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Lost but Seeking
Rating: I ended up rating this 'fic "M" on FFN. As far as the rating for these forums goes, in later chapters there is definitely "frequent use of profanity", but aside from that, the material is very PG-15, with a fair amount of blood, violence, and death, quite a lot of body horror, and the odd sexual reference. There are also depictions of physical and psychological torture, and suicide comes up more than once. I think I would call this story PG-15 overall, but hopefully you can make your own call on whether it's something you'll be comfortable with given this paragraph's description of what's to come.

Author's Notes: I began posting this story back in 2012, but in 2014 it underwent a major revision that affected many of the earlier chapters. Because I didn't want to start a new thread and repost all of the new chapters, I've simply replaced old content with the revised chapters. That means that comments may not relate to the content of the chapter they appear to be in response to, and you may find it easier to navigate the earlier chapters using the index below rather than reading straight down the thread. I also retained copies of the old chapters so you can see what they looked like if you're interested. For example, here's the original Chapter One.

I welcome all kinds of comments on this story--long ones, short ones, crit or no crit. If you've read any part of this story then I'd love to hear your thoughts, whether you loved it or hated it.

Chapter 1

In the conversation they can't have, the child would apologize for letting him die. "Sorry I can't help you, but this is how it has to happen," it would say. "This is how it's supposed to be. Don't worry, this isn't the end. You can still be useful, even if you're dead. I'll take your name and I'll take your face and I'll take your pokémon"--the one that is mine, the one that was stolen from me--"and I'll go and make things right. That's what I'm doing. So you're helping me, anyway. It's not all bad."

It can't say anything like that, of course. It can't say anything at all. Absol is very strict about interfering with Fate's victims. She's beside the child now, breath misting white in the chill air of the cavern, watching the human. That's what she does: watches. She watches to be sure that Fate plays out the way it's supposed to, but she doesn't interfere.

Usually the child doesn't mind much. The dying people are foggy memories at best. It has nothing to say to them. But this one it thinks it recalls. "I know you," it might say. "You used to make little origami sculptures for your desk, didn't you? I always liked those, especially the pokémon ones. They were pretty." He must have been an intern, then? Not someone who was around for very long. He's uncommonly old to still be training, but perhaps he decided to take a break after Cinnabar. Maybe he decided science wasn't for him.

Because the child has other memories, too, memories from a different life, and they whisper, "I know you. I remember you. I remember your face as you wrote the numbers down and lined the needles up. I remember your fear, human, and your shame, but I remember too that it did not stay your hand."

There wouldn't be time to say all that anyway, not even most of it. In movies it seems like there's always time for last words, but here it's all over quickly: the human slips from the edge of the path, down here where everything is glitter-slick from the spray of the underground river. He falls funny on one arm and doesn't even cry out as it snaps, just grabs for an icy rock with the other.

"You don't have to be scared," the child imagines itself telling him as he hangs there for a terrifying second, still thinking he might pull himself back up. "I died once. It wasn't so bad."

His fingers find no purchase on the ice, and the incline keeps him sliding. His hand goes next to the pokéballs on his belt, but it's too late, too late. The river grabs his legs, pulls him down and under, and in no time at all he's gone.

Absol goes forward, thick claws splayed wide to steady herself on the ice. She paces at the edge of the river. The child imagines the human being swept along by the rushing current, slammed against submerged boulders and carried over hidden waterfalls. The river will take him to the very depths of the cave, where stories say Articuno's nest resides, delicate spires of ice and cast-off feathers among the rocks. The human will never see it, though. He'll be much too dead.

Absol stops her pacing, turns back to the child and nods. It scrambles out from behind the boulder and joins her at the water's edge, peering into the dark, rushing flow. Its shadow stretches out over the water, rippled and frayed on the turbulent surface. There are lights behind it, illuminating the slushy path where it's safe for trainers to walk. Where the child's going, there will be no light at all and only the bravest humans tread.

The child sits perched on the edge a moment longer, readying scale and gill and webbing. "I'll meet you back at the house," says Absol, and it nods, not really paying attention. Absol probably likes it down here, where it's deathly cold and the shadows lie close at hand. She might stay a while, vacationing, but the child still has work to do. It hesitates a moment, watching how the water froths around the jag of a half-submerged rock, then throws itself in.

Even prepared for the shock, even insulated against the water's bite, the child still feels the cold like a hammer blow. Its gasp pulls in a mouthful of water, but it just goes sliding over the child's gills like a deep and icy breath. The child lets the current carry it along, clicking and squeaking to conjure a radar map of the riverbed. It makes a game of dodging rocks at the last possible moment, twisting away with lazy kicks of webbed feet. Then the riverbed drops away and it's falling, flailing at air and spray with a whoop of delight. It hits a couple rocks on the way down, jarred but not broken, its scales armor against cutting edges, and plunges back into the river with a thundering splash, drifting down until the current grabs it again and pulls it along.

Down and down, around tight bends and through surging rapids, over more falls into the heart of the caverns. The child rolls and tumbles along until the current slows and another drop brings it to the final basin, where the river stops and water seeps out through hidden cracks and fissures. The child strokes downwards in the pitch dark, ignoring translucent swimming things, ghostly in its echo-sense, and a few pokémon, wary, staying out of its way. There at the bottom it finds the corpse.

The child grabs the human and kicks back to the surface, eyes opening to stare at nothing in the deep-dark. There's a shelf of rock against one wall, it remembers, and it kicks its way over blind until it bumps up against the lip of rock.

There's barely enough room for it to perch out of the water, and it hunches on the edge like a gargoyle, snorting the last of the water out of its nose as its gills close up. The corpse lolls half out of the water, broken arm tangled in the straps of its backpack. The child ignores the bag for now, and the clothes, and even the pokéballs, the real prize. Greedy with anticipation, it fishes the trainer's pokédex out of his pocket, working by feel. It flips the machine open and squints into sudden LED brilliance.

The child ignores cold and cramping muscles as it stares at the screen, scrolling through menus, flipping through page on page of data. It learns as much about the trainer's life as it can from the pokédex's records, then snaps the device shut again and in the darkness changes. The child becomes someone else and, crouching there in another's skin, it tells itself the story of who it is now:

You are Nicholas Garrett. Around eight years ago you were interning at the lab on Cinnabar Island--maybe. Something to do with the lab, or you wouldn't be here now.

Four years ago you began your journey. You're a slow trainer, but a thorough one: four years, five badges. You have a charizard--your starter--nidoqueen, primeape, rhydon, and several others of little consequence.

Today you came to the Seafoam Islands. Why, you don't know--looking for a seel, maybe, or just out for an adventure, maybe seeking the legendary Articuno. Whatever you were seeking will have to go unfound.

Because you died down here, Nicholas Garrett, in the darkness and the deep. You were twenty-six years old.

What do you do now?
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Whatcha want?
You come back, that's what.
Pretty nice beginning for what I hope to be an interesting fic. Good spelling, description, etc. Interesting style here with reader's point of view. I like it.
One small nitpick: it was a bit too short for me. Keep writing!



Increase length, or change it to a prolouge fore a mod closes this.

This has potential.

F-word is R as i've heard.


Winning Smile
Staff member
Super Mod
As said in the other thread, Rotomknight, too short (ie < 2 pages) can be fine as long as the story itself is written well, etc (and that other story was also over 2 pages). And that's the case here, without a doubt. The rules do state we allow fics that are properly written to be shorter, but they do have to be of decent quality. (The rule is there because in the majority of cases chapters that fall short of two pages are not well written for one reason or another too).

As for the f-word...I don't recall seeing it in the story, but:
R: This is the highest allowed rating on the forums and must be approved by a Moderator for the fic to be posted. Will include themes intended for adults, more graphic violence, frequent use of profanity, implied sexuality/sex, drug/alcohol use and so on. R generally (but not necessarily) has more and harsher language. Detailed violence may be present, but never detailed sex.
So one use of it is not deserving of the R rating by any means. Given the opening description PG-13 does sound fine I suppose, maybe at most PG-15 (hard to say on other themes that haven't yet featured, so).

At any rate, please don't minimod but just report the thread instead. Let us mods see if a thread is actually breaking any rules as telling people stuff that might not be correct doesn't end up being helpful.

Anyways, I'll agree that the beginning is nice, Negrek. Quite intrigued by the small child there (who was also referred to as 'it' which seemed a nice touch in itself) picking up Pokedex memory files or the like there and it's an interesting way to introduce that character as well. Your description matched the events rather well and set up the atmosphere and mood effectively. Now to see how this story actually continues! It's a neat setup but I can't say I can tell which direction this is going yet (not a complaint, just an observation).

I don't have much comments beyond that to offer I'm afraid (and I ought to be studying anyways. Whoops). However:
When you couldn't get a hold and the water was reaching for your waist, you grabbed for your pokéballs, fumbling with cold-numbed fingers, but then they went under and then you went under, and the river pulled you in and down.
'cold-numbed fingers' sounded a bit...weird? to me? Idk if it'd be an idea to consider rewording it or not as it isn't something I disliked, but it did sound a bit weird to me when I read it.
Today you were exploring the Seafoam Islands. Who knows why you'd stopped there? Perhaps you'd been on your way to Cinnabar, ready to chase that seventh badge, and headed over on a whim. Perhaps you were remembering the stories, the ones that said Articuno's icy nest lay somewhere in the bowels of the caves. Probably you hadn't been planning your journey there, or you would have put on some heavier clothing. But ultimately, why you were there, you don't know. All that's sure is what came after.
You were in deep, down where the currents rage and everything is slick and glittering with the constant churning spray. There wasn't much cave left, and maybe you were getting ready to turn back. You turned, anyway, and were starting to climb up, when you slipped.
And here I'd suggest an extra line of separation between the two paragraphs. Yay minor formatting comments. =p

Good luck with this fic, Negrek. If past stories/etc are an indicator (and I think so) this'll be worth keeping an eye on methinks. ~


Lost but Seeking
Wow, it's going to be tough to get used to posting here again. My kingdom for a multiquote button!


Glad you liked the chapter. Yes, this ended up being much shorter than I expected... more like a teaser than an actual chapter, unfortunately. The earlier chapters are on the short side (albeit not *this* short), but things get more normal-sized soon enough.


Thanks for your concern. I actually misremembered the minimum length as being one page, but I guess it's okay nonetheless.


Given the opening description PG-13 does sound fine I suppose, maybe at most PG-15 (hard to say on other themes that haven't yet featured, so).
Ah, right, I completely forgot that these forums put a rating between PG-13 and R. PG-15 sounds like the better choice, thanks.

'cold-numbed fingers' sounded a bit...weird? to me? Idk if it'd be an idea to consider rewording it or not as it isn't something I disliked, but it did sound a bit weird to me when I read it.
Ah, well... that little descriptor was actually one of my favorites in this chapter, so I'm afraid it stays. :p

And here I'd suggest an extra line of separation between the two paragraphs. Yay minor formatting comments. =p
Ugh, yes. Manually reinserting line breaks is no fun. Fixed that.

Nice to hear you found the opening intriguing rather than just confusing. We'll see if that keeps up, since the narrative certainly takes its time revealing what's up. Thanks as always for a lovely review!


On a quest to be the best...
I feel sorry for Nicholas. He had so much potential; he seemed to be a good trainer. Just one slip up and it's all over forever. :(

Baivanilla :3

New Member
This is really intriguing! I wonder who the child is.. Its weird how the child keeps a collection of souls... Its a bit odd for a child. Note how I said child 3 times :p


Lost but Seeking
This chapter changed substantially during revision. If you want to read the original chapter, you can find it here.

Chapter 2

The first thing you do is stop by home. A moment's concentration takes you from cold, dark depths to the warmth of your foyer. Even the dim, leaf-edged light is too much for your eyes after the total darkness of the cave, and you open them slowly, blinking away tears.

That gives Rats enough time to hide whatever she was chewing on, so when you turn to her it looks like she's just relaxing in her nest, half burrowed under shredded pieces of newspaper and drifts of insulation. "Uh, hey, Boss. Back early, aren't you?"

"It was easier than I expected," you say. Not like last time. You were smart, this time. You were ready to die. "Come on. I need you to help me with Titan." There will be time to scold her about dismantling furniture later. "Is Absol back?"

"Dunno." Rats is out of her nest in a great rustling of detritus. "I didn't hear her, but you know how she is." She stands picking scraps of paper out of her fur while you head deeper into the house. You glance at the couch in passing, but Absol isn't there, just the impression in the cushions where she usually lies.

"So. Titan, huh?" Rats asks, waddling after you on her hind legs and grooming her whiskers as she goes.

"Yes." You toss her the pokéball and stop at your desk, grabbing your pokédex and flipping it over. You have the back hatch open in a practiced instant and exchange the data card inside for the one you've been clenching in your palm, warm now from the heat of your body. You left Nicholas Garret's pokédex in the cavern, as empty and cold as his corpse. Its soul is yours now, as is everything else that once belonged to him.

"Looks rounder than I remember," Rats says, examining the pokéball between her claws.

"That's just his pokéball, Rats," you say, giving her an incredulous look while the pokédex boots up. You relax when the screen comes to life with your information. It's best for it to be official, to be somewhere it won't get lost, in case you need it. It can be hard to remember who you are, sometimes. You haven't been Nicholas Garret long enough to get the details right.

"Joke, Boss," Rats says with a sigh. "Looks like it's the same old pokéball, anyway. Talk about your years of service, huh?"

You dig around for her own ball, just in case, and add it to your belt. Nicholas Garret's pokéballs you pull off and dump in the bottom drawer, making a mental note to release them all later.

"So, should I?" Rats asks, making as if to throw the ball.

"No. Come on." You need to get outside in case something goes wrong. You don't want anything flammable around. Not that anything will go wrong. You've pored over your memories of Titan so many times they've gone dull and distorted, as much fantasy as fact. But if there's one thing you're sure of, it's that Titan's always been the most loyal of your team. He swore with you, just like the others. He'll come around, and it won't be long before you can finally set out to fulfill your promise together.

You lead the way down to the beach, the jungle crowding at your back. Knot Island lies somewhere to the south, no more than a speck far off across the waves. You nod at Rats, and she lets the pokéball go. All of a sudden Titan's standing in front of you, stretching his wings up to the sky.

You forget everything you were about to say. You knew he evolved, of course, but somehow you were still thinking of him as that gawky, earnest charmander. Now he towers over you, arching his long neck and letting out a lazy streamer of smoke like he was never knee-high and afraid of his own shadow.

"I thought you said we were going to Cinnabar," the charizard says as he looks around, sniffing at the air. "Where are we?"

"Titan," you say, and his head snaps around, his eyes fixing on you.


"We are not going to Cinnabar, Titan."

"Why are you calling me that?" The charizard tucks his wings in close and stares at the beach around you like he's expecting someone else to be there. "I don't like that name."

"Why not? It is your name. You remember, do you not?"

The charizard snorts out a puff of smoke and returns his gaze to you, the whites starting to show around the edges of his eyes.

"Are you talking to me? Did you just hear what I said? How do you know about that?"

"Calm down, Titan. I am your trainer, am I not? I know this is surprising, but you have nothing to fear from me."

It takes all your self control not to flinch when the charizard's head swings down, stopping just inches from your face. He snuffles and sniffs at you, then draws back in confusion. "You smell like Nick. You look like him, too. But you don't sound like him at all. Who are you? What happened to Nick?"

"I am Nicholas Garret," you say. "I am no one else."

"No you're not!" Titan rears up again, his tail flame leaping and dancing with his agitation. "Who are you? What happened to my trainer?"

"I just told you. I am your trainer," you snap. Why doesn't he believe you? You are Nicholas Garret. You are his trainer. "Listen, Titan. Calm down. I will explain everything if you just--"

"No! I'm not listening to anything you say until you tell me where my trainer is!"

"Look, Boss, maybe you ought to--" Rats mutters, but you're starting to get annoyed.

"Your trainer is dead. He drowned in the Seafoam caverns. Now I am him. It is as simple as that."

Titan stares at you, and in the moment of quiet you can hear Rats groan. "He's dead? What are you talking about? Why do you look like him?"

"I just told you. I look like him because I am him, now. He does not need his life anymore. So now I am your trainer."

The charizard sits back on his haunches, puffing smoke again, each panting breath coming with the edge of a whine. He stares around with wide, white-rimmed eyes, his head snapping back and forth in abrupt jerks.

"Titan. Titan, calm down," you say, taking a step forward with one hand raised. "It is time for your to start a new journey now. You remember the promise you made on Cinnabar Island, do you not?"

"My trainer's dead," the charizard says tearfully, his too-short arms reaching up like he wants to hide his face behind them. "How? What happened? I don't understand."

You let out an exasperated sigh. "He drowned. He slipped and fell in the river and then he drowned. Now, if you would just listen for a moment--"

"How do you know?" The charizard thrusts his face into yours, so close you can smell the sulfurous gases on his breath. "Where's your proof? He can't be dead! You're lying!"

"I am standing right here, am I not?" you snap. "I have your pokéball. I have Nicholas Garret's pokédex. Your trainer is dead, Titan. I was there to see it. And I am your trainer n--"

"You were there?" The smoke Titan's blowing is blacker now, coming in suffocating clouds. "You saw it all, is that it? You did it, didn't you? You killed him! Murderer!"

"I did not kill him," you say indignantly. "Why would I do that? It was his time to go. I did not have to do anything at all."

"But you were there!" the charizard roars. "You said you were there, but you didn't do anything? You didn't even try to help?"

"Well, of course I did not do anything. It was not my place to intervene."

"Look, Boss, could you just just lay off for a second? Let me handle this."

"I do not see why you think you can do anything," you say with a scowl, crossing your arms. "Titan is completely overreacting."

Rats pushes past you, cautiously approaching the charizard. He watches her come, breathing heavily, white-hot drips of spittle falling to sizzle on the sand. "Titan, this is Rats," you say with a reproachful look at the raticate's back. "You remember her, do you not?"

"That's right," Rats says, peering up at the charizard. "Been a long time, hasn't it, big g--whoah." Titan bends down so far his snout nearly presses up against Rats' face, staring at her in utmost suspicion. She starts backing up, then throws herself sideways as a gush of fire shoots from Titan's mouth.

"Hey. Hey! Is that any way to treat an old friend?" the raticate grumbles, taking off as another flamethrower rushes her way. "What, don't you remember me, you stupid lizard?"

"I don't know you," Titan says in a low, volcanic rumble, twisting around to keep the raticate in his line of sight. Rats dances from paw to paw, on guard for more fire. "You think I can tell the difference between all the raticate I've ever met? You all look the same, like big, hairy--big, hairy rats!"

"Ooh, so that's how it is, huh? Well, how about this, Titan, would just any raticate remember that time you totally got beat up by that magikarp you'd--oof!" Titan's tail snaps around, catching Rats off guard and knocking her onto her side. The charizard comes at her with teeth and claws and flame, and Rats can do nothing but shriek disparaging comments about his parentage as she struggles to overcome him.

Titan pins the raticate under one foot while he stares down at her, smoke streaming warningly from his nostrils. "I don't know why you're working with that thing, and I don't care! My trainer is dead, and it was watching. There's nothing you can say that will make that right!"

Rats glows red, and Titan's foot lands heavily in the sand as she's pulled back to her pokéball. You frown down at it for a moment before clipping it back to your belt. Well that was a big help. Apparently long days lazing around on the island have let Rats fall out of shape.

Then Titan's roar splits the air, and with a jolt you realize there's no one standing between him and you anymore. "Titan," you say slowly. "You would not attack your trainer, Titan."

The charizard answers with flame instead of words, and you fall clear over backwards, a streamer of fire cutting through the air overhead. You grab for Titan's pokéball, then pull your hand back. No. Delaying this isn't going to help anything. Titan needs to learn to obey you, and the sooner the better.

"Come on, Titan, let us just talk about this."

"Talk? Talk?! My trainer's dead! And you were there! You know! Stop pretending!"

"I am your trainer! I am not dead!" Another flamethrower sizzles through the air, but this time it washes up against a wall of energy, fire spreading inches from your face before dissipating into thin air.

Titan lets out a snort of surprise as you get back to your feet. "Fine," you say as you nurse a ball of blue energy in one hand, water droplets running between your fingers and pattering to the ground. "I wanted to settle this like a human. But if you will not listen to me, we can settle this like pokémon instead."

You toss the ball of energy upwards, and Titan's gaze follows it higher, higher, until it explodes in a burst of blue light. The beach turns dark and cool as sudden storm clouds block out the sun, and Titan flinches as one fat droplet splashes on his snout. Dark patches appear in the sand as more raindrops fall, and in seconds the island is in the grip of a full-on rainstorm.

Titan tents his wings over his head and tucks his steaming tail flame tight against his chest. He peers at you with dark, suspicious eyes, but the rain's taken the edge off his fury. "What are you?"

"I told you. I am your trainer. That is all that matters now." You shift a little on your feet, taking a more solid stance. You're twitching with the old battle restlessness, sizing Titan up without even thinking about it. You like a fight as much as any pokémon, after all. "Now are you going to listen to me, or do you still want to fight?"

Titan lunges, claws rippling with blue dragon flames. The rain is making him sluggish, though, streaming off his scales and dampening his tail flame. His claws dig into your side, but you manage to catch him, wrapping your arms around his neck and pulling him to the ground.

"Why won't you listen to me?" you ask, trying to hang on despite the thrashing. "Why do you not want to help me? I am your trainer. Do you not want to help your trainer?"

"My trainer's dead!" he chokes, struggling to reach you with another dragon claw. "You're just someone who looks like him. You're not even a real person! What are you?"

"I am Nicholas Garret! I am no one else!" you insist, feeling the blood from your wound mix with rain as it rolls down the inside of your shirt. Damn. You only just got these clothes.

"You're not! You're not! Liar!" His voice is hoarse now, a choked scream that's more rattle than sound. You realize you might be hugging his throat a bit too tight. The thanks you get when you loosen your hold is a flamethrower that rushes past your head, setting your hair on fire and immolating the edge of your ear.

You let go with a hiss of pain, landing hard in the wet sand and putting a hand up to the side of your head. "I am not lying," you insist through gritted teeth, and you're not, you're certainly not. You are Nicholas Garret now, or all that's left of him, anyway.

Titan staggers to his feet, head rearing back and stubby arms reaching for his bruised throat. He takes a couple of deep, panting breaths, then sucks in one great gasp of air and brings his head down again, spitting a fireball straight at you.

You only have a second to bring your arms up, crossing them in front of your face with palms out towards the charizard. You scream as the fire blast explodes into a great sheet of flame, your arms shaking as you try to keep them in place. Then Titan's the one screaming, his roars drowning you out as he tries to shield himself with a wing. A glittering barrier hangs in the air in front of you, brilliant streamers of light peeling away from its surface and arcing back towards the charizard, searing his scales and flashing raindrops into steam.

The charizard falls to the ground, hiding his face behind his claws as scalding energy roars around him, rippling the sand in molten waves and letting off a hideous stink. You hold the mirror coat in place for a few seconds more, but at last the sheet of light cracks, then crumbles away to nothing as your arms flop down by your sides.

After a couple of minutes you gather your strength and stagger over to where he Titan lies, falling to your knees in front of him. The charizard's breathing harsh and shallow, his eyes unfocused. His tail shudders in the hot muck, burning lower now, but not low enough to be dangerous.

You reach down and lift the charizard's head, and his arms shudder as he tries to raise his body with it. You bring his face to eye level, close enough that a lick of flame would be enough to do you in, engulf your entire head in fire. You'll have to watch his eyes closely to know when to pull away.

The charizard's scales are feverish to the touch; he's weak enough now that he can't control his inner fire, and it's starting to eat him up from the inside. He's powerful for the moment, but he won't be able to stand it for long. "What... are..." His voice is hardly more than a croak.

"What do I have to do for you to accept me as your trainer?"

"I don't... You're not my trainer. My trainer is dead."

"Enough!" He flinches, something wary in his expression. His gaze is trying to slip away from yours, but you wrench his head around to keep his eyes on you. "What do I have to do?"

"Can't... You can't make me."

"I don't need to 'make' you. I'm your trainer. Stop trying to deny it." You don't even bother trying to speak human now. If Titan notices, he doesn't react.

"But you're dead," he says, weak and plaintive.

"That's what you wish, isn't it? You wish I was dead!" You're screaming now, and the charizard's wings flare open in shock, beating wildly as he tries to pull away from you. You see in the tensing of his muscles that the moment is now, and you push his head down even as fire starts to gush out around his teeth. The flamethrower is lost as you force the charizard's face into the sand, and he thrashes harder, gagging as a gasp of shock sucks the gritty stuff into his mouth. You wrench his head up again and stare into his tearing eyes.

"Stop pretending! I know you remember. You promised the same as the rest of us. Someone has to save Mew. We failed last time, but we can't give up. I'm your trainer, Titan. I say we're going after her. Are you with me?"

The charizard's eyes show white. "I can't."

You let his head drop back to the ground, and he just leaves it lying there, the rain washing tears off his muzzle. While the charizard tries to control his sobbing, you try to control your temper, flexing fingers that long to turn to claws. You're glad you're human right now; it's hard enough to keep your head when you've been fighting, but as a pokémon, it's even harder. "What do I need to do?" you ask at last, and it even comes out sounding calm.

"Please. I don't understand. Who are you?" You almost can't make him out for the hitching in his voice.

You would sympathize if you weren't so frustrated. It took you years to figure things out. But Titan already has the facts: "I told you. I'm Nicholas Garret. I was someone else before. I could be someone else tomorrow. But right now I'm Nicholas Garret. What doesn't change is that I'm your trainer, and I need you to help me. What will it take for you to accept that?"

Titan takes another one of those great breaths, but you don't bother preparing for an attack. He only chokes on it, turning it into a sob. "Please... You told me you would save her."

You punch him in the snout as hard as you can, hard enough to shatter teeth. "You idiot. You know I can't do that without you." You push yourself to your feet, woozy and lightheaded, and stagger off towards home. Titan keeps his eyes on the ground, blood leaking from his mouth. It might be a while before he realizes you've left.

It only takes a few seconds for the dragon claw wound to scab over and vanish, the hideous bubbling burns to fade from your skin, but you still feel gray and drained as you stumble up to the house. Too much excitement. Too much blood lost. Duskull emerges from under the porch as you trip up the steps, making grumbly noises of concern, but you wave him away. All you need now is sleep.


Hours later, when the child's resting in bed, it hears the door bang open and something large blunder inside. It smiles and clutches the sheets tighter around itself. It knew Titan wasn't in any real danger, not with how short the rainstorm was, but it's glad he managed to find his way here, where he will be safe.

The kitchen table falls with an incredible crash, and the child imagines the soaked and muddy charizard slipping around on the tiles, searching for somewhere warm to curl up and dry off. That's fine. It doesn't mind the damage. It'll see the charizard in the morning, when it's feeling well enough to walk again. And then, at last, they can truly begin.
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On a quest to be the best...
Hmmmm... So Nicholas had a Pokemon the Child knew? Weird, I'd like to know the story behind that.

Is the Child a Ditto?


Lost but Seeking
No worries, the story behind that will be unraveled fairly soon.

Nope, but good guess.
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Whatcha want?
Hm. This guy who impersonates Nicholas is either a criminal or a salesman. Right ? Right?
More childness. Weird child + Duskull + Pokeballs= scavenger?
Eagerly awaitin chappie!


Lost but Seeking
This chapter changed substantially during revision. If you'd like to read the original version, you can find it here.
Chapter 3

Today you are Jade Winstead, and you are no one. You have no family or friends, and your fingerprints are the fingerprints of a dead child. Your face is modeled after one of your favorite television characters, and people are always stopping you on the street, mistaking you for her. It's more attention than you'd like, but the face you built from scratch was worse.

This morning you're in one of your favorite paper-reading spots, by the window of the Fuchsia pokémon center with a cup of center coffee close to hand. It's terrible coffee, gritty and bitter as anything, but it's an essential part of the scene.

The scene is very important. It also includes Togetic, who sits on the table just beyond reach, humming stickily to herself as she devours a melty lemon slush-on-a-stick from one of the street vendors outside, and Titan, fidgeting with the gooey remnants of his cone and watching you from the corner of his eye. And there's the most important part of all, the newspaper spread open in front of you.

You're about halfway done reading it, and your mind is starting to wander. You already checked all the good bits--the funnies, the training section, and, of course, the obituaries. You even choked down most of the boring stuff, the news-news about people who do things other than train pokémon, like you have any reason to care about them.

Absol is very insistent that you read the whole paper, yes, the whole thing, regularly. It's important, she says, to understand what's going on in the world around you. You never know what you'll find out if you keep your eyes open.

You pointed out that she doesn't read the paper. "Pokémon and humans have different ways of learning things," she said without batting an eye. "I know what I need to know." You pointed out that you're just as much pokémon as you are human. "Yes. So you need to do both." What exactly she meant by that, she couldn't explain.

Whatever her way of learning things is, you bet it's a whole lot more fun than newspapers. But newspapers have ads, at least, so it's not all bad.

So this is your scene: you have your coffee and your pokémon, your newspaper and your name, and you have the sunlight, too, pouring in through the glass. You imagine it like you're a character in a movie, a real adult human living her life. And if you turn your head just a little, look out the window beside you, you can watch a parade of other normal humans going past on the street outside.

You'd be safer if you took your paper at home, made like a pokémon and holed up in some secluded place, but there's some kind of herd instinct buried down deep in your body, and you like to be out here, where you can see and be seen by humans. You aren't one of them anymore, and you can't really belong to their circle of being, but you can sit at its edge and watch, and to some extent, pretend.

You watch the adults, striding along on unknown errands, ferrying children through the crowd: is that what you should be like now, settling into a life under your own power, caring about all those names in the newspaper, talking about money and jobs and sex the way they do on television? You watch the children: is that really how you used to be, wide-eyed at the sight of balloons and ice cream stalls, chasing after trainers and begging to see their pokémon?

You wonder. This is what you come to Fuchsia to do: read the paper, enjoy the tropical weather, and consider what might have been. That's enough for you. Sometimes the city gives you something more, though. Sometimes it offers you a surprise.

The doors to the center slide open and two humans you recognize walk through. One is short, dumpy, tanned, the other tall but stooped, pale and sunken-eyed and uncomfortable in his rumpled suit. A porygon-Z drifts along behind, limbs and head in constant, subtle motion, never all pointing in the same direction at once. The humans are Officer Feldhorn, chief of the Fuchsia City police, and Leonard Kerrigan, systems administrator of the Kanto Pokémon League network.

They approach the desk, Leonard setting a slender laptop on the counter, discussing something with the nurse. Officer Feldhorn's gaze wanders the room while he sips from the thermos that accompanies him everywhere.

You rap on the table in front of you, and Duskull drifts up out of the wood, just enough that his eye glows out at you. You nod towards the desk, and the red light swivels to look. Duskull gurgles quietly in acknowledgment, then sinks back out of view, off to spy on Leonard.

You don't expect much. Duskull finds human conversations hard to follow and dull besides. His reporting often leaves something to be desired, but you'll take what you can get.

Even with your less-than-reliable spy, you've compiled quite a bit about Leonard. He's a special case, someone you care about even though he was never a part of the lab. You know him better than any other human, though you've never exactly been introduced. Above all, you know one thing.

Leonard has a mission, just like you. He never expected it, in the same way he hadn't expected the job, either. Back when he was an arrogant teenager and they'd given him a choice: prison until he was old enough to be worrying about his prostate, or a second chance defending the systems he'd spent most of his adolescence attacking. "Take it, kid," they'd said. "It's the best offer you're going to get, and who knows? Maybe you'll even make something of yourself."

He was fine with the job. It was frustrating sometimes, but interesting enough. He's still got it, but only because he needs it to pursue his mission. What joy there was in it has been forgotten. Once, he had a family: a wife and a son. Now both of them are gone, one given up and one taken away. Once, he had friends. Now he only has people who look on him with pity and whose phone calls he ignores. Soon, he will not have these either. But even then, he will still have his mission.

Leonard stands at the nerve center of the League's great digital brain, watching data flow in from all its sensory organs, the pokédexes every trainer must carry to be considered legal. The pokédex observes everything, records everything, surely knows more than the trainer herself about everything that has happened on her journey: every item purchased; every trainer battled, and the outcome of those battles; every visit to a pokémon center. It's Leonard's job to guard the ever-widening river of information, to see that it flows freely in the wires, to make sure that the system is never undermined.

That means he's caretaker, too, of all the League's lost souls, all the humans perished in pursuit of their dreams. Their records are marked deceased but not deleted, slumbering in perpetuity in some faceless storage array. Once, Leonard didn't think much of them. But then, one day, something happened. His son became one of the ghosts. And then, his son refused to stay dead. And then Leonard found he had a mission.

It was a mistake. You were so young, so careless; you had no idea what you were doing. Certainly you had no idea who Leonard Kerrigan was, or why he should matter to you at all. You screwed up, and now he's on to you, in his hopeless, blundering way. You don't know what he thinks is really going on, since he never speaks about it in public and there's not much you can glean from these infrequent sightings. All you know is he can't possibly be right or, well, you'd have been found out already.

For Leonard has a mission, and that mission is to find you. He will discover what happened to his son and, you have no doubt, he will make those responsible pay. He is no small man in Kanto, Leonard Kerrigan, not even after his fall from grace. And he is your enemy.

You watch him now, taking in the slump of his shoulders, the shuffle in his walk as he leaves the desk and selects one of the center PC's, one you used earlier when you were Nicholas Garret. You see gray in his hair and lines on his face. He's growing old, is Leonard Kerrigan. He's collapsing in on himself like a rotting piece of fruit, and you savor every moment of his demise. What would he do if he knew the one he chased was sitting not fifty feet away, watching his every move?

"Hello there, Jade! Returning to the scene of the crime, are we?"

You start at the sound of the voice, tearing your eyes off Leonard and only just remembering not to bare your teeth. "No, Officer Feldhorn. I did not know there was a crime."

"Just a figure of speech," the man says cheerfully, and you glower inwardly over the misunderstanding. "Seems like we're always running into each other when I'm checking something out at the Center."

You know from TV that there are only two kinds of cops: hard-bitten, driven servants of justice who will stop at nothing to put criminals behind bars and those whose greatest exertions are in pursuit of donuts. There's no doubt in your mind which camp Officer Feldhorn falls into. Under the sharp bitterness of the coffee in his thermos, you can smell custard and powdered sugar about his person. "It is a small world," you hazard.

"That it is," he says, and you relax. Maybe this conversation won't be a total loss after all. "How's life with you, then? I see your togetic's doing well."

Togetic chirps assent, then goes back to grooming herself. The popsicle stick lies abandoned on the table in front of her. "It is going well. I got my charizard back a couple of weeks ago. Another trainer had him for a while."

"Oh, so this one's yours, is he?" Officer Feldhorn looks up at Titan. "He's a big fella."

"Yes. He is very strong." You beam up at Titan, who flashes you a nervous half-smile before turning his attention back to the human.

That's enough small talk. What you really want to know is: "Is anything new in the city?"

"Oh, Fuchsia's Fuchsia, you know? It's pretty quiet. Last week some kids tried to break into the Safari Zone and bag a few dratini, but that's about it."

"Well. That is good. What brings you here today, then? You have that man with you, whatever his name was." You realize you're actually smiling over how cunning your question was and hastily rearrange your expression to something neutral. Subtlety.

Officer Feldhorn looks over at Leonard, who's going through his ritual at the computer station: a few mysterious incantations on the keyboard, then plug a cable from his laptop into the terminal. Keys, keys, keys, then out with the cable, pack everything away. You know he has underlings who could be doing this for him; you know he can probably retrieve everything he wants remotely. But, alas, he has a mission. He has to be sure. He has to be here, to do it himself.

"Oh, yes." Officer Feldhorn frowns, which makes him look like a morose granbull; it's all you can do not to laugh. "It's the same old story. Glitches in the computer system, Leo over there getting all worked up about them and insisting we go chasing off after the undead--you haven't seen the dead walking recently, have you?"

"I have seen a couple of ghost pokémon."

"Is that so? Well, you'd better keep an eye on them for me, then." Leonard's left the computer and is standing in the middle of the lobby, staring pointedly at the two of you. Officer Feldhorn half turns and catches sight of him, grimaces. "Ah, but it looks like I'm about to be called away. Good to see you, Jade," he says.

"Later," you say, unable to resist showing off a little of your hip slang. You watch him go over and meet Leonard. They converse a bit, one man relaxed and jocular, the other tight as piano-wire, all indignation at not being taken seriously. Then they leave, and you can't help grinning to yourself as the Center doors slide shut behind them.

You like Officer Feldhorn. It's nice to have someone human to chat with. It's good practice, talking with someone like him, someone harmless. It doesn't really matter if you slip up. You don't make so many mistakes anymore, though. These days, you're a downright sterling conversationalist.

Duskull returns and whispers what he heard. Leonard was talking about a computer upgrade, replacing the old PC stations. No real news, then. Still no progress learning Leonard's login information, either, and you can tell by the tone of Duskull's voice that he wasn't really trying. You let it go. You're feeling too cheerful to let a little thing like that spoil your mood.

Things are coming to a head now. Only two of your pokémon are left, and you know Leonard has one. Once you find the other, Absol can't object to you confronting him directly. She even said it: wait, and if it has not come back to you by the time you find the others, then do what you must do. You look forward to it. There's nothing and no one that can stand between you and your mission, and Leonard Kerrigan's been a thorn in your side for too long. You'll take pleasure in finally removing him.

You take a sip of your coffee, and your smug grin turns to a grimace. If it it's bad hot, it's unspeakable cold. Across the table from you, Togetic giggles at your expression, and Titan joins in once he sees you aren't mad. They're both done with their snacks, and Togetic's all cleaned up, too. You glance out the window, past the rows of houses and down the slope of the hill to the beach. The waves sparkle invitingly in the sunlight. You look down at your unfinished paper, then back out at the surf and sand.

Why not? Today is a good day. Everything is going right. What better time to celebrate?

Togetic takes to the air, trilling excitement as you start folding your paper and gathering your things. You still have plenty of Nicholas Garret's money left. You can go enjoy the beach a while, then head up to Celadon and do some shopping on Nicholas Garret's dime. Maybe you can find some proper hardwood for Rats to chew, pick up some treats for the rest while you're out. Ooh, and you could look for some of those limited-edition Transformozord sneakers you saw an ad for the other day...
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On a quest to be the best...
A new chapter!
Nothing is revealed, but your still setting the scene, establishing characters, etc. I'm more curious than ever.

Question: Are the "child" and "you" different characters?

P.S. You missed a period on the last line.


Lost but Seeking
Yes, I'm afraid this 'fic starts out a bit slow, since the main character and its situation takes a bit of getting used to. The story will settle down and start to click along in three or four chapters or so.

Question: Are the "child" and "you" different characters?

And fixed the period. <<

Thanks for reviewing!


Just me
It's about time I reviewed this.

The pieces of the concept are starting to come together now, and it's looking interesting. I hesitate to make a guess at exactly what the main character is - I'm leaning towards the "just as much Pokémon as human" comment simply meaning it's a Pokémon that has been living as a human for years, but other lines seem to indicate it's literally something in between the two, whatever that might mean. Either way, it is delightfully inhuman; I really enjoy how much of its ideas about the world come from TV, the meticulous awkwardness of its dialogue and its own conviction that it's completely mastered human conversation. The Absol's role is curious, as well; she seems to be largely behind what the main character is doing, but currently we have no idea what she might be getting out of it. I can't help but suspect she's manipulating it for her own purposes.

I'm not sure how literally to take the narrator's comments about the League storing the souls of dead trainers. In the first scene of the story, it refers to the Pokédex cards as "souls", but seems to be using them simply to look up the information needed to impersonate the trainer in the Pokédex, and chapter three, while continuing the language of ghosts and souls, makes it clear that the Pokédex collects explicit information that should be quite sufficient to give the narrator all the information it needs. It makes sense that you could call that kind of information, all stored on a neat little card, a "soul" if you regard people as being the sum of their experiences in life. On the other hand, some of that spiritual language does make me wonder - mostly the bits tying it into Leonard Kerrigan's job (calling him a "grave keeper", saying taking care of the League's lost souls is "part of his job too", as if he's doing something special to take care of the "souls" when simple information shouldn't need special upkeep, and talking about the League doing "a fair trade in ghosts"). I don't know how ambiguous you meant this to be; I think you're just talking about the information but it's hard to feel confident even on a very close reading.

Also, I'm a little confused on whether the narrator actually steals the bodies of the children or not. On the one hand, the first scene has it seemingly being inside the actual dead body of Nicholas Garret, what with the chill of the caverns still clinging to it and slush under its fingernails and icicles in its hair - but with how later it talks about how it can pretend to be him until his body is found, and how it could create Jade's face from a television character, it seems it leaves the bodies behind. Maybe it was just so cold and with the slush under the fingernails and all that after going down to retrieve the body, I guess, but the amount of attention you paid to the ice in the hair and all sounded like you were describing the actual drowned icy body of the kid. And if it isn't using the bodies themselves and has to find a new dead kid every time the body of the current one is found, why isn't it at least hiding the bodies so that they won't be found?

The bit about Titan is interesting. I'm assuming the main character's injuries at the end of chapter two are from its attempt to talk to Titan, which implies that Titan is Nicholas's Charizard - going from the team description in chapter one, neither a Primeape nor a Nidqueen would inflict burns and slashes, and if the main character was planning to keep Titan and apparently already knew him, he could hardly have been one of the "several more of little consequence" the narrator describes. But that way it doesn't seem to make any sense at all that Nicholas was his second trainer, as the narrator seems to be claiming - if he was given to Nicholas as a starter, he can hardly have been trained already. The entire thing about how the main character and Titan knew each other is intriguing - if Titan just belonged to one of the previous trainers whose identity the main character has assumed, then why does the main character seem so concerned with him specifically even though he usually just lets the Pokémon rot on the PC? Did the main character have a real human identity, and if so, why is it so inhuman in thinking and how is it changing its form? There are plenty of interesting questions to ponder here.

Some comments on individual bits:

Today you were exploring the Seafoam Islands. Who knows why you'd stopped there? Perhaps you'd been on your way to Cinnabar, ready to chase that seventh badge, and headed over on a whim. Perhaps you were remembering the stories, the ones that said Articuno's icy nest lay somewhere in the bowels of the caves.
Here, and in some other places later, the tenses feel a bit weird. Instinctively, at least, "Who knows why you'd stopped there?" just seems off - with "Who knows" there, you're speaking about the past from the present timeframe, so even though it's a past that comes before the past in the previous sentence, just the simple past tense feels more natural than the past perfect. If the past perfect is truly more correct here, on the other hand, then "Perhaps you were remembering the stories..." should also be in the past perfect; it's completely analogous to the previous sentences speculating on why Nicholas went to Seafoam.

You head west towards Cycling road, visions of spectacular purchases dancing in your head.
Presumably "Cycling Road" should have both words capitalized, since they're both part of the name.

You've already checked all the good bits—the funnies, the training section, and, of course, the obituaries.
Why the obituaries, though? It's hardly a place to look for new identities, since if there's an obituary they already know that trainer is dead, and its current identity is Jade, one that it made up based on a TV character, so it doesn't have to be keeping an eye out for whether the body's been found. Unless it just switched to Jade for today for the hell of it without having retired Nicholas Garret.

Absol is very insistent that you read the whole paper, yes, the whole thing, regularly. It is important, she says, to understand what is going on in the world around you. You never know what you're going to find out if you keep your eyes open. You'd pointed out that she didn't read the paper. “Pokémon and humans have different ways of learning things,” she'd said, not even batting an eye. “I know what I need to know.” You had pointed out that you were just as much pokémon as you were human. “Yes. So you need to do both.” What exactly she'd meant by that, she couldn't explain.
Tenses feel wonky again; you talk about what Absol says in general and then you're suddenly using the past perfect to recount the narrator's response, without there being any intermediate past in the picture.

Whatever her way of learning things was, you bet it was a whole lot more fun than newspapers. But at least your newspapers had ads, so it wasn't all bad.
This bit just seems to be randomly in past tense when as far as I can tell it's regular narration that should be in the present.

You watch the children—is that how you were, once, looking around with eyes joyful at the sight of ice cream vendors, the colorful tableau of the beach? Would you have been clutching a parental hand or running with a gaggle of young ruffians, loud and rude and thoroughly enjoying your age?
I have no idea what to make of this. Again, the narrator is in a made-up body, not assuming the identity of a real kid whose past it could wonder about - so what's going on here? It can hardly be talking about its real human past, if it has one, since this seems to be pure speculation.

Leonard has a calling. He wasn't expecting it. He hadn't been expecting the job, either, back when he was a grubby, arrogant teenager and they'd given him the choice: prison until he was old enough to be worrying about his prostate, or a second chance defending the borders he'd spent most of his adolescence attacking.
I was initially just thrown off by this whole bit. You say repeatedly that he has a calling, only to then go on about the job without any indication of how the job relates to the calling until you actually reveal the calling. It just feels frustrating and confusing - I get what you were going for, with building up what he does and finally saying that his calling is to find the narrator, but I don't think it works. I'd suggest maybe saying he has a calling once, then describing his job just as his job, and then finally revealing what his calling is, without having been going vaguely on about the calling in every other sentence up until that point.

But then, one day, something happened. His son became one of the ghosts. And then, his son refused to stay dead.
But if he can tell when trainers are dead before the narrator starts impersonating them, why didn't he find out earlier? If the League knows the moment a trainer dies, the whole being able to impersonate them until the body is found shouldn't work at all - impersonating the son of somebody important shouldn't be required to set off alarms. Unless I'm way confused on what it's doing.

It had been a mistake. You were so young, then, so careless; you had no idea what you were doing. Certainly you had no idea who Leonard Kerrigan was, or why he should matter to you at all. But you'd screwed up, and now he was on to you, in his hopeless, blundering way. You didn't really know what he thought was going on, since he never spoke of it to the public, and you could glean little information from these infrequent sightings. All you knew was that he couldn't possibly be right or, well, you would have been found out already.
This seems too past-y, yet again - presumably the narrator doesn't know what Leonard thinks is going on right now, as opposed to only having not known that at the time that Leonard discovered it.

You watch him now, see the slump in his shoulders, the shuffle in his walk as he leaves the desk and selects one of the center PC's, the one you'd used earlier, when you were Nicholas Garret.
Again - I can't see an intermediate past for that "the one you'd used earlier".

“Well. That's good. What brings you here today, then? You've brought that man with you again, whatever his name was.” You revel in your own cunning and subtlety.
Heh. I love how really unsubtle this is and how completely oblivious the narrator is.

a few myterious incantations on the keyboard
Typo - should be "mysterious".

“It's the same old story. Glitches in the computer system, Leo over there getting all worked up about them and insisting we go off on some wild goose chase after the undead—you haven't seen the dead walking recently, have you?”

“I've seen a couple of ghost pokémon.”

“Is that so? Well, you'd better keep an eye on them for me, then. ”
There's an extra space before the closing quote there in the last line, but I'm quoting because again, the weird awkwardness of the narrator's answer is really lovely.

You watch him go over and meet Leonard, the brief conversation—one man relaxed and jocular, the other tight as piano-wire, all indignation and irritation over not being taken seriously.
I had to read this sentence a couple of times to parse it correctly - "the brief conversation" initially seems to just be dangling there until you realize that it goes with "You watch".

Things are coming to a head now. There's only two of them left, and Leonard has one. Once you've found the other, Absol cannot object to your confronting him directly. She even said it—wait, and if it has not come back to you by the time you find the others, then you must do what you must do.
Hm. I have a hunch that "they" are the Pokémon, like Titan, that the main character is searching for, whatever its past with them actually is.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to more and some answers to all these questions. Keep it up.


Lost but Seeking
Aaa, thank you for the wonderful review! I have the next chapter ready to go, but since my reply here is kind of huge-o-normous, I think it's going to have to go into its own post so that people who just want to read the chapter can scroll past it more easily.

I'm not sure how literally to take the narrator's comments about the League storing the souls of dead trainers.
Not literally at all, and unfortunately that wasn't supposed to be unclear. The narrator has a very mystical view of the pokédex and the data it stores, so it really does consider its data cards its "little group of souls," or whatever. But all the League is archiving is data about people and pokémon. The bit about "doing a fair trade in ghosts" was about the pokémon storage system specifically, and was just a little pun of sorts--it does in fact carry out a lot of transactions involving ghost-type pokémon. I considered taking that comment out for clarity, but I was feeling a bit too pleased with my own cleverness and left it in instead. Leonard's job doesn't involve any special upkeep on accounts that belong to people that have become deceased, but he's supposed to be making sure that no one is tampering with or exploiting them, same as with any other account, and recently he's been spending a lot more time obsessing over the fact that he seems to not be doing a very good job of that than is normal for someone with his job--hence calling him a "grave keeper." I'll remove the bit about the pokémon storage system and perhaps it will help? Most of the rest is just the narrator being a bit metaphorical over how it views pretty mundane user accounts and tracking info; it doesn't understand computers at all, and as far as it's concerned its pokédex is essentially a magic box.

Also, I'm a little confused on whether the narrator actually steals the bodies of the children or not.
I think you'll find this gets cleared up in this chapter, or at least is very strongly hinted at; if not, it's more or less stated outright in the next. But if you'd rather (plus a little bit about the ice and slush thing):

It doesn't. My intention in mentioning the ice and so on was simply to establish that the child had actually been inside the Seafoam Islands personally, and also to provide, quietly, an indication of timing. It arrives in a house that's somewhere tropical, but it's still cold, and the ice hasn't melted out of its hair yet, despite it being all sunny and hot in the general vicinity. So this suggests something about either the location of the house or the child's means of travel.

As for why it doesn't take the bodies so they aren't discovered for a longer period of time, that's against the rules and will be mentioned later, but no problem stating it now, I don't think.

Why the obituaries, though?
That bit is just gentle humor about the child's morbid interests; just something that made me smile as I wrote it. Guess it didn't really work out. The child is way more interested in dead people, by and large, than in people who are actually alive and doing stuff. It enjoys reading the little obituary blurbs about their lives and how they died. So the training section, the comics, and the obituaries (and the ads) are just the parts of the paper it finds most interesting/entertaining, nothing more to it than that. Maybe leaving off the "of course" at the end of the sentence would help.

I have no idea what to make of this. Again, the narrator is in a made-up body, not assuming the identity of a real kid whose past it could wonder about - so what's going on here? It can hardly be talking about its real human past, if it has one, since this seems to be pure speculation.
I think this is fine in light of the narrator's nature, but maybe once you get the full story you'll still disagree. If you want a hint, think Ghost Trick.

I was initially just thrown off by this whole bit.
Aw. Well, it more or less boils down to the fact that I'm a huge sucker for parallel structure. Originally this chapter contained some third-person limited stuff from Leo's perspective, and the calling stuff was part of it. In the end I decided that I really needed to do the whole story from the narrator's perspective and threw everything focusing on other characters out, but I really liked this bit, so I tried to work it into the narrator's schpiel somehow, even though I have to admit that it doesn't quite fit and it probably lost something in the transition. At the least needing to add those couple of paragraphs that don't follow the rest of the pattern probably didn't help much. I'll look into restructuring that bit, though I'd rather been hoping to keep it... I'm still not as comfortable with tossing stuff as I should be.

But if he can tell when trainers are dead before the narrator starts impersonating them, why didn't he find out earlier? If the League knows the moment a trainer dies, the whole being able to impersonate them until the body is found shouldn't work at all - impersonating the son of somebody important shouldn't be required to set off alarms. Unless I'm way confused on what it's doing.
This is covered a bit in what should be chapter six or seven.

The child has pulled relatively few dead-trainer impressions, so its activity was previously put down as "weird, but more likely to be an obscure system bug than something actually worth worrying about;" it wasn't even considered important enough for Leonard to handle it himself. Leo's son's death is a special case for more than one reason, as will also be explained later. It prompted him to go through the records very carefully and realize that there was something more going on. Ever since he's been much more vigilant. As shown in this chapter, though, the child, while more cautious than in the past, doesn't care if it catch's Leo's eye--it doesn't seriously expect that Leo is going to be able to stop it, and actually rather enjoys taunting him in this rather bizarre way.

Also, the League definitely doesn't know the moment a trainer dies, unless they do it somewhere convenient, like a hospital, where the right people will be around to get it recorded pretty much as soon as it's official.

I had to read this sentence a couple of times to parse it correctly - "the brief conversation" initially seems to just be dangling there until you realize that it goes with "You watch".
Yeaaah, I tried to revise this a few times and couldn't come up with a better way to put it and ended up just leaving it as it was. I'll take another stab at that, I guess.

As for the various tense issues--I'm very unaccustomed to writing in the present tense and keep slipping back into the past at the drop of a hat. I hoped that aggressive editing would fix that up, but apparently I'm not doing as good a job at that as I'd hoped. I've fixed up most of what you pointed out (as well as typos and stuff of course). Hopefully it's better now!

I think this one is actually okay, though:

You watch him now, see the slump in his shoulders, the shuffle in his walk as he leaves the desk and selects one of the center PC's, the one you'd used earlier, when you were Nicholas Garret.
In the past, "you were Nicholas Garret." During that time, "you" used the PC. Kind of going back and forth on it, but changing it to "you used" there somehow doesn't sound quite right to me.

But yeah. Making weird stylistic choices in addition to weird subject matter choices for this 'fic? What could go wrong?

Anyway, thanks a ton for the review. I'm glad you find the story so far "interesting" rather than maddeningly obtuse or just too confusing to bother with. One of my major concerns with this story is that people would get really frustrated with the beginning, both because of how strange and confusing it is and because the main character isn't very easy to relate to. Hopefully it's able to keep your attention until the story picks up a bit in a few chapters. I'm also glad that you found the narrator sufficiently inhuman and thought it was amusing instead of a turn-off.

As for your speculations, you've got some things right, some things wrong, as is pretty much par for the course with 'fic predictions. It looks like the level of understanding you have of what's going on is about what I'd hope for someone at this point in the story, so that's good!

Thanks again!
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Lost but Seeking
This post originally contained a chapter that was later moved elsewhere in the chapter order. If you'd like, you can read the original version here.
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Well-Known Member
Hey there, I'll be reviewing your first chapter for the Review Game, so let's get down to business!

Your opening was decidedly intriguing, and I really liked how you set it up so that first, we learn of a mysterious 'child' and its return from a freezing cold cavern. Then we're catapulted into the second person, where we're told that Nicholas Garret died in the Seafoam Caverns. Immediately I wondered if our 'child' was a killer! :O As for your ending, it was all right, I guess. Maybe it was good, but your fantastic opening sort of stole its thunder? But nevertheless, this chapter finished on a good note, and I liked that you managed to indirectly express Nicholas' age while at the same time sending a chill down my spine ...

There's a drawer where it keeps its little collection of souls

One of my favourite lines in this chapter! Your style is pretty mysterious, suited to a writer of horror or crime. This fic seems to be easily among home with both genres, and I find that it's already sounding quite macabre.

Not much to say on the dialogue front, but I like the way you utilise the second person. It's a tricky POV, but you've pulled it off well by making the speaker feel, "Holy sh*t! I could have been that guy, I might have died down there!" At this point, the child seems a grey character, open to interpretation. I choose to feel that it's a negative character, and maybe Nicholas' killer? As for Nicholas himself, he's decently characterised despite only being known to us for a few paragraphs.

The relationship between Nicholas and the child is mysterious for now. Like I said, the child might be Nicholas' killer (maybe he pushed Nicholas into the water, and 'you' are lying?), but he might also be completely innocent. The whole Seafoam Islands setup might be an elaborate plot device of some point. If so, you've done it masterfully.

Other than the above, your fic seems most impressive. It's a bit brief and could be expanded upon, but definitely worth reading on. One of the few negative points is that the POV shift is almost jarring. Maybe you could somehow transition it a little better by adding a couple of thoughts in-between? Overall, I look forward to reading more, as I'm done with reading chapter 2 as well now.


Lost but Seeking
Hey, thanks for reviewing. I'm glad you liked the opening... it was one of the first things I wrote for this 'fic that really stuck as it was and kind of gave the rest of it direction, and I'm very fond of it.

Yup, the child is definitely a very ambiguous character. Whether it's good or bad is up to you to decide, and I hope you enjoy figuring out what its role in Nicholas Garret's death was. It's true, the shifts from one POV to another are pretty abrupt, but I'm not really sure whether there's a good way to transition between them, since they also (so far) represent jumps in time and place as well, so there isn't anything that really bridges the gap. Thoughts aren't directly relayed in this story, either (i.e. you'd get something like, "It wondered what to do next" rather than "What do I do next? it wondered"), so they're in the same tense as everything around them and wouldn't be able to bridge from one POV to the next. To an extent the jumping is supposed to be disorienting at first, but if you haven't gotten the hang of it a few chapters in, let me know... it's going to go on for the entire 'fic, so if it's a real problem I definitely need to consider what to do about it.

Next chapter up tomorrow, finally.


On a quest to be the best...
Nice battle description. It's detailed, but it doesn't go on for too long, and it's more than a list of attacks with descriptions. That makes it intense. I feel sorry for Titan. Has he had this happen before? It sounds like it.