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Salvage

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Negrek, Nov 1, 2012.

  1. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    I'm sorry it took me, what, a week to get to this? Schoolwork kills me, but here I am now.

    My thought process, reading this, basically went like this: "So Mewtwo's subjecting himself to the child, in a sense. That can't be right. Let's read the next paragraph... Oh, the great NM's got a point there, see? Hold on, next paragraph. OH, NEVERMIND." One of the things I particularly like about seeing psychic-types in fics is seeing how the author interprets their powers. I can't say that I've seen anything wildly fantastic in this fic (yet), but I do enjoy the little ways in which you introduce Mewtwo's power while readers wait for the more climactic scenes.

    Hypocritical comment, maybe? :p The child wanted to get rid of the great NM for being a horrible person.

    Just a couple random comments. I'm not sure if I've said this in a previous review, but I do like the way you balance your description with informalities such as "what's gotten into him" that really show off the child's, well, childish personality. Also, you've used the word "though" at least 3-4 times already, and I've not been reading that long. :p

    I see what you were trying to do here, but it read a bit awkward to me.

    So just how much do you enjoy writing the great NM and his snarkiness, and does his dialogue come easily to you or not? :p

    "just breathing at the moment" - maybe?

    I'm enjoying how the child just keeps making that same mistake over and over, and yet gets tired of the responses like it's not -it's- fault they're confused. :p

    I thought the human reactions were funny to begin with, but then the houndoom did that.

    I like the whole "Hoennese" bit there.

    I'm not sure if this is based off of some kind of canon I'm not aware of, but either way, it's a clever twist to bring into the scene.

    Believe it or not, the great NM has started to remind me of someone I actually know. It makes it all the more amusing, reading his dialogue.

    Did you just implement one of my favorite pokemon in the most badass way possible? Yes, yes you did.

    Ah, you would end on a cliffhanger, wouldn't you? I can't say I expected Sabrina to show up, not after Mewtwo's insistence regarding his lack of fear.

    Anyway, the conversation in all seemed to drag on a bit. It seems to me like you're trying to give every Rocket a personality and to have them reflect on their past interactions with each other, and I suppose dialogue is the best way to do that, given the story's format. I just find myself not really remembering much that isn't related to the child, Mewtwo, the great NM, and the experiment itself. There were little bits I enjoyed more than others, as I pointed out, but I hope to see these characters more in the future. I trust you know what you're doing by this point. ;)
     
  2. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner Peace to the Mountain

    Okay that? Is legitimately adorable.

    Annnnnnnd that's legitimately creepy. God, Eskar was just so great...

    Wonder how that little psychic party there at the end's gonna turn out. My guess is "badly, for the foxes"--they're not the sturdiest things on the planet. But we'll certainly see.
     
  3. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    diamondpearl876

    No need to apologize; I'm much farther behind than that for sure.

    Thanks, glad you like it. It appears I have a thing for psychic-types; they tend to feature very prominently in my stories.

    Ah, I see you're getting hung up on the idea that the same standards that apply to everyone else also apply to the protagonist. It doesn't like Nate, so obviously getting rid of him would be totally justified.

    Hmm, the second half of that sentence was cut out and replaced during revision, so maybe the parts don't work together well anymore.

    Way too much, and entirely too easily. :p His dialogue is the most spontaneous out of all the characters, although they all have their moments. That particular line was actually a surprise addition during one of the last rounds of edits.

    Nah, I wanted the more idiomatic construction, although I can't really explain why I like it better.

    Of course not! The child's human impression is flawless.

    No canon that I'm aware of, although Sabrina and Mewtwo often have some degree of association.

    Oh good lord. I hope you don't have to interact with them on a regular basis. I adore Nate, but I know I wouldn't give him the time of day in real life.

    Hmm, I don't think it's that long in terms of absolute word count, so it's definitely not good if it feels long... I think most of it's related to one of the major characters, though? I actually kind of wonder if the cruft is more in the narration around the dialogue than the dialogue itself (lots of glaring in this chapter, holy crap), but I'll see what can be cut. I also actually don't know whether we'll be seeing most of the characters introduced this chapter again, but it's definitely a possibility!

    Thanks for telling me both the bits you enjoyed and the ones you didn't! This was a lovely review.

    Sike Saner

    Glad you liked it! I'm rather fond of that little detail.

    Eskar was definitely the best thing to come out of the NaNo process IMO. I had a lot of fun writing her.

    Thanks for reviewing! Hopefully you'll enjoy the resolution of the psychic fox situation.

    --

    Next up is another worldbuilding extra, this one on Team Rocket, which I'll post on Wednesday. After that, the revisions (for REAL), and then Chapter 21 by the end of the month.
     
  4. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    Hi! Sorry this is horrendously late; I was going to review on our birthday but that didn't work out, and since then there's been a lot of stuff going on. But to make up for it you get a considerably meatier review than usual, for both chapters 19 and 20. Happy incredibly late birthday!


    Chapter 19

    Should presumably be the irregular sigh of the great Nathaniel Morgan's breathing?

    I always enjoy the child's nerves. It's interesting how it ends up dealing by just changing its brain to an inhuman state that doesn't feel that way - can't be a very healthy way to cope.

    I like the "draped over the top of his boulder" (you're missing a "the", though, I'm pretty sure); it's a fun image to picture. His head resting in his hands gives me pause, though - if it's resting in his hands, I would think that means his hands are holding it up, which doesn't quite fit with the image of him draped over the boulder, which makes it sound like he's totally limp.

    Interesting! We don't know much about what the child's true body looks like as far as I can recall, but I've been assuming it looked more or less like Sara. Given how Nate reacts to it here, though, I presume it's something a whole lot more bizarre. It's a fun touch how none of the Pokémon the child has interacted with in its true form think anything of it but Nate can't even properly tell what it is.

    Stray closing quote that shouldn't be there.

    Did you know Nate is my favorite character.

    This is so simultaneously creepy and delightful and kind of hilarious. You do a generally lovely job of conveying things implicitly in a way that makes them more effective than if they were explicit, and the skip from Nate to Mewtwo agreeing he's hungry here is a great example.

    Fun touch. I really like how you write psychic powers in general; there's a lot of these little things that just make sense.

    Also, Mewtwo liking fish is unexpected but strangely appropriate.

    Did you know Nate is still my favorite character.

    Heh. Now I want to know what it said to them before it changed its brain. It's fun to think about how even the most basic sorts of human social skills - modeling other humans and being conscious of what they think about you in at some rudimentary way - aren't actually obvious without our particular wiring.

    USE ALL OF THE CARDS.

    From Nate that really is pretty unnerving. I wonder just what Mewtwo did to him while the child was having fun with credit cards.

    Shouldn't there be a comma after that "Well"?

    "boringest" is a wonderful non-word.

    I like the kittiness of this.

    Another lowercase "the" that should be capitalized. Why do you use regex replacements for this, anyway? Sure, it'd take a bit longer to type it out every time, but in the grand scheme of things it's a very tiny percentage of the words in the fic, you'd avoid these errors, and you'd have a better sense of how your sentences will actually read to your audience. At the very least it'd probably be helpful to do that particular replacement before you proofread, so that you can correct the inevitable errors.

    I love the child's ridiculous movie reference pools. (There seems to be a stray space at the beginning of this line when I copy it?)

    This is clearly how it's going to happen.

    Aw, look at him being the only person around with a shred of human decency.

    Stand there, presumably?

    And again with the child's true form. Judging from the fact Nate pegs it as an attempt at a human body, it must look essentially human but off, which is making me think it's somehow a mix of Sara and Mew (presumably, then, having one eye in Sara's original color and one blue like Mew's). Perhaps just Uncanny Valley enough for a human to recognize the face as disturbingly off, while a Pokémon that's not fine-tuned to recognize human faces wouldn't really notice.

    Also, I'm enjoying the way that Nate was completely quiet after being left with Mewtwo for a while, but now that he can scrape some sense of power and distraction out of his situation by angering the child, he'll go for it.

    Mewtwo really has a point. Nate is just babbling and they have every possible power over him; the only reason to take anything he says vaguely seriously is silly human emotion. Maybe the child should be altering its brain to be less exploitable.

    In other news, Mewtwo is still terrifying and Nate is still very much my favorite character.

    The memories were great - nicely described and evocative, appropriately confusing without being impossible to follow.

    Pfft, Natesicle.

    Is that some twisted sympathy I see?

    Wait, why the POV shift now for a few paragraphs? There's no indication the child transformed. I'm not sure if this is a mistake or if I should be reading stuff into it.

    It's interesting how badly Mewtwo reacts to the suggestion that they're siblings. The way he specifically calls it a mistake that never should have happened makes me think he might have some insecurities about being an experiment. Or perhaps he's secretly a little afraid of what the child is and what it can do.

    Oh, Nate.

    It seems a bit weird how this is not italicized even though it's obviously a direct thought. Granted, if it were italicized it would blend in with the telepathic dialogue that comes right after it, so I'm not quite sure how you'd resolve this.

    Also, doesn't "growing on you" usually mean you start to like something better over time? I may just be unfamiliar with this usage but I found it confusing as it seemed to be saying the opposite of what it was meant to.

    The child's imperviousness to sarcasm continues to be incredibly entertaining.

    Also, I read the chunk that you cut out of the chapter before you removed it and it was pretty delightful so I am kind of sad, but you said everything it said would be better said again later, so I will be looking forward to that. (I still want to see the original beginning of chapter 20.)


    Chapter 20

    That's a hilarious and kind of adorable image.

    It's called horrible painful injuries, child.

    Maybe it's just me, but I had to reread this a few times before I figured you meant "think human" as in "think in a human way". Before that I parsed the "human" as a noun referring to Nate, was very confused by the sentence in general and thought some words had to be missing.

    I wonder if the child truly does view thinking like a human as its "real" state and finds it weird to think differently in general or if it only thinks it's weird and gross to not think like a human while it is thinking like a human.

    THE GREAT.

    Seriously, I love this gag.

    Another "Well" that I think should have a comma after it.

    Oh, the child and its movies.

    I feel like that comma after "you say" is incorrect, given what comes after it isn't a full sentence.

    It's always fun to see the child's subtle fears.

    This line is glorious.

    Given I assume the child is speaking about all the different times it's had to haul him around, it seems a bit weird to speak of "the" other humans here - the specific humans in this scene are not the ones involved in all the previous times, after all.

    Yes. That's clearly it.

    I really like how you're showing Nate's horrible physical state in this chapter just through how the Rockets react to him, compared to the child and Mewtwo's utter lack of noticing or caring. (And how you show the way the other Rockets viewed him, for that matter.)

    "The raised-eyebrow guard" seems like a pretty weird, awkward epithet to me.

    Hmm, interesting. So Nate was discreetly trying to steal IDs and that's why they booted him? Unless they're just referring to him having been detained that often, but the relation to IDs seems kind of tenuous if that's all it is.

    Pretty sure that "No" needs a comma too.

    Ahaha, that's adorable.

    YOU ARE SO BAD AT THIS, CHILD.

    And yet, at the same time, despite the stuntedness of its attempt to express it, it really was pretty traumatized. There's an interesting (and fun!) disconnect there.

    Nope, still bad at this.

    *resists the urge to make JESUS CHRIST THEY'RE MINERALS joke*

    Extra space that shouldn't be there.

    I love how subtly you get across how much Nate cares about his Pokémon.

    Typo.

    Bwahaha. So bad at this.

    Still my favorite character.

    Of course! Also scientists wear lab coats.

    I'm sure she is.

    Definitely not! He said so himself!

    I liked the Rocket boss and Eskar (plus that Houndoom). Bringing Sabrina in, with the suggestion she can hold her own against Mewtwo, is a pretty exciting development; so far Mewtwo's acted as an unstoppable force, and it'll be fun to see him out of his depth for once.

    It's been a great couple of chapters and I look enormously forward to the continuation, as well as the Team Rocket extra. Happy late birthday again!
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2015
  5. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    Sorry, but it's going to take more than that to keep me away!

    Chapter 20
    Fittingly, that is an incredibly-human thought1

    This part is so great XD

    I also really enjoy this bit. The whole "just like in the movies" and "it's like the coolest thing ever" is definitely something a little kid would say--or at least, someone who's become more used to first-world human culture.

    Ughghghg >_< *Shudders*

    Awww ^_^

    This is perfect--and pretty much how I and anyone at work would start acting if we knew our boss was coming.
    And, just curious, but do you know what month this story is in? I'm wondering how far back July is :p

    PLEASE tell me this is Giovannis mom! I want to see if this bad boy really does love his mama.

    Woah. How much does this guy know about the Pokemon TV series?

    I feel like Mewtow's attack must have killed the boss, or at least seriously injured her if she's that old. Though since he seems to be collecting information from her at the end, I'll take it that she survived...?

    That is one suspiciously-specific denial and a good way to end the chapter on a cliffhanger :p

    I liked this chapter. Though I really am starting to feel sorry for the great Nathaniel Morgan.... I can see that he's just playing his own side now, and I really can't blame him. Poor guy just can't catch a break :/ If only he had his Mightyena with him.... Reminiscing aside, good chapter! Sorry I take so long to reply, and if you want to keep me at bay then you're going to have to try harder than this :p
     
  6. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    So the timeline I mentioned in my last post didn't quite end up happening, oops. All I can say there is that life sure is full of surprises. Let's all take a moment to reflect on the strange vicissitudes life offers us, wondrous in their endless variety, and then vow never to think of them again.

    The extra is still in progress, and I'm now expecting to post it this Wednesday. Fingers crossed.

    Anyway, replies!

    Dragonfree

    :D Best birthday present! No worries about the lateness. I know you've been busy.

    Although wow, did my proofreading drive off a cliff in these past couple of chapters or what? "Stand their quivering," honest to goodness. Not going to say anything about most of the typos, just fix them.

    I don't imagine so. But why change what works, eh?

    "Over top of" is an acccepted variant, although the internet's trying to convince me I should just use "over" instead.

    I had some trouble figuring out how to describe the way Mewtwo's lying here. He is holding his head in his hands, but the rest of him is limp and drape-y, so overall I would call him draped even though he isn't totally relaxed.

    Unless I messed it up somewhere, the only pokémon we've seen the child interact with in its true form are ones it's been around for a while, plus Mewtwo. As you were speculating later, it does look more or less human, and a pokémon that hasn't interacted with many humans probably wouldn't find anything odd about its appearance. Most trained pokémon would be able to tell something was up, though; it definitely looks off. We'll hear more about this eventually, anyhow.

    Ah, but would he still be your favorite if he weren't getting the **** kicked out of him all the time? :p

    Thanks! It's something I'm trying to get better about, and sometimes it can be hard deleting a sentence that points something out straight-up. It's reassuring when people get the right idea without me having to spell things out.

    Ahahaha, well, the original version of the chapter did go into that. At one time this story had warnings for physical and psychological torture. Ah, deleted scenes...

    I figured that was better left up to the reader's imagination.

    Ehhh, grammatically definitely yes. People sometimes rush through without pausing after a "well," though, and I thought eliminating the comma made the rhythm of the sentence closer to how it was actually being spoken. On the other hand, I seem to be doing this a lot lately, so maybe I just need to recalibrate and put a comma in there anyway.

    His name comes up quite a lot! It's really much more convenient. And more fun.

    Also most of the errors are quite fixable corner cases (here we see how I completely forgot to account for psychic speech and/or italic formatting, whoops). I think I can get the error rate down to being negligible with a little tweaking.

    Regexing is done after proofreading because otherwise I'd need to run two scripts instead of one to get a chapter ready to post. Two scripts. I hope the italics manage to convey the unfathomable amount of extra work that would entail.

    Yeah, I hear you. I'm a little irrationally attached to my silly scripts, but I'll be more careful about this in the future.

    In all fairness, things would have transpired pretty differently if the protagonist had a laser-pen.

    Does he get a cookie?

    I knew this 'fic was in trouble when I realized the character with the most intact moral compass was the ex-Rocket grunt.

    Oh, absolutely. We all have our hobbies.

    He really does! Obviously Mewtwo isn't as rational and disinterested as he'd have you believe, though.

    Nah, that would be silly.

    Arrgh. Originally this part of the chapter was in child-POV, but then I changed it. I thought I managed to convert everything over, but apparently not...

    There's definitely something going on there! Mewtwo knows the child much better than it knows itself.

    Yeah, I should probably reword it so it's not a direct thought; I think I've avoided using them thus far, and I think it would fit better with the style.

    "Growing on you" does generally mean in a positive way, but it's being used sarcastically here. I suppose that's a bit out of character here, though. The child has enough problems with idioms as it is.

    Glad you enjoyed it! Like I said, I'm rather fond of it as well, but I really don't think it fits there. And sure, I can PM you the alternate beginning, I suppose.

    But it healed all those! He should be fine!

    Hmm, well, I do quite like the phrasing "think human" and will probably be using it throughout the story, but I'll see if I can reword that specific sentence to make it less confusing.

    And the child's not-human state doesn't really do disgust or grossness in general; it tends to consider the "human" side weird and in some ways unpleasant (or at least inconvenient).

    It's gone so much farther than intended haha oops.

    This one I think I'm going to leave comma-less because I've only ever heard "well I'll be damned" as one run-on phrase, rather than "well, I'll be damned." This is the only case where I think I'd unambiguously prefer to drop the comma, though.

    It's definitely grammatically incorrect, but in this case I wanted the pause there because it didn't feel right to connect the two actions too closely. I should probably just suck it up and reword.

    idk, I think "the other" is still sufficiently inclusive. Saying "other humans" reads a little funny to me because it looks as though it's including the child in the humans.

    Thanks! That's a fair amount of what the chapter is about (well, about how other people viewed Nate as a person, not so much the injuries), so I'm glad you thought it was well done.

    It totally is, but I kind of like it. :p It strikes me as an epithet someone not-quite-human might use, focusing on what most people would consider a completely irrelevant behavior or trait. I'll see if I can come up with something less awkard, but it'll prooobably stay.

    Nnnope. Mmm, I was worried about this bit because I think it might be kind of hard to follow. Whenever someone gets brought to detention, their ID as well as the ID of the person bringing them in is recorded. So the guard here is just making a joke about how many different people Nate's pissed off/how often he gets hauled in.

    People find it adorable, yes, but have you considered what it would be like to be stuck in detention (again) for hours, unable to sleep or anything because in the background there's just this constant "SQUEAK SQUEAK SQUEAKY-SQUEAK SQUEAK SQUEAKY SQUEAKY SQUEAK..." and no amount of complaining can make it stop?

    Basically this houndoom is the true face of evil, is what I'm getting at.

    And the trauma's only beginning, bwahahahaha.

    Paaaatience...

    :DDDD DD

    Man, you have no idea how pleased I am that you figured out that's what he's talking about there. I'd hoped some people might notice that this line contradicts what he said back in Chapter 18 about why he sold the protagonist out to Team Rocket, but I didn't expect anyone to go the extra step and figure out what he was really getting at.

    Or maybe it's really super-obvious and I'm getting worked up over nothing (I mean, it's not like it's super not-obvious, either, but it's only a single line of dialogue and I didn't expect people to realize it was important/think too deeply about it). But I really wasn't expecting anyone to pick up on that, and it's really gratifying to know that I can do things like that and people will get it. Awesome.

    No but seriously this is my favorite observation of the review, okay, moving on...

    I have to admit this is one of my personal favorite parts of the chapter. :p

    And if you can't trust Murderclone, who can you trust?

    Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed the last couple chapters; I figured this arc would be right up your alley. :p Hopefully the end of it'll live up to your expectations. Thanks so much for the super-sized review! It was a ton of fun for me (and quite useful as well). Again, best birthday present!

    starliteevee

    Well, I'm definitely glad I didn't manage to scare you away. I always enjoy your reviews!

    I hope so. I do worry the movie/television obsession goes a bit far at times.

    Heh, you find that creepy? The protagonist doesn't think much of it.

    It's certainly how I would act--if I got any warning. My boss is a ninja.

    It's currently the last week in August.

    Unfortunately, no, she's not. Giovanni appeared in a flashback in Chapter 13, and I expect that's the only time we'll see him or any of his relatives in the story.

    I'm treating things as though there's a show very similar to our pokémon anime in the pokémon world. I figure it makes sense--a cheerful adventure cartoon about a fictionalized version of pokémon training would appeal to people in that world at least as much as those in ours, I imagine. Or that's what I'm claiming, since it lets me make dumb jokes like that one.

    She's pretty badly injured, but she certainly wasn't dead last we saw of her.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the chapter! Nate definitely can't ever catch a break; it's pretty much a law of the universe. We'll be seeing plenty of his mightyena soon, though. Thanks for reviewing!
     
  7. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    First of all, huge thanks to everybody who voted for Salvage in this year's awards. It really means a lot to me to know that people are enjoying the story, and I hope you like where it goes from here, too. The best is yet to come, in my opinion. :)

    I have an update for you, too! I finally finished the revisions I've been muttering about for ages now and edited the thread to reflect them. Once again, you don't need to actually read any of the revised chapters if you don't want to; they don't present any new information.

    Here's a summary of changes for you:

    - Chapter one is replaced by a completely different version (done back in November)
    - Chapter 2 is deleted
    - Chapter 3 is essentially the same
    - Chapter 4 is expanded and moved up to become the new Chapter 2
    - Chapter 5 is remixed a bit and combined with some elements of Chapter 7
    - Chapter 6 is essentially the same
    - Chapter 7 is deleted
    - Chapter 8 is essentially the same
    - Chapter 9 now ends after the protagonist's first conversation with Nate, but is otherwise essentially the same
    - Chapter 10 includes all the material previously in Chapter 9 and no longer includes the battle against the swimmer

    As you can see, most alterations were removals rather than additions or rewrites. The only chapters with substantial new content are two and four; there are a variety of small alterations in the other chapters to smooth out transitions around moved/deleted material and some general polish, but other than that, it's pretty much the same. Nonetheless, I hope this revision makes the earlier chapters more engaging and less confusing--or, if absolutely nothing else, shorter (success!).

    I've been toying with this revision for nearly a year now and put a lot of things on hold because of that, so it's a relief to finally get it out of the way. There are some changes I'd like to make to more recent chapters, too, but they're much less extensive, and at least for a while I'm going to refrain from revising. As I mentioned, I'm mostly done with another extra and will be getting on with work on Chapter 21 (now Chapter 19), so you'll finally be seeing new material in this thread soon!
     
  8. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    Probably! For one he's very entertaining, and for another it's really fun trying to read between his lines. But the getting the **** kicked out of him definitely doesn't hurt.

    ...you wouldn't happen to still have these deleted scenes lying around, would you? :D

    (It probably is better left to the imagination, storywise. But you know me.)

    Heh. Amusingly, I have had this exact argument with someone else not too long ago. The gist of how I feel about it is that, exactly because grammatically there should always be a comma there, I don't actually necessarily read a pause there even if there is a comma - the only real difference between how I read "Well, I'll be damned" and "Well I'll be damned" is that in the latter case my brain stops to notice that it's written wrong. I can't speak for anyone else, but for me it's pretty distracting and really sticks out. I'm not going to continue to bother you about it if you really prefer it stylistically or anything, but it does detract a bit from my reading experience.

    Ah, right. I think mostly I just had difficulty getting from "the ID of the person who brought him in is recorded in the computer along with his" to "Nate has metaphorically 'caught' that ID". Maybe if you could fit in some sort of reference to the ID of the person bringing him in being added to his file, there'd be a shorter inferential distance there?

    The true villain of Salvage has been revealed!

    It's definitely not super-obvious. Like I said, I spend a probably unusual amount of attention on whatever hints I can discern of what's really going on in Nate's head, and even then there's probably a lot of stuff I'm not picking up on. But for someone who has been paying attention you do get it across very nicely, completely without the narrator noticing, and I really enjoy that.


    Anyway, I'm here because I finished rereading all the revised chapters earlier. I think the revision tightened things up considerably; I admit I liked chapter seven and that whole look into a hospital in the Pokémon world, but ultimately you're probably better off without it. The new version progresses faster, establishes itself quicker and each chapter feels more relevant and substantial now. Again, I can't speak to how well it works for actual new readers, but that's how it felt to me. So great job on it overall.

    Some comments I noted down while reading:

    I'm a bit confused by this line and what it's meant to say about what Titan is thinking. Overall, at this point in the conversation he seems mostly to be wary and confused by who the child is and why it's calling him Titan. But "Are you talking to me? Did you just hear what I said?" sounds like this aggressive posturing, and I can't really get my brain around how his mind goes to that of all things, before even asking how the child knows about that name? Am I just reading it wrong?

    Salvage, where the character with the most social skills is a giant rat.

    "Your"?

    It seems a bit weird to me to give an example of a negation like this - it could at least use a "but".

    "You're leave"

    This line was there before, but I don't think I ever mentioned before how much I like it - it's very evocative and really hits that feeling when you've cried for ages.

    "makes making"

    "He's is"

    You removed a chunk naming Leonard from this sentence, so as a result, the last "he" mentioned here is actually Duke, not Leonard.

    I'm not sure if the child has both a cheeseburger and a sandwich and has finished both the cheeseburger and half of the sandwich, if you're just classing the cheeseburger as a kind of sandwich and switching it up, or if this is a mistake.

    There's an extra "are" there.


    Aaand now to maybe try to actually get some of my revising done.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2015
  9. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Awesome! There are some things about him that I don't think anybody's picked up on yet, so it'll be interesting to see when/if you figure them out if you keep trying to read between the lines.

    Eh. I have the version of the scene from the original rough draft of the story, which was written in 2009/2010 and pretty well shows it. I didn't bother typing up the draft I put down last summer, although if you ever happened to be in the neighborhood of my notebook you could look at it if you liked.

    Duly noted. This is something I'm still wrestling with, so I might come down on always including the comma; I can't seem to make up my mind.

    Ah, hmm. I was thinking it would be implied by the fact that the guard was asking the protagonist so she could enter it into the computer that she was adding it to his record, but I'll see if I can be more explicit about that.

    Glad to hear it!

    Great! tbh I think it could probably use some even more radical restructuring, but at least for now I think I'm going to have to chalk that up to something to do better on my next story rather than figuring out how to fix. And there were definitely some elements from Chapter 7 that I really liked, but in the end I didn't think they justified an entire chapter, and aside from the part that I stuck in a different place the events there weren't ever going to be referenced again.

    Although removing that chapter definitely doesn't mean readers won't be deprived of my depiction of poke-hospital ahahaHAHA (and where else will we get to visit? Prison?? oh boy fun times).

    He's freaked out because the protagonist's response indicates that it understood what he was saying close to word-for-word--his trainer or any ordinary human would probably be able to figure out that he asked a question, but not what that question was. He's definitely not being aggressive there, just more freaked out. Not clear, eh?

    Poor Rats. If only she were the one in charge.

    I'm calling a cheeseburger a kind of sandwich, yeah. Wikipedia has my back on that one! I'll see if I can reword that, though, since I can see how it could be confusing.

    Uuugh how even all these typos. I'll go ahead and edit those out.

    Good luck! I hope I'll be able to return your awesome birthday review soon.

    My writing's been progressing pretty well recently. The TR extra will definitely be up this weekend, and I'm feeling pretty confident that it won't be more than another week for Chapter 19. It'll be nice to actually put up another chapter at last.
     
  10. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Author's Notes: Arright, the next extra! Unfortunately, I have some RL writing obligations that are probably going to delay the next actual chapter, but I will have it out by the end of the month. I'm really impatient to finally be advancing the plot again, and I hope you are, too. In the meantime, have some nattering about Team Rocket!

    An Introduction to Team Rocket

    At over seven hundred years old, Team Rocket is one of Kanto's most venerable organizations and the most enduring crime syndicate in the world. It's one of the largest, too, boasting over sixty thousand members in Kanto, another twenty-five thousand in Johto, and thousands more in scattered branches around the world. The gang grew up alongside Kanto's famous Pokémon League, enabled by the same technologies and exploiting the growing interrelationship between pokémon and humans for its own ends. For all the power it wields today, the gang's origins are humble.

    Origin and Early History

    Without the aid of the pokéball, which was invented after the discovery of apricorn technology in Johto around four hundred years ago, few pokémon could be tamed. Pokémon attack was a pressing concern for Kanto's oldest settlements, and their inhabitants rarely had any pokémon of their own to turn back invaders. There was an urgent demand for people willing to risk their lives to drive away wild pokémon destroying crops, disrupting trade routes, or even attacking the cities themselves. At the same time, the frequent bursts of conflict that characterized Kanto's late feudal period created a large class of battle-trained individuals who found themselves out of work as soon as the tides of the latest war receded. Team Rocket has its origins in these mercenaries, who often sought work exterminating problem pokémon when human enemies grew scarce.

    The first mentions of "pokémon hunters" appear around the end of the Saffron-Vermillion war, when a surge in unemployed soldiers happened to coincide with one of the region's most severe droughts in recorded history. Pokémon and humans were forced into conflict over scarce resources, ushering in a long, bloody period of interspecies warfare. Individual pokémon hunters banded together to increase their odds of survival and enable them to take on larger groups of wild pokémon. Informal agreements soon became structured alliances, and Kanto's first pokémon-hunting gangs were formed.

    While pokémon-hunting gangs had no particular connection with criminal activity, the mercenaries they absorbed had a bad reputation as troublemakers. Nonetheless, they commanded a certain amount of respect for their willingness to risk their lives to turn back pokémon attack. The romanticized "noble gangster" archetype that appears so frequently in Kanto's cultural history has its roots in these rough but stalwart hunters, rogues and blackguards who dedicated their fighting skills to defend civilization against encroaching monsters.

    As Kanto's settlements grew more interconnected and pokémon became less of a threat, hunting gangs expanded into more traditional criminal enterpries in order to survive. Team Rocket as we know it was founded around seven hundred years ago, but for over two centuries it was merely one of the larger of the region's crime syndicates. Its activity was largely confined to the cities of southeastern Kanto until around three hundred years ago, when Ajax "the Mad Electabuzz" Jervey's ambitions of ruling the region led to a vicious years-long campaign of gang violence. Ultimately Team Rocket succeeded in wiping out or absorbing most of its competitors, cementing it as the major crime power in Kanto.

    Even today, however, Team Rocket's local divisions enjoy considerable autonomy, and some still go by their own identifiers more than the official team name. The gang's Johto branch, which was only consolidated around a century ago, is notorious for its attempts to break free of the larger organization. All in all, though, the various gangs pay homage to the overarching organization, and inter-faction violence is rare, albeit brutal when it erupts.

    The source of the name "Rocket" is apocryphal, although it may refer to the simple powder weapons favored by early pokémon hunters, which were cheap, easy to manufacture, and easy for a single person to operate. One of the more popular legends of how the name came to be refers to a group of hunters ambushed by a clan of pikachu in the depths of Viridian Forest. The wild pokémon rapidly overpowered the hunters, but the leader of the gang seized their last rocket and, rather than turning it against the pikachu, used it to incinerate a nearby beedrill hive. The infuriated bug-types poured out of the trees, attacking everything in sight, and the humans escaped while the pikachu were forced to turn against the beedrill in their own defense. The hunter's plan is said to embody the ingenuity and unerhanded tactics Team Rocket values most, and which certainly characterize the group's business practices today.

    Activities

    Team Rocket originally focused on pokémon extermination and specializes in pokémon-related rackets to this day. Even where the gang has spread its operations into more "traditional" criminal enterprises, including gambling, protections, and prostitution, it often does so with a pokémon-related bent, e.g. waste pokémon produced by Rocket breeding programs become prizes offered at its gaming halls.

    Capturing rare and powerful pokémon has always been an important source of income for the gang. In the past, the primary goal was usually to collect bounties on dangerous pokémon threatening human settlements. Nobles sometimes contracted the team to provide exotic and/or dangerous pokémon for their collections, but specialty captures didn't become a major profit center until the invention of apricorn balls allowed large numbers of pokémon to be kept and the demand for pokémon laborers skyrocketed. A machamp, for example, can clear land in a fraction of the time it would take a team of human laborers, but poor understanding of captive breeding made raising a machop to a machamp little easier than working with the fully-evolved species. Team Rocket's experience in locating and subduing pokémon made it the organization best positioned to provide pokémon to the labor market. Although the team charged a substantial fee to acquire and "break in" a wild pokémon, the profit that could be made off its free labor was great enough that for a time Team Rocket could sustain itself almost entirely on semi-legitimate contracts to provide pokémon for Kanto's entrepreneurs.

    As pokémon training as we know it began to emerge, a better understanding of pokémon and their care allowed people to acquire working pokémon through more humane means. Pokémon battling as a sport emerged, but a lack of regulations made it dangerous for participants and bystanders alike. A battle that got out of hand could devastate an entire street, and this, combined with the strong association between the sport and gambling, led it to be banned or heavily restricted in most communities. Team Rocket reaped huge profits by establishing underground battling rings, and as training became more widespread and formal leagues were established, these operations moved towards the extreme of dangerous and unregulated fighting. Today Team Rocket hosts the most vicious bloodsport in Kanto, with fights that pit pokémon against humans or mundane animals, exotic and dangerous terrain conditions, and unrestricted battles that can lead to severe injuries and even death.

    The brutal side of pokémon training continues to bankroll the pokémon acquisition operations that were once the team's mainstay. Even today many trainers believe that pokémon captured outside the League's official route plan, so-called "deepwilds" pokémon, are stronger, hardier, more vicious, and all-around better suited to battle than the ones that wander into areas where legal capture is permitted. Team Rocket, of course, is the organization most trusted to acquire such pokémon for interested buyers. Forays into wild zones are extremely dangerous, and the price for pokémon captured on these expeditions concomitantly high. The specialized "taming" regimens the team offers for deepwilds pokémon, which are rarely tractable directly after capture, further increase the cost. The investigation of former champion Hyacinth found that she paid over sixty million credits for the deepwilds tyranitar that aided her in winning the championship title--and led to its subsequent revocation.

    Despite the high rate of fatalities on deepwilds expeditions, competition to participate in them is reportedly fierce, perhaps because they harken back to the gang's early days. Deepwilds specialists more than any other Rocket can consider themselves more than thugs and petty thieves. As has always been the case in their line of work, they survive by wits, daring, and strength alone, and they take their ability to survive the harsh odds of their chosen profession as proof of their superiority to their fellow gangsters.

    Team Rocket's most profitable operations have little to do with training, however. Pokémon rights campaigns have gained strength over the years, and recent legislation restricts what pokémon can be captured and where, bans the slaughter of pokémon for food or industrial purposes, and institutes a variety of protections to preserve the rights of pokémon as sapient, autonomous beings. However, demand remains high for many pokémon-derived products, and Team Rocket is a primary supplier of most of them. The gang maintains poaching and breeding operations bent on producing traditional food species such as farfetch'd and tauros, but the majority of their profits come from industry. For example the potent anti-cancer agent Ditralzene is manufactured from ditto serum, which can't be extracted without killing the donor. The extreme demand for the product means that most manufacturers don't ask questions when a Rocket front company provides them with forged consent documents and corpses of ditto that died "of natural causes." A recent industry survey found that nearly 40% of the ditto serum used in Ditralzene manufacturing is supplied by ethically questionable sources. Similar markets exist for a huge number of compounds that can't be synthesized without the aid of a pokémon intermediate, such as the complex cocktail of enzymes found in swalot gastric fluid, a vital solvent in many industrial processes.

    Perhaps Team Rocket's most notorious racket, however, is the production of shiny pokémon. Unusual coloration in pokémon, which is usually accompanied by a faint sheen or sparkle, is caused by a somatic mutation during the formation of pre-epidermal cells in a developing embryo. The mutation is lethal if it appears earlier in the embryo's lifetime, which means that shiny pokémon can't be selectively bred or produced by conventional genetic engineering techniques. Further, it occurs at a rate of around one in every two thousand births, which makes it impractical for a traditional pokémon breeder to focus on producing shiny pokémon; most go their entire careers without having a single shiny born to one of their pokémon.

    Team Rocket, on the other hand, has no qualms with establishing "shiny factories," where thousands of pokémon are kept in close quarters and bred repeatedly to produce the maximum number of offspring in the minimum amount of time. The results of this process are often weak and sickly due to poor living conditions and, in some cases, mutagen treatments used to increase the number of shinies produced. These last are thought to be the culprits behind the higher rates of cancer, autoimmune disease, and birth defects observed in Rocket-bred shinies.

    Despite their relatively poor quality, shiny pokémon produced by Team Rocket still command high enough prices to make mass-breeding setups profitable, even though hundreds if not thousands of "waste" offspring are produced for each shiny. Team Rocket has no trouble disposing of by-product pokémon, which are typically offered as prizes at Rocket-operated gambling halls, used to arm grunts, sold to pet stores, used as bait pokémon for training more battle-worthy specimens, or processed into food. Any leftovers are usually mass-released into the wild, often to devastating effect on the local ecosystem.

    Magikarp is the preferred species for intensive shiny breeding, having short generation times, the ability to thrive even in crowded, dirty conditions, and inexpensive needs. In addition, bans on consuming magikarp have dramatically inflated prices, as "golden karp," a traditional symbol good luck in Kanto and Johto, are a delicacy some people have found difficult to give up. The dish carries more cachét now than ever, and Team Rocket is the only group from which it can reliably be obtained. A magikarp-farming operation, which has low start-up costs and space requirements relative to most breeding programs, is often the first major investment for an up-and-coming Team Rocket branch. The result is neatly captured in reports from a recent party thrown for the highest-ranking officials of the Saffron Rockets. The centerpiece of the dinner was a huge tank containing over a dozen shiny magikarp from which select guests were invited to pick their dinner.

    Team Rocket and the Community

    Unlike many modern criminal organizations, Team Rocket has only a weak idealogical foundation; it exists primarily to make a profit. Nonetheless, the team does subscribe to one core belief: that pokémon exist to be exploited by humans. Indeed, many gang members claim that they are actively serving humanity by working to keep the monsters in check. The famous Rocket motto "Steal pokémon for profit, exploit pokémon for profit, all pokémon exist for the glory of Team Rocket" comes from a satirical comment made by a Rocket leader asked to summarize the group's activities but has since been embraced as a fair statement of the gang's core values.

    This makes the gang attractive to some of Kanto's more conservative citizens. Much of Team Rocket's upper leadership is well-educated, and a fair number come from wealthy and powerful families. Administrative positions on the team offer anyone with skills in management, finance, or logistics the opportunity to make huge amounts of money with relatively little risk. For people frustrated with the government's relatively progressive stance on pokémon rights, a job on the team may offer a rare opportunity to work for an organization that actively supports their beliefs.

    However, Team Rocket draws most of its membership from the underprivileged, who are enticed to join with promises of stability, steady pay, and a community where their abilities will be recognized and appreciated. The organization is egalitarian to a fault, and many of its recruits come from Kanto's minority and immigrant populations, who often have difficulty finding legitimate work. Most such individuals labor at the gang's lowest levels, engaged in its most dangerous and physically demanding work, but particularly talented and ambitious individuals can and often do rise through the ranks to positions of high authority, achieving much greater wealth and prestige than would be available to them in the legitimate economy.

    Team Rocket garners considerable goodwill by steping in to assist Kantoan communities in times of need, both after natural disasters, such as Mt. Cinnabar's recent eruption, and in cases where pokémon threaten human settlements, as when Fuchsia's largest scyther swarm laid siege to the city in protest of the Safari Zone's expansion into their territory. The team is also notorious for carrying out revenge against pokémon communities it believes have committed a crime against humans. This is perhaps best exemplified by their slaughter of whole flocks of spearow near Route 4 after Arnold Cranshaw, a young trainer from Pewter City, was found dead of a wild pokémon attack. Numerous other cases of human-pokémon conflict have been complicated by Rocket involvement, and pokémon groups frequently cede land, protection, and political power in response to threats or outright violence on the part of the gang.

    As a result, Team Rocket enjoys the tacit support of many non-gang citizens, especially those with a dim view of pokémon rights. In particular, many Kantoans are frustrated by what they perceive as a lack of recourse to pursue grievances against wild pokémon. Crimes committed by wild pokémon are consideed under the jurisdiction of their own communities, with investigations and punishments left to other wild pokémon. Many humans consider wild justice lax or inadequate, while Team Rocket's brand of vigilantism at least promises that someone pays for a wild pokémon's crimes. Others feel threatened by bans on traditional, but typically exploitative towards pokémon, customs, foods, and policies, and consider the gang a bastion of traditional values--unsavory, maybe, but in its way one of the few groups willing to stand firm against a rising tide of political correctness.

    Thus, while the government actively decries the group, and prime ministers often campaign on the promise to eliminate the team for good, in practice law enforcement often turns a blind eye towards Team Rocket's activities. While major Rocket bases are kept scrupulously out of sight--by tradition literally underground--the higher ranks of Team Rocket have openly held offices in Saffron City for over a century. Police raids on Rocket bases are rare and have little effect on the gang's operations. Rumors abound of deals cut between gangsters and the police, and even when there is a crackdown on a Rocket operation, the goods and people seized are rarely more than token. While many Team Rocket members regularly find themselves in prison, it's notoriously difficult to keep them there, and the number of underground alliances forged when members of different local gangs share a cell suggest that incarceration may be more a valuable networking opportunity than anything else.

    Even so, Team Rocet's greatest ally in Kanto is the way it's become embedded in the region's cultural milieu. Other regions consider Kanto's relatively tolerant attitude towards the gang strange, even shameful--certainly it contributes to the view among pokémon rights acitivists that Kanto is the "most backwards" of major industrialized regions--but Team Rocket maintains enough goodwill within the community that its growth has faced little resistance. Even for Kantoans who disagree with the gang's activities and beliefs, Team Rocket is simply a fact of life, as much a part of Kanto as its famous League. After seven hundred years, few Kantoans can even imagine an end to Team Rocket.

    Future Prospects

    Despite its generally conservative bent, Team Rocket is consistently at the forefront of advances in science and technology, especially technology related to pokémon. Innovations such as more powerful pokéballs and the networked storage system, as well as a better understanding of wild pokémon behavior and distribution, have only increased the team's ability to obtain and exploit pokémon. An estimated 20% of the team's yearly income is reinvested in pokémon tech firms, and rumors abound of underground research facilities established to carry out experiments unbounded by the ethical standards that govern most labs.

    Improving the team's technological resources was one of Rocket boss Giovanni's top priorities, which ultimately led the gang to infiltrate a private technology firm investigating a recently-discovered Mew specimen. The product of that takeover was the culmination of Giovanni's ambitions for expanding Team Rocket's power: Mewtwo. The lab's destruction and clone's escape marked a turning point for the gang. The revelation that the gang was engineering superweapons in its spare time at last roused Kantoans who'd grown comfortable with the idea of Team Rocket as a group of thieves and hoodlums. A region-wide police investigation into the gang was opened, and unease began to build among Kanto's citizens as it became clear just how powerful Team Rocket had become.

    The unusually aggressive gang presence in Saffron City during the dispute over Silph's master ball, which Team Rocket had indirectly commissioned, further eroded goodwill and may have contributed to Champion Red's success in breaking the siege. Some cite this humiliation as the reason behind Giovanni's resignation as Viridian City Gym Leader and his subsequent disappearance, but growing displeasure with his leadership within the team may have been the real impetus. One way or another, his sudden departure threw Team Rocket into disarray. The Johto branch made an attempt at establishing itself as an independent organization, but was ultimately rebuffed through the efforts of Champion Crystal. Reinforcements from Kanto have begun to consolidate the gang's power in the region, but violence continues to rage between a number of splinter factions. In contrast, Team Rocket in Kanto was quick to stabilize under new leadership.

    The team's new boss faces the challenge of rebuilding from the disasters that marked the end of Giovanni's tenure while reassuring the Kantoan populace that the team isn't interested in world domination. Not much is known about Team Rocket's new leader, but the speed with which she quashed unrest within the Kanto branch's ranks suggests that she's at least as ruthless and efficient as her predecessor. Her reign has seen a resurgence in the team's conservative rhetoric, but actual information about its activities remains scarce. Whether the new boss intends to continue Giovanni's investments in high technology or return to the gang's roots, one thing is for sure: a string of losses is nowhere near enough to unseat Kanto's premier criminal organization. Team Rocket may need to spend some time licking its wounds, but it's far from defeated, and as long as Kanto retains a supply of desperate, dangerous people looking to get ahead, the gang will endure.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2018
  11. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    Hey there! I don't really have time at the moment to read all the edits, so I thought I'd drop a few comments on the extra. Hope you don't mind! :p

    Do you mean "Pokemon attacks were..."?

    I think I'm gonna like the way you intertwine real life with your interpretations of the pokemon world, along with canon. I'm particularly glad you wrote about Team Rocket's origins - it's not something I've ever really considered myself or seen written about, and surely a crime syndicate as horrible and vast as Team Rocket must have started before all the business in the Kanto games.

    "commanded"

    I like the last bit there - with history I feel like a lot of recounts tend to try to explain away bad behavior, or at least to explain it directly, so to see Team Rocket's early mercenaries "respected" for their work seems realistic to me, even if a bit baffling, and it makes me wonder just what would have happened to Team Rocket in the future if their actions weren't excused.

    I was wondering if I'd be able to relate any part of my version of Team Rocket to yours, and here we go. XD Okay, carry on.

    I like both takes on the name, honestly. One is a bit straightforward and the other gives an example of what Team Rocket is capable of under pressure.

    I wonder if we'll see more of this idea in the regular chapters of Salvage.

    I'd be interested to see where the inspiration for this whole bit came from.

    For some reason I never thought of "pet stores" as a thing in the pokemon world. Huh.

    I'm surprised you didn't mention an ulterior motive for them doing this.

    Andddd then it all comes to a head and relates to Salvage at the end. Was waiting for the inevitable Mew and Mewtwo mentions! Overall this was really fascinating to read and gave me a lot to think about for my own fics. :) Looking for to more extras.
     
  12. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner Peace to the Mountain

    Holy heck I like this TR. They're deplorable, sure, but also fascinating and believable--marks of an evil team that makes for especially good reading material.

    That sentence tripped on its own shoelaces a bit, but yeah.

    One thing that kept hitting me while I was reading that extra was how much potential for spinoff stories lies there. I think my favorite possible story-well comes from this:

    I for one would read the **** out of a fic about a pokémon having to serve as a laborer back in the bad old days.

    Meanwhile I'll sit here trying to picture a ditto corpse. The term "globster" keeps coming to mind.
     
  13. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    When I saw "seven-hundred years old," I immediately thought that it seemed too old for any one crime organization to last. Then I realized that seven hundred years in the Pokemon world may not have had the same technological advances and effects as seven hundred years in our world. When I think seven hundred years ago in our world, I thought of feudal Japan, though I honestly have no idea if you're basing your world around Japan or not (though I do find it amusing to think of Team Rocket starting out as ninjas [not the modern definition of ninja where they dress in all black and throw shuriken stars, but the original ninja where they were just dressed as regular peasants and attacked passing Samurai or other high-class members of society/nerdrantover]).

    I find the origin of the team name particularly interesting, since if I remember correctly the name was supposed to stand for Raid On City Knock out Every Target (or something along those lines), but as your Team Rocket is much more historic than that one it makes sense and give it a unique flavor.

    My childhood D:

    Those two words in quotes give me a bad feeling.

    Overall I really like everything you did here. This definitely makes me think about the criminal organizations in the Pokemon world and really lets me see how much Team Rocket cares about the profit and the lows which they're willing to go to to achieve their own ends. But then you have parts where what they're doing benefits society (and themselves since they make money), since on one hand you have killing Ditto for a serum which will cure cancer--and who can say no to that? But on the other hand, you have the part with breeding shinies and everything that goes along with that process. That part, and the mention of "waste Pokemon" was really, really disgusting and makes me detest them all the more since they clearly have no respect for life.

    Really, this was an interesting read, and like diamondpearl876 I liked how you tied it back to Salvage and Giovanni's downfall. Thanks for writing this for us to read! I really enjoyed it :) Good luck with the next bit of this fic; hope all is coming along well!
     
  14. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    The past couple weeks have been pretty crazy, but I'm going to do my best to get Chapter 19 done by the end of the month. In the meantime, replies!

    diamondpearl876

    No problem! Like I said, rereading the edited chapters is totally optional.

    Nah, "pokemon attack" is being treated as singular here--the sentence refers to the phenomenon in general, rather than an actual series of attacks as such. I'm not explaining it well, but grammatically, it's fine. Switching to the plural form might read a bit easier, though.

    Haha, oh dear. I definitely forgot to spellcheck this before posting.

    Life would definitely be harder for them, that's for sure. But criminal organizations have a (perhaps) surprisingly easy times playing themselves off as the real good guys, standing up to the corrupt government, being Robin Hood-esque "for-the-people" types, and so on. I'm sure TR could have spun up something, even given different origins.

    Hmm, is that a little off-thread foreshadowing I see...?

    I'll be honest--probably not. :p

    Probably from the way we see TR selling slowpoke tails, marowak skulls, etc. in the game. There must be a market for totally-unethical pokemon products, in the same way that there's a market for totally-unethical animal products like shark fins and rhino horns in the real world, and it's canon that TR acquires and sells those sorts of things.

    The ditto thing specifically is actually inspired by another fanfic where there's a ditto serum called Ditrean that some humans use to acquire pokemon-like fighting abilities and then... battle in super-dangerous illegal underground fighting rings. I'm definitely influenced by the other 'fics I read. :p

    I figure there are plenty of people who'd want an eevee or something who wouldn't have the time/inclination to go out and capture one themselves, so yeah, pet stores are a thing. Nate's mightyena is from one.

    Well, you can't sell things to dead people. It's also great PR, of course. But to some extent TR does these things because on a level they don't see themselves as bad guys. Sure, plenty of people on the team are just monsters who get to make bank indulging in their preferred vices or desperate people who don't have a ton of options, but there are people who totally buy into the idea that pokemon are dangerous, or simply hate them for personal reasons, or have whatever other beef that makes the team seem like a good idea, and they just rationalize away the parts that kind of make them uncomfortable. And probably they do care about Kanto in general and help out where they can. It's the same with any big corporation that sponsors charity events or donates stuff to disaster zones and so on: some part of it is profit motivated, but not all.

    Thanks for reading! I'm glad you enjoyed.

    Sike Saner

    Awesome! That's definitely what I was going for.

    That sounds horribly depressing. D:

    But yeah, writing the extras is definitely fun, because although they cover stuff that's passed over pretty lightly in the actual 'fic, they generate plenty of ideas for stories I could write that would address them much more directly. Glad you enjoyed this one!

    starliteevee

    The Kanto in this story is really more like the US than Japan, but Team Rocket as described here is pretty much the yakuza with the serial numbers filed off and pokemon crammed in there sideways. The yakuza's over 400 years old, and from what I can tell the civilizations in the modern pokemon regions go back farther than those in the real world, so I thought it would be appropriate to make TR a bit older. tbh I probably should have goner farther than 700 years, given that there were apparently kingdoms in Kalos 3000 years ago, but I wasn't thinking of that at the time.

    Haha, thanks! I don't think the anime/games ever give a reason for the name "Rocket," but in Special it's "Raid On the City, Knock Out, Evil Tusks," yeah. I don't like that acronym much, so I figured I'd come up with my own origin, especially since I'm not committed to Special canon anyway. "Every Target" is so much saner than "Evil Tusks," though--I might have been able to actually do something with that.

    Pretty much this *entire story* is "my childhood! D:" XD

    Thanks for your comments! I'm glad you enjoyed this extra, even though it wasn't the one you were hoping for. :p
     
  15. flamebeam

    flamebeam DAYN-JUH ZONE!

    Hello! I’m here on behalf of the Review Game thread. Let’s begin.

    Truth be told, there is not much I have to say about the revised first chapter of your story. It does not give much information away, which personally I find to be a positive. It makes me want to read further into the story. Who is this “child”? Why can it transform? Why does it kill? And why does this Absol tag along? While I haven’t read much fan fiction in my life, I can doubtlessly declare that I haven’t read anything like this. (This is unrelated, but I did find it funny that you used an Absol in the beginning just like Jax did in the beginning of AEM)

    I had to reread the story a second time because I was left a bit confused the first time around. I think the source of that confusion is the feeling that Chapter 1 feels like a prologue. My idea of a first chapter gives more information than what presented. How much, exactly? I would say enough to hook the readers and to introduce a concise premise, if not a direction. I gathered the former but not the latter.

    This parenthetical phrase tripped me up. Is the child saying it mentally? Is it some variation of a sentence break?

    These are my favorite excerpts of the impeccable description you incorporate into your writing. The second quote, in particular, drew a reaction from me that I didn’t expect.

    Pace = I would say your pacing is a little on the slow side, but it works in this case because you were introducing a very abstract scene. I think the best approach, however, is a variation; descriptive writing is clearly a strong suit for you and that meshes with a slower pace, but sometimes it is equally exciting to add a sense of urgency. But you seem to know what you’re doing.

    Characters = I still feel that I don’t have a good read on the child, but I don’t think I’m supposed to at this point. Also, I hope Absol is developed in future chapters.

    Overall I was very impressed with this first chapter. You drew interest with the child, you painted a magnificent picture with your writing skills, and you introduced a unique plot in my book. If I continue reading (I’m an inconsistent reader, if you haven’t noticed by my inactivity), then I hope to see more development, longer chapters, and hopefully characters who are in opposition with the child since it seems to serve as the antagonist of your story.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2015
  16. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    flamebeam

    Hey, thanks again for the review!

    I think I see what you mean about the first chapter seeming like a prologue--it's quite short, and it certainly raises more questions than it answers; the plot as such isn't really introduced. I usually think of a prologue as taking place at a different time/place than the actual story, and this chapter transitions straight into the next one without much time in between, which is why I simply called it another chapter. There's a reason it's structured the way it is which won't become apparent for a (very, very) long time, and it may not be a good reason, but I realize it has some issues. Hopefully the next chapter serves well enough with the concise premise!

    That's the child thinking something, yes. I think that's the only time a construct like that comes up in the story, so it might be better to figure out a different way to convey it.

    I agree that the opening is a bit slow, but I'm glad you found it intriguing anyway. How well the characters develop over the next few chapters, you'd probably be a better judge of than me--but at least I can guarantee that they're longer! :p

    I also love that you picked up on the protagonist's moral failings already--I guess looting a dead guy isn't exactly heroic behavior, but people can overlook/excuse a lot from a POV character.

    Of course I hope you'll choose to read more of the story, but if not, thanks for the feedback and I'm glad you liked what you saw.

    Author's Notes: This chapter ended up changing a lot more than I expected, but in the end I'm pleased with how it turned out. I hope you will be too!

    I thought I was going to get this chapter all in in one post. I managed to trim it down to 50193 characters by removing unnecessary formatting code, then removed a little actual text.

    ...and then the board rejected it for being 50569 characters long and I lost all will to live. Fine, it's two posts now. I hope you're happy, vBulletin. I hope you're happy.

    Chapter 19

    Mewtwo turns to face Sabrina, slowly and with real effort instead of his usual lazy smoothness. His eyes are narrowed to slits. What are you doing here?

    "We're here for you, Mewtwo. We're going to take you back to your trainer."

    No! Sparks crackle around one of Mewtwo's hands, but they fizzle and die in seconds. You can feel the clone's anger, but it's fainter than usual, fading in and out like a radio tuned to the wrong channel. Mewtwo's eyes glow a brilliant purple, but if he's doing something, you can't see it.

    "Yes," Sabrina says. "We are. Get in the master ball, Mewtwo." The purple ball floats near Mewtwo's head, tipping and rocking crazily on invisible waves of psychic energy.

    No! Mewtwo manages to raise one hand, and the master ball drifts down towards his fingers.

    Sabrina's alakazam raises his spoons higher, and it curves towards him instead.

    The master ball wavers as the psychic-types engage in an invisible tug-of-war, psychic energy clashing and roiling in the air. You swallow hard as the throbbing in your head spikes up and down in waves, setting your stomach to nauseous churning. Mewtwo's ranting fills your mind. I knew it! he snarls. I knew the League was working with the Rockets. You humans are all alike.

    "Did you now?" Sabrina asks in a bored tone. "Fascinating. And how exactly did you arrive at that conclusion?"

    How else would you be able to teleport down here? You must have been here before.

    "Don't be absurd," Sabrina drawls. Her acolytes are pale and sweating, shivering with the effort of maintaining--whatever it is they're doing. But Sabrina isn't even winded, meeting Mewtwo's blazing eyes without a hint of worry. "Why would I visit a rat-hole like this, even if I were working with the Rockets? Did you honestly think you could wander around my city without me knowing? With a mental signature as strong as yours, we could feel it the moment you were released from your ball. We can see through your eyes, Mewtwo. And where we can see, we can go."

    You're lying! the clone yells. That's all you humans ever do is lie! Energy pops and crackles around him, peeling away in ragged tendrils rather than gathering into an attack. The clone howls angry accusations, but he's starting to sweat, shaking with the effort of holding off so many other psychics. The master ball glides ever more steadily towards Alakazam.

    He's going to lose. Mewtwo's strong, but he's not strong enough to fend off all these people at once. Your head fills with his denials, but you can see for yourself it's the truth.

    You drag yourself to your feet, head bowed as you take a shaking step forward. You use your own psychic abilities to carve a path through the wall of power seeping from the ring of humans. You don't stand a chance against them, but maybe you can distract them long enough for Mewtwo to get the upper hand.

    It's like trying to walk through a churning sandstorm, burning sheets of psychic energy crashing over you, forcing your head down even though there's nothing physical standing in your way. The air feels dense and rubbery, like the very atmosphere is trying to repel you. Energy runs out of your body as soon as you gather it, just like it did for Mewtwo. Sabrina turns to look at you, the barest hint of a frown on her face.

    Get out of here! Mewtwo yells. He has to repeat himself several times before you realize he's talking to you. You can barely pick out his shouting over the roar of psychic power trying to tear your brain to pieces. I don't need your help! Finish the job. I'll meet you later.

    It's a good thing you don't have to voice your protest aloud, because you can't seem to find your tongue, probably couldn't force sound out over the noise of clashing psychic fields. You're distracting me, the clone snarls. Get out of here! You can't put together a coherent thought, but Mewtwo feels your confusion, and your whole world is eclipsed by the image of a number, huge and bold-lettered, on a plate on what must be a wall.

    Then the picture flickers, blanks out for a second. And when it comes back you could swear it's different, that the numbers are changed. First you panic, trying to remember what it was before. Once you're sure you have it, just as you begin to calm down, you realize what must have happened.

    You can't turn your head to get a proper look at Sabrina, can't feel anything from her either. Mewtwo's a gushing spigot of emotions, but Sabrina projects nothing but a cool, detached attentiveness. You know she's the one messing with your head, though, her or one of the pokémon. She knows everything you and Mewto have been saying, everything you're thinking. She feels horror flood your veins as you realize, already knows she's been found out.

    You shrink down inside your skull as Mewtwo's thoughts pound into yours, fury at your failure mingled with frustration at his inability to overcome the other psychics and fear--even fear, he can't hide it, as the master ball keeps up a slow wobble towards the alakazam. Behind it all is the white noise of psychic power, the minds of Sabrina's team, wending through everything like they're the air your thoughts breathe. They know everything going on in your head.

    You try to think and not think at the same time, afraid that anything you try the psychics will know about before you even begin, afraid that you'll give away the truth of your mission with some idle thought. Mewtwo screams at you to get out, but you can't move. You're trapped inside your own head, because the psychics will know wherever you think to go. They'll follow you, if not now then later; they'll come after you once they've dealt with Mewtwo.

    Your mind blanks again, and this time the memory overwhelming your senses is one of your own, grabbed and re-projected before your mind's eye. Mewtwo isn't speaking words anymore, but you feel his scorn layered over his desperation. He's exasperated at having to do everything for you.

    You're back in the base's entry corridor at the bottom of the pitted metal stairs. This is a recent memory, vivid, laced through with the musty smell of damp concrete and footsteps echoing from the arched ceiling. You shove the great Nathaniel Morgan ahead of you, but you're not really paying attention to him, then as now. You raise your eyes like you did before, study the cracked tiles overhead, geographic patterns of rusty, spreading mold.

    You look down again and Sabrina stares back from where the great Nathaniel Morgan's supposed to be. Her eyes are empty and too dark, the same darkness that leaks into the air around her, cracking the memory to nonsense splinters. There's nothing under your feet anymore, nothing but void, and light and sound and smell all fade away until there's nothing left but you and Sabrina in an endless well of sensory deprivation. You feel Sabrina reaching for you, trying to pry your mind wide open, and terror at last gives you the clarity to tear yourself away.

    --​

    You reappear in that same hallway with nothing on your mind but the need to flee, and you trip over your own feet as you turn to run. Then the headache slams into you with such violence that you collapse against the wall, retching.

    "Hey, uhh, you okay over there? You trying to get to medical?"

    You twist around, expecting to find Sabrina standing there again, but it's just a grunt. The hallway beyond looks perfectly normal, and the tile is cold and smooth under your fingers. You only get a second to take it in before your quick movement catches up with you and you're forced to squeeze your eyes shut against the pain.

    "Yes." You push off from the wall, doing your best not to grimace as your head throbs again. "Yes, I am fine."

    "Where'd you come from?" the grunt asks. "You sure are quiet. I swear I don't know anybody who can get down those stairs without it sounding like a donphan stampede."

    "I came from outside. I need to get to B1472A. Do you know where it is?"

    "Uh, well, B-wing, that's east. Fourth basement somewhere."

    You nod and then regret it, barely remember to toss off a mumbled thank you as you push past her.

    "You sure you're all right?" she calls after you. "You're acting kinda funny, like--"

    "I am fine." You pick up speed, trying to wash out your splitting headache with a trickle of healing energy. You have to be quick about this. Sabrina knows you want the computer, and she might not know why, but you doubt she's just going to let you walk off with it. Maybe if you're quick, you can get there before she finishes with Mewtwo.

    You're almost sprinting by the time you hit the central chamber, earning odd looks from passing Rockets. There's a little knot of them around the elevators, loitering with the carefree nonchalance of people who have no idea that Mewtwo and Sabrina both are loose in their base. You wish you could barrel right past them, scatter the humans like bowling pins and smash clear through the elevator doors. You could slide down the cables all the way to the depths of the hideout. No waiting. No thinking. You want to be gone.

    You make yourself stand around instead, cramming onto the first elevator that arrives. "Do you know where B1472A is?" you ask a Rocket busy texting on his pokénav.

    "Fourth floor," he says without looking up, and the next person you ask is very slow and deliberate about turning away from her friend, her tight frown suggesting your question is somehow less important than her gossip about one of the senior admins. A glare is all she has for you.

    "Do you know where--?"

    "Just go left when you get out of the elevator, man, it's no big deal."

    That wasn't even the person you were asking, but fine. You'll find it. You can do it by yourself. You clench your jaw and stare at the number above the door, willing it to go up faster. You're the first one out on the fourth level, and you quickly outpace the shambling bunch of Rockets who get off with you, eyes scanning the doors you pass as you go left, left, left...

    This floor is more like the base in Viridian, all metal and video screens. But it's grungier, tarnished, almost, and the card readers on the doors are boxy old things made of gray plastic. The signage is at least as bad, and you squint at doorplates as you pass, trying to work out the pattern.

    It's hard, especially when there's so much you can't think about. Not how long Mewtwo can hold out against Sabrina. (The numbers are all odd now. How are they odd on both sides?) Not whether he'll slip up and let her know what you are, what you're planning to do. (Back up, you're in the 1480's somehow.) Not if you're going to come around another corner just like this and run smack into Sabrina with a wall of psychics at her back. Not if you're ever--that's it!

    You put Tony Flores' ID against the reader, and the light flickers red a second, and that is it, you're done with this, you're done with all of it. You tear the reader off the wall and grab the mess of wires behind it, and a thundershock makes the door slide open with a cheerful beep, like it was just kidding, it wanted to let you through all along.

    The lights take long seconds to sputter awake, but you're already on your way, weaving between shelves as you search for the place in Mewtwo's memory. The room overflows with ancient electronic equipment, all thick cables and big disks and instruction manuals three inches deep with browned and curling pages. Somebody drew in the dust on an old TV screen, a few squiggles and a big "R."

    You hardly notice because there it is. It's in a different spot than in Mewtwo's memory, but it's got the same half-torn-off sticker on the front of it. An old thick monitor perches on top, but there's no keyboard connected. You kneel down in front of the console with a sigh you can feel through your whole body. This is the right machine, you're sure of it, and there's no trace of psychic power in the air. You reach around behind the tower--it's at least three feet deep, you can't believe people ever used computers like this--to see if it's connected to anything--

    "Boo," a young man says cheerfully as he steps from behind some shelves of VCR tapes, a kadabra by his side.

    You suppose you can't blame him. He must have assumed you were human. Nobody would say "boo" to a gengar. Nobody would jump out at a rhydon, not if they didn't want to get thrashed. The trainer only gets a couple of seconds to realize his mistake.

    Your heart stops when the human appears, all your muscles lock, and you might actually jump a couple of inches into the air. Time blurs together in a thoughtless rush as your instincts take over, and you remember nothing after that.

    --​

    When you come to yourself again you're at your campsite with the sun warming your back and a fresh breeze tickling your coarse dark fur. You're hugging the computer so tight your claws are stuck straight through the plastic, and blood from your clothes getting smeared across the casing.

    It takes a few minutes to convince your muscles to relax enough that you can unwrap yourself from the computer. You slump in the dirt next to it, breathing hard and letting your head hang. As the adrenaline seeps away you sit and stroke the fur on your arms, running your fingers over the bony nubs that forced their way out of your skin in your moment of surprise. Houndoom, maybe? The skeleton parts jut out at random, and they should only be on your back anyway, but that's the only thing you can think of that would have them.

    Fur and bone melt to human skin under your fingers, and you rub your hands over your face, first to change everything back, then trying to massage the tension away. You're safe now. You can be human again. You let your hands flop in your lap and lean back against the side of the computer. The last remnants of your headache come creeping back, a dull steady pain behind your temples, but you're too tired to deal with it. At least Mewtwo's not here to make it worse.

    Inspiration strikes, and you climb up on top of the clone's boulder to flop down in his usual spot. It really is nice and sunny and warm. Everything looks different from up here, even the absurdly big computer turned squat and insignificant. You let your eyes fall closed, the sunlight turning the insides of your eyelids hot and red, and consider your situation.

    So now Mewtwo's captured again. Serves him right. It was his own idea to go down there. He acted like it was no big deal, but then Sabrina came and showed him up good.

    Maybe this time he'll learn his lesson. He's not so great, and you don't need him anyway, or at least not until the end. You and your friends can handle the mission on your own. You can do it better, even. You don't need him, and if Absol didn't insist, you would just make it you and your friends from here on out.

    You and your friends--that Mewtwo took. Suddenly you're not tired anymore.

    You nearly fall off the side of the boulder in your haste to get down, diving into Mewtwo's crevice underneath. You paw through dead leaves and dig into the dirt below, raking it up in cool handfuls. Mewtwo could have just buried them here, thought you would never check, but no, you get up to your elbows in earth and there's nothing there at all.

    You wrench yourself out of the hole and climb up over the boulder instead, probing in cracks and sweeping leaf litter out of crevices, but they're all empty. You stop and try to sense your pokéballs somehow, tapping to send vibrations through the rock and listening for their echoes with what weak earth-senses you can muster.

    Except wait. Pokéballs are magnetic, aren't they? That's how they stick to your belt. You concentrate, turning up your electromagnetic field until the change in your pocket slithers and shifts and you think you might go mad from the humming. No pokéballs roll from hidden crannies. You let go of the magnet pull and jump down again, hunching in the dirt.

    Smell. You can smell where the clone went. You circle the clearing for a couple minutes, marking out Mewtwo's progress. From the boulder to the ground and back, circling the great Nathaniel Morgan, pacing around and then--finally--wandering off into the trees.

    The track stops not far away, dead-ending in an unremarkable patch of woods. The clone stood here, maybe, and sent your belt drifting up to hook on an overhead branch, or tucked it under a rock, or...

    Or this is where he stood a moment before taking off, flying to somewhere far away you could never guess.

    But no. They have to be here somewhere, they have to. Mewtwo would never go to that much trouble to make sure you couldn't find them, and he isn't nearly as clever as he thinks he is.

    You kick up leaf litter and paw through underbrush, tearing apart bushes and ferns and overturning rocks. You scale trees, breaking branches and scattering leaves as you haul yourself into the canopy. From up above you can see trees stretching out all around you, rank on rank of possible hiding places, and you force yourself not to look. You focus on what's in front of you instead, shoving your claws into knotholes and tearing chunks out of rotted limbs.

    Not here. You jump down again and dig around in the ground, forcing your way into burrows and heaving up rotting logs. Not here. You race back to the clearing with grime crusted on your claws and burrs sticking in your hair, and there's no one here, no one, nothing, just a bird rising startled from its perch on the computer monitor. He's gone. They're all gone, and you have nothing--

    There's something red tucked in a patch of grass near the edge of your campsite. You're on it without conscious thought, clutching at it before you even realize what you're doing with your heartbeat loud in your ears. It slips and crinkles through your fingers, and you shred it apart with a howl of frustration. Just one of the great Nathaniel Morgan's wrappers.

    Then you're in under the boulder again, kicking up plumes of dirt as you dig, and you don't realize you're crying until you stop to rub grit out of your eyes and your hand comes back wet and smeary. You drag yourself back on top of the boulder and collapse, shaking with angry sobs.

    They're all gone now. Everyone--after all the years you spent looking for them, they're gone just like that. That stupid clone--that stupid, stupid clone, he never listents to anyone and just does what he wants, and now where are you? He thinks he's so smart, he thinks he's better than anybody, and he went and ruined everything.

    You curl up in a ball and bury your face in your arms. Now your friends could be anywhere, literally anywhere, and you'll never be able to find them. Even just this forest goes on for miles, and Mewtwo could have stuck them anywhere, tossed them in a bush or buried them between some tree's roots and then been on his way. But there's no reason for him to stop there, no--he could have flown anywhere, to Cerulean Cape, even, and stashed them somewhere you'll never find.

    You bare your teeth behind your arms. Stupid, stupid, stupid clone. Everything started going wrong after you met him. And he calls you worthless.

    Your hand sizzles against the boulder as you steady yourself, coming up into a crouch. Your tears disappear in tiny bursts of steam.

    It's all Mewtwo's fault. When you see Absol you're going to tell her she was wrong. Your brother doesn't really care about the mission. The only thing he cares about is himself. You never should have gone to find him. And it won't do one single thing to get your friends back, but at least for once Absol will have to admit she was wrong.

    There's anger underneath your sadness, a seething molten core of it that calls to the planet's heart far below. Tremors shiver through the clearing, splitting jagged fissures across the earth. Dry grass crackles into flame as the sun beats down harsh and angry, and you breathe in sweet, woody smoke the fire spreads. You scoop up a handful of boulder and watch it drip back through your fingers, admiring the glowing yellow veins running up your arm. Mewtwo calls you weak. He thinks you're the stupid one. He doesn't know a thing about you.

    The boulder melts away in glowing rivulets. Off in the forest bushes are starting to catch, flames licking at the trunks of trees. You let your anger warm you and idly swirl your hand through molten rock. Then you pull it back as a you remember, panic latching onto your chest. You stand up and strain watering eyes to see through the smoke.

    The computer's over on its side, one big crack spidering across the monitor. A big red-glowing fissure right next to it vents caustic volcanic gases. You forget your anger in fear, stop feeding the fire and hope it burns itself out.

    The tremors die away to nothing but the occasional aftershock, and slowly the sun's fury fades. You flop back on the boulder, splatting down in cooling rock, and cover your eyes with one hand. You point at the sky with the other, sending a burst of water-type energy towards the stratosphere.

    The heat seeps out of the boulder until the hiss of boiling raindrops fades to a gentle patter against stone. You lie in a growing puddle, too dejected even to change your skin to drink in the rainwater. That would make you feel better, and right now you'd rather lie where you are and be resentful.

    Mewtwo's going back to the Champion, probably. Sabrina won't be happy about that; she wasn't happy when the Champion caught him in the first place. He'll get Mewtwo back, though. The Champion gets what he wants.

    So Mewtwo's with the Champion. The Champion's at Indigo. And here, once again, are you. Except this time the security on Mewtwo's bound to be much stronger, and all your friends are gone.

    But it could still be okay. All it took was you and Absol to get him the last time, after all. And once you rescue him, the first thing you'll make him do is give you your friends back. If he doesn't, well, you'll have his master ball. He can spend the rest of the trip in there if he won't agree to be helpful. And he knows you'll need your pokémon back eventually, anyway.

    At least you can be sure the Champion will bring him to the final match. There's petitions every year, people complaining about how unfair it is, but the League always lets him use Mewtwo anyway. The Champion gets what he wants. And even if he keeps the clone's ball in a super-top-secret storage vault the whole rest of the time, he'll take it out to battle with.

    Well, he will if it's not some loser trainer he's fighting. Last year Pikachu swept the idiot's entire team, and that's not even the first time it happened. He's only had to use Mewtwo in one whole match since he got the title. Obviously if he had to battle somebody like you, but... no pokémon. No way to fight. And no way to guarantee the Champion will let Mewtwo out even once before he disappears back into the mountains. That stupid clone. If he hadn't taken--

    You sit up so fast your head swims. Your pokémon. He took your pokémon.

    You don't know how long Team Rocket keeps prisoners around before they make them sleep with the fishes, especially the really annoying ones, but it's only been a few hours. If you get just one scrap of luck today, you won't be too late.

    ---​

    "The fuck happened to you?" The great Nathaniel Morgan croaks. Mewtwo's attack punched in the bars of his cell, twisted them out of alignment, but they're still not far apart enough for the human to slip between, not even in his reduced state. He's leaning against them as he watches you, his body in an exhausted slump.

    You lower clenched fists. The guards aren't here. Nobody's here. The wreckage of the desk's all shoved up against one wall to leave a clear path to the door. One long splinter of wood is stained dark almost four inches up the tip. Maybe everyone went off to get healed.

    "No, seriously. What'd you do, go off and hug a fucking magmar?"

    You look down at yourself. Oh. You probably should have thought of your clothes before you took a nap in molten rock. You peel a charred strip of fabric off your chest and let it fall to the floor, flaking away to gray ash as it goes. "No. It is not important. I have a proposal for you."

    "And I got a proposal for you: go fuck yourself with a cactus, you shit-sucking, ***-guzzling little wankstain." He turns away from you and closes his eyes.

    "Sabrina took Mewtwo. That means he will be returned to the Champion soon. That means I need to go back to the Indigo Plateau. There will likely be increased security. It may be that the only time I can rescue Mewtwo will be during battle. So I need to enter the Indigo League Tournament. And I need to win."

    You pause, anticipating disagreement and ready to fire back with everything you've got, ready to vent nervous anger in a tirade. But there's nothing. You move closer to the great Nathaniel Morgan's cell, peering in at him as you go on. "I need an identity for the tournament. I will use yours. And I will not be playing the trainer this time. That will be you." You wait a few seconds, but there's still no reaction.

    "I recognize that you require medical attention. If you agree to help me, if you agree to act as the trainer for our battles in the tournament, I will take you to a hospital. Otherwise, I have no need of you. I will leave you here and be on my way."

    You wait again, listening to the faint rush of air from the vents in the walls. "Are you listening?" Still no answer. "Fine, then. I will punch you until you wake up."

    The human lets out a bubbling sigh and says, "I was kinda hoping that if I ignored you you'd fuck off already."

    You grin and cross your arms. "Of course I will not go away."

    "Of-fucking-course not. But a guy can dream, you know?" He shifts a little against the bars but still doesn't look at you.

    "So? What do you think? You need help. I am willing to offer it to you if you do me a favor. We would both benefit."

    "Look, what the fuck is it with you and me anyway? Go find some other poor bastard to be your stupid fake trainer. Leave me the fuck out of it."

    "I cannot just pick some random trainer," you say. "What if I picked somebody who is bad? I need to win. There is not much time left. I cannot find the best person and get them to agree in the next couple of days."

    "Jesus Christ, just grab anybody on the Plateau. You know they got eight badges at least, right? That's already a hell of a lot better than me."

    "I know you are good at battling," you say. "Even the boss said so, and..." The words stick in your throat, and you have to stop and try again. At last they all tumble out in a rush. "And anyway, you are better than me. So if you agree--"

    The human's eyes pop open. "What?"

    "I can fight in the first couple of matches, as I imagine you will need time--"

    "Nah, nah, back up a bit. What was that you were saying about me being better than you?"

    You glower at him. "You heard me."

    His leer looks even more hideous than usual on his gaunt and dirty face. "Nah, I'm going deaf, you know? Must be one of the side effects of getting practically fucking murdered. You're gonna have to say that over, or I might never hear nothing ever again, get me?"

    "You can hear just fine!"

    "What was that? 'It's naptime?' Well, if you say so..."

    You grit your teeth, your pulse ticking in your forehead as the human makes a show of collapsing against the bars. This is never going to work. You're never going to last a week without murdering this human. "I said you are better than me at battling. Are you happy now?"

    "Damn!" The great Nathaniel Morgan chuckles to himself, a hair-raising congested noise. He's smirking at you even as he's gasping for breath. "Holy shit, you gotta be desperate. God, all this shit was almost worth it just for that."

    You glare at him as he trembles in the throes of painful mirth. "Then you will do it?"

    "Oh fuck no," the great Nathaniel Morgan chokes. "You're fucking insane. But at least I can get a damn good laugh out of it before I die."

    "Why not?" The human's hacking up clots of greenish mucus, but he's still grinning. "Would you really rather die than help me?"

    "Sounds like a plan," the great Nathaniel Morgan rasps. "I dunno where you got the idea I'm some fucking god of battle anyway. Yeah, I beat you, but you also fucking suck. Doesn't mean jack shit."

    "I have eight badges, and you beat me. So you must be at least as good as a trainer with eight badges, and that is very good."

    "Okay, look. Even if it actually worked that way, and even if you got your badges fair and square, there's still the fact that eight badges is the minimum fucking requirement for this tournament. You better believe there's better trainers than me out there, and I bet there's an asston more of them than you think, too. And you know what? They're all going to be at the fucking plateau." He shakes his head. "Even if I was the next motherfucking Red, we ain't got jack shit for mons. How the hell are you planning to take on the tournament without no goddamned team?"

    "We have pokémon." You reach into your pocket and pull out the great Nathaniel Morgan's pokéballs. "See? I got yours."

    The great Nathaniel Morgan gives them a disdainful look. "Oh fuck you. You went and ripped off that dude's team along with all his money and shit? Just 'cause you stole those for me don't make them mine now, dumbfuck."

    "No, I mean they're yours. Your pokémon."

    "Who the hell wants to battle with some fucking grunt's pokémon anyway? I mean, I guess you might get lucky and Red laughs himself to death when you send out your sandshrew or whatever the fuck..."

    "No, they are--oh, just go." You throw one of the pokéballs at random, and a raticate appears, looking up at you in blank confusion. He turns slowly, taking in his surroundings, and stops when he catches sight of the great Nathaniel Morgan.

    "Whoah. What the heck happened to you, buddy?"

    The great Nathaniel Morgan frowns down at the raticate for a long moment. Then he reaches his hand through the bars and says, "Give them to me."

    Your fingers close over the pokéballs. "If you agree to fight for me, you can have them back."

    "No!" You jump at his sudden yell. "You give them back now. Do you understand me? Those are mine, and you give them back now or I swear to God you will regret it for the rest of your fucking life!"

    "Yeah! What he said! Or something." The raticate flashes his teeth at you, but he keeps glancing over at his trainer, rocking back and forth on the balls of his hind feet.

    You start to protest, but the human's expression darkens, his lips drawing back to show teeth. He's shivering, clinging to a bar for support, but his eyes are bright with hatred. He can't do anything to you, not from inside the cell, but you get the sense that he's about to try anyway.

    "Fine. Take them." You hold your hand out, and the great Nathaniel Morgan snatches the pokéballs away, staring greedily down at them. His face contorts with anger a second later.

    "Where's the last one?"

    "What?"

    "Don't play dumb with me, you piece of shit!" The great Nathaniel Morgan explodes. "There's only three here! Where the fuck is the last one?"

    "Those are the only ones I have," you say. "I do not have any idea where--"

    "Bullshit!" He grabs you and pulls you forward so fast your head bangs against the bars. You hang dazed in his grip while he roars, "Where's the last one, you bastard? Don't fuck with me, you understand? Don't you even fucking dare, you piece of shit, you ratfucking son of a bitch, you--"

    You stretch away from the human, trying to pull free. He's half leaning on you now, so close you can feel the fever-heat rolling off him and smell the sourness of his illness. "Answer me!" he snarls. "Where is it? Where the fuck is it? If you don't spit it the fuck out now I swear to God I--"

    "Mewtwo has it!"

    For a couple of seconds the only sound is the human's ragged breathing as he studies your face. You see the raticate creeping up on you out of the corner of your eye, his whiskers twitching nervously. At last the human gathers himself. "You expect me to believe that bullshit? Mewtwo, what the fuck? Why the fuck would Mewtwo have it?" He shakes you, voice getting louder and more hysterical with every word. "Where the fuck is it? Where? Tell me now, motherfucker. Now!"

    "I mean it! I grabbed your pokéballs when we were fighting and stuck them in my pocket, and I picked up your steelix's pokéball afterwards and put it on my belt. Then I found Mewtwo and he took my pokéballs away, but he didn't realize I had some in my pocket, too." You pick up speed as you begin to understand how the pieces of the story fit together. "So if you want to get your pokémon back, then you should help me find Mewtwo. He is the only one who knows where my pokémon are, and that means he is the only one who knows where your steelix is, too."

    "Well ain't that motherfucking convenient? I'm going to give you one last chance, bastard, before I--"

    "I am not lying," you say, actually offended. How dare he suspect you? "You do not have to believe me if you do not want to. I guess that means your steelix got left with the rest of the pokémon in the storage room. If you live, I suppose you could go look for him. Maybe he's still there. Or maybe the police confiscated everything and now he is being held for evidence, or released, or maybe Team Rocket got him back and they gave him to someone else or sold him and maybe he is not even in Kanto anymore and--"

    The great Nathaniel Morgan shoves you away with an animal noise of frustration, and you stand rubbing the marks of his fingers off your arm while he staggers back from the bars, thumbing the buttons on his pokéballs. First to emerge is a graveler who gives you a calm, level look, but the other bristles the instant she lays eyes on you, baring her teeth and tensing to spring.

    "Wait, Mightyena! Stop!" The great Nathaniel Morgan drops to his knees, wrapping his good arm around the dark-type's neck. Her ears go forward in surprise, and she stops growling, trying to turn her head enough to get a good look at the human crouched gasping by her side.

    "Stop," he wheezes, leaning his head against the side of her neck. "Don't. It's too strong. Just, just don't. I can't, I..."

    The rest of the great Nathaniel Morgan's words are too garbled by sobs for you to make out. He buries his face in the mightyena's mane, his whole body trembling with the force of crying, and clings to his pokémon like he's afraid she'll vanish if he lets go. The dark-type stands frozen in shock, half turned back towards her trainer.

    "Just what in the hell is going on here?" the raticate demands, like he suspects a joke at his expense.

    "I don't know. The last I saw, Steelix was trying to stop that thing from killing Nate." She turns hate-filled red eyes on you and tries to push her trainer away, but he only tightens his grip.

    "That so?" Raticate turns to you, falling to all fours. "Well what're we waiting for?"

    "Be careful," Mightyena says. She doesn't take her eyes off you. "It's not human. I think it's listening to us."

    You fold your arms and hold Mightyena's gaze, tapping into your powers of intimidation. The dark-type's ears go back against her skull, but she doesn't look away.

    This isn't going at all like you expected. What on earth is the great Nathaniel Morgan doing? Why can't humans ever make sense?

    "What, like some kind of ditto, something?"

    "I don't know, Raticate." Mightyena gives herself a shake, like she's trying to shed water from her coat, but fails to dislodge her trainer. "Oh, honestly, Nate. Look, give me a hand, here?"

    "Doesn't look like a ditto to me," the raticate says. He squeezes between the bars and grabs at the arm the great Nathaniel Morgan's got wrapped around Mightyena's neck. "Usually they don't really catch on to the clothes thing."

    The raticate strains farther, bumping up against his trainer's side as he reaches. It's a light blow. As far as you can tell, they hardly touch. But the human screams like he's being reamed with a white-hot poker, a noise so abrupt and jagged with pain that the raticate tumbles over backwards in surprise. Mightyena jumps sideways with her ears pinned back against her skull, finally tearing herself free of the great Nathaniel Morgan's grip. The human slumps forward with one hand clutching his side, breathing harsh.

    "Just what in the hell is going on here?" the raticate asks again, scrambling to his feet, and this time there's a note of fear in his voice.

    "No, sorry," the great Nathaniel Morgan gasps, blinking tears out of his eyes. He reaches towards Mightyena, his hand shaking. "It's okay. Just don't, don't touch."

    The dark-type looks at him a moment, then comes forward with head and tail hanging low. She slides under the human's hand and lets him lean against her, and he closes his eyes in exhaustion. Mightyena cranes her neck around to lick her trainer's face.

    "Calm down, Nate," she says. "We need you to calm down and tell us what's going on."

    "What's wrong with him?" Raticate asks, ears and whiskers drooping. "He looks like shit."

    "I know." Mightyena sighs and stops her ministrations. "He needs to go to a hospital. Graveler, can you deal with those bars?"

    The rock-type comes forward, scales rasping against the wall as she skirts Mightyena and her trainer. She seizes a couple of bars and wrenches them from their moorings, then tosses them to the floor with a metallic clang.

    "You cannot make it to the hospital by yourself," you say as Graveler reaches for another pair of bars, and Mightyena growls, taking half a step forward. The great Nathaniel Morgan rouses enough to clutch at her and babble something about not doing it.

    "Who the hell're you?" Raticate asks. Graveler keeps working without any apparent interest in your conversation. The gap in the bars is nearly wide enough for her to pass through.

    "Get out of our way," Mightyena rumbles. Her fur bristles and she holds her tail out straight, aggression radiating from every line of her body.

    You hold up your hands. "I only want to help. You are in the middle of a Rocket base. You would have to fight your way out to get to the hospital, and I doubt you can make it past that many people. Even if you do, it will take a long time, both to get out and to get to the hospital. Do you think you can afford to wait that long?"

    "Oh, for God's sake," the great Nathaniel Morgan groans. He wipes his face on his sleeve and blinks hazily up at you. "I've had enough of your fucking 'help.' How the fuck did I get neck-deep in this shit in the first place, huh? I'll take my fucking chances."

    "Help?" Mightyena snarls. "Is that it, help? Because last I remember you were trying to kill my trainer."

    Graveler tosses aside a last couple of bars and trundles out of the cell. She stops just outside, looking up at you without expression.

    "It will only take a few seconds for me to teleport you to the hospital," you insist, trying to ignore the rock-type's stare. "All I am asking is for you to battle for me. I know you do not trust me, but think of where you are. You need my help."

    "Well..." Raticate scratches at the floor with one of his hindclaws. "The decor is kinda familiar. And if we're really back at base..."

    "How about a counter-offer? You get out of our way and you get to keep your legs," Mightyena growls.

    "Look, Mightyena," Raticate says. He's twisting a whisker between his claws. "I know you don't like this guy and all, but--"

    "It is true that your trainer and I do not like each other," you say. "But I do not want him to die either." Yet.

    "Wait," the great Nathaniel Morgan says. "Hold on. You leave them the fuck out of this. You want to deal, you deal with me, got it? I said I ain't doing it, and they ain't neither!"

    "He said he's not interested. Now get out of here," Mightyena says.

    "I'm just saying, humans are really fragile, right? And he looks pretty bad. If we're going to have to fight our way out of here--look, Graveler, back me up, here."

    "Let the human make his own decisions."

    "Oh, thanks, Graveler. You're a huge help."

    "You asked."

    Mightyena glares around the room, her lips drawn back in a snarl. She won't meet your eyes. She raises a paw like she wants to take a step, but she can't go anywhere with her trainer hanging off her side, and sets it down again just as quickly. The dark-type tosses her head, an abrupt, agitated motion, then winces as the great Nathaniel Morgan lets out a hiss of pain.

    "Mightyena..." Raticate starts. She glances at him, then away, and stomps her paw again.

    Finally she looks you full in the face. "We don't agree to anything until Nate's safe, you understand me? Nothing. You really want our help? You want to make a deal? Fine. Take us to the hospital and then, maybe, we can talk."

    You scowl. Really? She wants you to do all that for her without any kind of guarantee? Agreeing to save her trainer's life isn't good enough for her? And she's probably just going to say "no" in the end anyway. You might as well leave and try to think of something else.

    That's probably what Mightyena's hoping for. She stands rigid, her gaze fixed on you. Raticate chews on one of his foreclaws, trying to watch both you and his trainer at once. Meanwhile the great Nathaniel Morgan's sunk against Mightyena's side, his fingers moving in small circles through her mane.

    And instead of the words you wanted to say, frustration rises hot at the back of your throat, and you spit out, "Fine. Get closer."

    The pokémon huddle around the great Nathaniel Morgan, who raises himself with a confused frown. "Hey. What the fuck are you doing? You--back off! What the fuck--?"

    The closer you get, the tighter Mightyena pins her ears against her skull. You ignore her, intercepting the great Nathaniel Morgan's arm as he raises it to fend you off. There's a brief moment of contact, and then you're elsewhere, out in the open air of Saffron City.

    It's open, but you couldn't call it fresh. The alleyway stinks of garbage and stagnant water, and exhaust fumes filter in from the street beyond. Before you can even open your eyes, Mightyena demands, "Where are we? Where did you take us? You said we were going to the hospital!"

    You put up your hands. "The hospital is a couple of blocks away. I have never been inside, and this is as close as I can get. Go look if you do not believe me."

    "What the fuck? I said fuck off, Freak! I can get my own goddamn self to the hospital. I ain't gonna go along with any of your League bullshit no matter what the fuck you do."

    It takes Raticate long seconds to catch Mightyena's look, but finally he lets go of his trainer's shoulder and takes off for the mouth of the alley, muttering to himself all the way. "Hey!" The great Nathaniel Morgan calls after him. "Where the fuck're you going?" He makes a fair attempt at sitting upright, Mightyena shifting to put herself between the two of you as he does so. "Get lost, Freak. Last fucking warning."

    "Yeah, it's fine. The hospital's just across the street," Raticate calls from behind you.

    "Let us go, then," you say, but Mightyena bristles when you take a step towards her. "I am only trying to help." You can't quite keep the exasperation out of your voice.

    The dark-type glances behind you while the great Nathaniel Morgan suggests things for you to do with your help, then says, "Yeah, well, thanks and all, but I think this is where we part ways."

    You don't even get to ask what she means before Raticate's weight settles on your shoulders and his teeth sink into the back of your neck. You roar and grab for him as Mightyena tears herself free of her trainer's grip and charges you.

    The great Nathaniel Morgan's yelling something, but you can't hear him over the blood rushing in your ears. Of course. You shouldn't have expected any honor from this lot. You tear Raticate off and hurl him into Mightyena, then spread your arms, gathering energy.

    Raticate rebounds from the concrete, shooting back at you in a blur of dark energy. Mightyena follows a second later, and you stumble backwards as the twin sucker punches connect, your attack dissipating in a cloud of random sparks. You right yourself and start gathering energy for a quick and nasty attack when something hits you like a brick to your gut. Next thing you know you're on hands and knees, gagging and choking and feeling like your lungs just got punched up into the back of your throat. You raise watering eyes to find the graveler standing over you, but you barely have time to wonder how she moved so fast before the other two are there, tearing and biting from both sides.

    The air around you ripples with heat, and Mightyena and Raticate fall back as a pulse of flame sweeps out from you in all directions, setting scraps of refuse alight and evaporating puddles into stinking clouds of steam. A one-handed water pulse clears Graveler out of your way, and you race towards the great Nathaniel Morgan. Raticate dashes for you, trying to put himself between you and his trainer, Mightyena close behind. You can't let her get to the great Nathaniel Morgan first; she knows what you're really going for. You put on a burst of speed, stumbling over Raticate but keeping enough balance to swipe the pokéballs off the great Nathaniel Morgan's belt.

    Mightyena disappears in a flash of red light, just before she can sink her teeth into your calf, and Raticate and Graveler follow a second later. You grind the balls together in your palm and stomp around in a circle, shaking out your muscles while your wounds close and vanish. Your nerves keep screaming fight, and anger lights up your whole body with heat. It's all you can do not to turn and attack the great Nathaniel Morgan, even knowing you need him, even knowing needing him is what brought you here in the first place. Instead you try to vent all your hatred through words alone. "Some pokémon you have there. I suppose I should not be surprised they attacked for no good reason, knowing who their trainer is."

    You stagger forward as something hits you from behind. The great Nathaniel Morgan practically climbs over you, straining to grab the hand holding his pokéballs, prying at your fingers.

    "Give it," he pants, breathless and almost inaudible. "Give it, give it--no!"

    You shove him away, and he catches himself against the wall, clinging to the bricks to stay upright. "Get off me," you snarl, clenching your hands into fists to resist the temptation of sinking claws into the human's face.

    "You can't have them," the great Nathaniel Morgan gasps. He's shaking and gripping the wall so hard his fingers are like claws, but he keeps his eyes fixed on you. "They said they didn't want to. They said."

    "They will come around."

    The great Nathaniel Morgan stares at you for a long moment, chest heaving as he draws in gupling breaths. Then he hurls himself at you again.

    You catch him before he can actually hit you and dig your fingers into his injured side--injured where he can't be injured, because you fixed that--and he collapses without a sound; he can't even scream anymore, can only curl in a ball on the ground.

    "Stop this. You are only making things worse for yourself. Will you come quietly, or do I have to knock you out?"

    He doesn't answer for a long time, which is just as well, maybe. You need time to calm down yourself. You can't go out among humans when you're this angry; anything could happen.

    At last the human unfolds himself and stops coughing long enough to speak. He looks up at you with mouth slightly open as he pants, tears slicking his face.

    "Please," he says, then chokes out another painful cough. "Please just give them back."

    "Do not be stupid," you snarl. How dare he? How dare he act like this is your fault somehow, like he didn't bring this all on himself. You've been trying to help him, but he keeps acting like you're doing something wrong. "I need them. You have no use for them now anyway. Because you"--you grab him and haul him upright, ignoring his struggles--"are going to the hospital."

    And so he does. There's nothing he can do about it now.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2018
  17. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Because the character limit for the forum used to be lower, Chapter 19 was originally split across two posts. This post contained its second half, and is currently being retained only as insurance against the potential for character limit shenanigans in the future.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2018
  18. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner Peace to the Mountain

    And on top of everything else, one of them has ****ing spoons.

    I love alakazam.

    Gdi all I read that as dolphin stampede. Please don't tell any donphan that I momentarily forgot they're a thing.

    Okay that made me smile. What a great way to put that.

    Why did my thought jump straight to "you wouldn't download a pizza"

    (I would, ftr. I absolutely would download a pizza.)

    Pfffffffff gfdi Nathaniel. Don't lay that trash on Kanto!

    Well. That was cool.

    Oh god that sounds supremely nasty.

    Raticate are ratigreat.

    Oh god I could practically smell it. Ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew...

    (Why does snot 'n' such squick me so much more than blood does? We just don't know. XP)
     
  19. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    The extra was interesting. I like the political/social background you give to Team Rocket; it makes the whole thing tragically believable. I have to admit the bit about it being 700 years old did make me balk a little, though.

    Anyway, to the actual chapter!

    That does sound kind of ridiculous, and it's amusing to encourage the reader to notice that, but I'm not sure the child of all people should be noticing - it's done plenty more ridiculous things in perfect obliviousness, after all, and as you note in the next paragraph, the child is actually feeling powerful clashing, straining psychic forces the whole time, so it's not like watching it should actually feel boring, uneventful or silly on a gut level. It just doesn't quite seem like an in-character observation here.

    Stray closing quote.

    I always like these little humanizing touches of mundane everyday complaints.

    You're not doing a very good job not thinking about all these things, child.

    Hah, I enjoy that image.

    "your eyelids", presumably.

    Is there a reason the child doesn't attempt a Magnet Pull again, given it thought of it earlier?

    Having some QftL flashbacks here. :p

    Eloquent as always, Nate.

    I really like how instantly and tangibly Nate changes when the child brings out his Pokéballs. He's always throwing profanity around but suddenly he really means it.

    D'awwww, Nate.

    This is my favorite moment in this fic so far. Perfectly timed - after everything he's suffered through, it's incredibly clear how stubbornly he clings to being a sarcastic ***, and it lends a lot of power to it when the floodgates finally open here. It's such a human, real moment for it to happen, too. GO HUG YOUR MIGHTYENA FOREVER, NATE.

    Also, it's really fun to see here how terrified he really is of the child, through how desperate he is to get Mightyena not to attack or provoke it.

    Nate loves his Pokémon so much that he apologizes to them.

    Wait, who's saying "Mightyena..."? Raticate? The way the only accompanying sentence has Mightyena herself as the subject makes it sound like she's saying it, which doesn't make sense.

    Well. That was an excellent chapter. Naaaate. I would say something more intelligent here but I'm too tired and giddy.
     
  20. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Sike Saner

    Thanks! That bit was a pretty last-minute addition.

    When 3D food printers become affordable, the very first thing I'm doing with one is downloading a pizza.

    Thanks! I enjoyed writing that scene.

    One raticate was simply not enough for this fanfic.

    Haha, not sure, but I'm the same way. Glad that came across as sufficiently gross.

    Thanks as always for the review. Your support means a lot!

    Dragonfree

    TR has always been. TR will always be...

    Eh, I suppose. The protagonist isn't completely oblivious to when things are ridiculous/odd, but it has a somewhat skewed perspect of what's weird and probably a higher threshold for the unusual than most people. It's definitely true that being privy to all the "action" going on probably would have precluded it recognizing the silliness, though.

    It did. I didn't intend that section to be an exhaustive list of everything it did in the search for its pokeballs, but rather give the impression of a frantic search. I didn't mention magnet pull because I figured it would get repetitive to have the protagonist use it in each area it visited.

    Same! No mind control here, though, just the fact that you probably don't want to irritate the person who was actually able to subdue and capture Mewtwo.

    He's in a particularly fine mood this afternoon. :p

    Great! I've been looking forward to this bit for quite a while, so it's nice to hear you think it came off well.

    He's not afraid of the protagonist as such. Things have gone from bad to worse for him very rapidly over the past couple of days, and at this point he's completely overwhelmed and not prepared to deal with more crap getting shoveled on top of him. So trying to stop a fight from breaking out is more a panic reaction like, "Stuff needs to stop happening! Don't do anything that could make stuff happen!" with a side of, "Just stay here. I can't deal with losing you again" (which is what happened the last time his pokemon attacked the protagonist, after all).

    Hey now. He's totally apologized twice to the protagonist already, and yeah, one was a non-apology and one was for something he didn't have anything to do with, but still. Give the man some credit, here. :p

    Yeah, it's Raticate. I don't remember why I was so vehemently against attributing that piece of dialogue, but I'll go ahead and throw a tag in there to make it clear.

    Haha, well, I'll take you drawing out Nate's name there as a good sign. I thought you would like this chapter, and I'm glad that you did!
     

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