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Pokémon The Legendarian Chronicles

unrepentantAuthor

A cat that writes stories.
Location
UK
Pronouns
they/she
Partner
purrloin-salem
Short, sharp reviews are the order of the day~!

Further notes on ch15:
Loved that Astrid called Jade a little shit lmfao
The way you described Mewtwo's Pressure and how overwhelming his presence was one of my fave things about this chapter.

Ch16
Loved the reunion of Chibi and Razors, it was very touching. And painful! The way Chibi is struggling to come to terms with the fact that he'd got to the point of trying to kill Razors when this outcome was still possible... I love it.
Love that Flygon/Aros is so oppositional that he considers sleeping outside just to be difficult.
"Yes yes and yes" got a snort.
Jade's emerging trauma about thunder shock is very good, the way her narration puts it makes the horror of it plain and sickening.
Making a deal with the experiments was a fun scene. Stalker really is quite a character. What's his fuckin deal?
Hooray, Chibi stays! I thought it might go that way, and I'm glad it did. Really pleased for them both.
Chibi's chronic pain is delicious. I don't have his pain, but the vibe is spot on.
Bless Jade! She is so sweet and humble. What the fuck. What a likeable girl.
Firestorm also has trauma from helplessness! Excellent. Poor lad.
Jade helping him to learn a way to use fire punch was such a great scene! I haven't had the pleasure of reading many scenes like this, and I'm glad we get some besides TMs and that TMs aren't perfect anyway. Great stuff. Really cute.
FIRESTORM PAWNCH!
Lastly, I am fuckin snorting at Firestorm's obvious crush and Jade's total smugness at spotting it. Wonderful.
 

unrepentantAuthor

A cat that writes stories.
Location
UK
Pronouns
they/she
Partner
purrloin-salem
Time for a mega-review consisting mostly of cannibalised reactions and liveblogging. You know the drill~

Ch17
Sick chapter art as always!
Love a good threeway fight, this one was a lot of fun.
Go team Jade! I'll cheer for you guys!
Autumn! Love a good bit of Autumn, and a sense of time and place and sensory input.
I'm so touched and proud of them! I love them a lot, I'm gonna cry. It's really special to feel so fond of these guys.
Swift's interest in human affairs and contemplative temperament makes me suspect he'd take an offer from Perihelion.
INTERLOPERS! Very excited to know what that's about.
It's been 3000 years... since the last war. I'm guessing this element was introduced after Gen VI.
Desperate for the timeline where LC is an anime. I know it gets grimmer later, but ch17 is peak 'this should be an anime'.
The legend is so wordy! Very much a weird piece of writing. Intriguing.
Totally agree with Jade that Suicune and other Legends are pretty damn scary. Wonderful sense of presence.
Ah yes, this is a chosen one fic, oh my. I've not really read any chosen one fic, but this is still my favourite chosen one fiction I've ever read tbh. And that's this far in. I know there's so much wonderful content to come. I love your notes about avoiding pitfalls and will try to speculate as I read, even though speculation is hard for me!
Ah yes, explorers of pain and suffering. My heart is gonna break in the best way.
I'm so fuckin' hype!

Ch18
Viridian base is pretty huge! It has a real sense of scale and a military vibe. Team Rocket really does feel like a paramilitary organisation here, and not a glorified crime cabal. I like that take on them, you know.
Darren's banter with Jade is good and funny here.
Fuck yeah, this mission has that vibe like when you return to tutorial level where you had a scripted loss to a boss and now you get to fuck em up!
Lmfao I spotted a breath she didn't know she'd been holding. It's been memed on too much for me not to just grin at it.
FUCK they got accidentally captured I KNEW THIS WOULD HAPPEN.
Jade has opinions about high tech plausibility that surprise me. It feels weirdly intrusive and unimmersive that she should be commenting on whether electric type energy is easier to handle with tech, or how plausible these devices are.
The escape from the truck was tense as hell, very good, exciting.
Brainwashed legendaries are really fucking scary and really fucking sad. That's a good plot element right there.
Hi Chibi's bird parent! I like that he gets a little moment to touch his feathers. I like that the birbs each have their own takes on entei turning up and are distinct personalities.
The word 'wave' gets used 4x in a single paragraph and that's egregious Sorry!! It feels mean to point out but I still gotta arrest you for repetition crimes.
Aros and Stygian but no Razors... surely there's a reason? Poor Chibi wants his bro and I feel for him.
"Protect each other" is a lovely phrase. I hope this is a theme getting name-dropped. I'd use it in the trailer for LC anime. It gave me emotions.
The word 'crap' sure gets thrown around a lot and helps cement these kids as being kids. It's a little harder to remember that many Rockets are actually also super young.
Super battle! Very fun! The sheer tension! The close call! Mew! It Mew!!
My hype levels at the end of this chapter closely matched how tired I was at the time, sorry!

Ch19
Mew's characterisation as a sad god is good, I'm convinced they're complacent and gonna get completely curbstomped by TR.
The way Mewtwo doesn't even have the agency to take out Mew without orders is killing me. All his agency is gone in the worst way.
Jade is a more competent trainer! Ya love to see it! So proud of her.
Hooray for Stalker! I'm glad we don't spend too much time drooling over his awesomeness in the heat of battle, however.
Oh man the situation got so much worse so fast. I have a feeling that I'll be saying this a lot going forward.
Pretty hype about Chibi's power and its potential. I thought Jade might use him to drain the forcefield, actually.
Lmfao Aros only cares about Stygian. It's endearing even though it's kindof an asshole trait.
The return of jeep forcefields! Not a bad continuity moment there.
The return of fucking suicune! Oh man. Epic.
The ebb and flow of battle is wild, holy shit this is intense. Great stuff.
Dude so many guys are fuckin dead and I bet Team Rocket doesn't even have dental. How can you expect grunts to stay loyal when you don't even give them dental and they might get burned or electrocuted to death in the line of duty?
Mew's teleporting in the battle is a great way to use their signature trick in an effective way. Good stuff.
Jade is empathetic and I love her. She really cares. I love characters who care.
The return of Astrid!! Terrifying. Whenever she turns up, I can really feel Jade's fear.
Aros gets owned in this holy shit. I kindof expected him to be overconfident and get stomped, but it's really brutal and I love how it goes down.
Jade is bold, I love it.
Chibi is protective, I love it.
The wounds are brutal, I love it.
WHUMP YEEEAAAHHH!
Big fan of how Jade performs at her highest level ever at heroism only to get absolutely stomped at the last minute. Oof.
Wonderful finish to the chapter, absolutely losing my nut at this point to get to the next.

Ch20
Love this chapter art a lot. Goddamn. The anticipation is thick.
Oh, the fear Jade is going through is exquisite, oh my.
You mattered, Jade! You made a difference! I'm so proud! Sucks that you're gonna get FUCKING TORTURED FOR IT.
INJURIES YEAH! Big fan of some nasty descriptions of characters having been thumped badly.
Wind up watch sounds like a brilliant idea lmfao.
Planning for your inevitable next electrocution? Oh HONEY. oh nooooo. We're about to be well beyond planning for the next time you suffer a quick jolt.
I'm scared for her! Torture is scary!! Astrid's presence is deeply intimidating.
Love that Jade is nauseated looking at Raichu. Not panicky, but sick. It's an interesting little distinction.
Love that she takes the first hit on purpose, love that defiance. Big fan of that.
Love that she starts being incapable of answering and just mumbles nonsense. Oh, Astrid. Torture doesn't work. She's just a kid. You're going about this with such little thought. You must be really torn up about this to be so sloppy.
I didn't notice at first, but the implicit clothes-wetting is an excellent line. How dreadfully sad that is.
Oh no, I love her, she's trying so hard and so scared. I want her to succeed. I feel like I wouldn't do any better in this situation.
Love when Stracion turns up and the sound of footsteps is terrifying. I actually also expected it to be Astrid back for round two.
Very surprised at the rescue but very excited. It's good stuff.
Poor Jade. She did her best but she feels so humiliated.
Love the stuff about the shower and burning the clothes it happened in.
Love her cluster bomb of negative emotions and confusion at being exempted.
Love how awful everything is even after it went as well as could be expected.
The shock Jade's in is handled really well, and we truly are in The Good Shit now. Delighted to have finally reached this point.
...
So.
That was the electrocution.
I'd been wondering for a few chapters if Astrid would turn out to be Starr, given the stellar names, similar appearance, and the whole electrocution thing. I don't think I actually suspected anything until Astrid's second(?) appearance, in which she electrocutes Jade for the first time. The line about never forgetting a face helped, but I also overthought it a bit. I still felt there was a 20% chance that Astrid was Starr's colleague, and not her alias.
My expectation for the scene, albeit one based on nothing, was that Jade would finally realise this person was her former friend during the interrogation, and although I knew there was a possibility that she wouldn't realise until later, I wasn't sure why the deception was in play, or why Jade hadn't realised by now. As it turned out, I had misunderstood or misremembered the timeline, and thought it had only been three years for some reason. Five is a lot more, and that tracks.
I can also think of plenty of reasons why Starr wouldn't reveal her identity, but I was expecting it to be confirmed unambiguously to give me something concrete to react to. The way things went down, I was very sure that Astrid was actually Starr as early as chapter 15, and just waiting for hard evidence out of fear of being wrong. I read through the interrogation waiting for the realisation to hit, and when it didn't, I doubted myself even though it literally couldn't have had another reasonable explanation. I'm genuinely sorry that my reaction wasn't what you were hoping for! I wish I'd told you on the phone like a week ago what my theory was, damnit. I'd have felt so fucking clever!
Anyway. The torture was excellent, albeit not quite how I had expected. I didn't get a kinky vibe at all, you may be happy to hear. I love a good scene like this, and I'm desperate at this point to read on and get the rest of the Astrid-Starr content. Part of me wonders if there's more torture to come...

Ch21
It's the depression pit chapter! It's a good pit.
Lmao at the forcible reminder that pokémon speak anime-style. I tend not to think about it much.
Jade is very sad, Firestorm is trying so hard to help in his dumbass way, my heart hurts.
Looooove the depression. It's a leviathan mood. Really well-handled.
Swift can exchange money for goods and services. Swift is the MVP and I love him and his epic patience.
And I love Jade's 'depression brain', it's really well written and the bullshit logic is very familiar.
Lmao at how Chibi waits for days to talk to Jade and he's just venting about Razors. Get a load of this guy.
Hooray mantis ptsd is tasty. Really enjoy his very specific flavour of traumatisation.
Battle was good fun. Always enjoy an LC battle, and I love how Razors holds back in a sortof bullshit way bc of his fear.
Don't worry, Razors isn't suicidal, haha! He only doesn't care about living except to not further fuck up Chibi! Surely that'll pay off! Haha!
I've been waiting for a real discussion about the former commander before deciding, and I reckon Stalker isn't that person. I don't think this is the kind of fic that drops mention of a plot point like this three times only for it to be confirmed somehow later. I think it's a bigger twist.
I'm so hype for ch22 after that ominous ending A/N, wtf, WILL THERE BE AN WHUMP?

Ch22
Gorgeous terrifying chapter art on this one.
Omg it's an attack on the base?? I'm a fan of this sort of sequence, they're really terrifying.
How did they get the intel? Who squealed? I must know.
Holy shit kid death I have been waiting for this and it is DARK. It's not too much of a tonal drop off a cliff, but it's still a gutwrenching transition.
This is really nailing the terror oh wow. Everything is so terrible and confusing.
It's painful to hear dialogue from a kid not realising their friends are fuckin dead yet.
Moltres is epic and terrifying, Stalker is really cool.
Holy shit it's Astrid and she's scary. Her appearances are increasingly fearsome.
Massive copyka at Jade's freakout and Astrid's hesitation. How must she FEEL to hear that horrified "stay away from me" from her friend?
Man I know what this is all setting up for, oh my god.
The Tyson scene is fucked up. I'm a fan of horrifying use of mindcontrol to turn allies against each other.
OH MY GOD WHAT A BUTTON THAT JUST PUSHED. I don't even know if I knew I had that button, but the throat-slitting moment was incredibly intense. Goddamn.
Holy fuck? That murder sure just happened. It's... just barely within my schema for taking seriously, though. The leg crunch was fantastic, but something felt slightly off about the repeated iron tail and extended screaming. Not sure what, I'm afraid.
Trauma brain really well written here.
Everything is so awful and it's a lot and I love it.
Chibi you motherfucker. The long game you played with wartortle was perfect and I'm upset. I particularly love how Firestorm thinks it's a matter of strength, even though he knows that even Legendaries are vulnerable to Team Rocket. What a little idiot.
There is so much I love about Jade's state of shock. It's a perfect sequence. Horrifying things occurring to her, blank responses. Great stuff.
There is nothing Stalker could have said that would have been okay after all that. The message he left almost feels... shameless. But this was always a guy using kids for espionage against a ruthless paramilitary organisation, no matter how badass he is.
Wow Jade sure has noooooo choice now about continuing with the rebellion oh god. She's talking about it like she has a choice, but she's not safe any more.
Also, the "I'm sorry" extra comic is amazing. I love it so much, and my favourite thing about it is Chibi's expressions.

Ch23
Sucks that jade was only just getting progress on trauma and now everything is so much worse
Hooray for experiments officially joining her
"Razors wasn't my pokemon" BUT YOU CAAAAARRRRE! It's okay to grieve him!
"Meeting up with Starr" lmfao you don't KNOW. She's about to REALISE. AAAA.
Jade is almost as slow to internalise new things about herself as I am lmfao. You moron, you're a proficient trainer now!
Chibi's return is rough. What did this dude do, go beat up randoms until he was ready to drop dead?
Jade's grief brain is well-written. You've managed to pull off the most incredible shock brain, trauma brain, depression brain, and now grief brain. It's solid stuff. I'm especially a fan of how Jade keeps telling herself that her reactions aren't reasonable or fair or logical. Bless this poor girl.
The fact that Jade assumes if she's not about to die she's about to be tortured, and her reaction to this is worse, is agonising.
I really enjoy how Astrid-Starr is just at her wits' end in this. I think organically it would just come off as an executive under enormous pressure after her interrogation subject escaped, but knowing what I do, it comes off as absolutely heartbreaking.
Aaaaaaaaa I love that you put so many delicious parallels in BLC.
Aaaaaaaaa THE REVEAL THE REVEAL IT IS GOOD IT IS GOOD. What a great delivery. Perfect.
I can't believe Jade came this close to realising in Ch15. Omg.
I love that you were dropping little bits of info as early as Ch1, with that whole "17yo executive" thing.
Wow there's a lot in this that I love, especially with what I already know from elsewhere. I'm really enjoying these little notes about Starr's emotional state, what matters to her, the turmoil... it's all fantastic. It actually made me go back and read various scenes from both LC and BLC.
Big fan of Astrid-Starr's angry recriminations and defenciveness and it makes me excited to see more of her and how this subplot will go. I'ts my favourite thing.
I wonder if Jade could have thought of Starr a few more times over the course of the previous chapters. I recall she mentions Starr just a very little in the opening chapters, but that's all that comes to mind. I've been continually wondering if this would happen, actually.
Holy shit that extra was so fucking good. I love everything you write from Starr's POV. It's delicious. It's very Duskcore, but easily distinct enough that I don't feel I'm cribbing, which just means it's especially tasty.
I love Starr, I love this fic, aaaaaaa I am just full of feelings holy SHIT.

The Experience of Binging 19-23 In One Night:
As you know, because I liveblogged draft versions of most of the above to you last night, I stayed up until 4:40am reading LC. I've very rarely done that sort of thing, and though I was sleepless to begin with last night, it is the compelling nature of LC that made me stay up so late. It was a rough experience to be awake that long reading brutal stuff happening to Jade, but I loved it. No regrets whatsoever, and I can see myself doing it again.
I am very very much enjoying this story.
I love it, in fact.
The experience of loving this story is doing weird things to my head and heart, also.
It's a fun adventure fic which deconstructs a lot of established tropes, has dark content written well, fun battles, hits countless buttons to the point of qualifying as a sister fic to my own, is really long with sick art and characters I'm fond of, a redemption arc not based in romance but in being better for one of my favourite characters I've ever read, I'm close enough friends with the author to stay up all night babbling about my reactions, and there's still so much left to go
Not to mention I have a unique and exciting relationship to the story by way of BLC.
It's an incredible experience for me. I'm deeply emotional as I write this. My heart aches. I've wanted this experience of really, really, REALLY caring about a fic to the point of sacrificing sleep to it and exchanging feelings with the author, for years and years.
I feel very lucky, and very grateful.
And I can't wait to keep reading.
 

kintsugi

golden scars
Pronouns
she/her/hers
Partner
silvally-grass
hey hey, here from catnip. I'm not really sure where I last left off reading but from the looks of my review history I haven't actually left a review since ch13, so that's fun.

mostly keeping these big picture/high-level since they're older chapters and it looks like that what uA did so i'mma just steal that lol

ch14

The infiltration continues!

I like where Jade chooses to draw lines in this chapter--capturing god is weird flex but i mean you do you. Hybrids are weird! But clones?? Super clones?? It's a good way of showing how over her head she is with all this, when she's impressed/in awe of her enemy's plans instead of even beginning to work through the main ramifications there, haha. I also like that she ends up making some really terrible decisions that bite her very quickly--releasing the clones in the room to "rub it in their faces" or whatever immediately gets her caught lol. Actions and consqeuences!

Some fun vibes about how Stalker is definitely having really good plans here and is 100% not doing anything else strange by organizing a rebel group that's mostly just semi-trained children. I like how Jade's first instinct it to call him--is that what everyone does? Poor guy probably needs like six phones for all of the panicked calls he ends up getting from yeeting these kids into the middle of firefights over and over again.

The clones are really cute in this chapter too, and I like how you portray the history between them. Aros is basically a shonen protagonist "just because we're clones doesn't mean we're not as good as the originals", and Stygian is all "um akshually". It's a nice bit of levity!

It looks like you've already heard this a lot, but Stracion's appearance at the end of this chapter feels unnecessary. I like how you foreshadow that she's probably learned some stuff with Stalker, and there's a nice moment where Jade does some useful tactician support (noticing that Firestorm has better odds with close-range attacks), and I imagine she's going to be important at some point later on, but right now it just feels like a cameo for the sake of cameo? Reading the author's note, it's not even that I wanted a real/major/gonna fight you for srs antagonist or anything (I think there's plenty of tension leading in and out of this chapter already!). I mostly just wanted this fight to be leading to something, and by the end of it I was struggling to see what it was (and this gets exacerbated by Stracion undoing most of the damage she's caused in the fight)--beyond just meeting Stracion and knowing she's here to fuck with some plans, I don't really know if Jade or anyone else gained much that couldn't have been done in one of the many other fights in this arc.

I bristled. But at the same time, I didn’t feel like arguing. Not with experimental Pokémon whose good side I really wanted to stay on. My eyes couldn’t help tracing the obsidian blade running along the left side of her face… but no. It was no use thinking of all the things they could do to me, and besides—they needed me. I could walk around the base freely—they couldn’t.
I really liked the tension that develops between Jade and the experiments here; they can't trust each other but they also can't not. It's kinda grounding to watch Jade rationalize it so bluntly here--she's the only one here who can walk around freely, and she's more than happy to leverage this both against them and to reassure herself. Stalker's definitely been rubbing off on her lol.

I stared back at his deep blue eyes that betrayed no emotion whatsoever.
And Razors had known that. That final look he gave me… he knew our only chance was to split up. But how would I find them again?
I think this is a thing that becomes clear upon reading chapters back-to-back, but Jade has a tendency to say something along the lines of "I couldn't have known this"/"his face was unreadable" or something, and then shortly after being able to read/know the thing? There was another one I flagged in my multiquote:
I hadn’t noticed. I hadn’t exactly seen enough Grovyle to know what was different about hers. Unless it had something to do with magically poisoning my Pokémon without using any poison moves.
And this tends to undercut the narration--what does it mean to betray no emotion if the intent is made clear immediately after? The second example I think works a little better: it feels very sullen teenagery, which is a pretty Jade-ish vibe. I get the vibe of "how was I supposed to know??? uhhhhhh quickly, I'll spitball", which to me implies a lot more emotion and helps walk through the guesswork that's happening here, rather than two certain statements in the first example.

Teleportation mechanics in LC
“Because the people demanded it!”
oh hey i'm people!

I thought this was cool to explain--there are a lot of things to break worlds in canon, but teleportation is probably the most interesting one! Range-of-sight teleportation as a cantrip sounds broken as fuck and I really hope that gets a broken combat application soon 👀

Is there a functional difference between 10 x 10 km teleports and one beeeeeeg 100km teleport besides the pauses in between?

Also worth noting is the fact that psychics are notoriously proud, and unlikely to stay with a human that only uses them as glorified transportation. (All Pokémon have the legal right to leave their trainer for any reason.) It’s simply uncommon to see anyone with a teleporter other than a dedicated psychic trainer or a competitive battler. Well-trained psychics willing to lend their strength to human society are highly-valued, and most often employed by emergency response teams.
haha i'm really sorry that of all things in the teleport aside I zero in on this section, but I find this one line really fascinating: "All Pokemon have the legal right to leave their trainer for any reason."
There's a thing I made up which is just the Bechdel Test but for Civil Rights--are you able to directly influence the rules which govern you? If the answer is yes, that's clearing the bare minimum of having civil rights. If not, you aren't living under a just government, and you are bound by rules that don't represent you.

So then the question of Pokemon having legal rights becomes interesting, since it doesn't necessarily solve civil rights problems and it also opens up a lot of interesting questions--they're not treated as sovereign entities and they also aren't treated like animals. But do they get a say in making the laws that govern them? It seems like most of the movers in this society are human, with the legendaries sort of fucking off into their own corners to not be bothered and leaving the normal pokemon alone. The non-Rocket jobs we've seen have all been staffed by humans who are occasionally accompanied by pokemon--and that feels reinforced especially in this section, where it seems like Pokemon rarely (want to) take up professions outside of battling, even though they'd be extremely valued there as well. I feel like it'd be a stretch for there to be Pokemon politicians or whatever responsible for passing this legislation, given that being able to understand what they're saying is optional for human students (and trainers like Spencer can get really far without being able to understand their Pokemon at all)--but then are those rules really made for Pokemon if they aren't in part made by them?

Which is like! not the main focus of this fic, and I get it; we don't ask about Aragorn's tax policy and this isn't the time and place to question the ethical ramifications of legal representation; this is about beeg birds having a slapfight and Jade buying a nice lollipop for her goose friend. But this is a story about agency, and choice, and being cast to follow rules that someone else made a long time ago that say what your destiny is supposed to be, so I did find this tiny aside in this footnote/extra chapter particularly fascinating.

ch15

okay well that was a weird tangent

Mewtwo in this chapter! Beeg spook. Mewtwo asking "and what help is a human child" is such a mood for this fic haha.

Overall this one is a lot of fun. Mewtwo's such an interesting character when it comes to questions of personhood and free will, so I'm glad that there's an incarnation of him in this as well. The conversation with him was appropriately somber, and I liked that Chibi's really the driving factor in a lot of the information that gets disclosed here--clones gonna do #justclonethings! And it's kind of horrifying that they have to just run, knowing this is going to bite them in the ass a little later. Seems like sending kids to disrupt operations isn't a great idea, sad Stalker sounds.

And first Astrid sighting! I'm sure she's not going to be important later.

had a bit of fun trying to see if I'd shitposted anything worthy of going up on the Jade x Stracion wall and found this gem from 2019:

my brain is enormous apparently.

“*What is your plan for getting out of here?*” Absol asked, licking her mane and generally looking bored with the discussion.
I'm fresh off of bingeing Salvage but I love this image of an Absol character just giving zero shits while their child ward is freaking the fuck out. And there's Mewtwo this chapter! Destiny.

And man, was it bizarre. Tall, gangly, and humanoid, with thin, wiry arms and huge legs. But strangely… cat-like? The pointed ears, rounded paws, and short muzzle all reminded me of a cat… a creepy hairless humanoid cat. And yet, despite everything, there was something… powerful about it. I couldn’t explain why, it just was.
A bit more of that "I couldn't explain why" cropping up in narration. I wish there was a little bit more insight into how she gets to these conclusions. Later she provides some concrete descriptions about how talking to Mewtwo muddles her thoughts and makes it hard to think; it would've been helpful to have a bit of an anchor for what powerful actually means in this scenario.

“*I told him that I’m an experiment just like him. Hang on, I’ll ask him to include you.*”
this entire conversation

But then a wave of icy resentment washed over me. <I know that I was created to fight. Created to dominate others like myself.> God, Mewtwo’s presence was overwhelming. I couldn’t tell what I was feeling anymore. Too many things. Too hard to process them all. My thoughts dragged like mud. What was I doing here?
I kinda wanted more physicality to what it meant for thoughts to drag like mud though--the narration here still feels very clear and rational. There's one really cool bit later on where Mewtwo's despair at the thought of being brainwashed leaks in and she can't tell if it's hers at first, but other than that the thoughts here certainly feel like Jade's own. For a first person narrator I wanted a bit of a closer look into what it means not to think her own thoughts, you know?

As the Rocket neared, I was able to get a better look at her—a young woman with short, auburn hair, a tough build, and stern features. Not the sort of person I’d like to cross. High-ranking too, from the looks of her uniform. She wore a tight black tank top with a thick vest, loose capri pants and heavy black combat boots. Sure enough, both her vest and cap had the executive symbol emblazoned on them.

But then an eerie feeling washed over me. Why did I feel like I recognized her from somewhere?
ah yes, all my shitposts are finally coming together

It felt like the air had been sucked out of my lungs. What? How? How could she possibly know it was me? It took every ounce of concentration I had to keep my face neutral with the sudden wave of dread spreading through every inch of my body. Had to play dumb. She had no proof. Had to keep it that way.
I thought it was! really adorable! that she thought that Team Rocket, whose first scene is them just shooting up a god with helicopters and guns needs proof to do mean things to people.

I clenched my teeth
another thing I noticed reading this all at once--lots of teeth clenching in this section.

I sighed. “No.” Honestly, for all I knew, Mewtwo was probably already linked with a Pokéball. I guess there really wasn’t anything I could do. Not now, anyway.
Astrid rolled her eyes. “I’ll pretend that wasn’t the biggest fluke in existence. Anyway, who said I wanted to battle? I think it’d be faster for me to just knock you out right here, drag your stupid rebel ass to a detention cell, and force you to tell me everything I want to know.”

My eyes unconsciously slid to the gun holster hanging from her Pokéball belt, sending another jolt of ice coursing through my veins. No, what was I thinking—she had just said she planned to take me alive. But only because I had information. And after she’d gotten that information out of me…?
I feel like this chapter has a lot of ... well I could do this thing, but I'm not really going to. Astrid at least has some reservations and I get that, but I never really think that Jade or Astrid are really going to do these things--by spending more time talking about why they aren't doing it, it feels like they're just bluffing. As a result I don't really feel the tension as strongly, since it doesn't feel like a real possibility in the first place.

At least after all this, I had a pretty good idea of how to navigate B2f
B2F I think? I truly do not know capitalization schematics for basements but I've only ever seen the acronym capitalized fully.

In front of me, the two clones nodded to each other before melting into shadow and streaking across the floor.
Between chapter 14 and here, if I had a nickel every time Aros and Stygian nodded to each other before melting into shadow, I'd have ... two nickels, but it's kind of weird that it happened twice.

ch16

Awww! More #justclonethings; I really like the shared history between Chibi and Razors here. It's a lot of fun that these clones are really not having it with Jade, but they care deeply for each other--makes a lot of sense honestly! There's something powerful about their conversation about Chibi/Razors' free will when they're brainwashed, and how Chibi insists that what you do under brainwashing isn't your fault, but Razors is firm that intentional or not, the outcomes are still the same. Lotta good questions about choice, and a lot conveyed there in how both of them feel like they're able to exercise it. And this played in really well to Chibi's speech later about "I'm like this because they made me this way"--I never really get the sense that he thinks he's got a choice in a lot of this, but he’s convinced it's not his fault and there's nothing he can do, and that's really tragic.

As a breather chapter I think this is a nice chance to look back at all the things that just happened and process it. The reactions for all the experiments/clones was really nice, and having some closure for Firestorm and his frustration post-Stracion was nice--he sort of falls off the page a bit for ch15 and I was curious what him and Swift were going to think about all of this! Really cute bits where he and Jade are both super hyped about him learning new techniques; it's good to have a few wins like this here and there.

I shrugged and grabbed two Pokéballs from my pocket, one red and one black, opening them to reveal twin flashes of light that took the forms of a white beast and a tall green mantis. And then Chibi froze, staring wide-eyed at Razors in total disbelief. In all the time I’d known him, I’d never seen him look so stunned. But then, this was his first real reunion with Razors in… how long? Years? How many years had Razors been brainwashed? How many years had Chibi been forced to view his companion as the enemy?
The epithets really start picking up in this chapter. I know these have been brought up before and it's kind of a stylistic thing for you, but in this exact case they felt really weird--Jade knows who she's sending out, so it felt weird to see the epithets followed by the names rather than just the names. Maybe just "I shrugged and grabbed two Pokeballs from my pocket, one red and one black. There were twin flashes of light. Chibi emerged and then froze, staring wide-eyed [...]"?

I grit my teeth. No sense holding back any longer.
Jade's gonna need invisalign by the end of this arc for all the teeth clenching she's doing

“But I’m due for grunt work in Cerulean next week,” I protested. And my supervisor was… not exactly the kind of person I wanted to upset.

He gave me a pointed stare. “The last thing you want is to be captured inside a base.”
I wasn't sure what outcome she was expecting from this tbh.

I glanced at my watch for about the millionth time that day only to be met with the same blank face. I’d realized at some point that it was probably dead from Raichu’s lightning, though I didn’t seem capable of remembering that fact for more than five minutes.
This felt vaguely meta in light of all of the other things I've seen Jade forget lol. Wasn't sure how to parse this one.

“Her Raichu is infamous,” he went on, “but you don’t have to worry about the Mewtwo data. That script wasn’t just copying the data to the drive. It was uploading it to an online storage. I actually read some of it last night.”
This felt vaguely hollywood hacker to me--most computers that hold secret data like this aren't hooked into any sort of publicly accessible network, traffic is highly monitored, nothing just goes out on the wifi, etc.

“Do you still have their Pokéballs?” Stalker asked me. Right, there was no reason for me to hold onto them if they were going to be free now. I dug through my pockets and retrieved the minimized balls, handing them to him. He gave them a curious look before saying, “I’ll keep them in my office. Having the option to recall them in case of emergencies could be useful.”
a decision that has really interesting implications on how he views the members of the rebellion and that i'm sure will have no repercussions later

I nodded, taking a few steps back. “From what I remember, it’s basically just a long stream of fire. Like Fire Blast, but way thinner, and you don’t have to get it to split into five, so it should be easier to control.”

Firestorm planted both feet firmly on the ground, digging his claws into the dirt and taking a deep breath. He then exhaled a large burst of flame that billowed outward in the air before splitting off into wisps and then vanishing completely. The Charmeleon blinked a bit in surprise, then let out two or three more spurts of fire with similar results. The flame was impressive—it just wasn’t going anywhere.
I thought this scene was really interesting! There's definitely a central question of like, what to trainers add to these fights, especially since a large portion of the main good-guy Pokemon cast (basically everyone except Swift and Firestorm at this point) are both capable of and seemingly prefer fighting without a human trainer. So trainers contribute the strategy? Jade's instructions feel kind of vague here though--I couldn't really understand how this would be any more or less useful than watching someone else use Flamethrower and copying that, or why Firestorm hadn't come to this conclusion after enviously watching Stalker's Charizard or something.

ch 17

Houndoom that just act like larger, deadlier puppies is an excellent trope and I am here for it. And more victories for Firestorm! I get the sense that everyone is about to need some morale boosters for what's coming next.

Some much needed Swift aftermath here too--Jade mentions something along the lines of forgetting where he'd gone for an entire day, and that feels a lot like my mood regarding him sometimes tbh. There's a lot of moving parts in this story and it feels like Swift and Firestorm are usually the first parts that Jade immediately forgets about lol.

Stalker using phrases like "I need to figure out a way to keep using you" and Jade nodding along happily with it is a really good vibe for what is to come; I'm sure there's nothing wrong here. I really like how he's speculating about what the author of these tablets must've said; got major "asking for a friend" vibes here. History repeating itself is an interesting topic to bring up in a universe in which this could be forced to happen, quite literally.

This chapter feels like a lot of set-up for a lot of future plot, which makes sense given how far we are into the story fractionally--I kinda wish we'd gotten some of this earlier, but that's a useless comment until I see how this pays off. What I did want in this chapter for sure was more understanding of what Jade thinks about all of these things. There's this idea that like, oh, prophecies are stupid, but I feel like she's rapidly reaching saturation for how many legends she's seen in one room and that excuse is starting to wear thin on her. And Swift ends up feeling like a means to an end here, so someone can shepherd Jade to these ruins, and he conveniently disappears once that's been accomplished.

“You’ve got the type advantage, of course I’m not just gonna rush in blindly against—” My words were cut off by the whoosh of another Razor Leaf.
For the most part I think this battle is well-described, especially for what it is (light-hearted shitposting! no one is trying to die this time so we can all talk smack) but I got a bit lost here re: the whoosh of Razor Leaf being loud enough to cut someone off. That feels like it'd be very loud lol.

The Absol’s movements were sluggish, and her left foreleg bore a purplish tinge—poison, most likely. Still, the white-furred beast kept deftly dodging punches from Primeape like they were nothing, following up with slashes of pink energy from the blade on her head.
Likewise this description of a purple-tinged foreleg felt weird--is the whole leg poisoned, visible even through the fur? "sluggish movements" and "deftly dodging punches like they were nothing" also feel very incongruous.

“*Strength is nice, but it’s not everything,*” Swift said, with an airy, offhand tone like he was thinking aloud. “*Training here has let me learn so many things. I want to know how everything works.*” He paused, looking down. “*It’s not something Pokémon are supposed to think about, though.*”
didn't expect to see this here! what *are* Pokemon supposed to think about then/

Movement, out of the corner of my eye. I turned my head to the left and caught sight of a violet gas ball drifting lazily amongst the trees before crossing the clearing and vanishing through a pillar.

A Gastly.
I wasn't quite sure what the impact of having this on its own line was supposed to be--are the Gastly spooky? Is Jade afraid of the ghosts? Are they typically associated with places of spiritual importance? Jade mentions like, huh, that's weird that they're here, but having it on its own paragraph like this made it seem like this was an important statement, but Jade immediately forgets about it.

I blinked. On one of the slabs was some writing I could actually read. At first, I was sure my eyes were just playing tricks on me, but there it was—words written in the Tohjoan alphabet. But there was no way that I’d be able to understand it; it’d likely be some ancient language that just happened to use the same—
stalker is just sitting in the corner with a pair of binoculars and a cuneiform tablet trying to see who will read his cool poems tbh

even among the Order—the ones who dedicated both mind, body, and spirit toward ending the war
both -> three things here; felt kind of strange

A slender beast stood atop the stone archway at the entrance to the ruins. Diamond-spotted cobalt fur covered a lithe frame with muscles poised to strike at any moment. Twilight glinted through crystalline antlers, casting sea-green highlights across the stone floor and making the ruins feel even more unearthly. But the weirdest thing was how its violet mane and ribbon-like tails constantly billowed through the air… like it was surrounded by its own personal whirlwind.
I thought this was a nice bit of description! The personal whirlwind is a nice touch; I bet they're doing it to look extra dramatic.

I opened my mouth to speak… and found all memory of the legend completely gone.

“I… don’t remember.”
yeah this seems normal
(is this? the canon explanation for why she keeps forgetting about Swift and Firestorm????)

Ch18

I thought it was kind of silly that Jade ends up being sent to infiltrate Viridian base, which is so big and important, immediately after Stalker says that it'd be dangerous to send her on missions where she could be recognized? Unless he's like, really trying as hard as he can to throw the whole operation into chaos--given that this one ends up playing out exactly how one would expect, at the risk of information being leaked via interrogation, this seems like a monumentally self-destructive plan even for Stalker lol. And there's a later line that mentions he doesn't even give her a new account with admin rights, which seems really dangerous if she and Darren got separated. Bad planning part 18 for Stalker lol.

Bit of a two-fer; will put the overall thoughts in ch19.

Chibi's reaction to seeing Zapdos is cute haha. Big shoes to fill. And Razors didn't want to come! #justclonethings continues to be an excellent subplot.

“What kind of officer need a grunt’s help to get through a door?” Darren asked wryly.
need -> needs here

At once, I had to screw my eyes shut as I found myself staring directly at the piercing glow emanating from the electric-type’s body. I blinked a few times, willing my eyes to adjust until I could make out the silhouettes of Darren and Chibi, highlighted against the blackness.
The word "silhouette" confused me--Chibi's the source of light, so he wouldn't be a silhouette, and if he's just emitting light then I'm not sure if Darren would be a silhouetted either?

Stalker closed his eyes and exhaled slowly before shaking his head. “No. This is the easiest way of following them. Message me your coordinates every five minutes. I’ll track your trajectory from each one and figure out the most likely destination while I get everyone else ready to go.”
find my phone would be really helpful lol

The entire area fell deathly silent. All eyes were on Entei. The beast inhaled deeply, then unleashed a deep, reverberating roar that shook my entire body. It seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere at the same time. It… almost felt like Pokéspeech. But at the same time… not. It felt like a cry for help. A cry directed at someone in particular. But who?
I liked this bit of description a lot!

And the third, soaring high on short, broad wings, was a golden heron, its jagged plumage coursing with strings of lightning.
There's also a lot of "strings of lightning/electricity" in the section I've read here.

I think I mentioned the epithets stuff higher up but "golden heron" for Zapdos was a bit of a stretch for me--herons are wading birds, and also they have long necks (closer to Moltres tbh).

The birds were reluctant to harm Entei, but that just made it even harder for them to fight Mewtwo while having dodge the lion’s flames.
dropped a "to" here

Rudy spun around to face the ALR. “All right! Time to take down these machines!” he exclaimed with a huge grin. “Ebony, use Inferno! Nidorino, Sludge Bomb; Larvitar, Rock Slide; Wartortle, Water Pulse!!”

“Swift, use Air Cutter. And Firestorm…” I took a deep breath. “Well, we’ve got a giant target and nothing nearby to worry about… use Fire Blast.”
I really like the feeling of being able to cut loose and have your wizard Fireball the room; this is a nice payoff from the training chapter!

The long barrage of attacks felt unnecessary here since they don't really appear to have much of an impact on what Jade sees or does next besides a general sensation of elemental chaos. I think something like "Rudy commanded a string of attacks from his own Pokemon" would've had a similar affect?

Mew turned her head in the direction of the voice, observing the Rockets with a mixture of sadness and pity. <So humans have become our enemy once again. But I wonder… are you really prepared for that?>
Serious Mew! That's an interesting one.

The lack of differentiation between like, these exact humans and just humans is kind of terrifying and I'm sure will have no implications later down the line.

Ch19

Haha, it's about time people started losing again; things were going too well for Jade for at least two chapters.

The brawl, part 2! It's rightfully chaotic, and the scope of all the power at stake is laid out really nicely here. Really sucks that each of these encounters to rescue the legendaries only ends up with them being deeper and deeper in the hole numberswise; they really aren't doing themselves any favors by showing up at each fight. I was kind of confused about why Suicune enlists the birds to go in their stead and then shows up on their own anyway? Or why the Rockets didn't do barrages of Master Balls earlier--I didn't fully get the sense that Moltres and Articuno were worn down any more here than they were when they first called to Mew previously--it was hard to understand how weak/strong everyone was at a given point, especially since Jade is once again pretty removed from the action. But still a fun free-for-fall, and a good chance to see all the rebel kids getting to use the techniques they've been practicing.

The terror at the end works really well in the first-person narrator too--sometimes I get the sense that we're a bit disconnected from Jade's head, but this one was really close in there and the emotions were made really clear. Fun fun.

Mew had taken to blinking in and out of view around the battlefield, teleporting non-stop, pressing buttons on the fallen Master Balls and trying to open as many of them as possible. But then a blue aura appeared around all of them, and they flew out of her reach, pulled by Mewtwo’s telekinesis.
I have this image of interns having to comb through the field later and figure out which one of the Master Balls is the real one.

But then, without warning, Mew teleported to Entei’s side, grabbed hold of the beast, and then teleported again. An agonized howl rang out as the fire legend reappeared within one of the ALR beams that had been aiming at Zapdos. Its body spasmed wildly as the energy dug into it, then finally collapsed to the ground, motionless.
ah yes, good, line-of-sight Teleport as a cantrip being broken as fuck and having horrifying combat implications, excellent.

I gave her a defiant glare. “I think I can. I think these computers are the only thing keeping Mewtwo on your side. What happens if I destroy them?”

“You’ll be in for the worst pain of your life, that’s what,” she spat. But at the same time, there was actually the tiniest sliver of fear in her expression. Mewtwo might have been the Rockets’ greatest weapon, but they were also terrified of him, weren’t they?
There is a massive percentage of Jade/Astrid dialogue that's just them bluffing and immediately being called for bluffing.

I sank to my knees, letting out a huge sigh of relief. I didn’t have much chance to relax before Chibi rounded on me. “*What are you doing facing down the head of the combat unit alone?! I’d expect that kind of overconfidence from Aros, but not you, Jade.*”
this didn't feel like a realistic response from him? Jade's done stupid shit in front of Chibi all the time.

In general it looks like I'm about to start the electrocution arc, which I imagine is best tackled as one unit, so I think I'll taper off here.
 
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Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
Hi Chibi! Here for you Blacknight Review Prize. I read from the prologue through chapter 7.

I've heard you talk about scope creep before, but I thought the divided prologue did a nice job signalling to the reader the kind of story that's in store: ordinary kid plus legendaries. The first chapter introduces the antagonists (Team Rocket), the problem (they're catching legendaries to take over the world) and the potential resistance (Stalker et all.) I appreciated that the story got into its meat right away-started where the story started.

It's always interesting to see different takes on Team Rocket. I enjoyed all the internal bickering and power struggles we've seen from them so far. The dialogue from the Rockets so far suggests a whole backstory and world going on there that Jade's just at the tip of--they feel like an organization that exists even when they're not on the page.

Chibi is definitely the stand-out character so far. He's a twitchy, ironic pikachu rage-ball with a self-destructive streak a mile-wide but also a heart of gold. I like how he gives the appearance of inconsistency, without actually being that inconsistent. I also got a strong sense of Starr from the prologue--sullenness and guarded self-sufficiency. Spencer and Rudy left less of an impression--they spent most of their dialogue bantering, and so I didn't get much sense of them. One hurdle of ramping up the story so quickly is that an ensemble cast is thrown together very quickly and then dispersed just as quickly, without the ensemble characters getting much of an arc.

The tone gave me some mixed messages in these opening chapters. There are a lot of brutal moments that seem meant to be taken as such--the burned pokemon in the forest, Rockets shooting at Swift, Chibi torturing people with electricity, etc. But the early chapters, particularly the plane arc, have a bit of a jaunty, banter-filled tone, that felt hard to square with what's actually happening. Is Jade freaked out, or is she taking this in stride? Despite us being in first-person POV, I didn't really feel like I knew.

I didn't feel entirely grounded in Jade's first-person POV. It seemed like a lot of the time, she was acting as more of the means through which we were seeing the story, rather than experiencing the story herself. I didn't really get a sense of who Jade is and what she wants from the opening chapters. Her desire to be a pokemon trainer seems to come a bit out of nowhere. She's forced by necessity to be passive a fair bit, but when the time comes for her to make some major choices (becoming an illegal trainer, going to Stalker's ship party) they didn't feel quite justified to me from what we'd seen of her so far. The place I felt this most was in the time-skip. Three-weeks is a long time to keep a character in what felt to me like stasis, and still have them feel like an organic person, versus someone waiting for the plot to start up again.

I think you mentioned that you don't want Jade to have any special qualities, for her to be the most ordinary possible, but a completely ordinary person doesn't really exist outside of parody--we still need to have a sense of who this person is, what motivates them. Madoka Magica features a similar set-up to what you have here--an ordinary girl, whom circumstance is nudging into someting bigger and more terrible than herself. And Madoka's motives seem very similar to Jade's: "Well...there's nothing special about me...I've never been good at school and I've never had any talents...I'm scared that this is the way my life's gonna stay. Always asking for help and not being able to help when people need it...I can't stand thinking about it...I might not be good at anything, but if I could help out people like you, I could be proud of the way I live. That's the best thing I could wish for." But even though there's "nothing special" about her, Madoka is still an incredibly vivid character because of her kindness, which the viewer sees in everything she does. Her ordinary life serves an important function in the story, because it illustrates the world she wants to protect and shows how deeply she cares for it. With Jade, I have less of a sense of what she values. Plot points have less of an impact when I don't feel the impact they have on our narrator.

Regarding prose, I appreciate all the strong action verbs. I do think that sometimes the narrative leans too heavily on generalities and invocations of gut feeling. More concrete details would help ground us in the action and in Jade's reactions to it.

More detailed discussion in the chapter specific reviews!

Prologue

First of all, I don't mind the split prologue at all. In fact, I was a bit relieved that we were actually getting to the main character in the prologue. I'm not a huge fan of the portentious prologue that doesn't have any implications until chapter forty approach--let me meet the characters the story is actually about! So it was nice to meet Jade and get some insight into an early event in her life. I think you did a good job capturing something about that age, where moving manifests like a natural disaster. You show well that more is going on with Starr than she is saying, but that Jade doesn't really have the sophistication to know where to even start with that. I think I would have liked a little more in their interaction that felt personal--memories, things they've done together, or made for each other. Perhaps some of these times when you're describing a fairly generic expression like Starr looking deep in thought or like she wants to tell something you could have Jade relate that expression to a memory--deep in thought the way she looks in math class? or deep in thought they way she looks when planning pranks or when an adult has told her no? Something like that would characterize them both.

As for the first part of the prologue--so, Lugia is waking up! I have this super vague suspicion that this fic largely concerns legendaries (don't ask me why) so I was a little surprised to not get more of a sense of what Lugia is actually like. The stuff about Order and Balance is kind of presented by the narrator, not Lugia. I wanted a bit more of a sense of Lugia's emotions, personality, what's prompting its rise from the sea beyond this generalized sense of The Time Is Nigh. I've gotten the sense from the art and excerpts you shared in discord that your legendaries have some funky and larger-than-life personalities--would have been great to get a taste of that in the prologue, since it acts as a sampler for the fic.

A pair of eyes snapped open, radiating a cobalt aura and piercing the inky blackness within the depths of the sea.
This is a bit of an unecessarily wordy sentence, particularly for the first line of a fic. Maybe, "A pair of eyes snapped open, radiating a cobalt aura that pierced the black depths of the sea." Stuff like "cobalt aura" does tend to make me a bit leery as a reader--gets my purple prose hairs up.

The true blessing of light had never reached the ocean floor, and even the rare glow of life could not break its concealment. The creature to which the eyes belonged knew this better than any other.
The thought here is hard to parse and seems purposefully obscure--I feel like it's less an attempt to communicate meaning than impress a sense of solemnity. What is the "true blessing" of light? Why do we hop from blessing to concealment in the same sentence?

I find the 'he creature to which the eyes belonged' a very awkward construction. Not really sure why you don't want to say it's Lugia. From the cover art alone, it's never really in doubt. Even without the color art, anyone familiar with Lugia would know, and anyone not familiar with Lugia isn't going to say, 'omg that was Lugia' when it's revealed. The functional effect of not calling Lugia by name mostly seems to be to obfuscate the prose.

The deep was always dark and always would be. The deep was always calm—not like the surface. The deep could always hide those who wished to be hidden. But the time for hiding was at its end.
I liked the rhythm produced by these sentences. Gives me the sense of big thoughts, but simple ones.

At once, the creature shot up from the ocean trench like a silver torpedo.
The 'at once' transition struck me as off. We've had narration, so what does the at once peg onto?

Piercing eyes adjusted to the rapid increase of light just in time to be met with the inviting glimmer of the surface right above.
Don't follow the logic of this sentence--Lugia's eyes adjust to the light just in time to be met with the light?

Cool, salty air washed over its body, a sharp contrast to the water’s embrace.
Since you're drawing a contrast between air and water, maybe don't used "washed" to describe the air, since that implicitly analogizes the air to the water.

The sensation prickled like needles against its feathers, but still
Having a 'sensation' prick feels a little abstract. Think it would be more concrete if you specified what is pricking--the salt? There's salt in the ocean too.

there was something almost freeing about being able to beat its wings through the currents of wind and take gulps of sweet air that burned its unused lungs yet felt so good.
The sentence kind of tangles up in itself. The last bit has too many reversals--air is sweet but it burns but it's good.

Maybe, "It felt freeing to beat its wings against the currents of wind, to gulp down air that burned sweetly in its unused lungs."

With something like "burned sweetly" you capture the sense that it feels good without explicitly needing to say it, and also capture the paradox there.

It was so wildly different than the deep, but somehow felt just as right. Flying was, indeed, one of the simplest joys in this world.
The initial it here feels unmoored to me. If "it" = "flying" than the parallel between "flying" and "the deep" is also odd. Maybe "The sky was so different . . ."?

its wings stealing bits of silvery cloud from all around to shield it from the view of any onlookers
Enjoying the phrasing of Lugia's wings "stealing" the clouds. Not sure what this quite means--is it wrapping condensation around itself?

The ancient creature had spent much time within the realm of its dominion, reflecting upon the state of the world. The Order had been empowered to protect the balance, and protect it they had. For so long they had kept watch over its course. Caring for it. Guiding it. But there was a time when the balance had fallen, and the flames of war consumed the world. The creature had not witnessed that time itself, but the tale was well known amongst the Order. Even the humans had their stories from that era.
This is so vague and fantasy generic that I'm not sure I need it at all.

The time for careful observance was at its end. That cataclysmic era had left its mark on the world—one that had lain dormant for nearly 3000 years. Soon the conflict would resurface, and the Order would face its greatest challenge yet. The creature had not wanted to believe it, but the events of the past few years had confirmed those fears.
I feel like this would be stronger if we had a sense of a specific inciting event. When Lugia torpedoes up from the ocean "at once" what was that "at once" relevant too? It feels like this is saying "the signs have been growing etc" but what specifically is making Lugia choose now to surface? Even if that's spoilers, I feel like you could give us more concrete-ness here without revealing anything.

when would the conflict reach a point that the interlopers would be forged?
I'm not sure if there is a typo here or what but "the interlopers would be forged" is not parsing for me.

Lugia gazed down over the mainland, its mind swimming with conflicted feelings. The next seven years would be interesting, that much was certain.
Bit of a lacklustre ending here. I want more of a sense of what those conflicting feelings are. Dread? Excitement? Resignation?

A loud ringing filled the air, which meant the end of class for the day—and it was about time, too.
This feels phrased a bit redundantly to me--we all know what a school bell is and what its ringing signifies. Could say, "The schoolbell's loud ringing filled the air--and it was about time, too."

It would have been just as normal as any other afternoon, except my head was still filled with rumors from earlier that morning.
Like that we're jumping to the non-normal thing.

and then spotted a girl dressed in a purple shirt and jean skirt sitting by herself off to the side. My footsteps slowed. I paused, hesitating for a bit before walking up to her.

“Hey Jade,” Starr mumbled as I neared. She was leaning forward so that her short brown hair fell across her face—probably to keep from looking me in the eye.
It's a bit odd to me that in a first person narrator Starr isn't identified as Starr initially. I get that you want to describe, but you can easily work details in without being put in this off place where Jade is noticing Starr's full outfit before recognizing its her best friend. Ie " . . .then spotted Starr' sitting off to the side, head bent so that her short brown hair hid her face."

She obviously didn’t want to talk about it… and I almost didn’t want to know.

With a blank voice she replied, “Cianwood.” I had no idea where that was supposed to be.
Oof.

But my dad’s staying here in Viridian.”

I slowly uncovered my face, turning toward her. “You never really see your dad much anymore… do you?”

She shook her head.

“Still… it’s dumb that your mom won’t tell you why all of this is happening,” I added.

“Yeah… she keeps saying that she wants me and my brother to have a better life that we couldn’t have gotten here. Or something like that… she never really explains,” Starr mumbled.
Sketchy dad in Viridian city? I'm gonna assume it's Giovanni until proven otherwise.

Starr sighed. “I don’t know, Lexx has been acting weird and not talking to me much lately,” she said with a bit of a scowl.
The two speech actions here clutter things up a bit. Maybe just, "I don't know," Starr said with a scowl. "Lexx has been acting weird lately. He doesn't talk to me much anymore."

“I didn’t want you to make a big deal out of it, okay?”

“Who says I was gonna?”

Starr laughed. “What do you think you’re doing right now?”

I opened my mouth to say something, but realized she’d got me with that, so I glared and didn’t say anything.

“Pfft, see what I mean? You’re such a little kid,” Starr said, smirking.
Hah, got a good sense of their dynamic from this.

It just sucks that I won’t be able to start my journey for three more years.
Oh wow, three year age difference? I'm surprised they're friends, honestly--I remember three years being huge at that time of life. Wish I had a bit more of a sense of how they got to know each other.

Starr was just kind of… staring into the distance, like she was thinking about something. She looked like she wanted to tell me something else, but didn’t say anything.
These two sentences describe kind of contradictory images -- "looking like you're deep in thought" vs "looking like you want to tell someone something." I think if you want both you need a bridge: "Starr was just kind of… staring into the distance, deep in thought. Then her head swung towards me and her lips opened, like there was something else she wanted to tell me, but seconds passed and she didn’t say anything."

then stood to her feet
Either "stood up" or "got to her feet" works, but "stood to her feet" ain't a thing.

“Bye.”

Just hearing that one word made me feel weirdly numb. I forced a smile—it felt fake, and I could tell from her face that she wasn’t fooled.
Major Madoka vibes.
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__q9fsZa5vk


I didn’t watch as she got in the car.
Nice ending line.

This story began with the human who rejected infinity.
It will end with the human who accepted it.
Compelling pull quote. Interested to see what meaning infinity takes on in your story.

Chapter One

This chapter starts with history repeating--another of Jade's friends is going off on a pokemon journey and leaving her behind. I wanted a bit more on how Jade has ended up in this situation of really wanting to be a trainer but failing the exam so often. I'm curious like, did she feel like she studied her best? or does she feel like she could have tried harder and is pissed at herself? What is it about pokespeech that she finds so hard? Rudy doesn't seem like the most studious type, what distinguishes him? I didn't really get a sense from this that Jade really wants to be a pokemon trainer.

You've got a super intense premise in this chapter, with the burning forest and the capture of a legend, but I found it a bit hard to get swept up in it due to the sense that it didn't feel real. Jade's progression into the forest and into the valley was a bit hard to visualize. I didn't get much of a sense of place--it felt like we floated along. Also, the whole thing with the charmander bothered me. It kind of boggles my mind that she picks up this dying, clearly in great pain pokemon, and then procedes to forget about it in favor of exposition and then just sitting down to watch the Entei capture like she's in a movie theater, while, presumably, the charmander is breathing raggedly in her arms? Stuff like that makes it hard to feel like the story is actually real--different elements of the world seem to drop out when they aren't being mentioned.

Props for jumping straight to where the story starts, though. I just wish a bit more characterization for Jade had been worked int the opening segment--she feels a bit blank to me as a protagonist right now.

Summer days were made for this—made for the blast of wind in my face and the rush of exhilaration as my bike flew down the street.
'the blast of wind' and 'the rush of exhilaration' give this sentence a bit of a clunky feel that contrasts with the feeling of racing exhileration it's trying to evoke.

“Aw yeah!” I yelled, throwing a fist towards the sky as my bike flew through the air. No matter how many times I jumped that same ramp, those precious few seconds of being airborne were the greatest thing in the world. I landed several feet away with a thud and immediately veered my handlebars to double back in a wide arc, waving toward the top of the hill.
Nice characterization moment.

Which is why I never saw it coming.

Out of nowhere, a black blur shot into the street, skidding to a halt right in front of me. I swerved instantly to avoid hitting it,
Hm, so the drama of the clipped off fragment made me think this was something serious, and so I assumed the black blur was a car. Was very confused for the next few sentences.

then I found myself toppling over into a sprawled heap on the grass.

Well, that was random. But there was really only one thing that could have done that. Sure enough, only a few seconds passed before I felt heavy paws on my chest.
Feels like a bit of overcommentary here. Do we really need, "Well, that was random."? Could just be, "then I found myself toppling over into a sprawled heap on the grass. Only a few seconds later, heavy paws pressed down on my chest."

“Oh come on,” Rudy said, looking kind of bored with my complaints after having heard them a dozen times. “I still say you should just take Swift and leave, license or no license.”
The sentence breaking the dialogue here goes on long and is a bit over-expository. Maybe shift the sense that he's heard this all before mroe into the dialoge--"Not this again," Rudy said, looking bored by my complaining.

“I’m just saying if I failed the exam twice, that’s what I’d do—just take Ebony and leave. Though it would kinda suck not getting a starter.”

“Yeah, that’s definitely the worst part about training illegally,” I said.
I like the regulatory framework here and the sense that people are aware of it. Does this restriction just apply to training? Can people travel with pokemon, just not battle officially?

He gave a few chirps, not saying anything in particular but hoping to get my attention in the smallest way possible.

“You don’t have to be so shy, Swift—you know you can come with me whenever I go for a ride,” I said, smiling and holding out my arm as the tawny bird flew over to perch on my shoulder. With that, I walked outside and mounted my bike once again, and the Pidgey took flight overhead, chirping contentedly.
Nice that she knows Swift well enough to know he wants to come along.

There was no way, but I couldn’t see any sign of him in the entire… sky. I’d just realized. The sky was empty. No birds anywhere within sight, and these fields were usually full of Spearow.
Ooh, ominous.

My eyes traced the horizon, hunting for any possible clue, when I spotted a plume of smoke within the trees to the north. What was that?

Feeling almost compelled to head that way, I turned and rode along a trail leading north—towards the forest. I reached the treeline within minutes and kept going, unsure of whether I’d be any nearer to finding Swift when I could barely see the sky anymore. Still, I kept getting a vague feeling of significance, like this was important somehow. I couldn’t explain it, and the more time passed, the more stupid I felt.
This feels pretty unconvinving to me. "a vague feeling of significance" reads to me like the author saying, 'yeah I can't think of a reason why she'd do this, but the story demands it happens." Seems like you could justify this pretty easily too--Jade looks back at an open road, sees no Swift, looks ahead at a sky obscured by trees and decides if Swift is anywhere, it's probably there.

Also, is there any reason she doesn't assume it's fire? Where there's smoke . . .

He took flight again towards the ridge north of us, and I followed in silence for several minutes. In time, the air was filled with a thick haze, and a horrible stench burned my nose. And still we continued on until we reached the edge of the destruction. One moment we were within the thick of the forest, and the next, there was nothing but the charred remains of tree trunks and blackened bits of what had once been grass and leaves. Flurries of ash saturated the air, stinging my eyes. And that noxious odor just wouldn’t go away.
The sense of the fire is strong here, but I'm a bit lost as to the distances and progression of time. Earlier it felt like the forest was pretty far away, but this only says 'a few minutes.' I also don't get a sense of the change from the normal forest to the burning forest, because the normal forest isn't really described. Feels like we go from road to burning forest.

These woods had been filled with Pokémon, all of them now dead.
Oof.

The lizard jerked suddenly upon having its skin exposed to the air, and I snapped my hand back. Okay, so trying to clean its wounds was a bad idea; what was I thinking. It wasn’t like I had any water or bandages anyway. In fact, water probably would have made things worse.
Liked the precarity of this. I wonder, though--seems a fair amount of training is required to be a pokemon trainer in this world? Are they not given any classes in dealing with injrued pokemon?

I jolted at the sudden voice. Someone else was here? I threw a glance over my shoulder and sure enough, a figure was approaching me. The smoke obscured him at first, but eventually he came into view.
This sequence feels oddly prolonged. I feel like when you hear a sudden voice, you look, rather than thinking, 'oh is someone here, guess I'll look.' Like, "I jolted at the sudden voice and looked over my shoulder to see a figure outlined in the smoke."

Somehow, his overall air was that of someone much older.
How exactly? A description is more effective when its pegged to a specific detail. Is it his posture? His eyes? His expression?

“So recently that it’s still happening,” was the only response.
Nice rejoinder.

Its face was, in short, amazing—rimmed by brightly colored crests of red along the side, blue over the muzzle, and a crown of yellow over its eyes.
The "in short" here really takes me out of the flow.

Suddenly, I heard a roar of engines to the right. A huge group of jeeps and trucks burst into the clearing, filled with countless armed adults. Entei recoiled backward, pelted by bullets—they were shooting it? The auburn beast slammed its shackled paws to the ground and let loose a wave of fire, incinerating everything within the valley. But then the flames cleared, revealing the vehicles’ protective energy shields. Around two dozen Pokémon charged forward from behind the jeeps, unleashing torrents of water at their target. Entei stood its ground with a determined glare, but I could still see it wincing in pain as steam poured off its body. I could still hear the fury in its roar as it tried to flee, gripped by the glow of something preventing its escape.
Found this a bit hard to picture. When it says "incinerating everything in the valley" is this including all the trees, vegetation too? Which is presumably still burning even after the rockets drop their shields?

Confused by the last two lines. They make is sound like Entei is simultaneously standing its ground and trying to flee?

The notorious organization that had run this region’s criminal underworld for as long as anyone could remember. But knowing anything about them—that was a different story.
The first sentence feels a little artificial. Where's Jade's knowledge of them coming from? Does she hear about Rocket activity on the radio/news her parents watch? Do people at school play games involving Rockets or have jokes or threats regarding them? How is this knowledge integrated into her life?

the only thing I could manage was, “How did you find out about this?”
Interesting that she takes him at his word.

“Giovanni?” He couldn’t mean… the Giovanni? Leader of the Viridian Pokémon Gym?

“The current boss,” he clarified.

I shook my head. “Hang on, hang on. You’re telling me those crazy rumors that he’s involved with Rockets—they’re not just true, but he’s the boss?!

He nodded.

I couldn’t help staring. “You’re serious? That’s supposed to be, like… tabloid fodder for conspiracy nuts. If it’s actually true… shouldn’t more people know?”

“You underestimate the team’s influence,” he replied with a slight laugh. “They have agents working all over. Turning him in wouldn’t do anything.”
Yeah, this is more like it! Love the idea that 'Giovanni is the boss of Team Rocket' is an established kook theory.

“We?” he said, his voice tinged with amusement. “You have a pet bird and a half-dead lizard; I’d be the one doing everything. And I know my limits. I can’t stop them alone.”
Nicely phrased.

I glanced down at the dying Charmander in my arms, feeling rather miserable about all of this. Really, why did he even bother explaining anything only to flat-out tell me I was useless?
Um. So, she has a dying charmander in her arms. Should she not perhaps be doing something about that? This makes her seem like a massive asshole with no empathy.

“What would you say,” he began slowly, with an unusual tone, “if I told you that a large-scale takeover might soon be within their grasp?”
"unusual tone" doesn't really conjur anything in my mind.

“This is your formal invitation to join a team against the Rockets,” he said, handing it to me. “I’ve been handing these out to people just starting their journey. Once you become a trainer, I want you to meet me at the location specified on the card, and I’ll tell you more.”
This seems a little silly, but okay.

Shiny, flaming orange-colored scales covered most of its thickly muscled body, save for a massive pair of blue wings.
Huh, this threw me--not used to thinking of Charizard's wings as blue? I guess the undersides are.

If you are serious about joining a rebellion against the Rockets,
'Rebellion' is really odd wording--the Rockets aren't currently in charge, so how can they be rebelled against?

With a sigh, I sat down and continued to watch.
What about the, ya know, dying charmander??

Chapter Two

Zero to one hundred here! I really like the insights we're getting into Team Rocket's internal politics and dynamics. The experimental pokemon are interesting too--if the pikachu was mixed with Zapdos, does that mean they've captured Zapdos already? I wonder if powering up normal pokemon through mixing with legendaries is a key part of their plan or just something they do on the side, for fun. I liked the role Swift--never underestimate a determined pidgey!

I did find that the tonal dissonance in this chapter made it hard for me to be invested. Jade's reactions are really out-of-wack with what it seems like a person would feel in this situation--feels a bit like she's not a real person, but someone cosplaying a Plucky Kid. And then once Rudy and Spencer show up, I feel like we drift into cartoon world where fighting the baddies is a fun and risk-free activity. There's nothing wrong with that, but it clashes with other places in the story that have felt like they are aiming for a serious tone, and it makes it hard for those serious moments of danger to land.

I could feel my heart pounding and my lungs burning as I choked on ash, but the sudden burst of fear kept me running onward.
Maybe, "My heart pounded and my lungs burned as I ran, but fear pushed me forward."

probably more experienced too, judging by a number of badges pinned to his vest.
Is this a thing? Seems odd for a Team Rocket member to be endorsing the current system by wearing badges.

For some reason, my brain finally registered that my arms felt warm. Right, I was still holding the wounded Charmander. It was still unconscious, but also still alive.
um. She's been lugging this charmander around for how long now??

Swift was still flapping his wings quickly to follow the jeep, struggling to keep up—it was almost a painful sight. Upon seeing that I was watching him, he soared downward to fly alongside the window, his eyes meeting mine.
Swift!! Brave bird!

one of the Rockets pulled out a small handgun and began shooting at Swift. But then just as quickly, the driver held a hand up to stop him.

“Don’t waste your bullets on a Pidgey,” he said.
It's always tricky in pokemon how to balance power levels and relative threat when guns are involved. I like how you establish that guns are higher threat level than pidgey at least, here.

And then, amazingly, the ground starting to sink, revealing a wide ramp that descended into darkness.


Well, not quite alone—the Charmander was still here, after all. I looked down at where I had set it. A tiny flare flickered at the end of its tail, so it was still alive, at least. It probably wouldn’t survive much longer though. That fact made the already bleak situation feel even more crushing.
Didn't seem to bother her earlier, when she could have tried to leave the forest and help it?

If they were arguing, then this would probably be a chance to find out more about my situation, at the very least. Acting more on impulse than anything, I threw myself over the back seats so I could open the back door a crack and hear them.
Hm, it's hard to buy her being freaked out when she does something like this. She seems pretty unfazed here.

“I heard he was a part of the revolt.”

Yet another pause. This time the other Rocket seemed at least slightly intrigued. “So he might know more about us than we figured. But how many others left us that day? Have any of them accomplished much? I don’t see how this is any—”
ooh, so we've got internal rebellion and ex-Rockets leading the movement. Interesting.

the Johto combat unit showed up,” Tyson reported while his superior made an exaggerated sound of disgust. “They took control of the situation, and of course one of their agents was the one who threw the ball that caught Entei. Only now he’s refusing to hand over; he’s waiting for orders from the Johto commander.”
And Rocket internal political conflicts!! Loving the Rocket worldbuilding via dialogue so far.

I racked my brain for something to do—some sort of resistance to show that I wasn’t just some helpless kid. I couldn’t think of anything.
This really gives me Plucky Kid TM vibes. Seems like one of those things people do all the time in anime, but not actually.

“That thing isn’t dead?” Tyson said, raising an eyebrow. “I don’t know… we’ve got tons of Pokéballs—I’ll have someone else put it with the stolen Pokémon.”
At this moment, I feel like Tyson had been more considerate towards the charmander than Jade has. Surprised he's not advocating just letting it die.

I felt like kicking myself when he pulled out the wad of cash I had stuffed in there. It was my birthday savings, which I’d intended to use on a training journey someday, though I had never quite figured out how exactly.
Really like this detail. Sometimes it's the small things that hit hardest.

I was alone. For how long, I had no idea. I couldn’t see my watch. I had no way of knowing how long I spent in that cell with the only sound being the occasional clunk of more cargo being loaded onto the plane.
This paragraph is a bit repetitive. Maybe, "I was alone. For how long, I had no idea. I couldn’t see my watch. The only sound was the occasional clunk of more cargo being loaded onto the plane."

“How did you get here?” I asked, completely floored.

He groaned slightly, putting a hand to his face. “Well, Spencer needed to find his Pokémon first, and luckily it was the same place they’d taken you, so we snuck on board and then we came here for you.”

I would have clapped a hand to my forehead if it hadn’t been chained up. “Okay, just… what? That doesn’t answer my—how about you actually start at the beginning? How did you know I was here?”

“Alright, alright,” Rudy said impatiently, as though details like that didn’t matter and he wanted to get them out of the way as quickly as possible. “It’s because of Swift. I’d walked to your house to show off my license, and I saw him pecking the windows in a fuss, and—what’s with that look?!” My jaw had dropped upon hearing the word “license.”

“You got a license. Already?!”

“Oh, come on. Enough questions already,” he said, waving a hand aside. He wasn’t totally paying attention, though, and was now preoccupied with staring at the ongoing blaze. The heat was getting a bit overwhelming.
Getting some tone dissonance here.

Also, the tyflosion is still heating the metal?? I don't know much about chains, but I do cook, and metal conducts heat super well. I feel like Jade would be screaming in pain here. If part of your world-building is humans being super resilient, some slightly more obvious hints would be helpful.

I didn’t really mind—just being free was enough. Really, just them being there was enough to make the entire situation feel better somehow. I wasn’t alone in this; with three of us there was no way we wouldn’t find some way out.

“So…” I said turning towards Rudy. “Am I even gonna get the full story as to how you got here? And how the heck do you already have a license for that matter?”
This feels kind of ridiculous. Even with renforcements, she's been kidnapped and is on a plane surrounded by rockets. Is it really the time for storytime?

“Oh, er… right. See, my dad got home right after you left. He would’ve been upset with me for not finishing my chores, except my test results had come in the mail and I passed everything,” Rudy said, beaming. “So, my dad took me to the place and he signed the form and I got my license and a Pokémon and everything.” He stopped there, but then realized that I was looking at him expectantly, wanting to hear the actually important part of the story. “But yeah, uh, I went over to your house, and no one was home, and Swift was flying around like crazy. From what little I could make out, he was saying you were in trouble? So I followed him out into the forest and that’s when I ran into Spencer here.”
This thing with the license seems overly convoluded. Couldn't Rudy have just already gotten it and that was the bombshell he dropped in their biking convo? And then there wouldn't be need for this explanation that really doesn't matter, but disrupts the tone.

“Alright. You fix your Charmander
Oof, cold.

“It was half-dead when I found it. I’ve gotta like… find some healing items or something.” I turned to gaze vaguely around all the supply boxes in the cargo hold.
Another place where I wonder what gets covered in trainer prep. I'd assume healing items qualify?

Could it even understand me? As a wild Pokémon, it might never have heard human speech before.
Is pokespeech justabout hearing? Or can people learn to speak it back?

“Not injuries. Energy.”

“Oh right… uh, I think it’s called Elixir? Never used one before—not a lot of stores carry ‘em.”

I dug through the box some more. “Got it,” I said, pulling out a yellow bottle labeled “Max Elixir.” I flipped the cap open and poured a small amount into the fire-type’s mouth. Within seconds, the tiny flare on its tail burst into full flame. Slowly, it opened its bright blue eyes and stumbled to its feet.
Oof, so Elixier's are like adrenaline shots?

After having gotten over his initial shock, Firestorm was calmly glancing around at his surrounding, seemingly unconcerned with having been taken from his home and not even very curious about his situation.
That seems odd and a little worrying.

“I’m just looking,” Rudy countered. “I’m not gonna let them out. Huh… these are weird looking, aren’t they?” He pulled one of the black spheres out of its holder and rotated it in his palm.
Hah, believable behavior for the age group.

The three of us whirled around in a panic, all eyes falling on the Pokémon that had appeared behind us. A jagged, lightning bolt-shaped tail twitched. Four paws slowly lifted a small, golden-furred mouse off the floor. No… it couldn’t be…

“It’s… it’s a Pikachu?” Spencer blurted out, stifling a laugh. “A Pikachu?

Except something looked… off about it. It was missing the familiar red cheek markings. And… the fur on its head was long and stiffly pointed, almost like feathers. And then its eyes snapped open, revealing a pair of piercing, birdlike eyes.
Ooh, bird!pika. Nice description here--I can picture what's off about it from the standard pika image.

My face fell with dread.

. . .

I gaped in horror—what were we supposed to do now?
The fic feels like it's swinging between these generalized expressions of intense emotion and dialogue that reveals a lack of concern. It's a bit jarring.

“WHAT. THE. EVER. LIVING. HELL?!!

My stomach sank even lower as I turned to see an extremely pissed-off Tyson standing in the doorway to the cargo area, his jaw hanging open from shock.

“Uhh, hey…” Spencer said awkwardly. “Could you leave for a bit? We kind of have a situation here.”
The three of us couldn’t do anything but sit there, frozen in horror as the blade-armed nightmare shot toward us, too fast to even see.
Bit of a 180 from comedic to life-or-death, in a way that doesn't feel integrated.

Chapter Three

This chapter was battle, battle, battle! I liked how the experimental pikachu acts as this rogue element in the fight, where nobody is quite sure what he's going to do. Jade's relegated to something of a passive narrator in this--there's quite a lot of staring openmouthed. Despite all the attacks flying around, I never quite felt a sense of tension or physical danger, maybe because Spencer doesn't seem very concerned, and Jade seems more overwhelmed than frightened. I don't really know these characters well enough to be independently attached to them, and Jade doesn't seem that concerned in her internal narration, so the battle sequence dragged on a bit, since the only thing at stake is really 'will they die' and I know they won't. I can see how you're in a pickle with this--you need Jade to not be able to do anything here so she can be upset about not being able to do anything later, but having a passive narrator in an action chapter is tricky.

Both combatants raced around with such blazing speed, narrowly avoiding the other, that it was almost impossible to follow the action.
The interjection "narrowly avoiding the other" clutters the sentence and is already implied. Also, "the action" gives me the feeling of a sports match being spectacted, rather than a life-or-death situation.

And then all of a sudden, I felt a tug on my leg and glanced down to see Firestorm standing alongside me. A twinge of guilt hit me—I had forgotten he was even here.
Yes, that seems to be a theme for her . . .

A twinge of guilt hit me—I had forgotten he was even here.

“Yeah? What is it?” I asked him

He didn’t seem to know how to say it. He kept glancing up at me, then toward the raging battle. I couldn’t help noticing the conviction in his eyes.

“What, you want to help? No, no no no, that’s not—I mean, it’s great if you want to help and all, but that’s a bad idea, trust me. You wouldn’t stand a… well, they’re too strong; I don’t think we should get in their way.”

Firestorm turned away, nodding distantly. So now even he wanted to help in some small way. I wasn’t the only useless one here, but I was the only one who had just given up on being able to do anything. That realization was aggravating.
Found this interaction a little odd. Feels pretty obvious Firestorm would be outmatched, but it he really wants to fight, why doesn't he jump in? Why ask Jade? Actually, that could be a place for Jade to do something? See that Firestorm is going to try and join the fray and taking the initiative to stop him.

It was a strange contrast to its appearance just minutes earlier, and I couldn’t help feeling a sudden twinge of pity. It had been raised as a lab specimen before finally being branded as a failure. Was this mad blitz just out of trying to get free?
Nice to see a moment of empathy!

The Pikachu let out a cry and sent waves of electricity flying all around—it didn’t seem to appreciate the other experiments’ arrival. Seizing the chance, Razors streaked toward it, blades flashing—but then Typhlosion took the opportunity to fire another spurt of flames at Razors. The Scyther stopped just short of slicing the Pikachu to attempt to avoid the Flamethrower. But that left it wide open. The Pikachu turned and refocused its attention on Razors and finally struck the Scyther with all its power. An overwhelming rush of fire and lightning collided against each other, with Razors caught right in the middle.
This paragraph has a lot of actions happening, but less of a sense of how those actions are related causaly. In the first sentence, for example, we get the justification for why the pikachu acts the way it does after it happens, which disrupts the flow. The repeated "buts" make it sound like the narrative is lagging, rather than things happening simultaneously and in response to other things. I'm not the best at describing, but hopefully this rewritten paragraph conveys a bit what I mean about actions happening in response to other actions.

"The pikachu didn't seem to appreciate the other experiment's arrival. It let out a cry, and the air filled with rippling electricity. At once, Razor shot forward, blades flashing. He was feet away from the pikachu when a stream of fire erupted from the tyflosion, forcing him to swerve. The pikachu turned with a glare and launched a concentrated bolt of lighting, just as the tyflosion fired another spurt of flame. The fire and lightning collided in a blinding burst, with Razors caught right in the middle."

“Nah, Typhlosion is the one made of hot stuff.” How Spencer managed to keep a straight face on that comeback was beyond me.

“What the hell are you even doing here?!” Tyson roared. “I don’t have to take this crap from some random-ass kid!”
“He shot at me?” Spencer blurted out, picking himself up from the floor, completely stunned. I couldn’t do anything but stare back. “He actually shot at me. I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but… yeah, I… I wasn’t ready for that.
The feels like it's seesawing between an anime banter vibe and a 'shit is real' vibe.

They were eerily blank and soulless, almost like there was nothing there. And thinking back—I could’ve sworn that the Scyther had the exact same mindless look. What was the deal with these Pokémon?
Huh, some kind of mind-control?

“Isn’t Surf a locked move? Like, you can only use it if you’ve registered a certain number of badges?” I wasn’t really sure of it myself, but it sounded right, in any case.
Game logic like this feels a bit out of place. What does that mean? How is it enforced?

And then all I could do was stare dumbfounded as Typhlosion leapt out of nowhere and grabbed Tyson in a bear hug, knocking the gun aside.

“What? Just… what?” I said stupidly.
This felt more random than climactic.

Swift had been with my family since before I’d learned any Pokéspeech, so I’d gotten used to him being more of a pet than someone to talk with. And, well, he’d never been one to talk much anyway.
Huh, do her parents not know any pokespeech? Are there different standards for being allowed to own a 'pet' pokemon? If it's considered important for trainers to be able to communicate with their pokemon, why isn't that considered important in other contexts? And if pokespeech was Jade's biggest hurdle and a pokemon lived right at her house, wasn't that sort of free practice?

Firestorm looked a bit puzzled at first. “*Catch? Humans can… catch Legendaries? Just like Pokémon?*”

To be honest, it was not something that had really crossed my mind before this point either. Sure, every school-age kid in the world had their dream team complete with their favorite legend, but that wasn’t something that could ever actually happen. And yet… it had happened. And it would probably happen again, unless…
That's interesting. So Jade and her classmates, at least, don't view legendaries as distinct from other pokemon? Clearly Firestorm sees a fundamental difference.

*Legendaries shouldn’t be captured,*” the Pidgey replied simply. I couldn’t help staring—where had he gotten that opinion from? The topic of Legendaries had never really come up in my house, barring that two-month-or-so period I wouldn’t shut up after reading about them in social studies.
Love how adament Swift is here.

Jade's thoughts have the odd implication that she thinks Swift couldn't have formed an opinion unless it was mentioned in the house?

It was more of an impulse than anything—I didn’t even know why I was doing it.
Hm, this sort of thing stretches suspension of disbelief, making characters just feel like plot avatars, and it's already happened before, when she went into the forest.

She had a hardened and mature look about her features, which almost made me forget that she was probably younger than most of the other Rockets there. Somehow, before she’d even done anything, she just felt more dangerous than the rest.
Just saying a character "felt" more dangerous than the rest is a bit unconvincing. Something like [She had sounded like a highschooler, but there was a hardness in her eyes that didn't match her voice. Somehow, the incongruity made her feel dangerous] still communicates that Jade isn't quite sure why she's getting the danger vibe, but grounds it in something concrete. Subjective doesn't have to mean vague.

“I don’t even know why you still bother training them after all the progress that your division’s made on number thirty-six.”

“Better than using regular Pokémon,” Tyson shot back. “And I think you’re forgetting that it’s what I was assigned to do. Of course, you wouldn’t know what that’s like because the second you joined you were—”

“Still going on with that crap about how I was always an executive, is that it? I think you should watch what you say there Tyson, unless you feel secure enough in your position to pick fights with me.” Tyson flinched and didn’t say anything more.
So the hierarchy seems very important, but exceptionally skilled people seem able to leapfrog into high position.

“Electabuzz, keep them from getting close with non-stop Thunderbolts. Dewgong, use Brine; Pidgeot, Air Slash; Mightyena, Dark Pulse!”

All of his Pokémon got into position upon hearing the commands,
The list of commands doesn't do much; you could probably just say he shouted commands to his pokemon.

Can’t we just fly out of here?!” I exclaimed, pointing at the massive tawny eagle taking flight.

Spencer paused, smiling weakly. “It’s cool that you think he’s that hardcore, but… yeah, no way can he pull off carrying all three of us.”
Hah, I liked this moment of realism.

At the bottom of the hill, a Raichu stood, clearly smirking, with sparks still leaping off its yellow cheeks. It swished a long, inky-black tail before dashing forward into the fray.

Spencer was staring wide-eyed at what had just happened, his mouth agape. Slowly, he reached down to his Pokéball belt and recalled Pidgeot in a beam of red light. In that one moment, the real weight of the situation crashed down on me like a bucket of cold water—it had felt like we had a fighting chance to get out of here, but… we really didn’t, did we?

“Yeah, that would have been us if we’d tried flying away,” Rudy pointed out. No one said anything as the implications of what he’d said sunk in.
Oof, that poor pidgeot. So is the implication here that they would have been killed, or just badly injured?

Chapter Four

Chibi's shaping up to be an interesting character. You do a good job describing his emotions and how those emotions manifest in his battling. The moment where he proposes his plan was really strong. My suspension of disbelief was a bit stretched by the teaching of the TMs during the battle, but I liked the ultimate disastrous effect. I was surprised by how badass Jade's friend is! I guess three years is a long time. Jade's really behind her peers here. It will be interesting to see what role she can play in light of that, though I suspect crazy hybrid pokemon and legendaries can even the playing field. I'm sorry I don't have as much to much to say about this chapter--the long stretch of battling was a bit fatiguing, and by the time they were doing the detour back into the helicopter to heal their pokemon for several minutes to fly away, I was wondering if things couldn't be condensed a bit.

I let out a breath that I didn’t know I’d been holding.
@ Persephone ;)

Would you be willing to learn it to help us fight them?” I was trying not to sound too forceful, even though we couldn’t afford for him to say no.

Firestorm nodded almost immediately. I blinked, surprised at how willing he was to fight. Did he realize what kind of dangers this would involve?
Jade isn't aware of the risks of TMs here, right? So why does she think Firestorm would be any less aware of the danger than she is? Aren't they both spectating the same fight?

After nearly a minute, the disc slowed; I pulled it away, but he still had a blank stare on his face.
Uh oh, that sounds like Tyson's pokemon earlier.

At once, he spewed out a column of raging flames, sending his small figure reeling backwards from the force. With a roar, the blazing stream of fire split off into five branches, twisting off wildly in different directions.

I stood frozen. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Firestorm’s eyes went wide, and he jerked his head, trying desperately to control the blaze, though nothing he did seemed to make any difference. Flames pouring relentlessly from his mouth, even when he tried to force it shut.
This was a strong scene. The image is really vivid and frightening. Almost a kind of body horror to it.

“Using a TM just gives a Pokémon the ability to do the move. They’re not suddenly gonna be an expert at it without any practice. That goes double for the uber ones that’re hard to control,” Spencer explained while directing his Pokémon back into battle position.
The exposition feels a little leisurely here for the middle of a life or death battle.

Swift, who was standing next to him, looked almost embarrassed at being unable to help.
Similarly, embarrassed doesn't sound like an emotion that matches the intensity of the situation. Is Jade also embarrassed at not being able to help? Isn't she more frustrated and terrified?

You… how… how are you here? I haven’t seen you in… over a year, at least. Not since you left to train in Johto.”
It's a small world ;)

Ajia turned sharply to face the battlefield, already pulling out several Pokéballs and quickly taking in the details of the battle with an expression that had shifted into intense determination.
This seems unecessarily wordy.

“She still hasn’t evolved?” I asked, watching the nimble rodent skillfully ducking under her opponents and letting loose small jolts of electricity at them.

“She didn’t want to,” Ajia replied, shrugging in a way that seemed to imply that she didn’t mind. “We’ve focused all our training on getting around it.”
Nice!

I stared, chills running down my spine. Everything that she’d said was starting to come together. “Ajia, you’ve… have you fought Rockets before?”
I'm a little unsure why this particular revelation is the most stunning in this whole situation.

“*I know how.*”

The sudden voice in Pokéspeech caught me off guard, and I whirled around to see the experimental Pikachu finally pulling himself to his feet. He swayed a bit but fixed his eyes on us intensely.
Ooh, dramatic.

He paused heavily. And then, for the first time I’d seen, he managed to wrench his face into something other than pain or rage: an ironic smile. “*Most Pokémon can’t drain their whole power supply into one move. It’s not natural. Their bodies aren’t designed to handle it. But me? I have a hard time not doing that.*” His words were slow and strained.
This moment landed strongly. You know without him having to say how painful that's going to be for him. And I like his sense of irony that his unnaturalness is going to be an asset.

The orange rodent tried to make a break for it, but was hilariously unprepared for the barrage of attacks now honing in on him, despite his best attempts at evasion.
Huh, "hilariously" felt like a weird adverb here.


Chapter Five

I enjoyed Jade's uneasy relationship with Chibi in this one. I wish we learned a bit more about what it means to be an unregistered trainer. She can't use pokemon centers, but can she purchase pokemon supplies? Can she battle? What are the consequences if she's caught? I would have liked to get more of a sense of how she's spending that time. Three weeks is a pretty long period to sit on a life-changing decision without much happening. It's one thing to make a decision in the aftermath of a lot of shock and adrenaline; it's another to sit around contemplating that you're planning to join a random group to fight Team Rocket. I'm also a bit surprised we don't see her trying to verify anything she's been told--even a line about her ducking into stores to watch the news/buying newspapers to see if they mention anything about Entei's capture or Team Rocket would give me a sense of time passing and her interest. Maybe seeing no mention of these events reinforces her decision, because if no one else seems to know anything, it's down to me. I'd also like to see some reflection on why she's not going to authority figures about any of this. Like, she saw Team Rocket capture Entei. Does she really not think this is a thing that the world should be aware of? Why not report any of this to the police? If she's worried that it will get in the way of her ability to join her vigilante group, why does she think her joinng this group is better for the world than people with actual resources trying to do something? From what Stalker told her, I can definitely see where she might draw the conclusion that authority figures are not to be trusted on this, but I feel like that's something I'd want to see her work through, not have the narrative assume. This is the first time Jade's lived away from home on her own, right? It feels like an opportunity to give her some characterization. What does she miss from home? What does she not miss? Is she keeping in touch with Rudy? What's he doing? She's got Ajia's phone number now--why not call her, get the explanation she didn't get earlier? I'm normally a big advocate of timeskips, but when the thing we're timeskipping is a period of introspection after life-changing events, and what we're skipping to is more action, for the sake of characterization I want to understand why the character is choosing this and what that choice looks like, before the battling starts.

I hadn’t moved from the spot I’d collapsed onto after sliding down Aerodactyl’s back, utterly numb. It would have been nice to just lie there with the wind rustling the leaves and watch the sky slowly melt into red as the day drew to a close.
Nice beat of much-needed aftermath.

looked down to see a blue psychic aura surrounding the shackles that were still clasped around my wrists and ankles, causing them to snap open suddenly. I had stopped noticing that they were there, what with all the fear and adrenaline that had been flooding my system all day.
Really? That's a little hard to swallow. I feel like it could have been a good reocurring physical detail during the battle, even a chance at a metaphor about how even though she's technically not shackled, she's a prisoner since she's helpless in the fight. Having her completely forget about the shackles feels a bit like her and the charmander earlier--detracts from my sense that this is a real, physical world.

I couldn’t have done anything. It was the same way with the Rocket situation we had just been in. In both cases, I’d been powerless.

“What would you have done in that situation?” I found myself asking, not entirely sure why.

“What? That’s—what kind of question is that?”

I sighed. “Never mind. It was stupid, forget it.”
Sensing this will be a theme.

Ajia chuckled slightly. “Okay, okay, I already knew you were in trouble. I heard about the situation from a friend. It’s kind of a long story, though.”

I raised an eyebrow. “We’ve got time. And does this have anything to do with the fact that you’ve fought Rockets before?”
Huh, but she never explains this? Even if Jade doesn't press in the moment, I'm surprised that she doesn't call Ajia during the month she's hanging around doing nothing. They're friends, right? Wouldn't she want to catch up?

After the events of today, the idea of returning home like nothing had ever happened felt… strange.
Could use a little more here--maybe her imaging what going home would look like? Brushing her teeth, going to school the next morning, sitting trapped in class wondering what was happening to the legendary pokemon?

One thought was stuck in my mind: I hadn’t been able to do anything, either to help myself or anyone else, all day. Sure, maybe I was too weak to do anything about Team Rocket’s Legendary catching now. But wasn’t that what the Charizard trainer was aiming to change? How could I go home and do nothing after knowing what he had told me about Team Rocket catching Legendaries and seeing proof of it right before me? It was stupid, but I couldn’t help feeling that I’d met him for a reason… and that I needed to take that opportunity.
I'm curious what Team Rocket catching legendaries means to Jade. It seems like before this, she hasn't thought much about legendaries. So is it how Swift and the charmander felt about it that's influencing her? Or what she witnessed in the forest?

I didn’t say anything for several seconds. Then: “Rudy, tell my mom I’m leaving on a training journey.”
Why can't Jade tell her mom herself?

I’d have to tell him what had happened eventually… and attempt to apologize for taking him here without his consent. No sense putting it off. A flash of white light formed into the flame-tailed lizard, who glanced around, looking puzzled.

“*Are we safe now?*” he asked.

I nodded. “We’re far from your old home, though. I’m not sure what you want to do, but—”

He cut me off: “*I don’t get it. Aren’t you my trainer now?*”
Well, that's convenient. Getting the sense he's had trainers before, and is perhaps desensitized to having no control over his circumstances? It was a bit odd that this is presented as Jade forgetting she had him with her, when earlier in the conversation she considers the irony of her ending up with a charmander when Rudy got stuck with a squirtle.

It was a good thing TMs were so valuable; I’d held onto to the Fire Blast TM after I made the connection that Series 5 discs were the reusable ones. Pawning it off the second I got to Vermilion had managed to land me 20,000 pyen—probably far less than it was actually worth, but I was far too desperate to care. I had spent well over half of it within my first two days in Vermilion, but hopefully I wouldn’t need to buy anything more than food for the remainder of my time here.
Ah, clever way to refresh Jade's lost cash. I'm a bit curious about the pawning--has she done something like that before? How sketch was it? I imagine a Team Rocket TM might be of dubious origin.

“*Well alright… then couldn’t you talk with Swift?*” he asked.

Rubbing the back of my head, I answered, “Er, not really…” Swift had never exactly been one to talk very much. Upon noticing his name come up, the Pidgey turned away shyly.
It doesn't really seem like Jade has tried to talk with Swift? He clearly is fond of her to have risked his life to help her, and clearly has opinions she didn't know about previously, so why not try?

How could a tiny handful of syllables make up every word in an entire language? How could every Pokémon species use an entirely different syllable set to make the exact same words? ‘Char’ alone could mean a dozen different things. But eventually they’d trained us to ignore the sound itself, and notice only the way it was said. I’d been awful at it for the longest time. Even fumbling through slow and awkward conversations with Firestorm would have been completely unthinkable a year ago.
I like Pokemon speech as a tonal language, though I feel like physiological differences would make it impossible for all pokemon to use exactly the same tonal variations.

“You know, I heard when you snuck into the tent last night to steal food. You could have just asked.”

Not a word. Not even a look. His spiky fur stood on end as he leaped forward and tail slammed the dead remains of a tree, unleashing a wave of electricity from the impact and scorching the trunk even more than it was before.

“Seriously, I know I’m not your trainer but could you at least give me a reason you haven’t left yet? I have no idea what to think about you!”

The rodent’s breathing was starting to grow heavier from the intense training. With each wave of sparks that leaped off his fur, he let off a narrow string of lightning straight along the ground. Compared to his previous moves, this was a lot more precise and controlled.

“You know, in a few weeks, I’m gonna be leaving to join a group fighting the Rockets! Are you going to follow me then too?”
Chibi's concentration on his training and refusal to speak characterize him well.

Three more weeks in Vermilion…
That's a lot of time to wait around! Seems like she could have gone home first and gotten some spare clothes . . .

My footsteps dragged as I walked down the boardwalk for what felt like the hundredth time. I paused to lean against the railing and pulled out the card I had been given, reading it over for what must have been the thousandth time.
This might be a bit more vivid if you described that card as been worn thin by her handling it, or described how she recognizes familiar boats on the boardwalk because she's been here so many times.

“You said you were recruiting beginning trainers,” I said. “Why? Why not more experienced ones that would have a better chance when fighting Team Rocket?” I couldn’t help thinking back to the way Ajia had battled.

He paused, mulling the question over. “I suppose I just preferred having a blank slate to work with. I want to be able to train you all from the start in the battle style that will be most useful for our missions. As opposed to forcing an experienced to trainer to relearn everything.” That didn’t fully make sense to me. But before I could say anything, he asked, “Have you caught any more Pokémon?”
Doesn't make sense to me either, but I won't question the premise.

“I suppose you guys will need something to call me…” He turned away, and the last thing he said before taking to the air was, “Stalker.”
My mental image right now:


Chapter Five - Phonecall

Not sure why you cut this moment from the main chapter! It's the first place I feel like I'm getting a sense of who Jade is and what she wants, outside of her reacting to events. Having this in chapter five would be really appropriate, since it's a chapter dealing with aftermath and set-up. If this phonecall hadn't been included at all, I would have been really taken aback at the complete break Jade's making from her past life and wonder how bad her relationship with her family was.

“You know, I don’t think I’ve ever heard you so serious about anything in your life.”

Of course I was serious about it. I’d wanted this ever since Starr left. Wanted it even more when Ajia left. With each passing month, the odds of being able to go on a journey felt more and more distant. And now, with the opportunity to join the anti-Rocket team handed to me on a silver platter, I could actually learn from a master trainer, and have the chance to put those skills to use actually helping save Legendary Pokémon. I could stop wasting my time at home and actually make a difference in the world.
Nice to see what's driving her. I wish more of this had come through in the opening chapters--I didn't get the sense that Jade was too bothered about not being able to become a trainer. She seemed more upset at the fact she'd have less friends around than the trainer part. Her mom's confusion here also supports that she wasn't really doing all she could to reach that goal. That feels like something interesting to tease out--what caused the gap between wanting and doing?


Chapter Six

Team Rocket infiltration of a cruise ship? Where have I heard that one before? Seems like Team Rocket's prepared to invest a lot in capturing Stalker, and also pretty clear that don't know much about him, considering he was able to flounce around the harbor last chapter without being spotted. The eavesdropped conversations were interesting--seems like dissent's been formenting within the team for awhile.

I found Chibi and Jade's relationship to be a little puzzling in this chapter. Time and time again, we get the impression that Jade is scared of Chibi, afraid to interact with him, etc, but there are also moments where she refers to him as her responsibility and her pikachu. Does she want him around, or not? Obviously once things start heating up, there's not much choice, but it would have been nice to see more interrogation of whether she wants him to be there or not earlier. Like, what if she told Chibi not to come with her, but when she gets on the ship, she realizes he's sneaked on--flash of yellow at the corner of her eye, oh shit? Then she'd have to make the choice to try to ignore it, or go after him. A scenario like that would make Jade a bit more of an active character, though still being forced forward by events outside her control, and would avoid this issue that a lot of time has passed with Jade unable to even talk to Chibi.

This chapter seems to be working to establish that things really are going to be life and death, through the scene where Chibi electrocutes and threatens the Rocket. In this scene, Jade felt kind of removed to me as a narrator, and so the scene and its brutality didn't have as much impact as I might have expected--I think the lack of concrete details might be one place that could change. When Chibi has his tail up against this man's face, threatening him, what does his face look like? That's the kind of detail I'd expect a first-person POV narrator to fixate on, because how could you not? We're told he has a look of terror, and is sweating, but it's all very general. Maybe she notices that his eyes are a surprising shade of green. Maybe he's got the beginings of a beard. Maybe one of his ears is pierced, and the earing is shaped like a pokeball. As is, I'm just left with the sense of 'uniform Rocket Grunt', not person, and so the stake-setting of human life being in play here is diminished. In turn, that makes the threat to Jade feel less imminent and real.

The S.S. Anne was huge. It towered over nearly everything else around it, which was saying something, as the rest of the cargo ships that frequented Vermilion harbor were the biggest I had ever seen. (Not that I’d ever been to a port town this large before, but still.)
The structure of this paragraph kind of ends up deflating the impact of the SS Anne being big. It would hit harder if you started with the cargo ships being big, and then had the SS Anne come in and dwarf them eg "The cargo ships that frequented Vermilion harbor were the biggest I had ever seen. But the S.S. Anne made them look like toy boats."

who stood at my heels with an indifferent sort of expression like he was trying to pretend he wasn’t following me, even though he clearly wasn’t here with anyone else.
Nice characterization of Chibi. Evokes a clear image.

I was kind of afraid to question him at this point, as I couldn’t afford any unpredictable reactions with all these people surrounding us. Honestly, I didn’t even know if someone stepping on his tail would be enough to send him into a violent rage. It was a valid concern given how often people were shuffled between lines, getting bags checked and Pokémon registered and ID cleared and—oh crap.
It's weird to me that Jade hasn't broached this in the vast free time leading up to this moment. What's she be doing instead? Having a time gap where nothing really seems to progress makes it feel like the world's been on hold.

The expression of dread covering my face must have looked ridiculous as my legs slowly carried me to the check-in booth without me telling them to.
The "as" conjoiner doesn't quite work--suggests a perplexing relationship between the dread and the legs. I think splitting this up would work better, [To anyone watching, the dread on my face probably looked ridiculous. My legs seemed to move without me telling them to. One step, then another, and I was at the check-in booth.]

The people in this line were almost all my age or younger, which felt extremely odd. What were a bunch of kids like us even doing boarding a cruise ship, as if we were old enough to do things like that. But then… trainers were able to travel the region with only their Pokémon by their side, so I guess it wasn’t that weird.
And--she knows this is a meeting site for recruits who are all going to be fresh trainers. So, not odd for that reason, as well?

He gave me a bit of an inscrutable expression, like he was trying to figure something out.
Hm, think you need to pick one or the other here. If it's inscrutable, it doesn't look like he's trying to figure something out.

“This ship is specially designed to accommodate and entertain Pokémon trainers, and as such, has a comparatively lax policy regarding Pokémon on the ship. However, there are still rules that must be obeyed at all times. No more than two Pokémon per trainer may be out of their Pokéballs at any given time. Pokémon taller than 6’5” or weighing in excess of 500 lbs. should only be released on the upper deck in the training grounds and battlefield C. Please ensure that your Pokémon stay by your side at all times, except in the training grounds where it is specifically permitted otherwise.”
I like the regulations! Nice dose of realism. Though 500 pounds sounds high for the limit!

This never would have happened if I’d just told him to go be free in the wild. I’d been afraid to say it the whole time. But did I even have a reason to be so afraid? He hadn’t attacked me or anything yet. I just didn’t know.
This feels a bit frustrating. An example of her suggesting he leave and it not working/back-firing would help explain why she hasn't done anything further.

And yeah, I’d been most worried about him being around people, but a sudden gut feeling told me that I should be searching the empty areas. I couldn’t explain why.
This seems to really lampshade that Jade has no reason to think this. I'd recommend giving some indication of her reasoning. It doesn't seem like that would be too hard--she's spent a lot of time searching the crowded areas, sees an empty corridor, why not give it a try? But phrases like "a sudden gut feeling" and "I couldn't explain why" sound like the story turning to the audience and saying, 'I can't justify this, but just go along with it.'

Finally—without looking at me—he said, “*I didn’t give you a reason for staying with you because I hadn’t decided why myself.*” His words were very slow and meticulous. “*I don’t owe you an explanation. So don’t treat me like some kind of mindless raging beast.*”

I blinked. I guess he did have a point, in a weird sort of way. Why did I deserve an explana—no. I shook my head. No, I had to be firm on this. Even though I was already starting to question why.

“I won’t treat you like that if you give me a reason why I shouldn’t. If you’re going to be staying with me, then I want a reason.”

Again, he spoke incredibly slowly, with a deliberate emphasis on each word: “*You’re not in control of me. Why should my actions concern you?*”

“If you’re with me, then I’m responsible for you, that’s why. I know I’m not in control of you. Why on earth would I think that?”

At that point, he finally spun around to face me, staring with an expression I couldn’t read. I had no idea how he felt about my words until he said, “*You’re… strange.*” I stared blankly. His piercing, hawk-like eyes stared back. I was just about to come up with a response when he continued, “*Or maybe I just need to learn more about humans. You’re not all the same.*”
I found this discussion a bit odd. Jade is entitled to an explanation, because staying with someone isn't a unilateral decision. His actions concern her, because he's the one insisting on staying with her, and potentially endangering her. It doesn't make Jade responsible for him or in control of him, but it does mean he owes her some communication.

“*And I do have a name. I only ever used it with… But that doesn’t matter now… Call me Chibi.*”
Hm, sounds like Chibi might have had a trainer, before being labeled a failed experiment? Or pre-experiment, even?

You should’ve seen it—the head executives were freaking out when they heard that the guy organizing this was going around calling himself ‘Stalker.’”

I heard the younger Rocket give an unimpressed snort. “Yeah, that narrows it down. Wasn’t it all but proven that the original Stalker was multiple people? I mean, I know that all happened before I joined, but—”

“That’s just the point. We have no idea who it is, and that’s why we can’t afford to ignore him. Whoever it is knows about the revolt. He could be a deserter. He could be the former commander. Do you have any idea how important that is? If there’s even a chance we could get him, or any of the others working with him, we can’t ignore it.”
Enjoying the Team Rocket backstory exposition.

Chibi pressed his tail harder against the man’s neck until it was nearly digging into the flesh. I had no idea what move he was using, but I had the sickening suspicion that he could have ended the man’s life right then and there.
"Sinking suspicion" doesn't quite convey the extremity of what's happening here, especially after Jade's heard him screaming.

We were going to stop them. I repeated it again in my head, but it still felt fake and it was hard to ignore the fact that I just plain really didn’t want to do this. I had agreed to join the rebel team knowing that my life would be in danger, but now that it actually was, I couldn’t handle it.
This would make more sense to me if she'd never experienced being in danger before, but she decides to join directly after undergoing a near-death experience. Not that that means she should be over it or anything, it just seems odd to suggest that her understanding of the danger was only theoretical up until now.

Chibi’s words still gripped every inch of me, though.
You use this phrase twice in the chapter! It stands out, since it's unusual phrasing.

Chapter Seven

This chapter really felt like Chibi's show, which made sense. He's the one with the experience and the drive. I've gotten a strong sense of his character so far, his determination and his desperation, and how the one doesn't exist without the other. He's a bit of a stealth big-damn-hero--I don't fully know his motives yet, but the most reasonabe motive to impute to him based on everythign we've seen so far, would be to screw Team Rocket over as much as possible, but his focus when he learns about the bomb seems exclusively focused on saving the ship and the people aboard. Heart of gold.

The sense of time felt a bit odd to me in this chapter. The twenty minutes that Jade runs around collecting bombs, throwing bombs overboard, and then collecting more bombs seemed implausibly long. I don't see how she could believe Chibi would have been able to hold them off for that much time. Most of these battles seem to be fast-paced and decided in minutes. But the five minutes she has to run to the engine room and have the conversation? That felt implausibly short. And also too short for the Rockets--assuming they've got psychic pokemon, they still need to gather all their people first, which seems like a greater than five minute task, particularly since it didn't seem like blowing up the ship was the original plan? I thought they intended to hold the ship hostage to try to draw out Stalker, and I'm a bit confused why that changed. Blowing up a ship on the off-chance he's on it before confirming that is just going to leave them more uncertain. The sense of events not making logical sense in the latter half of the chapter was a bit distracting.

“*You didn’t tell them what we were doing,*” Chibi said slowly. His tone was rather deadpan, so I couldn’t tell why he said it.

I didn’t respond. I just stared at the floor as we walked, hoping the elaborately patterned carpet was a believable enough distraction for me to ignore his statement. I could tell he was still eyeing me, though. It was weird—even without any force from the hybrid, there was that one look that unfailingly could get me to give in and answer him.

“It’s just…”—the more I thought about it, the more stupid I felt—“this is something I have to do. I don’t want to drag them into it pointlessly.”

“*But if you fail, they’ll die anyway, so it doesn’t make any difference.*”

I froze, feeling an uncomfortable tightness in my chest. “…Yeah. I guess you’re right.” He sure had a knack for jumping right to the unpleasant truth of any situation. After that, Chibi looked away, either satisfied at getting to me or content to let the topic die.
Chibi with the remorseless logic here. I liked "either satisfied at getting to me or content to let the topic die" here--it feels like an interpretation that's colored by Jade's POV, and gave me a nice sense of the distance between them, as well as the possibility it could be a different reason entirely that she doesn't know him well enough to pick up on.

I really was getting better at Pokéspeech, wasn’t I?
Nice moment! It's good to see Jade improving with this.

He grabbed my hand and pulled it, willing me to stand.
This was a bit of a strange mental image--pika hands are so tiny!

“I didn’t say weapons at the ready, now did I?” a male voice called out. It wasn’t angry, just decisive—the sort of voice that wasn’t to be argued with.
The dialogue felt a bit at odds with how the tone is described. I'd expect a decisive voice to lead with the pertinent command "Firearms down." He can berate them for the full specifics of it once he's ensured the command's been followed.

Chibi darted forward and grabbed it in his mouth, tossing it away from the group.

“*Now go!*” Chibi cried out before a newly-materialized Nidoqueen landed a punch on him.

I clenched my teeth and sprung forward, pausing just long enough to grab the controls before darting back the opposite direction. I could hear the crashing of lightning against a barrier, which faded amidst the constant engine noise the further I got from the conflict. As soon I reached the end of the platform, I ducked behind one of the tanks and sank to my knees immediately. My heart was pounding, but I couldn’t help feeling exhilarated—we’d gotten the controls from them. We honestly had a shot now.
Suprised no one comes after her here.

It wasn’t long before lungs burned and legs went numb from exhaustion, and yet I still couldn’t think about anything other than finding the next one… and the next one…
Did you drop a word here? Feels like it should read, "It wasn’t long before my lungs burned and legs were numb from exhaustion"

by now all of my pockets were stuffed full of bombs—at least twelve or fifteen of them.
Those are some big pockets! Bit hard to take this seriously, if the bombs are the size of CDs.

“*Pokémon are… they’re supposed to protect their trainer,*” Firestorm muttered. I ignored him.
I mean, if Team Rocket is trying to kill everyone, that includes him too. I feel like the story's been hinting pretty strongly that Firestorm had a trainer before, but I'm confused as to why this wouldn't have come up in the three weeks he and Jade shared a tent, practicing conversation.

I brushed a few strands out of my eyes just in time to see the Rocket struggling against a whirlwind before it swept him off his feet and sent him crashing into the wall. The wind ceased, and he slumped to the ground, looking dazed.

Swift fluttered down to the ground and turned to face us, tilting his head. “*I think that worked out well,*” he said, rather matter-of-factly.
Good job, Swift! I do wonder why the Rocket wouldn't have a pokemon out. I don't think it would blow cover or look strange for normal crew members to have a pokemon on them--the ship has open pokeball rules, so at least some crew members must have pokemon for any incidents that happen.

“*How come you didn’t have anything for me to do back there?*” the fire lizard said in a small voice.

“The heck? What, you think I wanted to set him on fire? What could I have had you do?” The Charmander didn’t say anything else.
Firestorm is team Burn People Alive, I guess.

there were still a lot of bombs left to collect in the cabin area. I took a deep breath before resuming my search, stopping briefly to grab each bomb one by one. After a while, it was like I was incapable of thinking about anything else. Just one bomb after the next, filling my pockets with them.

And then I had to stop and blink when I first felt my pockets full to bursting. It barely felt like I’d spent any time gathering them. Either way, time to go back to the upper deck, and hopefully not run into any Rockets for once.
This pushed against my suspension of disbelief. She's able to run back and collect all these bombs without seeing anyone? Wouldn't the cabin area be a lot more populated than the engine room?

The way this is a described right now, it feels like Jade is running around in an empty ship, sparsely populated with Team Rocket members, methodically grabbing bombs and disposing of them. But . . . this is a full cruise ship, right? Has she really not passed any normal people in all this running, or on the upper deck? A moment where Jade has to dodge some fellow passengers in the hallway, or has to push between people enjoying a view of the water, would make this seuqnece feel more grounded to me, and make the cruise ship feel less like an obsctacle course, and more like a cruise ship.

My movements were on autopilot as I navigated back to the first open deck I could get to, going through the motions of disposing of the bombs yet again. When I was done, I began the descent back to the lower levels of the ship. It had been nearly twenty minutes since I’d left Chibi in the engine room. Where was he now… and was he still alright?
That's a really long time. Most of these poke battles only seem to take minutes. It seems unfeasible for Jade to believe Chibi's managing to hold them off for that long.

Now that I actually had a full view of him, the lead Rocket was tall and thin, with an angular face and dark circles under his eyes, which gave his face a cold look in contrast to his ironic grin.
I like all the elements here, but I'm not quite sure how the dark circles give him a cold look.

“*We don’t have a choice,*” Firestorm added through gritted teeth. Where on earth had he gotten that determination from?
He has seemed pretty consistently wanting to fight in all these battles, so I'm not sure why Jade's narration treats this like something new.

His words held a dangerous air, contrasting with his previous smooth attitude.
Not sure what a 'smooth attitude' means, or how it contrasts to a 'dangerous air.'

“You know, we were rather… upset when you took him,” the man went on. “We need him for our experiments, otherwise we might never figure out how to break those overpowered, undeserving monsters you call Legendaries.
That's interesting--suggests some resentment towards legendary pokemon.

While Ninetales dashed forward, closing in on Firestorm, Swift down toward its face, talons outstretched. But it saw him. In one smooth motion, the fire fox turned aside and struck him on the back with its slender paw. I flinched as the Pidgey smashed into the floor with a pained cry. He just managed to flutter into the air before another spurt of fire hit the spot where he’d landed, but the superheated air prevented him from approaching his opponent.

Firestorm tried to take advantage of the enemy’s distraction by breathing scattered embers, but Ninetales didn’t even look fazed. In fact, the embers just sank into its fur, making its whole body glow with a fiery sheen. The fox smirked, then unleashed a pitch-black pulse of energy from its body, striking the fire lizard and knocking him back. Swift saw the opening and dove down from above, ready to strike. But upon hearing its trainer’s order of “Hypnosis!” the fox lunged to the side, eyes radiating with a creepy red aura and tails swaying rhythmically behind it. Swift caught its gaze and crashed to the floor, fast asleep.

I stared at the ongoing battle, a wave of dread slowly spreading through me. The sheer difference in skill—both between the Ninetales and my Pokémon, and between the Rocket and me—was starting to sink in.
This battle does a good job showing the power imbalance.

but the flame blocked the recall beam
How does this work?

“At least they would have if we hadn’t reapplied explosives to the engine room after you so thoughtlessly ruined all our hard work down there.”
. . . how many explosives do they cart around?

“We—we’re gonna use explosives to hold the ship hostage and force the rebel leader to reveal himself,” the Rocket finally managed, in between panicked gasps for breath.
Its screen was jumbled and glitchy, but I could just make out the words—

“No… you’ve gotta be kidding me…” I mumbled weakly. “I spent all that time… this can’t be happening.”

Automatic timed detonation activated.

The screen stuttered a bit before displaying a countdown, starting at five minutes. My mind flew into a frenzy, struggling to think of something, anything to stop the detonation. The engine room was too far away; I couldn’t possibly remove all the bombs in time. I stared hopelessly at the screen, crushing despair filling every inch of me.

It was over. The Rockets had won, and the ship was doomed.

The ship… but if we managed to make it off in time…
Why would they detonate? I thought the whole point of this was to take the ship hostage?
 

unrepentantAuthor

A cat that writes stories.
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Ugh, finally got around to reading ch24! Gonna avoid cluttering my reading list until I'm caught up with LC, I think. Right, here goes:

The dialogue about the Starr reveal is just slightly off, somehow. I think it's the incredibly direct way Jade drops the info, since Ajia's reaction tracks. No biggie, though.
Ajia is good, I love her. I can already tell at this point that she's going to be fun to read, she's got this ludicrous boldness that comes with clowning on Rockets for too long while going unscathed. I'm confident it will blow up in her face eventually. Or Jade's!
Espeon! It's just nice to see another of my faves.
Aww hugs!!!! I love to see a hug, and I don't think we've had any special hug moments yet. Fleeting, but nice.
Ajia is picking up where they left off but I'm glad Jade gets to feel like a stranger. It's lovely, but perhaps naive, that Ajia treats Jade the way she does, and it really shows how big the gap between them is. Sure, it's closed a little now that Jade is a trainer with experience fighting Rockets, but just as that's closed the gap, a new one has opened in the form of Jade's traumatic experiences which Ajia sure doesn't seem to intuit.
Holy shit. Jade is really hammering herself about Moltres. That paragraph about how Moltres will never make any further benevolent appearances ever again almost feels like too didactic a paragraph, except that it really suits Jade's brain gremlins tbh.

Love that Jade wishes she'd gone with Ajia even though she can't know how it would have gone. I somehow doubt that Ajia would have been able to give her the same value of experience as the Rebellion (for all that the Rebellion damaged her), and Ajia sure seems like the sort of person to be incautious about Jade's safety in the name of mad plans. AU where they travelled together and got captured due to Ajia's overconfidence in Jade's rookie abilities, that sounds delightfully painful. Speaking of AUs, I'd love to read some of those noncanon indulgences you keep mentioning.

Lmfao Ajia can harass Starr literally whenever she likes, apparently. I'd honestly be surprised if she hasn't done something like this already, given her near-nonchalance about it.
It's very interesting that Starr doesn't distinguish between believing in the Rocket cause and coerced loyalty. I mean, I don't know yet but I definitely know that she was raised to be part of TR, so I already understand that it's a matter of never having a choice in membership, a matter of being groomed, a matter of not having it in her to discard her family however awful it is, and so on. She's crazy young to be an executive, and I totally get what that means. And of course in order to live with that, she has to deal, psychologically, with the incompatibility between her situation and stuff like compassion, friendship, mercy, and even a desire to choose her own life. She can't entertain those thoughts, it isn't safe in the evironment she's stuck in. Ajia's interference is the sort of thing it would take to force her out at this point, clearly, but at this point I'm wondering just how bad the fallout will be...

Ajia holy shit are you gonna blackmail Starr into leaving? Apparently. This sucks because she's removing Starr from a terrible situation where she has no agency (child soldier), via a terrible situation where she has no agency (framed as traitor), to put her in a terrible situation where she has no agency (on the run from Super Mafia).
Ajia's plan is absolutely bullshit oh my god I have no idea how this is gonna go and I'm scared!! If this goes even close to how she intends, it definitely won't be a good thing, and there are so many ways it can go worse.
Jade snooping around a TR base while terrified of being caught is nostalgic by now, given how many times it's happened.
Umbreon! Love an umbreon. Ajia has those Wes vibes, what with being a cool but somewhat shady trainer with Johto eeveelutions fighting an evil gang.
Pichu is impressive! Love to see unevolved pokémon kicking some ass.
There is totally a need to be so sappy. Recent events have been dreadful and we need some friendship and comfort, goddamnit.
I'm a fan of them using plans like Espeon's return and teleport gambit and combat supplements, it's nice to see nonstandard methods of dealing with problems via pokémon.
Lampshading texting Giovanni doesn't make it less wild that Ajia totally just texted Giovanni. Wow.
Starr's swearing text!! Love to get to things you've told me about in advance.
Oh my god it actually happened, Giovanni turned up, the plan worked? And he thinks Starr is a double agent. Still pretty sure she's his daughter and I would be sure even if it was just for the Viridian thing in the prologue, of course. But anyway that's rough as hell, oh god. He's not even phased. He just sics his goons on her.
"I can't believe I actually cared about you two" is such a rough line, it has related energy to "stay away from me!" Lines like that where friendships crumble are so rough on my heart.
Chatlog is pretty interesting. I guess Lexx came up in the prologue, huh? Everyone from that school is probably either a Rocket or a resistance fighter in some way, ha.

Excited to be on the Starr redemption arc at last! Oh boy. Seeya next chapter.
 

unrepentantAuthor

A cat that writes stories.
Location
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purrloin-salem
So I went right ahead and read ch25 because of course I did.

First off, I adore the chapter art. I keep looking at it. Starr's face, with flowing tears but a grit-teeth wide-eyed stare of horror. Her hands, are they reaching out, or coming up to defend herself? Her executive outfit, and how it has elements of both strength and vulnerability, light and dark. The hulking feraligatr behind her, concerned but ultimately no asset to her strength in the situation they're in. The stark grey wall behind, reminding us that the Team Rocket environment is a bleak one. The shadows. The handgun. The emblem. Wow.

Reactions first!

Ajia is very competent and Starr is on the back foot... or is she? I'm not exactly expecting at this point that she might use the rest of her impressive team together with her sidearm to take control of the situation, because I know she's been increasingly a mess for some time now. More that I'm expecting Ajia to fuck up or have poorly predicted the outcomes.
Wow Starr really isn't handling this psychologically, huh? She's very much in the 'denial' phase. Intensely so.
What a win! Love to see stuff like pichu-beats-raichu, not a fan of evolution being a ticket to strictly superior battle competency.
Giovanni sure makes an entrance. What an intimidating fellow. This is a serious version of the character, and I love to see it.
I fucking knew they wouldn't free Mewtwo lmfao. There was no way they'd pull the plan off that easily, or that Gio would leave himself so vulnerable.

Oh god this is fucking terrifying and I fully expect Gio to demand that Starr executes the gals. What an awful situation. Definitely not feeling a "get sent to the cells for Stracion to bust out" vibe this time...
"Ruined" is such an gut-wrenching word to use about Astrid. It's clear how Gio only sees her as an asset and perhaps an extension of his pride, and not as family. It's also a button of mine when antagonists go off on how worthless someone is specifically for their redeeming traits, or becuase they're on a redemption path.
He was already suspicious, of course. We don't see much of the consequences for Starr letting Jade get away repeatedly, except in her mounting stress levels and that delicious extra, which I loved, but it must have been awful for so long. How much scrutiny has she been under her whole life? That line about her being 'singled out' later on really hammers this home.
Ajia is a "criminal" lol. The fuck. I guess Gio thinks that Team Rocket are already sovereign, or something.
Oh shit oh shit this is gonna be so awful...
Ajia sure seems like she really overplayed her hand here, and Jade was hopelessly naive, to the point that even though I know Starr gets out I still somehow don't believe it'll happen??
"This decides your fate" is a metal line. It has the same energy as "Angry at her? Dusk, I'm angry at you." It also really makes it even more intense that Starr can't go through with it, considering she knows it's futile and she has almost nothing to lose by killing them herself.
Starr's begging and pleading hurts my heart. I assume this is not a habit she's made during her TR career.
Oh wow, Jade's emotions when Starr refuses! I feel that, Jade. What a mood. I believe in Starr!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa Umbreon! Espeon! This fucking battle is so sick, omg. Such intensity! I love it.
"It was my choice" no it fucking wasn't, you WALNUT. YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND AGENCY. YOU WERE A MINOR BEING COERCED BY AN ARMED CABAL LED BY YOUR FATHER. YOU FUCKING MORON. Anyway my heart is breaking for Starr. She really does believe that her life is her own.
Lmfao that Ajia keeps assuming stuff of Jade. Why would Jade, a certified idiot, have uncovered or guessed Starr's relationship to Giovanni? Haha.
HOLY SHIT THEY PULLED IT OFF WOW. I was stunned, and confused, and couldn't think what Umbreon did.
Lmfao at half the Rockets fucking off tbh. I bet they're totally going to get resources to help out and not just fleeing for their lives~
What the fuck did Umbreon DO, though? What's Ajia's fucking deal?

Yeah, Jade you hardly know either of these girls. Five years is a long time, and a year isn't. Honestly, it's sometimes pretty rough to realise that in five years, some of the most important people in Jade's life are people she hasn't seen in that long, knows fuck-all about, and in Starr's case, has been tortured by extensively. She doesn't go with Ajia for Starr because she thinks it's her moral duty, but because Starr is still her friend. She doesn't seem to have people in her life, exactly. The Rebellion, sure, but that's done and she didn't go with her teammates. She hasn't thought about her family hardly at all since the call to her mother forever ago. The most important people in her life besides these two are her own pokémon, I think. It's kindof rough to think about.

Further on that note, Jade's goals and cares don't often seem firm in her own mind. I think she wants to be significant to the people who left her behind. I think she wants to matter to the people who went off and lived lives without her. It really makes my heart ache. By contrast, Starr's goals and cares have been obliterated by the weight of 'survive being a Team Rocket executive' and 'don't murder your childhood friend and lose what humanity you have left'. That's even worse heartbreak. Ajia seems to just love dunking on Team Rocket. Power to her. I'm sure she's very well-balanced psychologically~ I actually feel like we could stand to know more by now about what the friendship at school was actually like. Jade doesn't elaborate on it much, and I feel like if she thought back to it sometimes it would track better that she'd take such risks as this one. She mentions that Starr used to love water pokémon—that stood out to me a lot because such details are pretty rare in her narration. Don't get me wrong, I love these three, but it's just something I've been musing over a little.

Love how Starr processes the situation as Ajia ruining her life, when her life was already shit and she could totally have just killed them. Except of course, she couldn't, and Jade and Ajia were right to gamble on that fact. Damn.
Jade's internal narration is laying it on a bit thick here but I like that she's still bothered that Starr is okay with different murders. She isn't getting out of moral scrutiny just because she's done this one thing.
"Have you forgotten what I did to you" oh man this is some delicious guilt. It's not the same as remorse, but that's surely to come.

Kinda surprised that Ajia fucks off and that Jade was about to. I thought both of them would be more insistent on staying together. Hell, Ajia just leaves without even showing concern that, say, Starr might verbally rip into Jade out of shock and anger. Or that Starr might literally not be able to process what to do next. Or that she has a firearm and a lot of fear that she'll be hunted down and tortured. Oof. Really surprised that Starr is the one reaching out given the state of shock she's in! I think the actual lines used could use a little tweaking to sell it as natural, but I get it. Starr does care, and everything stopping her shwing it but habit are very suddenly gone. It tracks. And of course, Jade just watched Starr yell at Ajia, and Ajia walk away, and she doesn't know what to do. It's rough.

Starr volunteering that description of her social life is pretty rough... Even though she admits she couldn't trust anyone, she still talks about having plentiful social interaction and the opportunity to 'fool around' as being a desirable thing. But I know that as a very young executive, all her relationships, if they even qualify as that, were probably sketchy as fuck. Even if they'd been with miraculously decent Rockets, who weren't sickeningly exploitative of her, they still represented a threat to her strength and a risk of attachment, of weakness, of slipping up. I don't believe for a second that Starr had a single healthy intimate moment with another Rocket during her time there and I am miserable about the implications of what sshe's saying. I'm desperate for her to have a real friendship with someone who actually cares about her. Oh gods.

Jade is a good kid and I love her. Well done for offering your hand, Jade. I'm proud of you. HOORAY FOR BIG HUG! I love big hug. I know we probably aren't gonna get platonic spooning bc of inevitable reader perceptions but I choose to imagine it will happen bc it makes me happy. I hope we at least have plenty more hugs to come! I love the friendship, hhhhhhhh.

So, this was one of my favourite chapters so far too, along with ch23. I love this stuff so much. I'm gripped. And so relieved there's so much more to go. I did think to myself that by now there's still a lot of stuff that feels either like it's been dropped or was a deus ex machina of some kind, or just a strange narrative choice, but I trust that we'll get answers to everything in due time. I'm having way too much fun to get hung up on stuff like that right now! Very hype for the next chapter, Chibi!
 

unrepentantAuthor

A cat that writes stories.
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purrloin-salem
ch26, I'm on a roll~

Love how unimpressed and uncomfortable Feraligatr is in the header art.
The pokémon don't like this! For the most part, anyway. I like that, it's a good way to layer on the difficulty of the new arrangement without having Jade and Starr lay into each other. Bless Raichu for wanting to make friends even though he's a walking trigger. Kinda fucked up, though.
Many fire types, huh? I have this image in my head that she's used them as a unit to burn out targets many times, and this is the reason for having several.
'Loop of nope' is a slightly irreverant way to describe Jade being triggered, but I chuckled. It's really delicious trauma brain all round, this chapter, actually.
"Flagged for something I've actually done" is a great way to remind us how fucked up Starr's history is. We already know she attended a massacre of teenagers, and saw her torture a 14yo, but I'm waiting for her to reveal something even more awful that she's done.
Starr being legit impressed at illegal trainership is a nice moment. It's good banter! I like that she's so good at slipping into comfortable jesting and jockeying despite awful, awful, awful things on her mind. It's a good character trait. Also, Duskcore.
Jade, you are truly a dumbass! Get a diploma in dumbassery, you have all the qualifications. Starr is literally holding a pile of money.
Sleepy train rides are good. Really felt the vibe. This chapter was less 'essay on Osaka' than you'd led me to believe, I actually found it all really natural and grounding. Love to see bacon pancakes pop up in the fic.
That was a rough moment with Chibi. He's becoming the weapon he was created to be, I guess. I know that surely he'll recover some eventually but it's tasty to see him so angry and shut down right now. I love Jade for trying so hard with him, and feeling so bad.
New outfit and no flinching! This is a very good scene, I love a few things about it but particularly how it plays on Jade's compartmentalisation of Astrid and Starr.
Starr's guilt! Jade's trauma! It's absolutely delicious to read. I think I'd have preferred a more consistent nightmare, it feels a little spread thin over many characters taunting Jade, but it was still good and I really loved how out of it Jade was afterwards and how she manages to open up about what's on her mind despite Starr's resistance. I loved how Starr is so affected by it and desperate to shut it out but talks about her feelings anyway and Jade both sympathises and begrudges because this shit is complicated. It was an exceptionally good scene, imo. Big fan of Starr's willingness to start making up for things in small ways, that "five years?" comment especially. Oh, Starr. I know you care.
"Forced out of us" is a great line. I'm a huge fan of this kind of indirectly brutal communication, the way Jade can say something with no explicit link to the awful experience they're trying to move away from and still be saying "the reason you couldn't get useful information out of me by electrocuting me repeatedly was because I was a child and nobody trusted me with useful information." She's saying "you tortured me for nothing." It really hurts my heart, like everything in this fic lately!
Stalker scene was good, I'm fascinated by what must be going on inside his head and to what extent he's basically just grooming Jade to be an asset in his war. Very excited to finally learn a little more about his name and whole deal! Also delighted to hear more about Mewtwo's escape, which I've been anticipating for a while and which I'm crediting as the main reason Jade and Starr aren't already dead or imprisoned.
 

unrepentantAuthor

A cat that writes stories.
Location
UK
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they/she
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purrloin-salem
Here we go, with ch27!

I had a feeling Stalker was still an active Rocket member and this explains why there's such a rift between the forces, I guess! I fiure I was supposed to believe he was a defector, but I always assumed he was still very much integrated and that his goal was specifically to prevent the use of Legendaries rather than to take down the team. Wish I'd called it!
He calls her Astrid, he calls her loyal. He knows how to get a rise out of her, it seems.
I too am impressed with Jade! Demanding answers and getting them, you go, kid!
Ajia is so central to the events of the revolt! What a story! She's very impressive, but I still don't like her emotional wellbeing credentials.
Who is the Kanto commander? I am fascinated by this 'strongest trainer ever' reputation. It also occurs to me, how does Team Rocket recruit so many extraordinary individuals? It sure seems like a tremendously powerful organisation.
"Treason" is an interesting word to use. Yet again with the implication that Team Rocket is sovereign and not an insurgent group itself. What does Giovanni believe in?
Executions, huh. Rough to think of Starr murdering people, rough to think of her gunning down prisoners in cold blood. Or worse.
Starr knew about this guy all along and couldn't do anything, huh? She's been under some intense and sustained stress for one hell of a long time. Her only reasonable play was to keep out of trouble, but she's under pressure as the boss' daughter to perform. A no-win scenario, to be sure.
Kinda love how mad both Ajia and Starr are at Sebastian, but for different reasons (save for the shared distate at his chessmastery).
Starr cares about doing shit yourself and taking the heat yourself because she had to, and Sebastian is a puppeteer. I can't imagine her ever expecting someone to do something distasteful for her, and she seems to have fully internalised that if you mess up, you must be punished. I wonder how many times she's been punished, and in what ways. I guess we'll find out.
Sebastian has his own agenda, naturally! I mean, was there really ever any doubt?
Also, why haven't the pantheon obliterated TR by now?
Oh wait, they're doing exactly that. Really enjoy how Ajia gets the same memo via telepathy.
Also, Ajia is a chosen! Many thoughts on this, but I was too tired to type them up.
Starr cares about atrocities, and dead innocents. Love to see some moral backbone in a recovering villain, even if the bar is incredibly low on this one.
Stalker's departing words are very interesting. What a manipulator! Bet he thinks he can still get his claws in Jade by appealing to her need to be considered significant. Which I don't know if Starr and Ajia are going to give her considering how much she's still in their shadow. I mean, Stalker even credits the Mewtwo mission to Jade, here, even though it was very nearly 100% on Ajia, and I think he hopes it will make Jade feel loyalty.
Ajia is pretty based! Best of luck to you, you mad trainer.
Starr will join! Wonderful. Very excited for that.
Love how Mew just pops up and starts chatting to them. No biggie. She's seen some crazy shit, probably.
Looking forward to the next!
 

unrepentantAuthor

A cat that writes stories.
Location
UK
Pronouns
they/she
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purrloin-salem
What a long fucking read ch28 was! Really enjoyed it. Here goes.

Lugia time! Problems on purpose! The chapter art is especially gorgeous, and I'm very excited for the famed large horrible superpowered goose creature and all the terrible decisions they're gonna make!
Holy shit this is one hell of a conflict. It reminds me of the destruction of Midnight Stadium and the first kid deaths. The destruction of city blocks and the presumed death or injury of many, many civilians is a rough thing to take even sympathising with the Legendaries as one might do at this point. I'm anticipating that some of them may be not just assholes, but close to or outright malevolent, given that this is how the so-far-sympathetic Mewtwo and the soon-to-be-Team-Jade Lugia are behaving.

Mew is sad! Instantly likable little kitty, worrying about the wellbeing of petty mortals. I wonder whether she's actually a moral paragon, since I suspect the prominent legendaries will be more complicated than that.
Jade is so good and she's out of her depth like never before. Really enjoying that she's heading into this with really nasty odds, and I'm proud of her for how far she's come. This is so intense.
"People are dying, Twenty-four" is such a line and I love it. Just putting it down flat. Really enjoy Aros' little reboot of confusion as everything tells him to go save the day instead of taking revenge.
"List of conversations owed" is a great concept and I'm looking forward to seeing some of those overdue discussions. Will one of them be about Firestorm's strength fixation?

Don't get killed, Jade! Starr needs you to stay alive or she'll have fuck-all to live for. I suspect Starr is gonna be pretty damn dedicated to Jade's survival, considering it's her lifeline to not being totally irretrievable as a person.
Cool combat and orders! Really like that Starr is able to command a specific focus-fire with a handful of syllables. That's fantastic stuff.
Interlopers sure aren't wanted by every Legendary, huh? Since there are seven Legendaries choosing human partners, that leaves an awful lot of Legendaries who aren't doing that. Even if only the first four or five generations of Legendary are relevant to the conflict, that's a huge number of them who aren't throwing their lot in with that gambit.

Master ball cannons are not allowed! Jade Arens says so! D:<
Mewtwo captured himself, huh? Kinda genius. I really enjoy this sort of thing, I know I loved this kind of idea when I was writing fanfic in the mid 2000s and all that. It feels weirdly nostalgic.
Healing Moltres and Articuno repeatedly sounds pretty terrifying. Lugia is clearly on a different level, but the power levels on display combined with restorative aid makes for an unassailable foe if not disrupted.
Love the inventive use of sandstorm. Always a big fan of moves being used to do useful things and not just fill out a battle scene.

The evolution of both Swift and Firestorm was fucking sick. That fight was intense, and I was delighted to see Jade in a serious duel at last, against a tough opponent no less!
I AM YELLING. OH MY GOD, FIRESTORM. That was so brutal. That was so sickeningly cathartic. This is incredibly FI-core oh my god?
Hey, nice, Jade is horrified but relieved. Good reactions. Looks like Firestorm is more messed up than anticipated, but the freakout tracks perfectly well with his strength fetishism and general obsessiveness. Excited to learn more, see him recover (or get worse...)
Swift is once again the MVP! He is so excellent. What a lovely bird dude. Wholesome. why would you ship jadestorm when you could instead ship swiftjade
Also, we're finally past the banner art! With Swift and Firestorm at their final evolutionary stages besides megas (👀), that gorgeous art of Jade in Rocket uniform runnin with her team is now fully in the past! I'm guessing Lugia is gonna be the sixth team member, of course, leaving her with three fliers for those essential Chibi-brand aerial combats and fraught flights.

Jade you idiot! You have no plan at all! Did she not even think about the consequences of this or consider running the plan by anyone at all? Oh my god, she just wants to be significant, doesn't she? She wants to make a difference. Oh no.
I love Chibi for being so protective of her. He does care! He fucking slapped a god in the face to save her life. Bless you, you little edgy pikachu.
Lugia is... probably probing Jade's mind, right? Otherwise they'd just beam her again and get it right this time. That, or they're sparing her by means of torture, I guess, but I think probing is more likely considering the likely imminent addition of Jade to chosen one ranks.
Oops, though~
 
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