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Pokémon PMD: Elegy for Humanity

Shiny Phantump

Born of Smol and Void
Location
Hallownest
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. sylveon
  2. absol-mega
  3. silvally-psychic
Elegy For Humanity

Centuries after humans disappeared without explanation, the events that led to their extinction are threatening to repeat themselves. Can the inheritors of the planet learn from history quickly enough to prevent it from repeating itself?


Though I was planning to build up more of a backlog before starting publishing, I’ve decided to make an exception for TR and publish here early. If there’s any stray asterisks, please let me know because it means I messed up my little formatting trick.

Content warnings for mild blood, abuse, death and carnivory.


—​
Chapter 1: Ashes to Ashes

An Absol lay on a hillside in the village of Rainbow Valley, resting in a spot where the sun pooled.

“Celeste, you goof, get up. It’s midafternoon and you still haven’t done anything productive yet today.”

He tried to ignore the voice, until he found himself being poked over and over with a stick. He got up and turned to address the Braixen poking him with a branch. “C’mon, Salac. I was just getting comfortable.”

“You’ve been lying there for hours now. Did you fall asleep?”

Celeste yawned. “Oh… I guess I did.”

Salac rolled her eyes. “Come back to the shrine and get something to eat at least. I won’t have my brother going off and starving himself for a sun nap.”

Celeste’s stomach rumbled its agreement. He nodded, and the two began the walk back to the shrine that was their home. Salac walked with a nervous energy to her, a nervousness Celeste had noticed more often recently.

“Are you still worried about the Ho-Oh situation? C’mon, Salac, cut yourself a break. It’s not your fault, and the townsfolk have agreed to let you act as shrinekeeper until it’s resolved.”

Salac sighed. “It’s been a month. A month, Celeste! We still don’t know what’s happened to Ho-Oh! Even if I weren’t waiting for them to officialize my keeperhood, I’d still be nervous. Ho-Oh doesn’t just disappear like this! Even when Ho-Oh wants to reject someone, they at least do in person!”

Celeste stepped closer and brushed up against her. “I know. I also know that you worrying about it for hours on end won’t do anything but drive you mad. You have enough to worry about with the whole leadership matter. You can’t worry yourself about this on top of everything else.”

Salac laughed, and gave Celeste a squeeze. “Well, I don’t have to worry too much about my shrinekeeper duties, seeing as you offer to do the better half of them for me. Can I not get away with a bit of worrying?”

Celeste rolled his eyes. “Fi-i-ine, you have my permission to worry a bit, but only a little bit!”

At that moment, a chilling sensation overtook Celeste’s horn. He froze in place.

“Celeste? Is everything okay?”

The feeling spread from his horn out to the rest of his body. His heart was beating like a drum, his fur stood on end. He’d sensed disasters before, but the sensation had never spread beyond his horn like this before. This was different.

“Earth to Celeste? What’s wrong?”

He found it hard to speak. The sensation had begun to hurt, making it hard to focus on the words he wanted to say. “Disaster… sense…”

Salac placed a paw on his chin, then lifted his head until she could see into his eyes. Salac’s eyes were warm, full of concern and compassion. Celeste’s own eyes were wide open, but his pupils had dilated. He looked like a cornered feral.

Salac knelt down and drew him up into a hug. “Are you still with me? Celeste? Are you okay?”

Celeste blinked back tears. “Not… okay…”

“Celeste. Celeste? You need to get out of here. I’ll handle whatever comes next. You’re in no fit condition to do anything more until you’re clear of this disaster. Okay? You hear me? I’ve got it from here.”

Celeste pulled back from the hug and nodded. Before turning to flee the clearing into the woods around, he took one last look back home. Just in case.

He ran with no direction. None at least, other than away, deeper and deeper into the woods. He felt as if his legs were possessed by a force beyond his will. He wanted to stop, to curl up and cry, but raw self-preservation kept his legs in motion.

The rhythmic sound of his footsteps began to overtake his focus, luring him into a trance, where instinct controlled his body as his mind slowly turned off.

He stayed in that trance until his muscles began to burn, the soreness pulling him back to reality. He wanted the foreboding feeling of the disaster sense to fall away, so that he could collapse to the ground and rest.

How far must he have run by now? Why did he still sense impending disaster? Even if he couldn’t escape, why hadn’t the disaster arrived already? It was unlike his previous experience with the sense for it to leave him in suspense for so long.

He heard a terrible screech. The sound of a massive beast, crying out from either pain or bloodlust. Either meant danger. Had he managed to run himself toward the disaster, instead of away?

Darkness fell over the spot Celeste was standing. Looking up toward the sky above him, he saw the creature casting the shadow. Parts of it appeared to be a bird with rainbow feathers. The feathers of Ho-Oh.

Other parts bore no such resemblance. The deity Celeste was so familiar with had become covered in ebony crystal growths, like an obsidian parasite. Ho-Oh’s entire head was buried beneath the substance, and yet they seemed to be able to see well enough to fly.

Ho-Oh began to circle, as though they sensed Celeste below. The crystal covering their beak parted to allow Ho-Oh to emit a tortured cry. A geyser of flame escaped their maw, clinging unnaturally to the lush woods Celeste ran through as if it were dry grass.

Ignoring the protests of his body, Celeste redoubled his pace, until the pain in his horn finally faded. He spared a moment to turn and look back at the skies above. Ho-Oh had moved on from circling Celeste’s position, flying in the opposite direction. The way Celeste had come.

Towards his home.

Without his disaster sense forcing him forward, the adrenaline faded. All the feelings of fatigue and loss it had been repressing welled up inside him.

As the light from the burning trees flickered around him, he broke down and cried.

Though no longer did the spectre of approaching disaster haunt him, the flames still crept along until the trees surrounding him were left as unrecognizable pillars of flame. Once the gathering heat began to hurt, he forced himself back up. He began to run further through the woods, fleeing the flickering flames. As he progressed, the flames thinned. The trees, which had been fully consumed by the fire further back, were now only beginning to take.

Celeste began to hear a new sound, mingling with the crackling flames. The sound of running water. Forcing himself into one last sprint, he pushed himself towards the source.

The river came into view. He plunged himself into it, letting the cold water sap the heat from his body and fatigue from his muscles. Though the memory of the loss he felt still lingered in the corners of his mind, he began to laugh.

He was alive. Alive!

He kneeled down until he was neck deep in the water, then splashed water up onto his face. There would be time to mourn what he had lost later, for now, Celeste simply reveled in the fact that he had evaded what he had thought would be his end.

Eventually, Celeste noticed the shadows growing longer. He had to find somewhere to sleep soon, unless he wished to sleep in the open. He crossed the river, shaking what water he could from his fur.

He could see the smoke from the fire rising on the other side of the river, coming close to where he was, but he was relatively confident the river’s breadth would keep it from spreading any further.

He turned his focus back to the space in front of him. The woods showed no sign of stopping. Should he just keep wandering, hoping to find someone or someplace? If only there was a path, or something else that would guide him to civilization.

Like the river. For water types, it may as well have been a path. If he followed the riverbank, he should come to civilization… or to a lake or ocean. Still, the riverbank was the best shot he had. With any luck, he’d find something.

Eventually, a young Oshawott popped out of the river. Celeste jumped back in surprise, but the Oshawott seemed friendly. “Hey, there! I ain’t seen any Absol around here before! It’s nice to meet you!”

Celeste was a bit taken aback by the sudden friendliness, but he put on a polite smile and nodded. This was his shot at finding civilization. “Y-Yes, nice to meet you, too. I’ve been displaced from my home and I’m a bit lost. Do you know where the nearest town is?”

Oshawott pointed further downstream. “You’re going the right way, it’s not much farther! Also, what does ‘displaced’ mean, sir?”

Celeste sighed in relief. He’d gone a decent way already, and was glad he didn’t have to backtrack. In the worry, he’d almost forgotten he was talking to a kid. “Oh, yes. It means I had to leave… because of a fire.”

“Oh! That’s not good.”

Celeste let out a hollow laugh. “No. Indeed it isn’t.”

“Are you gonna come live with us in our town?”

“I think so… I’m not entirely sure.”

“I hope I see you around, Mister Absol! Bye!” Oshawott smiled, dove back into the river, and returned to swimming upstream.

“Thank you for your help,” Celeste said, though he doubted the kid could still hear him. He took a moment to compose himself. Though he wasn’t sure what would happen once he reached the village; he had to get there before he could figure that out.

He resumed his journey. He hoped the kid had been right in saying it wasn’t much farther. The sun had been making good progress towards the horizon, and it wouldn’t be much longer before nightfall.

It wasn’t long before he saw a few plumes of chimney smoke rising above the treeline.

He entered the village. At first, the streets were just packed dirt, but as he explored, he eventually found roads paved with stone. He got some looks as he wandered, and a few locals greeted him, but he was largely ignored. It seemed foreigners weren’t too out of place here. It felt unusual to him that he didn’t look out of place in somewhere so new to him, but river towns saw more traffic than the Rainbow Valley, where few travellers came.

On the cobbled streets of the town’s heart, he found a building with an inn’s sign. He took a deep breath, then entered. Seeing as he didn’t have money, this was going to be an awkward conversation.

He pushed through the door flap and saw a Florges behind a desk. He made eye contact with her before speaking. “Hello. Do you have work in exchange for room and board?”

Florges glared at him. “If you can’t pay, get out. We’re no charity. Go skulk in the burrows like some kind of feral. They’re on the outskirts of town, opposite side from the waterway. You’ll fit right in there.”

Celeste flinched at being called feral. He was aware he didn’t look his best right now, but he really wasn’t in the mood for insults. He managed to keep his irritation off his face, after all, losing his composure would do him no favours.

“Very well,” he murmured. Despite his frustration, he tried to at least take solace in the fact that it was over quickly.

As he turned to leave, a little Floette bounded up to him. “Hey, mister! Mister! You should go take me to the ruins so we can explore and find all kinds of ancient treasures and we can sell them and you’ll have money and you’ll not have to worry about paying momma anymore!”

The scoul trying to force itself onto his face melted away, and he smiled. “Oh? You want to be a ruins explorer?”

Florges cleared her throat loudly and glared at her kid. “Excuse me. Begging this ruffian won’t change the fact you aren’t allowed to poke around in the human ruins! They’re dangerous.”

“But momma! How can I be an explorer if I can’t explore?”

The two of them began to argue. “I’ll see myself out…” Celeste murmured, slipping back out through the door.

He took a moment to recollect his thoughts. He hadn’t gotten a place, but he’d learned two things: There were burrows on the edge of town, if he was desperate, and there were human ruins nearby. Human relics could be valuable, so it was worth checking out.

Taking note of the sun setting over the horizon, he decided the first order of business was to find a cave. He sighed. Burrow-dwelling wasn’t exactly an appealing way to spend the day, but he was exhausted after hours of running. The idea of finding somewhere to collapse was plenty appealing.

From the cobbled streets in the heart of the town, Celeste worked his way back out to streets of packed dirt, winding his way back towards the outskirts. Eventually, the streets gave out entirely. He found his way towards the wall of what seemed to be a ravine carved out long ago, before the nearby river wore its way to its current location.

The ravine wall was littered with burrows. Most clustered at the bottom, but a few higher up on the wall. Though the ones at the bottom were occupied to no exception, some of the burrows higher up were empty, inaccessible as they were to those without the climbing skill to reach them.

Though Celeste had little experience in climbing, Absol were built for the mountains. He took a deep breath to clear his mind of thoughts, so instinct could bubble up to the surface. Though deceptively soft earth lured him some missteps, he made it up.

The burrow was indeed as empty as it had seemed from the outside. Coals of an old campfire sat near the back, but Celeste didn’t waste time trying to ignite it. He curled up into a ball on the floor. Moments later, he was asleep.

—​

The sun’s rays crept into the burrow, stirring Celeste from his sleep. He stretched his muscles. Unsurprisingly, he found himself sore. After all the stress he put on his body running yesterday, followed by sleeping on hard earth, he had expected the soreness to be worse.

Today, he wanted to track down the ruins and haul back whatever was the most valuable thing he could find… Though he would have to find them first.

The best way to do that would be to ask around, and if he wanted to do that, the first order of business was presentability. He took a solid half hour grooming out the evidence of yesterday’s events from his coat. Once he was satisfied that he looked civilized once again, he struck back out for the village. Hopefully, he’d find some kind of explorer-looking type who could tell him there the ruins were.

After a few rejections, he stumbled on a scrappy-looking Mienfoo who could answer his question. She pulled out a map and showed him the location. She tried to make smalltalk during the exchange, but she was no good at it herself. Celeste was more than happy to take over the conversation, and despite being the one to start the forced-feeling smalltalk, she seemed more than happy to let him take over.

Once the awkward exchange of information came to a close, he nodded politely, thanked her for her time, and made his way to the ruins. The path ended up seeing him retrace his footsteps along the riverbank he’d come along, going in the opposite direction. To his surprise, the treeline on both sides of the river wasn’t burned. The fire hadn’t spread as far as Celeste had expected it to.

In the end, the ruins were visible from the riverbank. A sign bore runes of unreadable humanscript, labeling the entrance. Instead of a proper flap, the ruins had a solid plate of metal with a handle for a door, and though the metal had a small cutout with a miniature flap, it wouldn’t accommodate a full grown Absol.

Instead, he placed the base of his horn beneath one of the rusted hinges and pried at it until it broke. After a bit more abuse, the door fell free, centuries of neglect having left it unable to stand up to his attack. It fell to the floor, kicking up a cloud of dust.

He walked into the ruins, each step stirring a small cloud of dust from the long-neglected floor. From the ceiling, glass bulbs hung from strings. When he stepped far enough into the ruins, the bulbs flickered and began to emit a dim light.

Salac had been interested in old human things. He’d heard her talk about the things she read about them, and he remembered her mentioning these glass bulbs… but no one had known what their purpose was. Now, Celeste was seeing these bulbs for himself… and they were full of light.

She would’ve loved to see this, if she were here. What a shame, Celeste thought, that she stayed behind… Stayed home, when their home had burned…

He shook off the thought. He didn’t have time to worry about his sister. Nor did he have time to worry about the bulbs of light. He took a deep breath and forced himself to continue. He had entered a hallway, lined with more metal doors. Unlike the door to the outside, these ones were protected from the elements, and had no rusted weaknesses for Celeste to exploit.

He walked further down the hall, hoping to find a room he could enter. He noticed one door had a small flap cut into the metal door, but like the flap on the outer door, it was too small for him to enter. He continued past it.

One door was slightly ajar, far enough that Celeste could pull it open. The room inside was… barren. The one and only noticeable point of interest was a machine that looked like a bed with a domed cover made from green glass. That, and the dust on the floor, if one counted it as interesting on the merits of sheer quantity.

The machine was too big to carry, and it didn’t have any seemingly salvageable parts. Celeste prepared to move on. Hopefully this wasn’t what every other room was like…

Why did this machine get a room all to itself anyways? The heavy steel door, if closed, could’ve kept out anything short of a Tyrantrum. Perhaps the room existed to stop anything from getting in? If the machine was fragile, it would make sense to want to keep anything feral from trying to nest in there.

Whatever the case, Celeste saw nothing of value to salvage. He sighed. Of course there wasn’t, finding treasure in human ruins was a childish fantasy, suggested to him by a child. He’d let his desperation lure him into a ridiculous plan…

But now that he was here… It couldn’t hurt to finish checking the place out. After all, he’d already solved the mystery of the glass bulbs, which were supposed to be bulbs of light, so perhaps this ruin was special in some way. A place with other mysterious things to be found within.

None of the other doors were left ajar, but when he came to the end of the hallway, Celeste found a tank. It was a medium-sized metal tank sitting on a plastic receptacle. The tank had an image of a triangle with a lightning bolt on it, with a humanscript label written beneath it. It had a big plastic string attached to it, though the string was slack, the tank was not dangling from it. The other end of the string disappeared into the roof.

Celeste stopped to think for a moment, trying to puzzle out what it was in front of him. He came to a conclusion: The rubber string was not, in reality, a string. It was a tube. The tank contained lightning, as per its label, which flowed through the tube into the roof. The strings that the bulbs of light hung from were also tubes, and the lightning flowed from the tubes into the bulbs. Lightning glows, so the bulbs light up then they have lightning inside.

His heart rate picked up. That tank would be a valuable discovery! He pulled it loose from the receptacle. In order to take it with him, he would have to cut the tube. Cutting the tube would probably let the lightning leak out of the tank, but it was of no use to him bound to the ruins. Looking inside to see the structure of the tank itself would still be incredibly valuable.

With the sharp end of his horn, he cut the tube. When he did so, the bulbs flickered out. He was correct! The bulbs were fueled by the lightning in the tank. To his surprise, the tube was plugged with metal, keeping the lightning inside.

Oh. Right. Of course the tube was filled with metal, it would be a better conductor of electricity than air. For a moment there, he’d been expecting the humans to be channeling raw lighting.

He began to roll the tank back down the hall, making his way towards the exit. After a few minutes, he began to hear noises coming from a few of the rooms. A muted thunk… thunk… thunk…

He left the tank behind to return to the room with the open door. If he wanted to know what those noises were, that room was his best shot. He wanted to get there before it stopped, and the lightning tank was slowing him down.

Once he entered the room, he heard the strange device from before letting out the same noise that had been coming from some of the other rooms. He went up to inspect the glass case… It was almost as if something was moving inside it.

His horn was hit with a tickling sensation. Reacting on instinct to his disaster sense, he lept back as the case exploded into shards of glass and an outpour of liquid. A creature twice Celeste’s size emerged from inside the tank.

Its head was buried beneath a thick metal helmet. It held its head low so that the liquid from the tank could drain out the eyeholes. From beneath the helmet, soggy silver feathers poked out. The feathers were long, covering the neck, and further down to the shoulders. It was quadrupedal, but had green talons where its forelegs should have been. The rest of its body was covered in pale fur, with the exception of its scaled, piscine tail.

Once the liquid had finished draining from the helmet, its head lurched upwards to stare at Celeste, eyes full of fury visible through the holes in the helmet.

Ho-Oh redeem my soul,” Celeste murmured at the sight of it. He had assumed the steel doors were to keep ferals out, but now he realized he was mistaken.

The doors were to keep these in.

But he’d just had to go straight to the one door that had been left open. The one place where this failsafe hadn’t been in place. Now, he had to face this creature.

As it reared up onto its hind legs, Celeste’s horn alerted him of the incoming attack. He sidestepped out of the creature’s path. It sent the crushing weight of its helmet and body down on the spot he’d been a moment ago, shaking the ground and sending a cloud of dust and pulverized concrete into the air.

Under the cover of the cloud, Celeste swung his horn onto the creature’s underbelly. It bounced off… scales? The creature had had fur on its underbelly. Could it possibly have scales beneath the fur?

It noticed the blow, and turned to face him again. He retreated further into the dust cloud. It was beginning to disperse, so he needed to act quickly. Remembering a special technique he’d learned, he gathered static in his fur, sending it standing on end, then discharged it in a wave. Most never expected an Absol to gather a thunder wave, and this beast was no exception. Its limbs failed it, and it fell onto its side.

A coarse voice came from beneath the helmet.

wh… why?

Celeste slowly blinked. He’d assumed the creature was feral. “You… You tried to crush me. I had to defend myself.”

“Why… here? Why am I?”

It seemed the creature wasn’t quite thinking straight. “I don’t know, I… I just found you here. Do you know why you were put here?”

They shivered, and let out a little whimper. “I… I don’t work. I didn’t do… what I was supposed to.”

Celeste sat down beside them. He may not be in the Rainbow Valley, and there may not even be a Ho-Oh for him to be beholden to anymore, but helping those in need was a principal that had been drilled into him since he was a pup. He couldn’t just leave this confused, scared thing here… Even if they did frighten him.

“Listen, the paralysis should wear off soon. How about this: once you feel better, I’ll take you back to the place I’m staying. We can figure out what to do from there.”

The creature was confused. “Why? Why would you do that?”

Celeste let out a single laugh. “Well, you seem like you could use some help… A lot of help, really. It’s my duty to give help to those who need it. Understand?”

“Understood,” they responded, though their tone of voice implied they didn’t quite understand as clearly as they claimed.

They sat in silence for a moment before Celeste revived the conversation. “My name is Celeste. Do you have a name? I could use something to call you.”

The chimera grumbled. “My name is Metheus. I don’t like it. It is a silly name.”

“Oh, I see. Is there something else you’d rather be called?”

“No. I have no other name.”

Celeste nodded. “Very well. You can always pick out another one if you like, Maytheus.”

Metheus grumbled further. “Metheus. Me-the-us.”

“Oh, I apologize, Metheus. I’ve never heard a name quite like that before.”

“I’m fine... It’s fine.”



Once Metheus could walk, the pair of them returned to the burrows. By the time they made it back to the ravine, the sun was beginning to set. Celeste had thought it best to avoid cutting through town with Metheus to avoid drawing attention, and the detour had cost them a large chunk of the day.

Fortunately, a lower burrow was empty. Celeste had been worried that, since Metheus couldn’t climb like he could, that they’d be unable to find a burrow for the night. Though they were starting to fill up, it seemed they were early enough to claim one.

Metheus’ appearance would probably be enough to dissuade anyone from trying to join them. They’d have this place to themselves for tonight. Tomorrow would be… another day. Maybe even a good one, if they were lucky.



Edit: Fixed the grammar errors listed in Kintsugi’s review.

Edit Edit: Also Adam and Phoenix’s
 
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kintsugi

golden scars
Location
waiting for the fog to roll out
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. silvally-grass
  2. lapras
  3. golurk
  4. custom/booper-kintsugi
Hey there! I think the premise here is really interesting--PMD but humanity is in the title? That's already a moldbreaker I think.

I really like post-apocalyptic stories as a venue for storytelling, since as a setting it gives a lot of room for seeing how people heal from disasters. This world seems really interesting--humanity fell, but pokemon lived on? I think that's a really neat segue into the PMD world and also explains a lot of the weird humanisms that tend to crop up, and it also asks a lot of tricky questions about the human-pokemon relationship by suddenly removing one side from the equation and examining what happens to the other. I also think this is a really fun version of the apocalypse where the characters are so far removed from the disaster/the society that came before--they aren't trying to go back to some normalcy from the past, since they don't know it and don't want it any more. So where do they go from here? I loved how this setting choice opens up so many questions.

Celeste is a really cool viewpoint character too. Absol has such a fun toolset, and it's kind of ironic to see one in a destroyed world--what's left to warn about in a world that's been destroyed? / turns out, a lot. I liked how you used the disaster sense both as a visceral, gut-twisting emotion with the first appearance, and then more as a casual, nonchalant sense when battling Silvally. It was really neat to see how this guided Celeste in multiple situations.

The sun’s rays crept into the burrow, stirring Celeste from his sleep. He stretched his muscles. Unsurprisingly, he found himself sore. After all the stress he put on his body running yesterday, followed by sleeping on hard earth, he had expected the soreness to be worse.
I kinda wanted more reaction from Celeste on the whole home-destroyed by (necrozma?)Ho-oh here. You do a really good job of coaxing out the sickening feeling that comes with the disaster, how gross it feels with the danger sense, how wrong everything is, but then the aftermath is very calm. This wake-up scene gives me vibes of like, "yesterday, Celeste went too hard at the gym and now he's sore", not "yesterday, Celeste ran point-blank from the corrupted visage of his chosen patron god, who crashed in like a flaming nuke from the heavens and destroyed his entire home." Is he concerned for everyone else? What does he think happened to Salac, his home, everyone he's known? I kind of get why you would want to coax him past these feelings, since there's still a lot of plot to uncover, but at the same time it's hard to judge the magnitude of this event since it almost feels buried by the rest of the plot in this chapter--we spend more time musing on lightbulbs than processing this event.

It’s head was buried beneath a thick metal helmet. It held its head low so that the liquid from the tank could drain out the eyeholes. From beneath the mask, soggy silver feathers poked out. The feathers were long, covering the neck, and further down to the shoulders. It was quadrupedal, but had green talons where its forelegs should have been. The rest of its body was covered in pale fur, with the exception of its scaled, piscine tail.
Oh shit! I was really thinking this was going to be Mewtwo here, but Silvally is way better so I'm super glad we went this route. There's a lot of interesting directions you can go with the ultra beast killer pokemon in an apocalypse ... looks like maybe humans tried to build something/someone to prevent their own demise, but failed?

Tomorrow would be… another day. Maybe even a good one, if they were lucky.
Ah yes, absol, known for being very lucky.

Some grammar/phrasing things:
Even if Ho-Oh wants to reject someone, they at least do in person!”
The if/when layout here confused me a bit + you dropped a word. If is a subjunctive/might not happen thing, but "they at least do" is a statement that implies it does happen. I think you want either:
> Even if Ho-oh wants to reject someone, they'd at least do it in person!
> When Ho-oh wants to reject someone, they at least do it in person!

Even if he couldn’t escape, why hadn’t the disaster arrived already.
Dropped a question mark here I think?

The deity Celeste was so familiar with had become covered in ebon crystal growths
ebon -> ebony

A sign bore runes or unreadable humanscript
I think this should be "of" instead? Less sure on this one, but it seems weird to parse out humanscript and then have it be maybe human script or something else instead of definitely humanscript.

It was almost as if something was *moving inside it.
I think your markdown -> italics here got dropped into a stray asterisk

This one is a lot of fun! Looking forward to seeing how/if/when they unspool the mystery of what came before, and how that guides them into what comes next.
 
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Adamhuarts

Mew specialist
Partners
  1. custom/mew-adam
  2. custom/celebi-shiny
  3. custom/roserade-adam
I'd been meaning to check out this fic for a while and I've finally decided to go on about it.

To start off, I will say that the premise of this fic is pretty interesting. It takes place in a post-modern apocalyptic society where the humans are gone, but pokemon have taken their place. It reminds me of Sike Saner's Communication fic universe, though this one has pmd as its designation. The other difference being that this one takes place at least a few centuries after humans were gone.

I feel a bit mixed about the way the events in this chapter were structured however, and also with Celeste, the protagonist. The most jarring thing about this so far is how underwhelming his reaction to see a corrupted Ho-oh heading to burn down his home was. Given that he has disaster sense, and is an Absol, I'd have thought his first instinct would be to warn whoever runs the village that a great disaster is coming. Instead, we see him just run away in a random direction and just so happens to encounter the very presence that triggered his spider sense. That whole series of events is confusing to say the least.

While I did like the other half of the chapter where he went into that town, it honestly felt largely disconnected to the events of the first half. As if seeing a corrupted Ho-oh and blazing flames all around him had become a thing of the distant past. There's also the fact that a lot of the second half had more telling than showing with us barely getting any dialogue from characters and even exchanges that happened, like with the scrappy mienfoo. Even if they were a minor character, I'd have loved to see that exchange happened and seeing how Celeste negotiated information out of them, rather than it being skimmed through in narration.

I do find it intriguing that he found what I presume to be an ancient experimental laboratory with a Silvally/Type-Null being kept inside. Metheus also seemed a bit too fluent and up to speed for someone who's probably spent a long long time in a frozen chamber, and his encounter with Celeste possibly being his first exposure out of it. I do look forward to seeing what the deal with him is, and also whatever happened to Ho-oh or if Salac is even still alive. She probably survived somehow.
 
Chapter 2: Wayward Spirit

Shiny Phantump

Born of Smol and Void
Location
Hallownest
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. sylveon
  2. absol-mega
  3. silvally-psychic
Chapter 2: Wayward Spirit

Pneumatics hissed as a glass cover retracted, revealing a tiny Vulpix quivering on the platform beneath. Her pale fur was wet and flattened against her body.

She opened her eyes and looked around, soaking up her surroundings. She was on a soggy metal platform. The platform was half covered by a cylindrical glass case, but the other half was open to the rest of the room. Around her spot on the platform were a number of rubber tubes, each ending in a metal needle. Did they just hang loosely… or had they been connected to her?

She tried to remember… Surely, she must know something about why she was here.

But… her mind was blank. She changed her goal, trying to find something, anything to give her a sense of who she was. And yet she came up with nothing. Absolutely nothing.

She felt like she should’ve had memories. Without them, she felt… lost. She could remember what a “memory” was, and she felt there was a gaping void in her mind. A spot where there should have been… something.

Without memory, she had no identity. She didn’t even have a name to call herself.

She whimpered. As far as her memory was concerned, this moment was the beginning of her life. Her gut told her she had been someone before she woke up here, but she couldn’t know for sure. That thought frightened her.

She curled up into a ball and began to cry. For some time, she remained like that, a miserable ball of wet, shivering Vulpix, alone with the bitter emptiness in her head.

Eventually, though, a painful gnawing in her stomach drew her out of her self-pity. She discovered there was a name for the feeling in her vocabulary. It was hunger. Instinct told her that it wouldn’t go away until she found something to eat.

She stood. Her legs wavered beneath her, struggling to obey her orders. She needed to get down from the platform. She lifted one forepaw, then placed it in front of her. The next followed. Then her hind paws. She repeated the cycle.

Her walk was painfully slow and mechanical. It felt unnatural to her. Handling front and back legs seemed… wrong somehow.

How could she expect to find something to eat when she could barely walk? The thought made her want to curl up and cry again, but she only had so much time left before starvation claimed her. She may have had at least a day or two, but at the truly pathetic rate she was making progress, it felt like a strict timeline to her.

She reached the edge of the platform and looked down. It would be a safe drop, but something about the scale of it felt… off. Looking down at the floor below made her feel incredibly small. The drop was several times her height. Her gut told her that was a safe distance to fall, but it still felt like that scale was wrong somehow. Like she should be… bigger?

She threw herself off the edge. Her legs gave out under her as she landed, so she ended up on her stomach, sending up a large cloud of dust as she landed on the floor. She got back up, and began to walk towards the door, leaving a trail of footprints behind her in the dust.

Noticing her own footprints, she looked around. Hers were the only set. Nobody else had entered the room in a long time.

She reached the door and looked up at the size of the doorframe. It was built for creatures much larger than her.

Fortunately, the door had a smaller window cut into it with a flap allowing a creature of her size to pass through without being able to reach the doorknob. She pushed the flap open with her nose and passed through.

As she crossed over onto the other side, she was shocked to see how much larger this area was compared to the room. If she weren’t worried about finding food, she would’ve retreated back into the familiar dusty room. This new room was frighteningly large. If a single room could have this much space, how terrifyingly vast must the entire world be?

A hallway stretched down in both directions. The hall was lined with doors, but hers was the only one with a flap. Why? Why did only she get a flap? Were there others like her who were just trapped in their rooms?

The floor in the hall was still dusty, but there were other sets of footprints, too. Ones that did not belong to her. One set crossed her going left, then two crossed back going right. Two pairs, the left and one from the right had identical paw prints. Someone making a round trip in both directions.

The third pair was odd in that it only went one way. Could the one who left that one way footprint trail still be in the building? Or could they have awoken here like her and found their way out? Or… had they died, never to leave again?

She swallowed her fear and decided to ignore that third possibility. Hopefully, if she followed in the same direction as the prints, she could either find her way out, or find her way to the one who left the prints, who could probably help her.

She just really, really hoped that her footprint-leaving guide hadn’t died. If so, she would be following them to whatever caused them to meet their end.

Fortunately, though, the footprints did lead her to the building's exit. Unlike all the indoor rooms that lined the halls, the exit door was rusted, knocked off its hinges and left on the floor.

As she stepped outside for the first time, the sun hit her eyes. She hissed and shut her eyes. For a few moments, even the light shining through her shut eyelids hurt her. After a few moments, when the pain had passed, she reopened her eyes, and found the light much more tolerable. Pleasant, even.

She looked around. Green leaves rippled in the wind. A few small flowers poked up from the rich brown earth in whatever spots sunlight reached through the trees. Compared to the dusty greys of the building, the world outside had so many colours in it.

Her heart fluttered. For a moment, her hunger was forgotten. She was caught up in the sights and smells surrounding her. The world was overwhelmingly large, more so than ever, but these woods felt much less oppressive than the empty vastness of the building.

Before she began to search for food, she turned around to take one last look at the building. Though the indoors had looked almost undisturbed for years, the exterior of the building was being taken over by the outside world, mosses and lichens dotting the walls.

Beside the door, there was a sign with runes printed in metal upon it. The colour had mostly worn off, but the runes themselves were embossed in three-dimensions. Stepping further away to get a better look at the runes from her low angle, she was able to read the sign. “Private Property. For access, please contact the Ministry of Research and Development.”

She wandered. She didn’t know where she was going, but she didn’t care. It’s not like she could become lost. She didn’t have any idea where she was, and she didn’t mind the idea of losing track of the oppressively grey building and the room full of loneliness.

It wasn’t far before she came across a river. She stared at the rushing water, thinking. Though she’d never before seen any of the things she was encountering since waking up, she still knew words for things like water and trees and flowers. She remembered what they were for, too. She had to drink water to keep herself going, or else she’d get thirsty. It worked the same way as food and hunger. She walked up to the riverside and began to lap up some of the flowing water.

As she did so, she heard a voice cry out from behind her. “Aah! It’s a spirit! Don’t haunt me!”

She whipped around to see a yellow and red furred creature standing behind her, crouching, palms readied at her sides. The vocabulary buried in the depths of her mind stirred, providing her with a name for her new discovery. It was a Mienfoo.

The Mienfoo had called her a spirit? Is that what happened to her? “Do you know what I am? What happened to me?”

Mienfoo was taken aback. “You, uhh, don’t know what happened, huh. I… uhh… I’m sorry to hear that. It looks to me like you’re the spirit of a Vulpix. A dead one.”

Her heart fluttered. “You think I’m… dead?”

“I don’t know! You kinda look all pale and things, so maybe? I’d expected you to know!”

“I don’t remember anything… Nothing at all. Well, I remembered what water was when I saw it, and I remember that you’re a Mienfoo. But… I don’t remember anything about myself or the past. I have no memories.”

“Oh. Well then. That’s… quite the situation.”

“Do you know what I should do? What are spirits supposed to do?”

Mienfoo scratched her head. “I dunno… Listen, I bumped into a guy who might know what’s up. You wanna come with me and go see him?”

She felt a fluttering of hope at the suggestion. “Yes! I do… but I need something to eat first. I’m hungry.”

“Huh? Spirits need to eat?”

She lifted one foreleg into a half-shrug. “Well, I know I’m hungry because my stomach is hurting. That means I need to eat, right?”

Mienfoo shrugged, and pulled a cluster of small blue berries from a satchel worn on her side. “I guess so?” Mienfoo handed the berry over to her.

She took a pensive nibble. It was sweet, but the texture was slimy. Still, she didn’t want to be rude, so she made herself swallow. It felt like she was eating it wrong somehow, but she couldn’t imagine what was off…

Not until an instinct welled up in her, and a breath of icy air forced its way up her throat. The cold air rolled over the berries, freezing them within a second.

Mienfoo was taken aback, but she was too focused on the food to worry about it. She tried nibbling at them again, and found that freezing the berries had gotten rid of all the wet, slimy texture from them. Now, they were quite edible, and she gobbled them up.

Mienfoo started at her with a look of confusion, leaving her to speak up for herself.

“Thank you, I feel much better. Can we go see the person you were talking about now?”

Mienfoo slowly blinked before responding. “Uhh… sure. Yeah. Let’s do that… tomorrow. You can, uhh, stay with me tonight?”

“Okay,” she said, not feeling she had much room to argue with the only lifeline between her and the indifference of nature. Mienfoo began to walk off, and waved for her to follow.

The two walked quietly for some time before the Mienfoo decided to break the silence. “So… Do you have a name? Or, uhh, do you remember one? Mine is Niko.”

A name. When she’d first woken up, it was one of the first things she’d reflexively tried to remember, but she’d failed. “I think I had one. I… don’t remember it. I don’t have one anymore.”

Niko scratched the back of her head again. Did she have an itch, or was it for some other reason? “Oh… That’s not good. Should I just call you “Vulpix” then? Or maybe “Spirit” instead?”

“I like the name Spirit,” she said. “Spirit...” She was Spirit now! Spirit was glad to have a name again, it filled the void in her memory where it felt like a name belonged.

“Okay, then. That… settles that. I… uhh…” Niko seemed to have something else she was thinking, but not saying… Niko had suggested those as something to call her, which Spirit had thought meant a name. Was she not supposed to have picked a name?

She didn’t care. It made her happy.

“Well, uhh, Spirit, let’s get going. I’ve got a room in town until tomorrow. We need to get there, like, today.” Niko resumed walking, and Spirit resumed following.

They arrived at the edge of a village. Niko guided her down the streets, countless others flowing around them. Spirit tried to focus on staying behind Niko, not wanting to get lost in the action.

Were they all like Spirit and Niko, with their own names, personalities and histories? She was once again feeling overwhelmed with the size of the world. How many others could there be? Hundreds? Maybe a thousand? She could hardly imagine all the stories there must be between all the people out there.

Niko led her to a street paved with cobblestones. They felt funny on her paw pads. About halfway down the street, Niko stopped her in front of a wooden building with a sign she couldn’t read. In the doorway, a curtain hung in place of a door. Niko pushed through the curtain, and she followed Niko in. Niko waved to a Florges being the counter. “I’m back.”

Florges perked up. “Hello, dear! Oh, you’re taking someone with you tonight? Do you want to upgrade to a double room?”

Niko shrugged. “Nah. I’m good.” She dropped her voice into a whisper so that only Spirit could hear. “Can’t afford one anyways.”

Florges giggled. “Oh, I see. Enjoy the night, girls!”

Niko grimaced, and departed to her room. Spirit followed in to find a nice room with a single soft, fluffy bed. It was like a cushion, but with a rim to stop someone rolling off the edge.

Spirit hopped straight to the bed and began to roll around. This fluffy fabric felt so nice! She loved it. Without her intending to, her tails started wagging up and down. She stretched out on the bed. “Do we get to sleep here? It’s wonderful!”

Niko nodded. “Yes. It’s a bed. Sleeping on it is kinda the point… If you’re tired, go ahead. I’ll stay up a little longer first.”

About a half hour later, Spirit began to nod off. She was safe and warm. The world, in all of it’s awe-inspiring, frightening vastness, had begun to feel more comprehensible.



When she awoke, Niko was lying on the floor, curled up asleep. The bed was large, there was enough room for Niko beside her. She considered asking why Niko didn’t want to share the bed with her, but she just let Niko keep her reasons to herself.

Niko leapt up, as if surprised Spirit had woken up before her.

“I'm awake! I’m awake! I… uhh… good morning Spirit.”

Spirit yawned, stretched and got out of the bed. She followed Niko back down the room where Florges had greeted them yesterday. Today, the desk was empty.

“C’mon, Spirit. Let’s not waste time. We’ll grab something to eat on the way.”

Niko led her out past the edges of town, where there was a tree with bark riddled by claw marks of various sizes. Niko unsheathed her claws and climbed up into the high branches. She returned with two pieces of fruit awkwardly held in one arm as she tried to descend without falling. When she made it to the ground, she passed one to Spirit. “Here, eat this. It’s nice and sweet. Better than the low-hanging fruits, or at least the ones that don’t get eaten right away.”

“Thank you.” As she went to eat, Spirit felt the same bit of instinct she’d felt earlier re-emerge. She allowed the feeling of cold to well up inside her again, then exhaled a freezing breath over the berry before eating it.

Niko stared at her. “I still don’t get how you do that. I guess spirits can chill things? I’ve heard something like that before.” Doubt was audible in her voice.

“I guess.” Both had finished their berries, but nobody had moved. Niko just stood there awkwardly. “Should we get going?” Spirit asked.

Niko scratched her head. “Oh, uhh, yeah. Let’s go.”

“Where are we going?”

“There’s someone I met yesterday. Dude asked me for directions, but then then while I was showing him my map, he was telling me his bloody life story or something. Really! Bloody small-talk. But yeah, he said all kinds of stuff about Ho-Oh and spirits and that kind of stuff, so he might be able to help.”



Niko led Spirit to a ravine lined with burrows. The first thing Spirit noticed of it was the smells. How was it possible for one place to have so many scents in it?

Niko ducked into one of the burrows, where an Absol was resting. Spirit lingered just outside the entrance, not sure if she should follow.

Niko cleared her throat. “H-Hello?”

Absol looked at her curiously. “Metheu-? Ah. You would be the Mienfoo from yesterday, no? Do you need somethi-”

Spirit took a deep breath and entered. Absol immediately took notice of her. “Oh? Who have we here? Are you… a Vulpix?”

Spirit looked away. “I… I don’t know.”

“We kinda came here to ask you about… things. I dunno, you seemed to know about spirits and things. Could she be a spirit?”

Absol walked up to Spirit and booped her on the nose. She staggered back and sneezed. “No, she’s not a spirit. Spirits are made up of the same energy as ghosts. You can’t touch them.”

Spirit whimpered. “What am I, then?”

“I know you’re not a spirit, but… I don’t have the faintest idea what you are.”



Nov 3: Edited out some errors
Nov 14: Dammit one day I will spell Florges correctly
 
Last edited:

Phoenixsong

the world's scariest violinist
Partners
  1. custom/skiddo-steplively
  2. custom/skiddo-phoenixsong2
  3. custom/skiddo-phoenixsong3
  4. custom/skiddo-iametrine
Hey there, Phan! Time for a dive into some Celeste in his natural habitat!

He got up and turned to address the Braxien poking him.

Quick typo: should be "Braixen", I before X.

I didn't realize Salac wasn't another absol! I guess you did mention that Celeste was adopted, though.

Salac sighed. “It’s been a month. A month, Celeste! We still don’t know what’s happened to Ho-Oh! Even if I weren’t waiting for them to officialize my keeperhood, I’d still be nervous. Ho-Oh doesn’t just *disappear like this! Even when Ho-Oh wants to reject someone, they at least do in person!”

And the mystery begins already, I see. Ho-Oh's gone missing not even a few paragraphs in. Also, I think I might've found one of those stray asterisks/italics, oops. The travails of converting to BBCode…

-Some disaster sense out of the gate as well! We're going to be moving along at a right old clip. m a x i m u m w o r r y

…really, though, I hadn't expected it to be this intense. I mean, this time's moreso than it apparently usually is, but it sounds like it's a bit intense on a normal day as well. I don't know that I'd have thought of that, heh; I'd imagine most people usually think of it as a general sense or vision rather than something that reverberates through the whole body.

And Salac just tells him to leave? Not to figure out what the disaster is so he can warn everyone, but to protect himself? Not a knock on Salac, really; she's trying to protect her brother! But it does make me wonder why that's her immediate reaction as opposed to curiosity, whether perhaps she actually suspects something about whatever's about to happen. Celeste just agrees, rather than trying to warn anyone as well… do they have some kind of sense that this is just a danger for him personally? So curious!

Other parts bore no such resemblance. The deity Celeste was so familiar with had become covered in ebony crystal growths, like an obsidian parasite. Ho-Oh’s entire head was buried beneath the substance, and yet they seemed to be able to see well enough to fly.

Oh, wow. This is definitely dramatic. And based on the summary, this is somehow related to what happened to the humans in the past?

As the light from the burning trees, he broke down and cried.

I think you're missing a word or few after "trees"? What's there is a pretty poignant drop, though!

Once the gathering heat began to hurt, so he forced himself back up.

I would either drop "once" or "so"; both together makes the clauses mismatched. This paragraph (and the start of the next sentence) also contains several instances of either "began" or "beginning", which could maybe do with some changing to avoid repetition? Deleting a few couldn't hurt; "beginning" to hear every action isn't really necessary (is it really important to know that we're only just getting the start of the sound or sensation? Just the present tense of the verb is enough to know that the thing is still ongoing, at least), and several of these passages would have a bit more impact or immediacy without.

There would be time to mourn what he had lost later, for now, Celeste simply reveled in the fact that he had evaded what he had thought would be his end.

This is a really interesting reaction. Everyone processes grief and dangerous situations differently, of course, but between this and both his and Salac's first instinct being "you run" rather than "everyone should run"… well, I'm not sure what to think of it yet, but it has got me wondering. Is there something about Celeste that they consider more important than everyone else?

but the Oshawott seemed friendly.

A bit telly, there, I think, and probably unnecessary. The oshawott's about to say a friendly-sounding thing right after this; let it speak for itself!

He pushed through the door flap and saw a Floreges behind a desk.

Only one E in "florges".

Go skulk in the burrows like you may as well be feral.

"like you may as well be" is a bit wordy for this sentiment, and I'm not sure it quite fits anyway. Having trouble articulating why at the moment; sorry! But I think a quick snip and reword would flow more smoothly, something like "You look like a feral; go skulk with them in the burrows".

Either way, though, ouch. This place sees travelers, but this lady assume someone who looks a little rough must be a feral? Maybe Celeste looks particularly beat up (and fair enough), but yeesh.

Today, he wanted to track down the ruins and haul back whatever was the most valuable thing he could find… Though he would have to find them first.

Wow. Right down to business, huh? I've got a lot of questions about this detachment he seems to have… it's not at all what I'd have expected, given BLC! Just processing/trying to ignore things? Is he just really good at being practical? Or, again, is there more to this? Has this kind of hasty loss and departure happened to him before?

centuries of neglect leaving it unable to stand up to his attack

This reads as a fragment as-is. I'd either use "left it unable" to keep to the past tense, or replace the preceding semicolon with a comma.

he’d been expecting the humans to be channeling raw lighting.

"lightning". Man, he's a quick study, isn't he? He does seem a very practical fellow so far…



Man! Like I said, definitely hitting the ground running, here. Ho-Oh calamities in the first couple of paragraphs, and then right into finding a type: null in a ruined lab. Breakneck pace, indeed!

I'm really curious about Celeste's general… okayness, I suppose? I've mentioned it here and there through the line-by-lines above, but I'm wondering what the deal with the detachment is. It really does seem like he could do with some time to stop and process and grieve, but again, given even Salac's response to the initial warning, I suspect it might be intentional, and it raises a fair few questions about Celeste's past. (On the off chance it's not intentional that he seems so detached, perhaps at least letting him destress and grieve a little in the cave on the first night might help a bit?)

Mostly, I'm left with a lot of questions! A Lot Has Happened already, but other than "something's wrong with the legendaries" it's not clear exactly what at the moment. And how will Metheus tie into all of this? All that to say that you've definitely caught my eye! In a bit of a rush at the moment, but I'll definitely swing back for Chapter 2 once I've got a bit more time!
 

windskull

Bidoof Fan
Staff
Partners
  1. custom/sneasel-nip
  2. bidoof
  3. absol
  4. kirlia
Hey Phant! About time I got around to this. Let’s jump right in.

To start off, I want to say you have a strong story hook. We get into the action very fast, and there’s a ton of lore packed into this chapter. You’ve stuff like how certain pokemon abilities (like absol’s disaster sense, for example) work, but you’ve also got other tidbits, like everything surrounding humans. Speaking of, you’ve built a lot of intrigue there.

I also heavily appreciate the use of animal actions and body language, like when he grooms himself or the fact that he uses his horn to pry open a door. Helps things feel less like just humans in animal skin.

Also, I didn’t notice any spelling or grammar errors, so that’s good!

I do have one significant criticism though, and that’s that there are times where your fast pace ends up being a detriment to the story. For example, we barely have any chance to meet Salac or the village that Celeste is from, which makes it a bit more difficult to feel attached to them when they burn.

The other spot that felt particularly rushed over was the section with the Mienfoo. It goes by so fast that it almost feels more like an overview or a summary. And since this particular mienfoo seems to be plot-important, since they come up again in chapter two, this ends up being an issue.

That complaint aside, I only really have one other criticism, and it’s a nitpick.

In short, I would have restructured your first couple of paragraphs. I feel like the second paragraph would have been a stronger opening line. Here’s how I would have approached it:

“Celeste, you goof, get up. It’s midafternoon and you still haven’t done anything productive yet today.”

An Absol lay on a hillside in the village of Rainbow Valley, resting in a spot where the sun pooled. He tried to ignore the voice calling for him, until he found himself being poked over and over with a stick. He got up and turned to address the Braxien poking him. “C’mon, Salac. I was just getting comfortable.”


Those complaints aside, I really did like this chapter. On to the next.

Chapter 2

This chapter introduces us to a new character, one who seems to be in a similar situation to Metheus, albeit with less memory to her name. It only occurred to me after you wrote Spirit exiting her room that the flaps you mentioned earlier were doggy doors, of a sort. It feels like it’s giving significant setup for the plot, too.

Similar to the last chapter, though, I felt like there were some pacing/summarizing issues. The scene at the end felt a bit… rushed to me? Like it breezes over things that could have used a bit more description, considering how important to the plot the scene feels. It kind of breezes over the introductions between what I’m assuming will be 3 the main 4 characters of the cast.

Also, a quick formatting error:
*anything to give her a sense of who she was. And yet she came up with nothing. *Absolutely nothing. anything to give her a sense of who she was. And yet she came up with nothing. Absolutely nothing.

That aside, I don’t really have a lot to say about this chapter, since it seems to just be more setup.

Overall, I like where I think this is going, and I think you’ve got lore down really well in particular, but I’ll withhold any further judgment until you have a few more chapters down. I’m looking forward to reading more later, so until next time, take care!
 

kintsugi

golden scars
Location
waiting for the fog to roll out
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. silvally-grass
  2. lapras
  3. golurk
  4. custom/booper-kintsugi
hi hi! back for ch2

The plot thickens! I'm really enamored by this idea of a pokemon lab--it seems like it was built by humans, given Spirit's comments about the lack of door-flaps, but exactly what they were doing or where they are now is super up in the air still. I'm also intrigued by Spirit's narration when she wakes up--quadruped body feels unwieldy and small; she doesn't seem like she was always a vulpix. Humans realize they're going to die and yeet versions of themselves into the future, sort of like Kal-El?? But for some reason it gives them amnesia, which seemingly would defeat the point? Super unsure but I'm excited to see where that thread is headed.

In general the worldbuilding and lore is by far my favorite part of what's been established so far. Lots of interesting things set up and I see now why this is called Elegy for Humanity--uncovering these mysteries certainly feels like it's going to be a big part of the plot. The characters almost take second fiddle to the mysteries of the world around them, both in terms of narrative focus and my own personal investment in one or the other, but I'm weirdly okay with that? This feels more like a world-focused story with the characters being venues to explore it rather than a character-focused one, but I'm curious what later chapters might reveal about these characters! I kind of struggle to understand what most of them want right now beyond to solve the mysteries of their respective existences, haha.

She changed her goal, trying to find something, *anything to give her a sense of who she was. And yet she came up with nothing. *Absolutely nothing.
I figure the asterisks are not meant to be here.

Two pairs, the left and one from the right. had identical paw prints.
this period too!

Not until an instinct welled up in her, and a breath of icy air forced its way up her throat. The cold air rolled over the berries, freezing them within a second.
Oh, this seems to quash my idea that she wasn't always a vulpix--unless the instincts are like, hardwired into her body and not her mind? It's a cute nod to dex lore too.

I’ve got a room in town until tomorrow, we need to get there, like, today.
Comma splice here--you can't join complete sentences with a comma. Should be something like "I've got a room until tomorrow, so we need to get there, like, today" or "I've got a room until tomorrow. We need to get there, like, today."

I think you mean "Florges" here.

Here, eat this, it’s nice and sweet.
Comma splice again--try "Here, eat this. It's nice and sweet."

The first thing Spirit noticed of it was the smells. How was it possible for one place to have so many scents in it?

“I know you’re not a spirit, but… I don’t have the faintest idea what you are.”
This felt like a strange place to end the chapter. The main bits for me are:
1) a vulpix wakes up in an abandoned lab that she explores
2) the vulpix meets Niko, they have a good time, and the vulpix decides to name herself Spirit
3) Niko agrees to help Spirit by taking her to a mutual friend
4) the mutual friend is Celeste! who knows nothing
I think it helps if chapters have a sort of progression--some sense of closure/something that it feels like the events of this chapter are building to. Otherwise, it feels incomplete. It's a thin line to walk, since in a sense obviously the chapter is incomplete and that's what the rest of the story is for, but internally, chapters should also build to something. I wasn't quite sure what was being built to in this line--for me the more powerful moment of this chapter is actually when Spirit picks her name, since that's when she puts forth her first attempt at answering this "who am I" question that's been floating around since she pops out of the tube; everything else after that contributes in a plot sense but doesn't really seem to stick to the characters in a meaningful way yet.

But you definitely have a better grasp of the larger scope of the fic, so I think the question really becomes--what is this chapter for? What is being learned, how do people change, and how do these scenes build to that? For me, the Celeste appearance feels a bit out of place since it doesn't seem like a particular goal for them to meet Celeste; it isn't hard to get there and they aren't struggling or doing anything to make sure they talk to Celeste. And the subsequent let-down of Celeste not knowing who Spirit is doesn't feel super disappointing either, since I never really got the sense that Celeste was going to answer this question, just that Niko was a bit naive about this random guy she met on the road.

Still, super interesting chapter, and definite 👀 to all of these pokemon popping out of the ruins of human society. Curious to see where this goes!
 

Namohysip

Dragon Enthusiast
Staff
Partners
  1. charizard
  2. milotic
Hey Phant! Here to review for your BLEC reward! For this one, I read your first chapter.

I'll say first that what I noticed right off when reading this chapter is the pacing. It's so, so fast! Incredibly fast! There's definitely no stopping this story from going right into the action and starting us off with the initial conflict right away, though that does come with a bit of a drawback. The pacing is fast to the point where it was hard to get very emotionally attached to the character or his losses and so on.

Celeste has a family and a village that is immediately lost, or presumed lost, along with Ho-Oh possessed by a sort of crystal, or corrupted by one. There was little to be done and he fled, but because of how this loss is how things start, and Celsete himself doesn't even spend a whole lot of time mourning, I felt that the true impact of this loss wasn't shown to me. In hitting the ground running, I feel the story's start stumbled a little here.

After the initial start, we get a glimpse into some of the world's lore. There is a lot of hinting at humanity's past and their remnants, which is a good nod to the story's title and cluing in the reader about how this will be significant later. I found that to be a very clever way to go about it, particularly the second half with exploring the ruins to find a Null/Silvally!

While reading, I also noticed that a lot of scenes were summarized instead of depicted outright. that's usually good for skipping over mundane scenes, but particularly at the start, I think I would have appreciated at least a small scene or two beyond what we already got to get into the heads of the characters more. Right now it feels a little distant, since Celeste himself is in a rush to get things done. Perhaps this is partly because I'm a very dialogue-oriented reader and writer, but I've yet to get a handle on Celeste's voice by the end of the first chapter.

He shook off the thought. He didn’t have time to worry about his sister.

Did he? This line gave me some pause, because while the story summarized and streamed past the scenes, I feel that he had a lot of time to let his mind wander a little. He walked around a lot and had a lot of time to think before this, but it was skipped past so fast that I don't realize it. When all you have to do is walk, surely some time would have been spent thinking about the others, which could be a good opportunity to elaborate a little on that home life that was lost.

Finally, very minor word choice nitpicks on excessive word repetition:

After a bit more abuse, the door fell free, centuries of neglect having left it unable to stand up to his attack. It fell to the floor, kicking up a cloud of dust.

He walked into the ruins, each step stirring a small cloud of dust from the long-neglected floor.

It was a tube. The tank contained lightning, as per its label, which flowed through the tube into the roof. The strings that the bulbs of light hung from were also tubes, and the lightning flowed from the tubes into the bulbs.

He left the tank behind to return to the room with the open door. If he wanted to know what those noises were, that room was his best shot. He wanted to get there before it stopped, and the lightning tank was slowing him down.

Once he entered the room, he heard the strange device from before letting out the same noise that had been coming from some of the other rooms.

--

My only qualm, as mentioned before, is that the fast pacing ended up neglecting characterization some, and I'm not yet invested in them as people. Overall, though, this was a promising chapter in terms of establishing things about the world and, at the very beginning, what is probably going to be either the central conflict or the initial conflict. Ending off with meeting a Silvally/Null was also a good call because it shows direction. Thanks for the read!
 

Phoenixsong

the world's scariest violinist
Partners
  1. custom/skiddo-steplively
  2. custom/skiddo-phoenixsong2
  3. custom/skiddo-phoenixsong3
  4. custom/skiddo-iametrine
Back for Chapter 2 at last!

-And now for something completely different! Guess we’ll be getting back to Celeste and Metheus later. Wonder why a vulpix seems to have been some sort of test subject? Based her unease with her legs and her size, maybe she used to be a different species entirely? Human, perhaps, hm hm hm?

The floor in the hall was still dusty, but there were other sets of footprints, too. Ones that did not belong to her.

This is possibly just me, and my brain is preventing me from articulating why at the moment, but using "ones" by itself, referring back to a different sentence, always reads strangely to me. Personally I’d go with "Footprints that did not belong to her" (I think you can get away with the repetition there since the short line in general has some punch to it), or "They did not belong to her", or maybe continue the first sentence as "…other sets of footprints, too, that did not belong to her". Feel free to ignore me, though; like I said, I can’t really explain atm and it could absolutely just be a stylistic thing.

Could the one who left that one way footprint trail still be in the building?

When using a multi-word phrase as an adjective you usually hyphenate all the words that are part of that adjective, so "one-way footprint trail".

the exit door was rusted, knocked of it’s hinges

"off its" rather than "of it’s".

-A fair few repetitions of "eyes" and related words in the paragraph right after the above; a bit of rewording might be nice.

-I like the description of the vulpix’s first experiences of the outside world, overall! A bit of description of the smells as well as the sights might’ve been nice, but in general it’s simple while still evoking a nice feeling of being outside in a gentle breeze.

but this woods felt much less oppressive

Singular "wood", probably. Or "these woods".

It looks to me like you’re the spirit of a Vulpix. A dead one.

Heh. This is a fun way to handle someone who hasn’t seen a Alolapix before. And there’s our road back to the last chapter—this is presumably the same mienfoo who met Celeste earlier, eh?

Niko led her to a street paved with cobblestones. They felt funny on her paw pads.

Nice tiny detail.

-More instances of spelling "florges" as "floreges" in this chapter, just as a heads-up.

-Interesting how it seems like several pokémon are getting their food from fruit trees. I suppose in Niko’s case it might have to do with her low funds, but she’s clearly not the only one—is this something limited to pokémon who can’t afford to, say, go to a market and buy berries, or what the ferals and other, wilder folk do, or is it just nbd for anyone to go up and raid the berry patch because why not, I guess, free food? Interesting to think about.

-Spirit and Niko have been interesting. Niko seems somewhat awkward so far, very unsure of what to do about her current companion and apparently unwilling to interact much beyond what she sees as "the right thing to do" in this particular situation (weird ghost is lost, I suppose I should help the lost ghost be less lost). Her discomfort with small talk and Celeste’s earlier sharing also makes it seem like she’s… certainly not unfriendly, but not the most confident at Peopleing, perhaps. It’s not clear exactly how much we’ll see of her going forward, but there’s definitely a lot of room to see what she’s like if and when she opens up a little more.

As for Spirit, she’s still more or less a blank slate, for obvious reasons. She does seem to be another one who adjusts to uncomfortable situations surprisingly quickly, like Celeste, but since so far she’s been relatively safe it’s totally reasonable for her to be pragmatic about it—why fuss when nothing so far has gone especially wrong?

-We’ve been presented with several more mysteries already. Is Spirit in fact a former human, or something else? It seems the facility she came from is the same one where Celeste found Metheus, unless I missed a trick there, so what were the humans doing with both type: null and whatever’s-going-on-with-Spirit in the same facility? I wonder what Metheus is going to have to say when he returns and finds Spirit there/Celeste tells him about Spirit later? Is he going to know anything about it? If Spirit sees him, will it jog some of her missing memories? Definitely a combination of characters to keep an eye on, and curious to see whether Niko remains involved in this; Celeste is obviously deeply curious about humans and what happened to them, but I’m not sure yet whether Niko is, or perhaps whether she might get swept up in things she’d have been perfectly happy to ignore.

Looking forward to the next chapter!
 

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. custom/moka-mark
  2. solrock
I know we talked about just reviewing chapter 2 ... but I actually have a few thoughts about chapter 1, too! So this review will cover both chapters. Hope you don’t mind. I’m glad I read both, actually. I see why you’re saying that Chapter 2 is almost standalone, but I think I would’ve founding the introduction of Methuseus and Celeste really jarring without reading Chapter 1.

One small caveat before I dig in: writing this one on my phone because I will die if I have to spend another 5 minutes at my desk. I’ll do my best to proofread, but autocorrect is really aggressive and opinionated. I might miss something. Feel free to DM me if anything is confusing or garbled!

So with that ... in we go!

Centuries after humans disappeared without explanation,
I’ll echo what others have said: this is a neat concept! The idea of a low-tech future is fascinating all by itself, and it’s a good explanation for why pokemon in PMD so often seem to be using technologies and infrastructures that weren’t designed with them in mind. That theme coupled with the title reminds me of Elegy for a Dead World, which you might like! It’s technically a game, but it’s actually mostly writing prompts with pretty animation.

My most pressing overall thought, especially for Chapter 1, is that things are moving fast here and there’s a lot going on. I appreciate that you jump right into the events of the story, but I wish we had more time to sit with Celeste while he’s processing all the everything. For example,
There would be time to mourn what he had lost later, for now,
But we never get to see him pause and reflect/mourn! I also don’t have a super strong sense of what he feels like he lost aside from one short moment where he thinks about Salac. It would be nice to spend more time in the “regular world” before it combusts so that we feel his loss when it’s destroyed. That would be a nice way to explore more what Ho-oh means to his village and to Celeste in particular. What does Ho-oh worship look like in this setting? What’s the personal significance of seeing Ho-oh in a warped state besides how destructive it is?

Chapter 2 does a much better job with Spirit’s emotional life and letting her process things with time! Some of the passages about what she does or doesn’t remember felt a little stilted, and I hope that some point soon she gets to have opinions and want things. But her state was really clear and understandable. I highlighted a few places below that I thought worked well. 👌

I’ll go ahead and give you some line-by-line reactions, and then I’ll wrap up with some predictions/expectations.

Celeste stepped closer and brushed up against her.
I need a little more context here! We don’t know much about pokemon culture yet in this setting, so my only frame of reference is my own human one ... and that makes this act a little strange. I couldn’t quite tell at first pass if this was accidental, affectionate, or aggressive. An adverb would probably help clarify.

I’ll handle whatever comes next. You’re in no fit condition to do anything more until you’re clear of this disaster. Okay? You hear me? I’ve got it from here.”

Celeste pulled back from the hug and nodded. Before turning to flee the clearing into the woods around, he took one last look back home. Just in case.
Two thoughts here: 1) huh, so proximity to the event affects how strongly he feels an impending disaster? (Might make it hard to warn people!) That’s interesting, and I wish we had a little more background information on what a “normal” disaster feels like for him. A flashback could be helpful. 2) This would be a really good moment to tell us more about what home looks like and means to him! Maybe even an “inexplicable feeling he would never see it again.”

Eventually, a young Oshawott popped out of the river. Celeste jumped back in surprise, but the Oshawott seemed friendly. “Hey, there! I ain’t seen any Absol around here before! It’s nice to meet you!”
Wow, he must’ve drifted pretty far downstream if the locals have no idea there’s a forest fire happening—beyond smelling or seeing the smoke, it seems. He must’ve been in the river a long time!

Florges glared at him. “If you can’t pay, get out. We’re no charity. Go skulk in the burrows like some kind of feral. They’re on the outskirts of town, opposite side from the waterway. You’ll fit right in there.”
This felt a little over-the top as-is. The first two sentences would probably be plenty on their own. The rest would feel more earned to me if Celeste had protested, making the florges more upset.

He took a moment to recollect his thoughts.
*collect
Recollect = remember, not to gather again.

Burrow-dwelling wasn’t exactly an appealing way to spend the day, but he was exhausted after hours of running. The idea of finding somewhere to collapse was plenty appealing.
Hm, I wish I knew more about how ferals and “civilized” pokemon differed! Clearly, ferals are looked down upon ... yet it seems like civilized pokemon are also fully capable of wild animal behaviors, like digging burrows. I’m surprised he still has this skill if it’s something that’s no longer used in pokemon society and is even looked down upon.

Salac had been interested in old human things. He’d heard her talk about the things she read about them, and he remembered her mentioning these glass bulbs… but no one had known what their purpose was. Now, Celeste was seeing these bulbs for himself… and they were full of light.
It feels like she should be more present in his thoughts! This is the only moment we get of mourning her. And, really, do we even know if she’s actually dead? It seems like Celeste should want to find out. She’s the most concrete piece of “the world before” that we know about, and the loss of a close friend is a huge one!

I’m also a little skeptical of the lightbulb thing here, even though it’s cute. If this human articfact is old enough that no one remembers what it is anymore ... how is there electricity still powering them for people to know they can light up? I’m confused about what human technology has persisted and what hasn’t.

After all, he’d already solved the mystery of the glass bulbs, which were supposed to be bulbs of light,
Did he solve it, or did he remember talking to Salac about it?

Oh. Right. Of course the tube was filled with metal, it would be a better conductor of electricity than air. For a moment there, he’d been expecting the humans to be channeling raw lighting.
The same question about technology here. Like, are pokemon using metals to conduct electricity in this setting? (Certainly, lots of pokemon that can use electricity have no metal at all, like pikachu. Why would they associate it with metal?)

He had assumed the steel doors were to keep ferals out, but now he realized he was mistaken.

The doors were to keep these in.
The pacing of these lines was great. I also love the silvally reveal! It makes a lot of sense in a world that’s dealing with the aftermath of human civilization. Silvally ranks pretty high on the list of human whoopsie-daisies. (Are there silvally plural here though? If so, I totally missed that. And, if so, shouldn’t they, um, stay and free them?

Celeste’s use of his predictive powers here was neat!

The creature had had fur on its underbelly. Could it possibly have scales beneath the fur?
Hmmm I’m not sure that’s possible! From what I can tell (without having studied this kind of morphology in a rigorous academic kind of way), both fur and scales grow directly from the skin. If a creature had both, I think it would have to be fur between the scales. Or like the southern three-banded armadillo, who has scales on top of its back and fur on its belly. I could see bony plates under the fur though?

since Metheus couldn’t climb like he could,
Why not? Silvally has some pretty heavy-duty claws, at least as much as an absol does.

Tomorrow would be… another day. Maybe even a good one, if they were lucky.
I like this ending line! Establishes C’s numbness and sets the tone: we’re not expecting happy, easy answers.

Pneumatics hissed as a glass cover retracted, revealing a tiny Vulpix quivering on the platform beneath. Her pale fur was wet and flattened against her body.
Hmm, the silvally coming out of a tank checks out, but this is more perplexing. I wish I could tell if this was the same place M had come from or not.

Around her spot on the platform were a number of rubber tubes, each ending in a metal needle. Did they just hang loosely… or had they been connected to her?
Copy-paste my questions about technology. It’s unclear whether these are memories she doesn’t realize are memories (she has a concept of medical experiments and needles!) or if pokemon society has rather advanced technology.

She felt like she should’ve had memories. Without them, she felt… lost. She could remember what a “memory” was, and she felt there was a gaping void in her mind. A spot where there should have been… something.

Without memory, she had no identity. She didn’t even have a name to call herself.
Her fear and stress is really palpable!

The thought made her want to curl up and cry again, but she only had so much time left before starvation claimed her.
This felt hyperbolic. Is starvation really a danger here?

This new room was frighteningly large. If a single room could have this much space, how terrifyingly vast must the entire world be?
Oof, what a mood. Poor baby. Echoing Kint here: this made me suspect she was an isekai’d human: she really seems to expect to be bigger than she is.

She hissed and shut her eyes. For a few moments, even the light shining through her shut eyelids hurt her.
Good detail.

she was able to read the sign. “Private Property. For access, please contact the Ministry of Research and Development.”
This also seems to suggest she was once human. (Otherwise this would feel like maybe an oversight.) Though if this is a language pokemon don’t use, it’s weird for her to think of them as “runes” since she can understand them, even if only subconsciously.

She wandered. She didn’t know where she was going, but she didn’t care. It’s not like she could become lost. She didn’t have any idea where she was, and she didn’t mind the idea of losing track of the oppressively grey building and the room full of loneliness.
I really liked the sentiment here—lol, hard to get more lost than she is!—but I think you could condense these sentences. You’re saying the same thing multiple ways.

a yellow and red furred creature
These are compound descriptors, so it should be “a yellow- and red-furred creature.” (It’s not a red creature or a furred creature, it’s a red-furred creature. They only work jointly to describe creature, so they’re hyphenated.)

It was a Mienfoo.
If this is the meinfoo from last chapter, it’s really a shame that the only dialogue she had then was completely glazed over. This reappearance would be way more fun if she’d been allowed to speak in her own voice last chapter and show off some of her quirks so we could recognize them now.

Mienfoo was taken aback. “You, uhh, don’t know what happened, huh. I… uhh… I’m sorry to hear that. It looks to me like you’re the spirit of a Vulpix. A dead one.”
Hmm, this would ring truer for me if it were a question instead of an assertion: “Are you a ghost?” It was weird to me that she insisted Spirit had to be a ghost for so long when she doesn’t act like a ghost in any way. Are there no ghost-types here?

She tried nibbling at them again, and found that freezing the berries had gotten rid of all the wet, slimy texture from them.
A little clunky. Definitely cut “from them,” but I think this would reas better if you described what the new texture was instead of just “not slimy.” Cute quirk, though.

Florges perked up. “Hello, dear! Oh, you’re taking someone with you tonight? Do you want to upgrade to a double room?”

Niko shrugged. “Nah. I’m good.” She dropped her voice into a whisper so that only Spirit could hear. “Can’t afford one anyways.”
Were the sexual undertones here intentional? 😅
I did notice how differently the florges treated Niko though! Being dirty and looking “feral” is clearly super not okay.

Without her intending to, her tails started wagging up and down.
Lacking some parallel structure here. Suggestion: Without her notice, her tails began to wag of their own volition.

When she awoke, Niko was lying on the floor, curled up asleep. The bed was large, there was enough room for Niko beside her. She considered asking why Niko didn’t want to share the bed with her, but she just let Niko keep her reasons to herself.
I wasn’t sure from the first few sentences which of them was the POV character. Threw me off and took me out of the reading.

Niko stared at her. “I still don’t get how you do that. I guess spirits can chill things?
Are there no ice-types here either?

Spirits are made up of the same energy as ghosts.
Ummmm ... how is a spirit different from a ghost??? I hope this gets unpacked later, the way it keeps coming up and all.

The shift from Celeste to Spirit was a big jump! I didn’t see how they were related at first, so I’m glad you brought them together quickly. Not sure yet how Spirit, Methuseus, and Bad Ho-oh are linked yet. Hoping the next chapter will offer some hints! I also hope we get to see more of what pokemon society looks like. So far we’ve only gotten to see the inn.

Right now, Spirit is probably the most distinct character. Niko and Celeste are certainly kind and helpful to each of their wards, but we haven’t seen either of them make a lot of choices yet to show us who they are and how they’re different from each other. Celeste in particular has been mostly driven by external forces, so I don’t know anything about what he wants or hopes for. I’d definitely like to see him demonstrate some of that in the next chapter, too.

I thought it was interesting that the first place we explored in-depth beyond the town was the ruins of a human lab and not a mystery dungeon. I wonder if this setting even has them!

It seems like we’re forming a rag-tag group who’s going to have to figure out a) Methuseus and Spirit’s pasts b) by extension, maybe the cause of human extinction? And c) what’s going on with Ho-oh? How is it linked to the humans disappearing, and is something like that gonna happen again??? Just some smol, chill tasks, don’t worry.

I hope all these thoughts were helpful! Good luck with your next chapter and merry Review Blitz!
 

LukerUpgradez

Amateur Motivational
Pronouns
He/him
Partners
  1. custom/meowth-alola-luker
Hello, Phan! I've taken a look at both of your initial chapters. Though I tend to provide better critique when a story is farther off of its feet, I hope I can provide some helpful feedback regardless.

To start with, let me address the elephant in the room: the pacing. I can really appreciate the angle you're going for with it, wasting absolutely none of the reader's time and just getting into the thick of it. In that regard, I think the conversation between Celeste and Salac did a great job at opening exposition, and the ensuing action scene keeps everything moving cozily. That being said, I think a little bit of detail here and there could really help at ensuring the reader entirely understands what's going on.

Ho-Oh began to circle, as though they sensed Celeste below. The crystal covering their beak parted to allow Ho-Oh to emit a tortured cry. A geyser of flame escaped their maw, clinging unnaturally to the lush woods Celeste ran through as if it were dry grass.

I think you should focus on expanding this specific paragraph. When I initially read through the chapter, I didn't entirely understand that the idea was that Ho-Oh had destroyed Rainbow Valley until it was explicitly stated later, and I would attribute that misunderstanding to the lack of detail provided about the danger of the situation. What kind of flora is catching on fire and how does it react to burning? How much is fire spreading from one tree or bush to another? How is the smoky air and the flaming landscape affecting Celeste? Some of these questions are answered in other paragraphs, but I believe most of the detail about Ho-Oh's fire should be put right here, as it sets up the degree of destruction that Rainbow Valley is about to face right before Ho-Oh flies straight towards it. A longer paragraph surrounding a series of very short ones will also put additional weight to the paragraph, meaning readers will internally note its importance without having to sacrifice much of the pacing.

He was alive. Alive!

This is purely a subjective syntax suggestion, but I would recommend using italics here instead of bold. Bold is a pretty atypical format choice, as it sticks out like a massive sore thumb, so to use it on a minor prose bit this way seems a tad out of place, especially since it's the only bolded word in both chapters. I can see that you're trying to convey the mixture of joy and relief, so I certainly wouldn't say not to format it at all -- italics should do the trick.

As for the rest of the chapter? Pretty good. I liked Celeste's exploration of the facility. It was a great way to establish the interplay between the modern day and the remains of the post-human world that I hope will continue to persist, considering the story's title. My only suggestion would've been to detail Celeste's conversation with Niko. Niko seems to be just as important of a character as the other three, but skipping the meeting scene between him and Celeste makes him seem less important than, say, the Oshawott, who did receive a full, though short, conversation.

Now, onto the second chapter. In comparison to the previous chapter, this one certainly feels a tad more conventional with an amnesiac...I think human-turned-pokemon based on text implications? But the evened-out pacing and more detailed text compensates for this somewhat. I enjoyed it slightly less than the first, but it certainly was by no means bad.

The main thing I could peg you for here is the amount of italics used throughout the beginning of the chapter. There's nothing wrong with using italics on occasion for emphasis, but I counted at least eight words marked in italics in one scene, which teeters on overuse with how rapid-fire they are. Putting emphasis on words this frequently risks giving readers too much dictation on how they are meant to read the text. Assuming this isn't meant to be a quirk for the narrator of Spirit's point of view (which is odd, as the story seems to be in third person omniscient), I would recommend removing some of the italics.

There also seems to be some word repitition here and there, but I noticed that some of the other reviewers have mentioned this to you already, so I won't go too deep into it. To correct it, I would suggest both hunting down synonyms and rephrasing sentences in different ways that don't require that repetition. For example, take this paragraph:

As she stepped outside for the first time, the sun hit her eyes. She hissed and shut her eyes. For a few moments, even the light shining through her shut eyelids hurt her. After a few moments, when the pain had passed, she reopened her eyes, and found the light much more tolerable. Pleasant, even.

Emphasis mine. The objective with this paragraph would be to cut down the usage of the word 'eyes' from three-and-a-half (eyelids is technically a different word) to about one. The thing is, the word 'eyes' doesn't have many particularly pretty synonyms or euphemisms to substitute it with, to the point where calling eyes 'orbs' is one of the most mocked euphemisms in literature. So, how would one correct this paragraph? I would suggest determing where to allocate specificity and merging pieces of information, rather than just trying to replace the word. Something like:

When she stepped outside for the first time, the sun blinded her. She hissed, clenching her eyes shut tightly to no avail; the shining light still burned. After a few moments, when the pain had passed, she chanced a squint and found the light much more tolerable. Pleasant, even.

The main difference here doesn't actually lie in the word 'eyes' at all. What changed was the description of the sun's action from 'hurting the eyes' to 'burning the eyes'. This specificity change avoided 'eyes' in sentences one and four by replacing them with something related to that sensation. To avoid using 'eyelids', sentences two and three were merged, maximizing the one use of 'eyes' left in the paragraph. Since the next paragraph states that she looked around, the fact that she fully reopened her eyes is implied without having to actually say it, so that detail is okay to discard.

Of course, this is merely an example, so take it with a grain of salt. Just consider this approach whenever you address a word repetition issue like this in the future -- it might save you a few trips to the thesaurus.

That's all I have to say about the composition. Unfortunately I don't have much to say yet on any of the characters -- the amount of conversation in these two chapters is very small, which is surprisingly impressive, considering usually there tends to be more dialogue than prose in the fics I've read. I'll wait for a few more chapters before I make any statement on how they're written.

So...I believe that is everything. I hope you found something useful in this review of mine. Have a wonderful Christmas!
 
Last edited:
Location
Etherium
Pronouns
he/him
Partners
  1. silvally-dragon
  2. necrozma-ultra
Merry reviewmas

Ch 1: Do we all fall down when this is over? 🤔
-Celeste is a cat. Good to know. And how dare Salac interrupt edgy husbando’s beauty sleep.
-I think I’d have liked to open with a bit more description for Rainbow Valley. A hillside could mean anything, y’know?
-oh hey look an absol whose disaster sense can practically bring about panic attacks. I feel like i’ve seen this somewhere before. XD
-Again, woods can mean a lot. More descriptors would help. Like, you describe crystal Ho-Oh pretty well without totally screeching things to a halt, though I will say I don’t really think I’d describe birds as have maws.
-Also, wow, we don’t even get to see Celeste’s home before it’s, like, totally gone. F. I was expecting him to wake up pooled in sweat from a nightmare but I guess that ain’t happening. That’s one way to start this things off. So, does this mean that his disaster sense is that bad he couldn’t even go back to try and help his sister? Overall he doesn’t seem as… shaken as he should about the potential she’s been scorched with his home. There’s one moment when he’s looking upon the ruins, sure, but otherwise nothing.
-All type: nulls are precious puppers and you cannot convince me otherwise. Though if the narration is from Celeste’s POV, does he know what a chimera is? Because he refers to Metheus as one. Gotta be consistent.
-Overall it’s quite action-packed for an opening chapter. Though, again, I do think a lot of scene setting gets a bit too vague. The new town isn’t really described. Burrows are just burrows. Elements of the ruins only get the vaguest terms. I’d try to work on that stuff going forward.

Ch 2: Wayward spirit, huh? What ways and words?
-If Spirit’s mind is a total blank, how does she know what pneumatics are? Nitpicky, I know. But such is a peril of third-person limited.
-Obvious guess is that Spirit was in the same facility as Metheus and Celeste Leeroy Jenkinsing the power generator caused their stasis machines to go offline or whatever. Of course that begs the question how they were still online if human civilization collapsed. Where was the energy coming from to keep them powered, hmm?
-Definitely stepped up the description game with this part. Much appreciated. <3 There’s a particular focus on Spirit’s smell because fox, I guess? It’s interesting.
-Hmm, so she knows what pokémon are. Perhaps she wasn’t sent between worlds but just had some sort of augmentation process done.
-And I guess ice-type vulpix are either extinct or don’t exist in this world. Given that the humans were able to turn Spirit into one, I’m going to guess that something happened to make them go extinct or disappear. Bonus points if whatever it is is tied to the humans’ disappearance and double bonus points if it’s also related to Metheus’ existence. I feel like it all has to be connected since they came out of the same lab.

So, yeah, good updates pls story. :P
 

Shiny Phantump

Born of Smol and Void
Location
Hallownest
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. sylveon
  2. absol-mega
  3. silvally-psychic
Review replies! About two-thirds of what I want to say is spoilers that I'm keeping my mouth shut on, and a significant chunk of the other 33% is about where things went wrong. Hopefully, this doesn't come across as defensive, but as it turned out, not saying anything about what I do intend means that what's left behind is a lot of what I didn't intend. Sorry about that.

Rest assured that theories did not go un-copyka'd-at.
removing one side from the equation and examining what happens to the other. I also think this is a really fun version of the apocalypse where the characters are so far removed from the disaster/the society that came before--they aren't trying to go back to some normalcy from the past, since they don't know it and don't want it any more. So where do they go from here?
There's so much I have to resist spoiling... But yes, that is a big chunk of the heart of Elegy.
I liked how you used the disaster sense both as a visceral, gut-twisting emotion with the first appearance, and then more as a casual, nonchalant sense when battling Silvally. It was really neat to see how this guided Celeste in multiple situations.
While the disaster sense works quite well for small-scale danger, anything too large becomes a visceral reaction. Wild/feral absol would normally avoid human settlements, but such panic could drive them to flee through human territory... And thus, their reputation was born.
at the same time it's hard to judge the magnitude of this event since it almost feels buried by the rest of the plot in this chapter
That's the absolute number 1 thing I need to fix for chapter 1. I'm thinking I'll split it into 2 chapters so that human ruins stuff doesn't pull away from the fire. Really, the shouldn't have had to share in the first place.
Ah yes, absol, known for being very lucky.
Hey, they get Super Luck as an ability!
We did talk in DMs some, but things for the public record:
Given that he has disaster sense, and is an Absol, I'd have thought his first instinct would be to warn whoever runs the village that a great disaster is coming.
So, this is one of the things I've (hopefully) made more clear in edits, but he did tell the person who runs the village, because that person is Salac. She then told him to leave, because he was in a dysfunctional enough state that she'd rather just handle it on her own.
There's also the fact that a lot of the second half had more telling than showing with us barely getting any dialogue from characters and even exchanges that happened, like with the scrappy mienfoo. Even if they were a minor character, I'd have loved to see that exchange happened and seeing how Celeste negotiated information out of them, rather than it being skimmed through in narration.
That little exchange was... patched in last-second to fix a plot hole I made by adjusting the timeline enough that chapters 1 and 2 partially overlapped, and Niko wouldn't have known who Celeste was for chapter 2. Fleshing that out is another thing on the chapter 1 hotfix to-do list.
Everyone processes grief and dangerous situations differently, of course, but between this and both his and Salac's first instinct being "you run" rather than "everyone should run"… well, I'm not sure what to think of it yet
I think this was before my clarifying edits to the opening, but I'm not sure, so I'll add that to the list of things to touch up in my ch1 hotfix. Salac told him to get out because he wasn't in any condition to help, and she stayed behind in order to coordinate the response to help everyone else.
This place sees travelers, but this lady assume someone who looks a little rough must be a feral? Maybe Celeste looks particularly beat up (and fair enough), but yeesh.
Most of those traveller have money. Celeste has nothing of value to offer to her, which gives her much less reason to respect him like she would a paying customer. (And yes, he is looking extra rough.)
The other spot that felt particularly rushed over was the section with the Mienfoo.
That little exchange was... patched in last-second to fix a plot hole I made by adjusting the timeline enough that chapters 1 and 2 partially overlapped, and Niko wouldn't have known who Celeste was for chapter 2. Fleshing that out is another thing on the chapter 1 hotfix to-do list.
(If anyone is reading all these replies, yes I am repeating myself. I assume most people won't read all of these.)
The scene at the end felt a bit… rushed to me?
Ah, guilty as charged. Ending these chapters has been the hardest part for me, because this is the first multi-chapter work I've done, so I never had to end on not-the-actual-conclusion before. Another thing for the hotfix list.
Super unsure but I'm excited to see where that thread is headed.
I have things I want to say, but I can't say any of them...
I'm curious what later chapters might reveal about these characters!
Heh, I've got plans for them... Thus far, I haven't done much of interest with them as I set up plot and worldbuilding, but I'll have some quieter chapter later. (I should also add more characterization in my hotfix.)
I think I would have appreciated at least a small scene or two beyond what we already got to get into the heads of the characters more.
the fast pacing ended up neglecting characterization
Yep... I've got a few regrets there to fix up...
Interesting how it seems like several pokémon are getting their food from fruit trees. I suppose in Niko’s case it might have to do with her low funds, but she’s clearly not the only one—is this something limited to pokémon who can’t afford to, say, go to a market and buy berries, or what the ferals and other, wilder folk do, or is it just nbd for anyone to go up and raid the berry patch because why not, I guess, free food? Interesting to think about.
Eating the same thing over and over again does get a little... a same-y after a while, and you have to do the work of picking it. Some low bushes are likely to get picked clean, but tree climbing is not a universal skill, so Niko has access to some fruits most people can't reach, which makes it easier to find unpicked food.
certainly not unfriendly, but not the most confident at Peopleing, perhaps.
Niko is not a people person indeed...
I’m not sure yet whether Niko is, or perhaps whether she might get swept up in things she’d have been perfectly happy to ignore.
Swept up in things she'd have been perfect happy to ignore? I'd never be mean to my characters like that!
But we never get to see him pause and reflect/mourn!
I'm disappointed I didn't think to put that into the night instead of having him fall straight to sleep
Some of the passages about what she does or doesn’t remember felt a little stilted
That is fair. In the end, I really wanted to ensure the 'rules' of her amnesia were clear, and some clunkiness ended up being let in as a result. Whenever I didn't phrase it in a way where her vocabulary was link between seeing something and remembering it, it seemed like she just remembered some things and not others for no apparent reason.
I did notice how differently the florges treated Niko though! Being dirty and looking “feral” is clearly super not okay.
On top of cleanliness, being a paying customer also helps. The fact that Celeste had no money to offer meant she had nothing to lose out on by being rude. I should try to clear that up in the edit run.
Are there no ice-types here either?
There are vulpixes, and there are ice-types, but there are no ice-type vulpixes.
how is a spirit different from a ghost???
I kinda shot myself in the foot worrying about type name logistics. There are the things we think of as 'ghosts' and then there are 'ghost-types' who are not necessarily what we think of as ghosts. I didn't want it to seem like Niko thought she was a ghost-type regional variant, because if she thinks Spirit is a ghost-type vulpix variant and not a dead fire vulpix, then one would expect her to come to the conclusion that Spirit was an ice type variant when she demonstrates ice powers.
When I initially read through the chapter, I didn't entirely understand that the idea was that Ho-Oh had destroyed Rainbow Valley until it was explicitly stated later, and I would attribute that misunderstanding to the lack of detail provided about the danger of the situation. What kind of flora is catching on fire and how does it react to burning? How much is fire spreading from one tree or bush to another? How is the smoky air and the flaming landscape affecting Celeste? Some of these questions are answered in other paragraphs, but I believe most of the detail about Ho-Oh's fire should be put right here, as it sets up the degree of destruction that Rainbow Valley is about to face right before Ho-Oh flies straight towards it. A longer paragraph surrounding a series of very short ones will also put additional weight to the paragraph, meaning readers will internally note its importance without having to sacrifice much of the pacing.

the story seems to be in third person omniscient)
Uh oh... I'm not in particularly tight, but I'm definitely not going for omniscient, and I need track down and fix whatever's causing it to sound like that.
oh hey look an absol whose disaster sense can practically bring about panic attacks. I feel like i’ve seen this somewhere before. XD
Hey, it's not like he's adopted into a family with a sister who's his parents biological ki- Oh fuck. Listen. It's an accident, I swear. (Jokes aside, Celeste was actually once two characters, one of whom was an absol, the other of of whom was Salac's brother. It was the merging of those two characters into one that lead to the adoption.)
If Spirit’s mind is a total blank, how does she know what pneumatics are?
I didn't get the chance to clear that up right away, but Spirit has kept her vocabulary, if not her memory.
And, with that accomplished...
 
Last edited:
Chapter 3: Firelight

Shiny Phantump

Born of Smol and Void
Location
Hallownest
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. sylveon
  2. absol-mega
  3. silvally-psychic
Chapter 3: Firelight

Niko was bored.

Spirit and that Absol whose name she couldn’t remember just kept talking and talking. For at least an hour now, she’d been asking him questions, and he responded with dull stories while Spirit sat enraptured. The exchange went on and on and on.

Niko figured she should at least pretend to listen, but she couldn’t force herself to do it. Absol’s words blurred together into a stream of noise.

The words of old chastisements echoed in her head. “Come on, Niko, are you even listening? Pay attention for once in your life.

She gritted her teeth and kicked a pebble deeper into the burrow. Spirit and Absol turned to look at her, trying to see why she’d done that. Niko avoided eye contact, and after a moment with no answer, they resumed their chatter.

Would it be appropriate to just leave the two of them to their chatter? It would put the burden of dealing with Spirit onto Absol, but she was out of money and had work to do. She’d let Spirit distract her yesterday, but her client’s request to investigate the ruins still stood. She’d have to get that done today.

She was pulled from her thoughts by the arrival of someone else. They looked like… her client? Metal helmet, foretalons, furred body and hind legs, piscine tail… Yeah, they looked exactly like the client who’d hired her for this mission, but the client had claimed she rarely left her hometown.

Absol perked up and began to speak before Niko had a chance to say anything. “Metheus! How did it go?”

Her client had been named Mira, not Metheus. By her own admission, Mira’s species was too bizarre to be found in nature, but... here was another one of them.

Metheus extended a talonful of caught remoraid towards Absol. “I caught these…” They looked around nervously, casting glances between Spirit and herself. “Celeste, what are these people?”

Oh right. Absol had told her that his name was Celeste when she bumped into him yesterday. Celeste responded. “Ah, they’re some people I met recently. They’re friendly, no need to worry about them.”

Metheus set the remoraid down in front of Celeste. “You told me if I caught these, we could make them into food? How do we turn them into food?”

Upon seeing the dead remoraid, Spirit’s fur stood on end. “Did you kill them?”

Metheus just grumbled, leaving Celeste to respond for them. “Spirit, do you not remember what it means to be ‘feral’ or ‘tamed?’”

To Niko’s surprise, Spirit nodded no. It hadn’t occurred to her that Spirit might have just forgotten something basic like that. She looked to Celeste, who also bore an expression of concern.

“We are tamed. We have gifts like language and higher thought. Those who are feral do not. Since some of us, like myself, need meat to sustain ourselves, we have to catch and eat those who are feral, like these remoraid. Those who are feral, too, have to eat, and will seat whoever they can catch, tamed or not. Sound familiar?”

Spirit still looked concerned.

“The requirement to hunt is something we take care with. We make sure not to waste, and we respect the lives lost so that we can eat.” The conversation took a pause as Celeste looked to be considering adding something more.

Eventually, Spirit nodded, but was clearly still shivering. Celeste shut his eyes and sighed. “Everyone needs to eat, myself included. Please try to get used to it.”

Spirit whimpered. “Why is it like that?”

Niko rolled her eyes. “Well, would you rather he eat us?” In return for that remark, Celeste and Spirit shot her a couple of glares. “What? I’m just saying.”

Celeste sighed. “Can we just get to cooking already?”

Niko shrugged. “Don’t you need a fire to cook over?”

“Yes. That’s what I’m getting at.”

Niko stared at him. She didn’t get what he was trying to communicate. “Why don’t you start one, then?”

“It’ll be easier for you than me. Can you please just start it?” Celeste grumbled. Niko didn’t get why he was asking her. Fire-starting was a basic skill, did he really not know how to do it?

She decided it would be easier to start it than to argue about it, so she just shrugged, grabbed a piece of kindling and went to work reigniting the wood that had been left in the fire pit by whoever occupied this burrow before Celeste.



Soon, the remoraid were cooking over the fire. Celeste and Metheus settled down, then Spirit did alongside them, as if she’d appointed herself a third member of their group.

Niko figured she may as well sit down with them. She had things to figure out before she left.

She wished she’d insisted on more details from her client. Mira was whatever thing Metheus had been. She’d given Niko a map to some human ruins, and asked her to investigate them. Not to find anything in particular, but to look around. She’d wanted to know if ‘the lighting still worked,’ whatever that meant, as well as whether there were any open doors, or if any tamed lived there.

Whatever Mira wished to deduce from those answers, Niko didn’t know. Yesterday, she hadn’t cared either. She could just check whether or not the place had light in it, if the doors were open, or if anyone lived there, then she’d be done with it. Mira could do whatever with that information, she would get paid, and that’d be the end of it.

Metheus complicated things. Her stumbling upon a second member of the species Mira had thought herself the only member of seemed to be the kind of thing she ought to be able to react to, but without knowing what Mira wanted out of the job, Niko was left to guess what Mira would’ve liked her to do.

Maybe Metheus would have some insight as to what Mira had wanted. Niko just had to figure what to ask. “Uhh… M-Metheus… Do you know anything about the human ruins here?”

Metheus huffed. “Nothing of note.” Dammit, Niko mentally cursed.

“What? You don’t know anything?” Celeste interjected, seeming confused. He turned to address Niko. “That’s where I found them, for one thing. I went there after you showed me the map, and that’s where we met. That’s important information”

“But I still don’t know anything useful about it. It’s just the building I was stored in,” Metheus complained.

Niko’s eyes widened. If Metheus themself had come from the ruins… Was that the someone living there that Mira wanted her to find? Mira didn’t seem to know of any others of her kind, but if she knew there might be more here, she could have afforded to send people out to look for them.

Niko cleared her throat to get the attention of the others. “I think I know someone who wants to meet you. She’s the same species as you. She was going to pay me to investigate this place, and I think you were what she wanted me to find.”

The other three stared at her, their eyes feeling like they were boring into her skin. She squirmed, wishing any of them would say something.

It was Metheus who broke the silence. “I want to meet her.”

Niko sighed with relief and nodded.

Metheus wasn’t done, though. “I want Celeste to come, too.”

Celeste grumbled. “I’ve got other things to worry about. I haven’t so much as a speck of dust to my name, and I need to fix that before I start going on grand adventures.”

Metheus let out a disappointed whine. “I… I want to stay with him, then.”

Celeste’s face cycled through at least three different emotions as a small choking sound escaped his throat.

“She offered me a lot of money. She has more of it than she needs. We could split it between us, comfy.”

A shy voice squeaked its way out of Spirit’s mouth. “That doesn’t include me, does it? You don’t need me for this.”

A pang of guilt twinged at Niko. The three of them really couldn’t leave Spirit all alone. She wasn’t ready to handle that yet. “Uhh, sure you can come. I’m sure you’ll be helpful…”

Metheus scoffed. “Celeste and I will already have to protect Niko. We don’t need a second small creature to protect. Niko, at least, we need to show us the way.”

A combined glare from Celeste and Niko silently overruled Metheus’ objection. The four were to depart together.



Niko watched Celeste pull one of the spits of roasting remoraid off the fire. He hooked the meat on his claw and pulled it off before dropping the stick from his mouth. He put the morsel in his mouth and began to chew.

It made rubbery squeaking noises as he chewed. Still, after a bit of chewing, he forced himself to swallow. “I think I prepared this wrong somehow. Still, it’s edible… Better than starving, at least. Let’s not waste it.”

Metheus looked confused. “How do I eat that, though? It’s still solid.”

Niko laughed. “Well yeah. It’s food, not a drink. What did you think food was?”

“When they fed me before, they would put a tube through my helmet to my mouth. It would give me food. A paste.”

Niko wrinkled her nose. “Sounds gross.”

“It met our nutritional needs. What more would you want?”

She shrugged. “Doesn’t sound like it’d taste real good.”

Celeste took another spit, and bit down. The spit cracked, leaving the meat on a shorter, more manageably-sized stick. He offered the new, smaller stick in his mouth to Metheus, who took it in a talon and stared at it in confusion. “What do I do with this?”

“Well, your helmet doesn't have a mouth opening, but I figured you could poke it through the eyehole or something.”

“And then what?”

Niko rolled her eyes. “Then you eat the bloody thing.”

“Put it in your mouth and chew until you can swallow it,” Celeste interjected.

Methus put the skewer through their helmet. A crunch could be heard, then Metheus raised their head and began to chew the remoraid… Niko felt like Metheus’ chewing was making more crunching noises than were appropriate for a remoraid.

Niko also noticed that the end of the stick was splintered… and shorter than it had been before. “Buddy. Tell me you didn’t eat the end of the stick, too?”

A meek voice echoed out of Metheus’ helmet. “Oh. Did I do it wrong?”

Celeste sighed. “It’s okay. Your stomach might be a little upset having eaten the stick, but I don’t think that’s enough that you’ll throw it up.”

“What am I allowed to eat? How do I tell what is and isn’t food?”

“I told you this once before…” Celeste sighed, “Normally everyone eats either meat of ferals, certain plants, or both. If that remoraid was palatable to you, you can almost certainly eat meat. You might be able to eat plants, too.”

“That stick came from a tree. A tree is a plant. How do I tell what plants I can eat and can’t eat?”

Celeste looked at Niko. “You’re herbivorous, right? You wouldn’t happen to have any sort of instinct for what’s edible or not?”

“Herbi-?” Niko wasn’t sure why he insisted on using such big words, but she managed to guess what he meant before she finished her question. “Oh. Yeah, I eat plants. There’s not much of an instinct for it. You just kinda learn it. I guess if it smells good, it’s probably safe? You probably won’t get poisoned very often if you stick to things that smell good.”

Metheus nodded. “I see. So by trying the stick, and witnessing your reactions, I have learned that it is not food.”

“Technically, yes, but… please, ask us before you try eating things, okay? You don’t have to eat it in order to see how we react. We can tell you before you eat it. Understood?”

“Understood.”

The conversation lulled, and Spirit took the gap as her chance to speak up. “Niko fed me berries. I was okay, so that means I eat plants. Is that correct?”

Niko pressed her palm to her forehead. “Brilliant conclusion.”

Spirit smiled. “Thank you. I’m glad you appreciate it.” Niko was taken aback. Did Spirit not get that Niko hadn’t meant it seriously, or was Spirit just messing with her. She sighed, causing Spirit’s smile to widen into a grin.

Celeste rolled his eyes. So she was messing with me! “Ordinary vulpixes can eat both. If you’re the same way, you’ll be able to eat meat as well.”

“But I don’t have to?”

“No. You’re more than free to stick to plants. It means all the less hunting that I need to do, so please, go right ahead.”

Niko declined to mention that it also meant more foraging for her. They were in a forest with fruit trees, and she’d be able to climb to the tops easily. Hopefully she’d have parted with Spirit by the time she went somewhere where food supply was a concern…

Spirit tilted her head a Celeste. “How do you know all of this?”

“I read it in a book.”

“Oh.”

“The protagonist, Ninetales, ate both.”

“Wait,” Niko said, “You learned it in a story book?”

Celeste looked somewhat embarrassed. “It was a historical story! It’s a trustworthy source.”

A cracking sound pulled them out of the argument. Metheus had snapped the remaining spit, as Celeste had done before. They then inserted the remoraid into their mask, fiddled with it for a moment, then pulled the intact stick from the mask.

Celeste smiled. “Does it taste better without the stick?”

Metheus tilted their head. “Maybe. I am unfamiliar with taste.”

“You don’t know what taste is?” Niko was astounded, how could someone simply not know what taste was? Had whatever slop they’d had piped into their mask killed all their poor taste buds?

Or… did they simply not have any in the first place?



The cookfire had burned down to glowing embers, casting the faintest flickering of light onto the faces of those in the burrow. The sun had long since passed over the cave mouth, leaving that flickering as all that stood between the group and the inky darkness around them.

Spirit stared into the glowing embers. “Someone should tell a story.”

Niko rolled her eyes. Was that all this Vulpix cared about? “I don’t have any interesting stories.”

Spirit looked at Celeste. “You have stories. Tell us a happy one!”

Celeste stopped to think. “I’m not sure I’m in the mood…” From what Niko had overheard of his description of his last few days, that made sense. He’d just had pretty much everything he knew burn down. Doesn’t tend to put people in a good move.

Spirit wasn’t having any of it. “Maybe talking about nice things will put you in a better mood?”

Celeste rolled his eyes. “You’re not going to take no for an answer, are you? Heh, I’m surprised you’re not sick of the sound of my voice yet.”

Spirit’s tails began to wag, until she turned around and noticed them wagging, which made them pause. After a moment’s thought, she returned her attention to Celeste, and they resumed. Amnesia sure makes her do weird things, Niko noted.

“Okay,” Celeste began, “My favourite nights were the nights where my mother and sister would stay up well into the night with me. Normally, we only did it for special occasions. When things like the summer solstice came around, Mother’s position meant that she would have to spend the day managing the festivities, but the nights were ours alone.”

Celeste didn't seem to look too happy to be going over those memories. “The first night like that was the night I chose my name, too. It was my first time out late, seeing the full beauty of the night sky.”

Niko rolled her eyes. The full beauty of the night sky? What a sap.

“See, when I was that young, I had to stay inside when night came and everyone else was sleeping, for you don’t just leave a defenceless hatchling outside with nobody else around. I wasn't happy about it, though. I found my room claustrophobic in the dark of night. Outdoors, though, the starlight put me at ease.”

Niko raised an eyebrow. “It was the light that put you at ease?” She laughed. “Makes it sound like you were afraid of the dark and not the room itself.”

Celeste scoffed. “Well… It was the fact that the dark made the room feel small. That counts as claustrophobia. Didn’t stop Salac from teasing me about it. Told me to name myself ‘Sunshine.’ Really, I can’t believe we get along nowadays.”

The smile melted off Celeste’s face. “Or… That we got along.”

A pause hung in the air. What was someone supposed to say to that, Niko wondered.

Spirit slunk up to him and brushed her forehead against his leg. “I’m sure she’s fine… She’s a fire type. She wouldn’t die in a fire.”

“She might be alive,” Celeste conceded. “But even if so, there’s nothing left of my home but ashes, and husks of burnt trees. Wherever she ends up, I doubt I’ll find her…”

The warm mood of the fire thoroughly killed, it wasn’t long before the newly-minted group turned in for the night.



Niko dreamt of a mountain, its peak leveled flat by her ancient ancestors. A sparring ring was carved into the rock. Once, the lines were crisp and easily visible, but generations of use had worn them down. The lines were recarved occasionally, but they always wore down again in time. They were close to needing to be redrawn again.

She was in the ring. Barely. It was that match, and she’d been driven to the edge of the mountaintop.

Opposing Niko was a familiar mienshau. When Mienshau opened her mouth, however, it was not her own voice that came out, but that of Metheus.

Celeste and I will already have to protect Niko. We don’t need a second small creature to protect.

The shock of hearing that caused Niko to stumble past the edge of the ring, off the flattened area and down the mountain’s face.

The stone was unsympathetic to her fall, battering and scratching as she fell. She felt one particular sharp stone carve a familiar line down her chest…

She passed out… Or rather, she jolted awake with a start. He paws shot to her chest, but there was no gash. Just the ridge of a familiar scar, hidden away beneath her fur.

She relaxed the tension in her muscles and rolled back onto her other side. She tried to get back to sleep, but Celeste was murmuring and whimpering in some dream of his own, which made it hard to rest.

Eventually, though, exhaustion did claim her.



When she next woke, the morning sun was trickling into the mouth of the cave. She stretched and sat up. Metheus was still sound asleep on their stomach, metal spikes on their helmet propping up their head.

Spirit had moved. She had originally slept on her own, but now she was curled up against Celeste’s belly, snuggled up like a little child with a parent or older sibling. Niko couldn’t understand why she’d do that, the thought of having someone else holding her like that made her skin crawl. How other people found it comfortable was beyond her...

She left the cave to take in the morning sun. It occurred to her that she could just… leave. Walk away from the burrow while everyone was asleep, find a new bit of work, stay in her normal routine.

She couldn’t bring herself to do it, though. She’d made a promise to the group, and so her moral compass compelled her to stay. Anxiety twinged in her gut.

What have you gotten yourself into…
 

Adamhuarts

Mew specialist
Partners
  1. custom/mew-adam
  2. custom/celebi-shiny
  3. custom/roserade-adam
So, I read the second and third chapters of this fic and these are my thoughts. I'll focus on talking about the story elements and perhaps worldbuilding tidbits in this review. That being said, let's get right into it.

Chapter 2 introduces us to a new character in the form of Spirit. She's a vulpix without any memories of who she was or where she's from; a complete blank slate basically. I enjoyed seeing her reactions and thought process through the chapter, and from the way it's described, I have a hunch she was either a human or some other larger pokemon in the past. If it's the former, then I suppose the story's already checked its human interloper quota.

I do think her characterization is a bit weak at the moment, though that's likely because of the whole amnesia thing. To your credit, we do learn a thing or two about her by the end of the third that gives her some personality. More on that later.

I didn't talk about Niko concerning the second chapter because there wasn't much that I had to say about her. It seems Niko's the mienfoo from the first chapter that barely had a presence in there, but it was good we got to learn a bit more about her.

Chapter 3, and the second half of the previous one, tell us a few more things about Niko. We learn she's a bit low on cash and currently taking on a job for a client that happens to be a Type Null as well. She's not particularly committed to doing her best work on the job, partly relating to the vagueness of the assignment according to her at least. Through her we do learn about Mira is looking for information about the ruins site and whether anyone's residing there. Niko may have learned that Metheus came from there, but I wonder if she'd also figure out that Spirit also came from the same ruins site as well.

As for the rest of the characters, none of them had any particularly strong characterizations to me. I do find them mostly likable, and their interactions were mostly engaging. However, sometimes the way they speak their dialogue and the way they act feel ever so slightly off. Like how Niko went from thinking Spirit was a ghost and then immediately lost suspicion seconds later didn't feel very natural in my opinion. I can't really tell if the interactions were deliberately made that way or not, but the story gives me more of a deadpan humor vibe as a result of it.

That aside though, I think there was enough characterization for the characters not to feel flat. I like how Spirit's more or less babey and is fond of hearing stories from others probably due to having none to tell herself. I also enjoyed Metheus' obliviousness to how even food is supposed to work, as well as Celeste having to be the one to move things along all the time. Niko's just here to get her paycheck though lol.

Overall I'd say the second and third chapters were better in terms of pacing. I felt that chapter 2 was a bit short and ended abruptly, but chapter 3 was more well balanced on the other hand. The characters are likable enough to keep the reader's attention and the story's world has an overhanging air of mystery and intrigue surrounding it, something I hope gets strengthened and explored more in the future. Even with some of the flaws holding this story back at the moment, I'd still recommend this story to others to read as I feel it's worthwhile to check out.
 
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