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Chibi Pika

Stay positive
IT’S MONSTER REVIEW REPLY TIME.

For those who missed it, Dragonfree left a gargantuan three-post-long review of the entire fic a couple pages back, and I’m only just now getting around to replying to it. The review was so huge that my reply to it has taken this long to complete! (And would have taken up multiple posts itself if not for the new and improved character limit.)

Bit repetitive there.
Man, this chapter had a ton of repetition. Thanks for the catches, I have a hard time spotting those.
I quite liked the entire ship-sinking scene. You got across a nice sense of chaos and panic, and Jade's disorientation felt pretty believable and made the whole thing more immersive, I think.
I’m really glad to hear that! That scene in particular was one that had been criticized as being too methodical in the old version, in an in-depth review on PC that still stands out to me all these years later.
Did Alakazam guy just leave them there with no guidance, hoping they'd happen to wander to the Pokémon Center? That seems pretty weird too; even if he can't guide them all the way, shouldn't he tell them where to go before the teleporting starts?
Haha, alright, I should definitely add a little more explanation to this scene. It’s obvious it was super rushed.
I notice Stalker doesn't actually apologize to them for putting them in danger; he just says he didn't expect the Rockets to go this far. He's not big on apologies, is he? As of chapter 25 I seem to recall several different instances where one would expect a person to apologize but he didn't, so I'm guessing this is a very intentional part of his character.
This was one of those things that when I first read it, I was like “huh… I wasn’t quite thinking of that,” and then came back to look at it later and went “oh my god it’s perfect.” So while it wasn’t a conscious decision, it absolutely fits his character.
This chapter is fairly transitional, since it sort of follows from the previous chapter and then doesn't really have a main event from there, instead mostly just serving as a not-super-interesting from-A-to-B thing. I did like the ship-sinking scene, though, and there's not really anything egregiously terrible about the rest; the structure just comes out a little awkward.
Honestly, for the two years I spent agonizing over how awful 8+9 were, I’ll count “a little awkward” as a victory. ^^; (Course, that’s not to say I won’t try to spruce them up from time to time!)
Stalker's staged double battle felt kind of weird and not really necessary to me, though; since it's staged and it's pretty clear from the start that it's staged, and it's a demonstration with no stakes whatsoever involving characters we don't actually know, I found it hard to really get into it. All in all it didn't feel like we really learned anything by seeing that battle that we wouldn't have learned from Stalker simply stating "Pokémon at a severe type disadvantage can still win with good synergy", or from a one-sentence summary somewhere mentioning Stalker had a demonstration where his Charizard and Dragonite handily beat a Tyranitar and Aggron.
Hm, I guess the main reason I wanted it to be there was because in the old version, I just had him give a speech on battle strategy, and it was one of the most dreadfully boring scenes in the entire fic, and when writing these chapters, I was on a big kick with trying to figure out how to show not tell. But that’s good to know that the lack of stakes made it hard to get into. If I’m being totally honest, I think I was mostly going off Rule of Cool there. :V
The training exercise that begins this chapter is well done, I think. At the start we're not sure exactly what kind of exercise they're doing and are driven by wanting to find out what's going on, then it becomes clear that they need to land one hit and run without being hit themselves (which makes a lot of sense given how as Stalker pointed out last chapter they don't actually want to be fighting the Rockets), and that creates clear little stakes that are easy to grasp for the skirmishes that follow. Meanwhile, Firestorm's character comes through in the way he fights and we see how much Jade has learned as well as what she's still shaky on. All in all, it was an enjoyable opening and a nice way to show the training they've been doing and give a sense of their progress.
I’m so glad I added it! It was one of the most egregiously “telling” scenes in the old version, summarized by Jade in a single paragraph of “oh yeah we trained and got stronger” but on the flip side, I was really worried that spending too long showing the training would get boring. So glad everyone likes it!
If I have one criticism it's that you're using a lot of epithets for Pokémon - lots of "the fire lizard" and so on everywhere. I definitely used to do a lot of this too, but I've come to find it awkward when used too often; I don't think using the Pokémon's name most of the time actually gets as repetitive as I worried it did back then, and it's definitely less noticeable than repeated use of a phrase like "the fire lizard". Might be worth watching out for. (Later edit: you do this considerably less in later chapters, but I still notice it occasionally.)
In response to the later edit: yep, I tried to tone it down after chapter 18 hit a sort of critical mass with them and Negrek pointed it out. I still like using them, but I can stand to cut back quite a bit.
Presumably that should be "Salty sweat".
Dammit, Adam already pointed that out and I forgot to edit it. Always do your edits asap, kids!
I'm still not a fan of exclamation marks in narration, outside of direct exclamations of the narrator's thoughts, and this definitely reads like narration and not as a direct exclamation. It just feels clumsy and takes me out of it a bit. I guess it seems kind of halfway? Just replacing the exclamation mark with a period would leave the rhythm feeling kind of off, but if it ended in "...to my right" or something it'd read smoothly to me ending in a period.
This is one of those things I grapple with a lot, seeing as it’s first person and there’s no line dividing what is and isn’t narration. I guess the reason I have a hard time taking it out is because I grew up reading books that blurred that line a lot.
So that's what the names were called, but what were the names? :O (I'm sorry, I couldn't not.)
Pfft, I had never heard of that, that’s great.
I like Warren and his tour a lot. The way he describes Team Rocket really sounds like how a loyal member who actually cares about the team would talk - there's a fun honor-among-thieves sense to the way he emphasizes how grunts' actions reflect on their superiors and how they should work hard for the sake of the ones who've mentored them. Details like being proud of the combat unit of his HQ similarly just make it feel like he's at home here, loves his HQ and wants the best for it. You do a very nice job in this scene of making Team Rocket feel like an organization consisting of real people and not just this nebulous evil. Similarly, his brief interaction with Karen conveys a lot about them and their relationship and how the team works in just a bit of dialogue.
Warren was such a random last-minute addition that has gone over so well with readers that I’m really glad I decided to include him. I think this chapter was where I was starting to get better at the whole “make exposition interesting” thing.
Definitely suggesting that this may be Stalker... which in turn may mean that that's too obvious and actually a red herring.
Bits like this are so fun in retrospect, aren’t they?
This was a great chapter, I thought; when I went to catch up on the fic after falling behind after chapter eight or nine, the Rocket orientation was where I really went "Oh, yeah, I'm into this" and was absorbed enough to catch up on all the remaining chapters immediately. It really feels like the fic is kicking into gear here.
I am so glad. After the unending hell that was writing Chapter 8+9, writing this one was more “ughhh not more of this crap, why did one chapter become four” but looking back on it, I’m a lot fonder of it now than when I first wrote it.
I can't help seeing this as a potential subtler hint towards something potentially Stalker-related.
I’m basically going to point out all of these fun Stalker bits that you caught. :3
Negrek's rubbed off on me; this strikes me as a weirdly wishy-washy way to describe something that shouldn't be very subjective. Did it shake its head or didn't it?
Ahaha, you’ve gotten that response too? xD But yeah, it’s legit, I’ll try to follow it from now on.
If most of them didn't manage to figure out how to damage the machines, why aren't they asking the ones who did succeed how they did it so they can take down the others? It seems really weird that they're all reporting being unable to break them but then don't care or notice that three groups did and presumably they could all do the same. Don't get me wrong, I like the way they ultimately take down the field a lot, but I feel like here the fact you already knew they were going to go with the Selfdestruct plan comes through a bit in the way they dismiss the successes some of them already had without comment. I think this might work better if either nobody had managed to stop the field generators at all or if they actually were asked about it but it turned out they did it using methods the others already tried, or exploiting weaknesses unique to their particular generator - something that definitively leaves them still just as clueless on how to proceed.
Honestly, this entire mission is a mess, and I think I was just so intent on having Jade’s group fail that I forgot to make sense of what came next. It really does bother me, and while I obviously shouldn’t do a total rewrite because we’d all prefer if I make actual progress on the story, I have been trying to think of ways I can fix this up.
I like this a lot - they're on Raikou's side, but it murdering a bunch of Rockets and their Pokémon is still horrifying and unsettling, and you show that well.
Another last-minute addition that I’m super glad I came up with. (Honestly, the “bad guys get mowed down and no one cares” trope really bothers me.)
Wait, how is Jade supposed to leave, if Charizard just drops her off and then flies away? I know she ends up flying on Aros, but obviously they had no idea she'd be finding him, so I'm at a loss as to what the actual plan was. Was she going to just get out, call Stalker again and then wait for Charizard to fly all the way over there again?
I think the idea was that she’d call Stalker when she was done, but in retrospect, it does seem pretty silly. ><
I think this description reads a bit too casual, if she thinks she's about to die - she doesn't actually sound afraid here, just inconvenienced. The paragraph after this, and the later descriptions in this scene, are all a lot better.
Ahh, ok, good to know that the rest of the scene worked better. I’ll reword that.
I enjoyed this chapter - a little quiet, but it was fun to see Jade proactively decide to take on a solo mission to get Chibi back, the scene with Razors establishes his character well, and overall it was very atmospheric. I also just liked Jade a lot in it - both that proactiveness and her emotions and observations throughout.
Jade becoming more proactive was definitely the most important purpose of this chapter, so I’m glad it was effective.
This reaction reads kind of weird to me. Surely Team Rocket making normal, unmodified clones is less weird than them making superpowered clones or hybrids; heck, given they're making superpowered clones, one would expect they'd probably have started out with normal ones before they had the process down. I have a hard time understanding why Jade is so baffled by this in particular, unless she's meant to be balking at the idea that they'd keep unmodified clones around at all when they had superclones, in which case it's strange that she instead phrases it like it's just that superclones and hybrids were weird, but unmodified clones, man, that takes the cake.
I think the idea was that she finds clones weirder than hybrids and superclones weirder than clones, but in retrospect, clones being weirder than hybrids doesn’t make much sense.
I'm also not a fan of that ellipsis at the end - it makes it sound kind of melodramatic. An exclamation mark actually would be appropriate here, I think.
Ah, one of those managed to sneak through!
It seems a bit funny that she first describes the Grovyle like she doesn't recognize it, guessing that it's a Grass-type based on the leaves, but then goes on to call it a Grovyle as if nothing were more natural - if she knows easily what it's called off the top of her head, it at least seems weird she'd need to carefully look at the leaves before concluding it's a Grass-type, instead of just "What type was Grovyle again - presumably Grass?"
Yet another thing I’ve known about for ages and forgot to edit! (Well, in this case, I edited the documents, but didn’t post the edits. Gah.) To explain: this scene got chopped up and rearranged a bit at the last second, and Grovyle’s name wasn’t supposed to show up until after Stracion said it, but one of them snuck through.
I'm of two minds about this chapter. I like Stracion a lot; it's fun to see an unashamed Rocket who's still on the rebels' side, sort of, being cool with Team Rocket's regular criminal activity but less thrilled about getting involved with legendaries. It makes sense that that's how some members would think, and she and the way she talks and acts are immediately distinct and memorable. On the other hand, it really does feel a bit cheap that the first person to discover Jade when she's on a highly secret mission and the whole tension is about whether she'll be caught just completely coincidentally happens to be on the rebellion's side - it may be a little counterproductive to introduce Stracion in this particular way during this particular bit, where you've just built up some real, legitimate tension only for it to turn out to be for nothing. While her poisoning Swift and Firestorm and making Jade think she's going to turn her in is a fun character-establishing moment for Stracion, I can't help but think structurally it feels kind of extraneous and like a fake-out with no payoff (particularly since Jade just happens to have Pecha Berries on her, so the poisoning doesn't last beyond this encounter). Maybe it'd feel less so if it were established that Stracion didn't just happen to be the first person she bumped into, but had heard from Stalker that she'd be there and was specifically keeping an eye on her and leading other Rockets away or whatever? Not sure; either way it does feel a bit weird to me.
Yeah, this chapter definitely still suffers from the whole “oops I wrote Jade into trouble let me immediately write her out of it” that used to be so prevalent. I do like the idea of Stracion mentioning that she was keeping an eye out for her though.
The other highlight of the chapter is Chibi. He's so tangibly messed up and traumatized here, and you do a nice job in this chapter and the last of establishing Chibi and Razors' relationship and making the reader invested in their reunion.
Man, I’m really glad you were invested in it, because figuring out how to make it feel important was a huge pain.
Is Mew not one-of-a-kind here? It seems a bit weird to me to talk about a single individual as being "rare" (but then again, I'm not the native speaker here).
It is one-of-a-kind, but that’s not exactly proven, and the average non-Legendary-enthusiast wouldn’t really know much other than “super rare, no really, no one ever sees it, is it even real?”
This line reads kind of funny to me, though. He knows they're the most powerful beings in this world, but also sounds really dismissive and unconcerned, what with the scoffing and "If they're so powerful, why do the humans regard them as pawns" thing, but then also seems concerned that they're in danger. Does he actually believe they aren't as powerful as they're said to be and there's nothing to worry about, or does he not realize what his creators could do if they could control legendaries? I can't properly tell what he's thinking, and the lines themselves sound a bit unnatural to me too.
This is one of those lines from the old version that I kept out of nostalgia and really should have reworked a bit.
You do a nice job deflecting this by making their mutual recognition out to be simply about the plane incident, though - nothing here ends up glaringly "NOTICE THIS", just the sort of thing that slams into you on a reread.
Yes good. That was a difficult scene for a lot of obvious reasons.
The entire Astrid scene is pretty great - she has such a strong sense of character and she feels so gloriously competent. There she is, immediately figuring out who Jade is and that she's part of the group that freed Raikou and threatening her and hitting her with an actual attack without even thinking about it - it's clear she's a next-level threat and you make the reader look forward to seeing her clash with Jade again.
Yesssss. Obviously it was a bit tough to write that since I knew that, well, obviously Astrid wasn’t going to kill her, so the stakes weren’t as high as they appeared to be, but they really had to appear to be and of course Astrid is trying to be convincing, so I had to write it convincingly, and yeah. xD;

I guess this is a good occasion to bring up that I'm still not really feeling Aros and Stygian as characters, for one reason or another, compared to the rest of the principal cast. I know that Aros is grumpy and not too fond of humans, and that gets across perfectly well with bits like this - but I don't feel like I have much of a real sense of who he is or what he wants, and even less so for Stygian. So far they've just felt like "the other two Pokémon", in a way that's a little disappointing - one would think that having been Team Rocket experiments would color their experiences in an interesting way, but I don't feel like you've been giving them enough focus to develop them very strongly. So that might be something to give more attention to in the future, perhaps.
I think this is a pretty clear symptom of the fact that I myself didn’t have a strong handle on their wants or goals, and even to this day it’s something I still struggle with. So I’m glad you pointed it out, and I’ll keep that in mind as I head into Book 2.
He kind of has a valid point there, though. However Jade was going to arrange to get back to Midnight Island to begin with (I assume the plan was probably for her to call for Charizard again, somehow?), one would think she could have done that from the random forest, or they could have at least rested in a random forest. When she's not his trainer, and they haven't actually made any sort of agreement about sticking together after escaping, expecting him to fly her great distances really is a bit much. I think it'd make a bit more sense if you'd established an actual agreement between Jade and Aros/Stygian about going to Midnight Island together and talking to Stalker - it feels a bit weird that she just takes them there and then sort of immediately treats them as if they're joining up by going "We can talk to Stalker in the morning" (why should they want some human guy they've never met to decide what they do now?), even though they don't actually do so until later in the chapter.
Yeah, I think I generally need to tweak a lot of the dialogue here, cause it does have that weird sort of “this has already been decided” feel.
One of those little things that I like a lot - both the attention to detail in having it break and the fact Jade keeps checking it anyway, which is very Relatable(tm).
At one point I apparently decided that Jade’s watch not breaking was a terrible unforgiveable plot hole, and that I would dedicate myself to ensuring that I fixed that in this version.
D: Jaaade you and the heartwrenching way you respond to trauma. This is pretty much exactly what happens after the torture chapter, too - it's kind of chilling to see a microcosm of the way she just shuts everything out and refuses to talk about it here.
Oh man, I hadn’t thought of that. I think I’d actually already written most of 20 before writing this chapter, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some of it leaked through.
It feels a bit funny that he just goes "Well, I'll give you names" instead of even giving them the option to choose names for themselves - feels a little antithetical to the idea that they're just going to be free Pokémon that don't belong to anyone, and based on your characterization of Stalker otherwise, I'm not sure that's intentional.
Yeah, that whole scene was a bit of a mess and it all stems from the problem that I gave them those names in the old version and had no idea how to explain it. Like, “Aros” isn’t a word, and “Stygian” isn’t the kind of word Jade would translate, but neither of those names felt like the sort of thing she would call them anyway unless she heard someone else call them that first, and clearly I should have just renamed them, but then I just decided to go with Stalker. I really ought to have him ask them first though.
I like the Fire Punch scene a lot - it's nice to see Jade actually train with Firestorm, the solution of learning Fire Punch because he's good with physical attacks makes sense and helps reinforce the fact that he's a unique individual and training with him specifically is going to involve some consideration for how he in particular fights, and of course his hangups and his personality come through very clearly while strengthening his relationship with Jade a bit. I'm a bit sad in retrospect, though, that Fire Punch doesn't actually see much use after this - searching the thread, he uses it in the starter battle in chapter 17 and there's one mention of it when he's destroying the computers in chapter 19, but that's about it, and then Charizard teaches him Flame Burst (which doesn't have that same quality of capitalizing on his individual qualities).
Believe it or not, this paragraph was literally the reason I gave Glaceon Mirror Coat in Chapter 28, rendering special attacks a liability and forcing him to use Fire Punch. Seeing as I love the Mirror Coat moment, I’m really glad you were able to indirectly cause it!
This discussion is making me notice that we've barely seen Ebony battle. Obviously Rudy's a supporting character, and there's not much reason to show too much of his battles, but ironically what we actually see ends up mostly being Rudy using Wartortle, because Wartortle is relevant to his arc. Maybe it would've strengthened it to show a bit more of how Rudy fights with Ebony as a contrast to how he fights with Wartortle, rather than mostly just showing him using Wartortle and then having Jade's narration merely remark on how different he is with Ebony and how much more he uses her off-screen.
Oh, this is a really good point. I’ll try to see if I can fit some more Ebony bits earlier in the fic (I dunno if I have room for a full-on battle, but a few training bits here are there would be a big help.
SO SPECULATION.
:D :D :D
There are seven legendaries dedicated to ending the war; judging from the fic and outside statements and commentary, I'm guessing at least Lugia, Mew and Palkia are among them. Dialga, in the excerpt you posted on Palkia Positivity, seemed potentially like it was helping but also potentially like it was more "No, there's no point"; I'm leaning towards it being one of the seven too, though. That leaves three more.
This is a really fun glimpse at how the things I’ve posted on tumblr have influenced what readers might assume about the fic. Dialga and Palkia’s role is going to surprise a lot of people, I think.

Really enjoyed your analysis of how the events 3000 years ago relate to things happening in the fic’s present! You caught a lot of interesting wording particulars too. All the lines you put in quotes were definitely written that way for a reason, and it’s so great to see someone try picking them apart.
Presumably it's actually the Griseous Orb (attracts Ghost-types, later described as amber, and you go on to pretty much state so out-of-universe), but I've got to admit this description doesn't really sound like it. Saying it gives off a silvery sheen without specifying color otherwise makes it sound like it's silver in color, which the Griseous Orb is not (or at least not in the games).
Yeah, I’ve been pretty upfront about the fact that it’s the Griseous Orb. The silvery sheen was meant to be a platinum reference.
The three orbs are almost definitely the Adamant/Lustrous/Griseous Orbs, again, and the Spirit of Origin is Arceus unless you're really trying to pull the rug out from under us. The realms I'm guessing are the worlds of Dialga/Palkia/Giratina/Arceus plus the real world, as portrayed in the twelfth Pokémon movie. This would imply that, since it's the Griseous Orb, it relates to the Distortion/Reverse World, and since the orbs were sealed away to separate the realms, that would imply that bringing the orbs together might reunite them? Which would be "lighting a path to the truth that was hidden from this world", apparently; perhaps originally the world was one, and the Revolution actually did tear it apart. Maybe this world is actually the Reverse World!
I wish I could post Book 3 now.
The most interesting part of this one is the restore balance to that which was never meant to exist part.
It sure is.
Something that doesn't fit into any of this so far: I'm pretty convinced, based on your outside comments, that it's actually going to turn out Mew chessmastered things here after coming from a doomed timeline where everything went horribly wrong. If this is true, Mew is the most likely author of the prophecies, and it's entirely possible they're not factually true, just whatever they needed to be to get the players in this timeline set up the way they need to be.
At this point I should mention that any of my outside comments become slightly less accurate the further back you go from 2015.
I don't think this is the greatest ending line, to be honest - after a big dramatic plot chapter, ending on this little belated, kind of humourous, italicized realization seems to cheapen it a bit.
Aw dang, I wasn’t trying to make it humorous.
Huh, seems weird that it's that easy for grunts to access higher-ranking uniforms? Unless they used Darren's admin rights to get in and it just wasn't mentioned?
They did, I probably should have noted that.
So either Stalker 1) is currently a high-ranking Rocket, but they suspect enough to be shutting him out, or 2) he has Rocket contacts that are either being shut out or have betrayed him. Lexx again? (I'm only really repeatedly bringing up Lexx here because law of conservation of characters, but.)
Heh, I’m glad you caught this bit back then.
Couldn't they theoretically just teleport back to the Midnight Island stadium or some nearby town, since Stalker already knows their location? No huge need for them in particular to be here anymore, and that'd be a lot less risky than staying in there until the truck is opened hoping that Kadabra can teleport them out after seeing the outside but before the Rockets notice. It'd be kind of a bummer, sure, but if Stalker is concerned with the safety of the kids, I would've thought he'd advise them to teleport home rather than try this.
Well, they didn’t want to teleport out until the trucks reached their location because that was their only lead on where the mission would take place. Unless you mean after they got there, and that they should have teleported away (and then back?) Which… I guess could have worked? Although if they wanted to get back, Kadabra would’ve had to memorize that location (the truck?) and then when they teleported back they would’ve had the same problem of avoiding being seen.

…I think I really should have posted an extra on the teleport mechanics in this fic.
I'm surprised Team Rocket are transporting Entei and Mewtwo in a van instead of just keeping them in Pokéballs?
This is a side-effect of the really convoluted way I have the legendary control tech set up in these earlier chapters (with like the big heavy machinery) until they invent a way to just embed the tech inside the Pokéball like every other sensible villain.
Something about this dialogue bugs me. Jade immediately noticed Entei's eyes were completely blank - don't the birds notice? Don't they notice that Entei's just standing there as they arrive, not properly looking at them or looking relieved or like it recognizes them, or responding at all even as they say several lines? One would really, really think something would seem off immediately, and they'd already have reason to be wary given apparently they know Entei was captured, but here they just act like phew, it's fine, Entei's escaped, how are you my dude.
Hm. I think I meant for it to only be obvious to Jade because she knows about it and she’s looking for it, whereas to the birds it’s just like “???” since they’ve never encountered anything like this before and don’t even know that mind control is a thing.
So Mew doesn't seem distressed by this at all, which is pretty interesting. Either she's supremely confident that they can get through this with no problem, despite how the legendary birds were captive earlier; she doesn't actually care very much about Entei; or she's just very good at hiding her feelings.
The third.
The fact she says "once again", though, suggests the previous war really was between humans and legendaries, which is interesting. I wonder exactly how that war worked without TR-esque technology. (Maybe some legendaries joined the humans willingly?)
Actually, she’s referencing something a bit more recent than that era.
Feels like this could be more impactful, I think - Jade was very nearly shot to death here, but her reactions don't sound all that different from how she reacts during, say, training exercises. You do better with her panic in the bits immediately following this.
Ah, I’ll keep that in mind.
I quite like how the action ramps up here and in particular how Jade becomes more proactive, tips Suicune off about the ALRs and then goes to try to destroy the Pokéballs - we feel a lot more involved and in the middle of things that way. The mutually assured destruction stalemate she ends up in with Astrid is also nice - Jade gets to be a bit daring and cool, even as she's kind of screwed. She really does do a great job on this mission, which is heartbreaking knowing how the trauma of her capture and torture will end up completely overshadowing it in her mind.
This chapter was definitely the one where I was like “okay, Jade needs to start doing more things.” Not that she wasn’t doing things before, but they were very reactive things, as opposed to taking the initiative, which is an important turning point in her development.
I guess Arcanine knows Astrid doesn't actually want Jade hurt, huh?
Yeeep
Kind of telling in hindsight how she doesn't look triumphant at getting her revenge, doesn't it?
That line was one of those ones that I knew I had to get just right for it to be plausible in hindsight.
Astrid stepped through the doorway, her expression cold and disapproving, like she’d rather have been anywhere else.
NO KIDDING.
I really love that line for being one of the best examples of something that kinda made sense in context but then became 8 million percent better in retrospect.
It still feels a bit weird that Astrid gives Jade a full hour. It makes sense she's actually doing it for herself - but would Giovanni not question giving an interrogation subject a full, unmonitored hour to recover their composure and resolve and come up with a convincing lie, just when you've gotten them into a vulnerable, pliable state? Unless nobody else knows about this interrogation or when to expect results from it, which seems very unlikely (presumably Starr is doing this in the first place because it's expected of her), it feels weirdly incautious of her to allow herself that much time without a more solid outward justification for doing so.
Yeah, this is a fair point. It was something that made even less sense when the reader doesn’t know who she is, but even post-reveal it has some issues that I’m not totally sure how to fix. I might just cut down the time
This feels a little unsubtle, though. It would be a shame if the reader doesn't remember that Jade actually wasn't a horrible screwup on that mission at all, yeah, but I think by bringing it up specifically here, it undermines the portrayal of Jade's mental state a bit. I don't think she'd be consciously thinking to herself, "Yeah, I did several awesome things, but they don't matter" - it doesn't sound very convincing that way, does it? Inside her own mind, her being a useless screwup should be an obvious, inevitable truth, not something that requires unconvincingly denying how actually awesome she was. I'd say either she doesn't think of her successes at all here, or she reframes them entirely to actually sound like useless failures in a way that genuinely seems convincing.
Ah, that’s fair, I should probably reword that.
aaaa. I'm guessing this is one of the bits inspired by trauma anecdotes, because I've definitely heard similar stories. Quietly intense and horrible in all the right ways.
That part definitely was, yeah. The other one in particular was the repetition of “it didn’t happen,” inspired by the story that gave me the most chills, in which someone went home and filled an entire notebook with those words.
Aaahhhh, the barely brushed-past implication here is chilling.
Oh crap, I didn’t even think of that.
The entire final scene is really good; it's tangible how traumatized she is and how distorted her perceptions are. Overall, this was a great, harrowing chapter about trauma that pulls it off in a pretty stark, real way that's unlike most standard, clichéd depictions and definitively establishes the fic's ability to deal with heavy subjects in a serious and mature way. I loved it a lot.
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

(thank you)

I like Chibi's monologue on Razors. We hear some backstory while Chibi goes from apparently angry at Razors not showing up to just angry at himself for having caused his friend to suffer and not being able to deal with how he's changed.
Aaaaaa, I really like this way of putting it.
Is that true, though? We've seen all of one scene of Chibi and Razors reunited, as I recall - a brief conversation that was abruptly cut short, but the conclusion of it was that they were both still alive and that's what's most important. Since then we've seen Chibi gazing at Razors and looking contented, a mention or two of Razors not training when the others are, and Razors not coming on the mission, but that's about it. I think this could have been built up better - if you mean to show them having grown apart and clashing, I think we ought to see at least one actual scene of that before this point. As it is, this feels kind of abrupt. It makes sense, but we haven't actually seen them interact in any capacity that shows any real friction, so telling us they're not getting along after one off-screen disagreement just isn't very satisfying.
Yeah, this was worded a bit strangely, I definitely need to rework that a little bit.
There's something poignant about this phrasing. I really like the way Razors talks; he has a way of stating things in a very simple, understated way that still says a lot and gets at the core of the issue.
Razors’s speaking style just kind of happened, without much thought or intent put into it, so I’m glad it left an impression.
Stalker definitely sounds like he's not the Kanto commander here. I suspect it'll still be relevant, though - quite possibly relevant to Stalker, too, even if it's not actually him.
I enjoyed this immensely.
I love the abruptness of the beginning; the last chapter made us expect this would be the Mewtwo mission, and then opening the next chapter with Jade waking up to sudden fire and chaos is just such a nice way to pull the rug out from under us so that we have no idea what's happening anymore.
Occasionally, thirteen-year-old Chibi does something right. :V
"There's a fire" would take less time to say than "No time to explain", though - and it's not like there's anything else she knows about the situation at this point that she might want to explain besides "There's a fire", so I have to say it feels weird for her to go for "No time to explain."
Yeah, honestly, I should just have her say that she doesn’t know. :P
Jade, coping! I love how she can reach for the fact she's not trapped and helpless and it actually gives her strength where someone who hasn't lived through what she has might (understandably) be more prone to panic.
I really loved the idea that her greatest weakness (in her eyes) was able to become her greatest strength here.
I really adore the way this chapter just piles on punch after punch with barely any chance to breathe - it's devastating, and the impact just compounds into one great horrific nightmare.
Mad-Libs with Dragonfree’s Buttons Pulled from a Hat: The Chapter.
How dare you call me out with this description of my face when I read this chapter for the first time

(no, seriously, this was my face, for the entire chapter. You should have seen me.)
I absolutely wish I could have.
I love Jade's PTSD coming into full force here, leaving her paralyzed until Stygian drags her away. It's also a powerful moment when Astrid stops at seeing how terrified she is of her - definitely one of those moments that really strongly hint something weird is up with her.
I really, really loved writing that moment, and the bit where Astrid is frozen with shock from Jade screaming was a later addition that I couldn’t be more pleased with.
This was the bit where I cried, though. It's always the reactions that get me more than deaths themselves, and the way this breaks him so completely and leaves him a murderous, screaming wreck is heartwrenching.
I’ll be honest, when you first told me this, waaaaaaay back when I first posted the chapter, I was stunned. It had never occurred to me that something I wrote could make someone cry.
I doubt this would have been super-impactful at the end of a random Rocket mission - Wartortle isn't particularly developed and we haven't connected with him much (which would have been nice to see, I admit). But the fact it's another gut-punch at the tail end of this long, cruel, emotionally exhausting chapter meant it actually made me cry. Nice job destroying me to this point.
Yeah, that’s the main reason I decided to have it here rather than during a mission.
That having been said, this is pretty consistent with how he acted after Jade's torture - he cares, but he's just really not very good with traumatized children (or perhaps has a hard time fully facing up to exactly what just happened to them on his watch?) - so you may have been going for that intentionally. It just stuck out at me a bit.
Stalker still can’t decide if his pawns are just pawns. :T
This is definitely my favorite chapter of the fic so far. I'm a fan of torture and all and chapter 20 was great, but this was concentrated emotional devastation in a form that I just really, really like - I know there are people who think this sort of sudden, shocking tragedy pile-on is too much or that it loses impact when there's too much at once, but that's pretty much the exact opposite of me. I live for chapters that just relentlessly tear away at my soul until it's left raw and bleeding, and you did that excellently.
I… can’t even describe what reading this meant to me.
Razors' death, or more so Chibi's reaction to it, tore my heart out - but that being said, I couldn't help but feel a certain nagging dissatisfaction in the back of my mind.
You’re absolutely right with this. It’s one of the aspects of that the fic suffered the most from the plot being so mile-a-minute with such little downtime for character arcs. I still wish I could have had some kind of Rebellion-focused chapter somewhere between 16 and 17.
I'm a little amused at this, because most of the time when I wake up from actual nightmares, it takes a moment for my brain to convince itself that no, actually none of this really happened.
Haha, same. Although the inverse (trying to convince myself something was a dream) tends to stand out a lot more in my memory despite being rarer.
Oh, Firestorm. Maybe being strong doesn't solve everything.
Someone should really have told him this before Chapter 28.
In this particular case, though, Rudy thought he was going to be fine and could handle more when he wasn't and couldn't. Firestorm is semi-right about him not being strong enough - but the real issue was that the situation was just really bad and Rudy should have seen he was struggling but never paid enough attention to him to notice. "He was fine but no one thought he was good enough" seems like a weird response - he wasn't fine, and that's the whole point.
Yeah, I was kind of weirdly inconsistent with exactly which flavor of “dumping on Wartortle” was the one I wanted to go with.
I guess part of what makes Aros a miss for me as a character is that while I can see he's hopelessly contrarian, it's been hard to tell how he actually feels about anything.
Yeah. You pretty much nailed it. I don’t think I had a very good handle on what his motivation should be throughout all of this, and it shows.
I like this bit of Darren being his own person, feeling kind of like the third wheel. Probably not relevant in any way, but it's a nice reminder that he's a human being with his own thoughts and small insecurities that don't touch on Jade's life.
I really have a bad habit of focusing on the “big three” protagonists (plus Stalker) so I’m glad I’ve gotten better at spotting opportunities like this one to give some love to the side cast.
Nice sudden swerve in this otherwise calm chapter - caught me completely off guard the first time.
Figuring out how to pull off that swerve was a huge pain. ><
So. Astrid is Starr.

I like that fact, and I like how you've built it up on the Astrid side - Jade repeatedly noticing something weird or off about her, which is too vague to give it away but makes the reader wonder what's going on there. The Starr side of it, though, is a lot clumsier.
In the time that’s passed since this was first posted, I’m sure you seen me mention countless times that this is top of my list of things to fix, even if it’s just making sure her damn name gets mentioned more than once since the Prologue.
I think this scene would make a lot more sense if it played out differently. One possibility would be for Jade to recognize Starr first and then piece together, as she reels from the shock, that actually Astrid hasn't been acting like she really wanted her dead at all, has she? In that moment, when everything has turned itself around in her head and suddenly the person standing in front of her isn't this terrifying monster anymore but Starr, and she's realized exactly why she's not going to kill her, I can see her getting angry and confrontational. It does make for less build-up to the actual reveal, though, which might or might not work as well. Otherwise, just reworking it so that Jade doesn't have to go after her so defiantly would make it work out a lot better, I think - making Astrid interrogate her more and give away more while Jade is still quivering at her mercy, so that Jade begins to put things together without Astrid actually letting her go and walking away.
The second option there sounds like the most viable one. It’s really obvious that I wrote this scene prior to all those others that set up Jade’s trauma.
(This is in part because these are sentences written like internal monologue, like statements that she'd make - when narrating actions or involuntary flashes of emotion, it doesn't feel like it's supposed to be a coherent statement from the character in the same way, so then you can show one thing and then have the character assert another without getting the same kind of incongruity.)
Yeah, I think it shows that I’m inexperienced with third-person. Well, I’ll get more practice at it later in the fic.
Ajia is pretty great; she has a pretty strong sense of character, her Pokémon are adorable and you get a really nice sense of how long they've been traveling together and with Ajia in the little ways they interact. I like how her relationship with Jade comes through a lot too - Jade looks up to her and feels so pathetic in comparison, while Ajia is so casual and tries to make her feel better about what she's accomplished with the Rebellion. You also fluidly get across the sense of just how competent Ajia is at this Rocket stuff and how much more she knows by actually showing it instead of just through Jade saying so.
This conversation was so much shorter and to the point in the outline, and then when I went to write it, it just struck me that I really needed to write these two actually being friends and after a brief moment puzzling over what that would entail, it all just sort of spilled out from there.
And yup, this is definitely the Kanto commander we keep hearing about. Still think the implication that he might be Stalker is too obvious and probably a red herring.
Still love that you called it not being Stalker.
I kind of wish there was more acknowledgement of the fact that if their mission went wrong they might be getting Starr killed - because yes, this does involve turning Team Rocket against her which is kind of a big deal. Jade isn't really as nervous on this mission as I'd expect in general, which you kind of explain by saying Ajia's confidence is infectious, and I can sort of see her feeling like Ajia will make sure they're safe somehow, but even aside from the danger to them, they could also risk the person they came there to save, and I feel like that's something Jade ought to be thinking about a bit, particularly when Starr directly confronts them about that.
This is one of those hindsight things, where it hadn’t actually occurred to me that that was a possibility because I already knew she had Mew as a trump card. I guess it goes to show how hard it is to convincingly write high stakes into something that secretly has very low stakes.
The extra has some lovely hinting and I like how you write the conversation - it feels like an actual text conversation and I enjoy their different writing styles. So, Lexx is obviously computer-savvy, which is why I'm taking a wild guess and saying he's the one who programmed that flash drive for Stalker, and possibly arranged the rebels' Rocket IDs etc. I did reread the prologue a bit ago and notice that Lexx is Starr's brother, or in other words also Giovanni's son, but clearly he's not by a long shot as determined to be loyal as Starr. I wonder if it's down to simple personality differences or if there's a deeper reason.
Man, I am so glad I decided to include that extra. I really wanna get to the chapter where I can introduce Lexx for real! Dx
Sebastian could be Stalker's real name, but I'm going to say it's the Kanto commander instead.
I’m so glad that you were theorizing about this stuff back then. Yet another thing that I only could’ve replied to with like a smiley face or something if it hadn’t already been revealed by now. :P
This reads kind of weird to me, though? Why call it "your favorite Pokémon"? It feels like some strange kind of forced infodumping - the sentence makes sense if he's meant to be mocking her for preferring Raichu (which was my original interpretation; I read it as "Oh no, not your favorite Pokémon, whatever will you do"), but then that turns out to be completely irrelevant to the rest of what he's saying (that interpretation would imply he thinks obviously she should just use a different Pokémon because who cares which Pokémon she uses, but then the rest of what he says implies he does think it matters which Pokémon is used, he just specifically wants her to kill them instead of torturing them). Maybe he's trying to get at something else and I'm just not grasping it?
Huh, I hadn’t realized it could be read that way. I was mostly just trying to have him taunt her use of Raichu as being performative.
It feels weirdly out of character for her to go straight to begging. Surely that has never, ever worked on Giovanni, and so far Starr has acted acutely aware of that. Is there really nothing she'd have thought of saying over this?
Mmm, this is a good point. I was trying to break her here, but given the following scene, it doesn’t quite fit.
I really like all of these lines. Starr is so angry and she hates this so much and specifically I like the accusation: you had to know I couldn't! You're always singling me out with this kind of ********! Odds are most Rockets would refuse to kill their close friends or family, but she's the only one who has to go through this, and she reaches for that anger to justify switching sides.
Aaaa, yet another last-minute addition I’m really glad I threw in. That line wasn’t in the initial draft for this revision.
I'm surprised Jade accepts this so easily. What does it mean when Ajia says she can't tell her? Why? Why doesn't Jade even ask?
Okay, yeah, I definitely need to have her press the issue more.
Aww, not even her not-at-all loyal brother. Wonder if there's a story there.
Oh boy, I can’t wait til chapter 33. Their interactions are some of my favorite in the entire fic.
Okay, so. I like Starr and how you write her dilemma and ultimate decision to stand with Ajia and Jade despite everything, but I can't help but feel like it was awfully quick, at least narratively speaking. It's been two chapters since we found out who she is, and literally the first thing Jade thinks of to do about it successfully gets her out of Team Rocket - I was kind of hoping for this to be a bit more complicated than "call Ajia, she comes up with a mysterious infallible superplan that we can't know about, Starr is redeemed and joins up with Jade". I'm assuming you're going interesting places with this from here, though, and I can't wait to see more of Starr as she tries to cope with the shock of everything that just happened.
Yeaahhhh, it really shows that this was the first subplot in the entire fic’s history, originally written as a single chapter. :T I’m essentially banking on the whole “going interesting places from here” thing.
I'm going to say Ajia's Umbreon is the 'Z' she mentioned in the previous extra, and specifically that he's an experiment - the Rockets don't know, hence why he hid whatever he did to break Mewtwo's Pokéball behind that Smokescreen (or similar). He could have just been boosting up his Attack with all those eye-flashes, but since it seems like he also did something to prevent the Rockets from seeing them, and nothing Umbreon can learn obviously comes to mind as a possibility for that, I'm still banking on him being an experiment doing something unusual. My second guess, though, is that Z is a separate experiment and that the white flash during the smokescreen was Ajia sending it out (and then it'd have been recalled before the smoke was dispersed, to make sure nobody saw she had it at all).
This was probably one of my favorite theories in the entire review! I love the idea of Z being an experiment, and honestly wish I’d thought of that! (Even if I am immensely pleased with the whole Zoroark reveal, and the moment I realized that I could give her one was one of my favorite author moments.)

Welp! That should be everything! Sorry It took so damn long to reply to this! Dx (But to anyone watching from the sidelines, I did comment on a bunch of random bits via private message, so it wasn’t as if I totally ignored the review until now!)

~Chibi~
 

Chibi Pika

Stay positive
This extra takes place during Chapter 5, but is just now being posted long after Chapter 29. If you are just now reading the fic and currently on Chapter 5, do not read any of the other posts on this page of the thread, as they will contain significant spoilers.

Special thanks to @icomeanon6 for making sure I never forgot about this.

~Chapter 5 Extra: The Phone Call~

What was I doing? Why did I think this was a good idea again?

My shoes repeatedly tapped the carpeted floor of the Vermilion Pokécenter while I continued my staring contest with the videophone. I was lucky the center even had a videophone. Lots of places didn’t carry ‘em since pretty much every trainer had a Gear these days. For years, I’d stubbornly insisted I didn’t want one if I couldn’t be trainer, but I was kind of wishing I hadn’t done that now.

But that was beside the point. I couldn’t just leave on an impromptu journey off to fight Rockets who-knows-where and expect it not to bite me in the rear if I didn’t call home first. The last thing I needed was for my face to be on every missing kid list in Kanto.

That was what motivated me to finally put the coins into the console and dial my home phone number. The seconds that ticked by with the dial tone seemed to drag on for an eternity. Twice I fought back the urge to slam the end call button. But no, I had to do this.

And then my mom’s face appeared on the screen, flushed with worry that immediately melted into relief.

“Jade! I was starting to worry. You know I don’t mind you going out biking all day with Rudy, but I’d like a check-in if you’re going to be—” She paused, frowning. “Are you… in a Pokémon Center?”

I swallowed. “Yeah.”

“Why?”

Why? To make this phone call. It wasn’t as if I could stay here without a license. But that wasn’t much of an explanation. So I steeled myself as hard as I could and opened my mouth to say the five words I’d been practicing for the last hour which suddenly felt impossible to actually say:

“I’m going on a Pokémon journey.”

There it was. I’d made my decision hours ago, when talking to Ajia, but saying it now made it feel that much more real.

My mom raised an eyebrow. “Oh, really?”

I nodded, forcing my face to look way more confident than I felt. “Yeah.”

“And how exactly do you plan to do that?” she asked in that calm, parental, “I’ll humor you even though you have no idea what you’re saying,” kind of way.

“Well, uh… we both know I’m never gonna pass the test. So, I decided that the best way to learn all that stuff was to experience it myself in the real world. So that’s what I’m gonna do.”

My mom gave an exasperated sigh. “Alright, that’s a good joke, but I’m coming to get you now. Which Pokécenter are you at? It better not be the northside one, you know I don’t like it when you and Rudy bike over there.”

“I’m, uh, in Vermillion City.”

The amusement slowly faded as it dawned on her that I wasn’t joking, and had already taken this idea way further than I should have for just some dumb joke.

“Are you serious? You don’t even have any Pokémon for protection, and—”

“Yes I do!” I immediately shot back.

My mom paused, processing what I’d just said. “You took Swift, didn’t you?”

I nodded eagerly, glad to have proven my point.

She sighed. “Having a Pidgey doesn’t make me that much more comfortable with you being on your own.”

“I’ve got a Charmander and a Pikachu too.” Did I? Did I really have a Pikachu? He was unconscious. I was sure he’d run off the instant he woke up. And yet…

Mom frowned. “How did you catch them?”

“Rudy gave me a Pokéball,” I said. “And plenty of kids travel around with a Charmander for protection, so it’s not a big deal.” Wow, I sure sounded a lot more confident than I felt.

“Well, it’s nice that you don’t think so, but yes, Jade, this is a big deal.” And there it was. The inevitable shutdown that bypassed everything.

“I’m gonna be hanging out with a bunch of other kids!” I immediately protested. “It’ll be safe because there’s a lot of us and we’ve all got Pokémon.” God, I sounded like a twelve-year-old, and I knew it, but I almost didn’t care. Almost.

“How did you meet all of them?”

I paused. “There was this one kid who’s really good at training, and he’s been gathering this big group to help train all of us.”

‘Kid’ was maybe not the best way to describe the Charizard guy, who was clearly at least eighteen or nineteen. Sure sounded a heck of a lot less dodgy, though.

My mom exhaled slowly. “Jade… it’s one thing to spend the day away from home, but this is a little more extreme than that. Have you really thought this through? Where will you sleep? How will you buy food? I can’t exactly put money in a trainer account if you don’t have one.”

I clenched my fists, willing myself not to back down. “I’m just gonna be camping out with the rest of the kids at the trainer grounds, so I don’t need to stay in the Pokémon Center.” Well… it was just gonna be me at the campsite for now… but the other kids that he’d recruited would be here soon, right? “And, and for food, I’ve got my birthday savings.” Actually, the Rockets had stolen all my money, but it wasn’t as if I didn’t have a plan to replace it—that TM I’d stolen from them was pretty valuable, after all.

She folded her arms. “And what if you get caught?”

I paused. That hadn’t occurred to me yet, but… “I’d just get sent home and put on probation, right? I’d be no worse off than I already am.” Hey, it wasn’t as if I didn’t remember anything from the League unit in class. Just not enough to pass the test.

My mom put a hand to her face, still struggling with the enormity of this revelation. “How… how did you even get to Vermilion?”

“Ajia gave me a ride. And that’s where the training group is meeting up.”

“Ajia’s in on this too?” she asked with a weary look. “I was expecting Rudy, but I thought she was a better influence than that.” My mom sighed deeply, taking off her glasses. “Well, I’m glad you’ve at least put some thought into all of this. But there’s a right way to do it, and this? This isn’t it.”

“What is the right way, then? Waiting until I’m old and I can’t even do it because I’m too busy with adult stuff?” Oh geez, now the emotions were rushing to my face. I could feel my cheeks heating up and a prickle at the corners of my eyes.

My mom’s face relaxed. “Jade. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to go on a Pokémon journey when you’re a kid. It’s probably one of the most important parts of growing up. But you’ve got to get your license first.”

“I’m never gonna get a license if I just stay in Viridian and fail the test every year. Doing it for real is a way better way for me to learn all this stuff firsthand,” I insisted.

For several seconds, neither of us said anything. I couldn’t tell what my mom what thinking. Her expression didn’t give any indication.

“You know, I don’t think I’ve ever heard you so serious about anything in your life.”

Of course I was serious about it. I’d wanted this ever since Starr left. Wanted it even more when Ajia left. With each passing month, the odds of being able to go on a journey felt more and more distant. And now, with the opportunity to join the anti-Rocket team handed to me on a silver platter, I could actually learn from a master trainer, and have the chance to put those skills to use actually helping save Legendary Pokémon. I could stop wasting my time at home and actually make a difference in the world.

“I always thought, if getting your license meant so much to you, you would have…” My mom shook her head, ignoring that thought. Then she fixed me with a hard stare. “Do you know where the nearest League office is?”

I sat up straight. “I could look it up on the internet.”

“If I let you go through with this crazy plan of yours, you can’t just train Pokémon illegally forever. You can only do this if you go take the exam and get your license the moment you think you’re ready.”

My heart jumped into my throat. “Yes! Definitely!”

“And that doesn’t mean just putting it off forever, either. I know how you can be.” What was that supposed to mean? “I want to see you with a license by your fifteenth birthday, otherwise you’re coming straight home, you hear me?”

I nodded even more vigorously as my entire body suddenly felt lighter than air. This was real. This was actually happening. I was starting a Pokémon journey. Finally.

My mom’s expression softened, just a bit. “You know, I would’ve preferred if you’d told me this plan before you’d just gone and done it,” she said, shaking her head.

“I wasn’t planning on dropping it out of nowhere like this,” I admitted. “It just sort of… happened. And before I knew it, I was… out here.”

“Just don’t expect me to cover for you if the League sends your butt back to Viridian, alright?” she added, bringing back the hard stare. “You get put on probation, that means no license until you’re sixteen, got it?”

I nodded.

“And I want updates on how your training is going. This is supposed to be a learning experience, isn’t it?”

I grinned. “Sure, I can do that.”

“Lastly… stay safe, alright?”

And for the first moment since I’d scored this victory, I felt my face falter just a bit. “Safe.” My mind flashed back to the moment that had kickstarted all of this. Kidnapped. Fighting for my life aboard a Rocket jet. And now I was becoming a trainer solely to learn how to fight back against the Rockets, which would no doubt involve even more deadly situations. It was probably the least safe thing I could imagine. But to stop them from capturing the Legendaries and taking over our entire region… it was worth it.

“Yeah. Of course.”
 
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Ambyssin

Winter can't come soon enough
Well, it's been awhile. Though I suppose something short is a good way to easy back into it. Of course, given the placement of this, all I can really say about it is how hilarious it is to read in hindsight of all the things that go completely wrong after it. I hope that's the effect you were intending, because I can't see the flashback as heartwarming or anything in the greater context of the story that you've put it in. It's just... there, going, "Hey remember when there wasn't giant explosions and death everywhere?" Not to say there isn't anything wrong with the scene. It works a conversation between Jade and her (rightly worried) mom over an incredibly asinine plan and the whole thing is laced with Jade's knowledge that is lying through her teeth in many respects. But she's not completely beating herself up over it for the sake of melodrama. This is really all I can say as far as constructive thoughts. So, let's have snark! :p

So I steeled myself as hard as I could and opened my mouth to say the five words I’d been practicing for the last hour but suddenly found it impossible to actually say:

“I’m going on a Pokémon journey.”
If she suddenly found it so impossible to say, why is she able to say it without any hesitation? :confused:

“It’ll be safe because there’s a lot of us and we’ve all got Pokémon.”
Oh-ho, Jade... sweetie... *puts hand on shoulder* I've got some bad news for you...

Doing it for real is a way better way for me to learn all this stuff firsthand,” I insisted.
An illegal internship! Because those always work in the movies, right? :V

You can only do this if you go take the exam and get your license the moment you think you’re ready.”
Yeah, I don't see that happening. :p

“And that doesn’t mean just putting it off forever, either. I know how you can be.” What was that supposed to mean? “I want to see you with a license by your fifteenth birthday, otherwise you’re coming straight home, you hear me?”
I really don't see that happening.

I grinned. “Sure, I can do that.”
She says, as the author crosses her fingers behind her back for her. XD
 

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Okay, I officially want to give Firestorm a hug. Lord do I ever feel for the guy. Feeling the constant spectre of failure at your heels, over your head--even, and perhaps especially, when it's largely just something imagined or feared to exist--not exactly fun, to put it absurdly mildly. But when it's all tangled up with death in the past--and the fear of more to come? Damn. That's gotta be leagues worse. Poor guy. I'm glad he and Jade have managed a breakthrough where all that's concerned. Lord knows he needed it.

And oh gosh, that extra. Reading through it, knowing what sorts of things happened after then? Is an Experience. "It'll be safe," she says. It'll be safe. Ahahahahaha... ha... :')
 

Chibi Pika

Stay positive
Well, it's been awhile. Though I suppose something short is a good way to easy back into it. Of course, given the placement of this, all I can really say about it is how hilarious it is to read in hindsight of all the things that go completely wrong after it. I hope that's the effect you were intending, because I can't see the flashback as heartwarming or anything in the greater context of the story that you've put it in.
Are you kidding? Of course that's what I was going for. xD The only benefit to my writing this now as opposed to back when it actually was supposed to happen is that I get to shove two cubic tons of cruel irony into it.
If she suddenly found it so impossible to say, why is she able to say it without any hesitation? :confused:
Lol, wow, you're right, that line is silly.
Oh-ho, Jade... sweetie... *puts hand on shoulder* I've got some bad news for you...
Writing this was so much fun. :'D
She says, as the author crosses her fingers behind her back for her. XD
Hey, hey! I have been setting up Jade getting her license ever since the Rebellion ended! xD She can't hold out forever! And she's not quite fifteen yet, either. ;P

Okay, I officially want to give Firestorm a hug.
Firestorm absolutely deserves all the hugs, so go ahead. :3
Lord do I ever feel for the guy. Feeling the constant spectre of failure at your heels, over your head--even, and perhaps especially, when it's largely just something imagined or feared to exist--not exactly fun, to put it absurdly mildly. But when it's all tangled up with death in the past--and the fear of more to come? Damn. That's gotta be leagues worse. Poor guy. I'm glad he and Jade have managed a breakthrough where all that's concerned. Lord knows he needed it.
It's been such a long time coming, but it felt really good to give him and Jade that moment.
And oh gosh, that extra. Reading through it, knowing what sorts of things happened after then? Is an Experience. "It'll be safe," she says. It'll be safe. Ahahahahaha... ha... :')
This is precisely why I wrote it like that. 8)


Thank you both for your comments! ^^ And... I think I might just go ahead and post Chapter 30 today? It's not like I need to wait for everyone to read the extra, seeing as the extra was pretty non-essential. And let's be real, Chapter 30 is what people have actually been waiting for all this time. So... yeah. Think I'm gonna do it.

~Chibi~
 

Chibi Pika

Stay positive
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I have no idea why this chapter took so long, and I still wish that this gap had been after Chapter 30, not 29, seeing as that’s where the time skip is. But I’m just glad to have it done.


~ Chapter 30: To a New Tomorrow~

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I arrived at the League registration office and barely even had to wait—it wasn’t as if very many people applied for their license in November. And I was already in the system as having passed all the required classes. All that was left was the exam. The dreaded exam that had thwarted my last two attempts to become a trainer.

As the examiner led me into the back room, I expected to feel… something. Fear. Anxiety. The pain of past failure burning a hole in the back of my mind. But now? After everything I’d been through? Enduring countless battles, calming unruly experiments, facing down raging Legendaries? This was nothing.

The test ran through everything from wild Pokémon interactions, trained Pokémon handling, conflict resolution, trainer interactions, League policies, Pokémon rights, and yes, even the dreaded battling that had once been the bane of my existence. Two hours later and the results were in my hands and I was staring down at a passing grade. For years I’d imagined how this moment would feel. I’d imagined it would be my grandest triumph, finally beating the unjust system that had kept me trapped in Viridian for two long years. But now, in the moment… I mostly just felt relieved to finally have it finally over with. No rush of excitement. No explosion of joy. Just… relief.

I was finally, finally going to be a real Pokémon trainer. And I’d done it before my fifteenth birthday, just like I’d said.

So I told the staff I wouldn’t be needing a starter Pokémon, as I already had one lined up elsewhere. The first Pokémon registered under my ID would get logged as my starter, in this case. It only seemed fitting that it should be Swift—the only one who had been with me since before it all began.

I’d pick up a Pokédex later. I’d need one if I wanted access to things like the automatic payment system, online storage system, or automatic Pokémon registration. And I’d want those things eventually, but for now, just having a trainer ID was enough.

And so I found myself walking down the streets of Viridian, staring at the glossy card in my palm, part of me still not convinced that it was real. What next? There were almost too many options. I could go meet up with Ajia and Starr right away. I could finally follow up with the texts that Darren had sent me. I could call home and show that I’d finally upheld my end of the bargain, the one that had gotten me allowed to go on this journey in the first place. But first, and perhaps most importantly, I had to share the news with my Pokémon. After all, this was going to have a big impact on their lives from now on. And… there was still one thing I hadn’t considered until now—the experiments. All three of them had only joined me because I’d been fighting Team Rocket. Turning my back on that fight meant saying goodbye to the one thing that had brought us together. And for all I knew, it was the only thing keeping us together. The sooner I told them, the better. And if they wanted to leave, then…

I sighed. No sense putting it off. I veered off from the sidewalk into an open lot between two buildings. Then I grabbed all five of my Pokéballs and opened them. Seeing them now, lined up together—Pidgeot, Charizard, Pikachu, Flygon, Absol—I couldn’t help but feel a swelling of pride in the team I’d brought together throughout the past few months. Even if a few of them might not be around for much longer.

“*So you two really evolved, huh?*” Aros asked, tilting his head to get a good look at Swift and Firestorm. The latter blushed and glanced away, his evolution obviously still a sore topic.

“*Well, congrats,*” the Flygon went on. “*Our fights might be a bit fairer now.*” He smirked. As if he cared at all about having a fair fight.

“So, I’ve got a bit of an announcement,” I said, holding up my trainer ID for all of them to see. “I’m finally a real Pokémon trainer.”

The significance of this was lost on the experiments, whose expressions varied between confusion and apathy.

“*You weren’t a trainer before?*” Aros asked dismissively. “*Then what were you?*”

But before I could figure out how to answer that, Firestorm cut in with, “*You passed the test?*” His eyes glinted with an enthusiasm that I hadn’t yet seen on his face as a Charizard.

“*I knew you’d be able to do it someday,*” Swift added, beaming.

It was silly, but seeing my first two Pokémon looking so proud of me, well… now I really couldn’t help but feel proud of it. Even if it wasn’t that big a deal—the kind of accomplishment that kids three years younger than me commonly pulled off.

Aros glanced back and forth between us, still confused. “*Huh. So you’re a trainer now, or whatever. Does that actually change anything?*”

I almost chuckled under my breath. “No not really. Just makes things easier for me, that’s all.” But then my mind snapped back to what I’d really called them all out to tell them. “It’s… not the only news, though,” I went on slowly, my mouth going dry. “I’m still going to be training in Johto, but I’m not going to be meeting up with Stalker and I’m not joining his resistance.”

The Flygon tilted his head, antennae twitching. “*Why not?*”

I exhaled slowly through my nose. “He’s… on the Johto force. He was just using us to get back at the Kanto force. He wasn’t trying to protect the Legendaries—his force has been catching them after we save them.”

That got more of a reaction out of everyone.

Firestorm jerked his head toward me. “*What?*” he asked, eyes wide. “*You can’t be serious.*”

Unsure of what else to say, I just nodded. Several seconds passed with nothing but stunned silence from all of them.

“*I’m so sorry,*” Swift said, lowering his head. “*That must have been hard to learn.*”

I clenched my fists and looked away. “Yeah, it… it definitely hurt.”

“*So that’s why you’re not going to fight Team Rocket anymore?*” Stygian asked, fixing her large, crimson eyes on me.

Aros jolted, throwing a glance at the Absol. “*Wait, you knew about this?*”

“*Just the part about leaving the fight. I didn’t know about Stalker.*” Right, she’d been in the room when I’d told Ajia. So had Chibi, for that matter. My eyes slid toward the Pikachu, who hadn’t given any visible reactions to anything so far. He was just staring at the ground, deep in thought.

“*Wait, but… what does this mean for us?*” Aros went on, still confused. He glanced back and forth between Stygian and Chibi, then back at me with an imploring look.

I sighed. “Well… I know you three joined me because that’d give you the opportunity to strike back against Team Rocket. You won’t be able to do that if you stay with me now. So… I guess what I’m saying is you’re free to go, if you want.”

“*Go where?*” the Flygon asked blankly.

I shrugged. “I don’t know. You’re all strong Pokémon, you could probably live wherever you wanted. I guess we can look up where your kind is from, if that’s what you mean.”

He shook his head, tail lashing back and forth. “*That’s not…*” His voice trailed off.

Stygian gave him a rough nudge with her shoulder. “*Just say what’s on your mind,*” she said bluntly.

The Flygon shot a glare at her, but then stared downward, twiddling his claws. Finally, he said, “*I don’t want to live in the wild.*”

I blinked. “I mean, you don’t have to go if you don’t want to,” I added quickly.

Aros flattened his wings. “*But I can’t just stay with you if you’re not fighting the Rockets anymore.*”

Firestorm gave him a skeptical look. “*Why not?*” I couldn’t help wondering the same thing.

The Flygon squinted at us from behind his red eye lenses. “*How am I supposed to…? How would I ever…*” He let out a frustrated huff and vibrated his wings to float a couple dozen yards from us, sulking over by one of the buildings lining the lot. Stygian stared after him as he left, shaking her head slightly.

“What about you?” I asked her.

She turned to face me, considering me carefully. “*I’d be fine with the wild. He’s just soft. Couldn’t even catch his own prey.*”

I winced. Well that seemed a bit harsh. Lots of human-raised Pokémon had trouble with that, and it wasn’t exactly hard to see why.

“*That whole ‘needing to get back at the Rockets’ thing has always been an excuse,*” she went on.

“What’s stopping him from just staying, then?” I asked her.

The Absol pawed the ground, furrowing her brow. “*Well… okay. There’s a bit more to it than that. But that’s the gist of it.*”

I stared. That really didn’t answer my question at all. But by now Aros was looking back at us from where he’d flown off to, swishing his tail fan in agitation. Stygian let out a sigh, then trotted over to him. The two experiments conversed away from the rest of us for a few minutes while I just stood there feeling awkward. Firestorm made eye contact with me and gave a clueless shrug, so at least I wasn’t the only one confused. I glanced down at Chibi, who still hadn’t said anything. He didn’t give any sign that he was going to, either. Which meant that it was probably best if I speak with him alone, like we usually did.

“*Just go if you want to, then!*” Aros yelled out of the blue, grabbing all of our attention.

Stygian smacked his leg with a paw. “*Idiot! I’m not leaving without you.*”

I jammed my hands in my pockets and did my best to look like I hadn’t noticed. And I was suddenly struck by the realization that out of all my Pokémon, I knew the two clones the least. Sure, Chibi wasn’t very open with his emotions, and Firestorm had held his fair share of secrets until recently. But at least I knew them. And, well, it kind of made sense. The two of them hadn’t even technically been on my team until… what, five days ago? Longest five days of my life, but still.

After several minutes, the two clones slowly made their way back to the rest of us.

“So… is it alright if I ask what that was about?” I asked, halfway expecting to get chewed out just for asking.

Aros snapped his eyes to mine, wings flaring. “*Look, I could live in the wild just fine if I wanted to. I just don’t want to,*” he said, pointing a claw at me.

I really didn’t believe that at all anymore, but I nodded to spare his feelings on the matter.

The Flygon relaxed slightly, lowering his wings. He glanced once at Stygian, then back to me. “*Okay, look… If we’re gonna stay with you, then you owe it to us to do something that isn’t boring.*”

I blinked, completely not expecting that kind of one-eighty. I flashed a questioning look at Stygian, as if to ask ‘what the heck did you say to him?’, but the Absol didn’t respond.

“We’d… be traveling across the region,” I began slowly. “Seeing new places. Having new experiences.”

Aros cocked his head to the side, unimpressed.

“…And battling new opponents, yes,” I added. Typical.

The Flygon exhaled sharply through his nose, giving a curt nod. “*That is acceptable.*”

I gave a sigh of relief and smiled weakly. “Alright, glad to have that settled. And… thanks. I appreciate it.” That last part was mostly directed at Stygian, who just shrugged dismissively.

I recalled all of my Pokémon except for Chibi. And I was about to ask him his thoughts on the news, but then… something occurred to me. Something else I’d been wondering since I’d first woken up after the attack.

“Can I ask you… what you think of me? After what I did to Lugia.”

The hybrid took several seconds to mull the question over. “*I think you were an idiot. But you already knew that,*” he said simply.

That was it? Nothing about how I’d basically betrayed the cause that we’d dedicated ourselves to for months? How I was the same as the Rockets?

“Nothing else?”

He opened a single eye and peered at me through its corner. “*I trust you had your reasons. I also trust you know to never do anything that stupid ever again.*”

He wasn’t wrong. I’d done what was probably the stupidest thing I’d ever done in my life. And yet, I’d survived. How? That single nagging question had returned in full force.

“Did you see what happened after I blacked out?”

He shook his head. “*After Lugia threw me away, I ran to get Stygian and your friends. By the time we got back, Lugia was gone.*”

“What about the Master Ball?”

“*I wasn’t exactly looking for it. I had more pressing concerns,*” he said flatly.

I rubbed the back of my head. “Eh… right.” In any case, that wasn’t the main reason I’d wanted to talk to him in private. “So… when I asked the others if they were alright with me leaving the fight… What are your thoughts?” I asked, already anxious to hear his answer.

He stared at me, unblinking. “*You know I can’t just ignore what they’re doing to the Legendaries. It’s too big a part of what I am.*”

I closed my eyes. “I know.”

Several seconds passed. He let out a sigh and then said, “*But I don’t want it to be all that I am.*”

My eyes snapped open, meeting his. The hybrid’s gaze had softened, his ears raised slightly.

“*It’s like you said. I want to live for myself. It’s what he would’ve… It’s what I want. But I have to discover what that means first.*” He paused. “*Same as you.*”

Chibi had a point. After all, that was what I was planning right now, wasn’t it? Traveling around, finding my own path as a Pokémon trainer, free from the pain and trauma of the past.

Hesitantly, I replied, “I’d like it if we could both figure out what that means… together.”

He smiled faintly, giving a slow head shake. “*We can’t hide from the past forever.*”

“Maybe not. But I think we deserve a break,” I said, giving a weak smile of my own.

I held out my hand, just the same way I had when I’d asked him to join me in the fight so long ago. And now I was asking him to join me in leaving the fight.

The Pikachu stared at my hand for a long while. Finally, he reached out a paw and said, “*You’re probably right.*”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My next destination took me to Route 8, past the expansive urbanization of Saffron and over the rolling grasslands crisscrossed with roads that led towards Lavender on the coast. I’d flown this same path plenty of times—mostly when returning to Midnight Island from Celadon HQ—but it had always been at night, and I’d never quite gotten to appreciate the waves of gold sweeping through the fields with the wind.

It wasn’t hard to find Darren. Since we were still using R-coms for communication, I had the exact coordinates. I pointed out a cluster of trees running along the trainer path, and Swift folded his wings back to spiral down towards it. I clutched his feathers tightly as we descended. I still hadn’t quite gotten used to how much swooping momentum there was to his flight—nothing like the straight-line hovering of Aros’s insect-like wings—and there were times it felt like I was going to slide right off his back. But the Pidgeot levelled out his flight gradually, and the two of us landed softly on one of the dirt paths that cut through the grassland. Not too far from us, I spotted Darren reclining against his Venusaur, who appeared to be napping against a tree.

“Hey, good to see you’re not dead,” he said, waving as I walked over.

I snorted. “That’s more relevant than you know.”

His face fell. “Oh geez. And here I thought we were done with that. But I guess you said you were joining Stalker in Johto, huh?”

I shook my head. “Not anymore, I’m done with Stalker. This was a different thing. And it’s… kind of the reason I ditched you in Lavender,” I said sheepishly.

“Yeah, I was starting to think you weren’t just getting your license,” he said, chuckling a bit. “Guessing it was something more important?”

I grimaced. “Yeah, I… there was a bit of an emergency situation with an old friend of mine. It’s hard to explain, but—”

The awkwardness on my face must have been blatantly obvious, because he cut me off with, “You don’t gotta tell me if you don’t want to. But did it work out in the end?”

I blinked. I hadn’t really been expecting that kind of question, but looking back at it… all the fear, all the pain, all the stress from the past few days, and in the end, things had mostly worked out.

“Yeah. It did.”

He folded his arms behind his head and grinned. “Sounds like it was worth it then. Better than we can say about some of our missions.”

I couldn’t help giving a small laugh. “You can say that again. In any case, you weren’t wrong about one thing.” I reached into my pocket and held up my shiny new trainer’s license.

Darren’s eyes lit up. “Heeyyy, nice job, told you you’d pass,” he said, elbowing me lightly.

“Yeah, I really shouldn’t have waited this long, but… I’m just glad to have it done with,” I said with a relieved grin.

Darren nodded, putting a hand to his chin. “So what’s your plan now? Gonna do the Kanto League with Rudy? Well, wait, you said you didn’t want to go into competitive battling, right?”

I winced. I would’ve had to explain it eventually, even if I didn’t want to. “Actually… that situation I mentioned with my old friend. It’s not really safe for either of us here in Kanto. And she doesn’t really have anywhere to go, so… I told her I’d be sticking with her.”

Darren gave me a sideways glance. “Only came back to say you’d be ditching us again, I see how it is,” he said with a smirk.

I opened my mouth to protest, but before I could get the words out, he cut me off with, “I’m just messing with you. It’s not like you said you’d be traveling with us or anything.”

“I was gonna say,” I said, laughing slightly. “You had me worried there.”

Darren leaned back against Venusaur, idly stroking the reptile’s leaves. “Besides, I’ll be sticking with Rudy. He acts like he doesn’t want me following him, but he hasn’t told me to leave yet.”

I glanced around. “Where is Rudy, anyway?”

“Out in the tall grass that way,” Darren said, pointing toward the hills to the south.

“Cool, thanks. I’m gonna go talk to him,” I said, setting off in that direction.

“Also, just so you know, I’m not letting you off the hook for those two Pokéballs,” Darren called after me.

I spun around and called back, “Wasn’t expecting you to. Since I’ve got my license now, I can actually make good on that.”

I trudged through dry, crunchy grass that reached up to my knees. A pair of Growlithe atop the nearest hill leered down at me as though looking for a fight, but then saw that I didn’t have any Pokémon out and realized they probably weren’t going to get one. Then something grabbed their attention and they tore off into the grass.

I continued walking deeper into the field until a flash of black caught my eye off in the distance. I squinted at it until I was able to make out the form of a lithe, black dog leaping in and out of the grass. A Houndoom. So I was close. Sure enough, once I rounded the hill, there he was, dressed in a winter jacket but also still wearing his usual cargo shorts despite the cold autumn wind.

“Hey, how’s it going?” I asked, giving a small wave as I neared.

Rudy turned. He smiled, but his eyes held a faint heaviness.

“We’re just working on some of her dark moves,” he replied. “Never really practiced them before ‘cause I always just stuck with fire.”

I cupped my hands over my eyes as I squinted out at the rolling grassland. Now that I was paying closer attention, I could see that Ebony wasn’t just vanishing into the grass, she was literally vanishing, her body fading in and out in a flash of darkness. But once she noticed that she had another onlooker, the Houndoom quickly came trotting back to us, her tongue hanging out of her mouth.

“That was… really good,” I said.

Rudy gave me a sideways grin. “Yeah, I’m pretty sure she learned it from the experiments, I just never drilled her on it ‘til yesterday.”

Ebony bounced lightly in front of me, eyes shining. “*Absol taught me!*”

“Really? I’ll have to let her know you’re doing so well with it.”

The Houndoom beamed. Then her tail pricked up and she swung her head roughly in the opposite direction. I followed her gaze to see the same pair of Growlithe that had been eyeing me earlier, now leering at Ebony from the top of a nearby hill

“Looks like you’ve got some new opponents. Go get ‘em, Ebony.”

She took off bounding through the tall grass, full of endless energy as she tackled the opposing firedogs. Just like all the times I’d seen her roughhousing with Chloe back in the days before Rudy became a trainer. How was the Growlithe doing, anyway? She’d probably been sadder to see him leave with Ebony than I ever was.

We stood there, watching the Houndoom blink in and out of view with wisps of black smoke clinging to her body. It was actually a bit weird seeing her battling without managing to accidentally set fire to everything and needing… and needing Wartortle to put out the flames.

“So. How are you really doing?” I asked, giving Rudy a meaningful look.

He gave me a sideways glance, then closed his eyes with a low sigh. “Trying my best to stay together. Y’know… for hers and the others’ sakes.”

I nodded softly. That was probably the most that anyone could ask.

“How are the others doing?”

He exhaled slowly, shuffling his foot against the grass. “Aside from Ebony, Nidorino took it the hardest. I never even noticed he was close with Wartortle.”

I hadn’t noticed either. I hadn’t noticed a lot of things. I hadn’t been there for a lot of things either.

“I’m… I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you after the attack.”

Rudy didn’t respond for some time. He just gazed off into the distance, his expression blank. “I can’t really blame you for that. You were dealing with a lot of crap, too.”

“You tried to be there for that, though.”

“Yeah, well…” He sighed, staring downward and running a hand through his hair spikes. “We all had crap to deal with, in our own way. No one was really in a spot to be helping anyone out.”

I grimaced, mind flashing back to that night. Still in shock from Razors’s sacrifice, unable to help him, or Chibi, or myself, or anyone.

“I don’t think I ever took the Rebellion seriously,” Rudy spoke up, suddenly turning to face me. “It was all just a game, y’know? Like, it was dangerous, but somehow… things would always work out. They just… would.”

I swallowed. “It wasn’t like either of us were really ready for it.” We were just kids. Stalker had known that. In retrospect, he’d probably been banking on that. Sure, I’d spent all my time constantly worrying about everything that could go wrong, but there were times where I’d envied Rudy’s carefree view. Maybe that was also naive of me.

We’d both been naive. It felt like we’d aged years in just the past few months.

“I’ve thought about quitting training, you know.”

I jolted. “Why?”

Rudy shuffled his foot against the dirt, mulling over what to say. “I guess… I wasn’t sure if I deserved to be a trainer. After what happened.” He clenched his fists. “I keep trying to think of ways to make up for it, but there’s nothing. It was only him. He was the only one I treated like that, and I don’t even know why. How screwed up is that?”

It was only Wartortle. And now it was too late to change that.

I sighed. “It sucks, but trying to do better is, well, better than nothing. Even if you don’t know how to do that.”

He was silent for a long time. But then his face relaxed slightly. “Y’know Darren said the same thing. Hate to admit it, but he’s right. Giving up, quitting… that’s the easy road.” He straightened his back, clenching his fists at his side. “I… think I’m gonna keep training. I owe it to my Pokémon. And, I dunno… maybe I’ll figure out how to do better from there?”

Rudy unclipped a Pokéball from his belt and stared at it for a few seconds, rolling it around in his palm. “I caught a Buizel the other day. I don’t know, I just felt like… like I needed a new team member and it should probably be a water-type to make up for the way that I…” He paused and shook his head. “That’s a stupid reason to catch a Pokémon. I think I knew it was stupid, because I haven’t even let the Buizel out at all. It might not even know I caught it.”

Several seconds passed. I wasn’t quite sure what he was getting at until he roughly thrust the Pokéball in my direction. “Here.”

I stared blankly. “What.”

“Take it. I shouldn’t have it,” he said, giving the ball a shake for emphasis.

My eyes flickered between the ball and his face, which was deathly serious. “Are you… sure?”

He glanced away. “I still owe you for letting me train Pikachu. Consider it my half of a trade.” It was obviously just an excuse. But not a bad one. It at least got me considering it. The chance to train a new team member. One who didn’t have the same awful past with Team Rocket as the rest of us. Something about it felt… symbolic. A clean start to training.

I held out my hand. “Yeah. Okay, thanks.”

Rudy dropped the Pokéball into my open palm and then shoved his hands in his pockets, nodding forcefully like he was glad to have that settled.

“So where you off to now?” he asked.

I opened my mouth to answer. But then something grabbed me about the way he’d said it, and I realized that he wouldn’t have asked if he hadn’t already known that I wasn’t going to be joining him. Or at least, he’d already figured.

“I’m going to Johto. After all that Rocket stuff, I wanna stay away from the Kanto force as much as I can.”

He folded his arms. “Johto, huh? Can’t say I had any plans to head out there until after I’ve seen all of Kanto.”

I’d already expected that much. Which meant that this was the last time we’d be seeing each other for a long while. And yet…

“I… don’t see why I couldn’t stop back here from time to time though,” I added quickly. “I’m sure my team would love having a battle at some point.”

The faintest trace of a smile crossed Rudy’s face. “We’ll see. If I’m up for it.” He paused. “If my team’s up for it.” He held out his fist.

My chest tightened. I’d come here to say goodbye, and he’d straight-up acknowledged that, and now I was the one having a hard time with it. It hurt, but… we both needed different things out of our journey right now. And hopefully this was the best way for both of us to heal.

I tapped his fist. “See ya around.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A flock of Pidgey took to the air as I stepped out of the tall grass and into a clearing on the western half of route 8. The towering buildings of Saffron rose above the horizon in the distance, and the sun was starting to near them. I pulled my jacket tighter to myself, then took out the Pokéball Rudy had given me. This was as good a spot as any—I opened the ball. A burst of white light spilled out and condensed on the ground in front of me, forming a small, orange-furred creature lying on its side. A Buizel—my new Buizel. Twin cream-tipped tails curled around its body, which still bore the scuffs and scrapes from the battle where Rudy had caught it. Nothing too serious—a potion would handle it. I grabbed one from my bag and began spraying down the weasel’s pelt.

At least, until its eyes snapped open. Without warning, the Buizel leaped away from me, flaring its arm fins to the side to look as big as possible.

“*You’re not the human who caught me,*” it hissed. “*What gives?*”

I paused, a wave of awkwardness washing over me. Right. It had no idea what was going on. How was I supposed to explain it?

“Er… the trainer who caught you… he traded you to me, and—”

“*You can shut yer yap cause I ain’t heard enough humanspeak to know it yet,*” the Buizel said, sticking… her?—it sounded like a her—nose in the air.

And… yeah, trainers didn’t exactly make a habit of trying to hold conversations with freshly-caught wild Pokémon. It usually took a couple weeks for Pokémon to understand human speech, if they hadn’t already heard enough of it from battling trainers while in the wild. Which this one obviously hadn’t.

Feeling rather silly, I grabbed Swift’s Pokéball and let him out.

“Gonna need you to translate,” I told him before launching into an abridged retelling of how Rudy hadn’t felt right about catching the Buizel and had given her to me in return for Pikachu. The sea weasel’s eyes twitched impatiently as Swift relayed the message. Then, without warning, she fired a stream of water right at me. I ducked instinctively, feeling the cold spray as it shot over my head.

I snapped my attention back to the Buizel. “What was that for?!”

“*You didn’t beat me. You didn’t catch me. I don’t gotta listen to anything you say.*” She stuck out her tongue.

I sighed. “Fair enough.” I held up the Pokéball that Rudy had given me—the one that she’d been originally captured in. Then I pressed the center button to open it before tossing it in front of her. She didn’t waste a second. The ball had barely touched the grass before the sea weasel spat a narrow stream of water, soaking the inside of the ball.

The outer shell of a Pokéball was incredibly durable. The internal circuitry? Not so much. Her captured status was as good as gone.

“Run away or battle,” I said firmly.

Some things didn’t need translating.

With a wild, toothy grin, the Buizel generated a swirling pulse of water around her body, shooting forward in an instant. Swift braced himself against the impact, flaring his wings to the side to keep his balance as the weasel struck. He winced a bit from the blow, but other than some soaked belly feathers, didn’t look too damaged. The Buizel’s face fell. She jumped back, aiming a Water Gun at his face, but the Pidgeot took flight in that instant, and the water missed its mark. He flew in a tight circle over his opponent, dodging two more water streams before diving forward, beak glowing brightly.

The Buizel didn’t try to dodge; she braced herself for the hit, obviously hoping to follow up with a counterattack. But Swift’s Aerial Ace completely bowled her over, tearing a streak of red across her fur in the process. I winced. Okay, I might have overestimated how tough this Buizel was. Or underestimated how strong Swift had become. Either way.

But the sea weasel wasn’t down and out yet. She pushed herself up off the ground, staggering slightly, but ultimately managing to keep her footing. Then her paw stomped the dirt and another swirl of water enveloped her, sending her shooting into the air.

This time Swift was ready. Even with the Aqua Jet’s incredible speed, he had the altitude advantage. All he had to do was clap his wings together, unleashing a violent whirlwind below him. The Buizel pushed against it, water spraying everywhere as she struggled to keep her trajectory on-point. And with just a bit more force, she might’ve been able to pull it off. But her jet faltered, and in that instant, the winds swept her up in a tight vortex before slamming her into the dirt.

This time she wasn’t so quick to stand back up. In fact, it wasn’t until several seconds passed that it hit me—I was fighting a wild Pokémon, and I’d just knocked it prone. This was supposed to be where I’d catch it.

I fumbled with my bag. Pokéball, needed to grab a Pokéball (why didn’t I already have one in hand?) I hadn’t even thought to buy any yet—thank god it was standard for new trainers to get five Pokéballs with their license, otherwise I might not have even had one. Finally, my fingers managed to grasp something small and round. I yanked my arm out of the bag, Pokéball now in hand, hit the button to expand it, and then—

Wait. This was actually the first time I’d ever even attempted to catch a Pokémon. What if I missed? The mental image was too embarrassing to bear. And so, resisting the urge to do a full overhand windup like they always did on TV, I gave the ball a light underhand toss. It made contact with the Buizel’s fur and sucked her prone form inside before falling to the ground. I held my breath as it shook once, twice, three times, the center button flashing all the while. And then the flashing stopped.

I exhaled slowly. I’d done it. I’d caught my first Pokémon. After five months of being on this journey, I’d hit the milestone that most trainers hit within the first week. It was surreal. It was also the coolest I’d felt in a long, long time.

After the shock had worn off, I cautiously walked over to where the Pokéball lay motionless.

For the second time today, I let Buizel out of her ball. She materialized on the ground and gave me a dirty look before turning her back to me and setting to work licking her wounds.

“You wanted me to catch you fair and square, so I did. Willing to listen now?”

After Swift repeated my words, Buizel turned from licking her cuts and shot me an incredulous glare. “*Your Pidgeot is way tougher than me. Whaddya need me for, huh?*”

“I don’t ‘need’ you, but I’d like to have you on my team if you’re willing.”

That gave her some pause. She tilted her head, considering my words carefully.

“*How many badges you got?*” she finally asked.

I blinked. “Well… none, but—”

“*What good are you, then?*”

“Look if you’ll just listen…” But Buizel had already gone back to cleaning herself.

Alright. I wasn’t exactly doing a good job of selling myself. Granted, I wasn’t entirely sure why it mattered so much to me, but it just didn’t feel right to take her from Rudy only to immediately release her. Of course, I’d still do it if that was what she really wanted, but…

“If you’re worried that I can’t make you stronger, then you’re wrong,” I said, not really sure where I was going with it.

Buizel didn’t turn to face me, but her ears did twitch slightly. And her licking noticeably slowed.

“I was… part of a team,” I went on, struggling to find the best way to explain it. “A secret team. And we were trained to protect Legendary Pokémon from people trying to hurt them.”

That got a reaction. The water-type spun around, flashing me a skeptical brow raise. “*Nuh-uh.*”

I nodded forcefully. Buizel’s eyes darted toward Swift, and he nodded as well.

“*You’re telling me you guys were heroes?*”

‘Heroes’? That was… a weird way to put it. It didn’t feel quite right to call us that. Not after all our failures. Not after all my failures. But…

“Sure. If that’s how you want to put it.”

Buizel’s mouth hung open in shock. After several seconds, she finally regained herself enough to ask, “*What was it like? What were the Legendaries like?*”

So she was curious now?

“I can tell you all about it if you want. But it’s kind of a long story. You might have to stick with me for a while if you wanna hear all of it.” I gave her a sideways smirk.

Buizel snorted, clearly wise to the game I was playing. And yet, the water-type stood on her hind paws and began walking toward me, shaking her head like she couldn’t believe what she was doing.

“*Yeah, alright fine.*”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wings beat heavily on either side of me—nothing like the smooth, rhythmic buzzing of Aros’s wings. But at the same time, I could get used to flying on Swift. His takeoffs might not have been as smooth, but his feathers made for a warmer, softer grip. And once we reached a high enough altitude, we could just soar effortlessly for miles. There was something undeniably calming about watching the clouds drift by underneath us as the sun slowly sank below them, painting the sky a vibrant pink and tingeing the edges of the clouds a brushfire orange.

Swift was leading the way, and I trusted his navigation well enough to leave it to him. After all, Viridian City and its outskirts had once been his home too. And now, after all this time, we were heading back to Route 22. Where it all began. Where I’d been riding my bike all those months ago, Swift flying overhead as a tiny Pidgey. Where I’d first seen the blazing hillside and Team Rocket trying to catch Entei. Where I’d first been dragged into a war with absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into, all just because I’d wanted to go on a training journey with my friends.

It was weird to think that now, after all this time, that wish was finally coming true. Not at all in the way that I’d thought it would, but it was still happening.

Swift dipped below the clouds, wisps of water vapor trailing from his wingtips. I scanned the ground below, my eyes tracing the dirt path snaking its way through the tall grasses, skirting the edge of the forest as it led up into the highlands, and eventually, to Johto. Swift spotted them long before I did and began his descent. Then I saw them too. Ajia was laughing about something. Starr gave her a light shove but started laughing just the same.

And in that moment, soaring on the back of my first Pokémon, preparing to set out on a journey with my best friends, it stuck me properly that for the first time in a long while, things felt sort of alright. It was easy to forget that Team Rocket wanted all of us dead. It was easy to forget that we had to stay on the move to avoid them. It was easy to forget all of the terrible things that had happened to us.

In that moment, it was easy to pretend that everything was alright.



~END BOOK 1 OF THE LEGENDARIAN CHRONICLES~
 
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Ambyssin

Winter can't come soon enough
Well this was a nice bridge chapter. I admit that I had sort of forgotten about Darren and Rudy in all the commotion and plot twists and "I'm Commander Shepard and I approve this child army" stuff going on. But you gave us some degree of follow-up and closure on them (moreso Rudy) and I can't really complain about that. Perhaps he'll come back into the story, but it still looks like he's lost in a bit of a fog. Here's hoping he finds whatever he's looking for. The scene with Jade's team was good, too. I'm pretty easy to fool, but you managed to (for a moment, anyway) convince me that Stygian and Aros might just up and leave. But, nope, they're around. Jade needs Stygian more than she realizes... this story depends on having a proper edgelord, damn it.

Lastly, the stuff with Buizel is much more light-hearted. Bit of a nitpick, but given Buizel is the only Buizel in this scene, I think referring to her as "The Buizel" reads awkwardly, since she doesn't have any sort of name to warrant a "the." She's just Buizel. That aside, I suppose it's a good transition into – if I'm remembering musings of yours that I've heard correctly – a series of Johto-based filler chapters before everything goes belly-up. And I expect it to go belly up by Chapter 34 or 35, given this story's track record.

I have no idea why this chapter took so long
A wizardpun-loving time dragon did it?

Hey, hey! I have been setting up Jade getting her license ever since the Rebellion ended! xD She can't hold out forever! And she's not quite fifteen yet, either. ;P
I'll believe it when I see–

In the end, it was almost laughable how easily defeated my long-standing troubles with being an illegal Pokémon trainer were.
SEEING IS BELIEVING! ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ

Ebony bounced lightly in front of me, eyes shining. “*Absol taught me!*”
Look at this adorable murder doggo... ready to drag her prey into the shadows.

“I don’t think I ever took the Rebellion seriously,” Rudy spoke up, suddenly turning to face me. “It was all just a game, y’know? Like, it was dangerous, but somehow… things would always work out. They just… would.”
Shane, is that you?

“*You didn’t beat me. You didn’t catch me. I don’t gotta listen to anything you say.*” She stuck out her tongue.
"You don't have enough badges to train me" meme. *Ding!*

And so, resisting the urge to do a full overhand wind up like they always did on TV, I gave the ball a light underhand toss.
First off, wonderful. Second off, the delicious irony here is that Giovanni tosses his Master Balls with a light, casual underhand toss in USUM. In before Jade becomes the new boss of Team Rocket... Breloominati confirmed!

“*How many badges you got?*” she finally asked.

I blinked. “Well… none, but—”

“*What good are you, then?*”
Are we sure Buizel doesn't know Scald because damn she's dishing out the burns!

There was something undeniably calming about watching the clouds drift by underneath us as the sun slowly sank below them
, painting the sky a vibrant pink and tingeing the edges of the clouds a brushfire orange.
Not sure what happened with this part here. XP

In that moment, it was easy to pretend everything was alright.
Sorry, Jade, your author really doesn't like you, so you'll be in trouble again soon.

That'll do it for me. Congrats on finishing book 1. *tosses a conservative amount of confetti*
 

Dragonfree

Just me
Chapter 29

Chibi Pika said:
“*Told you two she wasn’t gonna die,*” Stygian said, yawning widely.

The Pidgeot gave her a bemused look. “*You were not so confident of that before we got here.*” The dark-type scowled at his comment and rotated herself so that she was facing the wall.
Aww, Stygian cares.

I like the descriptions of Jade's physical state here; they feel very real and lend a good sense that the last chapter had actual consequences even if we're not sure how Jade escaped.

Chibi Pika said:
I glanced at my watch—it was a little past noon on Thursday.
Jade's watch, actually working!

Poor Chibi. It's good to see he's admitted to himself that he cares about Jade. I continue to really like their relationship.

Chibi Pika said:
I wasn’t quite sure how much time had passed, but eventually, the door swung open and in walked a woman dressed in a brightly-colored uniform covered in belts and pouches. Her tired eyes and mile-a-minute movement gave off the impression of someone who’d been working all night and was only functional thanks to caffeine.
I enjoy this description; it's short but punchy and conveys a lot of character.

Similarly, the whole sequence with the tests Jade is put through feels very real and just adds to the sense that this is an actual thing that happened to a real person, that psychic damage is an actual meaningful thing.

Chibi Pika said:
“You said my friends brought me here. Can I see them?”
By this point I'd actually been assuming that the friends she was talking about were her Pokémon. I guess the term friends would usually be used for human friends, but Jade treats it like it's obvious she means Starr and Ajia, which I don't think it quite should be.

Chibi Pika said:
She stood up, threw out last confused glance between us, but then walked towards the door.
I guess this should be "one last confused glance"?

Chibi Pika said:
But then her expression softened, and she glanced away. “I just… was really looking forward to us traveling together. And there’s no way that would work out if I had to deal with you going off to fight Rockets all the time. I know it’s selfish, but I don’t care.”
Aw, I love Starr.

The whole deal about Starr being baffled about Ajia's resistance not being a thing anymore reads sort of funnily because I feel like I was assuming the whole time that her big organized revolt thing was over? Were there particular things Starr thought Ajia's group had to still be involved with?

Chibi Pika said:
Ajia sighed and glanced away. “We… had a falling out shortly after the revolt. No one’s seen him since.” She paused, folding her arms tightly around herself. “The commander was the real face of the revolt. When he left… everything fell apart.”
Well, we're definitely going to see him again.

Chibi Pika said:
“I get that you have to keep fighting them—you can’t exactly turn your back on Mew,” I said quietly. “And I guess there’s six other people out there who are in the same boat as you. I don’t know if you’ve met any of them yet, but they should be able to help you, right?”

Ajia opened her mouth to speak but then paused, heavily considering her words. “Right.”
Sooo, presumably Stalker is one, with Latios?

It was nice to see Jade, Ajia and Starr sort of clear the air between them and just be friends again, making apologies and amends. It really feels like healing and a new beginning. I hope we do get to see them just be friends in Johto, though I don't doubt they're going to get entangled in the plot again before too long.

Chibi Pika said:
Much to my surprise, the dragon let out a low, raspy laugh. “*No. He was only my trainer for a few days. But why should that matter? I didn’t serve my trainer well, I didn’t protect him, I didn’t do anything. I never have—even with you.*”
Firestoooorm, that's not how you should think about trainers! You're not there to serve them!

Chibi Pika said:
“*I was always too weak to kill.*”

I paused, staring at him directly, a chill running down my spine. “Firestorm, what are you talking about?”

He twiddled his claws, tail lashing back and forth. “*Anyone who would kill my trainer… I wanted them to die. But the thought scared me because I was too weak to handle it. I was hoping that once I’d evolved, I could—*”
Firestorm noooo

Jade is so good, though. I love her little efforts to just help and make him feel better here. She would've had every right to feel alienated and distrustful of him, but instead she goes straight for help and support and generally being there for him. Firestorm is still a huge bundle of issues but Jade is determined to help him and I'll be looking forward to seeing where that's going from here.


Chapter 5 extra

Chibi Pika said:
‘Kid’ was maybe not the best way to describe the Charizard guy, who was clearly at least eighteen or nineteen. Sure sounded a heck of a lot less dodgy, though.
This got a snorfle out of me. Yeah, this older guy gathering up a bunch of children is... maybe a little shady. Just a little bit.

Oh, Jade, so tiny and innocent. She still seems reasonably aware of what she's doing, though: she knows it'll be dangerous and only tells her mom it'll be safe. I've got to admit, if I were her mom I'd be a bit more concerned about this group of trainers she's with - like, ask who's organizing this, if there are any adults around, what they're going to be doing exactly, etc. Still, though, it's nice to get a little look at Jade's mom; I like her from what we see of her here and for the most part she's very reasonable about this. All in all it's a nice little extra and fills in this little hole in a pretty satisfactory way.


Chapter 30

Chibi Pika said:
So I told the staff I wouldn’t be needing a starter Pokémon, as I already had one lined up elsewhere. The first Pokémon registered under my ID would get logged as my starter, in this case. It only seemed fitting that it should be Swift—the only one who had been with me since before it all began.
I like this a lot. Firestorm may be a starter Pokémon, but he's not Jade's actual first Pokémon, so of course her official starter Pokémon should be Swift. I hadn't really thought about it before but it feels very right.

It's fun to get more insight into Aros here, his fear of living in the wild and the way he needs an excuse to come with Jade. Stygian insisting on sticking with him surprised me, I've got to admit - I haven't felt like they were particularly close in the fic thus far, but it's sweet that she's staying even though she'd be fine in the wild.

It was nice to see Darren again. I really like the way he just doesn't pry into anything and takes everything as it is. It feels like this may be the last time we see him, but I'm kind of hoping not. Meanwhile, we get to see poor Rudy coping with Wartortle's death, trying to reconcile what happened with his conception of himself as a trainer. He's always been such a bundle of energy and he's so tangibly sobered here. I enjoyed Jade apologizing for not being able to be there for him, too.

Rudy trading her Buizel was a nice surprise. As a fan of Buizel and Floatzel, I approve! Jade always needed another team member, and I guess this is it. Her personality seems fun so far, though I'd need to see more of her to fully judge.

Chibi Pika said:
This was supposed to be where I’d catch it
You're missing a period at the end there.

The final scene is a lovely note to end Book 1 on, this calm scene of flying on the freshly-evolved Swift, looking back at the journey thus far and then forward with Starr and Ajia, with something like contentment. All in all, congratulations on the milestone! I can't wait to read Book 2... and to go back and read the old LC thread, of course. :p

Admittedly, though, I was a little confused that Starr and Ajia were together there, because their conversation in chapter 29 suggested Ajia would merely be meeting up with them occasionally, not that they'd be setting off together. Maybe worth some sort of tweak in chapter 29?

Loose ends: we still don't know what happened with Lugia! The obvious answers are that either it decided to let her live - figuring out the purpose of the gambit and taking off with the ball, perhaps - or one of the other legendaries persuaded it to leave her, though presumably if it'd been Mew then Ajia would've known and said something. More interesting possible answer: as Lugia was distracted torturing Jade, somebody else (by which I mean probably Stalker) snuck up, grabbed the Master Ball, and recalled it. That could also be the reason you mentioned the Master Ball cannon had been hidden.
 

diamondpearl876

→ follow your fire.
First off, congrats on finishing Book 1! It's been exciting, having hopped on the Legendarian Chronicles train, and I'm looking forward to Book 2!

The chapter 5 extra is pretty well placed, what with Jade being scolded for not having a license and jumping into the training fray unprepared, then finally, finally getting her license in the last chapter of Book 1 (as you promised me she would, heh). It was a little more depressing than I was expecting for a special, but Jade's enthusiasm for training and "I just can't wait anymore" feels were well written. And I'm always excited to see parents actually having proper conversations with their kids in Pokémon fic, lol; it's even better when the parent doesn't immediately shut down their kid's hopes and dreams, but still tries to teach them responsibility and that not everything can go exactly their way. Like Jade's mom does here. :)

Speaking of Jade getting a license, I think it would've been cool to get more details on the test items there, which could've been done through monologue in the middle of the test. Though I thought it was realistic and a nice touch that she was no longer anxious after all the Team Rocket shenanigans she'd been through, as well as the muted sense of pride she had after passing. I'd simply be relieved in her shoes, too, I think, haha.

I also have to raise an eyebrow at Jade being able to log a pidgeot as a starter. Assuming starters are... not fully evolved 'mon, there's no regulations keeping newbie trainers from possessing such powerful 'mon so early in their career?

It's fitting that Book 1 ends not only with a new team member, but Jade getting to talk to her team and old friends to settle unfinished business. I like that Aros and Chibi and Stygian are all joining here, and the Buizel seems like a whole other feisty creature I'm looking forward to learning about. I also thought Rudy's angst and guilt were well written... I feel bad for him, and I'm glad he's not giving up training. I think he's more dedicated and caring than he gives himself credit for. Also, I might suggest making Jade's team's goals more varied than just "I want to get stronger", though. I guess Swift's got his "I want to be with Jade" thing and Chibi will no doubt be looking for ways to go against Team Rocket in the future, but that's about it. Stygian seems to be hiding something, though I haven't a clue as to what yet, so that's another thing to look forward to.

I’d pick up a Pokédex later. I’d need one if I wanted access to things like the automatic payment system, online storage system, or automatic Pokémon registration. And I’d want those things eventually, but for now, just having a trainer ID was enough.

Just don't put it off forever, Jade. ;P

See you in Book 2~
 

Umbramatic

The Ghost Lord
Disclaimer: This review is of chapters 17-26, including extras for those chapters.

Well, I just finally came back to this fic and holy hell is the catchup a doozy. I really like how you continually ramp up the stakes, going from wham moment to yikes moment and such constantly. In a way it's kinda also a weakness - there's typically only half a chapter to a chapter to breathe, which can occasionally be jarring or at least hard on the emotions.

Speaking of hard on the emotions let's talk about two things in particular! :D

Razors. Oh my [BLEEPING] god Razors. I had so many feels about his death and with how it happened and its effects on poor Chibi it's probably the most impactful death so far.

So far. Knowing you you probably have worse planned.

Also everything Starr oh my god. From the tourture scene to the reveal of who "Astrid" actually was to the parentage thing to the defection has painted her as a much more complex person than I initially thought and that is definitely a good thing. I like that the consequences of her actions with Rocket aren't brushed aside and yet also don't hold character development with her and Jade and their relationship back.

One thing I'll complain about is that the subplot of this Big Legendary War has remained kinda dormant. The last we really saw of it was Suicune and the o r b and there hasn't been much allusion to what's going on there since. Sprinkling a little more foreshadowing to keep readers on their toes there would be nice.

Overall this fic remains supremely entertaining and I can't wait to read the rest of it.

...Eventually. ^_^;
 

Chibi Pika

Stay positive
@Ambyssin:
Well this was a nice bridge chapter. I admit that I had sort of forgotten about Darren and Rudy in all the commotion and plot twists and "I'm Commander Shepard and I approve this child army" stuff going on.
Don't feel too bad, Jade forgot about them too! :V And the old thread didn't show them at all after the attack on Midnight Island, which was just... bad.
But you gave us some degree of follow-up and closure on them (moreso Rudy) and I can't really complain about that. Perhaps he'll come back into the story, but it still looks like he's lost in a bit of a fog. Here's hoping he finds whatever he's looking for.
Rudy is going to change a lot in the eight-month time gap, and I'm actually really looking forward to a certain chapter that will almost entirely focus on him (might as well just come right out and say it's Chapter 39.)
The scene with Jade's team was good, too. I'm pretty easy to fool, but you managed to (for a moment, anyway) convince me that Stygian and Aros might just up and leave. But, nope, they're around. Jade needs Stygian more than she realizes... this story depends on having a proper edgelord, damn it.
The funny thing is that lot of characters are going to rely on her in Book 2 as pretty much everyone gets all heated up and needs her to cool them down.
Lastly, the stuff with Buizel is much more light-hearted. Bit of a nitpick, but given Buizel is the only Buizel in this scene, I think referring to her as "The Buizel" reads awkwardly, since she doesn't have any sort of name to warrant a "the." She's just Buizel.
Ah, that's fair. I actually tried to get a little creative with it by starting out as "the Buizel" but then switching to just "Buizel" the moment Jade captured her, but it does feel a bit weird, yeah.
That aside, I suppose it's a good transition into – if I'm remembering musings of yours that I've heard correctly – a series of Johto-based filler chapters before everything goes belly-up. And I expect it to go belly up by Chapter 34 or 35, given this story's track record.
.....your estimate there is more on-point than you know.
I'll believe it when I see–

SEEING IS BELIEVING! ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ
I love everything about this.
Shane, is that you?
Bwahaha, you know, they do kind of have a similar arc, don't they? xD
"You don't have enough badges to train me" meme. *Ding!*
I like to imagine that while most wild Pokemon don't exactly know what badges are per se, they've heard that badges are a thing that measures how good a human is (although I doubt most of them know how many is a good number.)
Are we sure Buizel doesn't know Scald because damn she's dishing out the burns!
Pffft, you know, she might. ;D
Sorry, Jade, your author really doesn't like you, so you'll be in trouble again soon.
*whistles innocently.*
That'll do it for me. Congrats on finishing book 1. *tosses a conservative amount of confetti*
Thanks! :D Loved reading your comments as usual! Can't wait to start posting Book 2!

@Dragonfree:
I like the descriptions of Jade's physical state here; they feel very real and lend a good sense that the last chapter had actual consequences even if we're not sure how Jade escaped.
I'm glad! There were basically zero side effects in the old version, so I wanted it to feel more serious this time, even if Lugia was just going for pain.
Jade's watch, actually working!
Hey it's only a bit of psychic damage. xD
By this point I'd actually been assuming that the friends she was talking about were her Pokémon. I guess the term friends would usually be used for human friends, but Jade treats it like it's obvious she means Starr and Ajia, which I don't think it quite should be.
Oh, that's interesting! I feel a little silly that that thought never crossed my mind.
Well, we're definitely going to see him again.
what no
Sooo, presumably Stalker is one, with Latios?
Leaving this here for later.
It was nice to see Jade, Ajia and Starr sort of clear the air between them and just be friends again, making apologies and amends. It really feels like healing and a new beginning. I hope we do get to see them just be friends in Johto, though I don't doubt they're going to get entangled in the plot again before too long.
Getting to write the three of them as actual friends finally was a lot of fun (even if yeah, it's not gonna be very long before the plot catches up with them again.)
Jade is so good, though. I love her little efforts to just help and make him feel better here. She would've had every right to feel alienated and distrustful of him, but instead she goes straight for help and support and generally being there for him. Firestorm is still a huge bundle of issues but Jade is determined to help him and I'll be looking forward to seeing where that's going from here.
I've actually figured out more where I want to go with his arc since writing Chapter 29! I'm quite looking forward to it now.
This got a snorfle out of me. Yeah, this older guy gathering up a bunch of children is... maybe a little shady. Just a little bit.
Bwaha yeah. (It's also amusing for another reason that I can't reveal yet.)
Oh, Jade, so tiny and innocent. She still seems reasonably aware of what she's doing, though: she knows it'll be dangerous and only tells her mom it'll be safe. I've got to admit, if I were her mom I'd be a bit more concerned about this group of trainers she's with - like, ask who's organizing this, if there are any adults around, what they're going to be doing exactly, etc. Still, though, it's nice to get a little look at Jade's mom; I like her from what we see of her here and for the most part she's very reasonable about this. All in all it's a nice little extra and fills in this little hole in a pretty satisfactory way.
Yeah, I know I could have pushed the questions a bit further, but I'm just glad I was able to write the damn thing at all, seeing as all previous attempts to write any parental figures for Jade ended in total failure. xD
It's fun to get more insight into Aros here, his fear of living in the wild and the way he needs an excuse to come with Jade. Stygian insisting on sticking with him surprised me, I've got to admit - I haven't felt like they were particularly close in the fic thus far, but it's sweet that she's staying even though she'd be fine in the wild.
I'm looking forward to finally getting to explain Aros's complex in Book 2. As for Stygian, well a lot of that is down to her being too cool to care about things, or let on that she does, anyway, so there hasn't been much of a chance to show it yet, but Aros is basically her idiot brother that's going to get himself into trouble without her.
It was nice to see Darren again. I really like the way he just doesn't pry into anything and takes everything as it is. It feels like this may be the last time we see him, but I'm kind of hoping not. Meanwhile, we get to see poor Rudy coping with Wartortle's death, trying to reconcile what happened with his conception of himself as a trainer. He's always been such a bundle of energy and he's so tangibly sobered here. I enjoyed Jade apologizing for not being able to be there for him, too.
Both will be returning in Chapter 32!
Rudy trading her Buizel was a nice surprise. As a fan of Buizel and Floatzel, I approve! Jade always needed another team member, and I guess this is it. Her personality seems fun so far, though I'd need to see more of her to fully judge.
So, fun fact: Buizel was specifically created because I had an arc I wanted to write, and needed a character to fill that arc. So her character creation went as follows:
  1. Character arc.
  2. Personality (chosen to best serve the arc)
  3. Gender (because Jade's team skewed male)
  4. Type (because Rudy misguidedly went out to catch a water-type)
  5. Species (raiding the HGSS encounter tables again.)
Which is like, completely backwards from how I usually write characters. xD
The final scene is a lovely note to end Book 1 on, this calm scene of flying on the freshly-evolved Swift, looking back at the journey thus far and then forward with Starr and Ajia, with something like contentment. All in all, congratulations on the milestone! I can't wait to read Book 2... and to go back and read the old LC thread, of course. :p
no stop

(Incidentally, I'll be posting that chapter equivalence guide on how to read the old thread soon!)
Admittedly, though, I was a little confused that Starr and Ajia were together there, because their conversation in chapter 29 suggested Ajia would merely be meeting up with them occasionally, not that they'd be setting off together. Maybe worth some sort of tweak in chapter 29?
Ah, yeah, I suppose that was a bit odd. ^^; They do end up parting ways shortly afterward, I just wanted to end the fic with the three of them since it began with the three of them.
Loose ends: we still don't know what happened with Lugia! The obvious answers are that either it decided to let her live - figuring out the purpose of the gambit and taking off with the ball, perhaps - or one of the other legendaries persuaded it to leave her, though presumably if it'd been Mew then Ajia would've known and said something. More interesting possible answer: as Lugia was distracted torturing Jade, somebody else (by which I mean probably Stalker) snuck up, grabbed the Master Ball, and recalled it. That could also be the reason you mentioned the Master Ball cannon had been hidden.
Really loving this unintentional mystery I've set up here. :P Fortunately, it'll be revealed pretty soon (appropriately enough, in the Lugia chapter.)

@diamondpearl876:
First off, congrats on finishing Book 1! It's been exciting, having hopped on the Legendarian Chronicles train, and I'm looking forward to Book 2!
aaaaa thanks! :D It's been a joy to have you on board!
The chapter 5 extra is pretty well placed, what with Jade being scolded for not having a license and jumping into the training fray unprepared, then finally, finally getting her license in the last chapter of Book 1 (as you promised me she would, heh). It was a little more depressing than I was expecting for a special, but Jade's enthusiasm for training and "I just can't wait anymore" feels were well written. And I'm always excited to see parents actually having proper conversations with their kids in Pokémon fic, lol; it's even better when the parent doesn't immediately shut down their kid's hopes and dreams, but still tries to teach them responsibility and that not everything can go exactly their way. Like Jade's mom does here. :)
Yes, that's exactly the angle I was going for here! I'm glad that came through well enough.
Speaking of Jade getting a license, I think it would've been cool to get more details on the test items there, which could've been done through monologue in the middle of the test. Though I thought it was realistic and a nice touch that she was no longer anxious after all the Team Rocket shenanigans she'd been through, as well as the muted sense of pride she had after passing. I'd simply be relieved in her shoes, too, I think, haha.
Part of me was actually tempted to go into more detail on the test! But then the other part just wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible. xD;
I also have to raise an eyebrow at Jade being able to log a pidgeot as a starter. Assuming starters are... not fully evolved 'mon, there's no regulations keeping newbie trainers from possessing such powerful 'mon so early in their career?
Well, there's no real laws against giving a kid an evolved mon, and there's nothing technically stopping them for catching one themselves! ...Aside from it just being really hard and the fact that it probably wouldn't listen to them anyway. xD;
Also, I might suggest making Jade's team's goals more varied than just "I want to get stronger", though. I guess Swift's got his "I want to be with Jade" thing and Chibi will no doubt be looking for ways to go against Team Rocket in the future, but that's about it. Stygian seems to be hiding something, though I haven't a clue as to what yet, so that's another thing to look forward to.
Ah, yeah, I guess it kind of seems that way, but trust me, Firestorm is the only one who had that as a goal, and in Book 2 it's going to evolve more into "how to be a protector without letting it push you to do terrible things." (And Buizel's goal is actually to have adventures!)
Just don't put it off forever, Jade. ;P
Bwahaha.
See you in Book 2~
See you then! ^^

@Umbramatic:
Hiya! Glad to see you here again! :D
Well, I just finally came back to this fic and holy hell is the catchup a doozy. I really like how you continually ramp up the stakes, going from wham moment to yikes moment and such constantly. In a way it's kinda also a weakness - there's typically only half a chapter to a chapter to breathe, which can occasionally be jarring or at least hard on the emotions.
Yep, Book 1 is pretty relentless in that regard. xD; I think Book 2 has much better pacing, in that regard.
Razors. Oh my [BLEEPING] god Razors. I had so many feels about his death and with how it happened and its effects on poor Chibi it's probably the most impactful death so far.
Sorry. :( (Also not sorry, cause I'm thrilled that it hit hard, because I'm a writer and writers are evil.)
Also everything Starr oh my god. From the tourture scene to the reveal of who "Astrid" actually was to the parentage thing to the defection has painted her as a much more complex person than I initially thought and that is definitely a good thing. I like that the consequences of her actions with Rocket aren't brushed aside and yet also don't hold character development with her and Jade and their relationship back.
Yessssss, I'm glad. Starr's one of my favorite characters, so I always love seeing people's reactions to her.
One thing I'll complain about is that the subplot of this Big Legendary War has remained kinda dormant. The last we really saw of it was Suicune and the o r b and there hasn't been much allusion to what's going on there since. Sprinkling a little more foreshadowing to keep readers on their toes there would be nice.
You make a very good point with this! Fortunately, the plot early on in Book 2 will shift to focusing on the Big Legendary War exclusively.
Overall this fic remains supremely entertaining and I can't wait to read the rest of it.
Thanks for all your comments, both here and on Discord! ^o^

Thanks so much for the reviews, everyone! I'm so glad to finally be done with Book 1, and it really means a lot that so many people got to follow this story over the years. Progress on Chapter 31 is going well, by the way! It's pretty short too, so I should be able to post it in a week or two.

~Chibi~
 
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Phoenixsong

you taste like fear
Hng. One of these days I'll actually have the energy to review things in something resembling a reasonable timeframe. I mean, this actually isn't bad? For me? What I'm saying is this almost looks like an improvement if you pretend there aren't seven chapters/basically a year between this and my previous post, haha.

But anyway! The end of Book One (congratulations!) is as good a time to knock the rust off as any, so here we go!

So nice to start the chapter off with something so simple, both in terms of it being a common, everyday thing for a person to do and in terms of it going smoothly. I love watching characters go through hell, and Jade's been through there and back, but after all that Everything it makes me happy to see the characters getting a well-deserved break, you know? (No matter how short-lived that break will be... :p) Also fantastic to see Jade able to look back on what she's done with some degree of... I don't know if "confidence" is the right word, but at least accepting that she's done something exceptional. Big change from several chapters back, with her insistence that she was nothing, had done nothing, none of it was worth anything. It's hard to shake that kind of trauma and self-doubt, but steps in that direction are such an encouraging sign.

In the end, it was almost laughable how easily defeated my long-standing troubles with being an illegal Pokémon trainer were.

Something about this sentence feels a bit awkward; maybe a little wordy. Maybe something like "In the end, it was almost laughable how easily I defeated my long-standing troubles with illegal Pokémon training."

I could call home and show that I’d finally upheld my end of the bargain, the one that had gotten me allowed to go on this journey in the first place.

Not gonna lie, after the extra (also congrats on finally getting that done! I know how much that was gnawing at you, haha.), seeing this sounds pretty appealing. Dunno that it'll ever happen--a trip home is probably too much calm and respite for this story, heh--but now I want more of Jade's interactions with her parents. Reasonable parents always seem to be such a rarity in fanfic!

And for all I knew, it was the only thing keeping us together.

Oh, my. I honestly hadn't thought about that, but it's very true, and I'm excited to see some element of the experiments' personal motivations being addressed at last.

“*Well, congrats,*” the Flygon went on. “*Our fights might be a bit fairer now.*” The Flygon smirked. Like he cared at all about beating opponents weaker than himself.

Hm. I'm slightly confused by the last sentence here. Is this saying that Aros is pretending to enjoy easy wins, or that he only cares about getting stronger and Jade is making a sarcastic remark about it? Whatever the case, given how little emphasis has been placed on any sort of rivalry between Aros and Firestorm, and how out-of-left-field it seems for Jade to be making a snarky remark about this in particular, it might be better to drop that line--Aros smirking already conveys plenty of confidence.

Also, you repeat "the Flygon" in both the dialogue tag and at the end of the line; you could probably change one of those to just "he" or "Aros".

But before I could figure out how to answer that, Firestorm cut in with, “*You passed the test?*” His eyes glinted with an enthusiasm that I hadn’t yet seen on his face as a Charizard.

Aw, a little more of the old Firestorm shinin' through.

“*I’m so sorry,*” Swift said, lowering his head. “*That must have been hard to learn.*”

Best cinnamon roll friend. I am so glad that Jade has Swift to Dad all over her.

Stygian and Aros deciding to stay with Jade is interesting. I did get some of that "brother-sister" vibe from Stygian's little outburst, although I do agree it would be nice to see a bit more of that before now. (Or after now... Stygian and Aros buddy-time extras? :D?) Definitely good to see more of their own motivations and personalities starting to come to the fore, like seeing Aros actively (and unsuccessfully) deny that he can't do something on is own. Stygian's comment about there being "more than that" also has me intrigued; wonder when we'll see that come to light.

Although:

The two of them hadn’t even technically been on my team until… what, five days ago? Longest five days of my life, but still.

Five days? Five days? Talk about a breakneck pace, criminy. :p

(Not gonna pretend I ever doubted Chibi would stay, though, heh. He and Jade really do depend on one another, whether or not he's feeling up to admitting that some days.)

I know Jade's not destined (a-heh) to have a long career on the gym circuit, but the thought of seeing Stygian, Aros and Chibi in a relatively mundane situation like a gym battle amuses me. As does the thought of how badly it could possibly go, oho.

He stared at me, unblinking. “*You know I can’t just ignore what they’re doing to the Legendaries. It’s too big a part of what I am.*”

Literally, even!

“*It’s like you said. I want to live for myself. It’s what he would’ve… It’s what I want. But I have to discover what that means first.*” He paused. “*Same as you.*”

I dig Chibi's self-correction here. Not that he should completely disregard the memory of his closest friend, but he was hung up on finding Razors, the growing distance between them or the suicide for so long that it's important to really think about what he wants from his own perspective, and what he wants to do to move forward with his life.

The Darren and Rudy conversations were definitely sweet. Darren's calmness and respectfulness (the immediate "You don't have to tell me about it...") are nice to see out of such a young character, although as Jade comments later I suppose they are all being forced to grow up a little faster than they otherwise would, heh. And so, so good to see Rudy doing some self-reflection, though of course the cost for it is still tragic. Giving up the buizel definitely seems like the right call, and hopefully he'll find other, more appropriate ways to stop himself from behaving so cavalierly and impulsively in the future--I look forward to their return to the fic later.

Ebony bounced lightly in front of me, eyes shining. “*Absol taught me!*”

Also, Ebony dialogue! Yay! I know she's a minor character but it always stood out to me how little she actually said.

“*You can shut yer yap cause I ain’t heard enough humanspeak to know it yet,*” the Buizel said, sticking… her?—it sounded like a her—nose in the air.

And… yeah, trainers didn’t exactly make a habit of trying to hold conversations with freshly-caught wild Pokémon. It usually took a couple weeks for Pokémon to understand human speech, if they hadn’t already heard enough of it from battling trainers while in the wild. Which this one obviously hadn’t.

Nice detail there.

“*You didn’t beat me. You didn’t catch me. I don’t gotta listen to anything you say.*” She stuck out her tongue.

Also nice. It is kind of interesting to see which things pokémon do understand about pokémon training and what they don't. (Although, really, she doesn't have to listen to what Jade says even if Jade had been the one to catch her originally... ;)) It is maybe a little odd that Buizel understands that she can effectively release herself by shorting out the ball's circuitry, though. Not that she'd have to know what "circuitry" was, but just that breaking the ball from the inside like that is an option and that it will definitely work. But then again, maybe that's part of what happens when a pokémon resists capture and escapes a ball in this universe? Are poké balls not reusable here, as in canon?

Wait. This was actually the first time I’d ever even attempted to catch a Pokémon. What if I missed?

The things we take for granted in a trainerfic--both that it's surprising that Jade hasn't actually caught a pokémon this far into the story, and the general possibility that the ball might outright miss and be totally embarassing.

“*How many badges you got?*” she finally asked.

I blinked. “Well… none, but—”

“*What good are you, then?*”

Heh, after seeing one of your other review responses I can't help but imagine Jade saying "Eight." and Buizel countering with "Nuh-uh, no deal, you gotta have at least, um... fifty-seven badges before you're good enough for me!"

‘Heroes’? That was… a weird way to put it. It didn’t feel quite right to call us that. Not after all our failures. Not after all my failures. But…

no Jade no don't go back there no stop, remember all the accomplishments from the beginning of the chapter

The final scene is nice and relaxing, both in terms of the beautiful scenery and the general sense of peace that Jade finally gets--allows herself to feel, really. It's kind of a nice bookend alongside the opening scene of the chapter. We all know that this train ride is just getting started and this sense of calm can't last, but again, I really love when characters get to have a breather. Just a quiet flight on Swift and looking forward to actually having a good time with friends. Ah, that's nice.

Congratulations again on finally reaching the end of Book One! It's always inspiring to see people who can really push through huge, long-term projects like these, especially seeing their excitement as they get closer and closer to their goals. I'm very much looking forward to the start of Book Two and the opportunity to really dig into the meat of both the plot and things like Firestorm's issues, all these complex relationships, and what's in store for all the characters but for people like Rudy in particular. Keep up the amazing work!
 

Chibi Pika

Stay positive
@Phoenixsong:
So nice to start the chapter off with something so simple, both in terms of it being a common, everyday thing for a person to do and in terms of it going smoothly. I love watching characters go through hell, and Jade's been through there and back, but after all that Everything it makes me happy to see the characters getting a well-deserved break, you know? (No matter how short-lived that break will be... :p) Also fantastic to see Jade able to look back on what she's done with some degree of... I don't know if "confidence" is the right word, but at least accepting that she's done something exceptional. Big change from several chapters back, with her insistence that she was nothing, had done nothing, none of it was worth anything. It's hard to shake that kind of trauma and self-doubt, but steps in that direction are such an encouraging sign.
I really, really, wanted the end of Book 1 to actually feel like a proper conclusion to this arc of the story, even if there's still a whole bunch of plot threads that will go unresolved until Book 2. So it was fun to get the chance to slow down and really look at how far everyone--especially Jade--has come.
Not gonna lie, after the extra (also congrats on finally getting that done! I know how much that was gnawing at you, haha.), seeing this sounds pretty appealing. Dunno that it'll ever happen--a trip home is probably too much calm and respite for this story, heh--but now I want more of Jade's interactions with her parents. Reasonable parents always seem to be such a rarity in fanfic!
Haha, yeah, I don't know if I'll have the chance to do that (maybe as another extra?) but at the very least, I'm glad I finally managed to write something with one of Jade's parents without getting stuck and falling into hiatus. xD;
Hm. I'm slightly confused by the last sentence here. Is this saying that Aros is pretending to enjoy easy wins, or that he only cares about getting stronger and Jade is making a sarcastic remark about it? Whatever the case, given how little emphasis has been placed on any sort of rivalry between Aros and Firestorm, and how out-of-left-field it seems for Jade to be making a snarky remark about this in particular, it might be better to drop that line--Aros smirking already conveys plenty of confidence.
Oh... yeah, that wasn't very clear was it? Earlier in the fic, there was a throwaway line about how Aros is a show-off who will brag about beating Pokemon half his level. (He's not into getting stronger, he already thinks he's the greatest thing since sliced bread and is also secretly insecure that he's not.) But like, it's just that one line, and its easily missed/forgotten. There really isn't supposed to be any rivalry there, so yeah, I'll definitely reword it.
Five days? Five days? Talk about a breakneck pace, criminy. :p
Every time I have to write down how many days it's been, I go through the same mental calculation and yeah, it's really been five days:

Day 1: Morning after the attack on Midnight. Starr reveal happens around lunchtime. Ajia and Jade teleport to Viridian to talk to her. Ajia and Jade make their plans around dinnertime.
Day 2: Ajia and Jade put their plan into motion early in the morning. They escape from the hideout with Starr around noon. Starr and Jade take the train to Johto.
Day 3: Jade wanders Goldenrod for most of the day. Jade and Starr talk things out before dinner. Jade goes to meet Sebastian after dinner. Attack on Viridian happens late at night.
Day 4: Jade wakes up in the Viridian Ranger HQ around noon.
Day 5: Jade leaves the Ranger HQ , talks to Firestorm, gets her license, and then flies to say goodbye to Rudy and Darren.

There's actually a lot of filler time taken into account too! Like Jade spending 2-3 hours moping after the Starr reveal before calling Ajia, and all the time wasted in Goldenrod. So yeah, it might have been eight chapters in only 5 days, but it all fits!
(Not gonna pretend I ever doubted Chibi would stay, though, heh. He and Jade really do depend on one another, whether or not he's feeling up to admitting that some days.)
Oh yeah, that was definitely a foregone conclusion. :P And Jade wasn't exactly expecting him to leave (unlike the other two) but she also knew that she had to be upfront with him about straying from the path that they'd chosen to follow together.
I know Jade's not destined (a-heh) to have a long career on the gym circuit, but the thought of seeing Stygian, Aros and Chibi in a relatively mundane situation like a gym battle amuses me. As does the thought of how badly it could possibly go, oho.
Haha, we actually get a gym battle in Chapter 31, if you can believe it!
I dig Chibi's self-correction here. Not that he should completely disregard the memory of his closest friend, but he was hung up on finding Razors, the growing distance between them or the suicide for so long that it's important to really think about what he wants from his own perspective, and what he wants to do to move forward with his life.
That self-correction there was one of my favorite bits of dialogue, and I was also very deliberate in not having the narration call attention to it.
Also, Ebony dialogue! Yay! I know she's a minor character but it always stood out to me how little she actually said.
Yeah, it occurred to me that I'd never really had her talk! I mostly just had her being a cute pupper.
Also nice. It is kind of interesting to see which things pokémon do understand about pokémon training and what they don't. (Although, really, she doesn't have to listen to what Jade says even if Jade had been the one to catch her originally... ;))
Haha, yeah, but to Buizel, it's about the principle of it. :p There's a way you gotta do this, and Jade hadn't done it!
Not that she'd have to know what "circuitry" was, but just that breaking the ball from the inside like that is an option and that it will definitely work. But then again, maybe that's part of what happens when a pokémon resists capture and escapes a ball in this universe? Are poké balls not reusable here, as in canon?
Pretty much. And yeah, they're not reusable.
Heh, after seeing one of your other review responses I can't help but imagine Jade saying "Eight." and Buizel countering with "Nuh-uh, no deal, you gotta have at least, um... fifty-seven badges before you're good enough for me!"
this is amazing
Congratulations again on finally reaching the end of Book One! It's always inspiring to see people who can really push through huge, long-term projects like these, especially seeing their excitement as they get closer and closer to their goals. I'm very much looking forward to the start of Book Two and the opportunity to really dig into the meat of both the plot and things like Firestorm's issues, all these complex relationships, and what's in store for all the characters but for people like Rudy in particular. Keep up the amazing work!
On the one hand, part of me doesn't feel like this is that big of an accomplishment because technically I've already done this before--I got this far in the old thread. But the other half is all "HECK YEAH BOOK 2." And the fact that I actually know where the story is going this time is like "!!!!!!" So yeah! I'm excited!

Thanks so much for the review! ^^

Anyway, because Dragonfree keeps threatening to go back and read the old thread, I thought I'd just go ahead and post it here, along with a guide on how to go about reading it. So, here you all go:


chapter_guide_by_chibi_pika-dcn1n2m.png

- This chart shows which chapters in the new version match up to which chapters in the old version. The color coding indicates how similar they are. Green is very similar. Red is nigh-unrecognizable.

-Tread carefully. A lot of chapters are similar to their modern counterparts, but with one or two plot points changed. It’s really easy to mix up the details on what exactly is canon and what isn’t. Even I make that mistake sometimes.

- Nothing Stalker says makes any damn sense at all. Please don’t attempt to figure any of it out. None of it has any bearing on his personality in the new thread. It’s really obvious the author was intentionally making all his dialogue vague and confusing in a half-assed attempt at moral ambiguity.

- The ancient legends and everything they foreshadow have been completely changed. Don’t even try to use them in your speculation. On top of that, the roster of patron Legendaries that will pick a chosen has also been changed. (However… I will say that the new list is similar. Just because I like to keep you guys on your toes.)

- Be sure to laugh at that one post where the author said, “JADE IS NOT GOING TO CATCH LUGIA.”

- The author constantly makes obtuse references to future plot elements for the sole purpose of making it look like they understand the fic more than they actually did. Treat it all as complete garbage.

- Any time the author says anything related to “outlined the rest of the fic” you are obligated to play this: [warning: language]

- please don’t read the plot bits please don’t read the plot bits PLEASE DON’T READ THE—

- The last few chapters go on about how the reason the resistance can’t destroy Team Rocket is because it would cause TR to launch their master plan too early or something? And while it goes without saying that this is completely outdated (given that the resistance broke up after the commander disappeared), I want to call attention to how ridiculous this particular subplot was. It’s like I couldn’t think of a good reason why the rebels couldn’t just nuke every TR base. Other than, oh I don’t know… murdering thousands of people is bad. But no, I keep bringing it up non-stop in the final four chapters and it’s really obvious I knew I’d written myself into a hole and was trying to salvage things and make Team Rocket threatening even though they really weren’t.

- And above all else: the author was 14. Please remember that. :P


In addition, for your reading 'pleasure', I've gathered an assortment of ten amazing, terrible, or all-around silly moments from the old thread:

10. Lexx writing a script that can apparently transcribe text in hundreds of photographs and also interpret their abstract meaning and also it only takes five minutes because Stalker’s laptop is really fast ok:
He closed everything and opened a program a friend of his had sent him. He had been meaning to try it out for some time now, however all the training had been getting in the way. He glanced through all of the legend-based material he had gathered over the years. Memories of his home in Ecruteak sprung up, for it was the most legend-oriented town in all of both Johto and Kanto. It was what had started his obsession, and fueled a burning ambition.

He pasted all of his files, every single one of them into the program. With a slight refer back to the e-mail his friend had sent him, Stalker clicked on the button labeled “Analyze.”

A bar appeared on the bottom of the screen, projecting the computer’s progress. He waited silently, watching as the computer looked through everything he had recorded, dissected every aspect of every legend. Even though it was an immensely complicated job, with his laptop’s incredible speed, the search took a mere five minutes. Finally the computer beeped and brought up a box of text alongside one large window containing the legend recorded in the shrine of Midnight Island.

9. Chibi being Very In-Character:

Chibi, who really hadn’t said anything for most of the day, said, “*You think you’re gonna be ready to go on a mission soon?*”

“Maybe, I’m not really sure. I’m still worried about Mewtwo, but…well, I dunno if I’d be able to do anything.”

“*It’s not like you did anything last time,*” Chibi said with a snicker.

“Oh, oh so that’s how it is, is it?” I asked in silly tone of voice, surprised to see Chibi laughing about something. He did have a point in that he was the one who had awakened Mewtwo. “Yeah, well…” I searched for what to say, found nothing, and rather shoved a fluffy white pillow into the mutant rodent’s face. He threw it back at me with disdain.

“*Yaah!*” Firestorm yelled, whacking me upside the head with the other pillow.

“Pillow fight!!!” I yelled suddenly, swinging the first pillow to collide with Firestorm’s pale yellow belly. Chibi muttered something about pillows being a ridiculous form of artillery before fetching the smaller pillow from the chair and chucking it at my head.

8. This random, unnecessarily dark interpretation of what is essentially a Max Elixir:
Finally, I found something to fix that: an energy serum. I knew that they could make even an unconscious Pokémon awake and full of power. It had absolutely no healing power whatsoever, which was why it was good that I had already taken care of that. There was a famous battle in which a terribly wounded Pokémon was given an energy serum and sprung to its feet, fighting again, even though it was bleeding all over. It ended up dying, and the use of energy serums was banned in all Pokémon League battles.

7. Chibi being Very In-Character again:
“*Yeah…she’s right. We can each lead an attack on separate groups of Rockets,*” Chibi suggested, quickly coming out of his stupor. “*Firestorm and Swift can come with me, Stygian and Razors, you deal with the Rockets attacking the rebels, Jade, you ride with Aros for an aerial approach along with Spencer on his Pidgeot. Plus, some of his other Pokémon can help us out as well,*” Chibi directed.

“*Wait, wait, what?*” a disgruntled Aros said. “*For one, who put you in charge, pipsqueak, and another, no human is riding on my back.*”

“*Pipsqueak?*” Chibi’s eyes slowly narrowed as his expression rapidly changed. “*Alright, it’s on, you an’ me now, dragon butt,*” he said, making a “bring-it-on” motion with his hands.

“*EVERYONE SHUT UP!!!!!*” Razors shouted, waving his scythes in the air. “*And you…*” he said, turning toward Aros, “*Chibi’d know better than any of us what to do in a situation like this, and in any case, you’d do well to have some human intuition with you in a time like this.*”

6. Why is everyone so nonchalant about this:
Rudy and Darren glanced at each other. “Well…” Rudy started slowly, “yeah…I didn’t actually see it happen, but a few kids, well, died…”

“Who?” I demanded.

“Not anyone we know,” he said quickly. “Stalker’s Dragonite brought ‘em back from the mission. Stalker went with it and explained what happened at the Pokémon Center, ‘cause there were a couple more kids that got injured when—”

Explained? What, you mean he actually told the people working there that—?” I cut in abruptly.

“Er, that is—I don’t know, okay? He must’ve told them a cover-up story or somethin’,” Rudy said, shrugging.

5. Ow the edge:
Team Rocket was there, yes, but the first thing I noticed was the death…all around…everywhere. The Rockets were playing for keeps now, and taking prisoners obviously wasn’t on the agenda.

Each and every single Rocket had their Pokémon out to take on the pitiful last line of defense while they fired mercilessly at the opposition. The battlefield was filled with the sound of gunfire, and trainers and Pokémon alike dropped to the ground. Most of the rebels who had entered the onslaught regretted it within seconds and scrambled for the exit, but were unable to make it in time. Even though a few trainers had barrier-producing Pokémon out for both protection and attack, bodies lay motionless everywhere, killed instantly from shots to the head and chest, whilst others lay dying in a sea of scarlet, crying out in anguish in the midst of chaos while flows of glistening blood streamed from what were likely fatal wounds.

“*Holy shit…*” Chibi muttered, staring blankly at the scene of vivid death that lay in front of us. “*Jade…what—?*”

“Cover me, I’m going in,” I said, cutting him off. “I have to find Rudy and Darren, and if we can save anyone, we have to.”

He nodded and promptly produced a shimmering barrier of electrical energy, but his urge to know what was happening still showed.

He jumped onto my shoulder and said, “*Jade, what happened…?*”

I didn’t answer him; I couldn’t answer him—not just because I couldn’t bring myself to, but also that I knew nothing more than the obvious. I stepped forward into the midst of the battlefield, and though we were completely impervious to the pandemonium all around, not even the barrier could block out the smell of blood that drenched the air, or the pitiful cries of the injured.

It was then that I truly realized why I was against Team Rocket.

“*Jade! What the fuck is going on here?!!!*” Chibi shouted.

“I don’t know!!!” I yelled back. “We’re under attack, end of story! Widen the barrier around the line of Rebellion members and their Pokémon!”

4. Jade being EXTREMELY FREAKING NONCHALANT while talking to the person who tortured her:

“Well, well what do you know…we’ve still got rebels in the base,” a voice said.

I glanced upward immediately and nearly fell out of my chair in surprise. “Wha—what are you doing here?!” I asked, my eyes widened upon seeing who it was.

“I could ask you the same question,” Astra said coolly, sitting down across from me. “You have a lot of guts showing up here after all that your damn team’s done against us.”

I rolled my eyes. “Yeah, quit playing games…why don’t you just turn me already while you’re at it. You know, you’ve never exactly explained why you haven’t.”

She scowled. “What’s it to you? So I’m sick of everyone dying, enemy of Team Rocket or not…and I’m sick of being the cause of it.”

I raised an eyebrow. “So you’re saying that the mission the other day was your idea?”

“No,” she snapped.

“Alright, then whose was it?” I asked, amused.

“None of your business!” she retorted. “Like I’m going to discuss Team Rocket’s inner workings with you. And I’ll have you know that if you don’t leave this base soon and not come back, I’ll make you wish you’d never joined that rebellion.”

“Whee. Threats,” I muttered dully. “If it’s any consolation, I’ll have you know that I’m going to Johto tomorrow.”

“No doubt to mess with the Johto Force.”

“Bingo, right in one,” I answered, mimicking the motion of waving a small flag. “Even heard of the inside resistance? You Rockets are doomed.”

3. 14-year-old Chibi having absolutely no knowledge of network security, being 100% aware of this, cringing the entire time while writing this, and then proceeding to publish it anyway:

“How can Team Rocket risk making a site?” I asked curiously.

“It’s got ridiculously high security,” he said. “You have to get around the firewalls and then enter in around ten passwords that constantly change, then enter in your ID number and finally state your name, so of course someone trying to get in wouldn’t know which name corresponded to the numbers. It’s pretty hard for the lower-ranking members to get in since no one really cares if they get the hacking codes and password updates or not. Not to mention the fact that it doesn’t show up on any search engine.”

2. Rudy and Darren’s fate after the Midnight Island attack being unceremoniously summarized with a single off-screen paragraph (aka, a lesson in 'show, don't tell'):
I proceeded to mess with my Communicator, flipping through the many features that I never knew it had. I had re-entered Rudy and Darren’s numbers into it and had been using the Communicator to talk with them ever since The Rebellion ended. We had met up at the Midnight Pokémon Center on the night of the attack, and I had been extremely relieved to see them both alive. We had gone our separate ways the following morning, them having gone off to finish training at the various Kanto Gyms. I hoped to meet up with them someday and do the same…after I got my license and met up with Stalker in Johto.

1. Wait I changed my mind, this is actually the greatest scene I’ve ever written:

Unlike the last time, in which Spencer had his Pidgeot completely Hyper Beam the entire entrance, this time he took a less conspicuous approach. The second computerized door was simply knocked off its hinges by Arcanine, who leaped forward with Spencer waving to the Rockets from its back while saying, “Hey! Didja miss me?! Break out the confetti, cuz’ I’m back!!!”

It was so completely random that I had to stifle a laugh as the nearby Rockets gaped in surprise.

“Are you gonna just stand there or do I have to use the four Experimental Pokémon I have with me and just toast the base?” he asked rhetorically.

That jerked them out of their stupor. An Executive immediately yelled, “Idiots!!! Do something, anything!!!”

Instant chaos ensued. Chibi jumped out from behind Spencer and surrounded them with a protective lightning bubble as every Rocket in the area pulled out Poké balls, guns, stun rays, or tranquilizers. Flashes of light materialized into Pokémon as strings of lightning leaped off of the force field, causing the nearest Rockets to jump back in surprise.

“Oh, come on, do we really have to settle this with guns and Pokémon all the time?” Spencer asked them, raising his arms defensively.

“Can’t we just talk it out over a latte?”

“Now,” Ajia whispered to me, and I remembered what I was supposed to do. We raced toward the back of the commons where I stood on the first chair I could find and shouted, “Hey, we need the head Executive over here! Astra, or Starr, or whatever the heck she’s calling herself now!!!”

The goal was for us to get Starr’s attention and draw her away from the others. The Rockets were completely preoccupied with Spencer and didn’t pay any mind to my shouting. At least, most of them didn’t. It took a while, but finally I spotted Starr in the crowd, who turned towards me with a “you!” look on her face.

“Oh yeah, she’s coming, let’s get started,” I said.

In the background, I could hear Spencer shouting, “All your base are belong to us!” as Arcanine dashed back up the stairs.

So have fun with that. :P Or spare me the embarassment and don't.

~Chibi~
 
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Chibi Pika

Stay positive
@3DSRed @jirachiman876 Let me know if you want to be added to the list!

BOOK 2: RESISTANCE


~Chapter 31: Eight Months Later~

ch31art_by_chibi_pika-dcounyi.png

July 3

Sweat dripped down my forehead as my hand hovered over a Pokéball, and the audience waited with bated breath to see what my final Pokémon would be. On the other side of the arena, Gym Leader Jasmine considered me with the same calm, composed air that she’d always shown. In front of her, a gigantic ironclad serpent slowly traced a circular path in the center of the battlefield, his body segments rotating rhythmically and massive jaws grinding against each other.

Three on three, no substitutions, and both of us down to our final Pokémon. Steelix hardly looked worse for the wear after his brief scuffle with Aros, which he’d brought to a crushing end through a well-timed Ice Fang. I’d watched Jasmine take down dozens of opponents with him throughout the past week—he had the endurance of a champ and could shrug off small hits all day long. But I already knew who I wanted to use against him. We had to clear out all the electric-types first, but now she was in the clear.

“Go!” I called out, throwing the Pokéball forward. The burst of light condensed into the form of an orange weasel, who bounced lightly on her hind paws, spreading her arm fins wide before sizing up her opponent. She had to crane her neck back just to make eye contact with him. But rather than flinch or show any sign of apprehension, the Floatzel just grinned.

Technically Jet had the advantage. Technically. Our opponent was still huge metal snake that was not gonna go down easy. The referee waved both flags to start the round, and the match was on.

“Aqua Jet!” I called out

Jet crouched low and sprang into the air, a swirling pulse of water propelling her forward. The water jet traced a jagged line in midair, zeroing in on Steelix’s lower body and striking the joint between two segments with a fierce spray of water. Steelix jerked slightly, eyes tensing for a moment. A solid opening hit, but nothing too devastating.

“Thunder Fang,” Jasmine said, her voice so soft I could barely hear it.

But Steelix definitely heard. The iron snake slowly turned his oversized head, keeping his eyes on Jet as she dashed around to his other side. Suddenly, he lunged, massive jaws opening, boulder-sized teeth crackling with lightning. Jet saw him coming though, and deftly backflipped away just in time for his jaws to snap shut on open air.

“Nice dodge!” I exclaimed.

Jet landed a good twenty feet away from Steelix and spun around on her front paws, sticking out her tongue at the giant snake.

Jasmine frowned. “Autotomize,” she said. Again, I could barely hear her over the grinding of dirt as Steelix pivoted in the middle of the battlefield, keeping his head trained on Jet the entire time. But this time, rather than pursue her, he began rotating his body segments. Slowly at first, then building in speed. Fast, faster, past the point that he should have been able to, moving so fast that his spines were just a blur. Finally there was a powerful crunch, and the outer layers of his metallic skin snapped off, clattering to the floor with an echoing clang. The freshly-shed Steelix gave a swish of his tail and did a quick loop in the center of the battlefield, segments still whirring like an engine, dirt grinding beneath his body. Satisfied with the increased speed, he leveled his head at Jet, body tensed with potential energy, ready to strike.

Well, there went our mobility advantage.

“Now. Another Thunder Fang.”

Steelix lunged at Jet with so quickly he was almost a blur. The Floatzel dashed to the side, using a spurt of water to push herself faster than she’d normally be able to run. But neither of us were ready for how quickly he managed to turn and zero in on her, teeth already sparking. He was right behind her. Only a few more seconds and he’d close the gap.

“Jump now!” I yelled.

Jet leaped upward the instant before Steelix would have struck, somersaulting over his head in a wide arc. But the steel-type snapped his head upward at the last second, and his jaws locked tight around one of her tails. Electricity surged through the Floatzel’s body, and I flinched as her pained screeching filled the air. When it finished, she was left dangling from his jaws, flailing indignantly, punching his teeth repeatedly, to no effect.

Oh crap. Jet was stuck. Steelix’s teeth began sparking again. He’d have no problem just repeating the attack, over and over. Unless—!

“Water Gun!” I blurted out.

The reaction was immediate. Jet used the momentum from her flailing to swing her body upward and spit a narrow stream of water straight into Steelix’s eye. The iron snake recoiled backward, grunting in pain, and that was all the opening that Jet needed to wriggle her tail free and drop to the ground.

Shouldn’t have wasted a moveslot on Water Gun of all things, but it managed to get her free, so it was worth it. But now I was stuck on what to do next. With Steelix’s increased speed, we couldn’t just go for repeated light blows. I could have Jet stop and try to pull off a Bulk Up, but the benefits likely wouldn’t outweigh the damage she’d take from being an open target. Come on—what was the best move?

Jasmine pointed a finger forward. No need to give a command, there was no reason not to keep going with Thunder Fang. Jet couldn’t take too much more of that. Had to think. Some way to get our advantage back.

Then, out of nowhere, an idea struck, and I shouted, “Whirlpool!”

Jet flashed a toothy grin, then dove at Steelix within a pulse of water, swerving around his lower body as he lunged with his jaws. Tighter and tighter she spiraled around the steel-type, until the outer circles joined together with the inner ones, forming a swirling vortex that swallowed up his lower body and held him firmly in place. There! It’d be that much harder for him to pivot now.

Steelix gave a small snort of annoyance, then lunged again, but the swirling waters held his lower body in place, and he couldn’t pull himself out. Jet laughed and pelted him with a few spurts of water now that he had no way to close the distance.

Jasmine paused, observing the turn of events carefully. Then she said, “Bulldoze.”

Ah, crap.

From within the watery grip of the swirling whirlpool, Steelix wrenched his tail free. Then he struck the ground, letting loose a rolling shockwave that churned up the dirt floor as it traveled across the battlefield. Jet stopped laughing abruptly, then attempted to leap over the wave, but the moment she landed, the dirt under her paws crumbled into chunks, then dug into her body from all sides. The Floatzel grunted in pain as she sluggishly wrenched herself free, swaying a bit on her feet once she stood back up.

On the plus side, that was Jasmine’s fourth move command. No more surprises now. On the downside, Jet’s legs had taken the full brunt of that shockwave, and her movements had noticeably slowed.

“Don’t worry about it, just use Aqua Jet!” I called out.

That’d make up for the loss of speed, in any case. Once the burst of water flared up around her body, Jet shot forward like a bullet, using it to close the distance much faster than she’d have been able to run. The Floatzel swerved around Steelix, narrowly avoiding another tail smash, then dove into the whirlpool surrounding him, following the momentum of its current. Her silhouette was little more than a blur as she pelted the serpent with repeated Aqua Jets from within the swirling waters. He flinched with each blow, eye twitching. I knew that tell. The attacks were getting to him. Slowly. But at the same time, he was just watching her do it. Carefully waiting for the right moment…

“Keep your guard up!” I warned.

But there was a moment’s pause after her next Aqua Jet. She hesitated for just a second too long. Suddenly Steelix’s head zeroed in not on where she’d been, but where she was going to be the moment she darted forward. Boulder teeth locked around her midsection, crackling with electricity. Jet gasped in pain and shock as lightning coursed through the entire whirlpool with her trapped inside.

No!

But the Floatzel hadn’t gone limp yet. She was still struggling against Steelix’s hold, bubbles streaming from her mouth with each thrash. Only a few more seconds before she’d run out of air and we’d have to forfeit.

Last chance, had to make it count.

“Waterfall!”

I wasn’t even sure if she could hear me over the rushing water of her own whirlpool. Or if she’d register the command with how much pain she had to be in. But then, without warning, the whirlpool broke, and all the water in the vortex suddenly collapsed together in a rushing wave, shooting straight upward with Jet right at the center of it. Steelix’s eyes went wide just a second before the wave crashed into his face, snapping his head backward with a grinding crunch. For a single, heart-pounding moment, he leaned back as though suspended in midair. Then his weight dragged him down and his head crashed into the dirt, where he lay unmoving.

The referee swung a red flag towards Jasmine. “Steelix is unable to battle. The challenger is the winner!”

A sudden wave of noise burst from the audience stands, where all the gym trainers had been watching their leader’s match—half of them cheering for our victory and the other half groaning at Steelix’s defeat. The waterfall collapsed, streaming over the battlefield, and Jet emerged from within, coughing and sputtering. It didn’t last long though—she quickly regained herself and flashed a wide grin at the audience. Jasmine recalled her Steelix without a word, but then folded her arms behind her back and gave a gentle smile.

We’d done it. We’d won the gym battle.

I realized too late that Jet was bounding towards me now. Eighty pounds of wet furball collided with my chest and knocked me to the ground.

“*I did it! That’s right, me!*” she called out, posing for the onlookers in the audience.

“Yep. You sure did,” I gasped, thoroughly winded. “Now, could you please get off.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It had been eight months since the rebellion against Team Rocket was brought to a crushing end, and some days, when I was particularly distracted, I could forget about everything that happened and just be a normal trainer enjoying their journey throughout the Johto region.

There were, of course, reminders. My friend Ajia, who was still deeply involved in the fight against Team Rocket, but avoided bringing it up, for my sake. My friend Starr, who had once been a top Rocket leader and my greatest enemy, but who had thrown it all away to save my life. My Pokémon, half of which were genetic experiments, rescued from Team Rocket’s labs. Sometimes the memories would creep up on me when I was least prepared for them, like the dead of night, lying in bed, suddenly flashing back to the floor of a Rocket detention cell. My dreams were laced with threads of lightning, pierced by the mindlessly glowing eyes of Mewtwo, and haunted by the looming spectre of a giant avian dragon, glaring murderously, ready to end me.

But for the most part, life had gone on. Each day on the road in Johto was another day that I’d survived beyond all of that. And each day brought new experiences that had nothing to do with any of it.

After a quick stop at the Pokécenter, I found myself and all six of my Pokémon—Swift the Pidgeot, Firestorm the Charizard, Chibi the Pikachu-Zapdos hybrid, Aros the Flygon, Stygian the Absol, and Jet the Floatzel—seated at the trainer area of an outdoor cafe, eating lunch and listening to Firestorm recount his battle with Magneton for his teammates that hadn’t seen it.

“*So that was a direct hit with Thunderbolt, yeah? Didn’t think I could take another one, even if it was real slow and I was dodging everything, eventually one of them was gonna land.*”

The Charizard was standing back from the table, giving him room to spread both his arms and wings to accentuate the dramatic beats of his story. On his opposite side was Aros, listening to the story with as disinterested a look as possible, though he couldn’t help giving a nod of approval at certain parts. Chibi stared off into the distance, the salty sea breeze ruffling his pointed head feathers. Stygian was sprawled out under the table, pawing at something beneath the deck floorboards and not particularly paying attention. But Swift was hanging on every word, beaming with pride at his teammate’s success.

“*So then, uh…*” The Charizard paused, tapping his claws together. “*Wait, what was next?*”

“Smokescreen,” I offered.

His face lit up. “*Oh yeah! Jade ordered Smokescreen. So Magneton starts using Swift a ton. I mean a ton, there’s stars everywhere, and they’re all hitting me, even with the smoke.*”

I smirked. “When are you gonna remember that Swift is a sure-shot move?” He’d forgotten during the match, too.

But the fire lizard just snorted. “*That’s your job.*”

Alright, that was fair.

“*So I had to land and cover my face with my wings and just slowly walk toward it, taking the hits. And I couldn’t see, but neither could it, but I could feel where the stars were coming from. So I just let off this huge Flame Burst that explodes right in the middle of all three magnets and boom!*”—Firestorm clapped his hands together with a small wisp of flame between his claws—“*Down it goes.*”

Jet leaped onto the table, throwing a paw up to give him a high five—which would have knocked my food tray to the floor if I hadn’t managed to catch it before it slid all the way off. I gave her an unamused stare, and she grinned sheepishly before jumping down.

“*I took down Magnezone. That’s a lot harder than beating Magneton,*” Aros pointed out to me in the kind of tone you’d use for something helpfully informative and not stating the obvious.

“You know, you might have forgotten this, but I was there, and I saw the whole thing,” I said with a laugh. “In any case, sorry about that whole Hidden Power thing. No one else used any dragons against her, so I had no idea it would hit so hard.”

“*It’s not that impressive,*” Jet chimed in. “*Aren’t those magnet guys mad weak to ground?*”

Aros opened his mouth to protest but I cut him off with, “Actually, in his defense, it had used Magnet Rise, so we had to totally change our strategy.” The Flygon gave a satisfied huff at my explanation. Jet just shrugged before dropping to the ground and hunting under the table for lost fries.

All of a sudden, I felt my Pokégear start buzzing. I grabbed it from my pocket and checked it to see that Starr was calling me.

“Hey, how’s it going?” I answered.

“Terrible. When are you gonna save me from Ajia?” Starr replied in an exaggeratedly defeated tone. I heard a laughing voice in the background call out, “Oh, whatever!” Starr snorted and then added, “Yeah, okay, I might be lying. It’s been nice.”

Since Starr and I had been primarily travelling together, with Ajia only meeting up with us once a month or so, the two of them had spent the past week in the Sevii Islands, just the two of them. Plus it had given me the chance to spend some time with just me and my team. Having both our teams out together could sometimes get a bit… tense. Not outright hostile like eight months ago, but still. (Not that any of that had affected Jet. She’d immediately gone up to Starr’s team and tried to make friends with all of them, to varying degrees of success.)

“So, you still up for Blackthorn?” Starr asked.

“Of course!” I said with a grin.

“Sweet, it’s been ages since I’ve been to the hot springs there. Looking forward to that.”

I chuckled under my breath. “Yeah, you have fun with that.”

She scoffed. “Don’t think you’re getting out of it. Anyway, when do you think you can meet us there?”

“Tonight’s fine. I’m done with my gym battle so we’re just wasting time in Olivine.”

“Oh nice, you’ll have to tell me how that went. So see you tonight?”

“Yup, see you then,” I said, ending the call.

Swift turned to face me once I had put my phone away. “*So where’s our next destination?*” he chirped.

“Sounds like it’s gonna be Blackthorn City.”

“*Who’s flying?*” Aros asked.

“It gets pretty cold in those mountains, even this time of year. So I was thinking Firestorm.”

The Flygon shrugged. “*Fine with me. But we should stop at the beach before we leave town.*”

Firestorm snorted and rolled his eyes. “*You always want to do that.*”

“*I like sand,*” Aros replied defensively.

“Yes, we can hit the beach,” I said, standing up. “Might as well enjoy the sun before we head up into the mountains anyway.”

I was pretty much done with my food, so I picked up the tray and went to throw its contents in the trash. At least, until Jet poked my side and made grabby-hands at it.

I rolled my eyes and lowered the tray so she could reach it. “Here.” She shoved the remaining fistful of fries into her mouth.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Olivine City was a heavily industrial town, with the majority of its coastline taken up by piers and shipping yards. That said, there were still a few nice public beaches out on the western edge of town. My shoes kicked up sand as I left the main path and walked down the gleaming white shore, shielding my eyes from the sun as I went. Maybe I should have thought to pick up sunglasses, but it was a little late for that now.

Once I’d located a stretch of sand that was relatively clear of other beach-goers, I set down my bag, kicked off my shoes, and let all six of my Pokémon out of their balls. Jet dashed forward and dove into the water immediately, surfacing a few seconds later and playfully squirting a few streams of water at the others. Firestorm shielded himself with his wings and gave an annoyed snort before turning around, giving a few flaps, and taking off, soaring low overhead. Stygian pawed at the sand for a bit, then took off running down the shoreline and through the flocks of Wingull that lined the beach, scattering countless fluttering white shapes into the air. Meanwhile, Aros had set to work digging out a massive hole and constructing a large mound of sand around himself.

“You better smooth that back out when you’re done; the lifeguards don’t like it when people leave holes everywhere,” I told him.

“*I got it, I got it,*” the Flygon replied, giving a swish of his tail.

I grabbed a towel from my bag and laid it on the sand. I wasn’t much in the mood for swimming, and the ocean was always too cold for my tastes anyway. I could at least relax on the beach while everyone else had fun though. Swift wound up settling down next to me, fluffing out his feathers to absorb maximum warmth and closing his eyes contentedly. The only other one who hadn’t gone off to busy himself was Chibi. The Pikachu was sitting by himself in the sand, gazing out at the ocean with a troubled look on his face.

“Something up?” I asked.

“*It’s nothing,*” the hybrid replied.

I made sure he wasn’t looking at me before I smirked. “With you, it’s never nothing.”

He gave a small huff but didn’t dignify that with an answer.

I tilted my head. “You weren’t hoping you’d get to be in the gym battle, weren’t you?”

Chibi turned and gave me a face that said, “who do you think I am?” Alright, so I didn’t really think it was something as dumb as that. Just wanted to rule it out.

Several seconds passed in silence. Finally, he opened his mouth and said, “*I know we said we both needed to take a break from it all…*” but his voice trailed off before he could finish.

Oh. It was this again. Seemed like every few weeks, he’d start asking about the situation with Team Rocket again. It was making it harder and harder to pretend that we’d left that world behind.

I took a deep breath. “Okay, look. I’ve been asking Ajia about it practically every time I see her, which is what you told me to do, by the way. She still hasn’t heard anything.”

His ears pricked up at my words. “*That’s even worse. Eight whole months and nothing?*”

“She said they’re probably just working on gathering funds to recover from their main HQ being totally fried last November,” I said pointedly.

He paused, taking a few seconds to think of a response. “*That, or they’re working on something big and they don’t want anyone to know about it.*”

“We don’t have any proof of that.”

“*We can’t disprove it.*”

I put a hand to my forehead. “No, I guess we can’t, but that really doesn’t tell us anything.”

Chibi turned away, flattening his ears in frustration. He sat there like that for several seconds before standing up suddenly and announcing, “*I’m going for a walk.*” He then wandered off down the beach, kicking at the sand as he went.

I sighed. I wasn’t like I didn’t understand his anxiety. There were times that I felt it too, no matter how many times I told myself that the fight against Team Rocket wasn’t my problem anymore. But there wasn’t any sense in stressing out over something that we had literally no information on. It wasn’t like we could do anything about it now.

I was dragged from my thoughts by a sopping-wet Floatzel leaning into my field of view and staring me straight in the eyes.

“*Hey. I’m bored.*”

I smirked. “We’ve got a whole ocean here,” I said, gesturing to it as though she hadn’t noticed.

The sea weasel flopped down into the sand next to me, sending a wave of it into my lap. “*Whatever. Tell me one of the rebel stories.*”

“You’ve already heard them all,” I said with a snort.

“*I don’t care. Tell me the one where your friend was gonna kill you but then she didn’t. I like that one.*”

I let out an exaggerated sigh. “Alright, you asked for it,” I said, sitting fully upright and spreading my arms for dramatic effect. “So there we were in the main Rocket base. Alarms blaring, Rockets all around us with no way out…”

And so, like I’d done a dozen times before, I told the story of how Starr betrayed Team Rocket. From the unruly lightning that tore the air from Pichu’s battle with Raichu, to the crushing checkmate at the hands of Mewtwo. From the overbearing presence of Giovanni to the smothering feeling of certain death when he gave Starr his ultimatum. Halfway through the story Floatzel flipped onto her back and stretched out widely, sunning her belly. It was always hard to tell if she’d dozed off or not. But either way, I kept going. It felt good to tell the story. Especially when I got to that single, unbelievable moment when Starr had decided to turn her back on the Rockets, despite the fact that there had been absolutely nothing in it for her. By all accounts, it should have been a death sentence. And yet she’d done it anyway. And that was why I’d known without a doubt that her change of heart was genuine. Even though there had been times when it had been difficult to move on, or difficult to forget the things she’d done, that moment always managed to stand out more, like a flame piercing the rest of my memory.

The afternoon stretched into early evening, with Jet dozing off periodically (but still opening one eye every so often to make sure I was still talking.) At some point Chibi wandered back, and he and Stygian passed the time by racing each other up and down the shoreline, thus ensuring that no Wingull could safely land there for the rest of the afternoon. But eventually Stygian took a break from that and went to pawing at Aros’s now quite formidable sand mountain, knocking down some of its spires. Aros was content to deal with this by occasionally swatting the Absol back with his tail. At least until Firestorm swooped over them and upped the ante by breathing out a small, concentrated spurt of flames at the mountain, melting its tip into a brightly glowing lump of glass.

“*What are you doing?!*” Aros demanded, standing up in one swift motion that knocked most of the sand from his body.

“*It looks better this way,*” Firestorm said, landing next to Stygian and flashing an innocent grin.

The Flygon glared at him, then dug his claws into the sand. Seconds later, the ground underneath Firestorm and Stygian collapsed into a sinkhole, sucking the two of them down and ensnaring them in a Sand Tomb.

“Oh my god, you guys…” I said, chuckling under my breath.

“*I want in on this!*” a voice cried out near me. I glanced to my left, where there was now a Floatzel-shaped indent in the sand, conspicuously empty. Now Aros had to defend his rather sad and abused-looking sand mountain from invaders on three different sides.

“You know, if you guys wanted to battle, we’re not on the right beach for it,” I said, gesturing towards the designated battle area on the other side of the volleyball courts. No one heard me, and even if they had, I doubt they’d have cared.

For the second time today, my Pokégear started buzzing. I reached for it, careful not to get sand on it, and half expecting to see Ajia or Starr calling me back. But nope, it was the name I hadn’t been expecting, but really should have been.

I answered the call with, “Hey Rudy.”

“Got your text, how’d the battle go?” he asked immediately.

I grinned. “It was great. Came pretty close to the wire, but we pulled through and got the badge,” I said, unable to keep myself from pulling it out again and admiring its metallic surface in the gleaming sunlight.

“Awesome, you gotta send me a pic of it later,” he said rapidly, his words ending in a sudden pause, as though he was waiting for something with bated breath.

I waited a few seconds for good measure and then slowly asked, “…So what about you?”

“Oh man, thought you’d never ask!” he exclaimed, and I could practically hear the grin behind his voice. “Just got to the plateau. Man, you should see this place, it’s freaking huge. I can’t even tell how many stadiums they got here. I think five. It’s at least five. Man, even the side ones make Midnight Stadium look like kid stuff. They’ve got huge-ass shields too, so you can just cut loose and practice your attacks as hard as you want.”

I couldn’t help smiling. Rudy had been looking forward to the Kanto League tournament for months, and now that it was finally on the horizon, it was hardly surprising that it was all he could think about.

“So I got registered, got my Pokémon approved and everything, so we just spent the day checking out everything. You wouldn’t believe it, there’s gotta be like a million shops here. Everything’s freaking expensive, but I did get some sweet gear for my team—I’ve gotta show you when you get here.” He paused for about two seconds but then immediately kept going with, “Well, alright, I’ll tell you one of them; Nidoking’s wearing an Expert Belt. But that’s the only spoiler you’re getting. Oh, did I tell you how many people are here? Well, actually, it’s not that many yet, I think I was one of the first ones.”

I laughed. “Honestly, when you said you were gonna get there early, I didn’t believe it. Since when do you arrive early to anything?”

“Hey, if you wanna be serious about the tournament, that’s what you gotta do,” he said matter-of-factly, like nothing was more obvious.

I shrugged. “Alright, that’s fair.”

A couple seconds’ pause followed. “So… you sure you’re not entering the tournament?” he asked in an overly-hopeful voice.

I put a hand to my forehead. “Rudy, there’s a month left, and I have zero Kanto badges. I’ve been traveling through Johto. And I only have four of those badges. So no.”

He gave an exaggerated sigh. “Lame. I don’t think they let guests enter the tourney site until August.”

“I can wait.”

“Fine. Guess I gotta bother Darren then,” Rudy said. “If he ever shows up. I swear, it’s like he’s not even trying.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Where’d you two get separated, anyway?”

“I went on ahead of him on Route 23; he wanted to take it slower.” All of a sudden Rudy gasped. “Hey wait, I haven’t even told you about Victory Road yet!”

Oh no. That was definitely going to take a while.

“You can tell me all about that in person, okay?”

“Seriously?”

“I’m heading to Blackthorn soon, and I wanna make it there before sundown. Aaand I get the feeling this is a long story,” I added with a slight laugh.

Rudy snorted. “Yeah? Alright, you got me there. I wouldn’t be able to do it justice over the phone anyway.” In the background, I could just barely make out a muffled barking sound. “What? Oh yeah, Ebony says hi.”

I chuckled. “Tell her I’m looking forward to seeing her.”

There was the muffled sound of Rudy saying something with the microphone pointed away from him, then a much louder and clearer voice barking out, “*Really?! Oh boy, oh boy!!*” Then some other scattered background noises, some of which sounded vaguely like Pokéspeech. Then Rudy’s voice came back with, “Gotta go now talk to you later!” all in one breath before he ended the call.

I couldn’t help snickering as I pocketed my phone. Now I had that to look forward to as well.

I stretched widely before standing to my feet, dusting the sand off my shorts, and calling out, “Hey, guys!” Aros, Stygian, Jet, and Firestorm all glanced over at me from their wrestling pile surrounded by lumpy mounds of soaked or melted sand.

“We’re heading out soon. Come on, let’s get the beach cleaned up.”

My words were met with scattered grumbling, and it took me repeating it several times before everyone took the suggestion to heart. (Granted, it mostly involved Aros using Sand Tomb to dissolve the mountain and Firestorm flying the melted bits off to sea.) After that, I gathered up all my stuff, recalled everyone except Firestorm, and braced myself for our flight into the northern mountains.

“Well, we’ve got a month until we meet Rudy in Indigo,” I said as the fire lizard spread his wings. “What do you think the odds are we can get the Blackthorn gym badge in that time?”






~End Chapter 31~

Two more chapters of normal trainer fic. Enjoy it while it lasts.

~Chibi~
 
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Dragonfree

Just me
“Aqua Jet!” I called out
Missing a period at the end there.

Steelix lunged at Jet with so quickly he was almost a blur.
That "with" probably shouldn't be there.

But neither of us were ready for how quickly he managed to pivot and zero in on her
This is the third time you use the word 'pivot' in the space of just a few paragraphs! Stuck out to me a little. (And then it appears again a bit later in the battle.)

I think the opening of the battle feels a bit turn-based, with Jasmine not giving her first command until Jet has already gotten the first hit in, then Jade not saying anything until after Steelix has attempted the Thunder Fang even when he was described as "slowly" turning, then Jade and Jet apparently doing nothing while Steelix uses Autotomize, even as you also make that sound like it takes a little while. It gets a lot more dynamic from there, though.

On the plus side, that was Jasmine’s fourth move command. No more surprises now.
Hi there same four-move rule as TQftL. :p

I like the camaraderie you show between Jade and her Pokémon in this chapter - you can really feel that they've gotten to be a team of friends and companions, just hanging out, talking back and forth, all in all bouncing off each other. It's also nice to see Rudy's recovered his enthusiasm, at least temporarily.

This chapter had a bit of a recap-ish feel, which is a bit amusing when it's only been a few weeks since chapter 30 in real time, but it makes sense to sort of show the characters' current perspective on everything that went on eight months prior. It doesn't feel like much happened here, but I definitely appreciate the look at how the character dynamics have evolved since Book 1.
 

Chibi Pika

Stay positive
This is the third time you use the word 'pivot' in the space of just a few paragraphs! Stuck out to me a little. (And then it appears again a bit later in the battle.)
Ah, repetition, my nemesis. I'll go fix that up now so I don't forget.
I think the opening of the battle feels a bit turn-based, with Jasmine not giving her first command until Jet has already gotten the first hit in, then Jade not saying anything until after Steelix has attempted the Thunder Fang even when he was described as "slowly" turning, then Jade and Jet apparently doing nothing while Steelix uses Autotomize, even as you also make that sound like it takes a little while. It gets a lot more dynamic from there, though.
Ah, thanks for the catch on that, I'll be more careful with the next few battles that I script.
Hi there same four-move rule as TQftL. :p
I really like how I asked permission to use that headcanon of yours like 12 years ago and I'm only just now following through on it.
I like the camaraderie you show between Jade and her Pokémon in this chapter - you can really feel that they've gotten to be a team of friends and companions, just hanging out, talking back and forth, all in all bouncing off each other. It's also nice to see Rudy's recovered his enthusiasm, at least temporarily.
That was basically my main goal with this chapter! It's all well and good for me to say that time has passed, but I really wanted it to feel like it in a way that I wasn't able to capture last time around. (Yet another thing I wasn't sure how to handle with the time skip in the old thread.)
This chapter had a bit of a recap-ish feel, which is a bit amusing when it's only been a few weeks since chapter 30 in real time, but it makes sense to sort of show the characters' current perspective on everything that went on eight months prior. It doesn't feel like much happened here, but I definitely appreciate the look at how the character dynamics have evolved since Book 1.
You have no idea how badly I wish that minor hiatus I ran into this year had been between 30/31 instead of 29/30. >_> But yes, I was going for a recap, to make it feel like a proper start to a new book, and I even had planned to take hiatus after 30, but life decided to interfere with my plans.

Thanks for the review! I know it was a quiet chapter, but hopefully it won't take too much longer for the plot to get in gear.

~Chibi~
 

Marika_CZ

Well-Known Member
MMM prize review is here! TA-DA!
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Seriously, apologies for taking so long to get to this. RL stuff and all that :/

So, I have read Prologue and Chapter 1 (I always choose them because reading a random chapter in a long runner seems pointless to me. I would be frustrated not to understand what is going on, or what are the characters talking about.).

My usual MMM disclaimer: Please take everything I say with a pinch of salt. Having read that little I will not know how you handled over plot, or if you adressed any oddities/initial conflict/character arcs etc. My whole review here will be basically first impressions, and might provoke a reaction like, "But Marika, all this is explained in Ch3!" I hope it will be at least a bit useful regardless, though.
Furthermore I will focus on plot, characters, setting and style, rather than grammar (I am not a native speaker so it wouldn't be my place to criticize anyway).

Revision 11? Oh my Arceus...! Chibi do I commend you for hard work and dedication, or do I criticize obsessing over this story too much :D
jk, it is totally up to you. I was genuinely surprised you edited it that many times on such a scale tho.

When I checked the author's notes section, I saw a comment warning about cliches in early chapters and chuckled. Were you really afraid it was so bad it warranted a warning? No worries! From what I saw, the kick off in this story doesn't seem ridden with cliches. There are some stamples we see often, sure (legendary pokemon appears and they are involved in the plot; a pokemon journey begins for main character/s; an early chance encouter with what will become a major character etc.) but those aren't bad tbh. As long as you do something really cool or clever with it afterwards, it is fair game in my books.
(Funny, I just realized one of my future stories will have all the three examples I mentioned, too)

So, onto Prologue. We get an opening with legendary Pokemon (Lugia apparently), commenting on the setting's history and foreshadowing inevitable war. I do not much to say about it; it is written nicely and does its job: to present us with a hook about a conflict that is about to happen. I was a bit surprised legandaries (or at least Lugia) refer to themselves as "legendaries" (since that is obviously a human term), but not just that, they apparently have some sort of secret society, too! XD

Second part of the prologue deals with the protagonist and their soon to be estranged friends (judging from the Ch1 narration), who will no doubt be important later on (ooooo I smell rivalry, opposite sides of the war, tearful reunions and "it is complicated" relationships developing... I love those when handled really well! Good job making me intrigued there).

So far it doesn't sound any special or original (a war that was prophetized and a Pokemon journey), but I will take your word for taking a new spin on these things.
This is a long chapter fic so you can afford starting slow here. And your pace seems honestly fair. I noticed for example the dialogue there doesnt shower me with exposition and character history... you say only what is really important (at least for now) - i.e. Jade's experience with her friends leaving and becoming lonely. This will be picked on in Ch1 to serve as a motivation for joining a certain group and starting the adventure. But you also do it in such a way that we get to see the chracters' peronalities without listing their traits directly, word by word. Starr is obviously rather mature for her age, being down-to-earth with changes in her life and predicting her friend's bahaviour. This also subtly tells me they are good judge of character or at least good with observations - and smart. I like! :)

Moving on to Chapter 1, we skip five years to meet Jade who is not exactly at the highest point of her life. She didn't pass the exam so no journey (more importantly separation from all her friends comes to play). Luckily her own adventure starts anyway, and on the same day too!
Seriously that felt a bit too fast. She didn't even have time to feel sorry about it all and we already meet Team Rocket, a legendary and the mysterious stranger (TM) who puts her on the path of a hero's quest.
It is no biggie, mind you. It is just these calls for adventure happen miraculously right when the protagonist seems at the dead end. XD
If we take everything our anti-Rocket friend says at the face value, Rockets are highly competent in this incarnation (also evidenced by organized attack on Entei, using all the tricks available). And there is apprantly a rebelious faction within the organization too. (I like stories with twists to the point I am a bit paranoid... I expect this person to actually not care about Team Rocket being stopped, but possibly using Jade as a pawn for their own agenda) This makes it rather interesting for me: how much of that is true, and how will this play out.
It means a lot of possibilities jade's character arc could go: Will she join some sort of undercover organization? Or maybe she will join Team Rocket as a mole (judging by the picture in your sig)? Or something else entirely?

We get some exposition on Team Rocket and then Jade gets a card, which gave me a pause... is that all there was written on that card? That is not just vague, that is insufficient :p Wonder what is Jade supposed to do once she gets to Vermillion harbor. She doesn't know even time she should appear at, or who she is supposed to talk to? Then again, there might be a reason for this, better explained in following chapters.

Contrary to your final note in Ch1 I actually think the cliffhanger idea was good. I am even more interested what happens to Jade after reading it! And I agree the length is just enough. We got adventure start and some hooks and potential conflicts introduced. There is no need to stretch it further. Nice time for a break and a little something to make me go back!

Not sure if I will have the luxury of following this story, as I already feel a bit overwhelmed by the others I have been reading.
I couldn't find anything outright wrong or jarring (or choppy as you suggested - I guess the multiple polishing efforts paid off) ;)

It was a cool read. Thanks for sharing, Chibi!
 

Starlight Aurate

Just a fallen star
Hello! Firstly, I want to apologize for two things:
1. I am here for your Monthly Mod Madness prize review, which is waaaaaay overdue. I have no excuse, life just got away from me. So I will have to ask your forgiveness.
2. I'll review the prologue and first chapter and the most recent chapter you posted. I feel like it's hard to get an idea of your current writing style and how much it may have changed if I only read what you wrote years ago. So I'm sorry for not thoroughly going through everything else ._.

Anyway, here we go!

Prologue:
I know this is years old, so it's not an accurate reflection of how write now, but there is a lot of purple prose in the part about Lugia. This is pretty typical and fitting for describing circumstances around a legendary, but it was a bit overwhelming.

The bit with the kids is bittersweet. The dialogue feels a bit stinted, but it does its job in setting up the characters and makes it very clear that the protagonist and Starr care for each other and are upset that she'll be leaving.
Not much else to say here; it was short, but enjoyable!

Chapter 1
The opening scene with the kids on their bikes and the Houndour coming in is really cute =) You definitely give us a feel for their childlike fun and innocence.

“You realize you’re pretty much the only person I know who hasn’t left on a journey yet?” The words were out of my mouth before I’d had time to fully think them through.

He shrugged. “I guess? But that’s only because I’m starting late.”

“Getting a license at thirteen isn’t that late. Not having a license at fourteen? That’s late,” I grumbled.

“Oh come on,” Rudy said, looking kind of bored with my complaints after having heard them a dozen times. “I still say you should just take Swift and leave, license or no license.”

I stared at him. “I’m not gonna train Pokémon illegally. I’m not that stupid.”
Not sure why, but I had a hard time following this. I couldn't tell if the protagonist was saying Rudy is 13 or 14, and then Rudy telling him to take a Pokemon and just leave made things a bit muddled for me. I caught on as I read on, but at first glance, it was hard to tell.

Well, a perfectly good day of biking had been cut short. The only thing I could think of to pass the time was… bike some more. It seemed like a nice day to go riding around town for a little bit, in any case… just to take my mind off things.
Lol this is me in real life every day.

You set the scene up to Jade walking into the burned woods really well. The buildup of not seeing Pidgey, to seeing smoke and then burned woods and smelling burning flesh was well-done, in my opinion.

“You underestimate the team’s influence,” he replied with a slight laugh. “They have agents working all over. Turning him in wouldn’t do anything.”
I like this; it's a lot like how I portray evil teams--they have so much power and influence in the world that they can't be arrested, because they would just be set free again by all the people working undercover for them.

“Crap… Don’t tell me they…” My eyes widened as the realization hit me like a brick.

I’d been spotted. And they were coming for me.
Well... that makes for an interesting little cliffhanger!

Overall, I do like the premise; in general, I love anything that has to do with the evil teams ^_^; I think you made the characters fairly good and believable, though it's hard to tell since we've seen so little of the random trainer and why his organization is just handing out the cards to just anyone. I think you've definitely got a good fic, and your writing style is catchy--not too over the top, but with enough detail so we can clearly envision what's going on. I think the story and plot are very interesting, and definitely something that leaves readers (at least me) wanting more and wanting to know what's next.

Chapter 31
"Go!” I called out, throwing the Pokéball forward.
For some reason, when I read this, the song that would play from the original anime series for Pokemon battles started playing through my head lol. Maybe the suspense just brought me back to a bit of my childhood =P

“Aqua Jet!” I called out
You're missing a period at the end.

Again, could barely hear her over the grinding of dirt as Steelix pivoted in the middle of the battlefield, keeping his massive head trained on Jet the entire time.
I don't know if you missed a word before "could," but as there's no subject in this sentence, I'm not sure who you're referring to having a hard time hearing. I assume it's the narrator, as it's common colloquial speech to leave out the subject, but it threw me off.

I thought the battle with Steelix was decently-written; you didn't linger too much on specifics, so it flowed by well. And Jet tackling her owner at the end and showing off for the crowd was downright adorable!

It had been eight months since the rebellion against Team Rocket was brought to a crushing end, and some days, when I was particularly distracted, I could forget about everything that happened and just be a normal trainer enjoying their journey throughout the Johto region.
I personally feel like 8 months is a bit quick to get over things as nightmarish and traumatizing as what she's been through. Having other things to do, especially being as busy as a Pokemon trainer, will certainly help, but still. For instance, most people I know who have been through a relationship break up have taken at least a year to fully get over it. I know people who have been through bad family issues and attempted suicide and it's taken them several years to get over and process that. So 8 months just... feels a bit short.

(Not that any of that had affected Jet. She’d immediately gone up to Starr’s team and tried to make friends with all of them, to varying degrees of success.)
Oh typical Jet. Definitely the sort of thing she would do =P

At least, until Jet poked my side and made grabby-hands at it.

I rolled my eyes and lowered the tray so she could reach it. “Here.” She shoved the remaining fistful of fries into her mouth.
Oh, that is just adorable.

"Since when do you to arrive early to anything?”
There's an extra "to" before "arrive."

This was a cute chapter! As Dragonfree said, it had a recap-ish feel, which I don't think is bad--I actually think it helps people who aren't familiar with the earlier parts of the fic get caught up and makes it easier for people who are new to it jump in. It wasn't too serious, except when dealing with Chibi's anxiety, and overall it was lighthearted. Your writing style is easy to follow--as I said in the beginning, it's not too descriptive, but also provides enough to give us a clear idea of what's going on. Even in the span of just this chapter, the different Pokemon have personalities that really shine through, and seeing them all play/fight on the beach is amusing.

My only problem with the fic is the one I addressed earlier with the short time period. Otherwise, I think you've done a very good job of writing it all and making your characters and story come to life. Good job!
 

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
The two of them hadn’t even technically been on my team until… what, five days ago? Longest five days of my life, but still.

Long five days indeed; it definitely feels as though it's been longer. Props for being able to keep track of the timeline even in the midst of so many major events taking place in-story; I know firsthand that keeping track of all the whens isn't always easy.

I pointed out a cluster of trees running along the trainer path, and Swift folded his wings back to spiral down towards it. I clutched his feathers tightly as we descended. I still hadn’t quite gotten used to how much swooping momentum there was to his flight—nothing like the straight-line hovering of Aros’s insect-like wings—and there were times it felt like I was going to slide right off his back.

Yeah you could NOT get me to fly on a pokémon. No nononono. XD;

I cupped my hands over my eyes as I squinted out at the rolling grassland. Now that I was paying closer attention, I could see that Ebony wasn’t just vanishing into the grass, she was literally vanishing, her body fading in and out in a flash of darkness. But once she noticed that she had another onlooker, the Houndoom quickly came trotting back to us, her tongue hanging out of her mouth.

Oh my gosh that is so doggy.

I sighed. “Fair enough.” I held up the Pokéball that Rudy had given me—the one that she’d been originally captured in. Then I pressed the center button to open it before tossing it in front of her. She didn’t waste a second. The ball had barely touched the grass before the sea weasel spat a narrow stream of water, soaking the inside of the ball.

The outer shell of a Pokéball was incredibly durable. The internal circuitry? Not so much. Her captured status was as good as gone.

This makes me wonder if some captures fail not because the pokémon escapes the ball but because the pokémon manages to break the ball outright and never actually gets pulled in by it to begin with.

“Look if you’ll just listen…” But Buizel had already gone back to cleaning herself.

Okay, maybe this is just because I have cats and they absolutely dgaf who sees them, uh, washing under their tails, but here I am helplessly imagining this fricking weasel doing precisely that, specifically as a show of how very few fricks she gives about Jade. XD

In that moment, it was easy to pretend everything was alright.

Ominous!

The iron snake slowly turned his oversized head, keeping his eyes on Jet as she dashed around to his other side. Suddenly, he lunged, massive jaws opening, boulder-sized teeth crackling with lightning. Jet saw him coming though

There are disadvantages to being a gigantic iron snake!

Jasmine frowned. “Autotomize,” she said. Again, could barely hear her over the grinding of dirt as Steelix pivoted in the middle of the battlefield, keeping his massive head trained on Jet the entire time. But this time, rather than pursue her, he began rotating his body segments. Slowly at first, then building in speed. Fast, faster, past the point that he should have been able to, moving so fast that his spines were just a blur. Finally there was a powerful crunch, and the outer layers of his metallic body snapped off, clattering to the floor with an echoing clang.

Dear brain: why did you initially read this as his tail snapping off?

“*I like sand,*” Aros replied defensively.

Somewhere, Anakin looks on with abject disgust.

“Oh man, thought you’d never ask!” he exclaimed, and I could practically hear the grin behind his voice. “Just got to the plateau. Man, you should see this place, it’s freaking huge. I can’t even tell how many stadiums they got here. I think five. It’s at least five. Man, even the side ones make Midnight Stadium look like kid stuff. They’ve got huge-ass shields too, so you can just cut loose and practice your attacks as hard as you want.”

I like it whenever in-game locations get expanded into something more realistic. Especially when said location is only afforded a single damn building in-game. XD Poor Indigo.

(See also: Ever Grande. How the heck does anyone get away with calling that a city in-game?)

In the background, I could just barely make out a muffled barking sound. “What? Oh yeah, Ebony says hi.”

SO DOGGY
 

Negrek

Lost but Seeking
Happy ficiversary! I thought now would be a good time to catch up on my reviews. Let's go!

Chapter 30

In the end, it was almost laughable how easily defeated my long-standing troubles with being an illegal Pokémon trainer were.
This sentence is a bit of a mouthful. Look at all the modifiers: "almost" laughable, "easily" defeated, "long-standing" troubles. If you read this one out loud I think you'll find it has a kind of odd lilting rhythm and feels like it runs on a bit. I think you'd be better off rewording it.

Or you might consider deleting it entirely. Summary sentences like this are often unnecessary and negate the tension in the following events (after all, you just told us Jade's going to pass this exam, and easily, but then go on for ~four paragraphs about it anyway). Starting with "I arrived at the league..." is more immediate, getting right to the action, and what do you lose by dropping the intro sentence?

I use summary sentences like these a lot, but it's a habit I'm absolutely trying to break. Food for thought!

Enduring countless battles, calming unruly experiments, facing down raging Legendaries.
I think you want another question mark at the end of this sentence.

The test ran through a wide array of topics.
Or here, rather than this summary, you could simply start the next sentence with, "The test ran through everything from..."

The trainer exam does provide a nice bit of context here, emphasizing how far Jade's come from when she was dreaming of being a trainer and how her problems have gotten way, way bigger since then. Appropriate for a wrap-up chapter.

Like he cared at all about beating opponents weaker than himself.
I think the meaning you're shooting for here is "Aros likes winning even if his opponents are way weaker"/"Aros likes beating other pokémon whether or not they're weaker than him" but the way it reads now this sentence suggests that he doesn't bother with opponents weaker than himself or doesn't consider those wins real victories.

Stygian smacked his leg with a paw. “*Idiot! I’m not leaving without you.*”
I was pretty surprised by this. I'd never gotten the impression that Stygian disliked Aros or anything, but nor had I gotten the impression that they were particularly close.

I still hadn’t quite gotten used to how much swooping momentum there was to his flight—nothing like the straight-line hovering of Aros’s insect-like wings—and there were times it felt like I was going to slide right off his back.
This is a nice detail. You don't often consider the differences in how pokémon move around, but flying on something like a charizard would definitely feel different than a flygon or altaria.

Nothing too serious—a potion should’ve been able to handle it.
Bad tense. A potion "would" handle it.

Or underestimated how strong Swift had before.
Swift *was, presumably.

So Jade makes a late addition to her team, a female member of the buizel line with an upbeat and feisty personality, a serious interest in getting stronger, and an unusual speech pattern... It's odd, I almost feel like I've seen this somewhere before... :p

But as the same time, I could get used to flying on Swift.
*at the

Where it had all began.
Either "where it all began" or "where it had all begun."

All in all I think this makes a solid end to Book 1. For me the highlights of the chapter were Jade's conversation with Rudy and the final scene with Jade flying on Swift. I think Rudy's scene does a great job of showing someone who's not okay and kind of struggling with where to go next after a tragedy, feeling like they have to keep it together for the sake of the people around them. It feels like a very realistic sort of response to what happened, and Jade's discomfort with how much she herself didn't notice anything amiss with Rudy's training was likewise pretty genuine. It was a melancholy but very nicely-written scene and contributed to the reflective tone of the chapter. Jade gets her victory in passing the licensing exam, but Rudy's walking a rather darker path and doing his best just to keep himself together. Gave the chapter some nice emotional depth and contrast.

And the final scene with Jade on Pidgeot just does a great job of capping the chapter, and book, with a great mixture of looking backwards and on towards the future. There's some really nice descriptive writing here, and I especially liked how you evoked the feeling of actually getting to ride a pokémon, the sensation of flying. The meeting with Ajia and Starr, as Jade remarks, does a great job of bringing everything full circle and giving a sense of closure to this part of the narrative. All in all this little scene really captures the bittersweet ending feel that I love, of things coming to a close and yet preparing to begin again. And of course, this story isn't actually over--we'll get to see just where Jade and her friends go off to. Nice work!

Chapter 31

I think maybe the board's new formatting is messing you up here. "July 3" is teensy.

Jet leaped onto the table, throwing a paw up to give him a high five and almost knocking my food tray to the floor if I hadn’t managed to catch it before it slid all the way off.
This sentence kind of goes in two different directions. You'd either want to end it after the word "floor" or change it to be something like "and would have knocked my food tray to the floor..."

That said, there were still a few nice public beaches out on the western edge of town. My shoes kicked up sand as I left the main path and walked down the gleaming white shores, shielding my eyes from the sun as I went.
Singular "shore," I think.

Not much to say about this chapter. Most of it was taken up by the battle with Jasmine. It was a solid battle, and kind of fun to see Jade fighting in a more formalized scenario than she usually has been in the past. Other than that, it did get a bit recap-ish, with a lot of summarizing both what we already know (who the various characters are) and what we don't (generally what's been going on since the last time we checked in). This makes sense as the start of a "second book," but since this isn't actually a separate book/story but only the start of a new section within a single fanfic it does seem a bit odd that we're getting reminded that the majority of Jade's team are experiments, etc.

This chapter does do a good job of making it feel as though it's genuinely been a few months since the last one, as the characters have genuinely advanced and there's enough calling back to what's been going on off-screen that it feels like the time gap has been explained. Rudy in particular sounds completely different than he did in the previous chapter. It was really cute to see Buizel eagerly demanding that Jade recount her old war-stories. I would have enjoyed some more references to specific events that happened on Jade's journey since the last time we checked in, but that's my only gripe there, really.

At this point I might wonder pointedly whether Jade will actually get to meet Rudy at the plateau or whether ~stuff~ will catch up with her in Blackthorn that will keep her away, but I seem to recall some in-progress art featuring a houndoom that was around chapter-header size, so I guess that answers that question. :p It is a little disappointing, for me, that we apparently only have the two chapters of trainerfic left and so far we haven't actually gotten to see Jade, Ajia, and Starr actually interact at all. I was really looking forward to seeing some of their friendship developing and how they kind of work out their various issues with each other, but it looks like we won't be getting much of that in this section. I imagine we'll be seeing loads of interaction between them in the future as the plot starts revving up again, but nevertheless, I had hoped for a little more chilling and just traveling, I guess.

In any case, Jade may have left Kanto to escape the Kanto Rockets, but moving to Johto does mean that she's right in the neighborhood of that one Rocket who literally has her (pokégear) number. Even if Stalker doesn't do something so egregious that Jade can't ignore it, he can just, like, show up in person and thrust the TR bullshit right back on her. Maybe she should head to Hoenn, I hear there's absolutely no Team Rocket presence there at all. :p

In the end, the start of any major story arc tends to be relatively quiet, and this one does what it needs to: fills us in on the current situation and give an idea of where the story's going to head from here.

Once again, happy ficiversary, and belated congratulations on making it to the end of Book 1! And past the end of Book 1! It sounds as though there's a lot of exciting stuff going on in Book 2, and I hope you've had a good time working on it so far. I'm looking forward to getting to see all these scenes you've had knocking around in your head for years. As long as you're still writing, you can expect to see me here reading. Here's to another year!
 
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