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Aeons and Avatars Contest - Results

Negrek

komorebi
Staff
Aeons and Avatars One-Shot Contest Results

Here we are with the results of our 2023 one-shot contest, Aeons and Avatars! We ended up having exactly the same number of entries as we did in 2022, making for a pretty hefty chunk of legendary fics! I hope you enjoy reading through all the entries this year; as always, it was wonderful to see the diverse ways in which our authors tackled the theme--one even submitted the first piece of poetry we've received for a contest! There's a lot going on in the results thread here, so I'll give a brief overview of all the information you can find here before I unveil our winners.

The next post in this thread is an index with summaries of all the stories submitted to the contest, with links to anywhere they've been published, a link to their highlight post in this thread, and an interview with the author (if available) giving some insight into their entry. It'll give you a quick overview of the entries and help you decide which ones you'd like to read!

After that, each submitted story gets its own highlight post. Each of these contains an excerpt from the story to give you a taste of what it's like, links to anywhere it's been published, and the judges' feedback for the story.

This year, the judges were randomly split into two groups, and then entries were randomly assigned to one group or another (aside from judge fics, which were always sent to be evaluated by the group without that judge), creating essentially two parallel contests. These two groups will hereafter be referred to as Koraidon Flight and Miraidon Flight, and they were treated entirely independently up until now, when I've recombined all the entries to make for a single results thread! Each judge ordered the list of stories they read from their number one pick to their last pick. Their score for a story was determined based on the point scale below, and then the points awarded to a story by each judge were summed up to yield the story's final overall score. Because the Koraidon and Miraidon flights had different numbers of fics in them, the scoring scales were slightly different between them. Stories were ranked based on their overall score, and the top three became the winners of their flight.

Koraidon Flight

Place - Points
11th - 10
10th - 20
9th - 30
8th - 40
7th - 50
6th - 60
5th - 70
4th - 80
3rd - 95
2nd - 110
1st - 130

Miraidon Flight

Place - Points
10th - 10
9th - 20
8th - 30
7th - 40
6th - 50
5th - 60
4th - 70
3rd - 85
2nd - 100
1st - 120

The ranks and point totals are not published with the results, but have been retained in case they're needed. Also, please note that I provided reviews of two of the Miraidon stories, as auspicious wasn't able to complete them. However, auspicious did rank all of the entries, and his scores were used to determine the final placement of all fics--my opinion was not considered for scoring in either flight. The authors of those two stories can feel free to reach out to auspicious for informal feedback on their work. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Before I announce the winners, I have to thank all the judges for their hard work this year. This was our first time trying out a new judging system, and naturally there were a few bumps along the way. Thanks to all of you--auspicious, blue, Chibi, Dragonfree, HelloYellow, lisia, Sind, and of course Tetra--for rolling with the punches and providing high quality feedback for all our contest authors. We couldn't have had a contest without you!

And now, the moment everyone's been waiting for! Congratulations to this year's one-shot contest winners. In Miraidon Flight, kintsugi and HelloYellow17/tomatorade in a tie for second and third place! In Koraidon flight, Flyg0n in first place, auspicious second, and JFought in third! And in Miraidon Flight, we'd also like to give an honorable mention to Starlight Aurate, third place by total points but edged out of the top three due to the tie. Congratulations to you all!
 

Negrek

komorebi
Staff
Aeons and Avatars Contest Entries

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"109" by canisaries
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Links: Judges' Comments | TR


What legendary pokémon did you decide to write about for your entry? What made you want to write about them?

Spiritomb is only very, very, very arguably a legendary, but I figured it was just legendary enough to count - it definitely isn't just a run of the mill Pokémon. I wanted to write about it because I wanted to explore the fact that it's 108 spirits together and, well, ghosts are my gimmick as an author these days.

What does "legendary POV" mean to you? What do you think makes legendary pokémon different from all the rest?

In Spiritomb's case, we have special lore and events for the Pokémon, and you also only get to catch one of them in the game (or that's the narrative intention). It makes it an honorary legendary in my eyes.

For other legends, I think there's an air of power and sacredness to them, and my first thought for a POV would be something a bit otherworldly given they are above mortals. That in mind, I'm excited to read some of the other fics, though I know there will also be entries with more surprising takes.

What was the most fun or interesting part of your story to write?

Well, at just 600 words, there's not much to single out, but I did like coming up with different grudges held and different murders committed by the spirits.

Is there anything else you'd like readers to know about your story?

It's quite surface level in the end, so no, I don't think so. I just hope it was a fun little scene.


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"All in Good Time" by Lord Knee
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Links: Judges' Comments


What legendary pokémon did you decide to write about for your entry? What made you want to write about them?

I originally was going to choose Kyogre for my entry, but I had a difficult time trying to connect the idea I had to the contest theme; Regigigas was my second option, but I didn't have a clear idea there. Eventually I went with Dialga, who has always been a favorite legendary of mine since being introduced. I always thought the design looked really cool, and I loved the name and visual effect of the signature move. DPPT and PMD especially made me think Dialga was just a really interesting Pokémon, so that all solidified my final decision.

What does "legendary POV" mean to you? What do you think makes legendary pokémon different from all the rest?

I think that legendaries have a very vast and interesting scope of the Pokémon world. They feel distant from the world around them and have a high vantage point to survey everything, but they also feel close by due to the concepts and natural orders they've established. I also think that because of the grand feats they are capable of, and how much those feats influence the Pokémon world, it encases them in a lot of wonder. That same wonder leads to all the stories that are written about them, which adds more to the history and legend status they initially obtained by doing the things they did.

What was the most fun or interesting part of your story to write?

The most fun, but also the most stressful, part was formatting the story passages to make it seem like you were reading from some kind of textbook. I had a very hard time trying to find a balance that would make the passages feel natural with the rest of the story. Every adjustment just made it look like the words were dancing on the screen, but it was still enjoyable seeing it come together. Establishing the school setting was also really fun. I was inspired by how the schools I went to felt around winter -- how the mornings grew colder and the atmosphere seemed to change as we went to class, which led to the story being set in Snowpoint to hone in on that frosty feel. The heater not working in the story was also inspired by a similar situation I experienced in school too.

Is there anything else you'd like readers to know about your story?

Time is something that is treated as its own being, which is why it's capitalized, and it's something that Dialga has to familiarize with in order to properly establish it for the world. Additionally, I tried to make it feel as though every aspect of the story was influenced by time in some way to show that Dialga has a close impact on everything. From the conversations the students have at the beginning, to their lesson about Dialga, down to the heater finally turning on and the free time the students are given at the end, there was good time for everything.

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"Darkrai's Eyes" by BossCar
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Links: Judges' Comments | AO3 | TR


What legendary pokémon did you decide to write about for your entry? What made you want to write about them?

I was going to go with Mew but I figured I’d go with Darkrai. Darkrai’s a favorite of mine.

What does "legendary POV" mean to you? What do you think makes legendary pokémon different from all the rest?

Legendary Pokémon can be simply very rare or the makers of the Pokémon World. Legendary POV is seeing the world through their eyes. In this case, it’s a Darkrai in the year 1635.

What was the most fun or interesting part of your story to write?

The most fun/interesting part was being able to write a historical Pokémon story and it turning out well. It’s set in the same headcanon, but over 400 years ago.

Is there anything else you'd like readers to know about your story?

Kroonstad is meant to be Pokémon’s Amsterdam. The name was inspired by Crown City from one of the movies. And the real Rembrandt was indeed the leading painter of his day. His style bodes well with a Pokémon like Darkrai.



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"The face of time, the will of wishes and eternal immortality." by Myler714
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Links: Judges' Comments

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"Free to a Loving Home" by Ambyssin
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Links: Judges' Comments | TR


What legendary pokémon did you decide to write about for your entry? What made you want to write about them?

I chose Silvally (and Type: Null) as it's unashamedly my favorite pokemon in the entire dex. I'm sure most people on TR are well aware I love Silvally. I personally feel that, despite getting some attention within SuMo and somehow making the cut for SwSh, it doesn't get a lot of love from TPC itself. There was, like, one TCG set surrounding it... and that's it aside from a couple of picture-related, Japan-only merch pieces that paired it with Gladion. Silvally, Type: Null, and Cosmoem are the only Gen VII legends (including the UBs and event 'mons) not to get an official plushie. It's never featured in any sort of promotional artwork. And, of course, as far as man-made pokemon go, it is vastly overshadowed by its eternally popular Gen I counterpart, Mewtwo. Which is unfortunate because, for SwSh in particular, they tease in its dex entry that Galar got one because of "stolen research materials." They could've done something interesting there, but they dropped the ball.

With the last contest one-shot I did (waaaaaaay back in 2017 when I'd first started writing period), I decided to do a piece looking at why the heck Gladion shows up with a lucario. Likewise, my goal here was to pursue the "Some Galar company stole Aether's research data and made a silvally" idea. SwSh leaves it somewhat ambiguous as to who's responsible, but given there's just enough background to suggest Rose's Macro Cosmos is a megacorp that's monopolized the energy market and swallowed up other industries, I picked it. It also was a much more convenient means of showing how Type: Null ends up with a league staffer in the postgame.

What does "legendary POV" mean to you? What do you think makes legendary pokémon different from all the rest?

Their backgrounds and, presumably, their lifespans. Most of them are not conventionally hatching from eggs and either being raised in the wild by a family or raised by a human trainer. Many live in isolation. Legends are naturally going to have a different perception of the world than other people. This even applies to spin-offs like PMD, where legends also tend to sequester themselves away from civilization. And I think this can apply to artificial legends like Mewtwo and Silvally. Being synthesized within a laboratory is going to have you view the world through a different lens. Silvally has a mechanical element to it and I wanted to capture that more machine-like thinking style while also comparing it to, say, a more animalistic pack mentality. When Silvally becomes Null in this one-shot, the prose undergoes a slight shift to read as less mechanical and more organic. It's meant to symbolize Null getting disconnected from its RKS System. Like a computer losing a major input source.

What was the most fun or interesting part of your story to write?

The most interesting part was writing it as second-person. Never tried it. Probably never will do it again. I knew entries would be anonymized for the judges, but I still figured choosing Silvally would have many judges peg me as the author immediately. So, my goal was to write in the most un-Amby like way possible. To hopefully surprise people, both in terms of the voice they read, and in terms of hopefully getting them to appreciate the birddogfish thingy a little more.

Is there anything else you'd like readers to know about your story?

I put my all into making a piece to tug on the heartstrings. Hopefully, I succeeded.


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"From the Ashes" by Flyg0n
First Place Koraidon Flight
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Links: Judges' Comments | TR | AO3


What legendary pokémon did you decide to write about for your entry? What made you want to write about them?

The best ones I just had to write about Ho-Oh and Lugia.

My deep love for Ho-Oh has lately been reawakened, and once I saw the theme I knew I wanted to write about her and Lugia. There's something mysterious and alluring about the duo, even more so than some modern legendaries. They have concepts and principles associated with them, but they're also not strongly tied the way something like Groudon or Palkia are. They also give off such a majesty that feels unrivaled, and seem so ancient. That mystery surrounding them, particularly Ho-Oh, just felt ripe for exploration.

Once my brain made connection between Arizona>Phoneix>Phenac>Orre I started to ask myself how Ho-Oh was tied to Orre, and what power could be strong enough to shadowfy a legend. So I decided only another legendary could do that. Ho-Oh is tied closely to the concept of the heart, and shadows are shutting down the heart. It was just too cool.

Also Ho-Oh keeps getting shafted in movies, someone had to do something.

What does "legendary POV" mean to you? What do you think makes legendary pokémon different from all the rest?

To me, Legendary POV is in the term itself. Something you'd write legends about. Nobody will write a legend about how cute my cat is when she rolls on her belly (even if they should). But a creature that can bend time or a cryptid that can shapeshift into any pokemon or a bird who ferries the dead? That feels legend worthy. To me, legends are larger than life, almost unbelievable, wielding power, ability or dominion in some way that ordinary people or pokemon can't, even in a world where fire breathing cats are normal. Legendary pokemon are also set apart by a sense of responsibility or uniqueness to me. They should have some ability or aspect they embody that a regular pokemon can't fill. They don't always have to be heroic, but I love to see what they have that literally does make them different and unique.

Show me why this creature is actually a living legend. Show me what about their mode of thinking if completely different from regular pokemon, and why people might tell stories of their grandeur.

What was the most fun or interesting part of your story to write?

Ohhhhh that's hard, but I think my favorite ended up being Ho-Oh in Yveltal's Embrace/the land of the dead. I love the idea so much, particularly getting to write their interactions, as well as just the general atmosphere. I actually was going to have it be even longer but I ended up not wanting to overshadow things and I had to watch my length.

My equally favorite part was probably envisioning Lugia flying into a rage after his sister was killed. I doubt words can describe everything in my head but it was fun to tap into that angst of being physically and emotionally connected to someone and feeling them die. I definitely drew from Pacific Rim.

Oh and coming up with an origin for Shadow pokemon and Orre was a delight.

Is there anything else you'd like readers to know about your story?
The song to call Lugia is naturally the one from the 2000 movie! (Because that song rocks)

The song played for Ho-Oh is basically Mothras Song, particularly the Bear McCreary version.

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"Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo" by Starlight Aurate
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Honorable Mention Miraidon Flight


Links: Judges' Comments



What legendary pokémon did you decide to write about for your entry? What made you want to write about them?

I chose Tapu Lele for my entry. At the time of writing, I had just finished a novel based in Hawai'i (Molokai) and was feeling very inspired to write an island-themed fic. I was most interested in Tapu Lele because, canonically, she's a psycho, and there are bits of lore about her having a traumatic, war-torn past. I thought it would be interesting to delve into that.

What does "legendary POV" mean to you? What do you think makes legendary pokémon different from all the rest?

"Legendary POV" makes me think of a story told from the viewpoint of a Pokemon considered a legendary by canon. In my case, the Tapus are considered deities, so I chose to write a story from their perspective. In this story, they are essentially willed into creation and come straight from nature, and have powers over nature that other Pokemon don't. They are much stronger than all other Pokemon (in this story), are each a single-specimen species, and are worshipped by humans of Alola.

What was the most fun or interesting part of your story to write?

I definitely most enjoyed writing Lele's breakdown and subsequent destruction of Akala Island. My favorite part was her and Fini going to head-to-head with each other, if only because the mental images of waves of lava colliding with the ocean was fun to think about.

Is there anything else you'd like readers to know about your story?

I based the people of Alola/Akala off of Hawaii and mixed in a few words, and the "Invaders from the West" are based off the Chamorro (people of the Marianas Islands). I used Chamorro for their language, and each the people Lele meets are named after historic Chamorro chiefs (Kepuha, Matå’pang, Gadao, Taga, and Hurao).

The name of the one-shot, Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo, is the Hawaiian name for a hibiscus that is white in the morning but darkens to pink during the day. This was meant to be symbolic of how Tapu Lele changes in the story: she starts out innocent and loves the humans (white), but her innocence is taken and her view on the world darkens (pink). The flowers of this plant are traditionally used in Hawaiian medicine, fitting with Lele's theme of being a healer.


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"lacrima" by auspicious
Second Place Koraidon Flight
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Links: Judges' Comments

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"Mew's Meddling Mischief" by HelloYellow17
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Second/Third Place Miraidon Flight


Links: Judges' Comments


What legendary pokémon did you decide to write about for your entry? What made you want to write about them?

I went with Mew, because it’s one of my favorite legendaries! I wanted to write something lighthearted and fun, and Mew was the perfect candidate for that, especially with its transformation abilities. Lots of opportunities for wacky hijinks!

What does "legendary POV" mean to you? What do you think makes legendary pokémon different from all the rest?

To me, it means a being that has greater power than the rest, which results in a type of distance/removal from the world and most of the humans and/or Pokémon in it. Life is completely different if you have the literal powers and forces of nature within you, or if you’re immortal, or if you have some kind of sacred duty or stewardship over parts of the world. Then again, maybe it doesn’t, and being an immortal being just means you don’t take very many things seriously! Either way, a legendary Pokémon is going to see the world very differently from the average being.

What was the most fun or interesting part of your story to write?

Definitely all the transformation shenanigans. I basically got to write multiple POVs in one, and I had a blast with that. The Sableye POV was my favorite.

Is there anything else you'd like readers to know about your story?

Well, it is far from my best writing, to be honest. 😂 It took me a long time to settle on an idea and then I massively rushed the writing process, so there’s a lot of flaws in it. I hope to polish it up and improve on it!



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"Mountains Will Never" by kintsugi
First Place Miraidon Flight
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Links: Judges' Comments


What legendary pokémon did you decide to write about for your entry? What made you want to write about them?

Yveltal! The XY dex entries describe Yveltal dying once every thousand years, which I love in the context of them as a death god/avatar. I find that most mythologies have deities attuned with their domain in a way that's similar to but an extension of how mortals experience it: sky deities can feel the air but also fly, ocean deities swim but also breathe underwater, etc. And while cultures deify concepts that are important to them, it's not necessary to interact with things a god might stand for: you might not need to pray for strong winds or steady seas.

But death gods typically die once or not at all, and all mortals meet them in the end. Can you embody something you'll never experience? Can you give something you never had?

What does "legendary POV" mean to you? What do you think makes legendary pokémon different from all the rest?

I tend to default to legendary pokemon as both having godlike, domain-specific powers and being worshipped akin to deities. I'm typically less interested in writing about those things and more interested in the stories surrounding them, so it was important to me to center the story around events that would themselves become legendary in-universe.

What was the most fun or interesting part of your story to write?

Up until about 70 hours before the deadline, the only real piece of the story I had was a scene of a tree slowly decaying, and the way time and life passed before Death came for it. There's a bit of dialogue near the middle that describes the moment Yveltal was born—once I put that into words I had a much more concrete idea for where I wanted things to go.

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"Of Mon's First Disobedience" by Sinderella
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Links: Judges' Comments


What legendary pokémon did you decide to write about for your entry? What made you want to write about them?

I took a bit of a risk and wrote about my own fakemon legendary. I know I’ve spoken about it 20,000 times, but I came up with legendary Pokemon based off the seven deadly sins, and the personification of Wrath, Venira, is a big character in my fanfic, and also near and dear to my heart. I admittedly wasn’t jazzed about the topic this year, but upon learning writing fakemon was an option, I jumped on the opportunity to write her origin story and had an absolute blast doing so.

What does "legendary POV" mean to you? What do you think makes legendary pokémon different from all the rest?

I equate “legendary” to “god,” so my whole approach to it was writing the story from a god’s point of view. In the case of Of Mon’s First Disobedience, it was the POV of a god who hadn’t quite become a god and was still learning how to be one. But, even so, I believe a god would have access to more than a regular mortal Pokemon would. They would experience things differently, because they’re these supreme beings who seemingly never die. They might experience hardships a mortal Pokemon would never see. So, when I see “Legendary POV,” these are the things I’m expecting to see!

What was the most fun or interesting part of your story to write?

Can I be that annoying bitch that says “everything?” 😂

Venira (known to most on the forums as Odile) is actually one of my newer characters, meaning I haven’t been fleshing her out for as long as say, the main cast of my fic, White Swan, Black Swan. When I conceived Venira, she was about as poise as a squirrel hopped up on caffeine pills, and about as approachable as Samara from The Ring. That’s all I really had for her.

I’ve since rounded her out, but this story really gave me the opportunity to get inside her head, and I discovered things about her that I wasn’t aware of until it was on paper. I saw her learn what Wrath was, I saw her deal with fear, and I saw her functioning as an Arceus-created god before she ultimately disobeyed him and took a darker turn. It left her with a more somber backstory that I’m greatly looking forward to exploring more in White Swan, Black Swan.

Is there anything else you'd like readers to know about your story?

This is gonna sound really weird, but I know in the past I mentioned numerous times that my seven legends considered each other siblings, often calling each other brother and sister. One thing that sprouted from writing this fic was the revelation that Venira and the Pokemon of Greed, Avareed, have a mutual thing for each other (because a hoe needs romance in everything she writes, I guess). That said, the sibling thing is totally squashed so I can make room for that, and they are now just separate entities that happened to occupy a similar space. I apologize to any judge who may have read my story under the pretense that all the sins were siblings and were subsequently jarred by the flirty undertones in Venira and Avareed’s exchanges 💀


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"Only Human" by Shiny Phantump
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Links: Judges' Comments



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"Retribution" by AbraPunk
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Links: Judges' Comments | TR





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"Searching for Resolution" by JFought
Third Place Koraidon Flight
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Links: Judges' Comments


What legendary pokémon did you decide to write about for your entry? What made you want to write about them?

Trying to figure this part out was difficult for me, because I don't have that much legendary lore that is both A) interesting, and B) not main project spoilers. From the beginning I at least knew I wanted to try a grounded take on the prompt. Originally I was going to write a Latios fic, then I switched to Shaymin fic, and I was pretty set on that for a while, since I loved the idea I came up with (and still love it, I might write it someday...). But the idea didn't feel "legendary" enough: it did explore the POV of a legendary, but not really what made it legendary, or what that meant. I needed something that could strike the balance between "grounded" and "legendary," and in the end, that led me to Keldeo.

Keldeo is just a pokémon I like, and I felt there was room to explore something interesting with his character, especially in the context of Liber and its general premise (and of course i had to make it about my setting somehow i have literally no other ideas sue me). I think the connection between the ideals of the Swords of Justice and the contradictions of the setting here are ultimately what sold me on Keldeo. This is the kind of story about the Swords of Justice that can only be written with this combination of ideas, and of course I wanted to take advantage of that because I like exploring these kinds of themes.

What does "legendary POV" mean to you? What do you think makes legendary pokémon different from all the rest?

I feel that a legendary pokémon is simply the kind of pokémon that would have legends about them. Not all legendaries are deities, some are just really strong or rare or both. And that attribute has an inherent draw to it that makes people want to tell stories about them. To bring this around to the Swords of Justice, they very much fit into that mold. They are legendary specifically because they are heroes, who perform great feats and work to protect others. It's their actions that make them legendary, that drive the stories told about them.

What was the most fun or interesting part of your story to write?

Hard to say! Probably the ideological conflict at the story's core, but I'm also just kinda a sucker for those so of course I'd have fun with it. I also had a lot of fun with the antagonist, because of the unique kind of challenge he poses to Keldeo and the way he fits into the Themes™. Admittedly I might have some misgivings with my execution in hindsight, but like, I had fun.

Is there anything else you'd like readers to know about your story?

This one-shot is a Liber-fic, so you might have to bear with it on the setting a little! I tried to keep it standalone enough so that you don't need to know much beyond what the story explains, but your mileage may vary with my success on that: there's one detail in particular that will probably come out of left field if your expectation is "PMD" ^^;. The story does take a while to get going, but I hope you can give it a chance and enjoy it!

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"A Shadow of a Doubt" by Farla
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Links: Judges' Comments


What legendary pokémon did you decide to write about for your entry? What made you want to write about them?

I did Marshadow.

As to why, well:

What does "legendary POV" mean to you? What do you think makes legendary pokémon different from all the rest?

At the risk of sounding tautological, legendaries are special for being legendary. They might be super powerful or have some unique skill or be linchpins of the very world to explain it, and that's usually the cooler option, but they're still getting legends told of their existence even without that/they're still ones players go for simply for the fact they're unique in the game, while regular pokemon with the power or unique skill of a legendary aren't getting awe and stories over just a glimpse. (No one is going mad catching every smeargle they can just because they can pick up legendary-only moves.) They've been set apart from the rest of the pokemon, even if internally there's nothing actually different about them, and I think that's what I come back to when thinking about their own POVs, their own perception of that. There's an inherent specialness whether or not there's anything else special about them, and this specialness is pretty much entirely negative on their end, at least by pokeball times. (Reinforced by the flipside: even stories that lay out it's a really terrible idea for one to be caught, it's understood that people will want to catch one and that attempts will happen with at least some regularity.)

Marshadow's pokedex entries include the perspective that they're actually a pretty unimpressive pokemon who's most noteworthy for being good at hiding even by mythical standards and, as a runner-up, copying others because others are better at things than they are. And yet, it doesn't really matter what the pokedex entries say, or what the moveset and stats are, or if there's other legends of more. It's really hard to get, and you gotta catch 'em all.

From that perspective, a strong pokemon of a common species would be so much better off, wouldn't it? But they're just not special.

What was the most fun or interesting part of your story to write?

The middle section, I think. The moment when things seem to be going right, including things he really should've seen as at least a bit bittersweet instead of this perfect triumph.

Also, still fond of the anime name-saying pokemon cries, and getting that to work in text.

Is there anything else you'd like readers to know about your story?

I wanted to do something further about memory and self, but couldn't make it gel.


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"A Voice's Burden" by IFBench
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Links: Judges' Comments


What legendary pokémon did you decide to write about for your entry? What made you want to write about them?

Technically not an official legendary, but I decided to write about the concept of the Voice of Life from Gates to Infinity. PMD has a few concepts that could potentially be legendaries if they were in a mainline game, such as the Bittercold and Dark Matter. However, just like with Shadow Lugia from Gale of Darkness, they're doomed to never be acknowledged by mainline. So I chose my favorite of the mystery dungeon originals, the Voice of Life.

What does "legendary POV" mean to you? What do you think makes legendary pokémon different from all the rest?

Truthfully, I don't know! I just know that the Voice of Life is definitely legendary.

What was the most fun or interesting part of your story to write?

Definitely Ninetales' mentality throughout those long 3000 years. They're so tired, so distraught, so lost. They don't know what they're doing, and just want to see their mentor again. They're all alone, but they're too cowardly to reach out.

Is there anything else you'd like readers to know about your story?

Play Rescue Team DX, Gates to Infinity, and Super Mystery Dungeon for the fullest experience of this oneshot. Also, this oneshot is supposed to be exactly 1000 words. And it's not a coincidence that Ninetales naturally live 1000 years.

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"Wabi-Sabi" by Cresselia92
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Links: Judges' Comments


What legendary pokémon did you decide to write about for your entry? What made you want to write about them?

My chosen pick for the story was the Mirage Mew from the special episode The Mastermind of Mirage Pokémon. I always found that episode extremely underrated, and Mirage Mew made me feel a lot of things when I was much younger. So, I wanted to write my story as a tribute to that hidden gem.

What does "legendary POV" mean to you? What do you think makes legendary pokémon different from all the rest?

Here’s the thing: I don’t believe there is a single “Legendary POV”, y’know. Considering the sheer difference of power levels between legendaries and their relationships with mortals, I wager that each branch of the “hierarchy” has a different set of morals and responsibilities that vary wildly. So, there might not be a difference between legends and mortals, but also between the legends themselves.

I’d say it’s fun to ponder and wonder about the various points of view of the different “classes” of legends. ^^

What was the most fun or interesting part of your story to write?

Definitely Mirage Mew. Since he was created by following the humans’ perception of Mew as a species, there is that dissonance between what mortals think of Mew and what it truly means to be a Mew. This is somewhat explored when he gets to meet a Mew in flesh and blood, which makes him question his own existence and the reason of his creation.

Is he a Mew or an illusion? Will he ever be a real Mew, or is he doomed to pretend to be something he will never be?

Is there anything else you'd like readers to know about your story?

If you like Mew, delving in the complexity of existence, characters who play god and/or happy endings, then this story is definitely for you. It’s a simple dramatic tale with a few fluffy moments and optimistic undertones.


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"The Way to a Legend" by Xeth
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Links: Judges' Comments


What legendary pokémon did you decide to write about for your entry?

Lets stay honest even though i tried to include another legendary, that someone fittingly described that as a handwobble and a handwobble it is. So the Legendary i wrote about was Articuno.

What made you want to write about them?

I didnt want to write about Legendary Pokemon per se. I dont believe that the story of a legend is more interesting than the story any human and pokemon may have. The only thing that makes legendary more interesting are they mystic powers - but in terms in telling a story that makes it even more difficult to write a story that doesn't seem - over the top, or too much with one too strong character.
But i absolutly adore pokemon POV. I love to see a story from the eyes of a pokemon. - So i had to capitalize on this chance to write and get better.

What does "legendary POV" mean to you?

Nothing too special; it was more about the pokemon. That is something rarely seen. A legend. To be so rare that you yourself are a legend is a sad thing in my opinion. I like being alone sometimes, but i like sharing time with others sometimes too. In my opinion a Legendary, is someone who realy needs someone to trust and to depend on - whether they are all powerful or not.

What do you think makes legendary pokémon different from all the rest?

Their rarity? legend is something so rare that one talks about it but has never seen it. So nessi, would be a legendary within our world if it did exist if you get what i mean. Maybe their power too.

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"What Life Has to Offer" by MintyMimix
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Links: Judges' Comments | TR


What legendary pokémon did you decide to write about for your entry? What made you want to write about them?

I chose Eternatus for a few reasons: underdeveloped yet explicitly powerful in canon, is designed to be something alien and not normally comprehended, and its power has potential consequences that I feel like could have been explored more thoroughly in the games. It was a perfect concoction for a xenofic-esque POV and exploring the theme of power not understood by its user or those around them.

What does "legendary POV" mean to you? What do you think makes legendary pokémon different from all the rest?
Legendary" is social construct based on three questions: (1) Is this Pokémon one-of-a-kind, (2) Do they have larger-than-life powers, and (3) Are there myths and legends surrounding them that elevate them to a higher status in the eyes of society?

A "legendary POV" to me then is a work that explores a character that is outside the normal boundaries of society, yet is considered in some capacity to be of a "higher" calibur than their peers — be it power, perspective, or simply because of how others view them. There is some deeper isolation to them tied to their species or birth.

What was the most fun or interesting part of your story to write?
The most fun part of writing my story was trying to frame a parasitic entity as a "misunderstood" protagonist — presenting basic concepts as alien and framing their twisted morality as one that is "just how the universe works" — especially when they have the power to enforce it. That dissonance of whimsical narration with darker undertones is really fun to do.

Is there anything else you'd like readers to know about your story?
Originally, this was not going to be "the" Eternatus that takes place during the events of Sword/Shield. Instead, it was going to visit an original PMD canon and try to square off against other legendaries, but that would have required a bit too much exposition and build-up. Plus, Chairman Rose offered an interesting parallel as someone who "outside" of society with a twisted morality like the protagonist.


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"A Wonderful Leaf Boat" by tomatorade
Second/Third Place Miraidon Flight
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Links: Judges' Comments | TR


What legendary pokémon did you decide to write about for your entry? What made you want to write about them?

I decided to write Latios for my entry. Partly because it connected to another one of my fics, and I thought writing a POV/backstory from that perspective would be interesting. The other part was gravitating to something a little between the big, scary legendaries at the top and those at the bottom who might as well be regular mortals. Latios is pretty cool otherwise—a living jet is strange especially in the world of pokemon where war is something that happened a long time ago rather than just around the corner. Very friendly for a war machine.

What does "legendary POV" mean to you? What do you think makes legendary pokémon different from all the rest?

Mostly, I feel like legendaries have more inherent access to power than the regular pokemon/person out in the world. I think there’s also a disconnect with the power and rarity that puts them at odds with the rest of the world, at least in my headcanon. I like to imagine them as big players caught up in another level of hierarchy that’s similar to the mortal hierarchy they think they’ve transcended. It’s like reading old Greek myths and realizing those gods are just caught up in an elevated soap opera.

What was the most fun or interesting part of your story to write?

I think ‘fun’s’ the wrong word, but I was most excited about the death scene and aftermath. It was a pretty essential part of the fic from my beginning plans, so most of the first half of writing was anticipating that and brainstorming where to take the fic after. I think death is usually a transition point in most stories, but I wanted it more to solidify his connection with the earth and the mortals. It’s not death that changed him, at least not moreso than everything else.

Aside from that, it’s one of those ideas that made me upset to think about, which meant it was something I had to write.

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"Who Really Needs Who" by RJR Basimilus
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Links: Judges' Comments
 
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Negrek

komorebi
Staff
"109" by canisaries

We hate her.

We hate how she laughed in our face.

We hate how she told her friends.

We hate how they shouted after us as we walked.

We hate how the whole village joined them.

We love how we strangled her...


Read the rest: TR

Judge Comments

Chibi Pika

The moment I saw the title of this, I was excited that we got someone doing a take on Spiritomb as a legend. And overall, I think you did a great job with capturing a striking effect with each vengeful soul being added to the pile. It’s very blunt and raw, the hatred digging into the reader, struggling to be contained. So many souls, only kept in balance by that shared hatred… it was almost inevitable that turning that same hatred inward would be their downfall.

It’s interesting how the souls all hated the armored man, but also the living people of the village hated him too (or at least, were willing to execute him). And yet, I doubt the villagers sympathize much with the banished souls since they were the ones who sealed the souls away. So the village is both executing a criminal and imprisoning all his victims! It’s a weird situation.

I was a bit unclear on the significance of the traits listed for the humans and Pokémon that were found and possessed. Some were identified by emotions and some by mere physicality, so it felt a bit arbitrary—adjectives for the sake of having some connection to Pokémon. (And the Pokémon that got possessed didn’t have attributes listed at all, so it sort of just became a list of seemingly random species.)

I also initially thought that the humans and Pokémon that got possessed all had some connection to the spirits’ past lives, and all were lashing out in violent fury totally separately. But then in the end, the traveler finds all the bodies together, which seems less like the spirits being drawn to those people in particular, and more possessing whoever they encountered, a horde that all happened to be in the same place (perhaps the crowd that watched the knight’s execution). It further makes the list of all the possessed humans’ traits feel less important.

The traveler himself is interesting—he taught the village how to imprison souls, so he must have known that it couldn’t last, and that the Spiritomb would unravel eventually. He’s unfazed by all the death, clearly looking for the keystone. Does he realize it no longer holds all the spirits? Does he care? Maybe he intends to use it for something else, perpetuating the cycle of violence and hatred. It’s hard to say because his sequence feels noticeably empty of emotion or purpose. He just shrugs and goes on his way, which makes me lean more toward apathy than malice for him. But if that’s the case, then what did he get out of imprisoning souls and teaching others to do the same, especially now that the souls have all left?

I think some additional clarifying details would have helped strengthen the theme of the cycle of violence (at least, I think that’s the intended theme). Also, I didn’t really get that strong an impression of Spiritomb as a legendary being. A greater focus on the legends surrounding the binding of souls, or an exploration of the loss of their humanity, or the way that they can’t even relate to being human anymore, or the exploration of what it means for a being of pure hatred to exist in the world—any one of these things might have helped it feel a bit more in line with the contest theme, imo.

Still, it’s a very striking piece and conveys a lot of strong emotion in a short time, so well done for that.

HelloYellow17

This one grabbed me right away due to the unique narration and formatting. It’s short, yet packs a punch, and the eerie, malicious tone is VERY vivid.

I admit I had to read this a couple times to fully grasp what was going on, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing or a fault of the writing—it’s meant to be a bit of a chaotic experience, given that this is 109 souls confined in a single space, and it works well, though I did have to reread the end a few times to fully understand what took place.

If i have one criticism, it’s that the ending is a tad confusing—all of the perpetrators and victims-turned-vengeful spirits have been only vaguely talked about, no names given, and suddenly when we meet “the armored man,” there’s a *lot* of specificity to him that made me think I was missing something, at first.

But wow, what a fun take on Spiritomb. It’s fascinating to think about what happens when you try to trap 109 souls, and what an existence even looks and feels like for such a Pokémon. It’s appropriately morbid, dark, and spooky, and the vibes are immaculate. This would make a very good Halloween fic, as well! :copyka: Well done!

lisianthus

The way repetition was used really interesting here... sadly, I'm not too sure if any background knowledge on my part would have helped in figuring out what the overarching plot was here. All in all I did think that it was pretty creative — particularly the colored text, I enjoy it when authors take creative choices like that. I just wish that the plot itself was expanded on a bit more.

Sinderella

Nice, we’ve got a bit of a poetry entry! This was a nice break from all the prose-heavy stories, and it was cool to read something that felt so short and to the point.

I loved the way this story progressed. It seems that whoever our POV characters have really gone through it, with fake friends, unfaithful spouses, slavery…and they combat it all with some murder. I was a big fan of the “We hate” lines eventually segueing into a single “We love” line about some violet murder. It made for a really cool and sudden change of pace through these stanzas (I think they’re stanzas, I’m stupid lol).

Then we start getting into specific names, and what happened to them, and admittedly, I tried to look them all up to see how they might pertain to Pokemon? I ended up with an array of different answers–some names seemed pretty relevant, like how Ayako is apparently Johanna, otherwise known as the mother in Diamond/Pearl/Platinum, or how Hibiki is apparently Ethan in Diamond/Pearl/Platinum (which had me believing this might be Sinnoh related?). But all the other names came up with either nothing, some obscure characters, or literal artists for the TCG. So they must have been just randomly selected names that had no real meaning to the games and were just names mentioned by the POV characters.

I was trying to figure out what the meaning of the colored font was. There was blue, purple, dark blue (?), yellow, gray, red, orange, and green, and I assumed these all corresponded with different legendaries. I thought there was going to be some pattern to them, but say, the yellow color only reoccurred three times while the red showed up five. So I couldn’t quite come up with any noticeable pattern there, nor could I find a way to equate it to the descriptions of the people each POV character found, or the Pokemon they went to.

All in all, I loved how this was written and its progression, but the contest's theme was lost on me. It might just be because I’m an idiot and something very blatant is totally flying over my head, but I did not understand how it tied into the theme of “Legendary POV,” mostly because I was struggling to grasp who’s POV it was at all. I thought it was spiritomb but I kind of lost that feeling in the end. I also had the feeling it was multiple very angry legendaries that caused a war, but the 109 was sticking me to spiritomb. It just took me a while to pinpoint who exactly they were, and that’s where I believe this piece lost its momentum.

I do apologize that it ended up flying over my dumb head. I bet you’ll explain it to me, and it’ll make total sense. It doesn’t subtract from the fact that I loved reading it, though! I would just encourage you to revisit the execution of the “Legendary POV” aspect if you did decide to do any reworks on it. I think it would do the story a lot of good!

Thank you so much for submitting, and congrats!
 
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Negrek

komorebi
Staff
"All in Good Time" by Lord Knee

“Good morning, everyone, and welcome back. I hope y—”

Chairs scraped obnoxiously against the hardwood floor, with students settling in or turning around to talk to their friends. Minute shivers trickled through their bodies, the chill of winter not quite leaving. Puffs of misty vapor fled their mouths as they talked and exchanged stories, hushed whispers fervently flying between the sounds of shuffling papers and clattering pencils. Periodically, a laugh mixed in whenever it deemed appropriate, high-pitched and deep tones blending together to make a bustling sound.

Bookbags were repositioned on the floor, clanging against desk legs without much care, the old wood quaking a bit. A few stumbled in a couple minutes late, snow falling off their coats as they grumbled on by, sneezing occasionally. And when the classroom door finally shut, and everyone was mostly situated, the chatter did not lessen. It only increased, the students forgetting where they were for the time being.

“Hey, could I borrow your notes for next class?” someone asked. “I completely forgot about the over break assignment, and of course, I forgot my notes at home...”

“I guess... but that thing was like — ten pages long. I don’t know how you’re gonna finish it in time...”


Judge Comments

Chibi Pika

This is a cute little story about kids learning the value of time, but unfortunately, I found myself wondering what it was going for throughout most of its runtime. We spend a lot of time going through the worries and concerns of the schoolkids, but most of it doesn’t seem to have very much to do with time, or taking time for granted. There’s the one kid late with their assignment, but that’s a bit of a stretch, and not likely to have resulted from taking time for granted.

The focal point of the fic is, of course, the story about Dialga, and I have mixed feelings on how it’s presented. On the one hand, there’s a lot of interesting insights into just what the fledgling god of time had to deal with before they could properly rule their domain. But on the other… I can’t help being confused by the fact that the writings seem to be from Dialga’s own POV. An actual firsthand account. Were these historical writings written by someone who had spoken directly to the creation trio, or otherwise felt like they had some connection to them? It’s all very personal details of what Dialga was thinking and feeling—almost like he gave his life story to humanity at some point. It’s definitely not what I’d expect to be in a history book, that’s for sure, and I’m surprised it wasn’t addressed.

It’s also a bit strange that the teacher knows the exact reason behind all of Dialga’s actions and limitations at that point, like stating with such certainty that any uncertainty at any point would have led to time unraveling.

(Minor note, but I normally associate capitalizing words like Teacher with a way of calling attention to them, for example, a young child’s POV capitalizing to make them sound Very Important or to otherwise make something feel like a title even if it wouldn’t normally be. The omniscient narration didn’t seem to be calling attention to it, though, leaving me wondering what the purpose was.)

I can’t help but get the feeling that the framing device was a bit unnecessary. The prose was generally nice, but the long blocks of unbroken dialogue had no tags, no actions, and very little relevance to the story’s theme. There’s some cute banter and some of it sort of tied back into the theme, but a lot of the conversation felt aimless. It feels like this would be much better suited to a folktale, or Dialga sharing his own life story to a listener who had not been appreciating time, assuming that everything would just work out eventually with no forethought (and Dialga sharing his own experience to caution against that).

HelloYellow17

Well this was a fun, unique take on Pokémon POV! Let’s dive in to some of my favorite aspects:

I found a lot of elements here quite charming, and you did an excellent job establishing the atmosphere and vibes of the setting. I felt like I was sitting right there in that chilly room with the students, listening to the teacher as the snow fell outside. It gave me literal old-school vibes, too, like back in the 1800s when school buildings were just one room and the only heating option was a fireplace. It feels like a simpler time period, somehow, and in a way it made me strangely nostalgic for those school days when my biggest worry was the next homework assignment and how I would spend my winter break and if the snow was sticky enough for me to build a snowman. ? The best way I can describe the vibes here is that it feels like comfort food, and I really enjoy that.

As for the story itself, I like that this is Dialga’s POV without actually being from his POV. It also tackles a complicated concept—the taming and shaping of time itself—and presents it in a visual, almost storybook kind of way. I like that Dialga gaining control of time and learning to use his powers wasn’t something that just happened—it was a whole journey of self-discovery and humility.

There are some things that didn’t quite land for me, though. I can’t help but feel like something is missing here, something that could have given the story a little more impact. For one, the way this story is delivered, with a teacher presenting to the class, can very easily feel more like an exposition dump than a story, which is the tricky part about writing in this literal storytelling format. The fact that the teacher and none of the students are given any names is another thing that makes it feel a bit distant. I think I’d have enjoyed it if we got to know the students a little more personally beyond being a vessel for the audience to hear this story.

Maybe student A is struggling with self doubt, and student B has major decision paralysis, and student C is feeling pessimistic about their future. Granted, we did get some hints of this, with a student swiping another classmate’s scarf for a snowman, and another student debating on moving to another school…but these little background details don’t feel connected with Dialga’s story, and feel a little more like fluffy side content instead. With some tweaks, you can probably find ways to make them more directly parallel Dialga’s own struggles, which will help the whole story feel a bit more cohesive!

So with all that said, I did enjoy this cozy one-shot. It makes me want to settle down in a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate or a bowl of soup. :) I think there’s some untapped potential here for it to stand out just a bit more, to feel a little more personal to the reader and carry more emotional impact, and for it to feel more like a journey—not just for Dialga, but for the students and, by extension, the reader, too. If you do end up tweaking it later, I’d love to see what becomes of it! This is a lovely piece that I can find myself returning to when I want to feel warm and comforted. Well done!

lisianthus

God, I really really really loved this one. Maybe it's because i haven't been in a non-college setting for a while, but it really took me back to the (somewhat) rare times that big discussions took place in school. Having a whole class essentially united in the pursuit of knowledge certainly feels like such a magical thing, and I feel like this fic captured it very nicely. The speech itself felt lifelike and granted small looks into daily life in the area (Sinnoh is a cold cold region of course..), and the myth described was not only detailed, but told very nicely. (I wonder how the textbook 'knew' how Dialga thought...? Maybe it was the writer lol..)

Although the only Legendary Pokémon 'present' in it was only discussed through the textbook, the humanizing of it by the students was a joy to see, in a way. It was a unique way of using our prompt of having the the POV of a Pokémon — through not only being told through another character, but by another written work entirely! Super neat stuff!

Sinderella

Simply put, I thought this one-shot was SO creative! I didn’t know what to think of the whole idea that this was a story being told to children and how Dialga was just a character in a story within a story, but honestly, you pulled it off remarkably well. I was a big fan of the transitions between “here is the story of Dialga!” and the students trying to comprehend what they were reading. It made for some really nice, I don’t know, juxtaposition that kept me engaged in the story.

Also, you are just galaxy-brained, because the ways in which you were able to equate different concepts of time to what Dialga themself and what the children were feeling throughout the story was like…mind boggling. I took so many notes, I was so impressed. The concept of equating “time” to “emotion” (“I don’t have time” being equated to stress is like GENIUS, who even are you?????) was just so neat, and I know it was just a small part of the story but it really resonated with me! I really enjoyed how the student’s whole outlook on time and life in general seemed to change at the end of the lesson. Things that were an issue at the beginning of the story were suddenly not as pressing toward the end, and how time somehow looped back into the issues. Take your time finding me a new scarf, I won’t move just yet I’ll stay here with you in the meantime, there’s no time for that assignment but I’ll help you, etc. Just some really cool interplay happening here that I was insanely fond of.

In terms of critique, I think my biggest suggestion would be to go back and tweak the dialogue. A lot of the banter between the students felt a little “on the nose.” Lines like “Or trudge through feets of snow... no matter how normal that is” did read as very realistic dialogue to me, it just felt like the students were written saying those things just to get a point across. And while I understand the need for that, there are ways to do it without having someone blatantly say “X is normal and I do it every day.” You could tweak that one line to something like “I know I hike through mounds of snow every day but that doesn’t mean I enjoy it” or something along those lines.

All in all, I really enjoyed this story. Thank you so much for writing it and sending it to me to read, and congrats on the entry!
 

Negrek

komorebi
Staff
"Darkrai's Eyes" by BossCar

Kroonstad, 1635.

The late morning sun beams its rays down upon the Alkmaardam region's largest city, the sky poked by the spire of a imposing cathedral. Vaporeon happily swin throughout the canals, several approaching passerbys to receive pets. Ships come and go from the harbor, they are the building blocks of the trading network that has made the city thrive. The vessels that have docked are having their goods unloaded by groups of Machamp, the crewmen welcomed back as great champions. Not even the Gyarados in the distance can deter them, for they have trekked the mighty waters into the unknown.

Many of the buildings have a sober exterior, bricks being the most common material used for their construction. The streets and avenues range from compact to wide, all packed with crowds that flow like a river. Those who wish to battle must go to one of the several public arenas, the edges of the city, or outside of the city. One such battle, an aerial clash between a Talonflame and Pidgeot, occurs in the distance. Children point and run to catch a glimpse of the avians, marveling at the two Pokémon's majestic movements.

A number of people, plus several Machop and Machoke, scour the massive market like a pack of Houndour and Houndoom. They pick up and purchase various amounts of asparagus, artichokes, cheese, butter, peaches, olive oil, and other edibles commonly found in the local cuisine. Cobblers and candlemakers are deep into their craft, whereas the aroma of bread and biscuits exit the ovens of bakers and beckon both people and Pokémon.

Beyond the market, the more affluent browse the booksellers and the art dealers, filled with the finest written and visual arts possible. The wealthiest of them all are split, some flock there while others flock towards the exotic emeralds, the glittering diamonds, the exquisite ceramics, and the tempting spices sold by both Kalosian and Paldean merchants. Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that these goods originated in distant, mysterious regions whose names have never passed through their ears. Where is this Hoenn located? What are these lands called Unova and Calvana like? Who is this Kyurem that is spoken of in Unova?

But the distant land that has gathered the most interest is the one called Johto. Local explorers proudly relive their voyages to the furthest corners of the world through the power of words, mesmerizing countless people and Pokémon with tales of encountering interesting people and their customs...


Read the rest on: AO3 | TR

Judge Comments

Chibi Pika

And here we have the story of a legend that doesn’t want to be associated with his domain. It’s interesting that Darkrai doesn’t know about the time that he afflicted people with nightmares, and even wonders if another Darkrai was responsible for that reputation. It certainly implies that the effect is unconscious and unintentional. Does he cause nightmares now, or are people holding a grudge for something that happened in the past? I’d like to have seen some of that discrimination directly rather than be told about it after the fact—it would make it feel more real.

The opening has a lot of lush details for the city but it ended up feeling detached from the rest of the story—like this is equal parts worldbuilding blurb and one-shot stitched together. I think a simple way to make those details feel more impactful if they were connected to Darkrai—as in, these are all the beauties of his home that he delights in seeing, and even the mundane details hold wonder to him—part of the reason why he can’t bear to be cut off from the city. It could also be a connection point to the main theme—he sees the beauty in all parts of his home, but it takes the power of art for him to see beauty in himself.

There were a handful of prose errors, some comma splices, and some awkward sentence construction like starting consecutive independent clauses with “but.” One line in particular that tripped me up was:

He is unable to prevent the tiresome repetition of his cynical outlook,

This sounds a bit like it’s referring to himself viewing things cynically, and not other people viewing him in a cynical manner.

It’s interesting that the Pokémon of the city don’t view Darkrai with disdain while the humans do. I would’ve liked to know why that is. As well as why the Pokémon of the household treat him more kindly—is it just because of their trainer? Speaking of their trainer, I’m curious how Darkrai came to reside with Rembrandt, if he was the only one to offer him a home. A painting hints at reminding him of how he came to meet Rembrandt, but I’d like to know!

In the end, Darkrai comes to accept his domain, but I think it would have been good to explore how being the emperor of the night might necessarily overlap with nightmares. Perhaps by giving people the ability to steel their heart by facing their fears in a safe manner. Learning to overcome fear and face it can be helpful, after all. It can also be inspiring, and giving people a safe outlet to face those fears in battle is certainly a worthy domain.

Overall, I think the story felt a bit aimless. It’s essentially just Darkrai feeling sadge, seeing the painting, and feeling a new purpose. I think a more impactful way to structure it would be something like starting with a firsthand account of the people in the town avoiding him, the Pokémon not feeling the same disdain, but following in the suit of their trainers just because. And then maybe someone in his family trying to convey to him that he has worth, but Darkrai not really getting it until he sees the painting. ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ and all that. I could easily see their words failing to sink in but the art gripping him. Art has the power to shape the subject in the mind of the viewer, to humanize its subjects. This appears to be the main theme of the piece, and I think these changes might help that theme shine more effectively.

HelloYellow17

To start off, this fic really excels in the setting department. The opening scene was beautiful, full of life, and very vividly depicted. I especially enjoyed the slice-of-life moments of the Pokémon world we get to see throughout the story—Machoke unloading cargo, Glaceon helping her trainer sort jewels, and so on. It felt very much like a Pokémon world in this sense, and I loved that!

I will say, though, that there were times that the descriptions and particularly the art references went a bit overboard. There seemed to be more references to famous artists than plot elements, and the story appeared to be having a hard time which it wanted to focus on more. As a result, the plot suffers, because the pacing is drastically slowed—even disrupted—by the narrative constantly pausing to name drop artists and describe the specific paintings and the arts in general. (Though I admit the little cameo/shoutout to Mew under the truck got a chuckle out of me, heh.)

As for theme application, while it does work, and I find the moral of the story very sweet, I found myself wanting more from Darkrai. I wanted to see more about how his legendary existence played a role in the story. Why was he taken in by Rembrandt? Why do the people in this region not know of Kyurem or Reshiram, but seem to know all about Darkrai, to the point of there being widespread societal prejudice? I think my biggest criticism here is that you could easily replace Darkrai with, say, Absol, and the story remains pretty much completely unchanged. So the fact that Darkrai is a legendary Pokémon doesn’t seem to have that big of an impact overall.

However, I did really enjoy that Darkrai came to find new courage himself—Rembrandt helped him, but it was Darkrai who made the connection that maybe not everyone actually dislikes him, and it was not Rembrandt standing up for him and fixing all of his insecurities for him. That was a nice change of pace!

Overall you have a very solid foundation here, with a real knack for scene setting and painting a vivid picture with words. My advice is to make sure not to get too caught up in that, however, and to strike a balance between plot and scene details. :)

lisianthus

What an interesting setting, genuinely. It came extremely out of the blue but god, it worked very well. Pokémon has really only been explored up to the Meiji period (late 1800s Japan, a time where Japan underwent rapid Westernization), and taking a look at a time not only before then, but also not in a Japan region — particularly one based on a place with rich history and culture — is a very nice thing to see. And I do think that it's a particularly... I suppose rare or out of the ordinary thing to see a Legendary Pokémon living a normal (as can be) life, together with humans. Obviously one sees it a lot with standard Pokémon, but not ever really with venerated and powerful creatures such as Legendaries and Mythicals. I've quickly learned that I'm a bit of a sucker for that kind of story! This story was full of rich, rich culture behind the plot and it honestly has left me wanting for much much more about it in the future. The worldbuilding was absolutely fantastic fantastic fantastic here.

Sinderella

I was really excited to read this one! The plot really had me hooked, as I love all things art and how a setting like this might have looked with Pokemon in it. I loved the concept of bringing in actual historical painters and have them interact with Pokemon, especially one like Darkrai. Just a really cool concept with some really interesting lore opportunities.

I do have some critiques that would make this story function a lot better with its cool premise. My most glaring piece of crit is that the prose didn’t really do much to propel the story forward. The descriptive language was very nice, and it was very clear that a lot of thought went into the setting and all of the backing lore behind it, but there was too much focus on that backing lore and not enough focus on the action pushing the story forward. In short, there was a lot of “telling” and not a lot of “showing,” which I think was the major detriment to this story.

We got a whole dissertation on the town and the painters themselves and how they interacted outside the realm of the tale itself, and very little actual action. There were explanations about how the townspeople cowered away from Darkrai’s presence, but not enough showing of it actually happening. It seemed the main focus was getting all the historical backing in, which, while perfectly fine in moderation, led me to getting lost in the prose, and in the end, I was unable to grasp what the entire point of the story was. It didn’t get to the overall “meaning” fast enough.

This is a really cool concept, and I do firmly believe that there is something here that has the makings to be a fantastic one-shot! I would encourage you to do some reworking, where you really sit and figure out what it is you're focusing on, and try to drill the concept of “show, don’t tell” into your writing. Thank you so much for submitting this, and congrats on the entry!
 
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Negrek

komorebi
Staff
"The face of time, the will of wishes and eternal immortality." by Myler714

This is Jirachi, transcribing my thoughts into crystals, yet again. I do this every time I wake up, in the hopes that some day, someone will be able to read them. I haven’t yet seen any evidence that that has ever happened, but I can hope, can’t I? Anyway, this is day seven of seven, I’ve said good night to the Pokémon who were keeping me company this time.

As always, I begin with my life history. I am as old as the Earth. When the moon crashed into our magma covered prehistoric world, I was one of only a few cosmic Pokémon who was awakened to the eternal struggle that is Earth.

Some of the other Pokémon I met for seven days after I was created, were Rayquaza, Deoxys, Mew, Celebi, Manaphy, and Arceus. I was told meeting up with some of them in another thousand years, that there were many more ancient legendary and mythical Pokémon that came to be at that time. Some of those Pokémon continue to exist today, and some don’t. I’ve met some of those, waking up and realizing I’d never see them again, it hurt at first, but I only wake for seven days every thousand years, it’s pointless to waste that time being sad…

The first 1,000,000 wake cycles life was really boring. None of the Pokémon I had met the first time I was awake knew where to find me while I was awake. Heck I couldn’t even tell you where I was! The Earth was a mess of lava, rock and mineral. Not a turn off to a steel type, but compared to the rainbow of life in recent times, very boring...


Judge Comments

bluesidra

Oh, hello paleo-poke-tube. What an interesting take on the history of the earth.

Imagining poke-earth in its infancy where only legendaries as the incarnation of their elements could be around is such a fascinating thought. Kyogre and Gourdon must have had such a wild time during the hadean. Okay, yes, it’s pretty boring, but to those two it would have been a daily “KYAAAARGH!”

As a story, this one-shot is much more a rundown of historic events, which in and off itself is already very creative. It is well-written, with very little typos and the like (there’s a “the” missing before the “age of oceans”). It doesn’t tell a story though, and is much more a contemplation on earth’s history. Which is perfectly fine, especially for what a swift read it is.

If you wanted to branch out more into a narrative direction with this, you could have expanded on that one family a bit. Maybe they kept this Jirachi as a family heirloom and so Jirachi would see their development and the holocene with them as an anchorpoint. But that’s just a suggestion. This little story is good the way it currently is. A nice, little, brief reading experience with our favorite little star child.

Dragonfree

I was immediately intrigued to see this was a story about Jirachi's experience, exploring the implications of an immortal being that awakens for seven days every thousand years, living through all of history via short glimpses of each individual era. That's a really neat concept to go for, and very appropriate for this contest!

There's a fun sense of scale here, with Jirachi casually recounting the literal millions of wake-ups before Earth even has any interesting life on it. The Ice Age happens in what's a blink of an eye to Jirachi, and from one wake-up to another a miracle granting one family riches has created a powerful dynasty with people who run the gamut from nice, kind people to power-hungry bastards, leaving Jirachi to deal with the consequences. (Though a thousand years is a long, long time in human generations - by the second wakeup the original family's descendants would number like fifty million people forty generations removed from the family Jirachi met previously, so Jirachi even recognizing these specific humans as descendants of the family they met previously may be a bit of a stretch!) Meanwhile, Jirachi was initially sad to realize they would never see most of those they spent their seven days with again, but over time it all blurs and they don't spend their time being sad anymore. These are interesting contemplations on power, immortality, human nature and the butterfly effect that were fun to tackle here.

I did find the structure and way the story was told to hinder its effectiveness in conveying its themes a bit, though. In the first half we spend a while just sort of recounting a Pokémonized basic timeline of the evolution of life on Earth, which is definitely some interesting history, but within the context of the story, it feels a little dry and doesn't tell us all that much about how Jirachi experiences the world. And at the end, Jirachi catches up with the present day but then continues by sort of aimlessly describing their legendary Pokémon friends, which feels similarly not quite like it gives us very much insight into Jirachi's legendary Pokémon perspective or is very related to the rest of the story - it feels a little strange there, like an odd tangent added onto the end.

And Jirachi is telling us about all this after the fact, summarizing things briefly and offhandedly, which doesn't give us a lot of time to get emotionally invested or really feel the weight of these events; we're just told that they happened, and it goes by in a bit of a blur. I think it would have been fascinating to see Jirachi's encounter with the initial human family and the later thousand-years-later encounter with their descendants written out more fully, exploring Jirachi's state of mind as this was all happening further - Jirachi's escape with Jezebel from those who wanted to abuse their power in particular sounds like an exciting scene, but we're only told about it in in a couple of sentences as it is, so we don't quite get to feel that excitement!

So all in all, I thought this was a fascinating subject drawing out interesting themes, but I would have like to see it flesh out those themes and be more focused on what's relevant to the story's core subject matter. It was a very cool, ambitious thing to tackle, though!

Flyg0n

I really enjoyed the concept of exploring the world through the eyes of Jirachi, who is only awake for a few days every thousand years! It’s a fun way to give us an insight into the history of a world, and of how it developed. Also, I think I detected a possible reference to the Jirachi movie?

I like the thought put into how the world developed and changed, and the sort of nonchalant way Jirachi records them. They are saddened at times by the behavior of humans, but doubtless they will not meet the same ones once they sleep again.

I think this was a very cute story, but I was left hoping for a little more from it, maybe some extra depth into Jirachi’s character. Overall, it felt a little more like a history book about the pokemon world, with footnotes alluding to some canon-adjacent events. I didn’t quite get as clear a sense of a story, even an internal one, from Jirachi.

I would love to see this expanded upon, with more insight into how Jirachi is unique among legends and a little more depth or arc to their character and growth; whether positive or negative. Overall, I found it pleasant, just slightly lacking in a sense of plot and purpose.

Negrek

Hey, Myler! I'm filling in for auspicious here; feel free to reach out to him for informal feedback if you'd like. My opinion was not considered when scoring the entries, but I wanted to be sure you got as many reviews as everyone else.

I really love how you leaned into the concept of immortality in this one-shot and really considered how it would change someone's perspective on the world. Jirachi is an extra-unique case, as not only do they live for literally millions of years, they're also asleep for the vast, vast majority of that time. Beyond the usual immortal's dilemma of forming attachments to people who will all die long before they (never) do, Jirachi gets only the briefest flash of connection with anyone before they're off on another thousand-year slumber, and any mortal they may have interacted with during their last brief awakening will be long gone. And what's funny is, even only being awake for seven days out of every thousand years, when you add up those seven days a few million times over, Jirachi has still been alive and conscious for a very, very long time, far longer than any mortal. Normal logic kind of goes out the window when you're talking about such incredibly large spans of time, and I think you captured that well here.

I also enjoyed how you worked to integrate real-world concepts with the pokémon world as Jirachi recounted their history. You have the rise and fall of different kinds of animals and pokémon, big geological events, and then even the events of the Jirachi movie! I loved the little details, like the way you tried to divide up the Gen IX past paradox pokémon into groups based on which would most likely be alive at any particular point in time--insofar as logic can have any place in Pokémon history! I can tell you put a lot of care and thought into constructing a deep-history timeline of the pokémon world, and it was a lot of fun seeing all the small details you placed to make it come to life.

The downside of taking such a sweeping view of a character's history, of course, is that you don't have a lot of time to devote to any one person or event. Ultimately this one-shot is basically a list of Jirachi's observations, first concerning what happened during their various wake cycles and then ending with a list of their friends. It overall reads pretty dispassionate, more just a recounting of facts rather than a reflection on their long life. Which I think is appropriate, to some extent; Jirachi seems like a generally pretty distant pokémon. Their catastrophically sleepy nature means that they can't get super attached to almost anyone, since they'll be long dead by the next time they awake, and any particular event isn't likely to have much impact on them, since they're immortal and will promptly sleep it off. However, a dry list of facts doesn't necessarily make for the most engaging reading.

What I think it would have helped me get into the story more if you'd picked out a few of the significant events in Jirachi's life to recount in more detail--show us some of the people they're meeting, show us their reaction to the world suddenly being coated in ice, show us how they were feeling during the Jirachi movie timeline--that sort of thing. As it is, having an extensive list of things that happened means that nothing in particular has emphasis, nothing in particular stands out, and as a reader the format began to feel a bit repetitive; the various events blurred together. It's also usuallye easier for readers to connect with depictions of characters than with descriptions of their relationships--so including a scene with Mew or the Swords of Justice, for example, would probably let people understand Jirachi's relationship with them better than reading a summary of what it was like. One place where you put more detail than normal was the episode with the family who initially asked for wealth, and where Jirachi later woke up among their descendants--that's the kind of thing I'm talking about, in terms of choosing a scene out to emphasize. More of that, please!

Ultimately, the question is, what do you want to show about Jirachi through this story? What would you like the reader to take away? Depending on your answer there, you could choose different episodes (or people) from Jirachi's life to pull out and highlight in order to convey your message.

On another note, there were a fair number of typos, sentence construction issues, and other technical errors throughout this story. Another pass at proofreading, or maybe looking for some beta feedback, might help you clean things up a bit. A little more care in smoothing out the prose would help this story read a bit easier.

In the end you did more with the concept of immortality than I think any of the other entries did, and I dig it. A bit more in-the-moment action would have livened the story up for me, but I love that you took on such an ambitious sweep of time. Thanks for entering, and I hope you had fun writing for the contest!
 

Negrek

komorebi
Staff
"Free to a Loving Home" by Ambyssin

You are MC-TF-001.

Today is activation day fifty.

You sit patiently on a cold, white, steel floor, watching your pack of white coat meatbags— no, humans intently. C://PACK/SHORT_BLACK_FUR praises you for not believing the pack is malnourished. It took five overwhelming days, but your C://SYSTEM/MEM_DRIVE successfully incorporated the data on human appearances.

You did not push your food tray toward your packmates and they did not respond with laughter. You dwell on this success, until your bulky tail wags and its studded crystals scrape the metal floor.

The pack stares disapprovingly. You sink onto your belly until they return to talking amongst themselves.

Your surroundings seem no different than the previous forty-nine days: bright monitors with colorful bars and circles — the term "graph" emerges from your MEM_DRIVE as it always does — and various metal and glass doors that house your pack's tools. When your eyes pass over a large, gray wire network vaguely shaped like your head, your fur stands on end. You hope today is not a day where the pack will force the wires on you.

... No. Be confident. Today is not a wireframe day. You are doing great. Your pack is proud of you...


Read the rest: TR

Judge Comments

auspicious

Oh! Silvally! I was quite excited to see if anyone would do Silvally.

Off the bat, this strikes me as quite well-polished. The prose is tight and the internal monologue is very charming and cute. Made me smile :). This also definitely strikes me as inhuman, and later in the piece, really makes you feel how out of place a synthetic pokemon like Silvally must feel. The code/file names for the RKS System in the first half was also a fun touch.

The reveal that this is actually Galar, and not Alola or one of the original Silvallys was a bit surprising, but I thought it was a pretty novel subversion of expectations - or at least mine, because I thought this was Alola for a little bit.

The ending was super sweet - the fakeout with Leon did catch me a little off-guard/threw me off - but I really liked Zippy and Gloria, and it was a good, neat resolution to Buddy’s character arc.

I do have a few minor complaints:

- I feel like there should be better systems in place for adopting out pokemon? Having Buddy literally sit outside with a sign around their necks did break my immersion a little, I stopped mid-read and had to wonder why Galar didn’t have a better pokemon adoption/rehoming system - it does make for a cute title drop, but it feels like it was a gimmick just for that, almost?

- The transition to Buddy feeling like a freak/like they don’t belong is a little abrupt. It happens right after they find out they’re different from other pokemon on the TV, and the immediacy strikes me as odd? Especially since they see the other silvally with a trainer. If they know there are others of their kind, shouldn’t it make them feel more like they belong, not less?

Overall I really liked this! Very heartwarming and cute. Great job!

bluesidra

Omg, it’s been a while since I audibly awwww’ed to a fic, or that I got tears in my eyes. What a wholesome story 😭 I already had goosebumps when Leon came back with Gloria, and then their name is Zippy? ZIPPY? OMG!!!!

Which is triple the excitement because during the episode where not-yet-Buddy thought about what an abomination he was, I thought about the Galar-Fossil-mons and what crimes against nature their existence is. To see them come back so unexpectedly! I never thought one of them would be the cherry on top of such a wholesome ending.

Well, not all was wholesome here, of course. Seems you can’t have a Type:Null without some angst. But that was some quality level angst we got there. This little fella did not have it as physically bad as Gladion’s Type:Null (I assume), but it was heartbreaking nevertheless. It was nice to see him genuinely enjoy working out and taking on challenges, not because it makes his pack happy, but because he likes it, was so refreshing. In general, his sense of “self-worth” is admirable. For him to, unprompted, decide he is an individual worth having a happy life just like that is something I always struggle with, no matter the context.

On a personal note, big thank you for being kind to Leon. I was super tense when I noticed this was about Galar, and about Rose, but you’ve done my boy some justice here. And even though I can’t stand Gloria and Victor in particular, as soon as Gloria got a little more screen time, I liked her more and more. (screams in the distance) ...and she’s called them ZIPPY!. But yes, funnily enough Gloria having a soft spot for artificially created (and messed up by their human creators) pokemon gives her this little edge of personality that most player characters so severely lack.
The explanation about the industrial espionage and the mask makes so much sense, I’m bedazzled.

I’m a little sad that Sweatsuit didn’t adopt our friendo though. I was rooting for him to come around to her very distanced form of caring. Because I did have the feeling she was personally invested in getting Type:Null a loving home. She just had her own reservations about him, that he probably could have overcome was he in a better mindset. Well, okay, she’s not an active league participant, so our little buddy would have been pretty bored with her. Nevertheless. I’m wishing all the best to Sweatsuit. May she have a happy life. And Buddy all the battles in the world.

(...distant screaming) ...and they’re called ZIPPY!

Dragonfree

The Silvally narrator here is a joy to read, so incredibly sincere but simplistic in thought. The buildup is super cute and endearing, and it's very easy to care about them and what's going to happen to them. You really got across this sense of cute playfulness and innocent desire to please coupled with persistent lowkey anxiety, and the descriptions of their sense of fun in particular are really joyful and on point. What a good pure chimera who just wants to do good for their pack.

I was kind of surprised by how quickly they wound up turning against their former pack, after the buildup about that being how they think of the scientists. All they saw on the TV was Rose/Tackysuit (why isn't his designation in the narration a capitalized variable like everyone else's?) being disparaging, but they don't even hesitate before immediately dismissing all of their old packmates who aren't him as liars who never cared - even completely ignoring PINK_PONYTAIL as she does everything she can to stop LEADER from euthanizing them. In their position I feel like I'd be in denial a little bit, figure it's just Rose who's the bad guy here, and then that maybe Rose and LEADER are but PINK_PONYTAIL is good and trying to help - but they seem to extremely easily conclude they were simply all bad and nobody cares about them, despite their prior loyalty and current active evidence to the contrary. It wasn't a huge thing but it did give me pause a bit.

I was kind of confused and not entirely convinced by what happens after they get taken away from Macro Cosmos in general, though. You've made a point of how PINK_PONYTAIL seems well-intentioned, which makes it feel strange that she would just slap the helmet on them without a reassuring word, even if (I'm assuming, even though it's not really suggested in the story itself) she thinks it's the only way to stop them from having destructive panic attacks. Silvally is already known in this world, what with Gladion being on TV with one, and there have been news broadcasts about how Rose wanted to manufacture more because they're the perfect Pokémon to sell and wealthy trainers will fall over themselves to get one - but for some reason now nobody wants the narrator, even when they're being given away for free? I can't make any sense of everyone shunning them and giving them dirty looks - it feels kind of like an unreliable narrator thing, like they're just imagining that, but the fact nobody actually takes them despite the sign seems to suggest nobody does want to raise a Silvally, for some reason. Why? How is Silvally so unforgivably freaky, in a world where there are so many much freakier-looking Pokémon? Why are Leon and Gloria the only people who'll even look at them?

I also felt this section of the story dragged a bit, especially since the narrator's internal monologue loses its naïve charm here in favor of a stream of bleak pessimism and bitterness and self-flagellation that feels a little repetitive and melodramatic. I think this part could have been shortened a fair bit without negatively impacting the story - but also, I think this all might work better if there was more emphasis on the narrator's violent panic attacks in particular as the driver of why it's so difficult to find them a trainer, assuming that's the intent - as it is they're so deemphasized that I didn't even realize until the second read that that might be it. Imagine if PINK_PONYTAIL explained to them that she's really sorry but they need to put the helmet on so they won't hurt people; if we were told people have heard they attacked people and that's why people are hesitant to be their trainer, out of fear rather than disdain; if maybe there were people who showed interest but Sweatsuit wouldn't entrust them to just anyone; if their self-esteem issues were more about worrying they really are dangerous and unfit for companionship than the nonspecific perception that they're 'a freak'. I think that'd make this whole bit hit harder and feel more real!

All that said, the charm picks up quickly again once the narrator is with Gloria; the scene with Zippy is adorable, and it's extremely sweet that Gloria thinks of introducing her new chimera Pokémon to one who's a little similar, in their own way. The ending is super heartwarming, Gloria is really good, and I wish the best for Buddy now that they finally have a new pack. The ending is just really lovely, again bringing out all these good little details that sell the POV.

I'm feeling some hesitation about how to class this story as a legendary POV, because while this story definitely has a very strong sense of POV, and Silvally is technically officially classified as a legendary Pokémon, this story feels like it rather leans away from the things that make Silvally legendary. This isn't a story about Silvally's awesome power or role as a Beast Killer imitation of Arceus - it's about a naïve experimental Pokémon created to be sold to regular mundane trainers, one that apparently no one wants or cares for until Gloria gives them a chance. If anything it's a story that would kind of make more sense if they were a less legendary Pokémon! That's not a bad thing for the story itself, but I do think it hurts its relevance to the theme a bit - this feels somewhat less like a story that speaks to what it is like to be a legendary Pokémon than some of the other entries. That's definitely something quite ambiguous and debatable, though, and it's not at all unreasonable you wrote this for the theme!

One minor nitpick that struck me: when the scientists call the narrator "ready for market", it feels odd to me that despite them having no idea what that means until they internally look up the word "market", they immediately jump to the conclusion that they're the goods that are about to be sold, instead of simply that they're ready to visit the market with the pack, which would surely be a more straightforward interpretation given they clearly don't recognize the connotations of the specific phrase "ready for market".

All in all, I think you've got a lovely first half and ending featuring an incredibly adorable Silvally who is heartbreakingly easy to root for, but are dragged down a bit by the chunk in between. I really did enjoy the narrator a lot, though, and I think it wouldn't take much at all to tighten it up.

Flyg0n

I found this story to be absolutely exceptionally well-written. The prose, the vocabulary, and the POV all meld seamlessly to create a stunning work of xenofiction that pulls me right in from the start. There’s enough ‘unfamiliar’ elements to our POV Type:Null that they feel alone in this world of theirs, yet but enough context clues to understand where they are and what they’re talking about, which is a very hard balance to strike. Once I sat down to read this, it kept my attention the whole way through.

The build up to the ending, the oscillating between hope and despair, and then finally finding a good home with the Galar MC was touching, and deeply memorable. Even now just thinking about it makes me happy.

I think the only part I got caught on, sadly, was its relation specifically to legendaries as a theme. I struggled to grasp what made Type:Null specifically legendary, or how their perspective felt on the level of a legendary pokemon. They definitely felt alien to the world, and I think the story captures how it felt to be unloved and viewed as a product. But not quite how a Null fits into the schema of legendary status; either in scope or power or role.

Ultimately I want to say this fic is quite nearly perfect — as a short-story about the origins of Null and definitely a personal favorite - just not one that quite hit the theme this year for me. But oh my, please do publish this for the world to see, it is superb. The love and care you have for Null as a character and pokemon oozes from this story, I can tell you gave it a ton of thought.
 
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Negrek

komorebi
Staff
"From the Ashes" by Flyg0n
First Place Koraidon Flight

Endless desert dunes sprawled before us; an unbroken sea of sand. In the distance rocky canyons gutted the land like reefs, and a dark mountain split the horizon, smoke pouring from the mouth. Together we soared across this expanse, the winds carrying us like currents through an invisible sea.

A silver soul and a golden heart. Brother and sister, two apart and yet together we were whole. Just as east and west have no border, nor did our spirits. We were wanderers, destined to cross the lands and seas for all of time, protecting the fragile world. We were bound to no one, and we were free.

We are Lugia and Ho-Oh.

And we had no home.

This was by design, my sister believed. But in the depths of my soul, I did not agree.

While my sister watched the sky, I watched the land below. A movement among the dunes caught my eyes, one not caused by the ceaseless winds and shifting sands.


Humans.

Read the rest: AO3 | TR

Judge Comments

Chibi Pika

On my first readthough of this fic, I barely managed any notes at all. That’s how completely and utterly it captured my attention.

This is what it means to be a legend. This is the tale of two wandering gods coming to love mortals, feeling the deepest hurt and betrayal and lashing out in impotent anger and violence, and then… choosing to love again.

It all starts from a simple seed—Lugia admiring the persistence of the humans—and risking himself to get close enough to observe them firsthand. It’s only by getting close to them that he could ever learn from them. Learn how they support and care for one another despite being weak.

There’s Ho-oh dismissing the value of anything temporary when thinking of human settlements being so easily destroyed, and that carries over to her view of death, and temporary life being less than the promise of eternal life—a theme that will haunt her throughout the rest of the story. But then she begrudgingly starts to see the beauty in human creation herself—that they can show strength of will despite being so small and weak with fleeting lives.

Nice foreshadowing with Lugia’s mortal form being endangered early on, establishing what death means to a legend—not the final end of all experience, but a deep, soul-crushingly lonely eternity. It makes it hit all the harder when death strikes so cruelly and unexpectedly on the day of the final festival before the pair would have departed.

Ultimately, this is the story of Ho-oh, the eternal flame, learning to accept death, and for that she needed to die. I genuinely had no idea what to expect when the death struck so suddenly and there was still half a story left to go. Her interactions with Yveltal were both fascinating and entertaining; they have a great dynamic. And it’s so poetic that the eternal flame would need to learn this lesson from the caretaker of death himself, the one most poised to find meaning in temporary life.

There were a few tense errors and sentence fragments that didn’t seem to be for emphasis. In particular, bits where it lapsed into present tense that didn’t seem to be stylistic because there wasn’t much of a pattern to when and where it occurred. And maybe I’d have liked just a little bit more development on Ho-oh coming to love Osiri, because on my first readthrough it seemed like Ho-oh was won over too quickly. Maybe just an extra few lines about how Ho-oh was just staving off the boredom by battling Osiri and this definitely doesn’t mean she cares or anything (yes she does).

But that’s just minor nitpicking. This story was wonderfully paced with compelling characters, powerful emotion, and hard-hitting themes, and it’s everything I could have wanted from this.

HelloYellow17

Oh BOY there is SO MUCH to unpack here, and I mean that in the best way possible!

I’ll start off with my biggest criticism first, and it’s about the prose. The prose overall is actually fantastic, and it really nails the godlike vibes of these all-powerful, immortal legendaries. However, at several points in the story, the tense switched randomly from past tense to present tense, and it happened often enough that it did take me out of the story a little bit. The good news is that this is a very quick and easy fix once you spot those places!

Now, on to the contents of the story: and oh, wow, I gotta say, I really loved this. The fact that it wasn’t just an origin story, but that there was genuine character development for both Lugia and Ho-oh and even, to a smaller degree, Yveltal, really drove this home for me. These are powerful, deity-like creatures, but they still felt like characters all the same, not just forces of nature. And the descriptive writing of their emotions? Absolutely beautiful. I love the way you frequently compared their emotions and responses to forces of nature that coincided with their elements—water and ocean for Lugia, fire and heat for Ho-oh, cold and darkness for Yveltal. It made their interactions that much more visual and visceral, without ever feeling repetitive.

I do think that sense of place could be a bit stronger in some areas. There were several moments where the characters interacted with one another, and I wasn’t entirely sure where they were, or if they were flying through the air or perched somewhere, and so on. Filling out those details will make it that much more immersive, I think!

Above all, I loved the themes of this story, and that it wasn’t just a historical retelling of how Orre came to be. It’s a story about love, grief, forgiveness, humility, and hope. It’s a story about choosing to love again even after you’ve been burned, because of the ones in life that make loving worth all the pain. It’s about overcoming your prejudices (looking at you, tsundere Ho-oh! Lol) while learning from your mistakes. It’s about apologizing and admitting you were wrong, and facing your errors instead of defending or running away from them. Ho-oh’s disdain for humans turning into a love so deep that she struggles to let it go, Yveltal establishing that he is the god of death but not of killing (one of my favorite moments personally), Lugia learning that maybe not all humans are deserving of blind trust, but that they deserve a chance to prove themselves all the same. Gosh, this story is packed full of wonderful, meaningful themes and character relationships, but it never felt rushed or too packed for the word limit. The pacing was masterfully done, and also the dialogue was one of this story’s strongest points, imo.

I want to comment specifically on Ho-oh and Yveltal’s dynamic for a minute, too, because I found it utterly fascinating and really well executed. We have two polar opposites here: the goddess of life and rebirth, and the god of death. We see how they (well, mostly Ho-oh) reconcile their differences and come to learn that they each play a vital role in the world—that their roles are not, in fact, in opposition to each other, but rather they complement one another. It’s a really unique angle, because we don’t see Ho-oh and Yveltal compared with each other that much (or at least, I haven’t), and seeing it written out like this was really cool to see. It makes sense that Ho-oh would have a bit of a personal bias against Yveltal—not just because of Osiri’s death, but because his role has appeared to be an insult to hers all this time. And then we learn that this isn’t the case, that Yveltal values life just as much as she does, but that he also has the wisdom to value death, too.

One other thing I wanted to mention was the relationship between Lugia/Ho-oh and the humans, and how they accepted the humans’ offerings, not because they needed them, but because it allowed the humans to show their gratitude. I found that to be a very nice touch.

As a judge, I’m a stickler for both theme application and uniqueness. I don’t want just a story told from a legendary Pokémon’s perspective—I want a story that capitalizes on that concept, makes it a core part of the writing, and delivers its own set of themes on what it means to be a legendary Pokémon that mingles with mortals. And boy, did this fic hit all of those buttons perfectly.

Overall, this story really delivered. Beautiful prose, wonderfully flawed characters, Legendary POV that feels legendary, and meaningful themes all throughout. It has so much heart, and it really struck a chord with me because of that. From the Ashes is a wonderful creation, and you should be proud of it.

lisanthus

Seeing legendaries interact with humans is always neat! A lot of it reminded me slightly of stories told within mythology about blessings and such given by deities who had contact with humans. The slaying of Ho-Oh was a neat twist, although possibly foreshadowed by the title itself maybe? The regal humanity given to the legendaries, in a way that absolutely fits their power and status, felt very correct, and in my opinion, was a great way to characterize them all. I think that if there was ever to be a Pokémon official media piece with this plot (Legends: Johto...?) it would feel right at home.

Sinderella

This story was a RIDE! I was expecting something like, a legend of how the world came to be, but I feel like I got so much more than that and I enjoyed it immensely.

There were a lot of aspects here that I really enjoyed; I overall enjoyed how it seemed that Lugia and Ho-Oh like…switched places of thinking, almost? Like, at the beginning it was Lugia’s BS about wanting to get to know humans more that landed him in the predicament that required Osiri’s intervention and Ho-Oh being the one to be like “hey fuck the humans!” But, it eventually swapped into Lugia being the jaded one and Ho-Oh being the more forgiving one. I guess death will do that to a legendary, huh?

I loved Osiri’s character quite a lot. Gave me Jesus vibes. This whole story gave me pretty “biblical” feelings up until the end where we got into the nitty gritty of Ho-Oh coming to terms with themselves and humans and hope, and then it just felt like Pokemon again…which was fine, I really enjoyed that!

But oh my god the carnal rage I felt when Ho-Oh got offed. Humans really do have some audacity! Osiri would not approve!

I did have some questions here and there, though. I was minutely confused about why Lugia couldn’t revert out of his human form (though it might have just been poor reading comprehension on my part) and while I did enjoy the sequence of Ho-Oh making friends with Yveltal, I didn’t quite follow the lore of why she was there and how leaving worked. Is it like, gods are punished to the land of the dead for a certain amount of time before they can be “resurrected?” That was my understanding but I was still majorly unsure.

All in all, this was a fantastic read and you should be really proud of it! Congrats on the entry, and thank you for the fun read!
 
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Negrek

komorebi
Staff
"Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo" by Starlight Aurate
Honorable Mention Miraidon Flight

The flower petals rustled gently as they swayed in the breeze, the wind carrying their perfume through the night air. The floral smell of white and pink hibiscuses filled the atmosphere with a sweet—and slightly tart—aroma. She breathed in, the taste dancing on her tongue, filling her nostrils. The humidity amplified the scent, and the air was thick with flowery aroma. Beneath the crescent moon, trees of hibiscus danced in the gentle wind, exhaling their flowery breath to the black sand beach before it dissipated into the gentle waves.

The breeze scattered particles of sand, pushing them into the sea before the waters pushed them back. In the heavily perfumed air, the black sand churned and twisted, by wind and by water, as if it had a life of its own. Until, at last, the sand solidified into two hand shapes, clinging to the earth as they steadied themselves in the gentle ebb and pull. Flowing outwards, the sand steadily morphed itself into a humanoid form kneeling on the beach.

In the shallows, the sand solidified into another anthropomorph. Watery strands of hair flowed from its head, and grains of sand fell as it lifted its eyelids in a pale blue gaze. It looked over to its counterpart, which kneeled upright in the sand, a nose and mouth forming, inhaling large gulps of floral-scented air, its hair spilling in pink ribbons down its back.

Further up the shore, close to the jungle, another being rapidly took shape. Crackles of electricity danced about its red mohawk as it hastily put itself together. Lastly, the sand near it, almost within the jungle itself, steadily assembled itself into a large, broad-shouldered man. As it breathed slowly and deeply, vines and shoots of foliage steadily rose to meet it.

The four beings stood to their full heights, stretching out their hands, tossing their heads full of hair, filling their lungs with the tang of marine air and floral aroma—reveling in their first moments of life...


Judge Comments

auspicious

It took me a bit to gather my thoughts on this one. It’s one of the heaver pieces, but quite good. Appreciate the content warnings 👍

First, your prose: you use a lot of fun words like “alacrity” and “calabash,” which I really like. Your prose is quite lush and pretty. However, you do have a tendency to repeat words a lot within say, a paragraph, or a couple sentences of each other, which can make reading through a little more awkward. Occasionally there will be a word that’s a little at odds with the setting that will make me pause - i.e., deadpan, which doesn’t really seem like it belongs.

From pretty early on in the story you start setting up how things will fall apart; Lele’s conversation with Fini starts to show the cracks in Lele’s worldview; it’s not subtle, but it doesn’t need to be to do its purpose. It highlights their differences in perspective, and the blindspots that Lele has, quite well. Fini’s last line about protecting her humans did make me pause, because she seems much more distant/hands off/ambivalent /cautious towards humans before this. Lele even points out she never interacts with humans. Logically, just struck me as off.

Lele’s almost willful, stubborn kind of naivete in that conversation with Fini definitely shows how despite interacting with humans more, she’s still got rose tinted glasses on. I’m not sure if that counts as quite hitting the theme, but I’m leaning yes; her lack of understanding does read as, if not legendary, at the very least, inhuman.

When things do actually fall apart - it’s pretty brutal. You do a good job of getting across the violence and emotional toll they have on Lele without getting too bogged down in gorey details. Lele just wants to help people, and doesn’t really understand how you can help the wrong people, I suppose? You did a good job with her realization that she helped her people’s enemies, and her struggle with understanding/coming to terms with how saving people can be a bad thing. And when her people turn on her - you do a good job of handling that, too. The dichotomy of how quickly humans can turn on someone once they stop benefiting vs Lele’s kind of universal kindness and willingness to save people is good.

I don’t have much to say on the ending; mostly, I think it shows how that despite how Lele’s been hurt, at the heart of it, she’s still kind? It shows both how she’s changed - healing the natu only for them to keep attacking each other, kind of enabling the violence - but still allows people to perform rites and return, with a new understanding of humanity. Liked the moment where she and the kahuna both understood each other.

Overall: one of the heavier pieces, but you did a good job with the subject matter, and hit on the contest’s themes pretty well. Great job, thanks for submitting!

linequotes

The flower petals rustled gently as they swayed in the breeze, the wind carrying their perfume through the night air. The floral smell of white and pink hibiscuses filled the atmosphere with a sweet—and slightly tart—aroma. She breathed in, the taste dancing on her tongue, filling her nostrils. The humidity amplified the scent, and the air was thick with flowery aroma. Beneath the crescent moon, trees of hibiscus danced in the gentle wind, exhaling their flowery breath to the black sand beach before it dissipated into the gentle waves.

just an example of repetition; you repeat flower/floral/flowery a lot in this paragraph, and it reads a bit awkward

She shook the sand from her body—coming off in scale-like clumps—over the injuries: sewing together the muscle in Kamehameha’s arms, clotting the blood and closing the wound stretching across Kapono’s thigh, re-attaching Kalama’s arm where it had been hacked off.

something about the placement of “coming off in scale-like clumps” strikes me as off

They might have had no shields at all, for their torsos were wide open, their innards spilling out, still attached to the insides, but lying on piles next to them or on top of their exposed skin.

slightly awkward, should be “might as well have had”

bluesidra

Hello, unknown writer of folk-legends, I want moar of that!

No, seriously, what an interesting read. You made this more ancient version of Alola really come to life in front of my eyes. The world feels big, and lived in. I loved the resolution and the dual implications of ‘laying angry spirits to rest.’ It shows you clearly did your research. And the result is a story that makes for a very believable origin myth about the Kapus, one that I can see people tell their children many generations on.

Somehow, you managed to capture so much in what felt like relatively little text. Looking back, there was a lot of stuff happening to Lele, but it never felt like it overstayed its welcome with yet another narrative loop.

The content was great, and as such, my only points of critique concern the writing.

1) The story you told lends itself to a very colorful way of writing, one that almost feels like a painting in motion with blurred lines between metaphor and narrative reality. As such, there were several instances where the word choice in particular took me out of the flow. As for example, right at the beginning, you used “flowery aroma.” For some reason, specifying that it’s only an aroma took a lot of the magic away for me. I’d probably gone with something along the lines of “the air was thick with flowers” or “the air was thick with the scent of flowers.” There are some other instances where you chose a word that specified something which would imo shine better if left unspecified. It’s mainly an issue I noticed in the first half of the story. In the second one, it reads a lot more fluidly.

2) The beginning introduced a little too many characters for me to keep track of. The first scene keeps the four being relatively obscure, and in the next we already get to meet the acolytes, and a bunch of Hawaiian words as well. In retrospect, I could even see the story work without the first scene entirely. The siblings, especially Fini and the existence of brothers, are introduced later perfectly well. (Oh, yeah, Fini’s first appearance was great at establishing both her and Lele’s character, as well as setting the stakes and foreshadowing in such a brief note that it almost gets lost. It’s great)

3) The ending is a bit abrupt. When I read the last line, I checked a few times if I was missing something, but I wasn’t. I wouldn’t know how to “fix” it outright, and it probably needs a bit of experimenting. But maybe a sort of “zoom out” would help? Or Lele reminiscing about the entire story? Something that ties it up a bit tighter.

Now, those are all relatively minor criticisms, even if I sent a lot of words on them. The story more than makes up for them. Oh, and regarding word choice. One scene that especially stood out (in general, but also in regard to how it was written) was the rape scene. Kudos on handling it with takt but also dread. In that scene, I noticed how well you used your words to avoid stating the obvious, but instead painting a very clear image in the reader’s head. It’s a lot more effective than the “aroma” from the beginning in conveying emotions.

Anyway, thank you for this lovely piece of mental vacation to the shores of Alola. Lele and her shell will stay with me for quite a while now.

Dragonfree

I loved to see a story here about legendaries being revered as gods by humans and the relationship between them - first this very amicable one, with the gods walking among them and freely helping them, only for it to turn ugly. The legendaries taking on a human (or superhuman) appearance while maintaining this friendly relationship with the humans only to revert to their more guarded canon appearances after suffering a betrayal was an interesting touch, and I loved the detail of their bodies being built from black sand and how you work with that throughout.

I also appreciated what you did with the relationships between the Tapu, particularly with Fini's wary cynicism compared to Lele's naïve optimism before the latter is cruelly crushed. I quite liked how the others all fight to subdue Lele when her anger threatens to destroy the island but after she's calmed a little Fini just tells her they're there for her, obviously sensing that Lele is lashing out because something horrible has happened to her. All in all I thought that was a strong portrayal of destructive trauma responses and those who love her having to be firm in the face of those tendencies even as they care and empathize and wish to help her heal.

I thought you did quite a good job on the portrayal of violence and trauma here, in general. You make healing the war injuries feel horrid, and the sexual assault tactfully looks away from the worst of the actual deed but lingers afterwards on particular sensory details of the memory in a way that felt very visceral in conveying its horror and the sense of violation. It was an interesting (and painful) touch, too, that at the beginning she likes to be much taller than humans, inspiring awe, but had specifically chosen to make herself vulnerable to be less imposing before it happened. And the way she reacts in the aftermath is heartbreaking - that desperate confusion and revulsion and self-loathing, tearing away at her own body and distorting it into a non-human form to destroy everything it was and any resemblance to the attackers. It was evocative and memorable, and the way the island itself responds in tandem with the aching trauma of its goddess just magnifies it.

And then, though life goes on for Lele from there, she's oozing with heartbreaking rage, using her healing powers to draw out fights between Pokémon in the dark hope of watching others have to hurt like she has (in stark, painful contrast to her previous desire to heal everyone who's hurting), and the hibiscus never grows there again - until the descendants of the Akalans come to atone. They bring hibiscus plants, but also bandages and poultices, which I can't imagine Lele literally needs right now but are clearly very symbolic of them wishing to help her heal, instead of just constantly taking and taking and expecting her to keep giving like their ancestors. In the end, Lele has managed to heal and find peace again, in the safety of her hibiscus grove, even though what happened did permanently change her, gave her a hardened shell she can only ever truly step out of among the flowers. I think that's a beautiful, haunting portrayal of how trauma never truly leaves you but a form of healing can still take place, create at least limited spaces of safety that can allow one to be vulnerable again.

The main criticism I have is that I felt like Lele's thought process over the course of the bit where she heals the Magå'haga and then returns and explains it to the Akalans wasn't entirely clear, and that's a moment where I feel like we would really benefit from exploring what she's thinking more thoroughly. As it is I found it hard to tell whether she doesn't realize these are the very people who inflicted the horrible injuries she ran into the forest to escape from, or whether she realizes but her mindset is simply that she desires to heal everyone in need no matter who they are and naïvely assumes the Akalans would share that mindset until they reject her for it. I think either of those interpretations could make sense and be evocative, but when I can't quite tell which of them is what's actually going on, it's a bit harder to reconcile and to stay immersed in her character and mental state, and that's a shame because this is such a crucial part of the story!

There were some mistakes here and there - nothing that seriously disrupted reading, but it might be worth giving it an extra round of proofreading - and a couple of times where I might quibble with the effectiveness of particular phrasing, but nothing too major.

All in all, though, I thought this was definitely one of the most effective entries here, both as a story about trauma and recovery and as an exploration of legendaries as gods. Really nice work on this one.

Flyg0n

This was a very well crafted and richly written piece! The prose is very clean, and invokes all my senses very well. The perspective of Alolan culture really shines through every word here, and gives the world a very lived in feel. I like how you developed each of the Tapu as unique characters and personalities. You contrast each of them through visuals and behavior. The reserved and cautious Fini, the brash Koko, strong Bulu, and naive Lele.

It was also great visually to see how each of them presents themselves to their people. Lele loves people looking up to her and admiring her, and this shows in how she always chooses to be taller and different looking.

The story quickly sets up some great themes and ideas to contemplate for the Tapu. They each guard their islands in different ways, and do different degrees. Lele is clearly close to many of her people, knowing them by name. Yet Fini challenges her early on with a weighty question. Would her people love her if she didn’t give them something in return? If she wasn’t always healing them? What is a goddess without her people?

This blends well with the plot of the attacking warriors, Lele looking for an escape, and then choosing to heal her people’s enemy instead of her own people. She’s torn between her duty to heal and help, and her loyalty to her people. And then in the end, both innocent and guilty paid the price for her rage after what the chief and his warriors did.

I think this story is an excellently done tragedy, dealing with a heavy topic quite well. It gives an answer that isn’t easy or happy. Sometimes evil isn’t just from attacking warriors but those you thought you trusted, using you. A lot of people were hurt by the actions of the chief, and then by Lele’s outburst (I presume, at least). In the end though, some healing was found. The former people of Akala return and peace is found between them.

There were one or two very minor spelling errors I noted, but nothing that interfered with the story. However, after reading this a few times, I found that while I believe it to be excellently constructed as a story, it didn’t quite click for me thematically as a legendary story. I think it definitely incorporated some great POV and displays of power, particularly in how it discusses their duty contrasting with roles, how they use their power (or get used). But it felt just a little bit off in what I was looking for in something that felt truly legendary, particularly with the focal aspects of the story. The message of betrayal, abuse and pain/healing seemed to take the forefront for me, mixed with the exploration of Alolan history and culture. The legendary emphasis seemed to come second to this, with the two vying for focus, and there were brief moments I could find myself forgetting this was a story about a legendary.

Overall, it's still a very good story, and exceptionally well written! I think it still had aspects of the legendary POV theme in a way that was very good, but just a bit off for me ultimately. Still an absolutely fantastic short story.
 
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Negrek

komorebi
Staff
"lacrima" by auspicious
Second Place Koraidon Flight

after

“Reports are still coming in, but so far there’s an estimated two hundred thousand -”

You turn off the television. Lorenzo is quiet; he does not object. His hands are shaking around the cup of tea he holds, so you carefully take it from him.

You were planning on painting outside - alone, to be able to focus better - but Lorenzo looks like he needs the company. You ask if he would like to sit outside with you.

Quietly, eyes never leaving the blank TV screen, he says, “Alright, Bianca.”

Outside, the weather is lovely - only faint wisps of clouds linger in the sky.

Once you set up your easel, you start painting. The open blue sky, the white undersides of wingull wings flashing, and the white-veined waves below. Lorenzo sits behind you, watching you paint.

Almost without thinking, you begin painting Alto Mare. The canals you were so familiar with. The graceful arches of the buildings, carved with gyarados and lapras. The careless greenery, like someone had thrown wildflower seeds into every corner of the city until it was bursting with life. It slots in perfectly.

“Have you found Latios yet?”


Judge Comments

Chibi Pika

The use of second person gave me pause at first. I know it’s trendy these days, but I usually hope for it to be more than just a tense, to play with the concept of identity and—

…and then I realized that the identity we’d found ourselves in might very well be a lie, and that it was woven into the prose itself from the very beginning, and that this was very intentional. That’s when I knew that this was going to hit hard.

And boy, did it ever. The non-chronological storytelling was an excellent way to stack up the revelations one by one. Alto Mare sank. Bianca is gone. For a moment, there’s the lingering question of when this takes place in relation to Movie 05, and just what level of AU this is. But then the details start adding up, creeping into the back of the reader’s mind until there’s no denying it any longer. The conversation with Ash, her interference in the Tour de Alto Mare, the encounter with the thieves… it all fits. The only possible point of divergence is the ending, and that means that Ash is…

There were a lot of cute details in their meeting and conversation, a pervasive childish innocence to them both that gives the instant friendship almost a nostalgic feel, which pairs perfectly with the vibe of ‘that which has been lost.’ The fact that Ash encouraged Latias to think of herself for once, and that everyone deserves to be a little selfish… But when you’re a legend, you can never just live for yourself, can you? To do that is to abandon your duty, and in keeping Latios from his, thousands of people are dead.

There’s no catharsis. No way to make things right. Just a mire of guilt and anger and loss, and clinging to another’s identity to pretend that anything’s all right.

I should admit that some of the typos were a bit distracting, so I’d recommend giving it another editing pass before publishing. I also was a bit unclear at first on whether or not Latias could speak in human, since she appeared to be speaking telepathically in the flashbacks. Still, those are just tiny quibbles. This story was full of raw, ugly emotion and the bitter truth of what happens when a god decides to live for themselves, and I loved it a lot.

HelloYellow17

Oh, this was exquisitely written. From the use of second-person POV to quietly putting all the sad, devastating pieces together, this story paints a beautiful tragedy.

First off, I commend your use of second person POV, you absolutely nailed it. I love the subtle cues we get before the reveal that “Bianca” is actually Latias—the fact that she doesn’t speak verbally, the way she reacts to Lorenzo’s question about Latios, and so on. My favorite part of the whole story was the legend near the end, depicting the origin story of Latios and Latias, showing how they have always been closely bonded as a sibling pair, and always will be. The color symbolism (blue for sky, red for the brother’s blood) was also a very nice touch. I love the detail about their illusions not leaving any footprints behind, as well.

I can’t help but wonder if this story wouldn’t have had more impact if the focus was not so much on Latias’s friendship with Ash (who is never named but it’s clear who he is), but with Bianca instead. After all, Latias and Bianca were friends long before Ash came into the picture, and it’s Bianca who she had made a habit of imitating. It would have made the fact that Latias tried to live Bianca’s life for her afterwards all the more poignant and tragic, and her betrayal more painful.

I’m also a little confused as to how Latias managed to stop Latios from sacrificing himself. It sounds like she simply abandoned the city, but surely something had been done to prevent Latios from giving his life? Did she take the soul dew and leave? Forcibly stop him somehow? It’s not very clear, and I feel like that’s a key piece of the story to really know what happened and what exactly Latias’s betrayal of Alto Mare looked like.

That said, I love the way this story was delivered, through a series of well-timed flashbacks that give a little more info as it unfolds. The pacing is excellent, the prose is gorgeous, and the themes of “before and after” make the tragedy even more stark. I like the glimpse we get into Latias’s feelings about abandoning the city (as well as her childhood best friend and new friend.) There’s a lot of unspoken guilt in the way she conducts herself, and the way she immediately tries to justify it with her own loneliness and dedication to her brother gives a strong sense of emotional disconnect. It’s like her more childish side is trying to rationalize what she’s done with her more duty-bound side.

This is a heartbreaking tale of duty vs love, and a fresh take on the classic Trolley Problem. Save the city and its thousands of citizens who will never know of your existence, let alone know you personally, versus your brother, the only other being in the entire world that has been with you all your life, the only one who truly understands you? Yikes. Though there’s a part of me that feels one important factor is not taken into account with this story, and it’s that Latios was not her only family. Her only flesh and blood, to be sure, but Lorenzo and Bianca were also family, and she abandoned them, too. Yet she doesn’t seem to reflect on these two and their importance to her as much as she does about Ash and the other citizens who are strangers to her.

This was a gripping story, a very unique and fascinating take on the theme, and beautifully written. You did a great job art artfully delivering a tragic tale. Well done!

lisianthus

God, this one was heartbreaking... it really, really did well at pulling at my heartstrings. Despite my not having seen the fifth Pokémon movie that this is based on, the story was perfectly understandable to me. I loved it, truly. Successful second-person stories, to me, have to make me feel like I'm there and I'm quite happy to report that this one succeeded in doing so. I really felt for Latias in this, not to mention Lorenzo and, well... honestly just about everyone. The dynamic between Latios and Latias shown here felt... palpable, honestly, and it was only heightened by the reveal of just how they were 'born' as themselves. This was genuinely a beautiful story, and a wonderful, wonderful job done.

Sinderella

Good GODS. Where do I begin here? First and foremost, super interesting decision to write this story in second-person. I don’t see that very often. I will be honest and say that I didn’t quite grasp the point of writing it from that POV, but that said, I definitely enjoyed it. I think it added an extra layer of “compelling” to the story (which might have been the point all along, in which case, ignore me!)

So I had to do some supplementary reading to get a better grasp of what was happening here, and from my understanding, this is derived from Pokemon Heroes: Latios and Latias. Bianca is (or was) in this case, a keeper of Latias and was even friends with her. But there has been a flood in Alto Mare, presumably caused by Latios (my deduction after reading the whole thing) and a lot of people died or have seeked shelter in other places as refugees.

First off, oh my gods. I cannot imagine how traumatizing and upsetting it is for Lorenzo to know his granddaughter is dead and is being impersonated by Latias. I mean, I guess on one hand I understand why Latias might want to do that, they were friends after all…but at the same time, yikes??? Let this poor man and her family grieve her loss and move on?

There seemed to be a lot of “before the accident” and “after the accident” hopping around here. I liked the concept of Latias having an apparent friendship with this boy that Latios didn’t approve of. Latios seems to be pretty, uh, territorial of his sibling, given their apparent backstory. Which made me all the more “HOLY SHIT” when Latias went to visit the parents of the boy, thinking he’s dead, only to find Latios is impersonating him. The scream I quite literally scrum, there was so much to unpack there.

While I did enjoy the overall premise of the story, I was left with a lot of questions, some of which I think stemmed from the fact I’m unfamiliar with this particular movie (or not. It doesn’t seem like Alto Mare being wrecked by floods was a part of it from what I read of the synopsis but I only skimmed). Most of my questions stemmed from the fact that I wasn’t quite sure what the intended overall story here was, if that makes sense.

We have Latias dealing with the loss of her friend and the flooding of Alto Mare. Some estrangement from her brother (okay maybe a lot, they didn’t exactly seem on good terms by the end of it). They’re both dealing with the fact that hundreds of thousands of people died in this natural disaster that I think AT LEAST one of them caused and are both impersonating people who died too. We also got some backstory on how the Latis apparently came to be in the first place. But all in all, these all seemed like disjointed vignettes and I had a difficult time understanding how they all came together to form one coherent story. I guess I understood the underlying theme of sibling estrangement, but in general, I failed to understand how this all formed one cohesive tale. There were a lot of things that were mentioned that felt like outside knowledge, even from what I already did know about the Latis and this particular movie, and it all in all left me pretty confused despite enjoying what I was reading.

I know this took a bit of a critical turn, but I want to stress the amount of physical reactions this story got out of me! Despite my poor understanding of it, I really did enjoy reading it. Thank you so much for sharing, and congrats on the entry!
 

Negrek

komorebi
Staff
"Mew's Meddling Mischief" by HelloYellow17
Second/Third Place Miraidon Flight

It was one of those warm, sticky-air nights.

Usually Mew didn’t mind warm nights, but if there was one thing she didn’t like about this corner of the world, it was that it was always warm. Warm and sticky, even at night, even during blossom season. She weaved silently through the forest, listening to the sounds of various insects and nocturnal Pokémon, and tried not to think about the icky sticky air in her fur.

Normally, she’d simply zip to another region that had more pleasant nighttime temperatures for sleeping—but Mew wasn’t here to sleep. Mew was looking for something—
anything—that might be entertaining. Exciting. Interesting.

In other words, Mew was
bored...

Judge Comments

auspicious

Oh, this was a fun read. Mew is a legendary I’ve seen a few different takes on, and this ranks as one the cuter, more fun ones :D You did a good job making this feel “legendary” or at least have a strong voice - Mew’s voice/internal monologue is easy to get swept up in, I love this kind of rambly stream of consciousness style, and it fits quite well and does well to convey Mew’s sort of childish, capricious energy, and the flippancy of how she uses her power is very in-line with canon’s depictions.

Having Mew be the vehicle for an awkward love story is a great idea, and you executed it quite well!

Great job with dialogue - the conversations between Cass and Darren were so endearingly awkward. They’re just talking right past each other at some points. Very realistic, haha.

Something else I also really liked is the way Mew’s thoughts would shift to become more like the pokemon she’s mimicking. Just a fun little detail I really enjoyed. The way it both helps and hinders her attempts to figure out the weird™ humans made me laugh.

I did have to pause at Mew having never heard a human snore before, or seen a pokeball - that level of naivety was a bit hard to believe. Because it does seem like you went the “ancient but childish” route with Mew. It wasn’t terribly unrealistic/suspension of disbelief breaking, though - I suppose if Mew were particularly distant from humans in modern times, it would make sense.

The last line undermines the ending a little for me - it feels like it’s trying to be flippant or funny, but just falls a little bit flat. Feels a little incongruous to the rest of the oneshot.

Overall: had a good time with this one; solid, entertaining style that feels on theme; funny and endearing. Great job!

just a couple moments I particularly liked:

In a rush of panic, Mew immediately teleported across the ocean.

this made me laugh

The Poochyena licked the boy’s face in response—eew. Why did he do that? Did humans taste good? Mew couldn’t imagine that to be true. Unless...? Hmm. She’d have to test this theory sometime.

LOL yeah i love the taste of skin and sweat. adorable thought, though. mew doing a little blep :p

And Wurmple...had a tendency to...drift off...snzz...

aw that’s unbearably cute

Mudkip’s gaze finally settled on Mew. She slowwwwly blinked...once...twice...three times.

pffft

bluesidra

Awwwww… I’ve held up on reading this fic for a while, because I expected something way more tonally mismatched from the title, and wanted to be on my best review game. But what I got was so wholesome and sweet!!! I did not expect this, especially not after a day of reading the other entries, and this was so damn welcome!

The entire one-shot is a very well-rounded work. The language isn’t too complex, but it matches the character. Most of all, I didn’t catch a single typo or error. Not that I mind them much, but it gives this story a really polished feel.

The story itself is episodical rather than an arc, and as an added bonus, we get to experience it in the skin of different pokemon. All of them are so sweet, and I’m so in love with their “no thought, only food” mindset. But zigzagoon really takes the cake. This was so sweet! Mew herself has a strong voice, her personality is endearing, and her reasoning (staying hidden, switching forms) cohesive from beginning to end.

The overarching story between Cass and Darren was also executed really well. I found myself rooting for them the entire time. I couldn’t help but see them as Ash and May, and that’s something coming from me. The entire story channeled the vibes of the anime, and especially the advanced generation and hoenn so well, it’s just… aww… It’s been quite a while since I’ve had something on my hands that gave me so many happy feels without any sad feels at all.

I struggle to find things to say here, because this little sweet story is a wonderful packet as is. There are no typos, the story is really good, the characters are solid, the humor and tone are on point… what’s there more to do than slap a ribbon on it and ship it off. It might not be as dark or as grand as some of the other entries in this contest; instead it’s a wholesome little feel-good fic that brings out genuine laughter, and sometimes, that’s all that’s needed and more.

Dragonfree

What a delightful little fic. You've got a lovely ditzy narrative voice for Mew here and her persistent total misunderstandings of everything were both entertaining and a fun more humorous sort of exploration of legendary POV - an immortal just constantly searching for something novel enough to be fun, so detached from mortal life and especially humans who normally seem like the most boring species on Earth that she just fails to comprehend anything about human psychology and interactions.

The little love story you tell in the process is quite cute; though beset by a sitcom conga line of misunderstandings and silliness, Darren and Cass's interactions feel pretty grounded and genuine in their hopeless teenage awkwardness, and their will-they-won't-they is easy to root for. I also enjoyed their Pokémon - minor roles, but you gave them some cute moments and personality in the process.

You made some really nice use of Mew's particular POV here, too. Her psychic senses play a prominent role, letting Mew attempt to puzzle out the pair's feelings based on her empath sense with no frame of reference. And then there are the bits where she transforms into other species and has to contend with being hopelessly easily distractable or sleepy or loving to eat rocks - just a very fun bit of POV flavor that remains entertaining throughout.

I do find myself sort of wondering how this is the first time Mew's ever managed to take enough of an interest in humans to notice basic things about them, but that feels like a very fridge-logicky concern here; ultimately the reason why is because it's funny, and in this story that's what matters. The comedy is all in all just very successful here, I feel; Mew's terrible ideas for poking and prodding them remain amusing as the story goes on, and while it would probably have started to wear out its welcome if it'd gone on much longer than it did, I thought you picked a good pacing and place for it to end.

I don't have many real criticisms here, all in all; it's a well-executed comedy piece with a cute emotional core and thoroughly informed by the particular POV of your chosen legendary. It's always a little tough for a comedy in a contest like this, where they easily get overlooked in favor of more serious dramatic pieces, but I thought this story was great at being exactly what it's going for.

Flyg0n

I absolutely adored how nicely this fic captures Mew’s whimsical, playful nature while still feeling rather unhuman in the sorts of things Mew is into. Mew thinks humans are boring and noisy, because they can’t do fun things like Pokemon. Mew isn’t allowed to bother Arceus for 200 years. Mew and Victini get along, which seems quite fitting. Mew’s character is just brimming with life here. Curious, confused, playful. It definitely drew me in, and I enjoyed setting it against the backdrop of two silly little humans bad at expressing emotions.
Mew is full of good intentions and bad executions and mischief, and more power than it seems to realize. Dangerous yet not malicious. But a force to be reckoned with all the same. Very cat-like! I love how you handled the transformations too, with mew taking on aspects of the pokemon she turns into.

I love the choice of using a playful legendary like Mew coming up against the weirdness of humans and seeing how Mew’s approach to ‘solving’ problems both hurts and ultimately helps the situation, without even understanding why. This story really lives up to its name of ‘meddling mischief!’ Even with the emotionally touching resolution of the two humans, the ending swoops right back around to sticking to its playful and Mew centric tone. This is such a joyful piece overall, and brought a smile to my face. It blends situational comedy and heart together really well.

There’s also a subtle undercurrent about openness and communication between the human characters, which was very sweet. In the end, Mew goading them into just being frank actually helped them a lot. Just talk, silly humans!

The only small quirks I have are closer to very minor worldbuilding hiccups. Despite this seemingly taking place in a semi-modern/current time period, Mew seems really surprised by certain human things or behaviors. I think these are fairly easy to bypass for the sake of the story though, and don’t harm the core narrative. This piece is an absolutely delightful Mew tale.
 

Negrek

komorebi
Staff
"Mountains Will Never" by kintsugi
First Place Miraidon Flight

Her birth was inconsequential. Her rebirth was agony.

In that second-first moment that felt as long as a lifetime, she realized the secret: birth was normally gradual, a brain blossoming across days and years to catch up with the realizations it was making. Each new growing pain was worse than the last, but in turn each was overgrown by a tangling weave of budding synapses and fresh memories. That made it comprehensible. That made it bearable.

The second time, she flooded full-fledged into a body that didn’t fit, hands she no longer had still trying to staunch the fatal wound in her neck she no longer felt. The last vestiges of death faded from her, leaving her instead encircled by a grey garden of statues and shards of crystal. Her heartbeat rejuvenated a graveyard of neurons, and as the stone hackles of a manectric mid-scream caught the sun behind it, she began to remember. On this scarred battlefield, her life had been deemed forfeit to a war she’d stopped believing in. She had cast her eyes upward, resigned that Yveltal’s steely talons would pluck her into the next life.

But this is not that life, is it? a dusty voice rasped in the back of her head....

Judge Comments

auspicious

Oh, man. This was a lot, in a good way.

The snapshot format you used worked quite well - showing how Yveltal responds to those glimpses of other characters’s lives and their questions/requests was a great way of showing/developing her character.

The bunnelby segment in particular, where they make her wonder about her old life, I liked. It’s clear she’s projecting her feelings onto the people she reaps - like with the thief, the boy, etc, and you do a good job of conveying the emotions. A few of my other favorites are the one with the taillow, and the one with the thief, but all of them were great. Good job!

The turning point and emotional climax of the story is when Yveltal finds out who the shard actually is - you did a great job with that reveal. It didn’t feel abrupt or unnatural - though it made surprised in a good way - and fell in line neatly with the little hints dropped along the wall. The dissonance between old Yveltal and new Yveltal comes through well and sets up nicely for the ending. New!Yveltal and Old!Yveltal paralleling each other is done well :).

A small complaint: you have some absolutely beautiful lines of prose, but also some moments where I’m a little confused what’s going on because of the wordiness. i.e. the man who killed the bunnelby possibly being AZ (still not entirely sure who the man was supposed to be), the lairon “rusting” being it dying, etc. You often don’t actually need words like “that” or “which” in a sentence. I’ll point out a couple clarity issues in linequotes. I also wish we’d seen a little bit more Xerneas, maybe, and his relationship with Yveltal? We know almost nothing about the old Yveltal, and a few hints about old!Yveltal from Xerneas could have been fun. It works regardless, though.

Overall, on a macro level I really love this piece. I love how the MC kind of settles into the role of a kinder, gentler Yveltal, the slow revelation of who the shard is, and the ending - you did a good job with that, love the image of the new Yveltal sending off the old one. Great job with this!

linequotes

The dry grass rustled. A thousand pairs of stony eyes, and one pair still living, were all fixed on her. A god graced her presence, trailing a thin line of newly-bloomed snowdrops in his hoofprints.

this feels like a little bit of an awkward way to describe Xerneas’s entrance. little confused; was he already there? did he just arrive?

He fired a terrible weapon, and in doing so, took many lives, including that of the god who fueled it. I had hoped that breaking the weapon would return my brother to life, but it appears I was mistaken. You are anew.”

for example, here - you could both of the “that”s, and it would make it a bit easier to read/parse what’s going on

Ask him where he put his brother. Azrael, they would call each other. Ask him and we can end this all.

“Azrael, they would call each other” - this confused me. are they both azrael? unclear on what “they would call each other” means.

and also “where he put his brother” - was AZ imprisoned? did Byron help him run after he fired the ultimate weapon?

Before the end of the war, many of the ancients of the forest had been felled.

example of wordiness here, with the “many of the ancients of the forest”; could prob rephrase for better readability

Autumn had turned the larches outside to a tapestry of red and gold. Pale ribbons of clouds streaked above a garden of stone. A glassy river carved through the foothills, darkening briefly as a shadow passed overhead on silent wings. A day unfurled around them, and the world paused for just a moment to watch as the new Yveltal flew the old to the horizon.

man, I really love this last paragraph

bluesidra

> This is a story about Death.

You had my curiosity, now you have my attention.

One hour later…

Excuse me, this was beautiful! ;^; I love it! It’s exactly in my wheelhouse! I love dying! Especially set to such vivid scenery and prose! Such creative approach, such cool ideas! 11/10, will definitely read again.

… … This review is way too short, I realize, but I don’t know what else I can say except infinitely ghushing about how much I love it! I love the quote and how it ties into the end. I love how the revelation about the other yveltal trying to escape death has only hit me so late. I love how it made me think about how weird people are with their propensity to always have unanswered questions. I love the metaphor of the inevitability of the acorn becoming an oak tree and how the same inevitability got disproven wrong later when not all seeds grew into trees. I love every single word of it. I love how trees remain alive in every bit as they are chopped up and the implication, with the first yveltal and the seed, that part of it will inevitably remain in the substance of the earth. I love the two approaches to taking life that the two yveltal have. I love how the young yveltal slowly grows out of needing the old one’s guidance, eventually overtaking it. I love the very ‘human’ reason why the first yveltal joined AZ. I love AZ’s brother and how he had to suffer for his brother’s actions. I love the lore and the exploration of the war’s aftermath. I love the feeling of vastness this fic evokes, that these lands are truly expansive. And how the war has touched every corner of it.

While reading it, my mind sometimes wandered off to think about why every encounter yveltal had started with a question. And if really everyone has one or more questions when they die. No one just greeted yveltal and moved on. And if I would just be content to move on or what the question I’d come up with would be.

The only thing I was a bit puzzled / disappointed about was the ‘it’s not his time’-excuse for why she couldn’t take AZ’s life. Of course, something like that is hard to describe beyond an intense feeling, which you did. And the old yveltal’s explanation of how humans tend to shy away from taking responsibility for judgment is a good one, but the young yveltal never truly embraces it. In the end, AZ is now going to be an exception to the rule (which I can infer from canon), without a proper explanation as to why his time never came. Was it yveltal’s decision? Or did his time truly never come? If so, who is dictating that sense of time-coming? Does Xerneas have its hoofs in there? … I just realized while typing this, that this is only a “plot-hole” because I know that AZ, in canon, grows very very old. If I didn’t, and if this wasn’t pokemon, I’d still be working under the assumption that he would die eventually, within the lifespan of any other human. And if that’s the case, then the young yveltal not pushing his case is fair and just, and her reason is solid. It only becomes weak because I know she’s never going to come for him, and thus the argument remains unresolved.

But that’s about the only point I could find that struck me as odd. I’ll definitely revisit it again, and probably find many many more things to appreciate. Eventually, I might leave another review gushing even more about it! Until then, 11/10, I love it.


Dragonfree

You've got a fascinating concept here - a mortal Pokémon takes over the role of Yveltal after Yveltal has powered the Ultimate Weapon and must learn to serve Yveltal's role as psychopomp. I like the various strong imagery here, and the way that it expands upon the story of X/Y (AZ's brother being named Byron, starting with the second and second-last letters of the alphabet, was a fun touch).

The twist that the voice in the shard is the old Yveltal kind of confused me when I got there - because that's what I'd already been assuming from the very beginning! We had established that the weapon was powered by Yveltal, so when the weapon apparently had a voice, I assumed automatically that that voice was Yveltal - the bit where it was powered by Yveltal seemed like the only explanation for a weapon having any kind of voice at all, and other bits also seemed to straightforwardly suggest this from the start, like with how indignant the shard is that she "stole" Yveltal's role and how it then sets about teaching her how to serve that role. So it was quite surprising to me when it turned out in the story that the new Yveltal had never connected the voice to Yveltal at all and apparently just sort of assumed the weapon itself had its own voice that had nothing to do with Yveltal somehow. This seemed like a much less intuitive conclusion to me than that it simply was Yveltal, which made it read weirdly to me that that would have been her first thought! Maybe it's just me, but it made my first read feel very strange.

The story is largely a collection of little vignettes of Yveltal carrying out her duties, some developing the central interaction between Yveltal and the shard along the way, some serving more to just show Yveltal's daily work and present little contemplations about death. I thought they were quite atmospheric and had resonant little points and images to them - it's a very somber, philosophical sort of story, all in all, and it succeeds in this almost meditative string of little stories of death, and how this Yveltal chooses compassion.

But I did find the story didn't feel entirely focused. We spend a while on how the shard has promised Yveltal that it'll tell her who she was in her previous life, but then it reveals it never knew, and that entire thread just sort of feels like it gets quietly dropped - we never quite address it after that, neither with any further information on it nor with Yveltal coming to any kind of resolution about letting go of the desire to know her old self. The topic just sort of silently moves on to the reveal that the shard was Yveltal, and then we never bring up the new Yveltal's previous life again. And while the vignettes are strong in their own ways, only some of them quite feel like they're building up to the main thrust, making the primary plot feel a bit detached from them.

I also found the prose a bit dense and difficult to understand at times in a way that doesn't quite come together even on a reread. That's something that's always going to depend on the reader a bit, but to me, at least, it felt more obscure than it had to be, in a way that made it harder to get through. I also noticed that while the mechanics were otherwise very clean, you tend to use commas before "and" even when what follows is not a complete sentence (doesn't have its own subject and verb), which you generally shouldn't.

But I quite liked the concept and main themes you've got going here, and some of the vignettes were stark, powerful images that linger. Yveltal ending by taking the old Yveltal to the next life felt right and like it came full circle. All in all, it was a fascinating story exploring a very interesting legendary from two quite different angles - the lonely god who joined a project to cause devastation, and the ascended mortal who grows into a more compassionate wielder of the role.

Flyg0n

The story caught my eye immediately. You begin right at the start (and at the end). The prose used throughout was very evocative and captivating for me. You weaved in a sense of mystery with the shard, and their ‘quest’, and the way this Yveltal felt determined to be somehow different, yet also wanted to know her old life. Each life she ‘reaped’ and brought to the next existence highlighted an aspect of her curiosity about her previous life.

The developing relationship between the Shard and Yveltal was also handled excellently. The Shard’s words drip with contempt and spite and anger, while the new Yveltal is brimming with quiet thoughtfulness and compassion. The contrast and clashing really drives the whole piece forward. I also adored how each reaping was used to convey something different, and show something about the protagonist.

As a collective, I feel like this story does a superb job of conveying the spirit of something ‘legendary’ to me. Of a being that can have both familiar human-like emotions yet also exist on a grander scale, and hold a role difficult to comprehend. Death is scary to some, yet here Death is gentle and natural. A picture is painted with the words here that feels both grand and tragic, and makes me feel like there’s forces at work of great power.

The ending absolutely enthralled me. The reveal of the Shards true nature and identity, their confession, and the understanding it brings to the entire narrative, recontextualizing every interaction is exquisite. One being driven by anger, another driven by understanding. I feel like this story captures the nature of the legendary of death perfectly. Also touches on the different ways society personifies death. Cold and unfeeling, or gentle and compassionate. One death who did not care, and another who did, because they had a lingering sense of how it was to be mortal. This story has so much depth to me, and such an interesting concept.
 

Negrek

komorebi
Staff
"Of Mon's First Disobedience" by Sinderella

I was BORED–feeling a sense of weariness from lacking activity.

It smelled bad, and I was
fucking BORED.

Father Arceus said I wasn't permitted to curse as such, but did I care? Absolutely the fuck not. It smelled bad; I was ANNOYED–slightly irritated–that it smelled bad, and as always, I was really.

Fucking.

BORED.

Judge Comments

auspicious

Oh, this was cool.

You did something interesting with the all caps emotions followed by their definitions. I quite like it - it builds up to a nice moment there at the end. Eden being in space, with black holes just popping by and Venira’s internal monologue mentioning things like dying stars was also a nice touch.

The concept of “seraphs” and all the legendaries originally being seraphs who were turned into gods by Arceus granting them domains is also quite fun, I have a soft spot for this kind of stuff.

There is one moment, where the other 7 remaining seraphs are introduced that confused me a bit - the jump from Avareed sitting atop a structure to walking with Venira lost me for a sec. Avareed and Venira are cute, though! I would have liked Venira’s relationships with the other seraphs besides Avareed, as well as the other seraphs themselves to have been fleshed out a little bit more.

With Venira, it’s fairly apparent that Arceus doesn’t want to let her loose because she doesn’t listen to him - but why are the other seraphs still here? What makes them different? Would have been nice to see them interacting a bit more maybe.

I do also have to wonder why Arceus doesn’t just grant them all domains to remove the possibility of them becoming corrupted gods at all? He very much seems to modeled off of a controlling parent/reads that way to me in this. Venira’s rant at the end sums this up - he makes them exist and function how he wants them to, and if he’s that controlling, it makes more sense for him to eliminate the chance of it happening entirely, and give them whatever domain he wants. He’s entirely okay with lying already; he could have just made up some arbitrary reason for why they weren’t allowed to leave still. I wondered until it was explicitly said if it was even within his power to grant seraphs domains, or if it was just something that happened naturally because - well, because of all of the above.

I realize this has been a bit of a nitpicky review, but really, I enjoyed this. There are a lot of things I like about this - the use of fakemon but still managing to pull off “Legendary POV” quite well, the concept of seraphs and their rebellion against Arceus, and Venira herself. Overall, besides wanting a few things like relationships and details to be fleshed out more and few minor logic issues, this was great!

linequotes

"How dare you rush in here asking me of such vulgar nonsense," Father Arceus growled, his lips curling back over his much sharper teeth.

ooo that’s a fun detail. don’t usually see Arceus w sharp teeth, but adds to his ominousness here.

Yveltal had said something about humans being more dynamic, but I knew they couldn't withhold power like a Pokemon could.

I’m not sure that “withhold” is the right word here

He couldn't talk down to me because I was the same fucking height as him.

this made me laugh; you can really tell she’s just absolutely gleeful about this

I loved watching him look so utterly taken aback; it was like sex. Well. Not that I knew what sex was, but I assumed it was good with the way I heard some of the others talk about it.

hm this quip felt a little out of place. felt at odds with the rest of the scene.

bluesidra

Oh yeah, a game of Beat-Up-Arceus! I’m always down for that.

What a fun read. I’m of course gobbling up that tasty Lore like Venira gobbles up blood. Yumyum.

As always, you got a very strong voice going on there. It’s really lovely to see Venira go from “a little ANNOYED” to “I will destroy everything with my WRATH!”

But much much more interesting than the writing itself is the worldbuilding here.

Blood really seems to fuck them up badly, huh? It seems to activate the ingrained “god-powers” of the seraphs instantly and without Arceus’ intervention, but in return it seems to prune the user’s personality down to a few traits. In comparison to Venira post blood-drinking, yveltal and giratina look like way better balanced individuals.

This blood-stuff seems to only affect the seraphs though, since the fully grown leggies don’t have a taste for blood any more. Which is good, because my next question would have been: “Wait, don’t humans and pokemon get in contact with blood all the time?” But if it’s only on the very specific case of seraphs that it has these dire consequences, then yeah, that tracks a lot better.

That being said, I turn to Arceus and say “the fuck?” As in, why did he put something so detrimental to his children out there in the first place. This doesn’t seem to be some “Adam and Even enjoy a fruit salad” sort of test. Here, there are actually tangible side-effects other than big daddy being angry over disobedience. I can picture blood having some mythical quality to it that surpasses the simple bodily fluid function, and that this mythical component is necessary to life. But then what about plants? Or mollusks and insects? They have fundamentally different blood from spine-having creatures. If the only two categories of beings across the multiverse is ‘pokemon’ and ‘human,’ does that mean there is no other alien life out there that’s not also human or pokemon? And am I overthinking this?

There are a few other head-scratching moments in this, namely the existence of locks on windows and the fact that Venira comes in the shape of a human girl.

As for the locks: Why are there locks on windows in eden? If Arceus didn’t want his kiddies to escape, he could have made the windows permanently shut. Heck, he could switch from open to closed windows on a whim. So why did he go to the lengths of putting in locks there in the first place? Is it some sort of psychological warfare? Did he put them there specifically to remind them that they’re locked in? Then why are they so easy to pick (and function like locks on earth, with a bolt and tumblers and everything)? Is every technology on earth just a copy of things in eden, and we’re unaware of it? How did we get that knowledge? (I’m overthinking this, am I?)

Then there’s the fact that Venira is in the shape of a human girl. I don’t quite get the narrative benefit from it, to be honest. Of course, the fact that Arceus can force these forms upon his seraphs is incredibly cruel and sent shivers down my spine every time I read it. And I already accepted that Arceus isn’t the brightest llama to ever get stuck in a fence, but if he’s so afraid of his children tasting blood, then why did he turn one of them into a human shaped bag full of ripe blood?! Presumably the seraphs wouldn’t bleed blood but ichor upon being wounded, but if it’s not a 100% transformation, why do it in the first place? Also, my dumb juvenile brain read the entire section about Arceus yelling at Venira, a small girl, for asking about blood as a period joke.

Oh, and one last thing about the worldbuilding: I wonder what Arceus had planned for the seven seraphs. The fact that they already had personalities and names matching what humans will later refer to as the seven deadly sins means they had a predisposition to these traits already. So if Arceus had a “good” version of them planned, I wonder what they would have looked like. And if he ever got around to creating them. It also means that these traits are engrained into all of creation, seeing as wrath was clearly a factor when the doggo killed the other one (it clearly wasn’t hunger) without Venira even existing in her final form, and the sins are just an exaggerated(?) version of them.

Anyway, so much for the poking. Those aren’t really points of criticism, just some things that came to mind when I was reading it.

All the other things that came to mind were (palpatine voice) “yeeeees… let the hatred flow through you.” It was such a cathartic read from beginning to end with just how blatant Venira is. And witnessing such a power surge is always fun. Especially against Arceus, who you managed to paint in a really nasty, but powerful way. It was almost a bit sad that he gave in so easily at the end. Part of me just wanted to see him whip out his god-powers and erase Venira from existence. But while he disappoints as a god in the last scene, he more than makes up for it as an abuser getting his comeuppance.

A really enjoyable read, especially if one knows the context. I don’t know what it is about your stuff that makes me thonk about the worldbuilding so much, but it really ropes me in that way.
Cheers, blue

Dragonfree

This story has a very distinct and fun narrative voice, and I enjoy the concept of this twisted, legendary Pokémon-flavored reframing of the Christian story of the Fall.

I think you do a nice job here with portraying Venira's relationship with Arceus in particular - him as this controlling father figure who is nonetheless ultimately just trying to keep her from becoming a corrupted beast dependent on blood, her in this teenage rebellion sort of phase, not understanding the emotions she's feeling but just knowing she wants to defy him and be away from him, but realizing over the course of the story that she's afraid of him and that he's legitimately abusive towards her. Arceus probably just wanted to raise a good crop of legendaries and give them domains, but he went about it entirely the wrong way, and his treatment of Venira is genuinely ugly, in the way of actual abusive parents. Venira learning to name and understand her emotions is a fun touch throughout, coming to a satisfying head as she slakes her bloodlust and finally manages to name wrath (the use of unusual formatting was fun in that bit). Her final confrontation with Arceus is both viscerally satisfying, from her point of view, and also thoroughly Oh No; we can have a certain sympathy for Arceus in his shock at losing his children to becoming embodiments of the deadly sins, even while acknowledging he's an abusive dick.

I'm left sort of curious about Arceus's angle here generally. Venira mentions Arceus gave her a hairpin, and that's sufficient to unlock her window, which she calls attention to as being kind of dumb on Arceus's part; it made me wonder if Arceus had actually meant for this to happen all along, but the final scene makes me feel more like his shock is genuine. No one calls into question that he created the seraphs, which makes me wonder why they were created this way, whether something made it impossible for him to simply not make them hunger for blood, or if it happened by accident in some way he couldn't predict. All in all it makes me curious about Arceus's role in this universe from here - is he now out there trying to stop his vampire children? These aren't really criticisms, per se, so much as just the questions that I pondered as I read, knowing this is a spinoff of a larger story; as a free-standing story and entry in the contest, though, it does leave a lot of things ambiguous.

I do feel that as the legendary POV goes, in this story it's easy to forget at times that Venira even is a legendary Pokémon - her vibes feel strikingly like a human teenager a lot of the time, even as she's still in the process of learning emotion words and is casually talking about eating asteroids. In scenes like the one where she eats starfruits with Avareed while obviously crushing on him, I feel distinctly like I'm just reading about humans with magic powers raised in a quirky place. That's not inherently a bad thing - legendaries being able to take human form and/or being very humanlike in thinking is a perfectly valid choice for stories where that's the kind of legendaries the story needs. But it does mean in a contest that's about exploring legendary POVs, it might make it a little less noteworthy for the theme aspect.

There were a number of mechanical mistakes here and there, including several instances of homophone confusion ("bearing his teeth", "taught lips") and some present tense - something worth watching out for with a beta, I think. But it wasn't majorly distracting and didn't interrupt my reading much; for the most part it read smoothly.

All in all, I enjoyed the premise and core character dynamic of this story in particular and how you built up to the emotional climax. For the purposes of the contest I felt it did less with the legendary POV per se than some of the other entries, but as a story it was a fun read, and definitely intriguing backstory for Venira and her siblings.

Flyg0n

From the very start, the story is well entrenched in Venira’s pov. I love how you use the unique word choices, vocabulary, and even formatting to communicate Venira’s frustration, lack of knowledge, and of course wrath. She almost feels slightly childish in her outlook and world view. You do a good job communicating the idea of immaturity without straying too far from the idea of these powerful beings. Though I have to say I do wonder about age and developmental growth. No wonder Arceus didn’t want to give her anything yet.

I’m also fascinated by your worldbuilding here. It’s actually a really interesting idea here how Arceus is the one who specifically grants a domain to a seraph after a period of education. Seraphs also seem to switch freely between forms, but that kind of power can’t be used once you’re given form.

I think the highlight for me is definitely the relationship between Venira and Seraphs and Arceus. On my first reading, I initially believed it to simply be a case of pure rebellion and disobedience on Venira’s part. On my subsequent readings, I got the impression more was going on under the surface. Between Venira’s fear and Arceus' behavior, I wondered how much of it was Venira’s rebellious nature. Arceus gives off some tough vibes, even as a mostly benevolent creator here. Arceus definitely had his reasons not to allow them, ones I understand, but slides into harshness as well.

I appreciate the casual mentions of different relationships legendaries have with one another, and their strange starry Eden domain. These definitely add a sense of scope and grandeur. Giratina and Yveltal are sort of outcasts, and hang out, while others have either antagonistic or distant relations like how Venira seems to have a distaste for Palkia.

The culmination of the rebellion, with Venira escaping Eden and going to Earth and tasting blood was really cool, especially using the progressively larger font sizes and bold text. Very different. I think it worked great for this kind of story.

As a whole, I definitely enjoyed this glimpse of a fakemon blood based legendary, and their backstory for the rebellion they are about to start. As a small note, I found it kind of odd that in the face of all these mystical powers and whimsical places, apparently escaping Eden simply required... lockpicking a window? I definitely would have expected a magical seal or some other kind of way of keeping Seraphs in (although I suppose if he could keep them in human form it makes some sense?And I guess Arceus was being arrogant). Surprisingly plain and not magical.

Either way, a great story overall! Creating a well established lore for fakemon isn’t an easy task, and this story does it well.
 

Negrek

komorebi
Staff
"Only Human" by Shiny Phantump

When you’re as old as time, the years start to blur together. I remember the first few moments so incredibly clearly, how long Dialga’s tentative first few seconds felt. The feeling of my siblings inventing their domains, creating their vessels. I recall my indecision, how my own vessel was a product of it. In a way the role that its invention begot was, too.

So burned into my mind as those formative memories are, the rise and fall of entire civilizations seems like but a passing moment in comparison.

I try to enjoy each ephemeral culture while it lasts. That time, it was a music festival. Music’s always been my favourite of the arts. Each song, a series of repeating patterns, but always distinct. Every one carrying a distinct impression of the culture it emerged from. It feels like a fitting representation of humanity as a species.

That one wasn’t worth it, though. Don’t get me wrong, the music was good, but… it was all downhill from there. I don’t know how they recognized me, how they knew what I was. I make each of my bodies carefully uninteresting, normal, but unique from my past forms. It didn’t save me this time. I was only alerted to the fact that my cover was blown by the hiss of pneumatics, and a sharp pain in the back of my body’s right shoulder...


Judge Comments

Chibi Pika

Now here’s a fun concept—a legend lowered to that of a mortal, a powerlessness so thorough it’s best described as human. But beyond the loss of power, there’s the loss of self, since the psychic being that is the real Mew has been cut off from the body. Such a painfully tiny fraction of the whole, having to deduce what’s new and unfamiliar by what emotion the memories held before the suppression.

I like how you play with how your perception of time is linked to how long you’ve existed, and that, for all accounts and purposes, Mew has now existed in this persona for… all of a few hours maybe, if we total up all the memories left? The idea of a gap in your consciousness resulting in a new you, exactly identical but different somehow… It’s eerie stuff.

I liked the depth of the powerlessness that we got, but I think I’d have liked to see a bit more of the contrast firsthand—while we got plenty of time to become very acquainted with Mew’s new vulnerable state, it’d be nice to be able to compare that with their previous experience as a legend: what all that power felt like, what it meant to have a disconnected consciousness before it was all ripped away. That would help make the following segment feel instantly different to the reader, outside of what Mew is telling us.

Still, if I’m going to be told things, it certainly helps that the narrative voice is very strong. Tons of personality, and loads of fun observations. Giovanni positively oozes presence. Just a few small well-placed descriptors and a whole lotta vibes.

(Minor nitpick/question, but can Mew speak verbally, in human language? I’d assume telepathy would be cut off by the suppressor, unless it specifically has an exception built in or something.)

I think I got a bit confused by the identity of the doctor. “Dr. Alan” seemed like an obvious lie when the narration made him sound exactly like Fuji. And then Mew switches to calling him Fuji without the narration remarking on it. But then later, Alan and Fuji are both mentioned in the same breath as if they’re different people, which was a real “huh” moment.

I also was a bit confused as to why Mew’s genome doesn’t have any code for a nervous system when the current vessel, with the suppressor active, has local memory, dreams, etc. while being cut off from the timeless psychic persona. Does the genome not actually code for those things because the vessel was generated through spontaneous transformation?

Still, the revelation that needing a human brain was the key to making the Mewtwo project succeed was definitely neat. Being a legend means having a body that is merely a vessel for the timeless self. And when that same legend is lowered to the level of a human, it leaves a scar, a scar in endless time. It’s a fascinating direction to take the contest theme and I think you did a great job exploring it.

HelloYellow17

What a delightfully unique one-shot this is! I’ll admit it took me a second to figure out what was happening in the beginning, but once I understood, it was a fascinating read.

The whole concept of Mew’s identity crisis and low-key body horror is really interesting here. The idea that they can’t sense everything anymore, are cut off from their powers, is pretty horrifying. I love the dialogue in particular, and I think that’s where the writing really shines. It’s a brutal environment in Team Rocket, and nobody is anybody’s friend. Proton is the closest thing Mew has to a friend, but they both make it clear they’re just joining hands to use each other to their mutual benefit. It’s cold and harsh, but it definitely checks out given the circumstances.

I do have a couple hang-ups, though—one is that Mew, while in a human body, still seems weirdly too human for an ageless legendary Pokémon. It felt odd to me that they were casually chatting with the other scientists like a normal human would, even using sarcasm and dry humor and curse words. It felt a little too human for me, and you’d think that an immortal creature that avoided direct interaction with humans would have a distinct way of speaking—especially since they are so unused to being cut off from their psychic powers.

I also didn’t fully understand the “I shouldn’t have looked” section. Shouldn’t have looked at their psychic memories over the last few days? Shouldn’t have looked at the Rocket hideout? It’s not clear what Mew saw that scared them so badly, and then we cut to the end with Mewtwo, where Mew’s motivations are still very unclear. The ending felt abrupt and a bit muddled, and I’m not exactly sure what I as a reader was supposed to interpret from it. It seems this was meant to be a Mewtwo origin story, but because the focus was all on Mew (and most of it on their discomfort at being cut off from their power), it didn’t fully feel like one, so I think that’s why the ending didn’t completely connect for me.

I think if you added some scenes where Mew saw hints at what they were creating, or even sensed something about Mewtwo’s consciousness as he came to life, that would tie it all together more neatly. How does Mew feel about the experiment they’re creating? Do they feel some kind of moral obligation or responsibility for it, since Team Rocket is using their DNA to create Mewtwo? I feel like the choice to only focus on their physical discomfort about being a test subject takes a little bit away from the rest of the plot.

I did really enjoy the various character dynamics here though, especially between Mew and Proton and the subtle hints of guilt from Proton. Love that kind of stuff, and you nailed it.

lisianthus

Wow, there have been a lot of entries based on the movies!! Luckily for me, I'm actually semi-familliar with the plot of this one... Although I don't have much of a stomach for body horror, I actually thought this fic was quite gripping! Mew felt very 'human' in its characterization, which, of course, is reflective of the title of the story ahaha. Mew, being of course anything but human by design, coming to terms with its new existence is a very unique outlook on the prompt, and I really did enjoy reading this! The contrast of the 'softness', I'll say, of Mew's appearance, and the 'grittiness'(?) of this story wasn't lost on me, as well. I wonder if there'll be a continuation someday...?

Sinderella

Do I dare say this story gave me a new respect for Mew? It certainly felt that way; I was really into this characterization of them. I was not expecting this story to open with a human-shaped Mew getting gunned down at Coachella, but here we are! What a hook!

Why am I not surprised Giovanni was involved in all of this? When I was first reading through it, I had to assume that all of this had something to do with the creation of Mewtwo? Somehow? I am blissfully unaware of all things Kanto and Johto so I had a great time trying to speculate what the end goal was here without having to look anything up for supplementary reading. And honestly, this story did well in summing everything I needed to know up!

I also have to say I really enjoyed the like visceral explanations of how it felt to be human? It really felt like I was inside Mew’s head and getting to the gritty of how they felt being trapped and unable to change forms. I also liked just how done Mew was with everything. I see a lot of characterizations of Mew as pretty jovial and friendly, but this one was dropping F bombs and trying to finesse some guards into letting them out. Lets fucking go Mew!

Also yes, Proton is easier on the eyes. You fucking got that right. I think the antagonistic yet weirdly civil relationship he had with Mew was one of the highlights of this story for me. Alan was only nice until Mew wouldn’t cooperate, Ariana just seemed like she was there, and Proton just wanted to watch the world burn. When he gave Mew the key to get out and asked them to blame it on Ariana, I audibly SCREAMED. Like, what an asshole move, I am so here for it. I did not think escape for Mew was going to be that easy but, hey! Coworker quarrels trump all I guess?

And holy shit, the fact that it was only 4 days that passed between when Mew was caught to when they got free? You had me feeling like it had been a month, or longer…which, good, because judging by Mew’s reaction to that revelation, they felt the same.

In terms of criticism, there were bits of the prose that I felt got a little too wordy. Mostly at the beginning, I think. I had to reread it a few times to get the gist that Mew had been shot at, got away, and then passed out and woke up. There were also a few paragraphs toward the end that took me a few reads to fully grasp what the exposition as trying to say. I would like to blame some of that on the fact I read it with a bit of a sleepy eye at first, but it might be something to consider looking over again in the event you make any edits.

Very cool and thoughtful story, and I enjoyed it a lot! Thank you for the read, and congrats on your entry!
 

Negrek

komorebi
Staff
"Retribution" by AbraPunk

Dead, decomposing ocean-life drifted across the murky waters, bits of flesh peeling to scatter in the endless abyss. An encroaching black mass further tainted the waters, turning both it and the distant sands into an all-consuming void.

Elsewhere, metal abominations came to life, and mindlessly tore through trees and animals alike, severing bark from root, and flesh from bone, spurred on only by the humans controlling them, those who were intoxicated purely by the joy of destroying that on which they relied to survive.

He watched as the humans continued their massacre of the natural world, and felt bitter bile borne of hatred rise in his throat as they
laughed.

They laughed, as though they didn’t have a care in the world, as though this wasn’t utter desecration of everything that he had ever made.

If they were going to treat the earth as though it were disposable,
replaceable… he would show the humans that they were expendable, not nature...

Read the rest: TR

Judge Comments

Chibi Pika

The first thing that jumps out at me while reading the intro is that I think this would hit a lot harder if we got to see what was lost. We open with the evils of humanity and destruction on full display, but we never got to see the beauty of what came before, so we have to take for granted that what came before was worthwhile. Of course, I can infer that Nature Is Good, but loss always has more of an impact when it inspires mourning for what was taken—when it shows the reader why they should care.

It’s interesting that the creator lambasts humans for their indiscriminate killing but feels nothing when doing it himself—I would have liked to see this get explored. Does he feel that the other legends were borne of him, so it’s no real loss for their essence to return to him? Does he feel it’s a necessary sacrifice—more death, but in the service of the world’s rebirth? The narration suggests that he resents or looks down on them, those guardians of his creation—does he blame them for allowing the human blight to get this bad?

We get a little bit more development with Reshiram and Zekrom that we didn’t get with the other legends, and that’s when the narration finally remarks that the other legends would have wanted a diplomatic solution. I think it would have been good to get an earlier hint of this, so the reader wasn’t left hanging, not knowing if there was going to be a reason after it had been brushed off as “inane questions.” Something like “he’d heard all of their excuses before, their reasons for not doing anything, and he wasn’t going to stand for it anymore”—that’s the sort of thing that primes the reader to expect more later, as opposed to figuring that the story probably just won’t tell us.

(Side note, but lightning as silent and passive is pretty strange for a metaphor—I wouldn’t have associated it with either of those things!)

Zekrom tells the creator that he is a fool for believing he’s doing the right thing and then dies without another word. This is pretty powerful in the moment… but I can’t help but wish that the story had given me any reasons to believe that the creator might be wrong for doing this, even if it feels true to him. Why is he so certain that the others are wrong, and that his solution is the only way? Have they gone through this song and dance before? Had the others ignored his warnings? Were they complicit in the world getting to be that bad? Razing the humans also means choking out the natural world as well—does the creator view that as a necessary sacrifice, or does it just truly not matter to him?

In the end, there is rebirth. The creator vows that next time, he’ll ensure that it would not happen again. But I can’t help but wonder what he intends to do differently. What did he do wrong before? Was creating humans the thing that spelled the world’s doom? But he doesn’t seem to regret creating them, nor does he intend to simply fail to recreate them. It’s also unclear how humans would learn their lesson if no one can pass on the tale of their downfall. I’d almost expect that razing their cities and leaving survivors in a broken world stripped of the power that they’d once had would be more humbling. With this outcome, it’s hard to see how any lesson could be learned. Starting over might quell the hatred that consumed him, but he’s not done anything to actually bring about a change.

And it could be entirely possible that that’s the point! The endless cycle of a creator consumed by useless, impotent hatred, unable to see any way out. Unable to do anything but temporarily soothe his own hatred. A tragic purgatory of his own making. But if that is the point, I’d like more exploration of his perspective.

Overall, there’s some good stuff here—namely strong prose with solid dramatic timing. I just would have liked more fleshing out of our central creator POV to make him feel a bit more nuanced and three-dimensional.

HelloYellow17

Oooh. Okay now I gotta ask if you’ve seen the latest Guardians of the Galaxy movie, because the POV character here (who I assume is Arceus?) is strikingly similar to the villain in said movie. Which is to say, they’re both totally unhinged. :copyka:

I have to say, I struggled a bit with this, because there’s such a distance between the reader and the characters, and there was very little, if any, sense of space. I couldn’t visualize what was happening very well because it was all so vague, and I’m not even sure where the actual events took place? Arceus is…somewhere, killing legendaries and apparently forming a blood circle of sorts around him, but where is this exactly? I literally envisioned all of these interactions in a blank gray room, because there were no descriptions given whatsoever.

As a reader, I felt quite removed from the events, because every character here is completely nameless—in fact, we don’t even get any species name drops, either. That seems like it was a stylistic choice, and I respect that, though the consequence of it is that I didn’t feel fully invested, and it was also confusing at some parts what Pokémon I’m even supposed to be picturing in the scenes—specifically, the “incarnations of fire and lightning.”

There are several legendaries that could apply here, and we aren’t given any additional info to help narrow it down so that the reader can get a better visual of who is even in the scene. My first thought was Zapdos/Moltres or Raikou/Entei, but then at one point the lighting one “spreads their arms”, so my brain went, “Wait—arms? Uhh so Zeraora, then?” But it could have been Thundrus or Zekrom, too. I had no idea because it’s never made clear, and I think there are plenty of ways you could make it clear without having to name drop the species, such as providing more physical descriptions.

The lack of specificity made it hard to get invested in the plot, as well. We know the humans are destroying nature, but we don’t really see anything super specific beyond a few throwaway lines about their metal machines destroying trees. And I have to admit that the image of all of humanity mercilessly polluting the ocean and tearing down forests while laughing did seem a bit, well…gratuitous. I wasn’t sure if the narrative was trying to convince us that humanity in this world was genuinely, objectively like this, or if it’s meant to be a bit distorted from Arceus’ POV. In the same vein, I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to be rooting for Arceus in the end or not, as the narration itself is quite malicious and vengeful, and we never see Arceus show any regret for his actions…yet his actions are objectively abhorrent and pretty despicable, and the narrative doesn’t address this save for one line of dialogue from our unknown electric legendary. Deciding to immediately raze the whole planet, destroying millions of innocent lives, and murdering all of his legendary subjects simply because he wasn’t interested in debating with them does not paint a favorable picture! (Unless the argument is that every living being on this planet was evil and deserved to die, which again, feels like a massive stretch to me. Not only this, but what about the Pokémon in this world? Are they all evil and deserving of retribution (heh) too?)

I will say though that there is an interesting bit of hubris in this story at the very end—that in his quest to destroy humanity, there was nothing left of the earth, either, which was the very thing Arceus set out to protect. It’s a story of overkill—literally! :copyka: This self-destructive, self-fulfilling prophecy makes for some fun analysis, and I think you could have lingered on it a little more! There’s some fun potential there to wrap up the story as a bitter tale of going too far for one’s own ends. This would also make the actual goal of the story to be more clear, because as it stands, I’m not sure what it was trying to accomplish other than showing lots of violence…which is fine, but violence works best when it serves the narrative, and the narrative didn’t seem to have any purpose other than the violence itself, which in the end made both fall a bit flat.

I think this story has a lot of potential that can be reached by filling in details, making things more personal and specific, and being a bit clearer on what the narrative is trying to say. Is it trying to teach a lesson on morality, or is it simply an overpowered god throwing a fit and that’s all there is to it? Either one is great, but it will serve you best to lean into one or the other more strongly, I think!

lisianthus

Sadly, I think my enjoyment of this was hampered by my not having a great stomach for gore and death. The meat of the story, though, makes for some interesting reading! I don't think I can recall any canon stories of earthwide raptures, and to be honest? In that regard I do think that this is such a neat take on the prompt! I believe? that the Pokémon described here may be Yveltal, but I'm not quite sure — I think the open-endedness here really makes the story feel a bit more like an origin story... moreso a story out of mythology? Vengeful gods are very neat to hear about, and this story characterized them well!

Sinderella

Okay, so this takes an apocalyptic turn on things. The beginning really hooked me; it seems to me that our unnamed POV character is hunting down all the legendaries and just straight up killing them to inflict punishment on humans. Oh gods, what did the humans do to insight this kind of wrath?

Even though there was no dialogue, I felt…bad for all these legends who died. I could picture them approaching the Unnamed POV wondering why the hell they were summoned only to be brutally torn apart for the sake of some damnation ritual. From my understanding, it seems that killing them and spilling their blood causes the apocalypse-like things to happen. Killing Lugia, Kyogre, and Palkia resulted in the seas rising and swallowing cities, and I assume it would be the same result for the rest of them. That’s…so shitty, lol.

Clearly this POV character has the supreme god complex, and I have to assume its Arceus. His brethren would have wanted to make amends with whatever the humans did to piss him off so badly, and instead of going along with the majority he just brutally offs them. That’s terrible and somehow so juicy.

I have to say, I really did enjoy the narrative that was formed within these three pages. You had 10,000 words, but didn’t need to use them all to convey this story well, so kudos! That said, I do wish you had. This is all a matter of personal preference, because I do understand the aim of wanting to keep things ambiguous and up in the air, but I would have liked to have seen just a little more. Some hints at what the humans did to insight the wrath, maybe some dialgue or extra explanation on who was who (because I will admit, there were a few where I had to sit and think. Maybe that was the point LOL). Overall, I also would have liked to have known who the POV character was. I could safely assume, but a little added hints here and there might have bolstered this story some more. Maybe even add some more about this ritual he just did? A lot of it was written like we’re supposed to know what happened without needed it explained and while, again, I understand the merit of that, I craved just a little more about it.

This was a great short story, and I appreciate you so much for writing it! Thanks for the good read and congrats on your entry!
 
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Negrek

komorebi
Staff
"Searching for a Resolution" by JFought
Third Place Miraidon Flight

Two pokémon trekked up the narrow forest path. Trees crowded the road’s edges, their branches arching to cover the sky with their leaves. Though it wasn’t enough to blot out the sight of the tower that stood tall above them all, its gleaming white visage peeking through the canopy.

Keldeo kept his eyes on it as they walked, peering past his blue ridged horn. It wasn’t like he had much to talk about with the gumshoos he was traveling with, and something about the hilly ascent had him feeling anticipatory. Though it might’ve just been the weight of his satchel harness against the hill, and besides, his mind had been on a lot of things lately.

“Don’t count on getting a good look from here,” said the gumshoos, breaking through his thoughts.

Keldeo brought his gaze back to the earth. “Oh, no, I was just thinking.”

“Really?” The tower’s groundskeeper didn’t emote much. He kept his paws behind his back while his tail dragged behind him, staring forward as if he wasn’t currently escorting a legendary pokémon. “Y’know, normally I’d expect a ‘mon like you to be above taking a simple inspection request like this one.”

The groundskeeper wouldn’t have been the first to say something like that. “I think you might have some unrealistic expectations of what being an adventurer entails,” Keldeo replied...


Judge Comments

Chibi Pika

So we’ve got a couple of intriguing paradoxes right off the bat—the tower with healing properties, whether it affects the wilds, why it’s closed off, why more people don’t visit, etc. I like how you set up the intrigue early, it keeps the reader wanting to know more. There’s some nice tension with the wild encounter in the tower, and a real heavy presence with Cobalion’s voice looming over our protagonist. Plus some early hinting that Keldeo is torn between being a hero in society, and the honor of the wild.

I did get the feeling this premise would work equally well without a legendary protagonist since the main conflict is society vs wild rather than anything pertaining to legends protecting mortals (and the town folk could easily be just as awed because of his folk hero status as his legendary status). But that’s a pretty minor nitpick, and I think you used Keldeo’s relationships with the other Swords to great effect. I enjoyed the use of the flashbacks, and I think they gave each of the Swords a strong characterization in a short amount of time.

The obviously different body language for Manectric, as well as ‘friendly’ as code for wild was a nice touch that made her instantly Different as well as instantly endearing. It’s very easy to sympathize with Keldeo feeling stuck between following the law and doing what’s right.

I think some of the exposition did feel somewhat flat and dragged out, and a fair amount of it seemed, to me, like it could be trimmed up. In particular, some parts where the narration restated things that Keldeo had just learned, and a few dialogue exchanges that went a biiiit long without any additional information.

The pacing of the battle was the weirdest bit. A ton of internal monologue before any of the combat, and the baron is panicking before it even starts, which makes it feel weird that he even accepted it. I could certainly see him being old and prideful and Keldeo being stronger than he bargained for, but the panic before the battle even began just felt… strange. And then the battle is over in a single paragraph and it felt almost… anticlimactic. I think it would have been more effective if baron appeared very calm and collected (not letting on that he’s in a real catch-22 until after the fight), and counters Keldeo’s first few moves, but is playing things too safe and Keldeo has to make a bold move to catch him off-guard. This would also mirror how Keldeo himself had played things safe with his reputation until now, and is making a bold move by standing up to authority in the first place.

That said, I did quite like their convo afterward, and the baron’s answer helped add depth to the situation. In a way, Keldeo was in a uniquely advantageous position because of his title as a hero of the people—there’s no way Cobalion could have achieved such a favorable outcome with force alone, and that’s pretty vindicating. Overall I think you did a good job conveying Keldeo’s principles and his relationships and how those shaped his decisions, and his arc concludes on a satisfying note.

HelloYellow17

This was a really lovely story! From the pacing to the descriptive details, it flowed really nicely for me as a reader, and the characters all have such distinct personalities despite their short screen times. My favorite is the way you’ve sprinkled worldbuilding throughout the story—never spelling it out outright, but leaving details here and there for the reader to piece everything together themselves. Doing it this way prevents the pacing from getting bogged down with exposition, and you did so skillfully!

I also enjoyed that not all the conflict was totally resolved by the end. Keldeo still had a lot to work through with the other Swords, especially Cobalion, and the festering, painful rift between them and him was very distinct. The way his thoughts kept straying to how each of them would react in different scenarios, the way he misses them and yet clearly has lots of unresolved anger at the same time…it was very raw and well done.

If I had one criticism, it’s that there’s a lot of set-up for the main conflict, but then the conflict is resolved rather quickly. I feel like a little more could have been added there, either making the duel more drawn out and difficult for both sides, or Keldeo trying other avenues to get Guarde to listen to reason at first before resorting to a duel. The set-up itself was really nicely done, not too fast or too slow, but the resolution (ha) did feel a tad too easily won after all of that.

That said, I really liked this one-shot. It was a fun and refreshing take on the PMD world, especially through a legendary’s eyes, and particularly through the eyes of a legendary who, according to some, abandoned his post to live and work with the “civilized” mon. The whole dynamic of civilized vs “savages” (yuck) is a really solid basis for a longfic, tbh. You could easily turn this into a longfic and I, for one, would be eager to read it! There’s so much to explore here with some tasty angst, political tension, moral dilemmas, and so on. Especially now that you’ve shown that even legendaries are divided on this particular issue!

The pacing, scene setting, characterizations, and theme applications were all fantastic. You did a great job with this one-shot. Well done!

lisianthus

Possibly oddly enough, this felt like it could have been the plot of a Disney movie, and I say that in a very positive way!! This was quite a wholesome little story... it being a humanlike society but with only pokémon was quite an interesting, and possibly rare(?) thing as well. Maybe the PMD universe is like this? Although I'm not too sure if that's the case ahaha. There was quite a lot of setting and plot that felt as though it had to be from an existing series??? And if it wasn't, to the author: Please consider expanding on this! The characters all seemed so rich, with so many untold tales and moments hidden beneath every single line — I feel as though it'd be almost a travesty to not do something with this in the future!? Although that's just me talking of course. Great job!!

Sinderella

I think this was my only blatant PMD entry. This was a nice change of scenery, and a really fun read! Keldeo was not a POV I was expecting to see, but it was a welcome one no less!

The premise was quite interesting to me. I’m going to throw out the obligatory “I know virtually nothing about PMD that isn’t in fics” so I’m not entirely sure if you made most of this up or if this stuff is canon. I’m going to assume the former for now, though.

So it appears Keldeo is definitely known as a legendary, but has found his place in being an adventurer like any standard Mystery Dungeon explorer. His “family,” I would think, are quite mixed on his decision to become an adventurer. Terrakion seems supportive, Virizion much less so, and Cobalion is just not with the shits whatsoever. I feel kind of bad for him, honestly. I get the vibe he enjoys what he’s doing, but he spends the whole time worried about what Cobalion thinks of him, so much so that he’s just a voice in Keldeo’s head the whole time. Like an overbearing, disapproving parent. That really sucks.

I was into the main conflict here. A tower that heals, a rich man who doesn’t want anyone to use it, and Keldeo trying to figure out how to make it all work, all while dealing with the weight of the family he’d left behind to do this work. It seems by the end of it he’s still “searching for his reason” for doing what he does, being that Cobalion’s words affected him so deeply, and honestly…I think I fuck with that. I like that, while his issue at hand has been solved, his personal ones are not, even after 700 years. He still has some work to do, and that’s okay.

The flashback to the talk with Cobalion did leave me with some questions though. I did like how his speech about “hey the needs of wild pokemon clash with the needs of society, you’re fucking them over too” and how that tied in at the end with Keldeo insisting the tower be open to both wild and civilized Pokemon. But, at one point, Cobalion asked “You still do not understand. Do you believe the reason we oppose humans is because they are evil?” and when Keldeo answers “yes” and Cobalion seems to not like that answer, I was left pretty confused and wanting to know what the lore was here. Clearly the humans did SOMETHING bad because Virizion is literally dying because of them.

Speaking of which, the mention of that fact felt like something that should have hit a little harder. Keldeo was so concerned with Virizion not being upset with him and upon finding out she’s dying, he just…kind of forgets about it after a while. I would think he might want to push getting the tower open to the public so he could bring her to it? I feel like that would be something that was on his mind for a while, if he was as concerned for her as the narrative tried to make it seem.

Also, I wanted to see Keldeo go fight the apothecary. There was mention that the guy might be jipping people out of money, but there was a part of me that wondered if the apothecary was falling on hard times himself. Some dialogue out of him might have been nice.

Thanks so much for writing this! I really had fun with it! Congrats on the entry, and hope to see you around!
 

Negrek

komorebi
Staff
"A Shadow of a Doubt" by Farla

It took so much longer than it should have to place each gilded ball in the nest of wood. Even assembling the simple pile of kindling had been a trial all of its own. The trembling of his hands worsened with each motion, and by the time he was trying to set the final container, with his growlithe within, it slipped from his weakened grip and rolled off five times before he finally succeeded in placing it.

How much had been taken from him. His mind could still run flawless laps, but he could not be a fighter when his failing hands would struggle to even untwist the latch.

But the fruits of his life amounted to a grand offering, one that surely would be enough. The pokemon may have been useless to him in his current state, but they were monuments to what he'd accomplished, and a promise of how much more he could do with the gift of a new form. All his knowledge and skill, no longer having to be crudely filtered through balking flesh.

Some people might hesitate to lose the evidence of their accomplishments, to see what they'd worked so hard at all turned to ash, but he was not such a coward. If Ho-Oh found him wanting, then he did not deserve to be remembered. And if not... After this he would aim for deeds so grand that it would outshine and eclipse all he'd done in his first life enough that such lesser things would fall from memory as well...


Judge Comments

Chibi Pika

Now here’s an interesting premise—a ritual to ascend and become legendary. It’s a unique situation to be in, leaving behind one’s mortal form and all the good and bad that comes with it.

I think I really would have liked to see more attention paid to the significance of the ritual. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it would be useful to bore us with the details of how it works or anything, but making living sacrifices to Ho-oh is a pretty big deal! Does the man believe Ho-oh desires sacrifice? Is this a well-known ritual, a forbidden one? Is he an outlier for thinking Ho-oh desires sacrifice—would other people find the concept blasphemous? Or is he part of a fringe sect who knows the truth that no one else will acknowledge?

Maybe it is forbidden, but he thinks everyone else is cowards for denying it. That would have an ironic bend when you consider that him being so desperate to escape old age and death is a form of cowardice itself—the same thing he might have decried others for. Did he know just what kind of form he would be given? What was he expecting, exactly?

There’s a lot of potential emotion in the setup: the fear, the desperation to succeed, the willingness to give up everything. Or maybe the total blind devotion and certainty that the ritual will succeed. But the main reason I’m asking all these questions and suggesting potential meanings to take away is that the story didn’t give me a lot of answers!

The shift from confidence to cowardice felt a bit jarring. By all accounts the ritual worked and he got what he wanted, and he flees because… Mareep are scary now? Even though he just established how much better this new form is than his old human form. The implied fear of imprisonment is certainly something you could work with, but it’s so abrupt—I would have liked to see that get fleshed out. If this is a world where humans hold power over Pokémon, then that means he gave up that power in order to become a Pokémon—trading one form of vulnerability for another.

In a way, I can kind of see an angle where like, he’s been punished for his cowardice in trying to escape death, unable to shine, relegated to the shadows. But at the same time, he did get what he wanted—this isn’t actually a punishment at all, more of a self-exile. If he still had the confidence that he had before, there’d really be nothing wrong with this outcome!

There’s a lot of really interesting stuff that could be done with this theme, but I think it needed a bit more fleshing out to explore the concept to its fullest.

HelloYellow17

Marshadow fic! Better yet, an origin story fic! I love me a good origin/folklore-esque type of story.

I gotta say, while this is a short entry, you do a great job of getting across the necessary backstory and details in a way that is clear, concise, and works well. I enjoy that you give these details in a very casual sort of way, yet you never resort to spelling it out directly for the reader (such as MC’s debilitating illness, his devotion to Ho-oh, sacrificing his Pokémon as part of his offering, etc.) It never feels like an exposition dump, either, so nicely done!

I will say that, as it is now, this doesn’t quite feel like a complete story. I found myself wanting more. Who is MC? Did he become a trainer solely so he could sacrifice them for this ritual? What’s his relationship with his neighbor, who he knows by name, but who doesn’t seem to show any clear signs of concern for him or his Pokémon after seeing his house burned down? Why is MC such a devout believer in Ho-oh, and what makes him so confident that this ritual will actually work?

And above all: Did the ritual work as intended? Was he expecting a specific form, or happy to settle for anything? Was being turned into Marshadow a sign of Ho-oh accepting him…or was it a punishment, a condemnation?

If you ever plan to work on this story again, these are all great things to think about that can give it more substance, help it pack a harder punch. Maybe we get to see in greater detail who MC was as a person, what kind of trainer he was, what his suffering looked like. Maybe we learn more about what this Marshadow form actually means in regards to Ho-oh’s response, and if this is what he actually wanted, or if it’s a Monkey’s Paw type of situation. There are lots of fascinating things you can do here, as you’ve got a unique concept and good groundwork for further expansion!

I enjoyed this one-shot, and me wanting more means that it was nicely written and has a compelling premise. I’d love to see this fleshed out a bit more into a fuller, more comprehensive story!

lisianthus

Despite the relative shortness of this work, I thought it was pretty interesting. Sadly, I'm not extremely familiar with Gen 2 so some of the plot may have been lost on me, despite that I was able to get quite a bit of it! I'm interested to see if anyone else thinks that the non-capitalization of pokémon names except for ho-oh was more of a stylistic choice to show how 'venerated' ho-oh was by the MC? Again, I would have liked to see much more from this — the premise of a human turning into a Mythical Pokémon leaves a lot of different plot devices open for the author, but I wish we could have seen more.

Sinderella

Wow, I was actually so impressed by this story. You had a 10,000 word limit and managed to tell a really compelling story in about 1000ish. I was not expecting this one to be my favorite out of the bunch, but this one wowed me.

The start was downright horrific–like, did this trainer just decide to sacrifice his entire team for the sake of a new body? Was he really that unhappy in life that it was worth killing himself and his Pokemon? It seems like the perfect ritual, though…you get a new body when you burn yourself and some offerings alive. Something about that really interested me and I wanted to learn more about it, honestly, but even so, I loved how concise and to the point you kept this. You got all the details we needed in without overinflating it, and tied it all together within the last few paragraphs.

When I initially read through it I was kind of confused, but it was those final lines that really tied everything together. He sacrificed himself for a new body and ended up as a Marshadow. Known for its cowardice. It seems this guy committed the ultimate cowardly act–leaving his life and taking his poor Pokemon with him because there was just some reason he couldn’t deal with it–and now apparently has to live life as a cowardly mythic. I think I would dare call that chilling? It instilled some unease in me and I fucking loved it.

I wish I could make this review longer but hand to the sky, I have no notes. All I can do is gush and say you did a great job, and big congrats on your entry!

Well done!
 

Negrek

komorebi
Staff
"A Voice's Burden" by IFBench

It wasn’t like you had been unprepared for this. Mew painstakingly trained you for this position, giving as much guidance and support as they could.

And yet, now, with your mentor gone, off into the distant future, you were left alone, lost.

But you were the Voice of Life now. You had a responsibility to take care of the world, and help those who arrive to it.

It was time to put what you had learned from Mew into practice...


Judge Comments

auspicious

Ooo, a piece in second person! And about a ninetales! Very cool. You made an interesting choice, picking ninetales in a Legends themed oneshot contest - I was quite curious how you would pull it off. And this is quite a neat idea, picking a PMD character, who’s been bestowed godly(?) powers. Fair warning, my PMD knowledge is a little patchy; so I’m not entirely sure what’s canon here, and what’s not.

Okay, first: what I liked about this. Again, this is a very neat idea; as far as I know, we don’t know who the Voice of Life was before Hydreigon, and expanding on them and having them be the reason for the first PMD protagonist’s arrival into the human world, and also tied into the ninetales from the first PMD games was very cool. (A con of this is that a few of the ninetails’s actions here do feel like they were just to fit in with the pre-existing plot, rather than the character, though; cursing the human who pulled their tail feels a little odd and reactive, considering she spends most of the story bemoaning how passive she is.)

I also kind of wish you delved a little bit more into the character - fleshed out their backstory a bit more, perhaps. How did they meet Mew? Why did Mew pick them to be the Voice of Life, if they feel so unsuited for it? Did they want to be the Voice of Life at first? If so, did their feelings on this change along the way? I also think expanding a little bit more on Ninetail’s reasoning for picking Deino would have been good - something else that feels a little like it was just in there because it was what happened in canon. Instead of just listing traits about Deino, maybe show them having a conversation. Show them building a relationship or rapport, or something that would give Ninetails a reason to choose Deino as their successor. Because if Ninetails wanted someone being hopeful, driven, and wanting to make a difference - well, that could have been even Lidequire/the PMD protagonist, if that was all it took.
Overall: fun idea, but fleshing out the details and backstory and motivations of the character this is centered on would give it more oomph and impact. Thanks for submitting :).

bluesidra

Oh wow. Hello, pmd, it’s been a while. As always, disclaimer that I know next to nothing about pmd, having never played the games myself.

With that in mind, I only made it to the third scene without confusion. For the Cobalt Coastland part, I needed to do some backup-reading and asking people for context to understand what was going on, because initially I thought this would somehow link pmd and pla. But it turns out, the legend of ninetails is A Thing in pmd. And after a bit more reading I learned that the Hydreigon and the Voice of Life are Things in pmd. Oh boy, I’m out of my depths here.

Needless to say, I can’t make any comments on if this is a novel spin on canon, or true to it, or anything. I’ll try to stick to what I can.

The perspective of such a reluctant Voice of Life is interesting. Especially since they always seemed to be a bit detached, even before any game events. So it must be an innate character trait. I can very much feel for someone who is so reluctant to approach people, it’s almost detrimental. But mew must have seen something in them that made them a worthy Voice. And also, pmd-world made it through the games, didn’t it?

I’m sorry I can’t offer better thoughts on your work. I know just from reading it that this is a very central character to pmd’s happenings, and that I’d be probably over the moon if I only understood half of it. Until I do, I can only say “solid prose and no noticeable typos.”

Cheers – blue

Dragonfree

Looking at the Mystery Dungeon games from the point of view of a Voice of Life was a neat concept, I think. The Voice of Life may not exactly be a legendary Pokémon as conventionally defined, but I think what you do with it feels quite appropriate to the contest theme, focusing on this higher being with a duty to fulfill for the mortals of the realm. Being trained by Mew definitely adds to that as well - a sense that a Voice of Life is ultimately the same sort of being as a legendary, even if they aren't quite called by the same name.

I also think you did a nice job on the general somber atmosphere and narrative voice here - the narration feels very consistent and clear, minimalistic without becoming too sparse, and the second-person POV is a neat choice to put us in their head. Ninetales grapples with a persistent sense of inadequacy and inability to act and difficulty living up to what Mew wanted from them, all the way until they can finally pass that burden on to the to-be Hydreigon.

Ultimately, though, I did find myself wishing this story gave a little more insight into what's behind Ninetales' state of mind. They observe but never approach Mewtwo - why? Ninetales berates themself for it, and then continues to be frustrated with their own inaction, but I'm having a hard time getting a real sense of why, if Ninetales hates their inaction from effectively the start, they don't in fact try to do more. Surely there's some underlying reason that's stopping them - whether that's fear of intervening in the wrong way, curiosity to just see how things play out, some apathetic inability to care what happens to the mortal world, or even just ADHD-esque procrastination where they can't muster the willpower to do the thing even while fully intending to - but it doesn't feel like we get any real insight into what that underlying reason is, why Ninetales actually finds themself so reluctant to intervene despite how much they hate it. And when that seems to be the central thread of the story, I think that's a little unsatisfying; we don't quite get the proper punch of exploring the mindset of a legendary or legendarylike creature because we're not fully diving into where that mindset comes from or what it's about.

Finally, a minor grammatical nitpick: you use rather too many commas where they don't belong, most prominently before most every "and" - generally, you only need a comma before "and" if what comes after the "and" is a full sentence with a subject and verb.

All in all, I do wish this story had a bit more depth to its exploration of the Voice of Life's mental state, but I like the concept and the core of what it's doing - I'd just like to see it fleshed out in a more illuminating way.

Flyg0n

This was such a unique and fascinating entry! Instead of a traditional legendary, we get a story from the pov of the Voice of Life from the PMD games. I think this captured a good impression of how lonely it could feel to be in such a position, as well as a sense of legendary status. I like the lingering sense of doubt that colors the whole story, from the beginning to end, and I definitely think it communicates the gist of what a burden it would be to wield such a power.

I’ll admit, even though I’ve played RT, EoS and Super, my memory is fuzzy so I only sort of grasped what the Voice of Life is, properly. I was definitely able to understand that they are some kind of immortal guardian for the planet/world. And they were meant to protect it from, at the very least, world ending disasters. They can also be given or pass on these powers, and before them was a Mew. But I wasn’t sure if there was an exact creed or rules they’re meant to follow on when to act.

I think what held me back in this story is that while I loved the premise and idea, I struggled to get a true sense of why Ninetales' character struggled so. I liked the idea that an immortal being might not know when or how to intervene, even if that was their job. But why did Ninetales fear it? Did she make some grave mistake early on in her time that caused her to doubt? Did Mew not finish teaching her everything? Was she bitter about being chosen? Or perhaps she thought in the grand scheme of time, actions meant nothing to an immortal. She seemed to be fearful even before her slip up with Gastly. Yet I couldn’t quite grasp why, or even what her thought process was.

Whatever the reason, I think I’d love to see this expanded on. I think some additional internal narration could definitely strengthen the story. In addition, you mention some cool things that aren’t really explained and feel a bit closer to fun asides instead of adding to the narrative and characters (example; ‘mewtwo’? Making this lab feels like a cool headcanon, but how does it add to the Voice’s issue? Perhaps they have an encounter with mewtwo that affects their perspective?)

Either way, there’s lots of really cool elements in this story as a whole that I think could be explored further, particularly things like the brief mention of Dark Matter 3000 years ago, Mew’s relationship to the current Voice, and Ninetales themself. You have an excellent foundation here, and I hope you expand on this entry.
 

Negrek

komorebi
Staff
"Wabi-Sabi" by Cresselia92

Fennel Valley, north of Kanto. Nighttime.

In a dimly lit room of the mansion by the Fennel Lake, Dr. Karl Yung was running the last few calculations for his latest and most ambitious invention. With his glasses illuminated by the giant monitor of his computer, the teal-haired professor checked the many lines of code for the umpteenth time. His newest system was as complex as it was delicate; one error could imply several months of delay to find the failure in the system, and time was something he couldn’t afford anymore.

The young scientist had spent so many years on that project since the moment he proposed his idea to his former colleagues. But rather than acclaim him for thinking of such a wondrous project, those researchers expelled him from the academy and disbarred him, believing that his work was an affront to nature.

What a bunch of ignorants. All of them. He had the future of the world in the palm of his hand and yet failed to realize that.

Well, he was going to prove those fake geniuses wrong. Soon, they would have learned what his holographic creatures could do, and they would have beheld true perfection...


Judge Comments

Chibi Pika

I never would have expected a Mastermind of Mirage Pokémon fic to come out of this contest, and I’m glad to see it. It’s a great way to explore what it means to be an artificial Mew that hits completely different beats from say, Mewtwo. I thought it was creative to have the Mirage Pokémon be generated by crystals from Area Zero—after all, if it was possible to combine technology with those crystals to generate the Paradox mons, then being used for the Mirage System is a natural fit.

There’s a lot of mention of Yung patching the Mirage System’s errors, but it’s never clear what the errors actually were, which gave the story a pretty Hollywood-programming feel. Sure, there’s type weaknesses, and Mirage Pokémon being stripped of those is certainly a difference from organic Pokémon, but I would have liked more exploration of what kind of negative effects the errors actually cause.

The easiest way to make this less vague, in my opinion, is to have Mew’s code start piling up with redundancies—functions of the code that result in Mew’s processes not being as fast/efficient as they could be because he’s experiencing things like curiosity or wonder that don’t strictly need to be there.

You could tie this into his time with Genesis having specific side effects, which would make it more impactful, in my opinion. Things like slower reaction times from no longer thinking like a hyper-efficient machine, or not being as precise in his movements because of mirroring Genesis (as cats do). Or showing Mirage’s empathy leading to slower decision-making because of the time lost from stopping to consider others’ point of view. These are all technically imperfections, after all! And I think having more specific flaws to point out in Mirage other than just “well he must be flawed because no one’s perfect” would help reinforce the theme of those flaws being beautiful.

The other thing that jumped out at me was the recurring vibe of code or data as a substance rather than a set of instructions for something—most noticeable when the Mirage System saps Mew’s data. He screeches in agony as his body is turned into data, but it already is data, so it fell a bit flat for me. You could do a lot with that bit—the creeping dread of senses going offline, the emptiness of no longer being able to perceive the outside world. That said, I did like the feeling of powerlessness you conveyed, the desperation to intervene while being seemingly incapable—as well as the poetic irony that the ‘perfect’ Mewtwo program had a backdoor vulnerability that Mirage could only access because he’d been buried in the system and learned its ins and outs.

Despite my quibbles with the technological side of things, however, I think this piece overall had some strong themes and you did a good job conveying the pressure that Mirage was under, as well as the weight of his desperation and sacrifice.

HelloYellow17

Ok so I had to look up what wabi sabi is, and boy is it a fitting title for this story! I really loved the themes here. Also, shoutout to that random special anime episode! At first I thought this was like an AU version of the first movie until I realized it was based on that episode instead. (I don’t know what it’s called, I haven’t actually seen it myself, I just know it exists.) Anyway, let’s dive in:

Mirage is such a lovely little bean, and his friendship with Genesis is even more pure. She’s so sweet and very Mew-like in her childlike curiosity, desire to befriend anything that moves, and always wanting to play. The cloud scene in particular was a highlight for me. I love simple scenes like that where characters learn important life lessons by looking at the things around them.

I found myself wanting a little more from Dr. Yung as a character. He wants to create perfect Pokémon…but why? It would be interesting to have learned a little more about his backstory and motivation for this project, why he’s so obsessed with it to the point of insanity. Usually people have a very strong, personal reason for devoting themselves so wholly to a project. Maybe he had a close Pokémon partner who died in an accident or from some kind of attack that exploited their type weakness? Maybe he was severely ostracized for even thinking of such a concept, and threw himself into his work in hopes of proving them wrong or even getting revenge? Something like that, that would make his motivations more personal, would go a long way in developing his character. In fact, you do mention revenge here in the story, but it’s very vague and we don’t know specifics. What does he want revenge for? Or who does he want to take revenge against?

I also found myself wondering about the other mirage Pokémon. If Mirage developed a soul (or had one from the beginning), does this mean the others did, too? Or were they just mindless machines and Mirage was the exception? I think this story could have a much bigger impact if all of the characters, not just Mirage, were fleshed out just a tad more.

I love the theme of this story, about overcoming perfectionism and learning that to be imperfect is, in its own way, perfection. Because all living creatures are imperfect, were created that way, and who’s to say we aren’t supposed to be that way? Genesis makes a great point about all the clouds being unique, and that uniqueness wouldn’t really exist if everything was perfect. This theme hits home for me personally.

Last but not least, I love that Mirage does get his happy ending and that he uses it to teach others about self-love and the wonders around them. Very wholesome and heartwarming! A lovely story and a nice light read. Great job!

lisianthus

This one touched my magical girl heart, hehe... my god, the way they formatted this was really, really nice. And I cannot get enough of Genesis!! She was sooooo cute, omg. Honestly the whole story was extremely neat, I felt so bad for Mirage after being betrayed by Dr. Yung! Even though you could see it happening from a mile away. Although I sadly haven't seen the episode of the anime this was based off of sadly, I think the meaning of 侘び寂び, wabisabi, which I'll translate as 'beauty in imperfection' here — was very strong within the plot here. Mirage is such a benevolent soul despite all of their... newness to life itself, really, and I do believe that their being rewarded with a soul in the end was an amazing choice to give them a reward. Accepting that one isn't perfect is a journey that everyone has to go through, right? Even for venerated Pokémon like Legendaries and Mythicals (well, in some canons anyways lol). It was such a cool way of exploring our prompt, like incredibly unique. With that in mind, I hope that Mirage and Genesis will have lots of happy adventures in the future!!!

Sinderella

This one-shot was so sickeningly heart-warming, and I loved it! I had to do a little extra research because the name “Dr. Yung” sounded familiar, and I see this was based off the The Mastermind of Mirage Pokemon episode. I know it came out in like 2006 so it was cool to see Paldea tied into the existence of the Mirage ‘mon, a nice mesh of the “vintage” with the new.

The concept of there being more than one Mew was really neat! I’ve seen takes here and there about there being multiples of legendaries, but somehow I’d never seen it with Mew. Genesis was so sweet, I feel like you really captured that level of “naive yet kinda smart” vibe with her, in which she’s eager to jump into shit recklessly, while unintentionally dropping some sage wisdom as she does. I was so worried something REALLY BAD was going to happen to her but you spared me a heart attack (somewhat).

From the beginning, I was a fan of the relationship Mirage and Genesis formed. I loved the exposition going from “all the other Mirage Pokemon and Dr. Yung are so serious all the time” into “Genesis makes me feel good things” and I was sosososososo googoogaga over that. I love my dark gritty nonsense, but a good story about an AI discovering what love and emotions are? Sign me the fuck up. I loved Genesis’ whole dissertation on how imperfection is good, it actually really resonated with me, and I thank you for it!

I jotted this one specifically in my notes as I was reading, but why was the system picking up twenty-one errors specifically? It felt like such a small detail to point out that it felt like something pretty important, but I’m dumb and couldn’t figure out what it was.

Also, there was a point where Mirage has a realization that Dr. Yung wants to exact revenge and rule the world with the Mirage system. That threw me for a loop, because I wasn’t getting the vibe that “world domination” was the goal? I could see maybe revenge on the other scientists that ousted him, and after re-reading, I could see how wanting to get rid of “imperfect” Pokemon could constitute something world-dominating.

There were a couple bits of dialogue toward the end that felt a little “info-dumpy” to me, more because I didn’t really get Genesis’ voice with them. When she was dropping the wisdom in an earlier scene, it felt like there was a little more “bubbliness” to her within her dialogue, but at the end it felt a little less so. I would recommend just adding some little childlike flairs to keep that characterization of her in check.

Ultimately, this was an amazingly cute read. Thank you so much for submitting and congrats on the entry!
 

Negrek

komorebi
Staff
"The Way to a Legend" by Xeth

Night. Many would describe it as darkness, something negative.

Yet, in my current situation – even with the freezing temperatures and endless snow in this ice desert – I couldn’t help but marvel at the glittering night sky above me. The night is never truly dark.
Humanity brought their artificial light everywhere – and all that stray light causes the weak natural lights to fade into the blackish oblivion above. But if only given the chance, even the weakest sparkling stars – far-away suns – can enlighten the night sky to an unmatched beauty.

I’ll take a short rest while gaze upon nature. The exhaustion is slowly seeping as deep to my bones as the freezing cold is. I need to move on. Another feeling is slowly raising within me. Hunger...


Judge Comments

auspicious

This was an interesting one. Right off the bat, I have questions: who is our protagonist and why is he in the Arctic/unnamed wasteland? Neither of those are answered because he falls down a hole and dies, and is transported to the Pokemon world. Big isekai/self-insert energy, which may have been what you were going for?

Plotwise, this lost me a little. We follow an unnamed protagonist who dies and goes to the Pokemon world; simple enough. He proceeds to meet an Articuno who is being attacked by a Team Rocket member, and this is where it started to lose me. The protagonist turns out to be super-duper-special - manages to bare-handedly punch a Pokemon into a wall, and also gets captured by a pokeball? I thought he was from earth? Why does he have black blood?? Deoxys??? And then it doesn’t even matter what he is anymore because he’s dead again? Things go off the rails very quickly, and it becomes quite hard to follow/understand. I’d slow down a bit, and explain things a little bit more.

On theme: this doesn’t quite hit upon a Legendary POV as much as I would like. I know we have the protagonist turned into into an Articuno at the end, but it doesn’t exactly highlight the uniqueness of a Legendary pokemon’s viewpoint.

Stylewise: there’s a lot of random capitalization, spelling mistakes/typos, and grammar that make reading through harder. Sometimes the pronouns also switch, which also makes it harder to tell what’s going on.

Overall: this story raises a lot of questions, and leaves them unanswered. Nothing wrong with that for say, a prologue of a longer piece - but for a oneshot, I think more answers / a clearer resolution would have been better.

bluesidra

Hello! Oh, this is an interesting take on a Self-Insert.

Little disclaimer out of the way: I’m not a huge fan of Self-Inserts, but this one I did actually quite like. Nicolas’ meta-knowledge didn’t make him too powerful, for a start. He still had very little personality besides ‘sarcastic,’ ‘self-sacrificing’ and ‘has a good heart,’ and no visible actual flaws – at least none which really play out against him, which makes him kind of bland compared to Lani. Thankfully, Lani takes up about as much space as Nicolas. She is torn between protecting her young ones and being pursued by Team Rocket, and mechanically immediately wipes some of the disadvantages Nicolas faces thanks to her psychic translation- and mind-linking-skills. In my opinion, she is the real star of the one-shot, and Nicolas is a more or less slate for the viewer to have a lens.

Now that aside, I like the twist on the SI-genre with the multiple possible deaths our protag dies – we never quite know what, if anything at all, killed him. And the fact that his reincarnation is not into a human body, but into a pokemon, as well as explaining how this came to be. He definitely has earned his second chance, and it’s clear why Lani did whatever she did. In most isekai, the protag doesn’t have to work an ounce to get reincarnated into anime-land, so that was a nice change of pace. And the connection to Deoxys was a nice little touch on top.

What I found interesting was the use of emotion to communicate (not least because my fic uses a similar thing and I love to steal). When it started, especially when the two minds got muddled together, there was a really good sense of confusion, and a lot of good work of conveying mood by associated images. Also, kudos on using math-class as a way to mentally torment your opponent. Towards the end of the span which focused on it, however, it became a bit weaker, due to the emotions not being described any more. There was one instance of “a wave of complex emotions” which wasn’t followed up by any associations. Whatever you could have pulled there (“the image of vegetables in a blender, and waves washing over the shore”) would have more of an impact than this line, which almost felt like something was missing.

My personal highlight was – funnily enough – the very first two pages or so, before it became clear that this was somehow the intersection between our world and the pokemon universe. The description of the hike, the snow-covered surroundings and the condition Nicolas’ body and mind were in was really evocative. It made me shiver multiple times, and I found myself amazed at how realistic this extreme weather condition expedition was described. For a moment I thought/hoped this would be a very realistic depiction with pokemon as animals kinda thing, and that the female and male voice speaking in different languages were somehow a foreign trafficker and one of his victims, in the middle of an icy desert. And though you depicted the rocket admin sufficiently dangerous, I just can’t take them that serious.

All in all a SI-fic that is dense with atmosphere and several interesting twists. Despite my nitpickery, I liked it a lot!

Dragonfree

This was a really unique entry that kept me guessing most of the way through. I definitely enjoyed the large amount of whump, opening with hypothermia, then moving on to psychic assault, then the stabbing and Nic's slow awareness that he's dying and moreover that even if he weren't he'd simply starve, in a world whose food is incompatible with his biology. It was fascinating to explore that concept, of an isekai protagonist simply being an alien in the world they've found themselves in and not being able to sustain themselves in it, and I did feel something at Nic about to pass out and just wanting to hear more about the wonders of the Pokémon world for comfort after growing up with the franchise as a kid.

I thought you also ultimately did a pretty good job with Nic and Lani's quick bonding. They may not have known each other long, but the psychic connection of their emotions, Nic's nostalgia-fueled desire to help her and how hard he tries to do so while still being very carefully respectful of her wishes ultimately works to make the attachment she feels for him by the end work, for me. Her rescuing his soul into her stillborn egg felt like a fairly satisfying ending, thanks to how we had set up the extra egg from early on.

However, the way this story is written unfortunately drags it down, and also made it deeply confusing on a first read; for a substantial portion of the first half, the first time I read this, I simply felt like I had no idea whatsoever what was going on. The biggest reason for that was the unexpected rapid POV switches, which sometimes also jumped back and forth in time, but if that were all I could probably have worked it out okay. As it was, though, the prose is also frequently unclear and marred by numerous typos, punctuation and homophone errors and tense shifts, and it often makes it hard to tell which character is saying a line of dialogue, too. And a lot of the happenings themselves were also confusing, or at least told in a way that made them harder to get a grasp on, one way or another. Individually each of these various elements would probably also not have given me so much trouble - but there were enough such things giving me pause to leave me just feeling hopelessly confused.

One such minor thing is how Articuno is described as white and established to have psychic powers, for instance - no version of canon Articuno is white, and while legendaries all having some degree of psychic powers isn't an absurd concept, here I found myself squinting wondering if this was supposed to be Galarian Articuno, until at some later point it instead describes her as white "and cyan". Lycanroc, meanwhile, is described as a gray dog when attacking the narrator, but then as gray and orange (which one would think would be the more noteworthy color) in the later sequence, which then turns out to be actually happening earlier; all in all it took me some squinting and scrolling back and forth to connect that the dog Nic punched was in fact the Lycanroc described in the later scene, even on the second read. The Rocket admin refers to Nic as an "anomaly", making it hard to tell he's talking about Nic at all and not some other creature that might for all I knew have been present in the scene - and to be honest I don't understand why he would call him an anomaly at all, when this turns out to be actually taking place before the catch sequence, which is the first thing that might make the Rocket think he's not an ordinary human.

After that, Articuno chooses to mindmeld the human who just rescued her with the human who just tried to capture her, apparently to help them understand each other, but I don't understand why she would want that - wouldn't that from her point of view just be likely to turn her rescuer against her? During the mindmeld, Nic extends "one last mental fist" in the Rocket admin's direction, but then we don't get to hear anything about what that was, which memory he sent, how he managed to win the mental tug-of-war - the Rocket is just suddenly knocked out, somehow, and we just don't address how that happened.

And at the very beginning, the story opens with Nic seemingly casually admiring the stars and then complaining irritably about his backpack and frozen sandwich, with no sign that he's actually lost in the Arctic with no prospects of rescue until it suddenly comes up offhandedly a while into the scene. It's the sort of thing where by the time it gets brought up I feel like I must have missed something earlier - it really didn't feel like that was what was going on up to that point! Something like someone getting disproportionately angry at a backpack refusing to open could be a subtle hint that they're feeling some broader distress, but here, Nic's narration explicitly addresses his irritation with the backpack as simply being because "failing at the easiest task for five minutes straight could make even me furious", expressly making it out to be just your average everyday annoyance.

And while we have a number of brief scenes of Lani's POV, and Nic becomes an Articuno at the end, and technically it's suggested towards the end that real-world humans are actually 'Pokémon' (though this doesn't entirely make sense to me; the dark blood resembling Deoxys is cited as a reason, but Articuno's blood is still orange like the Rocket's, so that seems like a particular Deoxys thing that if anything more suggests Deoxys isn't a Pokémon, and obviously real Pokémon are able to feed in the Pokémon world), none of that quite makes up for the fact the vast majority of this story is the POV of a human and not a legendary Pokémon, to me. For the duration of the story, Nic simply is a human with human concerns who thinks like a human, and the insight we get into Lani's POV during her sections is fairly limited - she cares deeply about her children and is wary of humans, but we don't learn much more about her or her perspective than that. This story is an interesting exploration of several things, but I don't think the POV of a legendary is quite one of them, so I don't think it was entirely the best fit for this contest!

All in all, it's a very interesting story with some nice whump content, but marred by confusing execution and prose, and I think for an entry in this contest it wasn't quite focused on the theme. But it was very creative and I quite enjoyed the concepts you had going on, by themselves. I think this story could really shine with a beta reader who could help you smooth out the various errors and confusing bits to make it easier to read.

Flyg0n

This was a very unique idea! A human from our world seemingly slips in between some crack and ends up in the pokemon world. But instead of a fun isekai hijinks, they’re immediately dumped into a very bad situation. Also I absolutely loved the way you actually spent some time examining the downsides (and upsides) of ‘isekai’. His human body is not built like humans from the pokemon world. His blood isn’t the same. Even the language is off. Yet he seems to actually be stronger in some ways, and I thought these were unique elements!

Blending the first person POV choice and the differently structured prose to communicate the desperation and panic of hypothermia was also very cool. Combine that with the concept of exploring what is apparently the isekai’d human running into an Articuno while on an arctic expedition, and coping with the idea of being warped into the pokemon world. In particular, the mental battle is a great idea as well.

Unfortunately, I had a bit of a hard time understanding this story, due to some overall hiccups in prose and grammar. Things like hyphen use and tenses or missing words, and punctuation hampered my reading. Generally I think stylistic prose can be effective in short stories, but I think toning it back slightly will give it more weight when you do employ it. In addition, while I did enjoy the story as an idea, I wasn’t quite sure it captured the essence of the theme for me. We did get some Articuno POV yes. But the primary focus ended up being the MC and his journey to becoming one, which didn’t quite hit for me.
 
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