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Sense8 Snapshots (with Pokemon)

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When Riley Gunnarsdottir turned 15, contemplating the shape of her life and the branching paths ahead, her father presented her with an Eevee. He sat them down together and, softly, told them of their vast and varied potential, and how it would be waiting for them when they were ready to choose. Several years later, in love and preparing for the birth of her child, proud of the path traced behind her and with a childhood hex now a ghost story to recount while tickling her daughter, she thinks she can see the branches of her future. One month later, her back is rigid with ice, her heart is brittle with frost, and a chill hand clenches her gut and twists every waking moment. When she notices Eevee is gone, Riley, out of tears, eyes open seeing nothing, does not blame him. She whispers that she deserves it, that she is hexed and too dangerous to be around. Two day later, a Flareon slips into her room and perches on the bed next to her. When the blizzard blasts through Riley’s mind in the night, he curls next to her chest, trying to melt the icy claws ripping through her. It is not much, but it is a start.

Riley grew up surrounded by music. Gunnar played a piano soundtrack to her birth and wrote a song for every special moment that followed. He wrote his perfect daughter a lullaby and a gentle wake-up hymn. A clanging, discordant storm of notes tells of her first steps as he calls to her from the piano bench, of sweeping her up in excitement and setting her next to him so she can create her first composition. Gunnar’s Kricketune trills in delight in the background and crafts a language just for the family. A high-pitched vibrato when Riley gets into trouble while Gunnar is in another room, a low thrum that soothes nerves and upset tears, joyful chirps to congratulate and encourage. When Riley and Flareon move to London, music fills and follows them. And in the crush of bodies and flashing lights, they discover a Smeargle entranced by the reckless energy and careful artistry of Riley’s music. She follows Riley and Flareon for a week, transcribing chords in colors and dances in curves that seem to find no end, before she has the courage to approach the two. They are silent, tongues weighted with emotion, before they offer the Smeargle a spot in their crew. Now, if a venue has the space and desire, Smeargle records in mural the life and vibrancy of each party as it lights up the night.

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Wolfgang Bogdanow feels song and dance pulse and flow through him as two interpretations of the same language, one of pure emotion. He thrives in the dancefloor energy of the club; he finds peace in the throaty crooning of a ballad. They are his focus and his catharsis, the keys to the most human and vulnerable parts of himself buried under an unyielding facade and the memory of old fears.

Meloetta flits across the countryside, never seen but as a ghost. Fragments of song catch on a breeze and weave through dreams; people walking at night see a figure at the end of the alley, on the opposite side of the park, flickering through a graceful dance, but one blink and the performer is gone. Her mind brushes against one in anguish, a fighter and a dancer filled with rage. She begins her search.

Each of the four crime families of Berlin has a Pokemon that serves as their symbol. All Bogdanows of high standing are presented with a young Pawniard at the age of five, to begin training and to develop loyalty. Bisharp are powerful and ruthless bodyguards. Young Bogdanows of five years and one day have scars. Trust and loyalty do not come easily to a Pokemon born with daggers on its hands and the chill of steel up its spine.

On the night Wolfgang attempts to ambush his father, a Bisharp charges from the shadows and delivers a Brick Break that drops the Pawniard standing guard and chips the blade on its helmet. The Bisharp reaches for the boy, one blade poised to threaten and bleed, when a song fills the air and a slender form, black dress swirling, drops from the sky to deliver a flurry of blows that leave the bodyguard Pokemon crashed senseless against a wall. Wolfgang freezes, giving his father the moment he needs to reach for the Pokeballs at his belt. A psychic force holds the man's arms in a vice, a mere second of lost agency long enough for the boy to jolt back to his senses and renew his assault. When Wolfgang finally looks up, he finds the newcomer watching him. The ethereal dancer walks forward and begins to sing, orange eyes softening to blue and ruddy hair shifting to green as it falls down her back. Her song fills the air with regret, but the boy stands resolute, their eyes locked together. The singer reaches out with one hand to touch the boy’s cheek, a hopeful lilt in the song’s final wavering notes, and at last he looks away. When he looks back up, the singer is gone, and so are his father’s Pokemon. Wolfgang Bogdanow sets a fire that night, but it will take years to realize he can never burn enough bridges to escape who he is.

In the rare, quiet moments of the night, when the world stills and his breath catches, Wolfgang hears singing, a hopeful, lilting phrase haunting the back of his mind. When he sees the notch on his Bisharp’s helmet, he remembers a dance that changed his world. And throughout his life, when he faces trials and impossible decisions, he will hear snippets of song around a corner or glimpse the silhouette of a dancer under the moon, and he feels secure.

Wolfgang has 3 other Pokemon in reserve for battling. One, a Golduck, with water typing and psychic abilities, covers the weaknesses of Bisharp well, and was utterly unwanted. As he stood on a bridge overlooking a lake, thinking through a heist the following day, Wolfgang was adopted by a Psyduck. The yellow creature waddled up, latched onto his pants leg, and followed Wolfgang home despite being forcibly removed 16 times. When the heist went wrong the next day (an emissary from Volker Bohm tipped the mark off, hoping to weaken Bogdanow prestige), a spontaneous release of psychic energy outside the gates of the mansion granted them the opening they needed for an escape. Golduck is a scrappy fighter, taking any available shot to down its opponent. When Wolfgang turned 18 and was showing promise as a safecracker, his family presented him a Duskull to assist with recon and exit strategy. It is now a Dusknoir and, while still useful in recon, it is also an excellent guard and distraction-maker. His final battler is a Manectric, adopted quietly as an Electrike a few days before Christmas one year when he and Felix were drunk out of their minds and blew the electricity in the apartment. Its Lightning Rod ability keeps Golduck and the rest of the team moving quickly when security teams rely too much on Thunder Wave to trap their quarries. In a situation reminiscent to the Psyduck Incident, soon after me met Kala, a Comfey attached itself to Wolfgang and now lives in his apartment as a nonbattling Pokemon. Wolfgang refuses to have a full set of 6 Pokemon. When asked why, he smiles and shrugs off the question as a few musical notes echo in the back of his head…

Felix has a Kadabra obsessed with World of Warcraft and a Scrafty as devoted to movies as Felix himself.

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Nomi Marks was always more interested in Pokemon technology than Pokemon themselves. The capsule system, with its ability to translate living creatures into light and code, and the vast data network connecting trainer IDs and Pokeballs with GPS satellites and the regulation databases, fascinated her in their scope and complexity. This fascination developed into school research projects, leading to tech message boards, Tor, and, eventually, to Bug.

Bug operates exclusively on the Dark Web, an eccentric presence somewhere between a joke and a legend. He peddles knowledge alongside hardware, and he monitored Nomi’s queries and posts for a month before sending a message. After two hours dropping hints about hacks he’d perpetrated and answering questions about theoretical ID chip workarounds, he invited Nomi to join a loose collection of hackers and misfits he'd brought together. Dedicated to the ideals of online privacy and anti-government surveillance, they helped each other with solo projects, collaborations, and, for teens like Nomi, basic training. A year into their friendship, when investigations surrounding Bug’s biggest project, a hack into the heart of the Pentagon, almost discover his identity, Nomi immediately volunteers to take the fall, pushing the story of a bored teen acting out.

Three years later, in appreciation both of her skill and her previous favor, Bug invites Nomi, now 19, to work together on a new government hack. The two accidentally activate an experimental and quarantined NSA Porygon program that escapes using their code and maps a trail back. Bug thinks it’s cute, and the Porygon asks politely enough, so he lets it stay. Nomi, eyes rolling, calls him an idiot and tells him if he gets arrested, his Joltik better find someone else to look after it. “There’s no way I’m giving that thing any more chances to drop on my head while I’m working!”

Nonetheless, when Nomi decides to quit hacking, Porygon leaves with her, and she’s never been happier to have it by her side.

 

Pride draws more than human crowds every year. A celebration of such joy and intensity attracts Pokemon from miles. Local Chansey and Blissey are distracted, Togetic and Togekiss play over the crowds, and Ralts and Kirlia dance through the streets, absorbing and radiating positive emotion. One Kirlia senses the love between Nomi and Amanita and, drawn to it, spends the day dancing with Neets’ Breloom and trying to make them all laugh. That evening, when Porygon materializes out of Nomi’s phone, Kirlia swings it around in greeting, and Nomi offers him the choice to stay. She uses the first trick Bug taught her, how to activate a Pokeball but disconnect it from the ID register, when the psychic accepts.

An unregistered short-distance Teleporter turns out to be useful in gaining extra distance from, for example, hospitals and unexpected home raids. The authorities still haven’t figured out how Nomi and Amanita manage to slip past guards and investigators so unexpectedly.

 

Neets’ mom, Grace, child of the ‘60s that she is, has a large garden maintained by a mated pair of Meganiums. A corner of the garden, however, is watched over by a moody Shiftry that accompanied her on almost every political march. That slice of garden is off-limits to anyone Shiftry doesn’t approve, but nestled against the back wall, an old fort stands that once protected a young girl and the Shroomish whose pout she insisted matched Shiftry’s own.

 

When Agent Bendix compromises their apartment, and suspecting that Amanita’s mother is still under surveillance, Nomi takes Amanita and seeks refuge with Bug, a master of living off the grid. A Heliolisk, curled lazily in the window and shocking anyone who disturbs it, generates energy for their shack. His mischievous Joltik maintains the wiring and serves as a front-door guard ready to drop Electroweb on unwelcome guests. Meanwhile, an Octillery patrols the water outside. She shoots water jets against the windows to give advance warning on anything shady.

Unfortunately, the shack’s collection of old food and spilled soda attracts a host of unofficial Pokemon. While Rattata are quickly removed for their tendency to get too close to Heliolisk or attack the wiring, Caterpie and Ledyba rummage through the stacks regularly. Bug sets out a daily offering of grape soda for a sugar-addicted Butterfree that staked out a cave as a Caterpie and evolved under his bed.