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Interpretation: A World-Building One-Shot Contest


Just me
6th-7th place TIE: When Pokémon Die by Poetry

Dragonfree: 5th place (90 points)
Negrek: 8th place (60 points)
Phoenixsong: 7th place (70 points)
Psychic: 8th place (60 points)
Total: 280 points

Poetry requested not to have his entry posted.



This entry confused me. I assume the narrator is already dead and merely getting Drifblim to ferry his spirit across to the other side, judging from how he talks about his death like something that's already happened at the end, but then how is he interacting with the apparently-alive Katherine and the Lacunosa gym leader? I suppose it may be that the gym leader merely senses some kind of presence, since he just lashes out generically rather than reacting specifically to what the narrator says, but that doesn't explain Katherine - is she just randomly a medium who can communicate with ghosts? Why is there no indication of this? And Emboar gets tired walking up the stairs, talks about his chest being tight as if he has a physical body, and later throws up, which at least doesn't seem to match up with how ghosts are traditionally depicted.

I'm not entirely sure whether you intended the fact the narrator is an Emboar to be a twist and deliberately led the reader to think he was human before the reveal or not. If you did I don't think I understand what purpose that serves for this story - the new understanding that he's an Emboar doesn't seem to lend much of a new or illuminating perspective to the previous events, aside from Katherine's nickname for him making a bit more sense - but if not, it's really strange how the story is written entirely like he's human up until the end. And either way, his thinking throughout is really conspicuously human-centered - I mean, his opening musings are all about how humans deal with death and what you should tell human kids when they head out and how it's silly that human deaths aren't commemorated the way Pokémon's deaths are. A Pokémon shouldn't think in these terms unless the story is making some kind of a point of this Pokémon being obsessed with humans, which this story doesn't seem to. It's similarly odd for a Pokémon to be following human politics, to the point where if you include that in a story it should be to make a very particular point about the character or world.

I'm also confused by why Emboar, Drifblim and even Katherine herself all seem to think she decided to kill herself because of something Emboar said. Emboar said very little to her - memento mori, sure, but there doesn't seem to be any intrinsic connection between that and Katherine deciding to join her Hydreigon in death, and even if there were, Katherine explicitly disagrees with the concept so that can't have convinced her to do it. They all act like Emboar said something emphasizing that Melissa is gone forever to a better place, but he said absolutely no such thing. It feels like they're all talking about a different conversation than the one we actually saw. Maybe you originally wrote it differently, then changed it but forgot to change the bits that refer back to it? Either way it's very strange.

Overall this seems more like a simple portrayal than an interpretation, in a way - it's interesting to point out and show in a story how the Pokémon world seems to make a much bigger deal of the deaths of Pokémon than of humans and how these people in a world where discussing death is mostly taboo have difficulties dealing with it, but you don't really do much in the way of exploring why the world works this way. Similarly, you have Drifblim apparently acting as a psychopomp, but don't go into who told Emboar to meet Drifblim there or exactly what Emboar's current state of existence is - it's hard to get much of a solid idea of how you're interpreting the Pokémon afterlife. I wouldn't say it's not an interpretation, but it's a pretty vague one.

Your portrayal of Celestial Tower is wildly unrealistic - grotesque paintings of mutilated Pokémon? Blank canvases hanging on the walls? Mourners being free to destroy gravestones and attack visitors? Open graves with rotting bodies just sitting there unattended? - but that actually didn't really bother me as far as the story was concerned. The entire mood of the fic is kind of otherworldly, and the tower being shown as a bizarre, macabre structure around these different manifestations of Pokémon death rather than a realistically managed institution seemed to just fit right in. It does mean your interpretation itself has even less reach than otherwise, though - you're clearly not portraying a sensible interpretation of how these Pokémon graveyard towers are run.

Finally, you have a lot of proofreading fumbles (probably because you were rushing to get your entry in on time), and you frequently punctuate dialogue incorrectly - the punctuation should always come before the closing quote in dialogue. Your tense use is also somewhat strange. Generally, you use past tense for the actual events of the story but present for some of Emboar's general musings. That makes sense in first person if you're essentially imagining that the narrator is telling the story at some specific later point, where the present-tense portions are things that still apply "today", but the past-tense portions relate what happened and what they thought in the earlier timeframe where the story actually happens. But here, only some of Emboar's general musings are in present tense, without the past-tense ones being distinguished as "Once..." or "At the time..." or "Back then..." or anything like that - it's hard to tell why the first two paragraphs of the story are in present tense but the third is in the past, for instance. And Emboar seems to change his mind at the end regarding how people don't think about death enough and so on, which implies these are not things he "still" thinks at the time he tells the story, and thus not things that ought to be in present tense, either way.

The writing itself is pretty good, though, aside from some intermittent clumsiness (most of which is more an issue of polish than anything else). Your first person is overall smooth and readable, you have nicely evocative imagery and some otherwise memorable descriptions in there, and you manage to maintain a consistent somber mood throughout. And I do enjoy the musings on how the Pokémon world regards death and that vague interpretation; you make me want to hear more. I only wish I understood what's up with the narrator's story better, and that there was a bit more meat to the interpretation within the actual story.


Hmm. I'm not sure what to make of this one. For one thing, I don't know what you're actually trying to interpret here. Something to do with how death works or is viewed in the pokémon world? Something to do with Celestial Tower? I mean, the title kind of says it all, and yet at the end of the story, I'm still left wondering, "So, when pokémon die... what, exactly?" I'm guessing you were trying to make that clear in the intro section... something to do with pokémon deaths being different than human deaths? I'm afraid I just really couldn't figure out what you were going for... or how that intro really fit in with the rest of the story, to be honest.

Overall, this reads like you were working too hard to make this seem tragic and affecting. This comes through in the overly fancy, pedantic language you use; you end up with convoluted sentences like this:

Although it commanded a distinctly gothic and imposing nature from the exterior, the ground floor interior felt distinctly warm and enticing.
That's an awful lot of work to say that the building was much warmer and more enticing on the inside than on the outside (and really... and "enticing" mausoleum?). It gets worse when that kind of language works its way into dialogue; there's the emboar saying things like "curry your favor," which doesn't sound at all like how people really talk.

You also go really over the top trying to make the inside of the tower seem creepy/sad, but the overall effect strikes me as more ridiculous than anything. I mean, like, dang, those are some weird interior decoration decisions. Paintings of "pokémon in intense physical pain from wounds or dismembered limbs"? Seems a bit grim for a memorial.

Then there are things like the raving former gym leader the emboar runs across. I don't actually know why you put that encounter in at all; it doesn't seem to serve any purpose. I also don't really buy it. There are presumably caretakers for Celestial Tower; this is even implied at the end when Drifblim tells Emboar that somebody will come and ring the bell for him. I can't imagine them letting violent, grief-stricken people just wander around the Tower, terrorizing the other mourners. I don't know, maybe they all just don't give a crap, like Drifblim. But in that case, doesn't the gym leader have any family or friends or people who might try to stop him, get him to leave the Tower, go to therapy, that kind of thing? I mean, possibly not. But none of this is addressed; it's just taken for granted that it makes sense that this guy might be rampaging around unimpeded in the Tower for long periods of time.

Similarly, the whole "human body in the grave with a pokémon" is implausible on top of being rather overwrought. If scavengers had been at the bones, they wouldn't be all neatly together and posed the way they were. If you had anything like the "dust and dirt of decades" hanging out on them, they certainly wouldn't still have rotted bits clinging to them, and you wouldn't actually be able to make out the little scene anyway because of how deeply it would be buried. And then, again, why has nobody been along to clean this up? If absolutely nothing else, people do actually come here to mourn, and they install new graves as well--has nobody complained about the overwhelming stench up to this point? In general the world you've presented here seems like a carefully-constructed set piece intended to show certain things to the emboar, rather than a genuine world through which the emboar happens to be moving.

It looks like maybe you're trying to get at there being some special kind of bond between humans and pokémon that makes pokémon's deaths especially traumatic. Perhaps the reason the Lacunosa gym leader guy's there--to help illustrate that? I mean, you have Emboar running across Katherine, that gym guy, and the dead person in the grave, all of whom showed pretty extreme ways of dealing with grief. Again, it seems really over the top. Most people are not that devastated by the death of a beloved friend or companion, so either you're trying to get at pokémon deaths being special somehow or you're just laying it on super thick. If it's the former, I think you could do a better job of driving home your point; you do mention the bonds between human and pokémon once or twice, but it seems throwaway rather than central. And then wouldn't it have made more sense to show some indication of the main character's relationship to his trainer?

There are a couple of smaller things I had problems with, too. First, how did Katherine end up at the window of the upper floor before them? There's only one staircase, so she'd have to have passed them at some point, and you'd think the narrator would have noticed...

Then there was this bit:

Not only was this girl going to end her life and abandon her entire future just to be with her Pokémon, but she was going to do it on account of what I had said.
Wait, what? On account of what that he said? Did you have him saying something else in an earlier version, then remove it and forget to change this reference here? I'm really not getting how Katherine's behavior here is supposed to be linked to their earlier meeting. Later on she claimed she knew what memento mori meant, yes, but this quote comes before she does so.

My final major complaint is that you really don't do a good job of representing that your narrator is a pokémon. I literally never would have guessed that he was if not for the "letting my trainer and fellow pokémon down" line. His perspective on life and the way he interacts with the world is entirely human, and then you have all the weirdness with Katherine referring to him as a "man" rather than a pokémon, and also him being taken aback that she'd come up with a nickname for him that involved his being "fiery." I mean, he's literally on fire.

I also find it difficult to believe that in sixty years he's never had anybody suggest that he might be missing out on something in life by thinking about death all the time. His little revelation also didn't have any actual bearing on the decisions he made in the end, so it left me a little cold. Not only did I not believe that he could have escaped having that idea thrust upon him for so long, he also didn't seem to react to it very much. In general, I didn't sympathize with the emboar much. He's obviously a major Debbie Downer, but other than that his reactions are pretty generic; he's awkwardly worried about Katherine, then horrified when she tries to kill herself; he's frightened of the Lacunosa gym guy; and he's mildly curious about what's up with the Tower. Nothing really special. What best defines a character is how they react to the things life throws their way, and when the emboar reacts it's exactly as you would expect anybody to react, not a particular unique individual, and he gets over everything rather quickly.

All that said, though, this story isn't without merit. Your basic setup is good; you've got the bitter old main character climbing to the top of a creepy mausoleum to be carried off into death (rather literally, even). The scenes you introduce are nice and creepy at their core, too: the weepy little girl who's driven to commit suicide, the violent, raving mourner, and so on; I think you have a good sense of what creates a real atmospheric story, but maybe have a bit of trouble executing on it at the moment. On the whole, I think you have good ideas here, but you worked a bit too hard to make your story super-dramatic and literary, and in the process kind of turned it into a mess.


An interesting entry, this one—the franchise's primary demographic is so young that we never see much about death in canon unless it's trying to be cute/"scary". It's pretty common for older fans to want to inject MORE DEATH into their fanfics in an effort to appeal to their own age group, but it's rare that I see a take on "death in Pokémon" that's more about mortality and our perception thereof than "look my OC's pidgeot died in a fight, that's so edgy", and I'm glad to see that.

I'm not so excited about the heavily passive writing style, though. This is hardly an action-packed thriller, granted, so it doesn't need a snappy pace, but using so many words and filler phrases to get your point across slows things down unnecessarily. Take the first sentence of a paragraph on page 2:

Walking across the threshold of the Celestial Tower, I could say that my initial reaction to the place was surprise.
"Could say"? Was he surprised or wasn't he? It's his emotion, so he should be pretty clear on it. "At first I was surprised when I crossed the threshold of Celestial Tower." says the same thing but is less wishy-washy. The page 7 paragraph beginning "STAY BACK!" is another spot that would be helped by a more active tone. Even if the rest of the story is sedate and thoughtful, a man swinging a pipe at the protag's head is quick, dangerous, frightening. We'd get plenty of immediacy if the last sentence read "I turned and ran for the stairs" instead of stopping to tell us that he felt a sense of immediacy before anything actually happens.

I do like the end of the last paragraph in that scene, in which the protagonist calls Celestial Tower the place people go to run from their problems. In the next scene, however, things start to come apart a bit. Refuge for those running from their problems or no, shouldn't someone on staff at least attempt to remove that man from the premises before he hurts himself, hurts someone else or disrespects someone else's dead pokémon? I know your point is that he'll never be the same again, but you make it sound like it's normal for grieving people to come up here and waste away. If that's true, why isn't anyone trying to stop it? It sure wouldn't fly in a real cemetery.

Likewise, why has that body "been there for a while now"? Forget about ignoring a living mourner—the administrative and groundskeeping staff should not permit unembalmed, rotting carcasses to sit out in the open like that. It smells awful, obviously, and it's a serious health hazard for anyone who wants to visit a plot on this floor. Dramatic imagery is great and all, but don't ignore the logic of your setting just to facilitate it.

As I read I noticed a lot of typos and other small mistakes that could've been caught with more careful proofreading. The first page alone has several bizarre mid-sentence tense changes and strange/unfinished phrases ("...childhood innocence was used...in the end all ha came to terms with."; "If you looked into...you will have found..."). On page 3 "barely registered" is repeated twice, and you also have "getting my break back" and "at least five or ten minutes, at most". In general I think you did a good job evoking some powerful images, for example the aforementioned grieving humans (barring the fact that they shouldn't be left there) and the first paragraph's balloon being cut free and lost in the skies, but I wonder if you might be trying too hard to force more of that powerful imagery and ending up with sentences so awkward or complex that you're missing the basic typos they contain.

The protagonist has a nasty habit of trying to process everything he's just learned in one sitting, leading to some hefty infodumps. Yes, this is a short story that is trying to tackle a very heavy subject, and I kind of like his cynicism, but a reader can only take so much of his constant rumination. Some of his thoughts were just rehashes of things he'd mentioned before and can be cut, and some others can be distributed a little more evenly throughout the narrative instead of being loaded into three or four big chunks of "here is why (people are/I am) wrong about death".

Unfortunately, even after all of that I didn't feel like you'd interpreted anything about the Pokémon world. Some of the fic's characters were pokémon, it was set in Unova and the Celestial Tower, you tossed in some nice in-world tidbits (e.g., the pokémon center scandal) and you titled your piece "When Pokémon Die"... but it could have been called "When Anyone Dies" and it wouldn't have changed anything. None of the grieving humans did anything specific to the loss of a pokémon; nothing showed that the bond between pokémon and trainer is stronger or in any way different from a bond between close human friends. This story works as an examination of grief, but it's a very general examination that just happens to be wrapped in Pokémon paper. The protagonist is revealed to be an emboar in the end, but he thought about things from a very human perspective. If he had instead looked at things as a pokémon probably would—however you want to interpret that—you might have been able to explore this topic in a manner that really fit the setting you're working with.


I was definitely not expecting a fic focused around death and how death is treated in the Pokémon world. I like that you tried to analyze it through a character who was detached and had big ideas, but was still shown to be flawed and wrong. Getting to see humans dealing with death and grief of friends is not something we get to see often, so I was interested in seeing how you handled it.

That said, I’m not really sure what this fic was going for. It talks a lot about death and the protagonist’s opinions on life and death, but I didn’t find it really explored the concept all that deeply. We see a couple instances of humans reacting to the deaths of their Pokémon friends, but those reactions are so exaggerated and have so little basis in reality that it was hard to take them seriously at times. The whole storyline with Katherine felt overdramatic, including Emboar’s reaction to her suicide. I think you had a really interesting idea with exploring the grieving process, but the way the characters deal with grief unfortunately didn’t feel all that realistic. For instance, if you don’t want to believe someone is truly dead, why have a gravestone erected for them only to smash it later? Denial is a stage of grief, but this was a weird direction to take it in. You could have researched how people deal with the deaths of pets, as a real-world equivalent, and used that as a basis for people dealing with Pokémon deaths. Research on types and stages of grief would have gone a long way overall, as a lot of the displays of grief described within the narrative don’t seem to make a whole lot of sense. In addition, some research on stages of decomposition would have been good, as a decades-old corpse would likely not have the qualities you described (though I guess it partly depends on if you have maggots or an equivalent in your Pokéverse).

I was also confused by the fact that human deaths are treated as inconsequential in your fic – you seem to use the fact that there are no human graveyards in the games to mean that nobody cares when humans die, which is ridiculous (especially considering how Pokémon deaths are treated in comparison, it would be a weird double-standard). I think it would have been best to simply not talk about the deaths of humans in that case.

What also confused me was this idea that kids should be taught about death from a young age, and that not teaching them about death is terrible. That said, there’s no reason given for why children, who likely won’t have to deal with death at a young age, need a specific curriculum to educate them on the subject. If you really thought this was important to teach, one solution would be to simply tie it in with battling, teaching kids not to push their Pokémon too hard to battle until their partners are severely injured and on the verge of death, which would be pretty logical. I’m also confused by the idea of having to frighten people into taking care of the Pokémon they supposedly love so much, or it being “propaganda” for trainers to be taught to heal their Pokémon so they don’t die. That seems more like common sense to me.

The protagonist was also a strange character. For one thing, it’s unclear that he’s not a human, considering that he perfectly communicates with humans and is even called a “man” by one. Some physical description could have been helpful hints, even if small, like using the term “paws” instead of “hands.” If there were a reason as to why you wanted to hide that he was a Pokémon until the very end it might have worked, but there doesn’t seem to be one. It also would have been nice to know his motivation for wanting to eventually die. Instead, he does a lot of pondering about death in the narration, but instead of feeling meaningful or deep it just feels overly long and soapbox-y without accomplishing much. I found that the story was a little too internally-focused in this way. There’s also some weird hypocrisy going on regarding how he views death. For instance, the protagonist is comforted by seeing the skeletons of a Pokémon and trainer in a grave and hardly reacts, yet is upset when Katherine is about to jump to her own death, with no explanation as to why. It’s very inconsistent. On that note, how the heck did she manage to get ahead of him and Drifblim without them noticing?

That said, there were certainly endearing parts, like Emboar trying and failing to comfort a little girl. You create some interesting vignettes throughout the story as Emboar encounters these different scenes of people dealing with death, and neat scenes, like of Drifblim extending a tendril to Emboar on the roof and then flying away like a balloon. Drifblim also seemed like an interesting mysterious character, though there were points during their conversations where the mystery kind of went away, and he was conveniently gone when needed most in order to make “preparations” that never actually materialize in any observable way. Be wary of turning your characters into mere plot devices!

Be sure to also show every so often – I wanted to hear more about the expression on the deranged man’s face and the sight of the sunset. Don’t be afraid to linger on certain poignant images.

Spelling and grammar was mostly fine. You main recurring mistake is that you tend to put punctuation outside of quotation marks during dialogue, when they should always be inside. There are also a number of small typos, such as:
It was a world where childhood innocence was used by the state as an ideology to gleefully cover up the harsh reality of truth which we, in the end all ha came to terms with.
I’m not sure what the “ha” is supposed to be.
Some depicted cheerful scenes of Pokémon playing with an embracing humans,
Number disagreement due to “an” and “humans.”

Perhaps music as her way of saying things
Should be “was.”

It felt wildly out of character for me to feel empathetic, even more so to a child.
I would go with “empathic towards” instead of “empathetic to.”

Overall, I think this fic attempts to sound deep and meaningful, but it just doesn’t work all that well. The drama felt over-the-top, and there were too many inconsistencies and holes in all the wrong places. You had some interesting ideas and imagery, and I’d recommend focusing on those instead of getting caught up in trying to sound profound.


Just me
5th place: Rally Interpretation by The Teller

Dragonfree: 7th place (70 points)
Negrek: 4th place (100 points)
Phoenixsong: 5th place (90 points)
Psychic: 4th place (100 points)
Total: 360 points

Rally Interpretation by The Teller

(Team Rocket)

You look up from the note you've written hastily earlier. This seems to be the place, though you're not absolutely sure. For one, it's a warehouse. Two, it is one o'clock in the morning and you're pretty sure you don't have proper security access to be here at this time. Then again, you don't have anything in storage here, so you'd have no business being here during store hours to begin with. Not that you really care. If the bounty is good enough, you'll break into anything. Three, due to the destined meeting time and low lighting, you're not quite sure if this is the correct warehouse to meet at.

You look at the note again. Frankie never makes mistakes. If he said that the meeting would take place in this building at this time, then that will be the case. You look around. No one else within the vicinity. You walk up to the door and crank the handle, being careful not to actually open the door in case it's locked and an alarm will sound off. To your surprise, the door is indeed unlocked. You look around once more and, upon seeing no witnesses, open the door and enter the warehouse.

Slipping in without noise, you quickly close the door behind you as silently as possible. It's even darker inside than it was outside. You remain motionless until your eyes have adjusted to the darkness. Once that has happened, you notice someone in the distance heading towards the back of the warehouse. He doesn't seem to have noticed you. You decide to follow him.

Doing so finds you in the back of a crowd of people, all of them looking shiftily at their surroundings. No one here, including yourself, seemed to want anyone else to know that they were here. Only a few brave souls chanced making communications with one another. It was also still dark, with no light being illuminated.

Suddenly, the back row of ceiling lights turned on. Their sudden appearance blinds you momentarily. When you're able to see again, you notice that a makeshift stage has been set up on one of the walls. The most noticeable thing is the huge, red 'R' affixed to the wall above the stage. Men and women in identical, black uniforms bearing the same stylized logo walk onto the stage. They all show no signs of emotion, all professionalism. The crowd around you murmur to themselves about these uniformed people. Then, a man in a black suit and a black fedora steps onto the stage. He has the logo patched onto the left side of his suit. He takes off his hat and everyone quiets immediately.

"Welcome, my comrades," he says, gesturing to all of you.

You instantly get the impression that he is speaking directly to you. Will he be able to provide you with what you need, you wonder?

"I am Giovanni, leader of Team Rocket. I suspect that no one here needs to be informed as to what our goals are and how we wish to succeed them. I also suspect that I have no reason to guess as to why you are all here tonight. After all, breaking into a warehouse still in use during the cover of night is not exactly what Officer Jenny would call 'a friendly stroll in the park.'"

Some of the crowd chuckles. You think it takes more than friendly warmth to take leadership.

"No, what you all want is power. The ability to do whatever you want! No consequences! No one to boss you around and tell you what to do! To show the world what you are truly capable of!"

"Yeah!" shout some of the crowd.

"You've been wronged before. Told you can't just take what's there and rightfully yours. Told you couldn't reach your true potential through any means. That you had to follow the same path that everyone else takes. And look where that path took them! Menial office jobs, the same daily grind, wasting their life to barely scrape by in life. THEY do not see what YOU see! THEY continue to meekly shuffle in the dirt instead of rising up and grab for the power that is within their reach! And do you know why they won't let you do what they cannot?"

He pauses for dramatic effect.

"Because those with the power don't want you to have any as well!"

"Yeah! That's right!" shouts more of the crowd.

"THEY don't want competition!"


"THEY don't want you to best them!"


"THEY don't want to be removed from the top of the food chain, where YOU belong!"


"I can give you this opportunity! If you join Team Rocket, I can give you power! The trainers of this world believe Pokémon to be living, breathing creatures with their own hopes and dreams, beings that deserve our friendship and cooperation. They are wrong! If creatures of such unimaginable power were truly thinking creatures, they would be in charge, not us. They are nothing more than tools for us to use as we please! It is actually good for us that trainers think of Pokémon as friends, as that means they don't train them to be powerful weapons to be used against us. Their Pokémon will be weak, and no one will be able to oppose us, oppose you! Pokémon are not friends. They ARE power! And it is with this power that we will take control of the world, and gain ultimate power! All you ever desired will be yours! No one will ever tell you 'no' ever again!"

The crowd roars with excitement. You think back to your last Pokémon battle. You only had a Grimer, and your enemy had a Kadabra. You were soundly beaten. Looking back, you realize that what Giovanni is saying is true. Both your Grimer and the Kadabra could easily defeat you if they so wished. But they didn't. Your Grimer obeyed your every command. It was yours to use. And that Kadabra. Who was to stop you from simply swiping it from that trainer and using it for yourself? All that power...

The museum. That was your last heist. You only had your Grimer as a weapon. Not exactly something that leaves no traces behind at a crime scene. You had to put so much effort into the whole process. Just to get ahead. Just to make sure that the grimy little shack you call a home would continue to stay in your possession just a little while longer. Why should you have to continue living like that when you have the ability to become something so much more? You could BE someone. Someone people feared. Someone that can take whatever he wanted, whatever he deserved. So what if some people get hurt along the way? What do you care? They'll survive. You did.

Will this man, Giovanni, be able to help you? Can he deliver you from your life of basic survival? Can he give you power? Can he make do on his promises?

"So what will it be, comrades? Who will join Team Rocket?!" Giovanni shouts.

"GO TEAM ROCKET! GO TEAM ROCKET! GO TEAM ROCKET!" the entire crowd chants.

You look the man in the eye and he to you. You see it. This is a man without fear. This is a man with experience. With power. This is a man with plans. Big plans. And he will stop at nothing to see to it that they succeed. He can do everything that he says he will. He can help you. He can give you all the power you desire. He can make you somebody. No more low-level thefts. No more scrounging around for a living. You shout.




This is a cool idea. Exploring what kinds of people, by what kind of reasoning, would choose to join the evil teams is pretty fascinating, and this was one of the entries I looked most forward to reading after receiving it and seeing what it was about.

Once I did read it, I thought the vignettes varied in how well they accomplished this, though. My favorite is the Team Galactic one; the narrator's portrayal, while not always entirely convincing (how does someone so hyperlogical jump to telepathy of all things as the only explanation of somebody making an educated guess at what they're thinking?), is alien but understandably troubled and their POV is pretty absorbing. The safety they find in the idea of creating a world where all these things they don't understand simply don't exist is an interesting reason to join Cyrus, and makes a lot of sense - his ideas were so bizarre it's difficult to imagine what kind of person would genuinely agree with him, but here you establish pretty believably somebody who would. It is probably a factor that your style here is generally rather bare and has little emotion, which suits the narrator of the Team Galactic vignette well but tends to feel a bit flat for the others. I also like the Team Aqua one a lot, probably because the narrator has a personal connection to the sea and a detachment from people that makes it believable for them to be attracted to Archie's rhetoric (and what I'm reading as a crush on Archie, who does come across as charismatic and likeable, doesn't hurt).

The Team Rocket one, meanwhile, started pretty well - Giovanni's speech about power and how "they" just want to keep you down is probably convincing to the kinds of people who would attend a Rocket rally - but then when he started talking plainly about how Pokémon are just tools for humans to use, I could only roll my eyes. That's basically the Pokémon-world equivalent of evil mustache-twirling - if you're trying to recruit people by appealing to their sense of justice, the way Giovanni was clearly doing with the power speech, this kind of thing is just going to lose you the rapport you've built with the audience. Think of how oil companies probably don't go around telling their prospective employees, "And then there may be oil rig accidents where the ocean is polluted and millions of birds die, but who cares about birds anwyay, right?" That aspect of Team Rocket philosophy would be more likely to get gradually introduced to the recruits when they're already invested in the organization, especially since ensuring every single Rocket member thinks Pokémon are just tools doesn't exactly seem like a goal that needs to be high on Team Rocket's priority list. If Giovanni wanted to continue to make this all sound enticing and convincing, he should just say that Team Rocket train their Pokémon to be more powerful than those of any regular trainer, making them unstoppable - then, if any recruits start complaining the Pokémon aren't treated well enough, they can refer back to that promise, say that this is what it takes to make Pokémon as powerful as they can be, and that if the Pokémon didn't want this they'd surely rise up against it, right?

The Team Magma one never gets to even start to be convincing; the idea that the size of the planet's landmass, of all things, is the bottleneck in the overpopulation problem and the issue of homelessness is plainly absurd. And you don't make much of an attempt to make it seem less so, instead focusing on why shrinking the oceans wouldn't be as bad as it sounds (you do a reasonable job of that, but that doesn't do you a lot of good without establishing what it would actually accomplish). Of course, Team Magma's ideas are canonically that absurd, but when you start writing specifically about people being convinced of these ideas, you need to be prepared to try to make some kind of sense of them. Team Aqua's ideals aren't much less absurd, but in that vignette you managed to give the character some personal motivations that made it understandable, and you had genuinely reasonable points like how it's perfectly possible for people to live on the ocean in places like Pacifidlog. There is none of that here - the narrator just bizarrely buys every ridiculous word that comes out of Maxie's mouth. There are definitely angles from which you could have made some sense of Team Magma - railing against the dangers of the ocean, for instance, or talking about how much easier transportation would be with land bridges between the regions. Ultimately this one just felt kind of uninspired, like you didn't really expend a lot of effort on it compared to the others.

I have to say I found the Team Plasma one the most disappointing, though. Unlike the other teams, their canonical goal and rhetoric actually do make some sense, so one would expect they would be the easiest to make believable. However, I feel you just don't really build the argument up in a coherent way here. First Ghetsis claims that Pokéballs and badges are a form of mind-control, which, if it were true, should in itself immediately make the entire enterprise of Pokémon training completely immoral - but instead of either realizing this or denying that it's true, the narrator just starts thinking about an abused Lillipup, which has nothing whatsoever to do with what Ghetsis just said and, while sad, should be basically irrelevant if all trained Pokémon are really being mind-controlled. Then the narrator reasons that if they were a Pokémon being forced to battle against their will, they wouldn't like it, without any apparent conception that the premise of whether they're actually being forced to battle against their will is the important question, not whether they'd dislike it (the conclusion that people don't like being forced to do things against their will is kind of tautological). If Pokémon being forcibly mind-controlled into battling is just a well-established fact, why isn't Ghetsis's argument more clearly focused around explaining to the masses why this is obviously abhorrent and nobody should be able to train Pokémon with a clean conscience? If not, why is the narrator not denying it, or at least wondering about whether it's really true, instead of just accepting it like it's the least interesting part of what Ghetsis is saying?

Also, Ghetsis says explicitly in his initial speech that Pokémon are superior to humans, but then later he says they aren't - not that that's really relevant either way, because even if Pokémon were "inferior" it wouldn't make it okay to enslave them, but the obvious inconsistency again makes it less convincing that he'd manage to persuade anyone.

If the protagonist has seen enough Pokémon abuse for a lifetime and already believes training should be abolished because the suffering it causes far outweighs the benefits, with Team Plasma merely giving them the courage, conviction and platform to actually fight for the cause, that's one thing. If the protagonist finds out (or is led to believe) that Pokémon are being enslaved against their will and is horrified into realizing Pokémon training is wrong, that's another thing. If the protagonist has always been vaguely uncomfortable with Pokémon training but unable to articulate why, and Ghetsis essentially just gives a voice and reasoning to what they've already started to believe deep down, that's yet another. Any of those would be believable ways for someone to join Team Plasma. But somehow it's never occurred to this protagonist that training might be bad because of the abuse they've seen or that Pokéballs mean Pokémon don't get to go home and watch movies, and they appear completely unsurprised by the idea that Pokémon are enslaved against their will, and yet when Ghetsis starts talking about these things suddenly they're passionately convinced. Their train of thought doesn't really hang together, and their decision to join is unconvincing as a result.

Aside from that unevenness, you mix up your tenses quite a bit, your descriptions are sometimes kind of listy and focused on trivial details like exactly what clothes people are wearing rather than relevant or interesting information, and there are some other oddities in the writing like sentences that don't seem to logically follow from one another or just generally don't make a lot of sense. This could do with more polish and emotion in the prose most of the time, and I feel you could have generally put more effort into making the leaders' arguments convincing. But I quite enjoyed the Galactic and Aqua vignettes, and overall you've done a pretty decent job exploring the teams.


So here you're looking at how people come to join pokémon's various "evil teams," with a side of expanding on how those teams present themselves to potential recruits. Taking on all (at the time) of them in a single story is pretty ambitious--any single one of them would have provided you with enough material for a complete one-shot, I think. But it's certainly an interesting topic to explore, and I think you did a pretty good job of it.

However, while you do a nice job of giving some reasons that a person might to join one of pokémon's "evil teams," I think you take things a little too far. Your characters seem too over-the-top to me, more like caricatures than real people. Like, I don't think you'd necessarily have to be that into the ocean to be persuaded by some of Archie's arguments, or at least his charisma, and you only have to look at some examples of real-world cults to see that you don't need to be as robotic as Cyrus himself to join up with a pseudo-cult like Team Galactic. I think if you'd made the potential team members a little less out there, it would have been a more effective story--you'd get the sense of how even ordinary people might be convinced to work for these sorts of organizations.

In general I just have to take someone listening to one speech about pokémon liberation and immediately telling Ghetsis "everything you said was like a shining beacon in the darkness" as being a bit over the top. Who honestly says things like that? That ties into a general problem I think these short stories had--the POV character generally took almost no convincing to join up with Team Whatever, no matter how out there their goals were. This makes sense; you didn't have a lot of space, so you pretty much had to have them make up their minds immediately.

In the end, then, I think it might have been a better idea to choose one team and expand that narrative, rather than try to present all of the different teams in a single piece. As it is, there isn't any real connection between the different sub-stories, no overarching plot you're presenting or particular point you're trying to make. I don't think you would lose anything to show only one of the teams, and that would give you more space to really develop the situation and characters a bit more. As it is, these stories are quite formulaic; you have some reason for the main character to hear one of the team leader's spiel, there's maybe a couple of "but what about X" questions asked in order to let you address some of the craziest parts of the leader's ideology, and then the POV character is all about joining up. You even repeat the "somebody spoke up and asked this question--I'm not sure, maybe it was me?" thing in several of the stories, and that's something I wasn't sure what was up with it the first time around.

So, if you'd gone more in-depth with one of the teams, you'd have been able to present a more believable progression from "heard about this group that seems kind of cool, but I'm not so sure about it" to "totally on board with Team Whatever, joining up now." You'd also have more opportunity to make your characters feel more human by actually showing us a bit of their lives rather than just telling us about it. Like, how much more might we empathize with Rocket-guy if we got to see how much his life sucks rather than just have him mention it? It sounds like you have the basis of a really great scene with Aqua-guy, where he's just super-frustrated with his friend and humanity in general, but is able to calm down and enjoy himself once he gets out in the ocean--how much nicer would it have been to be able to actually let us see that, rather than just mentioning it? Looking at just one of the stories you have here would give you the opportunity to expand it into something a bit more nuanced, in particular with regards to the characters; right now they're closer to vehicles for getting the team leaders to expound on their ideologies for a bit than real people.

On the other hand, you did a nice job of laying out how the various team leaders might rationalize their actions and attempt to convert people to their cause. You even managed to make teams Magma and Aqua not sound completely batshit, and let's face it, their doctrine isn't about to stand up in the face of a stiff breeze. And while it's true that right now most of the things we know about the POV characters are informed attributes--things we're told about their lives or personality that we aren't able to actually observe from the events in the story--you did a nice job of making them distinct people and keeping their reasons for joining the teams from overlapping. Likewise, you managed to get some personality on the team leaders in a limited amount of space as well, and again avoided making them too same-y. While I did find their characters a bit exaggerated for my taste, over the top is still way better than bland and forgettable!

For the most part the writing itself is very solid. You did have some problems staying in the present tense. You have a pretty expository style; most information is stated outright rather than implied. That works well enough for this kind of piece; the writing pretty much just stays out of the way of the story.

Overall this was a nice little set of stories, and I think any of them could stand well on their own with a little more attention. You did a nice job of the "interpretation" aspect as well. Although you didn't have much going on in the way of plot, I think this was a pretty solid entry--though I would have liked to see some attempt to connect the individual sub-stories beyond simply their subject matter.


I got hung up on something as I read this fic: were you trying to explore "why do people join Team X" or "what did Boss Y do to convince people to join Team X"? It seems like a subtle difference, and at first I wondered why it bothered me so much, but I think I've figured it out: the latter question concerns persuasion, and it feels like that's what this fic wants to be about but doesn't quite manage.

Here's the thing: people join groups because they agree with the goals and ideologies of those groups. If you love the sea and believe that people are ruining it then of course Team Aqua is going to look attractive to you—all Archie has to do is tell you that joining Team Aqua is an option. All the bosses in this story are doing is preaching to the choir, which isn't as interesting to examine as maybe you were hoping it was. If you want to paint these men as charismatic speakers who can twist people to their will then we need to see twisting. Don't show us someone who's just waiting for an excuse to join up; show us people who are on the fence or who outright disagree. Put these guys through their paces and persuade someone. The second-person viewpoint would have even more impact if it felt like your arguments were really swinging "me" over to a side I hadn't considered before.

(All of this is not to say that charismatic leader-types don't seek out people who already agree with them, because of course they do. It's just not much to interpret, you know?)

You can get away with some of this preaching in the Rocket and Galactic sections because their goals are not as overtly well-intentioned as the other three—the common man probably won't agree that the world needs to be remade if it is to be understood, and Giovanni is hardly going to walk up to a crowd of law-abiding citizens and say "Hey, you know what's awesome? Stealing!". Even then, however, you'll want to shift the emphasis to why Giovanni/Cyrus's way specifically is the right way to do things. The Galactic section comes the closest to managing this as-is, especially given that even the hyper-analytical protagonist would be hard-pressed to come up with "completely redo the universe" as a viable solution. The Rocket recruit, on the other hand, needs to be told why he should join TR to achieve delicious power and strong pokémon. Why not Team Flare? Why not Team Snagem? According to the beginning I already have underworld contacts, so why don't I just stick with those instead of working for some stranger?

On the brighter side, you did a fantastic job characterizing Archie in particular: he was big, bombastic, instantly likeable and clearly passionate about his cause. I loved the line about "wondering whether he has an indoor voice"—it sums up how enthusiastic he is in just the one amusing sentence. I only wish you'd given as much attention to making Giovanni, Maxie and even Ghetsis stand out. I also appreciated some of the smaller references, such as the mention of Pacifidlog Town. Makes me wonder why Aqua never brought that up in canon.

The Galactic section was also interesting thanks to its unusual protagonist. You captured the mindset of someone who is, or at least who believes they are, completely logical, and I liked the way "I" estimated the extent of my knowledge. When Cyrus did the same thing later it even felt like I was supposed to second-guess myself because he said he knew even less than I do. Cyrus is really talking to me and my viewpoint rather than rallying a group of people who are all but grunts already (although now I do wonder what Cyrus would've done to get the guy who says "pwned" to sign on). I feel like it spent too much time harping on about how illogical humans are and not enough on why Cyrus's ridiculous plan might actually work, though.

Be careful not to draw attention to things in ways you don't mean to. Noticing Ghetsis's "sharp canines" is both unusual and irrelevant unless he turns out to be a vampire, for example—there are better ways to hint at potential creepiness—and I'm not following why you brought up the microphone at all. It's generally bad form to have the POV character talk about things they don't notice, because, well, they didn't notice them. It breaks the reader out of the moment and sometimes out of the character's head. If there really is a reason to bring it up, say something like "You can hear his every word even though you're at the back of the crowd and can't see any sound equipment. You wonder where he's hiding the microphone."

Your writing is structurally sound most of the time, but you do have some technical problems here and there. There are some typos and tense slips, and you have several instances of kludgy, passive or redundant word choice, most noticeably in the Rocket section. For example:

Only a few brave souls chanced making communications with one another.
No one thinks about people talking as "making communications". Even changing it to "making conversation" would improve it, but completely rewriting it as "Only a few are bold enough to make small talk" or similar would feel more natural. (You also slipped into past tense in this sentence.)

It was also still dark, with no light being illuminated.
Here it sounds like the light itself is being illuminated, which is impossible. You could change it to "...no light illuminating", but your best bet is to drop the second clause entirely and just use "It was still dark". If it's still dark then there's no light, no further clarification needed.

Just to make sure that the grimy little shack you call a home would continue to stay in your possession just a little while longer.
You can cut nearly 50% of that sentence without even rewording most of it and make the same point. Also, can I say that "I" am a fantastically ballsy thief if I'm straight-up burglarizing a museum just to make rent on a grimy shack? That's the kind of thing people do in heist movies, not when they're struggling just to stay off the street. Stealing from a museum is incredibly risky, as is fencing a distinctive museum piece unless I already have a buyer (through Frankie, I guess). I dunno, maybe I am desperate enough to try something that over-the-top, but it feels like you just wrote the character as pulling a museum heist because it sounded cool. At that point you might as well have skipped the destitution angle and made "me" someone who goes on dangerous jobs like that just for the fun of it.

A few other quick notes:

-You use the phrase "people that" frequently. When referring to people you use "who"; "that" is for objects.

-Don't use "seem" so often, especially in narration, as it makes you sound unsure about what you're describing. Was everyone at the Magma rally wearing a sweatshirt or not? Is there a chance that Tabitha was standing guard near Maxie wearing clown shoes and a dashiki? No? Then enough of them were wearing sweatshirts for you to tell us this with confidence.

-Pokémon names are the same singular and plural. One wailmer, two wailmer.

Overall your fic was enjoyable, and some of the characters and lines were fun and interesting. Unfortunately the essential interpretation element fell flat due to its lack of ambition (again, preaching to the choir rather than really convincing someone who doesn't yet agree). If you can find a way to latch on to the persuasion I think you were looking for—if you can have the bosses make sense of the goals we're used to opposing—the concept will go from unambitious to insightful.


This was another topic I was really interested in – how do all these evil teams recruit people? What kinds of people choose to join these organizations? What does the recruiting process look like? Your attempt at an explanation was definitely interesting.

I liked your characterization of the different team leaders. A lot of them gave great speeches and were very well-spoken, which is a necessity for a good leader, so I felt you did a good job there. There were a few phrases here or there which could have been a bit stronger, but overall each one got his message across and managed to sound convincing and more-or-less sane.

That said, it did have some weaknesses. I don’t know much about criminal organizations, but having meetings in public spaces, especially where they create a ruckus (such as the Team Rocket recruits all shouting) just seems like a bad idea. That a bunch of untrained TR recruits have to break into a warehouse to meet (instead of meeting on their own turf) actually seems pretty stupid, especially because it would be so easy for the police to infiltrate the meeting. I would also imagine that if the crowds are huge as you imply, the same speech might not empower all of them – smaller groups, or even one-on-one interviews, might be more effective in that case.

For the Hoenn leaders, there were a fair number of scientific inaccuracies. Maxie suggests that homelessness can be fixed by just putting people on a mountain, but that doesn’t actually resolve the underlying problem of poverty. Either way, Team Magma was never about solving homelessness – if you want to link it to a humanitarian cause, overpopulation would make more sense, and he references it anyway. He also phrases Magma’s goal as shrinking the seas, when it should be to increase the amount of land – the difference is subtle, but important. Also, Maxie himself says that water never goes away, thus shrinking bodies of water isn’t as easy as it sounds, and he also never establishes why doing so don’t hurt people. There is also a similar problem with Archie; he says global warming makes the ocean recede, but the reality is that the heat has melted polar ice, slowly making the oceans bigger. He also speaks of the awesomeness of Pacifidlog Town, but that kind of living situation simply can’t sustain an entire city’s worth of people, and that you can’t poison the ocean with oil because of its size isn’t true at all. A lot of this just isn’t scientifically sound, and really needed to be better researched.

The Galactic and Plasma parts were fairly good. The Galatic one did feel a little over-the-top, since people don’t really speak, never mind think, using such sophisticated language, and it’s the only one where the team leader approaches a single person to recruit them, and only after studying them intently for at least a few weeks/months. It would have been nice to see you switching things up for the Plasma scene, perhaps having the protagonist first speak to N, since you mention him being in the crowd, before going right to talk to the team leader.

Another issue is that I’m not sure if the second person point of view works for this. It’s not an easy POV to master, and I’ll be honest in saying that I am not the best at critiquing it, but I’m not sure if you really optimized it here. It helped that you tried to make the person in each situation a unique character, which worked better in some scenes than others. I think the strongest character was from the Team Aqua segment, since we got a real feel for them – you show specific memories of them being out at sea and visiting the museum, which does a lot for a story. Unfortunately, mixing this with these wishy-washy “someone speaks but I’m not sure if it was me” moments doesn’t work. You can get away with this maybe once with some better phrasing, but constantly having narrators where they’re unsure if they’re speaking or not is somewhat weak.

The grammar was good, but the language could have definitely used refining. There is a lot of awkward phrasing, mixed verb tenses, and simply using more words than necessary. For example, saying “Slipping in without noise” can be simply summarized as “silently.”
Only a few brave souls chanced making communications with one another. It was also still dark, with no light being illuminated.
Read this out loud, and you’ll notice that it just doesn’t sound right. Nobody says “making communications” or “no light being illuminated.” Aim for language that sounds more natural.

I really liked your idea here. It’s hard to imagine how, realistically, criminal organizations function and recruit new people, and I like that you tried to explain this. It’s a story about people, their desires, temperaments and fears, and how those can be exploited. While I do think it could have been better, I admire what you tried to do here.


Just me
4th place: Separate Spheres by starliteevee

Dragonfree: 4th place (100 points)
Negrek: 5th place (90 points)
Phoenixsong: 4th place (100 points)
Psychic: 5th place (90 points)
Total: 380 points

Separate Spheres​

The pounding of the drums echoed in Teo's ears as he marched up the steep stone steps. He heard Tenok's labored breathing behind him as the boy scrambled as quickly as he could up the sharply-inclined flight. After the young boy, a procession of fifty-two priests marched in synchronization with the pounding of the drums. The steps came to an end as the ground leveled-out, only to lead to another flight. At each area where stairs leveled-out to flat rock, crowds of citizens stood; commoners dressed in rags, dirty furs, or nothing at all, mixed with nobles whose richly-decorated chest pads and skirts further exemplified the others' poverty and unkempt appearances. But as Teo led the procession further up the ziggurat, class and caste was disregarded as men, women and children from all walks of life gathered together in the same proximity, each hollering and cheering as the procession climbed higher up the step-sided pyramid.

At the final landing, the teeming swathe of citizens was replaced by a group of men pounding on taut drums with large sticks. The brightly-colored plumes of their headdresses shook back in forth as the drummers bobbed their heads up and down to the ostinato beat. Teo stopped on the top step before the zenith of the stone megalith, and each following priest halted in his place. Turning, he crouched down to be at eye-level with Tenok. The boy's tan face shone with sweat, and his pale hazel eyes betrayed his fear and unease. His belly rounded out as proof of the exceptional care he received, and he gasped as he tried to re-gain his breath. Reaching out an arm to calm the child, Teo whispered so that only Tenok could hear him above the pounding of the drums.

"Do not be afraid; what you are about to undergo is a great honor. You will save all of our city--thousands will have their lives to thank for you! From the moment you were born, the gods destined you to be a great savior to our nation, and now your time is come. Do not worry, for you will be praised above the rest of us; you will frolic forever in the water temple, where food is in abundance and you may play whenever you wish with no fear of injury or of age." Seeing the tender smile on Teo's benign face and hearing the sincere words of praise, Tenok felt less uneasy, and willingly climbed the last step to the top of the pyramid, where King Olm awaited.

Tenok and Teo walked to the center of the square; behind them, the nobles followed, each walking along the outer edge of the topmost square to form a human perimeter. With the square only five meters on each side, many waited on the steps in their two lines. Teo and Tenok halted before their king and bowed low, their foreheads pressed against the sun-heated rock. Returning to standing position, Teo led the small boy to a square drain set in the center of the square. Each side stood a meter long, and four miniature columns of stone rose at each corner. As Tenok laid himself down in the center of the drain, Teo bound each of the boys limbs to the posts. Finished with strapping the child down, he rose, noticing tears streaming down the boy's cheeks as terror overcame him.

When he rose, Teo reached to his leather belt and withdrew an obsidian stiletto. The pounding of the drums and screeching of the crowds stopped as the sun-tanned man raised his arms to the sky and shouted, "O mighty god of water, we ask that you may send us rain to end this drought which has plagued our city. We petition that you will accept this offer of your chosen one, that you may recognize this sacrifice we make and grant us our wish. Hear our plea, O Lord of Rain and Sea, and grant us means of sustaining ourselves once more." The drummers once again began to beat on their instruments with renewed vigor, as Teo grasped the obsidian blade with both of his thick, muscled hands. Sweat streamed down his bare back as the shining sun mercilessly cast its rays on the pyramid. The hollering of the crowd increased with the pounding of the drums as everyone grew rabid in a wild frenzy. Tenok lay on the drain, completely silent under the stern glare of the richly-dressed King Olm, who sweat beneath his many layers of cloth and multiple pendants, and the pitiless gaze of Teo, who remained expressionless as he held the knife over the crying child.

The beat of the drums stopped once more as Teo fell to his knees and brought the dark blade downwards. The moment before it pierced Tenok's heart, he noticed a change overcome the boy. Tears ceased to stream from his eyes; they reflected a heavenly light as they beheld a world far away from living contact. Every tensed muscle in his body slackened, and a smile creased his face as peace flooded his soul. While blood poured down the drain into the earthen pot resting below it, and while Teo used a knife to remove the boy's innards and encase them in a small urn, the tranquil smile did not depart from the boy's face.



I'm afraid your writing gets in the way. Your descriptive language can be pretty evocative and powerful, but more commonly it just feels like you're trying too hard: a lot of it is unnecessarily wordy, weirdly constructed, pays attention to unimportant things at inappropriate times, repeats information ("Citizens danced outside their stone houses, singing and dancing"), is otherwise awkward and stilted, or else unnecessarily uses lofty vocabulary words like "perambulate" that just make it sound pretentious. The tone of the dialogue is inconsistent, ranging from kind of florid and overwrought to fairly casual and modern, and the narration is overall rather flat and pretty hit-and-miss with its emotional punches. This is your main problem, in my opinion - it's not by any means unreadable, but it makes it a lot harder than otherwise to get really absorbed in the story.

That being said, this is a very ambitious fic, and in many ways that pays off. I think you make a pretty good effort to portray two fairly distinct storylines in two different cultures that merely have a similar end result, for instance, rather than just writing basically the exact same series of events happening with "rain" substituted for "sun" and "Kyogre" for "Groudon", as many authors would do. Teo and Lula come from quite different places in their respective societies and have different motivations and personalities; Lula has a very personal relationship with her Pokémon but Teo doesn't really; Teo's culture sacrifices one of their own who has been raised for that purpose while Lula's sacrifices fallen enemies; Teo has to give the orb to another priest when he falls ill while Lula's is outright stolen; etc. This makes showing the two sides of the story mostly interesting and nonredundant. Not entirely, though: I feel you could have cut one of the actual feed-the-legendary-and-fill-the-sphere scenes without losing anything of value, for instance, and the scenes where Teo and Lula hold their orbs and see through the eyes of their respective legendaries also seem repetitive. Think through whether the scene you're writing serves a new purpose for the story - it's easy to imagine what feeding Groudon was like if it was basically the same as feeding Kyogre, so you don't need to show both.

I also appreciate the effort you made to portray different cultures with different values and norms from our society, and you pulled it off reasonably well, even if the ways in which they differ aren't shatteringly original and could have been explored more. Things like the way Teo treats it as simply natural and obvious for twins with birthmarks to be sacrificed, the way they feel blasphemous for being able to get into Groudon and Kyogre's heads, and the way Lula views treating her people like slaves as normal and expected give the setting flavor and make it immersive.

Probably my favorite part of this entry, though, is actually the character of Lula herself. I was prepared to hate her for being cruel and insensitive to her servants in her introductory scene, but was subsequently surprised to find how quickly I started to love her - her sad desperation for her father's love and approval and the way she has such a kind heart but has been brought up to resort to threats, demands and cruelty when things aren't going her way make her interesting and sympathetic, and the fact I genuinely cared about her probably contributed hugely to my overall enjoyment of this. I also liked Teo's character, if he wasn't quite as interesting or developed, and in particular I quite enjoyed how you portrayed the feelings the orbs induced in both of them - the sense of defilement when it's touched by someone else, the longing to hold it again when they let it go, and the sense of oneness when they finally met one another.

On the other hand, I feel your attempt to give the shaman a tragic backstory was unnecessary and fell flat. As it is his character is just not important enough to the narrative to warrant a long backstory monologue - he was mostly a pawn of the two kings who commissioned him to make the orbs, so his motivations are really not a particularly important factor in their creation. And he's not developed enough for us to really care when he tells us about how his family was murdered; seeing Lula in tears over it and desperately wanting to help him only emphasizes our inability to feel any of this on the same level she apparently does.

Also, it seems contrived to me that the kings of these two nations that you make an effort to portray as being different would nonetheless independently both think of trying to control their respective gods and ask the same shaman to get it done, not too far apart in time. If you hinted there was some one particular unprecedented event that caused both kings to think they must gain control of their god now as opposed to any previous point in time, it would make more sense - or, of course, if the shaman had given them both the idea, but presumably he didn't since he apparently loathes what they're doing.

It struck me as kind of funny, too, that Chimecho could cure the plague. I assumed Pokémon healing moves just wouldn't affect humans or somebody would have already tried it. I guess since only a few, rare Pokémon learn Heal Bell naturally it makes sense they just didn't have access to one, but what about something like Aromatherapy that's learned by more common Pokémon? It would be pretty arbitrary if that didn't work just as well, and surely they'd make sure to keep Paras or Roselia on hand if they can cure even the most severe of diseases. Plus it just feels kind of cheap - we've been watching this horrible plague ravaging Deep Island and then it's cured perfectly in five minutes. If it were better set up it would probably feel less that way.

After all the buildup, the ending felt kind of anticlimactic. There is no clever plan that only works by a hair, nor do Teo and Lula themselves do anything risky and daring that could create tension while we're in their heads; they just stand there and watch as their Pokémon succeed in killing Xaemi and Chiera on their first try. When you set up taking down Xaemi and Chiera as a near-impossible task, it should feel difficult when they actually accomplish it - here it seems all too easy, and I can't help but feel like you were just rushing through the climax (which is entirely understandable, since at that point you were probably just trying to make the deadline, but still hurts the story). Teo and Lula's lack of direct involvement is also disappointing, especially since we later find out they're immortal and Teo suspected this already, so they very much could have had a more involved role and probably saved some of those Pokémon who died for the cause. If you edit this for posting, I'd strongly suggest fleshing out the climax and making it more exciting, rather than trying to derive drama solely from the inevitable deaths of unnamed Pokémon that we have little reason to care about as readers.

Interpretation-wise, assuming you intended this primarily as an interpretation of the origin of the Red and Blue Orbs, it's not quite consistent with canon. In the games, Team Aqua used the Red Orb to summon Kyogre and Team Magma used the Blue Orb to summon Groudon, and in the anime (according to Bulbapedia, at any rate), the Blue Orb was likewise the one used to control Groudon while the Red Orb was used to control Kyogre. In this story, it's the other way around - the Blue Orb controls Kyogre and the Red Orb controls Groudon. It's an understandable mistake to make, since it feels more logical for the orbs to control the legendary of the same color as them, but the very fact it's not the more intuitive way around makes that feel like a pretty important and noteworthy thing about the orbs - I always figured the Red Orb enraged Kyogre because it was infused with Groudon's power and vice versa, for instance.

I also feel the sudden inclusion of a sorcerer in the Pokémon world is a bit jarring. Imagine you were to write historical fiction about, say, Aztec society - you'd hardly insert actual unambiguously working magic, because then you're fundamentally changing the world, not just interpreting it, and the story becomes fantasy. Now, granted, there is magic of a kind in the canonical Pokémon world, unlike the real world, so it doesn't stick out nearly as much as it would there, but it's not this kind of magic. The supernatural feats that Pokémon (and some occasional humans) can perform involve more immediate effects like energy beams or telekinesis, while humans have technology that can pretty much do any arbitrary thing the writer wants but is always portrayed as technology, something built by ingenious people based on their knowledge and skills. Here, with the mysterious shaman being able to just lay his hands on a clay sphere filled with legendary blood to turn it into an orb capable of controlling the legendary, something feels ever so slightly off. I could easily buy a clever morally ambiguous person having invented a way to do this in the canonical Pokémon world (even without any kind of technical explanation of how), but it would probably involve some unseen tinkering on their part, not muttering incantations while holding their hands over it. Of course, there's nothing wrong with writing fantasy based on the Pokémon world, but in the specific context of interpretation of the canon world, it hurts the plausibility in the same way as in the Aztec example.

A lot of minor nitpicks came to mind as I read this: Kyogre doesn't have a dorsal fin; "thousands will have their lives to thank for you" implies they should thank their lives for him, not that they should thank him for their lives; "As the High Priest of the city, I can think of none more suitable than this man..." implies the speaker is speaking in his authority as High Priest of the city, not that the person he's speaking about is the High Priest; if Groudon is leaning down from a massive height to be at eye level with Lula, its mouth and thus tongue have to be angled downwards, so simply dumping stuff on its tongue should just lead to it rolling down into a pile at Lula's feet; if Lula is flying southwest to Deep Island as suggested by the shaman's description of where it is, she should be turning left rather than right to stare to the south; Lula's belief that someone claiming to feel spiritually fulfilled by being with her would normally be "creepy" seems strangely modern and out of place next to these cultures' otherwise different social norms; at one point you refer to Teo as Derek; I'm not sure why Lula thinks the Orbs' powers will die with them given other people who weren't given the tattoos by the shaman have already been shown to be capable of using them to wreak havoc; and so on. They're fairly minor by themselves, but when there's a lot of them it makes the story feel somewhat rushed.

But ultimately, after I'd just read all the entries once without writing anything down, this was one of the ones I remembered most fondly. The story and cultural setting and characters stuck in my memory while the awkward writing and various nitpicks didn't really. While that doesn't fix the issues, I think it does indicate you've managed to write a pretty engaging story here.


So, the story behind the red and blue orbs? Great, but a bit longer than it needed to be, I think. In particular, the subplot with Lula's father never meant much of anything (we don't even get to see how that actually resolves!), and the mysterious old shaman guy got more screen time than he really deserved. There's a great deal of buildup for a final confrontation that's resolved in under five pages.

The writing itself is serviceable, albeit not particularly exciting. You do have an egregious tendency to bust out the ten-dollar words at the drop of a hat, though; I mean, you went so far as to use "lugubrious" in a sentence. It's not that there's anything wrong with those kinds of words in and of themselves, but you really want the vocabulary to be in service of the story you're telling rather than drawing attention to itself; the impression I get after reading something should not be "damn but that was some real vocabulary, there." When you're tempted to bring in the big guns of the dictionary, I'd recommend that you take a moment and really consider what the fancier word adds that a more pedestrian descriptor wouldn't.

Other than that, not much to say about the style. It works well enough. On the other hand, your worldbuilding's rather shaky. So you have these two civilizations that are close enough that you can fly between them in a few hours and nomads can and do travel from one to the other, and yet somehow two highborn people have never heard of the one they didn't grow up in? If the two civilizations are in such close proximity and travel between them is that simple, one would expect them to have a fairly close relationship; certainly I'd expect them to be quite aware of each other. Maybe the main characters would have heard of the other city and simply not know much about it, although Lula you would kind of hope would be better educated, since she'd need to know politics to run her kingdom properly.

But we'll leave aside the implausibility of that setup and accept the premise that most people in these cities aren't aware of one another. In that case, how on earth do they speak the same language? If there's even so much as a heavy accent or dialect difference between them, it's nothing anybody comments on; they all seem to understand one another just fine.

In addition, a couple of plot points that rather bothered me: Teo's kingdom is cool with Lula just flying in on her altaria and landing in the middle of the city? Even if they weren't actively hostile, why didn't they send anybody out to meet her and ask her where she'd come from and what was up (do they even have altaria around there, or is that a pokémon most people wouldn't have even seen before?)? If travel between the cities was more a routine thing, I could see them being casual about a stranger paying them a visit like that, but as it is I found it weird that nobody really reacted to her arrival.

Having chimecho's heal bell heal the plague that Teo's people were suffering also seemed too easy. If pokémon's healing abilities work so well on humans (presumably it would be able to cure other illnesses just as well, in addition to things like burns), how did Teo's people fail to try it earlier? They don't have chimecho around there, true (but if they had any contact at all with other civilizations, surely they would have worked hard to get at least one?), but there are plenty of water pokémon with heal bell/aromatherapy. It seems like they'd need to be super inexperienced with matters of healing and be super-isolated from everyone else to not have tried a similar solution already.

Finally, the shaman's behavior was very strange throughout the story. So after agreeing to create the Blue Orb, he ran off to hang around Lula's kingdom... but then decided to stick around there long enough to be captured by some of her guards and deliver a bit of exposition? I'm also unclear as to how the arrangement went down in the first place--did this guy advertise that he was able to create tools that could be used to control gods? Did they just hear he was this big-shot shaman and both get the same "hey let's try to bind that god to a mortal" plan, then propose it to him/ask for it themselves? I'm just not clear how both these kings just happened to come up with the same solution to their ambiguous problems (they seemed to be doing just fine being able to appease their gods with offerings--I'm unclear as to what prompted them to take such drastic measures in the first place) and know that this dude was their guy without him having fed the notion to them somehow. And while he apparently was 0kay with them having to deal with the potentially-world-destroying consequences of their actions, from the way he acted and the way you described his motivations, it didn't seem like he was actively trying to burn the world or anything. As a result, the parallels in their situations didn't seem very plausible to me--and made me wonder what would have gone down if the second orb hadn't been created.

Logic issues aside, I felt like you spent too much time on exposition and too little on the actual conflict between the legends. I never felt any sense of urgency about their battle--there's a cursory line thrown in there about how it looks like Teo's kingdom's going to flood, but Lula's kingdom seemed to be more or less okay when she left it, and as far as I can tell nobody but them is even actually aware that the two gods are fighting. Xaemi and Groudon pretty much show up, make a cursory attempt at killing Lula and her father, and stomp off to the ocean, and aside from the constant rain around Deep Island, there's no particular sign of Chiera going off the deep end. For a potentially world-destroying clash of the gods, their little spat seems like a pretty quiet affair. As a result, Teo and Lula's desperation seems a bit contrived. Why can't they just let the two of them duke it out until one or both collapses? Why are they desperate to find a solution now, rather than waiting things out a bit to see how they go? It's not that I can't understand, intellectually, the potential reasons why they'd react as they do--it's just that the story doesn't really make me feel them.

You also didn't spend much time on things that could actually have added some impact to your story. For example, Lula was apparently devastated by the fact that Xaemi betrayed her and stole the Red Orb, and she was then forced to kill him, I never really felt much about it. You do state that Lula felt huge amounts of guilt, but she doesn't really act that way. And the only times you actually show Xaemi in the story he's either acting like a creeper or possessed by Groudon, so it's not like the readers have any particular fondness for him, either. With a bit more development, you could have made Lula's affection for Xaemi seem much more genuine and give her some real stakes in defeating him and Groudon. As it is, those two are really just throwaway characters, necessary because you needed people other than your leads to take the legends out for a spin, but ultimately of little consequence and forgotten about within five minutes of their deaths.

Likewise, it's nice that you acknowledge that Teo's plan will end up killing a bunch of innocent people, including Chiera and Xaemi. Your heroes' actions have consequences, and that's nice to see. But as far as the actual story is concerned, they don't really mean much. Teo comes up with his plan in what looks like about five minutes and is immediately convinced that it's the only way to proceed--and Lula doesn't contradict him, despite her reservations. They don't even consider any other way to stop the legendaries. It might be that there isn't any! But all in all there's neither much deliberation nor hesitation in putting their plan into action, and after the battle occurs, there's some brief sadness over what had to be done, but it's gone almost immediately. So you're making some gestures at really putting your characters into difficult situations, but you don't follow through on them, and as a result it feels rather hollow. Your characters seem to stop short of really suffering because while you tell us they're unhappy or having a bad time, they really don't act it. I mean, they're even remarkably accepting of the whole obligate-immortality thing; after only a few minutes they're able to start making rational decisions about what they're doing next and actually putting those plans into action, rather than freaking out or otherwise actually reacting to their new situation.

So, I didn't get a whole lot of genuine emotion out of this piece, despite the fact that the characters are dealing with some genuinely difficult circumstances. Aside from that, the whole story was rather predictable. Where you were going was pretty obvious from the part where the existence of the second kingdom is revealed, and even the romance between Teo and Lula looks fated from the instant it's revealed that one of the orb guardians is male and the other is female. This is certainly a plausible backstory for the Red and Blue orbs, but it didn't strike me as particularly innovative.

All that said, though, this was a solid enough entry. I think your ideas were a little more ambitious than your execution, and that's fine. There's plenty of potential here--like I said, I think you're definitely moving in the right direction in terms of trying to force your characters to make difficult decisions and suffer the consequences of their actions. You also do a good job of giving your characters realistic reasons for their actions, although they're more informed than really shown, and your writing's pretty good. On the whole, I think this story is moving in a good direction, but doesn't quite make it in its current incarnation.


Major points for the setting here—it's certainly something I don't see every day. We're in a place reminiscent of classical Mesoamerican civilization (rather than medieval Europe or something more futuristic) and we're dropped directly into a beautifully described ritual... involving human sacrifice. You took an unusual setting and unusual scenes and you made them pretty darn fascinating to boot, and I really dig that about this fic.

That said, I don't feel like you used said setting to its fullest extent. You start off with detailed depictions of sacrifices and offerings, all of which I found interesting (if expected within a Mesoamericanesque setting), but beyond that point all the interest is pushed aside in favor of a generic plot about Kyogre and Groudon wanting to beat each other up. No one did anything that any other culture in a similar predicament couldn't have done. When giant weather monsters are on a rampage you need to focus on ending that rampage and not on performing a unique ceremonial dance, true, but I still wonder whether you couldn't have done more with the events leading up to the climax so it would feel like it belonged to this story specifically.

I'm afraid I can't think of any direct suggestions for you in that regard. Mostly I'm full of unanswered questions about the setting itself, most of which probably wouldn't be relevant to the plot and would only clutter what is supposed to be a one-shot. Then again, maybe that is something that would help: spend a bit more time with the worldbuilding. Think about how magic works in more detail, or about the roles pokémon play in these societies, or about further distinctions between Teo and Lula's cultures. The more details you hash out—and this can just be in notes, you don't have to add it all to the fic—the more likely you are to see ways to integrate them into how these characters solve their problems. I understand that it might take too long to really flesh this stuff out when you're up against a contest deadline, but it's something to try if you're considering revision.

The climax of the story felt empty, primarily because Teo and Lula didn't do anything. I understand that direct involvement would have been extremely dangerous and that remaining on the sidelines is the logical thing to do, but from a storytelling perspective it's kind of weak. Teo and Lula believe this whole mess is their fault, but the only action they actually take is to tell a bunch of pokémon to risk everything while they stand by and watch with their fingers crossed. Maybe having them feel intensely guilty about the pokémon who die in the attempt was meant to compensate for this, but it doesn't help in the end. I don't want to dive too deep into suggestions for fixing this because I don't want to try and rewrite your story, but for example you could have them make a last-ditch attempt to talk sense into Xaemi and Chiera before admitting that yes, they really do have to be killed. The pokémon will still be pulling most of the weight, but anything to keep the protagonists of the story from twiddling their thumbs during the climax would go a long way.

It was also over too quickly for my taste. The background pokémon struggle for a paragraph or two and then oh hey look Gyarados and Altaria did a thing and now everything is fine. Adding a little more meat and drama to Gyarados and Altaria's actions, for example having them miss the first few strikes, would help this.

Teo could've used more character development. Lula had to struggle with wanting her father's affection in spite of the fact that he was using her, and she even had some connection with Xaemi prior to his betrayal. Teo didn't have anything similar going on, and it didn't help that he was sick most of the time, either. Don't get me wrong, that was an interesting way to foreshadow his immortality and I enjoyed your descriptions of the god-given rain twisting into something miserable and awful, but Teo was out of commission and just lying there for so long that the fic turned into The Lula Show when I don't think it was supposed to be. There must be some way you can have Teo fall ill and still make him a little deeper and more relevant.

Even then Lula's character feels unresolved, most likely because she never confronts her father in any way and we never learn of his reaction. She just takes off to save the day and that's effectively the last we hear of it. It's cool that she disobeyed his orders so she could do what was right, but it's a heck of a lot simpler to disobey a messenger conveying your father's orders than it is to disobey those orders when your father is standing right there and telling you to get off that altaria and come home this instant, young lady. At least some mention of how Lula plans to deal with her father before meeting Teo at Mt. Pyre would be nice. (Also, she was kind of a spoiled brat in the initial offering scene, but I never get that same vibe from her anywhere else in the story. You might want to look into that and see what you can do to keep her more consistent.)

I think an extra round of proofreading to check for diction issues would do you some good. While you never devolve into ridiculous purple prose and your grammar and syntax are mostly solid, some of your sentences are awkward and your dialogue vacillates between formal and informal here and there (e.g., Lula thinking that Teo's voice is "not too high and girly"... on top of that being a really random thing to notice at a time like this). Reading aloud will probably help you here: your ears will catch things that sound strange or repetitive better than your eyes will.

A few other brief notes:

-Pokémon names are the same singular and plural. One tropius, two tropius; "tropii", while cute and certainly better than "tropiuses", is incorrect.

-I'm not sure Altaria's strike should've killed Xaemi outright. Altaria have small, blunt beaks that might draw blood if they hit someone's abdomen hard enough. Since the force of the blow was enough to knock Xaemi off of Groudon's head, you could probably avoid that inconsistency by just having the landing kill him.

-At one point on page 32 you call Teo "Derek" for some reason.

I can tell you really enjoyed working with and writing this setting and these characters, and that's why it's a shame that it lapses into such generic territory. The story ran long and I can guess that you wanted to finish up and get to the point, but the point ultimately buried all of your interesting details. It almost feels like the pacing in this story is "backwards"—you go into lavish detail about the ceremonies and sacrifices in the beginning and rush through all of the drama and denouement at the end. Painting a picture of the setting is important, but in a story this size and with these themes it shouldn't be more interesting than a battle between Groudon and Kyogre. There are things that can be slimmed down (the ceremonies, most of the shaman stuff, etc.), but at the same time there are things that could be shored up (equal treatment of Teo and Lula, the climax, etc.), so at the end of the day I don't know that you'd end up with a shorter story if you did all of that—it might be just as long, if not longer.

I don't think that's a bad thing, though. This fic's biggest problem is that you were trying to cram a lot of different things into a one-shot, and it simply needs more room to comfortably cover everything you wanted it to cover. If you're interested in refining this and posting it publically, that would be my suggestion. You don't need to pad it out into a fifty-chapter magnum opus, but splitting it into multiple parts will give you more room to control your pacing and to enjoy the details in the later parts of the story as much as you clearly enjoyed the beginning. If nothing else I'm not sure this piece will fit into a single post anyway, so if you'll be using multiple posts you might as well break them along chapter lines.

The takeaway is that you need to decide whether you want the short story or the room to explore the setting and characters, as at the moment trying both at once seems to have been too much. Once you decide how you'd like to proceed, however, you do have the skills and the foundation to turn it into a polished and engaging piece—I really liked a lot of your descriptions, from the aforementioned rain to the details of the orb rituals to Teo sharing Kyogre's mind and having to remember to breathe (in fact, I'd argue that the Teo sections had better overall writing where Lula herself was better developed). If you do revise it, however you revise it, I'd very much like to see the results.


I’m a sucker for stories about legendaries, and I love the idea of exploring the myths and histories behind them. I like that you took the legend about Groudon and Kyogre fighting and showed the parts that humans played, as well as the links between legendaries and humans. I like that it became a cautionary tale about power, though I felt that it ran rather long for what it was.

Overall, I liked the idea. You had an interesting plot that kept me intrigued throughout the fic, and I always wanted to know what was going to happen. The idea itself is an old but true one: humans become power-hungry (as humans do) and attempt to control something greater than them. This can work really well this legendaries, and I enjoy reading stories that explore this rlation between them and humans. Instead of having “Chosen Ones,” however, we get volunteers, which is a nice difference, though there still is a weird Chosen One element with Teo’s tribe where children are born with birth marks. That said, I actually still thought that was still an interesting idea, though I was disappointed that it never came up again afterwards.

Unfortunately, I noticed that to be something of a theme in your writing; you would come up with a neat idea about the culture or the way the powers work, but only introduce it when it’s convenient for the plot and then never reference it again. For instance, there’s no indication that either Teo or Lula felt empty and unfulfilled until Lula is on her way to Teo and starts feeling fulfilment, you don’t reveal that wielders of the orbs have Pokémon-like powers until the lead-up to the big fight, and there’s no indication that members of Teo’s tribe are friends with water Pokémon until the very end. You also introduce a lot of Teo’s connection to the Blue Orb weirdly, when he’s sick. He suddenly knows how Chiera feels, and he even senses when she gets absorbed by the orb. On that note, we never know what “duties” are so important that the orb has to constantly be used, especially since they were specifically warned not to let anyone but Teo use it. You need to set these things up throughout the story to keep a sense of consistency.

There’s generally just a lot of weirdly-timed plot stuff and minor plot-holes scattered throughout the fic. For instance, it doesn’t really make sense that Teo and the Shaman only have the conversation of the morality of their actions after the fact. The scene goes from a holy ceremony to a morality debate, and it’s somewhat jarring. King Olm himself almost never speaks, even when the Shaman outright says that the king is making a bad decision, so he feels more like a set piece than a proper character.

The setting for the second plot starts off rather vague. We only see Lula with servants, and nobody else, not ever those in charge of them (a princess would not be in charge of them). They dare to speak directly to royalty as well, and face no repercussion. It’s not clear where King Zuma and the Shaman are, and who the crowd below them is comprised of. Where were they during the march? If this is taking place by the volcano, it seems unlike that they wouldn’t have been there during Groudon’s summoning. If they were even remotely nearby, the king wouldn’t be chiding Lula for being late.

The characters’ motivations seem flimsy at best. Why exactly does each tribe need control over a legendary? They’ve each shown that their respective legendary will do as they ask if they make a single sacrifice, which each tribe is able and willing to do. Nobody seems to have any moral issues with it, and there’s never a reason presented as to why they should use a different tactic. It’s also never explained why being able to control a legendary would be the best alternative. How did anyone come to the conclusion that this was the way to go, and how did they find the Shaman and know he’s do this for them? And why did both tribes coincidentally decide to do this at the same time?

On that note, I don’t understand the Shaman’s motivation. He knew that giving humans control over gods was a bad idea, so why did he agree to do it? If he could teleport away at any time, why did he let King Zuma force him into anything? His personality and even way of speaking also seems to shift constantly. Regarding other characters, King Zuma’s desire for his only heir to risk her life is questionable. Xaemi also doesn’t seem to have any particular motivation for stealing the Red Orb. There’s also no explanation as to why Chiera and Xaemi do battle.

While description was okay overall, there were definitely moments where it could have been better, and done a lot for the story. As a small example, describe Chimecho’s face if it just got whacked by a branch. Does it seem upset? Angry? Also, show, don’t tell – if the guards are approaching, describe them doing so, don’t just tell us they are through dialogue. And you suddenly say Lula is alone, but don’t describe the others leaving, which can be quite jarring. There are also general things you want to be consistent with; the exact weather pattern has been unclear – when it is sunny and when is it raining?

For a more significant instant of needing description, there was a lot you could have done with the scene where Teo and Lula see through each legendary’s eyes for the first time. For one thing, it would have been nice if they had to put in a bit more effort to do so, which would give the reader more insight into the nature of their relationships with the legendaries. Description is also important here because this is supposed to be a powerful experience; not only are they seeing through the eyes of powerful creatures, but these are creatures they consider to be gods. This moment should be powerful and awe-inspiring, and you can use description to show the feeling of being this physically huge force of nature with untold power. Kyogre is deep in the ocean, so describe the feeling of the water, the pressure from the depth, the overwhelming darkness. Describe Kyogre moving towards the surface, seeing the surface above him like a pane of glass and the feeling of smashing through it. Also, show how we know Teo is controlling it – his visions just describe what Kyogre is doing, so show us Teo moving Kyogre’s will.

It’s also unclear how much time has elapsed at many points, or you don’t really show time progressing. For instance, how long it’s been between Teo getting the orb and becoming sick. You don’t really describe characters moving from one place to another; Lula is sitting on her throne after dancing, then suddenly she is in her kitchen, then she’s back with her father and the guards in an unknown location. You need to work on transitions and giving a sense of time passing. There is also some weird pacing, part of which is a result of this. Some of it just seems like poor planning – for instance, in the span of a page we meet Advisor Xaemi, notice him acting suspiciously, and then boom, he’s riding on Groudon’s head. It’s too much, too fast.

I also hate to say it, but the final battle was anti-climactic. There’s a lot of planning involved, yet they don’t even rally the villagers. There isn’t much human involvement, really - the heroes Teo and Lula simply stand on the sideline while sending a hoard of Pokémon at the two legendaries, many of whom perish. Both are then forgiven without a second thought.

The ending is interesting, though a bit melodramatic at points. Teo cutting his own throat, and Lula bursting into tears (for the second time) just feel a bit too cliché. That said, I do like the resolution they come to. It makes sense that they go to Mt. Pyre, as that is where the orbs can be found in the games, though I’m not sure if making the two immortal works with canon. (I’m also not sure about having eternal life but not eternal youth, because once you get dementia and start losing your teeth like Teo, that’s not much of an existence.)

The grammar was good overall, but there were a number of minor mistakes you could have caught while proofreading. For instance, you get repetition of words like “Teo removed himself himself from the creature's body.” You sometimes miss words, misuse semicolons, and at one point call Teo “Derek.”

A razor-edged dorsal fin followed after, and within seconds creature's entire backside rose clear of the salt water.
Teo's heart beat rapidly as he forced himself to remain calm before muttering man and the drenched king.
Missing the word “the” in both sentences.

Reaching the outskirts of the city, Teo found King Olm waiting accompanied by a man, bent over with age
Remove the comma and place it after “waiting.”

Within seconds, he came through the window; his little scarlet and saffron wings fluttered rapidly as they struggled to hold his bright green body aloft.
Semicolons join two independent clauses, but the latter isn’t one. You can tell because if you make the semicolon a period so you get two separate sentences, the second sentence wouldn’t make sense.

Overall, I think you had a really interesting plot, but the execution could use polishing. You can construct an interesting story, so own that skill, and focus on improving other aspects of your writing. While proofreading, have an eye for small mistakes, pacing, and consistency. Those aspects were distracting, but this was definitely still an enjoyable read.


Just me
3rd place: Built for Risk, or How to Excel at Containing Devastation for Fun and Profit by solovino

Dragonfree: 2nd place (130 points)
Negrek: 3rd place (115 points)
Phoenixsong: 1st place (150 points)
Psychic: 6th place (80 points)
Total: 475 points

Hello everyone, this is Solovino after a looooong absence. I had this idea for the Interpretations contest, which has been in my head for a while already, but between life and stuff it just took too damn long to put on write.

Still, I guess I am not the only one who has wondered, how dangerous are the arenas and stadiums in the Pokémon World? We know from the anime – not exactly the best source, but it's what we have - that the audience is hosted in the same building and within throwing distance of creatures that can essentially nuke or mindrape an entire block on a whim – even more so in places like a Battle Tower or a ceremonial battle chamber where available room is constrained and a shot the wrong way could mean death crushed under the weight of a mountain. Of course in a “real world” we can't have it like the games where no matter if the battle takes place at a forest, inside Sylph's building or 200 m underwater, we magically switch to a Featureless Plane where nothing you do affects the outside world. Or can we?

However at the same time we know the people of the Pokémon world have lived with these dangers forever, after all the Pokémon are not a new thing, they've been there long enough to wage wars with and alongside people. So, it is only understandable that Pokémon world's humans have come up with their own solutions to the problem of how to wage personal little wars in a way that is safe™ and fun™ for everybody.

Like what ways, one wonders? Well, let's take an example look of one of the alternatives.

Hope you all enjoy this small story.

How to Excel at Containing Devastation for Fun and Profit

Revision 1.1

“Tickets on hand! Tickets on hand!”

“B-14, it's right up the third corridor.”

The sound of an Excadrill yelling in the distance and the orange-ish light from some projectile attack that was for a moment visible at the end of one of the corridors lured the mass of people still trying to get to their seats, many having arrived in delayed transports for the battle event today.

“I hope she sends the Venipede out to fight, I love the way she tries to evade the attacks.”

“Now, if you behave during the matches, we can talk about that Murkrow you want as a starter.”

People are enjoying themselves today, showing their tickets and entering the corridor to walk steadily but eagerly towards the arena where a Semifinals battle was taking place, the first of the day. A soft tremor shakes the corridor for a moment, though no one bats an eye, there's nothing to worry about – the effect in the arena of course had been far worse after the Torterra had managed to land an Earthquake on the cornered Excadrill.

A group of students along with their teacher and a couple of parents take one of the corridors towards a reserved terrace specifically designed for larger groups. The children are of course eager to climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator, which would take more time - they have a match to watch, and Pokémon to be amazed with! The teacher, for the most part, is concerned about the building's safety, but one of the staff officers is quick to quell his concerns.

“…and it's not going to happen, the terrace shielding was tested by letting three Rhyperior fire their…”

Another officer is tending to a well dressed couple and their accompanying Pokémon, a well groomed Serperior. The staffer handles himself with elegance, ignoring the noise and the pressure of the other groups as he leads the couple and the Pokémon to a private elevator guarded by officers in blue uniforms; he then designates one of the guards to accompany the couple and the Pokémon to “VIP box number four”, with the woman commenting in a snazzy tone that with any luck she could meet “the President's wife” during the break.

People push to get into the terraces and watch the battle that ensues. A man in more formal clothing walks in, as stuck to the wall as he can, trying to find a place where he can sit for a moment and tend to the insistent ringing of his cellphone. He manages to find a comfortable space right by the vending machines where a group of kids and their Pokémon are trying their darnest to get drinks and snacks before the corridors close. There are some problems, one of the machines gets stuck and perhaps due to a misunderstanding it is blown up by one of the nearby Pokémon, causing a ruckus; the man decides to walk away and tend to his business somewhere else.

More officers are carefully leading the latest groups of attendants into the corridors and pointing each one to their designated seats, as well as warning about the accommodations and cautions required for those of them who brought their Pokémon along. A young couple rush towards the entrance door that is about to close, the girl hugging a little Absol as if for dear life.

A busy day that is starting well, thinks the well-dressed man. After the last group of people entered the corridors, one of the officers approached a panel on the wall and pressed some buttons; there was some mechanical noise, a couple of lights turned on and off, then a couple of metal bars emerged from the roof and attached themselves to the floor. Orange flags with a sign reading “ACCOMMODATIONS FULL” and “PREFER SOUTH ENTRANCE” popped out of the bars and adorned the area before the corridors. The doors past them closed just as there was a sudden tremor that managed to shake the floor and the ceiling, and the sound of the audience cheering in excitement at a Torterra clashing against a Excadrill can be heard still strong despite the distance and the notorious sound and vibration absorption properties of the building.

All that remains before the arena entrances is the well-dressed man talking on his cellphone, citing some numbers and requesting to whoever was at the other end of the line that more care would be taken with provisions coming by zeppelin.

After a moment the man finishes his call, walks to a nearby table and picks a newspaper from it. He casually heads to a magnetic lock door and slides his card against it, the access granted that allows him to disappear past, into a world of order and silence, as he starts reading the newspaper.

The first part of the match pits the first trainer's Excadrill versus the second trainer's Torterra in a flat artificial arena separated from the surrounding audience both by small foldable graphene-hempcrete panels and by translucent energy shields raised and maintained by a group of Pokémon orbiting the arena, hidden in a small service ring running around it.

Both contenders are quick to take advantage of the battleground's material, a graphite-based derivative of Rhyperior plaques, which, while making harder to use techniques such as Dig as an attack or a maneuver, does provide convenient shielding when the panels are lifted off the ground, just in time to block an incoming Ice Beam or other kind of beam attack.

After a while that grows boring and tiring though, partly because one of the two Pokémon can use his natural shielding instead and the other one does not have techniques that can draw advantage from sustained long-range strategy. In fact none of the two Pokémon have missed a shot so far, yet they have not really damaged each other. Both Pokémon have now to resort to more direct confrontation in the hopes of dealing enough damage to finish their foe, prompting the audience to pay more attention and respond with eager cries and cheering.

It is in these circumstances that one of the Mr. Mime notices a particular motion the Excadrill was performing and decides to warn his partners - a Loudred and a Fraxure - to request their help; just in time, for the Torterra is hit with the full force of a Giga Impact and sent flying off the hardened part of the arena. The first defensive panel was pretty much folded into nonexistence by the impact and the entire mass of the Pokémon continued its way towards the terrace-holding pillars... only to crash against the kinetic barrier held in place by the three Pokémon. The vibration resulting from the impact spreads around and wrecks the supports of several cameras and sensors nearby, but what matters is the audience is unharmed and cheering – and most importantly the pillars that hold the terraces and boxes above them have avoided pretty much all damage.

The Mr. Mime's handler, an old man, watches one of the screens above, indicating a high number in the Mercalli scale, then with a wry expression turns to the seats nearby where some adolescents had nearly tossed themselves up from - as if hoping that the Torterra would have run them over. What kind of demented sport was this was beyond the poor man's comprehension.

The Torterra manages to right himself up after bouncing off the shielding the wrong way, precious time for a counterattack lost as he returns to the battleground – no ring outs here. His head in tremendous pain from the shock of the impact, he takes a time to register his surroundings and then realizes that the Excadrill is ready to attack his cornered form again. Perhaps taken by a momentary fear, the Torterra rapidly charges up Grass-type energy in his muzzle and fires up a Energy Ball aimed at the Excadrill, who only manages to jump above it because he had not yet compromised his maneuverability by starting his own attack. The projectile leaves a tremendous mark on the arena grounds, spreading cracks on the tiles that extend in a ten meter radius.

One of the stadium staffers quickly dashes through the underground service ring to examine the three Pokémon, who growl their assurance that they are okay and can still handle the battle; still, at least the Loudred is made to eat a berry to restore some of his stamina. Then the staffer listens for a moment to the wild roar of the audience, most of them rooting for the Torterra to somehow escape his cornering as the Pokémon attempts to hold the Excadrill at bay with a Swift barrage – a tactic that seems to work thanks to the somewhat hesitant nature of the Excadrill. The man takes a look at the terrace right above then where a well-dressed man can be seen applauding at the displays of power, and wipes the sweat off his forehead as he blesses his luck.

The Presidential box is still safe and sound.

Now the service officers and their Pokémon can return their attention to the Torterra finally having gained the upper hand, such turn of events secured by him assaulting the Excadrill with Razor Leaves.



This is an interesting subject I haven't seen explored much, and you take it on with a lot of rich detail, intercut with some really nice, varied battle choreography. In that sense I definitely found this one of the most enjoyable entries - your interpretation is fresh and you present it in a pretty engaging way.

I felt the writing dragged you down, though. Your sentences tend to be considerably on the long side, with a lot of information crammed into them in not-especially-elegant ways, and this combined with the frequent typos, missing words and tense fluctuations makes the prose confusing and somewhat difficult to get properly absorbed in. When reading this entry I found my attention wandering a lot as my brain slid off strangely constructed sentences. It would be a lot better just with better proofreading, but you might definitely want to watch the sentence length/structure as well. And although most of the information you give is stuff that would be difficult to integrate well into the story, it does feel pretty infodumpy and you could probably have made a somewhat bigger effort in that department.

It sticks out pretty glaringly to me how for all of Armando's proclamations that they are the Very Best(tm) at what they do and the fawning descriptions of the safety features, what your story actually portrays is a system that appears to be constantly teetering on the edge of disaster. You show the energy shields being destroyed by powerful attacks several times within the same battle, for instance, which implies that they're really not that hard to break and that it's a pretty frequent occurrence in major-league battles. This would be totally unacceptable as a safety measure in the real world - the shields should be able to quite comfortably withstand a direct hit with the most powerful attack that can reasonably be expected to be used in a battle tower of this caliber, at the very least. What if Ampharos had been firing some Thunderbolts at exactly the moment Salamence took down the shield? Would they just have gone through and blasted a section of the audience to kingdom come? If it's completely impossible or impractical for the shields to be stronger than any attack they might conceivably have to take, then there should instead be at least two if not three layers of shields, to ensure there is always a backup shield while they're getting the main shield up again (and that's provided these layers together can always stop an attack - if there's any vaguely reasonable chance something could just blast through all of them, they need even more shields). We're talking about a situation where human lives are at stake - they're not going to rely on safety measures that merely hold out most of the time. Anything safety-critical is usually equipped with multiple layers of failsafes, each of which assumes a theoretical worst-case scenario where all the other failsafes somehow fail. Here, if any one cog in the system went even a teensy bit wrong, people would certainly die. That's not how safety works.

Now, this may be intentional to a degree - you show nicely that Armando doesn't actually feel anywhere near as safe and confident in the tower as he claims, but appears to have trained himself to push away his doubts and not show them. But as it stands, even if you meant to show the tower as actually being completely unsafe and Armando as being in heavy denial about it, what about everyone else working at the tower? What about the people who determined that the battle tower was the safest place for the president to be? No matter how good Armando is at deluding himself, at least one of the many other people involved here should realize that they're endangering thousands of people and contact the authorities - authorities that should have standardized much better, actually safe safety measures long ago, and ought to be enforcing them with inspections.

I also noticed that the trainers don't give any commands, instructions or even words of encouragement in any of the Pokémon battles you show. I really enjoy details like the Pokémon getting their own introductions telling of their own heroics and how creative the battles are instead of just being the Pokémon taking turns firing the attacks their trainers order at one another, but it seems distinctly odd how the Pokémon are just fighting each other by themselves without any sense that they have trainers. Even aside from why these Pokémon would even need or want trainers when they're clearly just fine handling every aspect of battling by themselves, it seems unbelievable that the trainers wouldn't give any input whatsoever even, say, when the Ampharos starts climbing the force field and the Salamence starts looking at the TV screens to locate it. Wouldn't that be a prime time for the trainer to shout, "Watch out, it's on the barrier at ten o'clock"?

Finally, there isn't much of a story here. It's just Armando walking around thinking insistently about how nothing bad is going to happen, and then nothing bad happens (even though a lot of very bad things nearly happen). If you intentionally had Armando treat the tower as a lot safer than it really is, that's a cool thing to do and has potential, but you should probably have done more with it. The exact same story would work fine if it were truly written like it's meant to be kind of terrifying, but as it is your own enthusiasm about all these details you thought of bleeds through a lot even when the story isn't close on Armando's perspective, so most of it feels like we're supposed to take Armando's confidence pretty much at face value. Having something actually go horribly wrong, of course, would be an easier, more blunt way to convey the same point, and would follow naturally from the current slow progression from Armando brimming with confidence to Armando pretending to be brimming with confidence but secretly kind of wanting to get the hell out of there while support pillars are cracking below.

All that said, I find myself liking this entry more than all this complaining probably sounds like. I think it's that it shows that a lot of thought and effort went into this, and that ultimately I do really feel like I'm seeing a slice of a bigger world here, much more so than in most of the other entries. There's a sense of immersion despite the often-shaky writing - the interesting battles are probably a large part of that, though I wouldn't have guessed that that could do so much for my perception of a story. And this is definitely one of the most inventive subjects for interpretation in the contest.


Interesting topic to look at with your story. It's generally taken for granted that the spectators at a pokémon battle are safe, or at least in no more danger than people at a baseball or hockey game. Most writers assume the energy shield approach, I think, but it's rarely explicitly commented on, and you expand on the idea a lot more than anyone I've seen.

I have to admit, I expected this story to go in a different direction than it did. From the fact that the president had unexpectedly shown up to watch the tournament, to how Armando keeps repeating that they're doing just fine containing the battles, I was expecting something horrible to happen, perhaps by design (e.g. some kind of plot against the president). What this actually worked out to was basically a character piece focused on Armando, which was just fine--simply not where I felt the setup was hinting things would go.

You do a great job of integrating the subject of your "interpretation" with the story--you get across the nature and capabilities of the arena defenses by actually showing them in action, and I loved that you went on to show how battlers could actually exploit them as part of their strategies. The ampharos using electromagnetic force to climb the shields and get on a level with the salamence was especially good. In general, you write nice action scenes, which is fortunate, given how much of this story's total length is made up by battles. I also appreciated the amount of detail you included when describing the parts of the arena defenses that you weren't really able to show, although getting that specific about arena construction, while good for the "interpretation" part of this contest, might be a bit out of place if this was just a story you'd posted for the heck of it. Still, you manage to make a lot of the details actually matter to how the battles run and the story plays out, which is excellent.

Unfortunately, mechanical issues prevented me from fully enjoying this story. Your sentence construction gets very odd at times, and you have problems using incorrect or strange words can technically be used in the way you've done, but usually aren't. Generally what you write is technically correct, but often it reads strangely because of word choice or syntax. Consider this section, for example:

The Mr. Mime's handler, an old man, watches one of the screens above, indicating a high number in the Mercalli scale, then with a wry expression turns to the seats nearby where some adolescents had nearly tossed themselves up from - as if hoping that the Torterra would have run them over.
This sentence has a couple of problems. One is an actual grammar issue--"indicating a high number..." doesn't work here, since the subject of that phrase is still the old man, and he's not the one doing the indicating. You want something along the lines of, "which indicates..." instead. Then there's "the seats nearby where some adolescents had nearly tossed themselves up from": you don't normally toss yourself anywhere. The phrase overall is a convoluted way of saying that a bunch of teenagers ("adolescents" sounds overly formal) had almost jumped out of their seats. The last part of the sentence is also in the wrong tense: it should be "as if hoping that the Torterra would run them over"... I think. I'll admit that I find juggling the tenses in this particular sentence difficult. One way or another, this is an example of a sentence that I found difficult to follow, and there were a lot of them that cropped up throughout the story. In the end it's lots of little things, like a woman's voice being described as "snazzy" (snazzy's a visual word; you wouldn't really use it to talk about a sound) that pop up often enough to add up to make your prose a bit rough.

One consistent problem you do have is keeping things in the proper tense. While the majority of the piece is in present tense, you slip into the past tense on several occasions--for example, almost all of the paragraph on page two that starts "A busy day that is starting well..."

Probably your best bet is to try and find someone who can serve as a beta for you, and is willing to talk you through where things sound weird rather than just giving you a set of suggested corrections to work from. Other than that, a lot of reading to try and develop an intuition for the way things are phrased is pretty much all you can do.

Other than that, I think things were pretty solid. Another thing I liked was how you managed to get across Armando's personality primarily through his actions, how he interacted with people, and small bits of exposition. He comes off as a bit arrogant, a bit of a control freak, but deeply proud of his accomplishment in building his battle facility and finding a great deal of satisfaction in watching it function as intended--not because you had him sit around and reflect on things for long periods of time, but by simply showing him going about his business and letting his character come through without you having to comment on it much. That's a tricky thing to get right sometimes, but you did a nice job of it.

So, overall, I think this is a nice one-shot. It definitely delivers in the "interpretation" department, and it would be interesting to read in its own right. At this point I think the only thing really holding it back is some awkwardness in the prose.


This was a cool idea, and very different from the more pokémon-centric entries that made up the meat of this contest. How arenas hold up to a cavalcade of destructive super-monsters does seem to be something we either take for granted or handwave away, so it was fun to take a look at how fortifying these structures and protecting the audience might work. I loved your ideas about how the architects and engineers were inspired by pokémon physiology and techniques, and the fun and dangerous ways in which the battlers could use these innovations to their advantage in battle. You also sprinkled in some nice side details and teasers that I appreciated once I realized what was going on; the newspaper headlines were cute, for example, the squirmy absol foreshadowing worked well and the way you came back around to the incident with the magnezone and the snack machine was nice—overall you did a great job tying pieces of the story together and remembering to mention things for a reason.

Armando Pedraza is probably my favorite thing about this story, though—I love how cocky and confident he is, how his only concern when the president makes an unscheduled visit is that they need to remember the fine wine, how well aware he is of everything that's happening around him and of what goes into his masterpiece's construction and maintenance, how damn sure he is that his decisions are sound and that Lega Runa will hold strong. Even when he gets nervous as the battles heat up, he's just so certain that everything will proceed as planned that you can't help but smile even as you know the tower is coming apart at the seams.

Much though I enjoyed Pedraza's cockiness and the innovative use of pokémon-inspired technology, some of your descriptions of the latter tended toward infodumpy and could stand to be spread out. It seemed especially strange when it was presented as though Pedraza is thinking about it at the same time it's being presented to the reader. I know he thinks very highly of himself and his accomplishments, but mentally reviewing every detail of the building's construction all at once is a little much even then.

In general you seem to have some issues with overwraught descriptions and not-quite-right word choices. This results in infodumps like the aforementioned or, most often, in very awkward phrasing. On page 9, for example, you have

...a body build that is prime subject to long-range antiair attacks...
You're trying to describe the salamence with a level of interesting detail that it just doesn't warrant at this point, so the line ends up long and muddy. That's not to mention that the entire sentence is a pretty gnarly run-on (and that you slipped into the past tense for a few words). Breaking it up into smaller sentences and simplifying them would be a big help:

The Salamence watches his opponent strafing slowly below him. He swings his tail back and forth, searching for just the right angle, but he knows better than to wait too long. He can't leave himself open to attack, vulnerable as he is to anti-air strikes.
Something like that, anyway, and so on with the rest of the paragraph. In general most of your battle descriptions were engaging and inventive (the first match between the excadrill and torterra was a little flat but I liked how creative the later pokémon were), and I liked the maintenance crews and pokémon racing to keep up with the fast-paced and destructive fights; you just need to remember to slow down and describe things more concisely and carefully to avoid these sorts of slip-ups, which can bog down otherwise fun battles. Reading aloud as you proofread would probably catch most of anything else that gets through, too.

Your battles are exciting (as long as you can get around the awkward wording), your ideas were clever and your attention to detail was admirable. Color me impressed overall—just work on that wordiness and word choice a little more and you've got something great on your hands.


The subject of stadiums is another one I wasn’t expecting and was interested in seeing an interpretation of. I like that you made it the equivalent of a sports stadium and tried to show the hustle and bustle and general goings-on in such a place.

A lot of your ideas were definitely interesting and creative. Having teams of Pokémon and trainers working to keep up barriers sounds pretty cool, and creates some neat imagery. It also has the potential to create some very tense moments, but unfortunately I found that your style was rather passive, which makes it difficult for readers to really feel immersed in a story. Your penchant for longer sentences also takes away from the action of a scene – short, quick sentences are better for description quick actions.

It’s also very different seeing a fic that gets so technical – you spend a lot of time describing the materials used to create the building, which is something that takes a lot of thought. Unfortunately it is difficult to deliver that kind of information within a story while still making it interesting, and at times it did feel like too much. Be selective about what details you include – not every piece of information will interest people, and too many of them can really bog down a story.

One issue I saw that that the Pokémon trainers were practically non-existent. After awhile, I assumed that this was just a battle between Pokémon with no trainer involvement, however near the end of the story it was finally mentioned that there were trainers all along, sitting at “command benches,” which implies that the trainers actually give commands The narration states that trainers are the stars just as much as their Pokémon, yet we never see them doing anything, from giving orders to simple reacting to their Pokémon winning or losing, which is a problem. Also, if the Pokémon can strategize and do so just fine without trainers, what are they needed for in the first place?

While your battles are creative, I found the description to be lacking, taking away a lot of the energy and excitement from those scenes. As a result, I simply didn’t feel engaged. This was a real problem of telling instead of showing – for instance, you’d say a Pokémon used an attack, but not show them using the attack, the opponent getting hit or responding to the pain. When Ampharos dodges a Flamethorewer, describe the bright orange flames, the smell of smoke and burning fur, the wooshing sound of the flames as they leave the Salamence’s mouth. Using active voice and short sentences would have also helped here. Your battles sounded so interesting, and it would be great if you could bring the language up to a level where it doesn’t just sound exciting, but feels exciting by showing rather than just telling.

Unfortunately, the grammar could use some work, as there are small mistakes all over the place. There are verb tense switches, general punctuation errors, a lot of use of the passive voice like “the Floatzel is not let go,“ and spelling mistakes like “compleex” and “then” instead of “them.” You tend to also make up words, like “reraise,” which I wouldn’t really advise. There is also a lot of awkward phrasing – “Not seeing a ready exit and in a very uncomfortable position, the Floatzel then does what next comes to mind – attack directly at the hand that was torturing him.” Consider reading your work out loud, with an ear for sentences that sound weird or too long.

You also have problems with commas. You have comma splices and missing commas all over the place, and instances like “But the Drapion won't let his prey go without a final punishment, for which he raises his tail and prepares what in the wild would be a fatal sting.” There should be commas before and after “in the wild.”

You had an interesting concept here, and attempted to explore something that most people would never even think of. Unfortunately, the writing could use work – focus on using a more active style, showing instead of telling, using shorter sentences to convey action and excitement, and figuring out what details are important compared to others. You have really neat ideas; you just need to write in a way that really shows them off.


Just me
2nd place: Just Typical by Tangent128

Dragonfree: 3rd place (115 points)
Negrek: 2nd place (130 points)
Phoenixsong: 3rd place (115 points)
Psychic: 2nd place (130 points)
Total: 490 points

Just Typical
by Tangent 128

"Good evening, my colleagues," opened Professor Kai Banyan, from the podium of the 2012 International Pokémon Science Conference.

"I will begin by apologizing to our journalist friends in attendance; as I'm sure everybody has already heard what I am officially proposing here tonight in regards to type system reform, I will not be spending very much time going over it. That can come once everybody's had time to read enough of our paper to argue.

"Rather, I thought I'd take the opportunity to remind the laymen, and perhaps our junior scientists, of the history behind the Pokémon type schema we have today.

"The division of Pokémon into "Elements" is a proud and ancient tradition, of course. Back when our League was founded in 1896, the promoters adopted the classical scheme for classifying their stars: Fire, Water, Earth, Air, and Ether. While a nice motif, these tended to only tangentially be related to actual battle performance. "Earth" in particular covered modern types as diverse as Grass, Normal, Ground, and Steel!"

Back at the ranch, Doctor Malia Banyan queued up the livestream of her husband's speech, having elected to stay home. While she did have fun at a conference now and then, the lab had been gaining notoriety of late; it wouldn't do to leave it unstaffed.

After all, at any time there could be a reporter seeking comment on their findings, a regional Pokécenter needing a second-opinion on an emergency operation, perhaps a would-be trainer rushing to take their test on the eve of Trainer's Leave...

[highlight][physec][warning] Forced Entry Detected at door "PKMN STORAGE" (pci0000:00/0000:00:13.2)[/highlight]

...or, according to the security system, a thief. The doctor grabbed her battle bag and made haste for the Pokéball storage wing.

"Every sport draws its analysts, and soon the fans and... well, let's be honest, bookies... wanted a system more amicable to setting odds. Unofficially, the Earth element was quickly split, introducing the Grass type for insect and plant-hybrid species, as well as a "mundane" Colorless type.

"The popular fascination with electrification at the time led to the Fire type quickly having the Lightning type split off, both of which have remained the least modified since.

"At the time being too broad for strategic analysis, the Air element fell into disfavor, with the more "birdlike" mons mostly being placed into Colorless, and the ghosts being lumped into the Ether class, which by the whims of language became more popularly known as the Psychic type.

"Thus, as early as 1909, seven types were in popular usage: Fire, Water, Grass, Lightning, Earth, Psychic, and Colorless."

The punk was just starting to loot when Malia reached the door. "Okay, Marill, grab anything that drops while I load up the bag- "

"Stop, thief! Kilimanjaro!"

Malia released a Torkoal, who stared down the thief and his water mouse menacingly.

The thief, for his part, seemed unimpressed. "We both know who has the advantage here, miss. Back off and we won't have to prove it."

So, she thought, he's that stupid kind of criminal...

"In 1911, the League decided to commemorate its 15th anniversary by officially adopting the fan classifications, with one addition. The Air branch of the League resisted being lumped into other classes, and they had a bit of a point- public interest in the new field of mechanical aviation led to an influx of trainers specializing in traditional falconry, the poor-man's airplane. A Bird type was added to keep the Colorless league from getting too broad-based.

"It was a bit of a hack-job, since as the strategic depth of battle increased, nearly every wing of the League developed a wide enough variety of tactics so as to render types nearly meaningless. An Earth-type Geodude could wear down a Grass-type Scyther with ease, while the Grass-type Bulbasaur could ensnare the Earth-type Diglett just as well."

"Stop him Kilimanjaro!"

To his credit, the thief reacted swiftly. "Bubblebeam!"

The Marill dashed at the tortoise, spewing a cavitated jet of water ahead of it. The Torkoal, for its part... flinched for a second to guard its eyes, then stood up proudly and breathed a defiant plume of smoke.

"What.. hey- that's wrong!"

Malia rolled her eyes. "Torkoal is classified as Fire type for its attacking abilities; with an insulating shell like that, do you really think it would have a problem with a little water? The species thrives in abandoned, WET coal mines for crying out loud! Finish it."

Kilimanjaro huffed, then directed a Heat Wave at its foe.

"You rely too much on the type chart, punk; Water-soaked species can absorb more heat via heat-of-vaporization yes, but saturate that and they're even more vulnerable to heatstroke. You don't battle professionally, do you?"

The boy scowled, releasing a Jolteon. "I'm not finished yet!"

"In an effort to regain management, types were gradually split over the next half-century, as useful divisions began to be identified. Water soon had the Ice type split off, clarifying their relations with Grass and Fire types; Psychic had the Ghosts split off at their own specialists' suggestion.

"By 1947, the postwar popularity of martial arts encouraged the formation of the Fighting type, drawing mainly from former Colorless and Earth types. By this point, though, the abundance of types was making many species increasingly hard to classify into one group of the other; the now-standard dual-typing practice became established over the next couple years."

"Kilimanjaro, tag out for Pankaja."

Malia released a Wooper, who idly blew a few bubbles before noticing the opponent.

The thief laughed- "A marshblob? Really? Waste it Jolteon!"

The Eeveelution let loose a Thunderbolt with a loud hiss, which again failed to do significant damage to its oblivious foe.

"WHAT?!" screamed the increasingly on-edge intruder, before he facepalmed. "...Ground type."

The doctor nodded. "At least I didn't have to explain that defense to you, though you really should have recalled the reason for its secondary typing. Mud-Bomb."

"The 1950s were rather conservative years, the only changes being simple renamings of the Colorless, Bird, and Lightning types to Normal, Flying, and Electric. However, those years were notable for a slow increasing interest in more rigorous science by League analysts. This became more manifest in the 60s, when biological and statistical data ensured the Rock type was finally split off from the Ground type.

(As a side note, it really frustrates me when kids-these-days conflate the two types, the Rocks' enduring-of-damage strategy verses the appropriation of environmental cover by Grounds is a pretty obvious distinction with two seconds' thought. But I digress.)

"Later in the same decade, a study of the vexing Psychic-repulsion tactics particular Grass-types possessed confirmed that the phenomenon was centered on insect Pokémon, who also tended to lack their fellows' notable moisture absorption abilities. In light of this, and to the delight of entomologists, the Bug type was formally introduced.

"By 1974, the research efforts of the League and its close collaboration with universities were crystallized, but an analytical definition of what made a "type" a "type" had not yet been fixed. A few conferences later, an official three-point scientific definition was agreed on:

  1. A given type contains both Pokémon and formalized techniques.
  2. Pokémon of the type are statistically proficient at performing techniques of that type.
  3. Moves of the type have a statistically significant effectiveness or ineffectiveness against other types.

"Though it was and still is a reflexive definition, it formalized the way for new types to be introduced.

"This process had its first graduate in 1986; Poison was a long-established tactic in battles by then, of course, but the biggest barrier to its introduction as a type before then was simply that so many species used poison in some way or another."

The Jolteon shook in disgust at the mud blobs short-circuiting its quills, turning to its master for advice.

"Fine, electricity won't work, just bite it!"

Pankaja screamed in distress as the canine bit down. <WOOP-AHH!>

The doctor smirked. "Another mistake..."

"What?!" The thief watched, dumbfounded, as his Jolteon quickly spat out the Wooper and began to sway side-to-side. Pankaja took the opportunity to hasten away.

Malia quoted the Pokédex: "When walking on land, Wooper covers its body with a poisonous film that keeps its skin from dehydrating."

With another Mud Bomb from Pankaja, the Jolteon succumbed and fainted.

"Toxicologists had long noted one particular neurotoxin, named nidotoxin after the species it was first isolated in, was in fact used as a defense by Pokémon species far and wide; its prevalence is likely a result of its chemical simplicity, debilitating (if not generally fatal) effects, and stability in inactive form. However, while many species can produce the inactive form, most only convert it into a toxin at the point it's needed- understandably so, since keeping the active form in their own systems would poison them as much as their foe.

"On the other hand, a smaller set of Pokémon species had developed a natural immunity to nidotoxin; they could keep the active toxin running through their systems with no harm. This made their poison-using attacks more potent by virtue of not needing to hold back potential self-poisoning, but also increased their vulnerability to Psychic attacks, since their immunity to the neurotoxin modified their nerve cells in a way that increased psychic sensitivity as a side-effect.

"This clearly met the standards for introduction of a new type, and so Poison finally had a class all its own. Three years later, in 1989, the Dragon type was created by a similar process.

"Fast-forward to 1998, just a hair too late for the League's 100th Anniversary, and a session of this very conference ratified the two changes that brought us our current type system. Various former-Fighting-and-Psychic types, possessing skills of trickery, supernatural abilities not on the Aura or Psychic spectra, and thought processes inscrutable to normal Psychic-types, were placed into the new Dark type. Likewise, a set of mainly-Rock types were reclassified into Steel types, for their use of iron compounds to enhance general defense at the expense of thermal conductivity."

"Are you ready to give up yet?" teased Malia as she recalled Pankaja for recovery, substituting a Vanillish. "Or will Kelvin need to soften you up?"

The thief was very put-out by that point. "Fine, if you're gonna be all haxy, I'll take you down with pure force! I have a trick of my own!"

He sent out a Cubone, who wasted no time in lifting its bone above its head for a strike.

"This little fellow learned Earthquake from his dad! Your ice cream cone's going down!"

The Cubone struck the ground with impressive force, shaking the lab with a tremor. Kelvin reacted by floating above the blastwave, and while hit by a few pieces of floor tile that were jostled upward, failed to be as devastated by the move as his opponent had hoped.


Musing out loud, Malia reminded herself, "I need to tell Juniper that her Pokédex entries on the Vanillite line neglect to label it as a Levitator..."

Returning attention to the boy, she concluded, "you've really had a bad night. You're done here."

Kelvin refrigerated the Cubone and its trainer with an Ice Beam.

"Although types have become a lot better-specified in recent decades, it is admittingly true that they are often still too broad brushes for fully capturing the nuances of battle; triple-typing has been proposed, but is likely to cause more complexity without really improving reasoning ability. My suspicion is that in the long run, we will need some major shakeup of our categories, perhaps a schema based entirely on Abilities... but that sort of complexity requires more brainpower than mine to solve. Maybe we should listen to the Eevee breeders and just introduce a type for each Eeveelution that doesn't already have a unique one; I admit I'm about to be guilty of advancing that tradition.

"For now, I make a more modest proposal, but still admittingly bold. As noted in your packets, we have identified a class of Pokémon, to date mainly found in the Normal and Psychic types, that we feel deserves promotion to a full-fledged type of its own. Perhaps their most dramatic feature is their experience in techniques curiously capable of bypassing a Dragon's defense, but I'll let you read all the details yourself in preparation of the discussion at 1PM tomorrow.

"Thank you for your time, and in advance for your consideration. Good night."

"Now then," began the doctor to her cowed intruder, "I will be calling the police; Psi will be responsible for ensuring you do not escape."

She released a Rattata with a notably enlarged skull. "Restrain them, please."

The Rattata nodded, then began to focus. Its eyes started to glow as the thief and his team were levitated into the air by psionic forces.


"She's from Holon," Malia said as she walked out the door with a chuckle. "Do I need to explain Delta Species to you as well?"



I like the twofold structure of this, with the scientific lecture intercut with the action of the battle. The idea of types being a manmade categorization system that Pokémon only imperfectly fit into is not exactly new, but you've given it detail and history, and I enjoy your efforts to combine the games' and TCG's types along with traditional elements into different stages of the evolution of the type system, with the proposed addition of the Fairy type bringing things to the modern day.

I can't help but feel the battle bits are rather cheesy and stereotypical, though, what with the generically stupid thief and the protagonist wiping the floor with him thanks to her superior knowledge while making smug lectures at him about where he's going wrong. To me, at least, it seemed to undermine the attempt at realism you're making with the actual interpretation - these very same scenes that gently poke fun at the games and the standard assumptions about types for their simplisticness and lack of sophistication are themselves presenting a pretty cartoony and simplistic conflict where the antagonist exists purely as a paragon of ignorance to be handily beaten by the protagonist. I mean, sure, some of what the thief overlooks in the battle is fairly understandably obscure, but if his own Cubone knows Earthquake, wouldn't he at some point have picked up on how the many Pokémon that float but aren't Flying-type and don't officially have the Levitate ability are still immune to it? Unless the thief has quite literally only been in a few battles in his life but has nonetheless memorized the type chart obsessively (since without relying on the chart one would assume by default that a Pokémon that floats in mid-air wouldn't be affected by something called Earthquake), he should at least know that. And despite being a criminal who has nothing to lose and is clearly outgunned, he battles fairly throughout, never resorting to even slightly underhanded tactics to facilitate his escape - he doesn't send out multiple Pokémon at a time, or get his Pokémon to create some kind of environmental distraction (Bubble, Flash) that would give him the chance to run for it. He just seems to forget that his actual goal is to escape with the loot the moment Malia sends out her Torkoal, instead turning into a cardboard cutout that flatly makes every possible mistake.

Overall, this means Malia's superiority is obvious from the start and it's hard to feel much in the way of tension. The thief and his Pokémon don't at any point feel like a real threat, and they're all defeated with only the slightest of effort on the part of Malia and her team. Thus, the battle just isn't very exciting. It's also rather tersely narrated, which may contribute somewhat, although given these scenes aren't really about the battle I wouldn't say you're in any desperate need of vivid descriptions of attacks - mostly it just doesn't really help create excitement or tension at the moment. Just having the lecture and no battle would probably be kind of dry, but as it is too much of the battle just feels like Malia lecturing the thief, with some attacks being thrown around in the background, anyway. Making the battle more dynamic and exciting would not only improve those scenes in themselves but also make them serve as a better counterpoint to the lecture.

Also, it bothers me that after the first elemental type system is split up into the original TCG types, you're still calling the TCG Fighting type Earth and only bringing about a Fighting type much later. While the name Earth is in many ways better suited to the Pokémon labeled with that type, most of the cleverness of your interpretation lies in how it integrates the different canons, and deviating from proper canon compliance in this one random instance hurts it. I guess it may have been unintentional and you simply misremembered what the type was called in the trading card game, but the effect is the same regardless.

It's a fun interpretation, though, with lots of nice details about how Pokémon types are chosen and the process by which the types came about one by one, presented pretty well. The story doesn't have much substance aside from the interpretation but it's overall an entertaining read nonetheless.


Ah, trying to make sense of pokémon's lovely type system. Your interpretation here is pretty well in line with how I think a lot of people assume things must work, but I did enjoy the way you laid it all out.

In particular, I really enjoyed the little details you sprinkled throughout this story, from the way the 1909 type system happens to exactly mirror the original TCG type system, to incorporating missingno.'s "bird" typing, to the little description of how the poison-typing works and interacts with poison's inherent psychic weakness. Even Malia's pokémon's nicknames are great. It's clear that you put a lot of thought into this.

But let's be honest: the "story" here is really just window dressing for what's essentially an essay on how type classification may have evolved in the pokémon world. You have a long info-dump in the form of the professor's presentation, and then a scene that has little to do with it running in parallel. Now, you did do a nice job of using the fight to give an idea of how typing plays out in actual battles, i.e. that despite all the time spent on it, it still fails to adequately predict a lot of individual pokémon matchups. It would have been nice if you could have done more to integrate the two halves, although I do recognize that it would be difficult to shoehorn such a comprehensive view of how the type system has evolved into a decent narrative and a reasonable number of pages.

Nonetheless, I did enjoy reading this. The writing itself is really quite nice--you have a firm command of language and managed to keep even the relatively dry "lecture" nice and lively. That part works just fine, I think, and I could imagine it as an actual lecture a professor might give to a lay audience. On the other hand, I do think you definitely could do a bit more with the framing battle; I see that you've tried to tie it in with the lecture by using it to indicate where the talk's going to go next, e.g. from wooper's toxin to the creation of the poison type, from vanillish's levitation capabilities to the idea of an ability-based type system, and so on. Nevertheless, it still does feel a little pasted on. You could do a lot more with that space to make it feel like you had a real story to tell as well as ideas about how types work to impart.

I also have to admit the thief Malia faces is a bit cartoonish for my tastes. It would have been nice to see some personality from him other than over-the-top dimwittedness--that, too, would help the battle feel more real, more meaningful, less like a sideshow to the meat of your entry. It's true that you're kind of restricted in terms of space if you don't want to completely pull the emphasis of the story away from the lecture itself. I'm not asking that you try and cram any high drama into what is essentially a humor piece, but I think that by making the thief a little more down-to-earth, you can at least make the battle a little more exciting by giving the impression that Malia may actually have something to worry about when it comes to taking him down.

Overall, I thought this was a fun little story, and while I do wish there was more story to it, the depth and color of your interpretation are strong enough to carry the piece on their own, I think. While they didn't add a whole ton to the piece, I don't think the narrative bits actively detracted from it, either, and at least you didn't dwell on them overlong--the cracks would definitely have started to show if you'd lingered over those parts. Nicely done.


This was an unusual one—I didn't expect anything like the history of the type chart from any of the entries, and so this caught me pleasantly off-guard. You had a lot of clever ideas about how the current type system might have developed, such as the incorporation of the TCG types and the influence the League had over the years, and the lecture Professor Banyan gave was interesting and detailed without being dry. It did seem like he got a little too informal at times, though. I feel like a professor wouldn't use "mon" instead of "pokémon" in a lecture (although maybe that's just my inexplicable personal dislike for that shorthand talking), and "eeveelution" might be pushing it a little as well. On that note, I'm a little curious as to what you meant when you said "a type for each eeveelution that doesn't already have one". Is that meant to imply that there are additional eeveelutions beyond sylveon out there somewhere? ;)

Aside from the formality blips the lecture was fascinating and well thought-out, but here's where we run into the problem with this entry: it's still just a lecture, an essay on pokémon types, and an essay isn't a fanfic. You tried to spice it up by sprinkling in scenes of Malia Banyan's battle with the intruder, and you tried using those scenes to further illustrate the complexity of the type chart, but the battle just wasn't very interesting on its own and leaves you with a story that has nothing happening in its meatiest and most engaging part.

There are a few ways you can try to fix this:

-Devote more time to the battle scenes. As it stands they feel uncomfortably short, flat and repetitive—each one can be summed up as "thief gets cocky, Malia goes lolnope, thief facepalms"—and outside of the torkoal vs. marill exchange you didn't do much to make any of the other "weird type interactions" stand out (though the Holon reference at the end was cool). For a while I wanted to suggest just doing away with the battle entirely and finding some other way to spice up the lecture itself, but I think there is potential here and it just needs a bit more variation and a bit more time spent playing with the type chart subversions to really come into its own. Even spending a little more time describing the attacks and their (potentially unexpected) effects as they happen, rather than having Malia explain after the fact every time, would make this more engaging. If you cut out most of Malia's taunting and the thief's frustrated shouts it'd help some with the repetition, too.

-Tie the two scenes together. At the moment they're just two things that happen, which makes sense given they are technically unrelated and in two separate locations, but it might still be interesting to have them play off of one another here and there. For example, we hear that Kai and Malia are husband and wife, but nothing ever comes of that. Why not have Kai's cellphone buzz just before he starts the lecture, alerting him to a security breach in the lab? He checks the phone, maybe sees a shot from the security cameras, then decides he doesn't need to worry about it because his wife is a BAMF who can totally take some punk kid. That would also get us excited about how Malia will battle. (I do have to wonder about the effectiveness of the security system if Malia is the only thing standing between the kid and all those pokémon, though.)

There are probably plenty of other things you could try, so feel free to experiment a bit more and go with whatever you feel adds a little more life to the battle and even the lecture.

Your writing looks solid aside from a few typos ("one group of the other" on page 3) and awkward phrasing ("screamed the increasingly on-edge intruder", also page 3), as well as some missing punctuation here and there; it never gets too bad, but more careful proofreading should catch most of these as they are fairly simple. You also did a few strange things like including parentheses in the dialogue and even the narration, which I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to do. In the dialogue you already have Banyan saying the words "as a side note"—that's enough to set it off from the rest of the speech without unnecessary punctuation.

I really did like this entry, and I think that what you did well you did very well. I could have liked it even more if additional care had been taken with the battle and with some of the description and narration; they take some of the finish and excitement off of what was otherwise an awesome theory.


Pokémon typing was another subject I wasn’t expecting to see, and was pleasantly surprised by. I enjoyed your interpretation of the evolution of Pokémon classification – it seems logical, and it’s nice seeing how methodical you made it seem. You also had an interesting idea of interspersing a fairly unexciting scientific conference with a battle. A conference is definitely not a setting you see often in fan fiction.

Going back between the conference and battle did a lot for the story – it had a good flow to it, and the battle scenes made the info-dumping a lot more tolerable and easy to digest, since it cut those bits into nice, bite-sized chunks. Unfortunately, the battle itself felt fairly unexciting. There isn’t a lot of description of the setting or characters, but the descriptions of attacks were especially lackluster. Cubone uses Earthquake, which sends up floor tiles as small projectiles, but there’s no description of other mayhem it might cause in a lab, such as sending equipment or glass vials crashing to the floor. You say Vanillish used Ice Beam, so show the it gathering ice crystals in its mouth before releasing a heavy spray that envelops both trainer and Pokémon, encasing them in shimmering ice.

Malia’s section overall only half made sense. It makes sense for someone to stay behind and man the lab, but it’s unlikely the press would be there if a huge conference is currently taking place, and all the experts are gathered there. Also, exactly what the thief is hoping to accomplish isn’t really explained – he’s stealing Pokémon, but why? Why steal from a bunch of scientists? I also just wish the scene had been set up better – what does the lab look like? What kind of tech is in it? What time of day was it? What did the thief look like?

I was also disappointed that you gave a whole explanation of the history of typing, but skimped out on going into detail about Fairy. A panelist should give some amount of detail on their findings, not just say “read my paper and we’ll talk about it tomorrow.” That, and I was just really curious about what you think maybes this type distinct.

There were many little things I really liked. Of course, the overall idea that there’s more to Pokémon than just type advantages (as seen with Torkoal) was really interesting, and I would have liked to see more examples of that, especially since the thief forgetting Wooper was part ground-type felt like a bit of a cop-out. That said, the use of Wooper’s toxic film (especially in conjunction with the explanation about how, in essence, most Pokémon can use the move Toxic) was a very nice touch. I also appreciated how you had bits of culture and history interspersed here and there, such as the allusions to a war. Also, mad props for the Holon reference at the end – nobody ever remembers that card set!

The grammar is overall good, aside from missing some commas, such as when someone is being addressed. You also tend to misuse dashes, adding them to conjoin words that work independently of one another. Also, I’m not sure what the word “cavitated” means.
a regional Pokécenter needing a second-opinion
An example where you don’t need the dash.

more "birdlike" mons mostly being placed into Colorless
I would write it as ‘mons.

The thief laughed- "A marshblob? Really? Waste it Jolteon!"
The dash should be a period or comma – you don’t really need a dash during a dialogue tag. That said, “marshblob” should be hyphenated since it’s two words. This is also a case where you need a comma, because someone is being directly addressed.

I really liked this idea. It was different, it was presented in a way that keeps the audience’s attention, it explores a topic we really don’t think about, and it shows how typing isn’t everything. There were areas that could have had a bit more thought put into them, but overall I enjoyed this fic, simple and short as it was.


Just me
1st place: Defeatist by elyvorg

Dragonfree: 1st place (150 points)
Negrek: 1st place (150 points)
Phoenixsong: 2nd place (130 points)
Psychic: 1st place (150 points)
Total: 580 points


“Archeops! Show it how acrobatic you are!”

“Gladly!” I call in reply to my trainer; he doesn’t understand me, but I know he can hear the eagerness in my voice. With a brief grin at the Scolipede before me, I shoot off to the side, grab onto a tree at the edge of our battling space and rebound back off it, flicking my wings to twist around in a series of spiralling loop-the-loops, each one bolstering my speed and power. From the corner of my eye I can see my opponent frantically trying to follow me with its gaze as it readies its own attack. I don’t even give it the chance, zooming towards another tree trunk and then springing from it with all my gathered speed and slamming one of my wings into the huge magenta centipede.

My blow sends it toppling over to the side, the nasty purple glow that had formed on its jagged tails already fading. A weak groan of “Wha…” escapes it before it hits the ground with a heavy thud, its eyes falling closed.

“Ha!” I crow triumphantly. I can tell it won’t be getting up again this battle. A red glow duly envelops the Scolipede as its trainer recalls it, while I circle back around to hover in place in front of my own trainer with rapid flaps of my wings.

It feels so great to be able to fly like this. I spent so long as an Archen valiantly flapping my feathered arms without ever getting anywhere, but this… this is practically effortless in comparison.

I can see the other trainer eyeing me closely. It’s hard to tell for certain, but with my growing experience of human expressions, I’m fairly sure she looks impressed.

“Nice Pokémon,” she says to my trainer. “Where’d you get it?”

“He’s from a fossil,” my trainer replies. “Some backpacker in the Relic Castle gave it to me, then I got him resurrected in Nacrene City.”

Ah, yes, my ‘fossil’. My trainer’s tried to explain it to me, but I never quite understood what he was talking about. Apparently I used to live millions of years ago, before humans even existed. But if I had, wouldn’t I remember it? All I’ve ever known is him. It doesn’t really make sense.

“Huh,” the female trainer says after a pause. “Cool. I didn’t know you could get Pokémon out of fossils.”

“Well, now you know,” my trainer replies. “Anyway, weren’t we battling?”

I see the girl grin. “Yeah, we were.” She eyes me again for a moment before throwing another Pokéball out in front of her. “Emolga, let’s do this!”

The shape that forms out of the white glow is smaller than I’d expected. It’s a tiny little squirrel-like thing, white and yellow and black, and, somehow, it’s flying, gliding around in circles using the flaps of skin on its arms. That doesn’t really seem fair, to me – those flaps can’t be any bigger than my feathers when I was an Archen, so how come this thing can fly when I couldn’t back then? Mostly, though, I’m just amused by how small it is. This shouldn’t be too hard at all, especially considering how I just took down a huge great Scolipede in one hit.

“Hey there, fellow flier,” the Emolga says to me, a hint of mischief in its voice, and as it circles around again I can see its yellow cheeks letting out a crackle of sparks.

Oh. It’s an Electric-type, is it? That explains why its trainer chose it, but even so, it hardly seems a threat. I glance back at my trainer to make sure I shouldn’t be worried. He’s smirking as he catches my eye and gives me a nod. It’s fine, then. He knows I can do this. And so do I.

Grinning, I turn back to the Emolga as my trainer gives a command of “Rock Slide!”

I see the opposing trainer’s eyes widen as I begin to concentrate. “What? No! Quick, Emolga, use Volt Switch! Don’t get hit by the rocks!”

I don’t blame her for being surprised that I’m a Rock-type; I’d be surprised I was a Rock-type if I couldn’t feel how little effort it takes to will boulders into being above the Emolga’s flight path. It feels like a completely natural part of me, somehow. But I’ve seen other Rock-types in my time, and most of them are made of… well, rock.

Something flickers in the corner of my eye. A ball of light – electricity, probably – seems to have formed in the air behind me. But there’s no need to worry about that; there’s plenty of boulders hanging in place now, so I let them drop. The Emolga beneath them yelps in alarm and darts from side to side to avoid the falling rocks with a nimbleness I’d never have thought possible from ‘wings’ that small. A similar ball of light is following behind it as it weaves in and out and around my rocks, dodging every one. The last of them crash to the ground without so much as a scratch left on their target.

Damn it. That happens sometimes.

Before I can think anything else, electric pain suddenly courses through me. Fighting through it with a groan of exertion, I force myself to look across to the Emolga, seeing a line of lightning connecting us – no, connecting the orbs of light behind us, shooting straight through me and my opponent. Instead of seeming hurt, the Emolga is being wrapped in a warm red glow – Pokéball light, I realise, as it turns shapeless and vanishes and suddenly the pain stops.

I breathe in relief, flapping vigorously a few times to regain some height. Even electric-type as it was, that wasn’t so bad. I can take another hit like that without fainting, I know. I glance at my trainer; he grins back encouragingly.

“Okay,” says the female trainer slowly, peering at me as she pulls out another Pokéball – I don’t suppose she’s ever seen a Rock-type this feathery before. “Okay, I get it.” She throws the ball with a cry of, “Simipour, I choose you!”

The Pokémon emerging this time is at least a more respectable size, about half as tall as its trainer, and a similar kind of shape, too. Then the light fades from it to reveal a monkey with a cheerful smile on its face, and my hopes for a fiercer foe are somewhat dashed. From the pale blue colouring it has, I can guess it might be a Water-type, but even so, it’s not exactly the most intimidating thing in the world.

Drips fly from its dreadlocks as it shakes them out and waves at me. “Hi!”

“Scald!” its trainer commands without missing a beat.

“Okay, Archeops, use Acrobatics!” comes my trainer’s order.

The Simipour starts to inhale, but I’m already away, zooming at a tree, rebounding, twisting, looping, letting out a laugh of joy as I do so – Acrobatics is so much more fun to use now I can fly – before darting towards the monkey and slamming into it with all my momentum. It cries out as it skids backwards and tumbles across the ground.

“Hi to you too,” I reply.

The Simipour manages to force itself up – that cheery expression still hasn’t left its face – and chooses to spray a jet of steaming water at me instead of continuing the conversation.

It hurts. Not the heat – I’d have been able to handle it if it were just the heat – but the wetness, splashing all over me and soaking my feathers and seeping into every pore of my body. There’s no doubt I’m a Rock-type here; being covered in water shouldn’t feel so hideous, but it does. The world twists as something large and flat crashes into me, and it takes me a moment to realise that it’s the ground and that somewhere in the midst of all this I stopped flying.

I push myself upright with horribly sodden wings and make myself look over to the Simipour, my limbs shaking even though I’m the opposite of cold right now. It’s still standing there, exactly the same blue monkey as before – but something makes my breath catch in my throat as I look at it. It doesn’t look friendly and harmless any more. Weakened and in pain as I am, this creature could easily finish me off.

I try to ignore those thoughts, take a leap into the air and start flapping my wings to get airborne again, but my feathers are still soaked and everything hurts. It takes a lot more frantic flapping than usual to stay in the air. It shouldn’t matter; I still want to win this battle. And all battling Pokémon have to be ready to take a certain amount of pain, don’t they?

That thought isn’t any comfort. I can feel the familiar twinge of panic growing at the back of my mind, but I try to block it out, try to focus on my opponent.

The Simipour looks just as hurt as I am, but it’s still smiling. How is it doing that?

“Acrobatics again,” my trainer orders, but there’s that underlying tone in his voice, the one he has every time. He knows what’s happening.

“Try and dodge it if you can, then another Scald!” says the opposing trainer.

I have to take a deep breath to stave off the rising panic, force my shaking wings to flap as vigorously as possible to begin the twisting flight I need. Bouncing off that tree branch, spiralling through the air – it’s all so much harder than I know it should be, and not because of the pain. Everything is screaming at me to stay away from this creature that wants to hurt me. I almost flinch and turn back before my final dive towards the Simipour, but somehow I keep it going, tensing up involuntarily as I strike it in the face with my wing.

Then I’m away from there as fast as I can, back to my trainer’s side, desperately hoping the foe won’t send more water my way. I can tell my attack was weaker than usual – I knew it would be, like always – but so long as it was enough to finish it, that’s all that matters right now.

It was enough, just: the Simipour’s eyes roll into the back of its head as it keels over, unconscious. My heart rises just a little in relief as I watch the creature dissolve into red light and return to its ball. No more water. I’m safe, for the moment.

Part of me wants to flee from here right now, before something else is sent out to threaten me again. But I force the feeling down, because I know how stupid it is. I’m supposed to keep battling as long as I’m able to, as long as the opposing trainer still has Pokémon left. That’s how it works. It shouldn’t matter how hard I’m finding this; my trainer still needs me.

I can’t bring myself to look at him. Even though it was still enough, I know he can tell that that last Acrobatics was weaker, and I know the way he must be looking at me right now. It’s always the same look, like he doesn’t want to be disappointed in me, but he just can’t help being so.

I’m still fighting to keep myself aloft with these horribly sodden, shuddering wings of mine. This always happens, every time I get this hurt, and I don’t understand why.

A bright flash brings my attention back to the battle; the other trainer has already sent out her next Pokémon. A flying creature, small but swift, gliding around effortlessly on wings half the size of mine, its cheeks sparking with the promise of fierce lightning. Black and yellow: the colours of danger. It’s the Emolga from before – I know it is – but right now it seems so much worse. I can hardly believe that this is the same creature I’d been so amused by earlier. How had I felt sure of my victory back then? This thing is still a threat, however small it may be.

“Okay, Emolga,” says the female trainer. “I think he might be burned, but just to be safe, use Double Team.”

That makes no sense. I don’t feel burned. She must be trying to trick me; that’s why she ordered Double Team, too. Trying not to get thrown off, I make myself face the Emolga to keep track of it, and as I do I see something round and yellow held in one of its paws. I hadn’t noticed it before – hadn’t needed to – but right now that could be my lifeline.

I can hear my trainer shift behind me – he must have noticed it too, as he calls out a single word: “Pluck!”

I barely need telling. My mind cringes in protest, but I push past it and shoot towards the Emolga as fast as possible, while there’s still only one of it, jabbing for the berry with my beaklike jaws. I can tell it’s a clumsy, half-hearted attack, but all I care about is the fruit. I manage to pry it away from the Emolga and crunch down on it, the juices filling my mouth, sweet relief flowing through my aching body…

…and all at once I’m back to myself again. With a screech of glee, I throw a loop-the-loop into my flight as I return to my trainer’s side of the field. When I look back at the Emolga, there’s three of it there, gliding around in circles, but I still have to stifle a snort. It’s only a tiny little squirrel! What on earth was I so worried about just a moment ago? I catch my trainer’s eye, and he smiles back at me encouragingly.

I can see the Emolga’s trainer peering at me, looking confused, if I’m reading her right. “But… that was a Sitrus berry, not a Rawst berry,” she says slowly. “Why’s he better all of a sudden?”

It takes my trainer a moment to respond. “No-one ever said he was burned,” he says eventually and leaves it at that. And he’s right to – it doesn’t matter one bit, now that I’m back. “Anyway, Archeops – Rock Slide!”

The opposing trainer’s eyes widen as I begin to summon the rocks. Too right – she’s still got a fight on her hands. That little squirrel of hers won’t know what hit it, if I can just figure out which of the three it is and land the hit this time.

“Quick Attack!” she calls, and before I can react, a black-and-yellow blur zooms at me, catching me full in the chest and knocking the wind out of me.

I gasp in pain and falter in my flight, the rocks that are forming above the Emolga shuddering with me. This is mad; that attack barely hurt at all, and yet that’s all it took for the panic to creep over me and take hold again. I try to shake it off, to ignore it and focus on forming the rocks, thinking about how easy it’s supposed to feel – but it’s so much harder to concentrate right now when my mind’s screaming at me to flee, to get to safety, to not aggravate the enemy further.

I try as hard as I can, but there’s still less rocks there than usual as I let them drop onto the three circling Emolga, hoping desperately that they at least hit the real one. They do: it lets out a piercing squeal as it’s pummelled by the stones and slammed into the ground. All I can think of as I watch it is how glad I am that that’s not happening to me.

Briefly, I hope it might be over, that perhaps that’ll be the last Pokémon and I’ll be able to stop – but the Emolga isn’t finished yet. It pushes itself to its feet, its hazy Double Team clones flickering back into sharpness and following it as it leaps back into the air and continues its constant circling. All three of it are watching me.

I hear a sigh from my trainer that almost hurts more than the pain from battle. “Archeops,” he says, barely trying to hide his disappointment. “That should have one-shotted it. Why are you being all defeatist like this?”

Defeatist. That’s what he calls it, my ‘ability’, the reason this happens every time. But I’m not; I’m really not. It’s so much harder to keep going right now, but I haven’t given up. I would never give up on winning for him, no matter what.

“I’m trying,” I try and tell him, but he won’t understand me. For all he knows I just agreed that I really am a defeatist.

I can’t let him think that. Cawing as loudly and defiantly as I can – though it still comes out wavering – I make myself look across at my foe. All three Emolga catch my eye and give me what should just be a playful smile but looks nothing short of a predatory grin. I do my best to suppress my shudder; I don’t want my trainer to see that this is getting to me.

“Huh – he’s given up?” says the female trainer, but she’s wrong; she’s so wrong. “Finish it with a Shock Wave, then, Emolga!”

“Come on, Archeops; another Rock Slide!” orders my trainer.

I try; I really do, focusing as hard as I can on getting those rocks into place above the Emolga. But as I look in its direction to do so, I see all three of them charging the crackling, snapping, vicious electricity that’ll be coming my way. I’m already hurting all over, my wings still skin-crawlingly damp, shaking as I hover in place. The thought of taking that attack in my current state fills me with dread.

There’s less rocks than there should be as I let them fall.

It doesn’t even matter, in the end, because they miss, falling harmlessly through one of the Double Team clones. That’s almost better – a miss is something that could happen any time, something that isn’t down to me not being stronger. Except it isn’t better at all, because it means that the real Emolga, still unharmed, gets to unleash its attack, and a wave of electricity shoots outwards from it in all directions as I watch helplessly.

I try and brace myself for it, but then it reaches me and my vision blanks out and I’m screaming and everything is pain. It feels like an age, though I know it must be barely a moment. As it dies down, I’m in a heap on the ground, shivering, hurting. Vulnerable. The Emolga are still circling above me idly, as if that were no big deal, what it just did to me. It could so, so easily finish me off. Fleetingly, miserably, I wish I could flee.

But I’m still conscious, which means the battle isn’t over yet. I can’t let him think I’ve given up.

Clinging to that one thought, I drag myself up off the ground, leap and flap as hard as I can just to keep myself airborne.

“Try again, Archeops. One more Rock Slide,” says my trainer. His tone is quieter now, less frustrated with me, and that helps, just a little.

“Quick Attack!” comes the other trainer’s reply.

Fear flits freely around my mind, so much that I can barely think, but I fight through it to latch onto one thought: rocks. I barely even notice the Emolga slam into me, insignificant among the rest of the pain. All that matters is that I make the rocks appear. So long as there’s some, it might just be enough to take down the foe – but more importantly, it’ll mean I’m not giving up.

There’s still not many, but they’re there, and as they crash down into the Emolga’s body I sag with relief that they hit the real one. This time, it doesn’t get up again, and the red light takes it away. I still managed to defeat it, despite everything.

I so badly want to land for a moment to rest, but I can’t let him see that, so I don’t. I keep staring straight ahead, barely taking in the opposing trainer. A shiver of apprehension creeps over me as a bright flash of light heralds her next Pokémon.

“Krokorok, you’re up!”

The shape that forms is far, far bigger than the Emolga – still smaller than me, but barely. The light fades, revealing a thick, powerful tail, sharp claws, and worst, huge jaws that it bares at me with a savage, bone-shaking roar. There are far too many teeth in there.

I almost freeze up and fall out of the air just thinking of the ease with which it could tear me apart. It won’t – I know it won’t; this is just a friendly battle. But it’s in moments like this that I think I understand, just a little bit more, what my trainer means when he says I used to live in a time long since gone. Staring at this creature decked out with natural weapons, I can almost picture a world full of equally frightening monsters, where everything can kill me and most are happy to do so. In such a world, being ‘defeatist’ wouldn’t be a bad thing – it would keep me alive.

The Krokorok gives me a grin that is all fangs. “Scared?”

Yes. I really, really am. It’s pathetic of me – I haven’t felt this way since I was a tiny Archen – but all I want to do right now is leap into my trainer’s arms, cling to him, let him protect me. I’ve always felt safest with him.

But it’s for his sake that I’m fighting this battle. I can’t let him down. So I glare back at the Krokorok and all its teeth and shake my head as defiantly as I can. Its grin just widens; it can tell how badly I’m lying.

“Crunch!” calls its trainer. I can’t even hide my shudder at the thought of those fangs.

“Okay, Archeops,” says my trainer, still in that warm, encouraging voice – could he have noticed how scared I am? Is he trying to help me? “We might still have this, if you can just hit it with your strongest Acrobatics.”

My heart sinks. He doesn’t understand at all. If he did, he’d know not to hope for this. My attacks get weaker when I’m afraid; right now there’s no way I could achieve even close to my strongest hit. All I’ll be doing is putting myself in range of those jaws.

But if I don’t even try, that really would be defeatist of me. I can’t let that be.

I draw in a shuddering breath, muster up as much strength as I can drag together through the pain and the fear, and set off. Each twist, each turn, each loop, I’m hounded by the dizzying, mind-numbing knowledge that I’m willingly approaching this predator in such a weakened state. I can’t believe I’m doing this. It’s going to eat me. Why am I just giving myself to it like this?

I slam my wing into the Krokorok’s side and know it’s so much weaker than the attack could have been, but I don’t care. It doesn’t mean I’m defeatist. Just landing that hit was the hardest thing in the world.

Then I scream as fangs sink into my side and hold me helpless in their grip. Terror floods my mind for a brief but endless moment until everything goes mercifully black.



I think this could stand to be a bit subtler. As it is, it feels kind of repetitive: first we're shown very thoroughly through Archeops's battling how Defeatist works and learn it's his ability and that Nate doesn't understand it; then we see Nate trying to talk to him because he doesn't understand it and Archeops explains to us in the narration again how Defeatist works; and then we see Nate realize how Defeatist works and spell it out while berating himself for how he didn't understand it. We're essentially being told three whole separate times how the ability works and how Nate fails to understand it, and that makes it feel like it's being beaten over our heads a bit.

That's not exactly to say you should just cut a scene. For the purposes of the narrative and interpretation, they all play a part in telling the story: the first shows how it works through Archeops's eyes, the second shows how he thinks of it entirely differently afterwards and expands upon how Nate sees things, and the third provides resolution and closure to the central conflict. But I think you might want to cut some redundant bits. I don't think most of the second scene is necessary, to be honest - the first scene has already established that Nate misunderstands the ability, that Defeatist really consists of being gripped with terror when he's hurt, and that he pushes on anyway despite his fear because he really wants to do well for Nate. So if I were you I'd try to focus less on reestablishing those things and more on the new parts: that Archeops feels completely differently about the battle once he's healed and back to his regular self, that Nate knows Archeops has a hindering ability but is still frustrated because he thinks it means Archeops is not even trying to do his best, and that Archeops is devastated Nate would think that. And Nate probably doesn't need to reiterate for us explicitly in the third scene that Archeops's attacks get weaker because it's harder to fight when you want to run away: the first scene showed that perfectly adequately.

I also feel the end of the second scene is a bit off. It appears to hastily try to wrap up the story and establish that Archeops is no longer worried about Nate not understanding his ability, which makes sense in light of the fact that I happen to know you originally ended the story there (for the record, I think the third scene is a considerably better ending for this story and that it adds a lot to it, so I agree with the decision to include it). But given that you ended up including the third scene, the story makes less sense and is less satisfying with that weird, premature attempt at wrap-up than otherwise. To start with it just seems rather abrupt for Archeops to suddenly appear to stop minding that Nate doesn't understand Defeatist simply because he's said it's okay so long as he's trying. It should definitely reassure him somewhat, but the fact remains that he's fundamentally misunderstanding the reasons for Archeops's declining performance when he's hurt, and it seems natural for that to still bother Archeops even if he feels better knowing that Nate will accept him either way. Worse, though, is that the fact you do seem to establish Archeops as just being perfectly content with Nate not knowing how Defeatist actually works at the end of that scene doesn't rhyme with the idea that he'd then shortly afterwards go to extremes he hasn't gone to before to make him understand, as he does in the third scene.

So it seems to me the story would flow a lot more smoothly if the second scene ended with Archeops feeling pretty desperate or at least sad about Nate's misunderstanding of what's going on, even if he also feels reassured that Nate accepts him no matter what - that leads directly into the third scene where he decides to let Nate see him in that vulnerable Defeatist state, by not only establishing why he feels safe doing it now but also why he feels he needs to do it now.

I've always felt vaguely that your third person is better than your first, and here where we can see them side by side in the same story talking about the same characters, I feel it pretty strongly. I still find it hard to pinpoint and articulate exactly what the issue is, beyond that I guess your first person feels kind of third-person-esque. It might have to do with how you describe things - it doesn't seem as focused around the narrator's POV as it should be in first person, using more advanced vocabulary and detail than they otherwise do or than sounds like natural inner perception of what's going on. Sometimes it feels like that and other times it really is very focused on what they're thinking, which may also contribute - the inconsistency jars a bit. But since I can't be more specific about what the problem is, I won't hammer on that. It's just something to think about.

If I didn't happen to know that Defeatist's Japanese name strongly implies this (or something very much like it) is how the ability works, I'd probably find it somewhat contrived or handwavy how you have Nate just say the professor who named it has a lot to answer for. I'm not entirely sure if I really think this is an issue in the story or not - it is perfectly plausible that people would start to call the ability 'Defeatist' simply because that seems to describe its effects, without feeling the need to first make sure that's what the Pokémon's actual thought process is - but I guess the way you say it right now sounds more dismissive than it ought to. Knowing about the Japanese name, it comes out as a fourth-wall-leaning jab at why on earth the translators translated it this way, but without knowing about it, I suspect it would come out more as if you're simply waving away canon that appears to contradict your theory.

Anyway, otherwise this is a good story about an interesting interpretation that makes a lot of sense. The battle feels kind of long, but every part of it, more or less, is showcasing some new aspect of your interpretation of the ability, so it's hard to say any part of it should just be cut. The pronounced difference in mentality between healthy and hurt Archeops is lovely - it colors all of his thinking delightfully, from how he perceives his opponents to the battle itself (one of my favorite bits is when, after being healed, Archeops is again thinking of the battle as that awesome one where he beat three opposing Pokémon on his own, having completely lost the visceral emotion of the memory of being Crunched by that Krokorok and all that). I also really enjoyed how the opposing trainer, who had never battled an Archeops, drew logical (but wrong) conclusions from what she was seeing and acted accordingly - thinking through what bit characters like that would actually be thinking is something a lot of authors don't really bother with and it gives the story a little bit extra. And last but definitely not least, the way you portray the trainer-Pokémon relationship between Nate and Archeops is really sweet, especially in the third scene - I just melted at "You're even stronger than I thought you were."


Well, out of all the entries received, this is definitely the one that looks most like what I was expecting to get. You do a nice job of making the element you're interpreting central to the story without turning this into "let's talk about how I think defeatist works for thirteen pages." So, nice job integrating the "story" and "interpretation" parts of this contest. I also like that you slid in a little suggestion that defeatist is an evolutionary strategy that would help archeops flee from situations where they were in serious danger.

On the other hand, I didn't really like that you slid that tidbit in while Archeops was terrified out of his mind, staring down a very toothy krokorok that's shortly going to be doing its damndest to dismember him. It seems like under those conditions his mind might be occupied with questions other than how his ability might have been useful in prehistoric times. It might also have worked if you'd written this in past tense and made it clear that those musings were a part of his commentary on past events, rather than in-the-moment thoughts. But since this part of the story is written in present tense, it's supposed to be Archeop's thoughts right now, in this moment, the moment where the krokorok is standing right there, smiling a toothy smile (and using the intimidate ability?). I'm skeptical that Archeops' thoughts would be that abstract, analytical, and distant from my, what big teeth it has at that particular moment. Perhaps you could have found a calmer time for Archeops to make that speculation?

That sort of thing happened a lot during the battle, and I think it really dragged down the action. I don't know about you, but when I'm scared, I don't spend a great deal of time thinking about how scared I am, or about anything much more than where I can hide or how I can get away from whatever it is I'm afraid of. When I'm panicked I can't think at all, and will even do stupid things like end up running straight at the thing I was trying to get away from in the first place. I would expect to have even more trouble introspecting in the middle of a battle, where there's already not much time to think while you have to pay attention to your trainer's commands, prep your attacks, and try to avoid your opponent's moves. So the Archeops going on and on about how much he wants to run away and how scared he is and so on actually makes his fear less convincing to me than if you'd let it go a little more understated.

On top of that, it also seriously undermines the flow of the battle itself. The Archeops spends a lot more time expounding on how uncomfortable the fight is making him feel than actually fighting, which leaves long gaps between the moments of action where attacks are actually exchanged. This dilates in-story time, so it feels like the battle is turning into a shonen fight scene where the characters spend eighty percent of their time having flashbacks, giving each other speeches, or powering up. You haven't got the kind of splashy visuals that manage to keep those kinds of scenes interesting (...sometimes), so I think you want to focus on trimming the fat and keeping the battle as fast-paced as possible. I think you can accomplish this in part by reducing redundancy.

Don't get me wrong--I love how clearly you delineated between Archeops in his non-defeatist state and after his ability had been activated. In particular, I like how his perception of the battle shifts, how, for example, he goes from focusing on how small the emolga is to how it's "the colors of danger," and starts viewing the simipour's smile as creepy, for example. It gets your point across nicely, adds character, and doesn't take up much space. What I had a problem with is that you then tend to add a sentence or two that summarizes what Archeops was feeling, even though you'd already well implied it. Consider this paragraph, for example:

A bright flash brings my attention back to the battle; the other trainer has already sent out her next Pokémon. A flying creature, small but swift, gliding around effortlessly on wings half the size of mine, its cheeks sparking with the promise of fierce lightning. Black and yellow: the colours of danger. It’s the Emolga from before--I know it is--but right now it seems so much worse. I can hardly believe that this is the same creature I’d been so amused by earlier. How had I felt sure of my victory back then? This thing is still a threat, however small it may be.
Like I said, we get a taste of Archeops' nerves right off the bat from how he describes the emolga--his outlook on it has clearly changed. Given that, do you really need "now it seems so much worse" and "This thing is still a threat..."? I think you're just making explicit something the reader already knows... which is fine, if you really need to drive home that point, but in this case, you go on to expound on how much worse the emolga is and how much of a threat it is for at least another page over the course of the battle. Consider the paragraph with those bits removed:

A bright flash brings my attention back to the battle; the other trainer has already sent out her next Pokémon. A flying creature, small but swift, gliding around effortlessly on wings half the size of mine, its cheeks sparking with the promise of fierce lightning. Black and yellow: the colours of danger. It’s the Emolga from before--I know it is--but I can hardly believe that this is the same creature I’d been so amused by earlier. How had I felt sure of my victory back then?
I think you don't really lose anything with this version. I actually would take issue with "the other trainer has already sent out her next Pokémon," too, but that would require a little restructuring to make it work.

It doesn't usually get as clear-cut as in this case, where I can ask, "is this entire sentence really necessary?", but on the whole I feel like you really lay it on thick. By the end of the battle section, I had definitely picked up on the fact that Archeops was afraid; I'm pretty sure I would have been able to see his fear from space. You stated and restated it so many times, in so many different ways, that I felt like I was getting beaten over the head with it. I think it's more appropriate to show that kind of thing through how Archeops perceives the world than through introspection, for the reasons I've outlined above--and man, did he introspect during that battle. I was honestly pretty glad to see that part of the story end.

However, while that effect was clearest to me during the battle portion, it wasn't limited to that segment. Overall it seems to me like you think you have to spell out how the reader ought to feel about different parts of the story: "Look, this part is DRAMATIC, and this part is CUTE. See how cute? Cute!" And yes, the end bit, where Archeops and his trainer are cuddling, is very cute. But come to sentences like this:

"You’re amazing, Archeops," Nate said, and though he’d told his Pokémon this countless times before, he’d never meant it as much as now.
...and I just feel like you're laying it on too thick. Really, countless times? And he'd never meant it this much? Is "You're amazing, Archeops" really not sweet enough by itself? Throwing in that extra description feels like you're trying too hard, like you're not confident that the rest of what you wrote is good enough by itself, and you need to stretch a bit for it to really be impactful. To me that sentence looks like a cousin to, "This is the best [thing] ever!" and friends... trite and overly superlative, and not in keeping with how people usually reflect on their own experiences.

Like I said, I think your story and characters come through just fine in their words and actions; for the most part the commentary simply summarizes what the rest implies and, in my opinion, runs it into the ground. It definitely has its upsides: unlike some of the other entries to this contest, I am not left scratching my head at the end of this, wondering what you expected me to get out of it. I feel like I know unambiguously the effects of defeatist and what you wanted me to be thinking at various points in the story. I think you really tried too hard to spell things out, though, and that the time you took to do so turned the story, and the battle part especially, a bit sludgy.

Now, I know that's some pretty specific criticism of style rather than content, and that I myself absolutely err too far on the side of making things so ambiguous that the reader actually doesn't know what's going on, so I'm obviously biased, and probably too far, in the other direction. But ultimately I think I'm not alone as a reader in not wanting to get lost as I work my way through the story... but also not wanting to feel like I'm being dragged along or having my opinions put on rails. I like the illusion that I'm arriving at the destination you want me to by my own path.

Other than that, I was just curious as to why you switched to past tense and the trainer's point of view for the last section of the story. It's a big switch, and I don't know what it was about this part that you thought you wouldn't have been able to get across by sticking with what Archeops was going through (in the present tense).

But all that said, this is a solid entry, and it fulfilled the spirit of the contest quite nicely. I got a lot more nitpicky with it than I did with most of the entries... otherwise I wouldn't have much to say aside from "good work!"


You handled multiple personalities in a single pokémon very well when I read your earlier contest entry about the dodrio, and you've done just as admirably this time. Archeops went beyond just expressing its fear and into noticing small details and subtle changes that really spoke to the shifts in his mood. In particular I admired the way you chose the pokémon and moves that figured into the story. You had Archeops facing goofy pokémon and cutesy pokémon and menacing pokémon that not only fit those roles but could easily be reimagined as something different (indomitable instead of friendly, swift and dangerous instead of small and awkward). Using scald so the opposing trainer would confuse the effects of a burn with the effects of defeatist was also clever. Most of the other entries accomplished whatever they needed to accomplish with whichever pokémon and attacks they used, but these choices feel deliberate and crafted and I like that a lot. I'm a sucker for the little things.

On the one hand I liked the way you handled the changes in Archeops's personality, as said above. The part where he thinks "Oh, yeah, you mean the battle where I took out three pokémon by myself?" was particularly cute. On the other hand, though, I feel like you were hamfisted with it at times. You did well enough with Archeops's characterization that it wasn't necessary to add in so many "why is it like this", "it shouldn't be like this", etc.. Those phrases draw too much attention to the personality shifts, in my opinion, and they have the added effect of making it seem like Archeops isn't expecting this to happen. You could also have done away with some of those "even though he doesn't understand me" lines; we got it after the first few.

Nate's personality I wasn't quite as in love with; while there was nothing wrong with him and his POV section was very touching, something about his lines felt a little forced.

A grammatical nitpick: on pages 5 and 6 you say something to the effect of "There's still less rocks than usual" when it should be "There are still fewer rocks than usual" (plural "are" instead of singular "is", and "fewer" for countable nouns like "rocks" instead of "less" for uncountable nouns like "water"). You also use "there's" instead of "there're" or "there are" consistently throughout the story. Your writing is otherwise pretty clean, so keep an eye on that.

You use a lot of adverbs in places where they aren't necessary, for example at the top of page 11. This is something I struggle with myself, so I know it can be tricky, but most of them really can be cut without affecting your meaning.

This was a very strong story overall and was one of my favorite entries. Archeops's mood swings made for enjoyable reading; I wish you'd let them speak for themselves a bit more. The only reason I didn't rank this higher was because, while you handled your chosen interpretation very well, I just happened to be even more interested in the idea chosen by my top-scoring entry. Minor preference issues aside, this is a very good piece, and a very sweet look at a very annoying ability.


This is a fic that just makes me happy.

I’m a sucker for stories that explore the bonds between humans and Pokémon, and this was a really nice one. We’re introduced to Nate and his Archeops, and soon learn that while they have a good relationship, there is a problem that needs to be overcome. This was the framing for your canonical interpretation, and it was nice. It was great seeing another explanation for an ability, and not only did you do a great job explaining it, but also used it as an interesting conflict for the story.

On its own, the ability Defeatist doesn’t really make much sense – why would a Pokémon’s strength diminish when it’s low on health? – but your explanation is perfectly logical when you think about it. Essentially, it’s a defence mechanism from ancient times, where it’s part of the fight/flight instinct. That just makes perfect sense, especially since it’s for a Pokémon from ancient times when this would be important, as Archeops himself points out. Since this species would still be a mystery to the modern world, it would be very likely that scientists who discover Pokémon abilities wouldn’t know the cause of this loss of power, and thus mislabel it as Nate reflects. You don’t even have to spell it out in-story for the reader to get that, which is something I also appreciate in a story.

I really like the personality of Archeops, and the way he interacts with his trainer. I especially enjoyed seeing how they communicate, with Nate managing to understand Archeops despite the two not speaking the same language, primarily through body language. I was impressed by how you show Archeops’ perspective shifting thanks to his ability, the descriptions of his opponents taking a new turn.

The grammar was great, and the only issues I noticed were these:
I say to him, despite that he won’t understand me.
Should be “despite the fact that.”

The Krokorok gives me a grin that is all fangs. “Scared?”

Yes. I really, really am. It’s pathetic of me – I haven’t felt this way since I was a tiny Archen
If Defeatist constantly kicks in and makes him react this way, I would assume he’s felt this way other times since evolving.

Overall, I thought this was an excellent fic. It was a simple story showing the relationship between trainer and Pokémon, where the reader discovers the explanation behind a mysterious move at the same time as the characters. It’s both endearing and interesting, and I feel it deserves a place at the top.[/I]
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Just me
Aaaand that's it! You may now post as you want.

Congratulations to everyone who entered, particularly elyvorg, Tangent128 and solovino for taking the top three spots. We hope you enjoyed participating and will take part in more contests in the future.


The Ghost Lord
10th place? Well, I expected last so technically I did better than expected. XD

But yeah, my fic was really, really rushed and a year later it definitely shows, though I'm glad you all saw redeeming qualities and potential in it.

I do worry about showing and not telling being a problem, as I usually work hard to avoid that. Guess I better be careful.

But congratulations to everyone, especially the top three.
Wow, I am kinda giddy to make second. XD

I'll freely admit the battle scene was phoned-in. I had inspiration for the lecture, but narratives are... a weak point for me. Will have to think about the suggestions, they're good stimulus...

Phoenixsong said:
On that note, I'm a little curious as to what you meant when you said "a type for each eeveelution that doesn't already have one". Is that meant to imply that there are additional eeveelutions beyond sylveon out there somewhere? ;)
I appreciate it when people notice my sneaky implications. ;)

(Granted, we all know there will be more in future gens :p)

Psychic said:
I was also disappointed that you gave a whole explanation of the history of typing, but skimped out on going into detail about Fairy. A panelist should give some amount of detail on their findings, not just say “read my paper and we’ll talk about it tomorrow.” That, and I was just really curious about what you think makes this type distinct.
I kinda had to force the issue off-camera there, alas, since at the time of writing X/Y weren't out yet. :p


The Ghost Lord

Making Giratina's scene a little more cohesive would also help (although you get bonus points for giving me the mental image of it wearing a fedora and scarf).
That was a nod to a character of mine in another story; glad you liked his fashion sense. :p
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Lost but Seeking
Glad to see the results up! Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to everyone who participated--at first it looked like we weren't going to get very many entries for this contest, but in the end we had a nice crop of interesting stories to work with, which was wonderful. Sorry the judging process took so long, but thanks for your patience, and hopefully you find the comments valuable.

Venia Silente

[](int x){return x;}
Wow. Somehow I did better than expected. One of my greatest worries about the story I had come with was that stadiums and what happens inside them was a thing too much out-of-focus to count as interpretation instead of "headcanon". I had to go out and ask some of the judges if the concept would even qualify. I'm glad it managed to work.

It is known issue in my circles that I have problems with run-on sentences, commas and engagement in writing, probably in that order; it comes with the territory of not having been in the business of writing long stories for a while already, I guess. And while it stings that it took attention and points out where it mattered, it's good that it caught as a glaring thing. Thanks to Negrek in particular for the revieew given.

Dragonfree said:
It sticks out pretty glaringly to me how for all of Armando's proclamations that they are the Very Best(tm) at what they do and the fawning descriptions of the safety features, what your story actually portrays is a system that appears to be constantly teetering on the edge of disaster.
That was part of the intention in the original writing, to make it easier to show the system as a dynamic system: importnt tasks can be relaunched and readjusted if something goes wrong, you can change staff in real time according to the needs of the battle, etc. I guess it's another thing that got drowned in the excesses in writing, and perhaps more than that drowned in the battle breaks.

No matter how good Armando is at deluding himself, at least one of the many other people involved here should realize that they're endangering thousands of people and contact the authorities - authorities that should have standardized much better, actually safe safety measures long ago, and ought to be enforcing them with inspections.
I would have presumed they did - long ago. The implication opening the third section in the narrative -and stated plainly later in the same section as well- is that just as it happens in our world, standards lag behind the implementation; the Tower's gone above them, it just happens it's still not enough. I'll take note to make this far more blatant in an eventual rewrite as a second priority, as this is intended to function in a world where, as shown by most mediums so far, a level of "social carelessness" far higher than our world's is the norm.

Having something actually go horribly wrong, of course, would be an easier, more blunt way to convey the same point, [snip...]
I toyed with the idea for all of... ten seconds I think. I didn't (and still don't) trust myself to write that kind of stuff - and given how description is one thing that greatly dragged me down, am gonna say it's for the better. This time.

Dragonfree, thanks for your review (and for your patience with me).

Negrek said:
I was expecting something horrible to happen, perhaps by design (e.g. some kind of plot against the president). What this actually worked out to was basically a character piece focused on Armando, which was just fine--simply not where I felt the setup was hinting things would go.
Hmmm... do you think that "potential setup" ended up being distracting or disruptive? I did not intend to do anything of the sort, to this President or any other :p -still, it might be good to rework where and when the scenes related to the President's visit take place. (That and you've just made me realize I could just have something actually happen. Food for an AU / what-if variant, perhaps?)

Generally what you write is technically correct, but often it reads strangely because of word choice or syntax.
Probably your best bet is to try and find someone who can serve as a beta for you, and is willing to…[snip]
Thanks. I need to work on that. (And the tenses!) Considering that I did have the entry (or at least the zeroth revision) be proofread by two or three people, perhaps what I need is to find a proofreader with a style radically different to mine. If I could be pointed to in the right direction on how to search for a beta reader, I'd be more than glad enough.

Other than that, I think things were pretty solid. Another thing I liked was how you managed to get across Armando's personality primarily through his actions, how he interacted with people, and small bits of exposition. [snip...] That's a tricky thing to get right sometimes, but you did a nice job of it.
Huh... this is intriguing. Taking out the mechanical details of my writing, I'd personally consider Armando to be the weakest element in the story. Rereading the middle sections make me feel like he swallows much of the interaction that could have been used elsewhere, that his perspective permeates and dictates too much about the reader's perception of the Tower project, and overall that he's a bit on the Sue-ish side. That he's a character that I made up on the spot to bridge the office work with the field work perhaps biases my judgment on that. I'd love to hear more comments or from more people in general if they find him to be a strong / weak element in the story.

Negrek: Thanks for your review and for the initial support given. And thanks for pointing to the elements lacking in my writing in a very practical manner.

Phoenixsong said:
Armando Pedraza is probably my favorite thing about this story, though—[snip...]
Again? What did I do right with this character? :p

It seemed especially strange when it was presented as though Pedraza is thinking about it at the same time it's being presented to the reader. I know he thinks very highly of himself and his accomplishments, but mentally reviewing every detail of the building's construction all at once is a little much even then.
Thanks, note taken on that. I hope that for an eventual rewrite I can take the description out of his perspective and place it in a component more separated from the rest of the events in the story - perhaps an inspection visit before the battle or something. The idea to do it just didn't pop into my head until far far after the story was submitted, I have to admit.

Thanks for pointing the wordiness issues through, Phoenixsong. I'll see what I can do to improve proofreading part of writing. And I'm glad that you liked the inventiveness in the battles.

Psychic said:
One issue I saw that that the Pokémon trainers were practically non-existent. After awhile, I assumed that this was just a battle between Pokémon with no trainer involvement, however near the end of the story it was finally mentioned that there were trainers all along, sitting at “command benches,” which implies that the trainers actually give commands
It's a thing that eluded me to have pointed out, unfortunately, and that I need to make more patent in the story itself - the facility is intended to run battles in the style of the Verdanturf Battle Tent, with the Pokémon doing the fighting and the Trainer taking a place better defined as a team coach. There were two minor hints in the story, one of which you pointed out, but unfortunately it got drowned under the rest of the writing. Thanks for bringing that up.

focus on using a more active style, showing instead of telling, using shorter sentences to convey action and excitement
Duly noted. I'm still not really used to even writing in active voice. A boring focus on technical writing out of need can do that to you I guess :p

Psychic, thanks for the time taken to review, and in particular for the commentary on how to make the battles sound.


All in all I guess this is the thank you, also congratulations to Tangent in particular for his work and resulting price.

Reading the reviews it seems the three of us with elvyvorg should meet up and somewhat cover each other bases when doing something awesome. I feel.
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jireh the provider

Video Game Designer
Sigh, after reading my failed experimental writing reviews that you ladies and gentlemen shared, I'll be honest to all the judges. I am seriously conflicted by these helpful things despite being thankful for them as well. Honestly, I don't know if I should just GIVE UP writing for good due to my complexity and style rather than suffering myself from just outraging at the world and others just backstabbing me in the end. I mean, almost no one liked my writing in the end anyway since I'm too much idealistic.

Yet, I really can't tell why I'm still motivated to write amidst all of those valuable reviews that motivate me even further. Personally, to that reviewer who liked the theme that I failed to execute somehow kindled me to continue. But, really, am I just ... terrible at my writing passion overall?

Currently, I'm fixing slowly the huge flaw that I have now. I guess be direct is all that I need. No complexities and fanciness whatsoever.

But currently, I'm on the fence and ready to throw the towel instead of just casting my anger to someone.


Lost but Seeking

Hmmm... do you think that "potential setup" ended up being distracting or disruptive?
Not really; I was just kind of surprised when things didn't go the way I was expecting. None of the other judges mentioned it, so I doubt it's anything to worry about. My expectations do tend to be colored a little bit by the things I write, so I have a tendency to expect everything in a story to go to hell at the drop of a hat. :p

If I could be pointed to in the right direction on how to search for a beta reader, I'd be more than glad enough.
Well, I should probably really stop being flippant about telling people to just "find a beta reader," since it's honestly not that simple. Beta readers generally act like a little more than just proofreaders, since they usually comment on larger issues than just commas or whatever ("I think your characterization here is weak," etc), field questions about the plot/future plans and so on, and provide some moral support. As a result there usually has to be some interest in the writers' work beyond just "here I'll put the commas in the right places for you," and that can sometimes be difficult to find.

There are various services out there that look to hook people up with beta readers, although my impression is that the success rate is pretty low. We've had threads for beta reading services in the past, but they had quite tiny supply/demand problems. You can try contacting the people listed as mentors in that thread (if they're still active) and see whether they'll still do the beta thing. Some other writing forums have similar threads you can try checking out. If you have a FFN account, it has a beta system, so you can try searching there. Otherwise, there are various beta request/matching communities on LiveJournal, DreamWidth, and tumblr--I don't think your chances would be all that good there, since the Pokémon fandom isn't all that well-represented in those communities, generally speaking, and especially if you're not writing canon characters, but if that's what you've got to do, it's at least worth a shot.

All that said, your best bet is probably to try asking people directly. A lot of people find beta readers among their friends, but if that isn't working for you, you could instead try messaging a writer you respect and seeing whether they'd be willing to help you out. They might not be able to, but they're not going to get mad at you for asking or anything. If you aren't able to find anyone in one of those ways, then your best bet is to try one of the more generic matchmaking services.

Rereading the middle sections make me feel like he swallows much of the interaction that could have been used elsewhere, that his perspective permeates and dictates too much about the reader's perception of the Tower project, and overall that he's a bit on the Sue-ish side.
Well, I would consider the fact that his perspective permeates the story to be a good thing. I think it's more interesting to see things through his eyes than it would be to just get that information in a more detached third-person sort of way, if that's the alternative you were considering. If you mean instead you'd like to have done something with how different characters view the Tower, perhaps to give a less-biased perspective on it, then sure, that could be interesting too. I obviously like what you have already, but in general I prefer characters with a strong personality to those that don't have much of one, and I think Armando has that. It all depends on what you were trying to achieve with the narration--I agree that if it was an unbiased view of the Tower's features, management, etc., then yeah, Armando's a bad choice for that. What makes you think he's a Sue?


Bone-ified dinosaur
It sucks that I missed the chance to enter into this contest. Expanding on oft-ignored tidbits of canon are my favourite kinds of stories to write and read. And I am definitely going to be reading some of these once I have time!

While I'm guessing the next contest is unlikely to be on the same topic, are there any ideas about when it will be and what it will focus on?

Starlight Aurate

Just a fallen star
I. . . did way better than I expected. Honestly, after turning in the entry and looking back over it, everything that was wrong with it seemed to stick out more, and I felt (and still am) really embarassed to have other people actually read it. But I cannot thank you all enough for going through this and helping me. The wait was definitely worth it, and I promise to try to do better in the future.

And congrats to elyvorg for winning! Although that's no surprise ;)

I found it funny that the first thing Dragonfree said on her review was something that Breezy had told me a few years ago: that my writing was so descriptive that it suffered and got in the way of the actual plot of the story. I guess I still need to put some work in there XD

As for the ending.... I really can't help but agree. I know it was rushed and anticlimatic, and it's probably because I did it all in one sitting in 5 hours when I was rushing to try and reach the deadline. Makes me wish that I had spent less time focusing on the beginning and extraneous information, filled in my plotholes, took out the clichéd elements, kept my characters consistent, and come up with more original ideas.

Dragonfree said:
at one point you refer to Teo as Derek;
... Did--did I really?

Phoenixsong said:
At one point on page 32 you call Teo "Derek" for some reason.
Holy crap.

Psychic said:
and at one point call Teo “Derek.
Oh my gosh :eek: I did. Well, I guess that's what I get for working on this and my fic at the same time and not proofreading thoroughly enough >_<

*Sighs* Well, I guess there isn't much to be done about it now, since going back and trying to fix stuff makes me feel more ashamed and uncomfortable XD With all of that said and done, I want to congratulate everyone who participated! Thanks for making this so much fun!

Sigh, after reading my failed experimental writing reviews that you ladies and gentlemen shared, I'll be honest to all the judges. I am seriously conflicted by these helpful things despite being thankful for them as well. Honestly, I don't know if I should just GIVE UP writing for good due to my complexity and style rather than suffering myself from just outraging at the world and others just backstabbing me in the end. I mean, almost no one liked my writing in the end anyway since I'm too much idealistic.

Yet, I really can't tell why I'm still motivated to write amidst all of those valuable reviews that motivate me even further. Personally, to that reviewer who liked the theme that I failed to execute somehow kindled me to continue. But, really, am I just ... terrible at my writing passion overall?

Currently, I'm fixing slowly the huge flaw that I have now. I guess be direct is all that I need. No complexities and fanciness whatsoever.

But currently, I'm on the fence and ready to throw the towel instead of just casting my anger to someone.
NO. Don't ever ever never ever for never ever not ever for never ever just give up and quit. You got last place this time, but at least you're somewhere. The judges reviewed and gave you tips as to how to get better--learn from it! Everyone has to start somewhere, and from here you can only get better. Nobody is going to turn you away for this--we'll always be willing to read and review anything you or anyone else will write :)
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The Teller

King of Half-Truths

For the Hoenn leaders, there were a fair number of scientific inaccuracies.
That was pretty intentional. I wanted readers to see that the leaders of Magma and Aqua aren't as educated on their causes as they think they are, and are using faulty logic and inaccurate science to justify their cause.

The Galatic one did feel a little over-the-top, since people don’t really speak, never mind think, using such sophisticated language,
The Galactic You was supposed to be this Hollywood interpretation (teehee) of what a high-functioning autistic person is supposed to be like. Think Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. Some autistic people really do think like that (but not all, of course).

It would have been nice to see you switching things up for the Plasma scene, perhaps having the protagonist first speak to N, since you mention him being in the crowd, before going right to talk to the team leader.
I don't know if you are saying to talk to N simply because he's part of Team Plasma (as far as Plasma You is concerned, he's just another face in the crowd and his inclusion was just a bonus to the readers), or if you're saying to talk to N, knowing that, even as just a stranger, he would go on and on about Pokemon liberation and further cement Plasma You's decision to join Team Plasma. That second one would be an interesting angle to tackle, if I could make it so that Plasma You isn't just N's Mini-Me.

Thanks to all the judges for judging in their judging ways! I'll be sure to write about a Pokemon with multiple personality disorder next time, since that seems to be a first place goldmine. I do want to ask the judges their opinions on the 2nd person POV thing. Was it engaging? Too distracting? Phoenixsong mentioned a couple places where You "know" things you shouldn't know, and I'm really sorry for that. Three beta readers and an author and it still slipped through. Also, to point out something multiple judges touched on, the Magma and Aqua sections were intentionally designed to be mirror images to each other to illustrate just how similar and interchangeable the two teams are, hence using the "Someone spoke up. Maybe it was you?" line twice. As for not knowing whether "you" spoke up or not, I'll admit it was more for theatrics than logic. It just sounded cool in my head when I wrote it down and I honestly didn't see the "I don't even know when I'm speaking" connotation. Thanks again for all the effort!

JX Valentine

Sigh, after reading my failed experimental writing reviews that you ladies and gentlemen shared, I'll be honest to all the judges. I am seriously conflicted by these helpful things despite being thankful for them as well. Honestly, I don't know if I should just GIVE UP writing for good due to my complexity and style rather than suffering myself from just outraging at the world and others just backstabbing me in the end. I mean, almost no one liked my writing in the end anyway since I'm too much idealistic.

Yet, I really can't tell why I'm still motivated to write amidst all of those valuable reviews that motivate me even further. Personally, to that reviewer who liked the theme that I failed to execute somehow kindled me to continue. But, really, am I just ... terrible at my writing passion overall?

Currently, I'm fixing slowly the huge flaw that I have now. I guess be direct is all that I need. No complexities and fanciness whatsoever.

But currently, I'm on the fence and ready to throw the towel instead of just casting my anger to someone.
jireh, I'd hate to be blunt, but if someone tells you that your style needs work, perhaps you could, I don't know ... change your style? I mean, I don't mean to be mean about it, but those reviewers weren't the first people to tell you that you needed to rethink things.

I know. It's hard, and I also know that sometimes, Filipino literature gets a bit over-the-top (meaning you're probably used to reading some seriously poetic stuff). But even then, the thing is that there's a difference between writing in your style and writing something that just needs work. As some of the folks in their reviews said, sometimes, your writing just doesn't make sense because of the way you describe things. That's not saying we don't like your style. That's saying, "Dude. You're making a lot of really basic and easy-to-fix mistakes that really hinder our ability to understand what you're saying." Style is a concept completely separate from that. You can be poetic (to an extent) and still make sense. What the reviewers are telling you not to do, among other things, is be poetic for the sake of being poetic and come out of it with things that are actually word salad to your readers.

In other words, if you want to be complex, that's one thing. But the problem is you're not really doing complex writing. You're aiming for it, sure, but you get so caught up in trying to achieve complex writing that you forget you're supposed to have a point. (And that might sound familiar to you, but hey.)

That's what happens when you focus too much on trying to create something beautiful and poetic, and that's a mistake a lot of authors make when they're still very new to the craft. The good news is that it is possible to get better, but you're going to have to do three things to get there:

1. Listen to your reviews with an open mind.
2. Work hard at figuring out what those reviews are saying and applying the helpful points to your writing.
3. Ask for help with the full intention of getting help. (Just sayin'.)

What you can't do is:

1. Give up.
2. Assume that you're not getting the attention you want because people aren't connecting to the complexity of your style (as if your style is an immovable, unchanging object that may or may not need to change).

So ... yeah. Like I've said to others, no one can make you want to keep going, and if writing isn't fun for you, then don't force yourself to do something that's painful for you. But if you do want to write, then you're going to have to be prepared to listen to what people are telling you and work on improving, especially if you're going to be doing this competitively again.

In any case, good luck. Hopefully, some of this will help you out. I have no doubt that this'll probably sting a little, but what I'm saying is you can get better. It's just that you first need to realize that you can get better, if you know what I mean.

That said, congrats to everyone who participated, regardless of what place you landed. I mean, you all had a short time frame to come up with a story with a prompt that could be interpreted all kinds of different ways. That's pretty cool as it is.

(But yeah, congrats especially to elyvorg, Tangent, and solvino! Post your stuff so I can add them to my Kindle. :D)


somewhat backwards.
...so I guess I won? But damn, reading all the judges' comments, it seems like there's still a lot that could be improved on with my entry. I'll definitely have to fix it up a good bit before I go posting the full version anywhere, and those four reviews should be very helpful to me in doing that, so thank you for those, judges. (But it'll probably be a little while before I get around to doing so, unfortunately, due to exams.)

Regardless, congrats to everyone else! Particularly those who also did well; those seem like some well-deserved high places, judging by what I can read of the top few entries. I wouldn't have been surprised if, say, solovino's entry had ended up beating mine, based on what I can gather about it from the excerpt and the judges' comments.

*Sighs* Well, I guess there isn't much to be done about it now, since going back and trying to fix stuff makes me feel more ashamed and uncomfortable XD
No! Don't let that stop you from rewriting! Heck, I feel a little ashamed and uncomfortable to look back at my one-shot after the judges' criticisms, and I won with the damn thing. But I'm not going to let that stop me from improving it to be as good as it can be so that more people can enjoy it to its fullest. Your one-shot genuinely sounds like a pretty fun read from a lot of the judges comments, even given the apparent overdone description and rushed climax. I'd love to be able to read a version of it that has its flaws fixed up as much as possible while still keeping all the good parts, and I'm probably not the only one!


The Ghost Lord
Just in case anyone was wondering...

I'm using the judge's criticisms to overhaul mine into a new, better story with similar themes and concepts.

Expect it soonish. (But not too soonish, I'm gonna avoid rushing this one!)