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Pokémon Broken Things

Persephone

Infinite Screms
Pronouns
her/hers
Partners
  1. mawile
  2. vulpix-alola
I guess I should comment here before things get way out of hand.
hey persephone! i have been meaning to read this fic for ages at this point and have decided that i'm going to use this blitz to give me motivation to read and review as much of it as i can—something tells me that once the ball is rolling, i'll be here to stay. also given your excellent taste in pokémon my impression is that there will probably be a farfetch'd in the first couple chapters probably.
Sadly the Farfetch'd thing was a joke. One might show up on a dinner plate eventually!
normal 1.1
as a lover of stuff that's normal, nothing beats reading a story that starts off by advertising that it is very normal.
You do have to establish a baseline before breaking it.
this was a nice introduction to the world! i think rachel was a really good vehicle for imparting the information that she did—we get information about the VStar program (and by extension, the culture around journeys in alola, and the stakes and conditions that are particular to your world) but in a sort of personalized way that slants a bit cynical, which i think provides valuable information of its own in a way that wouldn't really be possible with a more junior character. my impression is that we end up following cuicatl at least in part, so i'm guessing the psychic powers are here to stay, and introducing them by way of someone with some degree of mastery over her powers, who can assess cuicatl's powers for us in a way cuicatl probably couldn't do herself, seemed wise as well. overall she's a very interesting character in her own right; she always feels fully in control of every situation she's in, and it's little wonder she's worked her way so far up the corporate ladder. she has no reservations about using every tool that's available to her.
Originally Rachel had a much bigger role in the story. But things changed and I didn't think her arc deserved all the space it was getting. Her role as the opening narrator is something of an artifact now, but I'm glad to hear you think it works.
the particular way your psychic powers are written is pretty neat. it never felt particularly intrusive and the stuff about the secrets and the attacks was cool. i enjoyed the strikethrough text. i do think her scans of all the initiates dragged a little bit; there was some interesting stuff in there for sure, but there was a lot of world and character information in this chapter and i wasn't really sure which bits of that sequence i was meant to latch onto. felt like an overload in some respects. it was cool, though, seeing the way that she applies her powers to her work. makes me wonder if psychics are in-demand for particular positions... feels a bit dishonest, maybe, to hire someone to use those powers in an investigative manner without the people being investigated (like manuel) knowing. either way feels like it could be right for this world though.
Psychic powers, from humans and psychic-types, get explored more later on. Cuicatl has some training with hers but she's hardly a master. Maybe she'll learn down the line or maybe she won't. Who knows. (I might.)
i've read a decent amount of the aloladex and felt pretty much at home with some of the descriptions getting thrown around here; looking forward to seeing how some of the regulatory stuff, as well as the every distinct pokémon behaviors you describe, come into play. i can already see it a little bit with rachel's interactions with espy!
Okay so I kind of break my own canon a little. This isn't meant to be a worldbuilding text. I do try to keep Pokemon POVs a little xeno though. You'll see more later.
overall i feel that this chapter is a bit of a slow start but that's perfectly okay with me; there's enough interesting stuff and questions posed here to keep me coming back, and that's really all you need. busting down the door is overrated tbqh.
We can't all start our fics with the POTUS being sent to the Commy Realm.
should be a comma rather than a period inside the brackets, right? btw, i never considered what a charmed life a psychic cat would lead, but this description of espeon eating is really driving it home, lol.
I have a soft spot in my heart for espeon, even if Pixie doesn't. I had a great deal of fun writing their Alola Dex entry.
this is really neat, both as an insight into manuel and as an insight into rachel—the fact that he notices what he does, and the fact that she notices that he notices what he does.
She's a people person. Her POV involves thinking a lot about reading other people. It doesn't actually come naturally to me so I'm glad it works for you! A lot of the cast are pretty far up their own asses, so I think she's a fun narrator to start on.
jumped out at me that you italicize "The Battler" the first time but not here.
Typo
YOWZA what in the world, we getting juicy now
Okay so maybe we can break down the door a little bit, as a treat.
very interesting tbh. i'm assuming this gets expanded on in the narrative—looking forward to seeing that. very fond of worlds like this.
It'll get played with more later on. In the chapters about to come out, actually.
the double use of "trail" felt weird here.
* You, i think.
Will Fix.
this is interesting! i feel like it's kinda uncommon that you see, like, abject terror towards pokémon like this in fic. neat that it seems to be towards dragons categorically... i bet it'll come up again. 😈
Cuicatl has an attachment to nightmare fuel 'mons. This will in no way matter down the line.
stray quote at the end here, i think.
Will fix.
boy oh boy.
:screm:
normal 1.2
this was a surprisingly emotional introduction to the meme, the myth, the legend! pixie naturally comes off as pretty brattish here, as she should, but it's hard not to kind of respect pixie's own unyielding self-respect (if you can call it that) in spite of everything she's been through. even though she's suffered a lot, and is continuing to suffer as long as her situation doesn't change, she still can't resist from being her devilish self, even when it lands her back in trouble. she's a pokémon absolutely brimming with personality and you do a great job at portraying quite a wide amount of it here, ups and downs and everything. her interactions with cuicatl are really sweet and imo pretty revealing of cuicatl's character, too—she is great with pokémon, as advertised, and has a strong nurturing aspect to her, a genuine eagerness to please. she managed all this even without being able to get into alice's head, so i'm sure she'll manage to keep pixie mostly leashed. :p pixie's wariness and insistence that she's just being tricked, and she hates herself for it, were delightful and i'm looking forward to seeing these two together; i know it'll be a riot, but if this chapter was anything to go on, i know it'll be emotional too!
Cuicatl's Patience: Finally, a worthy opponent. Our battle shall be legendary.
some things that weren't quite clear to me: why was pixie hurt in the beginning? is it relevant? how much time passes between the first part and the part in october? a timestamp at the beginning might make that a bit clearer. was pixie's time with the other trainers (who ultimately abandoned her) during the period between the first part and the second? or did that all take place before she was injured? also, it took me a bit to realize that the blonde woman was rachel—i only really figured it out because of her possessiveness over cuicatl.
Pixie is actually a canon character! Sort of. There's a sidequest in the Ultra Games where you can nurse a vulpix back to health after it's beat up by Team Skull. And then you do not get to keep the vulpix. I was so outraged I immediately dove for my laptop and began writing two novels and a novella about it.
hell yes, poké pov. this is a cool way of describing whispers tbh. pixie's level of perception feels right here—maybe she doesn't make the words out, but she's not stupid and she gets what's going on. i suspect a lot of people underestimate how perceptive their pokémon are.
Half the fun of Pixie chapters is describing ordinary things in strange ways.
hahaha, omg. love the idea of a pokémon sneering at a human for being unclean. my cat probably does think that about me.
I don't know why my cat puts up with me, either.
i'm really enjoying the way she picks out meaning from speech.
Pixie is the smartest creature in the universe.
man. this is depressing. poor girl.
BT Marketing: Look, here's a cute fox!

BT Story: We regret to inform you that the fox is sad.
lmfao. here we go. i love her.
As you should.
huh, she got all that? it felt like she didn't understand the previous sentence. i'm a little unclear on how much language she understands exactly. also, lololol.
Rachel is a psychic and might maybe be pushing things along idk rule of funny.. She's also come a ways since the opening scene.
oh my god lmfao
In the red corner, we have an Alolan vulpix! And in the blue corner we have a blind teenager with a stick! FIGHT!
SO TRUE queen. i am saying this every day
Pixie should get a career as a motivational SCREMer.
normal 1.3
my thoughts on this chapter are a bit mixed. compared to the last couple chapters, genesis's voice is a lot more subdued, and she feels a lot more like a passive observer. the main thing she does is help cuicatl pick out gear for the journey ahead, but while it was cute to see their interactions and get a bit more detail about cuicatl from genesis's eyes, i felt like that part was a bit fluffy and could have been summarized. on that note i didn't really feel like the re-hasing of orientation added much to the story and wasn't sure what i was meant to take away from it. overall this chapter felt very transitional, like going through the motions of the pre-journey shopping etc, and i think i would've been just as happy to just have that stuff summarized and moved on from quickly.
I told you this in chat but 1.3 was overhauled late in development to better align with the direction of the story and Genesis's character. As a result parts of it feel weird. I'm going to do some edits today and see what I can do.
i don't think i really understood what you were going for with the gender stuff on kekoa. i'm guessing he's the trans kid that rachel picked out before. i can't really tell whether cuicatl is like, aggressively misgendering him for some reason, or kekoa is transfemme-in-denial-but-not-really and cuicatl is kind of tormenting him about it. either way kekoa's reaction seems sort of... underwhelming? in either incidence i'd expect kind of an intense response, although maybe i'm projecting too much there, lol.
Kekoa is trans masc. Cuicatl doesn't know but sensed a weak point.
genesis's backstory is cute and it made me feel for her. she seems like a kid that just wants to have fun and experience childlike wonder and no one in her life is really letting her do that. i really hope she's able to figure herself out on this journey... i'm guessing she's the kid that rachel identified as a rich potential runaway in 1.1. the religious bent is really interesting and i'm curious to see how it goes—even her name has sort of a biblical feel to it. the xerneas worship has sort of european vibes to me for reasons i can't quite explain, so i'm excited to see how the culture clashes between herself, kekoa, and cuicatl pan out.
Genesis wants so little at her core. I'm sure it will be easy to get and maintain it down the road.
i think where this chapter really shines is in the interactions between the kids, and that bodes well considering this story is going to center on them for the foreseeable future (i assume). so far, cuicatl is my favorite. her interactions with pixie were so cute and honestly i have no choice but to stan a fellow chad who never grew out of her dinosaur phase. her pedantry over jurassic park rules and i loved the jokes you slipped in about "tyrantrum is a scavenger" or "this dilatosaur is so inaccurate." kekoa seems interesting but i think he hasn't had enough time in the spotlight yet to really shine; i'm guessing the next chapter is about him, so i look forward to that! genesis definitely feels like the character with the most demons so far, and something tells me they're gonna catch up with her sooner or later. it feels like there are a lot of threads being spun up here and it excites me to think of how they'll converge; despite the limited time we've spent with these characters they feel quite complex and storied and it is making me hype to read the rest of this fic! even the pokémon characters feel substantial, which is rare to see. can't wait to see where they go. catch you later for the next three chapters! :quag:
Yeah. This fic lives and dies on character interactions and dialogue. If you like that so far you'll probably keep writing it.
absolutely fucked up.
Monsters.
it sure does feel a little bit like that, doesn't it.
It's probably nothing.
this is a once in a lifetime line
One of my greatest achievements tbh. Glad to see it appreciated.
yet this story is in second person. curious.
This fic is actually just Waiting for Godot. It's supposed to be in third person but he never arrives. Everyone goes mad in the meantime.
i don't think i'm quite picking up on what's going on here.
Neither does Genesis, really.
i love her. lord protect this girl.
I'm sure nothing bad ever happens to her.
not this debate, anything but this. it's funny to imagine that people would still be bickering about this even after successfully reviving a tyrantrum, lol.
Down the line I devote a fair bit of attention to how much can really be learned from the revived fossils. They have their instincts, but not their original culture or environment. Is what they do in a modern setting really indicative of what they would do when properly socialized in their original habitat? Who knows. Nothing is resolved and the debate rages on.
🙌 At long last. It is time.
THE STARS ARE RIGHT
So, these are mostly line-by-lines, since I was skimming for new stuff, with some overall thoughts at the end.
No skim only 2%.
WildBoots said:
I don't totally recall this section before, but the who's who of it all is much easier to follow this time around than what I remember. ... Or I've just forgotten and needed the refresher!
It was there but I expanded on it a bit.
Missing comma (in bold). That last one seems to want a little more. Is there actually someone she would be calling if she had cell service?

Suggestions: She has no social media presence. (“Too many temptations.”)
Will fix.
Oof, Lyra. Damn, girl.
Trauma, what trauma? She has no PTSD. Fuck off. She will literally murder you if you suggest psychic-assisted therapy.
Can't remember if this is new but love it.
It's new.
Rogue quotation mark there. The receptionist is really shitting on the food, lol.
I think "lovely" belongs with the previous paragraph. Also unsure why she'd chance yogurt if she's lactose intolerant. Hoping for soy? Would help to make that clearer.
Look I'm not lactose intolerant but I know that in some cultures where most people are they still make yogurt. Maybe I'm wrong. I'll consider changing it either way.
But there's no 69?
Wow. Telling that her "zoning out" over a cute girl = trying to fix her.
Look life is a romcom and Cuicatl just needs to ditch her glasses and let her hair down.
This feels like too little to clock Gen, TBH. I could see Lyra being hopeful because Gen is on her mind, but I'd like to see a little more fishing here before she pounces.
Will expand when I get back around to this arc in the edits.
Ooof, don't tell Kekoa that!
*angry Kekoa noises*
Kinda funny how Gen is always fantasizing about knights. Turns out she already has one, sort of.
I hadn't thought about it this way but now I'm going to run with it.
How long does she imagine this will take? Or how fast does she expect Cuicatl's metagross to evolve?
Technically it could only be a week. Or years. Or never. Beldum evolutions occur when the metagross choose to allow them.
This transition makes sense logically, sentence by sentence, but character-wise, I was a little confused. I get the motivation to rescue Gen and why Gen is so important to her, but why is the exploration important? Does it tie in at all to her ideas about power and protection? It feels like it almost wants to but doesn't quite.
Okay so this was like a last minute change because I couldn't get a sequence to work. This chapter had two separate entirely different edits and I sort of had to cobble the best parts together.
This one is a rollercoaster. The line about "you’re super unsure if she’s a lesbian herself" isn't quite landing for me. Like, that doesn't quite feel like awkward to me so much as anxious—if Lyra is hoping for attention from her, at least. (Maybe she's used to being admired and is thrown off by blind girl?) I guess I don't mind the speed of the bouncing from thought to thought—Lyra has complicated feelings—but the individual thoughts don't feel complete. Lyra's doubt could use a little more definition from beat to beat. Like, is she actually trying to suss out whether Cuitcatl is into her? Just wanting to feel justified that Cuicatl is indeed One of Us ™️ ? Has Cuicatl said something innocent about Gen that might get Lyra's hackles up? Is there something awful Lyra is imagining might have passed between C & G?
Lyra would be furious if she pulled Gen out of the closet kicking and screaming for someone else to reap the benefits. I'll make this clearer.
Since the rest of the paragraph is so Lyra-centric, it might help to add "gives the two of you the chance..." to help signal the switch from singular to plural you.
Got it.
Ah, yes. Interrogation. Bonding.
The best kind of bonding.
Health feels weird. (Unless it's a rotom?) Battery?
I call it low health? Must just be a regional thing.
I was confused here. She's asserting she's small and also puffing herself up to seem bigger? I guess Cuicatl is taking this as an implication that she's fat and her response is to insist she's not? (Contradicts her inner monologue about those kinds of things.) And then what does Lyra think this statement means, that she's saying she was born small and dad is not to blame? Took me some real puzzling to get there.
Will clarify.
Wow, she's pretty indifferent to the suffering of others here. Blah, blah, people freaking out. TOLD YOU SO. I guess this checks out, since her wealth clearly shelters her. The same things aren't at stake for her as for everyone else.

I'm also curious what her parents make of her staying here. She seems confident they'd be willing to wire her more money to extend her stay, at least.
I might get into the details of her relationship with her parents later, but for now Word of God is that they feel a little guilty and also she's better than her brother so they let her be pretty independent.
Also wondering why everyone has clocked the absol as the strongest pokemon.
Because her others are a noibat, mudbray, and pyukumuku.
Overall, I think this was a better move for Lyra. This world is too hard to be angry and stabby by yourself in the dark. Even if it fails, she at least has to try to make allies. ✅
I imagine traveling in the woods alone sucks, in addition to being really dangerous.
I dunno if I caught this on the first read or not, but it's hilarious right now. "Well, I'd already named her before I realized she was female, so oops, oh well, don't cry over spilled milk."
Shattering gender norms one shrug at a time.
X to doubt, fam. New Mexico is cold as heck at elevation at night and sometimes during the day too. Unless ... is Cuicatl from the rainforest parts, southern Anahuac? It's been a while since we've touched base with Anhuac.
She's from the equivalent of Southern Mexico. Right on the border of the Maya and Zapotec provinces in Anahuac.
What's Cuicatl contributing to this? Seems like if no one can see, then more hands is just more problems.
She's used to setting up tents without being able to see. I might change what she's doing.
Love the sensory detail and comedic timing, but I think this ought to be three paragraphs. (Lyra's actions should be separated out.)
Will fix.
Wish we got lyrics here!
This would require me to be any good at all at poetry. Maybe when I get around to this again? Currently working through a round of light Arc 1 edits.
Galaxy brain in a trainer fic. (The bar is so low.) Good job, Cuicatl.
Astonishingly she might make contributions to pokemon science by possessing the trait of basic empathy.
Another rogue quotation mark.
Do you make conclusions or can you only come to them?
Are her knee-jerk fear responses really so verbal? I wonder.
Will make some edits.
Wow, my memory of this is terrible. I don't remember it having any overlap with Johto. Guess I'd better reread that too.
You should!
Surprised that Cuicatl's memory of it seems bad, too, TBH
Agreed. That should be expanded.
Wow, oof, shit to unpack there, hi. I guess this must've been troubling to Genesis, too. Good that she's defecting from her bad, sinful gods or bad that she's becoming more faithless? 🚨

Though it does call into question how this world sustains people who believe their gods are the true gods when it's known that other gods are real. Is Xerneas more "real" because he's supposedly more involved in humans' lives? Could use some exploration.
Xerneas is more 'real' because he's less involved. Less easily understood. With a more primal element. A lot of the mystery gets taken away when god lives on the hill up the road and sometimes shows up to festivals.
You know, it's occurring to me for the first time on this read ... I think of the Aztec canon as mostly humanoids with a few parrot-dragons and panthers for fun, but I guess in this setting they're all fanmade pokemon now?
So the thing about the Aztec gods is that all the major ones at least occasionally took a non-human form. Some were a lot like Egypt's animal-human hybrids. It makes it easier to think that they could just have pokemon forms in this story. Or maybe they appear one way to humans and another to pokemon. Who knows?
I think a better question is whether worship makes them hurt you less, and I kinda want her to address that. And I want Cuicatl to address what we need them for, especially since this is in her head and we have a chance to get some answers she hasn't vocalized for Lyra.
For the Aztecs: so the sun doesn't burn out and the Earth isn't overrun by demons that kill everyone. This has happened four times before in Aztec cosmology and will inevitably happen again. I'll try to make this clearer.
Aww this is so nice. I think this was in the previous version too? But it's still cute.

Her chapters has included less body shame lately though. Worth mentioning.
Hmm. I don't know if this is on accident or not. Her last one in Arc 2 very much is. In Arc 3 when there isn't an abundance of either food or choice maybe things changed. Or maybe I was at a better point myself in those times. Curious. I'll think more about it. Her issues aren't over, though.
He's been super quiet. Though I did like the moment where Cuicatl imagines him arguing with a bat through her and heads it off. Never change, Kekoa.
I didn't really intend for Kekoa to be quiet but I guess it happened. He's not yet comfortable around Lyra. He isn't going to be so hostile this time around, but that doesn't necessarily means he wants to engage.
*Less like a memory? Would make more sense to me that way.
Yeah.
What does that mean, that Lyra never speaks up? She seems pretty quick to speak her mind and grill Cuicatl.
She never speaks up by noibat standards. They can be quite loud when they want to be.
Aww, nice seeing a pokemon who's hype about their experience with their trainer. We don't get too many enthusiastic yeses in this setting!
I mean angst is very fun but not every pokemon hates it. We'll explore more of that in Arc 4.
??? Get around her own gifts? What does that mean?
I don't actually remember.
I was confused at first and thought this was the absol.
Will clarify.
Oops haha.
Lyra is one of the better trainers in this story. For better or worse.
Noci continues to be the best character. Obviously.
*angry screms*
Lyra's presence was a nice addition to this chapter! It's nice to see that Cuicatl gets to offer her something more than maybe eventually helping her jailbreak Gen, and being helpful (to Lyra and the pokemon) is a boon for Cuicatl too. I got more out of the interactions with the noibat than with the mudbray, though. But it's nice to see that Lyra cares about her pokemon; in her chapter, she was so ruthlessly practical about everything. I guess now that we know her, there's nothing to say that isn't still happening. Oh no, if my pokemon don't love me, then I'll have a harder time rescuing Gen! She's clearly capable of caring though. After all, she cares about Gen.
She cares about her pokemon. About her Genesis. About some other people. She has a circle of people she thinks of as safe and everyone else is potentially dangerous if she lets her guard down. Get into the circle and she will fiercely defend you.
Aww, yay. Glad they followed through on this.
I thought about having it happen off-screen but it seemed more fun this way.
LOL wow the arrogance. He wants so badly to have a claim (ownership?) but he's been forcibly distanced from this culture so hard and he doesn't really know how it works.
*sad kekoa noises*
I'd love to see this expanded more. Can Cuicatl notice him pretending not to listen but definitely listening? Can he share more about this thought process?
Probably could. Might whenever I get around to more revisions.
I know this is in the old version, but still. Damn. I love knowing that you absolutely looked this up. You must have SO MANY cool animal facts.
Credit to Sugi on this one. She knows a lot more about hornbills than I do.
Fun parallel to Lyra.
;)
I think the C should be capitalized.
Typo!
I wrote all of these edits very quickly. Sorry they're a mess.
Aww, they match.
But was the match made in heaven or hell?
She would never. 🙃
Never.
She must be using a lot of restraint to keep from answering herself.
Look she doesn't know how fast an unladen trumbeak flies. Maybe he does?
Oh my. Was this ... a real desire? Poor baby is learning some tough lessons. I'm surprised she accepts his authority on this so easily.

Is he hearing Spanish here?
No. I'll clarify that. It meant that the bird and human are speaking different languages from each other. Besides, her most natural language is Nahuatl. She does know some Spanish, though.
Is she breaking the rock or her beak? 😬
She knows rock smash. Don't insult her.
Lol, about that...
I am a messy bitch who lives for dramatic irony.
Nice. This dynamic really checks out.
I like writing Kekoa and Lyra scenes. One of my fave interactions at this point.
Oh, shame we don't get to see him. I like him. ... Though, yeah, that assessment is dead-on.
Maybe someday you'll get to meet the legendary CAPTAIN ILLIMA. Or not.
Interesting. She was so detached before about human suffering, but she's really invested in environmental stewardship. Why/how does she know so much about this?
People aren't shit. Her escapism was learning about nature and thinking about her own journey. And she does want to do exploring. IRL caves are some of the less explored areas on the planet.
I still want more about this Indiana Jones streak in her. (Game protagonist syndrome?)
I'll think about expanding on it in Arc 4.
I was wondering too. Again, she's ruthlessly practical. Though I guess she wouldn't know it's a sensitive issue.
Going into your third trial with one mediocre pokemon is certainly a choice.
Feels like there's a word missing here.
I feel like Kekoa made the jump from psychic pokemon to psychic humans just a tad too fast.
Bleh. Will fix.
Such self pity. He deserves an award.
Cuicatl would beat him and then he'd feel sad enough that he could maybe beat her.
This line still slaps.
sometimes I write cool shit in spite of myself
Hahaha. Also, poor Lyra. She must be feeling left out, sure she's missing something and not sure what she's being left out of or how. Wish some of that anxiety were being telegraphed.
Would Kekoa notice or care in the dark?
"What she did to you" sounds like an act of aggression rather than "what she told you."
Unless I'm forgetting something?
Okay that was supposed to mean "telling her the same thing she told you" but it came off wrong.
Spider was jarring since right now Noci is more like an ingot. A lump.
But megagross is spider. Will consider revising tho.
This was my thought too.
Shut up. This is fine.
Kekoa protecc.


I think this is old too, but if I didn't say so before I need to say now how much I'd love to see one of those in action.
Combine them to make a bewear protecc?
Ah, I see. Nice foreshadowing here. Lyra is going to flip (and feel so stupid) when this comes out. I can already see how she's going to assume she didn't notice earlier because of memory tampering. This is nice—even though I've seen these chapters already, the unknown element of WTF Lyra will do adds a fun new dimension.
I'm sure nothing bad will happen.
Huh. I feel like I missed something in the intervening chapters I passed over? Last I saw them, they were far from becoming friendly with each other. Kekoa was still biting his tongue to keep from arguing with her every two seconds.
More hiking happened but I'll consider making things more consistent.
Nice. I love the rhythm of this. Really nice use of your chatty-yet-sparse narrative style here. I clocked the florges before the name drop, and I'm proud of myself.
Gold star!
Though, I did start to wonder around this time about how far away she was and doubled back to look. I know it's dark, but can they hear her moving (or the absence of her moving)? How close is her voice?
Will add some things in about this.
Also, missing apostrophe!
It also wasn't a question.
Alongside is giving me spatial relationship more than "in addition to," and it sounds a little off to me. Maybe instead, "Now Lyra's whimpering too."
Grammar, my weaknss
👀 Lit. Hi, best friend.

AD footnotes when!? Or, like, hyperlinks to the relevant AD section, at least for the forum version! 🤩
AO3 has footnotes without links. I'll consider links for particularly relevant pokemon. Just because you're bullying me about it.
Something about her delivery here made me wonder: does she think of herself as a god? She certainly seems to see herself as an arbiter of life and death.
God? No. She's seen gods and wants nothing to do with them. She does see herself as above humanity, though.
"You grind your teeth" should be a new paragraph.
Paragraph breaks again, because although Lyra isn't speaking, her actions still belong on a separate line:
Bleh
Anyway, loved the body language! the head tilt and the fluttering petals. Really adds some tension for me. I wonder if it's that the florges is ignoring her (in that second line) so much as it is that she doesn't care if Lyra runs or not.
She doesn't care. She has things to say to Lyra, but they're less important than what she wants to say to Kekoa.
Metal AF. Love her.
Best girl.
I felt like she was slipping out of character for a minute here. Her reassurance here feels more like what the audience needs to hear to understand why she's not maiming Kekoa than it does like something she would naturally have an interest in saying? Just a smidge too on-the-nose.
Yeah, agreed.
That said, wow, she's got a nuanced view of what humans are like. Intelligence varies so wildly between pokemon! ... And people. It's a shame that she's able to look at Kekoa in a nuanced way, but he's still having trouble seeing beyond stereotypes. And, despite her understanding how corporations and the demand economy work, despite her helping him find this trial, he can't see her as a Person enough to ask for her name the way he did with pokemon he has direct control over. Why doesn't she like me??? We'll never know, Kekoa.
Florges isn't alakazam or metagross smart. Her cognition is fairly close to human. Just a lot smarter than average. There are humans who can keep up with her, but not many. Especially after millennia of experience.
Your own master has chained victory? Is this a reference to Selene orrrrr? I wasn't quite sure.
VStar is short for Victory Star. The CEO owns Victini.
Hahaha, someone has been reading eoe! 🤩 Kekoa's having his mind blown.
Look I'm not saying that eoe made me rethink the fandom and my own work but actually yeah that is what I'm saying.
No one would ever.

I'm confused why she's posing as a human when it's dark and no one else is really out here anyway, and I'm similarly not sure why she claimed to be a traveler only to immediately reveal herself shortly after. It was a good entrance (very fairy tale-core), but I'm having trouble reconciling it with this detail.
She's a troll and someone might come down the trail, respectively.
I'm curious why she refuses to answer him when a) she's been very chatty otherwise and b) supposedly, she's pruning him and trying to make him a better person. Wouldn't it be easier for him to be better if he knew what he was doing wrong? He's asking, after all.
Some things he has to work out for himself, I guess. Also lazy writing.
I like this idea, but I think it needs to be drawn out a little more. He gets what the bird wants a little too easily. Maybe it flicks his leg. He stops, confused. It hops ahead. He starts after, but it turns and flicks his leg again, shooing him back. Then he gets it.
Will incorporate some of them.
Would he ever consider trying to get another one (especially with Cuicatl's help)? After all, it was a personality issue, not a species issue, right?
It's possible. Unlikely but possible. Too many feelings of inadequacy wrapped up there.
This needs more. Why does he think winning would make her less disappointed? What does he think has changed?
He showed the bond between human and pokemon or whatver GameFreak says.
Overall, I liked the addition of the florges, and I liked that it was a way to bring Kekoa to this trial in a way that felt more natural: it wasn't his original goal, but here he is anyway. Lyra kinda dropped off. I would've thought she'd have an opinion about Kekoa retuning to meet with the florges. She seemed really scared of it.
Hmm. Yeah, I should add a scene with them.
LOL of course Gen sees this obvious sign of the apocalypse and is like uwu, so pretty! This is sweet, though. Glad she gets to have a small, simple hope after the week she's been having. Someone needs to be able to see the beauty in this.
She's easily pleased. Thankfully she always gets the little things she asks for.
It's odd to me that Cuicatl doesn't seem worried at all about how Lyra might react as this conversation continues. Like, C's not even annoyed on Renfield's behalf. It seems like this could shift so easily into Lyra realizing what's going on with Cuitcatl and flipping the fuck out. Does she not care if Lyra finds out? It seems like they should. This is still a travel-buddies-for-convenience sort of situation, after all. They need Lyra's financial support, she needs someone to watch her back and all the better if it's someone who knows Gen.
She's really not in a good place and kind of doesn't care. Also this scene was a last minute addition. Will patch it up to clarify some things.
She faded out again. Does Cuicatl feel nothing about her witnessing that argument?
Not really, no.
But Lyra, what if that's true for you and Gen?????
Impossible.
This reminds me suddenly of the opening lines of this rad fantasy book that draws on Mayan mythology. I'm not sure whether or not you'd like it, but I loved it! (That's a link through my local black-owned book shop, but there's probably one closer to you too.) Reminds me of American Gods but 1920s Mexico and also there's a hetero romance subplot. Spoilers: Might give you some Cuicatl ideas though.
Ooh. Always looking for more references. Although she's more Mexica than Mayan.
Okay, wow this wildly different!
It's almost like it's really a whole new chapter.
Overall: I can't not love Noci, so of course I loved this. A few of the passages deviated from Noci's normal processing pattern, which was a little jarring, and I think they could be modified to be more roboty. (Example: when Noci muses on nights listening to radio signals, instead of "sometimes in the night," it could be something like, "Scanning stored data. Retrieved data log. Date stamp: [some numbers.] Status: [something about humans sleeping, things about the inefficiency of radio and what they're noticing.]" I was also aware that, although I could follow the timeline of events, I do think some of it is from reading the previous version of this chapter from Cuicatl's POV. Without that, I think I'd be a little confused.
Noci had less robotic moments in the first. And some of the musings were meant to signal the difference in thoughts from evolution. Perhaps some could be revised, though.
LOL omg of course it does.
Could be more.
You know, it occurred to me for the first time to wonder if Noci is capable of recording video or just audio/raw data. They must, right? This gives me a really great mental image of a night-vision camera, fish eye lens, Cuicatl waving Noci away. I can imagine this is a comic book spread so easily.
She can record audiovisual and electromagnetic spectrum data.
Don't sass your parental unit, buster.
Noci doesn't even know what sass is.
Oof. Get Gen in here to sympathize with that one.
What's more terrifying: a fundamentalist billionaire or an alien predator?
I liked the detail, but the structure didn't sound like Noci. Why not something like "Low-level UV radiation and sand detected. Armor status: undamaged"?
Good idea.
Tapu Bulu???? Wait, did Cuicatl bear witness to that, too?? I can't get a sense of the time elapsed between these two.
This is from the other beldum.
Wait, are the things that happened just before this replayed memories while the metagross is rooting around, or were they happening in the present? Confused. Error.
Memories. Except for getting torn apart by the metagross.
Does this mean that Cuicatl sustaining minor damage is part of the plan or simply that Cuicatl hasn't sustained enough damage to derail the plan?
The latter.
This is where I think I'd be confused/missing some of the impact if I hadn't read the previous version.
There is no previous version. This sequence is still in the water trial chapter.
Wait, Noci ran into Lyra instead on the way to Cuicatl, or this is after they're reunited? Cuicatl was so distraught about Noci being missing that I think we need to see their reunion, especially since the next time we see them talk it starts with Cuicatl scolding Noci, mistaking it for Kalani.
There was a timeskip. Will add date stamps.
I love how this prompted Noci to actually run a self check-in lol.
She is very self-aware, especially for this story.
AHAHAHA. I kinda wish Noci had come to a conclusion about whether that's allowed. I would think yes, since it allows Noci to continue surveilling lol.
It would be.
Omg I didn't realize Noci and Pixie has this in common.
It would mess with Noci's mission if she wasn't as critical to Cuicatl's plans.
Oh woah. I didn't realize at first that's what had happened. Neat trick, Noci.
Psychic-types actually are terrifying.
Wait, Cuicatl knows about the Tapu Bulu sighting? Is that in a previous chapter and I forgot?
Noci mentioned that one of the beldum had been stationed in Haina Valley. She made an educated guess.
Wait, theory? Does Noci not actually know?
She doesn't know how much power a Reshiram has.
How does it know she's lying? That feels surprisingly subtle for Noci, whose grasp of human body language is ... questionable.
Yeah. I'll need to change this.
Wait, so she's saying a) it's restricted but b) here it is? I love these titles, but I wonder if "myth" is how Noci would actually designate these.
I thought it was implied that the myths weren't actually the truth. I'll edit to reflect. "Myth" is how the metagross designates them. It has a much better idea of how humans work than Noci does.
This is another one where it sounded more Pixie than Noci, all the shoulds and woulds. But I think you could do something like, "Data logged. Human communication inefficient. Conclusion:" etc.
Will make this change.
Another striking observation from Noci.
I love the Xeno POVS for moments like these.
This one made me chuckle. "Mom! She might self-destruct because this concept exists!" "I know, hush."
The joys of parenting a toddler instead of an infant.
Man, Cuicatl, you are asking the wrong person these questions.
She's desperate, alright?
This is the only time I've ever seen Noci self-identify as a metang, and it strikes me as odd.
She's trying to communicate to UD_Cuicatl. Might change this to the more standard language, though.
I feel like Cuicatl catches on a little too quickly here, considering how very much she was not considering doing this before. Go Noci, though! This is a huge win.
Will add some lines.
This made me wonder whether Noci can jack into Cuicatl's phone. It seems like no?
They can.
Hey it's my birthday!
Huh. Thought you were older fsr.
Oh no, my birthday is the anniversary of the worst thing that ever happened to Kekoa. 🙃 I feel honored that my birthday is linked to this deeply Hoenn-core event though!! I'm sure it was entirely intentional and for my benefit and not random coincidence, as is well and just.
Totally. That's definitely what happened.
Where's Rune Island?
Sootopolis.
I think he'd be unhappy about it no matter what they said though.
Too much self-awareness.
I'm pretty sure real-world Kyushu isn't quite in the tropical zone yet. It's just above it.
Okay but Hoenn feels tropical? Was I lied to by a children's video game?
This is definitely a real teenager moment. ✅
I think Kekoa does act the most like a real teenager. I think it explains why people are so polarized on him.
!!! Friend???
!!!
I'm confused. Does he mean Plumeria? Why would it be associated with Skull?
No, the actual Queen.
Suggestion: The whole city is ending, and the ghosts are feasting.

Suggestion: The whole city is a feast for ghosts.
I'll pick one.
What gengar? When the crobat left, it was phrased like the supernatural cold left with it.
Because the gengar behind him retreated, too. This was more clear in an old version of this chapter.
Also, Plumeria seems to be really investing energy in talking to Kekoa, surprising considering he doesn't seem super important or powerful. Happy as I am to see her, it strikes me as odd.
She's humoring him. Although this actually did make me think about some things and anyway now I have an entire new plot idea I'm going to weave into the Arc 1 & 2 edits with a few sentences here and there.
He's conflating what it means to be a pro trainer with what it means to be a trainer who can take out Selene.
Similar enough things.
I don't understand why this made him less sure. Why not reach for the florges' critique instead?
Because I'm lazy and this part was c/p'd from a much earlier draft, and then not changed after florges would enter the story.
????
Names would help. Pokemon canon has SOOO many characters. I'm not gonna recognize them all by epithets.
Lusamine. I thought she was important enough to Alola I didn't need to elaborate.
I feel like she should set some boundaries around what he can and can't text her .......
She thinks he's not an idiot.

She overestimates him.
I mean, they're not really badges, are they? Also, would be nice to get a recap of how many it actually is.
It's a typo. He has four.
Coverage feels like the wrong word. It's not that they're still talking about Kyogre and Groudon but from another perspective but that they're talking about a new topic.
Good point.
Another few days? IDK, Kekoa.
Word of God: He was a wreck for a long time after Hoenn.
This was a big tangent!
Yeah. I should justify it better in-story.
Struggling to follow the connections between these sentences.
Will bridge.
"8 years" is trending? Maybe "anniversary" instead?
Or neither. Feels unnecessary.
Wow, great job reconnecting, Kekoa.
Look he didn't connect with friends because of personal choices and not because friends make a ton more backstory and characters I have to deal with. Like that friend from his first POV chapter who hasn't called since because I can never find the narrative space.
I'd really like to see his thought process here expanded. She seems to want to keep talking to him, so is it that he doesn't want to talk to her because she's anti-skull?
Basically.
"Lucky" makes it sound like Lyra is taking it from her somehow instead of her simply choosing not to eat. Is Kekoa aware of her ED yet?
Good catch.
But he's not reading, right? He's getting it as an audio/visual medium.
Reading her as a person.
This doesn't quite work. They can still look up to her, right? She just won't be a martyr. That's getting buried in the word order.
What? Is Kekoa's logic not perfect?
Feels a little on-the-nose.
Maybe.
Have you at all considered changing the title to Stubborn Things? Because they super are.
So the title was originally a play on the Facebook motto: "Move fast and break things. If you aren't breaking things, you aren't moving fast enough."
Anyway, in all seriousness, my biggest questions here are about Plumeria. I can't quite figure out her angle, what she's even bothering to talk to Kekoa for. She's already invested too much in him if she really considers him a lost cause. I guess she could be trying to nudge him into more radical action, but he seems pretty far from that right now and I have trouble believing she really thinks that's viable or worth time and energy from her personally.
This will make more sense at a later point after I make the edits. Whole new plotline he's involved in.
I'd also like a little more from Lyra during the restaurant scene. She said it was to help her, but ... IDK, I feel like there's the possibility for more weirdness there and I wanted to see it exaggerated more. Like, misery loves company, but it sounds like Cuitcatl is being especially sullen. Maybe Lyra could try and fail to draw her out? Or maybe she just wants to vent? But she doesn't feel quite chatty enough for that to me as is.
This is a good idea.
Hype about drifloon! Love those little weirdos and excited to see you play around with it. I like the inkay too and hope she sticks around.
She doesn't, originally, but I think I'll edit Recap 2 so she is around for a little longer. I like her, too.
It seems like every evolution in this world is seriously playing with fire, dancing on the knife edge between power and death. 😬 And if someone evolves a pokemon they can't handle ... then what? Can't release that back into the wild. Are they euthanized? 😬 Put into perma-storage, Parliament of Steel-style? Surely this has happened before. Class 5 or not, some pokemon would just be overwhelming. This must be something they're thinking about as they're considering their teams.
Look I'm not saying the laws make sense from any perspective.
Now that Lyra is a semi-permanent fixture, it would be really nice to check back in with her and see how her perspective is or isn't changing.
4.7
you have decided that you really like 2nd person narration, and now the voice in your head won't stop talking in this style. it doesn't help that your brain feels clouded and the booster vaccine knocked you out for half the day. so you decide to let blitz be blitz for today and just make a little shitpost about this long fanfic you've been putting to the side for too long.
I thought about doing second person for the review response but decided not to because I'm lame.
After four chapters, you have decided that Kekoa is an asshole, and that you definitely ship Genesis and Cuicatl. And that Cuicatl is a little badass. And that Genesis is really cute good christian girl. Also, Pixie has a resting SCREM face. But most of all, you have realised that you would be lost without Boot's artwork. Though you are a little concerned about the Vulpix/Original Trainer tag on AO3.
So this tag was a result of autofill and I've since changed it. I strongly doubt there will be pokemon / human relationships here. The only time I've seen a chapterfic do it well was when the pokemon was actually a former human. That was by g-l-s. I am not on that level.
You also have taken a real liking to Leon, who is, strangely enough, depicted as a blond psychic woman with an espeon. Why the author didn't go the traditional route is beyond you, but you like him her. Thankfully, he she still follows canon and works for a totally not evil cult organisation here as well. Though you would have supported the namechange to "evil incorporated". What a joykill.

You also enjoy the dinosaur talk -- you yourself have gone through such a phase and uncovered some buried memories.

Oh, and you have made a note to praise the author for the amount of details in Leon's chapter.
I can't tell if this is a joke or not tbh.
Hey Pers!

We’ve been texting so long and you never told me how addicting your stuff is? Or that you managed to find the formula for meth in written word? I’ve been blowing through this fic in a breeze, and I don’t plan on stopping soon. 57k words in under two days? And that already excludes 1.5, which I skipped for CW reasons. That is crazy fast in my books! But I figured I have my braincells together enough by now to give you some actual feedback. I’m caught up to 1.12 now.
Look how am I supposed to know my writing is addicting? And skipping 1.5 is 100% fine. I told you in DMs that a lot of this is a therapy project. The worst cases will have the skip options, or at least a CN.
What kept me going at this rate is your style, definitely. Second person present tense mixes incredibly well, and your sentences are so short and poignant that they just fly by. This is one of the very very few fics, where I find myself wanting to actually read it (instead of having it read to me) because I can read it faster than when it is spoken.
I've heard that the character names also don't mesh well with screenreaders.
I absolutely admire the attention to detail that you have. Rachel’s chapter just blew me off my feet, and after that it didn’t really get any less, even if the pov characters that followed aren’t as trained on perception as she is. And it’s nice to hear the characters’ judgment cloud their interpretation of all observations so close after they are made.
A lot of the fun of this story is perspective swapping. Different characters seeing hte same things and having different opinions about them.
Every character has a distinct style of thinking – I wouldn’t exactly say voice, but there are surely some little changes in the writing style/length of sentences/choice of words between the characters. But each of them have their reasoning for acting the way they do and you get into their heads brilliantly. I love how many layers those kids have.

They feel very “dense” in a way, like you compressed two to three character ideas into every one of them, but it really works in their favor. Sometimes I’m worried it’s a bit too much and too out there (blind + half-orphaned + psychic + endangered culture + possible refugee + discriminated for gender + several mental illnesses + possibly raped). Every single one of these themes would be enough to build a character and a narrative around, but here, Cuicatl gets to shoulder everything at once. Well, I guess that explains the length of the fic :D
I've been accused of that before, yeah, but I just have so many ideas and want to do them all at once. And mental problems tend to be comorbid with each other and with problems in life. My own problems might be too much for one character to realistically have tbh.
Worldbuilding-wise, Alola and the world it’s in feels appropriately large. I’m still struggling to get Unova as the entirety of the US into my head, because that region is so miniscule, but other than that, the world feels like the size of the real world. Especially in the Kekoa-chapter when they were in Hoenn. Also, little tidbit: I always forget that Hawaii is a part of the US. I’m always baffled why they have such strong ties to Unova and not the Japanese regions, and I only remember why every other time.
Unova is not the entirety of the US. Just a province of it. IRL Hawaii has a very large Japanese-American population because the plantation owners needed cheap labor.
I love me some real world with a thin coating of pokemon over it, because it removes it from reality just enough for me to not get depressed, while still thinking about the real-life issues you present in a reasonable way.
Same.
With the way you describe the shelters, Alola feels very diverse and like a lot of single people run these places (as opposed to one asset that is copy and pasted across a landscape). Also, the relaxed way the trial captain went about her business like this was some kids doing their… crap… urgh… ((there’s a little badge you can get here when you learn how to swim, it’s called the Seepferdchen. It doesn’t count for anything, it’s just a print out official looking paper and a sew-on patch, but the children who earn it are very very proud of it, and it’s their first major achievement and a nice finish to their swimming lessons.)) So yeah, the trial captain treated their first trial very much like them doing their Seepferdchen, and that she was going back to her normal and (to an adult) way more important work later, just like swim instructors are also mainly volunteering most of the time. It felt so much more realistic than the trial captains just hanging around the island.
You'll see more of the trial captains later. This isn't really any of their full time jobs.
The entire VStar thing is interesting. I can totally see how and that something like this would work. It seems innocent enough (as innocent as capitalism is). But in the first chapter, I was flip-flopping between “Is this a cult, because of the ranks and lieutenants thing?” and “Is this an MLM because of those more delicate details that they would discuss on the last days of orientation?”. Anyways, I expect some evilry down the road.
Nah, it's just a corporation. If they're evil it's for profit, not for the ideological points.
The “you need money to go on a journey” issue is very apparent here. And it makes sense that parents with reasonably enough resources give their children an advantage over other kids. I’d probably also sponsor my child on their gap-year and not think about having them pay for all their expenses on their own.
I can accept that some of the pokemon world is socialized. Healthcare, pokemon center stays, etc. I don't imagine food and battle supplies are. And that can get expensive, even in the games.
Which brings up underprivileged kids, like the three we are dealing with here. It makes them easier for VStar to target and, yes, VStar selling pokemon for profit is not really a nice thing to do. But (and I say that knowing full well I expect evilry from them) if they don’t get much worse than they are now, I don’t see too big of an issue here? Like, pokemon trade is not exactly illegal or frowned upon in this world, and it’s basically a job. A job that pays too little, but that’s how the Rubel rolls. Also provides somewhat of a security network for the kids (they are tracked and supervised after all. Wouldn’t want VStar to lose their foot-soldiers.)
Whether VStar is evil or not is a question that hangs over most of the fic tbh. Different characters come out different ways.
Also, something I always find myself asking when underage kids are involved: How is the education and CPS system working here? There seem to be kids as young as ten on the trail. Shouldn’t they go to school? Isn’t there a state agency that returns those kids back into their homes? I get that there are runaways in real life, too. But VStar seems to mostly fear legal repercussions from the parents. Not from the government?
CPS exists but journeys are a nice excuse for them to not be funded. "If the kids were really in a bad place they would just leave and go on journeys."
Then, the church of Xerneas. Ohohohoho, that is some top-notch religious institution. Authoritative, guilting women for existing. All the good stuff I want to see called out. Pls moar.
You'll get it. The Yveltal entry of World Myth Encyclopedia also talks about them more.
Skull is there, and they are as lovable as they are in the games. I’m looking forward to what they are up to here. As far as I can see, they are “radicals” that fight to take Alola back from the white people? I always thought of them more as a generalized pool of unwillingly non-conformists, that just didn’t fit the system (be it schooling or a “normal” job). But it seems ethnicity plays a huge role, so the nice image of the inclusatory misfits won’t fit, sadly.
Skull under Guzma was like that. Plumeria has different ideas.
Cuicatl Ichtaca. I hope I’m saying her name correctly. Sometimes they refer to Ichtaca as her last name, but she and all the summaries speak of her as Cuicatl Ichtaca, so I’ll try to keep it like that in this segment.
I've seen different views on this from modern Mexica activists. Some do use first name / last name. Others insist that both parts of a Nahuatl name are the entire name. I think for simplicity's sake I'm going to just go with Cuicatl when I do the latest round of touchups.
She is a lot of things. Mainly, she has anime-protagonist hair, and that makes her the one to go first in this list. Because that’s how life goes.

Otherwise, life has not been too kind to her. I don’t think I need to repeat everything, but she’s had it… not good. We still know relatively little about her past life. But she takes it in relative stride. Opposite to Kekoa, she is a kind girl, ready to help and happy to engage with others.
A lot of this was in 1.5. I'll try to add more into the 1.6 recap.
Her happy exterior is only skin deep, because on the inside there is a very harsh depression. Oh my god, I can’t tell you how scarring it is to hear your own thoughts written out like this. 10/10, very realistic depiction of depression.
I've had suicidal depression. I remember the thought patterns.
She is also a psychic, which makes her a universal translator. I still don’t quite understand how it works. Is she like Jesus, in that she talks and everyone understands her in their mother tongue? What about people that grew up bilingual? Anyway, that makes her very interesting, because she can understand pokemon, and that is always a big plus!
I'm gonna need you to get all the way off my back.
When Cuicatl Ichtaca isn’t a lot of things that put her at a disadvantage in life, she is a lovely, kinda tomboyish girl. I love her depiction of femininity. It isn’t as obsessive as the other two kids, she simply is, and her style reflects that. Though, she does struggle with the backwards expectations for women that her culture still has, and in extension with Genesis’s worldview. I’m so looking forward to seeing those two clash.
FIGHT!
Cuicatl Ichtaca acts and thinks a lot older than she is. She has a very good understanding of people. At first I thought she could read at least surface thoughts, and… wait, did she lie to Kekoa on purpose??? She could read Pix’s surface thoughts when she came home! Aw man, I love her more every second.
She can read some surface thoughts if they trigger the Broca's Area. Things that people think about saying or fantasize about someone saying.
Ahm, as I said, Cuicatl Ichtaca is sly as a dog. She lies if it is to her advantage, has a vast repertoire of crude language and can read people extremely well for someone who can’t rely as well on reading body language as other people can. I’d just wish she’d use her abilities to talk down people more against Kekoa and less against herself :(
:(
Due to how well she can read people, she also has a very cynical(?) view on them. Like, she does not for one minute buy into Pixie’s shit, but she is very willing to engage with it, if it makes the little fox behave. I didn’t know that, btw, and was very surprised when it came up. We had two Pixie-chapters or so, and Cuicatl Ichtaca had Pixie very convinced. I did not expect Cuicatl Ichtaca to play a double game until I heard her narration. She is such a badass!

She is blind and I love how nicely you describe things from her perspective. It’s really interesting how much still remains when you take sight away. And how much is missing. She really struggles, and even though Gen is well-meaning, she just doesn’t think of the things Cuicatl Ichtaca can and can’t do. Which I don’t blame her for. It’s hard accommodating for a condition you are not familiar with, and at the beginning it’s always like you have to learn a bullet point list of things. And seeing how there is no such list ever given or looked up, that can take quite a while.

Though, she seems to be a bit disheartened when someone makes a passing remark or anything involving sight. Like, at the beginning, when Rachel said to the group “see you later.” I mean, choice of words, Rachel. But as someone who grew up blind and has probably learned to use those phrases her entire life, I’m not sure if she would reasonably react like this? I often say “see you later” in VC to people I’ve never seen. She just seems a bit too busy with all the other things going on in her life to take care of those language subtleties.

Then the other thing that initially struck me was how the blind person gets psychic powers. I already disliked what they did with Toph’s tremorsense, because it made her a sighted person with a bit of a quirk rather than a “really” blind person. (Still, shout out to At:la and Toph, it was great to see a disabled character on screen!) But after getting to know Cuicatl Ichtaca, I found that her telepathy does not offset her blindness, but rather enhances another skill (instead of sense) – communication. Bullet dodged?
So many blind fictional characters either have some sort of sense that negates the blindness or have seer powers. In very early versions of this story I fell into that trap. I've tried to change it up in this version.
Pixie and her “bonding” was an interesting thing. I felt it dragged a bit, but overall it was a very good addition. Mainly because it gave a layer of respect and agency to the pokemon in this universe. Between that and her mother’s encounter with the duckletts (that was lovely btw – funny and just short enough to not hurt), it really makes me think about the other pokemon we capture on our way. Like her mom said: “The rest is done with some bonding magic.” Right?
Cuicatl has to listen to her pokemon. This means that she has to see them as individuals in ways that Kekoa and Genesis don't necessarily have to. Her relationship with her pokemon will always be the most fleshed out of the three.
Then there was her segment on sacrifices. And… oh boy. That was interesting. Aside from the fact that I want to see what an international court of human rights has to say about non-consensual human sacrifice – I kinda can’t wrap my head around how she justifies this to herself? Like, I get that she was raised in that religion and stuff, and later I use the same to excuse some of Gen’s views, but… how can she be “I’m a girl and I deserve the same rights as boys” while accepting that pow’s are totally okay to be executed. Dignity kinda goes two ways, doesn’t it? Then on the other hand, I’m not really keen on thinking about the justifications for and against murder, so I’ll just shelf that until she sacrifices her first human or pokemon or whatever.
Aztec cosmology required sacrifice or else the world would end. I can't see them stopping this, however long the Triple Alliance lasted.
This review is starting to lag the webpage, so I'll be brief. It's interesting to see how negative your views on Kekoa are. He'll be around for a while. He does get better over time. Sort of. He's a teenager full of angst and a desire to tear everything down. He reminds me a bit of myself at that age tbh.
Some people didn't like Gen until Arc 3. Some did. Interesting to see what people like in her. I think the innocence is a draw. She's the optimist in a story of pessimists and depressed people.
Also, the way she treats Sir Bubbles is harsh, especially because there’s a Gen-Sir Bubbles interaction soon after every Cuicatl-Pixie interaction. I would really love to hear Sir Bubble’s opinions (maybe even an entire chapter of him chilling in a pond?) but on the other hand, not getting that just points out how little of a voice he has in all of this. #SirBubblesIsTheBestCharacter
He might get a POV chapter in Arcs 5 or 6. Can't promise anything until then.
Another thing I noticed in 1.12: She has a real issue with using the word “he”. With Kekoa it’s on purpose, but I noticed several instances where she refers to Inferno as “he” and later as “she”, often within the same sentence. Now, okay, I get it, Leafeons are not exactly manly looking and she wanted a female eeveelution. She never has an issue with Sir Bubbles, he’s always correctly addressed. But then she also thought of Cuicatl as “he” at some point. Either there’s a mistake or she has some twisted understanding of male and female, where she perceives everything male as threatening and female as good and nonthreatening. Or her brain stops computing if anything goes outside of very strict gender roles.
Cuicatl was a typo. Her not being able to consistently gender Leafeon is not.
Back to her upbringing real quick: It’s clear that she was raised in a very patriarchal household and has never been encouraged to come to any conclusion that wasn’t given to her by her elders. (I don’t want to say “she can’t think for herself” because that phrase is so demeaning). Her entire thought processes are her second guessing herself if she did the right thing, which is really sad. But I love how she began to form her own thoughts and opinions when Kekoa challenged her with the meat-question. It’s lovely to see her question her thoughts instead of her actions.
Her challenging her upbringing is her main plot for at least the first four arcs.
Pixie is, in her view as well as in mine, the best character (save for Sir Bubbles, but we don’t tell her that). Love her. She is a very effective and much needed comic relief. I think everyone could use a bit of Pixie thinking to boost confidence.
Pixie will murder both you and Sir Bubbles for this statement.
You do a splendid job of keeping her “animalistic”. As in, she refers to hands as front-paws and thinks humans do sent-exchange via their hands, all the good stuff. She views human society through a different lense and acts as a good soundboard for the more difficult to spot societal issues that are brought up. Genesis and Cuicatl had a discussion on what girls can and can’t do, and to me it didn’t feel too out of the ordinary. But Pixie took that conversation and concluded that male are worth more than female humans. Which is kinda scary, if you think about Pix not as a magical ice fox but as a baby.
Is baby.
She also has a funny way of assigning names to humans. Skysong is a wonderful name. But still, her name for Gen, Growlsleeper, while really funny, still strikes me as Gen being the punching bag for jokes so far. Bloodrage for Kekoa is being waaay too generous. Tinydick would have been more appropriate.
Idk feels a little transphobic.
What I found strange, however, is how quickly she went from “I don’t want a human” to “Skysong is the best and I must protect her”. I mean, I get how she came to that conclusion, but her unquestioning loyalty for the cause came a bit out of left field. Not that I complain, Pixie is best when she is the bestest fox around.
it's A Problem. How she is. She defines herself by who loves her, so anyone she is attached to most be the very best ever.
I already have cover art but this feels like it could be lol.
 
Rock 4.4

Persephone

Infinite Screms
Pronouns
her/hers
Partners
  1. mawile
  2. vulpix-alola
This chapter depicts conversion therapy in action. It contains homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, classism, and the abuse of a minor. I will provide a summary of this chapter at the start of the next Genesis chapter for those who wish to skip out on this one for very understandable reasons.

Rock 4.4: Conversion 2
Genesis

Putting on makeup will help make you straight. Mrs. Rivers says so.

Mrs. Rivers knows best. You know nothing but sin. You must listen to her if you wish to wash off the stain of homosexuality.

It just… doesn’t make sense to you. Mother used to say that putting too much thought into makeup at your age was whorish. Mrs. Rivers insists it is a way to embrace your femininity and put your soul back into balance. To you it was always just an intriguing, dangerous decoration. It was more normal for your friends at school. Just a different type of clothing. Maribelle called it art.

Once, when you let her into your bedroom, Lyra said that it was like armor.

Purple light reflects off the mirror and your eyes widen in panic. A pulse of static rips up your leg and you hiss through clenched teeth. Even when the electricity fades you can feel the warm metal of the shock collar on your ankle.

Mrs. Rivers closes her book, The Squire of Rust Lane, and clears her throat. You turn around slowly to look at her and Mother’s starmie. Any faster and you might fall between your tight heels and sore feet. “What brought it to mind?” she asks.

It. Lyra. It is an it. A demon wearing human skin. You must not cede any humanity to it lest you be dragged into the cocoon. Mrs. Rivers knows best. You know nothing but sin. You must listen to her if you wish to wash off the stain of homosexuality.

“Putting on eyeshadow,” you answer. “It taught me how to properly apply it.”

It leaned in close to you and devoted all of her focus to your body as it gently moved a brush around your eye. Did it think about kissing you? Was that why it so diligently helped you with your makeup? To further its own perversions?

“Then we’ll skip it next time.” She opens her book back up and you carefully turn around. You’ve been on your feet all day. First it was today’s screaming session. Your voice is still hoarse from that. Then she made you practice your walk with fifty laps around the room, starting again if you stumbled. You did. Thrice. All the while a sermon on fornication was playing through the radio.

Xerneas loves the fornicators. The homosexuals. Even the adulterers. But that love must be accepted. You must purify yourself to accept it.

She flips the page two more times as you apply the mascara and blush.

You turn around to show her and she spares you a glance. “It looks fine. Take it off and apply again, this time without eyeshadow. See if you can get through it with no sinful thoughts.”

As you finish wiping everything off she starts to talk again. “All of these books feel uncomfortably pagan, but I hate this one the most.” You don’t add anything. You are to refrain from speaking unless directly asked a question. To do otherwise would risk the sin of impetuousness. (You aren’t entirely sure what ‘the sin of impetuousness’ means, but you weren’t directly asked if you understood it so you can’t ask. “The lead feels too masculine. Rides a mudsdale over a rapidash, wears trousers (Mrs. Rivers had thrown a fit when she found out that you were allowed to wear pants instead of skirts), and speaks in too common a tongue. This one is going to require heavy rewrites.”

What you can’t tell her is that rewriting it takes away the entire point. Madelyn is a farmer’s daughter who becomes a squire by chance. She doesn’t know etiquette, just ‘common’ things. And at the end of the story her mudsdale is sturdy enough to avoid pitfalls set for the rapidash, her knowledge of crops lets her avoid poisoning, and her clothes and speech let her blend into a crowd when being pursued. She’s different. It’s her whole character. How would you even rewrite it? The other rewrites, they made some sense. Change the female knights to male ones. Princess Wyren is kidnapped instead of her bethroed. The swords are changed to spears and only the men wield them. This one will be weird. You’ll still nod along with her as she goes through the list of changes she made. You’ll tell her why the change is necessary. Why the original was sinful. Or you’ll try. Madelyn is poor, not homosexual. She gets a boyfriend in the later books. Is being poor sinful? Sure, the only two poor people you’ve spent much time with were both—

Green light shines in the mirror. You don’t have time to brace yourself before the shock comes. Your foot clenches up and you stumble and fall. The tube of lipstick in your hand slides up your face and you just barely manage to close your eye in time to avoid getting jabbed.

Mrs. Rivers sighs. She stays seated as you slowly pull yourself up onto your aching feet.

“What made you think about it?”

“I… I was wondering why being poor is sinful.”

She looks at you with an unreadable expression. “I guess I should explain that to you. Wipe off your face and start applying it again.” You turn around and almost giggle at the sight of your face with a stripe of pink running from your eye to your scalp like girlish war paint. Thankfully you catch yourself. Giggling isn’t sinful, Mrs. Rivers says, but it shows a lack of composure. A true woman is always in charge of her emotions and not the other way around. “There is nothing innately sinful about being poor, but it is not something one should aspire to be. Xerneas rewards the righteous with money and power so that they can run His kingdom on Earth and set an example to the sinners. Glorifying poverty is glorifying sloth and wickedness. A noble poor person would manage their affairs in line with spiritual teachings and in time would rise to their proper place in the hierarchy.”

You aren’t sure if you can ask a question. You decide to risk it after balancing better. If you get shocked at least it might not send you to the ground. “Madelyn does rise in the hierarchy for being a good person.”

Mrs. Rivers tuts. “She is given a chance to join the elite and she balks. She values her rags over decent clothing and her vulgar ways over the more enlightened customs of those empowered by Xerneas to rule. This makes her a sinner, and a sinner sent by The Wicked One to corrupt the righteous at that.” She glances back at you and frowns. “Wipe that off your face. You look ridiculous. Three more times with no eyeshadow, then we can move on.”

Once you’ve finished with that you finally earn a bathroom break. A supervised bathroom break. Mrs. Rivers is in the room glaring at you the whole time to make sure nothing improper happens. It makes you rush. By the time you have to get back onto your feet the brief respite makes the whole thing worse.

She leads you to the kitchen. There’s a flight of stairs in the way. It feels a lot like walking down the mountains on Ula’Ula, constantly having to watch your aching feet so that they didn’t trip over a root so that you didn’t trip and fall down a hundred yards face-first.

Then Cuicatl managed it blind, granted, there was a lot of—

Oh shit.

No shock comes. Mrs. Rivers scoffs behind you. “I’m not trying to kill you.” Good. That’s good. Just a few steps more and you can finally breathe on flat ground. Then the shock comes and knocks your right off your feet. It’s only sheer luck that you catch yourself with your hands before your head hits the stairs.

“Now, tell me what made you think of the pagan whore.”

“Tripping. It tripped a lot.”

Mrs. Rivers sighs and shakes her head as you slowly pull yourself up. In addition to your feet your ankle is burning from the pain of repeated shocks. Will that scar? Is it vanity that you’re worried? You’re pretty sure that’s a sin.

Even once you’re down the stairs the kitchen is still halfway across the house. You never realized how big this place was until every step hurt. You manage to get there by settling into a rhythm. An old marching cadence you heard in some movie or another. Focus on the words, not the feeling. Keep eyes straight ahead. Think, don’t feel.

Left, left, left right left.

There are a few ingredients and pieces of equipment laid out in the kitchen when you arrive. You know what half of the machines do and how to operate even fewer. On the trail there was really only a burner, some pots, and basic utensils. Sure, Cuicatl still—you brace your legs just in time to stay upright when the shock comes.

“Again? Already?”

You grit your teeth and steady yourself. You do not want to talk back. You must sound sweet, even if the pain is starting to get to you. “It handled the cooking in our group.”

“Hmm.” Mrs. Rivers walks ahead of you and runs a hand along the counter. “Perhaps I can replace its influence with something better. There are some excellent cooking shows from a time when the world was as it should be. It’ll be good for you to watch some. It might replace the context of cooking in your head from something sinful to something wholesome. In the meantime, we’ll just be cooking bread. Try to keep yourself pure.”

Making bread turns out to be easy enough. You just have to mix some things together, taking care not to kill the part of it that’s living. Part of it is living. You grab the flour to pour it into the bowl as Mrs. Rivers explains. Yeast is a fungus, like mushrooms. You vaguely remember that the paras mushrooms you got were used in cooking. They wouldn’t be alive, though. Or maybe they mushrooms are alive at the start but are killed in the process? Like clawitzer. When you were young your parents took you to a restaurant in a hotel that Eliza’s parent’s owned. They had a tank with clawitzer in it. Each had their larger claw removed. Your father picked out one. You were excited. Ariados were fun pets and clawitzer were pretty much just ariados in the water.

They brought it out a while later. Dead. Cooked.

You asked Mother the next day about being a vegetarian. She said yes. Even joined you a few years later, although Father still eats meat. Your brother does, too. He also wanted to be vegetarian like you once but Father told him that it would cut him out of too many business meetings where they ate steak or clawitzer or milotic eggs. Levi was mad about it. Insisted that it was unfair you got to do something while he didn’t. It’s just part of your roles. He’s the male heir. He gets the company. He has to do business things. You and Exodus don’t.

You’re fine with that. It means you get to decide what to do as long as it isn’t sinful.

“Is killing the yeast bad?” you ask. The question slips out before you realize you broke a rule.

“Don’t be ridiculous, child. Xerneas gave us dominion over nature.”

At least she doesn’t punish you for speaking without being spoken to.

You pour the flour in. The result is lumpy and white with powder here and there. It reminds you of the terrible potato salad from back on the trail. The one you’d had to eat twice your share of because you’d done… you don’t actually remember what you did to Cuicatl to deserve it.

The starmie shines green. You’re too lost in your thoughts to react in time. When you tumble down to the floor a bag of flour comes with you. Your groans are interrupted by coughs as you have to hack it all our of your lungs. Stupid flour. Probably got all over the makeup you had to apply three times.

Mrs. Rivers walks over while you lie on the ground. She towers over you with her arms crossed and a stern look. There’s flour staining her black skirt. You’re torn between being scared of her and laughing. Thankfully you don’t laugh. That would’ve made everything worse. “What brought that on?”

“Something from the trail. She’s, um, it’s in a lot of memories from the trail.”

She shakes her head and continues to stare down at you with disgust. Like you’re mud on her shoes. “I understand that your parents don’t want proper reconstructive surgery, but a simple memory wipe of the last few months would do you a world of good.” What? Is that dangerous? And Father had said he was proud of what you did on your journey. Losing all of that would cancel that out. “I know a psychic who does that. He’s from Russia but speaks good Galarian. All the best psychics are Russian. Laws aren’t so overbearing there. They can actually practice without a mountain of paperwork. I personally recommend wiping everything after puberty in particularly stubborn cases. Like yours. Makes the child more obedient.”

Losing everything? You shiver. Losing years of school and friendships and experiences. Would that affect your mind? Like, would you act like you were ten? Would Levi sort of be your older brother?

“There’s so much red tape on that these days. Bunch of Yveltal-worshippers screaming that we’re the evil ones and the government listens to them. It’s a sign of the end times. All the more important that we get you in the right soon when Yveltal could return at any moment.” She walks away, her own heels clacking against the kitchen tile. “Get up. We have work to do.”

Your parents wouldn’t do that. They love you and it wouldn’t make you straight. And it would be awkward to explain, right? You might embarrass them. They wouldn’t do it.

It’s fine. You don’t have to worry about it. They already told you they wouldn’t do anything with psychics.

No, they told you they wouldn’t do the reconstruction thing. But this is close enough.

They wouldn’t do it. They love you.

The tile is cold against your hand as you press yourself up and slowly, shakily stand. As soon as you have Mrs. Rivers pushes a dustpan into your hands. “If you can’t cook you can at least clean.”

And that’s fine. Cleaning is fun. One of the not-Pokémon Centers on the trail taught you how to sweep and mop. You don’t actually just swish the broom back and forth like they do in cartoons. It’s more about pushing things towards one point. You spent a long time figuring out the most efficient way to do that. Hopefully Mrs. Rivers will be pleased.

She doesn’t say anything as you sweep. You can just take the moment to breathe and focus on the flour on the floor. It’s a little awkward since some of it gets stuck in the little brown space between tiles and doesn’t come out as easy. You also try not to walk more than you have to, but that can also be a little game.

Your mother walks in and stares at you. Then she puts her hands on her hips and turns towards Mrs. Rivers.

“Why is she dirty?”

“She fell while we were working with flour.”

“Really?” she asks. She sounds exasperated and she looks so disappointed in you. “Come on, those shoes aren’t even—” Her attention whips back to Mrs. Rivers. “What’s that on her ankle?”

“A shock bracelet. Negative reinforcement for when she thinks of her whores.”

“And will it scar?”

“Many of my clients find that the scar helps—”

“Xerneas’s Abode, Joanne, we don’t need any marks! That bastard from the university already threatened to call the police. Take it off. Now.”

There’s a strange pressure around your ankle and you can feel the metal fall away. The starmie must’ve done it. Somehow. Can psychic-types just undo locks? That seems dangerous.

Between the memory wiping and lock picking you’re starting to get why Lyra hated the type.

Starmie glows purple. No shock comes.

Mrs. Rivers huffs. “See? One moment without it and her mind already wanders.”

“Vespera, just replicate the shocks in her mind.” A bolt of energy tears up your spine and your eyes go wide. It hurt even more. Now it’s just… gone. No hot metal. No dull pain radiating away. “And stop having her cook and clean.”

“It’s feminine,” Mrs. Rivers insists.

“It’s beneath her.”

“With all due—”

Mother waves her hand and turns away. “Get her cleaned up. Now. I’ll have the help clean up her mess.”

Mrs. Rivers face contorts into cold rage. “As you wish.”

You get that reference!

Wait, is that movie sinful? It’s straight. Probably fine, right?

*​

Mrs. Rivers watches as you shower. The glass is filled with little distortions. Like pebbles at the bottom of a riverbed. You can really only see her silhouette through the pane. Making sure you don’t do anything you shouldn’t. At least the shower gives you a chance to check on things. There’s a small black mark where the bracelet was. Tiny forked paths flow out from it. And there are red spots along the sides of your outer toes. There’s a cut where the nail on your left pinky toe was pressed into the toe beside it. You could pull the loose skin away. Make things even so there’s aren’t any bumps or cuts. You shouldn’t. Even if it doesn’t hurt in the shower, it always starts to hurt when you dry off.

Mrs. Rivers keeps watching as you dry yourself off enough to fit into new clothes. It’s awkward enough that you want to put the clothes on right away, even though you know your bra will feel weird if you put it on while you’re still wet.

You hesitate when you get to the shoes. They’re too small. You can clearly see that they’re too small now that you’ve taken them off and you have the wounds to prove it. Mrs. Rivers notices your pause.

“Well? Aren’t you going to put them on?”

“They’re too small,” you tell her. Her eyes narrow. Is she asking for clarification? Asking you to shut up? Hopefully the former. Mother told her that she can’t hurt you if it leaves a mark and this leaves a mark. “I grew on the trail and they don’t fit anymore. They’re hurting me.”

“I told you to put them on,” she says. Her face is still angry. You can’t tell what type of angry. “And what did I tell you to remember?”

“Mrs. Rivers knows best. You know nothing but sin. You must listen to her if you want to wash off the stain of homosexuality,” you recite. “But—”

“And if I know best and I told you to put them on, why aren’t you putting them on?”

You take a deep breath. She wants you to surrender. It just doesn’t make any sense.

“How is it supposed to help?” you ask. She crosses her arms but doesn’t answer. You think she’s asking you to continue. “Wearing shoes that are too small, learning to cook, walking in heels. I just don’t get it.”

She relaxes. Her arms uncross. You breathe a sigh of relief.

Your cheek flares up in pain. You startle and look at her open hands just in time for your other cheek to get smacked. “You don’t need to get it,” she says with a low and even voice. “You don’t need to think. I get it. I can think my way through this. Your mind isn’t ready yet.” Her dark eyes bore into yours. You want to look away. You can’t. She told you to always maintain eye contact. “I’m starting to wonder how serious you are about all of this.”

“I-I am serious. I want to be straight.”

She raises an eyebrow. “Do you? I don’t think so. Your mind keeps wandering to dangerous subjects. You can’t even take orders without rebelling. Oh, the Wicked One’s talons are buried deep in your heart. Deep enough that you no longer remember why you should remove them.”

You do. You do. You desperately want to escape the cocoon and be good and pure. But you can’t tell her she’s wrong about you. That would break the rules about her knowing best. And you don’t want to get slapped again. That’s never happened before and it hurts enough you don’t want it to happen again.

“Reform is possible, child. I should know. I was once a homosexual like you before I was shown a better way. It took effort. Commitment. But I did it. I’ve helped many others do it. They had will. Do you?”

She turns around and walks out of the bathroom and then the room itself. The door slams shut behind her. You’re left alone to bask in your failure.

*​

The sun set and rose again. Your stomach growled ferociously and then quieted. Now you don’t feel hungry. Just tired and weak. You can get water from the faucet by cupping your hands underneath. There’s no food in here. None for you. Oliver has some seaweed submerged in a bowl of water. You aren’t sure if it would be edible for you even without his germs. He’s not exactly a clean eater and there are chewed up pieces of the grass floating in it.

No. You can’t eat that. Now.

…you’ll think about it again in a few days. It takes a few to die of starvation. You’re still in the clear.

Cloudy hovers just out of reach. You can’t touch him. It would ruin your clothes. You want to hug him. Is that a sin? You must have messed up badly to be punished like this. Mrs. Rivers certainly thought you had. If this is what you have to do to be purified…

Your stomach rumbles again. Ugh. Thinking about food must have woken it up. Maybe drinking more water would help?

You do. It doesn’t.

Oliver is sitting at the foot of your bed hugging an eevee plush. No Pixie around to scream at it. At least Ollie’s gotten closer to you over time. At first he refused to leave his corner of the closet. Then he’d walk to the door every now and then to check up on you. And now he’s even sitting on your bed. He’ll run away if you try to touch him, though.

You don’t know why some people don’t like being touched. Hugs and cuddles are great. Allana you can sort of understand since she had her pride. It took Cuicatl weeks before she stopped flinching when you tapped her shoulder.

You turn to look at the door. The starmie is still there keeping watching. Its light seems fainter. More like a nightlight than a flashlight. Is it dead? Sleeping? Did it just not notice that thought? Best not to risk it.

Happier subjects that don’t involve your whores. Um. Well, the knights are sinful. Journey is too close to one of them. Same with school. Your team is one step removed from your journey but maybe that’s safe? You wonder how Bubbles is doing. It’s been at least a week since you saw him last. Is Fern out in the gardens? He’d like that. Lots of sunlight and plants. Does he think you left him like his last trainer did? You didn’t. Sort of. It’s complicated.

Those aren’t happy thoughts.

Levi. You haven’t heard from him lately. The guards must be doing a better job keeping him away from you. He can’t get your sickness. You know that. He’s the male heir and he’ll need a male heir of his own to keep the family going. You’re less important.

A decoration. And if we don’t act the part they’ll throw us in the trash.

How long has it been since you talked to Exodus on Thanksgiving? At least a month. It was the day before the Solstice when the world fell apart. You never got to celebrate. Maybe another month in darkness. Then fifteen days of training after the light came back. That must mean its February.

You missed your birthday.

Have you also missed Levi’s?

You sit against the headboard and pull the covers up around you. How many celebrations will you miss before you’re straight? How long will you go without seeing Fern and Bubbles? Is it because of you that it’s taking so long? Would a good person have finished already? Mrs. Rivers thinks so. She’s seen a lot of homosexuals.

Your lower your head and close your eyes. Why are you like this?

Ollie waddles to the staircase to get more food. That’s fine. You might as well take another nap. Not as if there’s anything else to do. Before you drift off you see Ollie walking back up the staircase of books you made him. There’s seaweed in his hand. Weird. He likes to eat that in water. Helps him swallow it or something. He walks closer to you until you could reach out and touch him. Then he holds the seaweed out.

Oh.

That’s sweet.

You feel rude for declining but you don’t really want to eat psyduck spit. Not yet.

You shake your head. “Thank you, but I can’t eat it.” He keeps holding it out. “No,” you say. He probably knows that word. You hope he doesn’t think you’re chastising him.

He shoves the seaweed into his mouth and walks away.

That’s not what you’ve heard psyduck are like. Most like to party. Which means they like to break things and hurt people. Was he just raised different? Are their instincts not like that? Or can they learn to overcome their instincts, to be better? Maybe Father was trying to encourage you when he gave you Ollie…

You drift off to sleep and dream of falling farther, farther, farther into darkness. Just before you wake you see The Wicked One below.
 
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Shiny Phantump

Through Dream, I Travel
Location
Hallownest
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. sylveon
  2. absol-mega
  3. silvally-psychic
  4. ninetales-phantump
  5. cosmog
  6. gallade-phantump
  7. ceruledge-phantump
good yes I need a refill of sad juice. (By which I mean I'm here to review what were the three latest chapters as of when I started writing this)

4.1: Hazard Pay

And, wow... Not that I liked Hala in 3.20, but... damn. Seeing all the fallout of his little fit of indiscretion here and in 4.3 is solidifying my dislike of him. (As a person, to be clear, not as a character.) You really didn't have to try that hard to break Cuicatl, Mr Hala, have you seen the title of this fic? Look. Cuicatl was almost debatably kinda functional and you broke her. More than previously.

You let your anger get the best of you and you weren’t the one to pay the price.
Poor Cuicatl, blaming herself for all this. I don't know what she was thinking at the time, but it's not like she was the one to, uhh, decide to shatter Pixie. I suppose she could have conceded the Grand Trial earlier, but honestly you'd assume a Kahuna would be better than that. Or perhaps I would assume that, I suppose Cuicatl has no reason to give any of them the benefit of the doubt.

At some point you cry yourself to sleep and drown in the same dreams of the broken, damned, and dead.
There's really next to no description of the dream, but somehow this little handful of words is more chilling than a paragraph or scene. I can almost picture it...

She snorts and slams her tail into the ground. “I have two mothers! Do I have two fathers?”


What…?
Coco you're the best.

Her being fine with this never crossed your mind. You lied to her. She should hate you. Like everyone does. Like you do. Why is she happy about this?
But Coco's right, she just has two mothers. So, really, that makes it not a lie at all.

You still almost threw your life away for money.
Oh, Lyra... For money? You don't know the half of it.

I wonder how that event would have gone had it happened before 3.20, if Cuicatl may have been more cautious with her life... but hey, all's well that ends well?

[UD_Cuicatl is not defective]
Aww, I feel like I owe Noci an apology for suspecting them earlier. Or perhaps I don't. Still not sure what's up with them. They did have other associations, but given the tone of the 4.2 remarks about it, it can't be VStar which is who one would assume to be responsible for everything shady and bad in the world.

Don’t. Deserve. Her.
yesyoudo. Please. Cuicatl. One day you will learn to accept the love of people around you and it will make me very happy.

Maybe this could go okay. Maybe you won’t do to them what you did to Pixie. Maybe you can get family back and—and maybe you can keep going.


What a difference a day can make.
What a difference indeed...

It's nice to see some of the broken things getting closer to being fixed things.



4.2: Aftermath

I like this chapter. It's nice to see how things are going for these chucklefucks behind closed doors. It's also nice to have some people whose misfortune I can take genuine pleasure in the misfortune of. I don't have to wonder how they'll get out of this, because either they get out of it, or I will watch them burn with quite the amused look on my face.

“This is great news. Tremendous news. The best news,” President Trump said in a tweet this afternoon. “And I did all of it. No one else could have done this. Obama couldn’t have done this. Except, maybe, Xerneas…”
Reading that just dealt me 1d4 psychic damage.

You notice that his shirt is inside out. The god of victory is sitting on one of the exposed seams. No one’s told him about it yet. You won’t be the first.
I wonder if Victini also hasn't noticed, or if they just don't want to deal with him either. I mean, they're sitting right on one of the seams. Wouldn't blame Victini for not wanting to deal with him because neither would I, but they've got to be there for some sort of reason in the first place.

“Fine. I’ll do it. Just not with the anesthesiologist. This is all his fucking fault. I don’t owe him a cent.”
His plan was to anaesthetize the Tyrantum for the whole time, wasn't it? Fucking idiot.

“No,” he whispers. “The company will. I staked my reputation on this. You know what the other pros say behind closed doors? They say I’m an ‘idiot savant.’ That I’d fail at any real job. This is my real job and I’m going to show them how fucking smart I am.”
I hold this truth to be self-evident. Except maybe for the savant part that seems a little generous. I guess his battling reputation earned him that part, because it sure wasn't anything else.

“Because you’d be in prison for vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence without me.”
Oh shit haha.

I mean, really, am I surprised? What is there to be surprised about there.

“You think I’m an idiot, too,” he slurs. “That I can’t do this.”
As the clock strikes midnight, we here the howling of a selfawarewolf gaining it's brief moment of transformation, becoming someone with the capacity for self-reflection for a two sentences before his head retreats back up his ass.

“No. I think you’re smart enough to hire people who can cover your weaknesses.”
How lucky that he can afford to hire people to cover, uhh, everything.

It has to be someone.

You don’t like that it’s her.
Oh? I find that really interesting. I figured Rachel didn't have things like morals or empathy, but it seems I may be somewhat mistaken.

can a severely depressed child be trusted to make informed decisions regarding the risks of a job and the value of her life?
Thank you Lila, I'm glad we have some sane representation in this chapter.

“Under the laws of Alola, yes.” You’ve triple checked that. It’s VStar’s entire business model.
Well, at least I made it to 2022 before dying laughing.

Also, hey, so much for caring about Cuicatl. I suppose that twinge of morality from earlier must have been a special occasion.



4.3: Scars
Oh no.

I really don't know how Pixie is ever going to recover from this. Emotionally, that is, physically it's just six broken ribs. What a mess you've made, Hala. Especially because I still have a hunch that this whole setup with Brattails isn't going to work out all that great in the end, which really isn't likely to make things much better.

You were weak so she abandoned you. Got it.
Pixie sure did manage to turn that message into a totally different thing. I suppose things like "unless you want to" just goes in one ear and out the other. Truly, the gift of selective listening lives strong in her.

“She didn’t hurt me,” you say. “The bird and his human did.”
She doesn’t… you don’t want that. She tried to help sometimes, even if she couldn’t. Even if she abandoned you.
This just makes me so SAD! She's so lost and directionless but she'll still stand up to Kukui's Murdertails when it comes down to this. I hope they can make up sometime. Especially because I'd probably be seeing a lot less of her otherwise.

“You will make a good nine-tales. Think of a better curse. Then I will find her and cast it.”

Something that will not kill her. Something that will make her regret abandoning you. It may take some time, but you will think of one.
I wonder what sort of place Pixie will be in mentally if/when she evolves. Ninetales Pixie sure is an interesting thought...

the female doesn’t have blood-colored hair, but you still recognize her scent.

Firemane.
Is that a reference to how Selene in-game can dye her hair over and over like it's nothing? Given red-haired Selene isn't an option without dye, I would assume that was a dyed colour Pixie saw that first time.

“They’d just find some other kid to do it. You’ve heard how they’re talking about that Cuicatl girl.” Skysong? What happened with Skysong? “She’s blind, Doc, and they’re so eager to see another kid solve adult problems. Talk about how badass she is, what she might do next, and not that a corporation owned by a ranked trainer sent her out to die so the executive who was right there didn’t have to risk herself.”
I like Selene.

I wonder is she and Kekoa would get along if they met, without the pretense of all his baggage about her position. I feel like they'd get along... decently. Maybe not quite well, but at least decently.

“I almost got a vulpix once, you know. She was in Aether care on Akala after some Skull thug beat her up. Then all that shit with Lusamine, and Ultra Space, and the League, and being Champion came up and… I guess I forgot to come back to her” she purses her lips. “I wonder what happened to her. I hope she’s alright.”
I feel kinda bad, given that my first thought here was that Selene really dodged a bullet there. Can't imagine that going well for anyone involved.

“I heard.” Her eyes narrow and she leans back in her seat. “I think I’ll need to have another talk with him.”

“You can’t fire him.”

“I know,” she says. “But Tapu Koko can and he seems to like me. I’ll see what I can do.”
Yes, I do like Selene. I wonder if Tapu Koko holds Vulpix in spiritual regard as well, because I can see this potentially going very poorly for Hala. Regardless, six broken ribs won't be a good look no matter what.

Also... I can't help but wonder about the word another there.

“She forgot you. I’d just make her a little more forgetful. A few lost names. A lost scent. Nothing too much all at once.”

That’s really clever. Humans forget things all the time. They wouldn’t even notice if they lost a little more.
Oh. Oh no. This is not going to end well, is it? I feel like there's some significant underestimation of humans going on here. Is this going to be how Sadisttails blows thing up in her and Pixie's faces?

We’ve been texting so long and you never told me how addicting your stuff is? Or that you managed to find the formula for meth in written word?
pshht, addiction? I can stop whenever I want!

Anyways off to go read 4.4 now.
 

Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
Partners
  1. dratini
  2. dratini-pen
  3. dratini-pen2
Arc Three Edits: Return of the Review

I mostly ended up reading just the chapters with changes, so unfortunately I can't comment on how the new chapters change the overall flow of the arc, but I think the edits were really effective. Lyra gets a chance to be a much more developed character here rather than a loose canon who shows up and snarls. She makes an interesting foil both to in-absentia Gen and to Kekoa, especially with how she reacts to her pokemon. I liked their suprise bonding at the end of 3.19 a lot too.

Florges and Noci chapters were great additions. Noci voice is always a blast to read and he provides an interesting window into Cuicatl. She seems even more open with him than with Pix at times, since she doesn't have to worry as much about triggering Noci. The florges chapter definitely pushes Kekoa in a big way on his role in V-star, his relationship with his pokemon, and his revolutionary ideals. I like where Kekoa ends this arc at a lot. He's finally starting to listen to the things people who have done more work than he has are saying.

Big congrats getting through these! I'm guessing there are some bumps that readers new to this arc will point out on their initial reads that I'm going to miss as a rereader, but overall I think this ties together nicely. Excited to pick up with arc four!

3.7, 3.8, 3.10:

Lyra Joins the Team

So we've got Lyra joining the team instead of trying to kill the team. Nice! Her POV voice feels more logic-focused and transactional this time round, and I think it works. She approaches situations through a framework of analysis, looking for what she can give and what she can get. It ties in well with how she copes with the knowledge that her memories were altered. The Lyra vs Gen question is really put into focus by Lyra taking Gen's position. Functionally, as Kekoa notes, she fills a similar role by having money and resources. But Lyra's a lot more competent than Gen, and a lot less, shall we say, sincere? Lyra's good at training and logistics; she has Thoughts about preservation; and she sticks up for herself. She also knows exactly what she wants out of this and it's not friendship and rainbows. And she definitely has her nasty side: the way she instantly switches into mentally critiquing Cuicatl's appearance when it occurs to her that Cuicatl could be a romantic rival does not bode well. She slides into the team dynamic fairly well in these three revised chapters. The only thing is that I think I wanted a bit more in 3.8 from Cuicatl about her impression of Lyra. Cuicatl's internal monologue is suprisingly empty on evaluating the new team member. I'm liking Lyra as a Kekoa foil a lot here. Their back-and-forth on the cave preservation was pretty revealing of Kekoa's habit of dismissing people once he's characterized them in his mind.

Translation Time With Cuicatl

Love to see the themes of pokemon agency being addressed more and the very eoe focus on names. Lyra wins a lot of points for me for instantly recognizing the potential of Cuicatl's translation abilities and using that to find out what her team wants and needs from her. What I appreciate most is that she tries to respond with really concrete actions. Didn't get to say goodbye? Let's go back there and do that. Mom vanished? Everytime we see a mudbray I'm letting you out. Lyra's clearly not just going through the motions here and looking for her pokemon to say 'Yup, you're great, don't worry about it.'

Kekoa, on the other hand, is dearly hoping for something like that. I'm glad he at least has the self-awareness to see that; he's really come a long way in that regard. But even though he asks a lot of the same questions as Lyra does, there's something pretty shallow about it. He argues to defend Thunderstorm as a name, even though it's no hardship on him to use a different one.

I really enjoyed all the translation scenes. You write great pokemon voices and it's always a treat to get some prolonged exposure there. I also liked Cuicatl's moment at the end of 3.8, realizing that despite her ability to talk to her pokemon, she's taken a lot of things about Noci for granted.

You’re woken up by nightmares. That’s not unusual. The first has been normal as of late: Genesis kicking you over a railing to fall to your death. The second, a particularly dedicated buzzwole chasing you around Route 3, isn’t normal. No idea what your subconscious was doing there. The third… the damn psychic and his alakazam.

2011​
This bit was a little short. Is it intended to be a lead in to the flashback? If it is, maybe just ending on the ellipses.

Then you start journaling. You have to do it on your phone now, since you couldn’t really write on a dark page. That’s not ideal. Phones can be altered in a way that books can’t be. You won’t make it easy on your enemies, though. After you finish writing down yesterday’s events and today’s plans, you email the note to three separate accounts. Then you log into one of those accounts and forward it to another. Someone would have to not only alter your mind but hack several different websites to change your reality.
Love these practical measures she's taking. Shows how serious she takes this without doing anything melodramatic.

Forty-five, your phone says.
Oh, not super cold yet! But crazy for Alola, yeah. I can't remember getting an exact temperature before, though maybe I just missed it. It's actually really nice to have a reference point.

Unless the psychic-types are working together…
You never can tell with those psychic-types . . .

When you fought a long time ago she’d only had a vulpix against your pyukumuku. Didn’t even use extrasensory or anything, even though it would’ve really helped her. So she’s not a psychic herself. Just has a random psychic-type on her team. That’s fine. Lots of trainers have one.
Lyra making some Deductions over here. I didn't entirely follow the worldbuilding--can pokemon only use extrasensory if the trainer is a psychic?

Just. There are monsters in the world who envy the predators that can hurt anyone, any time. If they can have that power for themselves they’ll gladly take it. Thankfully those assholes usually tell on themselves pretty quickly.
Lyra has a tendency to lay traps in conversations, huh. It's her way of gathering info and protecting herself.

When she smiles at her own joke there’s a moment you can see the building blocks of someone very cute.
Lyra is kind of thirsty.

“Same,” Cuicatl says. “I liked her, even if she was a little… traditional. Had to talk her out of some of her worse beliefs. But she went home and I don’t think she’s coming back.”

A somewhat worrying description. You fish for more information, hoping you’re wrong.

“Her name Genesis?”

She blinks. “Oh, so you know her, then?”
Lol at how quickly Lyra works out that it's Gen from that.

If you can’t do it alone, you’ll need help. Maybe someone in the staff will be sympathetic to Genesis, but probably not enough to defy their notoriously litigious employer. Your dad isn’t pissing off The Rocket’s business partner so some of his associates helping is off the table. The Skulls would just take Genesis as a hostage themselves. Maybe even execute her if Plumeria goes way off the deep end with her revolutionary schtick. Gangs are predictable, self-branded freedom fighters are less so. And you still aren’t sure how serious she is about that. Seems like Skull’s just been harassing tourists like they did under Guzma, just with more moralizing about it. Even odds she’s in it for the money. Genesis would still be a valuable hostage to her then for the ransom.
That rewrite feeling where Lyra is poking holes in her pre-write self's logic. I think this all makes sense and is a pretty logical assessment of how screwed Lyra is in terms of allies.

And she’ll be looking for a new traveling partner. Maybe even money to pay for her pokémon’s diets. You can fill both needs.
Very transaction approach!

She answers shortly after. “On visa. Will slay.”

Probably a text-to-speech error there. You don’t correct her.
Lmao. Imagining Cuicatl very seriously saying, "I will slay."

But she was wrong about one thing: there are people that no amount of strength can protect you from, because they can hurt you and make you love them for it.
Oof. A big theme in this story. Gen's parents, obviously, but this has resonance for Cuicatl's Dad and Pix's everything.

She isn’t even that hot either. She could be pretty, but you are.
Lyra seems to be getting a bit of herself here. Get Gen out of conversion therapy, then win the war for her heart.

You’d initially thought she had money if she could afford a visa out and tutoring to get her accent almost perfect, but she seems worried every time you talk about the budget.
The accent being perfect is a side-effect of the psychic thing, right? The dramatic irony.

At least you probably have the money to pay a scalper when all this is done. Might need to call your parents to beg for blood money, which you’re loathe to do, but it’s better than freezing to death or being stuck in Hau’oli for a month.
Lyra does fill a lot of the same functions Gen did with the available parental resources.

“He’s fond of that kind of thing,” Lyra murmurs. “Metalwork. Resurrection. Enlightenment. Making things better than they were before. Obstacles are just tests to let us be broken down and reforged. Even the worst things have a purpose.” Her mat crumples and you can imagine her turning to face you. “The audacity of it all. He hurts you because he loves you.”
Ooh, some Ho-oh lore and an interesting twist on the phoenix stuff and burning of the tower.

Her words strike something uncomfortable deep inside. Your father… punished you for correction’s sake. But you do not wish to be punished any more. You will only go back once he cannot. Is this proper? He created you and has a right, but you no longer wish to give it to him. Was everything before that…
Had to read this a few times to follow it, though I get why Cuicatl's thoughts are so oblique here. This is hard for her.

She will only go back once he cannot [punish her any longer.] He created her and has a right [to punish her], but she doesn't want to allow him to take advantage of that right anymore. That's how I'm parsing it.

Parents as gods is oof, but I suppose creation is a big justification for both.

“I don’t anymore. They’re obviously real: two of them almost sunk Hoenn. But if they’re going to hurt us, why worship them?”

You remember asking Pixie a similar question a while ago. Ironic, isn’t it, that now you’re the one defending your gods. “Because we need them.”


“Maybe you’re right,” Lyra whispers, barely audible over the rain.
Lyra's sort of agreement there surprised me a bit.

“Maybe you’re right,” Lyra whispers, barely audible over the rain.
*​
“Danielle Lee?” You look up at the receptionist. “The gym leader is ready.”
The flashback felt weirdly placed here.

You scoot closer and give him a side hug. Then you slump down and your head finds itself on his shoulder. This always calmed down Achcauhtli when he was riled up. Maybe it’s weird if he isn’t your brother, but he doesn’t object when you do it. “Your voice has gotten a lot lower,” you tell him. “And you smell different now. It suits you.”

He laughs. Sort of. It’s really just a big exhale with some noise. “Missed my last two periods, too.”

You feel out his wrist and squeeze his hand. “Proud of you.”

And you are. At least one of you gets to feel good in their own body.
Can't remember if Cuicatl and Kekoa had this moment before, but it's a really lovely one and brings home their closeness.

Not eager to be the translator while Kekoa gets into an argument with a bat.
Amazing.

You try your best at the screech, but Silent Wings immediately tells you that you’re at least three octaves off. You busy yourself with flipping the meat instead of translating his thoughts on your voice.
Rip. Cuicatl's selfconsciousness about her draconic pronunciation is so real as a language learner.

“Does Musei work?” Lyra asks. “It means silent in Japanese. My home’s language.”

“Yes,” Musei rumbles. Probably wouldn’t have picked up on it at all if it weren’t for your gift. “It is a good name.”

You don’t think it fits very well, but it seems to make him happy, so you won’t give your opinions. “He likes it.”
Names! Great to see Lyra immediately switching to something that's as close to Musei's original name as she can.

See is a very rough translation. It’s what your gift tells you, but the actual word is something closer to ‘hear’ in draconic. Probably the same concept for noibat.
Makes a ton of sense, love the nuances of translation here.

He likes going to new places and trying to scare your absol.
As one does!

But ‘try not to be really annoying’ would require changing most of her personality and you don’t think you’d want that, even if she could.
where is the lie though, honestly.

Lyra’s been waiting patiently so you finally clear your throat. “He wanted to say goodbye before he left his…” Family? Friends? You settle for something neutral. “…his home.”

“Oh,” Lyra says. It’s a quiet sound with a hint of horror in it. She’d probably never thought about that before. And maybe there were also people she hadn’t had a chance to say goodbye to. “I… we’re getting close to where I caught you. We can stop by if you want?”

Musei trills happily (and at a reasonable volume) on your shoulder. Pixie hisses beside you, annoyed at another pokémon giving you comfort. You set the spoon and spatula down and scratch her ears. {Love you.}

She doesn’t answer.
Not sure Pix is annoyed by Musei here as much as the fact that Musei can visit home and she can't, Cuicatl.

Again, here for Lyra trying to make things better when they're pointed out to her as opposed to just shrugging.

{Can you just make noises sometimes?} you ask Musei. {It’ll make her think you’re translating.

She shrieks yes.
On the one hand, this is funny. On the other, Cuicatl is already making conspiracies with Lyra's pokemon and I do not think this will end well when the truth comes out.

“Just maybe not in my ear,” you mutter low enough Lyra probably can’t hear it.

The mudbray stirs and snorts. “I don’t like lying to her.”

{Then tell the truth.}

You go back to stirring as the mudbray thinks. “I meant about how we’re talking.”

“Do you want to talk to her?” you ask aloud. She once again takes a while to mull it over. A very thoughtful horse.

“Yes.”
A very good horse.

You wait a second for Musei to ramble on about his favorite berries. Haban are the best, but they’re rare so he’ll settle for pechas or bluks. Useful information to pass onto Lyra later.
Musei is a darling.

“No.” You can hear her kick some dirt up a few meters away. “I was my mother’s foal. I didn’t need a name.”
There's something really kind of heartwarming/heartbreaking about that, being able to have a sense of self rooted in your family (and then what happens when that family is taken away.)

“Mother says the mudsdale were made to help humans. They made us big and strong so we could carry things. I’m supposed to help them. It’s what I was made to do.”
Strong Amara energy here.

You make a mental note of the story for later. it makes sense that a domesticated breed
* It

Mom’s swanna grew up on a farm and he sees humans as his servants, not his gods. You’d thought all barnyard pokémon might be like that.
That's because Swanna is mighty and too good for this world.

“You can’t,” she snorts. “One day I went out to graze and she wasn’t home when I came back.” Jishin pauses to kick at the ground, like it took her mother from her. You want to hug the horse but don’t know how she’d react. Besides, you’ll leave that to Lyra. Her noibat’s already a little too friendly with you and you don’t want to give her the idea you’re trying to steal her team. “I think a human caught her. Maybe you’ll run into them someday.”
Jishin 💔

why are you and kint throwing these sad horses at me

{ProgenitorUnit is aware of present mission.}
This is oddly cute.

You’ve received a lot of answers when asking people about their parents, but “it’s classified” is new.
Chuckled at this one.

You still haven’t talked to Hekeli yet. It’s been months since you found out that a psychic translator was within shouting distance 90% of the time and you still haven’t had a real talk with your trumbeak. At first it was because you didn’t think you needed it since the birds are deeply connected to your people.

Now you’re scared of what you’ll find out. It’s cowardly, but deep down you don’t want her to tell you that she hates you. There’s still a false queen to dethrone and you can’t do that without pokémon.
Well, good on Kekoa for recognizing his selfish motivations at least.

Sending her out just to talk is selfish and bad for her health.

But you’ll gladly send her out for longer to battle the totems, a traitorous part of your mind replies.
Yuup.

What color are the Gage Heiress’s eyes, anyway? Green, right? Or blue… she didn’t like making eye contact very much. Neither does Cuicatl. Part of why it’s so easy to forget.
🙃

“And apparently I’m not as goof of a trainer.”
* good

“Uh, she wants to know what’s going on with the darkness? And the cold? And why she’s not getting as much food?”

“An alien ate the light and now it’s getting colder, like it always does at night,” you answer. “Because there’s no light there aren’t as many berries growing. Might have to keep you in your ball for a while. Sorry.”
Couldn't Hekeli have asked Cuicatl this on her own? Or has she literally not been taken out of her pokeball since this began?

“How long do you need to fly to get to the moon?”

You turn your phone on to look, but you don’t have signal in the cave. You vaguely remember hearing it took the astronauts three days? And since trumbeak are moving, dunno, a tenth the speed of a rocket, that’s probably thirty days. “About a month,” you respond. “You’d have to start flying just as the moon reappears and then you’d get there right before it disappears.”

The bird pecks the ground angrily.

“Not worth it,” Cuicatl translates.

Well at least she won’t try to run off to the moon. Good to have that worked out.
Establishing the important things. Kind of want the chapter where dream team Pixie and Mahina fly to the moon and save the day.

“Thunderstorm. It’s because you hit like lightning.”

There are a few sharp cracks of Hekeli’s beak hitting the ground hard enough to shatter part of it. Should probably tell her not to do that. Might count as vandalism or something. “She doesn’t like lightning,” Cuicatl says. “It hurts.”

“Well, she’s good at making opponents hurt.”

Another crack to the ground.

“She doesn’t like lightning,” Cuicatl repeats.
I like Mahina not being into Kekoa's 'cool' name. Lightning means something different to her than it does to Kekoa and if it's going to be her name, her meaning is more important.

There’s something strange in her echoes: you can hear her unaccented voice when she talks, but her echoes are different. You’re pretty sure they aren’t even in English.
Really cool, and brings more how hard concealing this is.

You doubt she’d have a problem with it, but it’s Cuicatl’s secret to reveal when she wants to.
Uhhh hold that thought Kekoa.

Oh. A reassuring thing. She’s proud you did the thing you should’ve done months ago.
That's what friends are for. Finding the Kekoa/Cuicatl bromance more pronounced on this read-through.

“Why’d you bother to learn about fines?” you ask. You’re being defensive and you know it, but she flies in from gods-know-where with her rich daddy and wants to lecture you about your own damn caves. At least the Gage Heiress never pretended she knew what she was doing. “Can’t you just pay them?”

She locks eyes with you and purses her lips. Another difference: the Gage Heiress would look away and stammer instead of gearing up for a fight. “Because I care about preserving irreplaceable geology. Unlike you.”
Nice to have the characters drawing these comparisons between Gen and Lyra.

Great. Now she’s insulting the ability of Tapu Koko and his kahuna to pick a trial site.
This is such classic Kekoa. He's always looking for something to get mad about even if it's really a sentiment he should agree with.

“Or a walking stick,” Lyra adds. That is a more masculine option. But since she suggested it you can’t do it for a little while.
Kekoa. Try not being five years old for a moment, please.

Cuicatl didn’t want to spend more time in the cold than she needed to after her brush with hypothermia on Route 2. Because she’s a dumbass who won’t tell other people what’s wrong until she can’t hide it anymore. Anyway, she thought that if she could survive Hokulani then she could survive Pāhili. She was right. She’s doing fine.
I don't remember the hypothermia thing and I just reread?

Hekeli is still learning to fly in the dark. No, that’s not right. She knows how to fly in the dark; landing is another story.
Lol, rip.

You vaguely remember some conspiracy theorist talking about the beheeyem rewriting memories or something, but that always struck you as tabloid nonsense.
This is also very Kekoa. He believes plenty of stuff that could be considered out there, but when it comes from a source he dislikes, it's a conspiracy theory.

“I don’t think that’s how it works with meat,” Lyra says. “I think it’d just be expensive and the bulk discounts wouldn’t cover all of it.”

“I like predators,” Cuicatl says so quietly that you can barely hear it over the wind. “I’d find a way to pay for it.”
Lyra talking so much sense here.

This is the second time Cuicatl's said that phrase.

And the idea of Lyra chewing out Cuicatl on being financially irresponsible rubs you fifty different wrong ways.
Yup. It can be true that Lyra both does not need to worry about money and that she is better at fiscal responsibility than Cuicatl, but that doesn't make it feel right.

It’s raining when you wake up. You groan and pull yourself awake as you think about all that means. The rufflet pecks you for waking him up. Thankfully it’s not a hard peck like last night.

“You up?” you ask. In case that didn’t also wake Cuicatl up.

“Yes,” she says. “Looks like we might not be able to hike today.”
This reads like Cuicatl and Kekoa are still sharing a tent. I'm guessing the whole Kekoa sleeps in his own tent; Lyra and Cuicatl share thing was a change that was harder to catch everywhere.

3.12 Who's That Pokemon? It's . . . White Florges!

I love your pokemon spotlight chapters. White Florges pops up and just starts dumping truthbombs on Lyra and Kekoa. It's good content. I understand Lyra not being in a position for it to sink in--this is everything she most fears and she's petrified. But Kekoa really should be taking notes. Yet in classic Kekoa fashion his focus is more on whether the florges, as an abstract embodiment of revolutionary spirit, approves of him, and not the points Florges is actually making.

Lyra runs off during the encounter--I get that Kekoa doesn't care, but it was a bit weird that the rest of the chapter went by, including a scene with Cuicatl, without Lyra being addressed at all.

“How’d you know we were children?” Lyra asks. Huh. Good catch. Not that you’ll tell her that.
Lyra's always on alert.

“My friend heard there was a rare one near here.”

Friend is certainly a word. She pays bills and sometimes you think that maybe she almost gets it. And then you remember that she’s a friend of the Gages with money to spare. Blood money, probably.
I was a bit confused here, maybe because I'm hopping between the new chapters. Is the 'friend' Kekoa? Or someone Lyra paid?

You’re paying too much attention to this.

You’re paying too much attention to this.

“Yeah,” you say.
Uh oh.

“They aren’t poachers.”

“Because poaching is illegal, and they’ve made enough well-placed donations that they aren’t illegal,” Lyra says. Great. Now you’re arguing with two people. Or you could just let it slide.
Lyra's fun because she's got the insider knowledge without the illusions.

“Is that not the mentality of the poacher?” the woman asks. “Society gives them a way out of destitution, if only they sell out the world in which they live. An ingenious trap. When all the exploited have is their heritage, persuade some to betray it. Then use that as an excuse to steal it under the guise of conservation.” She sighs. “If only your kind would use that cleverness to better ends.”

“Your kind?”

Unimportant.
Kekoa is getting told this chapter.

Florges. A white florges. They’re banned half the world over for their habit of assassinating warmongers and polluters. Some Middle Eastern nation lost its shit and started firing on people when white petals showed up in a crowd. They’re the ultimate revolutionaries, and one is standing right in front of you.
Didn't they go into the field trying to find one? Not sure why Kekoa's so surprised they did. Oh, florges as opposed to floette. That took me too long.

Love the details here.

“Can you not tell the difference between those who can harm you and those who will? Do you believe you must be invulnerable to be safe?”

“Fuck you,” she growls. It somehow sounds like a plea for help. Damn it, you don’t want to have sympathy for her.

“You will never be invulnerable child, not so long as gods walk the earth.”
And now Lyra is getting told.

But sometimes humans, like plants, need pruned to properly grow.
That checks out so much for a florges mindset.

“Will you fight with such when others seek justice?
"with such" is confusing here.

Or for a child lost in darkness, trying desperately to avoid being taken by a strange man and sent away from his only home?”

It takes you longer than you’d like to admit to realize she’s talking about the floette.
Rip.

I do not kill poachers. The buyers, yes, but not the hunters. The world is complicated, and some people are victimized and victimizer all at once. I would rather judge them too leniently than take a life I should not have.
white florges is wise

You bristle at the word ‘master.’ Like you’re a slave. “Or a pokémon,” the florges says. “Quite a few humans use that word in reference to their team. And others say ‘trainer’ but mean something else. Trainer implies that a coaching service is being provided. Yet few humans would allow their coach to lock them up outside of training and matches. Even then, so many humans fail to understand why their captives dislike them…”
white florges also read eoe

Maybe it’s a scam: literally freeze your people out of the market, then buy all the land and stay hunkered down in their bubbles. Keep it all when the sun comes back. Maybe Selene’s even in on it.
This is exactly the kind of thing I was thinking of last chapter when Kekoa called Lyra's fears about psychics tabloid nonsense. Meanwhile he's over here thinking covid the moon being eaten is a real estate scam.

You remember her lecturing Lyra about paranoia and you scowl. “We’re not the same.”
When you need to say "we're not the same" Kekoa . . .

Even though you won. Why is she still disappointed with you?
Face palm.

And if they did… you know you should care more about that but you really don’t. The only thing they could take from you is pain.
Welp. That's not really true though, is it. If he took away the memories from her mom, that could be considered taking away something that contributes to Cuicatl's pain, but would she accept that given the choice? I think she's not really thinking through what it means to lose memories. Even something like her brother's death--would she want to forget that? It would be a kind of false absolution in her mind, wouldn't it?

“You’re the one who can speak to dragons and birds so maybe I just don’t know as much as pokémon, but I’m worried that she’ll leave and you won’t accept it. Then maybe you’ll get hurt again.”
I see a bit of a parallel between Pix and Gen here. Pix is choosing a parent who is likely bad decisions over being with Cuicatl; that's uncomfortably close to Lyra's situation with Gen. Lyra seems pretty confident so far that if she could get Gen out Gen would come, but would she be able to accept it if Gen wouldn't? She'd probably keep trying, even though it had bad consequences for Gen, and that's what Cuicatl's doing.

3.18 Inefficient Software

Noci POV best POV let's gooo. I can definitely see the effects of Noci's upgrade in this chapter. His POV voice is a lot more sophisticated in analyzing Cuicatl's irrational human impulses and finding ways to counter them in order to advance the mission. Realizing that if he mimicked Cuicatl's suicidal impulse for having inefficient software, she'd get horrified and back off was scarily smart and begins to bring home how terrifying metagross must be, if metang can work out that kind of complexity. Noci pushing Cuicatl to seek therapy (all for the sake of the corollary mission, of course) is a wonderful combo of wholesome and not, which is really Noci all over. This chapter it finally hit me that Noci's heating malfunction is one of the reasons he's so warm and huggable. It's interesting how both Noci and Pix are baffled by Cuicatl holding herself responsible for her brother's death and in their different ways are trying to get her to move beyond it.

(The way you summarized this chapter in your edit post made me think that Noci realizing Cuicatl needed more help than he could give was connected with the Lyra conversation.)

[Observation: 21.6% of Data Pertains to Fluid Release]

[Query: Fluid Release Data Sufficient?]

A pause of 0.24 seconds recorded. Value exceeds maximum observed lapse in 100 Class Unit communications.

[Request: UnitDesignate_Cuicatl_Ichtaca Communications Regarding Fluid Release Observation]

[Data_Packet: Communications Regarding Fluid Release Delivered to Unit100_110010]

[MonitorFluidRelease_Priority.low]

Unit001_101110110 Has Gathered Sufficient Data On Fluid Release.
I am dying at a metang and metagross having an awkward conversation about observing humans pee. Maximum observed lapse in 100 unit communications indeed, lol.

UnitDesignate_Cuicatl_Ichtaca Initiates Inefficient Hug.
It's Super Effective!

Alarm Lvl 101: UD_Cuicatl can acquire subordinate energy beings possessing a superior strength to Unit010_100000111. UD_Cuicatl may only have six subordinate energy beings. Replacement inefficient for Primary Mission, Corollary.

“Guess she likes you, I guess. Can’t tell why.”

UD_Cuicatl will not replace Unit010_100000111 if high affinity is maintained. AffinityPriority.high. Will continue to surveil.
Noci's turn to have the Pix paranoia.

“Fine,” UD_Cuicatl concedes. Unit010_100000111 Has Successfully Protected Secrets and Alleviated Suspicions of UD_Cuicatl.
Sure you did, baby.

[MonitorFluidRelease_Priority.low]

“I’m sure Kekoa will be happy about that.”
Amazing.

Theory: UD_Cuicatl poses low threat to Collective. UD_Reshiram, UD_Alice, UD_N pose medium to high threat to Collective.
A very interesting theory. I see Reshiram and Alice in terms of raw power, but why N as a threat?

DataPacket_Myth2: Unit100_1 Could Not Obtain Data Quickly Enough;
DataPacket_Myth3: Unit100_1 Created More Units To Assist In Data Collection;
DataPacket_Myth4: Could Not Create Enough Class 100 Units. Created Class 010 and Class 001 Units to Gather Data with Less Resources;
Such an efficient origin story.

Terrans possess Trait.Justice. They believe that some actions incur future ‘deserved’ consequences independent of the natural results of an action. Source of trait unknown. Empirical evidence is lacking. Sometimes Terrans will shape actions based on perception of ‘deserved’ consequences.
Humans are odd.

Optical fluid release is an indication of compounding software errors, such as Error.Sadness.
It is a bad software error.

“If my software is inefficient enough that it just hurts everyone, including me, would it be a bad thing if it stopped running?”

Termination of UD_Cuicatl Results in Failure of Corollary1.
Oof, Cuicatl.

UD_Cuicatl possesses Trait.Empathy. UD_Cuicatl possesses affinity for Unit010_100000111. UD_Cuicatl has not attempted to directly harm Unit010_100000111. Conclusion: UD_Cuicatl does not seek termination of Unit010_100000111. UD_Cuicatl will relate potential termination of Unit010_100000111 to potential termination of UD_Cuicatl.

[X] Communicate

[Alarm Lvl 101: Heat Vent Malfunction;
Unit010_100000111 Is Malfunctioning;
Unit010_100000111 Is Bad Metang;
Initiating Self Termination…]
Wow, that was some pretty sophisticated thinking from Noci. That upgrade is showing.

Terrans possess dedicated software debugging units. Efficient.

UD_Cuicatl has not been flagged for debugging. Inefficient.

[UD_Cuicatl Possesses Critical Software Errors That Threaten Further Operations;
UD_Cuicatl Requires Software Debugging]
I'm with Noci on this one.

[UD_Cuicatl Can Send Queries Via Phone;
UD_Cuicatl Possesses Phone;
UD_Cuicatl Can Send Query]
So pushy.

3.19 Wait . . .

Really enjoyed the changes to this one. The florges conversation combined with the Plumeria + Kanoa one finally makes Kekoa take a harder look at his cause. I like where this chapter leaves him towards the close of the arc a lot more now, and I'm excited to see where he goes from here. Of course, he's not entirely rejecting his old ideas. And he's still not willing to question working for V-Star too much. The scene with the inkay felt important. Kekoa realizes that yeah, he should probably ask the pokemon he's caught before selling them off. But asking means the answer could be no. And if the answer keeps being no, then there goes his income. Doing the right thing here has real costs, and Kekoa doesn't think he's in a position to pay them.

As a kid I kept going to the local graveyard hoping that one would grab him and take him away. Then one day I realized that I could leave on his own if he wanted. I did.
Think something got scrambled here?

Plumeria thinks your plan is bad.

She thinks that you’re useless to her. To the cause. To Alola.
A call-back to the florges would be nice here. Kekoa thinks about her in the ending segment, so it would be good to see that.

“Yeah. Eight anniversary of Hoenn, you know? I grew up in Japan and,” she shakes her head and looks down. “It’s kind of a big deal. And every year the anniversary comes around and I don’t know what to do with it.”

“I was in Hoenn,” you tell her without really thinking. Surprisingly your eyes stay dry.

“What? I—really?”

“Yeah.” You turn around and stick your hands in your pockets. She doesn’t need to see it if you really have to cry. “My dad was in the navy. I was visiting him.”

A hand presses down on your shoulder. You ignore it. Definitely don’t find some comfort in the touch.
Disaster bonding!

Kyogre and Groudon were southern gods, but Honshu had its own fire and water deities. The Emperor had declared that the Hoenn gods were just different names for Lugia and Ho-oh. Kind of backfired later on.
Ohh boy. That's an interesting bit of lore. I see how Lugia and Kyogre could both stand for the sea, and Ho-oh and Groudon for fire. Maybe the differences would be justified as an earth/sky aspect. Very inconvenient when other people's gods decide to fuck shit up.

“…well, if the giver of our culture killed thousands of people on a whim, then you have to question the culture, huh? My dad took it bad. Moved the family to America as soon as he got a chance with his work. Made us all take new names. Enrolled me in a school that was big on Xerneas.”
I like the bit of complexity that Rocket mob boss dad is getting. Explains how he fell in with Gen's family.

She’s just going to casually throw in a mention of her servants, huh? Yeah, now you’re remembering why you don’t like her. No one really speaks again after that. Just a tiny little division between her and the rest of the world.

When the food finally comes she eats it like she’s rich, too, all delicate movements and effortless precision like she wasn’t eating stew.
This strikes a nice balance between Kekoa finding some things in common with Lyra and the big gap still between them.

I have a suit that can withstand these environments, but on relatively short notice we were not able to create more than one.”

Read: She’s a glory hound who doesn’t want to share.
Yes, Kekoa, I'm sure that's the real reason :rolleyes:

For a moment you wonder if he’d try to get groudon for this. No. Even she isn’t that stupid.
She?

And then the haole wouldn’t have their own martyred queen to look up to. Last thing you need is for them to get self-righteous about their shitty cause.
Who does that sound like--

And then the haole wouldn’t have their own martyred queen to look up to. Last thing you need is for them to get self-righteous about their shitty cause.



Wait.

Is that what Kanoa, Plumeria, and the florges think about you? They’d all seemed almost amused by your worldview. Like it was a joke. Like all of this was a joke. And if your pseudo-sister, boss, and a near-immortal revolutionary all think you’re a… a self-righteous fool.
Just started cackling at that wait. Ladies and gentlemen, is this a revelation?

Floette are people? They’re sentient, yeah, it makes sense. She’d insisted you were a poacher, even if you were doing it for good reasons.
I feel like kidnapper would be the more apt word for taking sentient beings away from their homes.

If you sell her she’ll end up in some building with toilets to flush and places to explore. It won’t be too different. But… you should ask her, to be sure. And if she says no…

…you can afford to keep her on your team for a while. Until the dark goes away. Then you can release her. But if that happens every time VStar asks you to find a pokémon then you won’t have the money to properly care for your team.
News at seven: area boy discovers that respecting the autonomy of pokemon makes your life more difficult.

The additional scene works well to close off the chapter! We get a larger sense of how Alola is reacting, and some more aftermath of Hala's decision, in terms of him getting excluded from the moment. Reading this reminded me how much I enjoyed this chapter. Hala's such a stubborn old man, and you really do feel where he's coming from.

She even signed a few petitions for Plasma’s Alola branch back in the day. Don’t think she’s apologized for it, either.
Says so much about Hala that he thinks an apology is in order for that.

Maybe what you did was wrong, but so was every other choice.
🙃

She’s still young, barely fifty, but she’s slowed down a lot since her daughter died. In the full light you realize that she’s stopped dying her hair, revealing that it’s all gone gray at some point.
Nice touch with barely fifty being young.

Maybe you’re the snowman, worn down by the world and on its last legs. Or maybe you’re the child, desperately trying to prop up something good that will be worn away whatever you do. You don’t know.
Mmm, both of these are compelling metaphors, and I like the way he feels both too old and too naive at once.
 

love

Memento mori
Pronouns
he/him/it
Partners
  1. leafeon
I read a bunch of this a while ago but never wrote a review. I am resuming reading from around chapter 1.6 to refresh my memory. This post is a bit shallow, I think, but I wanted to focus on just getting something out since I failed at that last time.

My biggest complaint is that a concerning number of chapters appear to center characters other than Pixie. As the strongest, prettiest, and smartest character, Pixie should be the center of attention at all times. Please remedy this as soon as possible.

Aside from that glaring issue, I remember wanting to comment on Genesis' fuck up in chapter 1.7 as an example of where the narration felt, at points, very on-the-nose. In particular,

Like you’re the one being attacked.

Crap. Shouldn’t have said that. Couldn’t have. You. You wouldn’t. You’re a good person. And you’re not a racist!

She can recognize, even in the heat of the moment, that she's defending Lusamine because she identifies with her and that what she said was racist and indefensible, but she still managed to be immature enough to say it. It didn't totally track to me. Felt like you were giving up the game a bit—laying out her character flaws in a way that felt like an authorial statement of intent. There were a few other places in the narration where I felt similarly, but I cannot remember where they were.*[note about this in the next paragraph] I think I am generally more tolerant of Pixie's cognitive dissonance because she comes across as younger and demonstrates little self-awareness.

(*There's another example of something similar-ish here:

He croaks, which honestly could mean anything, and you keep on moving, basking in your brilliance.

"basking in your brilliance" feels more like an ironic dig by the author than sincere, psychically close narration. It *is* somewhat amusing, but it's also somewhat dissonant.

You swallow it down and vow to never do a racism again.

This is another example; the memey language is also a bit jarring)

Speaking of Pixie, I really like her perspective. Partly because of pro-vulpix bias, I'm sure, but also the way her insecurity shines through (need for constant affection, refusal to admit defeat, staying quiet even when she's melting because she's supposed to stay quiet in the harness, etc.). Really makes me want to give her a big hug and tell her that she really is the most amazing ice fox to have ever lived and that she's so cute and lovable etc etc. I think Cuicatl handles her pretty well, in the sense that she reassures her but doesn't actually go as far as to feed into her delusions.

“Besides, vulpix are the best foxes and I am very smart for a human so I know not to leave one for an eevee.” You try to pour as much disgust as possible into those words.

Okay actually never mind disregard that last sentence I said. I did guiltily enjoy Cuicatl indulging Pixie in this chapter, though.

But you deserved it. For the mama’s girl dig. And just in general you deserve a few trips here and there. Remind you of your place. Might make you prettier. You almost just drop down and collapse into the mud and let your face hit the earth and wallow there forever. They could just hike faster and

No you have a right to be mad ;_;

You pause and take a breath, emotional pain swelling and subsiding all at once. Sometimes you need to push your head above the surface and breathe. Sometimes you need to push someone else down to do that. Everyone else does it when they need to. Hell, she does it to you non-stop with her girl jokes. Can't say she doesn't deserve it.

When will the cycle of violence end. Gonna be hard to repair their relationship after this scene.

You want the sun to rise and the rains to come as much as anyone else but that can be done with volunteers and war captives, right?

You know I'm not sure that's really any better

“Okay,” he finally says. “I’ll take the deal.”

Oh okay they kind of resolved this easier than I expected

Ce intercepts the water gun and doesn’t care at all because she’s a paras.

I thought Sir Bubble had used Bubble, though

Pixie curled up in the shade, four paras around her, and one sitting on her head like a hat.

At first I thought this was saying Pixie had a paras on her head, but either way I think it's a funny scene.

The grubbin forms a second later. You deliberately puff yourself up to make yourself larger and throw your voice down in pitch. “Hello, I’m your new—” A string shot hits you right in the face. Hekeli moves and you can hear a fight break out. You half-consciously withdraw the bug and bring a hand to your mouth to assess the damage. Damn it. Webbing everywhere. Is it water soluble? It had better fucking be.

The contrast between this taming experience and Cuicatl's is great. Good for you, grubbin.

My thoughts on Kekoa overall are that he's an asshole, of course, and while he has sympathetic struggles and backstory, they clearly are not meant to excuse him. I believe that he can be redeemed, though. He is, at least sometimes, capable of recognizing that his behavior is cruel.

“Good night, Pixie. Good night, Cuicatl Ichtaca.”

Relationship development hype. I'm glad she was able to relate to him well enough to relieve some of the tension. And revealing her powers was a brave thing to do, I thought.

But you should probably wait until they like you more before you save their souls. Neither are likely to die in the next week.

Man I would hate it if I had to worry about saving the souls of like pretty much everyone I get close to

Chapter 1.12 is really hammering home how little Genesis has thought about, like, actually completing the challenges and also how little she knows about pokemon. (Do lycanroc eat rocks? Can I get one with a Class II license? Do leafeon eat plants?). RIP eevee, though. I was kind of surprised she didn't try to save it out of stubbornness if nothing else.

Kekoa—Allana—looks up and makes eye contact with Kanoa.

Irritating that she goes out of her way to use the wrong pronoun *and* the wrong name.

Honestly, you’re just looking for enough power to beat the trial and move on to the next one. You’ll figure that one out when you get to it.

You know, something tells me that might not work out so well. I wonder if the leafeon's natural reluctance to train will force her to put some effort in.

Inferno shakes himself off and the few ice crystals that hit him go flying away. The field is bathed in red light as Pixie is withdrawn. There are thin lines of blood on the field where the razor leaf attack hit. Cuicatl turns around and starts walking in the direction of the Center.

I like this description of the aftermath of the battle; gives some strong images and lets the reader fill in the gaps. Efficient. Maybe the second sentence would read better as "Red light bathes the field as Cuicatl withdraws Pixie"—changing it to active voice.

I'm surprised at how well the adoption idea worked out, though—at this point I kind of wonder if it isn't a waste of time to catch things the old fashioned way.

Can you ask to keep… playing? She seems done and you didn’t really understand what was going on. Maybe sometime in the future you can see if you can bring it up.

This bit made me go back and check Genesis' age. This struck me as especially childish/socially obtuse, even for her. I'm not really suggesting you change it right now, I just wanted to mention that it stood out to me. BT gang DND session when

“Jenny just blew fifty bucks on an eevee.”

Okay, kinda suspected that's why the others didn't consider adopting. Money sure can solve a lot of problems.

Her? Him? You don’t want to offend Allana. You don’t want to offend Xerneas.

Again, this reinforces how much it would suck to believe in the shit she believes in. I feel bad for her in a way, but it's also kind of her fault.

She picks some clothes off of her bed and walks towards the bathroom door. “I saw a castform. Once you clear your trial I know where we should look.” Already thinking about that when your friend is hurt? Allana stops with her hand on the doorknob and lets her fingers slide off as she turns back towards you. “Her pride’s hurt. I don’t need to tell you to be nice but.” She sighs and turns back towards the door. “If I’m being a dick call me out.”

Wholesome moment! <3

I actually relate to Genesis insofar as she just doesn't socialize or adult well. I guess she's had a comparatively sheltered life. I wouldn't be surprised if her sexist religious beliefs played into her upbringing not preparing her for much responsibility or adventure. Wish I remembered more of the earlier chapters, because there might have been more on this.

only a charred, bloody, remains

I think this is missing a word.

Accidents happen, after all.

I thought this scene was really effective.

The creature descends again. You feel two, three more blows each followed by cracking and warmth in your body but none of it hurts more than what you just saw.

Was this degree of violence really necessary to capture her? Anyway, her backstory is pretty heartbreaking, and I think you get that across successfully with broad strokes.

There’s a giant (but very pretty) white human-like thing in the center of the clearing.

Throughout the fight scene I never had a clear idea of what this really looks like. It's given the epithet of fluffman, but the initial description here doesn't imply that there is any fluff. Or leaves, which are also mentioned later. Toward the end, I realized it's probably a shiftry. Maybe there's a better way to summarize its appearance. Brown biped with white fluff and leaf-fans for hands? (Pix would say "paws", of course.)

Should you put her down?

It's hitting me that Pix thinks this is a life or death matter—it surprises me a little that Cuicatl never made it clear to her that her life isn't in danger during these trials. Pretty big communication gap. And is there a particular reason Pix doesn't assume that this is like one of the other non-mortal battles Cuicatl has already had her fight?

You were never good for anything.

And now that I think about it, I'm not sure if we've ever been presented with Pix's thoughts after losing a battle; this is the first time in the story that I can recall her facade actually breaking.

No, that’s what the first attack felt like this.

?

“I hope you’re happy.”

There is a part of me that empathizes with Pix's cruel pleasure. It taps into the selfishness I had as a child, I think. But even as an adult, it's not too hard to see the appeal of being the center of the universe.

The man on the screen nods sympathetically but he’s been steadily less sympathetic as the conversation has worn on.

I appreciate how you've shown pretty much as little of this scene as possible while still getting all the characterization/implications across. I think there are a lot of examples of good efficiency in the story.

Should you help? She did betray you. But if you help her now she might realize how valuable you are and kick out Loudspore for good. Worth the risk. You steadily plod over and gently extend a paw to her back.

This paragraph hammers home Pixie's selfishness. She isn't worrying about how badly Cuicatl is hurt, just whether it would be pragmatic to take revenge now. My prediction is that she will slowly start to feel guilty as she sees the negative effect banishing Ce had on Cuicatl, but I am not sure if that alone will spark much change.

I would like to comment on Pix's relationship with her siblings because so little is said about it. How does she feel when sixthborn dies? Is she sad? Does she think they deserved it for being weak? Was she too young for it to register? It doesn't particularly seem like the siblings saw each other as competition until around the "accidents happen" scene. I interpreted this sentence:

The day before you and your siblings would have walked as close to the edge as you could before Avalanche growled and pulled you back or fear of the yawning chasm finally won out.

as implying that the siblings used to play with/dare one another around the edge and so must have been somewhat friendly with one another. But we never see that; the focus remains pretty much entirely on Pix and her mother, so I'm left wondering. I think there could be important implications for her character that I'm not getting.

Prose-wise, there are many places where commas are omitted. Is that deliberate? I think the last sentence I quoted is a good example of why you might not want to do it; when I read "The day before you and your siblings would have walked..." with no comma after "before", it leads me to expect that the subject of the sentence is "The day before" (as in the sentence "The day before yesterday was cold"), and I pretty much have to read the entire sentence before I realize that's not the intent. Prose like that can be tiring because I have to constantly correct my expectations.

Overall, I have been enjoying this story. It feels very introspective and character-driven to me, and I am interested to see how these "broken" people develop. Especially Pixie. I found the summaries on chapters with content warnings to be useful for refreshing my memory on stuff I had forgotten. Hopefully I can make it to the recap section soon; then I won't have to worry about forgetting stuff so much. It'll be like a checkpoint in a videogame.
 

Sinderella

Angy Tumbleweed
Staff
Location
In Guzma's Closet
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. sylveon-shiny
  2. gothitelle
  3. froslass
  4. chandelure
  5. mimikyu
Hi Perse! Finally getting started on this, and excited as hell to read an Alola story. I also didn't realize this was Pixie's stories, so double excite! Starting with chapters 1 and 2 today.

Right off the bat, there's a lot of interesting things being mentioned. I really like the worldbuilding that starts to kick off in chapter 1--we've got VStar, a company that helps trainers go on journeys. There's a sense of realism in it, down to the presentation about payment plans, apps, and of course mortality rates--love the idea that the concept of going on a journey is deadass roughing it with the chance that you might end up dead to a predator 'mon in the wild. I get the vibe that this is meant to be "Real World with Pokemon In It" and not the other way around. Also, Rachael is an interesting character! The concept of people being psychic (kind of like the Trainer Class in the games, I suppose?) being able to telepathically communicate with Pokemon and having certain, like, abilities? Very interesting all around. I love how she paints herself as pretty cold and calculating, like any businesswoman would, but she clearly has a soft spot--as seen from the way she looks into blackmailing the abused trainer's family, or how she seeks to bring Cuicatl down from her bout of panic.

Chapter 2 was also very nice. We get to get into Pixie's shoes, something I was very excited to do, and I found myself with a lot of questions! WHy's she hurt? What happened to her? I felt sympathetic for her, even in the face of her acting like a brat, because she's clearly Going Through It(TM). The chapter wraps up in a neat bow of Cuicatl and Pixie coming together. Pixie's very not with it, until Cuicatl gets to talking with her, and bless Cuicatl for being so damn patience. I'm sensing there might be some obstacles in store for them, but this generally feels like it'll be an okay match, despite Pixie not entirely feeling so at the moment.

I do question the choice to write all of this in second person. I don't think it's a bad thing at all, but I wonder what the appeal of telling this story through second person is compared to telling it in first or third, considering we moved from Rachel's head to Pixie's over the span of two chapters. Of course, I am only two chapters in, and maybe that will all start to make more sense as I read on. Additionally, I also wonder how big Rachael's role in the story is. She works for VStar, she's the one responsible for bringing Pixie and Cuicatl together, but are we going to see her more in the future? She began the story, so I wonder if she was just the segue into this tale, or if she's going to be reoccurring.

All in all, I'm very intrigued with this story, and am excited to read more :D Until then, I leave you with some line-by-lines!

Chapter 1
The governor’s having a fundraiser tonight and you’ll be there. He’s a nice man. Genuinely likes you. Has a tendency to talk a little too much when he’s lonely and just a little bit tipsy and thinks he can trust someone. And given the way that things seem to be going at home and in the polls, well, he’s very lonely and probably drinking a little more than he should. And it’s your job to be likeable and trustworthy. When the public thinks of your company, they should think of their beloved sports star and hero. When the investors, reporters and politicians do, they should think of the pretty blond girl who either kind-of-flirted with them in just the way they liked or who gave them the kind of compliments they needed. Put a pretty face on your operation so no one ever wants to peel off the surface and look beneath.
I found this paragraph quite awesome from a realism standpoint. If the sport of Pokemon training were something really real, this totally feels like how the life of a higher up in the Pokemon World, or even a big-shot trainer, would live.

As soon as you make eye contact a feeling flashes in the back of your mind and you know that he’s cheating on his pregnant wife.

Eh. Could be worse.
COULD BE WORSE. That's fucking cold Rachael!

“VStar helps fund trainers who might not have the means to complete an island challenge, or trainers who just finished an island challenge but can’t afford to keep all of their partners. We help them get rid of excess pokémon and give them to people who want them but can’t get one. Busy professionals and parents, the disabled, or just people who don’t have a team strong enough to go into the species’ natural habitat. Everyone wins.”
Love this concept!

{Espy, can you pay attention to him?} you ask telepathically.

{Treat?} he shoots back, mentally.

{Later. You just had one.}
Telepathically speaking to Pokemon?? Is this with ALL Pokemon, or just psychics? Curious!

“Since I was ten.”

“I meant how many years?”

You crack your smile a little wider. “Since I was ten.”
YES QUEEN, this is how you dodge invasive questions!

His eyes widen. Any half decent pokémon journalist know what alakazam ownership means. It’s why you aren’t going to replace Allen when he dies.

“So, you’re psychic?”

You nod. “Yeah.”
👀👀👀👀👀 PSYCHIC NPC????

Chris Foster? He’s the eight-time-running United States champion, highest ranked trainer in the world, tamer of Victini, and at least the third biggest pain in the ass in Alola.
I just have to say, the name "Chris Foster" fits so ridiculously perfect with how this character is presented. Like a stuck-up jackass who thinks his shit doesn't stink and acts like a tool behind closed doors. Great pick. Also, THIRD biggest pain in the ass??? Who's first and second???

Theoretically you could have your scan bring everything back, but it’d probably take you a week to process and land you in a hospital bed for a few months. If you were lucky. If you weren’t lucky it would land you in a coffin.
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOF, that's...spooky to know that psychics can risk it all like that. But it makes sense.

Sixth. Young girl. Probably ten, maybe eleven. Abuse. You’d bet she’s getting away from it as soon as possible. Smart kid. You’ll look the parents up so you have blackmail at the ready if they try and take their kid back. Low security risk.
Awwwwww so Rachael DOES have a heart!

Your eyes open wider as it dawns on you. She’s psychic. Probably another telepath. Strong. And not trained in any style you’re familiar with. This definitely shouldn’t be the first you’ve heard of her. You like to think that you’ve met every other psychic in the commonwealth and not a one has ever brought her up.
And I OOP. Main character alert?????

You still feel miserable after a ninety-minute nap. How does that work?
Oh HONEY, let me fucking tell you.

You make a point of taking an aspirin, knowing that it won’t really help but hoping the placebo effect does enough to make you comfortable. Which might negate the placebo effect. Is there a placebo effect where you know what the placebo effect is, so you expect the placebo to make you feel better, which means that it does make you feel better? A placebo placebo effect.
This paragraph made me giggle quite a bit.

Skull defectors
👀👀👀👀👀👀👀👀👀👀👀👀👀👀👀👀👀👀👀👀 Did you say....SKULL???????????????

MOOOOOOOOODDDDDDSSSSSSSSS, I'D LIKE TO REPORT PLAGIARISMMMMMMMMMM /j

A wild hydreigon flew within twenty miles of the academy once and they shut down classes for three days. Parents accused them of underreacting.
That's...extremely fucking horrifying to think about, wow.

old pokémon.”
There's a quotation mark here that I don't think needs to be there.

Chapter 2
Talking more in breath than sound, trying to sound quieter than they really are.
This is really small but this is a really cool way to describe a whisper, taking notes!

The nine-tails only keep two vulpix to train.
*keeps

She’s not like… like they were.
Like who was, Pixie???? Who hurt you :(((((

“I’ll take that as a no. What I’m saying is, your shit stops now. No more peeing on pillows, hiding pokéballs in the woods, freezing the ground your trainer is about to step on, letting all hell break loose when you see another eevee, or trying to hurt teammates. Again, are we clear?”
Man, I feel bad being somewhat annoyed with her for these antics, but also, she has CLEARLY been through some shit, so I almost have a hard time being that upset? Pixie, please, open yourself to real love.
 

Persephone

Infinite Screms
Pronouns
her/hers
Partners
  1. mawile
  2. vulpix-alola
good yes I need a refill of sad juice. (By which I mean I'm here to review what were the three latest chapters as of when I started writing this)
Red Queen Phenomenon. Review as fast as you can but you'll never catch up.
4.1: Hazard Pay

And, wow... Not that I liked Hala in 3.20, but... damn. Seeing all the fallout of his little fit of indiscretion here and in 4.3 is solidifying my dislike of him. (As a person, to be clear, not as a character.) You really didn't have to try that hard to break Cuicatl, Mr Hala, have you seen the title of this fic? Look. Cuicatl was almost debatably kinda functional and you broke her. More than previously.
Okay but he proved a point, right?
Poor Cuicatl, blaming herself for all this. I don't know what she was thinking at the time, but it's not like she was the one to, uhh, decide to shatter Pixie. I suppose she could have conceded the Grand Trial earlier, but honestly you'd assume a Kahuna would be better than that. Or perhaps I would assume that, I suppose Cuicatl has no reason to give any of them the benefit of the doubt.
I think it was shitty to manipulate Pixie to be at the fight at all, and it is a lot of what she's guilty about. She couldn't have reasonably expected things to go as badly as they did.
There's really next to no description of the dream, but somehow this little handful of words is more chilling than a paragraph or scene. I can almost picture it...
And the best part is that I didn't have to write a dream sequence.
Coco you're the best.
SCREM
But Coco's right, she just has two mothers. So, really, that makes it not a lie at all.
Shhh. Don't interrupt the pity party.
Oh, Lyra... For money? You don't know the half of it.
It's not suicide if you get paid.
I wonder how that event would have gone had it happened before 3.20, if Cuicatl may have been more cautious with her life... but hey, all's well that ends well?
Word of God: She would have demanded more information. But after Kalani she wasn't in a good enough place to decline the offer.
Aww, I feel like I owe Noci an apology for suspecting them earlier. Or perhaps I don't. Still not sure what's up with them. They did have other associations, but given the tone of the 4.2 remarks about it, it can't be VStar which is who one would assume to be responsible for everything shady and bad in the world.
Good. Do not doubt best unit. Has your interests at heart. Please give it all of your personal information as thanks.
yesyoudo. Please. Cuicatl. One day you will learn to accept the love of people around you and it will make me very happy.
Okay time to get way to personal for a moment: Cuicatl probably has the most of my issues. Sometimes accidentally. I'm also not good at accepting love. Like, I often wonder why my cat likes me. So yeah. Uh. She'll get better when I figure out how to write people who are better, I guess.
4.2: Aftermath

I like this chapter. It's nice to see how things are going for these chucklefucks behind closed doors. It's also nice to have some people whose misfortune I can take genuine pleasure in the misfortune of. I don't have to wonder how they'll get out of this, because either they get out of it, or I will watch them burn with quite the amused look on my face.
Good... Good... let the hate flow through you.
Reading that just dealt me 1d4 psychic damage.
That's not very much.
I wonder if Victini also hasn't noticed, or if they just don't want to deal with him either. I mean, they're sitting right on one of the seams. Wouldn't blame Victini for not wanting to deal with him because neither would I, but they've got to be there for some sort of reason in the first place.
Does victini actually understand fashion, tho?
His plan was to anaesthetize the Tyrantum for the whole time, wasn't it? Fucking idiot.
Yup.
I hold this truth to be self-evident. Except maybe for the savant part that seems a little generous. I guess his battling reputation earned him that part, because it sure wasn't anything else.
He's ranked number one in the world. Maybe that's because having victory on your side means you can't actually lose.
How lucky that he can afford to hire people to cover, uhh, everything.
Yup. Shame he doesn't listen to them.
Oh? I find that really interesting. I figured Rachel didn't have things like morals or empathy, but it seems I may be somewhat mistaken.
She does. She just doesn't let them interfere with her professional life.
Thank you Lila, I'm glad we have some sane representation in this chapter.
Lila has one of the two brain cells in this story. Everyone else shares the other.
Well, at least I made it to 2022 before dying laughing.

Also, hey, so much for caring about Cuicatl. I suppose that twinge of morality from earlier must have been a special occasion.
She privately feels bad. Not bad enough to actually do anything about it.
Oh no.

I really don't know how Pixie is ever going to recover from this. Emotionally, that is, physically it's just six broken ribs. What a mess you've made, Hala. Especially because I still have a hunch that this whole setup with Brattails isn't going to work out all that great in the end, which really isn't likely to make things much better.
It's fiiiiiiiiiiiiiine. Pixie is fine. The fox is happy. This is a fluffy fic. Comic relief, yay!
Pixie sure did manage to turn that message into a totally different thing. I suppose things like "unless you want to" just goes in one ear and out the other. Truly, the gift of selective listening lives strong in her.
Look if either Pixie or Cuicatl wasn't deep in self-loathing this could be worked out in a conversation.
This just makes me so SAD! She's so lost and directionless but she'll still stand up to Kukui's Murdertails when it comes down to this. I hope they can make up sometime. Especially because I'd probably be seeing a lot less of her otherwise.
Why would I cut Pixie out? If anything I'd just stop talking about the boring humans doing things somewhere Pixie isn't.
I wonder what sort of place Pixie will be in mentally if/when she evolves. Ninetales Pixie sure is an interesting thought...
Heh. Probably a lot like Kalani.
Is that a reference to how Selene in-game can dye her hair over and over like it's nothing? Given red-haired Selene isn't an option without dye, I would assume that was a dyed colour Pixie saw that first time.
Yeah. It's strange to her.
I like Selene.
I lied she also has a brain cell of her own.
I wonder is she and Kekoa would get along if they met, without the pretense of all his baggage about her position. I feel like they'd get along... decently. Maybe not quite well, but at least decently.
Oh I think they could like each other. Just a matter of if he allows himself to.
I feel kinda bad, given that my first thought here was that Selene really dodged a bullet there. Can't imagine that going well for anyone involved.
Pixie had a little less of a complex then. It could've worked, actually. Maybe. By a certain definition of 'worked.'
Oh. Oh no. This is not going to end well, is it? I feel like there's some significant underestimation of humans going on here. Is this going to be how Sadisttails blows thing up in her and Pixie's faces?
I'm writing the chapter where this pans out rn. Will be fun!
Arc Three Edits: Return of the Review

I mostly ended up reading just the chapters with changes, so unfortunately I can't comment on how the new chapters change the overall flow of the arc, but I think the edits were really effective. Lyra gets a chance to be a much more developed character here rather than a loose canon who shows up and snarls. She makes an interesting foil both to in-absentia Gen and to Kekoa, especially with how she reacts to her pokemon. I liked their suprise bonding at the end of 3.19 a lot too.
Yeah. I think your advice (on both alts) played a big role in how I handled Lyra in the edits. Thank you.
Florges and Noci chapters were great additions. Noci voice is always a blast to read and he provides an interesting window into Cuicatl. She seems even more open with him than with Pix at times, since she doesn't have to worry as much about triggering Noci. The florges chapter definitely pushes Kekoa in a big way on his role in V-star, his relationship with his pokemon, and his revolutionary ideals. I like where Kekoa ends this arc at a lot. He's finally starting to listen to the things people who have done more work than he has are saying.
Also largely a response to your reviews lol. And people liking the florges chapter of ADex. Me liking the florges chapter of ADex. Same diff. Really, I got to play with oricorio and florges in one arc. It was pretty great.
3.7, 3.8, 3.10:

Lyra Joins the Team
"I'm not here to make friends." -Lyra on survivor, probably. And I get it re: monologue. A result of some of the chapter being old and some new.
Translation Time With Cuicatl
A lot of the edits were made with EoE on the mind. Names and power dynamics ended up becoming more prominent as a result.
This bit was a little short. Is it intended to be a lead in to the flashback? If it is, maybe just ending on the ellipses.
I messed up in the c/p to the forums. There was originally a whole sequence between them where Cuicatl gets hypothermia.
Oh, not super cold yet! But crazy for Alola, yeah. I can't remember getting an exact temperature before, though maybe I just missed it. It's actually really nice to have a reference point.
I think the exact temp is new. I tried to make it so the temps got steadily colder throughout the arc. Didn't start ridiculous but hit the twenties by the end.
Lyra making some Deductions over here. I didn't entirely follow the worldbuilding--can pokemon only use extrasensory if the trainer is a psychic?
No. But a psychic would've definitely taught her pokemon psychic moves, right?
Lyra has a tendency to lay traps in conversations, huh. It's her way of gathering info and protecting herself.
One of the more fun things to write for her lol.
Lyra is kind of thirsty.
Yeah. As an ace person thirst sequences are a little weird, but sure. Why not. Let's throw that in. They're teenagers, after all. It would be weird if none of them had hormones.
Lol at how quickly Lyra works out that it's Gen from that.
I'll add a bit more length in the future.
Lmao. Imagining Cuicatl very seriously saying, "I will slay."
Cuicatl the Fairy Slayer: Protecting the noble dragons from the evils of balance patches.
Oof. A big theme in this story. Gen's parents, obviously, but this has resonance for Cuicatl's Dad and Pix's everything.
No. No themes. Themes are for eighth grade book reports.
Lyra seems to be getting a bit of herself here. Get Gen out of conversion therapy, then win the war for her heart.
Por que no los dos?
The accent being perfect is a side-effect of the psychic thing, right? The dramatic irony.
I think I said this in an earlier response, but I live for dramatic irony.
Ooh, some Ho-oh lore and an interesting twist on the phoenix stuff and burning of the tower.
I do love me some mythology.
Had to read this a few times to follow it, though I get why Cuicatl's thoughts are so oblique here. This is hard for her.

She will only go back once he cannot [punish her any longer.] He created her and has a right [to punish her], but she doesn't want to allow him to take advantage of that right anymore. That's how I'm parsing it.
That is correct.
Lyra's sort of agreement there surprised me a bit.
Hmm. Yeah. I think I'll change that whenever I get back to Arc 3.
The flashback felt weirdly placed here.
As said above, this was a mistake.
Can't remember if Cuicatl and Kekoa had this moment before, but it's a really lovely one and brings home their closeness.
They did.
Rip. Cuicatl's selfconsciousness about her draconic pronunciation is so real as a language learner.
Made worse because she physically can't talk like a dragon. She's too smol and her vocal chords aren't right.
Names! Great to see Lyra immediately switching to something that's as close to Musei's original name as she can.
Lyra is good person. Sometimes.
Not sure Pix is annoyed by Musei here as much as the fact that Musei can visit home and she can't, Cuicatl.
Shh.
Again, here for Lyra trying to make things better when they're pointed out to her as opposed to just shrugging.
It's almost like people can be fundamentally decent to each other. You wouldn't know it from this cast, but I've heard tales about it before.
On the one hand, this is funny. On the other, Cuicatl is already making conspiracies with Lyra's pokemon and I do not think this will end well when the truth comes out.
Don't worry. Everything will be fine.
There's something really kind of heartwarming/heartbreaking about that, being able to have a sense of self rooted in your family (and then what happens when that family is taken away.)
Good parents? In a Persephone fic? It's more likely than you'd think.
That's because Swanna is mighty and too good for this world.
Obviously.
why are you and kint throwing these sad horses at me
I actually wasn't really thinking of Amara when I wrote this lol.
Chuckled at this one.
[REDACTED]
Well, good on Kekoa for recognizing his selfish motivations at least.
Progress!
Couldn't Hekeli have asked Cuicatl this on her own? Or has she literally not been taken out of her pokeball since this began?
Not very much, no. And no one has explained it to her.
Establishing the important things. Kind of want the chapter where dream team Pixie and Mahina fly to the moon and save the day.
The soundtrack
I like Mahina not being into Kekoa's 'cool' name. Lightning means something different to her than it does to Kekoa and if it's going to be her name, her meaning is more important.
Mahina is no edgelord.
Uhhh hold that thought Kekoa.
oh don't worry it'll be fine
That's what friends are for. Finding the Kekoa/Cuicatl bromance more pronounced on this read-through.
It has been, like, four months in universe.
This is such classic Kekoa. He's always looking for something to get mad about even if it's really a sentiment he should agree with.
He just likes being mad.
Kekoa. Try not being five years old for a moment, please.
He don't wanna.
I don't remember the hypothermia thing and I just reread?
Yeah this was only in the AO3 version fsr. Fixed.
This is also very Kekoa. He believes plenty of stuff that could be considered out there, but when it comes from a source he dislikes, it's a conspiracy theory.
If you told him the capitalists were using beheeyem to keep the working class down with equal amounts of evidence he would beleive it.
This is the second time Cuicatl's said that phrase.
Will fix.
Yup. It can be true that Lyra both does not need to worry about money and that she is better at fiscal responsibility than Cuicatl, but that doesn't make it feel right.
Cuicatl's father handled the expenses. Perhaps giving her money and the power to spend it would be a bit too much autonomy for his tastes.
This reads like Cuicatl and Kekoa are still sharing a tent. I'm guessing the whole Kekoa sleeps in his own tent; Lyra and Cuicatl share thing was a change that was harder to catch everywhere.
One night only for the sake of their second child.
3.12 Who's That Pokemon? It's . . . White Florges!

I love your pokemon spotlight chapters. White Florges pops up and just starts dumping truthbombs on Lyra and Kekoa. It's good content. I understand Lyra not being in a position for it to sink in--this is everything she most fears and she's petrified. But Kekoa really should be taking notes. Yet in classic Kekoa fashion his focus is more on whether the florges, as an abstract embodiment of revolutionary spirit, approves of him, and not the points Florges is actually making.
I thought he might be a bit too dense here tbh. Not sure how it landed.
Lyra runs off during the encounter--I get that Kekoa doesn't care, but it was a bit weird that the rest of the chapter went by, including a scene with Cuicatl, without Lyra being addressed at all.
Will add one in when I get to it.
I was a bit confused here, maybe because I'm hopping between the new chapters. Is the 'friend' Kekoa? Or someone Lyra paid?
Kekoa.
Lyra's fun because she's got the insider knowledge without the illusions.
She knows it's bad. Isn't entirely committed to changing it, though.
Kekoa is getting told this chapter.
3.12: Kekoa gets dunked on nonstop for 5k words. Also he beats up a geriatric bird.
And now Lyra is getting told.
Originally Cuicatl was going to get some callouts but I ended up cutting them. This florges is an equal opportunity critic.
"with such" is confusing here.
Tried making her read like a jurist someone old and opaque.
white florges is wise

white florges also read eoe
white florges has seen some shit
This is exactly the kind of thing I was thinking of last chapter when Kekoa called Lyra's fears about psychics tabloid nonsense. Meanwhile he's over here thinking covid the moon being eaten is a real estate scam.
Okay but only the other team does underhanded stuff.
When you need to say "we're not the same" Kekoa . . .
I'm kidnapping in the name of communism, you're kidnapping in the name of capitalism, we are not the same.
Welp. That's not really true though, is it. If he took away the memories from her mom, that could be considered taking away something that contributes to Cuicatl's pain, but would she accept that given the choice? I think she's not really thinking through what it means to lose memories. Even something like her brother's death--would she want to forget that? It would be a kind of false absolution in her mind, wouldn't it?
It's also not really a credible threat. It would take an actual god to alter her memories on such a scale without her consent.
I see a bit of a parallel between Pix and Gen here. Pix is choosing a parent who is likely bad decisions over being with Cuicatl; that's uncomfortably close to Lyra's situation with Gen. Lyra seems pretty confident so far that if she could get Gen out Gen would come, but would she be able to accept it if Gen wouldn't? She'd probably keep trying, even though it had bad consequences for Gen, and that's what Cuicatl's doing.
It's interesting, isn't it, that Genesis was free for a long time. She didn't exactly run towards Lyra.
3.18 Inefficient Software

Noci POV best POV let's gooo. I can definitely see the effects of Noci's upgrade in this chapter. His POV voice is a lot more sophisticated in analyzing Cuicatl's irrational human impulses and finding ways to counter them in order to advance the mission. Realizing that if he mimicked Cuicatl's suicidal impulse for having inefficient software, she'd get horrified and back off was scarily smart and begins to bring home how terrifying metagross must be, if metang can work out that kind of complexity. Noci pushing Cuicatl to seek therapy (all for the sake of the corollary mission, of course) is a wonderful combo of wholesome and not, which is really Noci all over. This chapter it finally hit me that Noci's heating malfunction is one of the reasons he's so warm and huggable. It's interesting how both Noci and Pix are baffled by Cuicatl holding herself responsible for her brother's death and in their different ways are trying to get her to move beyond it.
Metagross canonically have the intelligence of a supercomputer. I'm going with that. Supposedly metang can also get hit by an airplane and get off without a scratch, so if they also have that kind of durability and similar power... Pseudo legends are terrifying forces of nature in this setting. Metagross is the scariest among them.
I am dying at a metang and metagross having an awkward conversation about observing humans pee. Maximum observed lapse in 100 unit communications indeed, lol.
Some things can baffle even a metagross.

A very interesting theory. I see Reshiram and Alice in terms of raw power, but why N as a threat?
He commands Reshiram.
Such an efficient origin story.
If you can't summarize your cultural heritage in five lines or less you're doing it wrong.
Humans are odd.
And very inefficient.
It is a bad software error.
Whoever programmed humans was bad at their job.
Wow, that was some pretty sophisticated thinking from Noci. That upgrade is showing.
In the dex metang are not smarter than beldum. I thought that didn't make any sense.
3.19 Wait . . .

Really enjoyed the changes to this one. The florges conversation combined with the Plumeria + Kanoa one finally makes Kekoa take a harder look at his cause. I like where this chapter leaves him towards the close of the arc a lot more now, and I'm excited to see where he goes from here. Of course, he's not entirely rejecting his old ideas. And he's still not willing to question working for V-Star too much. The scene with the inkay felt important. Kekoa realizes that yeah, he should probably ask the pokemon he's caught before selling them off. But asking means the answer could be no. And if the answer keeps being no, then there goes his income. Doing the right thing here has real costs, and Kekoa doesn't think he's in a position to pay them.
It's almost like the system is structured in such a way that not cooperating is actively punished.
Think something got scrambled here?
In the first version Guzma went to the graveyard, in later versions Plumeria did. Seems I didn't entirely change the language.
A call-back to the florges would be nice here. Kekoa thinks about her in the ending segment, so it would be good to see that.
I actually wrote this scene waaaaaaay early in development. I think this was originally going to be in 3.8, which was going to be a Kekoa focused chapter. Kinda forgot to reference florges in the edits.
Ohh boy. That's an interesting bit of lore. I see how Lugia and Kyogre could both stand for the sea, and Ho-oh and Groudon for fire. Maybe the differences would be justified as an earth/sky aspect. Very inconvenient when other people's gods decide to fuck shit up.
Singular fire / water dichotomy. In Sinnoh the gods were named Heatran and Manaphy according to the government's religious dogma.
I like the bit of complexity that Rocket mob boss dad is getting. Explains how he fell in with Gen's family.
The one shitty parent not to appear gets actual development.
This strikes a nice balance between Kekoa finding some things in common with Lyra and the big gap still between them.
I doubt Kekoa and Lyra ever really like each other. Maybe they'll come close. Maybe.
I think this was supposed to mean Selene.
Just started cackling at that wait. Ladies and gentlemen, is this a revelation?
Are we the baddies?
I feel like kidnapper would be the more apt word for taking sentient beings away from their homes.
Agreed.
The additional scene works well to close off the chapter! We get a larger sense of how Alola is reacting, and some more aftermath of Hala's decision, in terms of him getting excluded from the moment. Reading this reminded me how much I enjoyed this chapter. Hala's such a stubborn old man, and you really do feel where he's coming from.
I like the version of him I wrote. He's tired. Everyone in this fic is tired.

Could it be that I, the author behind all of them, am tired?
Nice touch with barely fifty being young.
Look, Hala isn't old. Ninety is old.
I read a bunch of this a while ago but never wrote a review. I am resuming reading from around chapter 1.6 to refresh my memory. This post is a bit shallow, I think, but I wanted to focus on just getting something out since I failed at that last time.
Hey, better late than never.
My biggest complaint is that a concerning number of chapters appear to center characters other than Pixie. As the strongest, prettiest, and smartest character, Pixie should be the center of attention at all times. Please remedy this as soon as possible.
There was an old version of this fic that was predominately narrated by Pixie.
Aside from that glaring issue, I remember wanting to comment on Genesis' fuck up in chapter 1.7 as an example of where the narration felt, at points, very on-the-nose. In particular,
Hmm. Yeah, I can see this.
She can recognize, even in the heat of the moment, that she's defending Lusamine because she identifies with her and that what she said was racist and indefensible, but she still managed to be immature enough to say it. It didn't totally track to me. Felt like you were giving up the game a bit—laying out her character flaws in a way that felt like an authorial statement of intent. There were a few other places in the narration where I felt similarly, but I cannot remember where they were.*[note about this in the next paragraph] I think I am generally more tolerant of Pixie's cognitive dissonance because she comes across as younger and demonstrates little self-awareness.
Trust me most people in this story aren't actually that self aware. That was an anomaly.
This is another example; the memey language is also a bit jarring)
Agreed. Sometimes I think I'm writing Gen too young. Trying to go for sheltered, not seven.
Speaking of Pixie, I really like her perspective. Partly because of pro-vulpix bias, I'm sure, but also the way her insecurity shines through (need for constant affection, refusal to admit defeat, staying quiet even when she's melting because she's supposed to stay quiet in the harness, etc.). Really makes me want to give her a big hug and tell her that she really is the most amazing ice fox to have ever lived and that she's so cute and lovable etc etc. I think Cuicatl handles her pretty well, in the sense that she reassures her but doesn't actually go as far as to feed into her delusions.
Most narcissists have a deep well of insecurity under the bravado.
Okay actually never mind disregard that last sentence I said. I did guiltily enjoy Cuicatl indulging Pixie in this chapter, though.
I'm just glad I can't argue with my cat.
No you have a right to be mad ;_;
No. Must self-pity.
When will the cycle of violence end. Gonna be hard to repair their relationship after this scene.
If Cuicatl wasn't Cuicatl, yeah.
You know I'm not sure that's really any better
Shhh.
Oh okay they kind of resolved this easier than I expected
For now.
I thought Sir Bubble had used Bubble, though
An error borne of multiple revisions.
At first I thought this was saying Pixie had a paras on her head, but either way I think it's a funny scene.
I should clarify lol.
The contrast between this taming experience and Cuicatl's is great. Good for you, grubbin.
Not being able to talk to pokemon makes capture very different.
My thoughts on Kekoa overall are that he's an asshole, of course, and while he has sympathetic struggles and backstory, they clearly are not meant to excuse him. I believe that he can be redeemed, though. He is, at least sometimes, capable of recognizing that his behavior is cruel.
Hmm. Yeah, I think that's about how I fall on Arc 1 Kekoa.
Relationship development hype. I'm glad she was able to relate to him well enough to relieve some of the tension. And revealing her powers was a brave thing to do, I thought.
Yeah. Could've gone badly.
Man I would hate it if I had to worry about saving the souls of like pretty much everyone I get close to
I have some sympathy for evangelicals. Not much, but some. Of course you'd be pushy if you thought everyone who didn't accept your beliefs was doomed to agony. You'd have to be cruel not to be.
Chapter 1.12 is really hammering home how little Genesis has thought about, like, actually completing the challenges and also how little she knows about pokemon. (Do lycanroc eat rocks? Can I get one with a Class II license? Do leafeon eat plants?). RIP eevee, though. I was kind of surprised she didn't try to save it out of stubbornness if nothing else.
And deny an ariados her food?
Irritating that she goes out of her way to use the wrong pronoun *and* the wrong name.
Genesis is lovely. Just lovely.
You know, something tells me that might not work out so well. I wonder if the leafeon's natural reluctance to train will force her to put some effort in.
It'll be fiiiiiine.
I like this description of the aftermath of the battle; gives some strong images and lets the reader fill in the gaps. Efficient. Maybe the second sentence would read better as "Red light bathes the field as Cuicatl withdraws Pixie"—changing it to active voice.
Agreed. Will change.
I'm surprised at how well the adoption idea worked out, though—at this point I kind of wonder if it isn't a waste of time to catch things the old fashioned way.
Because money and availability. Shelters don't always have what you want, and the adopted 'mons might have some issues.
This bit made me go back and check Genesis' age. This struck me as especially childish/socially obtuse, even for her. I'm not really suggesting you change it right now, I just wanted to mention that it stood out to me. BT gang DND session when
Cuicatl plays bard. Genesis Paladin. Kekoa goes barbarian and is just there to troll. Will change things re: childishness. She's fifteen. Very sheltered, but still fifteen.
Okay, kinda suspected that's why the others didn't consider adopting. Money sure can solve a lot of problems.
Whoever said money can't buy happiness has never been poor.
Again, this reinforces how much it would suck to believe in the shit she believes in. I feel bad for her in a way, but it's also kind of her fault.
Yeah. About where I come out on her.
I actually relate to Genesis insofar as she just doesn't socialize or adult well. I guess she's had a comparatively sheltered life. I wouldn't be surprised if her sexist religious beliefs played into her upbringing not preparing her for much responsibility or adventure. Wish I remembered more of the earlier chapters, because there might have been more on this.
Her parents are also rich fwiw. And her religious beliefs and home dynamics sort of define some of her later arcs.
Was this degree of violence really necessary to capture her? Anyway, her backstory is pretty heartbreaking, and I think you get that across successfully with broad strokes.
It was not necessary, no.
Throughout the fight scene I never had a clear idea of what this really looks like. It's given the epithet of fluffman, but the initial description here doesn't imply that there is any fluff. Or leaves, which are also mentioned later. Toward the end, I realized it's probably a shiftry. Maybe there's a better way to summarize its appearance. Brown biped with white fluff and leaf-fans for hands? (Pix would say "paws", of course.)
Totem Oranguru. I'll need to make this much clearer.
It's hitting me that Pix thinks this is a life or death matter—it surprises me a little that Cuicatl never made it clear to her that her life isn't in danger during these trials. Pretty big communication gap. And is there a particular reason Pix doesn't assume that this is like one of the other non-mortal battles Cuicatl has already had her fight?
You're right. I'll change some things here, too.
There is a part of me that empathizes with Pix's cruel pleasure. It taps into the selfishness I had as a child, I think. But even as an adult, it's not too hard to see the appeal of being the center of the universe.
It's a lovely fantasy. Alas, it's just a fantasy. Nothing more.
I appreciate how you've shown pretty much as little of this scene as possible while still getting all the characterization/implications across. I think there are a lot of examples of good efficiency in the story.
You haven't seen true efficiency yet.
This paragraph hammers home Pixie's selfishness. She isn't worrying about how badly Cuicatl is hurt, just whether it would be pragmatic to take revenge now. My prediction is that she will slowly start to feel guilty as she sees the negative effect banishing Ce had on Cuicatl, but I am not sure if that alone will spark much change.
That would make sense. It's not quite the approach I took but I think I'll mix some of that in during the edits.
I would like to comment on Pix's relationship with her siblings because so little is said about it. How does she feel when sixthborn dies? Is she sad? Does she think they deserved it for being weak? Was she too young for it to register? It doesn't particularly seem like the siblings saw each other as competition until around the "accidents happen" scene. I interpreted this sentence: as implying that the siblings used to play with/dare one another around the edge and so must have been somewhat friendly with one another. But we never see that; the focus remains pretty much entirely on Pix and her mother, so I'm left wondering. I think there could be important implications for her character that I'm not getting.
I'm an author and I'm too lazy to flesh out more backstory characters. They did play. I'll consider adding more detail there.
Prose-wise, there are many places where commas are omitted. Is that deliberate? I think the last sentence I quoted is a good example of why you might not want to do it; when I read "The day before you and your siblings would have walked..." with no comma after "before", it leads me to expect that the subject of the sentence is "The day before" (as in the sentence "The day before yesterday was cold"), and I pretty much have to read the entire sentence before I realize that's not the intent. Prose like that can be tiring because I have to constantly correct my expectations.
I go through comma overdose periods, and then I have a backlash to that where I just stop using commas for a while. I should really learn the comma rules but that sounds like work.
Overall, I have been enjoying this story. It feels very introspective and character-driven to me, and I am interested to see how these "broken" people develop. Especially Pixie. I found the summaries on chapters with content warnings to be useful for refreshing my memory on stuff I had forgotten. Hopefully I can make it to the recap section soon; then I won't have to worry about forgetting stuff so much. It'll be like a checkpoint in a videogame.
Everything left in the arc isn't terribly reliant on the stuff that came before.
Hi Perse! Finally getting started on this, and excited as hell to read an Alola story. I also didn't realize this was Pixie's stories, so double excite! Starting with chapters 1 and 2 today.
Tbh you can skip everything that isn't about Pix. You won't miss much. Just some boring humans doing boring human things.
Right off the bat, there's a lot of interesting things being mentioned. I really like the worldbuilding that starts to kick off in chapter 1--we've got VStar, a company that helps trainers go on journeys. There's a sense of realism in it, down to the presentation about payment plans, apps, and of course mortality rates--love the idea that the concept of going on a journey is deadass roughing it with the chance that you might end up dead to a predator 'mon in the wild. I get the vibe that this is meant to be "Real World with Pokemon In It" and not the other way around. Also, Rachael is an interesting character! The concept of people being psychic (kind of like the Trainer Class in the games, I suppose?) being able to telepathically communicate with Pokemon and having certain, like, abilities? Very interesting all around. I love how she paints herself as pretty cold and calculating, like any businesswoman would, but she clearly has a soft spot--as seen from the way she looks into blackmailing the abused trainer's family, or how she seeks to bring Cuicatl down from her bout of panic.
I'm way too lazy to make an entirely original pokemon world. "IRL with a change" suits me just fine.
Chapter 2 was also very nice. We get to get into Pixie's shoes, something I was very excited to do, and I found myself with a lot of questions! WHy's she hurt? What happened to her? I felt sympathetic for her, even in the face of her acting like a brat, because she's clearly Going Through It(TM). The chapter wraps up in a neat bow of Cuicatl and Pixie coming together. Pixie's very not with it, until Cuicatl gets to talking with her, and bless Cuicatl for being so damn patience. I'm sensing there might be some obstacles in store for them, but this generally feels like it'll be an okay match, despite Pixie not entirely feeling so at the moment.
There's a canon event in USUM this references. Skull beat her up.
I do question the choice to write all of this in second person. I don't think it's a bad thing at all, but I wonder what the appeal of telling this story through second person is compared to telling it in first or third, considering we moved from Rachel's head to Pixie's over the span of two chapters. Of course, I am only two chapters in, and maybe that will all start to make more sense as I read on. Additionally, I also wonder how big Rachael's role in the story is. She works for VStar, she's the one responsible for bringing Pixie and Cuicatl together, but are we going to see her more in the future? She began the story, so I wonder if she was just the segue into this tale, or if she's going to be reoccurring.
Second person really works for xeno POV and portraying mental health crises. I wouldn't recommend it outside those situations tho.
COULD BE WORSE. That's fucking cold Rachael!
She's seen some shit, okay?
Telepathically speaking to Pokemon?? Is this with ALL Pokemon, or just psychics? Curious!
For her? Just psychics. For Cuicatl? All but dark-types.
YES QUEEN, this is how you dodge invasive questions!
As someone with no social skills it's hard to write someone defined by theirs.
👀👀👀👀👀 PSYCHIC NPC????
There are a few psychics in this work. Three separate psychic narrators in Arc 1, actually.
I just have to say, the name "Chris Foster" fits so ridiculously perfect with how this character is presented. Like a stuck-up jackass who thinks his shit doesn't stink and acts like a tool behind closed doors. Great pick. Also, THIRD biggest pain in the ass??? Who's first and second???
Hala and Plumeria.
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOF, that's...spooky to know that psychics can risk it all like that. But it makes sense.
i wanted to add limitations to keep telepathy from being absolutely game breaking, like it is in the X-Men comics.
Awwwwww so Rachael DOES have a heart!
Don't get too far ahead of yourself.
And I OOP. Main character alert?????
What tipped you off?
Oh HONEY, let me fucking tell you.
I can also relate to this far too well.
This paragraph made me giggle quite a bit.
An actual conversation I've had with myself.
👀👀👀👀👀👀👀👀👀👀👀👀👀👀👀👀👀👀👀👀 Did you say....SKULL???????????????
They're in the story. Mostly in the background. Maybe they'll be important later. Who knows?
MOOOOOOOOODDDDDDSSSSSSSSS, I'D LIKE TO REPORT PLAGIARISMMMMMMMMMM /j
Thankfully this one is grey.
That's...extremely fucking horrifying to think about, wow.
Imagine if bears could shoot lasers that could level a building and also had a hair-trigger temper and could fly.
Like who was, Pixie???? Who hurt you :(((((
Team Skull.
Man, I feel bad being somewhat annoyed with her for these antics, but also, she has CLEARLY been through some shit, so I almost have a hard time being that upset? Pixie, please, open yourself to real love.
Yeah sorry no one in this fic is good at accepting love. Maybe they'll learn.
 

Negrek

Windswept Questant
Staff
Back at last! Always up in the air how much I'll get through, but for now at least I can clear out the last of "Electric."

Seems like I kind of left off in an awkward place last time; ended on a big "Kekoa NO" moment, while these chapters are much quieter and focused on the group as individuals rather than the team dynamics. Would kind of be an odd arc structure, but the ending here isn't really one you want to build up to; it makes sense to have some quieter chapters to make the emergency at the very end all the more sudden and jarring. Makes more sense to talk about the chapters individually than it usually does.

Cuicatl's chapter is heartbreaking, of course; feels like the darkest we've had from her recently. Big "oh no" moment when I realized the flashback we were seeing was to when she found out her dad had sold her mom's pokémon--really the inciting scene for her entire journey in Alola. So awful to see how her dad treated her and how much she's internalized his disgust towards her. Makes me wonder a little about Achcauhtli and how he responded to his environment. Cuicatl obviously adored him, but he was obviously steeped in a pretty toxic environment, and I wonder how much he managed to escape those influences. (Of course, the whole "don't tell anybody about my serious illness" thing might have to do with him being expected to be a super-awesome warrior.)

I also have to admit that I wonder how you sell a hydreigon. Doesn't seem like something Alice would have gone along with, but how do you make a hydreigon go somewhere it doesn't want to go? Would be a very expensive mistake to spend so much money on a dragon that refused to do what you asked, with the very reason it was so expensive was the power that in turn makes it difficult to control... I also thought it was interesting that Cuicatl only really seems to care about getting half of her mother's team back. She obviously doesn't have as much of an emotional connection to the others, but I guess there isn't the sense that they'd want to stick together or that they're necessarily going to end up in a worse situation if they're sold.

It was fun to see Gen and Cuicatl bonding a bit in Gen's chapter--and oof, tyrunt training is, unsurprisingly, rough. The family dynamic suggested by Gen's meeting with her brother is interesting; I wonder whether her father/brother are generally more supportive of her than her mom, or if only her mom really knows about her relationship with Lyra and the others would be as quick to turn on her if they found out the full extent of the situation. And of course, Gen's decision to slowly parcel out her money to try and avoid awkward questions is very sigh-inducing but understandable. On the whole this was probably the chapter of this bunch that interested me the least, though I imagine it's setting up for a lot of fun stuff down the line.

Very curious why a presumably-metagross is interested in having Cuicatl watched. Part of the group of psychics in general wanting to keep an eye on her, since she's untrained and not in a great mental place? It's hard for me to imagine a metagross caring too much about a primarily-human(?) organization and its concerns, so perhaps it's interested in Cuicatl's translation abilities? Or even helping Renfield find her somehow? Very curious. Nocitlālin's a delight, though--Cuicatl's definitely getting all the best pokémon, heh. I'd love to see a bit more of some of the other kids' pokémon, to be honest, especially Kekoa since they're so important to his arc, buuuuut I definitely recognize the Hella Hella Characters problem that would lead to, heh.

Kekoa's trial is fun; I enjoy the way Kekoa analyzes the battle, the thought put into strategy on each side, and Kekoa's anger at how close the outcome was, especially when Cuicatl found the trial easy. Kekoa definitely has the strongest feel for battle strategy, the most knowledge, and a very smart, analytic approach to battling, but he definitely can't connect to his pokémon the way Cuicatl can. Seems like he's probably going to have to change his approach if he wants to take the throne, meticulously-planned championship team or no. Also, I believe he's the only member of the group to have a Z-bracelet at this point, right? Kinda terrifying, tbh. Gonna be fun to see what he does with that.

Of course, the real highlight of the chapter is what happens right at the end! Loved the way Necrozma's arrival was described, with the sky's cracks dripping light and the way all illumination on the ground gets sucked away. Definitely looking forward to Ultra Beast shenanigans next arc--and more god-catastrophe baggage for Kekoa. :)

Some random notes:

You have to you’re just like him.
You have to... pretend? Not sure what the missing word here is.

“Did you poison her?”
Should be "him," I think.

It’s a basic t-shirt with an orange base and a hydreigon drawn on the front with the word “DANGEROUS” in all caps beneath it.
This is the best thing, omg. And very much feels like the kind of thing you'd find at a thrift shop!

She could have been your weird friend.
Wince. Oh, genesis.

Eventually the waiter asks if you want desert and you say no.
*dessert

Even though you’re on a remote beach northwest of Malie, for once its not raining
*it's.

Maybe you’re parents are atheists and you disagreed on that but you’re named Genesis…
*your, and I haven't really talked about commas at all, since leaving them out seems to be your style, but usually you'd put one before the "but" here!

Ramming Unnecessary.

Initiate Ramming?

[X] Initiate Ramming
GOOD. Cuicatl gets plenty of trouble from her other pokémon already, but I look forward to seeing how a ram-happy beldum will make her life even more interesting.

Then two spectacularly dumb, spectacularly evil fuckers in Hoenn decided to wake some gods up and kick all the frozen methane off the ocean floor.
Yikes. Yeah, that's one consequence I wouldn't have thought of for the Groudon/Kyogre event, but it makes sense. Way to make that catastrophe even more horrifying!

Before her trial You owe her a call when this is over.
Looks like we've got a partially complete sentence here? Maybe just missing a period after "trial?"

I’ve seen a lot of trumbeak and crabrawler over the years and neither looked hurt beyond repair.
Woof, that's a cold way to put it.

And there you have it! Will I be able to make it through "Flying" before the end of Blitz? My hunch is... probably not, but I'll definitely be back a couple more times at least! This is a part of the story I've been looking forward to for a long time.
 

kintsugi

golden scars | pfp by sun
Location
the warmth of summer in the songs you write
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. silvally-grass
  2. lapras
  3. golurk
  4. booper-kintsugi
  5. meloetta-kint-muse
  6. meloetta-kint-dancer
  7. murkrow
  8. yveltal
It's been 3000 years and apparently I haven't actually reviewed in literally forever. Which was also big brain since I predicted the rewrites, incredible. Smaller chunks since I know if I try to review too much at once the anxiety of trying to make a perfect review will mean I won't see you for another year lol.

3.5 Ancestor Stories
I have a really odd sense of deja vu when I'm typing literally every sentence of reviewing for this chapter, in the sense that I've already typed a review for this chapter, but as far as I can tell, I haven't. Also the chapter is literally pasted twice into the post and there's no discernible difference between the two as far as I can tell, but it was a lot of deja vu.

Pixie falls out of the narration for this one, imo. It's hard because she doesn't really get agency in this sense, but the main source of conflict continues to be Kekoa/Cuicatl, and the fact that most of the chapter is their dialogue happening while Pixie watches doesn't really help with that. And honestly, deep empathy with you on this front; it's really hard to try to set up pokemon narrators in the long-term in trainerfic because the setting more or less strips them from having any sort of decision-making or plot impact in any chapters that aren't battle chapters, which, oof, is an issue all to itself.

I think this could've used with one or two fewer myths, and more focus. I cheat a little because I like all my stories to rhyme, so to speak, but I find that myth as a storytelling device works best when a character is choosing to tell the story for an obvious reason--you get to poke at the character problem in the nearterm; you get to do some worldbuilding; you get to have a feelgood meta message about why we tell stories or whatever. But in general I think meta-stories/telling stories inside of stories works better in a more focused form; there's a specific myth that Pixie chooses to tell her because she thinks it'll help Cuicatl or something. (And maybe she's totally wrong and Cuicatl doesn't get that the moral is that if you're a ninetales you're pretty and smart and instead Cuicatl figures out something lame and stupid like forgiveness or that being an adult means life is real shit sometimes, but it is what it is). As it is it feels a bit more like a reaction video--the myth itself is short and spliced in with quick commentary on it, but it doesn't really feel like there's deeper meaning/importance.
“She trapped you there and you serve her.” Skysong says it’s so quietly that a human might not be able to hear it. But you can because your hearing is much better.
I think this myth was the closest to landing for me--the ones about how beautiful ninetales are are funny, of course, but this one is closest to relevant for the actual characters. Paradoxically I wouldn't actually use this one either since the goal of this chapter seems more to get Cuicatl from emotional Point A to Point B and I'm not sure if looking at the "she trapped you and you serve her" thing is going to help her with that, but it's a good example of a story being told within a story to have relevance to the characters choosing to tell/hear it.

You’ve already made progress. You scared the eevee so badly that its trainer ran away, too.
100% accurate summary yes

3.6 Birthright
I mean this chapter is about pokemon ethics so I can't not like it tbh.

But in general I like that we're finally picking at Kekoa a bit. I can't help but think of it in terms of respect--when he says that the native species of Alola are supposed to be respected, he actually means they're supposed to be had by, you know, the right kinds of people. But it's also a question with no real right answers; Kekoa's "but other people will just exploit them too" is true, even if it's not an excuse for him to do the same. And it's certainly a concept that rings uncomfortable true for a lot of real world situations. In particular I like the layered quandry here; if you're fighting for freedom with people who want to be free from you, what are you really standing for?
The finneon capture is necessary because you need money to take back your kingdom. Makani is necessary because you need power to take back your kingdom. And they’re your people’s pokémon. Your birthright. The ancient kings hunted. The island challenge has been going strong for centuries with many kings and kahunas using vikavolt. Besides…
And honestly it's a tricky answer, since no movement is going to be pure and frankly it's easy to preach when it's not your country burning down; it's easy to boycott working for V-Star until you're starving. Cuicatl's answer of "I'm a predator" also rings kind of hollow and I can see why Kekoa isn't really on board with it--she's not lying to herself about what she's doing, sure, but she's still doing it.

The darkness in this chapter also felt a lot more real, in part because Kekoa's probably the only character to give a shit in the main grou rn, but he's also the most logical one for these thoughts to go to. (Honestly I'm not sure if this chapter was edited for your rewrites so if I'm just complimenting you for changing things to how they were, oops, go me, crit culture is dead). But in general I like Kekoa's visceral response/anger here, and I'm surprised we haven't seen the Skull stuff escalate more than it already has--Alola under attack from colonizers is kind of an abstracted concept (and it's also fun in the sense that it's easy for Kekoa to project whatever he wants onto it), but Necrozma is kind of literally a space foreigner attacking Alola.

I really like the dynamic of Kekoa just thinking Cuicatl will lie to him. It's a take that's both mature and immature: he's mature enough to recognize that he's kind of made her life super shit and this would be a logical consequence of his actions, but he's also too immature to realize that Makani might just want to yeet and it's sort of on him to accept that. But also in general the concept of your pokemon just not wanting to be with you is a hard one to swallow; in a franchise that's steeped in the idea that pokemon are your friends it's kind of a shit thing to hear if your pokemon decides to dip, and I really do get why authors are afraid of writing that for their characters and inadvertently craft worlds with weird implications as a result. For Kekoa I can see why it'd be infuriating, especially alongside Cuicatl, who seems to attract apex predators by sheer luck while he's clawing for everything he can. It's hard to make the mature choice when it seems like no one else has to (or is choosing not to).

Your last bit of drowsiness starts to drain away. That wasn’t part of the plan. You’ve fed him, protected him, everything you were supposed to do. And why would he want to go to the wild when he’s the most vulnerable?
yeah god I texted her and told her she was cute and held the door open for her that one time and why would she want to go date that asshole chad??
But hekeli eats fruit, not bugs.
dropped a capitalization here
{Can we go outside so that I can talk to him? You can repeat the words to translate.}

“Kekoa, can we just… not?” Cuicatl sounds exhausted, even for someone who just woke up.
I like the tunnel vision he gets here--that if he can just talk enough, Makani will come around. The only reason he hasn't is because Kekoa hasn't figured out the right thing to say. The idea that Makani actually just wants to leave hasn't really crossed Kekoa's mind.
It would look like you were just fine with him sending you to foster care for years just because he was sorry enough to give you shit that was rightfully yours anyway.
this detail hit well in a chapter called birthright
“Can’t believe they’re having us work during The Blackout,” you mutter, more to fill the quiet than anything.

“What else were we doing?” Cuicatl asks. “Might as well make money.”
lol
She giggles. Giggles. “It is fun to listen to. And everything is so much easier to use now. I wouldn’t mind if this went on for a bit.”

“And froze out the fucking forests? And your precious dragons?”

“This is why dragons mastered fire, Kekoa. It makes winters much easier.”

“Not your country burning down.”
rip lol
Makani hadn’t been spitting in your face as much, you bought her a thunder stone (which blew through most of your savings right at the start of an indefinite crisis), and then out of nowhere she just turns on you again.
I GOT YOU A ROCK BABY
“But they’re our birthright. One of our strongest weapons against the occupiers, and they’re just stealing them. If I abandoned her, she’d probably fall into one of their hands.”
weapons lol yeah that's respect
“The volcarona refused to shine for a bit, because some kid had just tried to steal a larvesta.”
this is a sick detail
And if they wanted to train one, they’d have to find some kid with talent and a need to get a lot of money, fast. But uh. Cuicatl worships the sun, right? There’s no way that she’d just go and piss off a sun god or demigod or whatever volcarona are over there.
I'm actually unsure how this plays into some of the larger stuff--is there no way to force a powerful pokemon to obey you? Who purchased the hydreigon for a million dollars and hasn't been a high-profile trainer?
“Okay.” You’re pretty sure you got put on mute given the nothingness over the line. You’re vaguely upset. Kanoa jumped to the least important part. He’s safer with you and… and you need power. A lot of it.
the least important part is how makani feels, this checks out
“It happens. A lot. Pokémon, even the ones that agree to go with people, usually want to go back to their own lives eventually. For bugs, a few months can be a lot of time. A year can be far too much to ask of them.”
I do like the life cycle detail here
“And their pokémon hate them, too. They just don’t care enough to notice.”
I like how this isn't necessarily a known answer--but it's an easier one to accept
Cuicatl repeats the question. And gets no answer. Then a lot of very harsh whistles and chirps.

“Hmm. If you could kill him with no chance of harm to yourself, would you?”

“Cuicatl—” {Please don’t put that thought into his head.}

{How would you explain hatred to an insect?}
mood
“Okay. Do you wish that you’d never been captured?”

Another answer. A shorter one.
I like the closer here! Sometimes the best answers are just the implicit ones.
 

kintsugi

golden scars | pfp by sun
Location
the warmth of summer in the songs you write
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. silvally-grass
  2. lapras
  3. golurk
  4. booper-kintsugi
  5. meloetta-kint-muse
  6. meloetta-kint-dancer
  7. murkrow
  8. yveltal
3.7
It's been 3000 years so I can't pin down the exact differences, but I think this version works a lot better. Lyra seems a lot less prickly/antagonistic in this version, and we're able to see what makes her tick + how her fear of psychic manipulation basically permeates through her entire life. It feels a lot more grounded in a way that I think the previous version was lacking, and it sets up really well for the inevitable shitshow now that she thinks Cuicatl is her best hope at getting what she wants. The meticulous document keeping and the reassurance in having nightmares about Genesis hating her were particularly standout moments for me.

In general I like her throughlines of appearances/power; lines like "[Selene] just embraced facing the world as she is" and "they can hurt you and make you love them for it" are really metal lines in a story like this that's so deeply tied around secrets, trying to grow stronger, facing yourself, etc. I think in my first readthrough it was a lot harder for me to see what direction you meant to take Lyra; she's kind of angry and antagonistic but ends up shuttling along with everyone because it's good drama; here, the sense of character is a lot stronger and the sense of how she's able to challenge Kekoa/Cuicatl in specific ways takes a backseat (for now) in a way that I'm a lot more excited to see crash and burn. It's also fun to get into her head specifically, since she's so much more certain/determined in her fight with Cuicatl and so much more free/happy in her time with Gen--these are aspects that are still here, but it's a lot more couched in Lyra's head specifically, and I think it works well.

Also, characters who just want to explore the pokemon world are cool. I'm sure she's going to have plenty of time doing that since nothing is going to go wrong here.

I liked the convo with Lyra/Cuicatl at the end, which I think is new. It's helpful to get them talking about themselves before shit hits the fan, although in general I think it does on just a hair too long and the setting itself falls out for me--they get in line, they get really engaged in talking, oops all the food is gone. It's the sort of conversation that I think could happen anywhere and the plot takes a backseat, which imo is mostly fine, but some environmental details there might've helped ground things a bit.

I'm not super sold on the covid parallels, especially with the knowledge that they could just take the eagles to mordor take the navy ships anywhere else. If there's an existing refugee handling system in place, I'm surprised anyone would choose to say? Like even the covid deniers would probably have a better time being 100% sure covid is a hoax from the safety of a place where there's guaranteed, literally visibly, no apocalypse happening. The government being cruel and shitty tracks, but the fact that there's actually a way to guarantee everyone's safety and he's choosing to ignore it is borderline cartoonishly evil--it's easy for covid to get walked around because for the most part people are fine until oops they have covid; it's a lot harder to argue that the economy can and should go on in a complete lack of light. I think this is closer to an environmental disaster, where even the shittier politicians pose over the rubble and throw toilet paper into the crowd, but it's not like there were hoards of people chanting that they needed to reopen New Orleans after Katrina or something.

(I think an easy-ish solution here would be to actually lean into the environmental disaster angle--this is our home; we need to protect it; it's dying; we have a patriotic duty to the lands that birthed us and the corporations that were birthed in turn. There are hundred of brave heroes working around the clock to protect what we love about our home, the wild pokemon who need the sun, the plants that are freezing--and you, even you, person who sells pyukumuku-themed ice cream cones a tourist shack, are necessary to keep them healthy and fed so that we can get through this together. also we've redirected rations to the essential brave personnel, so everyday citizens, such as you, person who sells pyukumuku-themed ice cream cones at a tourist shack, will have to do without for a little while. Unsure. I expect the world to prove me wrong within a year but I find it difficult that people wouldn't just choose to fucking yeet if the Navy is offering them trips out (implying there's a safe refugee camp elsewhere) and the alternative is gearing up to starve to death)

But all in all I really enjoyed this one. It's the unique feeling of "oh good, Lyra has friends" and "oh no, Lyra's making friends" that I didn't really get in the first read. Good shit.

line edits, mostly typos:
Nisshoko the noibat lands on your shoulder and gives a reassuring squeal right into your ear.

“Hey, buddy. It’s fine. I really don’t need that.”
In general "X the Y" strikes me as a bit forced--although appreciated, since I remember not knowing what pokemon were going on here. I think something like "Nisshoko lands on your shoulder. A moment later the noibat gives a reassuring squeal into your ear" might work better, but personal preference there.
She started going nuts right before Necrozma arrived and has had a headache ever since.
oh noooo
The internet says the best options in the unnatural darkness are staryu and inkay.

Both are undesirable for the same reason.
I like the tension created here with psychics being good, but later an ampharos is used and seems really effective, and in general I'm not sure why psychics would have an edge on "unnatural" darkness that an electric/fire-type wouldn't.
You’ve heard that her parents kicked her out. If there’s one upside to the kiss – okay, the kiss itself was an upside – it’s that she’s finally away from her toxic parents.
haha! yes! an upside!
The first has been normal as of late: Genesis kicking you over a railing to fall to your death.
the grammar stack of "kicking you [...] to fall" doesn't quite work here. "Genesis kicks you over a railing and you fall to your death" I think works better?
But the old superstitions are hard to break. You still sometimes get weird looks from senior citizens.
This is a good line but since it's present tense told in a story about present tense, I thought this was literally happening--I think "you'd probably still get weird looks from senior citizens, if anyone could even see anyone" or something.
Gangs are predictable, self-branded freedom fighters are less so.
"gangs are predictable; self-branded freedom fighters are less so."
Wouldn’t be the first time a failing politician told a big, dangerous lie. You’ll need to snap up whatever food you can get as soon as it hits the shelves. You send out a few texts to the people you know in Hau’oli (especially the ones whose families probably do their own shopping)
oh nooo. I love how casual this is too
You can’t tell if that was a hastily corrected past tense or just a slip up in her second language. Probably a sensitive subject in either case.”
extra quote on the end here
 
Rock 4.5

Persephone

Infinite Screms
Pronouns
her/hers
Partners
  1. mawile
  2. vulpix-alola
Maybe check out the bulbapedia entry for Dividing Peak Tunnel.

Rock 4.5: Skitter
Wimpod

There’s an excellent hiding spot nestled into the hot, dry land. A smooth hole bored through the earth with dim lights and small cracks in the wall to hide in. There are exits on two sides, letting you run away whichever way you’re approached from. The two-legs walk through here sometimes, but they’re always loud enough you can hear them coming. Sometimes they’ll chase you around if they see you, but they’re slow and big so you can always avoid them easily enough.

You lazily flick your antennae through the air to taste it. There’s a bad taste there. Danger! You taste the air again to be sure and then pull your body down to hug the earth as you think of a plan.

The invisible ones have returned.

They’re quiet, invisible, and they must clean themselves before they hunt because they leave little taste in the air. You only discovered them now because of the strong winds in your hiding place. For a moment you wonder if you should just stay in your crack and wait it out, hoping they never find you. You’ve seen others try that. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes the invisible ones revealed themselves long enough to use their long, terrible tongues to pull their prey out of hiding and right into their mouth.

You can hear two-legs approaching in the other direction. Even if you cannot smell them in the air, you can definitely hear them. You saw invisible ones before when they were eating. They were bigger than you, bigger than the biggest of your kind you’ve ever seen, but the two-legs are even bigger. Even the invisible ones must have things that eat them. They might not go near things bigger than them. You take a moment to climb to the top of the tunnel so that your back is hanging down beneath your legs. Then you scurry down the top of the hiding place, away from the invisible ones.

When the light from the outside just starts to seep in you find the two-legs. There is a group of three of them. Beside one is a strange creature. It walks on two legs but the taste it leaves in the air is like an invisible one. It sort of looks like one, too. But bigger. Its jaws are much, much bigger. You could easily fit inside them with room to spare.

It raises its head and begins to taste the air. Then it looks straight at you and makes a low, rumbling sound. Danger. Danger ahead. Danger behind. Danger everywhere. Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide.

One of the two-legs points at you and says something in their strange way of communicating. No tastes in the air, all sound.

“Calm down, Coco. It’s just a wimpod.”

Something snaps into your mind. This two-legs told the creature you are not a danger. You and the things like you, there is a grouping for them, wimpod. The creature is a Coco. How did the two-legs do that? Is it a special trick, like the invisible one’s invisibility or the fire of the many hot creatures nearby? The wimpod do not have any tricks. You run and hide. If you cannot run or hide you die.

The Coco keeps looking at you but does nothing as you keep walking above the two-legs until you are behind them. The two-legs you cannot understand communicate for a while before all three of them start to move again, the Coco in tow. You follow. Maybe the Coco will scare away the invisible ones.

The two-legs who you can understand stops and turns around. It looks up. Not at you, but to something near you. A panicked glance reveals nothing. What is it looking at?! Danger?!

“Do you want something?” it asks.

If you understand it, maybe it understands you. “There are invisible ones. They are dangerous to me. Not to you. They will stay away from you.”

“Yeah, not sure why I thought I’d understand that,” it says. “Safety, maybe?”

{I understand you,} it says without saying anything. {But can’t say that aloud.}

How did it do that? Are these all tricks? Different tricks? The same trick? “Where is the danger you were looking at?”

{I meant to look at you. I can’t see.}

It cannot see. Why? Do they sense the world by sound and taste alone? No, then it still would have known where you were.

“You’re welcome to follow us for a while. But if you’re worried about something that can climb it might be better to just ride on my shoulder or something.”

You look down. The two-legs wants you to crawl onto it to be safe. There is a Coco between you and it. The Coco is very big and could eat you. It is a danger. The invisible ones are a danger. All options are dangerous. The two-legs presses down on the Coco. Holding it back? Attacking it? You know the invisible ones will try to eat you. The Coco might try to eat you. It is less dangerous to take shelter on the two-legs. You slowly scuttle down the side of the tunnel, keeping an eye on the Coco. It watches you but never attacks.

Your front legs reach the ground. The Coco does nothing, just keeps its eyes on you. They’re strange, unsettling eyes, like the ones on bigger land dwellers. Rounded with no lines dividing them. Just a ring of color with a dark hole in the center. What is in the hole? If you were small enough to climb into it, where would it take you?

You sprint the last bit as fast as you can so the Coco can’t catch you. It doesn’t move, just opens its mouth and reveals massive teeth almost as long as you are thick. Your armor wouldn’t save you.

It doesn’t need to. By the time the Coco’s mouth is fully open you’re already climbing up the two-leg’s surprisingly soft limbs to a point near the top. You look down and see the Coco’s mouth spread wide, teeth bared as it looks at you.

{She’s trying to show you how big her teeth are. She doesn’t want to bite you, just likes showing them to anyone she meets.}

Showing them that it is dangerous. That it should not be attacked. “Very smart.” You look down and see something strange. The two-legs is molting, with a red layer of armor peeling away from its body revealing the soft flesh you walked up. There are two mounds beneath you with a new layer of black armor growing out of them. Why is it walking around while molting? Isn’t it afraid? Or are the two-legs really not afraid of anything? Why would they need armor, then?

The molting makes for a good hiding place. You skitter down between the new and old armor and latch yourself onto the new. This means that the invisible ones will not be able to see you. Much safer this way. Then the other two-legs start making loud, booming sounds. Is there a threat? Are they trying to scare something away? Beneath you the two-leg’s body expands and contracts as a long stream of air is released above you.

“Never been groped by a bug before,” it says beneath and above you. “Just glad to know there’s enough to grab down there.”

“Yes. I am secure,” you tell it. “There is enough to grab.”

The two-legs doesn’t answer you. Instead, it responds to another of its kind. “Fine, never been groped by a crustacean before. Happy?” It looks back down to you. “Do you think you can grab onto the red thing instead?” the two-legs asks.

That is less safe. The invisible ones might see your legs. But the two-legs might not carry you unless you do. Reluctantly you flip yourself over and grab onto the shed armor. Then the two-legs begins to move. It does not seem to be any faster than you are despite the much longer legs. It actually seems to be slower. It is still far safer than traveling by yourself. You can hear the Coco beneath you. Why do two-legs travel with Cocos? Aren’t they afraid of being attacked by the other? Even your kind will turn on each other when there isn’t enough food. Other kinds are far more dangerous.

“Why do you let the Coco near you? What if it ate you?”

{She wouldn’t. I’m her mother.}

Mother. Progenitor. Egg-layer. The meanings spring up in your mind. You don’t know what laid your egg. Another one of your kind, another ‘wimpod,’ said that he saw one once. It was bigger than a two-legs and had armor so thick that nothing could pierce it. You thought he was wrong. You have no tricks. You run and hide. You will never live long enough to become that big.

“Why do two-legs look after their eggs? Why do the hatchlings look so different from the egg-layers?”

{I didn’t lay her egg. I just took care of her after she hatched.} Why? Why would it help something that could eat it? How does it live long enough to grow big if it does not understand danger? {Humans do things like that sometimes. Take in another type of creature. Feed them and help them grow stronger. Protect them. Like I’m doing now with you.}

That explains why it is carrying you. It still doesn’t make sense, though. Unless the point is to eat you. Maybe you’re wrong. Maybe you aren’t in danger – it could have just had the Coco snap you up earlier – but you don’t understand why.

“Why? What do you gain?”

{Humans are social. We like being around other creatures. And the pokémon I travel with, they want different things. Coco sees me as her mother. My other pokémon, Nocitlālin, she wants information on humans.} The two-legs, no, the human jerks and you cling tight to the armor to stay on. “Sorry, tripped,” it says. {And you want protection. I could give it to you if you wanted to stay with me.}

More steps bring you out of the tunnel. The temperature rises, the air’s taste changes, and more light bleeds through the shed armor. {Or I could let you go here. Whatever you want.}

The human claims it could protect you. And between it and the Coco it can protect you from all but the biggest of predators. Humans move. They are never in the tunnel for long and you rarely taste the same ones more than once. It would take you to new places with new dangers and you would be relying on it not turning on you whenever it gets hungry.

Or you could turn around and go back into your hiding place. Your hiding place that the invisible ones are still in. That means danger now. Staying with the human is danger later. If it is later you might be bigger and faster.

“Do you want to stay with me for a while?” the human asks aloud.

“Yes.” What other choice is there?

“Good,” it says. “Oh, and I’m Cuicatl, by the way.”

Time passes while you remain still. Stillness is familiar. Common. Why would you waste resources when there is no reason to act? Yet you are still being moved. Away from the familiar. Away from known dangers. Towards unknown ones. You think you made the right choice. Now you have some protection other than running or hiding. Specifically, you have someone else to run to and hide behind.

The two-legs approach others of their kind. Several others. They make their own strange noises you cannot understand. Your two-legs, the Cuicatl, makes noises you do. Asking the others to go ahead while it talks with you. You can feel it lower itself to the ground. The breathing of the Coco stills a moment later. “I put Coco away,” the two-legs says. “She’ll be back later. Just wanted to talk to you alone for a moment.”

“Okay.” You don’t leave the comfort of her shed armor. Why would you?

“Do you have a name?” it asks.

Name. The word hits your mind with strange information. Two-legs classify things like you do. Then they make even smaller classifications that only have one individual. There is no purpose to this. You address no one or everyone. Why learn ‘names’ when the individual might be dead before you meet again?

“No.”

The two-legs shifts around and you cling tighter to her armor. “I was thinking I would give you one so you’d know when I was talking to you.”

It might have a purpose. A strange one. Someone speaking to you and you alone, not to your entire kind. Something to set you apart. Almost like a trick. Like invisibility or talking to other kinds or breathing fire. You don’t know the words for what you want to say. How do you defer other than running away? How do you ask for something other than taking it? The two-legs live in swarms. The wimpod do not.

The two-leg’s paw presses against the other side of the shed armor. “You can come out,” it says. “Shouldn’t be anything dangerous around.”

If she is wrong you would be safer where you are. And it said that you can crawl out, which you could, not that it would attack you if you did not.

“Alright. Are you male or female?”

Egg-layer or fertilizer.

“I can fertilize eggs.”

“Hmm. First boy on the team. Congratulations.”

You have done a good job by being able to fertilize eggs. The other companions around her lay eggs. She will want you to fertilize them. This must be what she gains by protecting you.

“I think I want to name you Oquichtliyoh, or Leo for short. Means that you’re very brave.”

Brave. Not running away. This is wrong and stupid. Running away is safest.

“I always run away.”

“Yes, but, this is something to live up to. Run away from less. Explore more.”

“Not running away is dangerous.” You had thought the two-legs were clever. They are not. How are they still alive?

“Sometimes things won’t attack if they think there will be a fight. At least pretending that you won’t run away can be safe sometimes.” She shifts her weight and exhales. “Do you think you can leave my shirt?”

You slowly, reluctantly poke your antennae out. There are lots of tastes here. Two-legs and others. None seem to be close now. You crawl onto the outside of her shed armor and wait. “I won’t ask you to fight,” it says. “Not if you don’t want to. But sometimes when I find a bug about the same size as you are I might ask you to try and scare it off. Then you’ll get better at making things you can’t run from think they can’t eat you.”

No. Too much risk. “What if it attacks?”

“Then Coco or Noci—you’ll meet her later—will swoop in and save you.”

You do not want to agree. You do not want to risk her anger by saying no. Cleverly, you do not say anything to her.

“Just think about it. Oh, yeah, and if you want to travel with me you’re going to need a ball.”

A ball. A round object.

“Why?”

“Well, it lets me move you more safely.” Safety. Good. “I can let you try one if you want. If you don’t like it, I can try another.”

You are interested in what the two-legs do for safety. You hum to tell her you are willing. It reaches for the large object it carried on its back and opens it up. Inside are small crevasses for hiding in. You should have gone into that. It looks sturdier than her shed armor. It pulls out something smaller than you are. A ball. How will this help you?

“Alright, hold still.”

You still dart to the side when the thing flies at you. It would hurt. It would be dangerous. You can see the ball sprout open and send a web flying out. The edge hits you and pulls you in, like you’re falling backwards. Then—nothing.

Stillness.

Safety.

Motion. Color. Taste. Sound. There are plants beneath you. The Cuicatl is nearby. The Great Light is lower to the ground and all the smells are a little bit different. Time passed while you were still? How?

“What was that?”

“I put you in a ball. You won’t feel anything and you can’t be attacked. Did you like it?”

A perfect stillness. A perfectly safe stillness.

Perfect.

You rub your antennae together and chirp in happiness. “Can I go back in?”

“Later,” it says. “Wanted to feed you first.”

Shelter AND food? Why? What does it gain from you when you cannot protect it?

Not food. It would not give you food and then eat you. That makes no sense.

The Cuicatl moves something with its legs and a stream of colorful petals fall out. No, not petals. They are thin and colorful like a plant but they taste like meat in the air. When you nibble on one it also tastes like meat in your mouth. It tastes good. You eat the first few petals and then dart to the next, scooping them into your mouth with your mandibles and swallowing them down whole.

Meat was rare in your hiding place. When something died it would not be long before something bigger than you reached it. You and the other ‘wimpod’ would rush the meat and eat as much as you could. Then you would be driven away. It was easier to eat the white waste the fliers dropped. It did not taste as good. Did not give energy for as long. It was safer.

You cannot use energy from meat if you die eating it.

“Alright, I’m going to let Coco out to eat. You can stay on my shoulder if you want. Not under the shirt, please. Nothing will attack while Coco is here. Promise.”

You dart up the Cuicatl’s leg and settle near its head. The Coco is not nearly as tall as the Cuicatl. Height keeps you safe. The Coco suddenly appears from nowhere in a flash of red. One moment the taste is not in the air, the next it is.

“That’s what going out of a ball looks like,” the Cuicatl tells you.

Perfect. Predators cannot even taste you while you are in yours.

The Cuicatl lays out the Coco’s meal, which seems even tastier than yours. And a lot bigger. Almost as big as you. The Coco tears into it, occasionally growling at its food or even pouncing at a bigger piece before tearing it apart by clamping down on it with its teeth and shaking its head.

The Coco is horrifying. Nothing will attack while it is around.

When it finally finishes it goes bounding back to the Cuicatl. Its breaths are fast and regular and its mouth is slightly open. It growls something out and looks directly at you. Danger?

The Cuicatl exhales and moves its head from side to side. “No, Coco. You can’t play with him just yet. He’s skittish. Give him a while.”

It closes its mouth and continues to look at you.

“Right, I guess I need to take care of that. Um, Leo, do you mind if I bend down a little bit so I can touch Coco?”

There is nothing you could do to stop her. You would rather not be closer to the monster.

“Alright, this should be fast.” It bends down anyway. You move onto its back to stay farther away from the Coco. “This might feel weird for both of you. Just stay calm.”

A flicker of movement crosses over you. No, not over you. In you? Around you? Like a wind moving straight through your body. It pulses alongside your blood until it finally stills. Stills and tightens, the wind becoming sturdier until it feels like it’s physically rooting you in place.

And then it’s gone. The Cuicatl rises back to its full height and breathes deeply.

“Alright, you should be able to talk to each other now.”

“Hello!” the Coco growls. “I’m Coco. You’re Leo. We’re going to be friends. Do you want to play?”

The words. They make sense. Like the Cuicatl’s. A part of her trick?

This Coco, it wants to ‘play.’ Even the trick cannot tell you what play is.

“What is play?” you ask the Cuicatl.

“Oh. You might not have that. It’s like pretending to hunt or be hunted, but you won’t actually get hurt. Coco likes it.”

You do not want it to hunt you.

“No,” you tell it. “Do not eat me. I taste bad.”

The Coco thumps its tail onto the ground. “I wasn’t going to eat you. I don’t eat friends!”

You must be in the class ‘friend’ like you are in the class ‘wimpod.’ The Coco thinks you are inedible. Maybe it is safe to be around, after all. Until you shed and it eats your armor. Then it will know that you are edible. Probably edible. The invisible ones could eat you and the Coco tastes like them.

“Maybe he’ll want to play later, Coco.”

You will not.

“Oh! Could you get on my head! I could wear you like, a, what’s it called?”

“Hat?” the Cuicatl says.

It thumps its tail again. “Yes. You could be my hat.”

The head is very close to the teeth. It could bite you and then realize you are edible.

“No.”

A strange taste drifts through the air. Almost like rock. A very strange rock. Out of the corner of your eye you can see something large and grey flying through the air. Its armor does strange things to the light, causing it to shimmer against the creature’s surface and bounce off to other places.

“That’s Noci,” the Cuicatl says. “She also travels with me.”

{UD_Nocitlālin signals UD_Oquichtliyoh}

“Don’t worry,” the Cuicatl says in a soft breath. “She only eats rocks.”

Safe. Big enough to scare away predators. Not a predator itself.

It flies closer through the air and fixes its glowing red eyes upon you.

{Query: What are the directives of UD_Oquichtliyoh}

You have no idea what that means. Or how you would answer it.

“Don’t mind her, she’s just really curious.”

Exploration can result in both discovery and death. Curiosity is good and bad at once.

*​

The Cuicatl takes you, the Nocitlālin, and the Coco with her to her cave. There are other two-legs moving around inside. One has a strange flying sphere with long legs hanging down. It also looks at you but does not say anything. You huddle closer to the Cuicatl and it eventually drifts away.

The darkness comes abruptly and not little-by-little. Nothing attacks you. No new tastes approach. You still climb up to the cavern ceiling above the Cuicatl. That makes you safe from attacks from the ground.

{You can sleep in your ball if you want.}

The Coco is curled up against the Cuicatl, squirming around and occasionally pressing its paws into the two-leg’s stomach. The Nocitlālin is floating above the middle of the cavern. Why do they not want to sleep in their balls? Is that not a choice they have.

“That is safe,” you say.

Perfect stillness comes a moment later.
 
Last edited:

kyeugh

you gotta feel your lines
Staff
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. farfetchd-galar
  2. gfetchd-kyeugh
  3. onion-san
  4. farfetchd
1.4 period
i really really liked this one and am in no way biased as a trans.

i'll just get that part out of the way: i really loved the way you went about the gender aspect of this chapter. i'm not surprised by how good it is but i am impressed. i haven't read all that many trans characters, so my sample size here isn't huge, but most of the trans stuff i've read i haven't really enjoyed that much. i feel like there's a tendency to center transness as either deeply tragic or intensely empowering, and whatever the case there's often a strong Weird undercurrent to it. i think the trans experience and gender in general can of course be those things, but especially for someone like me, most of the time it isn't. it's just something weird that i mostly experience in the way it makes me feel (sometimes good, often bad) and the way it grabs my attention in the weirdest ways. i think you really nail that here. i especially liked the way that he'd be thinking about normal stuff and then suddenly he's just Reminded Of Gender by something like his reflection or the sound of his voice and he starts to spiral a little bit. kekoa is a guy that's going through it and has a body he doesn't like but he's vaguely hopeful for the future and he's doing what he can. even though he's a grouchy and pretty assertive, he just doesn't have the energy to fight these fights most of the time. overall it's, like, not this huge character-defining deal, it's just a thing he has to deal with and he has to deal with it privately. it's a whole layer to the world that for the most part only he is really aware of. it all just felt very true to life and to my experience, and i haven't read something like that before, so i really appreciated getting to and was a little enraptured by it.

moving on from that, i thought kekoa's voice was very strong—i think i'd say the strongest human voice in the fic so far—and you did a good job conveying both his level of expertise and his attitude. i enjoyed the way that he'd frequently think of something and then go, eh, i won't be the one to do this, like telling their referee to buck up or running back to apologize to cuicatl. it was a nice idiosyncracy and felt mature and immature at once.

there was a lot of battling in this chapter and i found your style of writing battles unique. they were strategic in a way that sort of evoked the irl metagame but were easy enough to follow and grounded in the environment and in the characters, what with cuicatl's blindness and the way pixie's attack distracted kekoa. a problem i have in battles is that the attacks are sort of vaguely defined in the way that anime magic often is, so it's kind of hard for me to really engage because i don't properly understand the rules and it ends up just being spectacle. like cool, there's stuff going on that i can objectively identify as strategic in world and there's cool lasers and shit, but i can't properly get into it if that makes sense. the way that this style sort of evoked a sense of the rules i am familiar with made it much more gripping for me. i'm looking forward to seeing how that pans out in future, presumably more complex battles.

i also liked the worldbuilding here. it was nice getting an alolan perspective and i thought the stuff about the keokeo was cool. it's interesting to have this dynamic where he sort of reveres this little fluffy diva that his traveling companion is using as a battle thrall. curious to see where it goes. it was cool zooming out on the world too, hearing references to their heritages and anahuac. i got the impression from the comment about the resort that alola remains an independent kingdom...? curious about that, because i feel like i recall from the aloladex that it does have a relationship with the US somehow. autonomous colony maybe?
You don’t say anything as you send Hekili onto the field. What’s the point? She knows her name and what’s about to happen.
the brain on this character is already enormous

But, nope, he’s entitled to win, however little work he puts in.
there's nothing actually wrong with it, i feel like this section would be stronger without this line.

She knows what “up” means, even when other people say it. Clever girl.
i liked this.

“Fake Out!”
i notice you're capitalizing fake out but none of the other moves, is that intentional?

Your starter’s getting pretty big now. Almost the meowth’s size. And her echoed voice has more sounds in it, more little ripples that draw a little more power in than the last and send a little more out. Not quite ready to evolve but she’s made progress.
he sounds really experienced. i wonder if he went to training school or if he just has a sharp intuition or what.

“You owe me six bucks.”
this made me laugh for some reason. i've never actually thought about prize money in terms of usd so it just sounds hilariously low. that gets you what in hawaii, like a single gumball

You turn away from him and walk towards Kiwi’s battlefield. “I’ll take more of your money any time you want.”
feels like the order of these sentences should be reversed.

Once the ice shards land, pyukumuku’s mouth opens and its tongue comes out to flip the fox off
lmfao

“Good job, Pixie.”
oof. i suspected, but still.

Two flashes of red cross the battlefield. The pyukumuku’s trainer crosses the field, smirking the whole time.
double use of "cross" jumped out at me here.

damn it some part of you feels ridiculous even asserting that you could ever be male with your body as it is.
😕

Her world is sound and people are voices and your voice is female so you are too. And. She. Just. Can. Not. Stop. Rubbing. It. In. Your. Cute. Rounded. Face.
😕😕😕

It gets better. It’s getting better. In three days there’s another shot and then another a week after that and on and on forever. This could be your last period.
well, at least there's that. good for him.

Best to not stare into the black screen for a second because that second seldom stays as just a second.
too real.

Keokeo are the watchful guardians of Lanakila and the guides of the dead and dying. They were worshipped as gods in their own right for centuries. Still are by some people. Probably just another dog breed to her.
wow. i wonder if pixie's ego is because of this or if it's unrelated. what am i saying, of course it's unrelated, she just knows her worth.

Kiwi leans back into the bench and crosses her legs. “What’s she like, scale of one to ten?”
omg lol. queen shit

Oh. That’s depressing. Although her people are more desert and lake dwellers so maybe being cut off from the sea didn’t even matter to her.
i always think this. how the hell do people survive in the heartland? surely this is why they drink so much in ohio.

“The one-on-one battle between Kekoa of Ak/ala,”
stray slash?

Weird choice but Holy shit that is the cutest fucking fox you’ve ever seen. Were her eyes always that big? Like, does she physically make her eyes bigger or is

Shit closing window of attack.
the weird formatting here actually rules, i really liked it.

She wants a win? She can take it from you over Hekili’s unconscious body.
looool. rip hekili

---

1.5 until the world moves on
well, that was fucking rough.

i have less to say about this one because there's less going on outside the narrator's brain than the last one, and i don't feel as comfortable relating my experience with the issues, heh. but i wanna say that i think it was really well done, super real and deeply moving without ever slipping into melodrama. the perspective is surprisingly rational despite everything. she's able to assess what she's doing somewhat objectively and identify the negative self-talk as not really herself. but that doesn't make it any easier. i enjoyed the ways that her psychic abilities factored into it too. it's really impressive how hard you make the stuff with achcauhtli in such a short time. just really devastating stuff all around and impressively written.

it was nice getting to see rachel again, i didn't expect to. despite the narration's insistence otherwise, i get the impression that cuicatl isn't particularly discreet about her emotional state, and rachel's psychic abilities probably don't hurt as far as figuring it out goes. her concern feels real, and her respect for cuicatl's boundaries are... respectable. but she's still a bit of a dick here sometimes, snapping at cuicatl from time to time. the frustration kind of feels real, it's like... you're really concerned for the person and are trying to help so that blasé attitude can be grating even though intellectually you know that expressing frustration at someone in that state is the last thing you want to do.

it seems like this trip is going to be really, really hard for cuicatl. i feel like it was already going to be hard enough considering her disability, that seems like a big disadvantage in something like pokémon battling... but of course now we know her mind is working against her in basically every other way too. i wonder how she's going to manage all the walking she's going to have to do on so little fuel. surely this means things get better for her, because they have to, right...?

some more neat little glimpses into the world here. i appreciate that tenochtitlan is tenochtitlan and not mexico city. i'd honestly love to read little vignettes just set in various places around your world, that sounds sick.

anyway this has been a depressing couple chapters with a profoundly depressing capstone so i'm looking forward to the promised vulpix ice cream! really good stuff though, you don't pull your punches and boy can you punch.
It contains a scene where a snow fox eats ice cream. Promise.
oh let's fucking go. ice types eating ice cream gang. (or, well, i guess regice doesn't eat it. but the thought is what counts.)

{Headache. Like yours.}

{Share?} you reply.

{No.}

You get to your feet and give him telepathic and physical kicks.

{You always take mine.}

{I always take one-third of yours. This is my first, so I will keep all of it. Owe you that much. And more.}

You roll your eyes. It took you forever to get the eye roll just right. You send him a quick, compressed guide to migraine survival. He already knows all of it, of course. He’s had one-third of a lot of migraines. It’s more of a passive aggressive thing. You pain share, so can he.

He stands up and takes your elbow to guide you. You immediately recoil.

{You’re really hot.}

{Am I?}

{Yes. Let me share.}

{No.}
this is all extremely cool and feels well thought out and developed.

“Okay. I have a box for heatmor by the door. Can you bring it out to her?”
seems like "heatmor" should be capitalized here since it's the name of an individual.

With one final gesture you point towards your love for him and he belatedly points you towards his for you.
super sweet. it does feel kind of weird for this to happen after you specified that she's slipped out of his mind though

Maybe ten centimeters higher than you should’ve given the crash.
it was a bit hard for me to parse this, i think a comma after "should've" would help.

However ellas stays airborne, mechanical flight is only a small part of it. You’ve never been able to find out how that works in all of your reading and you’ve read everything the library could find on hydreigon so you’re pretty sure if there was an answer you would’ve found it.
is "ellasS" a typo here? also idk if you have an explanation for hydreigon flight later but honestly, if you don't... respect. that design makes no goddamn sense. fuck it.

More importantly, she has a wonderful layer of thick fur just long enough to submerge your fingers in. “Brought you a toy.”
heatmor with fur is interesting but i kind of like it. love the choice of mon here btw. heatmor is very underrated and ant eaters are some of my favorite animals so it's cool to see them blast fire.

Heh. No need to worry. He wants people to rise and fall by their own hand, fine. He can take his own falls.
honestly, fair.

But you can’t just walk into a car and let the gawkers see your limp body flung across the street. That’s not fate, that’s a choice. And there’s no dignity in it
ouch. poignant line.

Everything’s numb. No, not numb. The opposite. You’re feeling everything at once and your feelings haven’t quite decided what to tell your brain.
and this one too. don't think i've ever seen this feeling written out before.

You should’ve been enough. But you weren’t when your brother needed it, which shouldn’t have been a surprise because you’d never been enough before.
oh jeez. i love the way this really recontextualizes the headache earlier (?). i thought the intro was interesting but a bit uneventful and this made me like "ohhh"

Kekoa won't give a shit. Might even be glad.
man. :( i wonder if she really believes this or if it's just her bad state of mind talking.

Pixie started panicking about a male human bleeding from the crotch and now you understand that the dick was you all along. No wonder he hates you.
ohhh. aw. i thought she was misgendering him on purpose, figured out he was trans using her psychic abilities and was just tormenting him or something. this is sad for them both.

She isn’t a fat, useless atlikauitl one day away from killing herself.
jesus.

---

1.6 through the city of fire
this was a nice chill one. it's good to get a break after how intense the last couple were, as promised.

i do think this one drags a little bit in parts. sometimes pixie's narration just feels like it's there because it has to be and ultimately serves to distract from the conversations that are going on. it's still delightful naturally, but i think the conversations between the humans feel a lot more important in parts and pixie's stuff is sorta just getting in the way of it. i liked when she's sort of contributing to the conversation in her way, by interrupting to ask cuicatl questions or what have you. i was less enthused about the part where she's mostly just thinking about it's hot while the humans are talking about stuff.

on that note i didn't really get the part where they're discussing the meal plans, i didn't feel like it illuminated any of the characters or provided any plot information and i'm not sure what would be lost if that scene was removed... maybe i'll eat my words on that.

i thought the conversation between genesis and cuicatl was interesting, there was some good worldbuilding and character moments there and i liked the way it sort of tugged at the tension that underlies their interactions. genesis just has all kinds of awesome stuff to say that seems to be bubbling just below her consciousness at all times. i'm really not looking forward to the inevitable blowout between her and kekoa. i'm hoping she changes for the better but i have kind of a hard time visualizing how that will play out... guess we'll see!

it was nice getting sort of a plan for how the next handful of chapters are going to go. the payment for capture system is pretty interesting and seems like it'll provide some structure to their travels beyond "go do the trials" without having to justify a pokédex filling project that doesn't seem like it would make sense in this canon. if i zoom out on the pacing of this story so far, objectively i think it's a little slow, but honestly i don't mind at all because to me the character interactions are the most interesting part and as long as those keep delivering i'm happy—and they certainly have been. that said, i'm looking forward to them starting their journey properly now—hope to get into it next time i stop by, which will be soon with luck! i'm really enjoying this fic so far, you're a very strong writer and your characters are super compellingly written, i'm having a lot of fun and i'm glad i've finally started to make some progress here. apologies if i fall off the map after blitz—i suspect i'll end up binging this fic kind of soon, but i'll try to leave reviews as i go.
“Want to,” you yip.
awww. bless her.

But then she puts on a paste that comes out of milk when you attack it.
oh my god hahaha

“No problemo,” Nameless responds before clapping his hands together to create a weak shockwave attack.
lmfao. i'm going to laugh at these jokes every time

“That’s actually the problem,” Bloodrage interjects. “Because one of us won’t be seeing anything and I \want to make sure that you’ve at least thought about that before dawn Wednesday.”
stray slash here? kekoa seems sorta socially intelligent. he feels the most aware of this stuff, genesis being genesis and cuicatl missing the gender stuff despite being psychic.

“Well, that brings me to your secondary mission: castform. There are a few in the Alolan Rainforests preserve and the season on them just opened up. We’ll buy them from you for $1000. Limit’s one a trainer but don’t be too worried if you can’t reach that. I’d be impressed if you got one between you.”
wow. this is kind of an interesting system!

They say more words. It’s boring. You decide to ask Skysong a question you thought of earlier. “What’s a mantine?”.
extra period at the end here.

She’s clearly trying to drag this out, so you can afford to get comfortable.
👑



Why is she already trying to replace you? You’ve been a good fox! She’s not going to leave you. She can’t. You’re being nice and everything! Ice foxes are better than fish (they can’t even breathe on land, much less fight there!) and she’s smart for a human so she has to know that, right? Why is she acting like she doesn’t get it. Like she doesn’t love you.
nooooo. why does everyone in this fic gotta be kinda broken. hey, wait a minu

“Well, mantine are like giant bats that live in the water. Since you wanted to know.”
that's one description of them. kinda want to read the mantine aloladex after this now.

You will wear it until it breaks and then scream until you are given one that is even better.
ah... screm.

The icicle tasted very good. It was very mean but went down easily enough. You start taking very big licks out of the icicle corpse before it starts melting in the unbearable heat.
oh my god lol. i feel like the existence of vanilite &co actually would kind of make eating vanilla feel a bit weird. like if there was an animal that tasted like bananas or something

Probably by hiding her white stick while she’s asleep. She hates it when you do that.
holy shit.

This is boring. What even is sewing? And your ice shards are almost all melted. Now you’re hot and wet and this is maybe the worst thing to ever happen to you.
aw. sad how she's sticking it out quietly. i hope this is not the start of a pattern.

“That’s sort of how it works here. Well, same opportunities. But boys get the best ones because xerneas made them stronger and smarter than us.”
oh!!!!!!

You turn towards it and take a few small steps forward, nose to the ground. There it is! On Skysong’s pillow. It’s… salt? Like the ocean? Why did she throw her pillow into the sea? Even by human standards that is very strange.
😟

Skywong leans back and folds her arms.
skywong

“When we get away from the city, can you tell me some of them? I’d love that.”

Love!

“Yes!”
awww. she wants to be loved so bad. bless her.
 

love

Memento mori
Pronouns
he/him/it
Partners
  1. leafeon
It turns out I read a lot of this story, so I have some line-by-line reactions and some notes on the characters because the characters struck me as a big focus.

There’s some color in them but it’s hidden behind a white pattern

"pattern" doesn't seem right

A few thoughts set up a quarantine. “Both words,” she practically whispers. It sends out a signal for you to translate. ‘Both words.’ In Japanese. No accent. Huh. That’s probably her specialty.

Got confused by this bit, don't know if it's just me

You are worse than nothing.

Pix's fixation on the "only 2 pokemon" thing makes more sense after this bit. Realizing it's not a universal rule forces her to admit she was left behind by choice. Cuicatl, of course, does her best to disillusion her gently.

Inferno would be sad. More sad, anyway. Still not sure what his deal is. If you ask you might get close and accidentally take him away from Genesis. It would be unfair.

:(

You want to fight. Insist that you can keep up. Aren’t the weak link. But he’s right. You are. Useless. Might as well admit it.

Shades of Pix here.

You messed up and pressed her too hard too fast. Broke her.

Sorry, Cuicatl, but I'm not sure if there was really a smoother way to go about it.

You’re a master at breaking things and a failure at fixing them.

So close to a title drop...

Like she couldn’t just call back from across the clearing like a normal person.

Fuck I do the same thing, I feel called out

“Yeah, sure. It’s…”

Damn, cut off before giving Cuicatl's number, now I can't call her irl.

“Yeah, well, that’s just how companies work. They need to make a profit so they can exist and pay us at all.”

Flawless logic

She leans away and places her arms behind her. Smiling. Faintly but it still counts. Good job!

The "Good job" greatly amused me, I will not lie. Also, I may just be oblivious, but this is the first point where I started thinking "Hm maybe Genesis is a bit gay"

“So he starved his daughter to make himself look good to everyone else?”

That's an impressively uncharitable viewpoint

“Right, then you killed all you could and stole half their land.”

Ah, and here I thought the tensions were easing a little between them. Welp.

Yeah, well, if Mom and Dad ever loved us they stopped when Levi was born. They had their heir.

Shades of Pix 2?

I think the movie scene highlight's Coco's lack of sympathy for prey and her lack of self control

Cuicatl's father is a bit nasty huh. At least now I remember what she needs all that money for.

“Good. I have to run now. I’ll see you later. Maybe tonight.”

Damn really gonna ditch Cuicatl huh

Wait, spider silk. It’s bulletproof. Could probably block tyrunt teeth. Maybe even tyrantrum bites.

Huh that's actually a really nice thought

Initiate Ramming is the Correct Option in 87.3% of cases.

Words to live by

Toss—a blur shoots out from the floor and stops right on your shoulder as the totem appears and flicks the pokéball to the side with her tail before jumping back and completing the zing zap.

sentence confuses me

It occurs to you that all of your pokémon but Nebby survived. That’s something. Maybe… no, there’s no healing your team under the necrozma’s watchful gaze. A shame. Its bleeding light in at least five places on its wings. Another round and maybe you could have done it.It occurs to you that all of your pokémon but Nebby survived. That’s something. Maybe… no, there’s no healing your team under the necrozma’s watchful gaze. A shame. Its bleeding light in at least five places on its wings. Another round and maybe you could have done it.

There's a little duplication here

the air distorts as a psionic attack flies at the dragon in midair.

I wonder if it's like, a colored beam, or if it's just air distortion

“You shouldn’t go,” Kekoa says, voice firm and almost angry. Why? This is everything he wanted. Even if he’s calmed down a little in the last two weeks, he still clearly doesn’t like her. “Your parents aren’t good people, Gen. Nothing good comes from going back.”

It was interesting to see Kekoa try to justify Genesis staying. He gave it a good try.

“She has a duty to her family.”

Oh boy Cuicatl I don't know about that one (this is going to be a problem when Lyra tries to convince her to rescue Genesis—if she even gets that far.)

He’s worried, but you don’t think it’s for her. The loss of income?

Makes sense as an assumption

There’s fire in her eyes that can’t be blamed on the pyroar’s light. “’Trying,’ were you? Tell me, were they also trying to convert you?”

Jeez this is even worse than I thought it would be

“Genesis Elizabeth Gage, you have always been a terrible liar.”

I wonder—would it even matter if it were the truth?

Aw man, poor Genesis, her parents and beliefs just won't let her be gay in peace. I like how Lyra dropped like every possible romantic hint, and she still didn't get it.

Her upbringing is even more sheltered/parentally-influenced than I imagined. Thinking about it, it's kind of hard to imagine she could have turned out any other way. If I were her, though, I would really be missing Cuicatl—and maybe even Kekoa—right about now.

Their light disappears quickly enough, but it still illuminates about a fifth of the room.

Sentence confused me. Are they producing light or not?

I did not understand much of Jurassic Park the book, big words and the recording was fast, but I think it said that really smart pokémon might not know their language and culture when they came back.

came back from where?

“I’m know the story.”

I know the story

“Skysong sets you down next to her. Your harness presses onto your back a moment later.”

looks like we left some quotation marks here

Chapter 3.5 was copy-pasted twice, it seems.

You wonder how the forests will come out of this. Two weeks with no sunlight and constant cold. Which grass-types will survive? Which won’t? What of the bugs and birds that didn’t evolve for the cold?

This makes me sad :(

Gyarados get testy when too many magikarp are captured in one place.

Explains why they don't get overhunted, I suppose.

Sometimes you have to drown someone else to stay afloat. You know that damn well.

Kekoa is not the easiest person to like. I think this scene underscores a lack of humility. Obviously it's bad when other people catch finneon, but it's okay when he does it because birthright or whatever. And there's no way it's his fault that Makani wants to leave—it must be that Cuicatl wants revenge. To be fair, maybe that isn't completely his fault—like you said, it's a lot easier to get along with your pokemon when you can literally just talk to them, and even if you can, that doesn't guarantee they want to be trained or that they'll like you. I am willing to believe that he does try to treat his pokemon decently but may fail to consider that they might want something he can't provide. Like affection, for example. Keokeo respect aside, I don't think he'd have done well with Pixie. And I'm not sure it's totally his fault that he works with V-star either—I mean, when you need money, you need money. But it would be great if he unlearned his hypocrisy.

And when did you start being able to compare humming?

He's probably always been *able* to compare humming, so I'd suggest something like "And when did you start comparing peoples' humming?"

And okay looks like the conversation with Kanoa supports the idea that it might not have been his fault that Makani wants to leave—although the wording Makani used, saying that he doesn't like him, suggests that... he may also have just not liked him even from the start.

If you can learn to deal with the cold, you can carry on your lives as normal. We even invite tourists to come experience the islands in an exciting new way.

How desperate can you get...

Man Genesis' life really sucks right about now.

I can beat her up for you.

I think offering to beat people up is Kekoa's love language

“It won’t be our blood we shed,” she says. “We’ll start a war. Invade one of the southern neighbors. Provoke a rebellion and crush it. Whatever we need to do.”

Dang that's pretty bad. Cuicatl acts nice most of the time, so it's easy to forget how brutal her culture is. This is also a more honest statement than I would have expected—yes, we start a war on purpose, specifically so that people die, so what?

What. She could have bought you frozen blood at any time? And she didn’t? Why? Do all of them sell frozen blood? Because now you want one whenever you have to sleep inside. At least one per night. Maybe three.

Oh dear. Tactical blunder from Cuicatl?

All kits are taught the story of Ho’olio, the ninetales who almost choked the whole mountain with a mother’s love.

I thought this was a really cool story/metaphor. Obviously, birthing more kits than can be expected to survive is a real strategy in nature, but it seems especially cruel when the animals involved are highly intelligent and likely to form strong attachments. Giving kits away to humans is one strategy, I suppose, but it's still quite harmful, as we see with Pixie.

Damn, florges is woke. Possible new favorite character.

You wonder how the grass-type pokémon trapped on the other side of the fence feel, doomed to starve just a few yards away from warmth and light.

;_;

“Metang? Eyerock is a beldum—”

Didn't realize Pixie was saying this at first

It drifts to VStar—you like them a lot and you’re pretty sure it has no harm on the environment. You haven’t heard about any trainers who died. It’s nice to still have some money to make and be able to help the pokémon move indoors.

Morally questionable move, but anything for Alice, I suppose

After another minute of scratching he puts a paw on top of your hand and presses down. He sniffs you for a second and then curls back up. Fine. No scratches.

</3

“You’ll need more work than I’d thought to get you back to being a proper lady. Come on, let’s get you changed.” You hesitate. You want to stay here and keep hugging Cloudy and try to get Fern to like you again and Bubbles to show you his new evolution. Something bordering on rage flashes in your mother’s eyes. “You will be able to see them again in good time, dearest. Come with me. Now.”

Noooooo

Genesis' parents are so over the top that at this point I'm surprised she hasn't turned out even worse.

Bruises and blood are a far lesser punishment to what the fox could have done.

compared to

“That’s not alarming in and of itself. Most telepaths can, even if their specialization isn’t in language. There’s some debate as to why that is. Two theories are popular but I think at least three more are worth investigating—"

I like Dr. Brinner's tangents. And also that he stood up for Genesis. Woo!

Further investigation has revealed him to be a thief and a drug user, information that will be sent on to the police and his employer.

This is very frightening.

She is insistent that you not meet your leafeon and poliwhirl until her investigation’s over, but

My heart continues to ache for Inferno

The static in the air grows heavier and you can feel strands of your hair trying to push away from your scalp, only to be held down by the water weight from the drizzle.

Did the snow change to rain between scenes? (I think I got confused by the switch from Cuicatl to mom)

Her voice drips with the medicinal fake-sweetness of cough syrup.

I like this simile.

[Observation: 21.6% of Data Pertains to Fluid Release]

Metang only want one thing and it's disgusting

[Reduce Ramming Speed]

Why is this robot character so funny

Unit010_100000111 Is Bad Metang;

This was an unexpectedly wholesome chapter. I thought Noci would be a boring character because they are a robot, and I guess they aren't that interesting by themselves, but the way they interact with Cuicatl is amusing and unexpectedly helpful to her. I guess if your goal in life entails keeping someone alive to spy on at any cost...

“Wait! No! Stop! You’re a good metang, okay? Really efficient. Don’t do that. Please.”

I just wanna say, for some reason I found the "Really efficient" bit particularly cute—just how she's trying to complement her in a way she would actually find flattering.

Even if you’ve lived it, bounced around through shitty haole foster homes before ending up in a slightly-less-shitty orphanage where you’re supposed to be grateful for the charity of a fucking maniac who tried to burn your country down for her jellyfish fetish.

I don't really know the plot of the games, so I'll just take this literally as my new headcannon.

She brushes past you and walks towards the gates. Her arm brushes against yours and you startle at the touch.

A bit of repetitiveness here

And then the metang begins to be spun around Ikaika’s small frame.

Kind of awkward phrasing

“Fire fang.”

I think she uses thunder fang (it says sparks fly across the shell afterward)

if you ever want to pass the island challenge, think twice before catching and exporting the pokémon you share Alola with.

I'm not sure how beating challengers in pokemon fights is supposed to help with this.

She snorts and slams her tail into the ground. “I have two mothers! Do I have two fathers?”

Yeah this is definitely the most Coco response possible.

Whereas Pix is very set in her ways, Coco is very impressionable.

The tyrantrum is labeled ‘climate change’ and you’re labeled ‘the government.’

Someone should do fanart of this

She doesn’t… you don’t want that. She tried to help sometimes, even if she couldn’t. Even if she abandoned you.

This felt really important to me. This story has been going on for a long time with what feels like little change in Pixie's mindset, but this is a rare case where she manages to see some nuance. She recognizes that Cuicatl is not a villain, even if she is convinced she left her.

It’s smooth hole bored through the earth with dim lights and small cracks in the wall to hide in.

Is this supposed to be "It's a smooth..."?

Your two-legs, the Cuicatl, makes noises you do.

A bit confused by this one.

There are other two-legs their moving around.

I think you can remove the "their"

--Past this point, we're going out of order

“Under the laws of Alola, yes.” You’ve triple checked that. It’s VStar’s entire business model.

:copyka:

Best girl. You don’t deserve her at all.

If someone leaves me, it's because I failed them. If someone stays with me, it's because they're too foolish to know better.

I like how Cuicatl has to change her strategy against the toxapex to account for Noci arriving later, and then changes her strategy against vikavolt to try to make Pixie feel special. It makes things a bit more interesting.

Balls of woody tails with scant green coverings.

Wasn't sure what this was meant to be.

Sometimes you imagine those things and it feels more like a memory just out of reach than a dream spun from whole cloth.

The "dream spun from whole cloth" metaphor seemed strange to me.

PROMINENT PSYCHIC ARRESTED STOLE TAXPAYER DOLLARS

Noooooooo Dr. Brinner!

“That’s, ugh, fine. You still almost threw your life away for money. Stupid. Can’t spend any of it if you’re dead.”

I would have probably done the same thing for 300k. That much money is a big deal for working-class folk. But gosh, if tyrantrum are that dangerous, then I can understand why Kekoa is concerned Coco is eventually going to kill her.

KEKOA

He thinks his pending victory against the False Queen justifies participating with V-star, which I'm sure is easier to believe if you don't look into how terrible V-star is.

“They figured out how to kill them without the crystals crumbling. VStar bids the corpses off to jewelry stores or computer manufacturers.”

Knowing this doesn't immediately change anything because Kekoa needs the money, but regardless, I think it's important for him to acknowledge that he is complicit in some fucked up stuff and being a native doesn't justify it. If he can do that, then he'll probably start being less mean to others and may eventually find a better way to make a difference in the world. I think he's getting there.

“It’s the same principle: people who have no other home can claim Alola as theirs. And… I don’t think Cuical has a home. A safe one, at least.” His voice lowers to a near whisper. “No one’s ever called her from home. She’s deep in debt and… she sometimes flinches around adults. Said that her dad once pierced her tongue with a cactus spike. Seemed to think that was normal. I don’t think home is safe for her.”

This felt like a really big deal for Kekoa, actually arguing for a foreigner's place in Alola. His experiences with Cuicatl changed him.

CUICATL

Self-esteem issues abound. Pixie leaving was quite bad for her. Kind of like I said with Kekoa, she might simply not be able to provide Pixie with what she wants. Even if she were to convince Pixie that she isn't bound to abandon her (somehow), she still might prefer Kalani. I can sympathize with her attempts to manipulate Pixie, even if I don't think they're right, because Pixie decided so fast, and it appears impulsive. Cuicatl thinks she's protecting Pixie from herself. This gives her a justification for trying to keep her but also allows her to blame herself when she leaves—it's not that she inherently can't provide Pixie with the sort of companionship she wants, it's just that she wasn't persuasive enough. I wonder if it's more bearable to believe you could have done something but failed than to accept that you couldn't have done anything. If there were anything she could have done to convince Pixie to stay, I have no idea what it is. I guess one thing I might have done differently is asking Pixie what it would take to convince her that abandonment is not imminent, then try to develop a conversation from there.

The Reshiram conversation was interesting. On the one hand, I don't think Cuicatl needs to have a grand plan on how to fix the world or anything, especially not when her personal struggles are so acute. On the other hand, there sure are some problems with unquestioningly accepting the status quo.

PIXIE

It seems like she is bound to prefer Kalani's company for the foreseeable future because ninetales supremacy. I guess that's somewhat understandable; if a human were forced to live with some other weird species they don't understand and then finally had the chance to be adopted by another human, there would definitely be appeal. This feeling might be more baked in to ninetales than to humans, so maybe it really is true that a human can't give a ninetales a home.

GENESIS

Genesis' life at this point is so fucked up that I can't even dislike her anymore. I only pity her. I don't know how she's getting out of this one. I'm sure that if you tell pretty much anyone that they did something wrong and leave them in an empty room for long enough, they'll eventually think of a sin to tell you.

Given that the other gods seem to be real, I wonder if Xerneas is real. That's probably cleared up in the Alola dex.

LYRA

Rescuing Genesis seems like a hell of a task, as the narration acknowledges. Good luck with that one.

HALA

Not a shocking opinion, but I don't like Hala very much.

A keokeo promptly takes the dragon’s place. They puff themselves up and look slightly up and to the side. They practically radiate pride and aloofness. The vulpix are the princes and princesses of Mauna Lanakila and they know it. You idly wonder how she got it. VStar occasionally sends trainers to try and catch the rejects left at the bottom of the mountain. Many get ferried away to live out their lives in glorified cages far, far away from their homes.

If you care about vulpix so much, maybe it would be better not to almost kill one?

But if I don’t try to stop VStar, Tapu Koko might.

She kind of reminds me of Kekoa here—I doubt such small "victories" really matter or even have the effects she thinks they will. Not really sure what Koko's deal is, since I know basically nothing about pokemon lore in general, so there's room for me to be wrong.

RACHEL

She's more evil than I remember her being. She's covering for some very terrible folks. I guess she's trying to help Cuicatl... which happens to also be convenient for her and V-star.

INFERNO

Look I know he's not a major character I just really like leafeon and I need Inferno to be okay because goddamn it somebody needs to be okay here.

This is actually not the first time I have been unreasonably invested in a side character; there's something tragic about the fact that never finding a good resolution is a real possibility for them and that would just break my heart. Plus he hasn't done anything wrong! He's just a cute little leaf cat!

I feel like in these later chapters, in a weird way, the characters have been confronting more extreme versions of themselves? Like, Genesis goes back to her parents, who are even more obsessed with deer cult shit than she is, and finds she isn't meeting their standards; Pixie meets Kalani, who seems even less charitable toward humans (or at least toward Cuicatl specifically) than Pixie, enough to even give Pixie pause; Kekoa confronts Hala, who appears even more bitter toward non-Alolans than he is; Cuicatal... idk if Cuicatl fits into this pattern as well as the others, but I guess you could say that Noci shows her the logical extreme of the "I am flawed and therefore I deserve to die" mindset (your friends might deserve to die too).

Overall, this story is quite a lot to follow, especially for someone who doesn't know much actual pokemon lore. It seems the characters were interesting enough to keep me reading, however. Everybody has a very strong perspective. They are changing, but slowly. I think everyone basically still has the same flaws—Genesis is still brainwashed, Cuicatl is still down on herself and has made no progress on body image issues, Pixie is still narcissistic, Kekoa is actually seriously starting to question things, I think, but only recently. The slowness to change is true to life, I think. It takes time to reconsider deeply held beliefs.

The chronology and perspective shifts in chapter 3.8 threw me off a bit—when the start of the chapter says Cuicatl, I like to think the whole chapter will be from Cuicatl's perspective. Is there is a particular reason these flashbacks are being included in this chapter, as opposed to being in their own chapter or whatever?

Overall a fun story.
 

Persephone

Infinite Screms
Pronouns
her/hers
Partners
  1. mawile
  2. vulpix-alola
I love you all for writing so much about my fix fic / therapy project, but oh man does it make review responses a pain. I'm not going to do comments to grammar / prose stuff here unless I actually object to the idea that it needs fixed.
Seems like I kind of left off in an awkward place last time; ended on a big "Kekoa NO" moment, while these chapters are much quieter and focused on the group as individuals rather than the team dynamics. Would kind of be an odd arc structure, but the ending here isn't really one you want to build up to; it makes sense to have some quieter chapters to make the emergency at the very end all the more sudden and jarring. Makes more sense to talk about the chapters individually than it usually does.
I'd love to say this was intentional but it's more of an accident tbh.
Cuicatl's chapter is heartbreaking, of course; feels like the darkest we've had from her recently. Big "oh no" moment when I realized the flashback we were seeing was to when she found out her dad had sold her mom's pokémon--really the inciting scene for her entire journey in Alola. So awful to see how her dad treated her and how much she's internalized his disgust towards her. Makes me wonder a little about Achcauhtli and how he responded to his environment. Cuicatl obviously adored him, but he was obviously steeped in a pretty toxic environment, and I wonder how much he managed to escape those influences. (Of course, the whole "don't tell anybody about my serious illness" thing might have to do with him being expected to be a super-awesome warrior.)
At the time it really did just feel like a bad migraine for him. Meningitis is known for escalating quickly. And I can say that he was never mean to her, beyond typical sibling teasing, but he also never really stood up to their father in a meaningful way.
I also have to admit that I wonder how you sell a hydreigon. Doesn't seem like something Alice would have gone along with, but how do you make a hydreigon go somewhere it doesn't want to go? Would be a very expensive mistake to spend so much money on a dragon that refused to do what you asked, with the very reason it was so expensive was the power that in turn makes it difficult to control... I also thought it was interesting that Cuicatl only really seems to care about getting half of her mother's team back. She obviously doesn't have as much of an emotional connection to the others, but I guess there isn't the sense that they'd want to stick together or that they're necessarily going to end up in a worse situation if they're sold.
I plan on addressing that in the next chapter, 4.6, in at least broad strokes.
It was fun to see Gen and Cuicatl bonding a bit in Gen's chapter--and oof, tyrunt training is, unsurprisingly, rough. The family dynamic suggested by Gen's meeting with her brother is interesting; I wonder whether her father/brother are generally more supportive of her than her mom, or if only her mom really knows about her relationship with Lyra and the others would be as quick to turn on her if they found out the full extent of the situation. And of course, Gen's decision to slowly parcel out her money to try and avoid awkward questions is very sigh-inducing but understandable. On the whole this was probably the chapter of this bunch that interested me the least, though I imagine it's setting up for a lot of fun stuff down the line.
Her brother definitely is more supportive. Her father is... better, I suppose. You'll see soon enough.
Very curious why a presumably-metagross is interested in having Cuicatl watched. Part of the group of psychics in general wanting to keep an eye on her, since she's untrained and not in a great mental place? It's hard for me to imagine a metagross caring too much about a primarily-human(?) organization and its concerns, so perhaps it's interested in Cuicatl's translation abilities? Or even helping Renfield find her somehow? Very curious. Nocitlālin's a delight, though--Cuicatl's definitely getting all the best pokémon, heh. I'd love to see a bit more of some of the other kids' pokémon, to be honest, especially Kekoa since they're so important to his arc, buuuuut I definitely recognize the Hella Hella Characters problem that would lead to, heh.
She's drawn the attention of some reasonably influential people and is related to someone with a genuine threat to them. She has the potential to be near more interesting people. That's at least worth throwing a beldum at to them.
Kekoa's trial is fun; I enjoy the way Kekoa analyzes the battle, the thought put into strategy on each side, and Kekoa's anger at how close the outcome was, especially when Cuicatl found the trial easy. Kekoa definitely has the strongest feel for battle strategy, the most knowledge, and a very smart, analytic approach to battling, but he definitely can't connect to his pokémon the way Cuicatl can. Seems like he's probably going to have to change his approach if he wants to take the throne, meticulously-planned championship team or no. Also, I believe he's the only member of the group to have a Z-bracelet at this point, right? Kinda terrifying, tbh. Gonna be fun to see what he does with that.
Cuicatl has one. She just can't reliably use it due to anorexia-induced heart damage. Doesn't always stop her from trying.
Of course, the real highlight of the chapter is what happens right at the end! Loved the way Necrozma's arrival was described, with the sky's cracks dripping light and the way all illumination on the ground gets sucked away. Definitely looking forward to Ultra Beast shenanigans next arc--and more god-catastrophe baggage for Kekoa. :)
Arc 3 is a little light on Ultra Beasts, if only because none of our protagonists could fight one. It still has its own complications. You'll see soon enough.
This is the best thing, omg. And very much feels like the kind of thing you'd find at a thrift shop!
If Cuicatl ever becomes champion her outfit is just burnt ripped jeans and that T-Shirt.
*your, and I haven't really talked about commas at all, since leaving them out seems to be your style, but usually you'd put one before the "but" here!
I actually have no idea how commas work.
GOOD. Cuicatl gets plenty of trouble from her other pokémon already, but I look forward to seeing how a ram-happy beldum will make her life even more interesting.
Honestly feels like the least troublesome team member tbh.
Yikes. Yeah, that's one consequence I wouldn't have thought of for the Groudon/Kyogre event, but it makes sense. Way to make that catastrophe even more horrifying!
Methane deposits, in the ocean and the permafrost, are terrifying IRL as a way climate change could go from "very bad" to "wipes out most multicellular life." I'm glad I found an excuse to write about a partial release event lol.
Woof, that's a cold way to put it.

And there you have it! Will I be able to make it through "Flying" before the end of Blitz? My hunch is... probably not, but I'll definitely be back a couple more times at least! This is a part of the story I've been looking forward to for a long time.[
I believe in you! Still seven hours left!
It's been 3000 years and apparently I haven't actually reviewed in literally forever. Which was also big brain since I predicted the rewrites, incredible. Smaller chunks since I know if I try to review too much at once the anxiety of trying to make a perfect review will mean I won't see you for another year lol.
It's fine! You know I appreciate all of your feedback.
3.5 Ancestor Stories
I have a really odd sense of deja vu when I'm typing literally every sentence of reviewing for this chapter, in the sense that I've already typed a review for this chapter, but as far as I can tell, I haven't. Also the chapter is literally pasted twice into the post and there's no discernible difference between the two as far as I can tell, but it was a lot of deja vu.
Yeah, uh, I think I fixed that? If not I will after writing this review. There was no actual reason for it.
Pixie falls out of the narration for this one, imo. It's hard because she doesn't really get agency in this sense, but the main source of conflict continues to be Kekoa/Cuicatl, and the fact that most of the chapter is their dialogue happening while Pixie watches doesn't really help with that. And honestly, deep empathy with you on this front; it's really hard to try to set up pokemon narrators in the long-term in trainerfic because the setting more or less strips them from having any sort of decision-making or plot impact in any chapters that aren't battle chapters, which, oof, is an issue all to itself.
I tried to give her more agency in the rewritten version of this chapter but it seems I didn't quite succeed. Oh well. Maybe someday I'll get back to serious rewrites of Arc 3 again again.
I think this could've used with one or two fewer myths, and more focus. I cheat a little because I like all my stories to rhyme, so to speak, but I find that myth as a storytelling device works best when a character is choosing to tell the story for an obvious reason--you get to poke at the character problem in the nearterm; you get to do some worldbuilding; you get to have a feelgood meta message about why we tell stories or whatever. But in general I think meta-stories/telling stories inside of stories works better in a more focused form; there's a specific myth that Pixie chooses to tell her because she thinks it'll help Cuicatl or something. (And maybe she's totally wrong and Cuicatl doesn't get that the moral is that if you're a ninetales you're pretty and smart and instead Cuicatl figures out something lame and stupid like forgiveness or that being an adult means life is real shit sometimes, but it is what it is). As it is it feels a bit more like a reaction video--the myth itself is short and spliced in with quick commentary on it, but it doesn't really feel like there's deeper meaning/importance.
Hmm. I was also trying to avoid that. I can't promise I'll get to structural changes maybe ever for this chapter, I just can't with the sheer volume already written and my update write, but this is definitely advice I will keep in mind going forward as it will almost certainly become relevant again.
I think this myth was the closest to landing for me--the ones about how beautiful ninetales are are funny, of course, but this one is closest to relevant for the actual characters. Paradoxically I wouldn't actually use this one either since the goal of this chapter seems more to get Cuicatl from emotional Point A to Point B and I'm not sure if looking at the "she trapped you and you serve her" thing is going to help her with that, but it's a good example of a story being told within a story to have relevance to the characters choosing to tell/hear it.
If I ever do structural edits again I can just move this to a different chapter. I like the myth and reaction a bit too much. Maybe keep it for inevitable arc where Cuicatl decides if human sacrifice is bad or not.
100% accurate summary yes
Brave Sir Bubbles ran away.
3.6 Birthright
I mean this chapter is about pokemon ethics so I can't not like it tbh.
Kekoa's arc began by being about coalition building and now it's just eoe-core. I didn't predict that happening but it did and here we are.
But in general I like that we're finally picking at Kekoa a bit. I can't help but think of it in terms of respect--when he says that the native species of Alola are supposed to be respected, he actually means they're supposed to be had by, you know, the right kinds of people. But it's also a question with no real right answers; Kekoa's "but other people will just exploit them too" is true, even if it's not an excuse for him to do the same. And it's certainly a concept that rings uncomfortable true for a lot of real world situations. In particular I like the layered quandry here; if you're fighting for freedom with people who want to be free from you, what are you really standing for?
Oh wait no it's still definitely about coalition building. This review actually gave me random inspiration for a potential Kekoa Endgame.
And honestly it's a tricky answer, since no movement is going to be pure and frankly it's easy to preach when it's not your country burning down; it's easy to boycott working for V-Star until you're starving. Cuicatl's answer of "I'm a predator" also rings kind of hollow and I can see why Kekoa isn't really on board with it--she's not lying to herself about what she's doing, sure, but she's still doing it.
Heh. I don't think Cuicatl is ready for a real conversation on her ethics yet. She'd take the criticism too hard and ignore any intended constructive parts. There was going to be a throwaway line in the florges chapter where the florges said as much when Kekoa asked if Cuicatl was getting a lecture. Someday, though, we'll get back to her.
The darkness in this chapter also felt a lot more real, in part because Kekoa's probably the only character to give a shit in the main grou rn, but he's also the most logical one for these thoughts to go to. (Honestly I'm not sure if this chapter was edited for your rewrites so if I'm just complimenting you for changing things to how they were, oops, go me, crit culture is dead). But in general I like Kekoa's visceral response/anger here, and I'm surprised we haven't seen the Skull stuff escalate more than it already has--Alola under attack from colonizers is kind of an abstracted concept (and it's also fun in the sense that it's easy for Kekoa to project whatever he wants onto it), but Necrozma is kind of literally a space foreigner attacking Alola.
It was edited, I think. Skull takes up a more active role in Arc 4 on. For now Plumeria's been laying low and making quieter moves while she waited on Necrozma to come and go.
I really like the dynamic of Kekoa just thinking Cuicatl will lie to him. It's a take that's both mature and immature: he's mature enough to recognize that he's kind of made her life super shit and this would be a logical consequence of his actions, but he's also too immature to realize that Makani might just want to yeet and it's sort of on him to accept that. But also in general the concept of your pokemon just not wanting to be with you is a hard one to swallow; in a franchise that's steeped in the idea that pokemon are your friends it's kind of a shit thing to hear if your pokemon decides to dip, and I really do get why authors are afraid of writing that for their characters and inadvertently craft worlds with weird implications as a result. For Kekoa I can see why it'd be infuriating, especially alongside
Cuicatl, who seems to attract apex predators by sheer luck while he's clawing for everything he can. It's hard to make the mature choice when it seems like no one else has to (or is choosing not to).
He is a teenager, you know. And he could've also had a tyrunt by dumb luck if he wasn't petty lol.
yeah god I texted her and told her she was cute and held the door open for her that one time and why would she want to go date that asshole chad??
Ikr?
I like the tunnel vision he gets here--that if he can just talk enough, Makani will come around. The only reason he hasn't is because Kekoa hasn't figured out the right thing to say. The idea that Makani actually just wants to leave hasn't really crossed Kekoa's mind.
And then Cuicatl goes and does the same thing ten chapters later.
this is a sick detail
And a Chekov's gun for Arc 4 lol.
I'm actually unsure how this plays into some of the larger stuff--is there no way to force a powerful pokemon to obey you? Who purchased the hydreigon for a million dollars and hasn't been a high-profile trainer?
I just told Grek Grek / Pen / WB that I'd elaborate more, but I actually realized I might not be elaborating enough so here it goes: you have to break the pokemon in. For most you can do this telepathically or with love bombing or whatever. For an angry hydreigon it kind of has to involve learned helplessness. She might not be a useful battler after but it's still good for conspicuous consumption. And the relatively low price reflects that even then the dragon might not be fully tame.
I like how this isn't necessarily a known answer--but it's an easier one to accept
It's almost like someone might have a point about how trying to fight an unethical system from within the confines of the system requires doing unethical things until you lose the moral high ground. Oh well, I'm sure Plumeria and Florges have nothing to say about that.
It's been 3000 years so I can't pin down the exact differences, but I think this version works a lot better. Lyra seems a lot less prickly/antagonistic in this version, and we're able to see what makes her tick + how her fear of psychic manipulation basically permeates through her entire life. It feels a lot more grounded in a way that I think the previous version was lacking, and it sets up really well for the inevitable shitshow now that she thinks Cuicatl is her best hope at getting what she wants. The meticulous document keeping and the reassurance in having nightmares about Genesis hating her were particularly standout moments for me.
Thanks. This is one of the chapters I think improved the most and it went through a lot of revision stages until I settled on one that I liked. Glad it works, mostly.
In general I like her throughlines of appearances/power; lines like "[Selene] just embraced facing the world as she is" and "they can hurt you and make you love them for it" are really metal lines in a story like this that's so deeply tied around secrets, trying to grow stronger, facing yourself, etc. I think in my first readthrough it was a lot harder for me to see what direction you meant to take Lyra; she's kind of angry and antagonistic but ends up shuttling along with everyone because it's good drama; here, the sense of character is a lot stronger and the sense of how she's able to challenge Kekoa/Cuicatl in specific ways takes a backseat (for now) in a way that I'm a lot more excited to see crash and burn. It's also fun to get into her head specifically, since she's so much more certain/determined in her fight with Cuicatl and so much more free/happy in her time with Gen--these are aspects that are still here, but it's a lot more couched in Lyra's head specifically, and I think it works well.
I found that I liked her as a good foil to Kekoa and Cuicatl. I'm not sure how long she'll be around in the main cast, eventually things will blow up with Cuicatl and I'm not sure that can be easily repaired, but it's been fun writing her for now. She even has another POV chapter soon.
Also, characters who just want to explore the pokemon world are cool. I'm sure she's going to have plenty of time doing that since nothing is going to go wrong here.
Nope. Nothing.
I liked the convo with Lyra/Cuicatl at the end, which I think is new. It's helpful to get them talking about themselves before shit hits the fan, although in general I think it does on just a hair too long and the setting itself falls out for me--they get in line, they get really engaged in talking, oops all the food is gone. It's the sort of conversation that I think could happen anywhere and the plot takes a backseat, which imo is mostly fine, but some environmental details there might've helped ground things a bit.
Yeah. I'll think about that going forward. I am more of a dialogue-heavy writer so sometimes I get too lost in my head.
I'm not super sold on the covid parallels, especially with the knowledge that they could just take the eagles to mordor take the navy ships anywhere else. If there's an existing refugee handling system in place, I'm surprised anyone would choose to say? Like even the covid deniers would probably have a better time being 100% sure covid is a hoax from the safety of a place where there's guaranteed, literally visibly, no apocalypse happening. The government being cruel and shitty tracks, but the fact that there's actually a way to guarantee everyone's safety and he's choosing to ignore it is borderline cartoonishly evil--it's easy for covid to get walked around because for the most part people are fine until oops they have covid; it's a lot harder to argue that the economy can and should go on in a complete lack of light. I think this is closer to an environmental disaster, where even the shittier politicians pose over the rubble and throw toilet paper into the crowd, but it's not like there were hoards of people chanting that they needed to reopen New Orleans after Katrina or something.

(I think an easy-ish solution here would be to actually lean into the environmental disaster angle--this is our home; we need to protect it; it's dying; we have a patriotic duty to the lands that birthed us and the corporations that were birthed in turn. There are hundred of brave heroes working around the clock to protect what we love about our home, the wild pokemon who need the sun, the plants that are freezing--and you, even you, person who sells pyukumuku-themed ice cream cones a tourist shack, are necessary to keep them healthy and fed so that we can get through this together. also we've redirected rations to the essential brave personnel, so everyday citizens, such as you, person who sells pyukumuku-themed ice cream cones at a tourist shack, will have to do without for a little while. Unsure. I expect the world to prove me wrong within a year but I find it difficult that people wouldn't just choose to fucking yeet if the Navy is offering them trips out (implying there's a safe refugee camp elsewhere) and the alternative is gearing up to starve to death)
I like this a lot. I think I will rewrite part of the governor's appeal. It also adds some tensions to Arc 4, the inherent patriotism of those who left vs those who stayed. The governor might accidentally hand Skull their best rhetorical weapon yet lol.
But all in all I really enjoyed this one. It's the unique feeling of "oh good, Lyra has friends" and "oh no, Lyra's making friends" that I didn't really get in the first read. Good shit.
I do love me some dramatic irony.
I like the tension created here with psychics being good, but later an ampharos is used and seems really effective, and in general I'm not sure why psychics would have an edge on "unnatural" darkness that an electric/fire-type wouldn't.
Yeah, uh. Maybe I should have given her an ampharos? At least for the arc. But then that negates some of the darkness related troubles... I'll think on it.
1.4 period
i really really liked this one and am in no way biased as a trans.
Idk you're allowed to be biased. Source: Also a tran.
i'll just get that part out of the way: i really loved the way you went about the gender aspect of this chapter. i'm not surprised by how good it is but i am impressed. i haven't read all that many trans characters, so my sample size here isn't huge, but most of the trans stuff i've read i haven't really enjoyed that much. i feel like there's a tendency to center transness as either deeply tragic or intensely empowering, and whatever the case there's often a strong Weird undercurrent to it. i think the trans experience and gender in general can of course be those things, but especially for someone like me, most of the time it isn't. it's just something weird that i mostly experience in the way it makes me feel (sometimes good, often bad) and the way it grabs my attention in the weirdest ways. i think you really nail that here. i especially liked the way that he'd be thinking about normal stuff and then suddenly he's just Reminded Of Gender by something like his reflection or the sound of his voice and he starts to spiral a little bit. kekoa is a guy that's going through it and has a body he doesn't like but he's vaguely hopeful for the future and he's doing what he can. even though he's a grouchy and pretty assertive, he just doesn't have the energy to fight these fights most of the time. overall it's, like, not this huge character-defining deal, it's just a thing he has to deal with and he has to deal with it privately. it's a whole layer to the world that for the most part only he is really aware of. it all just felt very true to life and to my experience, and i haven't read something like that before, so i really appreciated getting to and was a little enraptured by it.
I am trans and, like, it's just a thing? I can forget about it some days when I stay off Twitter. Early on it was a lot more all-consuming, though. Dysphoria's a bitch.
moving on from that, i thought kekoa's voice was very strong—i think i'd say the strongest human voice in the fic so far—and you did a good job conveying both his level of expertise and his attitude. i enjoyed the way that he'd frequently think of something and then go, eh, i won't be the one to do this, like telling their referee to buck up or running back to apologize to cuicatl. it was a nice idiosyncracy and felt mature and immature at once.
He is a teenager
there was a lot of battling in this chapter and i found your style of writing battles unique. they were strategic in a way that sort of evoked the irl metagame but were easy enough to follow and grounded in the environment and in the characters, what with cuicatl's blindness and the way pixie's attack distracted kekoa. a problem i have in battles is that the attacks are sort of vaguely defined in the way that anime magic often is, so it's kind of hard for me to really engage because i don't properly understand the rules and it ends up just being spectacle. like cool, there's stuff going on that i can objectively identify as strategic in world and there's cool lasers and shit, but i can't properly get into it if that makes sense. the way that this style sort of evoked a sense of the rules i am familiar with made it much more gripping for me. i'm looking forward to seeing how that pans out in future, presumably more complex battles.
I'll keep this in mind going forward.
i also liked the worldbuilding here. it was nice getting an alolan perspective and i thought the stuff about the keokeo was cool. it's interesting to have this dynamic where he sort of reveres this little fluffy diva that his traveling companion is using as a battle thrall. curious to see where it goes. it was cool zooming out on the world too, hearing references to their heritages and anahuac. i got the impression from the comment about the resort that alola remains an independent kingdom...? curious about that, because i feel like i recall from the aloladex that it does have a relationship with the US somehow. autonomous colony maybe?
Alola in this fic is more or less in the legal situation of Puerto Rico IRL. Kekoa sees Alola as an occupied independent nation.
he sounds really experienced. i wonder if he went to training school or if he just has a sharp intuition or what.
He's done some research and talked to people who know what they're doing. This is something he'd been planning for a while.
this made me laugh for some reason. i've never actually thought about prize money in terms of usd so it just sounds hilariously low. that gets you what in hawaii, like a single gumball
Champion Cynthia handed over $20!
😕


😕😕😕
:(
wow. i wonder if pixie's ego is because of this or if it's unrelated. what am i saying, of course it's unrelated, she just knows her worth.
They're related in that humans recognized how awesome ninetales were and made them gods.
i always think this. how the hell do people survive in the heartland? surely this is why they drink so much in ohio.
Am from Indiana. Can confirm.
stray slash?
Supposed to be a voice crack.
1.5 until the world moves on
well, that was fucking rough.
That's rough buddy.
i have less to say about this one because there's less going on outside the narrator's brain than the last one, and i don't feel as comfortable relating my experience with the issues, heh. but i wanna say that i think it was really well done, super real and deeply moving without ever slipping into melodrama. the perspective is surprisingly rational despite everything. she's able to assess what she's doing somewhat objectively and identify the negative self-talk as not really herself. but that doesn't make it any easier. i enjoyed the ways that her psychic abilities factored into it too. it's really impressive how hard you make the stuff with achcauhtli in such a short time. just really devastating stuff all around and impressively written.
Honestly 1.5 is still one of the chapters I'm proudest of, even if it's really dark and I was sobbing the whole time I was writing it. I think there's a stigma against writing suicidal ideation. I've personally never seen it depicted in a way that really captured the competing impulses screaming at you to live or die.
it was nice getting to see rachel again, i didn't expect to. despite the narration's insistence otherwise, i get the impression that cuicatl isn't particularly discreet about her emotional state, and rachel's psychic abilities probably don't hurt as far as figuring it out goes. her concern feels real, and her respect for cuicatl's boundaries are... respectable. but she's still a bit of a dick here sometimes, snapping at cuicatl from time to time. the frustration kind of feels real, it's like... you're really concerned for the person and are trying to help so that blasé attitude can be grating even though intellectually you know that expressing frustration at someone in that state is the last thing you want to do.
Her abilities actually aren't that useful here. She's just good at reading people and at a certain level of emotional distress Cuicatl can't really mask well.
it seems like this trip is going to be really, really hard for cuicatl. i feel like it was already going to be hard enough considering her disability, that seems like a big disadvantage in something like pokémon battling... but of course now we know her mind is working against her in basically every other way too. i wonder how she's going to manage all the walking she's going to have to do on so little fuel. surely this means things get better for her, because they have to, right...?
It's rough at times. Better at times. Even at my worst I still had good days.
some more neat little glimpses into the world here. i appreciate that tenochtitlan is tenochtitlan and not mexico city. i'd honestly love to read little vignettes just set in various places around your world, that sounds sick.
The Aztec empire was never really conquered in this world due to the AU difference of smallpox arriving centuries before the Spaniards. There's still Spanish influence in some coastal areas and smaller islands, and it's the second most spoken language in Anahuac, but there wasn't an actual occupation and genocide or anything.
is "ellasS" a typo here? also idk if you have an explanation for hydreigon flight later but honestly, if you don't... respect. that design makes no goddamn sense. fuck it.
According to all known laws of aviation, there is no way that a hydreigon should be able to fly. Its wings are too small to get its fat little body off the ground. The hydreigon, of course, flies anyways. Because hydreigon don't care what humans think is impossible.”
heatmor with fur is interesting but i kind of like it. love the choice of mon here btw. heatmor is very underrated and ant eaters are some of my favorite animals so it's cool to see them blast fire.
Huh. I've always seen them as having short red fur.
man. :( i wonder if she really believes this or if it's just her bad state of mind talking.
I don't know at this point in the fic tbh. They've only known each other for a week or so.
ohhh. aw. i thought she was misgendering him on purpose, figured out he was trans using her psychic abilities and was just tormenting him or something. this is sad for them both.
Most people seem to assume this and I don't quite know why. It's not like her translation powers would readily pick up on it.
1.6 through the city of fire
this was a nice chill one. it's good to get a break after how intense the last couple were, as promised.
This fic is just a constant wave of intense shit and breather episodes. Kind of happens in a story about mental health. It rarely gets as intense as 1.5 tho.
i do think this one drags a little bit in parts. sometimes pixie's narration just feels like it's there because it has to be and ultimately serves to distract from the conversations that are going on. it's still delightful naturally, but i think the conversations between the humans feel a lot more important in parts and pixie's stuff is sorta just getting in the way of it. i liked when she's sort of contributing to the conversation in her way, by interrupting to ask cuicatl questions or what have you. i was less enthused about the part where she's mostly just thinking about it's hot while the humans are talking about stuff.
Hmm. I'll be doing some small edits on this chapter later today. I'll keep that in mind.
on that note i didn't really get the part where they're discussing the meal plans, i didn't feel like it illuminated any of the characters or provided any plot information and i'm not sure what would be lost if that scene was removed... maybe i'll eat my words on that.
Will also consider adding in a few sentences. A lot of the dynamic is that Kekoa is well read on surviving the trail and Cuicatl has actually been cooking for years.
i thought the conversation between genesis and cuicatl was interesting, there was some good worldbuilding and character moments there and i liked the way it sort of tugged at the tension that underlies their interactions. genesis just has all kinds of awesome stuff to say that seems to be bubbling just below her consciousness at all times. i'm really not looking forward to the inevitable blowout between her and kekoa. i'm hoping she changes for the better but i have kind of a hard time visualizing how that will play out... guess we'll see!
:)
it was nice getting sort of a plan for how the next handful of chapters are going to go. the payment for capture system is pretty interesting and seems like it'll provide some structure to their travels beyond "go do the trials" without having to justify a pokédex filling project that doesn't seem like it would make sense in this canon. if i zoom out on the pacing of this story so far, objectively i think it's a little slow, but honestly i don't mind at all because to me the character interactions are the most interesting part and as long as those keep delivering i'm happy—and they certainly have been. that said, i'm looking forward to them starting their journey properly now—hope to get into it next time i stop by, which will be soon with luck! i'm really enjoying this fic so far, you're a very strong writer and your characters are super compellingly written, i'm having a lot of fun and i'm glad i've finally started to make some progress here. apologies if i fall off the map after blitz—i suspect i'll end up binging this fic kind of soon, but i'll try to leave reviews as i go.
I'm glad you're having fun! Don't worry about reviewing every chapter, anyway. I rarely do and tend to just leave my thoughts on the entire fic or an arc of it as one stream of consciousness review.
stray slash here? kekoa seems sorta socially intelligent. he feels the most aware of this stuff, genesis being genesis and cuicatl missing the gender stuff despite being psychic.
Kekoa has his strengths.
wow. this is kind of an interesting system!
There are a bunch of quests in the Ultra games where you catch pokemon for some reward or another. This fic is sort of an Ultra Sun fic so I try to bring in stuff from the Ultra games. Like a wounded vulpix you nurse back to health.
nooooo. why does everyone in this fic gotta be kinda broken. hey, wait a minu
lol
that's one description of them. kinda want to read the mantine aloladex after this now.
You can! It's on TR. Just search "mantine" in the last few pages.
oh my god lol. i feel like the existence of vanilite &co actually would kind of make eating vanilla feel a bit weird. like if there was an animal that tasted like bananas or something
People eat pokemon in this 'verse. Genesis doesn't, actually, but pretty much everyone else does.
This is fine.
awww. she wants to be loved so bad. bless her.
Pixie is sort of a child. Her issues are a little different than the main cast.
It turns out I read a lot of this story, so I have some line-by-line reactions and some notes on the characters because the characters struck me as a big focus.
Yeah all of it.
Pix's fixation on the "only 2 pokemon" thing makes more sense after this bit. Realizing it's not a universal rule forces her to admit she was left behind by choice. Cuicatl, of course, does her best to disillusion her gently.
:(
Damn, cut off before giving Cuicatl's number, now I can't call her irl.
I just didn't want some random person accidentally getting called.
That's an impressively uncharitable viewpoint
But not an incorrect one.
Shades of Pix 2?
50 Shades of Pix?
I think the movie scene highlight's Coco's lack of sympathy for prey and her lack of self control
Prey are meant to be eaten, not listened to.
Cuicatl's father is a bit nasty huh. At least now I remember what she needs all that money for.
Just a bit.
Huh that's actually a really nice thought
And fitting given her family,
Words to live by
You miss 100% of the rams you don't take.
I wonder if it's like, a colored beam, or if it's just air distortion
Colored beam.
It was interesting to see Kekoa try to justify Genesis staying. He gave it a good try.
But he failed. So sad. Noci, play Despacito.
Oh boy Cuicatl I don't know about that one (this is going to be a problem when Lyra tries to convince her to rescue Genesis—if she even gets that far.)
Hahahahahahahahahah.
I wonder—would it even matter if it were the truth?

Aw man, poor Genesis, her parents and beliefs just won't let her be gay in peace. I like how Lyra dropped like every possible romantic hint, and she still didn't get it.

Her upbringing is even more sheltered/parentally-influenced than I imagined. Thinking about it, it's kind of hard to imagine she could have turned out any other way. If I were her, though, I would really be missing Cuicatl—and maybe even Kekoa—right about now.
She does. It's more prominent later on.
Sentence confused me. Are they producing light or not?
Light doesn't go as far in the apocalypse.
came back from where?
Extinction.
This makes me sad :(
If you're cold, they're cold. Let them in.
Kekoa is not the easiest person to like. I think this scene underscores a lack of humility. Obviously it's bad when other people catch finneon, but it's okay when he does it because birthright or whatever. And there's no way it's his fault that Makani wants to leave—it must be that Cuicatl wants revenge. To be fair, maybe that isn't completely his fault—like you said, it's a lot easier to get along with your pokemon when you can literally just talk to them, and even if you can, that doesn't guarantee they want to be trained or that they'll like you. I am willing to believe that he does try to treat his pokemon decently but may fail to consider that they might want something he can't provide. Like affection, for example. Keokeo respect aside, I don't think he'd have done well with Pixie. And I'm not sure it's totally his fault that he works with V-star either—I mean, when you need money, you need money. But it would be great if he unlearned his hypocrisy.
Kekoa and Pixie would've lasted a week. Two, tops. And the interplay of ethics and money will be explored more after the events of 4.1.
And okay looks like the conversation with Kanoa supports the idea that it might not have been his fault that Makani wants to leave—although the wording Makani used, saying that he doesn't like him, suggests that... he may also have just not liked him even from the start.
It was always doomed, yeah.
Man Genesis' life really sucks right about now.
lil bit
I think offering to beat people up is Kekoa's love language
Oh, absolutely.
Dang that's pretty bad. Cuicatl acts nice most of the time, so it's easy to forget how brutal her culture is. This is also a more honest statement than I would have expected—yes, we start a war on purpose, specifically so that people die, so what?
I mean it's just sort of what her culture does. She wasn't raised to think of it as strange.
I thought this was a really cool story/metaphor. Obviously, birthing more kits than can be expected to survive is a real strategy in nature, but it seems especially cruel when the animals involved are highly intelligent and likely to form strong attachments. Giving kits away to humans is one strategy, I suppose, but it's still quite harmful, as we see with Pixie.
Ninetales morality is a bit wraped.
Damn, florges is woke. Possible new favorite character.
Truly this fic's one hit wonder.
Genesis' parents are so over the top that at this point I'm surprised she hasn't turned out even worse.
Because they barely interacted with her lol.
I like Dr. Brinner's tangents. And also that he stood up for Genesis. Woo!
Dr. Brinner is the best, I hope he stays around--
This is very frightening.
Never mind.
My heart continues to ache for Inferno
I'm glad he has one superfan lol.
Did the snow change to rain between scenes? (I think I got confused by the switch from Cuicatl to mom)
A mistake resulting from edits. It was supposed to be snowing.
Metang only want one thing and it's disgusting
Disgusting enough to confuse a metagross, interplanetary murder machines.
Why is this robot character so funny
Because is best character.
This was an unexpectedly wholesome chapter. I thought Noci would be a boring character because they are a robot, and I guess they aren't that interesting by themselves, but the way they interact with Cuicatl is amusing and unexpectedly helpful to her. I guess if your goal in life entails keeping someone alive to spy on at any cost...
Noci works by dramatic irony. You know what she is and isn't missing and it makes it funny / sad.
I just wanna say, for some reason I found the "Really efficient" bit particularly cute—just how she's trying to complement her in a way she would actually find flattering.
She knows what robots want - efficiency.
I don't really know the plot of the games, so I'll just take this literally as my new headcannon.
It's a good enough summary tbh.
I think she uses thunder fang (it says sparks fly across the shell afterward)
Fire also makes sparks.
I'm not sure how beating challengers in pokemon fights is supposed to help with this.
Yeah tbh I'm not either.
Yeah this is definitely the most Coco response possible.

Whereas Pix is very set in her ways, Coco is very impressionable.
Coco is second best character, after Noci.

Really all of Cuicatl's pokemon are great.
Someone should do fanart of this
lol I'm kind of surprised it didn't happen tbh
This felt really important to me. This story has been going on for a long time with what feels like little change in Pixie's mindset, but this is a rare case where she manages to see some nuance. She recognizes that Cuicatl is not a villain, even if she is convinced she left her.
People change slowly. I'm trying now to show more changes. It's easiest with Kekoa, he's way less abrasive than he was before, and Cuicatl's going to get her moments soon.
I imagine laws governing minors are a bit different in the pokemon world than ours.
If someone leaves me, it's because I failed them. If someone stays with me, it's because they're too foolish to know better.
P much.
I like how Cuicatl has to change her strategy against the toxapex to account for Noci arriving later, and then changes her strategy against vikavolt to try to make Pixie feel special. It makes things a bit more interesting.
Yeah. Pretty soon her team is going to get good enough that battles featuring her will need interesting gimmicks. Might as well start early.
Noooooooo Dr. Brinner!
:(
I would have probably done the same thing for 300k. That much money is a big deal for working-class folk. But gosh, if tyrantrum are that dangerous, then I can understand why Kekoa is concerned Coco is eventually going to kill her.
Yeah. Lyra doesn't really understand how unbelievably large that amount of money is. She definitely wouldn't risk her life for that. Neither would Genesis. Kekoa and Cuicatl would.
He is changing, and he's going to have a reckoning soon. That's a lot of Arc 4 for him tbh.
Maybe neither Reshiram or Zekrom is entirely right . . . ?

I like how you found the parallels between Pixie and Makani. I'm also not sure there's anything she could've done to get Pixie to stay. That doesn't mean she was bad, and it definitely doesn't mean she was flawless. She'll be thinking more about that sort of thing going forward.
She'll be with Kalani for a while, yeah.
There's a Yveltal entry of World Myth Encyclopedia but it's a little mum on whether Xerneas is real or not. And yeah, sucks to be her right now.
It's a bold strategy, Cotton.
Oh yeah he was entirely in the wrong there. But there's also not much he can do. I don't envy him: being in a position where he's supposed to look out for the people and pokemon of the island but not actually having the power to do it.
You just saw a different side of her. Before she was comforting someone who wasn't essential to her business. Now she has to make business decisions where Cuicatl is a serious player. Just different perspectives on the same person.
I love that you love him so much.
I feel like in these later chapters, in a weird way, the characters have been confronting more extreme versions of themselves? Like, Genesis goes back to her parents, who are even more obsessed with deer cult shit than she is, and finds she isn't meeting their standards; Pixie meets Kalani, who seems even less charitable toward humans (or at least toward Cuicatl specifically) than Pixie, enough to even give Pixie pause; Kekoa confronts Hala, who appears even more bitter toward non-Alolans than he is; Cuicatal... idk if Cuicatl fits into this pattern as well as the others, but I guess you could say that Noci shows her the logical extreme of the "I am flawed and therefore I deserve to die" mindset (your friends might deserve to die too).
Hasn't really happened to Cuicatl yet tbh. For the other three, yeah, I like antagonists that are just what the protagonist wants to be. Genesis has devout parents, Kalani is Pixie in ten years, Hala is someone who cares and has power within the league but still can't actually do anything.
Overall, this story is quite a lot to follow, especially for someone who doesn't know much actual pokemon lore. It seems the characters were interesting enough to keep me reading, however. Everybody has a very strong perspective. They are changing, but slowly. I think everyone basically still has the same flaws—Genesis is still brainwashed, Cuicatl is still down on herself and has made no progress on body image issues, Pixie is still narcissistic, Kekoa is actually seriously starting to question things, I think, but only recently. The slowness to change is true to life, I think. It takes time to reconsider deeply held beliefs.
Things do change going forward. Arc 4 is a reckoning for at least Kekoa, Genesis, and Cuicatl.
 

Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
Partners
  1. dratini
  2. dratini-pen
  3. dratini-pen2
Less than twenty minutes to deadline LET'S GO

Recap

These are honestly so helpful, even with me having done an arc three reread for the edits. I just cracked up over Kekoa "met someone cool in the forest, can't say more" * slips on dark shades*

It did feel like Lyra wasn't fully integrated into these ones--Kekoa doesn't even mention her.

Rock 4.1: Hazard Pay

Oh wow, this was a big turn-around for Cuicatl and a desperately needed one. She starts at one of her lowest lows in the story, pushed over the edge by her guilt over what happened to Pixie, which ties into her feeling that she destroys the people she loves. Then salvation comes in for the form of Rachel Bell's decidedly non-altruistic offer. I've read the next one, so I know just how much this is Rachel covering her and her boss' ass. But as Cuicatl points out to Lyra, that doesn't change what getting that money means to her. I was really here for Lyra stamping over and trying to bargain with Rachel. It definitely checks out as the way she shows that she cares. It's even more impressive, since she seems to be aware or at least have her suspicions that Rachel's a psychic--the fact she's willing to stick around and argue despite that makes me think that she's grown fond of Cuicatl as more than just a ticket to seeing Gen. (And the fact that she didn't flip out when Cuicatl admitted to being slightly psychic! Wow. Of course, that lie probably means things will be even worse when she realizes the true extent of Cuicatl's abilities.) I also liked that despite Cuicatl's sort-of naivete, when they get on scene she's not afraid to start bargaining.

I wasn't sure what to expect from the Tyrantrum encounter but it turned out surprisingly wholesome. After Pixie choosing to go off with her Not Mom But Better Than You Because She's a Ninetales, Coco sticking with Cuicatl and vindicating her through his full and complete belief that she is Mom was exactly what Cuicatl needed. I loved how practical Tyrantrum Mom is and how she has her priorities straight--making sure her kid is healthy and that he has a good destroyer name. I liked how low-key destructive she was, without any particular intent behind it.

Cuicatl getting this money is really pretty huge. I don't have the greatest sense of the going rate for pokemon, but it sounds like her dream has gone from being basically an empty one, to starting to be within her grasp. I think a little more of that could have come through in the ending segments, but I suppose it's not too surprising that it's taking time for it to sink in for her. This does seem to bind her a lot more fully to Rachel, though. If she can make that kind of money running errands for Chris Mc Evil Dude's emporium of powerful pokemon, I'm not sure she needs to be running around on the island quest. If she can get the V License, it seems like she's practically guaranteed a lucrative position with them. I doubt Kekoa, for one, would be too excited about that.

Cuicatl as meme dragon girl is cute, but the increased media involvement feels like it can go nowhere good for her. The point about her accent being intelligible when she speaks on recorded media is a big red flag for sure. And Gen's parents are already not her biggest fans and they definitely have the reach to make her life difficult.

More soon on the Rachel chapter, which was a ton of fun--board meetings, whoooo!
 
Rock 4.6