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Criminal Intent: A Villainous Organization One-Shot Contest


Write on
Hey contest judges! Since it's November 30, what's the status on the judging? Will the results be posted here later today?


Just me
It's not looking like it, no. I'm still a bit behind, and I haven't gotten reviews from either bobandbill or Creepychu so presumably they're not done either. I don't expect it to take too long from this point, though, at least on my end; maybe a week?


The horror
I'm on the cusp of done. Hoping to have it finished by the end of today (so technically on the deadline), but if I'm not the only one holding things up I'd be happy to take a day or two extra to go over the reviews and make sure I haven't rushed over anything important.
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Blackjack Gabbiani

Clearly we're great!
Haha I keep checking back. You know, another way to keep things blind is that the judges can't read the thread. Look how many of us are talking about the ones we wrote.


Just me
That's harder to enforce and means judges can't answer questions that come up! But we could try something like having one thread for the judges to interact with the public and one the judges swear not to look at, or just one thread the judges swear not to look at but a mod (probably the same one who'd anonymize the entries) would relay any questions or issues to them.

If I had admin access I could whip up a plugin that blocks certain users from viewing a certain thread, but alas. :p (Although that could still be gotten around - in theory, if the judges really wanted to cheat, they could just log out.)


Write on
Personally I think the judging system is fine as it is. No need to over-complicate things. But that's just my personal viewpoint.

I totally understand why the results aren't being posted yet - there was that deadline extension. Quick question, can we realistically expect results to be posted by December 7? I'm actually itching to see the results - what other people wrote, what kinds of comments the judges had, and how everyone placed.

Keep up the good work, judges! :)

*goes back to waiting impatiently for the results*


The Ghost Lord
Personally I think the judging system is fine as it is. No need to over-complicate things. But that's just my personal viewpoint.

I totally understand why the results aren't being posted yet - there was that deadline extension. Quick question, can we realistically expect results to be posted by December 7? I'm actually itching to see the results - what other people wrote, what kinds of comments the judges had, and how everyone placed.

Keep up the good work, judges! :)

*goes back to waiting impatiently for the results*

Bolded bit's basically my opinion as well.

But yeah, glad to hear it likely won't be much longer, and echoing the "keep up the good work" part as well.

-twiddles his thumbs-


Winning Smile
Staff member
Super Mod
I also agree with that bold bit. Sure, we want a proper fair system, but at the same time having to not even see any discussion and requiring multiple threads and all just seems like going over the top for what is supposed to be a fun fic contest. (And given we can still see e.g. last posted in a thread, we'd effectively have to ignore the section because otherwise we'd know who possibly has entered the contest by posting something...! Bias is really hard to 100% remove and already won't be possible without getting non-fic people to judge it. Which I highly doubt will happen. =p)

Anyways I'm nearly done myself but wouldn't mind a bit more time to properly finish off things. Been one heck of a busy month for me I'm afraid. I can also aim to be done by the end of the week at worst.

Venia Silente

[](int x){return x;}
Glad to see the judges are doing all right and IMO if they need a bit more time there's no reason not to have it. They gave us the extra time, it's only fair - not to mention it would likely improve the quality of the reviews.

I started my vacations yesterday so I likely won't be back in full (lurker :p ) capacity until Friday so I'll express my eagerness by eating icecream in the meantime. That or napping. Napping is good if you keep it reasonable, people!


The Ghost Lord
Yeah, as solvino said you guys gave us plenty of extra time so only fair we do the same to you, especially since you're all far along enough we very most likely won't get any extremes like, say, the Interpretations contest in that regard (and there were a crapton of extenuating circumstances behind that one itself). So take your time, y'all. I'm eager to see the results, but in no hurry either.

Blackjack Gabbiani

Clearly we're great!
Any idea what the next theme contest will be?


Just me
No, there hasn't been any discussion on the theme for the next contest yet. If you have any good suggestions, by all means make them!

American--Pi said:
Quick question, can we realistically expect results to be posted by December 7?
Yeah, I'm definitely on track to finish before that - that was a deliberately pessimistic estimate. I've almost finished my seventh review now (out of nine); I expect I'll be able to finish that and put together the remaining two in the next few days unless I run into trouble pinning down something I want to talk about regarding those entries or something comes up, but even if that happens, I should be completely free next weekend, so I'll have plenty of time to hammer out whatever remains then (and hopefully give all the entries one last read-over).


The Ghost Lord
*checks the date* It's December 7 now here in California. Just wondering, what's the current status on the reviews and when can we realistically expect the results to be posted?

Mods, smack me if I'm not allowed to say this, but Dragonfree just told me a couple of hours ago she's getting results ready so I'm just gonna give her time and not panic not panic not panic NOT PANIC AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Venia Silente

[](int x){return x;}
American--Pi what did you do, I had set my browser up to auto-refresh the thread list in Author's Cafe every 60 seconds juuuuuust in case something happened and I just! Saw! ACTION! :p

In other news, I'm nooooot hyyyyyyyyped for results. I couldn't care less. Or could, I just don't even know how the idiom goes anymore. Nooooooot reaaaaaally. I'm also an expert liar, in particular during times of stress!

Good luck to all participants and thanks to the judges, as usual.


Just me
Criminal Intent: A Villainous Organization One-Shot Contest
Final results

I hope you're all ready for some results!

As in previous years, the entries were ranked from first to ninth place by each of the four judges. Each place gives a certain number of points:

1st place: 110 points
2nd place: 90 points
3rd place: 75 points
4th place: 60 points
5th place: 50 points
6th place: 40 points
7th place: 30 points
8th place: 20 points
9th place: 10 points

Each entry's final score is the sum of the points it got from each of the judges, and their final placings are determined by this combined score.

We had a lot of great entries this year, and the judges had some wildly varying opinions on the rankings, so the results are a bit of a rollercoaster. As in previous years, the entries will be posted in order from ninth to first place, with each accompanied by its rankings and reviews from each of the judges, except where the entry is too long to be posted in full with all the reviews, in which case an excerpt of the first scene will be posted instead. Please do not post here until all the results have been posted. The posts have been prepared in advance, so it should only take a few minutes to post them.

We hope you enjoyed participating or observing the contest and that everyone will check out all the wonderful entries we got!

Now, without further ado...


Just me
9th place: Finding Ghetsis by ASCIInerd73

bobandbill: 9th place (10 points)
Creepychu: 9th place (10 points)
Dragonfree: 9th place (10 points)
Sike Saner: 9th place (10 points)
Total: 40 points

Zinzolin was sitting by a plain white table with the insignia of Team Plasma on it. He was surrounded by a few aides, recording transcripts, handling calls, and things like that. Across from him at the table were the Shadow Triad. Zinzolin was listening as the members of the Shadow Triad talked to him, but his face

“No! Ghetsis had such fire burning inside of him. And you are telling me it just went out, like that,” said Zinzolin.

“Our Lord Ghetsis can’t do anything anymore,” replied the first Shadow Triad member. “Something inside of him broke.”

“I don’t believe it! You’re traitors, trying to stop Team Plasma from reforming, and I won’t tolerate it! Leave now!” Zinzolin commanded.

“We have no business being here if you wish to search for Ghetsis,” replied the second Shadow Triad member.

“When he left, he told us to not search for him, so we won’t,” continued the third Shadow Triad member. “Goodbye.” And all three Shadow Triad members disappeared simultaneously.

Zinzolin then turned to his secretary, who had been writing down everything that had happened previously, and said “I need to come into contact with all the old members. We need to get this team back and running.”

“Yes, sir!” said the secretary, before running off to fulfill the command he was given.

“Now, we need to get the grunts better pokemon. We can’t have them just carrying around Patrat and Purrloin and trying to beat new trainers that are gifted and on the way to becoming champions or other significant people,” Zinzolin said. “We made that mistake the past two times, and it allowed little kids from some unknown place to defeat us. We can’t allow this problem to continue, so allow grunts to catch and train their own pokemon.”

“But sir,” said another assistant of Zinzolin’s, “what if they cause an uprising and try to take control of Team Plasma? I’m loyal to you, sir, but others in Team Plasma are loyal to themselves. If they get the chance to take over, why won’t they?”

“I should amend my statement. All members of Team Plasma are allowed to catch and train their own pokemon. Those who are personally loyal to us, that is to say, Lord Ghetsis and I, will remain stronger than those whose loyalty is for personal gain or to any underling of ours,” Zinzolin said.

“How will you do that, sir?” asked the assistant. “I mean no disrespect, sir, but I don’t see how you will be sure of us being stronger.”

“You know what?” Zinzolin said. “I think that you should be allowed to get your own pokemon early. Those personally loyal to me have ten days off to go get whatever pokemon they wish to train, more powerful the pokemon and the more you catch, the better. In ten days time, I expect you all to be back here. Then, the grunts can start catching and training their own pokemon. Until then, news of this change is to not leave this room.”

“Yes, sir!” said all the staff members.

“You are free to leave, now,“ said Zinzolin. “But, Aldith, wait behind. I need to speak with you.”

“What is it, sir?” Aldith, another one of the assistants, asked.

“I am assigning you with an important task,” Zinzolin said. “Once the rest of the grunts hear about this and go catch their own pokemon, I need you to keep track of which grunts have which pokemon. Now, go on, I need time to think alone.”

A week later, the Casteliacone restaurant was very crowded, as was normal for that time of summer. It was filled with people, more than there had been at the restaurant ever since it opened after remodeling to handle the old Casteliacone stand being too crowded.

At one table were a few people that were assistants of Ghetsis. They were talking about the pokemon they had caught and were going to train.

“I just caught a Riolu and a Ralts.” said Barrett, a member of Team Plasma.

“Just two?” asked Aldith. “I caught several. I now have a Marill, a Magnemite, an Excadrill, and a Ferrothorn.”

“Yeah, we will be much better this time around. No more dealing with those stupid Zubats we had to use before,” Barrett said. “Now, it’s time to go any try again for world domination.”

“We should probably start heading back now.” said Weiss, another Team Plasma member. “Zinzolin would be furious if we were late.”

A few days later, there was a huge commotion at the Team Plasma headquarters. “Wait, we can catch our own pokemon? We don’t have to use the pokemon Team Plasma provides anymore?” asked another grunt.

“Yes,” said Aldith.”Just make sure to record which pokemon you catch with me.”

Quite quickly, the Team Plasma grunts had left to go catch their own pokemon, pokemon that they wanted to catch instead of all the Zubats and Trubbishes that they had been forced to catch previously.

The next day, at Team Plasma headquarters, Zinzolin had gotten a bunch of his personal supporters into a room, and he was pitching an idea to them.

“So, you want us to sneak into the rare candy manufacturing facility in Castelia City and steal some rare candies?” Barrett asked.

“Yes,” said Zinzolin. “Also, this rare candy manufacturing facility is owned by Silph Co., which my intelligence claims is secretly owned by Team Rocket. This way, we get lots of extra resources, and our rivals get severely hindered.”

“Alright, we need a way to break in,” Barrett started to plan. “Aldith, do you have-”

“I just hacked in and now I can start loading the blueprints,” Aldith interrupted. “Give me a minute and we should be able to start planning.”

“OK,” Barrett continued. “Once Aldith hacks in, we can find the weak spot and break in. Schwarz and Weiss will come in first and take out the guards. Aldith, you direct the operation through the headsets. I’ll take the Rare Candies back to the cars. Lastly, Togari will wait in the truck, and then, when I get there, drive off with me and the rare candies. Schwarz and Weiss will get back here on your own. Does that sound like a plan?”

“Download complete. Now, we can start looking for a weak point.” said Aldith.

“I think there is a weakness, in the waste drainage into the Castelia Sewers,” said Zinzolin. “There should be no waste coming out after hours. All we have to do is sneak in through there, and we can get inside the production line.”

“Do you think Schwarz and Weiss can handle getting past four guards?” Aldith asked.

“They’ve faced worse odds and won before,” Zinzolin commented.

“Ok, sounds like a plan,” Baret said. “I’ll go tell everyone else what is happening and we should be at the Castelia Sewers by sunset.”

At sunset, a group of Team Plasma members converged at Thumb Pier.

“Ready?” Barrett asked.

“Yes, sir!” Togari, Schwarz, and Weiss all replied.

“Take these earpieces,” Barrett commanded. “We should be able to talk to each other on these, even if you just whisper.”

Schwarz, Togari, and Weiss all grabbed an earpiece and put it in their ear.

“Can everyone hear me?” Aldith asked, over the earpieces.

“Yes,” everyone replied in unison.

“Try not to talk so loudly, we can all hear you if you whisper and, if you’re too loud, you might hurt someone’s ears.” Aldith told them. “I have hacked into the security cameras. They should not be able to see what is happening, but the cameras being all frozen might make them suspicious. Try to get in and then get out as quickly as possible, and without letting anyone set off an alarm.”

Togari went back into the truck that they all rode in over there, and Schwarz, Weiss, and Barrett all walked into the sewers. They walked across the sewers until they reached the right spot, and then Barrett sent out a Smeargle.

“Ok Smeargle,” Barrett said. “Once we get in there, use Seed Flare to clean up any pollutants.”

“Why does your Smeargle know Seed Flare?” Weiss asked.

“That move has been useful before.” Barrett said, with tone of finality.

They started walking down the sewer pipe that had to be ten feet tall and twenty feet wide to handle all the waste produced. Barrett’s Smeargle led the way, occasionally using Seed Flare to clean up the pollutants. Barrett, Schwarz, and Weiss followed behind closely, all with looks of worry on their faces, lit up by the pale, wavering light of Smeargle’s occasional Seed Flares, as well as light coming in from the factory up ahead.

After quite a while of walking, they eventually came close to the factory, and the plan had started to unfold. Barrett hid behind the end of the pipe, as Weiss and Schwarz started to go after the guards. Schwarz sent out a Musharna, and it snuck around and used Hypnosis to put the guards to sleep. Meanwhile, Barrett recalled his Smeargle back into its pokeball.

“Guards asleep, you can come in now,” Schwarz told Barrett.

Barrett walked inside cautiously, looking around.

“You should be at the production line. Schwarz and Weiss, you go ahead and put to sleep any guards you might find. Barrett, turn left, and walk ahead. Don’t walk into any of the machinery, that would set off alarms and you’d be overwhelmed by dozens of guards within a minute,” Aldith warned.

“Ok. We’ll be careful,” Barrett replied.

Barrett, Schwarz, and Weiss all moved down the conveyor belt, to the end. Schwarz, Weiss, and Schwarz’s Musharna all went out in front and stayed alert for any guards or obstacles.

They walked all the way down the assembly line and reached the end, where a big industrial-sized crate full of rare candies were laid out.

“By my calculations from watching the security cameras, that contains roughly 10,000 rare candies,” Aldith informed.

“This should be a great haul,” Barrett said. “Schwarz, Weiss, you two keep an eye out for any guards, and I’ll get this stuff back to base.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Schwarz and Weiss said in unison.

“Ok. Go, Kirlia!” Barrett said as he threw a pokeball. Out of the pokeball came a Kirlia. “Ok, Kirlia, use Telekinesis to carry these Rare Candies, and then follow behind me.”

Schwarz and Weiss walked out in front of of everyone else, and then Barrett was behind them. Barrett’s Kirlia was in the back, carrying the crate of rare candies. They all walked back the way they came, and no guards were encountered. At the entrance to the sewers, Schwarz and Weiss waited behind as Barrett and his Kirlia went through with the Rare Candies.

Right as Barrett and his Kirlia entered the sewers and Barrett sent out his Smeargle to clean up any pollutants that might be still in the sewers, the alarm went off.

“We’ll take care of them,” Schwarz reassured.

“Yes, hurry on and take them back to base,” Weiss continued.

Barrett hurried down the sewers, with his Smeargle and Kirlia following close behind. Behind him, Barrett could hear mostly silence, occasionally punctuated by Schwarz yelling, “Musharna, use Hypnosis!” or Weiss yelling, “Breloom, use Spore!”

Barrett got out of the sewers and back to Togari, who was waiting in the truck. His Kirlia telekinetically lifted the crate of rare candies into the bed of the truck, and then Barrett recalled his pokemon and got inside the passenger’s seat. Togari slammed on the gas and the truck sped away.

“Are Schwarz and Weiss going to get out of there?” Togari asked.

“Don’t you know?” Barrett asked in reply. “You have an earpiece, don’t you?”

“I think my earpiece broke,” Togari answered.

“Well, Schwarz and Weiss are probably going to-” Barrett answered before being interrupted by Schwarz yelling, “We got out of the sewers, where are you?”

“Schwarz, Weiss, we left without you. We’ll come back and pick you up at the Castelia Plaza. Wait by the entrance to Castelia Street, we’ll pick you up there,” Barrett addressed to Schwarz and Weiss, before telling Togari, “Go by the Castelia Plaza. You heard me say where to meet them.”

The truck suddenly turned and went back towards Castelia Plaza. It took a few moments to get because they traveled under speed limit to avoid gathering suspicion, and then they got to the Castelia Street portion of Castelia Plaza, where they picked up Schwarz and Weiss. The truck then drove off towards Team Plasma headquarters.



It was neat to explore Plasma continuing their operations following the B2W2 plot. I caught on straightaway given the mention of Ghetsis being ‘broken’. It was also nice to see both the Sages do more (and furthermore seeing them work as a team like that), and also you addressed the whole ‘grunts with the same Pokemon’ deal. Nice to see that limit relaxed!

Unfortunately the story felt rushed and unfinished in a sense. Some details were lacking, for instance:
He was surrounded by a few aides, recording transcripts, handling calls, and things like that.
Using the phrase ”things like that” makes it seem that you as the narrator are uncertain of what they were doing, . Mind you, this is a nitpick more than anything, but given it’s at the story’s beginning it was perhaps more noticeable. Also, early on was this unfinished sentence:
Zinzolin was listening as the members of the Shadow Triad talked to him, but his face
There was a bit too much telling as opposed to showing for my liking, and sometimes repetition of facts as well. The idea of grunts getting to catch their own Pokemon as I said before was neat, but I felt that particular point was repeated too often – Zinzolin explained how it would work, such as how they would keep track of who caught what, and then soon after the grunts were told that they had to have their Pokemon caught reported to higher ups, which... was fairly similar information.

Meanwhile, it would have been nice to have seen more of the effects and implications of the grunts allowed to use other Pokemon now. It is a neat observation that I felt could have been expanded against, and also interesting to consider a lowly grunt suddenly going off and getting a partner that isn’t a weak Purrloin or a smelly Trubbish (no offence intended to that line of Pokemon!).

As another example:
Schwarz and Weiss walked out in front of of everyone else, and then Barrett was behind them. Barrett’s Kirlia was in the back, carrying the crate of rare candies. They all walked back the way they came, and no guards were encountered. At the entrance to the sewers, Schwarz and Weiss waited behind as Barrett and his Kirlia went through with the Rare Candies.
Here there was a lack of urgency created. They’re escaping this factory, but we don’t get as much fear or uncertainty from them as I would have liked, just that these two people walked in front, Kirlia carrying it in the back, then they walked, then Kirlia carried the rare candies back. Showing more on what they do while they travel back, some mention of detail such as maybe constantly looking about, or having quicker, shallower breaths, would give us a better sense that they are doing something risky and.

(Also, in this paragraph there was a repeated ‘of’, and also an inconsistency with capitalising rare candies. Either way (Rare Candies/rare candies) have their merits, but it should be one or the other, not a mixture.)

And when they stole the Rare Candies the story suddenly ended, and it felt rather abrupt. I’m not sure what the exact purpose of the rare candies were beyond for strengthening Pokemon and the bonus of hurting TR. On that note, while the point of weakening TR by stealing from a company run by them has some merits, I don’t personally feel that Plasma were directly in league with TR, and this point didn’t seem to add much to the story. It was alright as a tangent ‘teams rival other teams’ aspect, but as it wasn’t explored any further, it felt unfulfilled.

A couple other points:
“Now, it’s time to go any try again for world domination.”
and instead of any.
“Ok, sounds like a plan,” Baret said.
’OK’ or ‘Okay’, rather than Ok. This happened a few other times as well.
“That move has been useful before.” Barrett said, with tone of finality.
The full stop after ‘before’ should become a comma, and I would word it as ‘with a tone of finality’.

While there’s a good basis, and I would be interested to see more, the story did feel a bit bare and rushed given its ending. I hope you extend this outside of the deadline nature of fic contests however!


This entry unfortunately feels like a case of things happening without anything being accomplished. Your chosen starting point has a lot of potential for great plot, since the period between Team Plasma disbanding and reforming is rife with potential stories, both organizational (since the team is weakened and on the run from law enforcement) and personal (since many of the team's members just got a very rude awakening). Unfortunately, for all of that potential conflict, there really is no actual conflict to be found here. The characters simply decide to do things, and then accomplish their goals offscreen, no trouble; no complications. Possible difficulties are occasionally mentioned, such as when the anonymous attendant brings up the possibility that grunts might attempt to seize power for themselves, but consequences either fail to happen or are handwaved away. Not only does this break suspension of disbelief, but conflict is also the essential driving force behind plot and characterization. Conflicts and complications add investment and meaning to your characters' actions because they make the final outcome uncertain, they help the reader relate to the characters because having to deal with problems is a human universal that everyone can appreciate, and they add depth to characters by showing not just how they behave when they are strong and successful but also when they are weak, frightened, and failing. Without a conflict to provide stakes, there is simply no reason for your reader to get invested because there's no uncertainty to what's going to happen and whatever happens has no real payoff because nothing is being resolved.

This is particularly frustrating because you did have every possibility of giving us conflict, and good conflict at that. The possibility of a revolt from the Grunts, for instance, could easily have made for an intriguing story. It'd have been a perfect opportunity to show Ghetsis's and Zinolin's strengths (and weakness) at leadership, the loyalty of dedicated members like Barret and what lengths they are willing to go to stand up for the team, the dissatisfaction and rebelliousness of the grunts, the intrigue and power plays involved in getting the Team to accept the new leadership structure. All potentially great character moments. Equally, you could have gone for a heist type story with the whole rare candy plot at the end, having a few core members of Team Plasma infiltrate some facility under high security, get the goods and attempt to get out in one piece despite overwhelming odds. Instead, whenever a potential plotline came up, you immediately stopped it. The whole idea of Grunt disloyalty gets shot down in a single sentence, which itself is hard to buy since if they were genuinely on the verge of a hostile takeover there's no way a ten-day delay on getting to go hog wild picking up new pokémon would make or break things for them. The whole factory hit is trivialized first by two one-line handwaves, one stating that all the cameras had been blanket 'hacked' with no explanation of how, followed by the guards apparently being all put to sleep off screen. Oh, and Smeargle knows Seed Flare because 'it has been useful before'. To not even give a token explanation for that one is particularly lazy, especially since there's no in-story reason that the move has to be a distinctive legendary-only move like Seed Flare in the first place. It just feels like an attempt to make the character feel more powerful or special that falls flat because there is no conflict to give obtaining or using that move any meaning.

The second major issue with your writing is a lack of individual character voice. Every character from named protagonist to one-off bit characters speaks in the same style and register, which - when you combine it with the lack of conflicting motives - makes them all basically interchangeable with each other. To demonstrate:
“Yes,” said ---.”Just make sure to record which pokemon you catch with me.”
“Yes,” said ---. “Also, this rare candy manufacturing facility is owned by Silph Co., which my intelligence claims is secretly owned by Team Rocket. This way, we get lots of extra resources, and our rivals get severely hindered.”
These two lines are from what should be very different characters, yet without the speech tag to identify them I've found no way to tell the speakers apart. A mark of well-written dialogue is that you can identify which character any given line goes with simply by looking at what is said and how they say it. Without those distinguishing markers, you're forced to rely on constant speech tags to keep clarity, which clutters your prose and makes extended dialogues read very repetitive because you need to keep finding ways to say 'character x said another thing'. In general, you should not need to make reference to any given speaker 's name in a conversation more than once unless you need to mark a change in their expression or tone and ideally you should be able to understand who is speaking after a while even when there are no dialogue tags to fall back on. For future proofreading, I'd recommend that you make a version of your text with all the character names blanked out and try to see if you can still keep track of conversations. If you can't, that's a good indication that you need to vary up your character voices more.

For the third major point, your beginnings and endings need work. Your opening and ending lines are very important because they sit in places that naturally draw a reader's attention, so you'll really want to make them count. The opening line is a new reader's first impression of your story and it's your chance to introduce them to the central plot thread or set the atmosphere and tone for things to come, whereas the ending line will be the last thought your story leaves with the reader, which makes it ideal for finishing the idea you started with your opening line and giving the reader a sense of closure. In this story's case, however, neither line really pulls that weight. We open with a conversation about N's defection from the team, and yet what you choose to focus us on in the opening line is a plain description of the meeting room and a line telling us that Zinolin is listening, when you could instead have shown us the conversation he is listening to. Similarly, your ending line is not any of the wrap-up for the heist or any final thoughts from characters involved but rather just a plain description of a truck driving in accordance with speed limit. It's a very anti-climactic image to end on and honestly feels like something I'd expect to find in the middle of a story rather than at the end of it.
There are also some more minor things, such as a number of awkward grammatical choices and typos, not to mention your misuse of 'said' in conjunction with exclamations;
“No! Ghetsis had such fire burning inside of him. And you are telling me it just went out, like that,” said Zinzolin.
“Yes, sir!” said the secretary, before running off to fulfill the command he was given.
But to be honest, the major issues here are what I'd recommend focusing on. Establish characters, establish what those characters want, establish what's preventing them from getting what they want, and then show us what both sides do about it and how that affects them and give us detail on that. What makes stories and characters interesting isn't where they start or even where they end up but rather all the ups and downs in the middle, and it's just bad storytelling form to skip over all the juicy parts.


So you've written a heist fic here - in fact, the only entry in this contest to focus on a villainous organization's actual criminal activities. I've got to admit I was hoping for something like this when planning this contest: seeing an evil team hatch and execute one of their plans from their point of view is something we don't usually get to see in canon, and I was thrilled somebody took on that challenge.

That said, I think there are a few issues keeping this piece from being as tight and entertaining as it could be.

First, the story feels oddly disjointed, as it's split into two almost completely unrelated parts. The first half of it is about Zinzolin trying to revive Team Plasma after the events of B2/W2 and deciding to start by letting grunts catch and train their own Pokémon, while the second half is about the team of grunts executing the Rare Candy heist. The Rare Candy heist seems very tangential to Zinzolin's overall plan, and we don't end up following up on his efforts to revive the team after the heist at all; meanwhile, the only thing the first half does for the heist part is explain why the grunts have the Pokémon they do, which could just as well have been done in a couple of lines of dialogue. All in all, I feel like either you changed your mind on what you wanted to write about halfway through, or you meant to write more about Zinzolin after the heist but didn't have time. It's understandable if you couldn't finish what you wanted to do before the deadline, but unfortunately it leaves your entry in a very strange state - either something is missing or something is extraneous.

The second big issue is the heist itself, which I'm afraid wasn't terribly exciting as it played out in the story. It just went too smoothly. Every part of the plan worked perfectly; the only complication was right near the end, when they'd already secured the Rare Candy; and even then, Schwarz and Weiss simply took care of it off-screen. Stories thrive on complications! Excitement is watching the protagonists' plan go horribly wrong, seeing absolutely no way out for them, and cheering as we see how they succeed by the skin of their teeth anyway. When everything goes according to plan and nothing bad happens, the protagonists' struggles just don't seem any more difficult or dangerous than your average trip to the supermarket.

Outright catastrophe isn't the only way to create excitement, of course, but it is necessary for the reader to actually fear for the protagonists on a gut level, one way or another. Many stories show the protagonists' plan appearing to fail, only for it to turn out that the apparent failure was part of the plan all along, for instance - we think they're failing until we find out the truth, so we still feel that tension as we wonder how they're going to get out of this. Alternatively, the story can simply bring us into the moment and really show us how close everything comes to going wrong. If you actually showed us Schwarz and Weiss holding back the guards, coming within an inch of defeat before just barely clawing their way to victory, that would be exciting. Leaving them there while we follow Barrett and Togari (who are in no immediate danger) is a lot less so. Similarly, showing us the grunts trying to put the guards to sleep one after another without catching the attention of the other guards looming just around the corner - the way they hold their breaths and jump at any noise, the way they have to quickly find a hiding place when the guards hear something and come to investigate - would be exciting; merely saying Schwarz and Weiss led the way and watched out for any guards isn't really.

Part of the issue is simply that you have a tendency to summarize. Summarizing to quickly give the reader information where the details aren't important is good, but when it comes to the actual meat of your story, summarizing distances the reader from what's going on: we don't feel like we're there with the characters, but rather like somebody is telling us about what happened afterwards. It's a lot easier, because it reduces the need to plan out and choreograph everything in detail, but it almost always removes the tension and impact from what's going on. For a story like this, where the actual events that happen ("Team Plasma steals a bunch of Rare Candy") aren't that interesting just to hear about in themselves, making that extra effort to plan out and picture the details that make it exciting is crucial.

Those are the big, overarching concerns, but there were some individual bits of the story that bothered me as well. If the grunts have subpar Pokémon simply because the team arbitrarily restricted them from catching and training their own, and this is what made them vulnerable, why did they ever do it that way? Zinzolin's assistant worries the grunts might try to take over if they have strong Pokémon, implying that's why they had that rule, but if some grunts really wanted to use force to take over the team, they could simply catch and train their own Pokémon in secret anyway - it's the ones loyal to the team who'd actually follow the rules. And all Zinzolin gets Aldith to do to enforce the rules is simply ask the grunts to report their catches to her. Again, any members scheming to take over by training more powerful Pokémon than they should would just not tell her about it - if that's the only means they have of knowing what Pokémon the members have, it's easy for any rebel faction to train extra Pokémon that Plasma simply doesn't know about.

The second and third scenes of the story - the one with the grunts talking at the Casteliacone restaurant and the brief one after that where they've just announced to the grunts that they can train their own Pokémon - feel a bit unnecessary and redundant. The first scene told us that this is what they're planning to do, so we can guess the loyal members go on to catch a bunch of Pokémon for the next ten days and then they tell the other grunts - you don't need to show us that happening if it just goes according to the plan you already told us. In a somewhat similar way, you probably don't need to show us the planning for the Rare Candy heist, because we're about to see them do all the things they're talking about anyway - watching the planning too doesn't really add anything. So, in general, you might want to think about whether the scenes you're writing add to the story you're telling. Would the reader be confused or the story be worse if you took out this scene? If not, you should probably cut it, or use that time and space to write a scene that really enhances the story.

You aimed high with this entry, and it may have been a bit too high - I gather you didn't manage to do everything you wanted here in the time allotted. I love the idea of getting a look into an evil team's criminal operations and the efforts to revive the leaderless Team Plasma, but unfortunately the overall execution didn't quite manage to do the concept justice in the time you had.

Sike Saner

Across from him at the table were the Shadow Triad. Zinzolin was listening as the members of the Shadow Triad talked to him, but his face
But his face what?

A similar issue popped up later on:

It took a few moments to get because they traveled under speed limit to avoid gathering suspicion,

It took a few moments to get what, exactly?

Every so often, a phrase or sentence jumped out at me on account of being, well, kind of awkward. These, unfortunately, proved to be something of an obstacle in really getting into this story. Whenever one popped up, I had to stop and mentally rearrange it into something that flowed more easily (e.g. "I don't see how you can be sure that we'll be stronger" instead of "I don't see how you will be sure of us being stronger"). But there was one point where I just plain couldn't come up with a fix:

It was filled with people, more than there had been at the restaurant ever since it opened after remodeling to handle the old Casteliacone stand being too crowded.

Even now, I'm at a loss for how to smooth it out.

I also noticed a few commas that should probably be something other than commas:

Now, go on, I need time to think alone.

Those personally loyal to me have ten days off to go get whatever pokemon they wish to train, more powerful the pokemon and the more you catch, the better.

The bolded ones here should be either semicolons or periods setting off two separate sentences.

Those who are personally loyal to us, that is to say, Lord Ghetsis and I, will remain stronger than those whose loyalty is for personal gain or to any underling of ours,

These, meanwhile, could stand to be em dashes/double hyphens.

Quite quickly, the Team Plasma grunts had left to go catch their own pokemon, pokemon that they wanted to catch instead of all the Zubats and Trubbishes that they had been forced to catch previously.
Pokémon species' names are their own plurals, like moose and squid. So "zubats and trubbishes" would become "zubat and trubbish".

“Ok, sounds like a plan,” Baret said. “I’ll go tell everyone else what is happening and we should be at the Castelia Sewers by sunset.”
At sunset, a group of Team Plasma members converged at Thumb Pier.
It looks as though there's a missing line break between those two paragraphs, seeing as that was another scene change.

“We’ll take care of them,” Schwarz reassured.
"Reassured" is a transitive verb; it needs an object, such as "them".

The ending of the fic... didn't really feel like an ending, somehow. A chapter ending, maybe, but not one for an entire story. I think this really would work much better as part of a chapterfic. Maybe then there'd be something preceding or following it that'd really pull me in. As it stood, though... again, between that not-quite-a-complete-story-on-its-own feeling and the technical rough spots, I just had a hard time getting into this one.


Just me
8th place: The T.R.A.S.H. by American--Pi

bobandbill: 8th place (20 points)
Creepychu: 7th place (30 points)
Dragonfree: 8th place (20 points)
Sike Saner: 7th place (30 points)
Total: 100 points

Author's Notes: Unlike all of my previous stories, this one-shot is primarily comedic in nature. I admit I have never written anything primarily comedic before in recent memory. While I had some doubts about trying a new genre for the first time as a contest entry, this idea was so good I couldn't not write it. It took me a while to come up with this idea, so I hope you enjoy it. :)

"The T.R.A.S.H."
A one-shot for the Criminal Intent contest
by American--Pi

So you really expect me to talk?

Why would you ask me things, anyways? If you want information you should interview the boss. It was his stupid idea to take over the Pokemon World. I tried to convince him to stick to smaller crimes, but did he listen? No! It's like my opinions don't matter. Excuse me, Giovanni, but I'm the T.R.A.S.H.

It stands for Team Rocket Artistic Services House, okay? My office is an actual house, located right next to Team Rocket's headquarters. I live and work there. My job happens to be very important, although my title leaves a lot to be desired. I swear to Arceus, one day I'm going to find whoever came up with that acronym and chuck blueberries at him until he cries.

What? Blueberries are disgusting. They're like cold, fossilized Pokemon droppings, only blue. I just ruined blueberries for you forever? Good. You suck anyways.

No, I won't talk. Didn't I tell you that already? For Arceus's sake, just interview Giovanni or something. He's the boss, so he knows everything.

...What? He's dead?


Well, that sucks.

Wait, how did he die?

...Oof. Ow.

I guess Team Rocket is finished, then. On the bright side, now I get to tell you a story!

I know, I know. Just a few seconds ago I said I wouldn't talk. But that was before I found out that Giovanni was dead. Now that he's dead I feel so free! The truth is, I'm a lonely woman. I've been wanting to tell someone this story for ages, but my very important job in the ranks of Team Rocket prevented me from talking. I am so glad that I get to talk now! And you are going to listen, whether you like it or not.

Wait, you're actually going to listen? Well. Um, I'm not used to being listened to, at all. Th-thank you, I guess.

You should probably grab several large heads of broccoli now, because we're going to be here for a while.

Aren't you going to eat the broccoli while we talk?

WHAT? What do you mean, you don't like broccoli?! What the heck is wrong with you?! Broccoli is the best food in the world! UGH. I can't believe you. Give me a few hours while I freak out over the fact that you don't like broccoli. UGH!

-One minute later-

Fine. If you really don't like broccoli, I guess you can grab whatever food you eat when you interrogate people.

...No, I mean literally. Go do it. And while you're at it, you might as well get me five large heads of broccoli. Make sure they're ready to eat, okay? Oh, and they'd gotta be organic. Inorganic broccoli is for losers.

-Fifteen minutes later-

Back already? You must be really interested in hearing my story. And, quite frankly, I'm flattered. Did you get my broccoli? Thanks, this is perfect.

What did you get for yourself, by the way? Cookies? COOKIES?! What kind of a weirdo are you? Cookies are the WORST! Okay, maybe not as bad as blueberries, but they're still pretty bad.

...I really, really don't get you.

Anyways, enough about you, let's talk about me.

You can call me M. My real name is Marmalade Jellington, but every time someone calls me that I throw a blueberry at him. See, this is why I used to work for a criminal organization. If you have a name like mine, either you deal with it or you turn to the dark side. And since the dark side - in this case, Team Rocket - offered me a good amount of money, the choice was a no-brainer.

Like I said before, I'm the T.R.A.S.H. I'm in charge of drawing and designing everything Team Rocket uses. Those snazzy uniforms that everyone wore? They were designed by yours truly. Our gadgets? Our scientists made sure they worked, but I made sure they looked good. Nobody in Team Rocket does artistic stuff as well as I do. In fact, whenever someone's project needs some snazzing up, he's often told, "Send it to the T.R.A.S.H."

My title is so stupid.

I also design propaganda posters, write speeches, and eat lots and lots of broccoli.

As you can probably tell, broccoli is my love and life. Every day, I marvel over how creative, amazing, and wonderful Arceus was to bring such a heavenly vegetable into existence. The crunchy, succulent stems! The lush, leafy florets! Have I mentioned how tasty and nutritious it is? Broccoli is great with cheese or bell peppers, but usually I just love to take a huge bunch of broccoli and just chomp on it. Speaking of which, I only have one head left?! How did that happen?! I guess I'll have to eat slowly, then.

Wait, you'd do that for me? You're being awfully nice to me - what's in it for you? Nothing? So you're saying that some people are nice just because they like being nice? Wow. I guess I need to go out more. Sorry about my broccoli rant, by the way. It's just that broccoli is the best thing in the world…

I'll stop now. Well, aren't you going to get the extra broccoli? Thanks.

-Fifteen minutes later-

You know, for a member of the police, you're pretty cool. I take back what I said about you sucking.

Now that we both have things to nom on, can I finally tell you my story? Cool. You know how Team Rocket is divided into units? Well, each unit has its own motto, and I am the one who writes each and every motto used by each and every unit.

What? You really thought they wrote their own mottos? Pfft. Excuse me, but who's the professional here? Wait for it… me, myself, and I!

The story I'm about to tell you is about none other than Jessie, James, and Meowth, the unit that we at Headquarters like to call "Team Losers". Yes, we called them that even before they helped thwart Giovanni's world domination schemes. Because, honestly, out of all of our forces they were easily the most incompetent. I mean, how hard can it be to steal a Pikachu and give it to the boss? They were never really villain material to begin with, which is why they didn't support Giovanni's plan, I guess. But that's another story.

Me and Team Losers… well, we didn't get along very well. Jessie and I were both people who really wanted to have their way, although I'd gotten used to not being listened to. But since I'm the T.R.A.S.H. and the only T.R.A.S.H., they had to leave the motto-writing to me.

Team Losers have had, like, four mottos so far. Or was it five? I can't remember. Point is, after using their original motto - which I took the time to write, by the way - for the longest time, they had the nerve to ask me to write a new one! I was like, "Are you freaking serious? I get it, times are changing, but do you really have to show me so much disrespect and just throw away the motto I worked so hard on? Why can't you just keep the motto you have now, and add the special effects that I asked you to add ages ago?"

What special effects, you ask? Ah, those are my pride and joy. You may not know this, but I was in charge of all of Team Rocket's special effects. I LOVE special effects! If I had my Special Effects Crew with me, there would've been a huge background explosion behind me, followed by an image of a huge, glittering head of broccoli. Unfortunately, I don't have my Special Effects Crew with me, which means our conversation is way more boring than it could be.

Special effects are awesome. No motto is complete without them. Ah, special effects. Special. Effects.

Unfortunately, at that time Team Losers didn't take my suggestion of using their original motto with special effects. Ugh. To this day I still wonder why I bothered to collaborate with them.

Anyways, before Team Losers traveled through the Kanto Battle Frontier, I had to write a new motto for them. And they insisted on special effects too - I can't believe they had the nerve to do that! But I was gleeful to comply with their request, because special effects are always awesome.

And then Team Losers went to Sinnoh, and can you guess what happened? They requested another new motto! Same thing happened when they arrived in Unova. You see? This is why I'm so bitter. At least Team Losers had a habit of asking me for more and more special effects. I had a lot of fun with those.

Then, when Team Losers was about to go to the Decolore Islands, something happened that almost made me pull my hair out. And that's really saying something, because I really love my hair.

I was sitting in my office, working on my assignment to redesign Giovanni's office, when the videophone rang. When I answered it I saw that it was Jessie. I hung up immediately. I really didn't want to deal with Team Losers at the moment, because I had the feeling that they would say something extremely stupid.

I was right.

The videophone rang again, and after it rang for a while I picked it up reluctantly because I knew I would lose money if I turned down a request.

"This is M, also known as the T.R.A.S.H., but please don't call me that," I grumbled to the phone. "What stupid task does Team Losers need me to do now? If it's a mecha, I'll just send one of my old designs to the scientists. No one will notice."

"Don't call us losers, M," Jessie said curtly.

"We do everything in style, and you should know a thing or two about style," James pointed out, joining Jessie at the phone.

Team Losers' stupid talking Meowth popped in as well. "We're no fools! Team Rocket's doing it cool!" he added.

Ugh, I hate, hate, hate the way Team Losers rhymes everything they say. I'm okay with poetry when it's being used properly, like in an awesome motto. But rhyming everything is just going overboard. The fact that Team Losers was doing it made the rhyming worse.

"Meowth, quit it with the rhymes," I growled. I was losing some of my fabulous hair already, so I grabbed a handful of broccoli, stuffed it in my mouth, and chewed it viciously. "Just tell me, what do you losers want?"

"Ew, we can see chewed-up broccoli in your mouth," James complained.

"That's a Y.P., not an M.P.," I said.

"And what does that mean?" Jessie asked.

I was getting a migraine from dealing with these guys, and it had only been a few minutes. I sighed, preparing myself for the ordeal that was to follow.

"That's your problem, not my problem, that's what it means!" I shouted. "Tell me what you want or I'll call my Special Effects Crew."

"Fine," James said. "M, I think it's time that we changed our motto. And we all agreed that we missed the good old days. So we would like to go back to our first motto, only with more special effects, for nostalgia's sake."

"However, it has been quite a while since we used that motto," Jessie added. "So can we come to the T.R.A.S.H. and rehearse the motto, and also work out the special effects?"

I just stood there as everything they said sank in. I started breathing heavily as intense anger boiled inside me. At that moment I wished my eyes could shoot out blueberries, but then I realized how disgusting that would be. Ugh. Time to think about something else.

"M?" Meowth asked as I stood there seething. "Um, M, are you okay?"

Side note: I just hate it when people ask if I'm okay when I'm clearly not.

"NO, I'M NOT OKAY!" I yelled. I was just flipping out. I kept a bowl of blueberries on my desk in case someone annoys me, but this time I was so mad that I threw the bowl hard on the ground. Blueberries and shattered ceramic pieces flew everywhere, and I think one ceramic piece dented the videophone, but I was too furious to care. I stomped and jumped several times on the wreckage I caused, all the while screaming phrases that would be inappropriate for certain audiences.

"Wow, M is really mad," James commented.

Thank you, Captain Obvious! His little observation just made me madder. I snapped my fingers, and a Special Effects Crew member arrived, projecting a backdrop of a raging fire behind me.

"HOW DARE YOU DISRESPECT ME LIKE THIS?!" I roared as the flames danced behind me. "I wrote a perfectly good motto for you losers, and instead of taking my suggestion to continue using it but with special effects, you had the nerve to ask me for a different motto! Three times! I take all that time and effort to write the mottos and rehearse them with you, and what do you do? You go back to the original one! I asked you to keep the original motto ages ago, but did you listen? No! Only now you go back to your original motto, after I wrote three new ones!"

"Do you need to calm down?" James asked calmly.

"YES!" I roared. I then proceeded to further destroy the mess that was once a bowl of blueberries, and stuff large amounts of broccoli into my mouth. All the while, my faithful Special Effects Crew helped me express my anger towards Team Losers by using the perfect special effects. Explosions and thunder claps filled my office as I was having my temper tantrum. Ah, I just love my Special Effects Crew. They're so competent and loyal. Unlike some people.

After who knows how long I was finished, and Team Losers was terrified. Good.

"Clean that up, will you?" I asked a Crew member when I was finished. As he dutifully cleaned up the mess, I turned back to Team Losers.

"Fine," I said. "Meet me at the T.R.A.S.H. at 2 AM on Thursday. We'll work out your motto then. And I'm warning you, don't make me mad."

"2 AM?" Meowth complained. "But-"

"Don't make me mad," I repeated.

"All right, we'll see you there," Jessie said as she ended the call.

Ugh. I can't believe I had to deal with these losers, but a job was a job, and I was the best woman to do it.

I spent the next few days alternating between working on the two projects I was currently assigned. I would design Giovanni's new office for a few hours, and then switch over to working out the special effects for Team Losers's motto with my Special Effects Crew. Pretty soon, it was Thursday, 2 AM.

In case you're wondering, no, I don't have a weird sleep schedule. I just wanted to troll Team Losers a little by messing up their schedules as well as my own.

I was in the studio checking with my Special Effects Crew, making sure all the equipment was ready, when the doorbell rang. Well, at least they were on time. I walked to the front door and opened it to see Jessie, James, and Meowth standing there and looking like the losers they are.

"Ugh, why does your doorbell still sound like that?" Jessie complained, inviting herself in. James and Meowth followed her inside, and I sighed and closed the door. Typical Team Losers, showing no respect for me.

Oh, and by the way, my doorbell sound is the Broccoli Boogie that I wrote and recorded: Broccoli is love, broccoli is life! We go together like husband and wife! Don't judge, okay? What? You're not judging? Wow, you're even cooler than I thought you were.

Anyways, I instructed Team Losers to follow me. As I led them to the studio, I grumbled to them about Jessie's comment and reminded them loudly to not make me mad. As you can see, I get mad easily. It's not my fault that there isn't more broccoli in this world.

When we got to the studio, I said, "I can't stand you and you can't stand me, so just cooperate and we'll get this thing over with. Now, show me what you've got."

"You mean, recite our motto?" James asked.

I said, "More than that. Do all the motions, too. And get everything right on your first try, or we're going to be here for a while, pissing each other off. Stand in the center of the studio, will you?"

"You could have added a 'please'," James commented.

I rolled my eyes. "For your information," I said, "we are villains. And we all know that real villains never say 'please'. Now go. Hup hup." I clapped my hands and sat on my director's chair, which was a giant plush head of broccoli. I designed it, by the way. One of my best works.

Team Losers stood in the center of the studio. My Special Effects Crew leader gave me a thumbs-up, and I grabbed my megaphone, which - you guessed it - was patterned with heads of broccoli.

"Aaand… action!" I yelled.

"Prepare for trouble!" Jessie exclaimed evilly.

"And make it rubble… oh, oops," James said. "Can we start over?"

"Ugh," I groaned, putting my face into my hands. "Two lines into the motto and you guys are already a trainwreck. Where to begin?" I picked up my megaphone and barked my orders to Team Losers. "Meowth, get out of there! You don't come in until the end, so beat it! James, I can't believe you messed up already. It's make it double. And Vanilla, get me some broccoli."

"Who's Vanilla?" James asked.

"That's none of your business," I said loudly as Vanilla, one of my Special Effects Crew members, left to get my broccoli. "Meowth, for the last time, get out of the picture. Jessie, James, your backs need to be towards each other! Have you forgotten the most basic thing? James, do you have your rose with you?"

Jessie and Meowth actually followed my orders, which saved me a lot of my hair. But James didn't have a rose with him. Thankfully, as soon as he told me that, Vanilla came back with my broccoli, which prevented me from yelling at James too much.

"Muffin, get James a rose," I instructed. "Cookie, get me some water. Losers, let's start again, and this time, give me more! Say your motto like you mean it!"

Cookie and Muffin obeyed my orders like the good Special Effects Crew members they are, but Jessie, James, and Meowth gave me odd looks.

"Don't. Call us. Losers," Jessie growled.

Then James made a little comment that totally made me lose it. For the record, it took fifty-one minutes and fourteen heads of broccoli to calm me down. That's an exaggeration, but not by much.

The comment was, "At least our names aren't stupid." Now do you see why I'm so bitter?

Anyways, eventually we got rehearsing again. And everything just got worse. Jessie said, "To detect the world of hesitation", James dropped his rose three times, Meowth wouldn't shut up, and Team Losers even dared to question my choice of special effects.

"How about stars, instead of R's?" Meowth asked. "Hey, that rhymes! I can rhyme all the time!"

If Cupcake and Pudding hadn't held me down, Meowth would probably be dead by now. Needless to say, by that time I was so mad that even my Special effects Crew were scared of me. At least they cooperated by filling the room with angry special effects.

What eventually stopped my rage was the fact that my liver started hurting. And since I love my liver, I took a chill pill. Literally. Vanilla was so scared of me that, while I was raging, she called the Team Rocket scientists and asked them to create a pill that would calm my anger. They delivered the pill to me in just eight minutes. Not bad. One day I need to find those scientists and thank them, but they're probably dead by now. Darn it.

Thanks to the newly invented chill pill, I managed to control my anger long enough to finish working with Team Losers on their motto. I was pretty surprised by how quickly everything moved without me throwing a fit once every two minutes. Sure, Team Losers made quite a few mistakes. But there was nothing a little rehearsing couldn't fix. At around dawn, everything was looking perfect.

"And, cut!" I yelled into my megaphone as the motto wrapped up. I gave Team Losers a round of applause, because they were finally getting it right. Also because I was so tired that I wanted to just get it over with. "Biscuit, load the special effects into a mini projector. Jessie, James, Meowth, you know the drill by now. Make sure the projector is with you wherever you go, and activate the switch whenever you say your motto."

"Hey, you didn't call us losers!" Meowth exclaimed happily.

I sighed and said, "Only because I'm tired of delaying everything by doing that." I put my megaphone down. "Now, just wait for Biscuit to give you the projector and you're all set."

In just a few minutes, Biscuit finished the task I assigned him and gave the projector to Team Losers. What? They're not here, so I can call them that. I sent them away, and I've got to say I was surprised at how calming down really sped up the whole process. After that day's success I decided to learn how to manage my anger without a chill pill, because, y'know, drugs are bad. I've been practicing my anger management skills to this day, although I've got to admit that I haven't been doing very well.

...You really think I've been doing okay? Aw, thanks. You know, you're pretty cool. I know I've said it before but I'll say it again.

So there you have it, a day in the frustrating but fabulous life of the T.R.A.S.H. I'm pleasantly surprised that you listened to my story and put up with all of my quirks. How were your cookies? Glad you liked them. I really had fun talking with you and telling you my story. It feels pretty good, having someone just listen to me. It feels almost as good as eating broccoli.

Wait, you're leaving already? But what about me? How long will my fabulous self have to stay in prison?

...Only one year? But I was part of Team Rocket… not that I'm complaining, though! I'm glad I got off relatively easy. Look, you've gotta believe me when I say that world domination was never my thing. I only took the job of the T.R.A.S.H. because I love art, and I really needed money.

You see, my parents… they didn't support my love of art when I was younger. I wanted nothing more than to become an artist, but they wouldn't hear it. So a few years ago I ran away from home with my trusty Oddish, who was named - you guessed it - Broccoli. I tried to make a living for myself through art, but it was hard - really hard. I was broke practically all the time, so when I heard that an organization called Team Rocket was looking for an artist, I had to get that job. And I did.

I never had much of a problem with helping with petty crimes, because my job paid well. But I disapproved of Giovanni's master plan, which meant he had to carry it out without me. Truth to be told, as much as I can't stand Team Losers, I'm glad that they helped defeat Giovanni. A world with him in charge would be a sad, sad place.

-One long minute of silence later-

So now what? I mean, I know I have to serve a year in prison, but what happens after that? Now that Team Rocket's defeated, I'll be broke all over again…

...Really? You can offer me a job? An artistic one, no less?

Let me hug you.

-One awkward minute later-

Oh… um… I'm sorry. I'm not usually like this, I swear. Usually I'm really prickly. I don't know what came over me, it's just that…

Will you still be working where you're currently working in one year?

Yes? Which means… I get to see you again? Oh, yay… What about my year in prison, though? What will I do? Who will keep me company? Like I said before, I'm a lonely woman. I could really use a friend, or something…

You'd visit me? Are you sure? Really once every two weeks? I mean, you don't have to. I'm kind of a weirdo. What's happening to me? I've never been so self-depreciating before.

...I suppose it'll all make sense sooner or later.

Thanks again for listening to me. I really appreciate it.

Well, goodbye, then. Until next time…

I'll miss you.




Writing it as a one-sided interview was an interesting way to present the story. It would be a challenge to write it with only dialogue and your choice to avoid description and so forth, but you pulled that aspect fairly well. Using italics and giving the wordless interviewer a role helped with that aspect.

You mentioned that it was your first attempt with comedy, and while it’s a decent first attempt I’m afraid that some of the comedy was exaggerated or repeated too much for my tastes. (The choice of ‘taste’ wasn’t initially intentional regarding the jokes in question – after all, I like blueberries). Her liking broccoli a heck of a lot was mildly amusing but the more it went on, the more tired the joke became, because I feel it was overdone. It, the blueberry hate and her jumps into rage seemed to be all that defined her as a character, as each point was brought up over and over. Sometimes more variety is needed, or with a running joke less frequent mentions of it. Give the audience a chance to forget that they really hate blueberries, for instance, so that when you do bring it up again it has more impact.

I didn’t feel that this entry explored the prompt as well as other entries had, although it certainly did have some relation to it. The thing was it only extended to Team Rocket (or Team Losers) and how this character helped them with their famous motto, which had its moments but didn’t go in as much depth as I would have liked.

It was his stupid idea to take over the Pokemon World.
world rather than World, and unless this is different from the real world in the story it seems odd for this Pokemon character to refer to her world as that.

-One minute later-
This – and other instances of such time skips – are something I would advise again. They can work at times, but it’s a fairly overused trick and the problem with it is that it interrupts the flow or pacing of the story. That break can be used to your advantage, but it’s tricky and I don’t think the joke (the interviewer actually going off to get the stuff) is funnier because of the way you indicated a time skip. Say if the main character had a pause and then remarked about roughly how long it took (or maybe she timed him?), or having her ramble to herself while his gone, would be a more natural way to pass the time.
Unfortunately, at that time Team Losers didn't take my suggestion of using their original motto with special effects.
Anyways, before Team Losers traveled through the Kanto Battle Frontier, I had to write a new motto for them. And they insisted on special effects too
These two bits got me a bit confused. Part of that is because from what I recall of the anime I saw, Team Rocket always had special effects when performing the motto... unless M here was talking about before the anime starts?)
"That's a Y.P., not an M.P.," I said.
With the explanation that followed, this turns into “that’s a your problem, not an my problem”, which doesn’t quite work out.

Overall the idea was interesting, but the execution did need some polish. Certainly not bad for a first attempt at comedy however- it’s not an easy genre as I found out myself first-hand, and a few of those critiques I had were perhaps common pitfalls to look out for in future.


I've got to say, I like the idea you went with here. Back when I still followed the anime, I distinctly remember thinking that whoever is in charge of Team Rocket's props and special effects really has to feel taken for granted, so the basic premise is something I'm definitely on board with. That kind of perspective on the comings and goings of the team is also a good, solid foundation for a comedy fic of this scope and could really go places. That being said, I feel you may not have given that premise quite the confidence it deserves.

Being a ruthless crime syndicate's fashion coordinator with an awkward job title is an inherently humorous thing, and M's increasingly apparent loneliness and need for someone who'd listen to her is great because it provides a bit of personal tragedy to contrast and complement the humorous bits, but you keep distracting from those two core strengths with these tangential asides like the Broccoli, which feel a bit like you're trying to force humor at times when other parts of your story simply make humor happen naturally. This is particularly heavy in the motto-rehearsing segment, when we're abruptly pulled away from the more personal one-on-one conversation into a straight-up reporting of a situation that happened. It's a little jarring, partly because a lot of the humor in that segment is visual gags - which don't translate well into writing - but more importantly because up to that point you were painting a picture of a scene with just the way she addressed the interviewer, which got muddled when she suddenly starts describing this whole different scene in detail instead.

Up to that point, you had a nicely vivid scene going with M's strong character voice and editorializing, but since she's the only voice in this story, the reader loses sight of that interview situation when she moves on to narrating a situation from her past instead, which also puts a bit of an awkward break into the back and forth between her and the interviewer since the latter obviously wasn't involved in the past event and she doesn't really indicate any interruptions questions. Since the segment with the motto also resolves itself with nothing but the 'chill pill', it doesn't feel that strong from a character development standpoint either, so for my part, I'd have preferred a focus on the conversation between M and her interviewer, since a conversation where we only hear one person talk and fill in the other's reactions through them is another great outlet for comedy. The interaction between the two of them is also where the emotional investment of the story is, since Team Rocket's interaction with M doesn't really have much depth to it and doesn't play into the conclusion in any significant way, so it feels a bit detached from the rest of the story beyond as an opportunity to fit in some more of her personality quirks.

That being said, your prose is still very enjoyable, and M's narrative additions in particular are a delight. I also enjoy the gradual shift from her 'You expect me to talk' opening to the finish where she admits she's going to miss the person she was talking to. It's a nice little character arc, but the story as a whole feels divided between that and the middle rehearsal segment and as a result neither feels fully realized. With a stronger middle and a bit more development on some of the ideas (like what she does in more detail, personal opinions on it, thoughts on the team in general and how they treat her etc.) this could be great.

Overall, you've got a good concept and a strong narrative voice, but your plot lost me around the middle and never fully delivered on all the promise you set up at the start. With more focus on the interaction between M and the interviewer, as well as more detail on her job and her feelings about her job I feel this could have been a much stronger entry.


You've got a really fun, creative and highly amusing concept here. Team Rocket actually does probably have a design department of some sort, because logos, uniforms and extravagant devices don't just appear out of thin air; someone must have designed them. It's easy to forget that basically every man-made object we interact with in our daily lives was designed by somebody, but there's design everywhere we look, and writing humourously about the designer behind a criminal organization for this contest was a delightful idea.

The format of the story, as one side of a police interview after the team has been disbanded, is pretty fun as well. I enjoy the developing friendship between M and the police interrogator; it's kind of sweet, and you get it across even when only showing one side of it. M doesn't come off as a very likeable person - she's pretty unlikeable, to be honest - but their relationship humanizes her and does a lot more to make the reader care about her than the actual story she's telling.

The humour was somewhat hit-and-miss, for me. On the one hand, the whole thing about special effects and the miracle-working Special Effects Crew amused me greatly, although it got a little more predictable as the story went on. M's weird food preferences, meanwhile, usually just felt forced, random and overdone, although when it started to pop up in increasingly absurd ways I didn't expect (like her doorbell and director's chair), I actually started to find the sheer over-the-topness of it kind of funny. Even so, I could definitely have done without most of the repeated mentions of, say, how many heads of broccoli it takes to make her calm down about something. Overall, a good running gag needs to come up in new and unexpected contexts in order to continue to be amusing, and while you sometimes did this successfully, you were also often relying too much on simply telling the same joke again and hoping it's still funny.

Meanwhile, I'm afraid I didn't really find any of M's interactions with and commentary on Jessie, James and Meowth funny at all. In fact, at times I felt uncomfortably like I was reading a character-bashing fic written solely to express the author's personal hatred of the trio. It's entirely possible that wasn't your intention here at all - maybe you were just trying to get across M's exaggerated, over-the-top distaste - but ultimately it comes off less as in-character bias and more like the narrative is on her side. They may not be terribly competent in canon, but being incapable of correctly reciting their motto without hours of practice is just cartoonish and sounds nothing like them, unless some sort of massive character derailment has happened since I last watched the anime. If M is supposed to be exaggerating to make them look worse, it's hard to tell how, unless she's simply making things up wholesale (and if the point were that she's just making this up, one would expect that to be a more obvious theme).

And yet, even with the trio being portrayed in-story as exaggeratedly stupid and incompetent, M still comes across as totally unreasonable in her anger and frankly rather mean-spirited (particularly in the hypocritical way that she calls them a derogatory nickname to their faces but then flies into a fit of not-so-righteous fury when James makes one feeble retaliatory remark about her name). That sort of makes sense given she's obviously meant to be a pretty ridiculous individual, but on the other hand, given you're also exaggerating the incompetence of the Rocket trio, it seems sort of incongruent. If you want to capitalize on her being completely unreasonable as a joke, it would make more sense to show the trio's actions being innocuous and understandable before she bizarrely flies off the handle - making them be annoying but just not quite enough so to warrant this weakens it. Conversely, if you want us to really feel her frustration with their endless demands, you'll want to make her anger seem more sympathetic and proportionate. (In particular, right now M dives right into calling them "Team Losers" and acting like they're completely intolerable when we don't yet have any reason to agree, and this coupled with the exaggeratedness of her reactions to them makes the reader almost defensive on their behalf. I don't think it'd be hard to show why they annoy her in a way that would resonate with anyone who has ever worked a service job - customers changing their minds abruptly when you've just gone to pains to get them what they wanted can be incredibly grating! You'd just need to really show it, and make their demands seem genuinely obnoxious, so we can nod along with her frustration rather than being confronted with "Ugh, they're the worst" right off the bat with little justification.)

I can't help but wonder why M wanted to tell this particular story. It doesn't actually go anywhere; as she says at the end, it's just a day in the life of the T.R.A.S.H., which opens the question of why she wanted to tell someone about this particular day so badly (and why she couldn't tell anyone about this until Giovanni was dead - it doesn't involve Giovanni or Team Rocket's greater plans in any way, so why would it matter who she told about it?). You could make a joke out of her insisting this completely insignificant story was totally important, but the story doesn't really seem aware of the incongruity at all; at the end she makes it sound like this was always meant to just be her rambling on, and her interlocutor seems to have completely forgotten she was supposed to be talking talking, as in giving some actual information about Team Rocket's activities. The framing device of M and her interrogator bonding makes the fic itself reasonably satisfying even if the story she tells him is a pointless, ridiculous shaggy dog story, but without it being acknowledged by the framing narrative, it feels like a mistake of some sort.

So, all in all, I think the treatment of Jessie, James and Meowth is the biggest issue with this fic: they are noticeably out of character and the narrative seems to unfairly demean them even beyond the narrator's bias. The humour varies, with some inventive and genuinely amusing bits but also a lot of other jokes that get repetitive or just never take flight. I think you definitely win most creative concept here, though, and the framing narrative is cute.

Sike Saner

First-person was a good choice here, I think, and handled decently. It definitely felt like M was actually telling the story rather than just reading it off the page, and it let her personality show through.

That said... that personality was kind of a double-edgd sword. Her love of broccoli and hatred of blueberries are, in and of themselves, perfectly believable quirks, but here they're a bit overemphasized--even considering that this is a comedy fic. The broccoli and blueberry gags (especially the former) kind of wore thin after a bit and overshadowed the rest of her personality to the point where, well. It was less like she had the quirks and more like she was the quirks, y'know?

I could still sympathize with her on some level--working with the Rocket trio's has got to be frustrating, and I'm no fonder of their rhymes than M was. The one-sided interview angle was an interesting approach, and Giovanni being dead succeeded in taking me by surprise. M just struck me as a little too over the top, even for the setting.


Just me
7th place: The Proposal by Matori

bobandbill: 6th place (40 points)
Creepychu: 8th place (20 points)
Dragonfree: 7th place (30 points)
Sike Saner: 4th place (60 points)
Total: 150 points

The Proposal

6:30 AM

Zager Apartment


The alarm rang.




Snooze, this time with greater force- ironic coming out of a man who was otherwise dead to the world.

Three times.

The magical button was ignored in this case, the clock's hapless victim resigned to the incessant beep now.

No less than an hour later, Zager finally rose. He couldn't have overslept that much, he reasoned, he'd just heard the alarm-

7:45 AM

Zager flew out of bed, surprisingly quickly for a man of his age. Time was a powerful motivator. Particularly when one was scheduled for a major presentation later that day.

On his birthday, no less. Not that Zager paid much mind or care to birthdays himself- another complete rotation around the sun, another year closer to your untimely death. Nothing more than a day your acquaintances chose to pretend to care for your existence more than usual.

And that was if you were lucky. Zager only ever found a handful of birthday greetings waiting for him in his office. Despite his disdain for birthdays, he always felt a little lonely this time of year. Science, when it came down to it, was his only real friend. While he was normally content to have the laws of nature to confide in, he certainly didn't object to his existence being dignified from time to time.

Even if it was largely a performance.

But as long as he'd known Giovanni- and consistently turned in good work for him- he wanted to think the man could spare a little bit of consideration. Science took work, after all. Work he was usually, when all was said and done, the sole contributor to. Even if he didn't see much thanks for it in the end.

Science was its own reward, though, wasn't it?

Zager popped a small plastic cup into his coffee maker and waited for his drink to brew. His phone rang- finally?

“Mondo. It's about time someone worried about me. I'll be in the lab in a few minutes, I...” He cut himself off, afraid of admitting such a shortcoming to his assistant.

“If you overslept, I won't tell anyone, sir,” Mondo replied, sounding entirely too cheery for this hour of the morning. Zager cringed, knowing there was no way he could get around it now, but found it impossible to feel any anger toward the young agent. He could practically hear his cheerful- wholesome, even- smile through the phone.

“I appreciate it,” Zager said.

“I thought you were sick, I was about to-”

Zager buried his face in his free hand. Mondo was nothing if not one of the most helpful and trustworthy assistants he dealt with on a regular basis, but some days, his pure scout-like nature wore a bit thin.

“Mondo... just... make sure things are in order for the presentation today. These are some very important results I'm going to go over, and I can't afford to have one thing go the slightest bit wrong. I need absolutely everything in order.”

“I'll do my best, Doctor!” Mondo happily chirped.

“That's all I ever ask,” Zager replied. “I'll see you in a few minutes.”

Zager's office
Team Rocket HQ
8:15 AM

Mondo looked at the paperwork, neatly arranged on Zager's desk, with a satisfied smile. The (usually) predictable pace of the lab was comforting to Mondo.

It seemed like everything was together for Zager's presentation later. Mondo was happy he'd been given such an important assignment. This was his big shot at proving himself, even if it was just prep, because if Zager's proposal was successful, he'd be a part of that...

Mondo was finally going to make it. This was his big shot, he just knew it. And he couldn't have done it without the doctor...

“Mondo! Have you put everything in order?”

Zager's grandfatherly voice snapped Mondo out of his daydreaming, and he quickly grabbed a file folder and began paging through it to look busy.

“Yes sir, I think it's all here, we're ready to go later,” Mondo replied, beaming. This proposal was going to go well and Zager was going to be so proud of him, he just knew it.. maybe he'd get a promotion... the possibilities were endless.

“Excellent. Now...” Zager's expression changed to one of anticipation. “I didn't have any mail waiting for me this morning, did I?”

Mondo thought for a moment. “Well, if there was anything specifically for you.. the courier would have left it on your desk, wouldn't he?”

Zager checked his watch. The courier usually made his rounds around HQ at 7 AM, and it was more than an hour later...

“Oh. Well then,” Zager said, not sad, but more resigned to this news. “I see. I suppose I'm only of use when I have ideas, then...”

Mondo watched him turn away and to his computer to begin checking his emails. This wasn't the doctor he knew.

“Doctor... is something wrong?”

“Do you know what today is, Mondo?” Zager asked.


Zager sighed. He knew Mondo was just answering his question, but... “I meant besides that, Mondo.” Surely he didn't forget...

“Oh! Your birthday!” Mondo replied. “And a very happy birthday to you. I'd have something but I've been so busy helping you put things together these last few days...”

“It's fine, Mondo, I'm happy you remembered. But...” Zager stared at the long list of messages in his email inbox, all of them questions from the other scientists, or various reminders from the boss or Matori of important dates. Like today.

“Sir? Are you okay?”

“I'm fine, Mondo, I just feel like so many people take me for granted. The sci-ops department here would be nothing without me, aren't I right, Mondo? Be honest with me, please.”

Mondo had only been working with Zager for a short while- not more than two or three years- but he could tell Zager's passion was very much the heart of the team's science wing. He'd accompanied him on many an all-nighter and been there at HQ as backup when Zager ventured to the field.

“It wouldn't be the same without you. I can't imagine anything happening without you keeping a watchful eye on it,” Mondo replied.

“At least someone sees it that way, then,” Zager said. “I'm going to deliver some documents and go over notes with the other scientists for later. Keep an eye on things for me until I get back, please.”

Mondo saluted him. “Yes sir.”


Mondo looked over some notes on his laptop on the couch in Zager's office, thinking about the conversation he'd had with Zager earlier. Ever since he'd transferred to the department upon Zager taking on Jessie, Meowth, and James as his new field agents, he'd found himself taking well to his new superior. Zager was strict and somewhat detached upon first meeting him, but after spending a little time with him, a softer person slowly began to show himself, someone with the same enthusiasm for science Mondo himself had for helping others and making everyone's day a little better.

To not give Zager something today, after all Zager himself had done for the department, and indeed, for Mondo, felt wrong to him. But Zager's obligations made it all but impossible for Mondo to actually go out of his way.


Mondo looked at Zager's things for the presentation. Among the folders of materials and documentation was a USB drive, one that surely contained the entirety of his findings, to be presented later in the small boardroom to the department, a few field agents, and Giovanni...

A very important USB drive.

No. Mondo chased the thought from his head. He couldn't do that to the doctor, never. It just wasn't right. Mondo was a good agent, a good lab assistant. Good lab assistants didn't pull things like that on their superiors...

He'd just do his best. That was it, yes. Just do his best he could, that was all the thanks Zager needed, wasn't it?

There was a knock at the door. “Come in,” Mondo chirped.

A black haired scientist, in a short, sleek lab coat, stood at the door with a folder. “Ah, Mondo,” Professor Sebastian said. “Have you seen Zager anywhere? I have some results for him to review.”

“He's preparing for later, sir, but I can make sure he gets it.”

“Oh, that's today, isn't it? Right. I forgot about that.”

That's not the only thing you forgot, Mondo thought, biting his tongue to keep it from coming out. Zager's disappointment still held heavy in his mind.

“It's today,” Mondo replied.

“Yes, well, by all means, pass these along to him then.” Sebastian pushed the folder into Mondo's hands and quickly turned for the door, then left without another word. Mondo watched him head down the hall and sighed. Zager was right.


Around an hour later, Zager returned to his office.

“What's this, Mondo?” The folder from Sebastian sat on his desk. “Something else for me to do today?”

“Professor Sebastian left that here,” Mondo said. “He said he had some results for you to review.”

“Well, I certainly hope he doesn't expect them today,” Zager said. “I'm afraid my schedule is already rather full.”

“He didn't even remember your presentation was today,” Mondo said. He regretted it the minute he said it- it wasn't like him to be so bitter about his superiors- but to his surprise, Zager seemed pleased he volunteered that.

“I honestly can't say I'm surprised,” Zager said. “Sebastian is... slightly absent minded, to say the very least. A good mind, but frequently occupied only with his own work. Thank you for taking care of things.”

“Anytime, doctor.” Mondo smiled. “Are you ready for later?”

“Honestly? No,” Zager said. “This may well be the biggest proposal I've made for a long time, and I'm not sure how I'm going to deal with it if it's turned down. I've sunk so much time into it.” He picked up one of his folders from the desk.

“Synthesized Mega Stones. We've been studying it for months, and I think I've hit on the formula that can achieve the best results. The catch is, simply testing the hypothesis is going to be ridiculously expensive, never mind the cost of mass producing them. It's a lot of money to sink into a potential failure, so I have to make the best case I possibly can.” His fingers flipped through the pages of the files. “But if it works-” his face lit up- “it will change everything.”

No pressure, then, Mondo thought. His stomach turned at the memory of his plan from just a little bit ago.

“I'm sure you'll do great, sir!” Mondo said, trying not to think of that idea anymore. Despite his efforts to push it out of his mind, it still lingered, part of him thinking it may still have some use.

“Thank you for the support, Mondo,” Zager said. “I'm glad someone cares.”


Giovanni's office
Team Rocket HQ
11:00 AM

Giovanni sat in his office. His inbox was empty.

This was not the usual order of affairs for a Friday, especially for the leader of Team Rocket. Or any day, really. One of three things could be behind this: either he was living in a dream right now, Matori wasn't in, or something happened to the courier.

The first was impossible. Too many things had gone wrong this morning for it to be anything but a nightmare. Matori, his ever-sarcastic secretary and loyal assistant, was most certainly in, she had brought him coffee this morning, like always, so theory number two was right out.

The courier.

Ever since Mondo began working for Zager, his absence from running messages about headquarters had certainly been felt. A new courier was appointed seemingly every week- though he didn't know for sure, Giovanni had his suspicions Matori had something to do with this. And if so, she was doing her job in that case.

Couriers who were terrified of her were weak and would not survive the winter. Or a rough week at HQ, for that matter.

We have to start vetting our couriers better, he thought.

He made a memo to himself- Ask Matori about the courier- and looked over the day's schedule.

Zager's presentation was this afternoon.

There was no courier to get the message to the sci-ops wing.

Giovanni had a lot of phone calls to make.

“Why can't things just be easy,” he moaned to Persian, whose head rested in his lap. The cat Pokemon purred away happily.


“I'm going to pretend you're in agreement with me and not that you're asking when your next meal is,” he said. “Everything's gone wrong again. Per usual around here.”

“Mrow.” Persian closed his eyes and went back to sleep.

Professor Sebastian's Office
Team Rocket HQ
12:00 PM

Professor Sebastian typed up yet another report in his office. How did he forget about today's presentation? The idea and research were half his, anyway. They'd been swamped by new work lately- it seemed like every week brought a new scientific development for them to investigate and stay ahead of things.

And so here he was, three hours to showtime, typing up his thesis that really should have been on Zager's desk two weeks ago. He wondered if Zager even noticed it was missing, amongst all the work he was stuck with. While Sebastian was a brilliant technician and engineer, Zager's strengths fell more in the realm of antiquities and geology- ultimately, the very heart of this project.

The professor was fully aware his senior had a bad tendency of getting wrapped up in his work, and Sebastian's unofficial motto was never let a good opportunity go to waste. It wasn't completely out of the realm of possibility that he could sneak the papers in right under Zager's nose. Or maybe even while he was out. Either way, his part of the proposal had to make it into Zager's hands before the presentation.

Yes, there was a plan. Sebastian typed up his conclusion and promptly saved the thesis. Now all that remained was to sneak this to Zager.


Matori’s office
Team Rocket HQ
1:00 PM

Matori sat in her office, catching up on the news. A part of her felt bad about yesterday morning's earlier events. The latest poor sap to take the position of courier had asked her which box incoming mail was to be deposited in.

Matori, a woman who believed in clearly labeling every last thing, precisely to avoid wasting her energy being troubled with such questions, pointed out exactly where he could put the mail. She then proceeded to explain, as only she could, exactly where he could put any stupid questions in the future.

The courier had made one other fatal error: disturbing Matori before her morning coffee.

The resulting storm he'd summoned from the malevolent, violet-haired deity that was an uncaffeinated Matori sent him running from her office- his stack of mail dropped unceremoniously on her desk, that in itself another huge slight to the secretary. Matori returned from lunch later on to find a scrawled letter of resignation taped to her office door.

Joke's on you, she thought, I'd already fired you from the position anyway after the little stunt with the paperwork.

The part of her that felt bad only really felt bad because dammit, that was another courier she'd have to find.

I wonder if there was anything important in the mail room today, Matori wondered, sipping coffee from a mug with an annoyed looking Espurr and the words “I hate Mondays.”

I guess we'll find out tomorrow when the new courier shows up.


Zager’s office
2:00 PM

Mondo sat down to put his plan into action. Zager had stepped out yet again, this time for lunch. If he acted fast, he could get everything finished and prepared before the doctor's return.

He crept over to Zager's desk and very carefully looked through his presentation notes, searching for the location.

Conference room C.

The conference rooms were never locked, Mondo knew this for a fact. Years of being a courier before being taken under Zager's knowledgeable wing as his assistant had taught him a few things about HQ and how it operated, and there was a good chance the only two people who knew the ins and outs of the Kanto location better than the agent were Giovanni and Matori.

It was also, however, on the top floor. And the Sci-Ops department was located in HQ's basement.

This presented its own set of challenges.

For Mondo to complete his mission, he’d have to haul the box of party decorations he found in Zager’s office cabinet upstairs- five floors- decorate and make the preparations for Zager’s impromptu party, then return to the office as though nothing was out of the ordinary. Before the doctor even returned from lunch. Zager was a brilliant man, and if Mondo excused himself from the office upon his return, it would surely spark suspicion.

His eyes again moved to the USB drive containing the slideshow and other crucial materials.

If he could buy himself some time…Mondo picked it up and contemplated it.

No Mondo, you can’t do that. That’s completely unlike you, and you’re better than pulling one over on a superior. Even if it is for a good reason…

He put down the drive and turned away from Zager’s desk just in time to hear the doorknob turn.

“Professor Sebastian!” Mondo straightened his posture a bit and smiled. “Can I help you with anything?”

“Mondo… uh. Well. This is awkward,” Sebastian said, fiddling with his glasses nervously. “I have… some things. For Zager. Do you know where he went?”

“He’s at lunch, sir.”

“Oh thank- I mean, don’t tell him I was here. Just… give this to him. Don’t ask why.”

Mondo raised an eyebrow, but accepted the files from Sebastian.

“Wish him luck during the presentation for me. I’m going to need it…” Sebastian left again. Mondo looked in the folder Sebastian gave him.

Files for the presentation. Apparently, Sebastian’s half of it.

Mondo could only imagine the reaction when Zager found out Sebastian waited until nearly the very last minute to turn in his part of the work. Yeah, I’m gonna tell him.

Giovanni’s office
2:30 PM

“Matori, have you heard from the courier?” Giovanni and Matori were sitting down to lunch in his office when he finally asked.

Matori took a bite of her sandwich, then smirked. “I thought you’d never ask, sir,” she said. She reached into her folder sitting by her side and took out the last courier’s letter of resignation.

“The latest one made the mistake of asking me a stupid question,” she said. “I showed him the error of his ways.”

Giovanni cringed. He could only imagine the horrors the poor young man was subjected to.

“Then he ruined the system,” Matori added, proud of herself.

Ouch. Ruining Matori’s system was on the top of the list of things one simply did not do to her, and Giovanni was fully aware of this. “Is he still in one piece?”

“He ruined the system after I told him off,” she clarified. “He was at least smart enough to run after that.”

“If he had the nerve to come back to your office to turn in his resignation, he can’t be that smart,” Giovanni said.

“Taped to my door, sir. Right after I’d already filed the papers to fire him after lunch.” She displayed the resignation letter like some kind of certificate and beamed. “I’m going to have to find a nice frame for this one. Two days. I believe that’s a new record.”

“I hope you at least have a new courier lined up.”

“He starts tomorrow, sir. Unless he gets nerves and doesn’t show up.” A furry Persian snout inched towards Matori’s sandwich and she gently pushed it away, scratching the cat Pokemon behind his ears. “Word seems to spread every time I do something around here…”

Zager’s office
2:45 PM

“What did I miss?” Zager returned to his office, where Mondo had been going over some of his personal lab reports from the last week.

“Sebastian brought over some papers for your presentation, sir,” Mondo said. “He told me not to tell you.”

“But you just did anyway,” Zager said.

“I guess I did,” Mondo replied.

“That’s my boy,” Zager added. “I’ll be sure to be extra passive-aggressive to him during the presentation. It’s just like him to wait until the last moment to do something like that…”

“What would you have done if he hadn’t? If you were… missing something?” Mondo had an idea, Zager having returned before expected… but he had to test the waters first.

“Mondo,” Zager said.


“What’s the first rule of science?”

“Matter can be neither created nor destroyed?”

“That’s the first law of thermodynamics. I mean the first rule of science, not a first rule of science.”

“Discovery requires experimentation?”

“Mondo, I’m hiding my DVD collection from you. What’s MY first rule of science?”

“Fake it till you make it?”

Zager nodded. “Fake it till you make it. And that’s exactly what I’d do. As long as I sold the plan well, the whole thing would be foolproof.” He put a reassuring hand on Mondo’s shoulder. “Mondo, I appreciate your concern. I really do. Today has proven it’s a lot more than anyone else here seems to have. But you don’t need to worry. I’ve got this under control.”

“Hm,” Mondo said, keeping an eye on Zager and forcing back the guilt slowly rising in the back of his mind. Desperate times called for desperate measures…and it didn’t sound like he’d miss it THAT much anyway, based on his answer to Mondo’s question.

Mondo slipped his foot under a nearby chair, knocking it over, prompting Zager to turn to the source of the noise. In the split second of distraction that bought him, Mondo swiped the USB from Zager’s desk and slipped it in his pocket.

“Oh, terribly sorry, Doctor, I lost my balance there for a moment and tried to catch myself on the chair… The chair didn’t do so well.” Mondo’s hand, still in his pocket, fiddled with the smooth plastic of the drive and as it occurred to him what he’d just done- stealing the Doctor’s drive- his heart began racing. “Are you sure you have everything today?” Mondo asked,

“Mondo, I’m really happy you’re worried for me, but-” Zager looked at his desk, and for a moment Mondo feared he wouldn’t notice his missing drive- or pay it any mind. “-Wait.”

At this moment Mondo cursed what a terrible actor he was. “What’s wrong?” Mondo asked, realizing how obvious it must be he was hiding something from the Doctor. He was going to be found out before long and be in so much trouble the minute Zager realized what he’d done....

“My flash drive. The one with my presentation’s slideshow sitting on it.”


“The one with all my graphs on it… gone.”

The scout part of Mondo wanted to pull the drive out of his pocket, confess everything to Zager, and accept whatever he had coming to him.

The Team Rocket part of Mondo, the part that he seemed to lack, which his fellow members had plenty of, held this part back, with a little reminder that in the end, it was all for the greater good. This was Mondo’s usual rationalization whenever his nice boy side tried to keep him from doing what was necessary, and now, even this act of outright insubordination- good heavens!- fit that category.

“Maybe it fell out of your pocket earlier?” Mondo asked.

“Mondo, I have been in this entire building today getting my Psyduck in a row for the last two hours. You can’t really be suggesting I search the entire headquarters.”

“It’s either that or fake it till you make it,” Mondo said solemnly.

Zager’s face turned paler than its usual tone. “I should probably at least try to find it, shouldn’t I?”

“Wouldn’t be a terrible idea, sir,” Mondo replied. So much for his advice earlier.

“You’re right,” Zager said. “Mondo, if I’m not back by the presentation, be up there on time anyway. I don’t want to make what just happened obvious.”

Mondo nodded. “Good luck,” he said, the two sides of him still fighting, his heart racing.


Once Zager was safely gone, Mondo began gathering up the decorations. He had no idea why Zager just kept birthday things in his cabinet- he supposed he cared more about these things than his colleagues did- and was even able to find a generic birthday card at the bottom. He moved these supplies into his knapsack. If no one will say anything to the Doctor, he thought, I’ll just bring the party to all of them.

Food, Mondo realized. A party had food.

There were two options. The cafeteria, and a vending machine.

One of these required human contact. The other was anonymous. Mondo preferred to go for anonymity.

I hope he appreciates this, Mondo thought.


Conference room C
Team Rocket HQ
3:30 PM

Mondo worked quickly and as quietly as possible. Detection would ruin the surprise, as well as potentially get back to Zager, and then the whole thing was off. His challenge was twofold: decorate and set up the “party” before anyone arrived to the conference room, and then return to Zager’s office in time to return the drive.

With 30 minutes to go, this was easier said than done. Mondo found the brilliant vending machine plan he’d had for supplying snacks had two drawbacks.

One, vending machines took forever to operate if you wanted more than two items. Two, vending machines were ridiculously expensive.

He felt a little bad for the poor, hungry agent who might want their favorite cheese crackers later but found they were completely gone, and at first considered writing an apology. Much of Mondo’s time had been taken up by his covert snack run- including ducking into an empty room once or twice when he heard footsteps incoming. Mondo took his missions seriously, as surprise parties were concerned, and he really didn’t want to be in the awkward position of explaining to anyone why he seemed to be buying the entire vending machine worth of snacks.

Now he was here, putting the finishing touches on the decorations. Zager’s decoration stash was the very definition of generic; nothing in this room would give any indication of exactly who was being celebrated. But it was still more than anyone else seemed to give the doctor, and that was good enough for Mondo.


Zager walked down the hall to the conference room alongside Giovanni and Sebastian, trying to sell them on the proposal before the presentation. His quest to find the missing flash drive had been unsuccessful, and now was his moment to build up a presentation that, barring a miracle, would amount to a huge pile of nothing.

Fake it till you make it. It had always been Zager’s philosophy- and indeed, the very nature of any scientific discipline itself- but suddenly the nerves had caught up to him, and he’d began doubting how well this would work. Granted, he had the folders full of charts and reports to show for his work too, the important stuff that really mattered, but in the end, PowerPoints, those were how you sold proposals. A well polished slideshow with plenty of snazzy infographics and photographs was how you really made an impression and sold your idea.

“I think you’ll really like this,” he promised. “I’ve spent months researching the Stones and spared no expense-”

“That’s what I’m afraid of, Zager. I invested a great deal simply to get to this proposal stage. I certainly trust I won’t be disappointed in it,” Giovanni explained.

No pressure, right? Zager thought. “You won’t be, sir,” he replied, trying hard to cover any signs of his anxiety, all the while wondering about the mysterious USB drive. Did he even ever have it in his pocket? He was positive he’d had it on his desk with the rest of the materials for the presentation…

“Well, we’re here,” Zager said, as the three men reached the room. He turned the doorknob and opened the door. “After you, sir,” he said, nodding to Giovanni.


Mondo panicked when he heard footsteps and three very familiar voices outside the doorway. Was it really time already?

3:55 PM. They were ahead of schedule.

He scrambled to return the stapler and tape to the conference room cabinet, as the doorknob turned. The door opened, and Mondo did his best to make it look like he was straightening chairs, in an attempt to cover his tracks.

Fake it till you make it, right?

“Mondo. Such a pleasant surprise seeing you here,” Giovanni said, not expecting to see the young man’s familiar face.

“Afternoon, sir,” Mondo said, saluting.

“He’s the best lab assistant I’ve ever had,” Zager added, and the guilt Mondo felt about the USB drive resurfaced.

The drive. Mondo realized since they arrived early… he still had it, and Zager didn’t. Come to think about it, did he even have a plan for getting the drive back to him in the first place?

Fake it till you make it.

“Doctor, I’m so glad you’re here, sir!” Mondo’s eyes lit up as he hit on a plan. “I found your USB drive on the way here!” Mondo took the drive out of his pocket and happily passed it to Zager.

“Oh, thank goodness,” Zager said, accepting it from his assistant.

“You were about to give an entire presentation without the presentation itself?” Sebastian was amazed. “You really are something, Doctor.”

“I… I sent Mondo to search for it,” Zager said, giving Mondo a desperate look that seemed to plead play along. He nodded in agreement. “Well then… should we begin?” Zager asked.

“There’s birthday things in here,” Sebastian noticed, pointing to a HAPPY BIRTHDAY banner taped to the wall.

Zager was confused for a moment, but then started to realize there was not only a banner, but several bundles of balloons and some confetti scattered on the table.

“Ah, yes, today’s your birthday, isn’t it, Zager? I won’t dare ask your age-” Giovanni winked at him- “but a very happy one to you.”

“The same,” Sebastian added.

“There’s snacks too!” Mondo said helpfully, hoping they’d notice his hard work (and hard spent money) at the vending machine.

“I’m ahead of you there, Mondo,” Sebastian said, munching on a bag of cheese curls. “I wonder who went to this trouble,” he added. “I’ve never got a surprise party for any of my proposals.”

Zager had a reply to the professor’s remark in his head but decided as long as the boss was around, it was best it stay there. Instead, he simply rolled his eyes.

“I’ll go first, so the Professor can have all the time he needs to present his half,” he said, making his way to the podium. Now he’s going to have to work extra hard to show me up. That’s what he gets for the little remark about the flash drive earlier. A birthday card sat there, and on the inside, Mondo’s signature.

I should have known Mondo was behind this, Zager thought. He smiled warmly at him, then loaded his presentation up. “Now, to begin, I think a look at the molecular structure of Mega Stones is in order first…” A diagram of some chemical symbols showed up on the screen, and Mondo returned the gesture. He had this, and Mondo knew it.


Zager’s office
The next day
7:30 AM

Zager walked into his office to Mondo waiting for him, ever the loyal assistant. “Morning, Mondo,” he said.

“Morning, sir,” Mondo replied, and passed a mug of hot coffee to him.

“Mondo,” Zager began, “about yesterday.”

“You did a fantastic job, Doctor,” Mondo said. “And I think you’ll get approval for sure.”

“Two things,” Zager said. “First of all… thank you for the birthday surprise. I knew you did it the moment Sebastian brought it to my attention, those were the decorations I bought in case of an emergency. And it looks like I made a good decision.”

Mondo beamed. “It was the least I could do for you,” he said. “No one should feel forgotten on their birthday.”

“Second thing… did you take my USB drive yesterday? Because I know for a fact it was on my desk the whole time, with my folders of paperwork.”

Mondo panicked. There was no hiding it now, Zager had him cornered. It was time to confess.

“Sir… I’m so sorry. I needed a way to distract you while I decorated the conference room so it would be a surprise and…” He stared at the ground.

“You know, I normally wouldn’t let something that serious slide,” Zager said.

“Yes sir,” Mondo replied.

“Now that that’s out of the way…I’m proud of you, Mondo. Even if that was technically a serious act of insubordination that could have potentially ruined my presentation, never mind my reputation.”

“I’m- what?”

“You were in a tight spot and you acted on instinct and did what you thought needed to be done to complete your mission. Isn’t that right?”

“I suppose…?”

“That’s the kind of thinking that’s going to get you far in the field,” Zager said. “You have potential, Mondo. Just… don’t use it behind your superiors’ backs in the future. Not all of them are going to be as understanding as I am.”

“Thank you, Doctor,” Mondo said, surprised that the confrontation wound up far better than he expected it to.

There was a knock at the door. “I’ll get that,” Mondo said.

A new face that neither Zager or Mondo had seen before greeted them. “Hi, I’m the new courier, today was my first day of being reassigned to this position… there was no courier yesterday on account of that crazy secretary scaring him off and pleasedonttellherisaidthat.”

“Don’t worry, we both understand,” Zager said, and Mondo nodded. “You’re in good hands with us.”

“Anyway here’s the mail from yesterday and today,” the courier added, handing it off to Mondo. “Hope I wasn’t a bother.” He scurried off.

“My God, what did she do to him?” Zager muttered. “Poor man, he’ll be out in one week from the looks of it.”

Mondo looked through the stack of things for Zager. “Doctor… look!” He gave Zager a small pile of brightly colored envelopes.

“Birthday cards…” Zager said. “From Sebastian, Giovanni, James… some people I hardly know…” He came to a sudden realization. “If we were without a courier yesterday… these must have been from yesterday’s things.”

“They all remembered, then,” Mondo said. “Doctor..I have even better news.” He handed an envelope off to Zager.

“What’s this?” Zager asked, then he noticed the envelope was Giovanni’s personal stationery. He quickly opened it up and took out the contents. “Oh,” he said. “That’s… that’s a lot of zeroes,” he said. He showed it to Mondo.

“You’re not kidding.”

“I think we can safely assume yesterday was a success, then?”

“Without a doubt, sir,” Mondo replied.

Zager’s phone rang. “It’s the boss,” Zager said, looking at the caller ID. “Mondo,” he said. “Think you can make something else of mine vanish long enough to distract me while you go buy a bottle of champagne?”



I’ll admit that I did have to look up some of these characters having not been familiar with much of the anime. I didn’t feel lost at any point in the story however as you characterised the members of Team Rocket pretty well! I didn’t have any trouble getting an idea on what they were like, and I also felt it was neat you managed to throw in Mondo, a non-Anime character, into the mix of otherwise anime-only characters. On that note he may have been my favourite character from the bunch.

I’m afraid the one that appealed to me the least was Matori (ignoring the bit-size roles like couriers). She was alright, just the weakest of the bunch I thought. Her apparently freaking out on all couriers past and present wasn’t too amusing a trait and a bit questionable to me, and almost out of place. While this was a collection of anime characters, and the anime has had its fair share of slapstick comedy and the sort, this didn’t feel like it quite fit the rest of the theme – professor worried his birthday was forgotten, serious business presentations with grants/funding at stack, etc. It felt a touch out of place. (And if I may add pretty inefficient, or rather unnecessarily obstructive, for Team Rocket’s operations in the headquarters.)

Meanwhile, while I can see why it was necessary to explain her role and affect (firing courier means no mail means Zager didn’t get the messages), the extra scene with her and Giovanni didn’t really offer much new information to the story or into how Team Rocket as an organisation worked and maybe could have been cut if not for the fact you’d need to address pacing for how the previous scene ended and the following starts.

On that note, the one flaw that may lie in the story’s plot may be the fact Zager didn’t consider the fact he didn’t get any mail was because Matori had fired another courier. It seemed to me to be a regular occurrence in the TR world after all, so it may have been a fair assumption. Granted though, his mind was otherwise preoccupied and it could have been depression masking that thought process, which makes sense, but that thought did occur to me nonetheless.

The story was cute in a sense as well, and the ending was sufficiently rewarding. I was amused that Mondo had ended up going with his plan with stealing his supervisor’s presentation like that to buy time and all, and it was good to see that it all worked out too. I suppose it was a little predictable however and maybe could have involved some more conflict within it, as I never felt terribly worried that Zager wouldn’t be able to pull off his presentation or feel upset about the initial lack of recognition about his birthday. Even Mondo going with that idea was something I thought he would end up doing the first time it came up. But I still enjoyed it all the same. The story’s pacing was fairly steady throughout and the characters were well rounded.

You explored the base of Team Rocket and how it worked pretty well, so I was satisfied how you addressed the prompt here. It may not have gone in as many details as some other entries but it was solidly rounded and seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea to have presentation pitches for new operations to be funded. I rather liked that direction.

Description was solid; I didn’t have any issues there. Sometimes I did find the writing style to be a bit choppy, e.g.:
While he was normally content to have the laws of nature to confide in, he certainly didn't

Even if it was largely a performance.
These sentences felt somewhat incomplete and affected the pacing. I noticed this more in the beginning on the story so maybe I got used to it or it simply happened less often, but it did disrupt how I read the story initially. This line in particular confused me a bit too – what was a performance, exactly?

Beyond that the rest I saw were pretty minor things overall, like punctuation or the like.
Zager Apartment

I feel this should be Zager’s Apartment, especially when you later refer to, say, Zager’s Office.
This proposal was going to go well and Zager was going to be so proud of him, he just knew it.. maybe he'd get a promotion... the possibilities were endless.
There should be a third dot after ‘he just knew it’. Also, nitpicky but the possibilities didn’t seem all that endless to me – maybe a promotion, maybe just a raise, maybe just a nod of approval, maybe nothing. =p
Matori, his ever-sarcastic secretary and loyal assistant, was most certainly in, she had brought him coffee this morning, like always, so theory number two was right out.
This sentence was a run-on and may be better reworded as separate sentences.
“Are you sure you have everything today?” Mondo asked,
Change that comma to a full stop.
“Doctor..I have even better news.”
Three dots rather than three again, and there should be a space between it and ‘I have’ as well.

Overall it was certainly an enjoyable story throughout with a sweet ending. Well done with the entry!


I've got to admit, it was a welcome surprise to see an entry in a villain-themed contest that went for a more light-hearted, feel-good sort of story. Ultimately the people who do villainous things are people too, so it's pretty entertaining to see a cackling villain type like Zager get fussed over something as mundane as a birthday, especially with his vehement denial about it bothering him. Mondo was also an interesting pick character-wise, since he's one of those obscure bit part characters that don't usually get a lot of attention but fits perfectly into the scenario you went for.

That being said, not everything in the story feels like it fits in equally well. Matori's part in particular felt a bit incidental to the story as a whole, essentially only serving as an explanation for courier messages not getting through that also overlapped somewhat with the scene where Giovanni was wondering about the same thing. It's a fairly large amount of scene space spent on something that ultimately resolved itself without input from the main characters and only existed as a reason for why the mail wasn't getting through so it came off as rather excessive and redundant.

The other thing I felt was somewhat lacking was in the connection to the contest theme. While the characters involved are obviously all named members of Team Rocket and part of the team, the plot itself is one that would work largely unchanged if you substituted the characters in it for people with no association to the team at all. This is partly because the scenario in itself is one that could occur in any given workplace and partly because the particular characters involved aren't doing anything so particular to them as characters or the relations between each other that you couldn't substitute them for non-canon characters in a similar dynamic. Likewise, neither the past nor future events of canon really have much purchase on the plot of this particular story. This could work in itself if the plot really dug into the meat and bones of the characters' personal backstories and motivations, but that aspect is unfortunately also fairly surface-level, with the characters involved remaining largely static and unchanging in their disposition from start to finish and aren't required to interact much to progress the plot forward as the given obstacles are largely resolved by one person acting on their own initiative (Matori replaces the old courier with a new courier, Mondo sets up the party all by himself, Zager pulls off the presentation essentially by himself) and therefore don't spark much interaction or cause to delve into the characters in more depth. Seeing Mondo opt for the option where he wouldn't have to make human contact was particularly frustrating for that reason, since these characters making more human contact was something I kept hoping would happen but never really did.

All in all, it's an interesting direction to take and a decent little heartwarming story, but the execution feels somewhat generic and could use a stronger foundation in the histories of the particular team and characters you chose to go with. Similarly, the plot structure could do with a bit more in the way of conflict and interaction between different characters to make it more exciting and create more room for character development.


This is a very sweet, heartwarming story. You do a great job making the characters lovable and endearing in your portrayal, spinning an amusing series of events around the concept, and writing it all out with some nice comic timing and fun dialogue.

That said, however, it reads decidedly more like an office sitcom than a story about a criminal organization. That's not a bad thing in itself - it's not trying to be anything else, and it succeeds perfectly well at what it's trying to do - but it does mean it's by its very nature not the best fit for this contest: as advised in the contest thread, we were hoping to see stories really exploring something about the villainous teams, and if the fact the characters are members of a crime syndicate is completely incidental to the story, that puts it at a disadvantage.

The plot of characters throwing a surprise party for someone who thinks his birthday has been forgotten is a well-worn trope, and while there are minor tweaks on the standard formula here (nobody deliberately pretends to have forgotten his birthday), it's still decidedly familiar. There are good reasons it's a stock plot, since it leads to easy warm fuzzies as a character learns they're more cared for and appreciated than they thought, and I actually think your version improves on the formula since with the standard version there's always the glaring question of why everyone lets the subject spend most of their birthday miserably thinking everyone forgot, but just the same, it renders the story rather generic and predictable.

I can't quite get behind Mondo's decision that the best way to improve Zager's birthday is to make him think the files for his presentation are lost in order to buy time to throw him a hastily improvised surprise party. That's going to cause Zager a lot of completely unnecessary stress and waste a bunch of his time looking for it when he could have been preparing. Mildly deceiving someone to make the surprise of an amazing party better is an acceptable trade-off, but when the thing they're being deceived about has serious real-life consequences, it's a lot harder to justify. Especially given there wasn't even a surprise party until Mondo frantically arranged one with Zager's own decorations and vending machine snacks, I don't think the surprise itself is awesome enough to make up for it here - Mondo could have just thrown him a regular, non-surprise party and saved him the trouble of tearing his hair out looking for that flash drive. I don't know about you, but I'd definitely prefer a quickly thrown-together regular, non-surprise party over a quickly thrown-together surprise party preceded by a couple of hours of serious stress and paranoia just before I have to give a very important presentation to an audience. It's a lot harder to write a good story about a birthday party that isn't a surprise, obviously, but when I was first reading this, my first reaction to Mondo's plan was no, what, what are you doing?!, which probably isn't the feeling you wanted to evoke here.

It also bugged me that apparently Team Rocket regularly just goes whole days without a courier when they suddenly quit. Don't they ever have messages that might be important to have delivered on the day? Shouldn't they have some assistant who can step in as a backup courier while they're finding a new one, especially if this happens often? This plot point doesn't feel like how things would really work. If there were some exceptional unforeseeable situation going on for today only, it would be a lot more believable that the mail didn't get delivered.

Finally, it feels awfully convenient that Zager just happened to have a stash of birthday stuff in his office that Mondo just happens to know about; I couldn't help but balk when that came up. The justification sort of makes sense - Zager does seem to care about birthdays more than most of his fellow Rockets - but Mondo seems to care more than anyone, so couldn't he have been the one to make sure to always keep a secret stash of birthday decorations around? It makes more sense that way and avoids the awkwardness of throwing Zager's party with his own stuff.

Regardless, this is a cute, pretty well executed piece of happy anime Rocket fluff that made me smile. It's just not quite what we were looking for in this contest and suffers a bit for the clichéd plot.

Sike Saner

I'll admit, I had a little trouble following this story at first. More specifically, I had trouble following Mondo's motives. Whenever the drive came up, my thoughts were, Wait, what did he want with that again? I'm not sure what would clear that up quicker, seeing as I'm still not entirely sure how I missed the cues, but there it is.

And yeah, I'm a little surprised that Mondo got away with what was--by Zager's own words--a serious act of subordination. Granted, he didn't seem to mind the stuff Mondo said about Sebastian, but this was insubordination and deception toward Zager himself. And Mondo presented the really rather important drive at the last second right in front of Giovanni--might Giovanni (or Sebastian) have realized that Mondo stole the thing, too? Would they have been so willing to let it slide for the sake of a birthday party? It makes me wonder.

Snooze, this time with greater force- ironic coming out of a man who was otherwise dead to the world.
Ironic? Nah. Strange, sure, but not ironic.

Matori, a woman who believed in clearly labeling every last thing, precisely to avoid wasting her energy being troubled with such questions, pointed out exactly where he could put the mail.
I think the bolded part would benefit from being set off with em dashes/double hyphens rather than commas. It makes it easier to tell what the "precisely to avoid wasting her energy being troubled by such questions" is actually modifying.

Apart from that and a single tense error ("Zager seemed pleased he volunteered that" when it needed to be "Zager seemed pleased he'd volunteered that"), I found nothing wrong with the grammar and whatnot. And even given the snags I mentioned at the beginning of this review, this was still a pretty enjoyable read.


Just me
5th-6th place TIE: Overlord by solovino

bobandbill: 4th place (60 points)
Creepychu: 6th place (40 points)
Dragonfree: 5th place (50 points)
Sike Saner: 8th place (20 points)
Total: 170 points

Flick… flick… flick…

“…That said, it is an unique opportunity for your company.” The voice came from the Persian’s human, a man sitting on the swivel chair at the end of the table, the same chair the Persian always liked to keep an eye on during human meetings. “With only a signature, that legion of lawyers Devon keeps by your development offices, gone…”

Then came the sound of a finger flick and the chair bent back a bit, with just the precision and little noise enough to indicate a move practised, perfected, enjoyed.

“In a matter of hours.”

The other humans were at this point squinting at the Persian’s human, sometimes leaning on the table for extra closeness, the lights on the room dim and focused on the pieces of artwork around the table. For the Persian the lights were just perfect, not that he needed them.

In the darkness he could perceive a tall woman of open, commanding gestures arguing with an older human who calmly read through every page, every line, as if looking for inscrutable clues that would save his team from this dire situation. There were two other people trying to go over the documents and discuss options, but the old man showed his erudition by keeping focused on the precise task at hand.

The Persian’s human caught on some of the argument and the cat saw his human’s mouth twist only slightly in a gesture full of vindictive pleasure.

The Persian’s ear instinctively leaned to the left to catch the sound of head scratching and of hands running through folders and papers. The humans left around a scent not unlike that of stressed and cornered prey and the Persian noticed in the dim light that their hands seemed sweaty and would twist and momentarily turn into fists for each possible route of escape that their erudite preemptively refuted. All these signs told the feline that his human’s threat had brought about the desired effect.

Or… perhaps, nearly the desired effect. The Persian buffed and stirred on the carpet for a moment, struggling to fight increasing pangs of hunger and a growing desire for a bit of moonlight and fresh air. And perhaps a small live Pidgey to eat.

flick… flick… flick…

Moonlight, finally… The Persian looked to the side opposite to that of the window to witness the twisting of the shadows of the humans, invisible for them, cast by the pale but growing moonlight reaching through the curtains, ornamented with the logo of the city of evergreen.

“The… the patent managers were insistent that…” came the voice of one of the male humans at the other side of the table, followed by more shuffling of papers, “we were to discuss any alternatives with the project supervisors…”

Oh no, here they were with the hesitation again.

For the thirty-somethingth time already.

flick… flick… flick…

The Persian took a look at the window, his tail still flicking about as it had been for over half an hour already. The curtains were completely extended and the feline could only barely perceive the lazily swirling city lights past it, and the shine of the Moon reaching higher into the sky.


…Had this meeting lasted that long?

The attention of the cat was forcibly returned to the table by a quiet and exasperated breath coming from the person sitting at the swivel chair.

“Did he? The project supervisor, hmmm.” The human leaned forwards and rested his arms on the table this time, with only his business black attire and his Boldorex watch coming under the light. “He will attest that the terms have barely changed, if at all.”

The Persian could now sense the stress expressed in his human’s hands almost scratching the table, the same way the Persian’s claws would less than amicably stroke the carpet.

flick… flick… flick…

The Persian stretched his claws. He only knew bits and pieces of the human business language, but he was far more familiar with the language of their bodies, more than enough to understand he was not the only one fed up with the pathetic indecisions of those future subjects.

One of the women in the team spoke this time. “Our team would like to return to the hotel,” came her voice, older and assured, but still tense as the woman faced the certainty in the voice of the Persian’s human, “and rest a little to more adequately review the terms of this offer.”

…They had to be kidding.

flick flick flick flick…

The Persian sighed and let his fangs show, his tail swinging back and forth more menacingly now, looking for something to swat.

...They had DARED!

flick flick flick flick…

Dared to make him wait even more. Such an annoyance.

They are simply weaker than my human, thus they are bound to serve me, the Persian thought, letting his fangs show, they just have to accept it.

Work for the Persian had been hard during the last few days, and surely had those days been hard for his subjects, too. And for his partner in crime…

For weeks the human led his people in arduous tasks to please the Persian. The subjects did everything that was requested of them at any time of the day they were asked to, even if they had just been conquered and were untrained, they would obey.

flick… flick… flick…

He had to admit they did things right, yes.

When the Persian got bored with simple marbles to play while the human was busy with a Trainer challenge, the Persian went to file his complaint to his human’s mate. The next day, his human tasked some subjects to go fetch beautiful, amber rocks from the mountains to the north for the cat to play with and swat around. When the Persian grew irate that the campus was bereft of Rattata to chase around, the human gathered his subjects at the backyard and ordered that they were to be issued Zubat and Grimer as partners instead.

Once or twice a season, when the Persian started to get bored of the same buildings, the same house, the same alleys, his human and his subjects would take him to various places of enjoyment, such as the fenced land where he and his human could hunt Pokémon at their leisure, or the town to the east with the cemetery tower where the human had ordered his subjects to run pranks and bully the Trainers around.

Yes, it was their job…

flick… flick… flick…

But right now Persian wanted to have fun, to play with his human partner and to frolic around under the moonlight... Wasn’t that his human’s job, too? The Persian took it as a given. Besides, he… they, were more than fed up with educating future subjects today.

A part of him even wondered, in his boredom, if his subjects were allowed to have fun too. Perhaps they were having fun with their Rattata - his Rattata- while he was caged here with his human and some cowards from the next town over.


The feline scowled as his tail slapped the carpet. Fun for the plebeians, the thought!

Perhaps it was best that the Persian made his opinion… No, his command, on the matter, known right now.

As he was thinking of that, the Persian heard and sensed his human’s posture become more rigid, his voice harsher. The commanding attitude both had learned during their life came off from the human naturally; his human had learned it well, thought the Persian, realizing that the human must have sensed the cat’s decision.

“Our buyout offer is as it stands right here and now. Leave this table, and I withdraw it along with the rest of our…”, the Persian heard the chair swivel, “current assistance.”

A threat of hunt. The Persian’s eyes opened wider.

His curiosity piqued, the Persian stretched once again and sat on his hind legs. He took more or the dim light bathing the room and saw clearly that the human was no longer watching his interlocutors. Those losers, entangled in their documents of strange and binding language, arguing with each other, likely about how to take their now assured defeat.

The Persian turned to his human and saw he had turned away to the covered windows. His hands held in front of his face, his fingers interlocked, the gesture hiding what would be in a cat the threat of fangs; but the gesture did nothing to hide the rest of his face, tensed in a private agony, or his eyes, which tried to reach to something beyond the office they were all sitting in.

flick… flick… flick…

The Persian knew full well where his human had turned his sights to. Far beyond the reaches of the night and filled by the closer and more soothing voices of the female and the child his human had made family with, there was the abode that the human and sometimes the feline called “home”.

Yes. This was a shared desire.

And as such, it should be command.

A tug on the human's pants brought his eyes down, to meet those of the Persian that had just reached to him; for a brief moment they locked into each other, only able to reveal in their half-openness the extreme tiredness and the souring mood taking over the two of them.

That was allowed to last a little. They were partners, they would well inform each other of their wants and pains.

Then came the jump to the human’s lap. That was more because of tradition, but also because the Persian wanted to gain a higher ground. He was not to let a bunch of cowards force him to have to look them up.

Staring at the four or five humans didn’t last long. They were still busy discussing their surrender anyway. One of the hands of the human came down to stroke the Persian’s fur, right in the base of the head and around the neck, and then up to the chin, a path that the Persian welcomed with movements gentle and calculated over the course of several years, so that both he and his human would have to exert the minimum movement required for their rest. The Persian’s human sighed, probably thinking back to times where petting and playing were more frequent activities.

Over the table, the voices of the team of losers reached the Persian, but he did not care about the contradictory mix of defiance and resignation in them, in the older woman and in the man of skill in contracts. He cared only of having time to share with his human.

The feline Pokémon stared at his partner for a moment, purred softly (so that the losers wouldn’t hear him) and then softly closed his eyes, this request finally having a noticeable effect. The human raised his hand and interrupted the negotiations with a stern voice.

“My… friends,” the words came forth as a fake compliment, with a hint of feline scorn even, “maybe you are right… this is such an ungodly hour. Let’s continue to discuss the terms of our involvement tomorrow, when we all feel more refreshed.”

The Persian could feel his partner's shared eagerness to get out of that place and took the first step, from his lap to the carpeted ground below. From there, he wasted no time to rush to one of the thick doors that served as exits. He sat there facing the door, not bothering to make any effort to further acknowledge the losers he had left behind. At most he turned an ear to verify that his human was soon following.

In fact, just a bit later, the human's hand reached for the knob and the feline turned a last bit of attention to the workers he and his human left behind. The servants-to-be tired and confused as they continued to examine the documents and hushed about what had gone through “director Giovanni’s” head just now.

Servants, be they standing or new, always would lack the required understanding.

Right now they mattered not, anyway.


Ah, finally free. Outside.

It was a bit chilly compared to the inside and the streetlights had been behaving weird for a couple of days straight, sure, but the Persian’s natural coat of fur and natural eyesight took care of most of that.

The Persian felt very pleased at being able to stretch and breathe. Finally getting to the park, the greenest area in an already green city, dispelled much of the feline’s worries. During the walk to get outside of the building his claws had tried every surface -the fine wine red carpeting, the strangely tiled glass-like floor by the elevator, the shoes of a secretary who dared interrupt them with a report about a “zap dose”, the ivory pillars by the lobby- to reacquaint itself with the outside world. The human on the other paw, had taken off his jacket and had gone to yawn and stretch, to then dedicate himself to take in every sight and every scent of their path to the freedom outside.

Now they had it, they were part of it. Among the trees and lampposts of the manmade forest and in the middle of the night, freedom. The Persian looked up to a world that, while nocturnal and shadowy for the humans, was full of sound and light and bursting activity for the feline. All of the moonlight, all of the city’s secrets were now at their disposal.


The Persian called up and received some pets on his head, right by the jewel that crowned it. The city could come later, right now he deserved this: some time for petting, and for relaxation.

The wine red carpeting had been nice, and the feline made a point to check that the subjects had not fixed the little holes he had left after next meeting. Because there would be a next one. Hissing and scratching at the secretary to assert his dominance was fun too, and the face of disingenuousness -mock disingenuousness, at that- that his human had given to him while reprimanding him had been totally worth it. But those things were part of the job.

A moment after, the human and Pokémon were sitting on a bench. The human folded his jacket over his shoulder and arm, to cover himself from the wind coming that direction, and the two of them relaxed and whiled away some time just watching the world go by. It took some minutes for the human to finally express his feelings about the meeting, which he did with a tired slight of some sort towards the mother of one of the “accountant” humans in the losers team. Whichever of them her son was, with how the day had been going, he likely deserved it. No matter who the mother was, the Persian decided.

The Persian made a mental note to have that accountant be found and cast out during the next meeting. Under what kind of punishment he didn't get to figure out, as the Pokémon's mood was soothed by the sudden and much welcome touch of the human on the creature's forehead, which then moved to the top of the head and from there -oh, bliss, oh vibrations and harmonic inhalations- to the neck and torso.

And he had thought that meeting was never going to be over…


The Persian stretched his neck and purred for a moment. He rolled on the bench by the human a couple of times, elegantly scratching the wood, and in retribution the human leaned over and searched across the Persian's back for more spots to be petted and scratched. Much of the day had been wasted in silly human incompetence, so the feline was quick to guide the human’s touch to the shoulder and the base of the neck, the spots he loved so much to have rubbed and cleared of loose fur.

The two talked for several minutes while they allowed themselves to expel the stress of the day, they talked about family, about back-alley concerts, about Poké balls, about the Gym in the city, about prey offerings, and about the moonlight. After that, the feline grew restless, he needed to stretch his muscles and let them loose.

The human looked around, there were barely any people this time of the night. The feline listened around too, all of the birds were sleeping or occupying themselves watching over the humans in the busy streets with unsatisfiable curiosity. The wind was low but firm, and surely had already revealed the Persian’s presence to the Pokémon living around the area. The Persian huffed in annoyance.

That was when it happened.

It shone near the fountain and quickly darted across the ground, heading towards a nearby tree. Somehow it disappeared and then appeared in the next tree and from there jumped to a nearby bench, teasing him.

It was “it” again. The Persian tensed and stood up, he tried to bump his head against the human’s to guide his sight to where the strange creature was. The human laughed, tensed a bit, but followed the motion and explained something that the cat did not understand. But the tone and voice of the explanation he did understand. It was there, and it had to be caught or chased away.

Yes, this time it would not escape. The Persian stood on his human’s lap and scratched at his legs in preparation. He stared at the creature, dancing in the night with its offending red bright, crossing from place to place and vanishing into thin air along the way. The feline’s body readied, his hindquarters and tail shaking to flex his muscles and set them to the finesse and precision required for the chase, his ears flattened, his whiskers folded to his muzzle.

The creature halted by some bushes where there was a plaque commemorating the creation of the park.

The human said the word.

The Persian leapt after the creature with a hiss, claws out and tail sprung and ready for the maneuvers that this creature’s small size and incredibly high evasiveness, both higher than even the best trained Joltik’s, would require.

This would be the Persian’s vengeance for the day-long meeting. As the strange creature danced away, the predator leapt and circled around, and took over the park with a threatening roar- for nothing more was required. Even if it was by proxy, this park, these buildings, this city, they were his.

And this creature had to learn that.

Tonight, the Red Dot would fall.



This story had an intriguing beginning and a rather amusing ending as well, and the funniest bit I found among all the entries, so kudos there.

I liked this way of addressing the prompt as well in using Giovanni’s Persian as a narrator. It was amusing to see how it interpreted everything going on as soon-to-be slaves/servants, and its indignation in having to wait for things. But it was also an interesting way to showcase the head of Team Rocket as well, and I think that worked rather well. The POV seemed to be well written too given the non-human narrator.

That said, I was initially confused what the ‘flick, flick, flick’ referred to, as it wasn’t clear Persian was narrating until some paragraphs into the story. Some confusion also came from the use of the phrase ‘then came the sound of a finger flick’ before Persian was introduced, so I interpreted it as the sound of papers being flicked through or something rather than a tail moving about. Those additions also seemed to rapidly decrease in the last segment – there was only two ‘Meows’ when you were having one of those events added every few paragraphs earlier at times.

I did feel that the story could have maybe used a bit more, so I am curious what that extra bit you wrote was that ultimately was excluded due to the final deadline. As it is, it did feel a bit unresolved with the beginning scene, but it was still an enjoyable slice-of-life fic all the same and I suppose it’s fair enough to assume the unfortunate group Giovanni was harassing in business deals would have to give in anyway.

The story was pretty clean in regards to typos or the like from what I saw.
Then came the sound of a finger flick and the chair bent back a bit, with just the precision and little noise enough to indicate a move practised, perfected, enjoyed.
’and little noise’ sounded a bit odd to me in the sentence and took a bit away from what was otherwise a really good sentence to have near the beginning.

Toward the end there were a couple run-on sentences, which may be natural to see more of at the end of a contest entry:
The subjects did everything that was requested of them at any time of the day they were asked to, even if they had just been conquered and were untrained, they would obey.
I feel this would read better if split into a second sentence around ‘...asked to, even...’. And:
The human looked around, there were barely any people this time of the night. The feline listened around too, all of the birds were sleeping or occupying themselves watching over the humans in the busy streets with unsatisfiable curiosity.
Here I would split each sentence into two again, or at least reword them.

Besides this on occasion there was the extra space here and there, e.g.:
They are simply weaker than my human, thus they are bound to serve me, the Persian thought, letting his fangs show, they just have to accept it.
But those are minor matters a decent spell/grammar checker should pick up upon.

Once again, nice direction with the entry, and an amusing ending.


I love the perspective you went for with this one. There's a lot to explore when it comes to how pokémon relate to people who are in a group essentially dedicated to the exploitation of pokémon, and this kind of owner-pet dynamic also provides a great opportunity to show a different side to a normally all-business character like Giovanni. The Persian's delusions of grandeur also work very well as a basis for a working relationship between the two, where both feel that they're in charge and calling the shots, and it also makes for an entertaining angle to view things happening from. It's a promising setup all around and your prose is mostly solid and effective.

Unfortunately, that promise never seems fully realized in the story itself. While there are some nice character moments in there, such as where the meeting is called off and the ending scene with the laser pointer, I was left at the end wondering what had really been accomplished. The story as it is feels like you've set it up to explore the relationship between Giovanni and his Persian, but never quite gets to the exploring part. Personality-wise, both the characters remain largely in the same position throughout, both in their respective positions of comfortable control (or belief of being in control) of the situation, with neither being placed in any circumstance that they are forced to treat as more than just a minor nuisance, relationship-wise they are basically in synch from beginning to end, and action-wise there really isn't a whole lot going on in the story. A meeting is in progress, but the outcome of that meeting is - as the narration itself already points out - already a foregone conclusion and thus not a very effective source of tension or conflict, and beyond that the only source of excitement left is in chasing the 'red dot' at the very end, which comes too late to have an impact. As a result, the plot arc ends up feeling more like a straight line, which leaves the story as a whole feeling static and somewhat shallow in scope. A plot without much action would be fine so long as it is used as an opportunity to showcase different facets of the characters in play, and a plot with relatively static characters would still work fine if the things those characters did were in themselves compelling, but with neither side being provided for there isn't much room for the characters (or the characterization thereof) to grow.

You do an effective job of showing the bounds in which Giovanni and the Persian are comfortable with each other, and the narration occasionally hints at interesting facets of Giovanni's personality that you wouldn't know from looking at the man on his job, but it's a bit unfortunate that those things are mostly told to us when they could be shown in-scene, especially since you picked a narrator who is in such a good position to notice these sorts of things without drawing attention to themselves. From what little hints I could glean, I would have loved to see a scene of the two interacting at home, or together in a non-meeting situation, or on the hunting ground that was mentioned, or any of the dozens of different contexts where they spend time together. Similarly, it'd have been interesting to see them in situations where their relationship is more strained or their interests are in conflict, since that'd show not just what they are like when they get along but also how they argue and resolve differences with each other, maybe even how they make amends with each other. That kind of broader view would help add depth to both them as characters and the relationship between them, as well as adding perspective to Persian's biased view on how things are and how they work.

All in all, you've got a great concept going and your prose is serviceable with occasional great lines, but the weak character arc leaves it feeling somewhat lacking when it's all said and done. I just wish that more of this relationship had been explored because what little I've gleaned is really quite interesting.


I love the idea of writing about Giovanni making shady Rocket business deals from the point of view of his Persian, who just wants the attention of his human for himself. You do a great job getting into the Persian's perspective, particularly with the way that he's more attentive to body language than to speech - it's interesting and unusual and makes perfect sense for a Pokémon POV, and you do it in such a way that the actual dialogue genuinely feels almost like unimportant background noise, which is cool to see. And even while Persian doesn't care in the least, you still get across the tension over this deal and make it sound like there's a lot at stake, creating a sense of intrigue.

I also appreciate the catness of it - Persian really feels like a cat, and you have some details in here that ring familiar to a cat owner. His relationship with Giovanni is similarly pleasantly familiar, and the thought of Giovanni playing with his Persian with a laser pointer is pretty adorable. At the same time, I really like that this story doesn't try to minimize or make us forget that Giovanni is also kind of terrifying: he's not just really a big softie who loves his cat deep down, he's a threatening, sinister figure who has the power to do basically whatever he wants, who also happens to love his cat.

Your prose is a bit shaky at times, though. You actually have some nice, evocative descriptions in here that contribute a lot to Persian's voice and how deliciously catlike it is, and because it works with the character you can often get away with somewhat overdramatic wording that just feels right, but other times your sentences trip over themselves and become confusing and hard to follow. For instance, I needed to squint at "The Persian looked to the side opposite to that of the window to witness the twisting of the shadows of the humans, invisible for them, cast by the pale but growing moonlight reaching through the curtains, ornamented with the logo of the city of evergreen" for several seconds to make out what you were talking about; it's a long sentence combining a bunch of ideas, wording some of them in a roundabout, convoluted way while obscuring exactly how they're all connected, and it makes it take significant mental work to piece it all together correctly. Sometimes these sentences don't quite make grammatical sense, too, making them even harder to parse. Unfortunately, this is a recurring problem here and probably the main issue with this. You should probably try to consciously keep this in mind when you write - ask yourself for every sentence whether it makes sense, whether you could be saying some of this in a more straightforward way, whether it really is obvious enough how its components relate to one another and whether you really need all those components or could break some of them off into their own sentences. You might also want to brush up on general grammar and sentence structure; the main reason for grammar to exist, after all, is to provide a framework to parse sentences, and when they don't fit into that framework, understanding them correctly is that much harder.

Also, while Persian generally felt like a cat, some of his specific behaviours seem odd. For example, you have him baring his teeth a couple of times, but in my experience that's not really something cats do - they incidentally show teeth when hissing, but you don't talk about hissing there, just showing fangs when he's thinking of something irritating. Cats don't even show their teeth when growling; it's just not really part of their body language. Even if it were, I'd expect it to be a threat display directed at the actual people, not something he idly does to himself when annoyed. Overall it just read oddly. Similarly, tugging on Giovanni's pants to get his attention sounds more like a dog than a cat; I've at least personally never seen a cat do anything of the sort (as opposed to our dog, who doesn't quite tug on pants but does like to pull at our arms with her paws when she wants to be petted), and while Persian is sapient and might intelligently figure it's a good way to do so, I think the non-catness of it detracts a bit from the general cat feel here - gently butting his leg with his head feels more like something a cat might do. The bit about him hissing and scratching at a secretary's shoes to assert dominance also seems weird - the cat dominance displays I've been witness to mostly involve lengthy stare-downs and growling until one of them relents, and the internet informs me that that's how it normally goes and cats do their best to avoid getting into a physical confrontation. That makes sense: the dominant cat just wants the other one to get out of their way without risking injury, and attacking unnecessarily just because they can only makes them more likely to get hurt themselves. Again, this could just be a result of Persian being sapient and knowing Giovanni would never allow the secretary to retaliate in any way so he can be a jerk at no cost to himself, but it still just doesn't seem like cat behaviour and thus sticks out in a story where you're otherwise relying on emphasizing Persian's feline nature.

Finally, while a cat calling people servants feels amusingly appropriate, a cat (at least a cat as sophisticated as this Persian sees himself to be) calling them losers felt a lot weirder. It bugged me a little every time it happened.

So all in all I think your concept and the general way you develop and convey it are excellent, but the story suffers from opaque, hard-to-follow prose and occasionally slips up in the cat department. Overall it's quite sweet and enjoyable, but watch those prose issues - they're what's really dragging you down here.

Sike Saner

The humans left around a scent not unlike that of stressed and cornered prey and the Persian noticed in the dim light that their hands seemed sweaty and would twist and momentarily turn into fists for each possible route of escape that their erudite preemptively refuted.
Not so sure about that use of "erudite". Either it's an adjective in noun's clothing or else there was supposed to be a noun after it that just didn't get typed.
It's also, well, kind of an awkward sentence in general. "Turn into fists for each possible route of escape that their erudite (something?) preemptively refused" really snagged me--even now, I'm not sure what it's actually saying.

Persian's sort of tangled and verbose way of viewing/describing things was, admittedly, probably the biggest obstacle to really enjoying this fic. It pulled me out of the story every couple of minutes, forcing me to try and figure out what the prose was actually describing, or at least to translate it into something with a more comfortable rhythm.

That said, when the word "interlocutors" popped up... well. I was immediately reminded of the last place I'd seen that word. Specifically, a little game called OFF. And from that point on, some little part of me couldn't help but wonder: was Persian's manner of thinking meant as a tribute of sorts to the Judge?

But anyway. When I did manage to interpret what was going on, the results occasionally brought a genuine smile to my face. Seriously, you ought to have seen me when I realized that the persian was eagerly anticipating playing with a laser pointer. That was adorable. In general, this was a cute fic. The wordiness just happened to get in the way sometimes.
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