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Pokémon In the Streets of Lago

Flaze

Don't stop, keep walking
Location
Chile
Pronouns
he/him
Partners
  1. infernape
Well, I think I dipped my toe enough with oneshots. Now I'm gonna try and go with something a little more challenging. This one's actually something I wrote two years ago, I've cleaned it up a little bit but haven't changed it too much, so that's why it might feel different in style and prose to what I've been posting so far.

Background:
Streets of Lago is a project that's been in my mind for...heck, a decade, the concept behind the story's evolved and changed a lot from what it was when I was fourteen years old, and I've never been able to properly put it down on paper (or doc if you wanna get technical), so I figured it'd be a good way to get back proper into writing stories by finally chaining down these elusive idea in my head.

EDIT 12-12-2020:

So I ended up rewriting the first chapter entirely, that means that if you're reading this you're reading chapter 1 version 2. I did it this way because I was having a lot of trouble deciding how I should properly start the story and tackle all its themes. As thus I ended up changing the structure of the story and even the POV character, hopefully this beginning ends up being even better than the one before.

Summary:

In the Streets of Lago is a story that takes place in the region of Caliorn. There, as its capital, stands Lago City, a city known for its contribution to entertainment and tourism and acts as a beacon for the region itself. However, not all is perfect, Lago's increasing immigrant population as well as gang activity has led to issues popping up around the city and it'll all start to boil over once a normal delivery boy becomes the unlikely friend of a young ex-gang boss looking to stir the pan.

Genres:
Crime, Drama, Adventure, Friendship, Romance, Action, Trauma

Swearing and cursing, implied and possibly visible (though not detailed) drug use, implied sex, corruption, social unrest, exploration of trauma, political critique

Swearing and cursing, slight exploration of trauma and violence, casual gun use. Some dialogue is also in Spanish, it's not important to understand it but I won't translate it either.
Streets of Lago

1st Street: Little Crow

It’s your fault.

Screams pierced through shrouded skies, smoke rising from the ground around the bodies littering the floor.

His heart felt like it was being crushed by a graveler. He tried walking forward but found himself reeling as forced coughs came out of his smoke-filled lungs.

It’s your fault

His hands were covered in blood, the blood of other trainers and pokemon, the blood he’d been ordered to shed

With a gasp he threw his head back and heaved, using all the strength he could muster to get up.

Survivors. He needed to find them.

He spun in place, eyes desperately searching for signs of life amongst the sea of smoke and screams.

It’s your fault.

The smoke cleared; what he saw stopped his heart.

Fiera, his arcanine, laid limp just out of his reach. Her cream-colored mane was stained red, masking her in the flames around her due to her already overwhelmingly orange fur.

Deep inside those flames, was a circle of corpses, their skin slowly burning and crisping away, letting out a cloud of dark, foul-smelling, smoke.

A wave of revulsion pulled him away from the sea of corpses in an attempt to keep the vomit down. He covered his mouth with his hands, only to feel the wet blood on his palms, warm and dripping like water.

Slowly his hands rose.

Slowly they draped his face.

He pressed his face hard against his hands, so hard that he felt he was going to tear a hole through it. And then, with all the rage, grief and horror he could muster, he let out an ear splitting scream.

He flew forward, his arm swinging back and hitting the nightstand next to his bed. His eyes bulged; his heart beat against his chest like an electric type about to discharge a thunderbolt.

The scream didn’t let up, even as the image faded away from him and the orange hues and smoke were replaced by darkness and walls. That blood running down his face, those screams drowning out his ears; it made his cold-sweated skin crawl.

As he took in his surroundings the goosebumps were replaced by a new feeling, a softness around his hand that jolted him out of his stupor. Fiera was rubbing her mane against him, her scar-covered right eye facing him and a whimper escaping her mouth.

Once his heart and panting slowed he let his body gently fall back on his pillow, with his beating heart, Fiera’s soft mane and the dull sense of pain in his hand anchoring him to reality.

With newly regained stability he began to gently move his hand across Fiera’s fur, eliciting a soft hum from her.

After recovering his breath he was startled by movement from behind him, only to be met with his deddene plushie falling on his face and rolling off onto the bed. Icarus--his murkrow--was perched on his bed frame.

“No dejar dormir!” Icarus squawked in Surean, eyes narrowed and beak sticking out towards Miguel’s face.

Miguel chuckled at this, using his other hand to pet Icarus’ tuft, and in response Icarus moved his head away. “Perdon, Icarus. Es otra de esas noches,” he replied; Icarus didn’t let up his gaze.

“Just another one of those nights.” He repeated in Aeonian.

Those nightmares had been going on and off in Miguel’s head for the last six months--since the day he left Team Murkrow--like spectres haunting his dreams. Most days he was able to wake up before it got too bad. The problem wasn’t the nightmares after all, but what they represented.

The day his brother betrayed him.

***

Miguel got out of bed and started his routine. Get up, shower, shave--he’d rather shave the five hair that came out everyday than wait however long it took to grow a beard-put on some clothes with an episode of the Thinking Corner podcast in the background. Then, once he was taken care of, go into the kitchen of his studio apartment and fix up his pokemon’s breakfast—a bowl of fiery pebbles for Fiera and Fly By Feed for Icarus—before waking them up. Most trainers dealt with their pokemon waking them up instead; living with a soon-to-be twenty year old arcanine and a lazy murkrow meant he had to carry their mornings

Miguel liked this routine: it kept him focused and gave him a sense of control. Besides, tending to his pokemon became a small pleasure in his life over the last six months, even if Icarus always came out complaining about the sun being too bright or Miguel not feeding him enough.

As if on cue, Icarus squawked. “Mas!”

Miguel chuckled at this. “Bajale dos. Ya llevas tres tasas.” He slid Icarus’ bowl away from him and petted Fiera, who didn’t move her mouth away from the pellets she was chomping on.

“I think we’ve talked at length about the ways in which Lago PD has been confronting rising gang violence in the city. But what would you suggest a normal citizen could do?” his ears perked up from the podcast he was listening to on his phone.

“That’s a really good question, Nadia. Our focus has shifted quite a bit since the Blackwood shooting last month,” the guest replied. “I think the best people can do right now is to better inform themselves and others about the groups and movement combating this issue; gang violence doesn’t exist in a vacuum and it’s something we can’t fix unless everyone accepts that it’s the result of consequences carrying over from our parents’ and even grandparents’ time.”

“Oh, I agree completely, a lot of the time, people just see the violence but they don't think about the people behind it. These are problems that have been in our communities for generations, but historically Lago PD's methods of over-policing have never offered us the solution we needed. And recently, they've escalated to firing in every direction and hoping that'll fix things.” Miguel winced at the last sentence. Nadia’s voice wavered between casual and serious and her last declaration could set off the wrong reaction. Then again, she probably wouldn’t care either way.

“Exactly. That’s why we’re encouraging everyone interested to join us next week when we march through Rainbow Road. We hope that will open the public’s--and more importantly the city’s--eyes to the problems that Lago PD’s overreliance on pokemon and firearms, has spread.”

“Yeah, hopefully that’ll get them to stop talking about the Caliorn Conference for once,” Nadia joked, a slight chuckle escaping her and her guest after she said it. “Anyways, I’m really grateful you could join me today, Amelia. Would you like to remind our listeners about how they could get in contact with the Stop the Spread movement?”

“A high school radio or a podcast, you don’t pull your punches either way.” Miguel shook his head, his own chuckle escaping him.

Realizing he’d listened to the podcast far longer than he’d anticipated--Fiera was already turned over on the floor nodding off--Miguel paused it and pocketed the phone, noting that he had to finish it later and tell Nadia what he thought.

He proceeded to put on a pair of rings, an unzipped black hoodie, and a sun necklace over his plain tee. The necklace was actually Miguel’s Helios Badge, the first badge he’d gotten when he set out on his journey.

Finally, once he checked himself out in the living room mirror, he signaled for his pokemon to line up and allow him to return them to their pokeballs.

He noticed neighbors once he stepped out of his apartment; they were talking by the entrance to their apartment, although anything they said was drowned out by the heavy metal music bursting from the other side.

One of them--a woman with short purple hair--noticed him and smiled, with her male friend following her gaze and nodding to him. Not missing a beat, Miguel nodded back as he walked past them, leaving them to go back to their conversation.

Even with the dirty walls, broken floor tiles, an elevator that hadn’t worked for as long as Miguel remembered, and thin walls that left nothing to the imagination, it was still home, the place he’d lived with his mom and brother.

He made his way down from the third floor and through the courtyard where he saw Benito and Joaquin.The ten-year-old brothers had just obtained their class D licenses and were battling with their rattatas; it would’ve been cute if not for the adults laughing and drinking as they made bets on which one would win. Some of them glanced at him, only for their gazes to lower the moment they met Miguel’s.

That’s exactly how he wanted it, especially after Mr. Gonzales, sent out his machoke against his wife’s not-so-secret boyfriend last month. Miguel and Fiera had to step in to prevent the machoke—and, more importantly, his trainer—from going on a rampage.

Benito spotted him, his face lighting up the moment he recognized Miguel. “Yo, Miguel. When are we having that battle you keep promising!?” he called out, the sudden sound making his brother’s rattatta skid to a stop just before he could reach Benito’s.

Seeing the child’s glee drew out an involuntary chuckle from Miguel, who shook his head at the boy. “Nah, man. You’ll kick my ass...but maybe later,” he added with a wink as he went on his way not seeing Benito walk back and apologize to his annoyed twin brother.

Miguel finally reached his goal, a small stand in the complex’s vicinity. There was a crowd surrounding it, but he could still distinguish the sound of oil bouncing around in the fryer at the center of the crowd. Miguel noticed a way through the crowd from its left and carefully slid himself through it.

“Hey, Miguelito!” came Mr. Palmar’s voice as he turned away from the fryer. He was scooping up a pair of golden fried cylinder-shaped dough biscuits, cheese slowly peeking from the sides.

The sight of the tequeños—a traditional Venitian dish—immediately made Miguel’s mouth water, even as he saw the oil dripping from the strainer and remembered that he was trying to eat more healthy. Eh, he could burn it all later.

“How you doing, boy?” The man flashed him a kind smile as he dropped the cheese-stuffed biscuits into a brown plastic bag, oil seeping into it immediately.

“All good, Mr. Palmar. Coming for my daily dose,” Miguel replied, getting a laugh from the older man. He looked at the crowd around him, all Venitian citizens speaking Surean as they ate. Some broke off as soon as they got their bags, others ate as they caught up on their day to day.

“Aqui tienes.” Mr. Palmar waved another grease-stained bag in front of Miguel’s face. Miguel eyed the crowd. There were still a couple of people without bags and he knew they’d been there before him. “Don’t worry about it.” Mr.Palmarturned towards the crowd. “No les molesta, cierto?” he asked, to which he got a varying degree of nods in agreement.

Not being one to turn away an opportunity, Miguel grabbed the bag and handed Mr. Palmar a 200 uni bill. Then he got right down to eating, taking out one of the tequeños from the bag and biting into it. Flavor from the hot cheese immediately inundated his mouth, awakening his taste buds and causing him to pull his head back as the overwhelming taste washed over him.

“So, how’s business been over here?” Miguel asked as he continued eating. “I heard cops started popping around more.”

“Don’t remind me.” Mr. Palmar shook his head, his hand diving into a yellow bag positioned next to him. He pulled out a tray of raw tequeños and dropped them into the fryer, causing it to sizzle and send oil flying around the edges. “The assholes come out at night too, right when business is booming. I heard last night they took out Marcelo’s cart.”

Miguel nodded his head, eyes drawn to the portable fryer. Lago was strict when it came to who could serve food on the street, you needed a license--what didn’t you need one for?--and to opt for one you needed citizenship; not something first generation immigrants like Mr. Palmar and his family could get so easily. They were left alone for the most part, but whenever street activity increased, so did cops that wanted to make it seem like they were doing their job by cracking down on stands.

“You know, I could do deliveries if you want. They won’t bother me,” he offered, suddenly and without truly thinking about it; after all, he’d been born a Lagonian citizen himself.

“It’s okay, boy. I wouldn’t want you to get in trouble if I end up getting caught; I’m already worried enough about my daughter as is.”

Things went quiet between the two of them after that; Mr. Palmar went back to handling the food and customers while Miguel kept eating his breakfast, though he noticed Mr. Palmar’s gaze shifting to him every once in a while. Then, just as Miguel was about to throw his bag away in the trash can next to him, Mr. Palmar spoke.

“So, did you hear about last night?”

“Last night?”

“Your old friends the crows got into a brawl with Seventh’s Manectrics, or so I’m told.” Mr. Palmar’s voice was quiet, his eyes glanced at the crowd to check if someone else heard him. Most didn’t, with the ones that did choosing to ignore the comment instead.

Miguel stood quiet, processing the older man’s words. Then, his face started shifting into a frown, eyes involuntarily forming a glare as his arms tensed up. “What happened?” he asked, his voice now a few pitches lower and firmer.

Seeing the shift in the young man’s expression made Mr. Palmar regret his words, but he knew it was better to tell him than to hold back information. “The battle got heated and one of the Manectrics got killed…they say the new Team Murkrow leader pulled a gun on him.”

“I see…” Miguel’s voice trailed off as he put his hands in his pocket and took out another bill, handing it to Mr. Palmar. “Thanks for telling me.”

Just as he started to turn around the old man spoke once more. “Miguelito, don’t be rash. Otherwise you’ll--”

“I’ll be fine,” Miguel replied, though he didn’t turn back and his voice certainly didn’t sound as carefree as he would’ve hoped it would. “It’s them you should worry about,” he muttered as he pocketed his hands and walked off.

***

Team Murkrow’s rundown apartment building wasn’t a place he wanted to be. Its dilapidated walls, boarded up windows, and front entrance filled with newer members just lounging about were both familiar and also haunting for Miguel.

He’d been just like them before.

That thought crossed his head as he was escorted by a couple of Team Murkrow members--their own murkrows on their shoulders--up the stairs of the apartment complex. The sight of the uninhabited, dilapidated apartments bringing back memories of his own time as Team Murkrow’s leader. He’d resisted the responsibilities of the position all his life, even going so far as journeying through Caliorn.

But Team Murkrow was his family--he had the tattoo on his back to show for it--he’d believed in them, believed he could change them into something different, a place where those that felt abandoned could thrive and feel safe.

But that wasn’t how Lago worked; sooner or later its claws sank in. The violence between gangs, the violence from the police, the sight of his gang members beaten. It’d only left him with a cloud full of trauma and distrust from the rest of its members, especially Juan, who surely blamed Miguel for Team Murkrow’s loss of influence in the city.

Juan, that bastard who would pull a gun on someone knowing full well that Team Manetric wouldn’t stay quiet. Even after the fight they’d had when Miguel left--a fight Miguel won--he’d still go behind his back and get a gun.

The problem wasn’t just the gun--Miguel had seen enough violence to know a gun was hardly the only way to hurt someone. It was how Juan had gotten it. Firearms were outlawed for normal citizens due to their lethality to humans and most pokemon. If Juan found a dealer despite Lago PD’s best efforts, that meant so had the other gangs. Innocent people and pokemon would eventually get caught up in the cross-fire; he didn’t want that to happen.

On the fifth floor Miguel turned towards the apartment at the end of the hall, following the music that reverberated and made the walls bounce as they climbed the lower floors. A frown crossed his face, mind suddenly wondering what Juan might’ve done with the sofa and bookshelves he’d left when he retired; Miguel still hadn’t found a place for them in his apartment.

Stopping just before the apartment--and making sure his two escorts left already--Miguel’s right hand went for Icarus’ pokeball.

***

The studio apartment had changed in some ways and in others stayed the same. The mahogany book shelves he’d had on either side weren’t there anymore, which was at least better than them being in pieces.

The sofa had once held his extensive plushie collection and now looked barren even though two of Juan's lackeys sat there now. A portable speaker boomed from atop a cushion between them.

The one on the right end of the sofa, a girl with short black hair combed to the side, turned to him, allowing him to see the murkrow tattoo marking the left side of her cheek, with the tattoo’s eye being painted around her left eye.

On the left of the sofa was a stockier, male member, his brown hair in a ruffled afro. He wore a black t-shirt, allowing him to show off his arms and the murkrow tattoo on his right shoulder.

They both glared at Miguel for a moment, only for both their eyes to open wide as they realized who it was they were seeing.

The murkrows on their shoulders stood tense and let out a squawk, alerting Juan.

He was reclined with his feet on top of the mahogany desk that used to belong to Miguel’s brother.He didn’t wear a shirt, letting the whole world see the tattoo on the left side of his chest.

Miguel’s eyes fell on Juan, pent up anger beginning to spill out from his gut as he thought back to what Mr. Palmar told him.

At the other side of the room Juan clicked his tongue,reaching up to pause the speaker with his phone.

“A vaina, cuervito. What brings you here?” Juan finally addressed him, a slight smirk on his face; he knew why Miguel was there.

“Cut the bullshit, Juan,” Miguel spat back, clear disdain in his voice as he walked into the room. He glared at the crows on the sofa and then at Juan, who signaled for them to leave the room. They accepted his signal reluctantly and went around Miguel, though not without giving him a glare.

“Geez, man. Don’t see you in months and you come in waving your dick around.” Juan snickered, lowering his legs from the table as Miguel went deeper into the room. Miguel’s nose twitched as a wave of alcohol hit him.

“Someone has to.”

The two stared at each other for what seemed like minutes, with nothing but the sound of Juan’s murkrow picking at his feathers to break the silence. Eventually Juan’s bravado wore down, his suave demeanor replaced by a thumping foot--a sign of impatience Miguel’d grown accustomed to seeing--while Miguel crossed his arms and stood like a sagely tree in front of his ex-desk.

“Out with it!” Juan roared, startling his grooming murkrow.

“You know why I’m here,” Miguel replied harshly. “I heard about what happened last night. Figured you wouldn’t follow your word.”

Juan passed his hand over his head, leaning himself back against the chair as he let out a long sigh. “I knew it’d be bullshit.”

“We made a deal. “

“You think I give a fuck about our fucking deal, asshole?” Juan slammed his hand on the wooden desk, the smacking resounding throughout the room. “The other gangs started invading our territory, taking our members. We had to retaliate. That’s what Team Murkrow does.”

Juan leaned forward with a grin. “After all, it’s what your brother did.”

He had to say it didn’t he?

Miguel walked closer to the desk, eyes opened wide and laser-focused on the older man as he slammed his own hands onto the desk. “Guess what, birdbrain. I’m the one here in front of you, not my brother.”

“Careful, cuervito.” Juan said, voice lower, oozing with menace as he got his face closer to Miguel. “Because I’ve got something worse than what’s on your belt.”

As he said those last words, Juan leapt to his feet, raising the gun in his hand. It was a long silver barrel pistol with a black tinted, straightened, sharpedo skin hilt. Based on the size of the hole at the end of the barrel, Miguel deduced it was a Rock Piercer, perfect for damaging rock types and anything else he could aim at.

“Keep talking shit. Go on. Keep talking shit.” Juan gestured with the gun, his grip tightening around the handle. “You almost drove this gang to extinction when you were boss, and then you expected us to just sit back as it crumpled. We were mocked, treated like a bunch of has-beens. And why? Because of your bullshit crusade in trying to be a goodie-two-shoes.”

Miguel could’ve replied in many ways to Juan’s statement. He could remind him about what happened last year. How they’d lost ten members during his brother’s last job, how their little attempt at proving they were the bigger gang led to one of the city’s worst gang wars in history.

But that wouldn’t have been wise. It would just fan Juan’s flame and unearth Miguel’s trauma, and Arceus knew Miguel needed to keep his composure in that very moment, even as his nightmare came back into view.

“That’s still no reason to go around shooting people,” he replied, taking in a deep breath, hands raised at his side. “Who gave you the gun?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Juan’s smirk returned to his face. “Tell me why I shouldn’t bust a cap on you right now?”

“You’d lose a finger if you did.”

“What?” Juan raised an eyebrow.

A cloud of shadows materialized on Juan’s side.

Icarus’ head popped out of the shadows, beak clamping down on the gun and scooping it out of a startled Juan. Juan whipped his hand back. That was fortunate too; Miguel had been afraid he would involuntarily shoot.

Then, just as quickly as he appeared, Icarus disappeared into the shadows once more and reappeared above Miguel’s head, handing the gun to his trainer.

“Mamaguevo,” Icarus gloated while shooting Juan’s murkrow, a proud smirk.

Juan was still in shock, eyes darting around as he made sure his right hand still had all its fingers. “What the fuck!?” he finally uttered, bravado completely gone and replaced with heavy panting and quivering lips as he accidentally stepped back against the desk.

He saw his murkrow taking on a fighting stance from the corner of his eye but quickly signaled for him to stand down. Even if they were able to take out Icarus it would give Miguel enough time to release Fiera.

“Imagine if you’d shot me.” Miguel shrugged, effortlessly putting the safety back on and letting the bullets hit the floor with a clank as they slipped out of the chamber. “Now that would’ve been stupid.”

“What do you want?” he asked, shoulders tensing up.

Miguel passed the gun back to Icarus, allowing the murkrow to hide it amongst the shadows in its wings.

“I already told you. Who gave you this thing? And are there more?”

Juan got quiet—disturbingly quiet, in fact. His silence worried Miguel even more than his bragging.

“Speak up.” Miguel commanded.

Juan bit his lips as he glanced away from Miguel, hands clenched and shoulders slouched forward like a kid trying to keep a secret from his teacher.

“Fine,” Miguel said with a heavy sigh. “You don’t have to tell me who gave you the gun. Just tell me if there are more. Does Team Manetric have one? Do other gangs?”

“Not as far as I know…for now, at least,” Juan muttered, letting his body fall back on the chair. “Listen, cuervito. These people mean business. Whatever you want to turn Lago into…they won’t let you.”

“I’d like to see them try,” Miguel replied, his voice recovering that harsh tone he held back when he first came in. “As for you. No more gang fights. The next time I hear Team Murkrow’s starting shit, I won’t hesitate to feed your murkrow to Fiera for lunch.” Hearing this the murkrow flinched. Icarus flashed a sadistic smirk.

Juan groaned. “You really want this gang to die.”

“No, on the contrary. I want everyone here to live.”

Miguel turned around and began walking out of the room, only to stop right at the doorway. “By the way … who was it last night?”

“Why does it matter? El hijoeputa está muerto.”

With a pained expression Miguel replied, “Everyone leaves someone behind.”

End of Chapter 1

Next Time: A gangster’s pride
 
Last edited:

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. custom/moka-mark
  2. solrock
Hi-hi-hi. Here with some general thoughts up top and line-by-line comments below.

So we’ve met Keita and Miguel! We don’t know a ton about either yet. Keita works at the family’s restaurant, which is hard work, but we don’t know yet whether he has any bigger aspirations. I hope we get to see Keita make some of his own decisions soon, because that will tell us a lot about his character. So far, we’ve only seen him do things others have asked if him. Miguel is young yet in charge of a feared gang, and it sounds like we’re going to learn more about him next chapter. We don’t know yet why they have a bad reputation except that they were rowdy with Keita.

I do think you could drop more hints about the Murkrow Gang’s activities or rumored activities. I enjoyed some of the details we do have though, some nice physical descriptions of both the gang members and their building.

You’ve got some grammar hiccups, but I suspect a lot of them are because you’re writing in your second language. If I ever attempt to write something in Spanish, you can come after me in return haha.

I’ll be interested to see where you take this next!

1st Street: Fateful Meeting
Oh I like this structure! Is each chapter going to be a street?

It was nothing new for him;
You should plug in Keita’s name here. We get “Keita’s kirlia” before we get his name and it’s a little confusing.

the fragrant smell of spices wafting hitting his nostrils.
Which spices? This is a place where it might pay off to be more specific.

Clearly he’d have to note it down for his next drawing.
Oh is he an artist? I like that. You might be able to get more mileage out of that! How does this change what details he notices in the world around him? Is he thinking about what a lovely drawing something would be when he should be paying attention to the danger of the situation? Etc.

Next to him, Keita’s Kirlia, Link,
The inverse from above: I’d go with “his kirlia” here to avoid the alliteration, because it tripped me up a little.

Uh…aren’t we a little too busy?" the young man asked, glancing hesitantly at the frenzied crowd once more. Sometimes he wasn't sure if they were like Pokemon or if that was just how he had grown used to seeing them.
Being “like pokemon” doesn’t quite carry the same negative connotation as being like animals. I think you’ll have to get more specific about which pokemon.

Lago City was famous for two things.

The first was its wide variety of immigrant citizens that had come to Caliorn for a chance at "a better life".

The second was high-level of delinquency and disarray when said immigrants weren't able to fully cement themselves into the region. Nowhere did those two things stand out more than in parts like Calle Ocho in Lago’s Salvador Ward.
I want a little more of Keita’s opinions here, especially re: immigrants. Is his family native to the region? Is it his opinion that immigration is the cause of the conflicts, or is that just something commonly said?

I’d also love to get a better grasp of what a wide varieties of immigrants looks like. What are some of the ways we see that manifest?

The city's executives had abandoned the area. Sure, you'd hear them talk about renovating and "giving everyone a chance at a better life" around election time. But no change came and when it did it was only in the form of incomplete buildings and roads or maybe one or two fundraisers, only for the money of said fundraisers to mysteriously disappear, leaving an increase in police activity in its wake.
This checks out.

Many small street gangs or "Teams" as they so liked to call themselves –in honor of famously known criminal organizations around the world- also took roots along the alleys and streets of this area, with Calle Ocho being a focal point for it.
I think teams should be lower cased (just like gangs) but I like that detail. I don’t think you need “in honor of famously known criminal organizations around the world.” I think it’s implied because of fandom knowledge.

Or at least that's what he assumed was going through their heads, but in reality, no one did anything besides just steal a passing glance at him, children were still playing in the streets and a lot of adults were outside their apartments talking and laughing.
Long sentence! I’d break it into smaller sentences.

Keita, reluctantly raised his head—just now realizing he instinctively lowered it—and came into view with a skinny dark-skinned man.
“came into view with a skinny dark-skinned man” doesn’t quite work. I can’t tell who’s seeing whom. Suggestions: he caught sight of, he met the eyes of, he caught the gaze of ... etc.

He was wearing a bandanna on top of his head, which contrasted with the fact he had no shirt on, allowing him to show off the mural of tattoos on his chest, with the one that stood out the most being one in the shape of a Murkrow .
A little bit of clunky language here, though I like the details. (You’ve also got an extra space before the period.)

Suggestion: He was wearing a bandanna but no shirt, showing off the mural of tattoos on his chest, most notably a Murkrow with its wings spread across his collarbones.

Its top-hat looking crest made it all the more menacing
A little clunky. Part of my issue is that we already know what a murkrow’s crest looks like and part is that comparing it to a top hat sounds cute to me more than menacing. Maybe instead it flares its crest like cockatoos do?

Miguel who?" the man asked incredulously. "We're a mostly Hispanian gang, boy. We've got enough Miguels and Carloses to go around."
“We're a mostly Hispanian gang, boy.” This part reads awkwardly to me. For one, I think this hoes without saying. Secondly, it’s too close to “hispanic” to read as a region and instead sounds like a typo or something. The rest of this dialogue is nice though—the attitude comes through loud and clear.

“You’re weak, Keita”
Missing a period. I also usually skip quotations for inner monologue and remembered dialogue, but I think that’s personal preference.

I wonder what strength means both to him and to the person who told him this! Might be nice to get a hint of that sooner, because surely it’ll inform stupid choices he makes later.

He heard her voice inside his head and immediately did his best to bury the memories back down.
You can cut “back down” since bury already implies down. I also do want a little bit more clarity on who “her voice” refers to. I don’t think this is a useful ambiguity.

The halls were a mess, and there were apartments that had their doors removed, some of which lay broken on the floor.
This could be worded more concisely, but I like the image!

Suggestion: The halls were a mess. Several apartments were missing their doors, which lay broken on the floor.

The walls seemed to have an accumulation of humidity with black marks all over them. There were even ventilation holes that seemed too irregular to have been planned.
These two sentences are unclear. Is this mold and bullet holes or something else?

Should he be careful of what he said or even of how he came in?
I mean, yeah, my guy! Probably!

He didn't know what that meant, but he assumed it meant he could come in.
You could shorten this to “he assumed it meant he could come in,” since assume implies he doesn’t actually know.

a few Pokemon pillows and plushies scattered on either side.
This makes him sound young! (Which I wrote before the confirmation that he is lol.) Might be nice to get a reaction from Keita here.

Lastly there was the end of the hall, where a large, wooden, business desk stood with two leather chairs in front of them.

The closer Keita got to the desk also allowed him to see the person sitting behind it.
Suggestion: Finally, at the end of the hall stood a large, [serious/oak/ornate/heavy] desk and two leather chairs. The person seated at the desk was hidden in shadow, but the closer Keita walked the more clearly he could see them.

the male, which sounded pretty young, groaned in annoyance.
We can already tell he’s annoyed by the content of his words. You could more efficiently tell us his gender by dropping in he/him pronouns. So that gives us something like:
“[dialogue,]” he groaned. He sounded young.

I’m also wondering at a kid who’s dressed like a trainer and who has a real pokemon choosing instead to play a game about pokemon.

tanned, slightly brown
Redundant.

Lastly, he was wearing a pair of fingerless gloves, with one of them having a piece of tape over the center of it.
Suggestion: And like any self-respecting trainer, he wore fingerless gloves, one of them taped across the knuckles.
It doesn’t have to be that, but we could use a bit more of Keita’s personality and biases in the descriptions throughout the chapter.

The one thing that did give away his association with Team Murkrow was the aforementioned bird perched on his shoulder however.
Suggestion: The only thing about him that gave him away as a gang member was the murkrow perched on his shoulder.

It would also be nice to get some physicality from the murkrow! Is it glaring at Keita? Pointedly ignoring him? Pecking at Miguel’s ear for attention?

On that moment,
* At that moment

I also need more about how the gears in his mind are turning for this to land. I have zero idea what kind of conclusion he’s drawing, and it would be helpful to know.

Next Time: The Little Crow
I like this chapter title and the teaser of what’s coming next!
 

Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
Partners
  1. dratini
Here thanks to some shilling by OSJ! I liked the scene-setting in this opening chapter—little details like the well-tended white scooter, his father's flipping prowess. Keita's fear of going into the Calle Ocho sector combined with his vexation about the fact that his family would get a new renter soon felt like a realistic blend of emotions. The world feels nicely lived in, with the tensions between regions and ethnicities. I appreciated your choice to not translate the Spanish—it makes sense, since Keita's not understanding the conversation.

The pokemon elements so far feel ornamentational—the murkrow could easily be tame crows and have the same effect. That's not a criticism! There's enough going on here with the characters and setting to pull me in without needing the added context of pokemon. Keita's a sympathetic POV and the chapter sets up just enough of a mystery—who is this mysterious Miguel? Why did he order Johtonian food? Why don't his henchmen know his name? When are they going to kiss?—to make me interested in reading chapter two. Curious to see where you'll be taking this!

People walked, yelled and laughed as they gathered to enjoy their lunch and drinks while others were simply trying to get through the background noise to order their food.
"Walked" is a bit of an odd verb choice here. I don't think of people walking while they eat lunch. Even people waiting for their orders might "mill about" or "pace" but probably not just walk.

It was nothing new for him;
Should be "nothing new to him." This feels like a good place to introduce Keita's name. "It was nothing new to Keita."

He shuffled through the crowd; senses working overtime as he kept his eyes peeled and his ears sharp for any customer that needed his attention.
Semicolons are for connecting two independent clauses ie that could stand on their own. Here, "senses working overtime . . ." is a dependent clause, so you can need a comma. "He shuffled through the crowd, keeping his eyes and ears peeled for any customer that needed his attention."

"Two more 52s for table 4 dad!"
Direct address requires a comma and a capital letter: "Two more 52s for table four, Dad!"

Dad is capitalized here because it's acting like a name.

the fragrant smell of spices wafting hitting his nostrils. He sniffed the air, a smile crossing his face in turn.
Seems like you've got an extra word here with "wafting." I think you could cut "in turn."

He seamlessly balanced his signature wok, making the fried berried rice dance in the air as he shook it with a spoon. It was a sight to behold from afar, the way in which the grains lifted off into the air only for them to fall back in such a controlled and well-kept fashion. It was beautiful and inspiring.
I really enjoy how impressed Keita is by his father's artistry in cooking. The way you describe this is a bit confusing, though. I think what his dad is doing is moving the wok so that the rice lifts into the air, but I don't see where the spoon comes in.

Next to him, Keita’s Kirlia, Link, was using telekinesis to float the knives around and chopping vegetables and meats for his dad.
Introducing Keita's name and Link's name at the same time crowds the sentence. I think it would be more effective if you gave us Keita's name earlier.

The way this is written sounds like Link is using telekinesis to float knives around, and, unrelatedly, chopping vegetable and meats. Something like, "Next to him, Keita's kirlia, Link, was using his telekinesis to chop vegetables and meats. The knives floated up and down almost too quickly for Keita's eye to follow."

Her face was completely covered in sweat and her hair was sticking close to her forehead; which didn’t make for a good combination of kitchen smells that stuck to her.
I was a bit confused here. She's coming in from the dining side of the restaurant, so why are the smells kitchen smells? I got the sense that Keita finds the kitchen smells pleasant.

His unkempt black hair and beard was a standout amongst the customers, along with his bulging eyes and twisted face in anger.
Maybe, "His unkempt black hair and beard were eye-catching, but what really made him stand out were his bulging eyes and the anger twisting his face."

"I'll be right with you sir!" his mom didn’t miss a beat, trying hard to hide the antagonism in her voice as she turned back to him.
A separate sentence after dialogue gets capitalized. "His mom . . ."

"Uh…aren’t we a little too busy?" the young man asked, glancing hesitantly at the frenzied crowd once more.
The epithet is a little jarring here. I'd stick with Keita over "the young man."

We can handle things here, oh and take Link along, okay?” she explained, her voice becoming more worried, that tipped Keita off.

“Link?” Keita asked in confusion.
Since he doesn't seem to put the implication together until the next paragraph, you may want to cut "that tipped Keita off."

Yet, he couldn’t protest, the restaurant had taken a big hit from losing two employees and a tax increase, they hadn’t been able to find someone else to take over the deliveries.
This is a comma splice--you've actually got three independent sentences here that can't be connected by just commas.

1) Yet, he couldn’t protest.

2) The restaurant had taken a big hit from losing two employees and a tax increase.

3) They hadn’t been able to find someone else to take over the deliveries.

It would read a little more logically to me if this info were presented, "Yet, he couldn't protest. The restaurant had taken a big hit from the recent tax increase. They'd had to cut down on wages, losing two of their employees, and at the lower price, they'd been unable to find someone to take over deliveries."

"I'll get going." he nodded.
"He nodded." is a separate sentence coming after dialogue, and gets capitalized.

A good part of living in a restaurant was that you were always surrounded by tasty food. The bad part? You couldn't eat it for yourself.
Nice rhythm here. For parallelism, think it would read better as "The good part . . ."

He walked over to a small white scooter parked on the side of the restaurant. It was an old model and the seat had lost its coloring, but his mom kept it spotless.
I like this detail! A bit curious what it looks like when a white scooter loses its coloring. What color is it now?

As he sat down the idea of riding to Calle Ocho on a small scooter filled with East Johtonean food began to crawl into his head. He also realized he hadn't written out a will.
Heh! Nice dose of humor.

The city's executives had abandoned the area. Sure, you'd hear them talk about renovating and "giving everyone a chance at a better life" around election time. But no change came and when it did it was only in the form of incomplete buildings and roads or maybe one or two fundraisers, only for the money of said fundraisers to mysteriously disappear, leaving an increase in police activity in its wake.
Sadly realistic worldbuilding here. I'm not sure if "executives" is the word you're going for--implies corporate to me. Maybe just the city's leadership?

Dirty streets and worn down buildings were the norms.
Very minor thing, but it should be "the norm."

–in honor of famously known criminal organizations around the world-
🙃

but in reality, no one did anything besides just steal a passing glance at him, children were still playing in the streets and a lot of adults were outside their apartments talking and laughing.
Comma splice again here.

1) but in reality, no one did anything besides just steal a passing glance at him.
2) Children were still playing in the streets and a lot of adults were outside their apartments talking and laughing.

His mind immediately went to thoughts of moving out of home, in the off-chance he made it back alive.
*on the off-chance

Keita, reluctantly raised his head—just now realizing he instinctively lowered it—and came into view with a skinny dark-skinned man.
Not sure why there's a comma after Keita here?

"came into view" makes this sound like it's happening from the dark-skinned man's perspective. Maybe, "and saw a skinny dark-skinned man standing over him."

its Trainers shoulders
Trainer is a common noun and doesn't need to be capitalized.

Cause if so then they're getting a beating for not sharing!” he yelled out, issuing more mockery and laughter and causing Keita to clench onto the handles of his scooter as tight as he could.
"issuing more mockery and laughter" isn't really clearly. Is this the reaction he's getting from the other men? Maybe, "he yelled out, spurring on more mockery and laughter from the watching men and . . ."

"I-I came to deliver the food…t-this is the address they gave me in the order," he finally replied, though it was mostly inward than anything.
Not sure what "it was mostly inward" means here. That implies he's saying it inside his head? But it sounds like that's not the case. Do you just mean that he's speaking quietly?

"Callate la jeta es lo que es, Miguelito!" the man called out, his voice violent and made the other gang member sit back down in fear.
"made" has no subject here. You could say, "the man called out, his violent voice making the other gang members sit back down in fear."

Keita nodded his head. He was in disbelief of the fact he'd be able to deliver the food in the end.
"was in disbelief of the fact" is a bit of a long-winded construction. Something like "He couldn't believe he'd be able" would be more immediate.

However, just as he stood up and grabbed the bag, he saw Juan pull his scooter back and swiftly sneak his hand on his belt, grabbing his pokeball.
I couldn't follow what's happening here. Is Juan grabbing the pokeball right off of Keita's own belt? That feels like an invasion of personal space that would be pretty scary and require a bit more detail.

“You’re weak, Keita”
Need a period here!

All those thoughts and more flooded Keita's head as he stood in front of the room.
Think the previous sentence would be a stronger end to the paragraph. This restatement weakens the effect for me--I think you could cut it.

the male, which sounded pretty young, groaned in annoyance.
This sentence needs to be capitalized. "The man" would read less awkwardly than the male. Should be "who" instead of "which" since he's a person.

He was wearing a white and orange hoodie, the center pocket of the hoodie had a white pokeball symbol that matched with the similar logo on his black beanie.
Comma splice here.

1) He was wearing a white and orange hoodie.
2) The center pocket of the hoodie had a white pokeball symbol that matched the similar logo on his black beanie.

Lastly, he was wearing a pair of fingerless gloves, with one of them having a piece of tape over the center of it.
The proper construction here is "gloves, one of which had a piece of tape over its center."

The one thing that did give away his association with Team Murkrow was the aforementioned bird perched on his shoulder however.
The "however" at the end of the sentence is a bit redundant.

Instead, he just stared in awe for a few more seconds before finally mustering up a sentence.
Awe is big emotion!

On that moment, the gears started turning.
*at that moment

Personal preference, but for me "the gears began to turn" has more of a feeling of a chapter closer.
 

Flaze

Don't stop, keep walking
Location
Chile
Pronouns
he/him
Partners
  1. infernape
Hello!

I'm making the post as a bit of a bump to the thread and also to make an open declaration. Chapter 1 of this story has been completely and utterly rewritten from scratch, mostly as an attempt at trying to create a better start that would allow me to properly start the story and give a better idea of what I want to go with from the start.

I wholeheartedly apologize to anyone that might've read the old chapter one, I pondered on this change a lot as I don't want anyone to feel like they wasted their time in reading the original version. Regardless, I hope that if you are interested in following this story you could still give the new chapter 1 a try because I think it's a lot better now :)

I also wanted to take this chance to thanks everyone that read and commented on the original chapter 1 and to say that I tried to take a lot of corrections and criticisms into account for this one. I can't say all of them have been applied just yet but I'll still go back to the new chapter 1 and revise it even more.

And well with that said uh....have a good day and I hope you all enjoy the review blitz.
 

kintsugi

golden scars
Location
waiting for the fog to roll out
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. silvally-grass
  2. lapras
  3. golurk
Definite shake-up from the first few iterations here! Big edits. I like the switch in focus to Miguel--this definitely wasn't what I thought the story was going to be about based on Keita's chapter, but starting off here makes it pretty obvious that we're going to get into questions of generational violence, policing, community--good shit, haha, and I do really like it when a story wears its heart on its first chapter sleeve especially when the next one won't come for five more years.

Miguel's a really interesting character as well! I love the broken badass trope; I like that he's always acting like he's got things under control and sometimes he does and sometimes he certainly doesn't. It's fun to see someone so entangled with this violence having to go back and confront it, and I wonder how much that ties to your "it isn't something we can fix until we acknowledge it's the result of problems carrying on from our parents/grandparents" line that got added in--surely Miguel can blame a lot of people, himself included, but now that he's acknowledged there are a lot of problems, can he find a solution?

The ending lines are really strong here and I love how the second half of the tension builds up to them. I get a really strong sense of Miguel in those last two lines ("everyone leaves someone behind"/"I want everyone here to live")--it's a little dramatic but I am HERE FOR IT. Impossible compassion in the worst of times is such a good mood for a 2020 character, lol.

Loved the little bits of worldbuilding and the flourishes on the gangs, the street food, carts needing licenses--this really helped make Lago feel alive and bustling, which is probably important given that it's shaping up to be the heart of the conflict, lol. Really nice job and I'm glad that you're excited about the new chapter direction, because I am too! gud fic plz update

gosh tho who's your beta I have so many questions for them about these bits:
It’s your fault

His hands were covered in blood, the blood of other trainers and pokemon, the blood he’d been ordered to shed
dropped some punctuation here--I think if you want to make them more interjectiony, you could do with italics, but as-is they just feel like you've dropped some periods.

only to be met with his deddene plushie
It's spelled "dedenne", but pokemon names are bullshit.

Icarus--his murkrow--was perched on his bed frame.
BEST BOY.

a bowl of fiery pebbles for Fiera and Fly By Feed for Icarus
'
I love the attention to branding in the world, but I wasn't sure why "fiery pebbles" was lowercase but "Fly By Feed" wasn't.

twenty year old arcanine
you'll want "twenty year-old" or "twenty-year-old" here

living with a soon-to-be twenty year old arcanine and a lazy murkrow meant he had to carry their mornings
Also a beautiful image haha. How long do arcanine live :( I am suddenly nervous
Dropped a period here.

“I think we’ve talked at length about the ways in which Lago PD has been confronting rising gang violence in the city. But what would you suggest a normal citizen could do?” his ears perked up from the podcast he was listening to on his phone.
The punctuation is a bit wonky here--"his ears perked up" isn't modifying the dialogue, so it should be capitalized as "His ears perked up". I also think the phrasing is "perked up at", not "perked up for", but that one's a little more subjective.

his own chuckle escaping him.
a slight chuckle escaping her and her guest after she said it
Pointed this out in beta but the double chuckle escape seems a bit strange here; might be more useful to rephrase one of them.

One of them--a woman with short purple hair--noticed him and smiled, with her male friend following her gaze and nodding to him.
I think this one could still be streamlined, too:
> "One of them--a woman with short purple hair--noticed him and smiled. Her male friend followed her gaze and nodded to him."

Mr.Palmarturned towards the crowd.
dropped a space between "Palmar" and "turned"

They both glared at Miguel for a moment, only for both their eyes to open wide as they realized who it was they were seeing.

The murkrows on their shoulders stood tense and let out a squawk, alerting Juan.
damn these murkrow guards are shitty lol

At the other side of the room Juan clicked his tongue,reaching up to pause the speaker with his phone.
Dropped a space after "tongue"
 

Flyg0n

Flygon connoisseur
Pronouns
She/her
Partners
  1. flygon
Here for my catnip!

I have to say, I was definitely apprehensive when I first saw this story. I tend to be rather vanilla and simplistic when it comes to my pokemon stories. That said, I am rather impressed with what I see so far. I never read the first version, so everything I say is based on what I see before me.

To begin with, I'll talk about your 'worldbuilding'. I think you did a good job for a first chapter, setting up what the world looks like. It seems like this new region is pretty rough. Gangs seem very common in this area, as is violence. Run down apartments, dilapidated areas, and rough neighborhoods. It paints a tough picture for sure.

I also really enjoyed the perspective you chose. I feel like you did a good job creating a picture of Miguel and his character. Rough around the edges, and tough. Yet clearly had an experience that changed him, and tried to make his area of the world a little better. I also enjoyed his fleshed out interactions with the people around him. You used body language to convey something specific, like the respect he seems to command in his neighborhood.

You also did good setting up the themes that you will be using in this story. I can definitely see how you've introduced political things, generational struggles, and violence. I'll be interested to see how you explore these going further.


The biggest thing I noticed flaw wise is some odd comma placements. I'm not a grammar expert, so I can't say for sure sometimes which parts are definitively wrong, but I did notice some stuff that I think is off.

Now, to discuss some more line by line commentary.

It’s your fault.
Formatting wise, I think putting 'It's your fault' in italics would help, since it seems to be a direct thought.

His hands were covered in blood, the blood of other trainers and pokemon, the blood he’d been ordered to shed

Her cream-colored mane was stained red, masking her in the flames around her due to her already overwhelmingly orange fur.
The flow of this particular sentence reads a little stiff to me. I had to read it twice to get the gist in my head. (could just be my slow brain though).
'Red stained her cream-colored mane, blending with her orange fur and masking her in the flames around her.'
or something to that effect.

Deep inside those flames, was a circle of corpses, their skin slowly burning and crisping away, letting out a cloud of dark, foul-smelling, smoke.
I'd say you can eliminate the word 'was' in this sentence to make it pack more of a punch.
"Deep inside those flames a circle of corpses burned, their skin slowly crisping away, letting out a cloud of dark, foul-smelling, smoke."
Or if you want to word it a little differently without the was.

With newly regained stability he began to gently move his hand across Fiera’s fur, eliciting a soft hum from her.
the word 'move' here feels a little on the weak side for a verb. As does the use of 'across'. It paints a picture of a very robotic and emotionless movement.
In my opinion, 'ran his hands through'? or 'stroked' might paint a little better picture.

Then, once he was taken care of, go into the kitchen of his studio apartment and fix up his pokemon’s breakfast—a bowl of fiery pebbles for Fiera and Fly By Feed for Icarus—before waking them up.
So this confused me. I thought his pokemon were already awake, but now he mentions that as part of his routine he has to go wake them up. Did they go back to bed?

“I think we’ve talked at length about the ways in which Lago PD has been confronting rising gang violence in the city. But what would you suggest a normal citizen could do?” his ears perked up from the podcast he was listening to on his phone.
So the sentence "his ears perked up from the podcast he was listening to on his phone." Needs to be moved to its own line. The way it's formatted here implies Miguel was the one who said the previous sentence, when really its the podcaster speaking.

And recently, they've escalated to firing in every direction and hoping that'll fix things.” Miguel winced at the last sentence.
Same as above, when you put dialogue and a sentence following, it implies the person said the dialogue. Miguel is just listening here so his reactions need to be on a separate line.

The necklace was actually Miguel’s Helios Badge, the first badge he’d gotten when he set out on his journey.
I thought this was a neat detail to add in, but I feel like one more sentence could help even more. Maybe something like 'The badge served as a reminder of simpler days'. Or whatever. The idea is just that a sentence hinting at why he wears his badge all the time would add a nice touch. Does it remind him of someone? Is it a status symbol? Maybe the helios badge is difficult to earn.

he went on his way not seeing Benito walk back and apologize to his annoyed twin brother.
Seeing as I think you're writing in third-person limited, mentioning that he didn't see Benito apologize seems pointless. If he didn't see it, then you don't have to mention it. Unless you're veering more towards omniscient. Alternatively, maybe he doesn't see it, but perhaps he hears it.
'As he walked away, he heard a mumbled apology from Benito to his annoyed twin.'

Also, the word 'went' here doesn't really describe much. Was he walking? ambling? Swaggering? Honestly, verbs like 'went' and 'moved' and such feel very flat and jars me, so I have a difficult time picturing the scene in my head.

The sofa had once held his extensive plushie collection and now looked barren even though two of Juan's lackeys sat there now. A portable speaker boomed from atop a cushion between them.
Somehow the picture of a hardened gang member having a plushie collection is delightfully adorable. Some might say unrealistic but tbh I really love it. Now I want pictures of his plushie collection. How big is it? Which plushes? This is extremely exciting and for some reason, I think would just make a hilariously adorable piece of artwork.
Anyway, I just loved this tidbit.

Juan snickered, lowering his legs from the table as Miguel went deeper into the room.
Another use of the word went. Even if you don't want to overuse vivid descriptors like 'swagger' (which you shouldn't overuse), 'walked' still feels a little more emphatic.

Miguel walked closer to the desk, eyes opened wide and laser-focused on the older man as he slammed his own hands onto the desk.
Personally, I'd use 'stepped closer to the desk' instead of walked. But that's mostly my opinon.

As he said those last words, Juan leapt to his feet, raising the gun in his hand. It was a long silver barrel pistol with a black tinted, straightened, sharpedo skin hilt. Based on the size of the hole at the end of the barrel, Miguel deduced it was a Rock Piercer, perfect for damaging rock types and anything else he could aim at.
I really love this series of sentences.
First, I love the description of a 'sharpedo' skin hilt. I imagine its a bit rough but must enable a strong grip (give how Sharpedo's have rough skin). I also am fascinated because this means there's illegal poaching and killing of sharpedos to use their skin I assume. It's a fascinating world detail.

As is the implications of a 'Rock Piercer', big boy weapons designed for piercing rock-types hides. Very intriguing. Also adds detail that Miguel is able to identify the gun easily, which fleshes out his character further.

Miguel passed the gun back to Icarus, allowing the murkrow to hide it amongst the shadows in its wings.

“I already told you. Who gave you this thing? And are there more?”
Move the dialogue to the same line as Miguel giving the gun to Icarus. Keeping it on a separate line implies it's a different speaker.

Also, now I'm curious about the size difference between the gun and Murkrow. I know the size of an average glock pistol. And I assume a 'Rock Piercer' is larger still. Maybe close to a Desert Eagle? Given the size of a Murkrow, I did struggle a bit to picture this. Unless him hiding it the shadows means he basically slipped it into hammerspace/shadow pocket dimension.

None of this is a negative per se, but it does make me curious.

With a pained expression Miguel replied, “Everyone leaves someone behind.”
This is a good, revealing quote. I like it!

That concludes my thoughts. I thought you did a great job building atmosphere, introducing characters, and using distinctive language. My only real criticisms are with some small grammar stuff, a few moments of word choice, and comma usage. (Which honestly I suck at commas sometimes). Other than that I actually don't have much story criticisms. Even though this type of story is far removed from the stuff I usually enjoy, I thought it was very good and still captured my interest, which is saying something.

I do have some questions though! Icarus seems to talk a lot. Are you borrowing from the fact that crows can imitate human speech to say that Murkrow can speak human? Can all bird pokemon do this? How much understanding of human language do Pokemon possess? How much does Icarus possess? Is there a reason he seems to speak solely 'Surean'?

I'm also rather intrigued to know a tad more about Caliorn region. (Understandably I don't expect you to cram it all in the first chapter.) What are there gyms like? And the rest of the region. Do you have a map for it?

To conclude, the highlight of this story so far for me is the atmosphere. All the small details and interactions come together to paint a solid picture. I feel like I can see, hear, smell, and touch everything you've mentioned, which is downright impressive.

I think that covers it. Very good job, keep up the great work!
 
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Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
Partners
  1. dratini
Flaze, I super enjoyed this! It's a big change from the first version, and I think it really works. Starting with Miguel's POV lets us get thrown in a lot more quickly, and gives us some context to appreciate when Keita wanders into all of this. (Which I am hype for.)

Miguel's an instantly likable narrator. His relationship with his pokemon comes through loud and clear, and his interactions with his neighbors were really endearing, particularly the rattata kids and his offer to help out Mr. Palmar. I get the sense he's been in a rut for a while--kind of curious what he's been up to the past six months. Working part time somewhere, at least? And I am curious about his badge/trainer experience and how that's played into his life and leadership of the crows.

You have a real knack for snappy, realistic dialogue. Miguel's conversation with Mr. Palmar vs with Juan showed different sides of his personality in a way that feels really natural. The character voices also feel distinct, especially Juan as compared to Miguel. I liked the way you used things like the way they decorate their space to show off their personalities.

The world-building is also juicy. Lots of hints of ethnic tension and generational conflict, questions about how the law turns people into criminals, and in general, the world feels very lived-in. I really like that we meet some normal people before we head over to the crows. Makes the city feel like it's not just a backdrop for the Murkrow Gang, but a place they happen to live in.

The ending line is so good--really ties the chapter together and tells us what this story's about. Death isn't an end--it's a beginning.

Line-by-lines (lots of prose rewrites because I got excited; invite me to the google doc sandbox next time, lol.)

It’s your fault.

Screams pierced through shrouded skies, smoke rising from the ground around the bodies littering the floor.
Strong opening line.

Smoke piercing through skies doesn't quite add up for me. Perhaps, "Screams pierced the smoke-shrouded skies; bodies littered the floor."

He tried walking forward but found himself reeling as forced coughs came out of his smoke-filled lungs.
Might be more direct to say, "He tried walking forward, but a coughing fit sent him reeling."

the blood he’d been ordered to shed
Ordered, huh? That's interesting--I thought he was the gang leader? I wonder who was giving him orders. (The brother . .?)

With a gasp he threw his head back and heaved, using all the strength he could muster to get up.
I hadn't realized he was on the ground? The earlier line about him trying to walk forward makes it sound like he's standing.

Fiera, his arcanine, laid limp just out of his reach.
"Fiera, his arcanine, lay limp, just out of his reach."

Her cream-colored mane was stained red, masking her in the flames around her due to her already overwhelmingly orange fur.
Hm, I feel like only in anime could flames mask a body due to color alone.

the sea of smoke and screams
the sea of corpses
A lot of seas here. I prefer to the former usage of the two. Sea of corpses is a bit of a cliche.

He covered his mouth with his hands, only to feel the wet blood on his palms, warm and dripping like water.
I think this moment would be more powerful if you didn't mention blood being on his hands earlier. Let it really hit us right here. The sensory details in this moment are more vivid than the first mention anyway.

He pressed his face hard against his hands, so hard that he felt he was going to tear a hole through it. And then, with all the rage, grief and horror he could muster, he let out an ear splitting scream.

He flew forward, his arm swinging back and hitting the nightstand next to his bed. His eyes bulged; his heart beat against his chest like an electric type about to discharge a thunderbolt.
I really like the simile about his heart about to discharge a thunderbolt-totally captures that feeling of a whizzing, racing heart.

I'm not quite sure how we go from screaming to him flying forward? What's motivating that in the dream-sequence?

The scream didn’t let up, even as the image faded away from him and the orange hues and smoke were replaced by darkness and walls.
Hm, does this imply he's still screaming? That's the kind of thing that ceases really quickly when you wake up. The image of someone waking up and still screaming is a little too close to comical for me.

That blood running down his face, those screams drowning out his ears; it made his cold-sweated skin crawl.
"cold-sweated skin" isn't really a thing. You can break out in cold sweat, your skin can crawl, but the combo doesn't really work. You mention goosebumps in the line below as well. Goosebumps imply cold, but sweat implies hot. Maybe go with one or the other?

As he took in his surroundings the goosebumps were replaced by a new feeling, a softness around his hand that jolted him out of his stupor.
Comma needed--> As he took in his surroundings, the goosebumps were replaced by a new feeling, a softness around his hand that jolted him out of his stupor.

Fiera was rubbing her mane against him, her scar-covered right eye facing him and a whimper escaping her mouth.
Ah, good doggo!

I see that you're trying to highlight the scarred eye, but the fact that it's facing him isn't really something it feels natural for the narrative to comment on. Maybe give a reason to mention the eye, like a gesture or emotion? Like, "Fiera was rubbing her mane against him, concern in her scarred right eye. A whimper escaped her mouth."

Once his heart and panting slowed he let his body gently fall back on his pillow, with his beating heart, Fiera’s soft mane and the dull sense of pain in his hand anchoring him to reality.
You mention the heart-beat twice here, both as a symptom of his stress and then as an anchor.

Maybe, "He fell back against his pillow as his heart-rate began to slow, letting Fiera’s soft mane and the dull sense of pain in his hand anchor him to reality."

After recovering his breath he was startled by movement from behind him, only to be met with his deddene plushie falling on his face and rolling off onto the bed.
Aw, he has plushies! Is this his childhood bed?

“Perdon, Icarus. Es otra de esas noches,” he replied; Icarus didn’t let up his gaze.
Don't think you need a semicolon over a period here.

“Just another one of those nights.” He repeated in Aeonian.
Enjoying the way you're balancing spanish and English.

--since the day he left Team Murkrow--
wow nice double hyphens you have there, would be a shame if someone were to make them into em dashes 👀

Those nightmares had been going on and off in Miguel’s head for the last six months--since the day he left Team Murkrow--like spectres haunting his dreams.
Nightmares haunting dreams doesn't quite work for me.

Maybe, "The nightmares had haunted Miguel’s sleep for the last six months--since the day he left Team Murkrow."

Six months is a long time! What's he been up to? The rest of the interactions don't make it feel like six months to me--maybe only one or two at most.

The problem wasn’t the nightmares after all, but what they represented.

The day his brother betrayed him.
Dun dun dun! Loving these punchy section closers.

Get up, shower, shave--he’d rather shave the five hair that came out everyday than wait however long it took to grow a beard-put on some clothes with an episode of the Thinking Corner podcast in the background.
Interesting character detail. Suggests a bit of an impatient personality, perhaps?

Then, once he was taken care of, go into the kitchen of his studio apartment and fix up his pokemon’s breakfast—a bowl of fiery pebbles for Fiera and Fly By Feed for Icarus—before waking them up. Most trainers dealt with their pokemon waking them up instead; living with a soon-to-be twenty year old arcanine and a lazy murkrow meant he had to carry their mornings
This confused me. He doesn't need to wake them up, we just saw that they're up? If you're describing his general routine, it's a bit odd to do so in a way that clashes with what we just read.

Miguel liked this routine: it kept him focused and gave him a sense of control. Besides, tending to his pokemon became a small pleasure in his life over the last six months, even if Icarus always came out complaining about the sun being too bright or Miguel not feeding him enough.
I liked how his pokemon are helping anchor and get him through this.

As if on cue, Icarus squawked. “Mas!”
Hah, Icarus is a darling.

But what would you suggest a normal citizen could do?” his ears perked up from the podcast he was listening to on his phone.
His should be capitalized. It's an independent sentence.

gang violence doesn’t exist in a vacuum and it’s something we can’t fix unless everyone accepts that it’s the result of consequences carrying over from our parents’ and even grandparents’ time.”
Do I sense . . . themes?? Looking forward to learning more about Lago's history and the scars it leaves on the present.

We hope that will open the public’s--and more importantly the city’s--eyes to the problems that Lago PD’s overreliance on pokemon and firearms, has spread.”
This sentence is phrased in a way that seems more formal and convoluted than normal podcast speech.

Maybe, "We hope that will open the public’s--and more importantly the city’s--eyes to the problems spread by Lago PD’s overreliance on pokemon and firearms.”

Realizing he’d listened to the podcast far longer than he’d anticipated--Fiera was already turned over on the floor nodding off--Miguel paused it and pocketed the phone, noting that he had to finish it later and tell Nadia what he thought.
Oh, does he know her personally? I wonder how they met. Does she have a gang background too?

The necklace was actually Miguel’s Helios Badge, the first badge he’d gotten when he set out on his journey.
Fun detail. That suggests he's proud of it. I could use another line or so just to give some context on how long he was on his pokemon journey and what significance that has in this world.

Finally, once he checked himself out in the living room mirror, he signaled for his pokemon to line up and allow him to return them to their pokeballs.
These details felt a little unnecessary. I also wonder why he has to recall them. Bird can perch on shoulder; dog is dog. Do they freak people out, or something?

He noticed neighbors once he stepped out of his apartment; they were talking by the entrance to their apartment, although anything they said was drowned out by the heavy metal music bursting from the other side. One of them--a woman with short purple hair--noticed him and smiled, with her male friend following her gaze and nodding to him. Not missing a beat, Miguel nodded back as he walked past them, leaving them to go back to their conversation.
This felt a little wordy. Maybe, "He stepped outside. His neighbors were chatting in the hallway, though the heavy metal music blasting from another apartment drowned out their words. One of them--a woman with short purple hair--noticed him and smiled. Miguel nodded back as he walked past, leaving them to go back to their conversation.

Even with the dirty walls, broken floor tiles, an elevator that hadn’t worked for as long as Miguel remembered, and thin walls that left nothing to the imagination, it was still home, the place he’d lived with his mom and brother.
Seems like Miguel hasn't been able to move on in a lot of ways. I know something bad happened with the brother, but where is Mom?

He made his way down from the third floor and through the courtyard where he saw Benito and Joaquin.
"He made his way down from the third floor and into the courtyard, where he saw Benito and Joaquin."

class D licenses
Now you're speaking my language

The ten-year-old brothers had just obtained their class D licenses and were battling with their rattatas; it would’ve been cute if not for the adults laughing and drinking as they made bets on which one would win.
Really nice scene-setting here.

Is cute the word you want? I feel like their battle could still be cute even with the not-so-cute bystanders. Maybe, "the scene would’ve been wholesome if not for the adults laughing and drinking as they made bets on which one would win."

Some of them glanced at him, only for their gazes to lower the moment they met Miguel’s.
I think the idea here is that they're looking over, realizing oh it's miguel, and then looking away?

Maybe, "Some of them glanced over, only to hastily avert their eyes when they realized who had joined them."

That’s exactly how he wanted it, especially after Mr. Gonzales, sent out his machoke against his wife’s not-so-secret boyfriend last month. Miguel and Fiera had to step in to prevent the machoke—and, more importantly, his trainer—from going on a rampage.
His direct neighbors didn't seem freaked out by him though! Is it only the bullies who are nervous around him?

Benito spotted him, his face lighting up the moment he recognized Miguel. “Yo, Miguel. When are we having that battle you keep promising!?” he called out, the sudden sound making his brother’s rattatta skid to a stop just before he could reach Benito’s.

Seeing the child’s glee drew out an involuntary chuckle from Miguel, who shook his head at the boy. “Nah, man. You’ll kick my ass...but maybe later,” he added with a wink as he went on his way not seeing Benito walk back and apologize to his annoyed twin brother.
This is so cute, love it.

There was a crowd surrounding it, but he could still distinguish the sound of oil bouncing around in the fryer at the center of the crowd.
Careful with "but"! Makes it sounds like the crowd and the sound of oil somehow contradict. I think what you're getting at is that the sound of oil can be heard despite the noise from the waiting crowd?

The sight of the tequeños—a traditional Venitian dish—immediately made Miguel’s mouth water, even as he saw the oil dripping from the strainer and remembered that he was trying to eat more healthy. Eh, he could burn it all later.
Yup, definitely a short-term over long-term type of guy.

Mr.Palmarturned towards the crowd.
missing space

“So, how’s business been over here?” Miguel asked as he continued eating. “I heard cops started popping around more.”

“Don’t remind me.” Mr. Palmar shook his head, his hand diving into a yellow bag positioned next to him. He pulled out a tray of raw tequeños and dropped them into the fryer, causing it to sizzle and send oil flying around the edges. “The assholes come out at night too, right when business is booming. I heard last night they took out Marcelo’s cart.”
The conversation feels really natural here and slides smoothly into exposition.

Lago was strict when it came to who could serve food on the street, you needed a license--what didn’t you need one for?--and to opt for one you needed citizenship; not something first generation immigrants like Mr. Palmar and his family could get so easily. They were left alone for the most part, but whenever street activity increased, so did cops that wanted to make it seem like they were doing their job by cracking down on stands.
Licenses!! This is very real, particularly the last bit. That's the problem with something being allowed de facto but not de jure. You're left with nothing when enforcement comes.

“You know, I could do deliveries if you want. They won’t bother me,” he offered, suddenly and without truly thinking about it; after all, he’d been born a Lagonian citizen himself.
Miguel clearly cares about his community. It's nice to see these specific moments of him caring not just in the abstract, but offering to do concrete and mundane things.

Things went quiet between the two of them after that; Mr. Palmar went back to handling the food and customers while Miguel kept eating his breakfast, though he noticed Mr. Palmar’s gaze shifting to him every once in a while. Then, just as Miguel was about to throw his bag away in the trash can next to him, Mr. Palmar spoke.

“So, did you hear about last night?”

“Last night?”

“Your old friends the crows got into a brawl with Seventh’s Manectrics, or so I’m told.” Mr. Palmar’s voice was quiet, his eyes glanced at the crowd to check if someone else heard him
Mm, you really nailed the body-language and lead-in to this info drop.

Miguel stood quiet, processing the older man’s words. Then, his face started shifting into a frown, eyes involuntarily forming a glare as his arms tensed up. “What happened?” he asked, his voice now a few pitches lower and firmer.
Maybe, It took Miguel a moment to process Mr. Palmer's words. Then his face shifted into a frown and his eyes narrowed into an involuntary glare. "What happened?" he asked in a low, dangerous voice.

Seeing the shift in the young man’s expression made Mr. Palmar regret his words, but he knew it was better to tell him than to hold back information.
Ah, we've head-hopped for moment here! This sentence is coming from Mr. Palmar's POV, not Miguel's. But you can easily show the same thing, ex, "Mr. Palmar's face had shuttered at Miguel's change of expression. He licked his lips and looked out over the crowd of customers, as if considering not answering, but at last he spoke."

“Miguelito, don’t be rash. Otherwise you’ll--”
Mr. Palmar knows

Team Murkrow’s rundown apartment building wasn’t a place he wanted to be. Its dilapidated walls, boarded up windows, and front entrance filled with newer members just lounging about were both familiar and also haunting for Miguel.

He’d been just like them before.
Maybe, "Team Murkrow's rundown apartment building was the last place Miguel wanted to be. In the past six months, a new window had cracked and been boarded up, but otherwise it was the same dilapidated walls and front entrance, filled with lounging Crows. Miguel found the sight both familiar and haunting.

I used to be just like them, he thought, as he was escorted into the apartment complex by a couple of Team Murkrow members--not ones he knew. . . ."

Team Murkrow’s rundown apartment building wasn’t a place he wanted to be. Its dilapidated walls, boarded up windows, and front entrance filled with newer members just lounging about were both familiar and also haunting for Miguel.

He’d been just like them before.

That thought crossed his head as he was escorted by a couple of Team Murkrow members--their own murkrows on their shoulders--up the stairs of the apartment complex. The sight of the uninhabited, dilapidated apartments bringing back memories of his own time as Team Murkrow’s leader. He’d resisted the responsibilities of the position all his life, even going so far as journeying through Caliorn.

The problem wasn’t just the gun--Miguel had seen enough violence to know a gun was hardly the only way to hurt someone. It was how Juan had gotten it. Firearms were outlawed for normal citizens due to their lethality to humans and most pokemon. If Juan found a dealer despite Lago PD’s best efforts, that meant so had the other gangs. Innocent people and pokemon would eventually get caught up in the cross-fire; he didn’t want that to happen.
I think this is a smart, subtle distinction Miguel's making. I think it could be a little clearer that the issue is that where there's one gun, more are sure to follow.

"The problem wasn’t one gun--Miguel had seen enough violence to know a gun was hardly the only way to hurt someone. The problem was that it didn't stop at one gun. Firearms were outlawed for normal citizens due to their lethality to humans and most pokemon. If Juan had found a dealer despite Lago PD’s best efforts, that meant so had the other gangs. Innocent people and pokemon would eventually get caught up in the cross-fire; he didn’t want that to happen."

On the fifth floor Miguel turned towards the apartment at the end of the hall, following the music that reverberated and made the walls bounce as they climbed the lower floors. A frown crossed his face, mind suddenly wondering what Juan might’ve done with the sofa and bookshelves he’d left when he retired; Miguel still hadn’t found a place for them in his apartment.
The progression of Miguel's thoughts could be a little more explicit here. Like, music--I never had a music speaker when I lived there--huh, what's Juan done with my stuff anyway.

Ex, "On the fifth floor Miguel turned towards the apartment at the end of the hall. Loud music reverberated from behind the doors, making the walls bounce. Miguel frowned; he'd never had a speaker system installed in there. For the first time he wondered what Juan might’ve done with the sofa and bookshelves he’d left when he retired."

Stopping just before the apartment--and making sure his two escorts left already--Miguel’s right hand went for Icarus’ pokeball.
I'm curious about the escorts just leaving him there. Do they know who he is? It sort of seems like they don't? This feels like a moment for a potentially interesting short interaction.

Like, "I think Juan can handle me from here," Miguel told his escorts, keeping his tone light. They exchanged an uncertain glance, then shrugged and turned back down the hallway. Only when they vanished from sight did Miguel reach for Icarus' pokeball."

The studio apartment had changed in some ways and in others stayed the same. The mahogany book shelves he’d had on either side weren’t there anymore, which was at least better than them being in pieces.

The sofa had once held his extensive plushie collection and now looked barren even though two of Juan's lackeys sat there now. A portable speaker boomed from atop a cushion between them.

The one on the right end of the sofa, a girl with short black hair combed to the side, turned to him, allowing him to see the murkrow tattoo marking the left side of her cheek, with the tattoo’s eye being painted around her left eye.

On the left of the sofa was a stockier, male member, his brown hair in a ruffled afro. He wore a black t-shirt, allowing him to show off his arms and the murkrow tattoo on his right shoulder.

They both glared at Miguel for a moment, only for both their eyes to open wide as they realized who it was they were seeing.

The murkrows on their shoulders stood tense and let out a squawk, alerting Juan.

He was reclined with his feet on top of the mahogany desk that used to belong to Miguel’s brother.He didn’t wear a shirt, letting the whole world see the tattoo on the left side of his chest.

Miguel’s eyes fell on Juan, pent up anger beginning to spill out from his gut as he thought back to what Mr. Palmar told him.

At the other side of the room Juan clicked his tongue,reaching up to pause the speaker with his phone.
Lots of good details here, and I love the attention paid to how Juan's changed the room. A great way to signal his personality before we meet him. I did wonder whether Miguel knows the two lackeys? I can't tell from this, and that's odd, since either way it feels significant. Either he does know them, if not well, or Juan has completely upended the gang in the last six months, in which case, things are even trickier for Miguel.

The way the details are outlined in this section feels a bit disconnected. It's not clear what's leading us from one sentence into the next. Wrote a sample way to do it (I'm enjoying these scenes so much, I can't resist fiddling with the prose a little!):

"The studio apartment had changed since Miguel lived there. His mahogany book shelves were gone, leaving the wall barren. Instead of Miguel's extensive plushie collection, the sofa housed two of Juan's lackeys, a portable speaker booming on the cushion between them.

The girl on the right end of the sofa wore her short black hair combed to the side. Her murkrow tattoo took up her whole cheek. The other Crow was stockier, with a ruffed affro. He wore a sleeveless back shirt--probably intended to show off both his bisceps and the murkrow tattoo on his right shoulder. Miguel recognized their faces, but couldn't recall their names.

And clearly, they recognized him. Their eyes widened as they realized just who had entered the room, and the girl's murkrow let out a tense squawk--a signal to Juan.

Miguel had been avoiding looking at him, but now he turned. Juan reclined with his feet on top of the mahogany desk that used to belong to Miguel’s brother. He wore no shirt, baring the tattoo blazed onto his chest to the world. Lazily, he reached for his phone and paused the music.

Miguel hadn't known how he would feel, back in his old apartment, in the trappings of his former life. But in the silence that fell, Miguel realized he was furious."

“Geez, man. Don’t see you in months and you come in waving your dick around.” Juan snickered, lowering his legs from the table as Miguel went deeper into the room. Miguel’s nose twitched as a wave of alcohol hit him.

“Someone has to.”
Juan's character is so clear from these first few lines of dialogue. Nicely done.

The two stared at each other for what seemed like minutes, with nothing but the sound of Juan’s murkrow picking at his feathers to break the silence. Eventually Juan’s bravado wore down, his suave demeanor replaced by a thumping foot--a sign of impatience Miguel’d grown accustomed to seeing--while Miguel crossed his arms and stood like a sagely tree in front of his ex-desk.

“Out with it!” Juan roared, startling his grooming murkrow.
This was funny to me, since I've been jumping on all these little hints that Miguel is impatient. If he's the patient one of the Murkrow gang, they're in trouble!

Juan passed his hand over his head, leaning himself back against the chair as he let out a long sigh. “I knew it’d be bullshit.”

“We made a deal. “

“You think I give a fuck about our fucking deal, asshole?” Juan slammed his hand on the wooden desk, the smacking resounding throughout the room. “The other gangs started invading our territory, taking our members. We had to retaliate. That’s what Team Murkrow does.”

Juan leaned forward with a grin. “After all, it’s what your brother did.”
Nice flow to this. They're talking like they actually would, assuming the other one knows what they know, rather than talking to the readers.

As he said those last words, Juan leapt to his feet, raising the gun in his hand. It was a long silver barrel pistol with a black tinted, straightened, sharpedo skin hilt. Based on the size of the hole at the end of the barrel, Miguel deduced it was a Rock Piercer, perfect for damaging rock types and anything else he could aim at.
"the gun" implies it's appeared in the scene before? But I don't think it has. You want something like, "As he said those last words, Juan leapt to his feet, a gun appearing in his hand." Love how he's extra enough to have a sharpedo skin hilt (that's gotta be uncomfortable with that rough skin!) The idea that guns are classed based on the types of pokemon they can damage is an extremely clever tidbit for working guns into the pokemon world.

“Keep talking shit. Go on. Keep talking shit.” Juan gestured with the gun, his grip tightening around the handle. “You almost drove this gang to extinction when you were boss, and then you expected us to just sit back as it crumpled. We were mocked, treated like a bunch of has-beens. And why? Because of your bullshit crusade in trying to be a goodie-two-shoes.”
Juan's anger really comes through here. And it's definitely understandable up to a point; he feels like Miguel left them in a bad place, he's the one who's had to pick up the pieces, and now here comes Miguel swaggering back in.

Miguel could’ve replied in many ways to Juan’s statement. He could remind him about what happened last year. How they’d lost ten members during his brother’s last job, how their little attempt at proving they were the bigger gang led to one of the city’s worst gang wars in history.
Ah, so it was Bro who was responsible--the one who gave the orders. Were the co-leaders, or was Miguel the second in command?

Icarus’ head popped out of the shadows, beak clamping down on the gun and scooping it out of a startled Juan.
Go dark types! Judging by Juan's suprise, this move must be pretty hard to pull off? Curious to what extent pokemon training skills play into rang in the Murkrow gang.

Then, just as quickly as he appeared, Icarus disappeared into the shadows once more and reappeared above Miguel’s head, handing the gun to his trainer.

“Mamaguevo,” Icarus gloated while shooting Juan’s murkrow, a proud smirk.
Such a good birb.

He saw his murkrow taking on a fighting stance from the corner of his eye but quickly signaled for him to stand down. Even if they were able to take out Icarus it would give Miguel enough time to release Fiera.
It feels a little like we're creeping into Juan's head here.

Maybe, "From the corner of his eye, Miguel saw Juan's murkrow taking on a fighting stance, but Juan quickly signaled for him to stand down. That was smart of him. Even if they were able to take out Icarus, that would give still Miguel enough time to release Fiera."

“Imagine if you’d shot me.” Miguel shrugged, effortlessly putting the safety back on and letting the bullets hit the floor with a clank as they slipped out of the chamber. “Now that would’ve been stupid.”
Think you can cut effortlessly--it's clear that Miguel knows how to deal with guns without it.

Miguel passed the gun back to Icarus, allowing the murkrow to hide it amongst the shadows in its wings.
Ooh, that's handy. And really accords with murkrow being thieves! I wonder how big their dimensional pouch is.

Juan got quiet—disturbingly quiet, in fact. His silence worried Miguel even more than his bragging.
You've established his loud and arrogant personality well enough that it worries me too!

“Speak up.” Miguel commanded.
commanded is a speech tag, so you want a comma, not a period.

Juan bit his lips as he glanced away from Miguel, hands clenched and shoulders slouched forward like a kid trying to keep a secret from his teacher.
Nice simile. The tables really turned when Miguel showed he could overpower him even with the gun, huh?

“I’d like to see them try,” Miguel replied, his voice recovering that harsh tone he held back when he first came in.
The ending clause is a little wordy. His voice growing harsh again? The harsh note reentering his voice? His voice hardening?

“As for you. No more gang fights. The next time I hear Team Murkrow’s starting shit, I won’t hesitate to feed your murkrow to Fiera for lunch.” Hearing this the murkrow flinched. Icarus flashed a sadistic smirk.
I love that with murkrow it feels totally plausible that Icarus would be down to see one of his kind get eaten.

(You need a comma between this and the!)

Juan groaned. “You really want this gang to die.”

“No, on the contrary. I want everyone here to live.”
"On the contrary" sounds a little formal for a spoken conversation. Maybe just, "No, I want everyone here to live.”

“Why does it matter? El hijoeputa está muerto.”

With a pained expression Miguel replied, “Everyone leaves someone behind.”
UGH SO GOOD. Very punchy ending line. And this ties in so well to the themes from the podcast about how violence is generational.

(needs a comma after expression!)
 

thenatureking

Youngster
Pronouns
He/Him
Yay! So, I finally got around to reading, and I'm glad I took the time to approach this when I ready!

(((Also. Warning and I'm sorry in advance, but my thoughts are all over the place lol. Stuff made me think of other stuff and I had to go back and forth adding stuff lmao. )))

The more I dug into the piece, the more fun I had! Such a rich premise you have. It's so different from what we usually see in Pokemon fic and I think it's really intriguing. I think the title perfectly captures the essence of the story; good fit.

I love the latin american inspired backdrop; it's not something we get to see at all in the pokemon world, and that makes Caliorn as a fan-made region more memorable for that reason. If this had been a simple gym-challenge journey fic, I don't think I would've been that interested. It's clear that this story is deeply imbedded with Caliorn and couldn't exist elsewhere.

There's Spanish throughout the piece, and I know you said it's not important to understand, but I think it is! It's clear that immigration is a huge theme of this story, and with immigration brings themes of personal and cultural identity, so maintaining those identities throughout the piece by utilizing Spanish in an English-dominant fic seems really necessary. While I know that might alienate some readers who don't understand Spanish, it will also make readers who do understand your story appreciate those extra layers. I enjoyed it! (But luckily, I've studied Spanish for years so I didn't have a problem reading one bit haha!)

You know, and actually, the more I think about it, I feel like my relationship with Spanish-speakers growing up made this read more exciting because while I'm not an expert on Latin cultures, I'm not a stranger to it. I can already picture some landscapes I think Caliorn will introduce, so it's not a tough piece for me to sink my teeth into at all.

I'll leave my overall thoughts for the end. I've put my line-reactions in a spoiler because it ended up being a lot lol.

He flew forward, his arm swinging back and hitting the nightstand next to his bed. His eyes bulged; his heart beat against his chest like an electric type about to discharge a thunderbolt.
So, I think at this point, I was already a little over the descriptions relating to the heart lol. We've had "heart crushed by graveler", "what he saw stopped his heart", and etc.

Once his heart and panting slowed he let his body gently fall back on his pillow, with his beating heart.
Hehe, more heart stuff.

With newly regained stability he began to gently move his hand across Fiera’s fur, eliciting a soft hum from her.
lol, I remember thinking the focus on his vitals felt like this was written by a doctor.

, only to be met with his deddene plushie falling on his face and rolling off onto the bed
*Dedenne! Cute plushie though. I like the detail.

“No dejar dormir!” Icarus squawked in Surean, eyes narrowed and beak sticking out towards Miguel’s face.
&
“Just another one of those nights.” He repeated in Aeonian.
Surean. This seems like the Spanish-equivalent language of the pokemon world, and I'm assuming Aeonian is the English-equivalent language which the story is written in, but it begs the question where in the heck do these names come from? The story is set in Caliorn, in the capital city of Lago, so I'm wondering why the main language isn't some derivative of Caliorn?

Unless, following real-world colonialization influences and Caliorn was colonized by some Surea/Aeonia-like country. Lol, don't mind me just speculating.

Miguel chuckled at this
Actually this is the second time we get Miguel's name, but it's the first time I noticed it, and I just wondered why it was introduced so late into the first scene at this very moment.
he replied; Icarus didn’t let up his gaze.


Those nightmares had been going on and off in Miguel’s head for the last six months--since the day he left Team Murkrow--like spectres haunting his dreams.
I think the phrase after the em dashes is a little bit awkward here

Thinking Corner podcast in the background.
I wanted a little context to this podcast. Why does he listen to it, presumably daily? What does he look forward to hearing? What about it makes it different from the other podcasts?
bowl of fiery pebbles for Fiera and Fly By Feed for Icarus
This is cute. I'm glad they get personalized food.
studio apartment
This, paired with the mentioning of shaving is making me wonder what his age is. Thinking early twenties at the youngest. I'm assuming he lives alone. I'm wondering about his occupation, which allows him to have his own space. (There's no mentioning of him laboring at all in the piece, so I'm curious how he spends his days!)


living with a soon-to-be twenty year old arcanine and a lazy murkrow
Wow. How long do arcanine live to? Is this worrisome for him? Does he treat Fiera any differently because of her age? Or rather, especially? I'm assuming Fiera wasn't his originally; there's no way this guy's 30+ lol

Miguel got out of bed and started his routine. Get up, shower, shave--he’d rather shave the five hair that came out everyday than wait however long it took to grow a beard-put on some clothes with an episode of the Thinking Corner podcast in the background. Then, once he was taken care of, go into the kitchen of his studio apartment and fix up his pokemon’s breakfast—a bowl of fiery pebbles for Fiera and Fly By Feed for Icarus—before waking them up. Most trainers dealt with their pokemon waking them up instead; living with a soon-to-be twenty year old arcanine and a lazy murkrow meant he had to carry their mornings
So, this was an awkward paragraph for me. Structure-wise, it wants to present itself as a list, but I think it's too long and too complex to function successfully that way. I did a little ol' rewrite of the beginning, but I think there are numerous ways it could kick off.

"His morning routine started with a shower and a shave; five chin hairs again today. He dressed while his phone blared the Thinking Corner podcast. Etc."

Besides, tending to his pokemon became a small pleasure in his life over the last six months
Has he never done this before? What about the last six months (or prior) has made this an enjoyable thing for him?

“I think we’ve talked at length about the ways in which Lago PD has been confronting rising gang violence in the city. But what would you suggest a normal citizen could do?” his ears perked up from the podcast he was listening to on his phone.

“That’s a really good question, Nadia. Our focus has shifted quite a bit since the Blackwood shooting last month,” the guest replied.
I think there's opportunity for this Nadia girl to mention the other speaker's name? Readers (since we tuned in late lol) has no inkling of this guest speaker's relevancy. Why is this person the one Nadia is speaking to?

“I think the best people can do right now is to better inform themselves and others about the groups and movement combating this issue; gang violence doesn’t exist in a vacuum and it’s something we can’t fix unless everyone accepts that it’s the result of consequences carrying over from our parents’ and even grandparents’ time.”
I honestly have no clue what this speaker means by "better inform themselves". Which group of "people" are they referring to? I know there's bound to be some class division is gangs are a thing. What "movement" are they referring to. But yes, gang violence does NOT exist in a vacuum; though I think what this speaker says here is a little vague for such a complex topic. What consequences are they referring to? There's not much of substance being said, so I'm not sure what call-to-action they're trying to make.

To my basic understanding, gangs are commonly a product of a country's incompetence and neglect towards its citizens. The people's needs aren't being met by the government, so they band together and take measures into their own hands to protect themselves and their communities. There's probably a lot more that goes into that lol, but nevertheless, I definitely felt like our guest speaker could've given us a little bit more to work with.

“Oh, I agree completely, a lot of the time, people just see the violence but they don't think about the people behind it. These are problems that have been in our communities for generations, but historically Lago PD's methods of over-policing have never offered us the solution we needed. And recently, they've escalated to firing in every direction and hoping that'll fix things.” Miguel winced at the last sentence. Nadia’s voice wavered between casual and serious and her last declaration could set off the wrong reaction. Then again, she probably wouldn’t care either way.
Nadia's "I agree" + expansion was a bit of a shaky transition for me. I think it's the "they don't think about the people behind it". I feel like the point that Nadia thinks she's getting at isn't coming across that way. If I understand the essence of the issues at play, here's something I just pulled out of my ass...

"People see the violence, but they don't think about the precursor to that violence. It's years of neglect and mistreatment of peoples that's built up over the years. At one point in time, gangs were a welcome solution to those problems, but now, they've differentiated from their original purpose. Instead of protecting their communities, they terrorize them and coerce our youth into joining their ranks. Gangs have escalated out of control into insidious organizations just to fuel the egos of a few. And the way the Lago government handles them doesn't help either. If gang violence is the spark of years of pent-up frustrations, then the Lago PD is the fan that fuels the flame. Historically, Lago PD's methods have never offered us the solution we needed. Over-policing, stop-and-frisk, curfew, and most recently, they've resulted to firing in every which direction hoping that'll fix things.
All have only served to demonize and fragment our communities in an effort for the Caliornian government to distance themselves from their responsibilities as servants of the all its people--not just the wealthy elite."

Boom, was I close? lol my potentially off-the-mark ramblings aside lol, I wish we'd gotten stronger stances from our radio speakers here. Something a little more controversial, edgy lol. It'd make Miguel's worry about Nadia getting harsh reactions more plausible.

“Yeah, hopefully that’ll get them to stop talking about the Caliorn Conference for once
Whats this? The gym league? You're talking about people who openly dislike the gym league and NOT expanding on it? I'm hurt lol but no, in all seriousness, great opportunity to give us just a pinch more. From my assumption, I gather she thinks there are more important matters at hand, and that's valid.

Miguel paused it and pocketed the phone, noting that he had to finish it later and tell Nadia what he thought.
Actually. After this whole sequence, I felt like we were robbed of an opportunity to know what Miguel actually thought lol. So many seemingly important events are dropped and without Miguel's thoughts towards them, they sort of fade away into obscurity without any added context to give them much weight. What does he think of the Blackwood shooting? The conference? Etc.


a pair of rings,
(For which fingers?) What do they symbolize? Engagement? Marriage? Class of 2020? Super Bowl?

The necklace was actually Miguel’s Helios Badge, the first badge he’d gotten when he set out on his journey.
Did he only get one lol. Where are his other pokemon to show for his journey?


He noticed neighbors once he stepped out of his apartment; they were talking by the entrance to their apartment, although anything they said was drowned out by the heavy metal music bursting from the other side.

One of them--a woman with short purple hair--noticed him and smiled, with her male friend following her gaze and nodding to him. Not missing a beat, Miguel nodded back as he walked past them, leaving them to go back to their conversation.
This seems so impersonal, lol. Does he care about these neighbors? Does he know their names? What does he think about them? What does he think they think about him?

Even with the dirty walls, broken floor tiles, an elevator that hadn’t worked for as long as Miguel remembered, and thin walls that left nothing to the imagination, it was still home, the place he’d lived with his mom and brothe
? Where is the mom? And the brother for that matter? I thought he lived alone, and there's no detail that indicates otherwise, I believe. (He's journeyed too, so what about the place is better than anything else he's seen in Caliorn?)

Actually, now that I think about it, why is Miguel content with his shitty apartment? The broken elevator seems like the biggest accessibility risk, like the landlord is practically begging to be sued... Where are the complaints? The work orders? The class action lawsuit towards this landlord?

it would’ve been cute if not for the adults laughing and drinking as they made bets on which one would win. Some of them glanced at him, only for their gazes to lower the moment they met Miguel’s.

That’s exactly how he wanted it, especially after Mr. Gonzales, sent out his machoke against his wife’s not-so-secret boyfriend last month. Miguel and Fiera had to step in to prevent the machoke—and, more importantly, his trainer—from going on a rampage.
I had no idea what the intent was. Who are the adults there? (Also, what's wrong with betting on their children? Isn't that what adults secretly do?) And why don't they like him? Who is Mr. Gonzales? Is he still with his wife? Did the boyfriend get away? (Lol just me being nosy now).
Benito spotted him, his face lighting up the moment he recognized Miguel. “Yo, Miguel. When are we having that battle you keep promising!?” he called out, the sudden sound making his brother’s rattatta skid to a stop just before he could reach Benito’s.

Seeing the child’s glee drew out an involuntary chuckle from Miguel, who shook his head at the boy. “Nah, man. You’ll kick my ass...but maybe later,” he added with a wink as he went on his way not seeing Benito walk back and apologize to his annoyed twin brother.
I don't understand the significance of the kid's twin brother being annoyed lol. That felt like it was a bit out of perspective.

I'm curious what does Miguel think about these kids? What does he think about their parents?
Miguel finally reached his goal, a small stand in the complex’s vicinity.
Destination works better, I think. I was also confused by this location. "In the complexi's vicinity"??? Across the street? Idk, juat think I needed a bit more here.

distinguish the sound of oil bouncing around in the fryer
lol all the oil mentionings was kind of gross lmfao but like i understand too. some street food is super unhealthy but who cares when it tastes good!

No, but I think was confused by what the man was cooking with. I automatically assumed like a deep fryer but that doesn't seem to fit the context. More like a skillet, right?
“Hey, Miguelito!”
Little Miguel awww cute So they have a relationship! Nice, does Miguel view him as a sort of far-off father-like figure? Curious.

He was scooping up a pair of golden fried cylinder-shaped dough biscuits, cheese slowly peeking from the sides.

The sight of the tequeños—a traditional Venitian dish.
I think the "dough" makes this a bit wordy lol. Also, "cheeze oozed from the ends" >>>

Now who the heck is Venitia? Assuming it's where this chef cook is from but I have no context nor scale of its existence in this world. If Mr. Palmar is from this place, I would've loved more details characterizing him as such.

even as he saw the oil dripping from the strainer and remembered that he was trying to eat more healthy. Eh, he could burn it all later.

“How you doing, boy?” The man flashed him a kind smile as he dropped the cheese-stuffed biscuits into a brown plastic bag, oil seeping into it immediately.
Lol the focus on the oil really gives me a chuckle
. Coming for my daily dose,”
So has he been eating healthy or not hmm...

“Aqui tienes.” Mr. Palmar waved another grease-stained bag in front of Miguel’s face. Miguel eyed the crowd. There were still a couple of people without bags and he knew they’d been there before him. “Don’t worry about it.” Mr.Palmarturned towards the crowd. “No les molesta, cierto?” he asked, to which he got a varying degree of nods in agreement.
?? I wasn't sure about this part. If he's serving this region's Casteliacones, then I think I would be mad about Miguel butting in front of me! Why do the people not mind? Do they not have places to me? Are they not hungry themselves? Do they know Miguel? Or does Mr. Palmar have a reputation for being a bit stern or something like that?
So, how’s business been over here?” Miguel asked as he continued eating. “I heard cops started popping around more.
Why hasn't he been busted if he's gathered a crowd seems like he's asking to be busted lol

Lago was strict when it came to who could serve food on the street, you needed a license--what didn’t you need one for?--and to opt for one you needed citizenship; not something first generation immigrants like Mr. Palmar and his family could get so easily. They were left alone for the most part, but whenever street activity increased, so did cops that wanted to make it seem like they were doing their job by cracking down on stands.
But I love the conflict created here. Police picking on innocent working folks. I wish Miguel's sentiments towards that was brought forward more. We're fed information on what's happening, but we don't really see Miguel's thoughts? Does he like the police? Does he think the rules are fair? We get an inkling, but nothing concrete.

if I end up getting caught;
I'm expecting him to get caught! Let's go foreshadowing!

Mr. Palmar’s voice was quiet, his eyes glanced at the crowd to check if someone else heard him. Most didn’t, with the ones that did choosing to ignore the comment instead.
Why do they act this way? Do people not like talking about gangs in public even if they're seemingly an increasingly apparent issue for the community? Or are they just trying to get their breakfast and go lol. Are they scared of the gangs? Do they know his ties to a gang?

Team Murkrow’s rundown apartment building wasn’t a place he wanted to be.
"Miguel" wanted to be. The 'he' just made it a brief confusing who we were following.

He’d been just like them before.
? I wasn't sure what he meant by this other than a previous member. He doesn't make any commentary on the newer members. Are they naive youth in over their heads? Cocky little kids? Scared, shrimpy kids who feel secure? What does he think about new members joing Team Murkrow? What does he think about not knowing who's in Team Murkrow these days? Are there requirements to join? If so, does he think the new members fit that criteria?

That thought crossed his head as he was escorted by a couple of Team Murkrow members--their own murkrows on their shoulders--up the stairs of the apartment complex. The sight of the uninhabited, dilapidated apartments bringing back memories of his own time as Team Murkrow’s leader. He’d resisted the responsibilities of the position all his life, even going so far as journeying through Caliorn.
I think I might've mentioned this, but again, I'm confused by this mention of him journeying. This phrasing makes it seem like was the gang's leader all his life lol. It's not clear how he managed his time as leader and for how long he was leader.

Also, what kind of memories are being brought back? He literally has his murkrow and a giant tattoo on his back; I'd think his memories as leader would be with him constantly.

A frown crossed his face, mind suddenly wondering what Juan might’ve done with the sofa and bookshelves he’d left when he retired; Miguel still hadn’t found a place for them in his apartment.
This felt really random to me not going to lie lol but truthfully, no idea what to do with it so :)
They both glared at Miguel for a moment, only for both their eyes to open wide as they realized who it was they were seeing.
Why are they just sitting there if, even for a second, they thought this was a stranger? And if they recognize him, why doesn't he recognize them? As in, why don't they have names? What are his thoughts on them seemingly being Juan's entourage?

Actually, how can he just waltz into this apartment? Where's the gang's security? Who's on watch duty?

clear disdain in his voice
I think this is redundant information.
“Geez, man. Don’t see you in months and you come in waving your dick around.” Juan snickered, lowering his legs from the table as Miguel went deeper into the room. Miguel’s nose twitched as a wave of alcohol hit him.

“Someone has to.”
I wish we'd gotten some commentary on Juan drinking this early(?) in the day. That's a detail worth pointing out, I feel.

Also, Miguel's comeback is so awkward but he's serious about it which makes it funnier lmaoo
Juan’s bravado wore down, his suave demeanor replaced by a thumping foot-
The first time I thought, "I like Juan!"
“You think I give a fuck about our fucking deal, asshole?” Juan slammed his hand on the wooden desk, the smacking resounding throughout the room. “The other gangs started invading our territory, taking our members. We had to retaliate. That’s what Team Murkrow does.”

Juan leaned forward with a grin. “After all, it’s what your brother did.”
LOL, Juan is fun. Doesn't care about keeping deals/promises. Love that for him. And he's right! If you give those gangs an inch, they'll take a mile!

, eyes opened wide and laser-focused on the older man
This felt unnecessary to me
Guess what, birdbrain.
LOL, this was funny and ironic but it's even better because it's probably an insult other gangs have used and since Miguel isn't in Murkrow anymore, he can use it.


sharpedo skin hilt
this is a col detail, but it being customized makes this even funnier. Shouldn't be too hard to track down who's capable of doing sharpedo guns lol
Miguel deduced it was a Rock Piercer, perfect for damaging rock types and anything else he could aim at.
Another cool detail. Are the guns in this world designed around this concept of types? Though, it breaks my heart that people would want to shoot at rock types lol

“Keep talking shit. Go on. Keep talking shit.” Juan gestured with the gun, his grip tightening around the handle. “You almost drove this gang to extinction when you were boss, and then you expected us to just sit back as it crumpled. We were mocked, treated like a bunch of has-beens. And why? Because of your bullshit crusade in trying to be a goodie-two-shoes.”
Juan is right! I get Miguel's intentions, but if he let the gang get soft, and in turn, that led to other gangs thinking they could encroach upon their territorry, I understand why Juan would retaliate. Though, I don't agree with using GUNS! And killing people :( Where's the honor code??? That alone should have made Murkow a target for all the gangs, like for Juan being a manly man, he's doing a lot of copout things!

I'm curious what Miguel even achieved during his time as gang leader lol. Like it seems like he really set them back a lot.

(Is he a Libra?)

Miguel could’ve replied in many ways to Juan’s statement. He could remind him about what happened last year. How they’d lost ten members during his brother’s last job, how their little attempt at proving they were the bigger gang led to one of the city’s worst gang wars in history.
Well. The timeline work here's a little iffy for me, but Miguel doesn't want people to die, that's valid.

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Juan’s smirk returned to his face. “Tell me why I shouldn’t bust a cap on you right now?”

“You’d lose a finger if you did.”
LOL. Again, another funny awkward Miguel response. He'd be dead, but Juan would be missing a finger. Great tradeoff haha. He's so funny.
“Mamaguevo,” Icarus gloated while shooting Juan’s murkrow, a proud smirk.
LOL, this murkrow's a bully lol who taught him that!

bravado completely gone and replaced with heavy panting and quivering lips as he accidentally stepped back against the desk.
I like Juan. His macho-man shit cracks so easily; I wonder if it's because he's around Miguel that it crumbles so easily. Makes me wonder how he felt to use the gun? How he feels taking a life? How he feels about his own members dying?

“Imagine if you’d shot me.” Miguel shrugged, effortlessly putting the safety back on and letting the bullets hit the floor with a clank as they slipped out of the chamber. “Now that would’ve been stupid.”
Now, how does he know how to use a gun hmmm? Is this information that should surprise Juan?
Speak up.” Miguel commanded.

Juan bit his lips as he glanced away from Miguel, hands clenched and shoulders slouched forward like a kid trying to keep a secret from his teacher.
Aww, so cute. I really like Juan, the way he's characterized is fun. I'm gonna need him to repent for taking a life, but I'm rooting for him!
“Not as far as I know…for now, at least,” Juan muttered, letting his body fall back on the chair. “Listen, cuervito. These people mean business. Whatever you want to turn Lago into…they won’t let you.”
Who is Juan scared of, I wonder? The mystery deepens. Some mysterious party that wants to keep Lago the way it is seems very life-like. Sad, but realistic. I wonder if they'll do anything about the parade then 0;0.

Also, cuervito seems like an endearing term now, instead of condescending like he'd used it before. I wonder if Juan realizes that haha
“No, on the contrary. I want everyone here to live.”
"No. I want everyone here to live," feels stronger to me! The contrary is so technical and wordy.

“Why does it matter? El hijoeputa está muerto.”

With a pained expression Miguel replied, “Everyone leaves someone behind.”
LOL, Juan is so...He's something else! I'm wishing for his growth!

And Miguel is right! It's so sad how casual Juan is about this.

SO, that was different!! Good wrap-up at the end. For a first chapter, I think this is a serve.

There were a lot of threads I saw emerging from plot to characters, and I think you've done an excellent job at introducing them all in the way that's easy to digest. I feel like I know what to expect in terms of cast: Krow Members, Manectric Members, the Lago PD, the mysterious gun suppliers, Nadia and the paraders, Miguel's family, Mr. Palmar's family, neighbors, gym challengers/league officials, and other immigrants. Seems like this shaping up to include a colorful cast of people!

Plot wise, I love that this fic is setting itself up to explore these themes of gang violence and policing and immigration and whatnot. There's a lot of flavor here so I'm excited to see how the rest of the story will unravel.

I didn't read your original draft of chapter one, but from what I can gather, Miguel(ito hehe) as a character seems like the right choice to kick off your story. I don't know if we'll follow his perspective the rest of the way, but he's a safe character to work with for chapter one. I think he has enough relevancy to bear weight in the story. Though, he is not above my criticism hehe. As a long-term protagonist, he was sort of passive, didn't really seem to have a goal of his own, at least in these present times. It was mentioned he was a gang leader that wanted to turn his group around, but obviously failed and gave up(?). And then he's journeyed, but all he has to show for it, (at least this is the extent of what the audience knows) is that one gym badge lol. He has a daily routine, but other than feeding his pokemon, I have no clue what he does? What does he want? What is he working towards? What is he looking forward to? It seems like he's taken a break from gang life (evident by him not knowing what goes down) so I just wonder hw he lives his life nowadays.

And this is a little bit of Miguel characterization work as well as general worldbuilding, but I wanted a lot more opinon from Miguel. He felt too neutral. He really does read as a Libra in this piece lol

I also love Juan. I love the way he's characterized. It's like a watered down machismo lol he actually seems really sensitive, but I like that he's about that action. I don't like the actions he takes, but I respect the energy. He seems like a real ride-or-die.

Switching gears, looking over it again, I'm a bit lost on the timeline. There's something that happened a year ago, and then something that's been haunting Miguel for six months, and somewhere in the last year he also traveled? His brother is??? And his mother??? No clue! I'm sure that'll be cleared up later on though so no worries.

As for the beginning, I think I've come to understand the sequence was a nightmare of an actual event that happened a year ago/six months ago(?), I think it was? The big gang fight? In that case, that's very sad! Super tragic. I will say, I wasn't sure what exactly Miguel's role in the dream was. When he said he'd needed to find survivors, I didn't know if he meant survivors to kill or survivors from his own side lol. Actually, if there were any sides at all, there was no indication of that (it just says "other trainers" so it even makes me wonder if that includes random bystanders lol). So, that was a scene I'd stumbled through. I do understand the persistent guilt-tripping "It's your fault", throughout, though, stylishly, I wished that had been italicized as to differentiate it from the main text.

My next bits of note target world-building.

One thing I did want more of was the sense of community. In my reactions, I talked a lot about a lack of world knowledge, a lack of names, a lack of reputation. Many places presented an opportunity to expand, dig a little deeper, so I left comments at those instances. When creating an entirely new world, I think those miniature connections are important. Of course, not everything needs to be explained, but those little details for requiring characters really makes a difference later on.

I do like that, in spite of the gang violence happening the community, you still include cute little things like children battling with their pet rats. Good stuff. Kids and their futures; those are the things worth protecting; I wish this was sort of kept in the periphery of why Miguel wanted/wants his gang to be good. We don't really get much development on that regard, which is a missed opportunity for his character!

And, I have to wonder.... just how easy is it leave a gang position as leader and live a normal life lol. What makes this possible for Miguel and not others? How does his leaving shape other people's view of him? Why don't other gangs try to attack him? Why doesn't the police have tails on him?

ALSO, what's up with the police? Why haven't they bust down Juan's apartment and arrested him for shooting and killing a person? A gang member having a gun when they're illegal seems like a huge red flag for the police force. And somebody dying doesn't seem like something a gang can cover up/explain lol.

And what's up with the gangs? I'm not sure I understood why they exist in the first place? What need are the local people not getting that's causing them to resort to gangs? What does murkrow stand for? What gang rules over the area that Miguel lives in?

But yeah, that's all my little brain can come up with! I hope my review was helpful! Juan's scene was really the biggest highlight of the whole piece for me lol, I enjoyed his presence very much. :) IF you have any questions about anything I said (I may have even mistyped lol) I'd be happy to explain, so don't hesitate to reach out if you want to! Great work here!
 

kyeugh

onion witch
Location
florida
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. farfetchd-galar
1. 1st street: little crow

hey flaze! i promised you i'd check this fic out and after osj's recommendation in the chat earlier, i decided today would be the day. and i'm glad i did! this definitely seems like the type of fic i could really get into, and there's a lot of stuff to like about it already in this first chapter. i feel like it goes without saying but you've built a really cool setting here. it doesn't feel like anything we know from canon, but you still make it familiar in little ways, reminding us that this is still a pokémon fanfiction. that's a hard thing to balance with an original setting, i think, and one that's human-centric to boot—i have trouble pulling it off in my own fic, and it's technically set in a canon region! the strong association with a real-world culture grounds the setting too and allows me to draw on knowledge i already have about the real world, which sort of offloads some of the burden of worldbuilding. overall it just feels very cohesive, alive, and well thought through. nice work!

gang wars are something that, oddly enough, are kind of a cornerstone of the pokémon world, but it never really seems like it. i feel like exploring that little pocket of worldbuilding is a really natural and interesting place to take a fic, and your particular take on the topic just feels right—right for the pokémon world, right for your setting, right for your characters. i'm excited to see how you develop this further; it's admittedly not a topic i've read a ton of so i don't really know what to expect but i'm confident you'll do it justice!

i did find myself wishing the worldbuilding about the gang conflicts was presented a bit more organically. i guess there's nothing unnatural about the podcast approach, necessarily, but it felt pretty info-dumpy to me. i feel like you could have put most of the information it conveys into something that can show us some characterization too, maybe his conversation with mr palmar? the podcast could still be a good set piece even then; maybe they start prattling on about the gangs and miguel gets irritated and shuts it off, thinks a bit to himself about his own perception of the events, etc. something like that. it just didn't quite do it for me as-is i suppose.

on that note, miguel is a compelling character. the intro sequence tips us off right away that he's been through some serious shit, but even considering that, i found him to be a very subtle and low-key character at the start. and he is lowkey, as far as i can tell, but that had me wrongfully assuming he was a passive type. this really isn't the case, though, and the way you reveal his more assertive/controlling side without compromising his stoic vibe was really cool. his confrontation with juan was the highlight of the chapter for me, and i feel like it pulled off this characterization to great effect. looking forward to seeing where he goes from here—i have a feeling he's going to sustain this pattern of Not Being Able To Keep Himself Out Of Trouble. and his pokémon are lovely! murkrow are very good, i'm more than pleased that it looks like we're gong to be seeing a ton of them before this fic is through.

grammar/mechanics-wise, i noticed a few persistent little things that took me out of the story a little. some stray commas, some missing periods, some run-ons, some semicolons or dashes that could and should have been periods, that sort of thing. so nothing egregious, just little things, but they can crop up. would recommend getting a beta to catch those things out if you haven't got one already!

altogether this is a really nice start. you said this is the best first chapter you've ever written and i can certainly see why! strong setting, strong characters, strong plot hook, and some nice memorable scenes. i'm looking forward to reading and reviewing the next chapter—keep up the good work!

He tried walking forward but found himself reeling as forced coughs came out of his smoke-filled lungs.
i like the way this makes it feel like he's not in control of his own body; he finds himself moving, and the coughs come out on their own. i feel like cutting "forced" would drive that vibe home a little better as that word suggests agency on his part.

It’s your fault

His hands were covered in blood, the blood of other trainers and pokemon, the blood he’d been ordered to shed
you dropped a few periods here.

Fiera, his arcanine, laid limp just out of his reach.
i think you want "lay' here, not "laid."

Deep inside those flames, was a circle of corpses, their skin slowly burning and crisping away, letting out a cloud of dark, foul-smelling, smoke.
don't need the first or last comma here. wow though, what an image. very chilling and unsettling without being too gratuitous on the details. gotta admit you've caught my interest here—i too started my fic off by hitting the readers hard with pretty intense imagery, something about it just works for me. :p

“Just another one of those nights.” He repeated in Aeonian.
should be "Just another one of those nights," he repeated in Aeonian instead.

Get up, shower, shave--he’d rather shave the five hair that came out everyday than wait however long it took to grow a beard-put on some clothes with an episode of the Thinking Corner podcast in the background.
what's five hair? did you mean fine? also you start this aside with two hyphens --

his ears perked up from the podcast he was listening to on his phone.
"his" wants to be capitalized.

“That’s a really good question, Nadia. Our focus has shifted quite a bit since the Blackwood shooting last month,” the guest replied. “I think the best people can do right now is to better inform themselves and others about the groups and movement combating this issue; gang violence doesn’t exist in a vacuum and it’s something we can’t fix unless everyone accepts that it’s the result of consequences carrying over from our parents’ and even grandparents’ time.”

“Oh, I agree completely, a lot of the time, people just see the violence but they don't think about the people behind it. These are problems that have been in our communities for generations, but historically Lago PD's methods of over-policing have never offered us the solution we needed. And recently, they've escalated to firing in every direction and hoping that'll fix things.”
ooh. sounds like this fic might be for me...

That’s exactly how he wanted it, especially after Mr. Gonzales, sent out his machoke against his wife’s not-so-secret boyfriend last month. Miguel and Fiera had to step in to prevent the machoke—and, more importantly, his trainer—from going on a rampage.
don't need the second comma there. whoa though, this is really something. don't think i've ever thought about people using pokémon against other humans for domestic issues like this.

The sight of the tequeños—a traditional Venitian dish—immediately made Miguel’s mouth water, even as he saw the oil dripping from the strainer and remembered that he was trying to eat more healthy. Eh, he could burn it all later.
hah, what a mood. you really make the tequeños sound tasty, not by describing them outright but by describing miguel's perception of them.

i think "he could burn it off later" would work better there.

Flavor from the hot cheese immediately inundated his mouth, awakening his taste buds and causing him to pull his head back as the overwhelming taste washed over him.
wow, love this description. very vivid. i feel like it's pretty hard to really make food sound tasty over text but you're doing a number here, lol.

Miguel nodded his head, eyes drawn to the portable fryer. Lago was strict when it came to who could serve food on the street, you needed a license--what didn’t you need one for?--and to opt for one you needed citizenship; not something first generation immigrants like Mr. Palmar and his family could get so easily. They were left alone for the most part, but whenever street activity increased, so did cops that wanted to make it seem like they were doing their job by cracking down on stands.
oof, all too real. so i'm picking up that you're treated differently before the law based on how ~established~ your family is in lago? that's certainly an interesting backdrop, especially for a world where kids travel around the world collecting badges, heh. curious how that pans out.

side-note, i'm noticing a lot of semicolons in the text for a few paragraphs starting around here and it's a bit distracting. most of them could probably be periods instead.

Seeing the shift in the young man’s expression made Mr. Palmar regret his words, but he knew it was better to tell him than to hold back information.
head-hop here.

I’ll be fine,” Miguel replied, though he didn’t turn back and his voice certainly didn’t sound as carefree as he would’ve hoped it would.
love this detail about his voice not coming out how he'd hoped. i feel like this happens to me so much.

The sight of the uninhabited, dilapidated apartments bringing back memories of his own time as Team Murkrow’s leader.
i think you need "brought" instead of "bringing" here. but damn, ex-leader, huh!? i feel like that was probably obvious from what you told me about your fic/the summary etc but somehow i didn't put it together until just now, lol.

Firearms were outlawed for normal citizens due to their lethality to humans and most pokemon.
pretty good reason i guess.

A frown crossed his face, mind suddenly wondering what Juan might’ve done
i feel like you can make this a lot more active like He frowned, suddenly wondering what Juan might've done

while Miguel crossed his arms and stood like a sagely tree in front of his ex-desk.
love this metaphor, very striking. i think "ex-desk" is a little weird—maybe "former desk" instead?

As he said those last words, Juan leapt to his feet, raising the gun in his hand. It was a long silver barrel pistol with a black tinted, straightened, sharpedo skin hilt. Based on the size of the hole at the end of the barrel, Miguel deduced it was a Rock Piercer, perfect for damaging rock types and anything else he could aim at.
damn, love this. never thought about how guns might be different in a world with pokémon, but this makes perfect sense. sharpedo skin on the hilt is hardcore as fuck, too.

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Juan’s smirk returned to his face. “Tell me why I shouldn’t bust a cap on you right now?”

“You’d lose a finger if you did.”

“What?” Juan raised an eyebrow.

A cloud of shadows materialized on Juan’s side.
omg, yes!! this is awesome, so cinematic.

this interaction is great because in addition to being cool as hell, it tells us a lot about miguel. juan is bombastic and audacious whereas miguel is much more subdued and stoic, but even with a gun pointed at him, he's able to turn the tables and assert his dominance in an instant. i was wondering how someone like miguel wound up as leader but it makes sense now—he's very good at taking control, and juan's demeanor changes completely once miguel takes hold of the situation.

Miguel turned around and began walking out of the room, only to stop right at the doorway. “By the way … who was it last night?”

“Why does it matter? El hijoeputa está muerto.”

With a pained expression Miguel replied, “Everyone leaves someone behind.”
woof, zinger. guess it's more personal than he lets on. really strong ending. really pulls the chapter together and makes it feel cohesive, too; i'm guessing this is a reference to his brother? very curious on the history there, and what the hell that nightmare sequence was at the beginning.
 

zion of arcadia

too much of my own quietness is with me
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. marowak-alola
Hullo! Excited to check this out, it seems super interesting.

I really like the angle this takes when it comes to gang warfare and police brutality. The relationship between poverty and violence isn’t something I often see explored in pokemon fanfiction, so this made for a nice change of pace. It also feels explicitly urban compared to most stories. I particularly love how tight-knit the community feels and how everyone knows everyone else in at least some capacity. Miguel’s relationship with Lago reminds me a little of Kendrick Lamar’s relationship with Compton.

Poor Miguel is definitely suffering from some major PTSD induced night terrors, huh. He comes across as very tired and world weary, but also still intimately familiar with inter-gang politics. I especially enjoyed the scene where he outwits Juan and snags the gun.

Speaking of which, whoa, this universe has guns! And they’re very prominent, too. That’s a nice little additional wrinkle. It gives humans a way to enforce violence on a similar scale as pokemon. Or at least, not be a total non-threat.

The mystery around Miguel’s brother is a strong hook to keep reading. At first, I thought Juan was his brother, so that made for a clever misdirect. I can definitely see the brother (also found it interesting how he never gets a name, contributing to his mysterious qualities) being built up as the pivotal background defining figure for Miguel. It really lets us examine their relationship--and also explore the importance of family in many cultures--in detail. Excellent choice for an antagonist.

It’s cool how pokemon can talk in this universe. I do think, given that, there’s rather a lack of character shown from Icarus and Fiera. Funny how Icarus’s name is a reference to a mythological character who flew too close to the sun. Not sure if Fiera is an explicit literary reference (google showed me a band and that was about it) although her name does mean ‘Fair’ in Italian. Lago means lake, although part of me can’t help but associate it with Iago from Othello, haha.

I’ll be curious to see what role Nadia plays down the line, as she seems to be important to Miguel somehow. Girlfriend? Best friend? Who knows. Using her and the podcast as exposition to build the world was very clever, though. Really, most of the world building feels well-integrated so far. Sometimes Miguel’s thoughts catching us up on situations did go a touch overboard, however.

Random prose musings:

His hands were covered in blood, the blood of other trainers and pokemon, the blood he’d been ordered to shed

Missing a period at the end.

The dream sequence starts off with a lot of short, clinical sentences before abruptly segueing into longer sentences. I think it might hit harder if you maintain that short bluntness throughout until the nightmare ends.

Fiera, his arcanine, laid limp just out of his reach. Her cream-colored mane was stained red, masking her in the flames around her due to her already overwhelmingly orange fur.

Could cut out everything after flames imo, otherwise it feels awkward, like a run-on sentence.

A wave of revulsion pulled him away from the sea of corpses in an attempt to keep the vomit down.

You use the sea metaphor twice in rapid succession. Personally I like this one better because ‘wave of revulsion’ makes for a nice parallel.

his heart beat against his chest like an electric type about to discharge a thunderbolt.

Bit of a silly simile, pulls me out of the serious atmosphere. Could change ‘heart beat’ to ‘heart hammered’ or something along those lines and achieve a similar effect.

Juan was still in shock, eyes darting around as he made sure his right hand still had all its fingers

I just like how casually this showcases the violence of their world.

Normally I’d showcase a poem here, but I’ll share a Kendrick lyric instead since I think it fits the mood perfectly:

AK's, AR's, ayy y'all, duck
That's what momma said when we was eating the free lunch
Aw man, goddamn, all hell broke loose
You killed my cousin back in '94, fuck your truce
Now crawl your head in that noose
You wind up dead on the news
Ain't no peace treaty, just pieces BG's up to pre-approve
Bodies on top of bodies
IVs on top of IVs
Obviously the coroner between the sheets like the Isleys
When you hop on that trolley, make sure your colors correct
Make sure you're corporate, or they'll be calling your mother collect

--m.A.A.d City by Kendrick Lamar
 

Persephone

Ace Trainer
Pronouns
her/hers
Partners
  1. vulpix-alola
Huh. Can't remember if I read ye olden drafts or not but this felt new. There are some comma problems before the confrontation at Murkrow HQ. I'm sure the eight reviews above me did line-by-lines, so I won't here.

Latin America inspired region is cool. Current regions are limited to 3 or 4 continents (depending on if Alola counts as part of Oceania or not). Seeing a region that isn't based on Europe / the US / Japan allows for a lot of fun possibilities. I've never actually been south of the border, so I'll trust people closer to the region to discuss accuracy and what not. World felt real enough to me.

You do start the story off with two cliches of opening exposition: a dream sequence/flashback(?) followed by a news report on something conveniently related to the story but not actually kicking it off. Maybe that could be bridged better by having him learn about the shooting from the radio. Even if he didn't know that it was Juan who shot, he'd at least be out looking for information. It would add a sense of purpose both to the radio scene and to the subsequent one.

Story really picked up during the confrontation. Some of the best writing I've seen from you in both dialogue and action / storyboarding. Amusing that Juan got wrecked by murkrow tricks, since he should be the reigning king of those. Guns designed to hurt pokemon is also cool. Miguel having unshakeable confidence with a gun pointed at him is also one heck of a character introduction.

I'll be back for next chapter.
 

canisaries

voted most likely to be edgy
Location
the middle of nowhere
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. custom/inkay-shirlee
There it is, the fic that gave me the idea to start learning Spanish! And two years later... I've quit it in favor of Russian. How embarrassing.

Anyway - it's definitely as you said, this first chapter is certainly not the same as the one I read all that time ago. I didn't get far enough with the old one to confidently say the change of POV is for the better, but with all this history of the gang and Miguel, it would definitely have taken longer to get to that from the POV of an outsider. I do wonder how the delivery boy will factor in now, though, as his original purpose to me felt like it was to act as the audience's vehicle for finding out more about this gang - a purpose that's rendered irrelevant now that we're in nearly the heart of the team. I would guess that he's there to ground Miguel, but Miguel already seems pretty grounded, so... it remains to be seen.

But let's get to the story itself now. To me, this chapter started out somewhat dragging its feet, but it certainly straightened itself out towards the end with that wonderfully tense confrontation with Juan. We do have drama in the introductory dream sequence, but I think the description somewhat retraced its own steps a little too much to flow at a brisk enough pace. What follows is a traditional slowdown in terms of tone and events in the form of a morning routine and a food stand visit, which is alright by itself, but it slowness can fatigue a reader if they already found the intro not to move along fast enough. Either way, the situation takes a turn for the dramatic as Miguel gets the news of last night's gang confrontation, and to me the story nicely kicked up there and kept its pace well until the end.

The main character also comes across as very likable. Treats his pokemon and friends right, wants violence to end, isn't afraid to stand up for his cause, dealing with past trauma - a surefire recipe for a character to root for. There is a small risk of this lapsing to a character without (enough) flaws, but I don't think I know enough about him yet to make that kind of judgment. And the lack of prevalent flaws is really only a problem if the character loses their relatability, and Miguel hasn't come close to that yet, so you're likely well in the safe zone.

Now for some quote comments:

Her cream-colored mane was stained red, masking her in the flames around her due to her already overwhelmingly orange fur.
I only really managed to tell what this sentence was saying once I really deeply analyzed it and even now I'm not sure. It could definitely be worded more clearly or just omitted in general since it feels like a small detail that's not really worth the trouble of a complicated explanation.

his deddene plushie
*dedenne

“I think we’ve talked at length about the ways in which Lago PD has been confronting rising gang violence in the city. But what would you suggest a normal citizen could do?” his ears perked up from the podcast he was listening to on his phone.
I don't think this dialogue tag really works. It's at the end of a veeery long line which means the reader has to wait that long to be able to properly figure out who is saying this and from where, and "his ears perked up" I don't think can be used as a dialogue tag action in general. It'd be simpler as:

(...) His ears perked up from the podcast he was listening to on his phone.

“I think we’ve talked at length about the ways in which Lago PD has been confronting rising gang violence in the city. But what would you suggest a normal citizen could do?”


Exactly. That’s why we’re encouraging everyone interested to join us next week when we march through Rainbow Road.
our sources tell us that mario will be there, as well as luigi

the Stop the Spread movement
this line can never be read the same in a post-corona world

He proceeded to put on a pair of rings, an unzipped black hoodie, and a sun necklace over his plain tee. The necklace was actually Miguel’s Helios Badge, the first badge he’d gotten when he set out on his journey.
miguel drip
miguel drip

That’s exactly how he wanted it, especially after Mr. Gonzales, sent out his machoke against his wife’s not-so-secret boyfriend last month.
Stray comma after Mr. Gonzales?

He’d been just like them before.

That thought crossed his head as he was escorted by a couple of Team Murkrow members
The first line reads as a reaction to the people he's describing in the paragraph before, so the second line saying it's instead a thought he had later is kind of weird. It is also kind of redundant to say that he's thinking a line when that line being in the narration already basically implies the POV character is thinking it.

He didn’t wear a shirt, letting the whole world see the tattoo on the left side of his chest.
JACOB KEEP YOUR SHIRT ON

“Cut the bullshit, Juan,” Miguel spat back, clear disdain in his voice
A little redundant again, the disdain can be seen from his word choice and the verb "spat" already.

As he said those last words, Juan leapt to his feet, raising the gun in his hand. It was a long silver barrel pistol with a black tinted, straightened, sharpedo skin hilt. Based on the size of the hole at the end of the barrel, Miguel deduced it was a Rock Piercer, perfect for damaging rock types and anything else he could aim at.
ooooh pokemon guns i am here for them

“Mamaguevo,” Icarus gloated while shooting Juan’s murkrow, a proud smirk.
That is one wild comma there - made me think for a split second that the bird just shot another bird. Think you want it out.

Juan was still in shock, eyes darting around as he made sure his right hand still had all its fingers. “What the fuck!?” he finally uttered, bravado completely gone and replaced with heavy panting and quivering lips as he accidentally stepped back against the desk.
everybody gangsta till the bird steal they guns

With a pained expression Miguel replied, “Everyone leaves someone behind.”

End of Chapter 1

Next Time: A gangster’s pride
Minor, but I think it'd be better to italicize or bold the chapter end mark here as at first glance it looks like the story is continuing.

Anyway: this chapter fulfils its role as the first chapter really well. We get just the right amount of information about the world and characters to get our footing in it, but not so much that it'd get overwhelming or even expodumpy. The slowness of the beginning had me somewhat lukewarm towards the story, but by the end I was much more engaged and will likely continue reading. Good luck with writing onward.
 

DeliriousAbsol

*Crazy Absol Noises*
Staff
Location
Behind a laptop, most likely with tea
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. mawile
Here for Catnip!

First, I'll admit I don't often read trainer 'fics. The opening drew me in straight away, getting into action that turned out to be a bad dream. I liked that. You got an insight into the MC's head from the get-go, which established his character pretty quickly. Your writing style flows very well too, and I don't recall noticing any typos. This is a pretty solid piece for an opening chapter.

His eyes bulged; his heart beat against his chest like an electric type about to discharge a thunderbolt.
I both liked this and found it confusing. I'm not sure how a heart-beat can be likened to an electric-type? It left me thinking for a moment, and I'm wondering if this needs re-visiting..?

I've wanted to go to Venice for a long time, so I quite liked this setting. The market guy selling a Venician snack had me intrigued. Is that an actual food? (It would probably do me no good as I'm lactose intolerant, but I'm rather curious XD ) As the story ticks on, I'd quite like to see how you incorporate the canals if there are any in your created region?

The gang warfare is an unsettling concept, and you've painted it very well. The innocent pokemon battle between two new trainers surrounded by adults placing bets was a massive contrast, and it really brings out the unpleasantness of the city. I am in support of the police and strongly believe everyone should abide by the law, but reading the struggle of someone who's not a citizen just trying to make a living showed the hard life your characters live and it did create sympathy. That was well done. (I'll add a side-note here that I live in the UK and I'm aware of what has been happening in America with the police, and I do not support racism at all!)

I did find myself lost at points, but that is probably down to my attention span at the moment. I found the argument with Juan a bit difficult to understand. There's warfare between two gangs, but I couldn't work out why the gun was such a point of anxiety for the main character. Please don't take this as negative criticism as like I said, my attention span is pretty dire right now, but this mystery with the gun has left me rather curious. Are we not meant to know yet why it's such an issue, or have I simply missed something? I liked the description of it and the note that it can shoot through rock. Are they utilizing pokemon abilities to create weapons? D=

The pokemon themselves were delightful. I liked how Miguel's murkrow just snuck in there and snatched the gun away. Also, his arcanine being 20? Wow! I have wondered how long pokemon might live, and that's a respectable age for a real world canine. The personalities were cute too. Super lazy doggo and a sassy murkrow XD

Really good work! =D
 
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