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The Quest for the Legends, now with its ILCOETH revision!

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Dragonfree, Apr 26, 2004.

  1. Karpi

    Karpi Forever a pirate

    As much as I wanted to see Letaligon kick *ss one more time, this is probably better closure for her. Good work!
     
  2. Agent Tectonic

    Agent Tectonic From Ashes, I Come

    That was just brilliantly cruel. You take the most dedicated Pokemon in the story and snuff out that same dedication after revealing the truth. Cruel but amazing brilliant. I cannot imagine all of that hard work put into extracting revenge on her non-father, then have it just blow out like a candle. That entire seen was heart-wrenching. So, most likely, ends Letaligon's journey as we know it.

    Didn't see any grammatical errors to comment on sooo... awesome chapter.
     
  3. Chimpchar

    Chimpchar PKMN CHAMPION!!!!

    STOP ACTING LIKE ALAN DID TO MAY!YOU'RE BETTER THAN HER!IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT! *flees may*

    when were they ever friendlier with each other than with the others? i don't remeber that..............


    i just had a horrible image



    why?
    when has he EVER corrected her in a mean way (besides when he was worried and couldn't help it)?
    see? GO LEGATON!!!!!!!!!!!WOOHOO!


    see you're not a bad trainer (kinda like may)*flees may*


    as in, another of powers daughters or one of vigors daughters? and a girl in charge of her mom? how would that work?
    how come he chose her but didn't love her
    they're born a bunch at a time right? if not...thats bad parenting on 'vigor's part...
    wow, that musta've been awkward for mark

    maybe she should call him Vigor like before. that's kinda confusing



    and scyther also tried to lose matches on purpose, not exacly something legaton would do.

    so she invites him there just to tell him that?


    that just seems worded kinda weirdly... maybe change it to something like "the final look she had given him made him think she might take his advice to heart after all."

    yay for my first real review ever!
    this chapter gets
    ;006; ;006; ;006; ;304;(3 point 8) sta-pokepoints!
     
  4. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    Karpi: My characters never just succeed in doing what they want to do. :p Plus, in my view it would actually have been kind of anticlimactic to just end the Letaligon subplot with exactly what I've been telling the reader to expect. Thanks for reviewing.

    Septic Scepti1e: I am always cruel. Though to be fair, no matter how dedicated Letaligon was, her ambitions weren't exactly the most healthy around in the first place and I doubt she could ever have gone on to live a normal life if she'd actually done it.

    Chimpchar: Thanks for doing a more detailed review than usual!
    It's been in the background; a lot of the time when Mark's Pokémon are just out and about, Jolteon and Letaligon have been mentioned to be together, either talking or battling. Charizard and Dragonite similarly tend to stick together. I don't blame you for missing it, though; it's only off-hand mentions in a few chapters, really.

    Because that's what Letaligon society is like: the herd has a shiny leader and the leader basically has absolute power over everyone.

    Oh, he hasn't, really. Letaligon is just stressed out and lashing out at him for implying yet another time that he doesn't want her to fight her father, which especially gets to her right now because she's having doubts about it herself and what she really wanted was reassurance that she would beat him.

    Vigor's; she says "sister" because they do have the same mother and grew up thinking of each other as sisters, and it wouldn't have made sense for her to call another daughter of Power's her sister yet because she hasn't yet revealed she isn't Vigor's daughter. It couldn't have been another daughter of Power's anyway, for that matter, because only shinies can be leaders and Power isn't shiny, so his children wouldn't be either; it's been a while since the fic explained how leadership works in the Letaligon herd, though, so I don't blame you for being confused about it. Come to think of it, maybe I should try to work in a bit of a refresher on that.

    A girl in charge of her mom works because the girl is shiny and her mother isn't. (Though she isn't so much a "girl", since she is a full-grown Letaligon.) The first rule of thinking about any Letaligon power dynamics is that shinies are enormously privileged simply for being shiny. No matter how much older, wiser or otherwise more suited to leadership some non-shiny is, the fact they're not shiny means they can't be leaders, and just being the mother of a shiny doesn't change the fact she's not shiny herself. The idea of a non-shiny leader wouldn't even occur to a Letaligon.

    He did, in his own horribly privileged way - though he never took her feelings into account (because he's shiny, and she's not, and it never even occurred to him that he should), he genuinely liked her and didn't originally treat her badly, really. But then she gave birth to this non-shiny Leta and he could never really forgive her for that. Letaligon isn't properly aware he ever treated her mother better because that was, by definition, before she was born, and she never reasoned it would have changed because of her, since she never picked up on what his real problem was with the fact she wasn't shiny to begin with.

    (That being said, it's a bit of a gray area whether liking somebody who doesn't like you back and forcing them into a relationship with you because you have no regard for their feelings on the matter can properly be called "love" at all. It's certainly not the good kind of love. It is the kind that would make him pick her as his designated mate, though.)

    Not sure what you mean by that. Only one Leta is born at a time, but I don't see what bearing this has on whether killing your lover and her child upon finding out she cheated is "bad parenting" (I'd think that's pretty horrible "parenting" either way). Could you elaborate?

    Hmm, now that you mention it that is ambiguous. Changed on my site; I can't be bothered to edit the post here, since it's not too hard to tell from the context anyway.

    She got him to come with her because she was scared and wanted some company and because she wanted to still have the option of turning back and staying with him after all - but fat chance she's going to tell him that or let him know she appreciates him in any way. At that particular moment she's just pretty upset, and when you're upset it's very easy to lash out at people who are trying to help you; it just seems infuriating that they aren't as upset as you about it, especially if they then start to tell you it's no big deal, because obviously to you it is a big deal.

    Hm, I kind of want the "shimmer of hope" (or a similar implication) in there to show that it's given him hope but he still isn't certain, but I see what you mean ("had given him had given him" is pretty awkward). Reworded it differently on my site, anyway.

    Thanks again.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2011
  5. Chimpchar

    Chimpchar PKMN CHAMPION!!!!

    i mean b/c he didn't know she wasn't really his duaghter, did he? so he didn't know how many children he had with his mate or he would've noticed an extra child...right? or is he just too busy to care/count or something?
     
  6. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    Uh. He knew how many children his mate had given birth to, but that didn't mean he knew how many of them were in fact his. This works just like a human paternity dispute. Actually, how old are you?

    To put it delicately, he was around at the time of the birth and had every opportunity to count those, but that doesn't mean he was there at the time of the conception. Since there are a great deal more... potential conceptions than actual conceptions anyway, he can't possibly know exactly which potential conception resulted in any particular child, or whether he was personally involved in said potential conception.

    (Well, that was a little awkward.)
     
  7. GastlyMan

    GastlyMan Ghost Type Trainer

    Great chapter! It was a bit anticlimactic to find out Letaligon's father was already dead, but it was actually a pretty interesting backstory. I liked it. And I agree with moonlightning; it's like her journey with Mark was ultimately to no avail. Although she did grow stronger, and that's still a good thing.

    Mark's a good trainer. He really cares about his Pokemon...I liked this paragraph.

    Good job; sorry for the short review. Excited for the next chapter!
     
  8. Anticlimax is anticlimactic.

    But, still, Letaligon was a sociopath for wanting her father's blood on her claws, so it's decently lulzy to know that the only reason the pack leader is still alive is because an ivisible Maurie jumped in and said, "You're not the father."

    Epic stuff, as usual.
     
  9. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    And there is finally a new chapter.

    Letaligon never really cared about anything other than defeating her father, and she didn't get long enough after losing that purpose to start figuring out if there was something else she'd like to do with her life instead. Maybe she'd have decided to stick around if she'd gotten a few days or weeks to think about it. As it is, her mother just took her away before she'd had the chance to make much of a decision about anything.

    "Most of which"? That's a bit of an exaggeration, isn't it? They had two Master Balls; one got used on Polaryu when he was about to attack Mark, the other on Dragoreen when all three of the dragons were about to escape. And now they're left with no Master Balls at all, so thinking they ought to have just thrown the Master Balls before it even became clear things were that desperate seems rather rash.

    Incidentally, it hasn't been that long; the last legendary battle was chapter 55. I just write slowly.

    Anyway, thanks for reviewing. Chapter 59 is a bit over six pages and almost entirely conversation, but a bit of it is relevant to stuff, so I hope it's of at least some interest. Chapter 60 is probably going to be quick, but it's also going to be entirely about Scyther, so if you don't give a damn about him, you probably won't care about that chapter, either. Chapter 61, on the other hand, has plot developments!



    Chapter 59: December

    “All right,” said May. “Ready... go!”

    All at once, the ten Pokémon sprang into action. Jolteon and Raichu fired two simultaneous Thunder Waves in two different directions; May’s Butterfree flapped her wings rapidly to create a tailwind behind them. Charizard and Blaziken Flamethrowered their adversary from both sides as Spirit burst into black flames; meanwhile, Floatzel and Sneasel leapt up with ice crystals surrounding their paws, expertly avoiding getting in the way of Gyarados’s Dragon Beam and Scyther’s Aerial Ace.

    Skarmory and Dragonite never stood a chance.

    Mark looked sheepishly at the unconscious legendary-substitutes as the smoke cleared. He always felt kind of bad about this, even though the Pokémon had all agreed it was a good idea and they rotated the legendary roles. The legendaries were powerful; it seemed fair to gang up on them.

    He sighed. “Okay, well done, guys. That was quick.”

    May was already reviving the two fainted Pokémon with a practiced speed. “I don’t think there’s much more we can do for now,” she said. “We might as well head back to the Eastern Cliffs tomorrow and see how we do.” She hesitated a moment. “Meanwhile, we should probably contact Alan.”

    Mark nodded. It was implicit in that ‘we’ that she really meant him; though they hadn’t talked to Alan for a couple of months now, neither of them wanted to test whether he was ready to talk to May yet. He walked over to her bag, found her Pokégear and dialled Alan’s number.

    It took a bit before there was an answer. “Hi,” said Alan’s voice, impassive.

    “Hi, Alan,” Mark said. “How have you been doing?”

    “Okay, I guess,” Alan said. “You?”

    “Good. We’ve been doing a lot of practicing with group fights. We were thinking we’d set off back to the Eastern Cliffs tomorrow and try our luck.”

    There was a pause. “All right,” Alan said after a moment. “Just come by my place when you’re heading out and I’ll be ready.”

    Mark took a deep breath. “Actually, I think it would be better if you met us now or later tonight. We’ve been preparing a lot of new strategies and we should probably get you and your Pokémon in on them. We’re on Route 311, just west of the city; you should see our campfire from the road.”

    There was another pause, longer this time. “Can’t we do that tomorrow?” Alan replied eventually.

    Mark looked at May; she shrugged and he had a feeling she wasn’t exactly dying to have Alan camping with them again either, so he sighed and said, “Fine. We’ll be there at ten o’clock.”

    “All right.” Alan hesitated for a long second. “How’s May?” he asked finally.

    She looked up; Mark waited, but she didn’t speak. “Fine,” he said instead on her behalf. “Better.”

    “Okay. Good.”

    There was silence.

    “See you tomorrow.”

    “Yeah. See you.”

    And Alan hung up.

    “It’s getting late,” May said after a further silence. “We should make that campfire anyway.”

    They did, but the mood for conversation had largely been killed, and as they sat around the fire with their Pokémon Mark eventually took to browsing idly through his Pokédex. In the intervening months since their capture of Dragoreen, he had properly discovered for the first time how many functions it had that seemed to exist solely for statistics geeks – he could access a log of every time he had sent out his Pokémon, for instance, complete with a list of which of his Pokémon had seen the least out-of-Pokéball-time in the past month (Thunderyu, Dragoreen and Chaletwo had a large red zero, as if to scold him for never letting them out). This time, he started skimming through the list of ‘seen’ Pokémon, which for these newer models appeared to automatically record some basic data for every Pokémon had had been within a certain radius from the device.

    Thunderyu was a big question mark near the end of the list, tentatively identified as an Electric/Dragon type. The only other data was a list of crazy stats. Mark looked at the intimidating entry with a mixture of pride and amusement. They’d defeated and caught that.

    Volcaryu and Polaryu, since they hadn’t been caught by him, had even less information, only showing the Fire/Dragon and Ice/Dragon type classifications; a full Pokéball scan would have been required to create a stat approximation. After them, the Pokédex showed a question mark that meant Dragoreen – Dragon/Flying-type, more crazy stats – and then two question marks that had to be Raudra and Puragon.

    Mark blinked at their info pages. Again, there were no stats, since he hadn’t caught them; the only data was the type classification.

    And the type classification, for both of them, was also Dragon/Flying.

    “May?” Mark said hesitantly. “Could you come over here for a second?”

    She shuffled over as the Pokémon craned their necks to see over Mark’s shoulder. “This is the data the Pokédex recorded for Raudra and Puragon. Look at the typing.”

    “Ah!” said Floatzel behind him, grinning in realization. “That explains a lot, yes?”

    May pulled the Pokédex out of his hand and stared at it for a moment. “Oh, hell,” she muttered, her fingers tightening around the device, “yeah, it does.”

    “Is it an error?” Mark asked in confusion.

    “I don’t think so,” May said, shaking her head. “God, it explains everything. The Fire Pokémon did terrible against Puragon because she wasn’t an Ice-type. We were doing it all wrong. No wonder we were doing so well against Dragoreen but then barely scratched the others; she was the only one whose type we actually guessed correctly. We’re idiots.”

    And Mark suddenly remembered the legend behind the Color Dragons. They had all been the same, eggs of the same mother, but they’d hatched and grown up in different locations, and they’d adapted. Raudra, the one in the volcano, had learned to use fire because fire was all around her; Dracobalt, at the bottom of a lake, had learned to use water instead. Puragon had learned to use ice, and Venoir poison. It wasn’t that they were fundamentally different, only that they’d been flexible enough in their original form to grow up using completely different moves and techniques. And their evolution had then eliminated their flexibility, setting their adapted preferences in stone forever.

    He had never heard it said outright, but on reflection he thought he remembered a passage in that book he had read at the library at the beginning of his journey, where the dragons’ type affinities were called special abilities. Not types. Which was very vague, but –

    “Chaletwo,” Mark said sharply, “did you know this?”

    “No, but truth to be told, I’m not sure they know it themselves,” Chaletwo said. “Type classifications are a human discovery. Pokémon know what elements they’re most comfortable with and learn what they’re weak and resistant against through battling during their lives, but legendaries don’t spend a lot of their time being hit by attacks that are sufficiently powerful for them to discern a difference. The only reason I know I’m a Dark-type is that Mew couldn’t sense me psychically.”

    “Did it actually happen like the legend says?” Mark asked, wanting to be sure of his interpretation.

    “I don’t know. What does the legend say?”

    “There was a dragon called Vaxil, she hid her eggs in different places, they hatched into Lidreki and adapted to their different environments, then Preciure pushed Dragoreen out of the cave, she found the others and brought them back to fight him, but on the way were distracted hating each other, and when Vaxil saw the conflict between her children she threw herself off a cliff,” Mark said, in one breath.

    “Huh,” Chaletwo said. “Well, it’s missing some details. Color Dragons have been around for many Wars. Technically they can breed, but if they do they sacrifice their immortality and die soon after, so the last time it happened is fabled even among the legendaries. After the last War we recreated Vaxil, who had been around before, and a male called Yddri, and for some reason they hit it off. The suicide was breeding to begin with. Yddri died immediately, and Vaxil spread the eggs around different environments like Color Dragons do, took the last couple with her and waited for her own death. I doubt she liked all the petty rivalry between her children, but she was already dying. I’m not sure she even survived to the point Preciure pushed Dragoreen out of the cave, if that even happened and isn’t just something Dragoreen told the others to justify her little crusade against her brother, but if she did, she would have been barely alive, likely delirious and immobile – which would probably be why she didn’t intervene. And the way I heard it, after the children evolved, they noticed their mother was dead, started blaming each other for it to claim their right to her cave, and at some point in the scuffle they threw her body off the cliff themselves.”

    Mark couldn’t stare at Chaletwo, so he stared at May instead.

    “Well, that’s kind of horrifying,” she said, echoing his thoughts. The story of Vaxil had seemed like a cautionary tale about consequences – the children had fought, it had caused their mother’s death, and subsequently they’d decided to leave one another in peace. But the humans witnessing it had no doubt only seen the dragons fighting and then found the mother’s body on the ground, and then they’d drawn their own conclusions – probably in such a way as to make it fit into a cautionary tale about consequences, so as to have something to scare their kids with.

    It shouldn’t have surprised Mark by now. It really shouldn’t. One by one, he’d seen all the legendaries they’d met turn out to be nothing like how he’d imagined legendaries as a kid, with different motives, different attitudes – not just different, but flawed. And he hadn’t even known that much about the Color Dragons as a kid, so it wasn’t as if he’d had much of an idealized image of them beforehand. But it was still the same cold shock every time to be reminded that the gods that were supposed to watch out for the world could be petty and hateful and selfish.

    “Well,” he said after a pause, forcing his mind to move on, “they were spread around to different environments and adapted to them, with the evolution just solidifying it later on, right? So then it makes sense their type never changed. Raudra and Puragon just got good with Fire and Ice moves, and even if their looks now reflect that, their defensive typing doesn’t.”

    “Something like that,” Chaletwo replied. “Whatever the reason, at least this is good to know if we’re going to battle them again.”

    “Yeah,” May agreed. “We go for Ice attacks whenever we can, no matter how counterintuitive. Floatzel, just be bombarding them with Ice Punch.” The sea otter grinned enthusiastically. “And Sneasel...” The weasel looked expectantly at May, who paused for a moment. “I don’t suppose you’re opposed to evolving.”

    Sneasel snorted at the absurdity of the notion.

    “Well, we should definitely try to find ourselves a Razor Claw, then; you’re going to be a lot more instrumental to this battle than we thought. You already learned Ice Shard anyway, so we don’t have anything to lose anymore. Sound okay?”

    Sneasel nodded in satisfaction.

    “Where do we get one?” Mark asked, looking at May.

    “Probably at the Green Town Department Store,” she suggested with a shrug.

    Someone cleared his throat behind them, and Mark turned sharply around to see Alan standing sheepishly a short distance away. “Actually, I... I’ve got one.”

    “Alan?” Mark said suspiciously. “What are you doing here already?”

    Alan sighed, not moving from where he stood; May was looking at him too, still wary, but didn’t say anything. “I’m sorry,” he said, finally. “We have something important to do. I shouldn’t comporomise that just because I feel weird about it, no matter how justified.” He glanced around, his gaze finding Stantler and staying there.

    “You must be Alan,” Stantler said after a moment.

    “Hi,” he said with a forced smile. “You’re... you’re May’s?”

    “She is my trainer, yes,” Stantler responded.

    “Yeah,” he said quickly, “that’s what I meant.”

    There was another pause. “For what it’s worth,” Stantler went on, “I don’t think my trainer needs your help to feel like a murderer, so I’d appreciate if you’d move on and treat her like a person.”

    Alan blinked at her; May looked like she’d been stung, but kept her gaze on him.

    “Yeah,” Alan said after a second, expelling a breath. “I’m sorry about that, too. Look, I...” He looked at May, finally, his expression defeated. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to come, to be honest. But I wanted to know if you’d just bounced back to the same old, like when Lapras wanted to leave, or if you’d really changed. So I came and listened to a bit of your conversation without announcing myself and...”

    There was a pause. “And?” May repeated, wary.

    “And you asked Sneasel if she wanted to evolve. You weren’t even forcing yourself to do it to sound better. You just did.”

    It was May’s turn to blink.

    “I mean, it’s a really small thing,” Alan said quickly, “and it’s not a sure indicator of anything, but I don’t think you’d ever have done that before.”

    Stantler looked thoroughly unimpressed with that, and Mark kind of agreed. “You could have just asked, you know,” he said. “Treating somebody like a person doesn’t involve eavesdropping on them, last time I checked.”

    Alan looked at him and kind of deflated, sighing; his shoulders sagged, and suddenly he looked very tired. “Yeah, you’re right. I just... yeah. May’s a person. Consider that filed.” He shook his head, spreading his arms out. “Well, I’m back. I’ll stop being an idiot now and just shut up.”

    He sat down by their fire, silently. “So yeah, I have a Razor Claw,” he said after a second. “I bought it for a friend when I was on my journey, but then her Sneasel decided he didn’t want to evolve after all. It should still be on my PC system. If you want, that is.”

    Mark nodded. “Yeah, thanks. We can...”

    “I want to evolve tonight,” said Sneasel immediately, looking at Mark. “If he has the item, we can do it now.”

    “I’ll help,” Floatzel said enthusiastically.

    Mark looked at May and Alan and then shrugged. “Fine by me,” he said. “I’m not that tired.”

    Alan took out his Pokédex and an item box and retrieved the Razor Claw with a few button-presses, handing it to Mark without words.

    “Thanks,” Mark said before turning to Sneasel. “Should we go somewhere where there’s more space?”

    “And more darkness,” May added, speaking for the first time in a while. “Sneasel can’t evolve unless it’s dark around.”

    “Yeah, that too.” Mark looked at them, hesitating. “While I’m gone, can you fill him and his Pokémon in on the strategies?” he asked, directing the question at May. She nodded wordlessly.

    “All right, then. See you later.”

    As he walked towards the forest with Sneasel and Floatzel, he heard indistinctly as Alan sent out his Pokémon and May started to talk about their training as if nothing were more natural. Sometimes he just didn’t get how her brain worked.

    He was only barely out of sight when there was a hiss out of a bush by his side; he turned wildly around, heart jumping into his throat, before it registered that it had been Scyther’s voice, saying his name.

    “You scared me,” he muttered as the mantis stepped out. “What is it?”

    “Sorry,” Scyther said quietly, looking uncomfortable. “There’s just something I have to do.”

    “What?”

    “All the time we’ve been here,” Scyther went on, looking him in the eye, “I’ve been trying to forget. I was going to let go of the Code and the swarm and my life in the wild. But it’s hard and I can’t. I can’t just leave again. I have to go and find my swarm.”

    Things felt strange and surreal all of a sudden; flashbacks of Letaligon assaulted Mark, but this time, after going through that with her, he was oddly calm. “Will you be coming back?” he just said.

    Scyther shook his head slowly. “I don’t know. The swarm isn’t going to want me back, but maybe...” He was silent for a few moments, his gaze distant. “If I’m not back by dawn,” he said eventually, “don’t wait for me. Tell them all goodbye and that I loved battling with them. That goes for you too.” At the last sentence, he inclined his head to Floatzel and Sneasel; they both just looked faintly puzzled.

    “All right.” Mark’s mind still felt strangely detached, frozen. “Whatever you do,” he heard himself saying, “I hope you choose what makes you happiest.”

    Scyther nodded; there was a tinge of genuine gratitude in his eyes. “Thanks for everything,” he said, and before the fact Mark might never see him again had even properly begun to sink in, the mantis had dashed off between the trees and out of sight.
     
  10. Agent Tectonic

    Agent Tectonic From Ashes, I Come

    No reviews. . . yet? Well, guess that makes me first. Alright, here we go:

    I think if there was one word to some up that entire conversation it would be this: awkward. Two months fly by, and neither May, Mark, or Alan hold a normal conversation without some unspoken awkwardness passing between them. That's human emotions for ya.

    Missing a punctuation of your choice here.

    This sentence is rather long. I think it would actually be considered a run sentence if I am not mistaken.

    I had to laugh at the irony of this scene. Alan seems to paint himself as a ne'er-do-bad, yet this scene depicts a rather different picture. Ah, the irony of it.

    Almost makes me want to have a Stantler. Absolutely love her personality. Motherly, blunt, and digs right to the point. Though, it makes me think. I may be wrong, but hasn't Mark and May try to get Alan to forget the past and move forward, and both fail. Yet this Stantler drives this point home, and Alan actually heeds her words over the attempts of the other two. Maybe its different if someone outside the incident says it.

    Grammar nitpick first: As the second half is considered a clause, it does deserve a comma so that it does not look like a run on.

    Now for the reaction. Odd that Scyther's past is haunting him again. Actually, better idea. . .

    Question to Scyther: I don't suppose you would be willing to indulge us readers with why or what is driving you back to your old home before the next chapter is penned? What do you expect to gain? Or are you hinting that you are going to lead the swarm yourself now? Now that would be an interesting idea.

    Well, as this was a rather good chapter, it definitely was a bland filler chapter. Nothing really happens except that Scyther takes off, and Alan joins the group again. I will bet my bottom dollar that the next chapter will be exciting as old faces and unpleasant memories among the swarm will be resurfaced.

    EDIT: And on a more random and off topic question, how was NaNoWriMo?
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2011
  11. Estuary

    Estuary єѕѕ-cнєw-єrry

    I was going to read through this whole 'fic and post my review all at once, but after getting up to page 5, I realized that the review would be too huge to do all at once. Also, the part of the review including the first two chapters was lost somehow, so I'll have to go rewrite those. Also, I know I've read this 'fic before, but it was years ago and I don't recall very much at all besides Chaletwo, and since then I have grown much as a writer, anyway. I can't recall if I ever wrote a full review. If I did, sorry for re-reviewing (and congrats for keeping this story going for so long!)

    For now, here's my review for pages 2-5.

    He sure has an affinity for finding incredibly rare Pokemon, eh......?
    The best definition I have ever read of a Mary Sue/Gary Stue is that they are a character who warps the very world to act in their favor. They have incredible luck, they win every battle, every Pokemon wants to belong to them...

    Not to mention, this whole quote just seems to exist to show how caring and selfless Mark is. He can barely keep it together, for a Pokemon he has never met. How very selfless, and not over-the-top at all.

    This just seems.. really... I can't think of the word. Childish? Unrealistic? Why would this guy want to be a gym leader, anyway? And why the hell would they make him the very first gym leader you fight? And why wouldn't EVERYONE be clamoring to become one of his junior trainers?

    ... Hmmmmm. So technically he's too young to battle, but Joy, a Pokemon health expert, thinks he should keep going, because he's been forced to before... Yeahhhhh. Because it's not like there's anyone in the world who could take care of the Eevee and not battle it. It's not like Pokemon Centers have the resources and capability of taking care of a Pokemon who, as Joy said, is too young to battle, or making sure it is taken care of properly. Of course, Mark is too selfless to even think about wanting such a rare and sought-after Pokemon as Eevee, but once again, it just falls right into his lap.

    What a coincidence, Mark gets a cute young Eevee who also happens to be capable of battling, according to a horrifically apathetic Nurse Joy. Charmander and Eevee... I believe you know my views on giving those Pokemon to trainers, especially on, LOL, what, his first day training? First two? I'm going to guess that he gets a Dratini next.

    Eh? You only have a Trainer ID if you BUY a Pokedex? That makes no sense. And in some cases, like if you were some kind of criminal, it would actually be advantageous. And I can only assume that Mark has no other forms of identification. So basically, unless you can afford a Pokedex, and it doesn't break or something, there is absolutely no way to identify you.

    This sounds silly. I have trouble imagining someone reaching 'crazily' down.

    Which is why the first gym is Legendary...

    So on his first day he gets Charmander, Eevee, and sees a legendary. Yes, I know, the legendary supposedly goes there every night, but it still seems like a ploy to make sure Mark gets to see a legendary. Again, the entire world seems to exist to make sure Mark gets and sees cool Pokemon..

    I LOL'D. Four Pokemon: Charmander, Eevee, Sandshrew, and Gyarados. In one day. Not to mention a legendary sighting. And he doesn't even have to go through the awkward Magikarp stage, the reason why Gyarados are so uncommon in 'fics! Does this really strike nobody as odd? What justifies this absurdity? I have no problem with an abnormally strong, talking Gyarados. I DO have a big problem with one being given to a trainer on his first day- not to mention literally hours after a Charmander and and an Eevee.

    Also, weren't there a bunch of people there just a minute ago? Why would he wait for Mark, in particular?

    The Joys sure seem like tools who're there to make Mark seem godly. And she doesn't seem curious at all as to how his super overpowered Gyarados speaks English.....?

    Mark is so absurdly overpowered...

    A possibly abused Eevee who is too young to battle and, in fact, doesn't know what battle is? Sure, trainer! Here, make it strong. Why would they give such a young Pokemon, in such a delicate situation, to an extremely novice trainer who has little to no experience with Pokemon, period?

    I'm pretty sure he is. I recall reading this story once, many years ago. And I recall it being very hard to get into, with many Stu-ish aspects (though I do enjoy the writing style- I promise I'm not trying to outright bash your 'fic). And now I remember why I can't remember Mark or any of his team, only Chaletwo and some stuff about Legendaries. Mark and his team are a bit ridiculous.

    Wha? Articuno is nothing like a parrot. Parrots have huge, curved beaks and large heads. Articuno has a very small beak and head. Articuno has always struck me as having a peacock-like body (if not the tail).

    Parrot: http://okgrassroots.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Parrot2.jpg

    Articuno: http://www.arkeis.com/images/pokemonfactory/articuno.png

    Peacock: http://taylorlifescience.pbworks.com/f/8718peacock_wrk1.jpg


    Also, isn't this the first battle that Sandshrew has been in? Why would he make the Sandshrew's first battle the gym battle, against LEGENDARIES, no less? Why didn't he train him up a little, first? That seems incredibly neglectful.

    Charmander evolved.... on their second day of training? ................................

    Jesus, I've never even had my starter evolve in my second day of playing Pokemon, and in a story it's downright absurd.

    ... And has Flamethrower? And a level 9 Sandshrew has Earthquake? Mark really doesn't seem hideously overpowered to you, on his second day of training? ...... Sigh.


    Well, that's all I saved on my computer (no internet, so I CTRL+S pages I want to read).

    I'm sorry I kind of tore into your 'fic, but I remember you mentioning that your last try at it wasn't great because nobody told you the problems it had. So here you go. I'm no pro writer myself, and considering the popularity of this 'fic, I wouldn't be surprised if I got flamed for this (BRING IT), but I sure wish someone had told me that my awful earlier stuff sucked.

    Don't get me wrong, you're not a bad writer at all. I like your simple style of writing. The description's pretty good and it reads smoothly. I think the problem is, you're beating a dead horse. You said your previous tries ended up in very bad fanfiction. Well, here's the thing: yes, your writing is probably better, but everything else is the same quality. The plot, the characters... They haven't grown with you. They still have the feeling of being written by a nine-year-old, and from reading your very first post here, you seem adamant to ignore these flaws.

    I recall QFTL having some unique and interesting plot elements as relating to the legendaries, and in between the absurdities it's rather pleasant to read, so I'll try to review the rest of it (haha, I'm sure you're thrilled). Plus, as I've mentioned, you do write smoothly. Mark and his team are the only painful elements of the 'fic. Otherwise, it's rather pleasant to read- the only things I really have to criticize are the various plot points I've mentioned. Otherwise, nice description (I'd prefer more, though), great grammar and spelling.

    I look forward to seeing you grow as a writer.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2011
  12. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    Guh, what.

    Estuary, the chapters you're reviewing were written in 2004. Of course they are completely ludicrous and almost all of your criticisms are absolutely correct; I've been facepalming at all that stuff for several years now, and I'm the first person to admit that. But "I look forward to seeing you grow as a writer" is a bit of a weird thing to say to someone after reading something they wrote seven years ago. Do you really think what I wrote when I was fourteen reflects my current state as a writer?

    Obviously that doesn't fix the mistakes. It doesn't make the fic better. It doesn't mean you can't find it ridiculous (you should) or criticize it (you have every right to comment on whatever you thoughts are on any part of it). But it does mean that writing meticulous quote-by-quote reviews explaining to me why those early chapters make no sense is wasting your time, because I know. I am way, way beyond thinking anything I wrote into the first chapters of this fic is a good idea. Don't even remind me.

    Now you may ask why, since I know how stupid all of this is, I haven't just ditched the thing and moved on by now. That would be because I'm stubborn as all get-out and I actually kind of love this fic, in that crazy, completely non-quality-related way you start to love something when you've spent way too long working on it and thinking about it. I love the characters; they're alive to me and I love writing them. Doesn't mean I love the silly and nonsensical ways I introduced or presented those characters seven years ago, but I love them for what they are to me now. I love the plot that I eventually figured out after patching up plot holes and changing my mind back and forth about everything for years. I just generally love writing it. If I have any long-term goal in my life right now, it is to write the end of this thing - not to get it over with, but because I've looked forward to it for so many years that I couldn't stop doing so if I tried. And if it so happens that there are other people who have enjoyed it along the way for one reason or another - perhaps by ignoring all that silliness, perhaps by just not caring about it in the first place, perhaps by having been following it since they were as naïve and ridiculous as I was - who would also like to see it finished, that's great too. But the reason I'm still writing it is very much a warts-and-all thing, not some delusional idea that it doesn't have huge, ridiculous, gaping problems.

    You can definitely read on if you want - though again, I advise you that it'll be a waste of time to write detailed reviews on all this years-old stuff, even though it continues to be profoundly stupid for quite a bit. (That joke you made about him getting a Dratini next? He does. And then the legendary Gym leader decides to just hand him Mew, but he releases it because he's just awesome like that. It's even more facepalm-worthy than it sounds.) If you do so and get to the parts that are written more recently (the last chapter that really makes me cringe right now is chapter 31), you will hopefully find that I've improved. You will find that I stop glorifying Mark's AWESOME ULTRA KINDNESS!!!1 and start loving him for his failures instead. You'll find that things start to generally sound less like a fourteen-year-old writing a plot envisioned by a twelve-year-old. And maybe you'll still have plenty to criticize - in which case, awesome! I really do love thoughtful critique.

    But right now you're trying to advise a twenty-one-year-old woman about writing based on the mistakes she made when she was fourteen (with half of them carried over from when she was twelve). That is beating a dead horse.

    So, in summary, although I appreciate that you made the effort to try to help and your criticisms are spot-on, it really just isn't very helpful to review stuff I wrote seven years ago. I already think it's terrible. In general, odds are anybody who's been writing for ten years thinks the stuff they wrote when they'd been writing for three is pretty terrible. It's not a good startoff point for determining what I, today, as in the person you're actually talking to, need help with.


    Septic Scepti1e:

    Run-on sentences are a very specific grammatical concept; they're sentences containing two or more independent clauses (i.e. clauses that could be full sentences of their own) that are improperly separated, such as "My name is Bob I am a Pokémon trainer." So no, it's not a run-on sentence - but yes, you're right that it's too long. I just hate it when people misuse 'run-on sentence' to apply to any long sentence. :p

    I think Alan gives a bit more weight to her opinion because she actually is one of May's Pokémon and has first-hand knowledge of how May has treated her Pokémon recently.

    Scyther: I just... have to see Stormblade and Shadowdart again, I suppose. Last time we met, they seemed so changed; all I've been able to think in this time we've spent around Ruxido is why. I have to know what happened while I was gone. And... I suppose I have to see if they can forgive me. I've missed them.

    As for being Leader... *chuckle* Whoever the swarm would want as Leader, it is not somebody who has broken every law of the Code. I wouldn't have the gall to even attempt that.

    Don't forget them finding out more about the Color Dragons. In a way that was the main focus of the chapter, along with Alan returning.

    But yes, more eventful chapters are coming. Sorry for all the slowness recently.

    I didn't do NaNo this year; too much other stuff on my hands. I kind of meant to try to rewrite Morphic, but I didn't have time to get around to all the planning I'd have needed to do first.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2011
  13. Estuary

    Estuary єѕѕ-cнєw-єrry

    Haa, I probably should have looked at the date. There have been so many revisions, I just kind of assumed that this one was more recent (I only get to spend about an hour or two online per week, so I pretty much rush everything that I do). Mghh, it's going to be really hard to get up to current speed without reviewing, sigh (your 'fic is MASSIVE, congrats!), but I will attempt to review... someday. Sorry for the fuss.

    -Est
     
  14. GastlyMan

    GastlyMan Ghost Type Trainer

    Excellent chapter as always. :)

    Wait, that seemed a bit mixed up. Shouldn’t it be “The breeding was suicide to begin with”?

    Yeah, I really like how May is developing. Although Alan seemed very awkward when talking to her, understandably. :D

    Interesting how the legendaries’ characteristics are called special abilities as opposed to types because they adapted to their environment. Is that only true for legendaries, or is it true for other Pokemon as well?

    And Scyther...sad to see another one of Mark’s Pokemon (potentially) leave, but still a good addition to the plot. Should be interesting when he returns to the swarm.

    Anyway, great job with the chapter; excited for the next one.
     
  15. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    Estuary: Heh, don't worry about it. I was just a bit whuh? Thanks if you do end up reading/reviewing the whole thing; I do know it is ridiculously long.

    GastlyMan: Okay, you're not actually the first person to read that sentence wrong so I should probably reword it, but here's how I explained it to the other person:

    I'm not quite sure what you mean, but I'm pretty sure it's not what I meant. What I was trying to insinuate is that rather than having different types as they assumed originally, the Color Dragons have different abilities. All of them are plain Dragon/Flying-types; however, Puragon has an ability that powers up her Ice attacks, Raudra has an ability that powers up her Fire attacks, etc.

    Glad you enjoy the developments. Chapter sixty is coming along fairly well, although my laptop just went weird so it could be a bit before I can continue with it. Thanks for reviewing!
     
  16. Razor Shiftry

    Razor Shiftry Cynthia = Porn Star

    Hey DragonFree,

    Nice Chapter :) I loved the reveal on how the Dragons are actually Dragon/Flying rather than Dragon/Element but still have 3 STABs (Same Type Added Bonus) through use of their Pokemon abilities. Preeeeetty damn clever! I can totally understand how easy it would be to assume a pokemon's typing by its colour and its common attacks. I really can't wait to see how their battle strategies will develop as a result of this new information. Pokedex ARE useful after all :p haha The explanation on the origins of the myths of the Dragons was pretty cool as well.

    And Woop! Alan's back, awkward teenage emotions are back, and the trio is back together.

    and my favourite bit? This lil snippet :p

    Snorting Sneasel? Ha! I was chuckling for ages at that mental image. Should be a meme.

    *thumbs up*

    Till next time!
     
  17. Cosmic Fury

    Cosmic Fury Evil Overlord

    Hi, I'm not sure if I'm a familiar face around these parts, but I'll just come out and post my review of the first several chapters, which I've read so far.

    I am just now on chapter 18, and have of course read all the rest of the chapters, and I have to say that this was written excellently!

    I have to say that it was very original, and needless to say very good, as I'm usually a hellishly picky reader...LOL

    Perhaps the only thing I MAY see wrong with this is that Mark seems to have gotten his team rather fast, in this length fanfic, but that's extremely miniscule compared to the grand scale of things, which is for lack of better words, epic, awesome, and other such words that mean that same thing.

    I have very little need to say this, but I will say it anyway. This work is excellent in almost every definition of the word, and I do plan on reading it alll the way to the last page, perhaps posting random comments here and there.

    ^_^
     
  18. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    Razor Shiftry: Thanks for reviewing. I'm glad you liked the dragons' typing thing; it's one of very unfortunately few things that make the Color Dragons distinct from the Dragons of Ouen.

    Cosmic Fury: Hey, and thanks for reading. There are very, very definitely many more things wrong with it than the speed at which Mark gets his team, but I'm glad you managed to overlook those things anyway. :p Hope you go on to reach the chapters that don't make me cringe horribly.


    Anyway, chapter sixty is here. It turned out to take longer than I thought, largely because it turned out to be longer than I thought - the fact there's no battle in it taking up space made me figure it was going to be one of those six- or seven-page chapters, but no, it ended up at thirteen.

    I don't know how this chapter really comes across to people who haven't read the spin-offs - it shouldn't be confusing, but parts of it probably won't really mean anything to you. It's hard to say just how much that should actually hamper your ability to enjoy the chapter, but.



    Author’s Note: This chapter brings up details that were only briefly mentioned in chapters 27 and 29 regarding Scyther’s backstory and Scyther society. Some of them could sensibly be recapped within the text of the chapter, but others couldn’t without some kind of extremely awkward as-you-know-Bob. This wouldn’t really be a problem if this were a novel published in one piece, since they could still be expected to at least ring a bell and the rest of what mattered could be deduced from the context. However, because this is serially published fanfiction and I am a slow writer, it has been several years since many of you actually read those chapters, and that means it would be wholly unreasonable to expect you to still remember any of these details (unless you read the spin-offs, in which they were more prominently featured; in that case, you can skip the rest of this author’s note).

    So, to jog your memory and save you the trouble of looking for the explanation in ancient horribly-written inconsistent chapters from my dramatic-dialogue-should-end-in-an-ellipsis phase that I’d prefer nobody ever read again: Scyther swarms have a leader, to whom they refer as simply ‘Leader’; any member of the swarm who can defeat the leader in a duel can become Leader in the current one’s stead. ‘True duels’ are about life and death, but they also have friendly duels, which are not. Mark’s Scyther used to have two friends within the Scyther swarm, Stormblade and Shadowdart, and they called him Razor. And the Scyther have a very strict system of ethics (the Code), of which he has broken all of the five most sacred moral decrees.

    This chapter also discusses the events of the spin-off [thread=290189]The Fall of a Leader[/thread]. It spoils many key plot points of it, so if you were planning to read that soon, this would probably be a good time to do it (though I apologize in advance for the frequently terrible writing in it). Otherwise, basically everything this chapter mentions as having happened since Razor left the swarm is shown in more detail there, so if you haven’t read it, that’s where you should look if you think it sounds intriguing.

    Chapter 60: The Swarm

    Razor drew his scythe across the Nidorino’s throat and held him down as his struggles became death spasms and then faded into dull twitching.

    It felt good to hunt – freeing, really, after only being able to do it in secret for so long – and he wouldn’t have done it had he not been somewhat hungry, but just the same, the main reason he was hunting was to have something to offer as an excuse before approaching another Scyther. They had every reason to despise him, but food was food.

    He ate half, sliced off the skull, spikes and thickened skin to reduce the remaining weight, and then picked up the rest of the carcass in his mouth, supporting it with his scythes as he headed towards the plains. If Stormblade and Shadowdart didn’t want to talk to him, perhaps they’d at least let him share his prey with them, and at this point that was all he could really ask for.

    -------

    That old oak tree on the hill had haunted his dreams ever since his departure; seeing it in the flesh again felt strangely unreal, like he might wake up and find himself back in the Gym with Rob any moment now. He felt a strange, tingling apprehension as he approached it, slowing from his flight-assisted dash to a hesitant walk.

    Way back when, it had been chance that their favourite place was a bit apart from the rest of the swarm. Now he was kind of relieved that he didn’t have to come close enough to the other Scyther for them to recognize him; he might be able to just talk to his friends again and disappear without anyone else knowing he was even there.

    The Leader’s rock, he noted absently, was unoccupied. Presumably the Leader was out hunting, then, though it was unusual for him to be doing so this late. He shivered at the thought; it meant he could have encountered the Leader in the woods, and there was no chance he would have been appeased by half a Nidorino.

    Razor stopped, laying his prey onto the ground in front of him. He saw indistinct shapes lying by the tree, facing away from him, and had to gather his courage for a second before he said, “Stormblade? Shadowdart?”

    One of the shapes rose up immediately, turning towards him. “Razor?” said Stormblade in disbelief, his one eye blinking sleepily. “What are you...?”

    The other shape got to its feet more slowly, and something was immediately off about the way it moved; this wasn’t Shadowdart, Razor realized quickly, and then recoiled in horror as he noticed it was red and metallic, and then... “...Nightmare?”

    She looked at him, meeting his eyes for just a moment, her expression inscrutable, and then lay back down as if he was never there.

    “Razor, it’s been...” Stormblade was by his side now, but he didn’t care, because nothing made sense. “Are you back for good?”

    “Why is she...?”

    “A lot of things happened while you were gone,” Stormblade murmured. “Let’s just talk. We have a bit of catching up to do.”

    Razor took a deep breath and tore his gaze away from the barely-visible shape of the Scizor. He noticed the Nidorino by his feet, nearly forgotten in his general shock. “Are you hungry?” he said automatically. Stormblade nodded gratefully and started to eat.

    “Where’s Shadowdart?” Razor asked after a moment.

    Stormblade cringed. “Dead,” he whispered.

    Razor was silent. Only six or seven months ago, when he had met Stormblade and Shadowdart in Ruxido, the latter had been suddenly fierce and dominating, bore the marks of having challenged the Leader, and called Razor unworthy. Dead seemed just one more bizarre descriptor, something that simply didn’t fit. “How?” he said eventually.

    “Suicide of guilt.”

    “Shadowdart?” That made even less sense. Shadowdart had never admitted to being guilty of anything, much less considered suicide over it. “Why?”

    Stormblade swallowed and sat down. “After you left, he became obsessed with the Code,” he said.

    Razor couldn’t hold back a chuckle. “Shadowdart?” he said again. “Nine-tries-to-catch-a-Rattata-with-closed-eyes Shadowdart?”

    Stormblade didn’t appear to find it funny in the least; he just shook his head. “He’d go off on passionate rants about the moral decay of the swarm and our Leader’s hypocrisy, and he’d train obsessively so he could replace him and set things right. He became very strong – you wouldn’t have believed it. He lost the first few attempts, but then he said it was all part of some master plan to scout out the Leader’s techniques, and eventually he won. He became Leader.”

    Razor chuckled again in disbelief: it was all he could really do. If he hadn’t had that one little glimpse of how Shadowdart had changed half a year ago, he wouldn’t have believed Stormblade at all. As it was, he didn’t protest, but that made none of it any less absurd.

    “Then he just... started to go wrong. He got this idea that he should execute Scyther who failed to commit suicide of guilt when they’d broken the Code – I think it was all a way for him to get back at you, somehow. Eventually I left, too – that’s when I met Nightmare again.”

    “Are you two...?” Razor asked, without really deciding to.

    “No,” Stormblade said, shaking his head; there was pain in his voice that Razor couldn’t place. “Just friends.”

    Razor nodded as Stormblade took a half-hearted bite out of the Nidorino.

    “We went back,” the older Scyther went on at last, his voice faint. “When we got here, Shadowdart had gotten worse. He was killing Scyther for just talking about breaking the Code. And he’d done... things.” Stormblade shuddered visibly. “You don’t want to know. I guess after we got there and confronted him, the Scyther he used to be managed to claw through and realize what he’d become.”

    There was a pause while this sank in. “And he killed himself?”

    Stormblade gave a very small nod. “He used his left scythe, too. It was the one he used to kill the old Leader. Sometimes I wonder if that meant anything.”

    Razor stared over the scattering of Scyther below them, trying to wrap his mind around all this – Shadowdart was gone, and not just gone but mad and Code-obsessed and tyrannical and that wasn’t Shadowdart – “You’re thinking about it too much,” he said firmly. “You always thought about things too much.”

    Yes. That, at least, was static and still made sense. The first time they’d met, Stormblade had been a strange dreamer suggesting the clouds weren’t really Pokémon like all the other Scyther said, and even after that, he’d...

    Something occurred to him suddenly. “You were actually right about the clouds, you know,” he said. “Humans researched them and found out they’re just a lot of tiny drops of water.”

    Stormblade nodded again, slightly. “I know,” he said.

    Razor wondered vaguely how Stormblade would know that, but it was silly and didn’t matter and he didn’t ask.

    There was silence.

    “Nightmare told me you dueled again,” Stormblade said.

    Razor shouldn’t have been surprised Stormblade knew that, not when Nightmare was here, but somehow he hadn’t imagined she’d tell anyone. “We did,” he said. “And I won and spared her, so I guess we’re even.”

    “Even?” Stormblade replied sharply, his voice suddenly hard. “You’re not even. You let her be caught. You stood there and let her be caught and evolved. She never got even for that.”

    Razor winced. It had been a stupid thing to say, the moment he had said it. “I was scared.”

    “That’s not an excuse,” Stormblade went on, that unfamiliar pain entering his voice again. “You kept saying you were in love, and then when it mattered...”

    “Love is fake,” Razor said. “It’s just a stupid obsession. I didn’t –”

    “Do you know how I lost my eye?” Stormblade interrupted. “I had a mate. And there was a Letaligon, and she was behind me, and I stayed in its way instead of dodging. Because I loved her. Don’t you dare talk to me about love. You don’t know what it is.”

    Razor looked at him for a long moment, finally making sense of what was bothering Stormblade. “Is she dead, too?”

    Stormblade nodded wordlessly.

    “I’m sorry.”

    The older Scyther was still silent. Razor looked at him, trying to work out how to answer. His practiced tirades against love, all the drunken speeches he’d made to Rob and Mark and the world about why it was empty or shallow or nonexistent, suddenly felt hollow and trite.

    “You’re right,” he said eventually. “I didn’t love her. I barely knew her. I just cared about the fantasy of her. I should have helped her anyway – but yes, I was scared.”

    Stormblade didn’t look at him.

    “But if I really had loved her, I would have. And I would have done it for you. I would have done it for Shadowdart.”

    This, too, seemed to hit a spot somewhere. Stormblade glanced at him, silently, and then looked back at the Scyther scattered in the grass ahead of them. “Would you?” he asked after a second had passed. “For Shadowdart?”

    Razor looked at him, trying to read what he was thinking. “Of course I would have. He was my friend.”

    “Was he?” Stormblade gave him a searching look that Razor had no idea how to respond to. After a moment he looked away again with a sigh and continued: “I always thought of him as a friend, too, but then I started thinking about it and realized we barely ever treated him like one.”

    Razor opened his mouth to protest, but no words came out. On reflection, he’d never taken Shadowdart very seriously, had he? It had never quite occurred to him to question their friendship, per se, but looking back, he’d spent more of his time... well, ridiculing him, than showing he cared. Had he cared? He couldn’t tell anymore; the years he’d spent rambling drunkenly to Rob about his days in the swarm had cast things in a certain mold in his mind that might not be as accurate as he’d have liked.

    He thought of his conversation with Mark after their last encounter. Shadowdart was always a wuss. He thought of how laughable the idea of Shadowdart as Leader had seemed just earlier. Nine-tries-to-catch-a-Rattata-with-closed-eyes Shadowdart. Ridiculous.

    And now he was dead, and Razor missed him.

    He sighed. “No, I suppose we didn’t.” (We? Stormblade had been perfectly decent as far as Razor could remember.)

    They were silent. A lone Venomoth fluttered overhead; after those years of friendly battling with every manner of Pokémon, the instinct that wanted to leap up and kill it was just a dull tug at the edge of his consciousness.

    “I still wanted to see him again,” Razor said quietly.

    “Yeah,” Stormblade said, still staring unseeingly at the sky.

    “Who’s Leader now, if he died?”

    “It’s being decided by friendly duels, since he wasn’t killed by a challenger. In the meantime, Nightmare and I have been overseeing the rituals. It just sort of happened.”

    Razor blinked at him in incomprehension. “Nightmare and you?”

    “Yeah.”

    “They... the swarm accepts... her?”

    Stormblade chuckled, like it hadn’t occurred to him quite how bizarre that was. “It doesn’t take so long to get used to her,” he said. “And after Shadowdart and her part in exposing him, I suppose they were more ready to give her the benefit of the doubt. She still gets side glances and occasional hostility, but...” He shrugged. “For the most part, they don’t mind. They know she used to be just like them and that a human did that to her. I think they can’t help but realize on some level that the same could happen to them.”

    Razor looked at him in astonishment, part of him weirdly relieved and part of him too baffled to be relieved. And some small part was ashamed, ashamed that here the swarm was tolerating Nightmare as a Scizor when he’d seethed at the very sight of the species and then rubbed it in her face when he’d met her and neglected to kill her.

    “How is she?” he asked.

    Stormblade let out a long sigh. “You should probably talk to her yourself,” he finally said, without meeting Razor’s eyes. “She deserves an apology, if nothing else.”

    Razor’s heart stung. “Would she want to talk to me?”

    “I don’t know,” Stormblade said quietly.

    And that was all. Stormblade had changed; he was distant, cold, reluctant. Razor hadn’t imagined a happy reunion, exactly – well, perhaps he had imagined it, but he certainly hadn’t expected it – but Stormblade had always... cared about him. Sought his company. Considered him a friend.

    As he stood up in silence and picked up what was left of the Nidorino, Stormblade didn’t even look at him, and ultimately that was what wrenched at Razor’s heart more than anything else.

    He turned and walked heavy steps toward the old oak. Nightmare had risen while he was talking to Stormblade and was standing by the side of the tree, unmoving, her red armor gleaming in the moonlight. Her eyes met his, but she said nothing as he stepped in front of her and put his prey down.

    “I’m sorry,” he said quietly, the words feeling empty and futile. Because of his cowardice, she’d been caught and evolved; an apology couldn’t make up for that.

    She regarded him in silence for a moment. “What’s the point?” she said eventually. “It’s been too long. By now, if things hadn’t gone the way they did, I wouldn’t be who I am today, so what would it even mean for me to say I wish you’d warned me?”

    He looked up and stared at her, so confounded by that train of thought that he couldn’t quite begin to formulate a reply. She picked up the carcass in her pincers, as if this was all perfectly normal, and tore a strip of flesh from it.

    “So your trainer released you too, huh?” she went on after swallowing.

    Razor shook his head numbly.

    She glanced away. “Oh. Are you staying?”

    “I don’t know,” he said.

    “I know the feeling,” she said, without looking at him. She didn’t elaborate; the statement just hung there in the air, and it struck Razor suddenly, with a hint of irony, that now, more than three years after he’d left the swarm proclaiming that he loved her, they actually had something in common.

    “So you...”

    She turned towards him, a humourless chuckle escaping her. “You know what’s funny? I miss him. He caught me and turned me into a freak, and now here I am and I miss him.”

    Razor thought of seeing her trainer at the Pokémon Frenzy Tournament, where that face had been engraved in his mind; of the blind hatred that had consumed him as he’d attacked him in the forest; of the grim satisfaction of staring him down at the League and knowing that the boy recognized him. “You liked your trainer,” he said slowly as it sank in.

    “He was just a kid,” she said. “It had never even occurred to him that a Scyther wouldn’t want to evolve. He was devastated when I told him. He never stopped telling me he was sorry.”

    He started to laugh. There was nothing else to do. She looked at him with a vague sort of curiosity.

    “I tried to kill him,” he said; he couldn’t lie to her now, not after everything else he’d done. “I tried to kill him twice because I hated him so much for doing that to you. And when my trainer battled him in the League, he recognized me and...”

    Nightmare blinked at him. Then another blink. “It was you?” she said, realization building in her voice. “Flareon said there was a Scyther and he had a breakdown and... it was you? He released us because of you?”

    He giggled helplessly. He was the curse that had returned three years on to destroy her life yet again. To think that he’d been the one to name her ‘Nightmare’.

    He expected her to lunge at him and tear his throat out then and there, but the appalled incredulity in her eyes just faded again; she looked away and sighed dully, putting the meat down as if she’d had enough. “In a way it’s for the best,” she said, a hint of bitterness in her tone. “Part of me always wanted to come back, but I never would have taken the chance of returning until I had nothing to lose. And now where would the swarm be without me? Still cowering under a mad rapist?”

    Razor twitched as his understanding of Leader-Shadowdart jerked violently yet again, still further from any hope of being reconciled with the one he remembered. You don’t want to know, Stormblade had said.

    “That Leader used to be my friend,” he muttered, but didn’t really know why.

    “So I’ve heard,” she said. “Does that make it all better?”

    He shook his head.

    She looked away from him, staring over the plains and at all the other Scyther. “I’m going to try to become Leader,” she said suddenly; her voice had changed, its previous dull bitterness replaced with a resentful determination.

    Razor looked sharply at her, puzzled. “Leader? Why?”

    “Because for once,” she spat, “I wish a generation of Scyther could grow up without living in compulsive fear of breaking the Code. The others don’t get it; they’ve lived their whole lives knowing nothing else and would just regurgitate the same crap that their Leader taught them. But I’m different. Living with a human opened my eyes. Mistakes should be something you learn from, not a death sentence. I want to create a swarm where the Code is just a crazy myth and morality comes from common sense.”

    He stared at her; after a second he let out a surprised half-chuckle. Her ideas were huge, strange, radical; it was all too much to take in at once. “How are you going to become Leader like that?” he said; it was the only thing that stuck properly. “You’re not... you’re not a Scyther anymore.”

    “You were the first Scyther I’d duelled in years, back at the Pokémon Frenzy Tournament,” she said. “I lost because I was trying to fight you like a Scyther. Since I got here I’ve been practicing, and now I know how to duel like a Scizor. And I’m good.” There was a fierce glint in her eyes as she said the last word. “I think I can beat all the other Leader candidates. And if I can’t, it doesn’t matter, because it’s all friendly duels. I have nothing to lose.”

    He must have looked as sceptical as he felt. “I’m not a cripple,” she went on, her voice harsh. “I can show you.”

    It took him a moment to catch on; his brain was still trying to process the fact that apparently she thought there just shouldn’t be any suicide of guilt, at all. “You mean a friendly duel?” he said warily.

    She gave a scornful laugh. “I don’t do true duels anymore. I had a bad experience once.”

    He nodded mechanically without thinking about it; he couldn’t think right now, not while his mind was still reeling with the fact she was clearly mad. At least a duel would be a distraction.

    They stepped back from one another, his scythes at the ready, her pincers gleaming. He looked in her eyes and saw calm, deadly conviction. That was the thing: she didn’t look mad; she looked like she knew exactly what she was doing. The strangely alluring confidence that had defined her the day of their first duel was still there, even in this hideous, mangled body. The dissonance unsettled him, and he shuddered.

    And suddenly, taking advantage of his distraction, she was flinging herself at him.

    He let out a surprised yelp and raised his scythes in defense. A Scyther would have met his scythes with her own, but she simply barrelled straight into him, his scythes scraping uselessly against her stronger metallic armor without putting a scratch in it. Her greater weight easily knocked him into the ground; reflexively, he kicked hard at her abdomen to prevent her from landing on top of him, successfully throwing her over his head to buy time to scramble back to his feet.

    He whirled around to face her; rather than having crashed as he’d hoped, she had easily regained control, turned around and planted her pointed feet in the ground. She hissed, gesturing tauntingly at him with her pincers; he lunged towards her with a roar, raising his scythes and aiming for her seemingly fragile arms.

    He took a swipe with his right scythe – and it was suddenly stopped short as her left pincer lashed out and locked around it in a deathgrip. His whole body thrown off balance, he crashed into her from the side, but her feet dug firmly into the ground and absorbed his momentum. Still reeling, he swung his left scythe, only for her to clamp onto it with her other pincer and hold it still.

    He yanked his right scythe towards him; pain shot through his arm as her grip only tightened around the blunt edge, drawing bluish-black blood. His left arm fared no better, and panic bubbled up within him as he realized he could not move his scythes at all. Crying out, he desperately tried to kick her, but her seemingly delicate metallic legs didn’t even budge. She smirked at his shock for a moment more, as if to give him time to comprehend his situation; then she leaned forward, wrestled him easily into the ground with her weight, and twisted his left scythe around to his own throat.

    His heart hammering, his breath caught, it struck him suddenly that perhaps it had been a trap all along – her easy forgiveness, their conversation, disorienting him with her bizarre Leader idea (no Code), all to get him to agree to a duel so that she could finally finish the job she’d left unfinished three and a half years ago.

    For the second time, he lay at her mercy, expecting or hoping or wishing to feel a blade slicing through his trachea, taste blood for the last time, and then fade away into a sweet, just nothingness.

    And for the second time, she relaxed her grip, rose, and stepped off him.

    He gasped for breath, the edges of his scythes still aching where she had crushed them. It took him several seconds before he could rise up and stumble back to the tree to sit against it.

    “Still think a Scizor can’t become Leader?” Nightmare said, sitting down beside him; her tone was a little smug, but not spiteful. He shook his head numbly.

    They sat there for a minute without speaking, listening to the sounds of the night. Her grotesque metallic body shone in the moonlight, like a scythe, like something beautiful when it wasn’t. It confused and frightened him, like she did in general. And yet...

    “Thank you,” he muttered, finally.

    “For what?”

    “Sparing me.”

    She snorted. “That was a friendly duel, you dolt.”

    He shook his head. “Back then. I always used to resent you for it, but you’re right – if I’d died that day, I wouldn’t even be here to think about it, and I’d never have grown up from who I was then.” He took a deep breath. “So thank you, for... letting me grow up.”

    She smiled faintly. “That was the day I realized the Code was wrong. I didn’t understand it, then, but I looked at you and didn’t want to kill you, and that was the spark. I’ll never forget.”

    The day I realized the Code was wrong. He twitched instinctively. So it was that simple, to her. The Code was wrong, so she didn’t need to feel guilty or twisted for breaking it. The Code was wrong, so she could – should – just stop teaching it to the hatchlings and come up with something better. The Code was wrong, even though it was the Code that defined right and wrong in the first place.

    He had meant to conclude once and for all that her ideas were mad, but the thought didn’t seem quite as crazy as he’d intended it to once he’d actually thought it. It clung to his mind as he tried to dismiss it, squeezed into every available space and refused to let go. The Code was wrong. What if it really was that simple? Other Pokémon got on fine without the Code, and yet they got their morality from somewhere. So did humans. Mark had thought the Code was wrong, back at the League. What if he was right?

    The Code was wrong. He tested the thought in his head, tentatively; it was strange, alien, but not actually that bad. The Code was wrong, so there didn’t have to be any suicide of guilt. The Code was wrong, so there was no need to even decide that you were too far gone for it to make a difference anymore. The Code was wrong, so there was never anything to feel guilty about in the first place.

    The Code was wrong. It was such a simple, mind-boggling, blasphemous, freeing idea. And somehow... it had never even occurred to him.

    His head spun. Part of him screamed this was a dangerous way to go, that the Code was sacred and whatever else you did you couldn’t just dismiss it wholesale or something terrible would happen, and another part was filled with the same soaring excitement as three and a half years earlier, the excitement of following her lead in some kind of crazy rebellion.

    “So,” Nightmare said with a sigh, snapping him out of a trance, “in short, I liked my trainer fine, but I have a job to do, and if I weren’t here I couldn’t do it. I’m just not so sure about him, or the others on the team.”

    Guilt stung at him, new guilt that had nothing to do with the Code and maybe didn’t have to. Even if he did see that boy again someday, he doubted he could do anything to help him – much less the other Pokémon he had released. But perhaps he could try.

    “What about you? Did you like your trainer?” she asked after a moment, and he couldn’t shake the feeling she was trying to change the subject.

    He considered telling her about Rob, who had saved his life and been his best friend for three years, and then it had all changed when his obsession with Mew had taken over – but his mouth was dry and the thought was painful, so he just nodded silently. She gave him a curious look, but didn’t ask.

    “So have you decided yet if you’re staying?” she said after a while.

    There was a part of him that wanted to say yes, wanted to stay here and continue to hear about her strange, liberating ideas and watch her become Leader and change the swarm – a part that had been childishly infatuated with her for four years and didn’t quite seem to be able to let it go even now that she was a Scizor.

    But there was another part that really had grown up.

    He took a deep breath, shaking his head, and rose to his feet. “I think you’ll be a great Leader,” he said, and he meant it. “But now that I think about it, I have a job to do, too.”

    She nodded, and he could tell that she understood. He’d never before thought of himself as having a calling – he’d been too caught up in trying to distract himself from the fact everything he knew told him he was worthless and ought to be dead – but if the Code was wrong, it was obvious, really. Nightmare’s calling, the most worthy thing that it was in her power to do, was to change the swarm. But the most worthy thing it was in his power to do was to help his trainer stop the War of the Legends.

    “Are you ever coming back?” she asked.

    “Maybe,” he said. “If everything goes well.”

    They looked at one another for a moment more. “Goodbye, then,” she said.

    He nodded to her. “Goodbye.”

    Three and a half years ago, he had blindly followed her in rebelling against the Code and leaving the swarm, without truly understanding why. Now, she had inspired him to go his own way and do something that mattered – not because it was the best available distraction from his own self-loathing, but because it needed to be done.

    Whatever his life might have been like without her, he couldn’t help feeling that on the whole she had made him better.

    “Don’t forget your Nidorino,” she said as he was turning to leave.

    “Keep it.” He smiled faintly. “Consider it my thanks.”

    -------

    Stormblade was still sitting a short distance away, staring up at the stars.

    Razor walked up to his side and stopped. “I’m going back,” he said when his friend didn’t acknowledge him.

    “I heard your conversation,” Stormblade said, without looking around. For a moment, it seemed as if that would be all. Then, he turned his head and said, “You said you had a job to do. What did you mean by that?”

    Razor took a deep breath. “My trainer... is on a kind of quest. There are legendary Pokémon involved. Many difficult battles need to be fought, and... I’m one of the team.”

    Stormblade looked at him for a long second before nodding. “You really need to go, then,” he said, and Razor realized he sounded disappointed.

    “Were you hoping I’d stay?”

    Stormblade sighed heavily. “I don’t know,” he said. “I used to think I was angry with you on Nightmare’s behalf for not helping her, but she’s never really cared. Thinking about it, that probably wasn’t ever really it.” He paused. “I think the thing is that you ran off. And in the meantime Shadowdart went...”

    He looked away, uncomfortably. “I didn’t mind at first. I kind of admired you, you know – for defying the Code for the sake of love, and all that. And then we met you again there in the forest and you’d just... you’d left her to get caught. And you were trained.”

    That disdain for trained Pokémon seemed almost alien now, but Razor remembered it from his swarm days: Pokémon that willingly went with humans had given up, lost their independence, and lived the lowest sort of existence – spending their days manipulated by another, fighting for them, living for them. The very opposite of any kind of defiance.

    “Trainers aren’t...” Razor began.

    “I know,” Stormblade said in exasperation. “Nightmare says that too. But I don’t understand that. I don’t think I can understand it. All I know is you left and Shadowdart’s dead and Pearl’s dead and...”

    Razor had never heard the name Pearl, but he guessed she must have been Stormblade’s mate. “I’m sorry,” he said again.

    “Now it’s just me and Nightmare,” Stormblade said with a sigh. “But it’s not the same. We’re friends, but there’s so much she’s been through that I could never get my head around.”

    Razor looked at him in silence. “Would you like to come with me?” he said suddenly, on an impulse.

    Stormblade looked up sharply. “What?”

    “You could come with my trainer, help us fight. It’s something worthy to do.”

    Stormblade stared at him, his gaze turning distant; a few seconds passed before he shook his head. “No, I don’t think I could do that,” he said quietly.

    “Because it’s a trainer?” Razor guessed.

    “Because I want to help Nightmare, any way I can,” Stormblade said, his voice hardening. “Ultimately it was the Code that took you and Shadowdart away. I want it gone.”

    Razor nodded numbly. Only an hour earlier, that comment would have confused and disoriented him; now it seemed almost routine, in a strange, detached way. They were all rejecting the Code. He could almost imagine it was the normal thing to do.

    “Do you think she’ll make it?” he asked after a moment. “Become Leader, I mean?”

    “I think she will. She can beat them all in a duel. All I’m worried about is...” Stormblade hesitated. “Even if they can take having a Scizor in the swarm, I don’t know if they could get behind having a Scizor as Leader, especially if she’s trying to make radical changes.”

    “But the purpose of the Leader is to be the strongest member of the swarm,” Razor pointed out, doubtful.

    “Yeah, I hope they think so, too,” Stormblade said, sighing. “But it doesn’t matter. If worse comes to worst, we’ll just leave again. She always says running from a lost cause isn’t cowardly, just smart.”

    They stared over the swarm for a moment. Razor wondered if the Scyther that were scattered there were loyal enough to the Code to revolt against an attempt to make it irrelevant, and he was struck with a sudden, overwhelming sense of futility: why were they so attached to the Code in the first place? Why had he been? It had never occurred to him to even ask himself that.

    But now he was free, and if Nightmare succeeded, soon they would all be.

    “You should go,” Stormblade said quietly. “Your trainer needs you.”

    Razor nodded silently. “I hope it all goes well for you.”

    “Good luck to you, too.” Stormblade paused a moment. “So you’ll come back when you’re done?”

    “I promise,” Razor said.

    Stormblade exhaled, gave him a small nod, and then actually smiled. “Goodbye, Razor,” he said, the same way he had said goodbye three and a half years ago.

    Razor smiled back at him. “Goodbye, Stormblade.”

    And for the second time, he turned around to dash back into the forest of Ruxido, set on a new purpose.
     
  19. Razor Shiftry

    Razor Shiftry Cynthia = Porn Star

    I don't really have much to criticize on this Chapter. It was a wonderful read. The quick friendly duel was exhilarating. The conversation was a wee bit of an emotional rollercoaster, in my opinion, well written and I could really feel the character's emotions behind their words.

    Thanks for brightening up my day Dragonfree!
     
  20. Cosmic Fury

    Cosmic Fury Evil Overlord

    Well, just picking up off my short (and possibly pathetic) review for the parts up through Chapter 18...

    Just in short, I read the whole thing, right through chapter 60--and coming from an extremely picky reader like me, that's a pretty darned good sign. I very much like the story, and I can see improvements in character development and plot...

    And overall, I can say that as a writer, in comparison to you I suck. LOL

    I'm looking forward to Chapter 61 already. Keep up the awesomeness!
     

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