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(FFQuarterly) Switch

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by DeliriousAbsol, Jun 29, 2016.

  1. DeliriousAbsol

    DeliriousAbsol Call me Del

    A/N - If anyone has read Glitched they'll be aware of the character Switch. The Fanfiction Quarterly Challenge prompt 'Write a fic where your protagonist has unusual powers of some sort' seemed perfect for Switch, and I hope the following story will show why. In an already established universe I made up for Glitched, he's a protagonist in a cyberpunk style PMD universe which I hope you enjoy! Writing in the first person is new for me. I don't think I've ever done it before. I'm also new to writing such urban environments. Any feedback, especially advice on writing cities, would be amazing!


    Switch​

    No one really knows what happened.

    Like everyone else enjoying their summer vacation on Cinnabar Island, no one expected the explosion. It tore through the air like thunder, only it was a damaging thunder, tearing through buildings, throwing people up into the air.

    I was just another one of those people. A young boy on a vacation away from home.

    However, unlike thunder, something was spinning, flashing. Almost tornado-like, and it was sucking us in. Everything went by so quickly it was impossible to fathom. All I know is one minute I was caught in a disaster in Cinnabar Island, the next I was sprawled out on my back in the grass.

    No more storm. No more explosion. Just a blue sky dotted with clouds and a warm sun. Anyone would have thought it was all just a dream. For a moment I did. I thought I'd fallen asleep by the sea, except the sea doesn't have a grassy bed beside it. And I usually don't wake up feeling like death.

    Slowly, a strange sound reached my ears over the throbbing in my skull. A dull humming similar to static disturbing a radio feed. I threw myself up and looked back, trying to pinpoint the sound, and what I saw crippled me with terror. A wall of static distorted the image of a city beyond it. Was it Cinnibar Island? Had I somehow escaped a phenomenal disaster? How many were trapped in there? I tried to stand up, but it was like my body wouldn't obey. Every time I moved my arms, it felt like I was going to rise off the ground. Flailing, I staggered towards that wall, and froze as my foot hit something soft. Something with fur. Somehow I hadn't noticed it, but the grass was filled with unconscious bodies. Each one a pokemon, and each one massive. I'd been too transfixed with that wall of static to notice it, but it made the whole scene a lot more terrifying.

    What had happened? Where had their trainers gone?

    My body stiffened and I suddenly felt very sick. I keeled over as the large bodies around me shrank. The world seemed to shrink. Or I grew. One or the other. As I fell backwards onto the grass, spread-eagled, I heard voices. Panicked voices.

    Running towards us were yet more pokemon, adorned in heavy black armour and some carrying shields. They looked like a SWAT team. Maybe I was dreaming.

    But then every muscle went stiff once more and I thought I was going to cough up my insides. In my peripheral vision I could see my arm transforming. Feathers. Bright red, cream and black feathers.

    This had to be a nightmare.

    At some point I screamed. I must have done because the riolu that stopped beside me took a step back and raised a paw to strike. It didn't, though. The manectric beside it said something. Something I could oddly enough understand. Something about getting help.

    I don't remember anything else between that moment, and waking up in a soft bed.

    ...​

    The walls of the ward were white, a bright white that amplified the light from the fluorescent bulbs. I sat up and rubbed at my eyes, trying to block out some of the light, and groaned. When my feet hit the floor, I lost my balance as the walls around me grew. I flapped those feathered wings and skittered across the floor, screaming for help. As I reached the other side, I fell backwards as the room shrank around me. I felt like Alice trapped in Wonderland, constantly changing size in a disorienting fashion. I actually felt sympathy for the character.

    What was going on? What crazy sickness had that explosion given me? It was either that, or I was stuck in some bonkers nightmare. Maybe I'd hit my head and was in a coma. The real me wasn't going back and forth between a pokemon and a human.

    I turned back to the bed and my eyes fell on a clip board. Scrawled across the paper were the words 'Unknown entity. Male. Switches between forms. Can't place age. Species - Talonflame?' The creatures here were as perplexed as I was.

    The door beside me slid open, just as my body decided it didn't want to be human any more. The face of a machop peered around the door, his body hidden beneath a white doctor's coat.

    “How are you feeling?” he asked. He sounded young, but his badge said he was a supervisor.

    I groaned as I tried to rub my head with a wing. It was a nigh impossible task.

    “What's happened to me?” I asked.

    “We're trying to figure that out,” said the machop. “The SWAT team sent to investigate the explosion found hundreds of unconscious bodies. You were amongst them. All we can gather is you're not from this world.”

    “A different world?!” I tried to jump up but just flapped around erratically. My movements didn't amuse him. Instead he found it distressing.

    “You must be. We've not seen creatures like you before.” He scratched his head as he eyed me up and down. “You seem to be having difficulty staying in one form.”

    “You're telling me.” Finally my body returned to being human long enough for me to rub my head. It didn't like it though. Pretty soon I was once again covered in feathers.

    “We're working on a solution,” said the machop. “I can't tell you any details, but there is one other like you.”

    “One other? What about all the other unconscious bodies?” I asked.

    “We think they're all the same as you, only stable.”

    “Awake?”

    He shook his head sadly. Great. That meant there were no answers, and I was in no fit state to gather any.

    He moved from the room and closed the door, leaving me to the irritating back and fro.

    ...​

    For days it went on. I was examined, injected with indescribable serums each of which did nothing. Wait... I tell a lie. One made me throw up. But nothing stopped the back and forth between talonflame and human.

    It was a painful time. No information, living out each day warping between one form and the next. Even sleep didn't give much peace. The changes were less frequent, and it took a very long time to sleep through a full night without the changes waking me up.

    The disorienting nausea stopped. One could say I got used to it, but I don't think I ever really did. It just became more of an annoyance and less of a distress.

    Two years I spent in that place. Two long years being poked, prodded, injected, fed medicines, all to no avail.

    Until one day there was a knock at the door, and it slid open to reveal the machop and two small pokemon. A lillipup and helioptile.

    “Hi there,” said the machop with a smile. “These two here claim to be friends of yours. Do you recognise them?”

    The lillipup beamed from ear to ear and wagged his tail furiously. “Oh boy! We found you! You look just like you always did!”

    Since I was currently squatting beside a plate of berries in the form of a talonflame I found that very hard to believe, and the quizzical expression on my face likely gave that away.

    The terrier pokemon's tongue lolled out of his mouth in a way that made him look incredibly clueless I couldn't help but smile.

    “Come on, bro!” he went on. “Don't you recognise your own little brother?”

    “Brother?” I stood up at this point, the talonflame form melting away and causing me to stumble slightly. After two years I still wasn't used to the sudden size difference. “I did have a brother. But... he was back in Johto.”

    “Hmm.” The lillipup's mouth closed into a smile. “No he wasn't.”

    I frowned but before I could continue the pokemon cut me off.

    “We're taking you with us. We can look after you. Come on. Let's get you out of this place!”

    He turned away, tail wagging, and skipped past the perplexed machop.

    “I really think here is the best place for him,” the machop said.

    The lillipup looked back and said, rather firmly, “Nope! He's coming with us.”

    The fins around the helioptile's head spanned out and sparked dangerously, making the machop take a step back. He raised his paws and nodded quickly.

    “Look. I don't want any trouble. If you need to take him, take him. But the burden will be all yours.”

    “Really?” I frowned, which was no easy task with a beak.

    “You're not unhealthy. Just...” He waved a paw as he tried to think up the right words.

    “Form confused!” said the lillipup.

    “Not the term I would have used, but fair enough.” The machop shrugged. “Look. If they can sign the papers, they can take you home. There are ties – they need to keep us posted of any developments in your condition and you come in for monthly check ups. It's not ideal, but we need the space. And they claim they can look after you.”

    I found it hard to believe. These two pokemon were barely out of their eggs. If the terrier claimed to be my brother, then he should be significantly older.

    Nevertheless I found myself following the two hatchlings out of the hospital and through a city filled with pokemon. Billboard-sized TV screens advertising the latest games and technology; wagons trundling down streets without drivers, completely automatic and stopping obediently at lights or to let pokemon cross the roads; tauros and bouffalant pulling rickshaws for the tourists; pokemon zipping along on hover boards. Most of this would have been a wild dream back home.

    “So you claim to be my brother?” I asked the lillipup.

    “That was a ruse,” he explained. “The name's N00b, and this here is Diode.”

    The helioptile waved.

    “He doesn't talk much,” said N00b. “You see, we have another human who claims he can help you.”

    My erratic form changing was a surprise to every pokemon that saw it, causing squeals and screams alike. The lillipup apologised to one particularly terrified mother and child and led me onto a less busy street.

    “Why would he want to help me? Does he know me?”

    “Nope. He doesn't know anyone. Thing is, he needs as much help as he can get. And knowing there is another human out there who isn't lying in a coma gave him hope. He's made something that he thinks would be of use to you, but he wants your co-operation in return.”

    “That sounds suspicious,” I said. “He's trying to bribe me?”

    “No. Help you,” N00b corrected. “Help for help. It's dire times, erm... I'm sorry I don't know your name.” He chuckled. “We can explain everything when we reach home, okay? Just focus on staying upright.”

    It was easier said than done.

    Winding down alleys which were oddly clean for a city, I followed the two pokemon until they came out in a rather dingy looking area of the city. The formerly clean alleys were heaping with trash bags, dumpsters leaking a suspicious fluid, rubbish blown up into corners and peeling posters advertising clubs, games, bands that had finished their tours, the latest in hover-board technology.

    The two little pokemon stopped at a house and let themselves in. I hesitated briefly but a funny look from a skuntank across the street made me duck inside. The inside was much nicer than the outside. Plush sofas, a table with a beautiful bouquet of flowers perched in the middle of the room, a television playing music softly in the corner. In the far corner of the room was a computer desk holding a rather retro boxy computer that felt out of place in this world's hi-tech environment. Upon the sofa sat a pikachu with the TV's remote in his paws. He was wearing a blazer and a tie, unlike the two pokemon that had led me here which were very much all fur. He eyed me curiously before going back to his television.

    “We brought him for you, Connor,” said the lillipup.

    This got the pikachu's attention again. He lowered the remote and fixed me in an unblinking stare as he clambered down off the sofa.

    “You're human?” he asked.

    I nodded. I couldn't fault his question. Especially since it was followed by another form change back into the talonflame.

    “I've heard about you,” he said. “I wanted to get you out of there so you can help me. I trust you will, especially since...” He paused as he reached into a desk drawer and pulled out what looked like a digital watch, “I have this.”

    I frowned and inclined my head on one side. A digital watch didn't look like it needed such a dramatic introduction, but I'd seen a lot of strange things recently.

    “A watch?” I finally asked.

    “This device has been designed with your form changing in mind,” he said. “It's Diode's design. It will stabilise your form and allow you to change back and forth at the press of the button.”

    “In theory,” added N00b. “We've had no way to test it yet.”

    I eyed the watch in the pikachu's paws with some scepticism, but after all the tests the hospital had put me through I was willing to try anything. As I reached for it, he snatched his paw back and gave a gruff clear of his throat.

    “I want your word that if that device works, you will help me.”

    “Help you how?” I asked.

    “I'm trying to get back home. Back to our world. I'm sure you want to go back too, right? Being stuck here for the past two years, it leaves me to worry one might grow fond of the place. Leave me in the lurch.” He wagged the watch in the air as he emphasised his point.

    I raised my hand-now-wing and nodded. “You have my word. I will help you.”

    “Good.” He finally handed the watch to me.

    I waited out the form change before I fastened it around my wrist. Diode leapt onto the table to tinker with it, pushing the buttons in a somewhat complicated fashion. When he released it, he sat back on his haunches and watched with anticipation.

    Seconds passed. Minutes.

    “So far so good,” said N00b. “Whew, I thought I was going to shed with anxiety!”

    The little lillipup turned his attention to the computer and climbed into the chair.

    “So you said you want to get back home. How am I to help you with that?” I asked. I still wasn't convinced the watch was working, but so far so good. I couldn't complain.

    Connor climbed back onto the sofa and turned his head so he was looking at me through narrowed eyes. “How much do you know?”

    I shrugged. “Next to nothing. I've been stuck in a hospital ward for two years. I'm confused enough to wonder why you only got me out. I was told there was another patient with the same problem.”

    “Lost cause.” Connor waved it away with a paw.

    “Lost cause?” I looked to the other two pokemon for an explanation.

    “She couldn't handle it,” said N00b. “She went mad. They think as soon as she arrived in our world she lost it. They have to chain the poor thing down so she doesn't hurt herself, or anyone else.”

    My eyes widened at him. “How do you know all that?”

    “I'm a hacker. It's what I do.” He turned back to the computer and his paws glided over the keyboard. “That's how I found you. We've been watching your progress for months now while we tried to perfect the Switcher.”

    “Switcher?” I stared down at the watch. It seemed to be doing its job. No form change.

    “Yeh. If you press the green button it will change your form. Try it.”

    I was apprehensive. What if I didn't turn back? All three pairs of eyes were on me now, so I felt pressured to try it. I raised a shaky finger and pressed that green button.

    With a whoosh I was standing in the living room as a talonflame. The watch was now around my ankle, which I found strange since my arms generally become wings. I decided not to question it. I pressed it again with a claw and with that same noise I had returned to my human form.

    My jaw went slack. It worked. This untested device actually worked. I looked up at Diode and N00b – two pokemon barely out of their eggs – who had designed this watch.

    Diode smiled while N00b grinned widely and wagged his tail.

    “You're welcome!” said the lillipup.

    “This is incredible!,” I said. “But you're both just children! How did you-”

    “Prodigies,” said Connor. “Now back to business. You know nothing about what's been going on. The hospital kept you in the dark. You remember the explosion?”

    “It's kind of hard to forget,” I said as I sat down beside him.

    Connor shifted uneasily but he didn't get up. “Well. It sucked us into this world. N00b and Diode live here with a carer. She took me in. One of few pokemon who actually pity humans. A majority of them see us as vermin. They don't like us. There was an explosion here too, which spat us humans out into this world. An entire city has been consumed by it, covered by a wall that wont allow anyone who enters to come back out alive. They've named it the Fracture.”

    “That's the static wall I saw,” I said. “So whoever goes in there dies?”

    “Dunno,” said N00b. “No one's come back out. They've sent in drones to investigate and lost the signal. Pokemon have gone in on the end of wire ropes, but the wires just went slack and came back out with nothing attached to them. The theory given to it is that whatever goes in disintegrates.”

    “That makes no sense since the wires were fine!” snapped Connor.

    Diode flinched back from him and slunk over to N00b's other side, but the lillipup just shrugged.

    “It's a conspiracy theory, Connor. There's tons of them.”

    “Any idea why the explosion happened in the first place?” I asked. “I assumed freak accident.”

    “That's one theory, but pokemon believe it was all planned by the government,” N00b went on. “Some super secret experiment to open a gateway between our world and another dimension. It succeeded but in a very dangerous way, dragging hundreds of helpless humans through to our world. Many of which became pokemon and unfortunately entered comas since they couldn't handle the change.”

    “Huh. So, are you all human?” I asked.

    N00b shook his head. “I'm not. Just your everyday common lillipup. And Diode is your everyday common helioptile with selective mutism.”

    “I'm the only human in our group,” said Connor. “Or I was until I chose to add you to our team. With your form changing, you'll be able to blend in out there. The idea isn't for you to go back and forth at the drop of a hat. That's just a quirk of the Switcher to make you more comfortable. As a result you absolutely can not take it off.”

    I absently fondled the watch, turning it around on my wrist, taking in every fine detail. This one watch is what held my form still. Connor had no such issue. “But you look like a pikachu. What sense does it make to hire me just because I can change?”

    Connor balled his paws into fists and his cheeks sparked dangerously. I edged away from him, bracing myself for an attack, but none came. His sparking calmed but his body remained as taut as a coiled spring.

    “I don't go outside,” he said. “I never go outside.”

    I nodded stiffly and tried to relax back in my seat. “Fine. I shall be your outdoor eyes. I still don't understand why you need me when you have two more who can go outside.”

    “I need those two indoors for their genius,” he said. “You can fly. You can go places they can't and at a much faster speed. You can scout out and gather the parts we need for our machine.” At my raised eyebrow, he explained, “I plan to create a laser that can open a portal back to our world and get us all out of this place, away from the dangers of an uproar. There's already a threat. They hate us. This leads me to one very important detail.” He leant towards me, his nose crinkled in a frown. “I don't know your name. If you're going out there, you need to choose carefully. Do you use the name you came here with, or do you devise a new one. One that blends in.”

    I looked over at Diode and N00b. Two names, very different to the ones given to humans back home. Then I looked down at the watch. A way between two forms. Human and talonflame. Named the Switcher.

    “Switch,” I said. “I'll go by Switch.”

    Connor clapped his paws together once and leant back against the soft sofa cushion. “Excellent. It's sorted then. Switch, you're hired. Your first task is to harvest a coil. They've been hard to come by, but N00b thinks he's found one.”

    “Yes. Far north, not quite as far as the Fracture, is a farming village.” N00b brought up a map and pointed to it. I stood up to lean over his shoulder at the rather retro display. “You should find some parts there. The farmer said he'll happily sell them to us.”

    Before I could reply, the front door opened and a female voice let out a yell of surprise. I span to face a leavanny who had dropped her shopping bags and was stooping to gather them.

    “Oh, Snippet's back!” N00b practically leapt to his feet with excitement.

    “Oh my!” She straightened and eyed me with a small smile. “Well, aren't you a tall one! You must be one o' Connor's friends?”

    I stammered out 'erms' and 'ums' as I tried to find the right response, but Connor managed to rescue me from the situation.

    “He's a new recruit,” Connor said flatly. “N00b and Diode rescued him from the hospital's mental health ward.”

    “Wait, what?” I span to face the pikachu, but he was absently flicking through the television channels.

    “Rescued from the mental health ward? Connor, really!” The leavanny scurried through with her shopping bags. “I can't believe you sometimes, Connor-boy. What did th'hospital think o' dat one?”

    “Was quite an easy job actually,” said N00b. “They appreciated the extra space it gave them.”

    “I think you'll find Switch here is quite in control of his faculties,” said Connor. “He's about to go out now, anyway. Right?” The pikachu narrowed his eyes at me and I just nodded.

    I kind of wanted to get away for a bit. The pikachu made me a little nervous, and I couldn't put my finger on why.

    I turned to leave but the leavanny grabbed my arm and fixed me with a warm smile.

    “Oh do stay for dinner, dear!” she said. “I'm makin' carrot and lentil soup. It'll give you energy for whatever errand our Connor be sendin' you on.”

    I guessed I wasn't going anywhere soon.

    ...​

    Finding the coil was an easy task. The farmer was more than willing to give it to me, and Connor was more than willing to accept it. His way of paying me for the task was to let me keep the pocket computer he'd given me as a contact device. I stuck around for a couple more days. Quiet days. It wasn't remotely exciting and I was finding myself eager to explore more of this world I had learned was called System. During my flight towards the farming village I'd noticed three islands floating in the sky. N00b told me they were called Drifting Continents and he had no idea what was upon them. They were generally well protected and no one ventured up to them.

    My curiosity got the better of me, and after my fourth day with Connor I left. I told him if he needed me, to call me. He wasn't happy, but since work had been quiet he said he'd contact me if he needed to, and due to our arrangement after my rescue and the Switcher, I had to oblige.

    I made a beeline for one of the drifting continents. The one that had grabbed my interest had water cascading down from it, leaving a beautiful trail as it glided smoothly along in the sky. As I approached it, a form flew at me, cutting me off. It stopped before me, flapping a pair of large wings. I recognised it as a staraptor, but I'd not seen one in person before.

    “What brings you up here?” he asked.

    “I'm sorry, I'm just exploring,” I explained. “I've never seen the drifting continents before and I wondered what was on them.”

    “It's private,” he said. “No one comes up here.”

    I hovered in the air for a moment, my eyes going from the staraptor to the continent and back.

    “Then... how do you get pokemon on the island if it's private?”

    “Most of them are born up here, but we get recruits from below. Anyone who lands on the island is sworn to secrecy never to tell anyone what they find up here. My job is to scout them out.” He narrowed his eyes and made a thoughtful noise. “Never seen the drifting continents. My theory is you aint a pokemon.”

    I thought about this for a moment. Connor's warning that the pokemon hated humans. If this staraptor did, it would surely be clearer than just a pair of narrowed eyes. I decided to take a risk and shook my head. “No. I'm a human. I've been kept indoors for two years until I... adjusted.”

    “So you're not exactly a threat then, are you?” The corner of his beak turned up into a half-smile. “And no one would really miss you if something were to happen to you? You'd keep it quiet.”

    I glanced back over my shoulder, considering leaving my curiosity behind and going back to Connor. But I'd come this far, and the staraptor hadn't exactly refused my entry.

    “Of course I'd keep it quiet,” I said. “If I went back home tomorrow, I'd go back never knowing what's happening up here, everything left to my imagination. We don't have floating islands back in my world. You have to forgive my curiosity, erm... what's your name?”

    “Boost,” he said. “And I get it. You're a curious human. Come aboard, and remember. Silence when you leave!”

    I shot after him, watching as he touched ground. His eyes went up to me, and I hesitated a little. I'd not got used to landing. It was an awkward endeavour, and as I crashed down beside him with my chest in the grass and wings at my sides, the staraptor laughed.

    “I have to admit, if I had any doubts they've been quickly erased.” He clapped a wing on my back. “Get up, kid. I need to introduce you to the boss.”

    “Boss?” I pushed myself up and waddled after him. “Say you don't mind if I take on my human form, do you? This is a bit-” I caught his confused gaze as I tripped over the word “awkward.”

    “You have two forms?” he asked.

    “Yes. I go by the name Switch.” I showed him my watch which he recoiled from and raised an eyebrow.

    “I dunno, kid. Pokemon are sceptical of humans. You're taking a risk as it is.”

    “Who's a human?” The voice came from the doorway to one of the houses. A female voice.

    I looked up to see a jolteon moving towards me, her eyes narrowed on me as she eyed me up and down.

    “You're new,” she said. “What are you doing on here?”

    “I brought him to see you,” said Boost. “Says he's a human. Not seen drifting continents before.”

    “A likely story.”

    “Kid can't land.”

    “An act.” She sat down and fixed her black eyes on mine. “A human wouldn't reveal themselves so freely to a pokemon, especially not with the uproar it's causing. The government is already falling apart trying to control the problem.”

    I was beginning to rethink my strategy. 'Curious human' was proving to be a bigger risk than I'd initially thought, and there would be no easy get-away now. I'd been familiar with pokemon battles back home, and a jolteon's thunderbolt on a talonflame would spell 'bad news' in all caps. I resisted glancing over my shoulder and tried to straighten up to my full, feathery height.

    “It's not an act,” I said. “And I'm no threat. I was just curious. That's all.”

    “If you've been here two years like the rest of the humans,” she said slowly, “what are you doing up here now?”

    “I'll be honest. I was locked in a hospital for two years. I have this problem. My form changes every few seconds, or minutes if I'm fortunate enough. A kind pokemon made this watch for me, so it controls my shape changing. Look.”

    I pushed the button and the jolteon leapt back sparking, her canines bared as I stood as completely human as ever. But it wasn't anger in her eyes. It was fear. She'd never seen a human before, probably not even in pictures. I mumbled an apology and returned to my talonflame form, but her stance didn't change. She shuffled a little further away and finally closed her jaws, hiding those sharp canines.

    “Very well,” she said, her voice wavering a little. “I believe you.”

    “Look, I'm sorry,” I said. “I was just curious. This place... it's a village flying in the sky, only more spectacular.” I looked around at the houses with their beautiful gardens and the small mountain in the distance, all held up in the sky. It was phenomenal that something like this could float. “My curiosity is satisfied. If it helps, I'll leave. And you have my word I'll say nothing.”

    I had to admit, I couldn't understand why these islands were so secretive. Maybe it was something more, but I wasn't keen to find out. I'd seen it. That's what mattered to me.

    I turned my tail and spread my wings to take off, but was cut off by the jolteon's voice.

    “Wait.”

    I looked back at her, wings still spread and poised to leap into the air. Her posture had altered, as she was now sitting down a lot more relaxed.

    “You've come all the way up here, you may as well stick around to see what we do,” she said.

    “But... I thought it was secret.”

    “Yes. From spying eyes.” She smiled. “We pick up the tasks the government can't handle, and right now, that's a lot. Your race is having enough of a hard time with the split their organisations are going through. I hardly think you'd spill our secrets to them and add to your enemies. Do you?”

    She turned and nodded for me to follow her. I gave Boost a sideways glance and hopped after her, leaving the staraptor to his sentry duties. My curiosity was completely re-ignited. What was going on here that was allegedly causing the groups that keep things running to fall apart?

    “My name's Circuit,” she said. “And I run an investigation team up here on Luma Island.”

    “Investigation team? Like... detective work?”

    “You could say that.”

    She stopped by a small building and flashed a key card at the panel. The door hissed open and she led me inside. The building was deceptively larger inside than out since a flight of stairs led down underground. The room was alight with computer monitors – significantly higher tech than the one in Connor's house. A plusle and torchic sat at them tapping away on the keyboards. They briefly acknowledged me then set back to work.

    “We deal with investigations the police can't,” she said. “And those the government aren't bothered with. Right now, our demand is higher than ever, since the hospitals are filled with humans in comas and the police are busy dealing with hate crimes. The smaller tasks they dust under the rug come up to us as requests from those who need help. We were originally a small jobs group helping out pokemon who had tasks that weren't worth police time. Now it's a lot more. You could say we work in peace alongside them. So long as we stay out of government business, the requests come to us unhindered.”

    “But I thought it was secret,” I said. “How do they know who to ask?”

    “They don't. There's a request page they post to on the internet. More often than not, it's the police that point this page out to them. They're happy for the extra help, especially for more minor tasks, and we're happy for the business. We take the requests from there. They don't know who we are, or where we're located. It guarantees the safety of my team.”

    “It's just you?” I asked.

    “No. There's more than one team. We just happen to be one of them. But from what I know, we're all the same. Private floating bases that offer help to those who need it.”

    It made them sound like super heroes with their secret bases. I watched the requests fly by on the screen, some standing out to me more than others. Stolen items, pokemon assaulted in the streets, vandalism. These were things that were dusted under the rug? Requests that the police ignored because of the sudden 'invasion' of humans? I clenched my beak shut as I read over more of them. It sounded like it was our appearance in this world that had caused all these problems. Overwhelmed the government's organizations and caused them to fall apart under the strain, leaving these private investigators to pick up the sudden slack.

    “I want to help,” I said.

    Circuit looked at me and smiled. “Guilt?”

    “You could say that. Although I'm not here by choice.” I ruffled my feathers and looked back at the door. The requests on the screen were too much. “If you'll let me, I'll help.”

    “I'd be glad for your help,” she said. “And I have the perfect task for you to start with. A human has been attacked in Server City. I need you to find the culprit and bring him in.”

    “What?!” My eyes widened with surprise. “I thought you said the police are dealing with hate crimes?”

    “They are,” she said. “But they only take on those the other way around, where the pokemon is the victim.”

    ...​

    The wind was in my favour as I glided along towards Server City. Circuit's directions were etched in my mind – head for the metropolis, Meta City, and land in the western outskirts. The smaller cities outside the metropolis were named Server, Proxy and Spool. Each of them had problems with crime, although it was less so with Server City since it housed Meta Prison which helped intimidate criminals and push them into the other two small cities.

    The arid air stung my nostrils as I descended towards the streets. It was like an invisible smog. Almost toxic, carried up on the wind from the overflowing dumpsters. I took Circuit's advice and remained in my pokemon form, trying my best to blend in. Her words cascaded through my mind, a quick reminder of how best to avoid trouble.

    'There are a handful of humans living in System. Around twenty to thirty recorded, not including the hundreds lying in comas. These ones are up and walking, living amongst us, their forms completely changed to look just like any other pokemon. But their habits are what give them away. Like you with your landing they can't quite handle their pokemon forms. An eevee might look like an eevee until they're angry and can't fluff up the fur along their backs like a normal eevee can, or a meowth might not groom their whiskers. These are sure signs they're actually human and they get singled out because of it. Some get assaulted, and if they retaliate in self defence they get apprehended by police. But if they don't, they're the victims and the police set aside dealing with it until later. And later. And later until it's forgotten about. They've learned to come to us for help, although these cases are few and far between because of their small numbers. Just be careful to act as much like a talonflame as you can. But don't over-think it. Over exaggeration will be a massive giveaway, and you might land yourself in your own spot of trouble.'

    So I didn't land. I hovered above the ground, searching out for the signs Circuit had given me. I spotted nothing out of the ordinary. The pokemon in Server City were all rough-looking – notably skuntank, scraggy, charmeleon, damanitan – talking loudly outside pub doors, some squabbling about something I couldn't keep up with, throwing jeers at females as they passed by nervously (although they certainly looked like they could handle themselves, nervous or not.) I saw no sign of the alleged patrat that had put in the request for help. It had said he'd be waiting in the doorway to a market but it didn't appear to be on this street, and I wasn't going to ask for directions. Even if they didn't peg me for a human, I didn't want to be pegged as an outsider either.

    I turned away from the rowdy pub and scouted out the narrow alleys. Uninviting. Smelly. Filthy. I passed by them in my search for the market. I managed to find it at the corner of the next street and standing outside it trying to look nonchalant was a patrat.

    I landed beside him as best I could, tripping over my clawed feet and almost landing beak-first in the brick wall. He let out a squeal of surprise and took a step or two back until a look of realisation crossed his face.

    “You're the talonflame they said they'd send. Right?”

    He had an accent I could only place as Fuscia City, and from the sound of his voice he wasn't even out of high school. If his parents were here as well, they were likely lying in hospital beds waiting to wake up. Another holdiay-goer caught up in the explosion that changed – and ruined – so many lives.

    “Yes. I am.” I used my wings to smooth out my chest feathers and realised that was a rather human thing to do and stopped myself. They didn't want to bend that way anyway. “A pangoro targeted you. You're meant to point him out to me.”

    “Not hard. There's only two I've seen in Server City and one of them is female. His sister. She leaves humans alone, and from what I've heard gave him a huge talking to. But he's given me trouble ever since and the police won't do anything about it.”

    The sheer thought that if it were the other way around this patrat child would be locked behind bars made my skin crawl. “Well I'm going to do something about it.”

    He reached out and grabbed my right wing, towing me along after him.

    “He hangs around The Bouffalant. Most popular pub here in Server.”

    A pub? He'd have back up. I was hoping this would be easy. If I had to fight I'd have the type advantage.

    It hadn't even occurred to me I had no idea how to use my attacks.

    I suddenly felt very cold as the realisation sank in. I was about to go into a pub, filled with pokemon intoxicated with fermented berries, to single out a pangoro – a massive, powerful pangoro – who would likely be hanging around with someone who could cover his type disadvantage.

    I was wrong on only one front. The pangoro was sat alone at a table in the middle of the room, his face tugged into a snarl as he frowned into his empty glass. The tables surrounding him were empty as the other regulars crowded at the bar or sat in corners talking amongst themselves. The giant panda pokemon was all alone. Unpopular, or just having some time to himself? I wasn't going to ask, but I strode over with all the confidence I could muster.

    As I paused at his table, he looked up from his glass and pushed the twig he was chewing on to the corner of his mouth as he furrowed his brow at me.

    “What do you want, runt?” he growled.

    “I was just wondering what drink you'd recommend?” I said.

    He snorted, one of the leaves blowing free of the twig to land on the greasy table. “Find out yerself. I've got better things to do.”

    He tipped the empty glass as though he wasn't convinced it was empty, tutted and pushed himself to his feet. The crowd at the bar parted as he moved towards it, and those closer to him dropped their voices as they tried to continue their conversations while keeping one eye on the black and white bear.

    I looked around for the patrat but he'd vanished. It was probably for the best. If things went terribly wrong, his presence would only prove he'd picked someone to fight his battles.

    The thought of that child being picked on by a massive bully like that pangoro only made my feathers stand on end. I fluffed them up to make myself look bigger and strutted over to the giant pokemon.

    “Excuse me!” I said, tapping him with a wing feather. “But when someone asks for advice, it's only common courtesy to-”

    I let out a squeak as he grabbed me by my neck and lifted me off my feet, his livid eyes locking onto mine.

    “Listen 'ere!” he spat. “I know you aint no pokemon. You walk funny. Now what business does scum like you have with me? Eh?!”

    I could feel his heavy paw squeezing the bones of my neck. My eyes were bugging out of my head with every strained breath I tried to take in. At that moment I thought I was going to die. My heart was racing and my whole body felt hot with fear. So hot he could feel it. My very feathers were glowing like embers and he let out a yell as he dropped me, slamming his paw into the glass of the infernape next to him, much to the other pokemon's disgust.

    “You have some nerve,” the pangoro growled at me.

    I gasped to catch my breath, keeping my head low but not taking my eyes off the pangoro. As he took a step towards me I flapped my wings at him, intending to leap over his head and make a beeline for the door, but instead the force of my wings in his face sent him falling backwards and stumbling over a barstool, knocking a poor scraggy to the floor.

    “You big fool!” the scraggy squeaked as he climbed back onto it. “Watch where your going!”

    The pangoro stood up and snatched the stool from beneath the scraggy, letting him hit the floor with a yelp and a complaint that he'd bruised his tail-bone. The pangoro wasn't bothered in the slightest. He raised the stool above his head and lunged at me, aiming for my head. I leapt aside as the stool struck the floor and exploded into splinters. The whole pub rose into action as pokemon made for the door or dived over the bar for cover. Only the infernape and scraggy remained, and from the looks on their faces they were on my side.

    He looked around at the other two pokemon and nodded towards me.

    “Human scum,” he said. “Think they rule the place cos the hospitals pander to their every need.”

    The infernape cracked his knuckles but he didn't look at me. He kept his eyes on the pangoro as he raised his flaming fist.

    “It's about time someone stood up to you,” he told the pangoro. “ We've all had enough of you. You think you own this place. The humans are no trouble. They're just trying to survive while experts try to find a way back for them.”

    My beak dropped open. Were Connor and Circuit mistaken? Was it just a minority causing trouble, or was the infernape, along with Snippet, in the minority?

    “You go for the face,” the scraggy told him. “I'll go for his feet. The human there can finish him off with flying attacks.” He pointed at the pangoro who was trying not to look intimidated and failing. “Someone needs to put you in your place. Turns out this talonflame-human here strolled in at the right time to deal with you.”

    Before he could retaliate, the infernape dealt a heavy, flaming blow to his jaw, knocking him backwards into a table. The scraggy moved like lightning, whipping his feet out from under him and sending him crashing down heavily on his back. His head bounced off the table and he grunted, his eyes unfocusing for a moment. It didn't feel right to strike him while he was down. My hesitation cost us as he pushed himself up and leapt to his feet, bringing a chair up with him to strike the infernape on the chin. The monkey pokemon leapt back and kicked the chair from his paws so it exploded off the far wall.

    While he was distracted, I shook myself into shape and leapt at him, striking him on the back with both wings. He turned to face me and grabbed at my leg, but I managed to move away in time, skittering on my clawed talons along the stone floor. Something was burning hot within me. It was alien, frighteningly alien, creeping up into my throat.

    Then I remembered. I was a fire type. That meant I could...

    I span back to face him and opened my beak, spitting out a lone ember that struck him in the chest, singeing his fur. He roared as he pawed at it, trying to stifle the slowly smouldering hair. It was enough of a distraction for the rest of my team. The infernape and scraggy tried their original strategy. Jaw, feet. I didn't hesitate this time. I was on top of him, lashing at him with my wings.

    He gave one last grunt and fell unconscious amongst the rubble of splintered wood.

    ...​

    “Well, you handled that mission just fine,” said Circuit. “Bass has been apprehended and is behind bars in Meta Prison. Thanks to the other two pokemon who fought alongside you, they were able to add to his list of offences which revealed a lot more than just hate crime.”

    My eyes widened briefly as I said, “Wow.” With the reactions of those two pokemon, and the rest of the bar, it hadn't surprised me that he'd have a bad reputation. What surprised me was that nothing had been done about it.

    “I think I can safely say you'll fit in well here,” she said with a smile. “I'll let Boost show you to your new home.” She handed me a card key and gave me a friendly nudge towards the staraptor.

    “Welcome aboard, Switch!” he said. “I think you'll be pleased to know we're neighbours now?”

    He wasn't wrong. The house Circuit had offered me was a tree-house, perched opposite another one which belonged to Boost. The only thing that separated the two trees was a dirt trail leading towards the small mountain.

    I enjoyed my time on Luma Island. I got to see a lot of System on my travels, and met many pokemon. During this time, Boost taught me how to behave more like a flying pokemon, while also helping me perfect my flying attacks. The torchic – Data – helped me with the fire ones. I also learned a few tricks of my own in the process.

    After two years aboard the island, I was having some time out after a particularly busy day, lying in my human form in one of the tree's sturdy branches watching the sunset. My pocket computer, which had served as a helpful way of getting messages from the investigation team's database, bleeped in my pocket. I pulled it out, expecting to find another request Circuit had singled out for me.

    Instead, the name 'Connor' showed as the sender. I opened his message with curiosity. I hadn't heard from him or any of his team since I'd left. I'd began to think they'd forgotten about me.

    'Switch. I need your help. I think we're onto something. I'll be paying you. Come quick.'

    We had an arrangement. I couldn't refuse.

    That ended my time on Luma Island. But not without a promise that one day I'd be back. And with Connor's urgent message that they were onto something – a way back to the human world – I just couldn't promise when.
     
  2. (Before anything: I have not read Glitched, so I'm going in to this being introduced to the characters. This one-shot does do a good job in convincing me to read Glitched though! :) )

    Hi there! This was a really interesting read. I really like the premise behind it, and you did a good job in dealing with your protagonist's strange powers.

    I particularly liked how solid the world is. It goes without saying that the premise of the human and Pokemon world colliding is great, but actually seeing that world come to life is really good. You said in your introduction that this was your first time writing about cities, and I thought you presented the settings very well. They felt very alive, and I think that's important when describing huge urban areas. So I thought you did a good job there!

    If anything, the only thing that struck me as off was how you seemed to jump from one part of the narrative (with Connor and the others) to another (on Luma Island) a bit abruptly, in that the latter felt like a whole other story different from the former, just with the same protagonist. I have a feeling that this is because I haven't read Glitched yet, as browsing through Glitched Connor and the others seem to be the focus there, and your ending here makes it look like a prelude to what happens in Glitched. I think the one-shot is successful in giving a backstory to Switch, and I feel like I would appreciate it more once I've read how he acts in Glitched. But I wanted to bring it up because I think the one-shot can be improved so that it can stand on its own - yes, it's a spin-off to Glitched, but just like how the Mystery Dungeon games can build a world, create characters and stand on its own from the main series games, I think this one-shot can do the same. Taken on its own, I felt like introducing Connor and the others was unnecessary to where this one-shot was going, but of course that isn't the case seeing as they tie in to the main story. I just think their section needs more expansion to justify being included in the one-shot so that people who haven't read Glitched like me can appreciate it as much as the Luma Island section. I hope that makes sense!

    But apart from that quirk, this one-shot is very well-written. Like I said, it does a good job of building the world and making me want to read more about it. Awesome work! :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2016
  3. DeliriousAbsol

    DeliriousAbsol Call me Del

    Thank you for your feedback! =D I really appreciate it, and I'm sorry for the delay in seeing this, too ^_^;

    After reading over that time skip again myself, it does seem rather abrupt. I can't remember if I was working with a word limit at the time, but if I were to re-write it I'd smooth that over. Thanks for pointing it out! I've kind of felt my current back-story prep for my new 'fic is a bit jumpy going back and forth and I have a time-skip coming up there soon as well. Maybe it's something I just need to work on when writing a character's history! XD I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for that now and try to avoid any abruptness!
     
  4. Umbramatic

    Umbramatic The Ghost Lord

    Well, I promised I'd review every answer to the Quarterly 5 Challenge given I wrote the thing, and I'm starting here.

    I can also say I have not read Glitched yet - I was hoping to finish The End at some point first. But one of this story's biggest strengths was that I didn't need to - it stood pretty well on its own for a spinoff fic going into a character's backstory.

    Speaking of which, Switch is a very effective lead here - I couldn't help but feel sorry for the guy through his trials and tribulations, and his fascination and fears at the world he was flung into pretty accurately mirrored my own. You also did a good job with his powers and how he dealt with them, as well as other character's reactions to said powers.

    This is something that can definitely go for Glitched if I get around to reading it as well, but seeing such a high-tech PMD setting is pretty cool, given they lean pretty low-tech. You do a nice job describing it all as well.

    My only big complaint about this story is it kind of jumps back and forth between different sets of characters pretty abruptly, and it's both a bit disorienting and prevents us from getting to know some important and compelling characters! I assume at least some of them get expansion in Gitched, but it'd be nice to have more initial insight on them here too.

    But overall you've got a compelling introduction to both Switch as a character and the world of Glitched, that's a good answer to the challenge to boot.
     
  5. Chibi Pika

    Chibi Pika Stay positive

    Aaaa, I'm so glad I read this! <3 As I'm sure you're already aware, Switch was my favorite character in Glitched, so any excuse to read more about him is all right in my book!

    It's really great getting to see first hand just how much chaos and confusion and panic the Fracture caused. 'Cause in Glitched, we're seeing things twelve years later. Things have settled down (although the emergence of the virus in that time is obviously its own calamity.) But we never got much on an impression of just what things were like when the worlds first collided. And that's what this does a fantastic job of filling the gaps on. We'd heard about the human hate crimes, but now we get to see them. We'd heard about the pain and confusion Switch went through before he was given the ability to stabilize his form, but seeing it is a whole other thing.

    And man, Connor is just as salty here as he was in the main series, and he'd only been there for two years. :p But still, you gotta give the guys props for devoting that much of his team's time and effort into helping someone they'd never even met on the off chance that he'd help them. Sure, it was self-serving, but if you gotta be self-serving, randomly helping strangers is one of the better ways to do it. ;P

    ~Chibi~;249;;448;
     
  6. Cutlerine

    Cutlerine Gone. Not coming back.

    Your world here is as rich and detailed as System:Reboot led me to expect of you; in particular, I like the noise and density of your cities. It's all wonderfully vivid, and I think if you were concerned about writing urban environments you can consider this one a success.

    I do feel like Switch's voice might benefit from a little more distinctiveness, though – sometimes I caught myself wondering why this was in first person, since sometimes it feels like we're not really inhabiting his head all that closely. There are moments, like his initial shock on entering the pokémon world and on turning into a talonflame, where it works really well, and there are others where it doesn't so much – where we seem to get stretches of narration that don't have that much of his personality in them. What might help here is considering how Switch speaks, and trying to work some of that kind of language into the narration itself – the line about not usually waking up feeling like death is an example of a place where you've already done that, and it does a lot to give that bit of narration some character.

    Still: I haven't read Glitched, but this worked very nicely as an introduction to its world and characters. I'll have to delve further into your work sometime!
     
  7. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    I thought this would be an interesting story to check out, since it'd give me a little flavor of Glitched even though I haen't read the whole thing yet. It's neat to compare the world shown here with the one in System:Reboot. It's much less polluted, for one thing! There don't appear to be the lasers or airships featured in the other story yet, either, although that might just be because we don't get to see a ton of the world in this one-shot, and there isn't a great deal of combat.

    I was a little confused about the status of humans in the world. I thought the only ones had been brought through during the explosion that created the fracture, and that aside from Connor, Switch, and the other switching one who went crazy, they all remained in comas. Later in the story, though, it's clear that there are a few others around--where did they come from? Or did I misread and a lot more of them actually came out of the coma? I suppose nobody would know what a "human" was at all if all they'd ever seen. Even so, the widespread fear about humans taking over seems really weird, given that my impression is that there's only a few dozen of them, plus the comatose ones. Assuming there's at least tens of thousands of pokémon in System, then the average 'mon is going to encounter a human so incredibly rarely that I can't imagine that they'd be that good at recognizing them by abnormal behavior or have any serious worries about them disrupting society. (Also, this makes me realize that we don't know if there are any humans lurking in the cast of Reboot...)

    The floating islands are an interesting idea; not like your typical pokémon world. Manmade (pokémade, I suppose) or natural? I'm also wondering if they're the precursor to System Sky from Reboot.

    So there were some worldbuilding kinds of things that I didn't really understand in this one, although they're probably addressed more thoroughly in the main story; you don't have a ton of space to do that in a little one-shot like this one. The one-shot does provide a nice introduction to Switch and gives a taste of System, plus what I take is the central conflict of Glitched (whatever it was that caused all the humans to be brought into the pokémon world). I don't know that it stands terribly well on its own, since it's pretty explicitly a set-up for whatever happens with Connor, but it definitely shows off how different this setting and the story that takes place there are from typical PMD fare. In particular, the relationship between the two worlds seems like an interesting area to explore, and the high-technology setting (albeit not as high as Reboot) looks like a lot of fun.
     
  8. DeliriousAbsol

    DeliriousAbsol Call me Del

    Thanks so much guys for all the feedback =D with the word limit, I think I struggled a bit to fit in a lot of details. This is a one-shot I may re-write again at some point, especially as there's a plot irregularity with the real reasons behind why Switch got his watch.

    Thank you so much =D That's encouraging!

    That's my inexperience with writing in the first person I think lol. It's not my favourite POV but it was fun to give it a go. I tend to write in third person with a somewhat first-person-style perspective, to allow me to get into character's heads. That really doesn't transition well over to full first person. I'll try to build on it more for future efforts, thank you =)

    Oh it really is! =D I can't remember how much I included humans outside of comas in Glitched, but they did definitely exist. If there's a lack of continuity there to make it clear, I think I definitely need to tidy up this one-shot. Thanks for the feedback =D
     
  9. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    Hello! This is your extremely late mod review for doing the Quarterly Challenge! I'll be making some comments as I go and then giving more overall thoughts at the end. I didn't read any of the other reviews before writing this to avoid being influenced by outside opinions, so apologies if I'm repeating other people's concerns.

    I quite like how you describe the weirdness and disorientation of Switch's form-changing near the beginning; it feels very disorienting.

    It seems a little funny to me that Switch doesn't have more of a reaction to having been transported to a world ruled by Pokémon. Surely it must seem pretty weird for him to see a Machop doctor, after living in a world where Pokémon don't serve those kinds of roles all his life? And also, wow, two years in the hospital? That's quite a while to keep someone captive being poked and prodded. I'm surprised the hospital staff haven't just given up on him by that point, if nothing's working. He also seems surprisingly well-adjusted, considering; I think a hospital stay that long would mess anyone up a bit.

    From the fact N00b and Diode bothered to impersonate family members, presumably there are rules saying only family can get someone out of the hospital - but then why does the hospital accept them as family so easily? I'd find it glaringly suspicious if some people came in claiming to be a patient's family and the patient only looked confused and contradicted them - surely it should raise some eyebrows. If they wanted to get rid of him badly enough to hand him off to just anyone, surely they could've just discharged him alone. I'm surprised you didn't make Switch more proactive in this - after two years, doesn't Switch want to get out? Would he not consider actively playing along and going "Yeah, that's my brother, let me go with him"?

    Really? This seems like a major oversight; wouldn't he think about this at some point before he decides to take on a mission to apprehend a criminal?

    I find this story a little disjointed overall; I feel like you were trying to move the story along a bit quicker than would have been ideal, perhaps. After the scene where we meet Connor, learn more about the world and see Switch falling in with them and coming to an agreement to help them, there's a very sudden transition to just saying Switch was there for four days and then left and decided to check out the Drifting Continents, out of idle curiosity. Since it doesn't seem prompted by anything and directly follows a long setup that makes us expect to get to know Connor's group more, it feels pretty abrupt and now-for-something-completely-different-ish. Similarly, Switch getting on the investigation team feels like it happens really fast; it seems like he's recruited to go on a mission for them within literally ten minutes of deciding to check out the Drifting Continents. Boost and Circuit both seem to trust him to an unnatural degree, unnaturally quickly - while they both reason that since he's a human he's unlikely to be a threat, it doesn't really follow that they'd therefore want to go out of their way to invite this complete stranger to their secret headquarters just because he's curious about them. I feel like the story would benefit if you could spend a bit more time on them actually growing to trust him on a reasonable basis - or else, if they're actually meant to have ulterior motives for wanting to bring him on board, perhaps hinting at that more strongly so it doesn't seem as strange.

    As in The End, though, I think you do a fantastic job on the worldbuilding and characters here, and in particular establishing it without someone who hasn't read Glitched getting lost. You give a sense of this fun cyberpunk world that's unlike any of the Mystery Dungeon canons, establishing places, mysteries, culture and intrigue right off the bat (I'm betting the other patient who apparently never recovered at the hospital is going to come up in Glitched). You've definitely made me stoked to check out the main fic when I get the chance. I think my favorite scene here is the one with Connor; he seems like a fascinating character, and you build a lot of interesting intrigue about exactly what he's up to. I'm really curious about why he refuses to go outside, and I'm guessing that's something I'll find out in Glitched.

    All in all, a great introduction to an intriguing world and set of characters, although I feel like it's doing several different things in a bit less space than might be needed to really let the ideas breathe. Can't wait to see what you do with all this in the main fic, though!
     
  10. DeliriousAbsol

    DeliriousAbsol Call me Del

    Thanks! =D I think a lot of oversight was because of limitations in the word count, and I had a lot to cram in. This is a story I'd like to revisit at some point, which may end up being a short chaptered 'fic to fit everything in. It's not one of my most treasured stories if I'm honest. First person is very limiting, and I can get into a character's head just as well in the third person. But it was definitely worth a shot! If I were to re-do it, I'd likely go for third person like I often do.

    So glad the world building is appreciated =D I've really been trying to work on world building, so I'm really happy it's come across so well in this little story.
     
  11. JX Valentine

    JX Valentine Ever-Discordant

    So I admit I’ve yet to read Glitched or System:Reboot all the way through, but I think I’ve read enough of Glitched to tackle this one. And hey, I’ve been meaning to tackle your work in general, so!

    On its surface, I’d hate to echo what everyone else has said so far, but the worldbuilding here is quite nice for a one-shot. It’s true that you don’t have that much space, but you do use what you have to set up a clear image of what’s going on. Now, the fascinating thing about this is I actually read this twice: once before getting into Glitched and once after. I just didn’t comment on it at first because I wanted to see if I was missing anything that would lend to my understanding of this fic, and … nope! And this is a good thing, actually. It means that, objectively speaking, yes, this fic can stand on its own.

    I mean, right away, we get a sense of who Switch is. (Obviously, as this is his story.) You show us a disaster that sets up the premise of Glitched, but here, it serves as the basis of Switch’s background (meaning it’s understandable as it is). you even include everything about pokémon vs. human bigotry, the fact that this was clearly a world where humans weren’t originally a thing, the slightly Blade Runner-style feel (with breakouts out of high-tech hospitals, a lot of focus on not one but two high-tech hideouts, floating islands, the dinginess of Server City, and so on), and all the other little details that are cornerstones of your longer fics, just in bite-sized forms that allow us to pick up what world Switch is finding himself in right off the bat.

    I do have to say, though, that the worldbuilding is probably the most polished part. Not to be a debbie downer, but I don’t know … Switch and a bit of the plot kinda fell a little flat for me.

    For one thing, I definitely agree with Dragonfree here: I was surprised that Switch didn’t seem to react to, you know, the fact that his doctor is a Machop. He’s very clearly from a world where Pokémon have trainers, so to wake up and have the first thing you see be a talking Machop who’s treating you would be rather jarring, I’d imagine. Yet Switch … I wouldn’t say he was more interested in his transformation or anything because he doesn’t really seem to react to that either. He’s just kinda tugged along that conversation from start to finish. (I mean, yes, he reacts in one line to the idea that he’s in a different world, but when you’re facing a talking Machop and your body randomly morphs into a Talonflame, I’d assume that would be the least of your worries.) In other words … probably getting into Switch’s head a little more would help flesh this bit out.

    In fact, a lot of the conversations and scenes in this fic feel like they’re more there to provide additional info about the plot or world, rather than to be natural interactions. Take the “breakout,” for example. This is a problem I had in Glitched as well, but for a hospital whose entire schtick is experimentation on living beings and whose entire reputation is “this is a high-tech, high-security facility,” it seems incredibly easy for outsiders to waltz into and out of them. Believe me—you can’t just show up to a hospital, claim you know a person, and walk them out, even if the doctor thinks they’re well enough to leave. There is most definitely paperwork involved, and if the patient acts like they don’t know you (as Switch does), it’s gonna be hella fishy if you try to get them out.

    Then of course you have the conversation between Connor, N00b, and Switch afterwards, which is where a lot of our info about the world and its society comes in. But … as clever as those ideas are, I kinda have to wonder if telling us through this conversation is the best way to do it. Sure, this is a text-based medium, but there are definitely ways to show the mistrust between humans and pokémon than through conversation. (Switch’s interactions with Circuit and in the Bouffalant were a good place to start, as brief as the former might have been.)

    On that note, though, I have to wonder about why the hospital didn’t tell Switch about the Fracture. Sure, the hospital may or may not be a government institution, and there’s a government conspiracy afoot, but … he never overheard anything about it? They never told him the basics so they can jar his memory for any clues that might help them to figure out what’s up with his body? (The latter is definitely the more important question, actually. Contrary to what dramas may have you believe, the medical field is definitely a two-way conversation. Doctors are only really effective if their patients communicate as much as they can. This is because there may be countless possible tests to figure things out—yes, even taking into consideration the uniqueness of Switch’s situation—so it’s just more efficient to have the patient help them narrow things down, so to speak.)

    And one last thing that kinda bothered me, but … names. I know you’re going for a cyberpunk PMD AU (generally speaking), but it just strikes me as odd that literally everyone has a tech-themed name. In my mind, it’s pretty much on the same level as having every fire-type getting a fire-themed name or every water-type getting a water-themed name. It’s just that it’s on a global scale, which not only feels a little awkward for sci-fi but also brings up rather … awkward moments. (N00b, specifically. Either his parents really hated him, or he thinks pretty lowly of himself because that is essentially tantamount to calling yourself Moron.) I know it’s such a minor point, but it just happens so frequently that I couldn’t help but bring it up.

    But! On the other hand, once you get past all those awkward bits, what you have left is an interesting premise. I mean … kid falls into the PMD world but isn’t turned into a full pokémon. Instead, he gets the strange power to switch back and forth between his human self and a pokémon self, and he uses both to navigate a futuristic world where there’s a clear species divide. And to top it all off, he joins not one but two underground groups, one of which is a detective agency dedicated to solving crimes a corrupt police force won’t touch. Looking at it like that, that’s kinda awesome. I absolutely would love to read a lot more neo-noir fics set in PMD universes. So don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the fic is awful or that I hated it.

    In short, what I’m trying to say is it’s got a lot of good ideas, but it’s mixed in with some bits of awkward delivery, most of which is only awkward because the characters don’t entirely feel natural. Which I know is odd to say, but I mean that from their names to their actions, there’s just something that feels a little less polished than it could be here. But I think that if you spend a bit more time working on your characters and really nailing down their personalities and methods of reaction, your stories will flow a bit better, and you’ll be able to bring out a lot of those interesting concepts.
     
  12. DeliriousAbsol

    DeliriousAbsol Call me Del

    Thanks for the feedback =) Like I've said before, I'm hoping to re-write this as a short chaptered 'fic at some point with more fleshing out, so all feedback is highly valuable if I'm to make it work and iron out the flaws! I really want to improve as a writer, so I do take everything on board.

    Regarding the names, since in the PMD universe pokemon don't have human names (I know in the games they use species names, but I was reluctant to do that) I wanted to use names that fit the world. I spent a lot (and I mean a LOT) of time looking up technological terms for place and character names, and it is something I am very reluctant to change. Generic names in this universe just do not work in my head. This, to me, doesn't seem to be as big an issue in System:Reboot, especially as one character is called Web which is short for Webber. Since I began to run out of pretty simple technological names, I do feel they're a bit wackier in Reboot. Tracer, BackDoor, N0ize, Waveform... To name a few.

    N00b's name origin... I've no idea XD originally he was meant to be a bit clueless, but he ended up being the Tails of the story. Man, I love that lillipup... His name ended up being more of an oxymoron, and N00b is now one of my names for male lillipups during Gen 5 play throughs lol

    As for Switch's total lack of a reaction, I do not know how I missed that. I'll bare this in mind for future stories, just in case it ever happens again. I'll also have to re-think N00b and Diode's break-out plan. Thanks for pointing these out =)
     

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