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Title

unrepentantAuthor

A cat that writes stories.
Location
UK
Pronouns
they/them/their
Partner
purrloin-salem

1996, Kanto: a clone of Mew is created and named "Mewtwo". Its imperfect genetic code is completed using human DNA.
2020, Galar: pokémon are going missing, explorers are driven out of the wilds, and a green tech company is hiring experts in gene-splicing.

A story about pokémorphs, genetic engineering, identity, language, secrets, friendship, freedom, and a cat who becomes a person.

DE cover small.jpg

Cover art by @canisaries.
Contains trauma, fantasy violence, and profanity.
 
Prologue — Conception

unrepentantAuthor

A cat that writes stories.
Location
UK
Pronouns
they/them/their
Partner
purrloin-salem

Prologue

Conception


The first pokémon-human hybrid was floating in a tank full of life-nourishing fluids, silent and still. Its skin was a muted violet, almost white. Its bulbous, purple tail was easily as long as the creature was tall. Through the amber liquid and dim lighting, it was a dreamlike thing to behold. Perhaps it was having dreams of its own, asleep in its tiny world.

Dr. Fuji reached out to his creation and placed a hand on the tank glass. He willed it to open its eyes and reach out to him, to speak to him, to justify its existence to him.

A horrible thought; it would owe him nothing if it lived.

If it lived, perhaps it would be the first of many pokémon-human hybrids. Capable of sophisticated cognition — endowed with fantastic elemental powers.

…If it lived.

“No choice,” he murmured to himself. He had been given no choice but to give life to this creature, or at least that’s what he had believed all this time.

At what point did a threshold in science become inevitable, however terrible it seemed? When it was first conceived of? When it was no longer theoretical, but a practical possibility? Perhaps only once it became an irreversible reality, already in motion, and impossible to stop.

There was the truth: this had been inevitable only so long as he’d remained committed to it. He could have turned back at any time, right up until the moment of genesis, but instead he had told himself, over and over, that he’d had no freedom to do otherwise.

If there had been a single moment he could identify and say “Yes, there, that’s when it became destiny,” it was when he’d first said those words —

“I suppose I have no choice.”

X​

June 1996

Cinnabar Island, Kantō


A black, dual-rotor heliplane cruised over choppy ocean waves and under a clear sky.

It was bound for an island off the Japanese coast, too far out at sea for the mainland to be visible. This was Izu Ōshima, known as Cinnabar Island to tourists and to trainers on the League Circuit. The presence of human structures was visible in a white-grey mottling against the green of the island’s forests. Merely a small town, clinging to the coast. The aircraft passed over it and cruised for a few miles inland, the forests soon giving way to the red-brown tones of the central volcanic mountain. At its foot was a building complex, squat and angular. A tower at its corner rose well above the tree-line to support a modest landing pad.

The aircraft drew close and made its descent.

A man stood on the platform, his wild hair swept back and lab coat blown about by the airflow from the heliplane. He clutched his glasses to his face and waited for the whirling rotor blades to come to a standstill. When at last they did, another man in a dark suit stepped down from the heliplane, a feline pokémon at his side, and not a hair out of place on either.

The geneticist bent at the waist and waited for the crime-lord to speak.

He was silent for a long moment as his benefactor adjusted his jacket and tie. He knew well that this was a powerful man — someone who could afford to keep others waiting, and would naturally take issue with impatience. It would be unwise to give offence by speaking first.

“Ah, you’re the one called Fuji, yes?”

Doctor Fuji,” he replied, straightening up. “Sir,” he quickly added.

Giovanni did not bow in return. The pause before he replied made Fuji’s breath catch in his chest.

“Of course,” he said at last. Giovanni’s smile was wide, but it never reached his eyes. “Thank you for your time, Doctor Fuji.”

Fuji’s breath returned. Perhaps that ‘sir’ at the last moment had saved him. He’d like to think it was his own value to Giovanni as a scientist, but that would be flattering himself. Now that the sample had been obtained and the groundwork done, Fuji was becoming ever more replaceable as an asset.

“Naturally,” he said. “You are financing the project, after all. Your man on the radio didn’t mention the nature of your visit?”

Giovanni merely raised an eyebrow and walked past him, ignoring the implicit question.

When he moved, it was unhurried and confident. This was surely a man accustomed to commanding the patience and attention of anyone in his line of sight. Fuji was no scholar of psychology, but he found himself analysing his sponsor’s intimidating persona even while hurrying past the man to open the door for him.

His face was inexpressive in the tense manner of a person who kept their thoughts behind a mask. He was in total control of himself. The pokémon was a persian, judging by the gem set in its forehead — a pedigree, no doubt — and it followed at his heel without a sound or a sideways glance. It was strictly trained. Despite the Italian name he used, Giovanni’s accent, facial features and mannerisms all suggested a Kantō heritage. It was obviously a pseudonym for a man with secrets worth hiding, but he must have had considerable arrogance to disguise the truth with such an obviously fake identity.

At least, that was Fuji’s assessment. Perhaps he was wrong, and there was an honourable, philosophical man under all that presence and menace.

Giovanni didn’t look at him once as they made their way into the facility.

X​

Fuji’s benefactor was unconcerned with the wider facility. Perhaps he really was inspecting each room they passed and judging what he saw against his private expectations, but he gave no indication of his approval. He made no comments of his own, but prompted Fuji to explain what each team had accomplished.

He lingered longest in the psy-assessment area; his cold eyes took in every detail of the psychic pokémon performing their telekinetic tasks under the observation of Fuji’s colleagues, armed with clipboards and brain-shielding circlets. So too did he pass his piercing gaze over the rest of the complex, in all its drab, metallic coldness. Narrow corridors, glass partitions, harsh white strip lighting. Evidently, it all passed muster.

He spoke little, except to prompt Fuji to continue talking about the work, and various tangents. To Fuji’s surprise, Giovanni seemed to take a genuine — if terse — interest in the research supporting the project.

“I read your report on the South American expedition,” he said, as they passed the cafeteria, cordially enough. No time for a light lunch, it would seem. The man was probably accustomed to gourmet fare in any case.

“I’m glad to hear it, sir.”

“This genetic sample of yours,” continued Giovanni. “It came from an authentic mew fossil, isn’t that so?”

Fuji willed his heart rate to remain steady. This man had no reason to suspect any deception in the report.

“Indeed. I — that is, we — believe it to be the fossilised eyelash of an ancient mew. One worshipped by a now-extinct culture several centuries ago.”

“Intriguing. It is peculiar that a preserved genetic sample of such great significance should come from something so insignificant. So easily overlooked. Just think how easily such a fragile thing could have been lost forever.”

Giovanni’s gaze seemed to tug on the secrets in Fuji’s heart, but he returned it evenly.

“I quite agree, sir. Although as I did mention in my report, it’s not a fully intact sample. We will have to fill in the gaps with appropriate genes from other species — alakazam, for example, given their natural proficiency with psychic power.”

“I am aware of this necessity,” came the reply. “It is regarding this matter that I have come here. I intend to ensure that the clone you produce for me is not diminished, but enhanced, by the modifications made to its genes.”

“I see.”

Naturally, someone like Giovanni would see an incomplete genetic code as an opportunity for improvement, rather than a setback to accept.

Fuji prayed that his deception had not been a mistake. Oh, Mew. Perhaps you were wrong to trust me with your eyelash after all.

X​

Giovanni almost looked hungry as he stared at the incubation tanks.

“Your report mentioned you were already producing test subjects. Why are these empty?”

Fuji gestured to the engraved stone tablet depicting the ancient mew.

“Pokémon are strange beings, Mr. Giovanni. Their bodies do not behave as ours do, and so they have long been called magical beasts, fae, dæmons, and yokai. Mew’s genetic code is stranger still, unlike that of any pokémon yet studied. It would seem that myths of its ability to transform into other pokémon have some truth to them. Whenever we attempt to reproduce it in a fully intact state, the subject becomes…”

He trailed off. The cultural reluctance to name uncomfortable things was strong even for him, a scientist with colleagues from many nations.

Fuji walked over to the far end of the cloning bay, where the anomalous containment unit was located.

“The partial copy we have available is unstable when cloned, and, well… you can see for yourself what the results are of creating life from unmodified mew DNA.”

He flicked the light switch, and the lighting overhead came on strip by strip, in flickering bursts.

The vivaria they illuminated contained the subjects he’d mentioned in his reports. These creatures had no official name, given that their existence remained secret. There ought to be a name for them, he thought. They were almost genetically identical to mew and therefore they theoretically weren’t a separate species. Yet one could not possibly call them ‘mew’ in all good sense.

Each vivarium was a box with glass panels, housing one or more shapeless, pinkish masses. They looked almost gelatinous, each one’s epidermis gleaming a little in the artificial light. Their movement was somewhat like that of a mundane snail, or a slugma: they stretched out their amorphous bodies and then pulled their mass forwards using the extended part. Their bodies were almost featureless, except for their odd little faces: beady black eyes and a darker line, like a seam, beneath them.

As they both watched the creatures, one of them transformed into a copy of its own water bowl. Another, into a stone.

Giovanni’s face was tense and his eyes wide, but Fuji thought he could see a hint of a smile too.

“Have you found a use for them?”

“Not yet, sir. They are poor learners, and do not perform well in many tests. They only manifest psychic abilities when they take the form of psychic pokémon, and they only match the abilities of the copied individual. Temporarily at that. Still, they are intriguing. The staff have taken to calling them, among other things, ‘metamon’, ‘omnimorph’, and ‘ditto’ -”

Ditto? That’s not a Japanese word.”

“It’s English, sir. It means ‘that which has been said before.’ I confess I quite like that one.”

“You are right to call them intriguing. Keep monitoring them, but use an intern or some other insignificant person. I want you and your useful colleagues to remain focused on the main project until its completion, no distractions.”

“Sir, I must-”

“And you may pursue your personal goal as well. I am a generous enough man to permit that. How is she?”

There was the slightest flicker of empathy in Giovanni’s face for a half-second.

“Much the same, sir. I remain hopeful.”

“And your wife?”

Fuji gave a sigh. Felt a tug at his heart.

“She left her ring with her last letter. That was some weeks ago, now. It’s no great surprise; I did miss the funeral after all.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

An automatic response, given with little sincerity.

“Thank you, sir. It only gives me more reason to complete my work to the best of my ability. I am now living in this facility full time, at least.”

“Well. Good luck. May you meet with success in the due course of time, and have your daughter back once more. Just don’t let it interfere with the project. Remember, I’m not in the business of human cloning.”

“Of course. On my pride as a scientist, I will strive to succeed.”

“Very good.”

X​

“Enhancements, sir?”

“Anything to make this creation the most powerful pokémon to ever exist,” said Giovanni, his eyes fixed on a vision that did not include the scientist in front of him. “The most powerful tool. A uniquely dangerous weapon.”

Fuji considered his words carefully while Giovanni’s full attention was on the statistics, readings and projections arrayed on the table between them. He’d chosen the material carefully to show the competence and potential of his team, while also promising as little as possible in practical results. So far it seemed to hold up to scrutiny.

He spoke with some hesitation still in his voice. “If mew is, ah, truly the most powerful psychic pokémon to ever exist, then its genes are— are already the pinnacle of psychic power. If we can find a way to… to stabilise the DNA and produce a viable specimen, then that would be a great enough achievement to begin with. Ah, one might say.”

“I will determine what achievements are sufficient for my objectives,” replied Giovanni, without looking up.

Fuji’s whole body was exhausted from the tension. How much more of this before he was left to his work?

“Of course, sir. I didn’t mean to presume. What, then, would be sufficient?”

“Psychic power is only one of the many possible assets this being could have,” said Giovanni. “I also require intelligence, aggression, loyalty. The ability to use tools. Communication. Independent strategy. An intimidating physical form. Can you alter the temperament of the clone and so on to achieve these things, but without compromising its power?”

“It’s possible, although it will require guesswork. Trial and error. Not to mention a solution to the instability concern.”

“As it happens, I’ve received a most interesting proposition from one of your colleagues. Dr. Katsura, was it? Interesting man. He proposes splicing the sample with human DNA. Are you at all familiar with this idea?”

Katsura. Of course. The accursed fool.

“He ran the idea by me, yes. I understand the broad underpinnings, although gene-splicing is his specialism, not mine.”

Giovanni’s raised eyebrow told him to go on.

Fuji cleared his throat. “Ah, well… in the metaphorical tree of life, animals — including humans, of course — and pokémon are considered two different ‘domains’ of life, if not a different tree of life altogether. This is for good reason: we appear to share no common ancestor, even in the primordial world of billions of years ago. And yet we are both complex multicellular life forms, with DNA. DNA that could theoretically be spliced regardless of our many differences.”

A nod told him Giovanni was with him so far.

“The principle difficulty in pokémon genetics is the ‘instability’ associated with their genetic codes. They change, they adapt, they break down with terrible ease. The mechanism of evolution is possible because unlike us, pokémon are somehow able to use the strange energy they rely on for all their powers to alter their very genes. This same process is what results in the ‘ditto’ you’ve seen today. Adding eukaryotic DNA from an animal, perhaps a human, would potentially graft the morphology of the donor to the specimen—”

Giovanni’s frown warned him against too much jargon. He licked his dry lips.

“Ah, it would force the creature to remain in a fixed form. A hybrid form. It is possible.”

“Is it also possible,” said Giovanni, “in your professional opinion, that using human DNA for this process would grant the clone abstract thought, creativity, and complex language, while keeping its mastery of psychic power?”

“It is… possible. However unlikely, it is possible. The specimen would necessarily have the same mysterious energy that all pokémon do, and I suspect it would be incredibly powerful.”

Giovanni’s smile was showing teeth. “And what did you say to your colleague when he explained it to you?”

“I told him it broke countless legal, practical, and ethical restrictions on our work and that we had no compelling reason to adopt the method,” said Fuji, as evenly as he could manage.

Giovanni sneered at him as if he were an impudent salaryman. “Well, how’s this for a compelling reason? If making this thing a human half-breed has a chance of producing a viable, more intelligent specimen, then I expect you to do it. Dr. Katsura tells me it does, and I’m inclined to believe him. He was most articulate on the matter.”

Fuji put both hands, and his weight, on the table littered with documents. His carefully-curated reports were nothing more than paper, now. They’d done nothing to curtail Giovanni’s ambitions.

“Even if it did work, and the clone reached healthy maturity, there’s no way of telling what the long term consequences could be. A psychic that powerful could be bonded to the genetic donor in ways we cannot predict or understand!”

Giovanni laughed, abruptly, and held out his hand in pacification.

“I can see you have some anxiety about this, Doctor. Allow me to ease your concerns. I am a generous enough man to relieve you of the terrible burden of finding a genetic donor for this project. You may use my genes.”

“What?”

“One of my agents will leave a sample with your medical staff. I am prepared to accept the risks you feverishly imagine. Great rewards are earned through the boldness to take great risks.”

“I see. As you say, Mr. Giovanni.”

That man had such a cruel smile when he was exercising his influence over someone else. Eyes narrowing, the left corner of his mouth curving upward, nose flaring slightly. Did he smile that way when he commanded a pokémon?

“I acknowledge you have reservations,” he said, “but I’ve made my final decision. I insist you give your word that you intend to do what I ask of you.”

This was it. This was the final chance. He could turn down Giovanni now, or else commit to the creation of a hybrid life form, and then there would be no telling where the science would go. Twenty years from now, would such things be commonplace? How could that possibly be in the world’s best interests?

Think of something clever. Lie convincingly that human DNA would not stabilise the specimen. Refuse on moral grounds. Insist on using the DNA of a dead man instead, however abhorrent that would be.

He thought of Ai, and the impossibility of completing her revival without Giovanni’s patronage. He thought of the savings he had emptied, the favours he had called in. He had even failed to attend the funeral. He’d been so focused on preserving the precious genetic memories held within those cells. His daughter’s soul.

He didn’t have anything else.

“I suppose I have no choice,” said Dr. Fuji. “I’ll do as you say.”

Damn you.

“I’m pleased to hear that. Very pleased indeed.”

Damn you, Fuji, you coward.

X​

As Giovanni’s helicopter left, Fuji imagined he could feel the future in his heart.

It was a cold, and dark, and heavy future if so.

He remembered Mew. If it was typical of its species then the clone would be a playful, innocent creature. Curious. Gentle. Already the ditto were inquisitive, bashful creatures.

By contrast there was Giovanni, who loved to command others and make unscrupulous demands. King of veiled threats and intimidation. Was he so cruel and uncompromising from birth, or had he grown to become that way? Whether his nature was natural or nurtured, his violent character would surely taint Fuji’s creation.

Once he gave this thing life, what kind of being would it be?

What would it one day become, in the shadow of Giovanni?

It might be a monster, like him. Or worse, a victim to his cruelties. In either case, what devastation could be wrought by a creature in such conditions?

Fuji gripped the railing on the rooftop’s edge. It felt good to put his weight on something solid. He spent so much time leaning on an imagined future, one which contained his daughter once again.

To keep Giovanni from possessing a mew clone to mould in his image, Fuji would have to sacrifice that future.

And he couldn’t do that.

Coward.

X​

“Katsura! Katsura, you blind fool! Haven’t you got any discretion? Katsura!”

Fuji hammered on his colleague’s office door, releasing all the pent-up energy he’d contained during Giovanni’s visit. He couldn’t feel his hands.

“Katsura! Damn you!”

A voice came from inside: “What is it, Fuji, you obsessive bastard?”

“Open this door and explain yourself!”

Katsura wrenched the door open, and it thudded into the wall as he did so.

“Explain what, man?” he barked.

In addition to being a great scientific mind, Auguste Katsura was the local gym leader and Kantō’s fire type specialist. As such, he affected an exaggerated, theatrical persona. In his case, he had chosen a ‘mad scientist’ aesthetic, which he was suited for in both appearance and intellect.

He cultivated a large, white, paint brush moustache, and kept his scalp perfectly bald. He wore his lab coat open, revealing a flame-patterned tie, worn in a loose knot. His glasses of choice were shaded pince-nez. He looked bizarre. Yet, the man’s glower was so hot even through the glasses, Fuji faltered despite himself, stammering as he replied.

“Y-you sent that proposal to Giovanni! Now he wants us to use his DNA in the project! Haven’t you any idea how badly that could go wrong?”

Katsura stared for a moment. Then, he removed his glasses and looked Fuji in the eye. Without the shades, he looked entirely serious. Older, too.

“You’d better come inside.”

Fuji nodded, and obliged.

With the door closed behind them, and his colleague making him a cup of hot tea, Fuji’s anger left him.

Katsura was efficient and focused as he attended the tea in his tiny kitchenette. He didn’t speak again until they both sat down. He left his glasses off. Before resuming the conversation he said, pointedly, “You haven’t seen my analysis yet, Fuji. I assure you, the science is sound.”

Then he shushed Fuji with a finger to his lips, and activated his dishwasher. It made a great deal of noise, as if he’d left something solid inside. Fuji raised an eyebrow. What was he playing at?

Katsura brought the tea, sat with him, and softened his voice.

“Fuji… Yosuke, didn’t you think I’d have thought this through?”

“Explain it to me, then. Tell me why you told Giovanni we could make this thing part-human.”

Katsura’s moustache bristled as he skewed his mouth in irritation.

“You don’t know Giovanni as well as I do, old friend. He’s not just some wealthy gang boss who wants to win some private pokémon battles with an illegally enhanced pokémon.”

“I didn’t think that—”

Katsura ignored him. “He’s got his filthy hands in high level organised crime, the government of half the prefectures in the country, private businesses, the tech industry, you name it. Even the League. Did you know he’s posing as gym leader in Hakone?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Indeed not.”

“So, what, he intends to— to use our creation to commit some great crime? And you’ll help him do that?”

Katsura’s brow furrowed with displeasure.

“What do you take me for? Don’t you know what kind of man I am? I want him to fail. He’s a madman, Yosuke. I’ve heard the kind of drivel he spouts for his sycophants. Listen, listen to this: ‘all pokémon exist solely for the use of Team Rocket.’ I heard him say that to justify stealing pokémon from children, for goodness’ sake. He’s got to be a damned yakuza boss. Of course I’m not helping him. Will you hear me out?”

Fuji took a deep, shuddering breath, and quieted his mind to listen.

Katsura nodded. “Thank you. Just think — he believes that if he controls the most powerful pokémon in the world, that he can rule it. Not from the shadows. Openly.”

“Then we can’t let him have that!”

“He’s going to have that, Yosuke. It’s too late for your fudged figures and redacted reports. It’s happening. The question is not whether we can deprive him of his prize. Short of destroying every trace of our work, he can find some bright mind to continue it from what our colleagues recall. No. The question is whether we can prevent him using the clone. The question… is whether the creature will actually obey him.”

Something clicked in Fuji’s mind.

“You don’t mean to say that we should teach it disobedience, do you?”

“No. Not exactly. If we do as Giovanni asks, and create a mew-human hybrid, then that creature… well, it would have a mind of its own. The capacity to make decisions. Perhaps if we’re lucky and clever, the capacity for better judgment.”

Fuji’s brain was fizzing with risks and contingencies. “But Auguste, you’re gambling on the hope that what we make here will not only be… be a— a thinking being, but a moral one. A person, I suppose, with a heart good and brave enough to turn on its master. Who won’t simply learn to be cruel and amoral from him. Doesn’t that strike you as vanishingly unlikely?”

“Perhaps. We may have more control than you think. After all…” Katsura jabbed a finger at him. “It will not be Giovanni that raises this child-creature, but you and I, Yosuke. This is how we beat him!”

“Will that be enough?”

Katsura shrugged. “It has to be. Ah! We will do our level best. And consider: it will even grow up alongside Ai, if all goes well. How could the sibling of your little Ai be anything but noble and kind, eh?”

Fuji thought of the cluster of cells that rested in his lab, the preserved essence of his daughter. When he solved the puzzle of restoring life, there she would be. A child, standing in this world of metal and light.

Would not a clone of mew be more or less the same kind of being as a clone of Ai? More so, with human blood in its veins?

He sat back and put a quavering hand to his temple.

“Even if it works… It disturbs me. This idea of giving a semblance of humanity to a pokémon. What kind of life will it have? What if it suffers because of our decision?”

Katsura looked grim. “All humans suffer. So do all living things.”

“Yes, but will it thank us for this?”

“Perhaps. What pokémon wouldn’t want to be like us? To be human?”

Fuji shook his head.

“Even so… it would be a child of Giovanni. Bound to him by blood.”

Katsura put his glasses back on, and grinned ferociously. “Not if we use a different sample.”

Oh.

Of course.

X​

The thing floating in the tank wasn’t human, that much was certain.

Still, could it really be said to be a pokémon?

It hung there, suspended in its near-weightlessness by diodes affixed to its torso, head and limbs. It almost gave Fuji the impression of…

Never mind.

The creature had three digits on each paw, front and back. Its eyes were firmly closed. The proportions were almost like those of a human child of six or seven years. As old as Ai had been. However, the ears were situated high on its head and roughly triangular, the upper torso and shoulders were gaunt and angular, and the lower legs had the thick haunches and elongated feet of a feline pokémon. Then, of course, there was the enormous tail…

It could not possibly be human.

Yet… it still gave him the impression of a sleeping infant.

He checked the readings. He checked them twice. Three times.

Healthy vitals, as far as they could tell. High brain activity. But… disconcertingly like a human’s.

With each passing week, Fuji thought the tiny creature in the tank was growing just a little larger. Its tail was twice the length it had been a month ago. Already they could detect telepathic probing coming from it, reaching out for other life. Opposite it was Ai’s tank. Perhaps it was reaching out for her mind. She was just like it in a way, suspended in a cocktail of life-preserving compounds. His great hope. He imagined he could already recognise her face.

There they were. The human and the pokémon.

Ah, but there was the conceit. It wasn’t a pokémon either, was it? How could it be, with brain readings like that?

He stared through the glass at it, willing it to open its eyes. To speak with him.

“What kind of life will you have? What will you think of me? What will you feel in your heart?” he asked, out loud. Then, aware of himself, he checked over his shoulders for an errant colleague who may have heard.

No, he was alone with his creations, and the stone tablet bearing the image of mew. The engraving stared back at him from beyond a thousand-year gulf.

He thought of the mew he’d befriended back in Guyana. What would it think of this copy, this distorted mirror image of itself? This… He still didn’t have a name that felt right. Mew Clone. Second Mew. Mew-Two.

“Mewtwo,” he whispered to himself. “Will you be thankful that we made you the way you are?”

What pokémon wouldn’t want to be human? That’s what Katsura had said.

Fuji wasn’t so sure.

The first pokémon-human hybrid floated in its tank, dreaming silently in the dim light. What did it dream of?

He prayed to himself that its dreams were peaceful.

It had been a long time since his own dreams were anything such.
 
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Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
I found this a compelling take on the classic birth of Mewtwo scene! One thing that really stood out to me was the depiction of Cinnebar as more of an international science hub--it lent the whole set-up a nice shade of realism. I also very much enjoyed your character descriptions, particularly of Katsura.

He cultivated a large, white, paint brush moustache, and kept his scalp perfectly bald. He wore his lab coat open, revealing a flame-patterned tie, worn in a loose knot. His glasses of choice were shaded pince-nez. He looked bizarre. Yet, the man’s glower was so hot even through the glasses, Fuji faltered despite himself, stammering as he replied.
There's an ease and confidence to the verb choice and flow here that really works. The focus on the ridiculous outer garb transitioning suddenly to his glower was excellent.

The concept of ditto being failed mew-clones is a fascinating idea! I don't know if it's some common theory I've never heard before or your own invention, but kudos if it is!

Fuji's dilemma and choices come through strongly, as does the tension in his conversation with Giovanni. The writing is solid through-out, though I think the very first vignette was a little stop and start and almost prevented me from reading onwards. Rereading, I'm not certain it's any of the actual words, but maybe just the line break after every sentence formatting. I think it would ease in your reader better if you consolidated into paragraphs, as below

A horrible thought. It would owe him nothing, if it lived.

If it lived, perhaps it would be the first of many.

Pokémon-human hybrids. Capable of sophisticated cognition. Endowed with fantastic elemental powers.

…If it lived.

“No choice,” he murmured to himself.

He had been given no choice but to give life to this creature. Or at least, that’s what he had believed all this time.

At what point did a threshold in science become inevitable, however terrible?

When it was first conceived of?

When it was no longer theoretical, but a practical possibility?

Perhaps only once it became an irreversible reality, already in motion, and impossible to stop.

There was the truth. This had been inevitable only so long as he’d remained committed to it. He could have stopped at any time, right up until the moment of genesis.

But instead he had told himself, over and over, that he’d had no freedom to do otherwise.

If there had been a single moment he could identify and say “Yes, there, that’s when it became destiny,” it was when he’d first said those words —

“I suppose I have no choice.”
A horrible thought. It would owe him nothing, if it lived.

If it lived, perhaps it would be the first of many. Pokémon-human hybrids. Capable of sophisticated cognition. Endowed with fantastic elemental powers

. . . If it lived.

“No choice,” he murmured to himself. He had been given no choice but to give life to this creature. Or at least, that’s what he had believed all this time.

At what point did a threshold in science become inevitable, however terrible? When it was first conceived of? When it was no longer theoretical, but a practical possibility? Perhaps only once it became an irreversible reality, already in motion, and impossible to stop.

There was the truth. This had been inevitable only so long as he’d remained committed to it. He could have stopped at any time, right up until the moment of genesis. But instead he had told himself, over and over, that he’d had no freedom to do otherwise.

If there had been a single moment he could identify and say “Yes, there, that’s when it became destiny,” it was when he’d first said those words —

“I suppose I have no choice.”

Focus on bio-ethics sounds exciting! Will definitely check out chapter two of this and see where you take it.
 

OldschoolJohto

Never not editing
Pronouns
She/Her
Partner
solrock
Aww, Cat you did a great job!

Perhaps it was having dreams of its own, asleep in its tiny world.
This immediately tells us a lot about Fuji.

A horrible thought. It w
I’d swap the period for a colon.

I think I agree with Pen about the paragraph breaks in that one segment. Funny, because I’m usually nudging people to break up paragraphs more haha. Aside from that, the prose generally reads quite well.

Love the way you handled Giovanni — very convincing mix of coldness, intellect, and domineering.
 

canisaries

voted most likely to be edgy
Location
the middle of nowhere
Pronouns
she/her
deja vu, ive just been in this place before

Hey there! I got rolled Different Eyes for the review exchange game, and I've now read the prologue. It certainly is different from the one before, though I did recognize some traces of the old one in there, like Fuji's explanation of pokémon DNA. This time around it was more clear, though, which I imagine is due to my complaints last time around :D

I'm also glad to see more skepticism towards the combination of human and pokémon DNA and the acknowledgement of it not really being any kind of necessary at all, as last time it just struck me as people doing it for shits and giggles, more or less - though you probably already know I have a personal distaste for this idea and wasn't necessarily a very objective complaint.

Fuji is written impressively to be both a bastard from the first lines and yet a complete saint when juxtaposed with this overgrown brat Giovanni who wants a cool toy that can shoot laser beams from its eyes and fly and make explosions happen with its mind fwoom fwoom. That said, though, Giovanni has a very imposing atmosphere to him from the very first lines, and I even felt a little sad that it was more explicitly described afterwards when the start was so wonderfully subtle, but I understand that this better fits Fuji's thoughts and POV to be nervous and overanalyzing of this very powerful and scary person.

Now for some quote comments:

“This genetic sample of yours,” continued Giovanni. “It came from an authentic mew fossil, isn’t that so?”

Fuji willed his heart rate to remain steady. This man had no reason to suspect any deception in the report.

“Indeed. I — that is, we — believe it to be the fossilised eyelash of an ancient mew. One worshipped by a now-extinct culture several centuries ago.”
now ACKCHUALLY this would be a subfossil rather than a fossil as it still contains organic material. I do understand that Fuji wouldn't really consider it worth the effort to correct Giovanni, but an internal thought might fit.

Giovanni almost looked hungry as he stared at the incubation tanks.
mmmm pickled mew

They were almost genetically identical to mew and therefore they theoretically weren’t a separate species.
No...? I mean, it was said previously a considerable bit was missing, and in nature, species can have very similar genomes and only have small pieces vary. This just sounds like a big reach, especially for a scientist.

“Not yet, sir. They are poor learners, and do not perform well in many tests. They only manifest psychic abilities when they take the form of psychic pokémon, and they only match the abilities of the copied individual. Temporarily at that. Still, they are intriguing. The staff have taken to calling them, among other things, ‘metamon’, ‘omnimorph’, and ‘ditto’ -”

Ditto? That’s not a Japanese word.”

“It’s English, sir. It means ‘that which has been said before.’ I confess I quite like that one.”
Oh, you clever bastard with the names. Still, I don't think omnimorph is any more Japanese? In fact, it feels like that one would be less natural for a Japanese person to pronounce than ditto.

“She left her ring with her last letter. That was some weeks ago, now. It’s no great surprise; I did miss the funeral after all.”
hahaha owned

Remember, I’m not in the business of human cloning.
oh so THAT'S where you draw the line

I also require intelligence, aggression, loyalty.
and i want all four lines to be perpendicular

“I can see you have some anxiety about this, Doctor. Allow me to ease your concerns. I am a generous enough man to relieve you of the terrible burden of finding a genetic donor for this project. You may use my genes.”
giovanni offers fuji his seed of life dot txt

In addition to being a great scientific mind, Auguste Katsura was the local gym leader and Kantō’s fire type specialist. As such, he affected an exaggerated, theatrical persona. In his case, he had chosen a ‘mad scientist’ aesthetic, which he was suited for in both appearance and intellect.
I find the choice to use Blaine's French name pretty odd when he specifically has his Japanese one for his surname. Auguste sounds just as Western as Blaine is, and the mixing of names from different cultures looks strange in general cough cough red akai. In other words, I don't see how choosing Auguste over Blaine has any benefits. I think it would have been better to just go with some random Japanese first name or choose the regular Blaine, as that's more recognizable. (also it sounds like "brain" transliterated and that'd be a cute mad scientist joke)

Yet, the man’s glower was so hot even through the glasses, Fuji faltered despite himself, stammering as he replied.
goddamn... katsura you sexy devil...

Katsura’s brow furrowed with displeasure.

“What do you take me for? Don’t you know what kind of man I am? I want him to fail. He’s a madman, Yosuke. I’ve heard the kind of drivel he spouts for his sycophants. Listen, listen to this: ‘all pokémon exist solely for the use of Team Rocket.’ I heard him say that to justify stealing pokémon from children, for goodness’ sake. He’s got to be a damned yakuza boss. Of course I’m not helping him. Will you hear me out?”
This starts out sounding like it's Fuji speaking due to the paragraph break. It's picked up

Katsura put his glasses back on, and grinned ferociously. “Not if we use a different sample.”

Oh.

Of course.
oopsie woopsie we used the wrong sample on accident, oh well our bad, cant do nothing about that now can you mother fucker

Anyway - good prologue with nice bookends, both of which are quite snappy. However, I worry that this might not be very representative of the true fic itself? Of course I only made it up to the cat chapters in my read and you said those weren't representative of the whole fic either, but this still might make people think that these characters will have more to do with the story later than just being part of an important historical event for the setting. Though they actually might, I don't know? I'm just going by what I've picked up via chats and all.

Hope this feedback was good, and good luck with writing onward.
 

Dragonfree

Pokémon Trainer
Staff
Location
Iceland
Pronouns
she/her/hers
At what point did a threshold in science become inevitable, however terrible it seemed? When it was first conceived of? When it was no longer theoretical, but a practical possibility? Perhaps only once it became an irreversible reality, already in motion, and impossible to stop.

There was the truth: this had been inevitable only so long as he’d remained committed to it. He could have turned back at any time, right up until the moment of genesis, but instead he had told himself, over and over, that he’d had no freedom to do otherwise.

If there had been a single moment he could identify and say “Yes, there, that’s when it became destiny,” it was when he’d first said those words —

“I suppose I have no choice.”
I love this - a lovely contemplation on justifications and rationalizations. He decides that he has no choice, and that's the choice that he makes.

Fuji prayed that his deception had not been a mistake. Oh, Mew. Perhaps you were wrong to trust me with your eyelash after all.
...Huh. Well, color me intrigued by what on earth that's about.

He trailed off. The cultural reluctance to name uncomfortable things was strong even for him, a scientist with colleagues from many nations.
This feels a little awkward, I think - squeezing in information about the culture here is kind of a distraction from what's going on.

Fuji cleared his throat. “Ah, well… in the metaphorical tree of life, animals — including humans, of course — and pokémon are considered two different ‘domains’ of life, if not a different tree of life altogether. This is for good reason: we appear to share no common ancestor, even in the primordial world of billions of years ago. And yet we are both complex multicellular life forms, with DNA. DNA that could theoretically be spliced regardless of our many differences.”
Literally no common ancestor doesn't quite rhyme with both humans and Pokémon having compatible DNA, though. The entire reason life on Earth is all DNA-based is that it all shares a common ancestor; it'd be vanishingly unlikely for some other life evolving independently without sharing a common ancestor to just so happen to evolve not only the same molecular structure but also the same arbitrary coding of base pairs to amino acids. Specifying they don't have a common ancestor at all just makes this stretch disbelief.

I think this prologue was a really fascinating look at Dr. Fuji's mind and introduction to your world! You introduce the idea of Mewtwo as a hybrid in a way that feels logical and pretty much consistent with the way Mewtwo's creation was depicted in the first movie. It works pretty well as a standalone story about Mewtwo, but serves a clear setup purpose for a world with Pokémon-human hybridization.

I like the portrayal of Fuji's character a lot here - the self-loathing behind it all, his regrets about agreeing to this, his inability to let go of Ai. And Blaine was a lot of fun, too; the idea of him introducing the human splicing idea in order to make the resulting clone rebel against its master is twisted and kind of dubious (couldn't they just destroy the only existing samples of Mew DNA to make it impossible for other researchers to continue where they left off?) but it's just a neat idea, to the point I don't really mind.

I found it a little distracting that you'd insist on using Japanese names for most things here while still canonizing some of the English ones - why does "Giovanni" get to be Giovanni's pseudonym while Blaine is just Katsura? But it's a minor point in the grand scheme of things and if the main body of the fic takes place in Galar it's hardly going to be any kind of ongoing issue; it's just something that stuck out at me as I was reading.

All in all, I thought this was a very intriguing prologue! It's probably not very representative of what the main body of the fic will be like, but as I said, it basically works as a largely-standalone Fuji character study. I'm excited to read more and hoping to keep up as it's posted (though I can't entirely promise to keep up on reviews, I'm pretty bad at that). Well done!
 
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kintsugi

golden scars
Pronouns
she/her/hers
Partner
silvally-grass
He willed it to open its eyes and reach out to him, to speak to him, to justify its existence to him.
This is line is actually one that I liked a lot more on the first readthrough than the second. Without knowing much about Fuji, this paints him as harsh, brutal, almost indifference to Mewtwo's existence -- someone who values life doesn't ask it to justify why it should exist. For me this is a great line but it doesn't mesh with the image of Fuji that you paint at the end of the chapter, when we revisit him and he's tenderly comparing Mewtwo to an infant, mulling over names.

If there had been a single moment he could identify and say “Yes, there, that’s when it became destiny,” it was when he’d first said those words —
Likewise, I love this line for the paradox it captures -- but for that exact reason it doesn't make sense for Fuji to be the one to "identify" that moment -- for him to say it was "destiny" means that he was bound to it from the start, so he can't be the one to identify a different starting point. I think this revelation would be more powerful if the person recognizing the inevitability of Fuji's actions being tied to the moment Fuji gave up agency is anyone else but Fuji.

He knew well that this was a powerful man — someone who could afford to keep others waiting, and would naturally take issue with impatience. It would be unwise to give offence by speaking first.
The tension in this scene is palpable and the "Fuji/Doctor Fuji" exchange really helps cement that, as well as Fuji's own pride, but placing this internal caution flag before Fuji goes off and corrects Giovanni makes the flag seem useless -- which may have been what you were going for, given that Fuji is clearly out of his league.

Oh, Mew. Perhaps you were wrong to trust me with your eyelash after all.
This is a reall fun development, but the implication seems to be that Fuji received a living sample. Surely fossilized eyelash would be recognizably different than non-fossilized eyelash? I like that you portray collaborative science here, but that comes with the implication that the true sample had to have been seen by at least someone else on the South American expedition.

“She left her ring with her last letter. That was some weeks ago, now. It’s no great surprise; I did miss the funeral after all.”
big oof of a line, but also the word "left" leaves me confused -- it implies that she's not sending letters, but leaving them somewhere for Fuji to see, but Fuji hasn't left the facility in weeks now?

He spoke with some hesitation still in his voice. “If mew is, ah, truly the most powerful psychic pokémon to ever exist, then its genes are— are already the pinnacle of psychic power. If we can find a way to… to stabilise the DNA and produce a viable specimen, then that would be a great enough achievement to begin with. Ah, one might say.”
I think this chunk of dialogue could be broken up to better convey the sense of hesitation instead of/along with the verbal um/ah/--/...

“Ah, well… in the metaphorical tree of life, animals — including humans, of course — and pokémon are considered two different ‘domains’ of life, if not a different tree of life altogether. This is for good reason: we appear to share no common ancestor, even in the primordial world of billions of years ago. And yet we are both complex multicellular life forms, with DNA. DNA that could theoretically be spliced regardless of our many differences.”
The scientificness of this paragraph has already been flagged by a few posts, so seconding their points and throwing in my own: splicing across species is already possible with modern tech, even across separate domains -- a common example would be splicing DNA from rat cells into bacterial cells to create bacterial cells capable of producing insulin. Fuji casually suggesting a second tree of life is weirdly unscientific as well -- this suggests that either he believes Pokemon (or human/animals) are an alien species whose common ancestor was introduced early in Earth's timeline, or that there was a separate event to create Pokemon (some sort of creation myth?). Neither are very scientific options for Fuji to casually posit on his own.

The specimen would necessarily have the same mysterious energy that all pokémon do
From a story perspective, yeah, this tracks, but I wasn't clear how Fuji knows that the hybrid would efinietly exhibit Pokemon energy. It sounds like he hasn't done this before?

I think, one thing in general to remember -- scientists don't like speaking in absolutes, and they definitely hate making conclusive statements without data. If there's a study that had every single patient take perscription A and show improvements for disease B, they wouldn't say that A cures B, they would say that in a controlled study of X participants they say A reduce symptoms for B. If the study didn't exist, they wouldn't speculate at all.

Your angle could also be that Fuji is, at his core, a bad scientist but a good person, which would admittedly be a strong case for a lot of the mistakes being made here, but in that case it would be good to provide an explanation for how he's such a standout in his field despite not grasping some pretty basic elements of the scientific method.

Think of something clever. Lie convincingly that human DNA would not stabilise the specimen. Refuse on moral grounds. Insist on using the DNA of a dead man instead, however abhorrent that would be.
I like his thought process here. The last example confuses me though. Science usually doesn't have many issues with using samples from dead donors; that's sort of the foundation for most of our organ research. Using the DNA of a dead man to complete the project also wouldn't fix the "countless legal, practical, and ethical restrictions" Fuji mentions earlier, nor would it curtail the potentially disastrous effect to technology in general that Fuji foresees in the previous paragraph.

“I acknowledge you have reservations,” he said, “but I’ve made my final decision. I insist you give your word that you intend to do what I ask of you.”
Giovanni has been portrayed as consistently ruthless and cunning, and I like how you demonstrated him playing around Fuji's reservations for using a human component in the splicing, but asking for Fuji's word and then trusting it seems... uncharacteristically noble of him.

“What do you take me for? Don’t you know what kind of man I am? I want him to fail. He’s a madman, Yosuke. I’ve heard the kind of drivel he spouts for his sycophants. Listen, listen to this: ‘all pokémon exist solely for the use of Team Rocket.’ I heard him say that to justify stealing pokémon from children, for goodness’ sake. He’s got to be a damned yakuza boss. Of course I’m not helping him. Will you hear me out?”
seems awfully stupid of Katsura to say this and acknowledge that Giovanni is smart and has widespread influence, and then to have this conversation anywhere on the premises that Giovanni owns and inspects and could foreseeably be surveying, noisy dishwasher or not. Also seems stupid for Katsura to be this paranoid and assume that Fuji is still on his side.

“Even so… it would be a child of Giovanni. Bound to him by blood.”
strange reservation for him to have in light of everything else, sort of like being concerned about leaving your car in the rain after it was just totaled in a wreck. I like the fatherhood angle you have with Fuji, but I admittedly don't understand the implications/how it intersects with his science angle -- and given how Katsura also seems to treat this "child" linkage as the more pressing concern (than, say, the potential risk of a psychic bonding to its genetic donor? is that canon? I wasn't sure on that either) that they would be willing to go against the man he identifies as an honest-to-god yakuza boss, it does seem like multiple members of the scientific community are on board with this priority.

This… He still didn’t have a name that felt right. Mew Clone. Second Mew. Mew-Two.
I liked the focus of how Fuji was uncomfortable naming things that made him uncomfortable, and how that comes back here, but it does seem like an awfully quick turnaround for him to use the name right away after saying he wasn't sure what to name it.

Science nitpicks aside, I think this is a good revision. Switching the focus to specific characters helps make the ethical dilemmas less abstract and more grounded; it's particularly insightful to see the chain of events that led to the inciting incident. The prose is strong and you really coax out the tension between these characters in a believable way; for me, those were the two strongest parts.

As a whole I think this is a lot better suited for the themes you wanted to coax out in this story while still being interesting. There's definitely a strong philosophical/moral/humanist angle that you're taking here and in many regards I feel like that was always intended to take the back seat to the science -- from that lens, it becomes a very tight, very cohesive introduction to a much larger (and in many ways much smaller) exploration. Hope the revisions go well!
 

Adamhuarts

Mew specialist
Pronouns
He/Him
Partner
mew
So, at last I checked out this fic of yours and I must say this is a very promising prologue you've constructed starting with the birth or Mewtwo, the original hybrid.

Given I've already seen you talking about your research into Mewtwo, I must say you did a great job at adapting it to fit into your story. Seeing the banter between Giovanni and Fuji, and then Fuji and Auguste was pretty delightful. I must say you have a knack for crafting good dialogue and that much I can respect.

Seeing that this was where it all began, it'd be interesting to see how this one misguided experiment shaped the future of your story's world to the point where there's now going to be tons of hybrids running around potentially. Will the rest of humanity accept them or will they be met with scorn and enmity?

If anything, I'm now pumped to see where this story is going. I'm not sure how involved Mewtwo himself would be since Salem would be the pivotal focus moving forward. I can't wait to see how her story begins starting from next chapter hopefully.
 

windskull

Bidoof Fan
Staff
Partner
sneasel-nip
Hey, uA, sorry for the delay! Obviously, this review is going to be over just the prologue, but it was a pretty meaty prologue, so I think I have a decent bit to say!

This was Izu Ōshima, known as Cinnabar Island to tourists and to trainers on the League Circuit.
So, to start off, I like this detail. It kind of paints this picture of traveling gym competitors. that go from league to league in search of challenge. It's probably not super relevant to the story at hand, but it's a nice little worldbuilding tidbit.

The geneticist bent at the waist and waited for the crime-lord to speak.
This is a nitpick, but I kind of feel like it would have been better to just refer to Giovanni by name here, both because you already have an epithet in this sentence, and because you reveal his name in-prose anyways. I would at least consider restructuring the sentence, as the flow felt a little off to me.

Also, I do want to say I was thrown for a bit of a loop when Giovanni's (fake) name was referred to as "Italian." I'm not used to pokemon fics referring to real-world locations. There's nothing wrong with it, per-say, and so long as it's consistent I don't have a problem with it; it just struck me as a bit odd.

It was obviously a pseudonym for a man with secrets worth hiding, but he must have had considerable arrogance to disguise the truth with such an obviously fake identity.
I really liked this line, btw.

Giovanni’s gaze seemed to tug on the secrets in Fuji’s heart, but he returned it evenly.
That sounds... rather dangerous, Fuji. You better watch yourself.

He trailed off. The cultural reluctance to name uncomfortable things was strong even for him, a scientist with colleagues from many nations.
Giovanni sneered at him as if he were an impudent salaryman
Oh hey, a term I recognize. Another couple of lines I really liked just for the level of detail and care put into cultural differences. I feel like you did a good job of not "westernizing" these characters. It helps ground them as characters from fictional Japan.

Their movement was somewhat like that of a mundane snail, or a slugma
interesting. I suppose that means at least some regular animals exist in this universe.

Katsura. Of course. The accursed fool.
Damnit Katsura! (Also, gonna admit I didn't realize this was Blaine until we actually saw him later, at which point I connected the dots)

“One of my agents will leave a sample with your medical staff. I am prepared to accept the risks you feverishly imagine. Great rewards are earned through the boldness to take great risks.”
Uh-oh!

[quotes]He left his glasses off.[/quote]
That's how you know he means srs bsns

Ai, if all goes well. How could the sibling of your little Ai be anything but noble and kind, eh?”
awww

Katsura put his glasses back on, and grinned ferociously. “Not if we use a different sample.”
oh indeed. It feels like the implication in the following passage is that is that they used Fuji's DNA? I imagine it would have been one of the two of them, since they're having to keep this under tight wraps.

It had been a long time since his own dreams were anything such.
And finally, what a wham line.

So, final thoughts, I really enjoyed reading this. I can tell there's a lot of set up in the works here. That said... I kind of feel like I can't give a solid judgment of the work at this point since this chapter is primarily is just background setup. At least, I'm assuming it is. That said, if the remainder of the fic is written with as much care as this prologue has had, I think I'm in for a treat. I wish I had more to say, but I really don't, at this point. That said, I'll be keeping an eye out in the future and plan to revisit this. Until then, take care!
 

Chibi Pika

Stay positive
Staff
Location
somewhere in spacetime
Pronouns
they/them
Partner
pikachu-chibi
Hell yea, rolled this for catnip hell yea. 😎

I really love the intro paragraph. It reaches out and grabs onto you and doesn’t let there be any ambiguity as to what you’ll be presented with. I enjoy the way you use small bits of description to convey things about your subjects without having to say any of it outright. Giovanni just oozed presence, and if I tried to quote all the details that jumped out at me, we’d be here all day. (But a top contender would be the way that his smile didn’t reach his eyes until he was commanding others.) And of course, I really loved all the crushing self-hatred from Fuji throughout.
Fuji willed his heart rate to remain steady. This man had no reason to suspect any deception in the report.
I was a bit confused at first by this at first, and then I almost missed the part where he met Mew. It wasn’t a fossil at all! That is fascinating, and I’m really curious to learn more about that.
He trailed off. The cultural reluctance to name uncomfortable things was strong even for him, a scientist with colleagues from many nations.
oh my god you actually lampshaded the anime thing.
“The principle difficulty in pokémon genetics is the ‘instability’ associated with their genetic codes. They change, they adapt, they break down with terrible ease. The mechanism of evolution is possible because unlike us, pokémon are somehow able to use the strange energy they rely on for all their powers to alter their very genes.
You already know this, but this is my jam I am so here for Pokémon having adaptable genes.

It’s fascinating—and illuminating—that Giovanni, in his pursuit to own the perfect being, actually wants the clone to have things that would make it harder to control: abstract thought, creativity, complex language. A mindless slave would be a more effective weapon, and yet, there’s almost something symbolic about it, in a way. He wants control over it specifically because it be the ultimate mark of control, to command something like that.

I was a little confused by the concerns over Mewtwo having a genetic donor, or rather, how that was framed. Now, I can certainly understand the concern that there potentially could be some sort of psychic bond (heck, it’s a thing in Pokespe so it easily fits under suspension of disbelief.) It’s the fact that he later he mentions that the clone would be bound to Giovanni by blood, like they know that means anything. Is this a known phenomenon to them?

Overall, the entire prologue has so much a better sense of scope than the previous one. I remember being so surprised when you first started hinting as how big this story was going to be, as I never got that feel from the old one, and had a hard time seeing how it fit. But here? Yeah, we’re in for a ride, I can tell~
 

Namohysip

Dragon Enthusiast
Staff
Partner
charizard
Wow, this is incredibly different compared to the first time I read through this. An entirely new prologue! Is the prelude from the first time gone/integrated into this, more or less?

Either way, I'll definitely consider this one to be a hell of a lot more interesting, since it really gets into the scope of what the story's backdrop is while still keeping it personal and in relation to Fuji. In particular, I think the addition of Giovanni, Mewtwo, and so on helped to anchor the story that I suspect will be similar to what I remember from the older draft, and it acts as a sort of hook for what may be to come--at least, I hope so! From what I understand, most of your focus comes from very small-scope, personal storytelling, so I'm not sure how much of this will ultimately become irrelevant, and how much will come up later or throughout.

For example, will Mewtwo make an actual appearance, or will he just be heard of on the news? Will the story ever become something more than just a cat coping with humanity? Will someone give Mewtwo the headpats? Some of these questions are more important than others, but I think they all tie into this idea of scope management and first impressions.

Still, as a prologue, it's quite extensive, but you'll also probably be able to get away with switching for a massive time skip as I suspect you will be. I do hope that what I read here will become more than just a footnote in present day, though, considering how much time was dedicated to it.

“Of course,” he said at last. Giovanni’s smile was wide, but it never reached his eyes. “Thank you for your time, Doctor Fuji.”
This is the most standout quote of the prologue, if only because of how well I feel you characterized Giovanni. Part of this is because his voice is very clear in my mind due to Pokemon Masters, but even still, I find him to be very accurate while still adding more to his typical depiction during this era (Gen I.) Makes me curious how far this diverges from the canon after the timeskip, when he's beaten by Red and retires / finds something else to do with himself.

Overall, though, I'm very impressed with this prologue, and am curious on what you'll be doing with it in the present day. See you then~
 

Cresselia92

Bug Catcher
Pronouns
She/Her/Hers
Oi there! Kinda late, but here's your Catnip review. :D

So! I know I've thoroughly enjoyed your previous version of the story, and I'm more than confident that this rewrite will be quite the treat, too. I've been planning to check this out and now I've got my chance. :D

Having said so, let's go for some quick time comments ad thoughts about the various scenes. Here we go!

A horrible thought; it would owe him nothing if it lived.

If it lived, perhaps it would be the first of many pokémon-human hybrids. Capable of sophisticated cognition — endowed with fantastic elemental powers.

…If it lived.
This part is intriguing. The uncertainty of the survival of the creature, and what they would think as soon as they gain awareness. It's kinda reminiscent of an actual birth, like "What will my son/daughter think about me?". It's a very relatable feeling for a parental figure.

At what point did a threshold in science become inevitable, however terrible it seemed? When it was first conceived of? When it was no longer theoretical, but a practical possibility? Perhaps only once it became an irreversible reality, already in motion, and impossible to stop.
This is a scientist's mood.

A man stood on the platform, his wild hair swept back and lab coat blown about by the airflow from the heliplane. He clutched his glasses to his face and waited for the whirling rotor blades to come to a standstill. When at last they did, another man in a dark suit stepped down from the heliplane, a feline pokémon at his side, and not a hair out of place on either.
Ask them what kind of product they use to not have their hair messed up by rotating blades. I'm curious. :p

The geneticist bent at the waist and waited for the crime-lord to speak.
Oh! It's nice how you reveal who arrived without being blatant about him.

He was silent for a long moment as his benefactor adjusted his jacket and tie.
Benefactor? More like financier. I pretty much doubt he wants to benefit anyone but himself. :p

Doctor Fuji,” he replied, straightening up. “Sir,” he quickly added.

Giovanni did not bow in return. The pause before he replied made Fuji’s breath catch in his chest.


“Naturally,” he said. “You are financing the project, after all. Your man on the radio didn’t mention the nature of your visit?”

Giovanni merely raised an eyebrow and walked past him, ignoring the implicit question.
Giovanni: "I am the boss. I can come whenever I want."

Despite the Italian name he used, Giovanni’s accent, facial features and mannerisms all suggested a Kantō heritage. It was obviously a pseudonym for a man with secrets worth hiding, but he must have had considerable arrogance to disguise the truth with such an obviously fake identity.
For being of Japanese origins, you sure took some inspiration from the Neapolitan mafia, huh? Fake identities and fake signatures are a very common modus operandi among Mafiosi.

At least, that was Fuji’s assessment. Perhaps he was wrong, and there was an honourable, philosophical man under all that presence and menace.
Yeah, keep believing that. The only philosophy he must know is probably Machiavelli's The Prince. :p

He lingered longest in the psy-assessment area; his cold eyes took in every detail of the psychic pokémon performing their telekinetic tasks under the observation of Fuji’s colleagues, armed with clipboards and brain-shielding circlets. So too did he pass his piercing gaze over the rest of the complex, in all its drab, metallic coldness. Narrow corridors, glass partitions, harsh white strip lighting. Evidently, it all passed muster.
This made me curious. I wonder what intrigues him about psychic powers -- maybe their abilities to brainwash and fling people around like ragdolls?

“Intriguing. It is peculiar that a preserved genetic sample of such great significance should come from something so insignificant. So easily overlooked. Just think how easily such a fragile thing could have been lost forever.”
Eh, perhaps it would have been for the best if it indeed ended up lost.

Naturally, someone like Giovanni would see an incomplete genetic code as an opportunity for improvement, rather than a setback to accept.
Yep. Gotta fill those blanks with nuclear power, while we're at it. If we're lucky, we could get a Catzilla with plasma breath. :p

Fuji prayed that his deception had not been a mistake. Oh, Mew. Perhaps you were wrong to trust me with your eyelash after all.
Hm? Now I wonder why Mew entrusted Fuji with an eyelash.

Giovanni almost looked hungry as he stared at the incubation tanks.
Those tanks must have liquid power, I assume. It would be fitting for a power-hungry boss.

The vivaria they illuminated contained the subjects he’d mentioned in his reports. These creatures had no official name, given that their existence remained secret. There ought to be a name for them, he thought. They were almost genetically identical to mew and therefore they theoretically weren’t a separate species. Yet one could not possibly call them ‘mew’ in all good sense.

Each vivarium was a box with glass panels, housing one or more shapeless, pinkish masses. They looked almost gelatinous, each one’s epidermis gleaming a little in the artificial light. Their movement was somewhat like that of a mundane snail, or a slugma: they stretched out their amorphous bodies and then pulled their mass forwards using the extended part. Their bodies were almost featureless, except for their odd little faces: beady black eyes and a darker line, like a seam, beneath them.

As they both watched the creatures, one of them transformed into a copy of its own water bowl. Another, into a stone.
Congratulations! Your DNA Sample evolved into The Thing.

Jokes aside, I remember reading about the "Ditto is a failed Mew experiment" theory, which was reinforced by the fact both know Transform and have similar palettes (pink if regular, blue if shiny). I can get behind that.

“Have you found a use for them?”

“Not yet, sir. They are poor learners, and do not perform well in many tests. They only manifest psychic abilities when they take the form of psychic pokémon, and they only match the abilities of the copied individual. Temporarily at that. Still, they are intriguing. The staff have taken to calling them, among other things, ‘metamon’, ‘omnimorph’, and ‘ditto’ -”

Ditto? That’s not a Japanese word.”

“It’s English, sir. It means ‘that which has been said before.’ I confess I quite like that one.”

“You are right to call them intriguing. Keep monitoring them, but use an intern or some other insignificant person. I want you and your useful colleagues to remain focused on the main project until its completion, no distractions.”
Oh, just wait until you find out what Breeders can do with them. :p

There was the slightest flicker of empathy in Giovanni’s face for a half-second.
Thinking about your son, Gio?

“Well. Good luck. May you meet with success in the due course of time, and have your daughter back once more. Just don’t let it interfere with the project. Remember, I’m not in the business of human cloning.”
Which means someone else is into that business...? *suspicious stare*

“Psychic power is only one of the many possible assets this being could have,” said Giovanni. “I also require intelligence, aggression, loyalty. The ability to use tools. Communication. Independent strategy. An intimidating physical form. Can you alter the temperament of the clone and so on to achieve these things, but without compromising its power?”
Then you should have picked a Dobermann, or a Houndoom in this setting. :p

“As it happens, I’ve received a most interesting proposition from one of your colleagues. Dr. Katsura, was it? Interesting man. He proposes splicing the sample with human DNA. Are you at all familiar with this idea?”
Someone took some notes from Pokémon Adventures~

“The principle difficulty in pokémon genetics is the ‘instability’ associated with their genetic codes. They change, they adapt, they break down with terrible ease. The mechanism of evolution is possible because unlike us, pokémon are somehow able to use the strange energy they rely on for all their powers to alter their very genes. This same process is what results in the ‘ditto’ you’ve seen today. Adding eukaryotic DNA from an animal, perhaps a human, would potentially graft the morphology of the donor to the specimen—”

Giovanni’s frown warned him against too much jargon. He licked his dry lips.
Heh, can't blame Gio here. I was starting to get lost, too. XP

“Even if it did work, and the clone reached healthy maturity, there’s no way of telling what the long term consequences could be. A psychic that powerful could be bonded to the genetic donor in ways we cannot predict or understand!”

Giovanni laughed, abruptly, and held out his hand in pacification.

“I can see you have some anxiety about this, Doctor. Allow me to ease your concerns. I am a generous enough man to relieve you of the terrible burden of finding a genetic donor for this project. You may use my genes.”

“What?”

“One of my agents will leave a sample with your medical staff. I am prepared to accept the risks you feverishly imagine. Great rewards are earned through the boldness to take great risks.”
How kind of you! I hope you'll have some tough Dark-type to counter psychic energies, at least.

Twenty years from now, would such things be commonplace? How could that possibly be in the world’s best interests?
Ooh! Foreshadowing?

“I suppose I have no choice,” said Dr. Fuji. “I’ll do as you say.”

Damn you.

“I’m pleased to hear that. Very pleased indeed.”

Damn you, Fuji, you coward.
Eeeh, pal... you were basically stuck between a rock and a hard place (?), so I can't totally blame you. Your hands were tied, after all.
Katsura was efficient and focused as he attended the tea in his tiny kitchenette. He didn’t speak again until they both sat down. He left his glasses off. Before resuming the conversation he said, pointedly, “You haven’t seen my analysis yet, Fuji. I assure you, the science is sound.”

Then he shushed Fuji with a finger to his lips, and activated his dishwasher. It made a great deal of noise, as if he’d left something solid inside. Fuji raised an eyebrow. What was he playing at?
Ooh, clever trick!

Katsura ignored him. “He’s got his filthy hands in high level organised crime, the government of half the prefectures in the country, private businesses, the tech industry, you name it. Even the League. Did you know he’s posing as gym leader in Hakone?”
Typical mafia boss business, then.

Fuji’s brain was fizzing with risks and contingencies. “But Auguste, you’re gambling on the hope that what we make here will not only be… be a— a thinking being, but a moral one. A person, I suppose, with a heart good and brave enough to turn on its master. Who won’t simply learn to be cruel and amoral from him. Doesn’t that strike you as vanishingly unlikely?”

“Perhaps. We may have more control than you think. After all…” Katsura jabbed a finger at him. “It will not be Giovanni that raises this child-creature, but you and I, Yosuke. This is how we beat him!”
Things are becoming very interesting here.



Fuji thought of the cluster of cells that rested in his lab, the preserved essence of his daughter. When he solved the puzzle of restoring life, there she would be. A child, standing in this world of metal and light.
Inb4, Fuji will go ahead and turn his daughter into a half-hybrid to supply the remaining DNA. Mark my words.

“Perhaps. What pokémon wouldn’t want to be like us? To be human?”
I dunno, did you interview some Pokémon and ask them?

Fuji shook his head.

“Even so… it would be a child of Giovanni. Bound to him by blood.”

Katsura put his glasses back on, and grinned ferociously. “Not if we use a different sample.”

Oh.

Of course.
And that's what I call a checkmate!

The creature had three digits on each paw, front and back. Its eyes were firmly closed. The proportions were almost like those of a human child of six or seven years. As old as Ai had been. However, the ears were situated high on its head and roughly triangular, the upper torso and shoulders were gaunt and angular, and the lower legs had the thick haunches and elongated feet of a feline pokémon. Then, of course, there was the enormous tail…

It could not possibly be human.
Yeah, and something tells me it's not a werewolf, either.

The first pokémon-human hybrid floated in its tank, dreaming silently in the dim light. What did it dream of?

He prayed to himself that its dreams were peaceful.

It had been a long time since his own dreams were anything such.
I love this ending!

---

Alright, here we are at the end of the review.

I'll have to say... this is a massive improvement compared to your original prologue. The various events flow so well and we go more in-depth into the origins of Pokémorphs, which is a real threat. I also love how distinguished the various characters are: the meek and heartbroken Fuji, the intimidating and cruel Giovanni, and the hotblooded and chessmaster Auguste. Their interactions and dialogs are among the golden points of this prologue.

I really don't know what else to say about this. It was glorious and I loved every moment of it! ♥

I hope you the best of luck with this fanfic. It's sooo cool! :3
 
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