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Pokémon Morphic Shorts

Morphic Bingo

Dragonfree

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Back when the anniversary event was going on, Negrek gave me a bingo card. I went on to fall asleep as I was going to start work on the last bingo fill, resulting in me missing the deadline. From there, the snippets I had written kind of languished. Tonight, I finally went and finished the final one, so I can finally post them, just for fun.

These are spun off from my 2007 fanfic Morphic, not currently on TR (but soon, a rewrite is coming), and feature its characters. The main character in all of these is Dave, who you may also recognize from the Blacklight RP. I don't know how much sense they make or how much you'd get out of them without the context of the fic, but by all means try it for kicks if you feel like it.

Although I wrote these in a different order (3-1-2), I'm going to put them in chronological order here because narratively they probably work better read in that order.



The Biggest Headline​

‘THEY’RE ALIVE’: DESTRUCTION OF HYBRID FETUSES RULED ILLEGAL

Dave shouldn’t have even picked up the newspaper. On the front page, beneath the headline, his own face stared towards the off-screen judge in silent, disbelieving outrage. Brian looked like he was about to burst into fucking tears. Of course he did.

He tossed the paper aside and sat down at the kitchen table, cracking open a beer. He sipped it while staring out the window, knuckles white on the edge of the table.

“It’s eight in the goddamn morning, Dave.”

He looked up. Jane was not looking at him, preparing her elaborately healthy breakfast with stiff, angry motions.

“Well, apparently soon it’ll be six in the goddamn morning, if we’re lucky and the thing acts like a normal baby. Enjoy it while it lasts.”

Her bowl clattered on the counter. “I swear to God, if you’re going to sit there drinking it off while I keep this thing you created alive—”

“I’m—” Fuck. He squeezed his eyes shut, massaged his eyelids. “Look, we’ll figure it out. I don’t fucking like this any more than you do.”

She stood there, rigid, lips pressed together. “Dave. I want you to swear to me that you won’t dump this all on me. Or you can do it alone.”

He took a deep breath through his nose. What was ‘this’ even going to be? Changing diapers? Putting out literal fucking fires?

He didn’t want any of it, but he was about one goddamn fight away from being stuck with all of it.

“Yeah, of course,” he said, without looking at her, and hoped to every nonexistent god that it’d be enough.



Studies Done on the Morphs​

Dave peered at the X-rays of Mia’s arms. There it was – the unmistakable bright metal edge along her ulna, brighter towards the elbow. Fuck yes.

“You know what this means?” he said, grinning at her. “Your scythes are growing.”

Mia wasn’t often anything that could be described as excited, but she did seem kind of excited about getting scythes. Or at least interested. Looking intensely focused, eyes open and unblinking, full attention devoted to learning more. She reached up for the X-ray and he handed it to her.

“Metal’s dense and absorbs the radiation, so it shows up brighter in the picture than the bone, which is brighter than the soft tissue. Grant can probably tell you more if you want.” In his chair, Grant raised a skeptical eyebrow. He’d agreed to do the imaging, never complained per se, but he’d always seemed kind of creeped out by Mia. Not like Dave couldn’t get why, but still. Fuck Grant.

Mia was examining the X-ray closely, looking between it and her arm as she rotated it slowly. “Those two bones cross over each other when you twist it,” he said. “That’s how your arm works.”

She nodded without looking up. “What next?”

“For the study? Well, we’ll be continuing to image your arm regularly, and comparing the X-rays to the scythe growth in actual Scyther, and the timeline of how it plays out. If the genes we put in you work like we think, we should see them growing out through your skin eventually. Probably a pretty straight edge in your case.”

“Why?”

“Well, Scyther are pretty weird, but they’re fundamentally tetrapods. Common ancestor. You know the green bit on the scythe? That’s basically just a weird forearm. The scythe grows out of their ulna, too, same way as yours. Only because they’ve been evolving into this specialized niche for millions of years, over time the other bone, the radius, just fused with the ulna.” He pointed it out on the X-ray. “Whole hand shrank and disappeared. And the fused bone grew into that narrow curved shape because it makes for a stronger blade. Sometimes you get mutant Scyther hatching with little hands at the end of scythe, the way sometimes you get people with tails, because all the genes for that are technically still there.”

Mia seemed fascinated, by which he meant she cocked her head, looking intently at the hand bones on the X-ray.

“What if you’re wrong about the genes?”

“Then you get something like Peter’s wings. The hypothesis was he’d grow full-fledged extra limbs, but obviously that didn’t work out. We’ve been studying him too, how and why they grew that way. Made some progress understanding what we were missing, too. Published a paper on it last year.”

“Are there going to be papers on me?”

“There are already papers about you. The growth of the exoskeleton on your legs was one, back when you were tiny. Fascinating stuff.”

Mia frowned, looking down at her feet below the hospital gown. “It’s stupid that all this science is only happening with us, because you weren’t allowed to abort us.”

“Yeah, well.” Dave winced. “People aren’t exactly going to create more of you just for research purposes.”

“Why not?”

Talking to Mia was still reliably an adventure. “Well, I mean, some of you already have a pretty hard time just living your lives. Look at Gabriel, or Katherine. And all things considered they’re lucky. I mean, you saw what happened with Peter’s wings. Imagine that’s not little extra limbs he doesn’t need anyway, it’s his actual hands. Hell, you could’ve turned out not to have any fucking hands. Good luck going through life with just scythe-arms. Deliberately creating a kid with significant odds of just constantly suffering, for research? Not great, by the standards of most people and ethics committees.”

Mia contemplated that. For all he knew she did think scythe-arms with no hands sounded great.

“What if you created them to not have any higher brain functions? Then it’s just like regular animal experimentation.”

Jesus, Mia. “Well, one, what the fuck, two, it’s not that easy, and three, at that point why are you using humans to begin with.”

Over in his chair, Grant was staring at them. Yeah, okay, maybe this was more than he’d signed on for. “Hey, uh, you want some hotdogs? We can stop by the stand on the way home.”

“That would be nice,” Mia said.

Dave threw Grant an utterly unapologetic goodbye salute as they left.



Morphic-Verse Media​

Jean leaned over Dave’s shoulder from behind the sofa, draping her arms over him. “Dad? Can I watch Pokémon Colosseum? My classmates say it’s so cool!”

He glanced up from his laptop at the muted TV. It was still on the news channel from earlier, discussing some inane political scandal invented for clicks. “I guess. What channel is it on?”

“OBS! It’s starting now.”

Sure, why not. He picked up the remote and switched over.

“It’s still on mute!” Jean complained, climbing over the back of the sofa and trying to grab the remote off him.

“Yeah, because it’s still on the fucking commercials. I’ll turn it on when the show starts.”

Jean pouted, glancing longingly at the remote as he held it out of her reach, but was quickly distracted by the screen and whatever action movie it was advertising. Some CG legendary Pokémon (Rayquaza?) fired a Hyper Beam into a building, shattering windows, sending it collapsing in an artfully-rendered physics simulation, before it cut to a flying superhero shooting lightning from his hands as his cape fluttered behind him.

“I wanna see that movie! It looks cool.”

Dave sighed. “Are you sure this isn’t literally the exact same movie as the one we saw, what, a month ago?”

She crossed her arms. “That one was about Auric Arrow. And it was two months ago. We haven’t gone to the movies in ages.”

“What’s the difference?”

Jean made a frustrated noise of discontent, butting his shoulder with her head. “Auric Arrow is a Lucario who was experimented on to make him super smart! You weren’t watching!”

Dave smirked. “What, and this one isn’t?”

No, it was a human!” He grinned at her frustration, and she scowled as she caught on. “Daaaaad, stop pretending you don’t know! That’s mean!” He got a faceful of fluffy tails as she turned her back on him.

“Fine, we can go see your stupid superhero movie. Later. Not now.” At least it’d be a good excuse to turn his brain off and eat some popcorn.

Of course we’re not seeing it now, I want to watch Colosseum,” she mumbled, without turning around.

Dave glanced back up at the TV. The commercial was fading to black at last. He pointed the remote and unmuted it. The rating badge in the corner said 14-LV. Was that stretching it? Eh, well, if her classmates could handle it, whatever. “Hey, show’s starting.”

Jean reluctantly turned back to the TV. The recap showed an edgy young hero in a blue duster triumphantly speeding away from an exploding building on a hovercycle, an Espeon and Umbreon sitting in the sidecar beside him. Jean was already mesmerized.

By the time of the first commercial break, the protagonist was making his way around an impressively seedy desert town with his inevitable love interest and their predictable sexual tension. Jean was so engrossed by the gritty aesthetic and occasional ‘shit’ and slightly bloodier fights than in her usual fare that he entertained the thought she’d entirely forgotten about earlier already, but when he muted the TV again she glared at him and edged further away on the sofa.

Dave took a deep breath. “Hey. Sweetie.”

She looked warily back at him.

“We’ll go see your movie. Maybe next weekend.”

“It’s not stupid,” she said firmly.

It really was, though. “Look, just because a grown-up thinks a movie is stupid doesn’t mean you have to think so. I’m sure you think half the shit I watch is pretty dumb.”

“Like when you watch old guys talk about politics for ages. That’s dumb.” She actually smiled a little.

“See? You’re a kid, you’re allowed to want to just watch some fucking superheroes blow shit up.” He hadn’t been allowed to read superhero comics when he was little – his parents had disapproved of anything where humans had supernatural powers because something something witchcraft playing God – but he’d sure fucking wanted to.

“But you have to come with me to the movies.”

He sighed. “Yeah, I’ll come with you.”

Jean nodded, grinning. “If you want to go see a movie with old guys talking about politics I’ll come with you too! So long as I get popcorn.”

Dave chuckled. “Sounds like a plan.”

The show was starting again. He unmuted the TV, and Jean moved back closer to him on the sofa, laying her head on his shoulder, and he ruffled her hair absent-mindedly.

The show got pretty dark towards the end. A Pokémon went berserk and skewered another, and Jean jumped, clutching his arm. He considered turning it off, but she was still watching, wide-eyed, and by this point he kind of wanted to know where they were going with it. She’d just say if she didn’t want to watch anymore, right? It had to be fine.

-------

He woke up to hands shaking him awake. Sleepily, he squinted into the darkness to find Jean standing by his bed in her pajamas, clutching her Teddiursa plush. Dave glanced at the alarm clock on the bedside table; it was 2:43 AM.

“What?” he mumbled.

“I had a bad dream,” she sniffled.

Oh. Shit. “Because of the show?” She nodded guiltily. He rubbed at his face. Fuck. How was he supposed to know? Apparently her classmates had been fine. Why was being a parent so difficult?

“Look, it’s okay. They can’t do any of that in real life.”

“Can I sleep in your bed?”

She hadn’t asked that in ages. At what age were they supposed to stop that? Not about to fucking tell her to wait while he Googled it. “Sure, Jean, just get on the other side.”

He closed his eyes and massaged his eyelids while she climbed over him and got under the covers.

“Does this mean I can’t watch the show anymore?” she said in a small voice.

He made a tired noise. “I mean. Do you want to?” He waited a second while she didn’t answer. “And then I mean, do you want to because you want to, not because your fucking classmates think you should.”

“I don’t know,” she said, sniffling again.

“Look, if it’s giving you nightmares now, maybe you can just watch it a few years from now, if you’re still interested.” Who knew if she would be. Jean’s interests shifted so fast he couldn’t keep up.

There was a pause. “But they’re watching it.”

“Yeah, well, they’re not you. If they give you shit, just tell them your dad said it’s a really fucking stupid show.”

She sniffled again. “Okay. Thanks, Dad.”

He heard the comforter rustling again as she turned around. Did that go okay? No real way to tell. Definitely not at three in the fucking morning.

“Good night,” he mumbled.

“Good night, Dad.” Well, she sounded a bit better.

With a sigh, Dave buried his face back in his pillow and tried to sleep.
 

Negrek

Windswept Questant
Staff
I'm really excited to see these posted! You did some fun things with the prompts, and I was tickled by how Dave-centric they ended up being. Lots of fun character moments here!

I enjoyed the little "top 10 photos taken before disaster" biggest headline short. Lovely dramatic irony in Dave agreeing to do some of the childcare in order to get Jane off his back when we all know exactly how this relationship is going to end. DUMP HIM, JANE. I was a little surprised by the paper having a photo of Dave's trial right on the front page, because it's rare for that sort of thing to be legal in the US (hence court sketch artists, and the description sounds a bit intense for a courtroom sketch!). Is that not the case in Iceland?

The fun pseudoscience in the "studies" drabble was great! Do scyther have endoskeletons as well as exoskeletons? Everything going on in this one-shot seems to suggest that, but that's some WEIRD shit.

Deliberately creating a kid with significant odds of just constantly suffering, for research? Not great, by the standards of most people and ethics committees.
nate stares directly into the camera

I enjoyed Dave's little background feud with Grant, too. There's a grad student who's going to have some scandalous rumors to spread. This one was my favorite!

As for the final drabble, it's always fun, and horrifying, to see Dave's parenting. Repeatedly mocking your child's interests sure is a good look, there, Dave. And of course he ends up getting swept up by the edgy gory "stupid" action show. (Always fun to see canon pokémon media as fantasy series in Dave's world!) I enjoyed Jean's physicality in this one, climbing all over the couch and smacking Dave in the face with her tails. Dave is so clearly fucking up here but also very clearly unequipped and fumbling around and trying his best... sometimes. Sometimes trying his best. These two are always so cute (and horrifying!) together.

Thanks for wrapping these up and posting them! I think they're a great addition to your existing Morphic extras.
 

unrepentantAuthor

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Hey there! Finally reviewing these. Glad you wrote them, they're really charming little snippets, and I like how each of them is so different and yet so consistently Dave. He's a great character for just putting in situations over and over because he continues to Dave really hard but it doesn't get stale. Very robust content.

He didn’t want any of it, but he was about one goddamn fight away from being stuck with all of it.

The first is the shortest, and that's alright because it oughtn't to be any longer to be honest. It's a snapshot, and it's an ideal snapshot that gets the job done. I particularly love how inevitable the future is, how it's almost already happened because of how obvious it is. Dave says it won't happen, but there's no conviction in it whatsoever. Oncoming train vibes, honestly. The line I quoted up there really sinks it, considering he's painfully on the money with that thought. Fuck, man.

Fuck yes.

“You know what this means?” he said, grinning at her. “Your scythes are growing.”

He's so fucking thrilled about his weird kid's weird biology, and it's partly scientific curiosity perhaps, and it's partly parental pride perhaps, but I think it's mostly delight at Mia's uniqueness coming to the fore even more, and very much satisfaction that he Got It Right and he's a fucking genius, and a little bit Dave being a lad who's just thrilled about fuckoff arm swords.

Not like Dave couldn’t get why, but still. Fuck Grant.

I really enjoy when characters know they're being a dickhead but they do it anyway because fuck Grant. Not because I even sympathise or anything, Dave is absolutely a little shit, but the frustration and the self awareness and the resignation are really tasty. He feels like an actual guy and not a cutout, you know? And this sort of content makes it clearest, I think.

Mia contemplated that. For all he knew she did think scythe-arms with no hands sounded great.

“What if you created them to not have any higher brain functions? Then it’s just like regular animal experimentation.”

Love how fucked up this is and I was thinking the same thing as Dave to be honest and I wonder if he's right and WOW Mia that's delightfully awful, thanks!

Dave smirked. “What, and this one isn’t?”

No, it was a human!” He grinned at her frustration, and she scowled as she caught on. “Daaaaad, stop pretending you don’t know! That’s mean!” He got a faceful of fluffy tails as she turned her back on him.

“Fine, we can go see your stupid superhero movie. Later. Not now.”

Dave you little shit. He's about five degrees away from making bad dad jokes and I kind of want to see that now. Winding up his kid in an inoffensive way is actually really charming.

Jean was so engrossed by the gritty aesthetic and occasional ‘shit’ and slightly bloodier fights than in her usual fare

This rings so damn true. I remember being a young teen and thinking that the occasional 'shit' and slightly bloodier fights were the hottest shit. Bless Jean. I love her.

“See? You’re a kid, you’re allowed to want to just watch some fucking superheroes blow shit up.” He hadn’t been allowed to read superhero comics when he was little – his parents had disapproved of anything where humans had supernatural powers because something something witchcraft playing God – but he’d sure fucking wanted to.

“But you have to come with me to the movies.”

He sighed. “Yeah, I’ll come with you.”

Jean nodded, grinning. “If you want to go see a movie with old guys talking about politics I’ll come with you too! So long as I get popcorn.”

Dave chuckled. “Sounds like a plan.”

These two are so utterly charming here. I love the dynamic. I love how they bounce off each other. I love that Jean is the most precious bean. I love that I can relate to both of them.

At what age were they supposed to stop that? Not about to fucking tell her to wait while he Googled it.

Oh man, this line really hits. The way Dave sort of seems to think that things should go a sensible way and there'll be studies on it all but he doesn't know and he realises that finding out is just the most unhelpful unparental thing he can do so he's kind but it's not because his impulse is to be kind but because he's fumbling around and trying not to fuck up. Dave. What a Dave. And of course bless Jean, and I'm glad she can now perhaps regulate her desire to keep up with the cool kids a little better.
 

kintsugi

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have I mentioned that Morphic is on my list of Formative Works that shaped my fanfic tastes? I feel like I actually haven't, and also that I should've.

a rewrite is coming
truly it is big brain to quote GRRM on a promised piece of fiction that's been in the works for years. 👀 consider my expectations subverted.

---

These three are a lot of fun. Dave is such a shitty parent, and honestly on first reads I tend to hate everything about him, but at the same time I feel like I get it. He's trying, but he's also just the Worst sometimes lol. But if he were a good parent then the story would've been over ages ago.

There's a lot of delicious irony here in introducing threads that we know are going to end really badly for people, but at the moment seem perfectly innocuous--Jane and Dave talk parenting, Mia's scythes, Jean watching superhero movies. My love for achron is showing but I think it's a great way to sow free dread into what would normally be fluff.

My organization on this got a little lost and most of the big picture things I wanted to say ended up in the line-edits. Really appreciated the pacing on these though; it's hard to pull off a short that feels both substantial without overstaying its welcome, and I thought these delivered really well.

“Dave. I want you to swear to me that you won’t dump this all on me. Or you can do it alone.”
Dialogue-wise I initially parsed this as "Dave, I want you to swear to me that (you won't dump this all on me OR that you can do it alone)" instead of "Dave, I want (you to swear to me that you won't dump this all on me) [because if you do] you can do it alone." That one might be a me thing though, and it made sense on second pass.
“Yeah, of course,” he said, without looking at her, and hoped to every nonexistent god that it’d be enough.
and the nonexistent god answered with a resounding fuck you.
“Those two bones cross over each other when you twist it,” he said. “That’s how your arm works.”
I love how he explains these bits to her, and how he goes into deeper detail on the scyther biology as well. Really fun takes on your scyther lore and it's always fun to see them, but it's also cool to see Dave actually getting to talk semi-proudly about his work. Easy to forget in the main vein of Morphic that he's an extremely accomplished scientist, since by the time we see him I feel like most of his passion for that has been pretty thoroughly killed. Plus it's easy to see why Mia's his favorite, and it's also kind of weirdly horrifying to watch him talking so procedurally about the thought processes he had while creating the kids he'd never actually meant to create.

do scyther have ulna/bones in general? I always figured they were based on mantises, so exoskeletons only, but I never really put together what that would mean for Mia if they didn't also have internal skeletons and she somehow inherited that lol.
“What if you created them to not have any higher brain functions? Then it’s just like regular animal experimentation.”
Mia solving ethics problems with wrong answers only continues to be the highlight of my day lol.
“Well, one, what the fuck, two, it’s not that easy, and three, at that point why are you using humans to begin with.”
"why are you using humans to begin with" is a question that I often wonder Dave's answer to tbh. Honestly my takes on the core ethics of Morphic probably vary based on the time of day; it's a fun knot to untangle when it's purely hypothetical and I think I can unironically argue myself into agreeing with pretty much the entire spectrum of answers for human genome editing.
Jean made a frustrated noise of discontent, butting his shoulder with her head. “Auric Arrow is a Lucario who was experimented on to make him super smart! You weren’t watching!”
genius. and excellent to see how well Dave engages with his actual child's interests when they don't directly align with his own (rip Mia)
Jean was so engrossed by the gritty aesthetic and occasional ‘shit’ and slightly bloodier fights than in her usual fare that he entertained the thought she’d entirely forgotten about earlier already, but when he muted the TV again she glared at him and edged further away on the sofa.
I didn't quite follow the "but" here--seems like she'd also be mad that he's muting the TV because he's interrupting her movie watching, ads or not, not that she immediately expects him to rekindle the conversation where he shits all over her hobbies and plants the seeds for her not telling him important details about her budding interests and/or superhero imitation plans because he's making it clear that he's not a great listener. really glad that second part isn't going to cause any issues in the future.
It really was, though. “Look, just because a grown-up thinks a movie is stupid doesn’t mean you have to think so. I’m sure you think half the shit I watch is pretty dumb.”
I do love how there's still good advice here--I really love to hate Dave but he's not wrong, he's just shit at presenting himself on the first try.
Oh. Shit. “Because of the show?” She nodded guiltily. He rubbed at his face. Fuck. How was he supposed to know? Apparently her classmates had been fine. Why was being a parent so difficult?
oh no lol
“Yeah, well, they’re not you. If they give you shit, just tell them your dad said it’s a really fucking stupid show.”
genius strats. I can tell Dave was super popular with his friends as a kid.
 
Last edited:

NebulaDreams

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So, it's about time I read a story that featured Dave, everybody's favourite sweary Poochyena father figure. I really enjoyed his character from the Blacklight RP, and it was a treat to see him here in his natural environment. I've heard that Morphic gets very dark in places, and while there are elements of that in here that are pretty harrowing, which I'll get to later, this collection of shorts seem to show a more relaxed side to it, and from the way it's sequenced, it even presents a mini-arc for Dave where he begrudgingly gets used to raising these freaks of nature.

I'll talk about each of these shorts in order. This will be more of an analysis since I don't have anything to criticise, this is all good stuff.

Right from the get go, The Biggest Headline delivers on the promise of its title, which not only serves as a good introduction to this series of shorts, it arguably serves as a great introduction for Morphic's themes and its plotlines to follow. It's pretty short in isolation, but it establishes Dave's involvement with the morphs, his relationship with Jane (possibly his romantic/work partner), and the conflict he faces. I found this line to be a nice encapsulation of the themes in particular:

'What was ‘this’ even going to be? Changing diapers? Putting out literal fucking fires?'

Of course, I'm intrigued to see the dangerous potential of these morphs, but I really like how this can be seen as a parallel for parenthood and how unpredictable and scary it can be to suddenly face all of that responsibility. It just so happens that these kids can slice your face to ribbons-- well, nope, those are just kids in general.

Studies Done on the Morphs
continues these themes and the social/ethical implications of creating morphs in a manner that Ian Malcolm would salivate at. I appreciate how the anatomy of the morphs has some basis in reality, and that the scientists have considered to some extent how it would affect the children being born and how they'd function growing older. It makes this discussion of Pokemorphs more nuanced than if the scientists were just allowed to do what they want without any repercussions, though there's still the question of why the morphs were created to begin with. Obviously, Morphic would explore that in more depth, but without the context behind it here, it's an interesting problem for the reader to think about.

It also calls back to the first short with the headline barring the scientists from aborting their experiments. I found it pretty harrowing for Mia to acknowledge, I mean, fuck, imagine having to deal with that burden as a kid and knowing that thousands of strangers will be examining your progress just because of the way you were born.

Also, I don't even want to imagine humanoid morphs acting like bugs.

Morphic-Verse Media is my favourite of the bunch because it takes a step back and adds a lot of humanity to both Dave and the morphs. Of course, the meta commentary on Pokemon is very entertaining, and I liked how it uses the franchise's different iterations (as well as a microcosm of Morphic's ideas with Auric Arrow) to discuss how kids get suckered into fads and peer pressure. Now I kind of want to see an edgy adaptation of Pokemon Colosseum (the 14-LV rating was a good touch).

Also, with the mention of Google and how Dave references being raised by fundamentalist parents (which also makes his Reddit atheism make more sense in retrospect), I wonder how much Morphic's setting parallels and references the real world, though this comes across as a more grounded take on the Pokemon world anyway.

My favourite aspect about this, though, was the dynamic between Dave and Jean, and how Dave comforts her and gives her good advice even if he's still the same old curmudgeon by the end. I also like the balance you hit with Jean's character, where she acts appropriately for her age by being naive and easily swayed by her friends, and she also reacts accordingly when Dave repeatedly insults her interests, but she can also be pretty sharp and willing to listen to what Dave has to say.

Coming back to the mini-arc, I thought this last one-shot was a beautiful way to wrap up this collection of shorts, since we can see bits of character development for Dave from story to story, so it leaves plenty to the imagination about what went down between each mini-chapter.

I don't have much else to say because again, this is really solid stuff, and it makes me excited to see what will come of the rewrite if/when you get around to releasing it on TR.
 

Dragonfree

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Thanks for all the lovely reviews, everyone! Responding to a couple of things that warrant comment/prompted rambling, but I loved reading all your thoughts and commentary~

I'm really excited to see these posted! You did some fun things with the prompts, and I was tickled by how Dave-centric they ended up being.
Ahaha, I didn't mean to but then this was all my first ideas for the row of prompts I picked. I was going to do some actual morph POVs I swear

I was a little surprised by the paper having a photo of Dave's trial right on the front page, because it's rare for that sort of thing to be legal in the US (hence court sketch artists, and the description sounds a bit intense for a courtroom sketch!). Is that not the case in Iceland?
Huh! We've definitely got photos from trials in newspapers over here, yeah - the vague inspiration for this interpretation of the prompt was a particular recent high-profile case that I read pretty detailed articles about, which had a bunch of photos from the trial. I guess I've heard of the concept of a 'court sketch artist' but only, like, from that time Last Week Tonight reenacted Supreme Court proceedings with dogs. I'm not familiar with whether there's any kind of law about what can be photographed during court proceedings or what, but the photos definitely included the defendant and his lawyer.

Of course Morphic is meant to be taking place in a more US-based country so that's probably more what I should be looking to here! Still enjoy the image, though. :P

The fun pseudoscience in the "studies" drabble was great! Do scyther have endoskeletons as well as exoskeletons? Everything going on in this one-shot seems to suggest that, but that's some WEIRD shit.
do scyther have ulna/bones in general? I always figured they were based on mantises, so exoskeletons only, but I never really put together what that would mean for Mia if they didn't also have internal skeletons and she somehow inherited that lol.
Yup! Scyther are weird reptile bugs in this universe. Internal skeleton as well as exoskeleton armor. Don't interrogate me too hard on the evolutionary history of how this came about but it's been fic canon since early days.

He's a great character for just putting in situations over and over because he continues to Dave really hard but it doesn't get stale.
He does Dave really hard all the time, doesn't he.

He's so fucking thrilled about his weird kid's weird biology, and it's partly scientific curiosity perhaps, and it's partly parental pride perhaps, but I think it's mostly delight at Mia's uniqueness coming to the fore even more, and very much satisfaction that he Got It Right and he's a fucking genius, and a little bit Dave being a lad who's just thrilled about fuckoff arm swords.
He's not really all about the fuckoff arm swords so much, but definitely thrilled about being a fucking genius who Got It Right. :P Dave finds actual Scyther pretty unnerving, though studies on their cognition really tickle his brain! Definitely appreciates Mia's external Scyther features mostly for the bit where they make her her.

have I mentioned that Morphic is on my list of Formative Works that shaped my fanfic tastes? I feel like I actually haven't, and also that I should've.
Aww, it's lovely to hear that, thank you <3

truly it is big brain to quote GRRM on a promised piece of fiction that's been in the works for years. 👀 consider my expectations subverted.
Bwahaha, that was not intended as a reference at all but I'm pleased it came out that way, that's great.

I didn't quite follow the "but" here--seems like she'd also be mad that he's muting the TV because he's interrupting her movie watching, ads or not, not that she immediately expects him to rekindle the conversation where he shits all over her hobbies and plants the seeds for her not telling him important details about her budding interests and/or superhero imitation plans because he's making it clear that he's not a great listener. really glad that second part isn't going to cause any issues in the future.
It's less that she expects him to rekindle that conversation and more that she wants him to know she's still mad, now that she's not distracted by the show anymore - hence the making a point of glaring at him and moving away. It's a significantly stronger reaction than her usual sort of vague discontent at not having control of the remote (it's not like this is the first time he's muted a commercial break), so he recognizes that that's not it. Hence, he'd been figuring she might have forgotten the whole thing by the time of the commercial break, but her doing this tells him otherwise. Maybe this could be clearer by not phrasing it as if it's a reaction to the muting per se?

It also calls back to the first short with the headline barring the scientists from aborting their experiments. I found it pretty harrowing for Mia to acknowledge, I mean, fuck, imagine having to deal with that burden as a kid and knowing that thousands of strangers will be examining your progress just because of the way you were born.
Ahaha, at least luckily Mia is all for having been meant to be aborted. There's a little bit of the other morphs referencing it in the actual fic but I should have more in the rewrite. Probably would mess you up when it's extremely public knowledge that you were not supposed to be born, and your parents fought hard for you not to be.

Also, with the mention of Google and how Dave references being raised by fundamentalist parents (which also makes his Reddit atheism make more sense in retrospect), I wonder how much Morphic's setting parallels and references the real world, though this comes across as a more grounded take on the Pokemon world anyway.
The setting is basically constructed as Earth-with-Pokémon (and in particular, the Poké-USA circa 2007); all existing Pokémon media is fictional media within Morphic's universe, so no actual canon is canon to it, just the existence of Pokémon. It's a sort of limbo worldbuilding because I want the reader to more or less assume things are like Earth unless otherwise specified, without prompting them to think too hard about the implications of Earth turning out more or less the same despite the existence of Pokémon. Because of the latter I tend to stop short of naming anything quite as specific as real-world brands/companies, but Googling is just such a ubiquitous concept I couldn't not. Religion and politics play a significant role and are basically lifted entirely from reality.
 

SparklingEspeon

Back on Her Bullshit
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Hello! Something something BLEC awards onto the review

It must have been like… four or five years since I picked up and read Morphic? I know it was a while ago at least, near the start of my ill-fated life-crippling pokemon addiction. I don’t remember too much of the actual events, but a lot of the characters still stick out in my mind; particularly Mia, Dave, and Jean. Which I guess works out, since the three snippets here focus primarily on those three characters.

I do still appreciate after all this time the semi-realistic tone that this world has. Like, sure, there are pokemon in this world and the story is about bioengineered mistake pokemorph children, but there’s still all the mundane things like research and academic papers and dumb TV shows with the fantastical premises we see in other pokemon things. Gives all the pieces from this universe a unique vibe of This World But Not Quite, which feels very distinctive when everything goes for High Fantasy or a Real Is Brown vibe.

These seem to basically be small snippets from before the fic began. I do think there was something of a connecting element between them, read in the order they appeared; in the first one, Dave is kind of just frazzled and realizing he has no idea what any of this is going to be like or what he’s going to do. In the second he’s taking it better, but it still feels more like he’s just gone “what the hell” and decided to tentatively roll with the punches, rather than having fully integrated with it. In the last one, it feels like he’s still reeling a bit! But this has become his normal. Which I think helped give the last one a bit of punch.

All in all, I think my favorite of these snippets was the last one. It felt more comprehensive in a way; while the other two were really more like snapshots, this functions well as something with more narrative coherency. I thought it was cute that the show used as a plot device in this segment was basically pokemon colosseum; of all the pokemon media it feels like it’d take pretty well to being a show/movie tbh, and it also makes sense that the media that’s canon for us would also be fictional in their world. Because it’s basically our world with pokemon in it, kinda. But I liked this snippet most for the father-daughter dynamic that it had going on, especially given that in the beginning Dave just didn’t even know what to expect. Now he still doesn’t know what to do, but he’s at least semi-good at it. Their dynamic feels to me like one that would read pretty rude to an outsider, but feels less so and more like their way of communicating with each other when you begin to understand it. I thought it was really sweet, and a lovely note to end on.

I think the other main thing of note to me was the scyther biology section that you included! It’s interesting, and also kind of horrifying, that they managed to pull an entire probably 200 page research paper out of just a tail growing, and plan to publish another one on Mia’s hand-scythes as they develop. It feels surprisingly well-developed and stable as biology, though the notion of vanilla scythers just randomly having hands rather than scythes hits like 3000 uncanny valley buttons and I shunted that image out of my head at lightspeed :unquag: :mewlulz:

All in all these were a nice read! Unfortunately I didn’t have as much to write about here as I usually do, but I had fun with them regardless. Even though you missed the anniversary deadline, I’m happy you posted them anyway; they’re very enjoyable snippets to read!

~SparklingEspeon
 
Dave and Jean Discuss Swearing

Dragonfree

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Time for a new Morphic short! With that, I figured I'd repurpose this thread to contain Morphic shorts generally, rather than create a new thread for each one; it seems to make more sense to me.

It must have been like… four or five years since I picked up and read Morphic? I know it was a while ago at least, near the start of my ill-fated life-crippling pokemon addiction. I don’t remember too much of the actual events, but a lot of the characters still stick out in my mind; particularly Mia, Dave, and Jean. Which I guess works out, since the three snippets here focus primarily on those three characters.
Awww, I'm touched to hear that! So glad you enjoyed it and the progression between the shorts :veelove:

Okay so I really enjoyed this. The snippets format has always been a personal favorite. They're easy to read and offer a great challenge for the writer and a great glimpse for the reader. Now I want to read Morphic lol.
<3 Thank you, glad you enjoyed!

Also quick question semi related but are the Gym Leaders canon to the Morphicverse? I should read Morphic to find out lol
Unfortunately, no Pokémon canon is canon to the Morphicverse, other than the existence of Pokémon; characters from the games and anime are also fictional characters in that universe (their in-universe media isn't exactly like ours, but has some kind of analogue to pretty much any Pokémon canon, as here with the Pokémon Colosseum TV show). So in RPs, Dave will see gym leaders and mayyybe recognize them as characters from some show.

Content notes: This short contains some strong language and loosely discusses bullying and discrimination.


Dave and Jean Discuss Swearing

It wasn’t exactly a surprise when Dave got a call from the principal’s office about Jean using inappropriate language at school. He’d generally tried to watch his language around the kids while they were small, but you couldn’t exactly just keep that up 24/7 forever, at least not with a few beers in you. He would have hoped she’d have the sense not to break out four-letter words in class, but who was he kidding; Jean had many great qualities but sensitivity to context and appropriate tone was not among them.

The lecture was the usual sort but mercifully brief. Jean looked sheepish and embarrassed the whole time they were there. Back in the car, she put on her seatbelt with her tails curled around herself, ears drooping, and stared at the dashboard.

He raised an eyebrow at her. “So what exactly was it you said?”

She stuck her tongue out, folding her arms. “Marie said her parents told her I was a lab-grown freak so I said to… to eff them.”

He let out a brief snort. Marie, Marie… Pritchett? He’d seen them around a couple times, he was pretty sure. All polite smiles until they were behind closed doors, of course. Pricks.

She looked at him, uncertain. “They all acted like it was really bad. But you say that all the time.”

He opened his mouth. What he wanted to tell her was that society had arbitrary rotating taboos on what words would have grandmas clutching their pearls at any given time, and sometimes you just fucking played along, no matter how asinine, because breaking taboos had social consequences, and sometimes that was well worth it and sometimes it wasn’t.

On the other hand, he had a suspicion that telling Jean that would be a disaster. Free license to offend whomever she felt like, according to her judgment of the situation, when half the population would be looking for any excuse to punish or marginalize her, and he’d so far tried his best not to force her to understand all the thoroughly depressing ways in which the world was out to get her? Again, she had many qualities but sensitivity to context was not among them.

“It’s a grown-up word,” he said instead. “So you can only say it when you’re grown up. I’m allowed, but you can’t until you get older. That’s the rules.”

She blinked, brow furrowing. “So you couldn’t say it either when you were a kid?”

He snorted. “Definitely not. Your grandparents would’ve killed me.”

She considered that. “When can you say it?”

“Uh, when you’re… sixteen.”

“Real sixteen or when it’s like I’m sixteen?”

“Let’s say real sixteen for safety, all right?” He imagined her never swearing ever again until her sixteenth birthday and then immediately releasing the floodgates. Surely she would figure out what was really going on here before that point. Surely. (If not, at least, zero swearing was probably a good idea.)

Jean loosely kicked the underside of the dashboard as she thought about it, still looking dissatisfied.

“Tell you what,” he said. “If you promise not to say grown-up words until you’re older, we can go get ice cream. How does that sound?”

She perked up, ears twitching. “Ooh. Yeah! Can we go to the place with all the candy?”

Instant eager, hopeful grin. Bless her and her easily shifted moods. He smiled back at her. “Yeah. Let’s do that. I’ll get you an extra spoon of candy.”

He started the car. Jean was a little more at ease now, ears perked, tails lashing curiously.

“Is… can I say it if I’m asking you about the word?” she asked after a minute.

“Sure.”

“Is ‘shit’ a grown-up word?”

“Yeah, better stay clear of that one for now.”

“What about ‘poop’?”

He snort-laughed. “No, that one’s kind of the opposite.”

“But they mean the same thing, right?”

“Welcome to language. Sometimes you’ve got two words and they mean the same thing but people think one is rude and the other one isn’t.”

Jean nodded sagely. For a little while she was silent, tilting her head as she looked out the windshield, tails idly curling and uncurling. “What should I say if the kids call me names?” she asked at last.

Dave took a long breath. “You know what, anyone who calls you names isn’t worth your time. Just roll your eyes and ignore them. If they’re choosing to be pricks, that’s their problem.”

Jean curled her tails tighter, looking out the side window. “But they’re being mean. It’s not fair if they just get to keep being as mean as they want.”

He exhaled through his nose. Of course it fucking wasn’t. The world was never going to be fair to them. If she talked back they’d just find an excuse to punish her instead of them, because of who she was, and there was basically fuck-all to be done about that.

“Well, Jean,” he said, “one day you’re going to be able to breathe fire and they aren’t, so joke’s on them.”

The corner of her mouth tugged upward, then turned into a little giggle. “Maybe when I can do that I can just torch anyone who’s mean. Like Sarah Hooter with the Rockets! Whoosh!”

She swept her hand for emphasis. He raised his eyebrows. “Sure. Why not.”

For the rest of the ride she eagerly speculated on powers she might have in the future and exactly how she would use them to fight crime as a hero of justice. He didn’t have the heart to tell her she would definitely not have the ability to curse anyone for a thousand years.

Ice cream now, and later he could call and give the school a hard time about the fucking Pritchetts.
 

kyeugh

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these are so great, i can't believe i haven't seen them before now. i don't have anything super incisive to say here, just that i enjoyed these a lot. the cast is in panic mode for so much of morphic it's really nice to just see them live their lives. dave isn't winning dad of the year awards any time soon but there's still a tenderness to his attempts to do right by these kids he didn't ask for. kinda gotta love him. really looking forward to more of these!

He’d agreed to do the imaging, never complained per se, but he’d always seemed kind of creeped out by Mia. Not like Dave couldn’t get why, but still. Fuck Grant.
laughed out loud at this. i love dave.

“Well, Scyther are pretty weird, but they’re fundamentally tetrapods. Common ancestor. You know the green bit on the scythe? That’s basically just a weird forearm. The scythe grows out of their ulna, too, same way as yours. Only because they’ve been evolving into this specialized niche for millions of years, over time the other bone, the radius, just fused with the ulna.” He pointed it out on the X-ray. “Whole hand shrank and disappeared. And the fused bone grew into that narrow curved shape because it makes for a stronger blade. Sometimes you get mutant Scyther hatching with little hands at the end of scythe, the way sometimes you get people with tails, because all the genes for that are technically still there.”
i really liked this bit of explanation, it was cool. i need more scientist dave in my life.

For all he knew she did think scythe-arms with no hands sounded great.
hey, it's what scyther's got and they're out there living the coolest lives ever.

At least it’d be a good excuse to turn his brain off and eat some popcorn.
does that thing actually turn off? something tells me he'd spend the whole time like 😒

Jean was so engrossed by the gritty aesthetic and occasional ‘shit’
i love the fact that jean is still entranced by Swear Words in true preteen fashion even though her dad is... dave.

She looked at him, uncertain. “They all acted like it was really bad. But you say that all the time.”
precious jean. dave would NEVER do something bad.

“If you promise not to say grown-up words until you’re older, we can go get ice cream. How does that sound?”
if she swears before her sixteenth birthday, goddamn it, somehow i'm getting that ice cream back from her.

She swept her hand for emphasis. He raised his eyebrows. “Sure. Why not.”
looooool. i guess he's lucky that she can't actually do it without fucking her mouth up. it is really funny for him to be so conscientious about giving her license to say "shit" but just freely gives her license to turn her classmates into charcoal. seems about right.
 

Dragonfree

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Awww, thank you for taking the time to read! Thrilled you enjoyed them.

i love the fact that jean is still entranced by Swear Words in true preteen fashion even though her dad is... dave.
People don't say it on TV! It's cool and edgy :o

looooool. i guess he's lucky that she can't actually do it without fucking her mouth up. it is really funny for him to be so conscientious about giving her license to say "shit" but just freely gives her license to turn her classmates into charcoal. seems about right.
This is set way before she had anything like the ability to actually do that, so right now it's just fantasizing, and if imagining fighting her bullies off with her fire-breathing sometime in the vague future helps tide her over he's like sure, whatever you say, Jean. If they do see the fire sac structure developing towards a point where she potentially could actually do that, they can start to get into why she absolutely cannot. (Didn't see the evolution coming, of course. In the base fic he casually encourages her toward this coping mechanism in chapter seven but then when she pulls it out in chapter fourteen post-everything he's like ahhhh,,,, about that)
 

Negrek

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Delighted to see this posted! Very cute premise. One of the most fun aspects of this story for me was seeing how differently Dave approached this conversation with Jean than how he would with Mia. The first part, where he was thinking about arbitrary taboos and social consequences, strikes me as something closer to what he’d try with Mia, albeit probably with more dire warnings about what could happen if she cursed, since she doesn’t care about social consequences. He might also think twice about suggesting that she’d be able to murder people under any circumstances, heh.

Of course, Jean is much more willing to accept that some words are just arbitrarily “for grown-ups” without further explanation than Mia would be. And at least one tactic that Dave uses across both is the food bribe, heh. I don’t think Mia would generally agree to not do a thing for years just to get a hot dog, but Jean’s fairly easily bought, it seems.

As usual, it’s fun to see how Dave’s own perceptions of the world color how he handles these situations, too. His frustration with arbitrary social rules and impotent fury over how the Morphs can’t even fight back against mistreatment without being deemed the source of the problem come through really strongly here. The answers he gives the kids are always so much about himself. He may not have given Jean a lot of great advice here, but I do appreciate that he’s going to complain about the Pritchetts. Use those asshole powers for good!
 

Dragonfree

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Another year, another TR anniversary drabble bingo! And as it happens, it's also Morphic's 17th anniversary!

This year I decided to challenge myself to do proper 100-word drabbles for these. I wound up not having the prep time that I wanted here so I wrote all of these tonight and I probably could've refined them better, but at least they exist!

Left to DieThe World Where the Good End SticksSneaking Out of House Arrest
Pokémon InstinctsPull the TriggerSchool Days
Lucy's NightmareDave and KatherineThe Fucking Pritchetts

It's possible I'll expand on some of these and/or write more of the prompts.

The World Where the Good End Sticks​

Sometimes he jerks awake and thinks he’s on the Kerrigans’ couch before he remembers. In between, he almost forgets that it happened. The more he forgets of that nonsense, the better, honestly.

Sometimes the kids ask him about the time loop. He’s picked out some good bits to tell them about. Mia is still picking at the bullshit mechanics of it and he has no answers to give. It’s made its way to their parents, too, but they still haven’t dared to ask. Hopefully never.

Jean never needs to know. Maybe, if he stops thinking, he can forget that, too.

Pull the Trigger​

At a certain point, the sensation of dying loses its novelty.

Returning here had to happen eventually. The drive is calmer. He feels nothing.

When he arrives, the same man is there. Dave’s had practice now, fired the gun dozens of times. But pointed forward, his hand still shakes.

Pull the trigger. Pull the trigger. Watch the motherfucker bleed.

The nausea is suffocating. He can’t find the righteous anger, can’t find anything. He just wants it to fucking end already.

The other man hesitates, then starts to raise his hands.

Before he can, Dave turns the gun back on himself.

Dave and Katherine​

“Of course she can do the schoolwork. Do you ask every student with a physical disability that? Jesus. She manages like a hero. You should see her coloring books.”

Katherine looked away, rose-hands in her lap, kicking her feet anxiously. The principal’s office was too dark, curtains drawn.

Dave cast a glance at her. “Also, she’ll want a window seat in the classroom. More alert in direct sunlight. Supposed to be covered under the accommodations policy.”

“We’ll see what we can do.”

School would be harder than Dave thought. But she’d do her best. It was all she could do.
 
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