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PokéBattles Foxfire: The Fanfic 2.023

Creation Crisis

First published May 27, 2023

~ Act 1 ~

First published May 27, 2023

Location: Mt. Winter Cave

"And so, with Little Red Writing Hood defeated, Valkyrie and Kasparov began to write, and the cycle of life began anew. A new world rose from the ashes of the Nothing, and though its pace was glacial it lasted another five years before the final collapse of GeoCities and the true end of the world... and I only came into the picture another twelve years later."

Hiber glanced up from the storybook - Myths of the World Before - to see the goat-child she was speaking to had already fallen asleep. "Well, that's fine. I have a fic to write anyway." The great overgrown fox clapped the book shut and set it away before rising and heading back out into the lair antechamber.

... Only to be met with the sight of something terrible out of the past. A red-cloaked figure with an aura of menace surrounding her - middle aged, but a perilous and dangerous being nonetheless, with a red cloak and a menacing--

"... Iron Mask? ... Well, if it isn't the best original villain I ever wrote, what brings you--"

Hiber was interrupted with what looked like a single strike, as the figure stepped forward and slashed. A moment later, it was appeared to be far from a single strike, as the fox went to pieces on the ground in a pile of nothing but fluff and fire. Predictably for the immortal fox, this promptly reassembled itself properly. "... I don't think I quite deserved that..."

That earned the fox another instantaneous flurry of slashes, as Iron Mask glared from behind iron plate. "Deserved... You deserve so much worse than this. How dare you. How dare you create me, abandon me unpublished - three times now! - and then act like some sort of proud creator. You abandoned me and left me for dead in the world of forgotten ideas." Another furious cut, then another, and another, even as the overgrown fox regenerated from each that came before...

...eventually, the vicious slashes stopped, and Hiber regenerated once more. "... Well, if you're trying to kill me, it's not going to work," the fox said. "I remember what happened to the Almighty One, and to Immortus, and to Matt, may they rest in peace. I baked myself into the version. 'Foxfire' is a color of light, but it's also me. I'm the foxfire. It's me. And as long as there's anything resembling a version here, so too shall I rise from the ashes like some sort of undead zombie phoenix fox thing. So, uh... Get it out of your system, I guess? I'll beat you eventually."

Iron Mask's expression remained concealed behind that mask of menace, but there was a twisted sadism to her next word: "How?"

"... Well," the fox started. "I defeated Asriel by using Bide. But you are definitely too smart to fall into a trap like that, I know you are. I defeated the Void by abusing G1 Fire Spin and trapping it in an infinite pain loop until it ran away out of frustration. But you're faster than me. So, I guess I'll have to come up with something new. For example, I could..."

The fox paused awkwardly, thinking. "I could... Or perhaps..." Another few moments. "Hrmm. I don't seem to have very many ideas at the moment."

...at which point the sinister masked figure pulled out something from behind her back. A liquid, with the appearance of fluff and foxfire flame. "... Of course you can't. Your creative juices, your creativity, are all right here. Turns out, when you're cut to pieces, it makes things like that easier to take."

Hiber immediately lunged for the flame jar. "Hey, that's mine, give it--" Slice. To pieces.

Iron Mask laughed with mocking derision. "Absolute power... And no creativity left to do anything with it. Truly an almighty idiot."

Hiber seethed. But Iron Mask was right. Without creativity -- there was no way to make plans. No way to do anything but react and operate on instinct. No initiative. No ability to use that authorial power. "What are you gonna do...?"

"I am going to take this away, and let the world you've created rot in stagnation out from under you until there's nothing left. With your creativity burned out, there'll be nothing you can even do as the Nothing returns to devour your lost dreams. And then, when all you have is in ruin and you yourself have faded away, I shall use this creativity to create a new world, where I will be the lead villain from the start. As I should've been to begin with if you really thouht I was your greatest original villain..."

"... you just didn't fit at the time, this was never meant to be--" Hiber called out, eyes already starting to glaze--

Cut. Cut. Cut. "Shut up, author. You'll never write again. And with that, I bid you adieu ... but I think there might be someone else who wants to see you like this."

And as Iron Mask left, she passed the massive, intimidating cube -- Writer's Block -- floating in from the cave entrance. Hiber, lacking the creativity to avoid it, could do nothing but watch as it floated up above the firefox, and dropped. Then lifted up to the ceiling, allowed the flattened fox to regain shape, and dropped. Again. And again. And again, without stopping.

~ ~ ~

Time: About 15 minutes later

It was about this time that one Jane F. Deer, herself on a mission to see Hiber, 1arrived at the cave. She had her own reasons, but the periodic thump sounds had alerted her for some time now that something was going on, and she barged into the cave staring out, "Yo Hiber, what's that thumping--" ... Thump. Jane winced, even as fluff and foxfire rebuilt themselves once again. "... Help..."

...actually dealing with the Writer's Block was actually the easy part. "Go, Phone! Use Unblock!" -- And the block was rendered down into a Writer's, a glitched item similar to a Rival's, which noclipped through Hiber, the floor, and on to ... whatever the source of gravity in Hell was. Jane walked up to the overgrown fox slowly... "... Are you ... Are you okay? You weren't even moving..."

"... thinking about it, moving out of the way would've been a good idea, wouldn't it have... Physically I'm fine. Mentally, I have to apologize... The world is going to end soon."

"... No it isn't, what are you talking about."

"That was a Writer's Block. It wasn't crushing me for no reason. My creative juices are gone - in the most literal sense, they've been drained out of me - and I can't get them back anytime soon. Without it... Everything here will pass away. Without the capacity to imagine and create new things, I can't write, and entropy will take care of the rest. I'm sorry."

"... can't we just ... Get it back? Or maybe give you a new one?"

Hiber's eyes lit up. "That ... could work. If we could get it back, or give me something that would work in its place. It was taken by Iron Mask. A character I created for a failed personal project years ago. But at the moment - and I know this violates 'show, don't tell' - but I can sense reality will be coming apart at the seams very soon."

"... can't you just, like, invoke author fiat? Aren't you, y'know, our author?"

"It's not that easy. Even invoking author fiat is a task of creativity. Misused creativity, but creativity. As long as I have no creative

At that moment, Jane's smartphone beeped. It was really more of a Linux PDA, with all the privacy-oriented bells and whistles, that just so happened to have a SIM card and ability to connect to the cell network. But everything is a smartphone these days. Regardless, it was an emergency alert. "... Already happening. Hoenn's just disappeared." A few more clicks. "Ned News has a show on it. Calling it Sudden Unexplained Existence Failure."

"... That would be The Nothing. Figures it started in Hoenn, the rot started there to begin with and I don't care about it at all..."

Jane didn't bother interrogating further. "Well then we're going to need more help." Tap tap tap...

Moments later, a pair of text messages popped up on the cellphones of one Steve Simmons and one Doc Moreau:

(Steve! Get down here, the world's breaking, I need your help. Doc's on his way.)

(Doc youre the closest to a doctor we got get down here w/ all your stuff NOW. Bring Steve.)

~ ~ ~

Doc and Steve were there at the speed of plot. On the way up they'd both been following the news on the radio, as Newscaster Ned reported on the steady disappearance of Galar as well, beginning with the Crown Tundra and working its way along the island. At the same time, Jane and Steve had been texting back and forth and relaying the state of affairs -- and exactly how serious things had become. No less so than when Doompuff had been released a year and a half or so ago. And when they showed up, they were ready to get right into it with no time wasted.

Doc finished his physical examination. "... Physically, there's nothing wrong with the patient. But as I expected, the condition is metaphysical. The patient's creative juices have been drained."

"... that's what I said all along..." interjected Hiber. "... But it's good to have it confirmed from a doctor."

"I'm not actually a doctor, you know? I was barred from medical school over unethical experiments."

"Yes I know and I'm letting you help me anyway. ... so uh... Given the urgency of everything involved. Do any of you have ideas? Because you know I don't..."

"... an AI, maybe?" said Steve, rather quietly, tapping two fingers together. Not ... exactly the image of a Darksider, even with the black robe.

"... Wooould ... that work?" Jane asked, fingers to her forehead. She was bereft of ideas as well.

"Sure would. Like, Sketchy Research had a stockholder vote just last month. Now the whole board's AI."

"... Steve, your workplace is a soul-sucking office monotony, it's hardly creative."

"Well, yeah, but all we really need is something to hold things together until we get that Iron Mask lady, right? And they can make art, it's just bad art. With super wrong fingers. And bad angles."

"Problem," Hiber chimed in. "I'm all for it, but if it was just as simple as having an AI, it's not like I haven't gone to AI for ideas before. Creative energies have to be part of me."

"So have Doc do it. He does all that scalpel stuff and uplifting all the time anyway. Doc, could you add AI to --" Steve realized something all of a sudden, raised a finger and turned back to Hiber. "... What are your pronouns anyway-"

... Abruptly, both Jane and Moreau blinked, realizing that somehow, across both the prior fic and war event, Hiber had gone this long without being addressed with pronouns...

"I am a Pokémon of the first Generation and not related to Nidoran. I have no preference."

"Right, well." Steve turned back to Moreau. "Well then, Doc, could you put an AI in their head?"

"Absolutely. It's not that different from an uplift."

"... How is that not that different from an--"

Jane raised a finger to object, only to be overruled by Hiber: "Then go ahead, Doc. We have very little time. And it's not like I can imagine how things could possibly get any worse..."

"Of course," Doc said. "Now, if you'll be so kind as to look over there for a moment, I'll get my anaesthetics ready..."

...Hiber never saw the Giant Rubber Mallet of Anaesthesia coming, of course.

~ ~ ~

...Now, if this had been a battle, the next thing to happen would've been a cut to "What? HIBER is evolving!" -- but it was not. Nevertheless, the effect was the same: Evolution and change. And the results were as unexpected as ever: With the use of the "Combine Parts" and "AI Upgrade" items in tandem with Moreau's signature "Uplift," Hiber had been left with cybernetics, including a rather ominous metal cranial plate, with an ominous red eye cover.

...Of course, evolving tends to immediately cure status conditions, and the increase to base stats that usually accompanies evolution means it can even cure unconsciousness. The one uncovered eye snapped open, and the cyberneticized author spoke:

"I am Hicutus of Berg. Withdraw your Pokémon and surrender your selves. We will add your narrative and creative uniqueness to our own. Resistance is futile." This being said, the cyborg fox unhesitatingly walked over to their computer, opening up and logging in with obvious intent to completely rewrite this fanfic and infect the whole version.

Jane just ... facepalmed. "... Moreau."


"You know. How Hiber said. It couldn't possibly get worse."

"To be fair, they only said they couldn't imagine it, not that it couldn't--"

"Moreau, things just got worse. Much, much worse."

"I warned you, I'm not actually a doctor."

Jane looked as if she was about to say something -- but she was interrupted as Hiber's own smartphone, appropriately sized for a weird fox monster author thing and set over to the side of the desk, beeped. All attention was abruptly drawn to it, then the fox's computer screen -- where a window was requesting two-factor authentication. The cybernetic fox monster reached for the phone -- only for it to fly across the room, directly into the hand of one Steve - or to be more accurate, Dark Steve, the Dark Side user with the utterly mundane and boring life. "... what? Everyone gets Force Telekinesis."

... This may have been a bad idea, because it provoked the assimilating author to action, and led immediately to the overgrown figure standing and barreling down towards Steve with a loudly spoken "Resistance is futile!" There was a crash, sending Steve hurtling back to the bookshelf - which tottered, but as it used Fall like the trees it was made of, it dropped a book on his head, rather than falling entirely. Hiber bore down on him from above, going for the phone; a few moments longer would've spelled disaster, but Jane's taser came down on the side of the cyberfox's dome right where that red light was. There was a brilliant flash of electrical energy as lightning coursed through the robotical augments, and they promptly exploded.

Hiber, being immortal, regenerated within moments. "... I definitely could not have imagined that happening. How did you know that would work?"

Jane just facepalmed. "... well, duh. Anything works on the Borg once. Have you ever seen them get hit with a plain old ordinary taser? More to the point. Let's not do that again." She shot Moreau a glare, then looked back to Hiber. "We need a new plan."

"... Pikachu..." mumbled Steve.

"... Pikachu?"
"... Pikachu?"
"... Pikachu?" ... Neither Jane, nor Moreau, nor even Hiber immediately understood.

"... Pikachu," Steve repeated. "... Creative energies. From the first characters created in a Version." He was looking at the book that had hit him on the head. He held it up - it was the children's adaptation of Red Version that Hiber had been reading Asriel as a bedtime story earlier that evening. "Pikachu was able to help take over Red Version -- because it was full of creative energy. Even Immortus couldn't stand up to it."

"So what do we do? I'm the oldest character in the version after Hiber and Terra, so... I guess, what do I do."

"It'll take more than one character. And only OCs. Borrowed characters " Hiber replied. "Usually, the creative energy of the author is transferred over, lingering as an aura of authorship, when an author is dethroned. But my creative energy isn't here, it's somewhere else. You'd need more energy than any one character has to replace it."

"Well then! We can get five characters, the first five to come forth from your mind, and I shall sew them together so that their creative energies can act in unison."

Jane and Steve, remembering that they had been some of the first to have battles, promptly went white. "Uhhhh. I don't think that's necessary..." said Steve. "Can't we just like ... Do a Power Rangers thing..."

Again, Jane shook her head. "They also combine physically... Let's, uh. Not go there."

"What about a Captain Planet thing?"

"I'm all ears," said Hiber. "Captain planet has deep symbolic ties to PokéBattles... So it'll probably work..."

"Then we'll need five people," said Jane. She flicked open her smartphone, loaded up Archive 1, and stared skimming. "First: Terra."

"Not an OC, he's from Megaman," said Hiber.

"Me. Steve. Was that even the same Steve?"

"Only retroactively."

"Ax Craig."

"Perhaps, but I don't think so. There wasn't ever that much creative energy in him to begin with. He's an OC, yes, but he's heavily entwined with the concept of Trees. He also died at least once, and that tends to discharge a lot of it, even if one comes back by demand."

"...Right. Steve, proper. Vulpix. Lake Monster?"

"Lake Monster didn't really become a character until the fans demanded it. It was a background NPC, so it didn't get the full creative charge when it was created. Like AOL."

"Mhmm." She skimmed on to the next page, and scrolled, remaining silent for some moments. "Man with Hook?"

"Not an OC. He's basically a remake of the one from Blue Version."

On to the third page. "Sam Excavator. That's four." A brief pause. "NAHman?"

Hiber's head shook. "... No, we've gone too far... Moreau," the author said all of a sudden. "I created him early, along with a few other rejected concepts. Well before his first battle."

"... And conveniently enough, he's here... Well that's just two left." Beep beep, and she shot off a text message. (Kate get Vulpix ad your HM02 and get to Mt Winter NOW) - followed shortly by an explanatory (World's dyting) (Dying*) (No time to xplain.) The next step was ... considerably more bothersome. She looked at her phone, inhaled, sighed, and dialed...

Somewhere in Heaven, an old analog phone rang.

Jane clenched her teeth impatiently at the dial tone, waited, then heard the familiar old click of a phone being picked up... Followed by the presently insufferable sound of a certain Sam Excavator, Private Investigator describing in Chandlerian prose how he picked up the phone, along with an onslaught of metaphor and at least one instance of the word 'dame'. Jane interrupted just as soon as she could get a word in edgewise. "Ryouga! I'm calling for Ryouga Hibiki!"

... Several more lines of Chandler-speak later, she got what she wanted, and laid her plan. "Hiii Ryouga. So. I have a message for you." Pause. "Ranma said he'd kick your derriere back to Japan. He's in a fighting mood." A bare naked lie but they could deal with the ramifications later. "Yeah, he said you should bring Sam, and he'd meet you... What was it... Ah yeah. 'Anywhere but Mt. Winter. Of course I told him he was gonna get his rear kicked but he insisted. ... Yeah? I'll tell him to see you soon!" Click. She turned back to the others. "... Okay, Kate's on her way. Sam is too. Along with a very cheesed off Ryouga."

~ ~ ~

... Surprisingly - everything went off without a hitch. Kate showed up within a few minutes, and Ryouga was close behind - carrying the still rambling detective over his shoulder - as his impossibly bad sense of direction, told to go anywhere but this particular location, had inevitably navigated him directly to it by the most direct possible path. Jane once again made something up, and he left just as fast as he'd shown, leaving Sam behind.

"... Right," Jane said. "We don't exactly have power rings. But hopefully this works anyway, because it's basically the only shot left. The Nothing's already eaten Sinnoh and it's working on Unova. So... I guess let's improvise." She held up her hand, with her cellphone in it. "Let our powers combine. Privacy and anticonsumerism!"

Steve held up his hand with his lightsaber. "Surviving the daily grind!"

Doc raised up a Mist Stone. "Evolution through mad science!"

It would be redundant to describe what Sam did. "Playing my part, I raised up my hand, carrying the bottle of pressurized champagne I carried with me for just situations, and - though I thought it a waste - pointing it with all the energy of a bird-dog on a covey of quail. Ridiculous as it might sound, I raised my voice and shouted out, 'Chandlerian narration!'"

Vulpix held out the Badge it had since retrieved. "Vulpix!"

And a jet of flame shot out from her mouth towards the center, meeting up with a spray of champagne from Sam's bottle, an evolutionary light from Doc's Mist Stone, a blast of invisible Force energy from Steve, and a stream of data energy from Jane's phone. The lights and materials swirled together, combined... And a tiny white-furred three-tailed fox emerged and landed on the ground. With a high-pitched voice, almost chipmunk tier, that was nearly the opposite of Hiber's rumble, the being spoke: "By your creative powers combined, I am Lober!"

"... What." Jane's voice was entirely flat.

However, Steve perked up in recognition! "Oh! You're the Alolan version of that three-tailed Vulpix pre-evolution that they cut from the game!"

"... By your creative powers combined, I am Lober!" the creature repeated.

"... Well then ... " Hiber said... And scooped the tiny creature up and carried them off to the computer along with that phone. "Right. You can't talk, but you have creativity and I don't right now. Let's write..."

... And what was the very first thing they did? Open up this fanfic, and add in a line:

And the all the places that The Nothing had devoured spontaneously re-appeared out of nowhere. Yes, even Hoenn. I don't hate it that much.

Hiber then took a moment to look over a shoulder and back at those assembled. "... I would prefer it if you were to stay here for ... at least a little while, until we have some idea of where Iron Mask is. She ... Very likely has more creative energy of her own than any of you since I created her for an even older work, years ago. In addition, she has my stolen creative energies, and therefore, I can't just fiat her out of existence, nor can Narrator twist her actions very far. ... And while I am immortal, I am almost certain that Lober, being my opposite, is extremely mortal, and I don't want to be alone protecting them."

"... All right," said Jane. "You have my phone, and whatever's left of the Resistance has your back."

Everyone present, even the otherwise silent until now Kate, nodded in near unison. Yeah, frankly, keeping the world from disappearing was worthwhile. Although Steve did shortly after pipe up: "Yo, can you make my office let me do work-from-home? I'd save three hours a day on commute and be able to like ... be here in case of emergencies."

"... Hrm. It does decrease the humor potential since it's straight up less miserable. But I think it can be arranged anyway."

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