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The Origin of Storms

Discussion in 'Completed Fics' started by Sike Saner, Sep 19, 2014.

  1. DreamSayer

    DreamSayer Dreamzone Trainer

    I saw that Worldslayers was apparently a sequel to this story, so I decided to start from where it all began to avoid any confusion from arising.

    The chapter opens up with an interesting dream sequence, albeit that's a bit cliché, but I digress. It hinted at a traumatic experience. The mention of an extinction event also piques curiosity. Humans were all wiped out from the globe? That's surprising to say the least.

    I can't help but wonder how that happened. Nuclear Fallout? Viral outbreak? Or something far more supernatural and beyond anyone's control? I'll have to find that out as I read more of the story.
     
  2. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner *aromatisse noise*

    DreamSayer: Hi!

    Yep, that's right: humans have been more or less eradicated. I think that was one of the first what-ifs to pop into my mind when I started doing pokéfic, and I just kind of ran with it, unfortunately for actual billions of fictional characters. :B

    That's the out-of-universe explanation, anyway. As for when the in-universe explanation will come your way... that answer belongs to time. For now.

    Thanks for the read and reply; it was a very nice surprise! :D
     
  3. Chibi Pika

    Chibi Pika Stay positive

    Alright. It is finally time. As amusing as it would be for my to bumble through Worldslayers with only a cursory knowledge of the cast, when I saw how short this fic was, I figured, “why not.” :D

    And my first realization is that I have been misspelling Esaax as “Essax” since, like… forever. And not accidentally— very much intentionally! I was 100% certain that was how it was spelled! In fact, I’m still half-convinced that that’s how I first saw it, and that it clearly must have changed at some point. >8[ (This is like the Berenstain nonsense all over again I swear.)

    I really like the feeling of disorientation you convey regarding what it feels like to have someone die while psychically linked with them.

    See, the idea of migratory Wobbuffet has literally never occurred to me. This is the best part about your fics—introducing all these strange and novel ideas about how wild Pokémon live. ^^

    I’m sorry, but no. The idea of a tiny ice cone driving a car is absolutely hilarious.

    Also it’s no doubt convenient for you that when Gen 4 rolled around, Froslass turned out to be exclusive to female Snorunt, otherwise it might have seemed odd that Jen had to resist the Glalie evolution for so long when there was another perfectly good alternative available. (At least, it sure seems like a Dire Thorn is much rarer and harder to come by than a Dawn Stone!)

    Blame Negrek for giving us the phrase “spontaneous baby combustion” and making me giggle inappropriately to this. :V

    Okay that’s just a neat detail.

    Why do I feel like he just walked into a cult. :T

    Yepppp, as I suspected, her “change in senses” was actually a roundabout way of saying that she’s evolved. Which means that Gengar totally just evolved Esaax. Wtf rude. (Please enjoy that absurdly understated reaction to such a serious breach of consent.)

    Even worse is the fact that Esaax has never evolved, since he hatched as a Wobbuffet instead of a Wynaut. (But the fact that Ntairow’s son is a Wynaut implies that incense Pokémon can be born in the wild, it just probably requires very specific circumstances. I’ll be interested to see if this gets addressed later!)

    Major props on that downright visceral description of Esaax’s evolution btw. Felt like something straight out of Animorphs.

    Oh duh. Of course it wasn’t a Gengar. The form of a ghost is just useful for slipping into places you’re not supposed to be. :T

    …I swear there’s a FNAF joke in here somewhere.

    After what happened in Bad Idea, I have a hard time believing that Karo was remotely fazed by this. :p

    His species hadn’t been revealed yet by this point, so it feels weird having it inserted into the narration prematurely.

    8[ *Glances back at the title of chapter 10.* I HAVE SEVERAL CONCERNS.

    you can’t make me scroll down you can’t make me scroll down

    I like how we don’t get a description. :p

    Syr knows who she is? The

    That battle was pretty awesome. :D Alain had some decent strategy going on with the Disable and paralysis attempts, but unfortunately there’s not much you can do when facing down something with that kind of defensive prowess. With physical attacks, no less. :p

    I’ve noticed a few stray asterisks scattered throughout the previous chapters. Placeholders for something else?

    “Charging up his nose.” x’D I imagine it’s got to be worth it to write Nosepass just to be able to use phrases like that. I take back everything bad I ever said about Nosepass when I was 13.

    Omg we actually get to meet the Smeargle gang and I immediately love them. Hopefully they’re not about to become sliced deli meat. Esaax just said he wasn’t hungry! D:

    And omg Smeargle fight… infinite move potential. This is gonna be glorious.

    At least it would if he hadn’t just skewered one of them geez. At the very least, you’re reassuring me that one of my upcoming chapters isn’t as excessively brutal as I thought it was. xD;

    “Maybe somewhere out there”... I knew it. James’s Inkay is gonna help him get through this. It all makes sense!!! 8D (Waiting to read this until post-Gen-6 was worth it just for that one joke.)

    Please do not vomit, Esaax. I think the sight of your stomach’s current contents would traumatize you even further than you already are.

    Omg Mark sketched Reflux, that’s brilliant, I never would have guessed.

    This story feels a lot less random after having read Ntairow’s explanation of Healers. Although it does make it sound like it’s something that only a select few of the Wobbuffet line are capable. Does DeLeo know that, or did he just get lucky that Esaax happens to be one of them?

    Aaaaaaand the award for “world’s largest nose hole” goes too--

    ...Oh. That explains what that last move was, then.

    I am now wondering how long it took him to recover from that bad idea of his. If he’s over 6000 years old… what percentage of that was he even conscious? xD

    I’m surprised I hadn’t commented on this yet, but I find it odd that Syr has such an aversion to Glalie. Did he have some kind of past trauma with one? (I can totally understand Jen’s aversion, but Syr’s strikes me as more unusual.)

    Alright, let me see if I have this straight. Kwazai are supposed to be dark-type, right? (Given what we saw of Acheron.) But because of Esaax's forced evolution, his energy is imbalanced. And… Ntairow can absorb it? Is she not a dark type (but… capable of safely holding dark energy?)

    And regarding his forced evolution… there was that injection from DeLeo… but also the evo stone from Adn? Which one actually did it? (Also there was that bit where Adn went all stabby stabby on him, and I feel like that must be important somehow.) Actually, I am left with the same question I had at the end of Communication: what was Adn’s deal???

    But anyways, final thoughts! Absolutely the standout for me is the characters. Esaax and Syr are fantastically developed throughout the course of the story, especially with regards to all the loss that they’ve endured, and the way that they deal with that loss. And even the side characters like Jen and Karo all had tons of fun little moments to liven things up (Karo especially, I did not expect to love him so much.) xD

    Like all your stories, I love the focus on Pokémon culture and the details behind the way the world works. The entire concept of autoempathic shock was a brilliant way to tie in Wobbuffet’s Pokedex entries with its in-battle behaviors. And everything about Haven’s setup was particularly fascinating--making use of psychic powers for mental health treatment is just ingenious, and a great way to take an establishment that exists in our world and put a unique Pokémon spin on it.

    I do admit, like Communication it occasionally felt like the fic couldn’t quite decide what it wanted to be about. Not half as severely, mind you (but that’s to be expected, given that this one came first). But we start out with the ominous warning from Faurur, then move on to Esaax trying to recover from her death, getting royally effed up, then the plot centers around his evolution for awhile as the earlier plot threads are forgotten. DeLeo gets a heck of a lot more buildup than he did in Communication, but then very little follow through, as his motives don’t even get mentioned, despite them being pretty important to Esaax’s forced evolution. And Adn gets no explanation at all! o__o

    That said, I’m sure this goes without saying, but the emotional impact of the Kwazai plot is a thousandfold here compared to Communication, where it was a sort of awkward last-minute sideplot that the reader couldn’t totally get invested in. In fact, I think the setup, development, and resolution of Esaax’s healing ability subplot was probably the most polished aspect of the entire fic. And in general, where this fic shines is that its shorter, more focused duration allows it to pick a few aspects of the story and really dig deep into the emotions and the trauma and the fallout. I’m just glad I didn’t read this back in 2004, because I think the wait to find out what the heck was up with those abandoned plot threads would have killed me. :p

    Looking forward to finally getting some of those much-needed answers in Worldslayers! ;)

    ~Chibi~;249;;448;
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2017
  4. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner *aromatisse noise*

    Chibi Pika: Hi there!

    Mirror universe wherein I spelled that with a double S instead of a double A (and probably also let the poor bastard live): confirmed.

    Fwiw, the double-S spelling might technically be a better/more intuitive fit for the pronunciation since that is literally just a short A sound (one of my cousins once referred to him as Ex-Lax XD; ). I can't actually remember if there was a specific reason I went with double-A in the end. If there was it was probably something like "let's weaken that sibilant there". Ess-ax rather than Ess-sax. Idk.

    It occurs to me I've never done a pronunciation guide for these heckers. Future to-do, perhaps?

    YEAH LIKE... I imagined that had to be an incredibly freaky thing to experience, put mildly. Probably weirder than I portrayed it, actually, given that this is a wobbuffet we're talking about here, but there it is.

    Well, a lot of 'em probably do have populations that are 1.) decently big and 2.) scattered. So I figure that yeah, there's going to be at least some degree of variation in the customs of many if not most given species. Especially since most "wild" pokémon probably don't have internet access, thus greatly limiting their awareness of how people far away ("far away" being relative, of course) do things compared to what we have access to.

    I think the reason I brought in migratory wobbuffet was just because it made a nice, stark contrast to how the Evergray tend to live their lives; most of the latter never set foot outside their cave. Quite a few of them never see a single ray of sunshine. And then along come these people who decidedly do NOT stay put and who give rather fewer fricks about traveling in daylight if they have to, and so when they leave and one of the Evergray tries to follow, yeah.

    That it is! I imagine they pop up in like... maybe two different regions. Out of frick knows how many there are in the world.

    It's all right; I laugh too. We're all going to hell together. 8D

    Indeed they can! And to my knowledge I don't go into detail about it until... ever, come to think of it.

    So then! About the Fade: they're a breakaway from the Mirage Island clan. Mirage Island, of course, was swarming with wynaut, so I figured there had to be SOMETHING in the mix there that was allowing these guys to be born unevolved; I just don't think I ever really settled on exactly what. Something genetic, I supposed at first--maybe it causes them to naturally produce a hormone that most wobbuffet no longer do on their own, and that delays evolution for the babbies? But then again, if you catch a wynaut off Mirage Island and breed that without incense, what do you get? Not a wynaut, that's what. Soooooo... hmm. Maybe there's something in the air outside of Mirage Island that suppresses the production of said hormone in all wobbuffet, and lax incense stimulates production in spite of it somehow. And maybe the Fade don't need incense at all on account of some mutation resulting from generations of sun exposure due to their nomadic lifestyle. We just don't know.

    :D :D :D

    Honestly Animorphs is probably an even bigger influence on me (or at least on my sci-fi/horror) than I'm aware of, and that's probably saying something. I loved that ****. I still do. :D

    Tbh Madeline probably would've been better off crushed in an animatronic bunny suit as opposed to what happened to her instead. :B

    Yeah he gave very few ****s. :B

    Looks like a relic from a previous version that managed to survive past its time. Will fix once this is posted. :D

    Will also deal with the rogue asterisks. I honestly have no idea how those got there. XD;

    Yep! He and Karo discussed the humans in their lives from time to time prior to the events of this story.

    (Well... mostly Karo did, tbh. It was easier for him.)

    Between this, the implied horrors/squick of how they actually eat anything, and occasions that warrant the use of the phrase "nose hole", it very much is. 8D

    YES SMEARGLE ARE SO MUCH FUN. They're basically wild cards (as are ditto, but in a different way), and I love the freedom that comes with that.

    And yeah field-hazard impalements are a doozy, ain't they? :B Though I have to say, the scene that always puts me in jfc did I seriously actually write that?! mode is the hoothoot scene sdffsfd... XD

    It's actually present in most wobbuffet, but completely dormant in all but a small percentage. DeLeo was aware of this, but he'd been assured that the Magical Evolution Unlocking Juice would unlock that power, as well.

    Granted, Esaax already had it unlocked (to the extent wobbuffet can, anyhow), and by the time DeLeo brought that syringe out Esaax had already told him enough to make him suspect as much and hope even more. But when it all came down to it, DeLeo just couldn't stand to take chances where the resurrection of his BFFs was concerned.

    PROBABLY NOT MUCH OF IT TBQH. XD Hence why he's not the all-knowing sage someone might expect of someone who's been around that long. Dude's missed quite a bit.

    Literally all it took was for him to turn around at some point on his way north to Convergence all those years ago and find SUDDENLY A HUGE ****ING FACE where he hadn't expected one. Seeing as this was the time of the human extinction and all the chaos that naturally went with it, he was already hells of rattled to begin with. In a sense, glalie are more a scapegoat for some deeper, more nebulous fear that Syr has yet to be able to put a finger on.

    Disregarding the lack of fingers, of course.

    Male kwazai tend to be dark/psychic, while female kwazai tend to be purely psychic. The type disparity has its origins in the same place as the nidoran-esque dimorphism: I just couldn't pick. XD; Anyway, ordinarily the dark and psychic aspects of a kwazai get along just fine. Esaax being essentially "hacked" into compatibility with an eclipse stone is indeed exactly why that wasn't the case with Esaax. Ntairow's reasoning was that as a same-species individual with no resistance to the dark type, linking to him in the specific manner she chose would naturally draw in his excessive dark energy through... some sort of elemental osmosis, I guess you could call it. Whereupon she'd presumably suffer it like any other dark-type attack, and then said energy would dissipate into the environment as she recovered.

    She just wasn't counting on said darkness developing sentience and a will to survive. No one was.

    The answer to that, in this case, was both. The eclipse stone triggers evolution in compatible wobbuffet, which by default most wobbuffet are not. (Mirage and Fade wobbuffet, by contrast, are.) Without the injection, the stone would have done about as much for Esaax as it would've done for a sock.

    What WAS Adn's deal? Funnily enough, it actually ties into said stabby thing!

    And I may as well get into the details here, since as of the last couple of chapters of Communication some of this no longer applies.

    Adn, or rather Anomaly, is a shiny hunter. Anomaly is also a shiny ditto, and their idea of hunting involves collecting genetic material from other pokémon--the rarer, the better--and incorporating it into themself in some esoteric manner that would allow them to become an accurate replica of said pokémon even in the donor's absence, as well as to inject their own shininess into the mix regardless of whether or not the donor was shiny. That's what the stabby thing was: Anomaly was acquiring a bit of Esaax's DNA. (Told ya Animorphs was a bigass influence. :p)

    They did the same thing to Jen, too, after the latter became a cryonide.

    Of course, what they didn't account for was the exact sort of weirdness that could result from biohacking a psychic-type. Namely, the formation and ejection of a sentient elemental what-the-****. As such, they couldn't have expected that such a being would eventually latch onto the nearest available transform-knowing lifeform as a host to replace Esaax. (Esaax didn't know transform, of course. Otherwise he'd have become a nullshade rather than becoming terminally unstable. :B) And Anomaly had no idea whatsoever that leading someone to evolve into something they'd never even heard of would ultimately result in their own evolution into something they'd never heard of--something unable to transform, thus costing them their entire precious collection of transformations in the process.

    Anyhoozle! Glad you had a good time reading this. Thanks lots for the read 'n' reply; it really made my night/afternoon. :D
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
  5. Cutlerine

    Cutlerine a lonesome harp guitar

    I was thinking on the train to work today that I'd like to read some fic, and I couldn't find any that I felt would absorb me for the requisite hour and a half, and then I remembered that this fic exists and thought I'd revisit it, seeing as how your current fic is picking up a bunch of its threads and doing some interesting things with them. Then I thought that if I was going to read it, I might as well review it too, only of course it's pretty old now and, as The Worldslayers demonstrates, you're a better writer than you were when you wrote it, so instead of criticism of things that are no longer issues for you here's some … I don't know, thoughts and impressions and things, organised by idea instead of chronology because apparently I just want to make my life harder.

    One of the hallmarks of your fics is this sort of slow-burning opening, where little things keep happening until they build up into something bigger; this one's very similar, but you can really tell how much better you've got at handling that sort of thing when you compare it to, say, The Worldslayers. Chapter one just introduces Esaax; chapter two, Syr; chapter three builds on Esaax's past and introduces Adn; chapter four helps set up the world and chapter five sets the reader up to expect the deranics to be a big part of the story. And like – aside from the fact that after that one mention the deranics drop out of the story entirely, which is kind of not great, all of this feels a lot more like just some stuff happening than a world and atmosphere solidifying. You sort of unify it around Esaax's return from hospital, but I'm not sure the structure holds. But that's fine! Like I said, I'm not here to critique a story that isn't representative of your current ability; I'm much more interested in pointing out how far you've improved since. I love seeing people get better at the stuff they do, it's the best thing.

    Also, I'd forgotten Esaax's past as a starring character in the anime, so that came as kind of a surprise. I've never really watched it, so I had to look up Palmpona, which is, uh, the weirdest damn name, honestly, why would you name something almost Pamplona but not quite, especially when a cursory read through Bulbapedia doesn't suggest any similarities to Pamplona at all.

    Next up: the effect of biology on culture. Your pokémon are always really interesting, in that they're very human and also very not at the same time, and that's as true of The Origin of Storms as it is of any of your other stories. There's this wonderful thread running right the way through the story of the ways in which different species' particular physiology deeply affect their culture or worldview: the way weezing, whose lives are a series of increasingly spectacular explosions, see the spirit in air and fire, as revealed in chapter five; or the particular unfazed phlegmatic nature of the negligibly senescent nosepass; the way you build out – utterly brilliantly – a whole physiological underpinning that makes wobbuffet make sense, and that informs so much of the way they act, towards each other and to other species. These are some really standout ones, but there are also little things, like Jen not wanting to give up hands (in a scene that makes me wonder where the fuel for all these cars comes from these days) for the eerily beautiful cryokinetics by which glalie manipulate objects in the world around them, or the quick, practised partial transformations that Anomaly does as they shuffle between the shapes necessary for each of the tasks at hand. Then there's the way that individuals can be affected in specific ways too, as with the subtypes that you introduce in chapter sixteen, giving individual pokémon just that little bit more personal variety. Everything is so well thought out. It's wonderful.

    Another really elegant aspect to the story is your command of tonal shifts. It's a common thing throughout, but it shines particularly well in chapters twelve and thirteen, where you move with perfect fluidity and confidence between comedic Karo and serious Syr and Ntairow, sometimes switching between tones in the space of a single paragraph. Thirteen in particular has that little two-word intrusion into the middle of Ntairow beating up the smeargle, 'Karo cheered', and while it comes and goes so fast you could miss it if you blinked, it's probably the best line of the chapter. The balance between humour and darkness, and their sometime combination into black comedy, is very finely struck – and it's something I'd forgotten you did, since it isn't so much of a thing in The Worldslayers, which is much more melancholy, as befits a story that takes place after the rest of all that pain.

    The last big Idea thing I want to talk about, before this just devolves into a list of bits and pieces that I really liked, is the way you sustain a really interesting theme throughout: the malfunctioning of the body. In this story, bodies are constantly overspilling their bounds, rupturing and bursting and going wrong in creative ways; trauma makes them shut down (as with Esaax), or they spill out past their own limits (Karo, Faurur, Jen and his accidental cryokinesis), or they are torn apart (uh, lots of people), or they collapse into a liquid state that refuses any categorical definition, or they strive to complete growth patterns that their owners don't want (Jen again). And you have an entire chapter devoted to one extended body horror sequence, and a plot that hinges on the unethical transformation of another person's body. It doesn't feel like a coincidence that the two major locations are both places of healing, at least in theory; it's a story of anatomies and sicknesses, and above all of trauma – trauma that, in that weird literalised metaphor that pokémon are so good for, peels itself loose and becomes its own separate semi-hallucinatory thing that urges Esaax on to ever more destructive behaviour before breaking free completely from him in that spectacular denouement at Hope. It's extremely well done, and I think that somehow I managed to miss it the first time I read this story, despite the fact that it's a huge part of what makes it such a good tale.

    Now! A whole bunch of other random crap that refused to fit neatly into one of the big idea paragraphs. Esaax's Very Bad Decision Day in chapter seven made me smile; like oh my god, dude, I know you're super traumatised and very desperate but maybe at least ask a question or two before you let the vaguely creepy guy you literally just met inject you with a mysterious serum. I also very much enjoyed seeing Syr get all angry-caring in chapter eight; having been reading The Worldslayers, I'd kind of forgotten how different a presence he was back in the beginning.

    Speaking of Syr! I have to give him the dad of the year award for abandoning his son not once but twice at a hospital with strangers, on one of those occasions when Jen was extremely distressed from trying to suppress his latent glalie-ness, and on the other, just asking a woman he met literally an hour or so ago to look after him. I know, I know, Jen's not that young, but like, come on, Syr.

    Then there's Karo, who has always been a delight. I like nosepass, even if they're sorta terrible in-game, and fic is such a good arena to give that kind of pokémon more love. And yet a lot of people don't do it, sticking to the cool or cute over the interesting, goofy or gross. Which is a shame, because the conceptually interesting are my favourite, and the grotesque are a close second. But like, one thing I really like about your fics is that you can be relied upon to do things like that.

    Other great things about chapter ten: the first hint of Ren. You appreciate all this so much more when you revisit it, but your world – however dubious some of the early foreshadowing is, like the bit with the deranics – has such a strong sense of history and connectedness. It's just wonderful.

    Solonn's outburst in chapter fourteen is one of the highlights of the story, and it would be remiss of me not to talk about it here. What's so good about it is that it highlights exactly how unnecessary DeLeo's plan is. He could have asked. It might even have worked! There's definitely a debate to be had about the ethics of it, because Esaax is in a super vulnerable position with regard to his mental health, but he could've done it – could've talked about the kwazai's healing potential, could probably have brought him around to voluntary participation in the programme. And yet – he didn't. Because he couldn't quite see Esaax enough as a person to do it; he could only see in terms of tools and opportunity. And you don't say any of this, but you don't need too. You imply it, and it's all very cool.

    I've mentioned in other reviews how much I like the way you deal with very game mechanic-y kind of things like block that make much less sense in fiction than in-game; there are some great examples of that in here, too, from the original instance of Karo's block field to the cool explanation of the four-move limit. Trust a human to come up with some nonsense like that, although in the end I guess Ren was right; Karo did end up both very good and very creative with the moves he does know.

    So yeah! That's my little revisit to The Origin of Storms. Not so very little now I've typed it all up, but, uh, I have a very long commute, so y'know, it was a fun way of passing the time. Perhaps I'll go back and have another look at your other fics sometime; I've really enjoyed seeing all these characters and ideas again. I'll be waiting for your next Worldslayers update with interest.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2017
  6. Ambyssin

    Ambyssin Chimera Puppy

    So, I was not about to make the mistake of trying to read The Worldslayers blind. Nope, nuh-uh, wasn’t going to happen. Instead I figured I’d just make a fool of myself reading this instead. I seem to have a nasty habit of leaving reviews after Cutlerine or Negrek which make them look pretty silly, but oh well. Let me start by saying that the only thing I could use to summarize this story is one word: surreal. Like, it wasn’t necessarily all that mindscrewy, but it felt to me like there was a such a large level of supernatural elements percolating through the entire story. Not to mention what feels like a sense of desolation and even abject horror. I am not a big horror movie guy. In fact, I never see them. But I enjoyed the creepy elements and overall unnerving atmosphere that just plodded along through the story. Like, there was a mass extinction event of some sort, and mentally I kind of envisioned a ruined/bad future type of world. But things aren’t actually that bad. The Pokémon have functioning communities with hospitals and vehicles. And nature is still present, as the chapters in the forest show. The biggest bizarro element for me is, of course, the fakemon tidbit. I couldn’t properly visualize what you were going for with the kwazai, so I ended up with some kind of Wobbuffet-colored xenomorph in my brain. But maybe that works to my benefit, because it made the creepy things like Esaax’s monstrous rampage read as even more creepy. Like something straight out of monster flicks.

    Beyond that, there’s just how humanized (or anthropomorphic?) the Pokémon have become in the absence of people. I never really found myself questioning it throughout the story, since it’s not overly consequential to the overall plot. It’s just nice to see something like that in an actual fic because I’m fairly certain I’ve dreamed or daydreamed of something like that before and thought myself to be completely crazy. And all of this doesn’t touch on the fact that this story is following some canon anime characters. While not the central part of the plot, it was important because otherwise the character relationships and dynamics would’ve made absolutely no sense.

    I don’t know if you intended this to read as supernatural/horror or not, but that was what was running through my head the whole time. And I enjoyed it more than I did most of the horror movies I’ve had to suffer through, so good job! Now, some individual chapter thoughts.

    Ch 1
    Quite the opening you have to start with. My personal visualization skills are not great, so I didn’t realize Esaax was a Wobbuffet until it was outright stated. But I like how vague things were to start. In a sense (or just call me crazy), it reads like a written equivalent of waking up and having all your senses slowly turn on and recalibrate and your brain shift from dreamscape (beta waves) to conscious thinking (alpha waves). It’s so subtle that it makes this wham line really stand out:

    Hit me like a ton of bricks, that’s for sure.

    The rest of the chapter is interesting because of such a strong degree of – I don’t know how to say it – humanization(?) of the Pokémon. Almost as if a contigent of them are trying to pick up from where humans left off. I’m not entirely sure at this point, but it does the job of making me interested to find out. Also, the idea of a Wobbuffet (the original lethal joke Pokémon) working out to make itself stronger is extremely amusing and I’m not sure if I’m supposed to take it seriously or satirically. I kind of went with the latter, but I may be reading it wrong.

    Ch 2
    There’s something so surreal about this opening scene. Quite frankly, this one bit sums everything up better than I possibly could:

    Are you kidding? That’s hilarious! :p

    As for what follows, holy smokes! So, Esaax basically has the Wobbuffet equivalent of an autoimmune disease, so to speak. It’s so strange to see, but it’s actually a very interesting explanation for how a Wobbuffet’s tail works (one of the questions that’s stumped everyone). It has this almost reflex-like connotation to it, where it takes copious amounts of active resistance to stop things. I don’t know if the neuroscience references were intentional or if it’s my job bleeding into how I read this, but that’s what I got from it.

    Ch 3
    So, I see you start with (correct me if I’m wrong) a male, shiny Gardevoir that’s acting like one part therapist and one part psychoanalyst (eat your heart out Freud). Anyway, Esaax backstory time. First off, it’s very odd for me to think of/imagine a nomadic tribe of Wobbuffets because they walk pretty funny. So, thinking of them walking about is kind of silly for me. But, eh, it’s unimportant. He was a Game Corner Pokémon. I feel like that’s an element you don’t tend to see pop up much, so credit where it’s due and…

    … I must look like suuuuuch an idiot for not realizing this earlier. This would make the Arbok one of Jessie’s Pokémon too, then? I’ve got to say, with the way the first two chapters went, I really wasn’t expecting this. Either I’m very gullible or your narration made the reveal all the more surprising. Or maybe it’s both. In any case, gosh an extinction plague is quite the 0-100 scenario. You make it sound like a bunch (or one) Darkrai did something really bad, but I’m probably wrong in that regard. So, in the end, Esaax was basically in a neurologic rehabilitation hospital/center. And now he’s getting discharged. Hooray!

    Ch 4
    There’s always something funny about arguments where one side is telling the other they can’t do something and it escalates until the realization sets in that they literally can’t do what they want because of specific reasons. I mean, Pokémon driving cars is pretty funny in it of itself. But the meat of this chapter is way more serious. Mysterious Xatu aside, that is certainly quite a take on James’ Weezing after she was ditched in Hoenn or whatever. The idea of Weezing and Wobbuffet together seems really unusual at first, but somehow you make it work. It’s probably because the specifics are mostly glossed over in favor of a quick rundown. That’s how it feels anyway. I mean, good grief, you’ve gotta feel bad for Esaax with everything that went wrong there. I don’t blame him for totally breaking down.

    Ch 5
    So, immediately a few things are brought to mind with Faurur. The first, of course, being dying of old age and just the natural wear and tear that takes over the body. Maybe this is odd, but simply describing her as “deflated” is extremely effective without being overly-descriptive. Second, where she is just brings homeless individuals to mind. So it’s kind of chilling. And then we have this group of sky-worm-dwellers/deranics that are apparently planning to do something strange to the world. Maybe they’re responsible for the human extinction. It seems that, in any case, Esaax may have some sort of touch-related power(?) as Faurur ends up going poof via fireball exactly like Drasigon. At this juncture I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. Maybe it’s Esaax absorbing their pain and then involuntarily returning it in a lethal way? Or maybe I’m just stupid and ignore this. <.>;

    Ch 6
    Now Esaax is having a bit of a mental breakdown. I don’t know why, but there’s a bit of black comedy to calling him a zombie. Maybe it’s just how I read it. On a more serious note, it’s very interesting how the Pokémon have these apparent mental health centers. I only say that because I’m familiar with their makeup in our world, so it’s so unusual seeing it applied to Pokémon. I will say I’m not entirely sure who’s doing what with that bit with the ice tree. Is that Esaax, Jen, or some combination of them doing that?

    Anyway, moving on to the Hope Institute, I see you’re going for more of a religious/spiritual healing angle. Which is a nice difference from the hospital Esaax started out in. Although, I was expecting some sort of group therapy thing but it quickly gave way toward something more suspicious with Solonn guiding Esaax into some sort of mysterious encounter, which is immediately addressed at the start of the next chapter, I believe.

    Ch 7
    So, being honest here, I’m not sure what to make of the start, personally speaking. Like, it’s clear that Esaax is troubled and DeLeo’s trying to help but that’s where I get uncertain. It’s just me reading too deep into it, but with how vaguely DeLeo gets described, it just somehow sets off red flags in my head for some reason. The chapter doesn’t go that way. DeLeo reveals he’s human and seems to offer Essax something that could help bring out his latent power. Though, again, some sort of weird, untested serum just creeps me out and makes me super skeptical. It seems like DeLeo’s just a genuinely nice guy so I’m not sure why I feel this way, maybe it’s just because of how unusual the setup to the encounter was. Like, if you get pulled aside by a stranger and taken back for some sort of surprise private session, you’d probably feel creeped out.

    Ch 8
    Welp, the serum made him sick. I guess I was right to be suspicious, then? It’s just so… ironic that the spiritual healing place ends up with a syringe that puts Esaax back into the medical hospital. Syr’s acting like a desperately concerned parent, which is kind of adorable and I suppose makes sense given he’s “adopted” Jen, so to speak. But that’s all quickly pushed aside for something very bizarre that I’m not sure how to describe. A Gengar drops some sort of shard and then I can’t quite tell what it does to Esaax but suddenly we’re in the past with Ntairow and a son that Esaax apparently had. And I’m not sure if this is time travel, or a dream, or some kind of fabric of reality shenanigans. But suddenly it feels like we’ve taken a turn toward supernatural horror. I must say, the zig-zagging throws me off with how sudden it can be, but dang if it didn’t continue to surprise me every time.

    Ch 9
    Holy body horror, Batman! Once again, my mental visualizing kind of fails me here. And it’s not like the evolution is a bloody/gory change or anything. But it’s extremely unsettling for me, and makes me feel like I’m in the midst of some sort of grotesque monster reveal in a horror flick. Not helping things is Anomaly, who’s just silently removing evidence of its deed from the room. This is only further exemplified by the creepy, shadowy hand trying to get Esaax while he’s unconscious. Then there’s the fact that he’s been completely restrained and is now exhibiting this threatening behavior. The only thing this makes me think of is xenomorphs for some reason, but I can’t put my finger on why. I’ll just say it’s really creepy, very unsettling, and if that’s what you were going for I’d say you totally succeeded.

    Ch 10
    Not letting up on the horror element at this point. Syr goes into a friend’s house only to find it ransacked and the guy lying conked out on the floor. Yeah, that gave me the chills. As did the whole bit with the mace. And then Karo just goes on the attack, like some sort of dormant suit of armor coming to life. The situation kind of resolves itself, but you managed to get a bit of a jumpscare out of me there (did I use that word right?). It’s pretty funny how totally lax Karo is, especially when you consider how tense everything’s been up to this point. Though, if you want creepy, take the stuff that follows. Madeleine, whatever made you thinking going into Esaax’s cell alone was a good idea? Well, in contrast to the evolution scene, this bit was far more visceral and, again, made me think of a monster movie. Like, it’s amazing how creepy things managed to get after Faurur passed.

    Ch 11
    Okay, so I finally get the revelation of just what it is Esaax has become and, hoo boy, as far as Fakemon(?) go, kwazai seem pretty darn terrifying. I stand by my xenomorph comparison; or maybe I’m just really stupid. The gym battle flashback was possibly the most intimidating uses of Bide and Counter I’ve read in a fic so far. Actually, I don’t really think I’ve seen them used much at all, so that’s cool, I guess. And, in the same chapter, we have a second kwazai’s introduction right off the bat. And said kwazai is Ntairow, which I guess makes that other scene from Ch 8 something in the present. For some reason I thought Ntairow was already completely out of the picture by this time. Of course, they discover the dead Madeleine and the decision’s made to go after Esaax. Which, I’m going to venture a guess might not go over too well.

    Ch 12
    YUP OKAY TOTALLY RIGHT THINGS GOING BAD. Jeez, was that eating scene totally primal. Like, I would think forebrain could override the primal instincts of the hindbrain but apparently in kwazai that is not the case and boy is it nasty. Though, there are bits like this:

    Where some of the snark and humor from the early chapters pops up despite how dark things have turned. It’s still fun and quirky and I like it.

    Anyway, so you finally give the tidbit about Esaax’s mysterious rainbow glowing. I expected it had something to do with healing/life force. That just serves to make it all the more ironic that he’s ended up as something that’s quite adept at taking life away instead. I’m sure that was intentional. Oh, and poor Karo. Stuck in the first stage of grief about losing Red. Or maybe he’s just that dense? Oh wow, that was a terrible joke. I’m surprised the Smeargles managed to put a stop to Esaax though. Well, at least I don’t need to worry about him being too overpowered, then.

    Ch 13
    Well that certainly caught me off guard. Another one of those hilarious tidbits suddenly dropped onto us in the middle of all this dark stuff. But, looking past that, good grief is this one heck of a hallucination. So, Esaax is so screwed up that he’s basically a dead ‘mon walking now? That’s not depressing at all! On the other hand, I feel somewhat vindicated in feeling so dang suspicious of DeLeo back in Ch 7. I say somewhat because Esaax is gonna die or something and that’s not worth it. In fact, it appears that the hallucination was actually more like a manifestation of the primal predator lurking inside him being a kwazai now. And apparently it won out so this just got super depressing super quickly. Are we heading for an “everyone dies, no one’s happy,” ending? That’s my guess at this juncture, but we’ll see how right/wrong I am.

    Ch 14
    Okay, no subtlety this time, DeLeo is just straight up giving me a case of the mad scientist/spooky vibes. And that tidbit about a kwazai raising its human friend from the dead? Well, it makes me think of XY in some regards, only much more supernatural and containing a bit of mysticism, for what it’s worth. The whole legend does sound like some sort of classic mythological tale. This crazy creature has renowned powers and its kind gets hunted to extinction because the public fears what they’re capable of. And apparently, this is how Solonn factors into everything. If I’m reading this right, he was the one who knew of the kwazai’s existence and DeLeo (I guess) tricked him into revealing that information and then used false pretenses to get Esaax under his control. Yeah, I’d be pretty angry too if I figured out I’d been used like that. How interesting that after the last chapter built up Esaax as getting ready to tear DeLeo limb from limb, he’s actually done in in a far more subtle manner by Solonn. Normally I’d say that’s an anti-climax but given the horror overtones here, I think it’s actually pretty appropriate.

    Ch 15
    Oh, Karo, you’re such a delight bit of comic relief. Even though your situation with Ren is kind of tragic. The bulk of this chapter is one big, giant misunderstanding. But you definitely make Moriel out to be a very crafty Glalie in that battle, using trickery to overwhelm her opponents as opposed to the sheer, brute force that had been on display with Esaax and also with his friends a bit earlier on.

    Ch 16
    Nooooooo, Karo! I mean, he’s technically fine or, rather, as fine as you can get after using Explosion. Liked the explanation as to how a Pokémon like that could just bounce back from blowing itself up. Anyway, the group catches up with Solonn. Maybe I missed something that explains why the heck Syr’s so afraid of Glalies, because I’m totally unsure myself. Anyway, this all gets revealed as a misunderstanding of sorts. And it looks like we’re finally going to get the big reunion in the ending here.

    Ch 17
    The finale starts us off with a literal mind-battle of sorts between Esaax and his inner demon. And it’s clearly quite the struggle that’s also serving to put Ntairow completely on edge. Yet, somehow, there’s a brief moment of levity with that password tidbit because of course DeLeo would do something that stupid thinking no one could speak his language. And hooray, they’re able to get Esaax out and reunite him! But not hooray (and I kind of expected) there’s a big snag and his mortal coil’s unwinding rapidly. What follows is what I can only describe as the Pokémon version of some sort of twisted exorcism, only instead of bringing relief it just seems to literally (and maybe figuratively?) tear Esaax apart. Because he hasn’t had it bad enough already. And, while this isn’t everyone dying, it seems my intuition about this was proven right. It’s rather heart wrenching, especially since it’s basically a counterbalance of chapter 5. There, Esaax failed with the healing bit and his ex-lover dies. Here, he succeeds in healing a lover, but he dies in the process.

    Now, for what follows. See, I had a sneaking suspicion that DeLeo wasn’t who he claimed to be, but I was willing to ignore it because of all the supernatural vibes this had going toward it. But good grief, that is certainly one way to depict the anime’s Meowth. It’s definitely the most unique interpretation I’ve seen ever. Things end off a rather somber note. It’s very simplistic, but I think it’s an effective way to ultimately bring everything to a close, given what had happened. The characters are basically left reflecting which, realistically speaking, someone might do in a situation where they lost someone they cared about.
     
  7. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner *aromatisse noise*

    Cutlerine:
    Things like those are one of THE most enjoyable things about writing nonhuman characters, just getting to come up with stuff like that. This goes extra for pokémon characters, seeing as some of them can be unusual in ways even the weirdest of weird animal can't. This goes DOUBLE extra for psychics, and especially unconventional psychics like wobbuffet. Good lord I love wobbuffet.

    So yeah, it's neat as always to see someone else enjoy something I really enjoy myself. :D

    Fun fact: that's my personal favorite sentence in the entire story. :D

    Body horror and involuntary transformations: two of my favorite things. :D I think both slip into nearly everything I write, but yeah this is definitely the story where all that takes center stage. Good to know I've apparently done them justice. :'D

    Ikr? It's like taking candy from strangers x10,000. (Whether I'm multiplying the candy or the strangers by 10,000, don't nobody know.)

    I'd give him the award myself, but I cba to go all the way to Mauville atm. :B

    He means well, I'm sure. He's just, well. A noob, certainly, when it comes to the whole parenting thing. XD

    Yep!

    On a somewhat related note, gosh dang it's fun to imagine how things might've gone differently. Which is largely how these stories come about in the first place, but here and now I'm referring more specifically to the wonderful pastime that is what-iffing one's own stories. What if DeLeo hadn't gone behind Esaax's back? What if Anomaly hadn't been working at the Haven, or hadn't had their eyes on a spiffy kwazai morph to add to their collection? What if Esaax had had enough energy to resurrect Ntairow without expending his own life in the process? It's legit fun, thinking about how much even a tiny change could impact. :D

    I like to believe that a good part of the reason Ren did that wrt Karo has to do with the in-game not-so-greatness of the species. Like he heard someone talking **** about nosepass, saying they were utterly useless and only a fool would bother to train one, and his response was basically challenge accepted.

    Ambyssin:
    You're not far off! There's a deliberate xenomorph influence on kwazai m's design--more specifically, the influence of the newborn from Alien Resurrection, particularly in the long head/neck... wattle... thing (idk, in the movie it's almost like the thing has no skull in the very back and it just sort of... lies there, deflated XD but in the case of the kwazai yeah there's definitely a complete skull and the... head business is just flesh or cartilage or some such), as well as in the giant frickoff hands.

    There's a bit of andalite in there, too, and probably a few other things I'm brainfarting about atm for some reason. Ancient-*** drawings of both kwazai, among other things, can be found here.

    Yep, this was a horror! That and a tragedy. Mainly those two things. But there's certainly elements of other stuff in there, too.

    There is definitely a good percentage of them who are specifically living that way as a tribute to humanity/means of clinging to the past.

    There's really no wrong way to take it. Anyhoo, it amuses me too. :B

    Any resemblance to real science is purely conincidental. XP

    They're like penguins x10,000. :B

    I think this was more "I have watched Alien Resurrection an inordinate amount of times" slipping in. Whenever I think of that scene I immediately remember the xenomorph in the holding cell, snapping at the glass with those teef.

    Nosepass jumpscare: an achievement I can truly be proud of. :B

    Yeparooni!

    Not in this kwazai, at least! This mainly has to do with the fact that he was more or less biologically hacked into being a kwazai. He was made able to evolve by kind of shoddy means, and yeah. Kwazainess is basically incompatible with the guy, so he doesn't command it particularly well.

    About Solonn! Prior to working at HI, he knew nothing at all of kwazai. He was there for his own reasons, which had to do with another member of his species that was known to frequent there. What set him off was learning that DeLeo had transformed another person without their consent. It's a very personal sore spot with him.

    Again, I love me some body horror. Even when it's the relatively bloodless mineral sort.

    It mainly has to do with the fact that they have giant effing faces and can move silently, thus making it possible to turn around and ASJDHSAF HI WHEN DID YOU GET HERE WITH YOUR HORRIBLE DEMON FACE. Which happened to Syr at least once on the way to Convergence all those years ago. And he was quite shook up back then, because mass extinction outta gods-be nowhere, so yeah. Very vulnerable to glalie jumpscares, and the experience has stuck with him ever since.

    I legit never thought of it this way before. Now that I am thinking about it, I like it. :D


    Huge thanks to both of you; these reviews were a genuine and uplifting delight to read. :')
     
  8. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → soul sick.

    Righty-o, so, I said I was gonna read this and leave comments! Just... took me forever. Sorry. ^^; But I keep my word. Cross-posting; if you don't want me to, just let me know and I'll delete on whichever forum.

    Anyway, first I wanna say you do a fantastic job with the body horror in this fic. The connection between body and mind, and all that encompasses it, isn't wasted anywhere, that's for sure. From the start you get a very clear picture of Esaax's situation and how his life is being turned upside down along with his personality, and I mean, I get this sense without even knowing what his normal lifestyle and personality are. Still it serves not just as a hook because of the shock factor, but because I got attached to him as a character right away and wanted him to be happy and back to normal so I could learn about who he really is (or was, I guess, RIP forever).

    Similarly, the interaction between types (particularly poison and psychic, here) are just as fascinatingly handled here as they were in Communication and are in The Worldslayers. Type changes happening mid-life with the kwazai, thus blocking out psychic powers, is still a unique concept fun to read about across all your fics, as is Convergence... The way you flawlessly weave these ideas in to all your fics helps make your worldbuilding feel especially real, particularly in the sense that "oh, the world practically ended and everyone around is suffering massively, and here, with these fics, they may all intertwine story wise but the real treat is that we get to see several groups of 'mons and how they're suffering and how they're managing." I don't know if that makes sense, but yeah. :p

    Ntairow and Zerzekai were part of this for sure. Separate physically, but linked mentally, you could tell just had badly Ntairow and Esaax caried about each other. And despite never seeing them together in-fic until it was basically too late, I was rooting for them to have a happy ending. ;_; whyyyy did you do this to my heart

    Madeline's crush - until her demise, of course - was amusing. Esaax was obviously uncomfortable with it, which I guess sounds kinda bad that I found it amusing, but it helped me get a glimpse of his true nature by how gentle he was with her anyway. He didn't lash out or whatever - a stark contrast to what he turned into in the end. We didn't get to see him much in his natural frame of mind or just living life in a normal sort of way like this, so I guess it's sticking out to me even after having finished reading a while ago now. Also, I don't think I've gotten to see a lot of romance factors in Pokémon-centric fics, so that was kinda refreshing to see.

    I was slightly torn on Esaax and Syr meeting up again. It wasn't clear just how close they were as friends, and because of that, Syr offering to let Esaax live with him nearly straight away was a bit much. It didn't seem like Esaax was comfortable with Syr, either. But Syr's persistence to help his friend along the course of the fic was endearing. Just like in The Worldslayers, I could tell he's loyal, compassionate, and a little too hard on himself compared to everyone else. :p

    Next up, Esaax's tail. Can't say I was ever a wobbuffet sort of fan, but you sold me. Going as in depth as you did on anatomy and the physiological role of the wobbuffet tail was fascinating to read, as was its connection to the move destiny bond. Also caught the connection between Esaax and anime!Team Rocket in there, which made me do a double take because I wasn't expecting it at all. xD But it was cool to see, especially when it came to flashbacks. Don't know the anime enough to compare Esaax's personality to the one portrayed in the anime, though. I'll add here, too, that the exposition sort of infodumps didn't feel like they dragged on or anything; they always felt nicely timed and never overstayed their welcome.

    Solonn and Jen... Kinda weird reading this fic last, knowing everyone's about to be screwed over and knowing DeLeo is a lil ****, but, so it goes. It especially hurt to see Esaax not get any breathing room to consider DeLeo's offer. Everything happened so fast, and it only goes to show again how life can change for someone in an instant. And how someone's life can change over and over and over without warning.

    Oh, and Karo! I was glad the latest The Worldslayers update had a lot of focus on him and Ren, because man, Karo became one of my favorites here. xD He's so quirky and soft and bold and a whole host of other lovable adjectives. I feel he has a lot in common with Syr with the loyalty and compassion toward friends, except Karo's a fair bit more assertive about it. And willing to make a few jokes in life or two, whereas Syr is more stoic. Was fun seeing them interact.

    I think last thing I'll say is that you've improved drastically from this fic in Communication and then, even more so, in The Worldslayers. Not that the prose and description and dialogue etc here are bad - quite the contrary, actually. It was quite beautiful as usual and gripped me at every possible moment. Getting to read the whole in one go, though, simultaneously with The Worldslayers updates (which I'll review soon, too), I could see the subtle nuances in description and sentence structure/wording having changed, and only for the better. I'm not quite sure how to describe it, really, other than things feel tighter and like your confidence in writing itself has improved as well. Certainly made for a different kind of reading experience on my part, haha, and no regrets for delving into that experience.

    Belated thanks for writing this! <3
     
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  9. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner *aromatisse noise*

    diamondpearl76: Good things said about my worldbuilding always puts me in "aw shucks" mode. ;w; Same goes for apparently doing body horror and elemental interactions justice. These are Things I Like; of course I wanna do right by them.

    BECAUSE I CAN CAN CAN 8D

    Idk, I think I've always kind of been something of a tragedian. Even as a kid. I was also a class clown. Make of it what you will.

    I have spent just so much fricking time pondering over how wobbuffet even work, let me tell you. That's just... kind of what happens when I get obsessed with a given species. :B It's fun to do, and I'm glad it's fun to read, too.

    The thing about the infodumps is kind of a relief, I've gotta say. Because that's what they are: infodumps. I think 3's possibly the weakest chapter as a result of them, but at least they apparently aren't too obnoxious.

    Probably the best thing to hear/read, though:

    Just, omg. ;A; This means a lot to me, because this is possibly THE number one thing I've been working on/struggling with over the years. I remember a time, a pretty good span of time, when my writing was really, really... wishy-washy, let's call it. Deliberately wishy-washy. Afraid to say much of anything too assertively. Lots of things seeming rather than being. Shying away from letting character's perspectives color the narration for fear that it'd look like the narration was, like. Trying to push an agenda, I suppose.

    So things were painstakingly neutral and imprecise for years, and I guess at some point I just couldn't stand how weak and flaky and bland the prose was as a result--seriously that stuff got tedious as heck to reread through back in the day--and so eventually I guess I just... snapped and got a bit more daring. I specifically wanted tighter prose. I specifically hoped to be more confident in what I was doing (which is a road I'm still traveling, tbh, and possibly always will be). I'm glad to hear I'm making progress. I really am. ;w;

    Anyway! Thanks for the read 'n' reply! :D
     
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  10. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → soul sick.

    Yeah, I've been there as well. But your writing is, well, yours. You spend the time on putting down words and agonizing over if they sound right. You think of and flesh out ideas that translate into concrete themes and plot. You listen to your characters. And so on. People might spend time reading and forming opinions and reviewing... but that doesn't make them entitled to your writing, IMO. "Let people feel the weight of who you are and let them ****ing deal with it" <- one of my favorite, applicable quotes :p
     
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