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Salvage

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

  1. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    Well now, THIS sounds like something out of Pokemon Special!

    JUst a question: Is that supposed to be "were"? I always thought that first-person singular was suposed to use "was" (though I admit my grammar is really bad). Unless she's referring to her cronies as herself also, and thus she is multiple people?

    I gotta admit, this made me smile :)

    IIIIIIII don't think that's a mistake HE made... I have a very bad feeling for our protagonist. And he was so close, too!

    *Facepalm* As capable as he is, this kid really overestimates his abilities.

    Judging by this paragraph and the succeeding ones, I'm gonna take a wild guess and say that he's Groudon. Or that he at least activated the Drought ability?

    Sounds like 11-year-old me.

    I really like this. It shows that the great Nathaniel Morgan really loves his Pokemon!

    Awwwww

    WELL THEN.

    The part with the great Nathaniel Morgan breaking down and crying (as sadistic as it may seem) was my favorite. It's one of those rare moments in this fic that shows just how human he is, whether he seems like it or not. And especially how he was worried for his Pokemon but never for himself--shows that he does have loved ones and that he cares about his Pokemon so much.

    And I'm happy that the child at least thought to go to someone (even if it is just the great Nathaniel Morgan) for help instead of trying to finish the mission by himself. Geeze >_<
     
  2. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    I like the bits of description in these opening paragraphs - how you're comparing Mewtwo now to his normal self, and particularly the word choice (tipping and rocking, for example).

    Haha, your portrayal of Sabrina is perfect.

    Such a badass line. I love it.

    Misplaced quotation mark.

    I feel now that the beginning was a bit weak compared to the ending (I quoted this particular bit because I like it most, though I think Nate being mentioned was abrupt) and, dare I say, that the opening dragged on too long. It kind of gives the impression that you were having trouble getting into the scene, or working with the flow of it.

    A bit confusing because we don't know which question the child is initially saying "yes" to.

    The child's personality really shines through here, I think. XD Really liking the "done with all of it" and "like it was just kidding" bits.

    A nice touch of emotion there. :(

    Something]/i] like that, but not really. Love Nate's lines, as usual.

    You're killing me here. XD

    I'll give Nate credit for taking all thise abuse. He's a trooper. ...Can I hug him? Maybe after the hospital visit? If that ever happens. XD EDIT: Oh, chapter end. IT'S HAPPENING, DUN DUN DUNN.
     
  3. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Some late replies under the cut. I would have responded earlier, but I didn't want to get anybody's hopes up by bumping the thread without a new chapter. >>

    starliteevee

    Definitely! If Mewtwo's right, anyway.

    Yup, it's supposed to be "were," and the use of that word doesn't have to do with a singular/plural distinction. It's used because that sentence is in the subjunctive form. Sabrina's talking about something that could be true, but isn't, so rather than framing it as a fact (which would use "was") she's using the subjunctive, which indicates that she's describing a situation that isn't real (she is at least claiming that the League has nothing to do with Team Rocket).

    If you're familiar with the song "If I Were a Rich Man" from Fiddler on the Roof, it's the same deal. The man is singing about what life would be like if he was rich, but he actually isn't, so it's in the subjunctive and "If I Were a Rich Man" rather than "Was."

    It's a fairly obscure grammar thing, so for most character dialogue I'd just use "was," since that's what most people would say. However, Sabrina is very well-educated and precise in her speech, so I used the grammatically correct form even though it's rare.

    Dunno! This is what it's meant to do, isn't it?

    It's definitely getting its (primal) Groudon on, yeah.

    Haha, well, at least you grew out of it, unlike, say, me. >>;

    Oh, definitely!

    Haha, everyone loves Nate's tears. His job is definitely to be the human of the story. It's interesting that you were worried about the protagonist going its own way; it wasn't something I thought too much about. Even if it split with Mewtwo and Absol, it'd still have its pokemon! It actually has a fair number of allies.

    Thanks for the review!

    diamondpearl876

    Thanks! I enjoy me a good verb. :p

    Thanks! As far as I'm concerned, it's totally canon that Sabrina is a stone-cold badass.

    Fixed, thank you!

    Hmm, did you mean the opening of the chapter overall, or the opening of the memory/flashback bit?

    Yeah, it is a bit weird. Not sure what I want to do with it.

    Heh, thanks. I think this bit worked out better than I was expecting.

    Glad you enjoy the dialogue. Obstinate Nate is too much fun to write.

    Ha ha, that would be extremely painful for him just at the moment, and he's super-contagious, too. Probably better to wait until after the hospital (assuming he survives)!

    Thanks for the review! Glad you enjoyed this chapter.

    Author's Notes: A much longer delay than I was hoping for with this chapter. The past month has actually been pretty productive for me in terms of writing, buuuut it's almost all been draft work rather than revisions. I've been fleshing out the next arc of Salvage (which starts with this chapter), and it's turning out to be a lot more dense and interesting than I expected, which is great. However, I'm the only one who can appreciate it at the moment. :p

    I've also been scratching a programming itch recently and finishing up a revamp of my website. Hopefully I'll be able to stay more on track with Chapter 21!

    Chapter 20

    The child lies in bed much longer than it should, aching and hungry and out of sorts. It tells itself it deserves to sleep in after the week it's had. It was already tired after what happened in the Saffron Base, and that fiasco at the hospital, and then it couldn't even sleep in Victory Road. There'd been nothing but rocks to lie on, and without any pokémon it trusted to keep watch it could only snatch uneasy minutes here and there. With the start of the tournament so close, it had to go as fast as it could. The child barely made it through before the cutoff, even with taking all kinds of shortcuts humans can't.

    And now all it has to look forward to when it gets up is trying to reason with the great Nathaniel Morgan and his pokémon again. The child groans and buries its face in the pillow. Maybe it should just find some other trainer to borrow from. If their team doesn't figure out what's up for a few days... It's good at disguises, and if it mostly just battles with them... But who?

    "Are you planning to lie there all day?"

    The child twists around to find Absol standing beside the bed. "Absol, don't do that!" It slides to the floor and fluffs Absol's ruff with its fingers. She pretends not to notice. "Have you been waiting here the whole time? Did you know I was coming back?"

    "No. I was hoping you could explain that to me."

    "It's not my fault," the child says. "I mean, I didn't come back here just because I wanted to be in the tournament or anything."

    Absol snorts. "I did not, Absol. I know what's important." The child sits down with its back against the side of the bed, cold now it's out from under the covers. "It's Mewtwo. He's back here again. He took all my friends away, Absol, and I don't know where he put them. I came back here to get him."

    It's had this conversation dozens of times in its head, breaking the monotony of scaring off errant zubat and squirming through narrow fissures by imagining Absol forced to admit her mistakes and apologize. Now that she's actually here, though, it doesn't feel triumphant. It doesn't want to talk about this at all. The child looks down at its hand, idly making the skin lighter, then darker again. It conjures up a patch of scales that glint pearly rainbow-colors, but Absol's still watching. It leaves the game at that. "Absol, did you hear what he did?"

    "Yes."

    It's such a calm, simple answer, like Absol thinks nothing of it. The child snaps, "Did you know he was going to do that?"

    Absol blinks. "No."

    "Do you have any idea what he's like, Absol? He's mean and he's bossy and he's horrible, and he doesn't like me at all and he's always making me do what he wants even if I don't want to, and he's messing everything up." It waits for Absol to say something, to defend the clone somehow, but she stays quiet and inscrutable. "I thought we were supposed to work together, Absol. I thought you said we both had to help get Mew back."

    "You do."

    "But Mewtwo doesn't want to! He wants to do everything by himself, and he won't listen to me at all. And then he goes and does stuff like killing all those Rockets and--I'm not saying it's a bad thing, I don't like Team Rocket, but..."

    Absol tips her head to the side. "You're not saying it's a bad thing?"

    "No! But it's stupid. Now Team Rocket knows there's something up, and the League's getting involved in it, too. He didn't have to kill all those people or destroy the base or anything. He just did it because he wanted to, and it caused all kinds of trouble. He's going to ruin everything."

    Absol makes no comment. The child looks down at its hands again, rubbing its fingers together. What was it even expecting? Anger? Absol almost never gets angry. Denial? Even if she disagrees, she probably doesn't care enough to say so.

    "I don't like him, Absol," the child says to the floor between its feet. "I have to rescue him so I can get my pokémon back, but I don't want to work with him anymore."

    "He is your brother."

    "So? He says we're not related anyway. He says I'm worthless."

    "You're not worthless."

    "I know." The child wave an exasperated hand. "But he doesn't think so. I don't care if he's my brother or not, he's awful and I hate him."

    "He is the only one capable of restoring your mother."

    The child rubs out a spot of dirt on the floor with its toe. "Did you know about him, Absol? Did you know he was going to be like this?"

    "No." Absol turns her stare to the wall. "It's troubling."

    "Was it supposed to happen like this, Absol? I mean, with everything being... bad?"

    "What happens must happen. It is neither good nor bad. You know this."

    "Yes, but--Absol, what do you mean, it's troubling? Is it that shadow mirror thing again?"

    She turns back to the child and butts her head against its shoulder. "No. Not for you. I will speak with your brother. Now. You said you came back here because of him. Where is he?"

    "The Champion has him again, I think. Sabrina got him--he was fighting some Rockets in Saffron City, and then she came in with a whole bunch of other psychics and he couldn't get away. Can you find him like you did last time?"

    Absol paces around in a circle. "I will find what I can. You can go home, if you like. I will come to you once I figure out what's going on."

    "Actually... I was going to enter the League Tournament. Because if Mewtwo gets put away somewhere, the only time we might get to see him is when he fights."

    Absol stops roaming and looks at the child, very still. She's not going to like the rest of this, but: "So will you fight in the tournament for me? Please? I'm going to be a pokémon, too, and that Rocket guy you met before, he's going to be the trainer, and if we make it all the way to the finals, we can make the Champion use Mewtwo against us and then just grab him and teleport away before anybody realizes what happened!"

    Absol's silent for long seconds. "I will try to find Mewtwo. You should wait somewhere safe."

    "No, Absol, come on! You can investigate as much as you want, I'm just saying help me out when I have to battle. Or... or when the Rocket has to battle, I guess. Please? Please? It won't take much time! And I don't want to sit around at home all day. This way we have a back-up plan in case we can't get Mewtwo from the Champion otherwise."

    "You know what I think about you participating in the tournament."

    "Please, Absol? At least think about it? If you see a way to get Mewtwo back right away, we can do that and leave, I promise. But if you don't, will you help me?"

    "I will find out what happened to your brother," Absol says. "And you would be wise to go home."

    And of course she walks out then, before the child can even start to protest. It's so stupid how she just leaves an argument if she can't win.

    The child draws its knees up to its chest and stares at the wall. Well, it's out of bed now. The clock's running on towards noon. It might as well get on with things.

    It sighs and braces a hand against the bed to push itself up, its muscles flaring with aches. First, it should go see how the great Nathaniel Morgan's doing. There's no way he'll be grateful for the child saving his life again, but it has to at least try to make him see reason.

    The child stumbles around in an out-of-sorts daze, throwing on the human's body along with some clothes. In a few seconds you're the great Nathaniel Morgan again, or what he used to look like, anyway; hopefully people will still believe you're brothers.

    You sigh and grab the great Nathaniel Morgan's pokéball belt off the nightstand, cinching it around your waist. You're all argued out already, and Absol isn't even half as hard to talk to as that stupid human.

    He'd better not give you any more grief. With the mood you're in, you might just change your mind about killing him.

    --​

    "I thought he just had a cough!" You can't think of anything else to say as you lean against the edge of the hospital bed, staring down at the great Nathaniel Morgan. He looks weird and washed out under the hospital lights, a mask over his face and monitors huddling close around his bed.

    "Well, pneumonia, yes," says the doctor who brought you in. "Thankfully it's responding well to antibiotics. Unfortunately, his condition is complicated by sepsis, and there's not much we can do for that besides try to keep his fluids in balance and wait to see if he pulls through."

    Of course the great Nathaniel Morgan would get septitis or whatever. That's exactly the kind of thing he'd do. "Well, how long until he gets out of here?"

    "There's no way to know yet. If he recovers enough to leave the ICU, it will likely be several weeks before he's ready to be released."

    "Weeks?" He can't be in here for weeks! The tournament starts the day after tomorrow. If he's going to be stuck in here that long, he might as well be dead. Which, actually... "Wait, 'if' he recovers? He might die?"

    "I'm afraid so. Sepsis is very serious, and your brother was severely malnourished when he was brought in, which is going to make things harder for him. There are a lot of factors involved, but I would say there's maybe a 50% chance that he makes a full recovery."

    You grip the bed so hard the plastic railing creaks. Just perfect. You went to all this trouble to make sure the great Nathaniel Morgan didn't die, and now he might go and do it anyway. This is all his fault.

    "I'm sorry. I know this is a bit of a shock, but I was hoping I could ask you some questions. Your brother's case is very unusual, and given the circumstances under which he was admitted--"

    "That was so stupid! He was not even burned or anything. Everyone was making a huge deal out of nothing." You pound your fist on the edge of the bed, then turn to the doctor when you realize he hasn't responded. He's clutching his tablet to his chest, staring at you. "I know because I am friends with Tony Flores," you say. "He told me what happened, and also that the great Nathaniel Morgan was here. That is how I knew to come."

    "I see," the doctor says after a minute. He frowns and rearranges his tablet so he can write on it. "Well, the point is that we haven't been able to get a clear picture of what happened to your brother, and I was hoping you could help us fill in some of the gaps."

    "He did not tell you anything?"

    "No, not really. He wasn't very coherent when he was admitted, and since he went into shock we've had to keep him sedated for the intubation. Anything you might be able to tell us would be helpful."

    "Fine. What do you want to know?"

    "What happened to him?"

    "I do not know. He was training by Indigo Plateau for a while. I had not heard from him in a couple months."

    "But he ended up here?"

    Oh. Right. "I guess?"

    The doctor frowns down at his tablet. "Does he own any pokémon?"

    "I just said he was training, did I not? He has pokémon."

    "What species?"

    "A mightyena, a raticate, a graveler, and a steelix."

    The doctor frowns and scribbles something. "No psychic-types? Is he unusually psychic reactive? I mean--"

    "I do not know! Why are you even asking me this? Who cares if he has pokémon? They did not give him septi-whatever, did they?" Or is his team infected with something? It wouldn't surprise you.

    "No, they didn't. Mr. Morgan, your brother appears to have been attacked by a large pokémon, perhaps a dodrio or a pidgeot. The wounds became infected, which led to the--"

    "Okay, so he got attacked. Why are you asking me about it?"

    The doctor shakes his head. "His injuries were already healed. In fact, they healed so quickly that they trapped the infected fluid inside his chest cavity, and we had to reopen them to drain it. It doesn't add up--the wounds shouldn't have closed before infection like that. In addition, he shows a moderate level of psychic inflammation--"

    "So he got attacked by a big bird. Um, a big, psychic bird. I still do not get why it matters."

    "We've never seen anything like this before. All we know is that pokémon appear to be involved, and if there's residual elemental energy in his system it could change how he responds to drug treatments. On top of that, prolonged exposure to strong psychic emanations can lead to severe psycholog--"

    "I do not know anything about it."

    "Nothing? Your brother appears to have been starving. He didn't contact you at all while he--"

    "No, he did not! Maybe he forgot to pack food."

    "Mr. Morgan, we're trying to save your brother's life. Anything at all that you could tell us might help. Do you know how your friend, hmm, Mr. Flores, was it? Do you know how he found--"

    "No! You would have to ask him. I do not know."

    The doctor sighs and lowers his tablet. "Very well. I'm sorry to have upset you, Mr. Morgan. I understand that this is a lot to take in. But I must urge you, if you think of anything, anything at all, tell one of the staff. It could save your brother's life."

    "Okay. Fine."

    "Are you planning to stay with him?" the doctor asks.

    "I guess. How long can I be here?"

    "As long as you like. The ICU closes between nine and ten PM and eight and nine AM for the staff to make their rounds, but there are no other restrictions on visiting hours. We do encourage you to take care of yourself, though. Go home, rest. Make sure you remember to eat."

    "Are pokémon allowed?"

    "Yes, as long as they aren't disruptive and are small enough that they won't interfere with staff."

    You nod and turn away, and it takes you long seconds to realize the doctor's still standing there. "Thank you," you say. Thank you for nothing.

    "Of course. Don't hesitate to ask one of the staff if you have any questions. And let me personally express my hope that your brother makes a swift and full recovery."

    Then he's gone at last. You stand next to the great Nathaniel Morgan's bed, fiddling with the pokéballs on your belt. The pokémon aren't going to be happy. But they probably won't believe you brought him in if they don't see it for themselves.

    They come out of their pokéballs ready to fight, Mightyena rounding on you with a snarl that turns heads all around the room. A bayleef with an ID dangling from the lanyard around his neck stomps forward, looking like he's about to reprimand you. But the great Nathaniel Morgan's pokémon huddle back to back in confusion, staring around the unfamiliar room in search of the attacker they remember. One by one, the doctors and nurses go back to their work.

    "Nate?" Mightyena asks, looking up at you.

    Well, yes, but you don't feel like getting into that argument now. You shake your head and point at the bed next to you. Mightyena approaches slowly, keeping her eyes on you the entire time. She rears up and puts her front paws on the bed, and Raticate climbs up her back to perch on the railing.

    "Wait, what the heck?" he asks, twisting his whole body around to look between you and the great Nathaniel Morgan. "If that's Nate there, then how are--you're that freaky pokémon-talking guy? But how--?"

    You nod but say, "Not now. This is your chance to see your trainer. So look."

    Graveler puts one hand on the bed and tilts her body back, trying to see over the edge. The whole thing creaks as she presses down on it, and you wonder what the staff would do if she broke it.

    "Ooh, that looks bad," Raticate says quietly. "Like... ouch. Bad."

    Mightyena stretches forward and nudges the great Nathaniel Morgan's hand with her nose, her tail giving a couple short wags. The human doesn't respond.

    "I thought hospitals were just like pokémon centers for humans." Raticate hunches in a miserable ball, his whiskers drooping. "You know, except... bigger. Because humans can't go in pokéballs."

    "Healing machines do not work on humans," you say. "This is the best they can do. They do it for pokémon, too, if there's something the machine can't fix."

    Mightyena whines and shoves her snout under the great Nathaniel Morgan's hand, but his fingers stay slack and unresponsive. You can't see any change in the machines monitoring him.

    The pokémon are quiet a long time, their silence filled with the beeping of monitors, the whoosh and click of unknown machines. Most of the other patients are passed out, but a few look blearily aware of where they are. Probably one of the nurses is going to go over and give them another injection soon, something to make sure they can't fight back, or force them to eat, or check the restraints because she almost got loose the last time, looks like the psychic fluctuations are more unstable than we thought, increase the dosage and tune the monitors to--

    You swallow back bile and get a grip on yourself. You're being stupid. Those memories aren't even yours. Nothing like that has ever happened to you, ever.

    Everything about this is stupid. You cross your arms over your chest and hunch your shoulders. It's too cold in here. The pokémon keep watching the great Nathaniel Morgan, but there's nothing to see. What are they expecting? That he's going to open his eyes and wink at them and tell them he was just faking all along? This is a waste of time. You need to start training. The first battle's tomorrow.

    How long has it been, anyway? Ten minutes at least. That's more than enough. "We have to go," you say. "We have a lot of work to do."

    "We can't just leave him here like this," Raticate says, but he sounds distraught, not defiant.

    "Yes, you can. There is nothing you can do here. If you want to see your friend Steelix again we need to prepare for the tournament."

    "I..." Raticate glances at his teammate. "Mightyena?"

    She doesn't answer. She doesn't look over when you take the pokéballs off your belt, either. She stands with her chin resting on the bedspread, her eyes distant.

    "But what if he wakes up?" Raticate asks, turning a pleading look between you and Mightyena. "If we leave and he wakes up, he'll be all alone."

    Really? Oh, poor baby. You bite back a cutting remark, clamping down on the surge of anger that rises in your chest. Something of it must show on your face, though, because Raticate flinches, cowering away from you. "Return," you say, and a couple seconds later you're alone again.

    You take a last look at the great Nathaniel Morgan. His pokémon act like this is some kind of tragedy, like it isn't the human's own fault he's in this condition. He'd better not ruin this for you, not after all the work you've done.

    You glance around to make sure no one's watching, then lean forward and whisper in his ear, "You had better not die. If you do, then I guess I will just have to keep your pokémon forever. You would not like that very much, would you?"

    It's completely irrational. Of course the human can't hear you, passed out like he is. Still, it helps. You force yourself to walk out of the room, walk out of the hospital completely. You don't hurry. You're completely calm. You don't even start to run until the hospital's well out of sight.

    --​

    You stuff your hands as deep as you can in the pockets of your new jacket, ducking your head as wind slashes at your face. Fall comes early at this altitude, and a scatter of tumbled rocks are your only screen against the wind. Behind you, a noisy sprawl of tents and RV's and thrown-together shacks ring Indigo Town proper, battle enthusiasts overflowing across the Plateau. You're so far out you can't smell their fires, can only imagine the chatter of families gathered around their televisions, tuned in to pre-match commentary. You could be there, too, boasting about sure success in the tournament and battling with eager amateurs, but instead you have to stand out here where no one will interrupt and scrape together what to say to the great Nathaniel Morgan's pokémon.

    Mightyena lies with her chin on the rocky ground, staring at nothing. Raticate huddles against her side, tail tucked tight around his legs, staring up at you with white-rimmed eyes. Graveler's staring too, same as she always does, with that utterly flat, disinterested look.

    "So I took your trainer to the hospital, like I promised. You tried to get out of our bargain, but I held up my end anyway. I saved his life. I'll say it again: I want you to help me. I want you to battle for me in the Indigo League Tournament. And if you're willing to do that, we have to start training."

    You can't tell if Mightyena heard you, so you focus on Raticate instead. He shrinks tighter against the dark-type's side, his whiskers quivering. "Look, I don't know, okay? I don't even know what you're talking about. Why do you want us to fight, anyway? I don't even know who you are. I mean, what you are. Why won't you leave us alone?"

    You sigh and rub your face. "I need to win the Indigo Tournament because I'm trying to get Mewtwo back from the Champion. He took my pokémon away, and he took your trainer's steelix, too. If we do well in the tournament, we all benefit. And I will give you back to him as soon as he gets out of the hospital. This is only a temporary arrangement."

    Raticate shakes his head slowly. "Uh, what? Look, last thing I remember there were mankey all over the place, and then somehow we're back in Saffron and Nate's sick or something and he's completely freaking out and then you're going on about Mewtwo and the League and... I don't even know. I got no clue what's going on anymore."

    "All I know," Mightyena says, "is Nate never told me about Mewtwo. And the last thing I saw, you were trying to kill him. Maybe you did. The way he is now..."

    "I told you, the doctor said he's going to be fine!"

    "What if he's not?" Mightyena's head snaps up, her lips drawing back in a snarl. "What if you're lying? You expect me to see him like that and believe everything's going to be all right?"

    Raticate shrinks down into a ball, tucking his ears tight against his skull.

    "I took him to the hospital! He would be dead if not for me. And I saved him from Team Rocket, too. You know about that. You were there."

    "That's what you say. That's what you claim," Mightyena says. "But the only times I've actually seen you, you were either tearing him apart or dragging him around like he's some kind of puppet. And now you're standing there pretending to be him like you think you have any right, like you think you could ever possibly be worthy of taking his name. Like you could ever come close to being what he is."

    "Of course I am not like him. I would not want to be. He is mean and rude and a liar and--"

    Mightyena makes a noise somewhere between a bark and a roar and leaps at you, knocking you to the ground. Your hands go up instinctively, and you grab her around the neck, forcing her head back as she struggles to reach your neck.

    "Mightyena, stop!" You can't see Raticate past the blur of black-gray fur and glistening teeth, but it sounds like he's coming closer. "Nate said not to fight!"

    "That's all?" you grunt. Hot ribbons of saliva drip onto your face, but you've got a good grip on Mightyena now. She can't force her head any closer. She's not that strong. "You need me to beat you up to prove I'm worthy of being your trainer?"

    "Mightyena!" Raticate wriggles between the two of you, trying to shoulder his teammate aside.

    "I'll never fight for you," Mightyena growls. "I don't care. Never. Take us back to the hospital."

    "Come on, Mightyena. Calm down," Raticate says, claws splayed to brace himself as he shoves her.

    "No. We were just there. You saw everything there is to see."

    "I don't care! Take us back!"

    "If you fight for me, I'll take you back tomorrow."

    "Mightyena, just stop. I want to know what's going on, okay? Can you just calm down for a bit?"

    Mightyena stands with chest heaving, unmoved as Raticate scrabbles and strains to push her aside. "I'm going to be with my trainer," she says, "and there's nothing you can do to stop me."

    She pulls away from you before you realize what's going on, takes two bounding steps, and is gone when she hits a patch of shadow.

    "Oh, great!" Raticate screeches. "Just great! Yeah, just take off and leave the rest of us here! Thanks for nothing, you--"

    He jumps when you sit up, then flees as you turn to look at him, racing to cram himself under a boulder. He only makes it halfway before getting stuck, hind paws scrabbling uselessly against the ground.

    You give the rat's quivering rear end a look of disgust. The great Nathaniel Morgan's team is useless, the lot of them. The only one who might have any sense is Graveler, and she hasn't exactly been cooperative. "And what about you?" you ask her. "Are you willing to fight?"

    The rock-type doesn't answer, and you can't conceal a bitter smile. Yeah, just what you thought. You get to your feet, wondering where to go from here, only for Mightyena to burst back into reality. "There's someone out there," she says, staring at the shadow she just came through.

    A couple seconds later Absol steps out of darkness, sparing Mightyena only the briefest glance before sauntering towards you. You let out a relieved breath. "Absol! Could you help me out? Could you tell these guys about me and Mew and Mewtwo? They won't listen to me."

    Absol sweeps a cool gaze over the great Nathaniel Morgan's team. "These are that human's pokémon? The ones you said you were going to battle with?"

    "Are you with that thing?" Mightyena rumbles. "Is it your trainer?"

    "I have no trainer, but I know this one, yes. I apologize if it's caused you any--"

    "It's too late for apologies!" Mightyena roars. "Enough words! My trainer is dying, and somebody's going to answer for it."

    "He's probably not dying!" you say when Absol gives you an exasperated look.

    "I don't know anything about that," Absol tells Mightyena. "Perhaps if you told me what happened, I could--"

    Mightyena cuts her off with a snarl, taking a deliberate step forward with her mane all bristled up. "Come on, Mightyena, can't you listen to what she has to say?" Raticate says. "I seriously just want to find out what's going--oh, come on!"

    His teammate's leap ends in a skid as Absol vanishes into shadow. Mightyena dives after her, and Absol pops back into reality a second later, only to disappear again as Mightyena comes charging after. They flash in and out of darkness, weaving between realities in a blur of black and white.

    The battle plays out in strobing flickers. There Absol rakes a paw across Mightyena's shoulder; there she turns aside a blow with her blade; there she stabs it in deep, twisting her head to try and pull Mightyena off her feet. You smirk. Absol's better at shadow-walking than Mightyena; the great Nathaniel Morgan's pokémon is already bleeding, but Absol doesn't have a scratch.

    Mightyena keeps coming, though, and as Absol reaches with her claws, she leaps forward in a blur of dark energy. Absol stumbles, but when Mightyena lunges forward for another attack, she recovers her footing and slams into her opponent with a sucker punch of her own. The battle becomes nothing more than a whirl of dark energy as the two bounce back and forth across the arena, trading sucker punch for sucker punch so fast you can't keep track.

    Finally Mightyena gets in a lucky hit and knocks Absol over, then pounces on her in a burst of pink light, growling and biting. A fairy attack? And then Absol's pinned, her thick ruff the only thing keeping Mightyena's teeth from her throat. Absol kicks and scratches at Mightyena's stomach, but she can't get her head around to use her blade.

    Mightyena's teeth glow white as she seizes one of Absol's legs and bites down. Bone snaps, a sharp, brittle noise that rings out like a gunshot in the open air of the plateau. You take an involuntary step forward, breath backed up in your throat. Super fang. You forgot, she used that on you earlier, but how does she even know it, anyway? Absol would never forgive you for interfering in one of her battles, but an attack like that, you don't have any way to recall her--

    Absol doesn't make a sound. Instead Mightyena howls, letting go of Absol's leg as a blast of electricity rushes through her. Sparks dance around Absol's scythe, and she fires another thunderbolt straight into Mightyena's chest. Absol rises while Mightyena stumbles away, twitching and growling. Absol's broken leg drags awkwardly at her side, but the look she gives Mightyena is as unruffled as ever. Mightyena barks an angry exclamation and disappears.

    A cold breeze teases Absol's sweat-matted coat, and you shiver, crossing your arms over your chest. Your friend stands serene, even as Mightyena reappears, even as she slams into Absol with a double-edge, pawing at Absol's injured leg. The wind rises higher, pelting Mightyena with ice and snow, and she's forced to duck away, closing her eyes as her fur grows heavy with ice. She becomes nothing more than a black smudge, and Absol disappears completely against the background of sleeting snow and ice. You shield your face with your arm, ice crystals beading on your sleeve even this far from the center of the attack.

    An eerie moaning carries on the breeze, and you can't tell if it's the sighing of the wind itself or Absol's voice, lofted and hollowed out by the gale. The earth trembles under your feet, and the blizzard thins. You rub frost off your face and squint at the battlefield. Absol stands exactly as she was when the attack started. Snow lies deep on the ground around her, and Mightyena's nowhere to be seen. Another tremor ripples through the earth, and cracks appear in the wind-brushed surface of the snow, little cascades of powder sliding down the flanks of submerged boulders.

    A mound of snow grows a nose and a tail as Mightyena shakes herself free, sloughing hunks of wet powder as she charges at Absol. But the ground slips from under her feet, and she falls hard, rises and falls again. The earth shivers and cracks under her paws, and Mightyena drags herself forward, struggling away from a fissure jagging across the rocks. You almost feel sorry for her. Absol's scary when she's mad.

    Mightyena gets up at last, legs shaking as an aftershock shivers past. Then she turns and meets Absol's impassive stare, opens her mouth wide, and gives a huge, jaw-cracking yawn.

    Absol's eyes narrow, but then she yawns herself, showing a rare flash of slender teeth. She lets out a miffed snort, then tosses her head back, sparks fizzing around her blade. You lose sight of the battle in a flash of light and a peal of thunder so loud it strikes you like a physical blow, nearly knocking you off your feet. You strain to see around floating gray-purple afterimages, your ears ringing.

    Absol rests with her head between outstretched paws, one of them twisted and splayed at a painful angle. Mightyena lies in a smoking heap, snowmelt hissing and bubbling around her. In the background you spy Raticate peeking out from behind an ice-encrusted Graveler, but movement on the battlefield draws your attention away. Mightyena twitches, then rolls onto her stomach in a series of halting lurches. She sees Absol slumbering and growls deep in her throat, digging in her claws and heaving herself to her feet.

    "That's enough," you say. Mightyena takes a step towards Absol, head low and jaws hanging open. "Enough!"

    She throws a furious glance your way, and cold dread grips you as you realize what she's about to do. You start forward, but Mightyena's much closer. She ducks low and slams her shoulder into Absol, fairy energy dancing in the air around her. The attack rolls Absol onto her back, exposing her injured leg to Mightyena's teeth. Absol's eyes fly open as Mightyena bites down, but only for a moment. She sags in the grip of unconsciousness, and Mightyena lets her go, backing away as you come running up.

    "What was that?" you demand as you kneel next to Absol. "I told you to stop!" You have revives in your bag, and full restores, too, but Absol's going to need to go to the Pokémon Center for that leg.

    "You didn't have to do that," you say, and the words come out almost tearful as you run your hand down Absol's side. "She was out the moment she fell asleep. You didn't have to be so serious." She lost. Absol lost.

    "You don't think this is serious?" Mightyena says. She's tense, ears forward and ready to spring. "Your absol friend is down. Looks like there's no one left to defend you.

    "Mightyena! Mightyena, come on! This isn't helping," Raticate yells.

    "You're going to try this again?" you ask, reaching for Mightyena's pokéball. "Didn't you learn your lesson last time?"

    "What, when you recalled us all instead of standing and fighting? You might talk like a pokémon, but you're as cowardly as a human."

    "I'm not a coward! I won, fair and square. If you didn't let me get near your pokéballs, I never could have recalled you."

    "I dunno. Sounds to me like someone's scared. That right, Raticate?"

    "I don't think this is a good idea, Mightyena. I don't, I don't think you should do this," Raticate stammers, tugging on one of his ears as he stares at you, eyes wide.

    "I'm not scared!" You do want to fight her, you do, but using the pokéball is the smartest option. There's nothing cowardly about avoiding a dangerous battle.

    But you could take her, couldn't you? You could take all three of them if you had to. She hurt Absol, she hurt her way worse than she had to, and you can't let her get away with that. She's just a vicious Rocket pokémon, anyway. Violence is the only thing she understands, just like her trainer.

    "Oh, you're scared all right. Scared you'll lose."

    "I won't lose!" She can't call you a coward. She can't say you're weak. You're strong. And you want to. You want to... fight... You want to...

    "Not that I blame you. Just give up the trainer act already. Back down now, and you won't get hurt."

    "Why don't you just--you just--" Why is your hand down by your side? You bring it up to a ready position, clenching it into a fist as blue light gathers around your fingers. "Why don't you just shut up and fight?"

    You hurl an aura sphere at Mightyena. She leaps aside, but the attack kinks to the left and hits her anyway. Mightyena falls with a yelp, and you storm towards her, blue energy swirling in your palm.

    The dark-type strains to push herself up but falls back, cringing and curling into a pained arc. For the first time you see real fear in her eyes, her ears pinned back against her skull. She tries to pull herself away, sliding across the ground in painful lurches, but in a second you're standing over her, holding the aura sphere so close to her that its light dapples her coat with brilliant blue highlights. It bursts into a confused scatter of droplets as a whirl of teeth and claws slams into your midriff, clinging to your chest.

    "Idiot," Raticate gasps as he scrambles around to your back, dodging your hands. "Taunt the crazy monster thing even though you can barely stand up, that's a great idea, that's exactly what we need after everything--"

    He cuts off with a grunt as you grab one of his legs, hauling him out in front of you while he struggles and squirms. You shake him until he goes limp, but as you start gathering energy for another aura sphere, he springs to life and smacks you across the face with his tail. Pure shock makes you drop him.

    There's a moment of disconnect. One second you're leaning forward, fingers morphing into claws that reach for Raticate, and the next you're lying on your back contemplating the thick-piled clouds overhead. Somehow you get the feeling you should be hurting a lot, but right now, lying here watching the sky, you're at peace.

    Your view is eclisped by two huge, gleaming teeth. Raticate's whiskers tickle across your face for a second, and then he bites down on your upper arm. You roar and roll over, trying to catch him underneath you, but he jumps away, then jumps again when you lash out with your hand, your claws digging furrows in the rock where he was standing. You growl and push yourself to all fours.

    At least this time you catch sight of the hunk of rock before it slams into your shoulder. Then you're on the ground again, fuming. So Graveler's getting in on the fight, too? Fine. Wonderful. You'll show all of them. They're all going to pay for thinking they could beat you.

    Raticate's on you again in a moment, clawing and biting and leaping away when you round on him. You make it up to a crouch, and this time you're ready for the boulder that comes sailing at your head. You swat it away, only to yell as Raticate sinks his teeth into your side. He's gone before you can even turn to strike him.

    He's too fast. It's annoying.

    He jumps at you again, but this time you catch him with a slashing vacuum wave and knock him away. You're expecting the rock throw, and another burst of fighting energy shatters it before it hits home. You catch Raticate mid-leap and hurl him away--but of course your follow-up's interrupted by another boulder.

    It's irritating. Your shirt's soaked through with blood from at least a dozen gashes, and you imagine bruises blossoming all over your body courtesy Graveler's rocks. You don't want to stop and heal--you want to hurt--but it's a nuisance. It's a real, real nuisance. You bare your teeth and lash out with a thunderbolt that nearly, nearly hits Raticate, and as you swing around to throw another one his way, a rock catches you square between the shoulder blades.

    And that's it. Raticate's already bounding towards you, but he stops and stares as you draw on ancient anger, older than this battle, older than the Plateau itself but still burning strong. Blue-green flames sheet across your body, puddling around your feet. You can't see anything but the fire flickering in the edges of your vision and the outline of your enemies, the glow of their life energy calling to you even through your wrath.

    "Oh crap," Raticate gasps. He turns and runs, and you follow, your footsteps cracking stone and dragonfire glittering in the air around you. "Oh crap, oh crap. Mightyena! This is all your fault!"

    You smash aside another boulder and tackle Raticate to the ground, sinking claws deep to hold him. He twists and bites and waves his tail in your face, but in your anger you hardly notice. You sink your teeth into the side of his neck, and a rush of warm blood fills your mouth as Raticate's struggles grow more sluggish. This time when he stops moving, he isn't faking.

    You roar triumph, a sound that shakes your whole body as ancient voices rise to join your own. You start to get back to your feet, only to be pulled back down by something heavy attached to your wrist. Only then do you realize that Graveler's got ahold of you, trying to pull you away from her teammate.

    You lash out at her, your claws digging furrows through her rocky scales and the unworldly heat of the dragonfire buffeting her face. Graveler grumbles like a landslide, but she holds fast. You hit her again and again, bludgeoning away with blind fury, but your outrage is ebbing. It leaves you with nothing but your own anger, that voice that urges you on just below the level of conscious thought, telling you to attack, attack, attack.

    You try to obey, but you're tired now, too tired. Your attacks start to go wide, and Graveler grabs your other arm as the last of your flames gutter and die. You struggle as hard as you can, but she's got muscles of granite, not to mention a spare pair of arms. Her first punch knocks the breath from your body, the second feels like it cracks a rib, and they just keep coming, one strike after another in a patient, steady rhythm.

    Mightyena's there. You didn't notice her get up, didn't notice her come over, but now she's standing right in front of you. She's dripping wet, her back arched as she favors some unseen injury, but her eyes are alive with anger. "This is for Nate," she growls. "No one hurts my trainer, do you understand me? No one, not even some little legendary wannabe like you."

    Her words drift around in your head not connected to anything. The only thing you understand anymore are Graveler's punches, blows that shake your whole body and rattle the useless thoughts around in your skull. You strain towards Mightyena and try to hiss, but your mouth is full of the tang of fresh blood, and you bubble instead. All you know is you have to fight her, you have to hurt her.

    She keeps on talking like there's some kind of point. "If you ever touch Nate again, we'll finish you. I'll finish you. And when this whole tournament thing is over and we have Steelix back, you'd better run. Because the only reason I'm not killing you now is because we might need you, maybe, for that. And that's only if Nate agrees to your stupid plan when he wakes up. So we'll fight for you, yes, for a little while, but don't you ever forget who's really in charge. We're not your friends. We're not your pokémon. We fight for Nate, the real one, always."

    You would say something back, maybe something about how she should shut up and let you punch her, but all you can make is some kind of spit-gargling sound in the back of your throat. Mightyena seizes your shoulder, her teeth grating over your collarbone and lodging deep in straining muscle. It's hot and pain and then cold, cold as darkness spreads from Mightyena's teeth, seeps through your veins, fills up your vision and your mind until it swallows all and you are no more.
     
  4. elyvorg

    elyvorg somewhat backwards.

    Finally getting around to giving this story a review like I've meant to for ages! I... can't promise I will manage to make this a chapterly thing, but we'll see.

    Mightyena is the most adorable. As you may have picked up from the fact that it ended up as a major theme of both my contest entries when it didn't really need to be, I have quite a thing for Pokémon that are incredibly devoted to their trainers, and Nate's Pokémon tick that box wonderfully, Mightyena especially so. I particularly loved this:
    ...at which it hit me that "the great Nathaniel Morgan" would genuinely live up to that name in his Pokémon's eyes. That has a lot of impact after all this time of the child moaning about how pathetic and irritating he is and the other Rockets giving him that title in jest. Not that I hadn't noticed that Nate is actually something approximating a decent person beneath it all, but it does feel good to finally have some characters who are aware of this.

    I'm also quite fond of Raticate. I get the feeling that if their respective trainers didn't hate each other, he'd get along well with Rats. (Rats is great. I hope there will be more of her.) His desire to just understand what the heck's going on first was a realistic reaction to the situation, while still clearly done with the intention of then being able to figure out how best to help his trainer. ...Which then makes Mightyena all the more adorable for being so upset at seeing the state her trainer was in that she just did not care about the details. Graveler is still hard to get a read on, but I'm sure she's just as worried about Nate as the others beneath her stoic exterior.

    I like how clear is is from the fights that Nate is a skilled trainer even though he's not even here - his Pokémon know all sorts of useful moves that they don't learn naturally and can fight pretty creatively, which you'd expect the average Pokémon to need their trainer's commands in order to be able to do. The fact that one of his Pokémon is a Raticate also gives greater meaning in hindsight to how he managed to beat Rats so well using Titan in that one battle way back when, giving the sense that he's very aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the Pokémon species he trains.

    So I've only just realised that Mewtwo doesn't actually have Nate's Steelix. See, the writing when the child claimed this to Nate didn't read to me as though it was lying - I just assumed it was only just now realising what had happened to Steelix, having not needed to consider the whereabouts of Nate's pokeballs until then. But then I was rereading the chapter with Steelix in because yay Nate's Pokémon, and it seems like the child teleported away with Nate while Steelix was still very much outside his pokeball. Then I looked back a bit further, and oh hey, Mewtwo took the child's pokeball belt a chapter before Steelix came into the picture anyway. I'd forgotten those details and so I just believed the child's claim about Steelix's whereabouts, but apparently it's either mistaken itself, or it was lying and I didn't catch onto that. Hm.

    (This means Steelix is possibly still outside his pokeball and desperately trying to find Nate? That could potentially be adorable somewhere down the line. Also Nate and the rest of his Pokémon are going to be livid when they find out this whole business of getting near Mewtwo for a chance of getting Steelix back was a waste of their time.)

    ...so this review maaay have been entirely about Nate's Pokémon. What do you mean the protagonist of the story is somebody else? I do enjoy the protagonist, though, with all of its fun denial and childishness and trying to insist that it's way more in control of the situation than it actually is and nothing is ever its fault. That's one of the things that's kept this story the most fun to read so far (in between Nate repeatedly getting horribly beaten up, at least).
     
  5. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    Restoring? Well, that's a very different word from "rescuing". Maybe you could use it to just mean retrieving Mew from Team Rocket, and presumably that's how the child understands it, but this word choice feels pretty significant to me. Then again I'm biased because it fits very nicely with my theory that Mew is effectively part of the child now - if only Mewtwo can "restore" Mew, it presumably involves somehow extracting the Mew part from it (or just killing off the non-Mew part while leaving Mew intact).

    Of course it is. I'm sure he did it just to annoy you, too.

    Yeah, I mean, how obnoxious.

    If he doesn't have obvious visible open wounds anymore, then there can't possibly be anything wrong with him! Haven't you ever watched a movie, silly doctor??

    Now picturing an unusually aggressive Xatu.

    I like the doctor's dialogue in general, but I particularly like how he seems to chalk the child's weird, defensive behaviour up to distress and responds with this subtle, professional concern. I can just imagine how he's probably seen all sorts of reactions from people with loved ones in danger and ultimately this just looks like one of them.

    Awww. D:

    Ha, that was a nice, unexpected moment of unsettlingness.

    WHY SO ADORABLE NATE'S POKÉMON

    Missing closing quote.

    Nice Taunt there, Mightyena.

    Should that be "courtesy of", or am I just confused?

    Nate's Pokémooooon.

    The battles felt a little long to me one after another like that, but then again I read the second half of this chapter in bed at four AM when I really needed to go to sleep, so I may just not have been in the best state to appreciate them. Seeing Absol battle was still neat, especially when she started using all those disaster-ish moves, and your battle descriptions were excellent as always. Also, Mightyena's sense of strategy was fun to see - presumably she gets it from Nate.

    I really love the contrast in these chapters between how the child and Nate's Pokémon behave and see things. The child's strange, unempathetic black-and-white worldview always tickles me, but it's always at its most fun when the characters around it are being painfully real, relatable and genuine. Seeing Nate's Pokémon's devoted love for him in between the child's "Ugh, he's dying, how typical of the great Nathaniel Morgan" only makes it more heartbreaking.


    Also, I was rereading chapter 11 (formerly 13) and found some typos and mistakes:

    "It catches the it"

    Presumably that should be "and those not"?

    Only one line break.

    "the its"

    Also, now I'm wondering if the Absol belonging to the man who (presumably) shot Sara is the same Absol who is now with the child. There's not really much indication that that's the case (except perhaps Absol knowing about Sara's promise, which wasn't exactly stated out loud either way), but it strikes me as sort of unusual to use the same Pokémon species here without having a reason for it; as far as I can tell you could easily have used another Dark-type but didn't, which makes it sort of suspicious.

    Either way, wow, that chapter is just as riveting as the first time I read it. The buildup of it is perfect, from Sara's childish wonder to Mew's fascinating alienness to that looming, steadily growing sense of dread and horror, and you do a great job making us care on an emotional level about effectively new characters in a short time. I'm tempted to say it's still your best, much as I adore the more Natey chapters.
     
  6. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner Peace to the Mountain

    I found that endearing as frell. Probably because I was instantly reminded of one of my cats.

    This is just such a delightfully immature (and thus very in-character) way for the child to react to that news and it amuses the heck out of me.

    Pffff yeah, brothers refer to each other as "the great" all the time. I love this character to pieces.

    I love that its response is essentially to blurt out "NOTHING!" Yes, child, yes you do know something about it. The cookie jar is in pieces at your feet and your face is covered in crumbs and smeared chocolate. I love this. XD

    What a precious dork.

    RATICATE IS RATIGREAT

    Oh ow ow ow. ****. Even I felt that one.
     
  7. Spiteful Murkrow

    Spiteful Murkrow Early Game Encounter

    Taking an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, namely starting up this fic after hearing so much about it, and giving the Review Game a good old-fashioned kick in the pants.

    Well that's certainly an unsettling opening, and certainly an off-beat tack from how I've seen Absol depicted before. I do have to wonder just how on earth Fate conspired to make this kid run into someone who ripped him off in the past at such a time, though.

    Scratch that, that's no kid. Though I was kinda getting suspicious when the "I died once" came up.

    Brr... sends a chill down my spine even though it's mid-summer out here, but I take it that that was the idea for the opening. All in all, while it seemed more like a Prologue in my book, but I think that you did a great job at both providing a reader hook and setting some initial atmosphere for your story in not too many words.

    So that leaves like... 20 chapters left to get through, hm? I'll leave more impressions as I get further along, but color me interested in where you're going with this tale.
     
  8. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Back from a little vacation with some replies! The next chapter's going well. I'll be posting an extra by the end of the week, and Chapter 21 will follow soon thereafter.

    elyvorg

    Hey, great to see you! No worries about review frequency; I'm just happy you had the time to comment here, even if this ends up being the only time that happens.

    Oh nooooo you figured out the name thing.

    Yes, the fun thing about Nate's "nickname" (for me) is that while for most people it's a sarcastic, derogatory name, but there are some characters who could say it and mean it 100% literally, who wouldn't even realize that it could be an insult. I had kinda intended for this to become apparent at a later and more thematically-relevant time, but hey, give yourself some credit for being way ahead of the curve on that one. :p

    FWIW "the child" will also take on a different meaning by the end of the story, albeit not in quite the same way. That's why I usually refer to it as "the protagonist" instead, although sometimes I get lazy because it's a lot to type.

    Heh, well, I did want to show that Nate's pokémon work well together, although after I shuffled things around Mightyena actually sat most of it out, so it wasn't played up as much. I find it funny that both you and Dragonfree remarked on the creativity/strategy of Nate's pokémon's battling, because I didn't really think there was a ton going on myself. It's not a bad thing, but it was unexpected!

    :D I love that you caught that. Perhaps you'll get the callback in the next chapter, too.

    ...Ah. Yeah, I was kind of worried about that, especially since nobody mentioned it after the last chapter. I thought the lie was an especially dick move, even for our lovely POV character, given how much Steelix obviously means to Nate and the fact that participating in the tournament actively reduces Nate's chances of ever seeing him again. But then it's always surprising what things people comment/don't comment on, and I was hoping people would remember past events well enough that they'd realize the protactonist couldn't be telling the truth. It's definitely pants-on-fire lying about Mewtwo having Steelix; it has absolutely no idea where he might be right now, and as far as it knows, Mewtwo doesn't, either.

    It's a bit tricky, since the lie wasn't premeditated; it just kind of popped into the protagonist's head. I tried to suggest that it was fabricating things with the line about "seeing how the story falls into place," and I didn't want to go so far as to actually refer to it as a lie because the protagonist honestly thinks nothing of it, in the same way that it readily tells the doctor it has no idea how Nate got all mangled. There's not a lot of introspection going on, there.

    However, it definitely is important for readers to realize that the protagonist is lying, and aware of doing so, because otherwise some of what it does during this arc is going to look pretty weird. I'll see if I can think of some way of making it more obvious. Thanks a lot for mentioning you didn't realize what was up.

    Possibly!

    I think "nuclear" is how I'd describe their reaction if they were to find out. :p

    Nah, it's cool. If you find Nate's pokémon more interesting than the protagonist, I think that's totally fine, and I enjoyed reading your thoughts about them earlier. It's reassuring to hear that you are at least entertained by the protagonist, though, since at times it does have to carry the story without much help from other characters.

    All in all it looks like you're way too good at figuring out what's up in this story. :p Hope you continue to enjoy it, and thanks for reviewing!

    Dragonfree

    Absol is very careful about word choice. The protagonist... less so. :p

    He is SO inconsiderate.

    Oops, well. The "he" in that sentence actually referred to Tony, since he was the one who showed up looking like he'd just casually strolled out of an inferno. The protagonist wasn't able to make a clean getaway from the hospital because the doctors kept insisting Tony was just in shock and they needed to do some tests because seriously, were you on fire recently by any chance?

    I had a lot of trouble with the doctor's dialogue, since I've never had to speak with one about anything serious (knock on wood), so I really have no idea how someone would try to e.g. break the news that their close relative might die. I'm glad you thought it came out well!

    tbh I intended for the doctor to be a bit hostile towards the protagonist, though. He definitely finds its behavior a little odd, and more in an "I'm covering up my involvement in this" way than an "I'm really distraught and not thinking clearly" way. His wish for Nate to make a full recovery is really more of a threat than anything. I did change the approach I took to this scene quite a bit during revision, though, so the hostility there ended up getting downplayed a lot.

    Another thing that I don't think worked out as well as I'd hoped is getting across how uneasy the protagonist is the whole time it's in there... that particular moment is the only time it's actually apparent, I think, so I'm glad you found it effective.

    I actually took that line out at one point because it struck me as just too smarmy. Then I put it back in because I decided it was entirely in-character smarm. :p

    how does this happen

    "Courtesy of" is the more common form, but the "of" is optional.

    Eh, I agree. I was trying to figure out a way to cut the battle, or even everything after Absol's scene, up until very late in the editing process. The main issue is that it would have messed up the scene progression in later chapters, and also I didn't see how I could jump straight from Nate's pokémon being being unwilling to go along with the protagonist to battling for it as they do in the next chapter. In the end I decided I needed to stop fussing and just go ahead with it, and I could always come back and move things around later if it was still bothering me. (As you may have guessed from some of my earlier comments, my satisfaction quotient with this chapter isn't high. =/)

    It doesn't help that the next chapter opens with another substantial battle scene, which means they'll be back to back for anybody reading straight through. I think you'll enjoy the second half of that chapter, though. :3

    I'm glad you picked up on the little disaster theme to Absol's attacks (which incidentally is why absol should totally be able to use earthquake; hire me, Game Freak). I find it kind of funny that both you and elyvorg commented on the strategy Nate's pokémon used, when I wasn't really intending to show anything of the sort. I'm glad you found stuff to like in the battles, even if they dragged a bit; I do think I managed to rework them into something quite a bit better than what they were originally.

    Glad you liked it! (The pokémon in particular, given your earlier comments.) "Painfully real, relatable and genuine" is some seriously high praise!

    Let's be real, though, up and dying at a critical momemnt is typical Nate behavior. Goddammit, Nate.

    Thanks for the typos in Chapter 11! I might go back and freshen it up a little, since I was actually planning to cut a scene from it anyway.

    It's definitely the same absol. Of that, more later. (And yes, the guy did shoot her.)

    Thanks! I'm still amazed at how well that chapter turned out after how difficult it was to write. I personally think it's the best so far, and tbh I'm a bit worried that it will end up being the best in the story overall. I peaked too soon! Since it's basically a novella within a longer novel, the narrative arc is much more condensed, and I think that makes everything come across more intense than it will in the larger 'fic. The overall story's buildup is much more spread out and incremental, and I don't think even the climactic chapters are going to pack in quite as much stuff as 11 did. There are certainly scenes or moments that I'm hoping will outshine anything in Chapter 11, but we'll see! Maybe a later chapter will end up surprising me. At least if you enjoy Natey stuff I think you'll find the current arc a lot of fun.

    Sike Saner

    I seem to use a lot of cat body language for absol, but it's not intentional.

    Glad you're enjoying it! I worry that the protagonist's immaturity grates on people after a while, so it's nice to know that's not the case with you.

    Yes, exactly! All it really needs is a bit of suspiciously specific denial to round out the image of the guilty kid caught red-handed.

    Raticate is such a loser, I love it.

    Eeeexcellent. >:D

    Spiteful Murkrow

    Hey, welcome! It's always nice to see a new face around the old 'fic thread (and somebody else making use of the Review Game, too!).

    Heh, I guess that depends on your definition of "kid."

    More or less, although people seem to find it more creepy than perhaps I intended. The story gets a little horror-ish here and there, but it's not what I'd call scary. A lot of people comment on the fact that the first chapter reads like a prologue, too. I agree, although I'm not exactly sure... why.

    Only nineteen, if you read them fast! :p I'm pleased you enjoyed the first chapter enough to want to continue; hope you enjoy the rest!
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2018
  9. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    Ugh, sorry I took so long to get back to reviewing this. I've been quite busy, and now that I have some free time, I'll finally get back to it. Review systems go!

    I'm not quite sure if she's the loser here, especially with how difficult it can be to get an idea across to the child if he doesn't agree with it ;P

    But everyone knows that he WILL give you more grief, and that you won't change your mind about killing him.

    Iiii feel like having broken bones and vomiting sporadically would tip you off that he had more than "just a cough."
    I love that transition, by the way ^_^ It made my morning!

    Ah, typical child.
    This whole scene was great. It really shows how the child doesn't think things through--and he should probably learn at some point that being overly-defensive will only raise the doctor's suspicions rather than make him seem innocent.

    Awww, poor Mightyena :(

    For some reason, I at first read "fires" as "fries" and immediately got the image of a bunch of people tailgating in my mind XD

    As much as I pity the poor Raticate, this is pretty funny to picture.

    Dang, this quote really makes Mightyena sound threatening imo. I really admire her loyalty to Nate and how she keeps fighting even when she really should have stopped.

    I like this chapter, if only because we get to see even more of the great Nathaniel Morgan's Pokemon. His Mightyena is awesome, and I thought that the battle between her and Absol was especially well-written. And, maybe this is bad, but seeing Mightyena win after she was using more simply moves like just hitting and biting versus Absol using disaster-themed moves that were really flashy was pretty gratifying. And when you add on that Mightyena was fighting out of devotion to a trainer and having much more personal reasons than Absol, I was pretty happy that she won.

    I don't have much else to say about this, except that I think I can now pick out who my favorite character is :D Good job!
     
  10. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    Ah, not having pokemon it trusts bodes well for winning a league championship. :p

    Heh. I missed Absol's interactions with the child.

    I get what you're saying, but it's kind of awkward wording to me.

    I really, really love the dialogue of the child in this scene. Just thought you should know. :p

    Because he chose to be like that, right? :p

    The child is not good at being interrogated. Not at all.

    Isn't that the cutest image ever. :p

    Really liked this bit here. Love the harsh dialogue. Does that make me an evil person? Oh well.

    Pretty sure I didn't blink during that entire battle because I wanted to read through it fast and figure out who would win in the end. I've always liked that the child isn't overpowered, and that its flaws aren't limited to personality flaws. Very nice chapters, as always.
     
  11. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Well, I got a bit distracted shortly after my last post, and then I took a small vacation, with the result that the next chapter still isn't ready. Editing is underway again, though, and it truly shouldn't be long. At this point, I don't think there will be an extra before the next chapter--the time spent preparing the extra would just take away from writing on the main 'fic. That means there'll be an extra after the next chapter. And then I need to start thinking about what I should do for the story's next birthday already, good grief...

    In the meantime, replies!

    starliteevee

    Hey, great to see you back!

    Yeah, pretty much. The only winning move is not to play!

    He does seem to have accumulated a fair amount of plot armor, yes. :p

    Well, he was only actually throwing up back when he had to make that sea voyage on War, and the healing should have taken care of most of the broken bones and actual injuries. As far as the child could tell, he really did have just a cough.

    Glad you enjoyed the transition! I considered altering it a couple times, since it made the end of the first scene a little awkward, but I liked it too much to get rid of it. It's good to hear someone else appreciated it.

    Definitely! Although I probably didn't follow through with that to the extent that I could have here.

    Heh, well, that's pretty much what they're doing anything, except over a longer period of time. Camping out and tailgating. Good times.

    Heh, thanks. I enjoyed that little bit.

    Yeah, I had a feeling this part would be up your alley. Hope you enjoy the rest of this arc, too; it definitely has plenty of Mightyena. And I'm glad you liked the battle at the end, too.

    Thanks for reviewing! The next few chapters should give you a nice respite from the dark stuff that made up the last handful, and I hope you enjoy those, too.

    diamondpearl876

    Nah, it's a good plan. A great plan! What could go wrong?

    Great! She'll be around more in this arc, so you can expect a lot more where that came from.

    Yeah, I see what you mean. I'll see if I can think of anything that would work better there.

    Thanks, glad you liked it. This is undoubtedly the most important scene in the entire chapter, so it's nice to hear you enjoyed it even though it isn't as flashy/funny as the others.

    I'm sure it would disagree vehemently if you asked!

    I like Nurse Bayleef, too. XD

    Haha, nah. At least for me it can be a lot of fun writing the protagonist doing totally nasty things that I would never do myself. That particular line was just so childishly vindictive and nonsensical I couldn't resist.

    Glad you enjoyed the battle that much! And yeah, the child actually turned out to be a lot easier to "balance" in the story than I was expecting, given that it really is very strong relative to all the other characters. The primary problem is actually getting it to stick around and fight even when it knows that it ought to run; teleport can get it out of so many sticky situations that I often have to spend a lot of time coming up with a reasonable way to disable it.

    Thanks for the review! And good lord, I hadn't realized how far behind I've fallen on reviewing love and other nightmares. I'm almost done re-reading it, so hopefully I'll have something for you before too long.
     
  12. Spiteful Murkrow

    Spiteful Murkrow Early Game Encounter

    Whelp, it took me a lot longer than I hoped to actually collect my thoughts, but here's that review for Chapters 2-4 I said I'd do.

    Pretty sure that's a 'negative', kid. I notice from your date of posting that this chapter came a little after B2W2's launch stateside, was Titan's whole "getting stolen and effectively forgetting his trainer before his current one" influenced by the minor plot point with Hugh? Or was that more a coincidence of planning?

    I'll admit, I found the Child having some attributes of a Pokémon to be a little strange at first, but I suppose I should have expected it from the way he was introduced in the first chapter. Can he also pull off shapeshifting to pass as some bipedal Pokémon? Or is his feat limited to humans?

    That part made me :<face. Though I have to wonder who is this "her" that Titan refers to, and is she someone Nick knew, or has he finally remembered something from his old times with the Child?

    Depending on how just how many dead people are in the system, wouldn't a hash map be preferred for those records? Faster lookup performance and all. :p

    Also, I think I have an idea of how the missus stopped being a part of his life, especially if he's as driven to find the Child as the narration lets on.

    What do those sneakers look like anyways? Because with a name as awesome-sounding as "Transformozord", I'm now curious.

    Well gee, between the killer genetically engineered lifeforms, rioting, and volcanic destruction, I wonder why the residents haven't come back... :?

    One of life's mysteries, clearly.

    Wait, so what happens when the Pokédex's casing or design gets a refresh? Do the terminals have to get updated too? Too many hackers and script kiddies out there to bother with a kill switch in the 'dex firmware releases? Or the public tolerance for such blatantly evil software design just isn't there?

    Well that's one way to circumvent a security measure. And to induce a few dozen cases of insomnia.

    Well that's ever so slightly unsettling. Next you'll be telling me that the Child can make more children by biting other people.

    Probably not one of those warnings you'd want to shrug off, what with Absol able to forecast ill fortunes that lie in the future.

    So far, I've been pretty impressed with how the story's unfolding, the worldbuilding's engrossing, the style's gripping and easy to get into, and you seemed to gotten a decent range of scene tones in just 4 chapters in.

    Will be looking forward to seeing how the next 3 or so chapters play out.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2015
  13. Rediamond

    Rediamond Middle of nowhere

    So the last time I reviewed was shortly after The Great Nathaniel Morgan appeared, including the old chapters. I did not re-read any of that, but I did pick up where I left off last time (the Mewtwo saga, basically).

    The story does much better with its oddities and quirks now that it's clear where they come from. Before it was just weird and borderline impossible to follow. Now... now it's actually interesting and justifiable. I think that greatly improved things on that front.

    But, binge-reading the Mewtwo arc had a pretty notable problem. The Child trusts the great Nathaniel Morgan. The great Nathaniel Morgan betrays the child. The child seeks out the great Nathaniel Morgan or his Pokemon for some other task. This happens literally four or five times in the length of ten chapters. It's basically an every-other-chapter occurrence. And, while there are usually reasons its necessary and the child isn't exactly the pinnacle of intelligence, at some point it got old. Of course it's going to get betrayed. Just like every other time. Why does it even bother with this anymore? And, in a more meta sense... betrayal is only surprising, even from a really dumb first/second person narrator's perspective, if it's not expected. When betrayal is assumed the twists kind of lose their value. In short, I think it's an overused plot by this point.

    I'm unsure if I feel like "the child gets put in to his place" is overused by this point, either. Because there is a fine line between showing its power and just relying on an endless stream of The Worf Effect. In the last ten chapters, for instance, The Child has been beaten by Blue (in practice), a Team Rocket ambush, effectively beaten by Mewtwo twice (once human, once not), Sabrina, and (in a straight fight) the great Nathaniel Morgan's team twice. For a creature that's built up as being near Mewtwo's equal in power but held back by having no idea what the heck is really going on, it kind of at least needs power to work. When it gets beaten or checkmated just about every chapter at some point its threat level really went down in my mind. Now I can't think of a single valid reason it would need to be involved in the plot outside of unleashing more competent actors. But, at the same time, it's debatable that the child's "real" strength is only in its ego to begin with, making the continuous beatdowns as of late justifiable. So I'm not sure how I feel about it. But cutting back on the frequency for now might be good. We get it. Its not invincible.

    Now that I've unloaded my criticism, on to the things that I very much liked about the last arcs:

    1) The absol morality bit was very good. As was the Team Rocket part. Honestly I might enjoy your worldbuilding more than the actual story at this point. Which is actually hard since I like the story.
    2) The Mewtwo origin story. 99% of the time that Mewtwo comes up in a Kanto game-verse fic, it has the same origin story as the movie equivalent and more or less the same personality. You kind of defy that, playing with the original narrative in the games (Mew gets captured and gives live birth) and Mewtwo's dex description of kind of being blindly, mindlessly ruthless. The child's related origin story fits in nicely with it playing more of Mew's role as the carefree and innocent shapeshifter... but with all of Mewtwo's sociopathy attached.
    3) Brain shapeshifting. The concept is very seldom explored at all and I like how you play/have been playing with it. Nice work there.
    4) Pokemon characterization. I think it applies beyond the great Nathaniel Morgan's team, which others dote on a lot, but his are good for their screen time.

    Anyway I'm tired now so I'll go to sleep before I really start rambling.
     
  14. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Okay, well. I was far later with this than I'd hoped to be, but October turned out to be a completely crazy month, and I haven't gotten near what I'd hoped to done on either the writing or reviewing sides of things. The 'fic's birthday is coming up on November 1st, and I'm going to be doing my best to get some new content up for that. With any luck there will be a lot more going on with this story over the next couple weeks.

    I'm worried about this chapter needing to get split into two posts again, so I'll put replies in this separate post. Scroll down for the actual chapter!

    Spiteful Murkrow

    Totally a coincidence. I started writing this story long before I began posting it, and the basics of this particular chapter were determined sometime in 2008-2009.

    You'll get the answer to this in the next couple chapters.

    Aww, well, I'm glad this made you feel sad, I guess? It'll be a bit longer until we get the answers to those questions.

    I don't imagine they need to fool around with dead trainers' accounts often, so I don't think they'd be too concerned with lookup speed. But I'm not a database person, I'm just working off of vague osmosis of advice picked up from various blog posts and StackOverflow threads. :p

    Yeah, he might just have a tiny, sliiiightly unhealthy obsession going on...

    I imagine they'd look something like your typical Power Rangers sneaker:

    [imgsize=500]http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/716tkUNXk3L._UL1500_.jpg[/imgsize][imgsize=500]http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/7148NkhWkqL._UL1500_.jpg[/imgsize]

    I would imagine they light up (and maybe make noise, too? Why the heck not). Truly the pinnacle of fashion.

    (...and now my Amazon recommendations are going to be full of Power Rangers merch for the next two months.)

    Transformozords is basically a mash-up of a bunch of the cartoons I watched when I was a kid, with Power Rangers being the most prominent influence. You'll learn way more than you probably wanted to about this fictitious children's show by the time the story's over.

    I will admit the practical awkwardness of this setup are 100% down to me thinking of a scene where the protagonist goes nuts and destroys a computer terminal and deciding it was pretty cool.

    Thankfully, no. It's one of a kind.

    Thank you! I'm glad you've been enjoying it. I haven't gotten much feedback on the revisions I did for the early chapters, so it's comforting to hear that they're perhaps more engaging than the old versions. The next three chapters should be interesting, since there where most people think the story really starts to pick up. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

    Rediamond

    Hey, great to see you back. I hope the earlier chapters have been improved enough that you wouldn't find them nearly impossible to follow now, but I'm glad that you chose to read on past them even though you didn't like them much.

    It took me a little while to figure out what you meant by this, heh. From my perspective, the protagonist does not now and has never trusted Nate and always expected that he would try to screw it over in one way or another. What it's been consistently mis-evaluating isn't Nate's character, but rather its ability to deal with whatever revenge he tries to pull. "Yeah, I know he's going to try something to get out of this, but he's only human; I'm not going to have a problem stopping him." By the time Mewtwo's considering infiltrating the Rocket base, it actively tries to discourage him from trying to include Nate in his plan because it's pretty sure Nate will find some way to screw things up again. Nate ultimately doing something to screw the protagonist over isn't really intended as a twist; by now I would hope that people expect it, and the interest isn't in whether or not it happens, but rather how he manages it.

    Nevertheless, it is something I worried was getting too repetitive, although I think it's really only happened twice so far? The first being where the protagonist started dragging Nate around in the first place, and the second where it brought him to Mewtwo in more recent chapters. Obviously it's gearing up for a similarly ill-omened plan in the future. Perhaps that's the most frustrating aspect, because it really should have learned its lesson by now?

    Unfortunately I'm not really sure what I can do about it, necessarily, as those interactions provide much of the shape of the plot; I don't see an easy way to get rid of any of them. I also wonder whether it's less an issue of the repetition in the scenarios than it is something tied into your second point, namely that the protagonist is really not very bright and it's obvious to anyone with half a brain that what it proposes is not going to end well. This is probably at its worst in the current arc, which is where the protagonist goes with its most extravagant and clearly hole-riddled plan yet. I can see how it would be frustrating to see it repeating the same mistakes over and over again, but again, I'm not entirely sure what to do about it, since making that sort of bad decision over and over again is completely in keeping with the protagonist's character. It isn't holding the idiot ball; it actually is an idiot (or, you know, eight years old with some quirks that make it even less equipped to function independently than most eight year olds).

    I was going to say that at least you won't have to worry about that particular plot construction after this arc is over, but they I realized that would tooootally be a lie. After this one, though, I think circumstances will have changed enough that it will seem less repetitive? (Contrived?)

    Yeah, I was worried that the child's constant failures might start to grate. It certainly is powerful in terms of raw capability, but it doesn't have the skill to capitalize on that in any meaningful sense. Its estimation of its abilities are not reliably consistent with reality--as you said, its ego is probably its greatest power (it's not remotely as strong as Mewtwo, although to be fair not much is). While it certainly is important to the plot, it doesn't itself understand why, and it's definitely not because anyone in the know actually expects it to be a total badass who busts in and saves the day.

    Again, the issue is that I don't know exactly what to do about this. The protagonist would be reasonably successful if it were a more reasonable person and set more realistic goals; if it were interested in accomplishing normal eight-year-old sorts of things, it would probably come out looking pretty good. What it wants to do, though, is something that would be difficult even for a competent adult. One of the central questions driving this story is "what would actually happen if you gave children ridiculous powers and set them loose on the world?" (Mewtwo being a child as well), and the only answer I've been able to come up with is "nothing good." I am trying to come up with some situations in which the protagonist can have a a better showing (it is pretty darned good at punching things, at least), but by necessity a lot of the larger, more plot-related endeavors are going to involve a lot of failure. I don't know how it could realistically be otherwise, really.

    So it's sort of a question of whether this is just the kind of story in which the protagonist is rarely going to be successful, deal w/it, or whether the root issue isn't actually the lack of success but rather how it's portrayed in the story. It can be very frustrating to make characters continually make bad decisions, but it's also the root of tragedy, which is what this story is. So how do you go from a situation where the reader is just exasperated with a character, like "omg you moron why do you keep doing this to yourself," to one where that exasperation is at least tempered with a sense of "I feel so bad for you, I wish you could get a clue and stop screwing your life up for once?" I'm wondering whether I should try to make it more apparent how much the protagonist has invested in its overinflated self-image. It really needs to believe it's awesome and powerful and going to be a hero who solves everything because the alternative is terrifying. It can't allow itself to acknowledge anything that contradicts that narrative, like the fairly blatant evidence that it actually kind of sucks at battling, because it's pretty much clinging to it as a means of understanding what's happened to it (and continues to happen to it). Objectively it's in a rather pitiable situation--yes, it has cool powers and whatever, but almost literally everyone who ever cared about it is dead, it's been through some extremely rough ****, and it's in way over its head with this whole Mew situation. It keeps coming up with these awful dumb plans and going through with them in part because it's eight and eight-year-olds don't have the firmest grasp on feasability ever, but also in part because it needs to feel like it has some agency here, that it's going out there and solving problems and getting things done rather than being a victim of forces outside its control. Because if it's not actually supposed to be the hero, if it's not actually meant to do these things, if it isn't actually going to succeed, then something is very, very wrong with its understanding of the world, and that's a pretty scary possibility.

    All of that is spelled out quite explicitly later in the story, but I think perhaps I need to work on bringing it out a little more in these earlier parts as well. It's difficult, because this is all told from the protagonist's perspective, and it is by necessity not a very introspective sort. It really has to believe in all this, or everything goes to pieces. It can't doubt itself, it buries its traumas very deeply and does its best to deny that anything is wrong. The fact that it doesn't allow itself to acknowledge that any of this is going on makes it somewhat difficult to get that across in the limited perspective I'm using for this story. Ultimately the effect I want to create is one where the reader isn't just facepalming over the protagonist's latest fail and hoping it won't fail again because it's getting old, but is instead hoping it won't fail because they have some sympathy for what it's struggling with (whether or not they end up facepalming after the fact). The protagonist isn't really a "threat" in this story, but is instead someone working really hard to convince themselves that they're a threat against all evidence to the contrary. The question is how to make that come across on the page.

    So hey, that was quite a bit more angsting than I'd been planning to do in response to your comments, but hopefully it's been productive. Thanks for the crit. You definitely picked out a couple of things that have been on my mind, and it's always good to get a read on which worries I have are actually things readers notice and which are just authorial paranoia.

    As for the rest...

    Thanks, glad you enjoy them! They've been surprisingly difficult to write. :p

    It's great to hear you say that, because Mewtwo's portrayal in this story is something I always worry people will dislike, simply because it is so different from what you get in the anime and what tends to be reflected in fanfiction. And, frankly, Mewtwo in this story is a huge tool compared to the one in the anime.

    Great! This particular aspect of the child's powers will become increasingly important in the latter part of the story, so look forward to more of it, I guess.

    Thanks, it's something I try to pay attention to.

    Thank you again for your review! You always make wonderful comments. And now for the actual chapter, which had better fit into the next post or so help me...
     
  15. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Chapter 21

    Even fifteen minutes early for your battle, you aren't the first to arrive.

    "Oh! Hi there. Umm, you're Nathaniel, right?" She's so surprised she jumps, which startles you in turn. You weren't even trying to be quiet.

    Crooked bleachers overlook a lush, well-watered patch of grass that sparkles dewy in the morning sunlight, untouched, just waiting to get torn apart by your battle. The actual stadiums are reserved for matches with highlight players, and it's no surprise there's no one here to watch an early-morning match between a couple unknowns. Not that you intend to remain unknown for long.

    "Yes. I am the great Nathaniel Morgan."

    "Oh. Umm... Then I'm the awesome Allie Wilson, I guess!" She laughs and punches the air.

    You don't know what she finds funny, and it must show on your face. The awesome Allie Wilson glances around as though hoping to find someone else to talk to. "So, uh, I guess the ref isn't here yet."

    "Yes."

    There doesn't seem to be anything else to say. Your opponent crosses her arms and shivers. She's wearing short sleeves, and the morning breeze still has night's cold cutting edge. You look out over the broad expanse of the Plateau, which is dotted with small arenas, but can't see any other battles going on. Nine is probably the earliest time slot.

    Your daydreaming is interrupted by a heavyset young woman in the League's red and black, arms cradling a jumble of referee's flags. "Good morning. Nathaniel Morgan, right? Allie Wilson? Good, good. Thank you for being here on time. If you could just get your dexes out, link up to my tablet here... Thank you. Now, shall we get started, or do you need a refresher on the rules?"

    "Oh. I'm sorry, I'm..." The awesome Allie Wilson half-raises her hand like she's in a movie about high school and wants to ask a question.

    "Two on two, singles, no battle items. You may switch freely, but any pokémon that leaves the field without being recalled is disqualified. There is a time limit of one hour for this match. At the end of that time, the trainer with the most pokémon remaining is considered the winner. In the event of a tie, the winner will be at the judge's discretion. Anything else?"

    The awesome Allie Wilson picks at her arm while she listens, then stammers, "Umm, n-no, thanks."

    "Wonderful. Allie, you're red corner. Nathaniel, you're blue."

    The awesome Allie Wilson starts forward, then blushes and hurries off towards the far side of the field when you start moving in the same direction. You don't know how she managed to mess that one up; the trainers' boxes are marked out in their corresponding colors. If she's flustered enough to make a mistake like that, this battle's going to be even easier than you expected.

    "Okay," the referee says, tapping away at her tablet. The field's energy shield goes up, invisible but humming faintly. "Let's get started," the referee goes on. "Pokéballs ready. On my mark..."

    "Let's go, Vileplume!"

    "Go, Raticate!"

    Vileplume appears near the center of the field with a trilling cry. She lifts a heavy petal out of her face and stares around the arena, squeaking in delight when she spots the referee. Raticate hangs back, hunched up on his hind legs and twisting his foreclaws together while he sizes up his opponent.

    "Raticate versus Vileplume," the referee says. "The first round will... begin!"

    "Stun spore, Vileplume! Slow it down."

    "Quick attack, Raticate. Get out of there."

    Raticate looks at you over his shoulder, and you hold your breath, not sure what you'll do if he ignores you. But then he's gone in a flash of motion, well ahead of the wave of golden powder drifting from Vileplume's flower. The grass-type's wide-eyed look is gone, replaced by a small, confident smile.

    Raticate must realize what's going on before you do, because he comes out of his quick attack in a skid even as you're starting to say, "Back off! Don't get close!"

    The stun spore wasn't aimed at him. It fountains up and drifts down in a curtain around Vileplume, surrounding her completely. Most of Raticate's attacks aren't going to work. If he gets in close, he's going to be paralyzed.

    Fortunately, he knows some distance attacks, so you aren't fucked over just because the awesome Allie Wilson put her pokémon out of reach. You sigh. "Swift, Raticate."

    The normal-type drops to all fours and gives himself a shake, releasing sparks of normal-type energy that swirl for a moment before shooting forward in a swarm. They pierce straight through the haze of powder and pummel Vileplume within. She winces but doesn't stop pumping spores into the air.

    "Keep it up, Raticate," you say. You wonder how long the vileplume'll be able to keep her stun spore going. It protects her from most of Raticate's moves, but as long as he can just stand there and swift, he'll be fine.

    By now Vileplume's surrounded by a golden ring of paralytic dust. She grimaces as another volley of swift stars hits home, but she's not looking worried. "Okay, Vileplume. I think that's good. Give us a petal dance."

    "Swift. Keep going," you say. What's she up to?

    The stun spore cuts out, a few last spores filtering to the ground as Vileplume spins one way and then the other, humming to herself. A faint breeze teases powder back into the air, and multicolored petals spray from the center of Vileplume's flower, drifting and floating on waves of grass-type energy.

    Raticate breaks off his swift and flees ahead of the unfolding attack, but the boundaries of the arena hold him back. You lose sight of him as a storm of petals presses against the energy barrier, filling the whole arena to a point high above your head. When it finally clears, the vileplume is still in the middle, wobbling as she spins and croaking out the last few words of a tuneless song. Raticate lies curled in a ball at the very edge of the arena, practically on top of your feet.

    "Raticate!" The vileplume stuffs a berry into her mouth, one you couldn't see earlier, concealed under the heavy flaps of her petals. "Raticate, come on!" Vileplume won't be vulnerable for long.

    Raticate uncurls, but his movements are slow and jerky. Morning sunlight sparkles off something golden in Raticate's fur. He's covered in tiny flower petals, and more of them litter the ground all around--along with small drifts of stun spore. You clench your fists, biting back a growl. So that was the plan all along.

    "Great work, Vileplume! Hit him with a sludge bomb!"

    You grit your teeth. "Get out of there, Raticate. Dodge it with feint attack."

    Raticate grumbles something you don't catch and throws himself sideways, trying to roll into his own shadow as the bomb hits, spraying toxic goop in all directions. Raticate reappears by Vileplume's side, ramming into her headfirst. He follows on with a powerful bite as she stumbles, ripping one of her petals near in half. Even moving as slowly as he is, he still outpaces the grass-type, who's weighed down by her heavy flower.

    As the rat latches onto Vileplume's side with another bite, her trainer hisses, "Oh, crap. Knock him out, Vileplume. Sleep powder!"

    "Quick attack, Raticate! Get out of there!" You only hope he's still fast enough.

    Maybe he would be, but he doesn't even try. "Raticate! Hey!" you yell as he clamps down even harder on Vileplume's side. The grass-type squeals, but the pain isn't enough to stop her, and green powder puffs into the air from the center of her flower.

    Raticate braces his paws and twists his whole body around, tipping Vileplume back, back. At some point gravity takes over and she keeps tipping, letting out a piping trill of fear. The weight of the flower drags her completely upside-down, her tiny legs pinwheeling uselessly in the air.

    Raticate staggers away from her, weaving drunkenly with eyes half-closed. He must have gotten some of the sleep powder in his system, and the paralysis is still sending him into fits of full-body twitching.

    "No, Raticate! Turn around! Get her!" But no, of course he slumps over on his side instead. You holler at him to wake up while the awesome Allie Wilson yells at Vileplume to calm down, with about equal results.

    "Solar beam, Vileplume. Come on, you know how this works."

    Vileplume stops struggling and rests for a moment, panting. A look of deep concentration settles over her face, and her flower starts glowing a bright yellow-green as she draws in power.

    "Come on, Raticate. She's doing something. Come on!"

    The rat raises his head and turns dull eyes on you. His movements are slow and listless, like he's been drugged. "Get the vileplume. No, behind you. Look!"

    A faint humming fills the air, and golden light seeps from under Vileplume's petals as she charges. Raticate drags himself around to face her just in time for the attack to go off.

    You squint and throw a hand in front of your eyes as a fat column of energy shoots from the center of Vileplume's flower, propelling her into the air. The solar beam flies wild, ripping across the barrier on the awesome Allie Wilson's side of the field and dissipating in empty air. The vileplume turns a complete flip in midair and lands in a crouch. She straightens up slowly, a grim look on her face as she turns to face Raticate. "Okay, Vileplume, now use giga drain," her trainer says, sounding relieved.

    Of course. You had her, you had her, but Raticate let the opportunity slip away. And now he's just standing there while green light seeps into the air around Vileplume. "Come on, Raticate! Knock her down! Use double-edge."

    Vileplume raises her stubby arms, and now green light surrounds Raticate, too. He stumbles forward a couple steps, grinding his teeth.

    "Keep it up, Vileplume!" the awesome Allie Wilson says, and you lean forward, staring at Raticate with all your might, willing him to move. Vileplume stands up straighter, her mangled petal regenerating as Raticate's energy flows into her. Raticate staggers on, sickly-looking in the pulsing green light of Vileplume's attack. He moves in uncertain, lurching rushes, and if he doesn't pick up the pace he's never going to make it, come on, come on--you jump backward as the tip of your nose brushes up against the energy barrier and goes instantly numb.

    Raticate breaks into a hitching, stumbling run. He blunders into Vileplume, and the green light vanishes as she staggers, flailing her stubby arms--she's afraid of flipping over again, you realize. Raticate grabs her, kicking and scratching as he tries to pull her down.

    Vileplume's shrill cries of distress drown out her trainer's orders, and she pummels Raticate with her fists, too shaken to put together a special attack. Raticate goes limp as paralysis grips him, then breaks out of it a second later with a wild thrash, gouging Vileplume's side with his claws completely by accident, as far as you can tell. The two of them wobble around in an unsteady waltz, periodically rattled by Raticate's paralyzed spasms, until the sheer weight of the normal-type drags Vileplume to the ground. The referee watches them roll around until it's just Raticate growling to himself, chewing one of Vileplume's petals.

    "Vileplume's down," she says only a second before the awesome Allie Wilson calls the grass-type back. Your opponent bites her lip, then throws out another pokéball. A raichu takes shape, and Raticate turns creakily to face him, panting and twitching all the way.

    "Oh, guess you fought Vileplume, huh?" the electric-type says, swishing his tail in a casual rodent greeting. He wears a bright yellow strip of cloth around his forehead, its tails trailing down his back--a muscle band, you think. You can't make out what Raticate says back, if he manages anything at all.

    "Blue corner switches?" the referee asks.

    If you're lucky, Raticate might get an attack in. Might. No point saving him for later. "No switch."

    The referee nods and gives her flags a disinterested flick. "Begin."

    "Raticate, get in there with a quick attack."

    "Just thunderbolt him, Raichu."

    There's nothing quick about Raticate's attack. He starts another halting run, and Raichu sidles away, his cheeks sparking. "That looks uncomfortable," he says. "I'll make this quick, okay?"

    The lightning bolt knocks Raticate off his feet, and the referee doesn't bother waiting for the smoke to clear before she makes the call.

    Raichu turns around and gives his trainer a thumbs-up with a thumbless paw, cheekily twitching his ears. The awesome Allie Wilson giggles, and you smirk. How tragic that you're going to ruin their fun.

    "Graveler, get out there!"

    "All right," the referee says as the rock-type takes shape. "Last pokémon on the field. The final round will now begin!"

    It'll be a fast one, too. "Earthquake, Graveler!"

    "You know what to do, Raichu!"

    Graveler brings a foot down hard, cracks radiating in all directions as the earth begins to shake. The raichu makes a flying leap and lands on the only stable place in the arena: square on top of Graveler herself. Sunlight flashes off metal as Raichu brings his tail around and smashes it down just above the rock-type's eyes.

    "Nice try, but--ah! I don't think so!" Raichu grabs his tail at the base of its lightning-bolt tip and uses it to push Graveler's reaching hand away. She closes her fingers around the blade, which still glints metallic-sharp. Raichu drags his tail sideways, and Graveler lets go with a growl as it cuts into her palm. She makes another grab, but Raichu dodges and somersaults back to the ground, landing behind his opponent.

    "Use cut!" Raichu's trainer yells, and he's already laying into Graveler's back. His steel-edged tail carves deep furrows in her craggy skin, sending scales flying in all directions. Graveler reaches blindly with all four arms, stomping in a slow circle, but Raichu rolls to stay behind her, slipping under her hands.

    "Earthquake again," you say. Graveler's foot comes down, and Raichu jumps up. "Now grab him!"

    "My, my. A little frustrated, are we?" Raichu asks. Graveler's fists crash into an invisible barrier as she tries to grab him, and Raichu's content to wait behind the protect shield until the earthquake's rumbles die away. Then he kicks off in another powerful leap, landing several yards from Graveler with tail-blade raised in one paw. His claw glows a moment, and it lets out a bright metallic ringing as he runs it across the blade's dull, chipped edge, leaving it gleaming sharp once more.

    "Rollout, then," you growl. Graveler only has to hit once. Once, and then the raichu won't be so fast. If he takes an earthquake straight on, the match'll be over.

    "Stay away, Raichu."

    "On it!"

    Graveler tucks in her limbs and rolls straight at him, but Raichu dodges easily. Graveler keeps going, circling the edge of the arena. She swerves towards Raichu once, twice, and then a third time, faster with every attack. Raichu keeps on dodging, leaping aside with ease even when Graveler's rolling so fast you feel like you'll get a crick in your neck trying to follow her movement. Finally Raichu pauses, tensing as Graveler speeds his way. This time when he jumps it's to land on top of her yet again. Your heart leaps as he stumbles, but he catches himself and starts jogging along, keeping pace with Graveler's roll so he stays on top while she pinballs around the arena.

    "Okay, okay, Raichu," his trainer says. She laughs as he lets out a cheery squeak and waves to her. "Now isn't the time to be showing off like that. Come on, be serious."

    You grind your teeth so hard it hurts. "Stop rolling, Graveler. Stop. I said stop!"

    Instead she veers straight into the energy barrier. The impact makes Raichu drop to all fours, and then Graveler knocks his legs out from under him with another quick change of direction. He's spun down under Graveler's body and flung out behind her a second later, covered in bleeding scrapes.

    Graveler extends her arms and legs, which dig deep furrows in the dirt, killing her momentum. Raichu stirs, his face set in a grimace of pain as he draws in splayed limbs. Then Graveler grabs his tail.

    Raichu shrieks, and you're blinded by a brilliant flare of electricity. When your vision clears, Graveler's spinning Raichu over her head like a lariat. She slams him into the dirt, whips him up into the air, then brings him crashing down again.

    "Brick break, Raichu, brick break!" his trainer yells. The electric-type struggles at the end of his tether, kicking Graveler's arm with enough force to crack her stony shell and start his own paws bleeding.

    Graveler drops him, then slams a boulder on top of his tail-blade before he can crawl away. "Finish it with earthquake," you say, like she honestly needs telling.

    Raichu tugs on his tail, then waggles the blade with his paw, trying to lever the rock off. Graveler watches, ignoring you when sheer irritation makes you repeat your order. What's she waiting for?

    Raichu plants his feet wide, getting both paws under the boulder's edge. Muscles stand out under his fur as he starts to lift. He's strong. He's way too strong. And Graveler lets him heave the boulder up over his head, tail whipping free as he lets out a battle cry, before she stomps her foot again.

    The earthquake knocks Raichu to the ground, then bounces the dropped boulder back on top of him. He struggles at first, squirming out from under the boulder and trying to brace himself against the shaking. But the attack goes on and on, pounding the arena with waves of seismic energy, and in the end Raichu lies still and lets it jounce him around with impunity.

    Graveler stands with one foot upraised as Raichu rises to four paws, random sparks popping from his cheeks. He rests there with head bowed, breathing noisily. Graveler makes a warning rumble, raising her foot higher. Raichu shakily lifts a paw and says, "Okay, yeah, I give."

    The referee calls, "Raichu is unable to battle. Nathaniel Morgan is the winner of this match."

    "Good job, Raichu. You did great," the awesome Allie Wilson says. You recall Graveler just in time for the ref to start in on more instructions.

    "Okay, Nathaniel, you're moving on. You'll get information on your next match this evening at six. Anna, you're going to the losers' bracket, same deal. Thanks for a clean match, you two." She barely sticks around long enough to hear the awesome Allie Wilson's stammered thanks before cutting across the open plateau towards the grand stadium.

    You're about to do the same when your opponent says, "Good match."

    "Was it?"

    She looks at you like you said something funny. "Umm, yeah. Your graveler, uh, she's strong, and all your pokémon are pretty smart. They almost seem like they don't need a trainer."

    "It would be smarter to actually follow my commands. And I do not see what them being strong has to do with the battle being good. Your pokémon are not that great. Mine should have had no problem with your team, but in the end the only reason we won is because your Raichu got cocky. I did not think it was a good battle at all."

    "Oh," the awesome Allie Wilson says. "O-okay."

    You leave her staring at the ground, shoulders hunched and mouth set and frowning. You don't understand. All you did was point out the obvious. Why did she even bring it up if she didn't want to talk about it?

    Humans. It's a wonder pokémon put up with them at all. You wander off towards the Pokémon Center, letting the climbing sun warm you and burn away the tension left over from your match. Forget the awesome Allie Wilson. Forget the great Nathaniel Morgan. Let them think what they're going to think. All that matters is you're in the tournament for real now. You're going to make it to the top, one way or another.

    --​

    The human's asleep when you come in. He's off in his own room now, and the breathing tube is gone. You stare at the monitors watching over him for a few seconds, but the wiggly lines are as meaningless as ever. At least he must be getting better, or they wouldn't have sent him out here.

    "Wake up," you say, and when that doesn't work, you pound your fist on the bed's railing. "Wake up!"

    The great Nathaniel Morgan grimaces and opens his eyes to slits, which widen with surprise when they finally focus on you. "Wha... the fuck?"

    "Good. You are awake. Finally. Are you ready to discuss the League tournament? You have already managed to miss some of it."

    The terror fades from the great Nathaniel Morgan's face. "Oh. It's you." He lies with brow furrowed in thought, staring at the ceiling as you go on.

    "Of course it is me. Who else would it be? Now, the first match was yesterday. I won. I have today off, but tomorrow--"

    You step back as the great Nathaniel Morgan suddenly tries to sit up. He only makes it a couple inches off his pillow, clawing at the bed's railing for support. "Where the fuck are my pokémon?"

    "I have them with me. You can see them later. So--"

    "No! No 'later!' Now!" He takes a huge, gulping breath. "Now, motherfucker!"

    "In a minute. First I wanted to tell you--"

    "Fuck... fuck that!" The great Nathaniel Morgan gasps. "Fuck you!"

    You frown down at him. He's trembling, dripping with sweat like he's just run five miles, and trying to burn a pair of holes in you with his eyes. "Calm down and listen to me for a minute. You owe me. I saved your life. Again."

    "Fuck..." But he can't keep himself upright any longer and falls back panting on the bed, his eyes squeezed shut like he's in pain.

    "Are you ready to listen now?"

    He has to take a moment to get his breath back, and even then the words come out thin between gasps for air. "You got... You got some fucking nerve, showing up here."

    "I do? Why? There is nothing for me to be afraid of. You are clearly incapable of harming me right now."

    "That... that so? How about you come... how about... come a little closer, asshole?" He grabs for the railing again, but his hand's shaking and his fingers slip right off it. "Come a little closer, see what I'm, I'm 'clearly'..."

    "Remember, if we win the tournament, you can have your steelix back. All I'm asking--"

    "No! I'm so fucking done with your--"

    "Would you calm down already? Your pokémon are fine. I just want to talk."

    The great Nathaniel Morgan manages to catch hold of the railing and tries to sit up again, face contorted with effort. "Give... me..." he says, but the rest blurs into an incoherent growl as he shivers in place, straining but failing to rise further.

    He keeps struggling, though, every muscle standing out taut along his emaciated frame. If you let this go on much longer, he's probably going to have a heart attack or something, and then you'll be back at square one. You unclip the pokéballs from your belt. "Fine. You can see them if you want. But we will talk later."

    He might not even hear you, his gaze fixed on the pokéballs as he lets himself fall back against the pillow. The tension vanishes from his face when the pokémon appear, replaced by a huge grin.

    Mightyena rears up to put her paws on the bed. "Nate! You're awake!"

    "Hey, Pooch. What's... what's up? Whoah, stay... stay down, now. I don't wanna get, don't wanna get crushed, here. Just stay down. Okay."

    She stays down but strains forward as far as she can, bouncing on her back paws and stretching her neck out to try and reach her trainer with her tongue. Graveler grunts and takes a step back as Mightyena's tail smacks her in the face, and Raticate darts around her to hop up onto the foot of the bed. He creeps along the far railing, watching Mightyena licking at the great Nathaniel Morgan's hand while the human tries to pet her head despite her wriggling. "Ugh, you two are disgusting. Just look at yourselves."

    "What was that, Raticate?" The great Nathaniel Morgan asks. He rubs around the base of Mightyena's jaw, and she pants with excitement and slobbers all over the sheets. "Not feeling left out, are you? C'mere."

    He makes a clumsy lunge and manages to pull the normal-type into a one-armed hug. "Hey! Hey!" Raticate says, but he doesn't resist. Instead he rests his chin on the great Nathaniel Morgan's chest while the human scratches the bald patch behind his ear. "Oh, fine. Be that way, you weirdo."

    "All right down there, Graveler?" The great Nathaniel Morgan asks, craning his neck up to see over the edge of the bed. Graveler raises a fist, and the great Nathaniel Morgan leaves off playing with Mightyena's ears long enough to give it a light bump. Graveler rumbles something indistinct and settles down with her back to her trainer, watching you from the shadow of the bed.

    "So what's up with you guys?" The great Nathaniel Morgan asks, lying back with eyes half-closed as he strokes Raticate's fur. "The freak hasn't been giving you too much trouble, has it?"

    "I treated them perfectly well," you say before they can answer. "Which did not stop your Mightyena from attacking me for no reason."

    "That so?" There's the hint of a smile on the great Nathaniel Morgan's face, and he flicks the tip of Mightyena's ear when she growls at you.

    "Yeah. She's almost as suicidal as you sometimes, you know that?" Raticate says.

    "Yes. And Raticate and Graveler were sloppy and disobedient in our tournament match. You obviously have no idea how to teach proper discipline."

    "And you obviously ain't got no idea how to not be a fucking gigantic shithead," the great Nathaniel Morgan says serenely. His pokémon glare at you. "So you already did your first match, huh? The fuck happened with that?"

    You stare right back at Mightyena, daring her to do something about it. "We won, obviously."

    "Hey, nice. So you guys've been kicking ass while I've been stuck in bed all day, huh?"

    "Hell yes we did. Listen, there was this vileplume, right?" Raticate says, and before you can stop him he's off on a blow-by-blow description of his battle. The great Nathaniel Morgan ignores your attempts to get things back on track, paying close attention to his pokémon's story even though he can't understand a word.

    When Raticate finally wraps things up, the great Nathaniel Morgan smiles and says, "So basically you were a complete badass, am I right?"

    "Well, I did better than benchwarmer over there," the normal-type says, shoving his head under the great Nathaniel Morgan's hand so the human will scratch between his ears. Mightyena whines, and the great Nathaniel Morgan reaches down to pet her, too.

    "He was not a badass. I already told you your pokémon are sloppy. We would not have won at all if we had not gotten lucky. Your raticate managed to get paralyzed and almost put to sleep, and then Graveler--"

    "Wait, paralyzed?" The great Nathaniel Morgan grins down at Raticate. "Somebody paralyzed you?"

    "I know, right?" the normal-type snickers.

    "Yes. And then your graveler nearly lost to a raichu."

    A subterranean rumble emanates from beneath the great Nathaniel Morgan's bed, but he pays it no mind, a slow smirk spreading across his face. "Oh my God, you've got no fucking clue, do you? You're over there all sad because Raticate got paralyzed, like boo hoo, you complete moron."

    You don't know what he's talking about, so you just frown at him and hope he'll think you're offended he would even suggest you don't know what's going on.

    "Oh my God you really don't know. Oh my God, that's amazing." The great Nathaniel Morgan tries to laugh, but it comes out as a strangled hacking noise that makes Mightyena's ears go back against her skull. Raticate scoots away from him, whiskers quivering in alarm. The great Nathaniel Morgan himself presses a hand against his chest, coughing and swearing below his breath. "Oh fuck," he wheezes. "You've got to stop doing this to me, Freak. If you're going to destroy my goddamn ribcage, you can't follow it up by doing hilariously stupid shit, okay? Ow. Fuck."

    "Perhaps if you learned to control yourself, you wouldn't keep hurting yourself by laughing."

    "Nah." He's almost successful at a dismissive wave. "After all the shit you put me through, I should at least get a laugh out of it, even if it hurts like a bitch. Anyway. Raticate"--he gently nudges the normal-type back to the center of his chest--"has the 'guts' ability. Please tell me I don't have to explain what the fuck that means."

    "I know what it means," you snap, feeling the blood rush to your face. "I just did not remember that was his ability. I am used to fighting with my raticate. She has the 'run away' ability."

    "Oh, one of them scaredy rats, huh?" The great Nathaniel Morgan sneers Raticate mirroring his expression.

    "She is not 'scaredy.' And your raticate is the most cowardly I have ever met. You should have seen him run away when all I did was look at him."

    Raticate bristles and bunches up like he wants to jump at you, but the great Nathaniel Morgan just says, "Freak, anybody with half a goddamned brain runs the second they see you coming. Ain't nobody wants to put up with your bullshit. Now what was that about some pikachu or something? Raticate beat the dumb vileplume, and what else?"

    "It was a raichu. But he did not fight like a normal raichu. He used his tail like a sword. Graveler had trouble hitting him."

    The great Nathaniel Morgan smooths the fur down Raticate's spine as he stares into the distance. "It used its tail like a sword, you said?"

    "Yes. And physical attacks outside of that."

    "Huh. I think I know that guy. So you were fighting a kid?"

    "Yes. Not too young. About thirteen, I think. Why?"

    "Uh-huh, uh-huh," the great Nathaniel Morgan mutters to himself. "Wilson, I'll bet. At least the raichu's probably hers. Must be her kid in the tournament."

    "What, you know her?"

    "Not personal like," the great Nathaniel Morgan says, exasperated. "But from battling, sure. She's not a big-timer, does some smaller tournaments here and there. She's more in the contest circuit, really. That's why she's got the raichu with the flashy battle style, you know? For the show. Anyhow," he finishes, looking uncomfortable under your stare, "her daughter's probably doing the whole training thing now, right? So she can borrow mommy's pokémon. You're lucky you were facing the kid, is all I'm saying."

    "How did you know all of that?" you ask, half suspicious and half fascinated.

    "Uh, I pay attention? This ain't exactly rocket science, Freak."

    "Of course not. It does not even have anything to do with Team Rocket." Raticate snickers for some reason. "Regardless, if you think you could do so much better, you can prove it when you start doing battles yourself."

    "Oh, fuck's sake. Back to that shit again? Look, we ain't even got enough mons to play with. My three are great, but you need six. Or can't you count either, dumbfuck?"

    "I will battle for you as well. That makes four, even though I am very strong and I should count for at least two." You notice the great Nathaniel Morgan opening his mouth to make some comment and hurry to add, "Then there is Absol."

    "What, the fucking amazing disappearing Absol? That one? You think she'll even show up to fight?"

    She'll come around. "Of course she will. Absol has not been with me because I have been moving around too much for her to keep up. But we will be at the Plateau for a while, so it will be no problem for her to help us battle."

    "Okay, fine. Five fucking pokémon. Still don't mean a goddamn thing. You're gonna need six, and where are you gonna get the last one? You can't get a wildy trained up halfway decent in time for the tournament, and what else you got? Steal something? Hate to break it to ya, but stolen shit's usually pretty pissed about the whole thing. Send it out to battle and it'll probably go after you, get me?"

    "You would know how to deal with that, would you not? I imagine you have had considerable experience using stolen pokémon." You give the three in front of you a significant look.

    "Oh, fuck you. My pokémon ain't all stolen."

    "Just half of them," Mightyena says with a brief wag.

    "Like you even count," Raticate grumbles. "You stole him, more like."

    "Well, I wasn't the one who got in trouble for it."

    Mightyena gives the great Nathaniel Morgan a quick swipe with her tongue, and he absently scratches under her chin while he scowls at you. "Look, I don't actually give a fuck how many pokémon you got, I can't be your fucking trainer because I'm in the goddamn hospital being practically fucking dead, get me?"

    "I will heal you."

    "Ain't your fucked-up healing voodoo what put me in here in the first place? You can go fuck yourself with your healing."

    "No, I cannot. And it only went bad because you were too tired to heal properly. If the doctors treat you well, you should be strong enough for it to work before long." Of course, the great Nathaniel Morgan has always been pathetically weak, so you might be wrong. But just this once, let him actually be good for something. "Besides, if something goes wrong, you are already in a hospital. You will be fine."

    "Oh, that's real fucking reassuring. Why the fuck don't people sign up for your healing services all the time, Freak? They're just such a sick deal."

    "Good. You can rest here until--"

    "No, shut the fuck up. I ain't doing it. And none of these guys is, either." He wraps his arms around Raticate, and all three pokémon make noises of assent.

    "You are not? And how do you expect to get your steelix back, then?"

    "Thanks for your fucking concern, but I'll figure that out for myself."

    "Will you? I suppose you will have a lot of time for thinking. The doctors told me you will be here for a month at least. What do you expect to do when you cannot even get out of bed? In a month, what do you think will have happened to your pokémon?"

    The great Nathaniel Morgan's expression darkens. "Look, I said I'll fucking handle it, okay? Piss off."

    "I already told you Mewtwo is the only one who knows where your steelix is. You will need to ask him where to look, because if I cannot figure it out, I doubt you will be able to either. To do that we will need to get him back from the Champion. The easiest way to do that is to win the tournament."

    The great Nathaniel Morgan makes a grunting noise that turns into another cough. You press on. "If you agree to help, then even if we do not win, you will be healed and free to go looking for your steelix as soon as the tournament is over. If you refuse, you will be stuck here for a long time. You are much better off if you take the offer."

    "Or how about this one? You heal me without trying to drag me into your fucking stupid plot. Then I can find Steelix for myself, and you never have to see me again."

    "Without your pokémon, I would need to find five more to battle with. I do not think even I would be able to pull that off. So I need you to agree. If you do, we both benefit. If you do not, you get nothing. It is your choice."

    "Yeah, always the most lovely fucking choices," the great Nathaniel Morgan mutters.

    He frowns at the bedspread and strokes Raticate's shoulder, offering no resistance when the normal-type seizes his hand. Raticate sniffs at the oxygen monitor clipped to one finger and says, "The heck is this thing?"

    "Look, I just kind of need to think about this, okay?" The great Nathaniel Morgan says.

    "Oh, come on, Nate," Mightyena says. "You're not seriously considering this, are you?"

    The great Nathaniel Morgan ignores the nudge she gives him, looking at nothing in particular as he says, "And I mean, I'm not the only one who has to agree to this, and I don't, I just--look, you mind?"

    "Do I mind what?"

    "It means go away, dumbass. Get lost."

    "Why would I get lost? I know how to get around the hospital just fine."

    The great Nathaniel Morgan makes an exasperated noise at the back of his throat. "Leave. Leave. I want you to leave so we can talk. In private. That means without you," he adds when you don't immediately wander off.

    "I am not going to leave you alone. I do not want you thinking something up while I am gone."

    "Look," the great Nathaniel Morgan says, "if you are even the tiniest bit serious about all this League shit, you gotta realize you can't be watching me all the time. Like, this is two fucking weeks we're talking, here. Ain't gonna happen. So you'd damn well better get used to me having some alone time, got it?"

    "Is that it, then? You agree? If you will help me out at the Plateau, then I will leave. If we are going to work together, then I suppose we will have to... trust each other, to some extent."

    The great Nathaniel Morgan lets out a nasty, strangled snort of laughter. "Fuck that. I know you're gonna try to fuck me over every chance you get. I just gotta be ready for it, that's all. And I ain't agreeing to nothing. Right now what we're gonna do is discuss this whole League shindig, and when you get back you'll get your answer. But if you won't let us talk, then I can tell you right now the answer is a huge fucking "No" with a heaping side order of go fuck yourself with a rake. So it's your choice, Freak. Get lost or get fucked, hear?"

    You aren't thrilled about leaving him unsupervised, but he's right. If you can't agree to this much, there's no way you'll be able to work together at Indigo. And you'll be ready if he tries something, too. "Fine. I will take a walk. You have ten minutes."

    "Whatever. Piss off already."

    You piss off. There's nowhere to go, really, and you set out with vague thoughts of the hospital gift shop. What kinds of things do they even sell there? Spare organs? That would be so gross.

    You're wondering whether they might have some of the cool saw things surgeons use when you spot a vending machine against the far wall. And yes, it does have Sour Gummy Squirtles. The hospital really isn't such a bad place after all.

    But when you dig in your pocket for change your fingers brush up against something smooth and hard-edged nestled amidst the coins. You pull it out and find a sapphire almost the size of a golf ball in your palm.

    It's cool to the touch. Cold, even, like an ice cube. If feels it's leeching all the warmth out of your body, leaving you cold and hollow as realization settles in. You never put this in your pocket. It's not yours. But you saw one like it not too long ago.

    You stuff the gem back in your pocket and stand for a moment, staring at the vending machine. To your disgust, you're not in the mood to buy anything anymore.

    It's not fair. You ball your hand into a fist and run your thumb across your index finger. After everything else Team Rocket's done, making it so you can't even enjoy some candy in peace is just too much.

    It only takes a minute to reach the alleyway you teleported into earlier. It's quiet here, empty except for the dumpster and a few empty crates stacked against one wall. You take the stone out again and watch it sparkle in the sun for a moment, drag your fingernail across it with a faint squeak. You do it again, harder, pumping energy into your nail until it glows brighter than the stone itself. You don't actually need to break the gem; a good scratch should do.

    Eskar would never let you get that far, though. You look up at the sound of her shriek, a noise like metal scraping over glass, just in time to get a good view of the sableye plummeting from her perch on the wall behind you. She lands on your arm light as a breath, insubstantial as smoke, but her claws and the cold of her body sink into you nonetheless. "Give it," she gasps, breathless and hissing. "Give it give it give give give..."

    You snap your arm out sideways in an instinctive move to shake her off, but all she does is drive her claws deeper, staring at the sparkle of blue in your hand like nothing else matters. She inches forward, leaving a trail of painful stab wounds in her wake, and reaches for it with one hand, then recoils as flames roar out between your fingers. You smirk as she lets out a crackling jabber of distress, but a second later she reaches straight into the fire, clawing at the gem. The alley fills with a sour ashy smell as her arm chars to black, but this only inspires her to shove her whole face into the flames and commence chewing off your index finger.

    You yell and bang your arm against the wall, but Eskar's body passes clean through the bricks, and trying to tear her off with your fingers is like trying to grab hold of a fog bank. The only parts of her that stay solid are the ones she's using to rip you apart. You take a steadying breath and hold your arm out in front of you, squinting at the industriously-chewing sableye while pink energy gathers around your free hand.

    When the moonblast dissipates, Eskar is nowhere to be seen. You twist around, taking in the alley from top to bottom, but there's no sign of her save a couple bloody footprints to your right.

    Your racing heartbeat marks out long seconds where nothing moves. Finally you open the hand holding the gem, wincing as you pry apart cramped and shredded fingers. The blue stone winks innocently up from your palm. How are you going to get rid of this thing? She can see through it, no matter where she is. She can know where you--

    Claws dig into the back of your calf, and the moment you spend cringing in pain is all Eskar needs. She climbs up your side, out along your arm, and grabs the stone from your unresisting fingers. "Hey!"

    The ghost drops to the ground, chuckling. The laughter doesn't stop even when you fry her fry her with a shock wave. Eskar darts under the dumpster and reemerges a second later, climbing up the wall behind it. She's got both eyes in her face now, the left one still slick with your blood. You fire a water gun after her, hoping to knock her from the bricks, but she scuttles out of the way, up and up and over the edge of the roof. Her laughter hangs in the air behind her.

    "That's right!" you yell after her. "And you better stay away! If I catch you watching me again, I'll break your eye and beat you up so bad you won't be able to go crawling back to Team Rocket!"

    You wait longer this time, long enough that your heartbeat slows completely and the wounds on your hand start to sting. It only takes a second to fix them, but then you have to stand there and wash all the blood off, too. No way you can go back to the hospital looking like you were in a fight. The doctors there just can't seem to mind their own business.

    --​

    "Whatever. We're in, I guess. We'll fight in your fucking tournament." The great Nathaniel Morgan lets out another one of those congested laughs, and Raticate, tucked into a sleepy curl next to him, shudders and opens bleary eyes. "Damn, your expression. What's the matter, Freak? You said it yourself, right? It's just such a motherfucking awesome deal. I'd have to be a goddamn idiot to say no."

    You realize your mouth's hanging open and snap it closed, scowling at the great Nathaniel Morgan. He's snickering like it's hilarious you're surprised. But of course you're surprised. Since when has he ever made the reasonable choice? He kept complaining that he didn't want to do it, and his pokémon didn't either, but put all of them together and suddenly they're in?

    There's something not right here. You never really thought you'd get him to say yes, not without using force. It's more than that, though. The way the great Nathaniel Morgan and his pokémon act together... It's not what you expected. He must be up to something already.

    No good worrying about it now. You'll have plenty of time to figure out how to keep him in line. For now you haul your train of thought back on track and manage to say, "Good. We will go, then. The first match is tomorrow, and we have training to do." There's a faint growl from the foot of the bed. Mightyena's lying under it, head on paws.

    The great Nathaniel Morgan gives no sign that he heard her. "Yeah. You'd damn well better get training, 'cause if you fuck this one up I swear to God I'll take it outta your fucking hide." Raticate stretches, scrunching up his body and sticking his forepaws way out in front. The great Nathaniel Morgan pokes at the normal-type's toes and says, "You guys get it done, all right? Make it happen out there."

    "Yeah, sure, leave us to do the hard work while you lie around all day," Raticate he grumbles. "Don't go anywhere, asshole." The normal-type washes his face with his paws, then twists around to fuss with a cowlick on his side.

    "Aww, is somebody grumpy he didn't get to finish his nap?" The great Nathaniel Morgan asks, mussing up the fur Raticate just smoothed over.

    "Oh, nice," the normal-type says, turning his back on the grinning human. "You know what? Forget about it. I don't gotta put up with this kind of crap. You smell all weird anyway." Raticate heaves himself over the railing and lands heavily on the floor.

    "Bye, Graveler," the great Nathaniel Morgan says as the rock-type rolls forward to join her teammate. She grunts in acknowledgement, nothing more. Mightyena doesn't move, but you can tell she's watching you out of the corner of her eye.

    You recall the three of them in a flash of red energy, and the great Nathaniel Morgan says, "Make no mistake, Freak, if you even think about hurting one single fucking hair on any of them, I will know, and I will fucking come for you. Got it? I don't care if I gotta die and come back as a fucking gengar to do it, I will fuck you up. I will make your life such hell you will wish Mewtwo would use your brains for a fucking art project. Do you understand me?"

    "Yes. You do not need to worry. I will take good care of them. I am not the Team Rocket member here, after all."

    "No, but you are the one who had to beg him for help like a fucking pansy," the great Nathaniel Morgan says, lying back and closing his eyes.

    It's almost a relief to feel irritation simmering in your chest. "The way I remember it, I was not the one doing the begging."

    "Fuck you!" The great Nathaniel Morgan starts back up, his face twisting into an ugly scowl. "You want to... to make something of it, asshole? I'll show you fucking begging, you, you piece of shit. Come--come on! Come the fuck on!"

    You look at him, quaking with anger in a hospital bed, his monitors blaring warnings, and think, again, that you don't understand humans at all. This one especially. "You are in no position to be making threats. You should be resting so you can get out of here as soon as possible."

    "Fuck that! Fuck... fuck resting shit, maybe all I need to get better is... is the right fucking motivation! S-say that, that shit... Say it again, you bastard!"

    You wish he could rage himself better, you really do. He would probably already be well if he could. "I will not. You are in bad enough shape already. I do not want to risk you being unable to participate in the tournament."

    The great Nathaniel Morgan's panting for breath, but his lips quirk up into one of his obnoxious smirks nonetheless. "Oh, I, I get it. First I wasn't dead enough for you, and now I'm... now I'm not fucking alive enough, that it? Damn, you gotta be pissed."

    He can't even imagine. "I am leaving. Try not to die."

    "Sure, asshole," the great Nathaniel Morgan says, but at least he slumps back against his pillow. "You better believe I ain't... I ain't going nowhere until I get the chance to strangle you. Don't fuck up tomorrow."

    "Of course I will not." And you won't, either. You pause a minute to see if he wants to make an argument of it, but he's turned his head away, eyes closed and breathing fast and shallow. It's probably for the best. You don't have time to get into a fight about it, and he'll see for himself tomorrow anyway. Like the raticate said, he might get to lie around all day, but you still have work to do.
     
  16. Rediamond

    Rediamond Middle of nowhere

    I'm pretty bad at single-chapter reviews, but I liked this one. The idea of kids basically borrowing their parents teams is, while occasionally used, not common for characters who aren't clearly spoiled and boasting about it as much as possible. Also you did a good job of showing that Nate's Pokemon are quite competent, but The Child is a terrible strategist.
     
  17. Spiteful Murkrow

    Spiteful Murkrow Early Game Encounter

    Alright, it's about time I collected those thoughts about chapters 5-7, since I've got like 13 other chapters to get to afterwards:

    Oh, so that's what happened to Matt. Or at least I'm pretty sure that that's suicide since there's only so many actions that begin with "ki" that wind up leading to death. I am kinda morbidly curious what led Matt down that road if that prognosis is correct, though.

    What is Pikablu like as a cryptid in-story anyways? Since whatever it is, it has a following.

    Well it was a nice, tender-hearted moment of impersonating a dead boy. Wonder what gave the Child away to Duke, though?

    Well, that's going to certainly 'help' any potential problems Leonard has with insomnia. And that must be some whole new level of soul-crushing for what you think to be your long presumed-dead child coming home, only to turn out to be some sort of horrifying monstrosity that steals away your child's closest companions.

    Wait, so the child used to be human once upon a time? Or do these fish-shapeshifter things reincarnate like phoenixes?

    Pretty sure that's a sign they don't want you working anymore, just saying.

    Oh, that can't possibly end-

    Well.

    Being a shapeshifting fish-creature that steals dead peoples' identities makes for some interesting priorities and thought processes.

    Is it part of the rules of fate to not explain why things need to be done? What would have happened if the Child went "Screw Destiny" here and allowed Nate to die, anyways?

    Interesting depiction of Softboiled there. What happens if you throw the egg at something?

    Pretty sure that having an alleged psychopomp circling around your body in that condition is just a few steps away from death. But that probably explains why the Child was so flustered.

    Oh, so it can assume the form of Pokémon... Are these forms also of dead creatures?

    Hey now, Nate. It's not completely unheard of for humans to become Pokémon. Pretty sure that those Pikablu tabloids must have some stories about kids getting turned into Kadabra and the like.

    So... That means augmented Pokémon capable of human speech was a project within Team Rocket at one point? So that's where that talking anime cat came from.

    What an auspicious start to a new friendship... :3

    I'm beginning to understand why Nate's "friends" tried to kill him...

    He seems to run his mouth off a little bit too often for his own good. And excuse me while I wince in sympathy.

    This chunk seemed to be a bit more serious in atmosphere, which I assume was the intent, but it was nice to see that the Child got a new friend... of sorts. The description and delivery seems great as always, and I'll be looking forward to seeing how Nate processes being drug along with his new companion. Keep up the good work with the new chapters down the road, I'll be looking forward to reading them when I get there.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2015
  18. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    So, I realize that this chapter came out quite a while ago, but school and life have been so busy that I haven't really had much time for fanfiction. But hey, better late than never, right? ;)

    Oh geeze. The child totally would say that...

    ... but I do love the way she respond :)

    He's going to be referring to her this way for the rest of the story, isn't he? XD

    And once again, the child is going to be eating his own words

    The swear word stuck out to me, perhaps because it wasn't the great Nathaniel Morgan saying it. I suppose he's picked up on some of his habits.

    This part brings out the child's more pragmatic side. I understand that he's doing what's most sensible, and it's what battle strategists would do, but he could at least give Raticate a rest. Not doing so just makes him seem more callous. Plus, he's not a great battle strategist, so it sorta becomes moot. It might fit his personality, but after seeing how much he cared for the other trainer's Pokemon, I would have hoped that he would care for the great Nathaniel Morgan's as well.

    I do find it kinda odd that Pikachu has fingers and opposable thumbs and Raichu doesn't appear to. Seems like counter-evolution to me.

    Did you intend for the referee to get the awesome Allie Wilson's name wrong?

    Awww :( I startedto like the awesome Allie Wilson too...

    XD That is a perfect pun to use.

    Oooh, sounds like there's good potential for a story right there!

    I felt really bad for the great Nathaniel Morgan in this chapter. I think you did a good job of eventually fleshing out his character and humanizing him, and his interactions with his Pokemon are the sweetest scenes you've written so far, in my opinion. I also felt bad for his Pokemon, but I can understand how they would be willing to do whatever they can to see Steelix again. Even I'm hoping that Steelix will be all right; I need to know how this subplot will end!

    The only bit of criticism I have to offer is that the child's cockiness has gotten repetitive by this point. His battles seem to follow the same pattern: he thinks he'll have an easy match against an opponent, the opponent is much stronger than he thought, and whether or not he wins is up to the situation. It was fitting of his personality at first, but after this long I would have hoped that he would have learned something from all of this.

    I did like this chapter, if only for the scenes between the great Nathaniel Morgan and his Pokemon XD Good job! And good luck with resolving the "Finding Steelix" subplot!
     
  19. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner Peace to the Mountain

    You know, you'd think my brain would have started substituting "Cornholio" after "the great" well before this point, but. Well. It didn't. But hey, better late than never, yeah?

    Okay, that? Is hilarious. Poor, silly rafflesia monster.

    Cute!

    And there goes Mightyena, earning some cute points herself.

    If only...
     
  20. Praxiteles

    Praxiteles Friendly POKéMON.

    Oh no, I can't believe I've been out of order for four whole pages. I bet the story's been chugging along like nothing else, huh? Hopefully I didn't miss something really tremendous.

    Ah, this is how I know I'm back. There aren't a lot of Mewtwo stories with this unique ****-density

    This is a great concept, and I think a teaser into the kind of nuance your eventual plot is going to be revealed to have. I also like the idea of exploring the child's psyche and its structure more like this.

    On the other hand, to the child, who must be at least partly a separate entity, there's nothing disturbing anymore about this kind of disembodied consciousness. In fact I always think it might be part of the circumstances of what the child is.

    I really think that when you weather the confusingness of the first chapters, which has already been talked about way too much, the following chapters and expositions are worth it. As long as the reader can accept a position of helplessness, which is really the only appropriate way to deal with this kind of narrator, the extent of the tragedy and the characters' feelings can come eventually. Perhaps the entire situation was different before the explaining chapters happened, because back then it was a story that the reader had to understand/judge everything about based on what had been posted, with the explanation somewhere months off in a future update. But now appreciating the story is a matter of an afternoon sitting.

    This is horrifying in a very Salvage kind of way. You've done a good job asking how dangerous and frightening Team Rocket would be if it were a real-world prganization. It's actually a very dangerous situation for a team like this to have total freedom to do these things without being interrogated.

    So that's what happened. It really joins one of the most emotional and widely-loved tragedies of the canon, with the frigid, surreal, disjointed narrative that the story starts out as. You could tell there were important bonds driving the child from the beginning, but the reasons were submerged at the bottom.

    How is it doing the family reckoning? So, Sara is psychically pregnant with Mew's child, which makes Mewtwo at least Mew's son, even if Sara doesn't want to own any lineage to him. Then Mew resurrects Sara and creates a new entity, as far as the child is concerned -- which might mean the child considers Mew to be its mother. So Mewtwo is its brother got it

    The child really sounds more endearing after you realize that its straightforward world view is mostly made up out of its loyal and unbreakable bonds to the people it was born with.

    Aww, Nathaniel, it almost sounds like you like the child a little now

    Haw haw.

    That's just like Blue. He'd get kind enough that he'd actually be insulting.

    "And here I was, almost beginning to think you were competeeeAAAAAAAAARH!"

    He deserved it.

    Hahahaha nice job, loser.

    Gameverse spoiler: all the pokemon are a hundred times cooler than the long haired dweebs in shades who own them.

    This is the grittiest (literally) pokemon battle I can think of reading. When you're in this perspective you notice all the visceral details of pokemon battling. I've seen pokemon centric fics that describe what it's like to battle too, but with pokemon, you always end up abstracting the damage a little. The damage is important to the scene, but that's why people end up treating it like a strategic element, and not like, silt choking the player's own food pipe. It'll be cool to see normal League-type battles described through the child's lens, too.

    This chapter is in fact short and sweet, but it's all one single scene -- Oh, I see Dragonfree also commented on the length. I think it's part and parcel of what, and how much is going on here. I might have missed something but I had no prior idea that the ambush would happen, so in fact this is a scene where a lot of story does get revealed: first that Nathaniel Morgan tries to break free, a little later that he has help, somewhat later that it's actually the whole of Team Rocket, and finally, that they're going to capture the child. But, all the information s conveyed through a single battle, and with no differentiation or dramatic rhythm, the same verb keeps going on from beginning to end: 'battle' and 'think'. On the one hand I was trying to see whether or not the full, exhausting lengthiness of the struggle really should be driven home to the reader in this way (considering how powerful the child is, I think it should be driven home in one way or the other). On the other I realize that blindly head-on is the only way the child would agree to face the situation. Perhaps what could make the scene 'easier to read' would be if there was actually some scene punctuation to the battle, probably just a very coarse structure: there's a skirmish with a small group of enemies, then there's a tense break only to talk where the situation is revealed more explcitly, then a resumed skirmish with huger scale and implication. I imagine it would be a lot of work on an old chapter though.

    Child! Can't you celebrate responsibly?

    Every writer should have this confidence.

    Creepy, a psychic juggernaut who stays physically vacant the entire time he's doing things.

    Looks like you broke the hell loose after all. I love how Red isn't some kind of savior or anything just because he comes at the end of all the human ******** Mewtwo suffered -- he's obviously implicated in whatevers happening in some part. The scenes around Mewtwo are creepy as all hell.

    Yep, they're siblings.

    Byronic Hero.

    That's so cute. You can keep killing all the humans you want, I just want these two to be friends (and find their mom).

    Oh, it's high time. Looks like some of the questions it has might be answered.

    Aw, an angry nurse bayleef.

    The last few chapters before 21 are a little frustrating after the progress that the Mewtwo arc was almost making; it doesn't feel like much happens in them except for pokemon scuffling with no ultimate purpose. It makes sense for the things the child's done to Nate coming back to haunt it, but people don't have a lot of conversations or come to any compromises or changes in their point of view -- it's a lot of squabbling. (Or, again, all the story changes happen 'through' the main verb of battling, which sometimes mean they all happen at the corner of a character's mind. If someone realizes something, it's vaguely while fighting, if someone has any feelings to convey to someone else, again, battle them, and compromises happen 'offscreen' in the middle of a scuffle, while we readers get news of them obliquely after the struggle is over.) Even Absol gets pulled in, for no productive reason I can imagine. I definitely believe that the themes that have been going on are going to find their resolution, and a lot of people's outlooks and objectives will change. But for now, the growth of the child especially is frustratingly slow. It's been made clear that the way it operates is very inadequate to the task of finding Mew, but the child still refuses to behave in any but the most baseline, immature ways, it forces people to do what it wants without any advanced curiosity about them, and keeps pulling out its preternatural fighting strength in response to whatever challenge it underestimates. I'm sure it must be related to this being the chapter where I caught up, like I said before; if I'd been reading a few months from now, these latest chapters would just be an interlude before we launched into the next arc. All the battling does end up being interesting, though; the free-form scuffling is in some ways even cleverer than formal battles.

    Aaand now I realize that has been pointed out too. ;^_^ Again, maybe by the time we get to the moving chapters I won't feel I have anything to complain about? For now with limited knowledge, what occurs to me is that. Growth is partly about confronting your fears and struggles, and partly it's about recuperation. You have to feel like you have a rebound from your problems, before you can find an angle to them that's better than your current one. The child of course has faced some incredible traumas and is still far from safe. But, I think because its problem is uniquely its, no matter how horrifying or adult, the problem is in some way a 'child's problem', and a child will certainly have to face it. At this point I'm sure I'm just casting vainly at the future/ending you've already got a good idea about (and you might not even be able to respond well without spoilers XP).

    Aw yeah! I like your style, awesome Allie Wilson.

    Nice! I was hoping the epithet would catch

    My one passion in life is elegant grass-type strategies.

    Twitching rodents and paralytics spores... just another day at the job.

    That's such an endearing detail. Continuing with Nate and his pokemons relationship is clearly a good idea.

    He really starts getting a kind of bandit's grace.

    That would explain why the pokemon were mainly the stars of the show.

    Nice

    Aw, that was a lot of criticism. Overall, reading the last ten chapters together was a pretty exciting experience, I've really come to like the characters. Nate Morgan, in particular, is someone who I think has a lot of hidden strength of character; you don't get back from dying so many times if you're not a tough person. Anyway, see you next update!
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2015

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