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Phantom Project

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by diamondpearl876, Oct 24, 2016.

  1. Cutlerine

    Cutlerine Gone. Not coming back.

    As promised, it's a Rennio chapter! And it's pretty good, too. The work you've done developing his voice is apparent; his verbal tics, the way his thoughts curl back on themselves into the past and into questions that skew towards the paranoid and unanswerable, feel really distinctive – as does his predilection for making! Impassioned! Mental! Interjections! It's been a while since I read Survival Project at this point, but as far as I remember, this is a real improvement.

    And we've got plot, too! I don't know quite what I was expecting, but once it happened I was like ah right, yeah, this is exactly the kind of plot a story like this would have. Whatever that actually means; I'm still not entirely sure myself. But what you've got is definitely interesting, and the way you played it here with Rennio's reaction makes it very clear you're going to be considering its effects on all the members of the team, to the fullest extent. Which is excellent news.

    If I had one criticism, it's that I think sometimes the information is packed in a bit too tightly. The 4.5 segment is probably where that shows most: lines like “hence why the shyer, less mischievous elekid had agreed to her idea” introduce a lot of new data in a very short space of time, and when you compress all that information down into one clause like that it doesn't always read very naturally. Taking it a little slower and things out a bit would go a long way towards counteracting that.

    A related note: you should have more confidence in your ability to convey what a character is like without telling the reader outright, because you can totally do that! Like, we don't need to be told that Tamron is shyer and less mischievous at all, actually, because you've already shown it: one, Tamron was less enthusiastic than Corinne initially; two, Rennio asked whether or not Tamron agreed to the contest as a way of testing whether or not Corinne was going too far; and three, Corinne said it was surprising that he'd agreed. By that point, you've shown what kind of personality Tamron has, in quite a subtle and effective way, and that's part of what makes additional information like the line I've been talking about feel like excess information.

    A typo I spotted:

    You're missing a word here, but I'm not sure what it is. 'Tangled', maybe?

    Ultimately – great chapter! Rennio's come a long way, both in terms of who he is and in terms of how he's written, and that really shines through here. And I’m really looking forward to learning more about the plot and how that's going to develop, too.
  2. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner Peace to the Mountain

    Idk, that choice of words just made me smile.

    Now there's a conflict I don't see too often. A curious sort of offshoot of survivor's guilt, I suppose. A sense of betraying what could've been by enjoying what is. Very particular sort of ache, and it comes through quite well.

    I wonder if Sai and co. will take the offer. It's understandable, how Rennio could be apprehensive about another shakeup, but at the same time I can't help but think that it might be just what they need.
  3. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    Yeah! These! Were! Fun! To! Write! But yeah, in Survival Project, he pretty much sounded just like everyone else. Super glad to hear you think it's an improvement! :D

    Lmao, I'm not sure, either, but it made me laugh/smile, so I'll take it. XD Yeah, the plot is loosely based off a real life experience of mine (and I do mean loosely, as it took me about 10 minutes on Google to locate a family member) and I think the Pokemon world can potentially lend to a lot more interesting, dramatic interpretations of that. Family - blood related or otherwise - is important to these characters, at any rate, and after losing not only a team member but someone they'd consider family... Well, I'm excited to delve into the team dynamics. :D

    Duly noted! I suppose I thought there was a lot to introduce in this chapter and didn't want to risk anything seeming underdone or confusing.

    I know we talked a lot about this on Discord, but yeah, it's probably due to the recent lack of writing confidence as well. ^^; Thanks for pointing out a concrete example to help me see what I'm doing right!

    RIP, yeah, tangled was it. I think I'd debated just cutting out that part entirely and messed up when putting it back in. Fixed, thanks!

    Thanks so much for reading/commenting, as always! It means a ton! :D <3

    Aw, well, I'm glad you liked it!

    Indeed. I think it's more common to think something along the lines of "they'd want you to be happy," but Rennio's got enough of a lack of confidence to even question that. Glad you thought the emotion came through there!

    Yeah, Marty and Sasha think it's just what they need, too. :D ...Even though it was quite awkward for them, trying to tell Sai why. Rennio's quite prone to reacting immediately to change with doubt and fear, so the thought of whether this might be what they need hasn't crossed his mind. We'll see the others' reactions in the next chapter, hehe.

    Thanks for reading and reviewing!!! Glad to see you back!
  4. jirachiman876

    jirachiman876 The King of Kirby

    Well, I finally got to get caught up on this.
    I'm still really enjoying this. It's really interesting to see how everyone is processing certain events with the unique chapter style. Kuiora with the funeral and Rennio with the possibility of the going on a journey again.
    I'm really excited that we may see more Sasha and Marty. I do enjoy Marty's character and his past dealing with his parents. I'm excited for more development of Sasha too.
    I swear all these chapters are just full of feels. The loss of Senori hurt. He was definitely one of my favorites too. But I would suppose that the lifespan of the early Pokemon do kind of make sense. They don't stick around too long. It's a very cool little bit of world building and not too common with fics.
    I am excited to see how everyone reacts to the possibility of going on a journey. I'm wondering if some will stay or will it be an all or nothing type of deal. I'm excited to find out what's gonna happen when/if Sash and Marty find their long lost brother. It's a pretty cool plotline to say the least.
    jirachiman out ;385;
  5. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    Hi! Glad you're here! :)

    Happy to hear that you're interested in Marty and Sasha! I do think they're overshadowed by other characters, but I still like them a lot, so it's always good to hear when someone else does, too. And heh, feels are what I aim for. They bring my stories and my characters to life for me.

    Thanks for taking the time to catch up here and commenting!
  6. The Great Butler

    The Great Butler Hush, keep it down

    At least one of us can make deadlines!

    I stripped out the link in the quote, but the piece is really good! So, thank you from me too, AetherX. :p

    Fantastic description that really gets the reader into the setting right away from the start.

    Oh, Corinne. This cuteness certainly isn’t setting me up for heartbreaking sad stuff later or anything :p

    After what he’s been through, I can’t blame him.

    Boy, I know that feeling. Hopefully Rennio can find some help…

    He did pay attention to at least a little of it, it seems.

    The first lines of this paragraph are a little confusingly worded. I would remove the first “her” and replace it with “Corinne.”

    This idea by itself tells me so much about Corrine and Tamron… what troublemakers, though it looks to be borne out of innocence instead of malice.

    Still not the best idea out there, probably.

    That has to speak to the magnitude of what this break represents to him, because if you think about it, he’s never been able to hold on to his loved ones. First Annie, now Sai’s group is falling apart, who next?

    This is a really interesting title because it could mean a few different things. I’m taking it to mean that there’s more to Rennio than we’ve yet seen, and now we will see it.

    Rennio, no, don’t do that to yourself.

    Couple of things to unpack here. First, a month is a pretty big amount of time to skip forward, but it works here. It allows the narrative to advance story elements that would normally take a long time to develop while slowing down as it wants to to focus on smaller moments, such as this.

    Second, the way Rennio processes and thinks about these things does sound very much like the way a child would do so, and considering his relative age that’s very appropriate. It’s also incredibly emotional, but what else would I expect from you? :p

    This is really relatable, I don’t know what other way to say it…

    I can picture this quite clearly in my mind.

    Wow, did those three paragraphs hurt to read… of course, that’s why I’m here, after all.

    Rennio, no! Don’t do this to yourself!!

    This might be the most heartbreaking part so far, because that sense of lost innocence, the way that someone who was once innocent and caring becomes unable to care about anything or anyone anymore – that’s something that happens in the real world all the time, so it’s the realism that makes it hurt.

    Rennio is going to destroy himself. I hate to say it but there’s no way I can deny it.

    I wonder if Rennio is right about that. Something tells me that he’s going to find out understanding humans may not be that different after all.

    He’s not wrong about this, though.

    That’s a good thing that Sai has a support network like this. Also, great character development on Marty’s part.

    I don’t think I like the sound of that…

    Oh, Rennio, that innocence is going to be gone soon enough.

    That’s a cute image I don’t know if I needed right now.

    I am… not really liking where this is going. Marty’s difference in character right now is well noted.

    Yeah, something definitely feels off here.

    That was pretty funny. Well done, Shin.

    …not really sure how to take that one.

    “The poor fish couldn’t breathe out of water.”

    That line really feels fitting here. I think it’s because it’s sort of like a metaphor for Rennio’s situation, which feels increasingly claustrophobic and suffocating thanks to how isolated he is.

    Rennio’s responsibility is impressive. It’s just sad that he had to learn it under the circumstances that he did…

    That little bit about the pent-up electricity, that’s a great touch.

    Something tells me Sasha’s not being entirely honest here.

    Also, could you give me a refresher on how people other than Sai understand Pokemon speech in this story? Is it just a practiced skill of perception?

    Well that’s more like the Marty I know.

    That even made me a little tense, which is a sign you did it correctly.

    I find myself wondering if we won’t get that question addressed at some point.

    Now this is more like the Marty I know.

    Hey, I’m worried too, you know?

    For whatever reason it is, this is at least much better than the reason I thought they had come. Not that it’s not going to hurt Sai, but I was fearing something worse.

    Actually, now that I think about it in these terms, I find myself thinking that if I were in Sai’s shoes I’d be incredibly hurt and possibly be considering not wanting to talk to them very much and shutting myself off for a while instead.

    It’s a little depressing that Rennio’s growth has led him to a point where he’d jump to think something like this, but for what he’s been through, it’s understandable.

    It feels to me like Sasha is underselling the magnitude of their discovery a little bit. Like, for something that could change everything one believes about their entire life, you’d think she’d have a little more of a reaction.

    I do like Rennio’s identifying himself with it, though.

    I think Sasha might be acting a little too harshly on Marty here. He’s right, even if he didn’t say it very tactfully.

    I have to be honest, I’m a little turned off by how Sasha seems to be disrespecting what Sai finds fun a little. I’m thinking that maybe you accidentally had her come on stronger than you meant to, or didn’t emphasize enough that Sai was offering it as an excuse. I think this can be fixed just by adjusting it for more clarity.

    I think I get what you were going for here, but it’s a little confusing. I can pinpoint exactly why I’m confused: having “a plan” in this context is usually understood to mean having a plan to commit suicide, which would be entirely appropriate for Sasha to be asking him right now, but after that she seems to actually be asking him if he has a plan of what to do after Senori’s death. Both are valid options for the scene, but it would do to have a little more clarity on which one is actually in play here.

    I think that, on some level, Rennio is just as concerned about his life going upside down even more if things go wrong. The impression I’m getting is that he’s using his concern for Sai to manage (read: not address) his own personal fears for himself.

    I’m glad I talked to you about this, because if I didn’t know it was deliberate I might have been a bit more bothered by Sasha being rather disrespectful to Sai.

    The situation clearly is taking its toll on the Pokemon, or at least on Rennio. I hope someone will be able to look out for them, too.

    This paragraph hits me hard emotionally. I’m not exactly sure why.

    Now that, that troubles me. I wonder why it’s easy for Rennio to forget that…

    Something gives me a gut feeling that that dinner won’t be going so well.

    There he goes worrying about others again. :p

    I don’t know, something strikes me as a little weird with Marty calling anyone a “timid little Skitty.” It’s not bad or wrong, it just feels a little unusual.

    I think he should have told Sasha this. At least Marty is dealing with forgetting head-on, but considering the earlier parts of the conversation that Sasha was involved in, I kind of wish Sai had said something.

    So Marty and Sasha are much more important to Sai’s situation right now than I thought…

    I had forgotten until now just how ugly the situation Sasha and Marty came from…

    Good question.

    Just talking about this must be so hard for Sai right now, considering his issues with his own mother.

    That’s… well, yeah, I don’t think I can think of a better word to describe it other than “terrible.”

    With such little information I wonder if this is a thread the story itself will even be following. I’d like to hope to learn more, but that may not be happening.

    As much as I hate to say it, I can kind of feel for where Sai finds himself right now. What he’s saying he feels is something I can relate to.

    And that really means something considering how much drama Sai’s had himself.

    It certainly wouldn’t be good if Sai decided to go without asking his Pokemon. It would also be incredibly out of character for him, which would make it something he’d believably do with how out of it he is right now.

    And now that I’m done reading and I have no more comments, I have to say, getting through this was emotionally pretty tough. You already know that based on what I’ve said to you, lol. But don’t take that as a criticism – for the kind of story this is, you want to be emotionally challenging your readers, and you more than succeeded at that. You got me liking the characters you have and investing me in what happens to them, and that’s the foundation you need to get an emotional response. Excellent work.
    diamondpearl876 likes this.
  7. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    It's easier when you tell other people about your deadline so they can bug you to get it done. XD

    OF course not. Only a cruel author would do that.

    Dissociation tends to make you still feel detached even if you're trying to pay attention, sadly.

    Guess you'll have to keep reading and find out if there is a next one, eh? ;P

    Heh, hit the nail on the head as usual.

    Glad to hear on both fronts. XD Time skips are hard to get right in general, I think, and Rennio's childish voice didn't quite work in the original, so... Been trying to rectify that here.

    I'll say I appreciate you staying on for this ride even if it is super emotional.

    Yay, thank you~ Marty was another semi-failed part of SP, lol, so yeah.

    Some people are just forced to grow up too soon, and too fast.

    I have to remember they're Pokémon sometimes, right? XD

    Yeah, practice and exposure is the key to understanding Pokémon here (and across all of my stories, really). The more experience you've had being around and observing Pokémon, the more likely you'll be able to understand their speech and body language.

    We did talk about this, yeah, and that's understandable. Sai could very well react similarly, or at least badly, himself.

    Yeah, I wasn't too sure about her dialogue. She was purposely trying to do that to not scare Sai and to kinda not get emotional herself about it, but it might've sounded too stiff.

    Fair enough. I'll think on it for edits and moving forward with her character, since their friendship is likely to be tense after... everything. :p

    I actually meant both. Well, to specify, Sasha meant a plan of what he's going to do now that Senori's gone. Sai's deadpan "my plan" means suicide's crossing his mind, but there's no real way to clarify that through first person if he's not the POV, I don't think?

    Agreed. And that doesn't usually end well for the person avoiding their issues. :p

    Or it'll just be super awkward. : ' ) I don't plan to show a scene with the dinner, but yeah, i imagined it being awkward.

    Hmm, could be the Pokémon reference? With Pokémon being pretty sentient, could come off as weird, yeah...

    He was a little too afraid of potentially upsetting her, unfortunately. I tried to portray the reservation through body language.

    Indeed. Them and their past will play a pretty important role throughout the story.

    We will for sure. :p Gonna try balancing quite a few plots/subplots intermingling here. We'll see how it goes.

    and that's how I can get away with writing almost anything

    Nah, but for real, Sai's made good headway on his reactions like that. That said, he's under a lot of emotional stress, so he could regress a bit...

    Again, I appreciate you sticking through it! I... know it's pretty rough, emotionally, believe me. But it means a lot that readers are on board the emotional rollercoaster with me, so to speak. And thanks, too, for the insightful comments. :D Apologies for the late reply - been a bit rough IRL, so. Getting back into the swing of things, though, slowly but surely.
  8. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    ughhhhhh 7 months to update even though I wrote all this in a week, why am I like this

    This chapter mostly serves to introduce a familiar character from SP in more depth before we dive into the main antagonist's appearance next time. Enjoy 'n' stuff~ <3




    It had just started feeling like October.

    Olivine City was cold and remarkably devoid of tourists as a result. Locals brave enough to roam the streets braced themselves with layer after layer of clothing, their pokémon similarly wrapped up in custom knitted hats and scarves. Gracie, a fire-type who found the changing of the seasons more tolerable than most, kept her gaze on the dying hawthorn leaves covering the boardwalk leading to the sea. Crisp and shriveled up, their dryness wouldn’t react well to the flames on her back if they touched. She found some amusement in the way nature left her such an easy way to destroy a city if she chose to do so…

    Gracie flinched as she noticed a palossand waking from its slumber out of the corner of her eye. That meant she was a few blocks away from the Pokémon Center now, where the rest of her team sans Senori competed over a game of spades. The furret had claimed to want to convince Sai that apartment hunting would be a better use of his time, but now, he jogged on all fours behind her. The quilava guessed that conversation hadn’t gone as planned.

    And she could understand Sai’s reluctance, really. Trainers were offered a hefty discount at all Johto Centers, not to mention free food and rather cozy, hotel-like accommodations. The Nurse Joy on duty most often knew them all by name and never turned down a request of theirs. Still, it’d have been nice to have a permanent home to return to.

    But Gracie couldn’t complain, not really. Things were quiet and peaceful overall. And Senori livened things up when she needed it.

    It came as no surprise to her that Senori suggested they go for a swim once they reached the sea proper.

    “A fire-type afraid of water…” he mused, grinning. “So typical. I wanna prove to you it’s not so scary!”

    The quilava yawned, unimpressed with his bravado. “Yeah, no, because I know how it’s gonna go,” she said. “As soon as you dip your toe in there, you’ll complain that it’s freezing and demand we go home to warm up again.”

    “What’s that got to do with you swimming?” Senori folded his arms and puffed out his cheeks, pouting. “The water shouldn’t be too cold for you, right?”

    “Maybe. Maybe not. Won’t be much fun if you don’t join me, though.”

    Senori started, nearly tripping over his own tail. He caught himself in time and mumbled quietly as he brushed away a clod of dirt stuck under his foot. Laughing, Gracie reminded him that he’d been helping her settle ever since she switched trainers. Trying out new things together was a staple of their friendship already.

    The furret took a deep breath and said, “Okay, just for that, you’re definitely going for a swim today.”

    “Whatever you say.”

    As it turned out, the duo practically had the beach to themselves, too, aside from a bale of shuckle arranged in a circle, peering into each other’s shells and combing through their collections of oran berries. They dumped the overripe ones onto the sand and retreated to the top of a nearby sea stack. A lone krabby scuttled by and gathered the scraps, then hissed as Senori and Gracie strolled by. Bubbles foaming from its mouth were carried away by the wind and toward the latest wave rolling in.

    Gracie didn’t shy away as the wave soaked one of her paws. She’d visited the beach before, and though she had a habit of purposely blocking out unpleasant memories, she found herself reliving the moment when her new team decided to make Olivine City their home. Sai had rented a beach house, despite how expensive they were, to help everyone unwind after the Team Rocket incident. Senori joked with him about never getting to take baths, Kuiora tried to teach him the art of swimming, and even Atis spun on the water’s surface like a circus acrobat just to make him laugh!

    Of course, Gracie herself had settled into a shady spot on the shore, where the sand was cool and the sun couldn’t taunt her flames. She watched on, stiff-backed and quiet and invisible, searching for the inevitable sign that would confirm her choice to join Sai’s team was a mistake.

    In the end, she found none.

    She supposed that explained why she’d ventured to the beach of her own accord today—to continue the search. All the tension engulfing the team, all their jokes and attempts at pretending... Gracie got the distinct feeling that toughing it out with them would be worth it. But eventually, maybe she’d realize this wasn’t a battle worth fighting. Maybe she’d rescind her choice to stay with the team. To her it was a baffling, paradoxical choice to make for reasons she had no words for, but a choice nonetheless.

    As for Senori? He chose to use a weakened version of his slam attack on Gracie. She stumbled deeper into the shore, the lower half of her body submerged completely. On all fours, he sprinted after her, stifling a giggle before he caved in and the sound of his laughter echoed in her ears.

    Instinct told her to draw in her flames as she struggled to stand up straight and avoid plunging face first into the undertow. When she finally stabilized, she noticed Senori next to her, punished with chattering teeth and damp fur while her body temperature kept her warm.

    “That’s what you get,” she said jokingly, digging her paws in the sand on the ocean floor below her. She forced herself to stay put, to be grounded in the present moment and not ruin the fun for her best friend.

    “Yeah, yeah.” He shivered and shook his fur, droplets plopping back into the ocean where they belonged. “At least the water’s not too hot for me in the summer. Then it’s perfect!”

    “Since you like to brag so much,” she said, “show me what I’m supposed to know, see if I can get the hang of this swimming thing.”

    “About that…” The furret rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. Peering out into the distance, he lost his train of thought, his voice replaced by the undulation of the waves sounding slow and subdued like a soft sigh.

    Gracie rolled her eyes. “You don’t actually know how to swim, do you?” she said.

    His head snapped back in her direction, a grin plastered on his face as he said, “Nope.”

    “Figures.” She paused, not moving an inch. “So, what do we do now?”

    “Probably the only thing we can do is learn to swim, you know, together… or go back and see Sai and co.”

    It was a lose-lose situation. The winter-like weather would take its toll on them in no time at all, sooner rather than later for the furret. And if she remembered right, the sun would start setting soon, at which point they’d risk having to navigate back to the Pokémon Center in the dark. Yet the thought of spending any longer in that cramped room, not knowing exactly if and when they’d pack up and settle elsewhere, was enough to persuade Gracie to give swimming a try.

    Senori didn’t wait for an answer. “Here, let’s just do this,” he said, and with that, he dipped his paws underwater and grabbed hold of one of Gracie’s. With a swift flick of his wrist, he propelled her leg forward a few inches. “Reach out and touch. Baby steps and all that, right?”

    Gracie stared at him, dumbfounded. She hardly called this an accomplishment of any kind, but it was as good a starting point as any.


    chapter 6 ; [GRACIE]


    “Come on, Sai. Don’t make this harder than it has to be.”

    I lingered in Trainer’s room, lights out and door shut tight. Rennio’s words should’ve come off muffled from the kitchen, but they struck so clear-cut I thought he was screaming them into my ear.

    Trainer never bothered to make his bed, so I didn’t have to feel guilty about curling up in the cotton sheets draped onto the floor. There was nowhere else to go without attracting anyone’s attention. Yes, they all probably thought me pathetic for hiding, but by the sound of it, our apartment wouldn’t be ours much longer. Then we’d lose so much. Then when I’d get to searching for something familiar to see or smell or hear, I wouldn’t be able to find it. I had to hide while I still could and hold on to what we had, while we had it.

    “I’m just saying Olivine’s getting boring, and traveling with my closest friends sounds nice. To me, at least.”

    “What? Olivine’s not boring, thank you very much. The sea is here.”

    “Not the point, Kuiora,” Rennio said. “He wants to play the hero and help them at his own expense. Oh, and ours. Do you think—”

    Atis raised his voice to interrupt Rennio. That was my cue to tune out the conversation completely; he only ever contributed to a serious conversation when he was obligated to play the middleman. I knew how things would play out: Atis would stutter, Ezrem would poke fun, Kuiora would scold both of them, and finally, the jokes would give way to quiet and everyone would go their separate ways until the tension blew up again later.

    My back shivered, and I forced myself to focus on keeping my flames suppressed. Not that Trainer would’ve cared if his bed sheets caught fire and reduced the place to a pile of debris, blacker like charcoal, blacker than even the darkness around me. And if I were being honest? Right now, if Trainer ordered a fire blast out of me, I wouldn’t say no, wouldn’t question him unless I never saw a hint of regret afterward. Just how much did we mean to him? The answer to that seemed to depend on the day, ever changing like everything else about him.

    As expected, Ezrem and Kuiora started bickering a few moments later. Covering my ears, their voices outside became simple background noise. Unfortunately, that left me alone with my thoughts, and my guilt—that familiar, bottomless pit of guilt—stormed in to chastise me. Trainer was suffering, too, wasn’t he? So how could I judge him so harshly at a time like this?

    It was easy, far easier than it should’ve been. There were plenty of ways we could’ve worked through Senori’s death together. Silence was not one of them. We were supposed to be a team, after all. We were eight different bodies, all consumed by the same grief, but still we acted like strangers every time we bumped into each other. It was as if we didn’t trust each other to share in our loss, even if it meant healing and moving on.

    I could only hope I was overreacting, and that Trainer hadn’t told us much so he could think on it more and avoid a scene. Rennio, excitable as ever, had stepped in to fill in the missing details first chance he got. Marty and Sasha wanted to chase down a long lost sibling? They were going to travel across Johto, searching for leads? They asked Trainer to be their travel companion because they were worried about him? And of course it was Marty and Sasha, because only they were capable of uprooting all the progress I’d made in life so far…

    It seemed to be a trainer thing, disappointing pokémon. Marty gave up on the gym circuit dream years back after learning I didn’t care for him as a trainer, effectively screwing over everyone else on the team—two fliers, a swimmer, and a psychic. They needed open space; fire was best left contained.

    As for Sasha, she had wanted to open up a florist shop for trainers to fly out to their loved ones as they traveled. She was going to get her degree in botany, adopt several grass-types from the Azalea shelter, build a massive greenhouse… but she gave up halfway through the paperwork for all these things.

    Still, I couldn’t deny that I’d disappointed others as a pokémon just as often, if not more.

    The bedroom door opened. Flinching, my paws instinctively latched onto the sheets and pulled them above my head, as if they’d transform into an invisible cloak if I willed them to.

    “Oh, Gracie,” Trainer said, his tone flat. “So this is where you went.”

    Whimpering, I lowered the sheets and caught a glimpse of him, his hair ragged and head tilted. At least he left the door cracked open so I could gauge his mood better, but then I had to deal with the team’s unhappy grumbling from the kitchen creeping in like a ghost.

    “Yes…” I said, but I wasn’t loud enough to drown out the grumbling. I repeated myself and added, “Tired. A little bit sad. Maybe a little more than just a little bit. You know how it goes.”

    “That I do,” Trainer said, a hint of a smile in there. “Want me to leave ‘em off as usual?”


    “The lights, Gracie.”

    Right. What else? Trainer noticed my preference for the darkness of his own accord long ago and had adapted to fumbling around, memorizing the location of everything, everywhere—in his own bedroom, and just for my sake. He never even asked me to light the way with my flames.

    I nodded, realizing my mistake immediately, but the silence this time was enough. His hands grazed along the bumpy drywall he got permission to paint back when we first moved in and were motivated to make the place our own. Eventually I heard him switch to using the tips of his fingers only, like he was tracing veins on someone’s wrist and searching for their pulse.

    When he reached the attached bathroom, he grabbed his electric toothbrush and leaned against the sink. His normal bedtime routine, except his toothbrush clinked against the counter before he picked it up again. No doubt Senori was on his mind; no doubt he’d bumped into a piece of his grief in the darkness when he least expected it; no doubt I’d get but a sigh in response if asked if he was all right.

    I wanted to tell him I was there, too. That I felt what he felt, and maybe one of us felt a bit worse than the other or remembered a memory somewhat differently, but that wasn’t the point. I was there, really there, and ready to talk. Didn’t he know that? The darkness didn’t erase our existence.

    Wordlessly, Trainer finished up in the bathroom and hopped into bed. He was careful to tiptoe his way there so as to not trip over anything… or anyone.

    “It’s early, I know,” he said. Like he really knew the exact thing I was thinking of in that moment. “I’m meeting Mom tomorrow, though. Usual place, if you’re up for it.”

    I frowned, remembering how Trainer was kind, yes, but almost to a fault. After everything his mother put him through, he still met with her every month at the Wavefront Café down on Beechwyn Avenue, names I only remember because they reminded me of the ocean and how the water felt caressing my paws. Trainer swore by their black coffee—nowhere else made it quite so bittersweet—and we always seemed to catch the waitress that assured Trainer’s mother that she’d put double provolone on her grilled chicken sandwich at no extra charge.

    “Don’t know just yet,” I said slowly. It was the truth, at least. “You think you’ll need me there?”

    “Need you?” Trainer said as I heard him lie down and position the comforter. “I mean, not really,” he finally answered.

    “Oh. Well, in that case—”

    “It’d just be nice to have you or someone around. That’s all I’m saying.”

    Me or someone. Anyone. Whoever it was convenient for. His head sank into the pillow; my shoulders slumped.

    I pushed down the sense of inadequacy swelling in my chest and focused on Trainer and his mom, alone together for the first time since Senori passed… A hug from most mothers could assuage their kid’s pain—just a tiny sliver, of course, but she’d carry the burden as long as she had to. Melanie Luart was a mother only capable of inflicting new kinds of pain and expecting Trainer to handle the weight of it alone.

    “I can. I think. Probably best to wait until the morning to say for sure, but count me in for now.”

    No response. My body seemingly slipped away from me as my mind demanded my full attention.

    Marty and Sasha’s mom, she wore bangle bracelets that clinked as she walked because I’d flinch anytime she walked into the room unexpectedly. She passed them on to Sasha when she grew so frail it was a wonder there was anything left of her for her bones to support. And Marty told me a few times he missed how she never pushed him to talk when he only had the energy to offer a one-shouldered shrug. She had a knack for empathy that, from the sound of it, few others could match.

    No, Melanie wasn’t anything like her. Instead, she reminded me of Marty and Sasha’s dad, the tyrant who shamelessly beat and bruised his children, his deep baritone voice enlightening them as to how little he cared for their existence every chance it got. It’d been years since Melanie had any real hold on Trainer, but I couldn’t imagine how he felt, exposing his sadness to the woman who’d done her fair share in building it up only to ignore it.

    I couldn’t imagine what Marty and Sasha felt in their situation right now, either. I couldn’t even guess or ask or observe them from a hiding spot from another room in their house.

    Despite myself, I suddenly found myself wanting be part of Marty’s team again, with Sasha and Marin and Halcyon and Peoria, all of them, just to know. Just to not be left in the dark.


    As it turned out, when morning came I wasn’t up to being Trainer’s awkward third wheel at Wavefront.

    I told him I’d tag along anyway with the most enthusiastic voice I could muster, because that’s what good pokémon do. They fight battles, physical or otherwise. If he found himself in the middle of some kind of war, I’d fight alongside him—or for him, if I could.

    But my teammates hadn’t forgiven him for last night’s conversation, nor were they feeling generous. Ezrem was perched on the back of the couch, pecking at a bowl of cereal balancing on the edge of the armrest and looking Trainer square in the eye. His chewing was loud and obnoxious. And of course he just shrugged when a large crumb fell onto the floor and bounced a few inches. Leaving his own cereal on the table half-finished, Trainer disappeared into his bedroom wordlessly.

    Shin munched away loudly as well, except on an unopened crate of tennis balls. Kuiora chuckled and plopped down next to him.

    “We may have found the one thing he can’t tear through right away,” she said.

    “It’s just plastic, isn’t it…?” Atis asked, taking a step toward Shin and tilting his head.

    Shin growled and grabbed the crate in his paws, bounding over to Rennio near the apartment’s front door. He nearly tripped over himself in his excitement. His eyes pleading, he held the crate up to the elekid.

    “I wanna see what happens when you give it a good shock, Rennio!” he said.

    Rennio blinked, then offered a slight smile. “Not a good idea indoors like this… Sorry, buddy,” he said.

    “Aw.” Shin looked this way and that, his gaze soon settling on me. A devilish grin spread across his face as he bounded over to me at the entrance to Trainer’s bedroom. “What about you, Gracie?”

    “Fire’s not safe, either,” I said, waving him away.

    In a rage, the totodile threw the crate of tennis balls on the ground. “You can summon your flames whenever you want. And we’ve got a fireplace,” he said. “Lame excuses, guys.”

    “Give it a week or so. Then you’ll all be in the good ol’ wilderness all the time, just like me,” Ezrem piped in, rolling his eyes.

    “Yeah, because you’re exactly what we aspire to be,” I retorted.

    “Hey, you’ve only got your old trainer to blame. Don’t know what his deal is, but…” Ezrem’s voice trailed off.

    “But forgive us if we’re still a little skeptical of him. He was pretty mean to Sai years ago,” Kuiora finished on his behalf, followed by an affirmative grunt from Atis and Rennio.

    I nodded stupidly. Perhaps this explained why the silence was bearable for them. They knew each other well enough to know what they were thinking without forming words and sentences to validate their suspicions. They knew what each other were feeling even if what they felt didn’t have a name.

    If they all understood each other so well and this wasn’t just another kind of façade… that was great for them, less so for me. After all these years, was I really still so separate from them?

    Just then, the door to Trainer’s bedroom opened. He stepped out, a shoulder bag slung over his back. I sidled slowly over to the front door to show him I wanted to bounce before another conversation could spark.

    “Ah, sorry, Gracie. Had to find Glori’s ball and some papers I promised I’d bring Mom,” Trainer said sheepishly as he followed my lead. The crate of tennis balls rolled in front of his feet after Shin dropped it, but Trainer merely sidestepped it. Shin retrieved it himself, sticking his tongue out at Trainer.

    “Oh?” Ezrem said, an eyebrow raised. “Well, look at that! Won’t be just Sai after all.”

    “I think you should tag along, Ezrem,” Rennio quipped. “Get out of the house for a while, you know?”

    “As if he doesn’t do that enough!” Kuiora said.

    “That’s… the point of the joke, yeah.”

    Kuiora offered another retort, but I tuned her out. “Glori wants to come? Really?” I asked Trainer.

    He glanced down at me, brushing a lock of hair out of his face and waiting for a signal that it was okay to get going. From the glint in the light, it seemed he’d taken care to gel his in place, and in a new style—teased forward to give it a spiky appearance, but smooth on the side.

    “Well…” His voice trailed off as I placed my paw on the door and we saw ourselves out. “I asked her to, and she didn’t say no, at least,” he finished in a whisper.

    “Good enough for me.”

    “Me, too.”

    Wavefront was a quaint café, with bright yellow and baby blue walls. Beige bookshelves lined the front area and held seashells, postcards, travel guides, and other knickknacks that tourists could buy as gifts. The smell of mocha wafted in from the seating area, where several booths divided by wide aquariums took up a good portion of the wall space. Between the aquariums stood glass dividers, probably to prevent stealing, and so that pokémon didn’t have the means to battle and potentially destroy the café.

    Trainer scanned the place, holding his hand above his eyes like he was looking out at the sea proper. I listened among the chitchat for a recognizable voice before the glow of a staryu’s core flashing caught my eye and distracted me. Its topmost appendage waved at me as it caught me staring, and I looked down out of embarrassment.

    A hostess approached us then, asking us if Trainer was lost. She had to refer to him as “sir” three times before she broke his trance.

    “I’m here to meet my mom,” he explained, not making eye contact with her. “Just looking for her.”

    “Would she perhaps be on the freshwater or saltwater side?” she asked.

    “Uh, freshwater.” Trainer fished Glori’s ball out of his bag and held it out for the hostess to take. I’ve been here before, but not with a water-type. I’m not sure how I…”

    “Whatever you’ve got in there isn’t too big, I assume. Come this way, see if we can’t find your mom at the back.”

    “Right. Thanks.”

    The hostess nodded to me, which I took to mean I should subdue my flames a bit more than I already had. Non-trainer humans didn’t pay much attention to ‘mon around here unless they needed something from us. As we followed the hostess to the freshwater side of the dining area, a man paused halfway through a bite of smoked salmon to pull his table’s skirt inward just in time for me to pass by. I extinguished my flames completely, adding this encounter to the list of times people thought I’d gotten too close for comfort. The urge to want to fold inside myself and disappear made my heart race, and I counted thirty seconds before Trainer was seated across his mom and was explaining that she’d tried to find a secluded corner of the café out of habit more than anything.

    “I guess I would’ve done the same,” Trainer said.

    Bowls of food pellets sat at the end of the table closest to the aquarium, the usual goodies on the other end: menus, bread with butter packets, near empty bottles of ketchup and mustard, and silverware rolled up in thick napkins. Trainer leaned forward, rolling Glori’s pokéball back and forth in his hands instead of setting himself up to eat. Melanie, her eyes just as rich of a blue as Trainer’s, watched him as if he were swinging a pendulum around.

    She gave Trainer a sympathetic glance and reached out to fold his hands over hers. “That’s the sweetie, huh,” she said.

    “Yeah, this is Glori.” Trainer examined the area above our table’s aquarium for a moment, the bubbling of the filter like a soothing melody. “Oh, here we go,” he said, standing and reaching above his head to pull open a hatch. He aimed the pokéball’s light at the opening he’d just unveiled. In a flash of red light, Glori materialized inside the tank, the level of water rising slightly.

    Melanie nodded at the magikarp. That was better than the absolute nothing I received as a greeting. Wasn’t she a fire-type trainer? If so, what was with the immense interest in Glori? Not knowing the answer to that question made my skin crawl.

    I watched as she tapped her lips with the tip of her index finger, scrutinizing Glori’s movements. Like me, Glori wasn’t afraid to meet her gaze with a flair of skepticism to boot.

    After a minute, Melanie cleared her thought, seemingly oblivious to the meaning of our body language. Her eyes scanned the rest of the aquarium. White gravel lined the bottom mixed with multicolored gems, bright as neon, along with chunks of driftwood molded into the shape of a cave. The place clearly ran a bit cheap with its artificial bamboo plants and anemones wavering lifelessly.

    “Cute sign,” she finally said, pointing at a faded ‘no fishing’ sign plopped down crookedly near a decoration piece in the shape of a ship.

    “Yeah. Not sure how many fishing fanatics are really around here, but yeah.”

    Melanie grabbed a menu at the end of the table, but shoved it under a notebook and pen she’d been covering with her forearms before now. She didn’t bother to hand Trainer a menu of his own.

    “So,” she said, “plain red and white pokéball.”

    Trainer lifted the ball up, gaping at it like it wasn’t meant to be in his possession anymore. Shoving it back into his pocket, he grunted in affirmation and turned to me.

    “If you’re hungry, come here,” he said, patting the cushioned seat next to him. All the awkwardness from this place so far melted away from me in an instant. I hopped up into the booth, climbing over his lap to claim the spot closest to the aquarium.

    Glori swam over to me and plinked on the glass. “I know what you’re thinking,” she whispered. “Sai told me what was up beforehand. No need to worry.”

    “Now I’m even more lost,” I said. “She can’t understand ‘mon, though, so. For you, no need to hush hush.”

    Her mouth opened like she was gonna speak, a glistening bubble escaping and dancing toward the tank’s surface. Meanwhile, Melanie reiterated how Senori had caught Glori—as if Trainer needed another reminder of it—and asked how conscious Glori was at the time.

    “And Sai can understand pokémon. Uh huh,” she said skeptically, then began to swim away to the other side of the tank, near Melanie.

    “Okay,” Trainer started, taking a deep breath. “Fully conscious, she told me. Senori… Senori gave her a choice, and she agreed. No real battle involved. I guess Glori did ask other magikarp at the daycare what they thought, but no one batted an eye? Or a fin, even.” He offered a nervous chuckle, then continued, “So, uh, when she’s in there… It sounds nice, like I don’t have to feel bad about not having renovated the apartment yet.”

    Melanie’s hand stopped as she looked up sharply from her notes. “And seems you might not even need to,” she said. “What’s it like inside?”

    Trainer glanced at Glori, who was busy peering off into the distance, yet a slight twitch of her lips told me she was only pretending to not listen in.

    “Any memory she wants,” he said, “she can have it. It can become real all over again, in a sense. A tap into her mind is all it takes to summon it in front of her, and she can’t change anything about it, just watch. Like us people at a… at a movie theater, and, you know…”

    No, I didn’t know. And he didn’t finish his sentence for me to learn.

    “What’s wrong?” Melanie asked, her eyes narrowing.

    Trainer shook his head. “Nothing,” he said. “I just remembered I’ve never been to a movie theater still is all. Rennio and Ezrem talk about movies, or used to, I guess, because their old trainer was pretty into them.”

    The waitress swung around, stopping the conversation for the moment as she offered each of them a full glass of water or another drink instead. She took their orders and turned to walk away. Except then Trainer reached out and lightly gripped her arm, murmuring a quick thank you before realizing his forwardness and hiding his arm under the table.

    “Sorry,” he said, watching the hostess disappear around the corner. He took a long sip of his water and addressed his mother again. “You can imagine that Glori chooses to recall positive memories, for the most part.”

    “For the most part.” Melanie leaned back in her seat, eyeing him like he was the one in the aquarium. Like he was the one on display and being interrogated about.

    “Yeah. I mean, I’m not gonna pry into her personal life beyond that, you know?”

    “Has she ever said anything on her own?” Melanie asked. Glancing in the direction of the aquarium, she tutted when Glori turned the other way.

    “Little things here and there.” He shrugged. “It doesn’t seem like anything catastrophic has happened in her lifetime, though, if that’s what you mean. Dunno how much that helps, but I’m glad for that.”

    “I see.”

    Melanie closed her notebook, resting her pen inside its side binding. Though she had a blank stare on her face and bit her lip as if contemplating something, she said nothing else.

    Beside us, Glori gulped. “This is normal, I take it?”

    Trainer opened his mouth to answer, but couldn’t, not without his mother having every opportunity to tune in and wrest an explanation out of him.

    “Yeah,” I said for him, because I knew what she meant. Was it normal for her to converse with her son about everything except him? “Yeah, it is.”

    If Trainer and her ever talked about their past, about how she locked him up in the secret Mahogany headquarters in the basement like an animal at her disposal, I didn’t know. Sometimes I imagined the two of them spoke in code in front of me, since Kaloseux phrases often slipped in their conversations. Trainer mentioned once he’d like to become bilingual again if he had a real reason to, and I hoped that didn’t mean meeting up with her more.

    “What if she was unconscious? Sounds like it would’ve been bad,” he said, a little too loudly, a little too quickly.

    “Naturally, then, the unconscious would dominate what’s perceived in the pokéball.” Melanie sat up straight, the cushion on her seat frayed in multiple spots. “For better or for worse.”

    Trainer didn’t have anything to say to that.

    “So, that’s my job,” she went on. “To define the better scenario and the worst scenario, and discern how to increase the likelihood of the former. Have you read any of my articles yet?”

    “Huh? Oh, I… I try. But it’s hard to focus on them,” he said. I nuzzled the top of my head against Trainer’s bare arm, recalling several nights in which he mentioned heading to bed to the team but stayed up for a few hours afterward to read by lamplight. Unbeknownst to even me, he was apparently reading his mother’s published works and digesting other kinds of research and experiments she did these days.

    Laughing, Melanie said, “Can’t say I blame you. The academic world could stand to teach and accept less dry writing styles.”

    Wanting to tell her that wasn’t the reason at all, I sidled closer to Trainer. And I planned to stay until he told me it was uncomfortable or that he wanted me to go.

    The conversation veered away from Glori and about pokéballs in general, until the two of them received their food and had a proper excuse to divide their attention between talking and eating. Melanie delved into the theory and history of pokéballs, gushing about how their normal design came from voltorb and altering their electrical makeup to reduce the likelihood of short circuiting, then exploding. The name magearna was thrown around, too, in relation to it being subject to collecting the life energy of pokémon and humans, all the while having the appearance of a pokéball as it slept. Her enthusiasm for methods aimed at controlling such excesses of energy made me shiver.

    Eventually, Trainer paused halfway through lifting his last forkful of scrambled eggs, then let the piece of silverware fall back to his plate with a loud clank.

    “Sorry,” he said. “It’s just, you know, silly of me, that I haven’t asked Glori if she’s hungry or wants to go back in her ball.”

    “I’d say we’re ready to wrap up with the check, anyway.”

    “Yeah. Yeah, let’s do that. I’ll see you in a couple days, so double what I usually do in a week.” Trainer forced a smile and moved to recall Glori through the aquarium’s latch. His fingers shook all the while.

    Melanie raised an eyebrow. “You could always bring a bottle of pellets from here back with you. My treat, if you want.”

    “That’s all right. I can take care of her,” Trainer said quickly. “We’re not low at home or anything. Quite the opposite.”

    Reaching out and placing a hand on his shoulder, his mom said, “Relax, Sai. I’m not going to take her.”

    I did a double take. Did that mean she’d thought about it?

    “No, you’re not.” Trainer sighed, his shoulders slumping. “So, the birthday thing’s at Clauncher’s Hook. Nine on Saturday, okay? Not Friday like I thought Jasmine told me before.”

    “Got it. I’ll make sure to have a bit of cash on me this time.”

    “Oh,” Trainer said, meeting my gaze for a brief moment before closing his eyes. “Forgot about that. As usual.”

    A pause, then it hit me as Trainer practically broke into a jog to rush out of the café. Not only was he helping his mom with her research, but she was helping to pay for… something of his. Rent, probably. Trainer skipped work too much, and it wasn’t our job to worry, but it was our prerogative to worry about why he wasn’t worried. I sprinted after him myself, deciding it was best not to press any more buttons for him right this instant.
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2018
  9. Cutlerine

    Cutlerine Gone. Not coming back.

    New Phantom Project! That's always good news; I love this sprawling, dysfunctional family. There's just something so compelling about watching it constantly striving to pull itself together even as its constituent members force themselves apart. And maybe it's just that it's been a while since I read the last chapter, but this seems to be to be an especially good one. All the parts just work so well. Gracie, always so quiet and so convinced that she is the outsider (side note: you make that work really well; as a reader you kinda just want to give her a hug), even after all this time, makes the perfect narrator for a meeting in which you want Sai and his mother to take centre stage, yet her voice never quite fades completely into the background – and her reticence makes it all the more striking when she does insert herself into the action, by jumping up next to Sai in silent solidarity. Which leads into how satisfying her emotional arc is here: from hiding alone in a balled-up sheet to standing firm with her trainer. Sure, it's not a solution – Gracie is not the kind of person, and this is not the kind of world, for which such quick fixes are possible – and what little courage she can muster doesn't last, but it helps to give the chapter a better structure.

    There are also so many great little touches. I particularly like some of the metaphors and images you choose here – bumping into your grief in the dark, eight bodies consumed by the same grief, that kind of thing. Obviously I have a predilection for that kind of thing, but I think these are objectively pretty great, and do a lot to help create the emotional landscape you're trying to describe here. I also like how integrated the pokémon-human relationship is here, with the aquariums in the café and everything – and the visceral awkwardness of being a creature naturally on fire in a built environment which has been designed for millennia to view flames as a threat, which could be a cool thing on its own but which is also a great extension of Gracie's character.

    Other interesting things: that balls imitate voltorb in this world, rather than the other way around, and that balls let you relive your memories. I sense some groundwork being laid by at least one of these things, heh. Also that sense of a plot that we started to get in the previous chapter is starting to move now – and I'm very interested to get a hint of an actual antagonist next time around. I wasn't sure if this was going to be the sort of story that had anything like that.

    Finally, here are some little things I noticed as I read through:

    I feel like that might be meant to be “know”.

    Is that how you would normally phrase it? I don't know if it's a regional thing, but in a context like this, I think I'd usually say “slung over” or “slung across”.

    Either this is a very awkward phrasing or there's something missing here after “lined”.

    You have no idea how delighted I am to see a fantastic pseudo-French adjective for Kalos! I always thought that the canonical “Kalosian” was kind of unimaginative. Although some vague memory of French grammar from school makes me think that maybe that should be “Kaloseux”, since I think “-eaux” is the plural of words ending in “-eau” rather than the way that adjectives end. Or maybe it should be “Kaloseuse”? I think languages are feminine nouns. No, grammar be damned, that's nowhere near as fun a word. It should definitely end with a nice emphatic X.

    … it's possible that at this point I'm just overthinking this. I'm not even 100% sure of my grasp of French grammar, so all of this is probably irrelevant anyway. Main point: I love ridiculous imaginary French.

    Ending two clauses in a row with “more” like that is a bit much, I think – maybe one could be reworded?

    This is a very distinctive word to use twice in the same figurative sense in so short a space, I think.

    And that's all! Just minor quibbles, really. Honestly, this is … pretty much exactly what I could've wanted from a new Phantom Project chapter, with a few neat surprises to boot – like, maybe it was hinted at earlier and I just forgot (and this is a weird thought to tack onto the end of the review like this but sometimes my attempts at structure don't work out so well, I guess), but I really wasn't expecting Melanie to show up at all, and that whole conversation was so difficult and awkward to read, in a good way. Definitely looking forward to the next one.
    diamondpearl876 likes this.
  10. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    Yeah, I thought Gracie worked well for this, too. Almost too well, haha. Initially, this was gonna end up as a Kuiora POV chapter, but I decided to save her for the next one in favor of Gracie. Kuiora might've been enchanted by the Wavefront 'cause water-types, but she'd have tried to command the scene and scare Melanie away. Not that Melanie doesn't deserve it, but, you know, I kinda need her around for a bit longer. ;)

    At any rate, your comments here pinpoint exactly what I was going for, so thank you. <3

    Hey, even if you naturally like those kind of descriptions, I love hearing the specific ones you like all the same. xD I take this all as another sign that both my description and worldbuilding are working, hooray!

    Maybe... *shifty eyes* As much as I like to toy with hidden antagonists pulling strings in the background, I'm not sure the team could sustain themselves all on their own like last time both from an entertainment and development standpoint. Their grief's got to go somewhere, has got to be challenged lest they continue inadvertently encouraging each other to drown in it, and they just don't have the driving force of the team that could turn that around anymore. We'll see how it goes.

    Fixed! I'm trying to re-learn French after 5 years of forgetting it all, and I literally always put "-eaux" when I mean to put "-eux" so, you know, somehow that mistake translated over to fic. You're absolutely right that "-eaux" is for "-eau" plurals. Fixed that, and I fixed all the other typos, too!

    There was a very, very brief mention that she and Sai meet up often back in... chapter 1, maybe? Nothing memorable or standout worthy, but I didn't intend it to be so it'd hit harder now. My evil plan of awkwardness worked. :p Thanks for your comments, as always!
  11. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner Peace to the Mountain

    Gracie pls

    Okay, Atis headspinning on the water just leads me to imagine he was spraying it everywhere in the process. Spraying it on everyone around in the process. Which, come to think of it, might've felt good on a hot day. Pretty funny regardless. :p

    Anyway yeah, I am definitely getting the sense that Gracie might, on some level, want to Burn Things, right up to the present day. She's obviously given the act a lot of thought. A lot of detailed thought. Fantasized about it, perhaps willingly, perhaps not.
    diamondpearl876 likes this.
  12. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    Hehe, I'm glad you liked it!

    This is one of those things about a character of mine that I, as the author, had no intention of including in the story... until it just popped up. :p I'm not sure any other reviews have pointed this out yet, so color me amused. Thanks for the comments!

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