worry, and she returned to the bedroom. Her unfamiliar body was beginning to disturb her, feeling more and more foreign by the moment, but more importantly…what sort of dream was this? She sat on the bed and put her head in her hands. A red spark crossed her vision, and when she opened her eyes again, she was in her bedroom in Pacifidlog Town, her purse in her hand, looking at wooden walls, a brilliant ocean view, and a very confused Gorebyss and Corsola.
Elvis’s eyes snapped open, still tense from a restless sleep, like they usually did every morning. Instead of the shiny steel and tile ceiling of his room in Ortolan’s tower, he found himself between wooden walls in the tropics, with light blue bedsheets instead of his usual green. He sat upright, and immediately, his body felt different. His whole body felt lighter, despite being apparently taller than he remembered, with the exception of his chest. He looked down, and blinked in shock. He wore a sea-green nightgown over obviously feminine curves, beautiful and most definitely not his. He began to shake, and stood stiffly, immediately falling to the floor as he came to sudden terms with the fact that his left leg no longer worked the way he remembered. He staggered to the small bathroom he could see from the bed and looked closely at his new form.
Long blue hair framed a face with the same brown complexion he’d had yesterday, flowing down to his hips. The nightgown’s V-shaped neckline and scooped waist showed his new figure well, and his newly blue eyes wandered across his new legs and feet.
Elvis expected to be horrified, or at least worried, but he wasn’t. Sunlight streamed in through the open window, and he ambled over and stuck his head out, feeling the radiant heat and the salty breeze. He had smelled these smells before, long ago, but today they were more powerful, more poignant, more real. Involuntarily, his hands felt the satiny garment, and he flung himself back-first onto the bed, rubbing his legs together, reveling in the sleek softness.
If I am to be taunted by this lovely dream, I can at least enjoy it, he thought, feeling his mind strangely unclouded. He felt his new curves, ran his fingers through his hair, touched his face and neck, the occasional gleeful giggle exiting his mouth. He turned his head and saw a purse on “his” nightstand, expression changing from delight to befuddlement. Reaching for it, Elvis noticed it contained two Net Balls. These aren’t Pangoro and Swadloon, he thought. He poured them into his left hand, and dropped them as the hand defied his instinctive sense of how it should work. Both Pokéballs activated, releasing into the room a gigantic pink fish with a pointed snout and two scallop shells on its underside, and a rotund coralline creature with a pink dorsal and white ventral surface, four stubby legs, and two short arms. Both smiled and hugged him, but then recoiled, sensing something amiss.
“Hi, uh…” he began as he sat up, facing the two Pokémon and the window, unsurprised and delighted at his new dulcet voice. “This is going to sound odd, but…I need you to tell me who I am.”
Gorebyss reared in concern, and Corsola stammered out in repetitions of its name, “You’re Lizabeth, from the People of the Water. Are you okay?”
“I don’t know,” Elvis answered. “This is all so strange.” He looked out the window, and then bent over, his hands landing loosely on his feet as his head came to rest between his knees. “But it’s all so nice,” he continued, slowly rising into a sitting position. He briefly glimpsed what looked like a long tail or antenna, whose round end released red lightning at him. When the spark hit, his vision went black, and then he was in his steel-and-ceramic room, in his green uniform, with his head between his hands and an all too familiar body around his brain. He sighed.