Our old universe has
fallen into impossible chaos and destruction, but the Legendaries will save us; are saving us; have saved us. Soon many lives and memories will fill this new world, and give it purpose.


As Terrene leaves behind
the long, dark nights, their minds turn to friendship and romance at the second annual speed dating! And don't miss out on the clover hunt or the poetry season. Our plot event, alpha & omega, is drawing closer to its end, but is still going strong for now.


Spring will be here until
June. The rainy season begins in the tropical areas; the rest of Terrene begins to thaw and warm, shaking the chill of winter and creeping toward the heat of summer. Fairy and grass types relish in the season of rebirth and renewal!







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 We Built This City, built this city on rock and roll [Quest]
 Posted: Apr 25 2018, 07:53 PM


Crater City was the second largest town in Terrene, and it was growing fast. The walls always needed to be repaired and built up. Meanwhile new citizens were waiting in tented camps while they worked on homes to shelter them. In addition to all of this, the dirt road that led between Crater City and Ashfield was being paved. It was going to be a glorious road (for at least half a mile anyway), testament to the power and wealth of Crater. People coming from Ashfield to Crater would walk along a firm stone path that would last for years after it was completed.

The completion of these tasks were of high importance and they would be accomplished even if it required some shifting of labor and increased wages. The workers on Soren’s farm were offered the option of helping and promised a significantly higher payment than they normally received for their farmwork. Soren was happy to sign up. The extra money and items would help him gather supplies that he could use to take care of his new pokemon, Genesis.

Ever since he'd captured the girafarig, the pokemon had become his pride and joy. Soren loved her more than he loved any human besides his own father. He wanted to take good care of her and keep her happy despite the fact that he was poor and he often had to ask her to help with difficult chores. Genesis was his best friend, so Soren wanted her to get the best possible care.

Besides that, it was often satisfying simply to leave the farm and try new experiences. Working in construction wasn't exactly a holiday, but at least it was something different. Soren loved learning, any kind of learning really. The joy of absorbing new information overshadowed the suffering of tedious labor. It was lucky for him that Genesis felt exactly the same way, or he would never get her to do anything.

For example, Genesis allowed Soren to put a halter on her today so that he could guide her with a lead rope. She wasn't a fan of the halter. It was, after all, a control device. It didn't take a genius pokemon to figure out that the straps around her nose and the rope were designed so that Soren could control her movements. She suspected that he was training her to walk close to him and follow his instructions. She was strong enough though to yank the rope from him if she wanted. She could fight and protest, and she suspected she could get her way. However, Soren might resort to putting her in a pokeball when he traveled instead, and Genesis wanted to be able to see the city. She didn't like the halter, but if wearing it meant she'd get to study humans close up, then she'd learn to tolerate it.

Today Soren had led her out of the farm and towards the city's main entrance where a long dirt path lead into the plain. Humans around this area were all sweating and breathing hard as they hauled rocks here and there. Many were bent or crouched on the ground, evidently applying smooth stones along the dirt road. What an odd behavior! What could be its purpose? Many of the humans had the same burn mark on their foreheads as Soren, and Genesis still hadn't figured out what that meant or where the burn came from. Humans were such mysterious creatures.

Soren led Genesis over to a man holding a scroll of cloth who appeared to be overseeing the work. "Excuse me, sir" Soren yelled so that he could be heard above the din of banging and clanging construction. Once he had the man's attention, he gave a friendly smile. It was not returned. The human with the scroll simply lifted an eyebrow as he waited for Soren to hurry up and say what he wanted. "Sir, my name is Soren Kolton. This is my pokemon, Genesis. We're reporting for road construction duty, sir."

The man looked down at his scroll and nodded before making a check on it with an inked quill. "A bit smaller than I expected, but I suppose you'll do. We need all the hands we can get." He looked over his scroll of writing cloth to give Soren a look of disdain. "Even very little hands."

Soren swallowed nervously but forced his polite smile nevertheless. He glanced up at Genesis, and the girafarig looked back at him. Then the two of them waited for further instructions.

757 words

 Posted: May 4 2018, 09:30 PM


"It looks like what we really need is help making more mud bricks for the houses, the road, the wall...you get it, we need tons of bricks. We never have enough. So we're sending you over to the brickworks, kid," the important man with the scroll said. Soren's heart sank. He'd hoped that he could work on the road and be surrounded by the grass of the plain. It was just outside the city, close enough for it to be relatively safe even for workers like him but just near enough to danger to be thrilling. Instead, he was getting banished all the way to the opposite side of town near the bay.

The man scribbled on a piece of cloth and handed it to Soren. "Give this to the peace officers at the brickwork, and they'll tell you what to do." He said as he handed Soren the cloth and made a shooing motion with his hand. Soren could only narrow his eyes and move on. He knew better than to talk back to his superiors.

He led Genesis by her lead rope through the dusty streets of the outer city. These streets were bustling with humans and pokemon. Merchants were gathered near the main entrance, hoping to buy and sell wares to travelers. Past that were farms. Many were like the ones that Soren worked growing berries, fruits, vegetables, and medicinal herbs. The further they went, the more unpleasant the environment became. Other farms came next, the kind that raised pokemon for meat, milk, eggs, leather, and wool. These often smelled of pokemon dropping, dust, and whatever chemicals they used to get the job done. The brickwork area was past even these, often lined right up along the bay where the soil was moist and muddy.

Row after row of completed bricks laid baking in the sun. Strong pokemon like tauros and mudsdale hauled carts and wagons loaded with heavy bricks of different sizes. Genesis watched this with a sense of dread. She was going to end up hooked to a cart again. She just knew it.

Soren obediently handed the cloth to the first peace officer he found at the nearest brickwork, and the woman gave him a pleasant smile. "Lucky you! You get a fun job!"

"Really?" Soren asked, daring to hope.

"Yeah, you'll be in the pit playing in the mud. You might want to strip off some clothes. You're going to get pretty dirty. We need you to get in there and really stir up the mud and other stuff that we use to make the bricks. Once it's good and mixed, you can put the mud into molds and we'll let the bricks dry out in the sun." the officer explained pleasantly, gesturing with a thumb to the pit where a few boys around Soren's age were already working. He looked at them, but he wouldn't say that they looked happy. They wearily stomped around in the pit, using their legs to mix the mud. The only one who looked like she was having a good time was a mudbray who seemed more than delighted to frolick in the filth.

"What are the bricks made out of?" Soren asked as he took a few steps further into the brickwork and began stripping off his shirt, pants, and hat. He kept his underwear on. Luckily, he was not especially modest. Living in a crowded farmhouse didn't offer a lot of privacy and Soren hadn't yet learned to be ashamed of his body.

"Oh you know, mud mostly. That's a mix of the dark fertile plain soil and sand and clay from near the bay. We use the long grass from the plain too in order to hold the bricks together. Um, oh yeah, and there's just a tiny bit of pokemon poo!" The peace officer told him cheerfully with a broad smile.

Soren didn't even flinch, just gave her a slightly hurt look. He wasn't entirely surprised. With all the farms and people's personal pokemon, one thing the city had in large quantities was shit. Beta and his advisors were not wasteful men. They would use absolutely every resource available. Even the poop. While he wasn't delighted to be wading in the stuff, he took a private amusement in knowing that Crater City was literally made of shit.

Cumulative word count: 1482

 Posted: May 6 2018, 05:57 PM


Soren removed his shoes and socks and walked over to the pit. There was a ladder leading down, and he used that to safely reach the bottom. There, Soren was able to see his fellow workers more clearly. Both of the other boys were bigger than them, probably fifteen or sixteen years old. Only one of them had the same brand that Soren had on his forhead.

"Um, hi guys. I'm here to help too." Soren said, giving a shy smile as he squished his bare toes in the mud. At the top of the pit, other workers tossed in long grass for the boys to mix with the rest of the mud. Sometimes light wooden buckets were tossed down as well, and the boys handed them back up filled with the mud, straw, poop mixture. The two boys looked exhausted as they lifted their knees up and down, churning the mud mixture beneath them. Each one of them was coated in mud from the waist down.

"Hey," the one other branded boy said breathlessly. "I'm Nathan. You look familiar. This is my pokemon Cocoa."

"Please don't mention chocolate right now. I don't think I can ever eat chocolate again," the unbranded boy said, sweating from working so hard in the heat of spring. "My name's Max. When I came here from Ashfield, they told me that if I work hard and take the brand..." There was a long pause as he tried to catch his breath. "Then I can have a house and all the food I could want for the rest of my life."

"Well that's true," Soren said nervously as he joined in the mud stomping, carefully neglecting to give his name or address the comment that Nathan found him familiar. Soren remembered that he'd attended the same school as Nathan and the older boy had teased him for being small, looking like a girl, and maybe possibly being a zorua in disguise.

Nathan chuckled as he worked. "It's true, cept you might share that house with ten or fifteen other people. And the food...let's just say you won't have to worry about eating any chocolate."

"I usually get a maple candy on my birthday," Soren interjected optimistically.

"How old are you?" Nathan demanded, growing suspicious.

"I'm fifteen."

"Mudsdale shit!" Nathan came over looked at Soren more closely. "I know you. We went to school together. You're that demon boy."

"I'm not a demon! My name is Soren!" Soren's eyes flashed with anger like black chips of polished onyx.

"Whatever, you'll still be Demon Boy to me." Nathan said with a grin, knowing that Soren couldn't fight back. Soren was smaller and weaker, and even his pokemon was weaker than Cocoa. It looked like some half-wild beast he drug back from the plain. That spotted, long-necked monster wouldn't stand a chance against a well-bred mudbray.

Besides that, Genesis couldn't even get down into the pit. She stood at the edge, bending her front knees and stretching her neck down to watch the humans below. She might be able to jump down, but if she did it would be nearly impossible to get back up. The best she could do was watch her trainer from above.

Cumulative Word count: 2021

 Posted: May 9 2018, 05:14 AM


Soren went quiet, deciding that working in silence was better than saying anything that would only bring on more teasing from the other boys. He wished he knew how to deal with conflicts better. He never knew what he should say or what he should do, so he usually ended up keeping silent and trying to hide or flee. It was easier to just lie down and meekly take the abuse than pursue a fight he couldn't win. Thus he simply used his feet to churn the mud beneath him wishing that he could be stronger, smarter, or even someone different entirely. He tried to tune out the talking of the other boys behind him as Nathan told Max about what life was like in Crater for teenagers who weren't demon pokemon in disguise.

It didn't take long for Soren's legs to begin to ache from the repetitive motion. Every so often the boys would be tossed a wooden bucket, which they would then fill with the mud mixture and carry up the top of the ladder. They would then have to press the mixture into molds for bricks of different sizes. Once the bricks were settled, the mold was removed and the fresh construction was left to bake in the sun. Rows and rows of bricks could be seen drying in the sun. Ones that were ready were loaded onto carts and were pulled away by pokemon.

Soren and the other boys repeated this process several times until the peace officer came over and whistled for them to stop. "Good work, boys. Go ahead and wash up, and take a lunch break," She commanded. All of the boys were so tired by that time that they could fall over in the mud and just go to sleep. On the bright side, they'd long ago become too exhausted even for cruelty so Soren had been left in peace and hadn't needed to endure any more "demon boy" taunts. They climbed out of the pit and moved to the buckets of water for a quick and not-too-thorough wash. Soren dressed while still wet, shaking his shaggy black head like a growlithe might shake its coat to rid it of irritating drops of water. This caused his hair to stick out in all directions and he looked like a savage boy from the wilderness even after he settled his hat back on his head.

Genesis had relaxed while watching everyone else work hard, but now she stood up and joined her trainer. "Are you hungry, girl?" Soren asked as he collected his bag from where he'd abandoned his clothes earlier. He pulled out several carrots for her to eat, which she happily crunched on. Soren seemed to particularly like it when she took bits of carrot directly from his hand, and whenever she did he would rub her cheek and call her a "good girl". She hypothesized that this was a trust building exercise as much for him as it was for her. After all, he had to trust each time that she wouldn't bite him.

While she ate carrots, he unwrapped something different for himself. She sniffed it curiously, which made the boy grin. The wrapping was made of some fibrous organic material, and yet Soren didn't try to eat it. Genesis eventually recognized it as a folded corn husk. Humans, having only one stomach, couldn't digest corn husks. Even more interesting, what was inside was not corn. Or at least, it wasn't all corn. It smelled similar to corn, but appeared to be some kind of corn paste or dough. There was another smell too, something less familiar to her. She'd smelled it more often since living in this human settlement, however. Eventually, it struck her. Aha, it was cooked meat! The smell wasn't strong, so perhaps it was just a little bit and it was hidden among the corn substance.

This made sense. Genesis knew that humans were omnivorous, and she'd wondered why Soren never appeared to eat meat since he appeared to have access to it. She'd considered that this exclusion from his diet might contribute to his smaller stature, but it seemed that the boy did occasionally partake of the cooked meats that other humans seemed to favor but in smaller quantities. Soren gently pushed his pokemon's nose away from his tamale. "This isn't for you. Eat your own food, Genesis." He told her with an amused chuckle. Genesis hadn't been trying to eat it, of course. She just couldn't help being fascinated by the way humans prepared and ate their food. Cooking was an almost singularly human activity, and it wasn't well studied among pokemon. She wished she'd seen these tamales prepared, but most cooking seemed to be done within the farmhouse where she was not allowed outside her pokeball.

Once she'd eaten her carrots and Soren ate his tamales, the boy pulled a rowap berry out of his bag. It had blue sections with yellow stems sticking out, and she watched with rapt attention as he broke the sections apart and spun them on flat ground so that they balanced on the yellow stem and became a blue blur before their eyes. He appeared to be showing her, but she couldn't understand the purpose behind it. Soren smiled at her conspiratorially and said, "Isn't it cool, Genesis?"

Cool, Genesis thought. Perhaps this word is used to describe objects and instances that are entertaining but have no practical purpose.

"Okay, back to work boys!" the peace officer called, whistling again. "You two, back in the pit! You, little guy, I've got a job for you and your pokemon." She pointed at Soren when she said "little guy". Soren gave her a surprised, wide eyed look before quickly scooping up the rowap berry sections. He shoved most of them in his own mouth but held one section up for Genesis and waited for her expectantly. She leaned down and took the treat from him, letting the sour and slightly spicy flavor fill her mouth.

"Good girl," Soren said before standing up and leading Genesis to where the peace officer stood waiting for them.


Cumulative Wordcount: 3048

 Posted: May 10 2018, 04:27 AM


The female peace officer smiled down benevolently upon Soren and Genesis as if she intended to bestow upon them a great and marvelous gift. "I've been watching you two together, and I've got a special task for you to complete." She told them. She had short brown hair that curled at the ends and dark coffee colored eyes. Despite being surrounded by mud and dirt, her uniform looked conspicuously spotless. "We need to bring more bricks over to road. Go ahead and hook up your pokemon to one of the carts and load it up with as many bricks as you think she can pull. Then the two of you head over to where the road construction is to deliver the bricks that will be the pavers."

"Yes ma'am." Soren replied, glancing nervously at Genesis. He knew she hated being hooked to a cart, but he also knew that she'd simply have to learn to get used to it. One day, when she was big and strong enough to be a mount, Soren wanted to train her to be ridden. Wearing a harness and pulling a load was good practice and it would build up her strength. "Come on, Genesis." He led her by her halter over to one of the waiting carts and began to tack her up for the job.

Once Genesis realized that this time she would be expected to work too, she was greatly displeased. She fidgeted, shifting her weight from hoof to hoof. She didn't fight Soren, though she very much wanted to do so. She understood that this was expected of her. When she allowed herself to be captured, she submitted to assisting and protecting her trainer. It just didn't seem fair that pokemon like Cocoa the mudbray got to assist by playing in the mud and having a great time while Genesis had to wear an uncomfortable harness and pull heavy materials from place to place.

At least Soren was gentle. He knew that she didn't like this part, so he spoke soft soothing words to her and pet her. He showered her with praise, calling her strong and beautiful. Even though the words were mysterious to her, Genesis could identify that his tone was adoring. In mere minutes, he had her dressed and attached to a cart. Soren dug through his bag and pulled out a rope. "I thought we might need to do this, so I brought a spare rope with me. This way I can help pull, okay? Just like the last time we ran deliveries." He said as he tied one end of the rope to the cart.

Next, he began to load the cart with dried mud bricks. The cart was small and light, which was a slight mercy. Genesis was only a young girafarig, after all, though she was alarmingly powerful despite her youth and size. While she was large compared to many other pokemon species, she still had a good amount of growing to do. Soren had to try and judge how many bricks he and Genesis could safely pull all the way to the other side of town. He didn't want to overdo it and hurt her. If it was too difficult, she might get discouraged and simply give up. The boy did his best and tested the weight of the cart by pulling on the rope he'd attached. Eventually the cart carried a load that Soren suspected they could transport safely as long as they moved at a slow and steady pace.

"Come on, Genesis! Let's go! Heave!" He said, gritting his teeth as he pulled with all of his weight. Genesis took careful steps forward, leaning into the harness. Once the two of them got the wheels moving, it was less of a struggle. Soren led Genesis along, trying to help her as much as possible and keep from getting lost at the same time. The trouble was that the streets of Crater City were crowded at this time of day. Many other carts passed on both sides transporting goods from one end of the city to another. Visitors and workers alike walked about, but the visitors were the main problem. Workers moved swiftly and with a purpose and destination in mind. Tourists tended to stop abruptly to look around in awe or confusion with no concern for the poor cart-hauling pokemon and boys that might be behind them. Every time the cart stopped because someone or something blocked their path, it was a hassle to get going again. Soren cheered Genesis on the whole way. "Keep going, girl! We're going to be super strong! Just think about how much stronger we're both going to be! We're almost there, it's just a little bit further now!"

Finally, Soren and Genesis reached the place where they began, Crater City's main gate. "We..." Soren couldn't even speak a full sentence at once. He was so drained that he had to pause between every few words to catch his breath. "We brought...the bricks...you needed..."

The construction overseer looked up upon being addressed. When he saw that it was Soren come back with his girafarig, the man twitched his mustache as if he was trying to shake an annoying bug pokemon that was crawling on his face. "You again?" He came over an inspected the load of bricks in the cart. "You've got to be kidding! I need far more than this. Take a break if you absolutely must." His gaze was full of contempt as he looked down at the young man and his young pokemon, as if they had delivered him a cart full of disappointment and not bricks at all. Disappointment never felt so heavy. "But then you'd better head right back to the brickworks for another load."

"Yes...sir," Soren huffed, feeling like he could barely stay on his feet let alone go all the way around the city and haul back another cart. He took several breaths, and instead of complaining, he quietly unloaded the cart and left the bricks in neat stacks in a designated area while Genesis took a well-earned break.

Cumulative Wordcount: 4059

 Posted: May 12 2018, 11:40 PM


Soren did as he was ordered, even though he and his pokemon were already exhausted. He and Genesis managed by going slowly and resting often. In the time that it took them to walk all the way back to the brickworks and come back with another load of bricks, the day was almost over. The sky had begun to darken, the shadows were long, and the temperatures were blessedly beginning to drop. Soren and Genesis both enjoyed the cool breeze against their skin as they finished up their work for the day.

By the time Soren and Genesis reached their home on the farm, the world was dim but for the final relaxing reddish oranges of the setting sun. He took her into the barn and carefully removed all of her tack. The girafarig breathed a sigh of relief as all of the straps and harnesses were removed. She'd never felt so grateful to be in a barn stall. On the plains, she'd never felt so strongly about a place. Here, her stall was the place where she rested, where Soren brought her food and water and generally showered her with praise and comfort. She'd even call it "home", and she never thought of any place in that way before. Her girafarig herd had been nomadic.

Soren was a bit quieter than normal as he tended to her today, and she could tell that he was as exhausted as she was if he didn't even have the energy to prattle affectionately at her. However, he was exceedingly diligent. He always was. His father had instilled him with a love for pokemon and taught him that caring for them took precedence even over his own health and welfare. Despite how his body ached, he quickly had Genesis in her clean stall with fresh buckets of food and fresh water. Then, he carefully cleaned her up, tending to her hooves and then brushing her coat.

"Today was pretty hard," Soren confessed as he brushed her. His eyes had a dull and sad look to them. "But, that doesn't mean that tomorrow won't be better. We mustn't let a few difficult days keep us from trying our best, right girl? You did a wonderful job! I'm so lucky to have you as my friend. I couldn't have done any of that alone. So you just get a nice rest tonight and I'll get you in the morning. Goodnight, Genesis."

Then the boy did something that she'd seen him do only once or twice in the past and only to his father. He leaned over and kissed her cheek, pressing his lips against her fuzzy face quickly and softly before putting away his tools and leaving the barn. Genesis laid down amongst her soft straw bedding in the comforting darkness, wondering at this behavior. She hadn't witnessed it in other humans, at least not yet. With Soren, it was often safe to assume that this was a kind of bonding behavior. However, there must be some reason why it was so rare. Perhaps it was reserved only for family members, and Soren now considered her to be familiar enough to warrant such a level of affection. Genesis felt like this was in character for him, but she certainly didn't share the same feeling for him. As far as she was concerned, they were hardly even friends.

She curled herself up, taking a deep breath before relaxing and allowing herself to sleep. All around her, the other farm pokemon could be herd breathing but for the few who still spoke softly amongst themselves. In the farmhouse, Soren cleaned up and ate a quick dinner. He sat beside his father as they ate and answered questions about his day with soft, short answers. He was so tired that he began dozing partway through the meal and nearly fell over. Luckily, he only ended up leaning onto his father's shoulder. Gaspar caught him and gently shook him awake.

"They really are working you to death, huh?" Gaspar asked, looking down at Soren with his own dark tired eyes.

"M'fine," Soren said as he quickly blinked awake. He looked down at his food without interest. He was too tired even to be hungry and his muscles felt weak and useless. Gaspar watched him with concern.

"You should eat more, but if you can't do that then at least finish your milk." The older man said as he cast a disapproving look at all of the food Soren had barely touched. He worried regularly that Soren wasn't eating enough simply because the boy seemed too curious and active to sit still long enough to eat a meal. He worried even more today that though Soren definitely needed more nutrients to fuel his body for the level of labor he was undertaking, he still didn't seem to be eating much. The moo moo milk was at least hydrating and full of nutrients that he hoped would make up for shortages elsewhere.

"He's only acting. There's no way that Soren's worked that hard today," Ivka quipped, but she was shushed by one of the older workers beside her and a warning glance from Gaspar.

Soren quickly chugged his milk before cleaning up his dishes and heading to bed. The farmhouse was a very cramped living space, as most places were in Crater City. There were too many people and too few resources to waste on giving everyone privacy and the luxury of personal space, so the workers of the farm simply adapted to life without it. There were three bedrooms, one for men, one for women, and one for the children. Each of the adults got their own simple bed, but the room for the children was much smaller. It contained only one, albeit larger bed, and the little ones piled in together.

If there were more children, this might not have been possible, and when Soren was younger there had been more children. However, as Soren grew the other children seemed to go off to other places. Two older boys were branded and moved off to work in other areas of the city. There had been one girl who died when she was still a baby, a sad event that none of the surviving residents of the farmhouse could bear to speak about. Another young child had been adopted to an unbranded family, which had upset and traumatized Soren nearly as much as the death of the toddler. The only remaining children at this time were Soren, Taavi, and Ivka, though she would soon move out and into the room with the other adult women. Soren wasn't quite sure why she was still sleeping in the children's room. Taavi was a four year old boy, far from old enough to be branded. Soren loved Taavi fiercely, and Taavi complained often that Soren had stopped being fun the moment he'd been branded. They never had the time to play together anymore, which actually saddened Soren just as much as it did Taavi.

However, since there were only three children, and one of them was still very small the single bed was merely cozy and not crowded. At least it wasn't to Soren, who had a higher tolerance for crowding than probably most other human beings. He changed out of his work clothes in a half-sleeping daze before he crawled into his bed and was asleep instantly.

Cumulative Wordcount: 5294

 Posted: May 16 2018, 03:39 AM


In the days that followed, Soren would get up, gather his pokemon and head off to help with the construction. He and Genesis were banished to the brickworks fairly often, as the job was easy and tedious even if it was labor intensive and even unskilled children could manage it. Plus, there was no limit to the sheer amount of bricks that were needed in order to complete construction. Wagons filled with rocks large and small were also being hauled into the city from the mountains, but those were mined and carted by stronger workers and pokemon. Sand and gravel were also gathered along with water from the bay to create cement as a binder to hold the bricks and rocks in place.

Anytime Soren wasn't at the brickworks or helping Genesis haul needed materials from one area of the city to the other, he was doing some equally arduous task. Sometimes he was ordered to work on the wall. Since the goal was to make the wall higher, a person was needed to clamber up rickety wooden ladders to lay the bricks higher up. Soren was small, light, and spry enough to make the climb. Clinging to a ladder while trying to lay down bricks as your body is baked by the midday sun was possibly even more unpleasant than mixing the mud at the brickworks. Luckily, Soren had excellent balance and no fear of heights. This job had its benefits as well. The view from up high was incredible. He could see the view of the city from the air, but even better, he could oversee the plains below or the beautiful hills or the mountains in the distance. The mountains in particular were lovely, and Soren wondered what it might be like to go there and climb to the top. Cloven Volcano was said to be a unique place in Terrene and not very well explored.

However, even working on the wall was better than when Soren was delegated to work on housing. The work was often the same mindless bricklaying while other people ordered him to go here, do that, and quit sulking. The interior of the homes were actually quite comfortable, and Soren wondered how people who lived in wooden houses ever got by. Walls of mud absorbed the sun's heat during the day, keeping the interior cool and held it to keep the occupants warm during the night. It was sturdy and would resist fire, windstorms, and floods. Their leader, Beta, was always telling them to be prepared for anything, and Crater City was like a fortress even against the brutal acts of nature.

Unfortunately, the homes were also boring. The builders had developed a formula that worked, using the least amount of possible materials, labor, and space in order to create simple buy cozy living spaces for individuals and families. Therefore, every house and apartment looked almost identical. They were all the brown, beige, or white of dried mud with no color or personality. Uniform.

"You know, I bet the buildings would last longer before we need to repair them if we covered the bricks with something so that they don't weather and crumble. I bet we could even add some color, like those color pictures that you see in some of the books the immigrants bring from the other world. Wouldn't that be beautiful, if we could cover the whole city in colors and pictures? We could brighten up the place and make it all look very cheerful," Soren suggested once to one of the builders as he carefully laid down bricks to form what would become a new citizen's bedroom.

"Yes, yes, I'm sure it would be very pretty. And very expensive and a damn waste of time!" The man spat back.

Besides this, Soren wasn't sure how he felt about all of the newcomers who would be moving into these homes. He understood that people were coming to Crater because it was the safest city with laws to keep every secure and make sure that everyone was treated fairly. He'd heard that outside of the city, strength was all that mattered. Anyone who was strong could take from anyone who wasn't, and no one would help you because everyone only cared about themselves. But then why were they taking all of those awful selfish people and moving them here? What if they were mean and didn't want to follow the rules?

As a worker and a child, Soren was aware that he was among the most vulnerable and he didn't feel entirely safe among these strangers. He felt a most peculiar feeling of shame when outsiders saw him, pointed to the brand on his forehead and began to whisper. In fact, as he came to work among them, he learned to make sure that his brand was hidden by his bangs or his hat. People seemed more apt to talk to him when they didn't see his brand. They were friendlier, a detail that Soren didn't miss even if he didn't understand the reason behind it.

Sometimes Soren would overhear conversations.

"Did you see Fin? He took the brand last night. You can see it on his forehead."

"No lie? That's pretty intense. I'm not sure I'm ready for that. That's a commitment. There's no going back once you take the brand."

"But he got moved into a house that same night! He doesn't have to wait for housing to become available like the rest of us. He doesn't even have to pay for rent or food."

"Yeah but...he took a hot iron to the forehead."

"It only stings for a while," Soren couldn't resist chipping in. "Then it sort of heals and doesn't hurt anymore. You're just left with a mark. It's scary when it's first done but it's not so bad afterwards."

Then because he'd just blown his cover, the others moved away from him didn't speak with him anymore. Soren began to wonder if they were simply afraid of him in the same way he was afraid of them. He was a member, a representative of the populace that they aimed to join. Even so, they didn't know the citizens of Crater well just yet, and maybe they'd heard frightening and untrue stories about the city. Maybe they needed time to adjust before they could learn to trust these new people.

Genesis found the people Soren worked with fascinating, and she was happy to learn that she could distinguish certain groups apart merely by their behaviors. The people from outside the human herd seemed to bunch together, perhaps for safety reasons. They all cooperated in the construction work though, so she could only assume these grand projects must be for the common good of the herd. She admired this side of humans, the way they could organize despite their differences and unify for the common good. Bug pokemon were the best comparison she could think up offhand. They were like a group of drone or worker combee working to repair and construct their hive. Where was their queen? Who was the leader of all these humans? Would she ever get to see her?

While observing the humans was very entertaining, Genesis was not pleased by the way that humans who saw her seemed to immediately believe that she ought to at all times be carting something heavy. It's like they didn't think she was good for anything else, taking her great mind for granted. No, she was always being hooked to a cart and ordered to go here or there. Poor Soren tried to help her as much as he could, but Genesis was stronger than him and as such had to do more of the heavy lifting. Soren alone expressed appreciation for her work, giving her treats, hugging her, petting her, and praising her. To the other humans though, she was little more than a curiosity. Many had never seen one of her kind before, but none appeared to share Soren's curiosity or devotion to her. For the first time she realized that she might have been lucky to meet Soren on the plain and not one of these other humans. She might have found herself captured in a pokeball, servant to a human who thought of her as no more than a tool to progress his own goals. Genesis wasn't sure if she was growing in fondness to Soren or simply growing resentful of the rest of his species, however.

At last, after about a week, Soren was allowed to transfer out of construction and back to farming. The boy and his pokemon were relieved to go back to spending their days among green grasses, sweet smelling trees, and playful mudbray. "Maybe the pay will make it worth the while," he told Genesis hopefully as he brushed her after their last construction day. He'd have to wait until wages were processed, but he hoped that maybe a nice amount of items and tokens would make him forget the aching in his back and limbs. Perhaps the work had made the duo stronger as well, but if so it might take some time to notice the results. Soren's arms and legs often felt as weak as limp noodles after a day of work, and Genesis always seemed so tired that she could barely stand. In any case, Soren had decided that he would not like to volunteer for construction duty ever again.


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