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The Pledge PG-15 (One-shot)

Shadow Lucario

Lone Vanguard
Shadow Lucario here with the second one-shot in a three part prequel to Hero's Bond. Just like with the first one, there is no need to have read my fan fic to understand this one. With that being said, I present The Pledge!

;095;



Grabbing the man’s face, the woman wiped the tears off her cheek with her shoulder. The white robe she wore was tattered and covered in dirt. She smiled as more tears began to stream down her face. The man’s eyes wavered, knowing exactly what she was going to do.

“You can’t…” he whispered.

“Daniel, you have to promise me that you won’t follow me,” said the woman. “You need to stay here and make sure our son has a normal childhood.”

Daniel shut his eyes tight as his tears began to escape them. His breathing became short as he tried to hold his emotions back. Shaking his head, Daniel pulled the woman closer, holding her tightly.

“Lillian, I can’t lose you!” he cried. “Jayden needs the both of us!”

Lillian wrapped her arms around Daniel, squeezing him tightly. The pair sat in the small room in silence, darkness covering them. A small cry was heard from the other side of the door. Lillian took one last look into Daniel’s eyes before heading towards the cry. Pushing the door slightly open, she could see across the hallway and into the next room. In a small crib, fidgeting in his sleep was a small baby boy. Lillian smiled as she watched, a tear slowly sliding down her cheek. Walking over to the crib, Lillian placed one hand on the boy’s head, lightly stroking the small amount of hair he had.

“Don’t you ever forget that Mommy loves you,” Lillian whispered, her voice breaking.

When she saw that Jayden was still fidgeting, Lillian smiled as she picked a plush Totodile off the floor, placing it next to Jayden. He grabbed hold of the toy and instantly fell into a deep sleep. Turning to leave, Lillian saw Daniel standing in the doorway, a red and white orb in his hand.

“You’ll need this,” said Daniel. “It’s the first Pokémon I helped you catch. Do you remember?”

A big smile spread across the woman’s face as she took the Poké Ball. “How could I forget? Your Bayleef nearly took his head off. Thank you.”

“Tell me that when you come back.”

Jumping into his arms, Lillian kissed Daniel deeply, her cheeks turning bright pink. “Don’t forget me…”

Daniel smiled down at her, shaking his head. “I couldn’t even if I tried.”

“This is goodbye my love…”

The Pledge

{Intercept the target going north northeast.}

{Target is still unaware of our presence…Permission to move in?}

{Granted.}

Appearing from the sides of buildings and alleyways, five men clad in black sweaters, vests, pants, and boots surrounded a woman who wore a white robe. All of the men held a gun in one hand and a red and white sphere in the other. They all shouted different commands at the same time.

“STOP!”

“HALT!”

“Not another step!”

“You there! Freeze!”

“Cease your movements!”

“Cease my movement?” the woman asked, slightly confused.

“Ignore him, he’s new,” one of the men said, carefully eyeing the one in the back. “You’re Lillian right? From Team Lustrous’ First Division.”

The woman put her finger to her temple, trying to think. “Lillian what? Lillian is a very common name.”

“Don’t toy with us!” one of the others snarled.

“Lillian James correct?” the first man asked.

A smile spread across the woman’s face as she nodded. Placing one hand in her robe, her finger ran over the top of several different Poké Balls, the cold metallic feeling sending chills up her spine. She knew it would come down to a battle and she was perfectly fine with that.

“We’re going to need you to come with us,” said the first man.

“I’m afraid I’m not going anywhere,” Lillian told them. “But you’ll be going to Hell!”

Light burst from her robe, revealing a giant snake. It easily towered over the men. Letting out a loud roar into the night sky, the Onix swung its tail at the men as they opened fire. All the bullets ricocheted off Onix’s rocky exterior. The men were all slammed into a wall by Onix’s tail, each one now writhing in pain. With a chuckle, Lillian walked over to each man and pressed a tiny button on the back of their Poké Balls. Each one released a blue light instead of white. Forming all different forms of creatures, the Pokémon looked at Lillian confused.

“You’re free now,” she told them. “Those bad men can’t make you do anything else.”

Still unsure of what was going on, the Pokémon slowly dispersed into the city, disappearing from the street’s view. The woman withdrew a small radio from the inside of her robes. After looking around she quietly whispered into it.

{The hostiles have been taken care of.}

A gruff voice responded with a chuckle. {Great job. Didn’t expect any less from you.}

A loud bang sounded as something whizzed right by Lillian’s face. Turning in shock, she saw the man who had been asking her questions on one knee, the muzzle of his gun in his hand smoking.

“The Black Organization won’t be beat that easily,” he said between puffs, holding his torso with his free hand.

“Onix,” Lillian called. The giant rock snake placed himself between his trainer and the man, letting out another roar. “You should scamper on out of here while I’m giving you the chance. Team Lustrous already has this town on lockdown.”

“What?!” With a groan, the man’s leg began to tremble, but he forced himself to stand up on both feet, his arm now wavering. “You’re bluffing!”

“I don’t bluff. All I have to do is press one button on this radio and backup will be here within seconds.”

The man looked from Lillian’s face to the radio, snarling as he realized that she had been indeed telling him the truth. In a desperate attempt, the man quickly pulled the trigger on his gun. The radio in Lillian’s hand burst into pieces, slightly cutting her cheek. She shook her head, laughing at the obvious fear he had of Team Lustrous.

“Bad move,” she said.

As he moved to take a shot at Lillian, another bang was heard. Blood shot out from the man’s head as a hole appeared. He fell to the ground, dead. Looking over her shoulder, Lillian gave a thumb up to a figure on a rooftop a few hundred feet away. She could make out the outline of a sniper rifle and knew that it was one of her colleagues.

“Now onto New Bark…”she whispered to herself.

----------------------------------------------

Not too far from where Lillian had just battled was a three story building. The white finish made the building extremely bright, even in the moonlight. Two large men in white robes stood outside the front entrance doors, both looking all around them. A slender woman, also in white robes (but much more form fitting) quickly walked past them and into the building, her high heels clacking as she went by. Completely ignoring the front counter, the woman pressed the up button by the elevator doors, tightly clutching a folder with a large stack of papers inside. With a sigh, she stepped on and pressed the number three. Once she reached her designated floor, she stepped off and pushed open another door before holding the folder she had in the air.

“Aeolus, I think we’re losing Lillian.”

“It’s her family, Doris. She hasn’t seen them in about six years.”

A fairly middle aged man sat in a chair placed in the middle of a large room. He had been surrounded by computers, at least two people at each side. They all typed away on the computers, not a word coming from any of them. A large screen was placed on the wall in front of him.

“What should we do then?”

A malicious grin formed on Aeolus’ face. Placing his head on his fist he looked down at a Poké Ball in his hand.

“Intercept her as soon as she catches sight of New Bark,” Aeolus started. “Then eliminate her.”

“Do we have to go so far as to eliminating her? She is our top agent.”

“I can’t have agents who can be easily distracted. That won’t help our cause.”

Placing the folder in his lap, Doris quickly stepped back, staring at the ground. The man quickly flipped through all the papers, a serious expression coming over his face. Once he reached the end, he began to laugh, seemingly unconcerned with what Doris had to show him.

“Go, Doris,” he said. “Take whoever you want with you. Just make sure it gets done.”

----------------------------------------------

Peering around a tree, Lillian could see the small town of New Bark just a few miles away. Looking at the sky, she noted the overcast, assuming to rain soon.

“Wind,” Lillian said, noticing the many windmills spinning rapidly, “and cloudy skies; I should have brought my umbrella.”

Pulling up her hood, Lillian quietly ran towards New Bark, a nervous feeling coming over her. A slight roar came from the town. Even with how far away she was, Lillian could tell that many people were out and about on this day. She slowed her run to a fast walk once she passed the city limits sign. A certain feeling of nostalgia clashed with the nervousness, feeling as if it would tear her stomach apart. Few people nodded or waved, most opting to ignore her altogether. Lillian stopped in her tracks, staring at a house just ahead of her. A tear came to her eye when she saw a young boy staring out the window. His head was full of messy black hair and his eyes seemed empty, as if they were missing something.

“Jayden…” Lillian whispered.

Before she could step forward, a group of four surrounded her, keeping a very tight circle around her. They all had the same white robes she had and a menacing look Lillian never saw any of them put on. Before she could say anything, a woman stepped into the circle, a frown on her face.

“Doris, what’s going on?” Lillian asked her.

“We’re going to have to talk,” she answered. “Elsewhere.”

“I’m busy at the moment. Maybe some other time.”

Grabbing her arm, Doris began to pull her back towards the outskirts of town, the group following. After being pulled for a good five minutes, Doris finally let go, shuddering when she faced Lillian.

“What do you want?” Lillian demanded. “I have to go see-”

“I know what you’re doing. Just shut up and listen.”

Lillian snapped her mouth shut, surprised by the sudden seriousness in Doris’ attitude. “What’s going on?”

Tears began to fall from Doris’ eyes as she looked down, unable to say what she had to. Her breathing became shallow, her palms sweaty. Taking in a deep breath, Doris wiped her face and stared into Lillian’s eyes.

“Aeolus has sent me to eliminate you.”

Lillian’s eyes widened. She could feel the four men she had run into back in New Bark starting to close in. Touching a few different Poké Balls on the inside of her robe, she began to chuckle, a small bead of sweat slowly trickling down her temple. Deciding on a Pokémon, Lillian quickly turned on her heel, ready to toss it, but she was met with the cold metal barrel of a gun placed on her forehead. The Poké Ball fell out of her hand as she began to tremble. Tears ran down her face, her mind began to race, her heart began to break. Her eyes traveled from the gun, up the arm and onto the owner’s face. He wore a wicked smile, malice nakedly displayed on his face.

“I’m sorry Lillian…I truly am…” Doris wept.

Lillian closed her eyes, remembering the short amount of time she spent with her son and all the years she couldn’t spend with him. She remembered the years Daniel was by her side and the promise she made to him.

I’m sorry, Daniel, my love, she thought, her tears endlessly flowing to the ground. This really is goodbye. And Jayden…don’t you ever forget that Mommy loves you.
 
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Air Dragon

Ha, ha... not.
Well, it took... 'a while'... but here we are. Before I go on, thanks for the birthday present.

And in summary... that hurt. A lot.

Having to leave your family behind to join a radical group. Give your all for said team, and do so in style. Cut loose because you want to see said family again and executed feet away from your goal. Joining Team Lustrous was not your dream job, was it?

Interesting expose, mate. My favourite part:

“Cease your movements!”

“Cease my movement?” the woman asked, slightly confused.

“Ignore him, he’s new,” one of the men said, carefully eyeing the one in the back.
Ah, the rookies who make us smile. :)

Lastly, if this fic was to make people want to read Hero's Bond... it succeeded. Magnificently.

Excuse me...

L@er!
 

dolphy

friendly fun
So, I can see pretty well what this one-shot was trying to do- and I think it got it's point across well enough.

We start right in the middle of the action after a brief prologue, which is nice. Lillian is set up to be clever, ruthless, and kind of a badass. She takes out five men with one move, using just an onix that I suppose is the pokemon her husband helped her catch? Regardless we do get the sense that she is part of some evil organization and that she's willing to do anything to get the job done. That's nice, and Lillian is by far the deepest character in the one shot. We get a general sense of her history and the tragedy of it. So it's a good set up.

But the real hiccup of this story is in the decision of her superiors to assassinate her. I mean, why? They say she hasn't seen her family in 6 years, but she doesn't act particularly torn up about it in the previous scene. In fact, she murders like 5 people, all who probably had their own families at home. If she had shown some sympathy for these men, say one was begging for his life and explaining that he had a family, than maybe her superiors could see her as weak. But as I said, she's really shown to be just the kind of badass lady killer you would want alive and working for your side. The excuse that she just hasn't seen her family in 6 years doesn't constitute a full blown assassination. I guess one could say her boss was trying to prove a point, but it's a silly one. If that was the case, there were probably better people to kill in your organization, especially not one whose proven herself to be loyal and effective.

And on the note of that, I have to say, I ended up not feeling too much at her assassination. She cries, and the assassin cries, but I just felt kind of distant from it all. She could have fought back, even if it was futile. That would've added some interesting tension to the scene. But she accepts her fate after one attempt at escape. Based on her prior skill and cleverness, I was expecting some kind of last ditch effort to get away.

I know that this is just a one shot and all, but ultimately what this really needed was more time for us to sympathize with Lillian, a better reason to have her executed, and some sense of a dramatic climax at the end. But you do have the bones of a well made story here. The organization of events is right, and all the beats that need to be hit in a story like this are- they just aren't hit quite well enough to constitute the short length. I think if you do a couple more rewrites and examine closely the intentions and motivations of all your characters, you'll find that your story ends up a lot more effective. So overall, I would call this an excellent first draft, but without rewrites and redrafts, merely and average one shot.
 

Shadow Lucario

Lone Vanguard
Wow two reviews on this? Thanks guys, genuinely. To Air Dragon; compare this to A Sinnoh Adventure and I hope there has been some improvement. Haha. And to dolphy; I had the framework in my head but I suppose it didn't pan out as well as I thought it would. This was supposed to tie in with two other one-shots in my story. Now I just have to finish that other one and a rewrite of this is an interesting idea. I was thinking about adding more length to it. Thanks guys! Look forward to more Hero's Bond related stories soon!
 

JX Valentine

Ever-Discordant
Aaaaaand here for a request! :D (I'll get to your other one-shot and Hero's Bond eventually, I swear.)

Grabbing the man’s face, the woman wiped the tears off her cheek with her shoulder. The white robe she wore was tattered and covered in dirt. She smiled as more tears began to stream down her face. The man’s eyes wavered, knowing exactly what she was going to do.
It’s a vivid start, but it also offers up the first hint to something I’ve noticed about your writing. Throughout a large part of this scene, you tell the story through brief sentences or repeated sentence structures. While this is effective for heightening suspense, you’ll also want to be careful because doing it too frequently could result in jarring, halting prose that feels a little rough for a reader, if that makes sense. One way to help avoid this kind of a situation would be to read your work aloud (even in a low whisper). I know I prescribe this to pretty much everyone, but I swear, it works. Reading your work aloud allows you to feel your words on a physical level as well as hear them, so you’ll be able to tell whether or not your work is too rough or if your work could potentially be smoothed out a little better.

Specifically in this case, though, I would try to combine sentences two and three. That should ease the tenseness of the prose here a little. I’d also look into maybe tweaking the ending of the fourth sentence. The subject of that is the man’s eyes, whereas the dependent clause refers to the man alone, yet the dependent clause is phrased in a way that sounds like it’s trying to modify something in the main clause.

Daniel shut his eyes tight as his tears began to escape them. His breathing became short as he tried to hold his emotions back.
This is an example of what I meant by a repeated sentence structure, by the by. In this case, you have [independent clause] as [another independent clause used to modify the first one] back-to-back. As statements happen frequently in your writing, but here it sticks out a little because it happens so close together. There are ways to get around that repetitive feeling, though. Even cheating a little by substituting “as” for “while” or restructuring the sentence so that you can use a “when” can help smooth things out.

That’s about all I can really say on the subject of sentence structure (or at least abrupt tones and repetition), so I’ll leave your prose alone for the most part unless something sticks out. But yep, a good reread aloud might help you out here.

A small cry was heard from the other side of the door.
While I know I’ll probably sound like a hypocrite for pointing this out, this sentence stuck out a little bit because it’s in the passive voice, whereas the rest of the paragraph is strong and active. Simple sentence restructuring should take care of this.

He grabbed hold of the toy and instantly fell into a deep sleep, lying completely still.
Hmm. This might be more effective without “lying completely still.” I say this because when you fall into a deep sleep, you automatically assume that you’re not moving, so.

{Intercept the target going north northeast.}

{Target is still unaware of our presence…Permission to move in?}

{Granted.}
It always puzzles me when fic writers do this. I mean, there’s really no reason to designate special markings for spoken communication between two or more characters. By using any other type of punctuation besides quotation marks, what you end up doing is implying that the lines within them aren’t spoken.

All of the men held a gun in one hand and a red and white sphere in the other.
Odd that they’re wielding two weapons. I mean, if the woman does something, then chances are, they’ll need to act quickly. If they fire one-handed, depending on the gun, you could be looking at a rather nasty kick. (This is why you see people in the media handle guns with two hands. For all the hilarious things shows and movies do with physics, they at least get the guns right.) However, if they ignore the gun and try to send out a Pokémon, then they could be sending it out into a crossfire with one of their teammates or waste time summoning and ordering whatever those balls contain. Seems easier to go with one or the other—or, at most, have the Pokémon already out and strategically placed so that they don’t get caught in the crossfire (and can attack at a moment’s notice).

“Cease your movements!”

“Cease my movement?” the woman asked, slightly confused.

“Ignore him, he’s new,” one of the men said,
I have to admit, that was cute.

Placing one hand in her robe, her finger ran over the top of several different Poké Balls, the cold metallic feeling sending chills up her spine.
Might help to split this one up, considering you’ve got two dependent clauses going here. (The first one could use a slight rephrase anyway because the subject of the independent clause is her finger, whereas this clause refers to Lillian.)

Light burst from her robe, revealing a giant snake. It easily towered over the men. Letting out a loud roar into the night sky, the Onix swung its tail at the men as they opened fire. All the bullets ricocheted off Onix’s rocky exterior. The men were all slammed into a wall by Onix’s tail, each one now writhing in pain. With a chuckle, Lillian walked over to each man and pressed a tiny button on the back of their Poké Balls. Each one released a blue light instead of white. Forming all different forms of creatures, the Pokémon looked at Lillian confused.
One of the things I did notice about this fic is its dynamic battles. You describe things well enough that I can visualize in my mind what’s going on, and you know that there’s such at thing as too much description. As in, you never reach that point. Everything feels like it needs to be there, and your battles feel well-paced, which is a difficult thing to achieve. Once you get sentence structure down, you’ll be able to get the right flow and rhythm in your prose to match your descriptions, but see, once you do that, what you’ll be doing is elevating yourself from good to spot-on. So I know it’s going to sound like I’m drumming it into your head to look into sentence structures, but this is a case where you’re almost there. It’s just that you need to avoid short and abrupt prose because you want that flowing, fast-paced feeling instead. In situations like these, anyway.

Which is to say this is a good thing and a good part, and I hope you take my crit by looking at parts like these and focusing on how to enhance them.

A loud bang sounded as something whizzed right by Lillian’s face. Turning in shock, she saw the man who had been asking her questions on one knee, the muzzle of his gun in his hand smoking.
This action flows a bit better than the Onix paragraph, so it might be worth it to use this as a template.

“I don’t bluff. All I have to do is press one button on this radio and backup will be here within seconds.”
I have to admit I can’t say no to a lady who knows how to hold her own in a fight. You can definitely see this character’s power through her actions. She’s competent, cool-headed, and, most interestingly, a complete 180 from the motherly, warm individual in the prologue scene. Now and then, I see authors try to have characters with drastically different sides to them, only to have them come out as a mess. But in this case, Lillian feels like a coherent character because you do see some of the regal attitude and steadfastness in both halves of her, so it’s not that difficult to imagine the Lillian in this part of the story worrying about Jayden deep down or the Lillian in the first part of the fic thinking through all the possible messy ends to her mission.

Bark…”she
Careful about spacing, though. You’ll need one just after the quotation mark.

Two large men in white robes stood outside the front entrance doors, both looking all around them.
In general, be careful about misplaced modifiers. While in a lot of cases, you can get away with attaching a dependent clause to the end of a sentence without worrying about subjects, in cases like these, it feels a bit awkward because the clause will refer to the first noun before the comma. For example, while you meant to have “both looking all around them” refer to the two large men, what it actually ends up referring to is the front entrance doors, especially because so many words have elapsed between the subject of the sentence and this clause.

That’s also what I meant whenever I made comments like “this clause is referring to this character’s body part, but you meant to have it refer to the person themselves.” The subject of a dependent clause is never implied; it always has to be stated in the same way the subject of a standalone statement (not command) should be stated. Moreover, clauses tend to take that subject from the main thought of the sentence, just as I’ve said in the above paragraph. So the closer to its subject a clause can get, the less awkward it becomes, and the less likely your audience will end up stumbling over an odd mental image as they read.

A slender woman, also in white robes (but much more form fitting)
Any way you could add in the form-fitting part of this sentence without the parentheses? Parentheses are things that you should really use sparingly, just because they break up a thought a little too harshly and read a little informally in prose. In this case, you could get away with saying “a slender woman in form-fitting white robes.” Sure, you repeat the color white (as in, you mean to say that she is also in white robes but can’t with that possibility), but the reader will see the robes before the parenthetical, if that makes sense.

He had been surrounded by computers, at least two people at each side.
I know I said I wouldn’t repeat myself much, but I’m really curious about this sentence. The “had been” suggests that being surrounded by computers is a continual action for him (as in, this isn’t capturing the way he looks right in the present of the story) or that he had been surrounded by computers before the action of this scene. This is compounded by the fact that it’s difficult to tell what the clause about two people is supposed to be attached to. That clause could be referring to the man, the computers, or the room itself. Legit not quite sure.

A malicious grin formed on the man known as Aeolus’ face.
I’d reduce this down to, “A malicious grin formed on Aeolus’ face.” The reader can infer who this man is judging by how Doris addresses him when she walks in and how much she focuses on him afterwards, so it really doesn’t need to be formally said. That and it’s a bit awkward to have that wordy of a clause between the verb and its object.

Placing his head on his fist he looked down at a Poké Ball in his hand.
As a tip, inserting a comma at the end of an introduction clause five or more words long makes it clear to a reader that you’re going from the introduction to the main clause. (So you’ll probably want a comma after “fist” for clarity.)

Pulling up her hood, Lillian quietly ran towards New Bark, a nervous feeling coming over her. A slight roar came from the town.
Also, be very careful with dependent clauses and the sentences that follow them, especially if you frequently do shorter sentences for emphasis. As weird as this sounds, starting a sentence with the same word as the beginning of the dependent clause before it can sometimes signal to a reader that you’re actually about to restate a concept in the earlier sentence, not branch out into a new image.

Few people nodded or waved, most opting to ignore her altogether.
I am a bit curious about this because one would think that Lillian isn’t dressed inconspicuously, what with the fact that she’s wearing a white robe and all. Then again, it might just be that this story takes place in a version of Johto where this is normal attire or where Team Lustrous doesn’t have that bad of a reputation among certain populations or where New Bark is entirely or mostly a Team Lustrous stronghold. This all might even be covered in Hero’s Bond. I have to admit that, having not yet read that story all the way through (and having tackled the chapters I did read far too long ago than I’d be willing to admit here), I can’t quite be certain, but the end point is that this feels like it implies something about the world beyond this one-shot. If that’s something you intended (as in, there are reasons why people are ignoring or barely acknowledging Lillian), then that’s cool. If not, then hey, you can take this entire paragraph as a sign that someone picked up on that.

His head was full of messy black hair
Insert a comma after “hair” because you’re going into the second clause of a compound sentence.

a group of four
Nitpick, but … men or women? How big? Armed or unarmed? I’d just like to get a good idea of what kind of group I’m trying to imagine here.

turned on her heel, ready to toss it, but was met
Because of all of the commas, it almost looks like you’re about to lead into a compound sentence. In this case, though, I think it might be best if you did by inserting a “she” right before “was.” This keeps your original intent while smoothing out your prose a bit.

The Poké Ball fell out of her hand as she began to tremble. Tears ran down her face, her mind began to race, her heart began to break. Her eyes traveled from the gun, up the arm and onto the owner’s face. He wore a wicked smile, malice nakedly displayed on his face.
As dramatic as this is … it works. Lillian’s reaction to the fact that she’s about to die hits hard. You can see her break in this tiny of an instant, and considering how much she’s been built up to be this tough, headstrong woman, it comes to a head rather nicely here. It’s not that difficult to feel for her because of that.

Lillian closed her eyes, remembering the short amount of time she spent with her son and all the years she couldn’t spend with him. She remembered the years Daniel was by her side and the promise she made to him.
One last bit of crit, though? This one-shot could have been even more powerful if we got a bit more insight into this. Like, she’s been gone for six years between the opening scene and presumably the scene after the title, right? So it would be interesting to see her thoughts a little more about that. Even the opening of this scene would’ve been a good place to do it. Actually, that might be the best place to do it, come to think of it, to make it hurt even more that she’s getting torn away from her family so soon after arriving.

I’m sorry, Daniel, my love, she thought, her tears endlessly flowing to the ground. This really is goodbye. And Jayden…don’t you ever forget that Mommy loves you.
But I will say this is a good line to end on.


So! General thoughts.

I think you have something here. You have interesting characters who don’t really come off as cliché in the space that they’re given to act. Lillian is a strong lead, and there are a lot of interesting implications about her relationship with Doris. (No, not sexual. I mean you can tell that they were close at some point.) You do a good job of portraying these characters outside of their heads, so a reader can see their personalities rather well with each action they take.

Moreover, the fight scenes are actually dynamic, as I’ve said. There is a level of excitement to each battle, and although there was that little blip involving the guards dual-wielding guns and Poké Balls, each image you offer up is pretty vivid. It doesn’t feel like you’re lacking in detail, and it doesn’t feel like you’re offering too much or having filler moves happen. Each action needs to be here, and it’s very clear and very natural that way.

Like I said, though, sentence structure is really your biggest thing, and you can see where I’ve either gotten confused or said that the battle sequences could be even better if you smoothed things out a bit. That takes some practice and getting used to, though, but if you start with the base advice I’ve mentioned, you should be able to figure things out from here.

Also, there was the bit at the end about how it would’ve been nice to get into Lillian’s head a bit more. In general, I feel that although this could read as a standalone story, there are things here that would make a lot more sense or have been expanded on in your main story, and that could be a bit dangerous. For me, it didn’t really sacrifice understanding; the story still made sense to me. It’s just that there were times where I was curious about something (like the robes, Lillian’s story between the first scene and the second, and so forth), and knowing the answer to the questions I had probably would’ve made it a bit more enjoyable.

Incidentally, it’s that above paragraph that makes me hesitant to pass full judgment over the plot. Like dolphy, I am curious as to what, specifically, Doris meant by saying Team Lustrous was losing Lillian, and I am curious as to why the assassination needed to be carried out. But I also get the feeling this is something that’s more answered in the main fic.

As it stands, basically, I read this as a quick glimpse into a character and an explanation as to what happened to her, rather than its own standalone thought. Probably I’m not supposed to read it that way, but I sort of figured a lot of Lillian’s backstory/missing six years is actually delivered through Hero’s Bond and wasn’t meant to make it into this fic. As a companion piece, that’s not really a terrible thing to do because you are aiming your fic towards an audience who’s already read your other work. But yeah, it does trigger a lot of questions in non-readers. Which actually may be the point.

In any case, looking at this as it is, this isn’t bad. Like I said, I liked the characters and the battles; it’s just that the finer details could use a bit of work. Or maybe not in some cases. I should probably read Hero’s Bond.
 

Shadow Lucario

Lone Vanguard
Jax, thank you so very much. I will take all of this to heart and probably be rereading it over the next few days. For some reason, I don't know why, the short sentences come to mind more than anything else and I need to hammer that out. I'm glad you picked up on the robes and people not acknowledging her. I had hoped someone would and I shouldn't be surprised that it was you. Will I answer you here? No. But I will get into the rest of your review. :p

It’s a vivid start, but it also offers up the first hint to something I’ve noticed about your writing. Throughout a large part of this scene, you tell the story through brief sentences or repeated sentence structures. While this is effective for heightening suspense, you’ll also want to be careful because doing it too frequently could result in jarring, halting prose that feels a little rough for a reader, if that makes sense.
Makes perfect sense. I'll have to practice quite a lot to get it knocked out of my head though. Let's try that next chapter.

Hmm. This might be more effective without “lying completely still.” I say this because when you fall into a deep sleep, you automatically assume that you’re not moving, so.
I think the reason I added that in was because I know quite a few people that kind of twitch when their in a deep sleep, but I understand what you mean. Edited out.

It always puzzles me when fic writers do this. I mean, there’s really no reason to designate special markings for spoken communication between two or more characters. By using any other type of punctuation besides quotation marks, what you end up doing is implying that the lines within them aren’t spoken.
Hey, I wanna be cool and use these symbols I never get to use. I like them and now I have an excuse, I mean a reason to use them. :p

I’d reduce this down to, “A malicious grin formed on Aeolus’ face.” The reader can infer who this man is judging by how Doris addresses him when she walks in and how much she focuses on him afterwards, so it really doesn’t need to be formally said.
Edited!

As a tip, inserting a comma at the end of an introduction clause five or more words long makes it clear to a reader that you’re going from the introduction to the main clause. (So you’ll probably want a comma after “fist” for clarity.)
Reading this (again) I realized what happened. Word is not a nice person to me. I originally had a comma, but Word gave me the green line of mockery. So I changed it, trusting Word's judgement. Gonna put it back now.

Nitpick, but … men or women? How big? Armed or unarmed? I’d just like to get a good idea of what kind of group I’m trying to imagine here.
Nitpick satisfied!

Because of all of the commas, it almost looks like you’re about to lead into a compound sentence. In this case, though, I think it might be best if you did by inserting a “she” right before “was.” This keeps your original intent while smoothing out your prose a bit.
I got it boss!

Again, thank you so much for taking the time to read and thoroughly review this. I appreciate this so much. I will take everything and apply it from now on. You're the best Jax. You'll get my vote for best reviewer every time.
 
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