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Pokémon Postcards

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. custom/moka-mark
  2. solrock
#7 --
I get what you're going for, but I'm not sure "describing home" is the right way to put it. It makes this seem like alternate descriptions of the same thing, rather than two different things that relate to the same concept, of home.

@Pen, how would you feel about instead: "Home means two different things: there’s the place you came from, and there’s your faded red tent. Or, the place you left and the place you return to each night. The place where you feel…content, perhaps."
 
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9. Cities and Wonder: Slateport

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. custom/moka-mark
  2. solrock
9. Cities and Wonder: Slateport

On your way to the coffee shop, you pass a sunburned trainer playing ukulele on the corner. She’s taught her combusken a few dance moves, modified from battle tactics and even punctuated with some pyrotechnics. The performance would be better suited to drums or even a violin —anything more aggressive than a ukulele— but it’s charming all the same. After the chorus, you’re not the only one inspired to drop a few bills into the open ukulele case.

You’re still humming it to yourself as you enter the coffee shop. You pay for thirty minutes of computer time and a caramel macchiato to make the task of checking your emails less… You sigh as you approach the monitor and bolster yourself with a sip of the sugary drink.

First is an email from your mother, which isn’t so bad. With a little distance — or, okay, a lot — you’ve begun to appreciate her more. Your emails tend not to follow a cohesive narrative, less like conversation and more like volleying stories at each other, back and forth across the void. You like it though. You learn more about her this way than you ever did when you were living at home arguing about the merits of different brands of dishwasher detergent.

She never was a trainer, but she has stories of her own. Her latest email is the story of the time your father convinced her to go skydiving with him and how, no, it did not cure her fear of heights. You know this is her way of saying that your last report had worried her— you told her about the battle from the back of your altaria with a would-be thief, omitting some of the details you knew would upset her — but that she trusted you.

You trade her the story of your arrival in Slateport, including the ukulele player. The locals walking barefoot, flip-flops in one hand, unbothered by the hot sidewalk. The wingull that tried to steal your lunch. “With love,” comes easily at the end.

After that, there’s an email from the bank, a few from mailing lists urging you to donate now to save this-and-that forest from development, and one from the insurance company. Nothing too scary.

Then you scroll back up to the one that makes your stomach clench just looking at it, the one you knew you’d find waiting in your inbox. Jess wants to know when you expect to arrive in Slateport because she wants to hire a local trainer with a ludicolo to ferry her across the river so she can meet up with you in the city, see the sights together. A couple days ago, a reminder: Not sure if you saw my last message…

You skim, catch yourself, and drag your eye back to read more carefully. You know what you ought to say, but your hands freeze over the keyboard. Moments later, you catch yourself tying knots in the straw from your drink. It shouldn’t be so hard. It’s only words. It’s only pixels. You slurp down the last of your drink and muscle your way through a clumsy explanation of your feelings and, sheepishly, your whereabouts. You end, “With love,” but after staring a moment at the screen you erase it. Then you erase most of what you typed.

Over and over, your gaze drifts to the people sitting nearby. Some look like students. Whatever the contents of your bank account and your inbox, you smile thinking that at least you’ll never be expected to write a paper about The Kanto-Berry Tales. You wonder if they think something similar looking at you with your dusty boots and scars.

To your right is an old man who wears a feather in his cap — a real dandy. You notice with a start that he’s also wearing a trainer’s belt, all six slots filled. He types slowly with two fingers and you wonder who he’s writing to across the void.

You accidentally lock eyes with a pair of girls curled up in arm chairs against the far wall. They’re trainers too, possibly waiting for their chance on the computer. You offer a small smile, which sends them waving and giggling, clutching each other’s arms. They’re young — they have neon green and pink hair respectively and in their laps their backpacks are swarmed with buttons and patches and sequins. You shake your head but keep smiling.

When you return your gaze to the screen in front of you, twenty-seven minutes have gone by. Rather than paying for another half hour, you save your email as a draft, promising yourself to finish tomorrow.

Outside, the sun is beginning to sink. The cars and buildings are cast in sherbert pink and orange. The air is warm and smells like the ocean. Tomorrow you’ll walk the shoreline until you win enough battles to earn back the money you lost in Mauville. Tomorrow you’ll have to figure out how to tell Jess about all the ways you’ve changed. For now, there’s just this.

While you wait for the bus that will take you back to the hostel on the other side of town, you watch the people on the sidewalk: lawyers, poets, trainers, joggers, thieves, surfers, and who knows who else. Each of them passes without knowing or caring who you are, and with each come snippets of stories whose endings you’ll never learn. They delight you and also make your heart ache, all those unfinished stories. All those possibilities.

How is it that — even now that you are finally free to go anywhere and do anything you want with your time — you’re still looking for something else, something just out of reach?

Maybe the beachfront battle scene doesn’t matter. Maybe you should continue on to Dewford, where you’ve heard interesting rumors of caves and tiny islands, each with their own micro-climates…

The bus finally comes. You sit near the back. Fine white sand scatters the floor. At the front, you see ukulele girl sit, placing on the seat beside her a bulging backpack with the ukulele case strapped to the outside with bungee cords. Go figure. You smile, close your eyes, and lean into the seat back. Only the drumming of your fingers on your leg belies your racing mind.

For tonight, the noise of other humans is enough to distract you from yourself. As the bus rips through the dark, the hum of traffic and unintelligible chatter and ringtones carries you to a place that might not be home but is as close as you need. For all the thoughts churning beneath… there’s always tomorrow.
 
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Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
Partners
  1. dratini
I really enjoyed this one, though the references to Journey and Chaucer make this vignette feel very disconnected from pokemon. This could so easily describe the real world and it feels like it wants to.

I found the discussion of the mother very touching. The lines [She never was a trainer, but she has stories of her own.] and [“With love,” comes easily at the end. ] were strong. The idea of getting closer to family when given the distance to see them as their own individuals.

[It’s only words. It’s only pixels. You slurp down the last of your drink and muscle your way through a clumsy explanation of your feelings and, sheepishly, your whereabouts. ]
This had a really nice flow and I like how sheepishly just juts out as an adverb, almost sheepish itself in the sentence.

[The cars and buildings are cast in sherbert pink and orange. ]
Mmmm, always looking for ways to talk about those beautiful pink and orange skies, and this is a lovely one.

[For the void beneath… there’s always tomorrow. ]
Void is such a melodramatic word, when applied to emotions . . . it was a bit of a sour note to end with to me, for a vignette that was so grounded in place and people.

Re that line in #7, your edit reads well to me. I read it and was like 'that seems fine, what even was the original.'
 

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. custom/moka-mark
  2. solrock
references to Journey and Chaucer make this vignette feel very disconnected from pokemon
Totally fair. I think I thought I was being clever -- get it, because they're on a trainer journey and also it's a series of small stories like the Canterbury Tales -- and I could've just as easily plugged in something different. It's not like I don't make up pokemon brand names constantly. I literally just made up a band and a pop star for Spring.

This could so easily describe the real world and it feels like it wants to.
Yeah this one definitely suffers from that -- I don't disagree. I'm not yet willing to cut it because to me it still speaks to the weird social consequences of broad acceptance of long-term solo backpacking with only monsters for company. And to what kinds of people would be most drawn to that lifestyle. But I'll flag it in my notes and see what else I can come up with. It's not high-priority right now, but eventually I'm sure I'll think up something.


Void is such a melodramatic word, when applied to emotions . . . it was a bit of a sour note to end with to me, for a vignette that was so grounded in place and people.
Again, good call! I was thinking of "the void" between emails earlier in the vignette, but you're right that it feels melodramatic here. Easy enough to fix that one.
 
10. Cities and Seeing: Goldenrod

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. custom/moka-mark
  2. solrock
10. Cities and Seeing: Goldenrod

Water, you thought, implied beach.

You stand beneath a sign that warns against swimming and diving, wondering who would dare. Oil shimmers on the water’s surface. Plastic bottles and Rage Candy wrappers mass beneath the pier. Your rain coat is zipped over your swimsuit to hide your error, and your belt is clipped over the coat for ease of access. It’s not raining hard, but it’s enough to soften the city’s electrical buzzings and distant sirens. You’ve been here for over an hour, half-waiting for someone to challenge and half-waiting for a better idea to come to you. It’s only been raining for fifteen minutes, and you can’t decide if it’s worth waiting for it to stop again.

At the sight of a growlithe you straighten, but you quickly realize it’s a pet, leashed to someone who looks like one of your mom’s friends. An occasional jogger passes. Not as many now as there were earlier.

The city is perhaps ugliest at twilight, when the shadows writhe with unpleasant possibility. The odds of earning a quick buck from a battle are waning fast. But as the orange streetlights come on, you watch another trainer approach from across the street. You count six pokeballs on the studded belt that shows under his hooded sweater. You guess he’s in his mid-thirties or early forties—not the oldest trainer you’ve encountered but still outside the norm—and has a strange, asymmetrical hairstyle. He stares straight ahead at you.

You try to guess what type of trainer he might be based on his clothes and gait. Perhaps dark-types? You palm your poliwrath’s pokeball. Then again, what if he favors electric-types and the rain drew him out to take advantage?

As the trainer draws closer, you realize what you mistook for his hair was actually a facial tattoo: a line of bones and barbed wire along his jaw and hairline. There’s an unpleasantness in his stare, communicating something beyond a challenge. It occurs to you that he might not be looking at your belt but at your body. If there were other people here it wouldn’t feel so creepy, but there aren’t and it does. He smiles, and it’s not a friendly one.

It’s the smile that does it. You jump up from the railing where you’ve been leaning and tug your raincoat down over your belt. You start speed walking away, head down. Your pulse is loud in your ears.

“Hey!” he calls after you.

You release your haunter to cover your back. “Let’s go, Keats!” you call, and you break into a run. Keats makes no sound — you have to trust he’s there. You dash through a red light, grateful the rain has slowed the traffic.

Five blocks pass before you turn to see no one is chasing you, maybe never was. There’s only you, Keats, and the rain.
 
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Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
Partners
  1. dratini
This is a bit of change! The more gritty setting was great and you did a good job setting the scene with the rain and the contrast between expectation (beach?) and reality (ugh, litter and pollution.) I had such a strong sense of city as I read this, and the simple imagery like "orange streetlights" was very effective.

[There’s something unpleasant in his stare, communicating something beyond a challenge. ]
I'd suggest reworking this to remove the double 'something.'

[If there were other people here it wouldn’t feel so creepy, but there aren’t and it does. He smiles, and it’s not a friendly one.]
Very nice

[and tug your raincoat down over your belt. ]
This confused me. I thought she had her raincoat zipped over a swimsuit-if the raincoat doesn't already cover her belt, does that mean she was standing in the rain with bare legs? Feels a bit unbelievable she would have stood like that for 15 min.

[Five blocks pass before you realize no one but Keats is behind you, maybe never was. ]
I get what you mean here, but the syntax doesn't really line up--the last phrase feels like it's implying that Keats was never behind her, not that nobody was chasing her to start with. Also, 'realize' maybe isn't quite the verb. To realize that no one's behind her, she'd have to turn around and look. Realize makes it sound like something she's deduced.
 

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. custom/moka-mark
  2. solrock
@Pen — excellent, I’ll fix the wording in those places. 👌🏻 Cheers!

This confused me. I thought she had her raincoat zipped over a swimsuit-if the raincoat doesn't already cover her belt, does that mean she was standing in the rain with bare legs? Feels a bit unbelievable she would have stood like that for 15 min.


So I’m imagining a person wearing a swimsuit and jeans, a light raincoat over that, and the belt over that for ease of access / to advertise “hi let’s fight!” I can see how that’s not coming across and I’ll adjust.
 
11. Cities and Silence: Driftveil

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. custom/moka-mark
  2. solrock
11. Cities and Silence: Driftveil

“You have a light?”

A younger or drunker version of you would’ve brought out your typhlosion, delighting both in watching the large pokemon perform the delicate task and in gently threatening another trainer. Instead you hand over your lighter and accept it back without comment.

You lean against the back wall of Judo Cufflink, a bar and music venue locals call simply The Cuff. Like every Driftveil joint you’ve been in, it’s a dive with cracked leather booths and peeling murals out back. You’ve heard it’s also known for occasional fights (both the kind that involve pokemon and the kind that involve just fists), but the courtyard is calm now, hazy with smoke and conversation. You don’t smoke anymore but it’s cooler out here. Quieter too. The first band of the night — Something Punch, or maybe Punch Drunk Something — sucks. Too nasal, not enough bass.

You hoped to run into the cute girl from the hostel front desk who’d recommended this place to you but no such luck so far. It was a long shot anyway. You remind yourself, turning and turning the lighter in your pocket, that you’re almost certain to make a new friend or two in the next city. There are usually at least a few trainers from other regions on the gym circuit this time of year, easy connections over shared nostalgia-mixed-with-defiance for your respective hometowns. If you could lock eyes with someone who isn’t that drunk or who’s the right kind of drunk and muscle your way through the small talk, you could probably find several such friends here in the courtyard, or maybe even something more. Flashing your badge collection has gotten you far before. Tonight though, the possibility and potential sits sour in your stomach along with the cheap beers you drank earlier. You’ve talked to so many people exactly like the ones here before. You’re weary of temporary friends, of not knowing what to put in letters to your old friends.

From inside you hear the lead singer howl, Shallow, shallow, shallow! I don't care if you don't care.

It doesn’t matter that you already paid to see two more upcoming bands, you decide. You stand suddenly and walk through the wooden gate, down the sidewalk, past giggling punks and posturing trainers, past the convenience store, past the empty football field — you walk until the music and shouts fade into the distance and your stomach settles somewhat.

You find yourself in a new part of town, far from the gym and the hostel. Here feels more real, and also like a secret. You’re off the tourist track now. For a moment, you allow yourself to feel curious again. In the middle distance you can see some kind of complex, like a modern castle, and it draws you closer. You step softly as if to avoid startling away the stillness, to allow the moonlit path to reveal itself to you.

Churches and homes give way to rectangular concrete buildings, suddenly, as if they’ve abandoned you to this cold truth. Warehouses under harsh light cut sharp shadows. The lights, you imagine, are to dissuade thieves and pot-smoking teens from coming too close.

These are factories, you guess, or shipping centers. It doesn’t matter which. These walls will always be closed to you, and there’s nothing inside you’d want to see. This place — the entire city— is designed to house machinery, not to inspire. No matter how far you walk there is no other hidden beauty to discover here. Only unrelenting purpose.

You stop, hands in your pockets, unsure where to go next.

At a flicker of shadow in the corner, your hand darts automatically to your belt. The motion sensor lights hit the trubbish before you can. With an unsettlingly human-like grunt, it bustles down a side street and out of sight again.

In a flash you remember the summer Goldenrod City was so overrun with grimers that the city actually paid trainers to catch and remove them. The sour-smelling air gave your mother headaches, so she spent most of that summer in a dark room with a wet washcloth over her face. One grimer managed to ooze its way up the pipes and into your bathtub. An exterminator with a slowbro had to be called, and there was still a purple ring around the tub for weeks. After all this time, you’ve still never caught a poison-type.

You’ve worked so hard and crossed oceans…and still. There’s only more of this.
 
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StellarWind

Biomechanical Abomination
So I tripped into this particular fic because it was updated recently-ish and I was curious about your writing. And maybe it's because it's a collection of short stories - snippets of moments from a journey that never outstay their welcome individually, as it were - that I found myself sticking with this thing all the way to its end (and hopping over to AO3 to read the bits of it you haven't posted here yet).

Each and every one of these chapters drew me in and felt quite alive, for lack of better definition. The descriptions are vivid as frell and I could very clearly see the scenes unfold in my mind's eye. There certainly seems to be quite a bit of real-world shenanigans in the way you depict the Pokémon world - but you still manage to keep it feeling believably the Pokémon World as opposed to "it's just plain old Earth with a thin veneer of Pokémon". I find it still leans a little closer to Earth-as-it-is-now than to how I see the Pokémon World, but it makes a fairly compelling world nonetheless. I found the wilderness scenes particularly compelling, though to be fair I absolutely would. I think the chapter that still left the deepest impression on me is the very first one - mostly because it was such a gorgeous mental image of walking through route and the Tropius herd taking flight - though the one with the little Gastly encounter also made me smile a lot - it was such a cute little interaction!

I'm certainly not used to seeing a second-person viewpoint outside of a. Choose-Your-Own-Adventure and b. Homestuck, but the way you set it up certainly made the viewpoint character feel quite like a person - and while I couldn't personally relate to everything about her, I do feel we got a pretty good look into her head and how she sees the world - although she certainly left me with an impression that she's going through some stuff and she hasn't entirely figured all of this out yet herself. But then, that's part of why she's travelling, isn't it?

Very enjoyable read all around! Should definitely look into more things from you. ^^
 
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WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. custom/moka-mark
  2. solrock
Very enjoyable read all around! Should definitely look into more things from you. ^^

Yay, I’m glad you liked these overall! (And kudos for digging through AO3 for the rest — dedication.)

You’re not wrong — I definitely write an alternate Earth. (And have been known to shamelessly lean on realism to bail me out of trouble when my character choices are dubious lol.) It’s a world that doesn’t always grapple with pokémon directly but is thoroughly altered by their existence, even when they aren’t the focus.

I think the wilderness just is more compelling. It’s Pokémon at its most Pokémon-y... and most alien to my daily life for sure. I think these protagonists also find the city more compelling. In my other work... Spring will give you the most of that juicy wilderness. I think Divides will go there eventually, but it starts out very rooted in city.

Interesting that you think of the protagonist as a singular her! Some are definitely explicitly girls, and others I think of as more masculine. But it’s certainly very vague, so I don’t mind there being multiple interpretations of that.
 

StellarWind

Biomechanical Abomination
Huh! Looks like I misinterpreted a comment then. I was wondering, really - I initially thought it was supposed to be multiple characters as I read the first few chapters - but then I noticed that note about how "Each chapter stands on its own, but the entire set also has an arc of its own". And that made me think that maybe this is one viewpoint character instead? But I guess I was right the first time and these aren't all the same person. Oops. ^^;

That said, it's definitely interesting how the story works regardless of the intended effect - whether these are multiple trainers in entirely different journeys or just one in different points of a very long journey across multiple regions. ^^
 

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. custom/moka-mark
  2. solrock
And that made me think that maybe this is one viewpoint character instead? But I guess I was right the first time and these aren't all the same person. Oops. ^^;

It’s kind of both...? I think of them as the player characters across the game franchise. So, sort of one big long journey, if it’s one player and multiple games. But that’s a pretty meta reading of it. On the ground-level, sentence by sentence, there are no clear lines where one character has to stop and another start. It could be 17 trainers, it might be 5. The goal was for their cumulative shared experiences to feel satisfying as a set... and it sounds like for you they are! 🙌🏻
 
12. Cities and Seeing: Saffron

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. custom/moka-mark
  2. solrock
12. Cities and Seeing: Saffron

At first, it’s just another battle, if a frustrating one. Sure, your opponent is dressed shabbily, but so are you. Your nice shirt is for gym battles and important events, not fast cash battles in the parking lot of a foreclosed grocery store. You assume he wants the same thing you do.

You’ve fought his skarmory and now his weezing, both surprisingly good at taking multiple hits and slowly wearing your pokemon down. Very slowly. You made the mistake of thinking one or two good blasts from your magmar would be enough to knock the skarmory out of the sky—quick and forceful. But your magmar never landed more than a glancing blow, and the head-on approach only tired him out faster.

“How long do you want this battle to go on?” you asked, half-joking, while you contemplated who to send out next.

The other trainer smiled and shrugged. “As long as it takes.”

To win, you thought he meant.

So now you’re fighting on his terms. You don’t have a choice — smoke hangs over the field and your hitmontop can barely see where she’s aiming her kicks. Each collision between your hitmontop and his weezing is brief — hit, pull back, hit pull back. It’s less of a race and more a test of stamina, slogging towards the gradual accumulation of small wounds and hoping your pokemon can wait it out longer.

It’s not the quickie you planned on, but now seeing it through is a matter of pride. You’d hate to lose to some nobody this way.

Finally, there is a muffled slap and another burst of foul smoke as your hitmontop’s foot flies through through smokescreen and connects with the weezing, hard. The weezing falls, dented and deflated, and you let out a sigh of relief. “Great job, Paladin! You finally did it.”

The other trainer seems unfazed though. “Last one,” he says with that same infuriating smile and the same drawl. “How are you feeling?”

“Great,” you say, too quickly. “You ready?”

On three, you each release your third and final pokemon for the tie-breaker. You send out your xatu and grin at the sight of his rhyhorn. This won’t be the same kind of fight as before with a pokemon like that. He’ll have to deal with you directly.

“Alright, Wicked! This one’s all you, baby,” you call out. “Blast its brains out!”

As your xatu begins beaming psychic energy across the parking lot, plastic bags twisting through the air in its wake, your opponent commands, “Knock it down. You know what to do.”

With a roar, the rhyhorn stomps and thrusts its horn into the air. The asphalt quivers, cracks, and heaves. Some big chunks are already lying loose from past battles, and those shoot into the air right away, towards Wicked. She flaps out of the way, eyes glowing white as she turns the smaller chunks aside with her mind. But soon there are more, coming down like hailstones. Wicked bobs, weaves, and occasionally cries out as one finds its mark.

You watch with clenched teeth, waiting for an opening to give the next command.

The other trainer shouts, “Now, Zodiac!”

A weird name for a rhydon—

You don’t realize what’s actually happened until you see the umbreon flicker into view from out of the other trainer’s shadow. In its mouth, you recognize your distinctive orange wallet, a gift from a friend back home.

Your backpack — still at your side, but hanging open.

Your mouth flies open, but nothing comes out.

The trainer grins, pats the umbreon’s head, and palms your wallet. “Smash it, Bruce!”

You finally find your voice again. “Wicked!” She swoops to your aid, but a falling asphalt boulder cuts her off.

All etiquette thrown aside, you send out your last two pokemon, a flaaffy and a krabby. “Stop him!”

But the massive rhydon has no problem keeping your pokemon at a distance. With a stomp, it sends seismic waves rippling across the parking lot and upends flaaffy, krabby, and you. Then it turns and slashes Wicked as she passes, knocking her aside.

The other trainer calmly trades out his umbreon for a kadabra. He salutes in your direction and smirks one last time before linking hands with the kadabra and laying his other hand on the rhyhorn’s haunch. The air begins to shimmer and, in an instant, all three are gone. Your krabby’s water gun splashes onto nothing.

Of course you cry.

Eventually you stop, stand up and, because there’s nothing else to do, drag yourself towards the pokecenter to heal your team and file a police report.
 
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Negrek

Only the Lonely
Staff
Great to be getting back into these--they're very relaxing little vignettes, and the snapshot structure makes it easy to dip in and out again. Going to take me a while to catch up, but I will eventually! For tonight I figured I'd look at Viridian Forest and Route 205.

Viridian Forest

You haven’t had a partner since who is as driven and eager without taking losses personally, and you know your team was leaner and faster when she was around.
The tenses are tricky here, but I think this should be "was as driven" here, since it's talking about how someone behaved in the past (and also all the attempted replacements were in the past, too).

I like both the threads going on in this one--the one in the past, with the lost traveling companion, and the one in the present that actually takes place in Viridian City. You definitely capture that sad sort of situation where it turns out that someone you like when you're restricted to surface-level interactions turns out to be a very bad fit for you when you have to spend more time together. I think you do a good job of capturing why the former traveling companion didn't work out without making her seem like a bad person; it's clear that she and the narrator just have very different priorities on their journey. Nothing dramatic, nothing even particularly memorable, just one of those things that happened. It's very in line with the more realistic feel of this story, and the generally calm, gentle sort of vibe it has. We don't even see the fight directly, only get a brief gloss on it in retrospect.

In the present, I like how you capture the sense that the world (and the forest) is very big, and you are very small within it. It's something you often don't notice when there's someone else around to fill up some of that space with their presence, so I can imagine how rough it would be to continue your journey when you're used to having a companion, even one who drives you nuts. Viridian Forest also seems like one of those places that would make you feel small--I can imagine massive, towering trees that go on as far as you can see in every direction. I particularly like the paragraph where the narrator's sitting on their blanket, playing cards alone; a neatly-drawn scene with well-chosen details.

If anything, I wish you had leaned into that imagery a little more--in particular, as the title of the chapter suggests, the silence! I think a little more emphasis on that silence would have enhanced the atmosphere of Viridian Forest, emphasized the narrator's melancholy feelings, and served as a good theme to tie the two pieces of the chapter together... contrast between the past and the present, hingeing on how much more quiet everything is now, and how the narrator probably hadn't thought of how that would change after they'd left their companion behind. There's the line about how the woods make the sounds of the playing cards small (though they'd always be pretty small, no?), but other than that, not much about silence as such. I think you could do a lot more with the idea of "silence" here.

Route 205

You lay in your tent at night fantasizing about your last birthday at home with the frosted funfetti cake.
*lie in your tent

You plan to ration them out — and indeed, you start by pulling it apart and eating each layer slowly...
Need some kind of transition here from the package of cupcakes to the single one being pulled apart, something like, "and indeed, you start by pulling the first one apart and eating..."

This was a really interesting chapter for me, because it portrays a very different view of pokémon training than what I'm accustomed to. Usually I think of routes taking two or three days to traverse, so talk of dehydrating your own food in order to save money sounds really hardcore, ha! Makes me wonder what training and the training journey look like in this universe. Is it relatively rare to do a "through-hike" all around the region, collecting all the badges in a season or two? Do most people do small legs and pick up only one or two badges at a time? Do you have a big distinction between "serious" trainers who are really going out into the wilderness and "casuals" who are maybe day-hiking now and again and having low-stakes battles with pokémon that are really more like pets? I dig the more wild feeling you've given to this and the other chapters so far, where the pokémon journey has a real element of going out and exploring the wilderness, where you aren't always just a few hours' hard walking from civilization.

I wouldn't have guessed that this chapter took place on Route 205 without the mention of Eterna City or the chapter title, and there's little to no indication of what the route itself is like. I'm guessing you really weren't trying to focus on the place here so much as the experience of being out on the trail and fantasizing about the luxuries of home, and the chapter definitely does capture that. It just seems a little out of place alongside the other chapters that we've seen so far; even the Viridian Forest, which was mostly recounting things that happened elsewhere, was more grounded n a particular place. So, not something that you necessarily would want to "fix," but it definitely stood out to me as a shift in focus.

The craving for terrible foodstuffs after you'd been on a bare-bones hiking diet is seriously relatable, though. Hostess Cupcakes in particular are something I was rarely allowed as a child and therefore do seem like a rare delicacy to me... Probably not a good idea to go get some and see what I think of them nowadays. :P Do you do much hiking? Because you've definitely done a good job of your research if not, here and throughout the other chapters.
 

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
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@Negrek — good call on those grammar fixes. I’ll touch those up today.

There's the line about how the woods make the sounds of the playing cards small (though they'd always be pretty small, no?), but other than that, not much about silence as such.

A very good point. I think in some of these “silence” is a code word for loneliness and in others it’s a code word for peacefulness. You’re right that I could make better use of the word here — a couple sentences would do it, and I think I know exactly what to add.

I wouldn't have guessed that this chapter took place on Route 205 without the mention of Eterna City or the chapter title, and there's little to no indication of what the route itself is like.
Yeah, some of these are better at that than others, for sure. I’ll consider fleshing out the physical space a little more in this one... but I think I also accept that they’re doing different kinds of world-building, and not all of them will be as landscape-focused
Usually I think of routes taking two or three days to traverse, so talk of dehydrating your own food in order to save money sounds really hardcore, ha! Makes me wonder what training and the training journey look like in this universe. Is it relatively rare to do a "through-hike" all around the region, collecting all the badges in a season or two? Do most people do small legs and pick up only one or two badges at a time? Do you have a big distinction between "serious" trainers who are really going out into the wilderness and "casuals" who are maybe day-hiking now and again and having low-stakes battles with pokémon that are really more like pets?

That instantly made me want to write a one-shot and call it Through-Hike! Haha. Maybe I will at some point.

I think the answer to all of those questions is, “Yeah, sometimes.”

Some of these postcards hint at answers to those questions. My chaptered fics also answer different parts of those questions, but it takes digging and good eye to catch it sometimes. Both touch on pets and “pets,” how they differ from official trainers’ pokémon. Divides talks about backyard battles that are ostensibly kids being kids but are actually training, just without a license. (Gotta finish and post that chapter!) The most recent chapters of Spring contrast the introverted but wilderness-savvy protagonist against his easily distracted, adventure-seeking friends, who don't have a full eight badges between them after a year of traveling and training.

In general, my routes take a little longer to get through for sure. Some are longer than others — like that marathon getting into Fortree — and a less experienced hiker will move slower. (They’ll also be more likely to a. pause to catch a new Pokémon or b. stumble into trouble.) I think lots of people start journeys...and lots of people quit after a couple badges. Or run out of money. Gotta pay for your food, medicines, hostel stays... Probably most people who are part of the training industry are more casual — which is to say it’s not their main source of income or the main way they spend their time. Maybe something they do after work or during their vacation or on the weekends. And lots of people just go to college instead. I’ve definitely been scolded by Farla before for shifting my trainer licensing age from ten to eighteen... but I stand by it, even though it’s definitely not canon-compliant. I’ll read other kinds of stories, but I’m most compelled by a version of the Pokémon world with vast, dangerous wilderness and real know-how required to avoid getting into serious trouble. 💚🌳🌲


Do you do much hiking? Because you've definitely done a good job of your research if not, here and throughout the other chapters.
Thank you! I’ve done enough to know how heavy a bunch of clothes and snacks can be when you’re going uphill all day, to know how scary a tent can be in the dark, and to know about a few edible wild plants in my region. I don’t leave the city often though (or even my house sometimes!) so a lot of it is research.

Great to be getting back into these--they're very relaxing little vignettes, and the snapshot structure makes it easy to dip in and out again. Going to take me a while to catch up, but I will eventually!
Glad you’re continuing to enjoy these! And take your time, haha. They’ll be here.
 

Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
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  1. dratini
11. Cities and Silence: Driftveil

[A younger or drunker version of you would’ve brought out your typhlosion, delighting both in watching the large pokemon perform the delicate task and in gently threatening another trainer. Instead you hand over your lighter and accept it back without comment.]
This line does some serious heavy-lifting in terms of characterization. Nice.

[ If you could lock eyes with someone who isn’t that drunk or who’s the right kind of drunk and muscle your way through the small talk, you could probably find several such friends here in the courtyard, or maybe even something more.]
This is an unusual way to portray socialization--the conversation as something to be muscled through, to what? Friendship, but a very surface-level version. This whole passage does a good job portraying loneliness without resorting to that word.

[What’s the point?]
Think you could cut this line. It's pretty heavy-handed, and with the song lyric, I don't think you need it as transition.

[ the rage in your heart quiets. ]
"Rage" took me aback here. Rage is a pretty extreme word and was not the vibe I was getting from the earlier paragraphs.

[You find yourself in a new part of town, far from the gym and the hostel. Here feels more real, and also like a secret. You’re off the tourist track now. For a moment, you allow yourself to feel curious again. In the middle distance you can see some kind of complex, like a modern castle, and it draws you closer. You step softly as if to avoid startling away the stillness, to allow the moonlit path to reveal itself to you.]
Mm. This passage rang very true to me. There's definitely something magical in a new city when you wander off the beaten trail and can have this moment (perhaps simulacrum) of discovery.

[In a flash you remember the summer Goldenrod City was so overrun with grimers that the city actually paid trainers to catch and remove them. The sour-smelling air gave your mother headaches, so she spent most of that summer in a dark room with a wet washcloth over her face. One grimer managed to ooze its way up the pipes and into your bathtub. An exterminator with a slowbro had to be called, and there was still a purple ring around the tub for weeks.]
This was very vivid, drawing on so many sensory details.

I'm not sure the simile and ending entirely followed for me. Grimer stand in for pollution, and the warehouses certainly represent machinery over nature, perhaps, but what's the irony? That cities are much the same everywhere? That you can't escape urban life through travel? Having trouble articulating why, but the last two lines fell a little bit flat for me here.
 

Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
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Partners
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Cities and Seeing: Saffron

Ooh, a mugging. This was very intense and you do a great job portraying the mounting stress of the battle and the panic when it all clicks into place.

[Of course you cry.

Eventually you stop, stand up and, because there’s nothing else to do, drag yourself towards the pokecenter to heal your team and file a police report.]
I loved the brevity of this ending--gives it more of a punch, especially with the detail from earlier that the wallet was a gift from a friend. I get from the vignette a sense of the aloneness of traveling. No shoulder to cry on. Nothing to do but buck up and file that police report. And home feels very far away.
 

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
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Driftveil

Think you could cut this line. It's pretty heavy-handed,
I think I'm learning I can be more trusting and therefore more subtle, haha.

"Rage" took me aback here.
Fair! I'll recalibrate that word. Maybe it's gurgling stomach settling down instead of [emotion] in [body part]. Those cheap beers, after all.

That you can't escape urban life through travel? Having trouble articulating why, but the last two lines fell a little bit flat for me here.
Honestly, they feel flat to me, too. Inescapability was the idea though, yeah. Inescapability of what exactly I'm not even sure, which is probably the problem. Like, yes, urban life, but also... maybe the patterns in our lives? The sense of... oh, there's just more of this. I see two potential solutions here: 1) I could just lop off the last two lines and end on the grimer/bathtub mini flashback. Maybe one last clipped line about turning away? 2) I could rework those two lines and try to take another crack at that "oh, just more of this" feeling.

Saffron

Glad it sounds like this one did its job!

a sense of the aloneness of traveling.
Very much a theme here. With Chris I think it's a personality...thing. With these vignettes, I was thinking of the player character in the games, never to properly return home, usually forever walking in circles in the wilderness after the end game when you're shiny hunting or hatching eggs. One of these days I'll have to explore some group traveling scenarios, because that's definitely more of a thing than I've left space for here.

Aaaaaand I still haven't edited that gastly scene yet lol. One of these days I'll make time.
 
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13. Cities and Hunger: Veilstone

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
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  1. custom/moka-mark
  2. solrock
13. Cities and Hunger: Veilstone

Cities, like dreams, are expensive. Tonight is your eighth night in a row of beans and rice for dinner. You eat with your badge case next to you, “for flavor,” and as a reminder.

You’ve got work to do.

There are still some things you won’t do to save money or for convenience. You never eat street food anymore, even when it’s cheap — especially not when it’s cheap.

A few months back, after eating a bad sausage roll, you spent most of a night either kneeling over the toilet or half-dozing on the tile beside the basin. One of the other girls who shared your room at the hostel banged on the door for almost ten minutes straight before leaving to fetch a manager. While she was in the shower, you threw up into a grocery bag next to your bunk.

But there’s a lot you will do to support your lifestyle.

For the past few weeks you’ve been pitching your tent in the hinterlands at night, spending $3.50 in quarters on a hot shower and laundry every other day or so, and restocking shelves at a VitaShop in the mornings. VitaShop offers employees a fifteen percent discount, climbing to thirty once you hit the three month mark, which is nice but unlikely to do you any good. You don’t plan on being here that long.

A not-so-nice thing about working there is the bag check at the end of each shift. Your backpack is your entire life and livelihood. You don’t think there’s any shame in that, but still you hate having to let your manager see your entire existence laid out like that, rummaging through your clothes and mementos because you can’t be trusted not to take company property.

It’s definitely a temporary situation…but you also definitely need the extra cash right now. The journey from Pastoria wasn’t kind to you. Two potions and a rare stone lost in the muck when the seam in your bag burst open. And those two kids who wrung out your team and your wallet. Now you’re just this side of dead broke and therefore stranded until you can recover your funds and, with luck, climb back up the ranks of the battle-for-cash scene.

After your VitaShop shifts, you wad up your apron and head to an abandoned bowling alley turned casual battle arena to train. There’s a different name on the side of the building from when it was still a bowling alley but now locals call it Trash Canyon. Sometimes you walk to the gym instead, but only to watch. Maylene herself is lithe as a cat, and her pokemon are almost unnervingly graceful even when they’re hurt and slow. You’re seeing some progress in your team, you think, but not like that. You wonder what she gives them — there must be something.

The front of the shop, where you’re usually stationed, is all general supplies: gauze wraps, multivitamins, both Silph and value brand potions, key chain fobs. The back is where they stock stranger goods. One aisle carries the things you used to laugh at in infomercials: vegan protein powder, seaweed extracts, fibrous dried kelpsy berries (imported from Hoenn). The remaining aisles are subdivided by pokemon typing, with a few lines of supplements that claim to be calibrated for individual species, all the most popular ones. It sounds impressive, and you might have been tempted by it once, but you’ve started to wonder how delicate the constitution of a wild-caught creature could really be. By far, the formulas advertised for dragon-types are the most expensive, some literally worth their weight in gold. You’ve never been close enough to a dragon-type to be able to see eye color, let alone catch one, but you understand why someone would steal the stuff for the resale value alone. Each bottle bears an electronic lock that explodes if not removed before leaving the store, spraying thieves with red dye.

You see all kinds of trainers in the checkout line. Some approach the register with a single precious pill jar and others, astoundingly, with shopping baskets full to the brim. Most manage to seem both bored and anxious. You’re practically invisible to them in your apron, leaving you free to size them up.

How far behind have you fallen?

You used to feel more disdainful, more jealous. But after a while you realized they’re no different from you. None of you knows what you’re doing, not really. You’re all just trying and hoping and pushing through as best as you can. You all want the same things: to win more than to lose, to be seen, and to earn enough money to keep going. You’re all still hoping, in your way, for miracles.
 

Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
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Partners
  1. dratini
Okay, I really liked this one.

It's the tone, I think. You've captured someone who's persisting even though they seem to have lost sight of what's motivating them. And you do it from the first few lines, especially [You eat with your badge case next to you, “for flavor,” and as a reminder. ]

There's a kind of meanness to their thoughts-- that line [You wonder what she gives them — there must be something. ] just breathes cynicism and distrust for anyone who's made it. But those last two lines, which I think are really beautifully written [You all want the same things: to win more than to lose, to be seen, and to earn enough money to keep going. You’re all still hoping, in your way, for miracles. ] gesture at something behind it all, no matter how obscured.

The little details and indignities are the small stitches that hold the whole thing together, of course--the food, the job, the dragon-type formula. Everything flows from line to line and leads up to that ending. Which I just want to quote again because it's so well-said: [You all want the same things: to win more than to lose, to be seen, and to earn enough money to keep going. You’re all still hoping, in your way, for miracles. ]

(One thing I've noticed in these vignettes--the ending doesn't always do the story justice. This time, you definitely stuck the landing.)
 
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