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uA's "Different Eyes" [Chapter Five]

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by unrepentantAuthor, Apr 18, 2018.

  1. unrepentantAuthor

    unrepentantAuthor A cat who writes stories

    @AmericanPi, thanks for reviewing! It's always nice to see a new icon on the thread.

    DE is certainly a pokémorph fic in the making, but I want it to stand entirely independent from other stories about hybrids. I'm glad you didn't need to be a hybrid fic reader to get invested. And hey, I'm a sucker for xenofiction and the Warriors series too!

    I've now updated the Prelude to have a narrative framing device, I hope this is an improvement to the issue you described.

    I'm pretty proud of pokésign, if I'm honest. It'll show up plenty more as the story continues, what with it being a compromise between common body languages and vocalisations, and actual human signing. Voltorb and other pokémon with little bodily expressiveness genuinely have great trouble making themselves understood, and there's no real way to handle that problem unfortunately.

    Thanks for your encouraging comments about the setting and narrative! I understand perfectly how difficult it is to commit to longer chapterfics, but I hope that I can entice you to return to DE and maintain your interest once your capacity for reading is different. I assure you, the xenofiction element will stick around! Cheers.

    -

    @Marika_CZ, thanks as always for being a reliable reviewer, I truly appreciate it. I honestly feel like the pacing issue you've discussed is an inherent downside of the way in which I've approached the early story. I think that the edits I've made to Chapter Four are the best possible compromise at this time, and I will simply have to accept that the pacing at this point is naturally imperfect. You seem to find the edited version a real improvement, so that's reassuring!

    Your analysis of Salem's capacity for broad abstract thought is entirely on the ball. She is only an especially smart cat, and she simply cannot conceive of the nuanced implications of human behaviour. However, you used her failure to model Laura's grief and confusion and therefore to empathise with her as your chief example of 'naivety/immaturity'. Note that Salem's chief motivator in this context is fear of being left unstimulated for months on end having established no relationships besides that with Laura. She is already demonstrating signs of animal stereotypy in the first chapter, and the severity of this problem combined with her inability to make herself understood is the archetypal example of inadequate care provision by a human to a pokémon. Given Salem has such trouble communicating, I think it's a perfectly adult choice to leave, and subsequently not to cooperate with Jamie after he broke his first promise to her like it was nothing without even considering that she might have been abused. You also called Laura her 'owner'. That is legally true, but I've done my best to indicate that Salem is a creature with greater sapience and more needs than a real cat, and the idea that she is property without the right to leave is an idea I wish to discredit.

    I've implemented several edits in ch4, in part based on your suggestions, and I hope you noticed those in your second reading! Thanks so much for mentioning your favourite lines and for your well-wishing. I will strive forward and have the next chapter up shortly, despite my difficult circumstances offline right now. Cheers, WK, hope to hear from you next time as usual!
     
  2. unrepentantAuthor

    unrepentantAuthor A cat who writes stories

    Well, that was fast! Hope you all enjoy this relatively fast update. For various personal reasons, chiefly that I am moving house in the near future, updates may be a bit wobbly for a while. I'll still do my very best to keep the chapters coming, though. This chapter is a special one, as you might anticipate, so it gets some gorgeous illustrative art by the excellent @canisaries. Thanks, mate, you're a legend.

    Five
    Second Nascence

    [​IMG]


    It felt like dying.

    She couldn’t breathe. There was no air. Her lungs strained — no air. She choked and gagged on something, something stuck in her throat. Her lungs strained. Her chest heaved. Nothing.

    There was no air. Yet she did not die.

    She tried to move, to clutch at her throat. Her forelegs were so tired she could hardly feel them. Her limbs moved weakly, so weakly, as if through water. There was water, she was in water. Submerged. She was underwater!

    She tried to flail, to swim, but her limbs protested every command. Her eyes were shut; she could be asleep. No. She was not asleep. She opened her eyes, it stung, it hurt, but there — there was the room, through the faint glass and the green water and the dim light.

    She was in the tank.

    She kept forgetting she was in the tank.

    Each time Salem woke from sleep — if it was sleep at all, for her dreams felt like memories and when she woke it felt like a dream — it got a little easier to remember she was in the tank. It began with choking, then struggling, then opening her eyes. She always realised where she was when she saw the ward, made green in hue by the liquid in the tank. She was looking down at the room as if from a height, so she knew that she could not be standing on the floor. She must be suspended in the tank, like always.

    This time she was just barely lucid enough to notice an alien intrusion in her flesh. A tube from above pierced her chest. Another pierced her neck. More on either side of her head connected to the mask over her mouth. There could be more where she couldn’t see. She was suspended by them, held in place by them, held in this half-dream, half-death. She pawed weakly at one of the cables and felt it tug inside her. She would never have the strength to remove it. Maybe that was for the best. Maybe the cables were remaking her.

    She hadn’t expected to wake at all while she was being remade. This wasn’t right. Something could be wrong with the tank, with the transformation. Something could be wrong with her. This was wrong. But thinking about it got harder and harder, and soon she fell back into the darkness once again.

    Salem drifted in and out of unconsciousness, her eyes never open for long, her mind never able to cling to more than a droplet or two of memory from her dreams or her last days as herself. She dreamed of human faces and her own, of watching herself from behind and seeing her body standing on two legs; of needles; of being held; of being held tightly, too tightly; of blood and hunger and cold. Of fighting. Of losing.

    When she woke to the room, she would look around for someone she knew. A couple times, she thought she could perceive Alisha, as a momentary hazy glimpse past the water and the tank, or as a faint familiar scent. But that was surely an illusion. She could smell nothing but the dead scent of rubber, the smell of the mask fitted to her muzzle. Still, she kept looking for Alisha’s face past the tank glass.

    Her reality was fleeting. Her eyes lied to her. Now she was in the bed from before, but a different room. There were curtains around her. Different containers feeding fluids into her body. Different items applied to to her body. Different covers over her body. She understood none of it. Now she was in the tank again, and there were wires in her skin that felt cold, the way her pads felt on icy pavement. More numb than truly cold. The wires went up overhead and she could vaguely make out glass canisters of liquid fixed to the top of the tank.

    She was changing. It was hard to perceive, to concentrate, but she could tell. It was too clear even through the clouds in her mind. She could feel her body aching, she could see it stretching out below her, longer than could be true. She could feel sensations unfamiliar and strange — her tongue resting differently in her mouth, impossible to feel comfortable with. Different muscles twitching; different extremities itching. Even her heart was different. The beat against her ribs was slow and powerful, like the heavy thumping of human footsteps. A human heartbeat. She could hear her heartbeat in her head, slower than could be right. She’d known she would change, but she’d thought of documentaries, of evolution in normal pokémon, of instant growth and light. This wasn’t evolution. It was slow, human change. Like ageing. Like the growth of trees.

    Once, she woke up and tried to stretch, and she waved her paw in front of her face as she did. Her foreleg — her arm, it would be her arm — burned as she held her paw up, but she held it there all the same, to see the way her digits were lengthening. She tried to flex them, and they cramped up, making her whimper — a whimper that sounded strangely in her head, a whimper that felt odd as it formed in her throat. It never arrived at her ears past the mask and the fluid, instead she heard it from inside her own skull.

    Still she saw her paws nonetheless; pads pulled apart from each other and joints stretched out too far. They were neither paws nor hands now. They were ugly, useless, halfway things. Too stubby and crude to grasp with, but elongated enough that they would be hard to walk on. She imagined her paws being stuck like this; useless for all but the most crude pokésign. She dared not move them too much. It might stop them growing.

    She tried to tell how long she’d been this way. Days? Moons? Seasons? Hard to guess — impossible to know. There were only human lights — no windows, no way to measure the suns and moons. As her ordeal went on, she tried to track time by remembering details: what level the fluid canisters were at, how many plasters she wore on her arm and where, how far below her body her hind-paws — her feet — were. She tried to count how many times these details changed, and always lost cost after three or four.

    It never got easier to focus, to stay awake, or to control her body, but it did get easier to think. Not easy, but possible to do without her thoughts bleeding out of her head. The drowsiness was less raw, more like an irritating scab than a fresh cut. First, it was just that her thoughts were clearer. Then, she could recall details more readily. At last, she was certain, the drip that fed into her arm had been changed five times since she started counting, half as many times as the plaster where the tube that bit her arm had been changed. She was certain too that she’d never recalled so many distinct moments at once. It was as if she’d been half asleep her entire life, and only now was she truly lucid.

    Remembering several things at once and comparing them was thrilling enough, even through the continual panic of not breathing, not standing, not breathing. Even had she been breathing, it would have been breathtaking to think about something someone had said and at the same time consider why or how they had said it. At least, without the memory streaming out of her brain like water off her paw. More so to be able to think about both how she had felt, and why she felt that way. The difference between remembering and understanding… It was the difference between merely drinking water, and actually tasting it as you drank. For the first time, she could taste her thoughts. For the first time, she could clearly ask herself, “did I have to leave Laura? Was that the right thing to do? What if I hadn’t done it?” That was not thrilling. It was terrifying. It was miserable.

    She could not escape the dark panic that came with those thoughts while conscious. So, she sought sleep again, and despite the cold bruise flowering in her chest, and the burning of her skin and eyes, she found it. With sleep came an escape from these new and jagged thoughts. Her dreams changed too. Now she dreamed of speaking English to Alisha, of full and plentiful sentences spilling out of her mouth like water from a tap, on and off at will. She couldn’t make sense of what she was saying, though, and when she tried to pay attention to the way her mouth and tongue were moving to produce the words, the dream wavered and she was pulled out of it. She stopped trying to listen to her own voice, and willed the dream to continue. So long as she did not concentrate, she kept speaking. She would speak forever.

    She dreamed of speaking to Laura, but the words were trapped in her throat, and she choked on them, unable to make a sound. She dreamed of speaking to Mienshao, to the glameow tom, to the throh and the chatot. Of saying something to Church or another morph. These were good dreams. A zoroark hybrid, red mouth grinning and full of teeth, replied to her, saying “well, soft cat, Salem, good well, all and happy.” The words swam in her ears, meaningless but good, so good, and so comforting.

    When she woke next, it was dimly lit in the ward, and a torrent of thoughts hit her with “is my body any different today” and “where’s alisha is she here” and “jamie lied to me why would he do that” and “i’m going to live like this for the rest of my life” and “can i still become a liepard” and “i have never been this tired.” Not just feelings or desires or half-thoughts, but full, clear thoughts. A half dozen at once. Now a dozen. Painful and scary and beautiful. She had never spoken a word of English and yet somehow she could hear her own voice in her own head, sounding out her thoughts.

    The green-soaked shadow of a human moved past the tank, unseeing.

    Her body ached in every possible place: in her stomach and her limbs and her head and her pads and her eyes. Even her fur seemed to be hurting. Once she’d paid attention to the cacophony of hurt, the blunt pain behind her eyes was the worst of them. Still, she made herself lift her forepaw in front of her face, just to examine it one more time, to examine it as was now her habit whenever she was awake.

    Five distinct digits, long and dexterous and complete. A hand. A more or less human hand — albeit still covered in dark fur, still with firm pads, and still tipped with curved retractable claws. A hand all the same. One that could do everything a human hand could. A hand that could do anything at all.

    She curled her fingers into a fist, and squeezed. Her claws extended, and dug into her palm, but it felt more wonderful than painful. Tiny swirls of dark blood emptied from the punctures she’d left. She tried to flatten out her hand, then to waggle her fingers individually. The experimental flexing ached awfully, but the satisfaction overwhelmed the discomfort. Nothing had ever been so satisfying. Not a meal, not a warm bed, not a victory. This was the only moment that mattered.

    These were her hands. Her hands. Hers.

    Salem brought her other hand above her head, and the sudden effort made her pass out again. When she came to, the lighting was no different and she was still alone. She attempted a ginger, awkward stretch, and though her body complained in a chorus of aching bones and sore muscles, she felt faintly better for it. Simply floating where she was and listening to her body did not tell her much about the changes she’d endured. All that she could be sure of besides the hands was her new size and proportions. Her size! She filled the tank. She could never fit on a pillow now. Or fit into cupboards. Or be held tight. But perhaps she could do other things. Maybe even better things.

    Salem waggled her hind-paws in the same way as her hands, and to her vague surprise, they felt much the same as they always had. She tried flicking her tail, and found that it was still very much there, hanging weightlessly in the tank fluid. That was a relief. It would have been difficult to accept the loss of her tail. At least her limbs still belonged to her.

    Her investigation continued, and for the first time it made sense why Laura had always made lists of things. She checked off items on an imaginary list as she tested each body part. She began to explore with her hands, starting with her face. There was fur, still, but the shape of her head was altered. Oh, she still had the same nose, it seemed, and she discovered her ears where they’d always been, but the bones… the structure of her skull was new. New brain, new head to keep it in.

    A new brain. She would think differently now. Be different. A different person. That could mean anything. Now her new brain was screaming at her with thoughts and memories and sensory input and fear and pain and tiredness and everything, everything, everything all at once without letting up. She tried to gasp, and the gasp died in her chest. She couldn’t bear to think about her own thoughts, not yet. Not now.

    She couldn’t gasp, not yet. The tube that breathed for her also muted her. But gasping reminded her — she had been promised a voice. Even with her tongue pressed down by the tube, she could move it as if she were trying to speak. She put a hand to her throat and tried to feel it vibrate as she mimicked human noises in the complete silence of the tank. She heard her own hums and whines in her skull, like before, and she ached with yearning even as her throat ached with effort.

    Every part of her body that she touched ached in response, from her neck to her abdomen. Her gut churned when she pressed into it. Her muscles cramped as she touched them. She felt as tender as if her entire body was nothing but a person-shaped wound. But the important part wasn’t feeling like one enormous wound. It was being shaped like a person.

    Even in pain and exhaustion as she was, she wanted to yowl joyously, to run and jump and climb, to roll about and rumble thunderously. The weariness rose to match her joy, and she felt so tired that it hurt. The emotions, the mental fog, the bodily pains, all of it was too much. This was too much, and she should be dreaming. She could still be dreaming even now, but for her newfound and unstoppable unyielding unrelenting ability to think and perceive and remember all at once. Her eyes hurt from an unfamiliar pressure and her face contorted involuntarily as for the first time in her life, she managed to cry.

    She knew what crying was, of course. Laura had sometimes sobbed into Salem’s flank after difficult days, but she had never understood it. She understood it now, her chest heaving and her arms closing over on herself as tears welled up in her eyes and dissipated instantly into the hazy green liquid of the morphing tank. Her sobs were silent, but each one hit her bruised frame like a tackle blow. She let them happen, some part of her relishing the new and entirely human experience even as it hurt her.

    Eventually, she passed whatever threshold she had for endurance and passed into sleep once again.

    There were no more conscious moments in which to think and feel. Only a fleeting mist of faint and tiny memories.

    Green shadows outside the tank.

    The roar of draining liquid.

    “Looking good, no problems here.”

    Gravity, absent too long and unwelcome to return.

    “There we go. It’s okay. It’s okay, kitten.”

    Her lungs alive once more as they should be.

    “Salem? Salem, can you hear me?”

    Her tongue finally feeling at ease in her mouth.

    “I hear you.”
     
  3. Marika_CZ

    Marika_CZ Well-Known Member

    Uh, so this review is going to be tough. This is no doubt due to being unusual chapter compared to what we had before.

    Basically all my feelings can be summarized by two points, one positive and one negative:

    The good: There is a beautiful, detailed description of what happens in the head of a Pokémon undergoing this fantastical change (metamorhposis would be probably a better term). It makes the whole deal more realistic and shows us that the author takes this seriously. We get details for both physical and psychical changes to reinforce the notion Salem is becoming a completely new person. Great job on that one uA!

    The bad: That is all there is. From beginning to the end, it is one long very complex description.
    I will be honest, my mind constatly kept slipping after certain point, I couldn't focus. Usually in DE we get these philosophical questions and descriptions mixed with fun dialogue (Salem/Laura, Salem/Jamie, Salem/Alisha) and bits of worldbuilding (Laura's realistic take on Pokémon training in this world; Pokémon shelters and Pokémon living in wild realistically).
    In this chapter we get only descriptions of feelings and a bit of philosophy. The other two secret indgredients of DE are missing.
    I see this as a problem, but I also see why it was done. The morphing process is too big of a deal to just skip or to be shortened.

    After thinking about it, here are my two suggestions which might help:
    (I don't think trimming would do Ch5 a service so naturally both of these will end up extending the chapter if you go for it. Also, please take them with a pinch of salt. I honestly don't think any of them ideal to be frank, I just think they may help spice the chapter up a bit)

    1. This chapter could benefit from POV switch. Salem cannot provide fun dialogue for obvious reasons, but I could totally see Alisha having a conversation with other employees/scientists, the hybrids (maybe Church could return?) as she is clearly overseeing Salem's case. Salem's feelings could be interrupted in one or two points to give us Alisha (she can provide what Salem can't right now - dialogue and worldbuilding both).
    The downside is, your story is clearly meant to be told from Salem's POV only and this ould break the formula.

    2. If we insist on Salem's POV, this could be resolved by having her have one or two dreams (or nighmares) where you could have plenty of dialogue. To avoid making such a new section a complete filler, the dreams should foreshadow future events, or you could flesh out some important information about Zoroark hybrid / Church / Alisha / Jamie / Laura - or anyone else. Something Salem only got subconsciously but didn't fully realize, something that might come into play in future chapters.

    To summarize: I liked how you dealt with morphing process, but I also think the chapter needs something more.
    Thanks for the read and good luck with next chapters! :)
     
    unrepentantAuthor likes this.
  4. Chibi Pika

    Chibi Pika Stay positive

    Ahh, so many fun details when Salem gets to the lab and struggles to process everything happening around her. I love the fact that she invents a sign for hybird because that makes it easier to think about (that's one of the interesting things about language, that having the vocabulary to talk about something actually actually makes it easier to think about those concepts as well!) It was really interesting to meet Church as well. I couldn't help getting the feeling that he's really old, and has been a hybrid for quite some time, which means these experiments have been going on for a long time.

    The documentation on the process and its development really does make it seem like this is all being done all in good faith, for the betterment of science. Usually with these kinds of organizations, there's some kind of sinister ulterior motive lurking underneath, but there doesn't seem to be one (yet.) I'll still be keeping my eyes out though.

    And wow, that transformation chapter was absolutely fascinating. I can kinda see what Marika is saying about it feeling incomplete by only being the transformation, but that said, it was a damn good description with loads of sensory detail that you don't usually see. Especially regarding the changes made to the brain and how that affected Salem's thoughts. Amazing stuff, keep it up!

    ~Chibi~
     
    unrepentantAuthor likes this.
  5. unrepentantAuthor

    unrepentantAuthor A cat who writes stories

    Thank you for an uplifting review, @Chibi Pika! I very much appreciate the praise.

    If you liked that, hopefully you'll enjoy more of the communication-themed content ahead!

    Good, he's supposed to give that impression. However, he was already ageing when he was hybridised, so it shouldn't indicate that the experiments started more than a couple decades ago.

    It's useful to me to hear from people about their impressions of Perihelion. I wanted to subvert the 'sinister lab report' trope somewhat while not pressuring the reader to believe that Perihelion are entirely noble. Hopefully I'm striking the right balance.

    Thank you so much! I'm delighted that people are enjoying this entry.

    More to come soon, I hope — see you next chapter!
     
  6. canisaries

    canisaries sometimes i get a deadache, yeah

    Crossposting reviews from Bulbs!

    Prologue

    This whole opening is a pretty unique way to start off a story. I do like it a lot when prologues are their own thing rather than just a short Chapter Zero.

    Man yokai makes so much sense. A one-eyed umbrella hopping around is basically a pokémon in all but name, anyway.


    iunno bud imma say it's like two and a halfth at best


    If we're going with a "logo, but not necessarily commercial" type of definition for symbol, I can certainly buy this as being the case for the pokémon world. The line between "symbol" and "drawing" is otherwise somewhat blurred, though - stretching the definition of symbol, we could include something like stick figures or smiley faces, that the human brain can recognize without specific teaching, and no image can really be more widely recognized than that. (Unless we consider recognition from non-human lifeforms as well, and find something primal we have in common. Perhaps an eye? Butterflies sure take advantage of that.)

    But either way: in real life, the most recognized symbol is said to be the cross, and Christianity certainly isn't as prevalent in the pokéworld as it is in ours, so something as widely utilized as pokéballs tend to be makes sense to take the number one spot. After all, despite many headcanons, you barely see the wheel of Arceus anywhere.

    I'm a bit unclear on what with no likeness between our DNA exactly means here. Is this just hyperbolic talk for "humans and pokémon can't interbreed naturally", or is this actually meant to be taken more literally, as in, pokémon have a completely different ancestor from all eukaryotes? I mean, "no likeness" already has to be some degree of false, as the fact that both are DNA means they're both deoxyribonucleic acid, which is the case for all (currently known) living things (and nature's malware, viruses). Sorry, I'm a nerd. But I know you are too. ;p

    Man Mewtwo is such bad PR for this whole concept.

    I think we missed something important here? Why would fossilized DNA be used of all things, when it's pretty rare to come by and practically always incomplete? Are they using the genes of some missing link? I kinda feel like if the guy has time to explain what pokémon are, he could give a minor refresher on whatever concept is being utilized here.

    As the following paragraph focuses on the process of morphing a specimen during its lifespan, I'm considering that this was just a case of an ill-fitting descriptor and you meant something like "extracted".

    Or you took the extra step and made the business guy purposefully use bullshit terminology, because that happens far too often.

    So I take it that you took the Pokédex entries for Alakazam and the like and threw them in the trash? Good. That's where most entries belong.

    General Comments

    Right, so I didn't expect to really go head over heels a introduction of morphing, as you know I'm a bit iffy on some related concepts - and I didn't, but I certainly didn't dislike it as the worst case may have been. A great quality of this prologue is its compactness. The concept of morphing is explained right out the gate, and already a kind of image for the world is established. (Which seems to be a mix of the real one and the pokémon one, with animals and real life locations present?) Also foreshadowed is the general public's rejection of the concept of morphing, something which no doubt the protagonist will later on have to deal with.

    There's something that is kind of questionable, and that's the fact that this really doesn't sound convincing from a business standpoint. I'm guessing they're ultimately in it for the profit, given drinking wine during a presentation isn't considered very acceptable behavior in scientific circles (or they lied to me at uni). I do suppose that this is only an excerpt of the speech, but it appears to be the start, and the benefits of a proposal should be brought forth as soon as possible.

    In the excerpt, really the only reasoning for this being done is "because we can". It's said that pokémon would love it, but it doesn't currently look like pokémon would own money. I don't know, I just never got the "because science" approach. Maybe it just doesn't appeal to me personally.

    Anyway, I'm mostly excited to get to read about Salem next and get a more grass-roots-level viewpoint. I don't know when exactly I'll read on, but I definitely will.

    Chapter 1

    Man this chapter is really that crying cat image all the way. That's not a bad thing, that's one of my favorite images.

    "meeoooww open door human oh you opened it well i changed my mind i want to stay outside" hmm i wonder why those humans won't open those doors

    [​IMG]

    The content of these sentences are technically different, but they kind of feel the same, as if they kind of repeated things the others already implied. To fix this, I think they'd need rephrasing to highlight the differences or simply condensation.

    Condensation, I feel, is something this chapter could benefit from in general. The balance between giving things enough emphasis and keeping things concise is a tricky one, and while this is in no way a big offender, I feel like it could be shifted just a liiittle bit to the "less is more" side. The dialogue, though, I believe is fine in this regard, as it doesn't go on for too long and it's meant to come across as Laura trying to explain something to Salem that the feline can't understand, anyway.

    My knowledge of English punctuation says there should be a comma after the "said", but I don't know if there are regional differences.

    General Comments

    As I've said before, I love the idea and execution of pokémon signing. I even remember the exact gif you showed as basis for the food signing thing. I do wonder about how many gestures involve waving one's foreleg, though, it seems like those could get mixed up. I guess it's really up to the pokémon to master the movement or the human to learn their mon's "dialect".

    I also like the idea of Salem being interested in anthropology. It does make it a bit difficult to form an understanding of Salem's intellect at this point, though. I think what would help is some description of concrete mental images (like "Grug throw rock at bird, Grug eat well that night" but you know, not as terrible), as those are very valuable in getting across someone's way of thinking and how they perceive more abstract concepts. Even for more intelligent beings - this is why graphs and allegories exist.

    Speaking of understanding, I was left a bit in the dark on how Salem knew that much about shelters when the narration kind of makes it seem like she hasn't been to one before. If she learned this through speech alone, she had trouble understanding how important Laura's school was, but was that just because Laura couldn't explain it to her properly?

    The description in this chapter felt sort of lacking, but it's very probably due to the fact that the majority is only a memory rather than happening in real time.

    No typos or clunky sentences spotted, so prose is squeaky clean, no problemos there.

    One last thing is that Salem just up and leaving didn't seem to make that much sense. I feel like it could make sense, but the narration doesn't put enough emphasis on how insulted(?) Salem felt. It says she didn't herself know why she never went back, but for even a cat I feel like there is some other answer to "why should I not go back" than "because no". If it's intended to be a mystery, you could have it established that there is a reason, but just not give it yet - rather than having the character who would probably have the best idea on how they feel not know how they feel. Or in general... I'm not sure if having a main character motivation as a mystery is a good thing to have at a point where we don't yet really know much of the character otherwise.

    Alright, so, this review turned out kind of critical... hope it was the constructive kind, at least. But I feel like the lack of positive feedback is on my side, since as I read this, I realize that this isn't really a genre or type of story I'm personally interested in. I'm hoping that the future chapters will engage me better as we'll get more than just boardroom discussions or flashbacks (although this whole thing is technically a flashback, huh) and it'll rise past my genre threshold. Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that so far this seems like a good story but one that kind of isn't for me. For people interested in this type of fiction, I think it's great.

    Well, see ya in my next reply - or well, probably in chat, lol.
     
    unrepentantAuthor likes this.

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