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The Skull that Bears Seeds (PG-13)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Firaga Metagross, Aug 8, 2018.

  1. Firaga Metagross

    Firaga Metagross Auferstanden Aus Ruinen

    Alola is teetering on the edge of history, all it needs is a little push.

    This story is about the push.

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

    Rated PG-13 for: occasional swearing, violence from combat, trauma, and generally bad things happening to the characters.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2018 at 2:40 AM
  2. Firaga Metagross

    Firaga Metagross Auferstanden Aus Ruinen

    The Skull That Bears Seeds

    Chapter 1


    From its apex in the sky, the sun beat mercilessly upon the brick and mortar building comfortably hidden on the side streets near the border of Hau'oli City's industrial section. On days like this, Fusako thanked Tapu Koko that the second floor was coated in a mild darkness with pockets of light emerging from her desk lamp and the cracks in the blinds. Where it was dark, it was cool, so Fusako didn't begrudge the lack of light. (It also helped that Channary had brought her icy little Vulpix with her, whose frigid breath solved the issue of warm, stagnant air in the office).

    Today's lunch was once again a lukewarm cup of coffee from the break room, as Fusako had data to analyze and reports to write and phone calls to make. She stared at the intel Jason had given her from his listening post a few blocks down from the Hau'oli City Police Department's main building and waited for the caffeine to override her hunger.

    "It's not good for you to skip lunch, you know."

    Fusako looked up seeing second-in-command rolling in with some sort of plastic-wrapped loaf with one end sliced off on her lap.

    "I guess it is," Fusako said awkwardly chuckling, "Did you come to bring me lunch, Kate?"

    "I know you too well, after all," Kate replied as she positioned her wheelchair next to Fusako's desk, "Lee brought in homemade cornn berry loaf today. Thought you'd like to try it."

    "I'd love a slice," Fusako said, fishing out a knife from her desk drawer, "Just put it here. I'll slice some off."

    "You brought a knife, but no plates?" Kate said with a smirk.

    "This is a stabbing knife, not a bread knife," Fusako said matter-of-factly, "And I have you for the plates."

    Kate snorted as she fished two plates out of the tote kept slung on the back of the chair. Fusako unwrapped one end of the bread and sawed off a pair of irregularly angled slices of the purple-colored homemade bread for the two of them. They both took their first bites before recognizing the problem.

    "We should have brought napkins," Fusako stated while wiping her hands on her cargo pants, covering some of the many pockets with crumbs, "Note this for next time."

    "Duly noted, ma'am," Kate said lightheartedly. They both chuckled and continued to eat, Fusako washing every bite down with coffee. As they ate, a man in full team skull attire (designated regional head of security by Fusako herself), entered the office, with a manila folder in hand.

    "Admin Nishikawa," Thomas said, then turning to Kate, "Vice Admin Jang."

    "What brings you to my office, Captain Kauila?"

    Wasting no time, he slapped the folder on the desk, which Fusako opened. Inside was a familiar-looking picture of a teenage girl in a white dress and white knee high socks with a white sun-hat; a second photo showed a picture of a small puffy purple Pokémon .

    "These are the same photos from last time, Kauila."

    "Guzma still wants you to look for these two," he explained, "Says they're of the utmost importance."

    "She looks like every other rich tourist on Melemele. You might as well ask me to look for one specific Magikarp in the ocean. We've got more important things to do than spend our limited resources looking for some girl and her Pokémon . Missing tourist children are the police's problem, not ours."

    "Regardless, Guzma still wants us to prioritize looking for her over everything else."

    As Fusako laid back in her chair and groaned, Kate spoke:

    "It's not like we haven't looked for her; Jason's listening post has been scanning for intel on her day and night, but not even the police have any leads as far as we can tell."

    "Let's try intensifying searches in Hau'oli and if it doesn't pan out, we've at least got an explanation, okay?" Kauila suggested, "It's not going to do us any favors with central to get our asses chewed out by Guzma."

    "Argh, we don't even know if she's in Hau'oli; we don't even know if she's even on this Island!" Fusako complained, "Fine, we can do this wasteful tauros-**** for a little bit, if you want. I'll leave the execution of this to you, Captain. Just don't draw any more attention to us than need be. We can't afford to rattle the beedrill's nest right now. Not after what happened last time."

    "Thank you, Admin. I won't disappoint you. By your leave," Kauila said as he exited, photos in hand.

    Fusako waited until after Kauila left before speaking:

    "By The Guardian, Guzma is trying my patience with this claptrap."

    "At least Thomas is the one handling this now and not you," Kate consoled her.

    "No one should be handling this, but it's a silver lining regardless," Fusako said, "Thanks for the cake, by the way. It's good."

    "You should thank Lee; he's the one who baked it."

    "You know what I mean."

    "Yes, I do," Kate said, pulling out some stapled papers out of her bag, "Speaking of knowing, I compiled some persons-of-interest data that I'd like to go over with you."

    Accepting the papers, Fusako grabbed her coffee cup and continued to work through her lunch break.


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


    The sun's awesome might didn't deter Fusako from going outside in her almost military style fatigues, which Fusako proudly wore in regardless of the weather. She had a long walk ahead of herself, but it was the kind of extra effort that was worth the price, in her opinion. Plus, it gave her the chance to survey the areas that she had been working so hard to liberate.

    The streets she navigated mostly consisted all the usual trappings: deteriorating apartment buildings, tiny convenience stores nestled in between pawn shops and tax-assistance businesses, warehouses of varying usage, and the occasional Church (of Arceus or Mew, mostly), with people and their Pokémon shuffling to and from all of them. Those not moving about amassed in small groups, either waiting for the bus or talking among themselves on smoke breaks. It comforted Fusako that no one paid her any mind as she fast walked in normally attention grabbing garb.

    Fusako reached her destination at an unassuming sidewalk on an unassuming road hosting a gas station and a few restaurants. Red and rusty stood a telephone box, with a payphone inside which Fusako fed a few Alolan Yen into. The phone rang the maximum number of times before being answered.

    "Whaddya want?" a familiar, grouchy voice answered, Fusako able to taste the cigar smoke from the other side.

    "Is that anyway to talk to a comrade-in-arms, Admin Figueroa?"

    "Nishikawa? I was wondering who the hell that random number was," Bill answered, "It'd be a lot easier for me if you'd just call from your office phone like a normal person."

    "Someone has to worry about operational security," Fusako retorted, "The fewer people listening in on us, the better."

    "Hahahaha! Right," Bill guffawed, "But seriously what do you want? I'm a little busy."

    "I don't know if Guzma's bothered you about this too, but he sent orders out to start searching again for Lillie, that girl with the weird Pokémon again," Fusako explained, "Any news on your end?"

    "You called me about this tripe? What a waste of time!"

    "Believe me, I know. Everyone knows, except maybe Fukuda."

    "Yeah, cuz his head is empty and his nose is brown!" Bill stated, chuckling at his own joke, "How he got to be Admin I'll never know."

    "Regardless..."

    "I've got nothing, Nishikawa. Girls like her don't hang out in the sticks. Not unless they're on a field trip or something," Bill explained, "The only rumors I've heard are about Iki, but it's the most touristy area out there, with the shrine and all, so who knows."

    "Yeah."

    "If you ask me, you're better off just searching the city yourself."

    "I figured as much," Fusako acknowledged, "On another note, I'm sure you heard the much more pressing announcement from HQ."

    "Yeah, I heard. Why do you think I'm so busy?" Bill lamented, taking another puff of his cigar, "I've been in talks with all of the local big wigs trying to calm things down and suddenly we've got this fire under our asses."

    "It's a good opportunity for us to flex our muscle," Fusako eagerly explained, "Things are too quiet around here, and people are starting to forget our name."

    "What muscle? Neither of us are exactly the Kahunas of the Island if you know what I mean," Bill said, "I have no interest in throwing my boys at the cops, just to get them all arrested. I'll leave that sort rabblerousing to the foolish."

    "You forget our cause, Figueroa! For who are we if not rabble rousing other rabble?" Fusako retorted with a scolding tone.

    "Right, right," Bill conceded so that the conversation could end, "Look, I've got some big players waiting on me in the other room, and if they pull their support, I'm screwed, so I've got to go."

    "Sounds like you're the only one with no muscle here. Perhaps you should think about not outsourcing recruitment?"

    "Don't be an ass, Nishikawa!" Bill snapped before hanging up.


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


    Careful not become too predictable in manner, Fusako deviated from her path back to the Team Skull Hau'oli regional office by way of a "scenic route. The narrow 2-way street was flanked end-to-end by small Kantan restaurants experiencing the post-lunch lull in traffic. The pedestrians consisted of dishwashers and waiters on break, a few patrons leaving with full stomachs, and Channary, taking her Vulpix for a walk, who still need walks regardless of the temperature. Fusako struck up a conversation as she approached.

    "Having a good walk, lieutenant?"

    "Oh, ma'am, admin! I didn't see you there!" Channary sputtered out, hastily saluting, "Yes, it's fine. Crissy just needed to stretch her legs."

    "Good to hear," Fusako commented, followed by a short silence, "So, how are your new posters coming along? The art team treating you well?"

    "Uh, great, ma'am! I mean, it's not done yet, but it's fine! All the problems are quick fixes, Honest--"

    "Lieutenant," Fusako interrupted, gesturing her to stop, "I'm not here to interrogate you. We're just... talking."

    "Oh Arceus, I'm sorry!" Channary replied, taking a few breaths, "Things are fine, great! And you?"

    "My work has been coming along decently," Fusako said, "...and you've helped with that, lieutenant Savong."

    "Oh, I don't know if that's true, ma'am!"

    "Are you calling me a liar?"

    "No, ma'am!" Channary replied, flustered once again, "I'm just not sure--"

    "I recommended you for your promotion because I want you there, Lieutenant."

    "Ma'am..." Channary uttered, flabbergasted and no longer attentive to Crissy who tugged at her leash.

    "I put you in charge because you're the one who understands the style and ideology of Team Skull's art best of your peers," Fusako explained.

    "You really mean it?"

    "You should act with the confidence befitting someone in your position. A youngin' like you can succeed just as much as an old lady like me!"

    "Thank you, ma'am!" Channary said, with a new found sense of self-worth, "I'll get those posters done soon, no problem!"

    "Good," Fusako replied, giving Channary a friendly pat on the shoulder, "Because you're going to be a lot more busy in the future. We've got a bunch of stuff for you to do. I'm sure Vice Admin Jang will give you orders soon."

    "Ahh," Channary voiced, deflating a little bit.

    "Anyway, I have work to get back to. Have a good rest of your walk," Fusako said, terminating the conversation and leaving Channary with her now very restless Vulpix.



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


    A couple blocks away from where she left Channary, Fusako strolled past a mix of apartments and stores on her way back to the office. One in particular stood out with a hanging sign with large red plastic letters spelling out "Celadon Garden: Kantan Cusine". Beneath it was man in an apron and somewhat unkempt "business casual" clothes wiping down one of the two plastic tables in front of the restaurant. Looking up from his work as Fusako passed, the man's eyes met hers and she stopped, recognizing the features of his soft, tired face.

    "Fusako!" he yelled, discarding his rag and running to embrace her.

    "Kris?! Is that you?" she uttered before being caught in a powerful hug. The pair tightly embraced each other for a moment before jumping right into questions.

    "I can't believe you're here! What are you doing here?" Fusako asked, a little overcome with emotion.

    "I could ask the same thing of you!" Kris retorted, "Weren't you in Kanto with your parents?"

    "That was almost twenty years ago, Kris! I've been back home in Alola for a long time."

    "Oh? I thought you stayed there after your Pokémon Journey," said Kris, perplexed, "Weren't you supposed to stay with your family after they moved?"

    "I was..." Fusako clarified, "but things got a little tense between me and my parents, so I ended up moving back here at the first chance."

    Kris tilted his head a little and pursed his lips out of concern.

    "Oh, it's fine now, mostly," Fusako explained, "We're still in contact and stuff."

    "Okay, I won't pry," Kris relented, "What about your Pokemon? last I saw of them was in your top 32 match at the Pokemon league if I recall correctly."

    "It was top 64 and I'd rather not dredge that memory back up," Fusako said mildly irked, "I can't believe my only televised match was the one where I got thoroughly wrecked."

    "Hey, I thought you fought very valiantly," Kris reassured her, "I was on the edge my seat the whole match."

    "Thirteen-year-old Kris isn't exactly an authority on this matter," Fusako jibed, "...But thanks, anyway. All of my Pokemon are doing well right now."

    "Can I see them?"

    "I'm not letting Charizard out in the middle of the road," Fusako said, "Talonflame and Skarmory are back at my apartment. Pidgeot, Fearow, and Dodrio are living with my parents because they're the only ones they can handle."

    "Ahh, maybe later then."

    "They're all just older, really," Fusako said, "...Like you! So where've you been for the past... two decades."

    "I've basically been in school the whole time, haha," Kris chuckled, "It's a pretty sad to think about."

    "I'm more impressed than anything. How does one stay in for that long?"

    "5 years of public school, 5 years of undergrad, 6 years of grad school, and a whole bunch of academic breaks," Kris explained, "Luckily Uni in Johto is state-funded or else I'd be up to my neck in debt."

    "Yeah, no doubt. Where'd you go?"

    "Olivine University. Seemed like it was affected a lot less than all the other big Johto schools."

    "Yeah, all of the universities I saw in Kanto were in ruins," Fusako recalled, "Although the war just ended like a year before, so basically everything was in ruins. What'd you go there for?"

    "I planned to only go there for a Literature B.A. and then one day, I woke up and suddenly had a thesis defense to do."

    "Oh, Congrats! Should I call you Dr. Rákosi now?"

    "Please don't. It's embarrassing," Kris explained, "It took me ten years to realize I hate academia and that's just rubbing salt in the wound."

    "Ten years?!"

    "Aww, come on. What'd I just say?" Kris complained, "Besides it's hard to reflect on that sort of stuff when you're swamped with work and relationship stuff."

    "Wait, relationship? Who are you with?"

    "Formerly with. My ex, they're... it's not something I'd like to get into. We had a messy breakup like a year ago and it only reinforced my decision to travel back home to Alola."

    "Oh, sorry, I shouldn't have pried--"

    "Don't worry about it," Kris said, handwaving the whole thing off.

    "So, you're back home now?"

    "Yeah. Wasn't going to apply for a university position, didn't know what I could do in Olivine, didn't want to stay in my ex's town, hadn't really seen my parents in like a decade... you get the picture," Kris elucidated, "Anyway, I'm working at Mom's restaurant because all I have at the moment is a piece of paper that says 'I have no job skills, but might leave for a better position at a moment's notice'."

    "Rough," Fusako sympathized, "Ever consider a journalism job?"

    "Ehhh, applying to a news agency in Alola is kind of a waste of time if you're not well-connected or, you know, Unovan. It'd be a waste of time writing resumes when I could be writing fiction or something."

    "Yeah, news work around here's definitely Tauros-****."

    "Speaking of which," Kris segued, "What do you do around here?"

    "Temp work and odd jobs," Fusako lied, "A little of this and that."

    "Oh yeah, whatever pays the bills," Kris commiserated, "I definitely understand."

    " KRISTÓF!" A voice bellowed from the restaurant, drawing both of their attentions, "Get back to work!"

    "I will, Mom!" Kris yelled back before turning to Fusako again, "Sorry 'bout that...Hey, why don't you come on in? We could reminisce over some hot Kantan tea. I'm sure Mom would be beyond happy to see you again. "

    "Sorry, I'm busy with work today," Fusako said, "Honestly, I should get going."

    "Yeah, I should probably get back to work, too. See you around?" Kris asked, opening his arms once again for a hug.

    "Definitely," Fusako replied, returning the hug.

    Fusako resumed her walk back to the office at a doubled pace. Socializing would be compensated for with more vigorous work.


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


    Fusako leaned back slightly in her chair as she waited for everyone to arrive. Today was a longer day at the office than she would have liked and to make matters worse, she had to cap it off with a staff meeting. A moderately large table filled up most of the room, officially designated as the staff kitchen, but more akin to a meeting room with a microwave and fridge.

    "What's keeping them?" Fusako griped to Kate, who were both still five minutes early to the meeting.

    "They'll be here; don't worry," Kate reassured her as she fanned herself with her hands. The two standing fans barely compensated for the ambient heat amplified by inefficient light bulbs.

    "Admin, Vice Admin," Thomas saluted, blocking the entrance of conference room for the rest of the staff.

    "Please enter, Captain," Kate said compelling him to move and letting everyone else shuffle into place before Fusako started the meeting proper.

    "You all know why we're meeting today. There's a number of issues that I'd like to address promptly and information I'd like you all to be aware of."

    "Firstly, Captain Kauila brought it to my attention that Guzma wants us to search for a certain runaway girl and her Pokémon ," Fusako stated, gesturing Thomas to place the photos on the table for all to see.

    "She's been a real hassle to find," Jason added, "I've got nothing on her so far."

    "That's right, Lieutenant. The search so far has been fruitless and requires more effort than anyone of you should reasonably expend," Fusako continued, "That's why none of you except for Captain Kauila should spend time looking for her, even if anyone from Po Town Central Command bothers you about it. Leave this issue to Kauila and inform him or myself if you happen to see her in passing."

    The rest of the room nodded in understanding, not complaining about being told not to do additional work.

    "Secondly, I'd like to address the issue of our finances. Our revenue has been stagnant in some areas and declining in others. For example, support money paid by restaurants in the Johto quarter have been regular and consistent, but there is little expansion and I fear their loyalty may be more from ethnic ties than support for our cause. However, this is less worrying than the fisheries and cargo docks who have been paying us significantly less money lately when we need not only their money, but also their fish and transportation capabilities. I ordered these groups to be targeted specifically, so why have our relations with them soured recently?"

    "They said paying for our services was a waste of money when the mafia are more reliable," Kevin, the assistant head for finances, stated, "Our guys are getting their asses handed to them when they even bother to show up. Team Skull is a joke to them."

    "This is a dangerous trend, Captain, but one that isn't under your control at the moment. Focus on retaining what resources we have and strategize for regaining the docks with Vice Admin Zhou after he returns from central."

    Kauila waited in dread as Fusako took a moment to channel her thoughts.

    "Third, I'd like to address the issue of laxness in our security ranks," Fusako said turning to Kauila and his lieutenants, "As Captain Cordova pointed out, fighting forces, the muscles of Team Skull which allow for action, are a "joke" to the people we are trying to support. Defeat is one thing, but breaking the trust of our people is quite another."

    "You can hardly fault them, Admin," Kauila tried to explain, "You rarely give them enough time to get anywhere. An hour is not enough time for my people to stop what they're doing and show up for a fight. Most of them can only show up for things on the weekends."

    "I can't suddenly pick the times that the police are going to crack down on us, or the Mafia are going to encroach on our turf, Captain."

    "With all due respect, ma'am, it's too much to ask volunteer soldiers to show up when most of them have regular jobs. I've got maybe 30 people who are free all the time, but the rest have to use their days off to work for us, which they have to schedule in advance. We've got to support them if they're going to support us."

    "We need money to pay them to get them to protect the people who won't pay us unless we protect them with soldiers we can't pay," Fusako summarized and dragged her hands across her face in frustration, "This is a shitty situation we've found ourselves in. Thoughts, Vice Admin Jang?"

    "If we need to spend more money to bolster our position, we've got the savings to do it," Kate pointed out, "Letting the whole situation spiral out of control is the worst thing we can do. Better to lose some money now, than to lose all our credibility, strength, and money later."

    "We've still got some assets in reserve at the moment, but It'll take some time to turn it all into cash," Kevin added, "Still, it's worth using up some of our emergency assets considering this is an emergency."

    "Alright, Cordova work on getting some cash together. I want this issue dealt with ASAP," Fusako ordered, "Captain Kauila, I want you, and tell Vice Admin Yamashita this when you see him, to round up every reliable fighter you've got in the area. Tell them to report for training ASAP. We've got a gigantic event coming up and I need everyone available for something protracted. And tell them they're getting paid! Tell them whatever will make them show up and stay!"

    "Of course, Admin!" replied Kauila, "By the way, ma'am, what sort of thing is coming up, if you don't mind me asking."

    "Only the biggest Team Skull operation to date," Fusako stated, clearing stating it for all to hear, "There's going to be a nationwide strike."

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2018
  3. Cutlerine

    Cutlerine a lonesome harp guitar

    Welcome to the fic forum; I don't think I've seen you around here before. And what an entrance it is you've made! This is great. Skull is one of the more interesting teams, conceptually speaking, and there's so much room for fascinating reinterpretations and revisions of them and their cause; an organised Skull, in which their directionless anger is actually harnessed, is an excellent idea. Like, abject assholes organising against the system that created them? That is so much my thing that it makes me a little envious I didn't write it first, and a lot glad that someone else thought to do it anyway. Interestingly, though, it looks like Skull is still at least partially under Lusamine's control, if they're hunting for Lillie – and also that Guzma hasn't actually told anyone that, which … man. That's going to be rough. Fusako clearly really believes in Skull as a project – and who can blame her, honestly; with a little more rigour than it had in the games Skull could have been something special – and I doubt she'll be thrilled to realise where exactly these orders to find Lillie are coming from.

    Anyway, it's one thing to have a great idea, and quite another to present it in as accomplished a way as you do here. The set-up in an opening chapter usually makes or breaks a fic, but here, though there is a lot you need to tell us, it works very well; you handle the introduction of new information, the building out of the world and the set-up of the plot very deftly, letting everything emerge as and when it becomes relevant. It's quite heavy with data, but you've arranged it so organically that it really doesn't feel that way. On a line-by-line level, too, your prose is pretty solid, which is always welcome to see. Honestly, yeah, this looks like the start of something great. I'll definitely be keeping an eye on this to see where you plan to go with it.

    Anyway, here are some nitpicky things and also a couple of blow-by-blow reactions:

    This is something that crops up a fair bit throughout the chapter – these are two separate sentences that Fusako is saying, not one long one broken up by the dialogue attribution in the middle, so the comma after 'retorted' needs to be a full stop.
    You've got an extra space after 'Pokémon' here.
    Melemele must be a pretty wild place, if someone with the zany design ethos of a pokémon game main character doesn't stand out from the crowd. :p
    Interesting currency system. Is the yen a global currency in this version of the world, with specific variants around the world? I suppose that is what the games imply, although I've always taken that to be a representational device.
    This comes up a couple of times – 'bigwig' is usually written as one word.
    You're missing a closing set of quotation marks after 'scenic route'.
    This feels like a clunky way to say this, mostly because of the repetition of the word 'walk' and the fact that that second clause is technically attached to 'walk' rather than 'Vulpix' as intended.
    I feel like that might be meant to be 'young 'un', but like, I have literally never come across the word 'youngin' before, so possibly it's just one I'm not familiar with.
    Interesting. I suppose I would've thought that some of those would have died by now; birds are notably long-lived for their size, but like, falcons and stuff are like fifteen years, give or take. Possibly things are different for pokémon in this interpretation. That's cool if so! (Forgive me for getting stuck on pointless details, but these are the kind of things I'm really interested to see other people's interpretations of.)
    Not sure why 'uni' is capitalised here – I don't think it needs to be.
    This sentence could probably benefit from a comma after 'said'.
    I feel like there should probably be a comma after 'said' here.
    This question is missing a question mark, and I don't think it's the kind of question that doesn't need one, if that makes sense.

    Anyway! As I said, this is a really strong start that could go in all kinds of directions. I'll definitely be waiting eagerly for more!
     
  4. TheAlpar

    TheAlpar Journey Enthusiast

    Ohhhh now this looks interesting! This isn't a version of Team Skull I've ever seen before, especially not while appearing so competent. I'm curious to see just how much more trouble they can cause while being a solid, organized unit instead of a bunch of goons goofing around.

    Fusako is great; she's got the confidence and grit needed of someone in her position, but she's also got quite a bit of sass which makes her fun to read. She seems to know a lot of people and know exactly what to say to each one to keep things going smoothly. All the side characters and plots you've introduced were swallowed easily thanks to her, I think.

    This fic has potential; I'll be following it from now on :D
     
  5. Firaga Metagross

    Firaga Metagross Auferstanden Aus Ruinen

    Thanks for the wonderful reviews. I was a bit worried that my stuff might have been a bit too out there or whatever, so I appreciate it.

    Cutlerine

    Awww thanks. I wish I could have written "Go Home", so the feeling is mutual. Your writings are why I returned to the site (my last posts here were from 2009 IIRC), since I saw your stuff on FF.net first.

    Oh good, I'm glad it wasn't too overwhelming. My expansion of canon's pretty detailed, but I'm definitely used to explaining stuff to people out of the know, so I try to make the chunks manageable. Also good to hear you like my prose. Fiction isn't something I read or write a lot of so I'm glad it works.

    Not exactly the most fun or easiest part of fiction writing for me, so thanks for the crits.

    Her design came off to me as a less generic version of the Hoenn Lady class or something like that. A sundress and hat (the boots really stand out tho) seemed pretty reasonable.

    My interpretation is much like Game Freaks': hope the reader doesn't notice that the life cycle of Pokemon is held together with old masking tape haha. It's one of those "don't think to much about it too much or canon falls apart kinda thing" since it's not really my focus and it feels a little weird having Pokemon die and stuff.

    TheAlpar

    Glad you like it so far. Fusako's more or less the POV character so I'm glad she's interesting to follow around. I try to introduce a lot of the details of the world through her dialogue with other characters because that feels like the most organic way to introduce the world. The amount of new details will probably decrease over time, but I'm glad that none of its overwhelming. I definitely introduced a lot of named characters in the chapter because it's a good way to add ethnographic texture, but I tried really hard to make sure the names don't get too confusing.

    I appreciate the reviews and hope to see more of stuff from you two in the future as well.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018 at 7:45 PM
  6. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Welcome to the forums! It's nice to see another Alola-centric story here; we've been seeing some great ones lately, and I don't think I'll ever get tired reading about Team Skull, heh.

    And this is definitely a new take on the team! At the beginning of the story I definitely thought Fusako and her crew were police who'd been charged with investigating Team Skull, with some of them being undercover, so it was a surprise, as the chapter went on, to realize that they were actually members themselves. From the hints we've gotten so far, I get the sense that this Team Skull is still a refuge for the downtrodden, or concerned with them specifically, but clearly it's made up of more than teenage outcasts. My impression is that Fusako would have exactly zero patience for the kind of dancing we see from a lot of Skull grunts, haha, but it seems like she wears the uniform proudly. It looks like we'll be taking a close look at how Team Skull actually works and fleshing out its members in this story, which should be a lot of fun.

    It's also nice that you have a sense of the larger world going on with this story, with mentions of war in Kanto/Johto, there apparently being a mafia of some kind active in Alola as well as Team Skull, and the story's concerns so far being oriented away from the trainer sphere and more towards issues that reflect the ones in our real world: jobs, higher education, family and ethnic ties. But characters like Lillie and Guzma are still around! I'm curious to see how the typical Sun/Moon storyline does (or doesn't) interact with these elements, how similarly things will play out. Or perhaps you're going to go in a completely different direction!

    I do think it might have been better to hold off on some of the worldbuilding and character introductions, though, until you'd set up a clearer idea of who Fusako is and what her story's going to be. Most of this chapter was her walking around and interacting with various characters, who are presumably going to be important to the story. You did a nice job bringing out the different personalities of these characters in their respective scenes, and also getting some info about the world across, but there wasn't a great deal to *connect* them. Fusako just kind of happened to run into them/they approached her, and they talked. I don't have a good sense of what Fusako's actual goals are, what she might be hoping to accomplish and how this story might interact with those desires. I feel like I have a good handle on her personality, but not what makes her tick, which makes it difficult to put the people she interacts with in this chapter and what she learns in context. For example, are these people likely to help or hinder her in the long run? Might the events in Kanto have some bearing on what happens in this story?

    Obviously we don't need to learn everything about the protagonist right away, and we don't want to have it spelled out exactly how the story's going to go. At the moment I just feel like you're erring on the side of not enough of that kind of information. What I'd like to see is a little more concrete direction. Fusako obviously believes pretty strongly in Team Skull, but it isn't clear why that is, or what exactly what this Team Skull stands for. There's this strike coming up, which is going to be a huge event, but why? What does it mean for Team Skull's mission and for Fusako personally? Ultimately what I'd like is some sense of where the plot's going, the thread that's going to tie everything in this chapter together, and I'm not seeing it yet.

    One thing I noticed throughout the chapter was that you have some trouble punctuating dialogue where one sentence is followed by narration, then another piece of dialogue. You end the narration with a comma when the dialogue is one sentence that's been split into two parts by the narration (for example, "I don't know, Mom," Mariah said, "that seems really unlikely.") but when the first piece of dialogue is a complete sentence, the narration should end in a period. For example, these paragraphs:

    In each of these cases, the narration should end in a period, rather than a comma. The correct version would be:

    This happens quite frequently throughout the chapter; I just picked an example of it happening three times in a row.

    Just want to capitalize "Team Skull" here.

    I think the "wore in" here is just a typo (should just be "wore"). The wording also strikes me as a bit fancy in this sentence; "The sun's awesome might" seems like a kind of grandiose way of putting things when the sun isn't really that important to what's actually going on in the sentence.

    This is an interesting line of dialogue to me, since it could mean a lot of different things. Obviously the Team Skull we see in the games are rabble and rabble-rousing, but from what we've seen of Fusako so far she seems like possibly the least likely person on the planet to do any rabble-rousing. Presumably she's being sarcastic/teasing by saying this, but how does her part of Team Skull relate to the noisy loser side of it? Are they kind of a smokescreen for the team's real operations? Are they an unfortunate result of poor management in some other divisions? Something else? It'll be interesting to see how this version of Team Skull works as we learn more over time.

    This sentence has a misplaced modifier. "Looking up from his work" refers to the man's eyes, not the man himself, who of course is the one who's actually looking up. Fixing this would probably require fairly extensive rewording; something like, "Looking up from his work as Fusako passed, the man locked eyes with her..." or "The man looked up from his work as Fusako passed, and when his eyes met hers she stopped..."

    There were also a fair number of typos along the lines of missing words or punctuation marks, formatting errors, etc. It might be worthwhile to try another round of proofreading, or reading your work aloud to yourself as part of your editing process. Reading aloud can really help you identify clumsy or convoluted sentences, because they'll be hard to follow verbally, and also slows you down so you may have an easier time spotting typos.

    Overall, this is a promising start! You obviously have a different take on the Alola region, and I look forward to seeing how it will interact with the familiar storyline (or at least familiar characters, like Lillie). I'm not sure what kind of story this will end up being just yet, but I'm definitely interested enough to want to find out. Welcome again to the forums, and if you're looking for other stories to check out, you might enjoy Beasts and Beauties, which is very Skull-centric and focuses specifically the relationship between Lusamine and Guzma. Feel free to check out the fanfic forum Discord if you want to hang out with some of the other writers on the forum, and the yearly fanfic contest has also been announced if you're interested in a little competition!

    Best of luck with your writing. I look forward to seeing how this story unfolds.
     

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