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Mongrels in Castelia

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by kacklord, Sep 27, 2018.

  1. kacklord

    kacklord 私はただ悲しかった

    Author's Note
    hi there. i'm kacklord, though if you know me at all you probably know me as qva from the discord. i'm pretty fresh to this whole fanfic scene and in fact have never done anything serial at all before, so this is a totally new experience to me. i had the idea for this in the shower the other day and thought what the hell, i might as well write it. so while i'm not new to writing in general, this format is definitely going to be experimental for me... i'm used to having unlimited time to revise and rewrite, so i guess we'll see how this goes. i'm not sure i can promise any specific release schedule at this point but i'm going to try to get stuff out as fast as i can, for some value of "fast."

    i've only read one pokémon fanfiction to completion before (morphic) and i don't know any of the tropes, so maybe this will look something like outsider art, hahaha. i'm not too sure. hopefully you guys will find it enjoyable anyway.

    one thing i'll say about this fic is that it's rated, at least tentatively, R for some violence and swearing. i try not to be excessively graphic or vulgar, but the fic might delve into some darker themes as we go, or it might end up staying at a lighter tone, so we'll see where that rating sits in a couple chapters. another thing i'll say up front is that the first chapter is a prologue, and the main story thread will not follow those characters or adopt the same dark, violent tone (at least, not from the get-go). so if this introductory chapter isn't your thing i ask that you give it at least one more chapter as a chance, as i don't think the prologue is really indicative of the work as a whole.

    anyway, that's enough jabbering on from me. i'm going to use this masterpost to keep track of the chapters and whatnot, so keep scrolling for the actual fanfic. i'm always open to reviews and would love to talk privately about the work if you'd rather have a dialogue about it; feel free to ping me on discord @qva#0046 if you wish. i hope you guys enjoy the fanfic!

     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2018
  2. kacklord

    kacklord 私はただ悲しかった

    Prologue: A House Visit

    The Castelia streets were unnavigable. This was hardly surprising, of course. Castelia was initially a fairly minor settlement, never intended to grow as large as it did. As a result, it grew outward organically, and organic systems are never, ever simple. A hundred and fifty years later, sheer cliffs of windows and stone rose on either side of those same streets, forming the world’s largest municipal maze. Abroad, to the people who did not have to deal with its winding alleys and backways on an everyday basis, this gave the city a measure of chaotic charm.

    To those who lived in it— Alice, for example, who presently walked down one such alley as quickly as her clacky highheels would allow, clutching a paper bag full of groceries— this could be a blessing or a curse. On one hand, it made getting from point A to point B significantly more difficult than it needed to be, strictly speaking. What in other towns might have been a single, unbent path became a labyrinthine nightmare solvable only by the city’s seasoned denizens.

    On the other hand, it made it rather difficult to tail someone, which at this moment (and most others) was a deep relief to Alice.

    At last she stepped into her flat, shutting the door quietly behind her. “Wyatt,” she called softly as she slipped the shoes off her aching feet. “I’m back.”

    It would appear to the average viewer that Alice was speaking to no one at all— indeed, her apartment seemed empty but for her. But a careful viewer might have noticed the figure hanging almost statue-still from the ceiling fan, so motionless it appeared to be an obtrusive decoration of some kind. Motionless, that is, until frankly it wasn’t. It fell deftly from the fan and was suddenly discernible, not as a decoration, but as an alarmingly small human child. Wyatt landed on his feet silently and made his way to his mother, arms extended in front of him as he walked, nose scrunched.

    “Food?” he squeaked. “You brought food?” His hands found purchase on Alice’s blouse, which he began lightly pawing, as though examining its texture. Alice smiled slightly but warmly and ran a slender hand through his mint-green hair.

    “Yes,” she said, gently pushing Wyatt off of her and setting her paper bag on the table. “Go sit on the couch for a bit. I’ll cook it up for you and bring it over, okay?” Wyatt smiled widely and with a nod made his way back over to the couch, clicking his tongue jollily.

    Alice regarded him dolefully as he sat there grinning excitedly, childish glee painted on his face like an advertisement. Poor thing. She gathered her ingredients from the paper bag and walked into the kitchen. What is he going to do without me? she thought as she flicked the light on and procured some bowls from the cabinets.

    Alice’s mind drifted off as she cooked. She worried about Wyatt, truly, especially as he grew. He was nearly up to her waist now— and although an ordinary, healthy child would have been far higher than that at Wyatt’s age, it was still remarkable progress from the pitiable state she’d found him in. Moreover, little Wyatt was blind as a bat. A scrawny kid like him could never take care of himself, let alone without a sense of sight.

    But he was sweet, so earnestly sweet. Too sweet for his own good. That’s part of why she worried about him. Kids that sweet got paved over. She’d given him a life easier than the one he would have had otherwise, but at what cost?

    Nonetheless, it brought her joy, this life. She had always wanted to be a mother but had never found love. And regardless of his future, Wyatt needed her now. She was doing the right thing for them both. As long as she could continue living this way, she would be happy.

    I hope he never knows a life where shopping for groceries is a mortal risk. Is that too much to ask?

    Alice was so absorbed in her thoughts that she didn’t notice the man walking into her apartment uninvited. She barely even noticed when Wyatt spoke:

    “My mom? Oh, she’s in the kitchen. Who are you?”

    Alice froze, her spine tingling and her throat constricting. She made to turn around, but it was too late.

    “Ms. MacMiller?” This voice was hard and strong and masculine. It came from just behind Alice, probably at the entrance to the kitchen. It was not Wyatt’s. Was it human? Alice did not dare budge a muscle.

    “My name is Martin St. George, from the BDA. Do you have a moment to answer some questions?”

    At first Alice didn’t respond. Carefully she put down her utensils and balled her trembling hands into fists at her side.

    The BDA. Fuck. How did they find me here?

    She drew a deep breath.

    And then she turned around and faced him, flashing the BDA investigator the warmest, kindest smile she could manage, her pink hair wrapping around her round face prettily.

    Her cheery gaze was met by an icy blue stoic one. Martin St. George was a tall, gaunt man whose face looked more like a skull with skin shrink-wrapped onto it than anything human. A surgical mask covered the lower half of his face; the upper did not seem particularly moved by Alice’s smile.

    “No,” Alice said, her smile still bright. The sink began to rattle slightly. “I’m making dinner. Why don’t you try coming back another time?”

    St. George scowled. “I—”

    The sink burst.

    The shining steel apparatus flew from its previous home on the countertop, riding on a blast of scalding water at St. George. With startling nonchalance, he tilted out of the way ever so slightly, and the sink missed him entirely before slamming into the wall and clattering uselessly to the ground.

    Alice’s smile was gone. It had been replaced with a look of determined anger, which was now slipping into clammy horror.

    “You missed,” St. George chided. He raised his hand. There was something sinister in it.

    Fuck, is the word that flashed into Alice’s mind. Shit. There’s no time. Wyatt—

    Bang!

    Alice died. She slumped onto the ground, more quietly than one might expect, water from the damaged sink pooling around her fallen body.

    “Bridger. Boy,” St. George said, not taking his eyes off the slain woman as he slipped his gun back into his coat. “Come here.”

    Another figure stepped into the kitchen, polished black boots clicking loudly on the tile. They belonged to a man, young but muscled and tall, with short black hair and an intense hazel gaze that looked down on Alice’s cadaver with disgust.

    In his arms was a boy with mint hair, an upturned nose, and sightless eyes. Wyatt certainly heard the gunshot, but he didn’t seem to understand what was going on. He could not see his adopted mother lifeless on the kitchen floor, after all. Perhaps the blindness did him some good in the end. Even in the stranger’s arms, he was fairly docile. Seldom was such a sweet child born.

    “Let the record show,” St. George said emotionlessly, “that I, Captain Martin St. George of the Liberty Borough of Castelia City’s BDA Departme—”

    The water around Alice’s body began to glow a soft blue. Slowly it spiraled toward Alice’s wound, and the woman stirred to life as though from a deep sleep. She opened her mouth to speak, eyes still screwed shut, and—

    Bang! Bang! Bang bang bang!

    Wyatt clapped his hands over his ears in alarm and looked around wildly, seeing nothing. He began to cry.

    “Let the record show,” St. George repeated, his voice still dominant and commanding despite Wyatt’s ruckus, “that I, Captain Martin St. George of the Liberty Borough of Castelia City’s BDA Department, did successfully neutralize one ‘Alice MacMiller,’ in accordance with Section Two of the BDA Establishing Act, with Officer Bridger Lewis as my witness.”

    Bridger nodded firmly, though St. George was too fixated on Alice’s lifeless body to see it. “Yes sir.”

    St. George turned away from Alice’s body slowly, his eyes lingering on every inch of space before meeting Bridger’s. “She attacked me with this sink, as you can see,” he said finally, gesturing vaguely at the broken wall. “Hydromancy, certainly. And that attempted healing. Probably alomomola, wouldn’t you agree?”

    “Yes sir,” Bridger affirmed again. St. George made to leave the room, and Bridger followed, but just as quickly faltered as his eyes laid to rest on the boy in his arms.

    “What about this child?”

    St. George halted, turned around, and looked at a sniffling Wyatt for a moment before shifting his gaze to Bridger. “This woobat mongrel? We put him back where his kind belongs, of course,” he replied with a grin. He did not wear that grin in joy or amusement. “Let’s go now, boy. Time is of the essence.”

    Bridger soaked in the scene for one last moment. The musty smell, the sound of running water, the slumped body, the decrepit atmosphere. This was the job. His eyes fell for a moment. Was it sadness in them?

    No. Of course not.

    He nodded. “Of course, sir.”

    And the three of them departed together, leaving behind a broken sink and a split skull where there was once a family.

     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2018
  3. canisaries

    canisaries sometimes i get a deadache, yeah

    Hi there! I read through the prologue and here are some thoughts I had.

    What you have here's a pretty vivid and intense snippet, perfect for starting off stories in my opinion. Questions are quickly raised and slowly answered with some left as a mystery to get the reader hooked for the first chapter. What creates demimon, what's the extent of their powers, why are they being contained, so on.

    I may not read as much fanfic as some, but I don't think I've bumped into a concept like this before - humans with pokémon blood and therefore powers existing and being contained by the government. I've heard of fics with morphs, but I've only heard of (or assumed) them having the more animalistic kind. This sets up a more "hiding among us" feel. Does raise intrigue on how that will play out in a Pokémon setting.

    What description there is works, but I think there could have been just a smidgen more. The apartment isn't really described save for the existence of a ceiling fan and a kitchen, and while one could piece together that it probably isn't too fancy, some mention of what it looked like could have livened up the scene. The prose on body language and looks, though, are especially good. I liked the background given on Castelia as well.

    I like how the narration here has personality - referencing what "the average viewer" would see, for example. It's nice to read through, immersed me more.

    The characters I'd say get enough fleshing out for one-offs. They feel real and believable - although, I will admit: the constant mentions of Wyatt's sweetness got a bit on the nose. A mother certainly would think their kid is the best and just the sweetest thing alive (despite how truthful it may actually be), but here it sort of removes the shock of the ending as he's rather visibly being set up for tragedy. One nitpick also would be that Alice was mentioned to have pink hair rather late on when I would have preferred to hear it early on to build a better picture in my head, or not at all. Putting something visually odd like that toward the end may hurt the immersion as the reader has to take a bit to reconstruct whatever mental image they've assumed. Does that make sense? Well, I guess it's kind of subjective in the end.

    Anyway, good luck with your first serial fanfic and welcome to the fanfic section!
     
    kacklord likes this.
  4. kacklord

    kacklord 私はただ悲しかった

    hey there, thanks a ton for the review! i'm really glad you got that impression because i was kind of worried about it, hahaha. without giving away too much, the unresolved questions you've mentioned are definitely things i want the readers to be wondering about, so it's good to know that they did stick in your head.

    interesting! i would've thought something like this would be more common, huh. i definitely like the air of mystery and intrigue supplied by the "hiding among us" feel, as you say... i guess we'll just have to see where it takes us! :'D definitely surprised to hear that it's a less common trope than i'd anticipated though, hm.

    i didn't even realize how underdescribed the environment was, which is a bit odd seeing as i've been particularly struck by how vividly described the environments have been in other fics i've read recently, hahaha. it's a bit lackluster to me too, reading back over, so super solid observation there— thanks for pointing it out!

    oh, man. i'm really glad you pointed this out, too, because i absolutely didn't realize it in my own re-reads, but yeah, you're totally right. in my head the sweetness was overwritten not so much as trying to hint that maybe he wasn't a normal kid. i've always interpreted woobat personally as very feel-good and happy-go-lucky so i was trying to go that direction. but since that isn't obvious from the start, your interpretation is the more obvious one, and... yeah. i definitely see that. in fact i think that's an even more logical way to read it than the way i intended, yikes. so i'll definitely have to watch for that in the future.

    huh! i've never thought about what effect the timing of physical description might have on the reader, but you make a very good point. thanks for point that out, i've literally never thought about something like that before, hahaha. i'll think about that more closely in the future.

    overall, thanks a ton! this review was really eye-opening, and hopefully my future chapters will be a bit better for it.
     
    canisaries likes this.
  5. Firaga Metagross

    Firaga Metagross Auferstanden Aus Ruinen

    Welcome to... Fanfics, I suppose! I hope your chapter is a good taste of what's to come. I'm not sure how common the whole people-with-pokemon-blood thing is in general, but it seems like you have a solid idea of what you want to do with the concept. I think that your adding a snippet of the world's laws at the end of your chapter helps flesh it out without having to resort to forcing it in dialgoue. Also, just a fan of how you paced the chapter, building up to the reveal about Alice and Wyatt having Pokemon blood.

    Not really a big critique, but I'm hoping that you'll add a bit more personality to the characters in the coming chapters, as they're a little flat here, although given how much you wrote, it's not unexpected. It's really just dependent on the coming chapters, which I hope you'll post.
     
    kacklord likes this.
  6. RocketKnight66

    RocketKnight66 404: Consistent Schedule not Found

    Decided to check this one out, and it's certainly quite the ride for a first chapter. I've heard about the concept of humans with Pokémon blood, although I hadn't read anything about it for myself. It seems like an interesting idea, though. It seems these people are being hunted by the government? I'd say I'm surprised, but to be honest, I find it to be rather realistic.

    The prose is pretty well done for the most part, although I did find the description of the house to be rather lacking as a note.

    I did also find this line to be rather sudden and nonchalant for what it's describing, although that may just be me.

    The characters are an interesting thing to talk about. I guess if you have Pokémon blood, it gives you some unique powers? I can imagine some would misuse that kind of power. As for personalities though, I wasn't particularly grabbed by any of the characters, although it's kind of unsurprising that there wouldn't be much time for characterization with how fast the chapter's pacing was, and that one of the characters was killed rather quickly.

    I think this has been mentioned already, but with just how sweet the kid was and with what Alice had said about him, it practically felt like fate was being tempted for something to happen to them. As far as the agents are concerned, they seemed rather cruel about it. I'm guessing they've been at this for a while.

    All in all though, it was a pretty solid chapter, and I hope this story continues to improve as it goes on.
     
    kacklord likes this.
  7. kacklord

    kacklord 私はただ悲しかった

    Chapter One: A Barber's Gossip

    “Gahhhh, this doesn’t make any sense!”

    Lachlan looked up from his book at Casey, whose eyes were fixed on his own textbook as he held his head in his hands dramatically. His brow was knitted in frustration, the gaze from beneath it staring with waning patience at the pages, not truly seeing them.

    “What doesn’t make sense?” Lachlan asked flatly, casting his eyes back down to his book.

    “This stupid pokémon physiology junk!” Casey exclaimed, gesturing dramatically at his textbook. “It’s so… Hey, you’re the physiology hotshot around here, right? Can you help?”

    Lachlan frowned. It was true, he’d passed the pokémon physiology exam with an unprecedented perfect score. He’d achieved some renown on campus for it, too, despite being otherwise academically unremarkable. Since then, he'd come to expect a weekly wave of acquaintances fawning over him for homework advice. It was almost like clockwork.

    “Agh, now you too?” he said with mock irritation (though some of it may have been genuine). “I thought I was safe from you, at least.” Casey’s expression shifted into an intense stare of determined pleading, and a smile tugged at the edges of Lachlan’s mouth. He slipped his bookmark into his book and set it down. “Fine. What’s giving you trouble?”

    Relief washed over Casey’s face, but it still wasn’t totally free of exasperation. “I don’t know, all this… Experience business? I just don’t really get it.”

    “Oh. Well,” Lachlan began, eyebrow raised, “when a pokémon uses its moves to defeat another pokémon in battle, it absorbs some of its strength. What’s confusing about that?”

    Casey rolled his eyes. “Okay, thanks, Professor Pokémon. Every idiot and their dog knows that. But, I mean, there’re all these formulas and stuff, and then there’s… Grafting? The hell is that supposed to mean?”

    “Oh yeah, the math.” Lachlan grimaced. “Well, the professor should do that stuff on the board. A lot of it. Believe me, you’ll get it drilled into you eventually. I don’t really remember that stuff, if I’m being honest with you…”

    “Okay, and the other thing?”

    Lachlan took a deep breath. Wasn’t he going out of his way to help? He wasn’t sure he appreciated this interrogatory tone. “What, grafting? Well, it’s like… If you’re missing some skin, and the doctors take some off of me and give it to you, then you get some you didn’t have before, and I can just grow mine back… It’s kind of like that? But with Experience.” He pinched the bridge of his nose. “I don’t know, isn’t this kind of info-dumpy? It’s only the first chapter.”

    Casey gave him a bewildered look. “Eh…?”

    “Never mind.”

    Casey shook his head. “Anyway, I still don’t really get it…”

    Lachlan shrugged. “Sorry. I’m not your professor. I'm sure it's all there in your textbook.”

    Casey grumbled something derogatory under his breath, but that was the end of it. Lachlan leaned back in his chair with a smirk and began reading again. Unfortunately, his brief respite was just that.

    Brief.

    “Hey, Lachlan?”

    “Yeah?”

    “Why do you know so much about this stuff anyway? Aren’t you, like, a reading major or whatever?”

    Lachlan chuckled. “Literature,” he corrected gently. “I’m a literature major. I know this stuff because I grew up on a farm, remember? Trainers would come by and fight the tauros sometimes… It was pretty hard not to pick up at least bits and pieces.”

    Casey nodded vacantly. Lachlan suppressed a grin. He knew his friend had stopped listening after he’d said the word “farm.” It was hard to be annoyed at him about things like that anymore. After a while, one learned to take Casey for what he was, and “what he was” happened to be “on another planet.”

    He jolted out of his reverie visibly, and immediately glanced down at his watch. “Oh, yikes,” he said, running a hand through his golden hair. “What the hell, it’s almost two already? The baseball game starts in fifteen minutes, if you wanted to come.”

    Lachlan looked down at his book longingly. Was he ever going to get a chance to just sit down and read this thing?

    "Come on, dude," Casey pressed. "I know you don't have any more classes, and I know you sure as hell don't have any other plans."

    “Fine,” he said with a sigh. The pair of friends packed up their things and got moving.

    The baseball field was a good ways out, about a fifteen minute walk away. Lachlan stuffed his hands in his pockets and stared at the ground as they walked, taking pleasure in the feeling of the sun on his neck and the wind at his back. Casey, meanwhile, seemed to be stopping every half a minute to catch up with some chatty acquaintance. How on Earth did that kid manage to keep so many friends? Well, it was good for Lachlan, at any rate. Seeing as Lachlan was utterly lacking in social skills of his own, Casey was his link to everyone else. That, and he dragged him out sometimes. Lachlan would have never gone to this baseball game of his own accord. But it was good for him.

    He looked up at his blonde-haired friend, who was presently shooting the breeze with some passerby girl, and allowed himself a small smile. Where would I be without this guy?

    Reading peacefully at home, maybe.


    At length they reached the baseball field. It wasn’t particularly large— Castelia University was fairly disseminated throughout the city, and the poor city planning didn’t really allow for massive sports infrastructure. The baseball field was part of a larger city green, partitioned off by a rather flimsy-looking chain-link fence. Some well-worn metal bleachers stood on the grass. Casey and Lachlan made their way over to one and took a seat. There were only perhaps three dozen others there, plus the teams.

    “I never watched baseball as a kid, really,” Casey said wistfully as he watched the players warm up. “My parents weren’t really into it. Soccer was a bigger deal where my dad grew up, and my mom doesn’t really care about sports at all, so— Hey!” Lachlan felt something solid collide with his shoulder.

    “Ow! Hey, what the hell was that for?”

    Casey withdrew his fist and glared at Lachlan. “We’re at a baseball game! Put your damn book away, nerd. Also, I’m talking! You’re so rude.”

    Lachlan smiled sheepishly as he saved his page. “Sorry,” he said contritely, rubbing his chin. Aren’t they still warming up? “I just haven’t had a chance to dig into this book yet, really, so…”

    Casey rolled his eyes and shook his head. “What’re you reading, anyway?”

    Lachlan’s eyes lit up. “Oh! It’s called ‘A Crossbreed,’ it’s a short story by this Eastern Kalosian author about, ah… Well, it’s kind of strange, it’s about a pokémon that’s half tepig and half mareep, and—”

    “What the hell?” Casey cut him off. “You some kinda furry or something?”

    “What?” Lachlan’s eyes bulged. “Oh, no, it’s not— I mean, it’s kind of a classic.”

    Casey slapped Lachlan’s back heartily and let out a deep laugh. “I’m just messing with you, buddy. It sounds pretty interesting if you’re into that kind of thing, I guess.” Lachlan let out a silent breath of relief.

    Crack!


    “Oh, I guess the game’s starting,” Casey remarked. Lachlan looked up just in time to see the ball reach the crest of its beautifully parabolic arc. It sailed down smoothly into an outfielder’s glove, punctuated by a sharp “Out!” from the umpire.

    “Jeez,” Casey said. “Off to a pretty bad start, huh…”

    Lachlan shrugged. “I don’t really care about baseball, to be honest. Seems difficult enough, I guess. But a lot of the players are pretty out of shape anyway…”

    “Hm. So what, are you a Pokélathon kinda guy?”

    “Yeah,” Lachlan replied, cringing internally. He already thinks I’m a furry or whatever…

    “Me too, honestly,” Casey said with a nod, his eyes still fixed on the field. Lachlan felt the tension leave his body, and he deflated visibly. “There’s something kind of amazing about it, isn’t there? Pokémon seem pretty dumb most of the time, but they can play sports just fine… Definitely makes you think.”

    Lachlan chuckled. “Aren’t you taking pokémon physiology? You should know by now that they’re not very dumb at all, for the most part.”

    Casey shot him a flat look. “Aren’t you my friend? You should know by now that I don’t pay attention for shit— Oh my god!” He sprung up from his seat dramatically, his face twisting into a mask of concern and fright. “Dude, are you okay?”

    Lachlan knitted his brow in concern. “What?” Then he noticed the baseball in his lap. “Oh. How’d that get there?”

    “Dude…” Casey was agape. “...Are you okay? Do you have a concussion?” He pulled out his phone. “I can get an ambulance. I’m going to get an ambulance.”

    “No, it’s fine, seriously,” Lachlan insisted, waving his hand dismissively. He picked up the baseball and examined it. What the hell… “What, did it hit my head?”

    “Uh, yeah? Didn’t that, like, hurt?”

    Lachlan frowned, setting the ball back in his lap. No, it didn’t hurt at all. Is that what I’m supposed to say?

    The players didn’t seem to have noticed that their ball had struck one of their viewers in the head, probably because he didn’t react. They were already back to the game, playing with a new ball. He touched the side of his head subconsciously. “Uh, I guess it hurts a little…”

    Casey shook his head, face painted bewilderment. “Jeez, dude. I’m kind of uneasy now. It’s a fucking war zone out here. This game kind of sucks anyway. I think I’m going to go home.”

    “Oh.” Lachlan stood with him. “All right. I guess I’ll go get a haircut then.”

    “What? You don’t want to lay down or something? You just got whacked in the head by a baseball, man.”

    Lachlan shrugged. “It doesn’t really… I mean, it only hurts a little, so I think it’ll be fine. And my hair’s getting kind of long.”

    “Eh? It looks the same as it always does.”

    “... See you later, Casey.”

    “Later, dude."



    A tall customer entered a barber shop by the sea, and the small bell on the door rang sweetly to herald his entrance.

    “Hey, Rissa.”

    “Hi, Lachlan. Just, the usual, yeah? All right. You can have a seat right here.”

    “Cool, thanks.” Lachlan did just that. Rissa tied a barber’s gown around his neck and ran a hand through his thick black hair, tousling it slightly. “Just the usual will be fine. Roots, too.”

    “Of course.”

    Rissa got to cutting his hair gently with her silver scissors, humming a sweet tune to herself for a while. Then she spoke:

    “You’re in here a lot, you know.”

    “Hm? Oh, yeah.” Lachlan shrugged slightly. “I don’t like my hair getting too long, I guess.”

    “Well, you certainly take excellent care of it. It shows. You never see healthy hair like this on a guy. I really wish more men would take care of their hair as well as you do. They’d all be better off for it.”

    “Oh, thanks.”

    “Mmmmhm.”

    Rissa continued cutting silently for a while. Lachlan drummed his fingers on the armrest.

    “You hear about the whole deal in the Liberty Ward?” Rissa asked eventually.

    Lachlan nearly shook his head, but thought better of it. Wouldn't want to ruin his haircut. “Ah, no. What happened?”

    “Mm. It wasn’t too pretty from what I’ve heard of it. Which isn’t much, mind you.” She clicked her tongue. “I guess the BDA’s been moving in here recently. It hasn’t been very pleasant.”

    “BDA?”

    “Yeah, the Bureau of Deminimon Affairs. Suit-and-tie government types. I guess they’re tasked with, uh, disposing of demimon. Take that as you will.”

    “Demimon…” Lachlan’s eyes glazed over for a minute. “In Castelia? In… In Unova?”

    “Yeah, I guess.” Snip, snip. “The BDA was a pretty minor agency before, but they’ve been beefing up recently. So the demimon must’ve worked their way over from Kanto already. I guess it’s a big enough problem nowadays that BDA needs a little extra muscle.”

    “Hm.” A frown pulled at the corners of his mouth. “So what happened in Liberty?”

    “Oh, there was a home raid, they said. They shot the woman there dead, from what I heard. There was a kid too. I guess they took him with them.”

    “Oh.”

    “Yeah.”

    They sat there in silence for a moment, Rissa snipping at his hair and touching up his roots masterfully. Lachlan’s throat felt heavy.

    “What do you make of it?” he said at length.

    “What, the BDA thing?” Rissa tapped a finger to her chin thoughtfully. “Well, it’s good to know the government is protecting us from threats like that, I suppose. It’s pretty crazy to think people like that have been crawling around right under our noses all along, though, isn’t it?”

    “Hm. Yeah, pretty crazy.”

    “Always the talkative one, you are.” Rissa picked up the mirror and showed Lachlan his haircut. It looked basically the same as it did before, which in Lachlan’s book was a good thing. The roots were a deep black, like the rest of his hair.

    “Looks good,” he muttered, and he pushed a warm smile onto his face. Rissa returned one of her own.

    “Thanks for stopping by,” she said as Lachlan thumbed out her payment and a healthy tip. She took it gratefully and stuffed it somewhat unceremoniously into the pocket of her apron. “We love customers like you.”

    “No problem,” Lachlan said as he made his way to the door. “Have a nice day.”

    “You too.” He was halfway out the door when she added: “And stay safe out there, okay?” Lachlan froze in his tracks and turned around. Rissa was smiling warmly, but an astute observer might have noted the bead of worry in her eyes, or the wrinkle of concern in her brow. “It’s getting pretty rough out there. You’re a shy guy, but take care of yourself, okay?”

    Lachlan didn’t know what to say. Eventually, he forced it out anyway: “I will. You too. Thank you.” And with that he was on his way home.

    It’s rough out there, huh…

    Well, he’d be all right anyhow. When he thought of reading his book upon returning home, he quickened his step, and the barber shop fell into the distance behind him.

    It's hard to pay attention when you're walking with purpose. But if Lachlan had spared a moment to watch the world around him as he walked along, he might have noticed many things that he did not. Perhaps he might have even noticed the lone poster stapled to the bulletin board in the common room of his dorms:

    ATTENTION HARMONIA HALL RESIDENTS

    The BDA will be visiting the campus for mandatory inspections this Thursday.
    Be in your dorm ready for inspection from 5:00 until you are seen by a BDA official.
    DON'T FORGET! Absentees will be penalized.
     
  8. The Walrein

    The Walrein Well-Known Member

    Hello kacklord! I've seen you on discord before, but as this is our first forum interaction, welcome to Pokemon fanfiction! If you're looking for more good fics to read, may I recommend unrepentantAuthor's Different Eyes? It's a pokemorph fanfiction from the perspective of a Purrloin who elects to undergo a morphing process so they can become more human, and it takes a realistic look at what it would be like to have a society filled with Pokemon of varying levels of sapience. Like Morphic, it's definitely on the serious end of the spectrum, but it also (so far) has more of a positive and hopeful tone to it, so you might find it interesting to read in contrast.

    Anyways, I noticed that no-one reviewed chapter one of this yet, so I thought I'd have a go at it. I'm interested to see what you've come up with as an 'outsider'. Here are some miscellaneous thoughts and comments I had while I was reading:

    I think 'highheels' needs to be written as either 'high heels' or 'high-heels'.

    Did she not lock the door? It seems like a strange oversight to make for someone paranoid about the possibility of being tailed.

    Hmm, I'm getting a sort of 'Agent Smith From The Matrix' vibe off of St. George here. Anyways, I think this little scene is pretty effective at both characterizing St. George as both competent and completely cold blooded without using a lot of words.

    These lines feel a bit overwritten to me. Specifying that Alice's anger is 'determined' and her look of horror is 'clammy' feels like it's too much for a sentence which is already describing two facial expressions occurring one after the other in a short period of time. Also, I feel like just saying 'He raised his hand. There was a gun in it.' would have been punchier and more effective than the vague 'something sinister'.

    It feels strange for the narration to have described Alice as having 'died' earlier when she can apparently still regenerate. I'd say that goes beyond 'healing' and into 'necromancy'.

    It's interesting to see that there's some possible measure of sympathy for the demimon among at least some of the BDA agents, rather than going the path of having them be a monolithic institution of like-minded drones.

    The repetition of 'dramatically' feels clunky here. Also, I feel like Casey's irritation at the physiology textbook is given a little too much description for how consequential it really is in the narrative.

    This segment also feels like it's using too much description on Casey's expressions ('an intense stare of determined pleading' in particular), and it also feels a little too 'telly'. I could tell that Casey still feels a little exasperated from his dialogue, so specifying that his face 'wasn't totally free of exasperation' feels unnecessary.

    I think it's interesting how 'EXP' is actually a thing in this world, and how there are actual quantified formulas for it. Presenting it from the perspective of someone who's frustrated that they have to learn all of it is a nice touch.

    The fourth-wall break feels rather jarring here, considering the tone of the fic so far. I guess in retrospect it's not as bad considering that Lachlan is a literature major so this could sorta-kinda be justified as him making a lame literary joke, but that didn't reduce its initial impact.

    Heh, in retrospect seeing Lachlan viewing Casey as being 'on another planet' is kinda funny once you realize how unaware Lachlan is of some things. It feels a little repetitive to start three paragraphs in a row with a 'Character verbed adverbedly' clause, though. I think you could remedy this by deleting 'visibly' at the start of the second paragraph, which I feel would also improve the flow of that sentence.

    Wow Lachlan, rude. To be serious, I think the reveal of Lachlan having been reading during Casey's dialogue was a clever device - it's funny and it adds character to Lachlan in a natural-feeling way. However, I think 'contritely' is unnecessary after having been told that Lachlan is 'smiling sheepishly'.

    So, I guess Lachlan is a rock or steel-type demimon? You'd have to be pretty dense to ignore something like that happening - and arguably even denser to not know what the proper reaction to getting hit in the head like that would be! How has Lachlan managed to evade detection this long if he doesn't know something that basic? I'd guess that he'd just been really isolated from human society, but it seems like he reads a lot and has been going to college for some time, so it feels like he should at least have some idea of how badly ordinary humans would get hurt by various things.

    Hmmm, I'm assuming this is to hide his demimon nature, although I'm not sure what rock or steel type Pokemon heritage would cause him to have weird hair. Alolan Diglett, maybe?

    I guess it partly explains Lachlan's continued survival up to this point if the BDA is only recently starting up heavy activity in Unova. He really is way out of the loop to not have noticed them growing to where they have enough power to demand mandatory inspections of privileged college students, though.

    Oooh, ending on a note of suspense here! I wonder if 'Harmonia Hall' was named after N or Ghetsis? It seems like the latter is possible given the dystopian element of this version of Unova.

    So, I guess my biggest complaint with the writing style was that the description of people's expressions tended to feel overwritten. It's a matter of taste, but to me it felt like it was layering a lot of detail on unnecessarily. I also felt like you leaned on adverbs a little too heavily to communicate how characters were performing actions - which I guess feels like kind of a weird complaint, but I feel like they frequently impeded the natural flow of sentences and made the prose more 'telly' than it had to be.

    On the positive side, I did like some of the descriptions, like the opening description of the organic layout of Castelia and the description of Martin St. George's appearance. The worldbuilding was another strong point, as it got across a fair bit of information without feeling intrusive. And the last part of chapter 1 does a good job of building up suspense. I'm fond of themes of paranoia and concealed identities, so I'm definitely liking the mood that's taking shape here, and I'm certainly going to stick around for chapter 2.
     
    kacklord likes this.
  9. kacklord

    kacklord 私はただ悲しかった

    hi, thanks a ton for the review! your points here are really solid— i'm not going to address everything you've said, but you can assume safely that anything i leave unaddressed is something i just agree with point blank. also, thanks for the reading recommendation... i'll be sure to look into that fic.

    thanks for pointing this out! you raise similar points throughout your review, and reading back through the chapter, i'm kind of annoyed by my own writing now, hahaha. i will definitely be careful to look out for that in the future, as it seems like it's a mistake i've made pretty frequently here.

    hehe, this might have been just a touch indulgent. it was pretty info-dumpy though, wasn't it? :p joking aside, yeah, it's a bit jarring and i guess that's kind of the point, but for what it's worth you shouldn't really expect something like that to happen again. i was kind of just having dumb fun with that. hopefully it didn't affect your experience too negatively though, hmmm. and hey it's not a lame joke!!!!!

    i see your point here. however, regardless of why he failed to react, i would argue that it would be kind of strange for him to suddenly act like he was in great pain at that point. he'd already expressed confusion at casey's reaction... a reaction that delayed wouldn't be significantly stranger than what he did. not that his course of action was really what you'd expect from someone who got hit in the head with a baseball, either, but i don't think his decision not to feign injury after figuring out what had happened was particularly dull, seeing as he'd already shown that he hadn't noticed being hit. his thought there— is that what i'm supposed to say?— is more his commentary on how absurd it seems that he hadn't felt the pain than it is an actual question.

    overall, thanks a ton for the review, again! some of these mistakes are silly things, and i ought to know better... others are more ingrained stylistic choices that i wouldn't have noticed otherwise, so thank you for bringing them to my attention. with any luck my writing will improve from here out! man i'm so not used to getting criticism that's actually useful god bless serebii. i'm glad you're enjoying it so far at any rate! hopefully chapter two will meet your expectations.
     
  10. kacklord

    kacklord 私はただ悲しかった

    Chapter Two: Enter the Officer
    Breathe in. Five, six, seven.

    Breathe out. Five, six… eleven, twelve.

    Breathe in…

    Run.

    Lachlan loved to run. He was the first to admit that it wasn’t exactly the sort of hobby you’d peg someone like him for. He was of a smaller, wiry build, and his bookish, withdrawn personality didn’t exude an athletic aura. His friends were always surprised to hear he’d just been back from a jog, and he couldn’t really blame them. The sport didn’t really suit him, at least ostensibly.

    He did it anyway.

    He’d been doing it for as long as he could remember, however long that was. There was something that just felt right about it. He loved the pleasant, searing sensation in his calves, and the way the cooling fall air scratched at his throat and tempered his lungs. He enjoyed the rhythm to it, too— the consistent pounding of his feet on the pavement, the measured breaths drawn, the steady pulsation of his excited heart. If the human body was an orchestra, running was a symphony. On a base, physical level, it was pleasing.

    More than anything, however, Lachlan revelled in the sense of purpose running lent him. In the hectic cacophony of a college student’s everyday life, there was something therapeutic about strapping on one’s tennis shoes and hitting the sidewalk for a good run. It didn’t really matter where he was going, as he knew the are well enough and could find his way back from virtually anywhere. Really, it wasn’t about the destination anyway, but the journey. What mattered was that he was moving forward, toward something, until he chose to bring his escapade to an end. He was able to think deeply, if he cared to, but often he didn’t. It was just him and that crisp autumn air and his feet on the road. Perhaps he was only chasing a ghost, an illusion of purpose, but it was compelling nonetheless. There was something magical about it.

    For all these reasons and more, Lachlan was in good spirits as he fell into a walk toward the entrance to Harmonia Hall, his panting audible over the sound of his music. A thin layer of sweat had soaked his flimsy tank-top through, so it now clung to his torso and felt quite clammy as his body began to cool. He smacked his mouth vacantly as he ascended the stairs, and thought fondly of the cool glass of water he’d enjoy when he arrived to his dorm…

    He opened the door to his floor’s common room and was met by at least a dozen pairs of eyes. Lachlan winced and removed his earbuds, which to his chagrin were still blaring some embarrassing Johto-pop into the otherwise quiet air. A quick survey of the room told him that there was some kind of floor conference behind held— an unfamiliar man in business attire and a cloak stood quietly at the front, pausing from what looked like some kind of lecture to eye Lachlan up.

    “Uh, hi,” Lachlan squeaked, fumbling for his phone to cut his tunes.

    “Please,” said the man at the front, his tone unexpectedly warm despite his emotionless expression, “have a seat. You’re only slightly late.”

    It was a good thing Lachlan was visibly fresh from a run, or else the others might have (correctly) assumed his face was flushed from embarrassment rather than activity. He slipped into a chair as unobtrusively as he could. It seemed like all eyes were back on the speaker by the time he was seated.

    “Right,” the man said, addressing the group as a whole again. “For those of you who missed it—” (Lachlan sunk into his chair a little) “— my name is Officer Bridger Lewis, with the BDA. I’m a demimon investigator, fresh out of training, and I’ve been stationed here at Castelia University. I’m here to give you guys a little bit of an overview of what I do and take any questions you may have.”

    Lachlan raised an eyebrow. This demimon stuff again, huh…?

    A girl toward the front raised her hand. Her skin was a light but rich caramel color. Lachlan had seen her before— she was from Alola. “So what is a demimon?” she asked casually. Her words flowed slowly and clumsily from her foreign tongue. Lachlan almost snorted derisively at the insolence of the question. Who didn’t know what a demimon was? They were all over the news these days, and the damned word itself basically described itself to you to boot.

    “My apologies,” Officer Lewis said, bowing slightly. “I can’t believe I’d forgotten to explain such a fundamental thing. Demimon are humans that carry trace amounts of pokémon blood. They’re often difficult to tell apart from ordinary people, depending on how strong their pokémon blood is, but they possess abilities similar to those found in pokémon… Some have superhuman strength, for instance, and others can even produce a flame. As you might have surmised, they’re highly dangerous and pose a significant public safety hazard, which explains my post here.” A strange look of pride crossed the officer’s face. “Any other questions?”

    A boy toward the right of the room raised his hand. “Where did they come from?” he asked in a heavy Virbank accent. A mischievous grin spread across his face, and a few suppressed giggles sounded off around the room. Officer Lewis did not return their amusement. He didn’t so much as sigh.

    “We’re not sure,” he said curtly. “Humans and pokémon cannot produce young as far as modern science understands. Yes, yes, laugh it up. In seriousness, it’s impossible to trace their origin, though our researchers are doing their best. We have an inkling, but I’m afraid even that is strictly classified…”

    Another hand raised into the air. “What do you do with demimon? Like, if you find one, I mean.”

    Officer Lewis pressed his lips into a line. “Well, ideally we relocate them to the Demimon Containment Unit… That’s all I’m really authorized to say on the matter.”

    “And if they resist arrest?”

    The investigator grew visibly uncomfortable. “Ah… Well, in that case… If a demimon becomes violent, they’re treated like a criminal, so we treat them like any other violent criminal.”

    “Have you ever killed someone?”

    “Ah… I don’t think that’s…”

    “That’s enough,” said the resident assistant firmly. He stood in the corner of the room with his arms crossed, a scowl darkening his face. “Officer Lewis, why don’t you proceed? I think that’s enough questions for now.”

    Officer Lewis sagged visibly relief. “Of course.” He cleared his throat loudly. “I’d like to inform you all that, as Castelia University’s resident demimon investigator, I’ll be conducting blood tests at random on randomly selected students. These blood tests are protected by law and are strictly mandatory, so your privacy rights won’t really help you out here, I’m afraid. It’s really just a formality, for the most part, but you can never be too sure where they demimon are hiding, after all.” He smiled weakly. “It was a joke, guys…” Someone chuckled uncomfortably in the back. “Well, if there are no further questions, that’ll be it from me, then.”

    There were no further questions.

    “Excellent,” Officer Lewis said with a clap. “Well, I’ll be conducting my first random blood test, then. Can I get, er…” He fished an index card from his pocket and glanced down at it. “Lachlan Mammone?”

    Lachlan’s heart skipped a beat. The entire room turned to face him again.

    “This is what you get for being late,” someone said toward the corner.

    Lachlan chuckled and stood slowly. “Sure thing,” he assented, suddenly remembering how truly dry his mouth was. He was going to get to have a drink eventually, right?

    “Come with me,” Officer Lewis said warmly, wearing a slight smile. His brown eyes seemed to penetrate into Lachlan’s very soul. Lachlan followed him wordlessly. They descended the stairs together, and walked into the evening.
    Officer Lewis’ workspace was actually part of the university’s administrative building, toward the piers. There were only a handful of classrooms in the complex, but it still managed rank among the most consistently busy buildings on campus. As Lachlan and his escort walked through the front door, there was audible commotion within even despite the late hour.

    Lachlan was guided through the hallways unceremoniously. Flickering fluorescent lights illuminated the generic motivational posters and landscapes that adorned the walls. When they reached a dead end with an uninteresting window view, Officer Lewis produced his keys from his pocket and shoved one into a locked door, jiggling his hand slightly for good measure. The door swung open to reveal a dark and rather cramped room.

    “Sorry about the state of the place,” Officer Lewis said as he gestured for Lachlan to enter.Lachlan opened his mouth to dismiss the apology, but as the investigator flicked a switch and flooded the room with light, the officer’s concern became apparent. A formidable barrier of unopened cardboard boxes lined the rear wall, obscuring the window, and packing paper littered the floor. A weathered mahogany desk was forced into the corner with a small, foldable chair on either side. A small apparatus sat on the desk’s dun surface, which Lachlan presumed to be the blood testing device. A gurgling water cooler stood behind the door, stocked with a hundred conical paper cups.

    He walked in slowly, trying his best to prevent his surprise from leaking into his expression. “Don’t worry about it,” Lachlan said casually, shoving his hands into his pockets. “I’m a college student, so I’m pretty used to messy rooms, heh. At least everything is in boxes rather than all over the place.” He’s bringing people in for testing before he’s even unpacked anything except the blood tester? It seemed a little overzealous to Lachlan, but there was no value in vocalizing that thought.

    “I just got my orders here yesterday, so it’s been a little hectic,” the officer explained. “I’m… not sure I’m going to be able to fit all my things into this tiny little closet they’ve given me, ehehe. Please, have a seat.”

    Lachlan fell into the nearest chair, and Officer Lewis settled into the other one. The investigator placed a hand on the blood testing device affectionately. “This is called a venipuncture robot. It’s going to take a small sample of your blood and run it through some tests, and when everything comes out clean, you’ll be good to go. If not, well… We shouldn’t have to worry about that, eh?”

    “Right,” Lachlan replied, smiling weakly. He seems so sure that no one is a demimon, he reflected. So doesn’t that make his job kind of useless? But I guess he wouldn’t want to alarm an actual demimon with aggressive behavior and frighten it into fighting…

    Officer Lewis returned the smile and flipped a switch on the device. It hummed to life. “That’s what I like to hear. Onward, then. Just place your wrist right here… Right. Just like that…”

    Lachlan swallowed uneasily as he looked down at the device. Come to think of it, he didn’t really fancy the idea of getting a hole poked in him by some machine. What if it went too far and just punctured his arm all the way through? Had his throat always been this tight? Oh, dear…

    “Ow!” It only hurt for a second, though. Blessedly. Lachlan watched with morbid, slightly squeamish interest as his own blood curled through the tubes. “Hmm…”

    “Yeah, sorry about that,” Officer Lewis said with a frown. “It’s a little bit primitive. As far as I understand, the folks at R&D are working on a way to identify demimon without needing cumbersome procedures like this… I mean, it’s disadvantageous to finding them on the fly, right? Heh.” He scratched the back of his head, eyes fixed on the gently whirring machine. “But it used to be worse, I guess. My mentor told me that when he first joined up, even this wasn’t automatic, and the investigators had to take blood samples themselves… It’s small steps, I guess.”

    Lachlan eyed the man incredulously. Is this guy making small talk with me? Does he act this way to everyone he’s implicating might be a monster? “It could be worse, yeah,” he replied, and left it at that.

    At length the machine made a small beeping noise, and Lachlan winced as the needles withdrew from his hand. Officer Lewis applied a bit of rubbing alcohol and plastered him up robotically. “It didn’t take a ton of blood, so you should be fine, but it’s always good to stay hydrated and whatnot…,” he suggested idly as the machine began printing a small receipt.

    Lachlan made his way over to the water cooler at last and threw back a healthy gulp. Damn, he’d needed that. When the machine was done printing, Officier Lewis swiped the paper off the miniature press and held it close to his face. “Hm.”

    “What?” Lachlan asked, his heart skipping. What could it possibly—

    “Indeterminate,” Officer Lewis said dryly, setting his jaw. “Damn it. I was really counting on getting a solid result… What a hassle.” He pinched the bridge of his nose. “All right. Well, you’re free to go for now. I’m going to need to run this to the lab for more precise testing. It’ll probably be a few days, but I’ll make another visit to your dormitory to let you know the results of the further testing as soon as I can.” The investigator stood there motionless a moment, then snapped his eyes back up to Lachlan. Awareness seemed to pour back into his posture. “Do you need me to walk you back?”

    Lachlan started. “Oh, uh… No, that’s fine. Thanks.” Officer Lewis nodded, and Lachlan made his way back home.

    “Indeterminate, huh?” he asked himself as he pushed the front door to the administrative building open. “Jeez. What a pain.”

    In his nonchalance, Lachlan was lying even to himself. What in the world did it all mean? How could his results be indeterminate? He found himself brushing his plaster with his fingers. It pulled up against his skin slightly, and he felt his hair follicles prickle in protest. Did this mean he had a trace amount of pokémon blood in him after all? Or was the machine just imprecise? What exactly did an “indeterminate” reading even mean? His heart skipped as he crossed the street.

    Had he been only mostly human this whole time? Was his destiny to be imprisoned for genes he didn’t know he had?

    Lachlan sighed. Before long, Harmonia Hall loomed before him. He made his way up the stairs.

    Only time could tell. As much as he hated to do it, the only thing Lachlan could really do was wait.

    He fell into his bed, folding his hands across his chest and staring with wide eyes into the pitch darkness that blanketed the ceiling.

    And wait he did.
     
  11. Firaga Metagross

    Firaga Metagross Auferstanden Aus Ruinen

    Good to see you're updating regularly; it's a good sign :). I'm liking what I'm seeing so far. The plot seems pretty routine at the moment, but the quality's good enough that I don't mind to much. Lachlan and Casey's introvert/extrovert dynamic works pretty well because their personalities and interests are already fleshed out enough that they feel pretty human. So do Rissa and Lewis, too. Little things like Lewis' messiness and lax attitude or Rissa's chit-chat go a long way.

    Looking forward to the reveal of Lachlan as a Demimon (or not, I've only got guesses). He seems to have pretty standard opinions of them, so I'm looking forward to his reaction and/or self-loathing.

    Keep up the good work!
     
    kacklord likes this.
  12. Umbramatic

    Umbramatic The Ghost Lord

    Finally got around to reading this! I know I betaed the prologue, but I really wanted to read the rest so far.

    Stories about human/Pokemon hybrids are always intresting, and it amuses me the one Pokemon fic you read fully before this was Morphic. (Your handling of it is also intresting for me where I'm reinterpreting the whole Aurics/Psychics thing as par of a broader spectrum of Pokemon-esqe powers in one of my fics.) But it cuts in a pretty interesting way from the violent, dramatic opening to the normal life of a college student which is definitely taking a turn for the abnormal as far as I can tell. :V I like Lachlan as a protagonist - perfect sort of unsuspecting everyman for this kind of story also he's totally a furry.

    I do wonder what became of Wyatt. I suspect we haven't seen the last of him. Or at least I hope we haven't. Poor guy.

    But you've got a nice start here and I can't wait to see where this goes.
     

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